Chapter 31184703

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Chapter NumberVI
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article31184703
Full Date1907-10-29
Page Number6
Corrections0
Word Count2705
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Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Age
Trove TitleFate and Patricia
article text Yat' anUd Patricia., [ BY ALICE GRANT ROSMAN. J Published by Special 3Urartgement. 6c4 I-rl CHAPTER L.?T ..'(Continued.) S he alone had known of her mother's intention to take Binney's place at the rmarket, for last night Mrs. Burton had given her the orders for the day; and her father was not a little disturbed whei' he heard of his wife's action. Therefore when Dick apipeared at break fast he found his host bitterly reproach ing Jessie that she had not told him of her mother's intention, so that he could have stopped such a very unnecessary pro ceeding. Now-Jessie had not been brought up in contempt of her father as she might have been, and it is doubtful whether it ever occurred to her that he should have spared her mother the necessity by going to market himself. But it did occur to her that no word of his had ever deterred Mrs. Burton from a fixed resolve; and so she was not particularly distressed by his reproaches. " Mother said it would not do to risk losing our customers,'" was all she said, "and I expect she knows best." "Nonsense ! nonsense !" fumed Mr. Burton. " Most unparalleled nonsense. And it was very undignified in your mother, Jessie. Dear me ! she might be the wife of a common labourer." "Justso," drawled Dick, sarcastically. He always .drawled when he was angry, and just now he was so angry he could have kicked Mr. Burton down the hill. But, need!ess to say, that gentle man misunderstood his attitude. " I am glad you agree with me, Ander son, very glad," he said. " But I don't," returned Dick, drily. " I have no doubt Mrs. Burton is right. There mnxst be great competition among gardeners at the market, and it would be unwise to lose custom by absence." " My dear fellow, you are such a Radi cal," laughed Mr. Burton. " But-ah -really-it is most painful to me to see my wife take such a menial position." " No doubt Mrs. Barton finds the . position equally distasteful," said Dick, sweetly. " What a great pity she has no man to do it for her, isn't it ? It is certainly not a woman's work." .m For once Mr. Burton seemed to re cognise the hidden ire in the other's tone, for lie changed the subject abruptly. He was beginning little by little to awaken to some knowledge of his own inaction, and to be secretly ashamed of it. And Dick's sarcasm certainly enhanced this feeling to an irritating extent. It did not occur to him even now that the ionly manly course would be to undertake the marketing himself. But he had a vague feeling that Katherine's having doiue so showed a want of confidence in him, and it imbued him with a weak desire to please her, and in some way, re-establish himself in her sight. And so when Dick left the house that morning he .was diverted to see the al leged market gardener wandering aim lessly about, a spade in one hand and a rake in the other, as though he were about to accomplish wonders and hadn't quite decided where to commence. All that day a ridiculously immaculate figure might have been seen " working" in the Burton's garden. Quite ignorant of what had to be done and equally de sirous of doing it, he at length hit upon the expedient of picking oranges and lemons for the market, forgetting that there would be no market for two days now, and that the fruit had to be sorted with some care at least. He accomplished a number of other foolish things during the day, weeding out young plants with an oblivious and unsparing hand, aind generally distinguishing himself. But at least he was at work, and this from one who has been consistently idle for many years, was a change in the right direction. ...The children regarded his unusual activity as a sign- of humour on their ,father's part, andat' luncheon suggested that hlie should take Binney's place per * manently and get their mother to'pay him wages. But later Helen had a. new light thrown upon her father's.actions, and it surprised her very much. Coming up the hill from school that afternoon, she was overtaken by Ida Heriot, who was bringing Mrs. Burton some promised seeds. " Oh, mother's gone to market, Miss Heriot," Helen exclaimed,' " you see that old Binney went and took some of our money, and they can't find him. The money's gone and Binney's gone; and so mother has had to go to market herself instead, isn't it fun ? She went in the waggon with the vegetables just as though she were' that old Binney." " Dear me," said Ida, innocently, "and Isuppose Mr. Buirton hiad to 'go to'town after Binney. Is that it ?"' "Goodness, no !" said Helen quaintly. SFather didn't go to town. He hardly ever does; hlie's just at home. lMbther went yesterday, but not father." " Oh," said Ida slowly, and there was such bewilderment and surprise in her tone