Chapter 18612484

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Chapter NumberI
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article18612484
Full Date1893-12-23
Page Number5
Corrections0
Word Count7723
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleCamperdown Chronicle (Vic. : 1877 - 1954)
Trove TitleThe Christmas Reef
article text

THE CHRISTMAS REEF

CHAPTER I.

BY JAMES CROZIER.

"Uertain'y. my de«r young lady, cer tainly. O£ conrse I accept whatever apology yon think necemry bat gome tears a*;o -» giod number now, to be Hord—l should b»ve sibod for b»l£-s.dat with a pretty girl parched on my fnvoorite com. Goat and rb-um»lic« make * riifferecce that I hope jou will never know from eiperii nee bat even now it is not very b-rd t>lorgive s golt Iread on a onptiuos toe." ? X i.ad been really very ioconsideute, and my moth r wonld hi*e toll me, "unladylike." H übo, my mannTH never will have Ilia repo.e '' which a amps the c«s-o of Vcie de Veie." I doubt I slmll be a hoyden, as mamma put it. nmil the [ end of ih» chapter, and brother Will saj» he oitii-a the maa th»t wII g»t me—ac if I ehon'd care for any man for whole years »nd ages jet I I like old mcD, I really do. They are much more kindly and grntla and courteous than cnnceiled donkeys like thomenltl—l wonld fill up Ibe wbole line with the marks but it would hardly look nice—thai Btl bring* home for tea fiom Ormond or Tfioitv Odlege, Hilf of ibe innocent! ahou'd wear petliconta, j or at leatt, take to bloc men. B-.t I like old men, not too old, bat -Id enoagb to have gnt r;d of oonceit. They are very nice. In Victoria tbey bave the look ot, having' done sorrHbing, and of bsving done it well. And tbey look too as if tbey could do more yet, and do it well, also. Wh»tapityitH I can't'express all I think in words. It is really a great shame for me to tell this lroe story, for there— even at the beginning—l bave said some thing I don't quite nnders'and mi self, and how am I to expect others to nnderaiand ? Bat, as I said before, I like • ice old men, gentlemen, of coarse I mean, and you can fancy bow diegastcd I vu when running ap to the railway carriage—first. claßß—itSp-ncer-ntrett, I raihod in over an old gentleman's feet, and would have came to an ignominioas collapse on the floor if he bad not cangh* me at I was on the-point of foiling. Thai's always the way with me, I never seem to have time to do anything right, and I am alwaya in a muddle tryiog to catrb up with some thing ahead. . ' When I get over the rush I taaoally take things eaßy, and on this occa-ion I qoickly anbaii'erl, a'ter profnse apologia, into a comfortable ?eat, and now I have a chance of quietly letting yon know who your bumble servant is. and why on this 23rd day of December I am a passenger in charge of the gcard of the afternoon train fur Maryborough, which leaves so ez^speratingly punctual, and raids me maice such a boyden of myself.

Well. I am just at that delightfal age wb'cb poets loug ago used to rave abont —"sweet Bixleen," an<* my name is Millie Walton. It i« the fashion now.a-days to overlook yoong ladies of my age—that is when we allow oaraelves to be overloakad, wbicb, thank goodaesp, is not often tha oaie—aDd we are duly pat down—eg pert ard forward tniDXei.no good bat for getting into aDd making trouble. There it a good deal of irulh in the indictrafnt, I confess, bat not all the troth,Mr Cantor, sad i£ w« art* more troublesome to papaa tod fnimmis and stern elder brothers than were oar Krandmotbers ut the same age, the r"aton is Dot b«nl Io find. We really know more than tbey di-l when they were in the teens or even in the twenii-f. Ouredacation ia higher,and we can fight oar own bsttTes with (be bo)» in Latin and Freto 1! and MUbematict, and th >se delightfully Horrid chemistry and physiology ud tbicga. In fact, me Jin dc sitcle girls are an impro*e mtnt on ibe "sweet s'Xteeo" of the bi ginnog of the century. Parbapa we know it too.

X rfoubtl am troublesome to my p*pa and mamma, and, m fur Bill, be sayi I am the plagne of bis lift. Bat I know they were all pleaded when 1 did so well «t the last • Mairia Elimination sod actually took bonort io French. 1 tholgbl "o* loail bMU " e( mjM, at Will M

lbs impudence to say, and fancied myself a "gro»n-op," and at once let down my dress at least two inohes at the ontward and visible sign of growth and gravity. My dear, dear friend, Jsesie M»UUnd, asked xa- to »pend Cbrietmaa wilh her, and, if I waa troud before, I was actually "potted op" when ptpagave bit consent to tuy travelling all tbe way to Mary, botongh by mjtelf, and with a nee little pnrse well stocked with bright sovereigns and crisp bank note*. Same of the Utter, I an ar-rry to ray, tamed ottt to be of little asp, because the nasty bank toak thai very time to ftil, and 1 conld not gat the notes changed for a litlle wbile even at the most polite grocer's in tbe whole country. I doubt M*dame Perambuel would not pass that sentence, but aince 1 have "grown tip" I find far kinder critic* of my Engliah than ahe waa

