Chapter 71182481

See chapter in newspaper

Chapter NumberPART II.-III.
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71182481
Full Date1890-09-27
Page Number28
Corrections0
Word Count3006
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleAustralian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1870 - 1907)
Trove TitleUnforgiven: In Two Parts
article text

THE CHILDREN'S CORNER

Unforgiven.

IN TWO PAKTS.

(WRITTEN SPECIALLY FOE YOUNG AND OliD

BEADERS.)

PART II.-CHAPTER III.

More than 20 years have paseed away, an( Charlie, now Mr. Charles Elliot, is a prosperous merchant, with a wife and family to share hil prosperity. He succeeded to his uncle's busi ness and to a considerable share of his uncle'f fortune, some five or six years before our storj commences again. The remainder of the fortune went to Mr. Robert Elliot, who survived his brother only for a year, and, added to his OWE savings, enabled that gentleman to leave his widow and daughter in what approving neighbors call comfortable circumstances ; comfortable nc doubt to the neighbors as well as the heirs, since it relieves them from an\ fear that the latter should ever expect a return of former hospitalities or generosities in the shape of pecuniary help. Respectable, prudent people, well-to-do, don't need to be tole] that of" all shapes in which that obnoxious thing poverty can be brought near them none is sc objectionable as that of a widow without wealth and-with daughters. " Asylums, hospitals, and schools," so much abused by our " good friend, Quince," are all subscribed to verj readily \ for the subscriptions aro, in fact, a part of respectable charity. And even a poor widow, if she be sufficiently poor to be put out of sight comfortably in an asylum of any sort may be a bore, but cannot be a terror. But a widow not sc poor as that ; a widow who will, inconsiderately, expect to associate with them on the same equality as before her widowhood ; such a widow, especially if she has daughters, what a perpetual anxiety, not to say panic, Bhe is capable of keeping these worthy people in. Can they ever know of her pooi housekeeping, and see her worn garments, without, dreading that she has some expectation of a little {)resent, or some intention of asking for a little oan ; while her daughters, of course, are having an eye on their eligible sons, or, nearly as bad, on tho eligible sons of other people, whom they are trying to appropriate for their own daughters. Yes, there can be nu doubt, she is especially one ot the evils from which they are bound to pray for

deliverance.

Our old friend Mrs. Robert Elliot was not in this position ; and, therefore, her old friends (?) triumphed in her rather than dreaded her. Of her three daughters little roly-poly Menie had died while she was yet little ; but Marcella and JeBsie, as well as their brother, were married, and both, with their husbands and families, far away from England. Mrs Robert Elliot, the elder Marcella, lives in Highgate, near enough to her son to see him frequently, but not near enough to see him too often. Having added the experience , of advancing age to all her former good sense,

she is quite aware that however loving and dutiful he has always been to her, and however kind) attentive, and respectful her daughter-in law is, she might see them too often. Perhaps, indeed, the very fact that her son still regards her as a paragon of women makes her the more certain that it is well to have a little distance between their abodes. His good wife, if he ventured a suggestion to her concerning any little household matter, can have no unpleasant suc Ï picions that "his mother has been talking to

him," that "Mrs. Elliot has been finding fault"; suspicions very unfavorable to con jugal harmony. Therefore, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Elliot live in a West-end square, and Mrs. Robert in a pretty home in Highgate; and Mrs. Charles, instead of wondering " what brings Mrs. Robert every day peering about," writes loving notes to her mother in-law, " wondering why they have been so long without seeing her;" or storms her castle at Highgate, some morning, with a couple of the elder children, without previous notice, to tell her that her room is ready, and they shall expect her without fail next afternoon, and will take no excuse for less than a fortnight's visit, at the

shortest.

But it is not with Mr. and Mrs. Charles Elliot and their family, nor yet with Mrs. Robert, that this chapter has to do. We must go far, far away from London, to a city in almost the ex treme west of the great western continent ; and in that city we go into one of the wards of a hospital, to the bedside of a gentleman in tho prime of life, but worn and haggard, and now wounded to death. Only the day before there had been a terrible railway accident, just close to this city, on one of the great trunk lines ; and he, mortally injured, has been, with his fellow-sufferers, re ceived into this hospital; and, his name and address being known, his mother, who lives only one station off on a branch line, was telegraphed for, and there she sits beside him now, ashlie has sat almost ever since she arrived. She, too, is worn and weary, like one to whom life has been a dreary, if not a rough journey ; but, in spite of this, and of the agony of grief in her countenance, she looks almost younger than her son. She is, in truth, scarcely 20 years his senior; and she is one of those delicately pretty little women upon whom mere lapse of years has little effect. Every line that shades her once transparent complexion has been drawn by grief and caro, not time ; and the still rippled hair, parted on her forehead, has not as many grey streaks in it as are in his, and these two are Frank Warden and his mother.

