Chapter 19782930

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Chapter NumberLIII
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article19782930
Full Date1882-03-04
Page Number265
Corrections0
Word Count7432
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Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 - 1939)
Trove TitleGathered In
article text

The Storyteller.

Gathered In.*

CHAPTER LIII.

KENNETH'S DECISION.

BY CATHERINE HELEN SPENCE. Author of "Clara Morison," "Mr. Hogarth's Will," "Hugh Lindsay's Guest," &c.

"I DON'T care about the estate; I could buy up the estate twice over," said George Oswald; "but, Kenneth, let us have you owned." Kenneth had followed this narrative with the

most conflicting feelings. Taken in conjunction with Edith Gray's words and looks on that day when she first discovered the real state of his affections, the temptation to bring forward Hugh Carmichael's testimony was very strong. "Let me think, let me consider, let me sleep upon it," said he; " don't press me too hard. I thought to have a quiet night instead of this new agitation—a harder trial than that before the Castlehurat jury this day." "Well, it is hard on you after all, Kenneth,," said his undo, with real feeling. " You seem never to have any rest for the sole of your foot. I suppose you think this is as bad as my will ,that you took so hard." ! Carmichael could not help smiling at the idea of a will of that kind being a burden to any •man. It was, indeed, difficult for Mr. Oswald but it was absolutely impossible for Hugh .Carmichael to enter into Kenneth's feelings, cither about money or about birth. All the deep love which he had felt for his mother, all the compassion and tenderness he had felt for his father, flowed in upon him; and to stigmatise his father as a bigamist, and his children as illegitimate, in order to better his own position, even with Edith Gray, appeared to him utterly base and selfish. How far had hia mother been wronged ? How far could such a movement right her? He felt sure that there had been no religious ceremony ; at best, it was an irregular marriage, censurable by tho Church, not satisfactory to his mother's conscience, even if, by such evidence as Car michael could bring forward, it was binding in law. And as she herself had steadfastly refused to hurt his father's position by claiming any rights through Carmichael's testimony, even when she was bearing reproach, and goaded by her mother's strong feeungs on the subject— which Kenneth now fully comprehended— surely he, Kenneth, would but carry out his mother's wishes by refraining also. He would ask to be acknowledged ; he would add his own entreaties to those of Sybil that he might have the right to go to his father's house, and to be brotherly to his father's children, to have the privilege of performing the duties of a son openly and naturally; Dut he would make no claim that might cause his father a heart-ache. " I do not need the night to think of it," he said aloud, after rapidly reviewing his position in all its bearings. " I take my Btand where my mother took hers. I shall do nothing that will grieve or injure my father." " But you must, or I'll do it for you," said Mr. Oswald. " I'll bring forward your claim, and if money will do it you shall have justice. If you do not care about your mother, I care about my sister and the honour of the Oswalds. I may not have such superfine feelings as you havo, but, by the Lord, when I have a good case in hand I cannot drop it like a hot potato." " I feel convinced that there was a written promise of marriage exchanged between them, and that Norman had promised to carry it out when his grandfather either died or consented. Subsequent marriage always legitimises the children in Scotland, and this written promise was as good for your mother as the marriage lines themselves, if she had had the common sense to act on it," said Hugh Carmichael. "But whatever documents she had or had not," said Kenneth, " her dying request to me was that I should give them to Mr. M'Diarmid, who would come for them, and this I did on the day after her death. I never saw him before to my knowledge." "And that was what your grandmother meant by the paper having been made away with. That was an awful blunder, Kenneth," said George Oswald. "No, they were hers. I had only to follow out her commands. It was the last action of love she could do for him, and I am glad that I carried it out for her. I loved my father from that day, though I knew not that he was my father. I havo loved him since, and I love him now." " Then he told you, I suppose." "No, not till years after, when I was at college. I was eighteen at the time. I caught him looking at me, and I could not mistake the expression of