The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 11 (June 1, 1930)
Our Women's Section
A Love Story
It hung there on the wall—sometimes bathed in a flood of sunshine—sometimes mysterious in the shadows of night. It was the portrait of a young girl in a summer frock. The half gay, half sad and wholly childish face looked down upon the boy as he lay there day after day in his long chair. It seemed to call to him in the silence of the sick room—a clear call of youth and health, of sunshine and green fields. All the things that had been denied him because of his infirmity were in that portrait of an unknown girl with wide questioning eyes and a smile of friendliness and sympathy. Sometimes Guy would hold long conversations with the picture—although he would have been terribly ashamed to confess to such romantic folly. He would call her Isobel—because that was his favourite name—he would tell her about the books he had been reading—would imagine that he was racing over the hills with her in the wind or dancing with her to the lilting music of the “Blue Danube” which floated through the house from the gramophone downstairs. She would tell him of many things—of the bright gorse on the hillsides—of her dreams and the beauty of the starlight on the waters. “Poor old Guy”—his brothers' friends would say—“Tough luck for him, poor chap, lying there all day with a crippled leg!” They sometimes rushed in to see him—jolly boys and laughing girls—invited to the house by his sisters. They talked merrily of dances, the latest “hits,” Edgar Wallace yarns. He tried to be interested and amused as they obviously wanted him to be, but he looked at the portrait on the wall and in his heart there grew up a great love, fostered by his infirmity and his loneliness. He wanted to leap up from his bed—to be strong once more—so that he could win the world. Then he would seek everywhere for his girl of the laughing eyes and heap all his treasures at her feet. Guy was only twenty at the time and being a cripple shut away from the rushing world he still cherished many illusions—he belonged to the days of Sir Galahad—to the days of chivalry and old world romance. In reality it was just before the Great War—the momentous year 1914.
Ten years have passed, ten years full of the most terrible and devastating experiences known to mankind. In one short decade boys have become old men; jolly girls sad-eyed women—and Guy Maitland, the crippled lad who used to lie in his chair and weave fanciful dreams about an unknown girl—what has become of him?
At the outbreak of the Great War Guy was a cripple—a fractured hip owing to a fall from his pony had robbed the boy of all the joyous activity which is the birthright of youth—had turned him into something of a dreamer and in his way into a rather cynical young philosopher.
In the year 1915 a very skilful operation was performed—made possible by the increased scientific knowledge necessary to patch up hundreds of distorted limbs on the fields of Flanders—and Guy found himself once more as other men—strong, active and burning with desire to “do his bit.”page 56 page 57
We will not follow him on his weary journey through the trenches—let it suffice that during those two ghastly years our dreamer became a practical hard-headed man—terse of words, prompt in action, but cherishing always in his heart a deep and youthful love for the girl who still smiled down from the wall of his old room. Some day, somewhere he would find her, and it was this thought which kept his soul gay and fresh among the sordid realities of war.
1925! London in a yellow, suffocating fog. Guy Maitland was walking along the Thames Embankment among hundreds of other shadowy figures, coat collar turned up, hands deep in pockets, mind far away. The yellowness all around him carried him back to the trenches—to clouds of suffocating sickly gas. He threw back his head and longed to breathe once more the freshness of the fields—to see once again the blaze of gorse upon the hillside of his New Zealand home. He had almost given up his mediaeval search for the girl of the picture. He felt on this miserable choking afternoon a heavy sense of disillusionment, loneliness and isolation from his fellows. Tomorrow he would leave all this behind him—his passage was booked and he would journey home once more to New Zealand with his unwritten love story buried deep in his heart.
Guy sat down wearily upon one of those historic seats, although the sordid day was closing in. Far away he heard the shrill scream of the news boys; one by one the lights came out, glowing through the fog. His last night in England!
By and by he became aware of a figure in the shadows and he heard a gay whistle, “It's a Long Way to Tipperary.” “Some one from Over There,” thought Guy, and obeying an impulse he hailed the stranger: “Who goes there?” “A brother Boche,” came the reply in a girl's clear voice. “Help me, if you can, to crank my car, for old times' sake. Something has happened to the self-starter.” The voice out of the fog was singularly sweet, low and gay. Guy, always susceptible to sense impressions, sprang to his feet to confront a slim mackintoshed figure—the face he could not see. “Righto! where is the car?” he asked, and together they strode off through the fog.
In the darkness Guy had some difficulty in starting the engine, but finally succeeded. He stepped to the side of the car while the girl at the wheel leant out and thanked him for his services. “Can you possibly give me a match—I am a frightful nuisance, aren't I?” said the voice, rather husky, but very sweet to the ears of the lonely man on the kerb. He produced his box, leant forward and struck a match—sheltering the flicker in the hollow of his hand. Then the world seemed to change for Guy—to sway and stagger. The fog lifted—he was looking up from the pillows at a picture on a bedroom wall. “Isobel,” he gasped. “You at last. Oh, my dear, I have searched for you all the world over!” The words were out before he had time to think. A pair of surprised brown eyes stared into his. He had a glimpse of a little pointed chin and a soft round cheek. “Sorry, old thing,” said the girl, “you've made a mistake, my name is Cecil—Cecil Alloway.” “It doesn't matter a bit,” said Guy. “You are and always will be Isobel to me—my picture—my childhood's friend. Why, I have known you for years. You have changed quite a lot since the days when you used to tell me fairy tales—but your eyes are just the same!”
