|Newspaper Title||The Murrurundi Times and Liverpool Plains Gazette (NSW : 1874 - 1907; 1926 - 1929)|
|Trove Title||Courting by Proxy|
GOUipj BY pijOff
BY CAPTAIN EAST GRAY.
Cg^OOKI stupid, you've 3|W«p dropped it. Naughty Jup I 3«ilic? * sha' never set y°u t0 tlJBjj^ perfection after all my w3?ffi=?S trouble. Pick the book up again Sir I and carry it all the way into the house as a punishment ; and mind, this time no biscuit1
The speaker was a slim, lair young girl of twenty or so, graceful of form and feature, wiih a bright animated countenance, and an abundance of chestnut brown hair, coiled neatly in the fashion of twenty years ago. The party addressed as ' Jup,' was a good-sized rough-haired terrier, who appeared to be much cast down by the reproaches of his fair mistress, and if ever ' I'll never do it again ' was said by a dog, Jup said it with his eyes, which was all of his face that could be seen, as he looked up into the half-amused and half-vexed coun tenance of his mistress. The foregoing simple little scene took place one morning in the some what extensive grounds of Marrlands, a pretty residence near the town of Moreton, and between the town and
me ueaumui uay. Evangeline Brent was an orphan, and rich. Her parents died within six months of each other, and when Evangeline was but three years old. Her father, who survived his wife, knew that his departure was at hand, and mode ample provision for his daughter's future, leaving her entirely in the charge of an elder sister of his dead wife, to be brought up by her | until such time as Evangeline should come of age or marry, but in either event Aunt Tilda was to remain a member of her niece's household. Faithfully did the maiden lady perform her part of the contract, and her niece's appearance, manners, dis position, and behaviour, all bore silent but conclusive evidence that Aunt Tilda's guardianship had turned out Evangeline a perfect young lady. The affection and regard displayed by the latter to her relative was of the warmest character, and stood out not only in important and serious matters, but in various trifling and pleasing ways. Her aunt possessed a fine starling, a great favourite, which Evangeline took great trouble to teach lo talk— until one day at tea when Aunt Tilda was handing Evangeline some cake, Jacob all at once broke out with ' What a nice aunt,' much to the elder lady's surprise and pleasure. Aunt Tilda was about as free as most maiden ladies of an uncertain age of fads or fancies, but she had just one or tiro, which there is need to men tion. From the time she took charge of her niece she insisted that all and sundry should call her 'by her full name— Evangeline— no pet 'Eva's* or ? Lina's ' for her. She thought the name the prettiest a girl could have, and had suggested it hersell, and no servant or friend could hope to attain or retain the approbation of Aunt Tilda who allowed themselves to lorget her fancy. Add to this the fact that Aunt Tilda had a decided objec tion to Evangeline forming an ac quaintance with any of the male sex under sixty— her reason being mistily given as a sad experience of her youthful days, when, as she was told, she was very attractive, and had en gaged the attention of a fine-looking young fellow, who afterwards had
behaved shamefully, as she informed her niece, and therefore she had come to the conclusion that men were no good, and ' My dear, 1 would sooner see you buried in your grave 'a hundred fathoms deep,' as the song says, than that you should suffer all your days from a bruised heart like mine.' Few guests were entertained at Marrlands, and fewer still of the male sex, while a youthful appearance was a certain bar to any man who sought friendship with Aunt Tilda, even when over the stipulated age. Nature will assert her rights, how ever, and among them is that of bestowing upon young women the gift of sight, enabling them to single out those of the opposite sex who are of a pleasing exterior and anything like their beau ideal of manhood. And so it fell out that Evangeline one Christmas Day — at church, which she attended pretty constantly, her eyes alighted upon a young man who sat in a roomy pew with a bald-headed elderly gentleman of choleric appear ance whom she had frequently seen in the same spot. The young man was a stranger, but there was a certain if unexplainable kind of .likeness between them which told of a relationship in some degree or other. The young man was tall, dark, amiable looking, and with a strikingly powerful though well-modulated voice, which could be distinctly heard