Chapter 160152353

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Chapter NumberIII
Chapter Url
Full Date1881-12-24
Page Number34
Word Count4160
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleAdelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904)
Trove TitleHow I Pawned My Opals
article text



" The children of men are an ungrateful and stiff-necked race. If forty-five days are calm and prosperous, and the forty-sixth day roogh and disastrous, they 'straightway write melan choly histories Of that latt day, and say, ?" Life is a cheat and a burden.". We remember • bat too wellthe honra in ,whiob"3Sme par a maniao aoattoring dost, and life a fury slinging flame;" but we do not:alwaysremeznber ^wlth equal diatinetoea< the halcyon periods in wbioh

no fateful messengers came to tell wathat the Sabeana, the fire of God, the Ohaldeana, and a great wind from the wilderneaa hare utterly destroy edour deareat hopea, all our ohaneea of earthly bapplneea. I always notioe that when essay writera and' motaliata In general decry the human raoeand holdita to profound seorn, it ia invariably on the consoling assumption that they (the writera) are exempt from enoh lamentable shortcomings. I avail myself of inch illustrious examples, and openly

may be,.I at least .ahaO alwaya recollect with thankfulness how Heater and Loniae were ocou pled w ith the higher matht matios, and how provi dentially Mrs. Harrowby went away with the Archdeaeonesa to look after' a woman whose husband had sold the blankets, and beaten the children, and torn up the tracts that had been bestowed on him for his conversion, leaving me absolutely to my own 'devices on that special morning when I wanted to pawn my opals. I. gave them a long fond look when I took them out of their oastet, wondering a little sadly when and how I should reoover them .again. But I drove this melancholy'foreboding awav, wrapped them in tissue paper, and pat them in my sealskin portomonnal. along with the £15 I would lend Pick in case the1 pawnbroker declined to advance £150 on my necklace..

Judah"e Mont de Fidtd was at the end of. a long careworn-looking terrace in one of the principal busineaa streets of Melbourne. The msin- entrance was from this street, bnt there was a. small dingy door at. the aide,' open ing on a rather squalid little pS-streel, and over this small and dingy door was Inscribed the legend * Private!" This was no donbt a thought

fal stroke of diplomacy for toe encouragement of those faltering souls who, Uke myself, went shamefacedly to the plaop. My first impulso was to avail myself of the eonceasfon thus so ki .idly provided. But a nearer view of this door m«de me change my mind. It was a door with an incredible amount of freemasonry abont it. It had originally been drab, bnt mnoh use and little cleaning had told severely on its com plexion. It had a large square pane of glaas let in at the top and hong with a little faded green blind, which sras pinned np at one corner. The aspect of sly craftiness which this imparted to the door is indescribable. It seemed not to wink, bnt to leer with a knowing mookery that was appalling. And withal there was an air of patronising fellowship abon't this door as though it would aay," Oome on, yon young spendthrifts, with your dishonoured oheques and your inter minable drafts on the future. I knew ye of old coming with a watch given you by a fond mother, and your dead father's rings, and the sapphire-cross returned by the broken-hearted girl who waa compelled te take baek her troth. Bring them in, bring them in, gather them into the bosom of Abraham; you will come bask again many a time and oft; but your jewels, when will yon redeem them ?" An uncanny kind of a door deoidedly, and not to be entered lightly. I glanoed furtively up and down the street, fearing the approach of some one I knew. Then I abused myself for an abject slave of Mrs. Grundy, and finally I marched in by the front entrance, trying to look as if transactions witha pawnbroker gave the finishing grace to a young lady'a education. The plaoe sras rather dim; it had wide counters running up two sides. Behind one of them atood a short stout youth with oily ringlets and a guileless smile, whose attention sras engrossed by a thin woman in a draggled dress and a tartan shawl talking most volubly. There were tiro or three others stand ing round, evidently waiting their torn. " Til take my davey on it that yer beat give me back that ring," mid the woman shrilly. " Mind, we

