|Chapter Title||THE Dark or Fair. A STORY OF TOWN AND COUNTEY. | IX.-(CONTINUED).|
|Newspaper Title||Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1870 - 1907)|
|Trove Title||Dark or Fair. A Story of Town and Country|
Z THE NOVELIST.
"Darli or Fair."
A STOBY OF TOWN AND COUNTEY. '
(BY "JINNY WEEN.")
(WBITTEN FOB THE "TOWN AND COTJNTEY JOüRNAIi.")
' Paul," she said, "is it a little matter that she loved you so? How can you atone for this deep wrong ? I will not deceive you. I love you, and would proudly' have placed my hand in yours, and promised to have been your wife. Hut now, this must rest between our own souls ; and you must go home, and provo your innocenco of wrong in tent toward poor Nellie. Then, by future nobleness of purpose, atono if possible for the sins of the past. Good-byo, my love. My heart goes with you. Paul, we must part. But I will never forget you."
"And may I como back again ?" ho pleaded, with his soul in his eyes, as ho held hor hand in a lingering clasp.
"Toa will write to me, Paul," and she looked up sorrowfully into that well-romombored face ; " and perhaps God Avili forgive you, and allow us to be happy by-and-by."
And she did not soo him again for many long days.
Uncle Boy noticed how tho subdued light of love shadowed her bright young life ; and how she would often linger in the twilight hour to
." A still form lay beside the dead ashes of the camp fire; and the soft breezes played with
the silvered hair." . ' '
(See talo entitled " Dark or Fair.") .;? * I
commune with her own soul, and pray for Paul, that.he might be strengthened-that a sense of pardon might be granted to him, and that tho angel of poor Nellie might find rest in the know ledge of his moral progress.
Two years passed. Letters came from Paul, telling of the sorrowful self-reproach and una vailing regret which shadowed his pathway. Even though human justice acquitted him of all blame, his own heart told him that but for his careless abandonment of truth, the lovely Florentine might have graced some good man's
He strove to find solace in travel, visiting distant countries in search of curios and art treasures, daily acquiring wealth and fame as an artist ; which availed him little enough without love to crown his efforts. Just about this time a new anxiety was added to Polly's daily cares. Uncle Boy, having ventured to invest in one or two speculations, and obtained good returns, be came suddenly inspired to engage in still more hazardous undertakings. Taking up a number of shares in various mines, he became involved in difficulties which he could not easily combat. By the strictest economy they tided over the worst of the struggle, paying calls and receiving no divi dends for several months. Then a sudden change set in. The reef was struck ; and golden prospects opened before the lucky shareholders. Uncle Boy found himself enriched beyond his most sanguine expectations ; and he must needs go up to the claim to see the wonderful reef.
He left Polly and the little boy at the cottage, and, taking his tent and blankets, started off for the scene of action, some miles up the ranges. Poor Uncle Boy !. The glitter of gold blinded his eyes for a time; and he forgot his wonted prudence. But it was for the ". children's sake" he told himself ; and now he could be sure, of leaving them well provided for.
Alas ! he little thought that he 'should never look upon their loving faces again on earth ; that the Angel bf the Future awaited-in the path to bear him away-from this world's wealth or care. He had always been a lover of botany ; and just at this season of the year, the bush was fragrant with the scent of wild flowers; and' nature's treasures were Bpread in unrivalled beauty upon the pathway.
Wandering hither and thither after floral speci mens, Uncle Boy lost the track, and, consequently got benighted- in the bush. The sun sunk behind the shadowy hills ; the stars came out in
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brilliant beauty ; the night wind sighed softly among the trees of - the forest. And Uncle Boy decided to rest for the night in the shelter of the gully, beneath a tall karaka tree. Having built a fire, and spread his blankets, he boiled his billy, took his supper of scones and cheese, and lay down to sleep.
- Then thé soft night winds played with his silvery hair, and fanned his furrowed cheek ; and in his dreams he saw the wife of his youth; his little child ; and his sister Mary calling him over a shining river of light, toward a home of beauty; and Uncle Roy smiled in his sleep as he recog nised the angel friends he loved.
He woke not till the first streaks of dawn gleamed in the eastern horizon ; and the tui sang his morning song to the God of love and beauty. Strange pains and stiffness seized him then ; and he tried to warm himself by the fire which ho with difficulty replenished. The at tempt was futile. His pain increased; and ho found it impossible to resumo his journey. Ho coo-oo-ed for help, hoping that some traveller might bo near ; but his own voico only re-echoed through the solitude
Then Uncle Roy lay down ; and thirst, dreadful thirst, added to his sufferings. Ho became fever ish, too; his limbs trembled; and his head throbbed with tho burning pain of swamp fever. Thon ho became delirious ; and prayed for Polly to como to him, oven as a little child ; and tho angels heard him, and gently soothed his pain, till ho foll asleep.
They waiting for his coming, or for news from the claim ; but he came not. A still form lay
beside the dead ashes at the^canip fire 5. and the soft breezes played with the silvered hair. The sunbeams fell lovingly over the placid brow. But Uncle Roy had been called over the silent river, even unto the home of the angels, where there are rest and peace.
After many days of searching they found the body, and brought it home for interment ; and Polly and little Rollo felt that they were again orphaned. They gathered his writings together, the loving thoughts of a noble mind, and pub lished them as a memorial of his kindly lifo. Then Polly sat down in the old home to write to Paul. A year passed over very quietly. Rollo was at school ; Polly was busy studying music, and learning many things to ht herself for woman's loftiest mission. There were ample funds to keep them above want ; and Polly's needs were not extravagant. Books were her dearest friends in those quiet days. More than one honorable man came and sought to win this " pearl" to set in his heart and home. But Polly told them very gently that it could not bo ; she was going to England.
One day Paul Fizzele came back, wiser, stronger, and more truly loving. And they stood together on the little bridge among the ferns.
He told her of his travels, his successes, his sorrows, his experiences ; and how new truths had dawned upon his mind, born of sorrow and true repentance; and how the loving presence of poor Nellie followed him, forgiving all the past, and blessing his life with hallowed influenco.
And he had painted a picturo to her memory. That he would not sell for gold ; for it represented to. him the spirit of his injured, though fully reconciled love, bending over a sorrow-stricken figure, to whom she administered heavenly com fort. One hand outstretched to raise, him from earth, the other uplifted to heaven, her face expressive of divine compassion and love, ahe seemed to breathe the spirit of the sweet
Nearer my God, to Thee ;
Nearer to Thee.
They talked of Uncle Roy, his kindly sympathy in their sorrow, and realised that his loving spirit was near to give them silent benedictions, even though they saw him not.
After a few more days of waiting, they were quietly married in the little church at Parawai, I and then they once more left Now Zealand's I lovely shores to return to England, where Polly
should enter into her new life as the helpmeet of a loving husband.
We will not follow them farther, but leave them in the angel's care, and the overshadowing love of the1 All Father. Then? lives may not be perfect, but still progressive ; and, even through the shadow of disappointed aims and unrealised ideals, they hear the soft music of the old refrain borne to their SOUIB by angel's influence
Nearer my God, to Thee ; .Nearerto Thee."