|Chapter Title||MORTGAGED TO THY WILL.|
|Newspaper Title||Leader (Melbourne, Vic. : 1862 - 1918)|
|Trove Title||Gathered Rue. An Australian Novel|
AN AUSTRALIAN NOVEL.
-- Br Kllerton Gat. Author op "Drifting Under the Southern Cross," "Across tub Gulf," &o.
Chapter XXIX.—" montoaoed to Thy Will."
Katharine Craven was buried the day follow ing her sudden death, Daniel Kiiby making every arrangement for the baity obsequies that a hot alimate makes compulsory.
When it was all over Mora went to her father with the whole etory of her quarrel with Basil and of the wrong ahe had done him— a wrong site had bcoome convinced of long before Bhe heard the truth. Now that it was all. too late she learnt how Basil had sacrificed himself for hie sister's honor, for now she might never- be able to throw herself at his feet humbly to sue for pardon. "My dear ohild," eaid her father, "this sad story has' been guessed at by a few people, I always felt sure it wps the right solution; but it would have been brutal to spread abroad suoh a suspicion when her brother so nobly accepted tho
burden of -wrongdoing. Poor1 Mrs. Tremayne would have -broken her heart if she had known the truth. Still, Mora, I think1 you' wore 'not wholly wrong in doubting." "Father,1 Mora said passionately,':" if you love me do not dofond my oonduct. I feel so debased when thoughts of self justification: ocour to tempt me that I cannot. 'bear- that you should- aid to exonerate me. No amount of condemnation you obuld pour upon me for ' my nnwifely disbelief in one who was the soul of honor would suffice 1 -The mere 1 am proolaimed guilty the better for my peace of mind.: But you must help- .me to find him, dead or alive.'? "What can we do mors than wo have done I:cen think of nothing Ise." "Listen, we— you and I— will start by the next boat — go to Rookhampton, and onin search of Basil." " My ohild ! What good oonld yon do i You could not stand the rough travelling— and the baby?" "I can stand anything and everything but staying quietly at home doing nothing, nothing ; waiting, waiting for news that never comes ! My baby pan stay here with Mrs. WH-- molt, but 2 most go to Yowarree, or over the wboje oonntry if necessary. I must make in quiries on the spot wbere.be was last seen alive. He was not alone; wo may fiud the young Hngan who was with him. No one ieeo inter ested as I in finding out the truth, and go I must." ' - - "You are hot strong enough, Mora, for roughing it on such a journey, driving in a coach for days, and then in some rougher conveyance- or on -horseback. -Yon can't do it ; it is madness. I will go myself ; I will do all that yon would try to." " I am quite strong, dearfather, foranything. and as you consent to go it is settled. Even if I find nothing, if I can get no news, I shall at least feel that I have not left my beloved to perish without an effort. Any amount of hard ship and roughing it will be better than this supine and hoart breaking folding of hands and doing nothing." Mr. Kirby's further 'remonstrances were futile, so a week before Christmas lie and his daughter were in tile steamer Eurcila on thoir way to Rockhnnipton. Mora's feverish impatienco would allow her to wait for nothing, though they told her at Uockbampton that she should stay there until seats wore secured in the coaoh end horses were engaged by telegraph nt Untliulla, where there might be difficulties to ovcroome — though' tho manager for Cobb's coaahes'promisod every help in bis powpr, and the Inspector of mounted police offered a special force with bis best black trackers whenever she had a due to work upon. Her father was obliged to acknowledge that Mora lied been rigiit to come herself, cb the sight of her unhappineaB worked wonders for tliern, ' Alter the steamer followed a slow and tedious railway journey as far as the line went into the interior of tho vast territory ; then, after a short night's rest, they started off on their four days' coach journey. It had been impossible to seouro outsido seats on the strong, heavy ooaeh with its leather springs and powerful teams of 4, 5, or 5 horses; though a gallant old: man, who had just eomo out of hospital, offered lo give up his to a isdy, but Mora gratefully declined it. Slio thought that the heat of tho sun outside, with tbo fatigue of holding an umbrella all t he timo, was hardly compensated by the additional air and freshness. Seated in the rocking, jolting coach, Mora bore her discomforts in silence; all she thought of was the visible progress alio was making. She never heeded the duet .flying so thickly that it was impossible to distinguish the features of the passengers sitting opposite to lior, or the weary monotony of tho sccnory around her. The stoppages in the evening were the most tedious parts of tho journey to Morn, consumed with eagerness for