Chapter 169146341

See chapter in newspaper

Chapter NumberXXXI (Continued)
Chapter Title
Chapter Url
Full Date1927-06-22
Page Number32
Word Count3949
Last Corrected2019-04-27
Newspaper TitleSydney Mail (NSW : 1912 - 1938)
Trove TitleSons of the Seven Mile
article text

Sons of the Seven Mile

An Australian Novel of Country and City Life

By Zora Cross

CHAPTER XXXI.— (Continued)

LITTLE r^oices within her and little voices without seemed saying: 'Gipsy, sing as you have never suns before. Gipsy, for the sake of all the Aus tralian girls who have f failed in Sydney, as. in London and elsewhere, sing?-and win! Control that breath! Oh, take it wisely and calmly! Remember! Keep your strength for the end. Gipsy, win, win, win, for the sake of the thousand failures. You must!' So she urged herself as- the .song proceeded,, so she urged herself till it 'ended, and she stopped and waited

by the piano. But she did not wait long. Tessa and her father weie exclaiming together. 'Bravo! Bravo!' said the Signor. 'Better than ever! Fuller — richer! Wonderful!' He drew her towards him, and, as if Gipsy had been his own daughter, congratulated her. Then he turned to Tessa 'Well, what do you think of it?' --? 'Oh, Daddy,' she said, 'it's just the loveliest voice I've ever heard. Miss Farney, won't you please sing something else?' ... ,'Yes, indeed she will,' Signor Foleri said, beginning to sort some music. Gipsy kept her head and her heart steady. She had never spoiled herself by showing any conceit about her voice. The Signor . selected ?

Delilah's song. - 'Can you do this,' 'Yes.' Hp was charmed with her. 'Goodness me!' he said, 'that's ?astonish- ingly good. I don't thinjk you should go into thejchorus.' 'But I want -to learn, Signor. I want to know all about the stage, and it is as important to know about chorus work as 'principals' work fpr an opera.' ?'. 'It is, indeed. All right,' he said briskly. 'Now, 1 wonder if we . can; get Otway in, Tessa?' 'I'll ring him if you like, dear,' she said. 'Do, dear.' Gipsy did not know who Otway was, but she was very soon to Jearn. Tessa rose and left the room, and soon she heard the girl's voice inquiring for a tele phone number. Gipsy and the Signor were alone. 'You've been strug

gling, my child,' he said, looking at her with his grave, kindly eyes. 'But I think you're going to ' win. .. In fact, I'm sure, you are, and I'll do all I can for you.' 'Thank you,' she said, meeting his eyes in grati tude. He did not recall the past, nor did she. He did not even ask after anyone in Hillborough, since he saw that to mention even her father would be trespassing on holy ground with her. The girl was fighting for those she had left behind. She had made some sacri fice in coming out into the world like this. If he could help her to victory lie -would. He had heard one or two rumours about the quarrel that she and her lover had had over her riding out with him. He re membered that,, though not for the world would he have mentioned it. It was buried with his own past, and that was dark. The future be could brighten for her. 'Mr. Otway, father — quickly,' Tessa said. The Signor answered the telephone. He did not seem to speak many words, and returned almost at once, and said, as he rubbed his hands: 'Well, our luck's in. Otway's just on his way to the theatre, and he'll drop in here and hear you sing on his way.' Gipsy's heart began to bound and race again. 'Who is Mr. Olway?' she asked. Tessa and her father laughed, and Tessa said: 'It is quite certain, Miss Farney, that you do not belong to Sydney when you ask who Mr. Otway is.' 'I'm afraid I'm very ignorant,' Gipsy said. 'Mr. Otway has the power to make or break any 'girl's stage ? singing career,' the Signor said. 'But we are very old friends, and I don't think he will do any . thing but make yours.' ? : Gipsy was now excited. 'Signor,' she said, 'you must, please, not introduce me as Gipsy Farney, if you do not mind. When I left Hillborough I changed my name to Antoinette Goreli. May I be introduced under ' that name?' i; 'Certainly — and a very good name, too.' ,;'?? 'He will think you are Italian, but if he wants . you to sing in Italian I'll give you lessons,' Tessa said, for she had taken an immediate liking to this girl, who had. so frankly told her and her father all about ??'. herself.' '''''Thank you,' Gipsy said. .?: *?'? Another pupil came before Mr. Otway arrived, and f T.es_sa took Gipsy out to the waiting-room, where they

