Chapter 63620097

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Chapter NumberIII
Chapter TitleIntroduces Mr. Maurice Gower
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63620097
Full Date1886-04-15
Page Number0
Corrections0
Word Count4834
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleIllustrated Sydney News (NSW : 1853 - 1872)
Trove TitleSociety, Friendship and Love
article text

CHAPTER III.

INTRODUCES MR. MAURICE GOWER.

.' He's gentle and not fearful."

-Shakespeare.

THE double negotiation came to a successful end. Mr. Fitzalan was engaged by Mrs. Broadhurst, and Miss Latimer by Mrs. Grimleigh, and all persons concerned declared themselves satisfied with the arrangement.

Dorothea went to Grin Grange to play lawn tennis, and Miss Grimleigh in return came to Oaklands, for so Mrs. Broadhurst had insisted on calling her house. True, the whole domain included about two-and-a half acres, and could not boast of a solitary acorn, but as it was in a fashionable neighbourhood, and luxuriously appointed with tennis grounds, ball-rooms, and footmen to open the door, the ladies of Society were not disposed to be hypercritical about a name. They followed meekly in the wake of Mrs. Grimleigh, entertaining the inhabitants of Oaklands and were entertained by them in return, admitted them to the privacy of their own domestic circles, and took, as it were, Dorothea and her mother to their arms.

Mrs. Broadhurst bore it with the self-sacrificing spirit of a martyr. All she really cared for was to read clever books, talk to clever people, and listen to good music, the rest was a weariness to the flesh, but for Dorothea's sake she would go anywhere and do anything, That dear child, if left to herself, would wear out her young life in visiting the poor, teaching in Sunday schools, and other such works of charity and devotion, but a mother couid not permit such thankless sacrifice. Therefore, she would submit willingly night after night to the not very brilliant or interesting conversation of the elders of Society, so that Dolly might join the amusements of their sons and daughters. And Dorothea, on her side, thought it so bad for her mother to shut herself up as she would like to do, that she accepted the sacrifice, and would even profess eagerness on matters about which she felt indifferent, in dread lest Mrs. Broadhurst should fall back

into that hermit-like obscurity which, her daughter was . sure, must prey upon her spirits.

Altogether the ladies of Castlereagh were much edified by the spirit of mutual devotion which animates this mother and daughter ; they proclaimed Mrs. Broadhurst a thoroughly sensible woman, and clever too, while as for Miss Broadhurst, she was charming. The opportune return of the dis- tinguished visitor afore-mentioned put the finishing touch to the Broadhurst importance. He had been staying at Granville, the chief town of a neighbouring Colony and was now on his way home ; he remained a fortnight in Castle- reagh, and, during this time distinguished Dorothea by such unequivocal marks of his admiration as kept all the young unmarried women of society in a continual flutter of excitement, surprise and perhaps disgust. He went away but his influence did not go with him, and Miss Broadhurst, who, three months before, had been quite obscure, suddenly found herself on the tip top pinnacle of colonial fashion.

Such was the state of affairs when, late one afternoon, Dorothea came to Mr. Powell's house to see her cousin Margaret, who had just returned from her work at Mrs. Grimleigh's. Dolly's reason for this visit was to persuade Miss Latimer to accept a gracious invitation from Mrs. Grimleigh to attend a society picnic which was to take place the next day. " Dear Margaret you must come," she said, {' all the nicest people will be there, and some curious kind of foreigners, a Hungarian, or something of that kind, and a very distinguished man ; I am dying to see him. Oh ! and of course Mr. Gower will be there too."

"And who may Mr. Gower be ? " asked Margaret.

"Oh ! do you not know ? everyone is talking about him, and he is staying at the Grimleighs, besides-have you not

met him?"

"Ido not come much in contact with Mrs. Grimleigh's visitors, but now I remember the children were talking yesterday of some young man staying in the house who has been kind to them. Has he also been kind to everyone, that he is a general topic of conversation ?"

