|Newspaper Title||Southern Argus (Port Elliot, SA : 1866 - 1954)|
|Trove Title||The Kennises|
( Written expressly for the Soul/tern Argm )
By Godfbev Egbemont,
[Author's rights reserved. |
Chapter III, (Continued from our last )
We need not follow the details of this conversation. In a few words Captain Kennis sold his daughter to Mr, John Cremer, consideration being the cancel-' lation of certain mortgages. Business, like charity, ia allem
oracing. * There/ said the captain in conclu sion, confidently elated, and pointing to the solitary figure in the garden, ' there is the girl, go to and talk to her your self while I take a nap, Tell her my wishes, and you may depend it will be all right You have my best support. That support has been dearly pur chased, Qremer admits, as he goes to do as directed ; yet is. she not worth any sacrifice? Helen had seated herself on a rustic bench placed under an acasia tree — one of her favourite haunts. Sitting here thinking of him she lovecl, a shadow seemed suddenly to darken her dreams, and looking up she saw the man she hated standing before her,- his burning admiration no longer repressed. A sickly feeling stole over her, this she mastered, to feel helpless for a time while, almost beside himself, the old frenzy surging within, he stood gloating as a serpent gloats on the hapless bird it seizes. By degrees she returned his ?'' gaze' with a glance which, if glances had power, would have blasted him on the spot, * Does my father want me, sir?' she asked, bzeaking the horrible silence. He seemed to remember himself, * I beg pardon, Miss Kennis— absence ot mind— t-X — I really don't know what you said,* * I asked you if my father wanted me.' ( Oh, no, he merely sent me to tell you his wishes,' Hearing this she became conscious of a certain change of manner, an assump tion of familiarity, disgusting and un bearable, She knew his errand from that instant, and strove to prevent its utterance. 'If my father has any message for me I will go and receive it from him. There is no need to employ vou in such a capacity.* Rising, she njoved toward the house, ; now some hundred yards distant among * the trees. He barred the path and cried, * No, Helen, you shall not go till I have spoken,'. * Let me passj sir.' * He caught her hand, 6he snatched it from, bis grasPi an-* tnen re seated her self, listening perforce to his fervid words all fear gone in the excitement of her contemptuous anger which deepened as proceeded. * Helen, my darling, hear me. I love you; love you as a man should, love bis God — with heart, soul, and strength. Your father knows it and has sent me to tell you that he agrees to our marriage,' His utter self-abandonment, for a moment, compels her surprise rather than her detestation, then, turning her face from where he stood, she says, * You are taking advantage of my helplessness, coward J and regaling yourself by insulting me.' Helen appeared to him in her just indignation more beautiful than ever. He laughed at her pretty anger — he could afford to laugh — and went on * Listen to me Helen, my heart's beloved! I love you, have loved you from the first day I saw you, and shall love you while life can give me one drop of blood or one breath ef air. Oh, my darling! I have strives to win your favour , Grod knows how unceasingly. I have won a position for you ; I have earned wealth for you ; I have risen ia the world for you ; I have done evei y» thing in the weary time which lies behind for you — for you! One smile
will repay me, one smile from my love, one smile only. Say you will love me, say you will be my wife, apd bless me lor ever.' He knelt before her as he speaks and clasps his hand imploringly. She is but a woman, and, despite him, can feel a woman's pity for the wretch. ( \lf- C.famar- ' aha -!flirl- * vmi Will
tear me witnes3 that never by word or sign have I given warrant for this, that I have, always shunned you, that this is the first time I have allowed myself to speak with you alone.' ? My G-od,' he moaned, ' it is too true spare me. spare me.' * You force me to say, sir, that this
Avoidance of yourself was justified by .circumstances which you dishonourably .choose to forget.' The colour flamed on her cheeks as she said this. Dear Harry, would tb.ou wert here!. Her allusion was only too well under stood by the. man she addressed. He writhed as if on the rack, and sprang .to his feet crying hoarsely, ' Circumstances ! ay, that's where it
is, you prefer Harry Kennis, an idle, .useless' ? * Sir,' she interrupted hotlv, ' it is .easy for a poltroon to vilify an absent gentleman.' Regardlesslv he went on, * A man who c m't earn his own Jiving, you prefer to onp who has worked night and day for you, and won a position suitable for your grace and beauty. But he shall never have you, never, never. I have sworn it. I swear it again,' and he tbxe-.v his hinds wiidly upward..
