|Newspaper Title||Queenscliff Sentinel, Drysdale, ... (Vic. : 1882 - 1884)|
|Trove Title||Dark Days: A Story of Light|
DAER DAYS. A STORY OF LIGHT. By G. MAInILLE FNN.` GCHATEE VI. "Well, old fellow, how go the experi ments ?" " 1Slowly-slowly," said Barry, looking up from his table where he was busily watching :the effect produced by some liquid upon a ?.' glass plate which he had just then carefully .. " lowered into its place. "Slow and sure wins, you know. But are you making progress?" 69 That 1 cannot say, only that I keep on getting very near, as I think, to success, and then find something standing in the way." "' But you are giving up everything for this, Dick. Is it wise ?" " You might say that to every man who has devoted himself to the task of discovery. Lusmore, old fellow, that's rather worldly." S"Why worldly ?" "Because it smacks of the world's judg ment upon a man who strives as I am striv ing. It he succeeds he is a hero; if he fails he is a fool for wasting time in chimeri cal pursuits. Steam and electricity were chimeras once. Now they rule the world." : Yes, but I don't like my old friend to run the risk of failure." '?Every inventor runs the risk of failure," said Barry with a smile. "I am prepared to lose, but I shall fight hard to win. But now of yourself. What news?" " I say, Dick, don't laugh at me." "Laugh at you? why should I?" "Because I've gone the way of all flesh. Well, here goes. Dick, old fellow, I've popped, and on my word it was awful to have to face the old soldier. I declare I thought he would have eaten me, only for tunately Dinah came in, and acting as a rescuer-we had planned it, by the way she took the old fellow in the flank, seated him, got her arms round his neck and hung there. And he surrendered at discretion, merely telling me first that if I did not make a good husband he'd shoot me, and afterwards, what do you think he had the impudence to say ?" "How can I tell?" "That he wished to goodness she had chosen you instead." "My dear Fred, I congratulate you ipon winning a bright, sweet, innocent' little woman for your wife." "Then why the dickens don't you give ' me the chance to congratulate you in a similar way about her cousin?" "Don't be absurd! But tell me' how you're getting on?" " Famously, but I have my 'work cut out. Directly you told me about the major and Basman, I made up my mind to ferret the whole matter out, and to see if I could not prove that he is behaving unfairly by the old gentleman. But I cannot prove it. The fellow is artful, cunning as a fox. I must have some illegal act, and I cannot find one. There have been a great many bill transac. tions, and he has got the major well under. his thumb; but that is not actionable, be cause he could easily show that he has spent a great deal of the money in advancing this company, and from what I hear, Basman professes to have used a deal of his own money as well." "Does the major still believe ;in this man ?" " I suppose so. At all events, they seem. =-::to, be very firmly bound together,' and.there is a tacit understanding that she thiiiks youo are behaving very badly in not trying to cut the fellow out." : Don't be absurd." ;:: '.... "It is you who are absurd.' Here:: you devote yourself to a series of experiments that have been going on for seven 'or eight. months, apparently for another man's sake." "?My dear Fred, I met Major Sanctuary at a time when I was eager to find some new idea to take up in the way of discovery. 'He' gave me the suggestion, and I worked at it; that is all." Lusmoresat thinking of the lines of thought. and care in his friend's face, of how much older and graver he looked than when they : went down into Cornwall the previous . autumn; while Barry took a retort, weighed S : out carefully certain proportions from some Ssmall bottles, placed them in the fragil glass .:i. bulb, arranged it on a stand, placed a re S: ceiver ready, and then took up a spirit-lamp. "What's that for ?" said Lusmore. ' " I am going to try the effect of a new gas . upon a sensitised plate," replied the chemist. "?'I. don't expect much, but it is only by such experiments as these that one makes way." :: ' "Not dangerous, it it? .No moreblow, in:, gs::u: p .?". ":::.,No risk of that, so long as the retort is . sound and the chemicals are good, aand I 1 Jawajs get the best I can." A: : s he spoke he lit the spirit lamp, and ap ::, plied the flame carefully to the thin glass: S.bulb, moving it