Chapter 20711675

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Chapter NumberXXIX
Chapter Title
Chapter Url
Full Date1881-12-17
Page Number777
Word Count8004
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 - 1939)
Trove TitleGathered In
article text

The Storyteller.

Gathered In.



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

KENNETH had read the stock and station reports and markets, which were always the most interesting portions of the newspaper to his uncle, when the latter interrupted him with:—

"KeDneth, heard ye ever much about the Diroms?" " Not much, except at times from yourself— they were the original settlers here ?" " Yes ; but it was not the Tingalpa you see it now—a bare poor place compared to what I have made it" "And you were originally their manager or overseer, aa Home and Mayne are yours now V "I had always more charge than any man has had under me—but of course it is true I was only their manager; but they liked Melbourne, and were there a great deal, even before the diggings broke out" "And they took fright at tbe overturn of everything then!" Baid Kenneth, helping his unole on with his narrative. • t "Yes; and they were disgusted with Mel bourne, and proposed to go home and let me manage on halves ; and it was as good a bargain for them as for me, and nobody can deny that— for labour was scarcely to be had, and I worked like a nigger myself and they took it easy. But after a while I proposed to them to give them • fixed sum by the year, beoause, you see, things were turning out well, and I could not just trußt myself to give them the fair half, so I made the offer, and they thought it a good one, and they closed with it. And after that I thought I could work with more heart if the whole of the profits were JRM9, «nd,i offered to buy out the Vta* &*ttj+*l a lorig prioe it seemed for me jtfi^tarMfctptod it;* bupoose r 7 35Mr ftJJltWs little, but they referred it to >Sl Melbourne friend, who advised them to olose with it, and they took my bills for it at 6, 12, 18, and 24 months, and when I cleared them off I wrote for you to be brought up like a gentle* man, and ever since that I have added flock to flock, and field to field ; but the Diroms, they are not over well off, I hear, and that's why I'd have Jim get so much by the year, for a sum of money gets leas and produces less if there's no wise handling of it—and so the Diroms," and George Oswald paused. " You would like to do something for them further," said Kenneth, who well remembered his uncle's strange prooedure about his old masters in their memorable first interview. " Ay, that's what I whiles think of; but how to do it ? You see, if I sent them siller it would seem to them as if it was conscience-money, and that I thought I had cheated them; and it's no the case. I just made my offer all the three times, and they closed with it. They consulted their friends and they consulted their lawyer ere they decided, and their advice was that the offer was fair. They were satisfied with it, and so was I. After a while it might turn out that I was a thocht mair than satisfied, and they were, may be, a thocht less, but no man shall say to me that at the time I drove a harder bargain than William Gray would have done— nor so hard. How did he buy out tho Evanses just near about the same time? and when I think on thae beasts he had of me I lose mind that I shook hands with him before I went on that splore that I wish had not come to an end yet for my drowth is just intolerable. But I know that William Gray aye holdß out the Diroms were taken advantage of. They were as sober as you are, and so was I, when we bargained by word of mouth, and surely when it comes to the pen they were likely to handle it better than the like of me. Kenneth, you must believe my solemn word, they were perfectly fair bargains all the three. Every new station I've bought as I have done this of Bally wallock, I've thought to myself: Would the Diroms, even with my management, have got so far ahead as me ? and the answer has always been No. They were soft and liked to spend, and, though I might have bianaged honestly by them, nobody manages just as well for another man as for his own work. See how the Grays lay hold of their business themselves. Very different men they are from John and Robert Dirom. If they had not sold to me they would have sold to some one else who would have driven a harder bargain, or they might have done foolish things, as my Jim