his eyes. He took me with him to a quiet place, and then he told me. He said my mother had forgiven him, and asked me to do the same, and spoke so sadly, so kindly. You are mistaken if you think he has not suffered. And here is this letter I had from him before I was arrested, that I did not want scon at the inquest." " Don't you look at it," said Kenneth, fiercely, to Carmichael, " but do you read it, uncle —the latter pait of it—and judge if I can hurt a hair of his head." Mr. Oswald put on his spectacles, hold the letter to the light, and read the portion relating to Kenneth himself. Ho was touched, the spectacles got dim; he hod to wipe them, and his eyes too, once or twice before he handed The letter back to his nephew. "Well, there is ono circumstance that is greatly changed, and that is that all the disgrace of your birth has come out without his interfering. Only it appears to me that he would not be so very penitent if he had not wronged Isabel more than he likes to let on; and it be shields himself under your love that is no reason I should spare him. Your mother would make no second marriage because she thought herself your father's wife. No, Ken neth, you must not thwart mc in this; this is what would rejoice the old hearts of your grandfather and grandmother, and make up to me for the sorest bit of my heart about my poor Jim, who was really put out of the way for a M'Diarmicl's sake, and whose murderer you helped away with my money because of Sybil M'Diarmid's entreaties and tears. I've suffered too milch through them altogether to care to spare them now." " Well, uncle, you arc consistent all through," said Kenneth bitterly. " You wanted to leave me money—a very desirable thing in itself—on such conditions that it was a positive affliction: and now you want me to claim an honoured name through what I feel to be dishonourable means. If I. cannot hinder you from prose-

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cuting this claim I really wish the jury to-day had found me guilty, and that they had sen tenced me to death. I cannot stand this any longer," and the young man went to his own room, locked tho door, and flung himself on the bed in a whirl of anger, love, and wounded feelings. His uncle and Mr. Carmichael sat looking at each other. "The young one has got a pretty stiff back, I see—like his lather for that, "said Carmichael, who, though baffled, enjoyed the fight. " My back can be as stiff as his," said George , Oswald. " I suppose he won't come again to-night," said Carmichael, filling himself another glass of brandy hot. "Let us make a night of it, Mr. Oswald." But George Oswald did not respond; he sat with knit brows for a few minutes, and then went to his nephew's room and knocked at the door. " Leave me alone," said Kenneth. "Am I to have no rest ?" " Let me in, Ken; let me in. I cannot part from you this night in dispeace, of all nights in the year." Kenneth rose and opened the door. " What for could not I have waited till you had had your sleep and your rest before I brought this perplexity on you? but I thought that you would have twice the chance with Miss Edith Gray if you were Kenneth M'Diarmid than if you had only your poor mother's name. Other wise I'd been content that it should be Oswald of Tingalpa. It's true enough that I could not have starred, or, at least, would have been very hard to stir, if poor Jim had held his tongue ; but would Edith Gray marry Oswald of Tin galpa r lf If she marries me at all it must be as I am. She knows about it—that is, that I am Sybil's brother and, God bless her! all her sympathies are for my mother." " That's because she thinks her wronged, and would fain see her righted; but I'll no say another word this night/ He took his nephew's two hands, and the tears stood in his eyes, rough old fellow as he was. " You're all I have now, Kenneth." " You wish me welL I know, but it is hard for you to see what I think well for myself. I have difficulties with Miss Gray, I know, but I shall never get over them by anything like what you suggest." . " And I suppose I may not tell Mrs. Oswald." "You must tell nobody. Even Mr. Car micnael would advise perfect silence at this stage of the proceedings. Confound him," said Kenneth, " I'd give something to punch his head. I very nearly did it, only you struck in." " It does me good to see you angry, but we must not punch his head till we have got all we can out of it, and it's a large one, though may be not just so well balanced altogether as it might be; and now go to your bed and sleep, for it has been a troubled day to you." Chapter LIV. ONE WAY OF LOVE. Edith Gray had thought it strange that her .brother Charlie did not show any wish to go with the family to Castlehurst to attend the trial which, to