Chapter 138621480

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Chapter NumberX
Chapter Title
Chapter Url
Full Date1891-12-19
Page Number6
Word Count2835
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946)
Trove TitleThe Charm That Works
article text

Chapter X.

" Dear Polly.—Man}* thanks for yours, which I got both together last night Wc only returned yesterday, Or I would have written before. I am glad you found all well at home, and that the kiddies were pleased with their presents. Give them my love. Tell Ilarry I will see about the baggy

and the stores at once; the latter shall go up by goods train to-morrow. I suppose he wants the waggonette big enough to hold you all—something like the old one, only lighter. It might hare been rather serious that smash. He's too risky with his half-broken cattle and his fancy driving, wdUiotEmily always was a fiend incarnate. If she belonged to me Td

" I didn't have such a gaudy time as you seem to think, I'm snre I don't know what I went for, unless it was to get cool, which there was little chance of in a boat so crowded. Lord Nettlpbury made a beast of himself as usual, regardless of the ladfes, who pretended not to see it just because it wfts NetOebuiy. I told Maude they disgraced themselves more than he | did', by their indulgence of him; but women are all alike—or nearly all it was sickening to see them fawning over the disgusting little brute, who

ought to have been pitched overboard.

" Danesbury is the best of fellows—mad on his little English fiancee, and with no eyes for anybody else. They chaffed him unmercifully, but he liked it She has wonderfully improved him. He says they are going to live in the country when she comes out and he's looking for a place in this colony not too fatiguingly for from town. He's in the right there. Melbourne isn't wholesome. I'm sick of it myself—that is, I'm side of streets, which are the same everywhere, and of sea, and of men and women who make a child's game of life. I want a sniff of the bush air before I settle down, and 1 think I'll run up to you to-morrow night when Fve seen about Harry's com* missions. We have hardly bad a good talk since I came back, and the kids will be forgetting me. Our step-mother has been rather getting on my nerves lately; it will be a relief to be out of her reach for a day or two. And my liver (perhaps tiiats why I've been bo bored) wants horse exercise after so much loafing. Hal and I will bare some rides together, tell him. I suppose the poor little beggars have done school, and are in the full swing of holidays by now. They won'tobject to a few more toys for Sauta Claus's stocking, I daresay. I will bring you up some fish in ice, if I can get them fresh enough.—Yours affectionately, A. Churchill."

The writer of this letter posted it at the G.P.O. while spending his after' noon about town, buying buggies and Christmas presents for his sister's family, consequently it went up country by the 6 o'clock express, and Mrs. Oxenham received it before noon next day. No answer was expected or required, and therefore Tony was surprised and annoyed to get a telegram from her, just as he was thinking it time to change his clothes for his journey, to say— " Come to-morrow if equally convenient. Meet yoa night train."

" What the deuce—oh, here, Jarvis, hold on a int. Confound the—what on earth does she mean ! Can't have got that great house fall of guests, so that there. isn't a comer for me to sleep in-i-that would be too absurd* Going out, perhaps—hot she wouldn't stop me for that Can't be Jenny-r she'd stop me altogether U she meant that,. It's a dashed nuisance any

how." • . • ............

; The tracking was stayed, and he mooned a way to the club, because he didn't know what else to do with himself. He. was lost fpr,want of oocupa" tion, and ridiculously angry at having to kick his heels for twenty-four hours for no earthly purpose, that he could see. There was nothing to do or to interest one—(here never is under these circumstances ; his journey put back at the last moment, he was stranded until it could be put on again*

So he drifted to the club.

There ho found his lather. It was the old gentleman's habit to play tennis after business, to keep his fat down—a habit formed long yeara be fore the lawn variety of the game liod been invented ; and Tony found hnu

hard at it, and watched him listlessly. . .

As soon as Mr. Churchill was aware of his son's presence, he exclaimed, " Why, I thought yon were off to Wandooyamba to-night? "

" Going to-morrow," returned Tony. .. And, when the game was over, the father said, " Come out and dine wi ns to-night, boy. You are deserting os altogether these days, and I \e go

lot of business ! want to talk over with yon."

Tony recognised that it was his duty to accede, because he really baa

neglecting his father (but that was Maude's fault); and he acceded acco

ingly, as cheerfully as lie could. Jim-vis having been informed by telep < the two gentlemen walked to the bridge, and took tram together, an

presently seen by, Maude ,ftpm her bedroom -window saontenng p garden, affectionately arm in arm. She dashed aside the gown

teen chosen for the evening, and called for Mra. Earl's latest—a

brocade, full of gold threads, that was very splendid. . Tftorak

Ahtkony bad leisurely dressed himself in the clothes be kept " , ia for these cbnnoe occasions, and: was pulling hia coat lappets straight oier Mg chest, when he beard ber knock on bis door. .

"Tkstyoo. motherf'he called. '{Sowlueyoar .

$0b, Tony! Are you ready, Tony!" she called back.

