Chapter 1292426

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Chapter NumberXXXIII
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article1292426
Full Date1871-04-01
Page Number3
Corrections19
Word Count9122
IllustratedN
Last Corrected2016-10-03
Newspaper TitleThe Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 - 1933)
Trove TitleThe Hermit Convict
article text

THE HERMIT CONVICT.

By the Rev. William Draper.

CHAPTER XXXIII.

ODDS AND ENDS, ALL ABOUT MARRIAGE, &c.

The period of the minister's marriage with Miss Thomas drew on, and great preparations were anticipated, but finally it was decided that the affair should be as quiet and unpretending as the principal personages who were concerned in it. Miss Thomas has been only barely intro- duced. She was not only the governess at The Vineyard but also the superintendent of the Sunday school; but in our account of Sunday at Burnham Beeches, no mention of the school has been made. It was not held every Sunday; on the first Sunday in the month there was no service at the place where Mr. Coles preached in the afternoon, and tho opportunity was afforded of holding a service for young people at the church at the station. The school exer- cises lasted until 4, then Mr. Coles delivered a short discourse referring to the lesson of the day, after which a hymn was chanted, and the proceedings ended.

Miss Thomas superintended tho general ar- rangements. She was in every respect a minis- ter's wife, or rather fitted to be a help mate to a minister. How many are not so? Happy is the man who has a wife, in the holiest sense wedded to him and also to the work he has to

do. Such a woman Miss Thomas gave good evidence that she was, and hence there were many joyous anticipations about the intended marriage.

I am quite sure it was not leap year, for there was an odd number in the calender, but yet the number of courtships which were going on in, near, and around Burnham Beeches, was some- thing to speak of.

First, there was the parson and Miss Thomas —it may be vouched upon authority that the former commenced the suit, although the lady said she believed that he had thought well of her at first sight. Bless the women, what keen eyes they have about such questions.

Next in order came Miss Julia and Mr. Ste- wart. The order is reversed, but yet I am quite safe in protesting against the smallest installa- tion that the lady courted the gentleman, always excepting her attractive and winning ways which, if any marriageable young men could have re- sisted, they deserved to remain bachelors all their life long. Mr. Stewart no sooner saw, but it was a match; "And," said Mrs. Gumby, "if it had been otherwise, I should have called them a couple of fools."

Next came Mr. Wright and Julia Gurney. This was at first an ill-assorted courtship. He was dull, his life was monotonous; in reality Stewart had cut him out. He considered J. T. was secure, but thought he would take time to consider about it, "when lo! up popped Mr. J. S., and Mr. W. was sold." These are his own words, and doubtless they are correct. So in desperation he began a flirtation with both the Miss Gumbys, which flirtation extended as far as Alice Judd, but the commendable prudence and sincere affection of Julia Gumby settled his love, and finally he embarked upon a voyage of speculative engagement, "not knowing, I do assure you," said he, "where it may terminate in a delightful paradise, or a jolly row for life.'' Women say that a man is what a woman makes him. Perhaps it is so.

Then there was, an absolute courtship going on at Rooksnest, between one Sally Brown and John Bull. You never saw a better specimen of John Bull than this young fellow, and I much question if you over knew of a woman better adapted to become Mrs. John Bull. They were both of them strong, healthy, stout, ruddy, jolly-looking people. Mother had put Sally to work before she was as high as tho table, and now, as her mother said, "there is not a thing

in all house or farm work she could not do." If you had seen this mother I warrant you would never have forgotten her. Never afraid of work herself, "she had trained up her girls in the way they should go," and Mrs. Brown's notion about this way was, that it meant work.

There was no real rubbish corner in Mrs. Brown's house. "A rubbish corner! If it is rubbish, out with it, that's what I say. Just like you are, sir, now blocking up the way. Come, go to your business, and let us do ours." This advice was given to her most devoted hus- band, who had dropped in one day to tell his bettor half-which half is it, the right or left? —that he had heard that Black Bill, of Leyton, was actually hanging on to Bet, Mrs. Sinclair's black girl.

Black Bill went over to Mr. Sinclair's house with a letter; naturally enough he was told to wait, and as few people over went to The Vine- yard without having a feed, he was entertained with plenty of bread and meat, and being a

favorite with Mrs. Sinclair she ordered the housemaid to make him some tea. The house-

maid in her dignity, considering that black peo- ple were quite good enough to wait upon in- dividuals of the same color, set Betty to do the needful, in the exercise of which duty she ap- proached so near to Billy that he began to grin. She laughed, she could not grin of course; then the gentleman "hitchod up" as it is termed, the lady of course appreciated such a profession of intimacy and smoothed her earls, and then, as she was in the act of putting the meat on the table, Billy, seeing tho coast clear, pulled the darling creature down upon his knee, kissed her, and received a gift in return, which he termed "a spanking slap." But they quite understood

one another. This was not the first time that

they had rehearsed this little piece of darlingism; but how it was to end they neither of them knew. Black Bill fancied that one day he should be rich enough to do something, and as for Betty, she always said, "All right, Bill, I no forget."

