Chapter 186929467

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Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article186929467
Full Date1880-11-06
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Newspaper TitleThe Week (Brisbane, Qld. : 1876 - 1934)
Trove TitleMy Colonial Experience
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TALES & SKETCHES

MT COLONIAL EXPERIENCE. ;?

fWritten Expatlt/for ?' The Week.")

iTis&. yeat to«dHy. since X first.. saw this plaoe,finoo I flwt saw hor I may, as veil say, for she ia pretty well the centre. about, which all.my thoughts have turned during this time; • and yet I iwas not prepared to like her, rather

the rnvtrse,.for the Creek's did not, and com municated their, unfavourable opinion to me. Certainly . I was agreeably disappointed when we-mot, but I don't think when I try really to look baok that 1 was much Btruck by her in any. way. I know I did not think her pretty, x only-graceful and refined, and fur more ploasant

in manner-than I had anticipated. X could not help noticing that she was a different stamp of woman to Mrs. Oieok, and X know tho Orettan

peqpie^were surprised, audi fancy atrifie dis» I pleased that I Paid so little of my visit to I Quandong.. Tho faot is I felt rather puzzled whatto say. KnowingthattheDruramonds woro cot liked I could hardly praise them and, after the kind rooeption given me, I would not do lha other thing. X wont there again soon afterwards. Hope had been told ofl to bring 'back the cattle about which I had gone over on ?my, first visit) but ho asked mo to take his place, na he hated going to Quandong. X wondered, *as Ifodc along, if I should find things pleasant this tfmo, and began to be half sorry X had ^zndnvtaken n duty that was not . mine, for wttainly many people said disagreeable things about"; tho X>rummonds, and poBsibly my. previous reception was only good by accident. Thore was nothing in me that. I should get more courtesy than others. "When X rode up to tho house I found Mr. Drummond on the voranda, and I can't say his greeting was particularly cordial. .He never offered to Bhake hands or to get. up, and though on seeing him X had iumped off my horse, did he over nek mo to ait down.,, H« hardly Baid how do you do be fore, ho began business. .

4 Comb for,the cattle? But X can't give them to you. to-day. Jones islaid up and none of the other.men seem to know where to find them.'

1 .WilLho be able to go out to-morrow ?*

' Well,-1 hardly know, but.I suppose, you can^co'ineover.again- *;

• .Of.course.I can come again, but I particu larly, want to get'the bullocks to'our.;place by

* to morrow night.Molloy is taking ;down a,

mob forthe butcher, and we Vant to add them ! to tKeJot,and if I $ot them early iu tho day I.| could run thoba^over to the station in time/'.

' H-m,^ ;ho said after a pause, * you had better* ride, to Jones's hut and see.for yourself,

anda£it$#orti^ *»,<»*'

• \y0u*up.*' ; ; 5 .

I .was savage as I unhitched my,', horse ana, rode'away'i and if . X l could "(have dono.as I wishVd would ha'ie'ridden hack tWe and then;

but.^OTV*£ad,'to^De\'doue. and'..perspnal: annoy-. ance>wWd-fc*rdiy!.haye^ fta'lau, bx-' cuseif I'returned wiiKo'ut'the. cattle, and^I, «ould'hot'truat tho black boy,with me to drive. . thetdVIby'i himself. :Th^( stqekmari had, had ,

what hV ternieSy.a touch pf the.sub,'—assisted,

I suspected,,by a gopd^shareof„ bad rum,—, biit was getting better,'and^would. bo able^ -he thought, "to;.turn out tho'firat' thing in the imornihgi^ NeUh'er!.we.rb'other-maiters qnito so bad as I expectod. 'Jorifs was a married man, and his Wifolboked^tec auadjoining hut that was'Bbt rapart^for.'chanco :travollers, • so my quarters were riot so uncomfbrtablo, and though the tieiogfsdnt' oil in that way. rathor rankled, - . Btill I;was. not sure I bad'any. right to com

