Nell of Shorne Mills (Chapter 7, page 1 of 5)


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Chapter 7

The laugh floated up to Drake as he sat and finished his pipe, waiting
until the party should get clear away, and his lips tightened grimly.
Then he sighed and shrugged his shoulders, as he rose and went slowly up
the hill.

After all, Lucille had only acted as he had expected. As he had said,
she had engaged herself to Viscount Selbie, the heir to Angleford--not
to Viscount Selbie, whose nose had been put out of joint by his uncle's
marriage. He could not have expected a Lady Lucille Turfleigh to be
faithful to her troth under such changed circumstances. But her
desertion made him sore, if not actually unhappy. Indeed, he was rather
surprised to find that he was more wounded in pride than heart. It is
rather hurtful to one's vanity and self-esteem to be told by the woman
whom you thought loved you, that she finds it "impossible" to marry you
because you have lost your fortune or your once roseate prospects; and
though Drake was the least conceited of men, he was smarting under the
realization of his anticipations.

"She never loved me," he said bitterly. "Not one word of regret--real
regret. She would have felt and shown more if she had been parting with
a favorite horse or dog. God! what women this world makes of them! They
are all alike! There's not one of them can love for love's sake, who
cares for the man instead of the money. Not one, from the dairymaid to
the duchess! Thank Heaven! my disillusionment has come before, instead
of after, marriage. Yes, I've done with them. There is no girl alive, or
to be born, who can make me feel another pang."

As he spoke, he heard a voice calling him: "Mr. Vernon! Mr. Vernon!" And
there, in the garden, which stood out on the hill like a little terrace,
was Nell. She had taken off her hat, and the faint breeze was stirring
the soft tendrils on her forehead, and her eyes smiled joyously down at
him.

"Tea is ready!" she said, her voice full and round, and coming down to
him like the note of a thrush. "Where have you been? Mamma is quite
anxious about you, and I have had the greatest difficulty in convincing
her that there has not been an accident, and that I had not left you at
the bottom of the bay."

He smiled up at her, but his smile came through the darkness of a cloud,
and she noticed it.

"Has--has anything happened?" she asked, as she opened the gate for him;
and her guileless eyes were raised to his with a sudden anxiety. "Are
you ill--or--or overtired? Ah, yes! that must be it. I am so sorry!"

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