Chapter 20709943

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Chapter NumberV & VI
Chapter Url
Full Date1881-09-24
Page Number393
Word Count5615
Last Corrected2018-04-03
Newspaper TitleThe Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 - 1939)
Trove TitleGathered In
article text

The Storyteller.

Gathered In.*



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

MORE than a year had elapsed since the death of Isabel Oswald, and Kenneth kept growing fast, and making good progress at school. His master took a pride in him: he himself was eager

to pleate Mr. M'Diamid, to whom he wu allowed to writ* twioe a year, and who answered hit letters very kindly; and on two occasions Kenneth had the great treat of going up to Edinburgh to meet this generous friend, who took him to a fine hotel, and had him to dine with hit own •elf, and made him order what be liked best More thttn this, he mi udted to choose whioh of the rights of Edinburgh he would prefer to ate, and, height of bliaa, Mr. M'Diarmid aooompanied him to the theatre and the circus, and ones took him for a walk round Arthur's Seat He en couraged the boy to talk, and tell him all the thoughts, serious or idle, that were in his heart, and sent him home full of pleasant memories and pleasanter anticipations of a repetition of the delights. Bat when Kenneth attained his twelfth year a great change came over the family arrangements.' The unole in Australia, George Oswald, who had written to his parents but seldom and irregularly,) though always kindly, astonished them and all the Tillage in whioh he and they had lived by announcing that he had had snoh strokes of good luck lately that he meant to keep his father and1 mother in comfort for the rest of their lives, and that, v he had heard they had a- fine nephew of his own at home, he wished that he should be educated as a gentleman, in first-class style, and sent out to him when his education was finished. He, George Oswald, had never taken a right grip of the world till he had sworn off drink* so he would like his nephew to begin on the square, and drink nothing stronger than tea. He was married, and had one son two or three years younger than Kenneth, as he thought; the mother spoiled him a bit, but the little chap was as like his father as two peas. But there was only the one, and he thought Jim would be the better for a companion by-and-by. There was plenty for them both at Tingalpa, which wu the name of his head station, and as for the old folks, they were sever to need to work another stroke. This letter wu accompanied by a remittance so handsome that the old oouple were amand,. and there wu a promise of a similar-sum to be sent every half year. He said he would prefer his nephew to be educated in England, or at any' rate in Edinburgh, and that he should be sent where there were real upper crusts, and not to any poor widow woman who let lodgings to starving divinity students. Above all thing* he wu to be sure to have plenty to eat, if it wu to be got for money; for George Oswald's ideas on the subject of food had expanded since he left the parental roof. This bewildering letter wu discussed by John and Marion Oswald first in private conference. To leave their home and their neighbours to go either to Edinburgh or to England wu alto* gether out of the question; to part with Kenneth wu nearly as hard, but then if he wu to be associated with gentlefolks henceforward he must be parted with. "I'd better advise with the minister, John," said the old woman. " Nobody could advise us better than Kenneth's am father, Marion. Will I write to him on the matter, think ye ?" " Never !" said his wife ; M never. Thank the Lord and our George that we need never be beholden to him for a penny o' siller or a scrape of a pen henceforth I Oh, my heart is greatly relieved I George is v rich v any M'Diarmid o 1 them a', or I'm greatly mista'en, and now, v he uys he is sworn off the drink, he'll haud up his head wi' the best in the lan'. And v for Kenneth, he'll gang forth the kingdom, and nae man in Australia can lay a finger on the spot that a'body here is so keen to see.' T "But what will we do wanting the laddie I" said John Oswald. " An' naething to do ourselves aither." I "It's time we twa sat by the fireside noo, John," said his wife kindly. "As for me, I can knit my stocking yet v I have done sac lang, and you, John, can have your dambrod (draught* board) and drafts and your pipe and the papers, * The sole right to publish " Gathered In" in Queens- land has been secured by the proprietor, of the Queens- lander.