herself, was so deeply interesting; while her brother, on the other hand, was sur prised that she should care to go to Castlehurst at all on that day. If Helen had expressed a wish to go, of course her young husband would have gone with her and heard Edward Talbot plead, but it was very far from her ideas, and she enjoyed the freedom of Wilta after the constraint and publicity of having spent the first week of her married life on board a pas senger steamer. Although Charlie thought Edith herself might have stayed at home with them on the first day after their arrival, still Mrs. Ellerton might need Edith's support and countenance, and he therefore excused her. The young pair had a very happy day together, strolling in the garden, seeing the animals, and going through the house. Everything in and about the old beloved home was dear to Charlie, and. through him, dear to his bride. Charles Gray had once paid his sister the highest compliment she considered she had ever received—that his only regret in haying her for a sister was that it would be impossible for him to make her his wife. She had thought that in choosing a partner he would look out both for personal and mental resemblance to herself; but although both young girls were dark, there the resemblance ended. Helen was both short and exceedingly slight in figure, her face pleas ing and gentle, her manner extremely quiet, and altogether eminently a restful little woman. Charlie said she was the most receptive and reasonable woman in the world, and she had the most worshipful appreciation of her hus band's intellectual and universal superiority to all men in the world. She was prepared to love and admire her sister-in-law, of whom she had heard so much, whose letters were so brilliant and affectionate; and she was somewhat surprised and dazzled by her beauty and her apparent force of char acter when they met, Charlie saw his sister had grown handsomer in some way; there was a new light in her eyes, a strange power in her face, and in those quick movements and alter nations, which he never remembered to have been ao effective before. Both bridegroom and bride had been greatly fussed over at home by Helen's friends; their own love story was to themselves deeply interesting, and Charlie had looked forward to satisfying his sister's reason able curiosity, and expected little but eager questioning and reply, in which Helen and himself would play the foremost part. Of course the trial was rather engrossing; but when the party returned from Castlehurst 'with the joyful news of young Oswald's honourable acquittal, and that Mrs. Ellerton'n husband, though strongly suspected, was out of reach, they expected the family to settle down to something like its normal state. Talbot was triumphant, brilliant, and most attentive to Edith; the newly-married pair saw the current of the talk, and surmised that there was this additional element of interest in the trial. The parti was unexceptionable, and Helen thought lie must be quite clever enough even for Charles's wonderful sister. But Edith turned from him often to the homely bush missionary, and felt more comfort in his face and his talk than in anything else. With what different feelings did she look on all the past, now that the truth was revealed! And she knew that Rhe had been, and was now, the object of Kenneth Oswald's love. Worship in the men's dining-room that night was a solemn thanksgiving, in which Edith joined from her heart, but she did not know that, at the very moment when they gave thanks for his escape from the legal trial before judge and jury, Kenneth Oswald was under going a greater and harder trial, which her own words and lookH had made harder still. Would it have been any comfort to him, when he lay

wakeful till early morning, thinking of how im possible it could be for him to act on his uncle's suggestion, if he had known that Edith never closed her eyes as she turned over in her mind how Norman M'Diarmid was to bo worked upon to do tardy justice to the woman he had so wronged, and to the son whom sho loved—yea, whom she loved? Her heart had not been interested so deeply in all his thoughts and doings so long without a friendship of tho closest and tendercst description haying been aroused—that sort of fricnclship which can be kindled at once into love at a sudden rovelation of love from the other party. And this revela tion had been made at the very moment when her interest in him had reached its culminating point. , There are some women- who miss love altogether, and who throw into their friend ships somewhat of the passionate devotion that has not been called out in the normal way—as we see maiden aunts devote their maternal cares to nieces and nephews. Even if Edith's idea had been