Chapter 138658747

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Chapter NumberVII
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article138658747
Full Date1893-08-19
Page Number35
Corrections0
Word Count2840
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946)
Trove TitleOne Christmas
article text

the storyteli.es.

ONE CHRISTMAS/

Bt Hss, Herbert

Chapter VII.

And I think X mn&t have been in a dream pretty ne&rlyall breakfast time, too,,for"l: remember I was' continually .mllied on my. forcetfulnesa, and laughed at for numerbns

little blunders.

,j' Maybe you're scarce awake yet, Angus," aaMMissRogerson j.VJt W£stoemarm*h)4e I askra ye, ibr.nnd i^.0 another plate of por

ridge, One helps enough of ,4$^ generally; SpeakiiiY' I begged iter "pardon, and k

solyed to. pull myself together ;phfc all-the' lime l'was thinking of my midnight visitor, add wondering how. Qie poor inoteer would

meet her erripg son—whether she would be able to secure the father's forgiveuesa, and if, for the short time of life .that remained to him. he would he received into the family. ,

" I say, Malcolm," said Rogerson, whom I had notaeen that morning as early as usual,

" what was the matter with yon lust night fj You made an awful noise—coughing and wheeling as if yon were in a galloping con sumption.''

' I'm all eight, thanks—never bettor in my

life."

" Well, I suppose I must have dreamt It;' but I am sure 1 was neatly xetting up once

matter. Certainly

to see what Was the .'matter. Certainly this

morning there does nut seem much con- j sumption about you—at least of one kind"—; with a laugh. 11 Pass on the rolls and \ scones like a good fellow, when you've Quite dope with them."

. *' Andfll trouble ye for .the ' baps,* please Angn^" Baid Miss Rageraoii.jn such a severe voice that I'm afxsicl it, could not. have been the first tim? of, asking.''

. As soon a£ breakfast was oyer . I hovered about, waiting for an opportunity of com' muuioating with Miss M'Farlape. This in a house iull of young people was not "difficult to accomplish, so while the plans for the day were^ being eagerly discussed .roupd the glowing fire in the hall, I found: myself be side hex, end, under oover of the peals of laughter that rewarded one of Archie's ri diculpns. jokea,I said to her. in ,a low voice— " Wfil^nu. come, into tbfc schoolroom for a

fewiuamenta—I muet speek to^you.^ 1 have :^g^st!5teSlf ^gt^j^and I ,/uppose she

Qumght kfcere Was, something mtofrstrnnge

m^my for. with a iitde nervous

tftrou.toll.me tijim^ woh^rfuliflecret

__, _ Ik -U w sndt-J j butit m)l all oonmrigbt,

istplt

ynu .|hink. ifr. Matoolm," she

.ttaftnttdor ynu think the idjSngtj. ....

--jam

i someone else,, top.' . "

dkgrapMik^tb«*hi? fB53B«8Fh*i? tW(

r " Certainlr not when tbedisewwe i« W«H

known to the person who desires above everything to marry into that family," I answered. "Forgive me, Miss M'Farlane; but don't spoil your life, and poor old Niel's, too, for an overstrained? sense of honour. Ask yonr mother, and X am ante she will tell yon tire same thing."

She was blushing like a sweet wild rose, and the tears were shining in her eyes as she turned to me. "Ah! that's jrat what Niel' says ( Sot yon know that it was he that poor Robert "

" Fes, I know. All the more reason that Robert's jsisteraboald make ,up( for it._ And now, if yon will wait here, 1 will send Mel to yon, and yon can consult with him when to tell yottr mother."

I found that yonng man looking very dis consolately out of the window, watching the snow that was still falling.

"I say, Angus," he began, "it's all very well, you know, but don't you think it's abont timewe thought of moving? We can't fine here exactly."

"We'll talk 6f tliat by-aiid-hy, old man ! I've just been in Urn schoolroom with Miss

M'Farlane—"

" That's last it! No one can get in a word edgeways with her nowadays. Look here now, Mataohxn I . saw you twp goipg off 'together, that's just twenty-two minutes ago, and I—well, girls are rum creatures, you know! And she's—she's never looked upon pan as a brother!"

. "My dear old fellow, are you: suffering itom thf green-eyed one? Crush kim, oncp and for all.. Miss M'Farlane. wants to see you hi the^BCboolropm. Go—and don't be an aee/" •/•*'*

So he werit, and about half an hour after .wards Xfollowed him. Having /tapped loudly at the door, 1 was bidden, after a short pause, to enter. Oiie glance told me that not only hod Jessie told him of the wanderer's return/but that Rogerson bad 'heard something else that pleased him vastly. His face was literally beaming.

"Sit down, man," he aaidt pushing roe into a chair. '' I can't believe it yet; I never was so astonished in my life—or so happy, either. And just to think of that poor beggar

hiding here all.ihiB time—cold and hungry— , while we were making merry in his father's hoqse ! Reminds one ot the prodigal, doesn't it? Cheer up, Jessie, no tears! It will all cotne right-^won't it, Malcolm ?"

- " Of course it win."

