|Newspaper Title||Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 - 1954)|
|Trove Title||Dora Dunbar: An Australian Story|
.1 CHAPTER XX,
" Dot"-**oomlng from DIok, the diminutive, endeared to pe by. so many reoolleotiona of happy days spont with the kind friends who bestowed . ^, pounds oddiy in my eatsr-" do you remember a threat you made about threo years ago, never to speak to me again
" You'apoke to ma of love or marriage," I interrupt ooolly, though with a hot faoo,
Yes," I Interrupt.
It 1B Sunday morning and we are sitting, solo .possessors of the parlor for the present, beforo the Are.
"Well," goes on DIok, dolorously, "I made you a promise of obedienoe, if you re. member,,and 1 make it a point to keep my promise always, so what are we to do ?"
" I don't know," I rejoin, sanolly," unless we reverse tho uou&l order of things, and I do the love-making and press you to name tho day, and so on."
" That 's it-happy thought I and I'll fanoy I'm you, oh ? Now begin, Dot,-I'm ready," donning a provoking, bat well-asumed air of baahfulneaa, that angers me despite its ir resistible comicality,
" Don't insinuate that I ever looked like that," I say. sharply, "I'd die an old maid
He only laughB,
V Hot you," ho says, "by.th0.by, that re. minds me-do you remember declaring you'd die an old maid, rather than go through life
as Mrs. DIok Cotton ?" " .
" Wl\o told you," I ory, ooloring again, ",A little bird."
.» Surely Ag wasn't so mean I"
Nevermind. What reoonoiled yoa to the
" Perhaps ray being unable to get the one name I wanted," I say, wiokedly, "failing
that all were alike."
"Dora," suddenly stern, "do yoa mean that handsome scapegrace, Norton Fowler ? He made love to you, I know,-'
" Ho went further-ho asked me to marry him ?" I tell him, determined to have no
" And you ?" eyeing me keenly. » Said' yes.'"
Did you, really ?"he asks,pale and hoarse with suppressed feeling. Is it anger, jealousy
" I did," very low,
"You loved him?" grinding the pronoun between his teeth.
" I mistook a girlish fanoy for love,"
"Aud what opened your eyes?" he demands bitterly, .
" His jilting mo for the wealthy widow," J retort,
"Dora?" . "Diok?"
" Villain 1" he mutters angrily. , "Do you mean me?','meekly. "
" Dont, dear; I'm too much in earnest to' enjoy a joke. .Tell mo, did you-do you eve* regret him?' >
" Were he to come to you rich and free to
" I Bhould spurn him. DIok, dear, I would sooner pass my life in a log hut with you, than in a pal&oe with Norton Fowler,"
, n "JBleas you, Dot, darling, I didn't know I was so jealous,"
"Wait till you find someone worth being jealous over."
" Better still, I must make sure of you. That promise of mine is doomed to be brokon, so here goes, Dot," drawing my head to his .shoulder, "when may I call you mine?"
"Ami not yours already?" evading a
" legally mine, I mean, When will you marry mo, Dot ?"
"Oh, someday, I Buppose," I reply care lessly,
" I want a definite anBwer,"
"Will Christmas twelvemonth do ?"
" Eighteen months hence ? no, thank you. Think of the three years I have waited already,"
" Suppore you name a day, then,"
" I'll soon settlo it, then, To-morrow's out of the question, I supposo, so say to. morrow three wecka at the latest, that'll give you titna to get the fal-lals, women-"
" To-morrow three months, with another threo months added on," I put in, contemptu ously.
" Dot, do you moan me to die of old ago before we're married a month? Perhaps you count on ooming in for the old fogey's funds, and marrying & young good-looking Boarnp, as Mrs. Peyeon did, but I'll dis appoint you, 1'U leave everything to found a homo for old maids, if you marry again. I'm not bo soft as Mr. P. was,"
" Don't ha Billy; as for being an ' old fogey' you are fishing for oompllments."
" Ioollapae out of good nature, I might as well letyou say and do bb you please a .little while longer, seeing you must soon bow to my will in everything,"
"Not I, I'm not going to beoome a nonenity, a mere echo. I shall exeroise my power of choice when I please,"
" After solemnly promising to love, honor, and obey?"
