Chapter 139145703

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Chapter NumberVIII
Chapter TitleTWO LECTURES AND AN OLD LOVE-STORY.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article139145703
Full Date1889-12-21
Page Number6
Corrections0
Word Count3645
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946)
Trove TitleMiles Dunlop's Mistake
article text

Chapter VIII.

TWO LECTL'BES AMD AM OLD LOVE STOBT.

" Lore h strong as death. Many waters cannot quench lore, neither can the floods drown it; if a man would give all the substance of his house for lore, it would utterly be contemned."—SubOMOK.

Dear lie spent an hoar in peace, and then, just as the bell waB ringing for

the mid-day dinner, her two younger Bisters came Hying upstairs, and had to be admitted to make themselves presentable for dinner. The blind being down and the room dark, she hoped her tear-stained face might escape observation, but Winny peered curiously at her, and Dearlie had tp explain that she had a very bad headache, and sent them down with .a message to her aunt to the effect that she felt ill and did not want any dinner. Dearlie ill was something so extraordinary—a thing so altogether unknown in the annals of the Nairn family—that it furnished, food -tor conversation all dinner-time, while Hies Popham, who shrewdly suspected she had a cine to the mystery, merely told the girls they were not to disturb their sister,'and decided to talk to her herself in the course of the afternoon. After all

Dearlie** excuse that she was ill was true enough. She had eaten little or nothing since the night before. She bad lain awake all night staring at the'ceiling, wondering what had gone wrong and what on earth she could do to mend matters, and then the intense excitement of the morning, brief as it . was—4be effort to appear calm when she knew the man she loved was leaving her for ever, had proved too much for her, and now she felt really ill. Her heart throbbed as if it would bnrst, every bone in her body ached, her eyes smarted with the tears she had shed, and as she lay there on her bed in the very abandonment of grief she even wondered herself what could be the matter with her. Poor little gill, she though her heart was broken. She had loved this man with all her strength, and he had not wanted her love. He bad been very kind and tender to her, but he bad shown her, she thought, tiiat he did not care for her in the only way she" wished to be cared for; he had utterly shamed and humiliated her, and he had gone away and lett her, and she wished she might die. She knew very well she would not die, though she did feel so ill this afternoon. It seemed so bard to have to live all her life with this sorrow In her heart—a sorrow she could con&de to no one. The years stretched out before her inter minably long—long, long years, which bad to be lived through, and she knew, too, she must wear a smiling face to the world, brothers, sisters father, mother—all expected her to be bright and happy, whatever the rest of them might be, and tbe prospect Ipoked so terribly black to Iter she bid her face in her pillow again and gave way to a fresh buret of tears. Pooir little girl, she was so young and innocent—so ignorant of all tbe ways of the world—that it never occurred to ber she would forger, never occurred to her that Bhe could possibly forget She had loved once with all her strength, and she thought she would love him always, and now he was gone and she must bear it as best she could, As we grow older welearo, not perhaps with out regret, that time to a certain extent cures all things. The .old pain is still there. The old sorrow is unforgotten. It'has lined our faces slid whitened our heads, hut time, kindly time, has dulledits first fresh cutting keenness. The tiitiing pleasures and cares of everyday fife must of neces sity push it into the back-ground, and it is not so hard.after all, to go through life with a smiling face. If you he glopmy, my friend, )t Is not because of that great and terrible trouble, which you think has crashed the life out of you. If it is past and-gone, you could make s migbty effort and rise superior to that, Itis tbe email cares, the tiny woroe* that spring up every nay on every aide, that weary you and bind you down, and you can not muster sufficient energy either to conquer or to disregard them. '

But Dearlie, in ths agony of her firat sorrow, saw no hope -of better things, «nd cried on till atlastshe fairly ctied herseu into a troubled

„ r #t , r who at once took possession of tbe only chair the bare rooin c6ntained, while Dearlie lay downOccemore on the bed, and pulledup the pillow* po that her sister could not see her face, . . , v

Helen had just heard froua Misa Popham, who hadgsthMMftfrom'Totn a somewhat rambling statements, that Dearlie war-engaged to Ofaarile Dai ryraple, and though she hstdlybeUe ved it she was not be#tplegsed .«,»«« new*. so she sat in solemn pilence, hud waited for her slater to »P?ak Wf1 But Dearlie did not feel .equal to opening the conveteatlon, so at bust Him Nairn said in her coldest tonisa, ; '

" Aunt wants to spe&k to you." , • • "Doesshe? Now?" And DearUeraiiedherself <mb« city?*

" Ob, I daresay It'll keep for an hour qr so —Pefttfjio. suu^ded *mPP* & pillows again—"especially as I have something to, flay to lw wyarit

Dearlie, you'veheeh crying." - "V

No answer, only ashgiit movement, by which Dearlie seemed to bwyW face deeper than em among the pillows, h ?