i *j^B ? l* n *ht *° pnbliah " Oathered In" in Queens-

is likely to do if ever he gets tbe handling of big transactions. Don't tell me that they would or could have made Tiagalpa what it is." " I don't think it at all likely that they would have done a quarter so well as you. I think your management is wonderful—superior in some respeota to Mr. Gray, and he was backed up in the worst times by his sons, while you worked single handed, and from all that I have heard of the brothers Dirom I am sure they would have Bold out sooner or later. Of course if they had waited till the rise in the value of all station property they would have had more monsy, but few people at that time had any idea of the ultimate benefits the goldfields and the increased population would bring to the squatter. " I had not much notion of it myself ; but still I was not downhearted like the Diroms." Here George Oawald paused as if he wanted Kenneth to make some suggestion. "Can't you speak, man—can't you say something ? What's the use of your schooling and your colleging and your books, if you cannot help a man to some way of satisfying himself without putting himself in the wrong ? I hate secret gifts (anonymous, they call them). If I sent them money that way it would be traced to me, and they would say my conscience smote me and I had to disgorge ill gotten Bpoils ; and my conscience is not smiting me a bit, any more than William Gray's is about thae beasts. OhJ Kenneth, man, just a nip just the least nip with the soda. If you will not give me counsel, you might at least give me drink." Kenneth held out about the nip, but it was not so easy to give advice. He knew bis unole was universally believed to have driven hard bargains with the Diroms, to have kept back facts, to have counted everything in the most advantageous way for himself; and, although the amount of blame was certain to have been exaggerated, he thought it likely that there was some, especially in his unole's ingenuous con fession that he wanted to buy the whole affair because it was so hard to be honest on shares. " And one reason why I wanted to leave the whole boiling of the property (fctoek and crop, as they say in Sootland) in your bands, Kenneth, my man, was that I could trust you, and that you might act as you saw fit, and could deal handsomely by the Diroms, and I would test quieter in my grave to think that it would be done. I had made a memo, for you in black and white." "But, my dear uncle, only tlink of resting quietly out of your grave, for that is the chief point to be considered now. It would not satisfy you to postpone what you wish for till you were dead, and when perhaps those old masters of youra did not need it or did not care about it" " Faith, I'll be caution, they'll never be put the need of £10,000, or past the earing for it Did you ever see the man alive that would not find it convenient to accept of suoh a sum of ready money ? Ask William Gray himself his opinion of that matter." "But they mijht die befcre you," urged Kenneth. " No, no, small chance of that, Kenneth ; my life's a bad one. I'd better tell you now. I'm not long for this worl<*. Every bout I take is so many nails in my coffin. And it's that that drove me wild to think of Jim running through everything, and the Diroms none the better; but you'll mind what I say about them." " This is only the depression after suoh a hard week as you have been having," said Kenneth. " Say a fortnight, for I. doubt it was that long; I've no count of time when I'm in for these bursters, but there was an awful file of papers to open. But it's no just the horrors that are on me. It's God's truth ; but I tell you, only you're no to open your mouth about it to living man or woman. What would they care for me if they thought I might go out like a flash of a candle any day? So about the Diroms—£lo,ooo is what I think would be handsome." " But, my dear unole, believe me it would be infinitely better for you to do this generous action yourself. You would be relieved at once." " It'B a lot of money, Kenneth. I could not just lay my hands on it, and then I could scarce bear to part with it if I could. Where* as you —it would be nothing to you — yea had never had the siller, and would never feel you were parting with it It would be easier for you to do it than if I had left it, as I might have left it, to Jim. But £800 a«year is owre little for yourself; make it £1000—make it £1000 ; and, with the house and the perquisites and the pickings that most managers get, that I'll no debar you from, you may lead the life of a gentleman at Tingalpa, and do well for the property, and get a wife and bairns about you." " But if Jim should marry and have a family, what then ?" '•He'll be better able to keep them with the gear in your hands than in his own. His son may take after me, and be of the saving kind, and be deserving of the place. And think, Kenneth, a thousand pounds by the year, and the worth of maybe five hundred more—where would your headpiece get you that elsewhere 1" " But I might change, uncle. The handling of so much money might be a snare to me ; and my cousin, distrustful and disappointed, might irritate me into not carrying out your intentions." "Kenneth, I'm between the de'il and the deep sea. I'd sooner trust you that you'll keep to be the honest man you are now than that Jim will change from a prodigal to be careful and prudent. And your very scruples show me that you mean to do your best by the property, by Jim, and by me. Only, what do you think ? We bad better have it settled what should be for Mrs. Oswald so long as she lives, and what for Jim. She must have her meat and her drink and her duds just all as good and as plenty when I'm under the ground as when I'm to the fore. No man shall say that George Oswald would see his wife scrimpit" " Settle by will one thousand, two thousand, or whatever you think fit, on Mrs. Oswald." " No, Kenneth. I'm no going to swallow the cow and worry on the tail of it If I provide for her and no for Jim it may make ill-blood between mother and son; and if he does not coax her out of it he'll Bulk and maybe never look near her—and that would be hard on her, poor woman. No, I put all my eggs in one basket; it's a big venture, but I can trust you witk it, and with the d——d Dirom business

