|Newspaper Title||Port Adelaide News and Lefevre's Peninsula Advertiser (SA : 1883 - 1897)|
|Trove Title||Dora Dunbar. An Australian Story|
AN AUSTRALIAN STORY.
v : • CHAPTEB IV.—(Continued.)
Y M 0 fi A."
"Heigho 1 what are we coming to ?" I ask myself, as I softly quHuthe room, "Fred with a lover, and Ag. a secret 1 What next?" , In the hall I enoonnter Vic, who beckons me mysteriously into the dining-room. "I Bay; Doll, here's a pretty kettle of fish 1 What do yon think I've been and gone and done now?" " Stood-on the chiefs pet flora?" I essay. "Worse than that even,. I think. 'Where is lie by-the-by ? Is the coast clear ?" . . " Yes, for an hour or, so. What have you done?, ««Watt tiU I tell you., This morning the ohiefgave me a note for Mr. OottoD, of the Colonial Bank, and, like the thickhead I am, I passed the bank and never thought of it, till thisaftemoon, when four or five of ns seniors vera out At the reservoir, and I wasn't going to race back four miles lor an old prescription or account, for I daresay that's what it is, eh? . " When we were coming home, Tom. Bart and I got beihind the rest, and Tom—he's spoons, yon know, on Sate Avery, the mining manager's daughter—asked me to do him a favor. It Seems he was see to Sate at the bazaar to-morrow night, but it seems that his governor has taken a sadden fit in his head to go to town and take Tom with him, and he wanted me to take a note for him and give it to Kate. Tom and I are great chains, yoa know, though he is three years my Benior, and dnx of the sohool, so I was glad to oblige him. Passing the bank coming home I ran in and gave Mr. Cotton the ohiefs note, as I thought, but—" «in reality yon gave him Tom's ?" " Yes," ruefully. "Oh, this is rich 1" I cry, laiighing at the idea of Mr. Cotton puzzling over poor Tom's amorous phrases, " and Kate, I suppose, got an infallible cure for neuralgia or dyspepsia in the chief's oaligraphy ?" "No, I saw her passing just now, and, getting out the letter, saw my mistake. .But I sqy, Doll, leave oB grinning like a'Cheshire eat, and give me your advice." . A ling at the bell takes me to the hall door before I can answer him. Opening it I con-' front a broad-shouldered, blond - bearded figure, the sight of which wrings from me the delighted ejaculation, " Mr. Cotton I" Sopleased am I to see. him, that, hardly waiting to return his greeting, I run off for* Tic, leaving him standing half-wondering, half-amused at the door. " Tic,' Tic, come here 1 here'sMrCotton I" I «iy; and, red and awkward, Tic comes forward , hisconfusion changing to a look of relief as Mr. Cotton passes him Tom'B letter unopened. "I happened to look at the address, and - -saw at once there was some mistake," he explains, as Vic, thanking him profusely, produces the chief's note. "Will you not come in, Mr. Cotten?" I ' ink, coming to my senses at last. " I think not, thank you, Miss Dora. Is 1 the doctor at home?" "No. Did yoa wish to see him particularly?" " I did, bat I can call again." And cell again lie does a day or.so later, and remains closeted with the chief so long that our curiosity is aroused. " It's no professional consultation, I'm sure," I declare. " He's a rookof health and Strength. I have it—happy thonght. He's asking the chief for you, Ag! posting him up iirfiia expectations, antecedents,' etc. Fancy being MrgrDIck Cotton ? ye Gods! What's in a name ? ' A ros^by any other name would ^mell as sweet,' says Shakespeare, bat I don't agree with him. Call a rose a cabbage, and yon rob it of half its charms, in my opinion. Heigol Mrs. Dick Cotton, eh? I'd go in single blessedness to my grave ere I'd bear each a same. Dora Dunbar, I'll continue till the end of the chapter if I can't change" flu .Dunbar for something jas mellifluous at least. " I prophesy that we shall see yoa Mrs, Snooks or something of the sort yet," laughs Ifoddie. "Never J" in tragic tones, " welcome ancient spinsterhood, with its attendant horrors of parrots and tabbies, first1'- " Ay, at sweet seventeen," chimes in Ag, "now its 4 Whom shall I have?' bat seven years hence it will be, 'Who'll have me?' if yoa are still D.D. Yoa remember the girl whose master overheard ber praying for a liasband, * Aught bat a tailor, good Lord,' and how she changed her tune when he, disguising his voice, answered, <& tailor or. turner 'A tailor, good Lord, a tailor,' was her cry then.- So with yoa—nothing bat Fitzberbert orMontmorenci will Euit yoa now, but-soon:—" "Spare me, Ag,"laughingly,stopping my ear*, " I give in, Bileno8d, if not convinced. Time wOI tell. Meanwhile what's the plot , forming in the, den ?" • "Time will tell," mimics Freddie, aggravatingly. ' Pays and weeks , go by, however, and tell as nothing. Mr. Cotton and the chief develop a sudden appreciation of each other's society, and onoe a week, at least, (he big, brown-bearded jfigare, in cool-looking greys, looms above
our festive - board* and Ms mellow .laagh avakes the echoes of the den & lie joins the chief la bia after-dinner smoke. . Now and then he spends an evening with tlr-i " female elemenf'of the family, joining in Freddies songs, beating Ag at phess,and ignoring: me in toto, as a rule, though I sometimes find his blue-grey ; eyes fixed on me in a way that confuses meconsiderably. - .... "Ag,* r I say . once, when he goes, "I wish: you'd:, break yourbrown .bear -of his bad habit of staring people oat of countenance " ; " " He never stares at me," mischievously affirms Ag. - " He must take me for an escaped member of a menagerie." "Perhaps, thinks you are a little dear,". suggests Vic. " That's borrowed, Vic." I assert disdainfully, "be original, or perish in the attempt. For the fqture £ mean to be non est when he comes." . "Wonder will he survive?" queries the incorrigible youth, " you'll have him singing, ' Though lost to sight to memory