|Chapter Title||DR. LEARY PRONOUNIT A KETTLE OF FISH.|
|Newspaper Title||The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1871 - 1912)|
|Trove Title||Tom Hellicar's Children|
Tom Eellicar's Children.
It L. C.
CjtjkriiK VT. — Dr. Leaby tkonoinvkbit' AKktilk or Fish.'
Tjmk -went on. Five years had darkened the golden mrls of Ruth into brown. She was a tall, slender child, and had a sombre air ; the reflection of her mother's subdued spirits. In all those years she had seen her brothers but once, when her mother had taken her upon one of her stolen visits to see the lads. Mr. Heland's business had increased, and they had
been raised iroin scnoiars to cierKs ; a cnange tiiey failed to appreciate. Those live years had tola upon them as much in manner as appearance, llichie had n pale face, and his mother's shrinking, nervous manner ; he 'was very steady, and sat resolutely upon the high stool hour after hour. Jack was certainly a tiresome boy ; his great warm heart and high spirit had been so snubbed, and pinched, and thwarted, that it had taken a distorted shape, and found pleasure in nothing so much as mischief*. The plaster which he laid upon all his grievances was the resolve to thvash old Heland within an inch of his life when he was a man. The satisfaction tliis idea gave him was im mense ; he rested on it, and hardened his heart with it, and indulged in yells of laughter over it. Ruth Hellicar had just returned from one of those ?weary rambles to Gindion, where she had spent some ten minutes with her eldest son ; she did not see the younger, and narrowly escaped meeting Max Ibotson. She had hardly laid aside her shawl and -bonnet, and gat down by the scanty fire, for cleared riehls sur rounded them, and they could not afford to hire, so had to collect wood and carry it in their arms some distance. She was hardly seated when, steps ap proached the door, and Richard Hellicar and his cousin presented themselves. ' I find,' said the former, without any words of greeting, 'that you have continued to disobey my ciders.' ' I have detected you in your deceitful, base acts. You might cajole poor Tom Jlellicat, but you cannot deceive me, woman,' blustered Ibotson. She turned white and sick. ' You have proved yourself utterly unworthy of the trust reposed in you. Deceptive and ungrateful, — I shall feel it necessary to consider you no longer, and 80 study only the good of my brother's children.' The woman had gathered the little weeping girl to her bosom with a frightened ?wild air and white face — the guardian spoke with such an air of injured good ness and just severity, that she could not reply ; be sides, the old fear was settling on her heart; holding it in its cold irony ringers ; stopping her puke, and thoking her breathing. She knew that Max Ibotson Clustered and howled at her, that Richard Hellicar ?was cold and splenetic ; that they had told her she was lo see her boys no more ; and that, on the mor row, 9. servant would come from Mount Hellicar and take away her child, her baby. What should she do : Where should she fly ? All that evening ; all that cold, stormy night, she was clinging to the child, who was scared by her fit.ony.. Oh, that the darkness would last for ever ! But day came dawning on the sky. Then a red tint wi the distant hills, then a yellow light trailing along the' wintery fields — drawing nearer — ever nearer. The birds woke up and sang their matin songs. The cowb ? were lowing to their calves. Jh-r nestling would soon l-e torn from her. Then tke day came — and reparation. Tom Hellicar had made his will on his death-bed. It had been read over to Ruth, and she was asked by the loving voice if it was to her liking. .She would nut listen to it — oould she be so greedy : Could she arrange what seemed to set the seal to his impending ?loom ?? In her very love she would not listen ; she would leave it to him to (settle just as pleased himself. £o he died. The will betrayed the confiding, easy temper of the maker. In his delight at being reconciled with his brother, he forgot all his hard words and bitter spirit ; forgot his hatred of Ruth ; believed that now lie knew her, he must' like her. Her interests he considered so bound up with her children's, that lie had actually made no specific settlement on her. He never dreamed of her needing it. Would she not be mistress: All would be hers, to manage as she would. Richard Hellicar had given her permission to remain at the cottage, and retain the furniture -for her own. Hardly had the loud weeping of the little girl ceased to echo on her ear, when she turned from the door, tied on her bonnet, and shaking hands with the servant girl, whom Mr. Hellicar had discharged, bid her go home to her mother, who lived near, then lock ing the door, she turned away, ' You won't go to do anything — to — to hurt your self,' queried the girl, with tears on her cheeks. ' No, no, Bessy '? — she had scarcely spoken. Words she had none. She walked to the town, too excited for fatigue ; deposed of her furniture, and on the following day had disappeared. 