|Newspaper Title||Western Mail (Perth, WA : 1885 - 1954)|
|Trove Title||Under the Southern Cross|
UNDER THE SOUTHERN
N. V. PHILPOTT.
When Lorne opened her eyes the follow ing morning the first thing she saw wai Rosamond sitting np in bed, anxiouslj aoannine her' face in a hand mirror When she saw Lorne's amused smile eb< flashed a little, though she laughed merrily, too, and said :
" At my time of life one cannot afford " to trifle with the complexion !"
" Tour time of life ! Why, RoBzie, yon look a great deal younger than I do !"
" Not quite j but I am not complaining.'1 Rosamond said brightly. " I think I haw kept my bloom wonderfully well for an Australian-he said so, too."
" He said so !" Lorne saw that her sister was still thinking about the stranger, She wished for a little enconragement to teil of all the wonderful things that had happeued to herself, but Rosamond was quite self absorbed and did not give her a chance to speak.
Miss Prescott tamed the clothes hack and put one foot on the floor. '
" Oh, dear, I am tired and stiff ye\ i from the shaking of that coach yesterday ! f After all, if my face doesn't peel, I am
glad I had the bax seat. I should be feeling ten times worse had I gone inside."
" Why not rest for a little while this morning P" «aid Lorne. "There is no particular reason why you should get np."
Rosamond pnt her other foot on the floor and stood upright.
"Do yon think I could lia ia bed when there is so much to bs doner1 I must paper that room to day-£ wish I had done it long ago."
"Ob, but, now fortunate! Maggie papered the room five days ago !"
" Maggie did P Did you ask her to P" " No indeed," Lorne answered. " It was her own idea entirely. She has done it so
" Well I must say Maggie is a perfect gem!" exclaimed Miss Prescott. " We never before had a girl who would go out of her way to do a thins; like t'aat."
"She is a dear old thing," said Lorne, warmly. " I hope you will say something nice to ber by and bye; her-whole aim has been to please you and to have things in order 'agin Miss Rosamond came
" NiceP you may be sure I will ! I have got something for her in that portmanteau too ; I am so glad I bought it !"
"Did father ever thaw or seem kinder to you all the time I was away ?" she asked presently.
" Never," Lorne answered briefly.
"I wish he had !" and Rosamond sighed. Lorne touched her hand gratefully, she had it in her heart and on her lips to say :
" Never mind-I want to tell you some- thing, Rrozzie. I have found someone else who loves me best of all the world--" when Rosamond spoke again :
" It will seem so odd to Mr. Hurliagton to see you treated so !"
Lorne closed her lips and made no reply
Later on she had a strong desire to share her secret with Rosamond, but Maggie was standing by and she could not apeas:. It was when the elder sister .. asked :
"Do yon still hannt those gloomly scrubs, Lorue P"
Maggie answered for her :
" Every blessed day since you left, Miss, she's thramped to them woods an' 8thrames; and every mornin' whin she wist I used to woodner would I ever clap eyes on her agin !"
The two sisters laughed at Maggie's round brogue, and Rosamond said :
" It is a queer craze, but you need not have been afraid, Maggie, she has always done it !" Then she said to Lorne :
"Have yon noticed any cape goose- berries lately P"
" Yes ; in the forty-acre clearing there are hundreds of bushes."
"Then, my dear, I want you to take a basket to-day and gather a lot, if yon do
" You know I like doini; it ! Do you want to make jam P"
" Yes, aod jelly. And to-morrow yon might gather some more that will keep until Mr. Hurlington comes."
" Has he ever seen them P"
" 1 don't know. I don't think it likely. I overheard him say to another man that Australian girls are said to be good look- ing, very fond of tennis and dancing, but totally unable to cook. I want to show bim that he has been misinformed."
"I wonder yon take the trouble, Rozzie," Lorne said, a tittle surprised. u Men who. think so much about cooking
[The rights of publishing "Under the j Southam Croas ";have hean parohat'od by the
aud eating must be heavy and uninterest- ing, I think."
" Not at all, Lorne 1 He is simply studying Australian life and manners. He has been prejudiced against us by some stupid man who knows nothing, about OB, and it is only a piece of pardon, able patriotism that makes me wish to eradicate the false impression. For you know, Loroie, I can cook, and like it !"
"Then I will go," said Lorne. "I want to gather some gooseberries before the daj gets too hot, and the rest later in the evening."
