Chapter 71182054

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Chapter NumberII.
Chapter Title
Chapter Url
Full Date1890-09-20
Page Number32
Word Count3361
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleAustralian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1870 - 1907)
Trove TitleUnforgiven: In Two Parts
article text







It must bs confessed that it was in a very

depressed frame of mind Charlie Elliot alighted next afternoon from tho railway train at the station, from which a few minutes' ride in his mother's little pony carriage would bring him home. It was a comfort, however, to seo no one about whom he knew, except the railway porter and the old servant, groom, gardener, and general handy man, who drove the carriage ; neither ol those worthy persons knowing much of scholastic matters, and, therefore, not likely to be obtrusively condolent. There was further comfort iu the recollection that his father was not likely to be at home for more than another hour, and that he should, therefore, have all that time with only his mother; and, as ho took the reins, after Jacob had stowed his trunk on the back seat, he blessed his mother for the third comfort she. had provided by not coming herself to meet him. He knew the ways of their country town neighborhood. Had she fallen in with any of her acquaintances while proceeding to the station, there would have been so many questions and answers-so much " talk "-that the chances would be more than ten to one of her having been obliged, at the risk of mortal offence, to offer a Beat to some effusively-sympathetic friend, who "quite lontred to see the dear boy again," &c. Now he was quietly on the road home ; and when he drew up at his father's door, there was the dear mother in the hall, "as jolly as ever," to receive him, with her sweet, ringing laugh, and her bright eyes, and the clasp of her soft, warm hand, and her hearty kiss, and the short " Wel come home, Charlie," which expressed so much while it said so little.

"You'll find your room very comfortable; we've had the chimney put right, it never smokes now. And ob, Charlie, the children are so grown, you'll hardly know them ; and Menie is such a little bundle-just like a roly-poley pudding;" and so she talked'on as they went upstairs to gether, until Jacob had set down the trunk and left the room, and then Charlie flung his arms round her neck and said, " Oh, mother !"

" You must not fret, Charlie," she said, smoothing down his hair.

" I know it is such a disappointment to you,"

he said.

" Never mind that," Bhe said quickly. " You have never disappointed me; to be disap pointed about it I can bear. Why remember the first speech you learned in your pinafore and orator days, ' 'Tis not in mortals to command success.' I think that came even before your ' Name was Norval.' "

" But it seems as if I had not deserved the success neither," he said ; and thinking bitterly how much in his case there was in that word "seems."

" It does not seem so to me, Charlie : and now make haste and come down, for your father said he would try to get home a little earlier to-day, and-"

"Is he very angry ?" interrupted Charlie.

" Well, not very ; but angry, certainly. And, as I was going to say, you'll remember, dear, that it is not only best but right to bay nothing even if he is a little sharp. You know how good he is ; although I don't deny his temper is tryiDg sometimes. I won't shirk the truth, even to you, dear. But just think how he is always working and thinking-for you and for us all ; and that he is a good man, a very good man ; and, although he may vex you sometimes, you'll never have to be ashamed of him. That would be much worse. Charlie; for as to the vexation, why, what is it after all ? My dear, he says sharp things even

to me sometimes."

" How good you are, mother," said Charlie, mentally wondering how anyone could say " sharp things" to her ; but Charlie, great as his trouble now was, knew nothing of the troubles which a man who earned every shilling he possessed, and had a family to support, might have to bear, although moderately prosperous in his profession, else he would have known how happy the wife of such a man must be, who in admitting that he Baid sharp things to her, had to qualify the ad

mission with "even" and "sometimes." "I be lieve you did your best," his mother continued; " and your father will believe it shortly, and he'll believe it all the sooner the less you say in your defence ; and as you have done your best, you can afford to say little. There's no need for do fence where there has been no fault. You can bear

a little blame when you've nothing to blame your

self for. And now make haste down and see the

children. You're tired, and you're disappointed ; and vouTl be better when you are among us all." "

So his mother left him ; but before he began

to " make haste" he threw himself into the com fortable armchair she had put into his room, one he knew of the two which belonged to her own, and almost cried with vexation. " Why did I promise ?" he thought. " Why did I make such a donkey of myself as to let that fool Plymley make me promise to tell no one ? If I could only let her know, I should not care what anyone else thought-not even my father-if I could but tell her the truth."

