Chapter 20710512

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Chapter NumberXIII
Chapter Title
Chapter Url
Full Date1881-10-22
Page Number521
Word Count6718
Last Corrected0000-00-00
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.

"YOU'VE been much longer with Mr. Oswald than there was the least occasion for," said the mistress of the house. "Nobody manages him so well as Mick, and the less he's interfered with

the better. I never look near him myself.' I sup* pose the Bmoking-room is in a horrid mess. All the rest of the house has got a thorough turn-up, and been cleaned from top to bottom. With both Mr. Oswald and Jim out of the way, it is a good opportunity to get the girls set to work, instead of their idling their time and carrying on and flirting with the men about; and I think you will find it hard to see a speck of dust out of Mr. Oswald's den. All gentlemen hate to Bee cleaning, but they growl if it ain't done. I hope you are fond of b&ique, for it is the only amuse ment I can offer you." This was one thing Mrs. Oswald oould do, and was fond of; not that Bhe was by any means a good player, but she liked to take a hand, and was leu languid over it than at anything else. The magazines she spoke of as her only reading were simply fashion journals, where Bhe studied the costumes and the fancy work, and ordered imitations from Melbourne, but Bhe did not read even the serial tales and short stories which were continued with those interesting matters. She did not sew, she did not knit. She had servants enough to do all the household work, and Bhe liked to come out upon them to see that things were not alighted, and that they gave her all their time. She occasionally went into the kitchen to cook special dishes, when she required a great deal of waiting on, and called attention to their excellence when they came to table. And she thoroughly enjoyed her meals, of which ?he had five every day, unmoved by the increas ing stoutness which made her more trying to fit, and was a great grievance «/ her dressmaker. When the substantial tea was followed by an equally substantial supper, only with wine and beer substituted for the milder beverage, she did as great justice to it, and, after expressing sur prise that Kenneth could not follow her example, she had another game at bezique, took her candle, said good-night, and went to bed for her customary sleep of ten hours. Mick O'Hearn, who had some sharpness and ?ome sympathy, had perceived that the new comer felt his first evening at Tingalpa a very trying one. He brought Kenneth a cigar, one of his master's very best, and when it was de clined with thanks, as he did not smoke, Mick looked on him a little puzzled as to how he could be worked upon. "Try it, sir; there's nothing that quietens one like tobacco. The master's been blowing me up and blackguarding me because I think it's time he pulled up, and after such bullyrag ging I felt like to fly out in the kitchen at every mother's son and daughter of them, till Biddy she put the pipe in my mouth with a Bmile, after she hai just touched it wid her rosy lips and, faith, the first whiff was like magic. The master will be all right in two or three days, but the horrors is to come, and my hands 'ill be full trying to get him square without a fall-back, which is worse than the first plunge ; and if so be as you would take a run to the outstation at Cowarrel and stop a few days with the manager, then I think I'd get him straight faster, for he'll be asking for you, and the fewer he seeß the better." " But what would Mrs. Oswald say ?" asked Kenneth. " Oh ! Bhe takes everything mighty asy, least ways what does not touoh her own skin or her own stomach, as Biddy says," answered Mick. " And what would the manager say ?" * Th« sole right to pnbliah " Gathered In" in Qneent ?nd fan been Kcared bjr the proprietors of the Quteiu ttxeur.

