|Newspaper Title||Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1870 - 1907)|
|Trove Title||Two Old Fogies|
Two Old Fogies.
(By Ada Cambridge,)
' -CHAPTER :TII.-(Continued.) W:^
"It 'is too Did;'" said aunt warmly:, "that you should be worried -with rthosé petty-eciuabblés, wbeii you .have>so" much; eke, so many more important things. to think of. ? It! Is' a- pity-1 "am' not. a youñg girl, with a.. good, treble voice.!' Y ! .
"Yes, no, no,"I "don't meian' yes.l -It would .be a, pity if you "were anything-but just what you^ are. Do let me take your plate and give you some pie. .Some strawberries,, then? Anna, Miss Ransome's cup is empty." . '
"I beg your pardon, Miss Ransome," said Anna, with a start. She was forgetting her duties for the moment in a seiml-private discussion with Alan on the great subject of individual responsibility. The pair of schoolgirls were chattering across the table .about the affairs of their school, their approaching examinations, the holidays, the matric, and. so on. It was. a most successful tea-party.
Alfter tea, it being still broad daylight, the child ren sat down to a gaime of tiddledyrwinks, to paEs the time until it wa^ dark enough for the ftre -works. Tlddledy-winks looks a silly game to those who do not play lt, but to those who do it be comes strangely fascinating; so that even after the lamps were lighted it was difficult to make fchcße players leave off.* Anna took Alan for a stroll round the garden, but before she did so she gave proper heed to the question of what was to ¡be done fOT aunt, . ... .
" j"I think, father," she sadd, "that, Miss Ransome ought not to go up the tower in the. dark; for the first time. If you were to take her nov; while it is still daylight, and make her go gently and take plenty of time, she would not be. nearly so nervous. .AlrrrMr..Ransom« wuuld see.af ter us." . "c . "That is.a .good Idea," -cried Mr. Paine. "Come, Miss Ransome, -we wtll--lead thé'expedition. ,What wrâpiï haïve you ?" ', -/ - - ;
. Aunt's little mantle .was.fetched,, and declared "to be inadequate. Mr. Paine insisted on an old furred jaclset and woollen hood, provided ..by his daughter. ¿
"It will be chilly' tip-there, though it is'so mild now," he said, "and* you ; must be^areful of "that delicate chest. Put on all the warmth you can carry, Miss Ransome. Be on the safe ¡?ide."
"Perhaps I had better," sbe said, submitting meekly to Anna's resolute hands. "I seem to have just a little touch of cold hanging about me from the damp weather."
"If I had known that," said Alan menacingly, "I wouldn't harve allowed you to come. I've a great mind to forbid your going up."
"Dear boy, it is nothing," she answered in a panic, and hastened out before be could eajy more. Alan was going to bea doctor, and was beginning to practise on his aunt. "She thought lt so sweet of him to take such care of her, and to give ber i pills and potions when she was not well; but to
night she preferred to be taken care of by Mr. Paine. Luckily, Alan desired her room at that
j moment, and not her company ; so he let her go. !
Happiness is not the- prerogative of youth, wibat I ever the young may think. These two old fogies,
left to their-own devices for three-quarters of an hour, were perhaps as ihappy as they had ever been in their lives. "When they shut themselves Into the vestry, and closed out the dutiful children who loved to keep them _in order, they felt young ..themselves, and though they treated each other with a delicate respect that is somewhat out of da^e the same light was in their eyes, the same glow in their hearts, as had been kindled in those of the girl and boy now walking round the garden.
"This ls my' new chalice-veil," said the parson eagerly, "that I got out from London last mail. I have been wanting to «'how it to you. Is not the work perfect? And here's the illustrated catalogue -I- want you to tell me which oí these altar cloths you like beet. I must manaige somehow to get a new one before next Baster, and I have such faith in your taste; I am always wishing for you to consult with and to decide for me. Ah, it is too dark to see properly! Put it in your pocket and look at it when you are by yourself at home."
This -was the sort of thing they talked about. Trumpery, doubtless, to people who are not old fogies, but heapt-satli3fyintg to them.
The dusk was gathering fast when they passed down the church to the front porch and the ladders, and .Mr. Paine began to »be anxious about aunt's nerves, and she anxious to show him how intrepid (under " certain circumstances) she could be. He reproached himself for not having rigged up certain appliances to make the ascent easier, and «he skipped up the trembling rungs while he was talk ing about it, BO that his heart came into his mouth. Anna would have been scandalised to see an old .lady so conducting herself had she been there.
