|Chapter Number||XV (Continued)|
|Newspaper Title||Sydney Mail (NSW : 1912 - 1938)|
|Trove Title||Sons of the Seven Mile|
Sons of the Seven
An Australian Novel of
Country & City Life
by Zora Cross
CHAPTER XV.— (Continued)
'II7E'LL see al)Oul that,' Minnie said, feeling guilty ? 1/1/ for a moment; but only for a moment, as now VV - boys and girls were arriving from every ™ -? where, and -the road before .Blake's and both sides -of the; grassy footpath were crowded with people corning-, in to see the raffle drawn, since all ticket-holders had. been invited, as well as others.
-jGaliaways, who lived opposite, and were jealous of the^Blakes because they, had taken, no tickets in Hie raffle, and had not been .invited to the party, were hav ing^ a dance themselves. Boys without coats or collars were dancing on the green outside with girls in print and cashmere dresses, and some of them were dancing on the 'verandah -'to a mouth-organ, a concertina, and an old'piano. ; The Chinese lanterns on the Blakes' verandah were now lighted, and the air was laden with laughter, while the -pungent odour of fresh green grass crushed under foot ' filled the nostrils. 'Here you are! Gome along in!' 'Good-night, Fred.' 'Good-night; Mr. Blake.' . 'Hello, Violet.' 'How do, Mrs. Blake?' 'What a lovely night!' 'Oh, Mrs. Blake, the smell of your lovely ferns!' 'Um! You could eat 'em.' 'Come in.' 'Come along.' ; Jeanie and Andy received the visitors at the steps, and 'at. the right of Jeanie was the table containing the hat 'and the raffle numbers. Sometimes they threw the dice for a raffle, at other times drew a number. = Mrs. Peacock had requested a number to be drawn. ; It was quicker, and the young people could get to the dancing earlier. Minnie — bathed in perfect delight at the sight of so , many pretty girls and tall, well - groomed party boys— hung about the front step, while the verandah to -which chairs had been brought became a whole gallery of people, who flowed over into the drawing-room, where Mary, who had not yet seen her young lover, hovered somewhat timidly, saying, 'Mind the ornaments. I'll take your hat, Ernie. Oh, mind the flowers — I'll move them.' ..One of the Ryan girls, wiio had passed all her music examinations and wore her hair in a four plait down her back, seeing the piano open, went to play it, and everyone called out a different air. 'That's right, Bella,' Jeanie said from the veran dah,- -where the elder visitors were gathering about her now. 'Play up! Play up!' Her face was bright and happy. The boys and girls about her seemed to spread a glow that per meated everything. She knew and greeted them all as they came. Bella enlivened everything by starting up the 'Mojeking Bird.' The party had begun. Mary's starched table runners were being slightly pulled out of place — mats slightly dirtied, and the antimacassars, which Jeanie still liked to use, were getting crumpled. Cushions had to be placed on the floor for girls to sit on; chairs creaked under the weight of two and three people. 'Mary, bring in some of the old chairs,' Jeanie called. 'Minnie, get me Dadda's footstool.' Oh, a party was the thing! Minnie bumped into Mary running about with broken, chairs, and they laughed. 'Have you seen Ronny and Flora yet?' Mary asked. 'I haven't.' 'Flora's out with your mother. Ronny's over at the hotel.' Mary's face clouded a little. She knew that it was to get tips for the races that Ronny called in tr
there; and, though he frequently bet, he ? seldom won any thing. But Mary ran. on with her broken chair. Bert Rainbow Jisd arrived with -a roll of songs, and Lucy O'Keefe, who was the champion soprano of Hills borough, was with liim/ also ; with a roll of songs. 'Someone give us a song!' The house was now .echoing with merriment and chatter and noise. 'Wait until the pictures are raffled.' 'No, no!' Jeanie said. 'Sing up! . Sing on — it isn't eight o'clock yet.' The drawing of the number was at eight. MINNIE hid behind a large fern and watched Bert Rainbow, a massive man with a great bass voice, removing Lucy O'Keefe's cloak. She saw her uncle rise, and heard him say he would not be long. He, too, was. going over to the hotel, but not to get tips for the races; only to talk of the mines and to get any- inside information that there was.to be got. Minnie watched him cross the road as Ronny McPhie, a thin, slight lad with pale blue eyes, crossed to Blake's at a run. His sister Flora, a pretty, red-haired little girl, was waiting for him at the gate. . ' 'Now, mind you, Ronny,' she said as* he entered, 'I'm telling father about this. The perfect disgrace of coming into see Mary, and going over there after Mac pherson!' 'Don't have such a lot to say, Flora,' Ronny re torted. 'Mac called me over, and you wouldn't be ask ing me to lose a good tip, would you?'
