|Chapter Title||The Story of the Savilles. Crying twice, O child, and thrice So that men's eyelids thickened with t|
|Newspaper Title||The Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 - 1939)|
|Trove Title||More about Misrule|
MORE ABOUT MISRULE.
CHAPTER XVIII.-The Story of the Savilles. Crying twice, " O child," and thrice So that men's eyelids thickened with their tears.
By ETHEL TURNER.
A sad enough tale in very truth. The Savilles came from Queensland, where they had owned a great station; droughts, bad times, the tick pest—nothing seemed to affect
them, and they grew richer every year. Mrs. Saville had been a lovely, petted society girl, but when the first child came she gave up her gaieties willingly enough, and lived the greater part of the year on the great station, entirely absorbed in her beautiful little girl. After three or four years Lylie came, and later Jack; but the mother's chief love and pride seemed concentrated on Enid, the one who had come first, and was so bright, so lovable, so beautiful and high-spirited that all who saw her were captivated. Mr. Saville shared her pride; it was his delight to teach the little girl to ride, to drive, to swim, and a well-known sight around Coorabong was the pleasant-faced squatter mounted on a big boned favourite of his, and by his side, on a horse almost as high, Enid in her little holland habit, with a sailor hat and a fly veil, her bright hair blowing behind her, her eyes sparkling, her little hands skilfully guiding her great steed. When the child was about eight some races were were got up among the big stations about, and importance was lent to them by the fact that besides Sydney and Brisbane people a number of English visitors were to be present. Saville himself was greatly interested in the event, and worked hard to make it a success. " We'll show these English fellows what riding means," he said, and scoured the country for miles around to be sure no able horseman nor promising horse had been overlooked. There was to be a ladies' jumping contest, and he was anxious to enter Enid for it, for young as she was she and that loose-boned horse of hers could take a fence with most of the women riders in the district. But Mrs. Saville had always been nervous of Enid jumping; indeed it was a matter father and daughter chuckled over and kept to themselves that the latter could jump at all. A born little horsewoman, the child had given her father no
peace until he allowed her to follow him over his fences, and at last he had a low hurdle or two put up for her in a far paddock, and took her there to practise daily until she became unusually expert. Utterly fearless himself with horses, he had taught Enid to be the same, and though he selected her horse with the greatest care and gave some hundred and twenty guineas for it, he had little more apprehension for her safety when he watched her galloping beside him than he had for her when he saw her walking about on her own two legs. She entreated him to enter her for the jumping contest. "Let's do it and s'prise mamma," she begged; " let's keep it secret right till the time." So he smiled and entered her name. It would be easy enough at the time not to let her start if her mother objected strongly, he told himself. In the meantime he took the eager little rider every day to the actual scene of the races to familiarise her with it, and watched her clear the four hurdles— they were not very high— one after the other as easily as he could do it himself. The race day came, and all the neighbour- hood turned out with all its horses, and all its motley assortment of vehicles, and all its babies. Many of the woman rode, and any horse it seemed that came handy—a heavy farm one in man cases. Habit-skirts were by no means the order of the day, and the English visitors were vastly entertained by the specta- cle, common enough at Coorabong but a very circus item to them, of girls riding in ordinary print or cashmere dresses with frills and furbelows, and an old woman of sixty in a brown stuff dress heavily trimmed with beading and steel work, plodding along on the back of a steed that might have been born the same year as herself. As a rule Mrs. Saviffle herself rode to those events, but this particular day she was watching the events from the box-seat of the drag, with Jack and Lylie and two or three of the many visitors they were entertaining at the time on the station. When the ladies' jumping contest was announced there rode into the big ring only some half-dozen competitors—two or throe girls in fresh blouses, very long serge riding skirts and sailor hats, a squatter's young wife in a blue cloth habit, up to date, and a natty felt hat, a tall woman wearing a faultlessly fitting dark-green habit and an immaculate tall silk hat, and looking for all the world as if she were going for a trot on London's Rotten Row. Saville looked dubious when he saw her, for she made a busi- ness of these country races, and carried the prizes off everywhere; Enid had at least a chance among the other competitors, but with this one starting there could only be one end to the race. He decided he would not even cross the grounds to the drag and beg his wife's per- mission for their child to start, as had been his intention; he had left the asking until the last moment, thinking it likelier that she would consent if she had no time to think it over. Then into the ring came riding his little girl. The eyes of the whole course were on her in- stantly—such a picturesque, small figure in the little white linen habit and the little white helmet, beneath which fell the sunny curls. Such a saucy glowing, happy little face, such eager small hands—one holding the reins, one the gold-mounted riding-whip he had given her. " No, lassie, no. It's no use starting, you'll only be disappointed,'' he said "go outside and watch." " Ah, no, no—ah, daddie, I must—oh, did she say so ?—oh, let me go and beg and beg and " The sole, right of serial publication in Queensland has been secured by the pro- prietors of the "Queenslander."