progress. Long before the coach was to start she was up and ready, manag ing to keep amongst tho slender amount of lug gage allowed to each passenger some cool fresh garments by heavily bribing the overworked maid-of-all-work to put. all the clothes slio had worn during the hideous dust arid imat of the day into a washtub as soon as she arrived; The uncouth rough men who formed tho re mainder of the passengers treated Mora with deepest consideration, and never n coarse word or an oatli from their ordinarily too ornate phraseology garnished the amiable talk with wbioli for the mostpart they strove to enliven tbe way. This is ' not an isolated instance of snob self restraint, for a woman whose cars have never been accustomed to coarse language may depend npon never encountering it in tho society of bullock drivers, miners, shepherds or others in Australia, unless from tipsy men, who, of coarse, may lose this universal respect for the presenee of women whom they rooognise as innocent and gentle. This is asaertod in spite of what has been advanced to the contrary by other writors. By the evening, after the tumultuoue excite- mont of Boxing Day, Untliulla had settled into ita usual state of quietude. Tiib gay young stoekmon had ridden back to thoir work, the miners had gone back to their prospeoting, and the buliook' drivers had .brawled several miles towards their destination, when tho ooaeh with its five horses drow up with its usual dash and " o-trot-for-the-avenu. " style in front of Timmins'K Hotel. It was the cool of an evening following a heavy thunderstorm, which had seemed very alarming to the travellers in tho coach. Even ing as it was, Mora would have been eager to go on her journey. Hnrdly had they alighted than Mr. Kirby had to. make inquiries about tho horses for their onward journey. Mrs. Timmins, dying with curiosity to know what their hurry was, aiuured him that it was all arranged, but the horses were still in Cobb's Eadddok, a mile off ; they shoutd oortaihly be in y daybreak. Mora's impatience to procsed would hardly permit of this delay, but her father was de termined to make her rest in spits of herself. The eampihg out would begin soon enough. Mora gave in with a good grace, and tier father went on to the telegraph office to inquire for telegrams— news of the baby's welfare bad been telegraphed every day. Mora sat on the verandah at the end furthest from the bar, waiting until they should come to toil her wbiah was her room. She was feeling more sad and desponding than ever ; the four days' coaoliing seemed to bring home to her tbo immonsity of the country mora than all the years sbo had lived in it had dono. She bad felt the hopelessness of the task before her, the impossibility of searching over any adequate portion of the vast territory for her husband's remains. Sbo had listened to yarns in the ooaeh of bodies that had lain for months only a few hundred yards from a woll worn traek without being discovered, and she proposed to go out and searoh in the trackless wilderness. She had heard of disappeiranoes of whioh' years had brought no clua; of dead from whom all semblance of humanity had been torn by dingoes, oarrion hawks and orows, and despair filled hor heart. Tho sun was low in the west and lent that Ootitious Iongtli and greenncseto the grass which points the ehosen moment for showing tho
country -to an inexperienced purolieser;" the crook hummod -along merrilv, full with'the thunderstorm ; -the air' was full of indescribable odors and freshness. The click'of the billiard balls fell strangely on the ear from a rough little shed by the hotel, where a small table had been acoommodated.' A horse was moving nwkwerly about in short hobbles, cropping the rough grass by tho oreck and q bell, on some rare and highly prised milch oow at a distance, rang with a hollow oraoked oinng. The horses from the eoaoli were being washed where saddle and ooltar had pressed lieforo being turned out: into the paddock after their long Binge. Through her tears Mora e&w three tall young men walking down the bend of the oreelc. Thoy oarriod towels and were evidently going to bathe in the now augmented water She looked at thorn enviously, wondering whethor she would bo able to get a tub in her room; for the hotel did not look as though a bathroom were its nscesBfiry concomitant. Mrs. Timmins came to ecort her to her room, and the queitiou of a tub was settled satis factorily. .When Mora had changed hor attire and felt refreshed nnd lesi desponding, if not more hope ful, she resumed her neat on the verandah to watch for her father with the news of the little baby she had left behind without cotnpunotion In her anxiety for her i.mbnnd'u fate. The three young iwn were coming bask from their bogie, " but she hardly looked at them, so anxious was she for her father's