Chapter 138621479

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Chapter NumberXII
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article138621479
Full Date1891-12-19
Page Number8
Corrections0
Word Count2760
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946)
Trove TitleThe Charm That Works
article text

Chaftks XII.

Anthony's journey had-been a pleasant one- .-especially the Utter part of it, when the coolness of a dewy night had replaced the glare of day; •molting quietly, and meditating upon hia prospects, he would not have changed places with a king. Since he had definitely made np his mind to

marry Jenny, and since his father had admitted the wisdom of that pro-1

ceeding, and consented to it, all seemed plain and clear before him ; for he had no fear of Mary, who was the first to know her worth, and already treated her as a sister, and no fear at all that the girl herself would for a moment dream of refusing him. He was too deeply experienced in the signs and tokens of the supreme sentiment not to recognise it when he saw it, and he had seen it very plainly once or twice through the modest dis guises that she tlattered herself had screened it from hitnV

All the way up he had been thinking of her, imagining their meeting at Waudooyamba, and all that Ife" would do on the morrow, which was Sunday, and a most beautiful day for love-making. He planned the time and circumstances of his marriage, and how the other Liddons should be disposed of while he was showing the world to his bride, and where he and she would live, and what sort of home they would have, when they settled down after their travels. Being Saturday night, which passengers by the express who want to go all the way to Sydney don't choose for starting, on that journey, if they can help it, he had room to put up liis legs and make a rug pillow for hi3 head ; in which condition of bodily ease, his mind, so to speak, went out to play, and amused itselt delightfully. Jenny would not have known herself had she seen how she was pictured in the fancies of his dreaming brain.

Needless to say, he never dreamed of seeing her on the platform when Ire arrived, and did not do so. At each of the country stations there was a lounging crowd to see the train come in, people to whom it was the chief entertainment in life, and who were a great nuisance oocaaionally to the hungry and thirsty traveller with but a few minutes in which to get his meal; but these had nothing to do with Jenny or with .him, and were ignored as far as possible. He distinctly heard the Oil's " of Clemen tine and Alice, and tire sound of his name,- and nothing was less likely to suggest the presence of his little sweetheart, with her shy refinement. He knew that a man would have been sent to meet the train, and looked for him and him only. In two minutes his rug and luggage were in tire boggy, and the light vehicle spinning out of the town.

The groom was a youth who was not snpposed to know anything about the inside of his master's house, and Anthony heard no news that interested him—except that Mr. Oxenham did not intend to drive Emily again with ladies and children behind her; which was a great relief to him. He lit his pipe afresh, and leaned back in his corner with arms folded, and thought of what was coming, in a mood of mind that he had imagined himself to have outgrown years and years ago. The night was very sweet and still, with its delicate mixture of moonlight and Bhadow; a night to make the most world-hardened mail feel sentimental. And the spell *of the lonely bush is very strong upon those who are native to it, when they have been away for a long time.

" There will be a moon again to-morrow night," he thought "And all these leagues of Bolitude to lose ourselves in! It shall be settled to-morrow night, and then we will both stay for Christmas, while I teach her to get used to it Oh, this is better than the Richmond lodgings, or the St Kilda

pier!"

Tlirough the trees he saw a dark bank, crowned with a cluster of low roofs, uplifted from the valley pastures to the palely* shining sky. He looked at it with kindling eyes, and thought of the little figure moving about the many rooms, in the atmosphere of cultured people—its native air—and how considerate and sagacious his sister Mary was. A light like a Star stole out upon the hill, and another, and another. He hoped devoutly that Mary had not sent her charge to bed.

" What time do you make it, Patf' " About eleven, sir; not more."

Oh, that wasn't bed-time! And she was not ill now. Perhaps, however, dwwmdd. mak3saa-.aDeaw.to setae, lest she ahoold be in the way at the family meeting: it woald be jmt like her. Perhaps she would go to bed to avoid him, out of pure shyness. The doubt worried him, for he had set bis beart on seeing her that night—just to satisfy himself thatshewasreslly alive and well, and had not been* forgetting to care for him during his long

absence fromher.

Hany Oxenham, j>ipe in mouth, stood at jtire open garden gate. Maty stood on tire step of-t^re front door. Conscious of guilt, they greeted him with more than usual cordiality.

