Chapter 138665331

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Chapter NumberNone
Chapter Title
Chapter Url
Full Date1898-04-16
Page Number31
Word Count1764
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946)
Trove TitleA Knot of Jasmine
article text




"Run away Suze, love, an' don't be tI'.-ilin* Mumma'e raisins. Look here, my

itie gel," said the woman, smiling at the ;,i]d, "there won't be none left ter put

the duff fer daddy's dinner to-morrow." (Jiv' us a han'ful, mumma, an' Suzie ,ui't bother yer no more," eaid the child ?uxingly, holding out a chubby brown md, and jerking her pink sunbonnet to :c buck of her head.

Such a winsome, dimpled, little creature he. was, in her short pink frock, bare i-ined, bare-legged, and brown as a berry, a li a tangle of yellow hair and bright blue ,'os, as she stood there smiling at her .other, her moist red lips parted, and hnwing a row of milk-white teeth.

"There, now, Suze, run to yer dad a bit,


In V asleep under the waggon," raid the u.'iimn, as she filled the child's hands. "H:;!. will ye have an eye to the child?"


aye, missus," a 6leepy voice iniMvi i,from under the waggon, where Mi . l.V, hawker and carrier, lay with a ? ;-.I per over his face, dozing off the . ' is of the township tanglefoot.

"Come 'ere, Suze; come an' stay along .-i'ii? o' yer old daddy." He settled him > li comfortably, and turned lazily on hi6 "i her side. Little Suze had pulled a ivis]) of shivery gra6S as she caine along, uid she Blyly began tickling the back of Jier father's neck.

"Now then, Suze, quit that there ticklin', i ye hear, yer young noosance yer," said ilie man good-naturedly.

"If I'm a noosance" pouted Suze, "wot lid yer have me fer, dad? 'sides, I ain't i noosance; ante is a noosance, 'cause they liite like fun; goanners is a noosance, so's -nakes an' buzz-flies, an' dingoes; but little -'els ain't no noosance," said Suze, shaking

ior head wisely. "I didn't ask yer ter l ive me-God sent me, muwma told me."

"Some little gels I know is rum little 'n'ggare," said Bill Jolley, rolling over, and ' Iting his hat, to look at the child, "but

m ain't a bad little stick, takin' yer y, and large. Look 'ere, Suze, you jio >n' cut a branch off that strychnine bush ver there, my gel, an' keep the buzz-flies if o' yer poor old daddy while he has a ? nooze."

Little Suze ran to the edge of the river, nd came back carrying a glossy green ranch. She eat down patiently, and

flapped away the flies till her sturdy little

brown wrists were tired

Bill Jolley was snoring in the shade of the cart as the sun went down.

Little Suze lifted hm hat gently and

peered into his face.

"There ain't no flies on dad now, an' I'm awful tired-'sides he's fast asleep. Shoo; garn out o' that, you ugly old go anna, an' don't come 'sturbin' my dad if you had a dad ter fan ter sleep yer'd give little gels like me a Barcoo start. My dad's awful sleepy to-day. Mumma says it's tanglefoot what makes him sleepy, but dad says it's swipes. Wonder what swipes is. I say, dad, yer don't want yer little gell ter stay here no more? Do yer dad? Do yer dad? There now, I've asked him three times, an' he never said nothin', so I'll go an' have a play with my baldheaded child." Suze went to a hollow tree. From it she produced an arm ful of cardboard boxes, and a battered wax

doll, with no hair on.

"Was yer lonely without yer mother, baldheaded child," said Suze, fondling the



SIR JOHN MADDEN AND SUITE IN CAMP. (Hi.hard* and Co., Photo., Ballarit.)


doll; " 'cause yer see I had to fan my daddy ter sleep. Daddy's is such noosanoes, bald headed child. Don't you never buy no daddies; you have God for a big daddy. When I go to God I'll take you with me, an' you'll have wings same 'e me, an' your hair'll grow long again, an' so curly. Motlier'll be an' angel too, an' so'll daddy, hut he won't get no tobacco and tangle foot up there: he'll be yarded up. keepin' his feather wines clean, an' plavin' tunes nn a gold harp like a good'un. Stay there a hit, baldheaded child, an' I'll make you a castle on the road, where it'll stand without tumblin' down. There ain't no huiiipety-bumpetys on the road like there is on the erass. You lie there a while, mv denr, an' kiss your mother 'fore she goes."

Little Suze planted the doll amongst the tussocks, and ran off to make the castle. Hot work it was making that castle. Little Sii7P took off her bonnet. pushed her curls hack, and flapped the flies from her face.

