Chapter 174508445

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Chapter NumberXII
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article174508445
Full Date1892-01-23
Page Number1
Corrections2
Word Count4258
IllustratedN
Last Corrected2018-04-08
Newspaper TitleThe Bendigo Independent (Vic. : 1891 - 1918)
Trove TitleThe Devil's Own. An Australian Story
article text

THE DEVIL’S OWN.

CHAPTER XII (Continued.)

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

As an exception to the general rule Mrs. Cholmondoley counted quantity with quality being refined and well educated—moreover she was a viscount’s daughter with plenty of

sang bleu in her veins as to pedigree and precedence—dressed well—talked well— though perhaps too honest and outspoken in her opinions for society in general, but being pleased with every one and every- thing every one was pleased with her. This very hot afternoon she is in one of the tents eating strawberries and cream and fascinating little Mrs. Chausuble with pleasant conversation. Voices behind them in the tent arrested her speech as she stops in it to listen to them. “There near the fountain,” says one. “Yes, that is Sir Hubert Armytage,” says another, a real live baronet—just out from Enlgand. ” Mrs. Cholmondoley does not know the people from Adam, but she turns short round and faces them. “I beg your pardon," she says with a slight bow, but did I hear you say Sir Hubert Armytage?" She awaits an answer, but no answer is vouchsafed, they simply stare at her rudely. Perhaps it’s a breach of etiquette on her side speaking to unknown people at a private assembly. She bites her lip, not accustomed to rudeness, then, with her sweetest smile she says gracefully, as if by way of apology : “Pray excuse me, but Sir Hubert Army- tage is an old friend. I have known him from a child and his mother before him. I did not know he was in Australia;” and with a sweep of her rich train and stately bow at the party who had tried to teach her manners she had crossed the lawn to the fountain, where the baronet was standing, and was very nearly putting her plump gloved hands on his shoulder to his great surprise and confusion. “Hubert, my boy,” she said lovingly her face beaming with delight, “how I have longed to see you—and now, at last, at last.” bbo looks in the exuberance of her joy, as it about to kiss something in his manner chills tho joyous greeting—sho takes her Imnds away hastily only looking into his faco whilst lie is blushing scarlet for very shame at “being mauled over by that alarming sa y# stumpy little Mrs. Harlequin Cullodon, tho woolbrokor’s wife to a friend. “Hubert, my darling, have you forgotten mo? and tho old days at Woodlands? surely not; let mo look at you again—is it really tho dear old Hubert of old—it cannot bc-and yet—yes—you aro so changed. Tho Indian climate 1ms burnt you as brown as native. Even your eyes seem changed? 1 should never have recognised you, though to be sure your hair is tho same as cvew ” Tho baronet gets rodder and redder. “Curse them; will no one come to my rescue to cot rid of this dreadful old woman,” ho thinks lo himself, but ho stammers a few words about hot climate, sunstroke, long illness, which seems lo appease his friend. “Ah yes!” sho says sadly, with a sigh. “Wo heard of your illness. Trevor has fretted so much at getting no letter from you for months—years is it not? I shall have some thing to tell him in my next letter, and some thing to talk about when wo get buck to dear old Woodlands. Do you know, it Is prettier than over, particularly Fairybauk. Tho ferns and crotons in tho dell have grown up so. Do you remember the fright you gave us all when you jumped From the cliff into the river. How angry your father was and how I scolded you, aud out of revenge ,ycU called mo old “Chummy,” Dear, tloarv 1 remember it all as if it was only yesterday; what a pickle you wore, but such a pot in the dis trict; a bright curly haired, blue-eyed lad, full of fun and mischief. Your very curls seemed to laugh ; and how woll I remember your abomination of Eton jackets in the holidays. How you used to borrow mv little flannel dressing jacket to shoot and fish in yes, and swim in too—I remember your poor father s; disgust* Poor Sir Launcelot! such a dear timid old man. f never loved anyone so much, not even my own father nor tho ® colonel,” she said, clandestinely, whisking away a tear, then pausing for a time. _ It was a pity,” sho continued, re covoring herself, you over left England, Hubert, I am sure that terrible murder would never have happened had you boon at homo. The colonel was