Chapter 20711392

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Chapter NumberXXV
Chapter Title
Chapter Url
Full Date1881-12-03
Page Number713
Word Count7077
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.

ONE day kenneth happened to be with Jim in [?] ton's [?] drawing-room at Castle[?] [?] the [?] was delivered. The thick [?] letter directed in his father's hand was

£ MfepNiyypft mto hi' ?1 to pass to SybiL It was more than * doub^ letter; it ooDtaiaed photographs. " I never saw any one.get such lots of letters and likenesses from one house as you get from yours, Sybil," said Ellerton. "You have dupli cate* and triplicates of every one at Castle Diar mid, I'm sure. You should make a bonfire of the old; they make such an accumulation of rubbish." Kenneth looked up with a wistful glance. "I'd be glad of some of Mrs. Ellerton's rubbish to fill my album. I have so few friends to Bend me likenesses." /' And this i* a dupMckte of my father's and mother's last, taken a short time since," said Sybil. "They seem to forget that Flora sent me them by last mail, along with the children's birthday book, with all their names, ages, and looks of hair tttcked in. "As if you forgot their birthdays, Sybil!" said her husband. " Wben I see you thoughtful or grumpy I may be sure it is a birthday, or is near a birthday; and as the family in numerous these occasions are frequent. And so theße photos are duplicates. Chuck them in the fire or give them to Mr. Kenneth here. He may pass them off for family portraits." The offer was good, though the manner was offensive enough. Ellerton went on. j'Did you ever hear the story of Sybil's ring that she wanted repaired in Melbourne ?—one of the small diamonds had come out of it. You have Been it; it was an old engagement ring of one of her ancestresses with some unpronounce able name, and has a small heart in rare blue enamel, set round with diamonds of some value, and the legend ' Faithfulle unto deathe' engraved inside. I don't know how many generations it has been in the family as an heirloom. Well, the jeweller somehow Beemed to fancy she might be hard up, for she was a stranger, and looked like n lady, and he asked her if sho was at all disposed to sell the ring, and she said 'No, certainly not;' but, as I was with her and had an eye to business, I thought I might as well a9k him the value of it. He said the art of making this particular kind of enamel was completely lost, and that the valuo of the ring iutFinsi cally was about £50, bub that ho wus sure he could get more thau double that sum from any Melbourne parveuu who wautud to pass it otf as au old possession of his family. So, if wo are ever very hard up I'm going to nut it up to the highest bidder, and may realise £150 for it, with keen competition among that particular class; and the whole story of the riug, which Sybil knows, may be thrown into the bargain, to be retailed as a family tradition." The story waa rather ofleuaivo in its applica tion uudor the bent of circumstances, and the angry Hush which rose to Kenneth's face on having his timid request misunderstood or mis represented was not to be woudered at. Mrs. Ellerton felt thnt slio would like to make him some apology. " If you would really like these duplicates I (should much prefer giving them to you to destroying them. As works of art I think them very good, and an you have been a very kiud friend to me, and havo taken such a warm interest in my people at borne, I do not feel that it is giving what I prize to a stranger," and she handel the pair of photographs to Kenneth to the virtibie annoyance of her hitabanrl ami Jim Oswald. "He must be further gone than I could have thought to look with bucu rapture on likenesses

* The dole riglit to "Gathered In" in Q;ieeus" has teen eeiured. by the proprietors of the Qi>;tus-

of people be never Baw," thought Ellertoa, " all because she holds forth about them from morn ing to night." " Why did she not give them to me ?" thought Jim. " I'm Bure I listen to every word she says about them, and I've given her no end of music It's all Ken's cheek ; he is ao found of putting himself forward. To go and ask for her father's and mothter'n photos !" " I always feel de trop when the English mail comes in," said Ellertoa aloud. " One's wifa is not one's own wken her mind is full of people and places half way over the globe. I like to give her twelve hoars to settle down. Will you fellows come with me to Wilta ? They are never so upset there by the arrival of the mail; and after all that Wilt* billiard-table is better than any one at Caatlehurst, and I'll give you your revenge then, Mr. Oswald." Jim was always unwilling to leave Mrs. Ellerton, whose face