Chapter 59574897

See chapter in newspaper

Chapter NumberII
Chapter Url
Full Date1878-07-20
Page Number3
Word Count2039
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleMercury and Weekly Courier (Vic. : 1878 - 1903)
Trove TitleAda and her Cousin Charles, A Tale for Victorian Boys and Girls
article text

CHAPTER II.L EDITH HAZELDEANE. SEATED at a round table on which is placed a shaded lamp are three persons. It is a winter evening, and a cheerful fire is blazing on the hearth. There is an air of comfortable easy circumstances in all the little appointments of the room. One of the three persons at the table is a young girl verging on twenty years of age, a pretty blonde with gentle blue eyes and light auburn hair, whose features, though not perfectly regular, have a charm of their own which is irresistibly pleasing and at tractive. Her hair, combed neatly off her forehead, falls in long waving tresses down her neck and shoulders, displaying a face which bears the im press of frankness and of amiability. Her christian name is Ada, and she is cousin to Charles Lindsay, the young man whom I have casually brought under the reader's notice in the pre ceding chapter. Seated by Ada is another young girl of about the same age, equally noticeable for her neatness of dress and her pleasant manners. Imagine a laughing face, dark sparkling mischievous eyes, rosy lips, a ti y dimpled chin, a nose rather small th-.? well-shaped, a countenance on the whole more full of fun than of pretti ness, and you have the portrait of Edith Hazeldeane, a brunette, the friend and confidante of Ada. The trio was completed by a young man, also abou twenty or thereabouts, exceedingly ug and ungainly, deeply pitted with t small-pox, large-nosed, low-browed, w tery-eyed, anda pervading air of idiot deference and timidity, a manne by-the-by not generally observable among Victorian adolescents, who are usually more remarkable for their ob trusiveness than for the reserve of their demeanour. This young man, whose dress, though neat, is anything but fashionable, is reading aloud to the two young ladies who are occupied with their needles. And it must be admitted that his reading is not characterized by fluency and pleasing modulations of the voice, but by a tedious monotony of tone and a great hesitancy of speech. Stumblingly he proceeds "In the midst of the sombre forest arose an old chapel, which was falling into ruins. and in which the owls and the bats had taken up their abode, the brave and undis nayed Alphonso" ... " Oh! good gracious me, Mr. Pip kins, how very wretchedly you are reading," said Edith, interrupting the young man in the middle of the sen tence. "You go on, and on, and on, without once stopping, and you mix up the sentences so, that I don't un derstand a bit what it's all about." "Excuse me, Miss Edith, I stop carefully at all the commas and the semicolons." " Well, I can't make out whether it is the brave Alphonso, or the bats and the owls, that have taken up their resi dence in the ruined chapel." " I will recommence then, Miss Edith, and try to read so as to please you better." which the owls and thebatshad takenuptheir abode-(fll sto). Thebrave and undismayed Alphonso--comma), did not fear to penetrate into the darkest re cesses of the ruins at the hour of mid night . . .. "You wouldn't have had courage enough to do that, Mr. Pipkins." "How do you know, Miss Edith ?" "Because I think you are a bit of a coward, sir." "I am not, I will admit, a rash, hotheaded, foolhardy.younig man, but I beg of you to believe me when I say, Miss Edith, that, if you were in any danger, and if : had to rescue you from any peril, .-no matter how great the risk might be to myself, nothing would deter me. I would dash through every obstacle'to save you." "And yet we are idalways-obliged to show you a light on the staircase when you are passing from one room to the other in the dark. ! Yodn are afraid to trust yourself anywhere out of doors alone and unarcompanied after ten o'clock at night" .. "The truth is, the oilcloth in the passage is so slippery, that I-am afriaid