" And would you believe now, here's this little woman wonld -not have anything to say to me, because she thought it was not right, and that that pobrold Bob, upstairs, would bring disgrftfce on ftie house of Rogerson !"

" I'm not sure yet, Niel!"

" Thinking ot poor old Aunt Janet and Mr. ] MTntyre, I Pappose. Funny thing! His; brother was a sconn—made a little mistake,: too. But we're all liable to mistakes. Bless ? yon, it's a sort of thing that might happen toj anyone!"

" Not quite," said Jessie, with a sad little I smite./'But.you know, Mr. .Malcolm, he j was «p very youog .when be did that.

He was quisled away, too, by a bad friend |

IWI

dt his, and ndw he is so penitent; he says

he ne^canjotgive himBelf, though "

think of that, Jessie dear," said j Rogerson.. " jFemnstaU forgive him double to make upfor it"

/She sgiired at me through her tears. Her wweerTacA was like an April day, " And do you really think 1 have done right about— Niel?? she asked.

. " Yon kare done quite right. I am sure of it, and L wish you both all the happiness you cim possiblj have," I said, heartily.

? "That's All right'; and do you "know/ Jessie, the Soke Was that Tor quite twenty two mimrtps J was:fancying all sorts of things about that-old fellow!" with a playful Jittle lunge at me. ''Good, wasn't it?

"TYbat about going back to Dunard now V

I raked him.

• "Well, yon see," he answered, gravely, "I don't quite know whether that can be managed to-day."

"I will go and find mother now," said Jessie, rising, and moving towards the door. "Poor, poor Bob! We should not have been so happy to-day 1" with an adorable little look at that lucky Rogerson. -

" What do you think about it all f I asked him, as she left the room. " Will Sir John let him stay?"

"Well, I don't know, but he can scarcely turn him out if he is as bad as you say, poor beggar! it was an awful shock to them all at the time. 1 thought poor Lady M'Farlane would never get over it You don't know how merry and light-hearted she used to be. But he wra always a troublesome sort of fellow, arid they never could manage him at home. He's not a bit like any of the others."

Of course I cannot say how Lady M'Farlane met her poor prodigal, or with what bitter tears die washed his wickedness away, iratsome hours afterwards Jessie told me that her fathter had consented to let him remain, that he had seen him and been with him for some time, but that until all the visitors had departed he would, at his own request, stay in the attics, which had now been made warm and comfortable for him, and that old M'Greggor was to wait upon him. *' Andoh. l am so glad," shesaid. "I feel so happy, for father says he will forgive himnow. He is sure he is truely penitent and ashamed."

• That nijtht when Rogerson and I smoked our pipes/inBtead of coming to my room, we proposed that we khonld go up stairs to the attics, Where we found the eldest son of the hot8e*trhtfij>iri£ steadily up and down the room; His faoe brightened considerably at seeing US. Of obtuse, it was not his first meeting with Niel—<hat was in private, and! chhonlygqrasWhgttQibkplaceatit; but if ever h'teHo#tried foptt^notherfellow-*nd that A-fdHtF^dhl^t.lilljefiBe, and to show him

fittle^ndness'jm his power, thatfellow

waBthe one on which the raeoWHns to take their leave,

lifted," there was r to" arrangements. So. somSPhd'sbaklnK hands with all, and arm laughing tterrily, but with many that the Ohristipas visit had oome to thay^eand3dl"depnrt^d. " And to

Malcolm," said Miss bar harrihge window, you and levwhltd jxjuf tevenge at battledore.

rtetonbtvHiiJ £11 »ext Christmas.

v '? 1 f , -V"

stuns night Rogerson. Niel, and

led to Bun bid .where? had made up my

would tortgitoy for a tew days longer. ^ Ni«l wouMplways be with Jessie si thef would not either of them

MBes- Stogersoh was told of theen

li tShe apaJ "Fro Just real glad to

Nisi.! Shfe'ilbe* bonme bnde and *

UO« Wto'iv - :

a long way better, ear. lt 'brtngS me back to the days

«t hoots ht'What a Billy old woman I

'rv uyvwi^'qv|iiiv w

» just hbverinV' .

WaSA teat in her eye, bother old ^"^ikledWith smiles.

'ildreifittSiig the house to yonr

mdie7SlreS^d.after a pause; "so] fhMtha,tm d I must be prepared fog

a move. When do you go to church with her

"0I»! no, Aunt Janet, I am sure Jessie would not wish that "

" Ilut/ would, my dear. Young folks are l<est by their lane, believe me, and we can have that 6mall house of yours this side

the village. It will do fine. So say no more,'

I've seen it for many a day."

When old Mrs. Rogereon was told the news, we might just as well have kept it to ourselves, and far better as far as 1 was con cerned, for she would have it that I was the happy man, and as she still mixed me up with my father, it was rather trying.

" No, no ! mother," screamed Miss Roger

son for the twentieth time, " Angus Malcolm i has nothing to do with it. He's not going to be married to Jessie, you know."