He is talking to her now, for his hurts were not of a nature to affect his mind ; and the sharp agony has left him, and he suffers comparatively little beyond weakness; but it is an increasing weakness which warns him that what he has to say to anyone must bo said at once, for it means death. He knows it ; and his mother knows it

too. It would have been cruel to keep it from her; and gentle and delicate as she is, she is a woman who may be trusted. She was not made, perhaps, for action; she might never have been capable of doing much, but she can bear. Indeed

one of the surgeons said so to another the moment he saw her. " Poor little soul. It is an awful blow for her ; but there's no fear that she'll give any trouble by hysterics, or fainting, or that kind of thing ; she's not the sort for that. Such a pity tor him, too ; he had just succeeded in getting that situation at the-works ; its a good thing, and they wanted it badly it seems." So they told her that her son could not live more than a

couple of days at farthest, but probably not over this present night ; and sho had taken her placo quietly at his bedside, greatly relieving the pro fessional nurses, who had their hands full on account of this accident.

" It is best so, mother," tho dying man says.

" Ah, my dear Prank ! Just as you had been successful ; and you have had such a hard life. I was so glad when you wrote to say it was all right, and hopod to havo seen you comfortable before I died. If it had only pleased God to take me instead."

" Successful," he repeated. " No, no, mother. Failure, all failure ; now and always." He paused a moment, then feebly muttered " success" two or three times ; and as ho did so his mother's eyes followed his, which were fixed on the oppo site wall with a strange, absent gaze. She thought his mind was wandering; for after his voice ceased to be heard his lips still moved, as though he were trying to repeat something which was slipping from his memory.

" What is it, Frank ? What are you saying, my dear ?" she asked, looking down on his face. Still he gazed straight forward, and still his lips moved, but there was no sound.

One of the nurses came near. " Ho looks as if

he sees something," she said to the woman. The latter shook her head, to intimate that he was nearly past seeing anything, and moved on to another patient ; and Mrs. Warden kept her oyes fixed on her son's until, with a slight shiver, he re-called their far-off gaze, and turned them to her again.

And what had Frank seen. Not the blank wall of tho hospital ward. Not tho terrible scene which met his view as he was dragged from beneath tho wrecked train, crushed, maimed, writhing in agony, but conscious. No ; while his mother had been looking so anxiously and trem blingly on his seemingly vacant gaze, fearing it might be the prelude to a convulsion of pain, Frank had been gazing on a classroom in a large school. There sat a row of boys, each at his separate desk; and quietly, but watchfully, among them move the masters. They are ali writing; the boys-one with a puzzled look, as though all ability for his task were slipping from him ; one with an expression of keen anxiety, but not much hope ; one with confidence, and the courage which confidence gives ; and one again, ah ! how plainly he sees that one ; is writing fast, fast, with a sort of confidence indeed, but not the sort which his class-fellow feels. This is himself ; and as he writes he looks furtively round now and then to make suro that no one notices how rapidly he is getting on ; and once or twice he stops with an irresolute look, as though he would stop alto gether, and leave the work purposely unfinished, but he goes on ; and at last each boy's task is finished, and the papers are ail handed in, and he-that is, his semblance-goes out with the rest, and for a moment tho present Frank Warden's vision is blurred and indistinct; and thon the classroom is before him again, even more plainly than at first. Now the doctor and the other masters, and the learned professor who had conducted the examination, are all in a group at tho top of the room ; and tho boys in a group at the f urther end ; and he hears his name called ; and he knows be has got what they wore all try ing for ; and he feels as if head were bursting, and his heart, too ; and "no" rises to his lips; and in a moment more it would have passed them, but that he catches the eye of ono of the masters, who ip ghastly pale, and who leaves the room hurriedly, muttering that he " is not well.'

" Did you speak, mother ?" Frank asks, as he turns to his mother again. "I thought you spoke, dear," she replies.

" I ? No; oh, no. Why did I not speak ?"