When are they all to be married? 75 per cent. of the tales necessitate a few courtships and weddings to follow, and half the law-suits and disagreeables in the world are consequent upon them. Abraham found a wife and no end of family troubles because there was no son. Isaac took a wife after one of the shortest woo- ings that ever was known, and a fearful series of deceptions followed; the son aiding the mother, and bringing upon himself and family some most terrible fatalities. Moses had a strange creature who called him husband, and if David had not been so arrantly foolish as to think another

man's wife prettier than any other woman in the world, his name would not be scorned by the infidel as it is now-a-days. Solomon was ruined by his wives. Ahab, perhaps of all men, had as bad a woman for a wife as it is possible for wo- man to be; and some old grumbling bachelors have passed their opinions freely about marriage, in consequence of these abominations. But does it follow that because there are sundry bad people in the world, who, if they were not

wicked in this particular way would be Satanic in some other, that a great institution is to be condemned? We trow not. The promises are not correct, the conclusion is not good. Upon the same reasoning it would be right to condemn eating and drinking, for sometimes the former produces a fit of bile, and the latter a power of

mischief.

Marriage is not a lottery—or, if any look on it as such, it is their own fault if the drawing does not produce a prize. It is true there are exceptions; but let a mother act her part steadily, assiduously, perseveringly, seeking God's blessing, and her daughters will arise to

call her blessed.

Now, this is a chapter upon odds and ends, but it will serve as the digest of a sermon which Mr. Coles preached the Sunday before he was married; and people said generally that at all events the parson was not going to feel qualmish

about it."

"Why should he?" said Mrs. Sinclair. "He

will have one of the nicest little creatures for a wife that I ever saw."

"Except one," said Mr. Sinclair.

"Or always excepting another," thought Mr. Stewart, "who is supreme, above them all."

Mr. Wright heard the sermon, and said "Humph," and Captain Oliver thought it was a subject which ministers might leave alone. But Colonel Tomlinson contended stoutly that, as Paul had written largely about it—that as Christ had expressed his approbation of it, there was a good reason why such subjects should more frequently be brought before the people.

If any doubt it, we can assure them that the marriage of the Rev. Edward Coles with Miss Mary Jane Thomas, was solemnised with the earnest prayer that the God of Israel "would be pleased to go with them in their journey through life, and give them rest." How dif- ferent would weddings be if they were solem- nised with such an appeal to Heaven.

CHAPTER XXXIV.

A HUNTING EXPEDITION.

Captain Oliver was convalescent; Captain Oliver could not rest indoors; what was Captain Oliver to do? Station life was too monotonous. Why did he not go to Sydney or home as he had intended? For the best of reasons, which, if you have over been to law, you must well know: the glorious uncertainty of this privilege of mortals to deal with judges, counsel, briefs, and juries, as long as there is any money to keep the mill going, said mill being, in law, the wheels of the Supreme Court. Captain Oliver had a law- suit; it was decided in his favor, as his attorneys said it would be, and the very next day they

wrote to him to lament that the defendant would

not take "no" for an answer. The cunning follows of course knew that from the first—who

does not? where there are two litigants who have plenty of money and a tolerable stock of fighting ability? "Give in! my dear sirs, of course I will not," wrote Captain Oliver, with- out a moment's delay. His attorneys knew this before they communicated with him; but then there was an extreme pleasure in writing to the Captain, and this was increased to exquisite satisfaction when they received a cheque from him on account, with full instructions to prose- cute his suit to the final issue, whatever that might be. It gave the excellent attorneys no kind of pain whatever to answer, "his instructions should have their best attention." If it were not for the expense, it is something very satisfactory to look upon grand sheets of foolscap, with broad margins, which are sacred to the memory of blank, who is one of the most noted of beings in the book of law. So Captain Olivor gladly assented to Colonel Tomlinson's persuasive invi- tation to wait the issue of the case by remaining

at Burnham Beeches.

But what was he to do? Reading he had had enough of during his forced retirement from active life. Fishing he was not fond of, and mere indolence made him fidgetty. "What say you to hunting?" "The very thing," he replied, as Colonel Tomlinson put the question to him, "if there is anything to hunt."

"A few miles farther on," replied the colonel, "there is a place where you may have both hunting and shooting. I should like a littlo spell of this kind. We can take two of the men, and have a week of it."

"Capital, colonel," said his visitor, "it will do us both good."

So a plentiful supply of provisions, together with a camping tent, guns, revolvers, and plenty of ammunition were duly packed up. A brace of kangaroo dogs, with a tall, stately Newfound- land fellow of the same family, and a real bull dog were considered to be indispensible to the expe- dition, and they very gladly accepted the invita- tion to enjoy a few days' dissipation.

Some very critical people moy object to Colonel Tomlinson as a Christian when they see him in this new light as a sportsman; but this involves a very difficult question, namely, the right to take away life at all, and if this is con- ceded, the world would have to be vacated by mankind. Killing for food, and slaughtering for the skins of animals is a very nice distinction when weighed in the balance. To carry the question farther is absurd, for, by the same rules it is possible to object to the Almighty's action in destroying insect life by the million in a thunderstorm. Cruelty in torturing a poor beast is an offence which should be dealt with by the judge.