return. She saw him far down the rambling street t he wis hurrying towards her. The men were nearer, and again they engaged her attention, lkoy had no hats on, and all three were in simple attire of shirts and trousers. _ A few yards nearer they came to hers then Mora rose- from her seat and walked with trembling knees to the edge of the verandah, , where, mippoi ted by tho verandah post, she - looked out with all her soul in her gaze. "Ww this a delusion caused by her tears and her overwrought- brain, or did she see her bus band, tho middle one of ths three, leaulng slightly on one of his companion, while both 're garded him with a certain anxions affection? Sho-sank slowly to the ground, covering her eyes with hands. If this were n delusion she would close her eyes a moment and hug it. She folt that when she looked again uhe must be un- . deceived. It was tbo perfect, too beautiful to be true 1 Baiil was not so tall, nor so thin as that ' man, yet there was a something in which- he' resembled him. She would look again, though to do so must be to fall back upon despair,' ' She looked up. Her father was running as fast as his short legs and rather portly figure would permit-, and he was waving a telegram as if to prepare her for ' some news out of 'tho common. Sho was not looking at hint. - The three men had stopped a few paoes from- her, and seemed interested in Daniel ICirBy's movements. In another moment the one she had thought liico Basil had stepped towards hor father auil they were shaking each other by the hand; while Kiiby pointed frantically' to tho bundle on tho verandah, which was Mora limp and helpless, with unheeded tears stream- . ing down her cheeks as she trembled in every limb. When Dan Kirby reached the telegraph office he found 'news awaiting him that he was far from expecting. . All the , afternoou the operator, who seemed listless and uninterested, had been telegraphing on behalf of the Browns and Mftcmlllans to' inform all inquirers where Basil Tremayne was to be found. To the Queenslander they telegraphed a long account of his. illness and present state of tardy con- valesconcc, and how it had happened that they woro so long in identifying him. Telegrams wero repeated to Mora and' her father by -this nnd that anxious frlond from overy place they had touched at in1 fear of misning tbom. The operator kept Mr. Kiiby fuming impatiently some time while he had certain words repoated, but at last handed him over the batch of news. Coming baok to his daughter, as we have seen, ho met Basil, of whose presence at Untliulla lie had just been apprised. ' ' . Jack Brown, the one whoso "experience" in oaso3 of sunstroke had savod Basil's life, motioned significantly to the unconscious Mr, Kirby with gestures? that were meant to conyey a' oaubiou to avoid excitomont. hnt he was un heeded, and Basil releasing himself hastily from tho restraining hand of his judicious friend made a step forward to reach his wife. But hie hand went to his head and he fell into tlieir arms in a faint. x Mora, hardly realising her happiness,' was soon in attendance upon her unconscious husband, waiting eagerly for the first rotum of life, hope ful and confident that all muHt be well with tbem now that thoy were together. The doctor, wlio had just roturned from his distant pationt, was soon in attendance, and ex pressed himself sanguine of a speedy reoovery, though commanding imperatively that he should bo spared the loast further excitement, and must on no acoount be allowed the hazard of meeting with his wifo. So poor Mora was banished as soon as ft faint flickering of consciousness was seen in his face ; but she only retired to the verandah, where she might watch unseen and hear all that passed. Even the doctor was surprised at the rapid re oovery Basil Tremayne made. At the euu of a few hoars he asked for the first timo of the fate of Hagan, and then ho remembered aU that bad passed immediate!' before his swoon, and asked to see Mr. Kirby. By oaroful degrees the latter imparted to him the anxiety they had been in about him, and how Mora had deoldcd that she must herself come in search of him. Tho death of his sister camo next in his relation, and then Daniel Kirby made a mistake which was very nearly being fatal to his daughter's happiness. Basil's keen logical mind , had resumed ita sway, nnd with a few closely put questions he elicited tbe fact that Mora had only deofded to come in search of him after tho revelation made by Bridget Horau. Kirby, unwitting of tho evil impression he had oonveyed, suggested again and og&ln that Mora waB waiting impatiently for pormiflHlon to oomo to her husband's side, but Basil eaid- 11 Not at present; when I foel stronger." - Ah ho was supported in this determination by the dootor, and upheld In it by Jack Brown, there was nothing more to