Skip to main content
Hide Articles List

17 articles on this Page

LONDON LETTER.I

Advertising

THE BETROTHAL OF PRINCESS…

COAL AND IRON EXPORTS. j

THE HIGHER-GRADE SCHOOL, -…

BARBAROUS CRUELTY TO A IHORSE…

__n-1 THE CROFTERS' REVOLT.…

Advertising

----_ THE DISESTABLISHMENT"…

I ,-I THE PERILS OF PARAFFIN.

| THE ATTACK ON A FENIAN |…

THE SAD DEATH OF A YOUNG I…

! THE VERY BEST!

---IDORA'S HERO.

News
Cite
Share

I DORA'S HERO. At precisely nine minutes past four, on a sunny afternoon in June, Mr John Appleby ascended tila steps of his boarding-house, the residence of the widow Dillingham. There was nothing very extraordinai-y in this fa;;t alone, for, except on two occasions, Mr Appleby had ascended the same steps at precisely the same moment every week- day afternoon for the past live years. But as Mr Appleby ascended the steps on this particular afternoon he saw, framed in the sitting- room, a vision so surprising as to invest the occa- sion for him with extraordinary interest, and to cause him considerable perturba- tion as he searched for his latch-key; for Mr Appleby was a batchelor of extreme modesty and diffidence, and it was with no little nervousness that he became suddenly aware that he was the object of attention from a pair of very beautiful blue eyes, whose possessor, a young girl and a stranger, sat m the window with Laura Dilling- ham. n Some visitor of Laura's, I presume," he thought. I wonder if it is the-Miss Bartlett whom she told me she expected ?" Mr Appleby went straight to his room and re- mained there until the dinner bell rang. With his hair brnshed with unusual care, and his neck- tie adjusted with extraordinary pains, he then descended the stairs. When half-wav to the dining-rcom, his mind misgave him "that his collar was not perhaps strictly comme ilfaui, and he returned to change it. This made him late at table, and it was a positive trial to his diffident nature when he entered the dining-room and found the family seated, with the inexpressible blue eyes of the stranger directly upon him as he took his chair. "Mr Appleby-Miss Dora Bartlett," said Laura. Mr Appleby bowed and blushed. isn't it splendid, Mr Appleby ?'• continued j Laura. Dora is going to spend a whole month with us. We'll have no end of fun> ]y[r Appleby, I m goiug to engage you in advance to. help us to entertain h jr." Mr Appleby drew a long breath and said he would. Miss Dora Bartlett's blue eyes looked up at him from over the edge of her teacup wi,th an amused expression, and Mr Appleby dropped his spoon and felt rather awkward and nervous. Tom Dilling- ham, who at his own special request, had procured his seat to be changed so that he could sit next to the visitor, observed that as he was to have a horse he would expect Miss Bartlett to order him to take her wherever she wished to go. Mr Appleby offered no suggestion, but in his own mind considered Tom a presumptuous and rather disagreeable fellow. As the meal progressed, Mr Appleby regained something of his accustomed composure. His occasional glances across the table showed him that Miss Dora Bartlett had a very pleasant and winning smile, considerable colour, a rich mass of sunny blonde hair, and that she was altogether a very attracting and fascinating sort of person. She had an irresistible way, also, of drawing con- versation out of everybody, even out of Mr Appleby, and before the meal was over that gentleman found himself, to his great astonish- ment. carrying on quite a glib and lively chat something that he had never before been known to do during his five years' residence in the house. n I say," said Tom to his sister that evening, when he obtained an opportunity of speaking to her alone, "Appleby seems quite fascinated, doesn't he ?" But it was not Appleby alone who was fasci- nated, as beenma evident within the next few days. Tom's horse and carriage arrived in due season, giving him chances for tete-a-tetcs with the new- comer, and it soon became apparent to all ob- servers that Mr Tom Dillingham was falling rapidly over head and ears in love with Miss Dora Bartlett. Mr Appleby, too, began to astonish the neigh- bours by coming home an hour earlier in the afternoons. Lawn tennis began to have an attraction for him, and he even condescended on one memorable evening to personate a comic character in an acted charade. "It's so funny said Laura to her friend one night, after they had retired to their own room to prepare for bed. "Here is poor, bashful Mr Appleby, who scarcely ever opened his mouth before you came, transformed into another being. You seem to have fairly electrified him, Dora." Dora let loose her wealth of hair as she stood before the glass and laughed. H" is strange," she said. don t care, said Laura, I like him. He is not very brilliant perhaps, but he doesn't tell all he knows. He's just the kind of man to make a good husband." Husband exclaimed Dora-" him Oh, dear me Well, it's all a matter of taste. If ever I get married, which I never, never, never shall, I shall look out for a hero. But I shall never find him, Laura." concluded Dora with a sigh. "Such men are too scarc," Nevertheless, Miss Dora Bartlett found Mr Appleby a very convenient refuge, sometimes, from Tom Dillingham's too effusive attentions! She did not dislike him, and being someMiing of a flirt, siie found it a pleasant amusement to"play one of these gentlemen against the other. Thero- fore it was with no little chagrin that Mr Dilling- ham saw Mr Appleby return on the morning of the proposed picnic, with a very stylish horse and waggonette, and a flower in his button-hole, and