J' What have your been crying for ?'

A pause, and then the victim answered reluctantly.

" 1 don't feel well."

'Oh, that's it, ia it?" (Rather an extraordinary thing to cry about, though. What made you ill ?" * '

' 1 —- don't know."

" Oh, don't you. Dearlie, listen to me." "I'm listening."

" Yes, with your face smothered in hair and pillows." And Mies Nairn rose np, and with -no gentle hnnd pushed down the pillows and brushed away the hair from her sister's face.

"Good gracious me, child," she said aghast, "you have been crying. Why your face is all swollen with it, Whatever is the matter?'1

There was no denying the fact—she had been crying terribly. She had hoped to remove all traces of recent tears before anyone should nee her, but here was Helen gazing down on her pitilessly, so she answered somewhat sullenly.

"I told yon—I don't feel well."

" Poob, nonsense. People don't cry in that heart-broken way, simply be cause they don tfeel well. Who ie it now? Charlie?" and Miss Nairn felt an inward tremor in her own heart as she put the question.

" Charlie ? Who's Charlie ?" for later events had driven him completely out of her head. " Oh, Charlie Dalrymple you mean. No, of course not What should I cry about him tor ?"

' Exactly what I wanted to find out," said Helen dryly; going back to her

l, much to her sister's relief. " Then it's not true you're engaged to hit

seal, much to her siBtet a reuei.1 ilien it a not true you're engaged to hitn,"

she added after a pause.

" No, of course not Who ever told yon that ?"

" That tiresome boy Tom, of course. At least he told aunt. That's what •he wants to speak to you about."

*' But—but—it's not true. Whatever made him think that,"

" 1 don't know, I'm sure. Something Cuarlie said about not considering

it settled till the end of the week."

" Ob," a light broke in on Dearlie. '' That was it, was it ? Well, I'm not engaged to Charlie, never want to be, and never shall be," she said emphatically, feeling sure ehe could not tell her sister pleasanter news.

"Well, what did Charlie mean by that?" "Nothing."

" Nonsense, Dearlie. you're playing with me. Come now, did Charlie pro pose to you last night?"

" Ye-es."

"1 thought so. And you refused him." " Yes,"

" You little fool. And I suppose he declined to believe in the refusal, told yen to take time to think it over, and declared he wouldn't consider the matter settled till the end of the week, eh ?"

"Nell! llow could you know?"

"My dear, I know Charlie Dalrymple from the crown of his head to the sole of his foot. What on earth maite you refute him ?"

" 1 don't want bim. I don't love him, and .if you know him so well, you know he doesn't really love me."

"When he askyouto mirry him! What nonsense !"

"It isn't nonsense, and you know it. He has been iii love with yon for the last two years, only you have treated him so badly, be naturally turned to me, and he wants to marry me 1 verily believe juBt to spite you."

Miss Nairn visibly softened. It was bitter to think her lover had deserted her for her insignificant sister, but Dearlie's suggestion brought balm to her wounded vaniiy, and she said hesitatingly, " I've been kind enough to bim lately."

. "The last two nights. Thai's nothing. Try it for a week, Nell, and you'll eee he'd be bitterly repenting by that time that he wouldn't take my ' No' on the spot,"

" You'll think better of it before then.

"1 won't—1 won't—I don't want to marry anyone, and certainly I don't want to marry him."

"All right, you shan't. But you're a little fool for your pains. See what a fool ennt and father and mother '11 think you."

"Tiny won't know."

"Oh, won't they? Aunt'II tell."

" Well, they didn't think you a fool."

"The caBes ore different," s«id Misa Nairn curtly. "And now—did you take my advice this morning ?"

" 1—yes—no—yes."

" Explanatory certainly. If yonr remarks were as graphic to Mr. Dunlop, he must have bad an exciting half-hour. What did you say to bim?"

" Nothing—at least—I don't remember."

Dearlie had contrived to hide her face in the pillows again.

"A lively companion truly. What did he talk about then? Charlie Dalrymple ?"

"No."

"No, of course he wouldu't, but—did you ? Did you explain things as 1 told you ?"

"No."

"Dearlie, were you bom a too), or have the cares of a large family dulled your intellect. Come tell me what you talked about. Tom tells me he has gone away, ib that true? Or is it likewise born of that young gentleman's too fruitful imagination?"

" It's true."

" What did yon let him go for ?"

"1—Nell—"said poor Dearii^ sitting up and trying to speak bravely.

"It's no good. Hedoesn'c care fot me one straw in that way. He—he has pone away—he only came down to say ' Good-bye.' because he's going to Queensland to settle lor good next month. He told me so himself."