They reached the top safely, but slowly. The rapid twilight had become night by the time they emerged upon the roof, and . when aunt was led to the battlemented parapet to look out upon that view for the first time, she cried, "Oh-h-h-h!" in rapture. . *~
I It was indeed a beau't'lfu.1 picture, weill worth tho walting for. There was no rain or mist to spoil it now. The sky was clear of cloud, full of its own deep Australian night color, and Chick with stars. LJke waves alon'g the horizon rolled the forest oovered ranges, all distinct in the transparent air; shadows bf velvet, with here and there a house Ught, like a diamond twinkling out of them. Tho town beneath lay suffused in. Remtbrandtlsh glows from lamps, seen and unseen, and red torches .be ginning to' flare under the new-leaved Englisih trees. The atmosphere was pure and fine to an .intoxicating degree, for no factory chimney, no coal smoke, no moid, no dust, no anything that was urclean, defiled it; it was the atmosphere of the hills and of an early saumimer night washed in
j plenteous spring rains and perfumed with the
wholesome breath of gum-trees and flowers. In «hort, perfect. . . *.
Aunt sighed a long sigh once .or twice In silence. When ehe spoke there were tears in her voice.
"This makes one feel," she said-and stopped, unable to express herself.
"Yes," said her companion softly.
i * * ?
The torahes were all lit, and gloiwed redly"dbwn the street like an invisible (house 'burning. Out ol the glare the clock-tower, of the post-office rose, pallid and unsubstantial, into the upper darkness, .like something in a llnne-llghted transformation scene. Little foreshortened figures, mere ants upon the ground, were moving hither and thither -memibens ol the fire-brigade, in their smart uni iforme, arranging the torchlight procession.
"I must call the children," said Mr. Paine.
! He *went to the traip-door and listened; then he I went to tho parapet overlooking his own house 4Pd
grounds, and signalled with a gentle "cooee" over the tree-tops. - (Presently the young ones, heralded I by the lantern, rwhíoh was extinguished aa soon as
?possible, came scrambling up, laughing and calling 1 to one another j and as the last one-©ve-pitt hei
head out of the hofle, whish-*b-sh-tho Aral 'rocket eoot Into, the sky, bam with a little hollow noise like a bursting pea-pcd, and rained down it% enchanting stars. .yj.ucn
"Thoöe rockets," said Eve to her compaatoii. -'.cost -five shillings.apiece." , oieerifA
"I think it a wicked waste of money," said .Anna.". ¡- .... .: . , ,
.''these bad times' too,"Vsaid Alan sympa thetically. '. - --. ? " :<r
But aunt whispered, to the grey man beside her, : that she simply loved to look at them;' and1 he
said so did he. . . ' ? ;
The procession was formed, and began Äs march round the streets to the stirring muslc-of the town band. They could not see it for a long time, but saw where it was by the illumination of the -trees above it as It passed. Every now and then it emitted a spray of little rockets, that died upon the roofs and roads, and, like great chords
in a merry^tune, another and another of. those : soaring big'ones, which would have beckoned the souls of spectators like atint to the infinities they seemed to pierce if . Eve had hot persisted jn stating how much they cost. At last lt camé flaring and clanging into the street beside the church, along by the tree-walled church garden; and round the corner, and past'the gate; andijust in front of the tower it halted, spread, re-formed-,
and lit itself upj in the most amazing blood-red - flame-a wizard light, celestial or infernal,6¡aajr thing but earthly, transfiguring the world, VAuBt as it Biéla's comet had run into us," Eve'ttaa some said. The grey-white granite of the'to.wer wall blushed crimson as a rose, and the fa'ce^'pu the top of it were the faces of angels or ;ghosts.
Thè church trees glittered, leaf,by leaf, likei the .-/. jewelled, trees of fairy-landh . ? ?.""
. "I would not," said aunt; in à low'"tone óf .ráp ture, "have missed this tot anything! " l t: : ^f
"I am so glad," said Mr. Paine, earnestly*!'/so devotedly glad .that it is a fine night. - I did so want you to enjoy it." . .
