|Chapter Title||A CHAPTER BY JOHN BARRETT.|
|Newspaper Title||Sydney Mail (NSW : 1860 - 1871)|
|Trove Title||Which Wins? A Tale of Life's Impulses|
WHICH WINS ?
A TALE OF LIFE'S IMPULSES.
A Chatter by John Barrett.
Xsola t.y. that her tala vould be much clearer if I Would here give her readers eome idea of what occurred ~«mong her lriends in my parish during the luttwelve tBpnths of which ebe is -writing. I will do my bet to pirate her, - But it mutt be held in remembrance ^ that, Through the whole of (hat period, iny faculties were benumbed by a weighty trouble of my own that almost made me hard to the sufferings of others. , I went to my room on the night after I had parted with my little diffident Ieola — my sweet wife that was eo soon to be, I thought— and my hopes and joys
.uucea oeiore my mma u a Bieepieaa lurong, a naa not much feat for the impression that would be made by the letter that I had left upon her dressing -table, for I knew that the child loved me. - All through hcrgirlhood while the dear child flitted about my house, making light as soft as sunshine through a green thicket. I had dreamed of a love that should grow between her and my young brother, Henry. I knew how well contrasted were his manly energy and her sweet clinging gentjeness, and I accustomed myself to the supposition' that they would go off together some day, ana leave my poor old neat ahom of all that made it attractive. I made it a matter of^ course to think of the child as Henry's future bride, and I used to throw them as much into each other g society aa possible. It gave me pleasure to notice the quiet command with which ho learned to address her, and the sedulous care with which she Obeyed his desires. Yet often as I looked upon them, mere boy and girl as they were, I felt, an unaccount able tightening at the chest and an. irritating rest lessness that drove me out of their company, and I would retire to my study and brood blackly over the thought of my own loneliness when they should be gone. It was in those times that my thoughts re curred bitterly to the loss of my early manhood's love and the treachenr of the friend who caused that loss. I pictured poor Emily as mistress of my house, moving in stately gentleness through itB rooms until, when! almost thought the picture was a truth, there would dash over me a sudden memory of how I had last met Charjey Bell's victim, flaunting, miserably bold in her misery, through Sydney streets— end the feeling with which I regarded my boyhood's friend w&s one Very near akin to hatred. The one thing that saved me from falling into that sin was the perpetual sight of Mary Lowe, and her grief. I laid the whole burden of the mischief that had happened upon her, consider ing that it had resulted from her silly coquetry with myself, but, although I struggled hard to do so, I could not long retain the contempt with which I re garded her when I first woke to the bitter conse quences of my own folly: The poor faded woman who so frequently eougbl my presence now. just that ?he might ease her aching soul by conversing of the men whom she had loved eighteen years ago, in her blooming girlhood, could only challenge my warmest pity. She was so listlesB and ao white that I thought ?he was dying, and I kaew not but that was the best fate that could befall her. I remember well that, one day when I had been over to the Lysthor'. for the purpose of carrying a book that I wished to lend to poor Mary, I met her pupil, Miss Olave Lysthor, half-way between the two houses. I made some passing remark, at present I forget what, and she told me that she was going over to spend an hour or two with Isola. At the moment I noticed that Olave looked flushed and anxious, but eoon forgot it as I continued my walk. AVhen I reached the Great House one of the first pieces of in formation which I received from Mrs. Lysthor was in the form of en intimation that Mr. Alvcra was coming to stay with them for some weeks. ' And who is Mr. Alvem r' I inquired, not from any desire for information, but because the simper upon the prim little woman's face evidently required me to put such a question. ' Hb ! ha ! ha !' Mr. Lysthor roared at the full pitch of his merry voice ; 'I'll tell you who he is, parson. He's the eldest son of Sir Oliver Alvern, of Cavaneboy Bark, Cornwall, and a distant cousin of ours. Between you and me there's been a sort of an understanding — an engagement, do you take, par son r — between him and Oily ever since she was a baby. I eay, Ralphy, where's your sister, my boy r' ' Do' know. Up a gumtree, perhaps,' returned the hopeful youth to whom would descend the dignity of the family, as he alighted at the door from a lank, bare-backed horse, and dismissed it from his service with a vicious kick. I explained that I had met the young lady in my walk, and that she was gone to the parsonage. ' Av, ay,' said the jovial father, ' girls will be girls all the world over. She's gone to boast of her good luck to your little pale girl, I'll bet fifty to a hundred. The least said soonest mended, parson; but 1 don't mind saying that the old baronet s wearing in the scte and yellow leaf a bit, and then— well, well, my Olave will become a title, parson.' The total of this, and a great deal more rough talk was, I learnt from Mary Lowe, that bliss Ulave'e fortune was expected to buy Mr. Alvem's title, and that the girl's mother and father w-crc reckoning upon a wedding. As 1 met her on her homeward walk, and noted her haughtily elastic step, her blight eyes and blushing cheeks, I could not but feel contempt mingled with my pity for the woman who thus aUowed herself to be sold. Boor child ! I did not know until long after how much I wronged her. I had made many unsuccessful efforts to find Bell, prompted by different motives. Sometimes I mused over my lost Emily's pretty face, until I could do none other than make a fierce effort to find and re proach her betrayer. Sometimes (and this was the reason lor my later attempts) poor Mary Lowe would entreat me so earnestly to find him, that I could not but yield so far to her supplications, as at lea9t to try. ' I told her that, even if he were found, should Emily be alive, he was her husband in the sight of -God and holy men. She never contradicted that, but only besought, ' Find him r' Find him.' So I did the best I could, but, as I said, without BUCCeSB. But one morning, not many days after the visit of which I have spoken above, I was sitting in my study and cheating myself into the belief that I was read ing. The truth was that I was striving hard to under stand why in the last few days my little girl's voice had become so earnest, and her pretty face so grave. I