furious about it and worked day and night to discover tho cruel cowardly brute, AH j n vain—so sad—so sad—but a trucq to sad memories on such a time. Where aro you staying Bertie?” “At the Continental,” ho said slowly, “ Strange," sho said. So arc wo. I have a young friend travelling with mo—a beauti ful singer; como and see us often ?” “I am leaving in a day or two," ho said. “So are wo,” she said, “for Coalhavcn ; ore you? Perhaps wo can go together.” “No, wo aro going to some of tho islands,” ho said. “I must not monopolise you nltogthcr, oven with Auld Lang Sync for an excuse. Hark they are playing ono of your old favorites. Have you given up music? I remember you used to rave about it, I thought you would turn out a Wagner or a Liszk Au rovoir, I shall reserve my kiss till wo moot chez nous; come soon and very often.” Mrs. Cholmon doloy added as with a shake of the hand she loft him, and walked away to a quiet scat in a retired part of tho grounds to recover her senses, and as sho said to herself, “such a surprise. ” The baronet, hot and scarlet, stood still, his eyes following her till sho was out of sight “Cholmondolcy—Cliomloy?” bo repeated. “I know or seem lo know the name —but where? Trevor Chomloy, Trevor Chol mondoloy —where the deuce have I soon it. Tho devil—I have it,” ho'muttered to himself angrily. “Wo have all been admiring your poso, Sir Hubert,” said little Flo Vernon, dnnoing up merrily before tho baronet, now pale and startled looking. “Is there a photographist anywhere about, or are you studying effect for somebody? I know who, though sho is pot thinking of you. Her back is turned ; she is talking to Dr. Barpent, .her moat de voted admirer—such a nice man.” Sir Hubert pulls himself together, protend ing lo bo much interested in Miss Flo Ver non's girlish prattle. “Isn’t it fl'nuisanco wc can't have tennis.” “Why, Miss Vernon?” Sho laughs ns she says : “ Fancy me being Miss Vernon! But about tennis—tennis flannels not admissablo at At Homes” (with a shrug of her shoulders) lea conveniences— but flannel suits are much more beeorniugthan stuffy cloth coals and bclltoppor nats, arc they not?" “Yes, particularly in this heat, I am be ginning to envy tbo South Soa Islanders.” “I don’t,” sho said naively. “1 should never bo content with a niece of string for my costume. J. like to have lots of lovely dresses—and lots of money to spend in'"pretty tilings. Jack is in one of the Fiji islands, and ho tolls us that tho natives havo no clothes— that there arc no shops—mustn't it be horrible—I would rather bo a postman or a lamplighter here, they do sco something of life—I am'to come out next year, and wo are to Imvo fetes and a ball on my account yon must ho here, you’ll sco how woll 1 shall dress—there’s mamma beckoning to mo— I forgot her message. Mama wants to know if you have had any refreshment, or would you like an ice, or some champagne uup?” “No thank you, I am going soon, a host of engagements”. “Not yet; tisn’fc six o’clock, Sir. Hubert,” says tho voice of Mr, George Vernon, as he joined the pair. “Come and have an iced drink inside; those fizz ups tempts ono lo drink, but (hey take all the strength oat of you—yon seem to feel the heat,” added the host kindly, for tho baronet was ghastly palo, feeling hot und cold by turns, “Yes, the heal always upsets mo since my illness.” ' “Come and lie down a bit,” said Mr. Ver non, “onr house is an icehouse for coolness.” “Thank you, I shall got better presently, it is already cooler; there must bo thunder about.” ’They join n bevy of young .ladies under the trees for a time. “Who is that woman in white, standing by by herself near the band," said Sir Hubert, leaving the b< vy of young ladies abrupty, to their disgust, and turning to Mr. Jones, who is near. “Hi her a pretty woman,” continues the baronot s ill gazing at the object of his curiosity or a imitation. “That’s onr llifclo widow, Mrs. Annelayo pretty?” “My dear follow sho is positively lieautifnl—pretty is not half good enough for her. she'is as nice ns she is beautiful—como ana be introduced, though I warn you that the little beauty is rather stand off, oven with her most ardent admirers. >r “I like that in a woman,” said tho baronet, as they cross tho lawn to the band, when a woman exquisitely yot simply dressed in white, wjis listening with rapt attention lo