? 'Yes, I would.' What'll Mary think of you? A man'll .do anything that bets on horses.' Ronny, angry that his sister should be so interfering, shrugged : his shoulders as he came up the path to wards' Minnie. 'Hello, Minnie,' he said. 'Do you hear her talking at me?' Minnie was shy in Ronny's presence. He was a- pupil- teacher at the boys' department of her school, and the darling of his parents' hearts. Ronny had a weak face and pale blue eyes. Minnie knew that Ronny bet on horses, but she could see no difference between that and having shares in a mine. It was all a matter of chance. 'Ronny,' Jeanie called out as she saw him, 'come along. You can draw the- lucky number.' Minnie saw Mary and Ronny greet each other *j .'?''' quietly, as if they had been friends, not sweethearts. Ronny was approved of as a suitor, and that made all1, the difference. Her aunt allowed them to sit on the verandah alone together. She wondered with a stupidly beating heart if Mary had forgotten to introduce her to Bert Rainbow. No. Mary had not forgotten. ,£,. As everyone crowded now about the table to see *-«?- who would win the pictures, and Mrs. Peacock, the mother of the cripple, was being congratulated on the beauty of her daughter's work, Mary said to Minnie, with her quiet, somewhat dry smile, 'Come on ; I'll' introduce you to Bert.' Minnie trembled. She was grown-up — not a child. She waited beside Mary. Mary, still with her odd, queer smile, said,' as she touched Bert's arm : 'Bert, let me introduce my cousin Minnie.' Bert looked down from his height on the now self-conscious child, who was longing to fly to her books. Being introduced to boys was very fashibn ? able in the street, and at parties and picnics. The Hill was as, full of boys as the mines were full of gold. But Bert, blunt and hearty, and thinking Mary was joking, casually and smilingly said, 'Why, she's only a kid!' Minnie' wilted. Then she withered away— she squirmed past the people drawing the raffle, through the summer-house, to the parlour and back to -her books, which she drew towards her for comfort. She was . ashamed of herself — humiliated — tor- tured. 'Hurrah ! Hurrah ! Mrs. Blake has won the pic tures herself.' Voices cried, 'Hurrah! Bert, a song, a song!' Minnie bent her head down in her book. No more boys for her now. She never wanted to .'.feel like that again. /'Minnie, Minnie, where are you?' She took her history book and hid herself behind the cupboard at the far end of the parlour, still feel , ing as if beetles were crawling all over her. She did not want to see anyone. She could hear Bert's magnificent voice pouring through the house — 'In cellar cool at ease I sit Upon my barrel, drinking.' It was like gurgling water, deep and cool — a ./ wonderful voice. Then a perfectly terrible thing happened. Paddy Regan slid over the fence like a snake, ran into the j summer-house, and right up to the parlour door. £, 'Minnie, go and tell Mabel I'm down by the Ian— h.-' tana — quick,' he said. 'I won't,' she replied. 'Go on. There's a good little girl,' he pleaded, and slid away again. Grace, her eyes strangely shining like stars, came out, and spied Minnie. Minnie was terrified of this love-intrigue winch was being played about her. She said to Grace,