|Newspaper Title||Leader (Melbourne, Vic. : 1862 - 1918)|
|Trove Title||Gathered Rue. An Australian Novel|
TALES AND SKETCHES.
GATHERED RUE. AN AUSTRALIAN NOVEL.
Bt Ellerton Oat. Author of "Drifting Under the Southern Cross," "Across the Gulp" Ac.
Change cannot Cjiange My Lovb nor Time Impair.
Katharine Craven, as she appeared in her new abode tbe morning after ber arrival, bore none of the conventional signs of widowhood. Tbo plain black dresi she wore was, as usual with ner.made as much like a riding habit as possible.
end fitted the auperb ourves of her figure, and let offber tall form to perfection. Her expression was as reckless aud bold, and tbe tones of hervoico as hard and unBympathetio, u ever. She was reckless and excitable when not coder tbe influence of opium. She considered she was keeping well within her solemn promise to Basil to leave off drinking spirits, though she . bad resorted to a worse and moro degrading intoxicant in taking opium. She had begun by doting herself with ohiorodyne (universally attainable in the bush) to ensure sleep. Having finitbod tho bottle, and oraving for more, she found a pint bottle of laudanum while looking for it amongst the drugs in the store. Experimenting recklessly, aho got to know how roneb ibe could take with Impunity, and Bho revelled In the state of happy unconscious tojpor I it threw her into. She sohemod to get a further supply, knowing there were restrictions to the sale of tho drug. She wrote in her dead husbands name to the wholesale chemists who had been in the lmbit of supplying drugs for sta tion nso and for Bale in the store. They, know ing no alteration in the: oiroumstancos, sent as Mtore an unlimited quantity. On receipt of it f / say the bottle bad broken in trinm and they should not bo tho losors; but would they please send the same quantity. She iDtu round herself in possession of enough for Jnat named an unlimited period, though she xne» sue would require constantly inoreaalng ti? Prouce the same effect, .Though she had acquired the habit only a few i her skin had already began to look yellow Xii iS" ?d her oye8 had a dul1 gze, which ould have betrayed her at onee to a dootor. JZu?1 her brother's lettor for tlio innr!? n""' ',nd ""M Tith a bitter smile the mon Ln co.nt,,!le'j. which to hor seemed tho to .W::ion,t1 of ila Yeserve. Shs vhft. nJ nto tiny fragments, hsr strong force! eouting tho task with vicious lines!,1 Kcn"»'ty "e like tho two Mr of " \lway whih ruQ parallel over all rtesthnIT17 '"mil" without meoting ; buff,. t y kllV m!1 Ly t'1<lre ,8> fficyhs, a Boinv on J ? shook of oxpeetatlon of in thnn u? i6y are no nearer meet- trulv rrat«f!wrc'i, If. Katharino had ever felt "b0 forgotten htll6t»itHneJ1,rolI,ldh,ev<iainty neatness of her w P'lisne .y opened, withont hull will wfrn varandahj the wooden formed of ten'stli7 PaPorotl. and tho ceiling, Baiataifiti i drawn calico, was freshly t»ro Wi !ov«k i-u \olid, coUinffi Thefurni- 'rf and buff 8 retonn#' and oool ImilU j ! 8 oovored tho floor! Mfte wldo buf?cd 'nto pale bluo ash i 'ems Bond n ia uk"y whitewashed hoarth, and j tte will, and shelf " aDd ornamnta adorned flung 'tho dhudf nl t new eum,nndings sho Worn. needful of torn paper about tho foor wftb aKrcaow of ? 0,f. nuia,> csmo to the grey hiir cahbage troo hat on hor Sh. hlh1 S1»a« otherwise) neat and Muntioan— 'notly Hibernian east of noplicitySdeinning. oxprea,,ion ol singled W)tej o Chinaman with voge- Jher.'i ououmhsrl J„ y 8on,e> mavournoon? fhree h»'panoe-i> 'nppenoo caoh, an' cabbages Wffihu" wSSdT11 0 u exolomation, which aiotityto the nhi«Te <"1 neither eompll- Jld none, and tJ,»'"nain I,0/ to tb® faithful rom her pocket she th" of ,0eeooins Jfe# whenoe thev rnii V n bem on tho table, Jhe elition she hSf all over tho room. On hsudlcd asy frLU,e fot rnney, and asy ,rom ono y,,,,, onj to
