It was no use battling with his fate, then, he thought; the fascination of this woman had the same effect upon others as upon himself; and while he was arguing with, and protesting against, his passion, some brainless fellow, like this Mellish, would step air jordan 6 high heels in and win the prize. He wished his friend good-night upon the steps of the Old Ship Hotel, and walked straight to his room, where he sat with his window open to the mild November night, staring out at the moonlit sea. He determined to propose to Aurora Floyd before twelve o’clock the next day. Why should he hesitate? He had asked himself that question a hundred times before, and had always been unable to answer it; and yet he had hesitated. He could not dispossess himself of a vague idea that there was some mystery in this girl’s life; some secret known only to herself and her father; some one spot upon the history of the past which cast a shadow on the present. And yet, how could that be? How could that be, he asked himself, when her whole life only amounted to nineteen years, and he had heard the history of those years over and over again? How often he had artfully led Lucy to tell him the simple story of her cousin’s girlhood — the governesses and masters that had come and gone at Felden Woods — the ponies and dogs, and puppies and kittens, and petted foals; the little scarlet riding-habit that had been made for the heiress when she rode after the hounds with her cousin Andrew Floyd. The worst blots that the officer could discover in those early years were a few broken china vases, and a great deal of ink spilled over air jordan 5 high heels badly-written French exercises; and, after being educated at home until she was nearly eighteen, Aurora had been transferred to a Parisian finishing school — and that was all. Her life had been the every-day life of other girls of her own position, and she differed from them only in being a great deal more fascinating, and a little more wilful, than the majority. Talbot laughed at himself for his doubts and hesitations. “What a suspicious brute I must be,” he said, “when I imagine I have fallen upon the clew to some mystery simply because there is a mournful tenderness in the old man’s voice when he speaks to his only child! If I were sixty-seven years of age, and had such a daughter as Aurora, would there not always be a shuddering terror mingled with my love — a horrible dread that something would happen to take her away from me? I will propose to Miss Floyd to-morrow.” Had Talbot been thoroughly candid with himself, he would perhaps have added, “Or John Mellish will make her an offer the day after.” Captain Bulstrode presented himself at the house on the East Cliff some time before noon on the next day, but he found Mr. Mellish on the door-step talking to Miss Floyd’s groom and inspecting the horses, which were waiting for the young ladies; for the young ladies were going to ride, and John Mellish was going to ride with them. “But if you’ll join us, Bulstrode,” the Yorkshireman said, good-naturedly, “you can ride the gray I spoke of yesterday. — Saunders shall go back and fetch him.” Talbot rejected this offer rather sulkily. “I’ve my own horses here, thank you,” he answered. “But if you’ll let your groom ride down to the stables and tell my man to bring them up, I shall be obliged to you.” After which condescending request Captain Bulstrode turned his back upon his friend, crossed the road, and, folding his arms upon the railings, stared resolutely at the sea. But in five minutes more the ladies appeared upon the door-step, and Talbot, turning at the sound of their voices, was fain to cross the road once more for the chance of taking Aurora’s foot in his hand as she sprang into her saddle; but John Mellish cheap nike heels was before him again, and Miss Floyd’s mare was curveting under the touch of her right hand before the captain could interfere. He allowed the groom to attend to Lucy, and, mounting as quickly as his stiff leg would allow him, he prepared to take his place by Aurora’s side. Again he was too late; Miss Floyd had cantered down the hill attended by Mellish, and it was impossible for Talbot to leave poor Lucy, who was a timid horsewoman. The captain never admired Lucy so little as on horseback. His pale saint with the halo of golden hair seemed to him sadly out of place in a side-saddle. He looked back at the day of his morning visit to Felden, and remembered how he had admired her, and how exactly she corresponded with his ideal, and how determined he was to be bewitched with her rather than by Aurora. “If she had fallen in love with me,” he thought, “I would have snapped my fingers at the black-browed heiress, and married this fair-haired angel out of hand. I meant to do that when I sold my commission. It was not for Aurora’s sake I left the army, it was not Aurora whom I followed down here. Which did I follow? What did I follow, I wonder? My destiny, I suppose, which is leading me through such a witch’s dance as I never thought to tread at the sober age of three-and-thirty. If Lucy had only loved me, it might have been all different.” He was so angry with himself that he was half inclined to be angry with poor Lucy for not extracting him from the snares of Aurora. If he could have read that innocent heart as he rode in sulky silence across the stunted turf on the wide downs — if he could have known the slow, sick pain in that gentle breast, as the quiet girl by his side lifted her blue eyes every now and then to steal a glance at his hard profile and moody brow — if he could have read her secret later, when, talking of Aurora, he for the first time clearly betrayed the mystery of his own heart — if he could have known how the landscape grew dim before her eyes, and how the brown moorland reeled beneath her horse’s hoofs until they seemed going down, down, down into some fathomless depth of sorrow and despair! But he knew nothing of this, and he thought Lucy Floyd a pretty, inanimate girl, who would no doubt be delighted to wear a becoming dress as bridesmaid at her cousin’s wedding. There was a dinner-party that evening upon the East Cliff, at which both John Mellish and Talbot were to assist, and the captain savagely determined to bring matters to an issue before the night was out. Talbot Raleigh Bulstrode would have been very angry with you had you watched him too closely that evening as he fastened the golden solitaire in his narrow cravat before his looking-glass in the bow-window at the Old Ship. He was nike heels uk ashamed of himself for being causelessly savage with his valet, whom he dismissed abruptly before he began to dress, and had not the courage to call the man back again when his own hot hands refused to do their office. He spilled half a bottleful of perfume upon his