" I really must enlighten such a deplorable state of ignorance, " said Dorothea gaily. Mr. Gower belongs to an old Catholic family, and came out a few weeks ago from, England. He stayed a month or two in Granville before coming on here. He is going to try cotton-planting or something of that kind in Fiji. What is it they grow now cocoa nuts, is it not ? However he is going to remain here until he has quite recovered from the effects of a serious illness which he had just before leaving England. I met him at Mrs. Grimleigh's last night. He has one of those interesting intellectual faces with that shade of melancholy languor that always attracts one's attention, and light hazel eyes, with very lone dark eyelashes-"

"You seem to have taken a minute survey of him," interrupted Margaret, laughing.

" No, I only saw him for a few moments, but I am sure he is nice. They tell all sorts of stories about him, and Mabel Grimleigh heard from some of her friends at home, who are connected with his family, that he used, in very cold weather, to get on to tho roof of the house to say his prayers, or lie for hours on the stooe floor of the chapel, and and when he was quite a boy, he would make retreats for weeks together, and would then reappear, so worn out with, fasting and prayers, that his friends were afraid he

would kill himself."

"Miss Grimleigh's correspondence seems to be of a most interesting nature," said Margaret, with a little contempt in her tone. Mr. Gower will, I should think, feel grateful to his friends for making his private affairs public property, and the house-roof episode draws,rather largely on one's credulity, though it may account for the illness of which you speak ; but I do not wonder Dolly that you feel an absorbing interest in this enthusiastic gentleman, I shall look forward with some excitement myself to meeting him."

" You may laugh if you please, Margaret, but you will think him charming when you see him. "

"And who is the other distinguished visitor, the Hun- garian, or something of that kind, who is also to be at the picnic ; is he also melancholy and fascinating ? "

"Well, not exactly, but he is a count and a genius, and you will see him yourself : you are coming are you not, Margaret ? and, by the way, there is our new tutor whom you have not yet met. Mother is quite infatuated about him. He is a little bit cynical and sceptical, you know, and all that sort of thing, quite disillusioned, in fact, but very nice and a,thorough gentleman. He is just the sort of man you would like., Oh ! you must come to the picnic, promise me you will. "

" Indeed I do not think I can resist the combined attrac- tions of an enthusiast, a sceptic, and a genius. However, dear, unless I indulge in a sudden and violent headache, 1 must go, as I told Mrs. Grimleigh so this morning."

Dorothea was rapturous in her expression of delight until she remembered that town people were coming to dinner, and, that she must be home earlier than usual. But Margaret detained her a little to discuss a certain disagree- able episode in connection with the amorous and disconsolate Charley.

Charley had been forbidden to go to Oaklands, but he had appealed to Dolly's sensibilities, and persuaded her to meet him in the garden, which proceeding had aroused the intense indignation of Mr. Powell, who was harsh enough to lay a great share of the blame at Dorothea's door.

" What could I do ?" she cried plaintively to Margaret, her dark eyes filling with tears at the recollection. " He wrote me a dreadful letter, telling me that his ruin lay at my door, and imploring me to meet him once again, if I would save him from despair. Then I went-you would have done the , same, Margaret-and then uncle Dunstan found us there, and called me unprincipled. I never was called unprincipled before. I do try to do what is right, and I came to-day.to see you when I knew Charley must be away."

"An unnecessary elaborate precaution, if you can meet him in.the garden," Margaret could not help saying.

" Do be a little kind to me," cried Dolly. "You are almost as unjust as uncle Dunstan himself. How can I ever speak to him again ?"

" Nonsense, Dolly, you will make your peace with him next time you see him; and in the meanwhile, pray do not listen to Charley's ravings, lt is contemptible of him to try and frighten you into compliance ; but I do not think there is the least danger that he will cut his throat or turn bushranger."

" Margaret I do not make jokes about such awful things. Has uncle Dunstan said anything about it to you ?"