looked lovelier than ever as it was bent over her letter. Kenneth was hungry to hear some Borap of information about his father in addition to the precious photograph, which he scarcely could believe was really his own ; but, when Ellerton insisted upon any movement, both cousins had to yield, and they started for Wilta without delay. Jim did not like the Wilta people, though he confessed that the billiard-table was first-class. They always made him play second fiddle to Kenneth there. Any business they did with Mr. Oswald was transacted through the elder cousin, and, although there was never such another brilliant negotiation made as that about the long-woolled ewes, George Oswald thought Kenneth's bargains were sufficiently advantage ous, and found it a good thing to buy and sell with his long-estranged neighbours. The Grays never thought of consulting Jim about any purchases or sale on his father's account, and in any transactions which he entered into for him self about hoases and dogs Jim was sure he always got the worst of it—at least Ellerton told him so, and fanned his sense of injury. Mr. Ellerton always put James Oswald before hia cousin, aud paid him the kind of deference dear to the soul of a purse-proud lad, who wants to be valued on account of bis father's money, but who at tho same time holds himself above the bard work and the wise economy which has acquired it. Any deprecatory remark levelled at Kenneth, either in his presence or his absence, which was thrown out by Ellerton, went to the $cart of his cousin ; and, when he pointed out the absurd way in which the Grays behaved to. the obscurer young man, he helped to prejudice Jim against an influence that might have done him good. Edith Gray's mind and heart had been, as it were, "to let" when the beloved brother Charlie left her for New Zealand. Her father did not know that this departure made bis daughter much more susceptible to strong interests, and even to the passion of love, than it had been before, and the direction which her active im* agination and her affectionate heart had taken was to try to understand Sybil Ellerton's r«la tione with her husband, and with her two devoted adorers. Why Ellerton had never manifested jealousy at Kenneth's attention to his wife was in explicable. He did not rook Kenneth at any game —Kenneth newr betted, never played bat for the most nominal stakes ; and he was a check on James Oswald's high play—continual and vexa tious. His colour changed when she ventured on the least allusion to his regard for SybiL Edith believed that he valued her merely as a friend and helper of Mrs. Ellerton, but, singular to sajft though Miss Gray had had the very strongest and most rigid views as to virtuous love, and the sin fulness of falling in love with married women, and was indignant at the questionable morality of ao muoh of our modern fiction, where people are always tossed about by criminal passion, and hover over the verge of sin, if they do not actually fall into tho gulf, she could not hate or despise Kenneth Oswald for his fluttering around what might be destruction. She could not help being pleased at the visit of the three gentlemen when she thought that Sybil might cry over her letters in peace, and perhaps begin her answers undisturbed, with the impression fresh and vivid on her mind of a very different home from her present one. Besides, in Mrs. Ellerton's absence, Edith thought she might discover how the land lay from chance talk. She a&ed the visitors to stay all night, as her father and brother would not be at home till somewhat late in the evening, and they accepted the invita tion at once. Ellerton joked a little bitterly about his wife giving her photos to a stranger, and Kenneth had to display his acquisition. " She might have given them to me instead," said Edith Gray. "My father of course recollects Mr. M'Didrmid as a boy, and we Bhould all have been pleased to have them. I seem to know them all ao well; Sybil talks so much about them." " I am sure you have far inoro right to such a gift than our frieud Kenuuth," said Ellortou. " All you have to do now, Keu, ia to deliver up," said Jim. " Such a lady's man a* you are ought to consider such a Bpeech as Miss Gray's a command." "Not to give away a gift made to me by another lady. Miss Gray would never think that right," said Kenneth. "Of course, I never would think so, but at the same timo I envy you your good luck. I shall beg for some other of Sybil's duplicates, but these are the finest I have Been. It is this one I covet most," and she took up for another look the father's likeness. " The mother is good looking enough, aud a good wcSman too, 1 am sure, but this of Mr. M'Diarmid's