|Chapter Number||PART II. VII.|
|Chapter Title||DAVID KEITH AT HOME IN HARTLEY'S ROW.|
|Newspaper Title||The West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 - 1954)|
|Trove Title||Under the Great Seal|
[NOW FIBST PUBLISHED.]
UNDER THE GREAT SEAL,
Aatkor of "Cran?" "Br Oedbe or the
C-Ab" "John Nkkdhah's Double,"
"Cbubi. London," &o.
David Keith at Home in Hartley's
Since abe had come to live ia Hartley's Row, Mildred's relaxation was in her neighbourly visits to Miss Mumford's homse in the corner, a model home olean as a pink, with relics of the sea and a little library of books, some of which Mil- dred thought a trifle worldly, bat with all her religions faith and eonduct she had a liberal mind and found relaxation in the best literature of the time.
She often went home to her own two rooms with David's bright, cheerful face
in her mind and his adventurous words in
ker memory. David talked to her with a sonso of confidence and without restraint, and he told her many stories of the great world as he had read them in his miscel- laneous books that interested her and
seemed to give her rest. She wonld often, when saying good-night, remark that David had done her good, rested her mind, giving it a pleasant change in taking it from thoughts of the sorrowful scenes that might await her on the morrow.
David liked Mildred very mnoh. There was something soothing, he would say, in the prison visitor's manner, her voice was soft and sweet, and she had eyes that got over a fellow so to speak. He did not wonder at the influence she possessed at the Old Toll House and among the poor, not to mention the fishermen,who actually went to her to say a prayer for them before putting out in stormy weather, or when the signs of the bravest of the sea were dubious.
"Do von know," said David one day, " that the prison visitor is very pretty P"
" She's comforting," was Miss Mum ford's reply.
" I say she's pretty, Sally, dear. I saw her trudging away on the road from (Jaieter. She did not sea me. I walked behind her ever so far. She pounded along. Do yon know she has big heavy shoes P At least they looked big on her small feet. They were laced np like mine, and ehe had blue worsted stockings, wears her petticoat short, you know, so that she can get along. She stopped in the road to take out her packet of bull's eyes and give some to a little boy and his sister ; and just then I came np and said, * please Miss Mildred may I not have one?' I said it in an assumed voice, you know, and when she turned round to see who it was, why she fairly blushed, and looked uncommonly pretty."
" Really," said Miss Mumford.
" Yes, really ! You know how pale she is as a rule ; they say that's with spending so much time in the bad air of the Toll House prison--I wish she wouldn't. Well, 1 tell yon, she blushed ; her cheeks were pink, and her eyes were bright "as --"
"Elmira Webb's?" said Miss Mum- ford, a trifle slyly.
"Oh well, altogether different, you know. Of course, Mira's eyes are the most beautiful in the world. Besides, the prison" visitor's are grey, and Mira's are dark. What made you say that, Sally?"
David broke off in the midst of his account of meeting Mildred, feeling that Sally meant something more than appeared in her question.
. " Oh, nothing that I know of, David,"
said his foster-mother.
"I believe you don't like Mira," he said.
"Not as well as Mildred,4' said Sally. "Mildred! Why that's a different matter altogether. I like Mildred, of course, everybody does ; but altogether in a different way from Mira Webb."
" Yes, of course," said Sally, " but what did Mildred say?"
" Oh, she said nothing for a minute, but 31st gave me a bull's eyo and blushed ?"
"Are you sure she blushed?" asked Sally, more for the sake of saying some- thing than with any special intention in ker question, " was it not the warmth of her walk P"
"I was going to tell yon, Sally, dear, after she had blushed and I had thought how pretty she was, she began to tell me about Mira; she had been giving Mira a lesson on the spinet, and she said Mira wonld one day be able to play and sing quite well, though she confessed that it was not easy to get nice songs, and, of course, Mira did not care much for hymns. 'Why, I should think not,' I said, 'not for general use, yon know. I should not want to go to Webb's to hear Mira sing hymns.' "
"Idon't know," said Sally, "Mildred
Hope sings hymns till she makes me cry, they are so lovely."
" But I don't want to cry-why, here is the prison visitor," he said, as Mildred lifted the latch, and in a sweet, small voice asked, " May I come in ?"
" Why, of course," said David, flinging the door wide open.
" Oh, Master David, it is yon ; you are home early." N
" Yes," said David, " I haven't much time now before I sail, and I want to spend as much of it with dear mother Sally, and Mira, as I can possibly afford.
"Of course you do," said Mildred, as she patted the back of Sally's brown hand, which was extended to her by way of welcome. " I met Miss Webb this after- noon . she was shopping for Sunday, she said, and asked me to accept a pound of tea for some of my poor women."
"How good of her," said David, "but she has a kind heart. Lias says the world don't contain a kinder, though he allowed the prison visitor was a good little mawtker, and true as a compass, mek no doubt."
" Ah, I OHly wish I was worthy of all the kind things people are good enough to say of me," replied Mildred, taking a seat by the window, and undoing her recticule and taking out a piece of unfinished ' embroidery.
