Chapter 33150422

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Chapter NumberPART I. I.-Continued.
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article33150422
Full Date1898-02-11
Page Number65
Corrections0
Word Count4709
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Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleWestern Mail (Perth, WA : 1885 - 1954)
Trove TitleThe Wealth of the West
article text

OUR SERIAL STÖRY

THE " WEALTH'OF THE WI ST."

Br LOUIS MONTCALM.

rWHITTES FOll THE WESIERK MAJL.]

PART 1.

CHAPTER I.-Continued,

They shook hands-Bates as stolidly as if he were being introduced to some one who was very indifferent to him.

" Ton see that blind-cord on the win- dow?" said Conyers, pointing " You'll need it directly. Out it down It will do to bind the -maniac. Do :t, Bates no objections. If you ? don't, it will be

nie or you foi- it. I would probably- , you understand?" he said, with ghastly suggestiveness.

Bates nodded. !

"I see. .you are fond of big game when the fite come on," he said.

He cut down the cord, and added with a grin

. " Doesn't it feel rather like presiding at your own funeral?" ,

*. It does rather "'

Conyers rose,.and came forward with

Jais bands held together «t the wrists.-/- ¡

*' Bind me firmly. I'll need it." I "Do you make'much noise, -

_ V Nb. '

- " And how long does the-the ape ;

business last eb ? "

"It's all blank-blank-blank, when it's over. I don't know. But-but you won't leave me, Bates? You won't re- member *it when it's over? You won't hate me-eh, Bates ?" -

Bates glanced at his friend's face, and saw enough there to make him secure the knots more quickly. He shuddered for a moment and then pulled himself together again.

"Lie down here," he said, leading Conyers to the sofa. "Lie down,'' he repeated with command . He saw that he had not much time to spare. He impi'ovised bonds with a couple of handkerchiefs, and another blind-cord; secured Conyers to the sofe, and threw a rug over him.

" ' Lie there, he cried, fell pirate ' " he quoted, and then sat down to watch and wait.. -"Interesting," he remarked, "but painful. Poor old Frank. What a

fate!''

Some -minutes passed; and then what hád been man a little while before, begau to writhe under the rug

. There are - things' it is best not togo into details upon.' I will leave it un described. - . ?

.# -.#....* ,, - .* .. #.

When Bates pulled the blinds aside it was bright morning. He drew in a deep, breath, and leaned out to get as much air as he could, and - remarked simply^

" Phew ! I ' wouldn't care - to pass another night like that in a hurry !"

There was a whistle in the distance. A train was entering a station some- where. Then there occurred to Bates ©ne of those thoughts that come, how and whence no- man knows, but which come and are tine, nevertheles?. He started and said to himself, as if some- one had whispered the word in bis ear

His uncle, and Margaret's father ! Another ten minutes and he will be here. BismiUah ! what am 'T co do r"

He did not know. Individuals, as well as armies, are seized with panic Bates* brain simply refused to furnish him with a single thought.

He waited in a paralysis of fear A cab drove up to the "dodi* Some luggage was handed out, .and-caiTied into the hotel. ~ A minute later au old gentleman turned^nto the street, with that military lïearrag- that is -so touch -niore - m ilitary in a jinan who hasrôiçèn ïn.thç army than in one ?mao is in- the army! ?;

? "Shade of <£dh¿ñs-~who sbali'struggle "against fete?"' - :

Footsteps approached along the pas- sage. Bates, -was at..the.door hi an instant. It was the landlord.

"Burns, that's'Conyer's uncle's lug- gage you are taking in ; don't lei

.Min:--" .

" Sam-u-el!" called a shrill1 female voice from below ; " come here-thu

instant." ".

"Comings Martha," answered th« landlord, with a jiromptness that sug gested years of married life.

"Burns, you idiot-stop-Bums, ] say."

" I'll see you in a minute ; that's tb< old woman' calling now. Coming Marjbha, my dear, -coining." 7? «fr sn-:

Bates went half-way dorçn -the. stain in pursuit and then paused. Jfle was ii tiuië to see the mibtary figurV'fiU th< doorway and to hear a ' "voici? -^wliosi owner he cursed) say-'-' Jiotes'.

