Chapter 169146179

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Chapter NumberXIII (Continued)
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttps://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article169146179
Full Date1927-04-06
Page Number22
Corrections1
Word Count3251
IllustratedY
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 & City Life

by Zora Cross

[?]

CHAPTER XIII.— (Continued)

MR. BLAKE repeated the question: 'Did you see him, Minnie?'. 'Ye-es, I; — I noticed him, Uncle,' Minnie said. 'She noticed him,' Mabel thought. 'I wonder if he had his blue or his grey suit on.' Paddy, she knew, was working the twelve o'clock shift. Every night about half-past eleven lie wistfully looked at her window from the railway fence as he passed to the Great Victory mine in his working clothes, his soft shirt open at the throat, his crib and bright billy jauntily swinging in his hand. He was going to leave the mines when lie married her and take' up something else — a salesmanship, or

commercial travelling. ... If he ever married her! Andy was regarding Minnie sternly as he ladled out Scotch broth. 'You didn't speak to him?' 'No, Uncle Andy.' 'That's right. Jeanie, why aren't you sitting down ?' 'I'm coming, I'm coming,' Jeanie said, dishing up potatoes and cabbage, hastily, and thumping Mary's humped back as she took her seat, saying, ' Sit up straight, miss.' Mary, tired from a day's scrubbing, jerked herself up and thought of Paddy Regan. Thank goodness her lather had no objection to her marrying Ronie McPhie. He and his sister would be in soon. A little tremor of excitement passed over Mary. 'Don't spill anything on the cloth, Minnie,' she said. 'No.' Minnie had brushed her hair and washed her hands and face, and Jeanie inspected her critically. 'Get all your sums right, to-day?' she asked. '7VT/-» A -»

i-U, AUUt. 'That's bad.' 'Don't talk, don't talk, woman. Haven't you company coming to-night?' Andy said. 'Yes. Are you going out?' 'Perhaps, for a while.' This was encouraging to Jeanie. They would raffle the Peacock pictures first. 'You can put on your hailstone muslin dress, Minnie.' 'I don't want to go to the dance. I want to learn my lessons.' Minnie said. 'The supper table '11 be spread in the par lour,' Mary put in. 'You can sit. in the drawing room with your books, but don't knock anything over.' 'Hurry up! Hurry up! When do you think you're going to be ready?' Andy said, beginning to bustle them all about as he dabbed at his mou stache with his serviette, and then stroked and pulled at his beard as if he would change the courses at once. The meal proceeded quickly to his order. CHAPTER XIV. 'So let us keep our silences! I'll haven yours , or mine will break. And you guard well the sacredness Of mine , for your own soul's shrine's sake.' — Louise Mack. OVER the dam the Regans were also seated at their evening meal. Katie was telling them all of the afternoon's war. 'Wait till I get Minnie Markham to-morrow,' she said, nod ding her head. 'She'll get it.' 'You leave her alone,' her brother Jack said, 'or you'll get half-killed by those State school kids.' 'Pugh ! I don't care. If Minnie Markham thinks she can get boys to hit my mates on the mouth with stones she's much mistaken.' Katie's father was seated at the head of the table., He seldom spoke. Perhaps he said a dozen svords a day at times, but often a week went by and he said nothing at all. He was tall and thin,

and his mouth had a hard, dry, sullen look. The blue eyes that used to laugh at the girls of the Hills were cold and grave. 'Katie!' lie said . coldly now, speaking like a man in whom life and hope have long been dead. Katie was silent. She was used to seeing her father silently serve the meal, and then go outside on the verandah with a paper and look at it, turning it over somewhat absently, only to return to the Stock Exchange news with hunted, haunted eyes. 'Don't let me hear of your fighting.' Katie was subdued. Her bright chatter about what she would do to Minnie ceased. 'Ha!' her brother Jack said, and for this she kicked him under the table. 'Stop your quarrelling,' Mrs. Regan said, listening for Paddy's footsteps. Paddy was her best son. Every penny he earned every week he brought, her, with his cheery 'Here you are, mum.' He reminded her of the gay young Charley Regan — Kid-glove Charley, whom she had loved as a girl — Char- ley, before the gold fever had caught him, templed him, and after giving him a few years' wealth flung him back in the mines, where he now was obliged to work. It seemed nothing at first, the disgrace of his dis charge from the bank, because for a while afterwards they had been rich. But the Hill, like Andy Blake, could not forget Regan's disgrace, wliicli now ruined every thing' 'for the mother. Being a woman, she had never quite understood what Charley's offence exactly was. She knew that he and Andy Blake had ceased to be mates after Andy's marriage to Jeanie. Andy had gone to manage a small mine called the East Caledonian, and

