|Chapter Number||BOOK I. VI.-(Continued.)|
|Newspaper Title||Liverpool Herald (NSW : 1897 - 1907)|
|Trove Title||Marian Gonisby|
---? - -?r.
[AM. RIGHTS RBSKEVKD.]
By E. DOIDGE,
Author of ' Father and Son,* « The Daughters
bf Eve,* 'Mystery of Merveillieu,' &o. '
Arriving at the Theatre Boyal, where the Boyal Italian Upera Company were singing to * boom' audiences-the Exhibition was
;now in full swing, and Melbourne was humming morning, noon and night-they found the ourtain was np, and the first soene of the pretty, but pensive, 'Lia Sonnambula* .was in progress.'
* Oh, how exquisite !' cried Lil, referring to the scenery.
'Not bad,' remarked George.
And they settled themselves in the com- fortably furnished box, whioh, as all boxes do, oommanded a near view of the stage and all upon it, save that to the immediate tight or left as the case may be.
Mr Gonisby had taken the initiative on entering the box, aa George designed that he ahonld, and oonduoted Lil into one of tne front chairs, sitting down beside her, thus leaving Marian and George tho two ohairs
For almost the first time in his life George felt a degree of discomfort in the society of Mies Gonisby ; they bad barely exchanged half-a-dozen words, and they had been seated perhaps a quarter of an hour side by
George was stealing penitent glances toward Marian ; while Marian was , holding herself on the defensive with just a touch of raffled dignity, whioh George alone knew the meaning of.
'How grand the orobeetra plays,' whispered George, inclining toward Marian, after a particularly fine burst of passionate muelo found in tho accompaniment of this opera. Ho know abo munt appreciate it.
' Yes,' waB Marian's laoonio reply. ' They but want your harp.' No reply.
'Marie, say you forgive.* (This very low).
Again she did not speak, but she looked for a moment in hit* eyeH. That was some- thing. Ho know not whether it was a look of reproaoh or one melting toward tenderness and forgiveness. Then Came a brilliant .chorus, and tho oonoerted effort drew
xaptnxouB applause from all sides . of the house ; and it seemed that two souls alone were absolutely oold and unresponsive. Even
Lilian noticed it.
' George, where is your enthusiasm for the
elassio in Italian opera ? Are you asleep- 1 and you too, Marian ?' And Lilian, looking radiant in her very beBt frook and finest ornaments, glanced at her brother and , caught something of the severe expression
on Marian's face, and for the first time a suspicion that something had oeourred
between her brother and Marian crossed her mind. She forebore to question them
Even Mr Gonisby, undemonstrative to a degree, caught up the spirit of the play, and more than once showed signs of approval, just as any plebeian might do, but which the blasé-or the affectedly blasé-patrons of private boxes do not often condescend to.
'Pity we are not masters of Italian, though,' suggested George.
* Just what I was thinking/ agreed the elder gentleman.
Still Marian observed that silent hauteur
whioh troubled George far more than his ignoranoe of Tasso's tongue.
It waB not till the beautiful, fair white robed figure of the fragile-looking heroine appeared that Marian seemed to find a note or incident in the opera that really interested
' In the darkness will she find that whioh
her soul seeks !
Poor wandering one, how like an angel
whoBe eyes are wrapt in mortal sleep.'
It was some such ohord of sympathy whioh touched Marian, when she forgot even to be ungracious to George, and volunteered
her first command to him-'She looks
divine, and sings up to that conception.*
' Just as you do, Marie.*
Bat she seemed not to heed him. . For the
time being she was lost in ' La Sonnambula.*
The curtain again went down. It was half-time, and there was opportunity for the gentleman to go and ' see a friend,* ' kiss a baby,* ' stretob. legs,' 'take a whiff of the cigar,' or in any other manner account for a temporary absenee, during whioh the ladies oan gossip of the performance, the per- formers, or the dresses of those who endea- vor to rival each other. And marvellous
Melbourne had surely much to pride itself ' upon at this time. As was and is oustomary, every bas was occupied; the youth and beauty, the opulence, nay, the extravagance, of the queen city of the south was no where better exemplified than during this brilliant season of italian opera at the Royal.
