|Chapter Title||Aileen Darrel, Aileen's Engagement, Irene's Strange Character|
|Newspaper Title||Kilmore Free Press (Kilmore, Vic. : 1870 - 1954)|
|Trove Title||Aileen's Troubles|
AILEEN'S TROUBLES. By Minnie Ahearn. Chapter 1.—Aileen Darrel. ' Busy Aileen ? The words were spoken by a man whose age might have been between fifty and sixty, He had a tall figure— something military about it— and his face must have been hand- some once. Indeed the highly arched eye- brows, perfectly shaped nose, blue eyes, wide forehead, and elegant carriage were handsome still'. Aileen Darrel turned quickly around. 'Not very, uncle, only writing letters. General Westlake seated himself on one of the comfortable chairs in his niece's boudoir. 'I've got news for you Aileen. ' Good news uncle?' asked his niece, 'Do tell me. 'Your cousin Rene escaped from the wrecked ship three years ago while— 'Escaped,' panted Aileen, her brown eyes flashing with excitement. ' Yes, saved,' responded the General. Three years ago General Westlake's daughter was drowned when returning from her convent in Italy, to Australia. Irene West- lake's mother died when she was born, and General (then Captain) Westlake had placed his infant under the care of a lady who was a dear friend of her mother's. Irene lived with the lady—Mrs Hevelyn—until she was nine years old, when she was placed in a con- vent. Her guardian, Mrs Hevelyn, who in spite of her peculiarities was kind to Irene, died shortly afterwards, and Rene was left at the convent until she was seventeen. The General could not get away from his regiment long enough to go to Italy to bring his daughter home. So he sent her god- mother, Mrs Vesey, an old lady whose hus- band was dead and who was childless. The ship in which they were coming to Australia was wrecked, only one of the sailors survi- ving. This man named Ford was picked up by a steamer, bound for Australia. He had recounted the whole of the story of the wreck to General Westlake. He had seen no more of Irene, since a falling spar had struck her on the head at the time she was clinging to some floating timber and she went down. General Westlake was a good deal shocked by the news but soon rallied, he could not be expected to feel passionate grief for a daugh- ter whom he had not seen since an infant. Shortly afterwards his widowed sister, Mrs Darrel, died, leaving Aileen, her only daugh- ter, in his charge. Very lovely was Aileen Darrel. Her form was just the average height, her hands and feet were small, and she had large hazel eyes with long curling lashes, and rippling golden brown hair. The general loved this girl, his only sister's child, dearly. Aileen was an heiress too. She would get twenty thousand pounds at her uncle's death. ' Yes, escaped,' went on the General— escaped to a fisherman's cottage and— 'How did she escape, uncle, tell me?' 'Irene went down as Ford told us, under the weight of an iron spar. She did not lose consciousness, however, but managed to cling to some more floating timber, which was wide enough for her to lie upon. She lay on this till morning when she found herself quite near the shore—the ship was wrecked not far from land and Irene waited until it had touched a bleak shore with savage rocks and then she leaped off. She soon found a fisherman's cottage and they nursed her there for a long time for she fell ill. Then she worked until she got enough money to pay her passage here. Her money of course went down with the ship. Irene is now on her way to Australia—this letter was written when she started. 'Why didn't she write, to you before, uncle?' asked Aileen in surprise., 'Perhaps she didn't know my exact address? 'Oh I am so glad uncle, so very glad for your sake. 'And for your own, too, I hope dear. 'Yes I am sure I shall love her. 'Irene's coming will take half your for- tune away, my pet,' said General Westlake slowly, stroking the golden brown head bent so near to his own. 'I could not in fair justice—— 'Oh do not talk of it, uncle Ingram, I don't want a fortune at all, indeed. Her uncle looked at her half smiling. 'Do you think you could give up the luxuries you have been brought up to so easily,' he said. 'I think I could.' 'Well,' said the General rising, 'do not think of doing so. Good morning . Aileen Darrel could write no more letters that day, so sealing the ones she had already written she sat down to think. 'Captain and Miss Bradley's in the draw- ing room miss,' Mary, the maid, appeared at the door. 