|Newspaper Title||Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 - 1954)|
|Trove Title||Dora Dunbar: An Australian Story|
" Dot, hero In one of Ag'a newnpapem loi
yon," calls Nanao, the day after the ball, the mere mention o! which I bate, ?
She tosses it in through the open window of my room, on tho bod where I am lying, half»waking, half-aleoping, and wholly miser,
"Baad It, and tUen oome to me In the parlor," she goes on, Hmiling In through tho passion-flowers. " I'm oft now to change my habit, and then I want a good long talk wKb you, ta-ta,"
I obey her first order at onoe, and, for the first time in my life, wish Ag had not written.
Not that her letter ia shorter, less affeotion* ate, or unselfishly interested in my doings than usual. On the contrary, she has added a postscript that makes a lengthly supple ment to her " newspapers," It is written in even a warmer Btrain than she generally in dulges in, and three parts ol it are taken up with my own affairs, meaning thereby my marriage at Nesv Year, and, preparatory to that, my resignation ol my position at Cam borough.
She wishes me to resign at once, or at an early date at least, as Lax and Bhe are to be married on the first of Novomber. lie has givon up his New Zealand post, and is again assistant-master of the grammar school, with every prospect of shortly becoming its head, on the retirement of Mr. Matthews, now only
a matter of months.
Tho marrirge is to be a very quiet one, Ag tells ma, and immediately after it they statt on a short tour-just a fortnights holiday Ijax oan get-after whioh they start hoaae« keeping in the old white house in J?ier
I would not consent," writes Ag, " to fix a day for our wedding for some woeks, being loth to leave papa to tho tender mercies of Susan, for, of oourae, after New Year, the west will be your home. Lax discovered the oause of my reluotanoe to do so, and Bug. geated our shaving the old|horae with papa, instead x>f taking a house to ourselves, as we were going to do. We broached the matter to him, and to my delight he approved of it seemed glad, indeed, and, no wonder, for ha would he miserably lonely in the big, ramb« ling place alono, especially now Vio is away at college. Well, to make a long story short, the carpenters, painters, efco,, are in pos session of the old place as I write, and when you eee it again you will hardly know it.
Papa is paying all expenses-his weddhig present to me ho says-and stipulates only that tho ? den' is not to bo invaded, nor mamma's room altered, conditions to whioh we readily agree, of course.
Now, to oome to the point, dear. Will you do me a very groat favor-that is, resign at onoe, or at any rate, at an early date, and oome orer in good time for the 1st. By good time, I mean some weeks before hand, fori want jou all to myself for a little while ere Agnes Dunbar ccftses to exist. Your advioe on fifty little matters would bo welcome, too, and oh, I long for one of our old-time con fabs a dozen times a day, so oome. Then you oan housekeep for papa during our absenoe, and on our return you shall have tho fall benefit of my advice and assistance in the preparation of your trousseau for New Year's Day."
Muoh more in the same strain she writes, that only adds to the misory and perplexity, for resign my post and become dependent on the ohief, and a fixture in Ag'a home, I am determined not to, though I long to put miles between myself and Dick, now that all is at an end between us.
Stay hero and meet him as a mere ae« quaintanoe Z cannot, but go home to live I
" The best thing you oan do," I tell my self, .. is send Ag dotails of your donkeyism and its results at once, then write for leave of absenoe to attend her wedding, and, at the flame time, apply for another sohool, for leave Oamborough you must as soon as possible."
The very idea brings tears to my eyes, but Idasli them away with fierce impatience, and, drawing my chair to the writing table, sit down to write to Ag.
II Sensible girl," says Nanoe,, severely, from . the door, " straining your eyes to see by this
light. It's dark almost, so your letters must wait, moreover I want a talk," and with her arm round me, she leads me to a cosy oouoh, half hidden by the long ourtains of one of the parlor windows.
" Now, Dot, I'm your oonfessor," she begins, " and I want the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. To begin, are you anxious to make it up with
Mr. Cotton i"
»' It'd be only wasting anxiety," I say, gloomily.
" Gome, that's not an answer, but It will do. Why did you return his ring and break off the engagement?"
" To have tha small satisfaction of guying I broke it off."
" Why break it off at all ?"
uIf I hadn't, ha would have." <
"Do you really think so?" "1saw it in his eyea," " You only fancied so."
"No-it was«ohoose between uaV*
" And you ohose Hal Atkinson .that namby. pamby, rniaarable apology for a man, in pie.
" No," I interrupt, " I don't think ho can compare for a moment with Diok, and if ho had requested ma not to dance with him again, I'd have consented, but his ordering mo aa ho did, raised a demon of defiance, or something of the sort in me-fool that I ma I'J
" Write and explain it all to him," suggests
" No uae, he's well rid of me, X suppose he thinka," I reply, deapondingly.
"Nonaenael" aaya Nanoo briskly, "he'd be glad to make it ap again," but I am not
to be oonvinoed.
"What, do you mean to do then?" she
" Leave Gamborough and him behind me, aa aoon aa I can possibly do so," I reply, on the verge of tears, '
" I moan it, Nanoe. Muoh as I shall grieve over losing yoa all, it is the best thing for me to do. I oan't stay here and meet him with the oalm friendliness that is the only thing left for mo, bo I must go."
