Chapter 44059253

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Chapter NumberI
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article44059253
Full Date1890-11-05
Page Number4
Corrections0
Word Count2704
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleBarrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW : 1888 - 1954)
Trove TitleForget-Me-Not
article text

FOUGET-Mli-NOï.

CH AP i EH I.

' SUNNY April ' of the poet's fancy had faded into Muy, and nt length had .succumbed to tho warmth of curly sututnur.

'J hough the Benson lind been a Into one, hedges and slopiug woodlands glowed with » tender. mass of greenery against a snowy background of peur-blosRom and pink flushed apple bloom. Tho fortunate ' * ten thousand ' dragged captive behind

the gilded chariot of Fashion, turned their faces from the freahbom beauty, now nt : its best and brightest, to slave and toil,

to triumph and be triumphed over ; for - the first Drawing-room was 1 ancient - " history,' and the lilacs in the Park were

fragrant with pink flowers. Town was 'very full-that is rosay, the four millions and odd thousands of suffering, struggling humanity were augmented by the hand ( full of fellow-creatures who aspire to lead

A the world-and make the most of life, i The Academy had opened its doors for " nearly a month, and the diïlctnnte,

inspired by the critics, had stamped with ' tho hall-marks of success the master-

pieces of Orchardson and Solomon, had dwelt upon the vivid classicality of Alma Tadema, and listened with languid rap . ture on opera nights to Patti and Marie í Roze. Already those who began to feel

the heat and, glamour of ' the sweet shady side of Pall Mall ' sighed in secret for the ? freshness of green fields, and were { counting the days which intervened be-

tween them and.' royal Ascot.'

It is a fine thing to bo one of Fortuna - tus's favorites, to rise upon gilded pinions,

and to.soar whither one liateth ; to be in *' a position to transport the glorious fresh-

ness of the country into the stifled atmos

phere of towns. Down the sacred streets, * sun-blinds of fancy hues very artistically

arranged repelled the ardent heat, filtered the light through silken draperies of pink á . and mauve on to pyramids and banks of * fragrant flowers, gardenias and orchids,

. and the deep-blue violets fresh and dewy " from the balmy Riviera itself.

. A glorious day had been succeeded by a perfect night. Gradually the light deepened until thu golden outlines of the i mansions in Arlington Street gave promise

of the coming moon rising gradually into the blue vault overhead, a glowing saffron orescent. From every house there seemed to float tho sound of revelry ; a constant lino of carriages filtered down the street ; and many outcasts, drifting Heaven alone knows where, caught a passing glimpse of fairyland behind thc ferns, and gleam- ing statuary, behind doors flung, with . m eking hospitality, open.

There was one loiterer thero who

took slight heed of those. His shabby raiment might at one time have been well made, but now it was no longer presentable in such an aristocratic quarter ; his boot*, trodden down at heel, a scant protection against tho heat of the fiery pavement. The face

was that of a man who had seen better

days, a young face, not more than 30 at the'outside, a handsome countenance ^withal ; but saddened by care and " thought, and the hard lines of cultivated

cynicism, peculiar to the individual who is

out of suit1» with fortune. For n moment

fae stood idly watching an open door.bofore which stood a neatly appointed brougham, and within tho brilliantly lighted ves- tibule, half in shadow and half in tho ? gloom, a tall graceful figure loitered, a

naughty looking woman, with a black lace mantilla twisted round her uplifted head It was a striking picture-the dainty - aristocrat within, the neglected wanderer

' without ; he half shrinking in the shadows,

she clear cue as cameo against the blazing light, a background of flowers and forna to show off her regal beauty.

As she swept down the steps at length towards the carriage, homething bright and shining foll from her throat, and lay gleamiig on the marble tiles at her feet. Apparently tho loss waa unnoticed, for the brougham door was closed behind her before the stranger stepped forward and raised the trinket from ita porilous position.

.I think you have dropped this,' he «aid quietly, with a tone and ease of manner - in startling contrast to his appearance. ' -May I bo allowed to restore . it to you ?'

The haughty beauty, disturbed in some pleasant reverie, looked up almost with- out catching the meaning of the words. Sha saw nothing more than a humble individual pf a class as distinct from her own as the poles are apart, who, perhaps in the hope of a small reward, had hastened to restore the lost property to its rightful owner.

'Oh, thank you,' she replied, half turning in his direction, at the samo timo taking the brooch, and placing a ?piece of money in the stranger's hand.

* I should have been greatly distressed to have lost this.'

