|Chapter Title||- XVII, XVIII My Children! Oh, My Children!|
|Newspaper Title||The Australian Star|
|Trove Title||Dolph Meldrum's Wooing|
DOLPH MELDRUM’S WOOING.
An Australian Story.
By Mrs. BALDWIN HODGE.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
CHAPTER XVII.— (Continue J.)
Ho becamb insensiblo front lose of uloou anci shubk, and the handy uijn— there is apt to bo always one ill bush homes:— about tlio jiluoe, ivitli the' aptitude of one used 'to dispense with medical nirl nueniiifnil tiie blecdine. and. with that dangerous
"little knowledge," sowed ' the gaping wound to gether with ordinary needle and thread. For a day or two all appeared fairly well. After tliut oven tlloir hopeful eyes saw danger signals. On the dawn of a morning after a weary night ot suspense they decided not to physio longer on their own responsibility, but seek other uut. as the speediest means they decided to tnlio tlio pu- tiontinto Wooinu. . It was already too lato. The only hope lay in amputation, and tho condition of tlio sullercr ronilered that perilous. , ,. ... ' A'fow hours lifter his arrival the poor lellou was dead. AIT the bright, unfulfilled dreams of his' lite were suddenly shattered. A -life of. pro- . miso out oil' merely through' want of a little know ledge. Tho young widow, thus doubly bereft, be- came. a more subdued, saddened woman than her early girlhood promised. , It was Malcolm who related tho story to Mel- drum a few hours aftor they bcoumo friends. Mel- dru'ni easily saw the sorrow that was tlio dnugli-- tor's grieved also the fathoraiul mother. In many little ways it became evidcut the grief — now sumo years old — was as fresh in their memory as when tho wonuds wore fresh. CHAPTER XVIII. My CniLDitus ! On, My Cm omits I Women— men too, for that matter, tor the trait is not peculiar to sex — moulded us AghOB Holme uro entirely at tho mercy of the will of others. They act and live tho ideas promulgated by those nearest to them. Relieving as the companion of the moment listeth. Swnying in royorso direction by tho companion's supplauler. Under the combined inilueneo ot her husband s .contrariness of temper, and tlio tender preseuco
and forci vouesn of her jilted lover, Paradise loomed boforoiior imagination, as she contemplated' leav ing behind her iill household cures and worries, unit entering newborn a freer life, with a' man she herself honoured, and believed honoured by all men. Released from tho lover's inilitonce, and prompted by material love, tho thought of for gotten duties, returned to her. She drew book in alarmed amazement at the eunrniiity of tho wrong alio iiitcmlcd committing. Should she, because tliu man sworn to love ami cherish her ill drink forgot his manhood, forget her vows, and in cold blood neglect her children, and place a bun between her self and all other women. Ilur children 1 The cry of tlio mother wns great. The desolation her disobedience had wrought weighed heavily on her; Her children ! For thcui she had suffered so much. In theui slio; hail glonud when all around her was gloomy. All tho maternal ambit ion. her woman's heart had found comfort in 'camo back to her with tho memories of the past.'' After a long, wakeful Saturday night she rose 011 the (lawn of Sunday full iif self-abasement and sup plication to her Maker. "God, my Fiuhur, I pray Thee forgive mo. I liavo sinned ami strayed away from righteousness. I do nob deserve forgiveness, hut. Father in Heaven, have pity. Soften njy husband's heart, and give me back my children. Forgivu 1110 my sins, and help my weakness. Help me, 0 (Hod in Ilea veil, I have 11011c but Thee. If 'i'iiou forsako me Tain alone — I am lost." While tlio veil of the going' night still hung
