Chapter 169576734

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Chapter NumberXI. (Continued.) XII. XIII.
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Full Date1891-11-07
Page Number1
Word Count4570
Last Corrected2020-06-27
Newspaper TitleThe Bendigo Independent (Vic. : 1891 - 1918)
Trove TitleThe Devil's Own. An Australian Story
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CHAPTER XI. (Continued).

The Kashmir was nearing Cresville, and eager faces from all parts of the deck were on the alert to catch a first glimpse of it.

“Well, if I ain't disappointed," said Mrs. Emmanuel Carruthers, looking through her husband’s field glasses, as a long ridge of sand, with here and there a house, presented itself to her gaze. “I had pictured to myself orange plantations, peach orchards, beautiful vineyards, and I don’t know what else. Now, I don’t even see a tree at all, nor even any ships. Ain’t there a harbor, Captain? where? " Oh, up in the town, there, two miles inland,” said a passenger. “ Well, I never," said Mrs. Emmanuel in disgust, “ where are all the natives? I don’t see any.’’ " Busy cooking picaninnies in the back parlors of their their mia mia's," said her husband, who was deep in the telegrams of a newpaper that had just been put on board. "But where are the mia mias?” "Behind the rocks," said the colonel. " But there ain’t no rocks, nothing but sand. Such a place, it beats Sahara hollow for sand. I should say—ah, we are coming nearer fast. I can see as plain as plain an old woman driving a spring cart—no, she ain’t old—for she’s dressed in—oh, gracious! such a hat! long red feathers streaming right out in the wind. Yes, I can see two policemen— yes, they look like policemen, with clothes on. Well, there ain’t nothing native about that. Well, if I ain’t dis- gusted. Come and look, Emmanuel, do there’s a bush fire going on, that’s some- thing to see.” "No,” said a facetious passenger, that’s only a cloud of dust—a kind of momen.- tary whirlwind—the wind is north, which generally sends the dust flying, I should strongly advise you, Mrs. Carru- thers, to keep your mouth shut if you land.” " Well now if that ain’t horrid, and l was just thinking what I should order to eat for my first meal on landing. What would you like Miss Vavasour ; but you ain’t particular I guess?” “ Not very," said Miss Vavasour "about eating—l think I should be content with a good cup of tea and some muffins and crumpets.” " Should you now ? Well, I reckon that would’nt satisfy me, and the curnel. We could’nt be content with that, should we Emmanuel?" " No, nothing" under a haunch of roast baby, well cooked, with gum-leaf sauce,” said Emmanuel. "Now do put your paper down, and I have a look at Oresville,” said his wife. It was not many days after this that our trio reached their destination. “ Here we are,” said a pleasant voice amongst a group that stood on the wharf as the steamer drew up alongside, and eager faces looked from the deck and the pier towards each' other trying to recog- rise those they most wished to see. “Here we are—I knew you at .once by your photo. We have been on the look out for you the last hour—Connie and I. Did you have a jolly voyage? Not ill, I hope?" No one answered to the cheerful ap- peal. Everyone on deck looked at his neighbor as much as to say, “he is not speaking to me.” “Not me,” said another, “don’t know the man from Adam.” “It must be you, Mr. Austin,’' said a third. “See they are looking at you.” “Never saw the pair in my life, I am sorry to say—wish I had. Fine looking fellow and pretty woman,” said Mr. Austin, an old gentleman, who looked the personification of “a contented mind is a continual feast.” Miss Yavasour was perfectly oblivious of anyone addressing her. So much taken up was she with the novelty of the scene, so different from what as she supposed the landing at the far end of the world would be. English faces swarmed on the pier, English voices sounded everywhere. English fruit— rosy apples, golden pears, peaches and plums —were being offered up for sale in English looking baskets. Even dapper looking English policemen added themselves and their uniforms to the picture, as they sauntered slowly about with an eye to business or pleasure, as the case might be. Miss Vavasour stared about her in vain for something un-English, her bright eyes scanning and noticing every- body and everything, and at last with a sigh very much like one of disappoint- ment, she turned to her niece. " Vera," she said dolefully, "are we in Australia? I cannot see anything Australian about the place.” Miss Temple had been standing some way behind the front row of spectators, and deep in conversation with her lover, who was looking particularly “down in the mouth" at the time, and wrapt up in his dulcinea's sweet