Chapter 31184421

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Chapter NumberIII
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Full Date1907-10-15
Page Number6
Word Count2741
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Age
Trove TitleFate and Patricia
article text fate andti patricia. BY ALICE GRANT ROSMAN. pubIished by Special yXrrangemrnent. CHAPTER :II1. (Continued.) 44 1y the way," he continued presently, 1 "I' believe I must have met some of the Burton relatives. There are some John Burtons who have a summer place up here. Would, they be the same family ? " " Yes, a brother. The family cut Robert after his downfall, I believe. He was too respectable to be recognised."' Dick laughed. " Your , gentle sarcasm is 'most, ex pressive, mater,"'he' said. :" Then I suppose that is why I have never con nected the two families. I have visited the John Burtons, but it did not occur to me that they could be related to my friends." " It wouldn't," said Patricia. " But1 no doubt if you were to say that to the the John Burtons they would think you were trying to be complimentary. Were you, Dick ? " Dick grinned. "I wonder," he said. But this conversation was nearly three weeks old upon that evening when at twilight Patricia set out up the long road to the Burtons. There is a moment when the sun hiss set that' the world, .standing on the brink of night, sends forth .its best of bird song and flower scent in a last de spairing cry to the departed day. That moment we call twilight, and .so when Patricia climbed the hill a - thousand beauties spoke to her. Above her head the clouds drifted pink ahd golden in a sky, slipping at length behind the ridges. From fence and treetop kookaburras mocked her, and now and then a rabbit, emboldened by the gather ing shadows, slid. from her path and hurried away into the scrub. Sometimes a breeze, blowing up from a gully near at hand, brought her the warm scent of ferns growing in running water. A wonderful fragrance it was, delicate and elusive, beside which the perfume of cul tivated gardens sank into insignificance. To Patricia it brought a vision of cool, green spaces she had come upon in her wanderings, and with renewed remem -brance of her mission, she hurried up the bill. Beyond the turn in the road its aspect changed a little, vast gums shadowed it. on either side, and to the right -beyond the trees a wide creek, dark with shadows, flowed upon its bed of stone. Upon this road the Burton's garden opened, and the Burton's house looked down ; and the garden cleared of its natural timber was gay now with blossoming peach and apricot trees and oranges, hanging yel low and inviting among the dark green of their leaves. Mrs Burton was on the verandah as Patricia opened the gate, and, out of sheer pleasure at the picture, she' paused in her work to watch the girl climbing the hill:betwee~i stiff lines of fruit trees. The evening, air had grown chilly, yet •Patricia, with her country's scorn of cold, wore noib wrap:over her dress of delicate delaine. In dainty, folds it fell about her,'at'one with her graceful walk and girlish beauty, and Mrs. Button, watch ing her, thought of the days when in her own life such things had not been wanting-days before young illusions and well-dressed people dropped from 'it altogether. ; Six years, nearly seven, had slipped away from her since then, during which she had faced disillusionment and poverty with an equal patience and humour. And because she .had: taken. :care to'put away from her all memories of better daye, the appearanceof Patricia'. this evening, involuntarily 'awakening such.. memories, came as a delightful break in the monotony of her life. She knew that she was glad to see Patricia, yet shie hlad not the slightest, intention of showing it, nor of'encourag ing.the girl to come again. Therefore her greeting 'was studied, and' even a. little cool ' " How do you do, Mfss Heriot ? " she said. '" Have you cdmein search of Mr." Anderson ? I am afraid he is not at home." Patricia's quick eyes, glanced : at' her humorously. " He isat our house," she said. I' am:beginning to think he is generally at our house nowad'ays. Mother's alTec tionl'has'seized him in a grip of iron, and'doesn't seem to have any present intention of releasing him. You see'- more seriously-" mother has always been very fond of Dick, and I think she is rather worried about him. We have not' seen anythixig of him during the last few years, and he is so changed. No doubt we notice it particularly, be cause we have. not seen him' for so long: but mother' felt ihat it would be a great relief to her if she could hlave a chat with you about him, Mrs Burton. It really would be a charity if you could set .her' rest.. Consumption is so ter rible that:I think people are apt to exag gerate their fears about it if they are not continually on'.the"'spot, and niother hlas not had any previous experience of it." She paused. .. " Mother wondered if you would come down and see her this evening,- iF you were at liesure,"'sh 'finlshed, IagingIg a little. - I know we ireistrangers, and have no right, to