Chapter 3045040

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Chapter NumberPART IV. II. (Continued.)
Chapter Url
Full Date1893-02-08
Page Number6
Word Count2824
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 - 1954)
Trove TitleUnder the Great Seal
article text


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CHAPTER II. (Continued.)


It wa« sunset by the time the Swallow ¿round her keel upon the shore at Gaister A slight mist was stealing over the hillocks The sea was sighing along the sands in long low waveà. Harry assisted the fish-

erman to haul up his boat. Charity Dene. carne down from the cottage, her apron over her head. She was main glad to see the squire ; and she was mighty sure as Hiss JSlmira wonld be the same. Miss Elmira had been that lonely she'd lighted a fire in the parlour and set her a paruty sing of the spinet, and they'd a been ex« peeling of Mistress Mildred Hope ; so in the meantime Miss Elmira was playin' of herself and been a-singing only just that minuit, as she was ahopin' her father ud be comía' later on to supper."

And sure enough while they were walk- ing up to the garden gate Elmira's yoice was heard faintly, and she was singing

" Twas down in Cupid's garden

For pleasure I did go,

To seo the faireat flowers

That in the garden grow."

Elmira had heard that Harry Barkstead had returned; but it cannot be said for a certainty that the fire in the parlour, the the new Autumn dress, the bunch of flowers on the table and the song of Cupid's Garden,were for him. At the same time it was reasonable to expeet he might call ; and David would like his friend to be fit- tingly received.

Harry bestowed upon the hand put forth te greet him a long lingering pressure; and when Elmira protested that he would be shaking hands all night, he sighed and said, " Ah ! if it might for


Then he leaned pensively against the window and looked out into the garden, and likened the drooping and frost-smitten flowers to his own Slighted hopes.

Élmira said she was sorry that parting

with David had made him so sad.

Harry in reply said he envied David almost to hating him.

Elmira did not ask for David's messages but remarked that she did not know why Harry should envy David. The gentle- man born did not usually envy the lad who oame of ordinary parents, and had his way to make in the world. Elmira said this with a little laugh of derision.

Harry replied that love levelled all ranks, and that beauty elevated the low- liest swain, and with other fine phrasés gradually brought Elmira round to thoughts of Harry and not of David.

It is true they did speak of David. Every now and then Harry would drop a word or two of news from Bristol-how happy David was at going, while in his place he (Harry) would not have left the woman he was going to marry for all the gold of Eldorado. But David was a practical fellow ; he was, like the happy common people ; he thought of a house for his love with some bits of furniture ; was happy as Tom, the fisherman, sitting with his Poll on his knee the day before the wedding. David sent all kinds of fond messages ; oh, yes, he did that ; so did one of the sailors send his love to Jemima by a rough chap from Cardiff, and there was very much of the same kind of vulgar sincerity in David's mes- sages. " Tell Elmira I know the sort of house she likes ; tell her I mean to take her to London for the honeymoon "-poor chap, he would be like a fish out of water in London-ah, well, he's a good boy, means well, and really believe's he is in


After a little while, Elmira, who had begun by being somewhat prim, sat down by Harry, on the old chintz-covered sofa, and permitted him to hold her hand as he described London to her, and Cheltenham and Bath, and then chatted of Paris and the German spas, dropping in a sighing regret that girls would be in such a hurry to get engaged to be married, before they had seen the world and knew something «f life; marriage brought troubles and responsibilities ; all very well, of course, when a girl had enjoyed herself a little. And besides, how did a girl know whether she was really in love with a man until she had seen some examples of the sex P Fancy any girl, with any pretensions to beauty, confining her choice to Yarmouth !

".aid passing by the handsome and fascinating Harry Barkstead," said Blmira* laughing.

" If Harry Barkstead hadn't been such a fool as to let his friendship for a con- ceited bit of a lad stand in his way, the prettiest girl in the county of Norfolk

would have been in his arms at this moment."

" And who may she be P" Elmira asked, with a flash of her dark eyes.

"Oh, you Witch!" Harry exclaimed, slipping his arm round her supple waist and kissing her, "you will drive me crazy."

" I think you are a little gone in that direction," said Elmira, straggling to her feet, her face flushed, but without any- thing like anger in her eyes.

" Elmira, I love you ! I know I am a scamp to say so ; I know it is an outrage on friendship ; but I can't help it-"

"Oh, Harry!" was Elmira's only answer, though she moved away from the intended embrace that was meant for the conclusion of his declaration.