'Very well, I'll be there in a minute, Mary. A few minutes later Aileen Darrel ascended to the drawingroom where Evelyn Bradly ran to meet her. A tall fair girl with honest blue eyes, curly brown hair, and a good figure, Evelyn Bradly certainly had a good many faults as far as beauty goes. Her mouth was too large, her nose was not straight enough for beauty, but she was good and true withal, and she and Aileen were great friends. 'Oh we've heard such news from the General,' she cried, 'you shall soon have a companion now Lena. 'Oh yes, did uncle tell you,' Miss Darrel saiid hurriedly. 'He did surprise me this morning, I—— 'So I should imagine,' broke in impetuous Evelyn. ' You leave a fellow in the cold altogether,' said Captain Bradly in an aggrieved voice as he turned from a window recess. 'I did not see you,' confessed Aileen, 'Well I had to make myself heard,' re- sponded the Captain, who was a tall pleasant looking young fellow with merry blue eyes and brown hair. 'I am so glad my cousin's coming,' Aileen said, again turning to Evelyn. 'Well I'm not,' interposed the Captain laughingly, 'we won't have half the fun then. 'Indeed no, we shall have more,' answered Aileen. 'Will you come for a ride Lena?' asked Evelyn.
'Yes, it is quite a week since I had one. Aileen Darrel had know the Bradly's since she was a child, and since she had come to live with her uncle she had become intimate with them. The three went for a merry ride this morning and afterwards lunched with General Westlake. It was talked of in the neighbourhood that Captain Bradly loved the General's niece. Chapter II.—Aileen's Engagement. 'Yes, my boy, I guessed it all along. The words were spoken by General Westlake, Captain Bradly had just told him, with a good deal of stammering, that his niece, Aileen, had promised to marry him, 'Why you look quite nervous man, did you think I would eat you up. ' N-no,' said the Captain, ' but Lena is in the garden. ' Well go to her by all means,' the General said, with a good humoured smile, for he liked Captain Bradly, apart from his having a private fortune, as well as his pay. The Captain did go and he was quite flurried when he reached Aileen's side. 'You look quite nervous,' Aileen observed as he came up to her. 'Yes I was, horribly so. I'll know better next time I hope though. 'Will you sir,' she said drawing herself up in mock anger. 'I don't suppose I'll ever get the chance again,' the captain replied mournfully. Then seriously, 'Aileen, your uncle does not wish us to announce our engagement for six months or so, he says you are too young. 'I am seventeen,' said Aileen. Captain Bradly hastily bade her good-bye half an hour later, and she went into dress for dinner. The General's daughter was expected home the next day and Aileen was full of im- patience. She longed to see her newly discovered cousin, The next day Aileen and General West- lake went to the station in the carriage to meet Aileen. They would have gone to meet the ship in which she sailed but very strangely she had not written and told them either the name of the ship, when she would arrive in Melbourne, or what train she should travel to Yarravale by. Very probably Irene is accustomed to travelling,' commented General Westlake, when Aileen mentioned this to him, never- theless he felt a vague sense of distrust at Irene's silence. What motive could she have for not telling the train she was coming by until that very morning. Of course not knowing this he could not go to Melbourne to meet her. He walked restlessly up and down the platform with Aileen until the train arrived. A tall slight girl alighted, a girl with coal black hair, large black eyes, pearly white skin and lips of a vivid rose color, a really handsome girl in the strictest sense of the term. A wave of emotion swept over General Westlake. This girl was his dead wife's child, and he clasped her passionately in his arms and covered her lovely face with kisses. Irene Westlake returned the embrace fervently, at least it seemed so to Westlake. Then she turned to Aileen. 'You are my cousin,' she said in her soft musical accents. 'Yes,' Aileen answered. Irene kissed her and shook her hand cordially, yet Lena felt a vague thrill of dis- trust. Then Aileen's cousin was helped into the carriage where she chattered gaily during the drive home, drawing a graphic account of her adventures. 'The storm was dreadful when the Beferent sank,' she said, shuddering at the recollection. 