about tho coming day aho repeated her prayer fog fogiveness. Afterwards, in accordance with her sensitive, sanguine nature, her prayer became tinged with gratitude. "Oil ! God. I thank Thee that Thou has kept mo from sin, that when my husband forgivcB my wilfulness I can seek my children unsullied by sin. Oh I God, I thank Thee." Gaining strength from lior prayer, and aided by tho yearning for her children's prcsenco she stealthily sought her old home. The illusive dreams of tho past weolc vanished, and in their place came dreams just as illusive of. working her husband's reformation, and guiding her children into safe life havens. She hud no intention of seeking admission to. the house/only a little tender glitneo at tho shelter that covered hor treasures. Such a homo-coming. Her heart yearned even towards the old shed at , tho rear of the house. It had once been a griev ance and an eye-sore to her. But nobody missed ; her or wanted hor. The house whs silent and tho bliuds drawn. A canary, neglectfully left in t.lio verandah all night, started a carol at the morning's dawn. The flow ers hor huuds had lovingly tended bloomed as fair and as sweetly as when she fostered thehi.:' , Chillcdnnd jealaus she crept, into a passion-vino- covered summer-house. Untidy shreds ofn.otiifd's doll patch-work, that had- been thero when last she was with them, wero strewn about. Was her house, she thought, a somblunco of this untidy placo, aiitl her children fit tenants foritho tiiicarou-for rooms.' Nightmaro had taken, tho plucoof dreams when the house was unlocked, and from her soeludcd eoriicr slio saw tho servant make hor uppcurnucc. .She heard the chipping of the kindling fortlio kitchen lire. Thou tlio crook- ling of tlio tiro itself. Hut tlio stab that went keen est was the gossip between Mary and tile milkman. " Missus not hack, I suppose!" iiBkeil the man. ' ' Mary had cviilontly found in him a willing lis tener to 1 lie family troubles. ' v " No, nor aiii't likely to be that I can see. She's gono for good, I bet. I'm oil' next week.. He's, a terror to livo with. Never gets homo , before morning, and Jane, iny sister, says she oun't stay liny' longer with me. Hardly good enough, tp, stay liy ynrsolf, is it';" Slio 'laughed !kiipwii|gly, anil tho eavesdropper shuddered. - "Hardly," was the joeriiig reply. "I pitys tlio kids— but it their own mother loaves them, T don't see iis .1 shouldn't. _If you hear of another placo let me know. ' Not loo bard. I'd like a place without washing, and1 iio kids." : : ! ' Tlio same thing, with stieht variation, was gone over with the Imtchur. Evidently tho affairs of the family were a common topic between the' girl and the tradesmen supplying tlio lioiiso. ..." " Missus not back! "No, nor not any signb." / "A pity; a great pity." " I don't know aa it is. I daresay slip's glad .to getaway." ' ' ' The listener's heart grew heavy with every word. It grow' numb with pain— pain liorno of solf-re-' proach and condemnation. Hut above nnd beyond the awful numbness came the cry for hor children. By-nml-byc, clamouring with boisterous laugh-, tor, tliuy rusjicd into the untidy kitelicn, the cider ones ivitli clothes hanging gul'iistcned, the'two ybuugor iu thoir night-robes. A moment's passage, and the separation was forgotten j tho mother was with them again. They oiling lo her, and slio to them'. Their laughter changed into tearful' protestations of joy. " Very pretty, Init rather amusing," iiitorru'ptcd the father's voice, after, the mother ami children became used bilee again to each other's presence, "Like a hail penny, you've turned up ogam." . Tlio mother roso und lifted a pule, startled faco to his. "George!" she cried, with a piteous, hand- lifting,, " Forgive me. I have sinned iii thought, but not in deed." There was little sentiment in. liiin. Nothing raised his ire liiore than any approach to it. - . " Enough of lliat foolory.- It would become you more to sot about gettiu J tho breakfast." Thus she returned. Mcltlrum quietly, began li is dutios, foolishly dreaming the while of tlio sacrifice he would make : for his holoved by giving up his work when slic came to him. . He feared 110 great obstacle in this placo obstructing h is fu t lire welfare, for material 111 shape of the newly-formed township lay to his hand tor him to wield. -They were dreamy days of ' labour,' fraught amid alluring dreams mingled with pangs of sulf-distrnst. He was not a sinner whom pleasure could ileiiderinsonsihlu, to. conscience. No,
amount of so-called happiness could dcadon tho sound that iolil of self-indulgence; Thero wero hours when ho upbraided himself as li'liyjioerito in making fricmls under the guiso of his "former integrity. Wlion lie touched tlio hand ofl another ho wondered if tho hand .would be withdrawn when his true character wero known. Yot ho never faltered for 0110 moment. The world —his, that hp learned to love so dearly for its Work's sake — was well lost. 1 . ' , (TO BE CONTIXOED.V ,