" Ton forgive me don't you ?" he asked, as she evaded his touch.

" Oh, yes," she said, " don't see how I can be angry."

" Ton always knew I loved you !"

" How should I know when you never told me?"

" If I had would you now be engaged, as he says you are, to Daid Keith ?"

" That depends." "Upon what?"

"Oh, don't ask so many questions. Gome into the other room ; Mrs. Dene will

The sole right of publication in West Aus- tralia has been pr <-ed by the proprietors ©f the WKBT AUSTRALIAN.

think it odd^andjhe ia always .joking me atxraVyoo?* ".

"Is she P"

".Says I like yo« beat, and thinks you are such a gentleman !"

" I ara infinitely obliged to Mrs. Dene," Harry replied.

" Oh, she is a great admirer of yours." "Before we go, Elmira, may I come again later ?"

"How later P"

" If your father does not come home." " Ko, sir, certainly not," said Elmira, her hand upon the door.

" I have so much to say to you."

" Don't you think you have said enough for the present P"

"Elmira," he said, gliding up to her before she had time to move, and laying his hand npon her arm, " say you don't

hate me."

" Of course I don't," was the reply. " Then say you love me."

" Oh ! that is a very different thing," she said, bnt her eyes encouraged the kiss that he pressed silently upon her lips, and as she left him she returned the pressure

of his hand.

"Charity," she said, "Mr. Barkstead has some news for rou from your friend, Mr. David Keith," and then she went hurriedly to her own room and flung her- self upon the bed.

After a long talk with Mrs. Dene, Harry said he must go, and he wished to say good evening to Miss Webb; bnt Elmira sent him word that she had a headache and he must excuse her.

" Has she relented ?" Harry was saying co himself as he walked along the road towards Yarmouth. " I've known impul- sive women do so after the most promis- ing interview. Ah, well ! the chief pleasure of capture is in playing your fish. Once fairly hooked, Mrs. Charity Dene must help me with the landing net!"




The hours were weeks, the weeks years to Mildred Hope and Sally Mumford since David was no longer at Hartley's Row, and was to been seen no more bounding across the danes to Webb's eottage, or pushing off the Swallow on trips to the Plying Send, or oa afternoon sails with the smack owner's daughter.

They talked of no one else these two women, except when Mildred felt bound to remember her missionary duties. She found-Sally more than usually sympathetic towards women whose husbands were away at sea. No tale of sorrow went to Hartley's Row without relief. Sally said whatever she did she did it because sha was sure it would please David.

Mildred upbraided herself in her own room and upon her knees for thinking so much of David; and yet the more she tried to put him out of her thoughts the more he would obtrude. This was oven so when she was at prayers. Once she had done penance in a long fast and an increased prison duty on account of a transient feeling of jealousy against

Elmira Webb. She found the face of David Keith coming between her and the church, thoughts of him taking place of holy reflections. She took long walks where he had walked, encouraged people to talk of him, even allowed Miss Mum- ford to continue speaking «f the wish that David had chosen her for his wife instead of Elmira.

Mildred Hope was in love with David ; she would not have admitted it even to Sally; nor would she hav» denied it, being charged with it. She admitted it in her prayers and askod for forgiveness; for was she not wedded to duty to the service of the Lord ? Had she not bound herself to, be one of His shepheds, to watch over His flocks, to visit the sick and needy, to give up her life to His mission ?

In her most intense religious maods, Mildred felt as keenly the sin she believed she was commiting as any nun might have felt under similar circumstances. And yet her lave had sweet dreamy moments in which shejbuilt castles in the sunny air of the dunes with bitter moments to follow when the winds blew from the North and scattered them with the spume of the sea and the red

leaves of the autumn.

Poor, little Mildred H<>pe ! Why will women think they are strong1 enough to make vows and take np dntiea in opposi- tion to impulses of the heart they have never felt, and under the influences of which they may fall at any time. Mildred could not know her destiny any more than any other woman.- She had no right to cast her horoscope and act upon her own

views of the future. It had all been

mapped out for her ne doubt long before she had any ideas of her own. She could be charitable and religious, she could visit the fatherless and the widows without vowing to herself or to Heaven that she would do nothing else. Nor was all this benevolent activity and self-sacrifice in- compatible with falling in love> nor with marriage; and yet Mildred went about as if she had committed a secret crime, a sacrilege.