'Sir,' jihe .brave .girl ...retorted, 'I would sooner go through the world barefoot with Harry Kennis, than sit beside you on the throne of England ; and as for your threats, I scorn them as I do yourself.' * Oh, hear me,' he groaned, ? hear me, sweet girl, my darliug, my love. Hear me — I love you a million times better than he van, I would kiss your feet and be happy, would you allow me. I have watched more tenderly than ever he did over you as you slept. I have waited, braiing your antipathy. I will wait, my beloved, years on . years ior you, if will only say I may hope. Speak, and tell me may I hope. My God! I shall go mad if you don't. Tell me will you be my wife, dearest Helen, beautiful angel ?' He drew nearer raving thus. She rose, and said, 4 Touch 'me if you dare, coward, touch me, and I will seek protection from the servants, since it seems my father has purposely left me at your mercy.' . There was something in her fearless contempt which subdued the devil in his blood ; he entreated, ? Forgive me, dear one, forgive me, I am mad with love for you.' ' Let me pass, sir.' This time he durst not hinder as she hurried by, but motionless, watched till the last gleam of her summer dress had disappeared, his face contorted, his parched lips moving, yet forming no gesture nor framing articulate speech. Helen Kennis, who bad met this dreadful trial with true fortitude and wisdom, gained her room half-fainting, and with barely strength left to dose the door, burst into a passion of tears. Chapter IV. Squjinton, Victoria, owes its steady rise to a happy accident of situation amid thousands* of acres of rich agri cultural land. Farmers abound, the air is redolent of farming accumulations. Farmers' carts crowd Squanton main street, farmers' signs Bwing from the two public houses, ' The Jolly Reapers' and ' The Waggons ;' and farmers, it may be added, areoftenest conveyed home therefrom rolling drunk. The roads around Squanton are well worn by farmers' traffic, consequently farmers' taxes mostly go into contractors' pockets who, in their turn, hand over fair work ing wages to the sundry pickand shovel men, teamsters, and stone crackers they employ. About one mile from Squanton, on the morning when readers are introduced there, a certain road was undergoing repairs. Some men were waking a cutting, others forming the bed, others shnping a footpath, others re-anetalling, and not a few seated or standing were busily en gaged in breaking stones to guage re quired. With the contractor carefully overseeing and his bands in general we have little to do. At that heap of big stones piled near the rotten comer post we may possibly discover something more interesting. The stone-cracker is a middle sized, broad-shouldered young man. He sits on the ground to save his back, rakes down a quantity of stuff between his legs, and then hammers away vigorously, for theie is no time to waste if he wants to earn decent wages. He wears a pair of green spectacles or * goggles/not on account of sun-glare, for it is mild autumn weather and quite cool, nor to assist sight, bat to protect his eyes against the splinters which fly up vigorously now and then. An ob servant traveller might notice several things about him unlike the belongings of an ordinary labourer. There was no absence of strength in his actions, but a certain want of knack. His hands, though tanned and sinewy, did not bear the marks of ancient toil. They were wide hands certainly but small, while the fingers, far from resembling blurted survey -pegs, were slender and shapely. A fashionable cut clung to the thread bare trousers, a fineness pervaded the faded Crimean shirt, and a jauntiness surrounded the battered hat, which might point out their wearer as either a thief who bad stolen them some time ago, or a poverty-stricken gentleman turned stone-cracker. There need be no farther mysfcry — it was Harry Kennis. By dint of rigid economy he bad managed to get from Kenniston to Fort Adelaide, and thence to Melbourne, a steerage passenger throughout. On ar rival at the latter city he found himself almost penniless, but resolved on ac cotnDlishiue his purpose, sought for em
ployment of any description. He called on many acquaintances in the past days of pleasure to entreat their assistance. Not altogether unsuccessful he obtained an appointment in a merchant's office after long waiting. This though satis factory ou many accounts could not be retained for two or three reasons. In the first place Harry Kennis w*s emi nently unsuited for clerical work, having an inveterate distaste thereto, and being but a poor penman. In the second place the confinement proved unwhole some, perhaps because his previous life bad been spent in outd or occupations. Notwithstanding which ha kept to the desk bravely, determined to overcome unfitness if possible. The third reason, though last, was strongest, simply this, that Harrys employer found him such
an indifferent business mau, bad reck oner, unknowingly self assertive, and really useless that he discharged him at the first convenient opportunity. Then Helen's lover walked Melbourne streets for weeks, worse and worse in packet till a dinner became a luxury. Friends of former prosperity looked askance whenever he ue.t them, and finally dis carded him. To be continued in. tupr jiext. The greater the difficulty the morp glory in 6ii: mounting it. Skilful pilots gaiu their reputation from stjornis and ttn.p sts.