Her head felt painful from the effects of the blow she had received, but her one thought was to get home to Archie and Selina, so gathering up the reins she sent Rory along as quickly as she could. When she drove up to the gate Archie and Selina were both out to receive her, and when the former went to lift her off the trap, he gave a cry of horror at seeing her dishevelled appearance and the blood on her face.
‘God save us!’ he cried, lifting her down; ‘what’s come t’ ye, and where’s the nugget?’ seeing it was not in the trap.
‘Lost!’ she said, in a stupor, feeling her head swimming, ’but there’s worse.’
‘Worse?’ echoed Selina and Archie, who were both standing looking terrified at one another.
‘Yes,’ said Mrs Villiers, in a hollow whisper, leaning forward and grasping Archie’s coat, ‘I’ve killed my husband,’ and without another word, she fell fainting to the ground.
At the same time Vandeloup and Pierre walked into the bar at the Wattle Tree Hotel, and each had a glass of brandy, after which Pierre went to his bed, and Vandeloup, humming a gay song, turned on his heel and went to the theatre.
A GLIMPSE OF BOHEMIA
‘Ah!’ says Thackeray, pathetically, ’Prague is a pleasant city, but we all lose our way to it late in life.’
The Wopples family were true Bohemians, and had not yet lost their way to the pleasant city. They accepted good and bad fortune with wonderful equanimity, and if their pockets were empty one day, there was always a possibility of their being full the next. When this was the case they generally celebrated the event by a little supper, and as their present season in Ballarat bid fair to be a successful one, Mr Theodore Wopples determined to have a convivial evening after the performance was over.
That the Wopples family were favourites with the Ballarat folk was amply seen by the crowded house which assembled to see ’The Cruet Stand’. The audience were very impatient for the curtain to rise, as they did not appreciate the overture, which consisted of airs from ‘La Mascotte’, adapted for the violin and piano by Mr Handel Wopples, who was the musical genius of the family, and sat in the conductor’s seat, playing the violin and conducting the orchestra of one, which on this occasion was Miss Jemima Wopples, who presided at the piano. The Wopples family consisted of twelve star artistes, beginning with Mr Theodore Wopples, aged fifty, and ending with Master Sheridan Wopples, aged ten, who did the servants’ characters, delivered letters, formed the background in tableaux, and made himself generally useful. As the cast of the comedy was only eight, two of the family acted as the orchestra, and the remaining two took money at the door. When their duties in this respect were over for the night, they went into the pit to lead the applause.