|Newspaper Title||The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946)|
|Trove Title||The Charm That Works|
It was not far from Christmas when Anthony returned from liis cruise, which he did in a list]ess, yawning, world-weary frame of mind. He had not enjoyed himself as he had expected to do, and wished he had remained in Melbourne at work, and given his old father a holiday instead. Tas mania had looked beautiful, to be sure, but he had seen too many things that were more so, and seen them too recently, to be impressed by its hills and streams; while the sea had no charm after his recent voyage. He had wholly depended on his company for entertainment, and his company had disappointed him. Few, indeed, can stand the test of such conditions as those under which they were expected to shine, as tinder a microscope, with double lustre and meaning (he had not stood it himself); and it was not surprising that the brilliant Lady Louisa had failed to substantiate her pretensions to be a clever woman, or that Mrs. Churchill had contrived to make a most kindly-disposed stepson hate her. Not, of course, that it was necessary' for Lady Louisa to show herself clever in order to captivate our hero, or any man; it was because her stupidity had led her to waste her blandishments on a brainless idiot of a whisky-drinking globetrotter, whose name was his only title to be called a gentleman, that it had manifested itself so unmistakably to her superseded slave. When the bookless, newspapcrless, trilling time was over, he stepped ashore with a sense of being released from an irksorfie bondage, and determined to keep dear of his late too close companions for many a long day. One only was excepted—an old chum and crony, who had accompanied him on the voyage from Eng land, a Queensland squatter, who lived nine months of the year in Melbourne—Adam Danesbury by name. Mr. Danesbniy had' afforded much amusement on board the yacht by boasting modestly of his recent engagement to a girl at home; showing her likeness, worn, in a locket on his watch-chain, to the ladies, and confidintr to them his plan few returning to marry and fetch her out as soon as he had got his northern ah wing over. The ladies thought it was so very' funny of him; any other man, they said, would have kept such a tiring as dark aa possible, under the circumstances. Bat Anthony Churchill, who had always made a friend of Danesbury, had never liked him ao well as he liked bun now.
" Come up to my place and dine with me tonight," lie said to him, as < the party were dispersing in the yard of lite 'railway station; "and lets have a quiet pipe and a little peace, after all this racket."
"All right,"said Mr, Danesbury; "I'mon.7
. 'J'hey spoke in low tones, like a couple pf conspirators.
? " Mr. Churchill! Mr. Churchill 1" oalled Lady Louisa from a Government house carriage, to which a callow aide had -escorted her. " What have I done that I should be neglected in this manner ! Are you not even going to say good-bye to me?"
Anthony advanced with his man-of-the-world courtliness, and. pressed her outstretched^raud. " No/' he said, " I never meau to say gopd-lrye to you—until I anr obliged." ;
" Au revoirftheu," she laughed. " You will come and see me soon f'
lie bowed-as to a queen, while the young A.D.C., whose erielmnlress she was at the moment, notwithstanding the fact that sire was almost old (enough to he his mother, glared ferociously.
" These conceited oolonials 1" he muttered to himself; " these trading cads, putting on the airs of gentlemeu i What presumption of the fellow to •peak in that tone to HElt 1"
" Tony," cried Maude, from the midst of her bogs and bundles, which her tuaidwas counting into the hands of a cabman, " you will see me safe home,
u Well, really, Maude, I don't see how you can help getting home safely,
ypnrpwn husband to take care of you," Tony replied, a little irritably
delighted to get his yPung wife baric again, was calling her
j V ydu don't want me now."
ys want you. And jron might come just for a cup
They'll be expecting you."
_ I must go home and get washed and decent."
rrt'get"waahed in onr house, where you've gptypur own
its'ofclothes lying in your drawers!"
j>^pt|roii pausteaouaeme now, really, Tjbere'flbe letters hings artmy chambers, waiting for me, aud i telegraphed tP
(and, when her carriage drove off,
into it with a aigh of relief. , drawing hi* rigar-opo to* fail
pocket " What fools women are! of them I get" .