Colonel Tomlinson and his friend had no more compunction in setting out upon this ex- pedition than they had, just before 12 o'clock, in camping for a couple of hours to supply tho cravings of their inner man, which they did in a very orthodox sort of way. They were mili- tary men, and of course everything was to be done in military order; but there was a spice of comfort about their camping, which they never dreamt of in former campaigns. The distance to be travelled ere the camping-place for the night was reached, forbade a longer rest than about two hours, and a little after 2, everything being packed up again, march the second began.

About 5 o'clock the halt was pronounced, and camping preparations for the night commenced. The place was within gunshot of a lagoon, with a large rock for the background, and a fine grass flat for the floor. A group of trees shut in one side. This was to be the hunting and shooting station for the next three days. They were too tired for sport that night, although one of the men who went to the lagoon for water reported "ducks in any quantity."

Suffice it to say that every one was hungry, and thirsty too. The tea was very refreshing, the ham and fowl very good, and potted meats, with home-baked bread, and some luxuries to follow, in the shape of the usual smoke and toddy over the evening talk, "it was really good," said Captain Oliver, "he felt his old preference for camp life coming over him strong." Of course there were some military yarns about

their personal adventures, which resulted in animated discussions, and at 10 o'clock the first sentinel, having had a three-hours' snooze, mounted guard, and the rest rolled themselves up in their blankets, and were soon wrapped in the soundest sleep. Each of them occupied the sentinel's post during the night, with the ex- ception of the captain, whose turn was fixed for the next night instead of the colonel, so that with three hours watch for each, they all managed to get some sleep.

At break of day breakfast was preparing. It was a glorious morning; the air was busily em- ployed in currying vast volumes of sound, in the form of every description of song. Some were harsh in the extreme, but there were many birds whose sharp, clear bell-ringing notes were exceedingly beautiful. It is a common opinion on the other side of the world, that Australian birds have no songs, but it is a mistake. There is one who rings out most merrily all the notes of a complete scale so correctly, that one never tires in listening. It is a little bird, exceedingly active, and its habits are as pretty as its song. Then there is the butcher-bird, whose song is as clear as that of the English blackbird, and who, in a domesticated condition, may be taught to whistle with most perfect accuracy, such ditties as, "There is nae luck about the house." The piping crow is another favorite, and his acquisi- tions in song, in a captive state, are exceedingly varied and elegant.

But breakfast being over, the start was made, leaving one of the men and the bull-dog to look after the camp and prepare supper by sundown. The hunting for this day was to be in the neighborhood of the lagoon. First of all, how- ever, the lagoon itself was visited for the pur- pose of getting some ducks. This was a weari- some task, but Captain Oliver was an old sports- man, and the excitement was something to be put in the scale; but when at last the sound of both the barrels of his gun were heard, it was pretty well known that he had not fired in vain. Nor was it so; three fine fellows had fallen victims to his stealthy perseverance. These the dogs speedily brought to land, and, with antici- pations of a savoury supper, they were carried to camp. After this the hunting began in earnest, for it was hoped that a few Bkins at least would tell the tale of their success on the return home. A vision of kangaroo tail soup also was not unpleasant. Not a creature how- ever was to be seen for the first three miles, and after beating about around the lagoon until mid day they halted for lunch. It was not, however, until they had nearly reached the camp that they had the slightest chance of getting any reward for a wearisome day's toil, and under such circumstances Australian sport is most monotonous. There is but little variety in the scenery, the heat is great, and the flies and mosquitoes are irritating in the extreme.

The hunters had however at last no reason to complain that there were no animals. All of a sudden, as they were rounding the lagoon, there was a rush of a most unearthly sound, which seemed to come up from the bowels of the earth, and a drove of old-man kangaroos dashed along before them at a thundering pace. There were half-a-dozen at least, in addition to some much smaller. It was beautiful to see them bounding along with tremendous leaps, scarcely touching the ground; and when the dogs were after them and the hunters in full gallop, it was a sight which, if it could have had an English field and a group of red coats as an accompaniment, would equal any English

hunt. In about fifteen minutes the loud bark- ing, of the Newfoundland dog proclaimed the fact that something was bailed up, which turned out to be a kangaroo with his back against a tree, stoutly defending himself against the dogs. For a while he was quite a match for them, and once he got the Newfoundland be- tween his two fore paws, but turning round a little to avoid the other dogs the big dog got loose again, and soon they stretched their victim upon the ground, breathless with excitement, and yet not more so than their masters. It was an immense fellow, and took some time to skin. Two or three dingoes came rather close to the party, but some beautiful birds, were more attractive, and many of these were bagged with a view to preservation by stuffing. Night again brought its accompanying episodes of camp life. The ducks were beautiful, the appetites were, if possible, better; and the supper was followed by another visit to the lagoon, and the slaughter of a few more birds by moonlight.

"How possible it is to live altogether out of doors in this climate," said Captain Oliver. "Really this is very pleasant."

The whole party were enjoying the coolness of the evening after their day's sport, the colonel and his friend lying on their rugs just inside the tent, and the men listlessly, half drowsily smok- ing, thinking, or gazing on the bright moon and the beautiful sky. Venus was sparkling in the west like a circlet of heaven's diamonds, and Jupiter was very close to her, his own light being somewhat paled while that lustrous beauty was yet above the horizon. Canopus was vieing in splendour even with those, and Sirius, equally as bright, glistened as an angel's eye looking down upon earth. Colonel Tomlinson caught something of the spirit which such a sight always produces upon a noble mind, and replied to his friend: "Yes, it is pleasant, especially with such weather us the present. The stars shine too brightly to fear that we shall have rain. Look at that fellow there, Oliver, is he not glorious?"

