Chapter 138621353

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Chapter NumberVI
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article138621353
Full Date1891-12-19
Page Number4
Corrections0
Word Count2794
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946)
Trove TitleThe Charm That Works
article text

Coapxxb VL

He was still afraid of taking liberties, so be kept aw bom the tea-room

- * y p£Mro, taking hia pleasures in other walks of life. Thentbe spirit!

> retain thither , and ke chose theiaognng for hU visit, Srhea

sfinjfitlf time to ritdoTOtosSy:<frllJmtliitiesoqll vSTfe! ' sjfek>h<> eoorted hna-sMtafiile's tmfci*end thcstrepsr- j

Ito have ao mpittijocptirpose intteworidbtfond

' bringing

I and hands aiMtniVaeyer to bsgoMy aacetthicd. j

U/ dawin* comparisons, tb their disadtdn*

- fl ;? ?' 1. "l 1 >#*

(svent another axons* Josjpting't* see Miss ; and the happy tfao^ptt'OoesossA lo -frfa* of

. sslsntsil fmni TKprt ImslMil yinflow

thing bfe could see there, hid it in his hansom as he w^ntr through &te street, and carried it with some sbamefacedness to the table of the money-changer, where the two sisters were sitting together, awaiting

customers.

"Good morning, Miss Liddon. Don't get up. I have not come fot tea this time. It just struck me that it would refresh Miss Sarah, sitting here all day, if she had a flower to took at." And he presented his bouquet to the crippled girt, pretending that Jenny had nothing to do

'with it'

" Oh!" she breathed deeply. " How good"! How very lovely I" And, "Oh, oh—h 1™ cried Sarah simultaneously. And they smelt the flowers in ecstacy, and Jenny ran to draw a tumbler of water from her big filter.

" It's only a bit of a bunch," he mumbled disparagingly, " but it'a sweet. I'm awfully fond of the smell of lilies of the valley myself."

" So am I," said Sarah. " And 1 don't know how to thank you."

" Oh, it's nothing i I just thought you might like it, don't yon know. It seemed a weary thing for you to sit here for hours, with nothing bttt the

money-boxes to look at."

He opened and shut his watch. Jenny was standing beside him, visibly palpitating, touching the white bells with the tips of her fingers, ft^fiiig nothing. There was a sound of footsteps and-rustlings on the stairs. It was impossible to^rrpiong the interview.

"Well, good-bye,"lie said suddenly, extending his hand., "f mug&gq

back to work."

As he plunged down the dark stairs into the narrow street, his heart was beating in quite a new style, and he was distinctly aware of it. " Little bit of a hand!" he said to himself, opening and shutting his own broad palm, that had jnst swallowed it as if it had been a baby's. "Little miteof a creature! I could crush her between my finger and thumb—and she's got the pluck of a whole army of men like me. I used to think there were no such women in the world now-a-daya, but there are—there are, after all. LitUewispof a thing! I could take her up in my arms and carry her on my shoulder as easily as I do the children. I wish to Heaven I could carry her—out of that beastly place, which will kill her when the summer comes. Hulio! If I don't look out, I shall be falling in love before I know where I am. And with a restaurant-keeper, of all people! A pretty

kettle of fish that would be 1"

He turned into Coll ins-street, and made his way back to his office, still musing in this dangerous fashion. " What a housekeeper she would make! What a mother! What a pride she'd take in her home! Those other girts, once they'd got a house, would let it take care of itself, and their husbands too, while they ruffled about, like peacocks in the sun, and entertained themselves with Platonic love affairs. As long as there was a useful person to pay the bills, they wouldn't bother their heads about the butcher and baker. Oh, I know them ! But she's not that sort. She wouldn't take our money, honest money a$ it was—she wouldn't be beholden to anybody—brave little thing! And such a ridiculous mite as it is, to go and do battle with agrest, brute world for independence!"