.Well, I reached Bpencer-street late »t asual, and bad jott lima to shake band with Bill and implore him to look aft. r my portmanteau—'here was a dock of a gown in it that came right down to nij toes—when the train wbeiled, and I bad to ran in tbe most undignified manner into tbe Brat carriage handy, and into the arinß of tbe Dice elderly gemlom»n, wboae repl) to my apologies I have already written. 0, dear me, what moat be have thought ot me? v

I Tbe train towelled alowly at fint, and I had time by throe'ing my head oat of the window <o ccc brother Bill waving his handkerchief, and telling me in tiolent puDtomime, that tha big portmanteau wan snfo in the guard* ran. What guys men can make of themselves, to be sore I but then I liink with all tbe worrying I give him, Bill bus a good ntock of love for bin little sister. I notice quits a number of men are now-a.day» devoted to tueir sister*. Poor fellows, I suppose a wife ?> a luxury 100 big'for the dimensions of their parse.

Tbe old gentleman was sitting in the aeatopposite mine, and there was not a passenger in tbe compartment hot oar* si'lves. That is quite a comfortable thing when you have a long journey to go I mt^an that tbe CBtnpjr"imnnt ought not Io be crowded on a bot, matty day. P ople

can be »o diangrea* able.and when there ia a baby and » frac tions child, it ia ?imply unendurable Of course, I bad bad do time to Uy in aatcck of liter* tore, and I began to repent of my pet bid, nnponctoality, in Ibia inst»nc« at nry rate. What a aweet thing it ia to read while >oa are . in a train of some great long • leggrd boio.witb a o>»To!e brow and fit-tee bltck tßOOftschr, making frantic e( lorunowinthe'OTe uf a alim - waiated heroine, alwa a reaJj to Ml into a faiut or a flood of teareai ib*-xborteat notice 1 Wo don't uiebt e'uLer the Le:oes or .beroims on ibe " Illock," bnt they might »xi<st in ?uuiß audiieovered islund, or niigbt have txtiied on tba' big comineot wbi b they cay haa brenaonk under the wavnof tbo Atlan tic Bat I bal oothiog to nad,not even a F«ujily Herald or London journal six month* old My joong oU friend handed me the "Argue," lot • that is a btopid lad-'o paper, uniitß on Saturday and it soon dror-ped out of uy bandi, and I aat lietlntaly g«z:ng irom <be window at the long stretches of I->vel plains tbit we have to crorg before n aching the more pietnresqoe scenery of Maosdon Notwiibstanding my new "grown up" importance, 1 w*s actoally gettiog - bored. : ; : "Tos paper doe« not seem to imettf t yon mucb," said tba* gentleman.- . "No." B»id I, "there is nothing in it bat m»9ty, old politics, and I bate , politics. It- is all Bghtior, and go . doing."

My companion '—— ; lioghed. "Djyou know,"ha said,"that without intending •t, yoa have, been.getting' on mjr coma •gain ? lam a bit of a politician myself, but I can hardly say I am much good at tlie fighting." "So I should say," I said, looking at him, " yoa sre too nice for that." .". Well, my dear, tbat is t compliment that I abtnld b»Te given roach to get thirty yesra ago, bat I sappoie I would not have got it so freely then." "Perhaps not, and perhaps too I abnoU not give it to freely if I bad firs more of those yean myeelf." " Tbat it a very shrewd observation, my dear. It is a pity too that the yeara wakes a* less candid with each other." Toe silence was broken between a*, and we chatted away in fine style until we reached Sanbury. There was little tbat I could tell tbat he did not bear something about, and we found oat that there was many people in town whom we both knew. Indeed, when I mentioned papa's name he •aid tbat he bad bad bae'meai if lira with him frequently, and was glad to make the acquaintance of bit daughter. from Sanbury to Kyneton the railway rona through a mott iotsreetinjr stretch of country. Viewed from the dinant t»s, big Macedon forma a dim bat splendid background to Melbourne, against which the churches and domes of tba great city ataod out like ftetcoes, when the tmoka and milt are bhwn over the bay by • oortb-weeterly wind. The big mountain teems to have bten soaMenl> aliced away, and by the gap the engineeia have ran the Uastietsslne and -Bendigo line. Tbe pawnger it awed by the near pretence of tbe bags mat*, except when be ia delighted by baity glancaa of at Ivan nooks and gladea and ravinet where I am tnre the Australian fairies mast bold tbeir nvela. When we approached Kyntton Station, the gentleman—bt bad not told me his name—ofened the window, saying that ho rxprcted to tee bit ton on tbe platform. We bad become qnito sociable by thin time, and I was rather aorry tbat oar tiU atite wu likely to be iatcrrapUd. "Mist Walton," said my new friend, •' will yoa allow me to introduce myaelt to/ob? Vy DatM it Alia* Wt shall