When George and Mr Goniaby returned after the interval, Marian and Lil were sitting side by side, and had evidently been in animated conversation. Lilian said, by way of greeting their return, ' I think we. also should have gone out for a cooling.' ;
Marian did not rise, perceiving whioh her father took the ohair whioh she had pre- viously occupied alongside George, and thus they sat during the remainder of the play;
When the next break in the plot oeourred, they did not remove from their seats ; in- deed, their attention was fully taken up by perhaps the only really oomioal item of the evening. One of the ballet girls sang, in English, a silly, but amusing, ballad entitled * Bread and Cheese and Kisses,' pronouncing it ' keeses.' Lilian laughed heartily ; Mr Gonisby smiled good-naturedly; George looked furtively at Marian, who gave no sign either that the quaint little song amused her, or that she was relenting about that kiss of the earlier part of the evening.
Not once did she turn round to address a remark to George. Lilian noticed this. Mr Gonisby must have noticed it, yet he made no comment.
So that by the time the opera was over, George made up his mind he did not oare very much for '.La Sonnambula ' ; also that he had grievously offended the sweetest girl in tho world.
On this particular evening George Whid- don had never looked handsomer. His well-made evening Buit, his well-developed form and figure, hie easy unaffected bearing, hia healthy blood and fair akin, his neat little moustaohe, tho white and rod rosebuds in his button-hole DD ado of George to-night a lad whom any young lady of Melbourne, no matter how bright her prospoots, might well have been pleased to receive attention
Mr Goniaby himself felt that this was so ; felt that George's mere presonoe and personality had a singular oharm, as hia manner also had. The elder gentleman wished, with all his heart, that things might have been difloront ; so that ho might not have ropnlsod, but rather have encouraged, George Whiddon as his son-in-law. He knew other young mon whose prospects in
life were rather more assured than George ' Whiddon's ; but he knew no young man, of whom he could feel so assured, as he was in George's case-without evidence, without enquiry-that there was nothing vicious or unholy in his life ; that his oharacter was simple and honorable, and his manhood un- sullied. Under any other circumstances, therefore, ho would have upbraided his daughter for discourtesy-not angrily, but firmly; As it was, his heart went out to his daughter in a frosh burst of silent paternal affection-* I'm perfectly sure she likes the lad, but for my sake-tor family peace and honor's sake-she is cutting him-she has out him over since we met thin evening-so that he might be sufficiently wounded to give up thinking, if he had ever thought, of
Poor George, it was this very evening he had meant to speak of his love I
He bore his love's coldness and unspoken rebuke with a patience and good humor whioh well-nigh broke down the fortress of Marian's anti-amorous resolutions,. He did not know how hard it was for her to up- hold that assumed haughtiness ; how in finitely easier and preferable it would have been for her to have freely, laughingly spoken that word of forgiveness. Yet to what end-to what good end ? Here was, unsought, her opportunity to oheok the thing that was growing in George's heart
and for her ! It is so hard for a woman to refuse to be loved. It sometimes means the winning of a truly beautiful woman by a ; commonplace, hard-fisted, even ugly sample
1 of a man. And now Marian was called
upon to put down a lovo whioh was good to look upon and commendable to every sense contagious too, and altogether desirable, save from one standpoint, and that not a worldly nor a sentimental one, but one arising from grey traditions and time-worn prejudices.
Going home, after the opera, every one of the party felt the constraint of the strange coolness whioh had arisen between George and Matian : such a thing had never hap- pened before.
Yet it was only as a passing oloud, on a sunshiny day, compared with the deluge of storm and fear, patience and passion wbioh were in store for both Marian and George.. . . Arriving at the gate of ' fairleigh,! George was the first to alight and helped the yoong ladies out.
Marian, without pauBing, made to enter the gate. George, after pausing a moment; oaught her up, intending to say good-night.
He held out his hand.
She hesitated a moment, as if uncertain to speak, and he took her hand, whispering ' Say one word, Marie, and I will not feel so wretohod ! ' ,^
'You see father is ooming; let go my hand, please.'
Then, Mr Gonisby with lillian being alongside, she quickly said-' Good night,
' Do you hear Marian, Mr Gonisby,' call- ing me Mr Whiddon P Too bad, isn't it ?'
' You are coming in, George. I told your
ooaohman to drive home. I .took that
liberty, as I took it for granted that you and Lilian would come in and have a bit of supper?'