4 Thè miniature must be Vcdualbe,' returned the stranger mechanically re- garding the coin in his hand. 'Butyou will pardon me in calling attention to another mistake. You have given mc a sovereign.'

1 You scarcely deem it enough,' said the - girl/ with a half smile, as the strange

anomaly of her position flashed across her

. mind. «If -

On* the contrary, madam, I am more

than rewarded.

- - 4 No/as aheonco more opened the little

ivory purse.

..Again the palpablo absurdity of her ' ' situation struck the listener. That she

' was speaking to a man of education there waa no longer reason to doubt. Bnd yet the fact of his accepting tho sovereign severely militated against the fact of his being what his language implied.

'You surely are a man of education, aro you not, she asked.

'Really, I can hardly tall you,'

he answered with some confusion Then suddenly pulling himself to- gether, he said: But I ara presuming It is so long since a lady spoke to me, that for . moment I have forgotten that I

am-what I am.1

, He had lost himself for a moment thinking himself back in tho world again, till his eyes fell upon the silver harness glittering in the moonlight, and tho marble statuary gleaming in the vestibule behind. Bub tho listener drew herself up anne the higher, and regarded him with a look of interest iii her dark dreamy

ey ts».

41 do nut think so,' she said ; ' and I J . -I am sorry for you if you need my pity.

. If I can do anything '

Some sudden thought seemed to strike lier, for shu turned half away, as if '.rtsham d of her interest in tho stranger, . Mini motioned thu servant to close the

carriage duor behind her. Tho loiterer watched the brougham till it mingled with the stream of vehicles, and then, with a sigh, turned away.

281 \ilington Street, he murs.ur.ed to ?himself. *lmust remember that. And

they say there is no such thing ns fate ! Vere, Vere, if you had only kno^n who tho recipient of your chinty waa.

He laid the glittering coin on his palm, so that tho light streamed upon it, and gazed upon the littlo yellow disc as if it had been Burne priceless treasure. In his , deep attraction, he failed to notice that

. standing by his Bide was another wny ' . farer, regarding tho sovereign with ^, .hungry eyes.

' Mate,' exelaiuifciklia mer.dioanfceagcrly .; . '.that was very nigh being taine.'

The owner of tho coin turned'abruptly to the Bpuaker. He beheld a short power- ¡ . ful looking individual, dressed tn iou,li i cloth garments, his closely-croppod bullet

^shaped hoad adorned by n greasy fur cap. .shiny from lung weat* and exposure to ail y "ikiudt.of weather.

'It inigUt have boen mino, hu con tjiinuutl-:-" 'only .you yero tooquick for me.

WiUi a sick wifo and three children sUrvm' at heme, it's hard'.

' Whnro do yi.u livo V .w»kml tho foi i n- nato ono abruptly

4 Mitro Court, Marchant Street, over WoRtnitn>tf r Uridgx. It'« true what I'm telliu' you. And if you could spare a

.-.billin' '

Tho questioner took five shillings from his pocket and laid them on his open palm As hu replied, he eyed his meaner brother in misfortune with a shady glance in- which sternness was not altogether innocent of humor. 41 have «pen you before,' he observed, and so, if I am not mistaken, have the police. You can have the five shillings, and welcome, which just leaves me this ono sovereign. I am all the more sorry for you, as I have the honor of residing in that locality myself.' So saying, and dropping the coins ono by ono into' the mendicant's outstretched

hand, and altogether ignoring his fervid thanks, John Winchester, to givo the wanderer his proper rame, walked on, every trace of cynicism passed from his face, leaving it soft and handsome. His head was drawn up proudly, for he was back with tho past again, ami but for his sorry dress, might have passod for ono ^o

the manner born.

Gradually the streets became shabbier and fi (Vialid as hu walked along ; the tine Bhops gave place to small retailors' places cf business ; even th" types of humanity began to change. Westminster Bridge with its long lane of lights was passed, till at length the pedestrian turned down ono of the dark unwholesomo lanes lead- ing out of the main road, a street wit h low evil looking houses, the inhabitants of which enjoyed a reputation by no means to be envied by those who aspired to be regarded as observers of tho

law. But adversity, which makes us acqiiairted with strange bedfellows, had

inured the once fastidious Winchester to a

company at once contemptible and uncongenial. Ho pursued his way quietly along till at length ho turned into ono of the darkest houses, and walking cautiously up tho rickety uneven stairs, entered a room at thu top of the house, a room dovoted to both living and slcoping purposes, and illuminated by a solitary oil-lamp.

