Chapter 169576881

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Chapter NumberXIII
Chapter Title
Chapter Url
Full Date1891-11-14
Page Number1
Word Count4616
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Bendigo Independent (Vic. : 1891 - 1918)
Trove TitleThe Devil's Own. An Australian Story
article text


CHAPTER XIII. (Continued).


“Yes; th[?] are nearly all Yankee drivers, up to their work and with plenty of [?] Splendid at yarns, too,” said Korean. "I heard such a good

story toldiait week of old Jaokaoiv, whq had just cbm» f&tc< the old on his Arsi/.coaofr.tjip ;> ‘ A oyer sortie.-..very rough county, lie was sent.up with a jolt and a jerk trough the canvas roof of th e coach; to hs disgust, fp,r‘htewas a bit of a swell—/ut to aoff't6 iiia ’disgust he heard the driver say laughingly, to u fellow d-'frer passing at the time, ‘ Hallo, Jim, seen our new stove pipe.’ JacksttoV look of anger was a caution. “ Ojk mefita queey travellers in some'of > the coaches in the diggings district— Chue« en end others. ’ I don’t think. CooovJ was oyer in a coach, she has such B iokor of Chinamen, and 1 am sure tho the sw saw motion would make her ill. She.s not over strong.. By the way, yon. n'coso of AlUury wine, at your plate, splendid - wine it - is too, I saw i t jiioilo myself, pure juice of tho grape, no i adulteration ; just the stuff to give you, strength and put blood into you/ , '.Don’t flank me, it is pot worth thanks, except pf its invigorating ‘properties. Obnnie, thought of it, it is her present, and if you vish to show your gratitude to he, take ileoty of her 8pecific ; (the Reisling),. and jou will bo able to join in our next ‘muster,’ wish all the energy of a warrior going to battle. Ah, hero wo ore. * 1“ Why, they have not ,finished their coofab yet,” said Norman, Wthey entered the little sitting, room and found .Yera on the sofa listening, to Connie’s merry chat. After having assisted the nurse in bathing and putting in their little cots! the tired, wee olive branches.. Puck, quite contrary to the, rule, having volunteered to go to bed first if .minty .would sit by him until he was asleejfomd tell him all all about the;little Hoys, .how big .(hey. were, what were their names, and who was the best boy of thorn all. The little follow gradually dropping off to sleep.’ah most before he’wasiri his little, bed. Tera, loo, was tired and had, felt de-. pressed, not only . from fatigue, but wondering as ; to how the long journey' had affected her husband. She looked up with a bound of pleasure and jumped off the sofa as Mr. . ICortesouo said “Here’s your husbarid, 5 Mrs; Anhelaye, as fresh as a four-year-old and' as lively as a cricket, none the worse for the journey. A good night’s sleep and he will be a different man. I couldn’t with all my persuasions tempt him to. stay to dinner and let-me fetch you, but he was wise, I was not. You must dine with us to-morrow, and as often after till you get tired of us. A stone’s throw distance is. not much more ihansteppiug into the next room, in e roomy old castle or modern palace. Good-night, Mrs; Annelaye, sleep well. Gome, Oonnie; T verily be*. Here you have something more to talk abo«(.” . - “ I have,’/- said Yera, with her old joyous laugh. “ I have a volume to say to Mr. Fortescue, and to you.yourself,, and Connie won't hear of fay speaking of the subject of .the commissariat; but T do not know how to thank you for corning te Albury for us to-day in all tho boat, and then for me to find everything perfect in this enchanted palace, from a good ser vant to the luxury of a pretty safe, crammed .with everything in tho shape of delicacies.; The very sight of the game pie made mo hungry. I am afraid we shall eat you out of house and home by. The contents of (he larder—snipe, quail, duck, and I dp,n’t . know. what else; all shot by yourself,” Vera continued. ?