Chapter 174507758

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Chapter NumberXXVII. XXVIII. XIX.
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Full Date1892-01-02
Page Number1
Word Count4780
Last Corrected2020-07-02
Newspaper TitleThe Bendigo Independent (Vic. : 1891 - 1918)
Trove TitleThe Devil's Own. An Australian Story
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CHAPTER XXVII (Continued.)

" Yes, I will take the place I like it," said Mrs. Annelaye as they left the fruit garden, the pockets of Johnny’s nicker-bockers bulg- ing to an alarming extent after sundry un-

rijic gooseberries and other early fruits had been added to the miscellaneous assortment of beach articles which swelled his costume. Back to the station and to Goldsborough by train, a long talk with the agent, who promised to make the placed .ecently habitable for such an advantageous tenant. CHAPTER XXVIII. PLEASURE. “A crowd is not company, and faces are but a gallery of pictures and talk, but a twinkling cymbal where there is no love. " BACON. Spring with its freshness, its opening buds, is just giving way to early summer, already there is a wealth of blossoms every- where, and sweet perfumes from fragrant flowers add their scented charms to the sunny atmosphere of the many gardens and shubberies. Goldsborough, like some other places at the end of tho world is blessed with a heavenly climate, no tropical or vapor batherish, but bright and warm in October, not too hot to make out-door existence ob- jectionable, so the Golbdsboroughites make the best of it, as do many in a like tem- perature. Cricket, tennis, boating, picnics and other out of door recreations crowd one another; garden and tennis parties are in full swing for the season has commenced, the season par excellence of rent enjoyment. There is a happy look on the faces of every- one, as much as to say I feel as if the very atmosphere makes me light of heart, and in- clined to dance and sing, to do anything and enjoy life while I may. The Goldsborough community are not large enough to indulge in competitive entertain- ments or opposition hospitalities, rarely more than two or three fetes or dances fall on the same day in the upper set that sways the fashion. "Such a bore, dear,” says Mrs. Pinkeen “everybody knowing everybody, for one has to change one’s costume so dreadfully often ; such a nuisance,” she adds, with a well acted sigh of regretful resignation, though if the truth be told, she revels in the excuse for the fresh display of Worth’s nouvantes and White’s confectioners. In- vitations are much discussed as to date before they go forth to the suburbs, and not sent at all if likely to clash with those of some higher or more popular member of society. With the exception of a few more couragous ones who, with much self-confidence, and assurance feared no opposition in their com- ing fete or dances. Government House fes- tivities at once make the date of these to come a caution, for no one attempts to com- pete with vice-regal magnificence; that is, should the representative of Her Majesty do his duty properly and spend his money freely on the community to whom he is too often indebted for his bread and buttered sides’ existence, instead of carrying his money away with him after a term of colonial money grabbing and unpopular meanness. At the time of my story there happened to be a popular Governor, gifted with good blood in his veins and a generous-minded disposition, who did his best to make his reign a pleasant one for the colonists by his kind hospitality and hearty welcome to all who come within the range of his acquaintance or friendship. Dinners were numerous at Government House and at certain seasons of the year, race month in particular. A series of gaieties followed each other at the vice-regal resi- dence in quick succession, generally com- mencing with a few sober dinners by way of a welcome to the numerous guests that ac- cepted Lord and Lady Carnelford’s hospi- tality for the great event of the year, the Goldsborough races. The usual eruption of entertainments this season was opened by a garden party by the Governor. A mixed assembly it must be, for how is it possible to separate the china from the crockery in a place where liberte eqalite and fraternite is sentiments, and radicalism runs riot to a great extent through the general mass of the people who have many of them made them- selves