Chapter 186929822

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Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article186929822
Full Date1880-11-27
Page Number19
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Word Count3490
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Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Week (Brisbane, Qld. : 1876 - 1934)
Trove TitleMy Colonial Experience
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Jlri ; ) •/?>--i j' .

TALES & SKETbl-lES

MY COLO'NIA.L'EXPEBIENCE.

Written especially for -The Week,

{Continued from lost week.)'

Tub noxfc morning I was obliged to bo out early, and did not- return till dinner-time, in deed I was a liUlo late, BO that I was surprised to find myself in sole possession of? the house. They bad gone out riding, the servant told roe, but hud said nothing; about being dotained. Afl tinao went on I got fidgetty and rose at Inst to see if I could get any information ds to their movements-at:the etation, for no one up here teemed to havo taken any, notice of the direc tion they bad ridden 'iii; but' as I was going round for my horse 1 heard the sounds of« ap proaching hoofs; and saw Mrs, Dcummond cantering up. She-was' alono', and answered my look if inquiry, as I opened: the gate for her, by Baying,— < . ^ - v ;. 3=

4 Miss Blount fqund; a; ;letter at Grettan to say her motherj-is^aeripusly '.ilX"'For tunately, Mr. Oreek.was starting for town this afternoon, so she.'went pjDF.with,him in iV little more than an'hour after, she got .the news/

' That was luokyi But did they lot you ride back by yourself f* • j ,,, . ?

4 There was no one there.r .Even -Mrs.' Creek was away; besides Folly is as*quiet1 as a sheep and even J.could n ot miss my- way .* '

1 At "any rat 0, you.,have not; that iB a "com ?forfc/ *?

I think Miss'-'Blount i would have been flattered bad, she known bow much we missed her. .Dinner,' instead .'of being the cheerful rnealit had been,.was us dull na a funeral feast. I did not seem to have'au idea at command and thq^feWf sentenceaT gofcout sounded 8tni; pidity itself., • Kvon my hands shared in the embarrassment, for! my carving, never good, was to-nightr a-.miracle 'of clumsiness. 1 had a ;'^.ild . duck to perform upon. Now, this wretched little bird was a proof of how often»our most coveted desires are only a mockery, ; when gained. Mrs." Dfum:, mond4 .haying "expressed a wish' to taste' this particular land, I had spent some hours iu thooarlymorning wading through a very muddy awamp in pursuit of it; pud had counted my self a fdrtunat'o man* when it fell a Victim to my:by no;meahfl,:nnerritig airnj yet I ended by pourihg' apything but blessings on its head; f6r,,ftryiug'*'in'ihy norvouaheas1 to'carve with easjfVapidityV iny'fork alipped, and away went tbe docki witha' jump as if it bad been alive,: rfghVWt of .the dish and, sending a shower of gravy-* in 'all .directions.' left me with'my ; fork ujp in the air and looking the biggest fool

imaginable. *'• As to the attendant Hebe she firljt'gavo a5>little'squoal as a^great flplash of gnivy struck'he'r full 'in'' the •"faceV'aud.then* wen't ^^'int'o'a^splutter1 of laughter that she conld-only conceal by running out of the room. Olio*'good thing, my little accident had the effect of Mttirig'us more'at pur'ease^fpr tho reat of the^dinher/'and'the^evening promised to pass away'with somewhat .Teas' of stiffhesir than it bad^bo^pnr -XdouXknow why I should have fejt'flo.stiipid^forT'hftd often toftll intents and

theHintcl

°;T Was sure how, indeed T was' sura 'since I gaye.h'er the screen, that she had forgiven me my-'folly," if indeed she had ever porcaived it, so i^was 'nbt 'that that troubled . me. One thing bothered me though, whether I ought to stop:ori'up at the bouse. It' did not seem to me quite right that Xahoiild remain, yet how could Jisay' any thingmoreover I did not consider that she should be loft without more protection than th'e seryants; Naturally this state of un certainty made me uucomfort ble; and I can't

help thinking that she was debating the same : question,'"for she was' unmistakeably, embar rassed.'^/Bhbmailfe hardly any effort to Becond

' my attempt}? at conversation ; got op several .

