|Chapter Title||THE DORSET FAMILY|
|Newspaper Title||The North Queensland Register (Townsville, Qld. : 1892 - 1905)|
|Trove Title||The Mystery of Sea-Towers|
THE DORSET FAMILY
"Credulous people may be found any where, ready to believe anything," re plied Septimus, evasively.
"But Septimus do you believe it?" broke in Ills sister Betty, who occupied the end of the breakfast table, and re lieved Lady Dorset of pouring out the
coffee and tea.
"Of course not. Do you think that I would have allowed Miss BaHantyne to have gone into possession, practic ally alon«i 'if I had believed that she was likely to receive any shock to her nerves, by so doing ?"
"It was not altogether a wise thing," said Lady Dorset, reflectively. "There should have been someone with Miss Ballantyne, to remain in the house with Jier and her servants for the first night or two, till they became more used to the place,"
"Septimus should "have gone himself mother, should he not ?" said Alice, Lady Dorset's eldest daughter, rogu ishly, "It would have been a splendid opportunity to have made a good im pression."
It should be explained that Alice was married, and was only on a visit to Dorset Park, and much as she ad mired her clever brother, and praised him to her husband, who was a hard working squatter in the Wimmera dis trict, she aided andjabetted her jocular sister in any endeavour to get some fun out of the more sedate members of the family.
"Ah," remarked Betty, "I am fearful that you have missed the tide, Septi mus, which taken at the flood leads on to-matrimony."
"I wish, sister Betty, that yon would refrain from making such references," said Septimus severely, "it really is not becoming in a lady. It might be ex cusable in one younger, but you are old enough to know better."
Betty, alas, was fourteen mqnths old er than her brother and she winded a bit, as Septimus intended she should do, at this reference <to her age; but she was not so lightly to be set down.
"l'ou have evidently tafcfcu the dis ease very badly," retorted Betty, "I never dreamt that a lawyer could fall so suddenly, in love." -
"Do leave your brother alone, Betty,v Interposed Lady Dorset, who always sided with her youngest son.
"Now, mother, you don-t think that Septimus minds a bit of banter about the fair Beatrice," said Donald, "if I could get hold of the girl with as
pjw? t&wewfti * ffur lup?
posed to have I'd let Betty plague me as much as she pleased. I have a. good mind to drive out to pay Miss Ballantyne a call this afternoon, the flood tide might set in my direction; what do yoiu say, mother ?"
"I should do nothing of the sort," in terrupted Septimus with some warmth, "it would be altogether premature. I -will drive mother out myself to morrow. Give the girl a chance of get ting her boxes Unpacked, and .her household arrangements made before you call."
"if I were Beatrice Ballantyne," said Betty, "I'd never marry. If a wo man has an income and a home, of what earthly use can a ^husband be to
"That's just what puzzles me," drawled out Donald, "and yet, some how, at the wind up there's generally a man about somewhere, and if there isn't, <the woman is always looking for him behind a -door or underneath
"Say something new, Donald dear," retorted Betty.
"The newest things are not always true, but an old saying is, for it is its truth which perpetuates it," replied
"Nonsense," said Alice, "Some of the hoariest old lies the world ever list ened to originated with and were per petuated by the Devil."
"Ah! the poor old chap has «l lot to answer for, has he not Septimus,"
"I never met the gentleman," said Septimus, smiling.
'*You mean that you did not re cognise him," said/ Betty, "yoi^ must, as a lawyer, have met with him of ten enough ; they say that he has lately become a clergyman."
"Very good that, Betty," laughed Donald, "you must mean the Rev. Christopher Broadface, of the parish of Sea Cliff, North Melbourne. He's a bachelor, too. You ought to have met him Septimus, I would not mind betting five pounds that he will be one of the earliest callers upon Miss Beatrice Ballantyne at the Towers."
^What wicked people^ you are be coming,"- said Lady Dorset, shaking her head at Donald and Betty. *'X hear most, encouraging accounts of the good work air. Broadface is doing in his parish. I -wislr we had a clergyman like him in Hawthorne."
"You might get him married to: Betty, mother," said Alice. "That is one of the misfortunes of living in a welj-to-do parish, the clergymen are always married men, so the poor girls -have no chance."
"Save your pity," said Betty, "its bad enough to be married to a man, but to fi£ parried to a clergyman why, look at the families they have,* and how their wives have to work. There's poor little Mrs. Doolittle, think what work she must have with a husband, a pfurish, and. eleven child-: f-en. Every time she comes here to pay a. can I feel inclined to say," 'Don't trouble yourself,Mr$ Dodlittle, we will come to church quite, regular ly without imposing any. further bfiiden upon you." My goodness.! if I were married to a man like Canon Doolittle, or Christopher Broadface, I'd let them know that there were euch things as woman's rights and
-wojnan'«) farongs. Clesrgymen have
since the days of Paul they have tried to put them down and keep them down, both in the church and out of the church. She must be sil ent, and stay at home, and ask her husband, and reverence and obey him. She must give up her soul, and body, and liberty, and opinions, and individuality, and even her name, and what does she get for it ?"
"Love," answered Septimus, grave ly, interrupting his sister.
It was about the last thing anyone expected to hear from the lips of the lawyer, and it came as a shock, and resulted in a full minute's silence.
Betty looked as if she had a dozen answers upon the tip of her tongue. But Donald was the first to speak.
"You are about to ask, Betty, what the love is, which Septimus re fers to," he said. "I'll tell you. It's a sweet article which when exposed to the outside air at a certain temper
ature turns sour. It retains its or
iginal flavour longest when bottled up The first draught of it is to most peo ple nectar; but only to a few, does its sweetness continue to the end. Some women were not made for love and matrimony, andlipon my word Betty, I don't thfnk such a state was inten ded by an all wise Providence for you."
<fWhat nonsense," exclaimed Alice impatiently, "Betty is just the very woman that would make a good man a loving and exemplary wife. She'd make as good a wife as Septimus weul(i a husband."
At this Lady Borsfet gave a practi !rio"'focal ooh'deettl Dll a. rned,r i cal turn to the conversation by remar king-that It would give her the great est possible pleasure to see Septimus married to Miss Ballantyne, and Betty to Mr. Broadface.
"Dont, mother, please dooi't," ex postulated Betty; but Lady Dorset meant it, and said so again, and the breakfast room was directly after
ward emptied of its occupants, amid , general laugliter.
^Pancy wishing to see . me married to that horrid Mr. Broadface," said Betty indignantly. - N ;