Chapter 139145706

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Chapter NumberXIII
Chapter TitleTHERE IS PEACE AND HAPPINESS IN YOUR HAND.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article139145706
Full Date1889-12-21
Page Number11
Corrections0
Word Count3297
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946)
Trove TitleMiles Dunlop's Mistake
article text

Chapter XIII.

*' THERE IS TEA.CE AND HAPPINESS IN TOUR HANa"

*' 0, that 'twere possible,

Aiter Ion? grief and pain,

To find the aruis of my true lore Round me oucc again.''

—Tessvsos.

Half an hour before Miles bad braced to meet wl:at seemed like certain death, and even now, as be stood there safe on the beach by the blazing fire looking at the crowd ot eager people, it seemed to him more like a dream than when he had stood on the slanting deck over yonder, out among the raging breakers, listening to the dying skipper, watching the furious seas, or half mechanically noting the clouds that scurried across the sky, and yet here was Tom Nairn hugging him like a lunatic and crying out again—

"Dearlie ! Dearlie ! come here. We've saved Mr. Dnnlop."

She ran forward with outstretched hands—hands that were scratched and bleeding, but the firelight only showed Miles a fair face, wistful and anxious, with a world of love and tenderness she forgot in her gladness tc bide in her blue eyes—eyes that surely told him how blind he had been, fcr as she put her band in his he clasped his own over it fondly, and whispered, spite of the people around—

"My darling! my darling! I have thought of nothing but you all night."

The cradle coming ashore with another man claimed the people's atten tion, and Miles, with Dearlie's band still in his, drew her out of the circle of light into the friendly darkness. It was hardly the place or time for love making, acd yet—and yet be was needed by his comrades no longer; his anxieties were over, and he drew her under the shadow of the cliff with a thankful heart.

" Thank God i" he said, under bis breath; " thank God ! I never dreamt of such happiness as this," and Dearlie hardly knew whether he was thanking Ilim for her presence or his own safety, or both. Site wanted to speak—wanted to say something—but her heart was too lull. All her sorrow of the past three weeks, her heart-breaking hope of the last day or two, the anxiety of the last few hours, came before her as she stood there by Dunlop'a side with her hand fast clasped in his. The wind blew hec hair acrcss his shoulder and face, as it had done on that morning more than three weeks ago now, when he had left her. He had made a mistake then ; was he reading her aright now? He put his arm round her waist and

drew her close to him.

"My darling'," he murmured, low, but Dearlie heard it, spite of the rac ing storm; "my own little darling" and she felt his heart beating so furiously she must have been dense indeed if she did not understand that this was no kindly friendship he was offering her,

•< i_i "—she began, and then she hid her face on his breast, sobbing as if her heart would break:

"Don't—don't cry," and Dunlop brushed the bair from her face, end kissed eyes and lips with all the passion he had pent up so long.

"I—I—It has been snch a long night; but if I had known you were there

" sobbed Dearlie incoherently, utterly nnable to control herself. *' And would you have eared? Could you have eared?" *' Cared! Surely you know I cared."

" I love you so—but—but—I am old, and worse than ugly."

She put her arms xound his neck of her own free withdrew his head down, and kissed his scarred face lovingly.

"I love you; yon must know I love you, Ton Are not ugly, tmdjrou arc not old; you are all the world to me."

"Oh, child, and I have been breaking my heart about you tor the last three weeks. I though you would marry Dalrymple. I overheard your aunt say so one night. Tom told me the same thing, and so I cleared out— Bimply because I could not bear to see it."

"Silly fellow," she whispered fondly. "I though you went because you saw 1 loved you, and you didn't love me in return. 1 have been so ashamed. I—I thought I could never be happy again."

He pressed her closer to him.

"Ob! crumbs; 1 say, you two, what are you doing?" Tom Nairn's voice was the first intimation they had of his most unwelcome presence, and Dearlie and Miles sprang guiltily apart

"Your sister is tired, Tom," said Miles awkwardly.

"Tired, by Jingo, I should think so; bo's everybody else. They're all safe ashore now, and we're going home."

