Chapter 127950246

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Chapter NumberI
Chapter TitleTHE BELLE OF SYDNEY.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article127950246
Full Date1883-08-16
Page Number1
Corrections0
Word Count5746
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Shoalhaven Telegraph (NSW : 1879 - 1937)
Trove TitleEttie's Error. An Australian Story
article text

novelist.'

1 ETTIE'S ERROR; ; AN AUSTRALIAN STOBY. ;

By HAROLD W. H. STEPHEN. :

CIIAPTEB I. , ?; T1IU 11ELLK 01' SXDX1ST.

Wiihn John Davidson Squires captured Iho ; bollo of tlio season, evorybody was not only ? surprised, but disgusted. That' an unknown squatter — most probably a Yahoo — should boar away tho prize from under tho noses of all the aristocracy of Sydney, was too much. Not that Henrietta Trelierne was such a great catoh aftor all, you know, for sho had not so vory much money ; but then hor beauty

was undername, ana sue was ot uio uiuesi oi . bluo blood, boing a member of the great family of Trohcrncs, whose ancestors were aristocrats before William the Conqueror was heard of, and who were at the very top of tho troo of Cornish landed gentry, and had refused a title in every generation for tho last four : hundred years. i Then, too, Ettio was accomplished, nay, oven learned, having been educated by her ?' . father, a celebrated scholar, and sho was . . popularly supposed to know oven Latin and Greek, besides all the ologies, and a quantity of other things of which young ladies are ? usually blissfully ignorant. She had oomo to Sydney after her father's death with a maternal aunt, Miss Sprod, in complianco with the mandate of a London physician, who declared that a long sea voyage was absolutely necessary for her health. Thero sho was at once received with open arms by tho Upper Ten ; for had sho not been presented at Court, and had not her name iigured in tho list of guests at somo of the most exclusive houses in London ? Sydney society was charmed with tho young lady, and . . oven found Miss Sprod admirable — tho which . says much for tlio amiability of Society, for tho lady in quostion boasted of as fow claims ? to popular admiration as most mummified old : maids with red noses and small incomes. But Ettie was charming. Sho was tall and i lissom, dark-oyod and brown-haired, with shapely features, and a delicious pout of tho undor lip which was eminently attractive. Hor voieo was low and tuneful ; sho walked . as fow women out of Austrian Court circles can walk, and in manner sho was gentle and i unassuming. No wonder that tho groat Miss TomkinR, who lived in a small palaco at Double Bay, and owned tho handsomest - oarriago in Sydney, was enraptured with the young lady, and introduced her into tho inner airole of sooiety, over whose portals none but ? tho immaculate might hope to enter. ,' Was it not horrible to think that this paragon should throw herself away on a ; young man, of whom nobody knew more than . ' that ha owned a small station on tho banks i., of tho Murray Biver, Bomewhere near i Albury? ? The misohief was done at ono of tho public ? balls, you know, to which all sorts of people . . obtain the entree, and at which the girl ought nover to have been allowed to be present. It : was all Miss Sprod's fault. Tho old lady had mado ono friend on board ship — a . bachelor, as lean and withered as herself, and he being a member of the committee of the ball in quostion (which was in aid of some charity), had persuaded MiBS Sprod not only to invest in tickets, but to promise to attend. The wily old gentleman urged tho claims of . tho charity, and pointed out the rush thero . would bo for tickets when it became known that Miss Sprod and her nieco had consented ;. f 'to bo present. Tho lady gavo way — sho would not condescend to rule her actions in , such mattors by tlio advice of any ' Aus . tralian ' authority — and Ettio gladly ac , ? quiesced, not boing by any means as proud as sho ought to havo beon. At that ball Ettio made tho acquaintance of John Davidson Kquires, and of his cousin, James SquiroB, and, as aforesaid, the misohief . was done. Now, it was a common thing for young men .to fall in lovo with Ettio at first sight, but this ? ,-was quite tho first timo that she had experi .