|Newspaper Title||Goulburn Herald (NSW : 1881 - 1907)|
|Trove Title||The Harrow Bushrangers|
HARROW BUSHIRANGERS. BY DO'SID G. FALO. CHAPTEri Iv (CONTINU:I:D.) " No, you don't," returned ,ate, struig gling to free herclf. " You eot curly andi miseerale, and mnko me quite cross with you. Promise me you won't go on as you have been, looking so cross about nothing at all, and I'm sure we'l be ever to moUIch better friends." "I'd promise anything for that." " Then mind yoea don't forget," she rotorted, rend, finally reicasing herself, slipped from his celbrco and out of the room at tihe samo time. But this good onderatanding atnfor tunately did not last long, and for more reasons than one. Thie chief reason was that, as hase been said before, after the rncontre between the two rivals, young Fisher, as much out of a feeling of revenge as anything else, prosecuted hIris attentions more assidnously thanr ever. He became acl most lover-like in his manner to Kate, certainly more affectionto and fami liar; and this as a natural couse quence led to further demonstrations of jealoousy on poor Rob's part, and to further disagreement betv;een him and Kate. Tie second cause of unpleas antness lay in thie fact that one day farry's father-" Old Harry " he was called among thie farmers from a cer tain aggressiveness and obatinacy that oharacterised him - paid a visit to Conroy's farm, and in a very high handed way gave KIato's fathlr to uin derstand tlhant ho did not at all approve of his son's constant visits to Iris place and meeting with his (Conroy's) daughter. This visit of " Old Harry's " led to very disagreeanblo results, for the paternal Confoy, who was an indepen dent old boy after his kind, took his daughter roundly to task for hear love of what lr called " findandering," and pointed the lesson so strongly as to cause the young lidy to shred quite an abundanco of tears. Rob bad tho benelitof it ultimately, for Kate came to the eonclursion that he had been the one to apprise Harry's father of thie state of afflirs, anrd so without in any way allowing him to plead in his own defenco judged tlim guilty with feminine inconsequence and treated him with more colduess than over. To tell thie truth it was no other than Harry Fisher himaself who first put the thought that it was Rob into her head, and it was eimply another proof of the girl's foolishness and simplicity that she believed it. Things were in tis unipleaoant con dition when a really tremendous oc currence did for poor Rob what he himself was incapable of achieving. It occurred in this way. One afternoon he had returned home after ia somewhait stormy inter view with hris fickle lady-love, when his brother surprised hin gazing in a very mournful way at Kate's portrait. "Hollo, lIob1 IIn thie dumps, oh 1" said he. " What's ulp ?" " Nothiug, Jackl." "Oh I nousense. There is some thing the matter. Tell me wlhat it is." Now this brother of Rob's was a sharp youth, up to every hind of dodge, and very fond of his brother. There was so much real affection between tie two thalt they rhad few seorets fromn one another, and Mlaster Jaokr pressinig himi as t.o tie cause of his molanucholy, soen learnt the whole tale of despairing love. " I tell you what it is, flob," said this 'cute young fallow. "You're too softl I that'e it. Sr unld off a bit and assert youIrself, tht'll aoion bring hier to her bCearings. 1 ll11 y, whart, if you didi't rin so much ii, cn wieren't o bumble, she'sd soon come roiird. Women are like digj in soemo things. Show them that you are their rmaster, and you cur get them to do what you want; but give waiy rand thorr's no doing nything with them. That's philosophy, and darned good philo aoophy too." ThIe young man poike iin an ex tremely kIrnowing way, and winked and nodded his head with so mueh conviction of knowing all about it, that Rob could not help being some what impressed. "I do believe you're right in a way, Jalck," he said mournfully, " but I can't do it." " Cau't do it. Iubbish I You must do it. Try it; it's the easiest thing in the world." " I'm blowed if I don't," cried Rob, ungrammatically, but with great detor ruination. "Bravo I You're sure to sueoeed if you do." Under his brother's promptinge tihe young farmer booeame quite an altered man. He no longersighed and moaned and went about looking miserable and anhappy. He put on quito a differoent air, and not only tlhat, but never went near that fascinating siren KIato for days. If he did meet heor he hardly stopped a minute, but just bid her "good-day," and passed on. It was a hard task, and one he eonld never have properlycarried out but for his brother's promptings; but what