— = another, and it irked her to bo called upon to pay out trivial sums. She said— " Tako that, and don't boLlior mo until it is all gone." ."Sure, thin, Miss ICathcrine, aren't ye ashamed of yersilf? What do you want to bo afthcr flinging things about to mnko more work for?" Bridget spoke orosBly, but she sot to work diligently to piok up tho monoy and tho scraps of paper. "I am going out, Biddy, to see Mrs. Basil." " la the oolleen with Iter, the little divil?" Bridget used ths last word atfeotionately, not in execration. - "No, my brother's child is not with hor." Kathoriue spoko in an imperious tone, ns though to impross some faot deeply on her companion's mind. Bridget gave n little ohuokle and toss of the head. "tVoli, I muen't keep John Ohinamnn all day. You won't ho oftlier any of yor mad frolics now, will yo, darlin'? Don't yo bo going on tho rampago on tho rooks and' oomin' homo with yor neck broken I" Kathorine primed herself with a small dose of _her beloved physio to correct her growing irritability, taking sufiioicnt to soothe and com pose, but not euougli to stupefy. She caught up a largo shapeless rush hat, untrimmed and unbosoming, and a sunshade, and without the gCne ol gloves or other outdoor garment, she started out to seo Mora, As she passed through tho smell garden Bho picked some ecarlet geraniums, and, regardless of tiie in congruity with her recent widowhood, plaecd some of tho vivid blossoms in the bosom of her dress and some in her heavy blaok hair. Mora seemed quiet and subdued, but at in tervals she was agitated with a long quivering sob that told of suppressed emotion. MrB. AVil- mot folt hotter, or at loast made believe to be, for thongh Mora had only half confided in her she know there was a great trouble in her heart, and she would fain show her sympathy, though in silence. Mora sat in a darkened room. She had been writing to her father and husband in foverish haste and unrest. To tho former she had written to withdraw all sho had stated in her frantic little letter when she first left home. Sho told him that Hhe was going home, and that all would ho woll with her, and that ho was on no aooount to disturb himself or altor his plans. She had changed her mind about longing to have him by her to mediato between her hus band and herself. She felt now that were he eortain to succeed iu suoh an attempt she would not permit him to make it. Basil's letter hod given her a shook whioh eh. thought she would never get over. She felt that aho must settlo down into hopeless resignation to his decision. The orux was that she could not Bay she believed Basil had told her the truth, for shs did not believe it. She realised that ho would not be sstisfiod with her enger willingness to accept the faets as they were and ask no further. This is what her heart had been full of when she wont out the previous morning on the ehaneo of meeting him. No offor of condonation would suffice; his exigonoe rsqnired hor to say that be was right, and had always been right, and that it was impossible for him to oonceal or disguise a truth. She oould note oonoilo it toherconsoienoeto do this, oven if thoro were yet timo to perjure her self. He was gone, and she oould not write her submission. She would not humiliate her- solf on paper, though she might hare flung her self into hie arms and demanded pardon witli her lips on his. She wrote to him without any preface or signature — "I give tho promise you request. I will never willingly speak to tho person alluded to in your letter. The only interview I have hnd with him since we parted was the result of accident, and against my inclination. I bad every intention of obeying your commands in that re-peot. I loave hero to-morrow for town, and I shall go to Moondaburra soon. Mrs. Wil- mot will be with me." Her letters had been sent to tho post wben Katherino Craven walked in with her free, vigorous stride and upright swaying carriage. Mora received her with sympathetic kindness, but without allusion to her double bsreave- ment. Mrs. Wilmot, who was deeply shocked by the absence of the orape and muslin eonventionaiiy appropriate to the widow, felt impelled to utter a tenderly aympathetio speech about the tragedy whioh had widowed her. Katharine looked at her steadily with a mook- ing smile. "My dear soul, you need not waste sueli buckets of pity on' me. I assure yon I am not mourning very deeply for my poor, dear, weak, old ohild "Child I" exclaimed Mrs. IVIlmot hastily; " I had no idea "Child!" Katherino said, mimicking her tone ; "I mean my husband. I, had no ohild, and a precious good job, too,' with that poor orippled, offeminate Clifford to look after, with his womanish littlo voioe, going up to a scream if ono touohed him a bit roughly." Mrs. Wilmot, confused and horrified by Katharine's ooarsemannor, mnrmurod something unintelligible about their wish to . bo alone, and left the room. " So my lord Basil has gono away to the 