ain't under'JSbrew lawsesic Ihla colorny. It's ?gin the British Oonstitootion to ttke n wooman'e weddin'-ring flqss she gives 'enelf— and that yonll find. Why, yon might u well take my marked lines—nofulwonld ears 'II they^WM bnn>t,* tho'; lkeeple'etn In fim-jinlhg oV myrbeeigown,' .jBoikb,vhe'a,,a heaVy-listed loafer if ever there was ontrbnt'I never could ha* believed hewonld aneakawsy with the ring, and me to .think I'd lostritjwfien was i oat wasiun', my firmer beir^'nothibg tospoak of bnt akin and bripe,tbongb)itrwJie that podgy the day 1 married 'im I sc^roe jponldget it oyer the knuckle. And then: to^come, along and see it as hold as brass shinin'inyottr Winder: Oh yes, I right welli' -Fd'kSow- it/any wheres, not beta* a weddin* ringpaf ill, but3n» only one to be got, as we waslqp tbe Wimrpera a hundred mile from any *ownahip,*ndJerejniab

a fortin' with blaokUgjun*, tral 'pl'andillke A

femyale through it alt", '

At this point of Wri: JliremlahVelt^TiihoB, i door at the baok of the abop was opened) and'» •eeond youth, if possible more guileless'in hie appearance than the first, entered. He gave me a quick scrutinizing look, and- then.oame up* enquiring whether t wished to see 'Mr.iladah. X answered promptly that X did, and he them asked' me to step ttis way, and prededed fne down a loDg ill-lit passage past the "private* entrance to » d Is mall i ttio room a t the end,.into which he nshered me: ; . *.

: " Bit down,' Miss, my father will qpmgjtoyort in a few minntee," he said, and then olosedthe door. How my heart thumped' whfen I jfonnd my self alone in that room: Xt wu dlmly litby' a1 window -which aeemedto beiek oallfeiong. lease to some en terprisingsp idem-that were ari* dentiy making a ,good thing• out -pF it. The only proepeot, it. afforded was a: Jrlgh. blank .wall and .a few.hundredchimneja. The light earns timidly in like a'banhed nreature on' whoee lips - a- '-prioe- ha* been act. Therewss-alarge dttorauetoclt with flguree in relief - in *Uver,.;©u.: a'.dbeolt ground ofebony. quite newi and abini.ogtpbmd* Eng on a^mantelshelf. Ho donbt a pledge iMm aome Impecunious householder. And high abhve the mantelshelf hong a wonderfullybrnstalittlo French eage,gliftontngin bide' andgold.eoutalo inga canary* ona hoopthat ceaselessly swung backwards and forwards. -What made its wing eo frantically withent. ottering ,a single note

And why did those little eyes gutter? ?» nnnatnrslly ? .It was a painted bird in a painted cage. ''What an appalling fancy to' make a sham bird-^a ghastly image of tbe very lncarnation ot life and motion—and set it rotating disinpl)y.ini

a forlorn room I The rightrepelledyet floated yne, end I was still staring at theemaUnbieeleas phantom when the door was opened abruptly,, 'and a.ahort thlok-eet man with* beaked nose, enormous cheeks, and email piercing black eyee,. overhung with long bnshy eyebrows, i e&me in. He bowed and smiled At me encouragingly, has. my heart seemed to sink ..down boots.

"Vot gan 1 do for se young letry?" he . said,, displaying a row of large irregular cttnlvorout looking teeth. ? -y 'l' ??

••van yon—i—yon «na money on jewellery,,

-don't .you P' I gasped, turning hot an d cold by turns. , . . : „ ? > iur ,

MiShe*,shes, on any dines* lie stained, tab bing bis bud* in a gleetal kindof "way. X tremblingly opened my porte mon nil, dnwrsppeds my necklace and banded it-tohim. Bebelllt in hi* fat grimy'hand* and looked at the glow ing iridescent atones witharavenous bind at tok. - • ? 1, • • , , ?? (. . • ,;t,

"Zbn vant bow moaohj^ be naked, winning, my faoe: with his suspicions lit tie eye*. .*,

It aoohded eohorribly like aelllng themi

? "I 'require' £160, and -offer yon tbe 'opal* an security, I answered with a* mnch determina tion a* I could convey.