"Yes, of course," said Miles tamely, feeling somehow as if he had lived a lifetime, during which he had entirely neglected his comrades in

distress.

" They're all Bate, Tom ? " he asked anxiously.

" All but the poor old skipper, and he was dead before they took him off. They're taking him up to the hotel for the inquest."

"God rest bis bouI," said Miles, thinking of the past hours, which seemed so far in the background ; and Dearlie, half below her breath, murmured

" Amen."

" Why, Dear, if you ain't just as wet as Mr. Dunlop," said Tom, as they came within the light of the expiring fires. "Oh ! you are in a state ! "

" Never mind me," said Dearlie. " It wasn't very fine to begin with, and oh ! if I hadn't come " And the remembrance of how reluctantly she had come, of how frightened she had been, the thought that she had so nearly yielded to her inclination and stopped in bed, made her cover her face and burst into tears again.

" Dearlie, Dearlie," Baid Miles, his arm round her waist," "don't cry any

more."

MoBt of the crowd had gone back towards Portsea with the rescued Bailors, and only a few men remained eagerly on the lookont for what wreckage might come ashore in the morning. The storm was not so violent; the wind, as if satisfied with what it had accomplished, had nearly blown itself out, and the full moon sailed out in a cloudless sky. Miles drew Dearlie's arm through his as they went up the hill together, and Tom,

on his other side, as a sort of vent for his superfluous excitement, poured ; into his ears the whole story of how they had come out secretly to see the storm, and bo had, by the merest chance, it Beemed, saved the lives of those on board the Two Brothers. It was a long story, which Tom spun out till they reached the Lonsdale, and once there, Miles found himself surrounded by Dr. O'Hea, Dalrymple, and others who claimed acquaintance with him,

and who had only just realised that be was among the rescued. j

Just as the first faint streaks of dawn were breaking in the east he i managed to get clear, and

drawing Dearlie into a dark corner he kiased her good night fondly.

" You aaved me for yonraelf, didn't you?" he whispered; and ahe lifted np her face and abyly answered "yes."

Miss Popham appeared at the head of the stairs with a candle in her hand, fearfully and won derfully arrayed, and called " Keziah, Keziah."

The voice was per emptory, and Dearlie fled away upstairs. The light of the candle fell fall on her, ana showed her to her lover, wet and be draggled, her torn Bkirts trailing on the ground.

" God ble6S my dar ling," he said beneath hia breath ; bnt Tom Nairn, standing by, heard him.

" What'a that you're saying, Mr. Dunlop?"

" There ia no barm in praying for blesBinga on one's preservers, is there my lad?"

"Crumbs! I dunno. I know I think it's time to go to bed. Tou're to have the other bed in my room. This blesaed pub's so full they can't give you a room to yourself. And, I say, one of your preservers went out in his best coat, and it's rained. Oh my ! won't there be skittles to morrow."

Next morning Tom and Dearlie found themselves the heroes of the hour. That midnight walk of theirs, taken so sorely against the inclination of one of them, had brought unlooked-for results, and

oil tViof 4tj\ fViom

the crew of the Two Brothers most certainly owed their lives. As for Danlop, he had not been so happy for years, and at the first opportunity sought ont Miss Popham, and explained how things stood between him and

her niece.

That old lady could hardly believe her earn.

" Keziah !" she said—" Keziah !—that child. Why, Mr. Dunlop, she is young enough to be your daughter."

" Hardly that, I think," he said, though even now the speech made him wince. " I know I must seem a strange suitor for a fresh young girl like Dearlie, but she's satisfied, and that's the main thing."

" Yes,' said Miss Popham doubtfully—" yes, but I can hardly believe she cares for you, and you—you . Why, Helen would be so much more suitable."

" Now, Miss Popham, does anybody ever marry the person the world thinks so suitable f Besides, Helen is going to marry young Dalrympie. She

told me so herself."

"Yes, yes. Well, I Bhall be glad to see Keziah happy, and I am sure yoi will be good to her. Her father will be very pleased."

" Will he? You think he will approve?"

