|Newspaper Title||The Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 - 1939)|
|Trove Title||Old Stanley's Will|
Old Stanley's Will.
BY J. B.
If yon are not the heiress born, And I," said he, "the lawful heir, We two will wed to-morrow morn, And you shall still be Lady Clare."
TKNHTSON. "My bride, My wife, my life. owe will walk this world, Yoked in all exercise of noble end. Indeed I love thee: come, Lay thy aweet bands in mine and trust to me. "The Princess"—Tennyson. A couple of nigbtß later on in the week Mrs. Handson was busily plying her ° needle, and Paul, feeling stronger and happier, was sitting in a little rocking-chair which Tobins had bought, carried, and presented that very day to bis little friend. He was trying to read while his mother worked ; but mother and child found it difficult to do either by the flickering light of a solitary candle, although they sat closely to the make> shift table before mentioned. Her eye* were dim from constant application to her needle work, and Paul's from weakness. The little room was still clean and sweet; a broken-nosed handleless jug stood in the centre of the table containing some flowers and foliage so arranged as to hide its deficiencies. The flooring boards were white; the window was bright, and its* muslin drapery, patched and darned, still spot* less. The whole was refinement in the heart of poverty. "Mother, do pat down your work for one moment; I can't read; let us talk. We don't want eyes for that." " I really haven't time, dear; I must finish this little dress to-night—it will not take much longer. You talk to me; I can do both—work and talk." "Yes, mother; I do like to watch your little fingers. When did you learn sewing f" Without giving her time to reply he went on boy-like: " I wonder how long we shall be poor like this ? How nice it must be to be rich 1 If I were rich, mother, I could have everything I wanted, couldn't I?" " No, dear, not quite, perhaps." Click—cliok—click went the needle. " Why f' he said, in some surprise. w I ooold have a fine house for you; servants to wait on yeu; you should ride in a fine big carriage, and nave handsome dresses—everything that you ought to have—and I should be so happy." "Are you not feeling happy, Paul ? You are getting better and stronger, and will soon be able to wotk again. Are you not feeling grateful too, my son!" "Yes, mother dear; I think lam happy; I am sure lam grateful; but is it wrong to wish to see you happy V "No, Paul; you are too thoughtful for your mother; but perhaps lam at the present moment as happy as many a princess who may be surrounded with all the grand things you are pining for, dear, for my sake. Rich** do not mean happiness; the poor and the wealthy can be happy alike, if they try to be ; and God loves his children ail the same if they seek Him and Berve Him faithfully; yet He said, 'The needy should never cease from the earth,' Therefore, dear, it is His will that some should hav<Lto struggle for their bread, and some have mo^ethan they want; that some of his children should be sickly, some strong; some with talent, and some without. In whatever Btation of life gftu may be, my son, be content; trust in God, and you will be happy too. 'Tia human nature, my Paul, to be ever aiming and crying for some thing beyond its reach, so that the lives of few are perfectly happy—if it were so we should never think of the life hereafter." "Then, mother, are you quite content to be always working—never resting ?" "If it is God's will, I must try to be ; but I am rich in you, my son ; dearer and more preoious than the rarest jewel you are to me, darling." Paul rose from his chair and kissed bis mother, saying: " And /am all that to you, dear little mother- poor little weak Paul ? Then I am rich too in your love and tender care, and you are rich in heart and mind. I ought to be happy when I have such a mother, and will never be discontented again." He fondled her affectionately, and she, forget-' f ul of her work, pressed him to her heart, saying: " While God spares you to me in health and strength, and gives us our daily bread, our little home can never cease to be happy." She took up her work again, while Paul sat on the ground at her feet and rested his curly head against her knee. " Can you sing and work too, mother ?" he asked presently. " I wish you would sing that pretty song about' home' to me." "I will try." She cleared her throat, and began in a soft contralto tone to ring the follow ing verses:— When honest hearts and willing hands Are striving bread to win- Hearts that throb and brains that think For dearest kith and kin; Let home be to each one a beacon, The one true haven of rest, * Where holy love shall care subdue And calm the aching breask. If the fare in the larder be coarse, Make it tasty if you can still; Let home be the prids and the darling; There's ever a way with the will. Let home breathe to each one of heaven, And teach them the sacred worth Of the immortal spirit given To exalt us over earth. Bravely struggling, nover flinching From life's rugged path to roam; Love spreads his wings to shield from harm, And pointa to treasured home. "Thank you, thank you, dear mother!" Paul exclaimed, clapping his hands; "how pretty that is!" 11 We owe a great deal of our present happi ness to your unknown friend, the doctor, Paul; his medicine and the little luxuries he sent yon have made you strong again." " Oh but, mother, I forgot to tell you that Bob told me all about him. He is awfully rich, and to good to all the poor round about. If they pay him he sends the money back with a note to