Her lover met her a mite nearer than the usual trysting place.
" My darling, I have been so anxious !" said he, taking the basket she hold in her hand. " Has Rosamond come home P"
" And what does she say to it all P"
" Basil, I cannot understand it !" Lorne answered hesitatingly. "1 thought it would be impossible ia keep it back, but something seems to have risen-between us ! I tried ever so often to tell her, but I could not find words !"
" Thank Heaven for that !"
"Then you did not want me to tell
"No, dear, I did not," Basil said gently. " We ure all io all to eacii other, we two, and ear love is a sacred thing. I do not like, to share our secret with a single soul !"
" But we must tell .them sometime P"
" Tes, they must know sometime/' he repeated, thoughtfully, "but for the ' present-Oh, my beloved !-if you love me a thousandth part as well ss I love you, you would be satisfied with our present bliss, without seeking a sister's congratulations or sympathy !"
" It isn't that !" there was a suggestion of tears in her voice. " Oh, Basil, I know I am dear to you, but I do not think you, : who have had friends all you life, can conceive what your love has been to
Ho held her close against his beating
" Ah, my own, « you knew ! You have . been bathed in dreams «Il your life, and 'what idea can you form of the depths of a man's love f If I thought you were going to play mo false, or fail me, I would take you in my arms and drown you and my- self in the deepest pool of that bug reach of water where we first met !"
"I should-like that," said she softly, with kindling eyes. ¡ " Death ia any shape, with you, Basil would be a million times better than life without you !"
" Is that true, my dearest ? Then yea may read Mebalah now, Lorne, I will bring it for you to-morrow."
"Are you entirely pleased with me, BasilP" she asked wistfully. "If you like I will not tell 'Rosamond anything about you until you give me leave.
Even if Lorne wished to tell her love story, she would not have found a favour- able opportunity.
Rosamond had a preserve makingcraze on jost then, and would send her collect- ing tamarinds, wild limes, or cherries everyday. -
"Mr. Burlington could' scarcely be- lieve me when I told , him the way to- matoes grow wild amongst the corn,"
said she. " I must let him. see them for himself some day."
She was in a fever of excitement when the eventful Thursday dawned, that would, ere its close, establish her new friend under her roof.
" Now Lorne, darling," said ehe, as she stood, a tall, fair maiden, iu her'trim habit, " don't Iel Maggie box things, whatever you do! Gooseberry jelly with the blanc mange, yon know, and cream with the 'pie ! What are you laughing at P"
" I was only thinking that you could not express more concern if it was the bishop himself, instead of his son, who was coming!"
" I don't say I could not, but I am quite sure t should not!" laughed Rosamond. " Here's Billy Bluff at last. Uood-bye, Lorne, we shall be back by a quarter to eight, for certain." In a few minutes she was cantering away, followed by her black henchman.
But when she reached Oamoolio, timing her arrival so that she should not be there a minute before Cobb's coach, she was dismayed to learn that Mr. Hurling ton deemed it necessary to engage a room, and change his mud snlashed travelling suit for breeches anet boots, before he joined her.
When at last he did issue forth, his innocent face lit up with pleasure QB see- ing Rosamond.
" It was so kind of you to come to meet me!" said he. "I have been hoping against hope, and very eager to see you once more., But when the driver, told me you were hete I really hadn't the courage tocóme near you until I had removed some of the mud stains !"
" We are not quite so fastidious as you seem to think," laughed Rosamond. " You should have aeon the pickle I waa when I got here last week J"
Mn Hurlmgton vas a man I cannot describe Without making, use of the word " long ?' a great number of ^mes. He waa 'tall and toto, with a long oleau shared
? . . .?? ' v -, V
face, pink and white like a girl's ; fran grey eyes, free from guile ; a loug uos< long teeth, long brown hands and lon,
" But yon could not have been such pickle as I was, for I esme on the box,
" So did I," Rosamond answered, de murely.
"Did you reallyP That was ver courageous of you! ßy-the-bye I hav something to say to the driver if he is t
" He is over there behind the coach, said Rosamond, then she lifted her clea
j young voice and called : " Mr. Langdon !
He came forward at once-a tall, sta! I ward fellow, with a good looking, tanuu ! face, and great, laughing, dark eyes.