waited ' for the ? great, man. He was there almost at once. ?? _ i ' ? ; The Signor had not finished his pupil's lesson, but he did not keep Mr. Otway waiting for a moment, 'Come upstairs to the drawing-room,' he said, and, leaving his pupil to practise for a few minutes, he led Otway upstairs, while Tessa and the nervous Gipsy followed. But Gipsy was not nervous when her trial began. Once again sh« summoned those hosts of courage, once again she sang for the glory of all those who had failed, and once again the result was the same. 'Fine — fine! By Jove, yes — fine!' Mr. Otway said. He was a short, bald-headed little man, but his face was fresh and pleasing. He was in such a hurry that he got up to leave at once, and was talking even while he was moving towards the door; and once again Gipsy felt crestfallen, thinking that that was all there would be to it. A great theatrical manager would tell he:1 her voice was flue, and there it would finish. - But- she was mistaken. Even while he was moving away he was writing out a card for her. Signor ? Foleri went away with him, and Tessa and Gipsy were left alone.

'Oh!' Gipsy said, in disappointment. Tessa cried: 'I've never known him to be so enthusiastic. I've never heard him say any voice was fine before. You'll be in the chorus at once, if you want to be; but you may get a small part, which will be better, though I'd advise you to get some experience first.' They waited for a moment longer, and then the front door closed and they heard a car move away. Then the Signor's cheery voice called up the stairs; 'Bring Miss Farney down, Tessa.' The Signor held a card in his hand. 'You've to present that at the theatre at half-past ten to-morrow,'- he said. 'See how easy it is.' 'Oh, thank you,' Gipsy said, taking the card from his hand. On it was written: 'Report at theatre half past ten to-morrow morning. — Otway.' It was Gipsy's passport, her magic passport to the world behind the footlights — that world which she was now to enter, and in which she was to 'struggle so bravely, 'How can I thank you, Signor?' Gipsy said, seiz ing his hand and holding it in hers impulsively. 'How can I? Oil, I'm going to work — to work and work; and one day I'll make them all proud of me.' 'I don't doubt it. Now I've to get back to work. Tessa, some coffee for Miss Farney before she leaves. Good-bye.' 'Oh, not good-bye, Signor,' Gipsy said. 'I'm coming at once for lessons, if. I. may. I want to learn all the grand opera scores backwards. Teach me, please.' He smiled. 'Certainly.'' Then he said 'Good-bye,' and went hack to his work. 'Miss Foleri, I'm not going to impose upon you any longer,' Gipsy said. 'But, please,' pleaded Tessa. 'I should just love you do.' Gipsy went home to practise her songs and go to bed early, so as to be fresh for the morning. Little she knew Grace Markham was sleeping at no great distance from her-, and Grace would be at the theatre in the morning. And Grace was there and Grace did speak to her, 'and actually greeted her as Gipsy Farney. Gipsy de clared lier name was Antoinette Corelli, and as Grace

\vas moved to Melbourne shortly alter their rncet:n'7 Grace' had no chance of making sure. She wrote a disappointing letter to Ruth, telling her she believed she had met Gipsy Farney, but. was a little doubtful. Ruth could not, therefore, either go to the girl's aunt or mother wilh news of her. So the months fled on. while Ruth prepared for Jane's wed ding, and the mystery girl of the Seven Hills and Seven-Mile — Gipsy Farney — remained unfound. CHAPTER XXXII. 'Why doth the dawning speak of her? | What kindred hath she with the morn? - f Why should, my wakening thoughts transfer 1 To her the glow in Orient born? \ I only know thai wheresoe'er Awaketh Beauty, she is that.' \ — Brunton Stephens. CARRIE'S wayward husband had left his bullocks I at the creek and had ridden home slowly, his ( dog at his heels, fearing to leave his home-corn- j ing any later. It was useless to pretend that he was j not ashamed of himself, and that he was not dodging j the trouble he expected from Carrie, for her I

tongue could be bitter, and had often in the past made his head ache. He knew that he de served all. lie would get, and he meant to take it silently. He preferred the noisy to the sftent, grim Carrie, who just looked at him as if she could not un derstand. He was well aware that there was but one cure for him, and that was so simple that he never took it. He had | only to leave Red Mor- ! gan, and stay at home | with Carrie and work ] beside his boys, and he | would very soon lose a % habit which had been $ with him from earliest | manhood, and before i-. that. I' Out of sheer bravado, fl and not because he liked either the companions or what the hotels had to offer him, he had ac quired the habit. But il I was of secondary impor