dear' under your windows the first moonlight night, Doll." . A well aimed blow with a sofa cushion smothers his hist word, then I have to use my heels to save my ears. Oat of the drawiqg-room, through the hall, into the diningroom, round and round its long table, and out again head first—horrors of horrors— into the chief. Warned by my ejaculation of dismay, Vic meanly skulks off, leaving me to bear the brant of the battle, and woe is me I What a hail of words beat round me—wrath, reproof, satire, vituperation,, indignation, all in turn, till at last, breathless from the combined effects of his own eloquence and my weight, he mafces.for the den. Then I- sneak oS to the kitchen, where I dad Ag and Fred looking so ridiculously meek and sympathetic that I laagh myself off into a fit of hysterics, out of which Vic brings me by a liberal use of water and abuse. Doll, you great gawk," he begins, dousing me with a cup of water, - "what do you msan ? The idea of you, making such a fool of yOurself. Corns, stow, that trash, or I j hall call the chief," and so on till I recover my equilibrium. The next time Mr. Cotton calls how I wish I had said nothing of his staring. Unnoticed by him, they torment me at every turn—even Ag cannot resist fixing her laughing eyes on me, in the nearest approach to a lackadaisical, sentimental gaze she can manage, whenever an opportunity offers. Then Vic, snatching up a cobwebby lace antimsccasar, flings it round me grinning, "Would'nt she make a captivating little ' bride, Mr- Cotton?" and, to my vexation and their delight, the giant in grey blushes like & girl as he acquiesces. •'Tic, you imp, l6t me go—yoa will smother me," I cry, glad, nevertheless, that he will not, because of my hot cheeks. For J can be blind to the truth no longer. "It's as plain ns a pikestaff" to quota Vic, that I, Dora Dunbar, little more than seventeen, empty of head and hot of heart, have won the love of this honest heart—a love that a woman might go down on her knees and thank God for. I recognise the fact, yet such is the inconsistency of -my woman's nature that, feeliog prond of my conquest—as I ne6ds must when I survey the stalwart figure and handsome open face—I wish him miles away, in my strange new sense of shy consciousness. CHAPTER V. One doll drizzling morning in early March, the postman brings me a large, blue, offciallookiug letter bearing in its lower left-hand corner the suggestive words, ''Educational Department, Melbourne." With what suppressed excitement I regard it—longing y et dreading to learn its contents —only those "can understand who have been throogh the ordeal. Have they ruthlessly "plucked" m6? I wonder—that autocratic board of examiners; or, in the language of the i&iated, has a <: Big P" fallen to my share? In plain English—have I failed or Screw your courage up, old gal," recommends Vic, " open it and get out of your misery. " Do dear," advises Ag, seeing me hesitate. "Never say die, Dora," says Freddie. * Open it and « Have it ontlaughingly reminding me of my pet phrase. "So be it," and with trembling fingers I tear off the blue cover, and, opening out the formidable-looking form within, run my eye featfally down it. "Bravo! BraviseimoI""Doll,you'll do us credit yet," cries Vic, with a sounding slap between my shoulders—his' qiick eye taking in first the long array of " Big P's," for opposite «aoh subject — the dreaded School Management included—is written " Passed." " Passed in everything ! Well done you, Dora," .cordially chimes in Ag, while Freddie sits mute, divided between admiration of me and my " Big P's." Suddenly coming to herself she slips her arm round me with a hearty, " I'm so glad, sis. Come and tell mamma." Arm-in-arm, with Ag. and Vic trailing after us, we dawn on mamma's astonished vision. "What is it now, children ?" raising herself on her elbow and looking from one to another. *' Can't you read the news in the phisog. of oar 'sweet girl-graduate,' mamma?" asks Tic, giving me a push forward. "You have word of your examination, dear? ! ' questioningly, catohing sight of the form in my hand. " Passed in everything, mamma," answers Tic for me, then elevating his head and distending his chest with a comical assumption of dignity, he strikes up " See the Conquering Hero comes," drowning mamma's gentle congratulation, and deafening as all. " Will you get your certificate now,Dora?" asks Ag, as soon as he subsides. " Not till I pass in Needlework and Art of Teaching," I reply. " When the inspector comes round in May, I'll get him to examine me in them, if he will." " And then, supposing you get through ?" queries Freddies " I'll apply for an appointment at once," I promptly rejoin. " It's one thing to apply and another to get a post, I know, but 'Nil Desperandum,' is my motto in the matter." - " What if yoa are packed ofi to the wilds of Gippsland, or the' Kelly' country 7" asks Vic. . " I shall see all the more of the world," I say. lightly," but wait till I get my certificate before we talk of that." " And if yon fail in Art of Teaching—what then?" inquires Freddie. " I get a second chance; bat I hope I shan't foil, I want to get through without any second shots." " Don't let your ' high ambition overleap itself,'" smilingly advises mamma;, then, softly stroking my hair as I sit on a hassock beside her, "so my birdling wantB to try her wings, tired of the home-nest, eh, Dora ?" " No, mamma, but I want to see a little of the world, and taste the sweets of independence. Fancy how amazingly rich—for Dora Dunbar—I should feel with my hundred a year." " Never forget we are mates when that's coming in," interjects Tic; "Bight yoa are, old eon," I rejoin, straggling to free myself from the grizzly-like grasp of his embrace. "Let me go, I'm smothering. Tic, you omadhaun 1 would yoa strangle your golden goose ?"
