Chapter 917573

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Chapter NumberVII
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article917573
Full Date1881-07-23
Page Number3
Corrections3
Word Count5777
IllustratedN
Last Corrected2018-06-02
Newspaper TitleThe Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 - 1933)
Trove TitleOld Stanley's Will
article text

Old Stanley's Will.

By J. B.

Chapter VII.

"If you are not the heiress born,

And I," said he, " the lawful heir, We two will wed to-morrow morn,

And you shall still be Lady Clare."

Tennyson " My bride,

My wife, my life. O we will walk this world, Yoked in all exercise of noble end.

Indeed I love thee : come, Lay thy sweet hands in mine and trust in me. "The Princess" - Tennyson

A couple of nights later on in the week Mrs. Handson was busily plying her needle, and Paul, feeling stronger and happier, was sitting in a little rocking-chair which Tobins had bought, carried, and presented that very day to his little friend. He was trying to read while his mother worked ; but mother and child found it difficult to do either by the flickering light of a solitary candle, although they sat closely to the make- shift table before mentioned. Her eyes were dim from constant application to her needle work, and Paul's from weakness. The little room was still clean and sweet ; a broken-nosed handleless jug stood in the centre of the table containing some flowers and foliage so arranged as to hide its deficiencies. The flooring boards were white ; the window was bright, and its muslin drapery, patched and darned, still spot- less. The whole was refinement in the heart of poverty.

" Mother, do put down your work for one moment ; I can't read ; let us talk. We don't want eyes for that."

"I really haven't time, dear; I must finish this little dress to-night-it will not take much longer. You talk to me ; I can do both-work

and talk."

" Yes, mother ; I do like to watch your little fingers. When did you learn sowing ?" Without giving her time to reply he went on boy-like : " I wonder how long we shall be poor like this ? How nice it must be to be rich ! If I were rich, mother, I could have everything I wanted,

couldn't I?"

" No, dear, not quite, perhaps."

Click-click-click went the needle.

" Why ?" he said, in some surprise. " I could have a fine house for you ; servants to wait on you ; you should ride in a fine big carriage, and have handsome dresses-everything that you ought to have-and I should be so happy."

" Are you now feeling happy, Paul ? You are getting better and stronger, and will soon be able to work again. Are you not feeling grateful too, my son ?"

" Yes, mother dear ; I think I am happy ; I am sure I am grateful ; but is it wrong to wish to see you happy ?"

" No, Paul ; you are too thoughtful for your mother ; but perhaps I am at the present moment as happy as many a princess who may be surrounded with all the grand things you are pining for, dear, for my sake. Riches do not mean happiness; the poor and the wealthy can be happy alike, if they try to be ; and God loves his children all the same if they seek Him and serve Him faithfully; yet He said, 'The needy should never cease from the earth.' Therefore, dear, it is His will that some should have to struggle for their bread, and some have more than they want ; that home of his children should be sickly, some strong ; some with talent, and some without. In whatever station of life you may be, my son, be content ; trust in God, and you will be happy too. 'Tis human nature, my Paul, to be ever aiming and crying for some- thing beyond its reach, so that the lives of few are perfectly happy- if it were so we should

never think of the life hereafter."

" Then, mother, are you quite content to be always working-never resting ?"

" If it is God's will, I must try to be ; but I am rich in you, my son ; dearer and more precious than the rarest jewel you are to me, darling."

Paul rose from his chair and kissed his mother, saying : " And I am all that to you, dear little mother- poor little weak Paul ? Then I am rich too in your love and tender care, and you are rich in heart and mind. I ought to be happy when I have such a mother, and will never be discontented again."

He fondled her affectionately, and she, forget- ful of her work, pressed him to her heart, saying :

" While God spares you to me in health and strength, and gives us our daily bread, our little home can never cease to be happy."

She took up her work again, while Paul sat on the ground at her feet and rested his curly head

against her knee.

"Can you sing and work too, mother?" he asked presently. " I wish you would sing that pretty song about ' home' to me."

"I will try." She cleared her throat, and began in a soft contralto tone to sing tho follow-

ing verses:

When honest hearts and willing hands

Are striving bread to win -

Hearts that throb and brains that think

For dearest kith and kin ;

Let home be to each one a beacon,

The one true haven of rest,

Where holy love shall care subdue

And calm the aching breast.