about so as to, get the glass' ,i heated by degrees, and a It' placed' it so :'ithat the flame played upon the retort qguite' :: freely. I-always like to see that,:" said Lusmore ":: ="those dry crystals decomposed' by heat ' andii: dturning into gas. Ah ! there it comes; I can see it bubbling up throtigh the,water: S':jinto the receiver, and the water going down; " : i"::.' Yes," said Barry, stooping downto raise thi:the lamp a little. '"When the bell-glass' is I :`:ifulli: I shall place a plate in ihe gas, and theni " Crash ! "i:)i·!There was a tremendous explosion, the -ii::shivering of glass, a heavy fall, and oh Is-. mi;inore running to his friend's side it was to :, find him perfectly insensible upon thefloor. "?:'~ . Good heavens !" cried Lusmore;. ? Here,. q.! iuick!" he cried, as the servants'.ran iup, 'ii.:'the nearest surgeon !" :': There was one in the r?rom i' a few. I- minutes, examining poor Richad-ard Barry injuries, as soon as he had beeni laid upon a couch. "'::.'Poor May I I know she. loves him,' i:f' .thought Lusmore. Then in a w;'hisper ito the , doctor, "Is he dead'?" 9";; i': ·: ' Dead ?.No:'he will come to,: mani Poor fellow I'm afraid though that his sight .is gone." Sight gone ?" ' Yes;liir" said.the surgeoni'softlji, as he p::) i:,plied bandages to the injured face,1': there nisnodoubt of that;,his life mnay be saved, ;t he will be blind." ::;ii;".i?:months soon: slip aw?y, full of hap 'i: i ess : it'o some, full of regret arid inisery to Iji;oth-ers buit no one' could have told from his 'utward sieeming how they had .passed withl i;-.Richard Barry. . I; : For the first three ionth~is he had suffied. ; te:'trribiy; his had been meintal as well as .bodily lpin: Young and ambitious in his profession, sufficiently so to make him go S heart and soul into the effort to carry:out ' Major Sanctuary's proposals, the sudden darkness that had come upon him hnid seemed to be a burden that he could not bear; and when alone upon his bed there had'be?dii~ timei when he asked himself whethe':"?is' ' reason was not giving way.: By .degtees, though, he grew calmer, and could" hide '' from all who knew him how keen were his "sufferings.
Lusmore was greatly taken up by his pro fessional duties, and whenever he could steal time for a few days, in spite of the distance, he used to go down to Cornwall, his affair of the heart running smoothly and free from rock or shoal, But all the same he found time to spend with his friend, and there were few evenings that he was not by his side reading to him, when Barry would go softly up and down the room, habituating himself to the place, so that by the slightest touch he could tell where he was. "I don't annoy you, Fred, do I, perform ing this wild beast walk ?" "Annoy me, Dick? `What nonsense !" "You. see, I want to work up another sense to make up for the one I've lost." "Poor old Dick !" thought Lusmore, as he.gazed in his friend's face, from which the last trace of the explosion had passed away. Even his eyes did not show that they were sightless, save that there was a dim look in front of each pupil. "Poor old Dick ! he bears it far better than I could." He could not read his friend's heart, and how under that placid, calm look, and sad smile, there was an agony that at times was almost more than he could bear. And so time glided on, with Barry, as he laughingly told Lusmore, getting on splendidly. He played chess and draughts with ease, and wrote a great deal, having set to work at the end of five months upon a book dealing with his favorite science, and winning more and more upon Lusmore by the placid, almost sweetly patient dis position he displayed under his heavy trials. One evening Lusmore sat in his friend's chambers, very quiet and thoughtful. S" Have you the big brief consideration,. Fred ?" said Barry, smiling. "Why don't you talk ?" " Thinking, lad, thinking,' he replied "What about? Secrets?' . "No; -about you. I was wondering whether it would be cruel to talk to you about Cornwall." There was a minute's silence, and then Barry spoke, and his voice was little changed, but he strengthened as he went on. " Not now, Fred. Time back I could not have borne it, but my nerves have°got to the right tone once again, and I think I am manly enough to accept my fate." "My dear old Dick," cried Lusmore, and. he spoke now in a choking voice, " would to. God I had your nature II should be a better man." " Why,. Fed, old fello~w, Fred !'" cried