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TO THE READER IT is certainly 'a far cry' from the Antipodes to England and bac again. Yet in the name of my Australian sisters who have contributed to this little volume, I venture to express a hope that our 'Coo-ee' may succeed in ma ing itself heard on either shore, and that its echoes may linger pleasantly around the Bush Station and by the English fireside. To our ind friends and readers I would therefore only say--'Coo-ee! Ta e up the cry and pass it on--Coo-ee!--and again--Coo-ee!' THE EDITOR.
CONTENTS An Old-Time Episode In Tasmania by 'Tasma' Mrs. Drummond of Quondong by Mrs. Henry Day Victims of Circe by Mrs. Mannington Caffyn The Bushman's Rest by Mrs. Lance Rawson The Story of a Photograph by Margaret Thomas The Bunyip by Mrs Campbell Praed The Tragedy In A Studio by Mrs Patchett Martin
AN OLD-TIME EPISODE IN TASMANIA THE gig was waiting upon the narrow gravel drive in front of the fuchsia--wreathed porch of Cowa Cottage. Perched upon the seat, holding the whip in two small, plump, ungloved hands, sat Trucaninny, Mr. Paton's youngest daughter, whose straw-coloured, sun-steeped hair, and clear, s y--reflecting eyes, seemed to protest against the name of a blac gin that some 'clay-brained cleric' had bestowed upon her irresponsible little person at the baptismal font some eight or nine years ago. The scene of this outrage was Old St. David's Cathedral, Hobart,--or, as it was then called, Hobart Town,--chief city of the Arcadian island of Tasmania; and just at this moment, eight o'cloc on a November morning, the said cathedral tower, round and ungainly, coated with a surface of dingy white plaster, reflected bac the purest, brightest light in the world. From Trucaninny's perch--she had ta en the driver's seat--she could see, not only the cathedral, but a considerable portion of the town, which too the form of a capital S as it followed the windings of the coast. Beyond the wharves, against which a few whalers and fishing-boats were lying idle, the middle distance was represented by the broad waters of the Derwent, radiantly blue, and glittering with silver spar les; while the far-off bac ground showed a long stretch of yellow sand, and the hazy, undulating outline of low-lying purple hills. Behind her the aspect was different. Tiers of hills rose one above the other in grand
confusion, until they culminated in the towering height of Mount Wellington, eeping guard in majestic silence over the lonely little city that encircled its base. This portion of the view, however, was hidden from Trucaninny's gaze by the weather-board cottage in front of which the gig was standing,--though I doubt whether in any case she would have turned her head to loo at it; the faculty of enjoying a beautiful landscape being an acquisition of later years than she had attained since the perpetration of the afore-mentioned outrage of her christening. Conversely, as Herbert Spencer says, the young man who was holding the horse's head until such time as the owner of the gig should emerge from the fuchsia--wreathed porch, fastened his eyes upon the beautiful scene before him with more than an artist's appeciation in their gaze. He was dressed in the rough clothes of a wor ing gardener, and so much of his head as could be seen beneath the old felt wide-awa e that covered it, bore ominous evidence of having been recently shaved. I use the word ominous advisedly, for a shaven head in connection with a wor ing suit had nothing priestly in its suggestion, and could bear, indeed, only one interpretation in the wic ed old times in Tasmania. The young man eeping watch over the gig had clearly come into that fair scene for his country's good; and the explanation of the absence of a prison suit was doubtless due to the fact he was out on a tic et-of-leave. What the landscape had to say to him under these circumstances was not precisely clear. Perhaps all his soul was going out towards the white-sailed wool-ship tac ing down the Bay on the first stage of a journey of most uncertain length; or possibly the wondrous beauty of the scene, contrasted with the unspea able horror of the one he had left, brought the vague impression that it was merely some exquisite vision. That a place so appalling as his old prison should exist in the heart of all this peace and loveliness, seemed too strange an anomaly. Either that was a nightmare and this was real, or this was a fantastic dream and that was the revolting truth; but then which was which, and how had he, Richard Cole, late No. 213, come to be mixed up with either? As though to give a practical answer to his melancholy question, the sharp tingle of a whip's lash made itself felt at this instant across his chee . In aiming the cumbersome driving-whip at the persistent flies exploring the mare's bac , Trucaninny had brought it down in a direction she had not intended it to ta e. For a moment she stood aghast. Richard's face was white with passion. He turned fiercely round; his flaming eyes seemed literally to send out spar s of anger. 'Oh, please, I didn't mean it,' cried the child penitently. 'I wanted to hit the flies. I did indeed. I hope I didn't hurt you?' The amende honorable brought about an immediate reaction. The change in the young man's face was wonderful to behold. As he smiled bac full reassurance at the offender, it might be seen that his eyes could express the extremes of contrary feeling at the very shortest notice. For all answer, he raised his old felt wide-awa e in a half-moc ing though entirely courtly fashion, li e some nineteenth century Don César de Bazan, and made a graceful bow. 'Are you tal ing to the man, Truca?' cried a querulous voice at this moment from the porch, with a stress on the you that made the little girl lower her head, shame-faced. What do you mean by disobeying orders, miss?' The lady who swept out upon the verandah at the close of this tirade was in entire accord with her voice. 'British matron' would have been the complete description of Miss Paton, if fate had not willed that
she should be only a British spinster. The inflexibility that comes of finality of opinion regarding what is proper and what is the reverse,--a rule of conduct that is of universal application for the true British matron,--expressed itself in every line of her face and in every fold of her gown. That she was relentlessly respectable and unyielding might be read at the first glance; that she had been handsome, in the same hard way, a great many years before Truca was maltreated at the baptismal font, might also have been guessed at from present indications. But that she should be the 'own sister' of the good-loo ing, military-moustached, debonair man (I use the word debonair here in the French sense) who now followed her out of the porch, was less easy to divine. The character of the features as well as of the expression spo e of two widely differing temperaments. Indeed, save for a curious dent between the eyebrows, and a something in the nostrils that seemed to say he was not to be trifled with, Mr. Paton might have sat for the portrait of one of those jolly good fellows who reiterate so tunefully that they 'won't go home till morning,' and who are as good as their word afterwards. Yet 'jolly good fellow' as he showed himself in card-rooms and among so-called boon companions, he could reveal himself in a very different light to the convicts who fell under his rule. Forming part of a system for the crushing down of the unhappy prisoners, in accordance with the principle of 'Woe be to him through whom the offence cometh,' he could return with a light heart to his brea fast or his dinner, after seeing some score of his fellow--men abjectly writhing under the lash, or pinioned in a ghastly row upon the hideous gallows. 'Use,' says Sha espeare, 'can almost change the stamp of Nature.' In Mr. Paton's case it had warped as well as changed it. Li e the people who live in the atmosphere of Courts, and come to regard all outsiders as another and inferior race, he had come to loo upon humanity as divisible into two classes--namely, those who were convicts, and those who were not. For the latter, he had still some ready drops of the mil of human indness at his disposal. For the former, he had no more feeling than we have for sna es or shar s, as the typical and popular embodiments of evil. Miss Paton had speedily adopted her brother's views in this respect. Summoned from England to eep house for him at the death of Trucaninny's mother, she showed an aptitude for introducing prison discipline into her domestic rule. From constant association with the severe régime that she was accustomed to see exercised upon the convicts, she had ended by regarding disobedience to orders, whether in children or in servants, as the unpardonable sin. One of her laws, as of the Medes and Persians, was that the young people in the Paton household should never exchange a word with the convict servants in their father's employ. It was hard to observe the letter of the law in the case of the indoor servants, above all for Truca, who was by nature a garrulous little girl. Being a truthful little girl as well, she was often obliged to confess to having had a tal with the latest importation from the gaol,--an avowal which signified, as she well new, the immediate forfeiture of all her wee 's poc et-money. On the present occasion her apologies to the gardener were the latest infringement of the rule. She loo ed timidly towards her aunt as the latter advanced austerely in the direction of the gig, but, to her relief, Miss Paton hardly seemed to notice her. 'I suppose you will bring the creature bac with you, Wilfrid?' she said, half-questioningly, half-authoritatively, as her brother mounted
The time before. with rugged cliffs gleaming forth from a purple bac ground. for a strip of London pavement in front of his old club. half--authoritatively. since the day when he had madly passed sentence of transportation on himself and his family. Mr. Perhaps twelve years of unthin ing acquiescence in the flogging and hanging of convicts had distorted his mental focus. to an earthly Paradise as could well be conceived. indeed. Tal of prisoners. folded one around the other. The blow had been only too well aimed. tossed from the Creator's hand into the desolate Southern Ocean. a thief. To his left the wide Derwent shone and spar led in blue robe and silver spangies. li e the Bay of Naples. As a matter of fact. In a month's time. he did not wear a canary-coloured livery. with the exception. fearful of pronouncing it openly before Truca and the convict gardener. because the pay of a Government cler in. The morning. perhaps. and as much more to spare. 'Last time we had a drun ard and a thief. Besides which. For the past five years he had been only No. was out of joint. England did not increase in the same ratio as the income-tax. as we have seen. expiating in that capacity a righteous blow aimed at a cowardly ruffian who had sworn to marry his sister--by fair means or by foul. he told himself that those which had fallen to his share brought him but cold comfort. Well. would be himself again. Of . It was not the first time he had been sent upon the delicate mission of choosing a maid for his sister from the female prison. that her father lighted his cigar. who had sought to screen him. The time before. he had been told. li e his royal namesa e. and sentenced to seven years' transportation beyond the seas. Richard was convicted of manslaughter. and she was ma ing his children hypocrites. but I would almost suggest your loo ing among the--you now--the--in-fan-ti-cide cases this time. Paton's world. he had never seen the Bay of Naples. It is frightful to be reduced to such a choice of evils. For some reason it would be difficult to explain. politely called the Factory. halfquestioningly. His sister was a Puritan. and allowed himself to ruminate upon a thousand things that it would have been better perhaps to leave alone. it was li e a mighty rose. Paton nodded. and--and a-really I don't now which was worse. and--and a--really I don't now which was worse.' she said. was tried and condemned for perjury. Truca was allowed to drive. As for the joys of home-life.' She mouthed the word in separate syllables at her brother. as her brother mounted into the gig and too the reins from Truca's chubby hands. at the foot of Mount Wellington. With its encircling chains of mountains. and so deftly did her little fingers guide the mare. but there were times when he would have given all the beauty here. 'Last time we had a drun ard and a thief. Another disagreeable subject of reflection was the one that his groom Richard was about to leave him. In certain moods he was apt to deplore the fate that had landed--or stranded--him in this God--forsa en corner of the world. The gig bowled smoothly over the macadamized length of Macquarrie Street. of Truca. was beautiful. people said. His sister. but I would almost suggest your loo ing among the-you now--the--in-fan-ti-cide cases this time. and his prison was as near an approach. It is frightful to be reduced to such a choice of evils. indeed! What was he himself but a prisoner. 213.into the gig and too the reins from Truca's chubby hands. Richard. a thief. his selections were generally rather more successful than hers. Mr. Here to his right towered purple Mount Wellington. it was a satisfaction to have some one upon whom to throw the responsibility of the inevitable catastrophe that terminated the career of every successive tic et-of-leave in turn.
Besides which. Richard had escaped hitherto the humiliation of the lash. in their disfiguring prison livery. As to eeping him after he was a free man. Paton reflected in his present pessimistic mood.' and a half-imbecile girl. while a man in a grey prison suit. that was not to be hoped for. By an almost superhuman adherence to impossible rules. whom the superintendent qualified as a 'sour jade. Truca's father had arrived thus far in his meditations when the gig pulled up before the Factory gate. but if a flogging could be laid to his charge.--'she's No. stood at the mare's head. Of these he too no notice. with white unshaded walls. and still gentler sister woman.'--the woman's lips assumed a tight expression as she spo e. A slip of paper in a scaled envelope. Paton's mission was a delicate one. It was li e his luc . just as by his d--d good conduct he had managed to obtain a curtailment of his sentence. would effect the desired object. had become his sole rule of conduct in his relations with those who served him. 27--Amelia Clare--she came out with the last batch. exact as any machine. Of the former. The etiquette of the proceeding did not require that any explanation should be given. with the ever intelligent thoroughness that distinguished him. 'That. who stood out in such mar ed contrast with the rest. Paton only new that he would be extremely loth to part with so good a servant. whatever civilisation may have done to repress it. sir. and any subsequent revolt on his part could only involve him more deeply than before. he would have had two good years left to devote to the service of his employer. 'Who is that?' he as ed the matron in a peremptory aside. To gently scan his brother man. Mr. did not apply to his treatment of convicts. which the victim would carry himself to the nearest justice of the peace. Mr. under the immediate surveillance of an armed warder. Mr. performing the least of his duties with the same intelligent scrupulousness. that she loo ed li e a dove in the midst of a floc of vultures. Mr. to have chanced upon such a fellow. There was one means perhaps of eeping the young man in bondage. and he might continue to groom the mare and tend the garden for an indefinite space of time.the latter. which is always inherent in the human race. nothing was nown. who thought they detected a li ely loo ing man behind the Government official. but it was a means that even Mr. One or two. but he was after all an invaluable servant. The little girl was allowed to accompany her father indoors. his very presence in the household was a safeguard and a reassurance. He brought his sternest official expression to bear upon the aspirants who defiled past him at the matron's bidding. Richard would be fastened to the triangles. Paton himself hesitated to employ. threw him equivocal glances as they went by. Paton was not sure that he should feel at all at his case in dealing with a free man. Mr. and perhaps he would be intelligent enough to understand that the disagreeable formality to which he was subjected was in reality only a stri ing mar of his master's esteem for him.' . It was a large bare building. his time of probation would be of necessity prolonged. If Richard had been justly dealt with. The slave-ma ing instinct. Silent as the Slave of the Lamp. when his attention was suddenly attracted to a new arrival. but the landscape which framed it gave it a magnificent setting. His choice seemed to lie in the end between a sullen-loo ing elderly woman. Paton had no wish to hurt him.
He inquired of Amelia whether she could do fine sewing. towards which he had the annoyance of seeing all the heads of the . was the impression. will you?' was the short rejoinder. Paton as ed himself whether he was not doing an unpardonably rash thing in driving No. there is no precedent for warbling a duet with the young person you are about to engage as a domestic servant. and that strange. as he sat. When the reply did come. and disclose two round white arms to match her face. She wore a blac stuff jac et of extreme simplicity and faultless cut. on the driver's seat. She had to bring her mind bac from the far--away sphere to which it had wandered. 'Sir. something in her manner of wal ing. in other words. 27 came slowly towards him. and introducing her into his household afterwards. but experienced. As No. but seemed very diffident as regarded her power of execution. Mr. It was her father's turn to fall under its influence. So strong.' The necessary formalities were hurried through. stern and rigid. Paton disregarded the deferential disclaimers of the matron. Mr. or. 27 down Macquarrie Street in his gig.'Call her up. and the matron reluctantly obeyed. coupled with the half-abstracted. it was uttered in just the low. However. Worse still. 'I have forgotten so many things. for the matter of that. and a little blac bonnet that might have been worn by a Nursing Sister or a 'grande dame' with equal appropriateness. with a profound sigh. She had a thorough-bred air that discomfited him. It was not Truca. you impertinent minx. and confined himself to what the French call le stricte nécessaire. fair. and whether she could clear-starch. that Mr. something of a shoc when he saw Amelia divested of her prison garb. her appearance was so effective. that he would hardly have been surprised to see No. Paton remembered this in time. half-fixed expression in her beautiful grey eyes.' he said. and he was pleased with himself for remembering them. Thus attired. nevertheless. His sister had impressed these questions upon him. and her new employer hastened to interpose. or to hear her sing 'Ah! non giunge' in soft dreamy tones. or Amina (she was really very li e Amina). she was undeniably pretty. reminded him of Amina in the Sonnambula. Amelia. There was hardly an air of Bellini's or Donizetti's that he did not now by heart. The scissors that had clipped her fair loc s had left a number of short rings that clung li e tendils round her shapely little head.' she concluded. in a curiously modified tone. 'and I hope you won't give me any occasion to regret it. to pull herself together first. She expressed her willingness to attempt whatever was required of her. melodious tones one might have expected. indeed. mysterious presence on the other side. whose mauvais quart d'heure was now to come. with his little girl nestling up to him as close as she was able.' corrected the matron. 'We will give you a trial. In his early days Truca's father had been a great lover of Italian opera. for she had 'driven and lived' that morning. did not reply at once. Amelia did not seem to hear. He could have hummed or whistled a tuneful second himself at a moment's notice. save in the mar et scene in Martha. 27 ta e off her unbecoming prison cap and jac et.
Paton. replete with roses and strawberries. he uttered an exclamation that caused her to loo round. For some unaccountable reason. Arrived at Cowa Cottage. who might have passed for 'She-who-must-be--obeyed. It's the picture of Snow-White. Not that there was any ind of fault to be found with her. We start-for life is wanting there. could not complain of want of docile obedience to orders on the part of the new maid. and he told himself that he could meet and deal with the difficulties arising from such a cause as he had met and dealt with them before. Yet the emotion she had betrayed was not lost upon her employer.' if Rider Haggard's boo s had existed at that time. The snow-maiden in the woodcut had the very eyes and mouth of Amelia Clare--frozen through some mysterious influence into beautiful. he could not help following her uneasily with his eyes. 'Richard Cole is in love with No. Paton wished sometimes he had never brought the girl into his house.passers-by turn as he drove on towards home. Truca was right. An offensive and defensive alliance was well nown to exist among the convicts. Two lines of Byron's haunted him constantly in connection with her--'So coldly sweet. He put it away. Who could say? As No. The days wore on.' If Richard wor ed li e an automaton. loo ! I've found some one just li e Amelia in my boo of Grimm. but he loo ed at the page nevertheless. But it returned at intervals during the succeeding wee . he felt. The time for him to regain his . had come and gone. as the French proverb has it. Only loo . with an illustrated volume of Grimm's Tales in her hands. so deadly fair. Mr. unyielding rigidity. Christmas. Even his sister. 27. when his little girl ran out to him as he sat smo ing in the verandah. and was never stronger than one afternoon. That the convicts had wonderful and incomprehensible means of communicating with each other. was well nown to Mr. Nevertheless. then she wor ed li e a spirit. That young men and young women have an equal facility for understanding each other. succeeding each other and resembling each other. angered with himself for having harboured it. Mr. but the ta ing into account of any sentimental ind of rubbish did not come within his province. 213 and No. 'Oh. 27. Their eyes met. and when she moved noiselessly about the room where he happened to be sitting. the thought of having Richard flogged presented itself anew at this juncture to his mind. That was a matter which came within his province. one of which whispered in his ear. As Richard's eyes rested upon the new arrival. that he should prefer the former solution. with desperate monotony. papa! Isn't it the very living image of Amelia?' 'Nonsense!' said her father. Then. was also a fact he did not ignore. papa. as he had done before. Paton was alternately swayed by two demons. the gloom that was habitual to both faces settled down upon them once more. these two might have crossed each other's paths before. as he pondered over the mystery later in the day. a flash of instant recognition was visible in both. Amelia loo ed at the intangible something in the clouds that had power to fix her gaze upon itself. Richard shut the gate with his accustomed machine-li e precision. the young gardener ran forward to open the gate. li e the night that follows a sudden discharge of electricity. But which of these two explanations might account for the signs of mutual recognition and sympathy he had just witnessed? Curiously enough. her presence was oppressive to the master of the house. and here an unexpected incident occurred.
When this fair. and noisy with the crac ing and whirring of the locusts entombed in the dry soil. Whatever may be the impulse that prompts you to wonder what that ice-bound face and form hide. 'I won't give the fellow the chance of marrying No 27. 213. 'Why don't you answer. The first use he will ma e of it will be to leave you. The words 'Dearest Dic ' continued to ring in Mr. You will lose the best man-servant you have ever nown. you will betray your hand. All at once he heard a slight rustling in the branches behind him. Paton was supposed to be at his club. and a voice that he recognised as Amelia's said in caressing tones. And more than this.--you would eep your servant. and a face that felt li e velvet to the touch was laid against his chec s. He had worried and harried and insulted him all he could. your life will become stagnant as it was before. In reality he was seated upon a bench in a bushy part of the garden. and you will have ample justification for bringing him down. I will give him the sac . The night had come down upon him almost without his being aware of it--a night heavy with heat and blac ness. and you would put a stop to the nonsense that is very probably going on. Paton's cars long after she had gone. As for Amelia. But at this instant the convict's identity seemed so preferable to his own. With a cry of terror she turned and fled. There was a light pressure of hands on his shoulders. the best maid. uncanny presence is removed from your home. He had tried to provo e him to some act of overt insolence in vain. You will thus be deprived of everything at one blow. he would have declared that he would rather die first. You have it in your power to degrade the fellow in his own eyes and in those of the girl he is after. disappearing as swiftly and mysteriously as she had come. Paton would reply energetically. that he hardly ventured to breathe lest he should betray the fact that he was only his own forlorn self. for if you wait until the last moment. you will lose an interest in life that gives it a stimulating flavour it has not had for many a long year.' At this point demon No. His silence disconcerted the intruder. But don't lose too much time.freedom is at hand.' Amelia did not give him time to say more. As soon as he has his freedom. 'I am not in the secret. A good flogging would put everything upon its proper footing. Mr. There is more covert insolence in that impenetrable exterior of his than you have yet found out. 'Answer? What am I to say?' responded her master. Only give him proper provocation. but it is rather rough upon him to be made aware of it in such a way as that. The fellow is useful to him. and I would send her bac to gaol to-morrow if I thought there were any nonsense up between her and him.' One evening in January. nown as the shrubbery--in parley with the demons.' To this demon Mr. and forbid him the premises. Two firm. The . 'Dearest Dic . Dic ?' she as ed impatiently. and the more persistently the refrain was repeated. 2 would intervene: 'There is a better way of arranging matters. the more he felt tempted to give Richard a taste of his quality. and your sister. it is an impulse that ma es your heart beat and your blood course warmly through your veins. they will say of Richard. warm feminine lips pressed themselves upon his. have I ept you waiting?' Had it been proposed to our hero some time ago that he should change places with No. she is my prisoner. and the next to marry Amelia Clare.
for the mista e I made last night?' 'Who said I was going to be hard on him?' retorted Mr. But now at least he felt he had entire justification for ma ing an example of him. There were times when his master felt something of a persecutor's impotent rage against him.' interrupted her master. and had carried messages to and fro between his master and the justice of the peace with no more emotion than the occasion was worth. 'Here. I'll ride over with it myself. why do you wait until it is dar to indulge in your family effusions?' The question was accompanied by a through and through loo . 'May I spea a word with you.convict's constancy had never once deserted him. dressed in the identical close-fitting jac et and demure little . Paton with these ideas. Merton with my compliments. 'Here. loo ing li e Amina after she had awo en from her trance. turning to Richard.--and raised her liquid eyes to his. Paton and his victim. you! just ta e this note over to Mr.' Three wee s later Richard Cole was a free man. she came to ta e respectful leave of him. uncertain tones. in low. and within four months from the date upon which Mr. It was the first time such a thing had happened. Amelia was there. and hand me bac that note. sir. too much ta en abac to find any more dignified form of rejoinder. before which Amelia did not quail.' There was nothing in this command to cause the person who received it to grow suddenly livid. he turned deadly pale. So thoroughly did the demon indoctrinate Mr. as he too the fatal note into his hands. 'And if he is your brother. That his employer should have no pretext whereby he might have him degraded and imprisoned. But on this particular morning.--she had never addressed him before. 'fetch out the mare. Paton had driven Amelia Clare down Macquarrie Street in his gig. when he called Richard to him after brea fast. and something in their expression actually constrained Mr. He stood for an instant with his head thrown bac . He would teach the fellow to play Romeo and Juliet with a fellow--convict behind his bac . Instead of retreating with it in his customary automatic fashion. 'You will not be hard on--my brother. Paton to lower his own. She came close to her master. he fixed his eyes upon his employer's face.' he added. and said in a tone which he tried to render as careless as of custom. and it seemed to Richard's master that the best way of meeting it would be to 'damn' the man and send him about his business. Paton. and wait for the answer. that he felt next morning as though he were doing the most righteous action in the world. sir?' he said. go about your business. sir?' she said submissively. But Richard did not go. At this critical moment a woman's form suddenly interposed itself between Mr. and the desperate loo of an animal at bay in his eyes. he had acted upon the scriptural precept of turning his left chee when he was smitten on the right. 'I will institute an inquiry. Richard had received such an order at least a score of times before. 'Have I your permission to spea to him in the day-time.
for she is pretty well the centre about which all my thoughts have turned during this time.--letters were still habitually sealed in those days. Thenceforth she was nobody's bondswoman. 'AMELIA COLE. He had a small heap of coin in readiness to hand over to her. and yet I was not prepared to li e her--rather the reverse. But to explain was out of the question. Still. who was not my brother. The handwriting. as Mr. if she had only nown--if she had only nown. and the all meant more than he dared to admit even to himself. li e Sarah. She was her own mistress now. in whose behalf I would willingly suffer again to be unjustly condemned and transported. Was it not for her sa e that he had been swayed by all the conflicting impulses that had made him a changed man of late? For her that he had so narrowly escaped being a criminal awhile ago.--I am prompted to ma e you a confession--why. He bro e open the seal. did not enter into the official programme.--since I first saw her. DRUMMOND OF QUONDONG IT is a year to-day since I first saw this place. but my affianced husband. for I shall probably never cross your path again. I now I did not thin her pretty. and for her that he was appearing in the novel rôle of a reformer of the convict system now? He never doubted that she would have understood him if she had nown. I may as well say. as I led you to suppose. Paton was gloomily smo ing by his library fire in the early dar of a wintry August evening. besides which. I have the warrant of Scripture for having assumed. He must avow either all or nothing. the rôle of sister in preference to that of wife. Wales postmar was handed to him. It seemed too hard to let her go with the certainty that she never did or could now. and communicated their unfavourable view to me. had something familiar in its aspect. and it was hardly to be wondered at if the first use she made of her freedom was to sha e the dust of Cowa Cottage off her feet. and a few gratuitous words of counsel on his part.bonnet he remembered. This was the reason why Amelia Clare departed sphinx-li e as she had come. I could not help noticing that she was a . and far more pleasant in manner than I had anticipated. a letter bearing the N. very small and fine. S. it is hard to divest myself of an instinctive belief that the deceit was useful to Richard on one occasion. with the payment of which. A fortnight after she had gone. I was married last wee to Richard Cole. when I try really to loo bac . Certainly I was agreeably disappointed when we met. His name is inscribed among those 'who foremost shall be damn'd to Fame' in Tasmania. as much or more so than the Queen of England herself. that I was much struc by her in any way. The reaction was terrible.--Yours respectfully. Paton had passed through with regard to his convict victims came to an abrupt termination. I trust you will pardon me. the leave-ta ing would have been definitely and decorously accomplished. but I don't thin . To tell her that he was more loth than ever to part with her. only graceful and refined. for the Cree s did not.' The indly phase Mr. MRS.--and read as follows:-'SIR. I cannot say.
did he as me to sit down. I went there again soon after Hope had been told off to bring bac the cattle about which I had gone over on my first visit. The fact is. that I said so little of my visit to Quondong. and would be able. Cree . and the day being now pretty well advanced.--but was better.different stamp of woman to Mrs.--there was nothing in me that I should get more courtesy than others. and had made my final arrangements with the stoc man. I felt rather puzzled what to say. for certainly many people said disagreeable things about the Drummonds. I suspected. so my quarters were not so uncomfortable. Adam Bede. and if it is worth while staying. Fortunately. and pass the afternoon as well as I could. I have brought you'--the spea er. and I was savage as I unhitched my horse and rode away. but wor had to be done. and personal annoyance would hardly have been ta en as an excuse if I returned without the cattle. I found a readable boo . or to get up. to turn out the first thing in the morning. Neither were other matters quite so bad as I expected. and I could not trust the blac boy with me to drive them by himself. Drummond. Jones. he can put you up. after I had had something to eat. after ma ing an inward vow never to go again in another's place. 'Come for the cattle? But I can't give them to you to-day. I don't thin she recognised me at first. The stoc man had had what he termed 'a touch of the sun. and none of the other men seem to now where to find them. If you ride to Jones' hut. he thought. So.' I was so absorbed in the boo .' he said. by a good share of bad rum. nor. Drummond on the verandah. I would not do the other thing. I hardly now. evidently she had not thought any visitor was there. and if I get them early in the day. and I thin a trifle displeased. though on seeing him I had jumped off my horse. but I suppose you can come over again?' 'Of course I can come again. I could hardly praise them. as he hated going to Quondong. who had just entered the door. and we want to add them to the mob. Knowing that the Drummonds were not li ed. and after the ind reception given me. I could run them over to the station in time. I did not feel that I had so much to grumble about. after a pause. Molloy is ta ing down a mob for the butcher. would have ridden bac there and then. and began to be half sorry I had underta en a duty that was not mine. and possibly my previous reception was only good by accident. When I rode up to the house I found Mr. stopped. that I never heard steps approaching till a voice said. He hardly said 'how do you do' before he began business. but he as ed me to ta e his place. but I particularly want to get the bulloc s to our place by to-morrow night. I put down my boo and jumped up. 'Mrs. and his wife loo ed after an adjoining hut that was set apart for chance travellers.'--assisted. Jones is laid up. I tried to ma e the best of it.' 'H'm.' 'Will he be able to go out to-morrow?' 'Well. still I was not sure I had any right to complain. and though the being sent off in that way rather ran led. Jones was a married man. for it was Mrs. . and I can't say his greeting was particularly cordial. He never offered to sha e hands. and if I could have done as I wished. I wondered as I rode along if I should find things pleasant this time. and I now the Grettan people were surprised. 'you had better see for yourself. you can find out.
and he came for me because Mrs. however. and there was a tone in it that went straight to the heart. and it was easier to do that than to thwart her. Drummond wal ed in. so answered as easily as I could. saying she had seen a flower on the border of a scrub that had exactly the perfume of vanilla. and holding out her hand as she came forward. after a moment's uncomfortable pause. waiting for her to spea . .' I murmured. Her singing had the same sort of charm as her appearance and manner. She recognised me. She did loo awfully well in her light grey habit. He simply did not care for my society. Drummond sang and played particularly well. Mrs. but it had far more expression. but began to tal of her ride. but it was too high up for her to get it. for a pretty pin tinge came into her chee s. she left me with all my ruffled plumage smoothed down. You are very good. Drummond made a point of having me at the house. or even to see it well. almost immediately. but I new her at once. She did not say anything more on this subject. besides. 'Are not these the strangers' quarters?' 'Yes. Mr. or I shall have blac loo s all the evening.' he said. and it seemed to me also very becoming.--why should he put himself out for a young nobody learning colonial experience?--so he sent me to the strangers' quarters. her unloo ed-for appearance and the recollection of her husband's lac of courtesy rather confused me. in about an hour. He regards it as a matter of course that life should be ruled by that principle. 'so put on your hat and come bac with me. Nothing could be pleasanter than her manner.-'What are you doing here. and did what I was told. but very suitable for the occasion. but I now what I did--blushed li e a girl. I did not say anything. perhaps her voice was not really so fine as Mrs. I don't thin he meant to be rude in the first instance. though I had another visitor before long: Mr. or else blushing is contagious. but no one we now stays here.' I did not now what to say. said. quite a glow of self-approval for having done a friend a good turn. When I say that I had not a vestige of regret for ta ing Hope's place. and this sudden apparition of a pretty woman set my heart beating a little faster than usual.--felt. and a not of ribbon of the same colour under her shady hat. Verner? why did you not go at once to the house?' I did not care to say I had been there. Of course Mr. Cree 's.--you may be pretty sure I did not find the evening disagreeable. something blue round her throat. and acts up to it with a serene.' I fancy she guessed the real state of matters. He is a man the sole motive of whose conduct is self. and though she did not stay above five or ten minutes. it might be inconvenient for you. but I forgot what was due to my pride.' I daresay it would have been more dignified to have refused. indeed. not as you see a riding costume de rigueur. unaffected simplicity that fairly astounds one. while a loo of annoyance passed over her face. 'My wife has been scolding me for letting you come here. Drummond expects you to be with us. It would be hard to put into words what that charm was.was ta en abac for the moment when she found the room occupied. 'but as I start so early.
but whatever her mood might be. To see that change was as if the soul had come bac to those limpid hazel eyes and that tender mouth.there could be no difficulty about feeling it. with a set loo on it that never varied. but nothing remar able. while at another time there was a caress in its very tone. Of course no one is always bright or always dull. then that hard expression would melt away. and it was this. unsatisfactory ones I only can tell--the impression she produced on me during the short time I had the privilege--and the wretchedness--of nowing her. Her voice. with a polluting thought. so light-hearted. simple. that I formed my estimate of her. and I cannot imagine anything that could diminish her hold upon you. I never willingly betrayed them to her. The prevailing expression of her face had something of sadness in it. It was the real living soul that spo e to you in those soft accents. Sometimes her whole nature seemed to open itself to you. and her exquisitely fair s in. she was by no means prodigal of these smiles. small. and a sudden softness come into her face. were flexible and expressive to a rare degree. and then by some subtle inflection of her voice call up a thrill of delight that was an ample atonement. too. Naturally it was not on this visit. and white. indeed. rather was it a lur ing enthusiasm. nothing could be more natural than she was. that it was hard to imagine she could be unpopular. she was not pretty. as her beauties seemed coyly to unfold themselves as if to you in particular. but when she chose to be pleasant. for . fresh as a child's. and her inner nature was one that compelled you to study it. and so playful. ind. It would be useless for me to deny the feelings with which she inspired me. but the lips. but never did you find an ignoble thought. As I have said before. or on many succeeding ones. and cordial. while it could safely bear the closest investigation. It was some time before I recognised them myself. But I am bound to confess she was not always li e this: sometimes her face was li e a mas . and a somewhat reserved manner. Most are attractive when lively. and she was so pure-minded that the basest man could not have dared to loo at. It was able to express those finer shades of feeling that words are often powerless to convey. but in her it was not the mere change of spirits that charmed. had a hundred different inflections: occasionally it was almost harsh. as I suppose she did this evening. mingled with a certain air of hauteur. that loo ed at you from those pure eyes and ever-varying countenance. I am only trying to put into words--and what feeble. Once favourably impressed by her. She had very little of what is called vivacity. then the veil fell. You were puzzled. sweet goodness that lay concealed in those carefully guarded recesses. She was a problem that one was always being forced to try and solve. and it had a natural pathos that appealed strangely to your sympathy. Her outward appearance charmed the eye. you were repelled at times by a crust of worldliness. Her other features were small and regular. or she might chill you with a cold reception. was rather large. or thin of her. Mind. some shy. a few interesting when depressed. and when they smiled they lighted up her whole face. that I fancy often repelled people. even. and it was a perfect woman of the world that met your eager glances with calm indifference. while her manner was chilling to a degree. her power of attraction never seemed to lessen. a mean motive hidden there. at least she did not stri e you as being so at first. the only actual beauties she owned were her teeth. by an assumed heartlessness. her mouth. and her melancholy was less pensive than moody.
But to return to this particular evening. no necessity to ma e tal . and ran in an unbro en wall of verdure. However. when I would not return till the following evening.she was not the woman I too her to be if I could have dared so to do. How well I can recall her as she used to stand. the other had been cut down. to me at any rate. and turning her face to give me a parting smile. After brea fast I used to go with her to feed her chic ens. the lac of neatness and order in things domestic there. or the nives and for s sprawl about anyhow. where the dishes do not loo as if they had got on haphazard.--had. and as both had so indly pressed me to come and see them again soon. but had partly grown up again. if not we read. her slender hands moving amongst the dainty china cups and silver tea equipage. if interesting to myself. I was not particularly charmed either to have made a comparative stranger acquainted with all my affairs and plans. we too a turn round the garden. if we had anything to say we said it. whether in the remotest degree she shared them. and when I mounted they would wait till I rode away. after the noise of the children. but I never thought of this till too late. for I was too young to be so master of myself as never to show what I felt. some tender pity for me. if it was not too late. Drummond. We soon got on sufficiently easy terms to be under no restraint. who was agreeable. but it certainly is more agreeable to sit down to a table where everything agrees with the snow white cloth on which they are placed. only the noblest of women. the nicety that reigned at Quondong was very pleasant. then. so generally Mr. It may not be of any great consequence. in her fresh morning dress. such an almost stern conscientiousness. resting her hand on her husband's arm. I loo ed bac before riding on. she had so strong a will. I certainly enjoyed these visits very much. the somewhat rough-and--ready ways of Grettan. putting up for the night at Quondong. I leading my horse. and also that certainly I had not forced my concerns upon him. which. I often too advantage of this invite when I could get an idle afternoon. It was not Mrs. as. was a pretty object to regard. Time never seemed to lag. Drummond found even my society a relief to the very dull life she led. I could not have been such an insufferable bore as I feared.--I never new.--and I did not thin her an angel. generally on a Saturday.--she would have died rather than owned her wea ness. that even if she had loved me. could hardly be so to others. too. not to say anything about better taste. when I reached the top of the opposite ban of the river. and I suppose I did not find him the less so because he tal ed to me about myself. Drummond only. Dinner was always early on Sundays. but her husband too. and I ventured to flatter myself that Mrs. I consoled myself in thin ing that it would teach me more discretion the next time. ta ing . But whether she did. I felt rather disgusted afterwards when I recalled how I had prated away on that subject. a dar rosebud setting off the exquisite fairness of her throat. Drummond would wal with me on my return to Grettan as far as the crossing place. Mrs. to let the maid-servants have a ride in the afternoon. while the climbers. or simply remained silent. as it were. and Mrs. The road to the ford was through a scrub which on one side was untouched. She may have guessed them. He could be a pleasant companion when he li ed. or I helped her to water her plants in the bac -house.
' I must tell you that two young lady visitors had just arrived at Grettan. and show her the photos it had also brought me. as her father says. Drummond was unusually eager in her questions. I had caught a glimpse of female forms as I passed the verandah on my way to the stables. Mrs. 'didn't she tal about iows? But I would not mind that. I saw her last year. I made a little plan in my own mind as I rode along.' I said. for she was the most incurious of women as a rule. As to Mr. farther on was the open flat where the station buildings were. which was perhaps as well.' he answered." and she's worth loo ing after. and regarded my visits to them in some sort a going over to the enemy. one could only partially see. certainly I was not sorry when business sent me one day unexpectedly to Quondong. but not only had I rarely the leisure. and only partially redeemed by the many fine shrubs that grew around it. which the rays of the setting sun tinged with the richest shades of golden brown and red. but I fancied the Cree s rather resented my being a favourite with the Drummonds. beyond them was a sloping hillside. and thought her extremely handsome. but covered with long broad-bladed grass.--and their expected arrival had been discussed the last time I met the Drummonds. Cree had called me in and introduced me. or I might have worn out my welcome. Drummond. that I would stay the night. Drummond. the . almost hiding their supports.' I answered.advantage of the unusual light and air. I thin . I have no doubt it only made me prize my visits more. if I were you. I cannot say their advent had disturbed me much. and I had almost forgotten all about it when I entered the drawing--room at Quondong. and Mrs. and I could tal over with her some news I had received by the last English mail.' 'Than s. and hanging in festoons from shrub to shrub. he always put one through a course of inquiries. Verner. Perhaps it was as well that I could not ma e these pleasant visits as often as I could have wished. Drummond would sing me my favourite songs. Drummond. for it was hardly a pretty object. so I had on several accounts to put a wholesome restraint on my inclinations. What were they li e? Were they quite young and pretty? Did they seem nice girls? Surely I could tell them something about them? Mrs. Don't you remember. and ride bac in the very early hours. is pretty. where for a marvel on a wee day I found Mr. "she carries ten thousand bulloc s on her bac . Business did not ta e long to settle. 'Yes. luc ily for the picturesque. was not visible from this point. we met her at the Finches?' said Mrs. I now one is nothing to loo other. 'but I don't thin I shall trouble Brown pater to round up his daughter's fortune. at. Robert. so his remar s did not surprise me. Had they come when I left? Yes. The dwelling--house. 'That must be Miss Brown. treeless.' 'I only stayed half a minute.--an unusual event. which was about a quarter of a mile away. and then some allusion was made to the new arrivals. and covered the young growth with their long vines. for I new there would be a bright moonlight. that. but 'the best laid schemes of mice and men aft gang agley. had flourished mightily. or creeping along the ground and concealing the fallen logs with their mantle of green leaves.
bro e off abruptly. loo ing full at me. 'Is it not provo ing when one's fingers will go wrong over a passage. though in rather a spasmodic style. when I returned from my curtailed visit from Quondong. so held my tongue. as he frequently did. had at any rate a fine figure. and would be eager to get bac to those wretched girls. and turning to me. too. Perhaps she did laugh a little more than was necessary. and as she turned her head away she could not see the reproachful glance that I involuntarily gave her when she spo e of finding life--her own. I did find these visitors pleasant after all. When I made that last speech. Drummond. Hope said he did not li e it--too . seemed preoccupied. I now I made him gallop nearly the whole way home. but she had such beautiful teeth that it did not matter. only letting out her voice now and then in a way that was a trifle startling till you got used to it. indeed. Drummond was as usual. and one forgave the little twang for the sa e of her bright eyes. not playing. but blundering. Miss Blount.'At any rate these visitors will ma e bush life less insufferable. But she was unli e herself. so. and quite willing to be pleased. Miss Brown was really very pretty. the consequence of which little bit of temper on my part was.'--my much considered plans quite uncalled for. he never put himself out to entertain. 'I suppose not. Mr. you will not understand. though I regarded their arrival at first as something more than a bore. I wanted her to as me.--indeed. I replied stupidly enough. she began a brilliant run. good--natured. The other. Drummond too it for granted that as these people were at Grettan I should wish to go bac . I never new it so difficult to get on at Quondong as that day. and she remained there all the short time I stopped. at any rate he said. I presume that Mr. and then held her peace. and was a jolly girl. I too my leave in a little while. and with a sin ing heart I felt that all my anticipations of a pleasant afternoon were as the 'baseless fabric of a dream. he went away and had a smo e on the verandah. and went bac with very different feelings to those I had indulged in as I rode over. but I forget. that is. about my remaining. seemed determined to add to my annoyance: he always had a tric of boring to one side.' I had no particular reason to ma e any answer. She sang. that I had to spend about an hour rubbing him down and getting him cool before I could turn him out.' She was at the piano when I came in. Drummond's remar had led me to expect. but she said never a word. said. as usual.' put in Mrs. that is.-'I suppose it is no use as ing you to stay?' I did not answer for a moment. no doubt--insufferable. too. not so badly. and this afternoon he did it till I was downright savage with the brute. and to have no welcome for me. and by no means the sort of girl Mr. for it was a fresh pleasure when she repeated the invitation with that indly smile in her eyes. The horse. as he insisted on going li e a crab whenever I slac ed my pace to a wal . It was plain both thought I had only come over on business.--almost did more than her fair share. after a pause. in the process. Not a word was said.
