Chapter 63337383

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Chapter NumberI
Chapter Url
Full Date1877-01-12
Page Number1
Word Count3698
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitlePortland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953)
Trove TitleChristmas at Thompson Hall
article text

THE NOVELI~T.: ' CH RIST'MAS.AT THOMP SON HALL BY ANTIIr)NY TROLLOtIl. , (From the Sydney Mail.) CHAPTER I., ., ]1RS. BlIUWVN'i ,SUCCESS. Every ont' rem, the severity pf the Ch itstmarn o'f 187-. I will not desiginate the year morn' clously, lect I should onlehle tillbo Who ura too purious- to inveslignto tho circum ltance of this story, anld inlquire into dettalls which I do not intend to, make "known. That .:vln:ir, however,' was pipeclully sever", 1nild the dflt of the 'last toen days of Diemntler wao puore felt, I Ihlnk, in Paris thIl in indy port of. TEihlland. It may indeedol be doubted whether thI(re is t.ny toVwn in any ionuntry in which thllroulghly ?Rnd weiither is .nore aiDffting thln in the French, capital. Snow nlad Ithall seem to .:b'cohler thelrelind fire't (ter ininly nei' less wnillm 'than In Lonidin. And thltl, thoer is f feeling nmong visltn!i' to nPir'ils lht Pll is- ought it heo gnyl that gllly, preltinesle, ilell !iv'linelis re its ialns, is monley'comn melrce, nltid gellilnlt?usiness -rte the alms of Londonl.,-which' 'wlith itlis. i silde somlnro' hkles ilidoes ofteni seem to wnlttt ln?' excse fior Its ultiness But onl this !iccssio, at thislll Cliristmll of' 187-, Plriss woilk lnither gany no piretty i lively1. i You could hot walk the sr'oe q vlllthiqut Iielg, ankle deep, not in snow, but n ?ttiw tl;it Ilrl jiinl becoho eluslhl inld, tlhere wero fallhntg thrliouhoul6t ,the y ind ni.lght itf the 23rd Il Duot'illerli' a otll le i ?iol of tl llllf, half-fro'i~n hnbinisaitins from the skv which niad It almost imlllossible fiol men and womlllet to go lbout their busirPse. It was 10 o'clock on that evening flthaint tilt litlglish lily anod geitli'min rrrtived nt the Grand litel oIl tilhe Iloulevalrd,.-dest Itlicunll. "As I 'hlvo reasons for concealiug the names of

this married couple I will call them ,Mr. and Mrs. Jltown. Now I wish it to be understood thet in all the general ffalire of life thits gentleman and his lady / lived happily together, with anll thel amenities which should bind a Ihusbanld and a wife. Mri's. Brown was one of a 'wealthy fsinily, audl Mr. Brown, when Ito married her, had been relieved' from tie necessity df earning his. bread. Never stlhl..os she had at o'lce yielded to himn when t.. expressed ait desire to spend the winters of their life 'in, the South of 'FaLtnce; and lie, though he was, by.dispositionl soultl;rliaL Idle, and' ult' little p;ont to tlle eirgetic occupations of I f, would generially -allow 'lhimself, at' other periols; of thq year, to be carried hlilhtr.uad thither by her, whoge more 'robubt nature delighted ,in the ex citenient' of travelling.": ' Bit on this ocensi?in there had been a little dif ferenco' between them'. 