is such ita in teresting, such a haunting, faco, and if what Sybil says is to be relied on he his perfect in every relation of life. Such a husband, such a father, such a landlord, such a friend ! If I get to tho old country, an pap.t promises, I mean to mak; a friend of him. Oh ! wo have no such people out here !" And Kdith looked at the man whom this gentleman's daughter had chosen for her lif«-loug companion with a sad ill-cou coaled dUdain. "' Lea absent ont tovjours tort,' the French proverb has it," said Ellerton, "but at the autipodea, at least in this region of Australia, the adage seems reversed ; it is the absent who are always brought up to cast in the teeth of the present, and the further absent they are the

better for that purpose. Perhaps you and I might put ourselves in a better position, Mr. Oswald, if we moved into the billiard-room, and Miss Qray might hold ua up as shining examples to Kenneth, who has been having it too much his own way lately, I think." Jim moved off willingly to the most attractive part of the Wilta mansion when Mrs. Ellerton was not in it, and left Miss Gray and hie cousin together. Ellerton had some idea that Kenneth knew in what direction his interests lay, and fancied that he might have sufficient assurance to make up to Mian Gray, of tv'ilta, even though he did hang about Sybil in his cousin's company. Although he thought it would be a somewhat bitter pill for Mr. Gray to swallow to see his daughter carried off by George Oswald's penni less nephew, it was on the cards if no better parti turned up. "And you really care about those photographs, Mr. Kenneth," said Edith. " Don't think I would deprive you of them for the world. It was very thoughtless of me to say what I did about them." " No, it waß quite natural; what right have I? ... Only as Mrs. Ellerton was kind enough to give them to me when she saw that I was pained by some remarks of her husband's. I should very much like to keep them." Kenneth Btammered a little and blushed. Miss Gray, pre-occupied by her own surmises and con clusions, very naturally misunderstood the agita tion he showed. She looked keenly at him ; he grew more agitated. He feated that she had seen the likentss to his father's photograph in his face or figure, and that she might put some awkward question to him about the interest he felt in her model gentlemm. Edith Gray felt herself years older thaki the young man, although she was really his senior by only a month. She felt she might take the Hberty of dropping a word of caution. "Do be, careful," she said, " for every one's sake be ctreful what you say and do—for her i}ake above all" 1 " I shall try not to hurt her in any way." 1 " She is so charming, and, as we all nee, she is most unhappy, though ehe has neyer confessed as much to mo. She is as true as steel, but no one can see them together as I have done for months, and as you have done too, without knowing them to be the most mis-matched pair that ovor blundered into marriage. Low in intellect, low in morals, what could a gentlewoman see iv him ? But, Mr. Kenneth, you must not make her more onhappy still, and you might" " You misunderstand me altogether, Miss Gray. My regard for Sybil—for Mrs." Ellerton—is strong, but quite different from what you imagine." " It makes you blush and tremble at the men tion of her name. Take care, my poor boy, that you do not misunderstand yourself. If I did not love her so much, and, even in spite of this, respect you so muoh, I should not speak. How long is this to go on without arousing the most dangerous jealousy on Mr. Ellerton's part * I am quite sure he is aKve to all your advantages over your poor infatuated cousin, and her life is bitter enough without any additional sorrow. You had better go Bomewhere else oat of temptation. There is no courage like running away in such cases." " I cannot," said Kenneth; "you mean very kindly, but I cannot." " There is the world before you," said Edith, " the world of action, of effort, and of success. I never felt so much sympathy with any man's position as I have felt for yours since I came to k»ow you. Everybody seems to expect impossi bilities from you. Shake yourself free of this place ; go to Melbourne or anywhere ; begin the world on an independent footing for yourself, and, by and by, when you have conquered it, come to me and tell me that the advice was good." The ring in her voice and the flash in her eye were such as in other circumstances might have led Kenneth to mount the deadliest breach ; but if she had only known, the real truth she would have urged as warmly that he Bhould stand to the post he occupied now. He could only urge reasons which to her seemed incomplete. " But my