|Chapter Title||CHANCE OR FATE|
|Newspaper Title||Illustrated Sydney News (NSW : 1853 - 1872)|
|Trove Title||The Golden Link|
(Continued from our April Issue).
CHANCE OR PATE
A few days after Phillip Armstrong had made himself better understood by cousin. James, he found himself in Sydney, whither he had been sent by Matthew Bolton for the purpose of superintending the despatch of a quantity of material required for station purposes, and while proceed- ing up George Street, near the corner of King Street, a young girl rushed close past him aud stepped forward to
cross the street.
At the same momeut a cab, the driver of which evidently possessed a profound contempt for the regulations issued by the Transit Commissioners, dashed along at full speed.
There was a rush on the part of the crowd of loungers usually found in this portion of the great city thoroughfare ; but it arose more from motives of curiosity than from a
desire to assist in the work of rescue.
Phillip, half stupitíed at first, suddenly perceived the girl's danger. With one bound clearing the distance between them, he pulled her back with one hand and seized
the horse's reins with the other.
The animal started back, then reared and struck savagely at young Armstrong.
The next moment the cab had disappeared, the attention of the policeman on duty and the crowd having become distracted by the spectacle of Phillip and her whom he had rescued at such peril to himself.
"I hope you are not burt, sir."
It was a sweet voice that spoke, but not sweeter than the
features of the speaker, despite the expression of alarm
which overshadowed it.
"Not much," replied Phillip; "at least I hope not."
But the scar of that wound never departed from Phillip's arm ; but in after years he was not ashamed of it, for the dull red mark reminded him of a manly deed, the remem- brance of which would send a thrill through his warm generous heart.
Not caring to be stared at by the crowd, he suddenly j moved away, though without in the least thinking of where > he was going.
Seeing her following him, however, he turned back to ask if he could be of any assistance to her, to which she replied that she was desirous of reaching Oxford Street as soon as possible, as she lived near the South Head Road.
" E am going part of the way," said Phillip, "if you have no objections to my accompanying you."
This was not exactly true ; and why he should have spoken thus would have perplexed him had he asked
himself for an answer.
They walked onward together for two or three minutes, when she noticed him supporting one of his arms with the
" I am afraid your arm is vey painful. Why it is bleed- ing !" and then for the first time he perceived a thin red stream running down his hand.
ISxcess of pain before had nearly made him faint, but the sight of the blood roused him again.
" Never mind, it won't be much," he said smiling.
"Let me tie it up for you ?" she asked, at the same time turning into ii doorway close by.
He followed almost mechanically, and allowed her to un- button his sleeve. She shuddered as the wound became
disclosed to sight, for the skin was scratched and torn ; but, without any ado, she bound it tightly round with her hand-
" You had better go into a doctor's and have it dressed," she said, " I would ask you to come to my home, only no one is there except myself to-night, I am so very, very
He looked down at lier as she said these words-she
seemed to be of about eighteen summers, very fair-very beautiful-her large blue eyes filled with tears as he gazed at her, and made them sparkle in. the gas-light like diamonds. He thought he had never seen such beauties.
" Bnt the handkerchief," he said.
" Oh never mind that," was the answer," it won't matter
in the least."
They were walking on again now. And before she had said "good night," he had learned half her history, and where to return the handkerchief and many things that he had never dreamed of before-tales oE the lives of the
poor-and her " good-night," rang in his ears all that even- ing like sweet music, and it did not even cease in the night, but he heard it whispered in his dreams, and her sweet smile haunted him as the memory of a good act dwells silently yet peacefully with him who has done it. After breakfast, with the assistance of the housekeeper, he con- trived to provide himself with a rude kind of sling, and, after resting his arm all the morning, and having had the handkerchief carefully washed, &c, he set off in the after- noon to restore the same to its rightful owner, choosing to
restore it himself rather than, as she had suggested, send- j
ing it by post.
After considerable difficulty he made his way to the Golden Fleece Hotel, the place to which he had been directed; went in, and, seeing "Coffee Room" written up on the glass window of a door at the end of a long passage, made his way thither.
About half-way along the passage was a door open, and as he reached it, he heard a light footfall, and a moment
after she stood before him.
* "Oh ! I am so glad to see you," she began, and then glancing at his arm ; " I hope there is nothing serious the matter-you are not much hurt are you?"