'Early in Decemnber an intimation had inaclled lMis.' Brown at Pan that oni the cominlg Christmnns there wits to be a 'great guthering of all the Thomp tone in thi Tl'hiospson fitmily'liall at Stretfiordle-Botw, and tlhat site who hatllbeen a 'llThmnpsof wits desired to join the party with iher husband. On tliis occnsiou her only sister was de sirous of intrloducing to the lamily getnerl'ly, n'mbst excellent young man totwhom MsIe had recently become en gaged. The Thompsous--e the real aune, however, is in, ,fit cotlcealedt-, wee a numerous' uand a tlliving peupleo. rThere were' unclesl tland cousins andtbrotlierswho had all done well in the world, and who were all likely to do better still. Oneo had lately been returned to Parliamnent fot the Essex Flats, and was at the time of which i nt writing a contsplictuous melnber'"of the gulltt conslaervative mnajority. It was ptartly in triumnph at thlii success that "the great Clhrist mts gathering of the Thomnpsons was to' be lheld. and an opftiil.n 'had been expr'essed by the legislnhtor him self that shlould Mrs. Brown,, .with her hlnsbland, fiil to join the famoily on this happy occision'she nl d tt -wonitd be regardl!ed but f/insaent Thompsoes. Since her marrigo, which was ast affalir now unarly dight ye'ars old, MrIs. Brown had never passedl a Christmas in England. Tho desirahbility of doing so hadl often been mooted I.y hrt'. lHer very soul craved the f.tivitives of holly and imince pies. There had ever been meetings of the '.hmlicinsons at Th,''tip-on HIll, though nmeetiigs' viol so significanlt, not sat importanlt 'to t?:.i family, as' this one which was now to be collected. More than once hIld site expreised a wish to see oli Chrisitmal again ia the old, houseo among the ohi fiet's; 'but 'her b bnsand; lId IIlways pIlelded it certain weakness ablout his tllrout anod chest as a renson fli rie mainiilg amolig the delighlts of Pia. Yenr after year steo had yielhlo , anIl minw tllit loud' sulnmons haI cohi't. , It . was not without consideranhlt* trouble Clint she laid inlduced Mr. Brown. to come as fill as Paris. host unwilliigly.hnd he left l'tris; andl thein, twice'oil his jturney--both iat' Biu - deaulx anld Toutrn--IIho hadl made tin titeittllpt to retir."' Fro'm the first tuomelnct lhe ihad pleadedl hit throlt, andti when lit last lie had consented to malke theo journey hIeo th4 stipultted for e'l)iliig nt tholse two towns land at P)lril. Mrs. Brownv who,' wiltl nil slighltest 'f'eling of fatigu'., cotllhl?tnvo smtlo the journey. from Pau to Strtt ford without stopping,hlaid uIselltod to everything-so tlhat they might be at Tl'hontmpson Hall on Chriistmtas Eve WluV n Ilr. Brown uttered Iris unavidl ing conmplaints at the two first toels' at which .they'stityeld, sheo dill not perliaps quite belief all tlhatt lie said of his oeWln coudition. We know how prone tleo strnllg ro to suspect the weklli?nnes of the weak--s the cnlk tare to be dlirguted by the itrength of the 'trolllg. lThere were perhp le a few words between tlhem ontlh journey, hlit thllo rcsult htd ltitlihertn beetl in ftrvoille ofthe ltdy. Slh. hIlll son n ndl?l in brinhiin Mr. Briownl its Iiir it' Paris. ' HIIlndile ocansion been less impiritant, no' doublt sheo would havet yiclilcd. 'rhe wealtheI hai?l been httd oven wlhet they left Pau, blt as they hat nltmade their way-' northwni l'ds It ntld becoine woIrio Ind still worse. As they left fours I|r. Brown, in io house wlhisper'. l Ii declared his conviction thlt the jourlley would kill him. Mrs. Brhown, hlowveve, lint!L. nflrtusimately nollretI Ithlf'ni hour before thit li h hndl scoldedl lihe, wnteilrt o te cor ti in over chllarged frane or' two with a loutd antl sgleAr voice. Ilid she reilly belil'v'ed tltlut thlere was dlange'r, or even suflllr inlUg, se wonild hitve yleltli1--baut no woIn :l'"is antiallsfud in nuh b n m ttelll r til i tikentll itn by fli?e pretencee. ,Si?ht observetl thiet he me A good dliinner onil his any tio .alitall that ihe took in smiall. glass of- cogntin with complete reli i -- w h ic h -lict~ n