Chapter 160105231

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Chapter NumberIV
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article160105231
Full Date1884-12-27
Page Number5
Corrections55
Word Count2640
IllustratedN
Last Corrected2018-03-04
Newspaper TitleAdelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904)
Trove TitleSowing the Wind
article text

CHAPTER IV.

It was now a year since her flight. Helen had grown taller, and altogether more womanly. The contour oi her face was even altered to a casual observer through the com- plete change in wearing her hair. She brushed it much more off her forehead than she had done when at home, and instead of long waves over her shoulders she now gathered it into a massive roll, showing to advantage her intellectual face and finely formed head.

All this time she had determinedly kept up her music practice. With unwearied zeal she would persevere over really difficult passages until she completely mastered them, and thus she began to make herself quite pro- ficient. The Hodges being early risers, and always busily occupied during the morning hours in the farthest parts of the house, she could do this without annoying them.

Her pecuniary resources had not diminished.

Miss Hodge had brought her two or three more music pupils, and she was still em- ployed at the fancy shop. Helen had been

sent for to perform at Mr. Selby's house more than once, and this had led to other en- gagements of the same kind.

"Pardon, Mademoiselle, would you honour me with a pianoforte accompaniment to my violin?"

"What is it, Monsieur? An overture? I do not think Ihave seen it."

"Possibly not, Mademoiselle, it is quite new, but with your skill and knowledge of music, you will, I am sure, surmount all leetle deeficulties."

"You flatter me, Monsieur, but I will do my best."

This conversation occurred at a private concert at one of the most fashion- able houses, and amongst the élite of of Middlebury. The overture went fairly well, and other pieces also still more success- fully, and Monsieur was delighted at meeting a pianiste who rendered and expressed each passage with such true feeling.

Monsieur Dubois was a famed violinist, to whom Helen well remembered listening at a grand concert in Scoss when accompanied by her Aunt and Arnold Disney. Later in the evening he introduced his wife.

"Madame—this lady—Mees Montaine— to whom alone I am indebted for my great success this evening," bowing and laying his hand upon his heart.

"Ah certainement, if you could perform as her you should make my fortune"

A few days after this an elegant carriage stopped at Mrs. Hodge's door, and a card was brought to Helen bearing the name of Madame Dubois. Going downstairs she fonnd that lady waiting for her in the little sitting-room. After warmly shaking hands, Madame, with the greatest ease imaginable, glided into the object of her visit.

Monsieur, her husband, she told Helen, had been so much charmed—they had both been enchanted by Mademoiselle's exquisite performance on the pianoforte; they had talked incessantly of nothing else—was it not such a sad pity that Mademoiselle should be

hidden — should, be lost in obscurity? Would she not join her talent to that of Monsieur Dubois? They were about to travel on the Continent, their fame would be

far spread—would she not say "Yes?" All

her expenses should be paid, and she could

gain quite a dot for herself besides.

"Really, Madame, you overwhelm me, you are so exceedingly flattering. I fear, that under such influence I might become insuf- ferably conceited," said Helen laughing; "but, truly, whatever success you are pleased to think I gained that evening was through accompanying Monsieur Dubois, whose music inspired me to achievements beyond myself —but to accept your offer—I do not know what to say—I cannot collect my ideas in so short a time to give you a final answer now."

"Ah, your very indecision gives me hope, ma chère mademoiselle. Ah! if you do con- sent to come, how delightful it will be to travel with you! We will show you such palaces! such cathedrals! such scenes! you

will be entranced."

"You are certainly tempting me—are you from Paris, Madame?"

"No; my husband is a Parisian; I come from Berne—ah! dear, lovely Suisse! I will show it you. I will show you my birthplace. We will climb the Alps together. Ah! vraiment,' la bells France!' mais la Suisse

c'est ravissante!"

Helen felt quite drawn towards this warm hearted, enthusiastic little lady, and they parted with the assurance that an answer should be given in a day or two.

Helen sat in the quiet of her own room in a reverie. The scheme was delightful, most de- lightful to a girl of her ardent disposition; besides which, this engagement would ensure her means far beyond her own requirements,

setting her mind at rest for some time to

come.

