Chapter 18942615

See chapter in newspaper

Chapter NumberXX
Chapter TitleARLEY'S ILLNESS.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article18942615
Full Date1885-01-03
Page Number13
Corrections0
Word Count3471
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 - 1893)
Trove TitleArley
article text

CHAPTER XX.

ABLBï'S ILLNESS.

" I fear you will think me very foolish," A¿ey rw» trying to smile through her tears ; " but iadt'ed-ttm very anxious to go home."

" No, dear heart, I've been homesick mys* a^orô now," Mrs. Collins responded, sympathetic/7*

" But how happens it that yer' alona in tB 8ttflngo oeuntry-that you've no one to go wittf610 tah;e

care of ye?"she added, with a keen glance into the

fair flashed face.

" I do not like to tell yon about it here," Arley re- plied, looking furtively around, as if she feared some one might be within hearing. " Could you come to my lodging some time to-morrow or next day ?" Then I will tell you more about how I am situated, and why I am BO anxious to secare an escort back to

England."

Yes, Mrs. Collins said, she wonld come to-morrow, and Arley gave her the address; than, thanking ber for her kindness, she took leave of them both and re- turned to ber lodging quite content with ber day's work, even though she had failed to see the consol.

On entering her room, however, ehe was dismayed at the state in which she found it.

She knew that she had left it in perfect older when she wsnt out. Now her closet door stood wide-open, and her clothing appeared to have been tossed about. Her writing-desk was also open, and her papers scat- tered about in confusion. Her trunk, likewise, bad been tampered with, for its contents had been roughly turned over and left in a disordered state.

But after a hasty glance at these things she turned to her dressing-case, a look of great anxiety on her face. The upper drawer was partially drawn out, but she knew that she had been careful to lock it and put the key in her purse before going out.

With a cry of dismay, she sprang forward, drew it further out, and looked into it.

Her face, and even her lips, turned ghastly pale as she did so ; her eyes stared wildly at a vacant spot within it for a moment ; then, with a despairing moan, ehe dropped upon her knees, leaned her head against the drawer, eobDing* as if her heart were

broken.

Her jewel-box was gone, and it contained all that she had except what she had worn that morning,

Her diamonds were of course more valuable than any thing else, and she bad saved them by wearing them ; but there were many things which she had prized very highly in the casket, end it was very trying to have them stolen from her thus.

Still,ishe could have borne even this with fortitude bnt for one thing; in one of the compartment», pinned to the velvet cushion, there wai the hundred pound note which Miss McAllister had given her on her wedding-day, and which she bad carefully preserved through everything for a case of emer-

gency.

| Now all her hopes were blaBted ; for without

funds what could she do P She could not go home without money to pay her passage; she could not live there, or anywhere, without it. Her purse was nearly empty. She did not know how long she might find employment at the art store; and, besides, it would take her so long-snch a weary while, to earn enough to go home,

For a time she WBB nearly wild over her loss, and

did not know what to do about it.

She dared not tell her landlady that she had been robbed, lest she might suspect her poverty and re- fuse to allow her to stay there. She could not In- form the police, for she could not speak the language and she had no faith to believe that she Bhould re* cover her property if she made her case known, while it might only involve her in debt and deeper trouble.

Philip could not help her pecuniarily, and it was probable that be would not if he could, after the step which she had taken the previous day.

What made her start so suddenly at the thought of her busband, and the color flame hotly over her

whole face P

Could it be possible that he would be guilty of BO dastardly a deed as to cieep into her room and rob 1 her thus?

' The thought came to her like a shock, nnd perhaps

she would not have suspected him if she had not told him tbatsbe would sell her jewels to get money to go home. Remembering this made her feel that perhaps she bad put a temptation in his way, which ia his embarrassing situation, he bad not been able to to resist. But after a moment she put the thought from ber-Bbe would not believe anything so dread ful of him, even though his treatment of her had been

so unmanly.

