Chapter 33105134

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Chapter NumberVI
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article33105134
Full Date1894-02-03
Page Number43
Corrections0
Word Count1340
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleWestern Mail (Perth, WA : 1885 - 1954)
Trove TitleUnder the Southern Cross
article text

CHAPTER VI.

, The next morning Lorne was very mush later, for ehe had to help Maggie, «rho was their only female servant, in a numbor of things. --. -

" An' sore yon're not going la-menting agin to-day, Miss Lorne P" exclaimed Maggie, when Lorne asked again for

luncheon.

" I am not going lamenting, certainly." laughed Lorne, but " I ara going."

' "It'must be for some of them black craythers you do be takin' so much ia your basket." .

Lome's face went a vivid scarlet. She was at all times transparently truthful, bnt she found it impossible tobe perfectly open just now, she answered :

" I met Kitty yesterday and gave her some ; be snre you pat np plenty, Meggie !" Then with a heart that seemed to sing a poem of praise she stepped out into the mellow morning air.. .

Baeil, who seemed, to have been waiting for ages, went to meet her with a passion ate joy in his face.

"Lorne, how late you are!" said he taking he, taking her hands and almost crushing them within his own. "How had you the heart to waste this glorious morning, and torture me P"

" I came as soon as I could," said she,

simply. "I had to help Maggie for a long time ; but I was so impatient td get away!"

"If you had been ten minutes later I should have gone to look for you ! It seems an eternity since I came here !"

"lam glad you waited,'though,'' and; she smiled skittle shyly. " I want, to tell you something that I have just found out;! I am bot at all surprised that you did not mention my name to Mrs. Regan. I tried to tell Maggie about you to-day, sud could not; I had ¡to let her think the lunch was fer ' black craythers ! ' "

"That's right!" he answered, well

?leased. "Dur affairs are oar own, sud;

don't see why we should take strangers j

into our confidence. Mrs. Regan cannot j make me ont; she knows I came here for ! shooting, and she wonders greatly why I leave my gun -at home. I think I'll take back a bundle of plants and roots this evening, and let her believe I am collect- ing botanical specimens. If I could get some wild fruit they ' would be ' better stilll"

" I know where there are plenty," sait Lorne. " If you are not afraid of " law- yers* or snakes, I will shew yon.*' V

He answered, " Let ns go at onoe."

Pe knew he was rashing to his fate

for weal or for woe he .would nave to speak soon *, he could. not control this ' over-mM^riDg paasion, Tho wordj : .

" I must tell ber before we part. I must tell ber, or die '."

urged bim on. He took ber band and together they faced the solemn grandeur of the scrub.

For a while Lorne chatted on, delighted at having someone to instruct in the things she loved.

"These berries like strings of beads are midgens," she said. " And that blue cluster is wild ginger. These are the fruit of the black myrtle," gathering a bunch of oblong yellow fruit. " They aró very nice," offering the nicest for him to taste. "You must not oat the seed or skin, you know."

" But they are all seed and skin !"

" Not quite all ; there is a little sweet staff between ! But I'll shew you some thing nicer soon. There is a nut tree not far away, and we'll turn off when we get to that and find the creek; there are lovely cherries an the upper falls'!"

He clasped her hand tighter and did not speak.

'" I must tait her before wa pars. I must tell her or die."

His beating heart aept time to the refrain.

In a little while, watching her, he saw her cheek grow pale, and her bosom heave with, a startled breath ; he felt the nerves in her fingers tremble, he only held theui tighter and did not speak.

Presently she gathered a little hunch of vivid berries that grew on a climbing vine, and offered them to him a little nervously:

" These are called parrot berries. Do you like them P"

As she gave them her fingers lightly brushed his lips.

Like lightning a tremor shot through all her body ; she lifted her startled in- quiring eyes to his face, as if she would

ask :

" What doss it mean P"

In an instant his arms were round her, his heart was beating against her heart, and his lips were laid on hers.

" Lorne, my own i Lorne, my treasure, j my love, have I taught yon to feel at

lastP"

She lay motionless and very pale, almost swooning at each pulsation of that strong heart pressing against her own,

and the tumultuous throbbing of her: awakening seul. " *'

"Look at me, darling» I have loved; you from the first moment I looked into ; yonr eyes ; let me see them again, my ! dear one, and read yonr answer there !"

" Love !" she repeated, in wonder. " Is that what this strange happiness means P Has love come to me P"

.'To yon, my best beloved, at last] There is nobody like you in all the world, ray Lorne! I worship von for a saint, I love you for a woman ! I would sooner loss my own soul than lose you now !"

' They were a woman's eyes that she lifted to his ¡ brave and true, and alight with the love that never dies.

" Ton shall not lose me. I love yon more, I think, than you can possibly love, me, but my tongue is unschooled, and I do not know what to say !"

Tot he seemed satisfied ! Ah, tho old old story is easily learnt when the students

are a man and a maid !

Basil Armitage had not reached the age of thirty-four without living through love episodes with other women, but thoBe mild emotions only served as a foil to show him the immensity of this new form of passion.

Ho was wildly indignant to think of the systematic neglect she had been subjected to, and he vowed that for every loveless hour she had endured, she should enjoy the fullness of his hearty best de- votion in all the hours and days and years,

to come.

And Lorne, who* ns a child, had kissed Rosamond's shadow on the wall and crept, sobbing, to her lonely little bed ; who can conceive what this great new ' - joy meant to hor 1 . Kot for long was her tongue unschooled ; very soon she found'

the words to tell him what he had saved her - from, and . what, he had become to

her!

At first he blamed himself for en- ticing' her to meet-in these lonely places ; but when he. heard she was John Pres eott's daughter he had no further scruples. He had good reason to hate John Prescott, yet if it had not been for that man's treachery long ago, the world would be a world without Lorne !

The thought was too terrible for him to contemplate, now that he had learnt to love her and to dream dreams of what life had in store for them together.

How dear she was to him, this em- bodiment of spotless innocence t He had been getting into careless ways sf late,' but with Lorne's help he wonld he a' different being. And now curiously fit-; ting it was that to him, of all men, should be allotted the joy of leading this lonely child into pleasant places, and crowning ; her empty life with the blessings of lore !