|Newspaper Title||Sydney Mail (NSW : 1860 - 1871)|
|Trove Title||Which Wins? A Tale of Life's Impulses|
WHICH WINS ?
A TALB OF LIFE'S IMPULSES.
' L»r not that flattering unction to your gouL I mutt l-e cruel, only to be kind. When eorrorn come, they oome nol .ingle snies, But in battalion!.' 1 1AXM.I. Bue&kfmt on the next morning wu a weary meal to me. My father came — not, aa uiual, smiling and chatty from a vigoioua morning walk— but bom hia study, with hit brow knit by t frown of thought that luilwl ftlmnst liko iiifTprinir. Henrv ctmc from hitt
room pale and wan, with a suppressed fire gleaming in his eyes, and assuming a constrained air of merri. ment that I liked wone than that of pssitive severity which he had Utterly worn. ' His sleep had been broken and unrelrcshing,' be said ; but I doubted that he had slept at 'all when I looked on his parched lips and burning eyes, and felt the clammy heat of bis hand : one does not rise from repose with such ferer in the frame. With those two vehement men, each brooding over a trouble of hu own, secret and self-gnawing, I, a passionate girl, possessed by a wearing Becret that was mysterious to myself — con. sciousofa love I could never return— aware of a mortal injury I had unwittingly inflicted on one I loved as dearly as myself, and standing in the strange shadow of a near womanhoed, made a third : we were a peaceful family truly. It was well for me that my father was so completely iounsraed in his own thoughts, for I could not but become embarrassed by the marked emphasis in the t jnes and glances of his younger brother. That some new purpose, which boded trouble and vexation for me, was working in his mind I could see clearly ; and I knew it must be met bravely by myself, because, by reason of our family relations, there was no means of escaping him for any length of time. Therefore, I hastily deter mined to let his communication come as soon as pos sible, whatever it might be. My father partook of the meal in silencc, but had my heart known then what it now knows, it would have differently con strued the one or two strange iooks of his, when he raised his eves so slowly and wearily, and fixed their gsze ao sadly upon first one and then the other ot his companions. Then I supposed them the vacant rovings of eyes whose Bight was turned inwards upon his own thoughts. Had I known their real meaning, I Bhould have sprung to him, and should have found my natural resting-place amid all that turmoil. Foot pale, faded tyeB ! poor drawn, sad lips ! My own agony blinded me, then and thereafter, to his agony, ot which ye were tne witnesses, although to me there was none other heart so dear, But ne rose and lefc the room mere hastily than was his usual habit, taking from ushis bowed, spiritless form, and 1 felt no wish to follow him. H\d I known the future that was coming, I had at lesst, I think, gone after him, and prayed his blessing to upbear me. But God, in mercy, spared me a from a knowledge which must have unfitted me for that which I had to perform. I did not follow him. I had been nerving myself through the whole meal to meet another altercation with Henry, and had worked myself into a feverish haste to get it over and done with. It was, after all this preparation, almodt ridiculous to find that his first words were a proposal to ride to Quebec Hock, a height some four miles from home, which I waa fond of visiting, because it commanded a very beautiful view of the surrounding country. I assented eagerly, being still in the same mood to get over a disagreeable difficulty by rushing at and overleaping it. We were soon upon our way, but yet were not destined to stand upon Quebec Rock. Looking back to that day, I see how much it was like Henry to choose the awkward position of a horse back tide for Mich a conversation as was to foils w. With his large disdain of matters of pure feeling, he yet found a few feelings in his own heart which he could not dismiss : it was like him to use them in as ignoble a manner as circumstances would permit. It was thoroughly in keeping for him to draw rein in the midst of a brisk canter, that was almost driving the thought of impending woes from my head, and bring me back to earth again with a start. But it was very little in keeping with his customary placidity that the hand he laid on mine, under pretence of shortening my bridle, should falter, or that the voice with which he addressed me should be bo unsteady. 'Isola, dearest,' be commenced, 'you have shown yourself a good, true frien i, and be assured that you have done bo will raise your merit in my eyea.' I looked up in displeased surprise. I was apt at yielding, and so I had never before felt the assump tion of authority on his part irksome. But this was too much : I was not in the agitated state in whieh he had before foand me, and though I had not lost a pure affection to this companion of my girlhood, I never before felt so little disposed to submit to his