. plain.*.4 So, after making an inward vow never

to go again iu another's' .place, I tried to make the test',of .it- and pass ihe afternoon as well as I could.Fortunately,'by the time Ihadsome thing to' eat,'and had made my. • final arrange* ments with.tho. stpoVman, I]found -a readable booV/an.d'the day being no w . pretty well ad vanciedj:,l'did' not'fcel I had'so,much to grumblo about/ pljW.as ,so 'absorbed in'my. book VRo-. . inolaV^that l never heard stops; approaching

till a ^voice'said : \ Mrs.^Toncs, X .havo brought .' • yott'r-rthe.BpcakeEiWh'o.hadjuBt entered the door,

stopped. 1 put'dowri my. .book. and jumped up, for it-yrui Mr3; I)rummo*nd. I dou't think, she recognised me.Vit first. ^Bvidontly she had, thought no visitor, was there,' and..was taken aback?V for'the .moment, when sho found tho rooiri'pocupiod'; ,'but^X know her at once, and this sudden appantion of a pretty woman set my h'jHrt^Vcatin'g',a''liuio'faster than usufll.

She did4,lb6k.awfHny well; in her light" grey, habitj sometHing^blup round .her white .throiit, . oud a. knot of ribbon ofthesaibecolournnderhor

frhaly.h'ii; not as you see a Riding costumo.ffe . rigneiir^.but'.'very suitable for tho occa-ion, and

it scorned' ;to mo yerybec tning. X did not fay. anything,•'waiting for her to speakbesides, her, : unlooWcd.'for^appearaucc' and.the recollection

of hqrbusband's uncouitebns treatment rather confused[ ino.4 She rsCognised the, however, aU. most imtnodiatei}*, anl. holding out hor - hand as she came' '.forwvijd,.J ' What, are you doing^iere, Mr. .Yornor ; wby did you not go at once'to. the.tiouee ;

1 didnot caro to »ay I had beon therp,. so X answered na'.OHHily as [ /oiOd,,1 are . not ;thesb tho Ht^arigcrs,^lUJ^rtbr8?,

4 Yes, but no ono.wo know-stays hero. Of course Mr. Driimmond cxpeots you to be with u«.* .,J;did not know what to sny, but X know what Xdid; blushed liko a girl. ^

' Xou aro very. good/ I murmured,: after a moment's, unciunfortablo pituso, * but as I start so early;it might bo iuconveniont for you.'.

I fancy she KJiefeed tho real statoof mattors, or eUo.bluHhing'is contagious, for a pretty pink tingo'pame into.; her cheeks; while a look.- oi annoyancos pn^sed over her fnoe. Sho did not. fiay anything more,on this subj cot, but began to talk of berVde, saying that sho. .had seeu^a flow or oil tK'o border of a scrub that hnd exactly tho perfume of vanilla, but it. was too high up for hoi; to get or even to seo well enough to tall, • whatit'wa8. Nothingcould be pleaSHnter than

her manner, and though nhe did not stay nbovor five or ton iriinutos, sho left.me with all. my rufilud plumuRo smoothod down. .

I hiwl another visitor before long. Mr. !Drum mond walked in ill about an hour. 1 My wifoha? ht'On scolding mo for letting you comohrr^' ho said;'1 so on yourh'it" and ooino b.ick with me,orX ahullhavo bluok looks all the oveuing.*

* daro flaTjt would" bava been more di gnifled tot navo refused, butT forgotwhat* was duo to' my pndo and did as I was told. : I don't think that ho meant to be rude, in the first instance. He simply did not caro for my society—why should ho put himself out for a young nobody learning colonial experience—so he sent me to the stranger 8 quarters ; and bo came for me because Mrs. Drammond made a point of hav ing me at the house, and it was easier to do that than to thwart her. Ilo is a man, tho solo motive of whoso conduct is self. Ho regards it as a' matter of course that life should ho ruled by that principle, and acts up to it with a serene, unaffected simplicity that fairly

staggors one.