an' I dare say the neibours will be blithe to come an' hae a crack wi' ye aboot the news." " Aye ; but we'll miss Kenneth; there's nae. body reads oot like him, though I could aye hear Isabel, though her voice was no' that loud—it was sae clear. But there's naebody else that makes me hear aae well." " We'll miss the laddie nae doot, but we've had aye to send the young anes oot o' the nest, wi' less certainty of their prosperity too. Wad Geordie hae come to sic a kingdom in the three Lothians, think ye, if he had stopped here like John Lindores ? Na, na," and she played with the bank draft she held in her hand and listened to the crisp rustling of the paper, as sweet to her Scottish ears as the chink of gold to those of an Englishwoman. "This is a bonnie little bit o' paper to be worth sae muckle." " But we maun let the laddie's father ken," said John Oswald. "I'll do that myself," said Marion; "though I'm nae great hand wi' the pen, I can manage that muckle," and before Kenneth had come from school she had penned, with many slips, omis- sions, and mistakes, what Mr. M'Diarmid made out thus— Sir,—My son George in Austraulia havin maid his fortin wants to hare Kenneth scooled and maid a gentle- mon of, all at his own koast. So as we ne'er wanted favour from you bat only justiss, whioh ye neer wad see, there needs be nae mair beholden to you from this time, and nae mair trockin wi' the laddie at Embro. Your servant to command, Marion Oswald. Kenneth was stunned, less by the good fortune coming to the family and to himself than by the announcement that there was to be now no need of Mr. M'Diarmid's charity, and that his grand- mother had written and posted a letter to put a stop to all communication, and forbade him to write to say anything to explain matters, as she had done everything that was necessary. No expostulation had any effect on the peremptory old woman, and even the grandfather bowed to her wishes, and could not be brought to side with Kenneth. Nobody sympathised with him but the powerless Nelly Lindores, who thought it was a shame and a sin that the wonderfully kind gentleman, who was like a fairy Prince to her imagination, should be treated be rudely, and make Kenneth appear so ungrateful. Mrs. Oswald was scarcely prepared for Mr. M'Diarmid writing to Kenneth, under cover to the schoolmaster, congratulating him on his unex- pected change of fortune, and hoping that he would make the beste of all the opportunities given to him. He acquiesced in a general way in the grandmother's opinion, that now his own assistance would be unnecessary, but if ever circumstances changed, if ever Kenneth needed advice or help, he should be glad if he would address a letter to him at Mr. Shiel's, and he might he sure of an answer or of a meeting if he (Norman M'Diarmid) was alive. This precious letter Kenneth read and re-read, and answered it forthwith— Honoured Sir,—l hare not words to thank you in, only I'll mind your offer and ask your help if ever I need it. Grandmother is set against it, but I like your help better than my uncle's. If I go to Edinburgh, will I have any chance of seeing you? just a sight now and then would do me good and cheer my heart a bit. I remain, Your obliged serrant, Kenneth Oswald. In a very short time from the date of this letter Kenneth was placed, by the advice of the minister, Mr. Lang, in a large academy in Edin- burgh, not as a boarder—that was scarcely con- sidered what would have satisfied his uncle George's ambition —but as a day scholar. He was boarded with a Mrs. Wishart, whom Mr. Shiel (the Writer to the Signet, who was in Mr. M'Diarmid's confidence) recommended to apply for the boy. She was the widow of a young advocate who had bid fair to rise to the highest walks in the profession, but who had died, leaving her with two young children to provide for. She had a good house in a good situation, and took boarders from the country who were either at school or college, and had an especially good con- nection among the legal profession. This recom- mended itself to Mr. Lang as preferable to a boarding-school, for Kenneth would benefit by living in the daily society of a gentlewoman, and acquire better manners among such students as she attracted to her house than he could do at any school. Mrs. Wishart had never had so young a boy as Kenneth, and at first was disposed to feel aggrieved at Mr. Shiel when she saw how countrified he looked and how broad his accent was. But Kenneth won upon her by his kindness to her little children, and he soon caught the sharper quicker mode of speech in use in the capital of Scotland, and he was so obliging and easily pleased that he soon became her favourite inmate, so that his youth, which promised a longer stay than was usual, was all in his favour. He had good abilities and steady application, and did fairly well at school—more than fairly, in Mrs. Wishart's opinion, because he was such a good all-round boy—a lover of play, a lover of exercise, and a lover of literature—a boy who made friends, and would never let his lessons prevent him from doing a kind thing, or going out of his way a good deal to serve a friend. When, at the age of sixteen, he was entered at "the College," as the ancient and famous University of Edinburgh is called in common parlance, he took and kept a very respectable place. But it was not his great special talents, or his turn for languages or for the exact sciences, that were his distinguishing characteristic. No- body recollected Kenneth Oswald as a sap or a crammer until the last year of his course, when he seemed to have some motive for extra exertion. He was just the pleasantest fellow who attended that three years' course, ready for any fun, and interested in everybody's affairs. To none of her other young friends, as she called them, could Mrs. Wishart confide her little anxieties about money matters, and about the future of Willie and Robina. There was no student there whom the old janitor so delighted to button-hole, and tell old stories about his exploits in the Crimean War; no one whom the Professors be relied on to help to keep order or discipline in case of any snowballing or other college row, or who had an equally good footing among his seniors and juniors. Mrs. Wishart confessed that her country lad grew into the best-looking and most gentle- manly-looking of those who accompanied her to church, and the grandparents and Nelly at each visit during the holidays congratulated them- selves on his height and his strength and his handsome appearance, and, above all, on the fact