But it was a terrible blow to her, whoever was the thief, for there was no going home now until she hiid earned the money, or unless-she should sell her diamonds.

She could not beor to do that for they had been the lost gift of Dr, McAllister to her before his death and they seemed almost sacred to her.

Wretched as she was, she resolved to lose no time in taking core of them, leaBt they also should be stolen from her ; so, straggling for calmness, she unclasped them from ber ears and throat, and sewed them securely into the waist of a dress, stiched them inover thetop of whalebones, thinking that no one would ever auspect such a hiding-place for them.

This done, she strove to busy herself over her draw- ings, for she must make the most of her time now ; but she was so nervous and trembling that she could scarcely hold her pencils. She started, and grew hot and cold at every sound-she imagined that she heard steps creeping up the stairs and pausing st her door; she would listen with painful intentness, until every nerve quaked with fear, then bursting into a passion of tears, weep until she had no strength to

cry more.

Thus the day and most of the night wes spent, and morning found her a pitiable object indeed-burning with fever, and wild with delirium.

When her landlady brought up her breakfast the knocked, but no one carne to open the door, though she could hear Arley talking in a rupid, unnatural woy within her room.

She listened a few moments, and being*convinced that something was wrong, she tried the door.

It was f aetened, as she expected ; but being of a resolute nature, ehe was not long in forcing an en- trance, and found Arley in a high fever, and in an almost uncontrollable state of excitement,

She did what she could for her temporary relief, and then sent for a physician.

When he came and made an examination of his patient, he looked very grave, and pronounced her very ill, He prescribed for her, waited an hour to see what effect his medicines would have, and as she became somewhat more quiet, he finally went away, promising, however, to come in again later in the day.

Afternoon brought Jane Collins, who, by showing the address which Arley had given her, and by signs, managed to make her errand known.

The landlady saw at once that she was English, although belonging to an entirely different clues from that of her lodger, and she was only too glad to .»"duct her up stairs to the sick girl's room.

The gooa w"n WB3 dismayed upon flndine her in such a.condition, ano «ow at once that all hope of her returning to England with her in the Roiket was at an end-she knew that she was booked for a long

uvi tedious illness.

I She at once removed ber bonnet and ebawl, and by | signs made the woman of the house to understand

that she wanted water and towels.

She wns a kind-hearted creoture.atd comprehended at once that Jane wanted to give the sick girl a bath, and hastened to bring everything necessary.

Then with a gentleness which one would scarcely have thought she was capable she sponged the sufferer who, though she did not recognise her, seemed to be grateful for the attention, and grew gradually quieter

under the soothing process, until, when she had finished and covered her with fresh linen, which she had asked to have brought for the bed, Arley dropped into a deep quite sleep.

Jane then donned her bonnet and shawl again, and hastened back to her own bumble lodgings to tell John about the ead state in which she had found the " beautiful young leddy," end to get his consent for her to remain with her until she Bhould be better, or as long cs she could before the sailing of the

Rocket.

Honest John Collins' tender heart went out to the

lovely girl lying BO ill and desolate among étrangers, and he bade his wife go back and stay with her if she

wished.

She did wish, and hastily putting together a few necessary articles in a bundle, she returned to her post in the sick-room,

There was much to try the good woman's patience in assuming this responsibility, for of course she could not understand a word of the strange physi- cian's directions, although ehe liked his appearance and treatment of Arley.

The only way she could ascertain how to give his medicine, wa9 by making him point out on Arle j's watch-which she had found under her pillow and immediately taken possession of-the hours when tbey were to be administered.

For four days the poor girl was fearfully ill, and utterly unconscious of everything that transpired

about her.

But good Jane Collins was indefatigable, Bparlng herself in no way, while ehe was as tender and motherly ss if she had been the mother of a dozen children, instead of a lone woman without one in the

world to love,

On the fifth day Arley seemed somewhat more comfortable, and began to have lucid intervale,

The next day her mind was quite clear, end she recognised ber attendant with evident pleasure.