"It is, colonel. I wish I understood the hea- vens; it must be interesting."

"It is indeed! To remember that they move with such perfect accuracy, that they pass at the same instant of vision over the exact line where they were observed a year before! It is superb! And the silent majesty with which they roll on- ward is the climax of astounding wisdom."

"Are they inhabited, think you?"

"I delight to believe they are, because this gives so comprehensive an idea of the vastness, as well as the variety and completeness, of the great scheme. You know we read of angels, principalities, powers, &c."

"Yes, but have you any thought of ever visit- ing those worlds? Do you think it possible for human beings in another state to have this power?"

"I have a strong belief that in God's great kingdom, each world will have, as it has now, a distinct economy. New vision, of an immensely increased power, will bring us the knowledge of glories which are inconceivable now."

"And you think everything will appear in proportion brighter and grander?"

"I have no doubt of it. I think our position

now is much like that of a man who catches sight of the first streak of early dawn shooting upwards in the eastern sky. If that man had been blind up to that hour, he could have no

conception of the glory which attends the rising of tho sun; but even this illustration pales when compared with what we shall see."

"You soar very high, colonel!"

"No higher than the Almighty has given us ability or permission to soar, Oliver."

"Perhaps not, but far higher than the majority of mankind, I reckon."

"Whose fault is it?" replied Colonel Tomlin- son. "God has revealed nothing which we are not at liberty to search into to the utmost."

At this instant one of the two men interrupted the conversation by a long drawn "Hush," which was followed by a silence so profound that for a moment it struck a chill to Colonel Tomlinson's nervous and easily excited systom.

"I was unwilling, master," said the man, in a low tone of voice, "to interrupt your talk, which was becoming very interesting, but for some time I have heard sounds which are like those I have listened to before."

"What sounds are they?" said the colonel.

"They may be horses, master, but I had much rather think they be men."

"Men!" they all exclaimed in a breath "where?"

"Let me listen again, master. There," said he, after the lapse of a few minutes, "did you

hear that?"

No; they had heard nothing, and the other man ventured an opinion that "it was their own horses who were feeding, which his mate mistook for men." He spoke this opinion with all but a contemptuous indifference. " I have been here several times, and nothing ever alarmed me."

"Perhaps not," said Colonel Tomlinson, "but that is no reason why we should not be fully on

the alert."

Put your ear close to the ground, colonel," said Captain Oliver, "where I am; there is a strange noise. I can hear it plainly now."

Colonel Tomlinson arose and went out into the open space before the tent, and laid down on the turf, while the men followed his example. The colonel spoke first: "Natives!" said he, "and none of the best, I'll warrant. Those sounds are such as are incidental to a corroboree."

"They won't come here, then, to-night!" said Captain Oliver.

"No! I venture to say they belong to the tribe with whom we had a brief acquaintance at Mr. Baines' house, captain."

"No! why do you think that?"

"Because they passed by Burnham a few weeks ago; but let us turn in, the dew is heavy. James, it is your watch first. Don't let the eyes

close."

"Never fear, master, my word, those sounds are a caution. I'll light my pipe and think about them. Go to sloop? My word! no sleep for me."

The next day Colonel Tomlinson was not well, he was troubled occasionally with the effects of his old wound, and the two days sharp riding had produced some uneasiness in the limb. So Captain Oliver and one of the men went on a hunting expedition, the colonel and his servant remaining in camp, and the latter proposing to his master that he would try and catoh a few fish, consent being given, the colonel was left

alone.

For some fifty minutes or so the quiet and solitude of the colonel's thoughts were unbroken and he enjoyed it exceedingly. Then he lighted his pipe, and stretching himself upon his rug he opened a volume of his favorite Shakespeare which he had in a very portable form, a beauti- ful pocket edition, each volumne containing about three of his plays. "As You Like it" was the play which he had selected, and very soon he was wrapt in the very profound argu- ments of that classical poem. He was a good reciter, and loved to render some of the best known passages aloud. The splendid passage commencing "All the world's a stage," was one of these. He had read thus far, and as he was wont to do, recited this passage from memory. "Sans everything." Again he repeated the words, slowly and distinctly.

"What a picture!" said he, to himself, "and what a position to be in. All gone! all enjoy- ment of life fled, and very frequently nothing to look forward to but despair at the end, Hor- rible! most horrible!"

"Most horrible!"

The colonel started. They were distinct words that he heard, and yet the voice was unlike his own. Was there an echo here? He had not heard it before. No, it could not be; he arose instantly, and turning aside the fold of the tent,

beheld——

Chapter XXXV.

ROOKSNEST INVADED.

"I am sure I don't know how you stand it, Mrs. Brown, the country does not improve with me. I can't abear it."

So spake Mrs. Gumby after a hot walk from Burnham to Rooksnest with Miss Lottie, where they found the busy wife of the overseer up to her very eyes in house work.

"Oh, bother!" replied Mrs. Brown, "I don't like the heat sometimes; but what's the odds, so long as you try to be happy."