tones of consolation as they consulted as to what they in- tended to do, when they were to see each other; how many times a, day or week, as the case might be, they were to write to each other, etc., etc., as they stood together for a a short spacer of time apart from the crowd, before they were to separate. “For goodness knows how long, my darling," Mr. Annelaye dolefully, as he looked fondly at his love. " Miss Vavasour,” shouted the same voice from the pier. "Some one is speaking to you, Miss Vavasour," said a passenger touching that lady on the arm. “There, over there, do you see a lady and gentleman.” Miss Vavasour looked and look again, at last catching sight of a couple waving their welcomes the best way they could. " Welcome, welcome, Miss Vavasour. I knew you at once from your photo. I don't believe Connie would ever have found you out," said a fine looking man in a light tweed suit, as he made his way under difficulties to where the group stood together. " By jove! I had hard work to get Connie on board. I believe she nearly lost her bonnet, but I couldn't afford to lose you. Now we can welcome you all last. Here's Connie, now tell me all about your luggage, and I'll see to everything. I know the captain." " Thank you," said Miss Vavasour, after sundry handshakes amongst the party. " Thank you," she said, very much pleased at her reception, but still more bewildered at the busy scene around her. " You are very good. Mr. Annelaye has pro- mised to be my aide-de-camp and see to all our things. He has my list. Yes, I shall be glad to get on land again. Here, Vera. Now where is that foolish child? Ah, here they come. I must in- troduce you to my friend, Mr. Annelaye, perhaps you will be able to work together

in getting our luggage as it is not very for- midable." Introductions followed, Miss Vavasour and her niece being driven away with Mrs. Fortescue to comfortable rooms at a good hotel in Goldsborough, the gentle- men promising to follow soon after. "Norman,” whispered Mrs. Fortescue, as she peeped into her husband's dress- ing room just before dinner. '‘Norman ” said she mysteriously, “I have an idea, its a secret." “ Christopher Columbus! How you startled me, Connie. I thought it was a ghost, and you’ve spoilt my tie, made a regular mess of it” said Mr. Fortescue, with elbows straight out, holding a scrap of white muslin by the ends as if about to throttle himself. " Do you know,” said his wife, “I have an idea that, that Mr.—Mr.——." “Annelaye. I saw it on his port- manteau,” said Mr. Fortescue. “Mr. Annalaye is something more than a friend. I caught him twice mak- ing signs to Vera Temple. I wouldn’t be too positive, but I am nearly sure I saw him kiss his hand to her as we drove away. I did really.” “ No! You don’t say so. Impossible. What a very er-reprehensible young man, and I had rather taken a fancy to him. How shocking! He must be sent to the right about at once. I won’t have my morals contaminated,” said Mr. Fortescue, putting on a shocked air, and throwing the massacred tie into the fire place. "I’ll see to it.” “Don’t be a goose. You’ll do nothing of the kind. If you betray me I’ll never tell you anything again—never. I may be mistaken. We shall hear all about it sooner or later, so not a word,” and the little dame tripped back in her white petticoat to finish her toilette for the eve- ning. Then followed days of happiness to all parties. “Your aunts must see all there is to be seen here before we bury her alive in our bush wigswam;” said Mr. Fortescue the first morning after the arrival of the travellers, and to his wife’s delight Aunt Vavasour seemed pleased at the idea of remaining a fortnight in Goldsborough. If the truth must be told Herbert Annelaye was to look but for some kind of occupation, a station if possible. At any rate home for his future be- fore Miss Vavasour could consent to part with her niece, and the kind old lady, in her heart of hearts, did not at all relish the idea of leaving the young fellow at the mercy of a new world. “I know l am an old fidget,” she said to him just before they landed, “but, my dear boy, I insist upon you coming with us, wherever that may be. l am not going to leave you alone to solitude again, without any friends, even our- selves. I hope you will soon settle into some occupation, though you’ll have occupation of itself in taking charge of a lively young woman for the rest of your life.” Nothing loth Herbert Annelaye said, “ So be it, Miss Dorothy; we’ll stick to- gether through sunshine and showers till death us do part. We three, eh! I shall not be long in finding a home for my darling, and you will stay with us for a few years till I have made a certain sum, then we will all go home together. I shall not remain longer than I can help away from my fatherland, you may