that he would do credit to Uncle George's ex- penditure on him ; for he looked no more like the lads who had gone with him to the village school than if he had been brought up a gentle- man all his life. Kenneth's feelings with regard to his future career were not altogether in consonance with his uncle's plans and wishes. There was such a vagueness in Mr. George Oswald's letters ; there seemed to be no special directions to be given to his studies. He had written to know if his uncle would like him to study or to take special note of sheep or cattle or agriculture, if those would be of any service, but his uncle had said that if that was needed he'd learn better under him in Australia, for everything had to be learned afresh in a new country ; but what he wanted was the education and the manners of a gentle- man ; a " good hand of write, which he saw his nephew was cultivating, and some more count- ing" than he, George Oswald, had got. He was to learn all that was going at the school and the college—but not to be a book-worm—that was neither for use nor for ornament. If he could keep on outside of a horse, and hold the ribbons for a pair of spirited beasts, so much the better. His cousin Jim could do that first rate, and might not respect him as he should do if Kenneth was deficient there—there were horses and traps enough at Tingalpa. CHAPTER VI. RECOGNITION AND SEVERANCE. The liberality with which George Oswald had begun towards Kenneth and the old people never flagged ; indeed it increased, for he said he had prospered more ever since he made up his mind to do the right thing by them aIl. Gradually the Oswalds got into a better home with better furniture, and secured more help and attendance. The greatest stroke of businees for their comfort Kenneth thought he had executed just on the expiration of his first year at college, when he contrived that Nelly Lindores should leave the crowded, noisy, home where she was a slave to her stepmother and her half-brothers and sisters, and live altogether with his grandparents. This was effected by pro- mising not only current wages for the girl's services, but also hiring a stranger to perform Nelly's multifarious duties at home. Nelly, however, did not take the position of a servant, for she had a girl under her. She was like a dutiful granddaughter or niece, to be cheerful company to the aged couple, to watch over their health and obey their pleasure. The little, deft, quick-eyed maiden waited on the old folks cleverly, and brightened up the house. She wrote to Kenneth for them once a week to tell how all went on ; she read out so loud and clear that John Oswald said she was nigh hand as good as Kenneth for that. She found now some leisure to make herself a little smart, and to read the books Kenneth loved, and to try and understand the things he and his college friends were in- terested in. John Lindores saw the improve- ment in his lassie's look after her change, and, but that Kenneth was bound for a life in Aus- tralia, he would not have known what to think might be the upshot. When any of the neighbours ventured to hint to Mrs. Oswald that when Kenneth went to Melbourne he would be for taking Nelly with him, her indignation knew no bounds. Nothing of the sort, certainly! When Kenneth was in Australia, at his uncle's grand place at Tingalpa, where there were horses and carriages out of number, it would be some great Australian lady, some sister or daughter of the Governor, or the Members of Parliament, or the Judges of the land, that he would be taking up with, and not a country wright's daughter, that was glad of an up-putting with such as her and the good-man. The old lady's idea as to her son George's position rose with the receipt of every letter and every remittance. The family was a rising family everywhere, for the American son had taken to writing more regularly, and described a state of prosperity far beyond what he could have attained to in Scotland, but he had a very large family and needed all he had; in that different from George, who was as liberal as the day. Nelly heard many long narratives about these two boys, and others who had died in their early youth, and felt moderately interested in them, but she never could get the old lady to enter into particulars about her only daughter Isabel, except here and there in connection with Kenneth. Nelly naturally felt the strongest interest in Isabel ; she had always felt cheated in getting her present stepmother instead of the one she would have liked so much. And Kenneth used still to take the opportunity, in his holiday visits, of talking to Nelly as of old about his lost mother. His grandmother was as reticent to him as to Nelly. In her mind now Kenneth and her eldest son George were con- stantly connected; she barely acknowledged the fact that the uncle had a son, to whom he was far more dearly bound than to the unseen, unknown, nameless, nephew ; indeed the Aus- tralian grandson was very much ignored in all her visions of Kenneth's brilliant future. Somehow Mr. Oswald's letters seemed to accept Kenneth as his brother's son, and there never was the least mention of Isabel in connection with him; and when the old folks moved, shortly after Nelly's establishment with them, to a pretty village so near Edinburgh that Kenneth could occasionally walk out on Saturday to spend Sunday with them, he found that everywhere his position was accepted as that of the orphan son of that James Oswald who was lost at sea. Kenneth had had a good many gibes and jeers to undergo in the village school in early days, and he liked the Edinburgh home because he was quite free from them. If his mother had lived he would have got the truth from her, and all his full sympathy might have partly in- demnified her for years of solitary endurance ; but, as he grew up to manhood, he puzzled him- self long and vainly as to the subjects on which his grandparents were so close and so sensitive. No idea of Mr. M'Diarmid as his father entered his head until the second year at college had expired. He was so far above him, so far above anything that Isabel Oswald could have dreamt of. His kindly interest in Kenneth was suffi- ciently accounted for by the care and devotion which Isabel had lavished on his only sister, and the very perfection which Kenneth attributed to his patron excluded the idea that he could