He gave a low long, whiitie and promptly

handed me the necklaoe. ''

"Imboaaible zat l eoot gif ao mooch," he replied. " Vat do yon dinks I .coot get for dsns venyondon't reteem?"

"I know they are worth £400. and pf-boorfe X ?hall redeem them in a short time," I answered* with indignant emphasis. ' ' - J.

" Or gorz, or gore, my yonbg lety, eferybDdy reteekna eferydingi, sat i*'drae,nnd so ooine* lb sat my whole house -isvool.o* dings sat. g git money lor sat I gannot get again; no. Defer."

"Ob, if.yon cannot advance what I,want I need not Wespas* farther ooy onr time^Ieaid, rising and holding oat my hand for my opals. There vu snoh a horror in the prospect of leaving my beautiful necklace in the;hands .of thia rapaclcna old man that for the moment: I -felt almost glad, at ,the thopght ofpaking it ' " I gan advance vori ill3 at. dl#y ibtllings w week interest till yod reteemtherieeklSoe,* he saidquickly, holding tbd opals in tbe light agiin. M Ho vane gan do fairer tot yon; auid Z gan aaanreyon I do it btg%iwejpn are von young lety in tiaSreaa. YoQCcfer hava bawned nodinge befoSno?" V 1

"Thirty shillings nyreOkinterest."' t itled to reckon what rate of percentage this was, bafc. my arithmetic was too vague and my agitation too great to make any my precise oak illation*. I conld only be sore tbst it wm moat slnfph


"lethal the proper emerge?" I asked. W as severe, a tone u I oonldaiaumo.' »

" Assy dings lower would slmbly rain me,"' replied Jadab with nah solemn pttbao that for m moment staggered me, and mode jaje wonder whether I was not robblugthia cgiaritghle aim of Israel of his daily biead. Bat • glanoe at the vulture-like way in which helooksd frbhk me to my opals was enough to dispelthls childish, delusion. Bat I refleoted that !Jobo Harrowby had spoken of this man as a " respectable pawn broker." Of what use weald it be togo wander ing abont from one planderer to another only tb< soond the depths of pawnbroki eg greed ? And how could 1 bear a suooesslon of each interviews with tbe possibility that I might after all fare worse?'

"Zbn will take datamonncUahes V he said In. an insinuating tone.

I faintly murmured" yes," and he went at once to a chiffonnier that was in the room, un locked it, and took out a masslve-lookrogtaoney box, which be pressed at the side oh 6 particular ?pot, and the lid flew open. He took ont little. bundles of Bank notes, whioh he smoolbedond counted oat with a tremuloos kind of teqder ness. What a sinful world-weary existence many of tbem most have led! They were so soiled, so battered, so altogether disreputable, and departed from the parity of their yoath. It was easy to see that they hadb seldom been within sound of a Ohurob-goinz bell; that they were privy to felony, and had been seasoned by topers in grimy pnbllo-honaes,

" Vor how long do ydn'bledge the obals?*' '

I had not the remotest guess how long it might be before my necklsoe would be restored to me. Bat I could hot -bear the thooghk of consigning tbem to Jndsb for. an indefinite period, so I said " for a month," and then ho took a iquare reddish tioket, inscribed a number on it, and handed It to me, and I counted over the notes of valne,ranging from one to twenty pohnde.

"A huntret and dirteen bounds; and now will yon blease bay the indoreat for four weeks. Zat will be eixch bounds."

I returned him siz of the most hardened looking sinners, and placed the rest In my porte- - monnai. I feel ashamed to confess it,' bat as I gave a last lingering look st my opals tbe'earn came into my eyes. . There they lay in all their

-sparkling yet soft elusive brilliancy, seeming to 'remonstrate with me for leaving them in snob *n uncongenial atmosphere.

