Chapter 20711551

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Chapter NumberXXVII
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article20711551
Full Date1881-12-10
Page Number745
Corrections0
Word Count6848
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Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 - 1939)
Trove TitleGathered In
article text

The Storyteller.

Gathered In.

CHAPTER XXVII.

TAKING COUNSEL.

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

ON the occasion of his visit to Mrs. Ellerton, at Castlehurst, it had indeed been tantalizing to Mr. Oswald to see how very superior in every way Miss Gray was to her friend. He took

stock of her from head to foot, and found her up to the mark on all points. Aa he listened to the talk of the young women, and occasionally joined in it, he came to the conclusion that William Gray's daughter was the handsomer, the cleverer, aa well as the richer of the two, and yet that perverse son of his was infatuated with the in ferior article, and had thrust his neck into the noose of hopeless or sinful love ; whereas the other girl might be had without sin or shame, and with infinite honour and advantage. They were both polite to him, but Edith was more than polite. She felt for the old man so cruelly disappointed in his son, so poorly com panioned by his wife, with only his grateful and generous nephew to give him loyal service. " They say it takes three generations to make a gentleman, Sybil," said Bhe when their visitor had departed. "Id this case the third generation will have a great deal to do—for 'parvenu filt' is infinitely more vulgar and odious than 'par wnu pirt.' Don't you think so, Sybil ?" " The old man has something in him ; he understands his business, and attends to it, whereas the young man holds himself above anything of the kind. There must be great good in Mr. Oswald from the kind way in which his nephew Bpeaksj of him always. I wish Mr. Ellerton would quarrel with that foolish young man parvenu fils, or that we could leave Castle hurst altogether to get quit of him, although it would separate me from you, Edith." She looked pale and worn. 41 Cannot you offend him in any way ?" asked Edith, pleased at this first revelation of any trouble on Sybil's part. "No, he will take no offdnce from me, and Mr. EHerton likes his society so much that he would bring him back even if I were to be absolutely rude." " It is a strange infatuation on the lad's part." "Do you see it, too ?" Baid Sybil with a deep blush. "He does not say much." " But he is always here." " Ah, he is so fond of billiards, and all sorts of game*, and those things Mr. Ellerton is so skil ful in. I believe he would come quite as much about the place if I were not here." Sybil blushed more deeply, for her friend's quick glance reminded her that when ale was on a visit to Wilta Jim followed her there, though Ellerton was at some races at Qeelong. " But bis cousin is always with him," bhe said apolo getically. " Mr. Kenneth v a great relief to me in every way. He is bo different. He has been very very good to me. He never lets me bo alone with his cousin."

* The sole right to publish "Gathered In" in Queens land has been secured by the proprietors of the Qtwni landtr.