time8:and,'G4t"down again without'doing( any- I tfiin^ save morn aimlessly guzo'about^the room ; j #Vitto'tKo piano;but aftertryihg to sing or play; j and: failing decidedly in both', shut down the i instrument with 'an impatient gesture; then

up^fihmo"'' work " and * bending ' over .. it''senmbd 'determined 'to ^become abnovded in

it?H (-got ':''ii'vb6olf,.'.hut'1 if ' shej 'didn't dov| inoro'*worlc''-limn I did'reading, her . pihiVd ',5of 'embroidery' w»is' not • much 1 tho

bettor fbr/hor; devotion; "X wonder how long

thbre? both [silent and; seemingly' ho occupied.^ T for my 'p;irt; -thongh T certainly fot^ny* oyi'M'miich'iibibaily whndor ovcr tho page nt tbo,bppk;bbf»iriV hardly ""savV tl\0: words, Certainly dM"hotfak»i in thmr meaning t.wbile'T 1 iKvcA.Qvery' f na Iof lu-rtlrftSH/thd very sound ftf/hervneihlln:HS Vpkssed through the stuff she was ombVHidennj*. 'I could[notbut think.what affprctfy ^hcthW sho1 would* havo mado us she nit tberbr^Thie light:'f»il!ii»g- on: her; bending Head >vilK its ?'shining Irc&W,' on the milk-white throat,1 on' tKbsoft curves of her slender forui; a'doIour-fAr 'more'b'righXthariJ tho*{ faint pink that' 'genornlly""tihgnd* nor' olieeks, gave her compWxibn'hn 'uniVsuarbnUiiihcy and mado one nblico'm'ord tbfth' evef 'the exquisite purity and fifinibas'6f hef flkin."6thing cpuld-bb ra.orP easily graceful than her - pose; • drooping slightly ovKr'hor^worlrror:prettier than the quick, doftfrnoyementaof-hpn^mall.hands and their roundod pliluit wrists! I don't know as I lookodi thattf. did.wush: Miss Blountback again. Oaxing-at MrsirDrummond seemed, a quito shllicient andtploaaantdcou'piitiba. ^OfcoursoI only vontured a glance now and then, but these Stolen * pHmpsos -filled-Sup- tho . time i iu • a •thoroughly satisfactory manner. i • ^4

Theapproach'of a servant (Mary had .a P81^ of uncommonly pretty foot" and tho tramp of anNiiephant) ?madoJMrs. 'Dfummdnd:?look.;tip nnd'hrouk tho fiUonoo that had lasted- so - long.' Heriremark-Jwiaa'aboutliiothing.. in particular bub hera-yoice struck1- tno,*=it .romindod me of tho time when I rodo over to ask her to the picnic, and*met hor aB'I.CAineiout of^the French: window ; it had -a cunoUi 3 strained ' tone,-as if sho.oonldonly stoady itby an effort

of her will** But-Xanvriotsure whether it was hot K^.fanby o'n my part,; fot, wKeu^ahe-spoke sgain^it'sounded ns usual.- '; j nr.*-- ? '

My ohaptor of ncoidents had not como'to.aft end yot. As I ww giving hor a glass of water,

myrhand in some awkward way,touched hers; m r I, °onfuaed at my blundering, lot go the gloss too soon,or ahe relaxed her hold; at. any rate, the tumbler fell, both of us made a darfrto

it,,u-Ild on'y eaeaped aB by .a miracle from knocking our heade together. Thia aet.ua off laughing; so that thia fallen glass not only broke itaolf but the ice that had formed between

.Next morning thinga were as usual, and at dinner it aeomod quite a matter of course that we should ait tlte-a-tite;ithat afterwards. I.

v . r •uur as wen an carry

hoc .her cup ; stand by -her aide aa she sang, asking,for and hearing all my favourite pieces; road: to her as aho worked. . Bothbcok and embroidery were the same as on the previous night. but I had.no lack of interest now with per for a listener, to exohango sometimes a fow words of appreciation or critlois'm, sometimes only a glance of sympathy; while I think her embroidery was rather a sufferer. ?