have been a betrayer and deserter of bumble innocence. Once or twice Kenneth met casually with hia friend whom his grandmother had auch un generous ideas about. How handßome, how dis tinguished-looking he was, how kind were his looks and bearing 1 Mrs. Wishart knew something about him, and when she heard that Kenneth was interested in him she would speak of what an old family it was, and how he had rather married beneath him in point of position in allying himself to Miss Syme, who was said to be an heiress, but at any rate was a very nice girl, and her father and mother were very proud to talk about their daughter at Castle Diarmid. The day on whioh Kenneth's eyes were opened was a great day at Edinburgh University. A new Rector was just installed, and had been giving an inaugural address, and Kenneth saw on the platform near the person of the lecturer, to whom all eyes were turned, the face and form of his honoured patron. Just as he looked from behind his fellow-students, by whom he was partly concealed, he suddenly caught Mr. M'Diarmid's eye resting upon him with an interest and affec tion altogether beyond anything that goodwill towards himself or gratitude for his mother's services towards a dead sister could have called forth. The eyes met, and Mr. M'Diarmid, the finished, collected, gentleman, flushed visibly at the questioning yearning glance of the tall lad, whose mother seemed to look out of his eyes and quiver in his lips. Kenneth, too, flushed, and then turned as pale as death, and leaned against the corner of the Hall to support himself. Close behind Mr. M'Diarmid stood a fair strip ling, undoubtedly bis son and heir. It was not the heirship, but the nearness, the countenance, the thousand memories and hopes and expecta tions that twined these two together, that Ken neth envied. It was not what his father might do to further his own fortunes or position that he longed for ; it was what he might have done for his father, that was forbidden under these cruel circumstances, that wrung hia heart. " When he is old, that is the arm he will lean on ; when he is troubled, that is the company that will cheer him. In his joy, that lad will rejoice ; in his sorrow, he his a right to grieve. He will stand by him through life, and on his deathbed he will close his eyes, and there is nothing for me to do; no place where I can stand to help or to console." Thus, in the bitter* ness of his heart, Kenneth communed with his own soul, and his friend Henry Stalker, who stood near, wondered what had come over him. How long the subsequent proceedings appeared ! When all was over, he was hurrying out to take a long solitary walk before he could face either Btalker or Mrs. Wishart, when he met Mr. M'Diarmid's eye again. It was a glance of com mand, and it arrested him. He observed that he committed the fair atrippling to the care of a white-haired gentleman, probably his grandfather, and went straight towards the darker, older, lad. A kind hand was laid on his shoulder, a kind voice fell upon his ear. The sense of isolation and of severance from parental love and filial duty vanished at that magio touch, but the heart was too full for words. " Kenneth, my boy, yon are not well. Come with me." • And he led the way to the familiar hotel where they had dined together yean ago, and from which they had sallied on that never to-be-forgotten walk. No word was spoken till they got into a private room, and Mr. M'Diar mid shut the door. He took the lad's hands in his own, and, with an expression of tenderness such as Kenneth had never seen on human face since he had lost his mother, watched the vain efforts to swallow back the gathering tears and choking sobs which shook his whole frame. "It was a crowd. It was very hot—there is really nothing the matter with me. Don't vex yourself about me," said Kenneth, speaking with short pauses as he found voice, endeavouring to regain hia self-command. In the large mirror over the mantelshelf both facet were reflected; Kenneth's was aged by Us emotion, Mr. M'Diarmid's made perhaps more youthful by sympathy; and the likeness between them even in countenance, which was not noticeable at other times, came out startlingly to both. " How can I help vexing myself ? How can I bnt feel your grief? How can I help feeling humbled in your eyes and in my own ? Only try to forgive me, Kenneth, my son, my son. Tour mother did." At this allusion to bis mother, the tears could so longer be repressed. " What have I to for give, sir ? Only, only I cannot help being doubly sorry that I have lost her, and cannot get you," and he raised his father's hand to his lips. " And I can never get you, because it would only hurt you if such as I took it upon me to serve you. But don't grieve about it I'll get over it I got over her dying, and that was worst of all. And I am going to Australia in a year, and it will be all the same. Why need you grieve for me T" " Don't be too cruel to me, Kenneth. Qive me the right to grieve in your grief." And, in the affecting words of Scripture, Norman M'Diar mid fell on his son's neck and kissed him, and they wept sore. When he had thus given vent to long-repressed affection and emotion, he tried to resume the conversation in a calmer tone. " And you are doing well, I hear. Mr. Shiel gives a good account of you." " Nothing out of the way, sir. If I could take a degree, or anything like that, would it make any difference t" "If it is nothing out of the way, I hear that your progress and your conduct have both been very satisfactory, and that yon will do credit to your Uncle George." " Oh! to Uncle George, I dare say; but if mother had only lived I think I might have done more; or if it could have brought me just a little nearer to you ;" and the beseeching eyes pleaded bard. Mr. M'Diarmid winced. " But the studies are good in themselves, are they not ? I hear that mental and moral philosophy is your favourite study, though you do well afi through." " T«s, that interests me most, because I think it might throw some light on the best way of Irving; and that has always seemed to me of more service than things to be learned and known. Ton must not think that I do not like the college, or that I am ungrateful to Uncle George for what be is doing for me ; but just this day it seemed like apples of Sodom."