beg !" Such a flame of scarlet on her cheeks! " I haven't asked," he said, "but see, Miss Clinch is going to ride—yon would stand no chance whatever." " Let me try, let me just try," she urged ; "oh, I must try, I must try—Gaylad is lovely this morning, he knows he can win everybody and everybody. Oh, make her let me—make her let me !" The eyes of all the multitude on his little girl—how his heart swelled with pride for her; she could not win, of course, with that woman there, but how good it would be to show those city people, those English fellows, what she could do! "Beg, beg," she urged—" and, quick, quick —they'll be starting in 'bout five minutes." He half turned from his place—he was acting as one of the judges—to go to the drag. But here was Mrs. Saville hurrying across to the ring on foot. What was it they were all saying—her little girl entered for a jumping race ? She was quite white when she reached her husband. " What nonsense is this ?" she said sharply; " they are saying you have put Enid down for this race. Of course it is untrue." "Beg, beg, beg," said Enid, riding round and round them anxiously. "Won't you consent, dear," said Saville. "I have trained her thoroughly myself. She is as safe as a church on Gaylad, you know. I'd like to show them all what she can do." "Never, never," said Mrs. Saville; "how could you! Send her out of the ring at once. How dare you without consulting me ? How could you?" Her very lips were white. Round and round them rode Enid. " Oh, let me, darling mamma, let me—oh, I'll be so good always, I'll learn to sew, I'll do anything—oh, mummie, mummie."
The fink bell rang for the race. " Send her out to me—get off your horse and come in the drag with me, Enid, at once," Mrs. Saville said. "Nothing in the world would make me allow you." Seville was sorely disappointed, both on his own account and the child's; but his wife had her rights. " Very well, dear," he said, " of course I'm sorry, but since you feel like that about it she shall not start. You'd better get back now to the drag, you'll see better from there." Mrs. Saville moved away again, relieved, and hastened back to her seat, the memory of having left Jack on that high seat hurrying her footsteps. The riders were in a row and waiting. " No," said Seville shortly, "my little girl isn't starting. Ride out, Enid." The child gave one more passionate appeal. " Oh, daddie, daddie, let me," she said, for I know I could win her." Such eyes, such lips all a tremble, such scarlet in her cheeks ! There was the racing fever in all to the Savilles' blood—father, grandfather, great grandfather, all had owned racehorses and ran them. Now on Gaylad's back sat one of the same blood fighting with a feeling she had no understand- ing of, and that seemed only last born in her. "Oh,daddie !" she said.
Saville choked something out of his throat. It hurt him like a knife to disappoint her so grievously. He reached up a moment and squeezed her little hand, he made her reck- less promises— horse, a visit to Sydney, anything she liked to ask him to make up for this. "They are waiting, sir," said a man. " Ride out, Enid," Seville said, and the little girl dropped her face, and rode her horse slowly to the fence. Saville was to start the race. He gave a quick, irritated look at the line of riders—what interest could he take now in any of them? Then he fired his pistol and off went the eager horses. Over the babble of the crowd rang a woman's scream; Saville sprang forward suddenly, then stopped stock still. There was Enid riding madly after the tearing horses. Enid he had actually seen right at the fence. To the spectators generally, so quick had the whole thing been, It seemed she had started with the others. They were at the first hurdle; some one's horse grazed it—you heard the clatter of its hoof on the wood! No, not Enid; the brown horse had skimmed it easily and was striding along, fast picking up lost ground. They were at the second hurdle. Up, up— and over again, like a bird, like a bird ! A cheer broke from the crowd, all for the little white figure and the flying curls. She was past all but the green habit now; cheer after cheer rose up as she had gained on one after the other—good horsewoman all of them, but there was another horse of Gaylad's strain? They were at the third hurdle now, and the white-clad rider was over again easily, easily. Saville's heart was thumping with pride and terror; she was leading—see, half a head be- yond the green habit; half a head, three quarters—why, Gaylad's heels were right in front of the bay horse's head. But now the green habit is gaining again—yes, yes, she had plenty of strength in
reserve; she shoots right on in front, and look, look, the little white figure seems to droop a little, to falter! Saville is tearing over the ground on some one's horse, shouting, cheering—"Up, Enid, up with him up, darling, up, up !" It is the only way to save her; excited horse, excited rider, he dare not shout to her to stop and risk her pulling up at such a pace. " Up, my darling—up, girlie, hold him together, up—p—p!" The green habit is over easily, the little white one rises after it—up, up, well enough, but the race is lost, lost ; oh, bitter disappointment, and the little hands, tired and trembling with the strain, relax, and the green back becomes a blur, and a noise of hoarse waves is in her ears. Gaylad's head is not coming up again at all—oh, the crash of his heels on the wood behind her—oh, the sickening thud on the fresh, spring grass !" "Daddie !" she shrieks, just before the horrible second, then out go the sun and the trees—and a surging darkness, rent with a woman's frightful scream, falls over her. If you had spoken of the occurrence in Coo- rabong two months afterwards every one would have told you that the child had escaped mar- vellously. " Not a bone broken—a shock to the system, of course nothing more." You
