Chapter 3043714

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Chapter NumberPART II. V. (Continued.)
Chapter TitleBREAKERS AHEAD.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article3043714
Full Date1892-12-31
Page Number6
Corrections0
Word Count3293
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 - 1954)
Trove TitleUnder the Great Seal
article text

OUR NOVEL.

gNOW MEST PUBLISHED.]

UNDER THE GREAT SEAL,

A NOVEL,

BY

JOSEPH HATTON,

Author of " CLYTIE," " BY OBDBB OF THE

Cms," " JOHN NEEDHAM'S DO__S._,"

eCBUEL LONDOST," Ac.

PART II.

CHAPTER T. {Continued.)

" BBBAKEES AHBA-X."

Umira went into her bedroom and lighted two candles in their old brass sconces on eaeh side of the dressing-table. It was nob dark. The sun had gone down, but the twilight was radiant with ita after glow. At the same time Elmira, after looking out for a moment upon the garden where the two young men were hidden behind the" commanding figure of the dusky Venus, drew tho curtains over her window, and then eke needed the candle«. Sha looked at herself in the mirror which they illuminated, and, smiled ; pushed her zxoh brown hair from7 her forehead, and - the* drew it back again ; stepped a few

' yards from the glass so that she could seo

part of her dainty figure, and laugned again, not her regular rippling little laugh but one of approval.

""My face may be a little red, but it is the heat; he need not have reminded me of it," she said. " It's very hot HOW."

She drew the curtains slightly and «adjid the hatch of the window to lot in the. evening air. Then she put out her candles and drew the curtains back, and opened both the lead-glased wings of her lattice and looked out, drawing in a long breath.

" I declare I feel faint, as the town girls afcy," she remarked. " Never knew what

it was before ; think I am bothered." '

She saw the lights of ships at sea. The ann had left a red streak far beyond thom.,

The crescent moon attracted her. It was

afaarD and bright now that the sun had ' gone. It shone like burnished silver, and there were a few stars here and there. They seemed to have a mist abont them that made the moon look all the brighter.

$i You look as if you were glad," she said addressing the moon ; " they say yon eftn aee and hear what lovers do and think. Bh' dear, but I wish I was free again ! What is a girl to do who has nobody to confide in ? Squire Barkstead is very handsome ; well so is David Keith-and there's no mistake about David be loves me true, for sure ! bat I must go down ,* they'll think I have been doing myself up and making myself fine all this time. Mira, dear, what's the matter with you P*

She closed the window. " I feel as if I was dreaming," she said. She relighted tile candles and drew the whito dimity curtains, their brass rings making a homely < maisie, and she began ta hum the tuno of

Oapid's Garden

Then she took off her dress and donned

another hardly less becoming though it was of cotton stuff, and brown ; it had a short waist and short sleeves leaving Mira's arms

bare. She tied a blue ribbon round her neck and there hung from it a tiny locket of yellow gold that contained a lock of her mother's hair and a faded rose leaf that Harry Barkstead had sent her in a valen- tine, a rose the poem that accompanied it declared had been grown for her in the

hot-house of his love. Did she know it was

from Harry Barkstead ? Oh, yes, he had \ confessed it one day when he was compli-

menting her father on his roses. No, he had not confessed it right out,' but when Zaeccheus was lighting his pipe he had hummed the words to a familiar tune, and when Zaccheus had looked up to listen he had said Miss Webb ought to learn that

«rag.

Harry was one of those daring wooers who mean nothing serious, and whom some women entourage to their coat.

As Elmira tripped down the darkened stairway into the house place, her father was heard in the back regions of the cottage giving orders to Simeon, his man of-all-work, and presently in he came, bringing with him whiffs of sea and land, a suggestion of fish and tobacco, and a ^generally breezy presence, as if a boat's crew had just landed in the cottage pre-

cincts.

