|Newspaper Title||Balmain Observer and Western Suburbs Advertiser (NSW : 1884 - 1907)|
|Trove Title||Next of Kin|
STORY TELLER. I
,J;,, Next, of Kin. ?
(Continued fiiom Ouk Last.)
The girl at lier easel looked after lnm for a moment, and then returned to her work on the, , bands of sunshine 'that fell through the tall mnllioned windows, and nude tremulous lights oir the solid pillars down tho long length of narrowing arches, ? .while her thoughts wandered, v whenever
they dare quit her palette and brushes, to a quiet, plainly-furnislied room, in a very unfashionable part of the city, where a dear, pale face was awaiting her return to brighten up as a mother's face can brighten over the child she loves. When Peter had done his duty by the party of sight-seers and pocketed their Jundsouie gratuity, he met ono of- the honorary canons with a learned archajologist from Oxford, and some ladies who wore blue spectacles. Peter was straightway introduced by the Canon to his friends as an antiquity that deserved inspection. A long conversation, in which the old man's reminiscences were almost uninter rupted by his listeners, came to a most satisfactory conclusion, and he then re turned to the souta aisle, in hopes that the pleasant young lady would still be there. But she and her easel were gone, and the Cathedral clock presently striking one, . he trotted off to eat his frugal dinner in his lonely, gloomy little house, nn tim nnrfli airia of the Ladve ChaDel
inclosure. The next morning, about tlie same time as he had seen her first, Peter's new acquaintance reappeared with her easel in the Cathedral. Peter was very soon aware of her presence, and, leaving alike his mournful musing over that much looked-for letter which never caino and liis eager expectation of paying clients, he came'at once to station himself besido the busy painter. 'I. suppose you have come to Carches ter to make a few pictures 1' he said timidly, when she had pleasantly returned his 'good morning.' If he had felt less curious about her, he would have asked, this and a dozen other questions, more or less impertinent, with perfect equanimity. 'Oh, no ! ' answered the girl, frankly. ' I am not a bird of passage. I came to live in Carcliester a few weeks ago.' ' Ah ! ' returned Peter, ' I thought you were quite ' a stranger. 1 never noticed you Before yesterday, and I know every face that comes here anything like regular.' ' 'No, doubt you do. You have been verger here for a long time, have yon not 1 ' she said, seeing that he was bent on another chat. ' Well,' replied Peter, with the air of a man who recognises in himself an ancient and venerable land-mark. ' I've been verger and lay-clerk to this Catlie .. dral .ever, since the days of Dean Ridley, and if you look at his brass tablet yonder in the transept, you'll see he died fifty two years ago come next January.' M Indeed ! ' said the artist, duly im pressed. ' That is a long time.'
' It is a long time from your point of view, missy,' said Peter ; ' that is, with it all before you, but from my point of view it5 is just something to think oTer on a lonely evening, when things that scarce anyone but myself can remember come back plainer, and nearer and clearer than the things which happened but a week ago' ?The girl looked up at him in silence. He spoke plaintively, as if the thought of thos? lonely retrospections oppressed him. Some day,' so her ? thoughts shaped themselves, ' I shall look back along my own life. My future will be all over, and reverie will be nothing but remembrance. How strange, and how impossible to realise.' Before she could think of an answer to the old man's half-expressed appeal to her sympathy, he had changed his key. 'VWhy,'' lie continued, ^ I can call to mind every parson' that came here for Bishop Winter's enthronement, but every incumbency in this city has changed lmnria ainnn ttinn. T ran rnmemher further
than that— back to the thanksgiving ser vice after Waterloo,— and I'm the only official who w&s 'there that day. It was a grand day. There hasn't been such a day since. \ La ! they couldn't manage thing*.' like that nowadays.' ' Yes, yes,' replied his listener ; ' you have seen a great many changes * and a great many things and people in ''your time.' I should think I have,' he exclaimed, ' Why, I sometimes think that if all the folks' ! have shown round this sacred edifice .were to come in all at once, every corner would be crowded, and there'd be crowds* that couldn't get in. But I'm getting old now — old and shaky. I'm ' like the last leaf on a bough, or the last twinkle of a fire. There's only a little time more for mo to be in the Cathedral.' Once more the girl's eyes glanced up at the old man with a sympathy that would, liave been difficult for her to ex press in words ; but he read it, and it reached his heart, for with a slow head shake, he murmured : 'God bless you! Goil bloss your pretty, kind face.' i For a short time there was silence between this odd pair. The artist bf6ke it by saying 'If you have a few minutes more to spare, would you mind going and stand ing beside that second pillar? I should very much like to put you in my sketch. I meant to have asked you yesterday
morning, but you wont away too soon. Peter hail more than onco posed fur sketchers, which lie called having his likeness done. lie had always been handsomely remunerated for his services as a model, and had looked on his remu neration as money well earned ; but on this occasion, when the young lady told him that she had finished, he pretended not to see her purse and outstretched hand, and, , for the first time in his life, perhaps, turned away from a. ' tip.' That afternoon, while Peter, with Jiis I curiosity respecting his fair unknown still unslaked, was fulfilling his duties about !f 1 ' HL%illUl llUI I , -.1.1 ?
