Chapter 161812145

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Chapter NumberI
Chapter TitleBREELONG STATION AND ITS OWNER.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article161812145
Full Date1894-11-10
Page Number34
Corrections0
Word Count2387
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleAdelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904)
Trove TitleBreelong Dora
article text

THE STORY-TELLER.

BREELQNG DORA.

Bx Wandxbeb.

OHA.PTER I.

BBEELONG STATION AND ITS OWNEB.

John Rodgebs, Esq., J.P.,

Breelong Station,

Laoblan River. Urgent.

"Now, I wonder who this latteroame from ? Jerry rays a blaokboy brought it. I don't like either *Eequire' or 'J.P.' on letteri of mine. I always fanoy that when a man. or a

woman either, address yon in this way that they want something—that tbey are, in faot, begging letters. I prefer always to be plain John Rodgers. Some speak of me as 'Old Rodgers.' Well, this I don't mind, and then my speoial friends simply eay 'Bodgera,

without any prefix or tail, and this, of oourae, I pat up with beasass they are my friends; but, next to being called * Esquire' and' J.P., what annoys me most is to hear myself spoken of as ' Old Jack Bodgera." Now, lam not an old man yet—at least I don't think eo^-no matter what my friends may say. ' Esquire I' —I don't know the meaning of—it may be a niokname for aught I know; and as tip ' J.P., well, I thoroughly hate the sight of the letters, for they always remind me of the time when I made a blooming fool of myself, thoroughly exposed my ignoranoe, and got well shown up in the paper* for it too. You may laugh if yon like; but it ie a solid faot that on the day hereinbefore referred to, I, John Rodgera,did,witboutthesbadowof doubt, make an ass of myself, and it was those horrid letters 'J. P.' that oaused all the trouble. It occurred this way :—I was in Rookville on business. Soon—not long after those asses in Sydney had made me, as they termed it, a •Justioe of the Peace' for the provinoe of New South Wales. The police, of course, knew of the appointment, and as luck or rather ill luok, would have it, on thiB par ticular day the regular Magistrate of the town was away, end I, being the only J. P. avail able, was called upon to take my seat on the Bench. The Clerk and police knew I was green at tbe business. Green indeed, I was regularly verdant, and knew as muoh about law and the ways of a Court of Justice as my old dog Pen to does. There were two oases to be tried—one for assault, the other was a man obarged with haviDg a horse in bis possession supposed to be stolen. The papers told me afterwards that, aooording to the evideuoe, the assault had not been oommitted; and yet I gave that man a month without tbe option of a fine. The other ohap was a cute one. I shall never forget his look or the looks of those in the Court when I told the oonstsbles and other witnesses that I did not believe a word of their evidenoe, and that i discharged the prisoner withoat a stain on hie oharaoter. Yes, he was no doiibt clever, and saw at a glanoe that I was new at the business ; for he turned round just ae he was leaving the dook, and eaid as polite aB possible, ' Thank yon, sir, I suppose I oan keep the horse now?' to whioh request I like a fool replied ' Yes.' But fanoy how I felt when after the Court was over, I found out that the horse was one of my own pro

perty, and that I in my ignoranoe had aotually in open Court, and in the preaenoe of aDy number of witnesses, made bim a present to the man who had evidently only a few days previously stolen it from my own run. The papers—well, they gave me a regular elating, and eaid I deserved to lose all my horses for having been euob a fool. Mo, I don't like to beoalled 'J.P.,' itmakeB me angry; anyway I have never been on the Benoh einoe, and won't again if I oan help it. But, bother it, here iB this letter, .and marked ' urgent,' too. What oan it possibly mean? Of course it muBt be opened, but you know, Ponto, old mas, as well ae 1 do, that I never open any of my letters myself—either Dora or Jaok always do that. And why ? Well, old man, they have sense if you have none, and always answer _ the worry ing letters themselves, showing me only those referring to the station or business matters. Here, Dora, where are you ? Oome to your father, you young baggage. Not in, did yon say, Jerrv ? Oh, I reoolleot. She is away trying to break her neck on that Nep tune colt. Grand girl that. Will make some body a good wife by-and-by. But oan't she ride ? It is a sight to eee her handle a young one. Hi, Jaok I where are you? Oome here to your old dad, you soamp. He's got a letter with J.P. on it, and does not like tbe look of it. But there, I think I mast be woolgather ing again, for, of oouree, I reoolleot I eent him ont to Sandy Creek to look after the weaners. No one at home but Old Jerry, and be oannot read, eo I suppose 1 muBt open the wretched thing myself, but I don't half like it."

And so soliloquized old John Rogers, the owner of Breelong station. It was a habit that he in his long days of loneliness had got into. With his dog Ponto he would eit for hours together in a room he oalied his study— why so styled he oould not tell yon—talking aloud with none but himself and dog to listen. Truth to tell he hardly knew when he was doing it. Dora would sometimes oome in suddenly and interrupt him, and more than onoe told him that she quite expeoted he would some day let out a few of his old time secrets; but he would simply reply "No fear, no fear," and go on with bis talking just the earns. He always read his paper and letters aland, and Dora used to say " Dad ie quite happy, pro vided he has Ponto batoning to him."

But who was John Rodgers? who were LDora, Jaok, and Jerry? referred to in the

before-mentioned soliloquy. Well, tbey | simply oomprised the owner ae stated and

household of Breelong Station.