bava a quarter or an lionr here for re freshmeotii, and perhaps you will permit me to see that yon are not starved. H»ra we are at the atation, and here is Tad waiting for me." . A gentleman came op to tba carriage window, and wa; greeted most affection, •tely by Mr Allan. "Ted," slid the latter, " M^ss Walton allows mn to introduce to her my big son. Miss Walton has made the run from town a really pleasant experience, and it is any thing but that without congenial coin pan?" "Tad " tamed on me the lustre of the , two most wood rfol eyes I ever saw or I think ever will see. This is not tbe rhapsodising of a yoaog girl just out of tbe school-room. There aro moments of existence when the whole wanlih of maturity is realised as if by a flub, and one of those moments to me was when Ted Allan's eyes and mine met in one firV Inng look. I have always wondered bigcm | that moment if bi« sensations were in ai / way comparable with mine.

I am not fo stupid as to dilate on bis personal-appearance. He was as I »a**' him, a handsome* man, bat a strong band- j Home mat) with everything abotu - him ?•trong to fit in with his strong personality. t cannot account for tbe faot that from tbe very first moment I mentally recog nised the man's superiority, and tnstinc tivuly submitted to it, bat not without s straggle. . f had had too mncb my own way to surrender at discretion before evnn a shot wax fired.

Well, yon can fancy us returned to our o irriage after the halt at Kyneton, wbern «c bad a basty snack. Many pxople might think I had acted without eofihient n>s«rv», «nd all I can do is to cry oui "fieccavi," and thr-w mysalf at tbeir fe-it (matapnorieal y) and a«k for absolution Tnese are people, however, with whom you assimi'ate at one, with whom evt ry chord of your being is at once in harmony. The string of the piano remains mute antil i;t oon peculiar sound: is prodaced, and then-it echoes at occe.' Perhaps alter all we tra only mnsicil instraments ourselves a'.'uaed to the maaio of the. spherea. ,7 : ?-i ? ••-.?? >??.;_ ?'

"Well, Ted, have yon Bacoasded?" asked Mr Allan,- wh-n we bad ssttled down for tbe run to Oastlomaine, ' ; " No. father, I have not, I am sorry to say.. The poraon I went to see waa of the earth, etrthy." ? .',..?, - ? "Then shall we have to give up the scheme?" ? ? . ?;.'? ;-, "By no means. We want power, and powor is only to be bad in this wot Id by one thing. It is not for our own gratifi cation, if it was I thoold bestUti aboat tbe step. Bat there is nothing selfidh in either yoar mind or mine. We have tried to do good, and no one knowa better^ than we do bow much need there is for good. When one thinks of the" d*ns of the city reeking with t<n, and tbe sin made habitual by want, there is no room for selfishness, and selfishness wi'l have no part or parcel in anything we do." 1 suppose my look of astonishment at tbeas words made Mr Allan all at once remember tbat to me they must teem pissing slr«Dga. With a smile be ex plained— " My dear Mist Walton, I mast tell joa that my son and 1 are two of tho«e people •ho believe tbat while man should be man's chief study, we should not confioe oarselvef to atady. There are ao many problems in life -that wa might atand atide and only wonder and despair, hat while we are bare we bave time for neither wonder nor deapair. Ted and (—he looked fondly at bis son as be spoke—have bejn trying to work, bat we find oar very best -ffi>rts stopped by what we have to regard as the Qol of tba world. Whatever favours we bad at hia banda we have passed on to others, and oar work is in danger because our means are most limited." " Tell her all," said Ted, looking at me with a atraoge glow in bis darkf athomleaa ayes. "Tall her all j the it one of the elect." The old mtn continued witb a kindly smile lighting op hit benevolent face— " We bave undertaken a great work, a contributory work in the Inal regeneration of mankind. Tha atmosphere of tha slums, wa ibink, it not congenial or uatval, and so our sohttst it to carry tba ufortotttt awa/ (twb tkt braiding >

places of contamination and give them o chance of cleanliness of bo ly and soul. That is all we aim a', but money is wanted, ani unless we can continue to get i- oar work mast go." " We belong to tbe colt of tbeoiophy, and theosophista reg«M every phase of human thongbt or life aa eminent 1? worthy of homan elimination. They do not assart facts nor repudiate anything f» illusory because it does not chime in with things (bat we regard as facts. They »imply recognise the illimitable, as well aa the illimitable responsibilitieii of life. "It ia rather unfair to bother yonr young bead and heart with those specu lations, bat you mast blame Ted, and not me. Theosopby recognises immediate influences beyond oorselves and soperior intelligences operating on human life, some: for good and some for eviL We each of us, as the old poet says, suffer bis own mines. ' There aro certain individuals who by tsmperameot or by natural or ginization are more susceptible to these foreign influences than oth-ra. These iodividails ponies i a power of prescience not granted to others, and it timea they' can oohvey the will in* perhaps winhea of higher intelligences to ns who are cloggdd by tne tubatating shackles of the earth."

