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The Money Moon(Chapter27)

2006-08-28 23:19

  Chapter XXVII. In which is verified the adage of the cup and the lip.

  Now as he sat thus, plunged in thought, he heard the voice of one who approached intoning a familiar chant, or refrain,——the voice was harsh, albeit not unmusical, and the words of the chant were these:

  "When I am dead, diddle diddle, as well may hap,Bury me deep, diddle diddle, under the tap,Under the tap, diddle diddle, I'll tell you——"

  "Lord!" exclaimed the singer, breaking off suddenly, "be that you, Mr. Belloo, sir?"

  "Yea, in good sooth, Adam, the very same,——but you sing, Adam?"

  "Ah!——I sing, Mr. Belloo, sir, an' if you ax me why, then I tell you because I be 'appy-'earted an' full o' j-o-y, j'y, sir. The mortgage be paid off at last, Mr. Belloo, sir,——Miss Anthea be out o' debt,——free, sir,——an' all along o' Master Georgy, God bless him!"

  "Oh!" said Bellew, "——er——that's good!"

  "Good!" exclaimed Adam, "Ah, Mr. Belloo sir! it be more than good,——it's saved Miss Anthea's home for her, and——betwixt you an' me, sir,——I think it's saved her too. An' it be all along o' that Master Georgy! Lord sir! many's the time as I've watched that theer blessed b'y a-seekin', an' a-searchin', a pokin' an' a pryin' round the place a-lookin' for 'is fortun',——but, Lord bless my eyes an' limbs, sir!——I never thought as he'd find nothin'."

  "Why, of course not, Adam."

  "Ah!——but that's jest where I were mistook, Mr. Belloo, sir,——because 'e did."

  "Did what, Adam?"

  "Found the fortun' as he were always a-lookin' for,——a sack o' golden soverings, sir, an' bank-notes, Mr. Belloo, sir,——bushels on 'em; enough——ah! more 'n enough to pay off that mortgage, and to send that theer old Grimes about his business,——an' away from Dapplemere for good an' all, sir."

  "So Grimes is really paid off, then, is he, Adam?"

  "I done it myself, sir,——wi' these here two 'ands,——Three thousand pound I counted over to him, an' five hundred more——in banknotes, sir, while Miss Anthea sat by like one in a dream. Altogether there were five thousand pound as that blessed b'y dug up out o' the orchard——done up all in a pertater sack, under this very i-dentical tree as you'm a set-tin' under Mr. Belloo sir. E'cod, I be half minded to take a shovel and have a try at fortun'-huntin' myself,——only there ain't much chance o' findin' another, hereabouts; besides——that b'y prayed for that fortun', ah! long, an' hard he prayed, Mr. Belloo sir, an'——'twixt you an' me, sir, I ain't been much of a pray-er myself since my old mother died. Anyhow, the mortgage be paid off, sir, Miss Anthea's free, an' 'tis joy'ful, an' 'appy-'earted I be this night. Prudence an' me'll be gettin' married soon now,——an' when I think of her cookin'——Lord, Mr. Belloo sir!——All as I say is God bless Master Georgy! Good-night, sir! an' may your dreams be as 'appy as mine,——always supposin' I do dream, ——which is seldom. Good-night, sir!"

  Long after Adam's cheery whistle had died away, Bellew sat, pipe in mouth, staring up at the moon. At length, however, he rose, and turned his steps towards the house.

  "Mr. Bellew!"

  He started, and turning, saw Anthea standing amid her roses. For a moment they looked upon each other in silence, as though each dreaded to speak, then suddenly, she turned, and broke a great rose from its stem, and stood twisting it between her fingers.

  "Why did you——do it?" she asked.

  "Do it?" he repeated.

  "I mean the——fortune. Georgy told me——how you——helped him to find it, and I——know how it came there, of course. Why did you——do it?"

  "You didn't tell him——how it came there?" asked Bellew anxiously.

  "No," she answered, "I think it would break his heart——if he knew."

  "And I think it would have broken his heart if he had never found it," said Bellew, "and I couldn't let that happen, could I?" Anthea did not answer, and he saw that her eyes were very bright in the shadow of her lashes though she kept them lowered to the rose in her fingers.

  "Anthea!" said he, suddenly, and reached out his hand to her. But she started and drew from his touch.

  "Don't!" she said, speaking almost in a whisper, "don't touch me. Oh! I know you have paid off the mortgage——you have bought back my home for me as you bought back my furniture! Why?——why? I was nothing to you, or you to me,——why have you laid me under this obligation,——you know I can never hope to return your money——oh! why,——why did you do it?"

  "Because I——love you, Anthea, have loved you from the first. Because everything I possess in this world is yours——even as I am."

  "You forget!" she broke in proudly, "you forget——"

  "Everything but my love for you, Anthea,——everything but that I want you for my wife. I'm not much of a fellow, I know, but——could you learn to——love me enough to——marry me——some day, Anthea?"

  "Would you have——dared to say this to me——before to-night?——before your money had bought back the roof over my head? Oh! haven't I been humiliated enough? You——you have taken from me the only thing I had left——my independence,——stolen it from me! Oh! hadn't I been shamed enough?"

  Now, as she spoke, she saw that his eyes were grown suddenly big and fierce, and, in that moment, her hands were caught in his powerful clasp.

  "Let me go!" she cried.

  "No," said he, shaking his head, "not until you tell me if you——love me. Speak, Anthea."

  "Loose my hands!" She threw up her head proudly, and her eyes gleamed, and her cheeks flamed with sudden anger. "Loose me!" she repeated. But Bellew only shook his head, and his chin seemed rather more prominent than usual, as he answered:

  "Tell me that you love me, or that you hate me——whichever it is, but, until you do——"

  "You——hurt me!" said she, and then, as his fingers relaxed,——with a sudden passionate cry, she had broken free; but, even so, he had caught and swept her up in his arms, and held her close against his breast. And now, feeling the hopelessness of further struggle, she lay passive, while her eyes flamed up into his, and his eyes looked down into hers. Her long, thick hair had come loose, and now with a sudden, quick gesture, she drew it across her face, veiling it from him; wherefore, he stooped his head above those lustrous tresses.

  "Anthea!" he murmured, and the masterful voice was strangely hesitating, and the masterful arms about her were wonderfully gentle, "Anthea——do you——love me?" Lower he bent, and lower, until his lips touched her hair, until beneath that fragrant veil, his mouth sought, and found, hers, and, in that breathless moment, he felt them quiver responsive to his caress. And then, he had set her down, she was free, and he was looking at her with a new-found radiance in his eyes.

  "Anthea!" he said, wonderingly, "why then——you do——?" But, as he spoke, she hid her face in her hands.

  "Anthea!" he repeated.

  "Oh!" she whispered, "I——hate you!——despise you! Oh! you shall be paid back,——every penny,——every farthing, and——very soon! Next week——I marry Mr. Cassilis!"

  And so, she turned, and fled away, and left him standing there amid the roses.

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