When I say that I had not a vestige of re gret for tuking Hope's place—felt indeed quite a glow of self-approval for having douo a friend a good turn, you may bo pretty sure I did not find tho evening disagreeable. Mrs. Drummond sang and played partioularly well; porhapB her voice was not really so fine as Mrs. Creeks, but it bad far more expression, and there was a tone in it that went straight to the heart. Her singing had the same kind of charm as her appearance and manner. It would bo hard to put into words what that charm was, though there oould be no difficulty about fooling it; Ab I have said before, Bhe was not protty, at least Bhe did not strike you as being

so at first, the only actual beauties she owned ; were bor tooth, small, oven, and white, and her skin that was exquisitely fair and clear. Her other features were delicato and regular, hut nothing remarkable; her mouth indeed was rather large, but the lips, fresh as a child's, wero flexible and expressive to a rare degree, and when they smiled Ihoy lighted up her wholofaco. Mind,she was by no moans prodtg •! of these smiles. The prevailing expression of her face had something of sadness in it, mingled with a certain air of hauteur, and it was this and a somewhat reserved manner that I fancy .often ropellcd people; but when she chose to be pleasant, as t suppose she did this evening, nothing could bo more unrestrained than she was, simple, unaffectivo, kind, and cordial, and so playful, so light hearted, that it was hard to imngino .that she could ever be udpopular. . ..

But I am hound to confess she was not always like this; sometimes her face was like a mask, with a set look on it that never varied, while her manner was chilling to a degree ; then that hard expressio 1. would melt away and a sudden softness como into the face. To see that change was as if the soul bad come back to those limpid hazel eyes and that tender mouth. Her voice, too, had a thousand dlf feront inflections, occasionally it was almost harsh, while'at another time there was a caress in its very tone. It was.able to express those finer shades of feelings that words are often so, powerless tooonvey, and it had a naturatpathoa that appealed strangoly to your sympathy. Of course no one is always bright* or always dull. Most are attractive when lively, a few interest ing when depressed; but in her, it was not the mere change of spirits that charmed. Sho had very little of . what I call vivacity, and.,her melancholy was less pensive than moody; but, whatever her mood might he, her power of attraction never seemed to lessen. She was hs a problem tbat one was always being forced to try and solvo. Sometimes her whole nature seemed to open itself to you. It was the real living soul that spoko to you in those soft accents, that looked at you from thoso pure

eyes aud ever varying countenance ; then the j veil fell, and it was a perfect woman of the i

world that met your eager glances with calm indifference; or, sho might chill you with a cold reception and than, by somo subtle iuflec* tion of ber voice, call up a thrill of delight that was an ample atonement. Onco favourably im pressed by her and I cannot imagine Anything that would diminish her hold upon you. Her outward appearance chnrmed the eye, as her beauties seemed coyly to unfold themselves as. if to you in particular; and her iuner nnturo was one that compelled you to study it, while it could safely bear the closest investigation. You were puzzled, you wero repelled at times, by a crust of worldliness, by an assumed heart-/ Ieesnoss, but never did you find an ignoble thought, a mean motive, hidden there; rather was it a lurking enthusiasm, some shy sweet goodness, that lay concealed in those carefully' guarded recesses; and she was so pure-mind d, 'the basest man could not have dared.to look at, or think of, her with a polluting thought.

*, Naturally, it was not on this visit, nor'on raifny; succeeding ones, that Informed, my estimate of her. l am only trying to put.into words—anil 'what feeble unsatisfactory ones, I only can tell—.tbo impression she produced upon •me during theshorttimo r had'the privilege and

tho wretchedness of knowing her. .It- would be;useless for mo to dohy the footings with

whioh shovlnspirod f me. - - It ;Viw' some timo boforo I recognisbd^them . myself. I never1 willingly betrayed them to her, for sho whs uot the woman!took her to ho, if I could; havo. dared so to.do; :Sbo may have gucssod them, for, yoiing'ns I was, J was hardly sufficiently mftBterof myself' never -to show, what ;I* felt. But, whether she did; whether, in the remotest degieb. flha shared them ;" had, as it were, some tender pity for mo,—I never know. .She had so strong a will, such an" almost stern con> scientiousness, that,'.eveu if she had loved me— anil :I did hot think her tin' angel, only the noblest of woraon—she would have died rather than havo owned.her woHkuess. .