Barry, taking his friend's hand in; a cordial grip.; "'there are thousands .of poor fellows who have. been worse off than I. Come, now, tell me about the Cornwall people ,how is the western belle ?' -.:-"Ah:i don't ask me, my dear boy," said' Lusmore. "If you touch that string I shall go on talking about my darling by the hour. Why don't you ask me something else?" There was a silence now for some minutes, during which Lusmore watched his friend's face, and regretted that he had spoken. "I will ask you something else," said Barry at last'; something I have longed to ask, but have never dared; and, Fred, old fellow, I thank you for your delicacy all through the fast. I felt and appreciated it. all the time. Tell me this-" Again there was a pause; but atlast Barry said in a low tonile- . .' hope that Mr. Basman is inot going to marry. Miss Sanctuary-for her sake.":. "Ditells:mi that she believes the major's ready to consent,: but, hopes :that. it may:be put off. Perhaps it may. By the way, old fellow, I'm going down-last train on Friday. Come with me ?" ;:Barry started, and his lips quivered as he gazed full at his friends; fully but blankly, and said ii a low husky voice "No, Fred: I could not bear it.". There wias another pause. "Don't think me pertinancious," said Lus more at last :"I have a particular reason for going. :I must go, and I should dearly like: to have your" companionship; and Dinah,- wh0.would like to see you very, very much, begged me to press you.to come." j'IBut you are not going 'to the Sanctu arys' ?" ?"No'; to our old lodgings, Dick, master all the past:and come.' " Would it int be painful to the major ?" ' The poor old fellow is a wreck of what he was, but I know he' 'would gladly see We. WIll, I will conie with you, Fred, said Barry at last' i ' You will, old fellow ? That's .brave ! And I'll tell you something as we go down that will pleasic you for my sake, I know." A'ffairs were not; happy downi'in Cornwall. The land was so fair, the sun so bright, the sky so blue, that. it' seemed ten thousand pities 'that troubles' should be made by man to mar what might have been a happy peace ful life. Some'suich thoughts as these often. passed through Major Sanctuary's mind, as he took his letters. morning after niorning into his study to read, and those he left knew why--thatithey minight not see the trouble that his correspondence caUsed. There was no estrangement, but a tinge of 'coolness be tween the brothers, who now treated each other with a gentlemanly courtesy before their children. At other times .they seemed to avoid each, the major :going out in fine weather with his camera, but in a half-hearted way ; the captain busying himself with his gardening operations, but the old interest seemed gone.': One day Dinah exclaimed pettishly to her cousin--. . " ":May, I'm so miserable I don't know how to bear it. It'd dreadful to be like this; and papa is right it .is all tlh~at: Mr. Basman's" fault;. I wish he had: iieverr' seen: him, and photography never been. found out. But I sayMay, Frcd is coming down: soon; he' don't say when, and ie is going to bring poor Mr! Barry." She said no more, for she was startled by her cbusin's apallor; and that morning she vent'oiit alonie:'. l ? : The miajor had: taken his..camera and,. reg~ardless of troublesonme boys,' was taking a; few photographs; Captain Sanctuary was busy making some alterations in his green house, and May was seated alone, when there was a step in the: littlepassage and, unannounced; Eric Basman entered the A h, Maf i" he exolaimed, "alone ? This is most opportune, for I. have come down for two.reasons." He waited for ier to speak bti she made' " One resonas :to see:.the major about his company; the other--can you not guess the other ?" :. She?:as silent for ·a few inoments, and th ii'said calnly, though it was evident that she was aitated annd alarnied' "It ivould bb affectation if I professed that I'did? not understand, Mr;- Basman: Why do youp;'it'ie tbo the paiin of ph'eaking ?" . Pain of speaking?'! he said, in a low, . angry whisper, asif forced to speak beneath his bireath for fear of breaking into a passion. - May, it is too bad ! It is cruel'! Month after month I have humbly begged of you to listei more warmly to my-suit.' "I have tried niot to give you pain, Mr. Basman, 'she said, glancing at the door, and he saw the direction of her eyes. i "There is noone athome,." he said roughly, and I , v'will be 'trifled with:no 'longer. I have been piatieht'; I 'have waited; I have studied you in the: tenderest way; but time Sgoes on and I am. treated as if I were some asilly ilover, and you were: a coquette, May,
