Chapter 160152352

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Chapter NumberII
Chapter TitleAN UNEXPECTED MEETING
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article160152352
Full Date1881-12-24
Page Number34
Corrections0
Word Count3363
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleAdelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904)
Trove TitleHow I Pawned My Opals
article text

OHAPXKR n.

AM MMWHCIMD MOMTPTO.

I had been joet four weeke in town, when to my amazement one afternoon I saddenlymet 1 Dick Fitzgibbon in Elizabeth-* twet., I had

. been writing letter* all , the forenoon to my . parent* and Steele, and as. the mail tna to oloie at £ I went oat at d to put them." Hester . and. Loniie were constantly at apmeclass or attending one of a course of University Ieptores, *o that I had freqnently .togo oatalone. Hot . -that I minded—whatgiri bred in the bosh does ?

.But Mr*. Harrowby bid at: first made a point of . mynotgolngthrough thettreets uusoopmpanied.

Bo on a few occasions Blanche Mand.the under . booMtpafd, decked in oa.mach finery a* she . oculd possibly smuggle on her per*on, had gone \ cut with me, and bestowed moetzflable bows on 'direr* postmen, bakers, and policemen, who . had returned the salutation with beqign grins,

: and in some instanoesoometo a dead pause—no idonbtwith the objeot of giving " Blanche Hand" an opportunity of introducing them to lur/Kctuf- It was too absnrd—and of ooorsein Sihart time 2 dispensed with aucha grotesque imitation of proteetion. It w*e the day after

• Oup day—that great Toumanhop festival at j ? which Dran Bwift'* aatire is literally realized in i Melbourne—when the horse is the proud msater - of the sitnation, when.he.reeeive* the homage of

ftverisb thousands, and ia paramount injm many hearts, load on to many lip*. The street* of

course were much more crowded than ordinarily, and the contrast between them and the leisurely semi-deserted thoroughfares of - Hamlington gave me a keen enjoyment of the - spectacle. At the Post-Offioe there wasa perfect

cram, so that it was a matter of time to get my letter* posted. After accomplishing this feat I . tamed homeward, amusing myself with specu

lating about the divers types of faces I met. • There mi a hawk-eyed Jew whose Semitio nose

would of itself bsve traced his lineage straight back to Abraham; his quick dark eyes seemed - to search in the multitude round him for the

Gentile* who were so ready to beoome the debtors of his race; jostling on his heel* cams ? the well-dressed, somewhat reoklees looking

yoang zqulttcr, who habitually haunts town when raoM are on, and who as habitually oomes downs ."cropper" before he return to bis pastoral possession* in the heart of the placid solemn woods; beside him goes harrying on a

; thick-lipped, heavy-jawed man with a flushed ;

faoe and an evil look in his eyes—a man who has long fed on the huki that the swine did eat; on the opposite side is a wan-looking girl in a shabby dress, carrying a portfolio of musio. I recognise in her one of the yoluntary martyrs . who advertise .to give musio lessons for one

guinea a quarter; the Is. harrying on to the ' dwelling of some small -shopkeeper or artisan,

whose daughters are taught to draw vfllanous treee and impossible bridges, to play inferior marie on a had piano, and to consider them . selves entitled to be styled " ladies" in conse . queues of these superlative accomplishments; . and here is a happy tamily from the country of

three sons andfonr daughters, youthfnl oopies ! of their treble-chinned riannts, who hive that

look of doll content which is characteristic ot i j>«opIe whose mental oat-look is immovably

tationsry—blooked up for all their lives by an

all-sufficing answer to the question—WhatpfiaU we eat, andwhat shall we drink.indwhere withal •hell we be clothed.? . And in oontrsst to this numrrotu badly comes s tolitarjlookiug young nun with a painfully depressed aspect-. Be U distinctly gentlemanlike, andJJwre.isimmetbing in hisqeit.and-the cakof his garments, {tad. Jjbe freshnctsof his complexion, which mwfcs.him bj a Dew arrival. : Has he spent ah his money ob the passage out, and Already focnd thatfo?a p unties* man who eannot dig and is Ashamed to beg the jstrqggle for existence in this large over-populated city of; the" .underworld ? is as dire as intbepld country ? And who la this with.the white iace, nod the dowooast loch? Another: young man witha most unhappy oonntenSnce! It .will serve to show;the.absolute change In Dick's face when ! say that for ope brief instant I did not know him. . As for blip, he did not notice me ;I doubt if he really .saw anything? that was round him. , A sickening feeling of Apprehension;—a dread of some evil inihed through my mind. Be would have passed me in the crowd .but I hurried .up to him andtouched his arm. He.turned ronnd with a qutakstait. . .

