Chapter 64974238

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Chapter NumberXV
Chapter TitlePLOT AND COUNTER-PLOT.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64974238
Full Date1881-04-23
Page Number0
Corrections0
Word Count1979
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleIllustrated Sydney News (NSW : 1853 - 1872)
Trove TitleThe Golden Link
article text

CHAPTER XV.

PLOT AND COUNTER-PLOT.

Matthew Bolton knowing nothing of what had taken place, of how Janet and Phillip had learned to understand each other, and impatient to bring his plans to a successful close, resolved upon a bold stroke-he would give a ball, to which Janet and other young ladies of his acquaintance

should be invited.

Of course it would not be a very imposing affair, but it would be made extremely delightful by the homely manner

in which it was carried out.

Martha Woolston, who knew nothing of the old squatter's real intentions, experienced some misgivings, and wondered what he meant by thus departing from what had become almost habitual with him, a systematic avoidance of the company of the fair sex ; but she wisely said nothing, nor even appeared surprised ; yet she was none the less watchful or dangerous.

Edith was delighted at the idea of the dancing party, and asked Janet to come over early in the morning that they might assist each other in dressing for the occasion.

Janet was very pretty, and she knew she was, and knew ^, also that others knew it, so she tried to make herself look as well as possible on that day, and in this she succeeded

admirably.

Even Edith, who was not much given to flattery, could not help whispering to her,

"You do look well to-night."

This was a great deal for Edith to say, and Janet knew it, and it made her more glad than if she had been told so by anybody else.

So she and Edith went down into the large parlour, which had been converted into a ball-room, perfectly contented with herself and determined to enjoy the dancing to the very utmost.

Matthew Bolton was there, sitting on one of the chairs near the end of the verandah, his neighbour being Mr. Wilkinson, the Bank Manager, who was busily explaining to him the advantages to be derived from developing the export trade in Australian meat. Matthew Bolton patiently listened to the Bank Manager's arguments, but said I nothing.

He was in a rare good humour, or he would never have sat there listening to Mr. Wilkinson ; he had made up his mind that this would be the night when Phillip should tell Janet of his love, and it was therefore with no little pleasure that he remarked how the two talked and danced together, and how cousin James watched them with ill

concealed interest.

Perhaps if he had known of what had taken place at Throwaway Creek, and how Janet, Phillip, and cousin James understood their real feelings towards each other, the smile on his features might have been less bright and

the tone of his voice less cheerful.

But Phillip and J anet were on their guard ; Phillip had told her all, and she had told cousin James.

Matthew Bolton's eye followed the couple as they walked from the room into the broad cool verandah, and from thence descended into the shrubbery where they slowly wandered towards a rustic seat placed beneath a large orange tree.

As the two sat down Janet began to think Phillip's con- duct a trifle strange ; he was playing the assumed part of the lover more earnestly and more naturally than she expected.

But what was she to do ?

" Janet, I have brought you here because I want to speak

to you alone."

Then, after a pause,

" You know what Matthew Bolton's views are respect- ing us."

"Yes, you mentioned them to me yourself," she replied somewhat coldly.

Then came some words which thawed the frost,-" Janet, don't you think I'm a fool. With the exception of Edith and you, I hate women ; Edith, I can't marry, and you I won't. There, you have it flat, " he went on in his own queer way, though every word took a load off Janet's breast; " but look you, I must have from you the truth-you have told me that you love your cousin James ; is that true ?"|

She raised her eyes to his-she knew what he was going to say ; but she could not have spoken for the world.

"Of course it is," he went on, scarcely heeding her look, " and you may be sure that you have nothing to fear from me ; and the best thing you can do is to hurry back to the ball-ruom and tell your cousin what I have told you."

" But how about Mr. Bolton ?"

' ' Hang the old man ; what's he got to do with it I'd like to know ? Do you think because he's a rich man, because he promised my poor father to be one of my guardians, that he can make me fall in love when I have made up my mind not to ? No, no, Janet ; you may bring a horse to the water, but you can't make him drink-you can't make him drink if he won't. Bad enough for me to give up the sea-that's enough for me for years to come, I can tell you."

" Don't you like the land, then ?"

" Hate it, as I do the devil. I beg your pardon-I mean as I do-as I do-what the devil shall I say ?-there, hang me if I have not said it again ; but you must forgive me to- night."

"Phillip, I wish you may always want a friend," she said

thankfully."

" Much obliged to you I am sure."

" No, I don't mean it in that way ; but so that I may have an opportunity of showing you how much I appreciate your kindness in this."

