Chapter 140232841

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Chapter NumberIII
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttps://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article140232841
Full Date1922-06-03
Page Number51
Corrections1
Word Count3729
IllustratedN
Last Corrected2019-12-24
Newspaper TitleThe Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946)
Trove TitleDaughters of the Seven Mile
article text

CHAPTER III.

"Well, my girl, have you decided about that goanner chap of yours yet?"

Ann.sewiiig at tbeitig, old table In ,<3u? ;; dining-room now .that tea was over,' loofcei

up, quickly as her father spoke. " ?

Though she liad lieen clever enough keep them away from the subject

Michael eiuw she reached home, rise knew ^ that the matter would be brought "up it ^ last.' And she was not prepared to discon^ " it. . ' ' - ;ss

"No.' I haven't decided yet, dad,"

replied, turning a sleeve." ' - - r;"vtyj

Alf,' cleaning bis gun.In a conier,«f ftis j.i room,' gave his father im antagonirfiei ' glaiice.' . - ; " ?-".? -i j:J.

" "Spose she can please herself whom ^fe*^

marries,'' he^iiuted.

"So one asked you la put yourepoke jn,"4'' ; -his .father. retorted. "And if you're ,.ing of Kitty Flynn, think le®=."r *

Alf, uot yet twtT months over 21,"J»(fi>^ taller thaa hie father.' - Be.had been.J^KS cepted as a man since hie sixteenth birth day, but be liad never quite

certain boyish aloofness from his

which is not an unoommon characterise^ among men buBli-boru and bred. Ann al ways to&k Alfe part, especially orer.^Kitty,

the little milliner he loved.

? "I'm -goiug to ptease myself, old

she Raid, .composedly, answering bothbei"^ fath'er and brother, "Tin deciding at-"" "" dance "on "Saturday night.". Then

to liet. mother, she ' deplored the ""-dfi fashions. "J hate tbeae leg-o^-Jau

sleeves. You never can fix them ait aHfj ^ always make mine look like -overgihj^S

haute. "How do they do it?'- She pulto4^|

?the sleeve about. " \

. "I'd have been s^psfied with tlue old.' straight ones* it I'd been you/^ear. - her mother abeentifaindedly, for she

thinking of Ann's remark.'"" "I wish you&i? f

have" a look at the bread. If 1 leave .psuts now-?. ? . r???

Aiitt -did not. wait to hear *fh*t|Ji

happen. She wasgladto "get away,; she remauiedsomeniiuutes in the '

summoning up. courage to face' flje^ sioii which she knew had already ~ "

AVlien slie reunited Alf had

gun to his rooni,_ABd her paretic*

alone.

She saw her opportunity, and opened undesirable conversation herself. v

"Vou don't hold with Alf miMTying^

milliner, dad, I know," die said, "but yoaJH

mustn't worry over bim." Kitty*s *11 light." .. , ;.

: "Kitty couldu't milk*a cow if you. pave^ her one," he said. "What's a bush

want to marry, h towngirlfor?". ^ j

"A uii took up lier sew ing, aiid bent1

it without speaking. , ' . '. t- i" ^ Tj4^|j

."And- Kitty's flighty,-" her father

011. "I know her. All the Hiil is taMdnjip about her-how she is flirting Vrithvgn niinei\ and snaree my Alf. Sily fi^ ^ is! Still, I'm glad one of you is ee|jsibl$

lie ended, plaiting a whip vigo^ouslyr'

"How's that?" asked Ann qutetly. '

?tier mothers hands shook as she cut; material. * ? . - . _

"'Wei!! You're never .going to toco 'Carter down > lor that goanher Woke, you?" ." ; ?*

"Why do you make fun -at Mi piano, dad?" .teid Ann, looking up

piir&S^a-^.v ilie'propnetors

Utentj', dramatic, - and niovlug lueture .. .-ight by . Zota Gross throughout AiK^fllk New MlaiK),' and" all' other British Wotj" iVirjwMere are informed that all ohatac-tws storyit* purely imaginary, aud it .the i aliy 4iviti({ ver^on liappens to be wentioned sonar impliestiou is intended.

wikk, ;J tamest

and Ann. glancing «*y*saw-?h«t" b*»" lace >w»s svhite and sprained wthellMuplight. _ J "WIkh's the matter, mum?"', she asked. . '-'?? Nothing. dear." Miry began witling

the material again. "Only 1 hope you xron't make a mistake in Jfout choice."