It was great luxury to find himself in his own bachelor home, where the priceless Jar vis had even-tiling in order and ready -for him, and where he j was his own man, as he could never lie elsewhere. He had an iced drink, ? and read his letters, and glanced at half a dozen newspapers, lolling in his i sinrt-sleeves upon a sofa, with a pipe in his month and slippered feet in the 1 air; and then he had a bath and elaboiately dressed himself, putting a silk
| coat over his diamond-studded but restless under-garment; and Jarris set | the dainty dinner table, and Danesbnry arrived.
| " Come in, old fellow!" shouted the emancipated one, hearing his friend
in the hall. "Now we'll enjoy ourselves 1 Take off that black coat—no
| ladies to consider now; we may as well be cool and comfortable when we do
1 get the chance. Dinner ready, Jarvis ! All's vanity and vexation of spirit, i old man, except one's dinner. Thank God, we've still got that to fall back
| " We've got something more than that to fall back upon, let us hope/
said Mr. Danesbnry, smiling. " At any rate, I have."
j "Oh, youf You've got Miss Lennox to fall back on, of course. But we
are not all so lucky."
" What's happened 'to you, thatyou should class yourself with the unlucky ones? But I know ; Lady Louisa .hasn't appreciated you. I can quite understand that yon feel bad about it, being so little accustomed to such
" Hang Lady Louisa! A battered old campaigner, with no more heart or brains than a Dutch doll 1 I Bhouki be Borry to feel bad over a woman of
" Lord knows. A troubled conscience, perhaps, for having wasted so much valuable time. Dinner, as I said before, will restore me. Sit
They sat down, and did justice to Jarvis's preparations. Anthony's little dinners were famous amongst dining men, who knew better than to disturb enjoyment and digestion with too much conversation while they were in progress; but when this meal had reached the.stsge of liqueur and coffee and cigarettes, the two friends fell into very confidential talk.
" What yon want," said Adam Danesbnry, " is to get married, Tony.'
" Why," said the host, " you've been the loudest of us all in denouncing those bonds—till now. The world has not changed because you have 'verted to the Philistines. Because you've lost jour tail, is that, any reason why we should cut off ours?"'
" That's all very well while we're young and foolish," said Mr. Danesbnry sedately (he was a sedate person always, bat " a devil of a fellow," all the same, at times). " And 1 denounce the tiling still, when it's nothing but i
buying and Belling business, like what we so often see. But get a good girl, Tony—a girl like my girl—one wbo doesn't make a bargain of you, but loves the ground yon walk on, though you may go barefoot—then it's all right Think of our advanced age, if you please. Byron was in the sere and yellow leaf before he was as old as I am, and yon are close up. Twenty years hence we shall be old fogies, and we shall have lost our appetite for cakes, if not for ale, and they will shunt us into corners; then we shall want our girls and boys, to ruffle it in bur place. If we don't look sharp,
those girls and boys won't be there, Ton}', and it will feel lonely—I know it j will." ]
"These be the words of wisdom," said Tony, reflectively. " I must con- j fess I had forgotten about the girls and boys." j
" Oh, but, apart from them, it's a mistake to put it off, after a certain time of life—that is, of course, if you can find the right sort of woman. For God's sake, don't go and throw yourself away on one of these society girls, j What a fellow wants is a home, and they don't seem to know the meaning of tiie.word."
"How would you describe the right sort of woman?" asked Anthony, pushing the wine towards his friend.
" I would say, a woman like Rose Lennox."
"Yes, of course—naturally. Only, unfortunately, 1 don't know Miss Lennpx."
" I wish you did, Tony. If you had come down to my father's place, as I wanted you to, you would have met her. However, you will see her before long, I trust."
Anthony spread his arms over the table, and looked curiously at the man in whom Miss Lennox had wrought so great a change.
" Tell me about her, will you, old fellow?" be said. "Tell me, so that I may know what the right woman' is like, when I do happen to see her."
Mr. Danesbnry was nothing Joth. He, too, spread his arms on the table, with an air of preparation, having placed bis unconsumed cigarette in the
ash-tray beside him.
11 Well, in the first place, I must tell you she is poor," he began. "But
she's none the worse for that."
" No, the better—the better!" cried Anthony, delighted. " I believe ifs just money that spoils than all."
" Though she's poor, she's the most perfect lady that ever stepped." The host nodded comprehendingly.
" Her father has the parish next to my father's; old Lennox got the living after I left home. Ifs supposed to be worth two-fifty, but if he gets two ifs as much as be does; and there are seven children. My Rose is the eldest— twenty-three next birthday."
" Yes?" Anthony had left off smoking, and was listening as men seldom
listened to this love-sick swain.
