Chapter-7 The Strength of Love

Chapter 7



Words are too weak to describe the feelings of Dallas Bain as he rushed with frenzied haste from the presence of the beautiful girl so lately worshiped as the queen of her sex, only to learn that she was the most heartless coquette in the world.

Never was there such a rapid transition from rapturous joy to the depths of misery—misery and anger, for how could any proud man bear with equanimity to be made a fool of, as Daisie Bell had just fooled him?

To be engaged only two days ago to Royall Sherwood, although of their intimacy he had had no inkling until now, and then to accept another’s suit with the most complacent smile and the sweetest blush, pretending a tenderness she, of course, did not feel—it was the most shocking thing he ever had heard of. He loathed, execrated himself for falling so easily into her wiles.

He was strong, passionate, and proud, and[Pg 53] only twenty-five—this hero of ours—so who could blame him for the pride and resentment that fired his blood as he rushed from the scene of his humiliation, not heeding the piteous cry of woe with which Daisie sought to recall him to her side?

He strode down the village street in hot haste, looking neither to the right nor left until he reached the beach, where he sought a secluded spot by the sea, where none could intrude upon his rocky retreat, and flung himself down to brood over his cruel defeat in love.

And any young man—and there may be several—who has been made the victim of a lovely flirt can better imagine than I can describe the tumult of his feelings.

His pain was cruel, almost unbearable, and the most intense longing came to him to throw himself into the surging sea and end everything for good and all.

But pride forbid the rash deed.

“She shall not know how she wounded me. I will not give her that triumph,” he vowed grimly, adding: “I’ll go to Sea View presently, pack up my traps, and leave before Sherwood returns to[Pg 54] laugh with his fiancée over fooling me, although it looks as if there may have been foul play somewhere, for why did he tell me she was a simpering giggler, when she is really charming in her manners? And why did he keep up a clandestine acquaintance with her, not permitting me to suspect it, while all the time he was courting her with such devotion? He must have been afraid of me, jealous somehow, though why I can’t guess, for men like him, with loads of money, have only to throw the handkerchief, and any girl he looks at will jump—only too glad of the chance. This Daisie Bell, with her rare beauty, will be only too glad to marry him, of course—even if she loved some poor man better. Bah! The whole business disgusts me. I’ll go away out of the whole mess before to-morrow.”

Just then, to his intense disgust, for he despised petticoats at that moment, he heard a chatter of feminine voices, which he recognized as belonging to Mrs. Fleming’s guests—the Misses Brown, Miss Nadia Lee, and Mrs. Poyntz, a jolly young matron. They peeped over the ledge of rocks where he was hiding, and the married lady exclaimed delightedly:

[Pg 55]

“Oh, there’s Mr. Bain hiding from us, the naughty man! Come up here directly, sir, and go with us after shells, and help carry our buckets and spades. I’m going back to Baltimore to-morrow, and my collection of shells isn’t half complete.”

In his gray mood, Dallas would have liked to have sworn at the merry quartet; but as he was a gentleman, he could not afford to indulge his vicious impulse, so, throwing away the cigar with which he was beguiling his gloomy thoughts, he joined the party with secret reluctance, execrating Nadia Lee when she said banteringly:

“How gloomy you looked when we were peeping over that rock at you—so dark and preoccupied—like Byron composing poetry.”

“Pshaw! I never made a rhyme in my life! Wouldn’t be guilty of such nonsense! I was just thinking how confoundedly lazy I felt over going up to the house and packing my things to leave to-morrow,” he replied testily.

“Oh, you’re going away? And so is Mrs. Poyntz. Our party will be quite broken up,” wailed the damsels; but he would not even say he was sorry. He wished them all in the sea, being[Pg 56] angry at the whole fair sex for the fault of one, such being the injustice of man.

However, as he was the soul of courtesy, he could not break away from their blandishments, and they led him such a dance along the beach in search of shells, that it was several hours before they returned to Sea View, Mrs. Poyntz having triumphantly produced a nice lunch with which the housekeeper had provided them. Returning at last, he fled to his room to pack his traps for flitting, though he had to leave out his dinner suit, as he could not conveniently flee without explanations to his hostess.

She waylaid him when he came downstairs, smiling sweetly as she said in an undertone:

“It’s twenty minutes to dinner yet, so come to the library. I have something to say to you in private.”

Dallas thought how fair she looked in her cool, flowing robes of pale green and white, with a pink rose in her crinkles of flaxen hair—how fair—and perhaps had he loved her, instead of false Daisie Bell, she might have been true; but, pshaw! they were all alike, heartless and vain. His bachelor uncle who had raised him—a noble[Pg 57] man whose happiness had been wrecked by a siren’s wiles—had told him so, had instilled into his mind a distrust of the weaker sex.

They walked together to the library, and then he said:

“I wanted to speak to you, to thank you for your kindness and hospitality, because I have just been packing up, and will leave before morning.”

“Indeed, I am sorry. You—you—are running away from that girl.”

“Not exactly. I planned to leave a week ago, and should have gone on business, you see,” vaguely; “but the charm of the place held me, somehow. Well, of course, it wouldn’t be pleasant to meet Royall again after what has happened, so I am going before he comes.”

“He will be so sorry!” sweetly.

“No, I don’t think so,” brusquely. “He has been distant to me lately, and—and—why,” irately, “did he keep it a dead secret from me that he was courting—that girl? Was it friendly?”

“Oh, I can explain it fully. He meant nothing. He told me you didn’t care to make the girl’s acquaintance, and he somehow was ashamed of his[Pg 58] infatuation with a girl not in his set. He went just to amuse himself at first, but directly she got him in her toils—as she did you—and he proposed, and, of course, was snapped up directly. I was sorry enough, I assure you, for I don’t like the match. She may be in love with Royall, or she may be taking him for his money. They say in the town she’s the most arrant little flirt alive.”

“A true bill,” he commented shortly.

“Yes; and this is what I wished to say to you. She begged me to—intercede with you.”

“With me?” and the hot blood rushed to his temples.

“Yes. Wasn’t it a piece of impudence? But she got around me with that winning way of hers that makes fools of all the men—and some of the women, too—and I promised to keep her secret myself, and to beg you.”

“Her secret?”

“Yes; that she flirted with you. She’s afraid for Royall to find out lest he break the engagement. And she cried, and vowed she loved him truly, though I fear it’s just his money. She said: ‘Oh, Mrs. Fleming, no one knows it but you and Mr. Bain. Don’t betray me to dear Royall, please[Pg 59] don’t; and ask him—Mr. Bain, that dear, impetuous fellow—not to tell of me. I did wrong, I know; but he was so much in earnest, and I was only having a little fun. And Mr. Bain owes me something for causing me that accident yesterday.’”

His great eyes flashed with contempt, and he cried hotly:

“Very well, then. I will pay my debt by silence. Tell her she need not fear that I shall betray her to Royall. I am as much ashamed of that affair as she is, and I wish I could say, as she does, that I was only having a little fun. But I was in earnest, as she knows, and so—I must suffer,” bitterly.

“But you must not learn to despise true, loving women for the sake of one false coquette,” she murmured, and just then dinner was ceremoniously announced.

The Strength of Love by Mrs. ALEX. McVEIGH MILLER

Status: Ongoing


Native Language: English

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