too. For every £6 Jim gets out of the estate, Ut her get £1 while she lives, and when she is gone Jim may have it all. But, mind, dinna starve the property. Let everything be kept up as good as I leave it, and made better if it can be done. And thifl ten thousand to the Diroms V "It you would only write yourself to them, telling them the story exactly aa you have told it to me, honestly and straightforwardly," Baid Kenneth, " that you do not think, looking back on the transactions after this lapse of time, that you took any advantage of them in making very speculative arrangements for yourself ; but that aa things turned out, you gained more than you had expected, and that it would be a pleasure and a satisfaction to you to give them a share in your prosperity." " Not a share, Kenneth. I said a lump sum, no partnership—it's just an entanglement when one man is here and another man on the other •ide of the world. Oh ! it's a sore temptation to the flesh, and flesh is weak. Only, Konnetb, you look so much like your mother, that would rather be wronged herself than wrong anybody, that I feel as if I could trust you when I'm gone." " Well, trust me here and now, and write this letter ; send the money when you are alive, and can feel it something to give up—something taken out of the goods you have laid up for many years, like the rich man in the parable. And believe me, my dear uncle, your soul will be more at ease for the remainder of your life, be it longer or shorter, for having done so." "And that night God required his soul of him, Kenneth. It may be aa you say. I made a memo, for you, and it did me good to do that; I've spoken to you about it, fully and dearly, this day, and it has done me good to do that; but m you say it will maybe do me most good of all to take the bull by the horns myself, and get an overdraft or something of the kind. Though, Kenneth, we've stretched our credit for stocking at Ballywallock pretty dose. Maybe next year we'll be easier. Jim's drawing lota of money, too, with all this travelling with that blackleg. Next year, Kenneth." " Let it be done now, uncle Qeorge. You ask my advice, and you must take it You want relief now, and there should be no delay." Qeorge Oswald's opinion of his nephew rose at his firmness and promptitude, even though he had some natural pangs at such a large over draft, which would not be recouped substantially. He wrote the letter to his old employers, and a very good sensible letter it turned out, and in two days the first cf exchanges for £10,000 was remitted, vid Brindisi, to John and Robert Dirom We may anticipate a little the course of events, and say here that the astonishment of his old employers at this ualooked for liberality was unbounded. They had previously indulged in many reproaches against their old overseer, who had built a splendid fortune on their foundations, and had left them to live on a beggarly pittance. But the candour of the letter, and the handsome way in which this large sum was given, made a complete revolution in their feelings, and when the news spread among all the Australians travel ling or resident in England, who are a very clannish set of people, and through them back again to Victoria, Qeorge Oswald's character rose so high—every newspaper had such a paragraph about his liberality, he was so congratulated, so. shaken hands with by yeople who had been shy of hi n heretofore, especially by Mr. Gr»y—that he felt m if several nails had been taken out of bis coffin, and that he really could ftrgive William Gray altogether about "tbae beasts." From the moment the thing was done, he had felt relieved, and a few financial pinohes that had to be undergone reminded him every now and then that he had done a grand thing ; but when ha got the full credit for his liberality he was grateful to Kenneth, who had worked like a good one all the time, and who had taken an added interest in markets, in financing, and in turn* ing everything to the best account, in order to make this Urge disbursement the less felt And now that Kenneth was relieved from the care of Jim he could be much more serviceable to bis uncle, and the days passed busily and oheer fully, the evenings peacefully. Although the father and mother regretted the absence of their son, it was impossible for the cousin to feel it otherwise than aa a relief. And the prolonga tion of the absence and his apparent absorption in new plans seemed to all conclusive proof that he no longer cared for Mrs. Ellerton, and, as that was the main object of his travels, Qeorge Oswald felt somewhat more reconciled to his delay, and honoured his heavy drafts with a moderate amount of growling.