learned from Miss Bartlett, almost at the same moment, that she was to be Mr Appleby's guest for the day. It might have been a merry party; if Tom had been better na,tured and had not persisted in driv- ing so unconscionably slow. The Bodwin girls and Joe Thompson and the Telfords—all neigh- bours—were to meet the party at the Grassland," j butgot tired and drove on with Mr Appleby and Dora, so that by the time Tom and his sister arrived at the Grove, the gentlemen had already selected a spot for luncheon and had built a fire and picketted their horses while the girls had doffed their wraps, and began to make themselves quite at home. "It's a perfect shame," said Laura to Dora we might have kept up with you as well as not, but Tom was sulky because you didn't ride with him, and he would not drive faster than a walk, in spite of all that I could say. It's too bad Leave him to me," said Dora, quietly. I'll soon bring him to a sense of his duty." She went over to him and placed her hand on his shoulder; a little, white soft hand, whose touch was to Tom Dillingham like a thrill from a | mild electric battery. Mr Appleby has just asked me to go with him to the top of the cliff," she said. I want to go, but I want you to come with me. Will you ?" There was a significant, though slight, emphasis on the you which went well with the intent look that flashed out cf the beautiful eyes. Tom was too far gone to be imperious to either, and he succumbed at once. I would go to the end of the world," he said, impulsively, "if you asked it." Miss Bartlett blushed and looked down. I haven't asked it," she said. Mr Appleby is wait- ing. so come." It was Tom's turn to look triumphantly at Appleby now. and the latter's turn to glower at Tom. As for Miss Dora she seemed entirely ob- livious of the truculent feelings of either of the gentlemen, but tripped merrily up the hill, accept- ing assistance from both, and chatting with which- ever happened to be nearest to her side. The summit of the cliff, when reached, was certainly a beautiful spot and well worth the toil of climbing to it. Miss Bartlett clutched the coat sleeves of both gentlemen as she leaned over the precipice and gazed timidly down into the gulf. x What a beautiful scene!" exclaimed Mr Appleby. Lovely said Miss Dora, holding his arm a little tighter, and leaning over a little farther, but it makes me dizzy." Mr Dillingham observed that it was perfectly chfirming. But just at this moment, when Mis Bartlett hands were both engaged, in /rasping the gent men's arms, and when both the gentleme l such a consequent state of bliss oblivious of all else, there came up a sudd^n gu.t of wind which took Miss Bartlett s hat from her head, and after earring it out over-the abyss, and holding it suspended for a moment n mid-air, deposited it finally <on the extreme tip of a very tender sapling that extended horizontally from thedace of tho cliff. Miss Bartlett sprang back, and putting both hands to her blonde tresses, screamed "My hat!" The gentleman looked from Miss Dora, in her pretty distress, to the hat, and from the hat back to Miss Dora again. What a misfortune exclaimed Mr Appleby. Can't you get it for me ?" asked Miss Bartlett, piteousiy. T Impossible it would be as much as one s life is worth." Miss Bartlett pouted her red lip. As I sup- posed," she thought. He is a coward." But Dillingham stepped to the edge, and without hesitation placed her foot on the swaying branch. I will try to reach it," he said. Fool exclaimed Mr Appleby, springing forward and seizing him by the arm, "Are you mad ?" 'l But Tom's weight was already on the sapling. It beat beneath him there was a crash, a fall of .loose stones, a cloud of dust from the broken -there roots, ^an^ia^nofch^iastantsthera^assad. before Dora's terrified gaze a vision of hat and tree going down into the gulf, and Tom Dillingham hanging over the precipice, sustained only by Mr Apple- by's strong grasp. In another instant Tom was hauled up upon the rock, looking rather bewildered. Miss Bartlett gav? him both her hands effusively. Mr Dillingham, you are a hero," she said. Mr Appleby turned away disgusted. He is an idiot," he thought, but did not s-y it. "Sorry that your hat is gone, but I suppose it can't be helped," replied Tom, with a gratified lank. "Thanks, Appleby." Poor Mr Appleby The picnic was quite spoiled for him, for thereafter Miss Bartlett took scarcely more notice of him than if be were the table-cl«th or one of the bottles that held the beer. Miss Bartlett was, however, a lady. She did not mean to be rude to Mr Appleby. She was piqued at his refusal to climb for her hat, and gratified by Tom's readiness to risk his life for the same unworthy object, simply because it was hers. With her youthful notions there was something very heroic and admirable to her in Tom's daring attempt, and something very contemptible and cowardly in Appleby's hesitation. Yet she had a secret misgiving that even the Black Prince would have looked a little ridiculous in tumbling over a cliff after a woman's bonnet, and being dragged up again on terrafirma by his rival, delapidated and dirt-begrimmed and that after all, Mr Appleby had, of the two, displayed the most common sense. With this little twinge of conscience, Miss Dora resolved to make it up with Mr Appleby on the way home. Therefore when his horse was har- nessed, and he stood holding thereifls as it a little doubtful whether she intended to return home with him or with Dillingham, she came to him and placing her hand on his arm-the same little hand which had worked so potent a spell on Tom that morninz-said .