Chapter 92761763

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Chapter NumberVII.
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article92761763
Full Date1871-08-11
Page Number4
Corrections1
Word Count2964
IllustratedN
Last Corrected2020-12-07
Newspaper TitleNorthern Argus (Clare, SA : 1869 - 1954)
Trove TitleGood at Last
article text

GOOD AT LAST.*

BY " PUELLA."

CHAPTER VII.

The position in which Stephen and his companion were left at the close of the last chapter was anything but an enviaoleone, and an author ought per- haps to be ashamed of bringing two people into such a deplorable fix ; but as people do sometimes get into fixes, —why, one or two of such may as well be put into this story. Before now heroines have been drowned in water-

holes or smothered in mudholes ; there- fore, if our heroine is to die, it is better to give her a clean place and plenty of

room to do it in.

Stephen felt the awkward position in which he was placed with regard to Isabel. To be alone with a lady (espe- cially if it be her for whom one feels a sort of sneaking regard) is not so bad a thing in itself even when a long way off from where anyone else is. But to be not only in that situation, but to have a remarkably clear idea of the possi- bility of both of them making a jour- ney of inspection to "the bottom of the deep blue sea," without the privilege of a return ticket, is a consummation not devoutly to be wished. In feeling the miserable pleasures of his position, Stephen took care not to let Isabel know his anxiety. He kept his self- possession, and was to all appearance calm as a marble Jupiter.

Isabel, if not quite so cool and col- lected as one of the " stone gals" to be seen on pedestals in the picture and sculpture galleries, was wonderfully more so than her companion had ex- pected. She thought that as he had been able to guide the schooner all the former part of the afternoon he would certainly be able to manage it now. She thought a man ought to be able to do anything that he made up his mind

to.

The evening progressed as is the wont of dark and stormy evenings to do—it got darker and stormier. In spite of all Stephen's efforts the sail Biggs had hoisted when they had com- menced their return home had got into a pickle. He could neither get it ship- shape nor haul it down ; so it had to flap about, apparently intent on not only adding to the clatter made by the wind and rain, but by its draggling weight on one side of the craft, to render it dangerous, to trust to a long con- tinuance of even their present position. They must either be rescued or thrown on shore ; otherwise, should they be capsized where they were, they would in all likelihood share the probable fate of Mrs. Clayton and Biggs. Both Isabel and Stephen were wondering what would be the end of the affair, when the mast gave away to the vio- lence of the tempest, everything over- head coming down by the run. Luckily, Stephen knew where to find a hatchet to cut the rigging loose, or else that

hour would have been the last in the lives of those whose trip has now been chronicled. At the first of the smash

Isabel had run out of the way of the falling gear, and taken refuge in the small cabin ; which she had no sooner

reached than she fainted.

As soon as Stephen had cleared away the wreck he sprang towards where she lay insensible, and—with feelings

of thankfulness that he was by to ren- der service, raised her from the ground, and sprinkled some water over her face, and was rewarded by feeling one of her hands, which was near his side, taking hold of one of his, and pressing it. As she rested on his arm, what wonder is it that Stephen should be tempted, and not only embrace the temptation, but also that which gave rise to it ? In other words, he drew her to his breast, and imprinted two of those os- culatory affairs on her lips that young people used to be so fond of.

Had Stephen seen a ghost he could not have been more astounded than he was by the result of his present temerity. Isabel did not start up, slap his face, or kick up a row. She did nothing of the kind. She kissed him again. The might was so dark, that it was impossible to see whether he blushed or no.

What he would have done then this chronicle is spared the pains of nar- rating, as at that moment the vessel re- ceived a shock by striking against something which knocked a hole in the hull and let the water in. With such ra- pidity that Stephen knew they must look some event almost super- natural to save them from going down. Swimming would be of no manner of use to him now ; and as if to save him from the trouble of trying, just as the

vessel was apparently sinking she drifted on to an island-like shoal, and broke into pieces, leaving the two on

the sand.

Stephen was afraid to leave Isabel alone whilst he went round the ground on which they stood, to try and ascer-

tain its extent, lest before his return she should have been washed away. So

together they commenced the explora- tion of it, and found themselves on what seemed to be a long strip of sand, sur- rounded by water. On neither side, even at the depth of several feet, could Stephen find any connection between

his island and either of the river banks, so they went back to the highest ground, and sat down to await daybreak, with a hope that succour

might then reach them.