with that and his own steadfastness of character he managed somehow to go through with the undertalring. When he met Kato it was simply "good-day, Kate." "Why, Rob, whore are you off to in enoh a hurry ?" "Can't stop a moment. How are you ? " "You don't seem to care mucho by the way you treat me." "You Irow I care. Biut I'm in a hurry. I'm glad you're all right. Good-day; " and be would be off like a shot, more for fear of breakiing histi roesolvo than anything else. "Rob, horol" Kato would perhanps call after him; but hie would wave his hand and be off quricker than ever. This went on for some days, and listross Kato found hierself very mtuch neglected. At first sie was surprised, then piqaued, and finalily cami to the conclusion thait sate was being very ill-used. Thon it came to her ears thaint Rob was seen paying attention to other girls ; one in parti calar-a certain Lucy DBvis--it was oreported, monopeolising i great deal of his li.o, Now this girl hnppened to
be a particular enemy of Kate's, and it made hier quite eavago when shelo heard how Rob was carrying on with her. ,Kate couldn't underetand her lover's altered conduct at all. lo had been so devoted to her for ouch a long time that it was simply boeyond her comprehension. Shei was only a vain, foolish girl after all, and at the bottomn of her heart honestly loved Rob, so that when he commenced to pay her back in her own coin shs wans anything but satisfied with the state of afainir. However things were in this condi tion when one day that very 'cute young fellow, Jack, burst into hin brothelr's room in a state of great excitement. "Have you heard about the bush rangers over at Harrow, Bob " he exclaimed. " There are two of them. They have beaen stickting people up on the road." "No; I didn't hear." " Well; it's a fact. Everyboay's talking about it. I've just been over to the Conroys', and they were full of it thiere. I've a splendid idea, Rob. Listen here. You knuow what a coward-" But whatever it was the young fel low lihad to sayit was evidently a great secret, for lhe lowered hIis voice to a cautious whisper and looked highly mysterious. When Rob replied it seemed to be in tihe negative, aend when Jack replied to hIim it was in tones of urgent entreaty and expostu lation. However, whatever it was they discussed, in tihe end they seemed to come to some undertanding to gother, for they continued to talk over the nmatter for a long time, and with greater secorecy thou over.
CHAPTER 7, The buashranging episode at Harrow was the subject of general discussion throughout the Waunon district, for not only was it current that the evil doors were men of the worst possible type, hut somehow a further rumour gained ground that they had been seen in the noighbourhood of the Wannon itself. How tbis report firsl became dissominated perhaps youug Jack Maoalister know best; but whether he did or not, certain it was that it gave rise to a good deal of die may and terror among the peaceable inhllabitants of the Western District Arcadia, in which our little story is laid. That eccentric young jackauapes, Jack, eoemed to take very great inte rest ill the matter, and was never tired of discussing-especially at the Con roys'-the probabilities of the bush rangers being in the neighbourhood. He seemed to be always at the Con roys' farm, and if any member of that family had paid more than ordinary attention to him, he or she might have noticed Master Jack's eyes ap peared to be always particularly watchful, and his ears very much on the alert. One afternoon, after one of his customary visits, lie bounded home wards in a state of great excitement, and burst in upon his brother like a whirlwind. "I have it, Rob," he exclaimed. " It's this very evening." Now, whatever this mysterious an nouncement meant, it surely could have had no reference to what actually did take place that evening, for it was then that happened the adventure already hinted it. It was quite a thrilling adventure in its way, and occurred in this fashion: Near the Couroys' farm there was a bolt of scrub of some three or four ae-s in extent, which--perhaps from lthe fact that it covered nothing at all -weas known as "The Covert." If usnoless for any other purpose it cer tainly formed an oxcellonatrendoezvous, and at about seven o'clock that same evening was taken advantage of by two foolish young people an a place of meeting. These two foolish young people were no other than Kate Conroy and Harry Fioher. Alas I for that romantic and vain girl. Her father's injunctions had led to a worse state of affairs than over, for whereas she had been pro hibitod from meeooting her admirer openly, in a spirit