|Chapter Number||PART II. V (Continued.)|
|Newspaper Title||The Capricornian (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1875 - 1929)|
|Trove Title||Under the Great Seal|
®xte* M gktttkts.
[SOW FIBST PUBLISHED.] UNDER THEGREAT SEAL, A NOVEL,
B7 JOSEPH: H&TTOX. Anther of ' Clytie,' ' By Order of the Czar,' 'John Neediuun'fi Doable,' 'Cruel Lon don,' ic.
[AIX BIGHTS BESESVKDl] PARTIL . Chapter 'V (Caalinwd,) ?
Elmirm went into her bedroom and lighted two candles in their old brass sconces on each aide of the dressing-table: It was not dark. The inn had gone down, bnt the twlight was radiant with its afterglow. At the suue time Elmira, after looting oat for a moment upon
the garden where toe two young men were hidden behind the commanding figure of the dusky Venns, drew the curtains over her window, and then she needed the candles. She looked at herself In the mirror which they ill n min-tftd . and smiled i probed herrich brown hair from her forehead, and then drew it back again ; stepped a few yards from the glass so that she could see part of her dainty figure, and laughed again, not her regular 'rippling laugh, bat one of approval. ' 44 My face may be a little red, bnt it is the beat ; he need not have reminded me of it,' she said. ' It's very hot now.*9 She drew the curtains and undid the hatch of the window to let tn the evening air. Then she pat oat her candles, drew the curtains back, and opened both the lead-glazed wings of her lattice and looked oat, drawing in a long breath. . ' I declare I feel faint, u the town girlasny,** she remarked. ' Never knew what it was before ; think I am bothered.' She saw the lights of ships at sea. The son had left a red streak far beyond them. The crescent moon 'attacked her. It was sharp and bright now that die son bad gone. It shone Eke burnished silver, and there were a few stars here and there. They seemed to have a mist about them that made -the moon look all the brighter. ' Yon look as if yon were glad,' she said, mt\Hff$utSna the t'4y?n j ** they Bay yon ****** see and bear whal lovers do and think. . Eh dear, bat I wish I wai free again! What is a girl to do who has nobody to confide in? Squire Barkatcad is' very handsome; well so is David Keith— and ttere'e no mistake about David, he loves me true, for sure ! Bat I must go down ; theyTl think I nave been doing myself up and making myself fine all this time. Him, dear, vhsfs the matter with you!' She dosed the window. ' I feel as « I was dreaming, 'she said. -She relighted the candles and drew the white dimity curtains, their brass rings making ahomehr music, and she began to ham the tune of Cupid's Garden. Then she took off her dress and rfonned another hardly less becoming though, it was of cotton stuff, and brown ; it bad a short waist and short sleeves leaving Mira's arm bare. She tied a blue ribbon round her neck and there hung from it a tiny locket of yellow gold. It contained a lock of her mother's hair, and a faded rose-leaf bom a rose that Harry Bark stead had Beat her In a valentine, ' grown for her,' as he rai^, *' in the hot-honse of tifw love.' Did die know it in from Harry BarfcsteadV Oh, y^ he had confessed it one day when lie was' complimenting her father on bis roses. 'No, 'he bad not confessed -it tight out. bat when Zarrrwnn was lighting his pipe he had hummed the words to a *»*'Piw tome, and when Zaccheus looked up to listen be had aaid Miss Webb ought to team that song. Harry mil-one of those dating wooers who mean nothing serious and whom some women encourage to their cost. * As Elmira Irinoed dowc the darkened stair
way into the house-place, her father was beard in the back regions of the cottage giving orders to Simeon, hii man -of -all work, and presently.in he came, bringing with him whiffs of sea and land, a suggestion of fish and tobacco, and a generally breezy presence, as if a boat's crew had just landed in the cottage precints. ' Mira, my gal, there yer be !' he said, taking no notice of the others, 'I thought I see yer as cammed across the meals, bnt it worn't, mek no doubt ; so there you be !' He took her into his sea-jacketed anus and kissed her with a hearty smack, and then looked round about him. ' Why, Squire, this be good for sore eyes, and David the lawyer, welcnm ; yer looks keinder kedgy, and that's how I'm feelin' mysen ; and I reckon we can all peck a bit ;' 'But first you will have a wash, ch father r' said £HminL. ?