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Chapter NumberX
Chapter Title
Chapter Url
Full Date1870-12-31
Page Number7
Word Count2376
Last Corrected2011-04-05
Newspaper TitleThe Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 - 1939)
Trove TitleVicissitudes of an Orphan
article text

The Storyteller.

Vicissitudes of an Orphan.



BITTER feelings towards Paul did not long have the ascendant in the bosom of the capa- cious Lady Alicia. She loved Paul too well to

continue in this strain. All the morning

after the discovery of her deceit she remained in her room, the prey alternately to disappointed affection, to mortification, to rage —the first, however, being the prevailing senti- ment. At last the bell rang to dress for dinner, and the loud alarum recalled her to the duties of ordinary life. She washed away the traces of tears, freely bathed her face to compose her nerves, and, attiring herself with unusual ele- gance, descended to join the company. Her pride had regained its ascendancy. No one, to see that smiling face, would have imagined the tempest of passion which, but an hour before, had convulsed its every feature. Not for the world would the Lady Alicia have had her weakness suspected. But new mortifi- cations were in store for her; chance placed Paul by her side at the table; his manner, though studiously polite, was utterly changed— it wanted everything like sympathy, and the Lady Alicia now experienced, in all its agony, the woes of unrequited love. The torture she had so often, in her selfish vanity, inflicted on others, was now visited on herself. The next day had been set apart, by an ar- rangement made nearly a week preceding, for a picnic on the sea shore. The Lady Alicia, sick at heart, would have pleaded illness and re- mained at home, only she feared Paul would sus- pect the truth. The rack would have been preferable to such protracted agony. For, strange to say, the Lady Alicia all through the day hoped, in spite of reason, that Paul would relent; in this re- spect she was no wiser than the simplest rustic. The most accomplished coquette, when in love, is indeed as week as the silliest of her sex. It was this constant hope, and the incessantly re- curring disappointment, that rendered the tor- ture of the Lady Alicia so acute. At length the party prepared to return. They had ridden some distance when the Lady Alicia, for a moment, threw her bridle on the horse's neck. Unfortunately, just at that in- stant, a dog sprang at the animal from a copse by the road-side. Arab snorted wildly, and set off at full gallop. For once, too, the Lady Alicia lost her presence of mind, and screamed in earnest This assisted still further to terrify the animal. Several gentlemen immediately started in pursuit, but their efforts to assist her only increased the peril, for Arab, hearing the clatter of hoofs behind him, became more and more excited than before, and galloped on at a terrible pace. His rider had now lost all control over him. It was soon apparent that, in his flight the horse did not know what direction he was taking; for he rushed forward regardless of impediments. A wild, broken bit of unenclosed land, with a dwarf tree here and there on its rocky surface, lay before the Lady Alicia. On one side of this plain, was a deep ravine, through which ran a stream over innumerable stones. A more dan- gerous locality could not have presented itself. Had Arab, however kept straight on, there would have been comparatively little peril; but, suddenly leaving the road, he darted madly in the direction of the ravine. His rider sat pale and apparently lifeless, clinging to the terrified beast, incapable of exertion. A cry arose simultaneously from all who were sufficiently in advance to behold this. The death of the Lady Alicia seemed inevitable. "Oh! save my child," shrieked Lady Henley. "Will no one save my child? And she looked       frantically round. Paul caught that beseeching look, in which all a mother's agony was concentrated. He had not joined in the chase after Arab, for he knew that it would only terrify the steed with- out assisting the Lady Alicia. But now, for- getting his wrongs, and remembering only the mother's imploring look, he put spurs to his horse in the heroic effort to save a life or lose his own. Fortunately he was mounted on a powerful hunter of the Irish breed, accustomed to follow the hounds through the roughest spots, and completely under control. Leaving the road, therefore, he struck into the broken ground, taking a diagonal course towards the ravine. He calculated that Arab and he would meet on the edge of the precipice; and this, he knew, was the only chance to save the Lady Alicia. Every one comprehended, at once, the plan, and wondered that no one but Paul had thought of it. As if instinctively, they drew in their horses, and breathlessly gazed on the thrilling spectacle. Faster and faster went Arab; but equally swift was the stride of the hunter. It was an appalling race. A few minutes of suspense succeeded. At last Arab, reeking with foam, and wild with fright, reached the edge of the abyss, over which another leap would inevitably precipitate him. But, close at hand, though separated by a tremendous stride, was the gallant hunter held firmly in hand by Paul, who, half rising in his stirrups, seemed preparing for some bold attempt. A half-suppressed sob arose from the crowd. Then, with a desperate leap, Arab, as had been foreboded, disappeared down the ravine. The spectators shrieked aloud. For a moment, all believed that the Lady Alicia had gone over the precipice with her steed. Her mother fainted; but the daughter, thanks to Paul, still lived. The hunter urged to his utmost by a keen ap- plication of the spur, had passed, in a single tremendous stride, the distance between himself and Arab; and Paul, himself, having prepared, as we have seen, for the crisis, succeeded in snatching the Lady Alicia from her saddle at the very instant Arab took his final leap. Hav- ing affected this, Paul swerved his horse round, and the next moment was galloping back to- wards the group of spectators. The rescue had been effected by little short   of a miracle. Had Paul's hunter become infec- ted with Arab's terror, or failed instantaneously to obey spur and bit; had the foot of the Lady Alicia caught in the stirrup; or had the stal- wart arm of Paul missed its rapid clutch, both she and himself would have been carried to- gether down the abyss, and shared the fate of Arab, who was found on the ensuing day, crushed on the rocks below. When the Lady Alicia revived, she seemed to know instinctively who had been her preserver. Half opening her eyes, she felt a thrill of hap- piness in finding herself on Paul's bosom. Oh!   how she longed to tell him her gratitude and

