|Chapter Number||PART II. I|
|Newspaper Title||The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 - 1893)|
|Trove Title||Love and Passion|
Arcadia ! The golden sunlight straying in through the droopng branches of tall forest trees, and lying in long, quivering glances upon the green, velvety turf; touching the flowers ia the old-fashsoned garden, gilding their bright, upturned faces, and eliding in and out between the overhaning bonghs of the crape-myrtles, laden with their wealth of roBy blossom«. A study for an artist-this scene of pastoral simplicity. A long, low stretch of pî«e, lands, and at its feet a river hurrying by-a silvery ribbon drawn in and out between the low
In the midst of the old-faeioned garden stood a low weather-stained house, moss-covered, and lichen covered; with great odorous plumes of purple wisteria trailing from its steep gables, and with honeysuckles clambering over the low door-way, I while tall, white lilies thrust their perfumed heads in
at the open windows. A fair col, sequesterod spot this lovely June evening-away from the noise, and turmoil and strife of this fever, called living ; fit place in which to set up a shrine ; it was like " the shadow of a great rock in a barren land."
Under a clump of crape myrtle trees stood a quaint old rustic seat ; and here a woman was sit- ting, idly watching the western sky, where the sun was lingering as though loth to depart, wrapped in a gorgeous mantle of crimson and gold. A woman, still young, whose face bore the traces of a life-long sorrow. It had ploughed deep furrows in the fair, delicate lineaments ; it had drawn sharp lines about the beauitfully chiselled lips; had made the soft eyes grow a trifle hard and sunken, and had changed the shining golden tresses into paler ones -for her crown of satiny hair had turned to perfect silver. And the haughty head had long ago ceased to hold iteelfproudly ; for her life lay through dark places,
and she bad groveled in the dust of humiliation, and sorrow, and shame, until she had forgotten how to be happy. For this broken, bowed, remorseful woman was all that was left of Alicia Rossiter.
She sat there under the blossoming myrtles in the old garden situated in the green heart of the louisi- ana pine woodB, gazing with wide.open, vacant-eyes upon her own shriveled life ; and the memory was very bitter. She bad done wrong, and she had paid for it dearly. Sometimes one does expiate ones sins even in this world. The sharp sword of retributive justice had descended, and hope as well ashappiness
waa cut off.
The voices of children floated up from the Hly-beds near, and as the sound reached her ears a little light carne into the wan, pale face, and instinctively her eyes wandered to where two children were playing in grave, unchildish fashion-a boy and a girl. The boy might have been fourteen, the girl had not seen a decade. Poor little Tiny-Guy Rossiter's little unclaimed child ; and -ob, mysterious workings of mysterious fate-the boy woe frank, handsome, blue eyed Gordon Carroll J
As Alicia's glance strayed in their direction and rested upon her child, a gleam of interest grew into the depths of her sunken eyes. Such a lovely fairy of a child, with a white rosebud face, and clouds of yellow hair, and perfectly chisselled features-well roamed Tiny, for sha was a diminutive elf.
And the boy ? he bad been taken from school in far away " merrie England" by Mrr. Rathburn, a childless widow, and very wealthy, who had fallen m love with the child. Tbe little fellow had no parents, and as the remittances for his benefit had unaccountably ceased to arrive, the lady had been enabled to adopt him as her own, and bad at once sailed with him for her stately home in New Orleans. Once there, she had fonnd that he was not strong, and being recommended by her physician to send him into the pine woods for his health for a few months, it transpired that Alicia, never dreaming of the boy's parentage, had received him as a member of her small household, for she was very poor, and the generous sum which Mrs. Rathburn forwarded every month was a fortune to Mrs, Sassiter.
Scarcely had the boy left England, however, when the usual remittance was received, with an apology or the oversight, but it was too late. Frightened at, what he had done, the proprietor of the school re* turned the money and announced that little Gordon
So Essica put all throught of the boy from her heart and troubled herself no more, little dreaming that Gordon Carroll was fated to be her Nemesis.