If the fare in the larder be coarse,

Make it tasty if you can still ;

Let home be the pride and the darling ;

There's ever a way with the will.

Let home breathe to each one of heaven,

And teach them the sacred worth Of the immortal spirit given

To exalt us over earth.

Bravely struggling, never flinching

From life's rugged path to roam ;

Love spreads his wings to shield from harm,

And points to treasured home.

' "Thank you, thank you, dear mother!" Paul exclaimed, clapping his hands ; " how pretty

that is !"

" We owe a great deal of our present happi- ness to your unknown friend, the doctor, Paul ; his medicine and the little luxuries he sent you have made you strong again."

" Oh but, mother, I forgot to tell you that Bob told me about him. He is awfully rich, and so good to all the poor round about. If they pay him he sends the money back with a note to tell them they have made a mistake ; and his name is Dr. Herbert Howard."

"Dr. Howard !" she said with a start. "I have heard of him, Paul; he is an immensely rich man, I know." Her voice trembled as she added : " It is very strange."

" What is strange, mother? '

" Nothing, dear ; don't ask me."

Paul looked at her wistfully and said:

"It's something I mustn't know, then. I don't like you to have a secret from me."

A knock at the door aroused them both. The

door stood ajar, as the evening was warm, and turning to see who knocked, Bob's eyes were seen peering round it into the room.

" Hollo, Bob ; come in," Paul cried out.

Bob entered, and stood there, hat in hand. " I haven't time to stop," he said ; " am just on an errand ; but I thought as you'd like to know : Dr. Howard is a coming down the street. Good, bye."

He was off again before they had time to recover their surprise at the prospect of another visit from their benefactor, or to thank Bob for bringing the news.

" Paul, I will go into tho back room," Mrs Handsonn said, turning pale.

"And not stay to thank him, mother!" he said reproachfully. " Do you know him already ?"

"No! no!" she cried, "But I shall never be able to speak to him. We have never seen each other to my knowledge ; still there are circum- stances which would render our meeting un- pleasant -to me at all events. Let me get used to his name first before I see him. Let me go away, dear, without questioning me."

But she had barely time to turn when the door was pushed open impetuously, and the doctor entered, looking agitated and eager. Impulsively advancing he caught her two hands in his, drew her close to the table, nearer and nearer to the light, looked closely into her face, which was flushed with excitement and annoy- ance too, and, pressing her hands in his almost to pain, he cried :

" At last ! at last ! Good God, and thus !"

She pulled her hands from him with some force, and, drawing her slight figure up, she reared her head and said, with all the dignity of

a queen :

"I do not understand you, sir!"

" You do not know me, then ?" he said.

" Yes ; you are Dr. Howard ; and if I did not know you better I should say you were mad, or

even something worse."

" Oh ! I had forgotten. Ger-, madam, Mrs. Handson, pardon me. You do not know - you

cannot feel as I do."

She turned to leave the room, when he asked

suddenly :

" Are you not Gertie-Gertie Stanley ?"

" Why do you ask me that question ?" she said as suddenly halting, her face blanching. "Unless you explain your ungentlemanly conduct I cannot answer your question-I shall not remain

here."

" Forgive me, dear lady," he cried ; " I am hasty-impulsive-mad too, if you like; mad

with success at last-at last!"

He folded his arms across his chest, and walked up and down the room excitedly.

Paul crept to his mother's side and whispered : " Mother, don't be angry with him ; think how good he has been to us ; speak kindly to him."

Dr. Howard heard the whisper -in that small room a whisper even could not be lost. He stood still, and smiling sweetly on the boy he

began :

" You know me for Dr. Howard, but not for what I am. Why, I am an interloper. You are Mrs. Handson-once the heiress of Godfrey Stanley, your maternal uncle ; and I am here now, after a long and fruitless search elsewhere, to tell you that you are still his heiress. I have sought you for years ; can you wonder now that I am almost intoxicated with success on finding you at Iast ? Your uncle's wealth is not mine, but yours, by all the natural ties of kindred-by

the law of heaven."

" I cannot follow you," she said slowly and with difficulty. " I am nothing to Godfrey Stanley."