" He'd be aa pleased as Punch to see you, and if you're agreeable I'll send the lad with you and the pair of grays. I'd not trust him or you wid the bays till I know how you can handle the ribbons ; but the grays will do." Kenneth felt very grateful for Mick's sug gestion. To get away even for two or three days to people to whom he was not bound, about ftrhose conduct he might be indifferent, to have a little breathing apace in which to plan his future work, was a boon too precious to be re jected. "And you must not judge of the master by what you saw to-night There's no better head in the Castlehurst district than his, barring tEe brandy, and the heart is in the right place. It's a pity your arriving was so contrairy. He'll be vexed when he comes to himself ; but say as little as your can. Let's hope he'll disromember it" Mick had planned a very early Btart for Mr. Kenneth, but the latter thought he must explain thiDgs to Mrs. Obwald first. She would have preferred his company, for she felt a little dull; but it was notto be supposed that a lady who took advantage of her husband's deep solitary carouse, and her son's absence with questionable company, to give her house a thorough cleaning, would feel the departure of her strange nephew vecy keenly. She merely hoped that on his return he would find Jim at home, and Mr. Oswald himself, and in the meantime she had found a recipe for making curry, indiau fashion, in the cookery oolumn of her latest fashion journal, which she would try to carry out, and would have it perfect by the time she collected her family round her. Mr. Oswald always liked something hot and relish ing when he took to eating after ten days of drinking. " The master's taken the turn," said Mick, aa he saw the new arrival into the buggy. " You'll find him quite compos when ye come baok, and ready to tell you all his plans. Faith, and he'll find you a comfort to him, and maybe you'll be the salvation of Mr. Jim, for he's getting himself mixed up wid the dirty lot at that Castlehurst" Kenneth found bis uncle a very different man whun he returned from Cowarrel, and he him self had gathered some strength to face hi* difficulties. The primary objeot whioh his uncle had in view—the teaching or reclaiming his son —appeared to the young man likely to be as great a failure as Harry Stalker would have pre dicted, but surely it was possible for him to make himself useful in other ways than that chalked out for him by his uncle and aunt. His training and tastes had be n towards languages, literature, and metaphysics ; but of what use was the culture he had received and the thinking he had done if they could not make him stronger in all directions ? He must school himself now differently, learn from his uncle and his employe's all about sheep and cattle and horses, study the meteorological tables, and turn his ingenuity towards increasing or saving the water supply with as little outlay as possible. The narrative of the intelligent overseer at Cowarrel of the heavy losses during the last drought interested him greatly, and he listened attentively to his suggestions for better pre parations for the next bad season, so as to re duce the losses to a minimum. If he did no other good, he delighted Robert Home by the respectful attention he paid to all he said, and as he had known something of rural affairs as a boy, and had kept up his interest in them in his holidays, he took up the points of a bullock or a sheep, or the feeding qualities of grass and saltbusb, in a very creditable manner for a new chum, especially for a new chum fresh from the college. " Mr. Oswald is a keen man, no doubt," aaid the overseer, "and can drive a hard bargain; but he's not a bad sort He sticks to his word when he's once given it. And he knows a good servant when he has got him. He never in terferes with my management If I dismiss a hand, he need never carry tales to the master. If I say a man't worth having, he'd never doubt my judgment, even though the man was as surly to himself as a bear with a sore head. Now Mr. Jim is the very opposite ; he'll never fill his father's shoes, and if he was much at Cowarrel I'd lose every man on the place. It's all his father can do to keep the Tingalp* hands together. For ever on his high horse, for ever on the find-fault, taking men from their regular work to run after him and his whimsies. But he's far keener to go and spend his time and his money at Castlehurst than to trouble us at the out-station." "It is a pity that he's an only son," said Kenneth. " That's true; and of course he has money to spend and little wit to guide him. I wonder the master did not have you out sooner." "He wished me to complete my education first" " You'll find Mr. Jim both very backward and very unwilling to push on. He may be able to read, that I cannot speak for, but, as for writing, it's just awful." " Oh, writing is easily learned," said Kenneth, " and nobody thinks that of so much consequence as other matters." Robert Home prided himself on his caligraphy, and attached great importance to what his master called "a good hand of write." He saw, too, that this Edinburgh student, who was taking dawn notes of various matters, wrote a clear bold hand, and made capital figure*, and reckoned up in his head quickly and accurately, and he thought it was mere modesty on his part to depreciate these good gifts. He tried Kenneth on horseflesh, and found that he kept his seat, except with a buckjumper, which was scarcely to be expected of a new comer. They wentover the run together, and he showed the tyro the marks of inferiority in shape or vigour, or even ness or fineness, of wool, which condemned the animal to be culled out and sold, and not bred from, so that the high character of the flocks and of the staple should be kept up and improved. He made Kenneth acquainted with the men, with the horses and the dogs, and pointed out the distinguishing characteristics of each with the delight of laying down the law to a perfectly fresh and appreciating listener. " You'll do, Mr. Kenneth; I see you'll da Beast or body, you see the way to manage them, and get the best out of them, whereas that poor lad, Mr. James, if he takes even a horse or a dog

