|Chapter Title||SAVED FROM THE WRECK|
|Newspaper Title||Bowral Free Press and Berrima District Intelligencer (NSW : 1884 - 1901)|
|Trove Title||The Christmas Fairy|
THE CHRISTMAS FAIRY,
CHAPTER I.—SAVED FROM THE WRECK.
She was the only one saved—a tiny, deli cate, fragile child, of barely three years old. A large passengor ship from Sydney; had gone to pieces in a heavy gale one September night, and this frail creature was found noxt mormng by a fishing-boat, lashed to a floating spar-, and the master made all speed for the little fishing hamlet of Alva, and carried his prize, all dripping and sense less. into the Tre^eunick Areas.
, With no small trouble, the woi-thy land
lord—wife lie had ...none—had brought the.' poor child back to hfe, and, now she was ly ing iu vi deep sleep, wrapped; in a blanket before the parlour fire-, and a group of rough men stood round her, talking iii muf fled tones., Hiindful. not to >vake'her. A* yet she had -only cried out for " Father, father! " and clutched convulsively a torn piece of paper, which had been found inside her likilo dress, and which they did not try to take from her. Then, sobbing feitterly, she fell fast asleep at last.
"What are you going to do with her, Jem?" asked the fisherman who had brought her in.
" I don't know. I suppose she'il have to go to the workhouse," replied Jem Ves per. "T can't afford to keep her. She's yours by right'if you like her;"
" I'd be willing, but I've got sis of my own. She's a rare beauty. Look here," •and he stooped, and lifted in his rough fingers some of the rich masses of auburn curls that; flowed in profusion over the rug. "Poor little dear 1 her lashes is all wet with tears. I say, Jem., Jem., she's no com
mon lot neither."
"Not she. Lady born, you can see that ; and her clothe is fine and nice, but I can't see name nor nothing."
" May be," said another, " when some o' the bodies eome ashore something '11 bo found out.. That letter might give an idea."
•" I'll take it from her and see," said Jem; and kneeling on one knee by the child, he gently drew the fragment from the relaxed
Spreading. it out on the table, the men bent over it and, with much difficulty and frequent discussions and committees of the whole house as to particular words, they made out the following disjointed sentences, the paper, which was evidently a portion of a letter, being very much torn, and also so much discoloured with sea-water that many words were wholly obliterated—
" . . . to remind you of your promise ... dared not think, my lord . . . Bertie . . ." always faithfully loved . . , . dear child's sake . . i Oh, remember , . pity . * remind yon of a vow so solemnly made . • presentiment oppresses . , ."
That was all. The writing was evidently masculine, free, and well formed, like the writing of an educated man. Jem Vosper sighed and shook his head, as . he carefully replaced the fragment in.the child's hands.
Can't make much of that," he said, fllowly, 11 except that whoever wrote it knew some lord. So she's good blood in her. Now,
what is to be done with that there kid ? I j
don't like the idea of the Union."
" Perhaps," put in a young fisherman, " if you was to keep hor a few days, you . might find out something."
The landlord assented to this proposition, .b it the " few days " brought nothing to light. Only ft few bodies were washed up from the wreck of the ship, which proved to be the " Daphine," of London, and'these bodies came ashore at various points along the coast, some battered past recognition on the cruel rooks. None of them furnished any clue to the identity of the little one, /wlio was too young to throw any light 011
On ttiofiffch day after the wreck, Jem Vos per's difficulties were solved in a very unlook ed for manner. A guest arrived at the Tre denniek Arms, who announced hiimself as Mr. Rvolyn. father of the celebrated Eveiyn Family, floras a man getting ou for sixty;
a jolly jovial fellow' who took life easily, as men of his. profession usually do. He ex plained that, lie was giving.an entertainment in the town; a few miles off, and was taking
a walk. . ; , . •
• Bertie—so she wan callod,, she had said— instantly attracted Mr. Evelyns attention. Who was she ? Vosper was ready . enough to tell all. he.knew, and Evelyn listened in
silence. At the end he said—, ,
" Toll you what.'landlord-: I'll give you a sov. for the kid, and undertake to treat her as kind as can be, Look here, pretty, will you come with.me?"..
He had a kind countenance, and looked down in-the lovely little face with a bene volent smile. Bertie probably thought she was only going for a walk, and .consented to go with her new friend, and the bargain
was soon concluded.
" If I don't niake a pile out of you," solil oquised Tom Evelyn, as he marched away with his new aquisitiou," the dickens islin it. Why, she'll be the making of us all.
What a daucer she'll be 1"
Great was the surprise of Mrs. Evelyn when her husband appeared in. their humble lodging in, the town, with his purchase in his arms ; and Jack, and Kate, and Nell,, the youngest only two years Bertie's senior, clustered, round the half-frightened child.
Down went the corners of the pretty mouth,!
and out burst a sob for " Father." But im
pressions have little hold on children so young, and Bertie soon because at home with har new friends, only she held tenaci ously to the torn letter, and Mrs. Evelyn made a bag for it, aud hung it round the child's neck by a ribbon.
" It. may be worth the keepin," she shrewd ly remarked. " Anyone can .see the little
un's.a real swell."
The celebrated Evelyn Family travelled the couutry with a mixed entertainment, consisting of character dances and songs. Sometimes they got engagements in the pantomimes, and as they were good-looking and clever children, they and their parents managed to make, a fair fair living out of the business. Mr. and Mrs. Evelyn had long given up making any public appearance, and eonfined themselves to the teaching of children and the manage ment of the concern, which gave tbem quite enough to do.
Bertie proved a very apt pupil. She learned with surprising quickness to dance aud sing, and made an early appearance as " Little Bertie Evelyn." The public were delighted with her ; her grace and . beauty and artless, winning manner won universal approval. She looked a veritable fairy, with her great violet eyes, her delicate, aristo cratic little face, and floating masses of golden curls, and never 'failed to gam ap-. plause,often double encores. She was kiudly. treated by all—was the pet of the family in deed. Big Jack, lie taught her the horn pipe and the highland fling, was her bound en slave ; and Kate and Nell, if they were a little jealous of. her, were always good friends to her, for the child was as generous as she was beautiful, and though she so completely took the lead of her adopted sisters, never showed any "airs," and was always a thorough child, playing like other children in times of recreation, and singu larly unselfish and sweet tempered.
[to be continued.]