|Newspaper Title||Adelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904)|
|Trove Title||Sowing the Wind|
They arrived in London that evening, end soon reached a fashionable hotel, where Helen was glad to retire early to her own room, excusing herself under the plea of
headache and weariness. She felt very weary in body in mind—distressed by conflicting feelings.
On the eve of her leaving England to wander yet further from Arnold this message had come to her, almost tempting her to give up all her great plans and return to him at once; but the next minute she despised her- self for the thought. To return now would be to expose herself to greater contempt and more merited than she had suffered before. No; she would go on in the path she had chosen. But she would write to him; she would answer his loving appeal; she would assure him of her safty as far as she could do. Following this determination with immediate action she unlocked her trunk, took out her writing-case, and began to write—
"Beloved Arnold." After looking at those words for some minutes she tore up the paper, saying sadly to herself—
"No; I have by my own act broken that tie, and cannot resume it at will." Then she relapsed into silent thought, with an expres- sion of suffering upon her face. Presently, taking up her pen again, she wrote—
"I have seen your message only to-day, and it is with pain that I write refusing to return to you; but as I left my aunt that I might keep my own self-respect, I cannot possibly return for the same reason. There is no cause to fear for me—I am earning my own bread honestly and respectably, you think I am rash? Perhaps I was in the first instance, but the step once taken cannot be retraced, neither have I the wish to retrace it; for until I can claim as my own right the position once afforded me under great protest and with many tannts, I will live and die in obscurity. It will be quite use- less to search for me, for when you re- ceive this letter I shall have left England. The anxiety that your message expresses fills me with the deepest regret and grief to have caused you pain, but I have no longer any claim upon your love, or even upon your thoughts, therefore may neither address you nor subscribe myself in the old affectionate terms, although the memory of you will never fade from the heart of HELEN B. MARGRAVE."
Helen rose early the next morning, and, enquiring for the nearest pillar, walked out and posted the letter herself. That day was spent in shopping for Madame, whose re- quirements always appeared innumerable. Helen accompanied her, enjoying the new scenes, feeling secure from recognition in the great change that age and growth had made in her; but her heart almost stood still at one time when passing through crowds on a railway platform she heard her uncle's well-
Not daring to tun her head, she kept straight on, and in another moment he had passed her and entered the same train as she did, but fortunately not the same com- partment. She feared that Madame might observe her trembling, and quickly took her seat, apparently much absorbed in the memo- randa on her tablet. She saw him no more, but felt thankful that to-morrow they should start for Southampton.
"Do not go down into the cabin, my dear young lady; you will be so much better where you are on deck. Ah oui, I know that Madame has gone below; it was impos- sible to persuade her to remain."
Helen knew that no persuasion had been used, nor the slightest interest shown in Madame's proceedings.
"Would it not be better," Monsieur went
on, appealing to Major Onslow and his sister,
"for Mademoiselle to remain here?" So Helen sat down again, caring little but to be undis- turbed, and hours later found her still sitting there, ill and wretched, when some one gently placed a cloak around her. She tried to raise her head to thank the friend, when she heard Monsieur say, "Extremely obliged, but I would not for worlds impose upon your time and attention on behalf of this lady when those of your own party must be more than sufficient for your thoughtful
Helen felt without seeing the witherlngly polite and frigid bow which accompanied this, and knew that the gentleman addressed was Major Onslow, whom she had met once or twice with his sister Mrs. Newbury at
The next morning Helen awoke from a sound sleep into which she had fallen by the bumping of the vessel and the shouting of sailors, and guessed that they were in port. Rising to dress as quickly as her unsteady head and bands would allow, she determined to seek out Madame Dubois, whom she found unable to rise without assistance. Finding an almost distracted stewardess; she bribed her to bring some hot coffee to the poor lady,
and felt pleased afterwards at her success in getting her on deck.
"C'est bien, Madame you are here," from her affectionate husband; "I thought you would never come, have you all your be- longings together? eh! Miss Montaine, I am charmed to see you looking so much better. You are glad that our voyage is over?"
A few minutes later Helen observed Major Onslow assisting Madame to place her hand- basket and wraps in readiness for hasty re- moval, apparently having a soul above re- membering Monsieur's insolence of the last evening.
