The Wilderness Mine - Harold Bindloss - ebook

The Wilderness Mine ebook

Harold Bindloss

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This is a novel that contains a mixture of romance and adventure. Events taking place in Canada. Readers can watch the life of a simple girl who, without money, went for a better life. A novel about a strong girl who, despite the obstacles, is ready to go to the end.

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Liczba stron: 433

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Contents

PART I

CREIGHTON'S PATENT

I. Mrs. Creighton's Extravagance

II. The Reckoning

III. The Spirit Tank

IV. Stayward Finds Out

V. Mrs. Creighton Refuses

VI. Ruth Is Moved to Anger

VII. Ruth's Adventure

VIII. Mrs. Creighton's Jealousy

IX. Ruth Gets to Work

X. Geoffrey's New Post

PART II

THE RIDEAU MINE

I. The Bush

II. Geoffrey Engages a Cook

III. Snow

IV. The Mine

V. Geoffrey Trespasses

VI. Carson Experiments

VII. The Dam

VIII. Carson Resumes His Occupation

IX. Geoffrey's Holiday

X. Carson's Advice

XI. Geoffrey's Triumph

XII. Carson's Last Journey

PART III

THE STRUGGLE

I. Geoffrey's Return

II. Geoffrey Meets Miss Creighton

III. The Shieling

IV. The Stack

V. Ruth's Persuasion

VI. The Brown Car

VII. Mrs. Creighton's Weak Moment

VIII. The Brown Car Stops

IX. Ruth Goes to Nethercleugh

X. The Portrait

XI. Ruth Rebels

XII. Mrs. Creighton Retracts

PART I

CREIGHTON'S PATENT

CHAPTER I

MRS. CREIGHTON’S EXTRAVAGANCE

The drawing-room window at Iveghyll was open, and Creighton, lounging on the seat in the thick wall, listened while Mrs. Creighton talked. This was his habit, for Mrs. Creighton talked much, and as a rule expected him to agree. She was resolute and, by concentrating on her object and disregarding consequences, had so far been able to satisfy her rather mean ambitions. Now Creighton saw the consequences must be faced. In fact, it was getting obvious that Janet must pull up, but he doubted if he could persuade her.

Although Iveghyll was not a large country house, Creighton knew it was too large for him. It occupied a green hollow at the bottom of a dark fir-wood that rolled down the hill, and a beck brawled among gray bowlders across the lawn. The lawn was wide and a rhythmic hum mingled with the drowsy splash of water as the gardener’s boy drove a pony mower across the smooth grass. Behind the belt of red and white rhododendrons, a greenhouse glittered in the last beam of sunshine that slanted down the fell. A sweet resinous smell from the fir-wood drifted into the room.

Creighton was fond of Iveghyll. After the smoke and ugliness of the mining village where he spent his days, its quiet beauty was soothing. Moreover, the old house gave its occupants some standing in the rather lonely neighborhood, and Mrs. Creighton valued this. She was the daughter of a small landlord, who had died in debt but had been unable to borrow money on the property her mother had left her. Only her lawyers knew how small the income she derived from her tied-up inheritance really was.

For all that, Creighton might have lived at Iveghyll without much strain, had his wife been content to study economy and had he been firm. The trouble was, Mrs. Creighton was firm and he was weak. In a short-sighted way, she was clever, and her main object was to keep up the traditions of the landowning stock from which she sprang. In order to do so, she had urged on her slack and careless husband, and by and by meant to marry her daughter well. In the meantime, there was no reason why Ruth should not develop her musical talent. The girl had no social ambition and not much beauty, but now-a-days talent brought one recognition.

“You must get me the money,” she declared. “Although I cut short my stay in town, I was forced to borrow from Christine. Then there are many bills, and Ruth’s going to Munich is an expensive business. She must have a proper outfit and allowance. One cannot tell whom she may meet, and my daughter must not be shabby.”

“One understands students are generally poor,” Creighton remarked.

“Ruth must be able to meet the other kind,” Mrs. Creighton rejoined. “She is, of course, a little unconventional, but this is, perhaps, because she is young, and when one has talent, a touch of originality is not a drawback. Ruth will not forget she springs from the Hassals.”

Creighton yawned. He was tired of hearing about the vanished glories of his wife’s family, and after all they had not been people of much importance. Their fame had not gone beyond the secluded North of England dale. The last Hassal’s death was, however, regretted by numerous disappointed creditors.

“Oh, well,” said Creighton. “How much do you want?”

When Mrs. Creighton told him he moved abruptly and tried to brace himself.

“I can’t get you this sum,” he replied. “When I wrote the last check, before you went to town, you declared you wouldn’t bother me again for long. For that matter, I thought you ought not to go at all.”

Mrs. Creighton gave him a cold glance. “Before I married, I spent every season in town, and now you grudge me two or three weeks! I gave up much for your sake, but one cannot be altogether a recluse. Do you expect me to be satisfied with three or four dull neighbors and such amusements as one can get at this bleak, lonely spot?”

