Chapter 169576577

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Chapter NumberIX.(Continued.) X. XI
Chapter TitleLOVE. ADVICE. DESCRIPTION.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article169576577
Full Date1891-10-31
Page Number1
Corrections7
Word Count4164
IllustratedN
Last Corrected2020-06-27
Newspaper TitleThe Bendigo Independent (Vic. : 1891 - 1918)
Trove TitleThe Devil's Own. An Australian Story
article text

THE DEVIL'S OWN.

AN AUSTRALIAN STORY BY MRS. RICHMOND HENTY (ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.) CHAPTER IX. (Continued.)

"Oh, my darling my darling" said her lover as he clasped her in his arms and . . . . . . . . They were watching the gulls as footsteps roused them from

their heavenly dream, calling them to terra firma. It was Miss Vavasour's rapid followed by one of the stewards, each laden with a tray of lunch—plates of tempting looking oysters and brown bread and butter. “ Miss Vera; your aunt insists on your eating some of these—you used to be so fond of them, my dear," said the maid, kindly. “ Thank you, Mathers, leave them there," said Vera, not turning her head from her very earnest investigation of the gulls. “ Miss Vavasour’s compliments, sir, and she hopes you’ll do justice to her choice of lunch, she has added a small bottle of champagne, hoping it will tempt you to eat, sir," said she steward. “ My compliments, and thanks to Miss Vavasour—put it down, Collins —any- where about,” said Mr. Annelaye, tak- ing a hurried look at the steward still holding the tray in mid air. The steward had taken at a glance the whole aspect of affairs on deck just then, with the natural precocity and shrewd- ness people, particularly servants, are generally gifted with on the subject of lovers. Collins did not put his tray down anywhere, according to his instructions. He acted more wisely. Dragging forward a dropsical looking family tea table near, he made a clean s weep of its avalanche of literature belonging to the owner of the table, and then and there set to work in laying the table, placing the combined lunches in friendly proximity to each other, lingering to put a finishing touch here and there in true waiterish style, as if preparing for a matter of fact fas- tidious couple lunching at the Criteron or Metropole, finally making his exit, leaving the happy couple to their united study of ornithology. 'Twas a lazy day. Every one lingered over lunch in the cool dining rooms of the Kashmir. Punkahs were going energetically, freshing up the little breeze to be felt. The passengers were too lazy to do anything but play with their knives and forks, as the term is, or sit still and talk or listen. Miss Vava- sour was the first to make a move, anxious to know the fate of the oysters. Ascending the deck stairs she took a good look round, then stood for a mo ment, and seeing ; no one, nor any re* mains of lunch, not so inuoh as an empty plate or tho' skeleton of a champagne bottle, she quickly descended again to her cabin in search of her niece, only to reappear soon after on deck; very much puzzled as she looked about everywhere : in vain. Nothing mob her view except Df. Bangles - very-conspicuous green gig umbrella (ns it was termed) spread out in full sail,-ns it were, staring her in the face, and apparently fixed slanting ways by some ingenious contrivance to achair. “A most conspicuous object," said the lady, as she sauntered towards it, merely giving a passing look at the interior, and fully expecting to find it tenantless, as she well knew its owner, Dr. Bangles, who rejoiced in the loquacity of a parrot or a Frenchman, was at that very moment talking nineteen to the dozen in the saloon, on the subject of why man had never been gifted with a tail, and other startling theories, to the great edification of a few kindred souls who were sipping whisky and lemonade as they listened. Miss Vavasour started back as if she had been shot or had received concussion of the brain at the sight that met her view. There under the umbrella, was her pretty, demure, little niece comfort- ably, to all appearance, seated close along side somebody else in masculine attire. Their very chairs looked on intimate terms with each other, to which the ging- ham tent had been fixed by a strap " to keep the north wind off,” said one of the culprits next day: though, strange, to say, the captain's and other log books stated the wind to be be due south at the time the gig affair