Chapter 64974314

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Chapter NumberXVII
Chapter Title"THY WILL BE DONE."
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64974314
Full Date1881-05-14
Page Number0
Corrections0
Word Count2727
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleIllustrated Sydney News (NSW : 1853 - 1872)
Trove TitleThe Golden Link
article text

CHAPTER XVII.

"THY WILL BE DONE."

Phillip found his stay in Sydney prolonged from the few days into two or three weeks, and, to say the truth, he was not sorry ; for he did not care to return to a dwelling in which the evil spirit of Martha Woolston cast its evil shade in every direction.

He had told Matthew Bolton in a letter that it would be necessary for him to remain in Sydney a few days longer, and was now anxiously awaiting further instructions from the old squatter.

The expected letter came at last, and with it one from his sister Edith. He first opened Mr. Bolton's missive, which was exactly what he expected, with the exception of one paragraph, and even that paragraph was not a very extra- ordinary one ; it simply hinted to him, delicately but at the same time strongly, that the old squatter would, be better pleased if he (fhillip) would endeavour to show a little more cordiality, at any rate outwardly, to Martha Woolston, and that this was now the more desirable seeing that, in ali probability, they would have to spend the next two or three years uuder the same roof.

As he threw away the torn pieces of the letter, Phillip smiled a sarcastic smile, and then the cloud came on. his brow, as he muttered to himself, " At any rate outwardly 1"

"That's just the way of the world," he went on, talking to himself,-" making clean the outside of the cup ; but Lil be hanged if I'll do it-at least I can't, so that's the English of it. ; I'm bothered if I can."

Then, after a minute's pause, " Now for Edith's note."

Like a child, Phillip always kept the best bit for the last ; and in truth it would have done anybody's heart good to have looked over his shoulder sometimes when he was read- ing one of his sister's letters.

The perusal of the first six pages-Edith always wrote eight, and never crossed them-was continually interrupted by now and theu a merry laugh, when the letter was laid down to allow him to paint to himself and enjoy the scene narrated in its very most minute particular ; and now and then he would bring his flat hand down with a regular thwack on his thigh, and shout out, "Hurrah ! Capital," until the housekeeper, who was clearing away, thought Phillip had gone stark mad.

But when he reached the seventh page a frown came over his brow, which deepened blacker and blacker as he read on until when he had finished, when he cast the letter down

anirrilv with an oath.

"Curse Martha Woolston," he saul, " what does she want coming up here so soon ?" and so on through half-a dozen such-like sentences. "But there will be Edith," and the frown melted from his brow in a moment, "yes, there will be Edith ; I had almost forgotten that."

" Mrs. Woolston, Walter, and I are coming up to Sydney

on Friday."

These were the words which had caused Phillip to pour forth such a volume of expletives ; and, if the truth must be told, they were only the forerunners of a great many more

during the day.

At present, however, he contented himself with yawning and stretching himself to his full length in the arm-chair in which he was sitting, and exclaiming,

" Well, I suppose what must be bided must be bided, as

they say."

Whereupon he rang the bell for the housekeeper, and, on the appearance of that worthy, informed her of what he had just heard, and that he had been desired to tell her to make all the necessary arrangements; the immediate result of which was a statemeut, which occupied some quarter of an hour in delivery, as to all the arrangements which had been made, which were making, which had to be made, which had better be made, and which had better not be made, until Phillip, fairly wearied out, pulled out his watch in the middle of another collection, and conveniently recollected that he wanted to be at Circular Quay at ten punctually, and that he should only just have time to get there, even if he caught the 'bus.

And the next two mornings it was just the same. The same story was told, and the same excuse invented.

At last Thursday came.

After all that had been said and done, Phillip was unhappy about their coming up. Even the pleasure of having Edith there could not counterbalance the misery which he knew he should have to endure under Martha I Wool3ton's unlimited rule.

JN ot. that he cared for Martha Woolston ; but he hated rows, and he knew well enough that where she came they

would inevitably follow.

That same evening Phillip might have been seen quietly wending his way down the street in which the Golden

Fleece Hotel was situated.

