|Chapter Title||A CHAMPION.|
|Newspaper Title||Mercury and Weekly Courier (Vic. : 1878 - 1903)|
|Trove Title||Ada and her Cousin Charles, A Tale for Victorian Boys and Girls|
ADA AND ' HER COUSIN CHARLES, - A TALE FOR VICTORIAN BOYS AND GIRLS. BY E. A. SAlMSON.:,: CUAPTER X. A ,young girl,. bursting into woman. hood, whose every thought is pure, and bight and sunny, whose heart is teem ing with the holiest, the best affections; one who, in each impulse, is unselfish, whose every action is . self-denying, -whose cares are all for: others ;simple in her tastes, and truthful in her'nature, mnay have some, occasional momeatsiof happiness but will have to endure
many. -more.-.of - apprehension. and of sorrow should she unfortunately link her fate with a man of erratic tendencies, one of no steadiness of purpose, with no fixed principles, though such prin ciples as he may have, need not neces sarily be bad ones. Such a girl as I have described above was Ada Fitzallen. She was a true woman ; striong of purpose, 'aid'stead fast in her earnest devotion to her cousin Charles Lindsay. All' her aims were noble. She was sweet and gentle in act and deed. Her life was as full of tenderness as it was of quiet dignity. She was one who would never cease to be meek and gentle, because she was firm; neither would -she ever-fail in firmnes, because -she- was meek -and gentle. I can but best compare her to those ideals of the poets, Beatrice and. Uia; or-to those historical "exemplars, Margaret Moore. Lady Jane Grey, and of later days; Florence Nightingale. I love to dwell at length upon her virtues and her character, because she is, fortu nately, of a type that has grown. into fashion, in- this present century of advanced 'enlightenment; state-schools, and "higher education." Girls, like Ada;,- now-a-days, are never over shadowed, swamped, or 'thrust into the back ground by others; of a less desir able sort. It is but to propagate the malicious invention of an enemy to the weaker sex to affirm that-the- chief object in life of no small numbers of the girls we meet with in our daily comings and goings is to outvie each other in the extravagance of their dress and their personal adornment, and so to bedizen themselves as to lead the unwary beholder to estimate their wealth as fabulous; as inexhaustible. It is as rare to stumble across a lisping, minc ing, self-conscious, animated bone and muscle scaffolding, for the display of silks and frills, and streamers, and high heeled boots, and sixteen buttoned gloves, and pull-backs, and chamois leather tights, and nastinesses and taw drinesses, as it is to fall foul of-well, let me say—a sea-serpent or a hippopota mus in the midst of the lovers' avenue in Fitzroy Gardens. It is libellous to say that any of the Melbourne girls are ever to be seen trudging homewards through the streets, wending their weary way from Mullen's Library with, expectant, anxious longings, over burdened with an enstrapped bundle of the highly-spiced novels of a Ouida or a Braddon. The books these studious, sweet young women spend their leisure hours with as fond companions, are histories, astronomies, travels, and contain within their marbled covers other wholesome mental pabulum fitted for the weak digestion of blushing girl hood. That man is worse than a cynic -he is the offspring of malignancy, and deserves ostracising from the society of all well-meaning people--who would even venture to think or hint that there were any dear young ladies in our midst simmering over with such poor pinch-beck imitation of the feminine superciliousness they would wish to assume if they knew how, who looking with contempt upon homely, honest hearted, manly worth, endeavour to attract as admirers by luring smiles and covert ' glances, the perambulating, vapid, empty-headed tailors' sign-boards that surge forth into Collins-street from the Government buildings and the banks, daily at four o'clock, post meredian, and who, consequently, find that business of the first importance always leads them when they "take their walks abroad" into that pleasant, public resort at the witching hour when these "curled darlings," thesebeflowered, highly-scented, highly-pomatumed and over-worked specimens of male hu manity are disgorged from their offices. Hence, to assert that those very sweet young creatures who frequent the block, as the Indian does his hunting ground, and for a not altogether dis-similar purpose, is to give currency to a cruel scandal; to aver that there are even a few who are ravenous for illegitimate prey, and seek to entrap it and to run it down in its favourite pasture grounds, is an odious calumny. All the marriages that are brought about in Melbourne, and these are not a few, I believe some sanctioned by parents and guardian., some, for sufficiently wise and valid reasons best known to the contracting parties themselves, sur rounded by a halo of secresy and romance-are happy ones. All the gudgeons and the minnows that the "sweet girl graduate" angles for, turn out, when landed, to be noble fishes. Never is to be witnessed in Victoria a union between folly and vanity. I deny that wretchedness and misery are ever the offspring of the mysterious alliances that we do occasionally hear of. No Victorian maiden is ever pert and flippant, or indiscreet in language, She is never self-willed, capricious, sour-tempered, but she is always good and'kind and obliging, a blessing toher family, a gleam of sunshine in her home, and a joy to her parents. And this because she is always well brought up, and has