|Chapter Title||UNKINDNESS MAY DEFEAT MY LIFE.|
|Newspaper Title||Leader (Melbourne, Vic. : 1862 - 1918)|
|Trove Title||Gathered Rue. An Australian Novel|
AN AUSTRALIAN NOVEL.
By Ellerton Gay. Author op "Drifting Under the Southern Orosb," "Across the Gulp, "4m. '
Chatter XIX. — " Unkindness may Defeat my Life.
Id nil my .xperionea of gentle Mrs. Wilmott never had she to dcoide somom.ntoas&question as that pat to her by Mora Tremayne, who now olnog around her with entreaties and kiseos and imploring looks.
" But the cottago at Narong will bo damp, my dear," sho said, weakly yielding. " It will not, really it will not, the oare- taker is most partioular, and sho has loads and loads of wood to hum. Wo can go down to morrow, and I am certain we shall find every thing in readiness." " But my dear—" "Ob, there are not any more buts," Mora said despairingly ; " after all that I have .met and oonquered !" "I was going to say. dear, if I wars to go and see your husband—' "No, no, whan father comes baok he will see him. It would not be the slightest use for you to go ; you know he would frighten you if he were to frown." ' " Still, dear, I think you ought to take his word for a thing." Mora had only told her old companion and chaperon that she ' bad had a seriouB difference of opinion with her husband, about a gentleman who bad been visiting tbo bouse during hie abaenee, and whom he ordered her to cut. " If he says he is not a desirable acquaint anoe for you, surely you ought to be guided by him." " Would you be led blindfold by any one? I am afraid you are the wrong person to ask that question of ! You are one of those easily led womon who. never have doubts, and who would never even seek to look under the bandage when you were being led blindfold, no matter who was leading you. But I am not like that. Do you think I oare ever to see Mr. Underwood again? Nat a row of plnsl It is not that I like him a little bit, it is only the principla of tho thing. Father will settle it when he comes back." "But, dear, I thought— I always understood —that your father had gone away for a long time — two or threo years, and you speak sb if he were coming in a few days." , "So ho will oome soon. Not in a fsw days in ti few weeks. I shall writo by the mail that leaves to-morrow, and tell him how much I want him, and he will turn baok at once." Mora did not stop to explain that sho did not know where a letter would find her father, as his course was to be most erratic. He might be at Singapore or Bombay, Ismnilia or Malta.' He might have gone straight to England or have de layed or deviated at any point of Ills route. There would bo time enough to combat other difficulties when she had settled the ihitial one
of getting away to ber cottage at Narong, with good Mrs. Wilmott as a safe guard. She know - by the great yearning the felt for reconciliation that she must Lave given way as soon as aho saw Baail again, and have conceded anything ho chose to demand. "While ber anger waa hot aho wanted to put it out. of her own power to yield to him tbo first moment aho saw him. She know that she loved him so muoh that she would have humbled homll to any extent — to have him say that the quarrel should bo as though it had never been, and that bo loved her as ds&rly as over. She knew tbat she was propping her anger with falio supports, yot she went on rearing them She thoaghtUnderwood's reticence in speaking of the lack of cordiality between Basil and himself was a decided point in his favor. Ho bad said so little that aho could cot but dwell upon the words and be struck afresh with their pregnant meaning. "I cannot tell his wife the quarrel I havo against him ; it would be taking an unfair advantage of know ledge in my possession. " That was what he said He knew tko wrong Basil bad done to Margaret's mother. She even wondered whether Basil feared he would tell her if they met again, bat that was to make Underwood the wronged one. She was not dcxirou of doing that ; she was quite ready to believe Basil was right, but he should have told ber all plainly. Those were things that might not havo been told to a girl; but she was no sohool girl. Though ber cheeks might have blushed to hear of suoh things, yot there wab no reason why sbo should not have a vogue aoquaiutsnce with the wickedness of the world. After all, the affair about Underwood was a trifle compared with the presence of Margot, She oould not get over the difficulty created by the obild's strong resemblance to Basil. Only that morning she heard one of the maids any, "Oh, you do look like Mr. Tremayne with your hair up, Miss Margaret." And Geoffrey Underwood bad remarked it too. Ho said, "That is the waif that was deposited at Oondalla one stormy night, then? "What an odd coincidence that she should take - after tko Tremoynea so strongly. It is a long time -since I. have seen any of them, but surely Mrs. Tremayne's eyebrows had fust that par ticular ourve at the ends, and the slightly formed arck of the nostril — wbioh was so ex pressive and remarkable in her and in Basil, . too, is just the same as in the child. She will be handsome, I fancy, when she. fills out." Then he added in a still lower tone, " I rather imagine sbo has not much love foryoubytlio stormy glances she is casting in this direc tion." If it were not for the rsiomblance, she would have been quite certain that Basil spoke the truth; be was. remarkably exact and truthful in the smallest things, she knew that well . enough. She remembered many oitcumstances in whioh this characteristic had been roost marked. On tko other hand, she remembered how Mrs. Tremayno had certainly seemed to believe that Margot was her son's ohild. It was all coming back to her so clearly. With one . last acknowledgement of the difficult position Basil would bo placed in if he