‘‘You must be a splendid shot, Mr. Portescue; but I am sure we have robbed your larder.” . , “Tut, tut, , There’s plenty more whore those came from,” said.Norman Fortesoue, positively, blushing and looking pleased at Vera’s pretty compliment. “ Come, Connie;, good night Mrs Annelaye. : X think your husband * will hare to take care of you in stead of vice versa. He must look after you to-night and not let you do too’ mufelb Oonnie will be down early I venture to say, to see if she hasn’t left out some thing in to-day’s catering.Perhaps, there’s no salt Arc you sure there are salt spoons, Connie? If you people will picnic instead of living comfortably,’’ “ Come away, you terrible old man,” said Connie laughing, and -together they wended thoir way slowly to the home stead, laughing and talking ; Connie full of the children and their.littlo pranks and intelligent conversation, i ; - " I never met such dear children,” said Connie rapturously, ‘‘I thought ours were models, 'but' they are . more inde pendent and outspoken.”. " They turn after their old father, I tear,” said Norman, smiling, to himself as he remembered having come to the rescue of the governess that very afternoon when sho had strictly prohibited, and with difficulty prevented, her young charges leaving the schoolroom in a body and marching off, banners flying (in the shap3 of juvenile pocket 5 handkerchiefs tied on to wickets), down to the cottage; to welcome thrir cousins. “Its a crying shame,” said Lindrsay, the third hopeful, a handsome, high spirited hoy of ten, haying been occa sionalIy Y ,allpwed of late; to, wifh his elder brothers,.accompany their father in his shooting or fishing: expedition and walks, was gradually beginning to fight against petticoat' .government* oven though his brothers were still under its dominion. , . The day following, and for many days to come, the children, who, had soon made friends, have a rollicking jubileo of it with no one but two' good, tempered; nuraes to control' them, for it is getting uear Christmas.; Miss Edwards, the governess, had gone to her friends for, the Christmas week, rather to her regrot; ; 'fer She felt a twihgo of remorse at leaving Mrs. Fortcscue the wholo weight and of such a tribe, of little ones, together witba house full of visitors; but tho childron had no such Ideas; They -sot .to 'work—stowed away bsson books, slates and every objectionable reminder of-; school hours in an old cupboard upstairs, then brought' all their toys—tools atd gamos—to tho schoolroom: ThAt was uT thoir own for a time, without lot or hindrance, and as such ihf-y intended to- arrange it accord ing to thrown childish ideas, inyijfctng their cofiSlne ” •bngV' o' glorious tirijS of boys,” said' " lck y. Jpoon with Elliott Yorke tho iJuko, and Lpd Newry (as they named two white mice), wd a gmne/v pig winch ho has landed in -the - centre ofithe doll’s nospitnl, to hjfcloPmdGutter dismay. . Ernest isitho , major :., demon of i thcf juvenile establishment, keeping’ duo O fdor apiongst tho little once, who looked

?up tb him as their. ‘"and;;-'^uj^erlbr/ and merry; times tltayhdve;? H appy "child reh— Uhjoyous brighb with happy thoughts— Uugh onV enjoy life while .yd. way, for; it is now that !you ° an enjoy it; sing on withhappy, voices (he songs of yputh-and' childhood, foi* the days will ptss away too soon, and. then will folldw n time of graver thou^ht 1 *,.; troubles,; disappointments and grief,- perhapr sick ness and sorrow, and then Death — I the finisher of a)U ,> CHAPTER XIV. <r\ WELCOME-’ “Sing hoigho 1 for the holly, • . Christmas is most jolly.” Agenoral-welcome from his gram salutes ye all: this night ho dedicates, to. fair content'and you-; none here ho 'hopes in tins noble bevy .has-brought with her : bne oaro abroad. -He would; hare all 'as, ; merry as just good company; good wol come,, good \yine, can malce good people. Shakespeare. . ‘ • Christmas in old England and Christ- Itoifls at the. antipodes -are not so widely different as people ini the old country would imagine., rife is. merely the differ ence,, of climate and ; ; the ther mometer, and generally spooking, a warm summer sun, with flowers and fruits in abundance, instead of a snow panorama and blazing fires other manners and customs remain the same in Australia., The feastings, the merry . makings, the Christmas' tree laden with gifts, the taring welcome of old friends, the holly and the mistletoe, all remain the saipe, even to a yule log Occasionally burning briskly on the hearth; often the case when Christmas eve is a chilly one by contrast to the intensely hot sun of a summer day! Ah Australian’Christmas is Christmas without its. drawbacks, as, in England, where it is marred by the near presence of