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              THE LORDSHIP OF

              By Florence HOPE,
Author of "A Merciless Woman," "The Trials of Madge Moberley,"
               "Tangled Threads"
                     &c., &c.
                    Part One.

                   Chapter XI

       Love took up the harp of life, and smote on all the chords that might.

       "Where does that little staircase lead?" asked Ina, pointing with her
taper finger to the iron railed stone steps that led to the secretary's suite
of rooms. She with her fiance, Carlyon and Flora were in the garden, having
strolled out after dinner in the fragrant twilight.

       "It leads to Bluebeards Chambers," replied Carlyon, watching the
effect of his words on the two girls.

       "A mystery! A mystery! Ah, I knew there was something of the sort,"
said Flora clapping her hands.

       "What does he mean?" inquired Ina of Hatherly.

       "There is no mystery or secret at all," said Hugh, with a tinge of
annoyance. "Those rooms belong to Mr. Chester, my secretary and amanuensis.

       "And doesn't he ever show himself?" demanded Flora, with her
inquisitive face turned towards the upper rooms, from which there glared the red light
of a shaded lamp.

       "Never," said Carlyon. "He is a recluse, a man who ..."

       "Shut up Cyril. Because a fellow does not care for society and
prefers  to remain in his own rooms is no reason for imagining a lot of romantic
nonsense about him. Mr. Chester is an admirable secretary, and suits my
requirements exactly. He can do as he chooses about joining the circle downstairs, or
remaining in his own suite of apartments," said Hatherley. Then, drawing Ina
aside, he led her down a shadowy path that was dark and overhanging trees meeting
and interlacing their branches above their heads.

       "Ina, you do not know all you are to me, but I want you to understand
that I love you as no other man will ever love you, and I believe that the
very strength of my love will in time win yours. I am going to be patient and
wait for this greatest of gifts."

       Hugh spoke in a  low passionate voice, that vibrated with feeling, and
touched a chord in the girl's half awakened heart. She leaned a little nearer
to him till her shoulder touched his, the breath from her parted lips was on
his cheek, and she responded with a caressing tone in her low sweet voice.

       "I - I think I can almost love you - now." He caught her hands,
clasped them against his breast, and looked long and earnestly into her eyes that
were half veiled by the curtain of lashes so thick and dark.

       "Almost," he whispered. "Ah, my dearest, almost. Do you know you have
never given me a kiss of your own accord. I have never yet felt your lips
press against mine."

       She looked waveringly up into his passionate face, half bent towards
him; then as if frightened by the passion in his eyes and quivering lips, drew

       "Not yet," she cried; "not yet," and drawing her hands from his clasp,
slipped away from him in the darkness.

       "Yet I love him," she whispered to herself; "Yes, I love him."

       She was in a tremor of love and longing that was mixed strangely with
maidenly shyness and reserve. Love was so new to her; she was afraid of it,
and wanted it to come slowly, gradually and gently into her life. Then when once
she met it with her throbbing heart, Ina would give all that would satisfy
the most passionately exacting of men.

       Coming out the other end of the leafy walk, she came upon Carlyon -
alone. She always took care to avoid him, for she could not forget the shameful
advantage he had taken of her innocent adventure in the streets of London, and
was about to pass him quickly, when he stopped her with a touch of his hand
on her bare arm.

       "Not so fast, not so fast," he murmured. "I never get a word with you
now, and remember I have never yet exacted my quid pro quo that I promised
myself. Miss Ina Chisholme, you have done remarkably well for yourself, and I
hope when you are Hatherley's wife that you will give a helping hand to his
friend. Let me say what I want - it is this: You have come between me and Hatherley
- you first, this confounded secretary next, the two of you have done me
incalculable harm, I can tell you. I was his sole companion, his adviser in
everything, his confidential friend till you and that man" - with a glance up at the
lamp lit chamber - "crossed his path. Now it is no longer Cyril Carlyon, but
Bert Chester and Ina Chisholme. I hate you both - hate you, do you hear. And I
swear I'll not be thrust aside, turned out of my rightful place by either you
or him."

       Carlyon for once had lost control over himself. It was as if the anger
had been supressed for so long had now burst forth in a fury, and he could no
longer hold it in.

      His hand that gripped the girl's arm left a red mark on the white
tender flesh and made her cry out in pain......

to be continued....