Chapter 169145967

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Chapter NumberXVII (Continued)
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttps://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article169145967
Full Date1927-04-20
Page Number39
Corrections1
Word Count2908
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Last Corrected2019-04-27
Newspaper TitleSydney Mail (NSW : 1912 - 1938)
Trove TitleSons of the Seven Mile
article text

Sons of the Seven Mile

An Australian Novel of Country and City Life

By Zora Cross

CHAPTER XVII.— (Continued)

GRACE had never realised that, while she had been idling her time away: her mother and father had fallen on bad times and had to mortgage Mombea. People -declared, Grace knew, that her mother had mortgaged the place to satisfy her own extravagances, , hut she and Jane knew that their mother, who had missed - an education herself, had always determined that her girls should have the best. So they had gone to the Parbury Grammar School, and I here they seemed to bury all the traditions of their mother's youth. They certainly were careful to forget

LHUl, U11V 1AIJLK \J11Kj\s JJ^V^ll O, i^IIX^t.1 CLL- 111UJ. gull O UGLU^^ QtXJUUU. Morgan, a man looking youthful for his years still, owned two hotels in Hillborough now, but he often re minded Ruth and Dave, and their girls, too, of the early days when they captured Campbellwell. Jane and Grace naturally disliked him, especially as the Jast time they met him he had taunted them by say ing that he was thinking of buying Mombea and settling down there. They drove past the old home and came to the shaky gate of Orange Park — a golden and red light seemed to flood the place, which with its groves of lemon and orange trees was not without a certain beauty. Sleepy cows and calves were still drowsing, and Grace yawned. 'No chance of having a sleep before milking time,' she said. 'No times like the old times.' She and Jane had shown themselves to be true Aus tralians in the manner in which they were managing the farm with their father. ? They drove through the gate, which Jane opened without getting down by lifting -the catch with her whip. 'Fathers up,'. Grace cried; 'there's a light in the dining-room.' 'Perhaps he hasn't been to bed. Oh, Grace, yes — I remember now he said that he'd wait for the mail. There's none.' 'Oh, Jane! He's getting worried about mother isn't he?'

'Yes, and he oughtn't to. She was always a perfect nuisance . in the house.' 'All the same, I wish she'd write regularly. 1 wonder why father ? doesn't come out? He must have heard the buggy.' Grace felt afraid as she got down when Jane pulled up. Her father was worried over her mother's absence, though they all knew quite well why she had gone. The point was that she had been gone almost a month, and they had scarcely any news from her. To their surprise, when they hur ried inside they found their father seated at the table writing. 'Father!' they cried together, amazed and alarmed to find him there. 'Go away!' he said a little irrit ably. 'I don't want to have any thing to say to you two girls.' They were hurt. 'But, father,' Jane protested. Dave Markham had aged more

than Regan and Blake. Though he was younger and wore no beard, his face was lined and careworn. He seemed even larger and looser now, however, than when he had been a young man. He was smoking a pipe, and writing down aboriginal, names and their meanings in a book. r , , Jane and Grace, feeling stupid and sleepy, with drew. When they readied the door he said gruffly : 'I suppose there's no mail?' 'No,' jane replied. - . ? . . 'Humph.' Then he seemed to lose his temper, which always made him speak quickly and evenly. 'Well, let me tell you two girls that i 1 propose to go to Brisbane and bring your mother home.' They both jumped. Where was he to get the ready money to go? He would need a new suit of clothes, and boots and hat, too. 'How?' Grace said vacantly. 'I tell you I. am going!' he said crossly. 'All right, father.' They jumped again, and went like children to their room. Though they were young women, they were a .little afraid of their father. 'Johnny!' they heard him call. 'Get up!' He had gone out, leaving his work on the table. Grace came back and looked at it. Long lines of aboriginal words, patiently taken down from the tongues of tlie blacks, were there. Long descriptions of their customs, names of their dances, the corrolDorees and war-cries, the weapons — all were patiently and laboriously written out. Grace, looking over the work, ' felt sorry . for her father. He was broken-hearted about Mombea. -? If they lost it, it would kill him. 'Hurry up, Grace, and get to work,' Jane said. ; 'I hope to goodness father doesn't go to Bob Mitchell to ask for the money.' 'Mitchells haven't got ,any more than Markhams,' Grace replied, looking out of the window, where, .across the paddocks, she could see the smoke curling from the Mitchells' chimney.

