|Newspaper Title||The Bendigo Independent (Vic. : 1891 - 1918)|
|Trove Title||The Devil's Own. An Australian Story|
THE DEVIL'S OWN
AN AUSTRALIAN STORY BY MRS. RICHMOND HENTY. (ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.) CHAPTER XXIX. LOYALTY.
"Pray, who was there ? Why all the court and town."—SHAKESPEARE.. “Here I am at last,” said Mrs, Fortes- cue entering Miss Vavasour's sunny room,
sweeping her long court train of pale rose satin, with its bouquets of blush roses and forget-me-nots along the carpet in par- donable pride and gratification. "Mr. Fortescue had ensconced himself with The Times in a small recess near one of the windows, “ to give ample room,” as he said, “ for the tail spreading proccess of the court paraphernalia." “Is that really my wife ! I couldn’t have believed it possible ! Why Connie, you are much prettier than l ever thought you could be. Is that all your own hair ?” ‘‘My very own,” said his wife merrily, “on my own head.” “ I never thought you had so much." said he. “ No more did I,” said his wife, “ but oh ! what a twisting and a twirling ; what a frizzing and a curling; do you know nothing would ever tempt me to undergo the process of court hairdressing again. I really thought I was being beheaded, and fully expected every moment to see my head roll on to the floor.” " I am afraid, Connie, we shall never be content to resign ourselves to obscurity, or settle down in our ' umble ome' again after all this court finery and excitement,” said Mr. Fortescue in a serio comic tone of dolefulness. At which remark his wife put her fair arms round er husband’s neck and gave him a kiss. “ There ! I am blind for life,” said he, blinking, half in pretence, half in reality. “ One of your head gear arrangements went bang into my eye.” “Court plumes, sir, is the correct appellation of head gear arrangements,” says his wife, with a graceful sweep back of her train as she moves aside for her cousin, who comes tripping into the room as light as a feather, her heavy train of white velours frise and satin, with its bouquets of while azaleas, over her arm gracefully as if going to court was an event of every day occurrence to the dainty little dame “ I am so glad we have our hair done early Connie dear, my ears are only just getting cool,” she says, smiling as she notices the squeezed up position of Mr. Fortescue in the corner as he looks at her with beaming admiration. “You are positively lovely Vera, my child,” says Mrs. Fortescue as Miss Va- vasour insists on putting a finishing touch to a refractory azalea that will rear its head in stiff ungracefulness out of the corsage flowers of Mrs. Annelaye’s dress. “Fine feathers make fine birds,” says Vera with a soft sigh of sadness as if a shadow of some past sorrow or regret was passing in her mind. " I only hope,” continues Mrs. For- tescue, “I shall behave properly and not disgrace you all by tumbling down with fright just in front of the Queen. I s wonder if she is very formidable looking in state—you know I have never seen the Queen, aunt Dot." “ No love, she is most gentle and kind, particularly to timid, and unsophisicated debutants. Vera, the excitement and hairdressing together has quite given you a bright color my child, such an improve- ment.” They are standing putting on their gloves whilst waiting for Lady Mab-l Ponsonby, who is to present them, and who has promised to call for them early, so as to, if possible, be in time for Her Majesty, though Lady Mabel generally does things in a scramble. Lady Mabel is a favorite cousin of Miss Vavasour, and a lively chatty woman—so loquacious that she is termed, by her more sturdy cousins, Lady Babel, though every one likes her. "For me! " says, Mrs. Annelaye taking a letter from the salver a servant hands her, and looking at it curiously puts down her bouquet to open it. “Only a note—a few lines”—but short as it is the contents have sent all the color out of Mrs. Annelaye's face, " What is it my darling ?” said Miss Vavasour. “ Oh ; auntie, auntie,” said Vera in a choking voice, as if to check her tears. “ No bad news Vera, surely," said Mrs. Fortescue, jumping up and coming for- ward anxiously, “you have had quite enough trouble already my dear.” “ Aunt Dot, Vera has has no breakfast, she is just weak from exhaustion,” said Mrs. Fortescue, partly guessing the con- tents of her cousin’s letter, “do make her take a glass of wine ; insist upon it. Vera, pet, for goodness sake don’t even shed a tear, I am quite sure you will be turned out deary if you appear with red eyes— there! she is smiling, that’s right darling —no one is worth crying for.” "Well ; I am sure ! if that don’t bate Bannagher,” said Mr. Fortescue with a shocked grimace of surprise, “what next ? I am an injured man ” Miss Vavasour had flown down stairs an up again bringing a glass of wine, which Vera