Chapter 96945419

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Chapter NumberXXV
Chapter TitleMyra Takes a False Step.'
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article96945419
Full Date1900-11-15
Page Number3
Corrections0
Word Count1903
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleSouthern Argus (Port Elliot, SA : 1866 - 1954)
Trove TitleLights and Shadows
article text LIGHTS and SHADOWS. ByKyra Keith, Authoress of'Pains and Penalties,' ' Divided Lives, 'etc All rights reserved by authoress. Continued from our last issue. CHAPTEE XXV.—' Myra Takes a False Step. ' *' reeling is deep and still, And the word that floats on the surface, Is as the tossing buoy that betrays where The anchor lies hidden.' Longfellow. June had come and gone without a birth day ball this year ; the idea was distasteful tj both girls — to Monica on account of poor Tommy's tragic death ; to Myra for reasons of her own — and the date which was usually the day of davs to the sisters Da-:sed almost without comment. Monica had feared that Myra would insist umoii keeping up the time-honoured custom, but Myra had her own memories, and they were uot altogether pleasant ones, she could not forget the feverish exaltation ending in feelings of miserable abasement which she had experienced upoa the night o( the last tiinhday ball. It was now a doubly marked epoch iu the lives of both sisters, and notwith standing that Myra had obtained the coveted prize, was no happier now than then, Brian, it is true, was still bound to her, but she knew as well as he himself that his bonds were a burden, and galled and fretted him. There were times when she almost hated him for his iudifferenre to herself, and iiis carefully con cealed love for Monica ; the hungry light in his eyes when following her sisters' retreating figure as it left a room, maddened and tortured her, and led her to use all sorts of exasperat ing devices to punish him. She could not well have been more wretched had she let events take their natural course, and Brian and Monica: be happy, together, but she inter fered, 5nd peace and content folded their wings and departed, leaving sorrow and heart ache in their place. Gilbert's advent, too, was an added source of vexation to her, she was jealous of him ; in his presence Brian was once more himself, bright, happy, full of anecdote and reminis cence, the vexations present for the time for gotten. There was so much to recount, so many years of separation to bridge over, such gaps to fill up that it took from the time Myra jealously regarded as her own, she had become exacting because the homage paid her was forced, and not real. Monica was away when Gilbert came home to Poonee, had been away for many weeks, her health had not been satisfactory, she fret ted for Tommy, and the constant restraint of Brian's presence told upon her. She was ordered a change and went to Sydney ; now she was at home again, but still looking frail and delicate. She was, however, neither dull nor listless, she had suffered and lost much, but still her faith in the ' Altogether Good ' was strong, and satisfied and comforted her, even though she was nO't always able to trace tis workings. She was gathering June roses, pinkpet alled and saffron-tinted in the garden round the house, both hands full when Brian first saw h^rafer her return. Ti.io .'ing them all down she turned quickly to greet him, with hands extended, and a bright, glad look on her face as she exclaimed in her clear, sweet tones : ' Oh, Brian, I am so glad for you, so glad ! I have seen your brother, and like him so much. How splendid it is for you to find one another after all these years. Oh, I am so glad!' It was the first spontaneous outburst, the first bright, glad words he had heard from her since she had crept out from his presence in the giey twilight with that lie still lingering upon her lips. She looked so like the Monica of old in this moment of her selffor getlulness, tint Brian's heart rose in his throat, and he had a hot, stinging sensation in his eyes of up-welling tears, as he took both her hands in his own and held them there. '?' Thank you, dear, thank you, 1 knew you would appreciate old Gil, he is a grand fellow.' lie was looking down at her as he spoke, looking tenderly into her eyes with all his own, the past ; the unhappy misery of the present was for this moment all forgotten ; they were alone together, and he loved her, loved her with his whole heart, but while he looked he marked her shrunken, hollow cheeks, and the dark lines beneath her eyes with the delicate transparency of her skin, and his heart smote him. ' Monicaf he exclaimed, ' what have you been doing with yourself? Have you been ill while you were away ?' ' No, I am very well, thank you,' she said quickly, lowering her eyes. ' Then you are unhapny,'_he said, bitterly, 'you are fretting. Monica, what is it,, tell me ?' '' Tommy, pooi little Tommy,' she- almost sobbed, ' oh, Brian, he died tor me.' 'Died for you?' Then she remembered and stammered out a vague explanation. 