in hand be spoils them, sure as fate. He has a great dowu on me, I know, and you'll hear him full of complaints about my management. He'd like to see me turned off, and a smoother tongued man put in my place ; but Mr. Oswald he'B satisfied, and that is enough for me." Chaptkb XIV. OBOBOS OSWALD IN A DIFFERENT ASPECT. When Kenneth returned to the head station the master of Tingalpa was sitting clothed and in his right mind, not in the Bmokiug-room, which was undergoing a purification, but iv tho room meant to be the library. The room was fitted up with shelves which were mostly empty, but some had newspapers on them, while on othtrs were laid guns, pistols, seeds, specimens from quartz reefs, of wool in great vaiiety, and a few stuffed birds and reptileß. Mr. Oswald had not altogether recovered from the effects of his debauch ; hia eyes were still dull, and his face of an unhealthy pallor, and his hands scarcely so steady as they were at his beat; but there was so very great an improve ment that Kenneth's hopes rose. He was a little above the middle height and strongly made ; his face lighted up at the sight of his nephew, and he threw down the back numbers of the Argus, which had been unopened during his seclusion, and shook hands heartily with Kenneth, alto* gether ignoring the fact of bis having Been him before. Jim was standing with his back to his cousin, taking out from one of the shelves a gun which he wanted to get Mick to clean for him, and looking out supplies of powder and shot for a day's sport. Mrs. Oswald was sitting doing nothing, only occasionally looking out of the window at the tame magpie which was anxious to get in. " I'm very glad to see you, Kenneth—a pleasant voyage I hope—and aa usual the Kent up to her time. Jim gained a hat on it. Here he is ; not so tall as you, and not so bookish, but keen with his gun, as you Bee. Shake hands with your cousin, Jim," said George Oswald, in much better English than he had spoken under the influence of brandy. Jim reluotlantly turned round and gave his hand. "So you, too, made a bet on the Kent; there were a dozen beta on board as to her keeping her time," said Kenneth. " I wanted something to make np to me for it* coming to interfere with my sport, aa my father says it wilL But I'm off for today any* how." "No, Jim, stop here. I've something to say to you both, and the sooner it is done the better. And what do you think of Cowarrel and Robert Home, Kenneth t" " I have liked my visit very much. I hope I have learned something from your overseer. I certainly felt very greatly interested in what he told me." "Heis a fellow to jaw," said Jim. " And for conceit there is not his match. All jaw and no work. I'd give him the saok if I was father." " Luckily you are not," said Mr. Oswald, drily. "He looks after his own interest anyhow." said Jim. "He never negleots mine," said his father, emphatically, "and I am glad you like him, Kenneth. And now, I must tell you what I want you to do for James, and I want you, Mrs. Oswald, to bear it too, that there need be no mistake or misapprehension about it fur the future. You, Kenneth, are nearly three yeara older than Jim, and have had the best education money could buy. Tou are to take him in hand and make him mind you for his own good. Order what books you want from Melbourne, settle the hours he's to give to learning, and these hours he must abide by. But that is not all; it's a companion he needs even more than a teacher. Where he goes, you, Kenneth, must go with him ; what he does, take note of—if it is right, keep him up to it, if it is wrong tell him the truth about it—l want no toadeating flatterer beside my son, who will take my money for leading him to destruction, as that scoundrel Johnson did. I want a cheery young fellow, who has pluck and strength and sense to hold his own. Keep Jim from the dice-box, the brandy bottle, aad other evils, and make a man and a gentleman of him. Don't gloom that way, Jim. You promised, when you ran away from the Scotch College, that you would learn at home from your cousin, and no doubt he'll have s> pleasanter way of teaching than the masters there." James Oswald looked with a determined scowl on his face at the young cousin thus invested with supreme authority; not merely a tutor, though that was bad enough, but an eavesdropper and a spy to dog bis steps and report his conduct He had got the better of his other tutors by fair means or by foul, but this near relative, who was bo much bigger than himself, would be harder to manage, especially as the governor's back was up as Jim had never seen it before. Mrs. Oswald stared in blank amaaement at the Announcement of the subordinate position Jim was to hold—but behind her surprise there wss the feeling that, however his father might order, Jim had always contrived to wriggle out somehow and have his own way. Kenneth felt he must support his uncle, and assert bis dignity, Jbhoughhehadbut slender confidence in hissuccess. "Iv two years' time," said Mr. Oswald, deliberately, "he should be fit to go to the University, as they call it here, and there's no saying but he may set the Yarra on fire yet. It is no want of wit, it'B the will that's been want ing. He's young yet, and you've been well trained to the work; promise me to undertake it" The idea of preparing a youth of this descrip tion for Melbourne University in two years was somewhat appalling, especially in the face of such reluctance on his part. Kenneth, between the gravity of the charge and the despair of success, fell into the worst possible blunder he could have made with all three of his Australian relatives. " I shall do all that I can, but I fear you ex peot far too much from one who has had no ex perience in teaching. I shall do all I can, and if my cousin will also do all that he can we may do a great deal, but not what you calculate on. What is two years when there has been no pre vious study, and no habits of attention and application formed ?" " You could do a great deal in two yean your self," said Mr. Oswald.