• "Prdclfng " Wh ‘ 0h playiDg Mcn^l88obn’a I S i OI T y t0 iD V 5 "’ a P t: your devotion to tho miisic, but may I introduce a friend, Sir U |“?Crt Armytagc, an old ship mate of mine ” The widow returned gracefully tho stiff and formal bow of tho baronet. “ Xpu are evidently a lover of music, Mrs. Aunclayo, I read it in your face,’' said ho looking into the violet eyes of his companion* who scorned to resent the stare, for she added coldly. Yes, I think with Shakespeare that a man who has not A soul Mr nlusic is not M bo trusted. I love MduddssOhn’s music, all pf it; it is ail So full of feeling.” on* Hubert listened, seemingly drinking in every word she uttered, and not oven (attic" ms eyes from her face ns she spoke in earnest tones, with her eyes fixed on tho bund. She had caught a glimpse of tho baronet’s face, only for an mstant-she bad not liked 5{„ Ifc seemed as if she had seen him before, but that could not be. It must have been some one like, she thought, as Sir Hubert was tAking Ins departure soon after, ( “Are you off Armytagc, ” said Mr. Jones; by the way will you come to church with ns to-morrow. There is to W some extra good singing—a now singer with a wonderful t oico, is to take tho solos. The verger will show you our pew in the middo aisle. You must lunch with us after, I call it lunch though it really is early dinner. My wife goes in for a heavy speech at nine o’clock on Sundays. ” * Thanks, no I leave church to tho devil dodgers. I’ll look you up for a stroll later on—in tho afternoon.” “Do come round by the side walk ; you’ll find me in my lair, in all probability snoring liko a grampus, tflrly dinners aro downright suicidal in my case. We’ll drive down to Mrs. Aunolayc’s and cat muffins and brown bread and butter—by-bye, come early, I'll try to keep awake for you ; don’t forgot the side walk, its nearer.” CHAPTER Xllh terror. “I feel my sinews slackened with the fright, And a cold sweat trills down o’er all my limbs, As if I wore dissolving Into water.” . Dryden, it was on that same afternoon of tho garden party on a sofa near a window of one of the rooms of tho Hotel Continental at Goldsborough a young girl is lying asleep, A beautiful girl, the fair, face full of dimples in its fairness contrasting strongly with her mourning gown of black, perhaps too pi (imp to bo classical looking; more of the TiliAns Venus type than that of n Raphael, mom particularly in the wavy masses fit golden hair that crown the head. The heat is oppres sive and tho pretty sleeper has evidently succumbed to ils influence or fatigue, or both, for art *6pen book, “Kate Coventry. ’’ '6n the ground near, together with "a dainty French shoo as if for company, whilst tho well arched little foot to which tho slipper belongs is innocently showing its perfection in its thin silken hose at the foot of the sofa. A slight breeze has got up outside flapping tho Venetians and the noise together with a deep growl, awakens tho sleeping beauty, the blue eyes wander round slowly as if their owner was slopping oilt of dreamland into real every day life. For a minute or tw6 she is too frightened to move, and does ndlhing but stare in abject fear and jiolplessncss at a largo bloodhound— A veritable lion in size and appearance—lying erduchcd on the floor near her, its fierce look ing bond on the fore paws, the eyes glaring up savagely at the recumbent figure, ready for n spring she thinks with alarm. She is naturally timid, and has always been frigh tened of dogs. “Tho brute is watching mo out of his groat big eyes,” she says to herself, and tho sight lakes her very breath away from abject terror. What con she do? The bell is at the tho other end of tho room, hut she dare not move—tho very thought of tho jaws of tho monster sends all tho blood back to her heart, which is beating furiously. She musters up strength of voice to gasp “poor doggee, poor fellow,” kindly, though she dare not attempt a conciliatory stroke or friendly pat. The Venetians still coninuo to flap, at which the dog growls low but savagely. The girl is at her wits’ end. At length, summoning up courage, she raises slowly her arm—a plump, rounded, dimpled arm, bare to the elbow —from its position, the soft laces of tho Indian silk sleeve having fallen, leaving tho arm .a bore, tempting morsel for any wild animal. Taking a piece of sugar from tho silver tray of tea things noAr, she throws it to the dog, then another lump or two, fol lowed by some biscuits, all of which the animal devours eagerly. She has come to tho end of her little store, sugar basin and biscuit tin are both empty. What can she do? Sho shudders in dread ns tho animal gels up, stretches itself and places a heavy paw on her, evidently to entreat sagaciously for more, but she has uono to give him. The last remnant of courage sho has is fast ebbing away, as sho waits bveathlcsly, almost choking with the heating of her