|Newspaper Title||The Australasian Sketcher with Pen and Pencil (Melbourne, Vic. : 1873 - 1889)|
|Trove Title||Crowned with Good|
??'? PAJRT I.— L'HOMME PROPOSE. ;: CHAPTER III. ,'
Mrs., Bushby's mansion, albeit built of wood, bore a very imposing appearance, and was surrounded by fine and extensive grounds, sloping to the beautiful Bay of Dunesk. The house itself possessed every comfort and many luxuries, and was withal furnished in excellent taste, while the gardens were almost
English in their variety of shrubs and trees, not indigenous to the New Zealand soil. Altogether, Mra. Bushby's pride was not unpardonable when she exhibited her property to visitors as a living witness to the artistic tastes of dear lamented husband. 'Now, my dear, here we are ; and there is Mrs. Bates waiting at the door to welcome us in true English fashion.' So said Mrs. Bushby, as the carriage which had conveyed the travellers from the station, after their short railway journey from the harbour, rolled Bwiftly along the drive. 'Do not forget, my dear, that you must be very civil to Bates, though she is rather a chatter box. She's not at all used to your high and mighty ways. She has quite the command over all the servants, I assure you, and even over me, I sometimes fancy. ' ' 'Why, Auntie, I hope you haven't come to the conclusion that /am high ,and mighty !' said Gertrude, amused. ' No, no, my dear. But your English ways with servants won't do at all, you'll find. Here we are,' and Mrs. Bushby flighted as the carriage drew up. 'Now, Mrs. Bates, and how are you?' and, to Gertrude's secret surprise, a very affectionate greeting took place between mistress and servant. Mrs. Bushby continued — ' I suppose you have prepared the north room as I told you in my letter, Bates? And have you attended very strictly to my orders ? For Miss Marriner is particular — English, you know.' Gertrude smiled resignedly, and allowed herself to be escorted to her chamber by the factotum, while the sound of her aunt's Voluble tongue pursued them up the stairs and along the corridor. A very pretty room had been assigned to Gertrude, airy and cool in summer, but quito cosy enough to be also a pleasant abode during winter weather. Mrs. Bates stood watching the eiVect of a *ew discoveries of her mistress's thoughtful care for the young Jttdy'B pleasure, as Gertrudo went from one picture to another, tearfully recognising old home favouriteB, which she had imagined were long ago sold. And who hung them where they used to be in the dear old
home drawingroom ?'? exclaimed Gertrude -at, '.'last,' turning;to Mrs. Bates. ' . ? . -.,..;??:!:-.- ..r:.-. ?~~r-t-;.-.- :,'???_' '' '' '. ' ,V ' -? ' I did, miss— Ieastways,..ypu,seej.missi8 had 'emjpacked with place for each writ on' the cover, so I; knew where to put '.'em,.- you see. . They; only arrived last' week, ahd-I was beginnin' io be - afeared they wouldn't come in time. ..You know, miss,' continued Bates, determined the young English-lady should appreciate her, although she might hardly lay claim to the gift of second sight in disposing the pictures precisely as they were in1 a room she had never set eyes on — 'You know, miss, I've lived with a many high fam'lies, and I know how they likes things done. , The.poor old Duchess of Winshalsea, I was with her for ten years, aud closed her eyes at the last, and the way she was that partic'lar about her food and ? ' „ 'Yes,' said Gertrude, with a dawning fear of future persecu tions,but in no mood to endure such at present ; '* and Lain sure I am extremely obliged to you for arranging everything so nicely. I think I will dress now for dinner ; I shall only, juat have time before 0 o'clock.' This hint had the desired effect, and Gertrude was left alone. She went to the large window, facing, north wards, and looked out. A grand view of hill and valley met her eyes, framed in the ruby glow of the setting sun, whose light' streamed in upon her from the western side of the casement, and shone with dazzling brilliancy upon a diamond on her left hand. The Hash caught Gertrude's eye, and she pressed her lips softly upon the jewel, murmuring — ' Yes, Lionel, I will be true to you, and I will believe, as I believe in your, noble nature, that you have good and suflicient reason for your request of secrecy. Yes,' ahe added, looking up, her face bright with the innocent devotion that filled her heart ; ' yes, I am not one to give my whole allegiance and then draw back. He may have to try me a thousand times, but I will not fail !' Time passed, and Gertrude had fairly settled down to the pleasant life of her aunt's.house. A strong feeling of affection had sprung up within her for her eccentric, but kind-hearted, relative, and the sentiment was warmly returned. Indeed, the childless old lady was very nearly idolising her charming niece, and spared neither inconvenience nor expense in ministering to her wants. Accordingly, Gertrude was pronounced by all to be a very fortunate young lady, and was envied, courted, and criticised most unmercifully by Mrs. Bushby's female friends. If, at
