|Newspaper Title||The Bendigo Independent (Vic. : 1891 - 1918)|
|Trove Title||The Devil's Own. An Australian Story|
"Win her with gifts if she respect not words, Dumb jewels often in their silent mind More than quick words do move a woman’s mind. SHAKESPEARE.
A fine handsome fellow was Gustave, the courier to Sir Hubert Armytage, or Monsieur Gustave as the waiters and chambermaids usually called him; tall and well made, with good clear cut features and fair hair, there was really nothing French in the usual term about him except his name. Many said that Sir Hubert Armytage imitated his courier in style and appearance. Others, again, said the courier imitated Sir Hubert; but Gustave would have laughed a ringing laugh of merri- ment, showing all his white and even teeth, at such an—to him—absurd notion. C..tain it was that there was no question as to which was the handsomest and best tyle of the two, master or man. To add to the courier’s superiority in form and feature, Gustavo had a good walk—bold and erect, with head well poised, as if pleased with all the world and proud of him- self. More the light, springy walk and de- bonnair deportment of an Hungarian chas- seur or Prussian hussar. The baronet, unfortunately, had not this military gift. He walked with a slouch head, much down between his shouders, as if objecting to meet the world face to face. On this bright summer morning Gustave dressed in his usual tunic suit of dark green cloth very much frogged-braided and as aignel- letted-dapper as a guardsman even to his tasselled Hessians, the terror of the Con- tinental and other “ boots’'—left the hotel with his floral gift. He stopped to speak to a cabman on the stand near; it was the same man that had driven Sir Hubert Armytage to the station. After a few minutes’ conversa- tion, Gustave jumped into the cab, and was whirled away to the station, where he took the train for Bayton, a jaunt of not very many minutes. Walking at a rapid rate, neither looking to the right or left, as if he new the place of old, he soon found himself at the door of the “Nest,” where he rang the bell with a loud peal; so loud that Mrs. Annelaye quietly writing letters in the drawing-rooom, almost jumped off her seat in alarm at the startling sound, fearing it might be a telegram—and telegrams always made her nervous for in her small experience of these electric messages, they had generally been tidings of death or illness. She soon recovered her calmness, however, when the servant entered with a cardboard box, and said: “A gentleman wishes to see you, ma’am. He looks like a foreign gentleman. He has a message he says.” Mrs. Armytage blushed as she opened the box and took out the bouquet—Sir Hubert's gift. “I don’t think I ought to accept it. Yet I don’t like to send it back ; it would be too fussy, and appear like an insult. And so many kind friends send me flowers. I hope this does not mean anything. I wish it had come from anyone else,” she thought. " Tell the messenger to walk in,” The courier entered looking so handsome as he blushed that the maid servant seemed loth to shut the door and the vision of such a attractive fellow from her view. “His Excellency Sir Hubert Armytage’s compliments to madame, and hopes the flowers are to madame’s taste,” he said, with a slight inclination of the fine head, as he looked at Mrs Anneylaye Now, it so happened that the baronet had never sent any message at all, telling his courier to send the flowers with Sir Hubert Armytage’s compliments written on one of his visiting cards. But, doubtless, there are men gifted with curiosity as well as women; certain it was that the messenger made the bust of the few moments he was in the widow’s pretty drawing room. " My compliments and thanks to Sir Hubert Armytage. It is very kind; but I hope he will not trouble to send any more —my garden is so full of flowers, I have many more than I really want,” said Mrs. Anney- laye, opening her purse to bestow some gratuity on the messenger for his trouble. " A thousand thanks, madame, but l cannot accept your douceur. Sir Hubert objects to my doing so, I am well paid for my services." “Then you must have a glass of wine after your walk—the day is very warm,” she said, ringing the bell and ordering cake and wipe. The courier did not refuse a glass of wine and some cake, which he drank and ate slowly, looking round the room as he did so as if in admiration of the different pictures and pretty ornaments; and as his blue eyes wandered about even the widow could not help saying to herself: “What a handsome fellow! too handsome to be a servant. A veritable Achilles!” He, standing full height near the door, bowed his head gracefully and respectfully to her as he drank the wine. " His Excellency left this morning for the country.” " Oh, Indeed,” said the widow, with almost a pleased look, the courier fancied ; " it is such lovely weather for travelling." The courier still hesitated, " I wonder what he is waiting for,” she thought. “Madame has a very charming chateau, he said. " like a beautiful picture; and the gardens they are perfect. They remind me of Italy—beautiful Italy.” " Yes, it is a pretty place,” said Mrs. Anneylaye, " would you like to go on the beach? There is a walk through the garden. The gate is open. ” “ I thank you very much,” he said, bowing courteously; " it was exactly what I wished permission to do. ” He took up his hat and bowed himself out. Sauntering slowly through the garden, stopping a moment to admire a large rose tree with its clusters of rich dark blossoms —a little butterfly was hovering over the flowers, a sedate humble-bee was booming about. They might have heard the words that were uttered by the stranger— " Yes, beautiful as an angel—too good for him. She dislikes him. I could see that- She never noticed his flowers nor raised them to her nose,” he said. He made his way to the bench, standing for a moment in thought, looking out to sea. A beautiful picture, the ocean and sky outlying each other in the deep blue coloring of an Italian scene. A group of happy children in little white suits recalled his
thoughts to the sands, where the little ones were digging and delving to their hearts' content, busy at work making miniature fortifications under the command of an elder member of the juvenile community, aged about eight or nine. Near them, seated on a piece of rock on the bank, was their nurse, a comfortable, matronly looking woman, who, with a little one on herlap, sang and worked and talked, alternately keeping a watchful eye on her small charges near. She was not a little taken aback at the sight of a man ap- pearing on the scene of their quiet and pic- uresque retreat. And such a man, too. “For all the world,” she thought, “like a stage Russian count. A foreigner, of course,” she added, with an inward quake, her idea of foreigners being mostly taken from highly colored descriptions in cheap novels or in her limited experience of theatrical scenes, where foreigners were portrayed as fierce looking, bowhiskered ruffians of the brigand type. Gustave had a way of his own with women. It had always succeeded—he was not bash- ful ; au contraree, many would have termed it bounce. On this occasion he watched the children, who eyed him askance for a while. Then he added a grand fortification to their castle with a small spadelying near, and quite won the small hearts, and they were soon on terms of intimacy with “Jack the giant killer," as Puck called the stranger. Then he turned to the nurse, and at once subdued all her fear by stating who and what he was, and his errand, that of a message from his master, and soon quite a friendly intercourse was established, which had the desired effect for Gustave of learning all he wanted to know for certain motives of his own ; and the nurse being a good-natured chatty body, was communicate partly, perhaps owng to the fascinations of Monsieur Gustave. It was over a quarter of an hour when he took his leave and a good portion of the good woman’s heart with him as he hurried to the station and was back at the hotel, and in a sober suit of grey was off again in less than an hour to the station where, by hard driving, he was able to catch a country train to see the mines as he had told Mr. Forth that morning at the flower shop.