" Only that the minister has promised to move Charley into the country within a few days ; there is, it seems, an opportune vacancy, so I hope we shall hear no more about the state of his affections \ and Dolly, dear, do not let him

see you again before he goes. He will be trying to extract some promise from you -'?--"

Dorothea interrupted her cousin with a reproachful air. " Surely you do not think that I would make a promise that I could not keep. No, indeed, Margaret ; if I see him again it will only be to tell him not to be silly, and to try and forget all about it. I do not want to give him unnecess- ary pain and treat him like a criminal ; the poor boy cannot help being fond of me, I suppose. You are terribly unsym- pathetic, Margaret, but of course you are too calm and self-contained to understand these things, and I know you

mean to be kind to me."

Miss Latimer gave her shoulders a little shrug, as was her wont when she dissented from some opinion expressed and did not care to take the trouble to contradict it. And Dolly remembered that she ought to have started home long ago, and hurried away to adorn the paternal rooms with her lovely face and beaming smiles.

Meanwhile, the unlucky Charley was busy adding up columns of figures that would not come right, and anathe- matizing fate in the same breath. The Reverend Dunstan Powell was meditating on the corrupt human nature and the amount of moral responsibility with which any individual may fairly be credited ; and Mr. Maurice Gower, under the hospitable roof of Mr. Grimleigh, was receiving instruction in the pitfalk and quagmires of colonial social life and the best means of avoiding them.

The party consisted of Mr. and Mrs. Grimleigh, their two eldest sons, Miss Grimleigh, and Mr. Gower. The visitor had indiscreetly asked for an explanation of the new education bill which seemed to be exciting so much attention, and had thus drawn upon his head a full account of the political growth, advancement and subsequent decay of the colony, delivered by Mr. Grimleigh with a statesman-like accent and a nice choice of epithet and illustration. He relied for his sonorous platitudes on the lamentable condition of Australia, without interruption or comment, until Mrs. Grimleigh, perhaps detecting a yawn, which all Mr. Gower's good breeding could not completely stifle, came to the rescue.

"My dear, if you give such a terrible account of us you will so alarm Maurice that he will run away and take the first ship to Fiji," she said. Her family was in some way connected with that of the Gower's and the Grimleigh's, therefore all called him by his christian name.

"Oh! if you want to be comfortable and live like a Christian here, the only thing ia to keep out of their politics altogether," observed Mr.,Walter Grimleigh, the eldest son, a young man better known for the strength of his muscles

than of his intellect.

" You forget," said his mother, " that in so doing you deprive the country of every chance of future improvement. What can become of it if it is entirely abandoned to vulgar

men?"

' ' Well said ! my dear. We have no right to sacrifice the welfare of the country to our own personal convenience," remarked Mr. Grimleigh, with an approving nod ; but young Grimleigh made no answer, perhaps because he was diffident of his powers of benefiting the country.

Mr.. Gower, too, who felt that some remark was expected from him, racked his brain for an appropriate one, but could find nothing, and there was silence for a few minutes, until Walter Grimleigh the elder made a remark about the picnic, and the conversation drifted to the guests, notably the Broadhurst and Dorothea love affair with Charley

Powell.

"Is that the Miss Broadhurst to whom you introduced me the other evening ?" asked Mr. Gower.

' ' Yes ; she is a very charming girl, and one for whom I have a great regard," said Mrs. Grimleigh,

" She is the daughter of a Mr. Broadhurst, member for one of our electorates, and proprietor, and indeed general director of our leading newspaper, the Trumjyeter" said Mr. Grimleigh. " Broadhurst is a man of considerable talent, and, partly by literary capacity, partly by fortunate speculations, has risen from comparative poverty to wealth and importance in the community-a trying ordeal to the good sense and modesty of any ordinary man. He has allowed himself-with what ultimate design I cannot pretend to say-to be gained over by the supporters of the new education bill, and now devotes his pen and influence to their cause. Of course such a man may do, and has done, incalculable mischief."