" Exactly, because through yonr utter idiotcy, I can call it nothing else, he believes Miss Dearlie Nairn is now engaged to Mr. Charles Dalrymple, and he has no desire to play second fiddle, and contemplate their bliae."

'"Nellie—Nellie—I—."

"Oh, Dearlie, I have no patience with you. If you wanted Mr. Dunlop, no girl ever bad a better chance than you had this morning, and now he's gone, and yon're crying your eyes out over the mess you've made, you little idioL Get up now, on<l wash your your face, aud do your hair. Auot is waiting tor you," and Miss Nairn went out, and hanged the door behind her.

Dearlie felt it a great hardship to have to face her aunt She would have given-aimost anything to keep out of her sight till next morning, but there was no help for it, ao great a power was not to be denied, so ehe rose up slowly, and, after endeavouring with but small success to wash away all traces of her recent emotion, went alowly down the passage, and koocked at the old lady's door.

" Come in," said Miss Popham, and Dearlie thought her voice sounded. unusually stern. Her own lace was white and woe begone in spite of her endeavours to look happy and unconscious, and her aunt was a little shocked.

" Why, child," she said, not unkindly, " what is the matter ? Come

here."

"I don't feel very well," faltered Dearlie, making the old excuse.

" And-you don't look ao, I'm sure. There—shut the door, and come and sit in the armchair."

The armchair, covered in bine rep, that never could have been pretty even in its palmiest days, and now was faded and worn, and relegated to the best bedroom, stood right against the open window, and Dearlie lying back in it had a good view of green crowned rocky headlands jutting out into the bay, i.ow sparkling in the afternoon sunlight Up the South Channel a great ocean steamer was slowly making her way, and ahe watched it with that intentnew we aometimee bestow on trivial matters, even when the greatest happiness of our lite is at stake.

Miss Popham satoppoeite her knitting.

" Plain purl,"abe murmured, just above her breath, "plain purl slip one, knit two together—Keziah what iathe matter with you?"

"1 don't know, aunt Perhaps I walked too much yesterday."

"Ah, perhaps you did. And now, Keziah, what is this I hear about Charlie DaJiymple?"

"I don't know what yon have heard, aunt," said Dearlie faintly.

" Yes, you da Thomas told me you were engaged to him. He was certain of it".

" Tom was dreaming," murmured Dearlie.

"And Helen haajustbeen here telling me yon are not Now, which am I to believe, Thomas or Helen ?"

" Nell, of cour»e,£be understands all about it."

That'amore than! do then, Now, child. I want to get to the bottom of this Did Charlieqirbpoae to you last night?"

There was a panse, during which the business-like click of Miss Pophsm's knitting needles wee the only sound in the quiet room. Then Dearlie

faltered—

" l—I nrottieednot to tell."

Pooh-1 Alipirlado that Did be propose ?"

Yf 1 " Fill \

*' And you refused him t* , .

Dearlie ttumght bow very closely her aunt's catechism was following her ewtoV tat ehe answered mote boldly this time—

" Keziah, whatdid you do that for t Young, handsome, well-to-do—what more could you want ?"

" Ididn'tlove hlm.auot'^ '

Love bim ! <loes A girl ,ike You know about love ? '

What, indeed. The steamer was right opposite theirwludow now, a long white wakeatretcbifigawaybebind her; and Dearlie almost fancied ahe

insignificai^Leetie^e mightyoi^^twmer,1andj^ireoaembered- with a

MUb that MileaDj^topUrason board.andthenWfAtoi'^lhJherself asshe

thought of tbeastonisnment Bhewouldcraateftsbe anbweredber aunts question tshlf/ Mt WOeeldom do speak out our wbblethoughts, so she

merely said— ? . ?

"'lJrnow I don't love Charlie Dalrymple, at any rate. I'm not quite sore tbailevenlikehim."

? -®Bt» my dear child, my dear child, do think what yon are doing. Yon tagd auch a aecluded liie, see so few people. You are not beautiiul like

Mwb. Yon are never likely to have such acbance again. '

' I know. 1 will bean old maid."

Jtod-.DtaTlie clasped her hands in her lap and felt that she really meant

. " 9i*J %Mah, yon are foolishly throwing away your happiness. Hate yon •vet thboght what it means fd be an old maid r

" Why, ; of course." '

" My dear child, you don't realise it, I hope yon never will realise the ntter JonelinesB of such a life. You have no one to love, no one to love yon. It loneliness is terrible." And Dearlie would have been stupid indeed bad she missed the pnin in her aunt's voice.