But to return to, this particular ovening: It was not Mrs. Drummond only .but her hus baud too, that' was agreeable. . Ilo could be a pleasant companion when.he liked, aud I sup poso I did not find him. less .so' because ho talked to mo about myself.. I folt rather dis gracod afterwards, when I recalled how 1 Juid prated away on that subject, that, if interesting to myself, could hardly be so to anyoyo else. I was not particularly,charmed either to have tiindo. a comparative Jitrangor so acquainted, with all toy affairs and plans, , but 1 uover thought of this till too late. However, I con soled inysolf in thinkingthutitwould teach me more discretion next time, not to say anything about hotter tasto, aud also that cortunly T had not forced my concern* upon him; and an both hud so kindly pressed mo to come and see them again I could not havo boon such nn in sufferable bote us 1 loured.

/' ?VF-. H -i : ' •

I took advantage of tills invito sovera tiraesp*"wben I could got an idlo aftornoon" generally, on a Saturday, when I would not re turn till the following evening, putting up for tho night at Quandong. I certainly enjoyed

.those visits very.mueh ; after the noise of tho I children, the somewhat rough* and ready ways of Grettan, tho lack of neatness and order in things domestic there, the nicety that reigned at Quandong was very pleasant. It may not be of any great consequence, but it certainly is more agreeable to ait down to a table where everything agrees with the snow white cloth on which they are placed, where the dishes do not look ftB if they had got on haphazard, and the knives and forks sprawl about anyhow. Mrs. Prummond, too, in her fresh morning dress, a dark rose-bad setting off the exquisite fairness of her throat,her slender hands moving amongst tho dainty china cups and silver tea equippages, was a very pretty objeofc to regard. After breakfast I used to go with her to feed her chickens; then, if it was not too late, we took a turn round tho garden, or I helped her to water her plants in the huahhouse. We soon got on sufficiently easy terms to be under no restraint, no necessity to talk. If we had any thing to say, we said it; if not, we read or simply remained silent. Time never seemed to lag, to me at any rate, and I ventured to flatter myself that Mrs. Drummond found oven my society a relief to the very dull life she led. SometimcB we all three went for a short stroll in the afternoon. Pinner was always early on Sunday, to let the rnaid servants have a ride afterwards. Generally Mr. and Mrs. Prnm mond would come as far as the crossing-place at the station with me on my return to Grettan, I leading my horse, and when I mounted would

stay til) I rode away.

How well I can recall her as she used to stand, resting her hand on her husband's arm, and turning het face to give me a parting smile, as when I reached the top of the opposite bank .of the riror Hooked back before riding on. The road to the ford was through a scrub which on one side was untouched and ran in an unbroken wall of verdnro, the other had been cut down, but had partly grown up again; while the : climbers, taking advantage of the unusual light and air, had flourished mightily and covered the young growth with their long . vines, almost bidiog the supports and hanging

in! festoons from shrub to shrub, or creeping along the ground and conccaling the fallen logs .with their mantle of green leives; further on . was the open flat, where were the station buildings, that, luckily for the pictur&quo, one could only par tially see; beyond them was a sloping hill side, treeless, but covered with long blady grass, which the rays of the setting sun tinged with the richest shades of golden brown and red.