"And so you have really come, after all, my dear old boy," his sister

cried, with her anna about his neck. "This it good of youiVZ^: lack that I never expected !" K™*ioiyou! AP"**of

" Yes, I've come. Awfully glad to get intoclean air, out of those stint; streets. How are the kids? Why didn't you let me come last nightr

*' Oh, the kids are as right as possible. Yon won't know them they u grown so. Of course, they are in bed and asleep, or they would be punta yon "down between them." " . Piling

She was hoping the tiresome brats wouldn't begin to talk of Jenuv th first thing in the morning, and he was anxiously peering over her shoulder9

" Why did you stop me yesterday, Polly f *,

" Oh, for reasons—never mind now, as long as yon are here. Come in and have some supper. You muBt be hungry and tired after your long journey

Did you bring me some fish ? Oh, thanks. It will be a treat, after weeks

of Hurray cod."

He followed her across the hall into the diriingtoom, where half the table was spread with a dainty meal. He looked around; there was no one

there. He looked at Mary, and he thought ahe blushed.

" Where is Miss Liddon?" he inquired coolly. " Has she gone to bed?'

This time Mary blushed, unmistakably. She exchanged a faltering glance with her husband, who sidled out of the room ; then she rallied her dignity, and quietly replied that Hiss Liddon was not with her.

" She wob here two days ago," said Tony .darkly, " How do you know thai?" . .

- " Never toind how I know it Only I do, for a certainty." - • "

" Not from toe 51 have told nobody. If she has been writing to yon,"—Mrs. Oxenham, gentle woman that die was, flared up at the thought—" all I can

gay is that I am shockingly deceived in hen? :•

- "Sbenever wrote to me in her 1ife. But,tfaafs ndther htre nor there. The fact remains thatshe was in this houaetwo days ago, did is out of it

now. 1 What Lave you done with her?" - ;

| There was an irritating abruptness in biB time and .manner, and his

sister threw ap her head with a haughty gesture.

i "IF Ib she a child, that anybody should do anything with her? She

i has some relations living in the town, and has gone to stay with them."

| "When did she go f

" Oh, my dear Tony, yon ate too absurd 1 And I don't choose to be catechised in this fashion. Hiss Liddon is nothing to you." I " That's ail yon know about it When did site go, Mary ?'

He looked hard at her, and she at him, and she held her breath for a moment, trying to grasp the situation.

" She went this morning."

" And knew that I was coming to-night?"

" How can I tell? I did not think it necessary to talk about it to her."

" You mean you kept it from her? And that yon contrived that she shonld go to her relations—having pat me off to give you time to do it-so aa to have her out of my way. I know abont those relations. They have snubbed and spurned her, in her struggles, like the cads they are, and she

can't endure them."

| " They hare been exceedingly attentive to her, Mid had asked her to visit

them a dozen times. They proposed to-day themselves."

" I have it from her sister. And also that she was expecting to stay on here. It was in a letter, dated two days ago. I read it. Mary, it eeeems to me that yon have behaved abominably. You simply tamed her out"

" Tony, I will not allow you to talk to me like that. And just let me ask von one question -.—Supposing I did, what in the world can it matter to

your

" Well, I came up on purpose to Bee her, that's alL"

" Oh ! Yon are very complimentary to us. Bnt you don't mean that, of course. Fob / A man in your position can't possibly have any concern witha girl in her*;afc leaafc,yoo have lib "business to hire any."

" That's worthy of-Maude, Polly. In fact, the very words she said tome

yesterday."

" Maude? What does she know about it? Tony, jott are talking riddles, I can't understand yon in the least." :

"Oh, Mande,knows. So does my father. But he doesn't say those :ns(dting thing*. . He says I have made a wise choice—as 1 know I have—

j and bas given ns his consent and blessing in advance. Do you under

I stand now?"

I She understood, and was momentarily stunned. Not Lady Louisa, after

^ . Ms little no-account tea^room girl! It was a heavy shock. She ^ j • to a chair, flung herself hack to it, and ejaculated, "WeUt" dr0- Jithft long breath, " AM Ae never gave me the least hint of it all tijia time'"

MLelf-to the best of my knowledge."

-i.. «r/\n Iiuva not ftnnken va

ghe didn't very well, Beetog toat she hasn't the faintest idea of such

r i

ge poured out some whisky, ami began to survey the dishes on the table.

tthing you have not spoken yet!"

"la©

J l eoing to speak, as Boon as I can find her. And you are not going

„t me though yon may think you are." to prevent m .

uhtalrv Mill llMflll t/1 B1

. vorv angry, and consequently cilm.

H®Tvhere'8 Harry?" he inquired. "I ordered the

'Where's narry t - • new buggy yesterday. I

to tell him about it. Harry, where are you?"