"Eh-bosh-do you hear? Go and look after cousin James ; he must be getting impatient, and then we shall have another row. You won't ? Oh ! very well j if you

don't like to do it I will."

And away he went, and not before it was time.

Cousin James had been patiently, or impatiently rather, sitting near Matthew Bolton, who chatted away in a style most unusual with him ; at last, with the slightest possible tinge of satire in his voice, the old squatter remarked that Janet looked very lovely that night."

Cousin James knew what this meant well enough, so he replied, carelessly,

" Do you think so, sir ? I was just thinking I had seen

her much better."

But the old man could see through that.

He made himself very provoking, more provoking during the after conversation, but somehow or other he could not rouse cousin James as he wished to ; for the memory of the words which Janet had spoken to him, that she held her love above her life, dwelt within his breast, and so old Matthew's arrows were blunted before they left the bow.

At last the crisis came.

, The old feeling of jealousy began to creep over his heart, and he began to feel the old dislike of Phillip.

He determined to go into the shrubbery and reproach Janet for leaving him so much to himself ; he would have done so, but Edith came up with one of her loveliest smiles and begged him to have just one turn with her in a valse

round the room.

And so he was compelled to dance with the sister of the man he was beginning to dislike for the second time in his

life.

Her first words added fuel to the flame.

"Does not Phillip look happy'to-night ? and he was in such a bad temper all this morning. "

"Was he in a bad temper?" was the half sulky, half sneering rejoinder,

And then nothing could make him open his lips again until the dance was over, when he thanked her very coldly for "the pleasure," and so forth, in quite a set phrase.

[Continued on page io.)

{Continued from page 7.)

But the truth had come to her now, and as he turned away she laid her pretty little hand upon his arm, and looked into his eyes, and laughed such a merry, merry laugh, and then saying, " Oh, Mr. Kingston, what a fool you are," left him to find out whatever could be the meaning in it all.

He stood perfectly still for some seconds, and then exclaimed to himself aloud,

"The girl is mad."

" No more mad than you are, James Kingston."

And Phillip Armstrong laid his hand on his shoulder and

looked into his face.

" Sir f ' was the reply, as cousin James somewhat rudely shook off the hand of the man who had just done him the greatest kindness he could possibly have desired.

" Your Bervant, Mr. Kingston," and Phillip bowed nearly to the ground.

"What the devil do you mean, sir? You had better not."

"Yes, I had, James Kingston, you know nothing at all about it ; come here. "

He led him quietly to the door of the room and bade him step out ; then, pointing to a white figure at the further end of the verandah, he whispered, "She'll make it all right," and stepped back into the parlour, and was soon whirling the sister he loved more than any woman on earth round and round as fast as they could go in the mazes of a galop, and both of them laughed heartily at "poor cousin James" for having thought it possible that Janet Carter should ever be Mrs. Phillip Armstrong.

And when Matthew Bolton looked round and saw their

gladness it pleased him ; for he thought to himself, " The lad cares for no one in the room but these two.."

And the old man was quite right, only he made a little mistake as to which of the two Phillip liked the best.

And every one seemed to get happier and happier, and merrier and merrier ; yet there were very few who dreamed of what had happened that night ; even Martha Woolston, with all her unceasing vigilance, never suspected the game that was being played before her very eyes.

And cousin James ?

Janet had told him all ; how sorry Phillip was that he had ever caused them a troubled thought, but that it was all over now, and that they might make themselves happy at once ; for he had vowed that, though he were dragged up to the altar, he would say, No.

And then they slipped back into the room, where their absence had scarcely been noticed.

And cousin James walked up to where Edith and Phillip were standing, waiting, as the latter said, until there was "an opening for another go," and he held out his hand and was beginning to beg pardon for the rudeness of which he had been guilty, when Phillip interrupted him with

" There, that'll do, can't you Bee you are keeping Edith waiting."

And off they went, but not before Edith had fhad time again to laugh a merry laugh and to say

"Oh ! Mr. Kingston, what a fool you were !" And so everybody was happy that night.

Matthew Bolton, because he thought he had beaten cousin

James.

Cousin James, because he was no longer jealous of Phillip Armstrong.

Janet, because she knew that Matthew Bolton was check- mated in the plot against her real happiness.

Phillip, because, as he said, he had got people to know what people meant.

And Edith, dear, sweet Edith, was happiest of them all ; because, to her simple nature, everybody seemed pleased with everybody else.

But amid all the bright sunshine that gladdened their hearts they saw not the distant cloud, no bigger than a man's hand, which betokened the coming storm.

(To be continued.)