|Chapter Title||NEPTUNE VILLA AND ITS OCCUPANTS.LOVE AFFAIRS.|
|Newspaper Title||The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954)|
|Trove Title||Ronald Walton: A Tale of Early Squatting Life in Moreton Bay|
NEPTUNE VILLA AND ITS OCCUPANTS.-LOVE j
In the neighbourhood of Brisbane were some beautiful suburban villas. One of these, Neptuno Villa, wes situated on a high bank, over- looking tho river, and surrounded by a garden
in which tropical plants and trees flourished, i From its vorandah, a prospect of surpassing
beauty strotchod for miles along tho swiftly- i flowing waters on either hand, for it was built at au elbow, or horse-shoo bend. There were
pretty farms and private residences dotting the I scene on either side of the water, amidst crops ¡ and pastures greon, on which might bo seen ¡ sheep and cattle grazing peacefully in the
glorious sunshine ; or camping under the shady j
gum trees, in tho contentment of repletion,
chewing their cud. In the distance rose the ! sharp, clear outline of a high range of moan- j
tains, abovo which was the intense azure of the heavens, seen in its perfection in those latitudes.
In tho villa abovo described lived a very
pretty, livoly girl of nineteen, the daughtor of a ! sea captain who was lost in tho South Passage , of Moreton Bay, a fow years previously. Her mother had diod but a year before the captain, so that Mary Robinson was left to the caro of her maiden aunt, JFelina, a favourite sister of tho captain's, and who had kept house for him for many years, his wifo being an invalid. Mary was neither dark nor light. She had rich
brown hair and hazel eyes. Though pretty , and amiable, there was nothing in her face that indicated decision of character. Sho was a great friend of Ada Brandon's, and Ada's friends, as a rulo, wero her friends. Ronald Walton was no exception to tho rule ; on the contrary, Mary had many times exprossed' her
admiration of him to Ada.
" Ho is su gentlemanly and handsome; aud ' his figuro is s-; manly, Ada. If I over do marry
it will bo a man like him."
' ' You may marry a man quito different, Mary. ' Mamma says that people' often do marry the ' very opposito to their beau ideal, and live very ' happily too." '
" Well Ada, I would rather havo the man of i my dioico ; but must confess I should not liko
to bo an old maid." ' '
" I would rather die than marry a man I did ' not lovo with my wholo heart and soul !" es- ; claimed the warm-hearted Ada. " As for being < an old maid, I do not soo anything so vory '
dreadful in it." '
" Oh, that is becauso you never lived with < one. You know I do, and I can assure you I
should prefer not to be liko her. Thon I know . you are sentimental, and that nothing short of a ' man whom you could worship, and who would bo constantly at your feet, would suit you. You want perfection, and I hope you will get it ; but if I could not get tho man of my choice, I do
not think I should break my heart about it." '
' ' You dreadful creature," oxclaimod Ada. ! This conversation took place long before ' Ronald asked Ada to be his wife. Mary ' Robinson's affections, as may be gathered ' from tho above, wero not much to be ! dopended on ; aud she seemed to be aware J of the fact. Nevertheless, she had, at that ! time, a very strong affection for Ronald. Sho was a light-hearted, merry girl ; open and above
board in all she said or did. Sho did not mind ' showing her likes and dislikes openly, liko atrito ' sailor's daughtor. That quality, however, some-
times oven misled her friends, and her frank- 1 ness was not infrequently miseoiiBtruod and set '
down as forwardness. Sho was neither bold nor
forward, but Bimply had the courago of her ' opinions, and fearlessly expressed her prcdilec- ' tions and antipathies. .
It must not bo supposed that Ronald was
oblivious of tho fact that Mary had more than ' an ordinary liking for him, or that he scorned ' to appreciate or notice it. On the contrary, ho ' liked a little flirtation as well as most mon, ' but he never went too far, and had nothing to ! bl anio himself for when ho made his final ' choice. !
As soon os Mary Robinson heard the rumour ' of Ada's engagement, she went to her, and said, ( with a face full of expectancy and concern, '
" Oh, Ad» dear ! I have heard that you aro
engaged to Mr. Walton. Is it a fact ?" '
" Yes, Mary'," Ada roplicd quietly.
"Oh, you lucky girl!" sho cried, her eyes
suffused with tears. " I hoped, and sometimes ' thought, he-liked-nie," and she swullowed the ! lump that roso robelliously in her throat. " I ' never thought I liked him so much as I do, ' and upon my word, I am inclined to think with ' you, that it is impossible to marry a man I do
Ada did not know what to say, and her friend, who was thoroughly wound up, took ono of hor hands in hers and continued, " Do tell mo all about it, Ada. Do."
Ada did not liko to discover nil tho tonder particulars to her friend, and hesitated, but the impetuous girl was determined to draw as much as she could out of her by cross-questioning.
" Whon was it, doar?"
" On Thursday, the twentieth."