tell them they have made a mistake; and hip name is Dr. Herbert Howard." "Dr. Howardr she said with a start. "I have heard of him, Paul; he is an immensely rich man, I know." Her voice trembled as ehe added: " It is very strange." " What is strange, mother ?" " Nothing, dear ; don't ask me." Paul looked at her wistfully and said : " It's something I mustn't know, then. I don't like you to have a secret from me." A knock at the door aroused them both. The door stood ajar, as the evening was warm, and, turning to see who knocked, Bod'b eyes were seen peering round it into the room, " Hollo, Bob; come in," Paul cried out. Bob entered, and Btood there, hat in hand. " I haven't time to stop," he said ; "am jußt on an errand ; but I thought as you'd like to know: Dr. Howard is a coming down the street Good bye." He was off again before they had time to recover their surprise at the prospect of another visit from their benefactor, or to thank Bob for bringing the news. " Paul, I will go into the back room," Mrs. Handson said, turning pale. " And not stay to thank him, mother I" he said reproachfully. "Do you know him already ?" " No! no!" she cried. " But I shall never be able to speak to him. We have never seen each other to my knowledge; still there are circum staacea which would render our meeting un pleasant—to me at all events. Let me get used to his name first before I see him. Let me go away, dear, without questioning me." But she had barely time to turn when the door was pushed open impetuously, and the doctor entered, looking agitated and eager. Impulsively advancing he caught her two hands in his, drew her close to the table, nearer and nearer to the light, looked closely into her face, which was flushed with excitement and annoy ance too, and, pressing her hands in his almost to pain, he cried : *At last! at last t Good God, and thus 1" She pulled her hand* from him with some force, and, drawing her slight figure up, the reared her head and said, with all the dignity of s> queen: " I do not understand you, sir I" " Tou do not know me, then ?" he said. M4Tea; you are Dr. Howard; and if I did not know you better I should say yon wen mad, or even something worse." "Oh! I had forgotten. Oer—, madam, Mrs. Handson, pardon me. Tou do not know—you anno* feel v I do." She turned to leave the room, when he asked suddenly: " Are you not Qertie—Qerti* Stanley t" " Why do you ask ma that question t" she said as suddenly halting, her face blanching. ° Unless you explain your ungentlemanly conduct I cannot answer your question—l shall not remain here." "Fergive me, dear lady," he cried; "I am hasty—impulsive—mad too, if you like; mad with success at last—at last I" He folded his arms across his chest, and walked up and down the room excitedly. Paul crept to his mother's side and whispered: "Mother, don't be angry with him ; think how good he has been to us; speak kindly to him." Dr. Howard heard the whisper—in that small room a whisper even could not be lost He stood still, and smiling sweetly on the boy he began: " Tou know me for Dr. Howard, but not for what I am. Why, lam an interloper. Tou are Mrs. Handson—once the heiress of Godfrey Stanley, your maternal uncle; and lam here now, after a long and fruitless search elsewhere, to tell you that you are still his heiress. I have sought you for years; can you wonder now that I am almost intoxicated with success on finding you at last ? Tour uncle's wealth is not mine, but yours, by all the natural ties of kindred—by the law of heaven." " I cannot follow you," she said slowly and with difficulty. "1 am nothing to Godfrey Stanley." She Bat down and hid her face in her hands, and Paul knelt beside her. " Are you not that young lady," oontinued the doctor, "who, many years ago, met with an accident stepping from an omnibus, and who was carried to her home—to a Mrs. Holwood's, who. was your schoolmistress? How is your memory now ?" " Oh!" she answered, lifting her face where smiles and tears were struggling for supremacy, and came towards him with outstretched hand; "I remember you now—you saved my life perhaps that day, and I could never thank you. Tou it was who carried me — who attended me so kindly ! I remember now they said it was