" Auntie, dear," she said gently, so gently that lilies Pophara caught her self wondering how it was she had not taken this niece to her heart instead of the more beautiful Helen. "Auntie, dear, surely you know we all love

you.'

"Yea; somewhere after your btothers and sisters and father and mother. I am first with no one. I am a very, very long way from being first. Whv, my death would not make the tiniest blank in anyone's life. Keziah, don't be an old maid if you can help yourself. Every woman needs a husband and children to make herlife complete."

" But, Auntie, it wob your own choice. 1 have heard my father say so often. You might have married over and over again."

" But not the man I loved, child ; not the man 1 loved.'' The knitting had fallen on the floor, and Dearlie saw the delicate old hands clasping and un clasping each other in their agitation, and felt a deep sympathy for her aunt

born of her own trouble.

"Didn't be love you, Auntie 1" she asked softly. "Surely he must have

loved you."

"Love me ? Oil I yes; he loved me. Never woman was better loved than 1 have been. But he could not marry me. There was that between us that —well, never mind, it an old story now, and 1 thank God no one ever suspected it. They thought me hard and cold, but 1 kept my own counsel and never told a soul till to-day. Why am 1 confiding in you, child, 1

wonder 1"

"Because Hove you ; I do love you, Auntie," said Dearlie, coming over and kneeling down by the old lady's side. " Tell me, dear," she whispered,

"is he dead 1"

" Dead ; no. He ia not dead. But, dear child, it was all over thirty years ago. So what is the good of talking about it ?"

" Thirty years ago! Oh ! Auntie, it is a lifetime, and you love him still." And Dearlie's voice faltered, tor stretchiug out before her she seemed to see all the years of her own life—desolate, unloved, unillumined even by such faint rays of happiness aa had fallen on her aunt's.

"Love him?. Ycb ; I shall always love him." Dearlie felt her trembling. " Bat Lam an old worn m, child, and—am&perliaps in that unknown country to which we axe ,a|ljourneying God witl be good to me and give tne my darling there.*^"

"Auntie, Auntie!" Dearlie bad broken down now, and was-crying over this old love story as Blie had cried over her own an hour ago. "Has lie

gone on loving you alt these years, too?"

"1 don's know,. hat 1 hope not; I pray not 1 would not have had him unhappy tor all the world, lie bad his work to do in the world ; his place to fill; many occupations, many cares; and 1 hope he found pepce, and forgot. But I—a woman's lite is so different I bad nothing to do but sit

at Dome and remember."

" Did he sive you this ting, auntie ?"' touching a quaint old ring Miss Popltam always wore on Iter linger.

"Thai—oh ! that belonged to my mother. No; he gave me nothing. Why fihoold he ? He knew very well 1 -needed nothing to remember him by. But there—I am forgetting what I wanted to talk to you about You will marry Charlie Dalrymple, won't you?"

" No, aunt, 1 can't You wouldn't want me to marry a man I don't love,

would you ?"

" But you will learn to love him. lie will be good to you. , And you will have other ties—children, perhaps. Dou't throw away this chance of

happiness."

"I can't marry him. I couldn't even love him. Besides, there is another reason, auntie. 1—don't tell—but I do think Nell loves him."

" Helen ! Nonsense. Now, you are romancing. Why he is a year younger than she is, and Bite has always treated him as a boy. He proposed to her last winter, I fancy, and she wouldn't have him."

" All the same, she loves bitn now," said Dearlie, rising and looking out of the window again. ".She didn't know it as long as he adored her, but when in despair he turned to me she found it out quick enough. She lias hud a good lesson, and knows her own mind now, and won't be so foolish

again."

" Keziah, you take my breath away."

" It's true all the same," said Dearlie, nodding her head sagely. "Come and look here. It's lucky I'm not in love."

Miss Pophatn rose and looked over her shoulder. The big steamer had passed out of s'ght up the South Channel, the Ozone was but a streak of 6moke over in the direction of QueensclitT, the voices of the children at play reached their ears softened by the distance, the afternoon was hot, still, and quiet, and the only two people visible were Charlie Dalrymple and lielen Nairn, strolling slowly, very slowly, down the hot, white, glaring, limestone road towards the beach, deep in each other's conversation, and apparently unconscious of all surroundings.

" They may be talking about you," said Miss Pophara, doubtfully.

" Abottlme. I don't think they'd be quite so earnest if it was only about me No; Nell is making up, and Charlie is just beginning to regret be didn't let my ' No' decide it last night. What a Bell if 1 changed my mind

but, luckily, I shan't."

" Well, of course, if Helen wants him," said Miss Pophatn, going back to the old family idea that Helen mnat have whatever she 6et her heart on, " that is another thing. Only I hope you'll never regret it, child."

"That 1 never shall," said Dearlie, earnestly, "never."