Chapter 63620123

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Chapter NumberVI
Chapter TitleLOVE.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63620123
Full Date1886-05-15
Page Number0
Corrections0
Word Count4124
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Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleIllustrated Sydney News (NSW : 1853 - 1872)
Trove TitleSociety, Friendship and Love
article text

CHAPTER VI.

LOVE.

";0 love I What art thou love ? The ace of hearts,

Trumping earth's kings and queens and all its suits : A player masquerading many parts In life's odd carnival."

-Hood.

MARGARET never fulfilled her promise to Maurice Gower ; a bad cold kept her in the house for nearly a fortnight, during which time Mrs. Broadhurst paid her two flying visits, but Dorothea did not come near her. She tried not to feel hurt, and the first day she went back, to her work at Mrs. Grimleigh's she found time to go and see her cousin for a

few minutes.

" My poor Margaret, how pale and ill youBtill look !" cried Dorothea, effusively. " Do take care of yourself ; it is such an age since I saw you, and I have so much to say you must spend the evening with us."

"I must be home before the dew falls," said Margaret. " Can you not tell me your news now ? You look brilliant. Shall I guess what it is ? Aunt Dora hinted at something."

" Oh ! it was only last night at Mrs. Grimleigh's dance ," said Dorothea, with a most becoming blush, "he has been very nice to me for a long time, but I did not think he cared for me in that way. Do not you like him Margaret, and do you not think he is handsome ?"

"But my dear child, you have not told me who he is?" said Margaret, with a smile. "Is it Mr. Fitzalan, or Mr. Walter Grimleigh-?"

"For shame, Margaret ! you know quite well it is Mr. Gower ; and, tell rae, do not you like him ?"

" Very much, and I wish you joy, with all my heart."

" And is he not handsome ?"

" I do not'know, but I like his face very much."

"Isthat all?" said Dorothea, with a slight pout. "Do you know he is going to take the lover's part in Mr. Fitzalan's play, and I am to be the heroine? lt will be a little uncomfortable, will it not ? I hope people will not laugh."

"My dear Dolly!" cried the astonished Margaret, "I thought Mr. Gower hated the notion of the play ; he told me that nothing should make him act, and was inclined to be tragical about your doing so. He seems to have changed his views very completely."

" Oh ! he has not been asked yet to take that part, but I know he will," said Dorothea, confidently ; "and of course I must act ; it would be very rude both to the Grimleighs and Mr. Fitzalan if I were to draw back now. We shall both act, you will see."

" Well, it is no concern of mine, you must settle it between yourselves, " said Margaret,

"And, Margaret, dear, will you tell uncle Dunstan, and make him understand that there is really very little difference between our belief and Mr. Gower's ?"

" No, Dolly, I cannot carry any such message to him. In the first place, he might not agree with the statement."

" Then do you mean that I ought not to have listened to him ?" she said, in an aggrieved tone, and Margaret under- stood that "him" referred not to Mr. Powell, but to Mr. Gower. " Oh ! Margaret I never thought you were bigoted."

" Dolly, dear, do not talk nonsense about bigotry," said Margaret, a little impatiently. "I only object to giving uncle Dunstan lessons in theology, and I certainly think you ought to tell him of your engagement yourself."

"I am afraid you know how severe he can be ; and he may not like it."

" Do not be a coward,-Dolly. If you are really attached to Mr. Gower you ought to be able to face a little opposition from uncle Dunstan. Honestly, I believe he will not quite approve of your engagement, but he is not likely to say much about it, if your father and mother have no objection, and you have no doubts of your own. But though you may not be bound to follow his opinion, I do not think you should treat your uncle, and a very affectionate uncle besides, with such scant ceremony as to send a message by me."

" You mean you will not take it ?"

"If you like to put it in that way, Dorothea."

"Well, at least, write and break the news gently to poor Charley. I would do it myself, only Mr. Gower (with a becoming blush) might not like it."

" Pray do not make your mind uneasy about poor Charley. To judge by his letters he seems to be flirting outrageously with all the young women of Frying Pan Falls, and 1 believe uncle Dunstan is now unnecessarily alarmed lest Charley should terminate his love-making career by marrying a . fascinating barmaid, who is turning the heads of young men

in all conditions of life in those parts."

"Margaret ! Do not say such dreadful things. Would it do any good, if I were to write to him do you think ? I would risk it to save.him from ruining himself."

" I do not think he is in the slightest danger of ruining himself," said Miss Latimer, cooly. " If there is any safety in- numbers, Charley must be remarkably safe ; he speaks of a fresh charmer in each of his letters to me-and by the way, I do not fancy that when men are desperately in love, they show such an ardent desire to publish the fact."

