|Chapter Title||THE HAND OF A MAN, NOT A KNAVE.|
|Newspaper Title||Launceston Examiner (Tas. : 1842 - 1899)|
|Trove Title||Farmer Mack|
CHAPFTER IV.-TIE HIAND OF A MIAN, NOT A KNAVE. The hon. Mrs Fullard seemed to have made some protest, for Mr Pickara rejoined passionately. 'We were boy and girl together, and, though I had no claim on you, it was a most unnatural thing that you should forget all that, and marry that grey.headed man who is years and years older than you. Look at him with his incessant talk of sheep and cattle, sheep and cattle. If I were to stay here long I should begin to baa like a sheep myself. No, don't say anything. Let me have my say. God knows I have been silent till I could bear it no longer. Your mar riage with lullard was a marriage out of place. You should never have married anyone but me. We were made for one another, and now what will you become? You will settle down into the narrow groove in which von live here, you will become a part of the place, ambition will die, your ability will be idle, thing, a society thing, not the grand woman you promised to be, but a thing. Oh i it drives me mad to think of it. You know you are conscious of the maquetic link between us, you fell the powerful attraction, but you will not allow it, you have thrown your self away, and you will not listen to me.' ' I feel,' said the hon. Mrs Fullard in a voice unlike her own, 'I feel as though some horrible power was being exercised over me against my will. I feel like a fly in a web. I suffer. Let go my hands.' ' No, not yet, I cannot let them go yet. Say that you love me--I know you do.' 'I wish I could think,' said the hon. Mrs Fullard confusedly,' but my head is in a whirl. Will you let go my hands?' ' No, I will not. Kiss me, he said passionately. ' Oh don't i Don't !' she cried horror stricken. 'Think, think what you are doing.' 'Tell me that you do not love Fullard.' ' He is a good man,' said the wife faintly. ' Oh wlh, are you saying P Tai; is rrible! Have you no pity?' ' Promise m that you will leave him.'
'I cannot. Oh my head f My head a It is this power I 1 wish I had never A let you mesmerise me-never let you d touch my hands.' ti 'Oh go away now, please go away, I and let me try to think.' si 'Never till you promise me you h love me, you do not love Fullard. b You should not regard this un holy alliance, a lovelesss marriage , is a mockery, a hollow fraud, a glaring inconsistency. Oh if youg had married me-if you had only mar- h ried me. I love you madly, madly.' He burst into a fit of sobbing. 'Don't, don't. For Heaven's sake! Fred, be quiet! My God help me exclaimed the heon. Mrs Fullard in a d tone of anguish.' I ' Say that you love me,' pleaded Mr Pickara. c ' I love you in a way,' she said, 'but not in the way you wish. Now leave Y me, I want to think. Please, please leave me.' a ' He caught her hands, and passing them to his lips hissed them raptur- f ously. Then he went away, Farmer , Mack sat silent for a few moments feeling half stunned, and then he rose and made his way slowly to where the hon. Mrs Fullard still sat in the arbor. li lie stood before her without speaking k for a moment, and she thought it was q Mr Pickara returned, ' Oh why have you come back ?' she f, asked reproachfully. 'It's me,' said Farmer Mack un- t grammatically. a The lady started violently, and then l gave way to a passionate rain of tears. t Farmer Mack sat down on an end of v the half circular seat, and waited till f she should grow calm. When her sobtl ceased he said in a voice that was a low and gentle for him, 'Will you let me talk to yer a bit me' dear ? ' ' Yes, yes, say anything you will. I know now you have overheard. I am mentally confused. I cannot think. Will you say to me just whatever you think best?' ' I will,' said Farmer Mack with un mistakable energy. 'I will. My advice is send that rascal to the right about.' ' He is not a rascal,' said the hon. Mrs Fullard just above her breath. ' He is no honest man,' said Farmer Mack gruffly. ' No honest man makes love to a married woman. No honest man tries to make a woman dishonour her husband, or speaks lightly of his grey hairs.' The hon. Mrs Fullard caught her breath; 'And such a husband too, went on Farmer Mack severely. ' I shouldn't ha' thought you would mention him in the same breath as that wanton. Yet you let him talk on-Why didn't you choke his miserable breath out of him before he said so much ?' The hon. Mrs Fullard straightened herself suddenly-' Don't think too badly of me,' she said. I do love my husband, and I do not love Mr Pickara, but he managed to fascinate me some how with his mesmeric power.' 'Then why didn't you out with it and say you loved your husband, and tell him to go to the devil ?' 'I couldn't. My tongue seemed glued to the roof of my mouth, and something rose in m throat and nearly choked me. I couldn't think then, but now-Do you know how I feel now ?' ' How ?' asked Farmer Mack. 'As though I would like, or had better, go down to the lake and drown myself.' 'The weak resources of a weak woman to go and drown herself like a measley chicken which hadn't the heart to live. Why, girl, you have done no actual sin yourself, though, by Heaven ! you've stood on the brink. Stand to your colours. Don't be a greater fool than nature meant you to be. [Send that Pickard about his busi ness. Don't seehim again, Send him a note and tell him to go to the devil.' The hen. Mrs Fullard pressed her hand to her emples. 'That would be cruel,' she said. ' I can at least be his friend.' 'No,' said Farmer Mack, firmly,' a friendship like that has a bad founda tion-a rotten foundation. Tell him he has mistaken his fish, and you ain't in the net yet by long odds. How could you let him kiss you ? Each kiss given from him was a touch o' damna tion. S'He kissed my hands,' said the r lady wearily. C 'I don't care whether he kissed your hand or your foot,' said the old Sman, brusquely, 'it was perfane just Sthe same.' 'I think I must go to bed,' said the hen. Mrs Fullard, 'my head aches i horribly.' 'Do, my girl,' said Farmer Mack an' get a good sleep; but write that, 1 fellow a note an' tell him to find a handy tree and go and hang himself. r And, mern, if I were you, I'd jest tell e your husband the hull story when he comes hame.' ' I will,' said she, in a tone of sud den resolution. 'I will tell him every thing-everything. How I seem to e have wronged him, but I could not think.' When Farmer Mack and the hon e Mrs Fullard went up to the house the servants told them that the old lady