what they are by the sweat of their brow. It is a glorious day; old sol looking down from his seat in the heavens, has been merciful throughout the day and now, to the afternoon, only bestows enough of his radiance to make the fete what it should be, perfect as far as temperature is concerned. Herr Schmidt with his band of sad weary looking musicians in sober attire, breathing forth the soft, sweet music of Mendelssohn, Schubert, and Strauss, on stringed instru- ments in the ballroom, whilst a unitary con- tingent of dapper looking volunteers in light uniform are banging away in true dashing military style dance music of the most ex- citing kind. Highland reels, schottisches, galops, waltzes, follow one another rapidly, making all votaries of terpsichor within hearing of the tempting strains feel as it on springs and longing to scout decorum and trip the light fantastic toe to such enlivening music. The grounds are crowded with well dressed people in and out of society. Here, a sober looking group are discussing parliamentary twaddle eagerly, as if their arguments were valuable to the well being and success of the world in general and their colony in particu- lar. “Poor besotted fools,” sighs old Judge Warner to a friend near—as they couid not help hearing the last sentence and decision of one of the party—“poor besotted idiots,” if they would only go to bed and hide their miserable skulls under the clothes for very shame, the country would go ahead and scramble out of the puddle of despond they have plunged it into—what are we coming to —if we allow such fools to govern us?" “We cannot make silk purses out of sows’ ears, sir, so we cannot expect much else from such cads,” says his friend, a colonist of the good old type, and strict conservative at heart. Groups of pretty women and well- dressed men saunter about, admiring the view in raptures with the day, with the music, with themselves, and in particular with their toilettes. “Isn’t it too cruel to give us such tempt- ing music and not allow us to dance, it is right down cruel, tantalizing is too mild a term, " says Maude Pomdeterre; “just listen they are playing my pet waltz. I am sure I shall not be able to sit still much longer.” “Allow me this dance then,” says Arthur Brandon; of the volunteers, “We will got be- hind that grove of lauristinus and dance till the “ light of the moon.” I’ll defy anyone to see us." " I only wish we could," says Miss Pomde terre, crossly. “It is altogether too provoking. I hate garden parties where you can neither dance nor play tennis—you cannot even flirt comfortably, without having goggle-eyed gossips peering at you. Ah ! here comes Mrs. Annelaye with the Hales. Isn’t she pretty? such a lovely face.” Who? Mrs. Hales? no, I don’t think her pretty ; she partakes more of the quantity than quality to my mind." “Don’t be silly Arthur, I am in no humor even’ to smile—certainly not to appreciate such a joke, I mean the widow—she is the only woman I envy and the only widow I don’t feel spiteful in contemplating—Heigh ho! what a thing it is to be a widow;” and Miss Maud Pomdeterre, groaned a sigh tragically. “Don’t look like that, you will make me weep, you really will, you look so like Niobe, just when she discovered the loss of her family of fourteen, was it not, little picanninnnies.” “ Rather a fortunate bereavement I should think,” said Miss Pomdeterre, “I hate children, except they are very pretty and beautifully dressed, and as to babies, I think half of them deserve drowning like the kit- tens and puppies." “No, really, you don’t say so, you are too cruel, but about that lauristinus dance, are you game? I think It positively unfair, Maude, you with your juvenile limbs, having valuable possession of a whole seat to your- self, whilst we have been for the last half hour wandering about with weary feet, like so many Irish trampers” said Mrs. Hales, a largely constructed, jolly looking woman, coming up at the moment with Miss Vavas- our, Mrs. Annelaye and some others, all eager for a seat— and looking about for another and finding none. Sir Felix is look- ing for you Maude, he is going home—he has just been entertaining us with a long list of his gievances, number one, having to come here; number two, the utter stupidity and absurdity of garden parties; number three, having dreadful daughters on his hands; number four, not being able to marry them off. He is just now poising as patience on ft monument without the smile near the tennis lawn." “ What a crowd of well dressed people,” said Vera. “A mob is the more characteristic word," said Mrs. Hale; “all the world and his wife are here—publicans and sinners, if they can

