|Newspaper Title||Queanbeyan Age (NSW : 1867 - 1904)|
|Trove Title||For Cora's Sake|
FOR CORA'S SAKE. I CuAPTER 'V.-(Coi?tinued). SWhen she repulsed him in this spasmodic manner, he recoiled as a man might do who had received a sudden blow; but he did nut rise from his position, but watched beside her sofa, in great distress of mind, patiently wait ing for her to speak and explain. Gradually her tempest of emotion seemed to be raging itself into the rest of exhaustion.' Her sobs and tears grew fainter and fewer; and presently after that she drew out her handkerchief, and raised herself to a sitting position, and began to wipe her tear-stained fact and eyes. Though her tears and sobs h hd -ceased, still her bosom heaved convul sively. He arose and seated himself beside her, put his arm around her, and drew her beauti ful black, curled head upon his faithful breast, and bending his face to hers, entreated: her to tell him the cause of her grief. '-Vhat is it, dear one ? Have you had bad _news.?. A telegram from Rockhold ? Either of the old people had a stroke ? Tell me, dear 7' SN ithing-has-haappened,' she answered giving each word with a gasp. ' Then what troubles you, dear ? Tell Ine wife! tell me ! I am your husband I ' he whispered, smoothing her black hair, and gazing with infinite tenderness on hlier troubled face. ' Oh, Rule I Rule I Rule I' she moaned, closing her eyes, that could :not. bear his gaze. ' Tell me, dear,' he murmured, gently, con. tinuing to stroke her hair. - '.I aim-nervous-Rule,' she breathed. I shall get over it-presently. Givel me-a little'time, she gasped. Nervous 7' He gazed clown on her woe -writhed'face, with its closed eyes that would not meet his own. ,Yes, doubtless she was nervous-very nervous; but it was morethsan that. Mere nervousness never.. blanched a woman's face, wrung 'her features or convul sed her form like this. '.'Cora, look at me,' dear. There is some thifig I have to say to you.' She forced herself to lift her eyelids and meet the- honest, truthful eyes that looked clown into:hei's. 'Cora,' he said, with a certain grave yet sweet tone of authority, ' there is somen great bdirlen oin your imind, dear-a burden too heavy for you to bear alone.' ' Oh, it is I it is I it is I ' she wailed,. as if ;theivords 'had broken from her without her kilovledge. 'Then let me share it,' he pleaded. ' Oh, Rule, bear with inn 1 I ilid not wish to distress you with my folly. D)n not mind .it,IRule. I'it will pasts away. Indeed, it will. I will .he a true.wife.tc, you, after all. Osily, do hot disturb your own righteous spirit about e e; do not notice my nnods ; and give me time. I shall come all right. I shall be ':to you-all that you wish me to be. But, for the Lord's love, Rule, give me time I' slohe pleaded, with voice and eyes so full of woe thit the man's heart sank in his bosom. I.e' rewvpilo and withdrew his arm from her': ieck. She .lifted her head from his; breatst then and leaned back.in th'o corner of the sofa. She trembled with fear now, lest she had betrayed her secret, which she had resolved to keep for his own sake. ' 'Dear, . you have said too imuch and too 'little. Tell me' all'now, 'Corn. It is' best thlat you should, dear. ' SRule I oh,:Rule I must Il must I 7' she 'plaeled; wringing her hands. I' Yes, Core,;it is' best dear.' ',Oh', I:.would lhave borne anything to haive spared,. you. this :;l But-I, betraye l myself., Oh, Rule, please try to forget wliht you'haIve seeti'and heard-: Bear with me for a:little while.' :Give.melsome little time to get over this, and you shall see how truly I will do my duty--how earnestly I will .try iito mnake you happy,' slle prayed. ' I know, dear-I know you will be a good dear wife, aind a dearly loved 'and fondly cherished wife. But begin,' dlear, by giving nme your confidence. There can. be no real union without confidence betiween husband and wife, my Comr. Surely you moniy trust i Ino, dear,' lie said, with serious tenderness. ' Yes, I can trust you. . I will trust you with all, through all, Rule. You are wise and good. You will forgive' me and help me to doh the right.' She spoke so wildly and so excitedly that he laid 'his hand tenderly, seothingly, on her head, and bogged her to be calm and to confide in him without hesitation. Then she told him all. W7hat a story for a husband to hear from lis wife on the evening of their wedding d le listened in silence, and without moving a muscle of hIis face or form. * When he had heard all hlie arose from the sofa, stood up," then reeled to an arml chair nlear at hand and droppled heavily imitO it, hIis huge stalwart frame s weasik fron sutdden faintnmess as that of an infant., S'01, Rule I Rule' I your angeir is just I' cried Coa, wringing her lhands in despair. ' He looked at her in great trouble, but his