'The sky was so dark and the lightning was awful. I am never afraid of lightning now, I have never seen it since so bad as on that dreadful night. Telling of it makes me shudder. 'Well, after you got to the fisherman's cottage? ' queried the General. 'I was very ill for a time and when I got better I got a situation as governess until I got enough money to pay my passage here. 'Why didn't you write, Irene?' General Westlake demanded. 'I didn't know your address until I wrote to the nuns, then I thought I should write and surprise you all. This information was not very voluble, but General Westlake said no more. When they reached the house Irene said she was very tired—she had travelled a lot that day. ' You should have written and we would have met you in Melbourne,' General West- lake said, 'Come, I'll show you your room,' Aileen said. ' Shall I send you up some tea? 'No thank you,' was Irene's languid' re- joinder. ' I shall wait until dinner. When do you dine? 'At seven o'clock. ' I've got two hours to rest then. 'Tis only five now. Aileen conducted her to a pretty pink and white apartment, I hope you like the room, Irene' she said. Yes 'tis very nice,' throwing herself on a sofa. As soon as Aileen departed she sprang up locked the door and an expression of great delight on her features, looked over the artistic furniture arnd then in an ecstasy of delight exclaimed ' And this will all be mine. Oh; how lovely to be a lady to lie on these pink silk cushions. The old gentleman's got twenty thousand, too, ten to his neice and ten to me, I suppose. I must have the twenty though. 'Curious thoughts for Irene Westlake. Next she ran to the window. Oh, what a lovely view,' she murmured aloud, which indeed it was. The vast park heavily timbered, too. Peppercorns, pines, flowering cypresses and gums, the Iatter, common everywhere in Australia, grew in abundance about General Westlake's exten- sive park. 'Yarravale was a very pretty place,' was Miss Irene's mental decision, 'I like Australia.' All the evening she was cold and constrained and retired early. After she had gone Aileen crept up to General Westlake ' Do you like her, uncle ?' she whispered. 'I feel disappointed, child. I think she ought to have been different.
'So do I, uncle; but she was tired this evening you must allow. ' Yes she may be different to-morrow. 'Good night,' and Aileen rose and kissed his forehead. 'Tis only ten o'clock,' spoke General Westlake, looking up in surprise. I am going to bed early, uncle, I— 'Ah, yes you will have a fatiguing day hunting, Good night, dear. The morrow broke fine and clear and Cap- tain Bradly and his sister called for Rene and Aileen. The General never hunted since he retired from the army. Rene looked very bright and sparkling on the handsome black steed her father had in readiness for her. She rode beside Captain Bradly almost all the time, much to his chagrin. They soon arrived at the meet, where the elite of Yarravale were assembled—such as they were—Mrs Dalton, the lawyer's wife, who according to public opinion ought to be at home minding her children. Vulgar people substituted the word kids for children. Captain Everton and Lieutenant Neville, the two gentlemen who were to dine at General Westlake's house that evening, were not badly off, they had their pay and only them selves to support, They had a good day's hunt and Rene en- joyed it very much, ' The first time she had hunted in her life,' she told Captain Bradly, Irene, Captains Bradley and Everton, Lieu- tenant Neville, and Aileen rode home to- gether. Rene admired the country as they went along. ' You have never seen wattle trees, I sup- pose, Miss Westlake ?' Captain Everton said. 'No. What are they like? 'Look here are some,' the captain said. 'What pretty green leaves,' she cried, . 'They will be lovely when out in bloom. 'What colour are they? ' Yellow, a very pretty shade of yellow. The country was extremely pretty about Yarravale. There were lovely tree ferns on the mountains and in the gullies, while wattle and gum trees grew in abundance on the flats as well as on the mountains. The General's house was a large handsome building and as he was very fond of the country he generally remained, going to Melbourne for a few days when ever he felt inclined. Irene appeared at dinner in a dainty pink satin dress and Aileen in pale blue silk. Captain Bradly took Aileen into dinner and the rest followed in order. After dinner Irene strolled across the lawn with Captain Bradly. 