*"I hoj>eI won't. Why?"

Her iathqr plaited the long strips ol " greenhide with a set, stern face.

- *'I" think that ywi ought to know, my girl/' ho saideiiddenlj',taking his pipe from wis month, '"your mother made a mistake beiove _ .

, "Billi" cried Mary in alarm, "pill!'.'

- Ami, startled at this unusual excitement 7 l>etiireen Iter always calm parents, .put VrlrtBro lier sewing and looked from oue to

the other jjerplexedly. It ^ras evideiit that lier indecision to choose between her lovers bad been worrying them more thau she had thought. ~

V\ "What is it, mum and dad?"

''It's ^nothing, Ann," returned her mother." "Oh, Bill! How eould you?"

Alf «une back aud hung up his pun. He ^regarded the three eilcnt figures curiously for a moment, for they had stopped talking ".when he filtered.

"I'm going to bed," he announced, stoop ing to kiss his mother. 'Good night, Ann.

Xyood-night, dad." . He paused. "And I

thought 1 might as well tell y«»u now as never, I'm taking Kitty Flynn to the

dance."

His father clutched his whip. '"Dad!" reproached Mary.

. He looted at her under lowering brow*. "AH right, old girl. Good-night, my Ihiv."

"Xiiwnl-iiight, dad," repeated Alf, and he went off to bed feeling that he had stored a 'victory.

His mother ran to the door, and bolted It after his retreating figure. Then she stood facing the pair in the room, breath ^ ing heavily,., her slight, tired-Jooking little

body pressed against it.

"Now," she siid, "Ann, .1*11 "tell you. T couldn't when Alf ^as about, because Alf mustn't know. Men are harder than tronfeu, and ."

. l"5tum! nuim!" Ann .rose unsteadily to' ber feet. ."Mum! if it hurts vou like that t.h'r<M->H it, whatever it is, I don't want to fcnow." ^

. iftifc'TMis aj agitated as her mother oyer, the' matter, and once the horrible fear, crossed her quickly-working mind that at lairt'her mother was going to sjieak of her - vague parentage, an unknown' thing to

: them afi, though Ann. both as a child awl

a girl, had frequently asked about her ? mother's never-mentioned people. .. The

subject hud always been hushed 4ip. -

^Sjt^-doesaj't hurtme as much sjsU .mould ifryou made my mistake, Aun," she re 'pUed. ' "Sit down. I ."

And-eat down, and her father crossed with tender oiMtretched a ring to Jier mother. ? -

"Never mind. Mary," lie wild hoarsely, , "ff-m t-nny.. I didn't mean to mention it.

J'orgpt about it. The children can choose

their own mates'."

"Xo," ulie cried/ "Xo! Bill! You're ^Jjrought jt nji aftcr ill these years and I'll

tcil iter now." .

"But, minn," protested Ann.

Her uiotlier paid no attention to her, and, jtently thiiLsting her husband aside >he looked Iu*r daughter steadily in the eyes.

JJTears ago 1 wae a school-teacher," . site «»d hurriedly, "at Hillborougii. 1 ranglit in, a little bare there. I was IT, J only had a few *>ui>ils. some black- !-" She .was finding it difficult to speak with those ? dear, amazed eyes of Ann upon her. "i w» courted by your father ami/another nw». I didn't know which to fake, so I

. paid I'd ilei ide at a dance."

Ann drew in a swift breath as her inj»*hel proceeded.