- "Mr: Conyers?-yes, sil^-^nnmber- 24 ßir." - . . . : - . -

The- servility of- tíie'ordinary menia to the m.ib^y.had never, seemed so re j^ulsive in Bates'ears Jjpfore,

"My tip would only have been half a big, but you've lost it," he said, andusei an expression thatä"will^)ttranslate fe

a mixed audience. *?

Disaster followed faste«»»»05"'

"A-ah, Bates, my lad.* JWheré'

Frank.?'^ X ' f 1ÍÍj|l>

" Nów^atesTíor^jme mosringenion lie you ever toldinalue where prevari cation has been Hit IfimW^mavoidable, thought Batest J***?1,1 *3 & S3YA .3 X J

" Colonel, I àlih^lad tb j^^iii/'iell ing the lie at the start, frat? mcküig,th

ingenuiiy.

. " Yotr young dog-^yOuVé been dis6¡ pating. Eyes like , bnrnjb' boles " in blanket. Show me ÍPfiiíik's room."

("Ye gods-kind. gods. for. a little in spiration in this raine bour of bitter need.") " Colonel, you're early. What brought you down ? You must be a bit fagged-wont you have something in the way of refreshment, after your journey ? Do, to-to please me. Er

Burns-"

" Don't bother Burns just now, Bates. Show me Frank's room ; I have some-

thing to tell him that admits of no delay."

"He's-hes asleep. Be persuaded, Colonel, and have some refreshment."

" Bates, I've caned you many a time in your old mother's day, as you remem- ber; and I shall hit you again if you seek to delay me. I'm Captain Absolute. Frank's room, sir, on the instant."

"'Lest with a whip of scorpions you pursue my lingering,' eh? A drop of eau de vie, now."

" No quotations at this hour of the morning. There's the stairs. Number 24. March."

Bates hesitated.

"Bates, is the lad the worse for liquor? Have you been leading him

into mischief ?" ?

"As a matter of fact I have. The whole thing was entirely my fault." A

"Upon my word, Bates, you try my friendship-you. do, indeed. I never thought good would -come of your-in- timacy with Fl ank. -I was a fool «ot to put my foot down at .the. beginning. What do you mean by-it ?"

" Lord knows, Colonel. I can't tell

you. I am as sorry as I can hold, but

don't blasse Frank. Hs wasn't .to blame."

"Don't talk .to me of not being to blame. Show me his room'. Am I a stranger to lie kept at a distance? "

" -He's worse ¿ban asleep-he's ill."

" That will do: I will find 24 myself". " Che sara sara.- (This way, Colonel). L'escalier viert d'etre-Colonel, you've taken some wet paint off on your elbow. Lets have a talk in French, and growl at my accent as you used to do ; ifs a way you have in the army

The Colonel pushed on till he slot pad at 24. ' He paused to make one remark.

"You miserable idiot," he said,' and opened» the door.

Conyers had fallen from-the sofa, and lay in a collapsed heap on the floor. One glance was r sufficient. The Colonel closed the door äs quickly as he had opened it. "He. passed "Bates with "one" glance in-silence: < - ; ' ? *? ?

Bates laughed, stupidly as he heard the Colonel give a direction to the cab-

man and drive off.' " * '

."Frank, old boy, .! did my best, and -and, well, you won't b^ive much dinV cnltyiu, breaking the business off now, 1*. reckon-'woe is me, Albaum/ I mustn't

let him know bis nude has «een bim..

Life is becoming too full of problems."

CHAPTER II.

There were very few: prettier little places than Colonel Page's little piase at Foxcross. It's ürst charm was the view, You entered the morning room, an exceedingly pretty litt'e room,^ud toe charm fell upon you. Lady's handiwork was manifest here, there, and every- where-chairs that-were a. premium on laziness ; an indefinable odour of Howers.

It was a room that- made, yon tbinki what a .really excellent thing the world is-and life is-to those who have money The suii wa6 shining in, bringing with it the shadows of foliage, fend tiie netted sunbeams danced on carpet and wall and drapery.

