|Chapter Title||And last|
|Newspaper Title||Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1870 - 1907)|
|Trove Title||A Rose Among Cornstalks|
A Rose Among Cornstalks.
(By Ruby Whittell.)
Affectionately dedicated to Uncle Dick.
CHAPTER VIII, (and la.3t.)
So Moola was useless, and could do nothing for days to come, and went about with a bandaged right hand in a sling, and even grew a little thin with the pain of it, and very helpless and cling ing. Rose surprised them all by her gentleness and sympathy. They could not know of the cry
tit ^he girl's heart-the cry for their respect and love-for she was beginning to feel the barrier very keenly.
. One day she and Moola had a little talk, sit ting out on the verandah. The boys and Girlie were away in the country town, seven miles away, for fireworks, for there was to be a great burn ing-off of logs in one of the paddocks next night -a golden opportunity for fireworks. Besides, they had some wicked ideas in connection with "Jumping Jacks " and the staid old twins, Jim and Zachariah. So Rose and Moola sat and talk ed the long afternoon away, and little Babette went on with her text and her chalk paints quite ¡happily, and careless of the patches of Prussian iplue on her white, rose face.
"Moola," began Rose, at last, awkwardly, "I-I don't think that you have ever quite forgiven me for not looking after Babette better that picnic day-and--"
"Forgiven you!" Moola's warm, impulsive heart was in a glow. "Of course I have, long ago, Rose; surely you knew that, dear."
"Yes, in a way; but you will never think the same of me again, Mobla-you would sooner trust the children with anyone than with me, and you ?-you do not like me."
Rose was bending over her. fancywork nervous ly all the time she spoke. It was a great trial to ¡her to speak so, but something impelled her to, and with the last words she looked Moola quietly in the eyes. Moola hesitated. She" -was very
"Rose," she said, gently, "I do like you. You have been very cold to me, you know, dear, and perhaps I haven't understood you; but now that you have spoken out-t-why, I love you; and-well, do not think any more of things like that.- Let us begin again, dear, and you will see how much we can love each other. We are cousins, and ought to, oughtn't we? It's not as though we were only friends."
"Ah, yes," said Rose, with sad wisdom; "but one can choose one's friends, but not one's rela tions."
Moola broke into a emile.
"How funny of you!" she said, looking into Rose's fair face. "But I- am so very glad we are not going to be cold and reserved to each other any more. I could not bear it, Rose; and did not know how to alter it; but your speaking out has. It seemed before as though you didn't care for my love." And Rose felt better satisfied, ¡but she had not won their respect 'yet, and that 3s what she so' sadly missed.
The next day things were even more'pleasant. Ted and Girlie were wildly excited, for they had a ' mysterious parcel of fireworks ready for the log-burñirig at.night, and no one was allowed td
see it but themselves. But Girlie went and look- :
ed lovingly at intervals, and little Babette near- . 3y picked a tiny hole in-the brown paper to peep, and then she thought it might be mean and wrong", and went away triumphant over temptation. After tea, when it grew dark, they all went down to the paddock. It was glowing with burning logs, 'beautifully red and fiery, and dark figures of men ¡moved about superintending. Jim and Zachariah were there with long rakes, and then there was a rush of the children, and a surprising five min
Utes of shouting, and shipping, and jumping Jacks. Even Babette grew bold, and lighted a . cracker of her own-self and then threw it far away.
It-fell on Zachariah's head, and exploded with a noise, which made him deafer than ever;.but ho did not grumble when he knew where it-came from-for everyone seemed to love Babette. She flitted among the brilliant logs like a fire fairy, her white dress catching the radiance of the red giow, and her lit'tlé .fair face excited and pink. Moola and' Rose watched from the fence, and ca therine wheels and; blue devils were the piece de resistance, and were only let off when interest was slackening in squibs and the plentiful crackers. And none of them, light-hearted and happy, dream ed that this night was to have a great deal to do with influencing their liveg. . . ,
By-and-bye Moola-began to fidget a little with the pain of her hand; the warmth of the fire seem ed to make it worse, and Rose noticed. it. "Is your hand very painful?" she asked. "It's be cause of the fire, I expect."
"It is ráthér bad," ádmitted Moola, trying not to feel so dreadfully like crying, and longing to go up to the cool of the house again, and have it freshly bound.
"Why don't you go and put some more stuff on it?" asked Rose gently. "I will stay and watch the children."
"I would," Moola hesitated; "only"-she glanc
ed towards the children and the fire.
"Moola," cried Rose, speaking quickly for her; "won't you trust me this once, with the chil dren? I will, be very.careful, and I can see you are in great pain. Surely you can trust me."
Mcola kissed her impulsively, her doubts van ished. "Thank you,"., she said,, gratefully. "I will go up to mother, then-see they aren't too venturesome, Rose-it will- all be over in a little while, I expect-^-they only had about three or four shillings for ,thèir fireworks. Goodbye."