She sat down and hid her face in her hand',

and Paul knelt beside her.

" Are you not that young lady," continued the doctor, " who, many years ago, met with an accident stepping from an omnibus, and who was carried to her home-to a Mrs. Holwood's who was your school mistress ? How is your memory now ?"

"Oh!" she answered, lifting her face where smiles and tears were struggliug for supremacy, and came towards him with outstretched hand ; "I remember you now-you saved my life perhaps that day, and I could- never thank you. You it

was who carried me-- who attended me so kindly! I remember now they said it was Dr. Howard. It is my turn to ask your pardon, dear friend. Forgive my rudeness ; forgive my hasty speech. You saved my life, and perhaps that of my child. Paul, darling, thank the doctor."

Paul could not find words, but he lifted their benefactor's haud to his lips and kissed it with

reverence. She continued:

" I never thought to- connect the Dr. Howard of that day with the Dr. Howard of this. When I heard this minute for the first time that the good unknown gentleman who had so generously brought back this dear boy to health and strength-that our benefactor was one and the same with the man who had stepped into my rightful inheritance-I could not help wishing to avoid an interview. I feel now that my uncle was right, and knew you for what you were. He knew his wealth would not be squandered. When you had gathered the riches that he had heaped up, the misery around you was lightened, the poor were made happy. God bless you !"

Again she buried her face and wept heartily.

He led her to a seat, and, sitting opposite, spoke to her almost too softly for Paul to catch the words; but Paul, with a tact and perception beyond his years, retired to a corner and tried to take no heed of what was going on. And as the doctor spoke he thought that time and trouble had not robbed her sweet noble face of a particle of its beauty. She was scarcely thirty years old, and even looked younger than that. She was perhaps more beautiful, for sorrow had chastened the features ; her bright pure soul shone in her countenance with a holy angel light. There was just enough of the woman in her to pin her wings to earth. He loved her still, but could not tell her so yet. He was saying : " I did not step into your inheritance ; in fact it was thrown at my head. I never sought it ; but I did your uncle a slight service once, and that was his way of showing his gratitude. I could not enjoy wealth not rightly my own. I only touched it in case of distress, and when the money might do good to those I loved. For the rest, I have kept it in trust. Some presentiment haunted me that I should find you at last to make you mistress of your own."

She opened her mouth to speak, when he interrupted her:

"Don't speak yet ; let me tell you one thing more. I never forgot, the face of the young girl I had the happiness of serving that day so long ago. Imagine my surprise, then, when stepping one morning into the breakfast-parlour at Stanley Park to see your image painted so faith- fully-almost smiling upon me." He would not tell her of the scene that followed. " It was the first time I had visited the place, and I was there by a special invitation from your uncle, who had only told me the morning before that it was his own estate. I having thought previously, from his peculiar mode of living, that he was poor and friendless. I learnt that day that you were his niece, that he had determined to disinherit you for thwarting him, and I left him with disgust and annoyance working in my heart. I subsequently avoided him, but some few months, afterwards visited him on his deathbed. His eyes had a prayer in them, my dear Ger-, Mrs. Handson, and his last whispered words-the only two he uttered-were ' Gertie' and 'help.' Poor soul I I knew he repented for something, When I learnt I was his heir-had inherited everything save a small legacy to two old servants, Andrew and Hannah Camden-I re- monstrated, objected ; but the law had its way, I then did the next best thing ; I searched for you. Nobody knew your married name, or any- thing about your husband. I left no stone un- turned, and should have still been groping in the dark but for our good friend Bob, who has served me so well that I don't know how I shall ever repay him. I came here not knowing you, to see your boy. His face pleased me, and yet plagued me too ; it worried me all the way home-haunted me that night in my sleep. This very morning I visited Stanley Park. I seldom go there, only Andrew, who is still re- tained there with his wife in service, was sick, and I went to see him. I found Hannah-who loves you so much-busy polishing as I thought a piece of plate ; but when she saw me she curtseyed, smiled, and lifted to my view your own picture, saying, 'May-be, sir, she will turn up soon-God send the day I-and would like to see her young face taken good care of.' Then for the first time Paul's face and that of the picture were blended into one ; it was conviction. To Hannah's surprise I fell on my knees and thanked God ; then, jumping up again, I caught her by the hand and said, ' Hannah, faithful nurse, she has turned up. I go to seek her.' Trying my patience to the utmost I have ful- filled my professional duties, and here on wings I have come to you at last and found you in poverty and distress. Tell me now, how is it I have not found you before ?"

