Chapter 139774009

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Chapter Number
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article139774009
Full Date1900-01-20
Page Number26
Corrections1
Word Count2144
IllustratedY
Last Corrected2019-01-14
Newspaper TitleThe Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946)
Trove TitleNoblesse Oblige
article text

THE STORYTELLER.

NOBLESSE OBLIGE.

By M. BURKINSHAW.

"One could always rely upon Roger East- wick to act as a gentleman should. Under any circumstances," said stately Mrs. Dering, with an air of finality.

"H'm!" sniffed Mrs. Wells, who was ever of a fault-finding disposition. "If report speaks true, then one must allow a wide margin—to gentlemen!"

Mrs. Wells had four daughters, who had not found favour in Roger's eyes.

Vivien Dering shifted uneasily in her wide wicker chair by the window. She was a pale, fair-haired girl, whose best friend, Rosie Crane, described as "shadowy." The epithet suited her very well, for there was nothing positive about Vivien, unless it was her well-know penchant for the young man under question.

Of late she and Rosie had exchanged con fidences on every Eubject but that one.

After some months of undecided wooing -or what Turnham en masse considered wooing-Roger had suddenly deserted Vivien's blonde prettiness for Rosie's more vivid personality.

Vivien had felt it deeply, and showed it first by a feeble attempt at flirtation with

MISS EDITH CRANE AND MB. TYRONE POWER AS "TESS" AND "ALEC D'URBEKVILLES" IN "TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES,"

PRODUCED AT THE THEATRE BOYAL, SYDNEY, ON SATURDAY.

(Talma and Co., George-street, Sydney, Photo.)

Harry Traill, the bank clerk, and later by a studied avoidance of Roger, which un happily that young man failed to per ceive.

He had always thought Vivien a nice little thing, but that she-or Turnham - should look upon his attentions in that quarter aB serious had never entered his head. Roger was so accustomed to be ing sf.oken of as "not a marrying man" that he-foolishly, perhaps-shielded himself be hind that supposition, and never expected girls to take him in earnest.

But to every man comes his fatal hour, and when Vivien invited Rosie Crane to

stay with her, Roger's hour was approach ing.

The girls were always together, so it was hard for Turnham to discriminate, but in these affairs some women have an unerr ing instinct; and stout, gossiping Mrs.Wells hit the right nail on the head when she remarked, "putting it plainly," to little Mrs. Smvthe, one of Turnnam's grass widowB, "Roger Eaetwick has given Vivien the go-by for that long Crane girl."

Only Mrs. Dering declined to notice the change, though she busied herself more than ever in turning out pretty frocks for Vivien, who passed as being the best-dressed girl in Turn nam. "All clothes," as Mrs. Wells put

it.

Mrs. Smythe, who had had her own little flirtation with Roger in bygone summers, and who still kept the first waltz for him at the Race Club balls, was only too glad to be able to agree woth Mrs. Wells as to Roger's veering affections. She had never understood what he could see in "that pale faced chit," for Vivien had al ways shown open disapproval of flighty Mrs. Smythe, and it is to be feared that Roger's open praise of Vivien's Hanging had annoyed the grass widow somewhat,

so she was far readier to yield the fiela to a rival one could be proud of possessing,

little Rosie Crane.

What Rosie thought aa she laughed and nde and danced throogh the Turnham summer, much aa she had danced "»i| riddaa nd laughed through other staamani

" HOW'S THAT, UMPIRE ?"

What with the fine rains and warm sun we shan't be able to see much of the finish of intercolonial matchcs in future if they take

much longer to play out.

in more important places than Turaham, nobody ever knew.

What they ehrewdly guessed was that she was not one to wear her heart on her sleeve, nor to give it away to the first comer, which perhaps made it harder for

her in the end.

But to return to Mrs. Dering's drawing

room on this especial afternoon, where one of Turnham's dreary "day at homes" was

TuirSam society was calling on Miss

Crane, for they always welcomed the new comers in this fashion, and Miss Crane was being Blowly and surely bored to despera

tion.

Away under the willows the cool white boat and the cedar canoe rocked gently in the afternoon breeze, and the February sun blazed down on the sparkling waters further out. Half a mile down the river were delightful nooks, where afternoon tea could be prepared and partaken of in com fort, whilst one lay in comfortable uncon ventional attitudes on the thick sward, dotted here and there with yellow butter cups and tiny wild daisies.

Here, in the drawing-room, the Sun beat against the bow-windows, and the smell of hot cakes and strong tea, mingled with the perfume of toilet vinegar, wnich always clung about delicate Aire. Frere, who suf fered from perpetual headaches, was stifling. Roger had promised to come Up later on to take the girlB for a row, but it was 5 o'clock now, and the bevy of Turn ham matrons showed no sign of dis persing.

"And what do you think of Turnham?" Every fresh arrival had asked this ques tion of Rosie this afternoon till she felt almost hysterical with her attempts to give variety to her answer to the inevitable

query.

It sounded so insane to make the same

answer repeatedly in the hearing of those who had already asked the apparently necessary question and been replied to in the glowing terms expected of fresh ar rivals in the little towq.

The conversation about Roger Eastwick was. the only thine that had interested her: yet, she hardly knew -why, she - was glad when somebody changed the subject. Per haps it was for Vivien's sake, for it was enough to irritate anyone, the way Vivieh "wriggled" at the mention, of his name, though none knew better than Rosie that there was nothing between them. .

From the window when Vivien sat she

could overlook the white, empty street and the verandah of the big hotel where Roger, in white flannels, and Harry Traill, in his inevitable grey suit, were idling.

Presently they crossed the street to the Post-office, and stood looking doubtfully towards the Derings' house.

Vivien moved her shoulders impatiently.