and Mr Pickara had already retired. As Farmer Mack went down a corri dor to his own room, he bad to pass that which had been assigned to Mr Pickara. He glanced towards it and saw that a light still burned, and then went on, but before taking many steps £ he felt irresistibly compelled to turn c, back. He did so and listened at Mr hi Pickara's door, but all was quiet. Ih Then still as though he was being ti guided against his will, he knocked at a the door. A husky voice asked what c' he wanted ? tV 'I want to come in. I want to speak to you,' said Farmer Mack. S A slight delay en ed, and then th li door was opened a few inches, and M Pickara said irritably, 'What . do you want, sir? Why a couldn't you wait till morning ?' 'Let me come in, and I will tell you,' said Farmer Mack kindly. t Mr Pickara opened the door wider, and then Farmer Mack saw-that he d was fully dressed, but his good-looking face was drawn and haggard, and there was a guilty look in his eyes. t ' Come in if you must,' said Mr n Pickara desperately,and Farmer Mack a went in. The first thing his eyes t lighted on was a strong looking cord, knotted so as to form a running noose. 1 This lay at the foot of the huge old- ii fashioned tester bedstead, and near, in i fact close by, stood a chair. In a r moment Farmer Mack divined why B that cord was there, and that chair so near. A chill went to his kind old heart, but he said nothing of them just then. Instead he sat down uninvited, while Mr Pickara looked on with a frown. 'Say what you want and be quick about it I want to go to bed,' he said, but he did not look at Farmer Mack. ' That is not true,' responded the old man quietly. ' Confound you, what do you mean?' asked Mr Pickara, but lie still avoided Farmer Mack's eyes. The latter rose and approached Mr Pickara. 'Will you giv me your hind ?' he asked. Mr Pickara did so half impatiently. Farmer Mack held it gently in one of his great brown ones, and lo. ked down at it thoughtfully. It was white and well-shaped, but it was not its beauty that impressed Farmer Mack. Pre sently he said ' This is the hand of a man, not a knave. I have made a mis toke, lad, you must have been be witched. Let me help you.' Mr Pickara looke into the good old man's face then. What he saw, he could never understand, but he suddenly released his hand from Farmer Mack's grasp, and, turning away, covered his face. ' Lad,' said Farmer Mack, 'I am an old man, but listen a while. I was hard upon you to-night. I felt like kicking you then, but I was wrong let me help you.' He laid his hand on the young man's shoulder, and then the latter broke down completely. For a little Farmer Mack was silent, as he had been silent with the hon. Mrs Fullard, but presently he said again, ' I am an old man, a simple ignorant old man, but I think I understand now, I think I've got the rights of it now. Your better self has come to the fore, and half mad with remorse you thought you would give it the go by.' Mr Pickara met Farmer Maca's direct glance then. 'I was mad,' he said slowly, 'mad with horror and remorse. My moral consciousness is re-asserting itself now, and the reaction is-is terrible. I killed myself, and now-now -I seem to see it all in its true light. I realise that I was about to sin deeply, but oh, I repent! I repent! I have done wrong, but I call God to witreass that I deeply repent. • Will you give Mrs Fullard a message for me. Tell her I would give anything to recall what I said to-night. Tell her-tell her I cannot see her again. I am ashamed, I could not enter her presence. Tell her to tell her husband all I said. Tell him how I violated his trust in me, his welcome guest. Tell him that I took advantage of the opportunity afforded by the fact that his wife had allowed herself to be subjected to my mesmeric power, and pressed my sacreligious lips to hers. You saw me do it. You knocked over the easel in your anger, but she, she was not wholly conscious of what I was doing. The temptation was too great for me, poor weak fool, who could so far forget what was due to the woman I loved, and to the husband she honoured, who could so lose sight of their trust, and of my own self-respect, as to tell her of my love, and even ask her to respond to it.' He sat down and again covering his face burst into hysterical tears. Farmer Mack laid one of his huge hands on the other's shoulders again, but said nothing till the latter's sobs ceased. (To be continued.) THs annual election of trustetoes of oq; Northern Maoquarie road distriot will be hold 1 at Koan's Hotel, Campbell Town, on Tuesday, April 9, at 1 a m., to fill vacanoeless caused by the retirement of Moesre Henry Foster, W. H. Gibson, and John Taylor, who alo eligible for . re-election. Nomlnotlons of candidates will be received at Kean's Hotel up to four o'olook p.m. on Tuesday, April 2. and on the three 0 preceding days. In the esoent of more than ( throe persons being so nominated a poll will be taken at Kean's Hotel, Campbell Town ; Bald-faced Stag Inn, Oloeveland; and pollee 1 station, Barton, commencinolog at 11 a.m., and e closing at two o'olook pm, on Tuesday, April 9,