|Chapter Number||II. (CONTINUED.)|
|Chapter Title||MR HANDSLIP IS INTRODUCED-MRS PSYCHE HANDSLIP AND HEBE-SICK ROOM AND DEATH- INTRODUCTION OF LYND|
|Newspaper Title||Clarence and Richmond Examiner and New England Advertiser (Grafton, NSW : 1859 - 1889)|
|Trove Title||John Brown and His Dog Faithful|
HIS DOG FAITHFUL
REV. E. W. HOLDEN.
LAWRENCE, CLARENCE RIVER, N. S. W.
CHAPTER II (CONTINUED.)
Now she had shaken the dice of a worldly woman and lost, staked her all (self) and was bankrupt,— a bitter pill for her. She forgot that she was a mere adventuress when Mr Handslip married her, that Mr Handslip was a gentleman, and while she was— ah ! well, we will call it a mesalliance.
Mr Handslip, seeing how things were drifting from his wife's words and actions, became more reticent about his affairs when making final arrangements with his creditors,—so certain transactions and business ar- rangements he told her not of, and he considered
Hebe too young to take into his confidence.
So Mr and Mrs Phsyche Handslip, and the child Hebe, arrived in Melbourne, the father to die, the widow to lament her lot, and the child—the reader
will in due time see.
The weather-board cottage where the Handslips were quartered had been taken by, them as a fur- nished house, rented on the wharf on their arrival, without being seen. So Mr Handslip was carried from the ship to the cottage. He felt he was dying, and when the Æsculapius that was called in, verified this by saying he had but a few days to live, he asked the doctor if he knew his brother, one Simon Lyndhurst Handslip, a lawyer, generally called " Lyndhurst Handslip, barrister."
The doctor did, and slightly shook his head; which was not seen by Mr Handslip.
The address was given, and the man of physic departed with his fee, shaking his head in an ominous manner.
The address given by the physician was,
" S. Lyndhurst Handslip, Esq.,
Before we proceed, something must be said regard- ing this Lyndhurst Handslip, who was staying at tho same hotel as John Brown and Achates, and was summoned to his dying brother's bed-side the day our story and reminiscences open. When the mes- senger arrived from the dying man, at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, Lyndhurst was stretched full length on a settee in the smoking-room, reading a French novel, and smoking a strongly-seasoned briar pipe.
When the messenger told him of his brother's arrival and dying state, and that he requested his immediate presence, Lyndhurst was much surprised, for he knew not of his brother leaving England, or in any way of the cause, so the news of his brother's arrival and state, came upon him unexpectedly.
This brother, who was the older, had been a good brother to him, aiding him with money to finish his course of study, and when he found Lyndhurst could not make headway in London, but was elbowed on one side by more fortunate men of the same craft, jostled here and there in the crowd of lawyers, he advised Lyndhurst eventually to carry out his own oft-expressed wish, to go to Australia and push his fortune there.
His words were, " Lyndhurst, my only brother, I
don't like to lose you ; but I see you are more and more dissatisfied with England, and want to go to the El Dorado, Australia. I won't be a bar to your wishes ; every impediment I will remove to your going. Take this cheque, and pay any outstanding accounts, and when you have decided to go, come to me, and you shall have all the money you require to further your wishes, and start you in Melbourne."
Lyndhurst wrung his brother's hand, and a week afterwards was on his way to Victoria, and when he landed he had £260 in his pocket, given him as a " nest egg " by his brother.
Lyndhurst had changed much since his arrival in Melbourne—changed for the worse. Horse racing and idleness being his curse, he mixed himself up with betting and snorting men on his arrival, got in with a bad clique—undesirable set—and it was the old story. " A foot and his money soon part." Then he mixed himself up in court with some very dirty cases, and lost status thereby.
This course he unfortunately continued till he became a pettyfogging attorney, so as to eke out a living the best way he could.
