Chapter 31183933

See chapter in newspaper

Chapter NumberI
Chapter TitleTHE ANTIMACASSAR HOUSE.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article31183933
Full Date1907-09-10
Page Number6
Corrections0
Word Count2607
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Age
Trove TitleFate and Patricia
article text Yatc an '" Patricia. BY ALICE GRANT ROSMAN. published by Special Arrangement. CHAPTER I. TEa ANTIMACASSAI Housa. And the spring arose on the garden fair, Like the image of love felt everywhere; And each flower and shrub on the 'earth's dark breast Rose from the dreams of-its wintry rest. -Shelly. Boredom and Dick' Anderson 'went B one day down the mountain road to gether.. They were old time companions, and of late,' since spring had touched their world, they' had been much to gether. For B'oredom is but the Sun day name for Discontent. and Spring and Discontent have been fellow-travel lers all their lives. The lazy haze of mid-day rested upon the hills, and the breeze went by so soft ly that orchid and buttercup and all the flowers that grew among the grass of the roadstead stood motionless as it passed. The twitter of nestling birds and the .drowsy sound of cowbells filled the air, and somewhere a train whistled, far off among the ranges. To Dick Anderson all of these things but served to augment tilat longing for companionship that had been upon him for several days. He wandered along the sunny road in an aimless way, and as he went wondered vaguely what might be his destination, as one who having grown very weary, (ails tor member familiar things. Away to the eastward on ,the higher slope of the range lie could see the houses of the summer people-red-roofed and very trim Sometimes a gardener laboured among their lawns and hedges, or strolled in lazy fashion among their gravelled paths, but more often the gardens were deserted and the houses smiled, blind-eyed but tranquil upon the sun-kissed world. The sight of these houses always caused the young man a certain amount of amusement. just as their owners did, when with the summer they came troop ing weariiy up from town. He had a visiting acquaintance with most of them, for in the summer, when there is little excitement, a young man who is at once interesting and unattached is not by any means to be despised. So the summer girls, as he had come facetiously to call them, made quite a fuss over him during their three or four months sojourn among the hills ; and he, finding that he could still smile at them in private, submitted gracefully, and whilst enjoying the variety thus brought into his monotonous life found time not to fall in love with any of them, or to become anything more than the mere visiting acquaintance. To him these girls were interesting as forming the one connecting link between himself and'that old life that migl.t be his no lopger. Until three years ago he too had been of the city-had worked hard and danced gaily through the sea sons, and gone away to cooler places only when the summer was at its height. Then due day there had come to him a heritage from his consumptive parents; and, building a principle upon the ashes of. his ruined hopes,, he had given. up many pleasant things and' departed to the hills. From that time his life knew scarcely any variety. He wrote a little and read much, lived night and day alike in- the open air, and devoted his summers to the followers of his old life, among whom he was' known as "that nice consumptive Mr. Anderson." To-day the deserted appearance of these summer houses made the young man irritable. He had a sudden feeling that they looked garish and out cf place in the cool green beauty of the hills, and so when a winding roadway hid them from sight he was almost relieved, and turned his eyes gladly to the, township lying sleepily below. There were fewer houses hire, and all save one- showed' signs of life and occu ipation, albeit everything was quiet. Even the one house whose closed blinds :.told -of?desertioniewas not a summer _:°home, for it hiiad never been inhabited since Dick came to the hills. An old man living near was said to be the care Staker, aid sometiines he had been seen pruning the fruit :trees or planting some thing in the garden, that'had been half reclaimed by the scrub. ' . SThe house itself was gray and.ibw and old, with wide verandahs rounia it, and looking atlit from the iroad to-day it seemed:tostand in an aureole of blos sominig Wattle trees, One went to it first down a steep path lined with tall, white gums, then over a creek and up a little hill to the hioiuse and garden land. about it. There were more gum trees in the garden than anything, and ini many places the nnder-lirush of box and bracken grew unmolested between them, so that