to advantage during the service. This completed the captivation of Evangeline, for she loved singing, and herself sang sweetly. After the service, in passing out, she stopped to speak to an acquaintance, when the two occupants of the roomy pew passed her, the younger of whom suddenly fixed his gaze on her earnestly, started, as though struck by some thought or recollection, and then passed on. Evangeline, alone, for Aunt Tilda never attended church mornings,... also returned home, we fear more impressed with recollections of the handsome stranger than with the discourse delivered from the lips of the worthy vicar. We have spoken of the comparatively harmless fads of Aunt Tilda, now we have to mention ttie fancies of her niece. Evangeline was very lond of dumb animals, and especially of teaching them such tricks as were within their compass to learn. A friend had made her a present of a three-months-old wiry terrier pup. Very soon the dog and his mistress became inseperable, and she taught him to fetch and carry any object that his teeth could clutch ; and he would always bring whatever he found or was given to him, nor would he part with it until the hands of his mistress released it. Aunt Tilda named him Jupiter (her favourite science was astronomy), but here Evangeline joined issue (or once with the good lady, and for ever and aye christened him ' Jup ' (pronounced Joop), while Aunt Tilda stuck to her guns and acknowledged no other dog but Jupiter. Moreton Bay was a favourite ter minus to a pleasant walk for Evan geline with Jup for company. He was not a water dog, but his love to do his mistress's bidding soon over came his natural dislike, and he would swim out a good distance after a stick and return with it to her, until at last it became a favourite pastime. One day Jup had in his usual impetuous, manner rushed into the water after a
stick, and was returning boldly with it, when suddenly he let the stick go, and with a howl of pain or despair seemed in great trouble, making no progress toward the shore. Evangeline screamed in alarm for her pet ap parently in peril for his life, when suddenly someone rushed close past her and into the water, fully clothed, and swimming easily out soon brought the trembling Jup to land. He carried the dog to Evangeline and placed it at her feet. To her as tonishment it was (he handsome stranger of the roomy pew at the church who had delivered her pet from danger and earned her thanks. CHAPTER II. The Fleet was the somewhat novel name of the residence of Admiral Borthwick, on the R.N. retired list.. It was a long, shambling, and rather uncomfortable house to live in, except for an old tar who didn't like to ' Molleycoddie * himself, so it suited ' old Broadbeam,' as the boys of the neighbourhood had (he temerity to dub him when he wasn't too near. The house stood about two miles out of Moreton, on the opposite side from Marrlands. The Admiral was a stout old churchman, and sturdily did the (our miles' walk every Sunday morn ing, wet or shine. At the time this veracious narrative commences, his sister's son — his only nephew, and a great favourite — was paying him a visit of some weeks duration, and after the first Sunday, readily and anxiously accompanied his uncle to church. Tudor Milton was twenty eight years of age, had received a University education, had chosen literature as his profession, and already had taken the first step on the ladder i of fame. He could write famously, |
' EVANGELINE TAKING FROM, OR REPLACING IN THE DOG*S MOUTH HIS COVETED DOCUMEN fS '
but was unaccountably shy of speech — especiully when in company with the tair sex. This was a source of disappointment and dissatisfaction to the latter, for his looks, his position and prospects were all alike good. His uncle had never been married, and professed to be a woman hater. At all events it was rarely one of the sex entered his door, and singularly enough for much the same reason as Aunt Tilda gave, only, of course, from an opposite standpoint. So he always advised Tudor ' Have nothing to do with 'em my boy, or they'll treat you as they did me. A bad lot the best of 'em. They'll always want to steer and they'll then run you on a lee shore.' Thus advised, Tudor, with his shyness, avoided the company ot women, and had made up his mind to follow his uncle's example and precept and never marry. His first meeting with Evangeline Brent was a revela tion. To his eyes she was the loveliest woman he had ever seen. Sunday after Sunday they saw each other, looked admiringly, and passed on. But the Arrows of Love stuck fast in