. Perhaps it 'was aa well that I could not make these pleasant visits as often as I should have wished, or I might have worn eut my welcome; but not'only had I rarely the leisure, but I fancied the Creeks rather resented my beinga favourite with theDrummonds and regarded my visits to the'm as being iu some sort a going over,to the enemy; so I bad on several ac counts to put a wholesome restraint on my in clinations- ; I have no doubt it only made me prize my visits the more ; certainly I was not very £orry: when business unexpectedly sent mo one day to Quandong. .1 made a little plan in my own mind, as I rode along, that I would tstay the night and'ride back iu the very early hours, for I knew tho moonlight would last till nearly;day dawn; lira. Drummond wouldsing memy f'iVouritesong "Laura," and lcould talk over, with her some news I had just received from home by the last mail; but.4 the schemes o'imco aud men aft gang aglee/ I must tell you that two young lady visitors had arrived at Grettan--a most unusual event—and their expected arrival had been discussed the last time I met the Drnmmonds. I cannot say that their advent disturbed mo much, and I had almost forgotten all about it when l entered tho drawing-robin at Quandong, for, for a marvel on' a week-day, it was there . X found Mrs. Drummond. Business • did not take long to settle, and then some allusion was made to tho new atrivals: Hud they come when I left ? Yes, I. bad caught a glimpse of female forms as I- passed, the veranda on my way way to the stables,; and Mrs. Creek had called me in and

! introduced me. ~ ;

IWhat wero they like f Were they quite I .'young or very pretty ? Did they seem nice girls ? Surely I could tell them something about | them?'" '...'V./.i i.V/"'

. Mrs. Drummohd was unusually eager in her questions, for; she was the most incurious of women as a rule; 'As'to Mr. I)rummpnd,-ho always'put one" through a course of inquiries/ bo his. remarks did hot surprise •

. -'.rdhly stayed'balf a imnute. I know one .is 'nothing to .look at ; the other I think is pretty,'.widT.. •1'i' ,f\ : -

>;SThat must bo Miss Brown. I saw her last , year,^ and thought her extremely, handsome.

Oon't you remember, Robert, we" inet her,at.

the Finchs ?' said 3trn. Drutnmoud. . . i

1 Yes/ answered Mr... Druuimond; didn't slio talk about kxows; but I wouldu't mind

that, if J woreyou, Yeruor; as her father says, j

she carries ten thousand bullocks on her

back" and she's worth looking after.' j

'Thanks,' I niiswered, ' but* I don't think T j

shall, trouble, Brown pater to. round, up his. daughter's fortune.'

''At any, rate, these visits will make bush life j le?s insufferable/put in Mrs. Dnimmoud, and' thou held her peace, and as she turned her he.id i

away she could not see. tho reproachful glance j that I involuntarily gave lur when she spoke I oTfindiugliip—herown,uodoubt-'insutforablo.

Nota.word was said, as usual, ubout my remaining." I presume Mr. l^ruminond.took it for granted that, as these people were at Grettan, I should wish to go back; at auy rate, he s»aid, > '

1 X suppose it- is.no uso asking yon to stay V I did not answer for a moment,' I wanted her to asfc me, for it was a iresh. pleasure when she repeated the invitation with that kindly smile in her eyes; but sho said never a word; so, after a pause, I replied stupidly enough,' 'X anpposo not.* v\

Sho wjs'nt tho piar.o when I camo in, mid sho remained there all the short time t

stopped. When I mado that last spooch, she

began & brilliant run; but, blundering, broke off abruptly and, turning to me, said, looking full at me, * la it not provoking when one's fingers will go wrong over a passage; bnt I forget; not playing you will not understand.'

I had no particular reason to makeany remark, eo held my tongue. The truth is, I bad the ab surd vanity to euppoee that the blunder arose from someslight annoyance at my not staying, and itmftdemefeelfooiirthas Wilaspainedwhen. I saw how utterly indifferent phe was. I never knew it so difficult to get on at Quandong as that day. Mr. Drummoud was as usual; that is to say, he never put himself out to entertain me, indeed went away and had a smoke on the veranda, as he frequently did. But she was unlike herself, seemed pre-occupied, and to have no welcome for me. It was evident both thought I had only come over on business,

not to see them; anil with a sinking heart I ' felt that all my anticipations of a pleasant after noon were as the baseless fabric of a dream,—

my much.considered plans quite uncalled for*-.-; I took my leave after a little while and rode back with very different feelings to those Ihad indulged in as I went over. Tbe horse, too,

seemed determined to add to my annoyance*.,. He always had a trick of boring to one side, , and this afternoon he did it till I was down-. right savage with the brute. I know I made

him gallop nearly the whole way home, as ho :. instated in going like a crab whenever I' slackened ray pace to a walk; the consequence

of which little bit of temper on my part was - that I had to spend about an hour rubbing him . down and getting him cool before I could turn

him out. :. • ' ; .: t • - - -

I did find these visitors pleasant'after all,: though I regarded their arrival at first as some thing more than a bore, -that .is, when I re turned from my curtailed visit to Quandong.

