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WASSAIL: A CHRISTMAS STORY.
CONCLUSION. — CHAPTER VIII.
AND where was Lily ? ah! where cans—and at the dear mother too, was Lily? The salts of the earth, placid and sweet as of old. I thought, the great priestesses of propriety, though, that she looked a little would have blushed to see her—the pensive." Martineaus would have pitied, per “Yes, Tom, she has pined a good haps lectured on her. “Fie, fie! deal at your absence, and the father Lily!” There she sat in the sum too has fretted a good deal ; your mer-house with her head resting on return will be joy to his heart spite the prodigal Tom's shoulder, her of all that's past I know he prays light locks tangling with his bushy nightly that he may live to see it; whiskers, and her eyes looking up but you know he will expect you at him. “ Shame on you, Lily !” to appear in the character of a proStrange to say, Lily, in her in- digal, very famine-stricken and very nocence and simplicity, did not feel penitent. her own depravity. Shamed ! why “What an impostor I should be should she feel shamed? shamed in the character of a prodigal!” said at laying her head on dear old Tom, laughing and looking down Tom's shoulder-old Tom, whom over his broad frame and lusty she had loved as a child, loved as a limbs. “Do I look like a prodigirl, loved as a woman ; whom she gal ?” had loved naturally without going Lily thought not. As she looked through any spasmodic sensations, in his face she saw no sign there of or experiencing any sudden sympa- riotous living -of feeding with thetic influences. Instead of ing swine-no sign of the remorse beashamed, she seemed to be well gotten of sin and famine ; she saw pleased with her position, and was nothing but manliness and honesty making a little purring noise ex- in that broad open brow and the pressive of extreme satisfaction. deep blue eyes-nothing save the “So he's come back—the dear, dear will of endeavour in the firm lip old Tom, and how we've been long and strong chin. No; she felt ining to see his dear face again. We stinctively as she looked, that he did hope for a letter, and I thought had come back heart-sound- the one had come when James beckoned same good, strong, gentle, honest me out; but to think of its being Tom as ever. dear old Tom himself!
What a “No, Lily, I shall never pass for shame of you, though, to steal upon a prodigal, or a famine-stricken one us in disguise, just like the knights at any rate. Why, I'm strong as a when they came back to their young lion, and have health enough castles from the wars dressed like to stock a whole college of physipalmers or minstrels.'
cians with. There's an arm, a pretty “My disguise was more of the thing that to put around a girl's gaberlunzie stamp, I think, and waist.” more fitting a rough old sheep Lily did not altogether seem to feeder. However, I didn't repent perceive the incongruity of such a my little bit of masquerading, for proceeding. didn't it give me an opportunity of “But there were other reasons, sitting quietly looking at the dear Lily, why I wished to see you and group-of looking at my Lily grown make inquiries before I appeared lovelier than ever-at the dear old in character—they related to poor father beaming with heartiness as Emily." usual, amid the joints and the “Why, you don't mean, Tom, that
you have seen or found out any- and out of all harm—made me think thing about her! Oh! do, do tell and act for myself. The nature of me.”
the work, too, seemed to draw out Softly, softly, my little fairy; I my powers and give me more selfhave grown a methodical old fellow, reliance. The difficulties and hardand must go on regularly with my ships, too, which I underwent, made story, and let one part lead to an- me ashamed of the trifles and moleother. I must tell somewhat first hills at which I used to grumble of my own doings, my Lily." and stumble. 'Twas a good life to
“Yes, yes, tell me all—all your make a man, still 'twas a hard life ; adventures — all your story from and I don't know what I should beginning to end."
have done without the few books "Well, there is not much adven- you lent me. They were a great ture in it; but I must tell just as solace in the lone nights sometimes much as will explain what fol- spent in the bush, sometimes in a lows."
shepherd's hut, or in the lone room Lily nestled herself on his at home—my only solace except the shoulder, half listening, half wrapt pipe. No! you need not look up, in the sense of enjoying his pre- -I had no other. I am almost a sence.