Creighton hardly thought she expected an answer and for a few moments he mused and looked about. The drawing-room was expensively furnished, but without much hint of taste; the lawn and garden his view commanded were good. This was his province, although Janet had urged him to build the new greenhouse and get help for the gardener, and he would have been happy at Iveghyll, pottering about his grass and flowers, had she left him alone. Still, keeping things in shape was rather a strain; he ought not to employ a gardener, but Janet encouraged his spending money on the grounds. She liked Iveghyll to grow the finest flowers and earliest fruit in the dale.

He studied her rather critically. She had kept something of her beauty, although her face and hair were getting thin. Her mouth and eyes were good but hard, and on the whole she looked querulous and dissatisfied. Janet was not robust and sometimes used her weak health as a means for extorting concessions Creighton knew he ought not to make. He had a touch of cynical philosophy and admitted his feebleness. Now, however, he must try to be firm.

“We have been spending too much and must stop,” he said. “I can’t give you the money you want. Our account at the bank is very low and it’s lucky Stayward is too occupied to look at the books. I’m rather afraid there’ll be trouble when he finds out how much I’ve drawn.”

“You are Stayward’s partner.”

“That is so. As the law stands, I’m justified in using the house’s money; ethically, I’m not. I invested nothing when Stayward built the coke ovens, and he has spent remarkably little on himself. In fact, John uses Spartan self-denial; I don’t know how the fellow lives.”

“You did invest something. Stayward could not have started the coke ovens but for your invention.”

Creighton agreed. He was slack and careless, but he had a talent for chemistry and had some time since patented an apparatus for refining tar. It was typical that after a few disappointments he had given up his efforts to get the invention used and had done nothing with it until Stayward built the coke ovens. Indeed, it was then owing to Mrs. Creighton’s urging that he talked about his retorts and condensers to Stayward, who saw the invention might be profitable and gave him a share in the business.

“To some extent, I suppose your argument is good,” he said. “The coal in our neighborhood is not adapted for coking; the stuff’s too soft to stand a heavy load and blast-furnace owners pay us some shillings a ton less than they give the Durham makers. If it was not for the by-products we distill, I doubt if we could carry on. But you know something about this–”

“It’s important that Stayward knew.”

“Oh, well,” said Creighton. “Stayward is shrewd and obstinate. If he had not been obstinate, we should have been forced to stop some time since. Our experiments were expensive; we had no money behind us, and couldn’t borrow, because Stayward had mortgaged the ovens. He has worked early and late, and spent nothing except on the new plant. You see, the interest on the mortgage was a steady drain. Now our stuff is getting known, and although money is very short, it begins to look as if we would soon turn the corner. All the same we have got to use stern economy. There’s the trouble, because if we could spend a sum on better retorts, it would help our progress.”

“In the meantime, I must pay our debts and Ruth must go to Munich. Christine needs the money she lent me and our creditors cannot be put off.”

Creighton’s smile was ironically resigned. “I have preached retrenchment, but I suppose there is no use in talking about this. We have got the things you wanted and must try to meet the bill, although whether they were worth the price or not is another matter. We have outshone our neighbors when we gave a dinner; you and Ruth have gone to London when Harrogate satisfied your friends, and our name has been pretty near the top of local subscription lists. I don’t know if it was charity, but we gave more than we ought. Now Ruth is to go to Munich with an allowance that will no doubt excite the other students’ envy. Well, I grudge this least, but all the same I’m bankrupt and the bill has come in.”

There was a new note in Creighton’s voice and Mrs. Creighton looked at him rather hard. He was a handsome man, but one remarked a hint of indulgence that had not been there when he married. Then Tom had begun to look old; there were lines on his forehead and wrinkles about his eyes. For all that, Mrs. Creighton did not mean to be disturbed. Tom had long talked economy, but he had left her to pinch.

“I don’t think I have been extravagant,” she replied. “It has been a struggle to keep up our position with insufficient means. But I must have the money–”

She stopped, for a small car rolled up the drive and vanished behind the shrubs. A few moments afterwards a girl carrying a violin case opened the glass door on to the terrace and came into the room. Ruth Creighton was tall, with a slim, well-balanced figure and graceful pose. Her look was frank and her gray eyes were steady; her mouth was rather large and her skin was colorless. As a rule, strangers did not think her attractive, but her friends declared Ruth had a charm that gradually got stronger for people who knew her well. Perhaps the characteristics one noted first were her frankness and honesty.

“Had you a pleasant afternoon at Carrock?” Mrs. Creighton asked.

Ruth sat down and smiled. “Yes; at least, I know the performers had, although it’s possible our friends were bored. We took ourselves rather seriously and gave them the best music we could play. Jack Fawcett’s friend from town is, of course, one of our famous amateurs.”

“He is well known,” Mrs. Creighton agreed. “What did he think about your playing?”

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