"When do you go to Australia, Kenneth!" said his father after a pause. " Next year I reckon on starting for an un known life. But do not be angry with me if I ask a question. Was not that your son that was standing alongside of you who went out with the old gentleman V " Tea, Kenneth, my Bon ; that was your brother, Norman." " And you've no need of me; I thould be glad ; but, oh 1 it feels hard to come all on me at once. But, thank God, you have called me your son." " My Bon, my first-born." " And I may love you as muoh as"—— " As muoh as you can, Kenneth." " And that is much ; but"—— " But you regret the severance; yon cannot regret the severance more than I do. But, my dearest boy, your position in Australia as your uncle's helper and honoured kinsman is far better for yourself than any recognition I could give you ; and any notice I might take of you could only injure you with those who deserve your love and rightfully olaim your services. It is hard to say it, but it must be said—You must go your way in the world, and leave me to mine; only do it as kindly towards me as possible. You are young and impressible ; I pray God you may never be placed in circumstances of such temptation as your mother and I were in. They say that the punishment of such sin is very un equal. To the world's eyes it is. What my, Isabel had to bear I can guess. She made no complaint to me, but she wrote to me with her dying hand that she had not been unhappy through it all, for Bhe felt God had forgiven her when He sent her so good a son as you ; when she could do everything for you, and was all the world to you. How could you have served me better than by being suoh a son to her ? How can Ibe grateful enough to you for this ? And can I be called prosperous and unpunished when lam not able to do anything for you; when I cannot claim your duty; cannot take pride in your progress; when even the poor money help I entreated to be allowed to give has been rejected; and your mother's despised kin are educating my unowned son as well as I could educate the heir to my name and estates, and keeping that son apart from me as if my touch were poison ? Your mother made every sacrifice she could for me. I apparently can make none. Kenneth, do you feel a little for me! Can you forgive me, my son!" The young man knelt reverently at bis father's feet—"As heartily as I hope to be forgiven my* sell Only bless me, me also loh I my father/ "May our heavenly Father bless my dear son, and guide him in life and death I" said Norman M'Diarmid, solemnly. This explanation seemed to tranqufllise both father and son. The father could not go back to his earnest memories of bis boy, but be led Kenneth to go back to bis first memories of bis mother, and his life with her. Seen through thehu) of years, it seemed a lovely pastoral idyll—the life of those two so wrapped up in each other. Kenneth knew of no soorn or reproach whioh bis mother encountered, and Norman M'Diarmid felt her words corroborated by the description of the happy life he had led, the walks and talks and books and plans. Informa tion he had been thirsting to obtain for eighteen years as to how that severed life had flowed apart from him came naturally from Kenneth. Painful as the interview and explanation bad been for both, both felt very glad it had taken place. The father felt indescribably relieved as to the past, and hopeful for the future career of his son; and Kenneth was overpowered, oppressed, and yet strangely proud. " Surely," he thought to himself, " in the many years of life probably in store for both of us, I may do something for him, something to show that I am worthy to be called his son." (to bk contiitoxd.)