took. “ Odds boddikens ! Goody twoshoes ! if Lady Mabel’s carriage isn’t there—the horses foaming at the mouth with rage at having to champ the bit so long, and mihi beate martini, what flowers ! I quite envy her ladyship’s servants, their most attractive appearance—daffadown dilles and lillies—her ladyship is looking up and laughing, shall I kiss my hand, no I daren't, so I'll see you down to the carriage, I can do no more. Allow me”— arm poked out old courtier fashion, as Vera, laughing, kissed her aunt, handing the note blushingly, and whispering " Norman may see it,” she hurried down stairs and, with her cousin, was soon whirled away, to assist, as the French say at the fashionable gathering and galaxy of beauty at Buckingham Palace that day. As the noise of the wheels died away Miss Vavasour looked at Mr. Fortescue thoughtfully and Mr. Fortescue looked at Miss Vavasour comically. “Well aunt Dot what, shall we do with ourselves till they return, I feel quite melancholy already at the wafting away of such bright visions—suppose we go and regale ourselves with the waxen images and court trains of Madame Tussaud, or, better still, the British Museum, I feel inclined for mummy worship, something venerable and respect- able to settle my brain after being so dazzled— shall we say the British Mutseum." Miss Vavasour is reading the letter Mrs. Annelaye had given her, after which she hands it silently and thoughtfully to Mr. Fortescue. He reads it over twice carefully, Miss Va- vasour watching the expression of his face. " H'm ! ha ! no wonder the little woman was upset; but she does not care
for him does she ? I shouldn't bother my head about the letter,” said he. “ She never even liked him,” said Miss Vavasour, and it is my firm belief he is an—an—” " An what ? aunt Dot ; you frighten me you look so tragic—a very Lady Macbeth—an what ? I wonder if you think the same as I do, my idea begins with an ‘an’.” “ An—an impostor—there,” said Miss Vavasour in a very tragic voice, as if spitting her words out was quite a relief. “Just my idea,” said Mr. Fortescue, looking at the note. “I thought it long ago, but one doesn’t like to condemn a fellow without evidence ; however, time will prove; as to Vera—time can be in- definite, she is, not bound to say when—if she has made a rash promise and is too scrupulous to break it. I wonder how the ponies are getting on, you know aunt Dot you are spoiling those girls, you know you are ; I shall never be able to scold or even manage Connie again.” “ She will never require it my dear sir, how handsome your wife looked to-day, did she not, I thought her dress more effec- tive than Vera’s,” said Miss Vavasour with that charming way she had of say- ing what she knows will please her hearers. Miss Vavasour had been in luck’s way of late—an old and rejected lover haying died , and left his old love a very solid legacy, together with a house in Brooke street, Grosvenor Square, much to the lady’s surprise and gratification, though tinged with a shade of remorse at her treatment of her lover in bygone days. She had insisted on giving her nieces their presentation dresses, no small item of expenditure, and as far as Mrs. Fortescue was concerned, totally impossible for them to afford with their very limited means. “If you don’t mind, Norman, and have nothing better to do, we will take a hansom and drive round by the palace just to have a look at the carriages.” “ And a peep at the ponies,” said Mr. Fortescue, with a sly look. " So we will. I’ll ring when you are ready. I want to have a look at the Princess, so if we start soon we may see her in the Avenue if, we get out, we can retain the cab.” “ Are you sure you don’t mind driving with an old woman, amongst such a con- course of spectators,” said Miss, Vava- sour. “Well, I am both surprised and shocked. I never thought you could be guilty of fishing for compliments.” “ Then I must run away and put on my come-follow-me-boys bonnet and make myself smart. I know men hate to be kept waiting when they have decided to go out, and I am too old to waste time in titivating. Lunch is ready, don’t wait for me. I’ll just put up a few cak.s and get ready whilst you have lunch, we have not much time to spare.” “Surely Aunt Dorothy we are not going to eat, drink, and be merry in the cab.” “Oh no, the cakes are for the girls if we see them, they must be famished.” It was a crowded drawing-room, the first of the season, when there is gene- rally a rush of presentations. “One can always depend upon being presented to the Queen in May,” said Lady Violet Marston. “I expect the Queen will not hold many more drawing- rooms. She must be getting on in years. I only hope I may live as long, and be as respected.” “ Mama chose the first drawing-room for me to be presented, because my dress will be so useful for the early part of the