Chapter 61266454

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Chapter NumberI
Chapter Title
Chapter Url
Full Date1894-12-22
Page Number11
Word Count2003
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleClarence and Richmond Examiner (Grafton, NSW : 1889 - 1915)
Trove TitleSybil's Error. Or, How Sybil nearly Spoilt Ina's Christmas
article text

Sybil's Error :

.. : '?? OR, HOW' ' '

Sybil nearly Spoilt Ina's. Christmas.


. ".: .?' CHAPTER I.

A region of repose it seems,-- '

A place of slumber and of dreams,'

? Remote among the wooded hills." .

FAR away in the north-west of'Now.

South iWales; covered, with rich green creepers and shaded by tall «amphórs and stately poplars, stood a "large old-fashioned cottage. A more secluded, peaceful or pictur- esque spot could not well be ima- gined ; it was just the kind of place au . artist would go into i'aptures over. Behind were the " wooded hills;" on either side lofty trees, whose branches almost met. overhead. In front was à long and carefully-kept garden, and beyond that, about two hundred yards distant, flowed a little stream. Trees bordered on 'either side, water. lilies grew close to its banks, and a little boat, shaded by a large willow tree, was tied up by a rope to a smaller tree close by. It only , .wanted; six more weeks to Christmas, and, as may be imagined, the day had been an exceedingly hot one but" how, being about 3 o'clock, a , fresh , breeze had sprung up, and waved gently to and fro the branches of rf the trees:,; Everything '?;.; looked

beautiful. Nature seemed to woo all who were indoors, to come out and bask in the sunshine, : or cool themselves in the freshening breeze; The owner of. tho house and of the lands lying around was Mr. Melford, who, with his two daughters and two trusty servants, had'come there ¡some 15 years ago, six months after thér'déáth of his wife. ¡Doris, the

older girl, was now 20 years old. ' She ¿ad fair hair and laughing blue eyes, rbsy! cheeks,'and red lips, liko her mother had. \ Ina, who was two years younger, : resembled her sister very much. Her eyes were of ah indes- cribable violet hue, and much graver than. Doris', and (unlike any of the rest . of. the family) her hair was brown; ' They had staying with them1 at-the time a.'cousin, named Sybil Cleve, a tall beauty, with black hair and dark flashing eyes. Mr. Melford lad invited her to come and spend thé Christmas with them, thinking she . would be a companion for the girls. His offer had been eagerly accepted, and she had now been at Melford's a fortnight.

About ; halfTa-míle from, Melfo'rdV a* young man sauntored along tho side of lithe stream. His hat was pushed back; so that the breeze might cool îiis -brow. His face was handsome, iullof fire and power ; his eyes were of la, dark gray and heavily lashed ; liis brown curly hair clustered round a noble head, and his sensitive mouth gaye his face a singularly pleasant expression. He was walking with his eyes bent on the ground, his coat and gun carried over his shoulder. Suddenly he stopped, and half uncon- sciously came to his lips the words : .

" A sunshine in a shady place,

The snowdrop was her brow,

: Her cheek, her clear full-"

But why did he so suddenly stop? "What made his face grow so pale? There, not three yards from him, lying asleep with her shapely head resting against thetrunk of a tree, was a lovely girl her brown tresses waving inthe breezo, her lips parted in a smile. Hut now Gerald Howard saw what he had not seen before-coiled round her arm, its head almost touching her snow-white neck, was a huge spotted snake. Regardless of the

danger he was running, Gerald threw idown his coat and gun, caught hold bf tho snake close to its head, and wrenched it from the sleeping girl's arm. . The sudden movement wak

I ened her, and she sprang to her feet, gazing at the snake and its captor, alarm and terror shining from her large blue eyes.

" Don't oe afraid," said Gerald, walking over to her after he had killed the snake, "see it is dead now." Bat as he looked at her he saw she was still trembling, and that she had grown terribly pale.

" Sit down here," he added, gently, as he led her to a fallen tree, "you will be well again directly ; the fright has naturally shaken you a little.'

In a few minutes she was herself again, and had summed up enough courage to thank her preserver.

; "I don't know how to thank you enough,".she said, tears starting to her eyes. " Only for youl might now

be dead."

; "Don't say that," he replied. "I am only too. thankful that I pulled it off before it bit you." i

. " You might have been bitten yourself," she returned. "I should never have forgiven myself if you had." '?' r . ????

" Why, it would: not have been your fault," he laughingly responded. " You didn't put it there, did you?"

" No, indeed," she said shuddering. " But I suppose I had better be get- ting home now, they will be wonder- ing where I ami Will you come with me, and let me introduce you to papa? Oh'you mustn't refuse," she cried, thinkingi he - was going to decline. : "I should positively die of fright . walking . home by myself ; I should be fancying I could see snakes every where." 'Please, do come," she said, putting out her' hand with such an imploring little gesture that Gerald had not the heart to refuse (which, however, ' he ' had , no intention, of

doing.) . _

¡ "Of course, you know," she said when they had started, " I shall have to know your name before 1 can introduce you td papa. Mine is Ina

Melford, and yours '{'

i "Is Gerald Howard.", ... . ,

' " Have you any sisters or brothers, Miss Melford," Gerald asked, after they had walked a short distance in


"I have a sister, Doris," said Ina, " and she is older, than I am, so you see you mustn't call me Miss Melford, call me Ina, please, everyone does. See," she added, '.' we are nearly homo now.- There they j are, at the gate. That is Doris in. blue, and Sybil Cleve, my cousin, from Sydney, : is talking to her."

