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Chapter Number
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Full Date1910-06-19
Page Number19
Word Count1969
Last Corrected2019-01-17
Newspaper TitleSundayTimes (Sydney, NSW : 1895 - 1930)
Trove TitleA Thundery Afternoon
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Short Story

A Thundery Afternoon

(For the 'Sunday Times.' — By M. FORREST.)

It began with a heaped white cloud across which little shaggy grey drifts raced, like buffalo on a snow-bound plain. Then a dull lciidcn woof was spun athwart 1ho blue— thunder growled along the hills. People began to raovo homewards, or look anxiously out from under sheltering vo randahs In Queen-street. But only a pusdIdk shower full. Tho crey curtain

swung back, and lay In bronzc-whlto folds on tho horizon, behind tho great bam boos in the Gardens. A llttlo brce^o sprang, but died ? of the heavy, heat choked atmosphere. Tho roses drooped sun- weary heads; the grass was green and moist, the air was like that In a forclng houso. I think tho plccabccns, remem bering dank, stifling scrubs of tropical , Queensland, enjoyed it. The bauhlnla, too, fell at home this thundery afternoon. It's small, round, raln-washcd ' leaves swayed as though to tho rhythm of alfln fans. In front of mo a wax-pink bouvar (lla stood creel ; a wistaria vine, past Its Jlower-primc, hung limply over a trellis — a mouth ago it was beautiful with lilac bloom and full of bee-music — a month ago. ... Somo gardeners were digging the rose

Ltl'U.I ? 1 %.UM1U OW lllVll UUI1| .UUM&U1VU shouldert! between the nosegays of red and white. Beyond were tho silky oaks. It you lool* closo you Dud their blossom Is Ilkn u tiny red-gold harrow (It for tho fleldB of fairy-land. I remember tho afternoon I drew your attention to ihat, and you smiled grudgingly, for you always said I lacked ideas— you, with your contempt tor women-brains. I remember a disser tation on* our own Adam Lindsay Gordon you gave mo straightway. I remotnber tho llttlo spirit of a jest that kept leaping in my heart. For', oh ! you were always so 1-lg and snvero, and suro of yourself — Tho Man — Tho Superior Being — Tho Head ; and I — tho frail-bodied, small-minded thing, ?who ministered to your comfort occasion ally. I wonder why I loved you. I wondored then, whimsically, knowing that no 'Why' could ever prove itself — that thero was no answer to that persistent query, and If thero was— well, the loving, would still bo there. So what rlld it matter ? You- al ways misunderstood me ; you wero over ready with your blame, and yet— and yet. ... ; ? That day wo found a woo white budding fairy thins, whoso name we never knew,

growing in a rock-filled bed, which was once a fountain pool, compelled, through a long drought, to become a llower-poi. Behind It a tiger lily, striped nnd flaunt ing, swung. But wo only saw that fairy . shrub, You declared It made you think of something read in a child's book Ions ago. . ; Nietzsche' says that In every true man thero is concealed a child who wants to play. I saw tho child in you wanting to play that day, and 1 helped It, with, the mother hidden in mo — helped It out into tho sun. I llkod to see you smilo in that pretty crooked way of yours — one side of your mouth tilling Into the tournament or laughter beforo tho other. ..,..' :' '',. ? ?But yesterday, thero was thunder in tho air, and no child-laughter. 1 never. saw your eyes so steely blue, as' they wero ?when you crossed the grass, llngerlngly, 'to where l.sat, looking at tho bouvardla. You took my heart, and you piercod it delicately. You took my soul and you trampled It — thero among tho flowers, and tho bird voices, and glory of silky oaks with sun sheen on them.- Your eyes were like tho shadows In an ico crevasse. I watched you drag my heart into' the arena for the lions, of your bitterness to growl over. I knew 1 had given you of my best — tho crown of my womanhood — tho children of my brain. I know that 'whatever women had laid at your foct be fore — beautiful women or — there had never been a more loyal love than mine. Tho bamboos were Huffily green, as I havo watched them a hundred times this Spring. On tho hill the subdued red of the caretaker's cottagp roof struck softly against a lacey screen of jacarandas. You and I were man nnd woman in a garden God had made. God ? Yes., Ho mado tho beauty .of, the tree, tho shrub, tho ..dear,' sweet-essoncej flowers. Ho made my heart for you, and He alone knows why. But surely it* was never God who put It into your heart to lcoso tho venom of your tongue, 'the cruelty of your wit !, Surely — surely ;no !