of feminine opposi tion she had taken to meeooting him in secret. In justice to the girl it must be said thalt this was the first meeooting of thi kind, and had only boon agreed to on liher part after repeated solicita tious by the young squatter. She leow she was doing wrong, but sheb quieted her consoience with the thought that it would be the first and last time she would do it, and also, foolish girl, tried to persuade herself that she was acting thus simply for the purpose of punishing Rob for his negleot. However, excuse herself mentally as she would, she know it was wrong, and felt anything but eomfortable when she thought of her indisoretion. Young Fishaor, too, by his altered con duet did not tend to put her any more at her ease; for taking advantage of her simplicity in having met him he became more familiar than over, and oven bold. "You are a kind girl to come and moeet me, Kate," lhe said, and tried to slip his arm round 'her waist. "I love you more than ever." " Mr. Fisher I '" she exclaimed. " I do really," lie said with an easy familiarity. " There isn't another girl in the district I'd take the trouble of coming out for. You are the sweetest girl in the world. Won't you give me a kiss. ? " "I am going home at oneoo," she said, somnewhat frightened. "Don't be foolish, Kato. You came out to moot me, so what's the good of putting on prudish airs? You're too sensible for that and far too pretty. Are you frightened of making Macalistor jealousy Come, my little sweetheart, give me a kiss ?" lie hold her hlmlf-playfully, half affootionately, and tookls hold of her lhands in an eudeavour to kiss her. But the girl struggled, and in a way thait showed that her bushl training had given her plenty of bodily strength and activity. Young Fishor couldn't mnsoge to snatch a kiss at all, and in a half-joking way was still struggling with her when a heavy hand was laid on his shoulder and a deep voice exclaimed "Bail upl"
Kate uttered a smothered shriek, and young Fisher's hand foil to his side, for there in tho dim shadows stood two men, masked, armed, and threatoening-looking. " Bail up, both of you I " oexclaimed tile one who had spoken before. And then turning to the squatter, he con tinued : " Throw up your hands, or by all tlhat's holy--I " A mtnacing gesture conclulded the command mean iogly enongh, and was sufficicnt to make Fishebr hold up both arms above hie head in sign and token of sur render. "What do you want? " he asked with simulated boldness. "Everything you have on you," growled back the same speaker. "I know you, Harry Fisher." " Whso are you ?" "Them as'll drive a hole through you quick enough if you give any of your blarmed nonsense," exclaimed theo second bushranger with a savage growl, taking a stop forward, and threatening the young man with levelled pistol. " So keep quiet, and take care." "It's the Harrow bushranugera," said the terrified Kate, in a frightened aside. "You're right there, my gal," answered the one who had spoken first. " We're them as don't stand any nonsense." In their blach masks and slounohed hats and with their levelled pistols the two men looked formidable enough. The dark bshadows of thebo etringybark trees throw a mysterious shade over them, and their savage threats and determined manner served to give the finishing touch to their fierceness. They stood for a moment in the shade whispering together, and then bIoth turned again to the young couple. " What are you doing here?" asked the taller of the two in a surly voice. "Nothing," answered Harry Fisher. "That's a lioe ?" he answered rounghly. "I know you and your goings on. What's this girl's name?" "It's Kate, sir," replied that trembling damsel, "Kate Conroy." "And what have you come out hero for ? " His voice assumed a slightly more gentle tone as he turned to the girl, and so sho answered him with love fear. "I came out to meet Mr. Fisher." "I know Farmer Conroy," said the bushrangor, " and I ain't going to see his gal wronged by no one. What did you want her to meet you for ? " he continued roughly, turning to young Fisher. No answer. " Speak, or by heavens I I'll make you," growled the bushrangor, in such a threatening voice that the other started with apprehension. "I wanted to see her," he said, thoroughly cowed. " What for ? " "Nothing." " Nothing. That's a lie. You're fooling this gal, that's what you're doing. Now, if you don't want a bullet in you, you'll answer true. Are you going to marry her ?" Once again, Mr. Fisher junior pre served a discreet silence. "If you don't answer the solemn truthl, blarm you," exelaimed the bubshranger savagely, "you can say your prayers, for you're a dead