Chapter 166695131

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Chapter NumberXXI
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article166695131
Full Date1862-03-08
Page Number2
Corrections0
Word Count2816
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 IA1B OF LIFE'S IMPULSES.

BT ARIEL.

Chapieb-XXL

heart lrftpt up at the dear presence only , Teat God, in night vlsiobs, doUt send ; But sweet to the heart of tbe ud and the bne'ir la the race of a ldnd old friend.' ANON,

oiszbr Isa, 1 to cpeaking to a gentleman to-day.' And toy pretty Una tuned up her bright blue eyes ij^ e COD^ut&d mass of figures that she called an addition sum, to Rep.e archly In my face, ''^11* dear, fhopo you spokfe properly to htm; but * hcr e did jou see m gentleman i ' for l had for bidden her toio alone to the head of the gateway by which we reached our humble home. Una's countenance fell directly, and vrith much confusion she confessed—' Please don't be very angry, lister ; but it was so sleepy and so dull in here this morning, nnd, whatever I did do, I couldn't make the horrid sum prove, and then I did grow so tired, ?nd. then 2 thought the sunshine outside was so pretty, and then Jumbo jumped and,barked all round me, and then— and then — ' ' You did what I bade you not, Una. and I am very _ ' I m #o sorry, lea,' the child said with a pitiful sigh. ' I don't think I would have gone, only I for got that you would be angry. But please,' with the meity look stealing back over her grave face, ' may I tell jou about tbe gentleman ' Well, well, idler.' 'I Was standing there quite quiet for a long time, looking at all the pretty dresses that the ladies wore, and thinking that I'd hare prettier ones than any of tbe m when. I grew to be a lady. Was that right, Jss r' ' Perhaps not, pussy ; but I thought it was a gen tleman you were going to chatter about, and here are cot only a tiumber of ladies but their dresses as well ; and not only that but y«ur own finery in perspective. An inexhaustible subject for an older mind than yours, little sitter. Suppose we rather choose be tween the gentleman and the sum.' ' Tfot the sum,' she cxclaimed with a pretty gri BiBco, and added, ' Mother says site thinks she knows who the gentleman is.' ' Who could it be but one who has a right to Bearch for you, Isola ?' my nr other remarked [ram her chair at the fireside, ' John lisnett ! Oh, no, it could not be ; I mu;t not even thinkofit. But tell me, Uua, how he came to speak to you, and what he said.' ' Why, Isa, when Jumbo ran out in the street, and I thought the big doge would bite him, 1 ran after to bring him back again. I didn't look, but ran straight across the path, and 60 a gentleman that was coming up street very quick, came against me and knocked nie down— that was him. well, I knocked my head hard, and I couldn't help crying, but 1 didn't want him to see me ; so I jumped up and was going to run away, only he held mo tight.' ' What did 'he say, you little gossip r' 'He said, ' Whose wild little girl ace you, ck r' and I thid, ' I'm my mother's little Una, and Ita's my new sister/ ' ' Concise,' I laughed. ' Well, and then ' He said, ' Have 1 hurt you i Let me look at youi face.' And when I looked up and laughed— I couldn't help it— he gave a little atart, and said quickly, ' Confound it I' (' he oughtn't to have said that,' apologized Una,) ' she's cot the very eyes that haunt me.' And then be looked grave, ana asked, 'Is your sister's name Barrett?' 'No, it ii'nt,' I