"Try to be happy? I have tried as hard as any woman, but there is always some unlucky thing or other turning up to trouble one."

"I don't know, mother, I think we have had precious little trouble. Father's salary is regu- lar to the day."

"Did ye ever know us to live in such a place at home, miss? There, now, answer that."

"No; I am aware of that, mother."

"Look here, Mrs. Gumby, I says, 'fend or please, we're in for it, and we must make the best on it. All I knows is, I never could savo no- thing at home, here I can put summut bye, and so might you, if what my old man says is true."

"What is that, marm?" replied the lady, getting near the borders of want of patience.

"Why you've a better salary nor Sam, and not so many to keep by a few chalks."

"But then you've been bred up to it, Mrs. Brown; and as for me——"

"You're too fat to work, that's about the size

on it; no offence intended, Mrs. Gumby. People always says they likes me, cos I speaks the

truth."

"I must say, Mrs. Brown, you are personal but you don't know what it is to be fat, and so can't sympathise with one in such a position."

"My good woman," replied the imperturbable mistress of Rooksnest, "I know far more than you do what it is to sweat for it. I warrant you never nussed your babies as I nussed these brats—may God bless 'em though, for all that."

"Mother ought to have come out at my age, Mrs. Brown," said Lottie; "she is to be pitied. At her age things don't look pleasant to one who has lived in a very different way."

"Different way, indeed? I should think we did, everything first-rate; nice feather beds,

beautiful tables and chairs."

"And did the bootiful chairs add to your peace or your pockets? For my part, I've sat far more comfortable on a heap of sand than I have in a hard bottom chair, only the sand was rayther hot like; but come, sit down on this

chair, 'tisn't 'hogany, but it's awful strong. It'll

bear ye, no fear."

In spite of herself, Mrs Gumby could not help laughing at Mrs Brown's allusion to her weight, and when the the table was laid for "a little simple refreshment, she began very sen- sibly to thaw.

"I don't think, Mrs Brown, that I should mind it so much if I was like you, you know everybody says you're such a good manager."

"Ditto, Mrs Gumby."

"And such an admirable butter-maker." "Ditto."

"And such a clever cook."

"Ditto again, Mrs. Gumby."

"Thank you, yes," replied the rapidly-thaw-

ing lady; "but then I never was used to such a country, and such low people as you meet with

here."

"Honest, eh! Mrs. Gumby?" "Oh yes! I dare say."

"And willin' to help as far as they can?" "Yes, yes! pretty well for that."

"And no starvation?" "Yes, that's true."

"And if they can work, no want of it, eh? Mrs. Gumby, come, you'll admit that."

"Yes," chimed in Lottie, "but mother says no one ought to begin to learn to work at fifty years of age."

"Nor to eat either," said Mrs. Brown with an air which evidently meant, "fiddlesticks," her favourite word; but Sally came in with the tea- things, and this completed the placidity of Mrs. Gumby's countenance, her capacious mouth as- sumed a resignation which was truly comforting to witness, and the very folding of her hands, and the scientific twiddling of her thumbs im-

parted a peace which Mrs. Gumby said in a most subdued voice, was the very feeling which pervaded her heart, when she was told "that a man child was born into the world, which man child," she added, sotto voce, "was, after all, a gall."

But now the beautiful brown bread was put on the table, home baked, and "having a crust which couldn't be frighted in Ever-so came." Who Mrs. Brown meant by "ever-so" is not very clear; but the bread was good, there's no mistake about that, and then some six or seven pounder of a loaf was put alongside the other, as beautifully white as its cousin was brown, then followed a plum-cake, not a plum- seeking cake, and a great, piling plate of the freshest butter which could be. "It looked you hard in the face," said Lottie, "and said, 'eat me, and welcome.'" After all this, there ap- peared upon the scene, Sally with a pumpkin pie; Jenny with a foaming lot of splendid cream; Jacky with a plate of radishes and one of lettuce, and, finally, Harry brought up the rear with a dish full of "the most beautiful sassen- gers you ever did taste."

Mrs. Gumby was so delighted with them that she eulogised them in these words.

It was a glorious tea, and in the very nick of time, who should come in but Mr. Brown and his son Bob, who, when he saw the company, blushed up to the very top of his eyebrows.

But "Bob could not help blushing, no, not if you paid him," and as Sally said this, most likely she knew. Of course there was the usual amount of brushing up. Bob's bran new shirt was sported on this occasion, and a splendid now belt, with on extraordinary fastening, strongly demonstrative of the fact that cricket was the sole employment of Australians, and that slumps and bats constituted the staple

commodity of trade. But how rosy he did look, and how pleased to sit alongside of Lottie, and how diligent he was in keeping her supplied with endless courses of every delicacy with which the well-spread table was furnished.

Just too late, in came Mr. Wright and Miss Julia Gumby, but Mrs. Brown would lay the table again, and the young people did justice to the carte blanche, to eat and drink as much as they

could.

"Even to bursting," said Harry Brown. "I bursts the buttons off my breeches sometimes."

He said this in confidence to Lottie, but she paid him for it by a good slap on the face, and his brother Bob gave him another somewhere else, which sent him away rubbing and protest-

ing that "he should not be able to sit down for

a week."