" The way I knew her first—my sisters gave a garden party—you know those little clerical garden parties?—parsons and their wives and daughters from miles round, coming in their washed frocks and their little basket carriages; and two of the Lennox girls were there—nice, interesting little things, but not Rose. We had three tennis afternoons before I knew of her existence; I used to hear my siBters say ' Why don't you make Rose come?* but never took any heed—until ope day I ltad to drive some oftbern home, because a storm was coming, and they hadn't any carriage; and just as I got there the storm burst, apd I Went in to wait till it was over. And there I sa w that girl—my Rose—sitting at a table, mending Btockings, with half a dozen little brats Saying their lessons to her. This wsb what. Bhe did every day—sewed, and kepthoase, and taught the children, while her sisters went out to play tennis. She said it was so good for them to have a little recrea tion—as if she wasn't to' be thonght of at all. Tbaf 6 the sort of woman she
Anthony stretched oat his hand. "Show me that locket again, will
Adam Danesbnry detached watch and chain, and pushed them over the table. "It don't do her justice," he said, tenderly. "She's got hair that you can see yourself in, and a complexion like milk; the colour comes and goes with every word you say to her, and lier expression changes in the same way. Photograph}' always fails with people of that sort, Still—there
Photography had evidently not done justice to Miss Lennox. The ladies on the yacht had called her dowdy, and insignificant, and plain, wondering at Mr. Danesbnry's taste; but, helped by that gentleman's description of her, Anthony made out a sweet and modest face, which held his gaze for several minutes. Her lover watched him eagerly—this accomplished oon
noissenr of women—and swelled with pride to see her so appreciated. j
" Well T be sajfl, cliallengingly.
" Well," said Anthony, as he snapped the locket, " she's a charming creature, and you ore an enviable fellow."
" I am that," rejoined the lover, re-opening the case before hanging it to his button-hole. "And I shall be a great deal more enviable this time next yeM^pleoseGodi'' ' ' !
This conversation haunted our young man all night, and drove him in the' morning to the.tea-rboia, in serious pursuit of the right kind of woman, if haply she might be foond there. To his surprise and consternation the
bird had flown.
" Notill, I tyjwtr.Wsrid in alarm, at the end of five restless minutes, daring which Ijad so^lYteken the screen. j / '
Sarah was arranging thefiowers he had just brought her. She had patiently wattedfor this question, "No,"she said, with a nonchalant air. "Sheuw ill-very Ul indeed—bat *he ia *U right now."
- - -•* *£
"Just now she is. She wanted a change ao badly, poor dear."
"Yes. They are most kind to her. Itwas just whatahe wanted, for she was quite wont out The hard work at Cup time prostrated her."
'Tut awfully aorry tohear it. You are sure aha is all right again r
" Oh, quite. They weigh her every now and then, and she lias cait,^
half a atone."
" In this hot weather, too! Evidently it is doing her good. The sea I suppose!" 1
"No. Mountains. At least I suppose they are mountains—1 never was
" Yon must miss her very muchf
" Dreadfully. And I am afraid she worries about us. But the room, goes on all right. Lnciuda Allonby is a cat, bnt Bhe is smart at waiting; and her aunt is a good souL She is regularly in the partnership now."
" Yes. Did you say your sister had gone to Heolesville!"
" No, I didn't."
She langed mischievously, and Anthony laughed too, his bronzed cheek
" What thenf lie pleaded. " Come, tell me, there's a good child."
" I Bhonld have thought you'd known," aaid Sarah, playing with his grow
! "How was I to know anything, away on the sea!" <
| "I should have thought Mrs. Oxenham wouldhave written to yon."
" Of course she has written to me. I got two letters from her last night
But she haa been out of town aa long as I have."
i " Not quite as long. She stayed a few davs after you left, and then she went home; and she took Jenny with her."
" What r Anthony- almost bounded from his chain " Took Jenny to
Wandooyamba t As her guest ?'
Sarah nodded carelessly. "Wasn't it good of her! She found Jenny looking very ill, and she said she must have a change and rest And we hurried to get her clothes ready and fix up an evening dress for her, and off die went, and there-she. lias been ever since."
" Ever win™*," groaned Anthony. " While I have been dawdling on that
cursed yacht. If I'd only known "
" I don't see," said Sarah, demurely, " what it has to do with you."
She was a little sore about his long desertion, and wanted to know what it
before she permitted herself to be confidential.
| He plumped down on his seat in front of her. " It has everything to do with roe," he said, " everything. Sarah—I am going to call you Sarah from
this moment—shall I tell gou something!" ! She looked at him, holding her breath.
I " You must keep it a secret for a little while, until I know whether she will have me. I am going to ask Jenny to be my wife."
He met her eyes boldly, for he had made up his mind; and she, seeing him serious and determined, clasped her hands in a speechless ecstasy of gratitude to Heaven for its goodness to her.