boast of a councillor's robe, or a J.P’s, distinction, prelates and parsons, judges and jurymen, soldiers and sailors, I was going to say tinkers and tailors if with the gift of the gab, in the radical interests they have now the questioned honor of M.P. ship. The political world here always reminds me of the old song of Rub a dub dub, Three men in a tub; A butcher, a baker, a candlestick maker, All jumped out of a rotten potato (or radical nunsity.) “As you know so few people here, Miss Vavasour, I’ll be showman and point out the celebrities now we have seats for I intend to sit where I am till God save the Queen drums us all out.” l am all attention if it will not tire you," said Miss Vavasour, settling herself comfort- ably, as if prepared for an interesting lec- ture. “ Well the man that has just passed us is Hon. William Makepiece, a star of our political horizon, a planet of our Christian hemisphere, king of the goodies; oh, no his wife is not here, she, poor thing, is goodness knows where—she is not his better half for she he now hath is not his wife. ” “ Dear me how sad !” said Vera, “ Who is that dark girl in the pink: rather hansome face?" “ Yes ; that is Molly Porter. They go by the name of the Stockade Tureens because the family kept a crockery shop at Botany Bay, New Caledonia, Van Dieman’s Land, or some other such lively place, and” (a whisper) “ How very dreadful,” said Miss Vavasour in surprise, “but I have a horror of nick names, though men will talk when they have nothing else to do. It reminds me of Water- well, where I used to go for the waters with an old aunt—such a dreafully gossiping place. The club men there nick named every body. One woman they called the Witch of Endor, two girl friends of mine they called Rhubarb and Magnesia; the three Arnold sisters, very nice girls but not pretty, were named Plague, Pestilence, and Famine— battle, murder, and sudden death—was it not shocking? But that wasn’t the worst of it, at the club the men kept a large book like ledger, they called it their R.M.D. Book, It was marked off in separate divisons in which was a description of all the perfections and imperfections of the Waterwell young ladies, from their accomplishments to their eyelashes and ankles, and each page had a column of headed R.M.D. (ready money down) stating the sum the girls had or would have down. Old Aunt Phoebe used to think there was no place like Waterwell, gossip and all.” “That’s the Hon. George Grimes, a barris- ter," said Mrs. Hale," nodding pleasantly to the person in question. “ Adders poison is under his lips. He is said to be the most curious temporal man that over existed; woe betide those who come under his spleen. The family were originally drapers or chess- mongers I should say; but he is clever. Oh, yes; clever and sharp—sharp as a two-edged sword. He has no mercy; he is venom itself when the fit is on. I think there ought to be a tax on bad tempers and bad language,” said Miss Vavas- our mildly; “they make life so unpleasant” “ We have a very effective way of punish- ing such tempers,” said Mrs. Hale “ How?” said Dr. Swiney, who had joined the party. “I am dying for the recipe. It will be so useful if over I take unto me a bad tempered second wife.” “ I am only alluding to public life doctor, where they take exhibtions of temper from whence they came, and treat them with the silent contempt they deserve, in fact send them to Coventry, particularly in Parliament where the cure generally succeeds. But I am sorry for Mr. Grimes, for I rather like him, he is so clever; but his want of suavitor in modo will spoil his public career. “ Ladies ! ladies ! I am surprised at you You have been talking scandal at a furious rate—would you not like some tea or coffee." “No thank you, but perhaps Miss Vavasour would or Mrs. Annelaye, but we should lose my seats if we all went, and I am so comfor- table. I am very busy describing the menagerie—don’t interrupt me. My discourse is most edifying, I can assure you. Wait till I can see the back of your head, I shall then harangue about you, doctor without mercy. ” “Draw it mild,” said Dr. Swiney, for I may be listening amongst the