Sful compassion. He could not answer her. He could not trustl himself to spank yet. His breast was heaving, working tumultu ously. His tawny-honerdel chin was quiver . ilig. He shut his lips firmly together, and 'tiierl to still the convulsion of his frame. - _ ' Oh, IRule 113e angry with inn, blame me, reproach me, for I iun to blameo-bitterly, bitterly to blame. But do not hate me, for I love you, Rule, with a sister's love. "And forgive in', Rule-nob just now, for that ii woul lIe in possthle; perhaps. lBut, oh I do forgive imn after a while, Rule, for I do repent - oh, I do repent that treason of the heart-that treason against one so worthy ,of the truest loveandi honour which woman :gives man. You;wivill'[ forgive me after a while-after a-probation 1' He could not yet aonslsr her. . Oh, if you will give me tile, Rule, I will -I will banish every thought, every memory of my-my-ºny season in London, and will 'devote myself to you with all my heart and soul. No man over had, or ever could have a more devoted wife than I will be to you, if you will only trust 'me and be happy, Rule. Oh I' she suddenly hburst forth,'seeing that he did not reply to her, iyou are bit terly .tngry with me. Yrn hate me.' .You cannnt forgive me. Anid you are' right. You are right.'
Now he forced himself to speak, though in a low and broken voice. 'Angry? With you, Cor al No, dear, no.' '-You blame me, though. You must blame me,' she sobbed. '.Blume you 1 No, dear. :You have not been" to blame,' he faltered faintly, for he was an almost mortally wounded man. 'Al I what do you mean? Why do you speak to me so kindly, so gently? I could hear your anger, your reproaches, Rule, better than this tenderness, that breaks my heart with shame and remorse!' cried Cora, bursting into a passion of sobs and tears. SHe did no, come near her to take her in his arms and comfort her as before. A gulf had opened between them which he felt that he could not pass, but he spoke to her very gently and compassionately. ' Do not grieve so bitterly dear,' he said. ' Do not accuse yourself so unjustly. You have done no wrong to me or to any human being. You have done nothing but good to me, and to every human being in your reach. To me you have been more than tongue can tell-my first friend, my muse, my angel, my inspiration to all that is best, greatest, highest in human life-the goal of all my earthly, all my heavenly aspirations. That I should love you with a pure, single, ardent passion of enthusiasm was natural, was inevitable, But that you, dear, slrholt mistake your feelings towards me, mistake sisterly allfection, womainly sympathy, initel lectual appreciation, for that living fire of eternal love which only should unite man tand woman, was natural, too, though most unfortunate., I am not fair to look upon,
Cora. I have no form, no coimelinio~s, that anyone should-' r H-Ie was suddenly interrupterd by-,the girl, who sprain;g from her sent and sank: at his feet, clasped his knees, and. droppled her head upon his hands ill a tempest of sobs and tears, crying : ' Oh, Rule I I never did (leserve your love I I never was worthy of you I " And I long have known it. But T do love you I Ido love you I Oh, give mo, timo and opportunity to prove it I' she plehded, with -many tears, saying the same words over and over again, or words with the same nmeaning. He laid both his large hands softly on her bowed head and held them thore with a soothing, quieting, mesmeric touch,'until she had sobbed, and cried, and talked herself into silence, and then he said : ' No, Cora. No, dlear. You are, good and true to'the depths of your soul; but you deceive yourself.? You do not love tile. You pity, you esteem, you appreciate ; and you mistake these sentiments as you mistook sisterly nati'ction'for such love ns only stoulld sanctify the union of man and woman.' ' lut I will, Rule. I Twill love you even so. (Give me a little time,' site pleitded. 'No dear, no. I am sure that you would do your best at any cost to yourself; lut tihe sacrifice is too great, dear. You must not ?immolate yourself on my unwtorthy shrine, Corn.' SOh, Rule I You frighten me I What do you intend to do1 ' exclaimed Corn, with a new fear in her heamr. '; *1 will toll you later, dear, 'when iv ve are both quieter. And, Core, promise. me one thing-for your own sake, dear.'