" But I have scarcely been absent a day from school since I was six years old," said Keuneth. " Well, it is only to make Jitn fit to begin at nineteen what you went in for at sixteen, and he has a good headpiece, only there was never a tutor here worth his salt to make him Btiok to the books. I expected more good will from you. Kenneth." "Good-will certainly, and if my cousin will only add his good-will to mine we may do wondera. But the cleverest engineer in the world cannot mnke water run up hill; the matter is infinitely more in my cousin's power than mine." "Then you run counter to me?" said Mr. Oswald in a tone of the deepest disappointment. " Not at all. I'll do my very best I'll try to follow every instruction you give to me, and I hope that you, James, will help me, for it will be so much pleaaantcr for both of us." " Well," said Mr. Oswald, " this is the room that you can be the king of for the future ; thia v the nay and the hour that you can make a beginning. James, lay down that gun, and biing Kenneth the books you had at the Scotch College, and let him see what you can do, and what ye canna. I've put my foot down this day, and you may gloom as you like, but I'll hold you to your bargain, and not a single sixpence you shall have, or a debt at Caatlehurst paid, if you do not mind your books. Your whole allowance depends on your conduct. It will do you good to have to earn what< you spend, though it is an easier way than your father before you had to do it. I'll stop here till you get out the books, but no longer." Jxmeß slowly went for the books ; his father kept his eye on the door till he returned with them, and then, leading his astonished wife out of the room, he left the young tutor master of the field. Chapter &V. UP-HILL WORK. That James Oswald's ignorance was well-nigh absolute, was no surprise to his cousin. What could he possibly have learned? He never opened a book or even read the current news in the newspapers, and had no society which would improve him. How he could make out the racing news and the odds which hia mother said interested him so muob, was a puzzle to Kenneth, for he could not read aloud a sentence* of English without serious blunders, and of the ordinary rules of arithmetic he appeared to know nothing. His writing was as inelegant as his spelling was incorrect, and of ordinary matters, which are familiar to the schoolboy of ten, this lad of seventeen was perfectly ignorant. Was there any way of awakening curioeity, of arousing ambition, of breathing some soul into this clod ? Had he any affection for either of his parents, or for any one ? Kenneth tried to get his cousin to talk, but for that Jim had no inclination. He was not going to speak to a spy and a tell-tale 1 Kenneth next tried to talk to him, but the pleasantness which had made him so popular in Edinburgh and on board the Kent seemed altogether at fault here. No topic could interest him at all. His Scottish grandparents and their interest in Tingalpa and its inmates ; what did he care for old fogies whom he had never seen and never wished to see? Edinburgh and its sights— perfectly Btolid. The voyage—equally unin terested. The theatricals, with which he had amused Jim's mother, were pooh-poohed as mere amateurs' performances that no one used to Castlehurst or Melbourne professionals would care sixpence to see. The landing at Melbourne —one little spark of interest was elicited here. " And what do you think of Melbourne ?" said Jim. "A wonderful city for its age. Handsome, busy, and with beautiful suburbs. To me, how* ever, it looked painfully new." A coarse laugh was the first sign given that Jim cared for what his cousin had been saving. "That is the best of Melbourne," said he. "None of your old mouldy buildings with no end of lying Btories about them, but all spick and span new. If a house gets shabby it is pulled down and another put up in its place. In time it will lick all the cities of England into a cocked hat. There's some life in Melbourne. If I'd only lost my bet, as I wanted to, we'd have had a run down to meet you, but the governor reckoned on his spree first, and was out in his calculations for once. Rum notion of enjoyment the governor has ! I take my pleasure different to him. And now he'll not move to Melbourne for months, he says. He's ohalked out some sickening work for me, and you and him will be sick enough of it before you're done with it. I wish you and the Kent had gone to the bottom. The fishes might have had the benefit of your cram, and welcome." "There go two worda to that bargain, my good fellow. I prefer dryer quarters, even Cowarrel in a bad season," said Kenneth. " With Bob Home's dryest speeches for amuse* ment. But I tell you once for all that I'm not going to slave and work like a nigger