You do not love me

A SMOKING teapot and some cups of India ware adorned a table of
polished mahogany, the very best tea service in the possession of the
landlord of the Lion’s Head. And before it sat Lady Sunderland and
her intimate, Lady Dacres. Opposite, Lady Betty was stirring a cup
of chocolate. There was a little black patch on her white forehead
and another on the tip of her rosy chin, and her gown of gold-colored
paduasoy became her well.

A servant brought in a tray with some glasses and a bottle of
usquebaugh, and served the elder dames, who had been pretending to sip
tea. The two worthies were just from the cockpit and had won forty
pounds between them. Lady Sunderland, in a flowered brocade, with a
painted and patched face, could do nothing but simper, and even old
Lady Dacres grinned placidly, while the younger countess watched them
from under her dark lashes and made no comments.

“La, Betty, there never was such an obliging man as young Savile,” said
Lady Sunderland, sipping her usquebaugh; “he ran about at the cockpit
to wait upon us, and his wit—take my word for it, we’d have lost fifty
pounds but for his judgment of the birds.”

“Oh, he knows whose mamma to wait upon!” said Lady Dacres, with a sly
wink at her friend; “how sweet the young fellows are to the mother of
such a daughter.”

Lady Sunderland tittered. “There was a time when I thought it was the
mamma and not the daughter,” she said, with a simper; “but now it’s,
‘How’s Lady Clancarty?’ and ‘Where’s your ladyship’s daughter?’ and ‘My
compliments to the fair Lady Elizabeth.’ La, how the beaux smirk and
bow!”

“Now’s your chance, Betty, dear,” said Lady Dacres; “don’t make ’em
dance too long, my girl, we can’t be young but once.”

Betty gave her a cold stare. “I’m already married, madam,” she said,
and pushed the bottle nearer to the elbow of the old peeress; “take
another drop, my lady, ’twill sustain you under the blow.”

Lady Sunderland set down her glass and fixed her daughter with an
irate eye, but before she could give voice to her wrath they were
interrupted by the entrance of Lord Spencer. He came in with an air
of cool elegance, faultlessly attired, and bowing gracefully to the
three women, kissed his mother’s hand, and took his place with his back
to the window, overlooking them with an air of superiority that was
peculiarly exasperating to his high-spirited sister.

“La, my dear, what a happy woman you are,” Lady Dacres said, in an
audible aside to Lady Sunderland, “to be the mother of two such
beautiful children. ’Pon my soul, Spencer would have broken my heart at
eighteen!”

“Nay, you would have broken mine, madam,” Lord Spencer replied
gracefully.

She giggled and took another draught of usquebaugh, following Lady
Clancarty’s suggestion.

“Tell us the news, Spencer,” said Lady Betty impatiently, with a
contemptuous glance at the old woman.

“The king is better,” said her brother, with a drawl, “and the Princess
of Denmark did not go out to-day because of a quarrel with Lady
Marlborough.”

“Poor soul, she’s little better than a slave,” remarked Betty
scornfully; “is that all?”

“No; the news of the day is the duel. It has just come out that Sir
Thomas Compton shot and killed his brother-in-law last Tuesday.”

Lady Sunderland gave a little scream of surprise. “What? Shot Lord
Fraunces?”

Spencer nodded gloomily.

“And wherefore?” demanded his sister.

He shrugged his shoulders.

“Because he was a traitor,” he said coolly; “he kept his horse saddled
in his stable ready for flight, and two grooms at his beck; this made
Compton suspect him. So he went down to Deptford, on pretence of seeing
his sister, and he found the fellow was in league with the French party
and—There was a quarrel and he shot him. There’s an article about it
in the _Post-Boy_.”

“The cold-hearted brute!” cried Betty; “his poor sister loved her
husband dearly. Where is she?”

“Mad as Bedlam,” replied her brother coolly; “a man must do his duty,
even if it kills his sister.”

“Oh, I suppose so,” said Lady Betty, rising, “he must stab her to the
heart and glory in it—for his party,” she added mockingly; “a fine
spirit, sir, I admire it!”