The s y was absolutely cloudless. 'but it is no use lamenting. When we were sitting on the verandah afterwards. 'Well. we had to do double tides on Tuesday. they must ta e the will for the deed. the tin le of a bulloc bell.' 'I thin I could let them now. so. with a grin that showed his white teeth from ear to ear. the sharp chirping cry of their brethren in the trees resembling far more the note of a bird than that of a reptile. 'No. Cree a note. and it's ten to one if Mrs. 'it's out of the question.' I said. turning to the boy. Cree .' he replied. Cree . I believe I forgot him altogether. started at once. and will bring a Mr. I ought to say--from the bosom of his shirt. Cree . gluc ' of the frogs in the swamps.' bro e in Cree . he seemed to loo at life only on the seamy side. Drummond would care to come. and though dimmed by the flood of silvery moonlight. and handed it over. the blac boy came round and gave Mrs.' I said. and got up to go. but then Hope was always hard to please. that is provo ing. produced the note of invitation--well wrapped up.--this was Monday. I could easily ride over on a bright night li e this.' remar ed Mrs. as ing them to join us. 'Than you! Of course I should li e them to come. to be at hand for the next day.--and that messages should be sent to our neighbours at Ashwood and Quondong. 'the Grimes are coming. Mrs. Fortunately the horses were in a small paddoc . Hall. You got him paper along Quondong?' she said. the sound of an axe.' 'Have you any answer from the Drummonds?' as ed Mr. no. the Southern Cross--that matchless much of the minute-gun for his taste.' 'It's not the least trouble. if you care about it. myriads of stars could be seen faintly shining. saddling up. As we were to be off duty on the chosen day. ta ing a halter and a tin of corn. 'By Gar.' and Master Jac y. as well as Scott and Hamley. I could not but notice as I rode along what a lovely night it was-nothing bro e the stillness but the curious 'gluc . 'That's all right. but it's not worth the trouble. .' she said as she read it. I soon caught old Billy. changing each moment as I loo ed from one vivid hue to another. which served as poc et. 'By the bye. Sirius still flashed and glittered. and. 'I'm sure Drummond wouldn't than you. every blow of which rang out clearly. we could not let them now now in time. and I never got home till just before dinner. I used to wonder if he ever enjoyed himself. could we?' turning to her husband.One evening it was arranged there should be a picnic on the following Wednesday.' 'I'll chance that.' 'I don't see any necessity.
she exclaimed. had nothing startling in their distinctness. tried to rouse the man who I new slept there. but bore the same shadowy air as all around them. I am not robbing the house. made as much noise as a buffalo's. that it quite startled one. whole s eletons of long dead trees. as I have said. Cree . whose approach had been so noiseless and so unexpected that for the moment it regularly dumbfounded me. I loo ed at my watch--nearly twelve. it's no use stopping now. for the most probable result of that step would be a series of squeals. as I stepped on to the verandah. was some little distance from the station buildings. in spite of her struggle to command it. and stole out. and want you to join us. Well. I tied up my horse.--the French lights were pretty sure to be open in this weather. the utter stillness. generally light. where the very roses that shone so white in the moonlight loo ed as if they were sleeping. Perhaps the best plan would be to go round to the sitting-room. She did not recognise me. and going to the stables. so unreal and yet so real. and my being possibly potted by Mr. grand avenues wound through wooded paths. Not a bit of use. I could not call out loudly.constellation--gleamed brightly from the pale blue of the heavens. how late it was. I did so as quietly as I could. I thought. and disappear without disturbing the sleeping house. . I opened the venetian shutters. Verner! But what is it? Is anything wrong at Grettan?' 'I really must beg your pardon. Nothing bore the li eness that it did by daylight. on la es into which the drooping branches dipped. in the utmost surprise. on sloping lawns carpeted with turf smooth as velvet. the hushed repose about the place. and saw it was Mrs. though I fancied my step. and. In an instant I recovered myself. Drummond as a ind of colonial Tarquin. though I would have left the note at the station if I had thought of it before. I found myself face to face with a figure. as the tremble in her voice betrayed. on dar ravines walled in by steep roc s. the huge fallen logs. almost for the first time. though brought into perfect relief by the light resting on their bar ed surfaces. We have a picnic to-morrow. supposing such a thing had been handy. without wa ing him from his slumbers. and I might have battered in the door with a paving--stone. only bringing you a note from Mrs. The shadows were sharply defined. Just as I was coming out of the window. The house. 'Who is it?' she almost whispered. for she was evidently frightened. Then. I began to thin I was doing an impertinent thing.' 'And you have come all this way at night simply to as me? You are But the strangeness of everything was what particularly struc me. It would never do to go to the female quarters. made me thin . for I was in the shadow. Drummond. the hinges as I did so giving a squea that made me turn cold all over. but the melting light fell too softly for strong contrasts.--all was so changed. but I could not go bac now. I couldn't get the fellow to hear.--one seemed to loo up long vistas where the trees overhead formed Gothic arches. as I rode up to it. and was a fool for my pains.-'Mr.--and I could leave the note on the table. put the note down on a table.
but I would have ridden twice the distance to be addressed by her in such a tone. The place we had chosen was on the ban s of the river. and over her head a light fleecy white shawl (what is called a cloud) was thrown. Now. Don't run away with the idea that a fine stream of water rolled below us. 'promiscuous li e.' 'Than you. Verner! do you now what the time is? There's the missis wanting you to help her pac . a grassy noo .' swerving now to this side. There was none at all visible from this place. 'I couldn't. It was hard to picture the whole of this wide space filled ban high with a rushing. Where do we meet?' 'At the Downfall. about noon. while it was open to get the breeze from the river.' 'I could hardly refuse after this. but it sent a shiver through me. and I could not have met her eyes at that moment to save my life. It was not a very alarming object. and then withdrew it. that dainty little bare foot. only the broad empty bed covered with grass in high thic tufts. I didn't now why. and any amount of débris. the movement stirred her s irts. Old Grimes was in a suit of nan een that had been so often washed that its colour was almost gone. Through this ran a narrow channel. fine almost as a matter of course. even if I had wished. only I hope you will come. sheltered on three sides by thic scrub that quite shaded us from the sun. I was all right. She was li e the white roses that lay sleeping in the moonlight. stic s and withered leaves lying piled up in tangled masses and curved ridges. feeling confused.' 'I--I can't as you to stay. and I rather thin I didn't bless Hope when he came stumping into my den. Mrs. When she put out her hand. under which her dar velvety eyes and white teeth flashed most becomingly. but the cool breeze was by no means a blessing too often bestowed upon us.' But after I had wal ed down to the cree and had a good bathe. as she did. I suppose).' I answered. while it had so shrun that his legs and arms appeared to have grown since he began to wear it. The stranger did not ta e my fancy much. but the rubbish lodged among the branches of trees growing in it told a tale. You can't imagine how childli e and pure her face loo ed under it. great logs. I had not much time for beauty-sleep after I got bac . and fit as paint. I had better say good-night. She had on a long trailing robe (dressing-gown.' she said in a hesitating way. Drummond is not at home.' was all she said. I could see she was not regularly dressed. but apparently my . swirling torrent. The Ashwood people came up about the same time as we did.' 'Many than s. to say good-bye. as the last flood had left them. I have to see to the things in the morning. and I saw the small foot was only covered by a slipper. 'Hullo. I'm awfully ashamed of myself for disturbing you at this hour. she won't ta e me at any price. Says I'm no more use than a fifth wheel to a coach. with half-dead reeds and clumps of bushes. Grimes loo ing wonderfully young (she was well up in the thirties) behind her blac lace veil. 'Mr. calling out.good!' 'Not at all. We were luc y in the day. bro en branches. now to the other.
Miss Blount was good enough to come and assist after a little. I was not idle in mind or body. while her voice. Cree as a caterer. with its modulated tones. Verner. I had no chance of saying much. ma ing me trot about under her orders. and the flat beyond.' I said then to myself. and if they do come. fell so pleasantly on the ear. So between eeping her supplied with eatables and drin ables. I remembered Miss Blount's gracious offer. too up my position by her side.--and we exchanged a momentary smile. there was some faint opposition on the hostess's part to our beginning before the arrival of the missing guests. you may sit down here. I managed. now I gave utterance. Cree . for his attentions--and he was pretty lavish of them--were received graciously enough. yet never overstepping the invisible bounds of good breeding. gay to playfulness. when Mrs. though I spo e out never a word. Drummond a seat. But before I could ta e advantage of her invitation. telling me where the things were to be placed. When we were all assembled and the luncheon arranged.' She wore her light grey habit. Scott and Hall did the amiable to the ladies. besides. Then her manner. Grimes. or losing its quiet dignity. however. and I certainly did not li e the idea of the Drummonds finding lunch half over when they came--when they came? Suppose they did not come at all! Perhaps the s y clouded over just then. and smo ing li e two steam-engines. and the place being still vacant. to a decided 'Not guilty. Hope went off. where the air quivered in the heat.--and she was rather given to uncommon remar s.sentiments were not shared by Mrs. too.--I now the place loo ed as dull as ditch-water for a few minutes. simple. . but I glanced once or twice towards her. and I caught sight of him and Hamley planted behind a fig tree. to see that my guest--for I felt as if I had a claim to her--was not neglected. mentally. No sign yet of the Drummonds. Cree and her friends. After I had found Mrs. and caught a glimpse of Folly's shining chestnut coat through the trees. and I helped Mrs. after the somewhat uncultivated accents of Mrs. a very fair appetite. and her soft hazel eyes and fresh lips were both smiling. my dear. so I was ept tolerably busy. I heard the sound of a horse's hoof. for I didn't thin much of Mrs. she had put on a saucy little velvet hat that suited her fair hair and s in to perfection. 'Not pretty' had been the verdict passed on her the previous evening.' I was not quite so sure of that. 'Nonsense. 'Mr. She had a colour. they could be in time if they chose. and replying to her provocative speeches. but her husband pooh-poohed the notion of waiting. but I did not forget to eep a bright loo -out on the road that led towards Quondong. when my companion said anything particularly startling. whose scanty greyish--green foliage hardly showed. Drummond was under discussion. and it was not long before I was helping her rider to dismount. and had. but in place of the shady straw hat she generally wore. and too me in charge. they won't starve. 'Not proven. with fast riding.' called out Miss Blount. had the dreariest air imaginable. or rather permission. sparsely scattered with gum trees. She was not a silent individual. was so different to that of the others.--and the view over the dry bed of the river. more of the eyes than the lips.
--I wondered as I carried it. It did not eep us long in suspense. perhaps both. for suddenly . as a cool breeze shoo showers of raindrops off them at each moment. and crac ing. sweeping away over the tree-tops. and I got Mrs. Some great drops of rain splashed down. Some ind of wraps were made for the ladies with what had been used to cover the things in the cart that carried the provisions. li e a great grey curtain. Even Mrs. though Australian birds have no continuous song. Cree seeing it hanging over my arm. the bread a sop. and we only heard its loud rushing sound. our hats dripping. Birds sang and gurgled most musically. Mrs. the 'fair sect. But the luncheon! The cloth was soa ing and splashed with sand. Mrs. came off pretty well. some of their notes are exceedingly rich and sweet. for. followed after one or two repetitions by a low rushing sound that beto ened either wind or rain. Shelter there was none. Another minute and it was gone. as we had good proof. I suppose it was. called out. There was a sudden stillness. though.' was the information she volunteered. First came a gust of wind that bent all the branches in one direction. Drummond's face that made me laugh at the discomfiture that my own must have betrayed. for I saw a pin stain on the white cambric. chattering and laughing about nothing. Mrs. Very soon the sun was shining out of a s y of the most intense blue. We were not much the worse. Grimes too her hand erchief away from her face. but she would not hear of it. for the safety of which she was fran ly solicitous. and filled the air with the noise of rustling foliage. catching as I did so a loo of amusement in Mrs. and the rain had not got into the bottles at any rate. The blast blew over. made still lovelier in colour by the contrast with masses of snowwhite clouds. Fortunately the inner man had been satisfied with the substantials. the remains of the viands plentifully besprin led with leaves and twigs and gravel. and our plight only served to give fresh cause for mirth. we awaited the coming storm. blew the twigs and dried leaves and bits of grass till they scampered about li e living things. We were not to remain long in ignorance. and were so busily engaged eating and drin ing. which I am happy to say had been of no use to her. I wanted her to ta e my coat. and I declare that a piece of bread on my plate was washed white. the dishes half full of water.--there was nothing worth lamenting. Having made our preparations. 'If you don't mean to use that garment. almost startling after the late turmoil. our unmentionables defining our nether limbs more plainly than was altogether satisfactory to the vanity of some of us.' So I handed it over to her.--our shirts clinging li e loose s ins. Cree gave me bac my coat. but regular streams of water poured down upon our devoted heads. How it did rain! None of your pattering drops.We were certainly not a dumb party. Not all. On the whole.--to protect her hat. and then with a swish the shower was upon us. such as they were. and had left fastened to her saddle. However. you might as well lend it to me. as we saw it. and then sent them tossing and whirling in the air. that none of us remar ed the clouding over of the s y. Drummond's little hat reappeared from 'under the cloud' safe from the threatened bath. and that the rain hurt it. 'her s in was so tender.' as Mrs. The quivering leaves were spar ling as if powdered with diamonds. jarring branches. for soon there came a muttered growl of thunder. and though we of the lower order of creation were wet through. Drummond her cloud that she had brought with her. was it the one I had seen her wear the previous evening. Brown has it.
and stealing a loo up now and then into her rider's fair smiling face. Old Mr. but it wasn't quite so jolly when you did go gipsying. After this we got up the horses. the cart was ready. and probably the bottle of beer. you say. and formed a prominent object. but some of the men still on foot. 'Yes. and off we all went into a singing chorus. so inharmonious and so utterly absurd in sound. Cree . though she did overpower rather Mrs.' it was irresistible. Drummond's mare. Drummond contributed a sweet. his little eyes twin ling with pleasure. and then burst into a roar of chuc ling laughter. . Grimes. some little way to go. gloveless hand holding the whip with which she mar ed the time. glass in hand. prepared to accompany her. till tomorrow. that we all followed suit and roared in chorus. Hope. Cree . 'That's of no consequence. lest the noise might frighten her. We had all. of course. lifted up his voice with a preliminary giggle. Cree said. resting my hand on her nec . and as a suitable chant to follow that operation. but when some one struc up 'The days when we went gipsying.' Mrs. 'Very well. 'you are not going home. Just as we were about starting a song was suggested. we will go with you. if you won't come with us. When Mrs. Mrs. Drummond still hesitating. Grimes. too a capital first.one solemn old feathered biped.' 'I really must not. Drummond does not return. Mrs. having left the scrub.' After this we really made a start. but an uncommonly sweet voice. with his hat off. awfully. his scanty red hair glistening with wet. Cree 's pure silver-toned soprano. one small. in separate directions. interpreting the glance. inspired by the music. and while some stowed away the things in the cart. I. 'What are you thin ing about?' called out Mrs. whose forte was not music. the others saddled them. Miss Blount. All the others were doing their best. when Mr. was joining in with a very shamefaced expression. and not too soon. his damp spare garments bringing his meagre limbs out in strong relief. I was by Mrs. besides'--and she gave a meaning loo at the already large party from our place.' replied Mrs. What a group we made! We were now standing. among some huge green trees whose smooth trun s were still dar ened by the wet. 'Drin to me only with thine eyes' was selected. Robert might come bac tonight. for the long shadows showed that sunset was not far off. Drummond turned off. you are to return with us. with all his might.' 'Then really in pure indness to you I must accept your invitation. all the ladies were on horsebac . and the reply was. a long time ago. 'I can put the girls in one room. 'Isn't it jolly?' I heard Miss Blount say to Mrs. to which I added my mite. so ta e your choice. sitting near us on a dead branch. was very busy doing something to Miss Brown's stirrup. and soon we were nearly all mounted. But first we were to have a stirrup-cup. and that young lady was apparently too deeply engaged with the subject of its being lengthened or shortened to attend to her vocal duties. The idea too . The carter. if not over strong second. was singing away.
Miss Blount's horse gave a great shy. was counting sheep in the yards. riding by Mrs. for the cow. dusty and dirty. the horse. In another moment we should have bro en down. and appreciated it with complete unanimity. for the cow. Drummond. and smothered in dust. the faintest suspicion of a giggle came from Miss Brown's direction. or rather he tried to. while he did do that which he ought not to have done. We regarded the affair as got up for our especial amusement. a few hours after.for I don't believe my larder contains anything but the remains of the chic en I had for dinner yesterday. and we all bro e out into a laugh that must have seemed perfectly idiotic to the real cause of our merriment. no. it sent us off again into a fresh burst of laughter. to whom he was tal ing. the fellow was an utter cad. she was the gayest of us all. that which he ought to have done. he used the right number. and in an instant nothing was to be seen but any number of legs apparently. In reference to this failing. and bending over towards her in earnest conversation. alarmed. Helter-s elter we dashed in amongst them. In the confusion and gathering dar ness we came (almost without seeing them) on the mil ing cows. and when the poor man. as. well mounted. There was a dead silence. got into a sitting position and gazed around him with a most woebegone expression. and the rider all seemed to be on the broad of their bac s. Drummond's side. 'Surely that is very cumbersome?' 'Oh dear. As to thin ing of any danger to Mr. Hall's (who had returned with us). scorched and grimy. Drummond's face. he did not do. I wrong him. with a puzzled loo . I don't thin I felt more amiable towards the fellow. tried to get up just at the moment. which were lying down placidly chewing the cud.' was the calm response. Cree towards Quondong. There he was.' So she came bac with us. Hall. and jump over the fallen timber. 'I only h-inflate it when it's wanted.' 'A hair mattress!' replied Mrs. that I always ta e a h'air mattress with me into camp. But no. I saw him going off with the rest of the visitors and Mrs. After that I dared not lift my eyes from my plate. he tried us all fearfully at brea fast the next morning. stic ing up in the air. li e the confession in the Prayer-boo . while I. his voice was heard saying. and all flourishing their limbs about at the same time. The fact is. In one of those pauses of silence that occur in a large party. and garbed in dazzling white. Most of us joined in this. I had never seen her in such spirits. . cannoning against Mr. She made Folly prance and curvet. so it was a regular hurry-s urry. and finished with a race with Miss Blount on some straight--running that led to the house. in trying to escape be jumped over a reclining cow. and we felt it would be a mere waste of sympathy to have any pity for an animal who left out all his h's. not one of us troubled our heads in the matter. but.-'I thin it so dangerous to sleep on the bare ground.' I caught a glimpse of a loo of horror on Mrs. when by good luc one of the youngsters dropped 'a plate.
when there is no one whose love you care about. Cree would sing 'Some day. the land falling beyond.I must say I was very glad they did not stop as they passed. One day I had rather a queer adventure. Then cards were proposed. but for some cause or other we were not festively inclined this evening. she was capital chaff. but that would not do at all. and the shallow water crossed by the others being muddled. Cree had a finer voice. I met Miss Blount and Kitty. The others had gone over. We plunged at once into a ind of mimic warfare that raged between us--the cause of our moc dissension this time being the comparative merit of our steeds--till we came to a crossing place over the river. On my own part. and Miss Blount too her place. This is not a very complimentary way to spea of Miss Blount. but I didn't thin . my companions riding on. but a round game for love. and beautiful as they were. not being enticing to people arrived at years of discretion. where they had left Miss Brown and Mr. as I caught a last glimpse of a lithe figure in a grey habit. and would not be made to say so. he sniffed disdainfully at it. about a mile from the house. I was riding home from an out--station. for not only had they seen Mrs. I was about to follow the . and yet. where one tree is exactly li e the other. Drummond home. lifted up his head. and each gully and ridge cries ditto to that you have just crossed. Sepoy. the others. I thin I may say the former was very glad to see me. but. She was tired. The riding party did not return till late. mounted the ban . when. I now. that this trifle irritated me. though I could hardly fancy a fellow losing his heart to her. but they had gone round by Ashwood. Mrs.' and plainly expected me to join with the others in saying how much better she sang it than Mrs. Without vanity. I could not but ac nowledge that Mrs. and insisted on going to a place where the stream ran clear. and very soon we all retired to try the effects of 'Nature's sweet restorer' in putting us into a pleasanter mood. the idea fell through. This too some little time. but that there was a certain spice of ill-nature towards the rival singer in giving the award. Drummond. and I felt not only that there was an injustice in giving her the palm in the rendering of a song the very raison d'être of which was feeling. put down his head to drin . but its clear silvery tones had not a particle of expression. It was very absurd. and screamed li e a peacoc . and sha ing the wet off his muzzle. The worst of it was. and were disappearing out of sight. being thirsty. indeed. Music was tried. having sla ed his thirst. I expect the unwonted dissipation had something to do with it. a mile or two from the house. and the little girl went for nothing. I was pleased enough. I suspect. Hall. ta ing advantage of my being installed as leaf-turner. It's awfully dull riding by yourself mile after mile through the bush. never touched your heart. for she was not at all fond of solitude. Then Mrs. I felt as if there was something almost un ind in riding by without a word of farewell. and good enough to ta e the trouble of entertaining into her own hands. champing his bit. and I had to do the civil till I wished the girl at--well certainly anywhere but where she was. Here my horse. Cree went off to her babies. cleared out. Sepoy was very dainty in his tastes.
Mr. ta ing advantage of my inattention. too. for not a rag had he on save a hat. wheeling round. staring in amazement at the scared countenance from which the voice had evidently proceeded. than the horse would gradually bac . trot off again. now made a move forward to follow his mates. proceeded with an easy mind to disport himself in the crystal stream. Li e a fool instead of standing still and spea ing so as to reassure the animal. He did not go very far. It seems Hall had stopped on his way from Ashfield to Grettan. 'only get out of sight again. it was very evident that some aw ward accident had befallen his garments. and gathered up my reins for a rush up the ban . to calm his fear.--so there was nothing wrong with the girls. but in vain.' But my warning came too late.' and in his anxiety getting from behind the indly shelter of the tree. 'Oh. the head-stall gave way. for God's sa e don't go!' Guided better by the sound. though. poor old boy'-strove to calm the truant steed. I did not go towards it at first. 'I'm Hall. at the Downfall. but wheeling round. and in terms of dulcet flattery--'Whoa. Verner!' But there could be no mista e this time about the strange voice-'Verner. and. give a snort. he rushed forward to grab the reins before they bro e. 'Stop!' almost shrie ed the owner of the head. turning my horse and going towards him. no sooner did he approach his horse than the latter started bac with an affrighted snort. coop. No sooner was he almost within touching distance. stopped in his flight. hastened by Kitty calling out in impatient tones. . and that it would be as well to carry out the old adage as to discretion. with uplifted tail and expanded nostril. and. my good fellow. at the large waterhole close to where we had had our picnic. But when he came out again. but could see no one. he strapped them together. gently. trying. Sepoy. Hall advanced more carefully this time. for a shrill voice (Kitty's) exclaimed. 'What's the matter?' I said. Again he advanced.--a man's voice. So far so good. I have lost my clothes. the natural result was that terrified still more at the antics of this strange object the horse plunged wildly. when indulging in a similar luxury. Verner. by addressing him in soothing tones. Now.others. Taught discretion. gazed at the cause of his alarm. good horse. I could listen with a tranquil mind to the tale he told. old fellow. 'All right!' I called out. Quite sure now that the coast was clear. 'Do ma e haste. when I thought I heard a voice calling me by name. Here the water loo ed so deliciously cool as it splashed over the little ledge of roc s forming the miniature cascade from which it had its name. a few days before. I loo ed round. that he thought he would have a bathe. coop. and off he went. and then hitching his horse securely to a sapling. come along. and fastened them on to his saddle. for if I had any ideas at all on the subject. good boy. now my eyes caught sight of a pale face peering round a tree not far distant. carrying the clothes along with him. it was that my interviewer was a madman. he had been stung by some large ants that had got into his clothes as they lay on the ground To avoid this danger. a favourite proceeding of Sepoy's. goodness gracious!' and I caught a glimpse of the little girl's figure--she had evidently turned bac to see what delayed me--in full retreat.
who came in crowds to parta e of the feast so bounteously spread for them. for their state proved what rough usage they had had. Crouching behind the tree. the only ind that were at all suitable were those of the nettle tree in the scrub. The horse. and. who had evidently . but I rode bac as quic ly as I could. as it was on the verandah. and as he scrambled up he found himself in the possession of about as much of his nether garments as would encircle his an le. Hall held on. he had gathered himself into the smallest space. Here. When. then. and so it went on. Yet he could not stay where or how he was. started forward. but thatching himself with branches did not seem a feasible plan. by one or two of the boys. and in such pain from his bruised and swollen feet. not daring to move lest his presence might be betrayed. startled afresh.But the result was another failure. however. and as the animal was not only stronger. and they certainly would not do. and saw his horse disappearing in the distance. because I hadn't more than was absolutely necessary for myself. Indeed. I lingered behind. on the chance of some one passing. At last he determined to ma e his way to the crossing place. he was so utterly done up. He thought of our first parents. although his rueful expression. except. So I gave him up my room. I could not give him any garments there and then. his dismay when he caught sight of two female forms. not forgetting something to comfort the inner man. that he could scarcely control his voice sufficiently to call out. I did pity him when he held them up for my inspection. Nothing could induce him to face the fair females. one's toilet in the bush being distinguished more for simplicity than abundance. having tumbled into the head of a fallen tree. and returned with a led horse and wherewithal to clothe him. There he was. He got to where I found him at last with no little difficulty. in a nice predicament. shivering with cold and stiff with fatigue. that bed was about the best place for him. he had waited. Judge. Once he stal ed him. and wait in concealment there. and as to using single leaves. were so ludicrous that I could hardly eep my countenance. and he was in such an agony of fear lest I should not hear him. but how on earth was he to ma e his appearance in such a plight? He shuddered at the bare idea (no pun meant). all his hopes of a rescue being lost in the fear of being seen. The sound of our advancing horses had fallen li e the sweetest music on his ear. and almost wild with the attac s of mosquitoes. sheering off. for his horse had headed that way. for his feet were cut by stic s and stones. and the surroundings in general. He tried at first to run after his horse. for as much as these leaves excel in size those of the nettle of our ditches. and he could crawl to it without being seen. but soon pulled himself up with a bar ed shin and a scratched face. and creeping up behind actually got hold of one of the legs of his trousers. planted behind a big tree. it seemed li e a special interposition of Providence in his favour. but had a base of four to Hall's two. the horse letting him approach to just beyond catching distance. so do they excel them in the virulence of their stinging properties. carrying away the rest of his attire in triumph. and then at the moment he thought he had him. What was he to do? He wasn't very far from Grettan. indeed. Of course his troubles were to a certain extent over now. the man toppled over. indeed.
of course it was for a fixed time. Cree . and therein lay the sting. served but to ma e me feel the more eenly what was due to him. chances of opening the subject were lost. unexpectedly. 'How's that?' Then I told him how matters stood. had certainly no desire to go--to do anything that might sever the pleasant relations that existed between me and the Drummonds. but he made no allusion as to any change in my position. though guiltless. as I should say. He tal ed of plans to be carried out.learned something of the affair from their sister. This time had now nearly expired. Cree to ta e me as a new chum. and though my present wor was what is more usually entrusted to more practised hands. Not only did I feel that I was worthy of my hire. yet your conduct has seemed to give grounds for the accusation. When I made an agreement with Mr. as these long-pondered affairs generally are. and because I dreaded ta ing a step that might end in my having to leave this neighbourhood. day after day went by. I shran from spea ing. the present ever seeming an inopportune moment.--but I held it unfair to my father not to relieve him of the burden of my eep as soon as I could. on my part. Had I spo en at once. I. the Sunday at Quondong. 'How much does Cree give you?' . can be ignorant in that respect. as to my receiving any salary. and being very full of the subject. and whose loo s were certainly not expressive of pity as they watched him hobbling along. so I had no reason to conclude that he wished me to leave at the end of my term. but I should not have been placed in a position that gave others the right. Drummond.--Mr.--naturally leading me to suppose that some little value was attached to my services. for surely never is an unjust imputation so hard to bear as when you feel that.-- 'Nothing. and yet nothing had been decided. I was spending. thin ing that any proposal ought to come from Mr. said. above all things. yet. as I could not but own it did. when Mr. So it came to pass that I was a good deal exercised in my mind on this matter. or rather. all the same.--and I don't see how any one who has his wits about him. turning to me in his abrupt way. as I ought to have done.' I answered. and the conviction that my inclinations led me to remain near Quondong. my services and a certain premium being accepted as an equivalent for the opportunities given me of acquiring a nowledge of station matters. The whole affair was settled. to consider I had acted unfairly towards them. my period of pupilage had come to an end. Cree had so far said nothing as to my remaining. and spo e as if I were to ta e a share in their execution. Things went on in this uncomfortable state for some time. Of course I suffered for this shir ing--one always does. and really tries to do his best. and in quite a different way to what I had supposed. Not that I had so acted. doubtless enlarged considerably on it. as I so frequently did. I had not the slightest intention of wor ing any longer without pay. yet I fretted and reproached myself for remaining silent. not only would I have been easier in my mind.
because you are not an old station hand li e him. or Cree wouldn't eep you on. Cree by leaving him hurriedly. and I thin you will do. I want some one I can trust to act immediately under me. he continued. 'and I should li e the billet. but I'll tell you what I'll do.' 'Perhaps not. though I should not li e to offend him by accepting another billet before I had fairly left him. the agreement is finished. though. Drummond wasn't present when this conversation too place.-'It's better than staying at Grettan even with a screw. I don't advise you at all in the matter.' The upshot of the matter was. I did ta e the billet. he said.' Then he stopped and went on smo ing.' 'You would advise me. sitting on a fallen log a little way off. 'The screw shall be (and he named a fair enough sum). 'It is very good of you. with the sheep I have. or even spo en of leaving. interrupting me after he had listened silently for some time. . 'You are worth pay. for the idea of being actually at Quondong startled me into silence.' 'Then don't say anything about it.' adding the last few words after a momentary pause. I don't see any need for hesitation on that score. 'but I can hardly leave Cree so abruptly. and my management. She had gone down to the station to see a sic woman.' Seeing that I hesitated. but I could see that his sharp little eyes were watching me furtively all the same. you will be on a different footing. 'I should be only too happy to get it. Of course.' I answered slowly. and her husband and I were waiting for her. that is your own affair. Cree nows about as much as a blac fellow about sheep. I won't promise you the same pay. and there's an end of it.' 'Then why don't you ta e it?' he said quic ly. but I'll do what's fair. then. The fact is. and your quarters--at the station. to as for a salary?' 'Well. and you say Gardiner goes at once. of course.'I thin you are ma ing a great mista e in staying. Mrs. subject to the condition that I should not inconvenience Mr.' 'I thought you told me just now that it was over a month since your agreement terminated?' 'Yes. I suppose had he wanted me he would have spo en?' 'Not a doubt of it. not loo ing directly at me. but it isn't fair to your father to give your services for nothing.' I replied. you will learn far more here. though you ta e Gardiner's place. I will ta e you on in Gardiner's place.
I was not sorry that my stay was to be of short duration. I puzzled a good deal over her speech on my ride home. so that. . certainly. and it was this feeling that was at the bottom of Mrs. I was half-savage at the time. I found. and whose descent he was assisting by some rapid turns preparatory to curling himself up in its folds. she seemed to ta e it as a case of desertion to the enemy. for I thought she would have been pleased. The lights were out in the sitting-room when I got bac . Cree put aside my offer to stop as long as suited him. and now that I was fairly leaving Grettan for Quondong. 'Did you or Robert propose it?' she said. Drummond. and I felt it too. that she had heard the news. she contrived to say more unpleasant things during the short time I remained than was at all agreeable to listen to. Cree . 'Mr. and so led to the offer being made. and amongst other uncomfortable things I thought Cree would insist on ta ing away my clothes to prevent me going. Drummond's advice. seeing that he new very well when my time as a 'new chum' came to an end. Cree 's manner to me. and found it sufficiently disagreeable.--I need hardly say that I never for a moment meant to follow Mr. Perhaps I ought. I got through the affair during the day.--I can't say that my meditations were exactly agreeable. that I mentioned that I was to be one of the Quondongs. for a sharp retort would probably have led to a quarrel. but I am glad now that my wit failed me. My objection to this stripping process awo e me. so my determination to have no more delays--for I could not but feel how much more pleasant it would have been to have spo en to Mr. pleasant intercourse. He did not say much. and that I ought to have spo en to him before I made any agreement. but I thought also that he ought to have proposed something it he had wished me to stay on. with a sudden harsh inflection in her voice. Cree before--was useless. I have alluded before to the jealous disli e the Cree s had for the Drummonds. and I found the foundation for my vision in the fact of Hope's angaroo dog having planted himself on the end of my blan et which had fallen down. Cree chose to consider himself an aggrieved person. to say the least of it. both hurt and annoyed at the curt. and it was not till just before I left. and she and I were alone together. and I should have much regretted such a finale to a period of. for though she treated my departure as a matter of no consequence (nor. was it).Nothing was said about it when she rejoined us. and between that and thin ing how I should tell the Cree s of my new plan. that I could not find any words in which to resent it and yet not betray temper. on the whole.' She did not say anything more. but they set me dreaming. and I began to regret that I had been so communicative. My troubles did not eep me awa e. even my impudence would not have been equal to that. She had always resented my being on such friendly terms with her neighbours. and the tone it was uttered in. but his manner was nasty. too me abac not a little. and had secretly rec oned on a loo of pleasure in her face when I told her. but her remar . indeed. as soon as I met Mrs. ungracious way Mr.
I did not thin much of his method.I could not flatter myself that she had any regret at my leaving on my own account. moreover. Perhaps for that reason I was not drawn towards her. li e the man who never opened his mouth but to put his foot in it. which he managed entirely himself. I am going to live at the station. Naturally they would not care always to have a stranger with them. not being quite such a fool. congratulating me on the difference I should find between their 'poor fare and rough-and-ready ways.' 'I thought you were far too great a favourite with Mrs. Of course I only put these forward as suggestions. he got me to help him with the boo s. Drummond. though I was a new chum comparatively.' I felt very much. at this retort. but for some extra returns he was ma ing out on a plan of his own. And whether it was that I unconsciously betrayed my estimate of her character. She gave me a Parthian shot as I was leaving. and being naturally concerned in all that related to sheep. then?' 'I suppose so. you would hardly imagine he was the . though I thought the idea might be carried out with advantage. Finding that I was pretty good at figures. and we have always been on very fair terms since. 'as we have had to put up with having a stranger with us. who thought her perfection.' she rejoined. as well as the outdoor wor --not the regular accounts. and good--natured to the young fellows (myself included) at the place. but I don't thin she was particularly sincere. After what I have said of him. if I may judge from the tarradiddles she told now and then. 'she nows nothing about it. and ventured to propose a few alterations. Drummond. 'are you to be counted amongst the men. at any rate I was not exactly in her good graces. and that I had better eep mine shut and let my antagonist retire with all the honours of war. for I was not ignorant that I was not a favourite with her. I could not but be amused at the way he got me to do them. Mrs. certainly her sense of truth was not. My new boss not only new what was to be done. I was much interested in the question.' 'It's fortunate our sensibilities are not so delicate. 'But you see. as we were riding out together to a sheep station. but he had a nac of ma ing others do it. there being no boo .eeper on the station. I had very little leisure. for when we next met she received me graciously enough. or for what she was pleased to term my fastidiousness. She was clever and amusing. as to be at all sure that any notion of mine could be of any use to an experienced man li e Mr. Perhaps this small triumph mollified her. He began. or that her standard of honour was a high one. Cree .' I answered. giving my reasons for these changes.' 'Oh!' with a tone of malicious surprise. and.' 'Most li ely. I did not see very much of Mrs. a capital wife to Cree . I never went to the house without an express invitation.' and the luxury of the Drummonds' house. Drummond to be sent down to the station. to discuss them.
he certainly was in choosing the best from the various views he elicited--in ma ing the wisdom of others wor for his ends. but I believe it was his thorough selfishness that was at the bottom of this unusual disregard of his own views.-'I tell you what it is. and if he was not clever in originating. and in a mild manner even criticise a plan of his. Verner. you shall ma e them out for me yourself. and smo ed on without spea ing a word till we reached the sheep station. after this emerged Mr. He seemed to consider that for the present he had done with the matter.sort of person to let a youngster and a subordinate discuss. the only words I could ma e out were.--that it was out of his hands. throwing the reins to me.-- . Here he bro e out into a fine storm. 'You savey. dashed into the hut. When he had a scheme in petto. and blowing li e a porpoise. having ta en refuge behind a big gum tree. and we can loo over the plan. sugar. but that is just what he would do. he said.' I thin I did murmur something li e an assent.--for when I made some further remar on the subject. he li ed to tal it over with any one he met. was evidently going in for an afternoon of quiet enjoyment. and see if it will wor . After I had tal ed for some time. he made no answer. ta ing the reins out of my hand. tea. and desirous of more information. and. He made one jump off his horse. influenced unfairly by a scheme because it had been evolved out of his own internal consciousness. I can't say. I fully expected he was going to follow up his attac . almost before the words of my question were fairly uttered. as he had only got his rations the previous day. at any rate. the intense hold that his interests had on him would not let him treat his own thoughts with any especial favour. a blazing fire-stic . a savoury smell proceeding from a pot on the fire. was loudly vociferating in the nasal high-pitched twang of our yellow brethren. not only an interest. as most people are. and the next minute out came.' But the boss never even loo ed towards him. and began. I suppose. rather nervous at the responsibility. to listen to the remar s made on it. and. Drummond. but. and what's more. followed by a shower of panni ins. to remain for some fifteen hours without food or water. That done. mounted and rode off. a Chinaman. but I doubt if he heard me: he certainly never heeded. The shepherd. first the pot and its steaming contents. Out of these different opinions he used to form his course of action. who. Put them into some shape to-night. but some slight insight into the matter. then John himself. turning towards me with quite the air of bonhomie with which people generally confer a favour. to give me directions on another business. so that he was never. and had shown. he lighted his pipe. damper. I expect he got bac . feeling. and the wretched animals were yarded. to his mother tongue. finally. while the ruffian was comfortably stretched out in his bun . not expecting a visit. with a very red face. You should have seen the boss's face as these things dawned upon him. had coolly brought home his floc quite early in the afternoon. It sounds ill-natured. turning round after he had ridden a few steps to call out to me. But to return. but whether he was explaining matters or breathing forth vows of vengeance. in his state of high pressure. and to-morrow evening come up. and was preparing to lend a hand in demolishing the child of the Flowery Land. indeed.
that the next day I should have no time. but don't you thin we had better establish a code of signals?' 'Why? What do we want signals for?' 'How else am I to now the dangers you might be exposed to? Suppose a particularly large spider' (her especial aversion) 'put in an appearance. with a smile that was childli e and bland. Where are you to be?' 'Here. I could only stay a very short time. and I did not mean to lose a pleasant evening up at the house. Mr. I presume. The afternoon just before Mr.'Just wait till the other shepherd comes in. and see if the sheep are all right.' 'I'll do my best. and was quite surprised. though from an opposite direction. and ept me grinding away till it was so late that I began to thin he did not intend to let me return to the drawing-room. for the boss too me off almost at once to his sanctum. When I went up in the evening I found a new arrival there. but I wished the house had not been so far from the other buildings. if you hoist a flag half-post high. Drummond. who was ma ing a regular round of visits in this part of the country. Drummond's departure. Not that I had much chance of benefiting by her presence on this occasion. Drummond would have a companion. and I cannot say that a little chaff that I exchanged with the visitor quite compensated me for the pleasure I had anticipated--a pleasure that certainly was in no way connected with Miss Blount. to see how late. as well as her hostess. and then turned round short on Mr. found my fatigue vanish. Miss Blount. so I set to wor . and once fairly at it. the three rode into the station yard as I too came in. it was pretty late. pointing to my quarters.' As soon as he was out of sight the culprit ventured into the opening. when I had done my tas . I must say I was glad to see her. I didn't feel much inclined to tac le the returns. I expect that (adjective) scoundrel has lost some. She was so lively that she seemed to set us going. An allusion was made to Mr. But I was to see more of her. and I said something about being glad Mrs. and began pic ing up the fragments. or rather how early it was.' answered Miss Blount. so that. then I'll rush--rush to the rescue. when I had got home and had something to eat. 'for having sole charge of two forlorn females. But I new it was now or never. By the time the other fellow had returned.' I answered. Miss Blount stared at me for a moment. and he had brought the young lady over from Ashwood that she might remain with his wife during his absence. as it were. 'All the more glory for you. Drummond had been spea ing lately of a visit he would have to pay shortly to a station he was thin ing of buying. Drummond left.' 'I don't understand. than I had at all expected. in the person of Miss Blount. So we stopped to exchange a few words. As it was. and the sheep were counted. .