Free of the packet—having passed the Customs — whirled away by train towards the capital, Helen at last lifted up her eyes in Paris. In Paris! among all its splendours, all its
gaieties, where Monsieur was so entirely at
home, received and welcomed back into the
highest circles, where his wonderful talent had long ago been recognised, where also his birth and belongings gave him the entrée.
Madame was delighted to show Helen all places of interest and beauty, and Helen was dazzled with such new scenes. She accom- panied Madame several mornings to Mass; the magnificent cathedral filled her with awe, and the absorbed silence of many kneeling figures in fervent devotion inspired her with the deepest reverence; and she also knelt by the side of Madame. The morning sun streamed through the richly coloured windows as she glanced upwards—the grandeur of the whole thrilled her through, when at the same moment a slow soft strain of music stole upon her ear - overwhelmed she burst into tears. As they left, Madame
said,"Ah, my child, you will yet come back to
the true Church. The Blessed Mother will never leave such a sweet spirit without the fold."
Brought up though Helen had been in the English Church, taught strictly to follow all its observances, yet still without the stamina of religion in her heart—the probability was that under such enticing influences as those which now surrounded her, she would have drifted into all the grooves of the Romish ritual, and in time come to profess its faith; but allegiance and loyalty to her earthly idol stood her instead of a higher devotion, and the constant habit of her mind, that of sub- mitting all her actions to what might be Arnold's opinion regarding them, kept her firm when somewhat tempted to do "in Rome as Romans did," for she remembered well his strong and well-grounded opinions in favour of his own Church.
As the Sundays came she found that after Mass no more religious service was expected or thought of, but a pleasant drive and a gay concert or some other musical entertainment was the order of the day and evening.
So Helen was glad to accept Mrs. New- bury's warm invitations to her hotel, as that lady had always evinced a most kindly in- terest in Helen, apart from the tie of nation- ality, her mature years and judgment enabling Mrs. Newbury to recognise Helen's gentle birth and breeding, while, through her keen discernment of character, Helen's rose in her estimation, as she noted how superior she was to all small arts of coquetry, and how totally free from all self-consciousness, al- though Helen's talent, and also her personal appearance, certainly gave her claim to the admiration she often elicited.
Mrs. Newbury also felt some curiosity re- garding Helen's antecedents, when becoming aware of the position in which she stood to Monsieur and Madame Dubois, and was interested to know the possible circumstances which could have brought such a girl into a position apparently so otherwise homeless and friendless.
Mrs. Newbury could never overcome a certain degree of dislike to Monsieur, yet was never able to define the cause. She felt satis- fied that Helen led a moderately happy life with them, yet remarked to herself that Madame always wore a certain air of depres- sion, if not unhappiness.
"No," replied Helen to Mrs. Newbury, one day in conversation, "I cannot remember my father and mother at all. I can only re- member being at a farmhouse In Devonshire, with an old man and his wife, who had the care of me until I was about seven years old, when I was suddenly sent for by my uncle and aunt, and I know very little about my parents, for much as I often wished to ask all manner of questions concerning them, my aunt could never speak upon the subject with any degree of patience, but appeared to cherish a great feeling of animosity towards them, especially to my mother, who, she said, had enticed my father into a foolish marriage, afterwards falling into very delicate health and dying before I was quite quite two years old. My father, holding a commission in the army, fell in an engagement in the Kafir war."
"On which side are you related to your
uncle and aunt?"
"My father was my uncle's brother."
"Then they have the same name as your- self?"
"Yes, the same," said Helen, accepting the subterfuge. "Your education has been
well cared for."
"My education began early at the very best school that could be found for me, even when with the old people in Devonshire, and at my uncle's house governesses and masters were always provided, for which, however, I do not think that I was entirely chargeable to him, but fancy that some funds were set apart for the purpose."
"Your uncle and aunt are, of course, inte- rested in knowing where you are, and what you are doing? Although, as you say, you have parted with them in some anger."
"We do not keep up a constant corre- spondence, and I would rather that they were ignorant of all the difficulties I may en- counter until they are obliged to acknow- ledge by-and-by my successful efforts for in- dependence."
I certainly admire your spirit of indepen- dence, and, judging from what I know of you, I should quite suppose that you must have suffered hard bondage indeed before you would leave the security of your uncle's home."
