|Newspaper Title||The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946)|
|Trove Title||The Charm That Works|
' come and hBVe h ,oot *°hnd,andgive meyour advice, will yon?
"•fZ' ys he's got all the luggage op, and he wants to know where to
me of the new things." '•? - •: ' , ?'
paV°Anthony Churchill would have felt himself insulted if you had called
•iwiow" ft valet. Australian gentlemen don't keep valets. The person h»» Ie Uad certainly filled that office in England, wherehis master had ^Shimup, but was now merely 4 sort of private male housemaid of p !L quality, who waited on hiB employer in the East Melbourne
hprs and mode him more comfortable than anybody elsfe could have ckam flfJjen he was away travelling, Maude .took on his servant as an extra d°1Ln in order to guard him against the seductions of other wealthy
vlora who were known to covet him-but when Tony was at home,
?« wtt8 his indispensable attendant Mary Oxenham used today that Jarv!s was the main oanae of that celibacy which she oould not but deplore
n of 35, who could so well afford a wife and family.
•".S dear/' she said, in response to his proposal; "I shall be delighted-" She rose from the Toorak luncheon-table to dress for the
y°n ftre 801"8 a^hyr Cried Mrs. Churchill, prettily ' "When r have hardly had a word with you I And when you
jjnow it is my day at home, and I cah't.dome : with youl Mfeiy, it's very
selfish of you, to cany bim off: and keep him all to yourself— when he has been in town the wbole morning."
'^TlTwme back to dinner," he eaid soothingly. " And We'll have a game i f billiards together in the evening, if yon like." ' "
° "But 1 want you now, Tony 1 All the world is coming this afternoon, }nat
pose m see you, and I did so want to show you off"
""•?The very reason, madam, why I go. I c
'The very reason, madam, why I go. I don't like being shown off"
"Hot you know what I mean, Tony—yon can do exactly what you like— 8way and smoke, or anything. And there are several new girls—pretty jL_whom you haven't seen before." !
" Pretty girls have ceased to interest me very much. I've seen such a lot
" Yon are a nasty, horrid, disagreeable boy t I suppose I have ceased to interest you-that's what yon'd like to say if you weren't too polite."
" I'd cut my tongue out before I'd say such a thing."
He smiled down upon her, strong, calm, amused, indifferent, as if she were a kitten frisking. He was always interested in her, if only because j he had to be always on bis guard to keep her from making a fool of herself. She looked up at him, with a pout and a laugh, and proceeded to make hay while the Bun shone—to make the moat of the little time that Mary l&ve her for the enjoyment of his company.
Brother and Bister departed as soon as the latter was ready, preferring the homely tram to the carriage that Mia. Churchill desired to order for them ; and spent a quiet hour together in Tony's chambers, where Jarvis had left nothing to find fault with. There were pictures for Mrs. Oxenham to see, «nd a multitude of pretty things that Tony had brought out to adorn his rooms, or as presents for his friends; and these were very interesting to a lady of modem culture, as she was, secretly proud of and confident in her discriminating artistic sense. And she much enjoyed an uninterrupted gossip with her brother, he and she having been close comrades for many yens before Maude was heard of. They had a great deal to say that they didn'tcare to say when she was present
Jarvis offered tea, but it was declined. "No, thank you," said Mary. "There's a little place where I make a point of having tea whenever I am in town-kept by some people whom I am interested in. And it isn't good for me to drink too much. I think, Tony, I'll be going, as I have a little com mission to do for Maude."
"I'll go with you," said Tony, " if you'll just let me finish my pipe. It's the sweetest pipe I have had for a long time. After all"—with a luxurious sijh—"there's no place like home.*'
! "Don't call this a home," bib sister retorted.
' He cast a complacent eye around the handsome room, which had wit nessed so many masculine festivities andsymposiums. " I might go further and fare woree," he said, with a comfortable laugh. " Do you remember the man in Puvch who didn't marry because be was so domesticated? I think I am like him. I love a quiet life. I like my armchair and my fire side of an evening." He puffed meditatively, while Mary drew on her gloves. " What's your errand for Mande !" he asked abruptly.
"She wants me to tell Mrs. Eari something."
"I could have sworn it Now, if I bad a wife who thought of nothing hot her clothes "
"Who want* you to have a wife who thinks of nothing but her clothes? Do you suppose they are all Maudes? Gome along, and don't aggravate
He heaved himself out of his deep chair, retired to take off his smoking jacket, and escorted her to the tram and to Collins-street
" If yon are going to be long," he said, at Mrs. Earl's door, " Til look into theclab for a few minutes." j
"I'mnotgoingtobe a second, but don't wait forme," she answered. "Go to your club, old fogey, bnt be home in good time for dinner."