" Yes—no, not quite. I shan't be long." .. »want to s" ?' Do—do make hsttf *"l< ookne downstairs. I've something I wan to yoo—very particularly—before the otters owns dowa»

!• Ail rigbW I won't te (uaiMtfc*

fought lie wulddawdle p* until. he baud the «ofu „

-hQ>v~°ntbe stAlia •'tben be bought he might as wdl a U,, WaJ secret was. It was nerersafe to put her off rT. *hat the won

ItvopgtimeBitkept bottled up too lon<T * " 6he**»liableto bJk

Be found her pacing up and down the iong drawing .

.in let face, all the gold drops on the crape front of ifeTTJ exci^nt

tbe stiff tram scratching oret the earner. L staging and

Wic almost rushed at •ffiDkling'mco

!" R-liefl he appeared.


-^J-SStli admitting that lie was. "And what then?"

^ »«he said, laying her heavily diamonded hand upon his arm.

- . gays you are going up i$ Wandooyamha."


"Oh, indeed 1 And pray, madam, who are you to rri •

that wis dnx of my school when you were in your ciadleT 0rfew~««» I

~ „d. j

* to obey them. And I say you are not to go to Wandooyamha."

^ if a mother is to issue commands of that sort, and in that tone of voice,


least she can do is to give her masons for them." ? i

"""i" "? J""*-*"#*-. perw-. that I don't choose youto associate with."

^nd ,vho may that person be?; A he or a die?"

"You know quite well, -so don't pretend you don't."

»I know nothing," said Tony mendaciously, "and «« t

information. Icannot imagine Mary,associating with anybod^T1- ?

ft to associate with me. ; But perhaps It is I who am

jlfa ftmightr swell that Tm not stood enough ffrr?" ' ^b°fl

">'o swell at ail-quite the ttonttery. ffs that tea-room ^ri »i. m

jldiercyon knew all the time, Only youiifce to put that mask^^^0"5'


T°tkn0girl, that she made such on absurd faa about She wasn't well, ddtto' took her to Wamiooyamba to ream?, and she's there now."

"I don't see what that baa to do with me," said he in a stalely way; and ketried to mb« away from hra.

Haode clotehed him with both hands round hit arm, and moved with bim. "If it doesn't matter now, it will matter when you get under the time roof with her. Oh ["—looking up at him—" you did know she was there, and you are going after her 1 You used to sneak to the tea-room on the sly-heaps of people have told me--Und now you are going to Wendoo jjmba just on purpose to make love to her—I can see it in your face, though yon lave your mask on! Oh, Tony dear, don't—don't be a naughty, had hoy-formysake!"

"If I have ever been bad—bad towomen," said Tony, removing his mask," that time is over. Don't distress yourself. If I should by chance make love to Miss Liddon, it will be quite respectably, I assure you.

" But that would be worse /" shrieked Maude, coming to a stand-still in the middle of the room, horrified. "Oh, Tony, what are yon tilting about—you, that have always been bo fastidious! A tea-room girl! Oh, you are only trying to aggravate me! I didn't save yon from Lady Louisa to have yon throw yourself away on a tea-room girl!"

He almost shook her, be was so angry with her. " May I ask yon to be go tot good as to mind your own business, and allow me to manage mine," he said, with a sort of cold fury in his voice and eyes. It was not the tray a son should speak to his mother, indeed, it was quite brutal, but he could not restrain himself, and she, looking at him, guessed what the sodden wge portended.

"It is my business," she retorted, with equal passion. " It is my family's bosiness—it is all our businesses—to see that we are not disgraced."

" Disgraced 1" he drawled, with bitter amusement. " Good Lord 1"

The white gauze over her bosom heaved like foam on a flowing tide, the gold drops studding it shook like hare-bells in q breeze.

"Tony," she burst out fiercely, " I shall tell your father of you."

• She swept out of the room.-an&heheard her long tail scraping over the tiies elthe hall, and rustling up the broad stairs.

' "Little devil," he muttered in his teeth; and then he laughed, and his eyes cleared, and he went out upon the colonnaded verandah and walked up and down, with his hands behind him till the gong clanged for dinner.

Sedately he marched into the diningroom and stood by tbe table, be and the tenants, all silent alike, waiting for host and hosteso to oome down

Btairs. Then jn flounced Uteade,^y^ugli|te4ngjvhitenps, with her head,

up, and a wicked fla^f|MunJj|j3py^^|^i^ thewooden stare oi her stepson; and bet husba^j^wedJatlhftr hedb/futtire^ &iwneittfr troubled -ppretendingC;jfotithe wtofrell.aad foiling to cornice even the foqtjsuue^hat T^iy was at onoe aware that Me had * told ids father of him,*fted*ll through dinner he was trying to forecast :^iiat thewsqttqrould l>& She sparkled balefully forhj^tiittfo trying to tetoe him lain d^pptatioua tijk; but hfojoold inesponri|Eness j to^teth^8ilepiDelooi, tmyie ramBms.of wfeti^gfcftoeirthathinted at

morse and tears. It was a dismal nteaL ^Riien it was happily at an end,

^hewseirpm her plate bf-*trawboril^|he ngiirhfd to the door and

IjEti it open for her, standing stiffly, like a soldier sentinel. She looked at hniijappealingly, and whispered "Forgive me," as she swept slowly out; but he stared stonily over her head and took no notice.