: In the course of the evening she .told me that she had heard from Mr. Drnmmond, "h,?,,"as "turn in. at most two days. A little while after this piece of news,' that I can t honestly say rejoiced me exceedingly, she began talking about „ flowet 8ha had on^ 8e0n m a scrub that had exactly the scent of vanilla. I remembered perfectly her.speaking of it the day. her husband had so curtly dismissed me to the bachelors quarters, and I proposed that the next afternoon we should ride out in search of it. .Neither of uasaid as roach, bat I am pretty, sure we both knew it was not to bo put off if we really wished to look for it; for Mr. Drnm mond wasn't much given to wasting his time in excursions with his wife in quest iof the picturesque, either in flowers or scenery ; and he took good care not to let me be spoiled bv idleness—for which last, mind you;I:'by'no means blame him; quite the'^eve^flo.';',''', '>

: by good fortune, had not much 5 work I I Tw ^ R'n rpretfy^dr tain - that duty for orico—andl ,IM am:"by' I no means sure that-I 'aoi rsani'!reproeha' lni j Uua matter on a great many occasions—would

have yielded to pleasure/ ' ' » •

, Wo hadan early luuch^and shortly after two .we started: -Polly'aa BkittwVahacol^ tossing her head, arching her neck, curvettiHcrrand

prancing, pretending to shy and bo raoonshing:' at every hu«h and fallen branoh, and even 8opoy, usually the.moftt staid,- if he was alno, the moat4 trusty, of steeds, indulged in a pig-jump or two to show how .much ho Hppreciated—imitation being the sincere.^ of flattery—the graceful: : ;gambols of his equine companion. : ' • •*

Australian -scenery does notstrike :at first

but its beauty grows upon one. Thi8,r think,? is chiefly owing to its depending ao much on the weather, as it is on ; the' atmosphere' its beauty mainly ream, - for that. is' so .exquisite in itself that under favourable [circumstances it gives a singular charm oven to j an ordinary landscape. So on this day as we: i rode along' our admiration was continually

jexoitod,^ though it would have been hard by'l description to justify orir praiso. The air was ho clear and limpid, tho play of light and .shadow -ro lovely and so varied, that a sunny : glade where groups of trees, ^arranged by Nature's carelessly graceful hand, g/ivo it the: ;air of a vista in a royal-park. A narrow'gnlly jin which banks of ferns were shimmering in the, [sunshine, the friogo' of wattles covered with [ their fragrant blossoms ofipaley gold, along.

watercourse;; a little valley winding away towards' the .hills; the long blady grass with i which it was over-jpewn tinged with golden brown, and waving and swaying -he* fore' the slightest breeze till' yon

could almost suppose some invisible hand | was heading it down as it' passed softly over; a'group of gam.trees; theirgiant trunks white as milk and lustrous as satin, rising straight and branchless for more than a hun dred feet, their shadowy foliage looking ghost

like against the pate bine sky; A score of such' objects, trifling in themselves, hut made lovely by; ah atmosphere luminous- with soft-light, that isurrounded. them, attracted us at evarr turn. Some of the views were indeed beautiful

in themselves. There was one crossing place where, as we rode down the .steepvhank, we found ourselves nearly shut out from the garish' light.-of day'by *8ornB noble chestnuts that grow in tho channel, tKeir pale green* delicate leaves only, lotting tho sun gliut down herd and there Enough to show the crystal 'clear-T ness of tho water, not ab'ovo our horses' fetlocks, which ran sparkling along, and forming an 'ovcr changing notwork of light and' shade over the pebblyibottomVI To our right tho broad lagoon spread out perfectly still and reflecting-liko'> a mirror tho scrub that'.clothed its; hanks, and forraodV/perfect:-' walls* of: tho: richest nnd moat-varied; verdure: • -!.Tinkl©', ; tinkle,' went the'-.'little:: hell- -birds; like u fairy * chimes ringing in «tho* wind; :thon the long-firnwri liquid rioto ending in a'suddon chirp,,Tli'it^'as earned forita.'utteror.the name of j couch-whip, would be hoard. And again, as we rode under a- big spur that projected from the rkriscs^ as' it rose up above us,,;ciothed to the summit ia iin<< broken forest, its crest"'camo* out .against the skyiis if "carved :in ivory,—so clear- was overy.curve, so distinct each rugged pine,' hut' there was no'sharp'ness'br hardness ; ithe \wou derful transparence' of tho atmosphere was softened by the gblden -hnze-rthat floated over all, that filled each ravine, and lay like a veil

on. tho wooded sides'. '* * ' - - r ' J

'Involuntarily as wo looked <up, .wo turned, and our eyos 'raot,'and hora told me a 'thousand times better than tho moat eloquent'words, how the beauty of the Hight tonched her. : Buhd we were not. voiceless as a rule. Mrs. Druramond, generally rather.- silent^ was to-day as 'gay a a child; indoed,~we rwore neither of us very . -far from boirig'boy and girhdnd unyono who had ^eeniia racing ovor thofhig plain nnd hoard her ringing musical liiugh hs she came in tho winner by a few yards,- mightlinro sripposed wo were two youngsters out'for a? holiday. • <