1 WasgladtObeout once more in the bright warm aonshine, end the fresh invigorating air •way from tbe misty atmosphere of that olose dim back room, with its glass-eyed little sham nanary. " I . reached' the rendesvoos in the ?Gardens a little before'the appointed time, bat OicV was there before the, looking moretniaerable, ?ffposslble, 'thin be bad done ontheprevloas 'day: -''It somehow seemed es unnatural to see Dick, unhappy and haggard as it would he for a joyous child. ?'!'Could not bear to keep him in feuspdnib one moment longer*

" Dick, I have got the money for yon," I saidjahd, then and there I polled out the 'bandle of no'tes Judahhad advanced, and with lt'the>£2BV'my Own mosey. Disk stood quite •till,'hie face'flashing a deep red ail over it.

•'Nellie, darlint, where did yon get this?" 4e^h«id,;in a slow pained voice which tent a

pan'gthrough my heart

, ", Ob, I robbed a Bank—yon would be anrprlsed to see-how civilly they allowedme to present a pistol and lake my pick of their notes. Quite an opening for yonug women in want of em ployment." Dick smiled, and when I aaw him took a littlp like bis pld self I rewarded him by telling the tinth— thp whole, tintb, and nothing 4>nt the trptb.

: "Bufcwhy did yon go, Nell, it is bad enough ?to takeyonr beautiful opals to a pawnbroker, bat ?that yon should go to snob a plsoe by yourself—

-and for me."

" Oh, Diok," I said, " it was such fan. Do .you'kcowjl think Jt is: very'stupid only seeing people who read the same books, and wear the -same kind of dresses, and apeak the same kind

?of grammar as oneself ;" and then I went < teUDhk jot the slatternly woman whose has bind bad pawned her ring. I could seethe comical element in it now far more than I did

the time. I.fear I imposed upon Diek, and • -that he realty believed I enjoyba going to the pawnbroker's.

"Bat Diek, there are only £132 here, oan you"

" Yes, fell, ot course t can matte op ens rest hut to think that you shoald have done this .(ot me. Ob.Nell, I can't bear to stf just 'thank .yon,' as I mold if yon passed me the salt."

' Sick clasped my hand in bis, with a peroept ebie'meistareln his eyes. We had wandered 'down by the little creek that babbles through the garden, and stoodnow beneath a laCge mag •molia-tree, and while Dick held my band in 'speechless grstitude, who should pass within a ?few. yards of na but John Harrowby! He looktd from me to Dick, and from Dick back to me again with Wh expression of cold and haughty runszement. that made my cheeks tiogle. I gave him a frigid little bow, to which he re sponded with astern punctiliousness, and went: •on his way, towards home evidently. -

" Hell, ban that masterfol-looking yonng man any right to look at yon withenoh an air of out Tsged 'ownership f" asked Diok.

1 ^Ob; that's John Harrowby," I .answered •with studied indifference, and then a comical look eame into . Dick's face which I did not -quite understand.

' "Then ( suppose you're fsst friends again— you and be?"

" Ves, moderately - but Diok, I'm afraid I

annst make haste borne."

"But, Hell, you'll be sure to tell John that: I'm your sisters (rweetheart—end whatever else ;you may think S fcf wou't tni nd hlaknowing about: any scrape, tot though hp looked very black at. •me 1 like hisfapb:"-? !

" Dic^^ypu~mfepn that Tm to cry « peeeavi'

to John Harr& tell hioi about your;: affairs because be saw me talking to you, why

youVe msklnga mighfy error," I said warmly.:. I don't know whiphyexed me most, John's ,im

ipertinenoeor Dick's quizrioal smiles. . There Is. no doubt-that-ft the Xord had ;"not made men <the chief source of discipline in a woman's life

would be lost.

" Oome, oome how^ my own gtdd little sister,: •don't be cross with me whatever happens. It's mo'ose toy ttying to say -bow I feel "what you havedpne fdr'tne, Ndl. . rm jatt lholdPash's tpligbt. Yp rpmenpbef ho'w 'after be told us reboot the harps andtbepUms, and had pnmpsd.