season, when one is bound to look fresh and nice,” said her friend. “ We are getting nearer, good- ness, I rather dread the ordeal, they tell me the rooms are so cold in May. Mama said she actually shivered last year.” “ Provisions for the camp,” said Mr. Fortescue putting a fat paper bag into Lady Mabel’s carriage, he had easily found by the large daffodil nosegays of the ser- vants. “ Aunt Dot is in a cab over there amongst the empty carriages.” “ You dear good fellow—a truly good Samaritan. I am as hungry as a hound,” said Lady Mabel spreading out a large white shawl by way of a tablecloth and pouncing upon a sponge cake. "Were it not for the gazing multitude I should bring a picnic basket, but I cannot draw down the blinds, it would be too cruel al- together, for the poor things they have so few pleasures— they may stare at me to their hearts contents if it is any treat to them.” “ Ain’t she a beauty,” said a cadaverous looking individual staring into the car- riage.” “ Yes, like one them marble busts in the British Museum,” said another. " Look at the old lady’s diamonds, she might have spared, the young ones a few,” said a third. “ There ! " said Lady Mabel, “ did you overhear such ingratitude; to be called old lady to begin with after I have been exhibiting my charms for the last hour pro bono publico, I’ll have my revenge I’ll bring my picnic basket next time and down will go the blinds, and amen to the the exhibition of diamonds and brocade. I feel better now. I’ll leave you my favorite pug when I die, Mr. Fortescue, for your thoughtfulness in feeding me.” “ It wasn’t me—you must thank Miss Vavasour Lady Mattel, she is a monument of kind thoughts and good deeds.” “ I am so glad you are recovering your voracious appetite, lady fair,” said Mr. Fortescue to Mrs. Annelaye, who was slowly nibbling a maccaroon. “No ; she is losing the little she had of it said Lady Mabel,” what a treasure for a husband to have a wife that lives upon one maccaroon a day.” “Oh ! Norman, I feel so greedy,” said Mrs. Anneylaye. “Do look at that poor, miserable little atom there shivering, I am sure she is hungry, poor child; would you mind giving her this " (handing up a Queen cake). “ Certainly not, but like the loaves and small fishes, what is that amongst so many. Here little picanniny, bow, wow, here’s a cake for you, eat it up like a good child.” A smile of satisfaction passed over the faces of the crowd near. " God bless her, she is as bonnie as she is good,” said an old woman peering for- ward and taking a second look into the carriage. “ What do you say for it ? Thank you sir," said the mother, an emaciated look- ing woman in shabby mourning . “Thank you, sir,” said the child timidly, picking the currants off the cake. “I must return to Aunt Dorothy, I left her amongst the coachmen,” said Mr. Fortescue. “ A very respectable body guard, I am sure, and much—" “The rest of Lady Mabel’s sentence was lost to Mr. Fortescue as the carriage, moved on, and to Vera’s delight she saw the little child offering up a large corner of her cake smilingly to the pale mother. ‘‘ Poor little mite,” said Vera to herself as her thoughts wandered to her own little ones, well cared for, and just now frisking
about joyfully amongst the chestnuts and flowers in the Kensington gardens. " Here comes the Princess Mrs. Anne- laye, see, they have cleared the course; here come the Guards, they always escort the Prince and Princess,” said Lady Mabel, as -the brilliant cortege swept past —the Prince and Princess bowing right and left to the loud cheers of the multi- tude. She is very lovely said Vera, so fair and girlish looking, quite different to what I had pictured her from her por- traits. Her photos, always represent her as a large dark-looking woman, and tall, instead of a small and delicately fair young girl. I shall not be the least bit frightened at being pr se ted if it is to the Princess.” “No,” said her cousin, “I already feel quite inclined to give her a kiss, she looks so sweet." “ That dreadful band ! how people can like such shrill music, so awfully metallic and brassy,” said Lady Mabel, as they passed through the gates while the Guards Band, just finishing “ God Save the Queen,” as Royalty passed in and out of sight of the elated crowd. “ What a beautiful creature,” said old Sir Peregrine Frothwell to his friend, General Bramble, as Vera passed on, looking terribly white and tearful, though she tries to appear light hearted, as she catches a glimpse of Lord Rudolph look- ing at her with a smile of evident satis- faction. “ I wonder who she is,” said Sir Pere- grine, twisting his waxed moustache to vanity pitch. “ Never saw her before. A great recommendation,’ isn’t it ? ” “ Cavendish knows everybody, don’t you know,” said a young exquisite of the haw haw period, ‘ “I have been watching Lady Babel’s party