And as Moola's little slim form Avas lost in darkness, Rose settled her face on her arms, and
leant over the fence, watching a particularly
lively "blue devil," and thinking of her old Eng lish life, and of her father. Little Babette was near-like a will o' the wisp, with her crackers, and her sweet soft little cries of joy at the pops they made. Then suddenly she screamed shrilly, and Rose started from her reverie wondering. And stood-transfixed! Only a moment, and then she was over the fence-how she got over sh© never knew-clasping Babette-a poor little shrieking burning Babette, against the rough woollen jacket she wore, while her own hands burnt like fire, smothering the flames of the small muslin frock with herself and her clothes, while those around stood transfixed, for it only took a moment for all this to happen. And there was.Babette frightened nearly to death, and Rose sinking into unconsciousness, for she was burnt herself fearfully, even her eyelashes were singed off. A large half of a burning log had burnt through in one place, and fallen on Babette's feet, just as she bent to light a cracker-the great glowing mass had knocked her over, and impri soned her-only a moment, for Rose took the fiery mass in her own delicate hands, and lifted it with a strength she did not dream of, and then dragged Babette away, and choked the flames with her own body-and ended by growing unconscious with the pain of it. They carried her to the house, and Jack galloped off for a doctor. Oh, the dreadful excitement of it-and the fierce joy of having
1 thft'ir little darling Babette alive and unhurt after
being in such danger-and the heroine they made of Rose in their hearts for bravery like hers was not a little everyday thing. She lay in Moola's bed, moaning pitifully, and Mrs. Darrell, excited and surprised into strength, did all she could until the doctor came, and Moola watched Rose's every painful movement with a world of expression in her eyes; and then crept away to look at the little white rosebud. Babette, who was sleeping after having her very light singes bound in oil ban dages. Oh, if that tiny, dear, little body had been burnt, and hurt, as it would have been but for Rose-lt was agony to think of. Then the doctor came, and looked grave, when he saw Rose's burns and her poor raw hands. She was badly burned, and it was a great shock to the system; and there was danger of many things. And the English girl grew very ill.
The summer wore itself away, and Rose became better. What a fight there was as to which of them should do any little thing that had to be done for her-theycould not do enough for her; for she had saved Babette's life. It was strange how two such adventures should befal Babette so close ly together-the being lost, and then the fire dan ger, and they feared to let her out of their sight, but Rose's carelessness over the first was quite forgotten in her bravery. The boys saw she was not a "milksop," admired her accordingly, and in the love lavished on her Rose's cold reserve flew away, as though it had never been, and they saw the true nature beneath the exterior of shy cold ness. Her father was in West Australia, and wrote long letters to her to cheer her in her. mis fortune. And then came á letter in another hand writing, telling her that Edward Chester had died of fever there, and that Mrs. Darrell and Uncle John were to be her guardians. It was a terrible blow, for Rose was devoted to her busy energetic father, and fdr a long time she drooped, and did not seem to care to live. But the never-failing sympathy of the cousins-their hopefulness and cheerfulness, all helped to heal the , wound in
her heart, and as time flew by it was like a dream ' to remember the first few wretched weeks at Skil lagalee, when no one understood her, and she did not understand them. Years afterwards, when she was Jack Darrell's dearly-loved wife, and Mu riel rejoiced in the name of Fitzpatrick, and in a great tender, cheerful individual she called "Ro bert," Rose felt that all things are for the best after all; but this was many years afterwards. lt is advancing things very queerly to tell of it.
"I never thought I could love you as I do," said Moola, one May afternoon, about four months after the burning off, putting a red rose in her cousin's hair, "never dreamt there was so much in you to love-you hid your real self so very
much, didn't you, dear."
Rose nodded with a thoughtful smile. Babette sat near with a passionfruit in one hand, and a picture of a gaily-colored angel in the other. And but for Rose, she might not have been there at all. r/'Babette's so fon,d of heaven things," said Gir
lie; "she's never happy 'less she's coloring texts öl' painting ängels or something of that sort. Now I like more exciting things."
And she dashed off a little black devil with her crayon naughtily-she had taken to drawing them instèad of egg-shaped men lately. She only did it because it shocked Babette, and made her great bluebell eyes open in horrified dismay. It was her chief amusement, for she had broken the
cinématographe holt's house long ago, meddling
with it to seo how it worked. Jack and Ted were then at college .in Sydney, and Ted wrote regu larly tb Rose, who had, after all, filled the place of tho dairymaid, and was his principal ladylove for the time being. They all loved and understood her now. She was a little obstinate sometimes, and always particular about veils and freckles and fences; she was really unselfish,, and thoughtful ;and true, and it always seemed, a struggle between herself and Moola as to which should be most so. So the life at Skillagalce flowed peacefully, hap pily on; years brought changes in many ways, but their hearts it could not change, for they were united in a true and wonderful love.