" Mr. Burlington wants to see you, I said she, smiling brightly when he raise
TheyouogEoglishman was disgusted t see that he did it as a gentleman mighi instead of touching it like a menial ; bu since Miss Prescott did not seem to mind it was not for him to frown the drive down.
"I was very much interested in th account you gave me of those li ttl weens," said he. " I shall be glad to hea from you at any time you notice an; vagaries of those interesting little cres turee. I am collecting material for i book, and will certainly make nse of wha you told me; I will pay you liberally fo any trouble you may take in the f utnre.'
"I am much honoured indeed," san Langdon. " And I hope you wont men tion payment again, I am more than repaie when I see yon so interested in them."
And so he was ; though Charlie Hur lington did not know that he took his pay ment out in inward laughter.
" Really P By Jove, you mast be « regular enthusiast ! I shall see you agait before long."
" I hope so," said Langdon,respeotfuUy " It is quito a treat to drive a gentleman who doesn't despise each jolly little things."
Then, with just the ghost of a smile it his eyes as he shot a glance at Rosamond, he raised his hat again, and turned towards the stable where his horses wert being groomed after their twenty milt
Rosamond went crimson with vexation, and a strong inclination to laugh. Thal look told her that Langdon, at least, had enjoyed the drive.
"Tell me the story of the weens," said she when they started for home.
" It was a most peculiar thing-he is a most interesting fellow, that driver, 1 must cultivate him," said Mr. Hurlingron.
"Yes; but the weens ? What did they
" Why it seems there was a broken down coach in one of the yards where they change herses ; and one day just as a heavy storm was coming on, this driver saw wha*. he. thought^ was a big bird flying into it. On closer inspection he found that there were several weens-* five at the least-bearing a nest of young ones between them, which they desposited in the coach, fie imagined tl at tue nest had become exposed in some way, and the parents elicited the assistance y>f their friends to house the young securely from the storm. It was very wonderful !"
" "Very !" He could not see that the girl was choking with laughter.
" Bul that iras not all!" he exclaimed, warming to the subject. " That happened to be the year after the flight of batter flies across the country, when caterpillars were sadly numerous, aa the farmers found. Well, these marvellous little : weens gathered hundreds of them and
| stored them in an old bottle against the ; time when food might prove scarce^'
Rosamond could not restrain her merri j mont any longer.
j "Ob,really, it is too bad!" said she, ! laughing outright, " he is quite incorrig-
! " But 1 don't understand ! Who :is in-
" That driver ! He has only one aim in life, and that is to hoax the passengers !" j "You do not mean to say he was
I inventing P"
t/" Of course he was!" laughed Rosa- mond. " Oh, you need not mind it. Yo« did not know the man and could not be expected to be looking out for his jokes ; but I did. Yet I allowed myself to be most shamefully taken taken in last
" He was guilty of a most unpardon- able piece of presumption!" said Mr. Hartington, indignantly.
"Oh, don't say that," Miss Prescott answered, good humouredly. " There is nothing that man would not dare, and he is so clever that we have got to laugh with him instead of being offended. I assure yon I am intensely amused at the way he hoaxed me !"
"I wish yon would tell me all about it. It may act as balm of Gilead to my wounded feelings."
" Well, you know, the worst thing( about it was that I had hean reproving him for the way he had half frightened a poor young bride to death. /Pelling ker we should hare te camp out on the way, and
how bad the dingoes were ! I was sorry \ for the poor little thing, and told him it I was a shame, he said : ' Well, you know, we always try to have a bit of fun with new chums; but I suppose it would not be so easy to take you inp' I agreed with him that it would not be ; and yet before we had gone another mile he had made me believe a wonderful story about a mad blackfellow who had been captured here in tho mountains while I was away. He said tho maniac had long- red hair, and when the police attempted to cut it off, as soon as the scissors touched it, ho trembled convul- sively, and died ! Then he said, so feel- ingly: * It's an awful thing to think of a poor heathen who does not know what it is to live, or what it means to die, going off like that P I was nearly weeping, and never dreamed of the truth until 1 asked Lorne about the tragedy next day."
" It is very good natured of you to take it as you do. I don't think I mind being hoaxed so much as I regret the loss my book has sustained in being cheated out of an interesting anecdote."
"Here we 8re, at home," said Rosa- mond, as a sudden sweep iu the road round a grove of orange trees revealed the house. She slipped unaided from her saddle, where the lamplight from the open door shone full upon her fair face and yellow hair.