* That's so,** said lias, 'nshin's not the cleanest trade, toot's mncka growd as well as kibtage now and agen, thank the Lord !' As he left die house-place his heavy boots clanked upon the hard brick floor, and it seemed as if he filled the doorway. He was a big, buriy, broad, nautical -looking man, a cross between coasting captain and hpft.flnT.iLn Added to the wrinkled weather-beaten face, something the colour of the dunes with streaks of red in it, he had a bright grey eye, a cheer ful, generous mouth and a frank, honest out spoken manner ; he grew his whiskers, like a ?tiff fringe round bis face ; they joined his bushy dark hair that only had a few gleams of white in it ; and he moved about with & cumbersome motion, something like a Dutch barge in shallow water. Charity Dene had laid the doth, and at the fire, going solemnly round and round upon a primitive jack, was a great joint of beef, and beneath it was a batter padding, into which the gravy was dripping, making a rich, luscious covering of the brown batter. Swing ing over the fire, in an iron pot were halt a peck of potatoes in their skins, and in a
smaller saucepan some fresh-shelled peas, grown in the btxaggling kitchen garden of the cottage. David and Squire Bukstead sat near :.the low bay window upon an old cushioned seat, their heads now and then coining in contact with a score or tiro of fuscbia 'snd geranium plants that filled all the lower panes with a wealth of blooms. Elmira followed her father, and by the time Mrs. Dene had served the supper she returned with Lias spruced up in a black coat with pockets at the side, alight blue waistcoat and white stock, and in ordinary boots, now looking the well-to-do smack-owner to the life. ' Yon'n come foiiitner,' said Mrs. Dene addressing David and the Squire; **»e*n cooked this to be cawd for remainder the week, Hira, thowt it mought he hot for the Hester and M ester Keith like.' ' I'm always fortunate, Mrs. Dene, when I come to the Cottage,' said Harry, placing a chair for- Ehnira, in his ready and courtly way. at least Elmira thought it was courtly, and she knew that Harry went into the high est Bociety in London town. 'Thank you,' she Baid, making a little curtsey, ' but I am going to draw the ale.' 'So, Mibs Mir*, 111 do it, and thank ye,' said Charity ;n sit ye down, please, wf company.' ? Elmira. accordingly took the scat which Harry had placed for her by his side, and David sat with lias at the other end of the table. Before Charity came to the Cottage, and she bad been housekeeper andgeneral Bervent there for over five years— the previous domestic had sat down to table wirh liar and Elmira, but from the first Mrs. Dene knew her place, and toot pride in doing honour to her service as she said, and loved to think of Elmira as her youngest mistress who was just as ranch * lady as the finest in the land, ' if larnuT and accomplishments counted.' On this occasion Charity was unusually formal, handing round the plates and filling up the tumblers with quite an air; and lias fdt, as he told Elmira afterwards, as if he was * hevfn* his dinner at owd .Norfolk Armsonmartcet'day, so slick and nimble did she fisherate for all; it fairly bet him for sure. After supper Harry led the conversation into melodious grooves, talked of old songs and the concert that had been given at Tar month. Zaccheus Webb confessed that he gloried in -the old ballads, and nothin' culd mek time go more easy-Iikc and free than a good song, leastways when you'd' gotten * spinnet in the house and a gel as could play it to a moraL Elmira persisted that lie had no ear for music, and she couldn't play the spinnet more than a goose ; Mildred Hope, she said, knew that well enough, for Mildred had been try ing to teach her this twelve months and could make nothing of it. ' Why, Mildred only toU me one day last week that yon were getting on finely,'' raid David,;' and I thought yon sung that song about The Waterman, a week since this very evening, beautifully.' - V Yes, you are very kind.' said Elmira, ' I know you did, bnt you would lay that if I didn't, just to please me.' ' Well, I dunno 'bout that,' aid Zacchens, ' but, my eyes, I reckon you'd be hard to beat at Cupid's Garden, and I says that a-knowin' it this forty year and, *s Justice Barkstesd nd say, that's evidence.' 