Chapter 142922655

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Chapter Number
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article142922655
Full Date1910-03-19
Page Number51
Corrections0
Word Count2477
IllustratedN
Last Corrected1970-01-01
Newspaper TitleThe Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946)
Trove TitleTold by the Golly-Wog
article text

THE STORYTELLER.

TOLD BY THE GOLLY-WOG. I

Br M. FOBBiEST.

T am a GoIIy-wog. My face is black, my J

eyes are composed of two white liuen

buttons of the kind you buy on fourpenny |

cards at sale-time—dozens of them—and for i

a pupil a small black shoe button, and yet j they are full of expression. The child t knew, she used to put both her little hands j inside me, and talk to me for hours. She j had the funniest fancies that child. I am j

sui'e she was not like other children, with j

her talk of goblins and trolls, and those un

canny creatures. You see, my body con- j sists merely of a blue coat with three brass buttons in the front, and a red skirt. A grown-up person can slip their liand inside my c-oat and waggle me on two fingers. I am all head. That is why I thin]; so much; but she could get both her hands into my coat—so small they were—and that was how she slept at night—my black cheek against her fair one, my tuft of hair pressed

close to her flaxen curls. " j

I remember the open window, the pas- j sion-vine that grew outside swaying one j slim, dark arm across the blue beyond, in J the bright moonlight. I remember a man's j

angry voice, and a woman's4sobbing in the j next room. Those Blow, dry sobs, "that ;

come from an agonv past bearipg. I re- . member how the child turned in "her deep, r sat.straight up—she waB always wide*awake j

in a minute. I remember when die called

"Mamma!" that the sobbing 'ceased-i suddenly, but the' sound jif tlig door ' slamming Jjehiijd the' mah, who .stepped j

unsteadily out into' the moonlight, woke the ?

sleeping sparrows in the poiuciana tree, ruday witn blossom by day—apd then

She crept in, her arched feet bare, her pale blue kimono huddlpd about her, crept in and nestled to the child. They, flattened me considerably between them; they seemed to quite forget I was there. Phe drew the little, sleepy, flaxen head ngaiust her heav ing bosom. "When you are a big woman, Marcia, never marry any man—he'll break your heart for' you," sue wailed, and as Marcia did not understand a word of it, but had her own baby fashion of casting out a comforting little hand—while she fiercely sucked the thumb of the other (a way, of hers when she was concerned about any thing), the mother became quieter, and pre sently they both slept.

There I lay squeezed to death between them- till the morning. But he did not come back.

I was rather glad he didn't, for he used to make fun of me when he was in a-good humour* stand me op my dieftd and teaze the child, who knew I had my feelings.

So we settled down to being rather a com fortable trio, and the child divided her love j between us and the lame cat that walked ] in at the front door one day. and refused to be shifted. The child used to make lue ride i on his back, ; d I did not * -mind

that until lie told me that lie felt sure, by the sniff of it, that I

was wearing the fur of a dead relative of his on ray head — after that indelicacy I naturally refused to become closely asso ciated with him.

The child used to be languid in these days.

She felt the long summer, and sometimes] she moaned in her tiny cot at night, and

seemed to breathe with difficulty. One day' she was ill, and I shall never forget how she held me against her little hot side. "Oh! mamma, make me well!" while her

mother petted her, and sent for the doe-j

tor.

He was a young man, fine and strong-look ing, with a face that reminded me of the

picture of a monk, done in 6epia, which ] hung over the din in groom mantelpiece. 11 remember hearing the Man AVho Went | Away asking his wife why she kept tliat i dreary-looking thing there. He would I have preferred a good racing subject.] "The man's eyes are always following me

about," he said, testilr. It was after one] of his late nights. "They give me the jim jams." "I don't know," she answered, dreamily: her eves on the monk. "I don't know; but there is something that soothes and fascinates me about that, pic ture. It has been in our family such a long time, too, and nobody quite remem bers who it is. or who painted the origi nal. Some Italian of the seventeenth cen tury, I think. It is very old, you know,

Frere."