Hiss Brown was really very pretty, and by no means the sort of girl Mr. Drummond's re mark had led me to expect. Perhaps she did laugh a little more than was necessary; hub

she had beautiful teeth, so it did not mnch • matter. The other, Miss Blount, had a fine figure, at any rate, and she was a jolly girl,

good natnred and quite willing to be pleased,—.

almost did more than her fair share indeed in

the process. She sang, too, not so badly,--/ though in rather a spasmodic style, only letting out her voioe now and then in a way that was a

trifle startling till yon got used to it. Hope v said he did not like it,—too mnch of the minute gun for his taste; but then, Hope.was always hard to please. I n*ed to wonder if 'he! ever enjoyed himself, he seemed to look at life only at the feamy s'de. :j .

One evening it was arranged there shonld be, - a picnic on the following Wednesday—this was on Monday—and that messengers should be sent to our neighbours at Aahwood and Qnan

dong to ask them to join us. As we were to he - off duty on the chosen day we had to do double tides on Tuesday, and I never got home till justbeforodinner. When we wereeitting on the veranda afterwards the blackboy came round and gave Mrs.-Creek a note. 'That's all -

right,' she said, as she read it; 'the Grimes. - are coming and will bring a Mr. Hall . with them, besides Scott and Hamley.' -

* Have you any answer from the Drum

monds?' asked Creek.

I By the by, no. Ton got him paper along . -r Quandong ?' she said, turning to the boy.

' By gar, I believe I forgot him altogether;'/ ^ and Master Porapey, with a grin that showed -.... his white teeth" from ear to ear, pro duced the note-of invitation, well wrapped np, I ought to add, from the bosom of his shirt, which also served as a pocket, and handed it

over,

'Well, that is provoking,*remarked Mrs.. Creek; 'bat it is no use lamenting; wo could,

not let them know in time, could we V tuning;;'-* to her husband. ,,;7

'No,' he replied; 'it's out of the question ; ,

they must take the will for the deed.*. j . 7

II think I could let them know, if .you care ,.v about it, Mrs. Creek,' I said. .... ; . r 7

•Thank yon.. Of course X should likethem 77 to come, hut it's not worth the trouble.'. ... .

• It's not the slightest trouble. I could easily 7 ride over on a bright night like this.' ",7. 7..;,"*

'I dou't see any necessity,' broke.,in Creek;

'I'm sura Drummond wouldn't thank you, 8ndr 7. it's ten to one if Mrs. Drummond would care to v

com©.'

'I'll cbanco that,' I said, and got up .{to, go.. t.-t Fortunately the horses were in a email paddock,:... to be at hand for tho nextd-iy. So, taking a,;

halter and a tin of corn, I soon. caoght Old 7; Billy and, paddling up, started at quo*. *

, What a lovely night it whs. Nothing brokj* . _ the stillness bat the curious 'gluck, gluck,\ of"» i the frogs in the swamps;, the sharp chirping,., cry of their brethren in the trees, resembling ',

far more tho note of a bird than that of & rep* s. < tile; the tinkle of a bullock bell; the sound of . an axe, every blow of which rang out .clearly.

