|Chapter Title||PHILLIP'S RESOLUTION|
|Newspaper Title||Illustrated Sydney News (NSW : 1853 - 1872)|
|Trove Title||The Golden Link|
Matthew Bolton seemed ill at ease with himself, and, had there been a friend of Phillip Armstrong's by his side, all might yet have gone well ; but this would by no means have suited Martha Woolston's plans, so she set to work to mix another draught of her insidious poison.
She instinctively perceived that the old man's resolution was wavering, and she was determined that he should not undo the bad work he had begun.
Passing through the verandah into the little room which served him both as office and study, she asked of him the
favour of a brief interview.
Of course her request was granted, and after a little preliminary coughing and hemming she opened fire by say- ing that she was extremely sorry to have to say what she was going to-what she felt it to be her duty to tell her employer.
Thus having paved her way with two deliberate false-
hoods it is not to be wondered at that she did not stick at trifles in the after-part of her narration,
From a small beginning, therefore, she contrived to stir up the old squatter's wrath to a pitch so terrible that she almost dreaded the effects of the storm she herself had raised.
Hints, the most delicate in the world, she conveyed in a manner which, to his mind, there was no mistaking-she was doing her duty at the expense of her feeling.
Then Matthew Bolton spoke out. " Mrs. Woolston, when I gave these young people into your charge, [ expected you to render to me a just account of all you observed in them. During the whole time you have been telling me of this this-scoundrel, I have not failed to observe that your kindness has been endeavouring to conceal, or at least to colour over, the greater part of his faults, and I respect you for it ; but I cannot, it is impossible for me, to allow my confidence to be any longer abused as it has been by
And the old man ground his teeth in very rage.
"If I had known before one-half of what you have just told me, that boy might have gone to the devil before I would have helped to stop him !"
Of course the old squatter did not mean this literally ; but, being in a passion, he spoke as men in a passion speak, without thinking about what they are saying.
"Going out at nights without any explanation-drunk associating with blackguards. Zounds ! madam, I believe I should thrash him within an inch of his life, if I had hold of him now ; but I ll disinherit him, I'm-I'm -I'm-hanged if I don't. Ungrateful young puppy! Mrs. Woolston," he added, taking hold of her hand and shaking it with great vehemence-" Mrs. Woolston, I thank you for putting me on my guard against such a fellow. Thank you, madam ! I thank you from the very bottom of my heart."
Poor, deluded old man ! The viper will sting you in your
Martha Woolston waited until she heard him walk through the passage into the broad verandah, and then, putting her hands on her knees, she rocked herself backwards and for- wards in her chair, laughing a low, coarse, brutal laugh.
" I have cooked your goose now, Master Phillip ; with all your 'cuteness, the old woman has beaten you at last."
And she laughed away to her very heart's content.
Suddenly she heard Matthew Bolton re-enter the house, and proceed in the direction of the sitting-room. She instinctively divined his purpose.
" Now to enjoy my victory !" she exclaimed, springing to , her feet, and putting on the old hypocritical face she went ' towards the apartment ; but, long before she reached the door, she had to summon up all her courage to prepare for the encounter she expected.
She went in, and found it as she had thought.
Matthew Bolton was standing with his back to the win- dow, looking perfect fury afc Phillip, who was standing opposite to him listening, though without betraying the least emotion, to the accusations which were being showered
upon him. «
Rdith, perfectly petrified with fright, was sitting with her eyes fixed on her brother's face, apparently expecting every momeut some mo3t terrible outbreak.
Walter, with the same expectations, was quietly awaiting the inevitable explosion, with the half impression that if Phillip was moved to speak Martha Woolston would pro- bably get it " hotter than she cared about."
The most unconcerned person in thë room, to all appear- ances, was Phillip himself.
As soon as Mr. Bolton had began, he had risen from his ! seat beside Edith, and, folding his arms across his breast, stood with his eyes fixed on the ground without moving a muscle of his face until the very end.
Even when Martha Woolston entered he had uot looked up at her, though he knew and felt that she had come to enjoy her triumph.
For a full quarter of an hour Matthew Bolton kept on hurling epithet after epithet at the marble figure before him, without apparently producing the slightest effect upon it.
Then the old man lost his patience.
"Answer me, sir, and don't stand there like a fool. Answer me, I say. Why don't you speak ? "
Then, for the first time, Phillip raised his eyeB from the floor and fixed them full upon his guardian.
Seldom had he looked so handsome as then ; ms eye, fearless and piercing, almost cowed his raging accuser, and when he spoke it waa with a voice as calm as if he had been j simply addressing his brother or sister.
I But the old mau had determined to listen to nothing, and
Phillip's first words condemned him.
" I do not mean to say," he began, " but that I have acted exceedingly rashly, exceedingly wrongly, in what I have done ; yet, I cannot help thinking that, did you know all, you would not condemn me so bitterly as yon have just
j Mr. Bolton made a gesture of diesent.
' Phillip went on for some time speaking quietly and
respectfully, then looking straight into his guardian's face in a manner which made him feel very uncomfortable, he said,
"As others have felt it their duty to speak their mind about me, I have no hesitation in doing the same with
regard to them."
Thea he turned round and looked that terrible look at Martha Woolston.
She tried to turn away, but it seemed to fascinate her, and trembling in every limb she was compelled to gaee on him while she heard him say. still quite calmly,
"Before we knew Mrs. Woolston, sir, there were not three happier beings on the earth than my sister, my brother, and myself. By every conceivable means in her power she has sought to sow discord between us, seeing how much we loved one another ; hitherto she has failed, and, Ï am persuaded, ever will fail. What her motives for this are T do not pretend to say. For myself, before I knew her, I was a happy, contented boy. You have just now heard from her what I have been made. You, sir, are now so carried away with rage that I know you will not believe what I now say, but the time will come, Mr. Bolton, the time will come-mark my words while there is still the chance of escape-I say the time will come when you will have occasion to curse that woman as you have now cursed
And before anyone could speak he turned away and left
Then Matthew Bolton's rage broke out again, and he spoke some very very bitter things.
And yet Phillip Armstrong had said nothing but the truth, the very strict truth.
But neither the old man nor the woman he trusted could endure to hear the truth just then, and so Phillip was con-
And he left the house, left Matthew Bolton for ever, without one shake of the hand, without one word of kind-