Breelong was a oattleBtation, situated on the Lachlan River, and abont six miles from Rookville township. It was not what would be oonsidered a very large property, com prising as it did only four ten-mile blooke, which (with the exoeption of 610 acres whioh was freehold), was leased from the Crown. There was a frontage to the river of oonaiderable extent, and there were several good oreeka out bade. John Rodgers was about fifty years of age, a hate hearty man, and a widower. His wife died when his only obfid was abont six years old. For several yesra he bad kept a housekeeper, but when bis daughter returned from school, which she did when just turned fifteen, he sent the last of these caretakers (?) away, saying at the same time that he was glad to Bee the back of her, and hoped now for a little peace in bis home. The station, though small, was a good one, etooked with nearly 6,000 head of well bred oattle, beside a very fine lot of horses, of whioh the owner was justly very proud. Yes, John Rodgers, bluff, plain spoken John, was one of the old eohool of squatters, and was always looked npon as a thoroughly sonnd and honest man. Dora, his only ohild, was the idol of his heart. She had received a fair education, and about two years before the date of our Btory had, as she very tritely put it, "oome

atop at Breelong." As we now see ber abe was nearly eighteen years of age. Short in stature, plnmp ao to speak {taking after her father very muoh), complexion rather fair, with a full open faoe, very sunburnt; but still always illumined with a bright, happy smile.

She at one time had a splendid head of almost1 flaxen hair, but soon after her arrival on the etation had out it off quite abort. When asked why, she would say, "Oh, you see it was a regular nuisanoe; for when I was on the baok

of a ' rough one,' and he bucked a bit, my hair : used to oome down and get in my faoe; and more than onoe I nearly lost my seat, so I deoided to out it off." When spoken to about its beinganobstaoleto her securing a husband, she would laughingly say, "Oh bother; when that time comes I can let it grow."

With the assistance of Old Jerry and one or two blaok gins she had no trouble in keeping her father's not very extensive house in oapital order. Horse exeroise was undoubtedly ber hobby, and it used to be a sort of by-word on the neighbouring stations if a particularly un

traotableoolt was being handled, "Send him to 'Breelong Dora;' ehe will eoon quieten

him."

That ehe had met with more than one aooi deut it was only natural to expeot, still they (no matter how serious) never seemed to damp the ardour of this venturesome girl.

Sweethearts—well, yes. What young woman, situated as she was, would not hare plenty of admirers ? Squatters worshipped

her, overseers and managers loved her, and the stookmen on more than one station were madly in love with her, but so far she had treated them all alik.e. Rumour did say that a certain Jaok Fitzgerald was the favoured one; but then he was so young, and rumour is not, as we all know, the most reliable autho rity.

A3 to Jaok Fitzgerald—well, he was the

adopted son of old Mr. Rodgers. When |

asked where he got Jack from, he would say, "pioked him up in Van Diemen's Band. Father was an old ohum of mine in England, came out together, he died, left widow, seven ohildren, very poor circumstauoes. Took Jack, youngest boy, and made him my son ; good

boy, Jack." ,

Jack's age was now just twenty-one. He was tall, too tall some said, rather slim, but yet with it all strong and healthy, was a splendid horseman, oapital hand amongst

stock, especially with the young ones, knew I every foot of the run—was, in faot, bis foster I father's right hand man. Besides this, Jack

was a general favourite on the surrounding J stations, _ He was always eo quiet, oourteous, and obliging, and should a horse or a few head of oattle be missing, the remark invariably would be, "Oh, send to Jaok Fitzgerald, he is sure to know; and ask bim to look in his book." Jaok was at times ohaffed about this book, but that it was useful on more than one occasion future events will prove. His one weak spot, if loving a bright and jolly girl may so be termed, was his almoBt foolish devotion to Dora, aud the more she snubbed bim (whioh at times she did most unmercifully) the more pressing he beoame in his attentions. Old Rodgers used to look on at these word sparring matohes and quietly ahuokle to him self. _ " AU right, my darlings," he wouldsay,

" go it while you are young. You were made I for one another, and, by jingo, you shall come j

together yet. Aye, and be master and mistress of Breelong, too, or my name is not John Rodgers."

Yes, this union of his pets had been the dream of the old man's life for years past.

One last introduction, and by no means the least important, is Mr. Jerry Oroonire, County Cork, Ireland,

Jerry was, like most of his nationality, proud of his birthplace. His position in the household was, ae we have already stated, an important one—viz., that of oook, and that he was no novice at his profession, not only

those at Breelong, but visitors from all the ! stations both far aud near, oould and did testify.

Jerry, when bis abilities as a breadmaker were oalied into question, used to eay " Bread is it 1 You just ask those devils of stockmen from Nardoo and Brungle stations, when they oome to muster out at Ohowilla Creek, if I cannot make bread ; be jabbers I oan turn out as pretty a loaf as would make even the ould governor's lips wather, and bould up bis baud and eay 'Jerry, just another elioe of your lovely bread, if yon plaiee.' No I'm not to be beaten this side the big ocean, and why should I indaed ; did not my ould mither, away there in Cork, sure, teaoh me, and she herself holdin' stefeeates* enough to paper the ould oabin with. Bread is it?"

This then was generally the style of Jerry's reply when his abilities as sole bosa of the ousine of Breelong Station were oalied into question. Jerry bad only one weak point, and that was what has provod the downfall of more than one man. He loved a pretty woman, but simply detested those to whom Nature had perhaps not been kind. The

various housekeepers that from time to time j resided at Breelong were not handsome j women, and were always Jerry's sworn j enemies. "Drat their ugly looks,*" he was

wont to say. " They bad faoes on them about j as pretty as any haytheo god. Sure, one of them onob aksed me to marry her. Marry ye, says I, is it. I'd sooner drown myself. Now, if she was one of the rale sort, like our Miss Dora there, I might have a try ; but would you belave me, I am afeared—my mother always said I was the bashful one of the family," and so Jerry remained a bachelor. He always got on well with Dora; but then, as he said, she iB boss, and it would be a born idiot who oould not get on with a lovely collene like ber. So muoh then for Breelong and its household.