-.encod any unusual sensations on meeting a young man. And what was thero in this . .young man to causo her to feel an extraor : ..dinary interest in him? Ho was passably -- igood-looking, but dozens of handsomer men ? -had mado lovo to hor without causing her heart to throb ono beat a minute faster. He did not seem to bo particularly well-informed, . and his dancing was not to be compared to tho dancing sho had been accustomed to in London. What, then, was it ? Ettio could not answer tho question, but I can. It was, of course, a case of olectivo affinity. You know all about it. Two souls wander through space for forty thousand years or so, and then meet at last. Pout I Thero . is a rush, a fizzle, and they aro ono, amalga i ? ruatcd for all eternity. It would bo as easy ? for mo as shelling poas lo pump out an ocean of information on this subjeot ; but I am paid to ' amuse,' or to ' try ' to amuse, and I am not going to 'instruct' without further re muneration. . : Have it as you will, John Davidson Squires i and Henrietta Trcherno fell in lovo with one another at sight, and danced together an un '? heard of number of times, waltzing deeper into , lovo at every turn. Thero was another Squires who also fell in ' lovo with our Ettie — James to wit, but sho folt 110 dolioioua throbbing when his arm on oiroled her waist, and tho only interest alio .folt in him lay in tho fact that he was kin to another. It is time that I should say something about thoso young .men. Twonty years previously Captain Squires, a retired army ?fwnn, having a littlo capital at hiB command, * ' \

and not the slightest chance ot increasing it in- any -othor way, invested in a, small run noar.Alburv.'' Dy dint of luck and hard worfe — I placo 'luck' firnt, for no aquattor, ever made monoy without it— Captain Squires got on in tlio world, and whon lio died, a year, or two boforo our story begins, ho left 'his son quito a snug proporty, worth, lot us say, in good Foasons, £2000 a yoar. Ho also loft an incumbrance on tho property in tho shape of his orphan nophew, James. 'Thoso two, John and James, had been edu cated in Melbourne — which town, in thoso ante- railway times, was tho natural metrop olis of Itivorina. James was studious, boing of a bilious tomperament, and having no prospects whatever. John, mcrcurial, and with his future provided for, flung books to thodogs, and went in for sport. Not gambling, mind. From that vice ho was luckily saved ?by.- tho oxamplo of James's father, who had squandered a fino property on tho turf, and left his wifo and child beggars. Do not imagino that John was doficiont in intellect, because ho preferred play to work. My opininon is, that had ho chosen to apply hiniBelf, ho would easily havo outstripped his studious cousin— but ho did not so choose, and who shall blame him? Do you suppose that I would bo burning tlio midnight gas, and fatiguing my lingers, by writing this his tory for you to read, if 1 had owned two thousand a year? No — not if it wero ono thousand only 1 I would play instead — always provided that my ' woik'- was not 'play' to me — which, thanks to Providence, it is aomolimesl John became a good crickoter and a crack shot;; whilst' lio was about tho boat amateur rough-rider in the Albury district. And I can assure you. I speak from personal knowledgo, whon I say that thero aro somo rough-riders in that distriot who would back animals that overi Mr. Barey might liavo feared to handle. James, meanwhilo, mooned about tlio place — I am .speaking of tho timo when thoy re turned home for good — and studied — with what intention, ia beat known to himself, for, certes, his studies led to nothing practical in tho way.of work. . Then,' one day, John proposed a jaunt to Sydney, which town was strange to both tlio young men, and thoy wont accordingly. Not having thought it worth whilo to provide themselves with letters of introduction, they were, of course, outside tho pale of society, and the charity ball before mentioned afforded thom thoir first glimpse of tho aristocracy. As John was draping Ettio in her cloak — ho meanly thrust Mias Sprod upon his unfor tunate cousin— tlio lady asked him whotlior thoy would bo likely to meet at Lady Jones's on tho following Thursday. 