|Chapter Title||A LAST APPEAL.|
|Newspaper Title||The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 - 1893)|
(From Engullí, Atiierlrnn, nuil oliicr Periodical».>
A LAST APPEAL,
"lorn very glad to know you, Sir Charles," Arley said her eyes lingering on the pleasint sounding Enuliah nara?, while her heart quickened its pulsa- tions as she thought perhaps he might aeeist her about going home, " and " with a wiatf ul look into his kind fflC», " Î should liku tr> traopuaa upon your goodness still further, and ask if you will help me to find some oie who is about returning to England, and who would be willing to grant me a little protection."
Sir Charlea'faed lighted with pleasure at this re« quest. <* Would you go with me ? with us, I should say, for my mother and I are travelling together.
Arley's heart bounded within her at this.
Nothing could be batter than for her to be under the protection of an elderly lady, and this kind noble
young man who was her son.
" If you would not mind being troubled with me I should be very grateful," she returned, with quivering lips and teur-laden eyes.
She tried to be brave through all that dreadful trial, but now the prospect of going home, under safe protection, bade fair to unnerve her completely.
" Do not call it trouble," he returned, gently ; " it would give us great pleasure to hc.ve you with us. We shall travel for three or four months longer, and
Arley'e face fell, and the fond hope which had ani- mated herlbut a moment before died within her.
" I nm afraid I cannot go with you, then," she sai J, a vivid blush dyeing all her face; " for I am obliged to be frank with you-I have not the means to travel, I have barely enough to-to take me home."
Sir Charles looked embarrased, even distressed, at
He would gladly havj offered to defray all her expenses, but being such a stranger to her, he dare not; and he could see that she was very proud-a lady through and through, who would be offended by such a proposal.
He thought a moment, then asked :
" Would you object to the delay I have mentioned, if-if there were no other obstacles ?"
" No," Atley answered, with a -sigh ; it does not matter much where I am now. I have, friends in London who would welcome me with open arms, and though Hong for them, yet I dread to m-et them under the circumstances. But necessity com- pels me to go somewhere-to get away from this dreadful place, where I cannot understand anything that is said to me ; for-i ti the future I shall be obliged to earn my own living."
She said it frankly, and yet with a little air of pride, as if, despite her poverty, she was notaBhamed
to have him know it.
"I am very glad that you h'ive told me this, Mrs. Paxton," her companion said, eagerly, .' for now I feel free to say that perhaps my mother can help you, and you can also help her out of a serious difficulty. Her
companion-a line young lady who accompanied ns ' from England-was taken violently ill at Lille, France, and the phyiician who attended her said that it would not do for her to resume travel with us-that just as soon bs she wob sufficiently recovered she must be sent home, and havâ complete rest and freedom from excitement. It was a greBt trial to my mother to be obliged to part with her, and, having been un- able to supply her place, she has been very lonely ever eince. If-pardon me, I mean it with all respect to you, and with tbedeaire to contribute to my mother's comfort-it you could be persuaded to-to accept the vacant position-"
Poor Sir Charles t be knew he was talking to a re- fined and cultivated lady ; it was very hard to offer her a paid position, and he stammered and stumbled dreadfully in his embarrassment,
But Arley came quickly to his aid, her face flush- ing with gladness, her eyes all alight with new hope, for here was a haven of refuge for her at last,
" Thank you, I should be only too glad to do bo," she said, eagerly ; " that is, if madam, your mother, would be satisfied with the arrangement and my poor Accomplishments,"
" There will be no trouble about that, I assure you," Sir Charles replied, much relieved to find how sen- sibly she had received his proposition. "Now, if you will please give me your address, I will bring her to see you this afternoon and you can arrange about our departure from Madrid to suit yourselves."
Arley drew from her pocket a beautiful little card- ase of filagree gold, and, taking a card from it, wrote -the street and number of her residence upon it, and gave it to him.
"Thanks^he said, thinking that she wrote the pret- tiest and most delicate band he ever saw. " Now will jou allow me to see you safely home ?-for," with a smile and a suspicious glance around, " I do not like to leave you to go olone, while you have so many enemies around you ?"
