|Newspaper Title||Launceston Examiner (Tas. : 1842 - 1899)|
|Trove Title||Matched and Mated: A Romance in Real Life|
FICTION. MATCHED AND MATED. A ROMANCE IN REAL LIFE. [BY MRs SHACKELL.] Authoress of 'Broken Life,' ' Re tribution,' etc. CHAPTER I. The shades of evening were slowly fall ing over ' Broad Acres.' The sun had just set in ah its golden glory, leaving the sky decked ic roseate and opal clouds. Beautiful, peaceful twil;ghtº reigned. Not a breeze in motion. Dark blue vapour coverea the hills, forming an exquisite back ground for the peakea hill opposite the east end of the house, while the bashful young moon hid itself behind the clouds, lingering in its silver sweetness, reluctant to dispel the twilight, to bid day good-by and proclaim that night had come. Amidst this perfect amphitheatre of mountain scenery runs a river, kissed here and there by weeping willows, a few paddocks cleared of their once luxurious growth of timber. Here stands the dwelling house most attractively situated on the brow of the hill. The house was a two-storeyed building, with a wide and gabled verandah The old-fashioned windows were covered with brown ven etian shutters, which slid back on frames in the daytime. To the right side of the dwelling was a greenhouse, from which the perfume of a million flowers filled the air. A gentle slope of green, smooth as a billiard table, on either side of the carriage drive, planted in fancy shaped patches with pansies and other flowers, formed an effective boundary. A fine old-fashioned place it looked. A homestead of the older days, when Aus tralia was a land of gold. It brought to mind the times when gold was easily got and far more easily spent. The days be fore toil and want and strikes in trade had spread devastation and misery over the sunny south. Before competition and knavery and trying-to-get-on-in-the-world were thought of. But to get on with my story. I am now a sturdy old fellow turned fifty, which is an uncertain age. Turned fifty may be any age between fifty and sixty. There are few places in the colonies where I have not been; I have seen much of life, and still more of a checkered career, for from the young masher in the crowded ballroom to the rough digger in moleskin and fustian 1 have played a part. I was born a gentleman, my father being the leading doctor at G-, but L-, like many more of our fellows,got the gold fever, and left old England for ever. This place which I write my story about was the property of a thirty-first cousin of mine in the old days, when I came here with a light heart, and a still lighter purse,for a shakedown. Ah I those were the days when my beard was black,' as poor Gordon said. I find myself here again 20 years after, as I pull up my tired horse and look around. I find all unchanged save myself. 1 lifted my hat to the only person whom I could see about. A young lady seated on a big brown basket chair, on the verandah. She was apparently intent upon a book, and with a ' beg pardon, could you tell me who lives here now ?' I introduced myself. As she raised her eyes to mine I was surprised at her beauty. Her face was pale, almost colourless. Her eyes, large, dark, and full of un utterable sadness. Her hair was nearly black, and worn plainly parted in the middle, brushed back and fastened somehow in a loose nob at the back of her small, well-shaped head. Her forehead was low and broad ; with a well chiselled nose,and beautifully shaped mouth. She threw down her book at once, and stepped lightly towards me, and, raising her eyes to mine, replied, 'Brandon Hall is the owner, the in mates are nearly all away from home now, but if I can do anything for you-' She answered, me so naturally alwos with trusting childishness, my confit deuce was called out of me, so before I could help myself I told her who I was, how I had travelled, and how my affairs had brought me back again to fair Tas mania. Humphrey Hall, the late owner of 'Broad Acres,' had been dead a few months, she told me. Late in life he married, more to give a mother's care to his young orphaned niece, his only bro ther's only child Pauline, than from any desire to change his condition, for Bumphrey Hall was the happiest and most contented of old bachelors. All the vast estate for hundreds of miles was his own, and nothing pleased him better than to fill the house with jolly fellows during the shooting season, and to enjoy his wealth after his own fashion. But his little niece and heiress required a mother's care; thus at the age of 60 'Old Humph' stood before the altar with a bride of 40 summers.