Passing through a small army of busy clerks, bis eye lit on Joey, who was regarding him with the veneration due from a mortal to an Olympian

god.

" Oh, Liddon—you are Liddon, aren't you!—how are you getting on !" he

demanded suddenly.

"Very well, sir, thank you. I believe I am giving every satis faction,' said Joev, with his young complacency.

Anthony regarded him for a moment in deep thought, and then asked him how Jong he had been in the firm's employ.

" About two years," said Joey. " And what's your salary T

''Ahundredand thirly, sir."

" Oh, well, I most make inquiries, and 6ee if it isn't getting time to be •thinking of arise." Nobody had thooght of a riBe for poor Liddon, senior, who had been worth a dosea of this boy. " And how is your mother getting on with.the—the little business she has entered into!"

"I hardly know," mud Joey, with a blush and a Btammer. "I don't see very much of them now."

"Why not?"

- " I'm sure I don't know, sir. Somehow I can't take to the tea-room scheme. I can't bear to see my mother and sisters doing that sort of thing, when our family has never been connected with trade in any

way."

" Don't despise trade, young man. You are connected with it youralf— and not stall to your disadvantage, it strikes me—as your father was before

you."

" Yes, sir; but this is a very different sort of thing, and my father, as you may have heard, sir, was an Eton boy."

" I have heard so. Weil, you follow in your father's steps, my lad, and do your duty as well as he did. And your first duty is to look after your womenkind, and save them in every way you can. Out of office hours you could do a great deal for them, couldn't you ?"

" I'm sure," complained Joey aggrievedly, " I'm ready to do anything— only Jenny won't let me. She will manage and control things, as if she were the head of the family. She would go into this low tea-room business in spite of all. I coold say. However"—drawing himself up— " I hope it won't be very long before she is in a different position."

A stinging thought flashed into Mr. Churchill's mind, aad -changed his amused smile into an anxious frown. "Do you mean by marriage?" he asked; e&ying to himself that she was just the woman to take up with a! loafing vagabond, who would live upon her at his ease, while she worked to j support him. j

"No, Bir. But my father's uncle, who is agrest age, to rich, and we expect to come in for sbme of his property when he dies."^ •

" Gh!" in an accent of relief. "I wouldn't advise you- to ooahl oh any contingencies of fhatsort.- Just atick to business, und depend bh your own exertions—as your sister does. Take pattern by her. anidyon won't gofar wrong.**' •' -

Joey looked at his young chief with a new expression; - " Do you know my sister!* fm inquired.

:? " I know of ber," aaid Anthony, warily. " My father and Mrs. Churchill, and my sister, Mra-Orenhun, have taken a great interest in the ttoiooh ever sinoe it was first opened; i have heard from them of her noble -efforts to help her family."

This was a new view of the cue to Joey, who decided to go and see his mother and sisters in the evening.

Just before Anthony passed out of the tea-room, after giving his flowers to Sarah, two stout countrywomen with children came in; people who had arrived by train, with the dust of travel in their throats, and to whom a cup of tea never came amiss at any time. Jenqy made them comfortable. In Boft chairs, and gave them a pot and a pile of soones;'then she comeback to Sarah's table, and, kneeling down, encircled the lilies ofjhc valley with her arms. She Inhaled deep breaths of perfume, and gave them forth in long sighs, with her eyes shnt. Sarah watched her.