bushes.” “ Tiresome fellow. He is a Dr. Swiney, failed for eighty thousand and never paid anyone, and was as jaunty as ever soon after. Don’t look so shocked Miss Vavasour, it is the way of the world, parti- cularly the colonial world. There's scarcely one man in five to-day but has not been whitewashed—ups and downs of money making and speculators.” “Whitewashed!” said Miss Vavasour in surprise. Yes; the term for bankruptcy and the greater the rogue the bettor he gets through the ordeal, and, moreover, looks all the better for it if he fails respectably in the world view. I always tell my husband to fail heavily or not at all, and to give me full notice in time that I may make my arrange- ments comfortably. I always drum into his head that he must settle a gigantic sum on me. If a man fails honestly or for a few hundreds here, he is at once dubbed a fool. ” I thought he was never going. I wanted to show you one of our Crœsuses, Mr. Dormer, over there by the marque; immensely wealthy, and a good fellow—very charitable, very nice in every way. All earned in the colony. Mr. Hale has often given him six- pence to hold his horse when Mr. Dormer was a little lad running about bare-footed at his father's place, a small wayside inn near Sea View. You see we are an enterprising community, and those have succeeded most, who have for their motto “each one for himself,” and the more selfish and conscience- less and heartess one is the better they will succeed in life, particularly in a new country where pride of birth, pride of intellect, pride of education ranks nowhere compared to pride of money; in fact is a great millstone, and detriment to success.” “Mrs. Annelaye may I take you into the ballroom; there is good music, or would you like an ice,’’ said Captain Price.” “ Thank you; I should like to hear some more of Schmidt’s music,” said Vera, rising and looking pleased at the attention, for she had never been fond of gossip, and had felt almost sleepy with listening to Mrs. Hale. Then her cavalier marched her off through knots of fashionables and bevies of pretty girls and animated men to the ballroom. “What a beautiful woman,” said the Gover- nor to his daughter, as they met at the entr- ance of the ballroom, and both Captain Price and his companion bowed slightly in passing. “ Papa ! fancy you finding out and noticing our little beauty so quickly,” said his daughter. “I hope you didn’t hear that, Mrs. Annel- aye, if you did you will get so conceited and disagreeable like the rest of the society beauties. ” “ I hope I shall never be disagreeable or conceited,” said Vera quietly, “and I am sure I shall never be a fashionable beauty, the role would never suit me. I do hate the idea of conventional life in its worst phase—per- haps it is my want of finished education. ” For a time they sat listening to the band. Vera glad of the soft music and stillness that pervaded the room. She did not feel herself, perhaps the re-acton of such excitement was too much after her quiet secluded life, for this was her first entre to society since her bereavement. Indeed it required great per- suasion on the part of Aunt Dorothy to coax her neice out of her seclusion, and now she was in the midst of gaiety and excitement. She felt more isolated than when in her own quiet home She missed her one love, and memories of that last dance they had had to- gether, only a pleasant scratch - dance at a neighboring station came rushing back to her. After a stroll through the gardens they re- turned to Miss Vavasour and party, finding to their amusement Mrs. Hale still acting cicerone, and too deep in conversation to notice Vera’s approach. “Are you going to the Harlequin Culloden’s dance, Miss Vavasour?” No, my neice does not go to balls, and we don’t know the Cullodens, indeed, as yet Mrs. Annelaye knows very few people, she has preferred a quiet life." Ah, but she must come out a little more —though the Harlequin Cullodens are not much loss—set a beggar on horseback—and I remember Mrs. Culloden when they kept no servant, and I remember one day seeing her on her knees cleaning the sitting room grate; it’s quite true, and now they scarcely notice their oldest friends." “Mrs. Annelaye, may I introduce Mr. Simon Jones to you,” said Captain Price, returning with a tall, thin, looking individual, who bowed and blushed and blushed and bowed, perhaps at being full face to five pairs or eyes watching him. “ Would you like some coffee,” said Mr. Jones bashfully to Mrs. Annelaye. “No thank you,” she said lightly, walking away with her partner, wishing to be nearer the band. “Not, gone , yet, Maude, we have been seated here ever since,” said Mrs. Hales. “I am so tired,” said Miss Pomdeterre, plump-