depend upon that.” CHAPTER XII. HOPE. “ I have wept my fill, now paid my tribute Life and duty claim me; “ To-morrow to fresh fields and pastures now. ” Milton. It was no easy matter for a stranger, and one so l totally unused to work or business of any kind, as was Herbert Annelaye, to find some occupation that would suit him. He had been brought up in the lap of luxury, had received a military education which was useless in anything but military appointment. Secretaryships, and other ships of the clerical order were difficult to be ob- tained. As elsewhere, when offices of this kind were vacant there were a hundred applicants trying to get them, and of the applicants numerous were the applications from young Englishmen, who had gone to the colony to better them- selves, with but a sous in many cases to help themselves, trusting mostly to interest their letters of introduction to colonial firms likely to be of use. Herbert Anne- laye could not be ranked amongst this impecunious class, for he had money—his mother’s money—not a large sum—only a very few thousand—but ample to further his intentions. This sum he intended to invest and settle upon his future wife on her marriage day. He knew nothing about her little fortune. Miss Vavasour had kept that knowledge a secret, intend- ing it as a surprise. Vera had hinted at not being quite penniless, but he had shut her pretty mouth in the orthodox lover’s fashion when she attempted to prolong such an objectionable subject. Fate was propitious to the young man, who, thanks to Mr.Fortescue, was not long in finding the ' exact ' thing that would suit him. A young Scotchman, a friend of the Fortescue’s, happened to be on the look out for a partner with some capital, to join in buying a sheep station. He was thoroughly well used to station life in its different phases, hav- ing lived most of his life on his father’s run. Now he wished to start for himself He had talked over the subject with his friend Fortcescue, and now Herbert Anne- laye had stated his plans and wishes, Mr. Fortescue was only to glad to further the interests of both by an introduc- tion. ‘‘But Annelaye knows nothing of squatting,” said Norman to his friend Donald. "Wouldn’t that ignorance be a drawback to you?” “It wadna be a drawback; ’twould be a vary great advantage. I know enough for both if your friend would but trust me. I’ll work the whole place myself; my partner may sit still and look on.” “Annelaye is a first rate fellow, Mac- donald; but a duffer about stock. If he knows a pig from a sheep that’s about all, he confesses himself, in his modest way of putting it,” said Fortescue. The young Scotchman looked evidently pleased. “My friend Macdonald is so thoroughly up in everything as to sheep farm- ing I am afraid he would like to have all the management. It would be a long holiday for you, Annelaye, old fellow; but how would you like it. I mean, resting on your oars whilst he managed the run,” said Fortescue to his new friend. " Well, am not an idle man, but knowing nothing, one has to learn a good deal, and if I did interfere I fancy I should only make a mess of it until I know all I about it. I am quite content to do what I can, Fortescue.” So it was settled amicably, as the term is, to the satisfaction of all parties, even to the choice of a small but profitable station on the river Ardaspe, well fenced and sub-divivided, with a com- fortable homestead on it. “Just the sort of place to suit my

darling,” said Annelaye, as he went through the garden to the well built house replete with every convenience, the scenery romantic in the extreme; the winding river, wide in many parts, and picturesquely shaded with willows and other graceful foliage. Macdonald having been content to live bachelor fashion hitherto, there was but little furniture to come from his late residence in the bush and he positively refused to take possession of any part of the house, blushing at the very idea of intruding upon the love bird life of a newly married pair. What was to be done? Miss Vavasour came to the rescue. “Mr. Macdonald,” said she one day, taking her new acquaintance aside for a confab, as she called it; “don’t be so ob- stinate about turning hermit for a second Nebuchadezzar, I have promised to spend a month or two with the Buggu regars—two is company, three is none— so it would be positively heartless of you to leave me to my solitary self, whilst the young pair are all in all to each other, and not even giving a thought to poor Aunt Dot.” At which the young fellow blushed, ‘seeing through' it all, and voted Miss Vavasour a brick to his friend Fortescue. So heads were put to work to decide upon furniture and fittings for the new home. A comfortable suite of three small rooms being allotted at the furthest wing of the cottage for