Chapter 3043376

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Chapter NumberPART II. II. (Continued.)
Chapter Url
Full Date1892-12-21
Page Number6
Word Count3201
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 - 1954)
Trove TitleUnder the Great Seal
article text







Author of "Clttie," "By Obdeb or the

Czab," " John Needham's Double,"

"Cbtjel London," &c.


CHAPTER II. (Continued.)

David's Sweetheart.

Meanwhile attention is called to David Keith waiting for the girl he loved with all the ardour of his youthful and

romantic nature.

He stood upon a wind swept ridge of the North Dunes, now shading his eyes to scan the distant roadway that came cireuitously from Webb's house, now watching the highway that crossed the sands from Yarmouth, now looking out to sea and in fancy lifting the veil of the


So had Alan, his father, looked out into the years to imagine a futuro the very opposite from that which lay hidden from mortal ken, to behold which at any timo might paralyse the strongest.

To David the outlook was bright as the swelling sea at his feet. He could see it eren through the stone walls and great tin boxes of Pethericks musty office. The walls, and all the dingy maps and legal notices with which they were decorated, would meit away before David's thought- ful gaze, and always along the bright road that lay before him he would rejoice in the ; companionship of the prettiest, the smartest, the merriest girl in all the world,

Elmira Webb.

But she kept him waiting, this wilful beauty. She was a creature of caprice, wayward, tantalising, but David loved her all the more for her feminine weak, nessos, her coquetry, her mad-cap follies. Was she not her father's pet P Did not everybody in Yarmouth when she went there, turn to look at her in the street ? Did she not outshine all the other beau- ties of the coast ? And was she not one àay to be David's wife? If Zaccheus Webb trusted her with his heart and fortune, and loved the very ground she trod upon, who was David that he should be impatient with her for a single second.

Presently, behold she cometh, the pretty, self-conscious maiden, brave in bright apparel; all in her Sunday best ; flower-decked tuscan hat; short-waisted summer gown with flowing sash; and dainty boots. She has been to the town, it is market day ; and furthermore she has been on business there for Zaecheus, her father; and needs must wear her best. She has been delayed somewhat, too, and there is no time to change for the little sea trip she has promised David, who is bent in bringing in from her father's smaek some of the fish with which the Plying Scud is laden.

-Elmira, alighting from the mail cart that set her down on the road leading to ker father's house, takes her way across the Dunes, and leaves behind her a long trail of tiny footfalls, prints of a dainty high-heeled shoe, and the marks thereof are wayward and uncertain. Now they sink deep into the drifting sand, and leave but shallow shapes; now there are heel marks strong and firm, as if they emphasised some passing thonght ; and bow there are light and vague impressions of both sole and heel, level footfalls of a shapely silver-buckled shoe.

While David waited for her and beguiled the time with imaginative pictures of their future, another marked her footfalls ; one who knew her wayward nature with- out reading its imprint on the sand.

They were friends, the boy who waited and the man who followed, the one was true as steel, the other unreliable, and fascinating in a manly way as Elmira was attractive in a certain feminine imperious ness that finds its most tender sympa- thiser in temperaments such as that which »ade David Keith her slave. Harry Barkstead had the kind of reputation that has a charm for many women, how- ever innocent. He was overbearing with the sex, masterful, suspected of being on too familiar terms with tho charming widow, Mrs. Ley ton-West, whose country house was adjacent to his father's property; and he was known to have made a con-

quest of more hearts than one among the high bred damsels of the country who patronise the town on great occasions of public state and ceremony.

Opposite natures often fraternise the better for their contrastingindividualities. David Keith admired Harry Barkstead, almost envied him his knowledge of the of the world and delighted to make excursions with him in his yatch, and to shoot over the Breydon waters and to trap the game by Ormesby Lake and Pritton. Moreover.Harry was inDavid's confidence knew all about his love for Elmira, and sympathised with him in his ambition domestic and otherwise. Yet Harry could not, try as he would, keep back an unfair, if not unbuly, inspiration of competition with his friend for Elmira's favours. He did honestly struggle against this un- friendly motion of his inclination, and when most he thought he had conquered, ÜAtnira threw out signals of encourage- ment, and he went blindly on ; as he did on this summer day. following her in hope that he might hn\ e a pleasant tête-a, tête whilo old Zacky was busy at fishing. Ti diking th;it "ho was going home, he resolved to call on some pretext or other either to see her father or to ask after David, or with any other excuse, when she struck off away from the house, in the direction or the Lower Danes by the sea. His curiosity was piqued. He followed, never thinking, however, that she hid seen kim ; for where the little hills and valleys gave him shelter he took it and wandered on, noting the impress of her footfalls, and dwelling upon the sylph-like willowy motion of her splendid figure, fine in form yet round and supple, too, She saw the shadow of it on the sand and gave it her own complimentary regard as well. She rejoiced in her beauty, she revelled in the healthy beat of her pulse, and the general sense of elation that came of both, com- bined with her well cut gown aud artistic

hat and summer flowers.