Chapter XXX. SYMPATHY. To return to the memorable d»y of Kenneth'B return to Tingalpa after his pioneer expedition, he took the earlieat opportunity, after his uncle was quieted and he seemed safe from relapse, to ride to Wilta to make inquiries after Sybil; and his anxious face and his Unconcealed agitation confirmed Edith Gray in her belief that this was the object of his deep and hopeless love. It was no doubt wrong to fall in love with one bound by sacred vows to another; but when this love asked nothing and gave everything it seemed to Edith only one of those ironies of fate that to often make or mar the noblest nature. How could he help loving the sweetest woman whom he had ever seen—the most unhappy, the most in need of a strong helping hand ? And to be loved so seemed to a girl whose heart had never been touched by passion, or even by that senti ment which passes for passion with so many women, the most precious thing (hat cculd be had in this lower world. The secrecy at d the repression of such love contrasted with the open and frank affection which Edith herself had from fond father and loving brothers. She som» times took herself to task for her interest, her syir pathy with what severe morality ought to stigmatise as sinful, especially as she could not help wishing that Ellerton might be put out of the way some how, for then Sybil might have a chance of happiness even with Mr. Oswald's nephew. How far was this love returned ? Sybil's pale face flushed a little when she receiv«d Mr. Kenneth Oswald's kind inquiries as to her health. "Tell him lam better—for the present at least. Might I see him, Edith ? I should to like to see him."

"Ib will not excite you, Sybil ?'' asked her a • ?% www friend. " No, it will quiet me, I think. But" " But you want to know is it proper '\ You have seen papa aud Walter occasionally for n few minutes, aud I think there ia no impropriety iv seeiog this good friend, who knew nothing about your illness till yeeterday." " I have no faith in getting well—that's why I want to say good-bye to him while I am able," saidSyliL " Don't be so gloomy, Sibyl ; does not the doctor say you are on the right way for recovery now ? But I'll bring Mr. Kenneth in. Don't upset him by your forebodings. He cannot stand it just vow." Did she care how she looked ? Not a bit. Edith just smoothed her hair, and administered the little refreshment she needed before she summoned Kenneth. She folt as if it would be treason to look- at the meeting, and was turning her head aside when Sibyl sought her hand, and drew her head close to her. Iv answer to Ken neth's broken, agitated, hesitating greeting— " I thought I should never have seen you again," said t- ybil, " and I wanted to thank you for all your goodness, and to give you my poor good wishes for your happiness. At present they say I am to live, but I do not feel as if I should, so I just wanted to Bay gooy-bye, iv case lam right. That's all." Kenneth still held tbe thin transparent hand Bhe offered to him. Although practised eyes could see that the crisis was paßt, she looked to him more like dying than living. " Wheu you go to Scotland, as uo doubt you will, fiad out papa and the rest of them, and tell them you were a friend—a dear friend—of mine." " What can I do for you ?" said he ; " there seems nothing for me to do now." " Not much here; you were very kind at Castlehurst. But if you would persuade dear Edith to go out for a ride with you it would please me. She looks quite worn out, and I cannot get her to leave me. Now the nurse is quite enough for me. A canter over tho Wilta bills may bring some colour to her chctks, and you can have the sort of talk you like." " I refused to go with Walter this morning, and he went off without me," said Edith. "But you won't refuse me this titno. I'm tired now. Go and have your ride," insisted