" Oh, Margaret ! How unsentimental you are ! I do not think you could ever be in love with anyone-but I suppose it is for the best-it must be a comfort to you."

"There is no doubt," said Margaret, gravely, "that I ought to derive abundant sources of consolation from the knowledge that ray life is not likely to be disturbed by any sentimental emotions. Dolly, my dear," she went on, with a slight laugh, "do you not think you sometimes talk non- sense? However I must be going now. My darling, do not think me cold ; I am so glad at your happiness, and I like Mr. Gower so much that I can honestly congratulate you. But take my advice in one thing-tell uncle Dunstan, your- self, and at once, and get over his objections for good and all. If he sees you are quite sure of yourself, I do not think he will show any open opposition to your marriage."

' "It does not depend on his consent," said Dorothea, with

a little toss of the head.

"Of course not, but you and he are fond of each other ; you will not be comfortable with a sort of smothered hostility between you. It is the better plan to have it all out at once and make it up afterwards."

Miss Broadhurst cogitated on her cousin's advice, but soon came to the conclusion that Margaret did not understand uncle Dunstan like she herself did. However, as it was a pity to begin a fresh argument, she murmured some sort of vague assent, reserving to herself the right of acting in accordance with her own better judgment. That better judgment prompted her to cast about for another means of communication in default of her cousin, and she next tried to persuade Maurice to bear the news himself. But Maurice, recognising no jurisdiction of Mr. Powell in the matter, respectfully though firmly declined, and she was fain to have recourse to her mother, who put on ber bonnet and went to see her brother, in the full belief that he would join in her raptures.

He listened in grim silence to her story, and when she had rushed through her catalogue of dear Dorothea's delight, and dear Maurice's adoration, and the charms of both, and the brilliancy of the match, and the similarity of disposition, even in the matter of sugarless coffee and Gregorian chants, he got up without a word, and went into a little room adjoining, where he kept his books. From thence he presently emerged, carrying a dingy-looking brown volume of rather alarming size. " May I beg of you Dora," he said, "to give this book to my niece ? I have marked a sermon in it which 1 wish her to read. Further than this, I have no comment to offer on the statement which you have just

made to me."

"Sermons !" cried Mrs. Broadhurst. "What can Dorothea have todo just now with the lucubrations bf some musty old Father ? She is not going to be a nun."

"The work which I have placed in your hands is not by any of the Fathers, whom you appropriateiy and becomingly term musty ; it is by an eminent divine of our own church, and the passage which I have marked treats of mixed marriages."

"Really, Dunstan, you are too absurd. Did I tell you that Maurice iGower was bigoted, or had any nonsense of

that kind ? He has seen too much of the world for that. My private opinion is that he would believe, in the course of time, anything that Dorothea told him."

"That would not say much for either his stability of character or sense of religion," said Mr. Powell, drily.

" It is of no use to argue with you, that is evident," retorted his sister. " Whatever one says is turned against one. At any rate both Dolly's father and I are delighted at the engagement."

"In that case," said Mr. Powell, nothing, of course, remains to be said by anyone. Still, as my niece's godfather, I should like to have one interview with her, and ascertain exactly on what ground she is standing. If I find that there is any degree of probability either that Mr. Gower will embrace her creed, or that she will be perverted to his, I shall be satisfied. In the former case I shall sincerely rejoice, in the latter I must leave her to the mercy of God, and the consequences of her own act."

" Perhaps you would like to see Mr. Gower too, and catechize him," said Mrs. Broadhurst, ironically.

"I have no concern whatever with Mr. Gower's creed further than as it concerns my niece."

"Well, I will tell Dolly what you say, and try to per- suade her to come to you, but the fact is, you have frightened the poor child so much lately with your sternness, that she is afraid to look at you. She is sensitive, and is not blessed with Margaret Latimer's sublime self-control and composure.''

"Pray let us leave poor Margaret's name out of this discussion," saidjMr. Powell. "I am very sorry that I have frightened DorotH» ; surely both you and she must know how strong is my affection for her." He was hurt and showed it in his tone, but Mrs. Broadhurst, though she prided herself on her quick-wittedness, did not perceive it, and went home congratulating herself that she had been able at length to silence her alarming brother. But then, of course, as she said herself, common sense must always carry the day in the long run, over religious fanaticism.

Dorothea, when she heard the result of the interview, just cried a little, enough to wet her eyelashes, but not to disfigure her face, and then went downstairs to meet Maurice, who was riding up the drive.

Naturally, his first question was why she had been crying

and his first action was to administer the best means of consolation which lay in hió power. " What would you do," she said, repressing a little sob, " if you had an uncle who had always professed to be very fond of you, but whose affection always took the form of crossing your dearest wishes, and frightening you out of your wits

besides ?"