At first Cecil thought her cavalier was mad—a man who cranks your car in the fog does not usually seize you by the shoulder and insist on calling you Isobel. However, she yielded to his ardent persuasions to have some coffee with him at a “jolly little place” he knew of—banishing from her mind the horror of her family at the idea of their only daughter picking up a perfectly strange man on the Thames Embankment as unconcernedly as if he had been a stray puppy dog. Indeed he reminded her of one. Anyhow it would be an adventure.
Sitting at a little table in a quaint Italian restaurant, he told her about Isobel of the laughing eyes, and she listened in silence, touched at his devotion to an ideal. He found that she was not, of course, the girl in the picture—but she had the same soft curls—the page 58 page 59 same half sad, half gay smile—and the same wide questioning eyes. The friendship—begun in such an unorthodox way—strengthened quickly. Guy did not sail for New Zealand for nearly six months, and then he was accompanied by Cecil Alloway. That night in the London fog had been the fulfilment of his dreams. People often wonder why Guy calls his wife Isobel.
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An Autumn Frock for the Street
The deities who preside over our fashions have decreed that skirts shall be longer and waists higher this autumn—just an inch or two both ways, and the result is amazing.
The little frock in the illustration is extremely simple, and very useful for street and office wear. Any light woollen material is suitable: viyella, rep. or checked tweed. Notice the higher waistline, and the stitched yoke. This frock opens right down the front, and has an inverted pleat from each side of the yoke. A suede belt and small hat will complete a very smart little costume for daytime wear in the autumn.
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Are Women Losing their Beauty?
Beauty! What is it? I am talking now of human, feminine beauty—that divine gift which poets have praised since the days of Helen of Troy—a gift which has drawn from musicians their sweetest, saddest songs—which has inspired the artist to produce melting and exquisite gleams of colour—which has even caused mighty empires to rise and fall. Did not the great Mark Antony lose the world for Cleopatra's dusky charms? Oh, Beauty! What follies, but, also, what noble deeds have been committed in thy service!
To the twentieth century has been granted an astonishing number of characteristics unfamiliar among our feminine ancestors. We are admittedly enterprising, practical, clear headed and strong-willed. We are frantically busy, reasonably joyous; we are living every second of our allotted three score years and ten; and they tell us that in consequence we are sacrificing our supreme gift—the gift of beauty. When we look about us in a crowded tearoom—at the theatre, in the trains, trams, everywhere—we are reluctantly compelled to admit that a poet, however poverty-stricken, would hardly prostrate himself in admiration before the lanky, shingled, loud-voiced young thing who dashes about so independently, who refuses a seat in the tram, and who discusses anything from birth control to the Labour Government, with intelligence and vigour. What we have gained in one respect we have lost in another—they tell me. The lordly male of the species takes off his hat to our acquisition of brains—to our good fellowship and help—he is faintly jealous of our capacity to do everything that he does equally well and infinitely more gracefully—but he bemoans our loss of charm. Before, he admired from afar, he looked upon us as something half angel and half imbecile, something to be cherished, chided and indulged, something strictly ornamental; in fact quite a valuable “possession.” He was proud of our beauty, and did not know, or wish to know, how we produced the effect that charmed his masculine eyes. Now-a-days all is different. “The old order” has changed indeed. We make no secret of our powder puffs and our lip-sticks—therefore we have lost half our charm! However, it is too late to draw back, and we can't give up our intellects and retire once more into servitude. We have gained freedom—why on earth should our beauty suffer from intelligence and thought? Let us give it just a little more thought, and I am convinced that a Shakespeare, a Schubert, and a Michael Angelo will arise to do homage to the eternally provocative faces of our daughters. There shall be no antagonism between Brains and Beauty, but a reconciliation resulting in a super-woman!
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For The Five-Year-Old
Here is a dainty little playtime dress for the kiddies. Very easy to make up, even from one of your own “cast offs.” Chose something bright and pretty — spots or checks. Notice the little knickers to match, showing well below the frock.page 60
The “All-Round” Girl
We watch with envy and admiration those gifted individuals who seem to be able to do everything with little effort and tremendous effect. “They are born like that,” you answer. “As for me. I'm just middling at everything.” That is absolute nonsense. Every living person has some particular gift—some special faculty which enables him to excel beyond his fellows. You may be quite unaware of the existence of your genius. All too often we go right through life unconscious of the little something deep within us which never finds expression. Herein lies the tragedy of thousands of lives, and here is unhappiness. Nothing is more fatal to human well-being than the inability to discover, develop and cultivate our own special talent—which does exist in every one of us. No one is mediocre. That is comforting. You can do something better than others—what is it? Once you have discovered your talent, give it every chance to express itself. Perhaps it is music; perhaps sport; perhaps drama; whatever it may be, cultivate it to the best of your ability and you will find a large measure of happiness.
Do as many things as ever you can—lots of girls nowadays “detest” housework—but they can all do it, and well if they have to. Nothing is beneath doing, try to develop every side of your character and become an “all round” girl—able to do everything—play a game of tennis, work well in the office, cook a good dinner, dance, take a hand at bridge, drive a car—everything! And one thing try to do really well and brilliantly.
* * *
Come out with me. The first faint ray of light Gleams dimly out of the sombre grey;
The clock strikes out in the shadowy night Its welcome to the day.
All's still in the town, but far away,
From a farmhouse which lies beyond the fog,
Calls, with great burst of joy that marks the day,
The loudly-barking dog.
Come through the grasses. Dimly now I see
The housetops, yet dark and stern against the blue,
And shuddering dewdrops on a slender tree
That's waiting there for you.
Come out with me. A great red ball of fire
Shines fiercely out of a leaden sea;
The gull moans out from the funeral pyre
A love song all for thee.