correct, and Kenneth's heart was altogether for Mrs. Ellerton, still she never could have been quite the same after this long engrossing pre occupation with Kenneth's affairs and feelings: but now there was no question in her own mind as to what she felt. This was love—what she had dreamed of as possible, but whom no man whom she had ever seen had ever risked enough to arouse —this tumultuous, this exquisitely, almost pain fully delicious sensation. Had Helen felt like this for Charlie ? Did Kenneth feel like this for her ? The last was true. She was utterly and entirely loved. He had not said it in words, but she had read his devotion in his eyes—she knew he had put his whole heart into his kisses. She got up and looked out of the window in the direction of Tingalpa; the moonlight bathed the landscape in its silver light. Tho moon faced his window. She knew the lay of tho house well. She sent a blessing by it, and fancied it would steal more softly on his slumbers. She caressed and kissed over and over again the hand to which he had given the first love-kiss. It was another world to which she rose on the morrow. She had to say good-bye to Mr. Henderson for raontha, for he was going on a long round, beginning at Tingalpa. 'Any message for our young friend ?" said he. Mrs. Ellerton was writing a note, would he wait for it? " Certainly," was his reply. " Any message from you?" Miss Gray. " Only that I think the same as I did yester day on the subject we spoke of," said Edith, who thought she could send a kindly message by so dear a friend. " And, of course, kindest regards to him and all of them." fil suppose I should bo off to Melbourne again," said Mr. Talbot, who just then camo in, "after I look in at Tingalpa, and sec the Oswalds once more. It has been an interesting case, and I don't know when I enjoyed any thing so much. It has been a pretext for a good many pleasant days at Wilta. Where are those vagrant young people, Miss Gray ?" " Oh, I don't know, they slipped out together. They arc in the garden, I suppose." " Very excusable under the circumstances, I'm sure," said Mr. Talbot. " Suppose we go and hunt them up. I want to say good-bye. Let us see if my scent for such discoveries, is equal to that for legal points. I dare say you will be sharper than I in the quest. Let mo take down your garden hat from the peg, Miss Gray." Instead, however, of taking any trouble to find the young people, Mr. Talbot took care to keep out of their way. He had a proposal to make, and he made it with his usual felicitous and choice mode of expression. He admired Miss Gray's beauty, her talents', her right way of thinking on all subjects. A great part of the interest he had taken in the recent case was because it was one of great interest to Miss Gray. It had been a sufficient reward for all the trouble that it had cost him that it had brought him more into contact with her, and deepened the very favourable impres sion which she had long ago made on his heart. His family, character, and circumstances he hoped would be considered unimpeachable; his habits were domestic, and he believed his prin-. ciples were to be relied on. He flattered nim self he had a good temper, which goes for so much in domestic happiness. His father and family would be delighted to welcome her into their midst as the brightest ornament of their circle, and he thought that now, when she saw domestic happiness in so fair a light in the per sons of her favourite brother and his charming bride, Miss Gray would be disposed to give a favourable answer to his ardent aspirations, and permit him to speak to her father before leaving Wilta. Edith had never let any man go so far before; she had stopped any aspirants to her good graces on the verge of their proposals, or at least at the end of the first sentence; but this young barrister seemed to have so much pleasure in saying all that he had to say, turned his sen tences so neatly, and seemed so sure of a favour able reply, that she did not sec where she could strike in without disappointing his full inten tions of being both explicit and exhaustive on this very interesting subject. She was carrying on a double process in her mind at the time, and contrasting Kenneth's overpowering look and his broken sentences, and his passionate kisses of the hand ho held, with this man's confident, though, as he thought, persuasive, manner and fluent speech. It was one of those cases of "limited liability"—what she knew she might expect. Thero was no putting his whole for tunes to the touch to win or lose all. If sho loved Mr. Talbot perhaps ho might get very fond of her, but afc present he risked no deep feeling, and would fo»*l no great disappoint ment. The desire to be referred to her father roused her to action. In language