" Oh 1 yes; I know he likes you; and—and though you are not rich Keziah is accustomed to being poor, and yon will be better of by-and-by."

" Hadn't I better run up to town and see Dr. Nairn ?"

" Not unless you like. A letter will da We shall only be here a wee!

longer." Stay and make it pleasant for the child. I often think she has ha< rather a hard life of it Let her be free from household worries, and enjo; herself for once. I assure you you may consider yourself engaged t her." ' ' ' ' ,

Thus assured, Danlop sent to Melbourne for a fresh supply of clothes, am settled down with much satisfaction at Portsea.

? The fact of his engagement to Dearlie Nairn soon leaked out; indeed, the bemseives were, as Tom said, a standing advertisement of it. Whereve

Dearlie was, there was Miles at her side, and the " masher and his girl," according to the same authority, " were not a patch on them."

Miss Popham told Mrs. Crawford, who declared that she had seen it all along, and, proud of her own discernment, published it far and wide. The news took but a short time to reach Whirily, and down came the doctor in person to congratulate the happy couple.

"Didn't I tell ye? Didn't I tell ye? Ye'll believe in the science of palmistry now, Mr. Dunlop. Didn't 1 tell ye ye'd get your heart's

desire ?"

" So you did, doctor; so you did," said Miles, patting him on the back gratefully; " but all the same, things seem to have come about by the merest

chance"

"There is no such thing as chance in this world," said the doctor solemnly. " It was written in your hand when ye were a baby, and it just proves what I've Baid a thousand times, that the science of palmistry cannot fail. And now, sweetest creature," turning to Dearlie, " aren't ye going to take him to task about that other girl ?"

" What other girl ?" asked Dearlie, with a happy little smile that showed

she feared no rival.

" Why the girl he was so awfully in love with before he saw you, to be sure," Baid the doctor, examining Dunlop's hand through his glasses.

Dearlie laughed.

" I don't mind," she said. " He may have had a dozen sweethearts before he saw me. I don't care so long aB I'm the last."

"Well, well, sweetest creature, there is peace and happiness in your hand, so it will be all right"

That afternoon Milesand Dearlie walked to the back beach, and sitting there in a sheltered nook watching the great white breakers come rolling in, she told him the story of the night of the wreck, and of her long lonely watch. Tom had already done so, as she knew, bat it had an added charm from her lips, and he took her in his arms and vowed again and again to love her for

ever. ...

" And that other girl ?" asked Dearlie mischievously ; " what of that other girl ?"

He had lain down on the sand now, with his*head pillowed on her lap, and was supremely happy.

" What other girl ?" he asked lazily, playing with her fingers.

" The one Dr. O'Hea talked about Was there somebody, and did you love her very much ! Tell me, Miles."

He liked to hear her call him by his Christian name, and he put the hand he held to his lips and kissed it softly.

"Dr. O'Hea's an old donkey ; but there was somebody. I'll tell you if you like. Sweetheart, yon won't be jealous ?"

" How long ago waa it ?" asked Dearlie, doubtfully. " Between ten and eleven years."

"Oh ! then of course I don't mind," she said in a tone of relief, stroking his hair. " Tell me, how old was she?"

"Nineteen."

"Just my age,"said Dearlie, nodding her head. "And what was her

name ?"

' Violet"

' I hate that name—at least "

' Oh, don't recant ont of consideration for my feelings. So did I for many a long year. Now I don't care."

"Well, tell ms about it"

"There is not much to tell. She was young and very pretty. I was young and "

'Handsome."

" Well, yes; I believe the world said that of me then, and it can't matter much if I say it of myself now. I was rich in those days, and went out to India just to see the world. She was the daughter of a judge in Calcutta, very charming and one of the belleB of the place. I fell headlong in love with her, and she—well, I was fool enough to believe she returned my love. We were engaged and were to be married ih a month, when I went on that unfortunate shooting expedition and spoiled my beauty. I was ill for months, as you may imagine, and when again I saw my lady love she received me with such unfeigned horror and dismay that I saw at once all was over between us. I daresay I was a gruesome object—worse even then than I am now, and perhaps I ought not to have thought so hardly of

her."