Sour father had a bullock-team a* Joe l»a«. The oilier man had a little money and a ?preliy tougue for words. He was- a store clerk and neemed rich to. me. Anyway he talked liclus. 1 was afraid of Jiini. Ij'nt, 1 bated the school. I hated being an orphan. I "was a fool. and I accepted -him lwcause tnarrying voov fattier meant staying in the busir. which I loathed,more than anything else, ami many jug the other man meant ' leaving tin- bii.-fh, perhaps travelling about - and eeeinjr something else besides trees and

"teams and l>!ael&. Well, 1 married him. . J did travel a bit'. I went to Brisbane and

ijydney. He became a hawker of clothes «bd imitMtioii jewellery, and \ trai.clled frwii iisuij to town with hjni until mv feet "Behol i'<n but tlicre was nunc." Then

fee bought a (earn and I travelled behind it

plored Bill.and Ann, pale j^nd trembling, pnt up'he- bauds, Jrat Tilaiy poptiiiucd."

Y "I shan't stop, Bill. I was ill.Xnn. My husband Mt me «k>ne with unfriendly blacks.. Yourfatber and a Mack gin 8»vjea my life. My child died. Then the man -came back, and your father fpnght htm for m«. He "Shoos! killed bim, would have h killed him only'a young gin speared him in mistake for youi1 .father. I was free. I. married your father. He brought iue to this liorae of rest after the weal?', wander ing years." Tears filled' ber eves and her voice grew unsteady. "We made the place bit by bit ourselves. Your father cut. the timber for the' house; and We dug and towed and planted until we made it "Heaven, Ann. for each other-. For it is Heaven -to me, dear, lt's a place -.where iny feet have found rest. wl»er«i you've been born, where Alfa been born, and where I've buried your little brothers and sisters who never lived to enjoy it."

"Oli? mum! I.ittle mum!" pleaded Ann wiftly. i "Don't! don't!"

"It's the only home I've ever known, Auu. And when 1 think of you goiug away from it!"

"Mum! Who said I was?"

"If- you don't marry .Joe vou wjll, I'm not liersuuding you against Michael Farney, but 1 want you to think, because you_ know now, Ann,.'what your father means."'

' "1 do," .said. Ann gently and bowed her bead. - . ,

"You've upset yourself, my girl," slie hear*! her fattier nay huskily to her mother. Then she knew by his movement, that he had taken her into hi^ arms. ' She looked up half dully to see her mother clinging to

lun>.

?Her mother's story bad upset her and made her think of Michael, and bow be would take such a tale if site told it" to him-Michael, wlio half believed 'Australia' to be an utterly savage country. Wi»at should lie think of her mother? What should he think ctf her father? A than did marry a girl's family-all its traditions nil its good and bad qualities, when be mar-' ried her. No one could deny that. Ann '.could imagine the wild world of

her mothers only days. She _ shivered a little ''and' wondered ".if . it" Would not be well to choose' Joe aiid be done with it."1" Joe's parents were Australian and belonged -to the' old giim times. Joe would -understand 'find take no notice of anything that might have happened in tbe past. But Michael? He had only been in Australia a few months Miehael-shesbivered again. .

: "I don't wa'nt her to.jnia* Joe Carter if lie is"a man like you, BiH," 'she liefcrd -her mother eay, aiid tlieii with'ft -cry Mary turned to her. '"Ajiu, take Joe. Take Joe. Carter. Don't marry a inaii out of . your owfi envirnnriient. Oh, whv'can't you make un your inind'io take J*»e."

Ann started.' Then site said with qoiver ihg lips.* "BefAdise I jiwt can't, mother; t don't know whether either he or 51 ichael really loves me." I've got to 1* sure, be cause I aball marry whom' I love. If it is Michael I shall take hi in." -

"He will be a cross to you, Anilsaid her father. "I don't know "him, but he is not

a bush man. Re can only play a piano, and - what's tliat to a" poor man?"

"Just as good as bullock-driving, dad. I'm not turning Michael .down becansehe is a musician." -;.