was put up. Aunt Dorothy's two patients had evidently made a hearty meal, for nothing was to be seen on the robust looking table but empty plates. Still, more to the astonishment of the spectator, the inmates of the im- promptu tent looked perfectly happy— were actually laughing and chatting merrily together as she peeped in. The worthy Miss Vavasour looked and looked again, rubbing her eyes in doubt as to being in her right senses or in a dream; but no, there they were—the secret was out—the old, old story. She had guessed it long ago, so she fancied as she joined in their laugh, and the male portion of the camp sprang up and offered her his chair, audaciously then made' a rush for another, which he brought back in triumph, knowing that being tall it would be impossible to open his case, and explain his cause, if he were heads above the rest. So having installed Aunt Dorothy in the most comfortable bamboo, he took his seat beside her courageously. "Miss Temple has promised to be mine, some day" (sly dog, he said some day to avoid the sudden shock of the mention of a parting, and to make the separation, as it were, a far off affair in the future), said the swain; "and you are on my side, are you not. You know you promised to be a friend through life, Miss Vavasour,” he added, coaxingly stroking softly Aunt Dorothy's thin white hand she had rested on the arm of the chair. “ Cupboard love,” she said playfully, withdrawing her hand; " cupboard love; my dear boy.” "Ah, that just reminds me," he said, “I have not half thanked you l for such a jolly lunch. Do you know, I gobbled up everything except the lemons. " "And the bread and butter,”' put in Vera merrily. " And I nearly finished the cham- pagne, drinking to a reckless degree," said Herbert. "When I spoke of cupboard love I did not allude to lunch, nor in fact to any thing about eating or drinking; but a subject of much more importance,” said Miss Vavasour seriously. "However, time enough; time enough. Let me think well over it. This a look before you leap age—an age of the head, not of the heart. We have passed the age of chivalry and romance, of disinterested marriages and love-sick maidens.” “Oh, no, no,” from'both sides. Of love matches and Gretna Green weddings. Ah! those good old times. When a woman was both loved and reverenced—and loved for herself alone. “ Ah! how I wish we had those times again," said Vera comically, looking across the table, with a sigh. “ Yes,” continued Miss Vavasour; "this is an age of steam and of pounds, shil-

lings, and pence and, as a rule, gold out- weighs love ” (‘no, no, no; up; don’t say that,’ from both sides in the umbrella), “so young people, don’t ask me anything more till I have had time to consider the question, fully.” And so the subject nearest their hearts was put aside for a time, and other topics chosen, as they sat on, perfectly happy and contented all alone in their glory, for no one had ventured on deck that hot afternoon, indeed, the deck was almost deserted. Where ignorance is bliss ’tis folly, to be wise; and it had never entered their heads that they were spending a pleasant afternoon under false pretences, or in other words, by the aid of the goods and chattels of other passengers. For had not Dr. Bangles walked round the deck three times, tak- ing a flying look at his own property and its interior, in surprise. “ It is so unlike the usually sedate and quiet deportment of Miss Vavasour, and the shy and timid disposition of the little girl. (He always called Miss Vavasour’s niece the little girl. However, its no business of mine. I leave gossip to the womankind,” said the doctor, as he took a last squint, the tails of his puggaree, flying about like the fans of a windmill, and catching the sharp eyes of Miss Vavosour. “ Ah! there’s Dr. Bangles,” said she, jumping up and confronting the solid looking medico, and remembering sud- denly that he was the owner of their green tent. “ I am sure you must have been look- ing for your umbrella, doctor, though it is here as large as life. Not my fault I assure you. These young people are to blame for running off with it. We will take it down at once.” “ My dear madam, you’ll do nothing of the kind, I was admiring the look of coolness and contentment you appeared to have—quite an Agapemone,” said the doctor waggishly. Ah, yea; just the idea, doctor—the abode of love—just the very thing. For we are all in love. Miss Dorothy is in love with your big