tho vestries at service time, he heard ono of the minor canons say to Rowdoy, the big bass. '1 say, liowdey, do you know that girl who was painting in the Cathedral to day ?' - ' Oh, yes,' replied Kowdey, who knew all about everybody's business in Carclies ter. ' Her name is Lake ; she gives lessons in painting ; she has a brother in tho post-office here ; and lier mother, who is a widow, keeps house for them.' The minor Oanon, who. was very aristo cratic, said : ' Ah, indeed,' and dismissed the subject as having plebeian connections which counterbalanced its attractions ; but Peter was very much gratified by the crumb of information which had fallen to him. That evening, for the first time since the appearance of his advertise ment three months before, he forgot to ask whether the postman had passed his door before he went home to tea.
CHAPTER III. Muriel Lake and her brother were standing together by tho easel which held Muriel's just completed painting of the Cathedral isle. Muriel's face was flushed with honest pride ; so was her brother's. 'You are .a brick, Muriel,' was the post-office clerk's commendation of his sister's success. 'Your sketch is a real gem. No. wonder you have sold it already. What a pity it is that nature didn't fit me up with the same sort of brains she has bestowed on you !' ' Pray don't deplore that, my dear Tom,' replied Muriel, ' or I shall think you aro fishing for compliments. I feel inclined to lament tbat my earnings are so uncertain and casual, and that my con tributions to housekeeping are so spas modic and unsatisfactory, while yours are as safe a3 the Bank of England; and I am so provoked when I calculate my gains to see that there is no prospect of our sending mother out of this cold, damp place for- the- winter. In a favorable climate she might pick up her strength. I don't believe she ever will here.' ' That's a dismal view of the matter, Muriel,' said Tom slowly ; ' but I'm J afraid it is true. Do you know,' he con tinued, ' I have more than half a mind to get Hedley's opinion.' 'Hedley,' repeated Muriel ; 'is that your new doctor friend ?' 'Yes ; that fellow I told you was lecturing at tho institute. Hc's a sound, good fellow, and if I could pin any faith on any doctor I could on him. '' ' Why ? Has lie beon doing anything very marvelous in the way of cures ?' ' Nothing miraculous that I have heard of. I believe he is looked up to in his profession ; but it is the manner of the man that carries me 'awav. He's such a
trustworthy soul.' ' Well, if you have such confidence in him, and as we are so uneasy about mother's health, let us get his advice. Only, Tom, we shall , never persuade her into the extravagance of seeing a doctor when she is not suffering from any specific illness.' 'I know that,' replied Tom; 'but don't yon see that's just- where it all comes in. I shall ask Hedley here as my friend, for I want, you and him to know one another ; and I shall prime him to make a professional use of his visit, by which means, perhaps, we shall find our selves curing tho mother, without having had any argument with her over the thin edge of the wedge,' ' And do you know anything about this Mr. Hedley, Tom — who he is and where comes he from ?' 'Oh, do listen to her !' exclaimed Tom. 'Is she going over in a body, to Mrs. Grundy, that she must ask for a man's credentials before she makes up lier mind to be introduced to him 1 Why, Muriel, success has inflated you 1' ' Not in the least, Tom,' replieJ Muriel composedly. 'I am merely curious to here about your friend, if you know any thing of his antecedents.' ' Oh, yes ; I know lots about him. He is perfectly unreserved in manner. He was born in Australia and came to England to be educated as a doctor. I don't think he has any idea of going back to colonial lite, for he has no ties out there. His grandfather or his grandmother, or one of his progenitors was a Carcliester person.' 'Is that the reason he; has come to settle here 1' ' I should no t think so. At least I am quite sure it is not ; for he has told me that he is., as far as he knows, the last survivor of his family ; which ought to work on your feelings, so that you will make him warmly welcome.' (To be continued.)