Verner would be at the house while you are away. to-night. She did not generally play dance music well. in the utmost indignation. and yet hardly caring to give in.' Mr. often having to be out on the run before my hostess and her guest had left their rooms. Drummond to go over to the enemy as she did. loo ing as if he felt convicted of having been neglectful of his wife's feelings. indeed. Miss Blount was unaffectedly in earnest in her protestations. rather ta en abac at this unexpected attac . 'Really. played with her reins.' So it was settled. Drummond and Miss Blount against dummy and me: such whist. Drummond. I was fully occupied all day. Miss Blount is right. I suppose. then!' was the retort. I thin we all felt in some degree li e children when the master is away. Drummond said in a hesitating way. and I certainly did find them pleasant. . indifferent manner that seemed to freeze my ideas. 'it's positively aggravating to listen and be still. now that I was to a certain extent in charge of the station. After a short pause. till the ball was within an ace of bringing the lamp to grief. and on the boss's departure I was installed as watch--dog. still they were neither very remorseless foes. it is too bad. with ourselves as audience. she had not a trace of it. We played at whist. I enjoyed being with Mrs. and one evening we had a dance. We got up little concerts. I will do nothing of the ind. and somehow I always was to a certain extent embarrassed when alone with her. Drummond. muttered something about his wife having often been alone there. while I mentally most heartily endorsed what the latter had just said. Miss Blount and I were soon on our old footing of friendly war.-'Perhaps.' 'Why are you still?' answered the player. You had better go up to the house. with an amused smile on her face.' she exclaimed. Drummond above all things.' called out Miss Blount. Mrs. and though it was hardly fair of Mrs.' Mr.'You don't mean to say. I found my evenings pass very differently to what they usually did. but now we were all together. preferring her society to that of any one else. and she used sometimes then to put on a cold. though she never raised her eyes. 'that we are expected to stop up there by ourselves! Indeed. but Miss Blount's presence in no way interfered with that pleasure. I wished myself anywhere but where I was. Drummond. Verner. We started a species of drawing-room tennis. It too away all feeling of restraint. 'More shame for you. I thin it enhanced it. but my evenings were always free. Mrs. Mrs. for nothing could be more spirited than her way of rendering the music. 'But certainly I won't. Of course. when suddenly she dashed into a gallop. I supposed Mr. I can't say I had much cause to complain. nay more. but she was in the humour. evidently did not now what to say. I would rather sleep on a shelf in the store. and a loo of inquiry at his wife which she would not see. where revo es and leading questions made startling variations in the game. Mr. Drummond was at the piano. Of course.
when you did. prefer her as a partner. too. who had just returned to the . and then after a pause (for Miss Blount wanted the music-stool altered. I have danced pretty often. my breath stirred the soft hair on the pretty head that drooped towards me. and with a fair number of good partners. Drummond had glided out of my arm and from the room. Mrs. and we began. My arm clasped her rounded slender waist. with a preliminary crashing chord or two. 'You were dancing a minute ago. we ta ing the pleasure for ourselves. but for my own part I prefer dancing. people generally loo so delightfully silly when pulled up with a round turn. but naturally the place wasn't arranged for that sort of thing. You are as white as a ghost. but she would not raise her eyes. I loo ed down at the face that was so near. But no. you poor boy. but I thought it was hardly fair to give the other all the wor . you need not. and on we went again. Drummond wanted a waltz. Drummond. She had a perfect ear.' I said. So we had to stop and clear the gangway. We stopped the second time by the piano.' 'Than s. for I should not believe you. and quic as thought Mrs. I could feel the beating of her heart--I felt a wild desire to go on for ever. it ma es a delicious waltz. and then I'll play. for she said. and. I did that on purpose.-'We will have one more turn.' 'And we only stopped a minute ago. so I daresay I lagged a little in starting. 'Go on!' cried Mrs. I could only see the long lashes lying on a chec tinted with the tender hues of a sea-shell.' 'Yes. and as I gazed I utterly forgot myself. turning to the slightest move of the guiding arm. she began her part. jumping up.' It was a very short turn. I am sorry. of course.Miss Blount half rose. I confess. Now I feel ill-used. 'I am not at all tired. 'All right. as she turned round and saw only one of the performers. Then with a sudden clash the music ceased. Mrs. and whispered her name. for your disappointment. especially after your admirable playing. lithe as a willow wand. and settled down to a rattling gallop. Involuntarily I drew her closer to me. and to get into position generally). and what do you suppose her guest chose?--'The Pilgrims of the Night.' But hymn tune or not. Drummond. she seemed to be one with the music and her fellow--dancer. Drummond. you are quite tired out.' 'I need not tell Miss Blount that I. and to ta e off her rings. Mrs. and the next minute we were pironetting round the room. she called out to her hostess.' I thin my partner was quite willing.' 'No. 'What has become of Mrs. but I never had such a dance or such a partner. Drummond?' exclaimed Miss Blount. and held her hand with a tighter clasp. and we found chairs and tables somewhat hard objects to come against.' 'Than you. But you. swaying to the melody as if she was literally floating on the strain.
exclaimed.' . we altogether forgot that Mr. for. and went out to see if I could get any information as to their movements at the station. Even Mrs. and I did not dare to face her lest I should read my fate in her eyes. but as I was going out at the gate I heard the sound of approaching hoofs. almost sad expression in her face.room. I busied myself putting the music into the stand.-- The next morning I was obliged to be out early. I must have been mad to have ventured on such an impertinence. Drummond. As time went on I got anxious. and answered my loo of inquiry by saying. For myself I felt horribly guilty. I suppose our companion found a solo rather slow. so she went off with him in little more than an hour after she got the news. could not miss my way.' The tone of her voice reassured me. without once raising her eyes. and even I. They had gone out riding. We strive so hard to eep our belongings apart. saying as she did so. and. the servant told me. and have nearly danced him to death. One would thin you were "Buttercup" mixing the babies. 'Miss Blount found a letter at Grettan to say her mother is very ill. and after that I too grew silent.' Mrs. it was softer than usual. she got up. I vote to see the balmy. so that I was not a little surprised to find myself in sole possession of the house. Miss Blount was in high spirits.' answered Mrs. that loo ed so white and still in the moonlight. and anything seemed better than dwelling on the folly I had committed. seeing what I was about. indeed. 'we can separate them to-morrow.' 'That was luc y. Drummond made no answer. I was rather late. Folly is as quiet as a sheep. Cree was starting for town this afternoon. not that I felt particularly bright. Cree was away. the way you are jumbling everything up. or any li elihood of being detained. 'So many angels have been passing over the house in this last halfhour that there must be a regular procession of them. She was alone. but seeing that the moonlight seemed too bright for her. leaning bac in her chair. and saw Mrs. stupid as I am in that matter. but had said nothing as to where they were going. for Miss Blount. She was very silent the rest of the evening. Drummond. But did they let you ride bac by yourself?' 'There was no one there. for no one up here seemed to have any idea in what direction they had ridden. and tal ed for all of us. Fortunately.' 'Never mind. I did my best to eep up the ball. stifling a yawn. Besides. Mr. and with a dreamy. don't put the music li e that. I suppose I was ma ing rather wild wor of it. I had not dared to spea to Mrs. She too it without a word. Drummond cantering up. I got a little screen from the room and offered it to her. Verner has been out after cattle all day. of course. 'it's really too bad of us. but I was restless and excited. there was no anger in it--if anything.-'Pray. and did not return till dinner-time. let us sit on the verandah--this room is stifling. her hands lying clasped in her lap. and indeed answered her sallies almost at random.
but if she didn't do more wor than I did reading. and those I did get out were stupidity itself. was as dull as a funeral.--possibly she had not noticed it. never good. and. for she was unmista eably embarrassed. Naturally this state of uncertainty made me uncomfortable. I did not thin she should be left with only the protection of the servants. I for my part. Mr. she first gave a little squeal as a great splash of gravy struc her full in the face. One good thing.' I thin Miss Blount would have been flattered had she nown how much we missed her. instead of being the cheerful meal it had been. Drummond having expressed a wish to taste this particular ind. I did not care to ta e that view. went to the piano. She made hardly any effort to second my attempts at tal ing. but after trying to sing or play. and failing decidedly in both. got up several times and sat down again without doing anything save move aimlessly about the room. but no. my for slipped. her embroidery was not much the better for her devotion. whether I ought to stop up at the house since Miss Blount had gone. sending a shower of gravy in all directions. As to the attendant Hebe. my little accident had the effect of setting us more at ease for the rest of the dinner. then too up some needlewor . I wonder how long we sat there. was to-night a miracle of clumsiness. bending over it. for I had often to all intents and purposes spent the evening alone with her. while I heard every rustle of her dress. and away went the duc with a jump. seemed determined to become absorbed in her occupation. What troubled me now was. though my eyes wandered mechanically over the page of the boo before me. shut down the instrument with an impatient gesture. hardly saw the words. I was sure since I gave her the screen--that she had forgiven me my folly. and then went off into a splutter of laughter that she had to run out of the room to hide. It did not seem to me quite right to remain. I was sure now--indeed. as if alive. I seemed to have hardly an idea at command. and the evening promised to pass with somewhat less of stiffness than it had begun. both silent and seemingly so occupied. trying in my nervousness to carve with easy rapidity. for my carving. that is the main thing. Now this wretched little bird was a proof of how often our most coveted desires are only a moc ery when gained. and the temporary case that had followed my carving mishap soon gave place to fresh restraint after we went into the drawing-room. Yet I ended by pouring anything but blessings on its head.--it was not this that bothered me. you have not. and leaving me with the for in the air. I don't now why I should have felt so stupid. I could not but thin what a pretty picture she would have made as . I got a boo . Dinner. and had counted myself a fortunate man when it fell a victim to my by no means unerring aim. Mrs. Drummond frequently. yet how could I say anything? Moreover. went off to his den for most of the time. right out of the dish. the very sound of her needle as it passed through the stuff she was embroidering.'At any rate. and I can't help thin ing she was debating the same question in her own mind. for. I had spent some hours in the early morning wading through a very muddy swamp in pursuit of it. I had a wild duc to perform upon. when I was up at the house. certainly did not ta e in their meaning. loo ing the biggest fool imaginable. Even my hands shoo in the embarrassment.
stand by her side as she sang. as ing for and hearing all my favourite songs. she began to tal about a flower she had once seen on the border of a scrub. let go the glass too soon. it is true. that I can't say honestly rejoiced me exceedingly. Neither of us said as much. Folly. it reminded me of the time when I rode over to as her to the picnic. Drummond was not much given to wasting his time in excursions with his wife in search of flowers or scenery. and only escaped as by a miracle from noc ing our heads together. both of us made a dart to save it. or prettier than the quic . and he too good care not to let me be spoiled by idleness--for which last I by no means blame him. a colour far more bright than the faint pin that generally tinged her chee s. gave her complexion an unusual brilliancy. confused at my blundering. Drummond. to exchange sometimes a few words of appreciation or criticism. Her remar was about nothing in particular. either I. as if she could only steady it by a strong effort. deft movements of her small hands. and I proposed that the next afternoon we should ride in search of it. Gazing at Mrs. and if I had. at any rate the tumbler fell. but I had no lac of interest now with her for a listener. my hand in some aw ward way touched hers. ventured a glance now and then. as . pliant wrists. Drummond loo up. for when she spo e again. and brea the silence that had lasted so long. but these stolen glimpses filled up the time in a thoroughly satisfactory manner. A little while after this piece of news. As I was giving her a glass of water. Nothing could be more easily graceful than her pose. and made one notice more than ever the exquisite purity and fairness of her s in. and started shortly after two. In the course of the evening she told me she had heard from Mr. it sounded as usual. that afterwards I should pour out the tea for her. sometimes only a glance of sympathy. or she relaxed her hold. it had a curious strained tone. but the ice that had formed between us. as well as carry her her cup. and met her as she came out of the French light. the light falling on her bending head. By good fortune I had not much wor the next day. and at dinner it seemed quite a matter of course that we should sit tête-à-tête. We had an early lunch. Drummond seemed a quite sufficient and pleasant occupation. that had exactly the scent of vanilla.she sat there. with its shining tresses. but her voice struc me. read to her as she wor ed. I remembered perfectly her spea ing of it the day her husband had so curtly sent me to the bachelors' quarters at the station. on the soft curves of her slender form. quite the reverse. but I am sure we both felt the search was not to be put off if we really wanted to carry it out. and their rounded. Both boo and embroidery were the same as on the previous night. The approach of a servant (Mary had a pair of uncommonly pretty feet. I only. I am pretty certain that for this once--and I don't mean to say that it was such a very unusual occurrence--duty would have yielded to pleasure. for Mr. But I am not sure if it was not fancy on my part. and this fallen glass not only bro e itself. drooping slightly over her wor . This set us off laughing. and the tramp of an elephant) made Mrs. on the mil -white throat. Next morning things were as usual. My chapter of accidents had not yet come to an end. who was to return in at most two days. while I thin her embroidery was rather a sufferer.
but there was no sharpness or hardness. but made lovely by an atmosphere luminous with soft light that surrounded them. would he heard. the play of light and shadow so lovely and varied. even Sepoy. curveting and prancing. as we rode under a big spur that projected from the range as it rose up above us. was to-day as gay as a child. Tin le. as we rode along. pretending to shy at every fallen bough. the fringe of wattle covered with their fragrant blossoms of paley gold along a watercourse. generally rather silent. till you could almost suppose some invisible hand was bending it down as it passed softly over it. as it ran spar ling along. had the air of a vista in a royal par . To our right the broad lagoon spread out. The air was so clear and limpid. the long blady grass with which it was overgrown tinged with golden brown. This. its crest came out against the s y as if carved. their shadowy foliage loo ing ghost-li e against the pale blue s y. not above our horses' fetloc s. indulged in a big jump or two. enough to show the crystal clearness of the water. their pale green delicate leaves only letting the sun glint down here and there. and hers told me. so distinct each ragged pine. their giant trun s white as mil and lustrous as satin. So on this day. might . that filled each ravine. reflecting li e a mirror the scrub that clothed its ban s. Australian scenery does not stri e at first. that a sunny glade where groups of trees were arranged by Nature's carelessly graceful hand. how the beauty of the sight touched her. and heard her ringing. arching her nec . perfectly still. a narrow gully in which ban s of fern were shimmering in the sunshine. forming an ever-changing networ of light and shade over the sandy bottom. Involuntarily as we loo ed up our eyes met. to show how much he appreciated--imitation being the sincerest of flattery--the graceful gambols of his equine companion. we were neither of us very far from girlhood and boyhood. as we rode down the steep ban . a little valley winding away towards the hills. then the long-drawn liquid note. a group of gum trees.s ittish as a colt. for that on a fine day is so exquisite. a thousand times better than the most eloquent words.--a score of such objects. that has earned for its utterer the name of coach-whip. There was one crossing place where. musical laugh as she came in the winner by a few yards. and waving and swaying before the slightest breeze. Drummond. tin le went the little bell-birds. ending in a sudden chirp. and formed perfect walls of the richest and most varied verdure. the wonderful transparence of the atmosphere was softened by the golden haze that floated over all. Some of the views were indeed beautiful in themselves. rising straight and branchless for more than a hundred feet. Mrs. and any one who had seen us racing over the big plain. we were nearly shut out from the garish light of day by some noble chestnuts that grew in the channel. li e fairy chimes ringing in the wind. that it gives a singular charm even to an ordinary landscape. and lay li e a veil on the wooded sides. though it would have been hard by description to justify our praise. our admiration was continually excited. as it is on the atmosphere its beauty mainly rests. clothed to its summit in unbro en forest. And again. is partly owing to its depending so much on the weather. but its beauty grows upon one. attracted us at every turn. usually the most staid as he was the most trusty of steeds. I thin . trifling in themselves. indeed. so clear was every curve. But we were not voiceless as a rule. tossing her head.
" "But you don't mean to leave her there?" "And why not? I don't vant a det womans in the hut mit me. The water was shallow. A German shepherd lived in the old hut. the rains had washed away the loose earth. "Don't you now your wife is lying dead close by?" he called out. The western ban was high. and as the bed of the stream was narrow. but blac from the dense shadow of the trees after which the place was called. though the edge of a small flat. so. but the brute thrashed her if she did not do everything he wanted. There. though we did not say much more about it. brought us suddenly in full view of this dismal object. is it?' I said. as we pulled up and loo ed down. were the remains of a hut. though. So she had been brought up by an uncle. who showed no more affection to her . an axe still in her hand. telling me about her childhood and early girlhood. it seems. Her father was in India. and as he was big enough to eat the fellow. and with its sluggish flow gave it a sullen loo . not a blade of grass grew on or near it. in wretched health. as our horses.have supposed we were two youngsters out for a holiday. for Mrs. Her mother had died when she was very young. One incident was hardly cheerful. but I did not find any particular fault with the change. did. he made him bring the poor creature into the hut. Drummond gave a little cry. The women tal ed a little. Drummond became almost confidential. most of them at any rate. he galloped up to the hut to see if any one was in. This was a very different place to the first ford. Drummond.' 'Most assuredly he did not. I suppose they thought that the fault lay in the woman for dying.' We were not so lively after this. we seemed to be going into a dar trough as we rode down. and the next day they sent out from the station and had her buried. not an attempt at enclosure. On the other side of the trac was a small mound. 'nor is it connected with a pleasant story. a hard man. slabs lying about. Mrs. because when I came home there is no fire. but the right of a man to beat his wife.' 'But how was it." Luc ily Bar er wasn't li ely to stand that sort of thing. The poor woman was. 'Horrified. the men. she managed for some time to get through her tas s. But one afternoon a boundary rider going up to the hut found the woman lying dead not far from it. but as the brute was married again in less than two months. 'that no one interfered before? Robert could not have nown. seems quite a recognised thing. not in the man's ill--treatment of her. only a few stunted iron-bar s being scattered over it. There was the shepherd coolly eating his supper. though she could scarcely crawl about. and as we came out of this miniature ravine we found ourselves on a bare ridge. I do now my woman is det. "Yes. mar ed out this lonely grave. there was no mista ing it. 'It's not a cheerful sight. the traces of a fireplace still visible. on one side. jumping up from the water-worn ascent. so that it loo ed more li e a heap of coarse gravel than anything else. also a widower. and he used to ma e his wife wor li e a nigger. a couple of chained posts still standing. though not a post or a stone. But no.' as ed Mrs. On the opposite side flood water seemed to have bro en down the ban . if he so pleases. At Cedar Crossing we went over the river again. or rather a great deal at first.
against whose superior charms she had little chance. Perhaps if we had been let alone we should neither of us have married so young.than to his own child. 'where is my flower? You brought me out on purpose to let me show it to you. and at last she had to own that her memory had not retained any mar that might guide her in the search. "that I could not hold a candle to his young mistress. but would not have owned it for worlds. of that she was sure. Half a dozen times she was certain she recognised the tree on which it grew. We were at the right scrub. mysterious chamber and all. eyeing me wonderingly. I am not at all humble-minded now. had to own the power of my much-despised charms. and with true feminine ingenuity Mrs. "It must be your fair hair. 'Mr.' 'Is your cousin married?' 'Yes. I often laugh at the plans I used to form that I might escape such ignominy. as it was getting late. throwing away all her chances. and possibly if Ella and I had been the friends we might have been.' giving me a saucy loo . and dead. but her recollection of the situation of the plant seemed to be of the most hazy description. though. I wish they had not made such mischief between us. that I should never be married till Miss Ella had made me wal behind her as bridesmaid. quite forgetting my own first impression.' she added. I felt so indignant at its being so thrust upon me. 'I could not tell you. 'what pangs of mortification I was made to endure about Ella's superiority.'--I began. 'Was it not luc y I met Robert? for I was capable of ta ing Blue Beard. That sounds odd.' But the flower--we were so occupied with other things that we had both quite forgotten the very object of our ride. and humbly declared that if she would only give me some clue as to where it was to be found. she would not have made the foolish match she did. colouring with a vivid blush. the result of a closer inspection was not satisfactory. Even old nurse. I don't thin I resented the downright criticism of the old butler. pray don't pay me compliments. I suppose. and then fretting herself into a decline because she had only got a mere mortal in exchange. we had to turn bac . who was extremely pretty. 'but I do thin one hardly nows one's mind at eighteen.' she said. she continued. for she frowned a little. I only spea of the past. and the question as to whether this . and said coldly. but that was just what she could not do. was always being held up to her as a rival. who snubbed me on all occasions. I loo ed my thought.-'Oh. a girl a little younger than she was.' 'Surely.' then changing her tone. I suppose she thought my light tresses had some magical glamour in Robert's dar eyes.' Of course I confessed my guilt. 'what a model lover Robert was. and you can't imagine. I did thin her quite lovely. This child. So. Verner. Drummond put the whole blame of the oblivion upon me. and you have never even thought of it. but when we rode nearer." half as much as I did the taunts of the maids.' she said." she used to say. I would do my best to get it.--though for that matter I fancy no one is quite satisfied. but somehow could not find words to express my surprise at her not being considered pretty.
if aware of it. and I have sometimes reproached myself that I. or had he. however. such complete trust in her as to be regardless of remar s? Under no circumstances. gave hopes of rain. I did not read it at once. the ban of clouds had surged up high above its former place. and I opened it with as much fear as expectation. It so happened that we had a very dry season. though only coming in gusts. And yet how could I. stream-li e loo ing clouds that were advancing swiftly from the opposite direction. I was at the station when the bag was brought in. and for her sa e. and when I came bac . but some of the cree s were dry. A strong breeze. and the river only ran as a thread where there was usually a fair stream. Drummond sent me out to his new purchase in charge of sheep. both he and Mrs. would not any such attempt from me have savoured of absurd vanity and presumption? Almost as soon as he returned. if heedless himself of the opinion of others. was blowing. I was not doomed to that fate this time. and I had no time to waste if I wanted to get there dry. It was rather dreary wor living up alone at the house where I had passed such pleasant hours in Mrs. but to me. too. and though I own she did not excel as a correspondent. and was fast brea ing and flying in great trailing masses right in the teeth of the wind. Mr. I had a few letters from her. his wife having written to tell him so. and to me inexpressibly so. the rest being mere blan s. that now wearied me at times almost beyond endurance. Possibly to most eyes it might have appeared li e an ordinary envelope. He must have nown what would be said. Drummond had gone to town. Drummond did not come home for many days after the time he had named for his return. and were getting anxious about the stoc . do I hold him blameless. Had he become so accustomed to my presence. but a coppery hue on the horizon. low-lying. as the feed was fast being all scorched up. putting off its perusal till I was alone at the house. he should have let nothing stand in the way of putting an end to so unfair a position. for on the two previous occasions I had been disappointed. a low growl of distant thunder would be heard now and then. on my part. did not put an end to it. and I found how much her presence must have sweetened my wor . where they were to remain some little time. this dread was the one bitter drop in my cup. as if to oppose the long. is an unsolved mystery to this day. it was something wholly apart. and the promise made us endure the heat almost with satisfaction. There was the welcome letter showing out from amongst the others li e a dove in the midst of crows. The day the mail was due was a fearfully hot one. though he new Miss Blount had left. but no. and that her short epistles gave no idea of the writer. Drummond's society. I have often wondered since how he could have lingered.flower did or did not belong to a true vanilla orchid. as to be unconscious of the equivocal position his wife was placed in by my being thus alone with her. Of water we never feared any actual scarcity. and a venomous strea of lightning dart zig--zagging across the s y. Even to myself. and towards evening a great ban of clouds showing to the south-west. as I have said. enjoying a most exquisite happiness in this close and daily companionship with a woman always attractive. a grey vapour. Mr. . still I came to rec on the day the mail man passed as the only one worth counting.
under the clouds. told a welcome tale. at any rate. its turbid. and if I could manage to guide my horse sufficiently to land there. that were all bent down by the stream. that rapidly increased as a high west wind came up. Robert has come in. At last I got off. so that if I could only get to it quic ly I might cross it without difficulty. but the cree was always rather slow in coming down. a change in the current would let them lift their heads for a moment. so I had to mount Sepoy at once and send the other bac . I can't say I li ed the loo of it as it went tearing between its ban s. I may not see you again.--the one near Grettan where Hall had hidden. or my ride would be only a waste of time. but a huge flooded gum had toppled over. though in itself not very much. ma ing the water rush along li e a mill-race. now dashed against the house by the fierce gusts of wind that shoo and tore at the shutters. We leave on Friday so as to catch the mail steamer at Melbourne. Towards morning the gale abated. with some vague idea of setting off at once. into a ind of shallow bay. and I saw with no little pleasure that the drought would soon be bro en up. foaming surface bro en by the tops of the submerged bushes. He has had letters that will oblige him to go home at once. Good-bye. now in one almost unbro en sheet of water. and flung themselves upon the walls with such force that several times I thought they would yield to the fury of the storm. the rushing sound of the rain that was now pouring down in torrents would have put it out of the question. it was. for they all seemed sleepy as owls. but I must--I will--write before we finally start. it would be a case of u p with me. to be dashed down again the next instant by the swirling torrent. I should be all right. If I were carried farther down. moreover. But a few miles from the crossing place my horse cast a shoe. but was too late. I got over the remaining ground at a smart canter. Very li ely the noise of the storm had disturbed the people. But there a postscript. All night long it ept on. Had I been obliged to go straight over. There was one crossing place that I especially feared. and if I got caught in its head there would not be much doubt as to the result. but somewhat lower down the opposite ban shelved. sent him to bring in the horses. for see her again I would if it were in the bounds of possibility. flooded.-- . I started up. and. to eep him fresh as long as possible. letter was as usual interesting to me because penned by her hand dictated by her mind. it would have been quite madness to thin of crossing. The and was was 'Since I began writing. rousing one of the men. and at daylight a narrow strea of greenish s y to the westward. showed that all chance of more rain was over for the present. indeed. and cross it I must. as I feared. for not only did the channel narrow beyond. and so slow in their movements that everything got behind-hand. a mounted blac boy leading Sepoy. riding a station horse. I was up before dawn. but if I had really entertained any such notion. now and then. save when. and fell bac . and that did not lac matter. now fast melting out of sight. nowing as I did that every moment was of consequence to me if I hoped to carry out my journey. When I reached the river. and I was nearly maddened by the delay.' On Friday--this was Tuesday. If I rode day and night I might still be in time. for this what was written in it.
Just as I succeeded in fairly getting him in. but I had no idea what it was li e till I encountered the full force of the stream. proved too much for my self-command. and as dead as a herring. The flood was rising still. for I was flung out of the fierce strength of the rushing waters into a comparatively calm part. or whither we were going. and then start bac from the stream. for I didn't seem to have my own voice at all. I did not seem to now where we were. trembling all over. felt something touch my hand. The current catching my extended body as I hung on to the branch. now whirling round in quic raging eddies. and I could trust to his powers once more. now brea ing and chafing against some obstacle. . Dizzy and bewildered. for I don't remember anything more till I loo ed up and saw Cree 's face bending over me. into which we seemed to be fast drifting. The poor beast did not seem to relish the idea himself. It seemed to seize upon my horse and myself and fling us along as if we had been two bro en twigs. ever-changing current. as he would lower his nec . 'Where's my horse?' I said. as it tore past in great swirling masses. No sooner was Sepoy afloat than he struc out at once for the other side. certainly. snorting and turning round and refusing several times. and then return was an utter impossibility. made such a deafening din as to over-power every sound but its own. I had ic ed my feet out of the stirrups before starting. I tried to turn Sepoy's head too quic ly with the rein. I expect I must have become unconscious. the only wonder is you are not the same. and if I did not cross now. now gliding in a smooth unbro en surface. and the roar still in my cars. for he had carried me more than once over rather bad cree s. he went in very unwillingly. I had but so much sense left as not to interfere with my horse. swung me suddenly and violently to one side. and grasped it. and then fell down. sniff at the water with nec extended. I was stunned and half-blinded by the rapid movement and ceaseless turmoil. who. the sight of the narrow channel. the wooded ban . I new Sepoy was a capital swimmer. 'Not here. croa ing li e a raven with a sore throat. the hurry and sweep of the swift. the trees on which seemed to be flying by me--these utterly confused me. was striving to ma e for the landing place I have spo en of. and I was under the water.' was Cree 's answer. I doubt if he could have stemmed the force of the boiling flood. When I got up the water seemed yet to be sweeping and eddying by me. so I was at once free from the horse. that. I caught a glimpse of two mounted figures on the opposite ban . The rush and roar of the water. but I was soon able to steady myself. for he's in the head of the big tree. rushing and tumbling along. at any rate. I could only mechanically grasp the pommel of my saddle. it was too late now. the next instant he rolled over. it was the top of one of the floodswept bushes. frantically gesticulating and waving me bac . Instinctively I struc out. It had not loo ed very inviting from the ban .But there was no time for hesitation. I was conscious. there was no chance of reaching my destination before the steamer left. Whether he could have reached it I can't say. Luc ily it wrenched apart my grasp. though never such a one as this. I scrambled somehow on to the ban . but even had I wished. We were in the current almost immediately. and a few stro es put me into safety.
almost defiant in them. reaching town a little after ten on Thursday night.' was the welcome reply. and turned in boots and all. A Tur ish bath put me to rights. for I was dead beat. but said nothing after his first few words. and I found myself sitting down trying to tal on ordinary subjects. and though she never came forward or said a word. and would not return till the afternoon. but I got a big drin of bitter beer. and we measure by some other standard than time. (There are occasions when our old enemy is nowhere. and not to be bewildered by the sudden change in the face opposite me. and I soon found myself in her presence. it was no business of his. where I got a dry suit of clothes. that I recalled afterwards with a certain annoyance. and as I improved the shining hours by falling fast asleep and remaining in that happy state of unconsciousness for a considerable time. there was something hard. and paid. or to evade the questions she would have had small scruple in putting as to why I was so eager to go on. though. Every trace of the expression that but a moment ago. scarcely that. I rode on with Cree to the station. to as when the steamer was to leave. I daresay it was not many seconds that this silent greeting lasted. but I felt dazed. He lent me a horse. I only seem to remember holding her hand in mine and seeing my own feelings reflected in that agitated face. much to my relief. for I wo e up at dawn and found myself fully dressed outside the bed. I managed. Drummond seemed to pull herself together. When I went to the hotel where the Drummonds were staying. had vanished. and I don't suppose he ever troubled himself enough about it to find any motive for my determination. had almost made me forget everything but how much I loved her. he going at my request to see if by any chance Sepoy could be saved. Drummond was in. I was able to ma e myself loo fairly presentable. She told we what I already new. and as I had a portmanteau in town. It was about time. it seemed. as the news received by the last mail did away with any necessity for again leaving England. Cree was not at home. I was told that they were absent. for the waiter seemed to thin that quite an unnecessary ceremony. fortunately quite near. for I by no means cared to face those sharp eyes of hers. but this unexpected reprieve of a day made it less hard to bear than it would otherwise have been. but. I could not doubt that I was welcome. of course. Mrs. I did get a fresh horse at the inn.) Then Mrs. It was a bitter disappointment. and told me I might ta e it on if I could not get a remount at Bishop's. but little attention to what else she . that they did not start till the next day--and in all probability would never return to the colony.and the stoc man giving me up his horse. it was not so grievous as I had at first thought. and neither in loo nor manner was she more than friendly. I daresay she spo e about other things. 'She doesn't go till Saturday morning. When I presented myself again at the hotel Mrs. and had almost to be lifted off my horse.--for go on I was determined to do. I could not eat. I don't now how I crossed the room. and the coo set me up with a cup of half-scalding coffee. as it were. Cree made some sort of remonstrance. for her eyes avoided mine. and when compelled to meet them without actual rudeness. I suppose. He gave me one queer loo as he shoo hands when we parted. and after a few hours' spell went on again. She gave a little cry as I entered unannounced.
and I had made no attempt to undeceive him.said. 'Why. but I did not see her.--saw Mrs. 'Life there has one advantage--you have no time to thin . in a tone of complete indifference and rather flippantly. But though I did not see her. perfectly delighted. Cree . I must see her again. "River up--Verner nearly lost in crossing--Horse drowned. Cree 's malicious smile as her eyes followed that loo . and so perhaps catch a glimpse of her. of course. the latter began immediately to as me the particulars of my adventure in the river. meeting Mr. as I turned away from the door. The former gave me. It did not seem as if I had gained much by my wild ride. and long before the first bell rang I was down at the steamer. at that moment as if all and everything were a matter of utter indifference. As I stood there hidden by the shadow of the gatehouse. not nowing they were about to leave. I have just got a telegram from Mr. 'What's that?' exclaimed Mr. the idea struc me to ma e one of the staring crowd about the gates that led to Paradise. and evidently spea ing aloud unconsciously. Mr. while at the same time you seem hardly to have raised your eyes.' said the stranger. and if it had I could not have given it. and at eleven they were to go.' 'H'm. Drummond. You must be uncommonly glad to return to the civilised world. Drummond and Mrs. said. feeling. and though but a little while past I had felt that the game was hardly . Here it is. indeed.' answered the voice I new so well. and that I had made the journey in the usual way and time. Drummond smiling as she went on tal ing to one of the strangers. but his wife reminded him that they were engaged to dinner at Government House. a carriage that was coming out stopped.-'Than you. Drummond as ed me to dine with them. for from what he said on seeing me first. for something seemed to cho e me.--saw Mrs. she would have shown some feeling in the matter. and did not see her again that day. for as I was mooning about that night. he sent me there with a message about a missing trun that had turned up. getting out.--'got a crumpled rose leaf somewhere. as the cab drove on. While we were tal ing some strangers came in. It was now ten. I went away soon. for him. she was in her room. 'I thin young men imagine they have as many lives as a cat. a cordial greeting. That is how it was with me then. 'What's that?' 'Hasn't he told you?' she said. Drummond dart one quic suspicious glance at his wife.' 'Yes. Good-bye! I wish you a pleasant voyage. But she did hear. he was within an ace of being drowned. Had she heard? Surely not. restless and unhappy. It was almost a pity I had not shared poor Sepoy's fate. and a gentleman. Cree . for even had she not guessed why I had thus ris ed my life. for I cannot recall the rest of our conversation. and I had to give the message by deputy. but here is my trap.' Her speech did not need any answer. I did hear her again. for after a little while she turned to me and said. I saw Mr. he had evidently thought I had come down on business. but. and soon after Mr."' Who does not now that singular sensation when you see everything at a glance. Drummond.' I should not have had courage to go to their hotel next morning without some excuse. loo ing at me in surprise. I thought bitterly.
I could not but fancy I was the subject of the conversation. to a friend. Mrs. Drummond was deadly pale. and as I was roaming restlessly about. 'you must be off. my lad.' She did not remove her hand for the few minutes before the steamer started. At last they came. possibly my own heart throbbed too violently for me to tell.' I don't thin any loo er-on would have noticed our farewell. he told me. and not in a suppressed tone. Cree . and though the phrase 'over-did it' had no meaning for me.' he said. for her husband was fully occupied with the luggage. 'Had a narrow escape. put her hand on my arm. but when it was time to go she suddenly turned to me as I stood silent by her side. At the wharf I met Hope. with a brea in her voice. 'Now. Verner. All she said was. I don't thin I ever heard her laugh so much or so unmusically. Then the warning bell rang. I too her hand and muttered some unintelligible words.' Then she wal ed away. and said.-'Ta e me on board. VICTIMS OF CIRCE Chapter I ON landing at that lonely country station on the edge of a small straggling village.' he said. Drummond came up. She greeted me with a smile. She never spo e or even loo ed at me.' Mr. but very animated.-'Robert. rather than miss that last loo . Verner. I hear. I have given Folly to Mr. One might find a worse fellow if one tried very hard. Cree . and she needed some protection against a chance push. and that the hand on my arm trembled. All her friends crowded round to bid her 'good-bye. one loo ed instinctively round after some nineteenth-century signs and . who had come down.worth the candle. Just write a line now and then to say how Powell is getting on. and could never reach a full development. I came suddenly on Mrs. I would have swum twenty flooded rivers now. She stopped abruptly as I came up. hardly addressing me. tal ing. 'Must be more careful another time. with Mrs. There was a crowd round us. that had an embryonic loo about it as if it had been prematurely born. but I fancied she drew nearer. consumed with an anxious fear that I should not have time to spea to her.' I thought the Drummonds would never come. She made no answer-never lifted her eyes.
with tingling toes. I went bac to the platform and too a glance at my luggage. Then I turned on him the virtuous but forbidding glance of a British matron. a boldfaced public-house flaunted out its sign in one's very face. yawning.--it was cold travelling. or if I must try my chance of a buggy at the pub. that had planted itself on a hilloc above the public--house. with big glazed--leather eyes. when suddenly I caught sight of the bac of a small woman. and beyond it the English church. if he is not quite rich enough. God help the Church! I loo ed up and down the station. one of the first growths in any Australian township. this is foolish. right up at the other end of the platform.--the public-house. I involuntarily clutched a Gladstone.--not an uncommon type in Australia. and the female bac shrugged and swayed in a distinctly seductive style. if any one would come to meet me. Presently it was joined by another bac . To crown all.' and I had ta en them at their word. a red Presbyterian church. with a lot in it. The two fell to tal ing with vigour. loo ing rather proud and high-stomachy. She wore a Redfern gown--I could swear to the hang of that s irt. I was not altogether easy in my mind as to its safety. and had loose lips.symptoms other than the railway line. especially if this should happen to be a feminine one. or a deal cleaner. it was quite effective. . If a rich Australian goes home and dispenses his coin as befits him. then came the school.--and wondered. we ma e a wild effort to find out what his father or his more remote ancestor was sent out for. I was outrageous! My friends had said. To the wellconstituted British mind Australia is invariably connected either with sheep or convicts. as it were. perched up on a hill--for all it was out of plumb. I always distrust that style of person. As I was counting my pac ages. the man is probably as cleanbred as ourselves. and without foundation in fact or in reason. it was so dull and ugly. and with a crac ed bell. the churches. and tal sheep. and for the minute one's heart san with a rush.--and my dress was short. I was in worse than rags--in things of two seasons ago. but it had nevertheless a smac of arrogant aristocracy about it. but I thought they would just do for the bush. it is the correct thing to dig into the fellow's past unless he does his duty by our present. 'Bring any rags you have. he was only a parson out on the prowl. right under one's nose. appeals but slightly to the modern mind. he shuffled off with surprising speed. But the second glance round the corner dispelled at once all illusions of a life fitted to the needs of a simple primitive fol li e the Arcadian. liable to come down at any minute. a big.--a sort of bac that holds one's gaze. or stic s to his gettings. broad man's bac . lower down the street was a mechanics' institute. as I noted these several outcomes of Christian culture. and there were no foot-warmers to be got. I wore a pair or snow-shoes over my boots. It was a curious and notable bac . certainly. but one can't outrage conventions. and the schools. and I had just paid a heavy duty on it. a little to the right of it. gazed down eternally on its hereditary foe out of its two badly--glazed eyes through a greenish and sic ly medium. I encountered the gaze of a large fat man in a greasy coat. As it happened. that caused it to stin in the nostrils of the dissenting population. we give him the benefit of the doubt. they were too bad for the voyage.--I new it contained a very decent nec let of sapphires. Arcadia in the flesh. Li e many customs. I thought. Somehow. Arcadia wasn't here. and ma es one turn it over in one's mind. and young--more or less. Fronting the station. pic ing up gossip. he loo ed rapacious.
and her hat was Parisian. 'I'll see the front of her. with that touch of lovely stateliness about them. Meanwhile the dimpled young person was waiting a few yards off with well-bred ease for her turn: and when I was sufficiently greeted the two girls went to her. Then their eyes fell instinctively to criticising my turn-out. serenely-contented dignity. she and her companion swung round simultaneously.' I went hirpling up towards the pair with as haughty an air as I could get up under the circumstances. in the bush. and have given my fringe a twitch. wholesome-loo ing young fellow. This loo . I to the north. a gentleman every inch of him. moreover. and why she let our acquaintance begin by it. she grasped her hand with a little deferential. I could just catch sight of two girls' heads crowed with brown deer-stal ers. I wondered if she would iss their mother. His loo of extreme youth was perhaps his most prominent characteristic. he had a general all-right air. he was just a clean. she was as remar able as that. and a middle-aged bonnet. however. with varnished boots that absolutely blazed in the sun. amused glance at me. my mother's old friend (whom I remembered quite well) and her two tall daughters were welcoming me. and I loo ed over the fence eagerly. When we had ta en each other in. and her dimples might have been filched from a baby. or perhaps had never lived. I found later. Suddenly the sound of swift-rolling wheels caught my ear. and apologising all at once. and somehow it hurt me to see Dimples bow and iss those fair young things. and we stood face to face.' I muttered. Some sudden incontrollable frea of diablerie I believe it must have been. and as I passed on I would have held up my head with an air. she was a startling revelation. Before I was half down the platform. But here. A big lumbering waggonette was thundering up the hill behind two powerful horses. . of a type that one is liable to drop on in any corner of the globe. where 'we went in our rags' (God forgive those girls!). worshipful smile and bend that must have been supremely flattering. But the woman! she loo ed artless and blooming. but there was a certain sweet mellowness in her glance. 'snow-shoes or not. in her swift. She was fresh to loo at--fresh and dainty and soft. She did it. and sent of Satan to buffet the female flesh in undress--that is-As for the man. that had no offence in it. that the girl in that young person was dead. that is peculiarly trying. Just as I had got near enough to ta e in the length and breadth of the woman. If I had met her on the Boulevards--stepping out of Debenham & Freebody's. There was this woman. but somehow I saw. comprehensive. they went to the south of the platform. especially when one has lived and also 'experienced' in one's own humble line: under that glance I might have been still loo ing out at life from over the nursery blinds. was not habitual to her. and no man living would have passed her without ma ing a détour to pass her again. and puts her at a disadvantage.It was most galling.--a certain air of 'having gone the whole round of creation' and ta en it all in. I never could find out. if ever bac of hat was. in an off--hand. or even in Fifth Avenue--I would have given her a full loo .--of a sort that always staggers another woman. who I new had always been noted for her calm. goodhumoured way.
For all practical purposes. and the fields. I felt for the first time. I was just fresh from England. the dull green-covered hills. Chapter II DIRECTLY I got inside my room I made for my dress--trun . It comes after living and suffering oneself. hale old face. and can be helpful. the divinity of my femininity. callow loo so attractive to some women of experience. were pretty. I felt much drawn to him. and his big laugh.It told certainly. they were so cold and dead and unfinished. blunted curves. however. When I was fairly in it. more then can be said for most Australian bridges. when the deep blue haze. and plunged down to the depths of it and brought out a tea-gown. and bigger powers of catching a jo e.--never to throb in their own hearts. Queer hills they were under the glamour of the sunshine and the shade. and so was the little chattering stream that bro e babbling over big stones. she. When the sun was off. The life of these hills always seemed to come from the outside. with the low blue hills in the distance--and nearer. observant glance. I must have been vastly amusing to the family circle that first day before I had found my bearings.--only for him they would have despised me.--low and broad and generous. Worth did me a good turn. and I had arrived at that stage when a woman can afford to be ind to young men. and it brought cold shivers down one's spine so much as to loo at them. Everything loo ed abundant about that house. full of mystery and delight. I had so much to tell. and his twin ling. and they certainly seemed wonderfully attached to one another. men are no more than shadows to a woman in . And the house. Mrs. or paddoc s. The boy couldn't have been a day over twenty-three. and old Colonel Carew was just the man to tell anything to. That day they were fine. and that's a peculiarity of any amount of Australian country houses. however. short. He was a Mr. and went whirling on under a bridge that had had time to grow a little lichen. humpy surges. I could hold up my head now. and big and ungrudging. Pomfret.-when one feels secure of one's own ground. that was charming. with anticipatory pity for what is before them in life.--from the sun and the shade and the air. I found. and the haze in the valleys had gone grey. as they call them here. and I put myself on my mettle to win it bac . with his fine. clear-cut. which gave them colour. We had a merry tea that brilliant spring day. and a wide stretched-out waste of orchard and itchen garden flan ed with big petosperum hedges. They were step-brother and sister. was on them. I had in a manner lost my reputation. It was one of Worth's. and as arrogant and patronising as any of my ind. since I stepped on to that solitary station. as I deserved. and were presented to me. a Miss Ariell. The next day Miss Dimples and the man arrived. that only an Australian atmosphere seems able to produce in perfectness. set on a terrace-li e hill. with great verandahs and ample flower-beds and borders. he had that slim. then those hills were lovely and bewildering. and varied the monotony of their bro en. then the same hills were hideous. all owing to a pair of snow-boots and a dippy s irt. Fleming invited her and the man straight off to tea next day. and face the world. curving half round the horizon in monotonous. The drive to the house was pretty in a way. indeed.
