|Newspaper Title||Western Mail (Perth, WA : 1885 - 1954)|
|Trove Title||The Wealth of the West|
OUR SERIAL STORY.
THE "WEALTH OF THE WEST."
BY LOUIS MONTCALM.
[WRITTEN FOR THE WESTERN MAIL.]
" You speak with a fine contempt, child. Where would you be if it were
not for Tommy Atkins ?"
" And the colonels, dad, eh ? I have no contempt for Tommy Atkins. I honour him as I would anyone who does his work honestly. But I say, when the work is done, don't let us rejoice over it. Let the work be done ; but in the name
of God and humanity let us regret that it has to be done."
" It's well for you women to talk. But
is it well to traduce your defenders ?"
" I am not traducing. Besides, if men
defend us. it is against other men—so logic won't help you there much, dad. And
what is more," she said, rising and com- ing towards him with a modern transla- tion of the stride of a Semiramis, and towering over him (remember he was
reclining, so it was not hard to tower),
" don't take women for dolls and play- things. You see that hand" — it was
" gunpowder makes all men equally tall. There are things I dread, but I don't
dread death ; and there's no dread I could not overcome ; and if it comes to
fighting—well, dad, if it comes to fight- ing, though I would rather use my hand to stroke your dear old head, this same hand would load and fire with the best. Oh,"— the small white teeth clicked and the eyes flashed—"I believe I should
almost like the sensation." " Good heavens !" said the amazed Colonel, looking up. "Pretty behaviour for a woman—pretty sentiments. Am I in the Gaboon country or England?
Maggie Page ! Maggie Page ! Maggie Page !"
Margaret's laugh rang out with the
old joyous, rather rebellious ring. She
fell on her knees and took the old boy 's
head in her arms and kissed him.
" It's not a bit of good, dad. I am what I am, and there's an end of it," and before he had recovered himself she was down at the piano again, and singing, with her spiritual thermometer at quite
a different temperature:
" Oh promise me that some day you and I May take our love together to some sky, Where we can be alone and faith renew, And find the hollows where those flowers grew—
Oh, promise me ; oh, promise me." " Oh, father," she said, coming down with a bang on the keys, "there, that's
—to know how to love, how to live, how to hope ; to get rid of the sickening clatter of your business and your wars and your ambition, and all the rest of
the game that you give so many fine
names to, but which only means after
all ' I, my, me, myself, and Number
One.' The man who wrote that—
Clement Scott, dad—he knows or he feels, and the sentiment of his song is true and great and eternal. There," bang on the piano again, " what do you
think of that? ' And find the hollows where those flowers grew.' What a perfect expression—it means repentance, and reminiscence, and failure, and success, and tenderness, and the com-
panionship of love and service, and the peace and sense of truth that are to
come the end of the journey, and "— with a ripple over the keys and a little
of the ineradicable English shame-
facedness at being so false as to express an emotion before witnesses—" its alto- gether lovely. And that's another bit of
Maggie Page, daughter of Colonel Tom Page; of Her Majesty's Onety-oneth
India." " Queer thing," communed the Colonel
" If another girl did that it would be impudent and vulgar and disrespectful ;
whereas, as it is"—and he flicked off the ash of his cigar—" thank God its a bit of the old Maggie Page back again any- way. What a little dragon she looked a minute ago, and what a mild milk-white
dove she is now. Lord, Lord, when will the sex ever be civilised ? Now, Tom Page, what's the best thing to do ? To-
morrow she'll be in the miserables again.
What can I do to keep her going ?"
He smoked on and she played on. Then her playing was interrupted.
" Maggie," called the Colonel, "come here."
" Yes, dad."
He lay back and watched the last cloud of smoke wreath upward before
" What do you say to a change ?" " What sort of a change?"
" What sort of a change ! Wouldn't anything be better than the purgatory
of monotony we've been going through together lately ? Pack up. Mount and make you ready—mount, and go and be a soldiers' lady." " Which means ?"
" Which means we are off, first boat— if that means the first thing to-morrow morning—for the south, the blue Medi- terranean—the Rhyne — anywhere. But let us get away from this place." " Oh dad—you mean it ? You really mean it ?" He looked at her, and his eyes said, " What I have spoken I have spoken."
" Oh, dad, you—you darling ! Pack up—won't I, just !"