I: you are groat, you should bo watchful. What frenzy took you to ' crush that al ready crushed, to wound thai which was already bleeding to death ? ' It is fair, the pink-starred perfection of bcuvardla. Across the asphalt path stood a dragon-tree— a Bacred tree in India — . the .very name breathing romance, and ; further away tho cassia, recalling Brown ing's., .-.._ ,' ' .'?,-? ? . * 'Heap cassia, sandals buds, and stripes ol ? :. labdanum, As when a queen, long dead, was young.' ? -Pure gold petals, hanging In bunches' from tho -dark branches, just as the, hair oi a-young rquben might hang, above the deep-toned wood of a centuries-old throne; .. # . And , under 'the pink-faced bouvardla, ?within sight of the golden cassia tree, and scent of the low-sown mignonette, lies my heart, in a grave of flowers and earth and grass roots HeB my love. Por haps I shall come somo day, grown old - and wise,' and turn a sod and wonder again and /yet .again. ... And you— ^wh'on- I am gone — will you ever walk there,. 'Poor Fool' for my epitaph, and a dear, clover, crooked smile to accompany it ? Or will you have tho .crrni*i-»vnii wi'th tho Ktnal-hlnr* pvar

never learned to soften— will you havo tho '.saving grace to give me, only silence ?

Mr. W. M. Hughes, the Federal Attor ney-General, much as ho may like to talk, docs not caro for tho pastime when' it is about himself. Certain questions regard ing his rules of life ho answered in his own way for. tho purpose of Ibis series. 'I do not know that I can bo said to havo regulated my life by any rules— cer- tainly not In the sense of any to which

I have .rigidly,, adhered. Naturally, ono has ?habits, and T- cannot say that mino uro all very desirable ones. There are some I know I should bo very glad to got out of. Speaking generally, I ilvo simply, tako a fair amount of exercise, cold baths, and don't worry much. This last is an ac quired good habit. I used to worry n good deal. 1 read a good deal, and I am afraid moro fiction than anything else. 'As to work, recreation and rest, six or seven years ago I suffered very severe ly from insomnia, and Blcpt very badly — not moro than two to three hours a night for some two years— -but I havo now com pletely recovered and sleep well, general ly from seven to eight hours. I never was a votary of early rising. I got up late, usually spending about nino or ton . hours in bed, sometimes even more. Much of my writing— press work particularly — I do in bed. As for recreation, I havo given up cycling these last few years. I still row u little ; but Federal Parliamentary life is 'destructive of regular opportuni ties for following any particular sport or recreation, except, perhaps, walking. This I Indulge in pretty freely, and I run rcgu Thla 1 hnvn ntwnvn rpp-nrrlnrl ns nnn

of the most effective forma of physical exercise. I do a little gardening. I am very fond; of It, especially looking at tho gardener working. This sido of gardening especially appeals to me. Nothing fills mo with a livelier sense of satisfaction with myself than to thus vicariously assist in tilling the soil. 'My diet ? Well, on this I have had. I think I may say, nearly every view that it is possible for a man to have and still survive. 1 have been, and still am. in clined to dyspepsia. I have tried all diets, or nearly all. I have lived for years on a mixed diet. I lived once with travelling sheep for'nearly three weeks on an exclu sive meat diet, and for years on mutton nni) (tamnnii : vni*lAfl wttti Hnmnnr Unit

mutton. I havo lived for a couple of years on an exclusive fruit diet. At present I take meal perhaps once or twice a week — rarely more. ? For months I have lived on brown bread and butter. I cat a good deal of butter. I find that on this diet I can get through my work very well. I do not get tired, and am capablo of a. con siderable amount of physical as well' as mental exertion. My only drink is tea. I do not take it very strong, and rurely. If over, at meal-times. As a general thing I only have two meals a day. I usually tako a llttlo fruit In the morning. 'I cannot' say that I have any',. parti- cular favorite book. . I am an omnivorous reader, and, as I said before, fiction is the direction In which my inclination generally leads me.. I, cannot at this moment recall any particular book which' stands out umongst others. I think. I have

read nearly all the- great, books of fiction ; and, ofcourse, I've read others; For ex-, ample, I did the synthetic philosophy of Spencer very- conscientiously some years back. It has, colored my wholo life. What I certainly. have not read are those nun-; dred books which. If we would be .cultured1 and highly educated, we aro told thut It Is essential wo should read. 'As to rules of early life, as I hava

none now to which I strictly adhere, it is pretty obvious I had none earlier, except ing these of tho ordinary boy— to break the. rules laid down by others for my spe cial benefit. ? ' 'I do not recall any early ambitions, except to drive a railway engine and to travel in strango lands. ??- 'I am, a very groat believer in the vir tues of physical training. , But what is called physical culture may very easily be overdone; Building up-- the ? consti tution is certainly pbsslblb by judicious physical training. In ^ray opinion, run ning and walking, ro\ ,ig and swimming, are tho best fprms of physical exerclso to take ; and, of course, gardening — without a gardener. All tho games — cricket and football, tennis, cvcline-. . nt.n_ ? nrn nmt

excellent. 'I don't smoko anff I don't drink. 'My idea of Australia's future ? I havo a very flrm belief in the greatness of her future. Just, what It will bo depends, ot course, largely upon ourselves. The kind of harvest very much depends upon what is done in these early years. Australian national character, too, is In the making ; and I look to compulsory training, amongst other things, to have a very pro found effect upon national character, by building up the physique and tho moraio of the nation, and by creating a livelier In terest in national duties, raise the stan dard of national' character.' ?