told the truth and confessed to tho parentage of the child, she gave up trying to believe his assertion. She wondored whether, after all these years, there would be any possibility of finding the mother if so, she would set herself to the task. . Who . was the poor creature who had been more for tunate than Basil's wife? That was doubtless a pain that rankled; the unacknowledged mis tress had a child, while the acknowledged wife bad none. Mrs. Wilmott all this time, while Mora's thoughts had been travelling in a pained unend- log cirole, bad been patting and coaxing her to . go baok to her home. For an answer Mora rang the handbell whioh stood on a little bracket near - her. 41 Tell my man to drive home and say I am going to stay the night, as Mrs. "Wilmott is unwell." "Law, m'm, you don't say so," said the sympathetic maid,, rushing to her mistress's aide. ; 44 It is all. right;" Mora said commandtogly "Give the message first, and come baok after wards to hoar what has to be done." ' Mrs.; Wilmott was. Mr, Kirby's tenant in a eonvenieht cotUge jiiBt out'of town. She paid a nominal rental, on the understanding that if be -should desire to' sell the" cottage she would turn out at once," Mora know very woll he had not the slightest intention of offering : it for ' saleVa's long as it suited Mrn Wilmott to occupy it. She had no. hesitation m ordering a room to bo got ready for hor.own.ocoup&tion; and when she . had 'finally' flucabededUn silenoing Mrs.". Wilmott's soruples and entreaties,' she shut herself up to silent' . misery; ; ' '" ; v' : H& plan/ as far as she could be said to. have . formed ,ori>/ was to' lake Mrs." Wilmott tfo her" furnished cottage at Narong; and there to live in seclusion with her. She would allow it to be understood amongst her friends that the good lady was in delicate health and oould not be left alone. She saw no reason why she should not remain there until her fathpr's return. .To Basil she would write, giving him to under stand that either she or Margot must leave Biverview, tbat in' future she would firmly decline to live under tbo same roof with her. He had said without hesitation that it should not bo the innooent and unoffending Margot, so she had taken bitn at his word. If he wifched her io return to her home sbo would oome back as soon as he complied with her torms. Sho hesitated long before sho could deride if - alio should introduce Underwood's name or not. In tho end she made no mention of fcjm, and ignored eutirely that portion of their disagreement. She was aware that she was hifting:the ground of their quarrel, but she cared not. ' - She wroto her letter that night before ehe went through the pretenoo of seeking slumber, nod sent it early the next morning. She felt almost certain that be would come to her as soon as .he reoeived it, , and, with a certain maBterful way he had, would overcome a!) her resolutions, and without making the ghost of a promise, carry her off triumphantly. Then a little 'later lie would do exaotly what be had refused to pledge himself to do, and all would be well. Ah, how she would rejoice when this, their first, quarrel had been swept away 1 She even prepared the speech in wbloh she would yield, as if it had. been half a joke on , her side, but her prohpHtications were at fault. 'Basil kept the messenger on'hour, and setit him baok with' the following note : — 44 My dear Mora, —You' are noting in a very childish and ill-con sidered manlier. Wlieh you come to' see this yourself— as' I believe you soon will— I shall be more than glad to welcome you back to your home,- I make one condition. Although you , have chosen to alter the ground of our differ ence of opinion, I neither forget nor overlook it If you disregard my wishes and continue your acquaintance with' the person whose name bas.been mentioned betwo'en us I shall riot con sider myself bound by this pledge to welcome . you'back, whenever you choose to cbmvrhave undertaken a duty .towards Margot that T can not abrogate for a mere oapriob, Wheii'yo'u deride to return I will undertako that she shall be no annoyance to vou.' Under fill circum stance f am, your ' loving husband, Basic Tbbvavmk." , . Mora read this, letter .wHh 'fiuihedr.,aQgry
cheeks. She eat down end dashed off a note to her father as if she were summoning him from the next street :— " Darling Father — I am not happy with my husband. Come baok to me at once. I cannot livo with him any longor. "Without you my life is utterly miserable. I will join you if you prefer it. "With all tho lovo of my heart, I re main your unhappy daughter, Mora." It seomed a tamo conciuHion to havo to address this frAntio note to tho cold impersonal care of her father's London bankers, and re main entirely ignorant as to when or where it would reach him. With the same haste she mado ready to whisk MrB. Wilmott off to Narong. She ordered a c&rrisgo from tho livery stabUs and a cart to follow with luggage, for which she sent instruc tions to her maid. She gave herself no time to think, and listened to Airs. Wilmott's plaintive remonstrances with no attention. She felt she would have ample time for both theso recreations in the months that were to follow. With feverish eagerness she moved about the cottage, when they roAchcd it, lifting and oarrying unnecessary things, working with might nnd main to euBuro Mrs. Wilmott's oomfort, surrounding her with such care and affection that the good lady found bsr own special mission in life taken from her and employed in her own behalf. It seemed to Mora that Fate was being bountiful on her behalf when the next morning Mrs. Wilmott confessed to feeling very unwell, and before many days was seriously ill. It appeared as though it was especially arrsngod tbatsoandal should be entirely silenced by suoh a concatenation of events. Mrs. Wilmott