Chapter 31184603

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Chapter NumberV
Chapter Url
Full Date1907-10-22
Page Number4
Word Count2200
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Age
Trove TitleFate and Patricia
article text CHAPTER V. WHO KNOWS WALTER HUNT ? 'My dear Anderson It has just occurred to me that you are the very chap to put me on to something I want. You know this is my last term (and my last year, I devoutly hope), and I have a heavy month before me. Am a bit fagged, too-been out a lot, you know how hard it is to resist that kind of thing and as I'm not wildy break down and come a cropper in my exam., I've determined to migrate to your what d'yer-call'-em hills for the week ends, and anyrother time I can screw in. Now, do you think you can fix me about lodgings ? I remember how you boasted over the va ried excellence of yours, and I should much like to be at the same place if there are no vital objections. Lknow what a stu dious chap you are-always pepping away at something, and that would keep me up to the mark. Besides, we could have some jolly yarns about old times; Let me know if you can arrange if for me. Oh I and about I 'As the governor is stand ing.the'racket I don't much care .what I pay-say the same as you, and then I can wander in arid out at my own sweet will. Write soon like the good fellow you are, to SYours as ever, WALTER :HUNT. ick knew the contents of this letter ..U .by heart before he slept that night, and- sleeping, dreamed of it, and waking, wished that it had never been written; and tried to'shake the memory. of it away• from him with irritation. Being by nature a straightforward per son he did not try to disguise from him self the meaning of this irritation, but' knew that it arose from no other cause than jealously. He had no objection to sharing his lodgings with Walter"Hunt, .buit he was wise enough to see' that - this would, probably lead to 'shairing the Heriot's friendship with Walter Hunt, and even something more,' perhaps sharing Patricia's favour with Walter Hunt. And to this Dick Anderson' had a distinct objection. For the fable of the dog in the manger may be a very laudable theory, but it loses favour in practice when we are 25. and in love. The knowledge that we cannot win the girl ourselves does not usually imbue us with a wild desire to see the. other man step in and do so. Dick knew that it was 'somewhat premature to call Walter I unt the other mnan. but, he- wds. very much afraid it might not long - continue p'remature, ionce that delightful youth had come to the hills. For in recalling his knowledge of Walter Hunt, of his careless good nattire:that carried all. bet fore it, he could not, try as he would,' !,help'classing him .with Patricia Heriot. The charm of manner that made Patricia irrisistible was Walter's too, and though Dick recognised the superficiality of his friend's nature'in comparison -with the -girl's, he ,was not sure but that this would added attraction to Pa tiricia since she was so opposite in this .':respect. Thus he argued asid thus his argument .bprought him always back to the same point-that he was not pining .for Walter Hunt's society in the hills; and:',because 'hiss reasons were rather inore ilatural thln worthy, he had a dis 'tip:ct objection to giving into them: This was Dick's st'andard of personal excel lence, and because in this instanceit was a ,peculiarly discoticerting one,, he at length gave up the contemplation of the. subject altogether, and leaving' his de cision.and reply. for, some future, time, :set off to the Antimacassar House. He met. Patricia going out sketching, and seizing'her easel, insisted on accom panying her. " But I am going to be very busy,.and not in the least . entertaining, I warn you." she said..... S ,Dick reminded her that she could not S'elpi beling entertaiiiing, and then she ....'lauglied. and gave in gracefully. ' They weint off together through the scrub. their way a shady one always, and cooled by a .tender wind ; and after a ' little they found themselves scrambling I through the thick underbrush'of a hill side into a fragrant gully where the creek 1 ran"between- banks of fern. .Pafricia called a halt here, and' while' she worked,,sometimes .talking to 'him and sometimes silent, Dick lay upon his I l;.?ck aind watched her, the cool green of 1 fr ee'a bove him, the cool green of grass S?.t?'ai.i. And as lhe ratchedhe became :iore tlian ever content with hisr present existence-less than ever anxious for Walter Hunt's presence in the hills. e Once when the subject became upper g most in his mind he asked Patricia if e she knew Walter Hunt. Patricia did not think so. "I may have met him at dances, per I 'haps," she said, " but I don't remember." t " Then if you don't remembeir, you r certainly have not met him," chuckled s Dick. "Forgetfulness is not- permitted in that direction." t " Isn't it ?" bhe said. " Then thank i goodness I have'not met him," and. re lapsed into silence again. Dick lighted a cigar and lazily watched the blue smoke curling upwards. " We were at college together," he re marked absently after a while. "Oh ? " murmured Patricia, without any great show of interest. " Why didn't you bring some work with you, Dick ?." "And at the University," continued Dick, without heeding her, *' for a year or two.". Patricia smiled to herself and :con tinued her own line of conversationi un daunted. '" And then," she remarked, "we should both have been employed without disturbing each other." '"He's a very jolly kind of chap," Dick went on unheeding. And Patricia laughed outright. "Well, suppose lie is," sheexclaimed, " do you think that will help you ? " He sat up suddenly and looked at her. " By Jove, no, that's just it," he said. " I don't think so," after which some what startlingly lucid remark he dropped into silence again. Dick did not go home to luncheon that day, but stayed at the Antimacassar .House, and afterwards, when-Patricia had disappeared into the studio; he helped 'Ida arrange some of the books in the library, which was her special care. It was a delightful room-with two French windows opening on to a southern vine clad