Chapter 37576092

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Chapter NumberI
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article37576092
Full Date1908-08-01
Page Number48
Corrections1
Word Count1740
IllustratedN
Last Corrected2011-01-04
Newspaper TitleWestern Mail (Perth, WA : 1885 - 1954)
Trove TitleBinks: The Story of a Great Endeavour
article text

*' BINES "-THE STORY OP A

GREAT ENDEAVOUB.

(By Kate Helen Weston.)

CHAPTER f.

Everyone has heard of the book which a year or two ago caused such a stir in the world, and was said to sup- ply a long-felt want in the literature of Australia, but the simple pen-name of ''Binks" upon the title page gavo but little clue to the identity of the author.

Various rumours were circulated, and several Australian writers of note were

in turn credited willi having written

it. As diese surmises were all incor- rect, for the benefit of the curious I now write the truth of the matter.

Bink« was fired by a great ambition when he read the following patronising paragraph in an English magazine : -

"Australia has yet to make a name for herself in the realm of litera- ture. Sh» has produced many fine short-story writers, to say nothing . of minor poets who have done re-

markably good work, but the Aus- tralian novel his yet to be writ-

ten."

Binks quivered with excitement when he had finished reading the article, of which the - foregoing paragraph was a part : first, because, though a very poor specimen physically, he was intensely Australian, and secondly, because his imagination was fired with a great idea.

What if he should write the great novel Australian F

Binks himself was a Soul, bound and crippled by the fetters of an inadequate {ihysical embodiment. Luckily for

lim, he had never been forced to turn the mill which ground his daily bread, or, long before his weakly maturity had boen reached, be might have been bio ken on the wheel.

He had enough for his simple needs, and shunned his fellow-men by reason of his phys:cal disabilities. He hated

their unspoken pity, the softened in- j

flection of their voices when he drew

near. He wanted to he a man among ; men and Heaven had denied it and given him a soul out of all proportions to his miserable body.

What morie natural than that Binks should take to literature and pour out the needs of his soul through the med- ium of pen, ink, and paper?

At first his bodily environments shadowed his mental horizon, hut by degrees, in those hours of quiet plea- sure, he forgot that he was Binks and soared away on the wings ol' a lofty imagination.

For a long time he did not attempt publication, but kept his effusions care- fully locked,in his desk, lest his land- lady should guess his folly. "Poor young Binks," she called him, and pur- sued niin with cough mixtures and lini- ments if he only sniffed twice.

But there came a time when the desk could no longer contain the number of Binks's thoughts which he had commit ted to paper, and in fear and trembling he posted a packet to a well-known weekly. The anxiety of suspense which followed, sent him to bed for a couple of days, and a week later he learned that the editor "regretted," etc., and it was a long time before ho found courage to try again.

Next tune, however, the editor had "much pleasure," and so had Binks, and that was the beginning of his sur- reptitious literary career. Having found the rose in Iiis crown of thorns, Binks surfeited himself with the joy of its secret possession, and one day, when he called in at a quiet cafe whei'o he sometimes indulged in beef-tea and toast at ll o'clock, ho fainted gently

in his chair.

When he came round, it was to find a very kind and cheerful voice assuring lum that he was all right, only a little tired, and a very deft pair of hands steadying his swaying head and feed- ing him gently with spoonfuls of beef tea. That " was thc beginning of Binks's friendship for Rhoda. After that, the law of contrast drew them to-

gether.

Rhoda was strong and straight and beautiful, with clear grey eyes that looked beyond the surface of things and

found what others missed. Her hair j was thick and bronze-brown, and curl- ed and twisted in close ptaits against her head. Her complexion was cream,

with a dash of the rose in it, and she ¡ wore a neat black dress and a spotless j

linen collar fastened with a ribbon un-

der her well-shaped chin. She was a

waitress in the cafe where Binks took ! his daily beef-tea, and. after that faint-

ing attack, she took him under her espe-Í

cia! care, but in a manner so unlike the j

method of his landlady that Binks j never suspected it. > j

Ono of those grim ironies in which

Fate indulges had tumbled Rhoda out j of the lap of Fortune into a very cal- j

lous world and bidden her shift for herself. After a struggle, in whicli teaching music, doing the work of a general servant in the genteel guise of á "ladyhelp," and several other equally unremunerative occupations had a part, she had turned waitress. In that capa- city, though her feet often ached, she at least had decent food and a salary which covered her simple needs. Her fellow-workers chaffed uer when Binks plainly showed his preference for her services. He was so boyishly insignifi- cant, so pathetically incompetent! But Rhoda held on her way, seeing so much more in Binks than it was possible for others to see. By borne secret intuition Binks became conscious of this fact.