He shook his head, " No, not much, but there is an ugly bruise, and I shall have to keep ray arm in a sling for a day or two, that's all. Here is your handkerchief, which I have brought back, and thank you very much for it."
"Nay, nay," she replied, " it is I who have all the thanks to give j but for you I might have been "- and she shud- dered as the word came from her lips-" dead now."
"I hope not as bad as that," he said, scarcely knowing what to say.
Then for a minute or two neither spoke.
"There, go on into the coffee room," she suddenly said, half laughing ; "here is Mr. Nolan coming up stairs, and I am not allowed to stand talking here."
On he went of course. There were some six or seveu fel
I lows in the room sitting over a fire in a group, smoking and I drinking, among them he immediately recognized one who ! had sat next him in his last college examination, and whom, Í indeed, he had pulled through.
He was a coarse, ungentlemanly-lookiug fellow, and Phillip was very sorry to find that he was recognized in
The young man came up and spoke to him and introduced him to his companions, and Armstrong felt obliged to join
in their conversation.
He very soon found out that they were all more or less excited with drink ; and he would have given a good deal to have got away out of the reach of their talk.
Julia, for that was her name, looked very much astonished on bringing him his coffee to see him with his new com- panions.
He saw her look, and inwardly cursed them ail.
She placed the cup beside him and was turning away when one of the group caught hold of her waist and asked her some question in a low tone.
[ She struggled to get free, and the drunken brute in trying ! to detain her slipped from his chair and rolled on to the
He swore a fearful oath as he recovered himself, and rushed after her out of the room, the others quickly finishing up what they were drinking, followed him as fast as possible, one of them saying
" Come along, he'll get himself into a jolly row if we are
Phillip, after recovering from the bewilderment which this strange scene had at first forced upon him, and, seeing from the window that the noisy crew had gone straightway into the street, so that there was no need of his assistance, walked up to the lire-place, and, leaning his arm against the wall, stood gazing into the empty grate, every now and then carelessly kicking it with his boots.
How long he stood there thus industriously occupied he did not well know, but on looking up he perceived that it
was almost dark. He walked up to the window aud then , back again to the lire-place.
" Well, here's a nice go," he said to himself. <; I suppose I ought to think about moving."
As he uttered the last words the door gently opened.
" Why, you are all in the dark. Why did you not light the gas?"
"I like the dark best," he said, as she came up to the fire ; "1 have been thinking," he went on, " and forgot all about the time, and the dark and everything else almost."
She did not speak for a moment, and theu said quickly " Did you know those-people," at last came out, " who were in the room when you came io ?"
" One of them sat next me at an examination not long ago," he replied, " that's all ; but why do you ask ?"
" Oh, 1 don't know-at least I do ; I mean they are not gentlemen, are they?"
" Call themselves so, I believe," was the answer. " Are
they often here ?"
"So often that they have come once too often to-night ; Mr. Nolan has told them that if they ever come in again he
will turn them out."
«. What is that for ?"
"Oh! they are nearly always tipsy and annoying other people who come into the room ;" and then looking up at him she added, "you don't know what a horrid place
" Then why do you stay ?" was the question he naturally
"Don't know-can't get a better, I suppose ; they are all the same, one way or the other ; one has to put up with things when one has to work for one's liviDg, you know ; but I don't care about it much, I always try to make myself content wiLh things as they come. It's of no good worrying ! at everything that vexes you or you'd never be done."
" I think you are not far wrong there,'' said Phillip ; " I only wish I could purchase your belief. '"'
"Why, what have you to bother you?" she asked him laughingly.
" More-much more than you dream of," were the words which fell upon her ear, and the tone in which they were spoken seemed to her as very, very sad.
, She looked up into his face, and when her eyes, meeting his again fell, a heavy weight lay on her hitherto happy heart ; for she had read on his brow of a sorrow which even
his best friend had failed to observe.
They neither of them spoke for some time after this, but thought was very busy in both their breasts, and Phillip murmurmed to himself, " Here is my fate, here is the one maid for me j" and she-simple child-clad her thoughts in far simpler words, but the meaning fell not much Bhort of his, for she had looked through his words into the heart from whence they came, and thought to herself in her own language and her own thoughts, " Is mine the hand?"
But they neither of them spoke their thoughts to the other, yet their hearts were very full that night when they slept the sleep of those whose thoughts are untainted