1 Ono/iqcidont was hardly'cheerful thbngh. At Cediir Crossing we went ovor the'river again.! rr.This was a vory different place to'tho first'ford.' The wostorn bank was high, though the odgo of a small flat, and as the bed of the stream.was'narrow we seemed to* be going'iuto a' dark .trough: as wer rode down. Tho water was shallow; but black'from the denBO ehadelof

the troes after whioh tho place was oallod, and -

ita sluggish taw.gavfi it a BuIIen loofci On the

Sown th" bank ^ei:a?6m^ 10 ^ave ^roken aown,tbe bank, and as we .came out of this'

S ^nlf Imf-W6 ,Dt"nd »»'sW>W»,.oii a bare " £ ' °,nl> a . fow stunted iron-barks beine Bettered .over it.. There, on ono side, were thf PoTta'Ttm a8(dcafted h.ut' a couple of charred Sea ofVV? u,g' plal)3 about,' the rtill v yet .visible. On the it i«d •tho^r^ok was » small monnd; J,' ® w J""D? Sr0UB<i stoney and bai-ren: not a blade ol grass grew on it or near

so'that ft TnnV^ waBhod1.'}way the Ieose earth, so that it,looked moro like a heap of coarse gravel than anything- else. But no, there was mUn .!!"8 "..though not a post or a stone,

^ P ODcIoaurQ marked out this I noly grave. Mrs. Drararnond gave a little CZTtZ\hT3' »P the water of ttia dismal'objeot! " ** ?J It'fl,,n°t a cheerful sight, is it ?' I said, aa wo pulled up and looked down. 'Nor is it j£nnfcte,d .wuj1 » pleasant Btory. A German shepherd livoi in.the old hut and he used to make his wifo-work like a nigger. The Door

T?i' W?ain wretched health, but the brute thrashed herif she didn't do everything ha ,7u' fd,; 80' tho°8b could scarcely crawl RffOrn^0ml0aSe. ta get thro"Sh hertasks. One afternoon boundary rider, going ud to the hut, found the woman lying dead, not'far from !™li™ /X° f-' L "? hor hand- Horrified, be Thlr« w"P t f"','0 f0 U any °ne was in. lhere. was tho shepherd coolly eating his S6"'') -know- J00' wife is lying dead elnge by? he : called out. " Yes, 1 do know my voman is det, .because whtn I come home the,fire vas on]j". « But you don't mean to leave her there ?.' ." And why not ? ' X

a: mans in ,the hut mit me."

LnQkjly Barker, wasnt likely to stand that sort follo»n?h» " S3 u- W1." lji= <in0ll«h to eat the ;nnH;„l?'. j ra tb/msu'0 poorcreature

J r "C' , ay they sent out froin-.

tho station and,had her buried' " '

l ,'But how was it',' asked. Mri.i'Dummond,,' f t V no V10 'nterfered before? Eobeit could' Bot.naTG Jcno^n.' *'* > .

J ' MosFassurediy ho did inot';"but-the men, ;m°at °f .jel" a.^anyrate, did ;;but the right of ,a, husband, to ;beat,. his . wife, if ie to pleases,

,fSDrf4a?5?r-'r THe wbm'en. | talked a little, orj-ather, a. great deal' at'.first; ibut asithe.Brute.was married again in less than six .weeks, I suppose they tod .thought the fault larju the womanior dying/not'in'the'man's'

.ilMreatment.

: We were not so lively after, this, thoigh we I™?Lso^saymuoh more about it; but I didn't

innd any particular -fault w,ith the change, for jMcs. flrutnmpnd.became almost confidential, as ;8he told mo about her childhoed and early .girlhood., Her . mother had died .when she. was quite, young. Her father ! was in India. . So.she had been brought up by

an uncle, also a widower, and an old hard man who. showed no more, affection to her than to his own only child, a girl a little younger than herself. This child, who was extre. ely i pretty, was always being held up to her aa a

rival,..against whose superior charms she had not a chance. ' I could not tell you,' she said 'what pangs of mortification X was made to endure, about Ella'a superiority. I did think her. quite lovely, but .would not hare owned ifc for the world. , I felt so indignant at its being: for ever thrasfc upon me. T don't think I re. ?i6S,ue x down-"Sto remark of the old butler,

'That I coalda t hold a candle to his young

mistress,'. half as much.as I. did the taunts of i the maids, that I should never be married till I Mi»s Ella had made me walk behind ; her as a bridesmaid. Io'fteh laugh at the plans I used to form as to how I could..escape; such an

ignominy.'