'No such'luck,' said John, ruefully. ' We are strangers here, and know nobody. But you will let me call and see you ?' . ' Yes; certainly,' replied Ettio — without a moment's hesitation— the minx 1 . ' And I tell you what I will do. - If you think you would like to go to Lady Jones's ball, I will get my aunt to ask hor for cards for you and your cousin.' ? ? If lie would like to gol Good gracious! Ho would liavo been guilty of any meanness to secure a ticket, John replied, in a rap turous strain, which was certainly not war ranted under tlio oiroumstances, and in view of his very recent acquaintance with the young lady. « Very well, then,' she said, wisely ignoring his ecstatica. ' Como and see us tho day after to-morrow, about three o'clock, and I will toll you what luck we have had.' Hero wo liavo a modest young lady, who had actually enjoyed tho supremo felicity of kissing tho hand of her most gracious Majealy, making an appointment to meet a young gentleman, whose acquaintance sho had made only a fow hours previously ! — I do not won der that you aro shocked, Mrs. Grundy. It is awful, but what can I do ? I must tell the truth about those peoplo ; but, lest the Misses Grundy bo led astray, I will at once point ; out that Ettio Trcherno's behaviour was in the highest degree immoral, and, in point of fact, iconoclastic. Need it bo said that MiBS Sprod's appeal to Lady Jonos was successful ? I trust my readers aro sufficiently acquainted with the usages of good society to bo aware that a favor asked by tho bello of tho season — or that hollo's cliaperono — may not be refused. Lady Jonea would have liked well to protest that sho was so sorry, that hor list waB quito over full, Ac. , etc.; for sho liad hoard of tho Charity Ball flirtation, and very much ob jected to lend her aid to bring about another meoting between those inflammablo young peoplo; butLady Jones know that her refusal would result in Ettio's staying away from her ball, and that was not to bo contemplated for one minute. You will want to know how it happened that Miss Sprod proved bo amenable, and I will tell you. Tho old lady had a flirtation of lier own under weigh, with tho old bachelor of whom I havo spoken— Mr. Terrill, a wealthy wool-broker, — and her mind was too fully occupied with hor own affairs to leave lier time to think about Ettio. Beaides, the tho girl had beon through a London season, and was quite able to take caro of herself, at least, so thought Misa Tabitha Sprod, and, on tho whole, I am inclined to agreo with hor. By the way, do you young peoplo ever re flect that, although tho faco may bo withered and wrinkled, tho heart may remain aa youth ful as your own ? You will laugh at Miss Sprod's love affair ; and I am willing to con fess that thoro is something ludiorous in the speotaolo of a lady between fifty and sixty yeara of age indulging in such vagaries ; but how do you know but that Miss Sprod's affee ? tions might havo beon aa deeply engaged as if sho had only numbered nineteen aummers ? I protest that I am just as inflammable now as I was when I waB twonty, and moro so, for then I thought more of myself, and over rated my own value ; where as now, grey hairs and fast-increasing baldness, warn me to plume myself upon other than personal attractions. Lady Jones' ball fairly launched John and his cousin into society, and very soon — dis- gracefully soon, everybody said — it becamo known that Ettio and John wero engaged. The announcement completely ataggered Miss Sprod, and would havo led to trouble, but aho was suffering from another cruel stroke of fate, and her spirit was broken. Mr. Terrill had proved false. After lead ing her to boliovo that ho was fast bound in tho chains sho had cast around him, tho man went off one line morning and married the barmaid of an hotel, at which he was in tho habit of calling for his morning shorrynnd bittera. After that, the deluge. Miss Sprod was heart-broken, and could only roply by tears to Ettio's hesitating announcement of hor engagement. But John camo to tho rescue. He gallantly offered tho old lady a homo at Buclrinburra Station, and dopioted tho joys of station lifo in such vivid colors that sho, yearning to eacapo from tho cold cruel world of' towns, was fain to smilo amidst her tears, and ex tend her withered hand in reconciliation. J olin carried it to his lips with suoli mingled graco and reveronco that lier last doubts fled, and sho became his hearty ally from that moment. A month later tho young peoplo wero married in grand style, and thoy spont their honeymoon in Molbourno; from whence, at its conclusion, thoy travelled homo, whither James Squires and Miss Sprod had preceded them by somo weeks. CHAPTEBII. AT UUOltlNBUBHA STATION. Tho future home of Ettio Squires waB