'The grounds are very nice here,' Rene said. 'Oh, yes, General Westlake has good taste,' he: answered, coldly. He would much sooner have Aileen for his compan- ion. 'Where is the conservatory?' Rene asked after a few more remarks. 'I will show you. You don't know your way about the house yet, I suppose?' 'No, I've never been over it yet. 'Oh, what a pretty plant,' Captain Bradly cried as he showed Rene some of the plants. 'It wasn't here when I was here last,' and he held the pot so that Rene could see it, his back turned to the drawing room door. Miss Westlake glanced up and saw Aileen on the point of turning into the conserva tory. She lowered her head, cast down her eyes, and smiled, aud then when a few moments later she looked up Aileen was gone. The first step towards separating them she thought. Then aloud— ' We had better go back to the drawing room. The others will think us lost. 'Yes,' agreed the captain. ' Come,' said the lady calmly, 'here's a nice window seat,'—this as they entered the draw- ing room. The Captain had nothing to do but comply with her request. Aileen had indeed been searching for Irene and hearing voices in the conservatory had hastened thither, and seeing her cousin's attitude had stepped hastily back and was talking and laughing quite gaily when Cap- tain Bradly and Irene entered the room. Chapter III.—Irene's Strange Character. When Miss Westlake retired to her room that night instead of going to bed she began to write— 'Dear Gordon,— 'l think I've managed things success= fully. I've already partly estranged Aileen Darrrel and her lover. You only need twenty pounds for the present, you say, and I've just received my quarterly allowance of exactly twenty pounds, but I must keep five —I might need it. Quien sabe? You must come here to see me without delay. My darling, I feel so lonely without you. You will find cheque enclosed. 'Your fondest Alma. Having penned this epistle she rapidly paced the floor. ' What if after ruining my own life and that of three others he should refuse to marry me. Oh! he will. He must,' she exclaimed passionately and aloud. 'He loves me. Yes he loves me, and how can I think like this? He told me himself that he loved me, and with a few more passionate words she went to bed. Meanwhile Aileen went to her room, but not to sleep. The tears ran down her flushed cheeks. He loved me before she came, loved me dearly, and her handsome face captured him. Alas ! how fickle men are.' These were the thoughts that chased each other through her mind as she undressed for bed, Aileen was bright and sunny next day. Irene would never have cause to think that she was jealous of her. Irene posted her letter and received the answer two days afterwards. 'My Dearest,— I will be down on Friday, of course I cannot make my presence known, but you must watch for me and meet me about 3 o'clock. The fifteen pounds will not suffice so you must get me more money. Yours as ever Gordon. ' I think we'll go and see those falls to- day,' General Westlake said at breakfast. I'll send the groom over to Bradly's for Athol and Evelyn.' Irene flushed and a triumphant light flashed in her black eyes. General Westlake said he would drive and those who preferred driving to riding would come with him. Aileen and Evelyn said they would drive at once and Captain Bradly
glanced doubtfully at Irene for a moment and said he would ride. 'So shall I' declared Irene. Aileen Darrel saw the glance. 'If she rides he will,' she thought. Captain Bradly had never dreamed that Irene would ride—the others were driving surely she would. All the way to Yarravale falls—miniature waterfalls situated in a picturesque place— Irene rode beside Captain Bradly. They all put their horses to the fenced when they reached the falls. 'Oh, how lovely,' cried Irene as they neared the falls. ' Oh,'tis beautiful. Here one could rest; could dream to the soft splash of the water, 'Oh; I should never wish to behold a human face could I forget the sorrow, the despair, the: hopelessness of life in this heavenly spot. Irene had spoked passionately, true feeling depicted on every feather. 'The spot is certainly beautiful,' Aileen rejoined. 