" And how does Mr. Ellertoa like thin self constituted guardian ?" asked Edith. " I cannot tell. I think there ia no cause (or unuasiuess. B4r. Ellertou is uot Beußitive on such matters. "I should feel uneasy if I were you," said Edith. " I hope it will lead the poor fellow into no harm, but I feel I can trust him entirely." "He ia certainly a very good and generous young man, but is it right or fair to make use of him in the way you do? Is it not very dangeroua for him, and a little dangerous for yourself ?" " Not for him, thank Ood, nofc for him. Be lieve me, Edith, he is no lover of mine, I am sure. Never a word or a look of that kind. I know the difference. He ia only very good, very kind. Nobody else can help me as he does. Not even you could serve me as Kenneth Oswald does." How brave he must be ! How reticent to keep back his inmost feelings, to beware leal a look might betray him, thought Edith to her- Belf—for she had no doubt of the reality of his love. Where could Kenneth Oswald, peasant born and almost peasant-bred, have acquired that delicacy of feeling, that chivalrous fidelity, worthy of knight-errant of old ? " Mr. Ellerton thinks," said Sybil hesitatingly ; " don't be angry, Edith—but he has an idea that the elder cousin's affections are placed elsewhere —most ambitiously placed—and tha'fc prevents him from thinking as you fear he may." That was all Mr. Ellerton knew about the matter then 1 It was but a poor subterfuge certainly, but if it shielded Kenneth from jealous suspicions, and enabled him to serve the real object of bis affections, it was t useful delusion. " Tou speak confidently about him, but yet you would be sorry if you got him into trouble, and that idea of Mr. Ellerton'a ia absolutely with out foundation. Tou heard old Mr. Oswald say just now thab he would like his son to travel through the colonies with his cousin. Could you not recommend it to Mr. James as the necessary finishing touch to his education 1 A hint from you would have great weight And you know ' out of sight out of mind,' especially with young men like him. He may see a new face in his travels, and come back a married man to our infinite relief." " I shall try," said Mrs. Ellerton doubtfully, " but you would be surprised at how little I can really do." After Mr. Oswald's mind had been relieved by his Melbourne visit he looked younger and brighter, and when David Henderson after a long round same again to the Castlehurst district, and made Tingalpa his first stopping-place, he received a hearty welcome from unole and nephew, as well aa from the station handa who had heard of his fame, and none of them were disappointed with the evening's prayer and exposition. When the religious worship was over Kenneth got his friend into his own room, the library or study, which Jim now uever entered, and where his uncle only sat sometimes in the mornings. "And what has been your success in your round ?" asked Kenneth. "I mean specially with yonr Bushman's Home scheme ?" "Not very great, but I can try the ground again on my second visitation. I've opened the aubject at least, and some others may take it up." " And with regard to other matters no less im portant ?" askdd Kenneth. "Ah 1 there I think I have done some good. I somehow feel as if the souls I have come into contact with have obtained some light. And yet you would say, What is a stray word in season once in six months to counteract daily evil and deadening influences ? Maybe if I was with' the same people for a constancy I would be leas sanguine. But, you see, I come fresh to each of my hearers. A steady congregation would soon get to the end of my tether." "Influence is so subtle a thing that neither the giver nor the receiver of help can rightly trace out all its bearings," said Kenneth. "That is true," said Mr. Henderson, "and I Bpoke without sufficient judgment when I said that my occasional word had to fight alone against all the evil and deadening influences of the half-year. I forgot for the moment the powerful help I have from within ; old resolu tions, old repentances, and the ever-living spirit of Qod within every human soul. We are too apt to overlook ' that power, not ourselves, that makes f<?r righteousness,' which aids all our efforts, aa if to maka our own poor doing* appear more wonderful. And now, my friend, how ia it with your own soul ?'' " Better, certainly better. I date more hope and more courage from the day I met with you first." " Qod be praised for it! Then ia life easier for you ?" "No, it ia more difficult." " And yet you feel better." " Yes, for I have more heart for the work I have to do." "It ia by no flowery patha that God leads His own to those serene heights where duty is not only the command of the conscience but the delight of the heart. You have to go through the Slough of Despond, climb up the Hill Difficulty, toil in fear and in darkness through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, through the dungeons of Qiant Despair, through the En chanted Land, and through other snarea besides, ere you reach the Land of Beulah." " Yea," said Kenneth, " Doubting Castle still stands, but its bolts and bars are no longer to be shot back by the key Promise. Qiant Despair no longer picks up stray pilgrims who trespass on his grounds, and shuts theun in filthy dun geons, and beata them grievously with his crab tree cudgel, but broods like a thick dark cloud, impersonal mid unconcerned, over heaven and earth, so that the blessed sunb'ght cannot pierce through." " Yes," said the bush missionary. " The nature of the difficulty seems changed." " The doubt and the despair in thoße old times," aaid Kenneth, "was as to one's own personal salvation, for the idea of Qod was like that of a man, with parts and passions, with preferences ami rejectious ; and a gracioua word undubitably believed to have come from Him, once appre hended and taken possession of by the individual >oil, the whole nature seemed to fall into ha inony vih the Divine government at once.