The brother in England knew nothing of all this, for Lyndhurst wrote him cheerful letters. Lynd- hurst had ability, but it was of the low cunning type. When he found he did not receive that recog- nition from his brother pleaders he considered was due to him, his thoughts flow back to his brother in England, his own poverty and his brother's plenty. So at last he determined to write to his brother for money, and he did so, only one month the day before the reader is introduced to him. Careful was he in
what he said in that letter ; his pen spoke not of trouble or difficulties ; he filtered his ink well before he wrote, spoke of his position with the pen of a ready writer, and pointed out that he only wanted a larger capital to make his fortune by investing in land. Had his brother received the letter, he would have thought Lyndhurst visionary; he asked for money on his brother's behalf, to purchase land for Hebe(she, he knew, was his brother's weak point), pointing out ere she came of age, the land would be worth a fabulous price. Had Lyndhurst got the money, it might have gone in land. Some portions of the letter were half truths—the very worst kind of lies ; some portions were, what he called white
lies, but to a right-thinking man, they were black with iniquity. The whole letter was worthy of the
Take a glance, reader, at Lyndhurst as he stands before the messenger in the smoking room. A man of medium height, about twenty-six years of age ; short, sandy hair on a badly-formed head ; large ears and a receding forehead ; small, sharp sunken grey eyes, with but scanty eyebrows, with a very undesirable mouth and chin ; poverty-stricken, closely cropped sandy or red whiskers ; full faced, short necked, and hands that seems never at rest. Such was S. Lyndhurst Handslip, once barrister of Lin- coln's Inn, London.
" My dear brother in Melbourne and dying," he said to the messenger, when he heard the verbal news. Wait, man, and I will be with you as quickly as possible."
Lyndhurst left the room, and dressed himself in his best, soliloquising, '' I trust this is going to be a windfall to me. . . . . . . . . . . .What has brought him to Melbourne I wonder ? Perhaps to start in busi- ness? Well, I shall soon know. I must put in a good appearance, and act according to circumstances. If he wishes me to be trustee say for Hebe, then I am a well-to-do barrister. If all that was settled in England ere he left—all his wealth willed to her, I must be a struggling barrister. 'Mum's' the word, about descending in the social scale. Whew. Mrs Grundy, he is dying. You are sub silentio. I must try and get some feathers for my nest, some picking of the fowl, if only a wing and piece of the breast.
I wonder what kind of a woman this No. 2 is, a virago or not? I know nothing of her ; he simply mentioned his marriage, in fact most reticent elder has been. I wish he had not married again, for all the old folks are dead, and Hebe has no one on the mother's'side. All would have been plain sailing then ; I would have been guardian without a doubt. Hang Mrs No. 2."
So Lyndhurst self communed till he rejoined the messenger, and drove away to the weatherboard cot- tage.
Very conflicting thoughts passed through the brain of Lyndhurst, as the cab whirled along from Kew to the city. The whisking motion of the vhicle was not more rapid than his thoughts. At last he became impatient, and cast off his bile on the Jehu, for his (what he thought) slow driving.
At last the two-roomed house was reached.
Mrs Phsyche Handslip received Lyndhurst very graciously,—too much so, for there was a degree of pat- ronage about her manner. She, like many other of the worldly-minded, when they are playing a self con- sideration part, overshoot the mark. Keeping her hauteur in abeyance, she went to the other extreme ; this was not lost on Lyndhurst, who, from his train- ing, quickly gauged the pros. and cons. of character.
Did Mrs Phsyche Handslip know why her dying husband had sent for his brother, she would have laid an embargo on his entrance to the sick chamber, but she looked upon her husband's wish as only a stoic and dying man's whim. To gratify it would cost her nothing, but rather pave the way to her future comfort, for was not this brother a Lincoln's Inn barrister ? well-to-do, no doubt, moving amongst the elite of Melbourne, a perfect debonair with the
ladies, his acquaintance a carte-blanch to the best society, cum privelegio. So Mrs Handslip took her cue accordingly.
Mrs Handslip met Lyndhurst at the door, grasped his hand, but said nothing for a moment. She would have kissed him had he offered ; it would have been another kiss of Judas recorded in the lowest depths of
Gehenna,—history repeats itself, and Sheôl gains by it.
"Oh my dear Mr Lyndhurst Handslip, how thank- ful l am to see you ; come Hebe, and kiss your uncle, and welcome him to our poor home." So spoke the termagant, the painted woman, called wife, called
mother ! Bah.