'And romantic,' added Captain Bradly. Yarravale falls were very lovely the water came down in silver cascades over an im- mense rock. The foam blew high in the air and the musical splash, splash of the water mingled with the sweet notes of the mag- pie, the tweet-tweet, and the soft war- bling notes of the other birds combined with the gentle sighing of the wind among the trees and the echoes from the neighbouring mountains, produced an agreeable effect on the ear, while the eye was enchanted by the picture that lay before it. To the north Mount Benvore towered its lofty summit to the sky, a mountain profusely covered with trees upon whose leaves the first bright green of spring was touching. To the west lay a spur of the Dividing Range looking hazy in the distance. The rest of the country was composed of gentle little hills and pretty valleys. On each side of the falls were two immense gum trees, a favourite resort of mag-- pies and other birds. Now and then a home- stead peeped out from among the sloping hills, and the village was plainly discernible from the top of a hill. About the falls were some pretty treeferns, and lovely maidenhair fern grew in abund- ance. The party stood still for a while and lis- tened to the various sounds, then Rene broke .the silence. ' I wish I brought my sketch book' she said. 'We had better have some luncheon, I think' General Westlake declared, ' After- wards we will drive up Mount Benvore. The proposal was readily acceded to and the girls proceeded to get luncheon out of an immense basket. There was milk, cold 'pie, homemade bread,' and honey and plenty of fruit Irene seated herself beside Captain Bradly on a rocky ledge; Lena and Evelyn beside General Westlake. After the luncheon they drove up Mount Benvore— right to the top. To the north of the mountain there was an immense plain— no pretty scenery there; on the other side the same pretty view that was seen from the falls. They remained there for an hour or so and then drove back to the falls in time to see the magnificent sunset. 'Here's a seat,' Irene Westlake said play- fully to Captain Bradly, tapping a rocky ledge on which she was sitting-—the rest of the party were a good distance away, com- pletely out of earshot. Irene had strolled away from them herself and upon gaining this rocky ledge had beck- oned to Captain Bradly. Aileen Darrel gazed after them, humiliated pride in her soft, hazel eyes. It seemed so natural for Irene to move away with Athol. 'I suppose he thinks I'm inspired as soon as he looks on her rich dark beauty. I am sorry I accepted him and he is sorry he proposed. Goodbye to happiness, my cousin has ruined that.' These were her bitter thoughts as she watched Irene and Athol seemingly so happy together. As for Captain Bradly he began to think it curious that Irene always asked him to go with her everywhere. He never seemed to be alone with Aileen and she seemed rather to avoid than seek his company. Irene didn't give him much time to think, how- ever. 'Oh, what a lovely sunset,' she exclaimed. 'Does the sun always set like this in Aus- tralia? . 'No. Rarely like this. There was another expressive silence, Athol thinking how lovely it would be to have Aileen at his side. Aileen who would understand his every thought. Such a sunset as seen to-night would rarely be seen anywhere. The last rays of the setting sun lit up some fleecy clouds with a golden sea. Now, a pinkish light tints the gold, making a charm- ing contrast. ' Oh ! look at the water falls,' Rene cried. Athol turned his head. The water was looking like burnished gold rolling over the rocks, the silver cascades of the morning were bounding over rocks and the colour was changed to golden. ' Come we will go to the others now,' Athol rose and offered Rene his arm, which she accepted. ' Come, we'll yoke up the horse, Bradly,' the General said. The girls picked some ferns and then drove or rode to General Westlake's, where Evelyn and Athol were to dine with the family. The next day (Friday) Irene spent the most part of the day after luncheon in the balcony, until she at last descried a tall, slight form coming down the road that led past her father's house. Well she knew that form—aye—and loved it. Hastily springing into her room she put on her hat and took a look at her face in the mirror. The reflection startled her—a flushed face with sparkling black eyes—so different from her usual pale face. Spring- ing down the staircase she ran towards the shrubbery gate just as that tall form reached it. 'Oh! you have come at last, Gordon,' she cried, springing into his arms; 'Yes, my Alma. Are you glad to see me?' 'Glad! Oh ! Gordon, you don't know how glad. He drew her closer to him, put his arm round her waist, and kissed her red lips.
