|Newspaper Title||The Maitland Weekly Mercury (NSW : 1892-1931)|
|Trove Title||The Gold Seekers|
/THE GOLD SEEKERS.
.'fV' CHAPTER XIV.— (Continued.)
ft - ' To restraining you by forcc, i£ necessary, , from flirting with that Spanish girl.' ' What harm is there in flirting with her ?' asked Beansire, calm once more. r ? the harm in the world, for — ' -? . .. ' Anatole does it pretty freely.' . . ^ iC Pardon mc. lie does not. Anatole is in
Iovg witli licr i you fir© not. Tho attention he pays her is because he wants to win her for his wife.' ' And mayn't a man flirt with a girl with out wishing to marry her ?' ' 'I suppose he may with a lady in his own 'rank of life, if he can find any one he suffi ciently despises to allow himself to do so.' ? . ? « And what is the difference, pray ?' Just this — that a man does not flirt with a girl in an inferior rank of life without an ulterior motive.' 'Do you mean to insinuate thatl want to do the girl any harm ?' ' ' As you force mo to say it, that is exactly what I do mean.' ' And what right have you to insinuate ? that !' said Beausire, blushing. Ivor shrugged his shoulders. From what lie knew of Beausire's previous life, he had an answer ready to hand, but his natural generosity forbade him to use it. It would provoke violence, for there are things which no man may say to another, be they truo or not, with impunity. Ivor held the cards. Physically,' Beausire could not compare with him; but mere force, after all, is a poor argument. Still Ivor was determined that, should matters come to a crisis, he would resort to force to prevent any harm from coming to the girl. 'I am waiting for your answer,' said Beausire, after a pause which had lasted some seconds.
'And 1 nave none to give, saici Ivor, i quickly. ' ' I merely repeat that this inti ? macy, which I know has only begun to-day, shall go no further.' ' And I mean to amuse myself in my own ?way, without reference to you or any one else.' ' Then yre are at a deadlock, I suppose, and I shall be compelled to forcibly prevent ? ' what it' seems impossible to prevent by per suasion.' Beausiro would - not disguise ilio fact from himself that, bored to the verge of madness by this intolerable island, he had deliberately began to make love to Lola that afternoon. It .was a pity that such a beautiful creature as Lola I should be thrown away on Anatole. Bah! He should do as he liked, with no ? ? referenco to Ivor. - After Ivor's last speech they had stood in silence, some three yards apart. Ivor had ? spoken very firmly. Beausire was looking out over the sea, with a surly, dogged look on ? his face. Ivor waited for some sign from him, and none came. He then took one pace nearer to Beausire, and said in a softer, more conciliat ing tone : ' Look here, old man, I have no desire to , quarrel with you. I am too much in your debt for that. But just look at the matter calmly for a moment. Here we are thrown onto the most detestable island on the whole face of the globe, and unluckily this girl is ?wrecked with us. She is entirely in our hands, defenceless. 'When we are rescued — as we shall be in due course — the story of our shipwreck will be known over the whole ?world. Just think what an opinion of Eng ' . ' lishmen will go abroad if it became known that an English gentlemen, the son of a Brit ish peer, devoted his time to making love to this unlucky Spanish girl, who had no means of defending herself, and that the other men ? on the island had not the grace to do all in their power to prevent it. It wouldn't sound well, would it ? Don't you think that ?. we ought rather to consider that she is, for the moment, given into our chargo to protect in any way wo can ? We ought to respect ? her and help her to respect herself. A : simple, uneducated girl no doubt feels honored by the notice of a man in your position. Now at the present moment she probably has no idea in her mind of anything but what f you call ' flirting.' It is a pleasant pastime , for her, and time hangs heavy on her hands here. But you know well enough how ? these things imperceptibly progress, and lead to lifelong regret. Tho entire blame will ... bo with yon ; the suffering with her. No, old chap, I am certain that if you will only think of the matter in its proper light, you will see . ... that it would be tho blackest stain on your ?character if you did anything to occasion ? sorrow to that girl, situated as sho is here.' During tho latter part of Ivor's speech Beausire had been kicking a hole in tho. sand in an irresolute sort of way. When Ivor had finished, Beausire looked ? np, and although his face still wore a look of defiance, there was that, in his eyes which mado Ivor think that perhaps he had .not spokon altogether in vain. They walked slowly back to tho hut with . out speaking ; and after they had eaten their evening meal, during which Lola had glanced ?with interest from tho face of one . to the other, they retired without breaking silence. ? After breakfast on the following morning, Beausire walked after Ivor along tho beach, . and coming up to him, htld out his hand and said: ' You aro right, Ivor. I should be a cur to try to win the girl's affection'. I have heard that sort of talk before — I mean what you 1 talking about last night — and always thought it highfalutin' nonsense in the , abstract. Now I am brought face to face .T?ith it. I thought about it all night. Ton ... are right.' j, Ivor gripped his hand hard, but s id noth Jng. . \ ,