" Same of these higher intelligence! bava taken an interest in oar work, and it lias been intimated to us that at a certain place near Maryborough tberelies only a fey feet from tba surface <i qaanz re if of extraordinary richness." Tnij,.if we cm tind it, will solve all oar -? ifficalty at once, opt we require a ?' sensitive" of the very highest class to help as. ? We are conscious of tbe integrity of oar own purposes, and that makes as bold, bat oC others we can not ba nura. Qoll crabe a curse sb w«ll as a "blessing. There are those who are dominated by malign infl ieDC39—" ? , ? : ''That," said Teii, Mia what ia checking as. j I was told that I "hould find one at Kyneton who would fulfill all the requisite conditions, and came to Kyneton to see a person of whom I had heard. She was everywbera. surronndeii by . the anra of earth, of gross Belfishness. . Whatever gifts she possessed were desecrated to the

purposes -of sontatl, earthly desires. Save yoa ever seen anything like this? " ••?'-. He took from a case a little box strongly clamped > with brass,' Tbe box he pro ceeded to open with a key which hung from hid watch chain, and within it there lay a ball of pate, bright'crystal.' 'The father took the ball from its best with the greatest ore. . -?. : ,-?-?? i-—••? "Juet look at this, for a moment," he said, coining over to the seat bastJel me. -" Take it into your own bands and place that little drop 'of purest ray serene', in ttiis direction." . There was what seemed a drop—tear shaped—in tbe solid ball, and this he ad. justed towards the north. I took the ball in my hand with considerable trepidation, "Tbat which yoa have in yoar hand is Caglioatro's Crystal. To those who know what it is, it is invaluable, but we got il for only five hnnd o 1 guineas. In some hands it is osrleea ; in others it is instinct with a life of its own." At first there seemed nothing very remarkable—only a ball almost lik« glass, Transparent, bat with a misty opacity in ite depth which seemed, howxver, to spread and shift and change I>ka the morning h«za over the tea when the DHwly-risen son begins to scatter rbe f .da vaponrs. Then—good gracious—the filmy cloada oonlensa and gather into consistency, forming fldtiog images wbicb come tnil vaninh in a twinkling, bat always mare and more dialinct, alwaya taking form againat the pnre cold hack-ground ot r,he translucent crystal field. S» absorbed waa I in watching the flitting ahadea that I bad not co'iced we were approaching tbe long tunnel at Elphinetono, and suddenly, with a mar and shriek, tbs train waa buried in the black cavern. Tb* light of tbe son wee oat off as if by a knife, and we were in a darkneas tLat ooald almost ba> felt. Then my eyes unconsciously turned to whwe the Crystal had been left in my bands. A pale ambient light floated aronnd it, spread snd wavered' nntil it crept into Ihe interstice* of tbe carriage, advancing and retreating likt a lavender balo of Sam*. M Look I" I btvd Uw yosig bm *»y. {

" Look I it is not given to many to ace as you ace." I did look. I saw a form of divine beant; grow oat of tbe radiance. Tbe thousand prismatic colours and shades now permeated tbe grey misl which had been all I saw before, and each lent its obarm to piiot with mystic distinctness the face limned by, yet glorified by tbeir ruinbow splendonr. It was a god-like faoe, fall of divine majesty and coin passion. ? Then' with a rush of the wind we were again in the open air, with the bright prosaic sun flooding the landscape with hiß garish brilliance. I looked at my companions, they were smiling at my wonder and amazement. . '•Yes, child, you are gifted," said Mr Allao. •-•-?. ?•: . Ted said nothing, bat I.caulJ feel the intensity'of his look thrill to my son). Surely I was not then tbe j>oung, perhaps fickle, and careless miiden who n couple of "boon bnfore entered th»l carriage with a narrow circle of facts; dull facts, as her only mental horizon.. No j>J had grpwn the jgrqwih' of years witbiu VKe limits of minute*.: ?;r~v "' ? ;"'.i *.'". !~"'~'>.:?''*'{ The yonng man lent forward and placed his hand over mine, which still held tbe ball | "Pray, look again," be said/. "You have aeen what proves yon to ba.nne of tbe gifted. The gift- is for use, not abuau." : .? ": ;?'?•• ?'?? •' .-?

