|Newspaper Title||The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946)|
|Trove Title||The Charm That Works|
. That night the Rogereojvs went to oburchin a bodjOas.usna}, for they *w* a churchy family. Jtr&Rbgereoa wasthat powferln fljfe congregation *hicli only a self-asserting, middle-aged, highly -respectable" female effno "^noed religious views cari be, andfidly recognised her responsibilities as «*; kuew that she wasexpected to set an example, and believed that the
rat out of mar if she did not keep s con*
biew that site mn Rested to set an example, ana neuieveu. uu» ,
if ahedid iwt ke^jftcon*
d sT Ahoe nnddementine were both in the choir, and par Mr RaLln n8a^^e *° °fttn evening, when anthems were performed,
taaif 18011 H>undjthe .plate aid Ranted the money in the vestry—
function and fuiictiotuuy °f them all. When the early tea
v&stKP°8e<ii0f,.an^ the table prepared for the substantial sapper which leading <jonc'u<i'n8 ceremony of the day, whereat the minister and several lirnnWi meD®hersasaigted, the family pat on their best bonnets,and
j05n , ^r hatH» and went forth to their devotions, leaving a godless
cigM and * aow,i 40 keeP t^wwd over the bank's
v «»«kf nsvss s* Vl^w* www «• — ,
7«re in their absence. .
teavmg also Jenny-not with the young bank clerk, who was invisible, "tttoti a sola in the hot drawing-room upstairs, complaining of a headache, J»ich she had legitimately oome by through exciting her UWe J°al
Oxenham's letter and the perplexing questions that it raised, ihey ^ owed her to go to church, that she might heat the anthem and see how
they did things, but her intense oravingtobe alone to think gave her ^«th to resist their importunities. She was provided with Drummoud s
<"rength to ®W«vwiwe
. "^^ iniportunities. She was provided with Drummoua s Just as the «»? a and left in peace.
* Churchill W<M 8i'en0e^ hy the striking- of the town clock, f^'Vftlise hft tUa —e- P^pipa'. hotel ,- and he quickly unpacked the •"taself ivjy, w;. oahii saddle, washed and brushed, and fortified 601 time to thl'v • bisfcuit, in lien of his lost dinner, which he had
her solo iJiv now* And at about the moment when Clementine • i ^®"ri Would i ^them, h$ gang the bell at the bank door. Somebody, : ^ of hij, wB,iT.u,x>n ti^o premises, and he was prepared to explain the
*»4 hfls at find reluctant, but, on
W man, ana did what in
* - *vn» u«jfi gtic in the hall,
^ thegreatman, ana aiu ....
a' ^k tin «!? Jwmyhsird the ting, mid the little stir in the hall, I Cwohim w«ii^u i.®he waa absorbed in wonderingwby Mrs.
hheni. ,TL t^cow hw at Mr. Churchiirs head to-day, after taking
^hlll, Bn^et?urea to wahowt her from him yesterday; and why Mr.
pwted to hp engaged to Ladyhouisa, shouldbe in "a great
taken «« » *• ^ not ftt Wandooyftmba the girl of "whomhe had interview^ whl|e they were both in town and he was at liberty, to thrown « rJa!any Wie. She was lying all. along on a sofa, with her tains
"-J* her WndB under her head. Her little figure was clad in a weathnr Wiw.fti'<?'Ullie insisted on by Mrs. Oxenham in this midsummer
.. ' e hght from the window beside her touched her cheBtnut hair „ ^ure 8 to and her bright eyes, that were fixed in deep abstraction
succeededbette ^ P°8C^ *obkher prettiest, she could not have
thnuff^^t8^ ?ame W eta'r8l and she did not stir, for she had no thp A ^ ur^ r8, Not until it slackened and paused at the open door of j;j J^wuigroom, threatening an intrusion upon her precious hour of peace, urn sue turnher head apprehensively. When slie saw who it was that stood
"n'u u i8 ^ !ier' 8he bonnded to her feet as if she had been shot. «'xr • 8"e breathed almost inaudibly.
