Chapter 31185175

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Chapter NumberXI
Chapter TitleTHE STORM.
Chapter Url
Full Date1907-12-10
Page Number6
Word Count2013
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Age
Trove TitleFate and Patricia
article text ' He looked at her as a lover can, . She looked at him, as one whoawakes, The past was asleep and her life began. * i" . -.Browning. OVFMBER, that forernnner of, the '-Australian summer, had <brouight its usual burde of: hot days to the hills.: Spring flowere drooped and died before it, and in their place white box and-ti-tree showed cool blossoms in. the scrub. "Everywhere creeks.were drying, and their shallow waters mirrored a deep blue: sky and trees that stood up stark against it. Below the plains stretched, brown and bare, like fields from which the harvest had,;been taken ;. and somie times-at night~the dwellers on the plains could see a redeglare like a beaconin th'e hillsLand knew that.there, too, the sum mgr's devastation was commencing. ".For nearly a week now, day.after day, the heat lie d lasted. News of bush fires came from every side,, and in town the thermometer had .already ,;reached, and passed 100 deg. But ipon that Moiday before Walter Hunt's examination a change seemed imminent. All morning there had been a hint of thlrndei' in the air, and the sun struggled behind heavy banks .of -cloud. Thb. atmosphere was steamy and breathless; and the heat v;as more intense than it had been throungh all thestinny days. 'Patricia, . when-by. ..afternoon. thbe change had not fallen. found the rest lessness that possessed her quite un b1ri blee :ain1 set bff reoIlntely into tlihe scrnfiL ; '" The storm will scarcely fall before night now," she reflected, and went on and on, unconscious of.distanceor. fati gue, so deeply in sympathy was she with the outraged Nature all about her. She came after a-while to a gully that she knew, and was surprised to find that she was already. several miles from the Antimacassar House. Previously she had always come 4to this gully by the road, so that the serub she had. just passed through was uinknown country to lier, and slie determined'to return bylthe old way rather than run the risk of losing herself. But she was very weary, after her long walk, and before returning she flunig':J ietrsi dpwn in the shade to rest-whlere peiftly she fell asleep, andrdid ,not wakuvla orfan hour or more. Meanwhile, the terrible oppression never lifted. The sky was heavily over cast, yet no wind blew ; flowers drooped in scrub and garden, sheaonaks waved their tremulous -leaves;- and the gum trees looin l agaitist the ky and.dwaited, the only patient things in thatinanimate life. Away across the ranges a train whistled, and:its.eolo,.fell like a discon solate cry. qion the heavy iii ; cattle moaned, birds twittered and shrieked, and sought their nests in preparation for the coning storm. Then the wind rose. It tore down the road, sweeping with it dust and leaves and twigs in its mad career ; it made the tall gums bend and sway before it, and snapped their little boughs, and hurled them: yards away. The sigh of the sheaoaks rose to a wail before it; and the great trees groaned and creaked as it passed them, leaving destruction in its wake. It came to the gardens, anid lashed the flowers. and bruised them, and sent the green fruit fallingon every side, Tlhunder rumbled, lightnuig flashed across the lills in great white streaks. . Theu, its, work accomn plislhed thoe ;wind diid, and t)ie rain fell in big, uneven drops. To Patricia's gully, shut in by pro tecting hills, but little of this storm had penetrated, and it was not until the rain fell upon her. uiturned face that'the girl awakened. . She seemed.a little dazed nt first; and could not remember how she came to be there. Butin a moment the steadily.falling rain aroused her, and-she hurried up the bridle path to the road. At first she was inclined to be amused at her dilemma, and looked about her foi a- plae of shelter until the, rain should cease. Nothing-presenting itself, she stood -at--the roadside beneath the trees and waited. But the' rain con tinued its heavy downpour, and th're was no lull in the storm to allow her to proceed. She lbegan to feel tired, and her thirin dress clung'.oabunt her uincom fortably. It was, damper than she had. suspected, and pregently sheifound her selfslhivering and;growing cold all over A sudden fear seized'her that grew and grew, until it amouinited to terror. Sup posing tlhe.-rain kept on all night, and no one-passed that way, and she had to go home nih ii:allmand get. wet through.. She wotild catch cold, of course. She shivered, and knew that already the'cold was inevitable. But if she went home through the rain how much worse it was likely to be.; And then they would send for the doctor-and the' doctor would ,find,--would say -. She shivered egain.u:--Perhaps she. could laugh them out of having a doctor-she had done so. before-but might, not that be even worse ? She had neglected a~cold.once, and she knew the cost of it. She-was afraid'-oh I so desperately afraid. 