!. "I would know was your sister," said Gerald, " you aro very much alike. Is that young gentleman your brother,?" looking,at

her. ...... .

¡ " No," returned Ina (and Gerald noticed her cheeks flush). "That is Arthur Dale, one of our neighbours."

By this time they had reached the gate where tho others were standing, all wondering who the handsome stranger was. " Father,'' said Ina, "this is Mr. Howard.; You had better tell him," she ,said',,turning to

Gerald. "I.should not know how to

begin; you 'know I, didn't, seo the

first," ; v ? i

: " Well, tho truth is,' Mr. Melford," said Gerald,,"I came,:across your daughter lying, asleep, .nursing a large snake, its head: resting against her neck, and not thinking it a very safe companion; I pulled it : off her arm, and then put an end to it."

: " I don't; know how to thank you," said Mr. Melford,, taking Gerald's hand and shakmg it heartily¿,, "You evidently saved her life, ? it would certainly have bitten her ¡ directly she moved. Ina dear," he ¡added, turning to his daughter, " you must really, be more careful when you go out alone, you know, how afraid you are of snakes, andyou should be very thankful to Mr. Howard.

! "Oh.Lam.T am, papa,' cried Ina. " I cannot be grateful enough. ; You should have seen Mr. Howard when the start awoke me. Ho had his hand" round the snake just close to its head; I was so afraid it would bite him. But I beg your pàrdon;"' she broke off, "let me introduce you to my sistor,: This, is Doris, anti this Miss Cleye." '? <;> ': '.

',] Both Sybil, and Doris thanked Gerald for what he had done for Ina, but he'begged-them nipt: td' say any- thingmore aboutit;. ; "Anyone else Would.have done the same thing," he said "It was.nothing.' M

, i Ina then introduced him to Arthur Dale, and 'Doris: knew when, they shook hands that the young men would bo rivals. ;

! "Are you peoplo coming; in to have a cup bf tea ?" called Mr. Melford from the. verandah. "It is getting cold. Ina, dear, bring Mr. Howard in ; wo are not going to let him: run off yet." . . . .

i Sb Doris led the way into ; the large, cool dining-room, the.fothers follOWing. . ;,, . , ,.

I " Are you staying anywhere near .hore,'; Mr. Howard ?" Doris asked, when they were all seated. ,, : . .

"I am staying ' with. Mrs. Gray, answered Gerald. I only arrived yesterday. " Mr. Gray was an old friend of my father's; he asked nie to come and spend Christmas with him. ? ; ~ \,'. , .. t

, " Your, friends will miss you at home. Christmas time," said Ina, as she handed him his tea.

" Therè is no one to miss me but uncle," said Gerald, a slight shade crossing his fuce. "I have neither father, mother, sisters, nor brothers. My mother died before I was a year old ; my father followed her seven years afterwards. I thon went to live with my father s brother, who was my guordian. My aunt was more than a mother to mo till two years ago, when she died, leaving me only uncle. I came from Eng- land to Sydney two months ago, partly for pleasure, and partly to do somo business for my uncle. He is

very much attached to me, and

makes no secret of his intention of making me his heir. I had been in

Sydney six weeks when I met Mr. Gray, who asked rae to visit him, and here I am ; so now you have my whole biography."

They chattered on pleasantly for some time, till Gerald remarked that it was time he was going. "They will think I have shot myself," he said, laughingly, as be told them how Mrs. Gray warned them to be careful, because she was so very frightened of guns."

" I will walk with you as far as the Gray's," said Arthur, turning to him. " I pass there on my way home."

" Couldn't we all walk as far as the large oak tree," suggested Sybil ; " there would be no fear of meeting

snakes at this time."

So they all went together, tolling Mr. Melford they would not be long. " You will make yourself at home whenever you like, Mr. Howard," said Mr. Melford. "You have done me a service I can never repay."

. " You won't forget what papa said," said Doris, when they had reached the tree. " You must come over as often as you can. You can come with Arthur; he almost lives over here," with a side glance at Ina, which Gerald did not at all like. :

" Thank you very much, Miss Mel- ford," answered Gerald; "you are very, very kind. I shall be most happy to do as you wish. Good-bye, then, till-when shall it be ? Will to-morrow be too soon ?" > ???:.'< ; ;.

"Oh no," laughingly^ returned Doris; a world of mischief in' her eyes. " I thought you were going to say after toa." . i:-»-<

; " It would serve you right if I did;'' responded'. Gerald. "But I must' be f;oing now," i he added;? turning to na. "See, Miss Cleve is going back already. Au revoir, Ina;" - '' ' ...;'"'>'..'