'I will give you my word if you like, Ivor.' 'There is no need for that, answered; Ivor. CHAPTER XV. AN INTERRUPTED WEDDING. j The weary week rolled on, with no inci dent to vary the monotony of existenco. Ivor and Beansire amused themselves by watching the various stages of Anatole's suit. He passed through all tho phases which charact erise the little comedy. These wore days when it was quite obvious that Anatolo considered life a hollow mock ery — when he talked of suicide, of a watery grave, with the seriousness and an air of de pression which wore often too much for his hearers' gravity. There wore days, again, when all tho world was bright — when the air j was full of music — when the very fact of life, was in itself delirious enjoyment. ; j Sometimes his melancholy would last foi' an entire week, emphasized by the wild de light of (the preceding and succceding days.' He and Lola managed to converse witl considerable fluency in a jargon which thej alone could understand. Lola was, as al ways, sereno and smiling — quite enough ii lovo with her volatile and eager lover to tak the trouble to teaso him and keep him fo' days on tho tenter-hooks of despair. I Since sho had seen that her one flirtatioi with Beausire was to be lior last, sho hal accepted the- situation with true Spanisi philosophy. Now sho had allowed matte's to go too far with Anatole to permit of be accepting anything but the simplest trifling with any one else — at any rate, until ths matter had como to its conclusion. : For a moment the thought had flaslid through her brain that it would be well to do her best with this young Englishma:. He came of la nobleza of his country. Slo should make tho most of her opportunity All had gone well on that brief aftcrndci until Ivor had appeared. Since then then had been no advance on the Englishman part. It was strange. He seemed to hav enjoyed himself on that one occasion. Bit these English were strange. She had beh told so in her own country. ; At that time she was not in love with An. tole. She suffered him — gladly, perhaps, bit that was all. Now all that was changcl. Anatole was experiencing his grand amoir and it seemed as though it would be — as itis in most cases — all on one side. Anatole hd at last discovered that there might be a chape for him, after all, and the intensity of his in citement had become ludicrous. ? Ivor had found it necessary to expostulte with him on his restlessness and loquacityin his sleep. | Anatole had shrugged his shoulders ii a deprecating manner as he answered : | ' But, sir, what can you expect ? Wha a man is in love, as I am, it is impossibleto sleep quietly.' ? \ Six months had passed, and one mornig, as Ivor and Beausire were idling on j,he beach, Anatole rushed up to them, his ice radiant with delight. He embraced -or with fervor, kissing him on both cheeks-|an honor which Ivor did not seem to apprecate as he ought. ! ' I have her promise,' said Anatolo, ater some moments, in a voice cliokod with emoton; ' Of what ?' said Beausire; ? ' To marry me,' answered Anatole^ aj he laughed aloud for joy. ? | ' I fancy you will find some difficult] in procuring a priest to celebrate the ceremny according to the rites of the Catholic Chtrch in this delightful island,' said Beausire. F ' Ah, fa!' answered Anatole, shruggng his shoulders doubtfully and throwing upais hands. f I 'At any rate, we congratulate you hearily. She is a very good girl,' said Beausire. f. 'iShe is a goddess !' said Anatole, witlian air of conviction. p ' They are — all in theory,' said Beausrc. ' Vou are joking, sir,' answered Anatce, with dignity. ' A matter of such seriousnes does not allow itself to become a jest.' | Ivor's French was of that order whichis learned at a public school. He could notjn consequence, utter a single consecutive sa tence grammatically, nor, had he been ale to do so, would Anatole have understood, -ir his ideas of pronunciation were' more tlin vague. He could, however, understandill Anatole's conversation perfectly, and did ,t times deliver himself of solitary words. The congratulation of Lola was a nice difficult matter and had to be conductd through the medium of Anatole, '-who embl lislied Ivor's and Beausire's words of cq gratulation with additions of his own. J'j Lola smiled her thanks, and in her o-n language ' kissed the feet of caballeros Iy leses.' Then followed some weeks of pre delight for Anatole. Ho