poverty, misery, and starva tion—calamities made the'harder to bear by the snow, ice, and bitter cold-aye, and bitter thoughts ofthose who , have! charitable minds and pity for those-who are starving or dying of cold in a country where only the wealthy .can revel in enjoyment at Christmas time. A.6’,Seringa every one was. happy .and determined to be so In honor of the/ ooca aiori-TT-tbe Christmas festival—even old Paddy Kavanagh, the fencer, forgot his rheumatics for the time and managed to hobble up to the house, a distance of two miles, from his,teat, lo.wish .the ladies a happy Christmas, for which he was well' rewarded for his troublesome walk, as were many old people on , the ,run ; not .tliatj there is any beggary in the Aus-> tralan bush, nor even ih Australian cities . or townships; they don't even re quire unions or workhouses. Of course there are professional beggars by the the; bush as well.ns elsewhere ‘in Australia, as Norman Fortcscno could have testified, for it host him , some hundreds a year to feed travellers, as these loafers called themselves, wander ing as they did from station to station nine,months out of '(he twelve hogging a night’s lodging, supper and breakfast; in fact more than once Norman caught a body of these as they were called, sitting jn h paddock near; the station chatting away com fortably, only, waiting: lilt, the sun went down that they might (as was t]ietT^usrora)gD'up'tn~xhtr'^tatibarhut 7 for the night. And . at Christmas time the number of these ne'er-do-wells in creased in proportion as the roast beef and plums pudding to a large extent wore distributed amongst the hands and at the hut. The Fortescues were essentially Eng lish! and therefore took a delight ie keep ing bp all the old English style of merry making, more particularly as Christmas tide, when at Seringa, all was joyous as marriage bells. The sun was shining brightly, the birds were singing, and all Nature seemed to be rejoicing at a time when it ought to rejoice, even to the hum of insect life. The air was heavy with ; the scent of orange trees, seringa, daphne, and other sweet smelling shrubs and flowers. Now and then a whole flight! of bright hued little buggareegars or ground parroquets flew overhead inacloud, twittering and : chirping, whilst tire rippling laughter and merry voices of children echoed through the forest as a little troop, headed by Enid;' toiled up the hill, laden with flowers and foliage, for decoration, which they had been col lecting in the glen the; last hour,’busy as bees in the summer suttahind. Like the rest of the inhabitants of Seringa, every one was busy, even to the hut cook, who hating cleared his premises for. a , lime of all travellers and objectionable intruders, was to bo soon hard at work . stirring most energetically with an old American broom handle a'savory mess of good in gredients ‘ in a zinc washing tub, the morrow’s plum pudding. The servants were busy (though terribly hindered by the old postman and his jokes), for that evoping fifteen to twenty guests would be there for the Christmas, and there was no -time to be lost in getting several’ rooms ready before niglit. It was astonishing how the.accommoddtion at Seringa, like many other hospitable, stations, could, stretch itself, and the servants rather liked the bustle and turn out in preparing 'the rooms, though it gave thorn much more to do. They liked festival times and hos pitable people. Connie and Yora in large white muslin aprons were flitting about together—the picture of happiness —superintending, all flowers to done (anti at Seringa flowers were to be seen in every nook and corner or dlsowherq of the House), wine to be decanted, fruit lo bo arranged, beds to bo contrived, furni turoto be managed*, the Gorman tree to bo fitted up with gifts, etc. They had the place all to themselves, for Norman Fortesoue, Herbert Annclaye, with some friends had been, off at day dawn to make havoc amongst the feathered tribe, and the report of guns could bo hoard following each oilier in quick succession in the far distance. “ No mean day’s work," Slid Norman Fprtescuo that evening, as a whole heap of game lay on the shadiest side of the broad verandah-duck and teal of all' kinds, wood pigeon, and v last, riot least, snipe,- for the spring nod been late