Alan Keith had suffered rather that Hannah, his wife, loved him with as true

The sole right of publication in West Aus- tralia has been purchased by the proprietors

of the West Austbalian. ' st

a heart beat as his own. How will David, his son, fare with a love that is uncertain as an April day, and yet is as bright as the sun that shines between the showers,

There are innocent wilful wayward beauties who only need the masterful hand of a true and loving consort to make them all that roan can desire, who, like the bruised blossoms of the field, send forth their richest perfume bene ^th the pressure of a rough, unmindful footfall. Some women need control in the strongest sense of masterful authority; all women

are the better when their own natural tendeny to tyranise is held in check by the stronger will of a none the less affec- tionate lover who respects himself, and the man's ordained authority while he relin- quishes to the woman all that belongs to her rightful share of power, and pays all difference to that very feminine strength which in man would be counted week.

Ton never saw anythiny moro bewitch- ing than the dark blue dreamy eyes of Elmira Webb, that were as arch as a grisette's at one moment and at another soft and enticing as that of the traditional houri. Sometimes in her very talk she seemed to cling and seek shelter from the world's alarms; at others she was self possessed and defiant. She had moods of merriment and moods of melancholy that Zaccheus, her father.called the dolldrums, " the like of which was natural to gals." Her hair was brown and wavy. It was tied up in a bunch high upon her head that showed a sun-burnt neck, suggestive of sinuous strength. She was a trifle ,above the height, just tall enough, David had long ago discovered, to top his shoulder and David was within an inch of

isix feet. 'She had a finely-formed, flexible imouth, lips pretty sarcasm in the corners, that gave piquancy to her manner and point to all she said. She had a small ,'nose, with a moderately open nostril, that suggested higher breeding than her station implied, and a beautifully modelled chin with a benevolent dimple in it contradict- ing other characteristics of the face and head that naturally belong to the selfish and inconstant. How these opposing qualities, good and bad, developed under the influences to which Jthey were sub jested remains to be seen.

' David Keith was the very opposite to Elmira Webb. The contrast no doubt, had for him a subtle charm. He was dark. She was fair. He was resolute and strong of will. She was fantastic, and fickle. He was of powerful build. She was of soft willowy. He had all the capa- city of loving that belongs to earnest, generous natures. She lacked constancy. They were a very handsome, even showy couple; she with her mischievous eyes and lively manners; he with his dark dreamy eyes, his thick black hair, his bronzedjopen, honest face, and in his walk the swing of. a young giant. To think of him sitting on a high stool in Petherick's office, was a wrong to romance, and to the boy's antecedents. He had inherited something of his grandfather's aristocratic appearance, but underneath the gentle nature his mother had given him, there burnt the fires of ambition and passion, of which so far he had little or no conscious

ness.except in the deep and intense indig- nation which was aroused in his nature, by stories of wrong and oppression and an occasional yearning for adventure in- spired by the romances of the sea and land, which he read when he should have been studying the mnsty law books that

were to fit him for his career as Pether- ick's chief clerk, and in the dim future, Petherick's junior partner.

" At last," the impatient lad exclaimed, " it seems au eternity since three o'clock -why, how splendid yeu look !"

He took her proffered hand as she stepped from the higher ground to a dip in the dunes, and then turning about to see that they were unobserved he took her face between his strong hands and kissed


" There now, you have rumpled my hat," she said in her fascinating imperative way. " Serves me right,I ought to have changed it and my dress, too ; but I thought you wonld be mad if I kept you waiting."

She turned her head as if she expected

to see someone on the bank.

"Mad,nothing could ever make me mad with you !"

" Oh, I don't know about that," she re- plied, re-adjusting her hat, and, with an affected fastidiousness, stepping among the grey-blue marrams and over the sea thistles and yellow lavender that decorated

the dunes.

"Don't you see I have got on my Sun- day shoes ?" she said, in answer to his look of surprise.

"Shall I carry you?" David replied, stopping to ask the question.

" Garry me ; no !" she said. " I don't think you could."

" Couldn't I though !" the lad replied, putting out his arms.

" Then you won't," she said. " I shall spoil my shoes for all that."

" Shall I lend you mine ?"

" How can I get into that dirty boat ?" " I'll show you," said David, "when we get there."

The boat lay in little more than an in- dentation of the beach, made by the con- stant dragging of certain yawls that were occasionally hauled up there by rope and windlass, and it was quite a distance from the ridge along the hilly dunes to the beach. Every now and then when they were hidden from view David would stop to admire the fisherman's coquettish daughter, the like of whom for wit and dash-and for dress and vanity, some would add-the whole coast from the Wash to Hunstanton, towns and cities in- cluded, could not show ; and David de lighed in the wayward, pretty girl, more particularly on this day of all others when it seemed as if she had actually dressed for the occasion that to him was fraught

with so much moment.