Shutting the door sharply behind her, he returned to his seat at tee table. The gliding servants vanished, and his father pushed the winp towards him. There was a long silenqe, which he would not break. The qW man cleared his throat a few times, and smacked his lips over his old poht At jastthrir

(yes met, and the spell was lifted. :

"11 hat's this, my boy, about—about poor Liddon's daughter ?"

(Anthony laid a broad palm over his father's curled hand on the tabic Don t let us talk of it here, daddy," he said, with gruff gentleness. " Finish Jour wine comfortably. Then we'll go into the smoking-room, and I'll tell

Jou all about it"

Mr. Churchill brisked up, tossed off his port, and was ready for the tooking-room at onoe. It was detached from thf. boo??, and its French, doors opened upon a the ihoqp. d|aone between the shadows of shrubs and toeesl lri%>yjieff '*V^>b>f^g towffds the Ihreahbjd,

lit their pipes, but not tKesamps, and talked and talked in tbe cooling Wight until all was explained and each man slowly satisfied.

Tl ell, well, there's something in that. Oh, she's a good girl—as good as "J? Date 'em—teati ow*. M^NtiWfiPtiPerhaps-f^ 1 >

the laqt&fmi. And if 4t wf** to jfoll til

^Ay; that's ydsMnqdottUoI that

- I'm, towliommoneyiBeverything."

un, 1 e8> wbftt a home &U the time 1 And, tiien, the children "

^ eoo<^ daughter makes a good mnthex. .Rise's got the makings I

"JUv™ (dwavs a sign."

"I Jm*" i ^onr motbet had that way." .^member she had."

a good daughter makes a good .

» uiother in her—anybody can see teat' trr°T''^ "You should have seen her with little .Multhbrftfd "»d

""''"idsand mouths when they had j^vhber

And the little brats took to hec fo®

i. "" -



f before I ^ U"^r "she'd

J^Mh-tub, and ironing m/X? aod cookiag my *"***•

^Jaudtoanything-fqtmq."! 1 ,' i f .

Like my Jeuny." £ -a. *—•???? ' w for that sort of

H But it's odd to see a swell fellow like you curing to

'^1 J°Q've ^ broufi^t upso differently." liat«»fMt» *t'*

ftrhaps its my mother's nature cropping outAaiae*

I've Been »

0]. temember teat! Ah, you don't remember what Blie waB in the

taye, before I mnSe<w>.. mr.nv',a « lime Fve see* he* at

"Too J f6611 *°° m«oh, sir." "Tito *bat?"

of the sort that I know don't make good wives-at I

#aV^^^Wour,,inotlier; Ae wss

I shoitd^ve btetijfor

P ^ suck to me|

i know she'll be good to me. and take care oi m i

thick and thin." *~Ji

- *0ttmu8t stick to her, too, Tony." .

'No feat, A man couldn't play the beast, witha wife of that sort; at least, I hope not I a pattern husband."

After the third pipe he roseup stealthily.

( "I'M iast go and change myclothes and get home to bed," he said. " Say good-night to Hande for me. I won't disturb her again."

"Good-night, my hoy. And you may tell her I've given my consent,ifc you like. Only, mind you, we shall have to abolish .the tea-room, for the

sake of the family."

"We'll hand it over to the basket-maker's wife, and that fellow in the

office must make a home for his remaining relatives. Good-night, dad—

good old dad!"

I He stole up to his room and changed his clothes, stole down again and out into the moonlit garden. As the road gate clicked behind him, he saw | the front-door open, and in the effulgent aperture a white figure that glittered vaguely. A wailing note came through the scented dusk. .


"Good-night," he colled hack, and turned to ran towards an approaching tram. He made bis voice as cheerful and kindly as he could, for he forgave her now; but he said to himself, "Oh, you little Jezebel!" and then, in a graver spirit, " Thank God, my Jenny is not one of that breed!"

He went home to bed, and slept like a new-born baby. Next morning he went early to the tea-room to tell Sarah that his lather had given his con sent and good wishes, and to inquire if Jenny was still at W&ndooyairiba because Mary's telegram had made him nervous. Sarah said her sister was ! with Mm. Oxenham still, and not to return till after Christmas; and Sarah wept a little for pure happiness, and kissed her potential brother behind the screen. He would have spoken to lbs. Liddon, as suitor to guardian, | before going away; but she was hoBy with bet scones, and the girl declared

they would all be spoiled and the credit of the tea-room ruined if 'such a surprise were sprung upon her at Buch a time. So he left the matter in Sarah's hands, and went away and did some more shopping; bought a beautiful little ring with a pea-sized pearl in it, in addition to fish and lollies. No more telegrams arrived, and Jarvis took the portmanteau to the station', and stood the crush of tioketgetting, and put his master's coat and the evening papers into the best comer of the smoking earriage nn the express and at 4.55 the happy man was borne upon his way, feeting'certeSri that he was to see the wife he had promised himself before he went to~bed that night. .. ... - - ...»i