water-drinker now, and shall be a "You will recollect, from my let- most degenerate inheritor of the ters," commenced Tom, fumbling tankard. with his pipe, and then, as he looked “Then you shall change with the at his delicate Lily, hastily putting uncle, and have the snuff-box, Tom," it back into his pocket,“how, soon said Lily. after my arrival at Sydney, I met “It will be as useful to me as with the owner of one of the largest the other. The abstinence from all sheep-farms in the country, and how spirits, however, was a blessing to he offered me to become a sort of me. It was a lesson from the old partner, paying in a small capital partner, and the best he ever gave. and making up the rest by labour. Young fellow, whilst you have This suited me well, as I wished to strength,' he said, 'never yield to reserve my money until I could see stimulants. I did so, and see what my way to a good investment, and I have come to,—used up, worn out I wished, too, to get a large experi. before my time. I am a warning ence in my future work. The farm for you.' And a terrible one he was. was a long way off, far away in the He had taken fearfully to drink of bush-far away from all civilisation late, and at the end of the twelve -a very lonesome place. My part- months his mind and strength were ner, or rather master, stuck most so impaired that he was not equal rigorously to his bargain; he was a to any business, even of the most severe task-master, and exacted his trifling kind. So, after a good deal pound of flesh to the ounce. I now of hesitation, he resolved to retire, began to know what work was. I and offered me the property and thought that I had worked hard stock. The offer was a fair one, at Tregarrow, but that was nothing. and as I now felt myself equal to I could take off my coat and put it the position, I accepted it. I was on as I liked, go in for a spell of now my own master—a large prowork as an excitement, and then prietor. My labours, however, were there was behind all the plentiful not decreased-head-work, anxiety, larder and the cheerful hearth. responsibility, were all doubled. I Now I found out what it was to was in a position which taxed me toil - toil incessantly, body and to the utmost. Things, however, mind, with little respite, little rest, went well with me; my walks were and with very poor and irregular soon enlarged - my rocks multifood. However, it seemed to agreeplied, and my shepherds were like with me; it kept me in fine health a little regiment. I was fast grow
ing rich. About this time your stood a better sort of shepherd's letters began to tell of the old hut, though 'twas a poor place, man's beginning to pine and fret after all. After I had knocked about me, and of his longings for several times, a wretched creature, my return. This thought haunted ragged, dishevelled, and begrimed me. Ever I saw before me the dear with dirt, came to the door. Och, old man drooping and dispirited. what are ye awanting on ?' he said, The memory of the old hearth and grufily.— Wanting ?" I answered, all around it grew stronger and pointing to the sky; ' why, shelter stronger, until I could think of for myself and horse.' Shelter, nought besides. Now, too, a great is it? then ye'll find it in the shed dread seized upon me. I began to yonder; and ye'd better stay with feel that the love of gain was grow- yer horse, he'll be better company ing within me, and I feared lest the than them's inside ; there's worse curse of gold should eat into my nor the thunder and lightning heart. You know how I always here.' Notwithstanding this warnshuddered at such a fate, and how ing, I returned, and, after making we used to talk over the misery, a half-forcible entry, found myself and how the old father used to say inside. 'Twas certainly a miserthat a cold heart and grasping hand able place, squalid with dirt and were the greatest curses which meanness. The only furniture was could befall a man. So I resolved a few rickety chairs and a coarse to tear it up ere it gained too firm a deal table ; some sheepskins lay foothold and had become my mas about in corners, and a few sticks ter. I felt that I had done enough were burning on the hearth, over to prove myself-enough to show which a tin pot was simmering. myself capable of achieving a purpose Over the chimney were some fire-capable of independent action. arms and powder-horns, but they Time enough, too, had elapsed for the looked rusty and neglected. 