During this time neither of them re- ferred to the episode which had taken place between, them just previous to their being thrown out of the schooner ;

Written expressly for this journal. Right of repub-

lishing reserved.

each felt that peculiar sensation known only to people that may have done something when they can hardly jus- tify, yet are hardly sorry for having done. Stephen thought that, though it was a very jolly thing indeed to be kissed by a girl ; yet that favor might have been bestowed on him as a token of gratitude, or of sisterly trust in his will to render her service. Anyhow, he felt then that it would have been un- manly, or at least ungenerous, to have taken advantage of the circumstances in which they were placed, in the way

of love-making.

Isabel, in truth, thought nothing of the matter. Stephen was to her mind a capital fellow—one who had already done her some service, and might yet do her more. She acknowledged her obligation towards him, but in doing so much she never had even imagined that her feelings for him could be any- thing but gratitude. She knew as yet nothing at all, in theory, of the thing called love—that is, as applied to that attraction between the youth of both sexes, and which used to end in the publication of the banns of marriage.

They had not been long sitting where they were, when Isabel ex-

claimed—

"Listen! the water is splashing closer to us than it was when we first sat down. I can hear it on the sand as if it were but a few yards off, and I'm sure we were at least twenty from it an hour ago. Had we not better see if it is rising, and know the worst, for it might rise to here. It might even cover the spot on which we now sit."

" Perhaps so ; but even if it does, something tells me that the same Pro- vidence which has watched over us for

so many hours, will not desert us. Did you ever hear of such luck as we have had since the storm came on. However, I think the water is rising. Let's go and see."

And, sure, when they did go, they had not proceeded about two or three yards when they found their feet covered with water, which they had approached without seeing, owing to the darkness of the night. They then

made another circuit of their isle, and found that its uncovered length was now but about a dozen yards, and scarcely half that in breadth. That was not certainly a cheering discovery,

but the only way for it was to wait ; and to give that task more interest, Stephen drove a piece of wood (which had been thrown from the wreck) into the sand at the spot to which the water had now reached. In the next hour the water had risen several inches, and of necessity had covered some feet of the almost flat shoal, leaving but half the space for the wrecked ones to stay on. Within a short time, however, the tide had turned, and Stephen had the satisfaction of finding that his gauge was again at a distance from where the highest water then was.

He was thankful for that, as he knew that it could not rise again to the height it had been for 10 or 12 hours to come. Another cause for gladness was that the night was taking wings, and doing what amateur glee- singers are sometimes telling of—flying away ;—and he of the rosy fingers was opening the gates of day, unfold-

ing the face of nature (as if that face

had been doubled up on the night before), &c., &c. As the daylight came on, the rain ceased and the wind

fell. Stephen looked eagerly round for some signs of vessels from which he might get help for himself and Isabel, who was now, thanks to the cold and exposure, just about as miserable and unromantic looking a creature as is likely to be thought of. Much as one may descant on the charms of beauty, it must be owned that a good soaking is not likely to add to those charms. The appearance of Stephen, too, was little else than

Crusoe-like.

The poetical view of their situation was not heightened by their remem- brance that they were getting hungry, and fancied that it would be rather uncomfortable if they could not soon perform the great necessities to mun- dane life—eating and drinking.

Several boats and smacks passed by them, but at such a distance that all efforts made to attract attention were unavailing.

The shoal that Stephen and Isabel were on got, through the recession of the water, several times larger than it

had at first seemed ; and at last Stephen saw the water rippling in a line from the end of it to where he could see the shore of the river on the Kentish side, at about half a mile dis-

tant. He knew that the cause of such rippling was generally the striking of shallow water upon the sand or reef just below the surface. That thought gave him the courage to say to Isabel,

" There may be a prospect of being all right yet. If the water still goes down at the rate it has done for the past hour, I think it likely that we may be able to walk along where you see that white surf ; at any rate, I be- lieve it will go down sufficiently for us to reach the land—either by walking or swimming. I would try and swim across with you now, only——"

" Only I'm so heavy, you would say. Don't try, but swim over by yourself, and send some one back with a boat for me. I can wait."

" In a short time we shall see whether that reef is safe to walk on or no.

Besides, if you got washed away I could never forgive myself for leaving you here. The world could scarce

afford to lose so——"

" Nonsense ! I know what you are

going to say. I have heard that all

men talk like that sometimes. As for my getting washed away, it's not likely. One of the fishermen told me that the tide only rises twice in the day ; and as it has risen once since last night, it will be some hours before it does so again. The idea of being shipwrecked and perishing on a deso-

late island in the middle of the river Thames is so outrageously extrava- gant that one could well nigh laugh at

it."

