|Chapter Title||THE SCIENCE OF CHIROMANCY.|
|Newspaper Title||The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946)|
|Trove Title||Miles Dunlop's Mistake|
THE SCIENCE OF CHIROMANCY.
" Thou openeet the mysterious cute
Into the future's undiscovered land."—Lonofblmw.
Portsea, as everybody knows, is a very quiet, rustic-looking little place, given over during the greater part of the year to lime-burnera and fishermen.
It boaats no shops, and but two hotels. As there are no streets, it is difficult to aay of what the t ownship consists. Houses there are, of course, pretty rustic-looking cottages, built of the white limestone common &t( along the eastern coast of Port Phillip; but they are set each in their own grounds, at long distances apart—some down in the gullies, some high on the cliffs, overlooking the sea, but, all alike, half hidden among the close growing scrub. All Portsea, more or less, seems to consist of this heavy Bcrub—close, dark, and thick—it tills the sandy gullies, climbs to the top of the hills, and crowns the steep cliffs that line the coast almost down to the forts at Port Nepean. . '<*$.
About a quarter of an hour's walk from the LonsdaleHotel, perched on a cliff at the head of a little bay, quite hidden from the road by the scrub, which grew almost up to the very doors, was another of these limestone cottages—a long, low, rambling place, with a big verandah running all round, on which were lounges and easy chairs of every description. Sheltered as it was, too, from the wind and sun, it had the merit of being seldom either too hot or too cold, and even on this evening, with a chilly south wind blowing, Dr. O'Hea found his verandah a very comfortable place for bis after-dinner smoke. He was a tall, thin, lantern-jawed Irishman, with a shock of grey hair, and a piercing pair of blue eyes that apparently nothing could escape. He could be dignified enough when occasion offered, but, just at the present moment. Dr. O'Hea was thinking neither of dignity, nor place, nor of anything else save his own personal
comfort He was attired in the very oldest nnd raggedest of yachting uniforms, a red woollen Tarn O'Slianter was perched rakishly on one Bide of his head, and he himself was stretched comfortably in a most luxurious lounging chair, smoking the best of cigars, and lazily turning over the leaves of a French novel. Opposite him, seated in an easy chair, placidly knitting, was his wife, a quiet, gentle, old lady, who never had much to s«y for herself, whose only sorrow was that she had no children, and whose sole occnpation in life seemed to consist in knitting. There was another occupant of the verandah, too, a tall, fair young fellow, with blue eyes and close-cropped beard, who leaned agiinst one of the verandah posts, discontentedly puffing at a cigar, and, every now and then, made little excursions oat iuto the wilderness which, by oourtesy, was called a garden.
It soon grew too dark to read, and the doctor shut his book with a bang.
"Charlie, Charlie Dalrymple, my boy," he said, turning to his companion, " What a restless ghost ye are. Why can't ye sit still ?"
The other laughed a little constrainedly.
" Well," he said, " well, yon see, it's got too dark to read, and, besides, I thought I heard someone coming."
"Ob, did ye now?" said the doctor, winking to himself with keen enjoyment. It was too dark to take his wife into his confidence. "Did ye? Well, now, that's curious, for I asked the young Nairns up this evening, and I should tiiink they'd be here soon ; eh, missis?"
"And do you think they'll come?" asked Dalrymple, with ill-restrained
" Why, yes, of course, why shouldn't they come ? It was that young scamp, Tom, I saw. I told him I'd brought him a lishing-Iiue, so he's sure to turn up, if he cornea by himself."
The other man gave a discontented little sigh, as if the prospect of Tom's society, unaccompanied by any feminine aottening, did not afford him unmitigated pleaBure, and went for another little stroll down the garden.