because the governor thinks it will make a gentleman of me. It'B the rhino that makes the gentleman nowadays, and there's plenty of that. Now just hear reason ; let us settle how little I am to do, just for appearance sake. And, as for your poking your nose into my business, I tell you plainly I'll have none of it It's all very well for the old cock, who takes bis grog wholesale, and makes a beast of himself two or three times a year, to say I'm to keep clear of the brandy bottle ; and for him that has had the game of making a fortune to tell you to watch that I don't handle the dice-box—it was on his tongue's end to say the billiard-table too, but he thought that was rather too strong—but a man must have some way of risking money to win or lose, or life would be as flat as ditchwater. I tell you I've been ÜBed to have my own way, and I'm going to have it. You look like a milksop, and I hear you are a teetotaller, and I've no doubt you are a hypocrite. What's your figure ?' " Nothing that you could offer," eaid Kenneth, " would make me disregard your father's wishes." "And you will find I'll make the place pretty hot for you." "I don't care in the least for what you threaten." " Acd you mean to foil m me about ?" " I shall try to carry out your futher'a withes." " And report to him ?" " Whatever ho asks I shall answer to the beat of my knowledge."

" I wish you joy of your poet You'll wish you were back in ' Auld Reekie,' as my father calls it, ten times in the half hour." " That's likely enough. I wish it now, but that makes not the slightest difference to my duty." " Duty !" Boid Jim, iv a tone of the deepest disgust. " Well I suppose you are not twenty, and you speak about duty as if I believed you cared a hang about it. Well, I'll learn as little as I can. It will save you trouble to knowitatthe first." " Tou will find it the wiser course, and cer tainly tbe more profitable courße, to try to please your father. Tou will find learning more in teresting if you will give it a fair trial." " That'B all according to taste. I believe you spoke a true word about water running up hill, though I had a mind to thrash you for your damned conceit all the same." Poor Jim, with his slight figure, his puny limbs, and his general want of vigour, caused by pre cocious drinking, smoking, and late hours, was much more able to talk of Buch thrashing than likely to attempt it. " Pray, what the better are you now for all the years you've been at this Bickening work ?" resumed he with a glance of disgust at the school books which, though they had nob been used, had been abused with splashes of ink and gashes of knives so that they looked to have seen some service. ' " I hope I am a gr9at deal the better, and I am sure I am very much the happier for what I know." "Well, and you bring all this rot out here when I've seen the best soholara—men with a degree—(which you could not get, for all you tried, as the governor let out one day) knock about hands on stations, or loafing at Castlehurst, glad to get their grub and a glass of brandy from men that did not know their ABC. No ;" said James with the profound conceit of ignorance, MI could buy a score of them with a keg of brandy and a pound of tobacco. And tbe governor knows that as well as I do, for all he preaches to me before you, and be hanged to you." Kenneth had certainly up-hill work enough to discourage a more experienced instructor and an older man. A stupid unwilling boy in a school learns unconsciously something from his com panions, and the teacher has the bright boys to push on and encourage hie labours ; but the hammering at a single, dull, refactory, spoiled lad in the very lowest depth to which a conscien tious man could be condemned. But with incredible pains and trouble, and George Oswald's own firm keeping to bis word •bout money, he effected something. Jim did learn to read better, to write legibly, to spell Imperfectly, and to cast accounts somewhat better than the other branches, for he really wanted to understand the odds, and to bet with more precise information than he had done here tofore. Kenneth did not keep him long at work ; the poor head could not stand any continued atten tion even to elementary learning; but the main thing that he wished to effect waß to give him some taste for innocent amusement, and some Interest in books or pictures or gardening or the working of the station. All Jim's ideas of recreation or fun were connected with public houses, theatres, and general spending of money among low company, and when his cousin tried to interest him in books of the lightest descrip tion Jim only experienced varieties of weatiness. He tried him with a sporting novel, but, except for the tit-bits about races and matches, the rest was all " rot" Tbe love passages