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Chapter NumberIV
Chapter Title
Chapter Url
Full Date1883-12-29
Page Number1207
Word Count3654
Last Corrected2018-04-03
Newspaper TitleThe Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1871 - 1912)
Trove TitleSubstantive or Adjective
article text

Substantive or Adjective.

By C. H. Spence.

Chapter IV.

' By the way, mother,' asked Frankland one day soon after the theatricals, "I should like to see Tom's letters. He never writes to me at all, and I have depended altogether on your account of the contents of his letters. He seems to me to be very restless and wandering. I never can understand why he threw up his Indian appointment ?' "His health suffered so much from the climate.' 'And then he tried Canada, and gave that up ? '

"Yes. The Survey Department there used him shame- fully. He could not possibly stay there.' "He had a good profession, and, on the whole, a much better start in life than I had. If he means work, I could give him an opening either as a surveyor or on a station in New South Wales; but I feel a little afraid that he wants industry or steadiness, somehow.' ' I don't think he wants either. But he appears now to have got into a very good thing in the Western States. He is at home as a mining geologist, and he is always on the spot for making discoveries. Here are his letters, all arranged and docketed according to date, like yours and the mother put into her eldest son's hand a packet of letters which she took out of her davenport. Although a little inclined to be suspicious of the rolling stone which as yet had gathered no moss, Frankland could not help being interested in the letters. They were far more brilliant than his own ; in some directions they were more detailed, and they were full of literary and classical allusions and contained many fine descriptions of scenery and graphic sketches of travel) and converse with all sorts and condi- tions of men and women. Tom would often run off at a word or an allusion into a digression, sometimes amusing, sometimes reflective, sometimes scientific; but the most remarkable thing about the letters as a whole was that, with the appearance of the most perfect candour and openness, they told wonderfully little about what the young man was doing — what his work, his pay, and his present circum- stances were. Prospects were often mentioned, and latterly these prospects had taken shape in the direction of a splendid gold reef; from which he expected a fortune, which was to be divided between himself, the discoverer, and a friend who backed him with some money and more credit. Harry Frankland looked carefully through the letters, and found more requests for small sums of money than he liked —generally asked for parenthetically, sometimes jocularly — and hurried, but not cold acknowledgment of receipt of such sums. "You never told me Tom was in want of money,' said Frankland when he had finished his scrutiny, making small jottings as he went along. "Did I not ? Well, as he did not ask for any more than I could spare him, there was no need to trouble you about it— you who have been so liberal to me. Indeed, I always told Tom that it was your money I sent to him.' "Yes; but what I gave to you was for your own needs and your own comforts. It would have been much better for him to have applied to me direct.' "The distance has been so great, Harry.' "The distance lately has been less to me than to you. However, I shall write to Tom myself, and ask for some further particulars as to this gold mine. It is risky work starting a mine by people without capital, and I cannot see that this friend of his has much.' "Tom, you know, is a scientific mineralogist.'' "Scientific men are as likely to make mistakes as others, at least we find it so in Australia, and it is evident that Tom is exceedingly sanguine. Look at what he says about a floor of gold, a reef that will give 6oz. to the ton— half a million of money for each of the proprietors — and then a modest request for a hundred pounds, which, I suppose you sent. Has it been acknowledged ?' "There has scarcely been time.' 'Ample time, I think, by the date,' said Frankland. 41 All about the mine appears to me to be very vague.' 44 It is his way,' said the mother, 44 but'they are dear, affectionate letters.' 44 He has been at home twice for considerable periods since he first went out into the world.' ' Yes ; twice— such a great pleasure to me. It is such a pity that you cannot be here together at die same time now, but with the mining venture at such a critical stage he could not leave Nevada. That is what EUice said to me. He appreciates Ellice, I can assure you, and what is more, he corresponds with her as regularly as with me.' ' Indeed,' said Frankland, 41 that is a good thing.' It passed through his mind that 'Miss Grant would be more penetrating as to Tom's weak points than his mother, but in a moment another idea struck him not altogether so satis factory. 44 You have two strings to your bow, mother ; I did not think of that possibility. She may be your daughter-in-law after all, in spite of my insensibility and Miss Grant's own, which is quite as impervious.' 'Oh no,' said the mother, shaking her head, 'Tom is nine years younger than you, and young for his years, quite a boy to Ellice ; but he often tells me that he would rather talk to her than to the prettiest young girl of his acquaint ance. She has so much sympathy.' 41 Ah, well j' said Frankland, 44 there is no saying what may come of it yet. She may yet oome to be an adjective qualifying very wholesomely the substantive Tom.' 44 Never,' said the old lady. 44 No such luck for him.' 'Luck indeed,' said Phoebe, who just now entered the room. 44 Why, cousin Tom is more the age for me, and though I have not seen him since I left school, foryou know 1 was at Birkenhead all the time of his last visit, he used to be uncommonly good looking, and the life of everything wherever he was.' k te must b® a good deal better off than he is before M thinks cf marrying any body,' said the mother. 44 My