love; to cast herself on his mercy; to vow eternal constancy in return for his forgiveness! But as yet she dared not. Hope, however, re- awakened in her heart, and she flattered herself that the time for such a revelation might event- ually come; for surely this rescue would re- kindle Paul's affection. Such things, at least, had been. She would tell him she had been jesting in the conversation he overheard; and,   as she thus thought, every nerve quivered with delight. After that hasty glance, undetected by Paul, she remained with her eyes closed, nestling to his broad bosom. At last he reached the group of anxious spectators. Her mother, having recovered from the swoon, was anxiously expect- lng them. "I bring your daughter safely back," said Paul,   placing the seemingly inanimate form on the cushions of the carriage. "She is not hurt, but   has only fainted." As he spoke, theLady Alicia unclosed her eyes, and his, as she wished, was the first face that met her gaze. What a world of confusion, gratitude, and reverence beamed from those speaking eyes! "Oh! if I can but win his pity," she thought, "I may hope." But Paul was apparently unmoved; or, if not, the profuse thanks of Lady Henley now de- manded his attention; and he turned to the mother to deprecate her gratitude. "I cannot express the half of what I feel," she said, in conclusion. "But the dear child   has revived now, and may be more successful. Alicia, thank Mr. Sidney, for he has saved your life. You are better now, darling—look up— and give him your hand." Coyly, yet gracefully, she held it out "My preserver!" she murmured, in a low voice; and with one glance of unutterable love she averted her blushing face, and buried it on her mother's bosom. For once she was sincere. But alas! it was too late. Paul, despising her the more for what he thought a new proof of duplicity, bowed low, but with an almost perceptible sneer, and turned away. It was well for the Lady Alicia that neither she nor others saw that look. To her it would have given a new pang. To others it might have revealed her degradation. We wish we could fully describe the Lady Alicia's state of mind after this rescue. She loved Paul now with a passion that was fright- ful; but she still proudly kept her affection a   secret from all. His every look and action she watched with intense eagerness, hoping to find some evidence of his relenting towards her. The day after the picnic, anxious to essay an- other effort to regain him, the Lady Alicia watched an occasion for a moment's tête-à-tête with Paul; and when they were alone together, she thus addressed him:—"Mr. Sidney," she said, with faltering voice, trusting herself with only a single look at his impassable face, and then letting her eyes fall embarrassed to the ground, "I have waited all day for this oppor- tunity to thank you for your heroism yesterday. I owe you everything—not only my life," she added hesitatingly, "but the knowledge of my-   self." Again her eyes glanced up at his face; and she saw, from his heightened color, that he understood her. "Can you forgive me? Oh!   