' But surely,' I began; but. somehow I could notgetthe words to.come.that would express my surprise at her riot being throuirht pretty, quite forgetting, my own. fiwt impressions. . I suppose,.though: I looked what I thought, for she frowned a little and said, quito coldly,—

'.Oh! pray, den t pay me ooinplinients; I only epeak of the past. I am not at all humble minded now.' . Xhen,'.-changing- ber! tone, she continued' Was it not lnckv-I met Robert, for tf.was, capabio, of...taking,-.Blue . Board, inystorious ohainbor, and' nil. And you can't imagine,'... giviug,,nm a .sauoy look, "' what a model lover,-Robert was. : Even old riiirse, who sunbbed me on.all bcrasioiis,:had to own the ^werofjinueh.'despised'.ob'aras.. «It must be your fair;hair.'':.she.used .to say,' eyeiug.ino wondoringly. I.supposa she thought my light tresses.hadsomo magical, glariiour.for Bohort's raven.locks.'c'., i r..',; r' . ' *

:.5Is.'ybur,oo'u3in;married yet?'

VTes, and dead.',. I wish th'oy,had not made such mischief between us.: Perhaps, ? if we had been let alone, wo'should neither of us have married so young as wo did. That sounds odd,' she.added, colouring.with a vivid blush; ' but I do think lono .hardly, knows one's mind at eighteen ; and perhaps if Ella and I had re mained longer together she woiild not have madatheffpolish;matoh she did, throwing iwas all her chanoes, and then! fretting, herself into a-.decline, because she-,had .only got: a.,mere mortal in exchange,—though,, for, that matter, I fancy. no one is quite.eatisfied.' '.

But ,tlie flower,—we'were so bcchpied- with other ;Oingi that .wa ',had both .forgotten all about it, :but with trub.feminin'a Ingenuity Mrs. Drummond - put the '.wholo fault of forgetful. ne«8 upon'me... ? .. ^ '

' Mr. Verhor,'9hn said, ' where ia the flower? You haye brought me put on purpose- to show it to you, and you have never onca thought of

... Of. eo'nrse I confessed- my guilt,Vaad hnmbly declared,iJiat,if :she. would., ouly, -give mo some blue as to .where it was to be found, I:would.'do my, best to get;it; but\ that Was just what she could.not do.,. Wo wore at.tho right scrub—of that'sho was 8ure,,:but :hor recollection of tho situation of 'the plant sojmed to he of the most hazy description.: Half a-dozen times she was certain ehe recognised the tree on which it grow, hut when we. rode nearer, the result ol a cleser inspection was not «atisfaotbry, and at last she had to own that her,memory had not retained any mark that might guide us in the search. So,',as. it was getting late, w.e had to turn back, and the question as to whether this

dower belonged, or did not belong,' to a.true^ vanilla orohid, is an unsolved mysterytothis.

day.

•Mr. Drummond did not come heme for some2 flays after the time be had, named fer bis return, though ho knew Misa Blount bad left, his wife having written to tell him so. I hayo

often wondered since bow be could haveso. lingered. Had be become so accustomed to my I presence as to be unconscious of the equivb*, eal position my being alone with her placed bis, wife in ; or had he, if aware of it, such pom«r' pkto trust in her as to be regardless of remarks ?.* Under no circumstances, however, do I hold" him blameless. He must have known what, would bo said, and for her sake, if heedless

himself of the opiaion of others, he Bhouldl have let nothing stand in bis way in. putting an end to so unfair a-position. Even to me,, who was enjoying a most exqnisite happiness in this daily and close companionship with' a} woman always attractive!, and to me ihexr. pressibly so, this dread was the one bitter drop, in my cup ; and I have sometimes reproached' myself tnat.I, on my part, did not put ah, end to it. And yet how could I; would ' not any such attempt from me have savoured of absurd! vanity and presumption ?

{To be concluded neelioeek.) . v-j