Dr. Howard. It is my turn to ask your pardon, dear friend. Forgive my rudeness ; forgive my hasty speech. Tou saved my life, and perhaps that of my child. Paul, darling, thank thedoctor." Paul could not find words, but he lifted their benefactor's hand to his lips and kissed it with reverence. She continued: " I never thought to connect the Dr. Howard of that day with the Dr. Howard of this. When I heard this minute for the first time that the good unknown gentleman who had so generously brought back this dear boy to health and strength—that our benefactor was one and the same with the man who had stepped into my rightful inheritance—l could not help wishing to avoid an interview. I feel now that my uncle was right, and knew you for what you were. He knew hit wealth would not be squandered. When you had gathered the riches that he had heaped up, the misery around you was lightened, the poor were made happy. God bless you!" Again she buried bar face and wept heartily. He led her to a seat, and, sitting opposite, spoke to her almost too softly for Paul to catch the words; but Paul, with a tact and perception beyond his years, retired to a oorner and tried to take no heed of what was going on. And as the doctor spoke he thought that time and trouble had not robbed her sweet noble face of a particle of its beauty. She was scarcely thirty years old, and even looked younger than that. She was perhaps more beautiful, for sorrow had chastened the features; her bright pure soul shone in her countenance with a holy angel light There was just enough of the woman in her to pin her wings to earth. He loved her still, but could
not tell her bo yet He was Baying: " I did not step into your inheritance ; in faot it waa thrown at my head. I never Bought it; but I did your uucle a Blight service once, and that waa hia way of showing his gratitude. I could not enjoy wealth not rightly my own. I only touched it in case of distress, and when the money might do good to those I loved. For the rest, I have kept it in trust. Some presentiment haunted me that I should find you at last to make jou mistress of your own." She opened her mouth to speak, when he interrupted her: "Don't Bpeak yet; let me tell you one thing more. I never forgot the face of the young girl I had the happiness of serving that day so long ago. Imagine my surprise, then, when stepping one morning into the breakfaßt-parlour at Stanley Park to see your image painted so faith* fully—almost smiling upon me." He would not tell her of the scene that followed. "It was the first time I had visited the place, and I was there by a special invitation from your uncle, who had only told me the morning before that it was hia own estate, I having thought previously, from his peculiar mode of living, that he was poor and friendless. I learnt that day that you were his niece, that he had determined to disinherit you for thwarting him, and I left him with disgust and annoyance working in my heart. I subsequently avoided him, but some few months afterwards visited him on bis deathbed. His eyes had a prayer in them, my dear Ger—, Mrs. Handson, and his last whispered words—the only two he uttered—were * Qtrtvi and ' kelp, 1 Poor soul 1 I knew he repented for something. When I learnt I was his heir—had inherited everything save a small legacy to two old servants, Andrew and Hannah Camden—l re monstrated, objected; but the law had its way. I then did the next beßt thing ; I searched for you. Nobody knew your married name, or any* thing about your husband. I left no atone nn* turned, and should have Btill been groping in the dark but for our good friend Bob, who has served me bo well that I don't know how I Bhall ever repay him. I came here, not knowing you, to see your boy. His face pleased me, and yet plagued me too; it worried me all the way home—haunted me that night in my sleep. This very morning I visited Stanley Park. I seldom go there, only Andrew, who is still re* tamed there with his wife in service, was sick, and I went to see him. I found Hannah—who loves jou so much—busy polishing as I thought a pisoe of plate; bat when she saw me she curtseyed, smiled, and lifted to my view your own picture, saying, 'May-be, sir, she will turn np soon—God send the day!