umbrella, and I am in love with Miss Dorothy, and Miss Temple is in love with everybody and everything, even to sea gulls and flying fish. ls it not so Miss Temple?” said Mr. Annelaye, rather surprised at his own impudence. " Yes,” said Vera, amused at her lover’s eloquence. “ Doctor Bangles do come to our afternoon tea. I’ve coaxed some hot cakes out of the cook for our feast; delicious tea cakes made from a splendid recipe of Aunt Dorothy’s.” "Thanks, my dear young lady; but I promised to finish a very interesting argument on the question as to whether frogs have souls with Mr. Pepper,” said the doctor, as he took leave, touching his well puggareed hat, military fashion, for his head gear was too limp a con- struction to allow of being taken off with a flourish. “ Aunty, dear, do you think I was very forward or bold to day,” said Vera that night as she made a full confession of that day's love affair. “ It was all so sudden his telling me of his love. I never dreamed of it, but then I don’t think we have ever been alone together for two minutes since we met. Oh, how glad he looked when I didn’t say ‘No. ” “You didn’t,” said Miss Dorothy, in feigned surprise, peeping up her head from under the clothes, where she had hidden it from the glare of the lamp. “ No, why should I? Aunty, I love love him so.” " Well, my dear, you couldn’t be bold or forward if you tried; but, oh, the ab- surdity of it. It took my breath away to see you both sitting together like Darby and Joan, shockingly matter of fact and unromantic, though there is nothing to be ashamed of in love—good honest, genuine love; and he is rather a nice fellow. But get to bed, get to bed, child. Good night,” and Aunt Dorothy turned her face from the light, shut her eyes, and was soon asleep. But sleep was impossible to Vera, who first took a long look at herself in the glass, and questioned with herself if she really was beautiful, as he had said she was, then she shook her head as if in doubt, and finally folding her hands over her head, she thought for a long time, until the lamp went out suddenly, leav- ing her in the dark to undress the best way she could. CHAPTER X. ADVICE. “Almost all women will give a sympathising hearing to men who are in love. Be they ever so old they grow young again in that conversation, and renew their own early time.’’ THACKERAY. The following morning was rather a momentous one for the lovers, for Miss Vavasour had promised before giving her consent, to have a good talk with Mr. Annelaye, and ask him in plain language if he had a fortune, deserving the hand of her niece, Miss Vera Temple. “ Aunty, darling, don’t be too severe,” said Vera, with almost tears in her eyes; “ I love him so. I hope he is not rich, for he might not have me.” “ All of which is foolish talk, my child, ” said Aunt Dorothy, straightening her best cap which she had donned for the interview, " by way of looking more dignified and charming,” said Vera, as she went on deck to wait patiently, if it were possible, till the interview was over; which she rather dreaded the to be or not to be of the momentous ques- tion. She could do nothing but pace the deck wearily, for they seemed so long coming. “ Ain’t you getting tired of the voyage, Miss Temple,” said Mrs Carruthers, an American lady, who, with her husband, was sitting on deck, and had noticed Vera’s anxious and pale face as she passed them. “No; I like the sea,” said Vera blush- ing. "Ah, but then you ain’t sea sick. You are like my husband. The Curnol is a rare brute with his appetite, when I am most prostrate, and I declare he is getting that enormous, you know you are (looking at him), I shall have to get corsets for you next;” said the transat- lantic lady. “All, right, my dear; only let them be spoobnbills,” said the hurly burly Colonel, laughing and looking at Vera. ‘‘Don’t you ever get married, Miss Temple. Matrimony is a gigantic fraud,” said he. “Now, ain't that rude? But I reckon we shall soon be nearing the other side of the pond, and they say folks on board generally get tired of each other. Emman- uel, do you remember our voyage from Santiago, and that old Mrs. Fuzzbob, we used to call her, because (to Vera) she always used to have her false curls fixed to her bonnet which we used to see hanging up, curls and all, in her cabin, that used to take a knuckle bone of mut- ton out of her pocket and look at it under the moon and kiss it (the bone), because it was the last leg of mutton she and her husband had eaten together; and what a row there was on board