I boked. The.' opabity I had noticed bofora was now more distinct and centralized with blackness, bat tbe edges uecoming attenuated, shaded off into the crystal transparency. - '. . I saw myself—my own self—walkinp in a fiald with a qaeer stick or wand in my hand. Mr Allan smiled significantly when 1 told h'm this. Then the figure' changed and I siw a man lying on tbe tfrouud wita his croiping head supported oa my knee. .'Again tba figuree faded and I could ccc a bright landscape of waving corn, a village nestled amongst orchards and vineyards with weahb-pro ducing mulberry trees lining tbe long stretcDes of tba vista. . Tneu—well then, [ blushed and put down tbe mysterious crystal— for I saw

myself • proad and huppy mother with children playing on a trim lawn, ana aman. standing by my side—the same . mm that gat before me in whose bean* tifdl eyes I could catch a gleam of the birth of love which odcb cherish ed by that 'strong nature most live for ever." At Castlemaine we changed for Msrj borough, and ODly when we were in a crowded and uncomfortable car riuge -tha Victorian Railway Couimig aionera mast think that only city folk care about comfort —Mr Allan asked me to whose place I was going when I reached Mary. borongb. He waa macu iarprised when Itoldbim that my vi»'u was to Mr Maitland'a. 'Why we shall be going 10 Mr ilait lan<l'« to-morrow," he taid. "Indeed it was entirely ior the purpose of seeing him we came up. Yoo might tell biui we shall be witbhim to-morrow morning aCter bruakfast. Of course . be knows W6 shall ba there, bot }ou might mention the matter to dim." There was no op* pbrtunity for con versation rfnring the dull journey. 1 think 1 mast have fallen atltep at timer, bat 1 was - always watched with wonderful care ? by' bstb the gen tlemen, who al. though they con. vtraed in . nndtr. tones moatearnebtly never relaxed in their constant and faithful guardian ship. At length (we reached Marybo rough and on the station platform ; was my dear friend and ally, Jessie. She receivel! me with all the epon. - tantooß gladness of

yontb. My luggage was escorted to the pony-carriage by Mr Allan and his eon, whom I introduced to Jostle. .. . . :. "You and I," said the younger gentle man as he shook my hand, " Yoa and I have known each other in other ages, tbiaisonly a renewal." '. .????.; I did not understand him at all—only —only—when we drove away, tbe port manteao in which waa the drees that oame down to my toes, was not nearly so important in Maryborough as it bad been a few boars before in Melbourne. : CHAPTER 11. Although I am very much tempted to do so I most refrain from enlarging on tbe hearty welcome I received at Jeanie'a from all the family. Mr Maitland wsb a tboroogb specimen of what ia tbe colonial Meal of Father John Ball—bluff, kind, hospitable, snd trustworthy. Mr* Mart land waa a lady trom tbe crown of her silvered head U her foot, well shod and ?mall. There waa a little army of brothers and sisters, and for a wonder they conld get along without much tramping on each other's toes. The house was a big odb, ai.d the family folly occupied it. Mr UaiiUod ih a large land owner, and ot roDree be wta deeply interested in every mining adventnre about Maryborough. Ha spoke of the Allana at breakfas' several times, and teemed to tbink them a pair of Quixotes with more money than common sense They had started, he •aid, a philanthropic scheme op in the Wimmert, bat he evidently thought little of tbe prospecil of success. Yet they were received when they dtove ap aft-r breakfast with tha utmost cordiality. The gentlemen retired to the stady immediately after the introduction of the etrangtN, but during tbe abort time tbej were with as 1 fslt that tbe eyea of tbe younger Mr AlUn were slwajs following me wharevtr I went abo at tbe room, it gave me quite a strange sen saiion—very pleasant, undoubtedly—bat utterly bewildering to a young girl »ho h>d alwaya been on a perfectly nnem harassed footing with all tbe wen she bad hitherto met, and bad never dreamed of what it talltd lovt. It wtt • re lation.

After about an hour I was asked to the sludy, and Mr Maitland laid the case before me. The gentlemen were thorough believers in rbahdoinancy, or the power of discovering certain metals by the wand. I bad never beard of the thing before, and I suppose expressed my wonder in my face, Mr Allan explained. "Tbtre are certain persons—and yon are one—who possess this power. We shall only ask you to take a walk with as and jour friends and hold a little stick in your band in a certain way. Yon know," he said in a lower tone," what depends on it. We have purchased a large tract of land, and we know tbtre is > rich reel below tbe surface. We want you to bring as as close as*possible to it to prevent un necessary expense. That is all" " I have never heard of minerals being discovered by ibis maanß," eaid Mr Mait land, "butl know that it has been tried with the greatest success for water, if the, young lady likes to make the experi ment,'isball-take a great deal of interest in 'it.; ,-;;? ''-:us- ? -. ?.

,_ What elsi,could I do than cay it would give me tho greatert pleasure to be of nae, though* I doubted if I could do much good. « t " - : - Ted-1 always thought of him as Ted —bent over arid Baid—