pleasantly situated, on rising ground, closo to the bunks of the Biver Murray, which, at tliat part, was wide, and deep, and .'running, be tween higli cliffs of rod oartli, worn liy floods into fantastio shapes', and tiny ravines. ' Tlio houso was an agglomeration of cottages and huts, massed together without regard to anything except tho convenience of its in mates; but a wido vorandah extended around thrco sides of tho buildings, and wistaria, doly cliu3, bignonia, and, jasmin, spread ovor it in luxurious profusion ; so that tho eyo was satisfied, at any rato. Tlio rooms woro many, . and fairly commodious ; whilst tho furnituro was good, though, for the most part, old fashioned. Ono long, low, room, with a cheer ful outlook on tho rivor, had been completely refurnished especially for Ettio, and formed a wonderful contrast to tho others, blazing as it wero, with gilding and gay colors — John had no tasto for tho higher lifo, and found no pleasuro in tho contemplation of tho dingy tints of the roathotic school. l'horo woro a splendid old orchard, a woli kopt kitohen garden, and ovon a protty littlo flower garden — allot which wero highly. ap- preciated by thoir new mistress ; and tlio stockyard and woolshed wero sufficiently far removed from tho main building. The homo-coming of tho young couple was celebrated by a spree of gigantic dimen sions; for all the neighbourhood had as sembled, in resposo to James's invitation, and there was a dance in tho evening, whilst the station hands, and hands from other stations also, were supplied with grog in unheard-of quantities. Ettio was charmed with everything, and everybody — except Charlie Dawson, of whom more anon. When they retired for the night (just before daylight) sho told her husband that sho was perfectly suro Buckinburra was tho most delightful place in tho wido world, and that nobody could help being happy there. Wo shall see how long she retained this opinion. Tho real master of tho station, sinco tho death of Captain Squires, was Bandy Tom. Nominally, this gentleman was storekeeper and major damo (I know not how otherwise to designate his position.) Ho had been body servant to tho old gentleman whon they were both [young and wild ; and, whon his master sold out of the army and came to Australia, Thomas Bolt obtained liis discharge and ac companied him. Within certain limits ho had ruled the gallant captain with a rod of iron, and his sway was now never diaputed. Ho was a short wiry littlo man, with the handiest logs that over wero seen, the result of an accident when ho first began riding in Australia. Hence tho sobriquet, which had gradually oomo into such common uso that his real namo was almost forgotten. See him now. It is tho morning after John's return, and Bandy is in his den, a littlo room next to the store, busy with the accounts, talking tho whilo to himself, as loudly as if ho wero addressing a companion. 'Drat tho old table,' he says. 'Keep quiet and steady sho won't, nohow. Sugar, two bags — tea, one bag best, two boxes station baeca, one drum — hope it's better than the last — only fit for sheepwash that was — rum, ono hogshead ; whiskey, six cases : brandy, six caaes ; ale, six cases ; porter, six cases ; sherry, six cases ; port, six eases ; claret, six cases ; champagne, six cases ; colonial wine, six eases ; soda-water, twenty dozen — it's woll you didn't forgot that, anyway. Well, he's brought up grog enough, that's one comfort.' ' Oh, wurra 1 wurra ! wurra 1 ' Bandy looked up, and beheld, standing in the door-way, one of the lords of the soil, in the person of a huge aboriginal, named King Billy, who waa tho chiet of a small tribe, which was located on the run. ' Now what do you want,' asked Bandy, savagely. 'Oh, wurra, wurra, wurra 1 Mine berry bad I Oh, wurra, wurra 1 ' ' What's tho matter ? ' — Bandy Tom began to feel interested. He was' passionately fond of doctoring, and, tho prospect of a 'ease' was as pleasing to him as to a young; medico just starting in practice. ' Oh wurra, wurra, wurra I Mine berry, sick — got um sick here' (pointing to ihis head), ' got um siok hero ' (placing tho other hand on his' stomach.) ' Oli, wurra, wurra, wurra 1 Mino been like um dat one all night.' ^ ' Got drunk last night, I 'spoao ? ' said Bandy, his interest vanishing. ; 'Baal. Plonty rum— drink missy licalt'— baal wino got drunk— berry sick dis one. Oh, wurra, wurra 1' ? ' Get out 1 Hookit I ' cried Bandy Tom, now satisfied that His Majesty was only suffering a recovery. '? King Billy assumed a pitiful tone. ' S'poso you gib um glass rum ? ' ' Dovil a'drop.' : 'Oh, wurra, wurra, wurra I 1 Mine berry sick. ' Oh, wurra; wurra 1 S'poso you gib unr glass brandy ? ' ' If you don't hook it pretty smart I'll fetch a whip to you,' cried Bandy Tom, rising from his seat. 