Now the difficulty is to believe that in bo vast a universe as science diecloaes to u« there ia care and love in the lufiuite Creator for hib creatures, beyond the ordering of laws working on the whole for the best. We do not question our individual claims on the love of our Heavenly Father, but we are stunned by the sense of in finite space and time, and law and forces, working with solemn and rhythmic precision unaffected by our words or efforts. No text will settle that doubt—no key of promise will open that lock. " You touch the key note of our modern scepticism," Baid the missionary. 11 You who so prize the written Word, and can see so much in it," continued Kenneth, " must regret that its authority can no longer be called in effectually to support" the troubled soul." " Nay, my friend," B aid David Henderson ; "though to me the Word is precioun, it is only as an introduction to the deeper voices that speak out of the infinite silence. I cannot mourn the exohange of anxiety about the salva tion of our own souls for that longing which falls on our modern captives in Doubting Castle, for the assurance of God's love and care for all his creatures, rational and irrational. It ia a change for the better and not for the worse." " Then you are not alarmed at the extent and the boldness of the sceptical spirit," said Kenneth. " No," said the seer, Bpeaking slowly and with short pauses as if for thought and prayer, "if it is not of God it will be brought to nought, bnt in trying to stifle it as churches in old daf s have done, and as churches in present times would fain do, I think you must see a danger that haply we might be fighting against God. . . . Religion and Christianity have outlived attacks as deadly and less reverent than assail it now, an for my part I look with less dismay at the open batteries of the enemy who may be a truth* ?eeker that at the false defences and hollow zeal of those who consider themselves as the defen ders of the faith. ... If the attacks would call out new life in the churches, though with a great change of front, the ohurches would be stronger. God is able to take care of Himself — our puny efforts cannot aid or impede the maroh of omnipotence. We do not need to be careful for His honours in the eyes of others by opposing what is merely a flimsy pretence in the eyes of God. It is far better that people should see us shivering by the ashes of the fire that once warmed ub than that we Bhould stretch out our hand* before it and say loudly ' Aha, Aha, we are warm, we have Been the fire.' See how warm we are, and come and find like comfort from like action." "Then," said Kenneth, "you see a happy issue out of all this strife and debate, this distaste of the modern mind for Baered things and Ditine contemplations, this eager secularism, this questioning of all things hitherto believed to be above all human speculation." "No," said the missionary, "I cannot say I tee it I trust it will be well because I trust in God. But I do not believe that God's people ever see altogether clearly the solution of their doubts, whatever they may be. An element of uncertainty always clings to the most assured hope of personal salvation bo long as life lasts. The just mua live by faith. Here and now the issues are vaster and wider, and just because the race has lost the selfish hope and fear which were only fit for the childhood of humanity, I feel hopeful that greater results are within our reach, and that higher and nobler aspirations are leading us ever nearer to a fairer and vaster celestial city than John Bunyan ever dreamed of in his day. Very probably it ib not such as I look for, but I know that my soul shall be satisfied when I awake after death that God has done all things welL Yes ; if John Bunyan were writing his Pilgrim's Progress now, he might add a few chapters to it New days, new difficulties. But in his time, as in ours, onward is the watchword." " But," said Kenneth, " the way now does not seem bo straight and so narrow that one cannot depart from it, even with the most sincere and the moat intense desire to keep on the right path. There is where Bunyan and his school fail in another way to interpret for ub the spiritual life of the nineteenth century." " You are right there, my young friend, as I have had experience, and you so much younger, so much more influenced by the new literature and new views of morality, are likely to feel it much more strongly. It is often extremely difficult to see the beßt course to pursue ; but somehow if you try to do your best, without selfish or greedy aims, even a turning to the right or to the left does not seem to hinder your onward course. Even our mistakes, even our sins, if they are not habitual and delighted in, but repented of and abandoned, help us on. You oftentimes see that the storm of passion has been fertilising, and that the future life is wiser and purer and grander after the hurricane out of which the man or woman appears to emerge shattered or maimed." " People would call that dangerous doctrine to preach to the young," said Kenneth, who thought of his mother and of his father too. " Truth can never be dangerous. If God can command the wrath of man to praise Him, cannot He work our progress through our apparent fallings back. Indeed that puzzles me about the progress there should be in heaven. I would give up much of its perfection for the sake of advance." Again the memories of the beloved mother and the orthodox ideas of his grandparents, which chilled his heart, were recalled to Kenneth. " But this progress through error is more ia youth than in age such as mine," said David Henderson. " But, fur you, you are less minded to break off with the station life than you were when we parted." "I cannot leave now ; I am more needed than ever." " And your cousin, ia he more towardly ? I was glad to see him at worship with us." " Ho had heard so much of you that he could not but come." " He is somewhat improved however ?" "In some respects be is, but in others I fear he is quite the contrary." " Is it true what I hear that he is infatuated about that beautiful young creature with the wonderful voice and the worthless husband ?" " So it appears, though ho does not confide in me." " Well, it's hopeless love, no it will do no harm, and it may do the young fellow good. I myself

