Chapter 37576094

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Chapter NumberII
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article37576094
Full Date1908-08-01
Page Number48
Corrections0
Word Count1475
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleWestern Mail (Perth, WA : 1885 - 1954)
Trove TitleBinks: The Story of a Great Endeavour
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CHAPTEE II.

It was a very short engagement. Both were absolutely free from domes- tic ties, so there was nothing to wait for. They were married quietly and took possession of a charming -little home overlooking the sandy beaches and spreading waters of the seaside resort where they had spent so many happy hours, electing to pass their honeymoon in their own home, which represented to them a kingdom, small perhaps, but with illimitable possibilities.

They were as happy as children, and the Australian novel grew apace from the fullness of the writer's heart. Rhoda was in the secret now, and her husband's study must needs be the sun- niest room, with tho brightest aspect and tho greatest immunity from noise.

She never chafed when he forgot even her for a brief season, never intruded herself upou his privacy. Her nature was too truly great for paltry considera, tions of self to enter it and she loved her husband with a depth of tenderness which, partly perhaps from physical considerations, was maternal as well as wifely. Yet in spite of her care his work made serious inroads into his

small reserve of strength, for as it pro- gressed it held him by the power of a great fascination.

He had pul? hig eai-the refined, sensitive ear, attuned to the music of

things unheard by grosser natures,- | to the mighty heartbeat of a young na- j tion pulsing with life and longing. Its secrets had been laid bare to him. The forces of his own nature had been crystallised in this -one great effort. He cared not if he never wrote another book, so that he was spared to complete

this one.

Its style was all his own. He had never learned to write; the ueods of his own being had been his impulse. His thoughts ran in channels not open to those whose body and soul were less strangely at variance, and when he should have said all that was in him to say, and not before, he would write

"Finis."

Rhoda grew anxious for him as the months slipped by, but in the interval«,

of Iiis work lie réassurée! ber. It was he woo should he anxious for her sake, he told her, and at times a haunting dread took possession of him lest the child who was coming to them should be but another weakling even as he.

But in the fulness of time, and ere his book was completed, a sou was boru to them. It was no weakling, but

straight and strong and beautiful like Rhoda, who reclined among her pillows with the radiance of motherhood suf- fusing her face and the strength of a Cerfeçt and robust womanhood quickly

ringing renewed vigour for spent

energy.

He laid his face beside hers on the pillow, and thanked God for her and the wonderful mystery of newly-created life which was his and hers, and then crept back to his desk, where midnight found him spent and exhausted, out triumphant. The next day was the same, and the next, and the next. Thc arbitrary fate which banished him from Rhoda's side released him from the gentle thrall and offered his.' oppor- tunities not to be neglected. Once or twice he came to himself after a lapse of consciousness, to find himself still sitting in hts chair, and the dim light of the morning filtering in through the edge of the blind, and he knew that he j had had a. return of the old fainting at-

tacks, from which he had long been I free.

But the strain was but temporary, he told himself, and his task was almost

completed. After thia no more strenu i ous labours should tempt him, the pure-

ly domestic joys of husband and fatker i hood should be his. What a well of

thankfulness was in his heart even now for the strength and beauty of his first- born. His firstborn P Yes. But what i if in the years to come other children,

who sliouid take, not after Rhoda but after him. should come to a heritage of suffering P No there must bo no other children. His weakness might he their curse.

The fever of «xi et y and over-worked nerves sapped his bodily strength and made the completion of his task an al- most super-human one, but there caine a night when he could lay down his pen with a thankful heart and creep in to Rhoda's side.

"It is finished," he said, breathless- ly, and laid his face to hers.

"My poor boy.'' she answered, and took his tired head in li°r arms. "I will never let yoii write another, hut then this is so grand and beautiful that you will never need to."

In thc weeks that followod, Rhoda stepped firmly back into her accustom- ed health and, strength, and her hus- band busied himself putting the finish- ing touches to his work. He wanted to submit nothing short of perfection to his prospective publisher.

But one morning an unexpected visi- tor was announced. He was a gentle- man of considerable powers of Observa- tion and much suavity of manner.

Rhoda opened the door to him, her baby in her arms, and the stranger made a series of brief but accurate mental notes ju her favour.

She left him closeted with her hus- band, and when she returned in half an hour he was gone end her husband was alone, but there was much in his face.

Se. took Ker bands and drew ber to- wards him. and they sat down side hy side, and looked out at the shimmering waters of the bay. beyond the opea windows.

"My darling," he said at last in a breathless whisper. "I have had a b!owt I am not what I thought I was."

"Whatever you are makes no dif- ference to me," answered Rhoda stout- ly

"I thought I was an Australian, born and bred, and my book was to be » son's tribute to my native laud. I have been awakened from that dream. Rhoda, I have been told to remember that I am the child of an older world, and that a baronetcy has como upon

me. I never expected it-^î cannot ac- ^ cept it."

For one brief moment Rhoda feared that the strain of the past weeks bf mental effort had unhinged his mind; then she recalled the stranger's visit, and, looking into her husband's face, noted again the finely-cut features which could never look tvpicallv Aus- tralian. She breathed a faint sigh of. relief and smiled reassuringly.

"There were many lives between it and me," he went on. "My father was but the son of a younger son, with a distaste for old-world conventionalities, and though I knew this was in the family I never thought it^jcould affect me/! He spoke as ir it were cancer or tuberculosis of the most aggravated type.

"My dearest," said Rhoda, "surely a baronetcy is not so fearful a thing as you suppose. Think of the joys its possession may hold for you."

"Health is^ the only thing I lack, Rhoda, and it cannot give me that. Dearest. I know I must be a selfish wretch to ask it, but shall we ignore it and go on as we are? We ore so) happy. What could^ added wealth bring us but added responsibility ? If I except it my book will never be looked upon as the work of an Australian, but as that of a titled Englishman who speaks from the abundance of his ignorance."

"Arthur," said Rhoda, her face to his. "Fol- myself I care nothing. Life could fi&ld no greater blessing for me than I possess.a But we may not evade our responsibilities; they are given us by God. Your book will not be less noble, nor less truly the voice of your native land because circumstances force

you to sever the strands that bind you to it. Then again, th'#¿ of our 6oy. We have a duty to him. We cannot evade that.. The duties of parenthood

ever call for self-sacrifice. Como and look at him and see for yourself how impossible it is that we should sacri- fice him CV-3U for the best and noblest book in the whole world."

She led him to the room, where, in the shaded dimness, tho child lay sleep- ing. Hand in hand they looked down upon him, and marked the rounded beauty of his baby limbs, the chubby hands, the long lashes resting upon his cheeks, and tho gentle rise and fall of his soft breath. Then they turned and clasped hands and kissed in the shadows as they had kissed in the sun- shine long ago.

"No. we could not sacrifice him." said the husband, with a tender smile.