that the child noticed it, and puz zled over it for the remainder of the day. It was quite evident Miss Heriot thought her father should have gone to mnarket and she wondered why. ) Meanwhile along the road froni'town Katherine Burton drove tl.e market waggon. Her way lay for the mostpart among hills, thickly wooded and touched by the spring with young, tender green and the gold of wattle ; yet for once all their beauty made no appeal to her through the weariness that possessed her soul. At ordinary times the experiences of the day would have amused and in terested her. But as it was, the circum stances that had. occasioned the experi ence, wounded her pride and self-esteem. Her whole nature rebelled against them, and for once her contempt for her husband was neither indefinite nor un expressed. When she came to the slip panels and found that no onehad moved them since the morning, she laughed bitterly ; but even that poor solace was denied her, when presently she hurried up the hill, weariness, annoyance, almost exaspera tion visible in her usually immoveable face. " Jessie," she called sharply, " who has been digging down by the melon patch ? There are all my young toinato plants pulled up, and it really is too bad." Then emerged from an inner room Mr. Burton, looking very guilty. He was somewhat draggled after his long day in the garden, and presented such an unusual spectacle that his wife stood still in surprise and stared at him. "I'm afraid-er-that must-er-be my fault-really," he said! " The place seemed very dry and-er-weedy, so I thought it wanted-er--digging. I had -er-no idea there were any plants there -er-really. I-er-am afraid-I er-s-must have made a mistake." " Yes," said Mrs. Burton, and she smiled faintly. Then the humor of the situation overcame her, and she hurried into her room lest she should laugh. Although, no doubt, her love for this man had at first been governed by the attraction of opposites, there were times when the weakness of his nature irritated Katherine Burton to an:almost unbear able extent. He was too weak to be great, too weak to be vicious, and weak in his love as in his hate. He was too weak even to be ordinarily affected by her great strength, To-day, however, this very weakness had given her a victory over him, and, womanlike, she thirsted for more. At least, he had been weakly and vaguely disturbed by her action of the morning, and she wanted to press her advantage. And so when she dressed that after noon it was not 'in the uncompromisingly severe style which her poverty and atti tude of mind had of late compelled her to adopt. From the bottom fof` a think she brought forth a dainty coffee coat of soft silk and lace, which she had not worn for many years. The wide, loose sleeves of six or seven seasons ago were yet al most stylish in the revived fashion of the time ; but in any case Katherine felt sure that the ordinary masculihe eye would find them becoming. ; Therefore she smiled to herself in amused anticipation as she'finished dressing, and came out of her room. She found her husband on the veran dah, but he. was talkingto 'Jessie, and did not notice her all 'at once. " 1 want you to show me how to plant these things, Jessie," she heard him say. "They are not very withered, and per haps we could save-them after all," and he -held out a handful of the young tomato plants. Mrs. Burton stepped'on to the veran dad. " I'll help you with them, Robert,".she said, casually. "Jessie is getting me some tea, I know." And so he turned and saw her. Being a man, or at least the semblance of one, it was natural that Robert Bur ton should admire his wife more at this moment, when 'she appeared in her pretty negligee and calmly offered to watch him work, than through all the years 'when she. had worked for him and neglected her personal appearance. For the ordinary male loves woman for her outer attributes of grace and beauty, and cares little for such trumpery appenda ges as mind and brain. Indeed, he rather resents the intrusion of those appendages, particularly when they threaten to overthrow his own mental superiority. , This afternoon Mr. Burton came to the conclusion that his wife was really a very handsome woman. He had rather doubted the fact lately, and the doubt had annoyed him because it was a re flection upon his choice. She had cer tainly been a handsome woman when he married her-he remembered thinking what a particularly handsome couple they were. And hlie felt that it was'her duty to remain so, and that dtherwise she was defrauding him. It had always been a sore point with him that Katherine hadl so soon adapted herself to the -requirements- of their present life and the plebian labour it in volved. He felt that it was distinctly ill-bred and indelicate of her, and surely hlie was a judge. . . For although Rubert"Burton lhad be gun school life witli a somewhat incom plete alphabetical outfit,a few years had soon altered all that. Modern schools have learned to be equal to any emer gency, and the fashionable college to which he was sent was