that; year, and the heavy rains hag filled the water holes and swamps, miking snipe plentiful. , There was ho game act in those days in New South Wales, every body shot what - they chose and when they chose. Since then seasons have been proclaimed, and shbotlng wilfl fowl restricted to certain periods of the year,; for tbd best perhaps; or wild turkey and all kincls o| choice gamo'and wdter • fowl , would sootihavb become away from their usual haunts.; v- Snipe, howevdr, and quail are not * included, these, being migratory, birds, only Appear-’ ing at' one season, late spring or . early -summer.: Snipe shotting is the shooting In tlie | southern portions of Australia, thoughit entails strong boots; snake ordof gaiters,*-^andmuch walking under often a; hot sun> > ; “No mean day’s work/' - repeated Mr, Forlescuc, asho oontemplatcdttho fpatheiy mass waiting to bo padkefl for distribu tion v. ; “Pater, wo want you to; come and see

our- decorations/and jpat' tliia' tip, for*, us. < Nurse says Christmas' isn’t Christmas! without holly and mistletoe, * ? said: holding in one hand a largo bunch of and at .onus* lengthen the other, a bunch of holly/' - ; “Where did you get thatfrom.Bonnio?” aaid Mr; Eprtescue to his son. - - > * i" • TKij/ holly Ciimelairtho way from Percy. v ; .? “Ernio, run and tell Jim to/walfc half an hour, arid Pli 8end ,/ the.^inhl^/.ii^i^0 , ?for io•night’s coach, added Mr/Fprtcsoue, Ernie hurried off to deliver ’tlie.’ mos sage, leaving the mistletoe and.' holly to his relief on the verandah/ • . ‘ The game ‘ was soon v packed io in ’/sugar, mats,. and. with; an ndry. other > packages. of fruit, poultry,- and good'things; ’Jim was s*»nb on his way. rojpicing, for'/bpsidcs ’ h ! .'a- substantial meal, a J flirtation with the* maids, . and a . Christmas ' box, ' ;the ?carrier’s little well .-filled with packages for the coach, and as he whipped up his horses asmilo flitted over Che rugged face-as- he shouted,. “ Now/ hoys,ion you go; I’ll be in- time for to night’s coach if I die for it.” It was a great relief to Norman Fortescue’s mind, haying despatched their Oliristmas gifts to town friends so -easily and unexpectedly that afternoon,, and he wondered to himself what' had ‘brought the carrier there that day, as he began hanging up the mistletoe and holly in the different rooms, to please the children. “ Any good ohildren about ?” shouted a jovial voice in the Hall. , ' “ Its Uncle Ted,” said merry young voices in the schoolroom, followed by a general stampede to the 1 jhdll, where sat th’e; jolliest/ kindliest/ merriest looking fat bid gentleman, thCpictpre of rosy health and contentment, as the children crowded rbupd ! /him, 1 , wha should, bp first to' get a kiss and . say a “happy Christmas”' to their favorite-old /uncle.- /‘.Dick, where are your manners, sir, pushing before a young lady 1” said 1 Uncle Ted. , , , “ Please sir, Miss Stewart took them away with her for the holidays,” said Dick comichlly. VVj, “ How. did you come, uncle ? Did you drive all the way-?” said Percy.-; '' Half way by train' arid the’ rest by, buggy—old Bum Bun. But what’s his name? tlan’t you help me, Ernie j it be- J gins with a B-u.” Certainly, uncle, Buzzfly, Bumblebee,” said Ernie with a merry 1 twinkle ip his large eyes. , • ! ' “ You young scamp ; you are too pre cocious by half,” said Uncle 'Ted. ; “I cannot think of tho man’s ’name. He has a station near HoVriong.” “ Where’s aunty V said little Enid. “ Why didn’t you bring her ?’’ “ You never asked her, Mias Enid, and too long a journey,” at which the child was silent. “ Whore’s your mother, Ernio ?” “She has just taken a basket of cakes and fruit down to Aunt, Vera.” “Don’t you' know,” said Dicky, “that we are all going down there to tea. Will you come, uncle ?” “Ohdo, uncle!” said little Enid, strok ing the old man’s face. “/Too long ,a wa!k-for me, my dear,” ?Iie'Sftid._ “ But we’ll carry you, uncle,” said Dickl ... “ Then I'll go, let that be understood’ but mind, if you let me fall’ I’ll eat up. Urn whole lot of you.” At which there was great merriment, as Norman Fortesoue entered the hall, with a pleasant surprised face, and shook his uncle heartily, by the hand, j “ Thought T knew your voice, but [ couldn’t believe it. So glad to see you. Where are your things? Connie will be