'Oh, berry welll' exclaimed tho black fellow, with an admirable assumption of in difference. 'Mine mako a light yarraman 'long a oreolt, brand like um boomerang.' And Billy turned to go. :? . 'Stop l' cried Bandy Tom.' ' Brand like a boomerang ? That must bo a half-moon — it must bo tho mare Irlost 1 Whore did : you see her ? ' 1 ' . ? ' . 'Baal— dis one berry bad. No rum, no yarraman.' ' . ' 1,1 Tom was ' cornered.'- He promised , tho blackfcllow a glass of rum,: but added that, if he wero tolling a lie, ho (Tom) would cut him to pieces. ? ' ; . ' Baal mino tell lie,' said King Billy, casting Ilia blanket over hi8 ahoulder, with as much dignity as if ho had been Julius Grosar drap ing himself in his toga. ' Mine make a light yarraman long a oreek. Baal lie— me Kiug Billy 1 ' Pacing moodily up and down tho main walk of tho orchard, at about tho same time aa Bandy Tom and the blaokfellow adjourned to tho storo, was James Squires. A tall, handsomo man, you would Bay, at tlio flrat glanco ; but a second would reveal to you that, liis deep-sunken oyes aro too , closo together, and that his thin lips aro set in a perpetual sneer ; whilst there is an indefinable air of discontont about him, which oannot fail to repel you. Whereas John Squires is beloved by all who know him, James has not a friend in the world. Yet wo must not hastily condemn tho latter. His father, starting in lifo with far better proapeota than Captain Squirea, had spont his all in riotous debauchery and gambling, and James had been left a beggar dependent upon tho charity of his undo. Doubtless tho aeenes ho had witnessed in his childhood had soured him, and when ho camo to know tho truth, and realised tho difference between what was and what might havo been, ho rebelled in wardly, and oursed his fate. Ho saw his cousin loved by all, and respected by his inferiors, whilat ho know not what lovo was since his mother died, and was treated even by tho sorvants as an individual to bo tolorated only on account of his relationship to tho fortunate John. Captain Squirea aaw through tho boy, and could not but dislike him, still he treated him fairly, and left him a sum of £500 wherowith to preparo himself for some learned profession.' What moro could bo expected from an uncle? But James could not make up his mind to any praotical study, preferring rather to idlo at Buckinburra Station, and indulge in a course of desultory reading, whioh would be of no special use to him in any profeasion.

Ho was by way of being clcrer, but his uleror hens; was that of - t lio schemer — a species of ability that is of; littlo uso to any man except initho aharu market, and there Jaines would jliavd failed for look of courage. ; .Liko many men who, live apart from their 'fellows, ho had tlio habit of soliloquising aloud, and ho is now so ongaged.' Let us .listen to him. ' What a mockery it all is I' he says, un consoioii8ly posini; h la Hamlet. 'What a hideous farce I Where is tho justico in thiB world ? Hero am I, for all purposes as good a man as my cousin John, yet am I nobody, whilst ho ia a being to bo worshipped ? Ho, born with a silvor spoon in his mouth, has ovcrything that man can wish for. I, fed with a wooden ladle, am doomod to disappoint ment at every turn;. Even in lovo ho boats mo out of tho field, and carries off tho only girl I evor wished to call my own. Cur3c him 1 I liato him 1 I always hated him ; but since ho has crossed my path with Ettio, hate is no lpngor the word to express ray feelings for him. And yot I am almost dependent upon him for tlie means to live. I know no trado; can turn my hand to nothing. I doubt whother I can write woll enough even for a Government billot. Psha! ,'Such useless brutes as I aro bettor dead— bettor dead I' ' Hallo, my noble I Doing a bit of Hamlet? Toby or not Toby, that is the question.' Tlio speaker was a merry-facod young man, olad in garments of rather a ' loud ' cut and colour, but still bearing about him tho un mistakable air of a gentleman. Charlio Daw son was John'a great chum, and the son ot a squatter whose run abutted on Buckinburra. Ho waB also James's pet abhorrence, princi pally on account of his perpctualgood humour, and somewhat vulgar habit of ' cliafling.' James bade him a curt 'good morning,' and half turned away. 