|Newspaper Title||The Maitland Weekly Mercury (NSW : 1892-1931)|
|Trove Title||The Gold Seekers|
THE GOLD SEEKERS.
CHAPTER XXIII— (Continued). I
During the whole time nobody had passed up or down tlie road. While that silent battle ?waa in progress at the edge of the bush, no articulate word had passed the lips o£ either combatant, and there had been no witness of tlie conflict but tho birds.
. After about half an hour, a buggy came down the hill from Castlemaine. The occu pant, on seeing Ivor's condition, pulled up, and handing the reins to tho groom alighted. . 'My dear sir,' he said to Ivor, ' can I do anything for you ? Aren't you well ?' ' Yes, I am all right, thank you. I was 4 stuck up' by a bushranger, and had a fight, and I fancy he got the worst of it. He is lying dead about a hundred yards down.' ' Allow me to congratulate you. My.name is Smith, a doctor in Castlemaine. If you will allow me, I will see to you shoulder thero and your wrist.' Ivor's right wrist, where Lowe had bitten him, was still bleeding profusely. After Ivor had been bound up, he and the doctor walked down to where Lowe lay. The ?doctor, on seeing him, started back and said : ' Good Heaven ! is he your brother ?' Ivor smiled as he answered : ' No, his name is Lowe; mine is Gwynne, o£ Gwynne's Creek.' 'I know you by name very well, Mr. Gwynne. How did this happen ?' 'I waa taking in gold from Castlemaine. There it is in those saddle-bags, and he stuck me up, and we fought it out here with no weapons but our arms and legs.' The doctor examined Lowe carefully, and then looking up with a laugh, he said : 'You haye managed things pretty well, Mr. Gwynne. Both his back and his neck are broken.' Ivor smiled grimly as he answered : 'We, had an old account .to settle. He nearly got me hanged in South Africa for a murder which he committed.' ' If you will take my advice, Mr. Gwynne, you won't go on to Castlemaine to-day. I am going on to Yaughan, and if you will let me drive you, my groom will ride your horse back.' , 'I think you are right, and I am very much obliged to you, I am sure. I hardly feel equal to going on.' So Ivor got up into the doctor's buggy, after taking the precaution to put the saddle bags there first, in case the temptation should be too much for the groom, and arrived at Gwynne's Creek in the early afternoon, to . , the consternation of Beausire and Courtenay. When Ivor told Beausire that ho had killed Lowe, Beausire gave a great shout of delight and tried to hug Ivor, as ho said : 'You have got rid of your old man of the ' sea at last, old chap.' . 'If you will excuse me, gentlemen,' said the doctor, ' the best thing that Mr. Gwynne can do is to go to bed, or else we shall be hav ing him in a fever.' So Ivor went to bed and slept off the re membrance of the most hideous event in his whole life. CHAPTER XXIV. AND XiAST. It was some timp before Ivor got over the shock and strain of his great struggle for life with Lowe. An inquiry was held as to Lowe's death, and it was very soon deter mined that Ivor had killed him in self-defence, and the bench took upon itself, moreover, to congratulate Mr. Gwynne on having rid the colony of a pestilent scoundrel. Things went on in their ordinary nature at the mine, and Ivor began to think that he might be going home for a visit. He tried ?many times to broach the subject to Beausire, 'but always failed, thinking that Beausire might take it unkind in him to wish to absent liimself from work at the mine just when it had really begun to make their fortunes. ? , During all this time Beausire's symptoms ? had become aggravated. His fits of joy and despair succeeded one another with painful quickness, until Ivor thought that he was going to be really unwell. All his doubts, however, were set at rest one Monday morning when Beausire came cantering up, with a face radiant with de light. He threw himself out of the saddle and ran up to Ivor. ' Ivor, old man, 1 am going to be married — the finest givl in the world — and you are going to be best man ; and I am going homo for my honeymoon.' ' By Jove ! I am glad, Beausire,' said Ivor, as he wrung Beausire's hand. ' Who is she ?' ' A Miss Cartwright, daughter of old Cart wright, the squatter, who lives on tho other side of Castlemaine. Wo are going to bo married in a month, and I am the happiest man alivo.' ' I will go with you to England.' ' Right you aro, old man. Here's Courte nay. Courtenay,' he shouted to the old man, ' I am going to get married.' ? 'I am delighted to hear it ; a most- excel lent step for a young man to take. To whom, may I ask?' 'To Miss Cartwright, of Tinninlyhallor moo.' 'The daughter of a most excellent father. Beausiro, you are in luck,' Don t need to tell me that. I know it only too well. Ivor, yftumusfc come over and see her next Sunday.' ' With the greatest pleasure in life. But Bna n 1 1 be rather in the way ?' Not in the least. There's Mary her sis ter, who would suit you exactly.'
