|Newspaper Title||The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946)|
|Trove Title||Ria. A West Australian Story|
A WEST AUSTRALIAN STORY.
Maria got out of bed at sunriee the next winHnwg' t°u ' openin« the little square window of her room, put out her head, and leaned upon the sill to look at her domain for the first time now sole mistress.
. 8ee®ed so long a time since four days back, when Bhe went in with all her load of trouble, and the bright morning, and the sparkling dew, and the Fresh air, an«f thepipin* of the birds, and the gambolling of the calves up in the stockyard, and all the merry life of early dawn, made her heart feel so glad so glad, she thought it was quite wickedin her so she shut down the window, and she sighed, and then she went before the little
looking-glass to do her hair.
Mana's hair was red, deep red, and waved, and curled, and tangled so that it eeemecf quite a pity to touch it with the comb and h fup' el?e bought 5 and she raised it up, back from her face, and, turning round looked at the masses of it thoughtfully And then she took down the glass fiom the little nail on which it hung agS the w£w2fh wall, anil, going to the window, gazed intently at her face. Maria was not what one would call pretty; her forehead was rounded and projecting, and too large in proportion to her other features ; her nose was of no type but still a pleasant nose, original and light: and her mouth-the women all said that it was large and ugly-but it had often made young fellows long to kiss her, and do it too. The hps were very full, and the teeth large; but the hps eo red ! so red! and the teeth so white I you thought it all the better that there was plenty of them. And when she laughed, her whole face lighted up, so bright and sunny, with such a soft, kind tenderness about her dark-grey eyes, that men all warmed to her at once, and thought not of defects, of freckles, and of tan that people said so spoiled her. And when she was not laughing, when she was grave her lips were always pursed in such an odd,' fan tastic way, with so many shades of meaning as her thoughts came over her, that there was always something new to see when you
looked into her face.
d.earie me !" she sard, » I'm much changed since two year ago. I was a fuller ngurethen, and more white and red like it seems to me, The marrying, and the baby, and the work have taken it out of me to be sure. And then she sighed, and thought if only her face were as milky white and pure as the bare soft bosom and rounded shoulders she saw beneath them ; and, putting down the glass, she washed herself, and splashed about, rubbing the water over face, and neck and arms, and shoulders: and coming back' all glowing, sparkling and fresh, she smilei complacently at her reflection, and, dressing hastily, took up a bucket, and went out to the stockyard for the milking.
Sullivan was there before her; it was not part of the work that was regularly his . she generally did all there was to do about the cows and calves herself. But he said he thought that she might not be wanting to get up so earlj' this first day, and so he had come up to milk. And Maria said it was good of him to think of that, and he could milir the cows that wanted bailing, while she did the rest. And while they were sitting at t.h»ir work, with no sound save the munching of the cows at the green corn-stalks before them, and the regular squirt-squirting of the milk into the buckets, Maria thought that she would speak to Sullivan of what Bhe meant to do, and see if he would stop with her: and before she spoke Bhe turned her bead round from its resting place against the warm cow's side to have a look at hirru
He was a young man of some five-and twenty years, about the middle height, strongly built, square, and stout, and sturdy, with thick, heavy limbs; a con vict-sent out very young -but now he had his freedom, and on his oth« wise comely face was that dull, Bullea look BO often Been in men of the nam» riaaq But he worked steadily, and got through a great deal more than most; and though he was at times ill-tempered and fool-mouthed, he generally kept quiet, and went about his work in silence, and so Maria thought that on the whole she might do worse- than keea
But she scarcely knew what she should say to him about his stopping, for it would not do to let him think she could not do without him , and as she thought about ho wshe should begin, he relieved her from embarrassment by
speaking up himself.
" ^hat^re you going to do about the place*
missis ? he said.
"J-'1? 6oinR to work it on myself, Sullivan." said she. ^
His milking now was done, and he came up and stood behind her, looking down upon her, with the bucket in his hand. He smiled, and his eyes glistened as he looked and heard. "I suppose you'll be keeping on a
man ? he Baid.
" Oh, yes! I suppose I shall," Maria an
I' An' am I going to get the place ?"
If you want to have it, I don't see vrhat'fe
/'Well, I don't know as I'm against stop ping on, to help you out like, berag now by yetself. I m used to the ways of the place hy now, and I daresay we'll suit.**
" Oh, I daresay we'll suit right enough." she answered, annoyed at the manner of hta
speech, and rather uneasy at the tone he
" And for wages, you can give me ten shil lings a month more than now ; that won't ruin you, an' I'm worth it"
" No, I daresay it won't ruin me," she
and went on milking without looking no. while he set down his bucket and folded tia
arms across his chest with an air of complacency.
She was angry at his way erf talking, and she thought if he began like that he would be wanting to be master before long, and
^ him that hd need- not think he was to get his own -way in every thing-she meant to see to things
But somehow she was bothered about the way to say it. So, Maria being nervous and hesitating, and Sullivan confident and that was all they came to say about it