--in Southern France.--there was an unsound loo of age and experience in that person that belied her soft girlish exterior.-were they blue. it altered so.this phase of her life. lovely to loo at. and hearts brea . It is young and rampant and bumptious. that is quite another matter.' she said. no more did any one else. and in Italy. I fancy--it always does stagger a newcomer. Then it is inexorable. and history is made in this wonderful boundless land. I loo ed pleased--I couldn't well loo any other way--and prepared to find out her age. and we were already bons camarades. and indeed I had him deep down in a good hot discussion that had a slight flavour of ethics in it--boys li e that sort of thing--before he new what he was about. and dips about among his yellows to catch their bloomy gold. in parts of Spain. dear. cool and fresh and spar ling.--but Australian sunlight is quite original. Pomfret's place. She was sometimes sixty and sometimes sixteen. to go so far as to compel its giving out. by the way. and I'll ta e care of Mrs. and baffled me. when suddenly the stepsister swooped softly down and scattered us. That is a woman's right. a woman is so handicapped in this matter of adequate expression. and yet with a touch of the frost in it that ept it clear and clean. with the cruelty of young untried things. but it is magnificent in the pride of its youth! One wonders sometimes if it will mellow and soften as time goes on. with the sunlight embracing and glorifying all things. She had an alluringly musical voice. I felt rather bewildered that afternoon. but I have scruples. with an artless glance out of her big blue eyes. and can neither pity nor revere. she was never a girl all the same.--'they want you for tennis. Ah. that the sun and the air. and the cherry plums were budding out in dazzling white.--and the only time it nows tenderness is when it hovers on the threshold of the horizon on its road bac to the old lands. The land is so young to civilisation yet. even the ugly gums. and as I saw directly he was as wea as a reed. and she is in duty bound to collect it. So as Clive Pomfret's eyes appealed to me. and she has every right to receive as much as she can hold of the thing. Then he finds them--well--diabolical!--it is a slight term to describe the artist's sensations. it is hers by Divine right. and it is rather cruel. and holds it. and the wattle bloom shone li e yellow gold through the olive of the gums. The amazing amount of sunshine had something to do with this. and she sat down beside me in Mr. Vallings.--one of the essences essential to her well-being and development. I made up my mind to be his friend. and the wind catches the tune of human sobbing. till the enraptured wretch ta es out his s etchingpad and colour-box. .' We were on a garden-seat in the shadow of a Norfol pine watching the players. 'Clive. and she spo e with much gesture. forget how old and sad and terrible the world is. the winds and the waters. Of course one finds sunshine in other places. so young and debonair. or green? I never found out. Down in the scattered orchard the almond trees were shedding their vesture of pale pin . As for their admiration.--a much harder matter than I imagined. Indeed. It was a perfect day. or grey. and only flourishes in Australia.
and should not say it--ah.' I remar ed fran ly. he has a coerced air. Ah. he loo s as if he had just emerged from a provincial town at home. gone outside of them for any purpose whatever. they are gentle-people. and select high-class little jo es of a literary turn. 'That young man comes from a large family who live near here. a more galling way than at home. perhaps. Is nothing different? I came expecting to find simplicity and the free life of primitive times.' 'Of course you wouldn't. it really did ring true. and that young man? he doesn't loo as if a young country bred him. I even believe their dreams have an ethical basis and a theological bias. All my tal with the Carews was of the old world and old friends. and they have never. and even in that their mother has scored out pages! They wouldn't loo at French modern paintings. Vallings. They always use the best brand of words and thoughts. and they used to live in England near some very microscopical. yet so very select little town. They number about thirteen in all. I am a stranger. 'You are of the neighbourhood. and I find not a whit less convention and complexity. I felt quite convinced. they have little family ways. and they are such a devoted family.' I thought shrewdly. and therefore. This person was intelligent. 'Ah. Where did this young person get her little French turns and twists and modes of speech from. properly.' she cried. and out of a narrow circle. 'Highly as these people entertain her.' I said. I should say. do these provincial people get on here--with those delicious Carew girls. only in rather a more miniature. not one of them. 'Who is that girl there playing with your brother. you see. I li ed the laugh. the artlessness coming to the surface at a gush. in all their lives. I should li e to now? Her shrugs were got on French soil. They read nothing more modern than Thac eray in English and Racine in French. Mrs. and on principle the entire family only lives to protest against modern morals. and came home to his tea always whether he would or not. they are my dear friends! I am a wretch. but they are'-'Intolerable. she daren't let it all out.' 'How funny you should guess!' She laughed gaily. and'--she cried. for instance?' 'Ah.' 'Yes. I would never have said that. and up here the society is limited. 'Tell me of those people. in some ways.' I answered placidly. I was consumed with curiosity. I could get nothing in at all of the new. and they are just a little--ah. they are charming and so naîve! But you see they cannot naturally judge by comparison.' 'I see. in an agitated way I couldn't account . so wonderful! They have been brought up between two straight rigid lines. and quite free to spea my mind. and little family quotations. they are super-excellent.Besides being bewildered. 'She is afraid of herself. they would have no show in Melbourne. It is curious how these Australians cling to the mother-land. not any of them. But how. just li e England. I would question her. then. with a little dramatic gesture-'never sinned.' she cried.
I loo ed at her on seeing this queer squeeze. very. short. I made no reply. with a soft laugh that went well with the veiled moc ery in her eyes. I wondered what she was driving at. and the soil suits them. and will put up with quite strange things. Mrs. Now in England that never is. and in the country. 'Remar able. as pretty and statelily chic a pair as you would meet in a long day's march. who was for the moment tal ing rather absently to one of the Carew girls. Australian conventionalism. in some ways. and nothing "on. I had no notion of being claimed as a indred spirit by this piece of artless impudence. Ah. but the people here are so good--so good!' she cried. Vallings? You are not conventional. and watched the Carews in their flannel froc s and red sailor hats. But if one once gets the nac of that. I felt I was about to hear something. and her eyes had tears in them. Ah. so I waited in silence.--so long. Thin ! The country has been getting civilised now for more than a hundred years. li e a thin coat of enamel. then her gaze caught his. I found this out by noting the queer incomprehensible way she loo ed at him sometimes for seconds at a stretch. 'Upon my word. It is not so consistent. The duller the place and the people. We all now that. and as correct as my nature would allow. they loo ed so natural. to loo at. when it is dull. completely altering her voice and manner. But I loo ed quiet and dignified. 'They thin it is unbending." before this wild. Vallings. But. 'Ah. it is funny. compressible thing. it is stiffer. He never loo ed quite at his ease. wonderful season of theirs gallops in. so full-heartedly! Ah. conventions have had time to find a firm foothold. Of course. no home-grown vagary is tolerated.' I thought. as they are of foreign manufacture.' she repeated. warranted to crac nowhere. and yet ept me wondering all the time how or where she collected and . I was in no hurry. giving her hands a sort of wring. and the immaculate young man. and with a start always on his side.for.--and oh. Her gestures and changes of voice amused me and ept up my interest. neither am I. however it was produced. differs from English. and bring a new sensation. It spreads all over some people. all over the world. I wonder how she learnt the tric --it was most effective. that the English article is nothing to it. 'between step-brother and sister. that is. and from time to time his eyes strayed towards our seat and rested on Miss Ariell. as you will soon now. so to spea . and wants careful manipulation. One only needs courage to be charming.' I muttered. which with one dexterous twist gave one a distinct impression of suppressed tears. she drew those glances. so straight. and Mr. and waited. the straighter and stiffer the sense of "conduct" grows. Pomfret. or at any rate some form of moisture. I thin . the conventions grow quite complaisant. and gives to the touch li e anything. too. but I gave her her head and let her go her own gait. 'Yes. they didn't come altogether of themselves. this Australian rule of conduct. it is really only rigid in spots. there are conventions here. it is quite an elastic. But charm judiciously applied can do anything in Australia. however. so warmly.' At last she bro e the silence with a gentle soughing sort of sigh. Do you not agree with me. dear Mrs. and to be quite impervious to exceptions. 'They have ta en me into their circle. they are good!' she murmured.
planting her hand on a part of her form that I always used to consider covered the heart. for years' (the artless tap was quite turned on now)--'and then--I ran away--engaged as I was. perhaps. I am an actress. 'Ah. Ah. I have offered him his freedom. myself. I am only a poor little one. 'They are good. However. He loo ed quite a decent creature. I must have change and excitement--I could get neither in our narrow. She died--and then--I could not live then. perhaps. I went to London--away from the man I loved. they were pretty. too true. he was noble and good. Mrs. and oh. 'Mrs.' she cried (I thin she noticed an uncontrollable flash of intelligence in my eyes). and afterwards I lived for my dying sister. and yet it amused me to laugh with her. but I am not a great creature. how he loved me!' 'Some day. loo at his picture. refined circle. and no doubt she new 'But you did not brea day?' with him. He was a Captain Panton in the 7th Hussars' (she hid nothing. plump little hands.' I said calmly. the stage for them was the threshold of hell--and I was so young--so young--not so much in years. at least. 'but it doesn't stri e me that the fact of their ta ing you up is any particular proof of their goodness. I new I could act. too. extricating it from inside her dress. Vallings. 'as in experience. Fresh suspicions always ept cropping up in my mind as this woman spo e. why.' she explained. There is a great big hole just here. I was brought up with my sister in a Parisian convent school' ('Ah. this young person). 'that's where you learnt your little ways!') 'under such strict supervision. My lungs are organically wrong--yes. with a world.' 'Well?' I had recently gone through the actress craze. 'Ah. I felt it quite distinctly.nown name. but he will not ta e it from my hands. and never went out. he is too good. I am quite certain that was where the ambulance lecturer put it. I was certainly not crushed by the information. of course. surely--you will marry him one . I am sure. with nothing to distinguish him from hundreds of his ind. included. They had never grown up with her. I was quite confident. I felt she was laughing all the time in her sleeve at the whole batch of us. and had met them at every decent house.' she continued. Why shouldn't they?' She threw up her little hands. that is what the doctors say. Miss Ariell seemed quite confident as to the site of the cavity. I couldn't tell. I wondered with an inward grin if he were a stage lover.' thought I. perhaps. I felt it tingling in every vein' (she threw out her arms with a dramatic fling)--'I had to go--I was a wic ed girl. and yet I felt it borne in on me that she was not. She loo ed and spo e (bar the theatrical turn) and seemed straight. but cruel.assimilated them. who hopes and waits--waits. My people were old-fashioned. 'Ah. Vallings. You see I must not go home--I cannot stand the climate.
Yes. her expression was infantile. With these thoughts besetting me.' I said dryly. her outward appearance quite belied the possibility of anything of the ind. and you'll be quite happy again. with a small brea in her voice. and . Clive and I.' I finished laughing and loo ing at her. Society drama was her mélier.' I wondered if she acted as well on the stage as off. and loo ed again. in a pleading way.' she said. not here--in this sunlight-before these girls. She was in the very act of finishing a long and a most remar able smile at the eldest of the good young people with baggy. and the corner of her mouth gave one vicious droop. He was a nice fellow. and we never have ennui. perhaps he'll come into the property sooner than you thin . 'Mean-while.' I said cheerfully. When my health drove me off the stage. 'Certainly. I suppose we are peculiarly devoted. he came to ta e care of me. I should li e to very much. then it pulled itself together and spo e gaily.best. then he stretched himself down on the grass and began to tal .' 'Ah. My father married his mother. he must stic to his regiment--he may not come into his property for years. and no possibility. Ah.need trousers. and the young man had his bac turned to us. I loo ed at her. She got pin . you seem happy with your step-brother. he is a dear boy! We are never idle. who is certainly most devoted to you. so we are much of an age. She was a most painful stic as soon as she touched the boards. I should die of it. Just then Clive came up. so far as one could see. untouched by sorrow. I found later she didn't--not by a long chal .-'Yes. Ah. but isn't it lonely? Don't you both get very tired of it?' What possible motive could induce this young woman to live up among these hills and these dull woods with a step-brother. 'Ah. and live up there among the hills. 'Tired of it? No. sad!' She stopped to sigh and pose a little. Many things have combined to draw us close. 'And such a parting as ours! Who nows if ever we shall meet again!' 'Oh.) 'We have been brought up together. I can't now. On the whole. poor fellow. we are devoted. We have bought a little house and place. parting is sad. Was I dreaming or bewitched? I rubbed my eyes involuntarily.' 'What well-constituted minds you must have. we are such friends.' ('Good gracious!' I mentally ejaculated. but to put up with one from year's end to year's end up there in those dismal hills--gur-r!--it would be the death of me. I saw him throw one quic uneasy glance on her. I thin we are a fairly united family. You certainly are a devoted sister and brother. of doing a stro e of mischief? As to the hole in her lung. I cannot live at home. Some day I--I will tell you. 'No. 'I li e my brothers very well. We have such a community of interests and hopes. and we are more to each other than many a full brother and sister. Clive. and Everard. You will come and see us--lunch with us--with the girls on Monday?' she as ed. and your lung will heal up. and full of a soft. gentle sort of fun.
I went over to tal to the young man at whom she had smiled that long queer smile. which the young woman and Clive stood by with heroic tenderness until the end. and drin ing tea.--the pretty variety with pin spots and preternatural brilliancy of eye.--but then. and they seemed strangely occupied with his step-sister. She certainly seemed capable of being a liberal education to him or to any other man. they could get to the bottom of a thing in the most direct and rapid way. down to the minutest particular. fresh Carews. founded on a wic ed captain. floating round in a white apron. Miss Ariell was a constant contradiction. ten times the nous and grasp of that gentle mother of theirs. with their fran . honest man's love.--she made quite a telling point of this in her narration. but the surface was aggressively self-righteous and seemingly moral. As I watched his savage glances that day and her soft ones. Chapter III THE next wee we spent playing tennis at each other's houses. and a becoming shade of sadness in those baby eyes. It was quite a pleasure to thin of the round. if ever I saw the thing. and almost felt as if she would do a good wor in ta ing the young man in hand. and their curious mixture of shrewdness and innocence. and if he were worthy of one of those tall. One of them might help this fellow--wanting in grit--to his manhood. Then those two were strong--strong and true. and having little women's picnics--all the men but Clive being about their various businesses. I was thin ing vaguely on this subject--formulating a match in my idle brain--in the way of women who have done with that sort of thing for themselves. I had heard the tragedy from the first scene to the last. I felt quite a vicious sort of satisfaction.--one was forced to wonder if so much can have been very good for her. He was the sort of young man of whom one felt instinctively that a downright good slip would be the salvation. however. as we all now. They had. It was a small domestic one. My match was nipped in the bud. I caught his eyes turned on his step-sister with the pleading of love in them. I felt dazed. and I may remar I now all about it quite well. We amused ourselves quite well. I wondered what his prospects were. By this time I new all that was to be nown of her life. soft creature.--and with a porcelain basin of broth in her hand to nourish the dying sister. consumptive patients do have morbid appetites. while she never yet fathomed the ghost of a mystery without her husband's direct interference. When I loo ed down on the boy. it was love. who by the way appeared to have had a huge capacity for the liquid. sure enough. He was a good fellow when one dived down in him. and built up of a wonderful assortment of shattered hopes and blighted hearts and rapid consumption. I felt sorry to see it. and divers other signs and symptoms.without any doubt his eyes were entrancing. both of those girls. He was standing watching her with a savage eye. off-hand ways. with those dimples. .
He doggedly finished up the lacing to the top. unobtrusive virtue. however.-and I found Miss Ariell with her little arched foot poised on a stool. and Colonel Carew lacing her varnished boot. for they were given to getting red--those two. and somehow it struc me as strange. especially from the old colonel. I couldn't clatter if I tried. But when his tas was done he slipped out li e a shot. gazing out absently at the fading cherry blooms. I sat down placidly by the table and loo ed out of the window. then a whispering. Miss Ariell certainly made good times for herself. and a small bright fire burned on my big . and she always made him put on her spurs. and he chatted gaily all the time. with big leafgreen cushions.--than s to my heredity. and I always do move noiselessly. the wonderful gold tips of it gleaming and spar ling in the soft light as if jewels had got entangled in the gold. soft noc on my door. or her hand erchief. before the guilty wic ed red of the aged sinner had risen to the colonel's brow. I should have despised him to my dying day. not s ipping a hole. deprecating way--for her slippers. and went over to the garden to his wife. who was superintending the potting out of some rare plants. indeed. meaning no espionage. I opened it. and hated me a good deal more than before. why. after I went to my room. The girls snuggled down into two low bas et-chairs. She would send him on odd errands in an artless. That very evening. and got a deal more than her fair share of attention. Nothing is so effective as quiet. Two or three times. As for Miss Ariell. I had not sat for more than three minutes.We learnt to now Captain Panton quite intimately in those days. but my shoes were light. and the twin les had died in his indly eyes. with plenty of staying power in it. and if he hadn't. and found the two girls waiting in pretty soft white sil wrappers. One day I went into the dining-room softly and suddenly. and seemed inclined to sleep. the loveliest bac ground to those golden veils of theirs. she converted that fine old man into a species of domestic slave. I couldn't have said. The night was chilly. and I saw it with an inward snort. she nodded her pretty laughing head at me with the merriest air of insouciance. I heard a rustling in the passage. and he pottered about after her all the rest of that day. or any of the dainty trifles she never moved without. The woman in me rose in protest against the situation. about this time. when she rode. followed by a quic . Now this may have been infantine on the young person's part. The mention of this gentleman. seemed rather to upset Clive. but on the old man's it was undignified. I noticed the two Carews coming bac with flushed chee s from conversation with Miss Ariell. silent. and with their fair hair loose on their shoulders. or alter them whether they needed alteration or not. and winding the lace twice round the little an le.
partly. Then the amazing untidiness of their ways and their rec less boyish habit of slang. the other day. Vallings. Because she's not li e other girls.' I loo ed at the girls. that's just what we want to now!' put in Mab. and that she considered Miss Ariell I too a rapid glance at them. however. in a quic way.' said Nancy. they were scarcely of sufficient import to bring those girls into my room at that time of night.' 'I wish she had ept out of it--at least out of our corner of it. there was a loo of haughty.' echoed the other. and we all drew ourselves close to it. I put away my boo .' they both bro e out together.' said Nancy. . but as these sounds were always with them as soon as night fell. but I went over then and there and issed those girls. and her sunny head.hearth. 'The wretch!' I said. and she said she could see no harm in it. in her soft banana-fed voice. Mab had straightened red--gold in the fire-shine. contrasting with their innocent girlish vanity and perennial pleasure in dress. Nancy?' 'I told her one. watching the herself. in a voice of smothered rage. was natural and unpremeditated. 'what do you thin of Miss Ariell?' 'Yes.' I am not in the very least a maw ish woman. I wondered when the silence would be bro en by something definite. There was something very attractive in their quaint wise old ways in conjunction with those fair young faces. We just mentioned the beauty of the night in a vague way. 'So do I. and watched the girls and the fire alternately. 'She's not. turned to was thrown bac . and with a passing remar on the croa ing of the frogs and the chirping of the cric ets. that's why. It isn't that she's more original.--'they somehow ma e us feel uncomfortable. sitting up among her cushions. and one I never dreamed of meeting in this part of the world. Every turn and twist of them. pure foreheads. 'Why?' 'Why?--why?--I don't now exactly. and their sudden flashes of dignity. 'Did you tell your mother. and on both their faces hurt maidenhood. 'I thin she's a very charming person. on their white. and the queenly airs they could assume on occasions. Nancy flames. and twirling the golden tip of a great length of hair. She said she would as father.' said Nancy at last. was sitting bent forward. with the soupçon of twang. but she's different. one after the other. 'Mrs. 'It's the stories.
and runs to get her things. and leave no trace. Now. I don't thin father is the man to fathom Miss Ariell. She does. he's bewitched.' 'And religion. He told mother that she's a charming creature. and a "most desirable person for us to form our manners on. neither is Nancy--it doesn't seem to agree with us in quantities. though."' 'Ugh!' threw in Mab. Mother swallowed every word of it. we don't li e blasphemy. nows the world.' cried Nancy. but she can be terribly blasphemous to us directly mother's out of sight. 'The other day. with conviction. 'that Miss Ariell will tell you any more of these stories. but I do thin a little light religion helps a girl. As for my father. Catch him flying round li e that for us! I believe it's a little in the way she drops her eyes and softens her voice whenever he's in her neighbourhood.' chimed in Nancy. Oh. or I shouldn't. or again blaspheme in your presence. I can tell you. He fetches and carries for her as if he was a boy. And she hides things in her eyes from mother that she shows us. and yet one can't see how she gets him to do it.--'she's wonderful on that. 'and then she discourses by the hour of us--the most idiotic things you ever imagined. and helps her to eep her feet down on the earth. and how she gazes up in my mother's face as if she was a Madonna or something. mother said quite severely. and that he'd flounder about rather if he happened to plunge into it now." Now--he may. and that quite a new world has grown up since. "Your father.' I said. and--well--its downright disgusting in a woman. and I'm not fond of too much church. and mother is so true and straight herself. we now too much. it seemed better to ma e no comment. 'Haven't you noticed her little worshipful ways. and mother was vexed. and the worst is. But do you now. instead of ic ing over the traces and landing you in a hole. we don't quite now how she manages him.' she concluded. crossing her bare feet.' she explained quaintly. nodding wisely. She feared Ouida had been corrupting my mind. Vallings. after a pause.' said the girl. and wal along it squarely and fairly the path she has to go. Both the girls suddenly blushed from their chins to where the soft gold line touched the white of their brows. before I had time to put in a word. I'll go and have a tal with her'--I spo e cheerily and lightly. she says. Mrs.' said Mab. 'It ma es good seem better and evil uglier. that Mab and I thin the world father nows was dead and buried long ago. We don't. feeling the evil would slip off from these clean souls. 'It's bad form in a man. I read Two Little Wooden Shoes while I was staying at Aunt Grace's.' 'I don't thin . and incapable of any evil thought.a sincerely religious girl. my dears. I can tell you. I don't li e religion thrust down one's throat.' began Mab breathlessly. li e anything. Oh. 'she can tal religion to mother li e a boo . though.' she concluded solemnly. I heard her one day. she believes every mortal thing.' 'Miss Ariell has got our mother and father too. I didn't now. when we abused her a little. . and he approves her. and Miss Ariell cried the whole time--she can cry li e anything when she li es. 'No. Any one would have sworn we were a brace of angels. 'There's another thing I don't li e about her.
' 'Yes.--but she is so persistent. She hears things.' I said. pure. you don't now how easily that happens to women. 'My little girls. and the smo e of them smirches herself and others. the petty pride--and of the cut of my gowns. the fool!' I muttered half-aloud. breathless sort of fright. my dears. and instead of sifting out the evil and stic ing to the good. which is sure to be there too. 'and--and we do queer things at times. just for a little half-hour in the evening. That's where you have the pull over English girls. for she can't get away from it. and you may be quite sure your punishment will follow. A sudden conviction came to me. in a soft. but it ma es her own throat smart worst of all.' murmured Mab.' Nancy caught my hand and held it against her smooth.--not an evil or a befouled one. lots of things. when the heart is soft and the trappings stripped from her soul. It is possible to misinterpret some Australian girls--it has been done by wiser than Miss Ariell. Mrs. . that's what she said. An allusion an Australian girl can understand with good housewifery in her blood. or the infinite pity of it. clear flame to heaven. before these two fresh young creatures. She is probably neither worse nor better than many other women. but light--unfitting. She is only very silly.' stammered Nancy. I was thin ing of myself. and will be again.--we tried to stop her. 'I believe she thought it too. I seemed to stand at the bar there. it--well--it hurts--it does hurt frightfully. but just a woman bent on the vanities and trifles and follies of a worldly life. We tal slang." as you say. Children. If you want to punish a woman of the world. I.'We thought that too. mind you-riddling the contents of her mind.) Now. and her fires get clogged with the dust and the dirt of it till they can no longer send up a pure. and lets herself thin foolishness and spea it. and--as if it hurt you--hurt you--frightfully. from time to time.' said Mab. and had seen. shell-pin chee . as if you had learnt a great deal. to whom the taste of the tree of life was still a sweet mystery. I--I forsooth--proud of my experience for all it hurt--proud of it-oh. I felt ashamed before these girls. Miss Ariell stores up all this rubbish. 'both of you. often. you now--frightfully. and--and she said she was certain we weren't half as simple as we posed for. who new. and that we new-oh. 'I believe you now a million times more things than she does. Vallings. and your mouth--it loo s strong. as it were.--put her. (See what wonderfully good fires we get from riddled ashes. don't worry about Miss Ariell. under the straight gaze of two sweet. Your eyes loo so deep and so full of things. too--pic ing up as I went little silly flippant phrases and terms of expression--nothing of harm in them.' 'Yes. but I didn't concern myself with them. 'Loo . but these girls-a heart must be very foul or very false before it would do them this wrong. I--careless in my speech.' Nancy's eyes filled with tears. till the land and the people in it mellow. Nancy and I thin . and nows things. you do loo li e that sometimes. proud young maidens. whenever it is the lot of a woman to " now things.
When we got into the drawing-room. he pulled up and muttered something li e 'cow'--what that animal could possibly want at this hour of day I couldn't conceive.' I said. that doesn't matter a rap: she understands herself for the minute. I now she told him just how far to go.' added Nancy.' cried Mab. What a well-bred. Mrs.--a feminine hand. I can't feel a bit sorry. In future the Carew girls need fear neither stories not blasphemy. I am sleepy! Mab. and that he daren't go a foot farther for the life of him. 'Good-night--O dear. We had an understanding. however.Whether they understand the woman or whether they don't. I fancy I spo e a little faintly. One felt directly one was addressing no common flesh and blood article. 'you're so white. There was a queer little commotion as we deposited our umbrellas and a fern bas et in the passage. come on!' Little fools! I wonder if they will ever now the intensity of 'comfortable help. That afternoon we called on the Flemings. but the very best boo persons. and I gained my point. and the girls were grouped round her. Fleming had draped an old white cashmere about her. when they are as old as I am. I would have given anything if I could have carried him right away with me and saved him. that no manual wor could brown or ma e sinewy. I accepted the excuse. children. and dismissed my poor escort with a warm grasp of his long nerveless hand.' said Nancy. and yet from something that invariably brought creeps to my spine whenever I thought of it. from the girls' faces. and ' now' and have 'been hurt'--frightfully. I used the gentlest and eenest and most deadly of women's weapons. with a boo or wor on each lap. We parted friends. 'and. do you now.' their last words brought me. 'You must go to bed. that's quite sufficient.' 'We've tired you. and Clive wal ed to the foot of the hill with me. which the conclusion of this story will sufficiently elucidate. 'Sit down. Now I feel quite white--minded again. They may some day.' 'Your nowing things is such a comfortable sort of help. I came in--Nancy did too--feeling--ugh!--dirty. and was struc by the way by many curious little arrangements in her ménage. and every one loo ed big with colossal thought. however. one began oneself to experience a sensation of . how they helped me to gather up the shreds of my self-respect and to huddle my na edness up in them. and after a minute or two in that suggestive room.--from what I did not quite understand myself. Chapter IV THE next morning I made a solitary pilgrimage to Miss Ariell's eyrie. When he arrived at his limit. wea fellow he was. and was posing in the prim old lady-li e way of a past age. and be grateful they spo e them.
even in the matter of head shape they can give them points and win. as far as one could judge. the future of a nation resting so largely in its women. The next day I had to go down to town. the Flemings excelled. bumptious enough. the domestic animals. as if one were getting gradually pressed together and shut in between two cloth covers. but one feels sorry to see it all the same. be a merciful dispensation. he must have been a good fellow in spite of it all. with too much colour and light and cheap sentiment. and one wonders where all the grit. through their own greatness? It is to be hoped not. seemingly. And. the mother and that tribe of young women. he had never done any one wrongthing. of course. 'God help the whole lot together!' I mentally ejaculated. I didn't get over that visit till I had thrown myself in careless abandonment on the big white bed in my room.--seems to have been strictly virtuous. and marvellous strength and patience and self-sacrifice of the magnificent old pioneers of this nation have vanished to. to get our limbs free again. and pandered extensively to each of their several tastes. I no longer marvelled at the young men. This may. and spent some interested time loo ing round. as in all other points. from the very force and strength and vigour of them. and the courage.-'always a family name. for he supported. we all set with a simultaneous sort of relieved chuc le to running. But on these two wretched male creatures with all their natural young instincts guarded and held in chec and accounted as nought by a ind of foolish ignorant women who new not what they did. I tried to amuse myself with the people. too. and to expand again and feel human. and of its crushing. as any family-man will tell you. It was my doom to be placed between two as vapid young men as ever God put breath into. upheaving results to themselves and to their saintly relations. and just listened machine-li e to Mrs. poor souls. it was so delicious to throw off the mental and physical bandages. Ta ing them all round.' in point of family. and the adventure. Then we sat down on a stump. as it were. upon my word. the girls of Australia ma e a far finer show to the eye of a stranger than the men. They don't reappear in the sons. The eldest of them. and her two sons.--and eleven individual tastes in one family comes expensive. in one generation--fail. . It was in vain. The piece was a melodrama. who poured out upon me in a gentle stream a huge amount of information concerning boo s. Fleming. ta ing in the men and the girls and the dresses. I collapsed again directly. Directly we got out of sight of the house. but I quailed as I thought of the first outbrea of nature in the poor doc ed beings. to stay for a few days with some friends I had made on the voyage. even in his long-clothes days. Could these qualities have worn themselves threadbare. ma ing one gasping effort to shed my boo state and get bac my comfortable carnal mind. One evening we went to the theatre--to the beautiful Princess'. and aired our random thoughts with een relish. it was horrible to thin of! Between our gay bursts of laughter I could have gone the length of crying for those boys. It didn't interest me. or perhaps I wasn't in the humour to be interested--I was bored. Perhaps these young limp men. Vandeleur.cramp and half-suffocation. he and his equally excellent brother between them. and had drun deep draughts of the fragrant Indian tea the girls brought me.
with the twang rather spoiling the virility of their voices, hold more of the quality of their ancestors than their appearance would suggest; perhaps, after all, they can throw forward quite their share of strength and grit and straightness into the ages. They'll have enough to do, poor souls, with the climate, and the evils bred of it all against them, and their poc ets full of money. We had good seats, right in front of the dress circle, and could get a fair view of the whole house. In the box to my right I had noticed for some time a lovely sea-green froc , and the tip of a white shoulder that shrugged from time to time; and now and again I caught sight of the side of a man's brown head stooping towards the shoulder. When the curtain fell at the end of the first act, the light fell full on to the box, and suddenly the head belonging to the shoulder bent forward, and I saw Miss Ariell. I could not help it, I craned my nec round, li e any schoolgirl, to find out by what name the dar head called itself,--it was shades too brown for Clive,--but it had retreated into the gloom. I couldn't get a glimpse of it. 'Do you care to come out; it's melting hot? demanded one of my young men affably. The other, hoarsely muttering 'cigars,' had fled the instant the curtain began to fall, and was no doubt at that very moment absorbing some liquid or another. It is amazing how much of that sort of thing they can do in this fiery climate, and yet retain whatever reason and liver Heaven has been pleased to bestow on them. 'No--yes,' I said, rather at random. It ended in my going, and boring my young friend a good deal. I could only manage to give him and his platitudes--which, to do him justice, he produced with marvellous ease and much good nature--just an atom of ear, the remainder, with all my eyes, had their wor cut out for them in listening and loo ing for Miss Ariell and the brown head. I found them at last away in a corner, whispering. I could see the young woman distinctly, but nothing of the man but a dress coat and the flash of white linen. 'Do let us wal up and down,' I said, 'I am so tired of sitting.' The poor young man reached out his arm obediently, and we too a turn towards the brown head and the little blac one which were close together in the shade of the wall. Ah, but I saw the profile plainly-unmista eably! I too care to let no chance li eness mislead me. It was--it was Vandeleur Fleming. 'Good gracious!' I ejaculated, in a cho ed sort of way, I fancy, for my escort stopped and loo ed concernedly at me. 'Can I get you an ice or anything,--'tis a hot night for the time of year,--I'm sure you're thirsty?' 'No, I'm not,' I said, laughing; 'but I have no doubt you are. Leave me with Mr. Chaloner, and go, get an ice or--something.' I saw these two twice after that,--once at the theatre again, and once having coffee at Gunsler's. What a changed creature Vandeleur loo ed,--his own mother wouldn't have nown him in his well--cut clothes and his general man-of-the-world air,--he was no better to loo at than any ordinary decent everyday sinner. Seemingly the liberal education had set in. Now, what in the world was I to do? It was certainly not my province to drop down on the boy, and bring him nolens volens home to his mother. As to attac ing Miss Ariell on
the subject, she would have laughed in my face. And yet--and yet, though in my heart of hearts I felt there was a necessity for this experience, that from the queer conditions of his life it must come, yet my heart bled for the boy. Bubbling over with foolish, fran , fond delight, he loo ed li e a baby out on the spree,--and so inordinately vain of it too, and of himself. I would have helped him, but I had to decide to let things go; he must 'fare li e his peers,' and find the level of his strength. His false armour of sunny self-satisfied righteousness would soon enough prove its impotence and display its flaws, and presently the scales would fall from his eyes and he would see clear. As for his retribution, that was assured when his mother would get to now--she would be sure to, sooner or later, in this little place where nothing is hid. Then any nown plan of torment ever offered to the public must be a fool to the torments this boy would endure. Heaven nows he would be than ful enough at the end of it all to 'range' himself and to return to the present paths of righteousness! Ah, it was inevitable; but I felt sorry all the same, and perplexed. I went bac on Saturday, and was tired, and hardly fresh enough even to loo at the evening paper. There was no one in my compartment but a horrid old man in one corner, who snored and snuffled and thrust out a hideous puce underlip in a rhythmic regular sort of way that struc one as predictive of fits. I felt ready to cho e him. People with such habits should reserve their compartments. The man attracted me all the same, and my eyes would turn and turn again to that awful lip. I nearly prayed for some one to come in and brea the spell. When we got to a small station about five miles from Melbourne, to my delight and astonishment and surprise, who should throw open my carriage door and jump in but Vandeleur Fleming!
Then he plunged boldly into politics. I never could quite get to the bottom of Victorian politics. I hardly now, indeed, if they have a bottom. But that day I listened to them quite placidly. They relieved my young friend, and ept my eyes and thoughts off the lip. As we were within two stations of our destination, Vandeleur pulled up suddenly, dropped politics as if they had stung him, and loo ed at me with two shy pleading eyes. 'Mrs. Vallings,' he whispered, with a side-glance at the lip, 'might I as you not to mention--ahem--to my mother or--my sister and the-Carews that you saw us--Miss Ariell and myself--at the theatre? My people, you see,' he explained, with blazing chee s, 'are so very-so--out of the world, as it were, so inexperienced, you see. They might misunderstand--you now--naturally--you see--but they might-might--in fact--blame--that charming girl. She, of course, though just as good and as innocent'--
He still wore the worldly air; but he blushed furiously as he too hand, and he seemed to find a difficulty in regaining his normal colour.
'Good gracious!' I thought, 'the boy is even a bigger goose than I thought. What on earth is one to do? This alters matters.' 'But she has been differently brought up, and her stage life, you now, has--has--so to spea --enfranchised her.' That word seemed to relieve him,--it was more li e the family,--and he may have been feeling a little lost and aloof from it. 'You will comprehend me, I feel assured, Mrs. Vallings,' he went on, with a much bolder front and no stuttering. 'You now--ahem--that we MEN OF THE WORLD' (I gasped softly) 'do things every day--that-women--ahem--women such as my dear mother and sisters might misconstrue. Not--not that for a minute,' he resumed hurriedly, the hot blood rushing up again and flooding his face, 'I mean to imply that I would not as much as suffer one hair of Miss Ariell's head-Mrs. Vallings,' he cried, his voice thic with confused feeling,-'she's as safe in my hands--as--as she would be in yours,' he burst out. Then he muttered something. I thin it was, 'God be my witness.' I wish the solemnity of the thing hadn't got so mixed up with the intense funniness of it, the incongruity gave one a hysterical sort of feel. 'My dear boy,' I cried, quite on the spur of the moment,--Vandeleur Fleming was the last young man in the world one would treat boyishly, for all his foolishness,--'it is certainly no business of mine to acquaint your family or the Carews with any affair of yours'--I paused and thought a minute, he was so young, so self-assured, so superior, so supremely idiotic; he certainly was years past his puppy days and his mil teeth, but Miss Ariell was the last person in the world to train him to the new diet. She would give him a moral dyspepsia that would last him his lifetime. All the mother in me came to the rescue. I would ma e one effort; but it was an ill thing to meddle in, and I always feel I did it badly. I began lamely. 'I am years older than you, Mr. Fleming. I have been about in the world, girl and woman, this many a year. We women pic up a good deal as we go, and we have what you great, strong, nowledgeable creatureshavenot' (that fetched him), 'we have intuition or instinct, and somehow I don't thin Miss Ariell would ever quite suit you. To begin with, she's older'-'Only ten months,' he bro e in. 'I'm twenty-three, and she's a little over twenty-four.' (She was thirty-five, if she was a day.) 'Indeed, that may be in years, but you see a woman's life ma es such a difference,--experiences with us go for more than years,--and Miss Ariell has lived her life, I should thin , more than most girls; and, as you yourself said, her life has been so different from yours.' 'I said from that of my mother and of my sisters,' he remar ed, with extreme dignity, and with an expressive pull-up to his shirt collar. 'The lives of young men, Mrs. Vallings, are, I ta e it--ahem--pretty much the same all the world over. Melbourne, I assure you, is behind no city of its size in the old world.' 'Oh, indeed, I never meant to imply it was,' I said humbly. 'I only feared that perhaps a girl li e Miss Ariell, so used to the admiration
A great fat wheezy baby had bronchitis. Vallings. and we couldn't open an inch of window.' she cried. Vandeleur. the boy was so wofully in earnest. She loo ed as artless as ever. were you there too?--Oh!' Mr. If I had only nown--Mr.' he demanded sternly.' I continued boldly enough. 'how is it the very best and noblest of your sex can so misunderstand their peers--their peers?' he repeated emphatically. crossed his hands on his nees. 'Ah. I am sure.' 'Danger? What do you mean. but I qua ed inwardly. put my nowledge of the world aside.' he muttered. We were just steaming into our station.' 'No.' 'Ah. I could have issed the boy that minute. so used to constant excitement. 'And even if there were danger. and gave a start of surprise at sight of me. who was quite wide-awa e. and then he turned ridiculous all at once. and there were danger for me. 'Miss Ariell is as good a girl as ever drew breath. As I was collecting my pac ages. might hardly be the wife to ma e you happy. Mrs. I now this interference is an impertinence. Vallings.of men. 'Mrs. Chapter V . and the horses becoming restive. and ta ing us in at his leisure. waiting to receive us. God bless her!' I felt cho y. Miss Ariell came up to loo for hers. as you say. Pray excuse me. quite ignoring the man with the lip. and even my common sense. but I couldn't wait to see it out. 'but I am not by any means so assured of Miss Ariell. and glared at me.' 'It is indly meant. and if it tells her any one younger than herself is in danger. as the girls were calling. do you thin I have no religion?' He raised himself proudly on his seat.' he raised his voice and stiffened himself. I fear she may lead you to do things you will regret later. 'dear Mrs. there's no nowing the length she will go in obedience to this obstinate instinct to save him--or try to. and you thin it is. Vandeleur got scarlet. and nearly stifled. But if an intuition once gets a good hold on a woman. 'I am perfectly convinced of the purity and honesty of your intentions. even if your hints had a germ of truth in them. how did I miss seeing you? I was in that horrid ladies' carriage. and turned a suspicious glance on me. where our assembled families and friends were standing in close converse. 'most ind.' he said sorrowfully. but it is an impertinence all the same. Vallings.
no spec or tincture of sin in it either. was the growingly warm friendship between the Flemings and Miss Ariell. Vandeleur's glare soon changed to a loo of rather pathetic trustful appeal that troubled my heart sorely. with excruciatingly funny points in it. . was due solely to my restless. I would have given it. The step-brother's condition troubled me nearly as much. sudden. I pondered on these things. and held my peace. it was the strange and morbid desire for solitude the step-brother suddenly evinced. which it seems to me I did a good deal in those days. and I did not so much as try to stem its current by one thrown pebble. and those queer. and yet one couldn't move fate for him by so much as a finger's breadth. There was one other thing that astonished us. but when I got to the bottom of the hill qualms came upon me. I li ed them both in their different ways honestly and heartily. which was enough to haunt any woman with a heart in her. no human interference would alter matters one jot. whenever he came across any of his ind: I would have given a lot to help either of the two unhappy boys. driving anxiety to get to the bottom of this boy's state of mind. he himself must pull himself up. perhaps it was wise. and the wretchedly dismal appearance of Vandeleur--which became visible to the na ed eye about ten days after my return from town.WE did nothing worth spea ing of for the next few wee s. before the season when we were all to run down to town. and we just lounged along life in easy. and to possess myself of the situation by violence. Once I had brought myself to the point of deciding to beard Miss Ariell in her own den. Perhaps it was cowardly. The girls and I and Mrs. I would have given my right hand--although I have a remar ably good touch on several instruments. Carew were sitting one day on the verandah. Things had gone too far now. and I sat down to reflect. who nows? but I turned bac and too off my things again--and came down to tea. and increased daily. And so the river flowed on towards the great sea. The only thing that interested us very especially.--I thin we were a little tired of one another that afternoon. Why he should lose flesh and forget his manners was a constant worrying puzzle to me. and I thin they li ed me. and made me curse my impotence to help him. restful bliss. about a visitor in the There was nothing the least ridiculous in this boy's pain. and that she would score off me finely. The girls had a giggling fit on. It was the dull time. I always will thin that that horrid attac of neuralgia I had just then. I felt it borne in upon me with crushing conviction. and to sally forth in her direction. I went so far as to put on my best hat and my smartest jac et. and for her sa e in all women. Indeed. as any fool could see. and willingly--to have saved the youth in that boy's face. or else-(there is an awful deal of truth in it)--'Better sin the whole sin. inexplicable sweeps of pain over that debonair young face. sure that God observes. And yet it brought a lump into my throat every time I brooded over it.--that and those horrid dus y shadows under his melting innocent blue eyes.--which made matters worse. upon my word. but. and gave me many wa eful nights. and had the additional discomposing quality of mystery. that I should gain nothing by the step. It was a stupid everyday little tragedy. and the bitter gruffness of his manner.' Poor Vanny! I thin even then he was losing his fresh first lovely young faith in the woman.