" They are the very dearest flowers you can buy," she remarked. " And I know they arebought, for hardly any one can growthem." -v j

Jenny opened her eyes, and gfoated on them. " You hare seven, Sally"' she said wistfully. *' Yon; might pre, me one." , "j

"For the matter of that, they are more yours than mine," said Sarah.: "But take aUyon like." - . '

Jennytookbnegrsen stalk iaherfingea,and,wAUuitg to the

pm jftpliEjfrtaflsps, jts.flOi Jon* .swtehsd4* mf&:

^beyhjteJ under her <*un, Mdsfc* was forking down hat nose »»d sniffing at 1

ijl-^4 ^-^8^ a )??? .u;' ' r. v, i }

i toasd 4M-w them there, and, one j

aftoiymwthiemhotthsrs* Onthatoooaaionhehad an oosmnattonwith the «*ster,bul; tsifcid to twm^ tnmuteswita hmm^heoaniBg we«y inafklsnHsi On ttaitMoirinii diiyhs oains alsa, bringing vioteU and

t»skto fromtt»Too»kganl«n<havfoggiwa JKfttiaito iikdiailSteltjnt fttowtetfortbamtejpttw* of Ids own rooms).

•boas1 iw flhiil wm bto flimnniito toiastoihtaans temt

and caught him. He waa oomforti»hW4AUr trtl flt Pjl

J^bedM^lim^feeivaoAtoofc^totaiklorth'wai, 4( "y de** boy, what are yon doing here!"

If. A.««ortod,<1™. *» o™*.w " But yon h>?t not brought «n]mwf p>

" Ko; I had a fancy for a solitary cap."

" Oh, solitary 1 Yon think 1 didn't see von torn™, »uu

tor"lJSk"'.,*Utto k«-looK», «if yen l»d b«. «ltSm

"What doesn't do! What iniquity am Xaocasedof; Maude brinm «.

**te £or ** 5 and I find the Lkidons keeping ^ intereat in the fact which we all do, and areiJduto bound to do; *"41 ta,ka ^ttie to that poot crippledchild-d can't talk to the other one, because Bhe's always too busy; and hoe you look at m» ^ if I were a Shameless ffHUifrtr " . . M®CM r "Hnah-sh I don't talk so totaL Somttoa, dear, pleaae'V-to Jennv

approached to: serve bet patromhs. , " TBefsia no teal harm in your coinilS teebnoaatlW teourse-you don't Suppose I am not quite awote of &Z

but Jt a tie look of the thing, Tony. A man alone does not look wdl imia

placeltkethSB.'1.

" I don't think I ever thdnght -of how I looked." . r " You ***** I mean. JPe come here, father and Maude and I to help the place, and because we do want tea, Maude and L atanv

rate-—•" •' ? ^

"So do I. I want tea ocoastmajiy, as well as other mortals sweltering in

the-^ty dust; and I'm sure I want to help the place/'

" Don't be provoking, Tony. You' never want tea—it'a nonsense. When ybu are thirsty, ydu want whisky and soda.: And aa for helping the place you do exactly the other thing—and you must know it," '

" What is the other thing f

He lowered bis voice, and Mrs. Oxenham did not answer him for some minutes, Jenny lieing present (looking rather unusually dignified), arranging the tray on the wicker table. A faint perfume of violets exhaled from that ?mail person ias she passed him, whereby he knew that she had his flowers about her somewhere—in her breast, he fancied. He rose and stood, aa he always did, when she was moving'about him.

" The other thing," continued Mary, when he again took his seat, "u that you expose that poor girl to injurious suspicions."

""Good Heaverm!" he ejaculated.

" It Is of her &at I think, and of whom yon ought to think—not of your own idle man-abont-town whims.. You see she is a lady, Tony, not the sort of person one usually finds in these places—really a lady, I mean."

"Certainly. And I never thought Of her as anything else, I assure

you."

"She is qnite helpless, poor child. She can't prevent men from coming in by themselves and loafing here, if they choose to do it. I don't think she ever sufficiently considered what she might be exposing herself to in that way, when she entered upon this business; but I know she intended the place to be a ladies' place."

Mrs. Oxenham sipped her tea with a vexed air, while Tony looked at her gravely, drawing his moustache between his lips, and meditatively biting

it.

"You see, TonVj a number of people come here who know you, at any rate by sight—I can count ak least half a dozen at this moment—and what do you suppose they say when they see pn as I saw you just now 1"

" i don't think I oare much what they say."

