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A TIGER LILY: A GOLDEN ROD.

CHAPTER ll.—Touch and Go. [continued.] All at once he passed from the rambling, reckless, unrighteous, softhearted, dawdling way in which he was

confessing himself to Lauderdale for her enlightraent, into the white heat of concentrated wrath and malice. ■ I beg your pardon for talking so of a woman to a lady j but she was not a wom?n—she was a hyena, a wolf. What she made a poor lost devil do for her and her insolent cubs of children ! What she made me suffer to leave me to a debtor’s gaol, a whitewashing which is no whitewashing, but a tar and feathering in a bankruptcy court, to the lowest shabbiness, want, vice, an outcast’s, death after all.” He clenched his hands as he thought of her, ‘See,’,he cried huskily, ‘I don’t care though you know, she induced me to take lodgings here on her account, and she has left me—and she knows it, but she does hot mind so long as the law does not make her answerable —without a pound to pay for them. My landlord has bis eye on my traps, and is keeping watch at the railway station; but he may spare himself the trouble, I have not the shillings to pay for a third-class ticket to London or Edinburgh, and if 1 attempted to walk the distance, I should drop down at the end of the first ten miles, for my landlady has grown saucy, and did not'prepare a breakfast for me which I could eat to-day, though she is aware I have gone without dinner once or twice within the last week. If you please—you, madam, the photographic artist’s 1 sister,’ he pleaded half wildly, ‘ I had rather make short work of it among the shy game creatures here, with the gun I’ve bo'Towed, than ’ drag myself into the shelter of a hedge and die by inches, snapped at by carters’ dogs, and punched and pulled about by the carters themselves on a public road. As to your having any dependence on the penny post, and trust in the appeals to friends, dismiss the notion at once. I have tired out all the friends I ever had, an age ago. I have no near relati ons tc be scanda-

lized by the melodramatic mode of exit from the world.which I take the

liberty to prefer.. ’ My death in any waywill be the gladdest news o f me which my friends have heard for a long; lime ; and as for her, I shall haunt and 1 torment her if I can. ?

Lauderdale had been lodking and ; istening with her whole original sagacious face and earnest heart. She con-

tinued to gaze at him, with ’eycji getting larger and larger, and her mouth' more spasmodically contracted and tremulous, in spite of herself. ‘No, you shall not,’ she forbade him positively ; ‘ you shall not kill yourself, when there was one killed for you eighteen hundred years ago. Is He no more than a dead man to you ? I tell you that you are not your own, to kill yourself or another. Do you not believe that, though you may have slept over the words in many a matter-of-course, drowsy, decent, infidel church attendance?’ ‘Now you are coming it strong again/protested Hopkins. Even’ as he spoke, Lauderdale gave a writhe and start of sudden pain. ‘ I think I have hurt myself against a stone,’ she said confusedly in explanation, stooping and putting her hand to her foot.

He thrust her hand back, pulled her up, dragged her a side and caught up his gun. ‘ You are bitlen by an adder,’ be cried 3 ‘I got a glimpse of its snake’s head. There it is,’ as a glistening coil rustled and slid with marvellous rapidity through the heather at a few paces’, distance. ‘I shall despatch it in a moment, but don’t stir from that spot till I look for its fellow; adders always hunt in couples,’ He destroyed the first gruesome reptile with a blow, and detected and killed the other after a few minutes search, while Lauderdale stood smarting with pam, and shivering, in spite of her defiance of nerves, at the unexpected contact with the shiny coat and trail, the prismatic hues, and the ! subtlety of motion of the serpent breed.

Mr Hopkins was not efferainite in the matter of destruction, it seemed; and as if it were the peculiar line of vagabonds, in the dearth of all other tastes and interests, he had developed a sporting element. It was part of a gentleman’s education, to be sure, like a scientific knowledge of cookery and skill in billiards.

