|Chapter Number||V (Continued)|
|Newspaper Title||The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946)|
|Trove Title||Daughters of the Seven Mile|
CHAPTER V. (Continued).
He shook Michael again, and pushed him
towmrds the door..
Ann drew nearer, her eyes sliiningwitb anger.' :
"Joe Garter!" she said, as Michael, half <Wed, came io. his feet, and ran for" Joe
with clenched fists.
There was-a glow and a fire ill his usu ally pale fact which foade it unlike any of the other faces in the hall, and, as he pressed towards Joe, pushing Ann aside, Joe met him In open fight.
"You!' You ill-bred bush coward, Car ter,"he panted," "We'll see .about it. If you mint fight stand up po it." .. . ,
;^ow. thoroughly: agitated, Ann pulied
?Michael back. - . , ;
"Stop, Michael!" she said. "He'll kill you!"
But Michael pttt her gently aside, and met the oncoming Joe with such a terrific blow that the big, heavy bellow went reeling backwards. -?
Instantly the crowd ^pressed back, -and the open fepaee of the hall was Joe's and
Ann Mew nothing of,fisticuffs,.but slie felt that Michael's hit had been clean, and well-aimed, and that -he must know some thing t>f the art of boxing. All the same, he would lave little chance with Carter, whose fist was like a piece of his own hard wood. . It stung where it hit, and its hit was swift and. sure. -
-"Stop! . Stop'!" cried everyone, as the two tnen, with dislierell<}d hair, lashed out
furiously at one another, the cause of .the disturbance forgotten now in the'passion
of animal madness.
"Stop them1. Oh, Ami! Slop them,
can't you?" cried Ada.
"Joe'll kill Michael.. Step .them! Mrs. Withers! Mrs. Carter! Stop theta!"
Ann was too distressed herself to' notice Arda's teare and bet cries of solicitations for Michael.
But there was no stoppingthe men now that they had begun.: Each man coxed ? little about the insult to himself or^tjie
Seven .Mile. the back' of tiie olher'a; miiMl rankled the thought, "Ann's-watching. Ann's trying to decide which one- of us ishe'lLjiiarry. Ann's
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starong. Shell want ja man that can't,be
^flo they fomjht, not knowing Ann's tWajhte atall.
014 Hoolieanrushed in like a bull charg ing, and tned to separate them. He trot Joe's punch full on the chest, and came back a meeker .man.
"Better let them hare it out/' lie said.
"It's diqgraiieful," retorted Mrs, Carter.
"A^olately horrible," added Mrs. Withers. 3'Joe always -was one for a
"Fourteen fights a week was that "boy's average every blessed day of his school life, and 110 mistake I'm making," mid old \Vithers.
'.'Ann, you must stop them," went Ada, hiding her face in her hands, as Michad, his mouth covered in blood, caught Joe's fist upon £be nose and staggered^ half blinded, wholly da£ed.
YHe "was losing, for Joe had the ad vantage of strength, and Michael did not know very much about fighting, not more, really, .than, any Britim Mhool-boy knows. But this big bulking Australian awoke from the depths of his soul the burning courage of a hun dred ancestors, whose strong arms had foUfjht many each fights; atkd if the Aus tralian killed him he did not care, so he were not belittled in the eyes of the woman beloved.
Ann, speechless at Michael's bravery, thrilled to an almost uncontrollable joy by his sudden turning on Joe, watched the fight, fascinated for a moment; and, then, when she realised that Michael had not the merest pulse of a chance with Joe, on a general cry from the horrified' onlookers, she rushed between them, holding theiii apart, as she might two favourite terriers, whose lives she wished to save.
' They both prowled like animals. Michael was panting, Joe was angry; bat they were still a long way from being tired. They bi»an again, and Ann got her' riding
17^Yt>ajnust stop," she -said, an J iter voice
vtaa » ctfinmaad. ?-.,=?
."Anp! . (Set away, please," panted Michad/pufiliiaglier aside, and he stooped too lowtomeet Joe's advance.
iHfr^ught the blow under the chin, Went down-with a^fiiekening thud, und struck his head on tbe:sharp edge of the piano, tp which they had moved'again in their strug gle. _ ' ?; . "«
Groaning and writhing he rolled over and lay.still.' .: -?»«**"
Joe, fearful lest he should rise agamjand losing his head > comple^y iwvF, -tBiii^ MicfieP* ?^inanimate form over with, hiB foot.Thfen he caught Ann'sarm. ' r~ /
"Sow you're mine, Ann/' be said, draw ing hef-to wards him. , -
"You toward!" was her answer,or Ann had,: unfortunately, lost her temper,' too. "You.- great, big bully, brealdaig np a peace ful party out of sheer jealousy. Take thatF . ..