“So do I,” he replied pompously, staring at her with hard eyes; “a man
must do his duty, like a Spartan, to his king, his conscience, and his
party. There are examples enough in the history of Greece and of Rome,
lofty—”

“Nonsense!” cried Lady Betty vigorously, “to the wind with your
examples. Give me a noble heart, a Christian life, a brotherly love, a
willingness to live and die for high purposes. Poor Lady Fraunces!”

“Oh, never you mind, my dear,” put in old Lady Dacres, with a titter,
“she’ll get over it. Grief doesn’t kill; her mother had three husbands
and—” she whispered a scandal behind her fan to Lady Sunderland, who
was so overcome with her wit that she rocked with laughter, wiping the
tears from her eyes.

“Your sympathy is quite absurd,” said Spencer, looking straight into
Betty’s eyes. “Sir Thomas did his duty. I would have sent a traitor
brother-in-law to the block, madam, quite as cheerfully.”

“And your sister also, I presume,” she replied, courtesying
profoundly; “from my heart I thank you, my lord.”

“Oh, la, Betty, drink your chocolate and don’t be a fool,” said her
mother petulantly.

Betty smiled sweetly.

“I thank you,” she said, “I have quite finished it. I will send some
more to my Lord Spencer,” and she walked out of the room with her head
in the air.

Half way across the hall she met a servant, the Irishman Denis. He
stopped her with a bow, one hand on his heart and an air of great
secrecy and gallantry, and he handed her a letter. She took it as
silently, and when she reached her own door she hid it in her bosom for
she knew that Alice Lynn was there. The girl had been folding up her
ladyship’s finery and looked up at her entrance.

“Everything is ready now, my lady,” she said, “and if it pleases you, I
will go into town a little way to buy that ribbon for you.”

“Certainly, Alice,” Betty assented with alacrity, “and here is the
money; and stop, too, at the haberdasher’s and buy some more of that
silk; and here, my girl, get some pink ribbon for that Sunday frock of
yours, I will have you look your best.”

Alice courtesied and thanked her, blushing with pleasure.

“You are so dear a mistress to me, madam,” she said tenderly, “I am not
half worthy of it.”

Lady Clancarty patted her cheek.

“Do you love me, Alice?” she asked pensively.

“Dearly, madam,” said the girl, simply, “and I would serve you—as my
family served yours—faithfully forever.”

Lady Betty sighed.

“I may need it,” she said, and busied herself examining some lace and
ribbons that Alice had just laid aside.

“I trust you may need nothing but my love and service, madam,”
Alice said; “may happiness and love and honor ever attend my dear,
dear lady,” and she went on talking cheerfully of the fair day, the
sunshine, and the gay scene without, for she saw a shadow on the
countess’ face and it troubled her loyal heart.

But Lady Clancarty said not a word. Instead, her eyes avoided the
girl’s honest glance; she blushed and paled like a guilty thing, but
an adorable smile trembled on her lips. Not until Alice went out,
closing the door behind her, did Betty move. Then she shot the bolts
and drew forth the paper from her bosom; she looked over her shoulder,
smiled, carried it half way to her face, started, and held it off
again, opening it, at last, under the window. The sheet was closely
covered with writing and she read it eagerly, and her hands quivered so
that the paper shook, and she fell on her knees beside the window and
leaning her arms upon the sill, buried her face upon them. She knelt
there a long time, the sunlight touching her hair and the beautiful
curves of her shoulders. After a while she rose, and going slowly to
the mirror stood looking at herself, the crumpled paper in her hand.
Her face was white as snow but beautiful, with quite a new and tender
beauty. She scarcely knew herself, even when she smiled, nodding at her
own reflection.

“’Tis he!” Lady Betty murmured to the mirror, laughing softly, “’tis
he! Oh, my prophetic heart—I knew it!”