mind misgives m about the gold mine, for as you say, Henry, I ought to have heard. I know he would not keep good news from me. Wherever Tom goes he seems to make friends, and to meet with adventures, bnt he never makes money.' ..... v. 44 That makes him all the more interesting,' said Phoebe. 44 In novels it is always the poor hero who is the nice one, and the rich lover who is the nasty one. Of course there are more poor young men than rich ones in the world to get nice ones out of. It is a pity that people cannot do without a good deal — a great deal of money — so I hope Tom s gold mine will turn out a success, with all my heart. ' Frankland thought over his mother's words. It seemed very strange that such a woman as Ellice Grant should attract such a youth as Tom, and still stranger that she should be attracted by him. Of course their cleverness and literary tastes might make them glad to meet and talk together; but a close correspondence between a busy woman like Ellice and a wandering young man like Tom was a different thing. He determined on making a morning call, when she waB sure to be at home, making an excuse for interrupting her in what she called her work. She left her study and received him in the drawing-room. After a few commonplaces about 44 The Rivals' had been exchanged, Frankland opened the real object of his viBit 44 1 understand that my brother Tom corresponds with you ?' 14 Your mother has probably told you so,' said Miss Grant, with more appearance of embarrassment than he had ever before observed in her. 44 Am I mistaken in supposing that he gives you more details as to what he is doing than be writes to his mother?' 44 Perhaps he does,' said Ellice, with still more embar rasement. 'From a mistaken idea, on his part that it will 6ave her pain or uneasiness or apprehension P' 44 Yes, yes, you are quite right in your surmise. I have told him again and again that concealment is both cowardly and wrong.' 44 And you, too, keep from my mother what would annoy and grieve her P' 44 Yes, and with more qualms of conscience than I can satisfactorily argue down.' 41 But vou cannot have the same reason for reserve with me,' said Frankland, gravely and kindly. 44 My back is broad enough, my nerves are strong enough to stand any revelation at all likely to have been made to you. What trouble, what scrape, what disgrace has he got into P You should have told me the truth at once.' 44 No,' said Ellice firmly, 44 1 do not think I should, aud even now 1 do not feel that I ought to tell you all that he confides to me as the safest friend he knows. It is far better that he should confide in you himself ; £ have urged this on him, end hope to succeed.' 41 Of course the mine has gone to smash.' Miss Grant neither assented nor denied. 44 And now it must be money he wants. 'Why should he not apply to me rather than to his mother ? 1 feel very much hurt about this. He would have to make a clear statement to me, and that is what he appears quite unable to do to her, whatever he may do to you, Miss Grant.' ' Don't think too badly of your brother, Mr. Frankland. With all hie faults he if, as his mother says, a dear boy. I am very fond ot him.' Frankland paused a little. 'The prodigal son always gets the fatted calf slain for his sake by his father, and the lion's share of love from his mother. My matter-of-fact straightforward letters were not so dear to my mother as Tom's evasive ones.' 44 Do not eay so,' said Ellice eagerly. ' You do Mrs. Frankland injustice. You do not know what satisfaction she has always had in your regular candid details of your daily life, of your widening operations, your hopes and your fears. After every one of your letters sne had such a feel ing of rest and confidence. 4 My good son,' she calls you always.' 44 But, 4 my dear boy,' is what she calls Tom, and you, who are supposed to be above a mother's blind partiality and only to love what iB worthy of love, call him tne same. On the whole, Tom's cognomen is the more affectionate one.' 44 1 cannot help it,' said Ellice. 