'Well, little estrangement betwixt me and now ye're in, ye may sit down, if the dear old father to pass away, ye plaze ; but ye'll be repinting and for the old love to return. I afore long, and wishing yerself outhad grown wiser, too, and knew side the dour agin. Och, there, I that I could make a happier future tould ye so. At that moment a for him. So, after thinking it over fearful yell came from the inner for a night or two, my mind was room, followed by most horrible made up-I would return home. curses and blasphemy. • Good Next day I started for the house of God!' I said, ( what's that?'a proprietor at some distance, whose Och, sure,' said the shepherd, unbrother I knew was looking out concernedly, it's only the master; eagerly for an investment. The it's jist the time for his divils bargain was soon struck. 'Twas to come.' - 'Devils !' I said. an easy one on my side. On my re- 'Oh yis, the divils ; he's mighty turn I was overtaken by one of the dilerus the day, and thinks when terrific storms so common in that he wakes that there's a pack of country. The rain blinded me, the divils come to tormint and car gusts of wind drove my horse al him off.'—' But surely,' I said, most off his legs, and the thunder"
'you should send for a doctor and lightning made him shake in and clergyman.'-Docther, is it? every limb; so I was obliged to and where wald ye find one to get off and lead him. We soon lost come ? and maybe have a bottle our way, and stumbled about until thrown at his head ; and as fur a the bush grew thicker and thicker, praist, begad he'd sooner have the and there seemed no path or way divils.' -Can I go and see if I out whatever. At last, however, can be of help?' - Och, ye may I hit suddenly on a sort of clear- come; but ye're better whare yer ing, and there, in the middle of it, are; I'm jist going to car him the
dhrink.' So I followed into a spurned me from his door-made room if possible more wretched me feel a coward !—but I've had than the other; and there, in the my revenge. I laid a slow burning corner, on a rude pallet, with a fire in his heart ; but 'tis hotter dirty rug as his only covering, lay here, Tom'--striking his breasta man howling now, and gesticu- 'hotter here !'—and then he went lating with all his might. He was off into incoherent curses and howla fearful, a piteous sight. His ings until he fell exhausted on the long bare arms, lying outside the pallet. rug, were worn down to bone and "Now thin,' said the Irish shepmuscle ; his long hair was matted herd, 'ye'll get no sinse from and tangled, and hung down over him for one while; so if ye're his his face. He was evidently young, frind, ye'd better be fetching the but riot and disease had told fear- docther or spaking to the praist.' fully on him. His eyes were sunken "Having ascertained really where and bloodshot, his cheeks hollow, I was, I recollected that some miles and his features altogether most distant lived a young fellow who ghastly. As the shepherd entered, had come out to the country as a he turned and yelled at him. medical practitioner, and, finding * Well, devil's stoker, have you that unprofitable, had taken to been heating the pincers, eh? I'm farming; and as the storm had sure the devil employs you to tor- abated, I determined to set out for ment me.'-' Och, be asy, master, him. dear,' said the shepherd, sooth- “He readily consented to return ingly; "here's a jontleman come with me, but 'twas night ere we to see ye.'—' A gentleman !-oh, arrived, and the stars were shining that's another of them'—and here down brightly on the hut and all he turned and glared fiercely at its wretchedness. When we enme for a few minutes, then yelled tered, Harry was lying quite quiet out louder than ever — Oh, it's the eyes were even more sunken Tom Penrice, is it ?-50 you are now; there was a deadly pallor on turned devil's bailiff, are you, his face, and drops of cold sweat Tom ?'Good God!' I said, as stood on his brow. The doctor a sudden recognition burst on me; said he was in a state of collapse,
it can't be Harry Rankin ?'- and that though he might rally from “Yes, it is Harry Rankin,' he this, and be rational for a while, yelled again, with an oath ; "and that there was no ultimate hope why shouldn't it be? how did you for him, and that his days—nay, his expect to find him ?- not well hours were numbered. He then and happy, I suppose ?