Ivor smiled. He was proof against the charms of many Marys. However, on tho following Sunday he did go over to Castlemaine, and found that any praises which Beausire could bestow on his fiancee wero not exaggerated. Miss Cartwright was a charming girl, en dowed with that dolicate, fragile beauty which belongs to Australian girls alone, and which is to English beauty as a hot-house flower is to one grown in the open air ; aud though, perhaps, moro brilliant, it fades more quickly than the bluffer, haler beauty of an English girl. Ivor was delighted with the family, and again warmly congratulated Beausire on his good fortune as they rodo back to Gwynne's Creek on the Monday morning. ' Yes, said Beausire,-' I think I hav9 fallen on my feet. It is all due to you, old chap. You have made a man of mo. I don't like to think now where I might havo been if I had not mot you on that ship.' 'Bosh!' said Ivor. ? ' It ain't bosh, and you know it.' They rodo on in silence after this for some time, and then Beausire suddenly burst into a loud laugh. ' What is it, Beausire ?' ' I can't help thinking of my govenor's disgust when I go home, rich, married and respectable. I think I must pacify him by offering to lend him some money. Ho will snap at that quick enough, but I am afraid it will take him a long time to get over the fact that I ha^o so utterly and totally disappointed his expectations.' ' I expect you are maligning him.' 'Not I. You don't know my governor; the most cantankerous old dog in all Eng land^' Tlie days seemed to fly during that last month : so many arrangements had to be made, and so many instructions to be given. Ivor promised Courtenay to bo back in six months, and Beausiro said that he would be a year away. Neither ho nor Ivor had any intention of finally quitting Australia for some few yeaps to come. Beausire now was as merry as a child — just as he had been on board the ship coming out from England, but with this difference, that his mirth then was the re'snlt of pure reckless
ness, and now it was the mirtli ot pure joy. He constantly reverted to the surprise which his father would experience at his failure to go to the devil. ' Constance will carry out the good work which you have begun, Ivor, and thie ' Rose of Glanwythian' will jbelp to patch up the broken fortunes of our house. I expect the governor to be deuced civil to me.' . ' After all, he is your father, Beausire.' ' I am well aware of that fact, but he is such a pompous old stick, and it will be good for him to be compelled to show a certain amount of respect to a son whom he has always despised. Don't you fret, Ivor, I will let the old man down gently. Only I must have a joke out of it.' The night before Beausire was to be mar ried he and Ivor sat silently smoking in the little veranda of their house. They had noth ing to say to each other. Their unforeseen wanderings in company had produced a bond of unipn between them which they knew must now be partially served. Singly they would, perhaps, have gone ? to the wall — Ivor certainly would havo been long dead and Beausire would probably have been by now that most contemptible of all people, a drunken ' sundowner.' Their thoughts evidently ran in the same channel, for, after a long silence, Beausire said : ' Do you believe in chance, Ivor?' , ' After what has happened to us, I would be a dull dog if I didn't.' ' It is,; at any rate, tho simplest explanation of most events. Our last night, old chap. Do you regret the chance that brought us to gether ?' ' I regard it as the happiest event that has ever occurred to me.' ' I hope that it may always be so until the happiest of all occurs. You had better take Mary, Ivor ; she would suit you exactly.' Ivor laughed, and didn't answer, and 'they went to bed. Beausire was going to spend a fortnight in Melbourne, and then go home in a P. and 0. steamer. Ivor was going to make the final arrangements at the mine and then join him in Melbourne. Ivor said he wouldn't bother Beausire by writing to him. His berth was taken, and there was nothing to'be said. In the very early morning they rode into Yaughan and took the train to' Castlemaine. _ Ivor was going to stop at the hotel over night. Anatole met them, beaming. ' Ah, Anatole, how