Hebe came out of the other room, from her dying father's bedside ; she gave her hand to her uncle, and shot, one swift, searching, penetrating glance into her father's brother's face. Her hand grew cold, she gave
no kiss. The child is father to the man. Give me a child's opinion in some things before a man's.
Lyndhurst proceeded to his brother's bedside. He was shocked at his brother's appearance ; the per- petual queasiness on ship board, and the increase (rapid) of the cancer had done their work.
The sick man raised his eyes to Lyndhurst's face as he approached the bed.
After a pressure of the hands, Mr Handslip said, " Draw your chair close, for I am very weak and I have much to say. Hebe, " he went on, turning his eyes to the foot of the bed where the child stood, " Hebe, my dear, go and take a walk with your mamma for half-an-hour, I want to speak to your uncle of England. "
Hebe went to the head of the bed, kissed her father,
and left the room, without a word.
Mrs Phsyche Handslip was only too glad to get out, so she went, leaving the two brothers alone.
Mr Handslip could not see much of his brother's features, the room being darkened, as all sick cham- bers generally, madly, stupidly are, every sick room a second charnel-house, close, suffocating, dark, like the pall on a coffin : depressing the mind of the suf- ferer by the gloom witnessed around. In some cases a darkened room is well, but far from all. Give cheerfulness, give light to see the bridge of death and its approaches.
Mr Handslip told Lyndhurst briefly of his failure in London, the loss of all he had, and how he paid his creditors, holding his brother's hand as he did so.
The face of Lyndhurst changed as he heard the recital, and he replied not, but listened.
Mr Handslip went on, " Lyndhurst, you know that property down in the South of England, ' Hymettus left me by Hebe's mother ?"
" Yes," replied Lyndhurst, " and a fine valuable property it is."
" Take this key, and open that small escritoire of mine, and press with one finger the centre of the cavity under the inkstand, a secret drawer will fly out and in it you will find documents, and a let- ter of instructions I wrote on board ship one calm day, addressed to you."
Lyndhurst quickly did as he was instructed.
Mr Handslip took the papers from his hand, say-
ing. "Lock the desk and give me the key ; the escritoire was my child's mother's and it must go to Hebe."
Holding the papers in his wasted hand he con- tinued. " Lyndhurst, how do you stand in the eyes of your fellow-men ?"
" Well," was the unblushing reply.
"So in a pecuniary way you are high and dry above high water mark, Lyndhurst."
" Yes, brother, most successful I have been since I landed. A right step I took when I came to Aus- tralia ; I only wish you had done the same."
Lyndhurst lied unto him, lied unto a dying brother, the only friend he ever had ; lied as he saw the shadow of death gather on his brother's brow, lied as he took the wasted clammy hand in his.
Mr Handslip went on. " I thought, Lyndhurst, you had launched your bark well, for you have never applied to me since you came here, for money. This, to me was a good omen : you should have had it, to the half I had, if you had been in need, for I always, loved you, Lyndhurst."
Lyndhurst winced, but nothing more, he was
callous, for he had lied unto s dying brother, a more
than friend, a brother in deed.
Mr. Handslip proceeded, "Take these papers, my
dear boy ; this letter will tell you all, when and how
to act. Hebe had better remain for the present with her stepmother for company. See, my dear fellow, about her education. She has ability, tho' at times wilful, but it is only animal spirits in the dear girl. Lose not sight of the position I hope she will yet occupy. Lyndhurst, am I asking you too much ; if so tell me? Speak frankly to your departing brother."
Thus appealed to, thus solemnly conjured, Lynd- hurst still lied unto him who lay in the throes of death, saying, " Brother, speak not .o ; Hebe shall never want a protector while I draw breath. I don't suppose I shall ever marry, so she shall be as my own child, and what I gather in the harvest field of my profession, I will add what I gather to what you have left her. Set your mind at rest, my only brother."
Lyndhurst dropped a tear, as Satan quoted Scrip-
Mr. Handslip, taking his brother once more by the hand, said, "Lyndhurst, I die in peace; God bless you."
There was another wince, nothing more, but a slight compression of the ugly lips.