The sky was absolutely cloudless, of, a pala . shadowy hue, and lifted up it seemed to be an. . immeasurnbh distance; in this floated the moon,

gliding spirit-like through the pure, limpid. . atmosphere; myraid* of stars could be dis-. , csrned slanging faintly; planets still lustrous,; though dimmed by the flood of silvery, moon*

light; tho Southern cros*,—that matchless ' constellation, the four brightstars that form .the ',1 sacred emblem, the, still more brilliant pointers. ' " —gleaming like jewels from the soft, veiled..

blue of the hetiven*; Sirius flashed and glittered, . . ch«ngiugeach instant from one vivid colour to another. Not a le:if stirred. The air that came

upon the cheek like floating down boro with it. . tho very sigh of vagrance, so subtle was .the" .

mingled scent of flowers, of aromatic leaves iand .

grasses, of falling dews. The shadowY.were- . ? - sharply defined, but the molting, silvery,light: full too-softly for siroug ccnttosts; tli'e huge . : fallen logs, whole skeletons .of long dead ..trees,.. though brought out into perfect relief by., the

lighc resting on their barked, surfaces, had ! j nothiug startling iu their distinctness tut bore

; tho same shadowy air as all around Uifm. . .

The houso was some little distance froni the

? stattcnbuildingsaud, as I rede up to it, the utter.. 8t illness, tho hushed repose aboutthe place, whero tho very roses that shone so white iu the moon-,

light looked as if not a petal stirred» made roe , think, almost for the first time, how lute it wa?. X looked at my watch,—nearly twtilv\ ' Well,'jl thought, * it's no use stopping now, though

I would have left the note at the station if I had

thought of it before/ Z tied no my horse and, going to the stable*, ttfed h> ronse : tho man that I knew slept thete. Not a bit of use, I couldn't get the fellow to hear.' I could not call out loudly and I might have battered in the door with a paring-stone, supposing- such a thing had been handy, without w&kiug him from his slumbers. It would never do to go to the female quarters, for the most probable re sult of that step would be a series of squeals and my being possibly potted by Mr. Drum mond as a kind of colonial Tarqntm. I began to tbink as if I was doing an impertinent thing and was a fool for my pains; but I could not go back now. Perhaps the best plan would be to go round to the sitting-room,—the French lights were pretty sure to be open in this weather, — and I could leave the note on the table and disappear without disturbing the sleeping house. I did so as quietly as I could, though I fancied that my step, generally light,

made as much noise as a buffalo's. I opened the Venetians, the hinges as I did so giving a squeak that made me turn cold all over, put the note down and stole oUt.

Just as I was coming out o< the window I found myself face to facn with a figure, whose approach had been so noiseless and so unex pected that it for the moment regularly dumb founded me. In an instant I recovered myself and saw that it was Sirs. Drummond. She did not recognise me, for I was in the shadow.

* TThois it F she almost whispered, forshe was evidently frightened, as the tremble in her Toioe betrayed, in spite of heir struggle to com mand it. Then, as I stepped on to the veranda, she exolaimed In the utmost surprise,

' Mr. Yernor! But what is it; is anything wrong at Grettau V

* I really most beg your pardon. l am not robbing the honse, only bringing you a note from Mrs. Creek. We have a picnio to-mor row and want you to join us.'

* 4 And you have come all this way simply to i ask me; you are very good/

1 Not at all so; only I hope yon will come/ 1 41 could hardly refuse even if I wished.

Where do we meet?'

'Atthe Downfall,abontnoon. Now I bad

better say good-night. I'm awfully ashamed j of myself for disturbing you at this hour/ '?

41—I can't ask you to stay,' she said in a I hesitating way. 4 Mr. Drummond is not at

home.'

4 Many thanks,' I answered, feeling confused, I didn't know why. 'I couldn't; I have to see to the things in the morning/

4 Thank you,* was all she said, half putting out her hand and then drawing it back.

But I would have ridden twice the distance to be addressed by her in such a tone. I could 6ee she was not regularly dressed. She had on a long trailing robe (a dressing-gown I suppose),

and . over her head a light, fleecy white shawl I (what is called & cloud) was thrown. Ton can't imagine how child-like and pore her face looked under it. She waa like the white roses that lay sleeping in the moonlight. When she half put out her hand the movement stirred her skirts aDd I saw the small foot was only covered by a slipper. It was not a very alarming object, that dainty little thing; bnt it sent a shiver through me and I could not have met her eyes at that mo ment to save my life.

To be continued next iccch.