am I to tell you again that it is your father's wish that you should be my wife?" " Mr. Basman, I have told you each time you have so addressed.me that I can never be your wife. 'Why do-you give me the pain of refusing you again and again ?", "Because I know that .I shall win," he said angrily. sa w ' It cannot be me," she said, with spirilt. ''"Mr. Basman, I will' not listen to you again." "You will," he said, with a look'in his eyes that frightened lier, and she took a step towards the door; but he stopped her and caught her hands. ": I: ha've' your father's full consent to speak to you as I do, May, and-there, I will'not be angry. Comie,.do: not be so obstinate." He tried to put his arm round her to draw her to his side, but with a look of anger she escaped his hold and stood at b'iy. "I Tow dare you ?" . "HBw darie I?" he cried,-: !"because it is time to put an end to this foolery.??. If I am not to woo you''gently, I must rise other means-that you force me to use nmind. What do you say when'I tell you that your farther is absolutely ruined, and linless you make me hiffriend hetwill-passfthroughl such a fire of trouble as will pretty iell breaklthe old man's heart?''' "It is not manly," she cried, to speak to' me like this" " "'All things are fair in love and 'war,' .May, and I swear' that what L tell 'you is true, and that unless you consent to become my wife, I will use every means in my power to -Curse it ! Who is this ?" He walked to the window, for there were steps outside, and, seizing her opportunity, .May, ran: to 'the door: He started back' to reach her, but she flung it open, ran out, and .caught?at the hands of Lusmore:. ". Why, May, what has happend ? Has this fellow dared- " "fDared ?" cried Basman,'' "you. insolent blackguaid !"' 'Lusmore would have caught him by the -throat, but May clung to him; and, startled by the noise, Captain Sanctuary hurried in, followed by his brother, who turned pale as .he saw 'Basman there. " I came in this moment,". cried Lusmore, " just in time to save Miss Sanctuary from this scoundrel's insults." "Look here, major,", said Basman' inso lenitly, "I've had enough of- this. You've allowed this fellowito hang abdut here after Dinah." "Miss Dinah Sanctuary,if you please," said the captain. if youpease" "I am speaking to,your 'brother, sir," re
He rose, and with outstretched hands began to hurry away" (See tale).
torted Basman. " You hold your tongue, or else go out to your gardening." The captain turned crimson, but on glanco ing at his brother he saw that he was pale, his face drawn, and he gave so pitiful a look at the captaln that the latter mastered his rage, and after exchanging glances. with :the young barrister, remained silent. "I've borne all. this long :enough," con tinued Basman, " and I'll bear. it no longer. That fellow shall not enter the house while I'm here. Major, send him away.' " Mr. Lusmore-I beg your'pardon," said the major-" Iam sorry-but Mr. Basman I-I really-" " Oh; papa !" 'whispered May, '"'has it come to this ?" ' "I am very sorry, my dear," he said, 'but I "One moment, major," said Luismore quietly. "Captain Sanctuary,I Believe you. are co tenant of this 'house ?" : "Yes, I believe so, and I'll be silent no longer. Brother Tom, I'lFnbt stand by and see you and my guest insulted like this." " For heaven's sake !-You don't know," faltered the major. "No, he don't know, and there's no need to tell him, cried Basman insolently. "You had. better hold iour tongue' captain. Now, sir,: will you leave tliis house' ?" . "No, Mr. Eric Basman," said Lusmore coolly;" and though as a professional gen tleman I should regret to lay hands upon you, if, after what I am going to say, you do not.immediately go yourself, I swear that 1'll turn you out.": '" Mr. Lusmore--for my.. sake-for my child's sake-be silent," cried the major. "For your, sake and for" the sake of the. lady whoni I look upon as a sister, I shall not be. silent till I have first exposed and then got rid of.that swindler-thief would be almost a just term, and-" ' Will you leave this house ?" roared Bas man, seizing.the poker.. ? My good fellow, put that poker down," said Lusmore. "It is a weapon that is use less against the strong arm of the law, and I have a little weapon, in my pocket book. that will make that seem as puny'as a straw. Major Sanctuary, 'I believe you did not sign that? I am rightin saying you did not write your name there ?" " There? 'No; that is not my hand." " No, Ithought not. I was .pretty sure. Now, Master Basman-forger, " what have you to say'?" For answer Basmhan made a bound forward to seize the slip of paper Lismore held out towards him in his 'left hand, but the young barrister was on his guard,' and crushing it up, he caught the fellow'so fierce a blow