1'he thunderstor hadi :cieased some time ago, butl tle rain continued heavily, and presently a little gnust 'of wind arose, sweeping the rainm befoimet it. Patricia was right in its path, and in a moment hier thin dress was soaking. Quite powerless. before the storm, and.the un usual terror that possessed-: her, . she stood, buffcted; by the wind and shrink-. ing.fearfully asfar into the shaide as pos sible. She-did not laugh in this emer gency, foi thiere were none to see her. Fortonee her emotions, unrestricted,"had fiUTltay, and she was a coward. , It happened that Walter Hint had, like Patricia, gone for a stroll that after noon, but, starting later than slhe,' he had seeiitbhedStorm- approaching, and so uas :prepsred to meet it.' Swinging gaily. along through- the rain o'i his homeward way, lh! ciame upon' Patricia crouchiig under the trees, and he stopped with a -little exclamation. Through the noise of the storni she had not heard him coming, and for an in stant he saw all the terror in her eyes. He did-not uinderstarid it, foi all extreme emotions were outtside his comprehension; so he supposed she was just frightened at the storm, as women oftei- were, and he disregarded it in his light way. But it made himt doubly glid thlat he hiad found her, because in a maInner it Was' triumph for him, and he felt his dominac tion. - - Hullo, Miss Patricia, you ont, too ?' he cried gaily. "We seemn to bie in the same boat, don't we1: And, I say, you are wet. It's lucky I met you." At his first words the girl's eyes leap?t to his in a sudden immeasurable glad u ss. Who in a monient o.terror has not felt the joy of hiu'niii t,' l~ .and human comradeship ? " -Anitd'. Patricia s relief was so great as to'be overpower ing. She seenmed to lose conimand of herself, and just stood passively while he wrapped "his overcoat about her, and drawing her arm through his, led her briskly through the steadily falling rain. But soon the exercise revived her, the numb feeling passed.away, and she felt her fuller consciousness returning. Then she laughed--her usual refuge. - Oh !" she said, " that's better. I think I was chilled and cramped with standing in the rain-so long., I scarcely knew what I was doing. But it is a great shaiiu. to take your coat, Mr. Iluint. You'll catch cold, and there is your examination to-morrow. You must take it back at once, please.". She tried to stop and draw'her .'ar from his, but he laughingly prevented Flier." ý " Oh ! I an coldjproof. honor bright,', he replied," and I "came out for'a dnclk ing to clear my brain for to-morrow, you know ; so this is just to my taste. Ie sides, think'of all the preventives I have at toy finger tips- if a cold should ab-;. its nose." So Patricia yielaed,' for once quite willingly. Presently, her -band still. within his arm, lie bent and looked into-her face. " Am :I forgiveni'for buyin'gthe pic ture ?" he asked. in a pleading tone. "I wanted it so much- Fur theMiater, Miss Patricia, and I knew you'd liever sell it if you thought I was the puir chaser; at leist I was afiaid you wouldn't. You have always been so terribly hard upon me; but I never: dreamlied it would :vex you so., Do for give me." She smiled. At the moment the af fair'of the pictuie seemed very her. " Oh ! . You ere .quite right,"- she said. "'Why should not. you haire bought it as well as anybody else ?-.I Of course I don't mind now. I-I was only surprised." -* Well,.I'm awfuily glad you're' not angry with me," confessed he, boyishly. "You don't 'know how miserable I've been." Patricia chuckled with some of ]-er' old gaiety. " You looked it,":she said faintly sar castio. " Oh ! but hang it- all,- I don't go about hanging-my misery on my sleeve," protested Walter. " Besides, it disap peared when. I saw you. 'How could it 'do otherwise, Miss Patrici 7" . She, smiled' again.. "'What a rvain flatterer," she said. , Do be.kind to me,'.sighed WOlter, who. had not discovered . that thiis form 6f -address: 'was' growing hackrteyed. " Remnember, I liave an' morrow,' and if you are not kind to me I shall be too downhearted to come out well, and then it will be your fault." "-What' a' frightful responsibility: Very well, I shall be quite adorable. Now, tell me all about this. wonderful examination. What must you do'4 Cut up Ihuman beings and examine their machinery. and perform other blood thirsty deeds ? Tell me; 'I am all curi osity." He, told her, his. boyish eyes alighi'? with the interest of his subject, and with an interest almost as- keeni Patricia listened. She did iiot care that lie talked ceaselessly of hijmself, fri half aii hour : she did not notice that the storm had brought' a premature twilight, and it was getting dark. The heavy shower had been succeeded by a fine'rain'that lay like: a mist before them ; and out of it the tall dreiclhed gums loomed ghost like in the fading light.: To Patricia the beauty' and grandeur of it all were only a part of the great happiness that pos. sessed her. She did not know what it meant nor. how it liad..come to her, but she did'know that suddenly it filled her whole being. For the first, time a joy ful consciousness was npon hei. She thought of her work' and latesuccesses, and wondered why she. -had not realised her joy at them before; she thought of her ~home, the hills,*the people round her, ahd believed she was the happiest being in the iworld. She thought of Dick, and loved' and pitied' him as she had never done before ; and shie thought of the gay youthl beside her, 'and forgot that the road tlhy were travelling together would presently bring them to the. Antimacas sar House.' ' SlTo? 'be Oontinu'ed. FP. 14. :: Maud, can't tennis without all that inoise'?" :"?Now, hiow do you suppose e are going to play tennis without ralsing a racket 7". : Higgs: ' I. niet Swiggs last night. He seemed to have hild a bad case of tbie blues." , o, - : :. Green :: ! He didi'eh ?e I Higgs: " Yes ;,two policemen were supporting him,, " : " He's::become frightfully struck on himself:since:that aper:spoke of him as .one 'in the public eye. " "Yes,l he's merely a mote there, buta regular beam in -his own eyes." :Joax :'" like a tramcar. Hoax- "How so"' Joax : Some .people are just as anxious to get bout -as others are to get in." The girl who keeps her birthday, When a merry little elf, Keeps it still when she grows up She keeps it to herself