Mr. Macdonald, which Miss Vavasour also insisted upon furnishing. And so it came to pass one bright morning that Vera Temple gave her hand to Herbert Annelaye, never to regret it in the years to come. A quiet little wedding in the pretty Albury church, Donald Macdonald blushing scarlet at being best man on the occasion. Then for a month’s, travelling and amusement, and finally a quiet peaceful life of unalloyed happiness in the pretty cottage home, where Herbert Annelaye surprised himself at finding he could be could be useful in many ways, to his part- ner, and Vera and he had many a laugh at her novel attempts at housekeeping. Five years had passed over their heads and three small pledges of affection had been added to their happy lot. Since then Herbert Annelaye, had made a good round sum by selling his share to his partner. They were now to start for England at last, after the delay caused by a dangerous illness to Mr. Annelaye, typhoid fever of a serious, kind, which had prostrated him to such a degree the doc- tors feared the effects of the voyage and English climate upon him. CHAPTER XIII. HOSPITALITY. “There is an emanation from the heart in genuine hospitality which cannot be described, but is immediately felt, and puts the stranger at once at his ease.”—WASHINGTON IRVINE. “At last, my darling,” said Connie Fortescue, joyously, running out of the fragrant little rustic porch, as wheels were heard and Norman Fortescue pulled up short, and Vera sprang out, and was clasped in her cousin’s arms. “ Connie, dear old Connie. I can scarcely believe I am here again, and you, dear, so close to me. It was so good of Mr. Fortescue to drive to Albury for us this dreadful day. I felt quite sorry for the horses, the heat was so intense, though we enjoyed the drive. Is not the country lovely, so green and fresh. I could scarcely believe it was the middle of summer. These are my chicks, Connie. Puck, this is pretty Aunt Connie.” Puck, a handsome little four year old, looked up wonderingly, with a child's questioning instinct—as to whether he should like his Aunt Connie. The scrutiny was evidently satisfactory. Puck volunteered a kiss, putting his arms round Aunt Connie’s neck. “My, darlings,” she said, kissing the little ones all round, and taking the baby girl in her arms. “Aunty has tea and cakes all ready for you; dear little mother must lie down and rest a wee after such a long day.” “What a fairy palace,” said Vera, as she entered the little “Nest ” and ad- mired everything from the cool looking fern leaves; chintz covered furniture, to the dainty little tea service and basket of freshly gathered strawberries. “ No thank you, dear ” (in answer to a question from Connie). “Thanks, to your dear husband we had a substantial meal at Albury, winding up with the most deliciously cool melon as cold as ice.” “Ah, that’s Norman’s doing,” said Mrs. Fortescue. “Ice is not to be had, in Albury yet, so Norman always has the fruit and wine put in the tank until it is wanted; I declared it must be iced the first time we lunched at the hotel.” “Come along, Annelaye; the girls are dying to have a 'talkee talkee.’ We'd leave them—come, we are not wanted.” Annelaye jumped up beside his friend, and they drove up to the house to- gether. “There is nothing like a warm bath, some iced B. and S., and then a good smoke, for setting a man up after a hot journey.” “We have a first rate bath room, with plenty of water. My own ingenious contrivance, as the wife termed it. Have something to wash away the dust first, then I will show you the bathroom.” The Fortescue's like all Australians, could not do without their bathroom, however difficult it had been to attain in a country town, where water was at a premium very often, and a bath almost impossible; and hero I may observe that in Australia almost every house has its bathroom—considered a requisite as a matter of course, and essential to the health of the household. English people would do well to imitate their antipodean brethren, for how difficult is it in Eng- land, or even in London, where water is plentiful, to find any moderate sized house with its bathroom, where you can take an invigorating plunge in comfort, instead of walking through hot and dusty streets to the over crowded public baths, rushed by all sorts and conditions of men and women, or chose the only other alternative (if you do not live at a club or hotel), crouch knees and nose together, in a city or Douche bath in your, room, in the one case with legs dangling out- side. Herbert Annelaye did feel a new man in the society of his friend, no one could feel otherwise, Norman Fortescue pos- sessing the talisman of chasing away sad thoughts and silent reveries, however down in the mouth you might feel on entering his presence. “Connie and I were vexed that you wouldn't take up your quarters with us instead of at the cottage, old fellow; but you know best. I like people at Seringa to chose their own life and do as they like if possible, I never, interfere with their tastes or wishes. Liberty Hall, with its freedom, is the most enjoyable sphere. I can quite understand, our visitors appreciating the free and easy life of our little bush cottage, particu- larly with small fry, and l am a good judge, having five little picanninnies of my own; such chatterboxes but good

