Chapter 63621408

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Chapter NumberIII
Chapter TitleA BUSINESS HOLIDAY.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63621408
Full Date1889-01-03
Page Number0
Corrections3
Word Count1696
IllustratedN
Last Corrected2018-07-03
Newspaper TitleIllustrated Sydney News (NSW : 1853 - 1872)
Trove TitleIris: An Australian Story
article text

CHAPTER III.

A BUSINESS HOLIDAY.

The days passed on without much variation in the little house in Carlton. The few pupils that learned painting from Iris helped to bring her small orders, and she had two commissions for Mrs.

Morcombe, two sea-side views, for which her

own price was to be fixed.

But they were not to be sketches of any of the usual watering places, St. Kilda, Brighton, Queenscliff and so on, but picturesque spots not much

known. So Iris decided to take the train to Cheltenham, near Mordialloc, and sketch some of the coastal scenery between there and Brighton. Mrs Vaughan had told her of the place, and, bidding her mother a loving good-bye, Iris started off one morning, not without some anxiety lest her mother should be ill while she was absent, for she had never left her alone for a whole day before.

The morning was glorious, not too warm so far, but Iris was lightly clad in a charming linen dress of gray, and with her white sailor hat, simply but artistically trimmed with a plain band of black velvet and a bunch of white daisies, she made a fair picture.

So thought a grave faced man, whose only companion she was, on the Mordialloc train, and who regarded her rare beauty and the girlish grace

with wistful interest.

The pretty little suburbs of Malvern, Armadale, Toorak, and so on, interested Iris, and her attention was only for the outside world until they reached Caulfield, where the racecourse came into sight. There a gentleman got in and shook hands warmly with her fellow-passenger, and after a minute's hesitation she recognised Allan Rainsford.

Flushing with surprise and pleasure, he raised

his hat and came to her side, saying with unmistakable pleasure and respect, " How do you do Miss Vaughan, I am pleased to have met you. This is my friend, Mr. Meredith."

Iris looked straight into his face for the first time, and bowed.

She did not altogether like the present turn of affairs ; it might have proved a great assistance to have met Mr. Rainsford only. She could have asked him about the coastal scenery, and the shortest way down from the station, but this

stranger made it awkward.

So Iris did not speak, and to Allan's remarks she only answered in monosyllables until they neared the Cheltenham station, and she prepared to get out.

"Is this your destination, Miss Vaughan ?" said Allan.

" I think it is," she replied, " I am going to sketch along the coast at Cromer, and I am told this is the

nearest way."

The train had stopped now, and he said hurriedly, " Do you know the locality at all ?"

" No ; but mamma told me a good deal about it,"

she answered, as she passed them to the carriage door.

" I can do my business here as well as at the next station, so I shall stop here,' said he, ' and if I can be of any assistance - what, aren't you coming, Meredith ?" for the train was moving on, and his

friend was in it.

" 'I shall see you later on," was the somewhat vague reply, as Meredith raised his hat to Iris.

They went out of the station and down the long reddish-sanded road which led to the sea ; and it was only in human nature that the girl's spirits should be cheered by the pleasant companionship of this bright young fellow, although it was impossible for her to forget that this day meant money, daily food and clothing, and she had nothing to spare. So her steps were quick, and her face full of purpose, while she politely and sensibly talked to Allan Rainsford.

" What a hurry you are in, Miss Vaughan, " he said at last. " I was hoping you were taking a little

holiday."

" No, Mr. Rainsford ; I have two commissions to execute today, or rather to get raw material for them, and I want to get to the beach and choose my subjects as soon as I can and be at work. So I must hurry, you see," she said, and her cheerful tone, so full of purpose and energy, made Allan feel what a butterfly existence his was in comparison, and he a man, of the supposed working half of humanity.

At last they reached the pleasant green lane bordered by the thickly-growing ti-tree hedge, which abounds on the coasts of Victoria. A few white blossoms remained on the trees to tell of the beauty of the past spring, but it gave way to other flowers now that the summer had come, and orchids and heath, clematis and wild fuschia glorified the earth with their delicate beauty

At the end of the lane the sea burst upon them, a shimmer of blue, sparkling and brilliant with

sunbeams.