ing herself into Vera’s vacant seat, I believe papa has gone; he is nowhere to be seen. ” “I saw him only two minutes ago,” said Mrs. Hale, “with Mrs. de Wiggins;” ; “ Oh, that dreadful thing (with a grimace) the Venus de Wiggins.” Miss Vavaosur laughed a merry laugh. I beg your pardon, did you really say Venus de?” “Venus de Wiggins, quite true. She is a Mrs. de Wiggins. I cannot enumerate half her—her, what shall I call them— to be charit- able we will say—yes—attributes we will call, it—but she really did have her cast taken, she did really in Rome.” “Her cast! Horoscope?” said Miss Vava- sour. “ No, don’t you know people can take your figure in plaster or some maleable stuff—but you have to stand or sit perfectly still, clothed in air only." “No clothes or drapery at all,” said Miss, Vavasour, looking stunned—how shocking! how horrible.” “Yes, when I heard it I felt inclined to ask her, like the friend did to the Princess Borghese if she didn’t feel chilly during the process. ” “I think we must be going home when my niece returns’' said Miss Vavasour. “ Who is Mr. Jones?” “He is Mr. Jones, very sick and very stupid” . “He always reminds me of a newly- hatched chicken,” said Maude Pomdeterre, “all skull and hairs.” Then he ought to be very clever,” said Miss Vavasour. “I don’t think that it follows unless, like Sancho Panza’s parrot was it not? all his wits are in instead of being out. ” “Is he married?” said Miss Vavasour, “Alas! for me” said Maude, “he is mar- ried, over so much married, having allied himself to the whole Chickwood family. Papa calls him the contingent—its quite a puzzle to know which is really his wife, Charlie Fenwick was nicely sold the other day—he wanted an invitation for the Jones’s ball, so he paid devoted attention to Mrs. Jones, as he thought for a whole half hour, and as he was taking his leave, Mr. Jones said: “ By-the-bye, Fenwick, I must intro- duce you to my wife— was it not a sell. I fancy Charles Fenwick’s fate must have been a picture for Punch—when he discovered he had been wasting all his pears as he called them, upon Miss Cynthia Chichweek—but I like Mrs. Jones—nice little thing, nothing in her but very nice, and she would be charm- ing were she not so timid, and no wonder poor thing, to be crushed and annihiliated by an avalanche of sisters, not to mention a silly flighty mother; but Minnie Chiekweed made a lucky hit on her marriage, though she was only a nursery governess or some thing of the kind. I haven’t patience with her mother. She runs after every man she thinks she could catch for a husband.” “We are all in love with Mrs. Annelaye,” said a young girl, fresh as a rose, coming up almost out of breath to her cousin Maude. “ I thnk she is beautiful as a dream, and her dress simply perfect. I wish I knew her. ” “ I will introduce you if you wait here, this is her aunt in black. The widow will return shortly,” said Maude. “ Yes, she is talking to Lord Camelford, who seems very much struck with her. I know Lady Camelford admires and likes her very much. She told me so just now, and asked me all about Miss Vavasour and her neice, and I knew nothing about them till after, when Aunt Verner told me—wasn’t it horrible? the murder of her husband ; poor little thing! no wonder she looks sad at times, but such a pretty sweet look of sad- ness—if anything more loveable than beams of delight. ” “She is so young and fresh looking,” said Mrs. Hale. “ She is quite young; she married early, too early, I fear,” said Miss Vavasour with a sigh. “ Oh! I say. Have you seen the Camel to- day, Maude,” said a showily attired girl. “ Her dress is something hideous—the latest fashion, sickly toad, dying of love color they call it. From Worth she told mamma, not that I believe it. Here she comes, mind you look at her.” “ Who is she,” said Miss Vavasour, as a very plain woman with a Kalmuck face passed. “She’s a Mrs. Mattaface, a lawyer’s wife,” said one. “Isn’t she ugly? My husband said he would whip her if she was his wife. Do you know she cannot sit down; it would spoil the set of her dress. Willie Forester wanted to have a bet about it. She