in summer, when the grass had withered on hill and roadside, this gar den was as cool'and shady i i lace as any gully in the heart of the~hill.: To-day Dick leaned oi the gate for a little, and saw that for once the utre tnaker had been at work. He had'dng the circular beds so that they looked trim and brown among the surroundling tangle of the weed grown paths. Dick liked the change.. He felt that it somehow increased the personality of the place, and he was still gazing smiling ly in at it when the shrill shriek of an engine.roused him, and, looking up, he saw a long white line of smoke trailing low across the hills. ' The mid-day train," he told him self, and strolled lazily away to see whom it had brought from Adelaide to day. It had brought three girls. After wards he supposed there had been other people, but lie never really knew. He only remembered that he had stood and watched them coming up the road, and it had occurred to hini they were not summer girls, because they were not bored enough. And then one of them looked up and saw him, and gave vent to a little exclamation of delight. " Dick I Dick Anderson ! Why you nice, old dear," she said. Afterwards he told-her that he had not been called "Dick " for three whole years, and that it had made him feel a a boy again, but he did not say so then. At the moment, in the clamour of their greeting, he scarcely knew what be said ; but he did know that he was soon laughing more gaily than them all. Dick Anderson and the Heriot girls had been neighbours and playmates years ago, and even when circumstances separated them as they grew older, al ways very good friends. But this friendship, like everything else, had been given up when Dick went to the hills. Now he reclaimed it with boyish eagerness. "This is awfully jolly," he said. " Where are you going to, my pretty maids ? and don't you want a footna'n in-chief to carry your basket ? " " Oh! we're a picnic," explained Patricia. "At least half a picnic and half a business expedition. I hope we look properly formidable, Dick. We are hunting for a house, and mother was most impolite about it. She ias quite sure we would be taken in." " Any house with a grain of taste would certainly take you in," declared Dick, unblushingly. "I say, does this mean you are coming up .for the sum mer ?" Patricia protested. "Now, don't accuse us of being fashionable, please," she said. "it is so rude of you, and it iinfers that our an cestors kept an hotel or a shop or some thing, and they really never did any thing so respectable and unpleasant." ' Then you are house-hunting for someone else 1" he said, disappointment in his tone. " Do you know, I don't be lieve there is one house 'to let' in the place." " But we are coming to live here alto getlier," interrupted Ida. "Just fancy, Dick-the. whole year round. I haven't the faintest i dea ,why we're doing it; but are doing it, but I am sure it will be perfectly delightful." " Unless there is still no house to be let in the village," murmured Kitty ; but the others silenced her. " She is growing up,"- Patricia ex plained to Dick, " and developing a voice pud other absurdities. And she seems to "think she has a right to try to be funny sometimes. It is dreadfully try for the rest of us." " You have my sympathy," said Dick solemnly. " Andas for a house; -Miss Kitty, I find on consideration that there is one, no more and no less. And I am sure it will be the one plac'e in the world to suit you. NOW, am I going to act as showman on this occasion, may I ask ? Of course I .don't know whether this wonderful domicile is. to be let, but I presume that is a detail ?" . '. Quite," they said. So Dick took the basket and led them,. laughing and chatting up the-long road: to the house among the gums. " Ah i there is always such a lovely gummy scent in the hills," exclaimed Patricia. "poesn't it make you feel alive ?" "That is your Australian blood." said Dick, with an admiring glance at her bright face and a sudden thrill of pride in his native land. He had never rea- 1 lized before how entirely praisewoothy it was of Australia to be the home of gum trees (and Patricias). " Still,'` even if one is an Australian one niny have too much of 'gummy scents' at times," declared Ida. " You get them with a gully wind in town, don't you? And 1 think gully winds ought to be suppressed and forbidden by law. Patricia declares she even loves a gullymwind. I think she must be fright fully Australian. " Patricis has a weakness fur winds, t.houlgh," said Kitty.; "' she btays out all day if there is a breath of air, even when the thermometer is above a hun dred. Says she feels stifled, or some ijonsense." " Dick looked, curiouisly at Patricia, but I, she had stooped to; pick some epacris