"We have not a very high opinion of Mr. Broadhurst, though it is quite possible we do him an injustice," said Mrs. Grimleigh, taking up the parable in her turn ; " but his wife is really an amiable and well-informed woman, clever in a certain sense, and an admirable mother. It is from her that.I have heard,some mention of an unfortunate entanglement between her daughter and the son of a Mr. Powell, Mrs. Broadhursts brother, a highly-respected clergyman, who has a church about half a mile from here, and who is also the uncle of my niece, Miss Latimer. The two young people are therefore first cousins, and their marriage is in every way undesirable. The affair has given great annoyance both to Mr. and Mrs. Broadhurst and to Mr. Powell ; the young man has, I believe, shown great violence and obstinacy, refusing to free his cousin from a promise extracted from her at a moment when she was off her guard, and endeavouring to frighten her into compliance with his wishes. I am sorry to say that I have not a high opinion of Tom's friend, Mr. Charles Powell, and I consider him utterly unworthy of such a sweet girl as Dorothea

Broadhurst."

" Is she not lovely, Maurice ?" exclaimed Miss Grimleigh,

enthusiastically.

" Yes ; she is quite pretty enough to justify the cousin," answered Mr. Gower. " Poor fellow, I am inclined to pity

him." '

" I do not believe that she cares a bit for him," continued Miss Grimleigh ; "and for my part I am much more inclined to put faith in a report which is going about that she and Mr. Fitzalan have taken a fancy to each other."

' " Mabel ! I am surprised at you," said Mrs. Grimleigh. "It is such bad taste to quote reports of that kind j this one is simply absurd, and might give great annoyance both to our dear Dorothea and to Mr. Fitzalan. My love, you should not let your high spirits run away with you."

" I do not think it would much disturb either one or the other,"'persisted Miss Grimleigh. " You know Mr. Fitzalan do you not, Maurice ?"

" I met him once," answered the other, shortly.

" He is a young man for whom we all have a great regard, though we have known him but a short time," said Mrs. Grimleigh. " He shows such perfect good breeding and easy distinction of manner that it is impossible not to see at once that he comes of good family. You should cultivate his acquaintance while you are here, Maurice."

Maurice only answered by a slight inclination of the head, and Mrs. Grimleigh continued : " Apropos of thie report about Mr. Fitzalan, I must give you a word of warn.

ing.~". There is a terrible propensity in this place to vulgar gossip and uncharitable tale-bearing. We are a scandal loving society" (this with an emphasis ou the "we" and a smiling shake of the bead, lest ber humility should be mis- understood) ; " we delight in talkng of the concerns of our neighbours and imputing to them motives to which, per- haps, they are entire strangers. We may smile at it " (with a sudden resumption of gravity) " but it is rather a subject for regret. I assure you we must all be very careful if we would avoid giving rise to scandalous and unchristian

commentaries."

' ' lt sounds very alarming, ' said Mr. Gower, looking a little perplexed ; " but I assure you, Mrs. Grimleigh, I am not-that is, I do not think I am given to scandal or looking after my neighbours."

" My dear Maurice, you misunderstand me. I would not for the world impute such conduct to you ; in the first place, you come from home, where there is too much good breeding and natural refinement to allow of such vulgarities. I only wish more young Englishmen would come here to give the tone to the young natives. My remarks were only intended to put you on your guard, as a thousand curious eyes and tongues will be watching your movements, and might cause you great annoyance."

'41 feel greatly flattered to think that my movements are likely to be of so much importance," he answered, laughing. And then, seeing Mrs. Grimleigh's attention diverted for a moment, and being anxious to change the conversation, he turned to Tom Grimleigh, the younger son, and tried to get . up a discussion on boating. The subject, however, was not well chosen, for Tom Grimleigh knew and cared for nothing on earth but the points of a horse and the advantages to be derived therefrom, and it was his one ambition that his already illustrious name should acquire fresh lustre on the

turf.

It was better in the drawing-room, for there Miss Grim- leigh played and sang, both of which arts she practised creditably, and made herself generally agreeable, and Mrs. Grimleigh, seeing her guest happy in her daughter's society, left the pair to their own devices.