Somehow or other, he had become accustomed to finding his way down there of an evening.

As usual, there were some half-a-dozen fellows in the coffee-room when he entered ; but, not caring to speak to aay of them, he seated himself at the farther end of the apartment, and, having filled his pipe, commenced lazily

smoking.

" Bring me the Echo, please," he asked, as his coffee was placed beside him.

lt was brought, and he settled himself down into study- ing it, until, by degrees, the room was emptied. Then he walked up to the tire-place, and, turning his back to it, refilled his pipe and blew away to his heart's content.

Then this thought came across him,

" What the dickens shall I do with myself to-night ?"

And one voice in him said, "Go home;" and another said, "I can't ; I am too tired to read, aud, besides, I hate sitting in that big house alone."

Aud the first voice said again, "You might get into mischief and then the other said, " No, you won't !"

At last he took up the paper again, to see what was going on in the way of amusements.

" Comic Opera !" he exclaimed, as he laid it down again.

" Jolly ; but then one can't go alone. I wish Walter were

here."

And then another thought came to him, and again the two voices spoke ; and the first said, "No," at once, and strongly, and the second " yes," and he was puzzled.

And just at that moment Julia came in, wondering what had made him stay so long.

And, as she stood there with her bright eyes fixed upon him, his last thought grew into a voice, and he said, half

tremblingly,

"tihouid you like to go to the theatre to see the new

nipnp. 9"

j She looked at him for a moment or so with a face half I pleased, half puzzled.

I "I don't know, i'm sure. When do you mean ?"

" To-night."

" To-night !" and then, after a moment's pause, " would you mind waiting half-a-minute, aud I will tell you ?"

And, withuut staying for an answer, she ran out of the room with the cups, for which she had come in.

Five, ten minutes passed, and then, when his patience was almost worn out, the door quietly opened. She stood with her hat on in the opening.

" Well ?" he asked.

She only nodded her head, and retreated ; but a momeut

after returned.

"I thought I heard Mr. Nolan coming, that was all." " This is what you call half-a-minute, eh?"

She smiled quietly. " Will you go first, and wait for me I outside ?"

" Yes, if you like."

"I think that will be best," and he went.

In three minutes more they were on their way to the Theatre Poy al.

I " Won't they wonder at home where I have gone to ?" she

said, and then, half laughing, " at any rate, they can't guess whom I've gone with."

" I should rather think not," he said, laughing too ; I " but," and his voice faltered as he aBked it, " do you often I come out in this way ?"

" Come out ! How do you mean ?" she said in astonish-

ment. " To theatres ?"

"No ; I mean with people who go there," and he jerked his head back in the direction from which they had come.

"Oh, dear no !" she answered in surprise, "Never!" " Then, what made you come to-night with me?"

" I thought you wanted me to, from the way in which you spoke ; and you know I ought to please you whenever I can. Besides, there is no harm in it, is there ?"

"Not in coming with me, I hope," he replied ; " but I trust you won't get into any row about it ?"

" If I did," she answered, as they reached the door of the theatre, "I think I could stand half-an-hour's talking to for the sake of pleasing you."

And Phillip looked right into the heart which spake these words, and therefore he murmured to himself, as he walked

home after leaving her at the door of hers, " A life for a

life."

But the next morning he said, "A life for a life ! What am I thinking about? I can uever marry the girl. Phillip Armstrong, remember yourself in time !"

It was a hard struggle, though, after all, that saying " good-bye," and a lie had to be invented that he was going away for a short time ; and when she begged him to come and see her as soon as he came back, he almost choked as he promised that which he never intended to fulfil.

Yes, it was hard, for a tear-drop stole into his eye as he left the house ; but he dashed it away, and went off to meet his sister and brother, and Mrs. Woolston, determined, if possible, to do his best to make things agreeable, and let Matthew Bolton see what he could do to make some return for the great kindness he had shown to him so long.

Such was Phillip's resolve, and faithfully he determined to keep it. Perhaps it was right not to let the flower blow and then to pluck it from the stalk-best to let it wither in the bud ; I cannot think but that it was best.