* Ob, Nellie," he said,.and. bis voloe was as much changed as the expression of his faoe. . It was hard and metallic, with all the jovial care less musio of yonth and high spirits gone out

Of ik .

** Dick, you are surely Ul," I said, lookiog into his face anxiously.

•No, that is I*m apt very well," he Answered slowly. ...He .turned at>d walked .up Qcllins-s treet with me, and I waitedforhimto ?peak, tp tell .me, what: ailed him. .$at he

volunteered no explanation ; he absolutely, began .

to say something abont.the weather.:

, "Oh, Dick what do I care lor the weather ? Tell ne about yourself. When did you oome to town? Whydidn't y on findmeout?"

: "I only came the day before yesterday," he answered, "and—the fact is, Nell, I've got into a horrible scrape, and there's no use intelling yon abont it, poor dear; it will only make yon

fret"

. " But, Diok. ril (ret all the more^if ypn don't tell me. The look of y onr face la aa bad at any thing yon oan toll me. Bare yon—resigned your place in the Bank ?*

"No; Trereceived my promotion at last,.and hare been sent Into town. Tec, just fancy how jolly we would have been only for this.. Well, of oonrsr, I most tell yon now, Nell.. I arrived in town, as I told yon, on the Sid, the very even ing before Onp day. On Qneen'e Wharf, just aa I .landed, who ahonld I meet but Harry Quia.

He was a shipmate of mine, and we were both, very glad to meet again. He eame. out to a .bachelor,, ancle, a rioh.old squatter m.':the JUverina District.. He had come into 'town to dispose of a mpb of oattle> and see tosome

other atation business. I went with him that night to the hotel at wbioh he stayed, and nezt deywe went bo the xmm together.;' He intro duced me to some of his friends, and ail went right enough. I betted alittle, as,.every-one else did, bat nothing to rpeak of. Harry hadto leavo that evening, and bajff jan hoar before .he went he asked me If I . would oblige hlmby taking charge of £200 and depositing it for him next morning in the Bank—the National—you know, my own Bank, as he did, not .Want to travel with so much money on him,, though, probably, he would draw it in a few days.as he was going to buy some stud rams on his way back for his nncle. I ought to have placed it in the Bank yesterday, but I was not in town in time," he eaid, " Of course, I took charge of the money, and"-—

"Dick, yon have lost it," I arid quickly,.at Dick paused,

"Well, Neil.it would be easy for me to say I lost it," returned Diok in a profoundly dejected tone, "bat, .then, I know that Jam miserably to blame."

"Bnt surely,. Dick— oh, no." . 1 was not so ignorant, of masculine human nature aa to be nnaware that men—and young men especially— will sometimes cveratop the bounds of modera tion, hot I could approach the subject only 'In

W

. " Well, not quite," aniwered Diok, tovrbom the panses were eloquent," bnt jnst that'stage when one 'feels as mirthful as a harp In the handacf an angel far Paradise without the least logical reason in the world. Ob, Nell, I'm afraid yon 11 think, me a worthless beast: but it wee an ezolHng, kind of a day, and a fellow takes a sip of this and.of that, and then I was with a lot more yonug fellows in a billiard-room, till some one proposed'we ahonld go to the theatre, I went tind put on another coat, and left my pooketbook in the one l pat off. This morning' I woke 'up at fl' o'dlook,

dreaming I had lost Harry (join's money.; I. got up at ones, and went to. aearoh my pookets, and fonnd the pocketbookwasreally gone !"

" Oh Diok, how dreadful, what will you do ?" "The first thing I did was to tell the land lord, bnt the only reenlt was a. surprising amount of profanity, bnt he finally pnt the matter Into the hands of the deteotives. However, I don't expect ever to see the money again. When a man makes sheh a.glorions fool of himself, he has no right to expect the interposition of Pro vidence in bis fayonr. In the meantime a cheque may oome in from Harry Qnin at any moment. Of course, if I knew whereabouts he

were I would not have the slightest hesitation' in writing and telling him. He would give me time to refund the moqey."

"Bat, Diok, why don't yon tell the Manager

all about it?"

" Because, my dear girl, to much embezzle

ment and money sharping of all sorts goes on at1 raoe time among young men in town,thateonfess ing to anymoney trouble is like taking onta patent for a bad character. And I'm quite a stranger here, with spy way to ,make. As ill-luck would have it, Frank Hamilton,~whocould atonoe help, me through this scrape, is ill of t fever. All the money I have in the world is £80."