" Miles, Miles." Dearlie pat her arms round him and pressed the poor scarred face tenderly against her breast "How .could she? Oh, how could she? 1 would have loved you all the mote,"

"My little sweetheart, she married a redcoat soon after, and I hear is a very unhappy woman." . . .

" It was her own fault," said Dearlie, with conviction. "And yet—oh dear, I can't help being glad, she didn't marry you. What should I have

done then?"

" Married somebody more suitable, as your aunt would say; but you couldn't have married anyone who would love you more than I do, my

darling," and Dearlie firmly believed him, and believes him Btill.

Dr. Nairn, as Miss Popham had prophesied, highly approved bis daughter's choice, and when Miles, fairly established as junior partner in Grant, Allen and Grant, wanted to be married at once, threw no obstacle in his way, Mrs. Nairn thought her daughter too young, and would have had her wait a year or so, but Miss Popham came to the rescue, declaring that to her certain knowledge the cares of the household had fallen on Dearlie'a young shoulders for the past three years, and that, therefore, she was fully com petent—would find it easier, in fact—to manage a house of her own. So for once Dr. Nairn exerted his authority, and one bright June morning in 1888 Dearlie and Miles were married. For a honeymoon Dunlop took his wife up the Queensland coast, and on their return they settled down in a com fortable cottage in Grand view-grove, Hawksburn, the happiest couple, de clares Miles Dunlop, in all the Australias.

Helen Nairn is not yet married For a few weeks after her engagement to Charlie Dalrymple life was to her unalloyed bliss ; then the sweetness began to cloy. She wearied a little of the man who was her willing slave. She trifled with him, slighted him, flirted with other men, until at last, driven to despair he remonstrated sharply, and insisted on a reform. Then she quarrelled with him violently, and broke off the engagement then and there. It is Tom's freely expressed opinion that she'll never marry.

" She is really awfully good looking, you know," said Tom at dinner one Saturday when he had concluded to favour the Dunlops with his company. "Awfully handsome, but oh, crumbs ! she'll never marry. She ought to have stuck to Charlie. She's getting rather long in the tooth now, you

know."

" Thomas," said Miss Popham, who had also come over to see her niece. "Thomas, I am shocked."

" Oh, come aunt . Dearlie, you needn't kick a fellow under the table; 'tisn't dignified in a married woman. Aunt don't mind, do you aunt? Eveiyone knows you could have married a hundred times over if you'd liked ' don't they V

Miles smiled across at his wiie.

"Tom," he said, "you're incorrigible."

" Thanks, I'm getting along pretty well. I'm in the first twenty now,

and "

" The Grammar School team's wondering how it ever got on without you,

eh?"

1 Just about that, I ex

pect Bat don't yon chaff. I got you your wife, and way."

" Did you ? Well, now, I was always under the impression yon did your level best to mar the match."

" Crumbs ! blaming me lor your own stupidity. If, it hadn't been for me you'd have been lying at the bottom of the sea, just, beyond London - bridge.

As it is "

"As it is, I am deeply grateful for your watchful

care. Come, little Wife,' it's warm enough to sit outside' to-night, and I want to smoke."

" I'm jiggered, Annt Pop," said Tom, as Miles and his wife left the room, " but 1 believe those two really are fond of one another. None of your stuff abont love, you know, but real downright fond of each other."

For once Miss Popham forgot to correct her nephew's slipshod Eng

lish.

" Really, Thomas," she said, "you are right, and I thank God for it I wish I could see Helen as happy; but that will never be; Bhe asks too mncb, and gives too little. The secret of trne happiness lies in ourselves, Thomas."

But Tom thought be was in for a lecture, and bolted incontinently.

" You tell Nell from me, aunt," he shouted back from the doorway, "she ought to have stack to Charlie Dalrymple. She's getting rather long in the tooth, I say."

And be banged the door and retired to the yard, where he shied atones at' a neighbour's cat, and meditated on bis chances of being picked for one of the school eleven in the forthcoming cricketing season.