If Tom Nairn only appeared on the scene, he thought, as he walked down the rongh pathway that wound through thick scrub high above bis head—if only Tom Nairn appeared on the scene, be slip away down to the hotel and call npon Hiss Popham that evening. It was stupid of him, he reflected, to have accepted the doctor's invitation. He would have been much freer if he had stopped at the hotel, besides beiug nnder the same roof as his lady-love. For this young gentleman frankly acknowledged to himself that he was in love with Dearlie Nairn, and had come down with the express intention of wooing and winning her, if he could. Somehow, he had not much fear as to the result There was no one else in hiB way, that he had of. Dearlie was pretty, it was true, sweetly pretty, lie thought, but Helen always put her in the shade, and few thought to look at the younger sister when the elder was by. Then, too, she was poor, very poor. Dr. Nairn, her father, was a man who had never made much of a mark in the world, one of those men who never would have done much, and now was handicapped by a large family of children. His half-sister, Hiss Popham, helped him occasionally, paid for Tom's schooling, and took the children to the seaside for a month in the summer; but it was a well-understood thing that Helen, her godchild, who had always lived with her, was to inherit ber fortune, and Dearlie, poor little Dearlie, would have nothing. But she was very loveable, ioveable and sweet enough to do without it, and, besides, he wonld have enough for both. ' He was jouior partner in a leading firm of merchants, a firm whose business was increasing every day. There was certainly no need for him to look for a fortune with bis wile, and Dearlie Nairn was ho sweet. lie wondered how it happened that he had known her for so many years, and yet only just discovered her charms; but then he bad been bo blindly in love with Helen. Yes, he did not mince matters to himself, this candid young man; he had adored Helen, he bad laid himself down at her feet, and she had trampled on him, cruelly, and without pity, and bo, naturally, he had turned to her sister. There would he no need to woo Dearlie in that abject fashion. She would be kind to him, and loving and gentle, and he would love her tenderly. He had not much doubt as to being accepted. Why shouldn't she have him? He was young, and good-looking, and well-to-do. He was not exactly conceited, but he had a very clear idea of his own value, and he did not fear refuaal. He only wanted to meet her again, put the question, and get the matter thprougbly settled. It they did
not come to-night —
As he turned a corner the wind brought to his ears a chorus from "Dorothy," and he quickened his pace and went forward to meet the approaching party. They stopped singing as he joined them, and Helen came to bis side and held out her baod graciously, far more graciously, be thought, half bitterly, than she had ever done when he had been her devoted slave. .
"Oh, I'm bo glad to see you, Charlie," she said, as he turned back with them. " This is quite au unexpected pleasure. When did you come
"By the Ozone, this afternoon," he answered somewhat briefly. "I'm stopping with Dr. O'Hea."
That ahould_be pleasant," she said; but be made no answer.
Dearlie had gone on in front, aide by eide with a broad-shouldered man in grey clothes. He could just see so much by the dim half light, and as he bad proposed to walk with her himself, be did not half like, the turn affairs had taken. He didn't want to talk tp Helen. Often enough, in days gone by, she had met his advances in Bilehce, and he treated her the same way now; but she, in a gracious and charming fashion totally at variance with her nsual mode, talked on, apparently oblivious of his bad temper. At last, as they neared they peared the house, curiosity got the better of temper, and he condescended to ask, " Who is that with Dearlie?"
"That? Oh, it's a Mr. Dnnlop. Surely you know him, he's been at father's house several times lately. He's an Englishman, a new chum ; he has not beet) out three months yet, and is going to join Grant, Allen, and Grant, I believe. He was very rich once, and spent his time travelling about the world, but be lost nearly all bis money last year, 1 don t know how exactly, and now has to Bettle down to hard work; at least, that a Dearlie's story. She told me. He's her friend; she met him last month at the Monlgomerys'. She stayed there, you know, for a week."
"Ob, a charming Englishman, of coarse," said Dalrymple, with a
" Well, no," said Helen, " I shouldn't call him charming j I think be s rather elow. He'e forty, at least, and then—well, one side of his face is very good-looking, while the other is—oh, it's awful, so dreadfully scarred it makes me feel sick to look at it. How Dearlie can talk to him I m ante I don't know."
" She seems happy enough," grumbled Dalrymple, discontentedly.