the tenderest part, and yet no chance on either side of making it known until the to him fortunate opportunity of Jup's accident brought him face to face with his goddess, and then he seemed struck dumb. It appeared on examination that in rushing over the shingly beach poor Jup had cut one of his feet badly with a stone. For a few seconds the water deadened the pain, and then came his outcry. Evangeline never looked more lovely. With tears of sympathy still wet on her cheeks, she blushed deeply and bent her head while she thanked Jup's rescuer, who simply said ' Don't mention it,' and hurried away home to change his. dripping clothes. He hastily informed the Admiral of his adventure, who, little* thinking how affairs stood, rallied. him with 'Steady, Tudor, my boy,, steady ! Keep your eye on the danger-signal. None of your ' Love, me love;my dog ' business you know. I was had once ; don't you forget it ?' Evangeline on her part could not refrain from informing Aunt Tilda of the circumstance, and added, ' Dear auntie, don't you think I ought to do more than just say ' thank you ' to the poor young man ? He must have spoiled his clothes ; and he is so gentlemanly.' Now Aunt Tilda was a lady, and dare not be accused of rudeness, and yet she must abide by her rule. She replied ' My dear Evangeline, what can you do ? He is a young man you say ; and there, why you don't even know his name, nor where he lives ? So let it alone, and if you should ever meet him again there would be no harm, should he wish to speak, in your hoping he didn't catch cold.' Sure enough both Evangeline and Tudor preferred the Bay to any other
walk in the district. They met, and as he raised his hat to her and mut tered something, she took it as an excuse for replying literally as Aunt Tilda had suggested. No ; he hadn't caught cold, and was pleased to serve her. That's all he observed, but he walked her way by her side until coming to a rocky slab on the beach she sat down, and by a movement of her dress signified her wish to seat him by her side. Before they parted she -managed to extract his name and residence from him, while he, forgetting his uncle's proverb, did his best to ingratiate himself with Jup, who for his part seemed to recognise the claim his deliverer had on his friendship, and so received him at once' into his doggie heart. Tudor could find words to talk to the dog better than with the dog's mistress, and so their intimacy and friendship prospered. . . Tudor was fond of bathing, and soon it became an acknowledged custom for him to call at the gate of Marrlands for Jup, who would, with the tacit I permission of his mistress; accompany.
him and watch his clothes. Tudor lent Evangeline books, and it was on the occasion of the loan of one of Tudor's own productions, which Jup incontinently dropped in the garden, which led to the reprimand and punishment of that unlucky quadruped with the narration of which circum stance our story commenced. CHAPTER III. We have stated that Tudor Milton wrote a great deal. He was fond of writing. He was accustomed to put most of his thoughts on paper, and ot late a new current of thought, with a new name— Evangeline— attached to it found prominent place thereon. He usually took a few sheets with him when out walking so that he might not lose a thought worth keeping. One morning when about to start foi bathing he placed some paper partly written upon in the breast pocket of his coat. His uncle, who was an early riser, accoEted him before he left the house, ' How you revel in the briny, my boy ; that's right, nothing like salt water, it's better than love. Ah ! that reminds me that I have here some papers which I wish you to read at your leisure. The history of my youth, Tudor, which I have often wished you to be made ac quainted with, if it's only to warn you off the shoal that wrecked my happi ness. Take it lad ; read it when you like, and if you ever should be such a fool as to fall in love, may it not be wasted on a woman like mine was.' Tudor took the packet and placed it with the other in his pocket and proceeded on his way. As usual, he : called at the gate of Marrlands for his chum, and they both made tracks for the accustomed bathing-place. Tudor with his systematic care placed his