"Old enough for the rubbish bin." he growled, and he spilt his coffee on the tablecloth, and swore at the maid. He wasn't a nice man at breakfast. The child sat in her high chair, and ate her bread and milk. She was like a mouse when her father was about, and she hid me in her lap for fear he should laugh at me. But the face over the mantelshelf must have im pressed itself upon her, because, ill as she was, when the doctor stepped into the room, the first" thing she said, when she opened her eyes, was: "Oh, how did 'oo get out of de frame?"

I never saw her mother blush so prettily as she did while she explained. Sne was always a pale woman, but this morning her soft, bronze-coloured hair was banging over her forehead, and the neck of her mus lin gown was loose, showing her slender white throat. It struck me for the first time that, even to a gollv-wog's critical eye, she was a dainty and desirable young person. There was something the matter with the child's heart. She was born like that. The doctor did a lot of punching and testing with his ear-trumpet things, and I saw a sorry look in his eves. "She needs great care," he said. He had a fine-lipped mouth, a little fuller than the man's in the picture. "And so you love your Golly Wog?" He patted her little arm gently. "Does he sleep with you all night? I did not know Golly Wogs could shut their eyes?"

"lie sees the big, dark," said the child. Already she seemed better, "and he keeps all de bogie things away.".

It was The Man Who Went Away who used to frighten the child about the bogie man. Her mother always talked of good Fairies, kind little moon-rays and star-fays who swing in the Milky Way; but of course the memory, o/the.bogic-man stayed longest with the child. - . -

It is impossible for a GollyJSyog to shed tears. . You see, they' are only reatlr hteant For absurdities, and much as they feSl fiome of iheip) the universal ridicule .they ate held up to, they mpst just hit and grin with their fingerless b^dserect and their'Mir on /end.. Bntl.remcraber the night She diea . . Tne thin gold-crescent setting *$£ hind the slim black poplars in the garden— the stars 'pricking through God's "blue tent,

the distant song of the sea. jf

The doetos's face, as - he listened atrSjter heart, the gentleness of his big hand as he drew the sheet across her face—and once again—the sound of a woman sobbing.

"Hush, little one," he said tenderly, as I had never heard The Man Who Went Away speak, "Hush, little one, it is best; she could never liavp grown up, you know

—sooner 01* later—it must have been."

They took the mother away,.and ? put.one on a shelf in the room; 1 could see that

straight small figure op- the bed- Hy the window the-lajne"catpuirred; he had xoun^ a newspaper td ljeion/artd M -Iqye that; lie.was rocking himself "to Bledp wltb hits silly purr. A fight huijied eur the -table.. A still-laced. woman from * neighbouring house had come]in to watpb. by - iand to straik the small .white body.. Fjrom "the garden came the'lsce&t df tlaWjj-dew on tlie roses, and the night breath of lilies, j eat on the dutsy shelf and staredinto the dark beyond. She djd not need tod to keep A'de bogie things" away -from'her any more^ >

The maid dusted -j»Uvdow(i- eventually^

and took me into'Ike

me under the pfiStiire bl-the wowift

"The door, *dpll,!' ,sne sah wonder if sha Atiflen-al:beStig a doll—I who ftpx aAoUy^wog of jfoHy-b but she propped uaeTip unaweiiton her dusting/^ ViCvihi .*

In the chiiaV nUMety. ihq sn^T tf ttroet rose afid fading ?whtte blodnah'salT lingered. On the garden path the marks of the

beds of the men who carried out the , row white .coffin, had been, raked over/j

it was flUiet ae death In the house. m

times I heard the - soft -rustling of-l

'mother's black gown, but I had:Jiot seen

her since they took the baby away; but when the maid had finished dusting she came into the room—a frail ghost of the woman I remembered before the baby >vas

ill—with a letter in her hand. I

She sat down, and looked out of the win dow at the poinciana tree, the pathway blind with boughs, the glimpse of the painted gate.

Very quietly the doctor came into the room. They did not Bhakc hands: they just stared, eatiug up each other's laces with their eyes.

"He wants to come hack —the letter about baby — has been a great shock —lie says he is going to mend his ways—he asks me to take him back."