- -Then the fed light died out,-and the*cöoi, clfear,
blue dárkness. came back, with" all the quiet hills "
lying out in it. The procession-marched bacTt ' ^" into the town, with its Lilliputian rabble after lt, and worked Its magic in other streets. . Four more great rockets-another pound, as somebody remarked-leaped, hissing, into.;the empyrean,
and dropped each its handful of colored stars int. space. Then all was still, the churchfctower was left alone, and the night suddenly began to feel
"lt's over," said Eve, jumping up from where she lay on the flat of her back along the sloping leads. "Polly, let's go down and have another game of tiddledy-winks." ? ? '
Next morning aunt awoke with a very sore throat. But a malden aunt is not privileged to be ill on account of so ordinary a complaint as that, and she got up and dressed and .pursued the trivial round and common task as usual.
First she went Into her nephew's room, picked his slimy sponge out of his soapy hand-basin, and his towel-very wet-from the floor, where he had flung it, on top of his pyjama trousers. Also she removed his hair-brush, which he had plunged into the ewer before using, from the book-the
good, new, medical book-on which he had left'""1 it, face downwards, to drain. Though she had brought him up, she had never been able to make him keep his thiugs tidy-nor Eve either. She, too, liked to throw her nightgown qn the floor and anything wet that might be handy upon it,
or upon the bed. She would never hang up frock. ; or jacket'by its loops, nor upon a knobbed hook if there happened tó be a sharp-ended one available. She would never wear her "sets" in rotation, biit
always took the garment that came first out bf . the drawer; and she forgot to change her things on the right days, and to put them into the wash when they were changed. Also,, she never brushed her teeth when she could help it, nor thought it necessary to do more to her hair than have it superficially smooth for meal-times. Aunt did not blame them, for they had had a slatternly mother. . She just did their tidying for them.
Going into her niece's room, before descending to breakfast, she found Eve dressed in the white frock she had taken Off last night-by no means a frock to go te morning shcool in. She was order5 ed at once to. change it.
"It's cool," said Eve mutinously, "and all my others are hot ones. Besides, it's dirtied out, going up. that tower."
"It ls scarcely soiled at all," said aunt, "and will last some time for afternoons. Take it off; my dear, when I tell you."
Eve pulled lt off tempestuously,-dashing about the room. She had a writing-atble of her own a birthday present from aunt-and On it stood the travelling ink-bottle which she persisted In using rather than the solid vessel that had been provided for her. The two halves of the travelling ink bottle were nearly equally heavy, and she mostly left it open. It was. open now, and as she ill
temperedly flung herself about she knocked it , over, and the ink streamed across the pretty, table- . cloth. She hastened to mop it up with one of her best cambric p'ocket-handkerchiefs. _
"Oh, Eve! Eve!" , wailed aunt "When shall I teach you sense!" ?
"I'm- awfully sorry^-I didn't" mean to do it," pleaded Eve. "Don't be cres?, there's an old dear.
It's all right now: And-I'll put my «old frock oh, though it 1» such a fearfully hot day."
"I will try to get your new print finished, darl ing,"-said aunt, appeased.
, Eve took off the too-smart white drees, and stood in the colored petticoat which had been show ing through. On. the breast of that petticoat wefl^ a large, dark patch. Aunt saw it, and touched it;
it was sopping wet.
"Well, aunt, there wes a. slug got upstairs and crawled over my olotihes. in the night. I only «aw the slimy mark "where it had. been after I had pu* on my petticoat, and I just took a sponge and clean
"Child, take it off directly-take everything off... You will catch your death!"
"I can't, aunt dear " I haven't got another petti- . coat. Ifs in the soiled clothes-b:eket. I forgot-to put lt in the wash. And the other one is^elitMMl down the front" " 1;°"*'
"Give lt to me to mend," eaid aunt, in a voice ; of despair. - , : .
The troubles of the day caine thick and- fast, and . before noon the little woman broke down undefl. them. Alan, hunting for biscuits to stay hie stomach until dinner time, found'her crying in the pantry, where she was trying to fill a gloss jug
from on empty niter.
"Hullo, old woman, what's the matter?" he cried', affectionately concerned'. - "
"Did you ever see such a "minx os Sarah ?'* moan! ed aunt bitterly. . "You would think she did ft qa purpose. Empty omití-and in this weather! " Arid I have Just found the big kettle cracked right ocrosa the bottom! She left it to go dry on the fire, , and when it vras red-toot poured cold water into it."., *
Aunt dropped nar head on her nephew's stalwart arm and sobbed aloud. >. í iTo be continued.*. ¿