aeepouc style 01 language. A answered quieuy, x hoped, without any peculiar egotism, that whenever I occupied the position of a friend, I might deserve to be called both good and true, but that I was not aware in what especial instance I had awakened his ajnrobation.' lie replied sadly, ' I am doomed, it seems, Isola, to offend you with whatever phrase I use. But hear me patiently for a short time, while I make one more effort to save your happiness and my own from being wrecked upon a misunderstanding.' ' I exclaimed petulantly at this, ' You do right to consider your own happiness, but I doubt if anything you can say will affect mine in one way or other.' I could not provoke him as I hoped : he smiled a smile that had no joy in it, and said calmly, ' Isola, will you not, if even only for the sake of old friend ship, listen to me with a little patience ?' ' I was moved by that, and answered, ' For the sake of our present friendship, which I trust shall never be btoken, I will listen, to you, Henry.' 'Thank yon,' he said gravely ; 'yon do me a favour. But my presence will not trouble your very limited friendship, should the result of this interview be other than I desire.' I looked a question for answer. ' It will depend on whether I remain at home or not,' he con tinued. This was presenting to me a trouble I had not yet contemplated. To consult Henry's wishes, to comply with his frequent requests, to labour for his tardy ap Drobation and enjoy it as only such hardwon pleasures can be enjoyed : aU these had hitherto been part of my daily routine of existence, since that day on which he taught me to fathom the mysteries of glorious old Bunyan. How, then, was I to do without him f It coBt me a pang to look the thought in the face, and, actuated by the painful impulse it gave, I forgot my position, dropped my reins, and clasping my hands, entreated, 11 Don't go, Henry ; I don t think I could bear you to go.' ' What !' he said ; 'you care for me, then r ' Yes ; I can't bear that you should go.' 'Well, Isola, you have the power to keep me. t i.-™ » ...iirinn «n «lr nf voii. When I snoke
WUW M. IIOVC B W V. JV-. .. - -r ? ? to you the other day on— on— ft subject that did not meet your liking, tell roe, did you know or suspect the secret which that unhappy girl revealed last evening ?' t 'I knew it.' 'Fromherr' 'From her, about an hour previously; from my own observations since we were children together.' 'Strange,' he murmured, 'that I should have been so blind, who thought my sight the strongest.' ' How could you see that of which you do not admit the existence!' I retorted, for the glitter in his eye, at my momentary display of feeling had warned me back to flippancy, as into a strong hold. 'Efcf' ' How could you see heart's feeling i' ' Why will you thus torture me, Isola r' he de manded, with a burst of passion. ' Is it not enough that I have recanted and am now a slave to that which I denied r You are cruel, as women always are, and rejoice to probe the wound you have in flicted.' ' Henry, if I am cruel, you are unjust. What have I done ? How have I wounded you ? Did I ever seek from you the passion with which it is my ? anguish— my bitter, ceaseless anguish— that you re gard met' ' You do feel anguish r' he demanded, withalaugh of almost exultation. I retorted indignantly, ' Of course I do. I see you suffering, to save whom from one moment's pain I would cut off my light hand ; and I see the friend who should be dear to us both moving death wards be fore me. While I am helpless to aid either, I know that I am the cause of suffering to both. Of course I feel ; I am not senseless. If It were not wicked, I could wish I were dead, away from you, and I don't know bat what I do, although it it. Then you'd have peace perhaps, and perhaps I should.' The worst temptation of all followed then, for his voice changed to one so tender and so low, that I felt almost drawn to yielding. 'I know, you suffer, poor little one! I have itched you too closely not to see that. I know both y woe and Olave's presses hard on your gentle art. Yet you are wrong in something, dear ; in
you*- present saU-denial, for instanoe. Miss Lysthor j is a natural coquette, and thinks she loves me because she has none oner on whom to try her power*. Let her get at her elbow some accomplished gentleman of the world, and she would soon forget the plain work a-day parson.' j ' She would not,' t asserted. ' On the contrary, hers is one of those minds that present to the surface Ban only its own surface froth and glitter, but hide beneath it unknown, strength of purpose. Once having conceived such a love as she bears to you, she will yield it only with her last breath, and to none but death. You will find I am right.' 'I do notthinkeo; I do not even think she can appreciate what you are doing for her sake. Hush 1 let mo speak !' fori made' an effort to deny the merit