" And ye tell me that yon young man ye sail Angus Malcolm is going to wed Jessie M'Farlane—weel, weel, weel, now; and what will Kiel say to it all ? Ye should take Shame to yourself young man, and ye a freend of Kiel's."

" And so he is, mother—a great friend of Kiel's—Ac's not going to be "

"Eh, Janet! ye think I can't see what's going on ? But I tell ye that Kiel will be tit to break his heart when you young man marries Jessie." Then, in a wavering voice, " who is yon, Janet?"

" That's AnguR, mother—Angus Malcolm, you know-—. His father

Hoots toots, Jauet! ye're doighted. Yon's no Angus. He's deid, I'm tellin' ye."

"Oh, give it up, Aunt Janet," said Roger

sou.

I think I must," with a little sigh. "-I wonder now if you would mind very- much if I were to call you Mr. M'Duff or Mr. M'Donald while you are here. She seems to take, on so over your right name."

"Call me anything you like; let it be M'Duff or M'Donald, by all means," I agreed.

Perhaps-it would be best. Just when she is by, you know, though I don't, believe in calling folks out of their names," she re plied, shaking her head doubtfully.

Sir John and Lady M'Farlane were much pleased with the engagement, which of course they had seen and approved of long ago. Kiel, they were sure, was just everything he ought to be. 1 had no idea how good he had been in that time of trouble, and then Jessie would not be lost to them when she became mistress of Dunard.

" Well, if you ask me, I always knew how it would end," said Archie; "and if Jessie has got to marry some one 1 would rather it was old Niel than anyone else. Better than it she had married j/ou, for instance, Mr. Malcolm, and gone out to Australia."

. There was no reason for a long engage ment, so the wedding was to take place soon. I had promised to act as best man on the happy occaskta, but iu the meantime I de termined to take that little trip in foreign countries that I had dreamed of long agoj—

before Fortune came to me—when I was still a penniless young fellow—a "new chum"— camped perchance onder some friendly currajong, with my saddle for a pillow, and the. bum of myriads of mosquitoes for a lullaby.

It was a beautiful sunshiny morning when I said good-bye to all at "The Glen," and manyw^re the kind wishes thatatno very distant date I should spend another Christ mas in the old bouse.

"You wiH not think of strangers being in your old home any longer, I hope," said Lady M'Fariane, 'as she-gave my hand a-kindly

farewell pressure., • . -. | ? "Just look us up • whenpver you feel j inclined, Malcolpi,".said Sir John; "you ; will alwarS'fihda welcome.* . . j l. I could only thank them for all their kind-,] nees and say that, nothing, would njve me < greater-pjesBure. . -j

" Mind you do," said Archie. " I say, you j were a brick to leave me that stockwhip." ;

My farewell words were said to Jessie as ; we stood together tor a few moments in the ;

deep bow window, looking out on the snow- j clad earth to the hills beyond. I had taken , her little hand in mine and again wished her , a full measure of happiness in her future j

life. I

" Yes," she said, simply, " I am sure I j shall be very, very happy. And you ? You j must be happy too. You will be—won't > you f'

There was a little wistful tone in her voice that touched me. Did she guess my secret? I know not, but I answered as lightly as I could, " Don't you Iwther about me! I'm the happiest fellow alive! Good bye—you don't know what this Christmas has been to me." But here I was treading on dangerous ground, so I stopped short, and said again, " Well, good-liye, Miss M'Farlane; of course I'll be back in plenty of time for the fatal da}'."

I am not eoing to write down here what her last words to me were, but I know that they and her sweet face will live in my heart for always, and though I know that I have lost ber for ever, 1 still think it was better

to have loved her. As I shook hands with; pretty Mollie, she said seriously—" When I next you come back, Mr. Malcolm, we may have something more to tell you about the ghost. Perhaps we shall find out why he haa been haunting us, because, you know, that it really teas a ghost that I saw that night."

Then the poor prodigal, who now formed one of the family group, took my hand in his, and as he said good-bye, added in a low

xrmce!—— ....

"This is better than a shearer's life, isn't it? What & fool I've been! But I've got the desr mother now—and it was worth the risk."

, Then it was farewell to the nursery batch, BHMe littlegtqldeii-haired clietubs. who, frpm the eldest to the ynuhgest^-the toddler who couldouly lisp "dood-bye "edified up tbeir little rosy monfhs for me to kiss.

OWJ M'Greggor packed me into my coat, and whispered as he did so,-" Good-bye to ye, sir! And^Mr. Angus, dear, I wish ye could have come' hack to yer ain agen. "Not but what the Lairdis not a real gude master, only the mis fortune of it is, that he isna master in onny

itherhoose!" :

Rogerson and Jessie came down Hie steps to help .me into, the dog-cart, and to see tbat' 1 was well provided «rith warm rugs, books, fcc., for the lbfig mi!way journey before

"... .. ..

!-bye, old man," said Niel, shaking '' i hfe htarjty grasp, " 1 am okvfully , _re cff 'in such m hurry. Well, ...jftadltochdHoi*jolly Christmas !'Good l>ye, and don'tiwjet you -have- promised to - * - rimefor our .Wedding—we could

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