|Newspaper Title||Northern Argus (Clare, SA : 1869 - 1954)|
|Trove Title||Good at Last|
GOOD AT LAST*
The something which Stephen, in the last chapter, wished had not hap pened was the approach of a skiff near to the sandbank on which they were, aud the hailing of them by a man that was in it. That person, on coming near them, set their minds at rest concern ing the fete of Mrs. Clayton and Biggs; who, he said, bad been washed on shore by the tide of the previous evening, and picked »p by some of the pilots, who had kept them at a station there until morning, and had sent them home in a former's cart,. promising to use every endeavor to'' find jvhether the schooner had been wrecked and whether Isabel and Stephen had been lost or not.' Biggs Vould have staved behind to assist in.lbe search,but that one of his arms had been broken; he was perforce compelled to leave a task which he believedHhat ht, ought to have taken an active part in ac complishing. How he look his landlord (Mr. Clayton) or old Hillary in the face, and admit that hehad lost Isabel, he would not even trust him self to think. If Stephen alone had been lost he would-have been very sorry; but having been in a manner trusted with the safety of the young lady, the old fellow looked upon his shipwreck as almost a breach oftbust on his part. - .? - ^
Stephen and Co. embarked in the skiff, and were pulled to..the-shore; but Isabel would not go into the man's house-although his wifewished thtem to dry their clothes, and have some thing to eat. She was one of those frightened sort of people who were afraid of accepting service from any one while she could do without it. After drinking some milk, they .went on the road towards Sheerness-from which place they found they'-were distant about seven tntiife. ' It waSj iio doubt, a very unwise thing-it was even a very stupid thing for two half-drowned and half-starved 'peopteto undertake such a walk; but'Isabbl,ii already hinted, was fond of haying her own way; and that way iwas sometimes-and was now (as Brett Harte says of the Heathen Chinee)-" wery pecoolar"; she refused to ^ait till some vehicle could be got ready for .her-and de termined to walk home, thinkin g that she might heableto reffih ^diere un observed or witli less notice than ifshe went more openly-ra n obj ect to her, as she felt rather ashamed of her pre sent appearance. f,i -
So they started J.hnt" before long the self-willed she found , that her strength" "uraer nat . equal -to . her will, and that in the first two or three miles, in spit© of the . supporfe of Stephen's arm, she had been obliged to ,sit down to rest several times. . Seeing; ;that they would':neverget home ^at that rate, Stephen at last persuaded her to let him go on toa.farmhouse near where they were, and hire something in which they could ride home.- He did so, .and returned soon with fa, spring-cart/ which^e farmer had. not only lent,-hut had-on learning their predicament, and who the lady was
volunteered to drive for them.
Duringthe%mer ofthe ride, _. Stephen .saw, or. fancied he saw, that, her manner towards him was such as to put an;end' tb. anvhopfe hemight have of a reciprocation of the liking he had for her. What .a fool he.was. Had he *«een the^sidelong glances which were ever and anon thrown^ at him from beneath t]iese most beautiful of beautiful eyelashes, he might have mustered the courage to have wooed aud perhiapswon. As it was, he was only another proof of the adage,^ " Faint heart'never ^iiron," &c. He did not thuik of or weigh the pro bability <rf the iron being quite hot enough for him to strike; he half ex pected this iron to bend itself to his shape before lie ventured the blow. If he now allows it cool,' hard -ifr -most surely wili'get; , and. then, let him strike never so deftly.iall his chance of
making an impression may go. "Want j of courage on his part to dare a refusal ' now was the cause of many, many j years of misery to both of them. He .< imagined that . her .feelings. were merely those of obligation to him, and so let his opportunity slip. _ 1
Witbher a romantic- feeling had sprung up within thelast hour'or two 5 -she had seen his devotion to" her she had seen how caress he bad been - of himself when he could he of service to her-and his submission to her caprices, no matter how wilful (as she
now confessed them to be) they were.. Her gratitude had changed, to a Feel
ing so new to her 'that see felt sorely ' puzzled to account for it. She was scared to find how much she liked him -he whose station "(though his ..man ner was superior) was -but ihat of a common laborer. However, she *ronld not let him see her change of inclination towards him. On account of his seeming degradation she. pitied him; and who is there that does not know what pity is akin to ? She thought, too, that she noticed something more on his part than mere friendly solici tude towards her. - She would no doubt see before theTrJourney over.
Wnen; about# mile, frpm; home, fop the courteous old farmer had insisted on taking her' all the way, Stephen said he woulfi walk onc the remainder ofthe distance,by himself He said nothing of his :reason for so doing ; hut it really was he had heard of Mr. Clay ton's vifcW-*Major Stanhope; and lie
» Written expressly for this journal Eight of repirb
knew that that gentleman was an officer in the regiment from which he had him?ejlf deserted. Jie had, there fore, no" ve^r strong. Wish to meet
, him. *' . »», : \ . , -
Isabel was' ratber suirprised^aiid an noyed at Stephen's determination.
" But," said she, " you will never be so timid as to run away from tbe praise and thanks which you have so nobly earned. My father, who loves me more than anything- on earth, will not know how sufficiently to show his appreciation of the service you have
" What I have done deserves no
such great display of gratitude, which [ would take away the pleasure I feel in
having rendered the service you say I hare. Good bye."
And having pressed..her hand he left the cart, which went onwards to its destination. Stephen had no sooner left her, than Isabel began to under stand: tbe full meaning and value of her inclination towards him; she buried her lace in her hands, and wept with vexation at the idea of -loving a man whose attention to, her she . must have msiriterpreted, or else how
could he have left lier in the cold half surly manner he had.
She reached the Clayton's, and after giving and receiving congratulations as to the lucky escape, giving an ac count of her adventures, and hearing : about those of others, .retired to the
rest .she so sorely needed.
The next morning's post brought an invitation to her father from the Wheelers', to allow her to spend a few weeks with them at Birkenhead. As she had an acquaintance with Ellen Wheeler, with whom she (had , been at school for a. time, she told her father to accept the invitation; and as he left the Lodge for London ! that day, he escorted her part of the distance she had to go.
Major Stanhope left the Clay tons' at about the same time, his mili tary duty calling him away.