'I had better go, Gordon. It wouldn't do to be seen here with you. ' We'll meet to-night, Alma.' I'll hide in this dense wood,' pointing carelessly to a thick wood close by, and as Irene went into the shrubbery he walked into the wood. As Irene went on she heard the voices of Aileen and Captain Bradly. Aileen's was cold and resolute and the Captain's cold, even haughty. Irene stopped a moment concealed by some overhanging boughs. 'Very well, Miss Darrel, I think we had better part. 'I am sure of it,' Aileen said calmly and sadly. Irene waited to hear no more, she was amply satisfied. She reached the house by another way thinking 'I'll not disturb them.' She robed herself in exquisite white muslin for dinner, during which Aileen was more silent than usual. After dinner she drew the General towards a window seat. 'Uncle, I have something to tell you now, I— ' Well, what is it? A great secret? 'No, not exactly. I have broken— Here she paused, it was hard to finish, the sentence. ' A mug; suggested Captain Westlake. ' No, my engagement. ' What I The General was thoroughly serious now. 'Why did you do it? 'I had good reason,' was the evasive response. 'What good reason had you?' he asked, gently. He knew her reasons pretty well, for his daughter Rene had monopolised the Captain whenever he came to see Aileen, which he did almost every day. ' I cannot tell you. 'Well, I know it, I think. Miss Irene Westlake had been watching them from the other end of the room, a curious glitter in her black eyes. She now joined them, as Aileen rose and said that she was going to her room and bade them good night. Rene was just following her example when the General called her back. 'Irene,' he said, sternly, 'your cousin has broken her engagement with Captain Bradly. Irene looked surprised, and raised her eye- brows. 'You ought not to be surprised,' her father said more sternly. You, who took him away from her. 'I—took—him— away—from—her,' Rene said, in pretended surprise. ''Yes, you,' he went on, his temper rising, and speaking scornfully. But Rene had a temper, too, as she soon let him see. ' And could not your beautiful niece keep the Captain to her facinating self?' she said, her black eyes gleaming and her cheeks flushing. 'Yes, she would not follow him about the way you do, though. My niece is a lady. 'I don't care what she is,' and Miss West- lake turned and left the room and going to her own chamber threw a heavy fur cape over her shoulders. She left the house after- locking her door. Gordon Casati was at the garden gate waiting for her. 'Have you been waiting long, Gordon? 'Only a few minutes. 'Listen, Norma! You are to get me some money, to-night. I hardly have enough to spare to pay my board at the hotel. 'Haven't you got that twenty pounds I gave you ? 'Yes, but I want that and more to give to old Perry,' he rejoined impatiently. 'I hope I'll get some, Aileen Darrel might have her quarterly allowance in her bureau, She got her's the same time as I got mine. 'Don't meddle with that. I'll take that and Aileen's together,' he said. 'Take what you can from the General but don't meddle with Aileen. ' How anxious you are about her,' she res- ponded coldly. You could go and take the money now the old fellow will be in the drawing-room. Irene turned without a word and Casati watched her thinking: With all her temper all her haughtiness, an endearing word from me would make her my slave. I shall take Aileen away when I get her and she shall never know where we are until I chose to return and then the old love will revive. Meanwhile Irene went into her father's room and finding some silver amounting in all to a £1 on the dressing table she pocketed it and did likewise to a five pound note she found lying near. Then hurrying back she gave the money to Gordon Casati. 'You've got exactly what I wanted my dearest,' he said with a sardonic smile, so good night, and he left her. 'Aileen will soon be disposed of,' was the thought as she wended her way to her room, 'and I" will have the fortune.' (Continued in next issue.) onihorsea and losing them.ys? ti ?? i :--lHe backed a horse at-a race meeting :thia summer, and it won. - Tne.boolkmaker, however, had disappearedr Swhen Chippy went for his winnings. I 'Never mind,' said' Chippy, philosophically, '"if'he'd stopped to. pay what I won, the hiors?l 1backed would: have been. sure to .loses; .iWhat sort of impression did Claria'ayoung man make on you." -' When:Ifirst:met him. '. - . I Well, he was scorehing with his hea&, down, and'the impression he made. upon me-was a~ bruise : didl'ns get over ~ for a 'When jteacups.become discolored a little salt or sapolio raubbed on will remoave. the. If-soot is spilled on a carpet it may.. be readily ?wept up if.covered first with salt or Indian meal. 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