But little did he dream of the desolation he had sown in the heart of that poor girl. He had saved her life ; but it was not for this only that she had learned to love him in those few short weeks. Hers was, at the best, a hard home, and his kind words had been to her comforting-" comfort- ing as April showers after the snow"-and now it seemed all gone ; for her heart, in that last farewell, had looked into his, and seen it, and read it, and far moi'e bitterly than ever he had done, did she, though in her sweet woman's way, curse those social forms which forbade her to love the only being in .whom, as yet, she had seen the truth of a man.

Bitterly, bitterly, all that long night she wept, and for many and many a weary day the tear-drop silently, unob- served of any on earth, stole down her soft, pale cheek from those lovely eyes, lovely still, though already dimmed through the intensity of her grief.

But through it all she bowed down her head, and mur- mured, " Thy will be done !"

Martha Woolston could not understand Phillip Armstrong. She had expected she would be received with coldness, il not aversion; but as she, with Edith and Walter, entered the house in William Street, Phillip's air was studiously

uolite.

The woman owned herself completely bewildered.

From an obstinate, wilful, headstrong fellow, Phillip suddenly changed into about as amiable a being as ever

breathed.

At first, Martha Woolston treated it with contempt, then came to the conclusion that he had found out that she had supplanted him in Matthew Bolton's favour, and that there- fore he considered it the wisest plan to keep on good terms with her. She gave him credit for discretion, and a certain amount of sharpness, " If he has good cards he can play them," she said to herself ; "my aim must be to prevent

them to play."

So all Phillip's good resolves were to be frustrated by the wickedness of the woman-all Matthew Bolton's dreams to be swept away, by the poison of the viper he had so ignorantly nurtured.

A week had elapsed since they had arrived in Sydney-a week since Phillip had looked upon that face he had thought, still thought, so beautiful-a week of unutterable anguish to the gentlest and truest heart in the world.

It was evening. There had been a row in the dining room about Walter, and, as usual, on Phillip speaking up for him, the edge of the sword had been turned against him and bitter thiugs had once more been said on both sides.

The dream of peace.was broken, and for ever ; during all that week not a word had escaped his lips in spite of all her taunts, not even an evil thought had been cherished, he had choked them as soon as they had been born-to the utmost of his power he had endeavoured in all things to consult her pleasure, and in all he seemed to have failed.

And to-night had made an end of it all ; she had accused Hm, even before the servant who waited at the table, of the very sin of which she herself was the most guilty-of taking a mean advantage of Matthew Bolton's kindness and old age-of living a life at utter variance with his wishes, and of concealing that from him ; being guilty of the grossest, the most contemptible form of deceit.

She had not troubled herself beforehand to think about the proof of that of which she now accused him ; she but knew that she was playing a desperate game, and that she must play high and quickly or lose everything.

Edith had been perfectly petrified with it all, and gazed with dread on the terrible cloud which she saw gathering

on her brother's brow.

Calmly he awaited the end ; theo, rising from his chair, he left the room, saying, as he went, these few awful words, which made her heart quake with fear before the man whom

she had dared to accuse of her own sin.

" If this be true which you say, God will most assuredly punish it; if not may He forgive you your wicked thought."

And with that he went into his room and locked the

door.

With his arms folded across his breast Phillip sat for well-nigh an hour motionless and silent-the face, nay the whole outward form, a perfect picture of the mind within.

Then, by degrees, the hard set brow relaxed, and he unfolded his arms, and drew the arm-chair to the fire, and laying a book open on the table, so that, in the event of surprise, he might make believe that the storm had had no effect upon him, he buried his head in his hands, and

thought long and deeply of all that had been, of that which

now was.

Long, long into the night that silent form sat, buried in its own sad thoughts ; now that wild hope of his boyhood passed across his mind, and for a moment made his eye sparkle with very glee, but he turned sadly away from it, it was gone for ever.

Wearied out at last with the never-ending train of thought, he sought his rest-a broken troubled sleep, a sleep in which his dreams were so interwoven that they

almost seemed part of the life, and for ever amongst those dreams he saw that pale, pale face, and those sweet blue eyes, and then the morning came, but it was still the same to him, the night had brought him no rest.