has some spring arrangement that prevents the poor thing positively getting a rest. Law seems to pay, she spends most of her husband’s income on dress. Tries to lead the fashion by startling and expensive cos- tumes — so exceedingly vulgar — such bad taste. “Come, come, Mrs, Hale be just. Doesn’t she give nice dinners?” said Dr. Dumcomb. “Only to men. Uneducated as she is she is well up in the ways of the world and knows that a good dinner is much more valued and appreciated in this age by the men than all the ologies and services of creation, so she gives her cook £755 a year. That is Captain Papillon with her. He is poodle. Yes, poodle. There is a fashionable community here, I call them the atmospheric —merry hues of Windsor is too virtuous a title. They all have their poodles —silly young men who follow their latest infatua- tion in docile servility for the time being— in fact, inseparable cupboard love I fancy— for no man could be charmed with such an awfully ugly face, and as to her figure, Clarice Harvey told me Mrs. M. takes over three hours getting up for the afternoon. She’s a splendid make up considering she is fifty, if she is a day, and risen from the ranks. Oh ! dear, yes ; cela ra sans dire, but one would forgive her that in such a miscel- laneous assortment of inhabitants. Ah ! here is Mrs. Carew; do you admire her, she was one of the Wallis’ girls, the fastest girls about town. She lost her reputation long ago, and is now here to take away anyone else’s, but very doubted always as to her beauty— no one listens much. They say she smokes. She is talking to Miss Jessie Mclntosh— hark!” “Ah ! how do you do, Jessie?” said Mrs. Carew. “ Have you been ill, you look pale. What have you been doing with yourself; you look like a boiled owl.” “Yes, I do feel awfully seedy,” said Miss Mclntosh, yawning and trying to stifle a stretch. “Fact is I smoked seventeen cigars last night coming down from Glenlivet.” “ Cigars !” “Well, cigarettes, all the same; such a lark. We got a carriage to ourselves, Charlie McPherson, Duff Caweron and others with Laura Fawcett, and her and me played nap the whole way down. It was awfully late when we arrived—the train was twenty minutes late owing to the crowd. Yes, I do feel seedy. ’’ “Now that is shocking,” said Mrs. Hale, “would you believe such a thing if you hadn’t heard it with your own ears; but the Glenlivet girls are awfully fast they tell me. So you really are going Miss Vavasour. Mind I shall come and see you soon. Good bye, good-bye. Mrs. Annelaye don’t busy yourself too much,” she said to Aunt Dorothy and her neice as they left their seats. “Yes ; wee little thing, the widow hasn’t much to say for herself,” said Mrs. Hale, a moment after. CHAPTER XXIX. MIRTH. “Jest and youthful jollity, Limps and cranks and wanton wiles, Nods and becks and wreathed smiles.” MILTON. “ Pater! pater ! dear; we are famished ; don’t ask us anything for five minutes,” said Maude Pomdeterre, rushing in through the French window and flying across the room, followed by her sister, to the handsomely carved sideboard on which were the silver biscuit tin and cake basket, regardless of awaking Sir Felix Pomdeterre, who was suffering from an attack of rhumatism as he called it, though it much resembled gout, and with feet up was enjoying a clandestine afternoon snooze in his comfortable arm- chair in the dining-room of Corinthian villa. It was an established fact that the Misses Pomdeterre usually made a visit on the biscuit tin or cake basket on their return from Pekin Court.” “Didn’t you get anything to eat girls?” said Sir Felix, rousing himself and sitting up in a more robust position ; “no lunch of any kind.” “Oh, plenty, plenty ; like the five loaves and two small fishes amongst the thousands, only we had no one to perform the miracle pater dear. I feel better now; would you like the menu—profusions of flowers, heaps of glass, piles of plates, and——" “ Well, but you couldn’t eat hyacinths and hock glasses,” said Sir Felix who, was a well known epicure. “No ; that was it, so we had to content ourselves (eight hungry souls mind, with the robustest of appetites) with potage and teakettles (what is the French for teakettles Allie) miniature leg of baby lamb, cold meat sauce unlimited homœpathic sized dish of lamb cutlets with mashed potatoes. I could have eaten the whole arrangement, potato and oil; salt junk lillipution, (TO BE CONTINUED.)