clothes neatly on the ground, which was no sooner done than jup lay down as sentinel on the top. As mischief would have it, some boys who had just been bathing also, with customary impishness threw stones at Jup, who, intent on duty, snarled and showed his teeth. The young rascals threw again, when suddenly Jup, who probably took them for pickpockets, seized the two packets of papers which were sticking half out of Tudor's pocket, and instantly made a bee-line for home as hard as his legs could carry him.! Tudor witnessed his departure, and hastily dressing, . hurried lo recover his property, ere Jup should deposit tbe same, as he assuredly would, in the hands of his mistress. For the first time in his life he entered the sacred precincts, and hurrying along he arrived just in time to see Evangeline, in a sweet morning costume, just taking from, or replacing in the dog's mouth, his coveted documents. The latter was really the case, for when Jup with his literary mouthful ran up to Evangeline and deposited his treasure, the paper
were scattered over the ground. Sur prised and puzzled at the whole affair she picked up one, and read, ' Evangeline ! my soul's idol ! how can I find courage to ask the question which wijl raise me to a Paradise of love should I find favour with thee, or sink me in the depths of despair by a refusal. Oh, that I had some way found me to acquaint thee with my heart-hunger for thy love !' The next leaf she picked up she did not intend to read, but she could not help seeing written thereon in bold characters the name of her Aunt Tilda, ' Matilda Hepburn.' Just as her wonder was increasing, she saw Tudor hurrying forward, and in her confusion stooped down to replace the papers in the dog's mouth, which act also served to cover her blushes and confusion at becoming aware of Tudor's devotion in such a singular manner. When Evangeline raised her face to look at Tudor the absurdity of the situation struck them both, and they laughed in concert. We need not say no further explanation was necessary. Tudor at last found the use of his tongue to such purpose that in less than half-an-hour they were irrevocably pledged to each other for better or for worse. The thought then occurred to Evangeline to ask concerning the name of Aunt Tilda being written on one of the papers. Tudor then explained that his uncle had given them to him for perusal, :and as she — Evangeline— and he — Tudor — were now as one, there could be no harm in their perusing the document together. The result was another strange discovery. It appeared that some thirty years before, a certain young lieutenant in H.M. Navy, Oliver Borthwick by; name, was in love with and paying his addresses to Miss Matilda Hepburn, and on the eve of departure for a foreign station had written a letter to ' her seeking to know his fate, per return, ' yes,' or 'no.' On receipt of the letter, 'Tilda' sat down and: indited a most favourable reply, but having just previously written a letter' to a girl friend in answer to a quest ion concerning some feminine preparation for the enhancement of beauty, she unfortunately enclosed each in the wrong envelope and never discovered her mistake. Thinking her lover had jilted her, she foreswore all proposals of marriage and ultimately became the dear Aunt Tilda of Evangeline. When Oliver Borthwick, on the day his ship set sail, received a' missive addressed in the handwriting of his beloved, he was not able to do
mure ai me uuic tiiau uu usi u iiuu his pocket for future perusal, and when the opportunity arrived and he opened the letter after passionately kissing tbe outside, he found himself addressed thus : — ' Dear O. (her friend's name was Olive), the best cure for palpitation of the heart is Popham's famous pills. Go to Glory (name of chemist) and you will get all you want. Yours in haste, Tilda,' Can we wonder after this that (he Admiral in embryo called the sex ' wreckers ' and ' pirates ?' A week alter the episode last re lated the -'doors of Marrlands opened to receive - an - elderly bald-headed sailor-like gentleman in company with a tall handsome young one, and both were, graciously received by Aunt Tilda, while Evangeline awaited, her turn to welcome her own accepted lover and the newly-restored one -of dear Aunt Tilda, for no time was to be lost in securing the autumn of love by those who were unfortunate enough to miss its spring. Barking joyfully around the group, Jup, the unconscious instrument of their happi ness, was patted and petted by all.
The roomy pew in the church found space for four on the morning of the following Christmas Day (Auni Tilda went ol mornings then), and although its dimensions have been since sorely tried by various juvenile additions to the worshippers, it is still looked upon with affection by the members of the two first generations as a spot sacred to their recollections of the past.