And in the green old pine woods a strange future woe shaping itself. It is impossible to estimate how much good or evil lies hidden by a trivial action; and every action of Es- sica Carroll's wicked career was destined to bring forth a bitter harvest. Alicia's eyes rested upon the children with a wistful expression, wbiah gradually grew into concern. Tiny with wind-blown curls and radiant face uplited to the boy's was listening while he related some childish reminiscence of his school days over the water. All at ance he stooped and Kissed the lovely face.
" Tou are my little sweetheart, aren't you, Tiny I" he cried, fondly.
The child's eyes, full of innocent affection, sought
" Yes," she answered softly. " There is ns one in the whole wide world, except mamma, one half as good OB you are, Gordon."
And you're going to be my little wife when you crow up ?" the boy went on, eagerly. " Aren't you, Tiny?"
The child's face flashed.
" Yes she answered softly, " I told yow that lonp ago, didn't I, Gordon ?"
The boy passed his arm around the tiny waist, and the two came slowly towards Alicia ; the wistful expression in his eyes, had grown to vague disquiet, now merging into pain.
" I wonder," Tiny's sweet voice went on, thought- fully, " I wondeï where my papa is. Do you know,
The boy shook his curly head and made no reply. Tiny disengaged herself from his embrace, and starting suddenly forward she threw her arms sbou* her mother's neck, and pillowed her golden head upon her breast.
"Oh mamma mamma!"she cried; " where is my papa ? I must have a papa like other little girls. Tell me-why does he never come ?"
An ominous cloud darkned Alicia's brow. She compresied her pale lips tightly and put away the child's clinging arms.
" You have no father, Tiny,*' she answered, in a cold, stern tone; " for, although he is living, he is dead lo you-dead to us! No father-nobody in all the wide, cold, cruel world, but me-"
" And Gordon !" interpolated Tiny, reproachfully. "And Gordon-yes. But remember, Tiny, that we do not know Gordon's father or mother ; and, al- though a portion of his name is familiar to me," (and she clenched her small hands vindictively at memory of the man who had helped bring all her sorrow upon her,) "and although he closely resembles some one whom I-have sometime known, yet we know positively but little concerning him. And, Tiny, dear, you are getting to be quite a large girl now, Bnd should not speak to Gordon of such things as sweethearts and marriage-it is not delicate and
" Why not, mamma P" persisted the child, with eager interest. "Don't the big, grown up people speak of such things ? But, never mind" (brighten- ing perceptibly), " Gordon and I can wait nntil we are grown up, too Coming, Gordon, directly !" she cried, gayly, as the boy, who had strolled away daring the conversation, called her name in eager,
Alicia's thoughts were very bnsy, as the two children strolled away together. Her child was her idol, the one purpose of her life, all that she had in the wise world. When she had fled from Lawrence Park she bad come to this secluded nook in the green pine woods. It was a small property which her father bad given her years before, and the title was in her own3 name. The place had been forgotton, but in her hour of bitter sorrow she had found it a
safe refuge. Here she had dwelt for several years, rearing her child, and by dint of hard work keeping the wolf from the door. She had welcomed little Gordon-as a pleasant addition to her email estab- lishment, but now, as her eyes followed the two children, and she remembered that they would soon be grown, a Bharp pang shot through her heart, and there sprang up in it a.wild, unreasoning dielike for the boy Gordon Carroll. She could not shut out from her own understanding the truth of his like nesB to Alton Carroll, and then the name ! It waa to her a perplexing mystery.
From that day Tiny tormented her mother with unanswerable questions in regard to her absent father. She could not rest ; she longed for a eight of his unknown face. She plied her mother with em barraBBing queries, and every night before she slept, she prayed for the father whom she had never seen, and who was dead to her. Poor little Tiny ! Better for her had she never seen the light.