ask, it;. b'int- -won'Lt you allow Dick to-be a guarantee of our respectability ?,' Mrs. Burton laughed too, which was t natural-one always did laugh with Pa i. tricia, but she hesitated before replying. a The girl had spoken to her as an equal, and her request was one that it was dif ficult to refuse. And, ah ! how little t Katherine Burton wished to refuse it that was the worst of all. For in this matter she had always been afraid of her inclination There was in her nature - an for the intercourse of i her kind, and yet of late years she had - purposely denied herself such intercourse 1 -not only for pride's sake, but because r she knew that the struggle against ad f versity is always greater when there are appearances to keep up. And she was t .struggling against adversity. She did did. not wish to struggle, she would much i have preferred to lie down and let adver sity crawl over her ; but having sacri ficed lier inclinations in this instance to the requirements of her self-respect, she did not find it difficult to continue the 3 sacrifice in other directions. Above all t things, however, Katherine Burton possessed a very keen sense of and con tempt for the melodramatic, and she , knew that to chase any principle to the death is melodrama undisguised.. She could not help seeing that to refuse Pa Stricia's request would seem both un gracious and quixotic, and she had no wish to be either. . Her one desire was to be ordinary-a very. laudable am bition in 'these abnormal days. It was characteristic of her that her reply to' Patricia gave no hint of this hesitation. " I shall certainly come if Mrs. Heriot feels it will make her mind any easier," she said, in her -pleasant voice. " No doubt she does see a great change in Mr. Anderson. But you must think me very inhospitable. Won't you come in?" Patricia followed her 'into the house, wondering inwardly how-she could most gracefully proffer her next request when suddenly the question was answered for her by the appearance of Jessie and Helen.' In a moment she was laughing and talking with them. . "Do you girls know a marvellous place called ' Bull Creek' ?" she. asked. " Mr. Anderson has been raving about it till we are all fired with a desire to go, there. He has promised to show us the way presently, though I don't believe he really know$ it himself. Is it very far off ?" P' Oh ! no," said Jessie, " only a little way. We went there one moonlight night. It is a lovely place." " I wish you'd come with us to night," said Patricia, as though it _had just oc curred to her. " Mightn't they, Mrs. Burton ? I'm not at all sure, that Dick hasn't some wicked intention of losing us accidentally, and that would foil his little plans. It would be a great idea." ,Jessie and Helen looked at their mother pleadingly.. " Oh ! mother, mightn,t we ? " asked clever-faced little Helen, " I've done my homework." Jessie said nothii'ig., She was old e nough to remember something. of . their. old life, anid to know that such com panionship as Patricia offered had once been theirs by right. " Mrs. Burton looked from one to' the othdr. / She knew that it would be quite legiti mate for her to refuse this request ; there were so many excuses she might. offer, 'and yet it was very :hard to. disappoint the children. It hurt her to remember liow limited thleii pleasure had " been of late-how solitary .tlieir lives;, fr' all their old childish: friends had slipped from them years.ago. And now that 4the chance of a pleasant friendship was held out to them Mrs: Burton wondered if, after all, she had the right to deprive them of its broadening'influence. All her life she ha'd sheltered them, and now for the first time she was doubting the I wisdom of such a course. 'Might it not t meani that she 'was 'taking from them I :their birthright' of 'self-dependence`' and individuality. " They would like to go with you very much, I am sure,' she said to Patricia, and she smiled, but inwardly hier miind was in a tumult. She was nbt usneed to over-ruling. lier own objections in this startling way, and somehow she felt that Patricia was responsible. Yet outward ly the girl had had little to do with it. Perhaps it was that she came into the other's .lifelike ani emuissary from hrap pier times, and so influenced her par ticularly. ' SSo the Burtons accompanied Patricia to the Antimacassar House, and while I the younger members of the party went to Bull, Creek Mrs. 'Burton sat with Mrs. Heriot on the verandidh,discussing Dick ai?d o'ther imrpersonalities, aiid en joyjiiggherself very much. ' For Mrs. "Heriot was an eiitdrtaining. woman- who looked at the world through hunmrous eyes, and never made the mistake of i taking herself or saiyone else seriously. She had much -of "Patricia's charni of manner, and.' a fund of interesting con versation that was'guaranteed never to bore. "'' Aid becausese he asbotlhi well- i read and ~iell-lbrcd-termis that are 'not' always synolyimaiis--he hald nevwr ben 1 anything but popular. Her own life had been alln unusually tranquil ' one. She had loved her husband, and na,,w her remenmbrance of himi was alumost a great- asolace to her as once his com panionship had been. Sihe lived in, t perpetual garden of contentment,- and though a time came when this contenti made her blind to the great need in the life of one very near to her, being blind she did.