But h had made the promise, and he saw no way out of it. So, after a little time, he did make haste, and came down to his mother's little draw ing-room to be .immediately seized by "the chil dren." Charlie was an only son ; and of his three ' little sisters the eldest was not yet 10, and the ?'' youngest was only just 3 years ; and his mother

always called them " the children " in speaking of them to him as well as to anyone else, and no doubt it was a very pleasant way of acknowledging the dignity of his seventeen years and a-half. I think it was Mr. Anthony Trollope who, in one bf his incomparable novels, made some remarks on the enviable pdsitibn oï a brbther, a big, elder

brother, in a family of sisters only ; how ho is made much of, and petted, and looked up to by the young feminines. So every one may picture Charlie Elliot in that position for tho next half hour or so, and fancy all tho confidences he heard, all tho questions ho was asked, and all the favors for which ho was entreated. And it was all so pleasant, with roly-poley Menieon his knee, and Ella and Sissio talking into each ear, that, for that space ot' time, ho almost forgot his loss, and Mr. Darrell, and George Plymley, and even Frank Wai don himself ; but then came the trial; for his father's knock sounded through the house;

and in another minute his father was in the room, bedroom-candlo in hand. His first words wore pleasant enough, as Charlie shook off the children and stood up to shake hands, for they wore merely a repetition of his mother's " Welcome home, Charlie." But tho next were not so agree able, for he added, "So you have come back a

failure ?"

" I suppose I must consider myself so, sir,"

said Charlie.

" Why, what else can you consider yourself ? Unless, indeed, you had backed yourself to lose, in which case you have done it very successfully; and if you have managed to get quite to tho bottom of the list, you've achieved, perhaps, even more than you intended."

" I have not done that, sir. I was next to the winner,"-he could not bring himself to name Frank Warden-" and very much above all the others."

"And the winner, the present winner, might have been ' next to you '; as you wore able to get ' very much above all the others.' That does not seem to make the position bettor. There was only one, it appears, after all, to compete with ; and I presume he's not an Admiral Crichton. It was only a question of which did his best."

This was hard ; but Charlie remembered what his mother had said; and his mother herself that moment opportunely touched the bell, whereupon her husband asked her, certainly rather sharply, " what she rang for ?"

" My dear, you said you'd like dinner a little earlier than usual, so I gave the order; and now I want to know whether it will bo ready in a quarter of an hour ; you can be ready for it then, I suppose."

As Mr. Elliot had expressed the wish, and as ho could be ready in a quarter of an hour-in deed he was wont to say, when anyone elbe happened to be unpunctual, that 10min were enough for him-he was unable to make any reply, and therefore betook himself to his room without further speech, although he more bhan suspected that the bell had been rung to interrupt his proposed remarks.

The beginning of the dinner passed over very well ; the more so, perhaps, as Ella, who dined at the table that day in honor of her brother's home-coming, was considered enough to engross general attention by partially choking herseli with her soup; but when Mrs. Elliot began to carve the fowls. Mr. Elliot seized his opportunity again.

" You know, of course, that you can't go to the university now," ho said to his son.

"I don't mind that, sir," said Charlie, eagerly -rather too eagerly, for he was wild to come to an explanation on that point.

" So it seems," interrupted his father. " You have taken very good care you should not go."

Charlie met his mother's eye, as she dexter ously twitched off a liver, wing, and half a breast for his.father's plate, and was silent. But the soup which had ' inconvenienced Ella had, fol lowed by a glass of good wine, made Mr. Elliot feel himself a match for both mother and son ; ind he was about to proceed, when he, too, met a look from his wife, which reminded him as plainly as a look could that the parlor maid was in the room, and that, al though Ella's tongue was . just then exceptionally quiet, her ears were, probably, only the more on the alert; and, under these circum stances, he thought it prudent to postpone his observations, and finished his dinner almost in silence.

Meantime his son revolved whether it would be better for him to stay in the dining-room after his mother had left, and "have it out" with his father ; or follow his mother, and make his ex planation to her first. He could not very readily

arrive at a conclusion as to which would be the

wiser proceeding ; but he very soon decided that the latter would be much the pleasanter, so he

determined on it.

Of course when he and his mother got to the drawing-room, " the children " were not yet dis posed of ; but as soon as they had got their last kisses, and settled exactly what Charlie was to do lor their amusement on the morrow, then he had the ground to himself.

" Mother, I have something to say to you," he began; sitting down beside her on the sofa, and leaning his head on her shoulder. " I must say it to my father too, but I'd like to tell it to you


" What is it, dear ?"

" I don't care to go to college. It was never my own wish to enter at the university, but I did try for it, I did indeed. And now I want to make my father understand this. Understand, I mean that I would rather not go, as far as I am con cerned myself ; and yet that I tried my best, and was really disappointed at leaving, for his sake and your3. Do you think mother that he is so anxious for me to go that he will send me, although he has all the expenses to pay him

self ?"

" I think he would do so, Charlie, if you wished to go."

" But is he very anxious about it himself ?"

" He certainly is ; and Charlie, dear, so am I -or, rather, so I waB, because I knew it would give him so much pleasure. But, as you don't wish it, just tell him so, as you have told me. He'll certainly not insist upon it if he knows you don't like it. He is tar too just to do that."