'Never N.vor' oouutry in a huff," Katherlne said ; " he always was a high and mighty individual to deal with, oxpeoting all the world to bow down and pay him homage." "He told you himself? Have you seen him?" " No, but ho wrote to me in confidence. My word, you need not look alarmed, I can kespa aeoret." "Then he told you what— why— wo are not on good terms?" Mora faltered the words nervously, playing with a paper knife of soentsd myall. The thought struok hsr that Katharine might bo able and .willing to enlighten her on the point that waB troubling her happiness. " Yos, ho wrote in a moot sxpansive stylo— for him. As for Geoff Underwood, he is a bit of a villain; Basil is oorreot there— but I dsro say ho is no worse than loads of othor mon, if ono know all thoir seorots." "You ought to know him; ho was with you a long time atEksterinsks." "Yes, he loafsd about thero for four or five years. I hato him." " Why ? Ho seems to tako aomo pains to make himself agreoable to women." Moro spoke absently, with hor thoughts far away, and did not notioo tho startled look Katherino gavo her. " So ho doss, but I hate him all ths same." "I had entirely forgotten him until we met again, and forgetf ulness may shod a halo ovor tho worst oharaoters. What is ho acousod of ? Basil did not tell me. Mr. Uudsrwood wanted to givo mo tho history of thoir quarrel." "Why did you not hoar his sido, then? I might have supplied the other— but I don't know anything about him, and don't want to," sho oddod hnstily, looking at Mora with the same odd, inquiring gazv. "Areyou particularly koon about keeping up tho — friendship ?" "Not in tho least I shall nsvorooshim or spoak to him again If I oan possibly help It" "I don't seo why you (should not help it if you want to. He oan't foroe himsolf npon Jr"'Ho oan, ho has I That was not all, thoro
was something else— another matter Basil and I disagreed upon." "I know, but I oan't seo, Mora, why yon should find fault with things as thoy aro. You can't axpect a reserved man like Bnsil to confess to tho sins of his youth. My word ! hoops of women havo had to put up with worso things, and they swallow them all with a smile. A ohild is nothing, thero might bo n woman, too. I don't oo why you should not reoonoilo yourself to sucli a simple thing." "It is Basil's denial oftho faot that stands in the way. If ho would acknowledge ths truth I should he ablo to put up with every thing." "My dear ohild, any man would feel hound to deny his parentage under Buoh eiroum- stauoes. Besides, as he denies it, why oan't you boliovo him?1' " Oil, Katherino, when tlio ohild io a Tre- mayno as much as you are yourself? Impos sible. You wore there wnen tbe infant was left at Oondalla " "I wosn't. I waa in Sydney. I oamo back soon after." Mora brought her browB togotlier in per plexed remembranoe. Sho wished Olgs waa within roaeh ; alio might have thrown oomo light on the subject. "Who was the mother? Katherlne, you must have had some idea. Tell mc." "No fear ! I never troubled my hoad about tho brat or her mother. I advised mother to oond it away ; but you know what her tender ness was for anything connected with Basil. And now the ohild is sent away I oan't for the life of me see why you oan't make it up with Basil. He is a good husband in spite of the ouokoo's egg in your nost." Mora Bighed in despair of being able to explain to Katherino how she felt. She roalised the ooarse fibre of tho other's mind, and knew it would be hopeless to attempt to explain tho nioe distinctions that weighed with her. She ohanged the subject. "Do you think you oan live happily atyonr cottage hero? It looks comfortable, but it will be dull at timos." "Any one who has known the deadly dulness of lifo at Ekaterinska with Clifford Craven's silly schemes and woolwork could never bo dull wiiero there are housos and people as thore are here. I shall not be dul). I have kept one of my horses, Destiny, so I shall ho able to scamper about tho aountry. Destiny is a ohest- nut, with a devil of a temper, and has never been baaked by a soul but mo sinoe he was foaled, so there is always some excitement in riding him. Why do you ait in tho baok room 1 The front with ths view of ths sea is brighter and livelier." i " Beoausc I do not oare to see any visitors to-day, and if any one should some thore is no escape from them there, I am not feeling well, I overtired myself