Chapter 31165197

See chapter in newspaper

Chapter NumberXIII
Chapter Url
Full Date1892-01-30
Page Number4
Word Count2493
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleQueanbeyan Age (NSW : 1867 - 1904)
Trove TitleFor Cora's Sake
article text

FOR CORA'S :SAKE.': CHOI'~r u XIII.-TTnE SPELL WORKS. Rose -Stillwater was very nearly overdoing her plrt. She rose eiarly next:.morning and came Mdown in the drawing room before any of the family had put in an appearance. She hkd scarcely, seated herself hefore the brighd little sea coal fire that the chilly spring" morning rendered very acceptnlle, if not reallyinecessary, when she heard the heavy measured footsteps of the master of the house coming donh the stairs. Then she rose impulsiveiyfas'if in a flutter of delight to go to mdet hiti; buut checked herself and sat downiand"waited for'lhiin *o come in. ' How heavily the" old; ogre. walkl ! His step would shake the hbouse, if it could:be shaken. *Ho comes like the statue of:'the comnmander in the opera.' She listened, but his footsteps died away on tle:soft;-deep carpetbof the library-into which he :passed. ' Ah I he does not know that I am down !' she said to herself, complacently. Corn came in and greeted Rose with ceremonious politene.s; hwiving resolved, at length; tfo treat Mrs. Stillwater as an honoured guest, not as a cherished friend, or membeel of the house hold. 'Good morning, Mrs. Stillwater. I' hope you have had a good night's rest and feel refreshed after your journey,' she said. Rose replied effusively: ' Ah, 'good morning, dear love ! Yes; thank! you, darling, 'a lovely, night's rest, undisturlied by the thoughts of debts :sand' duns and'ril " doubtful : future. I- slept so deeply htnd sweetly through the night that I woke quite early this morning. The birds were in full song. You must have millions of birds here L, And thesubtile, penetrating fragrance of the hyacinths came into the window, assoonas.I opened it.?? How!.'I love the l erly "spring fldwers that :come to" us almost through the winter snows and before we have done with fires.' " Cora did not reply to this rhapsody. ThenRose.inquired: .. . . 'Does '.your ,grandfather go regularly, to look arfter the works as he used to do ?' ' Mr. 'Rookharrt drives to North End every day,' replied Corn. 'It is amazing at his age,' said Rose. ' Som' acute obhsei er has esaid that ' age is a movable feast.' .Age, no more 'than death, is?' respecter of persons or periods. Men grow old, as they die, at any age. Some "grow old at fifty, others not before they are 'a 'lintindred. ' T think Mr. Rlockharrt belongs to the latter class.' ' I am 'sure he does.' Cora did not confirm this statement. Rose ri'ado another venture in conversa tion: S' So'bitli gentlemen go every day:to' the works ' 'Mr. Rockharrt goes every day. Mr. Clarence usually' remains there from Monday morning thtil Saturd.ay evening.' ' At the works?' 'Yes ;or'at the hotel where he has a suite of 'oriojoif hi'h.ho occipies. orcasionally.' ' Dear me 1 So you haveh been alone here all day long,, every day but Sunday. And now I hav'? come 'to' 'keep :you. company, darling. You shall' not feel lonely any longer. And.-what was that Mary Queen of, Scots 'sidl:to her lady hostess on the night she'passed at the castle in hler sad 'progress from one prison to another : 'We two widows,.having no, husbands to trouble us, may agree very well,' or words to that effect. So darlig, you and .I having no -husband's to trouble us, may also agree very well. Shall we not ' .'' I caniiot speak so lightly on so grave a subject, Mrs. Stillwater,' said Cora. Old Mr. Rockharyt came in. ' Onod inorning, Cora 1 Good morning, Mrs. Stillwater I I hope you feel rested from your journey., .. 'Oh; "quite, `thank you,.' Atld''when I woke, up this morning, I was so surprised ~il ,irldelighted:to find myself safe' at home. Ah,1 heg your'pardon. But I speiit so many years in this dear old house, the happiest years of my life, that I always think of it as home, the otly home TI ever had in all my life,':said: Bose,- pathetically. ''Ydu 'pnor`~childIl :W ell, there is no reason why you should ever leave this haven ,again... My granrldaughter needs just such a bri ght `compamon as ' yu are sure to he. Anidr i 'Qh 6 fittinga one as her first young governess ?.' ' Oh, sir, you are so good to me. May, heiv.n reward you I But Mrs, Rothsay ?'