"By George, no I" suddenly releasing me, " I sbotild be what Gordon calls 'more than an ess' to do that." " Spare us, Vic," laughs Freddie," between Gordon and your beloved Spoopendyke, what an infliction our liv& have., become 1", Which is true enough, seeing that Ticb&s lafcjy developed -a mania for A. L. Gordon's racy pieces, and iB everlasting " chewing" them over for our benefit, till in desperation fire plug our ears, pelt him with potatoes, gag him, aid resort to various other experiments to eilecce bis ravings. "Leajtthough" he burst out, off on his hobby at once, doesn't he describe Britomarte splendidly— ' She was iron-sinewed and satin skinned, Bibbed like a drum and limbed like a deer—'" " Stop, fiend 1" cries Freddie, launching a pillow at his head, which Ag and I supplement with a couple more, then, taking him by the shoulders, the three of us turn him holes-bolus out of the room. Nothing daunted, he drops on his knees and recites through the key-hole his iavorite piece," The.sick stock-rider." "«O ye Gods! must we endure all this?'" quotes Ag in tragic tones. '"Ay "more, fret till your prond hearts break,'" takes np Vic on the other side of the door.. ' " I'll break this cane over your back, you young Ecarop, if you don't cease that din," breaks in the chiel's awful voice; " come, get out of the way." Mentally I picture Vic, poor fellow, sneaking oS, even as we do, out of the opposite door to that the chief enters by, leaving mamma to tell him of my " big P's." To my surprise, he comes on, leaving her, and congratulates me warmly. "What next?" I gasp, theatrically, when he goes. " After this the deluge!" exclaims Freddie, " Bead us this riddle, someone please," I beg. "No riddle at all, Doll," asserts Vic. "Your success means probably £100 per annum, and that covers a multitude of sins in pa's eyes." " True, O sage!" I mutter, visions of my monthly cheque drifting into the "sinking fund," as we term the chiefs pocket-book. "Never meet trouble half-way, Dora," cheerfully puts in Ag, divining my thoughts. " You're right, ma toeur," I cry. " It'll be time enough to think of the 'sinking-fund' when I get an appointment." "Ungrateful girl!" mocks Freddie, "toy begrudge a fitty to the father who has fed and" fought for you for seventeen long years." "I begrudge it to the 'sinking fund,' Fre& Fancy my fifty going to swell those hoarded hundreds we ought to be enjoying." " It would be/rather rich." " Bich," I echo. " It'd rile me awfully, I know." "Come, girls," interrupts Ag, commandingly, " This won't do. Be ofi about your business, and leave me to mine,.if you want any dinner." " That'e a broad hint, Ag, as Paddy said when they kicked him downstairs," remarks Vic, making a raid on the lemon-peel at the same time. "Begone, you thief of the world 1" cries Ag, waving her rolling-pin wildly above his head; and, ducking it out of danger, he goes, with Freddie and myself in his wake, leaving Ag " monarch of all she surveys." About four in the afternoon I sally forth to make Mr. Johnstone acquainted with my good luck. As I wend my way down the. side street leading to the school, quick steps echo in my rear, and the next moment a voice at my elbow says: "Good afternoon, Miss Dunbar." Turning, I find myself face to face with " W. S."—the hero of my love-letter—save the mark. It is nearly three months since, in my righteous wrath, I ignored his salutation, and during all that time we have never spoken, for the simple but sufficient reason that we have never met. Time, .and perchance success, have exercised a softening effect, for I return his greeting amiably. " May I walk a few steps with you ?" he asks lamely, then, without my consent, he ambles—no other word could so well describe his gait—along at my side. "Miss Dunbar," he begins nervously, after a moment's silencc," will yoa tell me why yoa treated me . as you did the last time I spoke to yoa ? I have tried several times since to get an opportunity to ask yoa about it, but could not succeed till now. What have I done?" " Doesn't your conscience accuse yoa, Mr. Stephens ?" I ask, lightly, though I feel a species of contempt for his " mean way of shuffling out of it," as I mentally term the ignorance he is professing. " My conscience ?" in a tone of genuinely surprised inquiry. " No, why should it ?" " Because—" I begin, then, woman-like, break off. " The next time yoa send a semi-anon/mous love-letter to a young lady, Mr. Stephens, uee proper precautions io prevent its falling into a stern parent's possession, and bringing the vials of his wrath on her devoted head. "I—a love-letter—I don't understand," he Btammers, looking at me in blank bewilderment — bewilderment so real that, for the first time, it strikes me he knows nothing of the luckless affair. Briefly I give him an account thereof, and with unconcealed surprise, and indignation he hears me out. "I had no hand in it, Miss Dunbar," he assares me," this is the first I have heard of it, but I can guess whose work it is. You might have given me credit for a little more sense than, according to your account, there was in that letter; though," he concludes, in an injured tone. "I judged too hastily," I admit contritely. "Now, (penitence personified, I ask your pardon." " You look "very penitent," half angrily. " Never judge' a woman by her