"But bow are you going to decide ?".sa id Mary. "I'm sure Joe loves you." .

"Yes. He seems to. So does Michael ttTieii I eni Tiear. ? But 1 know lie likes Ada,

and at the last school break-up dance I' saw Joe kiss Millv. I don't know bo|W to .decide. And then there's Moonee to con sider. , When I think of lY and wliat it .oi&nB leaving it, I almost want Joe, and when I see Michael 1 n-ant him. , -Perhaps I'm too young to marry, too young\to make up my own- mind."

"Ann! You'll make a- mistake I am afntid. It isn't as if you knew anything about Michael. -He's almost a stranger in Hillborougb."

"Well, what do I Miow about - Joe, mother? It seems you are set against Michael without a real catise. What is your objection to my marrying him?"

x "You've only ktoown htm' a couple of moutlis, Ann. And you're known Joe since he was a -child.""

"That is nothing." .

"It is. It is a great dtvil," put in hot father. ' " " "

"And yoii've never brought him home, dear," added' Mary wistfully. ? "We don't

The fatal question ww» ad befwe' Marj'

, could praent it, sod a«* she wiiltedtef . rified for Aun1» Mriug tbe ii«tunil .re tcrt:,. '"tyeJJ,' who' are you?"' But'.vAugi «d not. '. '. }.;

"I don't knew anything about hirosave that he is a wonderful, pianist, mud V At jweaeut organist *t £t,; Stephen'*." He'e . nut outfrom England, aitdl haveji't asked

him liefe l>ecau»e lie isn't like ua.and I'm afraid lie'dfindTis rough. I feel that he's used to. better and nicer things than ever ' we've* known on the Sereji MHe. When he talks toyou |ie matea youfeelsweeter and prettier, and niter than you

"Aaort oflah>de-dah," suggested ter' father. "M.v «H, take Joe, , and don't wreck your life oy marrying someonp put of your own class." r ,~

Ann sprang upon her feet, and facedthem defiantly.

"Da I lcR»k the sort of girl who would wreck her life, dad aiid mum/'.die cried, flinging hack her superb head.

"No; No!" they answered, quietened at the sight of -her; no straight and tall and strong, subduing them completely uiider the confident master}' of Tier young

eyes.

"Can't 1 work like a man? Haven't I grown up with Moo nee, aud dad and his bullocks, and tbfe bush? Don't I-know all the heart-breaks we've liad? Haven't I suffered them, too, and hasn't the stfuggH made me so strong that I could cany six men like Michael if i had to?"

"Yes, Aim." *

Tear* were trembling on the girl's lids as

she Bat down.

"Then you'd better leave the choice of my husband to me. Trust me to follow my own heart, mum. 'I've thought-of every thing." .

"Everything, Ann?" said Mary, stressing her words carefully. ;

"Ypk, mum. What else is there to con sider?" i

'..Me, Ann." - . . ."*'?? - ' You. mum. Why you?'.'

"Do vou know who I am?" "No."

"Neither do I- Neither does anyone."

"But th«t doesn't matter, mum:" -Ann fcJt her month daiwiag.' ? t -

"It dsda't before-Michael came, ft does now: .- HeU ,want to "know who pour mother's parents -were, Ami. He's Eng

lish,-and the English are only.too ready. to believe that all Australians are .de scended from crimiualsif their parentage is obscure.^- . . . , -»

"Criminals, mum? But ;I don't under

stand. What do-you mean?". ?

"I tnean that for all I knew, Ann, your grandfather might base been .a. (reed jpdu

vict." . ~

"A . convict?" Ann almost - shrieked. "Oh! Mum! What nonsense you are .talk ing." .. r *- i

"No nonsense,.Aim. ..I've no idea "Who .my.parents were."

"J know that* mum. You've alwayare- " fused to talk about them. But it is a thing that can't matter. -v

Mary clenched her fists. "It can and it does matter, .every day, every honr, every minute of your life. .Oh! God! Why can't, the dead apeak? Why can't the Bileiice tell me who and what 1 am?"