' "Sorely yon cinnst have forgotten wbatoccarred only yesttrday." I had not forgotten what bad occurred, and.Tod read his reply in tbo quick flick* ring glance I throw into bis smiling and earnest eyes. Christinas Day was fixed for our ex periment, and 1 confess the ordeal through I which I had voluntarily promised to go prevented me joining in the Obristmaß Eve jollity with the vivacity of my age or spirits. Jessie rallied me on my unwonted quietness, and said it wts all through the magnetic influence of yotmg Mr Allan, if conrse it was, bnt I was not going to confess it to her or anyone elee. Christmas Day oime, and the whole paity of us starlet out on our adventures, eoine on horseback and a big load in Jessie's pony carriage. What 1 bad to endure in tbe way of "cbtffing." I whb the wiich of Endor at the very least, and Jessie would have it that I wanted nothing bat a broomstick and my place in the carriage might ba taken by Mr Allan. 1 was demnrely silent under it all. An im promptu picnic had been Saggested, and the good things provided. About'half an hour's driving brought us to the scene of operation. I wat. impressed by tbe experience of the day before, bnt I mutt say the company generally looked on the whole thing as more of a "lark" than anything <Ue, and the young Maitlands, »U home from school, did cot hesitate to express in plain terms tbeir. heretical ideas). But Mr Allan and bis son seemed to have no doubt on tbe inattir, and trealtd the scepticism of the otbeis with quiet disregard. _ It was a pretty spot where we halted. Tho woodmen had long forsaken the gUde between two swelling bills, but tad left behind them the gr<>at stumps of the tiees ibey had felled, and round tbe trunks bad eprunk op small thicket* of shoots crowned with the soft, green lolisge that contrasted with tbe silvery pliam branch, v. The soil was encrusted with tiny quariz pebbles, birely having room-lor tbo stunted bnsh grass and vagrant orchid.

"ilowr, my dear," said old Mr Allan, VBll you have to do is to take this rod by these two prongs anJ hold it oot bafors 70a.",----..- .-- v . - ..-_.:..? .*.;.,..-?? The led wu V shaped, with what may be died a long stem. I really did feel ridiculous, but I bad promised, and was determined to go through with it. It was a trying time. At firet they all came after at, and we had the full benefit of their opinions, and these not very com alimentary, hot gradaullf even Mr Mait laud got tired of the nxperiisent, and they all went off to Sao about the content* ot the baskets, except, of-course, Mr AlUn and bis s jn.

_ Up tbe bills and down their sloping Bides and across tbe gullies, where hera and tbero we saw tbe liitla holes of the proepeoiors of the old digging days, with tbe tiny be.ps of "mullock" at lht> side. Notwithstanding all my determination 1 was getiing tired and discouraged myself, when suddenly— A tremor «bot through thi rol and quivered through my arms. The point of tbe stick twisted and curved n,d wrinkled, and actually bent itself id tbe air nntil it formed. almost a eemi.circ'e, and nearly forced itsslf oat of my hand. I was frightened—so much so, that if I bad possessed sufficient prea^nca of mind, I should hive dropped the wand to the earth. It reminded me of Aaron's rod, which tamed into a serpent. " I knew it," Mr Allan almost sbonted. "Go ior Mr Maitland, Ted, and bring tbe pick and shovel. Ten minutes' work will reveal ever) tbing." . Ted went away at tbe double, leaving his father and m", tbe one exultani, lbs other aoiaxed. Ha returned in * very short time with Mr Miitland and aUlhatte*. Inanimate be bad off his coat, and seizing the great pick with bis brown, sinewy hands struck it into Ibe oattb. We all stood round in a circle wbnderiog wbat we should see next. - The eteel point dag deep in the etabborn soil at every stroke, and rooted up tbe great boulders of quarts from their ancient beds. Toun tbe strong man bent to the shovel, and swept away the loosened earth lroni ibe excavation. Suddenly ha intlt down and seemed to examine tbe spot wbere bis last stroke bad fallen. .-'Taeraia a reef bore," he said, "and right beneath where I am standing. 1 can't jodge of its thickness, bat this," continued he, "will show'what it's value may be." ? We gathered ronnd him, and he held op a little wrnered mass of whita crumbly quariz, evidently bioken away, and til slung the bloeiah seams were tiny speck* of chining yellow metal, which centered in a mass of leaf-like gold, that filled » little civern in tbe body of a fated reck. It was gold—gold indeed, an J expectation w»i justified.

1 need not repeat ill that ru laid io the way of wonder by Mr Maitland and hia cbildrec Jecsie tv more tLan astonished. Like myself, Bbc via half frightened, and thought it was a bit uncanny. An for myself I was actually bowildereJ, tod coald not help woodering at ibe change which the experience of t»o days had made in the character of a young, inexperienced and fickle girl. One can easily guecs what war the topic diacaased at our alfresco luncheon. When we wero leaving, Ted cime to me and said— "There ia no one here, perhaps, who will retain a more vivid remembrance of ton Christmas Day than yon will, bat you moit have a momento. Thia piece cl quartz ia yours. Keep it. i may become hi owner of it again, bat no one baa ? better right than you to the firat fruitaot the " ÜbrißiUiiß Reef. 1' I bad dreama, rather pleasant dreams, that Christmas night in the dear little room, with the room testoooed with noneysuckle and blu«h roae. The days uitlied into weeks, and the weeka inlo momba, and atill I lingeted at" lara." Tnt ?cbool-girl frieodabip between Juaaie at d 1 broadened out inlo the coiDtnuniou whub lasts a lifetime. I w»s at borne at " lar«," and loved it. Forh»{n 1 Ltd become tccuteowd to ;

look forward to tbe presence of one, to make up for tho gaiety of tb« town and ootnpentate for the dullness of a country house.