and the description "were not business." He tried him with a schoolboy book, but it was babyish ; with a cleverly illustrated child's book, it was twaddle; with ballad poetry, which is the earliest of literature, but it was stuff; with the drama, but that was no use read—the theatre, with the dresses and the scenery and the stars and the bar and smoking room, was more like the thing. Yes, he liked the Melbourne theatre and the Castlehurst theatre, when there was anything good en. He laughed very heartily at a modern comic Bong with a good choruß sung in a music hall or in the Shades, especially if it was sung in character with a good get-up; but, as for seeing any fun in the finest jokes printed in a book, that was beyond him. Would not he like to act—to take a part in some private theatricals ? Too much trouble, far better to pay other people to act for him ; bat yet this suggestion ireceived more attentioa than any other that Kenneth had made, and Mrs. Oswald took up the idea and interested herself in the costumes, and proposed to invite their neighbours the Deanes and the Robertaeß. It was of no use thinking of inviting the Grays, of Wilta. Miss Deane and her brother were glad to take parts, Mick and Biddy were easily drilled for the two Irish servants in the little farce which was selected, Kenneth took a heavy part fend doubled another, and Jim, in the handsomest clothes of the party, did the walking gentleman. With much coaching from his cousin and several rehearsals, Jim got his part and his cues fairly, and the piece went off pleasantly enough. It was not much towards the matriculation, but it might be something towards education to get him to do such things ; but after the perform ance Jim rested on his laurels. He could do theatricals as well as any one—indeed his mother thought he far surpassed his cousin, whose two parts were taken in shabby clothes ; but it was two much to go through to effect bo little. He liked to " blow" about his acting, and hqw many speeches he had to learn, and how pat he had them, but there was no further result. The enforced companionship of the two cousins was to both a painful restraint, but there is no doubt that it kept Jim for tbe time out of much mischief. If he had had his living to earn there might have been some hope for the lad, but as the only Bon of George Oswald he saw not the slightest cause for exertion or the least motive for ambition. His father was devoured with the wish to rise in the social scale, and to mix with his betters in birth and breeding, but Jim liked the Bociety of his inferiors, where he was the king of tbe company, and where he could feel that he or his father (which was the same thing) oould buy them all up. As, in Bpite of his pride of purse, he never was conscious that his cousin looked up to him one whit, he felt the constant association with him a galling chain, and lost no opportunity of saying so to him. In one respect Kenneth's visit was not dis appointing to his uncle and aunt; they were visited by some of the neighbours who had held

aloof before, but with none of them oould Kenneth himself find the companionship he lunged for. Neither the Deanes uor the Huberts** hhd any intelligent tastes. He was suffering so keenly from intellectual isolation, as well as from a phase of religious difficulty, that his inner life was almost unendurable. Fifty times in a week was he tempted to go to bis uncle and request to be allowed to go as an usher in a school or as a clerk in a bank or a warehouse, or as a shepherd on a station, anything rather than continue in this miserable position of bear-warder without the effective command of the bear. But his uncle thought he was really doing Jim good, and hated the idea of parting with him. Kenneth, too, got attached to Mr. Oswald, and gradually found out methods of serving him which, though far less important, were more satisfactorily carried out. And he knew that as his uncle grew older there would be more for a young active willing helper to do in various ways. Although Mrs. Oswald's jealousy was sometimes aroused at the praises bestowed by her husband on his nephew, and at the invitations he received and the preference shown to him over Jim by the neighbours, Bhe fouud him very obliging and helpful in many ways, and made no active effort to oust him. Slowly and drearily the days, months, and years passed by, varied by occasional visits to Melbourne, where the desire for liberty became almost maddening, and several hard drinking bout? on the part of Mr. Oswald, which even Kenneth thought a much less evil than the con stant glasses of beer, wine, and spirits, from which all his efforts failed to keep the son. It was Kenneth's birthday; he was of age, and he was more than usually gloomy. No one ; knew or cared