But—interpenetrating every other thought, was the memory of one dear face—how could she quit the very land in which he lived and breathed—convey herself still further from him than ever? But they were to return in two years, and perhaps then, who knew? she might be able to present herself with a fame established—a name untarnished. Yes, this

latter at least should be the case. But oh, for some sign ere she wandered away to an- other sky and to other scenes!

These conflicting thoughts distracted her until the end of the second day, when she decided to accept the offer, and accordingly

wrote to that effect.

That once done, she began directly to think of the preliminary arrangements that must be made, and endeavoured to dismiss all troublous thoughts, but it was impossible to banish one—the question "How he is thinking of me?" interlaced every other feeling in her mind. It was strange that this step, which was only one more onward in the course she had taken, should cause her so much more anxious thought and perplexity than the first

plunge which had involved all that followed —yet so it was. It may be and probably was that the age she had gained since leaving her home should not be reckoned by the mere lapse of time, that the days and weeks and months of almost oppressive loneliness through which she had passed had not been

without their lessons. The anxiety she had at times felt about ways and means, the ap-

palling fear of low company into which she

might drift if totally without money had shown her just that which was the one right thing for her to see—the fearful risks and dangers she had incurred. Also maturer re- flection and wider experience had shown her that she had compromised the very character she was so anxious to keep unspotted, that even if she would return it was but too probable that she could not be received again into the society she had left—society of which Arnold was a member. When this

light broke upon her with all its force, for a moment she felt almost crushed. Only for a moment—elastic in spirit, strong in the in- tegrity of her motive, she would not suffer herself to be either prostrated or unnerved.

Her note to Madame Dubois bronght that lady to her without delay.

"Ah! ma chère amie, you are content to come with us—my husband and me. We are delighted. Now step into the carriage, and

we can drive while we chat over all the arrangements."

And so they did. Helen enjoyed a pleasant drive round Middlebury, interspersed with shopping.

"And when will you come? I shall be restless until you are domiciled with us. To-morrow? Can you come to-morrow?"

"Scarcely to-morrow, Madame. The woman with whom I have lived so long has been very kind to me. I have promised to give her one evening before leaving. I would not hurt her feelings."

"Ah, but you are kind-hearted. Mademoi- selle. I am the more charmed with you. We are also intending to invite our friends to a musioal soiree, and I should so much wish you to be under my wing before that, so that you may practise with my husband, and besides I should have the delightful pleasure of helping to make your toilette and present- ing you. Ah, you will shine! You will be a star, ma belle amie."

So before they parted the final arrange- ments were made, and a promise given from Madame to call again to-morrow for a drive. Madame most considerately had insisted upon Helen taking a small purse for all necessary purchases.

The next evening she had promised to the Hodges. So taking some handsome presents for mother and daughter Helen joined them downstairs, was presented to "Mr. Edwards" by Miss Hodge, bashful and blushing, and to Mr. Edward's sister, each tendering a hand, considering, no doubt, that anything less would be a great breach of etiquette.

William Hodge, who since Helen had last seen him had sought consolation in the affec- tion of Miss Edwards, appeared to vacillate this evening between the old love and the new, and Helen had the honour of the greater part oi his attentions, paid in most ungraceful attempts to anticipate every wish, and ending in confusion at his own awkward-

ness.

Miss Edwards feeling snubbed and slighted

sulked in a corner. Helen saw all this without appearing to do so, pitying one while she felt contempt for the other. She went over to the corner where sat the aggrieved damsel and endeavoured to draw her into conversation, to which Miss Edwards re-

sponded with but a "No," or "Yes," and that in no very pleasant way; but finding Helen really meant to be civil she conde- scended to become more amiable, allowing herself to be drawn into quite a lively con- versation, settling the merits of different kinds of wool and bobbins for fancy work. Really a pretty girl though rather pale, she looked to greater advantage with the glow upon her face produced by the consciousness of her uncertain lover's attention being speci- ally drawn that way; for William Hodge,

like many persons whose estimate of others

is much influenced by the opinion of the world, found the merits of his fiancée rise ma- terially under Helen's notice; and so, thanks to Helen's tact and real goodness of heart, the evening passed far more pleasantly than it might have done.