11 He was on his way to- do something for me, something he thought would please ma — when he met his death. Poor Tommy, poor child, I can't forget it,' she moaned piteously. ' My poor love, oh, my poor love !' This realled her to their danger — what strange thing had come over them to make them forget like this ? She did not realize that when the flood gates are open the torrent will have its way. It was so sweet to have his sympathy, so sweet to see the lovelight once more in his eyes, but there was danger for them both, he was not hers, and not for nought must be the sacrifice of the long year that stretched behind with three times the usual number of days in its length. So she stooped to gather up the roses, the pink-petalled and saffron-tinted roses, her own cheeks now emulating the fairest among them all ; she did not look at Brian any more, did not answer his low-voiced sympathy, she could not pain or repulse him just then, her heart was so full and he so dear, so she gath ered up the flowers and left, him standing there, and he understood it all, the pain, the remorse, the love that was tearing at her heart ; knew alsp that these few seconds of bliss must be paid for by days and weeks of iresh renunciation. Brian's heart was passionate and sore with pain for them both, and the sweet serenity of Monica's peace was for the time disturbed ; but worse than either, because the conse qusnees weie far-reachiig, Myra had beheld the little drama from her window upstairs, beheld and misinterpreted the whole — she had seen Monica throw doivn the flowers and extend both hands eagerly to Brian with glad words on her lips, she had seen, too jthe pas sionate gleam in Brian's face as he took and held bo:h those hands in his own it was all a dumb show to her, she could not hear what was said, but she looked on with angry eyes until she saw Monica's confusion and hasty retreat, and drew her own conclusions ; bit terness rankled and festered in her mind, and one word ' traitor ' kept repeating itself, but her own conscience prevented her naming it to either of the others. After this day there were weeks of rain, heavy driving blasts which beat and rattled upon the windows, howled about the chimneys and wailed at the keyholes, sweeping blinding sheets of hail before it on a wet west wind. The garden was desolate, soaked and sodden, ' where Jaie the sweet flowers dwelt ' : the roses hung heavy disconsolate heads full of unshed tears ; the wind whirled away the last red glory from the Virginian creeper, and beat down the small starry crowns in a white shower from the lauristina bushes, carried off the last lingering yellow leaves from decidu ous trees, and sobbed and 8 irieked that there were no more to follow. The babbling brook of summer was a swollen, turbid torrent, and grey, sad skies were over all. Then all at once one morning the sun shone out again clear and large, taking no shame to himself either that he had suffered eclipse for quite a stretch of weeks. All in the nights the skies had been swept dean and clear by some giant broom, and the driving wrack of clouds moved further on to do bene ficent work elsewhere. It was wonderful, too, how quickly all nature lifted itself out of its despairing atti tude and took on fresh courage, the flowers liftedup their rain-washed faces, fresh liuds of promise opened out and smiled, birds plumed their lately dripping feathers and began to think of spring and nest-building, and cast an eye around tot probable mates ; human hearts, too, which are as sensitive as the rest of nature to the prevailing spirit of the atmos phere, shook off the unnamed despondency which had been saddening them and rejoiced. It was the sunshine which suggested that Gilbert should be taken to see the lakes, the s'ght pat excellence of the neighbourhood ; it was the Sunshine, too. whirh w.-i« nremintalilp for the further climb up the rough, steep slope of the Mount, that Monica and Myra might show all the glories of their native place to Brian and Gilbert. Like a battlement the hoary hill fences in the Valley Lake, steep, precipitous ; lava ro.k and loose stoue sloping down sheer to water's edje; the summit peaked and pointed with heaped-up, water-worn rocks. It was upon the very crown that the little party at last halted 10 view the panorama like view spread out before them in the mellow sunshine ; the waters 'of tnree lakes glimmered and shone beneath them, the fair town with its luxurious gardens and clean white houses lay on their left, and everywhere vegetation was fertile and abundant ; it was a sight not to be forg-tien and could not have been viewed under better auspices, so they all agreed. After a while Gilbert, with Monica as his guide sauntered on to inspect the Mount from a fresh coign of vantage, and Brian and Myra were left alone together. For a monism Brim watched the departing couple, the next turned to Myra with a fresh weariness and impatience in his bearing ? suddenly seating himself upon a great boulder he drew Myra down beside him, and began to speak rapidly and excite Jly. ' Myra, what are we waiting for, we were to have been married months ago ? I do not mean to wait any longer, what need is there for delay, let it be next month, next -week, as soon as possible ; make it as quiet as can be, and then we will roam all round the world to gether — you are fond of fine seenery, I will show you the best the world can produce, India, America, Switzerland, Italy. Let us go ac once. Would you not wish of all things to be forever on the move, I would ?' To be concluded.