Miss Liddon—I am so glad to find you at home."
mv.KowaS-a8 80ber,t8 one could desire that a gentleman should be, but
y it was whisky on an empty stomach which made him bold at a
«,?Yn^8t-men a!e bab-e be daunted; for, seeing her Btanding
f8' r?D\ In^' cower'ng, but visibly glowing from head to foot, he made tli "v. 'tben and there would he settle the great .question between
em. No, not there. As lie took his resolution, he remembered how short e evening service is, though it may not Beem so to the persons takingpart in it, and-how horrible fit would be to be disturbed in the middle of his proposal by the Rogersons and the parson; nnd half-a-do^en gossips of the .ownship coming in. f So fie. said. to . Jenny, holding Her hand Very firmly,"
" 8 r!" wou®dn ' pome. to Wgndooyamba I have been obliged to come to you. I haveaomethihg of great impiortapoe tosay to ypfi; and'I want tokinow if yon wiUcme out foraiittiewidkpn the hills with ihe ? It is'hot ven>
hot now.* - * • ' ' • "
Jenny's colour deepened, and her tremblings increased. She withdrew her hand. "There is no one here,"she Baid.
But there will be soon. And I have a great deal .to. toll you—I want..to be free to talk. Come out'for a walk. Your aunt Won't object when she knows it is I who am with you. Go and put your hat on-^-quick."
She hesitated b till. "It is not—not anything the matter? Not anybody ill? Nothing wrong at home f
ho, no! Make haste and get ready, or they will be back before we can
She ran off to her room, and there stood still for a minute, clenching her hands and drawing long breaths that shook her little frame. Thorighfa raced too fast to be followed, bnt if she could not think she could feel. If she could not understand him she was sure she could trust him; his sister's endorsement of his proceedings was a guarantee of that She put on her hat, snatched up a pair of gloves, and returned to him speechless.
" You don't want gloves," he said, and took them from her, and laid them on a table on the landing. They went downstairs, and the young clerk let
them out of the iron-lined door.
" You can tell Mrs.-Bogerson that I will bring Miss Liddon home safely,'• said Anthony, with the air of a lawful guardian. It was nearly eight o'clock, and daylight was fading fast. He had an idea that there woald be a moon, which woald make a walk on the hills deiicioas, forgetting that the moon was not dne for another hour arid a half. Jenny had no ideas upon the subject; she left it all to him
Immediately behind the township the rocky ranges began to rise, and to break like waves into little valleys and gorges that were as lonely as a desert island, thoagh so near the haunts of men. He knew all their ins and outs, and in his own mind had marked ihe group of boulders where he and Jenny would sit while he asked her to many him. He had found it years before, when out on a picnic; it had wattle-feathered rock on three aides of it, and in front the ground fell 'into a. ravine that opened the whole wayto the Bunset Two quiet streets, a lane, and a rather weary mountain path led to this airy Bolitnde, and one could reach it with steady walking in a little over half-an-hour. One might have thought it would certainly be occupied or invaded on a Sunday night, with so many wanderers abroad, but as a fact the townspeople cared-nothing forthe beautiful scenery at their doors, and did not go into the ranges from year's end to year's'end. Anthony knew that, and chanced finding his eyrie untenanted.
Through the streets, where 'Arry and 'Arriet were strolling on the foot paths and flirting over their garden gates, he led his spell-bound companion] chatting commonplaces by the way.
" You know that I have been absent from town?" he said. She replied that she had not known it till the other day.
" Yes, for several weeks. And I had no idea you were here all this time. Of course I got no letters at sea."
" The sea must have been delicious in the hot weather," remarked Jenny, thinking of her sufferings during" the Cap season in the stifling air of Little Collins-street.
" No, it wasn't. At least, I did notenjoy it I dare say the sea was right enough ; I might have enjoyed it in other company."
" But I thought your company—Mrs. Oxenham told me "
" What did Mrs. Oxenham tell yon ?" Bnt he divined what it was. " That there was a lady on board whom I was specially interested in ?"
" She thought you were engaged to her."
" Oh, did she ? People have no business to think about those matters, they ought to know, before they talk. That lady was just about the lost woman in the world to suit me.. And they bored me to death—the whole lot of them."
Jenny's heart leaped in her breaBt, but still she did not dare to ask her Belf what his words and his visit portended. They had begun to climb the mountain pathway, a devious and stony track through wattle bushes and gum saplings, and it had grown almart too dark to see his face. , " Have we not gone far enough ?" she asked him, pausing.