as choice as his owu she expressed her gratitude for his good opinion, but regretted that it was not returned, and that she believed it impossible it could be retimiod in the way in which Mr. Talbot wished ; and requested that he would not speak to her father at all. Mr. Talbot was astonished —more than aston ished. He had felt that he must lose no time in making his proposal, for now tlint Mrs. Ellerton had acknowledged herself to be Ken neth Oswald's sister it was necessary to put in his claims before the client ho had worked so hard for could conic into tho field. Ho had liovcr thought of him before, though he was undoubtedly handsome, and would be rich, for ho liad boon so convinced of his devotion to Mrs. Ellorton—which ho had proved to an extent very damaging to his own cause—that ho believed young Oswald w.is no suitor for Miss Gray's good graces. Still, even in this altered stuto of things, there More drawbacks—vory grout dr:iwb:ieUs--to a union with Kenneth' Oswald ; the illegitimate birth, the vulgar relations, the want of con genial aocicty, aud bid being such a mere boy

compared to Miss Gray. There ought to be at least five years difference in age, which there was in his case. He trusted to time. He must try a/rain, but he did not say so. Edith Gray was the mo*t suitable wife for him of all his acquaintance. Not only was she likely to bo richly dowered with regard to money ; he felt certain that however high he might rise in his Erofession —and the young barrister was ara itious—she would worthily fill the position of his wife His house, with her at its head, would be a centre for the keen intellectual life of the best Melbourne society—a sort of literary coterie, in which her beauty and her brilliancy would find a fitting field of action. He seriously admired and respected her, and even loved her, as far as he could lovo without the certainty of its being returned; and all his experience in life led him to behevo that, unless in the case of a preoccupied heart, any man might win any woman if no set him self resolutely to do it. He must allow a little time for this excitement to subside, and for Edith to observe Charlie and Helen's happiness in each other; and Charlie was an old friend, who would help him on in his suit. So the young barrister went to Tingalpa with David Henderson, to have a farewell inter view with his obliged client. Young Oswald road Mrs. EllcrtoiVs note, and received Miss Gray's message, and, to Talbot's surprise, looked more worn and haggard than he had done in the very worst days of suspense, or on the trial itself. Mrs. Ellerton's note, then, was agitating; ho had not heard David Henderson's message. Edith had sent it with one view; Kenneth took it up in another. She meant to let him know that, as she believed his mother was married, she did not look on his birth as illegiti mate, and therefore they stood on the same level in her eyes. He, racked all night by the feeling that she would have him prove that mother Mr. M'Diarniid's wife, conscious at the Bamc time that the sort of marriage which Car michael proposed to establish was not tho mar riage that Edith believed in, and absolutely convinced that he should not press doubtful claims on the testimony of an enemy and a scoundrel, took the message altogether wrong, and considered that he would have a long hard battle to fight to induce the woman he loved to niarry a nameless man, and to live with him at Tingalpa; for while his uncle lived he must remain there. For Edith Gray, the most refined, the most honoured woman in the whole country round, to leave her place in her father's house and associate chiefly with Mr. and Mre. Oswald, would be indeed a condescen sion. But there was regard to begin with— there was a strong friendship on her part—nay, he felt sure that there was more—and on his. His soul seemed lost in the ocean of love he felt for her. So he visited a great deal at Wilta, of course primarily to see his sister, but still he kept him self in Edith's sight. He never forgot himself as he had done on the day of his acquittal; the consciousness that on one important subject they were at variance mode him timid and hesitating, and pained her with the thought that she had perhaps misunderstood the real nature of his feelings. Sybil pressed her brother now as much as her father, and met with very unequal sympathy from Edith. Charley Gray wrote about Young Oswald's constant visits to Talbot, who saw a great deal more against his hand than he had supposed, but still took into account many other points in his favour, especially the society to wliich his wife would be introduced. The interest which Edith took in her brother was not so strong as it had been; his influence in favour of his friend was not so powerful