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The Seaside Novelette
by [?]

“Tut, tut,” said Lord Beltravers impatiently. “I beg your pardon,” he added at once, “I should have controlled myself. That being so,” he went on, “I have the honour to make to you, Miss French, an offer of marriage. May I hope?”

Gwendolen put her hand suddenly to her heart. The shock was too much for her fresh young innocence. She was not really engaged to Giles Earwaker, though he, too, was hoping; and the only three times that Thomas Ritson had kissed her she had threatened to box his ears.

“Lord Beltravers,” she began—-

“Call me Beltravers,” he begged.

“Beltravers, I love you. I give you a simple maiden’s heart.”

“My darling!” he cried, clasping her thumb impulsively. “Then we are affianced.”

He slipped a ring off his finger and fitted it affectionately on two of hers.

“Wear this,” he said gravely. “It was my mother’s. She was a de Dindigul. See, this is their crest–a roe-less herring over the motto Dans l’huile.” Observing that she looked puzzled he translated the noble French words to her. “And now let us go in. Another dance is beginning. May I beg for the honour?”

“Beltravers,” she whispered lovingly.


The next dance was at its height. In a dream of happiness Gwendolen revolved with closed eyes round Lord Beltravers, of Beltravers Castle, Beltravers.

Suddenly above the music rose a voice, commanding, threatening.

“Stop!” cried the Lady Beltravers.

As if by magic the band ceased and all the dancers were still.

“There is an intruder here,” said Lady Beltravers in a cold voice. “A milkmaid, a common farmer’s daughter. Gwendolen French, leave my house this instant!”

Dazed, hardly knowing what she did, Gwendolen moved forward. In an instant Lord Beltravers was after her.

“No, mother,” he said, with the utmost dignity. “Not a common milkmaid, but the future Lady Beltravers.”

An indescribable thrill of emotion ran through the crowded ball-room. Lord Hobble’s stud fell out; and Lady Susan Golightly hurried across the room and fainted in the arms of Sir James Batt.

“What!” cried the Lady Beltravers. “My son, the last of the Beltraverses, the Beltraverses who came over with Julius Wernher, I should say Caesar, marry a milkmaid?”

“No, mother. He is marrying what any man would be proud to marry–a simple English girl.”

There was a cheer, instantly suppressed, from a Socialist in the band.

For just a moment words failed the Lady Beltravers. Then she sank into a chair, and waved her guests away.

“The ball is over,” she said slowly. “Leave me. My son and I must be alone.”

One by one, with murmured thanks for a delightful evening, the guests trooped out. Soon mother and son were alone. Lord Beltravers, gazing out of the window, saw the ‘cellist laboriously dragging his ‘cello across the park.


[And now, dear readers, I am in a difficulty. How shall the story go on? The editor of The Seaside Library asks quite frankly for a murder. His idea was that the Lady Beltravers should be found dead in the park next morning and that Gwendolen should be arrested. This seems to me both crude and vulgar. Besides, I want a murder for No. XCIX. of the series–The Severed Thumb.

No, I think I know a better way out.]

. . . . .

Old John French sat beneath a spreading pear tree, and waited. Early that morning a mysterious note had been brought to him, asking for an interview on a matter of the utmost importance. This was the trysting-place.

“I have come,” said a voice behind him, “to ask you to beg your daughter—-

“I HAVE COME,” cried the Lady Beltravers, “TO ASK YOU—-

“I HAVE COME,” shouted her ladyship, “TO—-“

John French wheeled round in amazement. With a cry the Lady Beltravers shrank back.

“Eustace,” she gasped–“Eustace, Earl of Turbot!”


“What are you doing here? I came to see John French.”

“What?” he asked, with his hand to his ear.

She repeated her remark loudly several times.

“I am John French,” he said at last. “When you refused me and married Beltravers I suddenly felt tired of Society; and I changed my name and settled down here as a simple farmer. My daughter helps me on the farm.”

“Then your daughter is—-“

“Lady Gwendolen Hake.”

. . . . .

A beautiful double wedding was solemnized at Beltravers in October, the Earl of Turbot leading Eliza, Lady Beltravers to the altar, while Lord Beltravers was joined in matrimony to the beautiful Lady Gwendolen Hake. There were many presents on both sides, which partook equally of the beautiful and the costly.

Lady Gwendolen Beltravers is now the most popular hostess in the county; but to her husband she always seems the simple English milkmaid that he first thought her. Ah!