looks, Mr. Stephens, a smiling face may hide an aching heart." " Have you one to hide ? I doubt it sometimes," hesays, laughingly. „ "Query? Were I of the genu* homo yon might easily tell—the way to a man's heart is through his appetite, is it not ? Feed him well if you prize his affection—but a truce of each nonsense. Tell me, Mr. Stephens, if it's a fair question, whom you suspect, of sending the letter, I mean." "My cousins, Mary and Harriet,Sean. It's their idea of a capital jokel" scornfully, " But the writing was a man's." " Mary can copy any writing—she'd make a first class forger." " Not very complimentary," I laugh. '.'I toll her she missed her Vocation. Nature intended her for—" "Stop, stop I" I cry, ere he can finish. " Gallantry, thy name is not W. S." "It seems not. Is this your-journey's end T' as I halt at the school gate. " Well, I'll wish yoa good afternoon, Miss Donbar, and will go and haul my cousins over tj>e coals." "Yoa'll do nothing of the kind, sir, if I have any voice in -the matter. Say nothing about it is my advice." "They deserv« a soand.rating." " Maybe—as the Scotchman says—bat silence mil serve them out better. They'll think their joke fell fiat." "Perhaps so—I'll.Jake your advice, at any rate," and shaking hands he bows himself off.
Mr. Johnson is duly delighted to hear of my succeB.s, since it reflects credit on himself, and generously offers to coach me ap for May, which offer I gratefully accept. CHAP TEE VI. Easter comss and goes very quickly. Wa had not even a flying visit from L:X to break the monotony, for it has been arranged that he is to come over on leave of absence at the end of Jane, and take Freddie back with him to share the nest he is preparing. Sseirig that it is useless to hold out longer, the chief Iras graciously given in, "and thus matters stand. "Freddie is up to her eyes in the materials of her modest trousseau, and many a sweet hope and happy waking dream does she stitch into it. Ag—her old self again to all appearanos— lends her valuable assistance; sympathizing in her plans and prospects so cheerfully, that not even my lynx eyes discern what the effort costs .her, though I can guesB later. Mr. Cotton is still a regular visitor, bat never by any chance do I give him an opportunity to speak more than common^ plaoes, for I verily believe should he say «' Be mine" (as the journals have it), I'd say •'.yes," out of sheer lack of heart to say, «"no." Besides, did.I love him ever so muoh " I'm ower young to marry yet." Ihave no notion of resigning my liberty so soon, for thus I look on matrimonial bliss, judging it from the Dunbar sample. Ernest Williams rarely puts in an appearance now. " Hard at work, oramming for next exam.," is hiB excuse, but time tells a different tale. Beyond an occasional passage-at-arms with the chief, we have nothing to disturb the even tenor of our way. Even he is singularly amiable, considering that his digestive organB are, two-thirds of the time, at my tender mercy, while Ag is helping Freddie. Yio affirms that I am either laboring under the idea that—emu-like—they can digest anything, or taking a mean advantage of the present opportunity to pay off old sooreB. "Doll," he says, caustically, at one meal, " you ought to take out a patent for these scones — warranted to defy the sharpest teeth ;"ana again, "for humanity's sake, Doll, spare us another infliction of mince this week. This is the third time we have had it, and today is only Wednesday. Enough's as good as -a feast." He crowns the long list of insulting inueadoss I (have had to bear during my brief rule over the culinary department the following evening, when the chief brings Mr. Cotton home to dinner. We have become used to his dropping in at all times; nevertheless, I wish him far enough away on the occasion, for my dinner is a failure, 6ven Ag,—who will say a good word if one is to be said—has to admit. "You have eclipsed yourself to-night, Doll," sarcastically, Vic begins, surveying the slice of dried-up, over-done beef, flanked, by a email pyramid of underdone vegetables gracing his plate. " She's been experimenting on us uofortunatea lately, Mr. Cotton—seeing how much the inner man can stand. I'm going to suggest an Addition to the-litany next Sunday, ' From Dora Dunbar's cooking-. powers, good Lord deliver us.'' ' May good digestion wait on appetite 1'" he concludes devoutly, vigorously attacking his meat, as the chief—who had been called away—reenters the room. Hot and angry, I have hardly time to cool down ere the chief has a slap at me. "Dora, my dear," smiling benignly, "Yoa should send speaimens of your triumphB in the culinary line to our next show. I'll guarantee you'd take first prize." "Borne was not built in a day, papa," I say, forcing a smile, though I am ready to cry with vexation; which inclination is not lessened by the sympathetic gaze of oar guest's gray-blae eyes,.which I encounter as I withdraw mine from the chief. " Ambrosia and nectar, I suppose it was to him when he learnt it was yoar fair bands prepared it," laughs Freddie afterwards, in the sanctity of our own room. "Well,if it doesn't cure him'of his passion, I am sure nothing will. The man who could calmly contemplate taking to himself for life the originator of such a repast, is not to be measured by the standard of ordinary men." It