shie said with an appealing glance toward Cora. 'I do not need a companion; if I did I should advertise for one. The position of companion is also a half menial one, which I should never associate with the name of Mrs. Stillwater, who is our guest,' replied Cora, with cold politeness. 'You see, my dear ex-pupil will not let me serve her in any capacity,' said Rose, with a piteous gliance toward the Iron King. 'You have both misunderstood me,' he answered, with a severe glance toward his granddaughter. 'I never thought of you as a companion to Mrs. Rothsay, in the pro fessional sense of that word, but in the sense in which daughters of the same house are companions to each other.' ' I should not.,shrink from any service,' said Rose Stillwater: Whei breakfast was over, the Iron King called his valet to help hini on with his light overcoat. ' Let me,' said Rose, with joy. ' Have I not done it as well as your valet could 1' she prattled as she gave the last touch. ' Better, my child, much better. Your hands are dainty as well as strong. Thank you, child.' 'Oh, do let me perform these little ser vices for you always.'' ' You are a very good child, but I will not tax you. Good morning. I must he off,' said Mi', Rockharrt shaking hands with Rose as he hurried out to his carriage. At luncheon Rose Stillwater seemed so determined to be pleasant that it was next to impossible for Corn to keep up the formal dqmeanour she had laid out for herself.

' It is very lonely for you here, my dear. How soon does your grandfather usually return I' Rose said: ' At six o'clock. We have dinner at half past,' replied Corm: 'And this is two. Four hours and a half yet I' 'The afternoon is very fine. Will you take a walk with me in the garden V' asked Cora, feeling some compunction for the per sistent coldness with which she had treated her most gentle and obliging guest. ' Oh, thank you very much, dear. With the greatest pleasure.' And she fled up-stairs to get her hat and shawl. .The two women sauntered for half-an-hour among the early roses and spring flowers in the beautiful Rockhold garden. Then they came in nnitd looked over tilhe new magzines in the library. Presently Corn said : ' We all use the library in common to write our letters in. If you have letters to write, you will find every convenience in either of those side tables at the windows.' 'Just as it used to be in the old times when I was so happy here I But I have no letters to write, dear. I have no corres pnndents in all the world. Indeed, dear Cora, I have no friend in the world outside of this house,' said Rose, with a little sigh that touched Cora's heart, compelling her to sympathise with this lonely creature, even against her better judgment. ,.'Is not Mir. Fabian friendly toward you ?' i~quired Corn, from mixed motives-of half pity, half irony. ' Fabian ?' sweetly replied Rose. ' No,

dear. I lost the friendship of Mr. Fabian Rockharrt when I declined his offer of marriage.' Punctually at six o'clock Mr. Rockharrt. returned. And the evening passed as on the preceding day, with this addition to its attractions : Mrs. Stillwater went to the piano and played and sang many of Mr. Rockharrt's favourite songs, which she had learned from old Mrs. Roekhnrrt's ancient music books during her first residence at Rockhold, that she might please the Iron King by singing them. Surely the siren left nothing untried. to please her patron and benefactor. When he complained of fatigue and bade the two women good night, she started and lighted his wax candle and gave it to him. The next day she was on hand to help him on with his coat, and to hand him his gloves and hat, and he thanked her with a smile. So went on life at Rockhold all the week. On Saturday evening Mr. Clarence came home with his father and greeted Rose Still water with the kindly courtesy that was habitual with him. There were four at the dinner table. And Rose, having so excellent a coadjutor in the younger Rockharrt, was even gayer and more chatty than ever, making the meal a lively and cheerful one even for moody Aaron Rockharrt and sorrowful Cora Rothsay. After dinner, when the party had gone in. to the drawing room, Mirs. Stillwater said : ' Here are just fur of us. Just enough for a game of whist. Shall we have a rubber, Mr. Rocknarrt ?' 'Yes, my child i Certainly, with all my heart I I thank you for the suggestion. I