of a surrender which he seemed determined to give to me. 'Even if you were right, I could do nothing but feel deep sorrow for her infatuation. There is another objection, so practical that perhaps you will laugh at it. ' Well r' 'Just this. Miss Lysthor is heiress to a fortune, large or small, as it may be, and Heary Barrett is simpW ' lord of his own hands.' ' ' Well:' I said again. 'Well, people would say, while they pointed at me the finger of scorn, that Henry Barrett had thought better of the principles he once professed ; or, if he still maintained the dignity of work, considered it was best done with golden tools. They would say I had married a rich wife for her money, and it might even happen that the lady herself could sing the same tune.' ? '? Pride,' I declared, with all the emphasis I could throw into a trembling voice; ' arrant pride !' 'You think so r' he cried eagerly; 'and yet, if little EUyss, the gardener's nanachild, was found to be the owner of untold wealth, do you think I would therefore withdraw my suit.' ' According to your opinion expressed above yes.' ' You don't know me yet. I would not ; if I could but win the trust of the dear little one herself, I would defy the slandcrouB voiccs of men ; they might throw her fortune in my face every hour of the day for all I should care. Isola,' and the passionate, pleading earnestness came again into his voice, ' my darling Isola, you would sacrifice yourself to your lrieud ; it is like you, dearest. But it cannot be. You lore me, I know you do ; you must, in return for all my love. Think, only think ; as we are going on we must aU be miserable, but you can make two of us happy by a single word. Nor will Olave suffer as you think. I know her ; talented, beautiful, and vain, she will find many admirers, and, amidst a host of butter flies, will furget such a grey moth as myself. But you, Isola — ' ' You would say that I, who cannot hope to win the crowd of butterflies, will be most aensible to put up with the moth aforesaid. Henry, look me in the face. You have placed me in the most awkward po sition that a young girl can fill. Remember that, and look at me. Do I blush r do I quiver r is my voice unsteady r Well, then, with a colourless cheek, untremblingly, and with clear tones, I tell you that I rtti cr loved you as you think ; you ate mistaken. I would that this had never been, but now I entreat jou to take my answer once for all. And, if you have one moment's regard for me, by that regard think of Olave's grief; and force your heart to give her some comfort. ' The effort I made to look him in the facc to tho close of this speech was not successful. Such a livid tension crept over his features ; his great eyes dilated while at the same time the coiour appeared to fade out of them ; his lips writhed until the teeth were visible through them in spite of all his efforts to appear calm, and his hands involuntarily clutched at my reins, which he had been holding since I dropped them some time before. Fear came over me too strong for reason, and I fairly snatched my reins from his hold and fled, ceasing not from the hurry, that was at least a relief by. forcing my body into consis tency with my excited mind, until I was withih half a mile of home. I was stopped then by a breathless messenger, bearing tidings that my grandfather had been seized with sudden illness. 'Tbe Master bid me send in the doctor, au4 then ride on to Quebec Rock after yourself and the young master, but, may be, I'll not need to go after him now. Miss i' 'No, James, not now.' And on I went with almost a lighter heart in this new trouble. It pro mised rest from thought in action, and that was what I wanted most. For weeks my mind had been in a fever, while I was compelled to observe an outward appearance of tranquillity. Yet, for the moment, it was no light subject of self-reproach that, in the bustle of yesterday, I had omitted my daily visit to Grandy, and had therefore not witnessed the approach of the illness that had overtaken him. When I entered his cottaee I found him lying in the first stupor of fever, with wide- open eyes that had no recognition in them. For the first time in my life I came into his presence without a welcoming smile ; for the first time I kissed him and obtained no answering caress : he was senseless. I took my seat by lis side, sent to the house for bedding for uav.olf, and once more took up my abode in the dwelling of my grandfather.