" How came you here ?" she aBked.

" Ye were sick, end John said I might come to take care of ye," Jane answered, her face beaming to hear hot speak naturally once more,

" How good it is of you !" Arley said, grasping the woman's rough hand and clinging to it with what strength she had,

" Have I been very ill?" she asked, after a minute. " Yee, miss, very ill, and ye ain't none too well now," Jane returned, regarding her somewhat anx- iously.

" Do you think I shall be sick long?" the young girl questioned, wistfully,

"I hope ye're a trifle better this morain', bat it'll take quits a spell yet for ye to get up where ye

waa afore,"

Arley sighed heBvily at this.

" What day is it ?" she aBked. " Monday, miss."

" Monday !" with a startled look. " It waa Tues- day that I saw you at the consul's. It mast be nearly time to Bail."

Her eyes were growing very bright, and the fever flush began to mount hotly in her cheeks again.

" Yes ; the Rocket sails Wednesday at noon." Jane did not know what else to say.

"And I can't go," Arley wailed, with a hysterical

sob,

" Hush, dearie I ye'll do yerself mischief if ye get tocryin'," the woman said, soothingly, while she smoothed the pretty brown head with her hard hand as tenderly as a mother wonld have done,

" But I did so want to go home,"At)ey replied, with quivering lips.

" 1 know-I know, and I wanted to have ye,'' Dame Collins responded, while a hage lump rose in ber throat ; " but after all, dearie, a sailin' vessel ain't no fit way for the like o' ye to be travelin' in ; it'll be much better for ye to take passage in some stenmer, and go as a leddy should go."

" But I cannot go alone-I am afraid," and Arley clung to her coinpnnion almoBt in terror, while H feeling of desolation surged like a huge billow over

her.

The woman hardly knew what to say to her.

She Mt that it mi^ht do her great injury if ehe should get excited, and yet she knew that some ar- rangements ought to be made for her future care. She longed to stay herself, for ehe felt a strange yearning for the beautiful but forlorn stranger; but

she could not,

" Where do you sail from ?" Arley asked, after a few moments, and struggling to be calm,

' Valencia, miss, where tbey are loadin' the packet with fruits and nuts as fast AS ever they can ; and my old man and me will have to start early Wednes- day mornin', so's to be on band. It makes my old heartache, dearie, to go and leave you bebind, sick and alone, and-and-"

She wanted to ask how Arley happened to be there so friendless in that strange country, but a sort of rude delicacy prevented her from putting her curios-

ity into word?. i

But the sick girl understood her, and though a vivid blush rose to her forehead, she finished the

sunter,ce for her. |

"And you cannot understand how I happened to bc'in sich a resolute condition. I will tell yon; you bave been so good to me that you have earned the li.'.ht to know, and I am too miserable to care who knows it now,"sie said, wearily.

She then gave a brief account of her life since leaving London, telling bow Bhe and her husband bad wandered from place to place, their comforts growing less and less because of the lack of funds,

and how, after coming to Madrid, their resources had j failed entirely. ]

1 Her eyes drooped and her cheek burned with shame as she told how she bad bepged her husband to get something to do to improve their condition, and that when he had refused Bhe bad sought em- ployment and earned enough to keep out of debt,

" But I could not live so," she said, " I felt that I must go he me or my heart would break, and so I went that morning to the consul's to see if be could tell me of any parties about to return to Ungland with whom I could go. I felt BO elated," she added, the tears rolling over her crimson cheeks," when yon told me that I could return with you, even though it would be in a sailing vessel and I knew that the voy- age would be long and wearisome."

Then she related bow, on hex return from the con- sul's, she found ?!»<.' she bad been robbed of her jewels, and the money which she bad been depend- ing upon to pay ber passage, and how ehe had been piunfioJ into the depths of despair upon making the discovery.