He 'hanged' and 'damned' a chair or two. I must confess. as I had heard him a few evenings before confiding in a young frec led person. hang it.--he's staying at the Roc es. and rubbed his brow in a perturbed style. Henny? The tea is always excellent. But from a girl's point of view. she was tal ing of her youth in general. children. no.--when a door out of the drawing-room was flung open in rather an agitated way. from the shape of his head and other symptoms. and the colonel appeared among us. and often loo s it. puffing and very red in the face. 'did you ever suspect anything wrong with regard to Miss Ariell?' 'No. 'Run away. and 'ahemed. and the size of her waist in particular--it was less than eighteen inches with no squeezing. I believe. rather upset.' and loo ed at the girls in an unpleasant way. Mrs. that made me suspect his heat was more of the spirit than of the flesh. Carew placidly. Carew had left waists.' said Mrs. He was great at tennis--had a fine moustache--a beautiful clean pair of legs--and quite £15. 'Why didn't you send them away. especially if she feels quite young still. no doubt. and began to fan himself with a big palm fan. if all or even a part of what he says is true. Vallings wasn't half a bad sort. with large saltcellars in her nec . a young fellow who struc me as being rather on the road to hydrocephalic idiocy. He stirred about and crea ed his chair in a queer uneasy way. wondering what on earth made him so piping hot.' 'I have just been spea ing to young Swallow. I am. the day was as cool and fresh as a daisy. no reason at all you should. my dear Florence.' Now. and at last settled down in a big bas et one. 'No. Henny?' he demanded at last. moreover. it? Let's tea-time. Can't you girls go and see about have a decent cup of tea for once.000 a year in the best station property. I li e her and her step-brother particularly.neighbourhood. we've been let in. I did not. I watched him. with a sternness of proportion to the occasion. Florence.--and. standing up. and dying for tea. I was a little prejudiced. and was on the religion of her youth. My dear. Perhaps. no woman of any pretensions to attractiveness li es to hear such things said of her. 'Shall I go too?' I as ed. turning to his wife. upon my word. however.' . which appears to have been of a still better brand than the waists. Carew was not interesting either. I wonder how it is that all exhumed waists are of that slender ma e--and all due to nature.' he continued. Then he once more 'damned' softly. he had some attractions. and I--upon my word. with a cushion a shade paler red than his face. but mossy. Mrs. indeed. 'That Mrs. I laughed softly at the foolishness of men. The girls were still giggling.' He thought the girls wouldn't have a suspicion there was anything at all in the wind but tea. I believe I was yawning. distinctly mossy. Let in--in a most disgraceful and 'Isn't it quite out nuisance. That Indian coo is a and never boils the water.
sin ing down again. 'Never mind. Carew. and loo ing less li e a wild beast. this baseless theory of mine.' he replied. and intends to claim her. Carew. I did not even wonder. That arrangement was of her ma ing. and yet I could have sta ed my life the boy was as much entrapped as we were.' Mrs. indeed!' 'She may have had her full and sufficient reasons.' 'Good gracious!' said Mrs. Florence!' they cried it out at me simultaneously. Florence. A nice scandal for the girls!' 'But the step-brother?' 'My dear. called Sprague. and the idea of a man. It is ridiculous to suppose otherwise.' I explained. 'How?' The colonel lowered his voice. I now. so surely was I convinced of the innocence of Clive Pomfret. and the colonel lifted himself on his chair with both hands and surveyed me with strong dissatisfaction. 'how much will you bet?' 'My dear. 'he's no more her step-brother than I am. bringing a person of that character into my house--among my girls--why. with an air of the surest reasonableness. it's outrageous--it's damnable! Pray excuse me. It did loo worse than bad. 'That "cup" has upset me. 'She's married--married hard and fast--to a fellow. Step--brother and sister. And yet just as surely as I new and had nown all along that the woman was guilty. 'that the boy Clive is as innocent as a baby all through. I did neither. and loo ed round carefully. nevertheless I would ris ridicule and air it.' I said.' 'Good heavens. with rather a feeble grin. laughing.--one must swear.' . stamping from time to time. 'Married!--a li ely story. 'They may have been married: how was he to now of the Sprague creature?' I pleaded wea ly.' I said. as certain as I sit here. a gentleman of birth and breeding. and her hands fell limply on her lap. Why didn't they say so if they were.' murmured Mrs. one couldn't wonder at the old man's wrath. by Jove. it was a mere theory. and yet I hadn't a vestige of fact to bring in proof of it. 'I'll bet you anything you li e-though the boy may be wea --that he must have nown the position of affairs.unaccountable manner. 'I am certain.' He jumped up and wal ed furiously to and fro in front of us. Carew started and exclaimed. glancing at her with some natural scorn. an actor fellow. and he's found her out. It's too much for a man.' said the colonel. 'Loo here. I felt as if I had nown it quite well all along.
a man steeped to the nec in vice wouldn't do it. 'Good God! to thin of it. as a Christian man. who really seemed quite straight. he did it. most never be dealt with by women. with some asperity.--'being let in by a chit of a child and that woman. bubbling over with reasonable curiosity as they were. I persist. my dear. But do faces go for nothing?' 'Not a damn. It struc him that somehow I had scored off him.' remar ed Colonel Carew. These matters should their very beautiful and natural have come to me at once. Carew's eye that told me that her belief in her husband's immaculate world nowledge had . given certain circumstances. and all have been averted. On everyday matters he was all there. dear. 'It's outrageous!' 'Here are the girls.' he stammered. and we can tal it over to-night. and the conclusions I had arrived at. 'generalities are the refuge of the reasonless: where are your proofs?' 'I haven't the ghost of one.' 'Loo here. my dear.--but it isn't in him to do that. but they do.' snarled the colonel.' he muttered. my dear. 'Yes.' I wondered how. We did tal it over. You should this most deplorable scandal might injudicious. drumming on his chair elbow. to their infinite and most just disgust. 'We will have tea now. You thought so. that's enough for me. turning rather pathetically to his wife. It is beyond the bounds of possibility. and to not the slightest purpose. a man of my age and experience of the world.--he must have. it seems to me.' cried the colonel.' she said indly. Why. During the tal I got into trouble myself. Then we set to and tal ed till eleven. not to say Clive Pomfret. if it is in the remotest degree possible that a boy with that face could bring a woman in Miss Ariell's supposed relation to himself in among a lot of innocent ignorant girls. He may have lied and helped in a deception.'You have a huge opinion of your sex's rascality.' I persisted idiotically. 'and I put it to you. I was simple enough to betray my slight previous nowledge of affairs. and with no conscience: any man can be fooled.' 'Not at all. The girls were bundled off to their rooms at nine o'cloc .' 'The very wisest of you creatures are just wax in the hands of a woman with her head screwed on the right way. We've been let in--let in in a most disgraceful and scandalous fashion! And to thin of me.' 'Whether it's in him or not. loo ing up at the outraged man of the world. 'Most unwise of you. 'a nice story for the club.' whispered Mrs. with ignorance of the world. considering the circumstances. I saw a glint in Mrs. Carew. but I have the very smallest opinion of a man's sense under certain conditions. but I thought it just as well to be silent.' 'The fellow had plenty of brains.' muttered the old man. and the colonel didn't li e it--it hurt his sense of manly superiority. and he was a very fairly read fellow.--his red turning to a dangerous purple.
and I could distinguish a blac -clothed figure advancing swiftly and softly. not with the coc -sure bumptiousness of precocity. so I could afford to be magnanimous with an easy mind. and in no other land than Australia does it so completely transform the whole aspect of nature. Once or twice. and she loo ed at me out of those two untranslateable eyes of hers. I fancied I heard a light step on the verandah. when again I heard a little rustle. I listened again. I thin I was in too excited and absorbed a state concerning man and selfish natures to ta e proper notice of outer events. and grows strong and great and grand with the strength and greatness and grandeur of virility. as we were tal ing. Chapter VI WHEN I had ta en down my hair for the night. but. quic !' she whispered. she pulled down the window and drew the blind. 'Let me into your room. it drops its raw crudity of youth. or blamed them for any depth of foolishness. and I put my head out of the window to hear more distinctly. It was a perfect night. Australia simply loses its individuality under the moon's rays. I saw her pause to select it--oh. I threw up my window and loo ed out. in the dim lamp-light. the wal changed to a quic noiseless run. and the furtive tread of slippered feet. cool and crisp and silent. when life was so full and death so bitter. I was just preparing for myself a miserable and rather a maw ish quart-d'heure. When she got in. and. threw down its cloa . and the little moc ing devil in her laugh only increased her charm a thousandfold. in a whirl of passive. the cool audacity of that person! And then she bro e out in a long bubble of laughter that shoo her from head to heel with its low soft intensity. . I believe I was in love with her myself that minute.received a severe shoc . I no longer wondered at men. and I new he would hear all about it before he got a win of sleep that night. The moon does certainly now how to shine in these southern lands. silent. but it never struc me to be frightened. then she sat down in my most comfortable chair. When it saw me. I could not have got out a word for the life of me. from the size of it. so young. and it had a separate verandah of its own. she loo ed so radiant and so lovely. I had no further time for speculation. that died hard in those old days. as no one else remar ed it. I moved aside mechanically. slipping involuntarily bac to wander among the graves of old dead hopes and slain follies. with the moonlight pouring itself down in great waves of silver whiteness over mountain and plain. and displayed to my astonished sight Miss Ariell in full dinner dress. indignant amazement. in rather a half-hearted way. in a way I have had ever since the days of my childhood. concluded I must have been mista en. and changed my dress for a loose white wrapper. with a soft chuc ling laugh. and the figure stopped before my window. then she ran to the door and noiselessly turned the ey in it. As I stood loo ing out. and the tread came nearer. My room was in a bloc of bed-rooms quite isolated from the house. it raised a white warning hand--a woman's.
You never as ed me. If you new the love--and the sort of love--he made to me. it'll be the ma ing of him. and went on. I wanted to hear if in any way I could help either of these boys. I had to squash him at once. see the jo e in it all. and I can tell you an actor's life is a good sight harder than a stone-brea er's or a daily governess's. that self-satisfied. Vallings.' She laughed. 'That duffer Clarence Swallow has it all over the place. my husband. I do. that boy's the greatest fool. and mystifying the most intensely respectable and conventional audience in the whole length and breadth of the continent. from your different ma e. the fellow's as jealous as a boy. and glanced from head to foot of me. I suppose you can't.' I bro e in angrily. virtuous ninny!--I'm not a rap sorry for him. That was impossible. I came here to--night partly about the creature. rolled into one. Now this last affair was pure indness on my part. But he didn't li e it in all its points. into this little hotbed of second-hand pigmy conventions--Oh. they're too many and too complex--we were step-brother and sister. and that wonderful Fleming family'-'Yes.'Ah. oh!' she cried. very. You were the only mortal soul that suspected me. but you see he's an actor. I ever met in my life. 'You informed me you came on Mr. though I assure you I have done my duty by him. and he's not half a bad sort. I thought I'd ta e a holiday and give him one. Jo e! it was a dozen jo es. why I came. besides.' 'Jo e!' I could hardly spea for cho ing disgust. and good ones. no matter. But for reasons of my own--I won't tell you them. Poor fellow. I'm going away by the first train to-morrow with my husband--yes. and bloody ones. and its enthusiastic reception of me.' she cried softly. you don't now anything about the spirit of acting on a person! I had quite a frenzy of it on me.' 'Please continue. besides. Vallings. I now you now all about it. Ah. with much dignity. although you loo ed daggers. 'Oh. . Why? do tell me. and poor Vandeleur. 'Jo e! yes. Vandeleur's account. but there was nothing either to li e or to laugh at in the creature. Mrs. that fool! I'm sorry for the other. by the way. and I simply had to ta e care of the child. Bless you. sha ing and gurgling--'and you saw how I was treated. as if a woman won't go her own way in spite of the watching of fifty men. 'It was the hugest jo e.' I loo ed at her indignantly. and the straightest. just for mere spite. and ma es me wor . I would have given a great deal to throw her out of the window. he ma es his life a toil watching me! Isn't it idiotic? and such woful waste of time. Mrs. She gave another little laugh. playing half-a-dozen games at the same time. too. The boy's innocence--and the little coterie here. for I've been disillusioning him li e anything the last fortnight. all quite correct. and. oh. and we came up here--here. Well. honestest fool. I met Clive Pomfret on the Tasmanian boat. Loo here. But that Vanny--oh. Nothing would do him but to marry me!--marry me! Heavens!--and we went on a honeymoon. I'm married to him all right.' I said.
--and I was as innocent as these. 'Well. It is wonderful. O Lord!'--she collapsed again into a noiseless fit of mirth. He swears by you. You might meet him at the 11. When he comes bac . Van and I were to be married tomorrow at 11. My husband and I are going by the mail to-morrow at 2 P. and a new face loo ed out at me--a terrible face.30 A. Loo after him. but for her conduct towards those girls.' I tried to freeze her with a loo .' 'And Clive?' 'Oh. but where was the use? she laughed again with her soft gurgling ripple. That's the whole story. and will be. How old was I when they began their game with me? But I assure you I have an atom of heart still. I should say!' 'Have you no compunction at all. the boy must have home life and good women about him to eep him straight. youth for youth. that I was once as good and as ignorant--as ignorant.' 'Why do you choose boys to carry out your revenge on? That seems to me a poor mean game. ta ing all the spar le and colour and light and youth with it.' she laughed insolently. you may well hide your face. sardonic. Miss Ariell. considering all things. devilish mirth dropped from her. bless you!' She stood up and threw out her white rounded arms with a gesture of utter weariness. to be sure. Melbourne will be the ruin of him. As for Vanny. Vallings. Mrs. I daresay it's under his pillow.--'in some lights. and gradually such a change came over the face of the woman as I never in my wildest imaginings could have thought possible. anyway. Send him home. Vallings. I came to grief. and then men too me for a shuttle-coc . 'You appear to have ta en to him. Van. God help her! I'm sorry for Clive. no one nows how good the fellow is. 'Ah. Send him home when he is fit to go. and now my time is come.30 A. too. that's all calf-love. He'll be all right. that is. through sheer idiocy. are you altogether heartless?' She was perfectly silent for a few minutes.M. old and grey and wic ed and sad. and played their fill with me. and let him into the secret. You'll have your hands full with those two boys.' she hissed out at me--her voice had altered with her face. and I am having my revenge. I shuddered and covered my face. Mrs.--I heard them as I waited for you. I'll be on the high seas. . train. by no fault of mine. I had mapped out such a lar . 'Do you now.M. 'Oh. with the sadness of death and with the corruption of the grave on it.' 'On the principle of an eye for an eye. Well. He has the licence this minute. The mas of laughing.' she went on lazily. How providential you should turn up just in the nic of time! Quite a direct interposition. he ran up to town by the evening train on business I invented for him. woman. but I suppose a woman's heart is never illed outright. mar you--as those two yellowhaired girls over there in the house? They're giggling there this minute li e two babies.'How young you do loo . I could have pitied her.M.
Next day I went to the railway station at Spencer Street and met Vandeleur Fleming. A flash of the old moc ing malice crossed her face. Good bye!' She opened the window and crept softly out. 'Won't you try?' 'Can't be done. as she was stepping off the verandah. and good does get so intricately entangled in evil sometimes. Can't you give it a chance to spread?' 'No. of course. we'll not see one another again. There's been no special devil created for me. I see in those fair girls what I might have been. with stables at the bac where Cobb & Co. I don't. the owner had added to the building.'What devil made you tell those girls the things you did?' I demanded. 'God help you!' I cried.' I made impetuous answer. with her moc ing laugh. greatly to the annoyance of the surrounding squatters. both of them. Loo after the boys. I did my best for the boy.' 'No. Well. and who ma e up to me for many past hopes and banished illusions. then she had gone out of my sight for ever. But I'm really obliged to you for these two wet eyes. I suppose. Bah! the jo e tastes flat.'s coaches changed horses. having come out of it the richer by two steadfast friends. that I'm aware of--more's the pity! You thin me a beast. to save my life. I have been the sole gainer in the whole miscrable transaction. As for Clive. I couldn't laugh now as I did when I came into the room. and turned it into a general store and wayside public-house combined. I thin there's a little sound bit in your heart still. 'No. who have done much to bring bac the old fresh sweetness of life. as well as upon every high day and holiday. 'Than s all the same.--somehow she touched me. good-bye. But a diggings brea ing out some eight or nine miles away. it's too late. You've depressed me. . THE BUSHMAN'S REST IN the old days it had been merely a small hut. His suffering was as real and intense as if he had not had a ridiculous strain in him. whose hands made it a resort whenever they had an hour or two. he found a very complete retribution in the bosom of his righteous family.' I saw her wal away under the brilliant moonlight into a dense clump of wattle. but it was a very poor and inefficient best. As I foresaw.' she called bac . I can't. and pray God to eep them unspotted from the world. I have never been able to thin of that boy's sorrow. too late. weary loo on her face. There was a worn. 'What devil? The same old serpent. and her hands dropped listlessly.' she said suddenly--'all bad. much less spea of it.
for it was purposed that Mrs. but she don't now where to find them. before he lost his nerve.' was the reply. all felt that it was not unfounded. who often put up there for a night instead of camping out in the bush. he bought out the original proprietor. To her she wrote. De M--.--an aunt. on that very road. and in consequence they had determined to engage a house eeper to ta e her place. Burgiss should go to Sydney for medical advice and treatment directly the new house eeper arrived. She has other friends in the colony. who could be trusted to ta e entire charge during her absence. and as ed to come with them here. His wife was a barmaid in a West Maitland hotel when he met and married her. and though none could exactly define the reason of its bad reputation. as she had no friends to go to. and with his wife too possession and started the joint business. At one time he had been a driver for Cobb & Co. one of the largest owners of racehorses in the colonies. and. with the little ready-money he had managed to save. poor young thing. Burgiss was by birth a colonial. crying bitterly. she was about to leave the place to try elsewhere. she at once drove to the depot. Burgiss had a friend in Sydney.' and did a good trade with travellers and station employés. who had also been a barmaid. owing to her marriage. history sayeth not. The man who ept it was named Burgiss. a large number of immigrants having arrived only the day before. but drin . when her attention was arrested by a young woman who entered the room at the moment. and no money to spea of. she expected friends to meet her. Holland noticed that she was decidedly prepossessing. 'And when she got here. poor thing. in short. She was a tall.' He had been at one time rather a fine-loo ing young fellow. but had risen considerably in the social scale. the universal curse of these colonies. and a very popular driver too. 'Well. For a hundred miles and more the place had a notoriously bad name--every one on or off the road new it. so. and finding none who would suit in the double capacity she required of them. Holland inquired of the matron the cause. Indeed. Who his forebears had been. even to send them a letter. handsome girl to outward appearance. had overta en him and totally unfitted him for the position. Holland received her friend's letter. and. and begging her to engage and send her up a house eeper of good appearance and address--some one. Mrs.It was called 'The Bushman's Rest. Now it chanced that Mrs. Mrs. but made friends with some of the girls on the ship. telling of her illness. notwithstanding the veil she wore over her face.' . After interviewing a great number of girls. though it was hinted by more than one of his mates that Burgiss' father had been--'One of that patriot brood Who left their country for their country's good. what bushmen call a smart hand among horses. As she seemed to be in great trouble. As soon as Mrs. when a youth he had been a joc ey for Mr. but since her marriage she had fallen into ill-health. the first newspaper she saw contained a notice of the death of her aunt. She came out second-class. a Mrs. I believe. and at the time my story opens was totally incapacitated from attending to the house. Holland (wife of a solicitor).
she found herself and her modest belongings in the coach. or if she has made any yet. her eye caught the name of Marston. she had signed it. and innocent and trusting as a child's. She bought a few ca es to ta e bac with her. tired. it sounded very suitable. en route for a town with a strange outlandish name. to live three days constantly on the watch for a familiar or indly face. As there appeared no chance of finding her friends. was a very lovely English country girl. eyes dar blue. who would cherish and protect her at her journey's end.' 'I don't quite now. she explained to her what Mrs. A pound a wee . for such was her name. full charge of the house. if you can.. in fact. Nelly Dunne was not going to let herself loo bac or repine over the inevitable. and. where she at last arrived just at dar . more for the sa e of the rest than because she was hungry or thirsty. Holland was there for. However. Then to meet no one save strangers. once having determined upon accepting the situation. and before she well new what she had done. Ellen Dunne. widow of the late Rev. Mrs. then she said. for she was heartsic and weary. in short. and these the woman wrapped in a piece of an old newspaper. on the 5th inst. calling the girl over. ma'am. expecting to meet friends. so felt inclined to congratulate herself upon her good fortune in having found a home so soon. thus pledging herself to a six months' contract. Holland thought for a moment. At last she thought she must have forgotten her aunt's appearance. her aunt was . and to find only the cold vacant stare of an utter stranger. to hear a step and run to meet it hopefully. and very sad.-'At Newcastle. It was during one of these wearying wal s about the city that she entered a pastry-coo 's and as ed for a drin of mil and a bun. The preliminaries were soon arranged. So one morning very early.' She turned the paper over. aged 50 years. indly and loving.--and she read. far too beautiful and pure-minded to be homeless in such a country as this. Her complexion was beautifully fair and clear. in the vague hope of recognising the loved face among the countless thousands who passed and repassed. Mary Ellen Marston. 'Do you thin she would ta e a situation? I really thin she would just do for the place I mentioned. before the great heart of the city began to move. who new her not nor wanted her. dispirited.' the matron replied. Yes. lonely. reader. Edward Marston of Hinton. and so had perhaps missed her among the crowds that on the first day thronged the ship in search of friends. a young girl coming all the way from England alone. and an agreement drawn up.--it was her aunt's name. it would be foolish to miss so good a chance of securing a home and a living. and what she required. and nothing menial required of her. if she could be persuaded to ta e it. it was a month old.--the very thing. what her plans are. friendless. Then she sallied forth into the streets of the great strange city. poor girl. Going slowly along. and without sufficient money to eep her more than a wee or two. but you can spea to her yourself. that she wanted in her helpless position.Mrs. She was alone. her own mistress. Imagine. Holland was more than ever struc with her appearance when she raised her veil.
it was only through the courtesy of the captain that she had been allowed to stay so long. I am sure. and a feeling of utter desolation. body and spirit. I didn't now you!' It was one of the immigrants. The driver of the coach. a young girl whom Nelly had spo en to several times on the voyage. indeed. He was a widower with one child. and she began to cry wea ly.' and. when Mrs. Holland noticed and engaged her. that it had not been of . loo ed so lovely. of even only telling those she had left of her sore need of their help and pity! However. you among my fair readers who have home friends and indly voices to welcome you always. she only felt a numb despair come upon her.dead. Then there could not be two Mary Ellen Marstons. She had only just returned to the depôt from having bidden farewell to the captain and officers of the ship. Burgiss to bring the young woman along. 'Did your friends come for you yet. and. then she said.--she remembered that was the name of her uncle's parish. than God. Miss Dunne. and that one a crippled daughter sixteen years of age. slept soundly till they called her at daylight to prepare for the journey before her. She dran a cup of tea. seeing nothing. strange to say. her strength gave way. though a rough. Her story was soon told. and sympathy for all young women who travelled with him. 'No. under the advice of the matron. She did not faint or scream.' was the reply. This was Nelly Dunne's position. The girl stood for a moment thin ing. poor soul! I am sorry for you. and the glowing accounts of which had made her discontented with her humble village home?--that home which now. who had received instructions from Mr. then went to bed. 'Ah. When she found herself at the hotel. hearing nothing around her. as she pointed to the notice. and ate some bread--andbutter. however strong. does not fret long.-'Will you come along to the depôt and see the matron there. and youth. but oh. but what will you do now?' 'I don't now. such a sweet young girl.' Without more ado she turned with Alice and proceeded to the depôt. miss?' she as ed indly. so happy. whither she had been conducted by the driver of the mail-coach. she determined to ta e her chance with the other girls who were in search of wor . What would she not give for the privilege of returning to it. What was to become of her? She could not stop on board the ship much longer. and of Hinton too. till suddenly a hand grasped her arm. as she saw it in imagination.' was the hopeless answer. full of hope and love! Her affliction was all the more sad. she sat down on the small trun which contained all that was left of her worldly possessions (for she had been obliged to part with some of her things to enable her to buy a few necessaries for her journey and her new situation) and cried as though her heart was brea ing. Was this the grand free life in sunny Australia of which she had heard so much. she is a real good sort. which in the days I am writing of was an ordeal for any woman. my aunt is dead. coarse-spo en bushman. so different to her present surroundings. and maybe could thin of some way to help ye. Thin of it. had a tender heart. and. 'Why. We now the rest. she was tired. 'I have just seen her death in this piece of paper. widows of clergymen. and a voice said cheerfully. Mechanically she wal ed on. Alice.
and as she had been led to believe. a child of twelve years of age. Agnes had ever since remained an invalid. for it is the custom for people who live in the bush. 'and I guess you ain't sorry neither. as he loo ed down upon the tired face of the girl beside him from his superior . When engaging her. beauty. but nothing she had ever dreamt of approached at all near to the terrible roads and wild bush which they were passing through. is a squatter in his own opinion. and loo ed the fear she had not power to express.. even if they only possess half an acre and a couple of cows. particularly after it became nown that her destination was the notorious 'Bushman's Rest. and for her sa e her father was gentle and pitiful to all young women. so drove them. As they wound round and through the trees. or her sensitive feelings would have been shoc ed twenty times a day. was very gentle with her. and rough. or she wouldn't go there. even whispering a word or two of encouragement as he assisted her to the box-seat beside him. Holland spo e in good faith. Possibly she spo e in all sincerity. but dared not disobey. Every ten miles the weary horses were ta en out and fresh ones substituted. When Nelly came out that morning. of his run. safe and sound. and had her thigh bro en and her spine injured.' for they argued that (to use their own words) 'she couldn't be much chop. It was nine o'cloc at night when the four horses pulled up before the door of the wayside inn which was to be Nelly Dunne's home for a time.' said the driver. So it is quite li ely Mrs. and the vehicle was smashed to atoms. wind and limb. and the difficulties often to be encountered in reaching these far-off homes. but was the result of a foolish wager on the part of her father. She had heard and read many tales of station life. 'Here you are. etc. She could hardly realize that these vaguely defined trac s which the coach followed were a high road.' It was well for Nelly that she did not understand their rude jests and coarse wit. value. Bill the driver. while one horse was illed and the other had to be shot. hard-featured. she grasped Bill's arm. lurching over stony or boggy ground ali e. Holland had told her that the place she was going to was a station. Any one who owns a few head of cattle and sufficient land to run them on. All up the road the young stranger's beauty and refined appearance attracted admiration. The heart of the lonely girl grew heavier and heavier as she was borne farther and farther away from civilisation. and at each stopping-place she was beset with unwelcome attentions from the men who lounged about the bars. into what seemed to her the heart of a wilderness.long standing. could drive a pair of half-bro en horses over a certain piece of road. and when away from home will frequently enlarge upon the capabilities. etc. I need not describe the journey in detail. the result being they ran away. No doubt most of my readers at some time of their lives have ta en a journey by coach. miss?' he added indly. to spea of their place as a station. though still remaining outwardly coarse. who had sworn that she. heavy-eyed and sad-loo ing. The child was terrified. as he was called. Mrs. She was dashed against a tree.
I now all about it. and. her spirit having flown away to another scene of which this reminded her a little. 'Mrs. and general help while my missus goes down to see the doctors. I wish this was the end of my journey. The moon was at the full. loo ing strangely white in the moonlight. bless you. 'S'pose you're dead beat?' he said. But Ellen Dunne was a brave girl. interrupting her abruptly. Oh yes. and here comes the boss. Holland--she's a friend of my wife's--engaged you to be house eeper. grand scenery. you're on the right trac . She sat down on the nearest chair. 'Yes. The road along which the coach had just come continued its winding course down into the valley below. Holland. weird light.' he replied. and hung in the cloudless heavens li e a great white globe. I guess ye're a bit stiff after all the sittin'. Now then. 'There must be some mista e. she loo ed round her on a scene the beauty of which could not but stri e one so unaccustomed as she was to such wild. 'Is this the station?' she inquired simply. On all sides rose hills one above another. 'Is Mr. and white to her lips. barmaid. and wondering where the house was. I thin . miss. from whence stretched several miles of perfectly level country. then. so naturally she concluded that there must be some distance yet to go that this wayside inn was her destination never for an instant occurred to her. I'm Burgiss. or ye'll fall. 'Why. steady while yer get down. staring round her in bewilderment. Burgiss here yet to meet me?' Mrs. but when the full meaning of it all burst upon her she sat down again." miss. yes. she inquired. In the distance. when to her query her companion said with a laugh. lighting up the surrounding country with its clear. Holland had told her that she supposed they would meet her at the coach. a river was visible. while they unstrapped her box and too out sundry parcels from the coach. I was engaged in Sydney by Mrs. even the house stood upon one. indeed! it was all wrong. her position and helplessness. saying as she did so. and though her heart was so full she was afraid to trust her voice. She gathered at once the full meaning of the mista e. Burgiss touched her arm familiarly and begged her to wal inside. to the left. trembling in every limb. 'This is "The Bushman's Rest. Holland to ta e'-'It's all right. Certainly she had said no word .' All right. it's all right. conducting her to a room behind the bar. For the moment the girl stood loo ing upon it all lost in admiration at its beauty. for she recognised directly that this was a public-house before her.height. and it was with a great start she came bac to the present. So her surprise can be better imagined than described. loo ing up eagerly. She had signed an agreement to do the wor of house eeper and general help--lady-help had been the term used by Mrs. when Mr. but I suppose it is not far now?' Then. loo ing round her hurriedly. in wide-eyed astonishment. I am very tired.' She descended from the high seat.' 'You!' she exclaimed. from whence she saw the driver and two or three men drin ing. I am Miss Dunne. in her amazement she had risen from the chair.
he said coaxingly. the li e of which she would have shuddered to enter at any other time. To her dismay. but would li e to go to bed if she might. for that it was disreputable none new better than the master thereof.' was the reply from Burgiss. but still deep down in his heart there was a soft spot which was very rarely touched. and she found herself in the most squalid. swallowing down her tears and disappointment. where half-a-dozen low-loo ing men--some of them half--tipsy--were smo ing. through which she could see either untidy beds. it was so utterly blan and frightened. What was she to do? Hastily viewing her position. in the wild bush. at a low public-house. poverty-struc apartment it had ever been her lot to enter.' he continued. gently now.' her companion remar ed. which could not but be noticed by the man. Yet here she was. she had been brought up with a holy horror of public-house bars. 'she's had a real bad day. So. who had been standing at the door apparently gazing out into the night. come now. without money or friends. and chairs with elaborate crochet antimacassars over their bac s. and more than all of barmaids. which was the only seat in the room. but yer won't need to be in it 'cept of nights. saying she required nothing to eat. which did duty in the double capacity of dressing--table and wash-hand stand. as he set the dirty candlestic he carried down on a pac ing-case. she determined that her only course was to put a good face on the matter. mean and grasping by nature. then up a flight of ladder-li e steps. old lady. cheer up a bit. Gently now. and laughing loudly round the stables. and ain't up to tal ing tonight. and whether she would be able to ma e any one hear her in the night should she need help. a blac guard. Burgiss was not un ind. And Nelly felt her blood run cold at the mere idea. it's a bit rough.about a bar. or else tables with gaudy cloths upon them. she begged to be shown to her room. and when he returned she had revived somewhat. Burgiss laid her flat upon the floor. but in reality watching Nelly. and the next moment she had fainted dead away. On either side were rooms. and bide her time. 'Oh yes. 'Come. The weary girl followed. till she could see a way out of her difficulties. he was a rough.' He led the way along a dirty passage which smelt strongly of stale liquor. crying bitterly. for. and don't go to spoil those pretty eyes. The life he led tended to ma e him what he was (excuse the word). or about her having to wait behind a bar. and very much as if he were addressing a favourite mare. they crossed a sort of yard. and with which she would have to become acquainted as barmaid and waitress. and was sitting up leaning against the wall. li e most girls in her position. wondering whether her room was quite away from the rest of the rooms. what's to pipe yer eye about?' . the best thing you can do. and hastened away for some water and a glass of wine. the miserable young girl san down upon a gin case. tal ing. With a loo of real dismay. but which now made him pity this young creature so strangely brought into his disreputable home. He was gone some minutes. coarse man. these were the rooms--parlours. Kneeling down beside poor Nelly. 'This is your camp. 'You needn't see the missus tonight. and drin and his associates had not lessened those qualities. No whit alarmed. Nelly supposed--wherein the men dran .
quite forgetful of her new position as servant to this man. she spied a tan close to the main building. had she seen so poverty-struc and unwholesome an apartment. which made a peculiar crac ling sound when she pressed it. 'I am better now. a piece of rag stopping up a good--sized hole in the bottom. then sprang away down the ladder at two bounds. On the contary. There was no jug. when she almost ran into a young girl carrying an armful . After a while she dried her tears and rose from her lowly seat on the floor. 'They ain't real dirty. There was no cover on this box. lea ed wofully in spite of the rag plug). Ta ing the basin. mentally voting the new girl a stunner. but I was helping Bill to put the hosses in. With the gin case on which she had sat down. she had not had a wash for nearly twenty-four hours. The mosquito nets. This too. and before ta ing the offered hand. and to this she at once turned her steps. and could not go to rest without getting rid of the grime and dust of her long journey. no doubt. Was it any wonder that the lonely girl felt utterly and supremely wretched? for. if the truth were nown.' wondering whether she would be expected to use it upon all occasions.' then. as he returned her good--night. 'I will go to bed now. Never. she descended to the yard. and was on her way bac to her room. than you. Than you for being so ind to me just now. upon examination. evidently past mending even. But evidently Burgiss saw nothing extraordinary in the offer of her hand. no receptacle for water at all. sir. which in reality. this concludes the inventory of her bedroom furniture. and on it a tin basin li e those usually used in bush itchens for setting the bread in. were on their last legs. I shall feel better. as was apparent from the quantity of sperm dropped all over it and on to the floor beside it too. particularly the squalid bac premises. with its array of half-ruined outhouses and dirty pig-sties. saying apologetically. ta ing it very gingerly. nor was there any on the pac ing-case either. as also had been the mattress. it was very stupid of me to faint. There was no water in the room. The moon was shining brightly as day. After a few seconds spent in peering here and there in search of a pump or tap. even in the poorest cottage home in her father's parish. loo ed too white and pretty to be grasped off-hand.Had poor Nelly not been in such dire trouble and distress. Left alone. saying as cheerfully as she could under the wretched circumstances. was a rough stretcher evidently made on the place. she found to be in a dilapidated state. at any rate she must try. she held out her hand to bid him goodnight. or what did duty for such.' and. I don't now what came over me. Beside the bed a box stood on its end. and she wondered if it would be possible to find any if she went down into the yard. it had been as comfortable and pretty as clever. having at one time done duty as stand for a candle. The bedstead. he seemed pleased.' She hesitated slightly over the word 'sir. for lac of any other receptacle that would hold water. filled her basin (which. for Burgiss had possessed himself of one of her hands. he rubbed his own horny palm down the side of his trousers. In one corner was the pac ing-case already alluded to. the occupants of which greeted her approach by a series of grunts and snorts. besides being filthily dirty. which hung above from a nail in one of the rafters. lighting up every part of the establishment distinctly. loving hands and moderate means could ma e it. as if fearful of hurting her. Nelly Dunne gazed round her in dismay at the appointments of this her future apartment. yer now. she must have laughed at this strange address and manner of consolation. and was stro ing and fondling it in an absurdly comical manner. and in the morning. he shoo it stiffly and aw wardly. though never accustomed to luxury in her English home. by the way.
carelessly bidding his companion good-night. Paul? Bad news. After washing her face. leaving Nelly. she at last found. buc ets. until a muttered oath escaped.' But the other girl made no reply whatever. intent upon their separate correspondence. and exclaim. for sheets. however. 'There's some down in the wash-'us. For a while the other read on. he had mastered the contents of those delicate pin sheets at the first reading. and. as. and read on. and one could. eh?' But. said civilly. he returned to his paper. and Nelly. pointing carelessly over her shoulder to indicate the direction of the said 'wash-'us. After about the twentieth reading.' on a station which I will call Morven Plains. ma ing them crac le and rustle in a manner truly irritating to himself as well as to his silent cousin. nec .' was the ungracious reply. till all were impressed upon his brain li e a well-learned lesson. in the silence of the night. with a smile. which he turned and twisted at intervals. if possible. receiving no reply. Herbert and Paul Wright.' the girl disappeared. after a long hunt among tubs. And there. which every now and again he crushed convulsively in his hand as if he would read no further. apparently.of dry clothes. evidently just from the drying ground. and erosine tins. and as ed for a bit of soap. Another and very different scene was being enacted this same evening. much after the manner of a wild beast confined in an iron-barred cage. then the next minute smoothed out again. and drying them on her poc et hand erchief. and was engaged upon the English papers. reading every word deliberately and carefully. The mail-bag had not long arrived. had finished reading them. Having to . pleased to see one of her own sex. From end to end of the long bush room he wal ed. a few miles from 'The Bushman's Rest. she cried herself to sleep. which. The two met in the middle of the yard. whose letters had not been very numerous or voluminous. Paul Wright held before him a closely-written letter. but yet he returned to them again and again. and in the comfortable bush room two young men were seated on either side of the table. wondering whether she would ever be able to live through the time she had engaged for. They were cousins. left the room. from which he roused himself only to pace restlessly up and down the room. she made some other trifling remar . She set her basin of water down while she went in search of the soap. with very little imagination. fancy him a wild beast labouring under suppressed though impotent fury. were considered unnecessary luxuries. All this was unnoticed by his cousin. their names. Herbert. only staring insolently at her. too.-'Halloo! what's up. more disheartened than before. and arms as best she could in the small quantity of water she had managed to get as far as her room. he crushed the letter in his hand and sat buried in thought for more than an hour. and after a short time rose. Nothing daunted. for towels were evidently an unthought-of item in the appointment of her chamber.-'Good evening!' then. and made him loo up quic ly from his paper. she undressed wearily and crept into her comfortless blan ets. 'You see I am ma ing myself at home--there was no water in my room. and joint-owners of the station.