IN SYDNEY BOTANIC GARDENS,

Charley, who had been a bank clerk when he came to Hillborough first, had gone back into the bank. Charley was the manager of the Hillborough branch of his bank when the trouble with Blake took place. As far as she could make out, Andy had borrowed a hundred pounds from Charley's bank on some shares in the Eastern Phoenix mine. Charley was holding the scrip when all Hillborough was thrown into a state of gold-fever-days, excitement, by the news that the Phoenix had struck good gold. Andy wms away in Brisbane on business for his own mine when tire town was thrilled with the Great Gold ville news. Before Andy had I eft. he had begged Charley not to part with his shares, nor seli them, as he would pay up the overdraft he had at, the bank when he re turned from Brisbane. Charley had been tempted, the Phoenix soared so high the second day the reef had been struck. On the third day, when Andy had not re turned, Charley secretly sold the scrip to a friend in such a way that he could buy them back himself. Andy returned to find the Phoenix soaring higher and his shares sold. Charley had bought them back for himself Mrs. Regan remembered Jeanie Blake going to her husband's office and thrashing him out of it on to Golden-streel. There were police courts, investiga tions, and- disgrace, for Charley lost his place, and na'- rowly escaped imprisonment. They had nnj oared then, the Phoenix had made them so rich. But Charley soon went through his for tune, and was now hack in Hillborough in the mines. No one wanted a disgraced man. He could not even uel a place as an accounlanl. And in the midst of all his past scenes his wife knew he was often dark with depression. If Andy Blake would oniy speau to him and lorgel Ihe feud be

tween them! She admitted he had done a disgraceful thing, for which he had been punished. But why could not Andy forget and forgive? Charley knew as well as she did that their hoy loved Mabel Blake. Paddy had been horn when they were rich, ami t lie young man was hardly suited to the mines. Katie's blue eyes snapped. 'I will hit Minnie,' she said defiantly under her breath. 'I'll let her see.' 'What do you kids always want, to be fighting for?' big Joey said, folding his arms as he waited for his food. 'They start it,' Katie said. 'That'll do,' Mrs. Regan said, pricking up her ears to listen again. She hoped Paddy had not been hanging over Blake's fence. Rose Regan was practising singing scales at the piano, as she had entered for the Ipswich Eisteddfod. Her six big brothers listened to her singing with pride. Ros.: would, be a great singer yet. Regan served the meal, and the rest of the family came in. Rose, all blue eyes and dark hair, was smiling queen-like amon0' them. 'Paddy home?' she asked. 'Hello, dad!' Regan looked up at her, but he did not speak. His children did not know why be kept so silent, why he was always brooding, nor why Andy Blake and Jeanie passed him by. They thought Paddy was unpopular with the B lakes and Mabel was forbidden to speak to him because they did not attend the same church. As Rose sat down languidly, to the admira tion of her brothers, Paddy's blithe whistle was heard. 'Here he is,' his mother said. 'Here he is.' 'Make room for the white-headed boy,' the other brothers said, but it w:as only in jest, as Paddy was popular. Sometimes he spoke of going on the stage. He. sang comic songs at the socials, and he was always applauded.