verandah. A wide door leading from the passage bore 'the legend "There is no-past while books shall live," and this inscription seemed but a preparation for the quaint charm of' the room within. "A deep red carpet covered the floor, in the centre of which stood a table with writing accessories and a bowl of flowers. And all about the room there were couches and easy chairs of many shapes and sizes, all invitingly supplied with scarlet cushions. At one end of the room a bay window with deep old fashioned ledges looked upon the garden.'and the remainder of the wall space was occupied by low white portable bookshelves quaintly- carved. It was essentially the room of a booklover, and it had surprised Dick to find, as he soon did, that;Ida was its particular guardian spirit. His remembrances of her had al ways been somewhat vague and far . be tween, for she had had less a part in his childish days than either Patricia orl Kitty. Such as they were they seemed. mostly connected with the making of toffee and other marvellous concoctions, so that he had come to think.of her as a practical girl, who was not likely to find much interest in books. He found, how ever, that Ida had read deeply, and c6uld% talk well about what she; had read. On the, subject of books and Patricia, in deed, she was almost as enthusiastic as Dick himself, and so he came to like her very much,'and to be fond' of pottering with ,he; 'among the treasures' of "the 'li brary. In one' corner 'of the room Ida had been arranging,a shelf of books by Aus tralian writers.:, It. was not quite full, and she was trying "how. best to make the gap' unnoticeable. , " It is "waiting foi a contribution from you, Diek"- she said. 4 Do hurry up and write a book. for us." . Dick i:wis remindedof Patricia's words of the morning,, and through them of Walter Hunt. " Ida," he said suddenly, ," did you. ever meet a chap called Walter Huntit " Ida looked'up.: " No I don't 'think' so,"'she said. "Why does he write books ? " 'Dick laughed. " He writes letters,'!. he said; ," I wish to goodness he didn't." Ida laughed, too, at hli vehemence. "Letters ? ".she said. "Do you mean love letters ?". : .He shrugged his shoulders. " .,I shouldn't wonder. I'd not. even put love letters beyond: Walter Hunt." "Dick, yoi and Patricia are absurdly alike in some respects." Dick bowed low;. ' Poor Patricia and happy I," he murmured,: " And, pray, to what may I attribute this suddei I kindness, fair Ida" " .. "Oh,it's quite true," said Ida nodding. " Sdmetimes you both 'say the silliest tlings." Dick patted her head in a fatherly manner. , There is still hope for youi my child;" he said. "At times I notice glimpses of an intelligence that slhow me there is decidedly hope for you, so cheer up," The afternooi wore away, and Dick werit home, the momentous q?lestion of1 the letter 4till undecided... H·e passed I "I ailother restless niglit and another 'day .at:the Antimscssar House, his frequent refref~ ieste& d Walter Hunt prvroking Patricia's laughter and Ida's frank sur prise. And in the end the question, was. settled for him, in part at least. Going home on. the evening of the second day lie found the Burton' house hold in an uproar. Binney, the mau of all work, had made off with the money entrusted to him for banking purposes. In actual figures the loss was not a great one, but at the moment it meant a great deal t9 the Burtons, as Dick surmised from thle anxious faces that greeted.him. He guessed, too, that her husband's uselessness had compelled\ Mrs. Burton to entrust more to Binney than she nmight otherwise have been in clined to do. Therefore to all intents and purposes, Mr. Burton was respon sible for this misfortune, as for every other that had befallen them. But his wife never once reproached him. In her strong, capable, silent way she had been working hard, ever since the loss was discovered,;:interviewing detectives, and mentally picring for every emergency likely to arise ? t .of the loss. She did not for a moment expect to recover the moliey, and she linew that without it she must scrape and save and economise until it was made good. Nor' could she see how Binney was- to be re placed at present. • Well, there 'was no help for it. If necessary she must do Binney's work herself. So she planned, falkig the whole bur den of the affair on her own shoulders, as usual, and saying little about-it. And meanwhile 'her gentlemaulr'' husband wandered:,through the hot'se, ranting about scouldrels and the police and uis= fortune ijhis own beautifuily indiscrimi nate manner. Dick watched him . with a contempt that seemed momentarily to expand. He knew none of the details as yet," ex cept that the money was gone, foi- al though lie had put himself at Mrs. Bur ton's disposal, she had smilingly refused his assistance, saying that it was too late to do much more to-night, and, besides, he ivas tired, and ought to rest, So' re= luctantly, yet fearing to intrude, he at length went to his room, fully conscious 'ofonly two things-that any money loss must mean a considerable `diffictlty to Mrs. Burton, and that in his pocket he carried a letter from Walter Hunt." It'was characteristic of-Dick that all his indecision over this letter vwnished directly he heard o'? this new trouble of the Burtons. For he saw at once that the monetary result of taking another lodger would help in a great measure to tide over the storm. And once having come to a decision it was characteristic of him also to cast no backward glances of regret, because it was peculiarly op his personal inclinations. Once, certainly, he found himself won-" dering if outside issues were always to decide his life for him, and whether he might not just as well become a fatalist straight away. But that was all. In deed, so eager was lie to relieve Mrs. Burton's anxiety that he would have put Walter's proposal before ,her at once; but since the letter had not obviously just arrived he came to the conclusion that it might seem in better taste to wait until the next day. So he waited. But the next day Mrs. Burton went early to town and returned' late, so that lie had no opportunity to speak to her.. And' the day after