Chapter 71283188

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Chapter NumberI
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71283188
Full Date1898-02-12
Page Number8
Corrections0
Word Count2965
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleAustralian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1870 - 1907)
Trove TitleTwo Old Fogies
article text

Two Old Fogies.

(By Ada Cambridge.)

CHAPTER I. .. .; .

"Tuesday next-being Prince of . Walea's birth-; being-er-er-the Feast of All Saints, there will be divine service in this-church at seven o'clock in the evening."

Anna Paine was sitting in the choir, nearly front ing her father, when be : gave ouit this notice. She looked ait him with steely eyes that transfixed him like daggers, " The girls beside her tittered; the men behind her nudged eacfh other, and whispered, and fluttered-leaves of music noisily. A smile rippled over the faces in the body of the church. One decorous'maiden lady in a front pew hung her

head and blushed.

"Certainly," thought Anna Paine, "he is falling inito his second childhood. Last Sunday he gave out the wrong hymn, and the Sunday before he ;puit his, hood on inside out. ^Nothing but the in-1

firmities of age'can "explain this increasing absent

mindedness."

She'tatte<Lup;his sum of years, and'saw that he was indeed growing an old .man-^fifity-flve next birthday. 1 . .

The lady who had blushed and not laughed at the parson's blunder-she~also~was quite an old wo man, forty sui least-emerged . upon the-footpath' after service in. company with a youthful niece and nephew. . They dawdled as they walked) for.'-the brother of the lady and father.-of the girl and boy was counting the offertory in the vestry, and it was their habit to wait for him. It had been their habit since the boy came home. The boy, by the way, was a smart, moustached'young man, taking a little holiday'between his labors kt the Univer sity, which were over, and the labors of his pro fession, which, were yet to come. But, of course, he was a boy to his aunt, just as she was an old maid to him. ^ ?-.

He pounced upon Anna Paine as ' she" was se dately walking towards the parsonage. Her se vere young face,-full of trouble-and responsibility about 'her 'aged and' erring father, 'melted into

smiles. .

"Oh, is it you^" she cried, as if she had- not been lingering on purpose to let him catch her ;up. "Gopd-morning." -

"Good-morning, Miss Paine. Oh, I say, did you hear what your father said when he gave out the notice? . Prince of Wales'Sv birthday,-by Jove! You should have seen,aunt's face.- I nearly "had a-fit. Now, if"it "had been me-:-!- I've done nothing but think of Prince of Wales's birthday ever since he asked me to come and see the fire works from the "church tower."

"What?" cried Anna.

"Don't you know? He said we shouldn't want to be in the crush of the street, and that we could seé everything from the tower beauitifillly; and he' proposed that we should all go up and spend the evening there. I think it's the jolliest idea, don't you?. Didn't he tell you he "had asked us?"

"Not a word," said Anna.. "He is getiting dread

tully. forgetful* î «m r&&z ftfrj&W ínai fc§ ia lsà-x

lng his faculties a little-that his memory la go-" lng-"

. "I daresay. But don't you think it a delightful way of seeing the fireworks? I believe he did ask us ito tea; but, of course, he' had no business ito do that without speaking to you."

"Oh, do come; .come to tea, of course-all. of you.

We shall be delighted." , ;

- "Thanks-thanks; it's too good of you. My * ,

father never'goes out to tea; as. y»u know; but . -.. ~ poor old aunt will ba charmed, and Bye too." '' .

."I ought ti go and speak te your aunt."

"You needn't. She's got Toby." 7 They glanced back towards the church, and " . laughed to see aunt staggering, in the embraces of

the parsonage dog, a mongrel collie, strong and ar- . \ dent enough to knocks the little woman down.

I "How can she let him?" exclaimed Anna, who. .

permitted no such liberties herself.. "He will tear,

! that lace mantle to rags. I can't understand, why I he is so fond of her, can you?" -. ;

i "Cupboard love. She's-a soft-hearted old dear, L and gives him cakes and bones "when he comes to

the house." " ;

. "Then no wonder he almost lives there." ?/..?...*?

"Is he too much away? She shall leave off en- -

oouraging him. 1 I will tell her." "r

"You need not; I don't want him. "I hate dogs

about the place;' they are so messy, especially ia' ?. wet weather." .

"I: hope to'goodness it. won'<t be wet on uhè ;"

ninth." ... . : . , ?..'.

. "I hope not, indeed.".

The'treasuirer came out from the vestry, with the. . : morning's, takings Via his pocket, and: his young ...S

daughter claimed-him. . Mr. Paine hurried to re^ lease aunt from" Toby's loving persecutions.

"Down,, sir! down this minute! How dare you, sir?" '

He .would have cuffed the collie had not aunt

protected him. V :

"Do not scold him," pleaded she, .looking at tha ^ tall grey man with the softest woman's eyes. "It" is just pure affection, Mr. Paine, and we old folks don't get too much of that.'?

- "I-hope you don't call yourself old, Miss Ran some," said the parson earnestly.:

"Oh, yes," she rejoined, with a- fluttered laugh and blush; "a most ancient person."