of stumbling in the dark and hurting myself And then, the thieves that are about after nightfall - "Ha! halhal Yes,certainly. I see it all now. The more light there is the less slippery the oilcloth. Well, that is a capital joke for you. Ha ha! ha! You must excuse me for laughing so much, but your explanation is so ridiculous that I cannot help being amused at it. But that will do now; you have drawn yourself out of the dilemma splendidly, and refuted my accusation of cowardice most elo quently. Now do, pray, go on reading, and let me beg of yon not to stop so frequently, else you won't get through a chapter this evening." .... "into the darkest recess of the rins at the hour of midnight--(ull stop). The morn rose at the time shining in all its bright effulgence-(comma), and its pene trating rays gave birth in the forest to a thousand weird shapes." Oh dear, whatever has become of my needle ! I had it in my hand just now. I wouldn't lose it for anything. I can't possibly get one like it unless I go to Melbourne. Oh dear! Oh dear, what shall I do without it! It is the only one of the kind I had. I am really unlucky. I shall have, after all, to put down my work. Never was such an unfortunate girl as I am." " Shall I help you to look for it on the carpet, Miss Edith," said Mr. Pip kins, laying his book on the table, and groping about on the floor on his hands and knees. " Oh no, thank you. Here it is. I have just found it sticking in the tablecloth. Now do sit down quietly, take up your book and go on reading, and don't stop again under pain of incurring heavy displeasure." .. . "in the forest to a thousand weird shapes-(comma). which would have caused a deep terror to any one but the valiant and noble knight--(full atop):" Mr. Pipkins, what have you been doing with my thimble ? I know you must have tumbled it on to the floor when you went down into that ridicu ious position just now to look for my needle. What do you mean, sir, by being so clumsy. You shall not sit at the table again for the rest of the even ing if you disturb my work any more. You are the most awkward man I ever met. I must find my little ivory thimble at once. Now don't dare to move, sir, else you'll be sure to tread on it and break it all to pieces, and then whatever should I do? And it was a present from my uncle, who seldom gives me anything." "I do assure you, Miss Edith,-" "I won't have any excuses, Mr. Pipkins. You are the most incon venient man to be seated at a lady's work-table that it is possible to know. Oh dear! oh dear! where is my thimble ?" "But, Miss Edith, I have never stirred, and I am sure I would not touch it for all the wor " " Will you be silent, sir, at once. Don't venture to move from your chair or shift about, but look all Iround the room; pry into all the corners, and see if it is not lying anywhere on the floor." " Why there it is, Miss Edith, lying in your lap all the time with your pin cushion and scissors." "1Then why didn't you tell me so before, instead of giving me all this trouble. I was in a perfect fright lest you should have trodden on it. How can you possibly be so stupid ? Now then, why have you stopped reading again ? Just at your old silly tricks as usual. Don't you hear me tell you to go on with the book ? Begin at once, sir, when I order you, and I hope you utions for the future, u behave yourself ing us lose the with your stupid now and then. nd the plot if you olish remarks, and th, let me explain; "H ow r you, sir; not another word. Go on reading immediately, else we will banish you the room." And she looked up at her friend Ada with a roguish twinkle in her eye. 'Now, please do go on Mr.Pipkins, and I'll forgive you this time if you promise not to offend again by pausing at the interesting places in the tale." . .. . but the valiant and noble knight,- (commn), whose courage had never been known to fail him-(full stop). The young AIlphonso-(-comma), drawing his sword from its scabbard "Oh, what nonsense, Mr. Pipkins; how very absurd. As he had to draw his sword, it is very certain he must have drawn it from the scabbard. What else was there for him to draw it from? He hadn't stuck it into any one, had he? Now, just attend to me, Mr. Pipkins; you have added that silliness about the scabbard yourself. That's how it is we can't understand the plot You put in nonsensical words just as they come into that silly head of yours. And then you leave out all the hard words that you don't know how to pronounce. Now, confess, isn't that what you are always doing?" "Oh! dear no, Miss Edith. I can assure you I wouldn't do such a thing on any account It would be so unfair to the author. I never add any words, nor leave any out I always read straight on." "Yes, and always in the same drawl ing tone of yoice too." '" Look at the' book yourself, Miss Edith, and-see with your owi pretty eyes if I have added anything. See, there is the word 'scabbard.'" Oh, no ! I can't be bothered looking at your old book. And, besides, you are not to dare to make any rude r marks about my eyes, orany other of my features. I will discardyou for ever, if yon venture upon such an impertinence again. Now, do you intend to go on reading or not, Mr. Pipkins? I find it is useless for me to speak to you. Yon will not improve; you are incor rigible. You are always doing or saying something or other that you shoilda't. But do let .me beg of you most earnestly not to stop reading as you do every other miniute. You are.making us lose all interest in -the tale. I suppose. Alphonso drew his sw-rd to defend himl" CginVtan owl thas had flown in his face, .or was I? a big beetle that had si~aild higz ( Now, Mr. Pipkin, we are all attention ; will

;you then oblige 'us bygoing eon:again efrom justiwhere you, left off stupidly. to lain parts of'my-face?, With a sigh of Tdespair Mr;.Piplins continued---.: ... . "drew his sword from its scabbard, entered without hesitation or trepidation ,into the old chapel, causing the rust "I say, Ada dear, does that doleful tale amuse you ? I don't like it at all. "Mr. Pipkins n ver does choose a nice book to read to us. I prefer some thing livelier. I can't bear to listen to anything that doesn't make me laugh. make impropea observations about cer Besides, thathorrid creatures isreading worse than "ever tb.night; and he is 'stopping at every-second line or so. Why, when I hear him droning out the words'I fancy I can hear an old clarionet out of tune blown into by a blind beggar. Saying this, Edith, with a simulated .yawn, commanded poor badg ered Mr. Pipkins to shut the book at Sonce, to go and seat himself by the fire, and not to speak another word until he had first her royal leave and license to open his mouth. With a despondent and gloomy look upon his face, the un fortunate young man-obeyedhis capri cious tormentor, and closing his book withdrew from his place by the table to the one he had been so peremptorily ordered to occupy. (To be continued.)