M Mira, my gal, there yer be !" he said, taking no notice of the others, " I thought I see yer as cammed across the meals, but it worn't, mek no doubt : so there yer be P

He took her into his sea-jacketed arms and kissed her with a hearty smack, and then looked round about him. "Why, Squire, this be good for sore eyes, and ! David the lawyer, welcum ; yer looks

keinder kedgy, and that's how I'm feelin' mysen ; and I reckon we can all peek a bit !"

" But first you will have a wash, eh father ?" said Elmira.

"That's so," said Lias, "fishin'snotthe cleanest trade, tho't mucks gowd as well as kibbage now and agen, thank the

Lord !"

As he left the house place his heavy boots clanked upon the hard brick floor, and it seemed as if he filled the doorway. He was a big, burly, broad, nautical looking man, a cross between coasting captain and beachman. Added to a wrinkled weather beaten face, something the colour of the dunes with streaks of red in it, he had a bright grey eye, a cheerful generous mouth, and a frank, honest out spoken manner; he grew his whiskers like a stiff fringe round his face; they joined his bushy dark hair that had only a few gleams of white in it; and he moved about with a cumber- some motion, something like a Dutch barge in shallow water.

Charity Dene had laid the cloth, and at the fire, going solemnly round aud round upon a primitive jack, was a great joint of beef, and beneath it was a batter pudding, into which the gravy was dripping, making a rich, luscious cover- ing of the brown batter. Swinging over the fire ia an iron pot were half a peck of potatoes in their skins, and in a smaller saucepan some fresh-shelled peas, grown in the straggling kitchen garden of the cottage.

David and Squire Barkstead sat near thelow, bay window upon an old cushioned seat, their heads now and then coming in contact with a score or two of f uschia and

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

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géranium plants that filled all the lower panes with a wealth of blooms. El mira followed her father, and by the time Mrs. Dene had served the sapper she returned with Lias spruced np in a black coat with pockets at the side, a light-blue waistcoat and white stoek, and in ordinary boots, now looking the well-to-do smaek owner

to the life.

Toa'fl come fortitnefc," said Mrs. Dene, addressing David and the Squire ; "we'n eooked this to be eawd for re- mainder the week, Mira thowt it mought be hot for the Mester and Master -Leith like."

"Tia always fortúnate, Mrs. Dene, when I come to the cottage," said Harry, placing a ohair for Elmira, in his ready and courtly way, at least Elmira thought it was eoartly, and she knew that Harry weat into the highest society in London

town.

" Thank yon," she said, making a little curtsey, "bat I am going to draw the

ale **

"He,'Miss Mira, I'll do it, and thank ye,"said Charity; "sit ye down, please, wa*, company."

Elmira accordingly took the seat which Harry had placed for her by his aide, and David sat with Lias on the ether side of the table. ,

Before Charity carne to the «ottage and she had been housekeeper and general there for over five yea«-the previous 1 domestic had sat down to table with Lias

and Elmira, bat from the first Mrs. Dene

knew Jiec place and took pride in doing '

honour te har service as she said, and leved to think of Elmira as her young mistress who was just as much a lady as the finest in the land, " if larnin' and accomplishments counted." On this occasion Charity was unusually formal, handing ronnd the plates and filling np the tumblers with e^uite an air ; and Lias felt, as he told Eloura afterwards, as if he was " kevin' his dinner at ewd Norfolk Arms oa market day, so sliek and nimble did she fisherato for all ; it fairly bet him

far sure."

After sapper Harry led the conversa- tion into melodious grooves, talked of old songs and the concert that had been given a.t Yarmouth. Zaccheas Webb confessed that he gloried in the old ballads, and * nothin' could mek time go more easy like

and frea than a good song, leastways when you'd gotten a spinnet in the house and a gal as could play it to a moral.

Elmira persisted that she had no ear for. musiq, and couldn't play the spinnet more than a goose ; Mildred Hope, she said, knew that well enough, for Mildred bad been trying to leach her this twelve months and could make nothing of it.

" Why, Mildred only told me one day last week that you were getting on finely," said David, " and I thought you sung that song about The Waterman, a week since this very evening, beautifully."

" Yes, you are very kind," said Elmira, " I know yon did, bat you would say 'that if I didn't, just to please me."