does not cure him, judging from the continued regularity of his visits, but it puts an end to my authority in the kitchen. From that day I officiate in it only under Ag, serving an apprenticeship, as it were, that may end in my becoming a good cook. May brings the inspector and my dreaded ordeal; from which, to my surprise, rather, I come off with flying colors. Then I send in an application for a position as assistant in a large, or bead-teachel in a small school; which done, all I have to do is wait patiently. During the last week of Jane, Lex arrives, happy and handsome in his character of bride-groom-elect. Then for a week all is hurry and bustle, quiet as the wedding is to be. The auspicious day dawns fair and freBh, and at ap early hour Freddie is up and oat on a-last visit to her favorite haunts. We have talked far into the wee sma' hoars every night since Lex's arrival, nevertheless his bride's beauty and bloom seem nowise impaired as, in her pretty brown travelling dress she takes her place at Ins side, and, in a low firm voice, speaks the solemn words that make her his till death do them part. Old Mr. Sutherland performs the ceremony, and to enable mamma to witness it, it takes place at" the residence of the bride's parents," to quote from our looalrag,as many -term the bi-weekly paper that is all oar township boasts. Only the happy pair's rela&ons and most i&timate friends are present^ but they suffice to fill the drawing-room.'' Papa gives the bride away, and gives them both his blessing, a la the heavy father, in most approved dramatio style, in his speech at the breakfast, waxingquite pathetic in the midst of it. The other speeches are harried tbroagh, for train-time is drawing neBr; the last presents are hurriedly packed; the last goodbyes are said; the last kisses given, and five minutes later the sister and daughter who has never passed twenty-four hours from under the home roof in her life, passes oat of oar sight, and out of our lives for evermore—on earth. The first gap in the home circle is made. Ah me, could we only lift the veil that hides the future, how many a bitter thought and hard word would remain unthoaght and nnottered 1 how many mountains would shrink into molehil's 1 how many mattersof moment become " trifles light as air 1" We watch them till the buggy tarns the comer, smiling bravely until then; then Ag and I look blankly in each other's faces for a moment, and wind np by bursting into tears like two great babieB. After all, there is something almost as sad. as death in a marriage, with its breaking np of old associations and snapping of old ties. • I recover myself first—almost at once, In. fact—beneath the oritical eyeB around; bat Ag, rushing ofi to her room, gives vent to a perfect storm of sobs. "Don't, Dora," she says, almost roughly, shaking off my caressing hand, and throwing herself on her knees beside Freddie's bed, die Bobs unrestrainedly. -
"Help me to bear it, 0 Lard I help me to bear it!"—is it my fancy, or did slie really uttrr the words ? I know not, for by a violent effort she conquers her outburst as if by magic, and rises to her feet. "Go to mamma, Doll, will yoa," she says, almost calmly, "I'll join you in a moment or two, as soon as I get. over my fit of selfishness," with a faint smile. "Don'icailit that, Ag. It's only natural you Ebould feel it deeply. You'll-miss her terribly—" • She interrupts me impatiently: " Don'tsay any more,Doll—I ban'tstand it. . Go to the others and tell them I'm coming." Half' offended, I obey her, and a few minutes later she appears, her usual calm, gentle self, making some smiling remark regarding the rice that lies scattered so profusely about. Gradually the guests go, till only Mrs. Sutherland is left. She stays to cheer mamma, blissfully oblivious of her own faltering tones and suspioiously moist eyes. Tben, drawing our chairs xoand the drawing-room fire, Ag, Vic and I alternately discuss the day's events, and gaze dreamily into the coals. ' > " What a pretty bride she made, although she did wear only her travelling dress 1" I remark sleepily. " And how cool- she kept,"- I continue, no one having answered my first ventare, "Lex was,far the more nervous—his hand shook like a leaf as he signed his name." "Perhaps he didn't realize till then to what he was committing himself," suggests Vic, "signingaway his liberty brought him to his senses." " Sarcasm's not your forte, Vic," Ag reminds him for the hundredth time in the last few months. .. " Till Christmas seemB a long time to wait to see them again, doesn't it?" I put in dolefully, but Ag cheerfully scouts the idea. " It'll ba here before you know where yoa are," she asserts. She proves a true prophet. July and August go on wings. September brings me the snbstance of my life, and, like the dog in tbe fable,-l let it go to grasp at the. shadow. I am sitting one afternoon looking out at the soft September rain, when a familiar figure intervenes, and through the long open window. Mr. Cotton enters the room. It has come at last, the declaration I have so long avoided, one glance at. his face tells me. Even now, rising hurriedly, I make a desperate effort to escape, on pretence of calling Ag, but he prevents me. ! (Tt> be continued.") AUSTRALEAH TALES AND ADVENTURES. No. B N E L L B R Y C E.
BY BOBt. P. WHITWOBTH.
