|Newspaper Title||Sydney Mail (NSW : 1860 - 1871)|
|Trove Title||Which Wins? A Tale of Life's Impulses|
A TALK OF LIFE'S IMPULSES.
It wsa «B a spring evening, early in my nineteenth year, that the fitsi trouble came upon me, After thai nil was wildnf bb und confusion, and if I fail in unra velling the turmoil and making my tale distinct to your comprehension, I pray you bear gently with me. I vu not myself during the year that followed; it -a» not the proper cptrifof Isolt thtt worked within
?je§ out aometning lar more poweriul. I usea, as it -*ere, to stand aloof and speculate on the consequences of my own actions a»if 1 boie no more interest in (hern than that of a more curious spectator. I sat at the parlour window thatevening muting a little sadly. Olave had just gone home, for she had been with me to give vent to a frtsh complaint, and it had needed |J1 my effort! to soothe her into quietness, from one cf the bunts of uncontrolled passion to which she was daily yielding more easily. Diverted of the misguided Birrs flourishes of pathos, the quarrel appeared to have been on vo trivial a aubj- cl as to provoke my laughter. It sums thut Olave was seated at the piano, in her mother's immaculace drawiug.raom, working out bit fay bit *omt- one of her own wild musical flights, when, In the middle of a delicate variation, in a flu min ,r key, her mother entered the room, und, detecting come particles of her greatest abhorrence, dust, laid titr hand heavily on O sharp, an octave below the basp clef. Of course the effect of the variation was rpoiled, and Olave looked up savagely. Mrs. Lysthor fccolded about the dust, OUve was not backward in retorting, and at last, striking the piano in her paswon, the blow fell so heavily as to snap the Btringa of both O natural and C sharp in the treble. ' The two notpB which must occur in all pieces of music, Isolu. What am I to do ? There'U be no tuner round for the next six weeks, and I can't go to the piano in its present state— it would drive me mad. It's all mamma's doings, every bit.' ' Indeed,' I uttid, ' I thought you told me that it was yourself struck the instrument.' ' 'Yes, of course; but if mamma hadn't provoked roe 60 much beyond all bearing, I should no*, have done it you know.' ' Well,' I answered to this ; ' in my opinion the larger share of the blame lies with yourself. But, eny wty, you are quite welcome to come and use my (llano at any time you like.' 'Thank you, my dear, but—' and elie argued skil fully to persuade me that she was an innocent and much. abused actor in the little disagreement re courted above. When L unconvinced by all her eff --'t, dwelt strongly on the last mandate of the first tablet that Motes brought from Mount Kinni, she *etimd inclined to quarrel with even me, had it not been that her budget of news was still productive, and she wished to dUburthen it. So, postponing the iD.jrieasanl topic with a curt, ' Well, after all, what jou think don't much matter,' she introduced another in the same breath, ' What do you think ; Mr. Alvem'scomine.' 'I'm willing ; but pray, my dear girl, who is Mr. Alvonir' _ ' Charles Alvern, Esq., eldest eon of Sir Oliver AIvctt), of Cavaneboy Park, Cornwall.' ' Just go : and what may bring thin dignified gen tf1**YTinn in flin fituof Hnncn if T m*«» fiulr i'*
fine shook her heavy curls round her f»ce, bent her head a little, and tried to look demure'. Mat a latent dash in her eyes and an insensible rising of her upper lip belied the effort. She answered quickly, ' 1'iie love ol Olave Lysthor ;' then lowering her voice to a mocking drawl, letting the eye flash and the lip cull freely, nhe tapped with her lett forcllngei on the palm of her right hand, and to kept time to a kind of chant, ' Or — else— tie— love— of— the — heiress of— Tonncgh.' 1 eaid in a previous chapter thai I had detected the dawning love of OJave for Henry. I had since tint moment witnessed its progression in silence ; 1 had known the purport of her ready obedience to his oft severe desires, of her unwonted humility in his pre sence, of her unconcealed joy at chary praise and as unconcealed drooping at his disapprobation. I had watched in quiet, and hoped that some day he too would pee it and appreciate the value of such an affection. And now was come a crisis, and for those ? two some emphatic life-step must be taken, which could never be recalled. No words of explanation -on the subject had ever passed between n^. ??u:, m- if U;ey had, I grasped her hand impuK.vdy. ar,.i faltered, ''?' Olave, you will nersr mirelv it,t him come !' She looked at me in amar.ement. ' You little sim pleton, of course I will. Let him come and woo the estate of Tonneeh to his heart's content, if it pleases him. So little do I value it that I would I might throw it down to him as I would throw a bone to get rid of a dog who was fawning upon m * to ob tain it. But because Olave Lysthor and 1'onaegh are bound together, and I cannot give myself on the 6ame conditions, he will not get it unices I first die.' '' Oh,' I said, comprehending for the first time who the gentleman really waB, ' Cnarles Alvern is ycur cousin, then f ' 'Yes ; it seems he has bten in Australia for many yeirs, nearly all my life-time, buc never thought it worth while to make his presence known until he thought the heiress was old enough to be wedded. Oh, out I'll teach him to make sucb cool calculations again in a hurry?' ' Hut,' I said, venturing a very reasonable suppo sition, ' you mi?ht like him when you see him.' 