'' It is the .scrub that shuts the light out," he said, quickly. " And there will be a moon directly. Just a tittle farther, and we shall get the breeze frbm the top. Does it tire yon ? Let,me help you np ? "
He offiered his arm, but 6lie declined it She was not tired, but nervous about being but bo late and so far from home.
" Not with me," he said; "and added, "There's nothing clandestine about It. Mrs. Rogenon knows—at any rate, she will when I take yon home— tod sodoes Mary."
"Does Mrs. Oxenham know that I am walking here with you V she was impelled to inquire, breathlessly.
" Most certainly she does."
Jenny climbed on blindly, with her head spinning r und. Presently they reached the top, and the cool air blew in their faces. The town, the inhabited world, was behind them, cut off by a granite wall and the obliteration of the track in the gloom of night; in front the ravine stretched away to the pale saffron of the west, and, looking in that direction it did not
seem that day was over yet.
"Now ImuBt find you a place to sit and rest yonrself, said Anthony. " Take my hand over these tough stones."
Her hand shook, and bo did his; his voice had begun to sound a little breathless, like hers. His exultation was mounting to his head; and something' like terror was making her heart shake. "Ought I to have allowed him? Ought I to have done it?" she was asking herself. But it was too late for such questions now, and all doubts were settled within
the next five minutes.
" Here " he said. " This is the place. A flat stone to sit on, and the sloping rock to lean against. Generally the rocks slope the wrong way, but this slants back at the right angle exactly. . Sit down here; you must be tired after that climb.' I will fan yon with a wattle branch." He began to break off bougliB, while she sat down, because her knees trembled so that it was difficult to stand. "Isn't this a charming view? At sunset it is maznifioent, when the tops of the ranges turn pink and then indigo, like velvet. Can you hear the triokle of the creek down there? It seems miles below us, in that depth of shadow,-doesn't it And thai humming sonnd-r listen! It is ft waterfall. What is toe noise like? Oh, I know-iilre.ft railway toeSn intoe dlsi^oe; - And toe w|nd in toe gum lwyeftMSMiHtym Tat your eyes and imagine that js the seat Do you remember tort night on the St Hilda pier, when yon were so frightened? Yon are not afraid of me n°He flunghlmself pntyeground besidehpr,
Yes, Im," \ ' ' 1 ^
the town. "And I tbme, ^
be out here at this hour.' Yon should hOtbayfe bteugli i treating me like-dike a lady,'.' she bhret ou^, hift tonji
distreias which rernindedhimthi^he
his intentions. - • . . . „ . _
He sprang upright in an instant, and caught her arm, and, o s
knew it, had both ins arms aronnd hen 1 7 ^
" Don't you understand V he e*clataed,:toa,4^ w^:: ;* thought y<m did—I thought Sarah would have told you. * 'And mycommgin bus y
my dragging you up here, to get youto myseU—and Mary a letter—o , niy poor little woman, yim'didn't think I was nuddngji^ttosement of «, 4tta you? That's not treatingme like agentleman, Jenny^ ; *-•-* ' ,
" But you can't-—" • • ; ;a j.'fe1 ^
" I can—I do. I want you to marry me, Jenny, there it is; and you can t misunderstand now. And, what*s more, all my familyknow it, too, and my father says lie's glad, and told pie to tell you that he says so. s And Maty is awfully sorry that she sentyoqaway yesterday. And you—you won t-say 'No?' It may be cheek andT'impudence to mentionit, but 1 veseen_itin your dear little eyes a score of times." 'V - a . ;
" Oh, what have you seen ?" she asked, gasping, laughing, crying, thrdlipg,
all dazed and overwhelmed in this seaofjoy. ' . . .. ...i
" This," he answered, stoopihg his head ahd pntting a harid linjtor her chin. " Take off your hat, Jenny,'so that l ean kiSs ybn cd^drtably." . 4
The transcendent minutes passed, and presently, found them stftm? under their sloping rock, talking with some meiaiue-of Baa^ aiid Doth heads were uncovered^ and,- ^ Anthony^bad
not required.' The saffron sky bad hardly a vestige of -^ere out overhead, the gorge at" their feet, might have, bieen^the yail^y pf death itj self, so impenetrably deep at^d dark it looked, withth£ steep, black hills heaving out of it. Through the delicate^ air came a faint chime from fat away behind them, the ciock at the post-office striking nine. „ ;
'"Ought we not to go?" whispered Jenny. •
" Ho, darling. We couldn't go, if we tried. On the other side it would be too dark to see a step; we should only , lose ourselves. We must wait
for the moon."