was thus employed when I heard Mary Lowe's voice in the hall close by, and, going out, she almost ?truck me into a frenzy by exclaiming that Charley was come. 1 understood instantly that Charles Alvem and Charley Bell were one. I pitied the poor hysterical woman who came to ate in such a strange passion of wild joy and bitter grief, but my chief thought was to save my little Isola the knowledge that, instead of myself, this bad man was her father. I ordered the poor child away, for she stood looking, in quiet amazement at the drooping woman beside her. I took Mary home when she was calmer, but for a few days I avoided a meeting with Alvem, as I must call my old friend in future. For I had to prepare myself for a great effort when I should meet him. I had lotig before resolved to push to one side all my own wrongs, and to work strenuously upon his feelings (he had some once) to seek the poor fallen girl whom he had wronged, and make what retrieval of his fault was in his power by wedding her even at the last hour. And then, I had thought, I would take a noble revenge, by presenting to him the child that he had neglected and I had reared, end demanding hie blessing upon her as my young brother's bride. But in this I had need to 'tread as carefully as though a mine were beneath my feet; for, gentle and quiet as' was our Isola, I felt 'assured that she cherished a passionate nature beneath. Hitherto not a breath of information had reached her as to the secret of her birth, but, should she discover that she wss the child of shame, I knew not what there would not be reason to fear. She would refuBe to wed Henry, and cloud his young life with sorrow ; she might even shrink from my protec tion at the time she most needed it. I was certain that she would hate and flee from Alvem if he dared to put in a father's claim to her love. But I thought it would not be hard to keep the secret of her birth if I could only keep Alvern and old Ellyss from seeing each other. She had no thought of anything but a mysterious mother ; and be, of course, could not recognise in the girl of nineteen the child he had last seen es a baby. 1 determined to make some business on which I could send EUyes away for a few weeks, and, mean time, to come to a full explanation with Alvem. There was that to arrange in my own heart which more perplexed me than these things. For I had found suddenly that Ieola was for more to me than a child could be ;? I felt that I almost hated poor Henry for having won her affections, that my most active repulsion to Alvem was the fear that he would take his daughter from my care. TVhen the treasure was slipping out of my hands I learnt to know its whole value. And I bed to teach myself the conquest of much bitter passion that I had not till that moment even suspected. *'T spent the whole -if 'the 'following night in futiie thought, and, in the morning, after watching Isola
and llenry go out riding together, I walked out to | muse still upon the same subjects, I came back by Ellyss' collage just in time to witness the ending of a fearful altercation between him and Alvern, in the poor old men's falling across his own doorstep in a fit, Alvern carried him into his house, and then hurried away, alter a long remorseful look upon his prostrate form. From -his few hurried words I inferred that no mention had been made of Isola, and I hastily de. tcrmined still to keep the secret of her relationship, I told Alvem that he had done sufficient mischief, and that he must not return uutil I sent for him. - -The child came in about an hour later, alone, and looking very sad, but I -ascribed that to the fact that she had met my messenger, and was aware of her grandfather's illness, The next morning Henry told me of her refusal to marry him, and, although I pitied him, I could not cloud over the dawn of hope that came to myself. In a week or two I knew by words the chUd uttered in moments of thoughtlessness, and by other signs too trivial for detail, that I was more blessed than I had ever again hoped to be upon earth for Ieola loved me. I saw that she loved blindly. quite unconscious of the passion itself, and, sufficiently bltst by the knowledge that it was so, I did not attempt to drive her to an acknowledgment that Bhould ievesl it to her own heart. I loved to watch her little quick blushes and embarrassments, and the true womanly struggle to cover them with on appearance of greater ease, only resulting in a pretty failure always. Old KUyss's illness was very severe, and his brain was so affected that at one time there was great danger of his life. Thechild was an indefatigable nurse, and resisted all my efforts to remove het with gentle
bicbwimiuubRi AvVj lOve HCT U i,QlQ| JL WDUIQ HnvG been glad to remove her from his cottage. I feared alike for her the revelations of her grandfather's delirium, and the fever infection of which the doctor said there was great danger. . But she would not yield to my persuasions, and I was obliged to submit to ber sweet obstinacy. Meanwhile I saw Charley several times. He was not the Charley of old deye, who, if he was impulsive and vain, was at least frank end generous also. This man was just as unstable, bat he bad learnt the petty cunning and mulish obstinacy of a man who has neither religion, moral principle, nor a strong nature to rcet upon. The only good thing about him wob his clinging iove for Mary Lowe, and that was not strong enough to conquer the hankering for Miss Lysthoi's money. As for Emily, his love (if the wild frenzy he had felt towards her could be called by a name eo holy) bis love was long since dead, Yet 1 could touch him sensibly by picturing her wrongs and her desolation. Sometimes he would vow to search un ceasingly for her, until he had found end repaired his sin. Again he would maunder of his dear Mary, his pretty pale Mary, ' whom you would have wronged too, if you hadn't been too great a coward, Barrett.' At another time he would tell pitiful talc of his debts, and nsBert that he was ruined if be did not marry the estate of Tonnegh. And then be would tell me Emily was dead, ho was sure that she was dead, he had seen the death of a woman named Emma Ellis in the paper, and he was sure that it must be Emily, only the name was misspelt. Those news, paper fellows were always blundering. I could not keep him to the point ten minutes together. After that followed, in rapid, dazzling, succession, Henry's departure, poor Isofa's detection of ail her life's miserable mystery, mv declaration of love, a few days of unutterable gfory ; then her Budacn flight, and for mc nothing but darkness, remorse, and regret. Life was stunned within me when it was in fullest vigour.