' But you see how Marian is treating me, Mr Gonisby i If she will be kind enough to say ' come in, George,' nothing wonld give mo greater pleasure ; but I seem to have my dismissal in . good-night, Mr Whiddon 1* ' At whioh they all laughed, and Marian looked at her father. The latter spoke again :
' As it happens I am the prinoipal here, you need not mind, I think. Gome along. George,* and he took his arm and walked into the house ; while Lilian and Marian did
It was something, George thought, to appear to have the father, so far, on his side ; yet the reader knows otherwise. Apparent facts are sometimes dooeptivo.
Tho young ladies wont to Marian's room. JDireotly Marian entered the room, she reck- lessly threw hor opora-oloak on ono side and oast hcrsolf upon tho bed, buried her head in the pillow, and sobbed. She had kept it baok so long.
Lilian was startled and amazed.
' Mario, dear Mario, what is the matter P Oan you not toll mo P Are we not true friends P Surely you oan trust me.*
What could she say P Sho was strongly disinclinod to Bpoatt to auyono, and Lilian wup his sister. Yet women-ospooialy young womon-lons to toll evon little troubles to ¡ ono of their own sox. It seems natural to
I ' Oh, Lily, I did not want to speak of it ; ,
'yet he must think me so rade and unkind. Do you know what I did-shall I tell youP
J I elappod his f aoe-his, George's ! (at an in-
credulous look from Lil). Waa it not a bold, unladylike thing to do ? Yet I could not
J help it ; and he-he ought not to have done
what he did ! But there, I have no right to, speak of it. I am really very unhappy, I Lilian.'
' I wish I oould help you, Marie.* *
'Youcannot help me, dear; noone oan help me !'
Lilian was wondering what indiscretion' George oould possibly have been guilty of ; she would not question Marian further« She really saw that Marian was unhappy, and it occurred to her, after a little while, what was really the extent and enormity of Gorge's offence ; and that was not the only conclusion she came to. She read a far deeper significance in all she saw aad heard -whioh, indeed, she could hardly fail to do,
being the shrewd girl she was. She knew . that her brother admired Marian, and had probably declared his love ; she knew now, also, that Marian loved her brother ; and she feared, greatly, that it was a hopeless,
love on both sides.
She sat down beside Marian, and, putting her arms about her, kissed her as a sister
might have done. . "
'Dear, Marie, do not : trouble 'about a,
' A trifle do you say ! Oh, I wish it - were ! You do hot understand, Lily.' ' >
' Fortrivé me, dearest ; I think I do under- stand J' :>?.?> ;'
Quickly Marian'sat upright! 'What" have 1 said?' ? ' .'' ' , . ? ' - '' '
'Nothing that, you need mind-nothing . that will be repeated.' .
' Thank you. Lily. Now you will please
go down, make my exouses to your - to ' them, and say I am tired andgoing to bed.*'
. Won't you come down to say good- night P'
' No ; how can I-look at me P*
'Very well, Marie. Good-night, and do . not fret. It may all oome right.' ?
Marian shook her head, kissed her friend, - and closed the door.
Lilian found ber brother and Mr Gonisby seated in the dining-room, each discussing a plate of oysters and a bottle of stout.
' What has kept you ? Where is Marian ?' ' asked Mr Gonisby. , .
' Marie is tired and is going to bed.' .
' Well, Bit down here with ns and try some oysters.' .- '. '
* They are capital,'added George.
.No, thank you, Mr Gonisby, I could not , eat anything now.'
George, on being pressed to take some more, also deolined; bis appetite was not what it might have been under othet cir- cumstances, but he made pretence of eating for a little while longer, as Mr Gonisby *as evidently enjoying his sapper. Notwith- standing Marie's absence, he seemed in the best possible spirits, and kept his yoong guests in conversation as to the salient points of the opera, whom they had recognised at the Boyal, and so on.
There being no possible chance of a further word with Marian however that night, and having hesitated to say what was in his mind to Mr Gonisby before Lilian joined them, he could not say it then. *
They wished Mr Gonisby good-night, and
soon reached their own home.
. George lid not ask, and Lily did not volunteer, any word as to why Marian did not rejoin the party in the dining-room.
And so ended the evening at the opera-- ; s from whioh George had anticipated quite