The sole right of publication in West Aus- tralia has been purchased by the proprietors of the West Austbalian.
" UTow, my dear neighbour," said Sally, ** thatfr jest * tit like what they calls^
pride as apes huraility, for eure.'*
"Is it r said Mildred, "then I won't say it again/ What I mean, Master. David, is that I wonld like to do a thou- sand times more than I do, to hare more' strength, more ability, and more money to take in, oh snell a field of duty ! But one
must bo content."
" Ton are quite ambitions inyonr way," said David, "I am, too; we all are yon
" And what is your particular ambition, Master David?" asked Mildred.
"Jost at this moment my ambition is to taste the fish Miss Mumford has for tea, and the eakes to follow,1' said David laugh- ing, "and if you will excuse me, I will wash my hands and change my jacket."
" Ton will stay to tea ?" remarked Sally interrogatively. '
"Tes,'dear, that is what I came for, besides the pleasure of seeing yon," said Mildred smiling.
" Ah, my dear lass that _ what I like in yon-it is making yerself at home and saying what yon mean. I'll be soro pnt te it when David's gone, bnt it'll be a comfort to have you come in."
" When does he go ?" Mildred asked, plying her needle as Sally went in and ont from parlour te kitchen, assisting her single domestic to dish np the dinner-tea that was an institution of the Bow.
" Why, at the end of the month ; sails from Bristol to Halifax, where he is to meet the London trustee, who sailed this week, aod who will go with him to St. John's. Eh dear, I can't tell yon how badly I feel at thought of parting with him ; and I blame myself that I don't go with him, which, however, he won't hear of; says it would mako him look silly, and as if he had to be tied to my apron strings, and the like ; and now that he's engaged to Elmira Webb, and talks of marriage he has come to be masterful; well, of course, that's to be expected of a high-spirited lad who's growing into man-
" He will make Elmira Webb a very good husband, forbearing and affection- ate," eaid Mildred.
"That he will; but she isna worthy of him-good looks ! Tes, that may be, but too fond of f allalls, and calculated to make a proud lad jealous."
"Doyon think so?"
"Isa sure so," said Sally, " but what are you to do when a lad's heart is engaged, and when yon love him that well yon don't like to give him a minute's 'pain ? but eh, my doar, it will be a sad day I fear me, for David Keith when he teks Elmira Webb for better or worse."
It was a cozy room, with an out-look along the court-like yard of the upper end of Hartley's Bow, the door opening flush upon the white parements, the kitchen having a red bricked yard at the back; all the windows full of flowers in red raddled pots; flags and rushes in the parlour fireplace ; tall brass candlesticks .and coloured ornaments on the tall
mantleshelf ; an old flint gun, a pair of pistols and a pike fixed upon brackets on the clean and white-washed wall ; here and there an engraving in a black frame ; a case or two of stuffed birds ; and a ease or two of fish; in one corner a glased bookcase ; in the middle of the room a round table with a polished top, now covered with gold and white china cups and saucers, and white plates; a tau copper urn uttering a kind of purring sound, and emitting little puffs of steam. On one side of the room a large soft well stuffed sofa; on the other a small side- board flanked with high-backed old oak
" Ton must always bara been a good housekeeper," said Mildrad, as Sally placed upon the table a dïshwfdelioiously fried mackerel flankedfwftu bunches of fennel, and accompanied"'by a sauce that seemed to addrees an invitation to the board.
" Beady, David," said Sally, opening the staircase door and calling to David, who came hurrying down in a loose serge jacket and trousers, with a white hand- kerchief tied in a sailors knot about his neck, and looking tho beau ideal of a strong and happy young Englishman.
" Kow, Miss Hoçe," he said, offering her a chair and taking one himself oppos- ite to Sally, " do you like fennel sauce ? That's right, I knew there would be fennel sauce, I smelt it the moment I rame in. What a fine thing it is to be hungry, eh ?"
"When yon have no difficulty in getting the food yon want," said Mildred taking from David a plate of fish, while Sally poured out the tea.
"Tee, of course," said David, " it makes one feel selfish to think that there are people who can't get bread, let alone mackerel, fennel saueeand hot cakes to follow-andsneh cakes! I wish every- body could hare all-they want; but as that is impossible we moat be forgiven for taking what the Lord provides as yon wonld say, Miss Hope."
David was in great spirits. He ate his food with a relish, praised it, pressed moro upon Mildred, complained that Miss Mumford was not enjoying her tea, and when the repast was orer announced that he was off to Gaister ; he not only wanted to see Mira, but he longed to have a talk with Zaccheus about the Bristol ship in, whieh he was to sail to Hallifax and St. ' Johns.
