Chapter 164373853

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Chapter NumberIX
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Full Date1871-04-29
Page Number284
Word Count2833
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1871 - 1912)
Trove TitleTom Hellicar's Children
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Tom Hellicar's Children.

Br l. c.

Cii.M-TEit IX. — The New C'lehgykak.

So protracted was Mrs. Hcland's hysterical attack, aud awful her screams after Jack's departure, that Richie was sent for Dr. Leary in all haste. The doc tor was 011 that wonderful horse of his, just starting away from home. *' Iiulloa, where are you running too,' was his salutation, as the boy approached, panting, and very pale. Richie tried to explain. ' By the powers, we'll have a bit of fun, now.' | ' Doctor ? ' ' Well, my boy.' j ' Did vou see Jack this xnorainsr 5 '

A prolonged fit of laughter was the reply, which the sad-hearted boy felt greatly out of time. ' Richie, can you keep a secret r ' 'I can.' ' Jack's run away.' ' I know it — where too r ' The doctor explained. A weight seemed lifted off the elder boy's heart. The unfitness of Sam the drover as a protector and companion for Jack did not, at the time, strike him ; he was with a friend of Dr. Leary's, that he felt in its full force ; he was free from the oflice drudgery, wliich was so bitter to him, and beyond reach of Heland's severity and abuse. ' I can bear anything now Jack is happj',' he said, w itli a iiush m ount in g to his pale die eks . His companion fixed a scrutinising eye upon him ; for the first time it occurred to liim how much nobleness of character there was hidden under the shy boy's quiet ways. In silence they returned to the lawyer's. Dr. Leary walked in on tiptoe, with a face of any length, and pinched up mouth ; an occasional deep sob still told of the recent storm. ' Oh, doctor, misses was took awful,' said the untidy girl-of-all-work, who was supporting the lady's head. ' Oh, the awful — the cruel — the vile — oh, the little wretch,' ejaculated the sufferer, with sobs and thrcatenings of returning hysteria. ' Compose yourself, ma'am. Which way did she get them, Lizzie r ' 'There's been an awful row with Master Jack, and she was took ? ' ' And wlic-re is the young scamp now : ' ' I don't knew.' The doctor looked round as if in search of the offender, and, encountering Richie, made some demon strations of tongue and face, decidedly unprofessional. ' Your mistress is very low, Lizzie,' he pursued, feeling the fat wrist carefully. ' Can you find her a spoonful of brandy about the house ? She never ought to be without it, subject to such attacks.' At this moment Iieland entered. ' Glad to see you here. Mrs. Iieland is very ill, and no wonder. I am really afraid that boy has bolted.' 'No ! ' The doctor wheeled round full upon him in amaze. 'After all you've done for him, by jabers.' 'I'll find him.' At the uncle's do you think r ' ' Certainly not.' Lizzie and the brandy cut short the dialogue, and the medical man departed, again jerking out ' done him,' with a volume of meaning. Jack's flight did not better his brother's position ; double work, loneiinesB, insult, all were his ; never mind, he must wait there for his mother. It wanted far more steady purpose and bravery to do 60 than to run from it all. Months passed on, and rolled into years, two, three, four, five. Still he was alone — no mother heard of — not even Jack. Samuel Feagan had left the district long since, and with him all traces of the wanderer. Occasionally Richie went to Mount Hellicar to see his sister, but they were such strangers to each other, and in such awe of their relations, that after sittinqr in almost silence for about half an hour.