thought more of the brown-eyed girl, Mias Gray, but either uf tho two of them ini>>ht put some spirit into an dull clay as your cousin v tnude of. And how does the husband like it '!" v I wish I could believe he was blind ; but no, he sees it all, and I'd like to have it out with him for his disregard of hw wifo'u reputation and feelings," said Kenneth warmly. "Her reputation is safe enough, for nobody could look on her face, and ever lower her to an unholy thought, especially towsrds puch as your cousin. Her feelings—that is different ; does she complain to you ?" "No ; she is too proud to complain, and, besides, what right have I to claim her confi dence ? But part of my hard duty is to ccc what I cannot mend, and to hear what gives me con stant pain. Still, as I said, I would not shirk it for the world." " And your uncle, I Bee, trusts to you as if you were really his son. That is something to have gained." " Not so much to take pleasure in if you knew all," said Kenneth, sadly. "He trusts me far too much, but yet I am not going to run away from my responbibilities. If I wero to draw up a balance-sheet, on some such principle as my uncle talks of sometimes, of the advantages and disadvantages of my position here, I dare say it would look worse than it did when I gave you the lift to Wilts, but somehow I am in for it, and will go through to the bitter end." " I hope you go a good deal to Mr. Gray's. You are evidently a favourite thore," said David Henderson. " It ia a most hospitable house, and they are all very pleasant people. But my cousin does not care for them, and I cannot say that they court his society, so I cannot see so much of them as I should like. No, I see a great deal more of Caatlehurot than I care for, and of only one phase of Castlehurst life. But if Mr. Kllerton will not watch over his wife, I feel bound to do so." David Henderson looked at the young man with his dreamy eyes, for once concentrated in inquiry as to what was to be read in a counte nance naturally open and sincere, but at present a little puasling. There was embarrassment but no trace of shame. "Is it the old story," he asked himself, " always hankering after forbidden fruit, when there's the Garden of Eden to choose from ? but I've no doubt he'll come all right yet. There are some men I believe in, and this is one. But he shall have my prayers. Aud if I atn not greatly mistaken that brown-eyed girl has him on her mind too."

Chapter XXVIII. georoe Oswald's compuhctions. When Mrs. Elierton, following Miss Gray's suggestion, made the recommandntion to Mr. James Oswald that he should travel and see the world along with his cousiu, that young gentle man appeared to see no savour in it. Although such a colonial tour under any circumstances had been the desire of his heart before he met with Sybil, he could not think of leaving her. But gradually things worked round to make him consent to go. In the first place, Mr. Elierton said he wanted much to take such a round. He was tired of Castlehurst, and thought there wsb much better opening for a man of his talents in any of the colonial capitals than in a gone-down dead-alive place like that diggings-township. In the second place, Mr. Oswald, whose mind seemed to be much relieved now that lub will was signed, sealed, and delivered, thought that he could not spare Kenneth, for he wanted him to go and take possession and Bet things going in the new station in the Kiverina district. Although, cer tainly, Elierton was not the best of companions, he would at least see that no one took advantage of the rich squatter's son but himself, and, as it might detach Jim fvom Mrs. Elierton, Mr. Oswald was willing to allow him both time and money for an extended tour. Mr. Elierton proposed to give up Castlehurst House, which he had never liked much, and to store the furniture, and his wife might pay a visit to her friends at Wilta during his absence. He liked the idea of having no cares whatever, and travelling en garron. The time was fixed for the departure, three months were allowed for the visit, and Sybil busied horself with preparations for her husband's comfort abroad, for giving up housekeeping nt home, and for taking up her quarters at Wilta, with a tremulous eagerness, and with haunting fears lest anything should come between her and her haven of refuge, which showed proofs of the tension under which ehe had been suffering for months before. There were to be races in Adelaide ; they would go there first after a week or two in Mel bourne, which Elierton said he had not half seen, and where Jim Oswald thought he would introduce him to a little life ; then they would do Melbourne again in route to Tasmania, which was a slow place ; but still it was " the thing" to do Tasmania, which was a sort of coul summer garden made expressly for the recreation and refreshment of burnt-up Victories. Then they might go to Sydney, and do New South Wales, and thence go to Brisbane. Jim thought he would like to see all the Australian colonies before he came of age, when he would have a flare-up at home, or, better still, in Melbourne ; and Mr. Elierton had no objection to take this trip at Jim's expense, which directly or indirectly h« was sure to do. Mr. Oswald shook his head a great deal over the company he went in, but yet, as Kenneth had said forcibly to him, it was impossible to keep James Oawald in leading strings any longer, and he must learn experience for himself; and away from Mm. Elierton he was much more likely to quarrel with her husband, ns well as to forget her, than when he visited both so frequently under their owu roof. Indeed, even now, Kenneth saw signs of great hollowueKS in the friendship, and impatience on Jim's part of the ascendancy of the clever scoundrel in whoxe society he had so long apparently delighted. His love for Sybil and his antagonism to Kenneth prevented Jim from acknowledging or acting upon any such distaste, but away from these two counteracting influences George Oswald reason ably hoped that Ellerton's great luck at play and his careless imperiousneiw of manner tnight produce their natural ef!«ct, and that there would soon be an open rupture between the two companion?.

