Chapter 71283941

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Chapter NumberIV.-(Concluded.)
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71283941
Full Date1898-03-05
Page Number9
Corrections0
Word Count2931
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 IV.-(Concluded.) *

He put the arm round her. "Here, you are not going to cry about a rubbishy thing like that, surely! Give me thart jug- T'll fill it at the bank filter. "Why, you're all of a tremble! ' And how hot your hand ie!" He grasped the little hand, and laid his large, cool fingers on the flurried pulse. "Aunt, you're il'l-that's what's the matter with you-not kettles and filters. Come along, and sit down and tell me how you feel. ' It's that beastly tower businets, I expect. 1 just thought you'd catch cold, exposed so long to the night air."

"I had it before, darling. I could not have caught it there, wrapped up as I was-so well taken care of."

He took her to che family sitting-room, and there looked at her tongue, listened to her breathing which, was decidedly heavy-and put a clinical ther mometer into her mouth. Temperature, lOldeg.

"You go straight off to bed, old lady," he said sternly. "That's the place for you."

"I can't, dear boy. t must get Eve/s print frock finished. Mow that the weather has turned hot, she has nothing to wear."

"Off to bed," he repeated, with the inflexible air of the profecEñonaJ adviser. "If you don't go of your own accord, I shall call the Governor to make you. I shall send for a doctor whom you won't like half as well as you do me."

Aunt went to bed, and Eve put on a poultice!-in a great hurry-before going to afternoon school, and Alan administered a dcse^from a bottle he had pro cured at the chemist's. .' Then the patient was or dered to go to sleep, and.no one chö-üght anything more about her until tea-time. The boy went to the club tennis ground, and the girl, on her return from school, pracois«d exercises on the.piano. Aunt, propping herself «n pillows, and with her work basket beside her, sewed at the print frock all the afternoon, and finished it.

She was accustomed to a> cup of tea at 4 o'clock, and to-day pined for it desperately, choked with the scorching thirst of'a fever now at 103deg. She heard the rattle of the tray as Sarah carried It to the" .sitting-room, and trembled with suspense as Eve fitrummed on and on, regardless of its arrival. After five minutes' waiting, aunt called aloud; she waited, weeping a little, and called again; but she was too far off for her voice to be heard, and she had no bell. At last, In desperation, she got out of bed, and went dowm. the passage in her nightgown-a thing strietly forbidden, by her medical man. Eve heard her then, and came flying to scold her for disobeying Alan's orders.

"You bad old woman ! What's the use of doctor ing you, when you undo it all like this?"

"I want my tea, love; and I want it hot," eaid poor aunt.

"All right. I thought you were asleep. Go to bed, and I'll bring it ta you."

Aunt retreated to her room, and Eve brought the tea. But now it was tepid and nasty, the milk a brown scum upon the top-no comfort at all. How ever, aunt bore the dlsapoihtment, rather than trouble Sarah and Eve to make a fresh cup, since

they did not volur^eer to db so. She drank the wre*cn«lL stuff, ^bife infer niece eagerly turned about. tyLBTÖft /rock, and urged her to finish it if she -TOuîC *H$ thai it rnlght be put <o» ia the rnoTnlngr.

When the girl had gone, having been oa<lled for to take a walk with a school friend, the little hot hand« sewed on desperately until their job waa done. Then aunt, got out of . bed again to .put away her rf work-basket, lebt:- Alan- should suspect; what ehe -had . been dotag. . and peold her ; and/ returning, lay . down in the pensive'dusk to-realise how solitary she :was, and how. much: more Ul she felt than she had done in the morning. . "'Oh,-, how happy they are that have their own dear -husbands - to . take care of them!" she thought,'with' her handkerchief at her fevered «yea.

However, she was not without some one to care for her. In the evening, when the family were making merry, with a casual guest over a game of cards, and Sarah was talking to her young man at the yard"" door, a shrinking, slinking form came gliding through the passages and up the stairs and straight into the darkened room. Toby seemed to have foreboded that aunt was .ill, and felt impelled to come and see, the season-of which unusual soli citude on the part of a dog for a person not belong ing to his own household being due to his in stinctive knowledge that she ought to have belong ed to it, and virtually did so. He laid his damp nose on the edge of the mattress and whimpered under hia breath, begging her to reassure him. Then, after standing still for a long time, while she embraced his head and let him lick her face as much aa he liked, he stealthily climbed up on the bed and stretched himself at full length beside her. He was full of fleas, but she did not mind that now. They lay there together in silent sym pathy, until Mr. Ransome, learning that his sister was not well, caine to ask her how she felt, on his way. to -bed."" Then Toby was kicked downstairs,

and bundled-out" into tlhe street.