iu really sutferihg frotm blrncliteis ilurely wolllil inot id. So lse ptulovervl'edl, stiId Intoighlt hilt ito Parisi, hitt i tSie eOven ig, in th ,° ihllIsitof ti nll thie slush nl snow. llti'in, is thity ,tI dowll Lto siplie', sihe thlouglht tlint hic di sptnk. hourstiely, ,l iII lovtig fetullitle lhell't begun to ittegive ite's'. Bitt tlleis now wss at ltly rlte clenr to ther--ihatht e onhil not be woi?ro off hy gih ilo ne to tLoltlln tIhn lie ws-llild bu shouull lie reitllli in Parlls. If a mitiiI is tit be ill lhe htil I hettei' be III li the bostmn ofllhis fimnilythlallh 't ni' hiotol, What comfort could he have,

what relief, in that huge barrack ? As t for the cruelty of the weather London I could not be worse thnn PIarls, and Sthou slhe thought she hbd heard that seon air is good for a sore, throat. In lithat bedlroomo whilch had beon all.otted Sto them an quatrieme, they could r.ot even get a dlecent fire. It would in Ievery way be wrong now to forego the f great Claristmas gathering whln notll. ieg could he gained by staying in Paris. San?' .-perceived Ithntas herlhursband becamlne reiaollIly : lao acCllllrtu aisI inlre taaatrt.atll andl less Iolntll,.,ious. Im ar aeediately after tlhat liltle gi-,. p. cogltrac he had declared tlhat he would Iro- if lhe wouel Rgo beyond Parisr, rland site began to fear thiat., after rill, everythling woull lhave been done in vain. But as "they went down to a supper between 10 and 11 lhe was nmore subuehid, andl merely remarked that lthis jorirnly woull, lhe wias sire, ihe the death of himn. It was halllf.-plast S11 when theiy, got back to their bel a room, and then Ihe seernmel to speak witll good sense,-tani nIo with much real apprellenlior. "If I. cant't ge? a something to relieve me I know I shall never a makll my way homrn" lie sail. It was intended that theay should leave the hotel at hal'f-palst 5 the nelxt morning, so as to arrive rt 9tratfi'rd, travellint bly the tidal 'train,. at lin f last 7 onil Christmas Eve. Tile early holaur, the long journey, the ilfaunlquls weather, the prospect of ill;t ho;rrid gril' between Boulogne and Folkostone, would have brenas nothing to Mrs. BrI'wn, lhad it not been lir' trat settled look of anguisll which had now pr. vaalerl her' hustan.rt's face. "If yon don't find solnethirng to relireve me, I shall nlover live thro:ugh it," Ire said aguain, silkilng back' into the question abloe colmfart of a Parisinn lotel arm chair. ' But, my dear, what can I lo?' shla asked, aneost in tears, stanliung over hirn and caressing him. fHe was a thin,' genteel-l laiking 'man. Sihe loved him dearly, and in her softer moods was apt to speil him with her cartlesses. \VWhat Call I do, my dleartie? Youa know I woull do anythiang if I couldl.. Get irato myr bed, my pet., and be warm, andl then, to-marrow morning you will be all right" At this moment he was preparing himself for hia bedl, and sihe was ausisting himn. 'rhen' silo tied a ipioc! of flannel round his tIhroat;'nllnd kissed hirn, aid put hilll ill beneath the bed-Ilo:ltes. 