S' will promise you anything you wish, Rule ; and be glad to do so-glad' to do any thing that will please you,' shei earnestly assured him. 'Then promise that whatever may happen you will never tell any human- bing what you have told me to-night.' 'I promise this on my honour, Rule.' 'That is all I ask, and it is exacted for your own sake, dear. _ The- fair name of a woman is so white and pure thrit the smallest speck can be seen upon it. Anid no', dlear, it is nearly eleven o'clock. Will you ring for your maid and go to your room ? . I have letters to'write which, I thbiik, will occupy me the whole night,' ho said, as he took her hand, and gently raised her to her feet. At that moment aL servant entered, bring ing in a card., 'Show the gentleman into this front room,' said the governor-elect. The servant went to do his bidding. Then Rothsay turned to Coin, saying : 'I must see this man, dear, late as it is. I will bid you good-night now. God bless you dear.' And without even a farewell:kiss, Rothsay passed out. And Cora, did no, know that he haid gone for gotid. She ranig fo her inaid and retired to her ronim, .there to pass.:a ssleepless, anxious, reinosiful n iught. wVhat wiuh1l Ih the result of her cnfes sion t,o her hIusban?l 1 Shie daIled 'not toi conjecture.. He hIad been gentle,, tendet, iost con siderate, and most charitable to lier weak
ness, never speaking of his own wrongs, enovor reproacIhing her for inconstancy. fIe hadl snil, in tefrct, that hl wuiilul coma to nll unlllrstallning with her IAter, when they both should be stroliger. When would that h ?7 To.morro,w 7 Scarcely, for the cleroninoies of.the coming day must occupy every moment, of his time. And what, evountially, would he do 7 His words, divinely compassionate as they had been; had shadowed forth i separation betwion them. Had hI not said that to be the w\ife of a husband sioe could not love would he ia sacrilice that no woman should over make and no ulait should over acceptl That she should not so ollffer up her life for him ? co IVhlini could. this mean but n uontemplated separation 7 So Colr Iny sleopless° atid torturid by these llharrssing qustioins. WhVlo?i Rulz Rothsaiy entered tliu front drrawing room ihe found there ai young nmer chant marinn captainl whom he l had known for Inauly yearus. lAh, Ihow do yon do, Ross 7' hI said. •How do you do, Oavernor 7 T, must ask pardon for calling so late, hbt---' 'Nob at all. How can T be oE use 7' 'WWhy, in no way, whatever. Don't sup. pose that everyone who calls to see you has an oflice to seek or an axe to grind. Though I suppose most of them have,' said the visitor, as he seated himself. Rothisay dropped into a ollchair anld forced himself to talk to the young sailor. 'Just in from i voyage, Ross 7' ' No, just going out, Governor.'