All next day Mr. Paine kept audibly wonder ing what on earth was the matter with that dog. Toby left the house, and. came .back, whining and restless; left it again, and returned lu the same perturbed condition, a« if vainly looking for some-' thing. - - " -" . - -

"What is it, old dog? Whait is it, then?" he demanded cheerily, slapping Toby's sides:

Toby yapped, jumped with all his feet at once, and made little runs to the door.

"Do you want me to take you for a walk, old fellow? Very well; let us go for a walk." Mr. Paine went to get his hat and stick, and Toby shrieked wkh eagerness. So the object of his de

sire seemed understood.

The parson, who was an inveterate gossip, saw and stopped a few parishioners in the street; then ho remembered that he had something to say to his treasurer about a church meeting, and called at Mr. Ransome's bank. The manager was at home, but seemed less interested in church mat

ters than usual.

"I hope," said Mr. Paine, "that your family are

all well."

"Thank you," said Mr. Ransome, "they are, with the exception of my sister, who has managed to pick up a nasty sort of feverish cold."

"I am sorry for that. She is not seriously in disposed, I trust?" -

"I trust not," said Mr. Ransome. "For the house all seems to go to pieces when she is laid up."

He said no more, and Mr. Paine, feeling that he was'not wanted particularly, got up to go. "Here, Toby! Toby!" he called. "Where is that dog of mine off to?"

"I daresay he ia in my sister's room," said the banker, with wonderful toleration, for he had been heard to threaten that he would shoot Toby some day. "You might leave him, if you don't mind. It amuses her to have him."

"Certainly," said Mr. Paine, "if he ls not a nui sance. Give her my kind regards, and tell her I hope she will soon be herself again."

That evening, when he was in his study, look ing up a subject for Sunday's sermon, Toby came and clawed at the door, and whined more urgently

than ever.

"He can't want a walk now,' 'thought the par son, annoyed by the disturbance, "and If he goes on like this, he will have to be punished. Quiet,

slr!" he thundered.

Then Toby gave up asking him to come and help poor aunt in her extremity, and went back to do what he could for her by himself. He found th« bank shut up, and lay on its street doorstep till morning.

In the morning the town rang with the news that aunt was in a critical statte with Inflamma tion of the lungs. The veriest nobody becomes a somebody under these circumstances. Mr. Paine, breakfastless, was rushing off to make in quiries, when a note was put into hie hand.

Dear Mr. Paine,

My poor aunt has had a very bad night, and the doctor seems to consider her case a serious one. Father thinks lt would he a comfort to her to see a clergyman, so will you kindly come round to-day, If quite conveni ent? They are trying to get her to sleep now, so per haps you had better not call until after dinner,-Yours sincerely, Eva Ransome.

Mr. Paine called four times, but lt was not until late in the afternoon Chat he was let in, though his daughter had been assistant nurse all day. It was Anna who-withheld, and then gave permission to admit him, and who gravely escorted him to

aunt's room.

"She is a little better now," said the young clergywoman, in her business-like way, "but lt will not last. You had better urge her to take the sacrament while she can. I suggested it for this afternoon, and that we should join, but she seems to wish to see you alone first. I am afraid she does not realise how short her time is likely

to be."

The clergyman, leaving behind him his prayer book for the sick, and all concern for the viaticum to which Anna attached so much importance, crept into aunt's room. What a change, in three days, from that happy, nappy night ! She had just rallied from a sort of 'hall-drowned state, out of seas of stupe fying pain and narcotic insensibility, and sh< j smiled at him wistfully with her heavy, dari

eyes. But death was in her face. He saw it th< moment he looked at her, and she knew that h<

saw it.

He sat down in the chair by the bed-in the fa: side of her lay Toby, looking from one to th i other with solemn satisfaction-and he took he

poor hand in his, and wept over it and kisse< it. It was the first lover's kiss that aunt ha< ever had.

"Lock the door," she whispered, panting.

He stumbled across the room, blinded with tears and turned the key In the look. Going back ti her, he dropped on his knees, put one arm unde the pillow and the other over her laboring llttl breast, and kiEsed her .again-on the lips thl time. She kissed hiim back, moaning, with shu eyes, holding him to her as well as she eouh with hands so fast losing their power to hol< anything. Toby gently stretched forward iron where he lay. .beside thean, and licked the twi ¿rey headja.

"I have chosen tho altar-cloth," gasped aunt 1 wujea she waa afele to speak. "Number fifty-tw

-the Latin cross-with the three stars-on the super-frontal-in silk velvet-the best-"

. "Oh, my dear," he groaned, "don't niind those trifles now!" .

'íYes, You must get it-for Easter.-r i want a

lawyer-to come and "make a- codicil. I want to '?*"?. ; leave-the money to buy it-number-- fifty-twos,' I Then-when, you ;go-into, the church-^-and see-it

-you will remember me." . - . v;.---? ; ! "Oh, my God! As if I shall need anything to,

remember you by!"- ^,." .