Then she gave him both bands and said in accents sweet and friendly.
" Welcome to my home 3
If his heart was not already won, the actions, the Iqok and the words, bound
him to her for evermore.
" And here is Lorne," said Rosamond as tbe girl came ont from the vine covered" verandah. She introduced those two and said to her companion, gaily :
"I am almost starved ! are not yon ?"
" Well really, I never thought of it be- fore, but I believe I am a little peckish !"
" Greedy animal !" thongs Lorne as she rather unjustly compared bim with
John Prescott, though he had not liked the idea of boosing a stranger, had not forgotten the ordinary courtesy that a gentleman owes his quest. He made Charlie welcome and talked sensibly, almost brilliantly during that first dinner, quite surprising his daughters by the amount or learning he had always hidden under the iron ernst of his reserve.
Lorne thought with a strange pang, "How dearly I could love him if he would let me !" And Rosamond remem- bered with dismay that though he had spoken to tier freely for years, it had only about crops and stock and minor matters.
Her father, as he appeared now, in the* society of a gentleman, was a stranger to ber, and a rather terrible étranger too. In her heart she blamed him for having con- cealed this polished side of his nature. " It would have been such a help to ns," she thought. "Instead of letting us grow up like brumbies ! It is a great wonder we have the faintest idea of what is right and fitting ; but perhaps we have, not, we may be quite wrong in everything
we think and do !"
CHAPTER X. j Charlie Hurlington's advent to Marara Farm did not make any difference in the way Lorne spent her time. She liked him in a quiet way, and was often greatly amused by his queer fade and
Once at table he addressed some remark
to her that made her laugjj merrily-as she bad newly learned to laugh.
Rosamond looked at her in slight sur- prise, and noticed for the 'first time that the look of haunting sadness had left lier' sister's soft brown eyes.
" Dear Lorne !" she thought with pro- tecting fondness, " what a difference the excitement of one gnest has made in her ! Oh, if we could go out iu the world, and meet people-"
Bat if Rosamond was surprised to note the change in Lorne, Mr. Prescott was amazed; he had never in all his life heard Lorne laugh before, and he stared
at her almost in horror.
That laugh-how well he remembered it ! And the face ! Oh, God, how like how like ! Had; the worse than dead como I back out of the dead years to sit at hts board and madden him with the anguish of remembrance P He did not need any \ reminder of the face and the voice that had gone out ef his life for ever. Day and night they were always with Mm dazzling his aching eyes and ringing in
his ear. I
He rose abruptly and pushed hm jmair i away. v
"Toa must excuse me, Rosamond, I am particularly busy this morning." To his j guest he said: :
" One's time is sot one's own in a farm ; ' I have grown so used to hard werk that I am never happy away from my fields. j
" Toa have inherited your love of open j air from your father," said Charlie, to Lorne, as the tall square form of Mr. ! Prescott strode heavily down tho winding ¡ path.
"I don't know how to account .for lt otherwise!" asid Rosamond, answering at
once. " It ia almost uncanny the way sbe^
pokes about in the scrub, eating berries Îoung pick-a-bean heart, and every other
ind of wild food."
" They are very good," said Lorne, emiline:. "I will fetch some borne for Mr. Hurlington to sample this evening, if he likes."
She was not afraid that he would offer to accompany her; it was an understood thing that Rosamond shonld pilot him about and present to him the curios of a Queensland bush, but their wanderings never extended so far as tho younger girl's. Once she had accompanied them, but when she found that he spent all his time in turning over logs, looking for «nails and slugs, she left them! He always carried a number of tin match hoses which he filled with various speci- mens. There was a long row of inverted broken bottles at Marara, under which hundreds of caterpillars, in different stages of torpor, were evolviug into moths.
Rosamond did not enter very heartily into these pursuits, but she was a capable girl, and could readily pretend an interest she did not feel. She was sensible, too, and would not dream of running her head against a harmless foible like Charlie Burlington's. She knew it was not good for a man to live alene, and she knew that though she was twenty-five she was eminently suitable to be a good wife to a worthy fellow. Her disposition was sunny and sensible. She had never experienced a day's illness and was totally free from " moods." She was fair to look upon and a thorough housekeeper ; there- fore she determined to marry Charlie Hartington when in due time he would
ask for her hand.
(To be continued.)