The next morning Helen took leave of her little room which had witnessed all the hopes and fears, the struggles and bitter- ness which her experience of the wide world had brought her, upon whose tender mercies she had by her own voluntary act thrown herself.

She knew that she had been very fortunate in the refuge this home had been to her. She knew not to whom or to what her thanks were due, but supposed that her success so

far was owing to some luck or chance, yet felt that she had much to be thankful for.

Helen took a really affectionate farewell of Mrs. Hodge, who had in so many ways shown a most motherly interest in her; and with many expressions of regret and good wishes she was driven away from that house and street in Madame's little pony carriage, by the side of that lady, who welcomed her to the room occupied by herself and Monsieur, in the most fashionable part of the town.

The place Helen seemed now appointed to fill presented itself very pleasantly to her. Monsieur, though requiring her to practise with him many hours during each day, was always most considerate and courteous. Loving the art, as Helen did, the hours so spent were never tedious; besides, the great desire she had to excel and to profit as much as possible by his great talent urged her to every exertion.

Madame also seemed to consider Helen's companionship a boon to herself. While Helen, on her side, much enjoyed Madame's lively conversation, especially when by them- selves, for in Monsieur's presence Madame always appeared to fade into nothing—often annihilated by a snub.

Awaiting the guests on the evening fixed

for the soirée Monsieur and Madame Dubois certainly felt they might be proud to present Helen. Exceedingly handsome and elegant she looked with that air of good breeding which always distinguished her, dressed in the most becoming costume which Madame, with her good taste, had helped in selecting.

"Does she not look charming in the cos- tume she takes with her this evening?" said

Madame aside to Monsieur.

"You mean to say wear; you should say she wears this evening. When shall you be accustomed to the English language?" snapped her husband. The poor little lady shrank into herself.

The next morning they were to start upon their journey, and several "last things" had to be seen about and packed. Madame fluttered nervously amid her packages, being snubbed as usual; Monsieur fussy, but to Miss Montaine elaborately polite.

Helen sat down at last after helping as much as possible and listlessly took up the Times, associating itself, as it did, in her mind with her uncle's breakfast table, where she had last seen it. It was folded, showing the advertisements outside, when "Missing Friends" met her eye. She started trans- fixed. How thankful she felt that she was

alone, for her face flushed, then paled to almost deadly whiteness, and the words swam before her. There was her monogram, unmis- takable to her; the initials of her own name, Helen Beatrice Margrave, with the exact turn and mingling of each letter as Arnold himself had so cleverly designed them; then

followed the words, "Pray tell me where you are. Give me the power to save you.— A.D."

At that moment she heard her name called. Quickly cutting the slip of paper out with her penknife she shut it in her locket, then with an effort regaining her presence of mind

she rejoined the travelling party. There was no time to lose for the next train to London, therefore they drove away directly to the

railway station, where trucks of luggage, porters, and passengers were mingled in bewildering confusion.

Monsieur took the greatest care of Helen, anxious to obtain a comfortable seat for her.

"Oh, yes; madame is here. Madame is paying the cabman." This was in answer to Helen's enquiry. Just then a shout arose, "Look out there! look out!" and a lady was helped up almost from under the wheels of a heavy truck. The lady proved to be Madame Dubois, whose duty her husband appeared to consider it was to see after the luggage. Fortunately, however, she was not hurt, and soon took her seat beside Helen.

"How came you to be so stupid, Madame?" were the first words of Monsieur. "You are quite a goose !"

Poor Madame, still trembling from her fright, tried to excuse herself. Helen felt indignant, and expressed her concern and sympathy.

"Oh! Mademoiselle, do not waste your sympathy; you will soon accustom yourself to Madame's little follies."

"But I feel that I have been selfishly allowing Madame to wade through all manner of difficulties alone," said Helen, "when I should have been by her side to help her."

"Indeed, indeed. Miss Montaine, do not distress yourself Madame is not une petite. She is quite able to manage all such small affairs herself."

At this moment the train started, and Helen was glad to relapse into silence, that she might dwell upon the most absorbingly interesting incident of the morning. The most prominent feeling in her heart was, "He has not dismissed me from his thoughts, he is even seeking for me with interest and anxiety." But the glow of joy at her heart was damped by profound regret at the pain she was evidently causing him.