On this particular morning a.girl was

seated-in the darkest corner of the room

reading. Whether it- was an equivocal inbdera problem-novel is not now ascer tainable. but she was to «ll appearance extremely intei-esised ; therefore the pro-

babilities are :dl iii favour "of the novel. She was prettily dressed, and had coiled herself up m ¡ia equally pretty and picturesque .-attitude,' possibly with an 'eye to effect;-for,-mingled with the twittering of birds from among the trees, the sound of a male voice was now and then.heard..- Another piece of circum- stantial evidence »is that, mingled with the scent of the flowers, was a faint per-, fume of cigars.

Presently Margaret Page entered the rooni--tall for a woman, shoulders well back, light hair, blonde, self-reliant, and decisive-the sort of woman that bas made history, and that makes or mars mien, according to circumstances ;-" ac-

cording to' circumstances " - because ' Woman, in the abstract, is merely a quite nori-mcrál force." She does nö? alter man's chai;acter, but only intensi- ' fies it for good or ill, as she' happens to find it: A proposition'which may sound heterodox, but glance through history

and see if it is not true all the same.

' " Good morning, Phyllis. The room is so dark where you are, I did not see1 you-foi* a moment. Isn't it simply de-

licious to merely- - be. alive On such aj morning, ' What is that I can smell f

Surély-^es, cigars. ' Ah ha,. Mr. Yeend?; hatfbeeir here Ieee, «h? Tbeard k voice* sing/1 1 smélt cigars ; - deduction, Mr. . Yeend. Had 'I heard a -voice swear/and Welt cigars, I should have* deduced--^"? j "Papa."

1 ^.'-Traduced' papa, you mean, . you' irreverent girl. JSo, Phyllis. Other1 men swear; papa is only vivid. .Have Îou ever,;noticed, Phyllis, that' the

Vench .'are the only-people who make provision for-for-you .know . what I mean-expletives, you know.. In English* now, in English people can only be vulgar, when they leave the beaten track."

"lioni du pipe, .sacre bleu, and ,^o- ipn,, you mean, as opposed to our ; one little1 monosyllable, which we have to think , i and which men say Í "

" Precisely. Isn't it lovely though. Look at everything-the sky, the fields,

the cora, the stream, and one's pulses' going tlirobi throb, throb. A-horse, a horse-oh Phyllis I must ride on a morning like tliis. Oo-oo! can't you feel the" breeze go past your ears at the thought of it. What a beautiful world

isn't it f "

From where Margaret stood she could see the erect figure of Mr. Yeend pass- j iug to and fro between the trees, still smoking.

" Yes, very. Fifty men are imprisoned in a mine in Wales ; fifty thousand or so have been swallowed up by an earth- quake ; and a woman at our own doors has got nine mouths for stealing a pound of cat's .meat-all in the same morning's paper. Beau-ti-f ul world ! Miss A wore a beautifuleau-de nil; Miss B a tasteful French confection ; Miss C .-was the cynosure of neighbouring eyes in a what's its name trimmed with something else-same paper. Beautiful world Î so congruous, so nicely arranged. Oh I like it awfully. Makes one feel as if she had a life ticket kt an eternal theatre. You can stare, if you like Margaret! I'm sure I can never feel sufficiently indebted to the obliging people *who contract misfortunes to enhance the pleasure of us who look on, and who realise how pleasant it is not to be swallowed up in an earthquake or get entombed in a mine, or to have to prowl

around after cat's meat."

" Oh talk of something else-do ! Cat's meat! and a morning like this! Here comes our baritone. Good morn- ing Mr. Yeend."

Phyllis looked Over the top of her book

at the two. She was in love with Feend.

She feared that jie_ jvas..;.in, _kïrA^*wtjU~ Margnret-which #as as a matter of fact the case. ? . .