" It was this which made me ill," she said ; " it gave me such B Bbock, and I trew so nervous and excited over my loss that it made me sick," and Jane saw that excitement was fast hurrying ber toward the verge of delirium again.

" Never mind the loss of the money, dearie," she said, soothingly ; " it were a good deal to lose, I own, and the scamp who took it 'li get his pay yet, I pro- mise ye ; but Jane Collins hain't the heart to see ye take on like this for the matter of a few pounds ; ye Bha'n't want for anything that a little money can buy -John and me'll let ye have whatever ye need, and when ye get bock to the old country, and the good aunt that ye've been telling me about, ye can make it.'all right with me again, if ye like."

Arley was greatly comforted by this, and bejan to grow calmer at once.

" What should I have done if it hud uot been foil'' yon ?" she said, gratefully. Í

" The Lord always tikes care of His helpless onesy and if He hadn't sent me, 'twould have been soo.1 one else," Jane responded, with sixple faith.

"But where is this"-" villion" she was going to ask, but changed her mind before the obnoxious word was spoken, and substituted-" man, who has used ye so badly ?"

Arley gave the street and number where ebe and Philip bad boarded ; then after thinking a moment

she asked:

" As you must go so soon, and there will be no one but strangers to care for me, perhaps it will be best to send word to my husband regarding my con- dition, and it may be when he sees how lam, he will be willing to exert himself to take care of me."

Jane Collins' face lighted at this proposal,

She thought it would be the best, and only thiDg to do and offered to go at once in search of the

receant basband.

Arley thanked her and consented, and Jane immediately started out upon her errand,

She easily found the place to which sbe had been directed, and presented, to the landlord, who anwered her summons, Mr. Pi xton's name, which Arley had written upon a card for her.

She was mude to understand that Mr. Paxton WBB not there -that the gentleman and bis wife had both gone, and they did not know whither,

The fact of the case was, that when Philip found

I that his wife was determined to go, he, too, left on

the same day, and their landlord believed that they had gone together to some other place,

It was with a heavy heart that Jane Collins re- turned to poor Arley with this intelligence, for she well knew how critical her condition was, and what a terrible thing it would be to leave her in that strange city alone and so very ill.

" If it wasn't for John I'd stay," she murmored to herself, with a troubled face, " but I've only him in all the world, and I just can't let him go without

me."

And the faithful creature was much distressed by her desire to act the part of the good Samaritan to the fair young invalid, while her Btrong affaction for her husband could not endure a long separation from

him.

Arley clung to her almost in terror upon learning how fruitles» ber errand bad been.

" What shall I do ? How can I bear to let you leave me ?" abe cried, in dtapair. " I can trust you -you are good and kind, I know, by your face, while I feel as if I w >a in a den of theives, I believe I shall surely die if I am left here alone,"

She became so excited that J.me grew alarmed, but she bad not one word of comfort to offer, for it was indeed a hard c>e¡»; and she could only gather her in her arms, and try to soothe her as she would

have soothed a chili.

The doctor came in daring this scene, and shook bia bead with (¡rest displeasure at be saw the con- dition which his patient was in, and he jabbered aa fast as his tongue could fly, while of course neither of his hearers coald understand a word that he said.

At length, BB if inspired by some happy thought, Arley raised her bead from Jane Collins' shoulder, and addressed him in French.

To her delight, he responded at once and with a very good accent, and the look of care and misery began to fade out somewhat from her face

If she could only make herself understood, her situation would not be quite so uncomfortable ; and when she explained it to Jane, she also looked mach

relieved,

Arley told the doctor that her kind friend would be obliged to leave her in a day or two, and that they were both much troubled on account of the

separation.

But he spoke very kindly, telling her not to be troubled ; he would make her bia specinl charge, and she should have every care that she needed ; and it WHS not long before he had the satisfaction of eeeing ber sink back upon her pillow with a sigh of relief, and an actual smile-though a tremulous one-on her lips, at his assurance.

(To be continued.)