|Newspaper Title||The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946)|
|Trove Title||Ria. A West Australian Story|
It wnB in this wise Qeordie'a midnight
visit came About.
Some time after he got home to the place where he and Ted were living-after that night on which he said good-bye to 'Ilia, and freed himself, he thought so well, from his entanglement-he heard that she waa to be married to Jim Pitman, Their old man told him ao. Old Joe, who had been with them since they both were boys. " It's been a long time making, has that match," Baid he, " and Jim, they say, he blames it on to you. Ah, Master George, but you're the lucky man."
" How's that, Old Joe?"
" Oh 1 you're the boy the femaleB is a runnin'after. I hear that they should say you had but to stretch out yer baud and yo'd have had her. Blieep, an' run, an' all. Well, well, yo' was but a oabby yesterday, an' now it seems yo' might be having babbies of yer own. Well, well, how time goes, to be
As soon as they were left alone Teddie said to him, "You are not going to tell me, Geordie, that you've been such a fool as to let that girl slip through your bands, if what Old Joe says iB true?"
"If you mean to say I might have had her, if I wanted to, it's true enough."
" And why didn't you want to, then? Do you think you're going to get a farm, and run, and ilock of sheep, and cattle, all for the asking, any time you want."
" But they are not hera."
" They will be right enough."
" I've sweethearted with the girl for years, but I never thought of marrying her," said Geordie in an offhand, airy way.
"And who do you think of marrying, pray ? What princesB d'you suppose is going to throw herself at the head of a fellow such as you. Now look here, Geordie! Don't you be a fool, if you can have the girl, you take her. You might be working all your life, and yet not get together what she can bring you for a start By Jove!" Teddie went on, " I'll be hanged if I know what the girl can want you for-Bhe never would me ! I sup pose it's the height and. breadth of you that's done it." And Teddie critically looked, and measured Geordie up and down.
"Perhaps," said Geordie loftily, "others may set a different valuation upon me to what you do, Ted."
" Well, I can't say, old man, I set a very high one on you, apart from looks," Ted answered laughing.
*' I dare say you do not. A man's no pro phet in his own country," said Geordie with great dignity, while TeddSe roared; " but that others nave a different opinion, you'll Boon see for yourself-for, Jim or no Jim, if I find
that girl worth having, you'll see Til have
her." And with that he went away.
This conversation made a great impression upon Geordie. Strange to say, the heiress side of 'Ria had never struck him. In their former shepherding days, she had a brother and a sister, but they both had died since he had left the river; and 'Ria in the character of an heiress was to him a new idea. It's true her heritage was not great, but still a most desirable one for a pennileBB man like
Geordie. The pill of her lowly birth would
be a much easier one to swallow with this coating. It was not breeding or refine ment he missed, for them he did not care. If he gave up his freedom, what he sought was his advantage as a compensation. And he began to see that his advantage clearly lay in marrying 'Ria-which, when he had looked upon her merely as a rustic bush girl of lowly station, and had not taken into account the property that would be hers-was not so ap parent to him.
And now Geordie became as anxious to be
on again with 'Ria as he had before been to - be free. And the more desirable he came to I think would be the acquisition of her, the more uneasy he became aB to to whether he was in time to get her.
And so he sent a black boy down to Wood hill, with the letter 'Ria got upon her wed ding day. The black boy was a lone time on the way, and in his eagerness he followed up himself. And, finding that he was too late, and, angered by his disappointment, he began to think his haste had been unwarrantable, and indecent, and a personal injury to him self, and working up his wrath, he waited round the place until he obtained that mid night interview.
During the two years of 'Ria's wedded life that followed, Geordie did not trouble her. His violence at that last meeting had not cured 'Ria of her love for him, but that, together with his former conduct, when he gave her up, had, to some extent, taught her to form a juster estimate of his worth and character, and to know the measure of his selfishness. And the further experience of the ways of men that marriage had brought to her, had not the effect, how she was free, of making her over anxious to be wed again. She was now a developed woman, of strong common sense, somewhat hardened by the trouble which aihe had known, and which she had learnt to bear as something which must come, and must be suffered without fuss ; and somewhat sceptical of others, with very few hallucinations left; but) withal a womanly woman. And the good, healthy spirits of her girlhood were but subdued, a very little made her glad, and her heart light and merry as in the old days when she and Geordie used to play.' at Long-point. And now-she often thought of him, hut not as in old days when he was all in all to her; she had le&mt prudence now. and meant to use it.