be said. . For two dnys Morn hardly left the window whioh opened from the verandah into the room where her hui band lay, by the doctor's orders keeping bio bed. Once she crept into the room when ho was asleep arid kissed liim gently ; his eyelids quivered, whioh led her to believe he bad not been unconscious of her caress, bnt he made no other sign, . Hugh Mncmillan, who had devoted himself to the care of Morn, bringing meals to her to her chosen spot of vantage, and insisting on taking her for short walks in the cbolqf.the eveuing, talked to Basil of hU wifo'a patient waiting and palpable' suffering, and askcd. him if ho did nob think be oould see her just for a -few minute. "It would be too much for me at present," was Basil's invarlable answor. On the third day after the one on whioh thoy had arrived at Upthulla the dootor pronounced that Tremayne might travel, and the sooner he got ohango of soenc arid a cooler, olimnlo the bettor. So a special Cobb's coaoh was ongnged for their return .to "Werriboo, where they would . , take the train. By this means they would bo a ,
Able to travel as fast or as slowly as thoy vlHhod, or as Basil felt capablo of. In tho pile pink light of a glowing dawn, with the morning etar shining with incomparable brillianoe before hor light should palo in the Jiresence of tho sun, Basil and Mora inet faoe to aoe for tho first time since thoy partod on the verandah at Rivoiview after their first serious quarrel. With Jack Brown and Hugh Mftomillan, her father and Mr. Timmina standing by, tho meet ing waa of necessity a some what convon tionalono. It might have been oxpcctcd, and would have occasioned no surprise, that a wife, recovering her husband after tho mystery of the great un fathomable continent had seomed to swallow him up,' should give way to emotion, and Mora would have found it impossible to restr&iti bora exoept for the fear of agitating BaaiL She would fain have grovelled on the ground ; beforo him and have asked bis pardon, but that was out of the quoHiou for tho present. He hold out his trefnbling arms to her and embraced her with lips quivering with emotion, while she murmured passionate love for a moment into his ; ear ; then he reloassd her. The ooaoh was ready and Dr. Devine, who hnd . undertaken to see his patient safely to .Rook- hampton, came up to join them with a valtso remarkable for its oxtreine tenuity, and uot so much for what it contained as for what it did not ! contain in its slender space ; a pot of pomatum, for instance, might have made room for an extra pair of. soeks, and some florid colored ties for a . few pooket handkerohiofw. ' ' Tho young owners of Dulla took leave of . Tcemayne with as muoh kindness and regret as if he had been conferring favors on them in stead of having been a care and anxiety, nnd , of Mora and Dan ICirby with the same genuine rogret, making light of all their thanks and gratitude. 'tVhethor Basil rode innido or out Dr. Dovine never left him. The worthy doctor wasdefor- : mined "to earn the prospective big fee, and persuaded himself that all this caro and watoh- fulness were neceasary. It was very irksome to .. Mora, who longed to have her husband all to herself, to pillow bis head on hor breast and . whisper all her litAny of faith and love. She could not resist an uneasy feeling that , Basil evaded being alone with her. She would not' ooltnowledgu it to herself, but sho felt weighed down by his coldness and solf-reitralnt end by hie prompt acceptance of Dr. Devine's presence between thorn. Sho' told herself it would be different when nhehadhim at home all to herself. The road y; alio had traversed with suoh different emotions , a weekbofore now wearied her more than over . with its slow iteration of precisely similar features, the clearly seen mountains which nevor seemed to come nearer, the same dip f . down the bank of a creek, aoross and up the other aide, tho snmo serried rnuks of guin trees or plains of ealthush ; would it never all bs travelled through ? .It seemed almost, except for the constant , . Jotting; cb though thoy were stationary and a painted dusty canvas was being slowly unrolled oefoto them in which, like a wall paper, the V, earns pattorn was repeated at longer or shorter intervals. Dr. Davine, gladdened by a large cheque, took ' leave of them at Rookhampton, and Mora stepped on board the steamer in a more hopeful state of mind. When she had made her huwband comfortable under the awning to leeward with cuRblons and ruga she sat on a low seat beside him, waiting for tho slightest ' hint of a want from him, and longing for tbe ' dinner hour or for the sea sickness which should . take the passengers all down to tho saloon, and ' leave her alone with her husband, that she might try to bieak down tho impalpablo barrier that separated them. (TO BE C0NT7NUKD.)