Ted Allan was a constant visitor at •• lar*." With all tbe energy of Lie slroDg nature he threw himself into tbe work of developing the "Christruas Kief," which promised to become one of tbe wonders of the country. Ilis-f athcr's trooble abont tbe future of his great scheme was at an end, and he soon left for town to Carry out his philanthropic ideas—whioh com. pletely absorbed bin?. Ted catnn con* sttntly to see pb all at" lara," but altboogb be and I were frequently thrown together and although I instinctively knew that I was' more to him than anyone else, yet he never allowed the preference to be betrayed Ito me or any one of tbe Maitlands. I think he thought m« too joung for such things, and I am sore I bad no idea of the extent to which be monopolised my thoughts and my existence. One evening be mentioned incidentally that be was going to explore the next day an old shaft about half a mile from ths place where wo had discovered the reef. "It looks," fee said," aa if it was on the same line^and I should like to se» how the country makes, Joa Perrian md I will have a look. It is just on our borders and it will be interesting to see how tbe people who sunk it failed to get tbe gold."

Jeßsie and I know where tbe shaft was, and half-playfnlly she proposed that we should walk over and see Mr Allan and his mate at work. He seemed delighted at the proposal, atd we promised, nvleßß something else turned up, to meet him on tbe condition that he came back to " lara" with us. We knew Joe well—a big, blue eyed Corniahman, with tbe strength of a giant, and the Bunny kindliness of a cbild. Next day we did walk over in that direction. Tbe shaft was at the foot of a little bill with a great mound of yellow earth raised , beside it, and near it an old waterbole made years ago for mining purposes, and now partially eilted up with big tree trnnks stranded in tbe thick, muddy waters, and throwing their gnarled shadows over its dim surface. When we came to the top of the little hill, w» were surprised to see a man running rapidly round the great heap in tbe direction of "Christmas Reef." He saw os and began gesticulating furiously aod shouting for ns to come quick. "There is something the matter," said Jessie, " that is Joe Perriao."

My heart leaped to my throat, bat I gulped down my emotion, and ce'zing Jessie's arm, I ran with her towards tbe shaft. Perrian was at the mouth of tbe shnft when we reached it.

" Mr Allan has fallen down," he shontsd, " are jou girls strong enough to lower ma ? The air I thought whs bad, bat be wouM go down. It must be bad yet, but tbere is a chance it is disturbed, acd I »h»H take it. Something has to be risked. I should go down band over l»nd, bat have no knnwledgo of the depth." - The moments were precious. If (herd 1 wait a chance it must be taken, «n<l at ? once. I felt every muscle in my body become strained and tightened, every energy and force wound op in tension. . •' Go down, Joe," I said, "and we shall sac." There was a windlass bringing the black square bole. Wben we knew it, it was covered o*»r with a number of plonks, and we nsed to a take girlish deligbt in looting between the interstices and cal. calating the' depth to which the gulf ex. tsnitd. Tha rope hung loose over Ihe cylinder. ' Perrian canght the ropa and placed big foot ie the loop. We then lowered him away into the darkness. I could not oven_ at that moment of intense and agonising uncertainty help thinking what » brave in in this was. Without comment and without demur of any kind, he etui; ly offered himself to death in th - way of doty. Thsro was no mock heroism there. The scanty light of the candle ha held in bis hand was soon swallowed op in the overwhelming bltcknesn, and then we beard a Ehout—a snout of something Tike gladness—not tha about of horror or dtspair. '•Djn't lower much further. Etsy, easy, that will do." We stood there wondering and wondering what was happening so close beside no, yet so far removed from ns. In actual di tance it was only a few steps, bnt what a cbange that distance made 1 We bad noticed that Joa bad a long, small cord wound ronnd his body when be went down. We heard nothing from him, bnt ws caw the windlass rope tighten, and in a few minutes—perhaps they were only seconds, but time was an awful laggard just then—Perrian'a face appeared at the carface. "•' He is still alive," he said. " When be fell he caught between a phnk and the wall of the abaft. The plank had been left near an old drive. He was far below it when he told me to ' wind np.' Tbs air is not very bad. Something most be done, and at once. He U fastened to the rope, but someone must be below to guide, and yon two girls could never raise tha weight yonrsohes." "I'll go below," I eaid, grasping the aitoat'on at once. "You will,"said Perrian. "Well you are a brave girl, indeed." I don't know about being brave. I could have thrown myself down on the yellow, ugly soil, and wept' in an ecstasy of hysterical frenzr, bat I knew lbat that would be real mainess. "I'll go,"I said, "if jon will tell me what lam to do. I have often enough climbed a rope and slid down a rope in tbe gymnasium." •'That was in fun, but '.bis is in grim earnest, liemember yonr life and his depend.on }oar oourag*. Give uio your hand." r , I held out my Inn! and |.>aoel it in his. It was small aud brown, bat 1 know not a tremor belriyed the awful struggle that was going nn in my soul.