Urn-came in, Bheepish, but blustering, and was delighted to go into the

ouestion without delay. They sat down to supper, and the men

btii&y " . . flimriffYinnf. fbd yyi<sq1 Tbnn HIV j

^ b08iness matters throughout the meal. Then Mr. Oxenham faint

1 " a smoke.

thank you," Baid Anthony. "I'm off to bed. Same room, dear." She followed him into the hall. "Aren't you going to say /^?niiht to me, Tony : .

to kissedhercoldly toSflenbe, V : ....

«I did not know," She whiSpOrA. " Jtia so suddCn-sounexpected. Wc ... talk it over to-morrow, Tony. ; ' ;

"There's nothing to talk over," saldhe.. And he marched off..

w Oxenham went to bed and cried., 'Then she thdught deeply for a ^fime. Then she woke, he* totobkni" qp'totalk.to him. . .

"Wall." 8he Baid,"it toigilthave he^n worsei Some men, gentiemen i {he highest class, marry barqiajds and actresses—the vulgarest creatures. And Jenny iso't vulgar. HoWeVer !QttoRitabie ,Bhe inlay, be'to other .ways, personally sbelS-W lady; ThA's one comfort. And-hrid it's very noble of him, don't you think?" _

She got up early in the morning, and wrote to Jenny.

"Dear Child,—My brother came last night, and was in a great way to find yon gone. ABk your aant to begood enough to spare yon again to us, for I want you to help me to entertain him. We are talking of a picnic to the rang€3) and could not manage that without yon. I am sending Dickson with the buggy. Come back with him, and your aunt can have you later.— your affectionate friend, '' Mary Oxenham."

This note was delivered at the bonk at breakfast time, with the message tint the man was waiting lor an answer. Jenny took it to her room, read it and penned the following reply with a violently shaking hand :—

"Dear Mrs. Oxenham,—Thank you very much for your kindness in wishing me to return to yon, bnt I think I ought not to prolong my holiday further, now that I am quite strong again. I am sure they most be badly wanting me at home, and T have decided to go back to-morrow, with some friends of my aunt's who happen to be going down. I could not leave her to-day, as I have bnt just come, and the time is so short I am very sorry you should have had the titrable of sending the buggy for nothing. Please accept my grateful ihanks for all yottr kindness, which I shall never forget, and believe me,—Yours sincerely, " Jenny Liddon."

Anthony aHVandooyamba was restless and surly. Mary had always been bis ally in everything, and these devoted ones ore the people we have no compunction about punishing severely when they do happen inadvertently to offend us. He would not forgive her for sending Jenny away.

"Canyon lend me a horse, Harry V was the first thing he B&idon coming dorm to breakfast—before he had even noticed the children, whom he had not seen for so long.

" A doaen, my dear, fellow, if yon want jhem," said Harry. "Thankyon. I only".want one."

Mary leaned over j^p'tAle and whispered to him, " Wait a little, She is coming back to-day * "

" Have yon sent for her f he asked, lifting his eyebrows. She nodded. . ? . .

He shook his head. ? " She .will know what she was turned out for, and she won't come back," '

"She will—she will," said Mary, who devoutly hoped it. "Wait till Dickson returns, at any rate."

Dickson had a wife and family to the township, and when he fonnd that he bad not to drive the young lady to Wandooyamba, he concluded that he need not hurry home,,but might take biB ease to bis own house, as be was accustomed to do-on the.day of rest; bo he pocketed Jenny's letter nntil the evening. When he then.delivered it—at past six o'clock—he was very much surprised and offended at being taken to task for presuming to exercise his own judgment in the matter. He little knew what the consequences bad been to Mr. Churchill's temper end his mistress's peace of mind. Tony was a handful that day, and stoqerely did Mary regret having tried to play Pro vidence to him. ... .. ; -

She went to church with her family—to her own tittle bush church which her own money maintained; the parson, ritual, and general affairs of which were wholly under her direction—hoping to find the lovers together on her re'um. In the afternoon they all walked for miles on the track of the ex pected buggy, and walked back again, casting wistful looks behind them. Then Dickson came leisnrely ambling home—they saw him from the verandah, sitting in solitary state—and Jenny's letter was delivered and the suspense ended

Mary tore it open, read it with distress, almost with tears, and handed it to her brother. He perused it with a grim smile, put it into his pocket, »nd ordered a horse to be saddled immediately.

What, st this hour f she cried. .. - — -

" I have wasted too many," he answered, stiffly. . MGjkfd-iiii;ht Yon seed not expect me bac)& agato." / ...?