" I think I should let the uncle and his affectioa go to-Jericho^" let us say," answered Maurice, promptly. " My darling, has Mr. Powell been tormenting you about

me ?"

" He has. been saying awful things to mama-talked about leaving me to the mercy of God-" 1

" An admirable resolution on his part, I should say."

" Oh, yes, but it was the way he put it. He thinks everybody bad who does not think just the same as he does. You are not like that are you? You do not think all Anglicans wicked, do you ? "

" My darling child, do you imagine for one moment that I think you worse than I am ? 1 have no doubt either that Mr. Powell possesses all the virtues which, you say, he will not allow to his opponents, but he shall not torment you ;

you are my own little saint, Dorothea ; an'd if he talks any more nonsense to you, I shall go and heard him in his den."

"That was what I wanted you to do at first, but you

would not."

" I was a brute to refuse, only I really did not think he was such an ogre. However, to make amends, I will go to- morrow. You shall not be tormented for any uncle in

Christendom."

" I had rather you did not go now ; it will only make matters.worse. After all, no,one can manage him as well as I can ; mama irritates *him ; I wish I had gone myself."

"Then it is only on Mrs. Broadhurst's account of what Mr. Powell said to her that is worrying you. It is not worth a'second thought, you are my own Dorothea, and I will keep you against all the parsons in Castlereagh. Besides, what can Mr. Powell do to you beyond hurling an array of Anglican divines at your head ; and I do not think they will hurt you much ; and by the way, what is that ugly looking book ? It looks suspiciously like one of the gentlemen in question."

" You are quite right ; it is a book of sermons, and this is the one uncle Dunstan has sent me to read," she said, holding it open in front of him.

Maurice began to laugh. " You can lend it to me when you have done with it, Dolly. What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander."

Dolly laughed, too, a little, and then assuming a pretty air of rebuke, said, " After all he is my uncle and my god- father besides, and we ought not to speak in that way. of him. Maurice, do you think you could do me a great

favour ?"

" A thousand if I could, provided always you do not ask me to join Mr. Powell's flock," he said gaily, as. though such a request were not within range of possibility.

"Oh! it is not that," said Dorothea, "I will not tell you what it is yet, but at any rate you promise to do this one thing, when I ask you, and without knowing what it is

beforehand."

" My darling, I trust you blindly, and promise to do what yon like and when you like, -and without asking any impertinent questions."

On the strength of this blind promise, Dorothea forgot her griefs and anxieties, and leaving her uncle and his ob- jections on one side, she began to chatter about theatricals and her destined part therein. I wish you would take Captain Carstairs," she said; " you know I have promised to be ' Bella,' and if you will not do the Captain, Mr. Walter Grimleigh must, and I should not like acting with him a hifc-"

" I wonder what you would say, Dorothea, if I asked you to do me a favour, in my turn ; do you think you would consent ? " said Maurice, rather seriously.

"That would depend on what the favour was."

" You are not so trusting aa I ara, but I have always meant to beg you to give up these theatricals. In the first place, the play is so abominably vulgar, worthy of the author in fact, or rather its compiler, for it is a sort of a medley of everything that is low and contemptible in all the plays of the last twenty years ; it is full of innuendoes beside pshaw ; what could one expect from Fitzalan. And, my darling, is not this rather a large place for you to appear in public ? Any street lounger who likes to got and pay his shilling will bé at liberty to criticise you, and how should we all feel if some drunken brute chose to be insolent?"

" That is one of the reasons I wanted you to act with me, and not Mr. Walter Grimleigb. ; you could protect me from any impertinence."

" How could I protect you ? I should be utterly power- less. And, dear Dorothea, for some reasons, I had almost rather Walter Grimleigh acted with you than I, though I should feel furious with him all the time. But, darling, I am talking nonsense. You will not allow your kindness to be abused by Fitzalan-you will not refuse the first thing I have asked you ?" He looked at her with entreating eyes that were almost irresistible, but she kept her own fixed on

the ground. "If only you had told me before, Maurice," ' she said, reproachfully. ,

" But it is only within the last few days that I have had the right to say a word to you on the subject, and, after the first alarm, I must confess I had forgotten ali about this miserable play until you reminded me of it. Do you suppose that, since Tuesday night, I have once had time to think about anything so contemptible? It could not dwell in my thoughts for a second if they had not dragged you into it. Oh ! my dear, say that you will let them look somewhere else for their ' Bella ; ' I could not bear to see you with the tutor on one side and that count on the other, taking liberties with you for the amusement of the mob."