"You're upsetting yourself too" much, Maiy," said WUaou. , ' t.'r

"You've never-tried to trace your mother and father." -

"J wouldn't dare. Think what 1 might discover. Not to know what ' blood 'is' in your. vgiua., Oh! -. God!"

"But, aiother," Aiiu said, "people don't bother. Michael wouldn't care if.he loved me. Anil we-Her pretty brows contracted. We oonjdn't pos sibly he descended from thieves-or or-or worse." ' ! ' '

"My,mother died at the orphanage where J was born," returned Mary. ''"She had been' working there. She told them that her n^rtiie was Mrs. Rartt, that her hus band, an cx-army-«ffitcr, had been killed accidentally, and she, liergelf, was an Irish

immigrant with ifo'metMtfMfa.11 anyKtieW!;" ? They^did not bother to find out anything

about +.er. Tliey thought that:shfe had never been married, for

-with her. That's ov«rJ40jyeaiw ago. Wiat

. does it matter? HoW' ceiild.srtie oe iraWd^

now? 1 think they obly told me the^afev because 1 at-ked them-mi 'often who I was,

: and tliey were Borry for me."- ' ? -

"Ifartt," breathed Ann.feiddeo light leap-;* jug fo her face- *'H*rtt?., lit a real " nabie, mum. Why did jrohj^tever^taentioif

this before?* - w >.£ «? V*-v . V;f

"Because until yon talked of marrying tliirt'KiiglHiiiian it didn'tinatter. Joe Car ter Wouldn't have cared if your' grand:

, parents had been aboriginals. 'Bitt thie«8i>j \will carc", and yori,::^o#nMft;*-Bl

yon bccome his wife'; OM'.ftty girl, if your /grandfather should- proveto le a criminal

wliat are you going .to think of ine?" ^

"Of Vou'; mum?"- Ann ran and put her arnis abotjt her. "You?" My own mother? ' Htow ooiild * nythiiffi-make-«ny dtfl^si'enbe? ? As if ^bpr dfld- fconld Iwre btfti anything

. but the vecj: Ijist of genfleinen!" .' * ' "Oh! Ann3*.' Mid Mary ^ith"a h"tfle gasp. ryWw.ai4.yb^4^jptf P«b|pB tlie dead

i fan h^tr- ^ ^rtl^^l

wjjfaiei. Kaw mstybu stop tv^^W^f-iSw^niiK'n ing. JVeioften worriM JBji^en wer u-^io my ^gratidj)»reiUs V"t a *

- wj?re ifetHue" enl -^iadoira* yo« "

: 8t0(, it's easy to settle'tile matter by tell

1 ing Micliael the factft. "" ! titon't think be'^i- ?

e^re a rap4 what'our ancestors werfe. It just shows -Jjow little yott'-luM^ ^im. : 4j$ coarae, he may- caie. But irihal stons l>im -wiifting to ^manr me-I shduW aaV ue did not love -me very mudi: - Yon <9*d did have got to leave tlie .viiole'thing to me. I'm inanying the man I love, whichever one. it .is."., ? - >"?' ... ?

'[Vcjy. well," they agreed,'and all three returned quietly to their worfc.

But they bad talked so long, aixS tJie hard morrow started so soon for'theiu, that tlie parents went to Ifetl hlmoait itteOui&y, and Ann sat alone sewing and.' thinking. "

That there could be so much tragedy

mrnmmsmmg

door Open, *ttd Alf eam£ in.. . ' .

"<AW At criedi- *»M * to* «t«*Ied nae: ^ liboqght you wewrin ..lied foflg ^Sfc!" .Ik whispered. . "I thought,you

were going to Uik all n»ht. What to the wroter?TMichied?*^

Ana nodded. - - "I only came to tell you something. "Wtrntr . .