Something more like ease of mind and happi ness than he had felt for mauy a long day took possession of Kenneth when all the arrangements were completed, the house abandoned, the travel* lers started, and Sybil was committed to the loving oare of her friend Edith, in a. house where she had consideration, comfort, uud peace. He turned to his uncle's atfiirs with undivided attention, consulted with him about the stock necessary for the new Riverina station, suggested some plans and approved of others, and made his start with a light heart. Ilia uncle wrung his hands on parting with more emotion than he generally showed ; his aunt said it would be dull without the two young men coming in and going out and bringing the news, but her regret was a much more languid feeling than her husband's. To be relieved from the incubus of his cousin's company was happiness in itself, to be service able to hia uncle was pleasant, and to be a pioneer in a new country had its charms, although that new country, flat, dry, and sombre, covered with nothing but monotonous saltbuah, which, however, sheep can live and thrive on, was not nearly so agreeable to look on as the un dulating wooded grassy country round Tingalpa and Wilta. Kenneth had recommended hid uncle to try John Mayne, an active intelligent fellow on the station, as resident overseer ; and as they travelled up together he saw every reason to be satisfied with the arrangement. He was quick and observant, and an experienced bushman, and he knew this particular country well. Kenneth put himself into his hands for ordinary sailing directions ; they went through a few hardships together, camped at night side by Bide, talked of matt rs pastoral, social, political, and even religious—for David Hender- Bon's recent visit had awakened some interest in such things at Tingalpa—and altogether had a pleasant time of it. The new run was ridden over, the watering places noted, and the place for the erection of the house and outbuildings fixed on, before the drays with building timber, with the stores necessary for six months' consumption, and the flocks and the shepherds arrived. With his own hands Kenneth worked at the Ballywallock House, and was astonished to see how rapidly it took shape ; and he felt ftee to return to his uncle with a satisfactory report of the new settle* ment "I've missed you, Kenneth; I've missed you," said his uncle as he went to the door on Mick's announcement: " Sure it's Mr. Kenneth coming up the avenue." He was looking very ill, and Mick was in close attendance, so the young man formed a shrewd guess at what had been the matter. " I've had a burster on the head of it," said Mr. Oswald, as he took his easy chair in the library, " and I'm just out of it, and as dull as ditchw&ter. God forgive me for an old reprobate, but the house was so miserable without you and Jim, and the wife no better than nobody to speak to, and other things troubling me, that I've gone in heavier and deeper than ever. But all's well I hope at the new place, Ballywallock ? I've lots to tell you when my mind's easy about that" " All as right as possible. How beautiful Tin galpa and all the country down from Cowarrel looks after the saltbuah country !" " Ay, ye cannot get Tingalpa nowadays for the picking up, but this station will pay, and that is the main thing, Kenneth." "Oh ! no doubt it will p&y. The stock in the neighbourhood look in capital condition." " And there's no d" d selectors there, and that's the dread here, as you well know. And you are sure John Mayne will do ?" "He is taking to his work like a good one. We were shoulder to shoulder at the house building, and he beats me hollow, though I really did my best." " I think I may be certain you would do that. And the men were all there up to time—no Bkulkers, and did not over* travel the sheep ither?" " I think you would have been as satisfied as I was with the way they were travelled. And there is plenty of water for the season. John Mayne has a wonderful eye for finding water. Travelling with him as I did, I could Bee what stuff he was made of." " That'B good, Kenneth, very good." "But our travellers, Jim and Mr. EUerton, what of them V " No signs of their coming back yet," said the old man moodily. " They did not mean to return before three months." "One would have thought they would have hastened their steps homeward with the news they got" " What news, uncle ? I have her.rd nothing." "11l news, ill news—that poor thing Mrs. EUerton has been lying between life and death at Wilta for weeks past. What's the matter with the laddie ? Surely you're no so far gone as Jim 1 Qod forgive her, but she has much to nnswer for. first wrecking her own life with a scoundrel like EUerton, and then spoiling other folks' lives because they cannot get her. She's out of danger now—that's what the doctor says —there was a bairn, before its time, of course ; it never breathed the air of this world, but she fell into a low nervous fever, and was out of her mind for days and weeks. But, Kenneth, she's better now. Have a glass of something to put you right ?" " But her husband—but Jim ?'' " You may well say that, Kenneth. Though I bated the notion of Jim fancying her, and would have given hundieds, aye thousands, of pounds to make him forget her; to think that ha could be away taking hi* pleasure with that reprobate of a husband of hers, and neither the one nor the other would leave their amusements though she might be dying i I've been so mad with the fellow, that as I said I have gone in extra heavy. I'm no just myself yet. But my heart misgave me because I minded that I had often wished the woman dead before she had cast such a glamour over my Jim, and when I went to Wilta, where I had said I would never set my foot after the way William Gray choußed me with thae beasts; but I could not be content with messages through Mick; when 1 went there, and that lassie Gray came with her set face as white as death, and said she thought her poor friend would soon be set free from her troubles, I just grat like a bairn, Kenneth. My son had