Sybil. Edith yielded to her friend's wish, and Ken neth was only too happy to bo her companion. Two Wilta horaes were brought out, and Edith in h«r riding-habit and hab was ready with the least possible delay—aud the two were in the open air together. " She is going to live, Mr. Kenneth, whatever she may say—going to live. I suppose wo should be glad, and yet, though this is what wo have fought hard for, I feel it is a doubtful blessing," said Edith, when they had got clear of the place, and were taking the way to the wooded bills which Sybil could have a peep at from her window. " A very doubtful blessing indeed," said Ken neth. "Surely when people are bo miserably mated there should be some facilities for divorce." "I suppose the aggregate of happiness is secured by making marriage a contract not to be lightly broken," said she doubtfully. " You sco, it Suts both waya. Woman, beiug tho weaker, woulscome by the worst of it if she could b«j lightly cast aside. Men being the lawmakers would naturally carry out what suited them best if they made alterations in the laws of marriago ! ami divorce." l " That is severe, Miss Gray," saul Kennoth. " No, it is simply the truth, I think. If we were the lawmakers we should look out for our own advantage. But even though there is an especial hardship in poor Sybil's case there could be no chance of a rupture of the tie unless one or both of the parties earnestly desired it." " Do you not think she would if she could see a chance of relief V asked Konneth. "Scarcely, for she is proud, and could not bear any one to know of her unhappineas, lease of all her friends at home." " And he—do you think he cares about her V "In a certain way he does. He wan very dis appointed about the money, but he is proud of her beauty and her accomplishments, and I believe he thinks that he could make money by her voice. From thiogs that she dropped in her wanderings I feel Bure he would like her to go on the operatic stage." " That she must not do," said Kenneth em phatically. "Her father mutt be written to, Miss Gray. If no one else will do it I shall do it myself. That would be a desecration indeed." " So I think, but of course delirious wanderings are not certainties, they want confirmation. Papa and I are writing the doctor's opinion, and are passing as lightly over Mr. Ellertou's neglect as possible. I knew nothing would offend Sybil more than for any one to tell the dear ones at home that ahe is miserable. Oh ! could 1 ever be brought to such a pass that I should keep such things from papa ?" Edith Gray felt for her handkerchief in tbo pocket of her saddle, slackened the pace of her horse, and went off for the first time ia her life, to her own astonishment, into a fit of hysterical crying, every now and then laughing at herself, but in such an absurd uncontrollable way that it was much worse than tho toars. " You have been overdone, as Mrs. Ellerton says," said Kenneth. " Anxiety, fatigue, and no fresh air. It was time she ordered you out." "But to give way now, when bho is really better ; it is too absurd." " Not at all," Baid Kenneth. "It is when tho strain is off that one gives way. It all came ou me, illness, danger, and favourable cmic, yiHter day. And my poor uncle upset with it, an.l in other ways, in a moat unprecedented manner, needing my presence and help, or I hbouM have been here yesterday ; but I am not woru out with watching." " And would not cry if you were. It is co womanish, so babyish of me," said Edith. " How do you know that I could not cry. It would take very little to make mo cry now," said Kenneth, and his face showed the truth of the admission. " No, I don't mean to try. I'm going to make you laugh. We've had news from New Zealand." "Where you brothers are. Good news, I hope, especially of your favourite, Charlie." ' Ob, yes 1 the beat of news; he ii going to be