His mother looks for a moment or two on his worn face and hollow eyes, with their weary, far off gaze, and knows that his mind is not wander ing in the sense usually implied by that expres sion ; and then she stoops closer to him, and says in a whisper : "Dear Frank, is there anything par ticular you wish to say to me-anything you you ought to say before-before-"

"Before I go hence and be no more seen, mother. Any thing I ought to say ? No, no, nothing that I ought to say now ; except what I have said. It is best so. The sight of me has done you little good through all these years."

" Oh, my son ! my dear, good son !" said the poor lady, all her self-restraint nearly broken down.

"Listen, dear mother," said Frank, and his voice was growing perceptibly feebler, " there is something for me to do ; and semething for you to do for me. You intend going back to Eng land ?" She answered " Yes " merely by a gesture.

" Well, here is a letter. It is to an eld school fellow of mine. You have heard me speak of him." He did not say the name, but turned the

address towards her.

"Charles Elliot," his mother read. "I think I have heard you mention him long ago."

" I wish you to give it to him yourself. I wrote it nearly three months ago, but I could not find out his private address until I was in -, and I did not choose to send it to his place of business lest it might be opened by any one else. I intended to have posted it immediately I came home. Since my accident I have added a few lines ; and I now wish you to give it to him un opened, and to promise me, dear mother, that you will abide by his wish or his resolve to tell you the contents or not. You are not vexed with me for asking this promise ?"

" Vexed, my dear son ! When have I ever had cause to be vexed with you or to distrust you ?"

He looked wistfully into her face as he handed her the letter, without more words; and then laid his feeble hand in hers which was stretched on the bed. All of affection, friendship, confidence, helpfulness j of any service which one human soul can render to another, had been to him for

more than 20 years represented in the mothei and in her alone, who was now silently askinj strength to bear her bereavement.

The long night wore away, and Prank War den's feeble spark of life wore away also. Some times he gazed absently into space, as when tha vision of a scene 20 years past had risen up befo ri him. Sometimes he lay, with closed eyelids conscious of nothing but the increasing difficulty with which the spirit bore the load of raorta life. As the morning light was stealing into th< dreary room, the two surgeons in charge of tha ward came and stood at the foot of his bed. Th< slight noise of their approac 1 aroused him. H< looked up at them for a moment, and then turnee his eyes once more on his mother; and, with i little smile almost cheerful stealing over Iii: face, said in tho manner in which no doubt h< had been accustomed to say it when parting fron her as a little child " Good-bye mother, good

bye."

Tho brave little woman did not sigh nor sob ai his last farowell. " I will do what you desiree Frank," she whispered.

" What was it dear ?" he asked. " Oh, ne matter. I have forgotten. I have forgotter everything. Yon nover refused or forgot to dc anything for nie that I asked. There's nothing, that I want from you now but to take care o: yourself. I can't take caro of you any more. ] can never again do anything for you; never

never."

# # & # :X;

" She bears it well," said ono of the doctors te tho day-nurse, who had just come in to relieve the night attendant. " And yet she has no othei child, I am told, and they were devoted to ead other. She is poor, too," he added, after i

pause.

" We've all got to die," said the nurse, with t toss of her head, not quite flippant, but certainly not sympathetic,

" So we have, of course," said the doctor ; " anc we all, or most of us, have got to see other people die too, and that is sometimes the harder thing ;' and, as he passed along the corridor, he expressed to a brother practitioner whom he met, bis un qualified dislike of " that Mrs.-, although t capital nurse, no doubt."

And in a few days Frank Warden was laid ic the new cemetery on the outskirts of the town in which he had died. No mourner stood by his gravo but his mother, and no kindred dust and ashes lay near his ; and, reason as we may, thie laying of the dead in a resting place where the mortal remains of no relative or friend lie, or are ever likely to lie ; and on which no loving eyes shall ever look down, is a deepening of tho bereavement to the mourner who has thus to " put the dead out of sight." There are few more affecting lines in English poetry than these four, which, after all, are only the statement of a simple

matter of fact : '

They grew together side by side;

They filled one home with glee;

Their graves are severed far and wido

By inonnt, and stream, and sea.

In a few weeks Mrs. Warden was crossing the ocean which was to sever Frank's grave from her for life and death ; and she was scarcely more alone in that stately ship with all those strage fellow-pas sengers than she would be in her island home, or than she had been in that far away land, from the timo her dying son had given into her hand that letter, about the contents of which she was too heartbroken to have any curiosity; but which she often drew out and kissöd, with a strange feeling as though his fingers were still resting with her own on the little packet.

(TO BE CONTINUED.)