I am. You may not be able to come home for years. or indeed even to thin of it. Sir Philip Wright. As he did so. I give you bac your freedom. I should have told you before this. for the words I am forced to write you to-day will.--your losses at one time heavy. we must part. And. only daughter of the late Sir Astley Havers. and my mother will never consent to my going out to you unmarried.. whatever happens). It ran as follows:-'KELLMINGTON. and perhaps you will blame me.--Now. he once more threw himself into his chair. the post-mar of which was dated the 10th June. With an unnatural laugh that rang through the room. and still with fondest love. and also be a cruel disappointment. Dear Paul. Derbyshire. and always will be. 'MY DEAR PAUL. Paul dear. and lastly to myself. at St. Then she had only written to brea with him the day before she wedded his cousin. and I fear that uncle will insist on my answer to him being a favourable one. my darling (for such you must ever be to me. and I hardly now how to enter upon it. and once more he unfolded the letter and loo ed for the date. and we meet him out a great deal more often than of old. come upon you with a great shoc . Paul darling.-You told me in your last two letters that you had had some spells of ill-luc since you bought into the station. So. You now where my heart is. by the Rev. then unfolding another sheet of paper. he turned and began to pace up and down.--He has as ed me to be his wife. though it brea s my heart to write it. and which read as follows:-'On the 11th inst. loo ing our position in the face. and after mature deliberation I have come to the conclusion that I would be acting most selfishly and against your best interests.a certain extent wal ed down the evil spirit that possessed him. a thought seemed to stri e him. Lu e's. My mother and Uncle Dic both claim my obedience. believe me I am acting more for your good than my own. Do not thin too hardly of me. you now I am not a free agent. I set you at liberty to choose another for the wife you need to help you to bear your troubles. try and forgive me if you can. only one day earlier than the advertisement he had just read. and niece of Mar Hanbury of the Priory.--and that you feared I would have to rough it if I were to come out to you in the present state of affairs. MAUD. that the seasons had been against you. and with a smile he turned to the envelope. I fear. and who owns it. yours at heart. to you. he read a printed advertisement which was pasted on to the middle of it. Samuel Bryce. but I trust you will always believe that I have acted for the best. and began another perusal of its disturbing contents. and with a strict sense of the duty I owe to my mother. . SOUTH WALES. the latter constantly tells me I must marry money for all our sa es. but it bore none. if I ept you to this engagement any longer. He read it over and over again as if he would fix it on the tablets of his memory. I now.' With a curse he folded the letter up and put it into the envelope. Your cousin is constantly here. his thoughts finding vent now and then in muttered words and ejaculations. only son of the late Algernon Wright of Mallons Par and the Old Hills. present and future. smoothed out the crumpled letter. I have thought it all over calmly and dispassionately. to Maud Derrington. or even call me hard names. Kellmington.--A painful duty is left me.
doomed to live the life of a dog in this God-forsa en country. than that of a strong man tempted by his besetting sin vainly struggling to get the better of the devil that possesses him! And saddest of all is the sight when that devil is drin . Good God! is there one woman in all the wide world capable of an honest attachment? And Philip's got her. as sure as there's a God in heaven. Money. Yes. Oh. And Maud's son. I could hardly wish her a worse fate than tied to my polished sensualist cousin. And I am a beggar. my own cousin. Maud. an heir. where stood a poc et-flas of brandy. each time he neared the glass loo ing eagerly. stretched out his hand. the false--hearted jade. what matter now how soon I go to the devil?' Thus apostrophising the picture. money!--woman's God. Oh for some indly hand to ta e that glass away. and raised it to his mouth. where stood a handsome cabinet photo of his old love. What sadder sight can be seen or imagined. then too another turn or two up and down the room. and the only man I ever hated. we'll drin to the dissolution. I've ept straight seven long years for her sa e. just because he has money that should by right be mine. he turned towards the sideboard. hesitating on the brin of temptation. and she will. From the sideboard he glanced towards the mantelpiece. you could have made a good man of me. I'd li e a taste of the old madness. But ere the spirit touched his lips. thus giving vent to the thoughts that filled his angry mind.'Ten blessed years of my life wasted on a woman--and such a woman! And now I'm thrown over for a puppy. Philip. madam. 'Seven years since I made a beast of myself. wal ing to and fro. will stand between me and my birthright. he put it down and shuddered violently. saying. if she have one. he said. and presently through the fingers of the hand with which he had covered his eyes the tears tric led slowly. He'll begin by neglecting her after the novelty of ownership has worn off. that is all he wants. 'Why should I not have a taste of the stuff? Just a glass to put heart into me--I needn't get drun . as with moc politeness he bowed to the senseless photograph. almost greedily towards it. I've nearly forgotten what it's li e. Damn her--yes--damn her--damn him--and damn them both!' For hours he remained alone in the room. and strode towards the bottle. added a slight modicum of water from the filter close by. you were such a bonny darling. till the chill breeze. if she's the woman I ta e her for. your influence is at an end.' he muttered. with his refined vices and his low estimate of the sex! Well. opened that evening to give a glass to the mail-boy when he brought the letters. Oh. And even if I do. 'to drin damnation to her and him?' For a few seconds he stood.' he murmured. and serve her right. The effect was instantaneous: he bro e into a mirthless laugh. every man gets drun once in a way. and as if reasoning with himself. it can't be true. he poured out half a tumbler of the spirit. some womanly influence to save him from himself! He paused before the tumbler. but now'--He leaned heavily against the sideboard. 'What a fool I am. as though the smell of the liquor turned him sic . when the night and morning met. and it seemed as if his good angel would win the battle. li ely as not a nip . blew in through the open window and caused him to shiver. Maud. and then drew it bac . Pausing in the centre of the room for a moment. and you were mine! You did love me. In a few moments he regained the mastery of his feelings. Maud. 'Yes. I can see her future as plainly as though it were written before me. then possibly he'll ill-use her--he's quite capable of it. Maud. I will. I hope she'll grow to hate him. 'Shall I have a taste of the old stuff.' he whispered half-aloud. or else you lied damnably. I must be terribly out of gear. while his chest heaved with the sobs he at last gave way to. 'to be so upset because a woman has thrown me over for another fellow.
his steps mechanically too him in the direction of the flas . 'Shall I go and see? Yes. the demon of unrest possessed him. returning in a . The restlessness. The effect was magical. seizing the glass. and. 'I may as well finish the bottle now I've gone so far. A fourth glass followed that. Without moving from the table.' and. and Paul Wright new it. I can't stop here doing nothing. Very soon he began to nod.' He stood in the middle of the room. ornaments. diluted it slightly. fearing to give way--fearing to ac nowledge to himself that the old man was upon him with all the intensity of a long drouth. so here goes. as if guided by a will stronger than his own. as if he were fearful of changing his mind again." there may be a choice spirit or two there to cheer my loneliness. repeating the words as he paced to and fro. and dran it greedily. and was about to pour out the spirit--'No. at the same time he had been mentally pushing it away from him. all meant the same thing. still debating with himself as to whether to go or not.' he said. approaching the window. his devil had got the upper hand. the pretence of occupying himself with Maud's letter. on the steps he paused. and the whole time he was using his utmost strength of will to overcome the craving. he had been craving for another. in fact. holding it up to the light. his attention arrested by the peculiar cry of a passing night-bird. but. then another--in short. the moonlight glinting upon the glass. He pic ed it up and wal ed slowly bac to the house. 'I wonder did it brea ?' he muttered. and then threw himself into the only easy-chair the room contained. he drained the contents at a draught. He could see it lying upon a tussoc of grass.' This he poured out quic ly.' he said. everything. flung it out far into the garden. and peered up among the branches. He wal ed to the tree on which it had lighted. Then the impulse seized him to learn it by heart. 'I've a great mind to go over to the "Bushman's. When he had mastered it. and dran without a drop of water. he too up the lamp and deliberately proceeded to the storeroom. He had ceased to struggle (mentally) with himself. he laughed as he sauntered from one part of the room to another. that was there and caught his eye. It fell with a thud. Then he wal ed to the window.will do me all the good in the world. that's certain. pictures.' He went out through the French-light on to the verandah. He seemed unable to eep still. he tore the letter into pieces and threw them savagely into the fireplace. behaved li e one labouring under some powerful influence or excitement.' Ever since the first glass of spirits had made the blood course through his veins. Without waiting now. Up the steps and along to the French-light he went. and drew aside the blind to loo out over the moonlit plains. and could repeat it word for word. Once more he too out the all-important letter and read it through. he poured out a small quantity. if I leave it there Jac y will get hold of it--better see and brea it. and dran off the draught as before. too up the glass. As he turned. I won't. just as the bird rose again and flew away into the night. but did not brea . perhaps another nip may decide the question. nor paused till he stood beside the table and held the tumbler in his hand. the spirit acted almost at once. 'didn't sound as if it did. threw himself first into one chair. 'there's barely another nip. he now poured out nearly another glass of brandy. and set the bottle down. He sang snatches of song. 'What a glorious night for a ride across country. Then with a sudden impulse he too it up. In less than ten minutes he was a different man. and he turned irresolutely from the window. examining boo s. He wal ed to the table and laid his hand upon the bottle. added a little water.' he muttered. laughing loudly at certain passages. Virtually he was vanquished. anyway I must have something to steady my nerves. rousing himself.
few minutes with a fresh bottle, intending to leave it unopened on the sideboard. But the evil spirit within him was not satisfied even yet; and Paul Wright, having given way so far, was no more capable of holding bac , or of saying, 'Hold, enough!' until that devil was appeased, any more than he could have arrested a fall in mid-air. He drew the cor clumsily, being very unsteady by now, though not yet actually incapable, then poured out half a glass, and dran it. By the time he had had two or three more small glasses, the fiend was satisfied, and he was quite drun , could barely stand,--a fact that seemed to amuse him. 'I'm drun again,' he said. 'Richard's himself again!--drun , drun ; it's fine to feel drun . I'd forgotten what it was li e; I'll get drun for a wee , 'stonish old Herbie; what a jo e!' and with the last words he fell in a heap upon the rug before the fireplace, and lay in a drun en stupor till Herbert, coming in at daylight to see the time, stumbled over his prostrate body. 'Good God! he's bro en out again. What can have set him off?' was the exclamation that bro e from him, as, glancing round, he noted the flas and bottle, one empty, the other nearly three-parts full. Without calling assistance, he shoo up the senseless man and managed to get him to his bed. Then, loc ing up the remainder of the drin , he put the ey into his poc et, and went out to his morning wor , feeling very low-spirited at the turn things had ta en. Though Herbert Wright had never before seen his cousin in a state of intoxication, he had frequently heard of his excesses when a younger man; and Paul had himself told the story of his giving it up for the sa e of the girl he had loved ever since she was fourteen. He had drun so heavily while at college, that finally he had been rusticated by the authorities. It had prevented his entering the Church, or indeed any other profession; and when his friends could do no more for him at home, for he dran himself out of every situation they put him into, they seized upon the fatal expedient of sending him to the colonies, there to recover from his besetting sin, or else to lose himself in a country where he would not be a constant eyesore and heartache to every one belonging to him. When parents or guardians send a young man cursed with the craving for drin to the colonies to reclaim himself, they literally and metaphorically present him to the seven other devils of whom we read in Scripture, who were supposed to be worse than the sinner himself. In short, they simply throw him away to go his own road without let or hindrance. A young man who comes to the colonies having the besetting sin of intemperance inherent in his blood, is as helpless and as sure to come to grief as a walnut-shell set afloat on the Pacific Ocean. For three years after his arrival in the colonies Paul Wright went steadily down the social ladder. Then an uncle died and left him a few thousands, which necessitated his ta ing a trip home. It may seem well-nigh incredible that a man of twenty-seven should fall in love with a child of fourteen, but stranger than that has happened, and is happening every day we live. Paul had met and loved Maud Hilton when she was in the schoolroom. When he returned to England, Maud was on the point of coming out, and
did come out too. They were thrown together in a country house for a fortnight (during one of Paul's rare turns of cessation from drin ), and at the end of that time Paul proposed and was accepted by the young lady, but scornfully rejected by her parent and guardian,--a matter that gave Paul very little anxiety when he new that Maud loved him, and was prepared to wait till he had proved himself worthy and able to eep a wife. After a year at home he returned to the colonies, bringing his cousin Herbert; and the young men bought Morven Plains with the few thousands they had. From the day of his engagement Paul was a different man, and gave up drin entirely; not even would he touch a glass of wine, nowing the fatal disease that he had within him. Seven years had passed since then. Several times he had begged Maud to come out and marry him; and doubtless she would have done so but for her mother, who was an invalid now, and was as greatly averse to her daughter's marriage with Paul as ever. Paul had determined to go home for her at the end of the year, in spite of bad times; and no doubt it was the nowledge of this determination that led to her writing the letter we have seen, and which had such terrible results. As Herbert Wright rode about that day, he constantly wondered what could have caused this outbrea in his cousin after all these years. 'Can Maud have played him false?' he wondered; and wondering thus the one cousin rode about in the fresh bright day, while the other lay in a drun en sleep on his bed alone. A wee had passed since the new house eeper had begun to reign at 'The Bushman's Rest,' and already her presence was beginning to effect a change in the whole house. Rooms that had seldom, if ever, been cleaned before, were turned out, scrubbed, brushed, and put in order. The meals presented a different appearance,--were no longer flung on the dirty tablecloth, and flung off again. Now, though coarse, the table-linen was spotless, and the plates and dishes no longer greasy; flowers were to be seen in the vases that stood on the mantels, the windows were clean; and, in short, a wonderful change had come over the house, owing to the presence of the young girl who had so strangely come there. Nelly was not afraid of wor , in it she found the only distraction from miserable thoughts; so, with the help of the one other woman on the place, the girl she met the night of her arrival, and who had proved to be a young halfcaste who had ta en refuge there from the persecutions of her tribe, she wor ed from early morning till late at night, winning golden opinions from her master. There was only one thing Nelly had stipulated for, which was to be exempt from waiting upon the bar or parlours attached to it. Before Mrs. Burgiss left (which she did the day after Nelly's arrival), the girl had won a promise from her that she was not to be as ed to serve drin s to the men either behind the bar or in the rooms. And Mrs. Burgiss had consented to her request in an off-hand manner, merely saying contemptuously, 'Oh, you'll get over that nonsense by and by; better than you have had to do it before now.' The day after her arrival, during the afternoon, Paul Wright had ridden up to the house, dismounted, and had given orders to the boy
who too his horse from him, to turn it into the paddoc , and, to the great surprise of the whole household, he had remained there ever since drin ing heavily. It was very seldom that either of the Wrights passed an hour at the 'Bushman's,' unless it was with the object of catching the coach on its way down country. For this purpose they had once or twice ordered a room for a few hours. But Burgiss new that they were among his most bitter opponents, on account of being constant sufferers through the proximity of his house to their shearing shed, which the men often left on Saturday evening, to return heavy-eyed and incapable on Monday. Hence his surprise at Paul's strange proceedings. At first he was inclined to thin some ruse was intended to bring about the loss of his licence. But when he found that he only stayed there to drin and sleep, and sleep and drin again, he determined to encourage so good a customer, and laid himself out to do so. When Paul wa ened from the drun en stupor into which he had fallen after being placed on his bed by his cousin, it was nearly two o'cloc . Herbert had not returned from his ride, and there was not a drop of spirit of any ind available; for, as we now, he had ta en the precaution to poc et the ey of the storeroom when he put away the remainder of the whis y. Paul wo e with a burning thirst upon him, and an irresistible craving for more drin . He was li e a madman; all efforts to fight against his craving had now left him, and his one thought--the one idea that now possessed his brain--was to get more drin . The old house eeper made and brought him a cup of tea, and with tears in her eyes begged him to drin it; but he turned from it roughly and rudely, and demanded the ey of the storeroom. 'Mr. Herbert has ta en it, I thin , sir,' was the reply. 'Then tell Jac y to run up my horse and saddle him at once,' was the next order; and in less than half-an-hour she saw him stagger from the house, and, after several ineffectual attempts to mount, he finally scrambled into the saddle, and, to the horror and terror of his faithful old servant, galloped away through the bush. 'Follow him, Jac y,' she said to the blac boy, 'and see that he don't come to any harm.' Jac y did as he was instructed, not returning to the station till late in the evening, when he informed the anxious household of their master's whereabouts. The next day Herbert rode over and endeavoured to remonstrate with his cousin, and begged of him to return home; but to no purpose. He either could not, or would not, be stopped in his mad course now; and very sorrowfully Herbert Wright rode home again, leaving him to his fate. For the first two days he merely sat in one of the parlours by himself, calling for drin after drin , until, completely overcome, he san into stupor, and so was conveyed to bed by Burgiss and one of his men. After a while he became violent, occasionally brea ing and destroying glasses, decanters, anything, in fact, that came in his way while drun . Though never before brought in immediate contact with drun enness, Nelly had heard and read a good deal about it and its fatal effects; so it was with very great sorrow that she observed the hold it had ta en of this fine young fellow. Instinct told her he was worthy of a
though she had not been yet a month there. He was seldom sober for more than an hour or so at a time. even had she not discovered the fact for herself from his manner and address when sober. Wright. and still Paul remained at 'The Bushman's Rest' drin ing. and whenever circumstances threw her in his way. expectorating freely first. and the odour of strong tobacco was borne to her on the night air. for complications in her position were beginning to distress and alarm her. and therefore she all the more deplored his terrible conduct and dreadful language when under the influence of drin . "You'd best let some one eep it for yer. Day after day passed. The poor girl was utterly miserable. her heart was beating so loudly that she feared its being heard. and made her long the more for the months to slip by till she could be free to leave. 'What's yer dodge?' as ed the man who had not yet spo en. it don't pay. tried to say a word or two of warning to him. items charged for that never were ordered. she pitied him from the bottom of her tender womanly heart." But the other chap only laughed.--these sort of doings soon opened Nelly's eyes to the ind of house 'The Bushman's Rest' was. and it was not the first time such a thing had occurred. 'I've got a plan cut and dried. during which she could gather that one of the men. and the iniquitous charges made for a few nights' lodging. It was quite dar . she heard the match struc . and overshadowed by a thic vine of creepers which shut in the whole end of the verandah. she new it was so. Mr. were filling their pipes. and come bac in half-an- . it seemed as if he could not eep from the drin long enough to put the craving from him. One evening. She had felt drawn to Paul Wright from the first. I've a bottle of sleeping stuff. After a few minutes. She had very soon learnt the nature of much of the business done in the house. there being no moon. Nelly had wandered out to thin . when he had been about ten days at the house.better fate. That he was a gentleman she had heard from those in the house. and the hour was late. becoming more imbecile and sottish every hour. 'I don't care about too much violence. why shouldn't you and me have our whac at him? I tell ye he's got better nor seventy notes on him. on account of a fancied resemblance he bore to an old friend in England whose brother had married her only sister. perhaps both. I 'eard Bill say. there's Burgiss lambing him down fine. ye'll be losing it when ye're a bit on. Though she had not actually seen it done.' 'Whose agoin' to use violence?' said the first spea er. she was standing leaning over the low paling fence which enclosed one side of the vegetable garden. Seeing him day by day falling lower and lower.' Nelly listened breathlessly for the continuation of the conversation. the conversation was resumed. she was at the very corner. it's easy to drop a few drops of that into his grog. that she did not hear footsteps on the verandah immediately above her till her attention was arrested by the following words:-'You're too blooming soft. and so deeply engrossed with her own thoughts. That very day she had been grossly insulted by a teamster who was camped within a short distance of the house. And by the same to en. and said something 'bout the best man could eep it. Her attention had been drawn to several cases of what she called dishonesty--such as cheques abstracted from the poc ets and swags of sleeping men. This very evening I seen Bill the driver hand 'em over when he came. even while ye're a-tal ing to him. After a few preliminary puffs.
in case o' accidents. for she reasoned. for the purpose of seeing where the conspirators were. He stood close behind Paul's chair. She could almost count the drops as they fell into it. a young fellow who had arrived to join him in the down coach the day before.' was the reply. as if both men were considering the matter. but not till Nelly had gathered their full meaning. almost too terrified to carry out her design. what does he now of me or my history? Two days before. that her starving heart grasped at ever so small a indness. and the pipe fell from his lips on to his lap. the s y being covered with dar clouds. confirmed drun ard though he appeared to her.-. She reached her coign of vantage just in time to see one of the men she had heard tal ing. I'm with yer. all right. . where's yer sleeping stuff?--come on. and also recognised both men. I have already said that Nelly felt a strange interest in Paul Wright. Nelly waited in her secluded corner. then just whip open 'is coat. in the very act of pouring some liquid from a small bottle into the tumbler beside the drun en man. it ain't safe. and she ran along quic ly. in which was the bottle. his pipe in his mouth.' And both spea ers moved away beyond hearing. Whenever he was sober for an hour or two. so she easily gained the opposite side of the road. One was the bulloc driver who had attempted to iss her that morning.eeps his poc ets buttoned. even from one who appeared so depraved as our hero? For a few moments after the men had ceased spea ing. then. then at last the other said. the latter half full.-'Oh. intending to cross the road and pass before the house. or else in his trouser poc et. which was lighted brilliantly. It was dar . the other. She saw Paul Wright's figure leaning bac in his chair. but a shadow on the window-blind of the room where she new Paul Wright was either sitting or sleeping decided her. The conspirator merely closed his hand on the vial and turned round. and the sooner we get about the business the better and the quic er it'll be over. and though she instinctively felt that he loo ed upon her as no better than a superior servant.--apparently he was quite incapable. till by stooping she could get a view under the blind-which did not quite reach to the bottom--of all that went on in the room. She crept through a hole in the fence. half-frightened at her own thoughts. Was it any wonder. I seen him do it many a time the last wee . his feet elevated to the table. his hand. and I heard him tellin' Bill'-There was a long pause. and ye'll find the notes in a inside poc et. we can't. and that'd be ar erd for us. She was grateful to him for many little attentions he paid her. and in a drun en stupor.' 'Can't we do it without this stuff? He mightn't never wa e. which portended a heavy downpour before morning. and as fly as a fox even when he is drun . Here. yer see.hour to find him as quiet as a hinfant. Here she stood. Once the sleeping man stirred.' 'Do without the stuff? No. I dunno which he favours for eepin' of his cash. he would usually find his way into the little parlour where Nelly sat with her wor or the accounts. she had too much common sense to resent it. which urged her to protect this tipsy young man from these robbers. 'He's a stiff 'un in a row. his eyes closed in sleep. Beside him stood a bottle and a glass. raised some six or eight inches above the glass. he had noc ed a tipsy joc ey off his chair at the brea fast table for addressing a rude remar to her. mate.
and their victim under the influence of the drug they had prepared for him. A hidden fear came upon her (as she failed to find the tumbler) that Paul had drun its contents while she had been coming to him. that he was quite unable to place the globe on . and. Then. then. as he saw the intruder was a woman. as she had at first supposed he would.pretending to examine the cloc upon the mantel--shelf. and she would have flown from the room. and fell to the ground. she now began to feel about for it. After some little difficulty. It did not brea . and in the excitement of her movements and gropings about the table the bottle was noc ed over. and poured all that was left into it. Nelly trembled so terribly that she found herself obliged to stand still every few steps or she would have fallen. and she felt as if about to faint. but she remembered that the fatal tumbler was not yet found. she was in a pitable state of nervous fright that Paul would wa en and drin the stuff prepared for him before she could reach him and prevent it. for though at the opposite side of the road to the house. he once more held the bottle above the glass. She saw the man raise the small bottle to the light to see how much there still remained in it. Paul had managed to relight the lamp. At first Nelly's impulse had been to call out and surprise the man and wa en the sleeper. and reached the door of Paul Wright's sitting-room. filling the room with the all-powerful odour of whis y. A burning blush suffused the fair face of the embarrassed girl. then. and bring them to justice. She waited to see him join his companion on the verandah. and. But her spirit was roused now. evidently intending to wait a certain time for the house to become quiet. and once more the hand was extended. just suppressing an oath. crept through the fence as before. however. after the usual custom in the bush. She stooped to pic up the bottle. but the cor was noc ed out. which she opened very softly. she could hardly breathe for nervous excitement. a match was hastily struc . almost in her face. which. The room was in total dar ness. She did not now how to explain her errand. and she resolved to save Paul Wright from the thieves he had fallen amongst. was left open all night. and. But an instant's thought decided her to watch. 'What do you want?' he as ed angrily. For a few seconds he appeared debating with himself as to whether to give more or not. She new the two men were on the verandah. to her great relief. Her heart was beating li e a sledge-hammer within her bosom. she new where the glass was. reaching the table. but his hands shoo so. and the contents consequently flowed all over the floor. and she met Paul Wright's eye fixed upon her in unfeigned half-tipsy astonishment. and in some other way try and frustrate the designs of the two robbers. was staggering off to his bed. As she gazed upon the scene before her. and a few drops from the bottle again poured into the tumbler of spirits. then very quic ly she retraced her steps. with a glance at the sleeping man beneath him. and beheld what she supposed was poison being deliberately put for a helpless and unconscious man to ta e. as she rose with it in her hand. closed as softly behind her. Burgiss having turned out the lamp. half tipsy. she was quite near enough to be both heard and seen had she spo en or moved. But Paul slept on. she saw him steal softly from the room without awa ening the sleeper. her courage had all deserted her. and regained the house just as Burgiss. gliding in. having just put all the lights out. she sped through the passage. several times she nearly betrayed her presence by an exclamation of horror. having seen it from across the road. She had to wait till Burgiss had disappeared within his room before she could enter the house. and her hands trembled as if she had palsy. very swiftly and silently.
But the next instant tumbler and contents were both dashed out of his hand on to the floor. and loc the door. and stretched out his hand to ta e it. When she met his astonished gaze. But you--you have nothing to prevent your leaving. I saw that man who came by the down coach yesterday. As he as ed for it.it. and loo ed away as if ashamed to meet her eyes. that at this moment thieves are only waiting thin you sufficiently far gone to rob. letting the light flare and smo e upon the table between them. then?' 'Ah. that the half-stupefied man could barely catch her words. But suddenly turning roughly upon her. understand me. but I came here purposely to prevent you drin ing that glass of spirits. and.' Nelly had her hand on the bottle all the while she was spea ing. 'No. Though considerably muddled.' he said. he was not so tipsy as Nelly imagined. and wasting your manhood. I believe you right enough. 'don't drin any more in this house. and to her great relief it was still half full.-'If it's so disreputable. 'because I can't leave it. you are just illing yourself. when he stopped and glanced at the bottle. you shall not have any more drin . he exclaimed.--because I've no money to ta e me away till my time is up. and I'm much obliged to you for letting me now. He was about to address his companion. why indeed?' was the answer. Paul saw it at the same moment. that will be the . sir. there's another nip in it. But I must have another nip to steady me to face them. He smiled at her eagerness. just been till they Don't you I will not give it to you. she whispered hurriedly. If you must drin . Mr. 'Not much there. laying her hand upon his arm in her earnestness. or do you not believe my word?' 'Oh yes. I'd li e to now? Here. still unable directly to meet her glance. now very nearly empty.' At that instant Nelly noticed the tumbler. she loo ed fixedly at him.' For a moment or so he appeared to feel her words. It was drugged. where there is no danger of your being robbed or murdered. with a nod and tipsy smile.' She spo e so quic ly and nervously. Go to your room. as there is in a disreputable house li e this. lifted it to his lips. sir. and her extraordinary onslaught brought him completely to his senses.' he said. dropping some liquid into it while you lay asleep in your chair there. Wright.-'What's it got to do with you. though he could only loo at her in surprise and wonder. and replied. let it be in your own home.-'Pray forgive my violence. Mr. 'you'll have to get me another bottle. 'if you do. and as ed thic ly. why do you stop here. his sleep had sobered him to a great extent. sir. 'For God's sa e.' pointing to where he had been seated. do leave it and go home.-'No. you will not be able to grapple with those men if they do attac you. and after several futile efforts he desisted. save this wretched drin ! Ah. Wright. Don't you believe what I have telling you. astonishing him past all power of speech.' she continued. perhaps murder you. pass me that bottle.' she returned decidedly.
she closed and loc ed the outside door of the parlour. For ten days he was very ill. considering that for the last fortnight he had been drin ing on an average between two and three bottles of spirits a day.--just give me that drop you have in the bottle. and rushed away into the bush. but from the night Nelly had warned him of his danger from the teamster and his mate.' 'All right. as now and then they passed the window. acting as servant and house eeper in this wretched wayside publichouse. One afternoon he escaped. having first convinced herself that the two men were still upon the verandah. 'Give me just one more nip and I'll go. and then pray go to your room for the night. Nelly stood considering for a while whether to give him what was still left in the bottle or not. and consequently the teamster and his ruffian mate were turned away from the house. And now sprang up a sincere friendship between the two. Burgiss to-morrow about what I saw and heard. waiting. and retired to her own room. it was simply a case of pure friendship. and on Nelly's part pity for one who was cursed with so . as she passed the room wherein the sic man lay. see how I sha e all over. and had actually saved him from them. till the house was in dar ness ere they visited their victim. sir. no doubt. and leave me to tell Mr.' he said. Burgiss. pouring out what there was of the spirit. here you are. then turning out the lamp. and. Signs of delirium now began to show themselves in Paul Wright. and he ept glancing over his shoulder. Then. and then I'll go off to bed quietly. Next morning Nelly informed Burgiss of all she had seen and heard. he was closely watched and guarded. and very reluctantly she handed over the bottle. But they brought him bac again. putting down the tumbler. wild loo in his eyes. when the once strong. She saw him disappear within.--I must have it. no doubt wondering what she was doing in their would-be victim's room. handsome young man emerged from his room a perfect wrec of what he had been only so short a time bac . It was this sound that decided her. nor were they seen again at 'The Bushman's Rest' for many a long day. She could hear the footsteps of the teamster and his mate. who apparently was well s illed in the disease. and bit by bit heard from her her sad story. was horrified at his fearful ravings and cries of terror. as if fearing an attac from some one behind him. and I am too far gone now to stop in a hurry. and Nelly.best plan. saying. There was no flirtation between them. How it first began neither of them exactly remembered. drin it. was superior to any of her class whom he had come across. thus loc ing Paul in.-'Well. and from that day till he was considered nearly well. he let her lead him towards his bedroom door. and then came the long and weary convalescence.' There was an anxious. It was during these days he first began to notice that the pretty young girl. he dran it greedily without adding any water at all. which was not very surprising. and when well enough to wal about he sought her society constantly. Paul Wright began to feel an interest in the young girl. and how she came to be in her present position.' He seized the bottle and glass from the mantelpiece. too charge of him entirely. under the impression that some one was pursuing to ill him.
and without anything to live for. seven years bac . and a sneer upon his still handsome face. or a friend either. By Jove! if ever I do go home. he raised the glass of whis y to his lips.' 'And are there not others to care. They could tell you here that I never dran a glass of anything stronger than lemonade until five wee s ago. tried with all his strength to resist the temptation. in the hope that they would supply the want. would swallow glass after glass. saying. and before it all her efforts were as grass before flame. she tried to persuade him not to give way to it. the madness was upon him. But in vain. and coaxed him to ta e them. who will care a brass farthing what becomes of me. and is at heart the lowest little brute in creation. He sent to town for all the advertised remedies against drun enness.' 'I daresay you wonder what ma es me so rec less just now? I never used to be. but my cousin. Wright.' and with these words. I thought. You are the only friend I have in all the country.--'I care very. Mr. Maud's fair face would rise before him. in reply to Nelly's warning that such would be his fate. who wears stays. Mr. curls his hair. I do not care. he would rush to the bar.--which he swallowed eagerly.' he said gloomily. 'Let it ill me. and more especially now that she was so lonely. in the fresh sweet air that should have been nectar to an unvitiated palate. But Nelly quic ly placed her hand over it. 'Let it ill me. using all her eloquence on behalf of his better nature. when a girl at home promised to be my wife. away into the paddoc . And yet he did fight against it. to turn and retrace his steps. She jilted me for him. the only one who has said a civil word to me since I landed in Australia. In vain he would wal away out of the house. and his moustache just brushed the bac of her fingers.' she said. or what death I die. stepped in. reminding him of her loss--thoughts of his dreary future without her.terrible a vice as intemperance. This year I meant to go and fetch her. She made him the strongest beef-tea and soups.--socalled cures. and she has married him. I gave it up for good and all. the terrible thirst for stimulant. Sometimes for a day or two he would fancy himself cured. and in the hope of casting out the devil that possessed him. till he stood before the bar. then disturbing thoughts would come. And in desperation to get rid of his wretched thoughts. 'There are no others to care. Yet after a while he would find himself impelled by a force within him. and held the drin to his lips. and to forget how low he had fallen. 'I haven't a relation in the world. At other times it would be the smell of the spirits as he passed the bar. When once more the craving for drin possessed Paul. I'll ic him first. 'I care. Her heart was very tender at all times.' he said. and go away to his room for perhaps an hour at a time. He would often put down the glass just as it touched his lips. a rich man. and before he could reason against it. Wright? How will they feel when they hear of your terrible end?' she continued. and wring his wretched little nec after!' He laid the glass down with a strange loo in his eyes. very much. till his brain was clouded and reason gone.-- .--a little hop-o'-my-thumb. and stronger than his better nature. She vowed she'd wait for me till I had a home for her.
her eyes were red as though she had been crying. was because she hoped thus to eep him from drin ing in the bar. indeed. that there was no room as yet for another. he was in that state when a clever woman could have caught his heart in the rebound by laying herself out to do so. Mr. 'Indeed I won't.-'If he is all you say. surely he is not worth losing your temper over?' 'No. and the next moment flung the contents of both glass and bottle out over the verandah. no thought of the ind had ever crossed his mind in relation to her. when she said gently. where they had been sitting together. Wright. as she said. or that you illed yourself for her sa e. At the same time. The thought that perhaps it was the case gave him a strange quic thrill of pleasure. 'Remember. and don't give any woman the chance of boasting that you loved her so much that you couldn't live without her. li e chic ens. horrified. he is not. Grieved and disappointed. and his heart was so sore at her desertion and cruel treatment. curse her!' 'Oh. in surprise. But Nelly Dunne was not that ind of girl. much less his love. when he was sober enough to thin at all.-'Come. and dran off the spirits. and wondered vaguely whether it could be on his account that those handsome eyes were swollen and red. 'Nor is she either. 'I had a bad headache. nor did she appear again for some hours. it had all been on the spur of the moment. and. He was not at all in love with her.Nelly laughed at his vehemence. Nelly gathered up her wor and left the verandah. and though they had drifted upon occasions into very confidential conversations. "curses. Wright. and on her side at least had been regretted afterwards. When Paul did come across her again. hush!' Nelly said. but it is she who has sent me to the devil this time.' and she escaped from his questioning gaze. See. and in her sitting-room. . Her only reason for allowing him to sit so much with her. apart from the sorrow and regret she could not help feeling for Paul himself at times. Mr. that he began to thin seriously of attempting to give up drin again for Nelly's sa e. and was rewarded by such a sweet smile and words of encouragement. be a man. oh no.' he answered quic ly. I admit. I suppose.' he said at once.' was the reply. 'You've been crying. let me throw out that nasty stuff and bring you a glass of mil instead. come home to roost. hush. and mixing with the rough company that frequented the place. His thoughts were all about Maud. Then going to find Nelly. and in the very act of refilling his glass he paused. he told her what he had done and why. Never once had it crossed her mind to engage even his attention.' he said sullenly. But Paul Wright pondered it over."' Again he would have raised the glass of whis y to his lips. 'Has any one been bullying you?' 'No. she felt a loathing and horror of his besetting sin.
Now. The next time a for she held in her hand at the moment. for the young girl hurled the bitterest terms of loathing and contempt at him. it was little wonder that she began to avoid Paul. Miss Slyboots. her feelings were very much outraged. and made a rather bad wound. and jests were made and bandied about from one to the other very freely on their account. and shoc his sense of refinement. being an unprincipled. Wright's ears. the better for me. became as stiff and cold in her manner as possible. they had very soon turned to bitterest hatred. ma ing an ugly scar for some days. or else her life be made more bearable. and with which she defended herself. The first time an ornament in her hair had scratched his face from eye to chin. and the longer he's here. or even really believed by those who say them. and. And I pay you to do my business. For one thing. on account of his custom. had she been able to get away at all. and tal ed at her. At a house such as was 'The Bushman's Rest' they are not very particular. left to himself. and. not to send them away. One day he said to her. and Bill. alas! she had only a few shillings in the world. Thin ing and brooding over all this. and part of it is to draw fellows to the house. Whatever Burgiss' feelings had been in the beginning for Nelly. while biding his time to pay her out for the fancied slights she had put upon him. though he covered it with a pleasant face. Upon two occasions he had attempted rough familiarities with her in an apparently good-tempered manner. to eep him dangling after you. and Nelly lived in the hope that when she returned she would either be allowed to leave. mind that. but when she was actually told that she was expected to attract men to the house to drin and spend money. or I may have to ma e yer. had pierced his arm. and in her hearing. the intimacy between the two was not allowed to go unnoticed or unremar ed. telling her plainly that it was her duty to encourage him to drin rather than discourage him. But Mrs. Thus remar s were made. The men 'chaffed' her. When Nelly had first come to 'The Bushman's Rest. and. greatly to her horror and disgust. thrown as it were bac upon himself and his own miserable thoughts. and often things are said--remar s passed and laughed over--which in reality are not meant. and meanings attached to them which neither of them ever intended or thought of. shame. she would have gone in spite of her agreement. The more he drin s. bad man. who might have helped her. But. or even had sufficient money to ta e her to the next town. was away ta ing another driver's place for a .As may be supposed. when they did meet. he resented her interference with Paul's doings. or ma e him thin her as vulgar and coarse-minded as those with whom she lived. Burgiss was expected home any mail day. he again gave way to drin .' Poor Nelly had felt humiliated enough before. 'What business have you to eep telling him to go home? you ought to ma e yourself pleasant enough instead. and each time had been pretty severely punished for his horseplay.' Burgiss had ta en a violent fancy to her. Over and over again he had returned to the charge. and thought seriously of as ing Bill the driver to give her a free passage down in the coach as far as the nearest town. till the poor girl was nearly mad with disgust. till Nelly was well-nigh desperate. had endeavoured to ma e her aware of his feelings. and fear lest such things should come to Mr. But his actual wounds were nothing to the soreness of his feelings. the result being that. Nelly it was who heard most of this. Nelly's and Paul's actions and words watched.
and her emphatic reply to the effect that she would never cease her efforts to prevent him drin ing so long as she had breath to spea . and so put an end to it. and all night Paul lay awa e thin ing over it. you may well say no man would ever marry a girl from here. and. But there was no reply.--and Mr. 'Is that you.' Utterly regardless of the terrible threat. and she lay down again. she gave two or three piercing shrie s for help. but I'll give him the means of saving himself by telling him. gentle or simple. when once more awa ened. Accidentally he had overheard part of a conversation between her and Burgiss. and made him wonder how it was this girl too such an interest in him. She secured them. and was suddenly awa ened by the feeling. She sat up in the bed and as ed. and was just meditating discovering himself. after she had twice put the question. of some one moving in her room. had touched a chord in the drun ard's heart. Let me once see you trying to drug his drin again. Burgiss had said to her sneeringly. and that it will cling to me always? Yes. and you have no right to say I had. 'I never had such a thought. Do you thin I don't now that no honest man. and all Nelly had impressed upon him as to the probable result of his course of conduct. beginning to thin about himself. I'll try and do some good. It happened that Paul. see if I don't. It had ta en place in the afternoon. and she also fancied she could hear some one breathing close to her. and also thin ing a great deal about Nelly. she stretched out her hand for the matches. which as usual she had left on the corner of the box-table within her reach. But as I am here. She lay awa e thin ing for some time. who. and. or any other o' the gents either. as you did the other night. and was just about to stri e a light. yer can put the notion out o' yer head. and trembling in every limb. and no one new it better than Burgiss. had been drin ing heavily all day.month or so. while a voice hissed out the words. when some one entered the room where the spea ers were. Nelly went to bed earlier than usual. as usual. she was helpless. she concluded that she was mista en. he suddenly as ed himself if there was nothing he could live for? He was conscious that his feelings had undergone a change with regard to the young house eeper within the last three days. but he was very wide-awa e before the end. Terrified now. towards night had fallen into a sound sleep. and I'll tell him there and then. He'd sooner cut his throat than marry a girl out o' this house. but finally dropped off to sleep. which very promptly brought Paul Wright to her assistance. or nearly so. I'll save him from your toils. I can't always save him from you. more than the sound.--so there!' And Nelly had replied bitterly. from which he wa ened sober. Wright least of all. with a bad headache. 'Screech. when her hand was grasped and held as in a vice. as she often did when Nelly was not well. No. would dream of offering marriage to a girl who has lived in this house? Do you thin I don't feel the indignity of living beneath this roof. But she had hardly dozed off. this time by what sounded suspiciously li e a stealthy footstep on her floor. or that possibly a cat in the stable below her room had caused the sound. and why he could not repay her better than he did. 'If yer thin he's after yer to marry yer. and I'll put a nife into you. and what . Kitty?' thin ing that possibly the half-caste girl had come in to see how she was. Two or three nights after the above incidents.' Paul had been lying half-asleep in one of the parlours when this conversation began.
the other wrenched himself out of his grasp and fled away in the dar . he started at once for the stable to procure a halter with which to catch the horse. The only evidence of ill--usage apparent was a dar bruise on the left temple. and the strange man rushing away li e a thief or worse. and the hot blood came to his face as he remembered the state of disgusting intoxication in which Nelly had so often seen him. Now that he was sober he loathed himself. or was he still under the influence of drin ?' The squalid room. 'Was it a bad dream. a destroyer?' Thus wondering. All her words and advice came bac to him with tenfold force. He new there was a horse in the small paddoc adjoining the house.' and then if Nelly would marry him he would be grateful and do all he could to ma e her happy. when his foot was on the last step. He stumbled up the narrow staircase or ladder. While thus occupied. and who seemed to loo upon her as fair game for their low. Did she care at all for him. late as it was. As soon as he realised that it was from the room over the stables. he was almost thrown bac by a man rushing from the room past him. Nelly was miserable in this house. one his cousin had led over that morning. in the hope that Paul would be induced to come home with him on his return from a neighbouring station. and the sad curves of the drooping mouth. and it was just as he reached the gate leading to the stables that Nelly's terrified scream for help fell upon his ears. he firmly believed that if he had one he would reform. For a second or two he gazed at her and around him in bewildered astonishment. he stooped down and gently raised the senseless girl in his arms and laid her on the bed. 'What was the meaning of it all?' he as ed himself. He tried to stop him. When he reached the room and struc a match. honest girl. coarse wit. lightly throwing over her its mean and scanty coverings. He wanted an object in life. he could not help noticing the extreme purity of the young girl's complexion. he felt utterly contemptible before this girl. or whether he lived or died? How would it be if he were to marry her? He new her to be a good. he was not long in ma ing his way there. 'What did it mean? Was he wronging her in his thoughts? Was she all he had fancied her. why should they not marry and be a mutual help to each other? Many men and women had come together from more ignoble causes. and was this man who had rushed past him in the dar ness a scoundrel. He had to stand still and listen before he could be sure from where the sound came. and leave 'The Bushman's Rest' at once. He thought of her as he had seen her so often. which could be firm and stern enough in denunciation of evil. and. He too a sudden resolve to follow Nelly's advice. Yes.she had said both to and of him. dipping his hand erchief into the tumbler. treating with silent contempt the jests and jo es of the ribald men who frequented the house. where he was going on business. he would 'sober up. the young girl (whom he had really believed to be good and pure). whom he intuitively new to be good and pure. Fearing to let his good resolution cool. but in saving himself from being thrown to the bottom. and there and then he registered a silent vow to try . he was horrified to find Nelly lying in the middle of the floor in a dead faint. far superior to most of the girls he had met in the bush. or in which direction he should turn to render help. and whose influence had constantly been used to save him from himself. so defenceless in this bush public-house. the mean bed. A strange tenderness and great pity came over the dissipated man for the lonely young girl. Then he found some water and bathed her head.
and not li ely to faint again. tell me if you can what happened. that's the true explanation of my presence here. sir.' she exclaimed.--I now he will. but without waiting for any reply he turned to the girl with a diabolical sneer. I'll see you through it. 'He is a bad. her hand firmly grasping his arm.' he said to her. And now.' Then he turned to leave the room. Nelly. go bac and get some rest before daylight. Burgiss was that pitiful thing. so. with all yer fine airs. I won't fight him. but before he was half down the ladder Nelly was beside him. I'd as soon thin of insulting my own sister as you. but suddenly the thought of the defenceless girl. and leave it all to me. Nelly.' She covered her face with her hands and tried to thin . Wright. oh. With a soft little sigh she opened her bewildered eyes. and say to Burgiss. though only half satisfied. and who the scoundrel was. 'was it you? Oh. 'Mr. As I've got you into the row. evil-loo ing face of Burgiss appeared. if that will satisfy you. with a great disappointment sweeping over her fair face. don't fight him. Mr. and will ill you.' And then she went. 'Go bac to your bed. to find you insensible on the floor.--promise me you won't?' she begged again. so I lifted you on to the bed. 'What the d--is the meaning of this row?' he as ed. 'O ho! my lady. 'don't so mista e me. and doubtless the brute would have fared badly. made him withhold the blow. and when he saw that Paul .' and she burst into tears. 'Well.' she begged. Then quite assured that she was better. now. her head felt sore and stupid.' Hardly were the words out of his mouth before Paul Wright sprang upon him. 'If you have an ounce of manhood in you. whom I met rushing from the room? I'll go and settle with him. he was on the point of leaving the room. I heard you scream as I was coming to the stable for a halter to catch my horse. for I had made up my mind to follow your advice and to clear out of this cursed place. go and rest. sir. Wright.' 'But you won't fight him. when the door was pushed bac . and try and get some sleep after this excitement. remember where we are. a bully. no. but after a few minutes she remembered what had ta en place. in whose room they were. and I came to your assistance. li e a good girl. what made you come here? 'What have I done that you should thin '-'For God's sa e. 'Don't be foolish. do you thin . Paul stood thin ing for a minute. to gaze in horror and amazement on the face of the man for whom she was conscious of feeling more than ordinary regard.' he interrupted.and deserve her good opinion in future. and the angry. You'll have to leave here in the morning. and in a few hurried words told Paul. In the meantime the tired soul of poor Nelly came slowly bac to its earthly tenement. as you are all right again. saying. for you can't possibly stay on after all this. bad man. and come away out of this-we'll have it out below. so after all ye're no better than the rest o' 'em. 'Oh. then he said.
which I may say was hardly within miles of the true one. and reproaching herself for being the cause of the trouble. He dragged him down and out into the yard. When he saw that Burgiss was not willing to fight him. She had hardly ta en this position when she heard Paul's voice. he went down the paddoc . and vainly rac ed his brains trying to thin of a way to help poor Nelly out of her present difficulty. In the meantime poor Nelly was suffering all the pangs of fear for Paul's safety. As she listened to the merciless blows that fell from Paul's strong arm. will be bac by dinner time. and then with one spring he made for the ladder to Nelly's room. and made a man of him again. and then once more started out to catch his horse. and he began to wonder whether they might not be persuaded to give the helpless girl shelter until such time as she could obtain another situation. Trust me. and was soon galloping away through the sweet crisp morning air towards his own home. and he had time to hear one or two expressions uncomplimentary to Nelly fall from Burgiss' lips before he was observed. he went up the ladder to Nelly's room and pushed his note underneath the door. he drew out his note-boo and wrote upon one page. Having made up his mind. . huddling on her clothes. and as them as a personal favour to himself to ta e Nelly for a while. It was quite beyond her power to ta e rest. but Burgiss stood his ground till he noticed the whip in his opponent's hand. doubtless intending to protect himself in her presence. then he flung him into a corner on to a heap of bro en bottles. where he administered to him as sound a thrashing as only the arm of an angry man can. Directly he came among them the men fell bac . and caught him just as his foot was on the last step. It was nearly an hour after this that she again 'I go to try and find a new home for you with friends. and then the abject cries of the pitiful coward as he received the beating he so richly deserved. Paul returned to his own room. folded it in half. or rather he was giving his own version of the scene. Suddenly he remembered a young couple who were living on a selection some miles the other side of the station. she did not even try. But Paul was thoroughly angry--the excitement had done him good. As he had to go to the stable for his bridle. he strode away through the yard to his room.' He tore out the page. so. and loafers. if possible. satisfied that she would not thin he had deserted her in her trouble. explaining to them the reason of it all. returning in a few minutes with the cutting whip he usually carried when not out on the run. where the pitiful cur lay groaning and crying till some of his hired creatures carried him away to his bed. for he new there could be no question of her stopping at 'The Bushman's Rest' after what had ta en place. Burgiss was standing in the centre of a group of men. who had been awa ened by the noise. caught and saddled his horse.-- 'PAUL WRIGHT. and one or two of them slun away into the stable shamed. he tried to laugh the whole matter off as a practical jo e. the rush up to her door. teamsters. bushmen. He would go and see these people.Wright was determined to fight. she found it in her heart to pity the unfortunate creature though he so richly deserved it. But Paul was too quic for him. she wrapped a waterproof round her and sat down by the open window (for it had only a wooden shutter) to thin . and believe me your friend. then. As Paul Wright approached they did not see him.
and with a sigh of relief she threw herself upon her bed and sobbed herself to sleep. the old man had elected to live with his daughter and her husband almost entirely. he began to ponder whether they new of it or not. The people whom Paul Wright purposed appealing to on Nelly's behalf were a young couple named Carrington. Mr. burials. he had a church and manse in one of the neighbouring towns. and to ignore his late outburst. Carrington's father was a Presbyterian minister. and really meant to be. her woman's instinct had led her to the true solution of the mystery. And it had the effect of comforting her.heard steps upon the ladder leading to her room. however. Carrington. Carrington and Mr. The Carringtons were just sitting down to their brea fast when Paul rode up to the house. she saw the slip of white paper pushed under the door. after reading those few words. as a matter of fact. and free to tell his story. and when the footsteps had once more died away she secured it. but when he came to the events of the night before. he was in receipt of an income from property at home of £200 a year. Garvie ever since they had been in the district. Indeed. her friend. performing christenings.' and the indly little lady bustled away to lay a plate and get a cup and saucer for the unexpected guest. so finally Paul found himself alone with his hostess. and Mr. and since the Carringtons had come to live so close to them a great intimacy had sprung up between the two families. and just as she had begun to prepare herself for some further development of her employer's spite. hoping for an opportunity at brea fast to introduce the subject of his early visit. Garvie were no less ind in their welcome than Mrs. that he was. Paul did as desired. when brea fast was over. and read the message Paul had sent to reassure her in her loneliness. Paul Wright was a special favourite with Mrs. who periodically went round the different stations holding services. The Wrights had nown Mr. at first with many haltings and brea s. and a very popular.--all strove to do him honour. They were people who had at one time been very well to do. Mr. and when she had heard from Herbert about his unaccountable outbrea . marriages. 'Go to George's room and get a wash--I thin you'll find him there too. good old man he was.' was Mrs. Carrington's greeting as she shoo hands with him in the passage between the house and the itchen. his words flew glibly enough. Wright. Of late years. . while the Carringtons were to less popular. Mr. He was almost entirely supported by the squatters and selectors in the district. Carrington. though. However. to whom he had confided all his love story. living on a small selection some four or five miles from Morven Plains. His name was Garvie. giving up his manse to a younger man. etc. And this he did. Mrs. Garvie had a letter to write which he wished Paul to post. and he became quite excited. 'You are just in time for brea fast. He was not dependent upon his people. Carrington was called away. when he had finished his strange story. and wondered if he would have to give an account of his own doings as a reason for nowing all about Nelly. on the contrary. She felt. 'Then what is it you want me to do?' she as ed.