Arley gave him a quick inquiring look.
" I did not mean to alarm you," he added, quickly, *' but I suppose you have heard that the Spaniards ore exceedingly revengeful in their disposition."
" Yes, I hove heard it, but I had forgotten it," Arley replied, looking a trifle anxious.
« I wish to make sure," Sir Charles continued, « that you 8te not annoyed by any one, bo by your leave I will go with you."
She was very glad to have bim ; but as they were passing out of the now almost deserted court-room she saw Pbilipsitting in a dim corner,looking moody and miserable.
A feeling ot pity for him stole into her heart,
It was a dreadful thing, she thought, that a man with his talents and ability should allow himself to eostraightdown the road to ruin, as he was apparently doing, and all on account of the loss of a few thou- sand pounds, and because his stubborn pride made him ashamed to begin over again.
She had thought that all love for him waa dead that she had no feeling for him cow, save contempt for the weakness and littleness of soul which he had displayed ever since their marriage,
But as she looked at him, and remembered those beautiful dayB at Hazelmere, when he hod seemed so noble and true, there came a sudden burst of tears
to her eyes, and a pain, like the stab of a knife at
Should she pass on without a word, looking tkus hal last upon him, and leave him to the evil which seemed to possess him?
Oh, Bbe had loved bim truly and fondly when she had plighted her troth to him,-she would have loved bim thus as long as they both should live-she would have been such a faithful wife to bim and never murmured at any lot, had he preserved his honor or manhood-had he conducted himself in a way to command her respect;
It could no: be possible, she thought, with that grandly shaped head, that proud, aristocratic face, those deep, intelligent eyes, and with the education which he had received, that the man could be all bad, even though his countenance,atthat moment, reflected all the rage and malice which his recent defeat had
stirred within him.
It seemed as if she could not leave him so-as if she must make one laBt appeal to him. She might never see him again-it was very probable that she would not-surely she might speak one word of
farewell before she went out of his life forever. I
"Will you please excuse me one moment?'' she asked, withdrawing her hand from Sir Charlea' arm juît as they reached the door, " I do net like to go without one last word to Mr. Paxton-I will not keep you waiting long."
" Certainly I will excuse you, and I shall not mind walting as long as you like," he returned kindly, and wondering .from the wistful sadness of those lovely dark eyeB, if she could love the man who had that day shown himself such a traitor and wretch,
Philip hail not seen hftr mnvoment, he was so ab- sorbed in hie disagreeable musings that he was not aware of her approach until a gentle voice at his
side said :
" Philip !"
Her lips bad seldom spoken that name since their marriage, and the sound of it smote him with a keen pain.
But it wos only for an'inatsnt-the next he turned upon her witb a malignant scowl.
She shivered and shrank from him slightly, yet looking bo gentle and lovely that his features involuntarily relaxed.
"Well ?" he questioned briefly,
" I just wished to say to you," Arley said, in a hesitating tone, " that I cannot understand why you should have taken this action against me-if you wish to be free I am sorry that you cannot be, but I cannot remain silent and allow my character to be defamed, else I should never have appeared against you, I am going away-back to England,
He started, and flashed a strange look at her bb she said this, but she did not appear to notice it.
" I Bball go back to Aunt Angelina and I shall have to tell her why I came back; but further than that I shall say nothing. I shall never seek to to see y ou-I shall never meet you if I can help it, and then in time, if you wish, thd lew will free you and there need be no publicity about it, < But,' and her sweet lips quivered pRinfully, ' I wish our life could have been different-I would have been glad to share al- most any lot with you, if you had met your reverses bravely and honorably-I would have been a faithful wife to you-you know that for I have told you so before-for, I did love you very dearly, Philip."
The word broke from him unawares ; as she had uttered it, it had sounded like a knell over some bright hope forever lost, and for a moment he seemed to realize that something very precious had passed out of his life ; wbila as she stood tbere so beautiful and winning in her gentleness and her an- xiety to speak some word that should arouse bis better nature and save him-without one particle of anger or malice toward him for all that he bad made her suffer-he was half tempted to reach forth his arms and beg her to come back and bless him witb her love once more-to forgive and forget.