However, when she had done her errand, which was only to deliver an "gtnt message concerning the trimming of a Cup gown—to which Mrs. &ri was not likely to pay the least attention, knowing her business better Gian any lady could teach her—there was Tony on the pavement, still in devoted attendance.
' Where do you want to go now, Polly ? " he asked, as if clubs were
nothing to him.
Oh, nowhere—except just to get my tea. Don't wait, dear boy." h Where do you go for your tea? " • (i 6 mom in Little Collins-street."
W hat on extraordinary place to have one's tea in I" He signalled for a hmsom. "I'll go with you."
Oh, no; don't you bother. It's not a place for men."
11 take you to the door, at any ;rat>e."
He took her to the door,.and the outside of the basket-maker's premises
e him curious to see the inside, and he begged to' be .allowed to escort
upstairs. " If only to see that you are not robbed mid murdered/' he
.''N° fe« of that," she returned, laughing. " You go and amuse yoursel « ebb. This is abates' place."
Men prohibited r
"in '?—bited/bntthey don't want them."
nght. I'll leave the dab tor you."
ewentto his club. anid ahe to her tea and scones (the room was Bath nly fall, and Jenny too busy to be talked to); and they met again t
in time to entertain Maude for half an hour before she had t
Jk* d#y Maude waadetermined to have her stepson for hereelf
sfttr t 5 68 there was a dark rumour that he was going to desert her the da Anth or"^Superiorattractions of Jarvis and his bachelor abode; en ft to u®8 quite wU,|ng gratify her. Recognising that she would b
p, Mary Oxenham chose to stay At home and amuse the children
kJZ* ''fe pretty stepmother (seven years his junior) drove away aftc
"ttoWif skjiuuhw |W¥Bi reu««w —
Thev „ •? totenrilde purpose of paying calls together,
that the»*^ — Ca"9'6,1,1 toen, being in East Melbourne, Maude propose
" Whiftv"011'^ 6,1,1 irn*® ®ome tea. -
turn ^claimed Tony. " Haven't you had enough tea for one aftei
Mid she, "and I know a place where you < I am just dyingtor a cup."
"Whv Thefunniest place you ever saw." ...
J1 ? Htbe plaoe Mary wouldn't take me to_yesterday. ,l0h«,wnotadmltt«L"
. "fyC]|7 'wry 1 .HVj : . ? •
WW fbty do.Didn't yonhear Mm- Bullivant say she wi ^«*w A,I)-C
saw you. I^and had no eyes <
% ^ ewpwpany you, and have some tea too?" \
^ ®ay, You'll be charmed—everybody is. j -Thtoe ate dei
0011 actually rest yourself, and. tables ,so High '•—,
bpfl/ifni sf' &n^w) a -®veW knee, " And it's awfully retiredand
^®®l)r hope"—-regardless of her previous
would «Ji>^fl88 end—" that it won't get too weli knoprn. That
would spoil it.
thaTw!i>nj' through the basket-maker's shop (that customers passed r.nf t ^wofhis wares, was a consideration that largely affected the
*. . ' oria nd vantage), and knocked his head and liis elbowB on
a rrcase, and thought it was indeed the funniest place of its kind ,e .. ,®ver 6e®n- Bit- when he reached the tea-room, and^looked rouna with his cultured eyes upon its singular appointments, he wiis quite
churned. ^ expected him to be, and more surprised than
. " ^ow very extraordinary 1" he ejaculated. " .What an oasis in the howl
ing desert of Little Collins-street!"
Yes, isn t it?' returned Maude, jerking her head from sj£/e to side. "I
ew you would like it. But, oh, do look how full it is! How tiresome of
?e0P ? ^°° g ^ere> 68 ^ there were no other place in the whole
wnl There s hardly a table left. Oh, here'sonel I'll get that girl to put. it in the comer yonder. She knows me." •
It will do here," said- Anthony, with a little peremptory air that she
as Quite aennRfonwd 4r> «• fiU" »
" himself.into a basket chair, and it creaked ominously.. .
Whht a Very extraordinary pince!" he repeated, as1 his stepmother drew on her gloves in preparation for prolonged repose and conversation. Then, as Jenny advanced, blushing a little—for she knew this was the junior partner, and he stared at her "intently—" What a very " He left that
Tea and scones for two, if you please. Yes, she's quite a new type, isn t she?—like her tea-room. She's the daughter of old Liddon, who used to be in the office, and who was killed by being run over on the railway the other day. Mary says she's quite well educated."