as it would have been before he left for New Zealand, but so far as it went it was given for his old friend, and against young Oswald. Edith was puzzled with herself: she had thought her attachments and her friendships were constant and steady before this, and felt, nevertheless, that Charlie no longer occupied the highest place in her heart, not even putting Kenneth out of the field. It was not jealousy of his wife, who was really a dear little thing, and who was so different that there could be no rivalry between them; but, in the few years of absence, Walter—who knew every incident that had happened lately, who had sympathised in the anxious watch over Sybil, who imd joined in her indignant scorn and hate of Ellerton, who had gone heart and soul in the efforts made to prove Kenneth innocent, and who infinitely preferred young Oswald to Talbot— had grown dearer to her. Somehow in this troubled time, when she could not make out why Kenneth did not follow up his advantages with her, she felt more comfort in the grave elder brother than in the old favourite—whose wifo as woll as himself was always sounding the praises of the rising barrister iv her ears. Chaitek LV. ANOTHER WAY OF LOVE. Hugh Carmichajsl stayed at Tingalpa till Kenneth was fairly sick of him, and, as he wished to ask his sister to spend a week or two quietly there, he was very anxious that his uncle should give him his conge. No persuasion would induce Kenneth to proceed in any way against his father, and even his uncle ceased to press it before Carmichacl took Ins departure. It was a very peaceful visit that Sybil paid. Mr. Oswald tried to look severe at her because of her old influence with his son, and her present influence over his nephew, which strengthened his resistance to the voice of justice and of reason ; but the girl won her way to his heart by her gentleness, by her devotion to Kenneth, by her exquisite singing, and by the little touches she gave to the house to take off its rawness and newness. It was sad to see the young thing, barely twenty, worse than a widow, going back to her father's house bankrupt in happiness, and with Kenneth's brotherly love for her only compensation. And to risk putting bitterness between them for the sake of the honour of the Oswalds seemed even to the old man now somewhat cruel. In Hugh Curmichacl's absence, Mr. Oswald's kindly nature reasserted itself. One morning when Kenneth was out, and she was putting somr> little loving stitches into his clothes, which hitherto had been done by ser vants, Sybil received a note from Wilta, and joyfully told Mr. Oswald of her expectation that Mr. Gray and Edith would accompany her to Britaiu, as Charlie Gray could be kept sit home to help Walter if he was needed, and the ohl gentleman would be quite easy in his mind to leave Wilta. George Oswald at once said, "If William Gray goes, so do I! It's just as fair I had a holiday as him. What do you say, Mrs. Oswald? Will you come with me, or will you prefer stopping at home?" "Of course I'll prefer going with you. After all I've gone through there is nothing that will act me up like a complete change, and, as you

leave Kenneth to manage, you can be spared,' said Mrs. Oswald. " But 111 not leave Kenneth; he goes too. He needs a change, poor lad, as well as you or me," said her husband decisively. tl Oh ! Mr. Oswald," said Sybil, " how good you are. I shall thon have his company all the voyage. I'll take him to papa. Oh ! hell be rejoiced over by one and all at Castlo Diarmid." "More than the prodigal son even," said Mrs. Oswald. " Ten times more, and with no grudge from any one. "Oh ! Norman, Malcolm, Charlie, Flora, Lydia, and Maggie will all see who can do the most for him. What can I say to you, Mr. Oswald, to thank you for your goodness?" and she positively hugged him in her joy. " But now can the stations be managed with out Kenneth?" said Mrs. Oswald. <T You say he does ao much." " The overseers, woman, will do fairly well, and I will make it worth while either for Walter or Charlie Gray to look to things a bit. I'm getting an old man, guidwife, ana there's ray father and my mother still in life, and will be blithe to see me. and all the blither if Ken is with us. And if I have not worked for a holi day I'd like to see tho man in Victoria that has. When do you count on going, Mrs. Ellerton?" "By next mail steamer, next month; is that too soon for you ?" " 111 make what suits you suit me, I reckon." " And then you will take the Suez trip, too. Mr. Gray talks of going vid Brindisi, and taking it leisurely through Italy and Prance, and my father will probably meet us some where on the Continent, and I can go home. I hope it will be convenient for you: because, of course, I want as much of Kenneth's society as I