A SHOCKING LITTLE FLIRT
by Mrs. ALEX. McVEIGH MILLER
Daisie saw them coming, and braced herself for the rencontre. She was determined he should not see her flinch.
Stately as a young princess, and cold as ice, she received him, and he could not but admire her perfect self-poise and grace, though he wondered at such a reception.
“She knows me—her heart is not deceived. Then why not give me a kinder welcome?” he thought, not knowing of the false stories she had been told to turn her heart against him.
As for Daisie, she was thinking under her cold, proud smile:
“Where is Letty? Did he really marry her? And why is he masquerading under a false title?”
Fortunately for the embarrassment of the occasion, Annette’s partner brought her back at that moment to her chaperons, and Mrs. Fleming, with an air of proprietorship, presented Lord Werter.
Annette flashed her great black eyes at him[Pg 211] with so friendly a smile that he took refuge with her at once from the hauteur of Daisie’s manner.
“Will you dance with me?” he asked; and the gay little brunette, seeing a chance to tease the jealous little widow, replied carelessly:
“Oh, dear, no; I’ve almost danced my slippers off already. But I’ll sit out the next waltz with you in the conservatory.”
He gave her his arm, bowed to the other two, and led her away.
“Shocking little flirt!” Mrs. Fleming exclaimed sharply to Daisie.
“Oh, no; she is only tired, I suppose,” generously.
“You are looking tired yourself, my dear, and as pale as if you had seen a ghost. It is wonderful, is it not, that man’s likeness to Dallas Bain?”
“But we had better not mention it to Royall, poor fellow; for I think he is still jealous of the very memory of Dallas Bain.”
“He need not be!” Daisie cried, with a flash of spirit. “My husband need never be jealous of the man who could stoop to elope with your maid!”
But she knew that her whole soul was shaken to its depths by this rencontre. Oh, those dark, dark eyes, how their glance could wound and dazzle still! How that smile could thrill her very soul!
Mrs. Fleming looked at her curiously, and smiled.
“I’m glad you have learned to despise him! Of course, he wasn’t worth a thought of yours; and it was fortunate you married Royall and escaped him, wasn’t it? I wonder what became of him, though, and if he really married Letty.”
“The subject is not worth discussing,” Daisie returned, with her loftiest air.
Meanwhile, Annette, sitting out the waltz in the cool, odorous conservatory with her elegant partner, exclaimed artlessly:
“Do you know it gave us all quite a start when we saw you to-night at the opera? You are so like a gentleman we met at Gull Beach last summer.”
“Mrs. Fleming has been telling me the same thing, and I am very curious over my double. Tell me about him, do,” said Lord Werter, fixing his large, magnetic, dark eyes on her brilliant face, and smiling his most persuasive smile.
Annette played with her fan in sudden embarrassment.
“I am very curious to hear about my double,” repeated Lord Werter; and then she blurted out:
“It will not flatter you to hear the truth about Dallas Bain. He—he turned out badly.”
“Indeed? What did he do?”
“Why, he—he eloped with Mrs. Fleming’s maid, a pert little wretch, and—and Daisie and I had to help her do up her hair for a week before she got another girl to suit.”
Lord Werter’s voice was so stern it made her tremble.
“Do you realize what you are saying about Dallas Bain?”
“Oh, yes; it’s the honest truth, Lord Werter. He was Mrs. Fleming’s guest, and flirted with the maid. And on the night Daisie married Mr. Sherwood he eloped with Letty Green. Oh, yes; it’s true. They were seen to board the New York train just before daylight. Besides, the girl left a note to her old beau, a servant at Sea View, confessing the truth, and saying Mr. Bain was going to marry her in New York. So, you see,[Pg 214] your double was no credit to you, and——Why, Lord Werter, are you angry at my nonsense, or are you ill? Your face is as pale as a dead man’s, and your eyes are like fire. What is the matter with you?”
The Strength of Love by Mrs. ALEX. McVEIGH MILLER
Author: Mrs. ALEX. McVEIGH MILLER
Native Language: English