married. Should not I be pleased ?" said Miss Gray, biting her lip. " Yes, if you knew about it, and were prepared for it, and if you thiuk Bhe will make your brother happy." "I tbink she will," said Edith slowly. "I hope she will; but, as you aay, I was not pre pared for it, and it was a little hard to be put Beoond with Charlie just at one stroke. My Queensland brother ir married, and has four dear children, though I have never seen them ; he writes and Jane writes, and tho eldest tries to write too — such dear little letterß — and I seem to know all about them. But Charlie did not like to write till he was sure that this Helen Murray would accept him. I did not know his bopea and feaiH, his doubts and encouragements. If I bad I should have rejoiced over the news I had yesterday as sirjoerely and disinterestedly as you yourself could do ; but when it was put point blank as a 'fait accompli,'' to be made public at once, and a photograph Bent, and con gratulations desired, I could not but feel a little Helfiah," and Edith Gray cried again, but more quietly than bafcre. Kenneth's heart swelled withiu him with nympathy for her very natural feeling, and with pride at her confidence in him, and her praises of his sincerity and disinterestedness. "I do not wonder iv tho least at its striking you in this way. Was there no alteration in hia letters lately to prepare you for this ?" " Perhaps there were more poetical quotations and more metaphysics than usual, but I never suspected that he would fall in love without con fiding in me." "Do you judge of him by yourself ? Would you confide the rise and growth of an attachment to him ?" asked Kenneth. "Ah ! with a woman it is so different," Baid Edith. "If she is so unfortunate as to fall in love first, it is only foolish, not adventurous, or bold. If she receivea an offer about which she hesitates she has scarcely a right to betray con fidence, so her lips are closed until there is a definite engagement, and it is the fashion to be very prompt in publishing that, in order to cut off all hopes on both sides. It will come all right about Charlie when I get Helon's promised letter, and another one from himself ; but what with the suddennew of it, and with being in the depressing atmosphere of a sick room at the time, eun Sybil noticed my being more than usually uplet And when Walter asked me to ride with him this morning I knew he was only going to talk about this, and they are all so pleased." " The young lady, then, is satisfactory in every way, suited to your family expectations." " No money, if that is what you mean ; but of a very good family, indeed ; highly educated, and, by the photo, with a most interesting face, though not handsome. Papa is always glad to Bee his boys settled young. Walter is, I fear, going to disappoint him ; but the others are all sure to marry. Now I feel somewhat like myself again. I have got it out with you, as I could not with papa or Walter." " I am very glad to have been of any service to you, though, perhaps, if you had come here by yourself and told your feelings to the hills and the trees it might have done you as much good." "No, Mr. Kenneth, no. As our friend Mr. Henderson would say, human sympathy is better than the mute sympathy of Nature." " I spoke without believing what I said," said Kenneth. " I really feel as you do. That fine poem of our Australian poet, Henry Kendall, 1 Fainting by the Way,' which you pointed out to me lately, rung in my ears all the journey I took with the new manager my uncle had sent up to Kiverina, aud I could not help feeling that, fine as was the description of our desert waste lands, there was a sort of allegory conveyed equally powerful, of the help, the strength, and the cheer of human companionship and sym pathy," said Kenneth. " You felt the full force of the first verse, I'm sure," said Edith. Swarthy wastelands, wide and woodless, glittering miles and ruilos away, Whero the south wind seldom wander*, and the winters will not stay— Liirld wastelands, pent in silence, thick with hot and thirsty niglis, Where the scanty thorn-leaves twinkle, with their hag gard hopeless eyes. FurnaoeJ wastelands, huncht with hillocks, like to strong billows rolled, Where the naked Hats lie swirling, like a sea of darkened gold. Burning wastelands, glancing npward, with a weird and vacant stare, Where tho languid heavens quiver, o'er vast depths of stirlesa air. " I did feel the fidelity of the picture," rejoined Kenneth ; " but you recollect the despair of the one traveller, and his weariness, and his desire to be left to perish ; his want of faith in God or man to help in this scene of arid desolation, and that tho entreaties and the arguments and the encouragements were scouted." Leave me, brother, all is fruitless, barren, measureless, and dry ; And my God will ttever help me, though I faint and fall and die. " And the bolder, stronger, and more hopeful traveller will not leave him ; he speaks all the more confidently— Rise, and lean thy weight upon me; life is fair and God isjiut, And He yot will show us fountains if we only strive and trn-t. Oh, I know it, and lie leads us to the glens of stream nml shade, Where the low sweet waters gurgle round the banks that will not fade. Thus he spako, my frjend aud brother, and he took me by the hand, And I think we walked the desert till the night was on the laud ; Then we came to flowery hollows, when we heard a, far-off stream Singing in the moony twilight, like the rivers of my dream ; And the balmy winds came tripping softly through the pleasant treat, And I thought they bore a murmur like a voice from sleeping seas— Bo we travelled, so we reached it; and I never more sliall part With the peace, as oalm as sunset, folded round my weary heart. " I felt at a time when life was very hard for me that our friend Mr. Henderson took me by the hand." " What a strong love you have for poetry !" Raid Edith after a pause. " Since Charlie went I have rather missed my most appreciating istener. I suppose you and Mr. Stalker had great sympathies then, or was your taste of earlier