" Ko; it doesn't affect you. It never does affect<a man; but it affects my little Jenny, whom I have been so anxious to protect from anything of the sort.- In the absence of all other reasonable attractions—to a man like you —they will soy that you come hereto amuse yourself with her."

-" Anybody must see that it is impossible for a fellow to say a word to her. No will-o'-the-wisp could be more difficult to catch hold of."

" There arc plenty of slack times—there are opportunities enough, of course, if one chooses to them. Nobody will be so silly as not to know that. And it's not fair to her, Tony dear. Yon would not be blamed —oh, not in the least, of coarse ; but she would be held cheap, on your account They would forget that she was a lady—a great number don't remember it, don't know it, as it is; and the tea-room might lose some of its repute as a select little place. If Bbe could help herself—if she could choose whether you"are to be let in or not—it would be different. Don't yon

see!"

"Isee," said.Tony, thoughtfully.

He sat back in bis chair, absently gnawing his moustache, w hile Mrs. Oxenham, atiafied that she had: explained herself and was understood, concluded her repast; and he even allowed her to go to Sarah*6 desk to pay for it. Then, at a signal from her, be'perfunctorily escorted her down stairs, put her in the carriage, and saw her smilingly depart to pick up their stepmother, who was paying a visit to Mrs. Earl.

Walking meditatively into Elizabeth-street by himself, it suddenly occurred to him that he had not paid for.his own teaandscone, in die peaceful enjoyment of which he had been so rudely interrupted. He hurried back to Sarah, with his sixpence in his hand, and apologies for his

absent-mindedness.

Something in the intelligent face, as she looked keenly at him, prompted him to say—what he had not . dreamed of saying—" My sister has been scolding me. She says I am not to come, here any more, because Miss

Liddon does not want men—men on'their own account, I mean. .. "X'dpu't tijipk site does—asarule,":said Sarah, gently.

"IamBony." ,

"Yes, so ami." ???':'? -v/'-'/* - „ " I—I wonder whether I might callon you some day—where you Jive . " Unfortunately, we don't'lite anywhere—except b&e—we only sleep.

- "Not pa Sundays!" - t.' * ,

" We have not made onrselves comfortable, even for Sundays, >ct. 6 was bo afraid of Incurring expense, till she saw how -the business w as going to answer. Now slieis talkingof a proper sitting-room, but of course

will take s little time. We use! op our furniture for this. Sarah ioomm

at him again, and, after an inward struggle, added in a lower tone,

at mm Sjpuo, auu, uia nu T * « • .. ;n fli!

spend nearly aU our fine evenings on the. St JUlda pier- lArpB day, we want air when we can get it, and sea sir, if possible. She

the sen, and it is easy to get down thiere when the tea-room is shut

_ ' * nil li. t>

Oxenham recommended it." u.ll0

, Heheld<wt|>j» hw»d-#of«h ibe town was fuU, and three women

wanted hU attentions for themselves were watching lnm-and his ejes

waniea mm hu«umuu« tw wicuiobmw «viv ^ —-o t » m

" thank you " as plainly as eyes could speak. Carefully looking au a> _ the spotwhere Jenny urns busy (but hungrily observing him out

he plunged do*n

theataia, smdjw^sway to#"* witoaUflhtstep. .

Atthetopof GoUinS*treefche enoountered the carriage, with

Miaiytol^«iid th^wta»pedtoffi»erttohim. ^ wjth

" Come home to dinner with us, Tony," his step-mother entreated,

allherstailesandwiles.

"Can't," he briefly answered her.

" Oh, why cot! We are just goingout*

" Another engagement, unfortunately." .„« »

"Whatengagement? Tbere'sno^onto-n^HIm^ oftheCi0b He didn't know what to J»y,*>he nodded to|»eduecto the st. Jbr all the engagement be had was to .go and walk upand ao*

Hilda pier. -%'A'Z '-'iff"