'With that sudden disappearance Mr. Heland chose to attach suspicions, vile and degrading, and to carry them to his friend the vine merchant. The boys had been sent some distance on :i mes sage, that is to say, to borrow and bring back a gig, and therefore their guardian had gone before their return. If there was anything Mrs. Heland might be ssiid to receive with relish, it was such a theme — how virtuous was herindignatkm ; how industriously she tore the offender to pieces, dissecting and analysing, as the celebrated Dr. Preel might a human subject. There 'was a generosity, too. about 3ier spirit ; nothing was diminished irom the foul tale, but liberally added to it cent, per cent. Buck to buch aspersions drove the boys. ' Run away with that drunken Tim Smith ! It's false,' pronounced Richie, proudty, and walked away 'without another word. Not so Jack. Every vein in the little fellow's face swelled out, knotted and purple ; his big brown eyes glared, his list clenched, and stepping up to Mr. Heland he shouted ' It's a lie. I don't believe the whole pack of you. You are a rogue, and so is uncle, and old Ibotson. I hate you all. They have taken, my sister from mamma, and broken her heart. I hate you. Do you hear, Heland ? I scorn you. Only wait till I am a man, and I'll give you such a pounding you won't forget it. You bully us, do you t And you — your illness is all humbug,' and 'awav lie walked, bie v.ithfury. During the deliverance of this fierce outburst, the lawyer stood with a pale fare and cowed manner ; a^d seeing nothing else to do, Mrs. Heland fell into ?shrieking hysterics. . 'Dick, old fellow, I am going,' .said Jack, looking mat the stable door. ;; Where r' 'I don't know. What, are you crying !- '' . The boy 'was 6eated on a pile of straw, with his face m his hands, and did not answer. jj You don't believe it ? ' 'Pelicte it! }SJo ! Jh-t stipple they have been
talking that way to her. And we shall never see mamma again ; ' and he sobbed bitterly. Jack had overlooked that, and seemed a little dim eyed too. ' I Khali run away.' ' Ah, don't .Tack, and leave me.'' 'Then come too.' *' No. Mamma may come back, and then she would not know where to find us. Oh, I wish she was here.' He was devoted to his mother. ' Well, I am going to bolt ; good-bye, Itichie.' He did not lift his head from his hands, where it had sunk when he uttered his wish, and Jack walked away. His passion was ebbing a little, but at present he was too excited to feel crushed and lonely, as the other did ; perhaps lie never would, for his spirit was more self-reliant. With his head on the stable litter, the one boy was sobbing, ' Oh, mamma, my dear mamma,' and the other was running down the street to Doctor J Gary's. ' What's all this, by the powers. Running away. Where to?' ' I don't know.' ' And no money, I'll swear.' 'No.' ' Here's a pretty kettle of fish. Did you happen to blacken Heland's eyes ? or knock him down i Do you know the use ef that, and that?' He was spreading out a couple of rive shilling pieces on the surgery table, and then he began pounding away with a pestle in a great Kiortar, as if he was paying that little attention to the form of some personal enemy ; muttering as he did so, ' Slandering the poor thing, eh ? Stolen the girl now— bolting — ha — hum.' ' Are these for me ? ' '* Of course, you young scamp. Go to .Takes, and tell her to put you up some sandwidges — a good lot. Do you know where Sam the drover lived ? He is ju6t starting up the country ; go to him, say I sent you, and he is to hold his tongue. Now, be off, you dog. I shan't look to see wliich way you go.' So he began pounding away again, making a dreadful din, and looking with a comic expression at the ceil ing ; once he spoke, to give utterance to these rather peculiar words, ' done him.' God shield the little wanderer in his unknown way ! The prayers of a mother follow him ; like the mothers of old, she is bringing her little ones to Jesus, that He may bless them. Go on praying, mother, for there is sin and temptation around the children — and none to help on earth.