Chapter 139158137

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Chapter Number
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article139158137
Full Date1900-11-03
Page Number50
Corrections1
Word Count1976
IllustratedN
Last Corrected2019-01-14
Newspaper TitleThe Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946)
Trove TitleA Long Golden Day
article text

THE STORYTELLER

A LONG GOLDEN DAY.

By M. BURKINSHAW.

Elaine leant caressingly over the back of

her fiance's chair. She was slender and blonde, and he was big and dark, but for all that observant strangers noticed a

similarity in the moulding of their faces,

particularly in the squareness of the

straight chin, delicately modelled in her

face, rough hewn in his.

'Jack," she said, dwellingly tenderly on the name, "suppose we take the horses to- morrow as far as Dingo Gap, and spend

all day together—a long golden day. You are going away on Tuesday for so long that

I want the last day all to my own very

own self."

Jack rubbed his cheek against the white hand on the back of his chair.

He was not so sentimental as Elaine

was, her sisters said, but was every whit as fond.

"You know there is nothing I would like better," he answered. 7f ^ ^ke the Quart end make tea ?nd I Will ask Sarah for sandwiches and brownie. We must have brownie, Jack, to be real bushmen, and you must tell m! everything you did before you knew JJ and whether you ever liked any other girls. Open confession is good for the soul

you know." '

And so the matter was settled

Nest morning grey dawn had gi'ven place to day, a day promising to be hot and fine, when Elaine threw open the French wjndows of her room and stepped mt m her nding habrt on to the verandah Jack was fjady and waiting with the horses and they were soon on the road skirtlS the Isgoon, across which a flock of *ilf duck were wngmg their way, and where a few large homed bollocks stood knee water.m feed® wbich fringed the . Presently they left the station, bathed ili i T,oriiVlg liSht» behind them, and l^e thfougB the light-irood scrab, along bndfe tracks where the,overhanging &f,n^J,ru^1¥ Elaine's hair, aad left little twigs and down-drifting leaves round the brun of her sailor hat. They purposely chose a round-about path to Dingo Gap! It wasso sweet riding through the shady tambered patchefi, an"d "we will take the short cut home," said Jack.

Elaine shivered.

'?'} ^he thought of going home," she Sj\l ^ fE?^?n day will be over then, T there will never _be another quite like

it. No, never."

Jack laughed.

"How tragic we are becoming! There will be three hundred and sixty-five golden days for us in every year when we are mar

ried. sweetheart."

Elaine smiled and blushed, swaying dain

tily in the saddle before him.

At about midday they reached the bend wfcjch bore the name of Dingo Gap. Years before ft new chum bad ridden down and despatched a dingo here, and this being the only useful tiling he had ever done on the station, it still lived to his credit in the name of this pocket of land.

It was a cod, shady spot-an ideal place for lovers to dream away a drowsy after noon in, and I am afraid Sarah's sand wiches were somewhat neglected, for a time, at any rate, for presently the quart liav uig boiled over twice and partially put the fire out? tea was made and drunk with water "just off the boil" (and what can be more horrible?), and then the saddle-bag with tbe luncheon was inspected.

That being accomplished. Jack found a comfortable seat on an old lichen-covered log for Elainc£ where he could stretch him self, on the grass at her feet, loosing up lazily contented into her fair, rosy face.

"Now, Jade, now your story."

"My story? My dear girl, you are my

story.**

"ftubbieh! I won't tell my past if you

won't tell yours!"

"Poor little black past! T&i away! Ladies first, you know, Ellie."

Bat Elaine looked grave as she began.

"Verv well. There was once a man " "Really, would yon mind if I smoked,

dear?"

Elaine seemed a little vexed, but has tened to answer in the affirmative, and Jack produced bis wipe.

"I can bear sl^eckB better when I am smoking, yon know," he explained, with a twinkle in his brown eyes.

"Don't interrupt again. Jade. It "~a9 when 'I was at school-I was only 17 and-and I thought be was handsome. He wasn't; he wag only pretty-blue eyes and golden curls-a little doll of a man, I think now, but I didn't then. Mid I met him at a dance once in the holidays-and, oh! Jack, he took me home,

and-and-he kissed meF'

Jack rolled over on his ride to conceal

Asmile.

^That was a pity," he said, in a choking

voice.

But there was worse than that. 1

mean to tell yon everything. Jack, that you may know exactly what1 am. There

was worse--"

"Hie devil there wis!". Jack was not smiling now, but was sitting up very straight, and looking op at the little figure on tae log. "Go on, JSUlne, let's have it

all."

"I-J-kissed him back again!" Jack's laughter caused considerable consternation amongst a "bappy family," which had con

afcaa&d In a tren shorn their heads, and

. in a bee above their heads,

s fled, screaming sod chattering, m

All directions.

He put out his hands, and drew the little face down to hia own, kissing 1><* Up*. ' --v.- ".y"' -? "? '

."There. That U cancelled now! So that js a complete edition, is it, *-me Well, never mind. I don't want to hear aily more/* t --;- '''. ?

_JTBut, T do/ Jfickj I want yonr story now. *ou told me there was a girl once, i don't wifcd if you were in love with »«".

