|Chapter Title||BROTHER. HELP!|
|Newspaper Title||The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1871 - 1912)|
|Trove Title||Tom Hellicar's Children|
Torn Hellicar's Children.
Br L. C.
l-JIAlTEk VIII. ? BltOTHEU. Ilr.Lr !
Fah more chill blew the wind along that Tasmanian ruad than it did at that hour around Gindion, when one solitary heart, that should feel young, was inly calling on the lost mother. It was growing dark, too, und Hakes of snow floated thinly on the wind, which swept the- dry leaves along the road and shook the high branches 'of the evergreen indigenous trees. A dreary night before a good fire— yet more so out in the stoiin ; plodding on step by stc-p, mile by mile, mw tho whitexiinir road : makine foot-wints tliis mo
ment, to be obliterated next, like the young hopes go out of our hearts, one by one-. 'leant get on,' murmured the woman, faintly : ' why should I try ? Why not lie down and rest r Oh, for rest.' Then the wind swept by with a shrill wail, like a child's cry of pain she thought it, and sprang forward with out-stretched arms towards the retreating blast ; but it was gone. Still she went on, very tired, very exhausted, for she had not eaten that day ; she had no money to buy, and feared to beg. It seemed to her that, press forward as she would, her progress was so little that it would be midnight ere she reached her destination ; and then a sickly fear lest all should be in bed, tmd she would get no wel coirff— no warmth and food till morning— seized her, and ;-he bent forward, trying to drag her weary feet Quicker alone. ' After a while, in thc-^ distance, twinkled a small light : it looked, cheerful, speaking of man's habita tion. 'If it should be— if it only might be.' Yes, ab she- came up near there was the lamp hung above the door, just casting back darkness so far as to show the words 'Plough Inn, Nic. Spiro's,' on a swinging signboard. The snow had thickened to a blinding whirl, and into the cheerful glow which streamed through the window the -weary traveller staggered and paused. The curtain only covered the two lower panes, and her eyes just took its upward edge. Witlu'n the room were three men and a woman, making a circle round a blazing tire. The portly man with a settled red in his face, leaning against the chimney-piece, was e%i dently the host ; the woman with her business eyes and quick moving needle had the mistress air about her, and the other two might be decent travellers, small fanners driving their own hay teanib probably. The shivering creature before the window stood several minutes contemplating this scene before she applied her knuckles to the door. ' A traveller ! I did not hear a horse,' exclaimed a voice within. The door opened. ' A woman — on such a night ! ' ' Yes, a woman, Nicholas Spiru,' she returned, stepping in; the snow flakes beginning to fall from her clothing in that warm room. ' And pray, missis, what brings you out this stormy night on the road r ' inquired the landlady, with a suspicious light in her small grey eye. Perhaps it was the sudden change from cold to heat — or disapointitient. or the relaxing of the nerves after their late tension, but the answer she made was to sink out along the floor, a senseless mass of wretched ness and mud. There was a general cry of alarm, and she was lifted up and put on a sofa ; hot spirits forced between her parted blue lips, and her wet shawl and bonnet laid aside. After a while the sad black eyes opened, and she looked round with a frightened de precating gane. Mrs. Spiro touched her head and nodded mysteri ously, and one of the fanners observed ' she's a pretty un, too.' ' Nicholas, Nicholas Spiro, have you torgotten Ruth — your sister Ruth ? ' she said, presently. 'Ruth — wliat Ruth Hellicar — get along,' with infinite scorn. ' I am Ruth Hellicar,' she said, struggling to her feet. ' The sister that went from your house — Thomas HellicaT's wife. Have you forgotten the old home in England ? The field where we gathered the first cowslips r The hawthorn bush where the unbaptised baby was buried close to mother's window r' She sank back, burying her face in her hands and sobbed. ' it's as right as the bank,' muttered the bewil dered Nic, ' but ? ' ' Nicholas, I wrote to you that they had turned me out of my home, and taken my boys from me — they took my baby — my blessed little lamb.' Then she sobbed afresh, ' Get her some tea, Dolly, and see about a room for her, she'd better go to bed, poor girl,' said Nicholas, adding to her ' Come, come, Ruthy, don't give way, it will do no good.' That failing, b.e went on to suggest that there were others Morse than her after all, and she had been rich and a fine lady in a manner of speaking, a many years. But it did not seem to comfort her as it ought. Dorothy Spiro's warm cup of tea did something, but better than t-Il was the stout night-capped baby she brought m on her arm, for scenting that its presence would be inconvenient, it had made a point of waking up and insisted on leaving its cot. How Ruth hugged that child to her heart, with the great hot tears falling on its fat aim ; the poor heartfelt less desolate with that baby form, pillowed on it. All those years since she went out of Nicholas Spiro's house, a young bride, had made great altera tions in both : the struggling settler had become the thriving publican, a husband and father, with sepa rate interests and pursuits ; while she had been edu cating and refining, almost insensibly, and it was not till brought face to face with die broad-set man, who looked at her from blood-shot eyes with a business air, diat she knew the vast difference between the Hc-llicars and the Spiros. The discovery came -with a sickening weight of disappointment, but for that night fatigue would be heard, and she was soon asleep. One by one die fowls were dropping with a drowsy buffet off the roosts, and the thin curl of blue smoke hardly made its -way above the roof, but stretched out to an exaggerated length, when Ruth awoke at the sharp tones of her brothers wife rating a boy on liis way to the milking-yard. It was Dorothy's boast that grass did not grow under her feet, and those same feet were pattering quickly here and there, her shrill voice now dying away, n»w rising up sharp and clear with startling nearer, till at last they carried her to the tire in that little parlour where we first beheld her— there, his hands crossed on his back, stood Nicholas. Dorothy closed the door and advanced to his side polishing a glass as she did so, more from habit of constant doing than that it required it. ' Do you know what she lias come for,' jerking a nod over her shoulder. ' Want's to ro to law to get the children.' ' Go to law for her own children ! I'd have clawed their eyes out afore they would have laid a finder on n»ine. ? ' ' Likely— likely. Ruth was always a quiet girl. ? '' 'U_uiet and soft— that's th? way thirty -*??»,' scornfully. ? ^- »?. ' What's your opinion r '
' No use throwing away money, if the had it, but the has not. and wants me to do it.' In this view of the case Mrs. Spiro's former ap proval of legal proceedings gave way at once— she toiled too hard for it, scraping and slaving— let other* work as hard, and they would not have to go a beg-nr.K, perhaps. So it was soon settled that Ruth was te have no help from them. Then arose the ques tion what was to become of her ? » My ^als are getting old enough to want a bit of education above the school, Nic. I say keep her here, she has genteel ways with her, and speaks Uke a lady born ? let her learn the children, and work at her needle, then I can keep 'em away from the business, for I've said before, and I says it again, a public an't a place to bring up children. If I have her minding 'em my mind will be easy-like, and she won t look for more than the bit and sup to feed her, and an odd dress now and then ? ' There certainly was a leaning in Nicholas s heart to help his forlorn sister, so he readily acquiesed, and while Dorothy Spiro made die offer of a home a great favour to Ruth, she inly rejoiced in securing s» superior a school rnis'es for the children. And the wide sea was flowing between her and her own little ones— but for the present she could do no other than abide there. She wrote, however, to Richie and Jack, and also to Mr. Hellicar. The boys' letter 31 ever reached them, and the reply from Richard Hellicar, with its cruel accusation, without the one gleam of hope, she must seek her children no more— they had been taught to blush for her name. ? «??? ?