heart A sharp tap at tho door, followed by another, but tho girl is too panic stricken to utter oven the wonts “come in,” though sho knows it is her only hope. Tho dog responds with n growl, the door is opened slowly and noise lessly by a waiter, evidently 'knowing or thinking that the occupant of number 6 is, or has, been indulging in a siesta this hot afternoon. The dog stands erect, growling savagely at the intruder, who heats a retreat quickly on seeing tho Ferocious look of tho animal, after closing the door hurriedly. A dead silence follows—tho girl can hoar the agonising 8U.spo.ise no longer. Tho room seems to whirl round as she closes her eyes, her face, which had gradually been getting whiter and whiter, is now as marble itself in its deathly palor and bloodless expression. Hurried footsteps outside—the door is flung open with a hang without any notice as a man rushes in, seizes the brute by tho collar, and, is about to apologise profusely for the dogs intrusion, when his words nro arrested at seeing the girl’s face, for sho is past notic ing anything and lies in a dead swoon. Ho looks round for water, then flnding none, ho flings hurriedly a largo bouquet of roses ho has taken out of a vase near on to tho floor, uses tho water lavishly in sprinkling over tho still white face on tho couch; then ring ing tho bell violently, ho mbs the pretty soft hands, and with a fan he lias discovered sus pended from her waist, he fans tho girl till assistance comes. He has pulled up tho Venetians and opened the door wide for more air; the room seems stifling, largo as it is, arid tho strong olio perfume of the many roses adds to tho oppressive and suffocating atmosphere. His room is upstairs. Ho does not liko to leave the girl in her state, or long ago be would have fetched.smelling salts and can do cologne. She is very beautiful ho thinks to himself. Ho has had, lime to lake in every item of tho pretty unknown, even to tho dainty shaped foot and perfectly moulded arm—ho rather grudges tho idea of intrusion or interference. A waiter answers the boll promptly, then hurries away to an upper story for the maid, who soon comes bustling in armed with a tumbler of water mid sal volatile, hub not smelling salts, thinks tho stranger, apparently pleased as ho makes the discovery, as ho still watches the white face. Tho maid divides her attention between her young mistress, between times having a good stare at tho tall, handsome, dark gentleman who couldn’t take his eyes off our young lady, as tho abignil afterwards tolls tho head waiter confi dentially. “Have you no smelling salts?” says tho stranger, breaking tho silence, winch is be coming alarming. “ 1 don’t know whore Miss Funny keeps it, and Mrs. Cholmondoloy has taken hers with her, sir; but you are hotter now, Miss Fan,” adds tho woman kindly os the girl oponshor largo eyes wondoringly at tho group watching her, then closes them again as the stranger leaves the room, hurries up stairs, three stops at a time, to his room, and back again to tho drawing-room witli smelling salts and a large cutglass bottle of strong cau do cologne, which ho hands to the maid, who has found it useless to get her young mis tress to oven look at the sal volatile. There is no excuse for remaining; he will reserve his apologies for tho dog to a more fitting occasion, he says to himself as he reluctantly leaves the room silently, Followed submis sively by the dog who has Inin quiet and well behaved (as if quite understanding what was going on) on tho hearth rug awaiting his superior’s orders. Tho girl, though hotter, is still tying polo and silent with closed eyes, as man and dog pass tho sofa on their way out of tho room. Tho girl lies still for some time, then, hear ing carriage wheels, she rouses herself and listens for a step on tho hotel stairs—for her : one friend, Mrs. Cholmondoloy. “ I am so glad to got homo again my dear, said a cheery voice, “ the heat was oppressive, it has tired mo out for a wonder—1 don’t fee) myself at all—and tho speaker throw horsolf into tho first arm chair. “Dot me ring for some tea,” said the girl, busy taking off her friend’s gloves and bonnet, “No, you must Iirto some icod wino and water—I shall ring,” “CJurdon parties arc so hot *uul tiring,