"Yoa noticed that tall, handsome woman I called your attention to in the asylum today ?' queried my friend Dr. Macintosh, as we sat in his cozy dining-room one day, smoking the post prandial cigar over a glass of generous wine.. By the way my friend is famous for his cellar, and deservedly so, as I have reason to know. I had that day visited the Dunedin Lunatic Asylum with him; and he had whispered me to observe one of the patients, which I had accordingly done without attracting her notice. She was a young woman, not more than twenty-five or six I should say, and had that in her appearane which struck me" as being extremely remarkable. She was, as the doctor said, " tall and handsome," vefcy handsome,, singularly beautiful I should have expressed it, but with a weird kind of beauty that almost created a painful sensation. . Her hair and eyes were dark, and the latter large and lustrous, but with that weary, vacant, far away look, that tells so surely either of some greatxmfoigotten trouble, or more pitiful still, of a wrecked mind. • She sat quite still, speaking to no one, noticing no one. Still and motionless, except lor a nervous play of the hands, a kind of ceaseless, and to me, unmeaning intertwining of the fingers, ceaselesB, at all events so long as I saw her. I replied that I had remarked her, and was greatly struck with fcer appearance. "Poor creature," said my friend gently, "she is always like that, perfectly quiet, and yet absolutely, hopelessly mad. Her's is a sad, very sad story, should you like to hear it?" "I should of all things," I replied, and then I learnt the story of Nell Bryoe. " Six years ago," said the doctor, " there wasn't a man, woman, nor ohild for twenty miles round 'Palmerston who didn't know, or who, at all events, hadn't heard of, Nell Bryce. She was the daughter of Dan Bryce, a well to do settler living on his extensive farm between Palmerston and Moeraki, and was unquestionably the belle of that part of New Zealand, not only on account of her remarkable beauty, but also of her wit, sprijghtliness, grace, and good nature. Not a young fellow ill over the coantry side but would, so to speak, have gone through fire and water to win a smile from her, while to enjoy the favor of her hand in a dance was felicity indeed. It needs hardly be said that she was in great request at all the little feasts and merrymakings in the district, and, in fact, no ball or party, wedding, or christening was looked apon as very muoh, onleBS Nell—everybody called her Nell—Bryce was present, and the happy swain who, for the time, acted as her esquire, was as cordially envied as he was hated by his less fortunate rivals. ' - r Light-hearted, full of gitlish fun, quiakat repartee, saucy, somewhat coquettish even, as she was, there was another and deeper side to her character, unknown, perhaps, to herself, a latent strength of will and fixity of purpose, which it only needed circumstances to develops. There : is no doubt that she might have picked and chosen at will for a lover, had she so ehoBen, amongst the best and wealthiest yoang fellow far and near, but she laughed at them all, and so far was, as the saying' goes, "fancy free." Of course she had lovers, or would-be lovers, by the score, with whom she dancsd, sang, drove, rode, and flirted generally, bat when it OBme to real, right down love making in earnest, she would none of them, paoked them off incontinently, one after the other, with a flea in their ear. Bat' the pitcher that goes too often-to the well Is surf to get broken. A handsome young fellow named David Cameron, die son of a farmer on the Waikoaaiti Downs, was noticed to be more specially favored than the rest of her suitors, and, .in short, ere long, he was acknowledged as her accepted lover. ' But there were complications. Old Dan Bryce her father, who had allowed her to have her own way in most things, had «ome notions which were not altogether peculiar. He was a fairly wealthy man, while the Camerons were not by any means wealthy. Then again, old Cameron, though poor, was as proud as Lucifer, and was not inclined to sanction a marriage in which, as lie pot it, " the laddie oanna bring mast for the lassie's meal." s • • Old Pan Bryoe flew nto a moat naoon-
82iona"bLe passes when the thing was hinted at-. " Av ccorse, Aileen, my lady, u «aid ihe, " ye'll do jist as ye loike, yez always do, .but niver will ye get my coneinVnor a farden of, my money nayther, until t&at onld Sootch" nagur puts down poind for pound widme. And that's the price of Daniel Bryce;:more betoken that's poetbry, and so there ye have both rhyme and razon," Now neither Nell nor David were exactly fools, and although love in a oottage-isaU very pretty in your school-girl romances, still the hard practical reality is another matter, and they both knew that well enough. And young Cameron was an honorable fellow, who ootid not bear to think of dragging down a wife,and such a wife, to a life of poverty and domestic drudgery. They must'wait for better days. He would goto the diggings on tbe Arrow and the Shotover, where men were picking up gold galore, rand after a time, when he haid made a pile, .would return again and claim her for his bonnie bride. The old, old, story. They plighted their troth, swore vo^s of eternal fidelity, and parted. That is the end of many stories, but not of mine. Time went on. Nell heard from her lover now and again. Ha was on the Cardrona doing well, making money fast.' So he said, and it was true. He and his mates had struck rich gold, and in a little while, a few months perhaps, he would come back to her he loved so truly. This episode in her life was a sealed book between her and her father. He might have suspected, but he said nothing, nor aid she. - Time still went on, and he was still doing well. He would