" I don't know yet. Ag tella me she is to be married on the first of November, and our old home is being renovated for them j they mean to share it with papa. She wants me to resign at onos, and take up my quarters with theih till New Year-knowing nothing of eourae, of how matters stand-'but my doing so, ia out of the question now. I shall try for leave of absence for her wedding, and, after that, torment the Department for an
" Whether we like it ov not ?" in an Injured
"Nance, don't. My heart Is breaking nearl; now, with the thought of parting from you all-*"
" I doubt it 1 You oan't care fov us, or Diok either, or you'd not talk so ooolly of going."
"Noi oaiel" I eoho, tearfully, "I shall never, never forget any of you who have been so kind, so good to me, and as for Diok-it is because I oare so muoh for him I go. Oh, Nanoe, dear, don't make my task harder," and burying my face In my hands I weep bitterly.
My unrestrainod grief, blinds me to Nance's swift, noiaeless departure from the room,and, it is only when two strong, large hands gently draw mine down from my tear-stained face, that 1 find she has gone, apd left Diok in hor plaoe,
With a smile hall-sad, balf*glad, wholly tender, lie looks Into my eyes, still kneoling boalde'rae with my hauda In his.
"Diok I" I ejaculate in surprise, then stop.
"Yea, dear," he says, pimply,"
"How long have you been how?'' I risV recovering myself. "
" Nearly an' hour," he araUfogly replies. " Wnere were yon ?"
"Behind the ourtaina,". nodding at thoae behind me. . . . .
nQhl" I ga9p, overwhelmed, but hot augry-jn ray heart, "then you heard ill we
"J did-thanka to my very good friend, Ninoa." , / ?, '
" She knew you were there?" . " She put me there ?" " Why I"
"That 1 might oonvinoomyself, that there was no occasion for me to look BO forlorn," then, resigning hia semi'SoriouB air, he Bays gravely: " Between ua, wo were nearly mak ing ahipwreok of our lives, Dora. We must take 'Bear andfoibaar' for our motto, I think, then if my domineering jealousy geta the upper hand again you-"
"No, no," I interrupt, "you were right, Diok, I waa all to blame-"
. I waa right to a certain extent," he breaka in, in his turn, " my sentiments wore oorrect-suoh men as Atkinson merit no re« cognition from pure-minded women-but my method of conveying them waa altogether wron?,"
I only shake my head in answer, and lie oorilnnofl, drawing me into hia arma:
You had better marry rae at onoa, don't yt-u think, to guard against another rup. tuve T\
"Think well, before you ask mo again?" I adviae him. " Have you the moraloourage to
marry ouch a Tartar ?"
«' I'm not asking you, and I don't mean to. I proposed, and waa aoeepted three weelta ago, and that's enough in the Baking line, but I wish I could persuade you to marry me the day Ag and Lex do the deed."
" Impossible ?" I ory; but finally I consent to alter the date from Now Year to the lab of December,
" Tlmt skirmish of oura^waa a bleaaing in disguise then after all," deolaroa Dick, aa I make the concession. " Now what of this, Dot?"
" My ring I Oh, give it to rae-"
" Let me put it on, and don't be in suoh &
hurry to get rid of it again. There-it's aa ' good aa ever."
I proas it fondly to my lips in my delight at regaining it, and Diok laugha aloud.
" That'a ' wasting aweetneaa on the deaort air,' Dot, bestow your kiaaes where they'll bo
Finally we arrange that I am to resign my position at the end of September-ho will no hear of my leaving Oamborough aooner then return to S- to spend Oatober with Ag and make preparations for the " fatal flret,"
aa ho calls it.
Mra. Areroft, however, upsets our plana at once on hearing them, insisting on my resign*' ing in Auguat and speuding September with her, free to follow the bent of my own aweet will'orhera,
"And we'll make merry air the month, Dot. You shan't soon forget the last Septem ber of your single life," she concludes.
Accordingly, I am duly relieved of my sohool duties, and with many genuine regretB I aay " good-bye" to them, and to my boys and girla, in many of whom I have learned to take an affectionate interest.
September passea swiftly between pionios, parties, and paying visits to the many friends I have made among the warm-hearted western folks.
Meanwhile, Diok haa an army of work* men in full awing about the pretty residence adjoining the bank, superintending them in every spare moment.
My last evening he spends with ua at SunnyBide, looking ludioroiialy lugubrious una moment, and brightening up the next, on remembering that " in two montha I'll have you all to myself for good."
The drag is at the door betimes the follow ing morning, and, with Mr. Areroft, hia batter half, her eiater, and a oouple of portman teaux, I bundle in, and we are off en route for Hamilton, having firat started Dick baok to hia duties in 0-,
The day ia perfect, and the oloudloaa sky, bright sunlight, soft breeze, and, moat of all, my own glad, grateful heart, oontraat vividly with the aooompanimenta ot my Bad drive along the same roada two winters before, and fill mo with tender longingq and re grets*