been judiciously disciplined; also has she been made to yield defer ence to her mother's wishes, who would never think of teaching her duplicity. And in addition, the duty of giving obedietice and paying respect to her teachers has been early instilled into hei. And this because hergoverniesses are neverneedy, ignorant, adventuresses b~ut highly-educated ladies, carefully selected by her parents after due con sideration on account of their mental superiority and good moral tone. -I am prepared to run a tilt against any recreant- knight who may have the temerity to maintain the contrary. It was a man of no weight, one Anthony Trollope-a mere newspaper scribbler, who first blazoned it abroad and beyond the seas that there were Gonerils and Regans to be met with amongst us. But he was an atrabilious fellow, suffer ing from dyspepsia, and a victim to an hallucination marked by so strong a wish to depreciate every social, colonial habit and custom, that his friends and medical attendants, in the poor creature's own interests, should have supervised every word that he had written, and re jected these aspersions before they had permitted his book to be published. It is monstrous to say that any girl born and bred in Victoria. of any pretension to respectability and position on the score of wealth, has ever formed an ill judged and an impromptu alliance with •.;i· . , -
a policeman, or a subordinate clerk, or a fourth-rate actor, or a cab-driver, or a milk.vendor, or an unfledged;student, or an adventurous medical practitioner, or with any of the "I'll back the field bar one" fraternity. As I have before shown, this would be an impossibility, for every girl is carefully guarded by her-mother, and watched over and trained by her governess, who is always a well cultured gentlewoman, never a cast-offladies' maid,nor a superannuated cook, nor a discarded housekeeper, nor a widow lady, chosen merely because of the fine house in which she lives and the fine furniture with which she is surrounded. Hence the influence of the ladies who devote their time and attention to the training and education of Victorian girls, they having them selves given many of the early years of their lives to the preparing of them belves for the office, and having due official guarantees- of their fitness, in tellectual and moral, for the responsi bility they assume, is of the happiest, and so unbounded that such a contre temps as a mdsalliance could never come to pass. Hold I enough I What have I been doing. I must pull myself up, else I shall be accused of penning ill-written essays instead of telling of the fortunes of my heroine and her betrothed. But a fit of the eaco`thes scribendi was upon me. A feeling of chivalry crept over nie. I felt that upon me devolved, for the present moment, the enviable task of championing the nascent mothers of the colony (would that an abler hand than mine could do it) and of repelling the unkind aspersions that have been sown broadcast-aspersions having no foundation in truth. I trust I shall not be accused of having taken liberties with my too confiding readers, and now exclaiming mea culpa ! I hope that my offence will be condoned, and so I proceed : Anxiously expecting him for whom her heart was yearning, picture to your self poor Ada's disappointment on see ing walk quietly into the room Edith's uncle, Mr. Grinnidge. He it was who had pealed the bell, a sound which had given rise to such hopeful anticipations in Ada's bosom. I have before spoken of this gentleman in connection with his profession, but his personal appear ance was so peculiar that I feel sure I shall be pardoned for giving some faint outline of it. He was a stumpy, fat, little man. In the midst of his face he had a protuberance, in shape not un like that that would have been assumed by a small lump of putty that had been forcibly thrown against some hard resisting substance and had subse quently adhered to it. This wonderful excrescence did duty for a nose. At its base, which was " tip-tilted," were a couple of portentous openings, which, had they been minutely peered into, would have afforded an easy inspection of the brains, if there had been any, to which they led. These cavernous orifices, it is almost needless to say, were his nostrils. At the apex of this abnormal, facial wonderment was a pair of eyes, and to the appurtenances of the tea and breakfast-table I must con descend for an illustration. They were, as plates - and saucers are, round, but here the simile ends, for they can only be further described as goggling, emo tionless, and of no decided colour. His forehead was high and full, hydro cephalic in contour, while his eyebrows were as shaggy as an opossum's tail. Surrounding all was a field of flesh, destitute of any hirsute ornamen . that had its limits, right and left, in a pair of ears, that for size and pendancy, might be compared, not inelegantly, to nothing more resemblant than those of a baby elephant. His hair, black mingled -with grey, trimmed Brutus fashion, bristled like a freshly-cut quick-set-hedge, and looked stiff and thick and tooth-brushy. The mouth was in keeping with his other features, awkward and ill-formed, but when opened, displayed a fine set of teeth, a sign of good health, a robust constitu tion and a well organized liver. What with his old-fashioned style of dress, his general air of surprise, and his podgy figure, yet really good-natured smile, he was a very type of Gilroy's quaint old country gentlemen, and was altogether a most comical-looking sample of trowsered humanity.