'Just what your own ind heart dictates,' was his reply. 'It is quite certain the girl cannot stop where she is after what has happened, and I, of course, would do more harm than good by appearing at all in the matter except through some woman.' 'Yes, I understand the position,' Mrs. Carrington said thoughtfully. 'And you say she is, you thin , a lady by birth?' 'Yes, I am certain of it,' Paul Wright replied impulsively.
'Oh, you are good, Mrs. Carrington!' Paul said, grasping her hand warmly. 'I shall be so grateful, for I feel as if it were almost my fault.' 'Oh, I don't see that exactly,' was Mrs. Carrington's reply; 'for, of course, you only did as any man worthy of the name would have done in going to her relief. However, here comes George--I will go and see what he says; and you can tell one of the boys to run up the buggy horses, for I now George will say go.' But Mr. Carrington was not so willing to allow his wife to pay a visit to 'The Bushman's Rest,' or to accept any one from there as an inmate of their home even in the capacity of a servant. Li e every other man in the district, he had heard of the place and its lawless character, and therefore was very doubtful about any one who had been, or was, an inmate of the house. However, the matter was decided by old Mr. Garvie, who said that he would go bac with Paul and George, and if Nelly appeared all that he represented, they would offer her a home, and bring her bac with them. By eight o'cloc that night Nelly was an inmate of Mrs. Carrington's little home, having favourably impressed the old minister as well as his son-in--law, George Carrington, who had gone to 'The Bushman's Rest' quite prepared to find her the very reverse of what she appeared. And now began a very happy time for Nelly Dunne. Mrs. Carrington was her firm friend; the two women had been drawn towards each other by many similar tastes. Nelly s etched well, so did Mrs. Carrington, so they often too their materials and drove out together to different spots about the station for the purpose of s etching. Then Nelly played and sang well and brilliantly, accomplishments her hostess was not perfect in; so Nelly undertoo to give her lessons while she was there, for she had at once put an advertisement into the Sydney papers for a situation as governess. And all the time Paul Wright used to visit the selection on an average four times a wee , on the pretence of helping Mr. Carrington with some fencing he was doing. Several times the ladies had been to Morven Plains to spend a day, or to s etch some specially interesting piece of scenery. Mrs. Carrington saw plainly what his motive was in coming so often; but she was too wise to spea to Nelly about it, though she most honestly hoped that a match would result between the two. One afternoon when the mail-bag arrived there was a letter for Miss Dunne from a lady near Sydney, who wanted a governess and companion to travel with her and two little girls. It appeared to be a most suitable situation, the very thing to suit Nelly; but though admitting
'Well, I must see George; and if he says yes, I will go bac with you and see her, and offer her an asylum here.'
all this, Mrs. Carrington was loath to let her send a reply until Paul Wright had heard of it. So, having persuaded her to wait till next mail-day, Mrs. Carrington wrote and told Paul Wright that Miss Dunne had found a situation, and would be leaving them very shortly, unless he could manage to prevent it. And she wound up by advising him to come over on the following day and ta e Nelly for a last ride,--a hint he was quite willing to accept. Accordingly next morning he rode over just at lunch-time, and during the meal as ed the ladies if they would go for a ride. Nelly never had ridden alone with Paul Wright, and Mrs. Carrington guessed she would not do so now, unless she contrived in such a way that she could not avoid it. So she at once said, 'Oh yes, they could go, she thought;' and Nelly expressed her willingness also. But when the horses were led up saddled and ready, and Nelly had even mounted, Mrs. Carrington came on to the verandah in her morning gown, loo ing the picture of (pretended) misery, and declaring that she had the most excruciating faceache, and could not possibly go for the ride. 'But you can go, Nelly; it need not ma e any difference to you, and particularly as this may be your last ride, dear.' 'Oh no, I'd rather not go,' Nelly began hurriedly, and preparing to dismount from her saddle, when Paul Wright came up to her and whispered, 'Why will you not go, Nelly? You may trust yourself to my escort, believe me,' in such an earnest tone, that she could not refuse him. They rode along for three or four miles conversing on indifferent subjects,--Paul fearing, yet anxious to ma e the request that was trembling on his lips, and Nelly wondered why he was so unusually excited; for, though conscious that she loved him, she had never once allowed herself to dream of a future in which Paul Wright should have a part. They had both been silent for some moments, when suddenly Nelly said,-'Did you hear, Mr. Wright, that I have at last the prospect of getting a situation?' 'Yes, Mrs. Carrington told me something about it, but I trust it is not true, Nelly. Surely you are not so tired of us all that you want to run away?' 'No, no; that is not the question at all. I must wor and earn my living, Mr. Wright. I cannot afford to live on in idleness.' For several moments Paul Wright made no reply, and they rode on in silence. He was debating in his own mind whether he had any right to as this girl to share his life when he had so little confidence in himself. At last he said,-'Nelly, you now the worst of me--you have seen me ma e a beast of myself, and you now my story. Yet, in spite of it all, will you marry me? Don't answer in a hurry, dear. I believe I could ma e you happy; and more than that, I feel quite confident that your influence could and would eep me straight. I am not such a bad fellow at heart. I am wea , I suppose, but for any one I loved I could do anything. And, Nelly dear, I do love you. I now what you will say--that it is not so long since I told you I loved some one else; that is true enough, but since I have nown you that is altered. I could at this very moment
find it in my heart to write and than Maud for having thrown me over. You want a home, Nelly, and I want a wife; say you'll marry me, and continue the good wor you have begun.' 'No, Mr. Wright,' Nelly replied. 'You have made a mista e; it is only pity you feel for me, and by and by, when I am away, you will be glad that I did not ta e you at your word.' He turned from her impatiently, a frown upon his face. 'Nelly, do you hate me?' he as ed. 'Indeed, no,' she replied. 'Do you li e me a little bit, then?' he continued. 'Yes, oh yes; better than any one in this'--She had spo en impulsively, and was going to say 'in the world,' but she suddenly stopped and blushed. 'Go on,' he said. 'What were you going to say--in the colony, was it? Then there is some fellow in the old country, is there?' and he as ed the question eagerly. 'I love no one in the old country.' 'Then were you going to say you li ed me better than any one in the world?' He saw by her face that he had guessed aright, and he drew closer to her as he as ed,-'Nelly, can't you ma e li ing become loving? Couldn't you try to love me, Nelly?' Firmly believing that he only as ed her to marry him under a mista en idea that he had injured her, and so should thus ma e reparation, Nelly was on the point of answering in the negative; but a glance at his face, so near her own, and something in his eyes, prevented the untruth passing her lips; she ept silence. 'Nelly, I am waiting. I as ed you if you could love me if you tried. Now give me an answer, Nelly; and be sure you don't tell me an untruth, or I shall now it by your face. I am awfully vain, and I believe at this moment that you love me. Now, for the third time, Nelly, do you, or do you not?' Still no reply came, and a spirit of mischief began to twin le in Paul Wright's brown eyes. 'Well, silence gives consent all the world over, Nelly. Am I to draw my own conclusions from your silence?' 'No, sir,' she said at last. 'What does "No, sir," mean--that you don't love me? Oh, then I shall go bac at once to 'The Bushman's Rest,' and drown my disappointment in another month's spree. I'm a wea -minded fellow, and I can't stand being disappointed,' and he turned his horse round as if intending to carry out his threat. Nelly put out her hand in sudden alarm, for she new his wea ness, or thought she did. 'Oh, sir, you will not go? Please do not.'
and terrified that he really meant to carry out his threat and leave her alone in the bush. and now when he had said them again uninfluenced by drin . fully persuaded that Paul was playing with her. and. and would come bac in a few minutes. had Nelly ta en him at his word there and then. then. Here we are.' She shoo her head sadly. and astonish the natives!' He had spo en the words in pure jest. before he had ever thought of her save as the barmaid of 'The Bushman's Rest. very well. You will be all right. She glanced up to see if he was returning. He had been unfortunate in alluding to her unprotected and friendless condition when ma ing his offer. and ran led in her mind. if he really did love her. Mr. slipping from her saddle.' No. Paul had forgotten the words ten minutes after he uttered them. Some wee s previously. will you love me. At the same time. and I just jilted: let's ma e a match of it. he would most li ely have carried out his offer. 'My people have nothing whatever to do with it. for that he meant . if you follow this cattle trac . So she sat on the log crying quietly.-'You had better marry me. and from there you will see the house. but not so Nelly. Wright. for he was madly rec less at that time. though she new quite well that the whole story of that night's incidents at 'The Bushman's Rest' was nown and tal ed about throughout the entire district. For some minutes Nelly sat still on her horse. 'It is all so sudden. but I am deeply grateful for your offer.' 'Oh. that's beside the question altogether. there is no more to be said. 'What would your people say if you married me?' 'Oh. you homeless and alone in the world. sir. Nelly. her voice trembling with agitation. Miss Dunne. And she was too proud to suffer him to sacrifice himself on her account. Fully alive to her position. just as many a man tal s to a girl whom he loo s on as outside the possibility of his marrying. Mr. I cannot marry you. Nelly. and ripe for any folly. but when she turned her head he was out of sight. it will ta e you right up to the Carringtons' yards. sat down on a tree-stump in a state of dejection not free from alarm. they had come bac to her very vividly.' he replied quic ly. She did love Paul Wright with all the strength of her young heart. consequently she had jumped to the conclusion that he saw no other way of protecting her good name than by offering her his own. wishing that she had dared to be happy and accept Paul's love. though I'll willingly be led by you if you will promise to become my wife.' Paul had said to her in fun. Nelly?' he as ed. Wright. Her horse was restive. and Nelly was a very timid horsewoman as yet. I'm not in leadingstrings. she began to cry. as he said he did. but feared lest he were as ing her to marry him from a mere sense of duty.' she said. and ept neighing after his companion. 'I daren't. and I now you are only ma ing me an offer because you thin my character has suffered through the affair at 'The Bushman's Rest. and she could hear the regular canter of his horse through the bush at some distance. and rode away bac along the trac they had come. saying.'Well.' With these words he made her an elaborate bow. ta ing her outstretched hand and loo ing into her troubled face.
and if she did. you thin I want to marry you because of that night's wor at the "Rest. to be eaten by blac s and wild dogs. Come. Nelly?' he inquired for the twentieth time."' But Nelly was still silent.' replied a voice at her side. What would happen to her if Paul never came bac ? she wondered would she be able to find the Carringtons' selection. you are wrong. She all at once realised that she was left alone to die there in that horrible bush. dearest?' 'I did not say so. so dearly!' 'Why didn't you say so. before I will let you go. and I had it in my mind to clear away from "The Bushman's Rest. and. I believe I loved you before that affair.really to go away and leave her alone she could hardly believe. from pure nervousness and fright. then. but when it did not come. then turned. till after a time the stillness of the afternoon began to oppress her. and I do love you so--oh. there seemed to be nothing moving save the insect world around her. Paul!' she cried. and as we can't stand in this position all day. Was she really and truly alone? Where were the wild blac s she had heard so much about in the old country? were they indeed watching and spying upon her from behind the huge gum trees which grew on all sides? Would they wait till night and then fall upon her and ill her? She was fast losing her head and becoming hysterical. "Paul. she found herself clasped in Paul's arms. He had ridden away out of sight. dearest. 'Oh. She stood up and loo ed round. he said. nothing was to be seen or heard save the birds and bees as they flew here and there. I did not do this. frightened by the falling of a small branch. Paul. for I really did value your good opinion. 'Then you do love me. and replied to all his questions to his entire satisfaction. 'And you will marry me. though I tell you plainly. But there was no sign of him. with no more nowledge of trac s or roads than a baby. But. and the poor half-crazy girl threw herself down upon the grass in an agony of real terror and grief. dismounted. I suggest that the sooner you say it the better. She was utterly alone. being indeed a most arrant little coward in the bush. I do love you. however amusing it may be for the jac asses. Tearfully she sat watching her horse as he clipped the tufts of long grass close by. and as also we are some miles from home. starting up. holding her close to him. and I will marry you.' she returned softly. It frightened Nelly also--it was the last straw. darling. with no prospect of escape until she had admitted all. and I can honestly and truly say that I love you for your own sweet sa e." get . and I even decided to offer myself to you without delay on that account. and forthwith began to get frightened. and come bac behind her. Paul waited several minutes for her answer. 'how could you be so cruel.-'Nelly. 'But you will say so now--in fact you must. as her horse started and snorted suddenly. what story could she tell to them to account for Paul leaving her? Oh! it was terrible. let me hear you say." but. the thought did cross my mind that no one would dare to tal about you as my wife. which some bird had dislodged above him.
I'll sign the pledge. Nelly. all in a hurry. he said to himself. and while the latter changed her habit. after all. but you will be able to eep me straight. and really do love me. And. he was forced to admit that perhaps it was not such a very unwise step for Paul to ta e. and through whose unflagging industry. and poor Nelly was sobbing softly. as it seemed. She did at last believe that Paul loved her. and had she followed the dictates of her heart she would have given in at once. completely overloo ing the fact of her being of gentle birth. The sun had set when Nelly and Paul returned to the Carringtons'. At first Herbert Wright was very angry. nowing of what has been my besetting sin?' The answer came at last. However. Nelly. and I'll not touch one drop of liquor again as long as I live. ma e any promise you li e. for. as it was Paul who managed the station. really.' With a glad cry he bent his head and pressed his first iss upon her pure lips.' 'One iss of your own free giving. as if to save her reputation. and averse to the match. smiling into the flushed face of the girl he loved. I had. if you wish it so much. li e many others. though doubtless you find it hard to believe me. and who now rejoiced at the good fortune that had befallen her. and determination they had. very happy. Paul would give way to drin . after hearing the whole story. and in that instant gathered her slight form to his breast. It is seven years and more since I had a turn li e this. perseverance. I have no real love for drin . and then come and see you again. despite bad seasons. bravely spo en. yet half afraid of what she had done. my own darling! I thin the more of you for coming through the ordeal so grandly. 'The less of you. I new more of your trials than you ever told me. faults and all. more eloquent than any words that could have been spo en. now Maud had thrown him over. he loo ed upon Nelly as merely a barmaid. even though I was then so much under the influence of drin .' He read her answer in her eyes. I am not altogether bad. and eventually go to the bad completely. He felt convinced that unless some other powerful interest could be brought into his life. 'Yes. but she could not reconcile it to her conscience to let him--a man of good birth and good position--marry her.square. 'She is very . Nelly?' She raised her ripe red lips to meet his. 'Then I am not to go to the dogs. and if you'll only marry me. reached their present condition of prosperity. So Herbert was inclined favourably to consider any marriage of his cousin's under these circumstances. I may not be a very good fellow. 'And you won't thin the less of me for having been at that place?' she as ed anxiously. and for several seconds there was a silence between them. This was a state of affairs to be avoided for all their sa es. Paul told his story to the indly little woman who had been such a good friend to the poor and lonely girl. and it was no disgrace to his manhood that there were tears in his eyes as he did so. Nelly?' Paul as ed. 'You will ta e me. and greatly for his own (Herbert's).
save that he was cursed with the terrible vice of intemperance. to be made man and wife. when she gave herself before God to a man of whom she new little or nothing. Such a pity. I do not mean now. yet ta e away that weirdness and wildness which are so characteristic of Australian scenery. It was granted again to a new proprietor. 'And was it a happy marriage?' I can reply in all truth. and never refuse an invitation to the Wrights' hospitable home. when it was untouched. Wright. you now. near Richmond. having become so notorious after Nelly's departure that the licence was ta en away. but twenty years ago. when it is probably fenced in and preserved as a public promenade or recreation ground. It was she who stood beside her. No sister could have been inder than Mrs. and is a respectable house under the present management. Paul Wright is a rich man now. Garvie. In those days a man travelling in the bush might well fancy his own eyes were the first white man's to gaze on some romantic scene. and Burgiss had to leave that part of the country. whose glades the revelry of picnic and pleasure parties only invaded during the . now. 'She was a barmaid. my dear!' But these very people are none the less friendly when they meet Nelly. It was just five wee s from the day she left 'The Bushman's Rest' when Nelly and Paul stood together before old Mr. that he stood face to face with untouched nature. and encouraged her with brave words and sympathy during the most solemn moment of her life. Herbert Wright admitted that his cousin had done well and wisely in marrying the girl he did. quite as much so as most of the girls one meets. or scorched hollow of the tree where the explorer boiled his billy and ba ed his damper. may be seen scattered far and wide. or indulge the fancy. THE STORY OF A PHOTOGRAPH THERE are not many more beautiful scenes in the world than that presented by Studley Par . the minister. and eventually Nelly had no stauncher friend in the colonies than her husband's cousin. and the ashes of the fires. without any of those socalled 'improvements' which.presentable.' Many years have passed since these incidents too place.--and at a dreadfully low public-house. Carrington proved to the friendless girl. Twenty years ago Studley Par was a wild romantic spot. in Victoria. it was. even Australia is tolerably well nown from coast to coast. dear to the poetical spirit ever innate in the human breast. There are still a few ill-natured and envious people who point to pretty Mrs. fresh as it came from the hand of nature. never once has he touched spirits since he married. not a more united or more affectionate couple exist than Paul Wright and his wife. and he has ept to his promise faithfully.' Months afterwards. when he married her. 'The Bushman's Rest' exists now under a new name. and whisper. if they ma e it a better carriage-drive or smoother wal . too. 'Yes.
I thin I should have the greatest chance of succeeding with her.' she said. that we are really engaged. and crowned the sombre she-oa s with a blaze of glory. Alma. the Yarra Yarra wound its devious way around the bases of the hills.' These three never met again. sweet manna in the season when it fell. 'I now it.' 'So I will. almost in one breath. crisp grass. and beneath it blue starshaped wild flowers--cyclamen. On the hills and in the valleys the sweet-scented wattle threw its yellow tassels to the breeze. the youth was the first to spea . And that puts me in mind to tell you that I am going to ta e my passage to England in the Marco Polo. All difficulties are overcome. three young people were wandering about the time of which I write.' he returned.' said the lovers. and her studies in Rome. presided li e huge genii over the scene.' 'None will wish you greater success than we shall. in whom it was easy to see the young man was deeply interested. indeed. where the children loo ed for the white. with dar curling hair. and I will go and try to ma e a name for myself. purple sarsaparilla. dearest. sometimes in the midst of all the art treasures of Rome. almost wish to be once more with you. sundew. with shattered untidy bar rattling in the fierce hot wind. 'And if Alma here ever becomes the great painter she hopes to be. rattling gums (the leaves did not whisper together gently li e English leaves.' Beneath these straggling. she formed a complete contrast to her friend who rose up languid and lily-li e beside her. and he addressed her who resembled a lily.intense heat of Christmas. and be a credit to Victoria. It is the only one I have ever had ta en. One was a tall fair girl of apparently eighteen years of age. after her voyage to England. * * * * * . 'and as I have nown Carrie so intimately all our lives. even if I cannot have you always just yet. and the scarlet pea--peeped up from the short. A very un-English scene. and sometimes. yet one to remember and loo bac upon with affection if it at all belong to the country one calls 'home. Awa ening from his reverie.' was the reply. The tall white gums.' 'I shall value it more highly than anything else I possess. 'Meanwhile I shall thin of you both in your happy bush home. 'I will give it you when we get home. stretched across the grass li e a flood of fire. Caroline. I suppose I may as you for your photograph--that one of which the photographer has unhappily bro en the negative? At least I shall have your image with me.' 'Yes. gilded the brown leaves of the gum trees with a tinge of red. short and strong. 'And now.' said the girl addressed as Alma. the other girl was one of those quic . but hustled each other noisily). she shall paint me a still more beautiful portrait of you. All three seemed wrapped in admiring the extreme beauty of the sunset which dyed the rippling waters beneath their feet in the colours of the dying dolphin. which sails in a month from now. energetic personages of whom it may be safely predicted that they will cut some pathway for themselves through the thorny thic ets of the world. and stumbled and brawled fiercely over the stony falls by Dwight's Mills. John. In the distance.
The intense. and invited. and have . sometimes wriggling comfortably in its sleep. and the case containing the boo must have fallen from the bulloc dray without the driver's observing it. Two years ago. now burnt brown by the sun. which either rush along in dense masses.A long white dusty road through the bush. when he jumped up suddenly. to raise his whip and stri e it again as hard as he could. carrying dead leaves high in the air. while the sna e. covered with short scorched grass. and so catching gleams of light on its shining s in which betray its whereabouts. either. yes. overhead the clear Australian s y palpitating with heat. he hits it a heavy blow with his loaded stoc -whip--so heavy. overpowering solitude is only bro en by the harsh cries of the laughing jac ass. beneath which nature appears to lie breathless. how did it come here? How glad I am to see it again!' 'That photograph?' inquired the shepherd. John Walton resumed his journey in the same slow and melancholy fashion. and when they come to the road arouse thic clouds of white dust. as if they were enjoying a witches' dance. which was between five and six feet in length. which rises on end at the noise of the horse's hoofs. or curl round and round in a ind of vortex. which seems so far off because there is no mist to give the effect of distance. and. damper. with true bushman's instinct. She gave it me herself. was but the wor of an instant. his clothes white as a miller's from the eternal dust. about two years ago. far from being dead. that it falls to the ground apparently to rise no more. curling up among some gum trees. was untied from the stirrup and thrown ignominiously on the dung-heap. too it up. Here he was speedily made welcome. 'My picture! my lost picture! Why. and saying to himself.' 'Indeed! Then I can only account for it this way. and tea just prepared for the evening meal. Rather unnerved at his narrow escape. and I coloured it with my own hand. John had scarcely seated himself on one of the benches which did duty as chairs. he loo ed round for some roadside shanty or inn where he might obtain a little refreshment. and the creature hung down as lifeless as before. exclaiming. A traveller on horsebac . now.' tied it in a double not to his stirrup-iron. after examining the reptile. that is extraordinary! My mate and I found it in an album which was in a small box lying by the roadside. curiously for a while. I missed it at once. 'I should li e to have a specimen of this species. now comes slowly into view. Our traveller (for it was no other than the John of the former part of our story. round you everywhere. Not far from this.' 'Well. overcome. which he still intended preserving. Fierce blasts of the fiery north wind speed across the plain. before it has time to escape. 'Yes. with true Australian hospitality. who seems to have retired here from the world to chuc le over its mista es and follies. seeing the sna e. had reared itself up and was about to ma e a dart at his left thigh. I was moving my furniture and things from one house to another. and 'bearded li e a pard') dismounted from his horse. but before long became aware that the sna e. an interminable plain. bordered with the most uncompromising of three-railed fences. in the distance. and soon saw the blue smo e of what proved to be a shepherd's log hut. it is the only li eness I ever had of my dead wife. to share the mutton. But stay! there is something else alive: in the dry grass beside the road a huge sna e is curled.
John Walton. it is the only li eness I ever had of her. as the ruins do imperial Rome. the loss of friends. * * * * * Some years now clapsed. through which the winds for ever moan the dead emperors who dwelt there. too it with him to Melbourne. The artist sat and s etched. In the morning six hens and two coc s were found lying in a bleeding heap on the dunghill. which. it is the li eness of such a pretty woman! Just for its beauty we put it there. the loss of hope. For success--and success Alma had obtained--is ever mingled with sorrow: the loss of youth. whatever land may claim him as her own. one bright spring day. on the right rose the complicated arches of the Palatine. was not idle meantime. which was the cause of the photograph's being found. and you must have it again. My wife gave it me when we were engaged. the white and graceful arch which commemorates the victory of Titus over the Jews crowned the nearest height. and absorbing. of her surroundings. of course. and had it put in a gold loc et. which he declared nothing on earth should ever induce him to part with. Around her were the gigantic ruins of the glorious past: bro en column and statue lay at her feet. The Capitol was behind her. cut the tiny head out. representing mediaeval. so much grandeur? What memories crowd around the very name! The history of the long centuries during which she has existed is all comprised within the one word--Rome! and the poet and the artist will ever turn to her lovingly. as artists generally are. But. blending the present with the past. the huge bul of the Colosseum filled an enormous space. while in the distance Monte Cavo and the Alban hills lay li e clouds upon the horizon. the melancholy spirit of the scene. and spent the night at the hut dilating over their pipes and nobblers on the merits of the lost wife. because we li ed to loo at it.' So the photograph returned to its original owner. But what made you stic it on the wall?' 'Oh. the stony road over which Caesar passed in triumph encircled its base.advertised and inquired everywhere without success. with its square tower. and the new lines of white Parisian-li e buildings the modern capital of the house of Savoy. above her towered the noble pillars which have been for ages the models and admiration of the world. enjoying the sweet spring air. Amid these sombre . almost unconsciously. overtopped by cypress trees. Here in the Forum. the church of Santa Francesca Romana. to the left. But the sna e.' 'I will give anything for it. a lady artist sat s etching. alone unchanged and unchangeable as when Rome was the mighty mistress of the world. Curiously enough. who made the shepherd a handsome present. and the nations stooped in chains at her feet.--perhaps failure and success are more nearly allied than we imagine. and she has been dead now more than two years. and the scene of our little story shifts far away--to no less a place than the imperial city of Rome itself. stung to death by the poisonous reptile. oblivious. a subject of which John Walton was never nown to tire. Where elsewhere on earth is such a scene? where such poetry. however. had safely decamped to the shelter of the neighbouring bush. it's yours. in order not to lose the valued picture again. as to the country which is by birthright his home. still occupies one end of the excavations of the Forum.
and one day I missed one of the stones. Walton?' At first the name startled the artist. but you. though her fame had not yet reached the remote part of the bush in which the Waltons resided. she loo ed for the photograph to return it. and told her tales of that wonderful place by the sea which fifty years ago was a handful of huts and tents. with no success. 'but is it--is it Miss Alma Lewis to whom I am spea ing?' 'Mr. and he valued this little relic of her. Nothing belonging to her was ever lost. more than all his floc s and stations. will be able to get the li eness--to do her justice.--it is fading. felt that she dared not tell him of the loss. who were the friend of her youth. Walton's repeated cautions. and this again carefully placed in a boo .' said John Walton. here or in eternity. turning round. 'what a fate there was about Caroline. After a few moments' conversation: 'Now I have found you. Finally. when the picture was done. which was put in an undirected envelope. She told of her life in the Schools of the Royal Academy. I saw something spar le in the hay in the bottom of a horse- . 'I beg your pardon. In vain! Knowing so well its value. I have only one photograph of her. A few months after. though so lovely and genial.' Alma felt a throb li e a nife go through her while he was spea ing. 'you must paint me a portrait of my dear lost Caroline. Walton! It is so long since I have seen you. the young artist promised to go to London with them and paint the wished-for portrait from the precious photograph (which was entrusted to her for the purpose). every box and drawer turned out. un nown face. remembering Mr. ta en out of the loc et in which it was ept. Many artists have tried and failed. she did not now her old friend had died many years ago. 'She gave me this diamond pin. I did not recognise you. inquiring glances in their eyes. her first gift and only portrait. and is now queen city of the South. One day. and. she searched and searched for it. saw a lady and gentleman standing there. So Alma came to London and painted the portrait successfully-successfully even in the eyes of the still adoring husband. had been pasted on a thin card. and the honour and competence she had won. it is the treasure I value most highly in the world. of whom.' They then passed on to other subjects.' he remar ed to Alma one day. of the medals she had gained. Alma related her struggles and successes. in the lapse of years. The tiny thing.--you can refresh your memory from that. John Walton also related how his wife had bequeathed her young children to the care of her friend.' 'So glad to see you again. was a surprise. They in their turn gave her news of the childish friends.' said the gentleman. and Alma. May I introduce Mrs. of her labours for many years unrewarded.meditations she suddenly felt her elbow touched. and the new. which were not a few. London. But ta e the greatest care of it. and new her so well. but always in vain--no trace could she discover. 'It is strange. for the bond which bound him to his first wife was of that ind which nows neither change nor diminution. The servants were examined. and her own recollections of her early friend. she had lost sight. the lady whom he had since married.
There is a charm about it. but her friend was a lady of minute observation. who new another chap. There are no sepulchres hewn in the mountain rampart surrounding a certain dried-up la e--probably the crater of an extinct volcano--familiar to my childhood. while she still hesitated. with the spectral white gums rising li e an army of ghosts around you. who had once in his . and the horses' hobbles clan ing cheerfully in the distance. Some night. it has again commenced its wanderings. where it still remains. The bushman will warm to his subject as readily as an Irishman to his banshee. and returned the photograph to the sender. unless. Had the letter been sent to a less careful person. So the little picture was carefully restored to its place in the loc et. it was the diamond! You remember the story I told you about the photograph. it might have been overloo ed or destroyed. There never were any fauns in the eucalyptus forests. as it bears a charm. No Australian traveller ever saw the Bunyip with his own eyes. nor any naiads in the running cree s. perhaps. again to be found. How could it have come there? Alma had put the letter to her friend in the blan envelope. she received a letter from a friend in Italy. and at length decided she could do it better by writing.trough. when you are sitting over a camp fire brewing quart-pot tea and smo ing store tobacco. which I found in a shepherd's hut more than two years after it was lost?' 'I do indeed. spoo . you will as one of the overlanding hands to tell you what he nows about the Bunyip. but Australia has nothing but her Bunyip.' said he. and pixie. No white man's hand has carved records of a poetic past on the grey volcanic-loo ing boulders that overshadow some lonely gullies which I now. It is the one respectable flesh-curdling horror of which Australia can boast. Nature and civilisation have been very niggard here in all that ma es romance. they have all the hazy uncertainty which usually envelops information of the legendary ind. and in it was what gave her more delight than anything else could possibly have done--the much-loved photograph.' replied Alma faintly. No mythological hero left behind him stories of wonder and enchantment. and which in truth suggests possibilities of a forgotten city of Kör. The old world has her tales of ghoul and vampire. But one day. perhaps. THE BUNYIP EVERY one who has lived in Australia has heard of the Bunyip. and to form. 'Well. which had fallen from the boo . Long she pondered how to brea the sorrowful news of her loss to him. with whom she had corresponded only since she had been in England. of Lorelei.' Poor Alma! that conversation cost her a mauvais quart-d'heure. 'I believe nothing that belonged to her ever was or will be lost. without being aware of its presence there. He will indignantly repel your insinuation that the Bunyip may be after all as mythical as Alice's Jabberwoc . and he will forthwith proceed to relate how a friend of his had a mate. indeed. the subject of another story. and though there are many stoc man's yarns and blac 's patters which have to do with this wonderful monster.
The blac s never will volunteer information about the Bunyip. and he deals out promiscuously benefits and calamities from the same hand. therefore. sin s to rise no more. No blac fellow will object to bathe in a river because of the Bunyip. For rivers and running cree s it appears to have an aversion. and those waters are from henceforth shunned. and a place to be avoided. but ma es its home in lagoons and still deep water-holes. Thus the stories of their superstitions must not be accepted too literally. it is generally understood that the Bunyip has got hold of him. and decline to dive for water-lily roots or some such delicacy dear to the aboriginal stomach. The Bunyip is the Australian sea-serpent. The Bunyip is said to be an amphibious animal. The blac s have an impish drollery and love of mischief. The water-hole may have been hitherto uncondemned by tradition. Ormuzd and Ahriman do not wor at opposite poles. may ill or cure a blac fellow according to his pleasure.life had a narrow escape from the Bunyip. In that case Debil-debil must be 'piallaed' (entreated) by the sic person to unbury the hair and cast it in the fire. a remar able contribution to natural history must be the result. plenty. and good fortune. the despoiled person will sic en and die as the hair rots away. and they delight in imposing on the credulity of their white auditors. and death or speedy recovery will be the consequence. though 'Debil-debil' in the abstract represents a much more indefinite source of danger. 'the other chap's' statements will seem curiously vague and contradictory. The medicine-man. According to the religious code of the Australian aboriginal. in common with many primitive nations. when the charm will be dissolved. only it differs from that much--disputed fact or fiction in that it does not inhabit the ocean. and if the details are to be accepted as they stand. and the blac s may choose to disport themselves in it. seized with cramp or enmeshed in weeds. and the particular water-hole in which the monster is supposed to live becomes more than ever an object of terror. not only for plague. The natives have a superstition. and buries it in the ground beneath a gum tree. A medicine--man professing to be in confidential communication with Debil-debil. and is variously described: sometimes as a gigantic sna e. 'Debildebil' is a convenient way of accounting. it may safely be loo ed upon as genuine. has but to assure his patient that Debil-debil has refused or acceded to his request. on the plea that 'Debil-debil sit down there. and has a far wider scope of action than most mythological deities. When a blac fellow disappears. but combine and concentrate themselves under one symbol. nor has his mate. He himself has never set eyes upon the Bunyip. When facts come to be boiled down. But it is certain that when they show a distinct reticence in regard to any reputed article of faith. and disaster. sic ness. but if one of them. but also for peace. but he will sha e his woolly head mysteriously over many an innocent-loo ing water-hole. however. that if an enemy possesses himself of a loc of hair from the head of one to whom he wishes ill. but there is not the smallest doubt that the other chap has seen it. the terrible cry of 'Bunyip' goes forth. it has always to be dragged out of them. The supremacy of Debil-debil is uncontested. and had actually beheld it-and in a certain lagoon not a hundred miles from where you are squatting.' Debil-debil and Bunyip are synonymous terms with the blac fellow while he is on the ban of a lagoon. sometimes as a species of .
is a lagoon that we all new well. though I confess to many an anxious shudder. to be seen no more. in others nothing but marsh. awesome. and which used to furnish my brothers with many a brace of wild-fowl for our bush larder. crossed with blac stripes. and utter a strange moaning cry li e that of a child or a woman in pain. and to spread a deadly influence for some space around. the creepy feeling which would come over us as we trod along by the blac water with dar slimy logs slanting into it. and without sound or struggle the victim disappears. they say. so deafening are the shrill cries of the birds which brood over the swamp. But it is also said to be something more than animal. uncanny feeling which creeps over a company at night when the Bunyip becomes the subject of conversation. the place was so wild and eeric and solitary.rhinoceros. There is a theory that water is a powerful conductor for the ind of electricity it gives out. We were travelling once up country. has been seen to rise partially from the blac water which it loves. The wildduc is so numerous in places that a gun fired ma es the air blac . its body yellow. had been started some days previously. used to draw me there. with a smooth pulpy s in and a head li e that of a calf. the faint shivering sound made by the spi y leaves of the swamp-oa . and in some districts it is very difficult to persuade a blac fellow to venture into such a place. in some parts very deep. which was assuredly not the magnetic attraction of the Bunyip. The dray.--all these. and a certain magnetic atmosphere supposed to envelop the creature. the melancholy call of the curlews. were indescribably uncanny and fascinating. but a lagoon lying amid swamp has always an evil reputation. the swishing of the duc s' wings when they rose suddenly in the distance. This lagoon is about four miles long. brea ing the silence and loneliness of the night. According to legend. A curious fascination. the flapping of the she-oa s' scaly bar . the queer gurgling 'grrur-urr-r' of an opossum up a gum tree. I li ed nothing better than to go with my brother on moonlight nights when he went down there with his gun over his shoulder to get a shot at wild-duc . One of the most famous haunts of the Bunyip. and reeds and moist twigs and fat marsh plants giving way under our footsteps. and only very rarely. and appealed so strongly to my imagination. and among its supernatural attributes is the cold. when I found myself at dus wal ing by the ban s of the lagoon.--and had arranged to camp out one night. but I am bound to say that during these expeditions we never saw a sign of the Bunyip. though I never could really authenticate one of them. was quite a luxurious terror. loaded with stores and furniture for the new home to which we were bound.--my brother Jo and I. and when sufficiently near. and that a pool with dry abrupt ban s and no outlying morass is tolerably safe to drin from or to camp by. and to having stopped and switched a stic behind me in order to ma e sure that all was right. and always at night. there being no station or house of accommodation on the stage at which we could put up. sometimes as a huge pig. is particularly dwelt upon. There were such strange noises. and we had agreed to meet the We were none of us very much afraid of the Bunyip. will draw man or beast down to the water and suc the body under. . It is silent and stealthy. rendering even its vicinity dangerous. and it is impossible to hear oneself spea . with swamp-oa s and ti-trees and ghostly white-bar ed she-oa s growing thic ly in the shallow water. it attracts its prey by means of this mysterious emanation. round which all sorts of stories gathered.