"Now it's all ready for my bald-headed r-liild: she will hp hnppv and romfv in her new house." She brought the doll and pined it in the castle.

"Til g.ither some flowers, an' make yer a hokay, bald-headed child," said Ruze. and ^ho ran to the river bank, where the blue bells grew long and rank.

A light buggv was coming aloni the road drawn, by a pair of ponies, and in it were a vounc man and a girl-a pretty girl, in a pnol white gown, and a rose-laden hat.

The vonnjr man was looking tenderlv at the girl's face, but the girl's eyes were bent

on a great basket of starry-white jasmine she carried on her knee.

The ponies were going fast-the young man glanced quickly along the road, saw the white boxes a good way ahead-then he looked again at the girl's face.

They were now very close to the castle; the young man had his finger ready to turn

the rein.

Presently a little figure dashed from the scrub that bordered the road. "My bald headed child, you'll kill her, you'll kill her," cried Suze, holding her arms out be fore her to stop the ponies ... a sharp scream, and little Suze lay trampled to death-her life-blood mingling with the hot red dust of the road.

The young man and the girl leapt from the buggy, and bent over the crushed figure. He put his hand on the child's


A woman came swiftly through the scrub, her face ashen-nale-she waved the man and eirl aside, and bent over thp tinv fi«nrp, kissed the bleeding mouth, and clenched the dust of the rond in her agony.

"Th' onlv thing T loved in this world." she moaned, "my-little-Suze-mv-pretty -laughing little gel. My baby! Was it for this T brought you into the world?"

"Take her aside for a moment, Alice." said the young man. "and turn away your farps."

The girl put her arm round the woman, and forced her to turn aside . . . the man gentU* laid the little body upon a buggy cushion, and covered it with a linen rug ... he touched the woman's shoul der^

"Where to?" he asked.

The woman pointed to the bank of the river where the waggon and tent were. Hp carried the burden in silence, and placed it gently on a rude bank.

"Where is your husband?"

"He's gone ter th' township, mister." said the woman. "He only went a few minutes ago."

"T must see the police. ... T can't tell you how sorry I am." He wrang the

woman's hand.

" "Twasn't vour fault, mister." said the woman, sobbing. "I seen the whole thing with mv own eyes."

He drew the frirl aside, and whispered. The woman and the girl went into the


The erirl washed the tinv facp and hands, and put a lace s^arf round thp head. Thf>n «hc n'aeed jasmine sprays in the little


"Thank ve, miss, thank ye." said thp woman, holding out a worVcoarspned hand that shook like a leaf. The girl took it in


"There was a doll of piv little SUZP'S. TtV lavin' in the road. If ve's get it I'd thank ve kindlv. miss, dear."

"T'll run for it." said the eirl.

The woman watched the eirl awav. Then with stout iron skewnrs she pinned the flap's of the tent together, and secured her self aeainst. intrusion.

"Hpre is the doll." said the girl. "Will von W mp come in?"

"T'd rather ve didn't. T'd like ye'd leave mp a'one with my little dead Suze, please


"T'm frightened to leave you there alone." said the girl-"it seems so wretched-oh, do lot mp come in-do let me in."

"T'll be a'l right, mi=s. Will ve sit at tlip door of the tent till I call ye?"

The girl sat outside, waiting, waiting, till

she was tired.

The woman took the doll, and folded it in the arms of the dead child . . . with a knife she stealthily rinpen an opening in tlip back of the tent, and stole out +o where a heap of harness lay. . . . Taking a

pair of hobbles, and smiling strangely, she went back to the tent. She kissed the lips of the dead child . . . then she bound the body to her own breast, placed her hands together, and slipped tbe hobbles over them . . . then she staggered to the edge of the river.

"Lord <;od." said the woman, sobbing, "look down siiion a sinful woman-you gave Tin- my little &uze- you took her from me th' only creature I loved-tii' only thing 1 had to brighten my wretched life-Lord (Jod let the mother's soul go with the sou! of the little sinless child; don't part us. for Christ's sake. Amen. . . . There wa? a

1.]1--«h') . . . and rings formed on

T1 j<- sulfa1'" of the water.

The girl waited at the tent door . . .

-lie heard no sound.

"Let rue in." she cried. . . . No an-wer kmiio. She dragged out the skewers, and foreed her way in. The tent was empty. The slit in the tent caught her eye. She looked through. The long grass showed that

iiii'-one had pas=r-d it lately. . . . She ran to the river bank . . . footmarks were ori the bank . . . and as the girl

vr.r'il'ring, a knot of starry white ias 'tr,vr-r- floated past. . . She e..y(.«v d !e-r faro with her hands. . . . T' e j.tsmir.c flowers to'd their own story.