"It won't be long, will it?" -
"About half an hour. Aren't you content to sit here with me? We shall be home before eleven."
She was quite content Her head was not high enough to reach his shoulder—it rested on his breast; lie tucked away his beard that it might not tickle her face. His own face he laid on her brown hair, or stroked that hair with a big, soft hand. His arm supported her little frame ; it was so little and so light that he was afraid to ling it much, for fear he
should crush it. ? •
" What a ridiculous mite it is!" he murmured. " If you are tired, Jenny, I can carry you home quite easily."
She said she was not tired,
" But you have been tired, my poor little girl 1 When I think of what you liave been doing, all this hot 6uinmer, while I have been loafing around and amusing myself ! However, that won't happen agan."
" And yet you never came to the tea-room, to see how I was getting on— not for such a long, long time!"
" And don't you know why that was? Hairy found me going, and scolded me for it, because she said it was compromising you. It was for fear that I might do that—that only—that I kept away. Whereby, yon see, I have always treated yon like a lady—from the very beginning. Oh, Jenny, that was an unkind thing to say!"
" But how was I to kho'w ? and yon were so far above me-r—" , .He put his hand over her mouth. j -
' "But'still 1 do think," Bhe proceeded, when .the impediment was, removed, " I do think it was cheek and impudence , to make so sore. It's like a Sultan and bis slave—like Ah&suerus said Esther. And I never did run after you—youknowl never, never did!"
' "Her voice was smotKered in his "moustache. "Poior Titde mite ! < No more, it did ! .It was. the very pink and pattern of all that was proper. Aqd yet I knew it—I knew it, Jenny, just as certainly as if you bad said, ' I love you' in so many words."
" You had no business to know it—and you couldn't
" I could and did. You. shouldn't. have eyes so clear that one can see. your heart through them." He kissed Ihe lids down over them, andfie d them shut for a space. "And-you are not ashamed of it, are you?"
"I should have been' ashamed if I had known it before, but I'm not now."- She stole an arm round his'bent neck. "But you won't hold me cheap by-and-by, because I gave myself away so easily, and . was so far be " ' " i
Again, he laid his hand over her mouth. " I can't very well.do it now," he said~gravely,' "but when I am your husband, and you say things - like
that to me, I shall simply smack you, Jenny."
She nttered a happy but hysterical laugh, and he lifted her up to bring.her closer to him. " Oh, my little woman 1" he cried, with a sudden uprosh of passion, "it was the making of me when I thought of you for my wife. Good, true, brave little heart! You will bring me greater riches than all the gold in the world could buy when you give me that."
"I have given it," she whispered.
• " And your hands—those busy, capable little hands! They are not mine yet" He took up one, and laid a kiss in the small palm. " But they will
" And they will work for you always—always." „ %?
. "They will not They will rest and wear diamond rings. Oh, by the
way—where the deuce " ;
He lifted her into a sitting posture, and fumbled in all his pockets. '
" Oh, hare it is," drawing forth the ring he had purchased in Melbourne; " You can't see it by this.Iight, but it's the very nicest I ooUtd' hnd. Neat, but not gaudy, you know. It has a pearl in.it, threaded pn a ,gold wire because it's so big, as white and pure gsyoUr owndear littlesouL. Yes,' I got it on puipose—so you see how sure I waaof;getting yon. Don't let iter poor little pride be hurt You couldn't'have helped it, you know, any how ; because, if you hadn't given yonrself, I. should have you as a natter <^ . ooui9e, as the giant, took Tom Thnnrb." : : t : , , ; -....
" I don't think you would," said Jenny. ?*. -j .wowf.1 d "You dqu't? Well, perhaps'not' I believe, you are a for any giant, you little epitome of pluck! By-and-by .we'll see..- In the let me put this on your finger, and tell me if it's the right fit" >
He put it on, and it was exactly the right fit
" There. By whatever means I have got you, you are mine from **»'? moment—signed, sealed," and delivered." He lifted the little fwd kissed the ring reverently. " Till death ns do part"
She kissed it after hint, andthen finng henelf on his breast, where be held her, closely and in silence; until the moon rose and gave jjght enough to find tlieir way home. , '