date?" said Edith, who had a great curiosity about Kenneth's youth. " It was my mother who first gave me the love for balladß and for poetry of every kind," said Kenneth. " And she died whoa you wore quite young— ten years old, I have heard you say. I kept my dear mother till I was sixteen, and then I sup pose it was all the harder to lose her." Kenneth felt how much harder the loss had been for him than for her. " I lout far more, however," Baid he unconsciously, repeating his father's words to his grandmother. " I have always felt a strong interest in your mother, who clung so olosoly to her dead husband's father and mother. Another and a better Ruth, for Ruth shook off her cares by making an advantageous marriage, while your mother, in the words of Sybil's ring, was ' faith fulle unto deathe." And she loved poetry and nature, and had a motherly heart to the pretty girl you told me about who lives with your grandparents, and writes to you for them every month—so that she won a successor for her duties." How Edith had pieced out his mother's cha racter from his chance hints ! " And Bhe died so young," continued Edith. "I cannot recollect my mother as other than middle-aged, for I was the last of the family. You must recollect yours differently. Have you not got her likeness "in that locket you wear ?" "Yeß, hers and Nelly's," said Kenneth. "Would you like to Bee them?" and he un fastened the locket from his watch chain and handed it to Edith, who opened it, and was at first a little puzsled to tell which was the mother's, for they both looked so girlish. But a second glance showed the strong likeness to Kenneth. "It is a lovely face," Baid she, as she returned it " I thank you very much for the sight of it Ah ! I think you needed some one to take you by the band in the desert, when you had no longer that dear mother, those college friends, and those intellectual pursuits. Tingalpa must have been' fruitless, barren, measureless, and dry, for you." " I hear Mr. Henderson has been in the neigh bourhood," said Kenneth. " Yes, you missed him in his round last week. He had taken a shorter beat. I think he had heard of Mrs. Ellerton's illness somehow, and came to ask for her. He prayed with us for her in such a way that the whole of the people in the men's dining-room were in tears, and he gave me some good counsel about bearing up, that it appears did not stay with me long." " And my uncle would miss him too—that's a pity." "Oh ! he was at Tingalpa," said Edith. "But my poor uncle was not fit to receive him. He took Jim's indifference very hardly to heart" "I waa only too glad of it That trouble is over at least," said Edith. " So it appears, but his father was hurt at his cold- heartedness." " I like your uncle so much more than I could have thought I would do. He showed so much feeling about poor Sybil and such righteous indignation at her husband's conduct that he won my heart. I was sorry to hear he had given way—but he must have missed you. It must be a great satisfaction to you to feel you can supply in so many ways the place of his dis appointing son." All this talk waa very pleasant to Kenneth, although he knew well that there would have been less confidence, Ipbs approval, if she had not believed that his affections were engaged by her friend, his unsuspected sister. as Sybil slowly gathered strength, and began to be convinced that she was really to take np the burden of life again, Kenneth's visit* to Wilta were pretty frequent He made them sometimes fit in with his business, and some times took them as independent errands. He was always admitted to see Mrs. Elerton in her room for a short interview—as it was some time before she could be moved into the drawing room. Sometimes he brought a bunch of rare heaths or flowers from his long rides, sometime* birds he had shot to tempt her appetite, some times a book he thought would interest her, and always the little flush of pleasure rose to her cheek at his messages and gifts. She looked very glad to see him on the day when she first sat up in her invalid chair, set close to the open drawing-room window, so that she could look at and smell the flowers, and feel the freshness of the air. Edith was determined not to look on at this meeting. She pretended to be arranging some flowers on a stand at a little distance, but she could not help catching a few words. There was emotion on both Bides, plainly perceptible to her ears, so after a few low toned questions and replies she thought she might join in, partly to check any undue agita tion. Sybil looked on her friend's face with loving grateful eyes, in which, however, there was unutterable sadness. "You have called me back to life with all your care, and it seems thankless in me to care about it bo little." " Not so much as your friends do for you, or as much as you will do for yourself when you get stronger. This life has such limitations that it can scarcely be called living," said Edith. " Some blessed limitations," said Sybil; " you seel need to do nothing—and care about nothing." " And that is the hardest part of it to me. All my happiness springs from what I can do and care about Don't you feel the same Mr. Ken neth ?" said Edith. " That is the happiness of health, and youth, and activity," answered Kenneth, " which you and I ougbt to feel. The happiness of conval escence and of peaceful old age is different." " I should be bo impatient if 1 were chained to that chair, nod far worse if I had to stay for weeks in bed. I have not been tried by any ill lie* s that I can recollect of. I have most vulgar and uuimeresting good health." " There is one limitation that I do chafe at, however," said Sybil—" my letters. When may Ibe allowed to write ? They kept all my letters from me till three days ago, and then I got them by instalments, and that martinet of a doctor said I was the worse for reading them." " I thought you would have been still worse if they had been kept from you longer, but It