about it, he had no inheritance to ? look for, no motker now to take pride in her handsome boy. And his father—their fates were apart, apart for ever. If the Australian life bad been as happy as his father had hoped it would be, he would have written ; but it was so much harder than he could have feared, that he thought it better to let Mr. M'Diarmid think all was well, and that he accepted the severance as the best and wisest course. But in this love less house how his heart yearned for the love he could not claim 1 Hard thoughts came into hiß heart: such a wish that ho had never been born, such an impatience of the interminable hours that led to nothing—of the efforts renewed every day without any good results—such a weariness of this thankless task, such an eager desire to shuffle off this mortal coil altogether, if be could do it without sin. Who would miss him? The grandparents were just as well and comfortable without him. His uncle would cease to expect impossibilities and to entertain hopes from his influence over Jim which could never be realised ; his aunt and cousin would be better pleased if he went out of their sphere altogether, into the grave, or anywhere else. Here was Nelly's letter just received, cheerful about the old folks, chatty about the kind neigh bours, and effusive about a recent visit from Mr. Stalker, who had gone with her to the Linleath woods in memory of the old times, who had lent her some books, and had executed Kenneth's commission about her birthday present so beauti fully. It was so good of him to mind her. She had been at the old home lately, and thought much of the old days when Kenneth had taken her to Bchool, and of the still older times when the three of them had those lovely walks on the Saturday afternoons. " Nelly would miss my letters, and Harry too/ thought Kenneth, " but except for that monthly communication I am completely taken out of their lives. They could not miss me much. And there's Harry trying to delay the evil day, and complaining of his hard fate. He hat shrunk from the appointment as assistant and successor to his great uncle, and gone on teach ing and writing in Edinburgh, but the old man's health was failing, and he must make up his mind soon. And he is not satisfied with the prospect of an assured livelihood in a rural parish, where everyone will look up to him, where he can preach thoughtful and eloquent sermons, and do a little work for the Press ; not at all satisfied. He is too speculative to be satis fied with set creeds and crystallised opinions ; too honest with himself to think himself a guide for young and old ; and filled with a wild desire to have his fling out before he settles down, and that fling forbidden by the restraints of his pro* fession. The proviiion made by his many friends for his future comfort appears to be as cruel kindness as in my case, but he is not starred intellectually and morally as I am. He has many friends with whom to change ideas; he reads, he writes, he thinks ; I seem to forget that I ever had any intellectual power or ambition at aIL" On that birthday he sat down and wrote a long letter to his father, in whioh he gave vent to all his feelings, and described the colourless life, the difficult duties, the religious despondency, the intellectual stagnation. Ha poured oat all the affection which he had felt for his dead mother to this father, whom he could have loved so warmly and obeyed so loyally if it had been allowed, but from whom he was severed so com pletely ; and in the act of writing he felt he was gaining some sympathy, and would go on hence forward with more courage. After he had finished the letter, he set fire to it and reduced it to ashea. As he watched the last red sparks wander and expire, the futility of all such make-believes, either to his father on earth or in heaven, fell heavy on him, and leaning his face in his hands in his solitary room he groaned in the bitterness of his souL "If he knew it what could he do for me ? He cannot step out of hisown sphere to lend a friendly hand to pluck me out of this slough of despond. No, let him serenely move in hiß own orbit, and, if be casts a glance towards me, let him continue to think that I have been caught up in an in ferior system more suited to me—perhaps really bettor for me—than bin own. Why should I undeceive him ? And it is the same with prayer. I may relieve my own feelings for a moment, but I can call down no efficient help. 'On the hills l^ke gods together, careless of mankind,' that is all we can hope for from the Higher powers. I must make out the two years, however, that were thought to fit Jim for matriculation. After that I must have liberty. There is no need for me to attempt to make bricks without straw any longer than that." [TO Bl COHTIMUID,]