are things Koine P Is the hotel full?' 8 fa ' Scarcely a soul— it is not the time ; but. there is one charming mees, tall, beautiful, divine,' and Anatole kissed his hand to the air. ' And how are you getting on ? Have you had an explanation with Lola ?' ' Lola is everything that a loving husband could desire.' ' You followed Mr. Courtenay's suggestion, then ?' . ' Yes, but not with the stick. No. I was fierce, I spoke to her like a bear ; at first she paid no attention and called me cocJion, but when she saw that I was earnest, she became polite ; she no longer called me cocJion, and then from politeness she came once more to affection, and I am happy.' 'I congratulate you, Anatole.' ' But it was not without difficulty. I said to two or three of the young gentlemen who came here always : ' Gentlemen, I am very glad to see you here, but I must request you not to flirt with my wife, she must be treated with respect.' Tliej blushed, as you English do, and said that they do treat her with re spect. I was calm, dignified, and merely shrug the shoulders and say nothing. They depart cursing, but they have como no moro flirting with Lola.' ' That is most gratifying, Anatole. I hope you see that firmness is better than si^hino and whimpering.' . ° ° ' But yes, monsieur ; still, it will never occur again, I think.' In some few months' time I hope that Lola may have a little son or daughter, and that will put a stop to flirt ing. Ah, monsieur, I am quite happy.' ' I am delighted to hear it ! very few men can say that they are quite happy.' y°?\ monsieur— you are ricli now and will be richer soon. What more? Ah you must marry the wife, monsieur. There aro plenty of ravishing young ladies about hore. . Don t talk nonsense, Anatole. I am go ing to stay the night hero, and shall want to dine at half-past seven.' ' Perfectly !' said Anatole.
I Beausiro betrayed none of the nervousness ' which affects most people at their own wedd ing. Ho was perfectly convinced that ho wuJ going to bo happy and would make his wife happy and was only anxious that it might be j as soon as possible. After the wedding was | ovor and Ivoj; had seen Beausire and his bride drive away from her fathor's house, ^ a dreary sense of lonoliness came ovor him for tho first time. He refused a pressing invitation to stay to dinner, and came sadly back to the hotel at Castlemaine. As always happens, he had never fully ap preciated tho necessity of Beausire's compan ionship until ho had lost it. ? Supposing, whGn .he wont homo, ho found that Gwon was married or would not marry him, ho would indeed be a lonely man. By tho time ho reachcd tho hotel ho was in a thoroughly depressed condition. Anatole received him with effusion, and said that his dinner would be l-Gady punctually in the coffcc-room. ' I don't feel much like company ; I havo had too much ? of it to-day. Can I have a private sitting-room?' ' Certainly. John,' calling to a waiter, show Mr. Gwynne up to No. 10.' Ivor followed the waiter upstairs and opened tho door of No 10 ; and Ivor went in, and the door was closed after him again. He put his hat on tho little table beside the door, and, looking round into the room, saw, standing beside the fireplace, the one being he loved best in the world. . Witli a cry, half of surprise, half of intenso joy, he ran toward her with arms out stretched, and said i ' Gwennie, my darling !' Gwon advanced to meet him, and in an instant Ivor was covering her face, her hand, her hair with kisses. One glimpse of each other had done so easily what years of writing might never do. At this moment the, door opened, and Ana tole, peering in, said : ' Pardon, monsieur; there is a mistake ; this is — ' ' Get out !' roared Ivor ; and Anatole shut the door aud ran downstairs for his life. When Gwen had dried her tears of joy, Ivor said : ' Why did you come here, my beloved ?' ' Oh, Ivor, I thought you were never com- ! ing back to me, and I could not live without seeing you. ' Then this was your mysterious visit abroad, of which the old housekeeper told me. I don't think it was fair to leave me so in sus pense. I have been nearly out of my mind for the last six months.' ' Well, dear, your letter was so indiffer ent, so perfunctory, that I was sure that you