Chapter 18919148

See chapter in newspaper

Chapter NumberXXIX (CONTINUED)
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article18919148
Full Date1883-11-17
Page Number20
Corrections2
Word Count2114
IllustratedN
Last Corrected2018-06-21
Newspaper TitleThe Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 - 1893)
Trove TitleMisunderstood
article text

FICTION.

(From English, American, and other Periodicals)

MISUNDERSTOOD.

CHAPTER XXlX.-(Continued.)

When they came, bringing Star back-for she was still too weak to walk-to the spot where they had all gathered so gay and thoughtless that morning, there was a look of sadness and sympathy in every countenance save those of Mrs. Richards and her daughter, who stole away by themselves, jealous of the interest and concern manifested by the whole company for the object of their hatred.

"One would imagine that the fate of a nation de- pended upon her, by the fuss they are making over her," Mrs. Richards muttered, angrily, while she bathed her daughter's bead and strove to soothe her, for she was still trembling and excited.

Others came to them, now that Star was believed to be out of danger, and offered assistance, but it was coldly rejected,

" We can do very well by ourselves ; pray go back to Miss Gladstone-she is the only one who is sup- posed to need either comfort or assistance," Mrs. Richards said, with bitter scarcasm, to a gentleman

who carne to offer his services.

He regarded her with surprise,

" Miss Gladstone has certainly shown herself a very brave young lady, and put herself in great peril, judging from what little we have as yet been able to learn of the affair," be said, and his tones were full of grave reproof for the heartless indifference which

she manifested.

" Indeed ! What has she done that is so very remarkably courageous ?" she asked, for she was really in the dark, since Josephine had not even told her of all that had transpired.

" She has probably saved several of us from being bitten by this mad dog," the gentleman returned, " for the man who owned him says that she held him pinioned to the ground with her parasol while he

shot him."

As soon as they were alone again Mrs. Richards questioned Josephine, and drew from her the whole story, and while she was horrified at the danger she had been in, she was yet more angry than thankful to know that she owed her escape from a dreadful

death to Star's heroism.

Afterward she went to look at the dead dog,

* It seems to me," she said, scornfully as she stood

looking at it, " that everybody has been making a great hue and cry over a very small thing ; why, the little thing is scarcely as big as a medium-sized cat, and almost any one-a child even-could have

mastered it."

" It was a small dog, madam, "returned the gentle- man who had owned it, and regarding her with unfeigned astonishment, " but for the time it was possessed with the strength and fury of a much larger

animal. I have not yet been able to learn how the young lady found either the courage or the oppor- tunity do what she did, but she certainly must possess the spirit of a hero, and has accomplished a deed of which I should be proud, were she either daughter or friend of mine, all my life."

Mrs. Richards held her tongue after this, for she received small consolation, and very little sympathy from any one by making these depreciatory remarks, and it was with a feeling of intense relief that she heard the signal given to return to the steamer.

Star was much better but still very weak, and looked so white and feeble that everybody was alarmed about her.

When she found that Josephine had kept the facts

of the encounter with the mad dog to herself, simply stating that Miss Gladstone had been attacked by it, she also appeared very reluctant to converse about

it, and as the subject seemed to excite her, no one felt disposed to press her with questions.

The gentleman who owned the dog sent to his home for his carriage, to have her conveyed to the steamer, although she had smilingly affirmed that she should be " able to walk with the help of Uncle

Jacob's arm."

" You shall not walk, Miss Gladstone," one enthusi- astic young man remarked, on hearing this ; " if you will not go in the carriage, your loyal knights will make what they used to call a cradle when I was a boy, with their arms and bear you in a triumphal procession back to the boat."

This threat effectually silenced Star's objections, and she was really grateful for the easy carriage which came to convey her to the landing.

Upon reaching the boat tbey improvised a couch for her on deck, as she objected going into the saloon, and by resting quietly during the two hours' sail, she seemed almost like herself, save her unusual pallor, when the vessel touched the pier at Newport.

A carriage was here procured, and she was driven with Mr. Rosevelt, Miss Meredith, and her brother,

to the hotel.

Grace insisted upon remaining through the night

with her.

" You are not fit to be left alone, and-I want to stay," she pleaded, as Star hesitated about accepting her offer,

"I should not be left alone," she answered, " for Mrs. Blunt is a host in herself; but it will be very pleasant if you like to stay, and perhaps I shall not be haunted with bad dreams if I have company," she concluded, with a slight shudder, for every time she closed her eyes she seemed to feel the frantic struggles of that dog, and every nerve tingled and thrilled with pain again.

So the two young girls passed the night together, and Star, growing confidential, and feeling that some explanation regarding Josephine's insulting remark that morning was due her friend, told her much concerning her life, and how it had happened that she was at one time an inmate of Mrs. Rich- ard's family; also relating the events that had tran- spired since she and Mr. Rosevelt left them.