"It was so indeed; yet not so much the hard bondage I suffered as the consciousness of utter failure in meeting my aunt's expecta- tions, and the weight of obligation and debt that I could never repay."
" But surely affection and pity, and the tie of blood relationship should in a measure have prevented each a deep sense of obliga tion in a friendless orphan ? Yet to a sensi tive mind I can. imagine how painful the life muBt have been; your motherless condi tion strikes a chord of sympathy in my heart, as I also was an orphan, although my loss was supplied as fully as it well could be; but, if you will suffer an old woman's homily, I think it wonld have been better bad you borne yet longer with the troubles of the home that seemed appointed you, when some path might have opened before you— some opportunity have arisen for release without relinquishing your position or sepa rating you from your friends."
"Are we not justified," replied Helen, "in acting for ourselves according to the best of our judgment? I could not live on from day to day m such a false position."
"Not fake, my dear Miss Montaine; that' position could not possibly be false in which yon had been placed not only by no act of yonr own, but at a time when yon were too yonng to have a voice in the matter. When you were oid enough to think for yourself you were not only perfectly justified m using your own judgment, but it was quite right that you should do all in your power in a proper way to alter your position. But it is always dangerous to take the initiative in choosing our own path. Finding yourself, then, evidently placed as you were by God, it was almost like throwing off His guidance to cast yourself upon a world of which you knew nothing. The troubles you would meet with there would be of your own seeking, but the troubles you were trying to escape were of His own appointing."
"Oh, but it was unendurable the life I led."
" It is our own impatience, my dear young friend, that makes our troubles appear greater than we can bear. Now, can we tell what relief even one more day of patient waiting may bring? 1 may,perhaps, shock you, but it la no less true—it is this very im patience under suffering which drives many to despair and a rash death."
A pause here ensued. Then Helen said— "1 must acknowledge that had 1 known then as much as I have since learned, I should not have risked such a step, hut, having taken it, must abide by the conse quences. 1 am determined to battle with the difficulties of my path, and besides, the age and experience that every day gives to me makes that path all the less difficult."
Mrs. Newbury made no answer, but as Helen was gazing abstractedly out of the window she regarded her earnestly, with an expression of mingled admiration and pity.
" Here is Major Onslow's carriage," Helen remarked after a few minutes. Again Mrs.
Newbury raised her eyes to her face, this time with an expression of scrutiny, though Helen was unconscious of either glance.
" I am fortunate," eaid the Major, meet ing Helen with a glow of satisfaction and pleasure. "I have been execrating every obstacle that has prevented my coming home sooner, fearing to meet with my UBual fate of missing you. Will you come for a drive?" addressing both ladieB.
"Oh, yes, we shall be ready directly," said Mrs. Newbury.
" And if you will leave me at the hotel I shall be at home in good time," said Helen.
"May we call for you to-morrow for a drive ?" asked the Major, as they were sepa rating.
" Thanks; bnt at what hour ?" . . .
" Oh, yes; at S. I shall have finished prac tising, and so long as I am back early as we are bound for Versailles in the evening, I shall be delighted to join you."
" We can be back .by t.5," said Mrs. New bery.
" That will do nicely, and will he so very pleasant. Good-by."
" Oh, Mary! she does not care for me one bit," said the Major, after Helen had left
" I do not appear to make the slightest im pression upon her, and there is no artifice in her composition. She is so calm, composed, and unaffected. What gloriously speaking eyes she has thongh! I can just fancy how tney wonld beam on the lucky fellow. Now, don't laugh at me."
" No, I am not laughing at you at all, Edgar. I only wish you could make her think of you. for I have taken a wonderful fancy to ner, answered Mrs. Newbury.
Going into the hotel, Helen met Monsieur on the stairs.
" Eh 1 Miss Montaine. I—we—Madame has been ennuyd for you; and had you per mitted me I would have been honoured by
driving you home rather than you should
travel alone in a cab at evening.
" It is broad daylight, Monsieur, and I re turned in Major Onslow's carriage."
Just for one instant a fierce gleam shone in his eyes; then he smilingly replied—
" Eh bien! That is well. I am indebted
to the Major."
When alone, Helen recalled to her mind with some perplexity that flitting expression on Monsieur's face, for she had once or twice before noted the same.