Their selection was not far away from Orange Park. Beyond them were the Seven-Mile homes, but Mitchells were Markham's next neighbours. 'Aren't some of these abo. names wonderful?' Grace said, turning back and beginning to read out : — Buner whoper — Time to come; Bee rail — God. for ever; immortality. Bal loon — Dead. Barr yar — Don't talk. Moor gur — Long way. - Narr — Look. Mooppie — Blind. Nuttho — Me ; I ; myself. Cool lum — Forgotten ; to forget. Barr — Don't. Gill lob — Girl ; young woman. : Hin noong — Yours. Kill lin — Finger nails. W.oom bub lie — Pall; fell; drop. Buncue — Squirrel. Wathiy mun — Laugh. Yir rur — Gum tree. Bow mun — Coming. Kandor ga — Sugar gum tree. Barn — Grass. Boop poo — Apple tree. Nul tho — I. Boon nar — Bloodwood tree. Min ne — Wait. Mul ling— Iron-bark tree. Nin mi — Sit down. Carr bee — Got none; empty. Urrie — Jealous. Bir rin — Five. Cul lar — Angry. Hym barr — I believe ; I agree ; Tug gine— The devil. think so. Jane grew cross. 'Put that away at once,' she said. 'You're behaving just like mother!' For Ruth would have stopped to read or try over a song in the midst of baking scones, slie was so iri'esponsible as a housekeeper and manager. Johnny came in, rubbing sleepy eyes. He was nearly thirteen, and was like Ruth in features. .Though Grace possessed some of, her mother's abilities, Johnny seemed to be the only one who could sing. He stretched tired arms. 'Milking again,' he said. 'Who won the pic tures?' They went away to. the work, talking of the raffle. CHAPTER XVIII. She is sweet as white peppermint flowers, And harsh as red gum when it drips From the heart of a hardwood that towers Straight up; she hath marvellous' powers To draw a man's soul through Ms lips With a kiss like the stinging of W'hips. Barcrofl Boafce. T'\ AVE crossed the paddocks, and

| j came ont on McFme s selec tion. His old love of the bush, the joy and the delight he had always fell in it, almost tug ged him back from his purpose. But he reflected that without Ruth he had nothing. They must let Mom bea go. The blacks had said they would lose it — it was as good as lost. The green graves of his father and mother and the sacred graves of his little sisters seemed to rise up before him as he stood hesi tating; Two little graves were at Mom bea, and his mother and father were buried in Hillborough. How could he leave it all? And yet— The passionate tug of his heart, which still beat to the one name, 'Ruth,' drove him on. It was not easy to try to borrow money from Sandy McPhie. Sandy's meanness was well known; Sandy had' prospered because of it. But there .-were moments, /when Sandy

dad had a glass too many, or his crearn . cheque had been particularly good, when he was quite generous. Dave hesitated at McPhie's orchard. He saw the litlle McPhies going for the cows, and forgot that he had not slept ' all night himself. 'Hello, Mr. Markham,' one of the children. cried out. He answered genially enough, and decided thai, he would not try to borrow from Sandy, but would offer to sell him the only valuable, things at Orange Park — two heifers and a boar pig. They had been given to him and Ruth by one of Ruth's brothers; the Mombea slock the banks had already s'old. Dave knew Sandy wanted a boar The McPhies -were at breakfast when ho arrived. 'Maggie McPhie, plump and rosy and as Scotch as Sandy, welcomed him with the morning white on her apron and the light of the dawn in her blue, bright eyes. Dave, said he had come to see Sandy on business. .. 'Come in and have a wee bite, Mr. Markham,' she urged, 'and a sup of tea. Sandy's down at the yards, but he'll be up in a bit. Hal tie, a cup and saucer for Mr. Markham.' Dave thanked the bonniest house wife for miles around, but declined the tea, badly as he needed it. ? 'I want, to see Sandy at once,' he said. '1 think I'll go over to the yards. Maggie, who. though she had been born in Scotland, liked to call herself a real Hill woman, had plenty to do be sides urge Dave Markham to lake a cup of tea. She shook her spotless apron at a cat that was attempting to steal over her matchless white floor and said, 'Aweel, you'll find him down by the rails there.'' Teh! She had not much time for the Markhams after all. Ruth running off just as she was wanted at the bazaar — running off and leaving 1hc. weight of the theatrical tableaux she had been arranging for it to poor Ronny. MAGGIE went indoors as Dave dipped down towards the stock yards. Then she lip-toed to her son's door to listen lo his breathing. 'He's asleep, Haltie,' she said. 'One hour is better than none. The. poor, wee ad. The way they keep him up, and him with exams, to study and the long ride to the Hill and school before him.' 'You spoil him, mother,' Haiti? said. 'Everyone says you do. You're as bad with Ronny as Mrs. Regan is with Paddy.' 'Don't you speak back to your elders, my lass,' her mother said, busy ing herself with breakfast. 'Go and see Flora's blind is pulled down. Hat tie, who was thirteen, pouted. 'I'll be glad when. I'm old enough to go to parties and stay up all night and sleep in the morning,' she said. 'What's that you say ?' Maggie said. 'Notking,' meekly from Hattie, who, like Minnie Markham, was a scholarship girl and had dreams of winning a Fair fax. But Hattie had to drive in to Hill horough with her brother every day. Not that she minded that. It gave her more time to learn. Hattie was jealous of Minnie. The headmistress of the Hill school regarded them as the best girls in the scholarship class. . Coming out from Flora's room Hat tie saw Mr. Markham and her father coming up quickly. Her father walked quickly as if he were upset, and Mr. Markham looked meek and worried. 'Go away with your books, Hatlie,' Maggie said when she saw the men ap proaching. 'Mr. Markham got business with dad.' Maggie wondered what if. was. Sandy had grown wiry and ham with much strenuous work on '.the land, and his legs were bent outwards from riding, while his .hands were gnarled and broken. He began filling his pipe as he approached the ' house discussing the business. 'I wasna thinkin' of buying a boar just yet,' he said, 'but we'll ' consult Majrg'ie. How's Mrs. Markham?' 'Oh, very well,' Dave replied. 'Very well indeed.' ; He did not even let' his children know just how worried over Ruth he was and he kept up a pretence of knowing when she was returning to the neighbours.