'What!" cried Anthony. He sat bolt upright in his chair. "Old Liddon dead 1 Good Heavens! And his daughter keeping a restaurant! Why, I thought they rather prided themselves on being gentlefolks. The old man used to tell me he was ah Eton boy—quite true, too." .
" He married his cook," said Mrs. Churchill (which was a libel, for poor old Mrs. Liddon's family was as " genteel" as her own), " and I suppose the girl takes after her. Mrs. Liddon's cooking talents *are now exercised on the tea and Bcones that they sell here, and they do her credit, as you will see. I'm sure I wish to goodness I could find a good cook!"
" If that is Miss Liddon," B&id Anthony, who was watching the screen for her reappearance, " I think I ought to speak to her."
"Oh, no, you oughtn't, Tony. It would never do. Mary doesn't want men to talk to her. Mary is taking a great interest in her, yon must know, and she'd like to keep men out of the room altogether—only she doesn't want to hinder custom—just for Miss Liddon's sake, for fear she should be taken liberties with, or annoyed in any way, as if she were a common
This was a very injudicious speech, but then Maude was nearly always injudicious.
I don't annoy women," said her stepson severely; " and I am not 'men.' I am a partner of the firm that has lost her father's services—jf-jee haye lost"
them." ? \ ' • 'J.,'
" Oh, yes; he was killed on the spot—all smashed to liftlebits."
" I would merely say a word—of sympathy, you know.f';; ' ; :
"Don't do it, Tony; it would be most improper. Jf you attempt' to scrape acquaintance with her I'll never bring you here aghin. "Mary would blame me, and make a dreadful fuss." " "
"Mary is so much in the habit of making g fuss, isn'tshe?"
" I assure you she would,. Yqu see-she wouldn't let you come yesterday. You can make your condolences to the brother in the office."
So Anthony did not say anything to Miss Liddon, except" Thank yon,'* in a very gentle tone. As She approached with the tea and scones, he rose and stood—her little head was not much above his elbow—and he took the j tray from her'hands. The unwonted courtesy , brought a deeper flush to
Jenny's pale cheeks—they were pale with the weariness of being on her feet all day—and Mrs. Churchill had her first suspicion that the young person was pretty. She determined that she would not bring Tony to the tea room again.
Nevertheless, being there, and very comfortable, she would have sat on with him indefinitely, had he allowed it; but he would not allow it. Her meal finished, she was taking the place and time of paying clients, as several others were doing, causing Jenny to wonder if she had not made a mistake in providing enshioned chairs. He proposed to call at the office for his father, and drive the old gentleman home—an attention from his charming wife that always gratified him; and Maude did not see her way to object They returned to Toorak quite early, and Tony lit a pipe and went off with his sister for a saunter in the shrubberies (to get the history of the Liddons up to date), while his stepmother was hastily getting into a yellow satin tea-gown with a view to an ante-dinner Ute-d-lSte on her own
In the evening, when she was enjoying her game of billiards—bare-armed, bare-necked, with diamonds flashing—and Tony, who couldbeatthebest, was letting her win everything; while Mary in the drawingroom played sonatas to her father, who snored a gentle accompaniment with placid hands on his stomach—the three Liddon women, having pounds and pounds in the cash-box, were treating themselves to a blow on the St fcilda pier. The air was clear and cold, the sea was brisk and musical; and when Jenny found herself at the pier end, with the calm night around her, she wanted to lay her head down on the back of a bench and cry.
" You are tired, duckie," said the mother tenderly.
"A little," the girl confessed. "My legs ache, running after so many customers. But I'm not going to complain of that I'll sit here and rest, while yon and Sarah walk up and dpwn. Your legs waut Btretching."
They wrapped her up and left her j qnd while they perambulated the pleasant platform, talking of their' commercial successes, and how dear Joey would come round when lie heard -of them, she sat quite still, tuid stared at the sea, and thought of .Mr. Anthony Churchill.
The world had changed since he came into the tea-room, and looted at her with that gentle gravity, and stood to receive her and take her tray
from her with that delicate respect. . What man in athousand, in a hundred j
thousand, would treat her as he had done, the man being so great a man, and she so small and humble ? What man, of all the men in Melbourne, was to compare with him for beauty and bigness and every tiling that was manly to look at? She recalled bis long stare—not rude, but keen, like a blade running into her; and his-courteous, "I thank you," and how he looked as he sat drinking his tea and eating his scone, glancing a dozen, times in her direction when he did not think she noticed him.
"Oh, what a fool I ami" she raged to herself, shaking her little body fiercely. " As if he could ever be anything to me!"
Then she sighed and drooped, and pictured it all over again.