Yeend was a man of Yorkshire ex-

traction, tall, broad-shouldered, athletic, ; with a squarish face, pronounced features, \ a-spikey moustache, light eyes, and a1 general suggestion of good humour, sel-

fishness, and sensuality, clean-looking j and well groomed. The "sort of mau 1 who bullies other men, and is loved by women who like a " masterful " nature. Probably thirty or thirty-five years of age. Played billiards, played cards, rode" well, shot well,-boxed well. Had.a good deal of that education which 16 called "knowing the world," and pre- tended-to a good deal more. The sort of man. they make colonists-of. Hude to men-who were beneath bim, polite to. ladies-very-and considered the art of conversation was to make compliments with bis tongue and look them with his eves. Margaret disliked him, , and wjis therefore particularly cordial to" him; knew be loved her in his own way, and felt flattered and humiliated in conse- quence. . ,

Mr. Yeend was staying^ with the Colonel, and had been there now fire days. He bad thought out or read up a fresh compliment every morning.. He now delivered his sixth, and gave a seventh in au off-hand way to Phyllis, who made no reply, but began to swing her foot and went on reading or pre- tending to read.

" Morning, Yeend ; morning, girls."

\ The- Colonel had entered, and in a bad humour. rt He bud been, in a-.-, bad humour for several days," Margaret had remarked, aud wondered why, for it was not his " liver" week. -Probably some- thing to do with mines, she suspected, because Yeend bad - been for years in Australia, and the substance bf all his conversation-with the colonel was mines, miues, toujours - mines. His special mission to England was to accomplish the interesting work of .floating a^ injne in some place in West Australia with ran unpronounceable native name, but called in English " The Wealth of the

West,"

Yeend himself was in excellent spirits, «nd stood, the centre of the group, radiating health and good spirits (like the rest of the scenery), and prepared at a moment's notice to j>ay more compli- ments as fast as he could think of them (which was not very fast-they came better when he depended on his memory), orto talk mines with the Colonel, who was an influential mau in the Wealth of the West Syndicate,-who knew nothing whatever about the matter, and

patronised those who did. Mr. Yeend was one who did ; but he accepted the patronage, pledged himself on every occasion to do as-the Colonel suggested, and straightway, went forth and did even as he judged best-and the,Colonel

was none the-wiser. .

' IThhä. morning the Colonel, having thrown out his salutation, took to pacing up and down the terrace.

! " I'd draw your attention to the fact," be said to Yeend, " that you are stand- ing near the doorway df that room, smoking. I have not been allowed to

4iàve a whiff in that loom since it was a tfooni, if it meant the sacrifice of the ?best smoke in the box. The odour of your, cigar will drift m and get among tile curtains. If you must smoke you must îcëep well out in the open ali'.'"

, !" Let me join you, Colonel, and offer you one. Do you know "there's a sinai] fortune to be made out wèst, even in cigars. You send your green ' weeds up tof a place called Cossack; you season them there in a vulgar fraction ol the'.,uBual^peribd, yon bring them back again, and you have a superior article al the cheapest rate in the market."

'?\Humph I Syndicate P"

' "tkmld.do worse. Colonel, don't bit« the end off in that savage manner.. It if pure : sacrilege.-, .You take, your knife you' cut out a Utile triangle-so-aux

there you have your superior cigar with out the end being mangled."

- '. Go for a ride, Yeend. That beast Czar is eating his head off. The girls will go too-that is to say, Margaret can't. Margaret, I want you."

Margaret came and linked her arm in her father's. Yeend tried to think of a, compliment, failed, and made his exit, to hare Czar saddled for himself and Belman for Phyllis.

' A couple of turns up and dowu, and then the Colonel began.

"Margaret, listen. This is serious busiuess I want to talk about. Listen ing?"

" Yes, dad. Sail in."

" I beg. your pardon ?" "I mean, proceed"

"Don't talk slang, and don't be dis- respectful."

"Dearold thing. Did its cigar dis- agree with ' it. It's gone out. Let me light it with a match from the Turk's head with a spring at the nape of the

neck. There."

" If you think you can be serious for a quarter of au hour I'll go on. If not, you can go in."

" Not for worlds. I am serious."

"Margaret I am out of temper. I know I, am, and it's because I have reason. Prank is the reason, and an an-an infernally serious reason too. He's going to the dogs as fast as old whiskey and young blood can take him. And he's got to choose between you and whiskey. And Fm doubtful which it is going to be. But he shan't have both. Or I'm not Colonel Tom Page. Now you know why I'm -out of temper."