said. 'What is it then r' he said. And I told him it was sister Isa, and so he said I was a pretty child, and I had better go inside, for little girls ought not to run about the streets, and went away. Thai's all,' concluded Una. 1 drew a long breath before I asked what the gen tleman was ii^e. But Una had evidently been too much frightened by her fall to get anv accurate idea of his appearance, and I got nothing satisfactory from her confused description. For the next lew days I lived in a fever of hope, tenor, and perplexity. The only thing that wis clear was that some one who had known me had detected some likeness to me in the child's features, and made a guess at my identity. Who that some one was I could not clearly suppose. From the words Una re Seated, it wcula appear to be one of the Barretts, iut yet the rapid walk nor any one of my sister's points of description would be characteristic of John, and the words that argued an aflectio£\o myself i was not inclined to aEcribeio lienry. There was one other Buppotitlon, at which I saw my mother's eyes brighten, but of which I dreaded even the thought. My real father might easily have discovered the rela tionship to myEelf, and, though not perhaps so easily, he might also have discovered the fact of my mother's visits to St. Cuogereewonga, and might be in Beared of us, Should he find us, and attempt to assume authority over our little family, I saw clearly that my mother would he in no temper to resist such authority. But I— should I jield to it? I would tiamp back on the road to St. Cudgereewonga, and claim protection from the charity of John llarrett. No, euch an event would deprive me of my home and leave me motherless, eisterlees, friendless, aimless, hopeless, upon the world again. However. I could do nothing hut wait, and carefully prohibit Una from another appearance at the gateway. One or two evenings that I was detained from home until dusk, I fancied that a heavy footstep kept a pace behind me - too even for mere accident, but I could never bs »ure that I waB followed by anything but my own fears, and, as days passed on, they also ceased to trouble me, and 1 began to conclude that no result would follow Una's encounter, and that, whoever the gentle man might he, he did not mean to follow too closely the will-o'-tho wisp smile that had haunted him. Thus I was getting over hopes and fears alike, when one evening, about .ten days later, I had scarcely entered the icom and flung off my cloak, when Fanny, Mrs. Hume's housemaid, came running down the yard, and broke hastily in with, ' There's a gentleman to see you up at the house, MieB.' How my heart beat, but I answered quietly, ' A gentleman to see me, Fanny : What kind of a gentle man ?' *' Oh,' the giil said, with a laugh, ' a handsome young gentleman, miss.' That silly Fanny ! why need she break up my fond dream so hartlily r Well did I know that he whom I would rejoice to meet that night vias not either young nor handsome ; and X sighed to lose my hope, even while angry with my self for hoping. We weak women who love so fondly are ao foolish always. Do we hear of a noble deed which wins honour to the doer, and not picture our loved one as the man who needeth but opportunity to do likewise i Hear we of some sad untimely death without placing our loved one in the position of the lost one over whom others weep, and weeping also, not for the real woe but for our own ideal sorrow ? Take we an uncxpccted letter without a flutter of hope and a corresponding depression when that hope is disap pointed ? Hear we a knock at tbe doer without a vehement endeavour to forcc upon ourselves the be lief that it is just the knock that one does orshonld give f Oh, women ! weak, self-deceiving woman ! torn your thoughts elsewhere; be self-reliar.t, nor seek so vainly to lean on broken reeds. Be ambitious — for money, for position, for fame, for real useful ness, but never, never, as you value the happiness of a (ingle day, never be ambitious to be lovea as you can love. Tush, silly trifler 1 if you have no other point on which to turn your energies, recollect that men are i-ot eq helpless ; they care for you very well in your presence, but they find for your absence suffi cient fcclace in business or in study. They will not

pine for your love, be sure, tttougn it oe proved, trica, refined by ever so many midnight files of agony, by ever so many floods of hopeless tears. Weil, I went to Mrs. Hume's drawing-room. I laid my hand falteringly upon the handle of the door, I entered, end I stood face to face with Henry Barrett. 'So, Isola,' he said gravely, yet not coldly, for all my bitter thoughts. To my gi cat disappointment was added. the sorrow of seeing that time had not wiped my luckless memory from this man's mind. . 'Henry, I sm glad to see you,' I said, and tried to smile a confirmation of my words. 'And I, Isola, am glad to see you, though I might be more glad if your .eyes were lefs heavy and your cbceks not quite eb pale.' I laughed at that ; I was no girl to pine over faded checks and eyes. ' We will talk less of my lost charms,' X said, 'since clearly we both admit that they are lost, and talk a little more of more serious things.' . 'No, bjit,' he exclaimed, catching my resistless hands, and looking into my face, ' I at least must talk » little first; not of ? your charms, which can Sever be lost,' he smiled faintly there, ' but of your ealth, which seems at least likely to be. Are you ?will, iolat' ; -I looked his gS7-e buck boldly, How was it that hfc always provoked my defiance. 'Never better,' 1 'arid Slowly ( '1 had a fever months back,- that withered both roses and smiles, and my life has been too stem since to let them grow again. But nor ?mlles%6r'r0tes %re -needful in this world, I find ; I can yrejvitbopt them. And your' 'No; yofi,' he answered quickly; 'I have not