•himself dry, he gave a little eoogh as thongh a -dromb stnok lu hlsthroat, ana said, f But my %rethren; we won't enlarge upon that.'"

I would certainly- have been much happier

.going home if that chance rencontre with John. Jituvowby bad cot taken place. Should! not -after all tell him the proposed relatiooahip in which Dfaskstoodto mef Heoame hPme that

afternoon rather earlier than usual, and I was - !*nhdyet to' find that I awaited his entrance Into. -theldfifrring-raom with a- fast beatingheart. -** Jest as if I were afraid of him," I -said to my Kett Scornfully. There were only Louise and ; anykelf ifh the room. Hetty had gone with her

: '? abofbertoa Doroas meeting.

'" vc..»«<Well, ^Jack, Jon are-rally getting Into

' -dvlifxedhablts again—coming borne at halFpat - Ionise, looking up from ber book.-;

I was sitting on a low ohalr' in the bay-win*. «dbw,? -partially hidden' by the ample- tripestry

? «urtaina.

' *fa Mellie at home ?" asked John abruptly: :

" ?'I'll go end' aee," anawefed- teniae gravely,

•nlthongh she knew perfect^ well where -I waa. "*If she's not we had better invent a town

' -erl^r. lost or .'strayed- oh yea, oh yee-^ " ; Helm Maxwell Derweht, when - last teen, - <afraye!d.-in brown eyes and a' peaoook-blufe

-^aiahiiiere,'" 'and with thatshe- left the room. - ' '? Xhuiee,wateplte her mathematics and ancient' ? .-tlttaadtges, had a eploe of wiekednesa that ' was ?

'always more pronounced fn hersister's abas nee.

<fhV| WO IgTUUICU mo ffltu ? ""'Ht WBWtVUiUg

r^uet4bder Whl6hI grew hot and nheoinfort ' 'wble^ jutd doggedly obstinate in my Inner heart.

!*IOntwaidlyI walrcalm, engaged in crewel-work,

fihlsbihg 'the hewt of one of a Series of golden

tau^ilowersa on. paUttilae Kbmii eatin; oonoh

. "tieVhJm thlnk wbtt be likes, 1° shall voldn

'teerboigdanattmi^' I aaytp mytslf, thtojdlnjg

' VftojoiiiealIy tore jotirtelf ¥way—got tome •af'eraU)"'hea ya, bending slightly towarda me.' ... .."TOf, did yon expeot that Z Would be

r hyraUowed by n caas' "

-<• ~ otabwuy, like the missionary

:/<>f' Timhuctoo f* 1 ask, lust raising my ejes to lilsfaot, . ' " " ?

!' 'He tugged at Ms monstaehe, got np and

.y»allje(3_ across the' room, came hack and stood

near mewith folded arms. 1

' "Do 'jfrar pasfehta "know of this affair?" he eatedln aleaa saturnine tone."

... *' What aflsir, pray P" t asked with an aooent


?; ?; wOh, of oodrae,yon do not know what liefer

to" lie answered quietly.

"^Why. 'do ybn mean my having worked the .frog's leg out of drawing on kny last piece of

orewel?" '"

?' ."Good hfeaVens! how exasperating a girl can t>s,"he;sald vehemently.

„ r Then he plaoed his hand over iny work,

. toning me toiobk np':

"IfeJi, who'Wat that'yon were talking to is ' Fitxroy Garden?"

'' ' "A/lrlend from Hsmlington—DIok Fitz


"Ahl and does my mother know? Haveyon

told her?""

' "Ho; ahe haa not been in alnee I returnjd

sod if die were I don't think it is necessary to mention every one I may happen to meet.".

. "Happen to meet! Do yon mean tossy that yon did not meet that fellow—the Fitzgibbon by appointment ?"

I waa thoroughly angered by the tone of thia 'qneation.