Iler eyes were full of questions, raised to his.

He turned his back abruptly. It was a, nice back, in light-grey tweed, and be wore white duck trousers, and carried brown gloves. He was the handsomest man I had I seen since I came straight from a charity I bazaar and an old maid's workbasket, to this house. She did uot seem to think liim

rude. She still questioned from blue eyes,; dull with weeping.

He wheeled round.

"Could you stand it?" I thought that was brutal; but perhaps Golly-wogs don't understand, for all their big heads.

"No," she answered, simply, and it seemed as though fairy fans wafted into the room a hint of spicy blossoms in the green gar den outside. "No."

"The child is gone now, Mignonne," he said, crossing his arms, and standing like a big Napoleon before her, "You have only yourself to think of, and "

"And what?" "And me."

In the wiidernesB of greenery and sun fiiter a bird called, and a wing made shadow on the pane.

I could hear them breathing, but I never saw anyone alive stand so still as he did.

"Aud you?" The colour was back in her'-face, and the sunshiric in her eyes.

"And j-ou?" It was like the crooning of a young dove in the gum-sweet heart

of a forest.

I could almost see with my staring eyes, the irresistible silver threads drawing them together. I fell as though I must bounce in my seat.

"The maii is a proven scamp. This revulsjon of feeling caused by the loss of his child will not last. The devil was sick, the devil a saint would be." (bitterly) "I

know these wasters!"

"His child!" She clenched her hands, leaning forward, and saw me where 1 sat, the red and black and blue of me remind

ing her by some brain signal that the little

white face which the earth of the hill now "hid all too well" was the face of his child after all—her child and his—the in;, dissoluble bond of blood., bone of their bone, flesh of their flesh—the child was his —and not the child of the strong man who stood compelling her with his eyes.

1 verily believe the first grey came into her bonnie hair then, that middle age laid its heavy finger on her dear kind eyes.

She was shaking all over, but she rose to faee him.

"He shall have hie chance." She Bpoke so low t hat he stooped quickly to hear her. "After all—h^ was tier father—and so—be cause of that ouly—he shall have another

chance."

"And suppose he fails again?" He was not going to lose the game if he could help it. this big doctor man who knew so well! what he wanted, and who meant to have it,

if he could.

"Ah!" I think it hurt her, that long breath she drew. "Then—he will have had it, anyway."

She crossed and took me in her hands.

iiressed me over her heart that leapt ana

lurried so unevenly. "Good-bye," shesaid.

"Good-bve." I fancy she would have let him kiss her once, as she meant it to be

good-bye for always, but he set his teeth

ehind his fine lips. I think he knew

that if he once got her in his arms and felt her silken faee against his brown one, that neither God nor the Devil, nor hus bands nor Gollv-wojgs,could part them again.

So, being a considerate sort of man,. 1 suppose, he bowed from the doorway, his face like a stone, and went away into the sun-pooled garden.

Somehow I managed to snuggle my bead against her, so that I could not see her face; hut gradually her heart ceased to lump" so crookedly, and she put me gently back on the mantel. Then she got a chair, and climbed up, and took down the picture of the monk, and I never saw it

again.

But I warrant that, whatever became of

it, it is somewhere where she can look at it occasionally.

The husband came baok, in a clean collar, with a newly-washed expression, as though he meant to do the straight thing.

- He is home early every night. Me is hav ing a lot of enlargements done of si shocking old photograph of the child. Hie .strokes me with his small fat-palmed band when the clergyman calls.

"This was my lost darling's favourite toy," he says. Toy, indeed. He haB no sense of humour. The clergyman has. I feel he notices my comic appearance. She is very still and very pale, and most gentle with him. He Is an irreproaphoble husband now, and I am bored to extinction.

There is a simpering angel on a plaque which the father bought at a sale, think ing it resembled the dead child (it doesn't in the least) hanging wheretlie brown monk

used to be. -

Death and romance, and a great love have been in this house. Death will come again some day, I suppose; but romance never. -

Is it any wonder that I am bored.'