"Come here then, my dear little fellow, and let me prescribe for you," said Lottie.

But Harry saw the wink which passed be- tween his brother and the fair speaker, and re- plied, "not if I knows it; no, no, one such a spanker is enough, you little wretch, you."

Bob felt half inclined to charge him, and to consign him to solitary imprisonment in the barn, but, as the young urchin was defying his brother to catch him, Mr. Gumby arrived on the scene. Bob waited until the new comer was within a yard or two of the offender, then he made a rush. Harry turned, but not quickly enough; he ran into Mr. Gumby's arms, and Bob caught him in the trap.

Then came a mock trial, with Lottie as the judge, and she sentenced the culprit to kiss every young lady in the place: "Which sen- tence," said Harry, "I will quickly obey by kissing none, for none of ye are ladies. Ye are only women."

This little episode gave a zest to the proposal for a game of kiss-in-the-ring. How Lottie's hair did persist in coming down as the game went on, it was so curious that the calls upon her were so numerous. Sally became almost ferocious, and declared she would not play again unless Mr. Bull was present. She know that

he——

"Would kiss her like Bob is kissing Lottie again!"

"No, Mr. Wright, not that," replied Sally, now really piqued. But who would have thought it, the good fairies must have chased all the wicked ones away, for Mr. Bull did come, and the storm passed over.

Now the fun became furious. The sun had set, but the moon was splendidly bright, and "hide and seek," "hunt the slipper," and simi-

lar games, created good humor and laughter in

abundance.

The worst of it was the impossibility for the courting couples to be alone. The young Browns were like a bag of fleas, if such a thing can be conceived, the fleas being "teasing fid- gets."

"Go along with you," said Sally to Jacky, who had suddenly become so enamoured of Mr. Bull that he conceived an earnest desire to walk by his side, "in the most delicious bit of moon- light shade you ever saw." She poured out these words into Jenny's ear, as they were going

to bed that night, as if she had lost the finest

prince in the world. But as from that day Jacky frequently addressed his sister as "my angel," or "my sweetlips," it is surmised that the pre- sence of her brother, on the occasion to which reference has been made, was very inconvenient. But the old folks, what were they doing all

the while? Mrs. Gumby was contented; she

was in her glory cutting out some new dresses. No one is perfect, and Mrs. Brown, as a dress-

maker, was nothing at all. She could make coats, and other articles of men's attire, as well as any tailor, but here her skill in needle work ended, and, anyone who did not know her, if they saw her in her Sunday dress, would have put her down for a slattern and a gossip.

Mrs. Gumby was in a critising mood. She told Mrs. Brown that her dress had been spoilt in the making. "Good stuff, you know, first- rate, but the work," here Mrs. Gumby actually sneered, "the work is beastly."

Mrs. Brown blushed slightly, she had made the dress, and considered it pretty and becom- ing to her, "and," said she to Miss Sally after- wards, "my choler began to rise, but I kept it down. Sally, the 'ooman was impident, but I

made use of her for all that."

"How did you keep your collar down, mother?" sand Sally.

"My choler, Sally, I said."

"I understand, mother, I pinned it on your dress yesterday."

"Pinned it on my dress, you stoopid. How could you pin choler on to a dress, I don't mean a collar, but my choler!"

Sally was non-plussed, but far from convinced. It was not very long before the criticism upon her dress elicited the fact that another was about to be manufactured, and of course Mrs. Gumby wished to see it. Then she thought it would be ten thousand pities if this one was spoilt like the other, Mrs. Brown inwardly fretting and fuming to hear her inuendos. Finally she volun- teered to cut out the dress, and —positively the last head—then she agreed to let Lottie make it. The two ladies trotted along famously after that, Mrs. Gumby being in a highly patronising and comfortable mood, and Mrs. Brown taking in the art and mystery of cutting-out as if the present moment was the last that could possibly be ex-

pected in which to learn all about "gowns and

such-like for evermore."

But when Mrs. Gumby had completed the re- sponsible task, and presented Mrs. Brown with three yards of stuff which were not required, her delight knew no bounds.

"Three yards of stuff over! Bless my corns! and I thought there wouldn't be enough."

"More there wouldn't, if some had done it, Mrs. Brown, but cutting-out is warm work and thirsty, there."

"Which means, Mrs. Gumby, what I was agoing to propose, that a drop of gin would be very acceptable."

Mrs. Gumby folded her hands resignedly as she listened to these comforting words, and doubtless feeling exhausted, first she sighed, then she hummed a line of "Kiss me quick and go," artistically blending the last line of the Old Hundred Psalms tune as the next stanza, finally bursting forth into "England expects that every man this day will do his duty." But to an appreciative audience, the finale would have sounded very like "buy a broom;" and if they had pleased to do so, they might have set it down as a fact that the duty which English- men had to do consisted in buying brooms.