'A, bursting sott broke from him, hushed down ' ; quickly; lest the people in the house should hear.-. Aunt's face screwed up for a moment, and two tears rolled down. Toby rose to his feet in alarm;

and sniffed and whined.

'.'Don't, darling!" breathed aunt. "Oh, I

never knew-I never thought-that you oared

like thar!"

"Didn't you? You must have known. But tho children, . dear-the children-"

"They would never have allowed it," sighed *

aunt. v - .

"I might have had you ail this time to take

care cf, to nurse-"

"And I could have been a comfort to you

William-"

"Elizabeth! Oh, what a different life! What a. home-" :

"But the children-wouldn't let us. They would have said-we were mad. They would never-r never have allowed it, William."

"And now-now we have lost the chance!'*

"Yes-no, "not quite.- This- has been-^-'our ." ' chance. . Kies me, . William. Oh, William!: -I

never thought-to call you ,Williám-r-torhave^voit ;. ¡- ?.; kies me-William--" ; ....

---\'0h. Elizabeth! Elizabeth!''" ./

Toby whined again, begging them to command- - "

themselves. But they could not.. -?

Anna looked at the clock in the sitting-rcwaii

about, this "time, "father, must have finished his .

prayers and reading by now,", she said. "I must-";'.;' " take "her some nourishment." - ' ? ' * - '

?She took it, and firmly administered it. Afr« Paine witnessed the operation in mute anguish, hovering between the bed and the door, while tho patient did her beat to show him that she could swallow still. Then he was ordered to go home and do his sermon; for it was Friday night.

On Sunday night she died, while he was preach ing a fler¡mon that was several years old. And, of course, he had not been allowed to nurse her in, her last hours, though Toby waa privileged to stay by her nearly all the time. Toby would have ¡been turned out often, but whenever he saw a chance of that happening he got under the bed, and so evaded notice. He also learned that he must not open his mouth, though his heart should burst with grief; so he lay and watched.in passive patience, or with pricked ears and quiver ing nose, until his friend ceased to see that he was there, ceased to respond to his surreptitious licks, ceased to be visible to his yearning eyes. Then he did lament most dismally. They over looked him, lying under the bed, when they left her in a long box with a sheet over it, hidden in a nest of out paper frills, and the noise he made gave Sarah such a turn that she declared she dursn't sleep in the house till the corpse was out of it. A corpse 'hat a dog howled over In that fashion waa something out of nature, she said. ' .

They Wed Toby up with a strong chain all Monday, so that he might not disturb the funeral.

The weather changed on Monday-in that sud

den way that is peculiar to Australian weather- .

from summer to winter, in a night. And tho f hundreds of mourners that "followed," in 'cabs and buggies, and on horseback and on foot, after

the kindly Australian custoau, felt an unusual ' grey dreariness in' the familiar function, and were glad to get it over and get back to the warm

precincts of home and the public-house. By four - o'clock-twenty hours from the time when she had Í belonged to the living world-poor aunt was in

her grave, with the raw earth heaped aihove her; and the gates of the cemetery were shut, and not

a soul within them.

But one came back. Mr. Paine, having gone . , through the ordeal of getting his tea, could no

longer endure the proximity of his daughter, with - her untimely questions and advice. On a pretext of parochial business, he went out while it was

still daylight., and took Toby off the "chain to go ^ with htm. The dog ©prang forward, wagging an expectant tail, as If there were still hopes that aunt might be somewhere where she could bo brought back. But when he stood beside her grave, and saw how his master looked at it, ho I seemed to understand what had been done ' that ¡ day, though he had not been to the funeral. He

lifted uip his nose and howled on a long note; then he fell upon the new-made ground, and began, to rake away the earth with hie fore-paws.

"No use, Toby!" said his weeping master. And

.he stopiped the dog's proceedings, replacing the . scattered mould with his hands, and patting it smooth. Dogs were not allowed in the cemetery, by order of the trustees, but the print of Toby's body was descernible upon that mound as lons as the soil was loose enough to take it. Tho caretaker laid wait with his gun for the desecrat ing beast, until the matter was explained to bira. Then he and the trustees gave Toby the freedom of the City-that city of the dead.. *

The 'Rausomes wanted to tray him, for aunt'«

sake, and the enticements of- pats and bones werô ^ offered from many other quarters. But a dog Uko Toby is not to toe bought, though men and women are. " He stuck to his fellow-mourner, making more of him than he fiad ever done, seeing a new] need for his devotion-a double need. The parishs did not see it, but Toby saw it-the change tho 20th of November had worked in William Paine. The children might "call him an old man now, for he was an old man. But he had not been old before. . .. ; '