was never tiredof singing Lola's praises, or of calling tlie;t tention of Ivor and Beausire to her charis. This was amusing enough for a time, -lit Beausire had no wish to bo tho confidan'tif the Frenchman's passion. He tried tof k plain to him that lie was perfectly willingfo take all Lola's perfections for granted, tht that lie really could not suffer himself to.oe bored day in and day out by a torronkof exaggerated words on a subject whichlas Anatole must know, ought to have no iiiii— est for him. j' Anatole had never known of tlie ono litle scene which had passed between Beauare o.nd Lola. Had he been aware of it, tho] ex tent of jeaously — even though ho; knew that the prize was his — would' nevfer Lave suffered him to regard Beausire as anfthin^ but a ' monster.' ! ° As it was, he would merely throw ip his hands and mutter to himself : | ' Tho English, how they are cold !S' His impatience at tho delay of tlx relief ship grew more marked as each suuiet and no sign appeared on tho horizon of jtat for which all longed so intensely. p The sailor alono seemed to be perfecjy con tented. He had said to Ivor that ' li'fur as 'e was concerned, 'e would just as sou pass tho rest of his life there as anywhei else ? they woWt no work to do, any'owEand 'e 'ad never yet como across any beril where there was plenty to eat and nothing tido. He had, in fact reached tho Yalhall of the true British workman. He could sit, 11 day if he so^ chose, with his hands in histpekets' and whistle, or yawn, orexpectoratejjimd his meals, with meat — plenty of meat — cS'te with the regularity of the dawn. , What iould a man want more ? j' He was told by Beausiro that Ana-le and Lola were engaged to bo married, ft which news a sardonic grin spread over lis face. Ho spat in a contemptuous manner, rtlew his nose similarly, aud said : j
[ ' Jest about what I thorfc they wonld do. Seems to be about .as many durn fools a-. . grow-in' up every day as dies overy day. 'Beausiro would like a moro lucid explana tion of his meaning. ' Ubi-'tyou bo a-gittin' at me, now. ^ Wot it moans is that when any feller as isn't blind sees evory blessed day of 'is life two people a-gittin' ^married so as they ' can welt ono another, an' fight an' cuss, 'w'y it seems to mo as if they would be jest as well apart, an' a durn sight better, too. Lor', I knows all about it. I got an old 'ooman down at Wap ping ns clawed most 'arf my face orf aforo. I come away this trip. D'ye see that ? and ho pointed to two long scars running down his cheek — ' that's Bess.' ' Tou seem to think that marriage is a failure, then?' asked Beausire. ' Failure !' snorted tho sailor. ' A course it's a failure ; 'cas yo never know wot a 'ooman's thinkin' about. Sho ain t ^like a man, wot usually lies, ail' yo know it. Yo never knows when it. 'ooman is lyin or not, an' they're all flim-flams an.' idees. Wot yer think she clawcd mo for tho las' timo ? ^ ' W y, jes' 'cos I says ' Nico mornin' ' to a tidy bit of a 'ooman as was passin' tho door ; an' Bess jealous as a wild cat, takes arf my face orf. No, I ain't takin' no more marriages.' ' And I did yon retaliate ?' said Beausire. ' Blest if I know wot ' rotalyate' means ; but if yer mean ' Cid I durn well punch 'or 'ead into a blecdin' jelly ?' you may bet yer 'at I did — cuss'er!' ' Ah ! I quite agree with you, then, that in your case marriage was a failure.' ' So 'tis always,' said the sailor, as he spat on the ground again. ' Then why did you marry yourself ?'' ' I dunno. I'd icnow'd Bess a tidy bit, an' I was jes' off a long trip an' goin' fresh ; an' Bess was a trim sort er craft in them days. Wo walked a night or two, an' sho came sailin' along one night in a brand-new yaller shawl an' cleaned up an' smart-like ; an I sez : ' Did ye over think or gettin' spliced Bess ?' An' sho sez ; ' Yus, Bill. When yo like.' An' so thero we were — an' we ain't done figlitin' since,' he added, reflectively. At this moment tho figures of Lola -and Anatole some tlirco hundred yard away on the beach, were silhouetted against tho sky. Anatole was bending over her fondly, and the silver ring -of Lola's laughter sounded through the air. ' They they are — look at 'em. In a year's time slio'll be scratcliin' 'is face, an' 'e'll be kickin' 'er, same as mo an' Bess. Fools — all on 'em.' ' Well, I'm afraid if you told 'cm so they wonld not believe you,' said Beausire. ' That's where the cussed foolishness comes in. If Bess was to die to-morror, an' you wos to tell me I'd 'marry agen, I should say as you wos a liar, an' yit I dessay I should find myself spliced again in six months or so. That's the worst o' women! They kinder 'get at ye ag'in yer will. It ain't fair any how.' Beausire laughed, and left him throwing pebbles into the sea, and inveighing against woman. As time went on the Frenchman's impati ence became more than lie could bear. The sailor openly laughed at him, and Anatole, after reckoning up the sailor, decided that lie would not challenge him to mortal, combat. Besides, these dull, coldblooded Englishmen- did not understand das emotions. Ivor told him that ie must curb his impa tience ; that it was really becoming a.question of weeks — possibly days — until relief should come! Aratole had to be content with this cold comfprt for a time; but as each new day dis covered to him new charms in his charmer, he cqme to Ivor one day to tell him that he could stand it no longer — tlmt he must be married out of hand. ' I 'am on fire. I cannot live without her.' ' ' JTo one v/ants you to,' said Beansire, ?' but you must wait until a qualified person can tie tne knot.' 