Pet Perennials, no. 1 chapter 2 [by Patty Parsley (Menie Parkes), 24 September 1859]

[Editor: A short story by Menie Parkes, under the name of “Patty Parsley”. Published in The Australian Home Companion and Band of Hope Journal, 24 September 1859. This story consisted of chapters 1, 2, and 3, all published in the same issue.]

Chapter II.

Not in scorn do I reprove thee,
Not in pride thy vows I waive,
But, believe, I could not love thee,
Wert thou a prince and I a slave.

* * * * *

Can I love? Oh, deeply — truly —
Warmly — fondly — but not thee!

Olave sought the drawing-room, and the old lady stood at the top of the stairs and listened anxiously; old ladies will do such things, you know, gentle reader. There was a lulling sound of voices, a silence, and a murmuring again, and then the drawing-room door flew open, and Mr. Weston trod hastily through the hall, mounted his horse, and rode furiously homeward. Then Olave came out, and the old lady retreated to her own room, but not before she had seen that the girl’s cheek was flushed, her eye tearful, and her elastic step more tardy than usual. Mrs. Glenstone fidgeted about for awhile, but the true woman’s heart was working within her, and presently she sought Olave’s chamber. She entered, and found her kneeling. Long she stood there and watched the slight form trembling with emotion, and heard the heaving sobs that burst from the purple lips, but at last Olave rose. ‘Poor lassie, my poor lassie,’ said the kind old lady, ‘for what do you grieve so bitterly.’

Olave smiled through her tears. ‘Though I wept, I did not kneel to grieve, madam, but to give thanks to my God.’ She blushed, and hesitated for a moment, and then enquired, ‘you know the purpose for which Mr. Weston called, madam?’

‘I did — and you accepted him?’

‘No; oh no, no, no!’

‘For what then did you thank God?’

‘That he had enabled me to withstand a strong temptation, and refuse the hand of a man whom I never could love.’

‘Why not?’

‘I don’t know — oh, don’t ask me — but I’m sure I never could.’

‘He is talented, kind, upright, and with all wealthy and influential?’

‘He is — but I could not love him.’

‘He is good-looking and pleasant?’

‘Yes — but I never could love him.’

‘Reason like a woman — but why?’

‘I don’t know.’

‘He is about to purchase Lystor-Dale.’

‘I know it — that was the great temptation — he told me so — he said it was for my sake he was doing so.’

‘And you answered —’

‘That I was sorry he had thought to bribe me to love, or that he could be content to marry one who did not love him.’

‘But, my dear Miss Lystor, in reality what is your reason for refusing so good an offer, and if you do not regret doing so why are you weeping so bitterly even now?’

‘I refused him because I never will marry a man unless I love him with my whole being; unless he annihilates all thought of self in my heart, and becomes the one only object of my earthly existence ; unless, in short, he holds a position in reverence to me only inferior to that of my God. But I pity him: oh, Mrs. Glenstone, I pity him from my heart. If I were in his place — if one I loved refused me — I should die, I think — I think I should die. I could not act otherwise, but I am grieved, deeply grieved, that I have caused him such a sorrow.’

Mrs. Glenstone laid a kiss on the maiden’s burning brow, and whispered, ‘Be comforted dear child, he will not feel it as you would: he is of a colder, less impulsive nature, he will soon conquer down his feelings by his strong good sense.’

‘I hope he will,’ murmured Olave. ‘I hope he will.’

‘But, my dear Miss Lystor,’ archly observed the old lady, ‘how do you know that you ever could feel such a love as you describe, towards any human being, unless you have done so already — have you?’

Olave blushed rosy-red. ‘Oh Mrs. Glenstone, I — I — I —’ she stammered, and drew in her breath, then burst into a passion of tears. ‘I loved my father so,’ she sobbed.

Mrs. Glenstone drew her caressingly towards her, with a soothing ‘hush darling hush,’ and when she was again calm, she gazed down into the lovely face reclining upon her bosom, and whispered, ‘only your father. Olave!’ Olave started. ‘Ah! come, Olave,’ the old lady said with a smile, ‘you are completely caught, come, tell me who it is ?’

Olave started to her feet; and called back with an effort her dignity to her aid, and said, ‘I will not deny, my dear madam, that I have seen one for whom I could feel as I have said, but most assuredly I will not reveal my own frailty by telling his name. Therefore, I entreat that you will not request what I never can concede?’

‘You are right dear lassie; keep your secret, and I will ask no more about it,’ and with a caress and a blessing Mrs. Glenstone left the room, admiring with the earnestness of a loving heart the noble principles of her pretty governess, but more than ever convinced that she loved somebody not far distant. ‘I wonder who it is,’ mused the old lady; ‘I wonder who it is!’

The Australian Home Companion and Band of Hope Journal (Sydney, NSW), 24 September 1859, pp. 392-393

[Editor: Corrected “figeted” to “fidgeted”; “goodlooking” to “good-looking”; “passiou” to “passion”.]

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