" I like the way you bracket me and whiskey together dad. It's flattering 4» ¿lie whiskey."

" You ave both, intoxicants. I know that, and the whiskey wears, best, and intoxicates longest. I know that. I went down there-he had left his rooms and was staying at the Red Lion or the Blue.Dragon,or some such idiotic.place. As a young man leaving college, with his way to make in the world, I was anxious, as your father, to see the-the natural animal, as it were, ip his den and get some idea of what sort of future he would make for my little girl."

"Dear old dad. To girls about to marry-futures made while you wait."

" Well, the upshot was I took train down and arrived, in the morning instead of the evening, when my gentleman would have been expectiug me, and took him unprepared." .

; " Which was not fair fighting."

"Which tras fair fighting. Aud I do 'beg you will adopt some other style of expressing yourself, or is it done simply io annoy me ?"

Margaret flicked a leaf off a flower as she passed, and said nonchalantly,

"Not at all!"

"I got there in ihe morning, and I found that they had been giving him to use more of your detestable slang a ' send-off.' Do you know what a send

off means:"

"1 think wine, cigars, and a little more wine, doesn't it r"

"Seems to me you know rather more than you are caliea upon to know."

" Not at all," said Margaret^ agaiçL,

"I have always ltfeed thë^ youngster. He has always been my favourite. I knew he loved you and that you loved him, to put the matter plump and plain.

And now I come back from that little

excursion of mine, and I say that unless things alter very considerably he shall never, enter niy house again, nor with my consent address a word to you again."

"Father! what has happened? You are putting it plump and plain." ..

"I don't know that I need go into detail. I saw .with my own eyes and. heard with' my own ears, and I am afraid Frank Conyers is graduating as a blackguard, to put it in English... I am.

not* an old fossil.1 I am hot narrow minded," and the Colonel puffed and strode up and"down. "I know what stuff the world is made of. 1 have been

a young man myself. .It's all very fine, I know. Boys will be boys, but her is not a boy. And what's more, if boys will be boys, then .husbands must be men. That's the long and the short of it! I don't want any exeuses-r-I won't have any excuses."

"I am not going to make any, dad."

"I tell you I saw Conyers drunk-'.' drunk as. a man could hold. He has been leading a quarrelsome life. He has made a friend or thal young rapscallion

Bates. I've known Bates since he' was

a boy, and I know no good of *hîm. A parson ! Good heavens-they are going to make a parson Of him. Of course it's all very fine and maiúy--there's a nice air of wickedness about it that you ' womèn like-born fools every one Of you; You look at it "from. the outside. You hear it referred to delicately, with a laugh and jolly leminiscences, et çetero, et ceterie. Fine, romantic-a "man_with some life in Mm. Yes, oh yes. Go home withIti'live "with it, have'it looking at you at your own hearth, and across your own table, mixed up- with your . own intimate Ufe--see how pleasant these pleasant little vices are then. See things ih their proper proportion, and you'll find Out the difference when these things are in the life of the youngster who comes to youl' house with a bandolined moustache, and some beastly scent on

bis' handkerchief, and pretty words of ] ^pretty repentance on his Ups;- and when* they are in the Ufe of your husband. Bah! you women I you women -boin fools, bom fools. Why don't you speak P"

"lt doesn't) much matter, I suppose,

what a born fool says»"

" Never miud, speak. I've liad my say ; now kare yours. Oidy talk sense. i One thing more. Yon know that he is. coming here to-day."

" Yes, I got his note."

"He-aud.you may bet anythiug you like that inevitable young rip, Bates, -will be with him. Well, out with it. What I've said is thc unvarnished truth* Are you prepared to give him up ? '

No answer.

" I don't care to speak twice where once will do. He must turn over a new leaf-"

"Before commencing a fresh Page, - eh? Laugh, dad, laugh! Why won't it laugh?"

