Page:Oliver Spence.djvu/18

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It was moonlight. In the garret; of a house apparently inhabited by poor people, there might have been discovered a young woman, poorly dressed, but with a sweetness of face and beauty of form which it was impossible for the poverty of her dress to entirely hide. She was weeping silently, and her finely moulded bosom heaved convulsively as she thought of the possible dreadful fate of her lover. For she loved an insurgent, and with an intense and passionate devotion of which she had hitherto considered herself incapable. The hour was late, and though her lover had promised to, if alive, send her a message assuring her of his safety, the appointed hour had passed, but no word had been received from him whom she loved.

What should she do? She would go to him.

So thinking, the young woman, hastily fastening a cloak around her superb form, and placing upon her head a tasteful but inexpensive bonnet, went forth into the streets. They were deserted.

The sombre beauty of the charred and desolated ruins of the portion of Sydney through which she passed was heightened by the wondrous pale splendor of the full moon, whose beams bathed in liquid silver, the courts and alleys of Sydney's poor. But the locality which once thronged with cringing, toil-distorted, haggard men, women, and children, was now-deserted save by the one solitary wanderer whom the reader has just been introduced to. The insurgents had literally carried out their demand—"The people, to the mansions, and the torches to the slums!' and the unhealthy disease-breeding hovels of the poor had been burnt to the ground, while their former inhabitants were now housed in the huge magnificent mansions at one time owned by the rich though frequently not occupied by them. Walking hurriedly along, our heroine at last found herself in King St. and was within a hundred yards of Macquarie St. when suddenly her naturally elegant carriage and remarkable beauty, attracted the attention of a band of nocturnal revellers who emboldened by her apparent timidity insisted on detaining her while she was made the recipient of a string of extravagant compliments. Not satisfied with this, one of the rowdies, disregarding her remonstrances and entreaties, would have snatched a kiss from her ripe ruby lips, when suddenly at tall stoutly-built young man, evidently not one of the revellers, rushed forward and pushed her would-be assailant violently side, addressing at the same time words of stern rebuke to the half drunken rioters who, recognising him, slunk, silently away.

The new comer was no other than Oliver Spence and on the young woman perceiving that it was indeed he, she fell, in a half-fainting condition, into his arms—for he was her lover. Our hero looked every inch the