uncle trusts to me to be a check on his son. I have learned to help him in his business; his health is failing. It would be cowardly and recreant in me to leave my position now, however full of difficulties it really is." " You cannot tear yourself away from Mrs. Ellerton," Baid Edith, with the deepest compassion in her eyes and voice. " Not now ; Bhe needs me, and may need me more." " Cannot you trust her to me ?" said Editb. " I shall see that she comes to no harm. If the lurking devil of jealousy that I sco in that man's eye to-day breaks forth, life will be infinitely worse for Sybil than it ever has been. He is Huch a base hound that everything will be made to press on her. She is in his power—night and day, no escape. Only now she is alone with her betters, thank God. But though you love her, which I suppose I ought to call wrong, I trust it is somewhat nobly. You would go through lire and water to do her good. Then go through what to such a generous nature is still harder, and that is doiug nothing, and leaving her. Do not think that I do not feol for you." The brown eyes were full of tears, the sensitive mouth quivered in sympathy with tho paiu she was giving. Her hand fell lightly and kindly on Kenneth's owjj. He touched the hand with his lipa by some irresistible impulse. " Perhaps you may be right; let mo think— let me weigh matters. I had meant to leave my uncle after two years' service ; but by that time he had come to cling to me and to trust to me, and he haa not much comfort in hia family, poof man. You aro right, Miss way, from your point of view, no doubt ; and 1 cannot explain ; I cannot make you see what I sec myself ; but whether I take your advice or not I aoi deeply grateful to you fur it. ... How hard it is to do right." " It in not my conscience that you havo to satisfy," said Edith. "I only judge from what I nee and hear. If you with greater kuowledgo decide differently, I cannot blame yon. But you are very yonug aud impressible. Perhaps you do not take that into account as much as I do. I have felt the fascination of Sybil's face, voice, and inauaer so much that if I had been a joung man instead of a young woman I should nave fancied myself over head and ears in love with her. Mr. EUerton did me the honour of

being jealouß of my love for, and ruy influence with, his wife. He was glad to take her away from Wilta, in spite of bis appreciation of the comfortable quarters, because he saw we both grieved at the separation." " I feel quite sure that you are right in that surmise." " And now tell me if what I hear is true, that Mr. Ellertou inakeß a great part of hia living out of your coußin t' 1 11 So I believe." " And encourages his viafts !** "Certainly he (toes." " And would discourage yours !" " So I think ; but that is because I am seme check on Jim's high play." " Not altogether ; I am sure thwre are offcer reasons," said Edith. " I think—l hope—you are mistaken.*" " Now, don't you think that Sybil ought to separate from such a man aud go and live at home with that good father and mother'" " Certainly, I thiuk so; but ehe never com* plains." " Oh ! she ib proud ; she thinks she hnß made her bed, and muet lie on it. Do you think ha does nothing that the law may take hold of ? My father and Brother have broken loose from him very much ; they cannot bear the way of life and the companions he has got amongst at Castlehurst; but you see him often, too often. Tell me if you think he plays fair." " It is part of my business to watch him, and I cannot any I have discovered any dishonest play. He has wonderful skill in all games ; keeps hi* head clear when other people ore muddled, ex cites to foolish bets, takes curious odd a ; but I have seen nothing that is not considered legiti mate play among the olacs of people he nlixea with." "It would not be considered so amongst gentlemen," said Edith, eagerly. "No, k would not be pormissiblo amongst gentlemen," said KerfneCh, glad to see she con eidered that he know what sort of conduct was becotniug to gentlemen. "It would no doubt be terrible at tho time for her, if ho gut withiu reach of the law, but dou't think me wicked—it seems the only way to set her freo. I bulieve hu is at heart a worse mau thau threo-fuurths of the convicts at Piyitridge, aud bho must live with him. I did nt>t thiuk I oould hatu aud despise any uihu alive &h I do Herbert Ellwtun." " And he is of good fatuity they my." " Yes, and be came to Kdiuburgti under the wing of some respectable well meaning auufc, who thought hu was thoroughly reformed, and that a good and pretty young wife with a handsome fortune would bo tho salvation of him." "And Englishmen have such a prcßtige in Edinburgh society," said