" It is almost like a story," Miss Meredith said. " How strange that Mr. Rosevelt should recognize you as the grandchild of the woman whom he had loved ! And he has really made you his heiress!

Well, I'm sure you deserve it more than those proud, disagreeable relatives of his. Now I-want to know," she continued, after a few minutes of thought what you meant, when you revived from your fainting turn, by asking if Miss Richards was safe ? Was she with you when the dog attacked you?"

Star flushed vividly, for she could not help feeling deeply wounded by Josephine's ingratitude.

Then she related all that had occurred in connec- tion with that exciting event.

"And she kept silence-she never told that you saved her, nor gave you credit for such a noble act!" Grace cried, her voice ringing with scorn and indig- nation. " She did not even come to you to thank you for what you had done-they are a couple of craven, and all Newport shall ring with the story before" to-morrow night."

" I should prefer that nothing be said about it,'ยป Star returned, with a troubled look; "they dislike me enough as it is, and I have no desire to retaliate upon them, or make them any more bitter toward

me."

" But you cannot keep the story-you will be in- terviewed by everybody until the truth is known ; nobody wanted to question you to-day because you looked too miserable to talk ; but I will relieve you from all embarrassment by telling the tale myself you need not say another word nor make any more objections," She said, resolutely, as Star seemed about to oppose her. " I shall relate the incident just as it occurred, and then I hope Newport will be too hot to hold those heartless women,"

Star was really ill from nervous prostration the next day, and obliged to keep ker room ; but Miss Meredith was as good as her word, and regaled curious ears with the whole story of Josephine Richards' danger and Star's courageous defence of her, and all Newport did indeed " ring" even as she had hoped.

Enough could not be said in admiration of the brave girl, while scorn and contempt were freely ex- pressed for the receipients of so much heroism, for refusing to acknowledge their indebtedness, and awarding has the commendation she deserved,

Mr. Rosevelt was even more unnerved, when he learned the truth, than he had been the previous

day.

He came to her room wan and haggard, after talk

ing with Mies Meredith, and sank weak and trem- bling into a chair at her side,

. " My child," he said, brokenly, as he took both her hands and looked them carefully over with tear laden eyes, " are you sure you did not get a scratch

anywhere ?"

" Quite sure, Uncle Jacob," Star replied, reassur- ingly, " the dog did not touch me anywhere, and if he had, I had a pair of stout undressed kid gloves on, and they would have protected me."

" But you were in terrible danger-suppose you had not succeeded in pinning him down, and he had turned upon you ?" he said, with a shudder.

" I did not think of that," Star answered; " but if I had known that he would turn upon me, I believe I should have tried to save Josephine just the same ; somebody was in danger of being bitten even if she escaped unharmed, and I felt that I must strain every nerve and not allow him to get among the company. The dog was a tiny little thing," she went on, flushing and becoming excited as she seemed to live over again that terrible experience, " but, oh, Uncle Jacob, he was terribly strong-I thought once that I should have to let him go-I could not have held him one minute longer," and she covered her face with her hands, weeping from

nervousness.

" We must not talk about it any more-it excites you," Mr, Rosevelt aaid, soothingly ; " but the world would have been very dark for me if anything had happened to you: and-I am bitter enough to feel that Josephine Richards' safety is dearly bought, even at the sacrifice of nothing more than your nerves and strength," he concluded, in a stern tone.

Star reached out one white hand and laid it gently upon his, saying, with grave sweetness, while she wiped away her tears :

" Uncle Jacob, let us not judge too harshly nor be unforgiving. ' Charity,' you know ' suffereth long and is kind, and never faileth.' Surely you would not have had me run away like a coward, and leave her sitting there playing with that mad creature, knowing that she was in such fearful dancer."

"N-o," he admitted, reluctantly.

" Just think," Star went on ; " she had him in her lap, and I did not speak one instant too soon, for hardly had I told her that he was mad, when he snapped at her. No ; I am glad that I did what was I right, and Josephine Richards' life was every bit as precious to me yesterday as that of any one else-, and I should have done just the same had she been my enemy a hundred-fold more than she is. She has endeavoured to injure me, I know, in every possible .way, and, in all the ordinary walk's of life, I should let her alone. Her spite and ill-will, however bitter. cannot do me any real harm, although they may annoy me exceedingly, and doubless will, in the end

rebound upon herself; but I am glad I did not fal ter yesterday. I did what I could with the kindest of motives; and if the does not feel that she owes me anything, it cannot alter the fact that I did my

duty."

Mr. Rosevelt regarded her with an almost worship,

ful look.

'That good book, which you love so well,says that ' a little child shall lead them ;' and, truly Star, you in your youth shame me in my maturer years by your Christian spirit," he said, in an humble tone.

Star did not reply, but she looked very happy.

"Surely Uncle Jacob must have been reading some in that 'good book,' to quote thus from it," she thought, while his remark about a Christian spirit told that he was thinking upon the more serious questions of life, all of which was very encouraging to her who had so often been wounded by his, bitter ness and scepticism.