" Ah ! but mother you believe that I tried, al though I didn't like. Father thinks I didn't try, and if I tell him this he will believe I lost pur posely. I suppose he thinks now I lost through being idle j but he may ask anyone at- the school

about of the masters, or the boys, the Doctor himself. That will be easily set right."

" My dear, the other will be set right in time too. It will bo a sore disappointment to your father to know that your wishes are not tho same with bia in this matter ; but if, being angry, he Fhould think for a moment that you purposely lost in the examination, it will be only for a


" Do you think, mother, I ought to go to please him, even if I don't like?"

" Certainly not ; for that would involve, in your case, deceiving your father; allowing bini to believe that you wished, at least had no objec tion. I have just said he never will insist on your going ; never even urge you to go, it he knows you don't like it."

" I'll just tell him then all about it as well as I can ; that's the best thing, I supposo."

" The very best," said his mother, little know ing what a very small part of the " all about it "

Charlie could toll.

Charlie did tell his father; and his father was as his mother had said he would be, terribly dis appointed. To do him justice, however, he did his son justice-the justice of believing him much sooner than even Mis. Elliot herself had

expected, although he believed without under standing, as ho expressed to his wife in the after noon of tho day on which it had been decided that Charlie should take the place offered to him in his uncle's country house, and tho uncle had been written to on the subject.

"I can't make the fellow out, Marcella," he said, " not to wish, really, not to wish to go to college. If I had only had his chance. And the boy is cleverer than I ever was."

"There are different sorts of cleverness, my dear," said his wife. " He'll do very well. We may safely leave him to choose for himself."

" I know I was not able to choose for myself, and yet I have always had to do my work. In my day young people's tastes were not consulted

so much."

" And you have the more merit, Robert, in having done it; done work you did not like. But, my dear, I must always think it a dangerous ex periment to try with the young. For one who comes through the trial well, how many hundreds drift hopelessly away into utter uselessness, and


" Well, well, he's got his way, and I suppose you were determined he should," he added, locularly; " I had not much chance between you."

And then Mrs. Elliot knew it was all right, and held up her cheek to her husband to be kissed before he went into his dressing-room to make his 10 minutes' preparation for dinner.

Mr. Eobert Elliot was a solicitor in very good practice in a provincial town ; but he was not a rich man. He had no private fortune; and he had three-little daughters already, for whom it would be necessary that he should lay by mode rate portions, and might have more sons and daughters, for he and his wife had married early, and wore comparatively young yet. Therefore, earnestly wishing to give his son a moro liberal education-according to the usual acceptation of that phrase-chan he had had himself, and believing his Bon's wishes chimed with his own, Charlie's failure had been a great disappointment to him. Nevertheless, he was prepared, although inferring the contrary to his son under the influ ence of vexation, to meet all the boy's expenses himself ; so it is but justice to him to say that he bore the second and far sorer disappointment of finding that his son's

wishes did not chime with his as a man of

righteous principles and kindly feelings should. Both his wife and his son had heard " a few sharp things " in the course of the discussion which preceded the letter to Mr. James Elliot, but they were only a few ; and now when it was settled that Charlie should go into the country home of this Mr. James Elliot, his father's elder and only brother, his father's tones and words dropped all their sharpness, and he seemed quite as anxious as either his wife or son to " let bygones be by gones," and " say no more about it"-always the wisest proceeding when a family business has

been settled.

One word of Mr. James Elliot. He was the richer as well as the elder of the two brothers-a thriving merchant in London. Not a millionaire certainly; but as cer tainly what old-fashioned people used to call "a warm man." He was also a bachelor; but even if Mr. Robert Elliot's known wishes

with regard to his son does not make it quite un necessary to say that he had no designs on Mr. James Elliot's wealth, it may be added that the latter was not yet 50 years of age, and although a very shrewd man of business, was also, in a harm less way, " a bit of a flirt," as some disappointed spinsters called him ; " quite a lady's man, my dear," as others said, whose hopes were not totally defunct; and that a report of his ap proaching marriage reached his relations in-at least once a year.


"Clara," said her mother, severely, "did I see Mr. Spoodle holding your hand last night?" " Yes ; but he was showing me how he saw some people walking along the other night."

It is a wonderful thing-Life, ever growing old, yet ever young; ever dying, ever being born ; cut down and destroyed by accident, by violence, by pestilence, by famine, preying remorselessly and insatiably upon itself, yet multiplying and extending still, and filling every spot of earth on which it once obtains a footing ; so delicate, so feeble, so dependent on fostering circumstances, and the kindly care of Nature, yet so invincible.

The diction, being the vehicle of the thoughts, first presents itself to the intellectual eye; and if the first appearance offends, a further knowledge is not often sought. Whatever professes to benefit by pleasing must please at once. The pleasures of the mind imply something sudden and unexpected; that which elevates must always surprise. What is perceived by slow degrees may gratify us with consciousness of improvement, but will never strike with the sense of pleasure.