Kenneth. " The accent and the address are Jopked on as something superior, and I dare say the idea of tho fortune Miss M'Diarmid was likely to havo inacto him very assiduous." " And that fortune was delusive," said Edith. "If thoy had only delayed the mmingo, the ardour of the lover would have coeled when the crash came, and poor Sy"bil would have felt it very hard ; but it would have been* happiness compared to this." " But Mr. Ellcrton must have been somewhat different when he came to Wilta first," said Kenneth. " Tee, he was en his good behaviour, so far, but it was evident that he was cruelly disappointed by the misfortunes of Mr. Syme'e house of business depriving him of his wife'B expectations from that quarter. I never could like him, but papa tolerated him better. I wonder when our bush missionary will return to put a little of heaven into my heart ? There haa baen too much of something else in it lately." "He n uncertain in his movements," said Kenneth, " but we should see kirn soon now." "He dill me good* that day, and it lasted some time, but my soul cleaves to the dust now, and I need some reviving," said Edith. " And you told me that you felt the same benefit. It was tho first day on which I saw you. You recollect driving to the door, and poor Sybil and I standing by the conservatory ? Peor, poor Sybil." Edith turned away abruptly, and left the room on some slight pretext, but she wanted to wash her face and her eyes, and to shake off all traces of her recent emotion. She half ques tioned the wisdom of her interfering with advice, but decided that she could not help it; and if she bad not done it she would hoye felt it was still to be done. It was nurely well to put that poor young fellow on his guard, and though he had insisted on it that ehe mis* understood his feelings she thought ebe under stood them all too well. That he loved her friend she had no doubt, but that he was with out the hope, even without the wish, to awake a reciprocal passion—that he was content to give everything aud to receive nothing—to wait her call, to de her bidding, to shield her from harm, to see nothing that she did not wish him to see, to submit to her husbaud'a insolence, to bear with hid cousiu's ignuruut presumption, uud all for tke chauce of nerving her—this was " one way of lovo ;" uud Edith Gray', heart swelled at the thought that to excite Buch lovo wsia worth' goiug through si good deal of misery for. What lover would her own youth, aud buauty, and fortune, and intelligence bring to her feet as thifl schoolgirl had brought Kenneth Oswald to hers ? She might have pradent uuftord, sen sible of the advantage^ of tho position, making commouplace proposals" with " limited liability," but it would be "another way of love," not worth leaving Wilta aud a good father for. Her more mature age aud shrewdness would prevent her from being so grievously deceived is Sybil M'Diarruid. Then* would uevor bo the mißory of beiiu; Kllorton's wifp, or the humiliation of bciug Jim Oswald'e object of pursuit; but then that iurft'able bliss of being w»iahir>ped without hope and without rowsinl by v. hravo generous man liko Kruucth would nrver l>« Iht.-. He in Mm mean tiu.e was revolving her looks and word*—" Young and impreaaiblu," tlio very wordß liw father had UHttl with roftT«;nc« to temptation—but Mi» i.urnptatiou lay in another direction from what Mwh Gr;iy p'^ntrd to. lie had long iclfc tho power of Idi'ha heanty, grace, aud mind ; if hit) liiith ; v.l prefects had been in any way tqual to her?, he would have set the winning of her heart as bis object in life, for which every eSort vms to be mr/le. Her desire that he bhould mako a carter for himaelf,

free from all tios to uncongenial relatives, was like a trumpet call for him to descend into the Hats and conquer crowns for her—her courage, her earnestness, her wisdom—for from her point of view the danger was great—all made him feel that here was a woman to live and die for. Not that she understood the involuntary homage he had offered, or could guess that she had his heart in her keeping. The frankness of her speech, the way in which she stood upon her age, her experience, her position, all mado him sensible that she placed him on a very different level from herself. But her interest in him, her sympathy with his difficult position, so much harder than she knew of, her confidence in his powers, her belief in his generosity, were more to Kenneth than professions of love would have been from another woman. A flower had fallen from her bosom as she hurriedly turned to leave the room ; ho picked it up, kissed it, and put it beside his father's portrait as the two moat precious things which he posseHsed on earth.