Richie would rise to go home, and Ruth crept away in apparent relief. About a mile from Mount Hellicar, and near to Gindion, was a red brick church, standing in a small enclosure dotted over by gravestones, or lonely gravel mounds — the forest came up all round, striking one with wonder where the congregation were to come from in that solitary spot ; the only house visible was the parsonage, also red brick, and well surrounded by old gum trees, with ragged bark hanging from their stems that autumn morning, and rustling and rattling hi the light breeze ; but there were grass meadows beyond, where a few cows were just enjoy ing the recovered presence of their calves ; and a grey | horse, with a very long reflective face, was cropping the grass, in a sedate manner becoming tlie parson's steed. Large packing cases, partly filled with straw, in the yard, and a piano case under the back verandah not yet opened, explained that the clergyman's family were new arrivals ; but when you stepped into the small breakfast-room the group there had an at-home look about them. By the fire sat a rather short and strongly built man in black ; the large nose and black brows bespoke a decision of character, but the eye was gentle — he was the man to go to in the hour of need, perhaps more the friend of sorrow than one to grow intimate with the prosperous and gay — not gloomy, no, 110, Mr. Thorell's cheerful laugh came from a cheerful heart and good lungs ; but he would naturally be sought by the weak and sad, they would go instinctively to him, sure of help. His wife had that uncertain, unfinished face which betokens a weak person — a good, quiet, motherly woman — not one that had seen them but had said ' it is a good thing for the parish to have such people come into it.' The parish had wanted an active man badly, that had been allowed on all hands ; High Churchmen and Low Churchmen had agreed in that, if nothing else. There was much ignorance, much sin unchecked, and when the new clergyman was expected everybody said they hoped he would look after things ; a general feeling of putting the responsibility on to his shoulders, and comfortably shutting tlieir eyes for the future to these things. 'You made a call in the township, yesterday, John,' remarked the wife. ' Yes. love. Do you know I discovered that Mr. Hellicar, up there, has a nephew in a lawyer's office there — an orphan lad. I called on Mr. Hellicar, he is not of our church, by-the-bye, he informed me, and ?was struck with something sad in the clerk's face, so I entered into conversation with liim. After some little ur ging, and opposition on the part of Mr. Heland, I arranged that he should take a class in. the school on Sunday. You must help there, Essie.' A young girl of eighteen looked uji from her em ployment of buttering bread for some younger children with an acquiesing smile hi her brown eyes. Nothing striking about her. Mrs. Hellicar, of the Mount, pronounced her very ordinary — and yet what a sweet quiet face it was, with such a kind-hearted look about it. Before long you would call Esther Thoreii prettj', and if you are middle-aged would find your self addressing her as ' mv dear.' ' Is lie fit r' ' He says lie is very ignorant — perhaps so — yes, I