How lovely it was to stand and inhale the pure fresh air from the ocean. Iris took off her hat in childlike delight - this, after the stuffy little street in Carlton, it was a breath of Paradise !

A longing filled her heart suddenly that she was free for this one day, just to roam as she liked on this lovely coast. Cove after cove stretched before her as they stood on the cliff's height and looked along it for miles. Then, turning to their left, they saw the beginning of the Nine Mile Beach, a stretch of white sand that ran like a snowy fringe around the blue expanse, past the new watering-place, Mentone, Mordialloc, Frankston, and was lost between there and Dromana. Behind Mentone and Mordialloc rose the Dandenong Ranges, a soft, greyish purple in the early summer morning. Twenty, thirty pictures were here for the artists' brush, and Iris presently became her practical self again, inspired by it all.

" This will be rough travelling for you, Miss Vaughn," said Allan, " if we get down here by the cliff path, but it is neatly a mile further if we go on to the road."

But Iris was young and agile, and safely made

the descent.

Now a difficulty arose indeed, for the tide was out, and from the beach to the first cove was a long distance of deep water to be crossed. Iris looked about in dismay - no loose stones of less than half a ton in weight, no planks.

She turned to Allan with a face of concern.

" It is along these rocky coves that mamma told me I should find the most beautiful bits of scenery ; what can I do ? Could we get down from the cliff further

on ?" she asked.

" No, Miss Vaughan. A man might do it ; but he could not ascend it again, and you never could. But I see along this beach a boat-house, and perhaps - by Jove, there's a boat out now, and it's making for that very place ; I'll stop it," said Allan, and, suiting the action to the word, he started off, while Iris, sitting on a gigantic boulder,

watched him.

Evidently the colloquy was satisfactory, for one of the men jumped out, and, returning to the boathouse, brought out some clean sacks. Throwing them to his mate in the boat he took Allan on his shoulders and waded up to the boat, which flew over the water and was soon up to Iris.

She stepped on to some high boulders and was carefully assisted in by her companion.

Soon they came to a cave, very quaint and weird, with strange creepers growing over the top of it in hardy luxuriance. Iris saw at once that it would make a beautiful and forcible picture, and, not feeling perfectly at her ease with the two fishermen and Allan Rainsford as onlookers while she sketched, politely suggested to him that he should continue his way along the coast and she would stay at this

cave and work.

Seeing that she honestly wished it he did so, and for a couple of hours she painted away busily, and with very good result, too, for she adhered to the exquisite scheme of color provided for her from Nature's color-box as closely as she could.

Her sketch completed, the young artist rose, weary, dispirited, and most unfeignedly hungry, for it was now 2 o'clock, and the sea air had had its effect upon a town bred girl.

She had brought a humble lunch with her, a substantial sandwich of roast beef and a large Bath bun. A small bottle of milk completed the menu.

Before commencing Iris looked about for the boat, but it was nowhere in sight, and a great uneasiness took possession of her.

The peculiar sense of loneliness in the dark cave suddenly struck her with a fresh discomfort, but, accustomed to control her fears for her mother's sake, she deliberately sat down, ate her lunch, and

drank the bottle of milk, which, alas ! might easily . have been mistaken for chalk and water by a country-bred girl.

Iris carefully surveyed the rocky coves in front of her and decided to go forward and find another

pretty spot.

The climbing was awkward, because so many rocks were overgrown with a slippery green moss, caused by the fresh water springs that abound on the rocky part of that coast-line.

Narrowly escaping severe falls over and over again, she passed three pretty beaches, then saw a little ahead of her a most peculiar boulder that had become detached from the cliff, and, being pre- vented by a massive ridge of rocks from falling, was resting in an almost upright position, like the tower of Pisa, looking most picturesque, a very king among his strong companions.

Iris, delighted with this strange spot, which her mother had described accurately to her, sat down to sketch, when the welcome sound of oars broke

the silence.

To Be Continued.