|Newspaper Title||The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946)|
|Trove Title||The Charm That Works|
dunsum . Ttwag
ito go home when the im-room ci<wtu. — "~' ' * S**#o»M notbe long"
Jtt fcy hewelf-^for the
ialr, to figged u ebe looked^ when the iilif wh dried wffi*
her mother and sister waui j«ib<kiw>
y? ??< : -??• i '•
nmednnonto iocB^tti>>wffwatinn pt*hM» ahe ff*>>
, in need, and had long been accustomed to go about at ail hours by s° m1f" fe and fearless, though Sarah was ;not allowed tb &a so. So the
^ !it on was agreed *0 } tot&t;itWasJompedat ' <•
pIXifyou find it late1 before *ou ate ready, dears," tjaid Jenny, fixing
1 nt by the tea-room pier-glass; " don't tamd about fetchlng me. I can bCr myself back quite well. It isn't worth while to waste a shilling on ^oing and coining."
^ AM Tight," said Sarah; and.mentally added, "I ought to be ashamed . .self, I know—bat I don t care 1
rmvsclf, I know—out »
Z set out briskly to walk home with her mother, glad of the exercise ur sitting for so many hours; and her sister invested an extra penny to •T from Spencer-street to the bridge because of her over-tired legs. It was [fir habit to take the tramto St.Kildhin preference to the train, in order The freely blown by such air as thefce was on the journey to and fro; and
, e#ted herself on the fore end of the dummy on-this occasion, quite
aware of the fact that the following vehicle- was in chase of her. She fticipated ft long evening of lonely meditation, which was the thing above
11 others that Bhe desired just nbw—two whole hours in which Bbe migh ® the image of Mr. Anthony Churchill in peace.
That gentleman in his prbpw person watched her flitting down the sea'
. road. He had not seerthet irifcefhat before, and daylight was failing Lt bat lie knew the shape and style of the airy little figure a long way off. He suspected Sarah of ha^ng tSoiilriyed%hat It should bealone to-night; but he knew that Jenny mils gniltless of anykho^Hedge that lovers were around, .flas he her lover? He put the tjueition td'himself, but shirked answering
it. He would see what he Was u.couple'of hours hence. One thing he • Vss quite clear about, however, and that Was that her deiencelessucss
w(a to be respected. . . '
< Unconscious of his neighbourhood; She made her way to the tiler, which
ffaa jjmost deserted, and seated herself on the furthest bench;1 There she composed herself in a'little Cloik'that she1 had brought withher, and began to stare into the grty haze of hky and beg, Starred with the riding lights of theships at Williatnstown, never once trirning her head to look behind her. Anthony sat down at the inner angle of the pier, stealthily lit a pipe, crossed his legs, laid his right arm on the tall, and watched her.
"After all," he mused, "herfather was an Eton hoy.; he' really was—I have proved it—and he had a morqtiis to fag for him. His people were gentlefolks; bo was he; showed it in every word he spoke, poor old boy. Maude, now—her grandfather was a bullock-driver, arid couldn't write his
name; and her father's a vulgar brute, in spite of his knighthood and his I money-hags. And Oxenham is a Manchester cotton fellow—got the crest for his carriage and tablespoons out of afiook. t don't see why they should rrant to make a row. Trade is trade, and we are all tarred with that brush.' Goodness knows it would be a better world than It is if we all conducted I business as she does—were as scrupulous and high-minded in our dealings
with money. We are in no position to look down upon her on that ground. ?
As for money, there's plenty'; I don't want any more." j
He puffed at his pipe, and the little figure grew dimmer and dimmer; but' he could see that she had not stirred.
"Little mite of a thing! No.bigger than a child she looks, sitting there like a baby to nurse upon one'a knee. In the firelight in the dusk beiore the lamps are lit gathered up in her husband's aims,'with that little head tucked under his ear "
He tapped his pipe on the pier-rail, rose, and walked up and down.
" Why not ?" be asked himself plainly. '' Could I possibly regret it,when she is bo evidently the woman to last ? Beauty is but skin deep, as the
copy-books so justly remark,,bather beauty is not that sort; she's sound!
oil through—a woman who won't be beholden to anybody for a penny— 1 who makes her own /rocks—takes care of them all like a father—stands .
against the whole world, witU herback to thewall " J
A long and slender shadow w&8 creeping across the bay, and he stood
with his own kick tuxped upon her to watch it.