'Like him!' She sprang up with her own peculiar glide, and stood confronting me with her great eyes brimmed, but no tear falling. ' No, Iscla ; the only man I ever loved — and I love him so much that my heait is dead to any other — has tied all his twpes of happiness upon you. I never blamed you, I cave no tight to reproach you : if you give him bliss I will bless you ; but, love any other ? Isola, if you would net drive me mad, forget such a thought, and — do not dare to pity me.' She -was gone; I followed her. but only reached the gate in time to see her disappearing figure on her homeward path. I went back to the drawing-room window and sat there for a long time, my face pressed egainst the pane, and my eyes wandering vaguely over the scene without. It was beautiful, very beautiful ! The last rays of the sunset were slanting in among the trunks of the dark belt of trees in the east, nuking bright glory tiaths through its denseness. and tipping with even a brighter glow the blazing clumps of yellow rmimoea that glittered among its foliage. Nearer to me were e31 the bunting spring blooms in perfection ; the peach in all its shades of blush, the pure plum, and the jhingled green and white pear-blossom, with the pale fcudB of the oak and acacia. tt was beautiful, but my thoughts were cot with txy eyes that night, and I sickened at the loveliness. I aver that, untS that moment in which Olave spoke so abruptly, I had never conceived one idea of Henry's attachment to myself. And yet, while she vae speaking, I knew that it was even as she said. There came trooping through the portals of memory unnumbered vision of past moments in ray life which Lad brought no meaning with them at their coming, but ef which the one hour was the clear interpreter. I saw that from my childhood there had been love for me in the soul of Henry Barrett. I leant there vcak and distracted. I, who the day before had held myself innocent of any injury to any living thing— I it was who had been the means of planting a cor roding sting in the heart of my only friend, and, as unconscious as I had been in inflicting it, so helpless ' vas I to remove it. And at if that grief were not enough to overwhelm me, I found that, sooner or later, I must give a stab with my own unassisted hand to the hopes of the noble mind that had grown up side by side with my own. For I searched my celf careluUy, and I saw that, whatever might per chance have been, there was not now in me one spark of other than sisterly love to Henry llarrelt. Sooner or later — but I thought not how soon. There was a epiinging step, a hand upon the door, and he I never dreaded until now stood beside me. I looked up for cpe moment, then turned trembling to the window, to hide the face I could not even trust in that shadow, lie threw himself on a couch, and for a moment or two was silent ; then, speaking clearly and cheerfully ee he always did, he remarked— 'There u but two years until I shall be old enough (ct ordirjation.' I muttered that I was glad for bis sake. 'I know you are,' he said. ' Isola, my thoughts have been running on a queer subject to-day — not a fresh one, by any means— but still, as they have re turned to it, I should like your opinion with regard to it.' 'Wellf' '' It has lone been an opinion of mine that a clergy man cannot fulfil the duties of bis calling in an effi cient manner without a wife : she gives him powers ithlch no single man can possess.' Ho spoke in a manner to matter of fact that at «bj- other time I should have laughed heartily. I luarie an effort to do so now, and demanded, ' What thtnr
'That such a wife should be a help-meet fir him, not one who wDHld maim his efforts. She should be gentle in hpait but energetic in manner ; earnest and truthful : *he thould be a good housewife, ar.d yet a lady; One able to command, and yet willing to yield.' ; . . . ' She would be difficult to find,' I remarked. ! ' I mean to have such a wife.' With a sort of questioning deepness in the tone, as he half rose and tiRU-d his bead oh his hand, and that on the «of» pillow. I msde no answer. I was trying to govern my voice for word 6 that must be spoken presently. He continued : 'I have found her ; I ? know she is what I think her, for it has been my life's task for rooiiths to watch her, and at last I come to her and say. ' Isola, be my *ife.' ' He hsd my hand in his j he was standing beside me; he was bending to imprest the kite that should be the seal of possession. Then I stood up, leaving my hand in his clasp without a struggle, and facing him full, looking into his clear dancing eyes. I did my cruel duty. I struck with one word—'1 No !' He looked bewildered and strange, end repeated quesiioningly, ' Jfo, Isola?' II No, Henry.' Then he sat down in the first chair, still looking full at me. The blow had gone fearfullv home ; he was white, and I saw his firm lip quiver.' He spoke presently in a more subdued voice, ' I have been pre sumptuous, I fear, Isola. This has grown to be so much the tingle determination of my soul that I fear I did not sufficiently consider that you also had a voice in the determination. And so I have spoken to jou too harshly and precipitately. Maidens love to be wooed with song and smiles and constant atten. tions, and you do justly to your sex, Isola, to refuse rue when I say bluntly to you 'Be my wife.' But do not, I brseech -ou, carry your severity to extremes for my fault. See here ; I am a man who never before dealt in any other than grave earnest, and I am ready to enter upon any apprenticeship for your favour that you please, lie merciful, Isola ' I fcighed. ' 'Tib useless, Henry ; I cannot love you. Let this end ; it only pains us both, and it is worst* thsn useless.' I hunk, faint with the struggle, into my chair. ' Yuu mean that:' he demanded, cruel with the prcPFure of his own agony. ' I do.' ' You hate me, then }' ' No. Henry ; as I loved you before, I love you now. Let us be to each other what we have hitherto been, hearty friends ; and let OS forget this sad hour if we can.' I held out my hand, but he turned from me in anecr. ' No, Isola ; I judge you by yonr deedB, and they argue only hatred ; we can never again be as we have been. He went from me unforgiving, and I was Kgain alone. The night came down over me and my great agony, and I wept my eyes dry of tears and yet remained comfortless. I sought my grandfather for rest, but I could not tell him all my woe ; Olive's secret must remain unveiled but by herself. That night my light heart went out of me, and one that weighed like lead, and yet felt hollow and empty, was left in its Btcad.