THERE was a ball that night at Newmarket, but Lady Clancarty did
not go, in spite of the commands and entreaties of Lady Sunderland.
The elder countess was particularly anxious to display her handsome
daughter at the assembly, and nothing could exceed her anger and
chagrin at the younger woman’s obstinacy. By afternoon the quarrel
waxed so hot that Betty pleaded illness and went to bed, as a last
resort, and stayed there, too, in spite of her mother’s rage. Lady
Sunderland, who in a passion could forget herself and use such language
as only a fish-wife or a woman of fashion could command, heaped
recriminations on her daughter, and screamed and chattered and swore
a little, too, for my lady was a pupil—and an apt one—of the court
of Charles the Second. But Lady Betty was more than her match in wit
and strength of will, and she won the victory. When the hour for the
ball arrived, her mother had to go with Lord Spencer and leave her
daughter calmly ensconced in bed, defiant and triumphant. The Countess
of Sunderland’s chair was brought to the inn door, preceded by the
link-boys with their lanthorns, and the lady was helped into it by her
son, her very headdress quivering with rage and the color of the paint
upon her cheeks enhanced by the flush of anger.

“The minx!” she exclaimed to Spencer, “I don’t believe she’s ill at
all; it’s nothing but her obstinacy and some fancy she has about that
scapegrace, Clancarty. The saucy little baggage defied me, and looked
as lovely as any nymph all the time! Your father must see to it—there
must be a divorce from that creature, or next thing, she’ll run away to
France with him; she’s equal to it, the little wretch!”

“Never, madam,” said Spencer solemnly, “I’d see her dead first—before
she disgraced the family!”

If the truth be told, this was too much for the countess; she gasped
and stared uneasily at this self-righteous young man, who certainly
resembled her as little as he did the versatile and unprincipled
Sunderland.

Meanwhile, the invalid at the Lion’s Head had miraculously recovered
and dressed herself with the assistance of Alice, who viewed the whole
proceeding with amazement and distinct disapproval. She knew that Lady
Clancarty had not been ill and she looked upon the stratagem as an
unworthy deceit. Her mistress, reading her as easily as an open book,
understood the girl’s mood and said nothing to her. Instead, she set
her the task of lighting the candles in the room where she received
her guests, and seeing that the servant replenished the wood fire and
drew the curtains. Finally she came in herself, a charming figure in
pink, with a single rose in her hair. Finding everything arranged to
her satisfaction, she dismissed her attendant and waited quite alone,
standing before the hearth and gazing pensively at the fire. Though she
was outwardly calm, a storm was raging in her bosom. He had asked for
this interview and he was coming, and now she shrank from the thought
of this meeting with sudden trepidation. She bit her lip and stared
into the fire, but her hands quivered and her heart beat almost to
suffocation. She had thought of this moment many, many times—girlish
day-dreams of her lover and husband coming to claim her—but she
had never pictured anything like this. A proscribed rebel, who was
forced to see her secretly, and the man himself—ah, that was it! Here
was a powerful personality that she had never imagined; there was
something in his eyes, his voice that drew her to him with so strange
a fascination that it frightened her. She knew just how he would look,
just the flash in his gray eyes, the deep tones of his voice, before
she saw him enter. She struggled with herself when she heard his tread
in the hall and knew it—and she was listening with strained ears, when
the door was opened for him. But Lady Betty was not one to show the
white feather; she drew her breath hard and straightened herself, and
then she opened that fan of hers—a beautiful affair from one of the
India houses in London—and she swayed it to and fro shading her face.

Lord Clancarty came into the room with a springing step, his face
flushed and his eyes shining; he wore, indeed, the air of a conquering
hero. But, almost at the threshold, he halted and stood gazing at Betty
in amazement. She was still standing before the fire, slowly wielding
the fan, her face averted, pale, cold, her chin up. Nothing could have
been more frozen than her attitude; it chilled even his ardor, and
he stood, with his hat in his hand, and for a few moments there was
silence. Then Lady Betty broke it.

“I received your note, my lord,” she said, in an icy tone.

“The devil you did, madam,” he said, “I should think that I had sent
you a cartel—from your manner of receiving me! Faith, my lady, you
seem marvellous glad to see your husband.”

A shadow of a smile flickered in Betty’s eyes.

“A welcome kept too long grows cold, sir,” she replied.

He took a step toward her, tossing his hat upon the table, and
something in his face made her back closer to the fire; he saw it and
stopped, smiling.

“You do not believe in me,” he said reproachfully; “I would have wooed
you and won you, dear, but for the cruelty of fate. I am your husband,”
he added softly; “does not that plead a little?”

“A childish contract, a mere formal mockery,” replied Lady Betty, cool
as ice, looking at him across the candles, “I should not dream of
being bound by it—no generous man would base any claim upon it, sir;”
she told this falsehood glibly, though her very soul shook under his
glance.