here in a second. How well you are looking, uncle; so glad you have come. Connie will bo delighted.” Edward Fortescuc, worshipped his brother Stephen. “ My sheet- anchor,” as he termed his brother. Together they had worked through many years of their biblo, Edward os a squatter or landed pro prietor, and Stephen as a merchant. The latter hnd been the mainspring of his brother’s successes, acting as his banker, adviser, friend, and brother—a true brother in every sense, without a grain of theorivy and jealousy, which toooften mars’ brotherly love in English families, Stephen Fortescuc was a busy worker for good in the .world’s line, beloved and re spected by all, a thorough al though in his own estimation preferring to rank himself amongst the publican’s of the biblo rather than the self-exalted Christian of the, Pharisee typo. Having no children of his own to his great regret, for he was fond of them and deserved some); Edward Fortescuc simply took to his h art his favorite brother, Stephen’s children, of which Norman was his especial favorite. He had known him and- loved him from his babyhood—. childhood—and many a pleasant day in Norman’s boyhood had he spent with his ancle on his station riding, fishing, or shooting, and when Norman took unto him a wife, Uncle Ted was glad, and still more pleased when little representatives of the name increased, and CJncloTed was never so happy as when surrounded by the little boys and girls at Seringa. “Do you know,” said Dicky, confi dentially,(hat afternoon ns they wore pic paring to start for Aunt Vera’s tea ; “do you know, I don't think Uncle Ted has .got any presents for us this time, Enid.” “ Don’t bo greedy, Dicky,” said, Enid; “perhaps ho couldn’t bring ,us. any. You know he was driven up by; Mr. Somebody else.” . An hour later and the old man with his nephew was to be seen laterally being pu'Jed along by a bevy of happy children 1 holding his hand, Dick pushing from be hind, as they slowly walked i down the hill to the glen, where in the horse paddock a 1 velvety little meadow near the creek, shaded .by some old trees, Vera bad her tea tabic covered with fruit and cakes., . “Uncle, dear,” said Connie joyously ; you are good. See, this is your .throne, Viera has brought out her only comfort able arm chair for you, -and a footstool also.” “ Don’t kill mo with kindness, my dear Connie,?’ said Uncle,Tod j “or I shall have an attack of my old enemy, and then there’ll be. a pretty, woh’b there, Dick. , What are you thibk ing about,' buns and strawberries, of course/’’ ’ Bat the little follow was not thinking l bf Ti’anaf and strawbqrrjos. Ho was plot ting...and planning* how. ho 'could best' coax. ius> uncle to take him on his next shooting or fishing excursion, a; promise not easy to be won, for Uncle Tod was very nervous whore snakes wore likely to; bo troublesome, .and thought' twice before taking 'tho ohildren whore'thorp was any risk of jsoming in contact with such ob noxious ? However, Unpip, Ted ;was in *a happy frame’ of mlnd odooern- |trcat-for the 6hild»',op,/for ho -had' /just heord /casuftlly that Bartin?s circus would bem'Albu^ thing bf all others for<-thOiboys and;

gifts,- Connie,’Lsaidhein 'Confidence' lover the . teastable, as ho took on '• immense lamp of sugar, dipping it in the- thick cream, swallowing it and making' an ex cruciating .grimace after, os if it had' bebn 'a piece of rhubaib, to the children’s amusement. . .. : . % SAhd when after'the - pretty tea*-’was ; finished and the old man still sat in the arm f chair, smothered or rather- buried alive In flittle-pnes, for both Connie’s and* Vera’s chicks had climbed up to hear whftt' he proposed. Their delight ’ knew ' no' bounds when he said; “ If you are nil' very good childronj ond* don’t swear ' of call names, I am going to take you all to 1 the .oircus—such wonderful things—on'e fellow takes off his head,'and runs jiway with it. But you must • be very good, orj . . % ’the DickehV; there’s Aunt : Vera’s best Su nday-go-to-niooting-ohair coming to grief, as with the weight .one leg of it was gradually' sinking in 11 a soft bit of the ground. ! It will have to go to the Ballarat Hospital if it"has -hr bmfcon ’leg,” said Dfoky. • '-n ~ i. - *-'- <• ?