The Courtship of Morrice Buckler by A. E. W. Mason

The Courtship of Morrice Buckler by A. E. W. Mason

Author:A. E. W. Mason
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 9781620138069
Publisher: Duke Classics

Chapter XII - Lady Tracy


Outside the house I came face to face with the original of the miniature. So startled and surprised was I by her unexpected appearance that I could not repress an exclamation, and she turned her eyes full upon me. She was seated upon a horse, while a mounted groom behind her held the bridle of a third horse, saddled, but riderless. 'Twas evident that she had come to the house in Marston's company, and now waited his return. My conviction that Marston had handed the miniature to Ilga was, I thought, confirmed beyond possibility of doubt, and I scanned her face with more eagerness than courtesy, hoping to discover by those means a clue to her identity. For a moment or so she returned my stare without giving a sign of recognition, and then she turned her head away. It was clear, at all events, that she had no knowledge or remembrance of me, and though her lips curved with a gratified smile, and she glanced occasionally in my direction from the tail of her eye, I could not doubt that she considered my exclamation as merely a stranger's spontaneous tribute to her looks.

Indeed, the more closely I regarded her, the less certain did I myself become that I had ever set eyes on her before. I was sensible of a vague familiarity in her appearance, but I was not certain but what I ought to attribute it to my long examination of her likeness. However, since Providence had brought us thus opportunely together, I was minded to use the occasion in order to resolve my perplexities, and advancing towards her:

"Madam," I said, "you will, I trust, pardon my lack of ceremony when I assure you that it is no small matter which leads me to address you. I only ask of you the answer to a simple question. Have we met before to-day?"

"The excuse is not very adroit," she replied, with a coquettish laugh, "for it implies that you are more like to live in my memory than I in yours."

"Believe me!" said I eagerly, "the question is no excuse, but one of some moment to me. I should not have had the courage to thrust myself wantonly upon your attention, even had I felt—"

I broke off suddenly and stopped, since I saw a frown overspread her face, and feared to miss the answer to my question.

"Well! Even had you felt the wish. That is your meaning, is it not? Why not frankly complete the sentence? I hear the sentiment so seldom, that of a truth I relish it for its rarity."

She gave an indignant toss of her head, and looked away from me, running her fingers through the mane of her horse. I understood that flattery alone would serve my turn with her, and I answered boldly:

"You are right, madam. You supply the words my tongue checked at, but not the reason which prompted them. In the old days, when a poor mortal intruded


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