Chapter XXVI. GEOB.GE OSWALD'S WILL. Mr. Oswald had no overweening sense of the magnitude and permanence of his resources when he was sober, and he took increasing alarm at the extravagance of his only son under the fascinations of Mrs. Ellerton, and ths baleful influence of her husband. Although money makes money, even in indifferent hands, it must be when these hands delegate their work to others more capable of administration. And in the prejudice which Jim had always taken against those whom his father trusted most, in the insulting speeches and suspicious inuendoes which were cast at old and valuable servants, and the preference which he ehowed for the worthless and time-serving toad-eaters who hung about the skirts of the rich tmn's son, George Oswald caw the gravest dangers in the future, when the power had slipped out of his grasp, and Jim began his headlong career of enjoyment and profusion. " Kenneth," said his uncle to him one morn ing, when Jim was sleeping off the effects of a night at Castlehurst, and the two men were goiug their accustomed round, looking at the horses and giving general orderß. "Kenneth, there's a lot on my mind that behoves to come out to you, for I have not another soul to put trust in. You'll give me your best advice, and not your advice only, but your willing help, I hope, for I need it all." The brow was clouded, the face was anxious, the bent frame showed that years and cares had told upon it. Kenneth promised that so far as it was possible he would do what his uncle wished, but everybody Beemed to ask hard things from him, and he doubted Mb ability to Batisfy either himself or his trusting relative. "You see, Kenneth, there's a fine property here, and it would seem to you that I need have no anxiety about worldly matters. Only one son, and what most folk would call a kingdom to leave to him. But, as I've often and often said to you, Jim has no grip of the world, and if he*B no held back, and that with a powerful hand, the substance that looks bo solid now will melt away like ' snaw off a dyke,' and he'll be left with nothing, and maybe the mother too would be in want in her old age. There's no entails here, and it wonld vex me in my grave to think that somebody no kin to me had Tingalpa and the other stations, and Jim, poor fellow, maybe without a sixpence when he'B as eld as me, and he would take ill with poverty; far worae than you or me, Ken, that had to clamber up the brae, and began the world on porridge and kail." Kenneth in hts heart doubted that Jim would reach his uncle's present age, but he saw the dangors to the property quite a 8 strongly as George Oswald did. " I think you've tried to do the beßt you could for Jim, but he's wilful and he's weak," con tinued the old man. " lie takes after the mother; he's so much for himself, and he cannot be brought to see what is really best for himself. The first thing he'll do when I am laid under the mould will be to turn you adrift, the next will bo to dismiss the managers one after another, and any man that is worth his salt. There'll be a big billiard-room built, and Mr. and Mra. Ellertou invited to live at Tingalpa at rack and manger, and a dozen of greedy black legs from Castlehurst and Melbourne, and then it will be spend, travel, build, bet, keep race horses, hounds, and every mortal thing that folk can spend siller on ; and what Btation can stand that ? If you had been my son, Kenneth, I might have looked forward with aomo comfort to things being kept' under thack and rape,' as they say in Scotland. But this last bLx months Jim has spent more than ever." " He has drunk far Icbb." " He had had enough laßt night, I think—but the betterness you speak of was just because he is running after that Jezebel of a married woman, whoso husband rooks him at every sort of iniquitous game. No, it's no real betterneßs, d n it." "In many ways you thought him improved," said Kenneth. " That's bewiuao I thought he had sense, and was nfter William Gray's daughter, that he might have had maybe for the asking, whereas this woman" "Is aa far above his reach as the stars in heaven," siid Kenneth. " And a man's none the worse for looking up to the stars." " That depends on how he looks, Kennoth. If he falla into the mire by taking no tent to his atups; if he refuseß the good things he might buva because he is looking for what he cannot got; ho ia very much the worse, as I take it— ay, if it had been a Gray !" "But Jim is really, honestly, a good deal softoueH, aud made less ovorbeciring by this iullueuce." " bay ye so, Kenneth—Bay ye so ? But I hear you're just like tho rest, carried away by a bonny face—and I'll no deny Bhe's real bonny, though uo to hold tho candle to tho lassie Gray —for I went to Caßtlehurst yesterday to r,io that Ellortou wonvm with my own eyes in her own honpo, and thorn was Kdith, as nlio called her, with a faco and a look and a voice and a way wifh her rjikes her worth twenty milk-and water lioanling-.'jchool misses, that arc only fit to sit at a piano and skirl out songs in foreign tongues. I'm no denying that I like the Scotch

