|Chapter Title||AND LAST|
|Newspaper Title||Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal (NSW : 1851 - 1904)|
|Trove Title||Bride's Promise|
Chapter V., and Last.
The — th Dragoons were despatched to India, and Jack Beresford sailed with. his regiment, little caring what became of him, longing .only for change. He had excite-' ment enough soon. Long before the news of the Indian Mutiny and its horrors had reached home, Tack was commencing in earnest his
career as a soldier being ever first and foremost, with a wild daring courage that amounted to recklessness, almost wishing to lose his life that Bride might hear how he had died. That thought was always in his heart, her name ever on his lips, when he dashed to the front, sabre uplifted, cutting down all before him, his brave dark eyes flashed with excitement, reckless, heedless of life, thinking only of the fair face he loved, but- could never win for his own. . ? , . And, watching at home, pale and hag gard with anxiety, Bride read eagerly all the news of that terrible time in India, her heart full of the one dread, the one fear that would not go away, the strange presentiment that cam* back day by day, 1 :till, doubt turned to. reality and fear see'rned 'truth. It came at last. The paper, dropped . from Bride's hand — Jack Beresford was amongst thefdeadr his- name1' in the long list of slain. ? ' : She uttered a low heart-broken cry of anguish, and her white grief-stricken face dropped' upon her hands. He was dead — brave', handsome Jack Beresford, who had loved her so truly and so well — Jack was dead. There would be no further struggle now between heart and con science to keep her husband's dying wish. It' was all over— in a foreign land Jack had died a soldier's death, .and lay. far away in a lonely-'- grave ;- Bri'ds weptaad. and bitter tears — she would never know if he had thought of her when dying. ' Oh, Jack,' she sobbed, ' did you for give me, darling/ before you died ?' ? * * . *? ' * Bride's wish, her almost prayer, was granted ; she learnt how Jack had died. When the Indian Mutiny was some time an event of the past, one day there came a visitor to Haughton— the Colonel of poor Jack's regiment, home on sick leave, with an empty sleeve pinned across his breast — a gray-haired veteran with a ; . grim stern face that softened- as he looked down at Bride, pale and sad, standing before him'. ' Lady Haughton,', he said abruptly, 'I have brought. you a message from the dead.' Bride's lip quivered as she asked — ' From Captain Beresford ?' The Colonel took two or three hasty turhs.up and down, the room, unable to meet ' the ' wistful, questioning 'eyes'; then he wheeled round, saying — ' Madam^when he fell,v/e lost one of the finest fellows in the service. I. was as sorry for him as I would have been for my own 'boy.' . A ? i .. . . .-.-??* ' . 'How did ' he ' die ?' faltered Bride, turning a shade paler, and pressing her hands tightly together as she lifted her sade eyes to the 'Colonel's face; ' As a' soldier', sh'snld,' replied the old man-proudly, his. face glowing with pride. 'He was as brave as a lion and feared nothing; he died a hero's death, at the head of his men,5 cheering them on to victory — ay, and they were proud to follow him. 'I' think T see him now, that brave handsome1 boy, as he 'charged, cheering, and waving his sabre. Suddenly he reeled in his saddle and fell. Never can I forget '\ what I felt, when I saw his head go, down. Poor Jack! They carried him to the rear, and he smiled at me as they' were bearing him passed. He died that even ' ing, and was buried at sundown.!': fl Bride's head drooped lower -and lower ? , as he went on. 'I was SQnt for, and he died in my arms —at peace, happy. There wac a smile on his'lips when'his eyes closed for ever. It was not like death— he seemed just to fall asleep; and before he died he bade me hand you this little rjearl ring — he said you gave it him. I think — ah, I know he ? oved you in' the' old days, when you were 3ride Levison ! Poor fellow, he never got over that!' ? ' Did he say anything?' said Bride, her eyes overflowing svith tears. ' Did he send any message ?' ? ?. '.Yes, ha spoke much of you, and his last words were— ' 1?ell her that all is for given, and that I loved her to the end.1 Lady Haughton, he died with your name on his lips; : There— ^do not weep so— he [s at rest and happy.'
There were tears in the old Colonel's eyes as he finished. Jack had told him his story when he was dying, and given him his last message' for Bride, with the little pearl ring and a lock of his hair. 'Thank Heaven,' wept Bride, 'lie' forgave me before he died 1' ?'-.-. * * t .*, . +v. Bride Haughton lives. She has learnt through m uch suffering 'that our lives are not our .own to make or mar as we please : — that we may not say that ''ouflaf is too hard,' our cross too- heiavy, Jind- that j-we tanriot' live' because Happiness' is denied us. , Afrer the first struggle was over she bowed her fair head bowed -, in meek sub mission, and was! taught' that life is not all ended when those we have- loved are gone. There was work for her to do, and meekly and.' humbly she took for' her own the motto she had given Jack'on the' day his regiment marched away — ' Live out your life bravely and well.' There were many sick and' suflering and poor, many weary and heart-broken ones, sbrely needing the love and kind ness tftatrso seldom come to- such.- To these Bride stretched out her right hand in help, and the rentals of Haughton went to succour the sad and soirowful and to gladden many a sunless home. Humbly, lovingly, she worked and works, never forgetting the past ; the look of suffering never leaves the beauti ful sorrowful, face, and there is ever a shadow of sadness resting in the deep blue eyes. And the poor and the weary love tha sweet voice when Bride sits be side the sick and dying reading the Word of Life. Surely, if she has brought peace and comfort even' to one heart, her life would not have been spent in vain. A.. J. W.