‘Does it hurt much?’ asked the scamp kindly. ‘We must make haste and get down before the swelling begins and stiffens the limb. It will be no more than a trifle after all, I assure, you; you know the adders’ biles are; only sharp flea-bites compared with the serpent’s bites of tropical countries, but it may pain you and incapaciate you from walking in the mean time. Do me the favor to take my arm till we. come in sight of St. Boville at least. Fancy I am your brother for a few minutes, or, though it is a preposterous supposition, that I am old enough or you are old enough for us to be father and daughter, or mother and son. Why is it that I am always thinking of you in a family light, madam, I wonder, unless there is virtue in necessity ?’ He actually forgot what he had come to Heathery Haugh to do —to take that leap into a gulf from which no man has come up to tell what ground he has found —to dare to face his Judge at the with all his sins unrecalled, unrepented cf, una'.oned for; if faith in an awful Judge and great assize survived in his hazy, shaken mind, or if his desperate purpose lingered in his facile memory, it was but as the murky and lurid background of a hideous dream. He conducted her carefully and gently, far more gently than Gregory would have done. If Gregory had, not been alarmed for his sister’s safety:—and he was very far from being easily alarmed-he would have been tempted either to crow over her in his superior hardihood, or to twit her with her imagined terrors. But this man was solicitous to soothe her, even to divert her mind from her accident With this end he talked fluently on various subjects. ‘And what do you think of negatives on talc ? I used to have a hand in them,’ he said, with a brightening up which was almost more piteous than anything that had gone before; it seemed to bear reference to such a far-off time, when life had had hope and heart in it. Near to the town the couple encountered Mr Hopkins’s wary, pursy landlord panting out the Heathery Haugh road. He paused when h e saw them, wiped bis face, and drew a sigh of relief. He was a man with a constant eye to the main chance, but he had not calculated on having any thing to do with so staggering a subjece as death. He looked hard at th walkers, walked by them without speak _ mg, then turned and followed them at a respectful distance. Close to St. BoviUe’s, Lauderdale did not dismiss her companion. She said a httle awkardly, like one unaccustomed to give invitations, ‘Mr Hopkins, would you mind coming in and seeing my brother, and telling me what to do with my foot? Ido not care to have much to do with doctors, particularly ofj the watering-place type. ‘ If you will give me any simple directions, I shall follow them.’

Mr Hopkins raised his hat, as he had not found time to do lately (but Richard was himself again), his eyebrows also, at being expected to act the quack to a hard favored, eccentric, aging artist, but his good nature, which had served him in bad stead many a day, seemed to awaken to remorse for its evil deeds, and served him in good stead now.

CHAPTER III — Redeemed With a Price. Lauderdale told Gregory faithfully every particular, sitting on the single lobby chair in one of the bare, echoing, chill-even-in summer-time lobbies of old St. Boville’s House, while Mr Hopkins reclined, much at his ease—in one sense, if not in another—on one of the hard; couches in the great drawingroom.

* What might have been expected,’ commented Gregory, bending his brows and drawing together his short-sighted eyes till his screwed-up chrome-yellow face was uncommonly like the figurehead of a gurgoyle. * These weak sinners are always the fools to go at last, and make a sounding report by little life that has ever been in a splutter of fire and fury. You ain’t much hurt, Laud ?’. . ‘ No, Greg; but couldn’t you speak to his landlord not to tholest him for a few days ? Resources might cast up for t a human being, don’t you think ? Couldn’t you allow him to come here, and let him see some of the tricks of the trade, which are not secret works, since he has not- a trade of his own that he ean put his hand to ? ; You remember he showed some notions of and grouping, he ; came y with the women ana. he? dbliiiren ; and

as if he had been familiar with the earlier experiments, and good models. He may not consent, but since I saved the man’s life as I did (and you need not try to put it out of my head), you have no idea how queer it feels to let him out again into the darkness, as he said.’ ‘ Good heavens, Laud, you are not going to adopt the man, the widow’s relict ? ’ remonstrated Gregory in the liveliest manner. * All the appropriate stories I ever read took their. riß».fram the opposite starting-point., , -T A man saves a woman frdta a.foaming torrent, a cracklingijre, ora soaring JhaHji ■aad she is grateful to him, apd. adgrfgjrim for ever afterwards, naturally. BulJ should not wpnder thgujdv there is something to be said "on the t&Hrary side of the question, particulaHywbtere such odd fish as women are concerned. I trust the old superstition rescuing drowning men was a sujwsfition, that’s all; and Coleridge’s “ Christabel ” a poetical figment For mercy’s sake, Laud, be reasonable' ; pause, and think what an incumbrance even a reformed rake, would be on our hands, and how we might be raising up a stick to break our own heads. There are, secret lights and shades even in the fair, ingenious face of my mistress art—God bless her—and the knave might steal them, first, and opr sitters afterwards.’

But, in the end, the iVVainwrights, poor artists as they were, played the rare part of good Samaritans, to Mr Hopkins; and some people may think it was a specid interposition,; of.'Providence on their behalf, that they did not warm a serpent in their bosoths*; that the only serpents in the business were the adders slain by the slim, frail Hercules at Heathery Haugh. ’ 'The Wainwrights were sufficiently known, and sufficiently esteemed at St, BovHle’s, to be able to free Mr Hopkins temporarily and partially from his extremity of difficulties; to countenance Mm; to offer him another chance, and a way of doing. {To he continued.) _

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Permanent link to this item

http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AG18810404.2.16

Bibliographic details

A TIGER LILY: A GOLDEN ROD., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 310, 4 April 1881

Word Count
1,897

A TIGER LILY: A GOLDEN ROD. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 310, 4 April 1881

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