have not had a game of whist since we left the city. Ah, my child, we have had very stupid evenings here at home until you came and brouglit some life into the house. Clarence draw out the card table. Corn, go and find the cards.' 'Let mo ! Please let nie I' exclaimled Rose, starting up with childish eagerness. 'Where are the cards, Cuto deari?' 'They are in the drawer of the card tablo. You need not stir to find them, thank you, Mrs. Stillwater.' 'No; here they are all ready,' said Mr. Clarence, who had drawn the table up before the fire and taken the pack of cards from the draw?vr. ' We must cut for partners,' said Mr. Rockharrt. ' The two highest and the two lowest to be partners I' inquired Rose, as she lifted half the pack. - ' Of course, that is the rule.' .?ortuno'favoured Mrs. Stillwater to MTr. Clarence, lind Cora to Mr. Rockharrt. Then they cut for deal, and fortune favoured Mr. Rockharrt. Rose Stillwater had an excellent hand, and she knew by the pleased looks of her partner, Mr, Clarence, that lie also had a good one; and by the annoyed expression of Mr. Rockharrt's face that ho had a bad one. However, Rose determined that she would play into the hand of her antagonist. Pursuing this policy, shi watched Mr. Rookharrt'splay, always returned his lend, and whens her, attention was called to the error, she would flush, exhibit a lovely child like embarrassment, declare that she was no

whist player at all, and brg to he forgiven; and the very next moment she would trump her partner's trick, or purposely commit some other blundelr that would be sure to give the trick to MIr. Rockharrt. Mr. Clarence was the soul of good humor, but it was provoking to have his own splen did hand so ruined by the bad play of his partner that their iJntagonists, with such very poor hands, actually won the odd trick. In the next deal Rose got a miserable hand ; so did her partner, as she discoderedl by his looks, while Mr. Rockharrt must have had a magnificent hand. Rose could, therefore, now afford to reileem her place in the esteem of her partner by playing her very best, without the slightest danger of winning a single trick. , To be brief, through Rose's management Mr. Rockharrt and Cora won the rubber, and the Iron King rose from the card table exultant, for what old whist player is not pleased with winning the rubber 'My child,' he said to Rose'Stillwater, 'this is altogether the pleasanitest 'evening that we have passed since we left the city, and all through you 'bringing life and activity among us l I do not think we can ever afford to let you go.' C 'Oh, sir, you are too good. WoulJ to heaven that I might find some place in' your household akin to that which I once filled during the happiest years of my life, when I lived here as your dear granddaughter's governess,' said Rose Stillwater. ' You shall never leave us again with my consent. Ah, we,have had a very pleasant evening. What do you think, Clarence 1'

' Very pleasalat for the winners, sir,' said the younger mran with a good humoured' laugh, as he lighlted his bedroom candle, and bade them all good-night. Soon after the little party separated and retired for the night. As time passed, Rose Stillwater continued to make herself more and more useful to her host and benefactor. She enlivened his table and his evenings at home by her cheerful conversation, her music and her games. She served him in innumerable little ways with a childlike eagerness and delight that w:as as the incense, of frankin cense and myrrh to, thie "nostrils of the egotist. And he praisod her and held her up as a model to his g'ranrlddughter.. Mrs. Roths"iy gave but cold assent to all this. Shi had too much reverence for the fifth commandment to tell her grandfather what she thought of the situation-that Rose Stillwater was making a notable fool of him, either for the sake of. keeping a com fortable home, or gaining a place in his will, or of something greater stil which would include all the rest. Meantime the day appromnched when it was decided that they shoul.d go to WestF Point to the commencement, a t which Cadet Sylvan Haul?ht was expected t:o graduate. Mr. Rocklharrt had invited MIrs. Still water to be of their party, and insisted upon her accompn.nying them. Rose denmurred. She even. ventured to hint that MIrs. Rothsay might not like her to go with them; whereupon the Iron King gathered his brow so damrkly and fear fully, and umaid so sternly :

' She had hetter not dislike it,' that RoRe hastened to, say that it' wis only her own secret misgiving, andl thait no part 'of Mrs. Rothsay's domeanour had led her to, such i supposition. ' Cra,' said' the Iron King, abruptly to his granddaughter at the breakfast table, on the morning after this conversation, and in the presence of their guest, ' do you object to Mrs. Stillwater joining our travelling party to West Point ? ' Certainly not, sir. What ,right: have I to object, to anyone whom, you mnight p!asse to invite ? ' 'No right whdtervar. And: tarn glad that you undrerstanrl that,' replirl Mir. Rockharrt. Rose was tremblihng for fear'tihnher 'benefactor would betray, her, as the suggrentor; of the question, .but.he odid not.. (T'o be continued in our next.)