|Newspaper Title||Southern Argus (Port Elliot, SA : 1866 - 1954)|
|Trove Title||The Kennises|
(Written expressly for the SouQiern Argiu.J
By Godfrey Egremont.
[Author's rights reserved.)
( Continued from our last} Chapter III.
Hard, unfeeling creatures, proof against general follies, have each some foible, blind passion, or prejudice, a gate through which an enemy may enter and occupy the otherwise impregnable for tress. The cunningest thief is trapped at last, some little precaution omitted, some slight imprudence, a drunken fit,
peina(Jo, ur a iuiuulc a manu/, luj uiio bird is caught on a well-limed twig, and Slashing Dick, or Hash Bob leaves his warm haunts and approving companions for a cold cell and an unsympathetic gaoler. The wariest schemer. may be entangled when once this unguarded point is known. Human nature is often too strong for artfulness. Smith will tipple on a certain wine, straightway his entangler produces the required liquor though it cost twenty guineas a dozen, and Smith's tongue is loosened, the cranks of his brain unwind, thoughts and secrets roll down into his mouth and from thence to the ear of the smil ing listener who hears all he wants to know, and, most probably, a great deal more. Fools are air-breathing instru ments on which clever men play ; and they in their turn are tuned by cleverer men. Once find the key, there is the casket, securely locked, as was thought — one twist of the hand — one wrench of the wrist, hey, presto ! the lid flies onen, there is the poor naked machine.
out with it, and make it speak anyway you choose. Readers have discovered that the foible in Captain Kennis was money, the blind passion in John Cremer, love, Each made use of each, only, as it hap pened, the lawyer, being subtiler, insidi ously obtained a moral mastery. So lightly were the fetters clasped they re mained unfelt, vet so strongly that, like
ahigh-tempered sword-blade, smooth and flexible, they relaxed every way, yield ing to a touch, but immediately regained their former position. Cremer well knew that his only chance of gaining Helen Kennis's hand would be through her fathers willingness to oblige him. Therefore his labor for many a day, his plotting, his grasp of projects, and com mand of means were directed to place the captain so far in his power that con sent to a marriage with Helen might be absolutely insisted on . if necessary. It has already been mentioned that circum stances had compelled Captain Kennis to borrow. Although owner of a con siderable property, station returns had never exceeded a comfortable income. This not forthcoming, he preferred mort gagirg to selling any portion of the land, believing that ail Hens would be easily remedied with the next good sea son. Unfortunately that much-desired event seemed postponed indefinitely, A poisonous plant made havoc amongst the sheep, prices of all staple products kept low, and any dweller in the colonies knows how disastrous cycles regularly conspire to ruin the Fquatter. When Harrv's uncle ought to have redeemed, ; renewals and further advances were ; needed, and granted, j There had been for years a dispute regarding the boundary-line of his neighbour's run. That neighbour was now Sam Tyrell who, like Israel's kings, reigned in his father's stead. Good-natured Sam was willing enough to make fair concessions ; but this did not suit John Cremer, who considered young Tyrell a barrier across the road needing displacement. Mere formal and neighbourly visits meant much more, to the attorney's jealous eyes. With the object, then, of accomplishing two purposes at one stroke, the Captain was artfully egged on, his obstinacy encouraged, bis vanity flattered, and a most powerful motive for action inven ted by judicious representations of pro bable gain. An open rupture between old friends resulted, followed by a pon derous lswMiit before the Full Court, loBt, of course, by Cremer's catspaw with heavy damages and costs. This led to further involvements on the part of the unsuccessful suitor, who, when calmlv reviewing facts, though unable to accuse his solicitor of deceit, yet knew not why he bad listened so trustfully to seductive possibilities. Thus Captain Kennis became heavily indebted to Mr. John Cremer, and two points were gained in the game. Aff-irs rendrred it almopt inevitable that Mr. John Cremer should be fre quentlv a' the. house — not alw-ys bent on such purely business errands as were supposed, On hi* part the o^i sheep farmer considered Cremer well suited for a son-in-law in any circumstances — particularly well suited as circumatances were, A marriage with Helen might be made the price for quashing these mortgages without the formalty of pay ing cash over, a oroee.edinjr the captain especially detested. Putting the advan ces on one fiide, the attorney whs still eligible, for his clients were numerous, his business extensive, and a reputation for clever pleading and deep legal know ledge gave promise of high positionp, political or judicial, in good time. Helen Kennis had never forgotten Harry's warning, and this, ?dded to the . instinctive aversion with which she re garded the man, rendered not a few of Cremer's visits unb'.est by any sight of her. If she were asked the reasons for this shuddering distaste, none could be given. She shunned him as one would shun a deadly serpent, Lis face and form were odious to her, and time serred but to strengthen the feelinjr. To her father's remonstrance, mide in his friend's behalf, Helen could offer no tangible reply be.jond vague assertions
and indifferent excuses. It might have been that the eye, that tell-tale on the heart, incautiously exposed the (to her) hateful sentiment, * I love you,' for the love a man feels towards a woman may rarely escape her notice. Possibly an apprehension of some stormy avowal added terror to her sufficient distrust, and caused her carefully to quit his company when by any chance it seemed probable they would be left alone toge ther. Months flew by, the additional frequency of Cremer's appearance, his improved social position, his growing intimacy with the captain ordinarily had dispelled prejudice, but only served to confirm the repugnance spoken of. To be continued in cur next.