songß the other one sings, bnt that's neither here nor there. William Gray's daughter has been at the head of his table and managed his house since she was sixteen. She keeps house books, as lam told, that's a pleasure to look at. She read out something from the papers that she thought I'd like to hear; it was about * Back blocks,' and the way she read it, and the laugh Bhe had over it when it was done, were enough to set a man up for the day. She's learned in the best school, and that's by trying to make up to her father for the wife he lost when she was sixteen years old, how to find her way to the old man's heart. Ay, if it had been only Edith Gray." And George Oswald leaned more heavily on his stick, and paused in his walk with his nephew. "But that's no what's heaviest on my mind just at present It's my will, Kenneth, it's my will! They say, and I've found it in my ex perience, that the handling of much money makes a man keen to keep hold of it; but you've shown such regard to my interests, sought so little for yourself, cared so little to spend, with no taste for drink or for play, or for women, that d n it, Kenneth, I'll trust you; I'll leave you everything I possess, every mortal thing; I" " Under certain conditions, of course, in trust for Jim and Mrs. Oswald," said Kenneth with an internal groan at the promised responsibility. " Ay, under certain conditions ; only he's no to know that you're bound in honour to allow him the yearly revenue out of it, but I must put it out of his power to exchange, to mortgage, or to sell." "But the trust-deed would define Btrictly what I have to do." " I'll make no trust-deed," said George Oswald. " My life was made bitter to me with a con founded trustee-ship that I had worrying me for ten years, and I was to do this, and I was no to do that, and I wanted the money myself at the time, and would have given 12 per cent for it, but it was to be invested in mortgage on approved security, as if George Oswald's word was not security enough. No, Kenneth, I think ye know my mind better than any lawyer in Melbourne or Castlehurßt, and with a few hints by word of mouth, and some mernos I'll leave in hand of write, I'll be more satisfied than if you are tied down hand and foot with a trust-deed that Jim may raise money on." "Then you mean to trußt entirely to my honour ?" said Kenneth, in the most utter amaze* znent at the proposition. "I do, Kenneth," said the old man with a great gulp, " and I think ye may take it as a compliment My man of business in Melbourne is very doubtful of everybody, and he does not know either how much you are beholden to me or how whole your heart is in my interest, so I have to fight a hard battle for you with him. But we must go by the law. Only mind, Kenneth, you cannot heir anything, and nobody can heir you but the State, and that I could not tell Lawyer Thomson. So, when lam laid at rest, your first business is to make a will in case of your own death, so as to leave Jim in careful hands. But your life is a good one, a far better one than Jim's—poor fellow. Thomson will put me off this if he can, and persuade me to make just an ordinary will, but I am convinced that it must be a bye-ordinary will, for neither Jim nor his mother have half a notion of business between them. I leave you the money, the stock, the land, all for yourself to buy, sell, ex change, or do wbat you please. You've a bead for business. Even Walter Gray cannot get the better of you." " But surely you could constitute m« guardian, or executor, or trustee," said Kenneth; " this confidence seems altogether too rash for yourself and wofully burdensome to me." " No, Kenneth, my way's the best, and your very hesitation makes me sure of it Guardian ship ? Jim will soon be twenty-one, and out of all Buch control; executors and trustees, aB I say, are hampered and tied down ; they cannot make