finished my examination yet. Mentally, are you well:' ' 1 am. You turn inquititor with little ceremony, Henry, but I do not fear to meet your questions, 1 repeat I never 'was better in all my life. In my child hood and girlhood, John, you and Nature were my teachers, and r^ght good earnest, and kindlj' teachcn jcu were. But in my womanhood God liimself has taken up tho 'lesson, and forced tty eret upon it by the iron power of ahsolatenecessity. A stern teacher and a hard lesson, Henry, hut the pupil undoubtedly benefits by it,' * Slowly he let my h?.ndj fall, slowly resumed hia Eeat.sajing with patient sadness, ' And I havo lost you.' 'Nay,' I exclaimed hastily, ' let us not resume that topic. Or rather, Henry, let me speak to the end. When you did not get a certain wife you wanted, was it therefore incumbent oa you to oat away, for that reason, i loving sister and a faithful friend f Mutt you have juat the very bond for which jou wished, or none at all J Must I be to you of ilrat worth or most utterly worthless ? I got no answer, but a bitter smile to that, but im pulsively I grew bolder, laid my hand oa his, knelt bj his side, that I might belter search his downciat ejes, and continued, 'lam very lonely and I need a sympathiser; I am friendless and want a friend, on many points I am ignorant and' require an adviner. Be you all these to me.' He stroked tny head in the old way, but I was ready to shake it off, for that same caress had been a common one with a dearer hand, and it was like a dcsccration to me. Bull controlled my impatience for the sake of the point 1 wanted to gain. ' Poor child,' he Kaia kindly. 'Will you be rny brother r' I questioned eagerly. ' Yes, Isola was the slow answer ; 'since Imty not take a better right I will be to you «U that the moat faithful brother could be.' I rose, hesitated a moment, and then beat oyer him as he was still sitting, end kissed tali forehead. 'That is the seal of my sisteihood,' I said. 'And shall I teal my brotherhood so?' lint I shook my head and retreated to a chair, tnd we were { neither of us inclined to force any mirth, ' And what have you been doing t' 'Thinking of you, sister.' ' AU tbeee ten months? Not you. I have seen you in the streets, and your step was as brisk, jour eye as steady, your head as erect, as though no woman lived* in all the world wonky of your thoughts. ' Um 1' he questioned drily ; ' you'd have a man hang liis head, droop his eyes, drawin his mouth, and saunter on his duty, because he was thinking of a uoman. A strange requirement to mike lor your sex, you most thorough woman.' '.No, but tender thoughts make tender gestures,' ' said I. ' Tci.cJpr, sentimental nonsense !' he exclaimed. ' It is not natural that affection should produce tuis enervating, sentimental idleness that you women call tenderness. Love naturally energises, awakens our best powers, puints them to the nublus* objecls, inspires their action, and leads them to sure con quest.' 'Bravo, brother,' I laughed : '* you'll not die for love, 'tis clcar.' 'Laugh, Isola, if it pleases you, yet my theory is right. I have been working hard; I belicre tucceas fully— I am sure righteously.' ' Working at what »' ' Love's work, Isola, but love's hardest drudgery. I have been turning into the light of Goi's blessed

sun the refuse of humanity, that never knew its light before, teaching old lips that knew no words but curses that God made lips for blessing ; teaching husbands not to muider wives with blows; teaching wiveB not to gall husbands with words more stinging than blows; teaching parents to guide their children aright ; teaching children to follow their parents ; lifting the Scriptures out of the mud ot superstition and indifference, and striving to set them in the light ] of a living faith : failing in most cases, succeeding perfectly in very few. That has been my life.' 1 felt uneasy ; all this was noble and good, but I missed something in his words and manner. I felt intuitively that he had not lain so gently in a Saviour's ancs as Iliad done, and that he had been toiling at a giant's work with none but a child's most feeble strength. But I could not argue then ; I ouly said, ' God help you in such a glorious work.' ' And arc you alone as I am ?' he asked, after a silence. 'No, n't alone,' I answered. And from the moment ol my departure from the paisouage I left no action of my life untold to him in the ule that fol lowed. When I finished— ' You, too, have worked,' he said, ' egainst a hard current. Hut now I must sec your mother and that pretty little riBtcr. Your brother must not be un known nor uselei-B to them. And then I must let John know that his little Isola is found.' 'No, no, and thrice over no. Hint at that again, and in twentv.foui hours you shall not yourself know where to find me. I will not be chascd, captured, and shut up again in the cage of your brother's charity. 1'iomiic me, give me your word that he shall never bear n.y name from your lipn.' I don't think he was sorry to promise, nor sorry to think in his innermost eoul that he alone Bhould be my protector hcnccfortn. And I was willing enough that the prestige of bis presence ant^nilucnce should be found in my little borne. But, further, I waB firm that his protection should not go ; I had ao thought of choosing rather the chaiity of Henry than John Barrett. ____