" Margaret, hear me. I won't laugh where I see no laughing matter ; and I won't be cajoled from my point. I hare spoken. What I have said, I haye said. Either he pledges himself to reform and gives evidence of that reform, or you give him up at once, now, and for ever. There's your alternative-which is it to be? I've been as indulgent an old fool

to you as I knew how. It's about the . first command I've laid on you. Now,

then-what is it to be? I give you ; leave to say what you like."

" Yery welL then. Colonel. Page,

stand there."

.The Colonel did so. It always struck him as-so comical, good temper or bad

temper, to be ordered about by a sljp ow . a girl. Margaret faced bim, and put ber strong, little, white hand on bis shoulder. She was in deep earnest.

"Now, father, I aui( Margaret Wash- ington Page-daughter of Colonel Page of her Majesty's forces-and I am going

to say the whole truth. Don't think I

don't love you ; I do. Don't think I for- " get all you have been to me and done for me ; I don't, never will,'or can. But

I have come to the cross roads that coaie ^ in all women's lives. .1 hare ,met the man I love. I have given him my love, and may not go back. I may speak as a fool, but I speak as myself, anyway. Father, I am. going to marry him if he

asks me.- I am not afraid of life. I atn

not afraid of all the penalties it can inflict upon me. If Frank is rich and

good, sd much the better. If he is poor * and what men call bad, so long as he loves me and is true to me, I am going to stick to him, his leal comrade, if it means rag-picking or joining a strolling Ïlay-acting troup or what pot. Where

love. I Tove. I have only one short

little life to live, and lani going to live - right up to my idea of what honour means. I am not a chattel, I am a lire woman who takes her life in her hand, just the same as yon have done many

and many a time, and the consequences " he on my own head. There's my creed. 1 am going to follow it out, 6o help me heaven," with a magnificent, mettlesome flash of. the eyes. ** There. I don't care if that is slangy, or the usual thing to say, or what other women do, and I dopt care. I am Maggie Page and I am going to live life my own way. If 1 am undutiful to you in saying, that, then I must try and forgive my. children, if I have children, when they are undutiful to me in the same way. fihake bauds,

father." " .' ?' ' The" Colonel was in a kind of trance. Then he burst out..

" And you are the fluffy-haired, pap faced baby Tve nursed and smacked and kissed, only how many years ago ?-and you stand -up and pat nie on the shoulder, and take the bit in your teeth, and ask me to shake hands on your rank rebellion .-4-I'U see yon-1*11 see you-PU see you in an extremity first."

" You know you mean nothing of the sort, dad. You know that in your heart you think just as Ido. Suppose uiofchei had treated you as you want me tq treat

Fiauk!"

"?What!"

The Colonel swelled, and- turned purple; and then the comicality of the

thing struck him, and he broke into a"1 guffaw in spite of himself, though he hated himself for doing it.

" By gad. Maggie Page, judging by results, and what I am getting at this present moment, it would have been the

best thing that could have happened me .

if she had."

" Father, how dare you say that!" Poor Maggie's eyes were full of tears now. ""No, I don't mean 'how dare,* but it is unkind to say that. I have loved you and I do love you, but I can't help being as I am."

" I don't know." said the Colonel -with . a growl. "Pigheadedness runs in our family. I suppose I am really respon- sible,* if you trace things back far

enough." '---i .. *

Maggie was standing very ereet;?J>ufc _/ she was crying silently. The Colonel

was a deep reader of human nature-rha y;

knew he was. He understood women-» ?

he knew he did. He knew that tears p and fainting . were - the trenches they always fell - back ?? upon in an emergency.

So he looked to see how much of Mar- , garet's emotion was humbug and'how much real;: and in spite of his being a

reader of human character, :>oh'Ilwn*a^r.. occasion, at any rate/ he ahsbkitely failed to make a mist^e-t^íet^aág»

thing, perhaps,-for a readeivof x^aractor ii to do, but a fact aUi<thé¿iElnftesei:£fór& saw and xadei-stood thatiMáíña^mW«

teat's were genuine, and tbàtbtâi^iCiitvjiïifc fell because she wuldn'tkeep themlfcatár.'

{To be continued.) frxmw-*

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