"Good kind, generous heart, how I have

wronged you all this time !" she said. " How

can I make atonement?"

"You have amply atoned, my dear dear

friend" he exclaimed, his face lighting up with

pleasyre. Gazing on her fondly he urged her again to tell him where she had been hiding.

She began: "My girlhood was unhappy, though surrounded by riches. My uncle, if he loved me, never made any effort to win my love-never made any demonstratlon of his affection towards me. My mother was his only sister, and he had no brother living. She married; against his wish my father. Charles Crawford of

whom I have no recollection. Like myself she

was early left a widow, and only lived for me.

When I had attained my tenth year she died, and died in poverty, begging Uncle Godfrey to forgive her and to protect her orphan child. He so far forgave her as to take me to his home, but never to his heart. Old Hannah pitied and caressed me ; otherwise I led a loveless life, and grew up I know not how in such a joyless home. I mourned for my dear mother long and deeply. I missed her tender unselfish devotion. My uncle was morose and unsociable, and saw no company. My grief irritated him, my pale face worried him, but he was quite satisfied that he was doing his duty by an orphan niece (whose mother had never consulted him or abided by his word in the one great event of her life) by letting her share the shelter of his roof, eat from his table, and promising her that she should have his money when he died. Such was my existence. One day Paul Handson and I met- never mind where. We arranged many meetings to follow. He loved me and I loved him. I began to live. I meant to confess everything to uncle Godfrey, but one day when we thought he was in Sydney we strolled to a pretty summer-house on the grounds where he was lying and reading his book. Our relationship was revealed to him at once. My blushes confessed everything, and when we both implored for his consent he pushed

me from him rudely, saying, ' Ah, the apple does not fall far from the tree, then.' He motioned me to go home, and said to Paul, my lover, who winced with the slander his words implied - ' Young man, leave here at once. I do not mean my niece to marry unless she wishes to be a beggar. That argument will weight heavily with you, so I do not fear you. Her mother dis- obeyed me, and she must suffer for her mother's sins. Now go!' Poor uncle Godfrey, his life was soured by disappointment. He loved in his early days a girl who jilted him. She poisoned his heart and turned all his love to hate. I can pity him now. After that he sent me away, even from old Hannah's gentle arms, to Mrs. Hol- wood, a harsh cross mistress ; not one of her pupils but hated her. She watched me as a cat does a mouse-aye and she clawed me too very often ; but I was made, my chains galled me. I managed to escape, to meet Paul, and then to become his wife. I was free at last, and could quench my raging thirst now for love, for Paul; my husband, was still my lover and offered me deep draughts of love." She stopped to draw her breath and gain composure, and then continued :-" He was poor. Like many more, he came to Australia and left his people in Eng- land with the idea of making a fortune, or even picking up nuggets in the street. He only picked up stones. As he could not live on them he tried photography, but competition was too

great. HIs next effort was to write for some Sydney papers and other colonial periodicals, which for a single man was something like suc- cess. He saved, and then we married, like two children, ignorant of housekeeping as we were.. We found his earnings little enough to make both ends meet, and then when my little Paul was born our expenses increased. I made an effort to help my husband, and so I did. I tried my hand at plain linen work for the shops, and afterwards took orders for dresses. We were comparatively happy ; but when my boy was three years old his father received news of the death of his eldest brother, who had bequeathed to him a couple of hundred pounds, and also a letter from his old parents, imploring him to come to them, and to bring his wife and child,that they might see him before they died. He, being their sole surviving child, could not refuse their prayer, and we broke up our home at the very time of uncle Godfrey's death. We heard that a young doctor had come in for all his wealth, that his name was Herbert Howard. I could not feel kindly towards you then, and Sydney was hateful to us both after that, and we were glad to go away. When we arrived at our journey's end we found that nearly one- half of the small legacy had been swallowed up by our various expenses; and, to make, matters worse, sickness assailed us. My husband was an invalid for months through catching a fever which was prevalent at the time. My little Paul had a touch of it, and then myself. The old people made us live with them ; my poor husband was unable to work for some months, and soon our £200 was sunk. We learnt quite by accident about this time that that same legacy was not