the best of the property as a man who has a head on his ahoulders and money at command can do, and I'll no have the property starved. There's Tingalpa and Cowarrel and Willanirie, and I am going in for a station in the Bivernia district. You'll do justice to them when I'm at rest And it's no to be for nothing, Kenneth. I'll make a memo for your own satisfaction of what you are to keep for your own services. Say eight hundred a year, and the house and the garden, and{ the horses and the traps, all for your own use, and the rest you'll account for to Jim and his mother. Eight hundred pounds a year ! Your grandmother was keen for your going into the Kirk, it would have been long ere you would have gotten such a living out of that, or a manse like Tingalpa head Btation, or such a turnout as the pair of bays, let alone the others." " But my grandparents; what about their allowance ?" " You'll keep that up, or add to it; but it must come from you—l trust that to you ; but there's another thing that is on my mind. I'll leave you a memo about the Diroms, that I could not put in a will, but you'll see to it. And, mind, Mick's to have £00 a year for his life. He's been a good fellow to rue to stand all my tan trams when I'm on my splores, and it will help him and Biddy along, and wont be enough to spoil them. That's about all, I think," and George Oswald drew a long breath and thon re mained sileut, expecting an answer. Kenneth was thunderstruck at this proposal, made seriously, as if it had been the result of months of thought, as indeed it had been. "You may live years yet, my dear uncle; there is no hurry about making so unprecedented a will. I feel sure that Mr. Thomson will Btroagly advise you against it, and I have the greatest objection to it myself." "And what for?" said the old man in an injured tone. He had with so much difficulty schooled himself to repose this enormous trust in his uephew, that he thought Kenneth should measure the compliment by the effort it had cost him. "Is not j£Boo a-year enough ?" "It is not that, my dear uncle ; but my ob jection is that however honestly I deal with Mrs. Oswald and Jamrs they will nftver believo that I stn not Inking advantage «f them." " Rut thoy ran tako no action in the matter, when the money is left to you without reserve ; ami tliat'o just why I do it ho." " But they will hate me as a aupplanter; they will take no advice or good office from me."

" They will take a certain inoome from you," said George Oswald, grimly, "and I shall die assured that they will not come to want, and that Tingalpa is still a head station with others round it Oh! Kenneth, man, I could never rest in my grave if I thought William Gray or his sons made an out-station of this bonny plaoe that I've made all myself, and that all the im provements were thrown in for an old song. And I leave you the property unconditionally, because I would make it easier for you." " But it would really be harder, for 1 Bhould know that it was not really mine. I should have all the trouble, the annoyance, and the responsi bilities of wealth without feeling free to do as I pleased." "Yes: free to do what you pleased for the good «f the property, aye free to do that, and Jim could not say you nay." "My dear uncle,it would really be truer kind ness to allow me to follow my own bent, and earn my own living in some other way. Do you think life has been so pleasant to me since I came here, doing you such doubtful service, that I should wish it to be made perpetual ? For God's sake, don't burden me with such a trust as this." "Say you so, Kenneth? Then I have not a friend in the world. I thought I could have reckoned on you." And the old man turned away in deep offence. Kenneth felt his heart moved both by the confidence and the dis appointment He qualified his refusal so much that Mr. Oswald went forthwith to Melbourne alone, and consulted his lawyer, whose scruples and objections he beat down, and carried his point triumphantly. Kenneth had great hopes that Mr. Thomson would refuse to carry out his uncle's wishes, but his aspect on his return, the extra satisfaction he took in the beauty and the progress of the place, the astute glance that he cast at Jim when he proposed any alterations, or talked in his confident blusteriog manner about money or the station property, or grumbled at any of the old servants, convinced Kenneth that the will had been executed, although his uncle never told him so in so many words. (to be continued.)