'I 11 tell you what you can do,'.he paid very holaarsely. I's roicbe yas so bIadI now that sire couhl linardly hear him.' Sihe would. do anything if he would only sany what. Then lhe told her what was Iis plan. Down in the stlsonlao Ihad seOn a large jaur of nmes tlard ol the shidhoarl. Ar lhe left the ,room loe had observed that this hall not been withdrl'wn with' the olthwr aplpurtenances of the meal. If she couli minage .to fnlud hir way down there, taking with her a Iaihdkerchief folaled for the 'par'.pore, aar' if alhe could then apprl'priate a part of the coatenlts of teho jail, anda, re'oturning iih laers prize, apply it to his throat, he thorluht thaat Il could got some relief, so that lie rmighlt lae able tIo leave' his bed the vary next toa'rnihng at 5. ' But I ant afraid it will be very `disagreeable for' you to go down all atlone at this 'tlin of niighlt,' lie cronl!,"d out iran pitet.lle whisper. ' Of course I'll go,' said slhe. ' don't' mind going ir tllhe least. No body will Ilire ale,' arnd she at one' hganai to fohl a clean Iandkaraikerche ' I wol't be two minrtlles, my dlarling, and if there is a grain of mustardl in tlhe ihouso I'll have it, on your chest almost ilnmredliatoly.' Site wars a woman nlot ersily couweai, snd thie jaourney caowln to the salon was nothinlg to her. Before' shloe stent she tucked the cloatlhe care. frilly tup to his ears, arid then shto starteld. 'Il'o rulrn along tle corridor till shlt carne to a flight of stairs wavs easy enougih. and earsy enougllh to dreser(ndi thleor 'rThen there was anaother ecrridor rand a third flight, ?rd slhe begnar to tlhirk tIart sel a wrs wron gr. t a 'u'i liersidf in li part r lana Ihotel whlrich she lia,,l nt iherto visited, araia s8aoon lisco've 'led by loolillng thllrorugh rari la erlla door' or two thant shil' had found her wasy among a set of private sitting roorns which she lad rnot seen bIefore. 'I'holl she tried to rnaako her way bnck, uip tlie name stairls and lthroughl tlhe rarne'l passnges, so that sito raiglt stiart lagni. Shie warns begillnningl to think thlat 'shi had Ilrat hiersolf alltogethler, and tlhat hlio wolidl be anle to findtl neithera the salon nor her boellroont, whalat s?re hiaptlly lmeat the nlight portear. Sireo was dressed ill a looRse wh itse dreseing-l?agwnI with av wihiteo nct over hIer lonos hInir, ralndl with white wosrsted slippers. I oRghllt pIerhlaps hlave described heII r Ipelatnriil alppear itrce soonler. Sire \vas irt arge waalnllll, withl a corarn dnlillag hust, thouighit lby .onto to ble hlllardlanae, aftler the' manler of .Turno. lBut with ll er'anlgers Ill1real was as celrlihl severity or afnilira er about hler'-l forllillllatio, IIRs it as'wra', raf hler v'airtoe argaiast rail ible attlaeks-a ilclarnlt detler'ltrir, nolr ItI ralllnihtaih, ait nil loiriis, tire Iberalll iful clillntcter of a h'ariah nantrl:al, whichIa, lucllaea it had Il oo?r nllpreciatala nt 'Thoiaarson lnilli,hard maet with oarrna ill.urtainred criltiismn narrarrag F.renhr' rmen alldl waaenll. At Pll t sh lla ar" tlealr elrlled La Fiteo Atglalise. 'I'lThe nlllonae Ill reaclrled her owlv C Icr'S nllal 'tlose rof liar husianllud. I1e had beeru much annoyed, but sieho hald takcn it inl

B good part-had, indeetd, been some what proudi of the title-and had I endeovoured to live p 'to it. Wilth t her husband she could, onl occsion, bh I sofl; but site Was of opinion that withl 1 other men ai British Inatron shouldl Sbe stern. She was inow greatly in I want of nssistnineo; but, nelvrtheleso?, 3 when she met thie porter sie rememn herel her cllharacter. ' I lnve lost my I way iauidering tLrotigh these horrid passages,' she. said in her severest I tone. 