tance now beside an another. He wanted to tell Carrie about the money he received every month. He had kept it from her for so long now tli at he was afraid to tell her. He always meant to give her the surprise, but he met either Red Morgan or one of the others, and when the money was spent he dared not mention it. Carrie, too, had always been difficult to manage — 'unlike a horse.' as he often put it himself. Carrie's soul, up to the present, would have shri velled at the very idea of prying into her husband's private matters unless he gave her his confidence. She had accepted a man who was at least supposed to have a past, and she accepted him, past and all. He was the father of the brood she loved. To her he seemed to have neglected them. She could not. But neither' could she force him into a sense of duty. She had tried every | method, from hitting him with a broom and sweeping a him from the bouse — actions that belonged to their early 1 married days, when the children were all small and I troublesome, and her nerves unstrung — to the grim atti- 1 tude of to-day, which was one of indifference, because i the children had practically been taken off her hands I by Ethel, and she met Arnold on equal ground, more f as man and man than woman and man, since she did | more to keep the family than lie did. I ARNOLD knew all this. The night, covering him as | he rode, was a gentle healing thing of soft blue, I sprinkled about with stars that were brighter than |)| the eyes of women. The tall trees leaned up, reaching |j towards those stars. Arnold was something like one 1 of them. He was reaching up to a star, and to him Uie 1] star was Carrie. Out of a hell of self-pity and self- Jj abasement, that he]] deeper than the dire seventh of IS ' bitter man hells, Carrie had drawn him with white little 11 warm hands of love. 1] Arnold hung his head. Those little white hands, it those arms that were then slender as lily stems, were * II now hard and brown, and thick and strong as his own, gj and more so. I! He had done (his, and it was a grief to the man that I! came upon him in moments like this as he rode home II to her — 'after a spree,' as Red Morgan, for whom lie 1] drove the team, pronounced it. I He had let Carrie begin io cut wood with her own I] hands to keep the children when they had been mere I infants, and he had been smashed up in the row at Ken- I] nedy's hotel, which resulted in two weeks' hospital for I] him. I]

Carrie had not spoken to him lor three weeks after lie came home, but she had been good to him. Good? She had hovered silently as a spirit about him, a spirit that was born and bred in the great lone bush among the firm saplings and gaunt grey gums. He had rewarded her by keeping from her not only the knowledge of the money lie received, but the source whence it came. Now his father was dead, and there was a considerable sum of money to come to him. Perhaps, if he gave this to Carrie eternal peace would be between them— peace and forgiveness ; and she would take him back to those arms and that breast whence he had been driven by his own mad folly. He saw her waiting for him at the slip rails, and his heart misgave him. Usually she did not do this. When he had pre viously returned after an absence of three days, as he was returning now, she took no notice of him. Sometimes she looked ud from her bills or her orders, but it was always coldly. He had forced a man's work into Carrie's hands, and she had taken it from him, carrying it out successfully. But Carrie had had to make a mother of Ethel, who took over her womanly domestic duties from her. Would Carrie reproach him to night in the old way? It was a thing he always dreamed of happening, for there were occasions, even lately, when 'she kicked up hell,' as he reported to Red Morgan, and threw him out, and that was easier to bear than her silence. JJE reached the slfprails, and he pulled up Iiis horse. 'Well. Carrie,' lie said 'I believe you're going to kick me out. Are you?' For answer she let down the slipraiis, and he rode through and dismounted, standing like a boy playing with his bridle rein, while before lie could do it for her she closed the rails again. 'I'm only glad to see you,' she replied, unlike herself Then the moon came out from behind a cloud, and he saw her in the lavender silk dress, the old nugget brooch at her throat, and a black velvet ribbon, her hair bound with a ribbon, loo. Had she dressed herself like that to meet him? Had he been misunderstanding Car rie? Was she, behind everything, just the girl who loved him still? He could not believe it. Love had died between them— slain by his own cruelty. She had often told him she haled him, and he had snarled at her— he, who would hardly snarl at a dog. If she only knew how much he loved her! And she was thinking then: 'if lie only knew how much I love him!' He stood regarding her quietly. She had not dressed herself for him. May had asked her to put on the dress, and to please the children she had completed the toilette, as she might have dressed herseir for some old-Ume ball. She was ready for such, all except evening shoes and a fan. The airy ballroom about them, crickets for orchestra, they might have danced just as they were. ? She had meant to receive him angrily to-night, but Ann Farney's visit had sof tened her. Carrie was always ashamed of her hysteria and rage and sulkiness, for she could call it nothing else, when she thought of Ann. Carrie was strong in a gripping, physical, powerful way, but Ann's mind and soul made her strong, and sorrow had brought her restraint. Carrie looked at her husband, submis sively resigned to him. 'Are you dressed like that for me, Carrie?' he asked. 'For whom else would 1 be likely to dress ?' 'Carrie!' He let his hands droop de jectedly, longing to take her in his arms. But he was too thoroughly ashamed of himself to touch her. 'Where've you been?' she asked. She shook her head at him. She wanted to be gentle, to make him tell her about the envelopes without a quarrel. And it was difficult to be tactful, for she was a mas rerful woman, used to ruling with a loud tongue and a hard hand rather than a soft word and a gentle smile. 'Aren't you ashamed of yourself?' He kicked a stone with the toe of his old boot, and he replied softly in the voice of a child, 'I've got a confession to make, Carrie.' She was irritated at the display of his weakness as he played with his bridle reins, nervously flicked at his finger-nails, and seemed half afraid of her. To-night everything was harder. Though she was almost a big woman now, though not tall, she had pulled herself into the lavender silk dress she wore that night at the shire dance, when Ethel, almost a child then, had cried because she could not go and had to mind Beat and May. The ribb.on on her hair reminded Arnold of the girl Carrie that he had kissed out side Wilson's barn, and chased through the yard for a second kiss. Under a pear-tree white with blossoms he had caught her, and their kisses had been