41 Your brother interests me so very much. There is doubt and anxiety with regard to him. I believe that his heart is in the right place after all, and his abilities are excellent. If we could only inspire him with the right kind of ambition, he may distinguish himself yet, and be aB great a comfort to Mrs. Frankland as you are.' ' And to spur him on in this right direction is the object of your letters to him.' 44 Mainly ; though we have many topics in common in which there appears no object but the desire for intellectual companionship. HiB scientific side is his strongest, my speciality is more pure literature ; but I think we give and take freely. But I am one ot the few persons whom he will take advice from. He has never yet taken offence at anything 1 have said or written.' ' Now, what difficulty is he in now ? How much money does he want ?' 41 1 don't think it is so much money that he wants as backbone. He is not vicious in any direction, I feel sure of that; but he may drift into vice through repeated dis appointment and humiliating circumstances. I think his very reluctance to apply to you is a good sign.' 4-He has no reluctance to apply to his mother,' said Frankland, bluntly. 44 lhat is different. He knows she is only eager to help him to the utmost of her powers.' 41 Nor has he the same hesitation in applying to you,' said Frankland. The deep blush that rose on Miss Grant's cheek showed that he had hit the mark. 44.I call it mean,' said Frankland, 44 unless — ' ' Don't misunderstand, don't misconstrue, the simple fact that between friende there can be giving and taking, and lend ing and borrowing. I am richer, alas, than I was, for I have only myself to provide for, and I half telt it was for my father's sake that I assisted the young fellow he was so fond of, who cheered many of his dull hours. Do not think too hardly of your brother. He was a little spoiled by being the only boy at home, and really eo clever. I need not remind you of his successes at school and at college. His embarrassments have generally been through over confidence in specious friends.' 41 And this mine is a failure through this F' 44 No, no,' said Ellice sadly, 44 it was his friend's over confidence in Tom's scientific knowledge. This it is which cuts Tom to the heart. You do not do him justice. I must let you see one or two of his letters to me,' and she care fully looked through a packet of letters, and selected three for Frankland's perusal. He read the letters, and was surprised at them. Yes, they were more open and more confidential than those which he had seen addressed to his mother. They were also even more brilliant. He could not help wishing to see the letters which they answered, for it was evident ' that there waB a somewhat keen encounter of wits ; and they were mote affectionate than he could have supposed possible on the part of a young man to a woman a little older than himself, without something like love existing between them. He drew his own conclusions, especially as Ellice sat watch ing the effect of this reading with evident anxiety. 44 You like them,' said she, when he had ended his reading. 44 Yes, thank you very much indeed for the opportunity bo kindly given to make acquaintance with my own brother. These letters show good taste, good sense, and good feeling. You read them to my mother, I hope.' ' Most of them,' aaid she, ' wherever they would give her pleasure. But now that you fed more satisfied, as I can see by your face, I must ask you to excuse me. I must fo up to London by the train that starts in half-an-hour. had a letter by the morning poBt, a very pleasant letter indeed. An article I had written for the new magazine to be started next month is not only accepted, but a whole series ordered, and a personal interview requested. This is just the opening 1 hoped to have, and when I leave Trus cott I can establish good business relations with this maga zine, and also strengthen them with a newspaper, to which I have contributed a good deal. It is better paid work the books which I can write, and although of course it is still more ephemeral, one reaches in *!»? way a much wider circle of readers at once.' ' And after the serial publication the collected papers may make a book f' 4,If they are found worthy, but after all a great part of our current literature .should be allowed to die.' This was a reptition of the sentiment which had already