'I'ls was in nlswer to some qnlestion' from hlim-solme qulestion to whlicll her reply wai given vtry slowly. I" The' when hie sakled wherte Madilme I \ '"?dto go, siee paosed, algail thiuk i minl . wi,. destinniiin she woulil lnnnouctle. nisi At-,llt the man'lll coull take !her back to 'lier ...1,, but if n so, the maislard must lie I'relollisi.a nd s with the mitiishir, us she now ferire,ll nil I hope of renhliiiig ,Thonmpsoni, ltll o Christmas Eve. But sheit, lhouglh sihe t 'vas in lanoly reIspects s bravoe woman, dil iinot diie to tell lie maInn she wiL a prowling about the lihtel inll ,orllr that Sshe mlight mike a midnigllht raidl uipon the mistarl-plot. She pausted, there I fore, for a moment thlit she Iight collect her thoughts,' erectinig hIer Shlea' as she dli I so in he bhost Jilno fiashlion, till tlhe porter was lout in nlndmirition. ' Thus she gailned time to Slabricate a tale. She hlid, silo shlil, r lroppel her ialndkemdrchlief 'mler the 1i pper.tiallb ?woulnl lie show. her tihe I way to tlle rlooin, in orderl thIat she might pick it up., But the porter did more than that, lanl ncompeunpaiedl her I to the room .in whlch she had supped. Here, of course, there was a ipro longed nild, it need hardly he said, mi vli'n searchll. 'T'ire good-nlturred mall insisted on emnltyviig anl ellormlns receltiaclee of soiled table napkins, nnol o' tilrlnint them over olne by oSil, in crder that the lady's property might be found.llll The Ildiy stood hiy 'unhalppy, bunt still Iutienlt, andil;;s the main wlls stooping to hils work, her eye was oil the minstsird-pot. 'I There it wile capable of coin a!minilg enoulgh to bliist'er the tthrolots of is score of siufi'Ters. Slit edged olfr a little towards it while the mali was tbusy trying to peroeanle herself thati lie wouhl selely forgive her if-sle took' the' mIniistrd and toldi him iher wholl sltory. But the .deslacet fiom herli Julno healring would havle Ibeetln so grtat 1 She m- ust haiive ownedi, not only 'ti the quest forlmustnlrd, bult laiso to in flib-nmid she coull lnot do it. Tlhe pol'terv waOs at last of opiiiun thatl Madlanmenlm,,inst liave: mnhLle nl mistake, anti Mandnlae acknowledged' that she was afruidlit was so. With a longingl, lingIring ee. wOilth an eye turnledl hliuati~ktlil so snuily, to tlep great' jil', she left thi' roomi, thel, pirter'le?adiig tile wivy. 'Se assuredi imi! tlhat she wvoutil Illid it yllyherself, bhlt lie would inot leave her till Ieo had piit iler oi to the piroper i'~a~sage T'le juuurmity seemel to be Il6ger rnow even, thanllll beflre, Iut as she Icendld lie muany stairs she swvore o Ih rself!At she woullnot even yet lie baulked I of her eibject. Sh\ t lit' her husihn?id want 'the cnmfort for his poor' throat, and thle comfort be there withllin,lier reachl,. and he not have it? She I counted ove'y stitir no shl wenllt lip, iland malrked every turn lwell. She was ulre now 'that she would' know thel way. sndil thll) lshe couhl 'retllrn to lite I riooln without faullt. Silhe woulll go IlIck to thel 'ialon. E?li,though tli ll Inll should iencounltert her tagaini she o wolhi go bullllly folwu rd liilsumn solIle hoi remnedly which lihr poor husbn.ld so grievously reqlired.: " : . ' Al, ye,' site sali,? llihen the .t porter told herl that her rolla, No., a 323, was in the corrhilorl'whlti .they i had then re'aslied, "I ktllow it ill nowt r I min so much' olligiiil. D4o lit cai;lu it step ?itlier,' iHe was .ai...liue. toI aecomnpnly tier up to tile' very doorl, buthe sltoond in the passagie tnitl pro vailed. 