bequeathed as we supposed, but that Paul's , eldest brother had willed it to his father, together with the cottage and its furniture. The old gentleman's wants were few, as he already earned a small income, so he sent it to us as an induce- ment to return to their fireside. But both he and his wife regretted now what they had done since nothing but trouble had been ours after we set foot in their house, and the small subsistence they depended upon was not half enough for an extra family. Paul now found some writing to do, and was able to earn a little again, and I once more went to work dressmaking. We were just able to pay our way, and that was all. Before the year expired my poor husband died ; he was

never very strong after that illness. My father- I in-law, who just earned sufllcient for himself and wife by collecting rents, tried to persuade me that he could make enough for all without my working, but I would not listen. I worked, but could not save. I taught my little Paul, and tried to be happy with the devoted unselfish couple ; but about twelve months ago they died within a short time of each other. The cottage was willed to me, but a strong desire possessed me to return to Sydney. I sold the cottage and all that it contained, excepting a few simple relics of those who were gone ; took passage in a sailing vessel, and three months ago arrived in Sydney. I tried to find work with those I served before, but found them already suited. It was some time beforo I could get anything to do, and the little money I had was soon gone in travelling and in buying a little scanty furniture, which you see ; so things went very hard with me, but they are looking brighter now, thank

God."

" Aye, and shall look brighter still," said Dr. Howard. " You shall work no more, but return to your rightful home and live there on your

own lands."

" Do you think I will do that ?" she asked.

" Why not ? 'Tis your own," he said ex- citedly.

" You are noble, you are generous, you are strong in virtue, but not strong enough to alter man-made laws. The law had made it yours ; you cannot say it is not. You must not say it is mine ; but I thank you from my heart for your noble generosity."

" There is no generosity in it at all. I have my profession, I am independent. The super- fluous wealth is an incubus to me, and no delight. I tell you that the repentance existing in your unfortunate unhappy uncle's heart tried to frame a prayer on his lips which were silenced when it was too late to act. Repentance was written on every feature-an appeal in his eyes which I'm sure he knew was understood by me. By a des- perate struggle for speech he whispered painfully your own name and then ' help.' What did it mean, I ask you, but a prayer for justice ? And justice you shall have."

" No ! no ! by all means No," she answered. " You are the right man in the right place. I have done without wealth so long that I can do with- out it now altogether. We are happy, Paul and I, in our own way, now, but I will trust to your generosity for his future welfare ; you shall edu- cate him, if you will, with my uncle's money, if that will make you happy. I never told the child that riches were once within my grasp that I had any right to expect them-fearing it might make him discontented with his lot in life, but he is a dear good boy. Paul, Paul, where are you ?"

She looked around for him, and found him curled up in a corner fast asleep, and stooped to

rouse him.

" Mother, is that you ? What time is it ? Has the doctor gone ? Your voices hushed me to sleep, I do believe."

*' It is time you were in your bed, dear ; you are tired. Come and bid our good friend good night,"

she said.

With his arm round his mother's waist he came towards the doctor.

" Good night, my boy," he said, patting his curly head, feeling that it was a delicate hint from her that their interview should cease. He also bade her good night, and left her with the determination never to say "die." To have spoken his love for her would have been precipi- tate, though it was a struggle not to do so. He conquered the passion as it rose in his heart, and resolved to wait. She might learn to love him in time, he thought.

His visits to her were repeated, and once again he urged her to take her own, but she was in- exorable. Many presents and luxuries were sent to the house at short intervals from "an

anonymous friend," which she knew came from

him, but could not tax him with sending. She

could not help admiring him-she could not help loving him. Since she had returned from England her position had cast her amongst a lot of people who loved her in their own way but were'^1^

not congenial to her deposition or her talents. The doctor, then, brought a new light into her existence ; she began to feel that life without

him now would be dark and dreary, and both she and Paul looked forward to each of his visits with eager anticipation and delight.