"Only the other day I.was returning home, like those people — little thinking I was coining to do, a thing like this—fall in love with the daughter of one of myolerks, a restaurant-keeper—I—I—who have been so hard toplease, so impossible to satisfy, as Mary says! Good Lord! What will they all aay, if I really do marry ha that manner !" He walked up and down once more.
"What do I care? They'll see.whiat she is—dainty little creature, with that fine deer head! She shall not make her own frocks again, sweet as Bhe looks in them—her children's pinafores, if Bhe likes—monograms for my handkerchiefs—pretty things for ber house. What a house she'll have!—all in such delicate order, I know, and she looking after ereiything, as a good wife should do. I think I see her .cooking in a white upron, with her sleeves turned up. When the cooks are a bother, as Maude's so often are, that's what shell do—turn to and cook her hus band's dinner herself. Catch Maude cooking a dinner for anybody! Any way, I shouldn't like to be the one to eat it. A real home to
come back to of a night, when a fellow's tired Sitting down j with him after dinner, With her sewing in her hands—not wanting to be at a theatre or a dance every night of her life. How quickly she sews!—I watched her—able to do anything, those little hands, no bigger than a child's. But she's no child—not she; no doll, for an hour's amusement, like those others. A woman—a real woman—understanding life—a true com panion, that one can tell things to; knows what love is, too, if I'm not mis taken—or will do, when I teach her. Oh, to teach it to a woman with a lace like that—with living eyes like those 1" j
He was at the end of the m*in pier, looking over the bulwark at the narrow shadow on the sea. It was neariy abreast of St. Hilda now, gliding ghostly, 1 so dim and faint that he only knew where it was by seeing where it was tot, He stood sideways to Jenny's bench, and not with his back to it, as when he looked before; 'and in this attitude he saw her get up, and saw the Iking eyes shine in the light of the green lamp.
He stepped towards bey In a casual way.
"Is that you, Miss ldddOtil Getting a breath of sea air? That's right "ftere are Mrs, Liddon and Miss Sarah f
Good evening, Mr. Churchill. Yes-a'whiff; it is so pleasant when the tan is gone. My mother M sister were not able to come to-night, I—1
just going birch to them." •'
. That yog are not," said Mr, Churchill mentally; " not if I know it. But •1 •tortbe careful whtit' Tmribout, She's shaking like a leaf-I can hear it ™ ber mice, I mustn't be brutsl and frighten her. Little lady that she »! She mustn't get the idea that I'm a Don Juan on the loose." He half ^td as he dropped her hand, and said quietly, "I've been watching the fcril boat She's late. Do you ate her over there V
. Where?" asked Jenny; not that she wanted to see it, but that she didn't know what else to say at this upsetting moment.
Just over there. But itfe almost too dark to distinguish her. How glad ^11 all be to get home in time for supper and a shore bed. Have you *«rbaa-a voyager
„ j^en J'0u don't know what a tedious thing it Is."
1 only wish I did know,* responded Jenny, who had gathered herself w&cther. "I don't fancy I should suffer from tedium, somehow."
, "by? Doyou want bo much to travel? But of coarse you do, if you tove never done it"
"Above all things," she said earnestly. " It is the dream of our life-my
sister ami I."
^ou me happy In having it to come—in not being satiated, as I am. My, f ^ now is to settle down in a peaceful home, and never stir away • ^ H anymore."
light wBsbn htwfaoe. and he saw her smile, as if no longer
, ««ld of kirn, ' v« ! .: r , .<
whatever youdrewri," she said, "tie shalL probably realise ounj. Still, wvoaa dream oa. Thattjosts nothing."
, t». ton wat realise it-never lew." He abandoned his peaceful home
«Pot, and determined to take her travelling directly they were to!?' ^ tkere waahOpromWot of todium in that plan either, for his PanST ^ 88 H ^/hadnever'included the charm of 8nfh*C01^
the deUghtof edtaiMiigand enriohing the mind o! on intelligent ' aUo ^ own'wife. , ... . ^^^eaid Jenriy. ^we get book* from the libmiy, and read (k.fi !^e Pitoes that we want toaea, and the routes to them. V® know,
ent Line guide by heart, Welmntfor-picttusa. and photographs
ahd illustrated books. There are some nooks and corners 6f Europe we
• 0W,80 Fe never want a guide when we get there—if we
ever do get there.*
TTon 11 get there," said Anthony confidently; " don't doubt it."