when 1 marry my Croesus I shall have my garden parties by moonlight.” “ I wish you had been there, my dear, I am sure you would havo onjoyou it thoroughly. Everything was so perfectly arranged, and there wore such lots of nice moiu 1 used to hate the garden parlies in England, at least generally speaking lUoW Vhfire Ad few moo, but a tribe of w'dmoiii who looked as if they wore gditig to jump down my throat for being theio—And without a man. “There; you must put your feet up and rest for a whole hour, I knew you would he Into—tho waiter asked mo—so I thought it best to postpone dinner till eight. Now,, tell mo all about it, plcnso,” said tho girl sweetly. “ Well, my dear, it was altogether a lovely parly, and everyone was very nice, hut 1 had a surprise—I was going to say shook. Who do you think was there—you will never guess.” “How'can I? It is too hot oven to think,” “No other than Sir Hubert Armytagc.” Her companion started and turned very pale, “Sir Hubert Armytagc,” said she in tones of surprise, then a ssrious look came over her face. “Yes; Sir Hubert Armvtago,” continued tho older lady; “ but art tho very wreck of his former self—in fact a booby or Iniuocile, or idiotic, to bo charitable, from a sunstroke I fancy. You must remember what a darling, bright, slap dash fellow he used to be. ” “Of course, I saw hut very little of him,” said tho girl; “ but I remember his voice and laugh." “Yes, he was the veritable life of the house,” said her friend. “The last time he dined at Woodlands he horrified the bishop by pulling all my hair down and then danced the can-can round me—such a boy! The Hubert of to-day is only the spectre of my boyish love. I don’t think he said ten words, and as to memory he remembered nothing— positively nothing—stared like a yahoo, my dear; yes, a yahoo when I mentioned Trevor’s name; it quite upset me, such a pity, for I am sure he will end his days in a lunatic asylum, and the dear old, old title and family will be extinct. You are looking pale; don’t you feel well? It is the heat, so very trying. I feel it." “Yes,” said the girl; “and no wonder in the hot sun. It has been quite cool in this room, but I also had a surprise—a visitor. You will never guess who?” "It’s too hot, my deni*, as you say, oven to think. I suppose it was some” one of tho hotel visitors, who had mistaken his t'ooni, stupid' follow. ” “No; it was—who do you think?” “ I know. It was Sir Hubert, Ho loft very earty*, though I couldn’t make out why. 1 fancied ho must bo ill,” “No, it was an immense bloodhound, that’s all I can remember, and then I fainted." “The brute,” said Mrs. Cholmondoloy. “I know it—such a formidable looking dog too. I must speak to tho manager. I found him on my mat this morning. Ho has taken such a fancy to mo, poor thing; but it might frighten somebody to death.” “ What is ho like, I moan Sir Hubert,” said the girl. “ Horribly changed, my dear, but you can judge for yourself. 1 asked him to coluo and see us soon. Ho is going away in a few days —Altogether. I think I would rather we had not mot, I would have preferred having tho old Hubert of hy-gono days in my mind’s eye—Justus he was—unchanged, as I always picture him ; but that Hubert is dead, and a now man, an apology in fact, is in his place. No doubt tho'motamerpohisis is attributable to living out of the pale of civilisation the lust few* years, though from what I saw to-daj and tho people I met, there seems no excuse at all for young men degenerating as they always have tho character of doing—getting uncouth and bearish after living in the colonies. I think now it must bo their own fault if they do sink or degenerate; by tho way, there was a very pretty little widow there. I was quite charmed with her my self.” “But you arc so easily pleased,” said the girl, with n little pettish pout, “and widows know how to be captivating.” “Ah! but my little widow was not one of your showy attractive bouncing widows and there was nothing coquettish about her, in fact, I did not know sho was a widow at all; sho looked so young and girlish. ” “ What did she wear?” said the girl. “ Her dross was perfect, and suited her. It was quite simple—white soft silk with a Inco bonnet and parasol to match; but she had such lovely flowers —roses and forget-mc-nots. Sho quite won my heart, for she offered mo her scat, no doubt thinking I must bo tired with tho burden of such a heavy brigade of fat to carry about, and I was really very tired and cross, and seals were few and far between, so it was very good of the little woman, and wo became groat friends. I found that she is devoted to music. I am so sorry you wore not with me, you would have liked her, Fan.” “I never make friends like other girls. It always seems too much trouble to cultivate friendship in travelling only to bo forgotten by them,” said tho girl wearily. “ Nonsense, my dear; don’t got lacka daisical,” said Mrs. Cholmondoloy, taking the glass of iced wino from her companion. (TO RE CONTINUED.)