Lying ona bed was a man half asleep, who, as Winchester entered, looked mund with sleepy eyes ; tine gray eyes they might have been, but for their red hue and bloodshot tinge, which spoke only too I plainly of a life of laxity and dissipation.

In appearance he was little more tuan a youth, a handsome youth but for tho fretful expression of features, and tho extreme weakness of the mouth, not wholly disguised by a fair moustache.

' What a time yon have been !' ho cried petulantly. 'I almost go mad lying herc contemplating these bare walls and listening to those screaming children. The mystery to ma is where they all come from.

Winchester glanced round thc empty room, all tho more naked and ghastly by reason of certain faint attempts to adorn its hideousness, and smiled in cimtetupiu ous self-pity. The Hasler was peeling from tho wall?, hidden her« and there by unframed water colors, grim in contrast

while in one corner an easel had been set up, on which a half-finished pint ire had been carelessly thruat. Through the open windows a fruit fetid air percolated from the court below in unwholesome currents, ringing with the screams of children, or the sound of muffled curses in a deeper key.

' ''Tis sweet to know there ia an oyo will mark our coming, and grow brighter when we come.' Poverty calls for companion- ship my dear Chris. Why not have cmuc out with mo and seen the great world enjoying itself ? I have been up wcsl doing Pori ac the gates of Paradise.'

' How can 1 venture out ? exclaimer tho younger man with irritation ' How can a man show himself in such niiserabU rags as these I It isn't everyone who i: blessed with your cosmopolitan instincts. -but enough of this frivolity. The firs! great question is, have you had any luck The second, and of no less importance

how much ?

1 In plain English, have I any money

-Voilà !'

Winchester drew the precious coin frond his pocket and flung it playfully across t< his companion. His eyes glittered, his fact flushed till it grew almost handsomi again ; then he turned to tho speakei with a look nearly approaching gratitude or aa noar that emotion as a weak eelfisl nature can approach. Winchester laughed not altogether pleasantly, as ho noticoi

J Ashton's rapidly-changing expression o j feature.

' "Pon my word, Jack, you're a wonderfu

fellow ; and what I should do without yoi I dare not contemplate. Have you fount any deserving picturo-dealer who ha> j sufficient discrimination to'

I 'Picture-dealer.' Winchester c-choci

scornfully. ' Mark you, I havo becndoin¡ what I never did before-something, i trust, I shall never bo calla to do again. I told you 1 aa< been un west, and so I have, hangin about tho great houses in uxpectatioi of picking up a stray shilling I, John Winchester, Artist and Oenile man. And yet, someway, I don't fot that ¡I have quite foi f-.iied my claim t

the title.'

'You are a good fellow, Jack-the bes friend I ever had,' said Chris Ashton after a long eloquent pause. ' I shotil have starved ; I should havo found

shelter in gaol or a grave in the rive long ago, had it not been for you And if il had not been far mt you would be a. useful member <. society still. And yet I do nu think I am naturally bad ; there mus bc some taint in my blood, I fancj What a fool I havo boen, and how happ, I was till I met Wingate.'

Tho melancholy dreariness of retros pection, the contemplation of the ' migli have boen ' dimmed tho gray eyes for moment; while Winchester, his thought far away, pulled his beard in silcn

rumination.

'.When you left the army three ycai

ago

. Wile» I was cashiered thrco years ago,' Ashton corrected. ' Don't mineo

matters.'

1 * Very well. When you were cashiered

for conduct unbecoming an ofiicer and a gentleman, you carno to me, and I saved you from serious consequences. Von were pretty nearly at the end of your tether then, and Wingate \< as quite at tho ¿nd of his ; you had spent -ill your share of your grandfather's money, and your sister had helped you also. When Wingate stole that forged bill of yours, that 1 had redeemed, from my studio, you thought it was merely to have a hold upon you, in which you aro p;rtly mistaken. lip kept it because he im- agined that, by making a judicious use of tho document, your sister might bu induced to marty him to shi-ld you.

4 At .my rate, ho profited little by that scheme. There was a time, Jack, when I thought you wero in love with Vere'

Winchester bent forward till his face rested on his hands. 41 always was ; I suppose I always shall. If it had not been for your grandfrtther'a money But títere is nothing to bo gained by this idle talk. That is thc only thin« I have to regret in my past, and my own thrift less idleness, fí^relossly onoiigh, I sacii ticed my happiness, f^i^tle Vere, poor child! What would sho say if I aero to remind her of n curtain promise tiovs '.'

' Marry you,' Ashton replied with conviction. 4 Yes, in spito of evuiyl Iring.'

(To bo continued.)

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