— Oh, Mr Appleby, won't you drive me around by the old mill ? I know it's farther, but it is so much pleasanter that way and if we drive fast we can get home just as soon as the others. And please may I (iri ve ? Mr Appleby felt himself transformed. The alacrity with which he assented and fairly leape into the carriage would have astonished Leonard himself. Miss Bartlett gathered up the reins, and with a wicked glance at Tom, who had not yet loaded up his tea-kettle and baskets, gave the horse a smart cut with the whip, and was out of sight in the bend of the road before any of the others had started. If Miss Bartlett had snubbed Mr Appleby, she seemed determined now to efface that from his recollection. She never talked to him with so much animation, and never seemed so satisfied with his company as now. She laughed and made Mr Appleby laugh. She joked and made Mr Appleby joke, though he was not remarkable as a joker. her cheeks glowed, her eyes sparkled, her dimples came and went, and when at last she suddenly turned to him and asked him—yes, actually asked him, Mr Appleby—if he wouldn't please tie his handkerchief around her head, be- cause the night air was getting cool, and she had no hat, Mr Appleby was wholly unable to realise whether be stood on his feet or his head, or whether he fiLtdAiiy head at all. "I can't tie it myself," said Miss Bartlett, "and do the driving too." Mr Appleby suggested that she should by no means relinquish the reins. The horse was skit- tish, and might run. Of course he could do the tying. She turned her face toward him and raised her chin. Mr Appleby produced the handkerchief, and slowly and carefully adjusted it. Then he brought the ends together a little below the full, red mouth, and-wen, he never knew how he came to do it, but when the knot was tied, he suddenly threw his arms about her and kissed her directly upon her lips. The immediate result was to Mr Appleby absolutely dreadful. Miss Bartlett threw herself away from him and turned pale as death. Then she turned red to the tips of her ears, her lips quivered for an instant, and dropping the reins, she burst into a paroxysm of sobbing. If Mr Appleby had had a bottle of prussic acid about him ue would probably have immediately swallowed it. Overwhelmed with remorse he wildly sought her to forgive him. Miss Bartlett gained her composure at last, and in her most freezing tones, said:- Drive me home at once, if you please." At least lei us go round by the mill, as we proposed. It is scarcely further now," pleaded Mr Applebv. When I suggested it," replied his companion, I supposed I was in the company of a gentle- man. I have discovered my mistake. You will be kind enough to tbke me home by the quickest; possibla way." Mr Appleby gave the hoise a savage ksh with the whip,and ilS snd-hm ly reined him in. They were inmost upon a railway crossing, and as ha pulled up the shrill whistle of the locomotive was beard around the curve. In the road before them, and almost upon the track, were two bare-footed children, evidently careless of the approaching train. Mr Awpleby flung hi'.aseii out of to ca; riage. with a snout, and sprang upon the s- child, a littie girl of turee, who liud paused, be- wildered, t,etween-the riL. All th's Dorr- no'.ea jn an instant. Her next •;oi)fu.-ed impression was of an awful roar as the • rain dashed by, a cloud of smoke and cinders tiint blinded her, a terrible scream from the elder child, and a vision of Mr Appleby rolling over and over in the dust and smoke and confusion with the little one in his arms-and then her horse backed the carriage into the bushes, and she sac down upon the seat and covered her face with her hands. When she looked up, Mr Appleby was standing by the wheel, with his clothing torn and covered with dust, and with the blood streaming from an ugiy cut in his eiieek. I thought you were killed," she said. "I am not much hurt," he replied gravely. But I shall be obliged to borrow back my hand- kcrchiel, I ain afraid." Instantly Miss Bartlett produced her own, and leaning over to hirn, bound it about his wound. The Mr Appleby led the horse into the road once I more, and climbing stiffly into the carriage, re- sumed the reins. I Not a word was spoken by either during the remainder of the ride, until the foot of the hill below the Dillingham residence was reached, but Mr Appleby, glancing at Dora from time to time in the midst of his own meditations, observed that she was crying softly to herself bearly all the way. When the horses began to climb the hill, Dora first broke the silence :— Mr Appleby," she said, looking up at him with her lovely eyes dim with tears, I was offended with you because-because you kissed me." I was a madman," began Mr Appleby, but Dora put up her hands to stop him. t( If you would kiss me now," she said, I would consider that yon had done me an honour. It was a very long hill, and the horse was doubt- Jess very tired, for he came to a halt a great many times that night before reaching the top arid it was quite dark when Mr Appleby's horse stopped at last before the gate, so that the family saw nothing of the tender manner m whicn that gentleman lifted Miss Bartlett out, or of the little lingering caress which she gave hnn before s e went into the house. 11 where For goodness' sake," said Laura, et that have you been ? I concluded you had met that hero whom you are looking for» an away with him, as you promised. "I did," said Dora. „ And what was his name, p ay Mr John Appleby, my future husband."

--INCREASED COMMUNICATION…

Advertising

! YANKEE YARNS. i