"li will do. You will hive to bll.io <!own the ropu cot more tlun twenty-fire feet. Yon must stand on the plank and take the cord which I hive tied tb jut Mr Allan* body. Wben you are roady Me shall hial up. Snout to us. Wbatyoo have to do ii to guile. Do not allow tha body to swing ag«inst the side. That is all." Then with a gleam of light in big kind face. "He will owe ranch to the courage of a brave woman." [ said nothing. I d«red not speak. "Heavenl what a Eemation it was when I twang myself over that yawning abyw of horror I I gripped tbe rope with ?be tenacity of steel. My fingnra clntcbed it ai if tfaey would bnry themselves in iti loogh fibres. Then 1 went down. The cold walla, ugly and blotched, sprang op paat me and sbnt oat the light of day until 1 travelled through a twilight into almost palpable darkness. It seemed an go, bnt was in reality only afewseooiida when my foot touched the plank and I knew that tbe first part of my work wai completed. There, huddled up, was the form of the mun so dear to me. H!s bead was resting against tbe wall of the abaft, and his body was doubled up between it and tbo plaoki Ueatenil if that plank were io fall. Down, down, far down I could hear Ibu sullen echoes of water wben tha etonts which I caald not help disturbing whirled through the awful void. But I most not indulge in fanoiea or fean.

AUSTRALIAN SCENES. - BULL I PASS.

I saw at one* that the big rope wan securely fastened. Joe was not an an to do things in half. The cord w«B partly coiled on the plank, and the' end trailed dowo far below. Now I could see. My own body had shot out the light.bat now a nquire patch of sky was cut out above me and I coald see Joe looking down. "In God's name haul up,"l ehouW. The face wai withdrawn. The rope tightened and I felt the plank shake and quiver and rock as gradually the tension increased, and slowly tbs body rote and set out on ill awfol jiurney. I think I did my fluty, although even now those awful seconds seem buried in a cloud like tbe gbopts of n frightful dream. Up the awfnl burden went, snd again daikners was all ."round, bat I kept steady, and at last I could see the losd taken from the rope and drawn in by tbe Cornishmsn'e strong arms.

Then a great loneliness descended on me. There was a dreadful consciousness of being foreaken, and for the first time I myself became the subject of my own thought?, and the terriblo possibilities of my own position almost shattered what little there remained of my coorsge. ' . ''Are yon strong enough to tie yonrarlf to the rope," Perrian shouted down. "If you place your foot in the loop, yon will be op here in no time, bnt the excitement may have been too great, and I am afraid to trust yon. Will yon tie yourself to the rope?" .-''-??.'.'" .'•..•' "I will, I will,"I cried..; "Bend dawn the rope." The rope descended, and I wrapped the oord round it and my body again and again, and .tied it as fast ss ray bands, could, oow trembling with exciteiueat, dp, bruised and lorn by the chafing and the nnwonted work.

A few minutea, and I was in the free open air of Heaven again, and the bretz kiased my cheek. What a difl^renc between that glorious freabnem and tb* stagnant and sluggish atmosphere below I "I shall run for assistance," Perrian isid. ''Mis* Mtitland has gone alreadj towards the reef." ? ,' ?

Now that tbe excitement was over 1 felt the reaction. I felt the hysterical ?troegle snd tottered to the spot where Mr Allan lay Btretohed out as if he were desd. Sitting down I lifted his head on my lap. An awfol gash had.torn tbe gcslp, and there was a dreadful snpplcnepe in the arm bent beneath him. He groaned when I touched him, but he was evidentlj reviving. His eyes opened, and there passed over his poor, braised and wounded face the smile of welcome recognition. I bent down my head snl csnght the words as they struggled through hia feeble lips— "My wife for tbe ages—l knew it." Yes, and at that solemn moment I knew it too. Tbe cleuds of fate were tent, and I could cslcb a glimpse of the soul life oi the pact. It was no longer a girl they found there ending over the senseless body—it war a woman with a woman* soul vivified into a new life and a larger existence. o o o c o o IBm contented. The magio crystal wss right in two instances. I ran trust for tbt others. At any rate, I feel transfigured, and feed my boul on the ether of hope

A fallen meteor has a very downcast ap je ranee. " What wonld yon do if your husband should join a clnb F" "I wonld buy one. 1' He—"Will yon be my wifeP" She— "Ton must ask mamma, first." He—"But suppose she doesn't refuse me ?" "Has she given you any encourage ment P" " Oh, yea! She cays she will get all of her father's mosey when he dies " Cbss (annoyed)—" Don't yon know that a fool can ask questions F" Bass—" I had heard so; now I know it" "Don't you think that a woman thinks the most of a truthful man!" "It de pends a good deal on how homely she is."