'Wont you oblige us, Miss Webb?' said Harry. - . . *? Why, yon see, padonr's locked up, hasn't been open this three days, didn't mean to open it* till Sunday, when we expect the Prison Vtstor to come and join us in a hymn.' 'Indeed. I wish I might have the honour of being present,' said Harry. 'Don't sneer,' said Elmira, quickly, 'yon needn't,1 for It's lovely to hear Mildred Hope sing, naff you could hear her tnne her voice to a song yoa wouldn't forget it in a hurry— 'Home Sweet Home,' for example.' 41 Mv dear Miss TVebb. 1 did not, intond tn
sneer: I am snre I beg the little prison visitor's pardon.' 'And on her behalf I accept your apology,' said David, laughing ; ' she is a. neighbour of mine, you know ; Bliss Mumford is a friend of hers.' ?' She's very fond of you,™ said Elmira, with her rippling laugh.' 'All the girls are fond of David,' Baid Harry. ' That's a good on,' remarked Zacchens, as he filled his pipe, ** that's a good nn for you. Master Keith, what do you say to that V* ' I feel honoured, of course,' said David, slightly embarrassed ; it's a compliment to have the good opinion of the girls.' ' That's true,' said the smack -owner ; ' I was never agen urn in my time, and I knaws one as is worth her weight in gold, doan't I, Mira, my gel ?' ' Ves, father, dear ; anyhow, she knows that you are worth your weight in the finest cold that was ever smelted. ' ' Very well, then, sing us Cunid's Carding and play it on that there spinnet, and we'll all join chorus, eh, Master Keith V ' Ves,' said David. 'Shall I light the candles,' asked Mrs. Dene, who had been taking in the conversation as sbe had taken off the cloth and removed the supper things. ' Yes,' said Ehnira ; and presently they all adjourned to the little parlour, ail except Zaccheus, who aaid he'd sit near by as be moughtnttek pipe in thar, not as he wanted, leifer he'd sit by and when chorus come he'd reckon to inek hisnaen heard * and sure enoush he did. Elmira snog in a mirthful pleasant fashion, with a nice appreciation of the words, and for so brief a studentship, with a fair aptitude in thewray of accompaniment. There was a smell of old lavender and countrv fuatiness in the room that seemed to go well with the music. The pictures on the walls had their frames bound round'with tissue paper. There were ustres on the mantel-shelf that jingled to the
\ibratabns of the epinnet. Sirs. Dene and Elmira's father remained just outside the door, Zaccheus in bis arm chair which Mrs. Dene had wheeled op for him, Mis. Dene with her arms beneath her apron, and her mouth open with curiosity and pleasure. When Ehnira had sang her little song and Zaccheus .and the rest baa joined in the chorus and afterwards londly applauded the performer, Harrv Barkstead sat down and astonished the company with a dreamy kind of waltz that seemed to set their feet agoing, and as if by way of bedevihnent then gave ttem'The Manchester Angel' with alT the p&Uios of which the refrain is capable, and somehow Elmira felt that when in the minor key lie dwelt upon the words 'There lira the girl for me,' he liad her in his mind ; indeed, he looked at her when he had finished ; she felt as if his eyes went through her. 'Is that a challenge to Mildred Hoper David asked, not wOIing that the impression Hirry had created should remain without some kind of protest. 'If you lite,' said Harry, laughing, 'I did not know that the prison visitor sang it, or I would not have been so bold.' 'Tell yer it'a not same thing as prison visitir mags, her'n is ' Home Sweet Home,' and if she'd tuned it off she'd a med a hymn on it Eh, Maria ?' 'Yes,' said Ehuira, 'will you not sing another, Mr. Barkstead* And you play so well Tm quite ashamed that I played at all. ' You need not be, Elmira,' said David, promptly. 'Truly, no indeed ; it is I who should fed ashamed,' said Harry, ' but somehow when songs are going I am like Captain Webb, I must chime in.' 