|Newspaper Title||Traralgon Record (Traralgon, Vic. : 1886 - 1932)|
|Trove Title||A Christmas Wedding. A Story for Our Girls|
A Christmas Wedding. A Story for Our Girls. BY OHE OF THEM. CHAPTER I. Mos. RIVuRs' annual tea picnic was always a great event in her husband's parish, but more especially so the year Leo Wylde re turned home after a 12 years' residence in the old country. He was a mere boy when his father's sudden death left him owner of Woodside, acd, as everyone was anxious to see " how he had grown up." not one of Mrs Rivers' invitations met with a refusal. Old Mrs Bellew was there, chaperoning her daughter Mary, and Cora Lynn. The "dear children," as the old lady called them (though neither would see 35 again), were using their best endeavors to fascipate the stern-looking lawyer, Mr Hodges, and Jack Sprattle, the corate. These two, who hitherto had been the only eligible men for miles roand, felt rather eclipsed by the bril liant Mr Wylde, who was making himself useful to Mrs Rivers and her niece, Sissie Payne; in the unpacking of the hampers, while pretty Gladys Evans, declaring the day too lovely to be wasted in work of any kind, flitted in and out among the trees, fill ing her hands with wild flowers. She seemed so thoroughly to enjoy herself. She bhad never seen a fern gully before, and the wild orchids and beautiful climbing sar .pasijU$ Jl2"WL5py, editbod'Ihat as Lee stood on tiptoe trying to disentangle a great piece of sarsaparilla that had wound itself about the branches of a sturdy gam-tree; but, finding it a little beyond her reach, she was turning away disappointed with a little sigh, when Leo hastened forward, saying, with his peculiarly winning smile, "I think, Miss Evans, [ am tall enough to get it for you," and, untwining the beautiful creeper, he twisted it deftly round her large straw hat, saying, apologetically, " It will keep better there, you know; it fades so quickly in the bands." Gladys rather shyly smiled her thanks, lifting her blue eves to his face, and Mary Bellew. passing at the moment, remarked in a sneering voice to Cora Lynn," Just look at Gladys Evans; bow forward she is I" The quick tears started to Gladys' eyes, and, before the indignant Leo could utier a word, she had disappeared from view among tbe low, leafy blue gums. She stumbled on, over rocks and stones, crying bitterly as she ran, till at last, beneath the shelter of a friendly sheoak, she threw herself down among the thickly-growing bracken. A laughing jackass on the hillside opposite seemed to mock her misery. He was swing. ing gently on the topmost bough of a great wkttle-tree, and his harsh laugh sounded to poor Gladys like the echo of Cora Lynn's mirth. Then about half.a-dozen magpies flew in among the golden wattle blossoms, and the jackass took flight. Slowly Gladys' sobs subsided ;'the drowsy hum of some wild bees that had made their hive in a tree trunk near, and the soft rustling of the leaves overhead, had the usual effect on her, and in a few minutes she was asleep like a tired child, her head pillowed on her arm, and her hands full of wild flowers and ferns. She had thrown her hat off, and very pretty she looked, with a faint breeze softly stirring her'curly hair-at least so thought Mr Frank Hodges, who had been looking for her for the last half-hour, and now suddenly came upon her. "Yes" he said to himself, "she is de cidedly pretty, and I am certainly rich enough to marry whom I like." Gladys stirred slightly and slowly opened her eyes, and, seeing Hodges, started to her feet with a little cry. "Is it late 1" she asked anxiously; "are the others gone 1" "No, they haven't gone," he replied; " they're only a little further up the gully; but I came back to look for yon, I have something to say to you, Gladys." She colored with annoyance as he uttered her name, her heart beat fast with sudden terror, and a chuking sensation rose in her throat and prevented her speaking. His arm went round her waist, and he drew her to him. "Gladys," he whispered, "I love yon; will you be my wife" . Then Gladys found her voice, and cried "I hate you, I hate you." At first Hodges could not believe that Gladys really intended to refuse him. He felt the honor he was doing her so great that a girl in her senses must accept it only too gladly Then a scen that he had witnessed a little while before rose in fancy before his eyes-he saw again Gladys blushing as Leo twined a purple wreath about her hat, and the spirit of Cain rose in his heart as he coldly said " Gladys Evans, you shall bitterly repent this," and be turned to go. Suddenly he paused, and asked fiercely "Do you love Wylde I" Gladys crimsaned, and strove to spealk,but her wildly beating heart prevented her. Hodges looked at her keenly, and then said slowly and distinctly: "Curse him. I shall be revenged I" Gladys turned and flew in terror; running up the gully, now and again giving a frightened glance beck to see if Hedges was insight. He did not appear, and by and by, with a sigh of.relief, she walked slowly up to the camping ground, There she found all in confunsion, for a telegram had just been brought to Leo. It was from his solicitors, informing him that his affairs urgently re quired his immediate presence. Like his uncle, Leo was only a sleeping partner in the firm from which he drew the greater part of his wealth. A great deal of money had been lost owing to the suspension of one of the banking institutions, but he had every confidence in his partners, and thought they would weather the storm. It had been a year of great depression in all business Wilson had thrown everything into con Se?n.found he had only time to catch the evening train, and the party broke up suddenly, everyone feeling disappointed at the failure of the day's pleasure.