" Yes ; now that you think that the greater danger is over. You did not laugh last night before we were

thrown out of the schooner."

" I yesterday called you a coward ; now I'm sure that you are one, or else how could you remind me of what I'm

almost ashamed of."

On saying this, her face assumed that brilliant hue which served Stephen's head as the same kind of thing has often served others'. He would have told her how he loved her. He would have asked her to wait until he could earn a name and position worthy of her. He would have done this, and perhaps more, but for the happening of what Stephen was really selfish enough to wish had either post- poned itself, or not happened at all

and the recording of which deserves a chapter to itself.

(To be continued.)

A WIFE-HUNTER HOAXED.--A wife-hunter was sadly hoaxed at Bir kenhead. Some wags visiting tbe Castle Hotel, Chester street, observed in one of the Liverpool newspapers a " matri monial advertisement." The advertiser was " in want of a wife," and the conditions were that she must be " young," and of " prepossessing appearance," and, besides, she must have " £300 a year." The advertiser hailed from {t Aberdeen awa," and the fair aspirants for the hand ot the adver tiser were to address tlieir letters to the "Granite City." The wags of the castle determined to have some fun at the exnense of the '' canny Scot." The services of a young lady were obtained, and in her handwriting an epistle was despatched. The assumed name was " Hiss G. AHington," and she represented that she was 25 years of age, and good looking. She was not she said worth £300 a year but she had £230 per annum in her own right, and she expressed a hope that his in come would be sufficient to make herself and her future u lord and master" happy and comfortable. The bait took, The young lady soon received a letter from " A. Landegan, 38, Skene

Terrace, Aberdeen." In this com- j munication the writer described himself as a " teacher of music," and he hoped that the young lady was " musically inclined." With regard to money matters he was quite satisfied with " £220 a vear" as the fortune of his | intended. " " Miss Arlington,'.' in her

nest epistle, stated that she had an " excellent ear for music," and avowed that it would be her " soul s delight" to be " united to a teacher of music.*' Several communications passed between the couple, photographs were ex I changed, and ultimately it was arranged

that a meeting would take place between

| them ou. Tuesday at the Castle Hotel, j

The tricky youths were on the look out for the expected Scotch stranger. Punctual to the hour, in walked a man, about thirty-five years of age, smartly attired. " Mr, Landegan" asked for " Miss Arlington." " Walk in," said a young lady, and he was ushered into the bar, where he was introduced,

not to 14 Miss Arlington," but to 30 j ct choice spirits," who greeted him j with roars of laughter. Some of the party were prepared with bags of flour and rotten eggs with which to pelt the wife-hunter, but the cool way in which he treated the hoax that had been played on him induced them to listen to what he had to say. It turned out that although living in Aberdeen, "Mr. Landegan" was no Scotchman. The disappointed man saved himself from persecution by paying for several bottles of champagne. -Manchester Evening News.

A wholesale destruction of kan

garoos is thus described by the Wools thorpe correspondent of the Belfast Gazette:-" On Minjah Station last week, great kangaroo hunting took place. On Thursday, about 600 kan garoos were killed, on which occasion every person about the district took a lively part. On Saturday another hunt took place. About 500 kangaroos were yarded that dayin all about 2,000 were destroyed, thus making a saving of grass for 2,000 sheep. The skins ' were sold on the spot at high rates.

Since I wrote to you Lindsay's people Have been very successful in kangaroo bunting. On Wednesday last, about - 2,300 were killed at Qiiamby. On Thursday the hunting was again kept, up with pluck; Ware's folks turned . out to hunt on Minjah, and so far suc

ceeded as to get about 1,000 kangaroos to the mouth of the yards, when some evil-disposed persons, who were hidden behind some trees, rushed out with boughs in hand, thus scattering all the mob they felt sure of killing. The punters, not to be beat, turned round after the game, and ran them into Lindsay's yard, where about .700 met their death, thus clearing two runs of 4 700 kangaroos in about a week's time. Not bad work is It?"

. i . as - ' 1 '?

A British drummer w» taken beforeTurenne ss a eoy, and aa a test of reracHywaa wquired to brat a retreat. He replied, "Betreat! Where is no ench beat in tbe British service.

In if any one comes before a king without a full-dress costume-that is, a etraw hat and a ring in the noee-bw bead goes into the waste basket before he can think twice.