'Good morning,' said Charlio, who was. bont upon taking a rise out of ' Old Sober sides, ' as ho irreverently termed Jamea Squires. ' Your most obedient. Is your lordship in good health this morning?' 'I do not understand you,' replied James, coldly. ? 'Tho dovil you don't 1 Tell that to tho marines, old boy.' 'Nothing seems to mo to bo in worse taste than vulgar chaff, except the use of ooarso expletives.' 'You don't say so? You really do not mean to say that is your honest opinion ?' ' Mr. Dawson,' said Jaines, with difficulty controlling his temper, ' there is no need that wo should quarrel ; but neither is there any need that wo should keep up tho prfetencc of a friendship which does? not exist. Perhaps, therefore, you will condescend in future to remember that the style of conversation in which you are in tho habit of indulging, is repugnant to me, and abstain from inflicting it upon me in future.' This specch delivered, with all tho dignity of whioh he was capable. James turned away, and walked towards the river, whilst Charlie Dawson indulged in a species of break-down, illustrative of his admiration of the other's sentimenta. Ho was interrupted by John, and two or three other young men, who, after tho fashion of the country, had stayed for the night. ? ' What's the matter, Charlie ? ' asked John. ' Been taking a rise out of Old Sobersides. Found him doing Hamlet, and looking as fierce as a water-rat. I accosted him in my usual- genial manner, and was immediately withered by his sarcasm. Told me he dis approved of me and my ways, andbetook him self majestically to the river.' ' Whither wo will follow him, and havo a swim before breakfast. But, I say, Charlie,' said John, as the othor young men went back to tho house in search of towels, ' I do wish yon would leave that chap alone.' 'Mo leave him alone?' cried Charlie, with an air of injured innocence. ' Tho boot is on the other foot, I reckon — it is he that will never leave me alone. Now what did I do this morning? Just enquired after his health, in terms of tho utmost respect ; and hollies off at a tangent, and discourses mo like a sohoolmastcr 1 ' ? 'Now you know well enough you must havo said something to provoke -him. See here — James is not like us. Ho is not a companionable sort ofcliap, and ho cares for nothing but his books. Besides, his prospects are none of tho brightest, and I know the poor follow worries a lot. You really ought to let him down easy.' 'All right, old boy,' replied Charlie. ' For your sake, I'll try not to say anything that will hurt the gentleman's sensitive feel ings— but tako my tip, he's not worth your consideration, and so I tell you.' 'Hois almost tho only relative I have in the world, and I don't believe he is bad at heart. But como along — fetch your towel, or wo shall be lato for breakfast.' : This conversation will servo to show that Mr. John Davidson Squires by no means re oiprocated his worthy cousin's sentiments — men of John's stamp aro always loth to be lieve ill of their fellow creatures. It will bo seen that Charlie Dawson waa not quito so blind as his friend. All hard thoughts vanish undor tho influence of cold water in warm weather. It is just sim ply impossible for an average hater to retain angry feelings whilst swimming in such a stream as tho Murray, with a bright clear sky overhead, a rocky bottom beneath him, and huge walls of red earth crowned with green foliage around him. Shall I ovor forget tho many, many pleasant hours I spont in these waters in days gone by ? I havo bathed in many places, from tho far away Moldan, in Bohemia, to the coral reefs in New Caledonia, but I know of no more delightful bath than can bo enjoyed in our own groat river whon .tho water is not sullied by tho influx of somo digger's tailrace. Charlio Dawson, under this gonial influence, forgot all about his littlo difforenco with James Squirea, and actually challenged that gentleman to a race down tho river. To tho credit of the latter be it said, that li3 declined. — I say 'to hiB credit bo it said,' becauso tho great Dr. Johnson affirmed that ho liked ' a good liator,' and if such an undeniable authority saw fit to approve, I presume