"? Nobey is tbe latest yereiori," ]
" Obey or Nobey, which you like, bo yoa promise soon," *
" Oh, New; Year's day. then," and to that I adhere, deaf to coaxing, arguments and
" How many of you aro going to the fanoy. dress ball?" asks DIok at breakfast next morning, , .
" None of us, I think. Nanoe is not going and Dot has no wish to go, so I don't think I'll put in an appearance," answers Mrs. Aroroft, "Willyou?"'
"Must-it'a aBaohelor's ball, you know, unloss Dot will consent to marry me before
it comes ofl."
" Of two evils-you know the rest, Mr, Cotton," says Nance, "bettor an evening's boredom than a life-long infliotion of Pot's oompany,"
"Don't, Misa Stair," implores Diok, ".Where ignoranoo is bliss 'tis folly to be wise.' But don't you think the least she might do, as she won't resoue me from It, is
relieve the tedium of tho ailair with her prosenoo ?"
" Certainly I do," promptly agrees Nanoe, " and so sho shall. I know Martha is long ing to go, if it's only to see the dresses, and so is Dot, I believe, so go they must. Now, what character are they to take is the query?"
Mrs. Aroroft and I feebly negative her deoision, but she silences us imperatively, and returns to the dresses.
"Evening-dreaa will do me," says her sister,
V No," deolares Nanoe, " you shall go as "Night,1 Tali, dark, dignified, you'll make a famous1 Night.' Now, what for Dot ?"
" Spring," suggests her sister,
" Too hackneyed,asserts Nance. "Flower-girl?" inquires Dick,
" Pretty, but worn threadbare," then, after a moment's pause, "I have it," surveying me critioally, 'Water Nymph,' is the very thing,"
" What is the dresB ?" asks Diok,
" Wait till the ball night, and yoa shall dee, And mind, if I turn her out so captivat ing that you loao her, remember you sug gested hor attendance."
"I'll promise not to upbraid you unduly,',' he laughs, as wo rise from the table, little dreaming of the mischief that hateful ball was to entail.
It is three weeks or more off yet, neverthe* less, we do not find the timo too long to pro* pare for it, for Nanoe spares no pains, deter* mined we shall do her credit,
The eventful evening comes at last, and the hall-tbo same in whioh Mrs. Mehaffy's ball was held-ia brilliant with lights and flowers ; and gay dresBea when wo enter it. Diok
claims ma at onea, and on his arm I fall in with the Btrangely assorted oouples pro menading, preparatory to forming sets for Lancers. In front of us is " J'olly," arm-in arm with Shylook, further on a pretty nun paired off with a clown, and Mary Queen of Scots, with 'Dandy Jim of Caroline,' whose sable complexion perspiration is making havoo of already. America's stars and stripes on one young lady, have for a partner a son of the Emerald Isle, whose inevitable shillalagh flourishes perpetually in threaten ing proximity to adjacent heads. EHen, The Lady of the Lake, leans lovingly on the arm of an awful-looking Moor, while Lalla Rookh flirts desperately with Bret Hartb's " Heathen Ohinee," Tho Ice Queen glitters resplendently beside a Polar Bear, in the rear of Old Mother Hubbard and Prinoe Charlie, who are preceded by Una and a Footballer.
A Bandit and Dolly Vardon fall in pre* Bently, opposite Cleopatra and a Frenoh Count and " Goody-two-shoes" with an anoient Jew confronts Marmion and Nancy
Few, if any, ean compare, though, with "Night," in hor soft, dark cloudy, draperies, studded with pale glittering stars, and clasped with silver oreacents. Bands of silver stars encircle the slender wrists and queenly throat, and a erescont gleams among the dusky masses'of hair above her white brow.
She, with Watty Langdon (as a Swiss peasant) in attendance, is my vis-a-vis, and her dress makes an excellent foil for my gleaming skirts of frosted tulle, with their trailing grasses and dainty shells, whioh Diok says took " immense."
Ho figures as" Jack Tar," and a splendid specimen ho makes, in my opinion, though, to my disgust, Mrs. Aroroft thinks that Hal Atkinson, a dapper little solioitor, taking the eama character, puts Dick in the shade.