We had almost reached the gate opposite to the Harrowbys' big handsome house in Fitzroj-terraca. Some dim purpose was form ing in the back of my head to help Diok, what I oonld hardly say, as I knew that my pocket-' money , in all eohid not be more than £35.

"Nell, I'm almost sorry I met yon,'you look . so troubled and miserable,*' said Diok, as we' stood by the gate.

" No, dent say that, Dick. 1 ean, I must do something. Will yon meet me near here to morrow about 3 o'clock?" ' '

f but,ilell, don't uk your friends for., money for . me,'" ' said Dick, flash-" lag op painfully.;' "don't tell tbem iui^thi'ig about.thia.n. , *

; •'Oh, no, Dick, ! don't mean to," I answered,' wi th an inward, shadier at .the bare thoaght df telling Mrp.'iJarjroffby pfmy perpleitty had Dick's 4K»hhler'., I mold', feel the ':cklrri,: astonished gaze.of bey pale,'. prominent .eyes riveted on my face as she asked me: —" And' pray who ia this yoang man Jwhomyoa half Pick?" . And If then and there! told bet that'

he was to ha engaged to Bess when their pirbptf

gave their oonsent she would hare regardod 'me in the light of one of the evils that threaten the' stability ofsociety. ? .

As eoopaal got to my own room ! turned- out my parse, and found it contained,five poahds in' notes, two half sovereigns, end faome ellver ; I then took pockefcbook out of thereto esses ot my .trunk and aubjeeted it to a rigid scrutiny; When going away my father had given me my half,yearly allowance on a maoh more liberal scale than ordinarily, and I ain sorry to say that I bad in oonseqaencebought ih6re pretty things to wear of late .than there was any absolute necessity for. ' I .thonght 'oi this with remorse, as I counted sli my tnoney lllie the king in' the tut eery tale. My pocket-book contained a roll of twenty one-pound notes, one 10-pound note, and some change. Bo at that mo ment I had exactly £30 15s. fid. - Then if I lent Dick £85, along with hia £30, there would still be £115 needed to make.op the £200 he had lost. There was a tap at my

door." ' . i.i;

-Ihavetwrtrgbt yona cup of tea, Nail; the tray'had jaab gone ont of the diawlng-room wKen you came In. We. we're wondering -where ion were."

Louise Mt on tbe side of my bed as I tipped

the tea.

' " By-the-w»y,Nell," the said aa she wai going ont," what are yon going; to wear this evening ? Ton know there are tome people eoming to

dinner."

" Oh, anything," I aniwered wearily. If one ie planning to tare a fellow-ereatnre'e life it ia hard to hare one's thought* dlatracted by saoh irrelevant questions. No wonder some women who are anxious about their souls retire into seolnded convents.

" Bnt .that's, jost what yon mosn'l do. Jaok was wondering tbe other day what yon had done with your opals. Wear them to-night with that pale-bine silk of yonrs. Ah, why do yon blush so furiously. Is there amy history oonneoted with your jewels that yon are keeping a secret ?"

" Only tbe old-hiatory that they, were left to me by the meat benevolent of godmothers," I answered, laughing joyously, for the word "opala" had touched the weoret thought that had been slowly developing in one side of my brain. I suppose the want of acientifio preoision in tbia is something .terrible. But how else shall I describe that troubled vague groping after a fugitive thought, which some oboioe allusion all at once makes distinctly luminous ?

In a trioe I had taken out the quaint old oaken casket that pontslhed" the opal necklace,. bequeathed to .ine 'V hoy' godmother. They were of .tbe ,kind cailed noble opals; in their yonth' they had' ieposed in the reoesset of

Simpnka, in Hungary.. Hod long they had beeii journeying among the" children of men it wps. impossible to say "; probably 'more than a century, to jndge by their old-fashioned pavi setting, of plain gold, of that deep yellow which the old ballad writers ,call "the 'red, red gold." My father jbad often laughingly said:—"Well, Nell, yon have always a few hundred pounds between you

