|Newspaper Title||Alexandra Times|
CHAPTER IV. Christmas morning at Wongawarra. On the bosom of the glad Goulburn eslver ripples gave back merrily the brilliant sann rays that greeted the waters; and, as it in emulation, Wongawarra Creek spread its broadest belt to catch the glitter-like sheets of polished glass. The green fol.ago on the banks looked greener, the blue of a summer sky bluer and brighter, and the very song of the magpie, as he walked proudly over his dominion at Wongawarra, Pounded more sweetly than usual in the influence of that glorious sunlit morning, BEen Ellinor oeveridgo, as she stopped to the verandah to gather into her eoea the beauty of her first Australian Christmas, looked more beautiful than was o(en her wont. The soft muslin robe that added additional grace to her form, the dafk per. fumed bands of shining hair, the soft happy smile that enriched her lips, were al worthy of a woman who loves and is bolov l. We had almost said worthy of a bride, lit long years had flown since Ellinor Aisleon had become a bride. Ellinor was as full of happiness that it scarcely needed the sweet beauty; of the landscape to increase it; yet she looked lovingly on the sweeping plains and the scattered sheep. Her eyes ranged ovor blue bill and bright river, down the winding creek, and far away where the dark forest line hid the horizon; but lovingly they lingered on the road that wound up Wonga. warra Ranges, for down that track reoderick would soon come to keep Ohristmas at the station. While she yet stood gazing stroad, her bead almost wreathed with tholoanes of the vine that hung on the trelliso of the verandah, a groom brought a saddled horse round to the front door, and Mr 3overidge came out hastily and prepared to mount. "Going away on Christmas morning, papa I Surely it is not necessary." " I must, illinor, my love, and I am very sorry for it. I have jest received a letter which obliges me to go to Camperd>wn. Nay, my girl," he added, as he saw the cloud that fell upon her bright face, 'd' not fret. When I tell you that it is necessary to save a friend from much suffering this pleasant Christmas morning, you will no longer wish me to stay. I hope to be home in two hours, Ellinor; so kiss me, and let me go ;" and the father pressed his lips to those of his oldest daughter for the very last time. Yes, for the last time. How glad was Elllnor, in after days, that her poor father had not forgotten that last embrace l and that she watched him until his form had disappeared up the winding road, Janie sat moodily in the front parlor on this beautiful Christmas morning, her plump figure carelessly attired, and an expression of bitterness on her face, when Ellinor entered the room from the verandah. " Why, Janie, is it here you are this lovely morning ? No dross to prrparo for our oven. lug, Janie ; no pretty ribbons to twine into rosettes ?" "Ribbon I Who cares for those stupid people who are coming to-night? There is not a single decent fellow in the lot," she pouted. " Not Young Ellis, sister mine 1" asked Ellinor, arckly. " I thought he used to be a favorite. Have I not heard you say so ?" " Is Harrycome back ? and is he coming ? Oh, I am so glad ; he's the very best dancer in the district, ant used to be so fond of me. But that is fouryears ago," she added, with a half sigh. "When you were a child, Janie. If he was fond of you then, you have now a greater certainty of his affection than ever. Go, Janie, and make up your prettiest rosettes for Harry Ellin,"said Ellinor, with a Emile ; "I am going to take a stroll up the Ranges." And so she passed oat, a woman in the full perfection of maturel beauty-a woman whose every movement was grace and dignity. Very beautiful sho looked, with the broad. leaved hat casting its shadow over her bright eyes, as she crossed the plain nod climbed enjoyingly up the shaded road that crossed Wongawarra Range, You know she was going to meet her husband, Frederick Howard, and each happy moment deepened the smile on her lips, for she knew that it brought her nearer to his embrace. She had intended to go as far as the srot where the little stream widened, and where sha and her beloved had first met alone after nearly sixteen long years of separation. But she thought she was early, and a cluster of scarlet flowers hanging from the sprays of a creeper, on one of the grey rocks above her tempted her footetops, and she turned from the path and climbed up the steep until she had reached the flowers and gathered them. Once, there, however, the beauty of the scene stretched beneath her wooed her stay. Wongawarra was so beautiful I -beautiful in the early morning, with the dew lying thickly upon every blade of verdure, and the foe rolling densely over the hidden Goulburn beautiful it noon, when the burning rays of a summer sun shot down goldenly to sparkle on the waters and filter through the peppermint branches, under the shade of which lay the flocks of grey sheep for their noonday rest beattiful in the evening, while the shadows grow long and lay upon the river, and when the Inauging-jackass sounded his notice of night hoarsely in the old gum branches. Beaonutiful Wongawarraon the Goulburn I Ellioorsat down upon a fragment of rock to rost and to gaze. Herface was toward the' homestead away in the middle of the plain, with the grey lines of smoke ascending from its chimneys straight up into the pore heaven and her back was toward the range: over which she would watch the coming of Frederick, A distantsound caughtbher.ear. Was It the sound of his horse's feet ? She rose and peeped over the ledgeof granite that lay between her and the lower level at which the road crossed. Yes, there was a horse. man coming quietly over the spur, bntit was not her husband; it was Mr Beveridge. She watched him with a happ smile on her lips, and a girlish inclination t call onut to him as he so unconsoIously pas e.' She wondered how that strange uetralian "cooee " would sound among the ocks and from her unaccustomed lips, but o? checked the inclination, and remembered that she was no longer a girl. Ab, if she lad only aonlled at tha eventful momenti If she had only awak ned the echoes of Wongawarra Ranges to the sound of a human voice, all might hare been welll For at the very instant she wa about to draw back and descend the rock, a noise immediately beneath the orag over which she had looked made her once more beniid over, and there shesaw a sight that engraved itself on her memory until death. Theoye was a man beneath the rock standing in thebo shadeof a clump of trees, and hiding cautiously behind one of their trunks. Almost as she saw and recognisod him, he raised his arm and disoharged a revolver that rang out a sharp, short roportin the stillness of the ranges. One terrified glance at the beloved figure of her father, now fast dig appearing from view behind a treoassnured her of a terrible truth; be had fallen from his horse, and was lying prone on his face on the grassy earth.. It seemed like a dream to the bewildered woman, Were these trees and rooks that she looked on real ?-was she herself Ellinor Deoveridge, who so lately, left home ,in the perfect enjoyment of loing lifo -wane s he really the same.Elllnor, and was that her dear father lying, there so quietly, while the hoofs of, his terrified steed rang out down the distant road as It wildly gallopoel h.me. ward ? ,. And the murderel my God, the mhrdererl She, neither screamed .nor lainted, but a dread1ut determination tosecumr this manaor
man's justice filled her hosom. Once more she looked over the rook, and she saw him steal away through the trees, while the echoes of another horse's feet came quickly down the range. Ellinor &carce waited to think if this was.i er lover'saepproach, so full of fearwa sabi that the i aderor weqld escape. Shb nqvcr thought'of her .ftiher or of flying to his tsaiatance; for she felt, that he was dead; hat in a bewzildered madness, that was but the precursor of insensibility, she commenced to rapidly descend to the spot from whence had been fired the fatal shot. At the foot of the tree where the assassin had stood lay a bit of white paper. Picking it up hurriedly, she was about to hasten on the track of the flying man; but it had been more than Ellinor could boar, and she sank to the ground in a swoou, her lanst ight being a view of her dead father, iying quiet on the grass.