'That's reight, Squire, that's so,' said Zacchcos, ' now't like a good song.' The Squire was at length tempted to sing one more song and Zaccheus said it was too doleful for anything, like song old cow died of lodging bo cold ground indeed, should think that was place for such like, and the old fisherman laughed heartily as he pressed a glass of spirits on his guests, spirits as had never known derelict hand of Sizeman on it, and yet had come from over the water. The young Squire undertook to join the old man in a glass and Zaccheus hoped as Harry's lodging nor hisn for Ubat matter nd ever be on that there cold ground. David hoped before he parted with Ehnira. on this eventful ui(*ht to have had * word or two wirli her father, but lie found no onpor-. tnnity : instead of unburdening his mind and explaining his plans to Zaccheus he made a confidante of Harry. He could hardly help himself. When they were fairly on the highroad tramping to Yarmouth, Harry again referred to David s impulsive reference to his happiness as well as his health, and David opt with it, his unexpected fortune, his proposal to Ehnira, her -acceptance of his unworthy hand, and his vague but glorious schemes of a future that mightlead him anywhere. He intimated that he might take a long speQ of travel, even have a yacht of bis own, and a -crew with a long con and a masked battery in a. case oE need ; for David had read of pirates, and beside peace was hardly restored between England and her many enemies, and who knea- that an adventurous yacht away down in the Mediterranean or in the Pacific might not be signalled by some daring cruiser. If David talked s. little wildly it was because Harry encouraged him and for the reason that David was veryhappy, pwlmtingwith romance, and proud as if he had captured a lovely princess from some piratev lair. Harry envied the lad his high spirits, his hopeful nature^ Iris purpose in life ; and furthermore, he thought he bad never seen Klmim look so bewitching as on that night, nor could he make any mistake,- he thought, about the significant pressure of the band she gave him in response to his own, after David bad, as he thought, said good night to her in a particnlarly ostentatious manner, even kissing her, he believed, while Harrv romed to sav £Ood
night to Lias. Hitherto he had patronised David, whose acquaintance he had made originally through Petherick and a letter of introduction from David's London trustee ; but to-night David seemed to patronise him. Moreover, David strode along tiie highway with a swing that irritated Harry, who was not in that kind of wood. The Bedgy dikes fairly danced past them ad they pounded along, for Harry did not care to lag though he felt like it. To everybody they met David wished a cheery good uigbe, and was self-assertive Harry felt, in eveiy possible way that might jar upon the yoang country gentleman with his Oxford education and his stnd at Melton, the more so that hitherto David had seemed to accept Harry's friendship as an honour as well as a pleasure. This was trueenough, for there was as a role a modest difb'dence in Da\*id's manner, and he was really fond of Harry, admired him for his knowledge of the world, his athletic powers, and bis fine natnral manners. But on this night David was walk ing on air. He had won the girl of his heart. She had said yes to his momentous question, and he expected Harry Barkstead, his friend, and once in a way his companion, to rejoice with him, to clap him on the hack, as it were, and shake hands n ith him, to tell him he was to ucenvied, and so on ; and it was only when they steamed into town hot, not to sty pant ing, that David frit somehow that Harry did notquite feel the pleasure he affected when at last he Baid, 'Well, old chap. I must con gratulate yon, and wish you all the happiness you can desire.' It was coldly offered, and before David could reply Harrysaid, 'Conic in totheRoysl and join me in a stirrup-cup, I see my groom waiting for roc, it's a glorious night for a ride.' ' No, thank you, Harry, -not to-night, I shall be waited for also, and I am rather late.' ' Late,' said Harry, ' it is only half-past 'That's late for Miss Mnmford, and I
want to have * ch»t with her before she goes ''Mrell, good-night then,' «d Harry^ ; Mid so they parted, eaSi UihdriiigofBUnira Webb ; David not for » moment «nspeehm| the selMh jealousy that had taken possession bf the sensual soul of Sir Auttiony Barkstead s un scrupulous «m.