Somehow it never occurred to him that she might decline to be personally conducted by him, but that was natural in a man, and especially a man of whom women had always made so much. He added, struck by a bright thought, "If you are fond of looking at pictures of places, I will send you a portfolio of photos that I have—mementoes of my many wanderings—it I may. They would amuse 'Miss Sarah. I should like to give her some amusement, if I could, poor little girl." (But he never thought of Sarah in his plan for becoming the showman of the world, except that she must be disposed of somehow—she and her mother and that young ass in the office—so that Jenny might be free, and at the same time easy in her mind about them; which was a detail that did not need to be considered at this
Jenny received the offer of the photos in silence; then said " Thank you " with a perplexed and perplexing expression, indicating that a " but" was on its way. He hastened to intercept it
" There's the steamer—do you see? Patience rewarded. They have a Lord on board, and a returning Chief Justice, and the loyal citizens /down to meet them have had no dinner. They've been waiting on the pier at Williamstown for houiB. Come and sit down, won't you? I'm sure.your
little feet must be tired."
He used the adjective inadvertently, and Jenny shied at it for a moment, like a dazzled hone. • But she had not the strength , to .resistdier intense desire to be with him a little longer, especially with that word, that tone of voice, compelling her.
" I must be going home," she murmured, but was drawn as by a magnet after- him when he turned to the bench on which she had before been
" It can't be more than eight o'clock, and how's the time you ought to be out, when it's cool and fresh," said he. " Don't you find the heat of I that room very trying since the warm weather came ?"
They talked about the tea-room in an ordinary way. Then they drifted into confidences about each other's private lives and interests ; and from that they went on to discuss their respective views as to books, creedB, and the serious matters of life; and all the time Anthony Churchill kept a tight hand upon himself, that he might not frighten her. It had to be a very strenuous hand indeed, for it was a sentimental night, with the sea and the stars and the soft wind, and she had never looked so sweet as now, away from all the associations of the tea-room, which' he had grown to hate, sitting pensively at rest, with her little hands in her lap. More than that, he had never known how well she was educated, how much thinking she had done, how intellectually interesting she was, until he had had this talk
At last, in an unguarded moment, he said more thaft he had meant to say. Laying his hat beside him, that he might feel the cool fan of the wind over his close-cropped hair, and his slightly fevered brain, he drew a long breath, and exclaimed in a burst, " Well, you have given me a happy hour! I wonder when you'll give me another like it!"
Immediately she began to recollect how late it was, and to be in a flurry to get home to her mother. All at once the suspicion that he might be divining her feeling for him, and that she might be doing wrong andi running wicked risks, assailed her. She rose from her seat without
" Not yet!" he pleaded impulsively, as she looked for him to rise too;
" Not yet! Five minutes more!" And he took her hand, which bnngnear i him, and tried to draw her back to his side, looking np at her in all the beauty of his broad brows, and his bold nose, and his commanding manli ness, with eyes that burned through hers to her Blinking heart. This was love-making, she knew, though not a word of love was spoken, and, under all the circumstances surrounding him and her in their social life, it terrified
" I have stayed too long already," she said. " I ought not to have been
here alone—so late."
The tremble in her voice, as well as the implication of her words, shocked him, and he pulled himself up sharply, regretting his indiscretions quite as
much as she did hers.
" Oh, it's not late. But I'm imposing on good nature, trying to keep you merely to talk to me. Fact is, I seldom come across people that I care to talk to." He held his watch open under a lamp. "Later than I thought, though—late for you to be about alone, as you say, Miss Liddon. You don't
mind my seeing you home, do yon ?"
She thanked him, and they walked to the tram together, without saying anything except that they thought rain was at hand ; and the tram set her down almost at the door of her lodgings, where Mrs. ,Liddon "and-Sarah awaited her on the doorstep—Sarah in an ecstasy, oL fcecret joy afcjiie apparent success of her manoeuvres. ? '