|Newspaper Title||Traralgon Record (Traralgon, Vic. : 1886 - 1932)|
|Trove Title||A Christmas Wedding. A Story for Our Girls|
CHAPTER IL As is usually the case in all small country towns, the church was considerably in debt, and the not very original plan of getting up d bazaar was resorted to for the pupose of paying his off. The bazaar was opened by no less a person than the memb? for the Upper House, who made a neat little speech, in which he called ponthe people to econd the noble elorts of their pastor aid his charming wife to free theIr chorch from its heavy load of debt, etc., and as he descended the platform steps he was at once surrounded by a dozen girls, all anxious to make him buy something Sabsurdly useless, till Mirs Biver cams to his rescue, and good-naturedly carried him off to help with her rafles. The bazaar was in fall swing when Leo Wylde arrived. It was his first appesraLce in public since his sudden call to town, and ?ie ws overwhelmed withexpressions of sym pathy and condolence--so much so that he was grateful to ~ir ivers when he hurried up in his fussy way. asd ed "Iff ir Wylde would be kind enough tl sing .ome. thing" for it had been arranged that occa sioal songs should be interspersed through the afternaoo4 p vary the monotony. Sulie Payne was the co.poPist and as his full, rich voice sopnded theougu the halt there a a redthless silence. ,,Sheisstanding somewhereshe I shall honor, She that I long for, my Queen, my Queen," Sang Leo in impassioned tones, and Gladys Evans, clasping her hands, strove to still the wild beating of her heart. When the song ended there was one moment's pause, then followed a perfect thunder of appl.an, and Yrs Rivers beckoned Leo to her side. Rgvrw eautifully you sing," she said, "I think I never _herJ nyono put so much ex pression into a sang as yo "c, Then fly ind of mo another subject in $er nsaol ran d way, she id, . .y-tlhe-bya, w" about youir bu ukP w es 1" a don't Unorbupateyi te.,teyr returned Leo, "Iav don't kLoab -. ,...h ...... .'- .
everything to my partner, we have both paid into the concern as much as we can spare from our private accounts, and if more is wanted I shall have to sell Woodside, but' that I trust will not be necessary, only for some time to come I shall be wofully short of ready money." " Which means," replied Kathleen, "that you'll not be flying off to town every other ws.ek, and you can't expect me to be sorry for that." Then she sqddenly raised her eyes to his, and spoke impulsively : "Oh! Mr Wylde, I too am woefully short of ready money. I can't get any from Andrew, and I must-I must. have £10 before the end of the week." Mr Wylde felt, as he looked, exceedingly uncomfortable at this sudden confidence of Mrs Rivers, and he was wondering what reply he could make when little Kitty arrived on the scene in floods of tears about some childish disappointment, and saved the situation. By 11 o'clock the bazaar was over, and the stall holders strolled leisurely up to the parsonage to give in their money and count the profits. They were joined by Mr Hodges and Leo Wylde, the latter carrying pretty Kitty Rivers and her many dolls. " You must do the counting, Mr Wylde," said Mrs Rivers, " Andrew has gone to christen a dying baby." The money was all turned out on the dining-room table, and they made- the silver up into heaps of £1 each. "It will bovery heavy to carry to the bank," said Mrs Rivers, dolefully. "How foolish it ana rtrtt nOtbnUr .nd' M mm, 3n r Smith would have'locked it up till the morning." "I can change some of it, Mrs Rivers," said Heodges. "I will take £20 worth of silver (I have my bag here) and give you two tenners, and he put two ten pound notes on the table." "Oh! that's too good of you," began Mrs Rivers, when Mr Sprattle rushed up and put his head in at the window. "Fire!"heyelled. "The church is on fire." Cora Lynn gave a piercing scream, and they all went helter-skelter through the open door and across the churchyard, all, that is, with the exception of Mr Wylde, who believed it to be one of Jack' bad jokes. In about five minutes Mrs Rivers returned. She came in hurriedly through the op-n door, and was quite close to Leo before she saw him. "Mr Wylde," she exclaimed, "didn't you go to help? Why, even I was doing what I could, but I thought Kitty might wake and be frightened, so I came up to the house." "Oh. Mrs Rivers," said Leo. seizing his hat, "w' at must you think of me ! Is the church really on fire? I thought it was Sprattle's nonsense." "No." replied Mrs Rivers, "nt the 3hurch yet, though it is in danger-it is the fence and hedge that are burning, and they are carrying buckets of water from our tanks." Leo hastened out, and was soon the busiest in the crowd, and in less than an hour the flames were subdued. The girls had all helped in carrying the water, and when they returned to the house were thoroughly exhausted. Mr Hodges. who was begrimed with smoke, and looked like a coalheaver, was 4n a very bad temper, and angrily accused Mr Sprattle of having a quiet pipe in the church groundi, and dropping matches. Jack looked guilty, but indignantly denied the aceusation. "I'm going," announced Hodges, in a surly tone. " Mrs Rivers, shall I take the silver ? " "No, thank you," she replied. "I couldn't think of troubling you so much. Andrew will drive down in the morning." "Then I'll take my notes, please," said Hedges, curtly. "Yes, thanks all the same," replied Mrs Rivers. "I'll take my. notes, please," repeated Mr Hedges. " I put them" on the table with the other money." " Yes," replied Mrs Rivers, "ju1st there at the corner. You've put your hat on them, I think." Mr Hodges lifted his hat, but the notes were not there, and a general search, fol lowed. "Well," said Heodges, "they're certainly not here, and I left them on the table when we went to see about the fire. ,y-the-bye (with an insolent look at Leol. did we all go out of the room together ? " Everyone turned and looked at Mr Wylde. and Mary Bellow said with a little giggle " Mr Wylde didn't come out for quite a long time after the rest of us." Leo flushed hotly, but said not a word; a horrible suspicion, for which he. hated himself, had flashed across.his mind, and in fancy he heard again the troubled words Kathleen Rivers spoke that afternoon, "I must, I must have £10 before the end of the week." He is roused by Hodges' wrathful voice. "Mr Wylde! have' you nothing to say.'" He looked toward Kathleen, but she did not raise her eyes. "Nothing! .Mr Hedges," he replied in a haughty tone. "Then," said Hodges, " you'll hear more of this, and, let me tell you before the assembled company, I firmly believe you have taken the money. We' all know what difficulties you are in. Mra Rivers, I will wish yonu good evening !" Leo was still silent. Even the insolence of this speech failed to move him.' He could think only of Kathleen, and to the surprise of all present he allowed Hedges to quietly leave the room. 'In a few moments the whole party had dispersed, and Leo, afraid to trust himself to speak to Mrs Rivers, bowed gravely and walked out through the open window. Mr Frank Hodges was true to his word; and the next morning Leo had to appear before the magistrates on a charge of theft. During the night he had decided how to act. Kathleen must be saved at all costs, and that she might be he must appear to be guilty. His answers were therefore given in a hesitating, shuffling sort of way that was damning, and no one who heard him doubted his guilt for one moment. The proceedings were short, and Lea Wylde was committed to stand his trial at the next sitting of the county court, which happened to be on the following day. Ball was allowed. His own surety" and that of Mr Smith, his banker, was, taken,. and then Mr Wylde returned to Woodside to wait impatiently for the morrow.