mrDrised Frankland. Be had thought Miss Grant's tradition was for immortality, and not to serve as a little lamn for her own generation, and then to go out of «ght Was it love for Tom that made her so moderate in h-r self-estimate and in her ambition ? otartled her i« Cnnnnt 1 accompany you to London r He staruea ner . j. nrnrasaL ' I have business iu London, too, he wnSTAn Australian has always business as a pretext t0«? You^forget1 ^Ur dinner engagement this evening,' ^Trae. atMrs. Oliver's. I suppose I could not get off f' 41 Scarcely without giving great offence. He was however, much disappointed. _ He would have liked to travel with Miss Grant, for his curiosity was thoroughly aroused as to the real relation between her and bis broth J, and he felt that hie male penetration was much euperior to his mother's, though she i had tor man logpor ; tunities of judging- After all, in spite of the five Toare difference in a^, why should not they makeamamage of it ? It would be the making of Tom to be influenced, even to be ruled for his own good by a woman so thoroughly to be depended upon. Why should not'Tom work at hu pro fession in England ? Frankland would have proposed New South Wales, where he had more influence, but that it would be unjust to take Ellice Grant from a career good at pre sent, and promising better for the future. In marrying her he would marry no helpless dependent, but a woman who would carry into her new home the trained faculty ol a professional litterateur. It waB very feasible ; all but iu one point. Tom had no right to ask a woman with an assured position and an assured livelihood to link her self to his unluckly fate, where hitherto there had been only failure after failure. But something could be done to equalise the position of the two. He himself could settle on his brother an equivalent to Miss Grant s income, sufficient for modest competence, and Tom s own energy and perseverance should do the rest. And then they could be near the mother, or, better still, have the mother to spend the rest ot her flays with them. As for himself, of course New South Wales a«ain and the Darling Downs. Of course with Phoobe P No, not quite of course. Somehow PJioebe seemed rather a petty little mortal in his eyes when he was settling the pros and cons of a marriage for a very different woman. 'What had Tom done to attract to him that grave, noble, generous woman? Only needed her, only claimed her help, and got it, without selfish re servation. Substantive or adjective, no woman can stand alone. If she does not find a man to rule her, she must find one whom she can protect. Half wifely, half maternal, would be the love which she would give to such a wayward, brilliant, sensitive fellow as Tom Frankland. Revolving these things in his mind, he said good-bye ; but somehow found himself at the station for another fare well to his prospective Bister-in-law, and saw the Rev. Mr. Matthews, who was not engaged to dinner at Mrs. Oliver's, bustling up just in time to take his seat in the railway car riage beside the parishioner he was so soon to lose. Frank land could not help envying him his tete-a-tete journey, and returned to his mother's for luncheon a little out of spirits. 44 1 suppose you know Miss Grant s errand to London,' said he to his mother ; 41 to make some new business arrange ments with a new magazine.' 44 And also to see about lodgings.' said Mrs. Frankland, with a sigh. 44 She has selected what furniture and relics she wants to keep, and all the rest is to be sold off.' 41 It appears to be a good opening for her,' said Frank land. ' Very much so. All I can do is to subscribe for the magazine and the paper she writes for, and keep up com munication with her in that way.' 41 And she will write,' Baid Frankland. (- She is sure to write to you. What a good correspondent she appears to be to Tom. ¥es, I owe her gratitude on more than your account to give so much of her time to him.' 41 It was all in the way of business,' said Phoebe. 41 She made use of Tom's descriptions in her books; she told me so.' 41 So she did once, at any rate,' said the mother. ' Tom was eo pleased.' 41 Well, I suppose Miss Grant follows her destiny,' said Frankland. 41 till she surprises us all by marrying some day.' 44 Marrying,' said Phoebe, 41 how absurd! Why, she is turned thirty, and looks more than forty.' 41 Well, women have been married at thirty, at forty, and at fifty,' said Frankland. 41 For their money,' sail Phoebe, who had a good deal of what may be called the insolence of youth. 41 1 never heard of any offer that Ellice Grant ever had, and with her character of a blue she is not likely to get one as she grows older.' Phoebe was, however, a good deal mistakes, and at the very time she made the speech there was something very like an offer made to the literary lady by one of her own old adorers. '