Rothsay smiled at this premaature best wval of the high official title, but did.not aseta the matter. right. It was of too. little import: ance. .'.I wauis goingtooxplain, Governor, that I was just passing through the city on.my way to Norfolk, from which my ship is to' sail to-morrow. - So T hadI to take the mid night train. "ButI coull t? "tt ga without a chance to see anil c ingr;rtulatae yot.;' sr)' i a?i' very kitl, Reiss. I lhitnk you,' said Rutlhsay, weairily. ' You're not looking well, Governor. T suppose all this " fuss and feathers is about as hIrraissing as a?stiorimy sea vioyage. Well I will not keep you up long. I should have been earlier only I went first to the hotel to inquire of you, and there I `learit that you were here in old Rockharrt's house, and had married his granddaught~ir. Congratulate you again, Governor. That reminds me that I must not keep you awtyy from her ladyship. You look quite worn out,.Rothll say, so good-bye,' said the visitor rising and offering his hand. ' Good-bye, Ross. I wish you a pleasant and prosperous voyage,' said Rothsay, rising and shaking hands. He followed iho youi'g aailor to the hall, and seeing nothing of the poriter, he let the` visitor out ind locked the door after him. Then hlie returned to the drawing room. J-Ittlling his head betweeni his hands hlie walkedl slowly up and down: the floor-up. anl tlown--many times. I This -is weakness,': he muttered, ' to be. thinking of myself when. I should think only of her and the long' life before her, which
might be so joyous butfor me-but for mo I Dear one who, in her tender childhood pitied thile orplhan boy, and with patient, pains taking e,'rnsetness taught b him to read amid write, andl gave him the first impulse atnd inspiretitoi to a higher life. And now she would give hI.r life't,, me. And for all the good she has done me all her days, for all the blessings, shle has brought me, shall I blight hoer happiness? .Shall I make this hilak. return ? No, .no. Better. that I sh liuld pass forever out of her.life.-pass folrever out of ?sight-forever out of this w,rld--than live to make her suffer. Make her suffer? I? Oh, no I Let fhame, life, honours, all go down, so that she is saved so that she is made happy.' He paused in his walk and listened. All the house was profoundly still -all the household evidently asleep-except her. He felt sure she was sleepless. Oh, that he could go andi comfort her, oven as a mother comforts her child ; but Ihe could not. ' I suppose mnnny would say,' he murmured to hitisulf, ' thnt I owe my lirst earthly duty to the people who have called ine to this highloflice ; that private sorrows and private consoience should yield to the public, and they would be right. Yet with me it is as if death had stepped in and relieved' me :of oflicial duty, to be taken up by my successor just the same? ' He stopped and put his hand to his head, murmuurig : ,' Is this special pleading ? I wonder if I ,am quite anne?' - Thea dropping into,+ chair lie coveied his face with his hands and wept aloud.
uDse' anyone cihairiC' hui with l 'w~ i ne's Tpiink .;of, the tragedy of a whole life icomi pressid xI that one *cru iarl hour i After a little whlilu+ lie g!ewlniorecoi 0mposed. The tears had relieved, the c0vurladei 'heart. Hei'nrose ;and recommin:nced his walk, reflect. ing with more calmniess onL the cruel situa tion. 'T shall rigiht her wrongs in the only p,?maibll w;iy in which it can be done, and I shill ih'!, n- harm to the State. Kennedy will 'ua' liotter. governor thari I could, have R?ien. H'o is F"an older, wiser,; and more experienced statesman.- I am conscious that I have beetn ovei-rated by the people who love ine.. :I was elected for my popularity, not for. my.. merit. And now-I am. not even the man 'that I was-my life seems torn out of my bosotli. 13h, Corn, Cora I life of my life I But you shall be happy, dear one, free and happy, after a little while. Ah I I know your gentle heart.: You will weep for the nian whom you-loved as a brother. Oh I-Heaven I hut your tears will come from a~ passing cloud that will leave your 'future life all clear and bright-not darkened for ever by the slavery of a union with one whom you do not-only because you cannot -love. He walked slowly up and down the room fora few more turns, then glanced at the clock on the mantel piece and said: 'Timne passes. I must write' my letters.' There was an elegant, little writing desk .standling inl the corner of the room and filled 'wvith :tationery, mostly for the convenience of. the ladies.of the family when the Rock harrts occupied their town house.
He went to this, sat down and opened it, 'laid paper out,"and then with his- elbow on the desk and his head leaning on the palm of his hand he fell into deep thought. At length he began to. write rapidly. He anon finished and sealed this letter. Then he wrote a second and a longer one, sealed that also. One-the.first written-he put into a secret drawer of .the desk; thel other he dropped into his pocket. * Then he took a loig, lnst., lingering, look around the room. His wandering gaze fell on the open writing desk, which in his misery he had forgotten to close. He went to it and shut'down the lid. L Then he passed out of the room, took. his hat from. the rack in the hall, and left the house for ever. A hand touched him on the arm. He turned and saw old Scythia, clothed in a lung, black cloak of some thin stuff, with its hood drawn over her head. Rothsay started. SCome, Rule. You have tested woman'si. love tonday, and found it fail you ; even a"-I tested man's faith in the long ago, and found it wrong me. Come, Rule. You and. I have had enough of falsehood and treachery. Let us shike.the dust of eivilisation off our shoes.. Come, Rulo. (2b be continued in our next.)