when young Spicer told her it wasn’t mutton bone at all. Oh, my! shall l ever forgot it. What queer folks we have met in our lives to be sure. Do you know the Curnel’s remedy of sea sickness, Miss Temple ?” "No," said Miss Temple. “ Wall, it’s a glass of sea water stirred up with a red herring.” “ Or a fat piece of pork pulled up and down your throat; a perfect cure," said the Colonel. “ I'm off for a squash. Do you like squashes or cocktails, Miss Temple? I’ll bring you a squash, its first rate.” Vera declined and proceeded on her walk. She had not long to wait, for soon after Herbert Annelaye came bounding up the steps and joined her. “ It is all right, my darling. Miss Vavasour is a brick, I always thought so. I will tell you all in the music room. I cannot talk here. That dread- ful old blue-nosed Yankee, is watching us, and she is such a talker it will be all over the ship. We must invent some little plan to elude the Argus eyes of some of the gossips, l am not ashamed, but I don’t like you to be watched, darling.” “ Where is aunty ?” said, Vera ner- vously, looking proudly at her lover, but thinking of her aunt. “ She has gone to her room, darling. Don’t go yet, or if you must, come to the music room after. I will wait for you there. I shall go and put Mrs. Yankeedoodle off the scent. Don’t be long, my own true love; my own true love.” Herbert Annelaye had not been a very popular or sociable passenger during the voyage—too reserved from the first. He made very few friends, having refused all overtures and offers to join in the amuse- ments on deck and in the saloon. The captain had been one of the favored few with whom Annelaye had been intimate, and they both had one hobby in common —the love of music, of which Annelaye never tired, and being a thorough musician, many an hour had he beguiled at the piano in a small room near the captain’s cabin. “ Belonging to the cap- tain,” said the passengers, speaking of the room, and the skipper, rather encouraged than, contradicted this supposition, object- ing, with his love for good music, to have scales and exercises, polkas and qua- drilles, strummed just close to his ears when perhaps he had turned in for his quantum of rest. This quiet room the lovers, with Miss Vavasour, had appro- priated for their own private use and benefit, with the full approbation of the captain, who was let into his friend’s secret, and here would they spend many hours (having dressed early) night after night, sometimes chaperoned by Miss Vavasour, though, as a rule, she rather objected to dressing two hours before the evening meal; so they generally had the room to themselves and away from the passenger-world’s gaze; and here some- times Miss Dorothy would join them in the twilight and sit quietly and listen to Mozart and Mendelsohn, well executed to her heart’s content, for she was also a lover of music like her niece. That eve- ning Vera had found her aunt after that much dreaded interview, looking sad and traces of tears on the kind face. Vera tried her best to cheer the kind soul. “ Oh, Vera, my own little one, must I give you up already. We have -been all in all to one another,” said Aunt Dorothy, holding Vera to her heart “No, aunty; we,must never part. We will come and live with you dearest, or you must come and live with us, which ever will be the nicest for you. Herbert will only be too glad. He is so fond of you. I used to get quite jealous.” “Ah! no love; I like to see young couples start in life in a home of their own, with only themselves and their loves to think of. But you are so young, Vera—a mere child; and yet with all my firm persuasion, begging, and at last coaxing and pleading, Mr. Annelaye would not consent to wait a year, unless you particularly wished it he said. He was very firm about it. I think, my love, he has great decision of character. Some would call it obstinacy, but I like a man to have an opinion of his own. He has told me everything except one little secret which I was not curious about, after he told me it was only con- corning himself and nothing to do with any one. He has promised to tell you some day, when you wish it. He will be very well off, being an only son. In the meantime he has his mother’s money (she died when he was born, poor fellow), which he has promised to settle entirely on you, and the rest he will invest in some safe speculation. I don’t