The blood rushed up to his forehead.

“Have I based any claim upon it, madam?” he asked proudly.

This blow went home; her ladyship turned crimson and bit her lips in
silence.

“Nay, you do not know me,” he said, and his rich Irish voice deepened
and softened with restrained emotion; “I would scorn to base any claim
upon a tie not freely made—for you were a child—but I thought,” he
paused, searching her face keenly, “I thought your husband might win
your heart, my lady.”

She gave him a quick look, and then her eyes avoided his and she
struggled hard for self-mastery. If he had known it then—one word
more, one step farther—but he waited for her reply, and the wayward
mood came back upon her.

“Fourteen years, my lord,” she said, shrugging her shoulders, “and
then, you plead your title to my—my affections!”

“Fourteen years,” he repeated slowly, “fourteen years less of paradise,
Betty, is not that enough punishment for me?”

She averted her face and did not reply. He came a step nearer and she
felt his hand closing over hers.

“Would you have come but for the Peace of Ryswick?” she asked, looking
up into his eyes.

He smiled. “If we had won before,” he replied, “if we had only won—I
would have come, a victor, to claim you. Betty, I did not know you, I
had never pictured you as you are! I went to Althorpe like a thief in
disguise, to see you, and from that moment in the greenwood, I loved
you—I love you madly now!” he whispered, and she felt his breath warm
on her cheek.

She did not dare to look at him now.

“I love you,” he said softly, “and—does my wife care nothing for me?”

Before she realized it he had his arm around her, his lips almost
touched hers. Then she broke away from him, her eyes flashing, her face
on fire.

“You go too far, sir,” she cried angrily, “you say you base no claim
upon our relation, and then—and then—” she stopped, her breast
heaving, tears in her eyes.

He smiled. “And then? I would have kissed you,” he said, “by Saint
Patrick, I would give a kingdom—if it were mine—to kiss you, but I
will not force you to it, Lady Clancarty!”

“You dare not!” she flashed at him angrily.

His eyes blazed. “I dare not?” he repeated, “forsooth, madam, that is
an ill word to use to Donough Macarthy; I dare—anything! But I want no
woman against her will. I wouldn’t give that, madam,” he snapped his
fingers, “not that—for you without your heart!”

She was silent for a moment, but the expression of his face, his
masterful manner, stung her pride and angered her.

“You are a proscribed traitor, my lord,” she said angrily, “how can you
ask me to share your life?”

His look withered her.

“Madam,” he said, “I ask for your love. No loving woman ever thought
of valuing her husband by his misfortunes. I am a beggar and an exile,
my lady, and I have done wrong to sue for your heart. I see that—like
your father—you value men by their positions in the world!”

Her face was crimson. “You insult me, my lord!” she cried passionately.

“Did you not insult me?” he asked bitterly; “do you not infer that I
only ask you because I am broken in fortune and name—a bankrupt? But
look you, my lady, I cringe at no rich man’s door for his daughter!”
he paused, and his red-hot anger suddenly turned to ashes; his eyes
dwelt on her with an affection that moved her deeply; “I love you,”
he said, “I would have sued for your heart on my knees—but, madam, I
will take scorn from no one—not even from you. In exile, in illness,
in suffering, I have often thought of you—your face shone like a star
upon me, your pictured face, Betty, and when I saw you, ah,” he paused,
looking into the fire, “I love you still—but you are Lord Sunderland’s
daughter. He has scorned the ruined Irishman, and you—you scorn me
too, it seems. Farewell, my lady, you are my wife—but henceforth I
seek you no more. If you love me, ’twill be for you to tell the exile,
the proscribed traitor, so.”

Betty threw out her hands wildly.

“You wrong me, sir,” she protested faintly; “I did not mean to reproach
you with poverty; I—I spoke in anger.”

But he stood like a statue.

“You do not love me,” he said, his deep voice quivering, “and mark you,
Lady Clancarty, I will have nothing but your love—your love; I shall
take no less! I love you, you are my very own, my wife,” his tone was
masterful, “but I, who love you, I will not sue for your heart. I am
too poor, madam, I will not ask you to share an exile’s lot, you are
too great a lady,” he took his hat from the table and bowed profoundly.