growing by the roadside, and Appeared to be taking no notice of him. "She would enjoy my life, then," he said, walking on with the others, "for I live and sleep and have my being on a verandah, and it is sometimes quite ex citing in the matterof wind." [ "Do you mean to say you sleep on a verandah this weather ".enquired Kitty. " Goodness ! L should think you would catch your death of cold." " I haven't yet." "''At least, it cannot cost you very much for rent," suggested Ida, who had a turn for practical things, "but if you have a wild desire to turn hermit, Dick, why not go the whole length and livein a cave or out in the open scrub ? " " Then you would have no rent to pay at all," said Kitty. He shook his head laughingly at them. "-What mercenary wretches," he ex claimed. "And, as for the rent, one has to pay that, wherever one is-ever in one's grave. What say you, Patricia ? " He turned to look for her, and found she had been walking close behind him, f although she had not spoken. She met his glance with a little smile that seemed to cone from the great depths of her eyes. "They are interested in rent because they are honsehunting, the dear chil dren," she explained. Then she dropped a flower and stooped to recover it, and so when she spoke again the others did not hear. "I have heard of the open-air life be fore." she said, in a low voice, and with looking up, " they say it is very healthy." He thanked her mutely for under standing. " Yes,' he said, " to us consumptives it is sometimes lifegiving." And she nodded and went on in silence. When they reach the empty house they found that Ida and Kitty had paused before it instinctively, and were leaning over the fence, gazing into the cool glades of the garden. "Is this the place ?" questioned Ida brightly, " What a quaint, old-fashioned house and garden, Dick. Doesn't it make you think of antimacassars and photo albums and round tables with square green cloths on them." " The Antimacassar House." mur mured Patricia. *Dick looked round at her. "I like the name," he said, "it sounds so suitable. Makes you think of blighted hopes and maiden aunts and things.. If you come to live here do. call it the Antimacassar House. " We are coming to live here," Pa tricia said. Kitty glanced back. She had opened the gate, and was already half down the hill. " Still we might look at it before we "decide," she suggested, "and supposing the domicile should not be let " But Ida interrupted. "My dear child Patricia has spoken so you might as well take it gracefully," she said. And Patricia laughed, arnd with a little colour in her cheeks ran down the hill to join her younger sister. '" Patricia grows quite prophetic some times," explained Ida, staying behind wi th Dick, " and it makes me'positive ly nervous. I am never quite sure that she hasn't suggested everything we do, but I am always absolutely certain that she has not suggested anything we don't do." He looked down into her pleasant eyes and smiled. " Then you are safe for theAntima cassar House," he said. "They went down the .hill after the others. "Isn't it dear and cool ?" Patricia said, looking upias Dick reached her side, and she -showed him where the creek came to them lazily along its stony, shady way. As far as they could see the gumtrees shadowed it, and all along its edge the grass lay cool and gr, en, save in one place, where a clump of blackberry bushes threw prickly arms across the water. Away in the bright spring sunlight they could see the road go climbing and winding about the hills, sometimes a black speck appearing a gainst its whiteness, but more often de serted and serene. ""Let us have lunch here on the grass," Patricia said; " it. is so cool and green, and I am hflngry. Isn't everybody hungry?" Everybody was, so it was arranged that while the girls unpacked the basket Dick should go off in search of the caretaker, and wrest. from him if pos sible the keys of the house, together with some oranges that they had seen growing in his garden as they came up the road. (To be Continued.) F.B. I. "Marry you I Whly you couldn't dress me." "I wasn't asking for a position as lady's maid." " What became of Nineveh i" " It was de'stroyed." " And what became of Tyre ?" 'It punctured." Bridget Brady from Shibbereen, Lit the fire with a can of benzine; When the fire got a-burning She went without warning, Since which she hasn't been seen. " I hear that George and 'Kitty have made up their quarrel." ' : Temporarily. Thel are to be mar ried soon." " Where are you going to my pretty maid?" "I'm going a-sterilising, sir," she said. "Don't you think you've had enough ice cream ? " "No ma; I don't feel sick yet." " Is Tom a confirmed Bntchelor? ". " I'm afraid so. He is engaged to six girls at? once."