Miss Nairn laughed a little uneasily. * ,
"I dont eee she can well do anything elae," she said. "However, here we are at the doctor's, and you can cut bun out if yon want ta , .
She half hoped he would deny any such Intention on on his part, dui,to her disappointment, he did nothing of the kind.
The doctor received them with open arms.
ye have been doing." ,,
Helen Nairn looked scornfully down onherhoafc. Such conversation was not at all to her taste. But Dearlie smiled good-naturedly 9B v"0 doctor's vagaries, and took the seat pointed oat to hen
Mrs. O'Hea was still placidly knitting, listening contentedly to. MUs Puplmro's conversation, every now nn.d then venturing u gentle remark on her own account Dalrymple noticed that during his absence Bhe had had several Chinese lanterns lighted, so that the corner of the,verandah, where they were all congregated, made quite a little circle of glowing light in the surrounding gloom. He looked round for Dearlie's escort, and caught eight of him at lost, standing quietly behind her chair, just outside the light, and not joining in the conversation, which was light and trifling enough.
" Well, chnrming creature," said the little doctor, turning to De&rlie, "and what hearts have you been breaking Bince I saw you last?"
"I'm not in the habit of breaking hearts, Doctor," said Dearlie, laughing. "For one thing I don't get the chance, and for another 1 wouldn't if I could. It's not in my line."
" Well, charming creature," went on the doctor, thoughtfully, " I should just have thought it was. You've broken mine, I know, long ago."
"Oh," said Tom, who wob busy examining his new fishing-line, "I say, what a whack. You look pretty healthy, Doctor, for a heart-broken
" Ah," sighed the Doctor, pathetically, "you haven't noticed me pining, then, lately; hut I suffer, I suffer, and it's all the fault of these sweet creatures."
"Come, now," said Dearh", "I really didn't know it was asbAdasth&t. I feel for you ; I do, indeed. What c9n I do to comfort yon ? Would you like to tell my fortune ? " and she held out for his inspection a shapely little hand, albeit somewhat tanned by san and wind.
"Good Lord," said the Doctor, "she calls the abBtruse science of chiro mancy 'telling her fortune.' Well, sweet girl," he went on, "it's a perfect little hand, but I've told you all about it before."
"And ron didn't tell me much, you bad man. You said my life would be uneventful. You saw nothing in my band but peace and bappine<a"
" Well, well, well; and what more could you want. Blessed ib the woman who has no history. Only, the devil is in it, ynu never can telL"
"Weil, you know all about me at any rate," said Dearlie. "You know ]'in not a base deceiver ; hut I shoild like a little history, I must confess. But if yon won't tell my fortune, tell someone else's. Here's Mr. Dunlop. Come, Mr. Dunlop, lend us your hand; we won't hurt it; and the Doctor *il teach me to do it. Won't you. Doctor?"
Thus objured Dunlop leant over her chair and lield out his hand for them to examine, while the others, drawn by that irresistible influence which temute us all to pry into the unknown future, crowded round and listened eagerly. Palmistry was the Doctor's hobby. Once started on it it seemed likely to last him the whole evening. He examined Dunlop'B hand carefully, and holding it t'ghtly. in his own was soon launched lull sail on a dis sertation on heart lines and head lines, girdles of Venus, and mounts of
" Yes," said Dearlie, at last, " th&i's all very interesting, hut tell us some tiling about Mr. Dnniop that 'il be more interesting still."
" Well, I'd tell you. He's very sensitive and very diffi lent, and yet very, very warm-hearted, lie's that warm-hearted he beats the lot o' ye."
" Ye*," said Dearlie, "yes. Tell us some more," while Dunlop murmured something expressive of a dislike to being thus publicly analysed.
"Well," went on the Doctor, regariless of liis protests, "he's been in l-ive. That M interest you ladies. Oh, awfully in love."
"Come, I say," murmured Miles again, but the Doctor took no notice.