'jBut it is impossible, messieurs. We mus; be married. Alt quelle agonic je souffre 'Don't talk nonsense, my good Anatole. You'liave just got to wait.' ' But it may be forever on this sacre island ; . one never knows what may arrive.' 'If you go on this way we shall be com pelled to prevent you from talking to her at all. You must wait.' Anatole had sighed. He wished that he had been ordained priest in order that he might have performed his own marriage service ; and then remembering that priests are also ordained to celibacy, he ground his teeth and cursed everything in heaven and earth except his beloved. Ono day he appeared, bruised and bleeding, and on enquiry Ivor found he had been trying to scale the cliffs in the middle of the island , ? in the hopes of catching an albatross. Ivor had related to them the w.ell-autlienticated story of an albatross — picked up dead on the beach — which had brought the news of a crow wrecked on a lonoly island, and had died in bringing it. Anatole had' proposed to do tho same thing — to catch his albatross, affix a piece of one of their empty tins to its neck, and send it abroad to announce the fact of tlieir evil plight, hoping that, it might do as its famous predecessor liad done, and carry its message to some mainland. At tho last Anatole began to becomo really ill. He no longer slept 'at night, and his appetite failed him completely. He implored Ivor almost daily to allow them to bo married. He explained that it was maddening to bo always so near and yot so far from his beloved ; that it was beyond all words embarrassing to be compelled to conduct his courtship under tho surveillance of others. Not that he minded Ivor and Beausire witnessing liis transports ; but this sailor, who was little moro than an animal, it was galling to know that he was always on tho lookout, with his brutal leer, for that at which to jeer. Beausire and Ivor discussed tho matter vory earnestly. ' If. you don't let the fellow marry her, he will go raving. mad. We don't want a raving lunatic on this delightful island. Thero is no room for him,' said Beausire. ' But how tho deuce can he be married in law.' 'Easily enough. They aro both Roman Catholics, and they can geta dispensation.' ' But what ceremony aro they, to go through?' 'You must take the duty of priest npon yourself for tlie moment.' ' 'I have no notion of what the Roman Catholic ceremony is like.' I ' My dear Ivor, what on earth does that I matter ? You surely do not think that the marriage will be any the less binding because 1 you don't happen to be in orders. The thing is absurd. Those people wish, thoir anion to* I
[ be reoognized by tho community in which they find themselves — not a large one, perhaps, but still it ropresonts the whole world to them for tho moment. You can bind them just as solemnly as though the matter were done by law, or by bell, book and candle, or any other nonsenso you like.' Ivor was somewhat taken aback by this,- to him, wholly new viow of marriage, and said ; -' But if they are not married according to thorites of the Church, the woman cannot have any legal claimi against the man in tlio event of desertion.' ' What does that matter ? People in that class drift apart as naturally as thoy drift to gether. It is tho class just above theirs which revels in breach of promise, and a still higher class which takes every opportunity of ' washing its dirty, linen in the Divorce Court.' 'i ' You see, there is no registry office here ; and oughtn't thero to be a civil and a re ligious ceremony as well ? They are Roman Catholics.' Beausiro burst out laughing. ' You old ass, Ivor. Don't you see that this form of marriage which they will go through hero is simply a sop to your con science, to prevent thero being any scandal in case anything happened. ? You take the matter too seriously, old boy.' ' Marriage is a very serious matter,' said Ivor, gravely. Beausire laughed again. ' You laugh, of course,' said Ivor, 'you are always laughing, but I don't see why these two people shouldn't wait to get mar ried until thoy can find a priest and everything in order.' 