would also have heard that the Savilles had gone away, taken the child to England for a change and to help recovery. Even four years later, though Queensland friends had seen the Saville names in the shipping lists as returning from England, the Coorabong homestead still remained shut up, and the family seemed to have dropped out of the lives of every one. No one even knew where they were actually living. Occasionally Saville was met by old friends, but he only spoke vaguely of his place of residence, and said, " Yes, Mrs. Saville was well and the children were well." Escaped miraculously ! Yes, the little fallen body had done that, but the bright, active mind? The frenzied mother for long refused to acknowledge that anything was wrong when the first shock had passed and the child was about again looking like herself, but acting so very differently. Then, when there could be no longer doubt that there was something seriously wrong, she rushed to England, to Germany, to France with her, and the brain specialists saw her, and some shook their heads and some said that time might work the cure that they could not. And years went on—four, five of them, and the condition remained the same—a state of stupor occasionally varied by fits of wilful and malicious mischievousness. The mother shrank unutterably from the fact being known; she clung tenaciously to what one of the German specialists had said— that at fourteen there might come a change and the torpid condition might past away. In the meantime she put forth all her powers to hiding the present state, lest when the girl was grown up and possibly well again people should whisper and point at her. The lonely, tree-surrounded house next to Misrule had struck her as the one place where they might live comfortably and healthily and yet hide the secret. She engaged Island boys for the housework to avoid having chattering women-servants, and then with dogged patience she set herself to the work of combating the girl's heavy moods, training, suggesting, watch- ing, watching. Such a task demands the best bodily, mental, and moral powers, and they were forthcoming. She became a woman of one idea, interested in nothing beyond the daily development of her unfortunate child. She discharged her duties towards Lylie and Jack most faithfully, taught them herself, to avoid bringing any one else to the house, even tried to find amusements for them. But she remained frozen at the heart; and in all those five years had never forgiven her husband, never spoken an unnecessary word to him. He acquiesced in the punishment, and became a quiet, gentle fellow such as his old friends would not have known. Though his wife would have little of his help with the child, preferring to rely solely on herself, still he stood by, ever ready, leaving home only when business took him, and hastening back as quickly as might be to the gloomy place, he whose nature seemed made for merriment, sunshine, and prosperity. He would never forgive himself—that went without saying; never would he lose the memory of that green paddock, and the brown horse with the little white figure as it rose over the fourth hurdle and crashed down the other side. But in all that time he had never even tried to clear himself from blame to his wife; never told her that he had sent the child out of the ring, and had never dreamed of her starting. He felt he could not lay the blame on the poor little girl's shoulders and tell of her willful dis- obedience; the fault was his, for he had taught her to jump, had wanted her to be in the race; the childish impulse that had led her to start her horse when the others did she should not be held accountable for.
And yet had he spoken it would have made some difference to his wife ; for the most bitter and the most unforgivable part to her had seemed that altar promising her, the moment her back was turned, even before she could take her seat again in her drag, he had gone from his word and permitted the child to go. 80 the dreary years dragged on, and the five lives that had been as full of sunshine as their bright Queensland was moved now in the deepest shadows. Lylie grew up curiously like her poor sister in appearance, but timid, shrinking, depressed as was natural. Jack, his father's nature stronger in him, made attempts to enliven his days as has been seen. Saville spent a fortune on toys for all three of them, and carried the two younger ones off from time to time to the pantomime, to circuses and such, to try to make up for the gloom that was their daily lot. He had begged the mother to allow the companionship of the young ones from Misrule, but she had vehemently refused, not trusting the discretion of either Lylie or Jack until they ware older. " They are better off than many children as it is," she said coldly; "they must expect, situated as we are, to make some sacrifice for Enid, who is cut off from everything." It was when she took Enid for the daily
drives in the brougham that Jack had made hay, though so firmly had even he become im- pressed with the necessity of telling nothing about the strange sister who lived upstairs and did such queer things from time to time, that Misrule had never learnt from him that he had any sister but Lylie. And then a whole day's absence of the mother, and here came this new and frightful tragedy ! Saville had been sitting with the child in the beautiful room they had furnished for her, watching her as she sat turning over and over again a box of coloured bits of silks and vel- vets. She had not grown very tall in all these years, indeed Lylie had almost caught her up, but she looked strong and healthy. The hair was the same, the bright light curls that had blown out in the wind that frightful day. But the eyes that had sparkled and danced, the bright face that had had the young soul aglow in it—ah! these were changed, lustreless, ex- pressionless. Saville had sat watching her in saddest reverie, thinking of the days when she had galloped, laughing, chattering, by his side over the white roads round Coorabong. And sleep crept over him! The strain of the trouble had made him a victim to insomnia all the five years, and the last two nights had been the worst he had ever experienced. Outraged nature rebelled, his head fell back against his
chair and he slept—slept and dreamed he was lifting his beautiful girl, laughing, loving, up on to Gaylad's back. And Poppet had awakened him, shaking him by the arm, sobbing, shivering, gasping about the fire. (To be continued.)