start back in two months he wrote, ip a month, in a week. Oh, blissfnl news. His share came to something over £2000, most of it he had in cash, some in gold. He -would start in three days, he would be with her in a week. In a week. In seven days. How those days legged. Would the week never be over ? Alas i alas l Better for her if it never had. T * * * ' The road, or rather .track, for made road there was none, from the Cardrona was tip the river as far as Boundary Creek, then over= the range and down the Eirtle Burn to the coach road which runs through the dark rocky defile known as the Eawarsn Gorge, a defile celebrated for the wild savagery of its scenery even in that land of mountain and of flood, of gloomy pass and rocky fastness. From the Cardrona, under Crnfiel Peak, David Cameron, bidding farewell to his -mates, started. The track, hard to find, and harder to keep, had no terror for him, for in his belt he bore the wealth he had striven so hard to attain, in his heart he oarried the picture^ of the fair face waiting for bim in tbe Sooth, and the dismal purple gray of the stark mountains round him was rose-tinted by the sun of hope and love that illuminated his desolate path. He started, elate with joy and bright anticipation of halcyon dayrto oome, and was heard of no more dntil— The week , passed, weeks passed, and he made no sign. The son rose and the sun set,the moon waxed and the moon waned, and he was yet missiug, and hope, long deferred, faded out of the heart of the weaTy, weary watcher,.and as it did, so faded the light out of her eyes. Hope after hopeless hope, then. uncertainty, then fear. And still no word. At last news came, terrible news. A party of diggers bound for the Cardrona,had missed the track, and at the foot of a huge rook abutting on the Kirtle-burn had oome on the remains of a murdered man, evidently murdered, for plain to be seen in the forehead of the bleaohed skull, were two clearly defined: bullet holes. His clothing, torn by the hawks andkeaB, was in rags, and there was no sign of money or other valuables on bis person. The coroner came up from :Cromwell, due enquiries were made, and a verdict " a man believed to be David Cameron found murdered by some person or-persons unknown" recorded, and the poor remains were interred in the ; wilderness where they had been found. The police were set at work to discover the murderers, bat with no avail. Perhaps they did not trouble themselves in the matter ovea much, and so the . thing died out. The bodies of diggers found dead in the bush were not so uncommon as to create more than a nine day's wonder. And so the thing died out, and Nell Bryce, the bright, sparkling,light-hearted Nell Bryce, was left with a shadow, the dark shadow of a widowed love, on her life. For a time she was as one stupefied. She went to and fro listlessly, so performed the household duties on her father's farm almost unconsciously, she lived, but, as it were, in a dream. Then came the awakening, the bitter awakening to the full extent of her bereavement, and with it the reaction. . It was as if hiB blood were crying to her from the ground. Her brow grew Btern, her supple mouth hard, her bright eye wild and haggard.' She had but one thought, and on it she brooded day and night. Bsvenge 1 Bevenge 1 on those who had slain her beloved. She
had read of murderers, impelled, perhaps, by some stern Nemesis, who could not but visit and revisit the scene of their crime, and a strange whim, a wild, mad idea if you will, took possession of her. She, where the police had failed, would traoe the matter out, and where so likely as in the neighborhood of the murder. One day she was missing from her father's house. She had taken the down coach for Danedin, and left a letter for her father informing him that she had gone away for a month or two, and praying him neither to seek nor enquire for her. From Danedin she took the coach by Tuapeka and the Clutha to the Clyde and Cromwell, and, so far, all trace of her w&s lost. And now came her self-imposed task. Two days after her arrival in Cromwell, the Qaeenstown coach set down at the hotel near the Boaring Meg in the Eawarau gorge, a dark-haired, dark-eyed girl or woman, who had answered a standing advertisement in the local papers (for servant girls were hard to get in those days) for a barmaid, and had It was no Binecare, this place of hers, ior the houBe, on the main road to and from the Wakatipu gold-fields, was [mainly kept going by the numerous diggers passing to and fro, and, many of them, " knocking down " as is, 1 or was, the woat of their tribe, their hardlywon wealth. • In her the landlord and landlady soon found they had a treasure, for Mary Joyce— so she had named herself—while willing and obliging to the rough customers, kniew how to hold her Own, and had a way with her that kept even the rowdiest diggers at a distance. She was quiet,reserved, but invariably civil and obliging. Yet there was something about this pale, Bilent girl that nobody oould make oat. She was ever watchful, ever observant,' ever seemed to be .expeotant of something that never oavie. And so the dayB melted into weeks. Of all. the visitors to the hotel there was one who seemed to puzzle her. He was a tall, cadaverous, ill-looking, meanly-dressed fellow, who used to hang about the place for two or three days at a stretch, then go away for a lime, and return again to hang about as before. He seemed, like her, to be .expecting some one who never came. On him she kept,'for some reason she could not explain' to herself, a constant and wary eye, watching his incoming and outgoing, those.he associated with, and listening,- when she could without bring observed, to his conversation. "But all to no purpose. She had learntj could learn,nothing. Absolutely nothing. Patience, .