" He was disappointed," he went on, calmly; "disappointed, and— Yes, he got over it, though it did cost him somettiing, and he has had a bad uccident to the head."
" You have only to look in my face." said Dunlop. sadly, "to see that."
" Hold your tongue, eir," siid the Doctor, Bharply," "and don't interrupt I don't know anything about your face. You've been in the dark ever since y u've been here. 1 saw it in your hand. And there's another thing. You're in love at this present moment, very much in love."
"Crumbs!" cried Tom. "it's getting interesting," and "Oh, oh, oh, tell us who the lady is," in various key?, cried the rest of the audience, while the victim showed signs of restlessness, but the Doctor was as grave and solemn as if it were a matter of the deepest moment, and retused to release his subject until he had finished.
" You will soon be in great danger," he went on ; " very great danger, but you will piss through in safely and—and— Yes; look, little girl, at the line <>1 luck. You will attain your heart's desire."
MileB gave an unbelieving sigh as lie withdrew his hand, and Dearlie
"Oh, what a nice fortune—at least the iuBt part of it. "Why couldn't you give me one like that ? "
" I can only tell what the hand says," said the Doctor, severely ; "only what the hand says. Besides, 1 never told him he'd be happy. He never will, fte'il always be worrying over something."
" Well," said Dunlop, " that's a nice character to have. I think you ought to teli Miss Dearlie's fortune now for my benefit."
" I tell you I've told Iter's over and over again," said the Doctor, taking her hand in his and glancing once more into the sofr, pink palm. " III tell you one thing, though. Ttieie's a curious fitness—a sort of suitability—about hands. In yours and this little girl's here, for instance."
" Well, what do you see? "-asked Dunlop, curiously.
"if tins girl were in love with you," said the Doctor, emphatically, "if she were your wife, she would just worship the ground you walked on. There is iiutiiing she would not do for you."
Poor Dearlie looked hoi and uncomfortable, and drew away her hand, while Tom chuckled with laughter.
"Oh, crumbs," he said; "oh. crumbs, fancy Dearlie your wife, Mr. Dunlop; and fancy her worshipping the groand you walked on. Oh, 1 say, that is goo J. What do you think of that, Charlie?" he asked,
But Dalrymple evidently did not approve of the tnrn the conversation had
" It's all utter rot," he said, rudely, "any fool knows that. But I Bay, I thought you aaid we might have a dance to-night, Doctor. I'm sure we want something to warm us up."
"So 1 did, my lad, so I did, and I asked the yonng Warners on purpose. Come on in and -the missis 'it play us a tune."
It did not take long to puBh aside the chairs in the Doctor's diningroom, and lefore Mia O'Jiea had seated herself at the piano the Warners bad arrived—two tail girls—and their two brothers, who had a cottage a little
way up the coast towards Sorrento.
The first dance Dearlie danced with the Doctor, and the next with Dunlop, strolling out on to the verandah with him afterwards to cool her self. Dalrymple came after her angrily, for he had come to look on ter as hie private property and reseuted any interference. He calmed down & little when be found her apparently alone, for her partner, leaning against a verandah-post jnst outside the circle of light, was to all intents and pur poses invisible, and he sank into a chair beside her, remarking—
" Well, this is my dance at last, 1 suppose; Hang it all, Dearlie, yon are not treating me fairly, 1 think, throwing me over for that one-eyed old buffer; and I'm sure be dances badly enough."
" He dances well enough to please me, Mr. Dalrymple," said De&rlie, rising with a dignity that Dnniop thougbt proclaimed her relationship with her aunt and eider sister. "Mr. Dunlop, will you take me dowh the garden."
Silently he offered his arm, and Dalrymple watched them go down the Bandy path together.
" By Jove," he thought, "that was a snub, but the beggar oughtn't to Bt&nd out in the dark. I'm sure I didn't want to hurt hie feelings, and Dearlie needn't have been so jolly snappy. She can't possibly care a rap about taim." and be rose and followed them, making so unwelcome a third tbut Dearlie wsb glad to return to the bouse. -