-not know it nor understand. Much such a nature was Ida's but slhe had not come into her heritage of con tent. Perhaps she never would; it. might be that the alternate heritage of tragedy was awnitiilg Ida, and it wonld miake a liqrminae of hlr-one of rile ama known heroinles, which are thle only real kind after all. In appearance Mrs. Heriot also somae what resembled her youlger dauzghter, except that she was darker and wore a pair of gold-rimmed pince-nez that r seemed to reflect some of their owner's individuality, The moonlight played s upon their glasses now its she rocked - backwards and forwards from the shadow into the light ; and' Kathel ine Burton, watching it, thought that it somleho w matched tle other's light-heartednlaes, a and wit, which were sparkling always, but nevertheless enough to lurt the eyes 9 of the onlooker. Tihe two women L talked and enter taained each other for an hour or Lmmore till the sound of voices 'annoenaced the I -return of Dick and the' girls: Tlien l rs. a Heriot suggested they should go in a doors. In the library they found a merry e party. . Kitty sat on the edge of the s table, yguing with Dick. He had uan i dertaken to reconcile her with' life in the Shills, and seemed to be enjoying the pro cess. Near by Patricia had thrown her self irito a cavernous armchair and drawn Helen down beside lier; but Helen was e sitting bolt upright, a picture of still propriety, eyeing the coimbatants witlI 1 opened mouthed surprise. Ida and ,Jes sie were on the other side of the room talking books, and every now and then their low voice. could be heard through the louder tones of the others. "My Dear child," Dick was saying loftily, " I'm afraid you have no artistic soul. Think of the beauty of these t cloud-swept mountain tops, where the a light of day only lingers-only lingers -well, only lingers half a day. Think of the spot we have just visited, the stream, the dusky stream, floating away between cool banks of green to the fam ocean-and-and--" But Kitty interrupted. '" You-are not writing a poem or an essay or anything, my good man," she e;eminded him. " and'want to gaze at dusty streams and things, you can do that in' town. Look at thel Dotanic Gardens,.for instance. They' havey a creek worth looking at, not a muddy pool full of weeds and stones." - She paused, and at this-moment Jes-" sie spoke to Ida. '"It is very pretty, isn't it ? " she said, and her listless tones stood osit. in startling contrast to Kitty's energetic loquacity. - From the doorway Mrs. Burton heard it with a sense of shock. Momentary as the glimpse had been,, her quick eyes had taken in every detail of the little pic tture-the pretty room with its low white bookcases, the aninmated group round the table, above all, the prim, pathetic, little figure of Helen' in the midst of that gay groun--the prim pathetic little voice of Jessie in the miidst of that gay talk and laughtltr, as they two, the only children present, were years and years older than thle rest. . Evenm when the group had broken up, or rather drawn her into it, .Katherine still retained this impression, seemlilng to see in ! it- a result of - the loneliness to which she had condemned the children. And little by :little she came to see that 'all her care of them had been misplaced, if it made them so joyless and unspon taneous and unchlildlike.? ' So it happened :that instead, of re jecting all overtures of further friendship from the Heriots, as she had intended,, •she found herself accepting them frankly and gratefully-found herself with, a recklessness that-surprised her,-after her years of self-repression-askingsthem :to come and seee her informally and when they would. Dick viewed these proceedings With growing wonifler, and afterwards, when biddinmg Mrs. Burton good-night, Ime. tried, to show her his appreciation of them by a clumsy word or two. To be Oontinued. F'P:.: '6. :His ma-in-law had been with them for three long weeks. ... S' To-morrow,'" said mhis wife,-" will bemamma's birthday. I wish I conld thiii of something appropriate '.to give her" - - r - Why not give her a railway ticket hom?ie I'.he suggested . Lawyer (examining witness):' " Where was your maid at the ? Lady':'" In my boudoir, arrangilig any hair." Lawyer: " And were ou there also ?" SLady (indignantly) : ' Sir ! " : m You cainnot marr my. daughter, sir, intil her education completed:" - " . But her ediuc?tiol? cani't be complete until she has married me."'.: - .: . Time auto-horn goes toot-tdot-toot, ": The engine rat-a-tat.; ' ~A piece o:f glass, an'dthen' alas mi -... l'rte beastly tyie goes flat.. * How did 'l'iompson get so: bjild? " "' Well, half of his ,hair come out wvorrying about the girl he wanted to: marry. And the otherhalf ' " " Oh, she married.him " "He is a very dissinated young man, isn't he . " " Hopeless. Thliey re tryiig to marry him off to a Newporp t girl:.