He longed to catch her in his arms and kiss her, but he was too proud;
he bowed and she courtesied low, and in the dim light of the candles he
could not see the pallor of her face, he could not hear her heart beat.
Pride met pride.

“I bid you farewell, my lady,” he said, and bowed himself out of the
room.

And Betty fell upon her knees beside the table and laid her proud head
down upon it and wept as though her heart would break.

“Oh,” she sobbed to herself, “I am a beast, a heartless little beast,”
and then she wept again, this being the manner of women.

And she did not see the door of Lady Sunderland’s room open
noiselessly, upon a tiny crack, stay so a moment, and then close again
as silently. She neither saw nor heard it in the passion of her grief.

THE star of Lady Clancarty’s fortune for that week at Newmarket was an
evil star. For it was the very day after that fateful interview with
her husband, a day that dawned after a night of repentance and good
resolutions, that another straw turned the tide against reconciliation.
Lady Sunderland’s party had spent the forenoon at the theatre, and on
their way to the race-course they stopped at Master Drake’s toy-shop on
the promenade; a shop famous not only for the toys and trinkets of a
kind that amused the women of fashion, but for the tea that he served
in a little room in the rear, which was divided into stalls like those
in coffee-rooms. Here both beaux and belles congregated to sip tea, and
gossip, and raffle for some choice toy from India.

The shop, recently replenished by its wily proprietor, was a glittering
mass of novelties and almost vied with the famous India houses of
London in its collection of Oriental articles. Here were hideous
dragons of porcelain, snuff-boxes with jewelled lids, and canes of
the latest fashion, jars of snuff and pulvillo, and bottles of rare
perfumes, gilded flasks of cut glass, boxes of patches ready cut for
the cheeks and brows of the beauties, ivory combs and fans of wonderful
and beautiful design, delicate tea-sets and many bits of Dutch china,
first accepted because of the example of Queen Mary, gloves and laces
and even India shawls. Here, too, were toys, jewelry, cogged dice,
masks, dominoes and vizors, and here, as in London, the discreet
toy-men handed _billets-doux_ back and forth and made appointments
between the beaux and belles; and here many a meeting took place, and
many a momentous question was settled for all time, either in the
toy-shop itself or in the stalls behind it, where the world of fashion
reigned.

My Lady Sunderland and my Lady Dacres were no sooner there than they
were plunged in the excitement of a raffle for a hideous china dragon,
and almost came to blows for the possession of the treasure. But Lady
Betty, quite indifferent, stood apart talking to a group of gay young
people near the entrance. My Lord of Devonshire was there, and the
Marquis of Hartington, and in their train, young Mackie, upon whom
the Countess of Clancarty smiled; and there, too, was Lord Savile,
who had been at her elbow all the morning and would have declared his
passion for her had he dared. And she was in a reckless mood; her eyes
sparkled, her cheeks glowed, and she laughed and jested, though her
heart ached.

The king was well enough to be present at the race in the afternoon
and all the world was agog to see him. The throng at the toy-shop grew
greater as the people stopped on their way from the theatre to the
track, and the group at the door grew larger with Lady Betty in the
centre of it, sparkling and flushing and laughing, the picture of a
beautiful coquette.

“All the great men go up to Parliament next Wednesday, Lady Clancarty,”
said Mr. Benham, “and we shall see your brother shine as the bright
particular star of the Whig firmament.”

“A star—a constellation rather; the Little Bear of the party,” laughed
Lady Betty roguishly; “what will you do this season, my Lord of
Devonshire?”

The great man smiled benevolently upon the beauty.

“Whatever your heart desires, madam,” he replied gallantly.

Betty flashed a quick look at him.

“Will you indeed, my lord?” she asked archly; “what if I should ask a
great boon—even half thy kingdom?”

Devonshire looked at the beautiful, flushed face and marvelled.

“Even that, dear Lady Betty,” he replied courteously, “even that.”

“I have your word, my lord,” she said, and laughed softly.

“And mine,” murmured Savile, in her ear, “you have not asked—but it is
the whole of my kingdom.”

“Ah,” she said, and gave him a roguish glance, “I do remember—but not
your entire trust in my decision!”