" David takes after both his father and his mother," said Sally, when the boy had started off on his .walk to Gaister, " but he's got his father's hankering after ad venture ; it was that as induced bis grand-
father Plympton to have him educated for the law, thinking as it would keep him to his moorings; but he forgot as the sea makes it natural for a lad to desire to roam. It was marryin' as kept his father at home and would ha' done, but for the persecution that Heart!» Delight was sub- ject to, and which didn't stop short there but followed on to Heart's Content ; eh. it's long ago but it seems like yesterday ! David was an infant in arms ; I hear as there's great changes since, that settlers may till the ground and build of brick as some has done whore brick's to be gotten ; it's a pity life's so short a span ; it's hard when folks that's borne heart and sweat of it has to met room for them as comes in for fruits of their labour and suffering."
Miss Mumford went on talking to her- self and Mildred, while she and the serv- ant were putting the tea-things away and making the -room tidy. Mildred sat on the little sofa, at work upon her embroid- ery, but she gave fnil attention fo Sally's thoughts and reminiscences.
" I wish I could, see fair prospects for David," said Sally, closing the kitchen door on the domestic, folding up her apron, and placng it in a little press be
neath thffstairway, J,*1íáiiw*ml8 uranstrfn does ' they say that in Lincolnshire, and I wish I could feel a real bit of honest faith in Miss Elmira Webb."
" Her father loves her to blindness of every fault," said Mildred, " such a girl without the guiding love of a mother is at a great disadvantage in a sinful worldj and is much to be pitied."
"It isna a matter of religion as I'm thinking on," said Sally. M I've knowed good, honest folk who might be ca'd any- thing bnt religious; why, our David is hard to get to chapel once a Sundays ; maybe that's on account of his father and mother being Catholics, though his father was nothing when first ho «ame to Heart's Delight ; first mass he went to was for her sake ; I do believe he'd been a Mahom edun or a Hottentot if she'd ha been of that way of tbinkin' he loved her to that desperation."
" I don't hold with an outward neglect of religion, even if there is a natural in-! ward and spiritual grace," said Mildred, " I think, if only for example's sake, the Lord's day should be observed; not that souls may not be saved that never prayed in church or chapel ; whatever our «reed, we are all worshipping God, and I don't think He will take particular note of the manner of the worship if our conduet goes hand in hand with our religious pro-
" There be some," Sally replied, " who ount to be saved by Faith ; but I believe in deeds, Mildred, and I am sure you do."
"Faith and deeds," Mildred replied, "always remembering the rightful and diligent use of the talents with which the
Master entrusts his servants."
" Do you ever think of marrying !" Sally asked, suddenly arresting Mildred's needle in the very heart of a silken rose.
"It is a strange question," Mildred' replied, with the slightest tinge of colour in her pale cheeks ; and so it was having regard to the nun-like appearance of the girl. It has been already noted that she dressed in a very simple fashion suggest- ing the Quaker garb ; it was also convent- like in its simplicity. Thero was that calm resignation in the expression of the girl's face that is mostly seen ia the countenance of the de vom» sisters who had' given their lives to Holy Ghurch; and' yet it was an inviting calmness, not in the least austere. The deep, dark eyes were full of sympathetic light, the well-formed mouth generous in its outline, the lips red; and the most fashionable beauty might have envied Mildred's white and regular teeth. Her voiee was sweet and musical, and for poor people had a kind of fascina- tion that belongs to a well-played instru- ment. When she prayed, as she did now and then at some publie assembly, such as the occasional congregation of sailors on a Sunday evening, on the beach before the fishing, her soul was in her words. Her supplication rose and fell with the cadence of a lovely chant; yet in her relationship with the pepple ana with her friends she had, as we have seen, none of the sanctity of manner or conservation that carried even an unconcious rebuke to the most sin«* ful. She was on frank and familiar terms
with all the coast and tho respect she received on all bands was not in any way lessened by her free and happy manner.
Sally Mumford was in a peculiar mood. Her remarks made Mildred watchfnl and somewhat on her guard.
" I never married becauso I had a mis-, sion. I was married to my duty. David was my mission God bless him as he blessed his saintly mother. But why shouldn't you marry Mildred P'
" I am also married to my duty," said Mildred, looking np at Mumford with a questioning wistful look in her eyes.
" But marriage need not hinder your work. Oh to see you and David eome together ?"
Mildred felt her heart almost stop Heating as she bent her head over her embroidery, not daring to look np.
"David is fond of yon; he'll get tired of yonder Caister gel !"
" Why are you saying these things ?" Mildred asked, her lips slightly parted as she looked into Sally's calm face.
" Because my heart prompts me," said Sally.
"I wonder why your heart dictates such thoughts ?"
"Because it loves you Mildred, and because it beats night and day for David Keith, its one hope and love. Eh, dear, I don't know what's come over me this night-seems as if I feared some harm's going to happen David, and seems as if you could save him !"
" Let us pray for him, Sally dear, and ask God and the Saviour for guidance," replied Mildred, as she rose and put he* arms around the trim old spinster.
They knelt together by the chair in which Sally had been sitting, knelt hand in hand, and each offered up a silent prayer which was more the outcome of a sudden emotion than an act of worship or petition. Their hearts were full to over- flowing with a tender solicitude that naturally found vent in prayer. The impulse and the motive were inspired by the thoughts of David Keith's imminent voyage across the Atlantic.
(To be continued on Wednesday.)