yesterday." Tho real reason for Mora's seolusion appeared soon afterwards. A manly step was heard on the verandah and the handbell that rested on a bracket by the Frenoh window ,was rung by an impatient hand which vehemently jangled it. The maid servant came into tbe room in whioh tbey sat. " Please in'm, it is Mr. Underwood. I told him that you were not well, but he says he will not keep yon n minute, he has something par ticular to tell you." | "I oannot see any one, 'Ellen, you roust tell him bo." "I'll go and tell him," Katherinesatd, gotting up hastily, and throwing down her ohair in her eagerness, "if you are determined not to see him." "I am quite determined. But why should you go? Ellon can give him the message." "I'll go, I don't mind," Kathorine replied, already at tlio door. " In faot, I should liko to oce him again." The front room was, as Katharine had re- marked ss she came through it, larger and more eboerfiil 'than the baok one that looked out on the detaeliod kitohon and little space of sandy garden with rows of rosellss, swoot potatoes and melons. It was prettily furnished, and tho sunlight through tho rose oolored silk blinds flooded tbe oool tones of the room with warm light. As Katherino antered the room Gooffrey Underwood stood in the open window looking ont over tho dazzling brightness of a calm and shimmering sea and stretoh of white sand. He had not entered the room, and still wore the white cap whioh suited him so well, but whioh would have been a poor proteotion from a summer sun. Ho turned around with bright expeotation in hia faoe. His exprossion quiokly cbangod ' to ono of indiffereneo, whiah Katherino noticed at onee. "You !"he exolaimed languidly ; "where did you spring from ?" " Yes, me ! And I did not spring from any-, where. I walked bore from my own abode, whioh I reached yesterday. 'Well, is that all you havo to soy to me ?" " I don't know that I have anything at all to ay tb you. I said all I had to say so long ago." ' "There have beon ohanges sines then, thoueh. Surely you know that Olifford is dead ?" Katherino sat on a low ohair near him, where he still stood in tho Frenoh window without entering or removing Ills cap. Sho looked up at him with a yearning expression in her lino eyes. Tho petals of the sasrlot geraniums fell in her lap. She crushed them absently, staining hsr fingers as if with blood. Underwood regarded her without evinoing the lightest interest. He laughed oynieilly. "Yes, poor devil. What a happy releaso for him ! Any ohange must have been an im provement." Katherine's glance never wavered nor altered; sho seemed not to have listened to his words. "You are not ahangod at ail. You look just tbe same ao when we parted— almost as young as when we first met, while I have grown old and groy. Look hers I" She pushed baok hor hair from hor temples and indicated a low grey streaks. Geoffrey gavo a casual glance to satisfy her. "A woman of your lively passions is likely to wear herself out rather rapidly. I manage to tako lifo pretty easily." "Yon always did. You always managed to get what you wanted, not oaring a tinker's ourso what or who stood in tho way. You wore always oautious and selfish, Geoff." " I say what do you want that you are paying me all these compliments?" " Want? Ia it likely that I should want any thing from you? Don't you know that I hate you?" . Thoro waa no ring of tho flerco passion sho montionod in her voioe ; it was soft and trombled slightly. "I am quite ready to behove it, and perioetly satisfied that you should, What then?' Under wood was getting impatient, and wondered whether Morawas coming. He did not core for or even admire Katherino Craven, but he folt in terested and baffled by More. "What thou?" she saidj vaguoly. "Well, you wore not always of the snmo mind about the feeling I had for you. Thero was a timo when yon made me believe you loved me " It was oasy enough 1" " Perhaps so ; at any rate, I did boliove it, and I loved you." " Thle is auoh an old story now. I oan t think why you want to disinter dead and forgotten