He blushed crimson. “I upheld my honor then,” he murmured, looking into
her eyes; “my heart is yours—to break at will!”

Her expression changed, changed so sharply that he looked around,
following the direction of her glance, and saw the face of the man he
hated—the Irish Jacobite. Lord Clancarty stood just within the door,
his eyes holding Betty’s against her will. Savile heard her quick gasp,
saw her hands flutter, and he thrust himself between with a black look
at Clancarty. But Lady Betty, trying to collect herself, met young
Mackie’s eyes and saw that he knew. The blood rushed to her temples but
she laughed.

“My lord,” she said to Devonshire, “does your horse run to-day? or my
Lord Savile’s gray mare?”

Devonshire smiled. “Both, my lady,” he said, “and Savile will be a
bankrupt before night—in all but love, I suspect.”

“A poor substitute for a full purse, my lord,” she said recklessly,
without taking thought of her words until she felt rather than saw
Clancarty’s grave look at her. “I mean,” she stammered, “in my Lord
Savile’s case—” and then she stopped, covered with confusion.

Never had Lady Betty made so many mistakes, but young Mackie came
valiantly to her aid.

“Have you heard the rumor that the King of Spain is dying?” he asked
innocently.

“He has been dying for a long time,” remarked Mr. Benham laughing, “and
the King of France and the emperor are dying of anxiety.”

“Precisely, and but for our king there would be a war for the
succession within a week,” said Devonshire thoughtfully; “as it is, the
peace of Europe hangs by a thread—the narrow thread of a sickly man’s
life.”

“Yes,” put in Betty, herself again, “and Parliament is for cutting down
the military establishment.”

Devonshire smiled. “The people do not love a standing army, Lady
Clancarty,” he replied.

“No,” she responded quickly, “they would perhaps prefer a French fleet
in the Thames.”

“Some of ’em would,” said Savile sullenly.

“No, sir, you are wrong,” declared Devonshire, “no Englishman
would—not even a Jacobite—when it came to that. You remember how the
southern counties rose to repulse Tourville’s squadron in ’90?”

“You are in the right, my lord; no true Briton has ever thought of
seeing his country under the heel of Louis,” said Clancarty, suddenly
taking part in the conversation.

“Some traitors—who are not Englishmen—would, Mr. Trevor,” sneered
Savile, with an emphasis on the name.

The disguised earl shot a fierce glance at him and smiled dangerously.

“Little dogs snarl when they dare not bite, my lord,” he said suavely.

“Since the famous peace, sir, all the renegades and cutpurses talk
loud,” replied Savile, in an insolent undertone.

“Cowards always insult men in the presence of women,” retorted
Clancarty smiling.

At this moment they were interrupted by a movement of the throng, some
passing out, and my Lady Sunderland, having won her Chinese dragon from
all competitors, bore down upon them flushed with triumph, and the
chairs were called.

Betty stood a moment at the threshold. Clancarty was beside her, his
face quite grave. She looked up; the impulse was in her heart to speak
and their eyes met but his were cold.

“You choose wisely, my lady,” he said, in a bitter undertone, “a full
purse is better than a beggarly love, it seems.”

She flushed crimson.

Savile thrust himself forward and held out his hand.

“Permit me to put you in your chair, my lady,” he said, grace and
courtesy personified; handsome, well dressed, courtly, the very picture
of a deferential lover.

“A thousand thanks, my lord,” she said sweetly, putting her hand in his.

He put her in her chair and the procession started, Lady Sunderland
screaming to the toy-man about the careful packing of her dragon, and
Betty looked out smiling, more charming than ever.

A moment afterwards, Clancarty and Savile faced each other.

“This very evening would be propitious, my lord,” said the Irishman
coolly, “the same spot, I believe, and the same seconds?”

“At your service, sir,” said Savile fiercely, “and damn you, I mean to
kill you!”

“I’m beholden to you, my lord,” replied the earl, and laughed as he
walked away.

“Ah, Betty,” he said to himself, as he passed on toward the Lion’s
Head, “is a coquette worth dying for?” and then, after a moment, he
hummed two lines of the old song:—

“A second life, a soul anew,
My dark Rosaleen!”

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