"Well, I dunno 'bout that," said Zaccheus, " but, my ayes, I reckon you'd be hard to beat at Cupid's Garden, and I says that aknowin' it this forty year, and, as Justice Barkstead ud say, that's

fiTidoncâ

"Won't yon oblige us, Miss Webb," said Harry.

" Why, you see, parlour's locked up, hasn't been open this three days, didn't mean to open it till Sunday, when we expect the Prison Visitor to come and join us in a hymn."

"Indeed. I wish I might have the honour of being present," said Harry.

"Don't sneer," said Elmira, quickly, "you needn't, for it's lovely to hear Mildred Hope sing, and if you could hear her tune her voice to a song you wouldn't forget it in a hurry-' Home Sweet Home,' for example." >

" My dear Miss Webb, I did not intend to sneer; I am sure I beg the little prison visitor's pardon." »

" And on her behalf I accept your apol- ogy/" said David, laughing; "she's a neighbour of. mine, you know ; Miss Mum- ford is a friend of hers."

" She's very fond of you," said Elmira, with her rippling laugh."

"All girls are fbnd of David," said Harry.

" That's a good un," remarked Zaccheus, as he filled his pipe, " that's a good un for you, Master David, what do you say

to that ?"

" I feel hononred. of course,** said David a little embarrassed ; " it's a compliment to have the good opinion of the girls." '"

" That's trae," said the smack owner ; " I was never agen um in my time, and I knaws one as is worth her weight in gold doan't I, Mira, my gel?"

"Yes, father,dear; anyhow, she knows that you are worth your weight in the finest gold that was ever smelted."

" Yery well, then, sing us Cupid's Gard ing, aud play it on that there spinnet, and we'll ali join chorus, eh, Master David ?"

" Yes " said David.

"Shall I light the candles,"asked Mrs. Dene, who had been taking in the con- versation as she had taken off the cloth

and removed the sapper things.

" Tes," said Elmira ; and presently they all adjourned to the little parlour, all ex- cept Zaccheus, who said he'd sit near by as he inoughtn't tok pipe in thar not as he wanted leif er he'd sit by and when choras come he'd reckon to mek himsen heard ; and sure enough he did.

Elmira sung in a mirthful pleasant fashion, with a nice appreciation of the words, and for so brief a studentship with a fair aptitude in the way of accompani- ment. There was a smell of old lavender and conntry fustiness in the room that seemed to go well with the music. The pictures on the wall had their frames bound round with tissue paper. There were lustres on the mantle shelf that

jingled to the vibrations of the spinnet.

Mrs. Dene and Elmira's father remained just outside the door, Zaccheus in his old arm chair which Mrs.Dene had wheeled up for him, Mrs. Dene with her arms be- neath her apron, and her mouth wide open with curiosity and pleasure.

When Elmira had sang her little song and Zaccheus and the rest had joined in the chorus, and afterwards loudly applaud- ed the performer/ Harry Barkstead sat down and astonished the company with a dreamy kind of waltz that seemed to set their feet agoing, and as if by way of be devilment. then gave them " The Manche-ter Angel," with all the refraia capable, and somehow Elmira felt that when in the minor key he dwelt upon the words " There lives the girl for me," he had her in his mind ; indeed, he looked at her when he had finished, she felt as if his eyes went through her.

" Is that a challenge to Mildred Hope ?"

UáSflSaaña^ttadiriiAai

David asked, not willing/ that the impres- sion Harry had created should remain without some kind of a protest.

" If you like,!' said Harry, laughing, " I did not know that prison visitors sang it,

or I would not have been so bold."

"Tell yer it's not same as prison visitir sings. - Her'n is ' Homo Sweet Homo,'

and if she'd tuned it off she'd a med a

hymn on it. Eh, Maria ?"

" Tes," said Elmira, * will yo» not sing another, Mr. Barkstead ? and you play so well, I'm quite ashamed that I played at

all."

" Toa need not be, Elmira,." said David promptly.