been one of her sore troubles, and in my care for him I had wished the poor thing out of life. And he—what's a sick dying woman to him. She might not be bo bonny as when she was well, and she could not amuse him with her foreign songs that he set such store by, and she might be a trouble. When William Gray came in and took me by the hand, I believe I forgave him from the bottom of my heart about that old bargain, for he had done everything in his power—everything that money and kindness could do to win the poor young creature back to life. A nurse from Castlehurst and Miss Gray herself took turns to watch her night and day ; the doctor constant, and one telegraphed for from Melbourne when the case was urgent. Miss Gray herself could not have had more done for her. She brought me a glaßß of sherry and soda, for she saw I was altogether knocked down as you are yourself, Kenneth. Fill yourself out a bumper—my hand is shaky yet." Kenneth obeyed his uncle's orders, and then tried to listen calmly to what further he had to relate. " Well, when I asked what Ellerton had re plied to the telegrams and the letters, it was only that he could do no good ; that his dear wife— dear wife indeed ! he's been the dear husband to her !—was in the best of hands ; that he felt it a bitter disappointment about the baby ; but that, as the doctor said it was purely a nervous fever, the leu agitation and the fewer people she had near her the better. Maybe its true enough —but it was not just the thing for him to say it. He would trust to hearing by every opportunity, and hoped they would telegraph when there was a change. He had no house at Castlehurst, and he could not think of adding to their already heavy oharge at Wilta. . . . There was one thing I was glad of, and that was that it was not me that had the writing back to him. I suppose folk like the Grays can be civil, even though they despise the man at their heart's core, but for me, if I took up the pen, my words would be few, but they would be plain enough." Long as was Mr. Oswald's speech, Kenneth needed it all, and the bumper of sherry too, to enable him to recover his self-possession. " Has any one written to her relatives in Scot land ?" "Oh ! no doubt, they have ; they are sure to do what is right, but it is a long way off ' a far cry to Lochow,' as the saying is, and these two men could have come back within a week if they had been needed too. Oh 1 Jim, Jim, I knew that you were fond of your pleasure and your amusement, but I did not think you were so heartless." ''Perhaps he is cured of his foolish passion. Perhaps, as we wished and hoped, he has seen someone else who takes his fancy." " If he was cured ever bo much, he might have written something, if he could not come." "It is very awkward for Jim to write about anything his feelings are ooncerned in. He has not wordß to put such things into.'' " In such words as you have, Kenneth, and no such feelings to put them in," said Mr. Oswald, with a groan. " But it is a comfort to see yon, and a Btrength, Tou must help to keep me Bquare —Miok says I never was so outrageous, or bo long over it. And now I feel as weak as water. I feel as if I must have a pick-me-up. Just the least nip of brandy." " No, uncle, you know that a relapse is worse than the original disease. And Mrs. EUerton is really better—out of danger ?' " So Miss Gray writes to me ; such a bonny clear hand the lassie writes, as clear as print," and here the old man pulled oat of his pocket the dainty little note. " She saw I was sorely troubled that day at Wilta, and wrote the very first day they had good news, and indeed until to-day I was scarce fit to receive it." Kenneth read the note eagerly ; it was de cidedly cheerful, but Bhowed what cruel and prolonged anxiety they had all endured. Mr. Gray had written to the same effeot to Mr. EUer ton to his address in Sydney, where he and Jim were staying at a first-class hotel. " Whether is dying or living the worst after all?" he thought to himself moodily. "Sybil might have slipped quietly out of the world, and been released from all her sorrows and her diffi culties. Now she must face her position, and none could look gloomier." "She must stay at Wilta for Borne time longer," he said aloud. " Until the doctor orders her away for a change she must continue to be the guest of the Grays. Will Castlehurst be sufficient change!" " They have no house at Castlehurst No, it will be the seaside most likely they'll recom mend." " I wish EUerton would never return at aU * then she might go back to her father." ' " Not a pleasant home-coming, Kenneth. It is a very sore thing to go back to a father's house even if one is a widow ; but there are other circumstances harder to bear, and that is one of them." " Anything would be better and safer for her than the life she has led with EUerton. And such a mere child she must have been when she married him." " What for did she no get her licks, and be Bent to bed snpperless like a bad bairn, rather than be let marry such a piece of goods as that Ellerton. Oh I Kenneth, man, I must have a dram, I maun hae a dram. You can have no conception of the drowth that is inside of me. No in my mouth only—though that is as dry as a whistle—but all through me." " Come and have some sodawater." " That does not do it; the bit nip of brandy with it gives the world just another look." " Only for a time, uncle. For my sake, do hold out. Life has not been so pleasant for me while I have been here. I have wished, oh ! bow earnestly, I have wished that you would leave me free to foUow my own bent, and to work out my own fortune—but you said you needed me, and I have stayed. Do you think it has been easy for me to go through all I have with Jim and EUerton and that poor patient victim, who I dare say is sorry that she has been nursed back to life. But I watched for your sake, and for hers, that no harm should come to her. Do bear up, uncle, or I shall be dead beat myself. I'U take the good advice that a good friend gave me, and go off to carve my owa fortunes." "Kenneth," eaid hia uncle piteously, "you