patience, weary heart. The end-would oome, did oome,-and in this wise. . ; - : One alternoon, this man, whom .they .called Joe tbe hatter,, was standing at the door, lounging lazily against title jamb, smoking, - ;ehe watching . him aecsoal, when she saw' him saddenly start, flush up, and turn into the bar-room. Presently a stoutish, red-whiskered man entered from therpad, and throwing flown a pound note, liiiidly declared his intention of shouting.fdr all hands, some six-or seven men who were drinking at the bar. She quietly served the drinks, keeping her attention fixed on the two the while. She saw the tall man had paled, and 'that his hands and lips were trembling nervously. The new-oomer, who was somewhat the worse -for liquor, was very noisy,, and "was bolsterously caliingior more .drink, which the Jandlord, wholiad come in, was only too ready to -erve. .' - Then, the tall man, who . had: sidled up to. sobering him at once, for he too t< and staggered as if he had fjeen str " What d'ye meat," ^ he scouted' " and who are you, anyao „ t,... "Come outside andU'll^l yon. - I've something for your primte ^r onlyy? «aid ' Joe the hatter significantly,and witha sinister glance into the other's eyeS.. _ He could not meet the lobk.. He was evidently cowed. " Excuse me for a minute, mates," he said, with forced b'ilarity, " this man has a little business'with me. Fill 'em up again, Boss ; P11 be back* presently," and the two went oat. • , What meant this fluttering at the girl's heart ? Had the end-come ? Intuitively she felt it had. WaS ehe ready ? Excusing herself to her employer, she flew. to her -room, unlocked her box, ' and' took something from it, then stealtHily left the house the back way. Concealing herself ;as: well as she could, she crossed the yard toward the stable,-where she-conjectured the men had gotie. She was right. They were there, and conversing in alow tone. She stole noiselessly round to the' door, where, herself unseen, she could hear every word. '"It's no use yonr denying it," the rasping voice of Joe the Hattier was saying," I know yoti, Ned Peters, if that's your real name. I saw yoa do it.~' I saw you shoot down David Cameron as plain as I see you now. Two ehotB you fired, one from behind the- rock, and one when he was down, to make sure. I saw yon take his belt, end drag him "off the track behind that big boulder in the creek. I'd have tackled :you there irad fifth; but you were armed, and I wasn't, and I reckon you'dhave shot me too.. Do yon deny it? 1 * " I can't deny it. You're too strong lor me. I did kill David Cameron, and'xtow what—Hal". What was it,? A vision of a girl's white face, a sharp report, a whiff of pungent smoke, a cry of "Blood for blood/' and the murderer fell on his face, dead. A rush of feet, pale, frightened men looking in over the threshold at the prone body, and, standing of er it, motionless as a statue, a tall girl in black, her teeth set, her eyes gleaming with' a strange light, one hand clenched, and in the other a still smoking pistol. They spoke to her, but she did not answer. They touched her, but she did not move. Nell Bryce was mad." " No one who has looked into life with honeEteyeB can have failed to discover that it derives untold values from the love which welcomes its dawn, attends its growth, and advances step* by step and soothes and cheers its old age. v Human love-ib atself a pearl of great price. How it enlarges, enriches, aitd ennobles life 1 What beneficent ministries it conducts I What patient .; heroism iand severe self-suppression ifet • inspires I-Ina mother it is faith, and hope, and patience, and effort, and victory. In young hearts it is a transforming gladnefes, an awakening to the" responsibility land the raptore of life. In manhood and womanhood it is the balm of. care, a refuge in temptation; and a source of serenity. I have been more and more convinced, the more I think of it, that in ,general pride is at the bottom of all great^mistakes. All the other passions do occasional good; but whenever pride puts in its word, everything gqes wrong; and what it might really be desirable to do quietly and innocently, it is .morally dangerous to do proudly. A man may be a miser of his wealth; he' may tie up bis talent in a napkini he may hug himself in his reputation; but .lie is always generous in his love. Love cannot stay at home; a 'man cannot .keep it to himself. Like lightning, it is constantly travelling. A man must spend it, most give it away. ..The time for reasoning is before we approach near enough to the forbidded fruit to look and admire it.
ffllDHICIST. All Eonnda are hushed, save for Ine fretful • chirp Ql some young bird, too crowded in its nest; . tThe very air is etiil/the tired- leaves droop— And each wild thing is steeped in perfect rest. Afar, I see the towerirg village spire Sharply defined ag&inst the midnight sky,. While, startlingly, twelve eolemnstrokes, and slow, Proclaim the hour of dread and mystery. Am I, alas I the only waking thing—.'./, Goaded by thoughts too desperate for sleep ? Not even a ghost to, keep me company, :: In this stern vigil I am forced to keep! We are alone, my soul, with our despair, And yoa may tell me all the troths yoa will— . . No sophistries of laughing, bustling day ^ Can stand between as, now the world is still. Bat wait—^was I to blame? When circumstance Will hedge the best of men, till wild they grow, And, like ji stream dammed np, o'erepre&d .. the banks - ' And work destruction in their overflow 1 Oh! soul, why should you foolishly remain ? To suffer in this house of narrow girth'? Note the wide spaces in the arching sky;. And break the door that prisons you to earth 1 - ' Let us go forth, and leave remorse behind, With all the haunting, taunting shapes of Bin; The world's low jibes, the cliBging memories That drive as mad with their eternal din. What's that yoa say? We cannot thus escape; • "' * Bamoree has now become a part of yoa ? > Is it immortal, then ? Oh 3 soul, be kind, And tell me—tell me that this not trueiv "The air growB chill—with dawn, the rising wind :• . - Mutters and moans amid the startled : trees; • The spire points upward—bat the stara hate • paled, . - .'- .".. And hope is fled—I shiver in the breeze!
. EASMEIiJ WeWBEBBI, ^