—and would like to see her young face taken good care of Then for the first time Paul's face and that of the picture were blended into one; it was conviction. To Hannah's surprise I fell on my knees and thanked God ; then, jumping up again, I caught her by the hand and said, ' Hannah, faithful none, she hat turned up. I go to seek her.' Trying my patience to the utmost I have f ul* filled my professional duties, and here on wings I have come to you at last and found yon In poverty and distress. Tell me now, how is it I have not found you before ?" "Good, kind, generous heart, how I have wronged you all this time I" she said. " How can I make atonement ?" "You have amply atoned, my dear dear friend," he exclaimed, hia face lighting up with pleasure. Gazing on her fondly he urged her again to tell him where ahe had been hiding. She began: "My girlhood was unhappy, though surrounded by riches. My uncle, if he loved me, never made any effort to win my love—never made any demonstration of his affection towards me. My mother was his only sister, and he had no brother living. She married against hia wbh my father, Charles Crawford, of whom I have no recollection. Like myself she was early left a widow, and only lived for me. When I had attained my tenth year she died, and died in poverty, begging Uncle Godfrey to forgive her and to protect her orphan child. He so far forgave her as to take me to his home, but never to hia heart. Old Hannah pitied and caressed me ; otherwise I led a loveless life, and grew up I know not how in suoh a joyloss home. I mourned for my dear mother long and deeply. I missed her tender unselfish devotion. My uncle was morose and unsociable, and saw no company. My grief irritated him, my pale face worried him, but he waa quite satisfied that he was doing hia duty by an orphan niece (whose mother had never consulted him or abided by his word in the one great event of her life) by letting her share the ahelter of his roof, eat from his table, and promising her that she should have his money when he died. Such was my existence. One day Paul Handson and I met — never mind . where. We arranged many meetings to follow. He loved ma and I loved him. I began to live. I meant to confess everything to uncle Godfrey, but one day when we thought he was in Sydney we strolled to a pretty summer-house on the grounds where he waa lying and reading his book. Our relationship waa revealed to him at once. My blushes confessed everything, and when we both implored for his consent he pushed me from him rudely, saying,' Ah, the apple does not fall far from the tree, then.' He motioned me to go home, and said to Paul, my lover, who winced with the slander his words implied— * Young man, leave here at once. Ido not mean my niece to marry unleßS she wishes to be a beggar. That argument will weigh heavily with you, so I do not fear you. Her mother dis obeyed me, and ahe must suffer for her mother's ?ins. Now go.' Poor uncle Godfrey, his life waa soured by disappointment. He loved in his early days a girl who jilted him. She poisoned his heart and turned all his love to hate. I can pity him now. After that he sent me away, even from old Hannah's gentle arms, to Mrs. Hoi* wood, a harsh cross mistress ; not one of her pupils but hated her. She watched me as a cat does a mouse—aye and ahe clawed me too very often; but I was mad, my chains galled me. I managed to escape, to meet Paul, and then to become his wife, I was free at last, and could quench my raging thirst now for love, for Paul, my husband, waa still my lover and offered me deep draughts of love." She stopped to draw her breath and gain composure, and then continued : —" He was poor. Like many more, he came to Australia and left his people in Eng*
land with the idea of making a fortune, or even picking up nuggets in the street. He only Eioked up Btonea. Aa hs could not live on them c tried photography, but competition was too great His next effort was to write for Borne Sydney papers and other colonial periodicals, which for a single man was something like suc cess. He saved, and then we married, like two children, ignorant of housekeeping as we were. We found hia earnings little enough to make both ends meet, and then when my little Paul was born our expenses increased. I made an effort to help my husband, and so I did. I tried my hand at plain linen work for the shops, and afterwards took orders for dresses. We were comparatively happy; but when my boy was three yean old his father received news of the death of his eldest brother, who had bequeathed to him a couple of hundred pounds, and also a letter from his old parents, imploring him to come to them, and to bring his wife and child, that they might Bee him before they died. He, being their sole surviving child, could not refuse their prayer, and we broke up our home at the very time of uncle Godfrey's death. We beard that a young dootor had come in for all his wealth, that his name was Herbert Howard. I could not feel kindly towards you then, and Sydney was hateful to us both after that, and we were glad to go away. When we arrived at our journey's end we found that nearly one-half of the small legacy had been swallowed up by our various expenses; and, to make matters worse, siokneßa assailed us. My husband was an invalid for months through catching a fever which was prevalent at the time. My little Paul had a touch of it, and then myself. The old people made us live with them ; my poor husband was unable to work for some months, and soon our £200 was sunk. We learnt quite by aocident about this time that that