She seemed to read something of this in tho mo- mentary fl-sh of his eye, she heard it in the tone of his voice, as he repeated that sad word after her. and a wave of tenderness surged over her soul.
What if she could save him even now?
She had suffered much from him ; she had been humiliated ns women was never humiliated betöre ; but could she not afford to forget, to crush oat all her pride, to forgive all hsr injuries for the blessed reward of leading him back to a life of truth honor, and usefulness ?
Her fsce had boen very white while she stood thor» before him ; now it suddenly flushed and be- came almost rndUnt witb a holy purpose,
" Do you cara because I spoke in the past tense Philip ?" ßhe asked, in a low, tremulous voice. " I have thought that it was past, that all love for you bad died out of my heart, I have suffered so much of late; but at this moment I feel as if perhaps it might live again if you would only be your true and
noble self once more."
She gave him cradit then for possessing a spark of nobility, of being capable of rising to a position which would command the respect and confidence of men. Long afterwards he remembered it, and it comforted him in his loneliness and humiliation.
"Ido not believe," Arley went on eagerly, " that you are acting your true nature. I do not believe that my heart would have been drawn toward you as it was at Hazelmere if there bad not been something lovable and honorable in you to call forth my affec- tion. I know you bave been bitterly disappointed, and I have grieved more on your account than my own that I was obliged to oome to you penniless; but the loss of money is such n little thing compared to that of one'e honor and self-respect. Oh, if I could only make you see bow much nobler and better it would be to begin again ever bo low socially, with the determination to rice-and witb health and abil- ity any one can rise if he will-than to live aa you have been living since our marriage i Do not waste your life thus ; be the true-hearted man that I be- lieved you when I first knew you, Philip, will you ? Will you go back to England with me ?"
How could he resist such gentle, earnest pleading ? How could he help yielding to that sweet-voiced en- treaty ?
Who can tell how he longed to do so-how, per- haps, he bad all but surrendered, when the devil in his heart whispered, " The Lily of Mordaunt has twenty thousand pounds a year, and W11 Hamilton
is dead ?"
" No," be said, briefly and sullenly, and turned restlessly away from those tenderly inviting eyes;
A deep sigh fell upon Mb ear, and it smote him li lie a blow ; but he stubbornly crcshed down every better feeling, though afterward he remembered that he was very near yielding as the hopeless sound struck him, and then, with bitter remorse, he cried out :
'? Ob, why-why was I so blind and hardened that
I would not h?ed nerf
" Good-by, then, Philip," and there was a wistful sadness in the sweet voice. " I suppose our paths will widely diverge after this, and we shall never meet again, save, perhaps, ob strangers meet. But I pray you-I beseech you," she added, with passionate earnestness, " do not live out your whole life as you are living now ; do not let your existence prove a failure ; do not wreck the mind, do not ruiu the soul which has been given you ; for, some day, you know, they will be required of you again. J am a woman ; I have lost everything-name and fortune
-and now thiB added blight which you have cas* upon me presses me down still more heavily ; but" and now the lovely girl lifted her bead with an air of pride and resolution-" I am going to battle against these adverse circumstances with all my might, I am going to make the most and very beBt of myself. I will not be crushed-I do not believe God menns me to be crushed ; so, with his help, I shall raise above my troubles ; and if, in future, we should chance to meet again, Philip, I will show you what a woman, preserving her truth and self respect, can accomplish."
This was uttered with nothing of arrogrance cr self-assertion, but with a sort of earnest ; faith, as if a glimpse had been granted to her through the present darkness of a more hopeful beyond.
She paused a moment and drew off h or glove ;
then added :
" I wish to return this to you. I do not feel that I can wear it any longer ; but whenever you chance to look at it, I trust it will remind you that it once bound you to one who would have been glad to prove loyal to the vows to which it was a sea), had you not made it impossible."
Bhahad drawn off her wedding-ring while she was speaking, and now laid it down upon the table by which he ant ; then turning, she went slowly back to where Sir Charles Herbert stood waiting for ber.