'Ile linglered' 'ally. Uililrkily slie liehad I..ught non Imoney i L Ith h,I. .,,t coiill int give u him tls swo-tiwinre piece whlih lie hin I v ....oil. Noir coul sihe fetch it from I her i'ooma, feeling tatiit weret site, o tl return to her huliiliid withiliit the i musettilr no secotnd attemnpt; woullll be It puuOitiie. T'le disnallppliilte(Ud iItil tlrned Ii il his licheel lit last, liid i!glade his way doiwnl the sllirs aIlld along tboe Iiasle. Iii It seeuied to herli to, hie allust tn cil olernity whllile se litenicd to his stil lC audible fotoltolp. She hald gonie eii, creolilng ii'uselessly opl to the 'douir of iiI her roomll, niut there slhl ot utd.shlladinig H. the cit lliint liur htitld, till she tlhoughtlii b thlt the imlitI imliust have watIliIsred awaiy ul inito ollnei Irtlihet ciirner of 'hIt cllil.- i less bildling. 'Thenlil site tulrlned once Ii II;rilO nlld retrl.cedl her steLps1. i 'there wits uo dillinity inow as to the 11 wBly ; sih inu BIc it, every tallir. At the li ihead of Otleh thll;t site stoiid nod ii h Iioteinedl, Iti iillut Ii llitlll d iais to be I ll heard. aid tuhen sit,) waOit tin gtiiil. tier ai hieart beat highl with nulliius desire ht ii achievTloe her bjlljet, ltd at the llinti fi time withl fear. Whaut maighti lthaie heon tI exl.hliilled mi euayily lt lir-l wouli iilllnw tl he its dilhfll ll oit" i'xlllllntio,'. At lit ii s? i ll IIe owti i lu t itilith vettilihlih, i whhi c ell wacts nlw viiutintg for ih iIIt thlird ltlte, iti tt f whlich it iclir hlel Ii visir o t ll , , t tke ihi l tlritui s nll tli tiratotly. hlle iinhir wtis tlit, le-- lotit , b. hiidtet, but it oiiheiinel ueiity ti?i lithe t imit I litn t thie hlall, ni l on the etliiro; stil 1 i lhtinig the utisuoges. there littil huetiI gi's, hInt lheore thero ws lii light beycud Ihalt I given by the little hiluer, which . ilshe i carrioed. VWhen noniinllaticed by the II portLer kshk hid not feareod thLu darkiloSies, b

but now there was something in the ohscurity which mode iher dreeai to walk the length of the roomt up to the munIItrd jir. She paused. and listened, and trembled. Thoen che thought of the glories of Tllhompso HuRll, of the genial warmlh of a British Chris.tmas, of that proud legislator who was her first cousin, anl with ?I ru shhe llltade good the distance, and liid her hand upln .the copious delf She looked roullltd, but there was no cc ,iie there; oil .sund was hictd ; out the dittaint creak of ot shoe, not a rattle fronti otie of hoUe t'tonsand door.. As site pausedt wi h hler fair hand upon the top oi the jar, while tie t~ther hiold the whvite cloih otn which thie medicinal c.ompound wac to tie pliacell, a?u looked like Lady .Mac beth as shte listetled at .Duoicait's chamt hor-door. There was no doubt as to lih sutli Oleney of the contentl. The jt r was full ,cstrly up to the lips. 'he mixture was, Io doubt, Very differelt from thlat 40."ld whole?ime English IIteturd which your --maktes fresh for you, iith o little .",ter i tll ?o miutesC It was inplreyogrcu;t wilh a eour idcir, antd - was, to r ..di.ish trye unwlioleitne of colour. 1But .,ill it w to mustard. Sihe seizedl i., horn spoon, and without further delay elpread itn ample allttilenoty on the fhloed square of the handkerchlief. Then she commenced to harry her re turn. Butt still there was a difficulty, no thiioght of which Ilal oeuIrred to her hbfore. The ititdle ocuplied one hand, so that sile had bIut the other for the taistenauue of her treasure. Had sthe hrnughlit a plate or sander frimt the naheo, it would have been all a ell. As it was ste was tbilgetI to keep her eye intent on her right IhaiH, and to prooeod very, slowly. on her return jitrney. Site was surprised to, find wihaut an aptitude the Ihilg had to sliip frtn her grasp. But still, site progressed slowly, atll was careful r.ct to miss a ttrnintg., At Ist' she was aftse at her ohatutter dour. There it wits, No. 333. To bec continued.