man." The cold barrel of a pistol touched the young squattor's forehead, and, completely sowed, he muinblod " No." "That's it then, is it ?" said the bsehranger. You've been deceiving the girl, have you? You've been making love to her without meaning nothing. Say now, have you ?" The chilly rim of the pistol-barrel was still at the young man's head, and the bushrr.ugor's finger fumbled threateningly with the trigger. The last shreds of courage fled, and with white lips and trembling voice Kate's admirer muttered again a frightened affirmative. " You're a nice one, nin't you ?" said his assailant contemptuously. "Now go down on your knees and apologise to the gal. Tell her that you never had any idea of marrying hier, and were only amusing yourself. Tell her the truth, or by the Groat Poter-" So savage was the man's manner and so threatening the movement he made in lieu of words, that the chicken-hearted Fisher fell right down on his knees in a perfect paroxysm of abject fear. The tears came into Kate's eyes, tears of shame and morti. fication. To hear herself spoken of in that way, to hIar her admirer's craven admission, to see him no humbled and herself so humiliated all this was enough to arouse the womanly feelings of her nature, and make her heartily and thoroughly ashamed of herself and her conduct. All idea of personal fear fled. She felt nothing but the smarting of shame and self-reproach. " There; you see what he's worth," said the bushranger, a little more gently, when the cringing young squatter ihad mumbled something very indistinctly. "Go home now, my gal, and don't be so foolish another time as to listen to the soft sawdor of such as him. Go home, and be a bit more careful in future." Kate turned away crying bitterly. The shorter of the two masked men, who had taken very little part in the proceedings, made a stop forw-rd as though he would have liked to speak to her, but a warning look from the other served to stop him. "As for you," said the other bush ranger sternly to Harry Fioher, who had risen from his kneeling position andl stood regarding his tormenter ruefully, "you'd better not stir from hero for two hours, or it'll be worse for you. You won't see us, but we'll keep an eye on you, so take oars ;" and with a last throatoening gesture this ourious desperado signed to his com panion, and together they plunged into the shadows of the ghostly-looking etringybarks. About two hours afteriwards Harry Fisher crept into his room at Ellorlio in a thoroughly miserable condition; whilst about the same time-strange to say-the two brothers, Rob and Jaok rsaea!ister, wero occupied in
burning two pieces of black cloth that bore a remarkable similarity to the masks the bushrangers had worn that sanmo eo niug. The adventure exercised a great in fluence on Kate for many days after wards. She was not badly disposed -only vain and thoughtless; and when shebo considered her conduct and the contemptible cowardice of her quondam admirer and his humiliating admission a thorough revulsion of feeling set in. But Rob I Had she alienated him altogether ? Where was he ? Flirt ing with Luoy Davis, no doubt; per haps even engaged to her. For the first time Kate realised seriously how foolish and wicked she had been; now that there seemed to be a ohance of losing her lover she began to appre ciate him. But Rob turned up-not engaged, but independent, and certainly not with much of the air of a woo-begone lover. But Kate had had a lesson she was not likely to forget. A week went by, and before if was ended she and Rob had come to a mutual under standing at last, for Kate went to him and said plainly " If you would like me to be your wife, Rob, I will, whenever you like." Of course he took her only too gladly, and a very good wife she proved, too, in every way. Young Fisher cleared out again to Melbourne, and did not trouble either of them any more. In fast he would have been quite forgotten by both only for a little incident that took place about a year after their marriage. Mrs. Macalister was rummaging through an old box belonging to her husband when she came across a rusty pistol. She thought she recog nised it, and asked her husband about it. He, stupid fellow, became so oonfused at her questions that a sudden light burst in upon her. " Why, it was you yourself," said she. " And Jaok too," he added depre catingly. " Well, I never 1" "Don't blame me, Kate, dear," said Rob affectionately. "Becauso I gained the best wife in the world through it." "Indeed, and I won't," answered Kate (and it was about the most sensible thing she ever said). "In deed I won't, for I won the best of husbands."-Adolaide Observer.