—the devils proceeded to bathe his brow and wouldn't stand that: but you shan't administer some brandy from take me yet, Tom : stand off-my bottle which stood on the table. time isn't come yet ; I've some- After a time he revived a little, thing to say and do before I go. opened his eyes and looked round They send all kinds of messengers on me with a wild and bewildered for me, though. Who do you think gaze. When I spoke to him, howthey sent last? Why, the baby- ever, and placed my hand on him, Emily's baby, you know—the one he seemed to gather up his senses. that died ; but it had a ring of 'Ah, is it really you, Tom?' he gold light round its head—I don't said, in a hollow feeble voice; 'I think it could have come from the thought 'twas a dream. Surely a devil—do you? Then there's the Providence sent you, Tom. Oh, vicar--he comes oftenest. Curse Tom, I wished so much to do jushím-curse him, I say; but for his tice to poor Emily before I died, cursed pride and prudery I shouldn't and you have come in time to hear have come to this : he spurned me all. This takes a terrible load from -he scorned me, didn't he ?—he my heart, for you will right her, I
know you will. Poor, poor Emily, wife, and that her child was a bashow I have wronged her —what a tard. With that she rose up, looked ruffian—what a liar have I been to at me as her father had done, took her, Tom! And yet one time it up her child, and left the room. might have been so different. I Next morning I went away early, often think though, that if the vicar not daring to face her; but when I had not scorned me so, all would returned she was gone-gone with have been well. I should have her child, and I could get no trace grown a different man under Emily's of her. Some months after this I influence, and we might have been received a letter from her, giving happy after all. From the time he the address of a milliner, beseechspurned me, I thought of nothing ing me to tell whether my terrible except revenge: my hatred towards words were true or not. I never him was stronger than my love to answered it. After she had
I Emily. 'Twas long, however, be- did nothing but drink: I was always fore I could get her consent to elope, drunk or drinking : I felt that I and 'twas only when I promised was killing myself, yet kept ever faithfully that the instant we were feeding the fire. But the fire of the married we would come back and blood and the brain was nothing to ask pardon. So she went and we the fire of the heart, Tom. At last were married—really married. Then I could bear it no longer, my conI persuaded her to write before we science stung me so; and I set out went back-but I intercepted the in search of Emily, to tell her the letter. She wrote again, and again, truth, and see her once more. I and these letters were also stopped; had got thus far on my way, when so, of course, no answer
I was taken with one of my attacks; Mortified by the coldness and si- and that devil's stoker, that Irish lence of her father, and sick with fellow, gave me brandy instead of despair, she consented at last to go keeping it from me, and that to Australia and begin a new life, finished me. It is a terrible end, under new auspices. Well, after we Tom, isn't it? But my strength is came here, things went better, and going, and I must come to the end. I stuck to my work and my home. Put your band under my pillow, Soon, however, I fell in with the old Tom, and take out the box that's set, and into the old ways. Emily there. The certificate of marriage tried hard to wean me, but 'twas is there, and Emily's letters which no use; I grew worse and worse. she wrote to her father; and there Then our first child died, and that is also my will, giving her all that's startled me back from my courses. left—not much, but enough to take 'Twas only for a while, however. So her home and keep her for some things went on until two years had time in comfort. Now you must passed, and another child was born deliver these to her, if she is still to us, but nothing had effect on alive-promise me that for the sake me; drink, drink-gamble, gamble of old times.'-'Yes, yes,' I said,
was all I thought of. Emily now 'I will ; but how shall I find her began to lose patience, and would What clue have I to seek her by?'taunt me and speak in her proud 'There is that address she gave, in way, and this would madden me so, the box, and Dingo. Dingo there,' that I have struck her-yes, Tom— pointing to one of the country dogs often struck her. Still she stayed which lay by the bed, will be a by me, though God knows my house great help, a good guide; he was was then no place for her. One very fond of her, and would know night, however, mad with days of her at once anywhere.
But you drinking, and aggravated by some- will find her, Tom; God will guide thing she said, I told her-God for you ; He has sent you here. Poor give me !-that our marriage was Emily! I should have wished to ask a sham one, that she was not my her forgiveness—but there are so