|Newspaper Title||The Bendigo Independent (Vic. : 1891 - 1918)|
|Trove Title||The Devil's Own. An Australian Story|
THE DEVIL'S OWN
AN AUSTRALIAN STORY
CHAPTER XXXII (Continued).
BY MRS. ICHMOND HENTY. (ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)
“I’ll sue you to the carnage it I may, he said, humbly, as the widow remained a second to lock her escritoire. “ Perhaps we may, meet, again soon.”
“ Perhaps, she said. ; JL hope not, she thought "Quite* family procession/' said Lady Mabel,, heading the party . going, down stairs, and waiting for Miss Vavasour to to enter, the carriage, fi rstv " Wbll if always had an, idea that Sydenham . was exactly the opposite direction,” said . Lord Vorcker, ai they drove Utroiigh-.thc Park. “ So it is ; we are going to Richmond,” said Lady Mabel, solemnly. “ Don’t you care to go; we can put you down,?*, added her ladyship in a sorio comic tone of voice. “Don’t mention it; poor Sir Hubert will go fall tare down to Sydenham, and not hading me there he’ll commit suicide as surb.as fate,” said Lord Vcreker. "Not lie ; he is nob such.a fool as you think,” said Lady Mabel. "Don’t let us tilk of him, or he might appear,” It whs one of those rnro sunny days in London, all the world and his wife know so well how to appreciate the foliage of the chestnuts and other trees in the park. The perfection of freshness in their spring tints which amply compensates . for that melancholy skeleton .appearance during the long winter months. Miss Vavasour was quietly enjoying the scene. The crowd in tho park, though it was early for fashionables, the streets crowded with busy pedestrians in search of health or otherwise—and saying to herself, " so glad Lady Mabel’s freak was to go to Richmond.. I only wish I had known it; I could have put in a cake for the chick**, poor little dears ” Lody Mabel, regardless of., everything and everybody, rattled on at her usual railway speed of talking, her tongue never censed till th*y reached Richmond. There was ono great charm in Lady Mabel Ponsonby’stalkeo. talkee, she never inter fared with any one, or any one’s thoughts. She required no verbal acknow ledgment of her " gift of the gib.” Lord Pelican an old. gourmand of the most, fastidious type, a great diner out, was wont to say, " Dinner, my dour sir, it was a dinner-! and to crown all I had Lady. Babel for a partner. Just the woman for a fallow to enjoy a good dinner with.” . "Lady Mabel 1” would his friend say. “ Yt-s; Lady Babel, or Mabel. She talks the whole, time, tells you in one long breath all (he gossip, scandal, newt*, and tit bits of London, and lets you linish your dinner in peace, without expecting a Gorman *soh’ or a Yankee ‘yah,’ or an English ‘really,’ or any other national interjection—that’s tho woman for me.” To-day Lady Mabel’s loquacious powers are centred in n description of the many house*, street?, mansions, bridges, and such scenes, she is well versed in as to pedigree, fame, «kc. “My dear, would you mind stopping at Billett’s for a second, I cannot bear the idea of showing my face at Lorotto with out something for tho little ones, so sorry to disturbyourdescriptionof olflllichraod,” said Miss Vavasour, “you-won’t mind my dfar.” "Mind, Auntie Dot? Why I fully intended to stop there and collect maids of honor and other historical cakes for the sake of Uuld Jang syne. Don’t you re member . Tommy Moore’s lunch there, when lie told a young lady friend that at Richmond they did everything regally, certain cakes.were always termed maids of honor, ‘toast ducks wore termed gent'o men cUhers of the black rod, and—ah ! here we are. Don’t you got our, they know me; I’ll cater for the garrison. Eh, Vera, how quiet you are. What would you like* its too cold for. ices, and I should be beheaded if I ventured to pro pose soup on our way to Fortcacm.’s. Would you eat a bun? 1 am a school-girl for buns, Good-byo till you see mo ogaiii,” and her ladyship dived into tho celebrated historical con fectionery, and was out' again “ in a twinkling,” as she said herself, followed by attendants with large bags of buns and cakes, and tarts, and things Lady Mabel said, and they drove on. " Look here, d > have a ban, it takes olT the edge of one’s appetite so ‘genteelly,’” she said. “It is too bad of us storming the citadel without notice. I.insist upon you all eating a bun to keep me in counten ance, it will take away , your cadaverous looks.” " All right; .I’ll lead tho way,” and Lord Vorcker took off his gloves, and dived into the bag, “ Pm hungry.” “ bo you know,” said Lady Babel, " buns are a weakness of mine, and I could make you die of laughing at half tho escapades and disappointmcnls of my early life in quest - of buns. 1 so well remember my dear mother once taking mo to call on old Lady Montrcsor; you remember her Aunti*, a veritable old skinflint, a very old aunt of mine—a fifteen miles drive to her ghott'y ram shackle old place. The stately dame received us so gushingly, and talked nine teen to the dozen about me, my improved and polished condition from having a governess, even young as I was, but never mentioned the subject of lunch or tea, and after waiting an hour, when wo rose to go’, ray poor dear mother’s horror, when I said, nodding ray head sagaciously, ‘Good-bye . Aunt. Montrcsor, good-bye (with a nod), n* xt ,-t|mo 1 come I will bring you a bub.’ Pancy ray mother’s nerves. I think it ‘-did tho old frump good, tho'; for she begged us to remain ; she said 1 after ‘she feared the lit lo creature thpught there Whsnothing in the house.’ ; . . As they neared Lorelto’a every one looked ouTfor’berry voices in the garden, or some show.oi life, but nli was still, to their surprise.' “Depend upon < it they’rb' gone to ’Amstend ’Eath, or Putney, 1 for the" dnv,” said Lord.Vbroker, as the-party alighted, end opened the small garden gates, send ing thecofriogo round, ‘ * . “ Through the dining-room windows, they are open, I sen,” said ' Lady . Mabel, lending tho way, “I feel like a, burglar,” said Lord Vcreker. /‘I think I’ll wait in tho garden and have a "srpoke whilst you reconnoitre the, premises.” No sound came from any room as they listened in the hall,’ ; ' ; “ Anyone might run away with all the valuables, fykey are qithqr out or upstairs,”' said Miss Vavasour, “Wise' ‘remark;”: said Udy? Mabel. ; “ Excelsior ?”• . . On the first landing 1 they sapped, and sounds issued‘from somewhere. “ .cut y” r noso oflVu yoM.idqh’tanswer p °f*.
do you spell ‘lollipop, 1 ” said a clear voice. . “They are in this room,” said Mr?. Anneylaye, opening the door and coming full s‘op at the scene within. . Mrs. Fortesqar, seated at a table covered with books and copy-books, ink stand, and pens, looking pale and care worn ns she watched two little ones write thoir copies, - Mr. Fortjscue full length on the sofa, trying to look serious, as he heard little Percy his lesson, the Child looking half inclined to laugh or cry ns the case might be, for it was evident he was in a puzzled frame of mind as to whether his father was serious or only joking, as was his wont. ' There was a ‘chorus of suppressed merriment from both visitors and ocou pnuts. Mr. Fortiscuo throw his book slraigh at tho head of Lord Vereker, who curiously inclined, had soon tired of solitude, and followed" the quartette up stairs, and was peeping over the shoulders of Miss Vavasour t il What on earth has *-happened 1 ” said Miss Vavasour. “ Der teufel,” said Mr. Fortesae. - “ Puck,” said nil the voices at once, scrambling off their chairs and seizing thoir cousin eagerly, forgetting lessons and everything else in the skirmish. ‘‘-Did over you see- such children?” said Mrs. Forkescue, beginning to collect books after being kissed and caressed by the visitors, except Lord Vereker, who was quite out of it,” ho said dolefully, as he was marched off by Mr. Fortescue “My dear Connie where is mademoi selle ? ” said Miss Vavasour. “ Yes, whore is that encyclopedia of disagreeables?” said Lady Mabel. “I know she is at the bottom of it. I know her of old." “ Sho was very near the death of me, the old cat,” said Mr. Fortescue, ss he descended the stairs. “ I am only just getting over the shock.” “ Ob, aunty dear, she is such a horrible woman. lam so glad sho has gone. I am sure she would have murdered us— used to got in such terrible rages. It was only when she found out we all came from Australia, She had been so nice and good tempered before. It was just ten days after she came, the children told her of Austalia and the voyage; sho almost wont mad—she got into one of iter tempers —she threw up her arms at the very idea of teaching. ‘Jt wed lak meo un tirn of Ilf to roik you present able, Icotld natife cats that you aie. I despair of evaro nmkeen ‘ you equal to Engleesh young peeple—nevare, nevare, yon are commo les opossems Ks kanga roos les—ah, sacre.my time vill be vaated, don What vill madam la countess say for my fooloeslmess in teeshing dcs leetltf wild savages.' Poor children I how could they stand it. They sent for m*, and I found them crying and the woman rav ing at them like a maniac. I cannot imagine how Lady Risdou over tolerated such a woman.” “And do you know Aunt Vera, sho used to take snuff, and do you know sho used to take our little nursery copper tea kettle to bed with her, filled with hob water, she .put a cork in the spout, and used to roll it up in her flannel potticoa* and take it. to bed, She did really. Mary found it twice there,” said Enid, “and I am sure she smoked, she did I know, and wasn't papa angry.” “No .wpbder—the old cat, I hope she was turned ,out neck and crop, that’s what comes of Having these detestable foreigners,” said Lady Mabel angrily. “ I would n ? b have one of tho dirty foreigners in ray house if they paid mo handsomely to enter il—there’s a lesson for you Lady Annyfcage, stick to your own true honest English people—how did it end ?” “ Oh, it was great fun,” said tho child ren, “ Pater hearing the noise came in, and we all tried to explain, and tnamzAlo raved the more, and —” “ Well, I was oblig-d to laugh,” said Connie, “Icouldn’t hold it. Norman re minded, me so much of one of those old French stage Mnrquke*, in comedy.” “ Madam,” he said, sticking out his back and right arm and running along; “ mndain°, allow me to show you tho j door,” offering his arm absurdly, elbow i poked out, “Mademoiselle thought he was in fun at first, but no, he looked pale with anger, though he svid nothing. Then the woman cried and talked, and talked and cried, till Norman, pointing to tho door, made her go, and so she is away thank good ness, and we were playing at school—it was nothing else. Norman would be so absu:d, f couldn't keep Order a bit,” said poor Mrs. Forto«cue, shaking her head. “ Well, we are all dying of hunger, and wo cannot lunch on slates and grammars —school ought to bo out. Como along down and leave tho books to Providence,” says Lady Mabel. “ There is only a plain lunch of boiled mutton and cold chicken,” said Connie, with a housekeeper’s anxiety. “ I positively revel in boiled leg of mutton ond caper sauce,” said Lftdy Mabel. “ Has it caper sauce ? then 1 love it, I often think what a litlo don key Princess Oharlotfe'wns for objecting to two charming things—a boiled leg of mutton and her grandmother. I think my granny was the sweetest old lady and she left me (on thousand pound ) —dear old tiling. However, that’s neither hove nor. there ; there’s a hamper of prog in the kitchen, fish and odds and ends, a sweep up of our larder, for my dear old worser half is on the fasting list to-day, and he brought some buns if Vereker didn’t finish them all. '-He’s an expensive young man to keep. 1 thould fancy by his bun voraciousness, I would rather keep him a week than. a fortnight, eh Vera?” But the little widow wjs too happy and aroused to answer, such a question, j “Wo were very nearly having the barrowuite. He wpuUl have jumped at tho idea of coming.” “Is ho in London ? when did he arrive?’* said Mrs. Fortesoue seriously, taking a side gin ice fit Vera. j “ Goodness knows, I never cared about him. ’Tis true X only mot him twice twice too often. Ho looks such an out and oat hypocrite—a sort of mock Salva tion Army man. lam sure he is a tee totaller in pulilio,” sail Mabel shuddering. “By the bye, T am going to send the carriage, homo soon, wo are thinking of going back by the river,” said Lady Mabel. > . “ No, no, my dear, I would rather go ’by road, if it is the same. lam afraid of tho evening air, it -is so chilly,” said Miss j Vavasour,,as they wcnt.iqto lunch. I “ So. bo. it then,” said Lady Mabel, “ you shall go when you- like. I’ll come j with you, yob is company and throe is none,” " . “• We r will nil go back together, the river chilly as yet,” said Vera, “and my chicks will miss,mu so.” • A t which Lord Veriker looked “ down in the mouth,”. However, lie -had ample .time for enjoyment ns the day word on, and: a row on tho river with Vera to Eel Pie Island (Mr, Fbrtoscue following
suit with Lady Mabel), whore they had tea, games with Yera and the little Porteaouos—until the: evening when the fat old grey carriage horses wore round again at the gate ready to take, their freight back to town. “Such a jolly day was it not ? Did you enjoy it Vora child? I did Mr. h\>r tescuo is most delightful man I have ever met in my life. They have pro mised to dine with mo on Tuesday next. Ponsonby, poor old fellow, will„ bo well by that time, you must come,” she said, nodding all round and continuing her conversation till th% reached Brooke street. “ Poor old 000010,” said Lady Mabel as a wind up to her long discourse, “ it hasn’t been all ‘bser and skittles’ with Ihqm since they came homo, has it? The trouble she had in getting nice servants, the airs the creatures gave them selves, even when they tried for the place. 1 roared over some of the accounts of them, one cook in particular. Did Connie tell you about the woman? A hideous-looking old witch like an owl peeping out of an ivy bush for ugliness, and the creature with her horrid snub nose in th - air, had the im pudence to sny, “ Horsotraylian mam, I Vord you wore mam, so seeing as ow you was Horsctraylian, I should require a pund a week with extras, it goes against ray stuniraick to live with sich quire sort of folk, cmvicts ond the like. i’vo ben oocustoraind to Uve with only respect able families.”