'Anatole will go mad on our hands— if you do not make thom wait. You don't seem to understand the temperature of a French man. They don't weigh the matter up as wo do, and look on this side and o'n that, and calculate the cost. He is in love, madly, passionately, and that is enough for him. There is only one thing on earth, for the moment, for which he finds life worth living — his love for Lola ; and if ho cannot attain' his object he will go mad.' Ivor thought for a long time, and at last he said : ' I believe you are right, Beausire. I will inake them both swear that they will be married in due order on the very earliest opportunity when we reach land, and only on that condition will I undertake the' responsi bility.' 'That's right. I will go and tell Ana tole' ' Tell him to come h'ere.' / In a few minutes Beausire returned, ac companied by Anatole, whose face wore an expression of anxious inquiry. Ivor told him the terms on which he would consent to perform this mock marriage, and Anatole for answer merely gave vent to a yast sigh of relief, contentment, joy — ho didn't exactly know what. ' When would you like the ceremony to be performed ?' asked Ivor. 'Mil's, now, instantly, monsieur. I will fetch .Lola. Halo, Lola! Come at once!' and lie began to run down to the shore to find ,her. ? ' Stop, stop !' cried .Ivor, while.' Beausire laughed loud and long. ? ' ' What need of delay, monsieur ?' asked Anatolo.. 'Lola is willing— she has said it — and I— but I liave been more than willing all these months, these centuries of time.' ' But the preliminaries must be' settled. Are you willing to agreo to the terms which I propose ?' ' But certainly,' answered Anotole. ' Why not ? I have all tho wish to remain with her for ever.' ' And she ?' , ' She loves me too. She had said it.' ' And you will swear to get married as soon as it can possibly be done when we reach land ?' ^ ' On my word of honor, sir.'' ' Very well. Under these conditions I' will perform what marriage ceremony I can to-morrow morning. But I must have Lola's oath as well that she consents. To-night you must swear by all that you 'hold sacred that you will do this.' Anatole, seeing that the interview was over for the present, bounded away over the rock like a stag, shouting, ' Lola, 'Lola !' at the pitch of his voice, until the cliff behind them cchoed back the cry a hundred times. That evening Anatole and Lola pledged their oath to regard the ceremony which shoald take place in the morning as com pletely binding on them ; and to be married in due' form as opportunity should occur. The'sailor witnessed the ceremony with a cynical smile on his surly countenance, and, when it was over, spat contemptuously on the flqor. Anatole, as soon as Lola had explained that she fully understood the nature of an oath, embraced her passionately before them all, whereupon she smacked his face and told him in Spanish that he was an uncouth foreigner. The sailor grinned sardonically, and grunted out: ' There th'oy aro — at it already — and not even spliced yet ! She'll claw his face for 'im right enough before long. Lucky there ain't no other woman in this 'ere place .for 'er to get jealous of, or there'd bo fine shindies.' Lola, having kissed the hands of Ivor and Beausire (in metaphor), frowned at Anatole and made a face at the sailor, retired to her own hut for the night, while Anatole sat down with a sigh, and was obviously desolo though he did, not say so. Tho morning dawned bright and fair. It was one of those rare days in those latitudes when the west wind dies down to little more than a light breeze, and when the sun con sents to shine on those moist coa^ for some hours at a time. The breeze was just strong enough to crest the wavelets which lapped among tho pebbles, and farther out in the sea their bigger brothers danced in tho sunlight. Anatole and Lola regarded the bright weather as a favorable omen for .their life. Anatolo : had boon awako and up with the earliest penguin, and now, after a pretence at breakfast, was awaiting his bride. Beausire had asked him during breakfast whero he intended spending his honeymoon, and suggested Inaccessible. ' Anatole, whose heart was too Ml to speak, merely sighed in answer. Breakfast over, Anatolo strolled, to the door ! of the hut. He had scarcely sot his foot out side when he gave vent to a loud yell which brought Ivor and Beausire, with a bound, to the door. ' Hcjardez !' almost shrieked Anatole ; and as ho spoke he pointed leeward. | Far away on tho eastern horizon the smoke of a steamer was plainly visible. With a simultaneous cry of ' A ship !' from Ivor, and ' A ship, by thunder !' from Beau-.
siro, they turned and ran to the point, on tho northeastern corner of the island, whero they had watched day in and day out for months for that which never came. Lola, awakened for a moment from her characteristic lethargy, gathered up her skirts and followed them.. Anatole, 'twixt love and anxiety, hesitated a moment, and then follow ed Lola ; while the sailor, after first scanning tho approaching smoke carefully, slowly brought up the rear. (To be continued.')