rNuue ui uieni Knew ior a ceri-iiui- that Ruth had gone to raise money, but the rumours were current. Old Ma Morrison, the dis trict gossip, saw to all that. They reached the kitchen as Maggie was cutting rashers. ' 'Aweel, you found him?' she said with a smile, , 'and perhaps you'll both have tea?' 'Thank you,' and 'I will, mother,' they said to

gether. She made them a place at the 1able. 'Mr. Markham wants me:to buy the boar and his two heifers, Maggie,' Sandy said. 'What do you think?' Maggie thought not. She wanted all the ready money for the 'bazaar, and she did not think Sandy was in such a hurry for the boar, and why did Dave Markham want

to sell? 'What does Mr. Markham want for him?' she said. 'I.. think lie's worth ten pounds, but you can have the two heifers for ten.' ? '? 'Why do you want to sell them?'' Dave hedged and had no ready ex . planatibn. 'Queer,' Maggie thought. .Sandy was 'mean but simple, and thought nothing. save that as business it was a bargain. 'Well, what -do you think-, .mother?' he repeated, folding his arms, and having finished his tea bv ginning to light his. pipe again. 'What have we got in the stocking?' Sandy laughed, and his laughter awakened Ronny, who turned irritably ' ? and was about; to call out; 'Stop {hut row,' when he heard Dave Markhmn say, 'T wanted the money at once.' 'Money, at once?'. Ronny sat up .'stiff, and straight- in bed. -''Money at, ' once?'' He thought he must be dream ing. He, too, /wanted money at. otue. ., Macphorson had put. him, on 10 a sure thing for Saturday—Golden Cap. 'Put. _ ? a' few, on Golden Cap,' Mac had said, 'and you draw a winner. 1 know. She's going out at about 50 to 1, an.d she's a cert. There's Flying Boy, too, and Kitchener.' IF Ronny only had ten pounds for Saturday! 'lie crept out, of bed and listened at the door. Dave Markham was trying to sell his father some cattle. Why did he want money? Perhaps to back Golden Cap. 'Well, we'll think it. over, Dave, and let you know during the day. Mag gie and I'll talk it over,' Ronny heard ' them say as they went away. He got. back into bed and heard his mother tip-toe to the door. He feigned sleep. By-and-bye she appeared, looking gloomy and worn. They were seated at breakfast now, and ihe. younger ones made room for Ronny as if he had been a prince. 1 Sandy's eyes, which narrowed o11 became little and pig-like in his mean moments, now opened and expander! with fatherly love. Ronny was his pride, as well as Maggie's. Weren't, they all saying that some day there, would be no liner teacher in Queensland than Ronald McPhie ? 'Did you have a drop o' sleep at all, laddie?' his mother asked. 'Yes, thanks, mither,' he replied meekly enough. All the McPhies, except Hattie and Flora, called their mother 'mither,' because. Doug, the smallest of them, had called her that from babyhood. Doug had often surprised them by dropping out a Scotch phrase now and again which none of them had ever heard, not. even from their parents. He was too Australian to be Scotch in any thing now; but the baby 'mither' clung. Maggie, seeing Ronny was wor ried over something, got them all away at, last and her lad to herself. 'What's wrong, laddie?' she asked. Ronny thrust his hands into his pockets. Slight-bodied, his . legs seemed too long for him, his head too small, and it was not a good head, though none could have denied that it was a clever head. '1 want a lot of books I can't get-, mither,' he said plaintively. 'If T didn't: give you all my money I could afford them, maybe, though I get little enough every month. 'How much do you want* Ron nie?' she said, 'ftr the books — '* 'T want about five pounds.' 'Five pounds for books? Isn't that an. awful lot?' 'Books are expensive — big his tories and dictionaries ? ' 'Wait now,' Maggie said, for though a less fond mother might have, had suspicion Maggie could have none with her boy. 'I'll see if T can man age, Ronny. Your father was going to buy Markham's boar and heifers; be can wait a wee while yet.' s Ronny was now smitten with guilt. But he shrugged his shoulders. Mac said it was a cert. He could buy the books and go and lend Dave Marl: ham ten pounds.' Youth reasons poorly since youth is full of hope. When Dave came up later to see Sandy he was disappointed. 'Maggie said wait till later on,' was his reply. Dave walked awav despondently. {To be Continued.)

The Stale Cabinet decided last week to create a new department to co-ordinate all services dealing with tuberculosis. To this end a board will be set up, and Dr. H. V. Baret, : deputy director of the Coast Hospital, will be the director.