. Sally Mumford had sleepless nights whenever the wind blew more than ^Ordinarily, and in all her moods that

touched David's welfare she blamed Elmira Webb. David would not have

gone tto sea if it had not been io get money for her. She had bewitched him. The lad cared nothing for money until he knew her. Latterly he hadthoHght of nothing else but making Elmira a lady, buying her this and the other, talked of a yacht to sail with her into foreign ports ; wondered if he would have money enough to buy a house in London. She admitted, of course, that David thought of her too, and often said his dear mothor Sally

should have a fin9 house in Yarmouth market place, with as many servants as Mr. Pethrick, and nothing to do ; and, as Miss Mumford*put it, was generally off his bead about money, and all because Elmira was a vain lass and wanted gew gaws and fine clothes, and to live above her station, and so on.

Autumn was passing into winter and while Mildred and Sally were hungering for news of the Morning Star, and Sally was criticising Elmira's conduct, they had suddenly to face a wreck ashore that seemed almost as pitiable a one as if David's ship had gone down. Miss Mumford, in- the first rush of feeling, exclaimed, " I knew it would come to ill, our David has had a narrow escape !" and then she wept to think of the blow it would be to Zacchens Webb, the shock to David. Mildred had brought the news. She had been te Gaistor twice without being able to make anyone hear at the cottage, and on the third summons she

had. seen-Mrs, Charity-Dene-but it will be best to tell the story as it occurred ; it follows in a natural sequence, the pre- vious chapter wherein Harry Barkstead gave Elmira David's message, and his


It was just before the first snow fell upon the eastern coast, making the dunos all white and smooth ; it was as if nature had intervened to cover up the tell-tale treacherous steps of Elmira Webb, for she had fled with Harry Barkstead, and

no one knew whither.

Zaccheus Webb was away at sea, de- tained by heavy gales. He had put into a distant port; and Sir Anthony Barkstead's son had made his latest conquest complete. Day after day he had lingered at the cot- tage and had won over as a confederate in his suit of love Mrs. Charity Dene, who had sat complacently outside the parlour doonto hear him play upon the spinet those old song and quaint gavottes that were fall of fascination nnder his pliant fingers He had invited Charity to the finest wed- ding she would ever see, and so on ; get- ting possession of the foolish housekeepers sympathy and good word, while Elmira drank in his pictures of the London world, saw herself as Lady Barkstead, and forgot all vows to David Keith, and even her duty to her doting father, as girls hare often done before and will to the end of

Am» nnder the spell of the seducer's honeyed words and right gallant promises.

But surely this pretty Elmira Webb was born to carry on the heritage of misery that rests with vanity and beauty. There is one thing in writing about women, in telling their stories the theme is ever new. No two women are alike. Under certain given circumstances you can give a good guess at the conduct of the average man, but not of the average woman. They love, hate, fear, marry or live single lives, but each with totally different impulses, feelings and influences. You may think yon knew Elmira Webb. Harry Bark-

stead was dead sure he knew her. Per-

haps he did. Anyhow, you and I would have thought her pride, her tact and her commonsense would have sought protec- tion in a wedding ring before she became the travelling companion of Harry Bark- stead, to say nothiag of dishonouring the name and breaking the heart d£ her most kind, affectionate and devoted father.

Elmira was born without the capacity to ba constant. Some men have not the faculty of friendship. Harry Barkstead was a sensnalist. He was led by his pas- sions, Elmira Webb by her vanity. But not by that alone. She rejoiced in her beauty. In an Eastern slave market she would have encouraged the bidding. She had no conscience ; that is as far as one can judge by her conduct. Yet she never vexed her father, was courteous, hospitable, delighted in pleasing everybody, and was quite a thrifty hand in housekeeping. What was wrong with her? Who can tell ? She liked David Keith, thought she loved him, while she laid her head on his knee in the Swallow that night, when he told her he was going to Halifax; but the shadow of Harry Barkstead falling across her vows, she rejoiced in the com- petition for her love, and thought of the uninterrupted flirtations she might have with Harry while David was away. A curions, contradietqry, pretty, inconstant, merry, mischievous, provoking daughter of Eve. this belle of the Eastern coast.

Elmira, without indulging in any par- ticular introspective reflections, did, in a way, argue with the situation.

[To he continued on Scrturdety.~]