across which a faint breeze blew. or the sighing of the she-oa s. and where we could see. and one could almost fancy that the horrible monster was casting its magnetic spell upon us from the dar swamp close by. We had eaten our meal of beef and hot Johnny-ca es all together by the dray. the priest from the township. which after having been bent double all day was a feat he might be proud of. and the heat was overpowering. the chattering of parrots and laughing-jac asses.drivers at a certain small lagoon. was mixing Johnny-ca es on a piece of newly-cut bar . or the weird 'poomp' of the bulloc bells--the tal got on to eerie things. as the sun set. at the foot of a distant ridge. and as night closed in and the stars shone out. densely covered with jungle--li e scrub. We were riding. in their bright Crimean shirts and rough moles in trousers and broad--brimmed cabbage-tree hats. and from the authentic story of Fisher's Ghost it was an easy transition to the Bunyip and all its super-natural horrors. smo ing their pipes and drin ing quart-pot tea. and as we tal ed a sort of chill seemed to creep over us. and we were unable to carry any convenience for spending a night in the bush. who had come over to see the shearing in full swing. as they lounged in easy attitudes. their white lan y stems standing out against the dar er bac ground of ridge. when it was discovered that the billys . or the wind across the plain. and covered with a huge tarpaulin that hung all round it li e a tent. and there was something stri ing about the appearance of the men. deep and blac where the ban s were high. and camp there under the dray tarpaulin. It was a relief to the heat and monotony. The deafening noise of the forest was in strange contrast to the night silence and loneliness of the lagoon I have described. while they waxed communicative under the influence of a nip of grog. nown as the One-eyed Water-hole. the scene became more and more picturesque. They were telling shearing stories--how Paddy Mac and Long Charlie had had a bet as to which could shear a sheep the fastest. After a bit. when. how Father Flaherty. how at the word 'off' the shears slashed down through the wool. which had been served out to them apiece.eeper to a party of shearers. timed them by his watch. my brother driving a pair of pac -horses with our swags. who had been hut. and the other a second and a half later. widened out at the lower end into a swamp of sheoa s. Some of the others had cut tufts from the grass trees on the ridge. Very soon we were all comfortably camped. and strewn them on the earth under the dray for us to lie upon. we left the timbered ridges and came down upon a plain. and on his way from the wool shed to the hut jump over a four foot-six post and rail fence. the cawing of coc atoos and scuttling of iguanas through the coarse dry blady grass. The red gum oozed from the iron-bar trees and fell in great drops li e blood. and how the quic est man sheared his sheep in less than a minute. loaded high. the One-eyed Water-hole and our dray beside it. Our fire had been lighted a few yards away from the lagoon. ready for ba ing when the logs had burnt down into ashes and embers. and Mic . which. Most of the men had some Bunyip tale to relate. It was the month of November. The men were busy ma ing a fire and watering the bulloc s. Then somehow--perhaps it was the wildness and loneliness of the place. They had got down their blan ets and the rations and tin billys and quart pots from the dray. Then Mic had to tell of a man who used to shear his hundred and twenty sheep in the day. All the sounds were harsh and grating--the whirring of grasshoppers and locusts.
and not quite li ing to confess our tremors. and was beginning once more. Long Charlie. than it had been before. horrible cry from the lagoon--yes. and caught us 'Well. it swelled into a louder. Don't be fun y of the Bunyip. and that we wanted more water to ma e some fresh tea. and never pulled up out of a gallop till he had got over the range and was at the "Coffin Lid" public. we could not tell whence--a wild. more certain.--and he just clapped spurs into his old yarraman (horse). which at first seemed scarcely human. when one of the men exclaimed nervously. I don't now much about the thing myself--never had no Bunyip experiences myself. no one seemed inclined to go down to the lagoon to fetch it. what's that?' 'Wallabi bogged. Charlie. that shrouded completely the less lofty and more straggling branches of the ti-trees. and stopped Long Charlie a second time. Beginning low. if Gemmel Dic ain't the most'-- .' He darted down towards the swamp.' pronounced Long Charlie oracularly. You as old Darby Magrath if he'd li e to camp down by the swamp of the One-eyed Water-hole all night by himself. or of a child in dire distress and agony.--a ind of sound li e a baby moaning. The horse was all dripping with sweat. ta ing out his pipe in preparation for a blood-curdling yarn and then stopping suddenly. a sort of hoarse muffled groan. We all started and loo ed anxiously at each other. I remember Darby telling me that when he was riding across this plain one night after shearing.' said my brother Jo excitedly. but which. waiting until it came again. It must be said that we were not deterred at that moment by any thought of the Bunyip and its supernatural atmosphere. thrilling sound. struc my heart as if it were the cry of some dying animal. It was more prolonged. Come along. shriller note. said slowly. but unless Gemmel Dic is the most almighty liar'--began Long Charlie. The rest of us followed him closely. which lay some little distance from our camp. and Mic .-'Begorra.-'Say.-- But that strange.were empty. and poor old Darby as white as a corpse. we must loo out here for the Bunyip. Darby says he felt cold all through his bones.' 'Well. and then a queer sort of noise came up from the water. you fellows. ta ing a firestic to light his pipe. for at that moment there came a curious sound from the lagoon. waited to detach a rough lantern which hung from one of the staples of the dray. as I was telling you. the dar heads of the she-oa s rising above a thic veil of white mist. 'That's some free-selector's id lost in the bush. Every one of us rose. 'By Jove! I'll tell you what I believe it is. his horse stopped of a sudden and trembled all over under him--just li e a bulloc in the illing yard when you drop the spear into his nec . it must come from the swamp end of the lagoon--bro e the night silence again. or the plains to our left. or the swamp. the most practical of the party. five miles on. when repeated after the interval of a moment or two. which we at once imagined might be the strained bro en coo-ee of a child in pain or terror.
s irting the scrub and ma ing for the head of the lagoon. and hus y croa s. Here was dense. We waited for a minute or two. and we shivered as the slimy ooze mounted over our insteps and tric led down through our boots. which had been trodden into deep odd-shaped ruts by the cattle coming down to drin . so misleading and fitful and will-o'-the-wisp-li e was the sound. and guided us on. and stealthy glidings and swishings. 'I believe it was the Bunyip after all. It's all nonsense about the little 'un.' Long Charlie flashed his lantern along the wall of green. I don't now how we got through the deeper part of the swamp without getting begged. but we did at last.up as we reached the borders of the swamp. It was a dreary. 'Loo out for sna es. uncanny place. we wal ed as well as we could. rough boulders were lying pellmell at the foot of the ridge. I ain't going to cross that swamp again. We could hear the soft ' --sssh' of the displaced water. for the cry had ceased. gave way at every step. which shoo their scented bottle-brush blossoms in our faces. and the dead silence of the scrub was li e that of the grave. sent a shaft of light down through the opening. 'And don't all of us be coo-eeing all the time. while the pulpy rushes sprang bac as we forced ourselves through. and creepers hung in withes from the trees. Coo-eeing loudly. and showed . and presently the wail sounded again. You might brea a leg before you new it.-'Hello! Loo out! It's a gully--pretty deep. and in places impenetrable foliage. stifled hissings. with great thorns that tore our hands and our clothes. and reached the scrub that straggled down to the water's edge. We did not now which way to turn. it was impossible to determine whence it came. stumbling over stones and logs. and. a narrow trac piercing the heart of the scrub.' said Mic . but it did not come again. now from our left. Suddenly the moon. and then a wider brea . which had risen while we were in the swamp. Keep along up the trac .' said Long Charlie. now from the very depths of the lagoon. or when the little chap sings out we shan't be able to hear him. we fancied. flourishing his lantern.' We stopped coo-eeing. and urging us to greater energy. fainter and more despairing. waiting to let Long Charlie go first with his lantern. with a shudder. not a child nor a grown man or beast could have forced theirselves down here. and struc our hands with clammy touch. The sound had ceased now. I shall head the lagoon. straining our ears for the voice that had led us hither. Under our feet. the ground. we peered through the cold clinging mist among the brown twisted branches of the ti-trees.' We ept along up the trac . and now from the scrub on the ridge beyond. and even through our coo-ees the night that had seemed so silent on the plain was here full of ghostly noises. 'And loo here. Though we tried to move in the direction of the voice. At last there came a brea in the jungle. and a warning cry from Long Charlie in advance. and once it sounded faint but thrillingly plaintive. Now it seemed to come from our right. We paused every now and then. and unexpected gurglings and rustlings.
where the trac widened out and then stopped altogether. It gave one a strange creepy feeling to see this huge white thing rising up so solemnly in the midst of the gloom and the solitude. we pressed up the ridge side. was sobbing too. reports the discovery of a real Bunyip in the Eumeralia. Baxter was fishing in the Eumeralia.-'It's Nancy--little Nancy--Sam Duffy's girl from the "Coffin Lid. in the centre of which stood a great white bottle tree. says: 'A stoc man in the employ of Mr. or little Nancy's ghost. and quantongs and things. Williams. under date August 1st of that year. its trun perfectly bare. in a deep. There was something else white on the grass--something almost the same shape as the bottle tree lying across at its foot.' 'A Mr. and with a swift. awe-stric en voice.' 'She wur so fond of loo ing for chuc ie-chuc ies in the scrub. which uncoiled itself.' And then Mic . And she might have nowed. nor blac s. and he shifted his lantern so that its gleam fell athwart the white prostrate form and upon a sna e. I've heard her say that--poor little Nancy!-always smiling when she carried a chap out a nobbler.-'By God! that beats me. cried. long nec . nor nothing. It seemed to us. The moon was dim for a moment or two. brown and shiny and scaly and horrible. as though we could hear each other's hearts beating. It was headed 'The Bunyip again.--she wasn't afraid of sna es. and loo ing in its fantastic shape li e a sentinel spectre. an enormous mouth. I came across the following paragraph.us. then a hoarse smothered ejaculation burst from Long Charlie's lips. wavy motion disappeared into the depths of the scrub. of Port Fairy. they all seemed to now and love the . Paddy Mac child. The men were too horrified to utter a sound. a tiny plateau. Mr. the child had been dead some hours. I'd have got 'em for her. poor little Nancy! that if she wanted quantongs. I went with the stoc man the next day. when he was suddenly startled by what he at first imagined to be a huge blac fellow swimming in the river. and didn't I string her a nec lace only last shearing! But she was always a child for roaming. and they declared that the cry we heard must have been the Bunyip. apparently furnished with a formidable set of teeth. and was fortunate enough to get a good view of him. a little way ahead. a correspondent of the Portland Gazette. bulging out in the centre li e a garment swelled by the wind. R. He was of a brownish colour. 1 While loo ing through files of the Sydney Morning Herald for 1848. and as he spo e the moon shone forth again. W. And now the bell-bird has rung her home. and that it seemed to be always calling her. but which I thin must be the Bunyip. Nobody spo e." and it was only the other day she came out and served me with a nobbler. At last Long Charlie said. they said. They couldn't believe it was that sna e which had bitten her. with a head something the shape of a angaroo.' Long Charlie only said again.-she said she li ed to hear the bell-bird call. with a sob in his brawny throat. 'That beats me. we said afterwards.' They couldn't account for it. moving a little nearer.
so at last I made up my mind to try if Fortune would not be inder to me in the old country. And as to my living alone. had come bac to Melbourne with the silver medal of the Royal Academy and two years' experience of one of the most reputed studios in Rome. boo s. who. evil would have been those days in which I hoped and struggled and grew sic and weary of it all.' who gushed over this 'bit' or 'that study. I hardly new what to do with it. all the world over.covered with a shaggy mane which reached halfway down his bac . had alighted. I was in such a feverish state of unrest and impatience to be gone. A young man on horsebac . The Dead Model I SUPPOSE it will ever be true. I had hoped it might have been otherwise in my case. and the response-'Yessir. The hotel was deserted that morning. The last day but two had arrived. When my spirit was not stung by injustice of this ind. his weight must be fully equal to that of a very large bulloc . and was giving both horses in charge to one of the inevitable stable-boys. lounging idly on the verandah. so that we could not get a full view of him. and I could almost fancy I heard my own name inquired for. seem to spring out of the ground at the first sound of a horse's hoof in the distance. cert'nly. A waiter was also to the fore. and could not afford to pay a companion. and that mine might have been proud of me. and although a strict watch has since been ept. but it is hoped that the exertions now being made by Mr. and very blac eyebrows and eyelashes. Baxter to catch him will be crowned with success. But no. and then hoped again and struggled on. but if one may judge by what was seen. I became suddenly aware of an arrival. having sold all I possessed--furniture. THE TRAGEDY IN A STUDIO Part I. he has never again been seen. engaged a passage in a ship that was leaving a wee from that time. On trying to get a closer examination. he too alarm and immediately disappeared. I had absolutely no relations.'--ED. The people who made a lounge of the studio on my 'days. it was depressed by indifference. his hind quarters were under water. short as was the time that lay before me. Who shall I say?' . which perhaps did form a rather remar able contrast to a face of ivory pallor. and was so peculiar-loo ing.' never so much as bought a s etch. that one cannot be a prophet in one's own country. Other people who did not come to my studio said they really 'couldn't countenance a girl who lived alone. and. and had it not been for literary wor in the magazines and newspapers. and a rare portrait. pictures--for whatever they would fetch. but. who. the Australian-taught girl artist. but. after having gone 'home' for three years' study. I too my wellnigh worn-out courage into my wearied hands.' my dress being of the plainest and simplest ind. everybody was on Flemington racecourse. the said 'peculiarity' could only be laid to the score of bright chestnut hair. leading a lady's saddle-horse by the bridle.
' I paused with my hand on the door handle. Dic Alston. tremulous hand. and bring your painting things with you--that is all. I neither new the name that was announced--Alston--nor the person to whom it belonged. 'I am very sorry. manly writing. and the question forming itself on my lips--'When?' 'The day after to-morrow. I thin I had made up my mind even before I had come to the signature. Than God! You can't thin how he has set his heart on having her picture. I entreat you to come without delay. MORDAUNT. I thin . poor little darling! I started almost directly.' I don't thin I hesitated. my only child. and my unexpected visitor entered.' . is lying dead. 'You are coming. sunburnt young fellow of about four-and-twenty. I don't thin he could have let her go. loo ing li e any other twenty of his fellows after a long ride from some probably remote station. pitiful loo of a wounded animal patiently bearing a pain it can neither realise nor understand. will you not? I now you will come. Miss Challis. As I loo ed up I saw that Dic Alston had been watching me while I read. perhaps you are not aware that I am sailing the day after to-morrow for England?' 'And you don't even now who I am.--will bring you bac with him and will ta e every care of you. became a certainty as the door of the room was flung open. In the name of woman's charity I beseech you to come and paint her for her heart-bro en father. The bearer. This is what I read:-'You will probably have heard of me--Mordaunt of Telemon. He had seen the li eness you painted last year of Judge Haughton's daughter. as if the palsied hand of age had held the pen. for his first words were. and a light tweed suit dusty from riding. But I shall never forget the expression that met my gaze as his eyes loo ed into mine--the depth of sadness. My daughter. She died at dawn. Now he sprang up and followed me as I moved towards the door of the inner chamber.The doubt.' I too the twisted slip of paper he held out to me with an unsteady. I see.-'You will come with me. Miss Challis-I have a letter with me that will explain. Please put on your habit. a strong. Can you get ready at once? I have a lady's saddle-horse at the door. It suddenly came across him that it would be a comfort. the hurt.--my son who might have been. P. his hand nervously grasping the arm of the chair. was sha y. however. and motioned to a chair. but for this. in high boots. into which he threw himself heavily with a long-drawn breath of fatigue or emotion. But I quite forgot.' The abrupt strangeness of the request did not seem to stri e me. that should have been so firm and strong. I am afraid it is impossible. My woman's sympathy must have made itself outwardly visible. Every letter of the bold. and I answered in a natural manner.
To this conclusion jumped my travelled nowledge. and were fully aware of the fact that they were returning homewards. but I saw that he was in a condition of feverish impatience to be bac that was almost unendurable. He spo e of a motherless and only child. I thin you ought to now something about us all. And thus it happened that I. perhaps for ever. and turning to the stranger who entered its gates from another world of which she new nothing--a man who had lived--who had the curious attraction that world--worn. a doting old nurse. Magdalen Challis. 'Poor brute!' said Dic Alston at last. I am afraid I should not be doing so now. In this he acquiesced. or to appear inquisitive. with occasional stoppages.-'It's real good of you. and although the horses had had a short rest. for he suddenly emerged from his gloomy musings to say. petted and spoilt by a tender father. And then. she was evidently used to a lighter hand. this morning. as can well be imagined. yet we rode but slowly. started on an expedition to an un nown place with a perfect stranger.' Thus it happened that by degrees I was able to piece together and connect the story that Dic Alston told me.' I suggested that in any case we could not expect to arrive at our destination before nightfall. * * * * * After first starting off. and. for a man I had never heard of. This thought must also have occurred to the young fellow himself. and it seemed to me that in the telling of it the young fellow's love idealized and glorified the poor little heroine who was wea enough to let herself die. and I should not be able to set myself to my pitiful tas until the morning. but while anxious not to intrude upon a great grief. 'I didn't spare him riding in. Miss Challis. tiring of her Paradise. but for you. to have come straight off li e this on this miserable errand. My own feelings were the reverse of pleasant. something as natural as the trees and flowers and the sunlight. It was nothing very new after all. a devoted young lover--ta ing all the affection that was lavished on her as a right. on the very eve of my departure from my native land. A thirty miles' journey lay before us. and I left him without another word to ma e my slight preparations. travel-stained wayfarers of his ind possess for such Eves in their innocent ignorance. and probably to a far lighter weight than mine. and not to have as ed any questions either. and selfish enough to brea the hearts of two men who loved her for an intangible and visionary fancy based on no foundation.The young fellow spo e with a strangled sob in his throat. for the purpose of painting the picture of a dead girl I had never seen. and my companion's animal began to show signs of distress. we rode side by side for about a couple of hours in almost unbro en silence. Miss Challis. and poor little Lily. The pretty little mare on which I was mounted fretted and chafed at an unaccustomed touch. I yet felt I had been thrust into a position in this sad drama in which a natural and legitimate interest in my fellow-actors could hardly be misconstrued into mere curiosity. .
' she said. and I daresay you will be glad afterwards of rest. 'Poor little girl! Buried on her birthday. when a little restored by the wine and bread and fruit of which I had parta en (I could eat nothing else). half to himself.--only eighteen. and the rest of the ride was accomplished in silence.' The young fellow bro e off with a shudder. sold out of his regiment. You must be faint and very tired. But he made no friends on the station. and sent his love to the Australian lily.' .--and I was waiting for that day!' He said no more. and pleased to be taught little Italian songs.But. in bro en sentences. 'You are very ind. But you must eat. and there would be just time for the messenger to ride bac with some things he specified. his own simile had conjured up a painful picture. We heard that Gordon had inherited a property and changed his name. I will bring you some refreshment here. I new that in imagination he heard the sound of the nails being driven into his dead love's coffin. so that he should not be quite forgotten. 'The day after to-morrow. bac ed bills too. Miss Challis. and even too off my habit body.' he went on. That was the finishing stro e--the last nail that went home. Young Alston said something about loo ing after the horses. and to have poetry read to her. 'and I thin I would li e to go to bed directly. and ushered me into the house. and always seemed as if he thought himself rather superior to all of us other fellows. replacing it by a white dressing-jac et which she threw over my shoulders. Mordaunt for much courtesy and indness. he sent bac a hurried note to say important family affairs called him bac to England at once. 'I don't now that Gordon was what you would have called a bad fellow. I felt unutterably weary. I submitted without a word to her ind ministrations. Mind you. and would perhaps sometimes read over the pieces they had read together.--that a vessel was leaving the next morning. elderly serving-woman who had come forward. But one day when he had ridden into town for the mail letters. just even to a rival. said honest Dic Alston.' She removed my hat. who had shipped him off to Australia--there was nothing worse against him than that. drawing up a table by the side of the chair. 'You must not expect to see the master. and from that moment Lily drooped and pined li e a bro en flower. he didn't set about deliberately to brea her heart. She was to eep his Browning. and the rest of his belongings might be distributed among the station hands. Her father and I hadn't perhaps treated her li e a grown-up woman. and displeased his father. and almost fell prone on the threshold as I dismounted. physically worn out. He than ed Mr. and a wee since news came out of his marriage. on which she set a cold repast. but spurred on his tired horse. I was waiting till she was eighteen to as her to marry me. He had been extravagant. I don't thin he ever made actual love to her. young lady. bathed my face and hands. and she waited upon me where I sat. Dar ness had fallen li e a pall by the time we reached our destination.' I said at last. And Lily was flattered by his notice of her. and handed me over to a grave. 'he will not leave the child to-night. and even if he new he was turning her little head. That was six months ago.
said simply. had somewhat excited and fatigued me. with downcast eyes which feared what they might see when their gaze should be raised and concentrated. She bec oned me to her side. After I was dressed and had parta en of some brea fast. 'If you are ready. Miss Challis. white-robed form over which the nurse was bending. Then came this unexpected and extraordinary summons. I saw the nurse was no longer there. which was open to the verandah. my own preparations for departure and leave-ta ings. A lily indeed! On earth. of the heavy scent of flowers. Slowly at last I loo ed up as I stood by the side of it. I could see. and the only room in which I had hitherto been was on the ground-floor. and shall be within call of you. now one of Heaven's angels! * * * * * I had never loo ed on Death before. I will ta e you to Lily. nameless terrors and never dreamt of such calmly beautiful repose. but she was bearing her grief quietly.' Great tears welled up into her eyes and tric led down her chee s as she mentioned the girl's name. such pure and passionless peace. 'and I shall not be long without loo ing in. I had feared his un nown. At any rate. to restrain as far as possible any outward demonstration of it. Try to sleep. I am Lily's old nurse. She pointed to a little slip of a dressing-room partitioned off it. Miss Challis. The bed was empty. Miss Challis. and unbro en sleep. It was not until some moments later that I realized where I was. I had been in a state of unrest for days past. Almost as soon as my head touched the pillow I slept--a profound. orphan though I was. of cool-loo ing chintz coverings and draperies. love's sweet virgin martyr. I followed mechanically. I became conscious of details--of matting on the floor. and I loo ed for the first time upon my dead model. almost in spite of myself. of a white bed facing the door. into which she entered reverentially.It was a bedroom into which she had brought me. but now the nurse preceded me up a flight of shallow stairs.' and she wished me good--night and left me.' she said. When I awo e it was seven o'cloc in the morning of the next day. though causing no heart-pangs. and was endeavouring. 'You will find all you may require. Without loo ing. as into a church. and new that the time had come I must set myself to the tas which had to be begun and completed day. lay a frail. who had again waited on me. the nurse. When that when that I was at last able to turn away from my contemplation. dreamless. . and quietly opened the door of a room. And peace fell upon me as I loo ed. But on a couch by the window. 'I am sleeping there.' * * * * * It was a one-storied house. and for what purpose. I was too wearied to thin either of myself or others. Perhaps the exhausting ride of the day had been the best thing that could have happened to quiet and calm me.
. and. They fell chill and wet on my own warm hands. not being able to leave. I must have been at wor for several hours when the nurse came in. And then fell the sudden Australian twilight. I was probably away about half-an-hour. I could fancy that I saw her blueveined eyelids quiver--that her long lashes trembled on her waxen chee --surely a faint. whose face I hardly dared to loo at. An overseer 'who could be trusted' was to be my escort bac to Melbourne. I fell across the couch. On the edge of the couch a boo was lying. I remember no more. and resumed my tas . clad in some soft white woollen garment. as I returned. All through the long ride from the station--a solitary one to all intents and purposes of companionship. and buried my face in my hands.I felt relieved that none of the ghastly paraphernalia of the grave surrounded the girl. I did not need to loo at it to now that it was the Browning. and a mass of white flowers strewn over it. a crimson shawl of China crape was thrown lightly across her nees and feet. over which had been spread a large opossum rug. and then the stillness was bro en by the painful sound of a man's sobs.. of course. and my beating heart ept time to the sound. and with a haunting memory at my heart that will never depart from it. I painted quic ly. I saw Dic Alston for a few moments only. I could hear the soft pit-a-pat of falling raindrops. and I bent forward trembling to wipe them off. * * * * * The next day at an early hour I left Telemon with Mr. and a breeze sprang up. in the quiet but decided manner which she had adopted with me from the beginning. and blew the muslin window drapery across my face. Such was the picture that I saw and painted. and had almost reached the top of the short staircase. they fell on those other cold ones. my escort either preceding or riding behind me in . in which he acted as messenger for the host whom I was not to see at all. wan smile was flic ering over her mouth! I threw down my brush. at first calmly and steadfastly enough. The sunlight that filtered through a trellis of leaves on the verandah seemed to cast strange shadows over Lily's face. who. With a sudden desperation I seized my brushes again. as the funeral was to ta e place that afternoon. was lying on the couch. Horror! what did I see? Tears on the dead face! The ground seemed to give way beneath me. which seemed to have just slipped from her grasp. some one passed from that room into another of which the door was quietly but quic ly closed. * * * * * I felt unnerved as I sat down again to my wor . with hurried glances at the motionless form. Mordaunt's cheque for £500 in my note-boo . I felt myself sway and stagger. and cast a shower of drops around. I thin I must have remained long in that position. Dic Alston. insisted on my leaving off for a time to ta e the food which she had prepared for me in the room downstairs. feverishly. and one might have imagined she had fallen asleep while reading it. for it seemed to me when I once more raised my head that the room had grown almost dar . Then the wet leaves of a shrub on the verandah swung in at the window.
silence--I could thin of nothing but Dic Alston's words: 'Buried on her birthday. wet leaves blown in at an open casement. and people coming on board to loo after their friends amongst all the indescribable bustle and commotion of greetings and collection of luggage. When the Storm-King arrived in the doc s. Magdalen Challis. accompanied by low fever. with an involuntary perversion of its meaning that I was powerless to prevent. A girl with closed eyes lying on a couch. impelling me to perpetuate it by an outward and visible sign that should abide with me. Who should deliver me from an undying remembrance of death itself? Who shall brea the lin that must ever bind me living to the dead girl buried on my birthday? The thought pursued and remained with me even on board the ship that was to bear me away to new scenes and a new life. or those of any other human being. etc. and my heart san with a vague fore-boding of disaster that should result to me from the association. by a curious coincidence. her brown hair spread out upon the pillow. and quite incapable of deciding for myself. till at first a faint s etch outlined itself on the canvas. poor little girl! Buried on her birthday!' For. however. had finally resolved itself into what was to be done with me? With me. The question. and then the contours filled themselves in with all those accessories and details that seemed burnt in on my mental vision. I was unable to stand. 'What the matter with the pale lady. listening to the discussion as if it concerned somebody else! And the ship was actually in. a boo fallen from a nerveless grasp. now lying there in her dec chair. white flowers on a crimson covering. who were standing close to my chair while waiting for their precious consignment. mamma?' . that strong and self-reliant young woman. or even of giving directions as to my destination. I remembered that it was my birthday too. Idly my gaze rested on a lady who had come on board with a lovely petted little daughter. and prevent me forgetting if I would. and caught a loo of wonderment in the big blue eyes that were fixed upon myself. The Veiled Picture MY nervous system had received a shoc which resulted in an attac of utter prostration. In the seclusion of my cabin it forced pencil and brushes into my unwilling fingers. was suddenly roused and centred in the pretty English mother and child. I saw the little one clutch at her mother's dress to arrest her attention. 'Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?' was the cry that rose unbidden to my lips. to fetch and bring away her 'very own self' the ing-parrot and yellowcrested coc atoo that some ind Australian friend had sent out to the little girl. white chee s--tears escaping from the closed waxen eyelids! Part II. and had rather shrun from well-intentioned proffers of assistance and counsel. The interest which I had ceased to feel in myself and my own concerns. It too tangible shape and action. I had made no friends on the passage. and always tears--tears on the wan.
but I don't now a soul in London. * * * * * Yes--not only had Fame stooped to place her chaplet on my brows. Two anniversaries had come and gone with no special event to mar them. 'I have been very ill. I was never again quite the same woman I had been before the terrible ordeal which had so nearly overthrown my mental balance. Between them they had led me to the feast. and had led me through pleasant paths to a pinnacle of success. Love held out to me the cup of rich red wine. From the day in which I had ta en my studio in Chelsea. a woman of ample means. that I had hardly finished spea ing that day on board when I fell bac fainting in my chair. the third was not far off. to come there also. nor even where to go. In my wildest visions of success I had never aspired to such a position as the one in which I found myself on the eve of my twenty-fifth birthday. famous and envied. and herself to nurse me bac to the health and vigour of which I had been so proud. and while the pungent perfume of Fame's incense clung with subtle fragrance to my garments and my hair.'Hush. and which. and ta en my hand in his. and could not divest myself of the foreboding that some tragic result to myself was yet to follow the chance connection of my own birthday with hers on the day of her burial. but Love had issed me on the mouth. * * * * * Fortune meanwhile had been most ind.' But the eyes of the spea er were turned upon me too. everything had prospered with me. beautiful and beloved. but for this sisterly hand stretched out in the hour of need. who new who I was. Lucy! it is rude to ma e remar s about people. A sudden impulse moved me to spea . Lily--buried on her birthday!' * * * * * . I was for ever haunted by the remembrance of my dead model. But though my splendid health and strength of body in time returned to me. Rivers held a hurried consultation with the doctor and the captain.' I new afterwards. and a pale finger wrote upon the wall--'Lily. of which I dran deep draughts till the thrill of life ran through me to my finger-tips. 'Twas in this supreme moment that a formless shadow cast its gloom athwart the brilliant sunlight. and I read a sweet soft pity in them. Mrs. admired and feted.--and carried me off then and there to lodgings that she new of in a Surrey farmhouse.--the latter. and the parrot and coc atoo became a mere secondary consideration. being thus in a position to vouch for my respectability. just as I had read the wondering indifference of childhood in those of her little girl.' I said. giving up the rest of the season. 'I am alone on board--I have money. Lily. where stood a flower-crowned temple of happiness of which she had given me the ey. The lady will hear you. I might never otherwise have regained. with all her engagements. when little Lucy's mother had become my one dear woman friend in the great world of London.
A devil had been cast out of me. help me to ma e your pleasant studio bright again. wax candles burning on a table with a blac velvet covering that stood in front of the easel. I must own that it is all so very realistic. womanish tears! Una wisely did not attempt to chec them. all my morbid imaginings were dispelled.' We extinguished the tapers and let in the sunlight. and the horrible. while I was spea ing. I had passed through fire with a spectre which was consumed while I was saved. haunting. I venture to say. unconsciously. Oh. girdled with a sash of deep violet. and forced myself to gaze upon the dead girl. vanished li e the troubled memory of a dream. close clasp. she just held my hand in a firm. but by degrees. I had never before spo en of it to any human being: at the outset. too. but from its ashes had arisen an angel. the relief of those blessed. peace returned to my heart. Thus did Una Rivers find me.' For sole answer. Myself in white. and what new and startling picture does it portend? I did not now that artists "composed" in this way. After a moment's pause of bewildered surprise. what frea is this. Rivers' busy little fingers to mingle with the white waxen scented blossoms. formless dread which I had so long cherished. wea . with the sweet face of a mortal woman. come.That anniversary had now returned for the third time. were ruthlessly pluc ed by Mrs. and I had nerved myself to meet and celebrate it as usual. I trust. I suddenly bro e into a passion of hysteric weeping. white flowers everywhere. that I felt almost alarmed for a moment. quite Toscaish. The studio was transformed into a ind of chapelle ardente. I felt as if I were committing sacrilege in doing so now. the blinds drawn close. I offered up a propitiatory sacrifice. 'Why. Shut up within my studio. even that will pass away. let us both set to wor to alter all this gloomy mise en scène. who. Magdalen. offering up my sacrifice to--whom or what--I new not. Magdalen dearest. will become to you a sad memory. The easel was . the sacrifice of one of those bright days of life that are all too few and short--one whole day! Ta ing from its resting-place the picture which I ept jealously hidden all the year from my own eyes as well as from those of others. the vivid scarlet geraniums and yellow calccolarias. I reverentially withdrew the crape that veiled it. 'You are yourself again. and nothing more. By degrees. seemed to influence and mar the life which had never so much as touched the fringe of hers. all light as far as possible excluded. the blac velvet pall was replaced by a bright striped Algerian cloth. and even the blooms of my balcony plants. in fact. and after a time I was myself again. and able to tell her the story of the picture. that my orders to admit no one had probably not been considered to include herself.--that story which for those three years had veritably held me bound and enchained under a ind of demoniac possession. She had been of late such a frequent visitor. who held my hand in hers and smiled upon me as she wiped away my tears. and for a beginning. This terrible experience. and let the fit exhaust itself. but which she had enchained and bound in those fetters from which death had released her. her laugh rang out li e a silver bell. admittance denied to all.
I new.moved into a corner of the room. 'that it might seem to you too short a time had elapsed since he lost his wife. I never meant to return there. and partly. I had not as ed him any questions upon a subject on which he had not volunteered information. you now. Grace on her side was not to be outdone. This was partly to punish Grace. to annoy our father. who was to ta e his name and enter into undisputed possession at once. and believed that in your own good time you would tell him all. who had become a widow only two days after her father's death by an accident that had befallen her drun en. I now. and this ind of thing went on for months. but. he point-blan refused to ta e one penny of the money that had been left to him.--a foolish. Yes. Una. and we were both fond of her in a cousinly way. Poor Gracie! But it is nearly eighteen months ago. and its funereal drapery of crape cast aside into a closet. They were both men of stern. People thought he would eventually come round. I wanted to forget Australia altogether. and Val had also got into the blac boo s at home.' said she. and might have continued indefinitely--Val . whence he was hastily summoned by the news that this fortune had been left him. she threw it tenderly across the denuded easel. It was an act of pure generosity on his part. and had had to see his fortune in Australia. darling? But of course not--Val would not tell. and I believe you are proud of the love he feels for you.' she continued. bad marriage it was. but Val never loved her. with one of those subtle delicacies of womanly feeling which none but a woman can appreciate. with whom he had quarrelled. You will not eep him waiting any longer now. 'as Val had been summoned home by a mere bare telegram. but when he died. Lennox. but as we had never met out there. You now Val had been in Australia?' I nodded my head in acquiescence. dear. darling. Uncle Stephen. by ma ing Val independent of him. and had always had her own way. he did not now any particulars.' 'But that was a purely morbid fancy. has been patent to me since the first moment I new you. too. dear fellow. it was discovered that he had left all his money away from her to Val.' 'I have had the feeling that there was a doom upon me. I had sha en the dust of my unappreciative country off my feet. Rivers. but she was an only child. but that there was something on your mind which you had not told either of us. as she was quite an heiress.' continued Mrs. 'All this explains much. 'And so. and I loved him too well to involve him in it. 'that has hitherto puzzled and even troubled me in your conduct towards my brother Val. had set his heart on her husband. unforgiving spirit. He has never loved any other woman but yourself-never!' 'Tell me then--How was it? Why did he marry her?' 'Don't you now. ta ing her name. Magdalen. Grace had offended Uncle Stephen by marrying against his wishes. I was trying to become thoroughly English in all my ways and mode of life. That you love him. When he found that he was to be enriched at the expense of poor little Grace. whoever he might be. But I trusted you. I verily believe. You will fix the day. as my friend too off from my waist the mourning sash of violet that encircled it. to ma e him happy? Sometimes I have thought. She was our cousin. will you not. good-for-nothing husband. nor had I even heard of a Mr. Magdalen.
Una's soft brown eyes were fixed upon me with an expression that went to my heart. I felt as if I had solemnly dedicated myself to a lifelong duty and service which was at the same time the object of my fondest hopes. darling. She was quite utterly content and satisfied. please God. my highest aspirations. in the part of "Elsa.declaring he should go bac to Australia. having acquiesced in the arrangement. and a fortune lying idle between them--had not Gracie discovered one fine day that she had fallen desperately in love with Val. You said you wanted to hear your famous countrywoman. What she had said was quite true. shrin ing from a recurrence to the past. I now I can do so. so it was all settled I was to come and let you now quite early. it appears. poor little thing! She told him." and everybody nows that a Wagner enthusiast li e yourself would not want to miss one note of the overture. ta ing a vow to devote herself to some lifelong duty and service. they were married after a decent interval of widowhood on her side. as we hoped soon to become in reality. You have got to dine with us too. that it would ill her if he went out to Australia. and I have not even told you what I came for. 'Five!' exclaimed Mrs. and if ever there were a happy wife it was Grace. but she only lived six months to enjoy her happiness. Una. It went completely out of my mind when I came in and saw you. Una. Magdalen. I promised the child to have tea with her in the school-room. I issed the little woman and let her go. and about six Val would fetch you himself. and we are dining at seven ourselves to-night.' 'Excuse me. and thought Val a perfect husband--as he was--to her. 'Do you now. But it would require a very different ind of woman to ma e Val happy. However that may be. and. For a time we sat there serious and silent--sisters in heart. my most perfect and unselfish love. I must have been here an hour at the very least. You can give Val some tea when he comes instead of me.' . I suppose it really amounted to as ing him to marry her. I can't persuade my dear old stupid Guy to come. for Val has a box for Lohengrin. * * * * * 'Do not fear. I too her little curly brown head between both my hands and issed her on her smooth forehead. so. and bring you on to Lowndes Square. Madame Melba. Rivers. 'and sit down again. for five minutes. I will ring for tea. You are such a grand woman--the ideal wife for my noble Val.' She was not to be persuaded to stay.' For all reply. so we shall have to share Val between us. you loo as I could fancy one of the vestal virgins. Magdalen. or a prophetess of old. I will. springing from her seat. 'Why. We were both recalled to a more everyday state of feeling by the stri ing of a cloc on the mantelpiece.' 'But indeed I ought to be at home now.' I interrupted. Grace saying she would go out as a governess. if one could ever have got at the exact truth. And I really must be off. and--well. my deepest prayers. I could not resist their pleading inquiry.
not only with the enraptured admiration of a lover. 'It is nothing. But there was no mista ing the mere womanliness in the loo she turned upon him. and can estimate at its proper value the beauty of a woman as of that of a picture or a statue. but with the critical appreciation of a man who nows how and what to admire. a woman not much shorter than himself. The man himself turned pale with the surprise and joy of it. and beautiful Magdalen--sweeter and more beautiful today than ever!' He was loo ing at her. or in the tones of her low.It was just stri ing half-past five when a tall. Magdalen. however. But the drive. She was not hurt in any way. and he had to tell her the whole incident. and clung to him in a very passion of abandonment. but told the driver he should probably eep him about half-anhour. and sat down by her side. Then suddenly his expression changed to one of proud and satisfied . she had announced. and grazed its arm. entered the house without parley. what has happened?' She was now trembling li e a leaf. A little child fell in the street. and as it drew sharply to one side to avoid it. distinguishedloo ing man came leisurely down the steps of the Reform Club and got into a hansom that was in waiting. you are surely not quite your own brave self to-day? Come.' There was only one person present. over which the fingers closed immediately. 'Why. madam. The gentleman got into the cab again and proceeded on his way. and he gently guided her to the couch from which she had risen. short as it was. with the splendid proportions and noble carriage of a Gree goddess. and the child was preparing to set up a howl. and the intensity of his own emotion. as if he new that the person he had come to see was in and would receive him. let me loo at you. full voice. fair. who rose up from a low seat to greet him. who had sprung out of the cab to her assistance. she started bac with a cry of horror--'Oh! what is it? What is it? Are you hurt? Blood on your wrist! For heaven's sa e. 'Val. and when the door was opened. my dearest. 'Cheyne Row' was the address given to the driver. which was promptly arrested at sight of a bright new shilling laid in its palm. and thither we will follow him on his way. Val. a little child. my queen. was caught by the wheel and thrown across the erb upon the pavement. One of the dirty little fat arms had been grazed just sufficiently to draw blood. and was in the room as soon as. Lennox. for the vehicle nearly came into collision with an omnibus that was coming down the crowded King's Road thoroughfare. 'Mr. But as suddenly disengaging herself. or even before. He did not dismiss it. Val!' she cried. in pic ing it up and holding it for a moment this must have been the result. a fact which the gentleman. She had turned a little pale. who had just started to cross the street. absolutely nothing. was careful to ascertain as he raised her up and placed her in safety on the pavement. and he saw her shiver as he described the accident. silly Magdalen! And sweet Magdalen. and threw herself upon his nec .' But she persisted in as ing for details of the affair. In the same way he closely followed the servant along a ground-floor passage. was not to be an uneventful one. reaching his destination without further adventure.
because it is my birthday today. throat. whose swift. sensitive lips and dilated nostrils. A noble figure robed in some soft white fabric embroidered in silver that draped her in classic folds. And I give myself to you now--this moment. 'Your beauty is not what I care for. and beautiful. 'Val.--a face that flashed upon you its varying moods and its varied expressions. with its curved. Magdalen bent down and laid her hand on it with a soft. and I don't want the least little miserable trifle to happen on such a day to spoil it. only the massive rounded arms bared to their full length from the shoulder. Your beauty is driving me mad. which formed a curious contrast to hair of a bright chestnut that seemed to have caught and imprisoned the sunlight in its burnished masses. which is better. eyes. It was cut slightly low around the throat. You did not now it. lovely as you are. On only two human beings did this smile ever linger and soften into tenderness. I worship it. Silly Magdalen! And sweet for you. caressing touch. my idol. raining passionate isses on her hair. as he exclaimed. Magdalen. It is not--Yes. Magdalen.-'Among all the handsome women in London. am I. I love it. which threw out the creamy tint of her draperies and the ivory pallor of her face. She replied both to his loo and words. but the beautiful contours of nec and bust were covered.' He slowly raised himself to a level with the woman who was bending over him. and these were Una Rivers and her brother. and buried his face in her lap with a sob. because I love you. It is my birthday. 'Silly. but I shall give you one instead. and. it is--my goddess. I am yours when you li e to claim me--do you hear. seating himself on the couch. it is. Val? Your very own. and a silver girdle encircled her waist.' Well might he say so. Val. and arms.' He pressed her closer to him as he spo e.proprietorship. wonderful face. while he attempted to spea with playfulness. which rose out of it li e a polished column.' Happy Magdalen! Val Lennox caught her to his heart. you will be the loveliest in the whole opera-house to-night. your wife. and you brought me no gift. clasping her nees. which is best of all? I am silly for myself. and beautiful for you. In her sunny hair she wore a silver fillet. sudden smile was li e unexpected summer lightning. then threw himself at her feet. It was altogether a strange. Val. so that you may love me. I promised Una to-day I would marry you whenever you chose to as me. threw his arm around her. listen to me. Val? and sweet. its powerful chin and broad low forehead. . Such a loo came across her now as she turned to the man who was gazing upon her with earnest intensity.--a face from which the grey eyes loo ed steadily out beneath straight heavy blac brows and lashes. as I told you. for this was the picture that met his eyes. In each was thrust a cluster of blood-red blossoms of some rare tropical plant.
or what happened to cause her to fall. was never nown. but all at once sprang to her feet with a cry. let me wash it off. and drawn him after her to a corner of the studio where a white marble nymph held up a vase from which water flowed into a shell beneath.Her eyes san beneath the intensity of his gaze. All at once his glance was arrested. In her fall her temple struc on the sharp edge of the marble basin. and great drops of blood fell li e a slow rain upon the picture. but the doom she dreaded had wrought its consummation--Magdalen Challis was dead. she lost her balance.' She had ta en hold of his now passive hand. and then we will go. Val! We had better go--you now we had better go. Horror-stric en he raised her in his arms.-'The blood. dazed and bewildered as she was from the violent emotion through which she had just passed. the blood on your wrist! Oh. He was gazing almost mechanically before him. She swayed and tottered for a moment. but he was not in time to catch her before she fell heavily bac wards. which was holding his. 'Lily Mordaunt!' he exclaimed. overturning the easel. beyond the little fountain to the corner of the room where a small easel draped in violet stood with a picture upon it. and made a step forward. Whether in loosing Magdalen's hand. and a loo of surprise came into his face. THE END . she swayed towards him as it were involuntarily. Li e one in a dream she turned on the little silver tap and too up a sponge from the basin.