" Truly, no, indeod ; it ia I who should feel ashamed," said Harry, "-but somehow when songs are going, I am like Captain Webb, I must ehime io."

" That's reight, Squire, that's so," said Zaecheus, " now'fe like a good song."

The Squire was at length tempted to sing one more song and Zaeehena said it waa too dolefnl for anything, like song old cow died of, lodging oa cold ground indeed should think that was place for such like, and tike aid fisherman laughed heartily as he pressed a glass of spirits on his guests, spirits aa bad never known derelict hand of Sleeman on it, and yet had como from over the water. The

young Squire undertook to join th» old man in a glass, and Zaeehena hoped as Harry's lodging nor hisn for that matter, ut ever be on that there cold ground.

David hoped before ho parted with Bl mira that night to have had a word or two with her father, bat he fomnd no opportun- ity ; instead of unburdening his mind and explaining his plans to Zaecheus, he made a «onfidante of Harry, So oould hardly holp himself.

When they wer» fattty on the high road tramping to Tarmont»-, Harry again re-

ferred to David's imnolsive roiereaeo to

his happiness as wail as kia health, and David oat with it, kia unexpected fortune, and proposal to Elmira, her acceptance of his unworthy hand, and his vagae bnt glorious schemes of a f atare that might lead him anywhere. So intimated that he might take a loag spell of travel, even have a yacht of his own, ann a crew with a long gun and a masked battery in cass of need ; for David had read of pirates, and, besides, peaco waa hardly restored between England and her many enemies, and who knew that aa adventurous yacht away down in the Mediterranean or in the Pacific might BOC be signalled by some daring cruiser.

If David talked a little wild it was beeanse Harry encouraged him and for the reason that David was-very happy, pulsating with romance, and proud as if he had captured a lovely princess from some pirate's lair. Harry envied the lad his high spirits, his hopeful nature, his purpose in life; and furthermore, he thought he had never seen Elmira look so bewitching as on that sight, nor could he make any mistake, ho thought, about the significant pressure of tho hand she gave him in response to his own, after David had, as he thought, said good night to her ia a particularly .ostentatious man- ner, even kissing her, he believed, while Harry turned to say good night to Lias. Hitherto he had patronised David, whose acquaintance he had made originally through Petherick and a letter of intro- duction from David's London trustee ; but to-night David seemed to patronise him. ,

Moreover, David strode ont along the highway with a swing that irritated Harry, who was not in that kind of a mood. The sedgy dikes fairly danced past them as they pounded along, for Harry did not care to lag behind though he felt like it. To everybody they met David wished a cheery good night, and was self assertive Harry felt in every possible way that might jar npon the young county gentle-

man with his Oxford education and his stud at Melton, ¿he more so that hitherto David had, ia a pleasant kind of way seemed to accept Harry's friendship as an honour as well as a pleasure. This was true enough, for there was as a rule a modest diffidence in David's manner, and he was really fond of Harry, admired him for his knowledge of the world, his athletic powers, and his fine natural manners. But on this night David was walking on air. He had won the girl of his heart. She had said yes to his momentous ques- tion, and he expected Harry Barkstead, his friend, and once in a way his com- panion, to rejoice with him, to clap him on the back, as it were, and shake hands with him, to tell him he was to be envied and so on; and it was only when they steamed into town hot, not to say panting, that David felt somehow that Harry did not quite feel the pleasure he affected when at last he said, " Well, old chap, I must congratulate you, and wish you all the happiness yon can desire."

It was coldly offered, and before David could reply Harry said, " Come into the Royal and join me in a stirrup cup, I see my groom waiting for me, it's a glorious night for a ride."

" No, thank you, Harry, not to-night, I shall be waited for also, and I am rather late."

"Late," said Harry, "it is only half past nine."

" That's late for Miss Mumford, and 1 want to have a chat with her before she goes to bed."

" Well, good night then," said Harry ; and so they parted, each thinking of Elmira Webb ; David not for a moment suspecting the selfish jealousy that had taken possession of the sensuatsoul of Sir Anthony Barkstead's unscrupulous sou.

(To be continued on Wednesday.)