At length they came to the boat, a lum- bering kind of dingey, with long oars and a rough brown sail stowed away on the bottom, a bit of old tarpaulin, smelling of fish, and a roomy seat that had been the work of David, fixed low down by the


"ßand isn't dirt, you know," said David, " it really cleans things, and sand like this is good enough for Lawyer Petherick's pounce-box," jumping aboard and making a gigantic duster of the tar- paulin, and then dropping it over upon

the sand.

" I don't think I'll go," she said, mean- ing to £fo all the time. '.' I shall spoil my


" Not go !" said David, looking at her, a very sailor-man in his rough jacket and his slouch hat pushed back from his open


She could not help admiring him as he stood up for a moment, and watched the

anxious expression of his face change to delight when he understood that she was only playing with' him. Then she ment- ally compared him with Harry Barkstead, the University gentleman, with his super-

fine manners and his boastful command- ing ways.

David plunged down and thrusting his long arms into the thurruck beneath thor seat, which he had made for days of sailing when El mira was more than usually difficult to please, he drew out a pilot? jacket and a great woollen muflier, and

constructed a cushion.

" There !" he exclaimed, " now give me your hand !"

Elmira could have vaulted into the boat with ease, as she had done many a time ; but she enjoyed David's considerate acts of courtesy. They made her feel more of a lady, and less like a fisherman's daughter; though in her way she was proud of her father. It was only when Harry Barkstead called at their cottage that she felt a little ashamed of her father's homely ways and want of education..

" It's all very well to start in a dean boat, but how will it be when we'vo taken on board a cargo of father's fish F'

She had seen away in the distance the figure of Harry Barkstead, and couid not help wondering why he had followed her, and then disappeared as if he had dropped into the earth. He must be lying down in one of the valleys of the dunes. ', Why ?" she wondered, in a curious and indefinite way.

" If it comes to all that,'* said David " we won't take in any cargo ; we'll make a passenger boat of the Swallow. By the way, Iwonder Zaccheus thought of calling a great lumbering boat like this the Swallow. Come Mira ; now you see it is fit for any queen, and, therefore, almost fit for you."

He took both her hands. She smiled and yielded, and yet she wondered what Harry Barkstead could mean by follow- ing her, and when he saw David waiting should stay behind and hide. She did not tell David what she was thinking of.

" There you are," the boy exclaimed, handing her to her seat. "Never saw you look so lovely. Why your cheeks are rosy as a Dutch apple."

"Tell me something else that's dis- agreeable," was the sharp reply; " I hate to have red cheeks." And that was true, for her rivals said she drank vinegar to make them pale. They were pale as a

rule-the delicate fairness that is rare as it is healthful.

Then leaping ashore David seized the bow and tugged the Swallow into the water. It was no child's play to haul the dingey into the flowing tide ; but David loved to test his strength and master diffi- culties. She was fairly afloat before he clambered aboard and pushed her into deep water. Then he laid bold of the oars and the Swallow began to dance lightly over the swelling water that rippled past her and laid tributes of weed and shell along the yellow beach.

" Your cheeks are red enough anyway," said Elmira, as David paused to mop his burning face with a silk bandanna hand- kerchief which had been presented to him by "Sarah Mumford to her dear, dear young master, David Keith," as a birthday gift.

" I expect they are," ho said, laughing, " they are Lot enough, but I did not mean that yours were-you know what 1 mean, anything but lovely ; I'm a bad hand at a compliment."

" You said they were red."

" I meant that there was just a littb flush upon them like--"

" Like a dairymaid," she replied, " you are too complimentary," and then when she saw a shadow of disappointment and anxiety fall across the boy's face, she laughed and showed her white firm teeth, and cried, "there, don't be silly, pull away !" and took off her long gloves that reached to her dimpled elbows, and laid her hand upon the tiller, putting the boat's head straight for the Plying Scud.

" Do you know why I was impatient for your coming to-day, more particularly impatient I mean ?" David asked, pulling easy, " of course you don't."

" It is generally because you love me so," she answered archly, " at least that is your excuse for being so rude as to tell

me how late I am."

" Well, that is always the reason," he answered, "to-day more than ever. I have something dreadfully important to tell you, something that nobody knows as yet, except my trustees and me."

" It's a secret, then ?" she said.

" Yes, a sort of a secret-at present," he replied.

"You mean it will no longer be a secret when you have told me !"

"They do say women can't keep secrets/' said David, " but I believe they can do anything ; I know you can, that is anything a woman might be proud to do."

" Why have you taken to calling me a

woman all at once ?" she asked. " I am not so old as yon ; and I'm sure I never thought of calling you a man."

" Then I really believe you will when I have told you what I was telling to the sea and the sky and the dear old dunes for lack of you, when I saw you come sailing along the sand hills like a fairy yacht on a fairy sea."

.'Very welt I am listening," she replied, "tell me while I put the Swallow's head about-here's a boat from the Scud signalling us."

[To be continued on Saturday.]