But the steaming hot grog with the lemons completely stopped the music, but increased the talk, in which talk the men had considerable share, and when the young folks strolled in, which was not until long after the usual hour of retiring to rest at Rooksnest, and the visitors be- gan to prepare for going home, Mrs. Gumby was magnificently gracious. It had been a pleasant day for all, and if Mrs. Brown could have had a little piece of Mrs. Gumby's skill in dress-

making, and the latter a little spice or two of the excellent perseverance of Mrs. Brown, per- haps they would have managed better than they did. The mistress of Rooksnest contrived to be the better workwoman for Mrs. Gumby's visit, for her keen perception had enabled her to see where she had failed; but Mrs. Gumby, alas! she fell down to her usual freezing point long before she reached home, in which condition she remained for three whole days after. During these me- morable hours she jerked out at occasional in- tervals some words of a remarkable character, "contemptible"—"horribly ignorant"—"im- pertinent creature"—pig stye;" but to whom they related could not be clearly understood. Her gentle half thought it was the jolliest time he had known for a long time, and he took care

to improve it to his own peculiar delight. Alas! the lady awoke out of her trance, and gave him such a wigging that his pipe lost every bit of its

usual aroma.

So lived Mr. and Mrs. Gumby, practicing ex- tremes in which happiness reigned for a while, and then came a season of bitter reproach and discontent. No woman could be more of a housewife when she liked, but when she fell into her moody murmurings, everything went to ruin. Of course this only make life more wretched, for the habit gains strength by experience, and by the time they resolved to return to England Mrs. Gumby had sunk into a listless indifference about her own comfort or that of anybody else. Had she made the best of it, and acted as a wise woman should under the circumstances in which she found herself, she might have succeeded, even at her age, in making a home in Australia.

Chapter XXXVI.

WAS IT REAL.

Burnham Beeches had its little reunion the same day. The entertainment was neither a dinner not a tea-party, but a picnic in a secluded spot in a romantic part of the range. The swags, looking capacious enough to hold provisions for a week, were in charge of the men who were to accompany the expedition, and about half past 9, this advanced guard started,

the guests following, and the rear being—most appropriately to the gentleman's feelings—com- posed of Master Black Bill and Mistress Black

Betty.

"Why should not us have a bit of chat, Betty,

as well as massa and missus?"

"I'se no objection, Billy, so long as you talk in de reglar way."

"What is tat way, Betty?"

"Why, civil, good talk, Billy, and mind,

nuffin 'bout kissin."

"Us don't talk about kissin, Betty, us does tat sort of ting!"

"Then you mus not do it, that's what I mean,

Billy."

"Oh! of course not, Betty, except when massa he turn de corner, ten we may."

"No, den you must not do it. I no allow not one kissin all dis day!"

"Not if I admire you, and begin to say, Betty she look so pretty, and she so very nicely dressed, and her pretty lips dey do look so temptin?"

"There now do stop your jabber, do, and take one, only one, when dey shoots round de corner Now, Billy, now, quick!"

Quick as it was it was not quick enough to be concealed, but on the party went, descending into defiles and glens so beautiful, that exclama- tions of delight were frequently heard from all. The prospect over the low-land—ever and anon as they reached a spot where they could look through the trees—was most enchanting. Hill and mountain, rocky fastnesses and patches of scrub, the scene ever shifting, and always hav- ing some new feature, made this romantic spot most interesting and attractive.

About half past 10 the party arrived at their destination. It was at the foot of a hill which rises out of a valley which is densely wooded, having here and there patches of open grass land, some large enough for a cricket ground, and others only of a few feet in diameter.

"Now, Betty," said Mrs Sinclair, "if you have really completed the kissing, please to take charge of Miss Mary."

"Here, Billy," said Mrs. Sinclair, " I want you."

Master Bill ran merrily up, but stopped short as he saw Betty behind Mrs. Sinclair, holding up both her clenched fists as if she would give it him; but he had no time for much thought, for Mrs. Sinclair accosted him with a question which unfolded the mystery to his acute under-

standing.

"Billy, you must not be too free with my ser-

vant, do you hear?"

"Free? I do assure you I neber wishes to be

free with him at all!"

"I did not say him, Billy, I said my servant!" "Do you mean—Oh! of course you do, you mean Betty! I neber free wit her, Missus Sinclair, I al'ays 'spectful."

"I dare say you are."

"Al'ays, missus, I do assure you!"

"Except when you kiss her along the road,

Billy."

"Me kiss 'long de road? Tat very good, very good indeed. I neber hear a better ting."

"I told mistress you did do it, Billy, so 'tis

no use to deny it."

"Me deny it, Missee Betty? I neber deny nuffin. I only say, 'tat very good.'"

"Which do you mean is very good, Billy? Your speech is not very clear."

"Not bery clear! no, it is not bery clear which I mean, Missus Sinclair; but de fact is, I so much pleased wit eberybody and eberyting, tat I link I could kiss eberybody."

"Which I would not 'vise you to attempt, you impudent follow," said Betty. "I reg'lar

'shamed on you!"

"Now, just see tis, Missus Sinclair. Madam, I only just express tat I in mighty good humor, 'tis my way of speakin; but I will promise——"

"Not to kiss my servant any more to-day!"

"Not for de present, Missus. Sinclair, uo more at present, as tey say in de letter's."

The lunch was a splendid affair. There were pigeon pies, ham, tongues, roast fowls, chicken pies, and an abundance of other pastry, with ex- cellent cheese to follow, some most inviting salad, and mellons and pineapples. It was not a teetotal lunch, for there was pale ale, stout, wine, and champagne. Nor was it a formal lunch, for everyone put on tho free and easy to their heart's content, and thoroughly enjoyed

themselves.