#* •" But no; “ sbrvived'the extra load, legs and all,” said Ermo. ' Tf you’ll promise not to tumble 'out you can' sit still in. it, aiid wo’H all,, carry you up to, the house, uncle,’’, said Dicky. f ,‘ Undo, dear; how can ’yon let them annoy ypu so. - Children, comp away Do;you hear, dears,” said Connie. ;No oho moved. ' ‘‘ They are all deaf, Connie,” said 'Uncle Ted. The dawn of Christmas Day at Seringa was ushpred in with all the splendour of. an 'Australian summer morning; the sun tinting, with rosy light, the tops of tho trees 'in .jfprpsfc' country, and its iwarni 1 Wight- Jbeams tho ( y|ill£7, lighting, up the verdant open coubtry. There were no chimes or even church bells to herald in the day; , no music .but ,of the birds, the. warbling matins of the magpie, or here and there two Quaint looking jackasses having & cross' fire, ojf. chuckles and hush, laughter, as they sat on the dead-branches of an old tree, on the quivive for an early snake or luscious .insect or grub.* It was a bcputifnl scene—worthy of the brush pf the most fastidious painter—but it inquired a Claude, a'tHdyer a' OheyaUe, or aGuerraed to have done justice tosuch a picture, to have , delineated perfectly the whole scene, oven to the slight, blue haze so characteristic of Aus tralian scenery, that enveloped the landscape, as— “ bidden shadow, touched The green loaves (ill ft-lromlilo with 'gold ... ligUt” - - . Every one- was up betimes, for !< the children in bath homes had been awake and up before sunrise, eager to see what the good Santa Claus: had put into their stockings that night. Little Pack had stolen a march, and climbing on to the pillow in the dark (not quite sure that Santa Claus would comb'nl) the way to tlioir now-Ghriatmas home, had crept back into bed .again, quite satisfied by feeling) that his stobking' was quite full with substantial presents, and bad* slept heavily till-late for a wonder. 1 Uncle Ted had been up Grst of allyhadhad his bath, a glass of fresh buttermilk, and a tour of inspection through the stables before any of the household were astir ; had even been mysteriously busy in his own' room before‘'l>reakfaafc, with his d 5br to the children’s surprise and annoyance. - Biit the reason was obvious soon after, as .was tho reason of the carrier’s visit, when amongst the many gif's spread out on a large table,; Undo Ted's 1 Chris* mas presents almost; eclipsed them all. No wonder he had disappeared'for an endless time—such gifts must have taken an hour in opening'out. No one was for gotten, and it would have puzzled a problem dedpherer os to who was the most pleased and surprised. Even Vera, who could only claim distant relationship, hajl been femembered, and a silver mounted travelling-bag awaited her, with a handsome platypus travelling rug for her husband. Connie’s gifts from Uncle Ted were loo numerous to mention. “ All and everything I have been longing for,” she said joyously. iOonoie •. had made a decree that all gifts were to bo pub on tho table and plainly marked for and from whom. “Connie,'ray dear,” said Uncle Ted, with a sly wink Waggishly have a present for Norman) bub I don’t see iny room.”. • 11 “ Oh yes, uncle; wo’ll soon make room. See," a yard square, “ there is oflffgh.” “ Well my dear, I don’t see how it is to bo managed. We might tie their legs.” . “ ,Oh } uncle, I know.. Its poultry; is it not I”" :, ?. . “ Not. exactly, dear, os cooks and hens can generally boast of only two logs.” “ Its dogs. I know it ib is,” said Dicky. “ Dear little weeny hairy terriers.”- “No)” said Uncle Ted; “but upon second thoughts I don’t think he .will put them on the table. They might upset tl;o china.and glass. They arc at the’ door in their- . t . their” “ Coops,” said Connie. “No; body clothes,” said Uncle Ted. . “Body clothes !’ said Connie. “ Yes; flannel dressing gowns. Come and-' see; come along Norman, rny son. You are the most interested,” said Uncle Tod, loading the way, “ followed by (ho whole congregation,” whispered Ernie to Aunt Vera. It was a handsomo pair of buggy pontes that greeted N,orman’s view first, to his inexpressible delight. In fect there was such a netting and stroking and admiring the animals, and feeding them" with sugar, bteoults, and cake, and other injurious tilings, it was a wonder Ronald and Donald didn’t, choke or have a fib of apoplexy then and there. (to ha cox tin trap.)