Next morning, before breakfast was well over, Mrs. Broadhursts carriage drew up, and from it emerged the lady herself, Dorothea, Margaret, and Mr. Eitzalan. More in- troductions followed, and Dorothea, arrayed from head to foot in creamy white, with white plumes curling round her hat and mingling in her fair hair, bestowed such beaming smiles on Mr. Walter Grimleigh and Mr. Maurice Gower that both young men felt the attraction irresistible, and stayed by her side. The distinguished tutor was at once appropriated by Miss Grimleigh, and as the elder ladies were quite busy diseussing the details of the picnic, and Tom Grimleigh was in the stable, Margargt was fain to wander round the garden with her two little pupils, who were already devoted to their dear Miss Latimer, and very much given to chatter about anything and everything.

" Miss Latimer, do you like Mr. Fitzalan ?" began Muriel.

"Mama and. Mabel say he is charming, but I think he is rude. What do you think ?''

Margaret was quite willing to endorse this sentiment, for that very morning she had been presented, with some cere- mony, to Mr. Fitzalan, and, though not charmed, as she

perhaps expected to be, either by his manner or appearance, ? was perfectly willing to enter into conversation with him. But the tutor was either sulky or indisposed, or he had heard something to Miss Latimer's disadvantage, for after a slight bow and a remark about the weather, to which he did not wait for an answer, he seemed to ignore her presence, and during the drive addressed his conversation almost pointedly to Mrs. Broadhurst and her daughter. Naturally Margaret thought him an ill-bred young man, but it might not be judicious to tell Muriel so, so she made some general remarks about not criticising one's neighbours, and began to

talk about flowers.

' But Muriel and Ethel preferred the study of man, and proceeded to discuss Mr. Gower, whom it appeared they ad- mired infinitely more than Mr. Fitzalan.

" Now children," said Margaret, "if you can talk about nothing but your mother's visitors I shall go indoors. I do not like you to be vulgar and silly. "

"No, do not go indoors, dear Miss Latimer, at least not just yet, for here is Maurice himself ; now you will see if he

is not nice."

Margaret looked round in some astonishment. He was certainly coming along the path towards them. She had an indistinct recollection of a strange man in the bustle of arrival and greetings, but she had forgotten to verify Dorothea's description. But she knew exactly what he would be like before she saw him-a thin, cadaverous man, of about forty, with hollow eyes, an ascetic air, a general appearance of being wasted with mystery, and probably a bunch of crosses and miraculous medals jangling on his watch chain -that was just the sort of person Dolly would call intel- lectual. Still summing up these characteristics in her mind, she turned to look at Mr. Gower, who was now close beside them, and who apologised for his joining them in the garden -' ' They are all in such a state of excitement in the house that it is bewildering to a weak brain, and you and the children, Miss Latimer, looked so provokingly calm and cool that it was quite irresistible." He did not add that, the lovely Miss Broadhurst being quite appropriated by Mr. Walter Grimleigh, he himself had been fain to look for other

diversion. -

For a moment Margaret forgot her coolness, her com- posure, and even her good breeding. She stood and fairly stared at the young man before her, who was.such an absurd contradiction of all her theories upon him. He was quite fifteen years younger than she had imagined, neither cadaverous, lean, nor, to all appearance, miserable ; on the contrary, he was decidedly well-made, with a pleasant winning face, a very attractive smile, and a pair of clear hazel eyes, which might look sentimental on occasion, but were now brimming over with mirth as though he guessed somethiug of what was passing in her mind. Perhaps he did, for he had been more than once considerably astonished by the very direct questions which Castlereagh young ladies had put to him on the subject of his faith and practice. He looked and moved like other gentlemanlike young English- men, and carried no religious badge as an outward decoration.

The smile which he could not repress woke Margaret to

a sense of the situation.

"I beg your pardon," she stammered, quite disturbed

out of her usual coolness. " I-that is- it is such a . lovely morning, that it isa shame to be indoors more than one oan help."