Atid,forgetful of everythinganger;' she struck out at Joe, and sent hlitn back wardr^th-a,stjnging blow from her whip;
' ButAttn^iuule a furious uncontrbiled on slaught upon Joe, who was forced to shield himself from her blows.which came sharper than his own whipcracks.
"You bully! You coward!" she tried while Joe danced with rage and pain at her
wrath. - .
Stung with remorse at. his own action, bitterly humiliated at. Ann's unfair attack, for, strong as she was, inttmct prevented him from nitting back at.heiyJoe tried to ! apologise to her, and made an attempt to
pick up. the prostrate Michael. He was ready to: fall on his-knees In humiliation and sorrow, so quickly in JoeVnaturedid remorse supplant anger.
But Ann gave him no chance. All the primitive woman in her was uppermost .Th i s "great brute had crashed a'weaker man, and
she felt towards Michael in that instant as a mother might towards her hurt child. Joe seemed to her-huge and strong and unkind as a wolf who bad prowled up to ber eave door.
Thicker than rain her blows struck Joe's face and his bead and his breast,
i ..The:spectators were cowed into silence.
? nad toe situation in facr own hands, and the spectacle of Ann Wilson levelling Joe Carter to his knees was a never for gotten thing <m theSeven Mile.
Jpe,titterlyhumbled, ready to cry like a child at his own folly, felt Ann's foot push against him as be fell to the ground beside the still unconscious Michael.
, "Now/' she said, white with emotion, her words coming in quivering jerks, "I hope you're quite satisfied. You needed tliai thrashing! Joe Carter. You've needed it thoroughly,"
"Ann! Ann! he pleaded in a des pairing voice regardless of the people about. "Ann! Ann! I'm sorry. I'm
"And you'd need to he, Joe, all the rest
of your life."
She picked Michael up in her arms, and, with some difficulty, supported him as he dazedly opened his eyes and closed them again.
"Get up and go on with your dance, Joe," she said, swinging round suddenly and glaring on the amazed spectators. "And if any of you breathe a word of what has happened here to-night, I'll treat you the same way as I treated him."
"Ann! Ann! Forgive me!" cried' Joe. "Ann! you promised mc my answer."
"You've got your answer, Joe. This is the man I am going to marry."
And now, half-carrying, half-supporting Michael, she swept out of the hall with
Joe's head sank to the grouud again.No one wanted him. He' had made a fool of himself. Ann was right. He was a bully and a brag. What a fool he felt! Why, even Hilly Brown
But, even as he thought of Milly, she came out of the group of onlookers and pat her arms sympathetically about him.
He -looked up at her helplessly.
"Milly!" he whispered. Then he Jet his tired head fall on her soft breastf;and he felt the cool foldB of her mushn.. frock against his hot cheek, '. y, -?
"Let us get out of this, Joe^'she said. '-And as she helped him Out of the hall
couples, began to shuffle back to their places, and..Ada took Michael's place at the piano. . . .
No one was surprised at Milly's action. Milly was the sort of girl who would al ways have taken the beaten, .man's ode anywhere. And Ann, setting the still lasted Michael On her quicluy saddled horse, .would not have woodered at Milly sftting quietly beside Joe, comforting Jam.-**- - - v' ..
?v'-Spiinging up into the! saddle behind her ^loy^Ajin tunied homewards.
yfofaql opened his eyes again and pro ?/WnaiFiare you going to do with me, "SEaJce "you home and nurse you."
, '''JJonBense, Ann. I'm only faint. .I'll be >11 right in a moment."-:
, :"A4I' the same, .you " are coming home witibkine. You aren't fit to go back to the HflT to-night.'!
Be felt too weak to argue, and his nose .eemed to be spreading all over his face
«o aon.-; . ,? '.». Ann rode on.
"Ann! AnnI Stop!" cried a voice after
her. ."It's Alf!"
"What is it?" answered Ann -without stopping.
He caught her stirrup and ran beside her
"'Are you taking him home!"
''Yes. He's not badly hurt. But I've chosen my mate now."
"I'll bring Kitty home, too; and see what happens/'' - - . - .»
"It's a full night for us> but if dad turns us out we'can-fight."
And she rode on In silence to the Moonee gates.