Nor was it a hurried lunch, for tho shade was delicious, the grass elastic, the air balmt and soft, the scene all around attractive, the conver- sation pleasant, and the ring of merry laughter, which rang through the valley, might have been

heard far away.

Then they had a song or two, and Mr. Coles recited a scene from "Katherine and Petruchio" which provoked many a laugh, and was received with much applause. Then a proposal was made to take a walk, and a unanimous assent being given, the banquet came to an end.

The lengthening shade, however, bade them remenber that they had to get back to the sta- tion, but not before they had explored a num- ber of nooks and corners and fairies' haunts, as Miss Mary Sinclair called them, did they think about home. It had been a most enjoyable day to all, and when the beautiful coolness of the evening breeze invited them to drink in its pre- cious influence, they all declared that "they had never enjoyed themselves so much."

How often this phrase is repeated in life! If true, each enjoyment is something better than the last; what will the last be if these are good? Not one joy is felt here, but something of dissatisfaction defaces it; there! up there, felicity will be complete. This was the purport

of the conversation homeward.

"What a beautiful world this is!"said Mr.

Coles.

No one had any objection to make just then, so no one replied.

"It is true," continued Mr. Coles, after a pause, "there are many drawbacks."

"You are right," replied Mr. Sinclair, "every where you find them."

"And everywhere they are deserved."

"I don't see that, Mr. Stewart. Mind ye, I'm not speaking of myself now, but I've seen many of the best people grievously afflicted."

"What is they talking 'bout?" said Betty to Bill, as he returned to her side after going for- ward to his master, who had cooeyed for him.

"'Bout bumberlation, or sumting like tat." "Bumberlation? What's dat, Billy?"

"Sumting 'bout music, I know, but what part, I can't zackly recollect."

"Bumberlation 'bout music! Now, Billy, you are cramming me."

"Cramming you, my dearest loved one? I neber crammed nobody in my life."

"Well, den, tell me what you mean."

"Fust and formost, now, Jeroosalem! I'se tellin you de truth. Mr. Coles said dey cumed out of great bumberlation."

"Dat ar'n't music, stoopid, dat's Scripture. I knows it well. Dat's in Revelation, it is! and it says dat dey sealed ever so many thousand—

I can't exactly any how many.."

"Sealed 'em? What with, Betty?" "In dere foreheads, Billy."

"In dere forheads? Betty, how cumed dey

to be sealed in dere foreheads?"

"Don't you know, Billy?" "Can't say dat I do, not zacltly."

"More do I, Billy, but I thinks it means something better dan we can 'magine. Billy dat

dere sealin is done in heben."

"Is it, now? I shouldn't wonder. Ebery- ting is rale genuin dere, no artificial, nor no humbug dere, Betty, now you have it, rale cer-

tain."

"Don't you feel it in your heart, Billy, when de minister talk to you 'bout heben?"

"I feels it in my heart, now, Betty, quite warm like, it makes me right happy."

"Does it now, dat must be very nice; I wish

I could feel it oftener!"

"Do ye now? by Jabber! Den, Betty, give us one now, I feels as if I could take ten tousand."

The indignation of the black woman was great when she found that she had been talking about heaven, but Bill had been interpreting her con- versation in a very grovelling way indeed. She pouted her lips, and declared that "he may do what he liked, but she had done with such a profane creature."

Billy began to laugh, with the whites of his

eyes turned towards his companion, but a loud shriek attracted their attention, and looking ahead they beheld Mis Julia apparently falling from her horse. Of course they both hastened to the spot, and found that the young lady had fancied that she saw her father like a shadow on the off side of her horse.

"It was his very image, James, and he looked at me very hard."

"You are impressed with the very unfrequent circumstance of his absence, dearest," replied

Stewart.

"No; I was not even thinking of it."

"It is a phantasm of the brain, Miss Julia," said Mr. Coles.

"Not a pleasant one either," whispered Mr. Sinclair; "I hope nothing has happened."

But now Miss Julia uttered a loud and pierc- ing shriek, and with the utmost excitement she pointed to the centre of a clump of trees, with open lips and a countenance an pale as ashes.

"What is it, dearest?" said Stewart.

She tried to speak, but her lips refused to per- form their office. There was a movement, but not a sound was heard, still she continued to gaze upon the spot. They assisted in lifting her from her horse, and laying her on the grass; they stood around her trying to sooth and turn the current of her thoughts.

"I saw my father again. He looked pale and

ill."

"But he is far away by this time, dearest,"

said Alice.

"Why, then, this impression ? James, he is

in danger!"

Alas! it was the first shadow of of great cala- mity. They managed to get her home by gentle stages, but she was greatly excited all the way and not until the morning was about to break did she fall into the arms of slumber. But everyone hoped that it was only a temporary indisposition, "brought on," suggested Mrs.

Coles, "by the heat of the sun."

Mr. Sinclair had his own opinion, but wisely kept it to himself, until he was alone with his wife. "Mary," said he to her, "there is some- thing dreadful impending over that house."

"May the Lord forbid," replied Mrs. Sinclair; but they talked about it as they lay watching in their sleeplessness, until long after midnight." [To be Continued.]