quite willing for a consideration to distribute h's and other accessories of polite society to .those who did not number them among their family possessions, But.no amount of training could have supplied Robert Burton with perception, and therefore when he came forth into the world and found himself so much more fully equip pod (still alphabetically speaking) than the other members of his family, he came to the conclusioni that he must be the most polished and well-bred and deli cately sensitive person upon this side of the globe or the other. For this reason .he felt it was very kind of him to have married Katherine, acid that a little more gratitude on her part would be becoming. And yet, whilst mentally patronising her, he was dominated by her to such an extent that he had never had the strength of mind to remonstrate with her upon any subject, nor to prove his own great superiority over her. Thus to-day, instead of remonstrating with her for her action of. the morning, as he had intended, he accompanie' her quite humbly to the melon patch, and while she towered above him, replanted the tomato roots at her direction. Once he was even apologetic over his want of skill. " I'm-er-afraid I'm very stupid at this-er-kind of thing," he said. " I don't see how you ran know so much about it." "At least you don't plant them upside down," said Katherine, in cheerful ac quiescence. " And as for me, well, life happens to be a necessary evil, doesn't it ?" Whereat he glanced at her vaguely, and wondered what she meant. That evening at dinner Jessie laugh ingly told her mother of his efforts during the day. " Father pottered about the garden all day long, mother," she said. " Isn't he absurd ?" But before Mrs. Burton could answer Helen interrupted. She had been regard ing her mothdr and father alternately for some time, and at last she spoke, in a quaint, abrupt little way. " Father, why didn't you go to market this morning ?" she asked. Mr. Burton looked taken aback. " Eh-that is-really, I had no idea your mother was thinking of going, 'Helen," he said. " I know," returned Helen promptly. " and that is why I wondered: Father, why didn't you get up and go and sur prise mother ?" " Well, I-er-I can't say that it-it -ever occurred to me." " And now that it has, father, will you go next time ?" continued the young inquisitor. And her victim answered, " Yes, yes; that is-er-perhaps so-no doubt." And looked at his wife for contradiction which never came. In spite'of her returned cheerfulness Mrs. Burton was still anxious as to how she should tide over the loss of the money. She spent the evening wander ing restlessly up and down the verandah planning ways and means, and here Dick found her when he returned from the Antimacassar House. It was the first time he had seen her alone, for two da s,.. and as there was still tle matter of Walter Hunt's letter to discuss, he asked if he might walk with her. " I had a note from an old college chum the other day, Mrs. Burton," he' said, " and 1 wanuted to tell you about it. He is at the University, and is anxious to come up to the hills for each week-end during the next month or two. Do you think you would have room for him here ? He seems very.eager for my society, but you are not to put yourself out if you would rather not have him, because, though he is a nice-fellow, I can exist without him. I'll give you his letter, and perhaps you'll think it over, and 'then I can let him know your verdict. As far as personal attributes go, I. think you would like him well enough. "He is a pleasant, lively kind of chap, and not likely to be much trouble in the house." He handed her the letter and she took it absently. "I am sure we can depend upon your recommendationi, Mr. Anderson," she said. " Thank you, I will look at the letter when I go in." Slie walked on in silence for some moments. "'I won't deny that nsuclh an arrange ment would be particularly convenient just now. I am sure you will under stand that," she said. " So if you'think your friend is likely to be satisfied with the lodgings, we might decide tlhi matter at once." Dick smiled. "There .is no doubt about that"' he said. " Hunt has lived in city lodgings for the last sixyears, and you know what they are. His people have a station in the south-east, arid he rarely goes home, except during the long vacation." To 'be Continued. F.P. 8. This notice was posted .np in a pleasure boat belonging to a certdin steamship,?company : " The chairs in the cabin are for the ladies. Gentlemen are requested not to make nse of them till the ladies are seated." Owner of Villa: "Tell me, John, how did that wheelbarrow get here ?" Gardener,: "I don'tknow,'sir. But there's been a messenger from your club to say that you left your bicycle there last night." " If you don't want to go into a per manent decline," announced the phvsi cian, after making a careful examinatini," "you will have to tear yourself away from your business entirely." " That's pretty hard to do, doctor," said his patient. " I am a manufacturer of porous plasters."