Apnjkd Theology.—At a meeting of the Woburn Conference, Farmer Allen, of Wakefleld, related the following anecdote:—On Sunday morning, while a oertain deaoon was preparing for church, a wandering wayfarer, or, in modern parlance, a tramp, appeared at his door, pleaded hit hunger, and begged for something to eat. The deacon looked solemn and frowningly, but reluctantly got a loaf of bread and began to out it; but while doing so took ocoaaion to admonish the beggar concerning the error of his ways. After reminding him that it was the holy Sab. bath which he waa desecrating, he asked him if he knew how to pray. "No," was the reply. 11 Then," said the deaoon, " I'll learn yon f and he commenced to repeat the Lord's prayer. But just as he uttered the first words, " Oar Father," the beggar interrnpted him with the question, "What, is he your father and mine too?" " Yes," the deaoon replied. « Why," ezolaimed the beggar, "we are brothers, then, ain't we? Can't you cut that slice a little thicker f— Albany Argut. "Powerful" Prkaohino at aPbbiiuk.—The Highlander's idea of a preacher was given to a gentleman not long ago, who said to him : MI have heard that your present minister is a superior man to your old crony, Mr. L . I am told he is a better scholar, a deeper divine, a more ornate preacher—in fact, a person much superior in every respect bat one—he does not roar so loudly." "Roar, sir I That's a' the difference in the world, sir. It may do weel eneuch wi' you and ither college-bred folk to hear fine-spun sermons, and listen to polished flitches of what ye ca' classic eloquence; but this will not do wi' a real Highlander, sir. Na, na, sir ; we maun hae something mair than this, sir ; we maun hae a man that can speak out, sir —a man that can fecht in the poopit—a man that can flyte, sir—a man that can shake his neive at ye, sir—a man, sir, that can ca' ye names —in fact, sir, a man that can fricht yel The motto of some office-holders (remarks the Norrittown Herald) appears to be, " If you earn $5 a day, save $50 of it" This will explain why some of them leave a $3000 office at the expira tion of two years, with $100,000 saved. Some persons suppose they accumulate their wealth in a dishonest manner, whereas they merely adopt a motto and stick to it Dr. Watts sings that" birds in their little nest agree," but London ornithologist boldly asserts that there are as many domestic rows in birds' nests as among the barnyard fowls. The smallest bird usually is the noisiest and fiercest.