'. I regard liim with antipathy on the spot, but oh I how muoh greater cause for doing so I am to have ere long, I little imagine,
Ho waltzes " divinely," to speak a la Ara bella Gnshington, and I am engaged to him for two dances-the waits cotillions and a circular waltz, The former passes off serenely, Ibut the latter is scaroely over, when Diok takes possession of me, and, without waiting to get beyond earshot, peremptorily com*
"Dora; I forbid you to danoe with that man again."
In consternation, I glance baok to Bee if x" that man " has hoard him, but to my relief, he is half way down the room already en route for the Bupper-room.
Turning my attention to-Dick:
" Why," I ask ooolly, though feeling rather defiant, even at this early stago.
" Because he is a scoundrel-a villain I he is not worthy to be coutftad as tho mereit ac quaintance by any true woman. Don't danoe with him again," he concludes, in a low reso lute voice, that lends weight to his dictatorial words,
Receiving no reply he goes on:
"Like father, liko son," meditatively, "he oomes of a bad lot, and ho doos them oredit. It's only his money that gains him admission to. sooiety-more shamo to society to let it I He's unworthy to touch your hand,Dora; and to see his arm round you drives me wild. Say 'no' to him nest time, dear,-promise me that you will."
"Am I to make a minute investigation into the antecedents and morals of every
Eartner that offers before I say . yes' to
irn ?" I ask, sarcastically, .
Diok grinds a torso but ugly expression between his teeth, ere he answers, white and
"It might be as well," Bavagely, "however, I insist only that you danoe no more with Atkinson."
" Insist I" I echo, Incredulously, " are yoa not presuming a little on your possible rights ?"
"What do you mean?"
" Only that I have not vowed obedience yet, ana I am not in the habit of being dio
" Under existing circumstances, ray 'dicta tion to you,' as you term it, is adinissable, 1
" I oan't see it I" I say hotly, fanning my. self furiously nil the time.
" Dora, do you mean it?"
"I do," lying unhesitatingly, for I agree with his sentiments, but resent his tone and
"And you will danoo with Atkinson again ?"
" Certainly--if he should ask me ?" I reply, boldly, as far as wordB go, but quaking in wardly,
" Against my express wish ?" ho asks, hoarsely.
I fidget impatiently for a moment, then, taking the initiative, I Bay in low, unsteady
" If this is a foretaste of our future rela tions-' Forewarned is forearmed.' Our en gagement 1s a mistake, I fear, and had better
end at onoo."
Dead Bilence-during whioh I remove my glove, and, drawing off the pretty pearl and diamond ring ho had given me, pass it to
" Thank you,"'-his oold, oalm acceptance of it chills me. 1 had hoped to eee him orush it beneath bis heel, a la tho novel-hero, but he merely transfers it to his pocket-book, and offers me his escort back to Mrs. Ar eroft, whioh I deoline, preferring tho solitude of my present flowery nook for a time.
"Ho never loved me," I say to myself, watohing him wend his way to the sido of a pretty and vivacious brunette, whose sallies he Booms to enjoy, " he never loved me or he'd not lose me so lightly."
Determined not to wear my heart on my Bleeve, I float off on tho arm of my next partner, and, for tho rest of the ball, devote my words and smiles to Watty Langdon, a proceeding that, I have the satisfaction of seeing, provokoa Dick's frowns, though, did he but know it, our whole discourse is of Nanoe, with whom Watty is deeply iu love, and whom he fondly hopes at some distant date to win. Flattered at being made his confidant, I encourage hie hopes, feeling sure that he is worthy of hor, and disliking the thought of her wearing the willow for poor Gilbert all her days,
Mrs. Areroft soon perceives the breaoh be twean ns, and asks for an explanation, but I put her off till the ball is over, and then give her full particulars.
" 0 Dora, how could you be so foolish ?" she ories a la Job's comforter.
" Don't Boold ma," I implore, " I deserve it, I know, but I'm punished enough, by my
oonsolenoe . smitten reoollection of all I lose." And to Nanoe'a little leoture, I<turn a deaf ear, and sob myself to sleep.