trifles— ono seems to smoll ths mildew and must of corruption." "Neither dead nor forgotten, Geoff., nor trifles to me." " Then they are marvellously belated, like owls in the sunlight. What rot- yon talk! What has como over you. Have you been imbibing?" ,i'; " What a brute you aro, Geoff." " Am I ? And what aro you, pray ?" , , " A loving and forgiving woman.!', ' Oh, oome, this is rather strong. You Baid you hated me just now." "I havo said it often; I havo sworn oaths that I longed to see you sufforing some uVvlui punishment. I havo wished you doad— at times. I havo said I would like to kill you with my own bands, by Bomu lingering torture, but it wasn't true. I never loved any man, any human being but you, and I love you still." "Bosh I You are leading up to some drama- tio denouement, you wild oat, what ia it? Havo you vitriol or a dagger in reaerve, or a re volver by any ohanoo ?" "You think I am noting now, when for the first time for many years I am speaking the truth, or letting 'my heart speak for me I I am free; I oan do what I like with my life. Suppose I tell you that I find I oannot live without you ; that whether you ahoose to marry ms or not the oraving of my soul is that 1 should never loave you again. Suppose I do, what will you say?" "Damn 1" "Short but expressive I" Katherine's short upper lip ourled with a. disdainful smile; her voiao changed a little when she spoko again. " What aro you hero for?" " Not to see you, you. bad bettor boliovo." " I oan well believe it, my gsntla Geoff. Well, lam here to tell you Hove you." ' "You are extraordinarily sentimental to-day, my Kate. Let me tall you it dosa.not suit your style, and I don't admire.you half as I should if you flew into ono of your devilish tantrumB. When is Mrs. Trsmayne coming ?" She is not coming at slL" "By Heavens, she shall. She shall not refnso me. I oan make her comply with my wishes." Underwood frowned with anger. Katherino flamod into passion as sunburnt grass burst into a blaze at the touok of a match. She jumped up from the ohair in whioh she bad been sitting in an attitude of abandon, and hor eyes darted fiery glanoes at him. " You are a our," she exolaimed through her olenolitd teeth, " I said I loved you — it was false, as falsa ns yourself. I despise you, I hate you. Mora Tremayns will never speak to you again, and her husband is hereabout somewhere with a horsewhip to proteot bor from you. He will thrash you within an inoh of your life. You may well turn pale." " There now, that's moro like your old self. I thought I should see you flare up sooner or later. Yonr oalm was unnatural. Bravo, my lamb like Kate ! I happen to know that Tre mayns is not bare. It is rather fine, I will say, your threatening me, as it would bo so remark ably easy for me to turn the tables on you. Your brother has obosen, for family reasons, to keep yourBeorets. I oan publish them when and where I please." " For goodness sako, hush ! The walls are thin." " Ah, you seo the force of my roesoning, then." " I see that you always get ths best of it." " I will treat with you, if you like. I'll hold my tongue now, as I have all along, and you must help me to see Mora. Do you agree ?" Kathorine gulped down a passionate din- olaimer. She was aoute enough to seo that he would never execute tho threat he had uttered except as a last resource, for reasons of his own. Perhaps sho did hato rathor than lovo him, but aba oould not endure that he should love anyone else ; it set her planning re- vengoi " What do you want to see her for ?" " I should have thought a woman like you would have guessed that I toko a partioular interoBt in most young and lovsly women, and especially in her," he said cynically. "I wish to. finish a conversation which was interrupted yesterday." " She is going homo to-morrow, You had bettor wait till then." . " On the contrary," he began angrily, " this will be my last chance. I shall not go to see her in town to be ignominionsly turned away by the servants at tbe dictation of Trs mayne. " I oan't do anything for you in that oase ; but ! will do nothing ogainit you. Hadn't you better go now?" "Certainly, if I am to get nothing but your sooiety." " Very well, Gooff., a time may como when yon and I will have a moro final scttloment than this, and then" She swore a strong oath in support of her determination to forget no word or insult of his. " You swoot creature !" Geoffrey said, " the dulneBS of Ekaterinska has a good deal to answer for. I oould nevor havo found you oharming but for that." With this parting shot Underwood turned and left her, and Katherino, taking a hasty leave of Mora, to avoid any explanation of her interview, went hurriodly away. (to bb continued.)