times,, she looked a little sad, it was, of course, attributed to the ? bereavement she had sustained a year ago in the loss of her ? father, who, since his wife's death' many years previously, had had the entire charge of her; - and it is true that, as the weeks went by, Gertrude missed more and more the gentle counsel, the unswerving rectitude of that beloved companion, for, unacknow ledged,but none the less real, came now and then a faint shadow on her happiness, prompting the fear — was she acting wrongly, was ? she succumbing to the sophistries of her own mind? Lionel visited the house frequently— he and his father having made Dunesk their head-quarters — and on almost every occasion had. 'i contrived a few minutes alone with Gertrude. Before leaving the ship he had, as the reader -will have gathered,, taken the fatal step which bound the poor girl to him as irre-' vocably as though the words had been spoken before a priest, . . making them man and wife in the eyes of the law. Gertrude had engaged herself to marry Lionel, but it was not this fact which caused her unhappiness. Never for a moment had any doubt of him clouded her mind. His having enjoined strict secrecy upon her only served to distress her on account of the ingratitude to her aunt this silence implied. At first she had endeavoured to move his decision, but the step having once been taken on the downward road, Lionel persuaded himself that he could not turn back, even. had it not been that Gertrude's gentle presence was so necessary to him now, that he felt he could not forego her love. ? ; 'Oh, Lionel,' she said, as they stood together on the terrace one balmy spring evening, 'can you not just give me the comfort ' of learning why I may not speak to my aunt? Much as I love you, darling, it is more dreadful than you can think to keep .her in ignorance of what affects me so nearly, when she has been so ? very kind.' ' Little one,' he answered, sadly, ' I have told you that I can give you no other reason than that my father would at once disown me if I married just now, or even if I became engaged. After a liime— don't you believe me, Gertrude?' 'Oh, yes' /-ith a iiuick confiding gesture), 'of course, I . believe antitrust you most implicitly, or things would never be as they are. I know you would not deceive me. I have an inward consciousness that you are as true as steel ; but you will forgive my having teased you so, will you not? It is so painful to me to meet your father that I sometimes feel inclined to run away when lie comes here. I feel quite guilty, too ; and, indeed, I am so, darling, for a dozen times a day some little thing happens to make me half betray myself, and then I have to cover the blunder with a prevarication. Only to-day Auntie came into my room whilst I had my trinkets out, and found among them your ring, Lionel, She was immediateiy surprised,
? I '± ? ? ? ? ? ] ? of course, and' asked me where I got it, as I had nothing so handsome hefore she gave me presents.' 'And what did you say, darling?' asked Lionel, his eyes fixed upon her crimsoning face in a very passio^n.'of'pityearidihali. remorse. But Lionel had yielded . himself too entirely to nis | fascination to allow remorse and shame to vindicate themselves:* Avith his conscience. v '-!A':- 'Hooked dreadfully uncomfortable, I know,' answered ,' Gei\- * tvude, ' and I stammered something about a friend hayinggiven it tome, but I thought it too handsome to be quite* in good taste for me to wear every day — I was too young. - Auntie7did'npt seem to notice that 1 was nervous; she only laughed, aridisaidi'L might wear it here without any scruples of that kind. But;phV; Lionel, I felt so wretched. And when I think — if papa knew— and perhaps he does know !' Gertrude shuddered. '?-?.?*,*.. ' Why, Gertrude, you little puritan ! I' don't wish.1 you kriqVi;. my darling, to make you one whit less good than you are, but;, indeed, this is not such a terrible sin after all ! -You have ho one to whom you owe implicit obedience,, and I am of age^aiid therefore presumably entitled to judge for myself. I think. my. father is wrong, and so, to avoid paining him and bringingabout annoying complications, I just take my own way in the matter ; and who can blame me for wishing. to. secure such a treasure before others have found its worth ?' Gertrude smiled. It certainly did seem absurd to trouble so much about a really very simple thing— -a .thing that almostany one would do in a like difficulty. She was over-sensitive, and would think no more about it. ? Alas, Gertrude, have you lived eighteen ? years in this, weary world, and not yet learned that no man can wander ever so short a distance from the narrow road without stumbling upon some temptation greater still, over which he will in all likelinood fall ?