can possibly get" "What William Gray can afford, surely I can, either of time or money," said George Oswald. " And I suppose you will sell off the furniture and buy new, like other people when they go home," said Mrs. Oswald. " No, quid-wife: you may buy, but there's to be no selling. There's no new fangled easy chairs that will fit me like this; ana I'm not going to turn everything out of the house that our poor Jim handled and looked at, for any kickshaws you may pick up on your travels. But there's one thing you roust keep mind of, quid-wife. Buy something at every place you stop at, and get Ken to label it in a good big hand, and keep it for a reminder, foryou're no to disgrace us like the lady on the Kent, that threeped she had never seen Rome till she was brought to book about a pair of gloves that split up." Kenneth was surprised and delighted at the resolution his uncle had taken to accompany tho Grays and Sybil, and over-ioyed to near that he was to be the companion or their travels. He would be with Edith all the way—he would keep his claims, such as they were, before her, and when she once saw her father and the happy home which was opened for poor Sybil after all her wanderings she would surely see differently the point on which they had dis agreed. There was a large family picnic at the top of the Wilts hills the following week, and Kenneth was invited to join the Grays. Edith was gather ing everlastings, white, golden, and purpfe* ai*d twining them into little wreaths. " There are some graves on the Continent, where I should like to lay Australian flowers. I suppose it would be out of place in Scotland, Mr. Ken neth." " I think it would surprise Scotch people," said Kenneth. "The heaths will not stand, but this beauty I feel disposed to twine in," said Edith. " Indeed, I have a feeling that the perishable should be mixed with the immortelles, as a type of human life and human hopes. Some things must die, but the best things must live. To me the strongest argument of all for immortality is the strength of the affections. It seems to me as if love must endure for ever and ever. And if our love is undestructible, necessarily God's love must thus endure, and He must keep the personal object of His love alive to enjoy it." Edith twisted the heath she admired, and received from Kenneth's hand a spray of blue and another of white flowers. " And yet the most beautiful arc the perish able," said he. "It is not because we know we hold our dear ones uncertainly that we prize them most, and that the contingency of death separating us gives its tenderness and its in tensity to our deepest affections." "That is as we are now," said Edith, "not as we shall be." "There are other things besides death to separate people," said Walter Gray, who was sitting near Deside Mrs. Ellerton, " distance, estrangement, circumstances." " Amor vincit omnta," said Kenneth ; " all things but deaths It is vain to say love con quers death. It survives it—but it is beaten by it." "To Charlie and Helen, how terrible death must appear at striking at one of them," said Edith ; " every other trouble they would think nothing, their love would conquer it; but as you say, Mr. Kenneth, death is terrible when one loves." Mrs. Ellerton thought the conversation sounded promising; there had evidently been more difficulty between her brother and Edith than she could have anticipated, and the nature of this difficulty neither of them could reveal to her. Of course housekeeping at Tingalpa near the old Oswalds had its drawbacks; but, if Edith loved Kenneth as he deserved, love would conquer even that. Sybil moved away and Walter Gray followed her, and the pair suspected by both to bo lovers were left to follow up the train of thought, of which a good deal might be made. But Sybil was by no means prepared for the first result of this step. When they had walked on to a beautiful glen where the ferns grew, and the Wilta creek bickered in the shade of the magnificent white gums which grew on its banks, Walter Gray suggested that she should sit down and rest, ana, standing over her with his serious hand some face somewhat troubled, he said slowly : " Love conquers all things but. death. So long as you live you are the object of my hopes" "But you forget—l am a married woman." "No true marriage. It deserves to be broken for the very sufficient reasons of cruelty, neglect, desertion, and serious crime. You have no right to be bound by vows made in childish ignorance to a man who trampled on every feeling you had. You do not love him now ?" " No." said Sybil; " but if he repented ?" " If he tvpentccl he would have to give up his life or his liberty. The only sign of repentance worth haying would be his surreudcr to justice, and he will never do that."