" But supposing they cannot find some one else to take the part?"

" You need not be uneasy about that. I am sure that they will not find any one else to look so lovely and act so well, but there are plenty of young ladies whose 'Bella' . would be quite good enough for the rest of the company."

It was not in human nature to resist such delicate flattery from a lover. Dorothea looked up, quite mollified, and after a minute's hesitation she said, "I promise you this, then, I will not act unless it is absolutely necessary to prevent the failure of the piece, and I will make mama tell Mr. Fitzalan so to-day. But do you know you are very hard upon that poor man ? I do not like to hear you speak of him with so much contempt as you do ; one would imagine you were jealous of him," she said, mischievously.

"Scarcely, unless I had better cause," he answered in the same tone, " but, in return for your desertion of his company, I consent on my part never to speak of him again unless I have something good to say, which will effectually bar me from speaking of him at all. Dolly, I do not know how to thank you for being so good."

" Do not thank me .at all, or say anything to anyone until I tell you it is finally settled. I shall have to be very careful so as not to hurt anyone's feelings."

Such amiable sentiments, of course, called forth a fresh shower of endearments and commendations, in the course bf which Dorothea learnt that she was an angel of goodness and a queen of beauty, and that never since the world began had anyone been actuated by such sublime and delicate and disinterested motives. In his fervour Maurice pledged his word not to attempt any further interference or remonstrance in the matter of the play, but to leave it all in her hands to pacify Mr. Fitzalan, soothe the Grimleighs, content her mother, and finally please herself and him by sitting in happy obscurity among the audience, while some bolder and less beloved, and altogether more commonplace damsel, should win herself a short notoriety as "Bella

Bellew."

It was bedtime that evening before Dorothea had an opportunity of speaking to her mother, but . she seized it as

soon as it presented itself, and began boldly, "Mama, Maurice does not want me to act."

'. What nonsense, my dear," cried her mother, "I knew - he did n°t like it long ago, but I thought he would have had

the sense to hold his tongue. Whyychild, we should offend the Grimleighs mortally if you were to draw back now, and the Count, not to mention Mr. Fitzalan, who certainly ought not to be slighted, because he is not so well off now as he once was, and may be again. You cannot break yonr

word now.

"1 know that, mother," said Dolly, sadly, 4' and I have been trynig to make Maurice.look at it in that'light, but he is quite obstinate, and 1 feel wretched about it. It was as much as I could do to make him consent to let me take the

part, supposing no substitute could be found. ' What shall

we do?"

"Oh, he has given his consent so far, has he? He is very kind I am sure. My dear child do not distress your- self, leave, the matter in my hands. 1 will make it all right with everybody. Whatever we do we' must keep in with the Grimleighs."

"Yes, mother, they have been so kind," put inDorothea. "Of course they have, and Mrs. Grimleigh ' iV a very superior woman. As I said, I will make it all right with her, and we can settle what to do about a substitute. Meantime do you keep Maurice iri good humour-every man has a crochet of his own-and, if the substitute cannot be managed, and you have to act after all, we will not let him know till the last moment, so that he will have no time to make himself uncomfortable about it. But learn your part, dear child, at any rate, so as to be prepared in case of accidents. The play is very clever, there is no doubt, and Bella's part is the best, I think, though Mabel prefers Mrs. Spanker. 1 hope she will not make a mess of it." .

"Thank you, dear mother, I am glad you look at it in that way. I have been quite unhappy since Maurice spoke to me this morning, but if you will manage it all for me of course I need not worry any more. Do you know I cannot ? help thinking Maurice is a little bit jealous of Mr. Fitz-

alan.'

"Very likely, dear," said Mrs. Broadhurst, " it generally is the case where two young men are intimate in the same house, but now that Maurice has secured you he should be satisfied and leave Mr. Fitzalan alone. By the way, I wonder Mrs. Grimleigh does not remonstrate with Mabel, who is setting her cap at him in the most barefaced manner. I am sometimes quite ashamed for her. She has chosen Mrs. Spanker for no reason on earth but that he may make love to her. Thank God ! my dear, you never try to attract men, and certainly there is no need."

" I hope I should not do it under any circumstances whatever. I had much rather be neglected than forward, but you are a little hard on Mabel, she only wants a little more self control. Good night, mother," said ^Dorothea, with a filial kiss, " Mrs. Grimleigh is a good woman, but I am glad you are not like her, I might be more like.Mabel if you were."

" God bless you, my sweet child," piously responded her parent, and thé", mother and daughter retired to their respective pillows in that placid frame of mind which is said to spring from a good conscience ; or, perhaps we might say,, from a good bump of self esteem.

. (To be continued.)