children, mind you, as ever lived,” said Norman, softening, as he of his handsome young family, at that moment devouring piles of bread and bread and butter with their governess in the schoolroom. The men were in the verandah in comfortable Indian lounges, smoking and chatting, though Annelaye seemed too quiet by half,” as Mr. Fortescue told his wife that evening. Watching the setting sun as it slowly went down in golden splendour across the valley, Herbert gradually got into dream- land (a favorite weakness of his of late), again thinking of the past with its mixed, painful and pleasant memories. of the bright English home he had left; of his loving friends and old comrades in the old country; and then on to the second part of his life—an exile, as he termed it, under a cloud as it must ap- pear. How he had fought bravely with fickle fortune in trying to make money. Only a little, not much—a paltry three thousand. Bah! " A mere bagatelle,” he said to himself. How he had struggled and worked and worked and struggled for the last five years—had been fortu- nate and unfortunate—and then, after this struggle for five long weary years, when he had reached the goal of his ambition, few thousands, all he wanted to be able to return to old England with his devoted and peerless little wife, to be stricken down by dire and cruel fate with a dangerous illness, racking his con- stitution; and for a time blighting his hopes and marring his plans. Fate had been too cruel. "Have I deserved it,” he said to himself sadly; is there such a thing as Providence or justice!” " You are getting much stronger, Bertie," said Mr. Fortescue, seeing his friend drifting into a sadder mood. " Yes, thanks,” said Annelaye, starting from his reverie. " A month in your society, Fortescue, with nothing to do or think about, in your little fairy home down there, and I shall be my old self again. Perhaps stronger than ever the doctors say, but it has been such a hard struggle—battle of life—a fight against such long odds. I think I should have succumbed long ago but for Yera, She has been my sheet anchor; God bless her! Poor little Vera—she has had a hard time of it altogether. It is a marvel to me how she has bravely kept up through all our trouble. She has never once flagged; always the same lov- ing, bright, energetic little girlie I met board the Kashmir—now over five years ago—worse luck for her poor darling.” " Tut! tut! Nonsense! Rubbish! Don’t got hipped, there’s a good fellow. That won't help you; you are tired, and the heat of the day was enough to try even a tough old salamander like me. I am going to mix you a tot of this stuff; it will do you no harm. You want a re- viver. There—that will do you good. Cheer up, and thank God you are over your illness, and have been blessed with a wife in a thousand. She is indeed far above rubies. We men, as a rule, have courage to any extent, but we lack that one great attribute of womankind — fortitude. It is this virtue that makes half the good women of this world what they are—saints, in patiently breasting life’s trials and troubles. I thank my stars every day of my life I also have a good wife. It is not every man can boast of such a blessing. Cheer up, you'll be as strong as a lion if you follow my advice—eat well, sleep well, don’t think too much. Thoughts too often bring grey hairs; leave the rest to Provi- dence,” said Norman Fortescue, (looking at his watch, and then in at the dining room, as much as to say, "I feel it must be near dinner time”), "but as you posi- tively refuse to be sociable, and remain to dinner and let me go down for your wife, I will walk down with you to your den and bring back Connie. My word, how their tongues must have wagged. Depend upon it they have beat us hollow in talking.” "I fear I have been but a sorry com- panion," said Annelaye wearily. " You! Not a bit of it. I am both surprised and delighted to find you posi- tively well and cheerful, instead of being knocked up with to-day’s heat, and a coach journey of two hundred, miles, with the thermometer at 120, is a wonderful trial of strength for an in- valid.” "Its wonderful how these drivers cut straight across country through forest and scrub full tear,” said Annelaye, and in the middle of the night too .” (TO BE CONTINUED.)