He was by this time earning quite a substantial addition to his modest com-

petency by a pen the piquancy of

which charmed his rapidly-increasing' circle of readers. But as yet none con- nected the rising young writer with the delicate weakling known, or unknown, as Binks. Only Rhoda knew that some power lay behind his seeming weakness, and 6he believed in him and was silent. It was she who lent him inspiration to enter upon that piece of work which was to lift him and his native land to fame, she who spoke and smiled from those closely-written pages which grew

apace.

It was a stirring book, full of virility and power. Binks's back might ache

as he wrote, but only strong men peo pied his pages, men whose brawny anni conquered virgin forests and set thi crown of southern cities in lonelj wastes. And its women P Rhoda foi

inspiration, how could they be othe; than beautiful and peerless, strong ark

brave P

Their spare time, he and Rhoda sponl together. Through brief half-holidayi they picked wildflowers on the hil; slopes, or wandered over the saud dunes, with the sting of the fresh sall wind on their cheeks and Ups and thc glitter of the sun-bright sea in theil eves. Rinks developed wonderfully, 1 hose breezy hours of mental and phy- sical toiux in Rhoda's company worked miracles. Iiis diffidence slipped away from him like a clogging garment and, behold, there was the shining soul, un- hampered by the fetters of clay.

In those hours his name was so glar- ingly unsuitable that Rhoda remarked ou it. It was one afternoon when they were sitting in a shelerted nook among the sandhills, in the glow of the vigor-

ous sunshine.

'"But you didn't think my name was really Binks, did you?" he asked, smil- ing back into the clear well of her eyes. '"That is only a nickname that has always clung to me from childhood. It seemed suited to a nobody, and peo- ple were quick to fit it upon me."

"Well, then, since J Did you to re- member that you are homebody, would it not be well to change it for your pro- per name? ' suggested Rhoda.

"Behold then, fair lady, Arthur Augustus Monteith, at your service(" he answered gaily, clasping her hand in his slender one, and burying both in a sandy grave in the exuberance of his good spirits.

"It sounds like a family name," said Rhoda, smiling back, her eyes upon the small, clear-cut features of her compan- ion. "Do you know, Mr. Monteith, your face is of tho patrican order, clear and fine, and not a bit colonial."

"I am colonial, though, to the back- bone," urged the erstwhile Binks, earn-

estly.

"Perhaps so," answered Rhoda, "but your family is not, I am sure."

"Well, or course," said Arthur Augus- tus Monteith, with a deprecating shrug of his slight shoulders, "my. father's family-anyway he carno out here to try his luck when he was a youth, and though fortune was for the most-part against him. he never turned his face to the homeland again. He believed Australia to bo the freest, gladdest spot on tho face -of the earth, and he lived up to his belief. In the ver.y fulness of life and happiness he was killed by an accident, and it broke my mother's heart. That was before I was born, and though she lived on for a year or two in a vain effort to bear up for my sake, I was a mere baby when she died. . I was brought up as the ward of the lawyer who held in trust the small competency that was left to me. That is my history, Ithoda. Does it satisfy you P"

"Quite," she answered, smiling back at him ."Indeed, I would not have pre- sumed to ask so much."

"But it is right that you should know something of my antecedents," he said quietlv, 'Tor Rhode, I mean to risk the loss of your friendship and ask you to marry me. lam not a fit mate for you physically, and until lately I would not nave dared to ask any woman to marry

mo. but thou art

Tile lady for whose sake I shall be

strong,

But never weak or diffident again.

I have been reincarnated since I met

you, my dear one, and I feel that weak- ly as my body is. it shall never domin- ate me again. If you can take me, knowing my disabilities-"

'"I would take you were they increas- ed a thousandfold." answered Rhoda, with shining eyes, ''and you shall never disparage nor think lightly of yourself again. my_dearest and nest," and there iii the full glow of the afternoon glory and vigour of sun and wind, they clasp- ed hands and kissed each other on the lips.