never told Mora that all her life sea air had beon inimical to herandaho bad novor been able to otulure it ; nor did she tell the doctor that she knew her health would rotura liko a cliarm as soon as she left the sea side. What Mora did not know was tho course Basil pursued to attain tho samo end of silenoing scandal. How he rode each morning with the avowed intention of seeing his wifo, and then simply loitered about, out of sigbt of any one, during the hour that tho folks at tho hotel, wbeie ho put up his horse, supposed ho was spending with his wife. He contented himself with getting news of her each day from the doctor, who on his side supposed he was only supplementing tho infor- motion of the patient which he hsd previously obtained from his wife or Mrs. Wilmott her self. Mora was shaken from her position of cool security ooe morning by receiving a note from Geoffrey Underwood. It was respectfully worded, but there was a tone of commideration in it th&t annoyed her excessively; but the worst of it was that he had heard from Mar got,- whom be had accidentally encountered, that Mora had quarrelled with her husband on his account. Not only was she at his mercy as far as the spreading of suoh & report went; but carefully worded as it was, shesawthathecoDoludcd that she must like him vory much indeed to leave the home where lie was denied admission. She grew pale with sh&mo and indignation as she acknowledged tbat tho supposition was a colorable one. How to disabuse him of suoh a conclusion she did not know. A letter— no matter how cold or carefully worded might be used agAinst her — she would not write to him, but Airs. Wilmott should. The obedient lady, with a shaky hand, copied from Mota's writing the following : — 41 Mrs. Wilmott is authorised to state to Air. Underwood that he is entirely misinformed of the reason for Mrs. Tremayne's being at Narong.' The person from whom Air. Underwood obtained his information . did not know, and therefore oould not impart, the reason." There oamo no answer to this communication, and'AIora hoped he had taken the manifest.hint that his reason being th6 wrong- one his deduc tion must of course be wrong. But she reckoned without knowing the. persistence of en'idle man who has exhausted most of the amusements at his disposal. Underwood took a room at the Narong Hotel, and. after being thrice repulied at' Alora's door, placed himself at a point from whence he could watch for her coming out to waylay her. She had been really out when he 'first oalled, and, dreading that be would repeat his attempt to see her, she endeavored - to instruot the un sophisticated serving maid into the mysteries of the 44 not at home " formula. Finding :her utterly unable to grasp the idea Mora devised a simple plan to avoid him. The cottage next to hers wan untenanted. In its garden was a little summer house covered with a lush' growth of creepers. The low fence dividing- the two bad lOBt.two or three pailings, leaving plenty of room for Mora to get through into the. safe re? treat of the arbor, where the too eonsoientious' maid would never think of looking for her before voraciously replying 44 net at homo." To avail herself of this subterfuge Mora had to be always on the alert. For with doors and windows wide open and the verandah ber favorite place to sit (when she was not with Mrs. Wil mott), she had nothing but a small arid garden to soreen her from a chance observer. Without constant oiroumspeotion she would certainly have been seen by Underwood, so that the denial of an interview would have seemed as though she were aoting on her husband's orders or were afraid of him. Basil's letter, whioh sbo chose to consider peremptory and unkind, was the only communi cation whioh she received from him. She knew nothing of his daily pilgrimage to Narong, nor of his interviews with the dootor. Sho waited and waited from day to day for signs of forgive ness, or even uf further irritation. She wearied for a sight of hiro, yet her foolish pride would not allow hsr to acknowledge that aho was wrong in demanding the exile of Margot as the price of her return. She guessed by Underwood's persistence in calling that he would watoh her movements to interocpt her, so she went out no more except for a brisk walk every "morning at 7. This waa for. hor, a most heroic measure, as she hated, early rising as she bated raw meat. From a safe position behind the Venetian blinds ' of Airs. Wilmott's room Mora had watohed Underwood slowly paoing by her cottage with eyes keenly scrutinising every part of it ; it gave her an unsafe foeling, and made her long tor Basil's strong arm to lean on ; yet she would not aoknowlodge to herself that her refusal to see him was due to a respect for Basil's wishes. . One day Honor Alooro managed to borrow an old buggy and a rough, unshod horse, and drove down to sse her friend, whose devotion and un selfishness In staying at suoh a dull time at the seaside with her old chaperon had filled her with a generous admiration that made Mora's hpnest nature flinoli. From bsr Alora heard of Basil's daily visits to Narong. With a great gulp of repentance Alora decided that, she .Would watch for her husband, and when, she.did meet him, as if by accidenti, she. made up her mind. to throw her self, at. bis feet— figuratively— and say she had been in the wrong. She thought it would be so mitoh easier than going home, and perhaps haviug all her good resolutions spoiled by first encountering Margot. She was not .without a sense, too, of the dramatic effoot of tho accidental interview pro vided, greatly exceeding that to bo .obtained by a . tame . return . to her on surroundings, with.
Baail sauntering oarolesBly into the room in which she awaited him, having been already in formed by tho oervants that sho was there (TO BE CONTINUED.)