did not care for me, and I did so want to see you again, perhaps without you seeing me. You don't think it forward or — or — unwom- anly of me to have come, do you, dear ?' Gwen got no articulate answer to this question. After some moments, Ivor said : ' Ah, G'v\ren, you could not read between the lines, else you would have seen that I was eating out my heart with desire to see you again. You did not get my letter, then, which I wrote six months ago ?' ' No, dear. - You see I did not decide to come here all at once ; it took mo many months to make up my mind. I was afraid — oh, I don't know how to explain to you. You see men look atthese matters in a different light. It is supposed to be right that a woman should take no step in a matter — Oh, please don't ask me to explain, Ivor ! I went to Rome and Florence, and then ono day I wrote off for a ticket on the P. and 0. boat from Brindisi, and I have been here frbout a fortnight.' Gwen hid her blushing face in her hands, and Ivor said very quietly : ? _ ' That letter which I wrote to you, Gwen nie, was to ask you to be my ?wife. I am rich — rich beyond the dreams of avarice.' 'Oh, Ivor, I am so glad ! At last — you are rich !' ' It isn't a very long 'at last,' dear, after all ; .but it has seemed an eternity to me. Gwennie, you haven't answered the question I asked in that letter.' Gwen turned her sweet face to him, and said in a low voice : ' Is there any need, you foolish old Ivor?' And so it was thus that Ivor's doubts and fears were finally set at rest. After they had been sitting together about an hour and a half, Ivor suddenly remembered that he was ravenously hungry, and Gwen too, had been awaiting her dinner when Ivor arrived. Ivor rang and Anatole appeared. ' We want dinner at once here, Anatole.' ' But, certainly. Monsieur's dinner has been ready for more than an hour.' ' Well, then, .let us have it at once.' ' For two ?' said Anatole, raising liis eye brows ever so slightly. ' This is the lady who is going to be my wife.' ? ' Ah, my congratulations, monsieur, and to you also, mademoiselle. Then .monsieur knew all the time that the charming mees of whom I spoke was his fiancee. Ah, but they are sensitive, these English.' 'No, no, Anatole; it was a surprise to me as much as to you; but we are going to be married here, and you will have to come to our wedding.' But, certainly, sir, with all. the pleasure — and Lola, too ?' ' Dinner now, Anatole.' ' In the twinkle of the eye,' said Anatole, as ho turned away to tell Lola that ce drole, Monsieur Gwynne, had found tho strange .lady in the hotel, and had decided to marry her out of hand. Ivor and Gwon were married two days be fore tho ship sailed for England,' and when they came up the side of the ship, Beau sire and his w.ife wore waiting to greet Ivor. Beausire stared at Ivor as he helped Gwen up the ship's side, and wondered who the auco he had got hold of, and why he was pay ing such extraordinarily marked attention to 'her. After shaking hands, Ivor turned to Gwen and taking her hand, said to Beausire: 'Let me introduce you to my wife.' ? _ This was too much for Boausire ; he en tirely forgot his manners, and merely stared m amazement from Gwon to Ivor, and from Ivor to Gwen. . -a It was what the French call un peu fort, that a man whom, a fortnight .ago, he had left a lonely and desolate bachelor, should have discovered and married a wife and be on his homeward way to spend her honeymoon. ?*V0^ seeing his amazement, left Gwen to Mrs. Beausire, and, taking Beausire aside, saia : ' ^
' It's all right,, old chap ; it is a case of Mahomet and the mountain. We have been in love with each other at anytime the last ten years.' , Beausiro gripped Ivor's hand, and1, tho great ship swung slowly round and started bearing, at, any rate, fo;ir entirely happy peoplo on their way home to England. [the end.] [This talo being now completed, tho placo it has occupied will next Saturday be taken by a nsrrafive of great power and Interest, entitlad ' Mademoiselle Reino.' When wo say that tho author is tho favourite novelist who gave us 'Katharine's Venge ance,' ' Snowball,' and other stories .which .have so highly entertained our readers, they will be assured of tho acceptableness of this new tele.]