aame legacy was not bequeathed as we supposed, but that Paul's eldest brother had willed it to his father, together with the cottage and its furniture. The old gentleman's wants were few, as he already earned a small income, so he sent it to us as an induce ment to return to their fireside. But both he and his wife regretted now what they had done, since nothing but trouble had been ours after we set foot in their house, and the small subsistence they depended upon was not half enough for an extra family. Paul now found some writing to do, and was able to earn a little again, and I ooee more went to work dressmaking. We were just able to pay our way, and that was aIL Before the year expired my poor husband died ; he was never very strong after that illness. My father* in-law, who just earned sufficient for himself and wife by collecting rents, tried to persuade me that he could make enough for all without my working, but I would not listen. I worked, but could not save. I taught my little Paul, and tried to be happy with the devoted unselfish couple ; but about twelve months ago they died within a short time of each other. The cottage was willed to me, but a strong desire possessed me to aeturn to Sydney. I sold the cottage and all that it contained, excepting a few simple relics of those who were gone ; took passage in • sailing vessel, and three months ago arrived in Sydney. I tried to find work with those I served before, but found them already suited. It was some time before I could get anything to dp, and the little money I had was soon gone in travelling and in buying a little scanty furniture, which you see ; so things went very hard with me, but they are looking brighter now, thank God." " Aye, and shall look brighter still," said Dr. Howard. " Tou shall work no more, but return to your rightful home and live there on your own lands/ "Do you think I will do that ?" she asked. "Why not? 'Tis your own," he said ex* citedly. " Tou are noble, you are generous, you are Strong in virtue, but not strong enough to alter man-made laws. The law has made it yours ; »ou cannot say it is not Tou must not say it Is mine; but I thank you from my heart for jour noble generosity." " There is no generosity in it at all. I have toy profession. I am independent. The super fluous wealth is an inoubus to me, and no delight I tell you that the repentance existing in your unfortunate unhappy uncle's heart tried to frame * prayer on his lips whioh were silenced when it was too late to act Repentance was written on every feature—an appeal in hit eyes whioh I'm sore he knew was understood by me. By a des perate struggle for speech he whispered painfully your own name and then ' help.' What did it tnean, I ask you, but a prayer for justice f • And Justice you shall have." "No ! no I by aU means No," she answered. Tou are the right man in the right place. I have done without wealth so long that I can do with* out it. now altogether. We are happy, Paul and I, in our own way, now, but I will trust to your generosity for his future welfare ; you shall edu cate him, if you will, with my uncle's money, if that will make you happy. I never told the child that riches were onoe within my grasp— that I had any right to expect them—fearing it might make him discontented with his lot in life, but he is a dear good boy. PauL PauL where are you ?" She looked around for him, and found M-n curled up in a oorner fast asleep, and stooped to rouse him. "Mother, is that you? What time is it ? Hat the doctor gone ? Tour voices hushed me to sleep, I do believe." ™ "It is time you were in your bed, dear; you are toed. Come and bid our good friend good night," With his arm round his mother's waist he came towards the dootor. "Good night, my boy," he said, patting his curly head, feeling that it was a delicate hint from her that their interview should cease. He also bade her good night, and left her with the determination never to say "die." To have spoken his love for her would have been precipi tate, t&ough it was a struggle not to do so. He conquered the passion as it rose in his heart, and resolved to wait Bhe might learn to love him in time, he thought His visits to her were repeated, and once again he urged her to take her owb, but she was hi. exorable. Many presenta and luxuries were sent