delayed your being in the drawing-room two dayi, he said," observed Edith. " Edith has been bo good as to write by each mail to mamma ; and Mr. Gray and the doctor to papa." " And very painful it was to do it," said Edith. " But I want to write to papa myself—and after I have read the lettera I feel the more anxious," " No bad news ?" asked Kenneth anxiously. " No, except that he had lost an old friend, his family lawyer, Mr. Shiel—you may have beard me mention him—and my father felt it a great loss, though ho is quite an old man, and it was to be expected. But grandpapa seems breaking up a good deal after his misfortunes, and mamma had been much with him in Edinburgh, and papa was dull, and fretting about my being so far away, and he would get aueh bad news about me." " This illness of yours must have been a great trial to them," said Kenneth. " Only a trouble—here or there, only a trouble. I thought I was going to rid you all of me, but here I am. You nre all too good." " Could not I write for you," said Edith, " to your dictation." She ÜBed the words Kenneth would have been no glad to Bay. " No, I must write myself, if it's only a short letter. He will never believe that lam really better if I do not write with my own hand." " Bat you will allow me to supplement your letter by telling what an angel you have been, and how dear you are to all of us. I shall enjoy writing to Mr. M'Diarmid —to a gentleman whom I have never Been, and may never see. It ia a great deal more charming to my fancy than writing to a lady." "Don't say whom you may never see. Of course you are going home soon, end if they do not rejoice over you at Castle Diarmid—if papa does not fall in love with you at first sight, and perhaps some one else—it will be strange ; only I shall not be there to see." "Why not, Sibyl? Stranger things have happened. There is nothing apparently so easy as moving to and from Australia nowadays." "No home-going for me," said Sybil; and i»be crumpled in her hand the last letter she bad re ceived from her husband, announcing that " as she had now turned the corner, but was likely to be some time before she was rtrong enough to go home again, hia friend Jim Oswald and he had determined on extending their trip and going vid New Zealand to San Francisco. This would make young Oswald's tour complete in one direction, and he would only need a journey home per mail steamer vid Suez to make him a thoroughly travelled monkey who had seen the world," Mr. Ellerton said in hi* epistle. " I look forward to your going, Edith—and you too, Mr. Kenneth, I feel sure you will learn to know and to prize my father even more than his photo graph." "There is not much chance of my getting such a holiday for many years to coma, if ever," said Kenneth. "I have not been long in the colony, and if my uncle did not see the good of it for himself it is not at all likely that he will think of my needing or deserving such a treat— and business will never call me to England." " You would like to see the grandparents who brought you up," said Edith, kindly, " and your clever fellow-students, especially the young olergyman you speak of; and Mr. Oswald will give you a holiday for the purpose, and then you will see this photnix of a Mr. M'Diarmid. But do you know that the way in which Mrs. Ellerton talks of her father sometimes puts me a little out of humour. There's my own father, the very best and kindest of men ; but he is not such absolute perfection as this Highland chief tain. He says a hasty word now and then. People say he's a keen band at a bargain ; he is a little regardless of appearance—not that I like him any the less—not a bit; but there is no weak spot in Sybil's father." " Perhaps it is because you do not see him so closely as yon see your father," said Kenneth. " Well, it may be so, but really Mr. M'Diarmid seems too good to be spoken of except on Sun days, to use the words applied to hiß father by a poor ne'er-do-well who was sent out here to see if anything could be made of him, and nothing could." And the girl sighed. " What leverage can we apply to such people as you speak of ?" Kenneth said, " and yet there must be a power of recovery in every human soul. But no one but God can know how and where to strike the apparently dead conscience, and to strengthen the wavering will. We are so blind, so possessed with our own conceits about our fellows, that we strike falsely and drive them often in the wrong direction." "You are thinking about your cousin," said Sybil, softly. Kenneth, in fact, was thinking of Jim, but also of Mr. Ellerton, who seemed to him to be a still greater failure, and, as he had had orignally much more mental power, he was a more mischievous member of society—and to this worthless fellow's lot that poor struggling life had linked itself. " Yes," he answered, " I was thinking about him a good deal—but this is too much talk for an invalid." "I am not strong yet; it will take so long, as Herbert says. I have been so nervous and irri table that often I could not bear even to be road to, though Edith reads so beautifully. But I must gain strength for my letters on Tuesday. If Igo on as lam doing, I shall get leave to write; if not, I suppose I must get a friend's help." She did not particularise Edith, and Kenneth liked to think that if Edith had not been at hand he might have been trusted in preference to Mr. Gray or hia son, and Miss Gray read the expres sion of his face. [to be continubd.]

A vert precise and respectable lexicographer* when asked fur an exact definition of tlie word "paraaol," replied ilowly : " ' Parasol ?' It is a protection against the sun used by ladle* made of cotton and whalebone." A clkbotmam's servant, having a strong deaire to try his hand at pulpit oratory, managed during the indisposition of hia master to get powex^lon of the pulpit. The congregation was yery large: so large, indeed, that Put, who wad " unaccustomed to public •peaking," stood in the pulpit with hi« head hung down, and look ing as Mieepiuli as poasi hie. Ueeperatioii nt \a»; inspired hiiu with courage, and he bawled out: "If any of ye haa got any couiate about preciiitig, yo had bettor come np here."