" Even that docs not sunder the marriago-tio in the eyes of the law," said Sybil. •' No, not unless he were to pay the penalty of his life, and that our juries are too merciful to enforce. They shut up a murderer in Pent ridge for seven or fourteen years, and then he comes out to claim his wife and her wifely duty. The law is altogether wrong." "But it is the law." " Yes, Mrs. Ellerton, unfortunately it is the law, and as your husband is disguised and under a false name you can never discover whether he is dead or alive. I believe there is some presumption that he is dead after a certain number of years. I can wait. You think it very shocking, but perhaps in time you may think differently." " My husband is sure to writ© to mo to keep up some hold on me." " I think it very unlikely that ho will run the risk of anyone^discovering his address. He is a murderer skulking from justice; he dares not write. No, Sybil M'Diarmid, I consider that in the eyes of God you are divorced from that man. You cannot possibly live with him any more, he dares not claim you. If the world saw things rightly you are again a perfectly free woman; but, as you say, the law is against you, and I would not ask any woman, least of all you, whom I love as I never thought I coidd love any one, to put yourself at a disadvantage for my sake. As I said, I shall do my utmost for the alteration of the marriage law, so as to shorten the time until you have your perfect liberty; then I shall ask you to marry me; till then I shall wait." " Why waste your life on such a remote and visionary hope?" said Sybil. " I choose to waste it, as you call it. If at the end of the time, short or long, which the law allows, you see fit to choose another I shall regret it. Only you understand what I mean. You are so dear to me that I care more for your happiness than ray own, and, though I am sorry that you prevailed on your brother to let your husband escape at the risk of his own life, I believe I should have done the same if you had asked me. I thought you preferred Ken neth, and I, like other people, believed he worshipped you; but now that we know what he is to you I put forward my distant cairns to your regard." "But I am going home, Mr. Walter; you must not sacrifice your whole life and your hopes of happiness to such a remote contingency." "It is no matter to me whether you are at Wilta or at Castle Diarmid. It is just as im possible for me to love another woman while you are alive. My father has been sorry that I did not see anyone to win my affection, and I know Edith looks on me as confirmed in single life. lam not young, lam not brilliant, but I love you—that is the long and the short of it." Thiß was different sort of love from what had been offered at seventeen by Herbert Ellerton—the love that was impatient, exacting, and passionate—that could not live without her, that had no hold for good apart from her, that defied parental rights, and overbore her yielding nature, so as to make it as headstrong, as wilful, and unreasonable as his own. No; this was a steadfast man whom even if she rejected she could not destroy—who would wait and hope, and go on doing his duty by his father and his family—who would love her absent as he loved her present—who did not attempt to kiss her or to take her hand, but only stood over her with the respect due to a queen. " I do not ask you now, because you arc not free; only I wish you to know how I feel. I shall not tell Edith, and I suppose you would rather not. I shall rejoice in your happy meeting with your dear ones at home. If you allow me to write to you, trust me that I shall not press you until I may; but whether you permit that or not you need not doubt the genuineness of my feelings. I think you would rather I left you now; would you return to our friends, or shall I leave you and return?" Sybil could scarcely articulate that she would prefer _ to return; she was more afraid of solitary" thought than of society. Walter Gray, the clever keen man of business, to throw himself thus at her feet! She looked into her own heart. There was none of the old love left in it—no, it was empty, and swept, and garnished so far as the old wifely feeling was concerned. She had filled it with Kenneth, and thought there was no void: she kept her family and her friends in their old warm places, and the sensation of relief from the pain the wounded trampled love had suffered had made her think herself happy. But—but —this was bewildering—only it needed no answer, it pressed for no considera tion now. She returned to her brother and Edith, and Walter Gray looked as calm and collected as if there had been no such extra ordinary declaration on his part. And Ken neth had apparently made but little use of the opportunity so rashly given. There was pain on his face, and something like displeasure on Edith's. Charles Gray and his Helen, who thought they had run through the whole gamut of love in their recent experience, had touched no such notes as those which were now vibrating in the heart of the grave Walter or the ap parently indifferent Edith. Their loves had been so natural, so prosperous, so fostered by everybody and every circumstance; and the proverb that the course of true love never does run smooth only proves the universal conscious ness that it is when love is thwarted that it moBtT>owcrfully proves itself true. [TO BE CONTINUED.]

On Saturday afternoon Pro'euor Gilbert de livered a " lecture to children " in the Albert Hall, under the auspices of the Brisbane Total Abstinence Society. The subject of the leoture was " Food and Alcohol ; or, What shall we Eat and Drink." Mr. E. Gregory took the chair, and the proceedings were opened by the singing of one of Moody and Sankcy'a hymns—" Yield not to Temptation." The lecturer explained tho uae of food as a means of sustaining life, and the pur poses which different articles of diet served in effecting that object. On Sunday ni^ht the Profewor lectured in the KHtne place to about a hundred people, hit* subject being "God in Nature." He treated his subject from a Ecientifio point of view. He claimed that, to form a proper conception of the Great Unseen, it was neceosary to study man—his nature and his faculties. The ideas of God formed by many of those who professed religion, and regularly attended churches, wore of a Being such as would disgrace nuy individual, the reason bniug that they formed their conception of God frout their own small idens of love. Wheu we studied ourselves more we should have more practical Christianity—more practical religion.