Chapter 166694150

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Chapter NumberXIX
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article166694150
Full Date1862-02-22
Page Number2
Corrections0
Word Count2432
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleSydney Mail (NSW : 1860 - 1871)
Trove TitleWhich Wins? A Tale of Life's Impulses
article text

WHICH WINS?

A TALE OP XJFB'8 IMPULSEB.

BY ABIEL*

Chapter XIX.

Home's not merolv roof and room, — It need* something to endear it ; llomo is wbcrc the bran can bloom,— Where there's feomc kind lip to cbe r ii ! Cuxbi.es Swain. Thueb months passed. Hived a quiet kind of life in ay new position,— an eclipsed lUe, in which I had cait my own shadow between me and my sun, All

things on ita surface were clear and calm enough, but beneath was gloom and conflicting feelings that struggled incessantly. I kept watch in my walks for my mother, or the child to whom I had given Jumbo, and whom I steadfastly believed to be my sister, but caught no glimpse of either, I could make no en quiries, for I did not know by what name to call my mother, and could give no tangible description of her person, because, although I had seen her several tunes, I had always been too much agitated by the meeting to get a aescribable idea oi her appearance, I began almost to despair of achieving the ta*k of rescuing her since it seemed that I could find no point on which to take hold of it. It was evident that in the great crowded town there would be less likelihood of finding her than there was in remaining at the parsonage, and wailing until her affection should draw herirresistably to me again. Void and gasping with the dearth of love, oppressed with the dreary formality of my potiiion, my heart ached back to my old home moat wearily. Mr. Barrett's re proachful pale face looked upon me through the dreams of every night, and the thought of the fond old man, who had so tenderly cherished my defencelees childhood, and who was probably dying in lonely giieffor his lost darling became almost unbearably painful. 1 was fast sinking into the contemptible chsracterof one who, without decision to will or power to perfoim, clings yet with puny obstinacy to a purpose that is being dragged away by inexorable cir cumstance. I had not even the consolation of be lieving that I was right any longer ; for it seemed that I had choscn a bitter and thorny way. I had un scrupulously and knowingly infiictcd'agony on two besrts beside my own, for just the hope of doing an uncertain good to one for whom I entertained a romantic love, but who, by her own confession, had sever done me aught but wrong. That 1 should have wotked that good was very questionable, but now even the chance to try seemed taken out of my hands. Sol put the ewe now, and grew heartsick in con sidering it. Nothing but pride kept me from going home, confeeaing my fault, and entreating humbly for pardon and for renewed favour. Could I have gone in the character of a penitent child returning to its father, a few hours would have seen me happy, but that unmistakable letter of John liar, rrti's, that I had received on the night before I broke away, barred every thought of return. I could not fro back to him and say, M I refused to marry you wht-n I was en innocent girl, who had been trained in your own houtc and by your own care ; but now, whrn I have ldt it clandestinely — now, when I have walked thirty miles on a public road in disguise, — cow, when I have rested my delirious form' in the most crowded street in the city, a scoffing-point for all gazers, — now, when I have lain a month in a public hospital,— now, when I have been four months you know not where, occupied you know not how, companied you know not by whom, — now, when I may be contaminated by the sins tbkt go handin hand with sorrow in the city,— now, I come to you end retract that refusal. For my return can mean nothing else than that. And I give you as my reason the fact that I loved you so much dearer than my own life, or my own honour, that I risked both sooner than let you marry a nameless wife.' I knew no such arguing would be on bis lip or in his mind ; I knew just the imile and tender word with which I should be welcomed and reclaimed for ever. But my return would speak that, and my pride revolted at the language. Let me suffer for my mistake. I would not rectify it so. Thus miserably unstable was my mind, when the event of a moment gave me back hope, faith, and a decided purpose once again, I was crossing Market street to enter Pitt-street, when a woman came out of a shop a few doors before me, carrying a large parcel in her hand, and with a little child holding her skirt. The tall figure drew my eye at first, and then something in the position of the head awakened my memory. I hurried on, with a smothered hope that broke quite loose when I found that this was indeed my lost mothtr. And the child beside her was the one I had seen in the market-place, wbo, to make assurance doubly sure, carried, in her arms my little dog Jumbo, 1 was fearful of startling my mother by my abrupt appearance, and forced myself to walk behind her down Pitt-street, until she entered another shop, and came out with another parcel. She then retraced her steps, and I still followed, until, after passing up Market-street and through the fruit market, she at last entered a -little house a few doors up a very dirty lane in York-street. After a moment's hesitation. I knocked at the doer. It was opened by a dingy, impudent woman, who seemed as if she would shut the door in zny face when I inquired the name of the woman who had just gone in with a little girl. She demanded 41 'What business it was of mine?' very roughly, but the exhibition of a half crown altered her tone directly, and she said, 'It was just Mrs. EllysB, poor woman,' ?* Can I see her f ' I inquired, 11 If you'll get up them stairs, you can,*' and my informant vanished into a aide-room, from whence came a sickening steam and Btnell of soiled clothes. I groped my way up a flight of broken and dirty steps, and knocked at a door that was piuhed too at the top —not fastened, because it was divested of every means of doing so. The voice that cried 'come in' was mv mother's. ^ pushed open the door and entered the room. My mother stood at a little table, opening one of the par eels I had seen her carrying, and which, as I suspec ted, contained newly cut-out needlework. ( She did not turn her head towards me, but said, with a voice of sullen suffering, ' I got no money this time, Mrs. M'Neale.' I did not immediately answer, but looked round the miserable room. It was a low semi-garret, with a sash let into the sloping roof. Once, perhaps, tite walls might have been white ; once, pernaps, the window might have been glazed, but now what little of the plaster was left unfallen, was brown with age and smoke, and what part of the skylight was not open to admit light was patched with brown paper. Una sat on a box in one comer, playing with Jumbo, who sprang growling towards me, ( but stopped half-way with a laughably undecided air— his recollection was evidently imperfect. But the child knew me at once and ran to me, ' You are like a lady now/' she said, 41 but it was you that gave me my little dog.' I stooped and kissed her, and then turned to my mother who by this time stood facing me, u Mother, I have come home at last,' I said. ' Home,' she exclaimed, and pushed away my proffered caress, ' why have you left your husband's home to seek so sad a one as mine t ' ' My husband's home, my mother r So you thought I married John Barrett ! ' 44 Did you not, Isola. I knew well you loved him.' ' I have not seen him nor been in his home since the day I last saw you, mother; I shall never be in bis home again. I have been very ill, but now I am able to earn a living. Take me into your home.' ' Into such a home as this ? ' she inquired, point* ing round the dark room. *' I will find a better than this, mother dear,' I answered. ' Will you be daughter to such a worn woman as 1 am. sister to such a ragged little beggar as that r ' 'Una,' I said, turning to the little wondering girl, ' come and look at me, Una. Will you have me for a sister:' ' But you have got no curls,' the child said. 'I can soon make them,' and I threw my bonnet off and let down my hair. ' I don't think you are pretty,' ehe continued. I smiled at that ; ' not very, Una, at the best of times, and I have been ill. But is that an uncon querable objection r' ' I think,' she said, not noticing my remark, ' I think I like you better so, and you have got a sweet Toice, and I know you are good, for didn't you give me the little dog. But you must tell me your name, for sisters always call each other by their names, and you must kiss me — sisters always ought to— very much. Oh, and you must tell me the little dog's came, for he won't come at any I call him, the naughty thing. And you must not go away, and then I wul love you— love you— oh, so much.' The little one burst uto tears of joy, but I put her away and turned round. Another kiss was on my forehead; other burning tears fell on my face, and I held mv weening mother in my arms. Weak as I was.l carried ner with ease to the bed in the corner of the room and laid her there. I had found my mother, but in that moment I saw that there would be no long time for me to do the work 1 contemplated. The hand of death was upon her— strongly upon her : it had made fearful ravages In the last few months. She lay there gasping with strong excitement and cough ing a short sharp cough which I knew too well.