" Ah ! You recollect tho day, and the hour too, aud will to the end of time, no doubt. Did ho spoalt to your mamma first ? "
"Oh! tho dear ! I should havo loved him ton times moro for that. Did ho go on his
" Oh ! Mary !" exclaimed Ada, putting her hand to her friend's mouth, und turning
" Well, how is it I never hoard anything of it till yesterday ? I could not havo kept it so close. I would have told you, Ada."
" You did not hear of it probably becauso it was not settled till the day before yesterday, Mary. "
"Why, you said he proposed last Thursday week. Did yon not accept him at the timo ?"
" No. I took time to consider, and referred
him to mamma."
" Took timo to consider ! and roforred him to mamma !" Mary shouted ; and dropping Ada's hand, sho fairly sprang off the sofa in astonishment. " Were you mad ? I would not have taken time to consider. I would have accopted him right off without consulting any- body, and man-iod him the next day. Oh ! Ada !" Bhe said reproachfully.
Ada might have been angry at the impetuous girl's manner and remarks, only that she knew her downright manner so well. As it was, she felt a little amused, aud said,
" Wo may not be married for a long time, Mary. The timo is not fixed."
" Well, you aro a slow pair of love». That sort of thing would not suit me."
"'Marry in baste, and repent at leisure,"' replied Ada jestingly, but Mary took it in
" I always thought you were suoh a senti- mental, warm-heartod girl, Ada. And I may Bay that that atrocious old wiseacre saying is about tho last I should havo expected to hoar from your lips- at suah a time too. You cold, calculating girl ! If you have any idea of re- penting, you had better not marry at all."
" I was but josting, Mary, so do not be angry. I do not think I »hall repent. Sit down, Mary, and stay to tea,"
" No thank you, Ada. Aunt told me to be sure to bo home early. Oood bye, you luokiest of girls I I would rather havo had him myself, dear ; but, as that cannot be, I would sooner that you should have him than any one else I
Tho two girls embraced, and kissed with real affection, in spito of being rivals, and Ada sat down to contomplato her own happiness, and tho mixture of amuaiug and vexing peculiarities in her friend's character. Thus she mused,
"I do not think it will break her heart, but I am sure it would mine to lose him now," and she drew from her bosom a beautiful
locket, and fondly gazed on a very badly executed daguerreotype portrait ; but she seomed satisfied with it, for she kis3od it fondly over and over again, and was quite unconscious of her mother's footfall till she was nearly by her side. Tho old lady kissed hor daughter fondly, and whispered a blessing in her ear, though her heart was sad at tho prospect of the parting. Ada said,
" Mother, doar, it makes mo unhappy some- timos to seo that shade pass over your face since my engagement. Why is it, mamma?"
"In your happiness, darling, you cannot understand my feolings. God grant that you may be a mother somo day-a happy, happy mother, as I was when I boro you -ano that you never, never know my griofs. First, my noblo, generous son was taken from mo ; but he fell gloriously-as a
soldier _ should-on a heap of slain heroes, ¡ embracing his colours. Three minutes moro, j and he, as well as tho colours, would havo been ¡ saved. But it was not to be-it was not to be !" j she exclaimed, clasping her hands and casting j an agonisod look upwards. "Thy will be done- ! Then your fathor - the host of husbands ! That old wound shortened his precious life.
Oh ! war ! war I cruel war ! . Why is it ? Why I is it? The pain and anguish! Tho multitudes . of widowed hearts it makes, and tho destitution i and povorty it sproads amongst idolised chil-
" Mother ! dear mother !" sobbed Ada, em- | bracing hor parent. " Say no more. Oh, don't ! How wicked and ungrateful of mo to-to-.
But what could I have done else ?"
" My darling one, you must follow tho dic- tates of your nature ; and I would rather you should find a protector beforo I am called away. Oh ! that he may be as good as you deserve."
"He will be, mother. And we must not be separated. Ronald asked me if I thought you would mind going BO far into the bush, and I told him I would try and persuade you-that is, if ho was sure you could havo your little com-
forts thcro the samo as hero."
"Dear girl. Do you suppose that what is good enough for you would not bo so for mu too 1 But thora aro reasons why it would not bo prudont."'
''I know what you mean, mamma ; but you aro so good and amiable ; and Ronald is BO good-tempored, and thinks so much of you."
"1 havo seen more of the world-than you, darling, and know that such arrangements rarely succeed. No matter if tho man and his mother-in-law aro both angels."
"But, mamma, there are exceptions, you know, and why should we not form one of thom."
"'Tis ever so with tho young. Their sorrows are always postponed indefinitely. Their particular casos must bo exceptions to the general nile. They cannot realise tho possibility of any element stepping in to mar their happineis. It is a merciful provision of a wiso Creator, that ' the wind is tempered to to the shorn lamb,' so that tho cold blast of sus- picion engondored hy tho cruelties of the outer world may not cut through the protecting coat of buoyancy while the young aro too tender to bear it. What a sad world it would bo, if the young had to wear smiling faces to hide heavy, care-worn hearts, as so often do the more maturo ! It is a wise old saw too, that tells the aged not to ' meet trouble half way,' and it is too often disregarded."