right in the cheek that he fell heavliy upon the: carpet; whereLusmore' kept' him down. by placing his foot upon his' chest while he smoothed the paper. " Now, major," he said," what is it to be ? Shall I send for the policeman; and wvill' you prosecute, or shall we let himi go. " " Oh ! for' heaven's +sake, no ':scandal !" cried-the major. " I thought "you, would say that,,' said .Lusmore; ". but we have him on the hip, if you like, and it means two years' imprison ment, if not more :Major--captain, as a barrister, may I give you advice upon a case' that:. I have been studying the past :six month?" "Yes; speak out,"t said the: captain for the-liajor was standing with, one 'hand over his eyes, the other being clasped.by May. " :;'Iwill," said Lusmore. ' The fact is, our dear old friend here ias beenfleeced; and stands to lose about sixteen hundred pounds' tirough:thee machinations of this scoundrel, who intended to have Miss Sanctuary's fortune as well '. You can recover nothing,' so:my: advice is-pleasant as it would be to. punish--let the rascal go," .' Yes ; let him go,'. cried Captain San~i ;tuary '2" -Brother-Tom, you will not oppo~s I have enough foi both." :The major was silent.; He seemed stunned, ,and remained without' speaking, as Lusmore removed his foot and `pointed to the door, through which Basma~ hurriedly escaped. CHAPTER VIII. It was about a week later that Richrrd Barry was seated in one of the many sandy nzooks between the-rocks,' bareheaded, and with a sad smile upon his lip. It was 'even ing, and he had beeni listening for, the last hour to a sweetly attuned 'voice: as May Sanctnary read to him, as she had been in the habit of reading to him duriiing-the past day or two. Half a mile, away along the shore, Fred Lusmore :was walking with one leaning heavily upon the protecting arm that supported her, and from' time to time they stopped, gazing out to sea, with the.setting sun seeming to blend two shadows into, one. It was very'still in that far-off corner of old England, and as May looked up at' the strong well-built man beside her, her heart throbbed painfully as she sat there ,thinking of his loneliness, his weakness even in his strength, for the guidingpower was gone, and through' life he must be as helpless as a child.; She could note: restrain.; it; the act was, almost involuntary :as she stole her hand., into one of his, and in a moment, where all was calm i and restful before, , there was - a wonderous look of joyr, and'he held the hand to his breast.
But for a moment; and then with a cry of anguish as he threw it from him- "No, no, no ! 'May, for heaven's sake, go? 7I was mad-cruel to you.. God help me ! Why did I let him bring me here ?"' .Then, groaning with anguish and despair, his eyes staring wildly, he rose,; and with outstretched hands began to hurry away, but only to stumble over a piece of:rock and fall heavily upon the sand. :-.He was gathering' himself up.to flee again, for he told himself it 'wuld be a sin, a crime against one so young and fair; when he felt his hands taken,' and a' low gentle voice that seemed to thrill him:through and through whispered- ' : •" Richard, may I not lead you now and always through our lives ? IKnowving: what I know, is it.inmaidenly to say that if you will take me for your wife, 'I will be your true and loving helpmate to the eind ?" ; It was as if light had flashed through the blackest darkness, and in the sunshine of his' great joy Richard Barry knew that his blind:. ness was of the past; that henceforth there: 'would be loving eyes toi se, ia gentle hand :to guide; and he stood there 'in the sole'mn silence of that eve clasping the hands that nestled in his, his heart too full for words. Two years later he wrote from Cornwall to his friend id town-? "Better and :better; 'there is a certain dimness still, but in a few minonths my blind ness will 'be all over.': I can tell" our little May of my Dark Days when she is a woman grown."