She was always being thrown with Harry now-who bored her insufferably. Why couldn't Rosie take her Bhare of him? Surely she was fljrt enough to like a change! And before Rosie came

"Do you know, Miss Dering," said Mrs. Frere in her thin, languid voice, "I have a setting hen which brought ten dear little chicks .out of eleven eggs this morning."

"Indeed," answerd Vivien with a sickly smile, wondering what on earth the woman was talking about.

"Pooh," broke in Mrs. Wells, who was an ancient enemy of Mrs. Frere s, concern ing a tea-meeting of some years back; "a woman next door to me, \ ivien, showed me a beautiful clutch of thirteen to-day out of 12 egps."

"But is that possible?" said Mrs. Dering, politely incredulous.

" Yes! There was a double-yolked egg amongst them." And Mrs. Wells fannea herself violently with her handkerchief, and turned to ask the lady next to her for a recipe for cream cakes.1

Rosie yawned hopelessly behind a palm

leaf fan.

"Suppose we take the two boats this afternoon," 6aid Harrv Traill cheerfully, half a hour later, as the girls stood under the willowE ready to step into the long white boat, where Roger was busily ar ranging cushions. Roger looked up eagerly at Rosie. It was good of Traill to give them the chance. The "hint he had dropped the good-natured little fellow that afternoon had not fallen on barren soil, though Harry had ruefully remarked that he was "D d sick of Vivien Dering."

Vivien came swiftly paet Rosie, and poised daintily for a second on the side ere she stepped down into the white boat, ex

plaining quickly that she was so afraid of

%-anoes. Rosie was so much braver than Bhe -and mamma never would allow her-but if Mr. Eastwi'k didn't object she would go with him, and they could all meet later on under the quarter-mile willows. "The canoe is sure to be first," she concluded, confusedly.

Harry Traill l it his lip to choke back a whistle of astonishment. The worm was turning, indeed! But he was only human, and Rosie's society was welcome as the flowers in May after Vivien's, of late, sulky silences when they were alone. Ifc sin cerely pitied Roger, though, but vowed to himself that he would take "the little cat" off his hands somehow when they reached the landing-place, even if he hail to pro pose to her himself!

There are many twists and turns in the Turnham River, and the light canoe soon distanced the comfortable, but undoubtedly heavy, old white boat, and left it far be hind and out: of sight. Thus it wns that Rosie and Harry arrived at the landing place long before the others hove in sight, and thus it was that after a brief space Roger saw ahead only the ripples left by the flying canoe, and turned towards the figure at the stern, determined to make himself agreeable for the short time they had to be together.

ie re

dS°" "e"h" to *0,1«" ^TiSi

No answer from the be-ribboiud ,

ruffled mublin-clad form anwuJ A ^ cushions. The boat shot wiUlh m,t

midstream. . Ul "ito

"Why the devil doesn't she ri , , "

tered Roger, under hie breath. , >! Klu''' his oars in the rowlocks, and 1, . " ,reL8t<; at her. The delicate face was i; HvW den under the big sun hat, and 1, - j\ see that she was crying: Heu> v .<* thing to be let into. Whatever . la

natter! He leant over and to llnp , her white hands in his big browi. J,

"Is there anything wrong? . ', j ,

anything for you. Miss Dering?' do

llow he wished he had never .

to Traill about taking the two lv f

sun waa confoundedly hot to be u iim>

midstream, too, out of the welcoi: Vi,N§m of ihe willows, though it was s;. "'e ?w wards the west. Why didn't . |,e

speak? Perhaps she was jcaloi aK°[ Traill; but then it waa by

choice that she was not in ; ' with him. Thank goodness

Crane was not a tearful womai, Tears always nut hira out of countenan 0 hor ribly, though he really was son- h," little thing, and he supposed he up with -omething for the sake :miL Rose to iiiinself in the canoe on home journey. "u

"Isn t there anything I can dn. peated lamely. "Why don't you it

A few minutes later he was son ;e ha(j asked her to tell him when ti. whole piteous story came out, watered v.;, many tears and choked with many sol^

Stunned and horror-6truck, ^11 the truth extremely angry, was 1;. , hear how "all Turnham" raid he, Ro|. East wick, had jilted Vivien Derinj. j vien Jjc-ring, who loved him-for Rosi Vane who cared for nobody. (Roger b. is lip at that, because unfortunately he I not believe it; Rosie'B eyes had spoke.' ..i him once, and he had meant his lips : sjjeak to her to-day); how she, Vivien, i>. ,nded to drown herself on the first opp.>= iunity rather than suffer the sneers of 1nham any longer; bow he had >ed her to clieve he "meant something"-violent so!.- over Mrs. Wells's pet expression, and vw he WJIS gome to spoil her life and ili:. v her

away, &e.

.And so it was that Rosie, furtively exam ining her little gold watch, while -'.e sat on a mossy log with Harry Traill content edly smoking cigarettes at her feet, looked up to see the white boat turning the comer with a radiant face among the cushions,

and a white set one at the oars.

"By Jove! You've been a long tune," c-haifed Harry, jurni ing un to help Vivien ashote. Vivien smiling brilliantly upon him, though the traces of recent tears were on

her face.

"Why shouldn't we be." she said coquet tishly, with a backward glance. But linger was busy unknotting the tiller ropes. Rosie went to the sedgy edge of the river, and looked at him. For one long minuto their eyes met in a look, such as two lost souk who had by a hair-breadth misseid their paradise might exchange-met, grey eyes and brown, in mutual understanding and

farewell.

Thouph there were perhaps exceptional circumstances, to do her all justice, such u she had never dreamt of, Airs. Dering wae right after all. Even Rosie Cratie-who guessed more than most of what had passed that afternoon-could never know how woe fully hard Roger Eastwick had found it for once in hi6 life to "act as a gentle

man."