Chapter 160104960

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Chapter NumberXV
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article160104960
Full Date1884-12-27
Page Number9
Corrections20
Word Count1410
IllustratedN
Last Corrected2018-03-17
Newspaper TitleAdelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904)
Trove TitleSowing the Wind
article text

CHAPTER XV.

Once more Helen found herself at the rail-

way station at Scoss. Just about three and a half years had gone by since she stood on this platform with the daring inexperience of youth. How sadly she recalled the vague visions of great things to be accomplished which had then filled her mind—where were they now? How far had those dreams been realized? She asked herself how far she had succeeded or in how much had she failed? Of this much at least, however, she could feel assured, that by no demeanour of hers had she ever provoked the slightest slur upon her name; also she knew that not even for a moment had one thought for any other than Arnold Disney held its place in her heart. All her practical experience had not obliterated her romantic belief that to love once was to love for ever; yet to blame Arnold for forgetting and replacing her never entered

her mind. She rather felt her conscience

relieved by the thought that she had not

spoilt his life.

Helen engaged the one shaky old cab and found her aunt's cottage. How great the contrast between this with the handsome mansion she had left. But not greater the contrast without than that which she found within — the poor shattered old woman wrapped in shawls before a warm fire to the stately dame of Scoss Hall, whose very pre- sence had been so awe-inspiring.

Finding her knock unnoticed she entered softly through a French window opening upon a small lawn.

"Aunt, dear aunt; I have come back to you if you will have me," she said humbly and gently.

The poor old lady started. "Helen! Her voice surely, but not the child. Ah! no, no. I have caused her destruction. I have driven her to ruin. I—yes. I have done this."

"No, dear aunt, it is not so. I have been protected from all harm by the kindest of friends, but had it been otherwise my own sinful folly alone would have been the cause. Will you receive me back? Will you let me comfort and nurse you as some reparation for the distress I have caused?" The last words were almost inaudible through her sobs; she had sunk down by her aunt's side, her head bowed upon the arm of the chair.

"There, there child; do not weep," the tears coursing down her own withered cheeks the while she stroked her head. "Go then, go and tell your uncle that you are safe. He has cast so much blame upon me."

Helen saw that her aunt's mind was beginning to wander, and feared to excite her more. She wrapped the shawls more closely around her, settled her pillows gently, watching silently for some time until she dropped asleep. Then she crept from the room to seek the servant, to whom she ex- plained in few words that she had but lately heard of her aunt's illness, and wished to help in nursing her if room could be made in the cottage. It was arranged that she should have a couch in her aunt's room, which was quite according to her wish that she might be always near her, and thus quietly passed the first night of her return.

But the morrow was to show a far dif- ferent state of things, for during the morning the girl came to her saying that she had been told who Miss Margrave was, and didn't choose "to take orders from the likes of her," that she had better get some one whose character was not of such value to herself, but as for her she didn't mean to stop another hour.

This was indeed a blow, and it was not the only one; for in the course of the day neigh- bours dropped in at different times, ostensibly to enquire after the poor old lady, but really to stare cruelly at Helen, show her the cold shoulder, or else totally to ignore her

presence.

This went on for two or three days; Helen knew that as she had sown so she must reap, but the experience was bitter indeed.

She had written to Mrs. Newbury directly upon the servant leaving, asking that Mar- guerite might be sent to her. On the third day of Helen's misery her aunt seemed much better, talking quite rationally.

Lady Reeves called, whom Helen had often seen as a guest at her uncle's house; she sailed past Helen and went up to Mrs. Mar- grave, addressing her with a patronising air as any Lady Bountiful might do to some poor old woman subsisting on her charity, but Mrs. Margrave did not seem to see it thought Helen. How great indeed the change!

"Look," said her aunt, "I am happy in regaining my long lost child."

Lady Reeves gazed at Helen coldly from

head to foot, shrugging her shoulders, then looked away.

Helen bit her lips and turned to the window to see a carriage at that moment stop at the gate; she knew well the arms and livery of the Onslow family.

Alighting from it was Mrs. Newbury, fol- lowed by Marguerite. Helen flew out to meet her.

"My dear girl, how white and ill you look!" Helen told her who was inside. The cause of the servants leaving she had confessed in her letter. "Ah! I see—leave it all to me."

"My dear Mrs. Newbury," said Lady Reeves, "who would have thought to see you to-day. This is indeed a pleasurable surprise after your long absence."

"And for me also Lady Reeves; I am fortunate. I came to look after Miss Mar- grave, She must not be allowed to overtax her strength. I have brought your maid dear," she said to Helen, "also a message from Lord Onslow in answer to yours. He hopes it may not be very long before you redeem your promise to visit him. I have also a project to tell you of. I cannot learn to live so far away from you after so long a friendship as ours has been; but of that by-and-by.

"Oh, you must not rob me of my dear niece now that I have found her. I cannot

part with her again," whined Mrs. Margrave.

"No, no, dear aunt, I would not leave you on any consideration."

"Indeed, Mrs. Margrave," said Mrs. New- bury, "that is far from my thoughts."

Two other ladies came in at this time, prompted no doubt by curiosity, seeing Lord Onslow's carriage waiting at the gate—a carriage so well known in the neighbourhood.

When Lady Reeves was about to take leave she turned to Helen, and addressing her for the first time, said—"I could not possibly divine Miss Margrave that during your long and mysterious absence you should have been hidden so quietly and safely with our dear friend Mrs. Newbury. You must forgive the world for judging from appearances —it has nothing else for evidence you know." When the ladies were all gone, leaving the two friends together, Helen, for a little while, quite gave way; the pain of the last few days and this sudden turn of the tide was almost too much for her.

Mrs. Newbury dismissed the carriage, and determined to stay at least until the next day with Helen, and then she told her pro- ject, or rather her uncle's. He had felt so much the dreariness of being so much alone, that he had prevailed upon his niece to give up her own house and make her abode with him, and begged her to use her influence with Miss Margrave to join her, and bring her aunt, where she could pay her every atten- tion. There were whole suites of rooms at their service, and he added that though the comfort and the benefit would really be his, he thought that it would be pleasant for the ladies to be together.

Mrs. Newbury had so entirely enlisted Lord Onslow's sympathies with, and interest in, Helen and her affairs, drawing so favourable

and graphic a description of her mental quali- ties, that he became quite anxious for the

proposition of this scheme, and hoped that Miss Margrave would agree to it. What could Helen say—especially when her aunt made no objection to move away

from Scoss.