"Then what must I be?" he inquired tragic- - ally. ?' . . ... .

She blushed a little more as she tried to make him believe that he was in the golden prime; and the young people-^the real young people-carno

Up. ,. ?. ', .?. ??- v.. , .

"Well, Miss Ransome," said Mr. Paine, .VI hope we are to have the pleasure of seeing you on Prince of "Wales' Birthday. By the way, what-a stupid mistake I made this morning! Yes, my dear" ',to < Anna-"I know you ara going to read me a

lecture, but I assure/you. it .was the purest acci dent. I can't think how I came to do it. So many

things just.. now--Princ« of - Wales' Birthday, Gay . Fawkes,; and so on-that I suppose I got confused ~: amongst them. I wonder T did not cay 'Guy Fawkes" Day,' with all the boys in the town coming to beg subscriptions for their. bonfires- and crackers." ?

"One does not,", said Anna, gravely, "connect

things of that sort with the servi cea of the Church., At least, I am glad you did not say, "Tuesday next ¡ being Cup Day'-for. U via Cup Day, more's the

pity." ? ,?'.-.?:'.-:/ i "I-should hardly have made that mistake," said Mr. Paine, with dignity, "seeing how much I. dia I approve of racing and gambling-one of the curses

of this country." '

"Yes," murmured aunt, glancing ait her nephew, who, had sunk a pound of precious money in a sweep. - .»

"I should hope you disapprove of Guy Fawkes, too," said Anna. "Anything so abiurd as to- pre« serve a custom of that kind aa a British institution,

in a new country, and at this.time of day! NO' wonder the Catholics are offended."

"But, my dear," said aunt, gently, "no one thinks of its origin now. It is only kept up as on excuse for bonfires. Boys do so love bonfires!".

Aunt loved_boys, and was kind- to their little weaknesses; but Anna was for doing what was right and reasonable, regardless of-human whims. "They should be taught better," said she. "It is ridiculous to give them a good education with one hand, and with the other to encourage thean in a display ..of ' ignorance and bigotry" that would disgrace the . most

uncivilised nation. Don't you think so, Mr. - Ran some?" . >??

She spoke to Mr. Ransome, jun. . Mr. Ransome, . - sen., had been dragged into the church tower by . . ? his daughter Eve, who desired to assure him that thtí - ladders were safe..: - .

"Certainly/'? sadd young Ransome, in his cheer

-ful way. "Bulsince bonfires are to be--it's idiotic/ . -

of oourse-4-but os "they will he -lit, in spite - of'us,- ..>*' wouldn't- it . be nice to go up the tower to . look ot; - - them? " I know of six' at the least; They, wouli look very pretty at night, burning on the hills."

He hàd, in-fact, helped to build one . of those she ? bonfires-;'he had" given his oldest hat and trousers to the straw man who was to crown its apex-In-; stigated by aunt. -

"Saturday is your father's busy night," euggeatei

aunt.- ? - ". ? ? ???>? -

"But I could get forward," said Mr. Paine» , eagerly. "I could spare an hour or two."

- "No need for that, sir; I'd look after them," sali Alan Ransome, . with an exulting look at Anna. _ . I "Thea suppose you' all come round before it get» ' dark?"

? This plan was agreed to, In addition to the planai - i for Prinoe of Wales'- Birthday; and then the- party

separated. Old Ransome {he, too, was over fifty), a bank' manager of standing -in the town, led tibs way home with his daughter, a bouncing girl of fif teen. Young Ransome followed, escorting his little aunt. -'- He wanted to give her his aim, to aid her feeble steps; but the umbrella skirt.of har Sunday gown required a hand to hold it up behind, and the» other was occupied with her parasol and - prayer book. In the rear of the party Toby trotted steal- ' thily, sniffing the beloved footsteps on the pave

ment. . He always liked to see her safely hame," . even when his sense of duty to his own fondly pre vented him from staying there with her.

It was the loveliest day, that 30th.of October, and promised settled weather for the great events. Both aunt and nephew, were thinking of this as they paced the street towards their dinner.

"It isn't often we have a -really all-fine Cai» Week," said Alan, at last, ''but* I do think we ora safe for it this time."

"Yes," said aunt, smiling at the intense blua sky. "I am so glad! I hate.to think of poor holiday-makers having their pleasure spoiled." .

She did not allude only to the racing folk, cn. whom " the good Church people desire that raia

jahfflûâ Mk ._ ÇUD Pft2 05% a EOfeli« -holiday

through the length and breadth of Victoria, and all the.trains and steamboats running at excur sion fares, the Y.M.C.A. and Sunday schools in numerable disport themselves in pious games, and shopkeepers and postmen, with all representatives' et industrious respectability, go a holiday-making in their best clothes as a social duty, and In a more thorough manner than at any . other time of the year-even Christmas. And the sun must thine upon Just and unjust together. Perhaps, however, aunt was not-even alluding to these.