I can never thank you enough." It was skilfully done, thus to combine expres- sions of gratitude with petitions for pardon; and the fair penitent for a moment almost hoped that Paul would relent, for his color went and came rapidly. But she mistook what were only signs of embarrassment, for proofs of re- awakened affection, and his words soon dispelled her dream. "I have nothing to forgive the Lady Alicia," he said, in a cold, constrained voice, not even affecting to misunderstand her, "but much to   forgive myself. Her life I saved, as I would that of any other fellow-creature. In thanking me, she expresses to the instrument the grati- tude due to the Creator." He bowed and turned away. Oh! bitter, bitter was your task, Lady Alicia, to reconcile yourself to this last disappointment of your hopes. Never before had you known what love was, or perhaps, eager as you were for admiration, you would not have trifled so ruth- lessly with the hearts of others. But she had sowed the wind, and was reaping the whirlwind. To be rejected, after she had demeaned herself thus, was indeed cruel, and in the darkness and silence of her own apartment she gave vent to her emotions. "He saw that I loved him," she said; "my look and tone told him as much—and yet he coolly turned away from me." She gnashed her teeth as she continued, "what would I not give for   revenge! But no," she added, her mood chang- ing, "I deserve it all. I have trifled with others,   and now the cup of my folly is given me to quaff. Yet I cannot—I will not drink it. He must and shall love me." And, as she uttered these words, she clenched her small hands and wildly walked the floor. "But why do I talk   thus? He love me! why, he despises me!" and she laughed in bitter scorn. Then, with a burst of tears, she added, as she flung herself despairingly on the bed, "Oh! I wish that I was dead." Such is ever remorse, without true repentance. It is thus the lost torment themselves with un- availing regrets and self-reproaches made too late. A week afterwards, the term of his promised visit having expired, Paul left Henley Abbey for London. His host urged him to stay; but he   civilly, though resolutely, declined. The Lady Alicia was up at early dawn to watch his depar- ture, shrinking behind the curtain of her cham- ber like a guilty thing; and when, at last, his carriage disappeared round a distant bend of the road, she broke into furious reproaches against fate. Her last hope, nourished secretly against all hope, had vanished; and she cursed both him and herself, gnashing her teeth in fury and despair. [TO BE CONTINUED.]

STRASBURG surrendered on the self-same day on which, 189 years before, Louis XIV. became its master. One of his first acts was to dislodge the Protestants from the cathedral. The Domi- nican Church, which had long been secularised, was allotted to them in lieu, and had its name changed to that of Le Temple Neuf. Here was one of the most famous organs of Silbermann. In the choir, divided from the nave, was lodged the especial glory of Alsace—its library, the finest on the Rhine, in which the archives, anti- quities, topography, and early printing collec- tions were treasured. All have perished. Since the apocryphal burning of the Library of Alex- andria perhaps no equally irreparable loss has occurred. SOME experiments have been made at Tours with a view of ascertaining at what distance balloons would be in danger of being struck by projectiles. At an elevation of 2500 metres not a single ball struck the experimental balloon. At a distance of 1000 and 1200 metres several bullets struck the balloon, but the escape of gas was so gradual, that, aided by a good wind, it would bear the aerostat some miles from the locality where it had been struck.