He leaned nearer her, and whispered in her ear, "I'm married to Kitty SJ.vnn:'*

She, pat her liand to'her mouth to keep back a cry . *-i - ""

"M-married? men*' "

"A" month tir no ago when I *as in at the' Hill. Father O'Brien married in. * Bjttj' had her trade's consent. She's not -of d|e . yet." . '

"H>h! Alt!. Dad'Jl kill you wljen lie knows."^ '

Alt looked moodily before .him.

"Well, I've got to tell hith, -pod, if he

kicks uie out, he does. -If he do®n t, here 1 bring her.' : .

"Why were you in -such a dreadful hurt}*? w

"She might hare .married eomeone el&e. Everybody liked her. -

"Yes. And Michael might marry some one ei«e, and Joe might, too. Oh! I wish dad didn't dislike Kitty and Micliael so

much!" - m ? -

. "Wliat are yon going to do about Joe?"

"I don't know yet.. 1 promised him his

answer at the dance/'

"You'd better telhMicliael .and-the town push to keen away from the dance."' .

"Why?"

"Because -Toe and the bush boys 'II kick, them out if they-cot'iie/* -

"Michael is coming. And as - for the fight, we'll *ee."

"Ann-1-1 hope you-" '

"What, Son?'' . . .

, "I hope you'll be friends with.Kitty".

. "Of course I shall. I always liked her. .I'm glad- you married the girl you lovfe, AH,"

. . . _ . kisa bound' them to each ^other-for ever with its qnicki warm sympathy... > ..

"Kitty.H need a friendlikeyon.'Sis/'-Sh!. Tliere's eomeone coming.''--.; -

Aim putont the light, a «. V-'

"It might be dad,"she wliisp&red. "Quick! Quick! . Get back to your-T<»omj Good night/' . ' >.».'»

^3ood-aight, Sis.*^ . -~':rv ?;

The noise ceased, mid Auii. tiptped io her

'Biit «hc could itot «leep. §ekepi^«inr

munilg -orerand over tobersett: Hartt! Harttf Do I "know any people named Haiti? Is jt a real name?_ Was grand mother mamed?.; , Oh! Grandfather couldn't iiafe Jjeena convict! Whatnon sense! 1 wonder if grandmother -red hail! Hartt? I wish >1 cowld fiitd out, I'll tell Michael. 1 know he woo't mind. And j'et? IJe might. My poor ; little

mum! That awful man! Left alotte like that! How she has suffered, aiid I fltever knew. Ob! 1 %'lut «m l wori-ying about Michael and Joe for? -I really, love lier the best.. I don't want s innbaud. Ibnly want her., Those terrible.-blacks! My poor, poor mum! .. Where, was I then? I'll many whoever she Wants me to just'to pleage ber

"Ann! Ann!" She beard a whisper,-and ^ her mother was kneel iug by Iter lied. "I* couldn't steep-''

"However did yiou know that-4 wanted you, nium?7

bhe ^gathered the slight form to her stronfcyoungbreast, foldingit'to her-as' if t&e wotdd eomfort Marv lor all those dark, old hoara/^s if shewould give.her' now all the love and woeun-t^nderaessBhe

then lacked.1 "My brwie. jit^e^num!", ?

/ "then jro« don't think iihy the leriiv bf

me,-dear?"" V' ,

Joe Carter." t.

"I ^wouldu-t spoil your life .foc .rinytliiife,'

''Ciieep iB bf^de tne, mum. You'll need ' mjv(trins-and ^y iieart all night to make

vou forget -again -v what you i;c ^ remejn

? '^1 fight, darlmR * l^^paS^' Michfcl^

if |6U \rB)at M§n

_ ry 1 have^.

_ . wholly improlL, jlii fveil to me, nud it may oiuy set wondering."

?Ill do^wliatever you like, mum, go ii> ajeep:"' i 7

4fftd piee«»tly Mary was sleeping tired little girl on ber daughter s 1-*

- ? ; <T0 BE COSTIKUED.) - ,

. :? *.m4