In .the parsonage 3!r. Paine eat down to his din ner, vis-a-vis with his daughter, who kept house for him so admirably. She was a very pretty girl, and looked charming In her new summer frock of - pink zephyr and the neat apron ehe had put on

to preserve it. No one would have guessed, from; her appearance, how severe she' otmld be. ~ Ste caused her father to shake in his shoes at times like the present, when he knew he. had failed in his duty as a "clergyman and a rural dean. Anna, somehow, never failed in hers.

"What delightful weather!" remarked the par son, with' affected light-heartedness, beginning - to-carve the cold lamb set before him. "The

eollection was double what we had last _Sunday morning." ./

Anna turned the salad over thoughtfully. . "It ls very unfortunate that Cup Day should fall on the ftTst," she said. "I am afraid we shall haye no congregation. I think, father,

you ought to have said something about it in ,

your sermon. : Who will remember Ail . Saints' j

Day when their heads are full of the winner and their gains and losses?"

"Perhaps I ought. But I will have a choir practice after service. That always brings a few.' I will give it out ? to-night."

"I am afraid even the choir will not- come on a Cup Night. But I will go and see some of them, and ask them to set "an example. And, -by the-way, my dear father, do please write down your notices in future, and read them from the paper. Your memory is not as good as it used to be, and a mistake such as you made this morning is too, too dreadful. The whole church was giggling. All the young clergy will hear about it, and make fun of you. I dare say It will come to the bishop's ears."

"I know, my dear. I am extremely sorry. But we are all liable to blunder sometimes.- I suppose I was thinking of your young friends coming to see the fireworks from the tower, or something"^ that sort."'

"We- might have thought of it," said Anna, "though not in church, I hope. But such things can't interest you." .

- vMr.- Paine attacked his. dinner-resolutely. .He

-was an old man, grey and bald, with lines in his thin, large-featured face; but his teeth and his appetite for food (amongst other things) were as good as hers. - She lectured him throughout his meal, gently, but firmly. Then she made him a nice cup of tea, and sent him forth to his after noon bush service with a great coat and com forter in the buggy; for she was a devoted child.

"My dear," he protested, "I don't want wraps this summer day."

"That is just where you careless people make a mistake," she replied, calmly. "You think that one warm day, like one swallow, makes a summer. It may turn cold at any moment; and will when the sun goes down. It is very well ? fdr us young folks to run risks-though I never

do lt, for I think It is wrong--but. not for people of your age. The first heat is worse, for giving colds than winter weather."

So he drove off, with his wraps under the seat, accompanied by Toby, who had returned from bis visit to aunt to join the expedition,*; and Miss

Paine went to Sunday School. She was a ter- '

ror at Sunday School: ? Of course, I mean that she was a terror to misbehaving boys and girls. To the school itself she was foundation and cop ing stone; it never could have got along, not to say excelled in good management as it did, with .. out-her...

The first of November came. The first of November is All Saints' Day^-and when it falls on a Tuesday it falls naturally on the first Tues day of the month, and the first Tuesday of the month is Cup Day. The combination, as sadly anticipated, was fatal to the success of Mr. Paine's service. «A morning week-day service never had a chance, ,save on Good Fridays and Christmas Days, but an evening one, especially with a choir practice tacked on to it, did some times come off, to flatter the poor parson that the church was still what ft used to be in the good old times. On this occasion there was no congregation-<>nly Anna and another; and the trerger was furious at having to pull the bell on Cup Night. He rang for ten minutes instead of the regulation quarter - of an hour, and then plunged into the street and was lost to sight and use. "Mr. Paine waited dejectedly for the girls of the choir; was then commanded by Anna to read the prayers and give a short address, as a duty to the solitary parishioner who had been Jed to expect them, but who would gladly have; let him off; and then put out the lights himself, . and locked the western door. Before he left

the vestry he wrote down in his sermon book that a service had been held, and had been poorly attended on account of rain. But is was - not the rain that killed that service; it was the

Cup. The great race had. been run two hun "dred miles away, and the astonishing victory of

Glenloth had been known for hours; but still the. excitement of the event reverberated through the little-.town, and so absorbed thé thoughts' of nearly' every, man, woman, and child in it that they had . never noticed the lighted windows of the church on -the hill. The bell tinkled to : deaf/ears.

" "I did think," said Mr. Paine, "that Miss Ran

some would have come, if nobody else."

. "Yes," said Anna, who was aggrieved because Alan had not brought his aunt--though, indeed, even Bhe acknowledged that it was too much to . expect of any young man who bad not a pro

nouncedly pious bent. "She, at any rate, might nave set an example." * "

Though it was with no idea of" setting an ex ample that she did it, aunt had. duly prepared Xor church. To her it was a blessed privilege to sit under Mr. Paine, and the Cup was nothing; abe did not even know thatr Glenloth had been last horse but. one in the betting, until Alan told her at tea. But just as she was creeping down stairs in waterproof and goloshes, her niece intercepted her, and loudly forbade her to> go out on, such a night.

(Tb be continued.)