think I shall go into lunch, deary. I have a little headache. If Mathers would bring me a good cup of tea it would put me quite right. CHAPTER XI. DESCRIPTION. “But all descriptions garble the true effect; and,! lo ! he had bettor not be too minute. An outline is the best ; a lively reader’s fancy does the rest.” DON JUAN. A trip to the other end of the world is an event of such common occurrence in this wealthy and enterprising age, and so much has been written on the subject, that I have not spun my story out with wearisome account of the voyage of the Kashmir, otherwise I might have added a volume in description of our friend’s peregrinations en route. How the passengers looked out almost before day dawn of their cabin windows or port holes (to be properly nautical), for the apes in passing the Gib, into the blue, calm Mediterranean, which was neither blue nor calm—a gale raging in full force, inclusive of black skies, rough. seas, and passengers in a state of limp, if not worse, statu quo in their berths—very ill and very disappointed, with their beau ideal and poetical imagination of Byron’s blue Mediterranean with its sunny skies; rush, on to Malta with its formal battlements and thriving lace and jewellery emporiums; or Port Said where they passed an hour one night under the glare of gas in its dissipated looking streets, crowded with an omnium gatherum of many nations and nationalities; startled by the rattling of the dice and roulette tables, listening for a moment to the Gorman, concerts of feminine performers, all amusements being open to the street; through the un- interesting Suez Canal to Suez and the Red Sea; to Perim, with its graveyard of wrecks, monuments of fraud or bad navi- gation; on to Aden where many a passenger blessed fate in passing, that he had not been destined for a residence at this uninteresting port, and then to warmer climes; and finally " to the other end of the world,” as a facetious passenger termed Australia. Time flies too quickly when people are happy, and if the latter part of the voyage was less exciting and amusing to our friends, it was very much more enjoyable under their own peculiar cir- cumstances. There has never been a voyage, pleasant or unpleasant, but that some of the travellers have been glad to get to the end of it, however much they

may wish themselves back on board ship again after a time on shore, for there are always malcontents in every phase of life who suffer from a chronic state of dis- satisfaction—finding fault with every- thing and picking everybody to pieces simply because having paid their money they consider themselves privileged to grumble to their heart’s content, and revel in their supposed grievances. There was no exception on the Kash- mir. " So glad we shall soon be there,” said Mr. Molyneux Smith, with a doleful drawl. “ The worst of these P., and 0., trips, one has to rub shoulders with such people—such a vulgar lot. It is abominable. The fares have been so re- duced a sweep can take a trip. Just look at that awful woman in green, and fellows run after her. Mrs. Laverton is her name, a widow.” ( The said Mrs Laverton, a jolly,little woman was wont to tip back her deck chair, go off at a tangent fashion with laughter and jokes about “ that escaped undertaker with the nose,” as she termed Mr. M. Smith, when he appeared in sight.) " I fancied we were very fortunate in the passengers,” said Vera. " Do you think so. Well, you see, I’m very fastidious, can’t be too particular. I cannot tolerate any but well bred people. Vulgar people make me ill, in fact, quite upset me.” Mr. Molyneux Smith’s father had kept a small public house some miles out of Dublin. Some of the family emigrating the daughter was fortunate in catching Sir Peter Lager, a knight of high office, in Goldsbrough, Molyneux and his brothers doing the best they could for themselves in the early lucky times. Being a thorough snob he was disliked by the men, indeed under a cloud for years for being the subject of a disreputable scandal, but had been fished out of the slough of contempt by his marriage with an estimable woman high up in the sphere of respect and popularity. It is this class of second rate persons who are the malcontents and specimens of affected vulgarity. Nothing was good enough for him on board, and he was all but sent to Coventry for his rude manner. Miss Vavasour and her niece were among the very few Mr. Smith was civil to. (TO BE CONTINUED.)