'Waiter, waiter, I've got it on the' brain;, - Waiter-, 'WaUen, its driving me in sane.' , They heard h im singing as he came in. He seemed excited and pleased about something. .. . 'Well, Mum, the wandering'- boyls re turned- ' he said, \ flinging up his hat on . ., a hatpeg and standing in the 'doorway; ? 'Gome on; 'don't' keep us late','' 'Rose said. 'Coming to the dance to-night?' . 'I am. Look, I'm doing this dance with' my- song.' ' He began to whistle and jig. 'YoU'aren't! ' they all cried. ''Paddy,. - you'll make ,'a goat of yourself!' . 'Gome- on,' his mother said. 'Wrait ' till . I hajve a brush-up,' he' said, catching her round the waist and kissing her. ? ? 'Stop, your nonsense,' she chided. ? How like -young: Charley Regan he was! ; Paddy's, father did not look up. And making...liis escape Paddy took out Mabel's note and read it sgain. Then he kissed, it. idiotically, It was as short as 'it was s\Veet. 'Shall be going out to spend the day with Bridgy -Wilson -at -the Seven-Mile next Sunday. Can you be out at your Aunty Carrie's? If so, meet me in the Maidenhair Gully. May be staying Sunday night' at Uncle Dave's.' - Ob, come Sunday! He hurried 4o tea. 'I hear you kids have 'Jieen throw ing stones again,' he said to Katie as he sat down. 'Let me hear no more of it.' 'Puph! We aren't going to let the State school kids hit us.' 'Now, then,' her father said. But he wished that he and Aiidy were boys again, and that all wars and feuds were no more serious than school-children throwing stones at one another. 'I'm going out to Aunty Carrie's on Sunday,' Paddy announced. 'Oh, who'll be out at Wilson's?'' Rose said. Paddy laughed. Oh, there were ways the young ones could defeat the old ones. 'If you go sneaking over the rail way line to see Mabel.' his brother Joe said, 'the midnight, mail'll cut you down one night.' 'Must, take all those little things,' Paddy laughed. 'You should have Grace Markham for a girl,' Jack said. - At this they all laughed, because it was a joke with them all that Grace loved Paddy. 'She'll, be in at the raffling to-night. You might call round and see her,' his brothers chaffed. . 'I will,' Paddy said,, and went on with his meal. CHAPTER XV. 'Let, us of Love again Eat the impatient heart.' — Shaw Neilson. THEY bad finished at Blake's, and even Mary, who seldom had to rush anything, she was so me thodical, hurried up with the wash ing-up after the meal. She had a headache after the hard day, but Minnie's chatter was amusing as she wiped up. Sometimes Mary got so tired she leaned 011 the big tin washing-up dish. . Mabel, rushing through the front room, said, 'Hurry up, Mary; they'll he here soon.' Mabel had laid the supper table. The boys were to hang their hats in Hie parlour hall and the girls were to leave their wraps in 'Mumma's room,' which opened out 011 the. drawing room, a large reception-room really.

which occupied all the front of the house excepting that portion allotted- to 'Mumma's room.' 'Don't you like boys?' Mary asked Minnie, who had s.aid that; boys were silly. ? - 'No:' Minnie was talking fa si, as her aunt and uncle were 011 the verandah— her aunt ready for the party in black silk and black lace, with big nugget, brooches adorning her and a silver watch and watch chain 011, in her lialnds a little woolly coat she was knit ling for an unborn baby — Lena 011 Uncle Andy's knee Irving. 1o plait his beard. 'I'd like to meet. Bert Rain bow, But you wouldn't be game -to introduce me?' 'Why? Do you like him?' Minnie blushed, forgetting she was a schoolgirl. 'Ob, he sings, and — he isn't, a miner. I. don't 'like miners. Go on, Mary; when Bert comes to-night, intro duce me.' 'All right,' Mary said, and laughed, wondering what Bert Rainbow; window-dresser at Merriman's,- and the catch of Golden-street, would say when she brought...', along her freckled little cousin to introduce her. 'Will you?' Minnie Said, exposing a skeleton she had been endeavouring to hide under her lesson books — and letting Mary see that she was not wholly . uninter ested iu toys. 'I could make my dress look longer, I

know. I'll wear the hollaiid skirl: and silk blouse — no, the white.'' .... : ' 'All right,' was all Mary said, and, having washed up, she put -her finger to her temples, which throbbed'. .. , ' 'If I whi a scholarship, Mary,' Minnie said,.' 'I'll' board at the Ipswich Grammar. There are only'' four - scholarships— seven girls fronV our school are- in for : lliem.' ? ' ? She- had darted away from -boys to Wessons -again.- . 'You'd betlet go and get your lessons done iidXv^' ' Mary said, as Helen Brownie,: Sarah;; Jenkins; Sunday sclidol 'mates' of Mary's, arrived first' f,or ilie 'parl'y-^flufty. Helen in a' white' muslin dress, which was generously . decorated with' lace f arid insertion, Sarah, plain : as : her name, in plain white linen with .. yery little lace about it, a blue sash rou'nd her waist. ' ' ; 'pii, Mary, -aren't - you- -ready .yet?'r lh-?- girlsvcripd ~ together. !. V * . ' ?' i ' '; '' V ' ? 'Plenty- -6f- time. It's -only about half -past 'five or -a^quarXe.f to,' sijc;V. .Mary.' sa_id.' j -- 'It's six. o'clock,' they gasped together. Minnie began .1 of eel excited. The very sight of Helen and Sarah's frizzed hair and bright-glossed shoes was enough toalo that. Sarah \Vas very slight, loo. She wore brown stock