' Oh, mother,' 1 sobbed ; would that God had sent me to you tooner.' 'It was time enough, time enough, my darling child/' she said, stroking my face, and smiling sadly. 'I would like you, my dear one* to close my dead eyes and to protect the child ; but, for the rest, I have only drunk of the cup of tribulation which my own hand mixed. All my hard lot had been right eously appointed had it been thrice harder than it is.' ' You must not die, mother dear/' I said eagerly, ' if love arid care can keep you alive you shall not die. Oh no, we shall bejvery happy yet, my own mother.' ' My darling,' she sighea, and ahook her head. 11 But I would not be convinced. Oh, we shall see, mother. Put now I must run away, for I have much to do.' I went first to Mrs. Hume. Ifow bravely I trod through the streets. I felt as if life was worth some thing. 1 had got the mother for whese lore I had yearned from vcrv childhood, and not only so, but that little bright loving girl was my sister, mine to do what I liked with. Mine to love, cherish, work for, they were. I was no longer alone in the world. No wonder my feet sped to the time of those sweet and tuneful words— mother, sister. Nor had I miscalcu laud when I went to Mrs, Hume for aid ; she scarcely heard my tale before she began to act. ' Come this way with me,' she said, and took me down her back yard to a little two-roomed house at the bottom. '? Could your mtther and yourself live in thatr' 41 It is the very thing,' I answered ; u but'— ' Now, no * buts/ Miss Ellyea ; I hate hesitation. If it will do, it is at your service, rent free, for six months, and I can find sufficient furniture to fit it up decently, out of what is perfectly useless to me. I will have it cleaned out and arranged to-meht,' 1 began to thank her warmly, but she stopped me at once. ' Hush ! I hate unnecessary words. You must leave Mrs* Allen (the lady in whose employment I was) ; but perhaps she will let you keep her children as a day governess, and I think l have another friend who would be glad to employ you in the aame way. Let us go back to the house, and I will go and arrange it all at once. You can order the carriage while I dress. Then I can take you with me to tell 1 your own tale ; and, when all is arranged, you can I take me to see your mother and sister.** I found the whole management of the affair taken out of my hands by my kind friend ; and so promptly taken, that before three days were over I was mistress of a bright little home, in which my mother and sister were comfortably provided for. My mother still took in sewing— it pleased her to do so, but I managed to do most of it while I was at home, as well as to com mence educating Una. I had six pupils, thanks to Mrs. Hume's energetic exertions on my belialf, and these enabled me to keep my little family without hardship, though very economically. I was very happy ; I could almost think of my lost home and the dear ones there without pain ; and I had not now so many heart-weary fits as before.