" Certainly it is," he answered ; " and how beautiful the flowers are. Australia quite beats us in the matter of flowers. We have three months' of beauty, but you have

nine."

(Continued on page 10.)

( Continued from page 7?)

"And the strange thing is that it is often in the height of summer that our gardens are most bare. But this year we have not been favoured with a drought, so we are revelling in the prospects of abundance of fruit and flowers,"

They chatted amicably about climate and scenery and vegetable productions until the little girls, tired of being ignored, loudly claimed their visitor's attention and insisted on his entering into all their raptures on the subject of their picnic.

"Miss Latimer," he said, gaily, "we must all be thankful that you have come to-day ; if you had not done so I believe Ethel and Muriel would have been in violent

hysterics by this time. They have done nothing since yesterday afternoon but wonder whether you would come. 1 am their confidant and share all their hopes and fears."

"The subject must have become a little wearisome," answered Margaret, who, though she had recovered her oxit ward equanimity, still inwardly marvelled at Mr. Gower

and his address.

" On the contrary, it was very interesting. We are the best friends in the world, but we are all apt to find the restraints of civilization too much for us, and when we are quite tired of behaving properly, we creep out of the house and surreptitiously roll down the bank of the terrace or climb on to the roof of the summer-house and tell each other stories."

Margaret smiled. "You have had some experience in roof climbing," was the remark that rose to her lips, but she restrained herself and only asked what Mrs. Grimleigh said to such proceedings.

"Oh, mama does not mind what Maurice does," cried Ethel ; " she never scolds us when he is by, nor does Mabel. Paney, Miss Latimer, we chased a monkey that had run away from Mrs. Marshall's yesterday right round the yard and over the wall and into the stable loft, and mama met us coming down the ladder with our dresses torn and cousin Maurice holding the monkey by its tail. I was frightened, but mama only smiled."

"I think you deserved to be scolded," said Margaret. "I am afraid, Mr. Gower, you are teaching these children very bad manners."

"See children," said Maurice, "Miss Latimer is so much ashamed of your conduct that she will not go to the picnic. "

" It is a story, is it not dear Miss Latimer, and is it not very wicked of cousin Maurice to tell such stories ? "

"It is only children who must not tell stories," put in Ethel. " Grown up people are sometimes obliged to do so, but little children cannot understand these things."

Mr. Gower and Miss Latimer, who both recognised this as a remark of Mabel Grimleigh, did not dare look at each other. Maurice bit his lips, and Margaret became absorbed in the beauty of a rose growing near, but Muriel cried out, " That is what Mabel says when she tells stories, because it is polite, but I do not think all her stories are polite ones.'.

"Be quiet, Muriel," said Margaret ; "you are talking like a pert and silly child."

"And nothing is so bad as telling tales and saying spiteful things of our neighbours," continued Maurice, with mock solemnities and a half unconscious recollection of Mrs. Grimleigh's breakfast lecture.

But Muriel, who seemed to make it her business to verify quotations, seized at once on his words. "That is what mama said to you this morning ; I heard her when she was telling you how vulgar all the people here are, and how -they will talk scandal, and you said-"

" Never mind what I said," interrupted Maurice, looking rather disconcerted. " Mrs. Grimleigh was kind enough to give me some good advice this morning. Miss Latimer and this silly child misunderstood her. She has not, I am afraid, a very high opinion of my discretion, and imagined that I might get myself into hot water-that is all."

"Yes, of course," said Margaret politely. " But I think it is time to go to the house; Mrs. Grimleigh and my aunt are on the verandah, and here are the carriages coming round. Come, Ethel, your mother is calling you. Muriel, you know you must not pick the flowers."

" I am only getting a rosebud for cousin Maurice. Mama lets us pick flowers for him. Cousin Maurice, catch me before I get to the house," and she flew off, with Mr. Gower in pursuit, and Margaret followed more sedately, talking to Ethel, and marvelling within herself what manner of young ¡man this might be.

(To be continued.)