ings with her black bar shoes. That was very fashionable.. 'What are you wearing, Mary?' Sarah asked, sitting down. , 'My white linen.' 'Oh, and your white shoes and stockings. Mary, you'll look lovely. Gome on, we'll help you dress.' Minnie was in it. too. Getting dressed for the party. Oh, it was fun. It was lovely. She poked away her neglected bag ? of, books .by the' half-made picture fire screen. Mabel was at the mirror, pinching her cheeks, to make them red and hair pinning on a pad, over which she now threw her hair. 'Oh, Mabel; doesn't the pad suit you?' Sarah cried. - ' a ? -Mary: moved /the -party- dresses and petticoats as they .sat oh-!tlie ,end .of the' bed. 'They, 'don't suit some at ?' an.' ; ? .;'??? .? . .Minnie Jiung her while ? stockings over the bed beside Mary's stockings. - She^ got .out her-dancin:gLpumps. ? : 'Oil,: Minnie, ,Mai'y said, ''.Miimma : didn't say you were to. faance.V'- ' ... , Minnie'. -vas . unda ipited,;.' and . pro ceeded .to dress. . ; , ; The girls' bed in .which Mabel and : 1 ; Mary slept was like a ?mountain; of snowy lace and linen ' and' insertion. Here and there a pale bebe ribbon . showed'. 'Shall, i. tie my. hair on the side?' Minnie asked. 'It's in the fashion now.' Sarah and Helen said it was an ugly fashion, and suited only girls with curly hair. Minnie brushed out her hair and let it hang for the party. They were soon rustling in their starched petticoats and shoes, and went out, arms linked about waists, to the front verandah. Minnie fell like one of the grown up girls between Mary and Sarali, who were racing one another to their eigh teenth birthday. - Mabel would soon be nineteen. 'Who's coming?' Sarah asked. 'Everyone. Bert and Fred and Ronny and Alfle and Grace and Jane are coming in from Mombea. It's moon light.' 'Oh, we'll have a lovely time.' Minnie in party-ecstasy squeezed Mary round the waist. Her aunt saw her, and said, looking up from her knitting, 'Don't forget your lessons, Minnie.' 'No, Aunt,' very meekly. Mrs. Peacock's pictures stood on the piano — a perfect monument to femi nine futility, as one depicted an anae mic child with a badly swollen face grasping a stiff bunch of lilies with a vengeance, and the other a magnificent brown eagle with blood-red eyes and claws that were massive and fierce, and feet that would never have held it to the yellow rock, wliich looked like a piece of cheese, on which it was standing. Dodging the pictures, which she thought were ugly, Minnie looked at hersell in the mirror, which Mary had painted prettily with simple forget get-me-nots. Yes, Minnie was convinced that even Bert Rainbow ought to notice her. 'Here's Ronny! Mary, here's Ronny.' 'Oh! and Grace and Jane, Grace and Jane.' Minnie slipped on a woolly mat and almost upset an occasional table lit tered with china dogs and china sta tues of girls with skipping-ropes; and a silver bowl of flowers, as she sli thered to the door to run out and greet her sisters. Grace, a plump, friendly little thing, 'with 110 looks, no brains, nothing but a good heart and a willing hand,' in her own words, who made no secret

of her infatuation lor paddy Regan, bright and pink and excited at being so near the. object, of her girlish passion, hugged Mary and Mabel, and then hugged Minnie. 'We raced Ronny from the bridge,' Grace said, 'and beat him,' as Jane got down, went to the back of the buggy, and lifted out a, sack of potatoes and some vegetables and eggs and milk for Jeanie. 'I suppose Paddy won't be here ? ' ' 'Sh!' Mabel said. 'No.' Then she laughed. Grace was only one of the many girls 'mad about Paddy,' who ' loved but her. Minnie ran up to kiss Jane and ask her about Johnny and her father. 'Why aren't you at your lessons, Minnie?' Jane asked. 'Oh, it's a parly night; I'm not going to do lessolis to-Uighl.' ... /'Well, you won't win your scholarship.'' - - Jane was engaged to Bob Mitchell, wlio lived a mile or two away from them, and Minnie thoughl Jane 'put on airs' because of this. Jane was twenty-one, and perhaps was privileged to do so. In some respects she was more like her Aunt Jeanie than her own father and mother. (To be Continued.)