and want in that necklace™—a sentiment whloh

had seemeld to me little abort of sacrilege, -so fondly did I love those gleaming gems; whloh seemed to hold in ambush all the tints of sky and flown and rainbow, flashing "And blacking ont suddenly as one looked at them, like meteors' playing at hide-and-seek. It was angoish to think pf parting with my necklace —bnt I need not sell them, I thought; l ean pawn them. All the eonfased memories I- had of pawnshops pointed to the fact", that they were kept by "harpies who thirated for profit and were ready to ery "naught,naught' to the moat preoions heirlooms. But sorely the moit godless pawnbroker alive would advanee at lenat'£l30 on my opals ? X had loved them for their beauty, because they- had In them the bright fiery flams of the carbuncle, the floe relnlgent purple of an amethyst, and a whole sea of the emerald's green glory, while behind all this fitfal brilliancy spread a soft delloious milky-way of bashfal serenity. Now I could have gone on my knees with thankfulness that they were' so costly. The temptation rose strong before me to steal1 ont there and then and hie to one of the numerous pawnshops which I had noticed in going aboat Melbourne. On several occasions I had scandalized Mrs. Harrowby when ont with her by standing before the pawnshop"' windows 'and regarding their contents with undisguised interest. They seemed so lull of pathetio stories—those pledges from the homes and lives of human beings. "Unhappily it was frequently my fate to ehook Mre. Harrowby. Bnt the habit was hereditary; indeed, nothing in our intercourse with eaoh other annoyed me more than a habit she had of saying,"Tour poor father,*' when talking to me of him. I suppose tbe chief cause for this element of chronic compassion was his steady avoidanoe of chnreh.Bolng. During one of his visits to Melbourne at Christmas time, Mrs. Harrowby bad pointedly naked him If he wonld not go to Church—at least on Christmas Day. To whloh my father had replied,"My dear Jane, though I am naturally of an eoonomlo turn of mind, I prefer not to mix up my swearing and praying in a sporting lot, so to speak." This allusion to the Athansslan Creed filled the measure of my father's iniquity in Mrs. Harrowby's mind. Thus it will be seen that she was the last one to whom I oould oonftde any perplexity, and I felt it would not be fair to tell Louise and Hester anything that must be kept a secret from their mother.

It was not a'krge dinner-party—ten in all. The principal guests were Archdeacon Tamtam and his wife. The Arehdeswon was a smiling bhernbio-looklng little mam, in whose month snob themes as sin and sorrow and death seemed like pale traditions of things that oonld have no existence. His wife was large and serene and masterful, always carrying a complex kind of hendbasket containing generally a yard or two

j of coarse fltnnrl to be manufactured Into petti j eoafafor destitute babies. Of course this was I verygobdof the Archdeiconess, but one oonld ! bave wished that the flannel was riot of quite iwohi penitential kind. Indeed, sombbfthi 1 WortbyWoman's most impress! re stories Were

j of the' ingratitude' often displayed by the

recipients of her bounty. «I am - Very poori fotoiniy, bntTatn not going to teaf my baby's eitinofl wltb tkat.n "Yes, my dear,tbUie-Vbre the woman's very words," speaking bfsoiha delinquent with asolemn shake pf her bea^; hnd fben shewould say something abstrusely pious abont people not taking trouble, as it was meant for their good. The ArehdeibOneeshad

e Way pf 'alinding to the Almighty as the Great Disposer of Brents with a oertoln air of patron age, to if din had promoted Him bo the Dlreotor ahipof a Joint-Stock Oompiny. 1 did not hare an opportunity of profiting by herdiscoarse, as John Harrowby had token me in to dinner and monopolized most of my attention.

" What ahbwling swell yon are, Nellie; those opals of yonrs iare real beauties."

This Was the very opening I wished. I tried to speak carelessly as I looked down and answered, " Yfes, they are great pets of'mine. I have often wondered in a vague way what kind of emergency would make me tell them, and if the necessity arose how mnoh I oonld get for them."

"Have yon now? . Fray what loads your thoughts to be sicklied o'er with Mob a pale hoe

of avarice?"

"Avarice do yoacaU it? If you were auoh an ignoramus as I am yon would often find your self conjecturing what..yon could do if yon hadn't a crust to eat and yuur last penny was spent." . ?:

"By Jove, 'what a touching piotnre of misery," returned John, smiling and pulUng.st hit long tawny moustache. „ "I should think that to wear opals so gracefully krone of the best souroes of inoome a yoang lady oonld desire."

"But, joking aside, what do yon think a pawn broker, for instance, would lend me on my necklaoe?"

" Upon my word : you shook me with the meroenary spirit yon display. Well, I suppose a man like Zski Jndah—you know the large

Mont de K6t£ at the corner of street— who does a respectable business in his way, would lend £140 or £150 on it—that is about a fourth of its value." ...

I could not -very well under pretenoe of making conversation ask for.farther particulars regarding the praetioes of pawnbrokers, bat as Ztki Jndah was supposed to have.a respectable business of * its kind," and as I knew where his establishment was situated, I resolved to ,take my .necklaoe to him as early as possible on. the

morrow.