"I decline .to answer you,*.. I answered, And •wept oat of the room with imperial dignity. As I am not. verytall.Iwas very glad I.bad.a trained dress on. wbieh I notice always lends' a certain distinction when one leaves p room in wrath. Bat this air of dignity did not prevent me0 from being thoroughly vexed with myself for not being more amiable. And then I dis covered that I had half expected John to oak ma in the old cordial manner, wbioh bad lately been revived, " Who waa the friend yon met this morning, Nell ?" and that I waa to have told him in ^confidence that it waa Dick, Bessie's future fianbe, when father was robaat enough to bear the ahock of finding that his daughter wished to be engaged to a man whoae wealth waa comprised in a £100 a year, and an aesthetic tta-cosy. I foand that we would be much tickled by this; that John wonld then aak for Dick's address, call on him, and bring him to the bonne as en old Bamlington friend. Of course, I wonld not dare to refer to the fatnre connection, ti'l we heard from Bess that Dick's •nit was favoured by her parents. "It might all have been so different," I said to myself pathetically, as if the history of endlesa prooes sfons of - ancient and modern nations were not written to show that men invariably fail to take the coarse they ehonld pnrsue.

Nor were my troubles over, for that day. As we were at dinner Mrs. Harrowby, who alwaya heard dreadfal tales of human depravity when she went out on missions of benevolenoe with the Arcbdeaoones8, reeoanted a thrilling story

of a burglary ]in a friend's honse,-whioh was ; supposed to hive been effected with the conni vance of one of ibe housemaids.

" It made me feel that we are not haii-oarerui

enough In looking up, my dear," she (aid to the ' Professor, who looked up with a slightly scared

expression, as if he feared that the wife of his bosom proposed to oonnt him and wrap him up in chamois with the silver spoons. As he was proBeoutingan exhaustive pursuit of a root that had viciously broken out in Sanskrit and the Chaldean tongue in totally different meanings, such a proceeding woald have been disastrous. Of course, a moment's reflection showed him

ihat there wsstno accommodation for him in the pantry; eo he'emiled vaguely, and said—

" Well, my love, shall we get more locks ?'

"I decline to give up my latchkey, mother,'* ?aid John, who held by that hard-won insignia of hit liberty es tenaciously aa the Barons clung to Magna Charts. Mrs. Harrowby had learned that though a husband may be trained to play the part of a Greek chorus in the domeBtio economy, it does not always. follow a son will inherit the gift of submission. So she deigned no reply, to this demonstration of ohronio insu bordination, but fiiing her gaze on me said—

"Helen, yon bad better give me yonr opals to look spin my jewel oase; you have a careless, habit of leaving yonr things abpnt. The other day I went into your room, and saw a quantity of silver lying loose oh yonr toilet table." .

If Mrs. Harro wby had not been a woman of the, moat implacable resolution, I wonld have .assured her .that I kept my opals looked in their casket in the innermost reoesses of a trunk herme'ically sealed,or mnrmur some indefinite excuse. Bnt I knew too. well that whatever it was possible for me to: esy wonld straightway strengthen her in the conviction that it was a sacred duty to take charge of my jewels at onoe, : and that,as soon as dinner was over she wonld straightway. march ms .into my room, to give" them to her. . Strong as the temptation might be to a-different course, honesty «r*s now the only possible policy. Bo with something of the ^celmnSsohf despair Z replied—

"Thank yon very muoh, Mrs, Hsrrowby; but 1 have not gptimy opals in tbehou»ejtut now." I felt' myself; turning into, atone, under the glance withwbich lbs Harrowby regarded me.' : ( " Ton have not got them in the.noose," she answered slowly, with, a little gasp. ^ Tfaen,. pray.iwberearethey F

.: i A terrible eilenoe fell on the room. I looked up helplessly to meet John's keen, enqairing eyes foil on gny.faoe. It is said that iaablon able doctors have the medloal accomplishment of .looking grave whatever nonsense is talked to them. I fancy lawyers have a faculty, for sus pecting villany when any little .mystery, crops np. .2 felt my faoe reddening horribly as I replied—.

flhey.are quite safe, but if. you will exonae me, Mrs..Harrowhy, I would rather hot explain why I haven't got my opals just now."