One day-one sunny afternoon-he came again, when Paul was on duty at Mr. Gregory's. She looked up from her work, while a delicate blush painted her cheeks, and welcomed him as usual. Some little time passed in general conversation, when Dr. Howard suddenly veered round to the old question. " My dear Mrs. Handson, will you forgive me if I ask you just once again why you will persist in steeling your heart against my

reasonable request ? You are so unselfish, and still in spite of yourself will be selfish-yes,

selfish, for you will not gratify me ; you will not

accept, to please me, what I should be so glad to

be rid of."

"Dear friend, I cannot argue. I am only acting as my heart dictates," she said, bending

over her work.

Then it was that the doctor rose and stood

before her. He said in a low tone ! "There is only one thing to make it bearable. There is only one way to make that mistaken will come right."

She made no answer, and her silence gave him

encouragement.

" Share it with me-be my own darling wife. Gertie, my love-my only love, the dream of my life -look me in the face and say you will be

mine."

Then she bowed her head upon her hands, and answered hysterically : " You, you, you, the rich, the flattered, the good, want to marry me? You would sacrifico yourself."

" I shall exalt myself, dearest!" He drew her

hands down and searched her face for his answer. " Darling, I have loved you since the first time I cast my eyes on you. Will you not

believe me?"

"'Tis so unexpected- I never thought-I never dreamt. Oh, give me time - I will answer you to-night. Let me ask Paul," she said, ex- citedly.

At that moment Paul entered; his work was done, and evening was coming on.

"Paul, come here," said the doctor. " Look at me well. Will you take me for a second father, my son?"

Paul first glanced at his mother, who was in tears. " Mother, do you cry because you are unhappy, or because you are happy?" he asked. He caught her hand to raise her from the chair, and she unresistingly yielded. He drew her up till she stood face to face with her pleader. Then he biased her hand, and, placing it in the broad palm of the doctor, said :

" Oh, mother, he is so good. I love him dearly ; let him be my father on earth-my Father in heaven will love him too." So Paul united them for ever. * * * *

" Carl, I have come to thank you," said Dr. Howard about a month after the foregoing inci- dents, as he entered Carl's chambers.

" What for ?"

" I asked you to assist me in finding Gertie, and you have done so."

" Where ? how ? what ?" said Carl, as all thoughts of brother-in-lawship faded from his mind at once.

" Why, old fellow, all through accepting your invitation the morning after the ball, I en- countered Bob-the lad who was so zealous for the widow - the lad who told the truth. I sought the widow and her son to relieve their distress, and found my-wife."

" Not Mrs. Handson ; not the dress-" Carl began.

" Yes, Carl, the poor dressmaker who was is my Gertie-now my wife."

"Well, doctor, I am glad, and with all my heart I give you joy." No allusion was made to

his mother or sisters.

Emmeline and Annette were dumbfounded when some days later their mother received a note containing her own cheque for £3, sent a week previously to Mrs. Handson : " Mrs. Handson no longer exists, but Mrs. Herbert Howard begs to decline the enclosed, with thanks, trusting Mrs, Guiseman will hand it over to the first case of distress coming under her notice." Carl had not the courage to break the news of the doctor's marriage-much Iess to tell them the name of his wife. It fell like a thunderbolt on their proud heads ; that little scented note was charged with a gunpowder which scattered their senses and blew their hopes

to the winds.

Yes, there had been a quiet little wedding. Old Hannah cried tears of joy over her "long- lost child" when she welcomed her home with her husband to Stanley Park.

" Home-home, at last!" he cried, as he stood with his arm encircling her waist, and thought with the poet -.

No rock so hard but what a little wave Will beat admission in a thousand years.

Robert Mullet was not forgotten, but was taken into their service for high remuneration. Neither was Tobins the blacksmith ; no oppor- tunity was missed to show him a kindness. Poor Tobin, he had been on the point of proposing to the widow once or twice, only instinct made him hold his tongue and told him it would be useless. He drew his hand across his eyes when he heard of her marriage, and said he " know'd she was a lady born."

Paul went to school, and evinced a liking for the profeesion of his honoured and beloved step- father, and in all probability will follow in his footsteps.

Mrs. Herbert Howard was known far and wide for her goodness and charity. Her husband continued to attend the needy and administer to their wants, but otherwise retired from his calling.

So old Stanley's prayer was heard and answered, and his will fell in the right direction

after all.

[THE END]