|Chapter Title||MR. BOLTON MAKES UP HIS MIND.|
|Newspaper Title||Illustrated Sydney News (NSW : 1853 - 1872)|
|Trove Title||The Golden Link|
I ? - »II' ? S~ » - « ^-? « -. . - ' 7
The G&M&m Jkiuk*
(Continued from our March Issue).
MB. BOLTON MAKES UP HIS MIND.
The excitement was over afc last. Phillip had taken leave of his old schoolmates, and bad shaken hands with the Principal, who bade him keep up a Btout heart and man- fully face the many difficulties which he would encounter on his way through life.
And so he passed into the great world, to fight and to strive, as others had fought »nd striven, all for the same end, for do not all strive for the same end ?-surely, their own happiness and the happiness of those whom they love best,-only different; people seek it in different ways, and
have different ideas of it.
Phillip felt that he had entered upon a new sphere of existence, but he could scarcely realize the heavy nature of the responsibilities that had devolved upon him ; he felt like one in a dream, everything around him seemed familiar, yet strange and unnatural.
Deep as was the resentment entertained by him towards Matthew Bolton, he found it impossible to conceal from him- self that the old squatter, was a man of most profound common sense, and, curiously enough, Phillip had to a great extent unwittingly become thoroughly imbued with many of Mr. Bolton's notions.
80 far so good ; but not being as yet sufficiently discreet to choose between the good and the evil, he had adopted, young fellow as he was, by far the most eccentric article of
the old man's creed.
That article was, " It is unwise for a man to take unto
himself a wife."
There are men who, when the first passion of their youth has been called away to her rest, have held it a sacred duty to remain faithful to the memory of that one love ; and there is a deep, a holy feeling about this which one cannot help respecting ; but Matthew Bolton was not of those, neither waB he one of those whom the world call "Men who have had a disappointment in their youth." Heavens ! "What a slight word to apply to that maddening heart-torture-that endless, hopeless, lightless despair erasing suddenly, darkly and for ever, from its hell-born hands, that one beautiful flower of heaven which only is left to remind us pf that which once was, which alone, with its sisters of faith and hope, hath power to paint to us the dear earthly image of those beauties which shall be here-
Matthew Bolton had never loved. When a boy he had vowed he would never marry, and he had religiously kept . his word. What his motives were for this singular freak
he of course only knew himself. There was only the bare fact for such friends among the fair sex as he possessed to comment on, and he took precious good care not to let them know any more.
"Set a woman's tongue going," he used, rather ungra- ciously, to say, ' 'and the old gentleman himself cannot stop
all the lies she will tell."
It was very uncomplimentary on his part, and did not cause him to be regarded as a kind of Don Juan by the fair ones in whose company he occasionally found himself ; but he did not care for what was said of him so long as he kept his neck out of the halter and remained in that state of single blessedness which he fondly imagined helped to make him " a better and a wiser man." Perhaps he may have been right ; at any rate, Phillip was strongly of that opinion when he went to Ashfield, and up to the time of the famous match between the " Juniors " and the " Seniors " nothing had induced him to alter his mind in the slightest degree.
In fact, he expressed his views so openly and so strongly at school that, though he found everybody ready to listen to him, apparently for the novelty of the thing, he failed in obtaining a single convert to his unique doctrine respecting
the utter uselessness of the fair sex.
Well, after all, his crotchet did him some good ; it helped to keep him out of not a few of the snares' which so often beset inexperienced youth in connection with love at first sight ; moreover, it gained him golden opinions from the principal tutor, who made Matthew Bolton almost beside himself by informing him, in a confidential letter, that he considered Phillip Armstrong one of the best-conducted stu- dents in the college ; the result of which letter was that Phillip by the next post received a cheque for £25.
Not a word came with it-just a simple cheque, in an un- registered envelope ; and Phillip, in his matter-of-fact-way, first cashing the cheque to make sure that it was all right, wrote back the very same evening, thanking the old squatter for his extreme kindness, and at the same time expressing his bewilderment as to what he could have done to deserve it ; and so the whole matter rested.
But Matthew Bolton was very pleased with both letters, and he made no secret of it. Edith, of course, was delighted beyond measure, and Martha Woolston appeared to be so ; but Edith, with all her simplicity, was not to be deceived. She saw through the woman, she saw that she hated Phillip in her heart, and she wrote and told her brother all her thoughts ; and he wrote back saying she was a silly, foolish girl, continually frightening herself about things which she
did not understand.
Edith felt rather uncomfortable at this rebuff, which made her keep her thoughts to herself, ia the secret hope that, after all, her brother might be right.
But he was wrong ; the love of Edith for him had made her wise beyond her simplicity.
Martha Woolston was plotting deeper and deeper. She felt she had set her life upon a cast, and stand the hazard of the die she must-to reduce that hazard to nothing now became her chief object ; and she commenced her little game of loading the dice by whispering, whenever a chance presented itself, words of poison into Matthew Bolton's ear, making him believe against his will-nay, against his very senses,-evil things of Phillip, which, without the dark insinuations of Martha Woolston, he would never have sus-
But this was only the beginning. The great trouble of Phillip Armstrong had yet to come; and he went on his
appointed way without dreaming of the plotting of Martha Woolston against his happiness.
He maintained, as of old, that women and love were the two greatest frauds of the day.
Even the charms of Janet Carter had failed to convince
him that his opinions were wrong, although he unhesitat- ingly acknowledged that she was another exception to his sweeping rule, but he loved her more as a sister than as a friend ; for he had very soon found out to whom she had given the greater share of her heart ; and, in spite of the chaffing of Matthew Bolton and Edith, he knew, as well as if he held the wheel of fortune in his hand, that Janet Carter would never be wife of his.
But the old squatter thought otherwise ; and, after turn- ing the matter over in his mind for some days, he came to the conclusion that Phillip Armstrong and Janet Carter were formed to be husband and wife.
And when he made up his mind he regarded his decision as an accomplished fact, forgetful of the old proverb which
I reminds us that " There is many a slip between the cup and