myself, I am curious about the little beauty. I say Cavendish, old fellah, who is the woman in-white.” " Yes, the woman in white, good title,” echoed Sir Peregrine. Eh General ! deuced pretty woman too, where does she hail from, eh ? too fair to be Irish, too delicate to be Scotch, and I could swear she is not English, or I should have heard off her,” continued the Baronet, who having been a wealthy brewer had, like many of his kind, become fashionably celebrated for his “beer and his bawbees,” as general Bramble says, and knew every- body. “ Straight from the other end of the world, the antipodes,” said Lord Caven- dish. " Hey ! what ! come, come, don’t tell me. Tell that to the marines,” said the General. “ It is a fact, nevertheless, my Christian brethren,” said their oracle. I had it from the very best authority Lord Rudolph Vereker." "What the woman with the thingummy flowers —there is nothing aboriginal about her,” said the ex-brewer, “ is there Bramble. And so she is a widow—is it possible! Why, she is only a girl, and a widow.” " A very pretty widow, too,” said the General. ‘ Heigh, ho ! if I was only thirty years younger.” “It is never too late to mend, General,” said Lord Cavendish. “ H’m ! suppose not," said the general, " but I always think of the old Scotch- man’s proverb to a young benedict who had just entered the world of bondage : Young mon ye ha’ tied a knot wi’ yer tongue which ye canna undo with yer teeth —but I must just move on and take another look at the prettiest woman I have seen for many a day—an Austra- lian ! I can’t believe it.” “ Well dears and how did you got on, tell me all about it,” said Miss Vavasour a few hours later, as Lady Mabel, Mrs. Fortescue, and Mrs. Annelaye sat at the tea table feasting on its dainties hungrily. “I’m too hungry to speak, give me ten miutes grace dear and I’ll eclipse you all in talking,” said Lady Mabel with her mouth full. “ I wasn’t frightened a bit,” said Mrs. Fortescue. “ Of course not,” said Mr. Fortescue, “ give my wife a handsome dress to wear and l firmly believe she would face a judge and jury,” said Mr. Fortescue. “Never mind old girl come to me for a character and now tell me how you got on —did you trip over your train and catch hold of Her Majesty when you found yourself falling—and who was there. I shall expect fall particulars, list, and discription of all the court digni- taries.” “Oh ! don’t ask me—blessed is he that expecteth,nothing and he will not be dis- appointed—you often tell me. I cannot remember anything or anybody, it all seemed a hurry skurry from beginning to end," said his wife ; “as to gliding grace- fully about we seemed to be simply rushed, through. All I can remember is a confused mass of heads, then someone seizing the tail of my gown and bundling us through, I hadn’t time to think, much less notice anything or anybody.” “ What did the Princess wear,” said Miss Vavasour. “ Oh, black satin or silk I think it was —widow’s cap and weepers, no, by-the-by , it was a veil." " My, dear girl don’t kill the dear Prince yet, it was the Queen you are thinking of,” said Lady Mabel, “we were just in time, and I saw the dear old Queen give such a sweet look at Vera." “ Lawks,” said Mr. Fortescue, “ I wonder if she knew that she was smiling on South-Sea savages.” “ I was very frightened,” said Vera “ and much more before we got into the throne room—people stared so.” “ Connie behaved splendidly, I envied her self possession, she marched along, head up, in grand style, whilst I followed feeling my small importance, like some little pug dog in insignificance ; but I saw the Princess, and I was quite in love with the Queen, she looked so kind and positively smiled.” (TO BE CONTINUED.) ■ I ■ ' —i— ——i The South Ambbioan Politics.— A strong party is being formed in Brazil to oppose tho military domination in,the . country,. It is al leged that 20,000 rebels/ iarb preparing to, march on Caracas,^tho,capital..of Venezuela.! Tho troubles in, the Argentine .are .growing; more sprio.us. The capital, Ouonos Ayres is in a state of siege, iMMOiut Taxation.— Signor Nitti notes the curious fact that while Italy has even now no regular rate or tax on behalf of the poor it , has a tax on tho poor. This, refers to tho tax on Government lotteries, which brings to tho public treasury a gross income of 75 millions of lire (about, tbreo millions, sterling),.more or loss, which is, levied,,oh,, thb .superstition and Ignorance of the poorer population. '‘No country in tho. wothr (says this,distinguished oconoinist) "possesses an institution more hateful and rnoro anli-sooial than tjio Italian and ‘Austrian lotteries, in 'which! tha stato de frauds the poorest class with complete oonsbi ousnoss of tho fpaud, plant iii tho’people (ho disastrous boliof that fortune comes for more from chance or from miracle than froni work.” ■’