mingled with the falling snow of the pear blossom petals. It was spring-time, and they were of the spring then. 'Well, wliat is it, Arnold?' she asked. pERHAPS the soothing night more than the memories Ann had brought her that afternoon calmed her and gave her command of herself and her tongue, that would have told Arnold many bitter things had she allowed it to do so. Near them the wattle grove that gave their selection its name was still yellow in blossom, for spring, which comes so hesitatingly in Australia, lingers and for gets to go until late in summer. In Ethel's garden, which was in front of the house, spring flowers were blooming, though they had felt the summer kiss of fiercer days to come. 'I'm afraid it'll mean a trip to Sydney for us both.' She was startled. 'A trip to Sydney?' she cried. 'My father has died, and he has left me some money. I don't — I am afraid to touch it myself. I'd like us both to go and get it, and for you to take it, Carrie, and — and keep it, and do what you like with it, just — just to make up for what I haven't given you.' When she had recovered from the sur prise of his words she caught his trem bling hand and held it in hers as if she had been a mate of his, as if he had been a mate of hers who had offered to do her a good turn. 'You know I'd never consent to that,' she said. 'How much money is it? And why must you go to Sydney?' 'Tiie solicitors are there. I don't know how much it ? is ' exactly, but a couple of thousand pounds, I 'think:' 'Two thousand pounds!. Arnold!' She was swept off her feet. 'Will it — will it — will it make up some thing, my girl?'1 A mist clouded her eyes. 'I don't want anything made, up, Arnold,' she replied, and she spared him the agony of saying: 'No money could give me back the youth you took away in tears and anxieties and heartaches 'and troubles.' Instead, she straightened up the back that was inclined to stoop, and a great flood of hope swept over her. That big brood down there ir. the house could have a chance now. ? Necessities for the selection could be . bought,, the home stead renovated and added- to, more land adjoining Wattle Grove bought, the stock replenished and increased.. May sent, to. school for a -while, ?ponies bought -for the children to ride to/ school, a new buggy and harness, a; harvester, new separators; and many other things needed, besides pigs and poultry. Two thousand pounds was a fortune! And it might be more money than that. Arnold suddenly caught her other hand and drew her round to him. Poverty makes for sorrow, riches bring their own romance. Hardship, perhaps, draws human beings closer when they share them, but relief from hardships ' brings back the roses of youth and the rapture of dreams and hope again. And Love — Love may breathe again where there is leisure to let him dream, which is Love's entire existence. 'Kiss me, Carrie,' Arnold said, 'and forgive me just once more. I— I can't pro mise to do anything but try. If you'll stand with me I'll win through, I believe.' She checked any further utterance, tak ing the blame of things, woman-like, to herself. She laid upon his lips the sacred kiss of her forgiveness, and they talked of the legacy and of his father as they walked down arm-in-arm to the homestead. 'My father was a shopkeeper,' he said. 'I came out here on a visit to see my uncle in Victoria, because they thought I'd be cured. I wasn't. I got worse, and didn't go back. For a time I was allowed some thing every week. Then when I wouldn't come home to help in the shop my father stopped my allowance. The business im proved, and a few years ago he began sending the allowance again. I didn't tell you at first, and the habit of not telling you grew until I let it slide altogether. Now my father is dead.' 'Well, never mind, Arnold.' 'The business dies with him. None of the others is in Australia. I came off worst, but I am lucky to be remembered at all.' 'Perhaps he understood you, Arnold.' 'I told him I was married. Perhaps lie remembered the children, or mother did. She died a few years before him.' Carrie offered up a silent prayer for the grandparents her children would never know. 'Hang up your horse at the fence,' she said, 'and one of the boys will look after it.' Then they went in to tell the children of tiie good fortune that had befallen them and of the departure for Sydney they were projecting, for, after her con versation with Ann that afternoon, this news Arnold had brought seemed some thing in the nature of a Fate guiding her to Sydney. (To be Continued.)