know how much I have done for you ; you must not leave me." " I know it only too well; you never let me forget it; but I would rather have had less help and more consideration." "Who could consider you more than I do? You know how much I trust you, you know I have left you every penny I possess." •• You trust me a great deal too much. It is the cruellest thing you have done yet. You tie a man hand and foot by the strongest Bense of honour, and then overwhelm him with pecuniary benefits. I could forgive you anything but that." Qeorge Oswald cried like a child. He was not out of the depression caused by his recent debauch. He wanted to be coaxed, humoured, and amused, and this, in Kenneth's state of mind, waa impos sible. "I thought you were my friend, my only friend, but you are turning against me. My wife is no good to turn to ; she is no help to a man in perplexity, no cheer to him in trouble. My son Jim, he only looks on me as the purse keeper to satisfy his wants and to pay his bills and drafts, but you, Kenneth, if you turn against me now, I tell you I will blow my brains out, and then I can have no time to alter my will that you have such a spite at. And if it goes against you so sorely I'll try to think on some other way to do it. I know you're wanting to go to Wilta to inquire more particulars about Mrs. Ellerton, but I cannot waut you at home. You must stand by me. And let me have the soda* water, for God's Bake, if that's all I am to get." It was clear his uncle could not be left at the present time. He was not out of the wood yet, and a relapse would be a serious thing after such a deep carouse as he had had. So Kenneth got the sodawater, and gave orders for some food that might tempt his uncle, and Bat down and tried to eat it with him, and read the newspaper aloud, and tried hard to keep his own mind from wander ing too much to that sick room at Wilta, where his sister was fighting for life, with Edith Gray watching over her. (to be continued.)