thero is something admirablo in boing ablo to ' liato ' with thoroughness. I mysolf do not share the dootor's liking; but then I am nobody. Only I am prepared to admit that the capacity for hating strongly is a great element of buccoss in life. I havo seen not a fow men hopelessly wrecked becauso they forgavo and trusted thoso who wronged thom, and I liavo scon others univorsally sat upon, owing to it boing woll known that thoy wero incapable of avenging an injury. It is quito possible to approvo of tho policy of hating, and yot lovo tho non-hator. At breakfast our friouds wero joined by tho ladies, most of- whom looked as fresh as only country girls can look aftor a night's dissipa tion. Miss Sprod alone did not appear, having, doubtless, good reason for not showing hcrsolf too early in tho day. It appeared, when tho usual discussion of places took place, that ovorybody was bound to go home, so John and Charlio — who lived quito as muoli at Buckinburra as at his father's station — doterminod to havo a shy at tho duoks, whioh, by all accounts, wero un usually tame and ploutiful just then. James declined to accompany them. It was his nature always to declino such invitations, oven when ho felt disposed to accept thom. Givon a certain morbidity of tomperament, and such a result is almost invariable. Biting off his nose in order to spite his face wm an amusement in which Mr. James Squires was wont to indulge more than any man I ever

mot. Perhaps ho folt somo pleasure in such selt-mortiilcation, I suppoco tho old gentle men who travelled around with dried peas in their, shoes, and woro hair shirts next their nkinr, found somo gratification in such past!., los, or thoy would not have indulged in them. I ' mortify ' occasionally by denying mysi i tho luxury of a pipe when I am just suffer' ng for it, but then I invariably mako up for i' / abstinenco boforo I go to bed. By eleven o'olock tho houso was almost desei led. Tho guests had driven away, John and Charlio woro tramping towards tho lagoons, and James lay hidden from view in a lia'iimook under tho verandah. Thon Ettio coaxcd her aunt out into tho garden, and thoy established themselves under a huge mulberry tree, . where stood a rustic tablo and seats, and began a highly interesting conversation — all of whioh was overheard by Master James, whoso hammock was not ten feet away from them, but hidden from view by thick clusters of creepers. CHAPTER III. AUSTRALIAN ENOIiISIt. 'You don't aeom comfortable, auntie,' said Ettie, after a little time. ' I can't say I am comfortable, my dear. These wooden seats are not adaptod for old bones.' Since sho had boon ao infamoualy treatod by that Terrill, Miss Sprod had, when alone with her neice, indulged in sundry allusions to her age, which aho would havo bitterly re sented had they como from anothor. Perhaps she thought that she had lost her last ohance, and was trying to retire gracefully into the ranks of old maidenhood. Ettie skipped into tho house and pre sently returned with a rocking-chair ; then sho vanished again, and brought back with hor her aunt's knitting, and a despatoh-box, whioh aho placed on tho table, taking hor seat before it. ' I do not liko these chairs, Ettio,' re marked Miss Sprod, as sho carefully en sconsod herself in the rocking-chair. ' Why, dear ? I call a rooking-ohair the most comfortable seat that ever was invented.' ' Child, they are indecent. You lean back for a moment, and tho consequences are aw ful I ' Ettie laughed. 'Nonsense, dear,' sho replied. 'Besides, you need not be afraid to show your anklea — there are no men about.' The man in the hummock could both Bee and hear ; but was not interested in Mis3 Sprod's ankles, and the conversation had not as yet been worth listening to — he began to road his book in earnest, but soon dropped it, and be came exceedingly attentive. Meanwhile Miss Sprod submitted to her fate, and began knitting, whilst Ettio opened the despatch box. ' What havo you got there, Ettie ? ' asked tho old lady, more with the desire to begin a conversation than from any interest she felt in tho probable reply. ' Johnny's despatch-box, auntie,' said Ettie.' I'm just going to havo a real good rummage. Ehl What's this? a diary? — oh, auntie,' I've found Johnny's diary 1' ' Well, child — what thon ? ' ' I Bhall find out all his secrets, to bo sure.' 'Surely you do not propose to read it?' exclaimed Miss Sprod. (To be continued.)