to the house at short interval* from "an anonymous friend," which she knew came from him, but could not tax him with sending. She could not help admiring him—ahe could not help loving him. Since she had returned from England her position had cast her amongst a lot of people who loved her in their own way, but were not oongenul to her disposition or her talents. The doctor, then, brought a new light into her existence; she began to feel that life without him now would be dark and dreary, and both she and Paul looked forward to each of his visits with eager anticipation and delight. One day—one sunny afternoon—he came again, when Paul was on duty at Mr. Gregory's. She looked up from her work, while a delicate blush painted her cheeks, and welcomed him as usuaL Some little time passed in general conversation, when Dr. Howard suddenly veered round to the old question. "My dear Mrs. Handson, will you forgive me if I ask you just once again why you will persist in steeling your heart against my reasonable request t Tou are so unselfish, and still in spite of yourself will be selfish—yes, selfish, for you will net gratify me; you will not accept, to please me, what I should be so glad to be rid of." "Dear friend, I cannot argue. I am only acting as my heart dictates," she said, bending over her work. Then it was that the doctor rose and stood before her. He said in a low tone : " There is only one thing to make it bearable. There is only one way to make that *»^««»i»«*» will oome right." She made no answer, and her silenoe gave him encouragement " Share it with me—be my own darling wife. Gertie, my love—my only love, the dream of my life—look me in the face and say yon will be mine." Then she bowed her head upon her hands, and answered hysterically: " Tou, yon, yon, the rich, the flattered, the good, want to marry me I Tou would sacrifice yourself." " I shall exalt myself, dearest 1" He drew her hands down and searched her face for his answer. " Darling, I have loved you sinoe the first time I oast my eyes on you. Will you not believe me ?" "'Tis so unexpected—l never thought—l never dreamt. Oh, give me time—l will answer you to-night Let me ask Pad," she said, ex citedly. At that moment Paul entered; hie work was done, and evening was coming on. "Paul, oome here," said the doctor. "Look at me well WOl yon take me for » second lather, my son f' Paul first glanced at his mother, who was in tears. M Mother, do you cry because you are unhappy, or because you are happy I" he asked. He caught her hand to raise her from the chair, and she unresistingly yielded. He drew her up till she stood faoe to faoe with her pleader. Then he kissed her hand, and, placing it in the broad palm of the doctor, said : "Oh, mother, he is so good. I love him dearly; let him be my father on earth—my Father in heaven wfll love him too." So Paul united them for ever. M Carl, I have oome to thank you," said Dr. Howard about a month after the foregoing inci dents, as he entered Carl's chambers. "What for?" " I asked you to assist me in finding Gertie, and you have done so." , MWhere? how? what?" said Carl, as all thoughts of brother-in-lawahip faded from his mind at once. M Why, old fellow, all through accepting your invitation the morning after the ball, I en* countered Bob—the lad who was so Malous for the widow—the lad who told the truth. I sought the widow and her son to relieve their distress, and found my—wife." "Not Mrs. Handson; not the drew—" Carl began. * Tee, Carl, the poor dressmaker who vu is my Gertie—now my wife." "Well, doctor, I am glad, and with all my heart I give you joy." No allusion was made to his mother or sisters. Emmeline and Annette were dumbfounded when some few days later their mother received a note containing her own cheque for £3, sent a week previously to Mrs. Handson: "Mrs. Handson no longer exists, but Mrs. Herbert Howard begs to decline the enclosed, with thanks, trusting Mrs. Guiseman will hand it over to the first case of distress coming under her notice." Carl had not the courage to break the news of the doctor's marriage—much less to tell them the name of his wife. It fell like a thunderbolt on their proud heads; that little Bosnted note was charged with • gunpowder which scattered their senses end blew their hopes to the winds. Tee, there had been a> quiet little wedding. Old Hannah cried tears of joy ever her " long lost child" when she welcomed her home with her husband to Stanley Park. " Home—home, at last ]" he cried, as he stood with his arm encircling her waist, and thought with the poet- No rock m hard but what a little wave Will beat admiaaion in a thooiand yean. Robert Mallet was not forgotten, but was taken into their service for high remuneration. Neither waa Tobins the blacksmith ; no oppor* tonity was missed to show him a kindness. Poor Tobins, he had been on the point of proposing to the widow onoe or twice, only instinct made him hold his tongue and told him it would be useless. He drew his hand across his eyes when he heard of her marriage, and said he " know*d she was a lady born." Paul went to school, and evinced a liking for the profession of his honoured and beloved step* father, and in all probability will follow in his footsteps. Mrs. Herbert Howard was known far and wide for her goodness and charity. Her husband oontinued to attend the needy and administer to their wants, but otherwise retired from hk calling. Bo old Stanley's prayer waa heard and answered, and his will fell in the right direction after all. (Nt mm*.}