S liU about just as If we were mar

' lool^d thoji^itfu]. "I don't know ha.ve i^nch to tell. . . . . There was

unnoftced. ? . _ ? .

[id you eym- kiss hor, Jack? , l*T Jade's answer vnu decided, not

Archer had known her, M a child,, and she had' been- left" vtery badly off by her husband."

'Elaine started. "I did not know, she waB a widow, Jack."

"Well, that doesn't make any difference, does it?"

"No. I suppose^ cue was rather-old, wasn't she?"

"She did not look it, but I don't ask women's ages. She w'as very clever. There was not anything she had not read, and she seemed always to know what interested people; she played well and composed music, and, by Jove, she could sing.

Jack's eyes sparkled^ he was quite in terested in bis own description, and did not notice Elaine's face. ?

The "happy family" hiring removed to another tree, were watching the pair with suspicion, dancing amongst the branches. Years afterwards Elaine remembered how a puff of wind blew the strange scent of almonds from the sandalwood trees on the flat towards her.

Jack continued. "Yes; I was a youngster in those days, and I had never met a woman like her."

"And I suppose you never will again." Elaine's voice came coldly through the sum mer air.

Jack glanced up, but she was looking1 past him, apparently interested in the! movements of the birds, who seemed to clumour for notice.

"No; I suppose not." And quite uncon sciously he sighed.

"She had a way of coming into a room "

"Oh, please don't describe it." inter rupted Elaine sharply, rising and shaking out the skirt of her nabit. "Don't you think it is time we started for home?"

Jock flushed and raised hiB eyebrows. "Ellie! you need not pull a fellow up short like that-surely you aren't jealous?"

"I should think not indeed! What do I erne about the^-pereon?"

"You need not be so scornful, dear. She was a good woman and--"

.'Oh-I daresay! And clever-that is the limit) thing!" .

"13ut not 60 pretty as you are, sweet." " But Elaine was not to be mollified, some chance word had carried more weight than Jack intended, "and the obstinate lines be gan to show ill both faces.

"You are confoundedly touchy, Ellie."

"Jack! How dare you speak to me like that!"

Jack shrugged his shoulders and whistled.

"You bothered me for the story, as you t ailed it. I'm sure I did not want to rake

up the past, and you don't suppose it is pleasant for me to near that you nave been hugged by a little beast of a music-master or something."

Jack's feelings were hurt,, and, as a natural consequence, he was growing

angry.

"Music-master!" Elaine tossed her head. "At least he did not run after other men's wives."

"Don't be absurd, Elaine, the woman's husband was dead before I knew her."

"I don't believe you." Elaine was too heart-sore to choose her words,and, woman like, said a great deal more than she in tended.

Jack was white now.

The "happy family" gossiped and quar relled, after the manner of happy families all the world over, and, with their little, grey heads on one side, hopped from twig to twig of the bi« iron-bark tree.

Elaine stole a glance at Jack. Now that fIic had really offended him she began to feel happier. Perhaps, after all, he had

not carea much for the other woman, and he had never kissed her, at any rate. She

rubbed her cheek reflectively with her

hand. * 1

Jack looked at her, and she had never .seen quite that expression in his eyes be

fore. ,

i "She was at least a lady, Elaine."

"And am 1 not?" Two crimson spots burned in Elaine's cheeks, and she drew her little form to its full height.

She.looked awfully pretty, Jack thought, but he was determined to give her a les

son.

"She would not have given a man-a man she professed to care about-the lie direct, as you have just done, knowing that your sex protects you from the. answer

that it . deserves."

Elaine fairly gasped.

And this was Jack- Jack who had lain at her feet, who had obeyed her every wish. -who had been so

§lad to come but to spend a long, golden

ay-alone with her-Jack, who had only

cared for men's society before, but who had fallen captively so completely to her bow and spear? Had he ever really cared? Was the love all on her 6ide after all?

"If you will* get the horses we will go home,' she saia tranquilly. And Jack strode off, crushing the wild white daisies savagely underfoot and asking himself why men were such fools as ever to believe a woman cared for anything beyond her petty vanity and more petty pride. They rode home by the short cut in comparative silence. The dusk was shutting in the station homestead as they passed through the slip-rails of the home paddock. A soli tary dog in one of the huts barked, and

a few men came out to stare.

, Jack lifted Elaine from her horse with cold politeness.

"I will not be over this evening," he said, and she nodded silently with a little scornful smile; too proud to speak lest her

voice should tremble.

And this was the end of the long, goluen

day.

People marvelled that Jack Hutton never returned to Brolga after his trip out west".

Elaine's sisters tcazed her and sang the ''Banks of Allan Water," dwelling especi ally on the lines, "A soldier false was he." But Ada, the youngest, declared it was all a mistake, and merely a matter of obstinate chins, and who shall say she was not right? In course of time Elaine married someone else, and Jack announced liis intention of being, an old bachelor. When asked the reason why, he once confided to an inqui sitive junior that one day's tete-a-tete had spoiled him for a life-long duet. And if there was any bitterness underlying his words .the boy did not remark it.