fear so ; therefore! I was the more anxious about it — we must befriend him, love.' Mr. Thorell rose to retire to his study. The youth needed a friend — re- commendation enough — the resolve to be that frieud was formed on the moment, and would be carried out with a quiet decision that would overcome all obsta cles. The man had so much sense of the fitness of things, of the right time to yield, and the time for op position ; knew his way so perfectly to the heart's secret chambers — was so consistently laborious about liis master's work, that the lonely clerk, with his pale grave face, was in no danger of being forgotten. A Christian had come to tlie parish. No one spent half an hour in the parsonage without conceiving a great respect for, and some little fear of, the tall decided Miss Thorell, really the mistress of the house, and ruling spirit. ' I quite understand, papa,' she said, with a manner of one whose opinions were accustomed to meet with attention. ' This Mr, Heland would object to spare him as a mere visitor here ; he could not for decency sake refuse liis attendance at papa's classes on Sun day — he will keep liim about himself for a time.' 'That must be it; how you understand every thing.' The younger girl's smile was a mixture of affection and a'dmiration. ' And now, my dear, let us unpack the piano, Mary and Nelly have not practised for ten days.' Caroline Thorell was instructress to tlie younger ones. She was at least five or six years the senior of Essie, and had long lost all traces of girlhood ; indeed, she was too tall and largely built to have looked like a girl after her teens. ' Did you notice what a lovely little nurse girl Mrs. Hellicar has ; I was quite struck -with her,' said Esther, pausing in the vigorous use of the hammer. ' Yes, I was sorry Mrs. Hellicar sent her away directly mamma spoke to her. I could not see that she was so troublesome as she said.'' The intervals of unpacking were occupied with dis cussing the beauty of the little maid, who the ladies had found in charge of Master Tristam Hellicar, a restless young branch of the noble stock, when tliey returned his mother's call ; and the interest of the matter was not exhausted when the liberated piano gaA e Caroline occupation in superintending the prac tice of the children — interrupted or rather carried on simultaneously with the younger boys' copy and Latin lessons. During the last five years Mrs. Hellicar's domestic troubles had been growing heavier ; the unhappy Missie, a woman now, was turbulent and sullen, and the mother had taken the place almost of a keeper to the demented girl. No son resembling the boy who had been drowned appeared among the three ta'l lads who, although duly reminded of their high descent, had a perverse love of low society, freckled faces and warty hands, and hair that would tumble over their faces and stick out at the back of their heads. Even at school, although they went there mounted on King Arthur's round table, figuratively, they had been eclipsed by shopkeepers' sons, and, I regret to say, that the very last note Mrs. Hellicar received from her eldest, having accidentally been posted with out the supervision of the master, informed her that ' the cake did not kum till a week after we was ex pecting it.' All these sources of anxiety had increased the acerbity of the unhappy lady's temper, and written Richard Hellicar's face over with the deepest lines ; what little sunshine had visited the Mount seemed to have died out for ever and a day. Indeed, I do not wonder that the three youths preferred an hour's gossip in the huts among the labourers — particularly as they were partial to short pipes and colonial to bacco, where, if they wanted refinement, there was freedom and rude hilarity. When Ruth was pronounced unfit to bring up Tom Hellicar's daughter, the guardians had informed her that she was to be educated under the governess at the Mount, but that arrangement had hardly been carried out beyond reading to the nurse occasionally, and doing much needlework. It was astonishing with what bitter satisfaction Mrs. Hellicar had long since pronounced her a fool, and born to be nothing beyond a servant, like her mother before her — who, it was an undeniable fact, she greatly resembled. So a maid she became, and fulfilled her destiny. The child was tall for her age ; had a brown skin, and the deepest and most mellow of black eyes, and hair which, with even trifling attention, would have clustered in luxuriant curls, but being neglected, frizzled up into picturesque roughness which, in con junction with unlaced boots, and one of Misses out grown frocks trailing around her heels, gave her a slovenly appearance that would have been destructive to any but such uncommon beauty. Still the face had a great want. There was the vacancy of ignorance in it, with a comely manner, and a habit of startling, if the hand was extended to wards her, or she was addressed suddenly, and then she rarely spoke. Dr. Leary was not the medical attendant at Mount Hellicar, but, calling there on business one day, he had seen the child, and informed Richie that unless some thing was done for her before very long, her intellect would be weakened — she had more nerve than strength, he said, and constant pressure of fear and depressed spirits would gradually produce slight aberration. Richie groaned over the three years inter vening between the present time and his majority. After a while came the new clergyman, and by degrees the young clerk learnt to trust him as a friend ; to know when he saw the long-faced iron grey jogging along that he carried a man whose pre sence was a blessing, one who never thought of ' my trouble, my pleasures ; ' who was more often seen in the lonely sawyers' hut away in the wide forest than in the heuses of the estated gentry. Going quietly on liis way through good repute and evil, aud perse cution has not died, even in tliis nineteenth century, ' they that will live Godly mast suffer persecution,' now as of old. Many an action and word were pre vented, many a false charge brought, yet he went on patiently, bearing and forgiving. It took a good wliile to understand such a character in Richie's case ; he liad seen, for years, nothing but the quibbles of low law ; had been, hi a minor way. engaged hi 'pulling' rogues 'through' the conse quences of their misdeeds ; had seen so much of the under current of life. Oh what a dark polluted stream it is down below, where the light of heaven is never reflected upon it, that trust had received a rude shock. Perhaps after all it was Esther Thorell, and not her father, who taught Richard Hellicar how much of his Master's likeness there was in a Christian. With the simplicity of a guileless nature, and th& dignity of a highly cultured mind and noble purpose, Esther united so much kindness, and was so selffor getful, that before very long Richard would walk from the school for a mile or two along the road 'with his hand on her pony's bridle, telling her his troubles at Mr. Heland's — telling of his mother and his absent brother ; and it was to her that he first confided tha^ the little nursemaid at Mount Hellicar was h-s sister. Sometimes Mr. Thorell, as lie jogged along 0:1 grey by her side, 'would join in the conversation, biu usually his bushy black brows were drawn toget.i-?-- and he was buried in thought. Those were peculiar browE, they contrasted so strongly with liis ^air and whiskers.

«Tg^melhiJig must be done,' eaid Caroline, when Esther told her. ' Yes, something must be done, poor little dear, returned the mother; but she looked up at her daughter. -i jiamma, wnen I was up there to tea the other evening, Mrs. Hellicar told me Mi68 Smithers was Koing away, and that she had had so much trouble with governesses, that she dreaded the thoughts of another. May I offer to teach the girls with our children ? We could pointedly ask for Ruth to ac company them, and you know they would hardly like to refuse.' ' No, no, my dear Captain,' Caroline had received that name years before, because some one said she ?would have been such a good soldier, ' you have more to do now than I like,' interposed the father. They were such a people for family counsels — nothing was done there alone. . 'But, papa, you know I would not mind the trouble.' She might truly say that. 'And if I took the writing and drawing,' put in 'Rptlipr So the father yielded, and in a few weeks those real Sisters of Mercy were engaged in their additional labours ; all unconscious of the vast moment their coming to the rescue had been to Ruth. For most ungraciously, she had been suffered to accompany the others. ? ?