" There are a few questions I would like to put to you, simply in a professional way, to guide me how to act, dear brother," spoke the late Lincoln's Inn barrister. " Ask any questions you like," came in a feeble voice from the bed.
" Does Mrs. Handslip in any way know of these papers, or of your arrangement with your creditors ?"
" No, Lyndhurst, I had, and still have, strong reasons for not taking Mrs. Handslip into my confi- dence ; I feel to make her a confidant regarding Hebe's future would never do. Lyndhurst (Mr. Handslip rose up in the bed as he spoke, with sudden energy)—'Lyndhurst, shield my daughter. Hebe; protect her as the apple of your eye from a worldly- minded woman,' he fell back exhausted, and was silent for some minutes, then said in a low voice,
' My creditors gave me a draft for £1000 to start afresh in Victoria ; this Mrs. Handslip knows about. This money, after due consideration, I have willed to her, as she knows. I have done it, thinking it will be best for Hebe in the end ; it may move her womanly instincts, touch her heart, and lead her to think of my child ; better to repose confidence in her than divide the money between her and Hebe, and so raise a bar between her and the child.' "
" One more question, then I am done. Does Hebe know anything of those papers, or your arrangements in any way ?" spoke the cloven-footed monster.
" No, Lyndhurst, I place implicit confidence in you. Hebe is a darling child, but too young to make a con- fidant of, and further, she understands not the world ; she is by nature open, frank, impulsive to a fault. A secret to her is no secret until she has told all the world. What she thinks she says ; it is her nature, her nature to trust, and think of the consequences afterwards. She wants a careful guiding rein, she wants discretion ; had I told her, her stepmother would know all within a week, and that would only be the first step to do anything she was told, and when she comes of age she would suffer and learn
her mistake too late.
No, Lyndhurst, Hebe must not know for a year or two, when she will be more staid. You then will tell her all, yes, tell her then. Say on the anniver- sary of the second year of my death. Lyndhurst, a dying brother trusts you."
There was a pause, while Lyndhurst carefully put the papers away in his pocket. He then rose from his chair, and went into the next room, saying he wished to get a glass of water. While doing so, Mrs Hand- slip and Hebe returned from their walk.
Hebe hastened at once to her father's bed side, passing her uncle hurriedly by. She took the thin, wasted hand of her only parent, forcing back her tears, and smiled a happy, frank, child-like smile upon the well-known, but death-stamped face. She stooped down (he was on a very low couch) and kissed him silently on the lips, then throwing off her, hat, she took her accustomed place by her father's side. While Mrs Handslip and Lyndhurst sat on in the next room, each trying to guage the other, while they conversed of things in general.
The uncle joined Hebe in her lonely watch about half-past seven in the evening.
Mrs Handslip and Lyndhurst both had come to the same conclusion at the end of their conversation, viz, each thought the other an enigma ; it was with the two—diamond out diamond.
Lyndhurst sat himself down at the foot of the couch, Hebe pointing to a vacant chair there with her small hand, as much as to say she would not vacate her seat.
One o'clock passed. Lyndhurst sat dozing in his chair, Mrs Handslip asleep in the other room, while Hebe sat on, watching her father's face, holding his hand, afraid to move for fear she should wake him from his—to all appearance—peaceful slumber. A few hot tears rolled down the child's cheek as she thought, but she brushed them away with her other
Lyndhurst still dozed on ; Mrs Handslip slept on ; the child's head drooped from fatigue—drowsiness, nature was exhausted—drooped on her breast ; but it was only for a moment, and this was at 4 o'clock in the morning. She shook her head, and rubbed her jet black eyes, and pulled—as we would say, reader— herself together again.
At half-past 4 o'clock, as the day began to dawn, Mr Handslip opened his eyes, and met those of his daughter, with a long, earnest, loving look. He spoke, but so low and feebly that Hebe had to put her head down to hear what he said.
" Hebe, my darling, kiss me ; I am . . . going . . . to . . . your . . . sainted . . . mother . . . God bless you, my child."
As the last word came out, as Hebe held his hand,
None saw him pass away but Hebe. Died before the doctor's time—anxiety for his child. R.I.P.