Chapter 196503850

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Chapter NumberXXVIII
Chapter Url
Full Date1894-12-01
Page Number31
Word Count3418
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleLeader (Melbourne, Vic. : 1862 - 1918)
Trove TitleGathered Rue. An Australian Novel
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. AN AUSTRALIAN NOVEL. . . . BY Ellbbton GAY. Author op "Dmftino Under the Southern Oboes," " Aonoss the Gulp," ha.

oliafter XXVIII.—" A TntED Traveller op My Sun Bereft. "

Basil Tromayne Started from Yownrco in hot- tor hoalth and Hpirits that ho had known sinoo hit mother's death. Ho had oomo to a determi nation that sliowod a oloar horizon hofore liirn. He meant to. go straight homo, meet Mora frankly, nnd conquering all reserve botween thorn, tell lior all ho know or suspected of Afar- got's parentage.

It hod boon a point of honor with him in the earliest days of tho discovery of the child's exis tence to nsk no questions that should bring oer- tainty home to him. He determined tiiat he should always be ablo to say that ho knew nothing, whatever his suspicions might be. He never harbored the smallest doubt that his silent doduotiono were oorreot; now he would impart them to his wife, and if she believed him all would bo well with them. Of ono thing he must bo especially careful, namely, that by no possibility oouid it appear that bo was blaokon- ing another's olioraotsr to lighten his own. That be aoneeived it possible that any ono oould believe him capable of suoh a course showed a distinot alteration in him, a humbling of his haughty roBorve' and self reliance whioh had Roomed almost as though he considered him self above the ordinary weaknesses of human nature. He .was ready .to make allowances for Mora's desire to have the mystery of Margaret's intrusion into her life brought down from the lofty region of abstraot oouduet and put into plain language which could bo met and dis cussed. . She would then aoknowledgo that hebad been right in requesting her to oense her acquaintance with . Underwood— though it would Lave been very muoh for his own happiness and hers if he had spoken out frankly in the first instance — painful though suoh an explanation would have been and must always be. : For the first time since their separation Basil allowed two weeks to slip by without writing to his wife. He felt that. what he had to say must be by word of month ; he oould not write a bare straightforward statement of faots unaccom panied by' all the tender hopes of reconciliation. It would seem suoh a poor justification in writ ing compared to the vivid color and gesturo his telling would lend it. His buokboard was pnoksd with rations and valises, and the oanvas bags and horse collar bags filled with water, , providing , for tho dry Btagos, and, giving all his last instructions, he started off on the journey that, with good luolc he hoped' to 'porform in something under a month. : Ho was accompanied by Miohaol Hagan, a genial young Irishman, who drovo tho spare horses in front of him and enlivenod the dreary stages with merry ohat aa ho jogged alongside tho buokboard. : Ha was a superior young fellow, and though Basil treated him like a friend, he never presumed upon It. He mado the best damper and johnniooako ever set before a oamp flro, and had a knaok of blending eugar and tea in a qunrtpot and stirring it in a par ticular manner that always made the tea the E roper atrongth. Hie memory for yarns of lacks and bushrangers, cattle raids and horse soldiering, was marvellous. But the poor fellow's merriment eame to a sudden termination with an attaok of dysentery, which prostrated him in a few hours. Hsbeoame too ill to ride, or even to hold the reins and drive, bo Basil had to take him beside him in the buokboard, supporting him almost in his arms and travelling hardly beyond a footpace, oaring for him all the tltno as though he wero bis brother, Tho extra horses jogged along in front or in their wake, for. tho most part quietly, but occasionally Basil had to mount the one he kept tied behind the buokboard and scampor off in pursuit, when they took it into their heads to do a little exploring on their own aooount, his pationt meanwhilo lying exhausted under a tree. It was a terrible journoy, and Basil began to despair of roaohing tho nearest station on their road in time to bo vo Hagan's lifo. Ohlorodyno wns tile only remedy lie bad with him, but perfect quiet was essential, and owing to their being obligod to keep on their journey tho disease did notyiold to. this treatment. Doubt less, too, the only food he oould give him — corn flour and water — was bad for him. The weather was ovorpowsringly hot, and tho water overywhore was scares and bad. Tho horses had grown lean and hungry looking on tho scant burnt up food; and nothing esemed full of life and hope except the groat brown oarrion liawks that poised their ragged wings above them ns though waiting for their prey. When Hagan had been ill three days they had still a journey of four hundred miles to the nearest township, but within forty or fifty milts they would reach the suooour of a station where everything would be at ttieir service, and where they could stay as long as they liked. The day was one of great shimmering haze, intensely hot and breathless ; this distant hills showed a sombre purple, and across the arid plains the mirage played its delusive trioks, showing the gaunt gum-tress as though reflooted in entioing pools bordered with moist growth. Basil, divested of every garment bat silk slilrt and moleskin trousers, gave the siok man his own large pith hat, wearing Instead a felt wideawake whioh did not provide a sufficient pioteotion from the penetrating — though seomingly hidden — sun. Hogan was worse, and groaned faintly with every jolt, and at high noon Basil must havo had a sunstroke. How they reaobed Dulls was never known, but at evening the young men who oomo in from their work wore surprised to find the two tired horses with thoir noses at the slip rail, with ono dying man and and one unoonioious one lying In a buokboard buggy behind them. The hospitable strangers took them in and gave the last cares to Hogan, who never rallied,

and decently buried him and nursed tne other ono with suoh oaro and applinnoos as they could command back to life through long days of egony. Ono of tho young men had somo experience in unstroko, and did, porhnps, ns muoh for him as would have boon possible under the most skilled advice. It muBt be explained that Dulla was by no means the station for which Basil bad been making on their direct route, but another one away out of tho . track of travelers. . It had buen taken up quito recently by some young Viotorians who had felt cramped in their small holdings, and longed for a lifo of adventure and roughing it, with bigger prospective gaius, in a now country. After 10 days, during whioh Basil Tromayne remained unoonsoious, ho regained a certain amount of oonsoionsnesa and mnde sevoral atops towards recovery. In answer to inquiries they gathered that his name was Hagau, further than that one word they oould get no information from him. Evon as he partially recovered hie health be never spoke except in monosyllables, hut lay liatlsis and uniutcrested in a hammock tliey had mado for him under the shade of the bark roofed verandah. When addressed as Hagan he looked up and nodded or shook his head in reaponaa to tho questions they put to him. (During Hagan's illness Basil had ransacked liib own valises for changes of attire for him, and must afterwards have fastened tilings inne- ouroly on tho buokboard, .for when found by the Browns there were only some empty eun baked water tmgs and some rations, but neither olotliea nor papers by wbioh to identify their guest. All these had been scattered in unknown direc tions. Tho brothers Brown and Hugh Maomiiian often diaoussod what thoy should do with their guest and patient, who oould give no informa tion about himself, and they agrcsd that as soon as they could get away they would tako him to tho nearest township to see a dootor, who thoy hoped might he ablo to find out his friends ; but tlioy were busy and were obliged to put off going until certain things were done. Thus it oame to pass when a rare mall reaohed them, and they saw that inquiries wore being made in the papers about a certain Basil Tro mayne, M.L.A., tlicy woro unable to give any information of his whereabouts, although he was under their own rough but hospitable bark roof. When the kind hearted young men wcro ablo to get away they drove Basil by careful stages in his own buokboard to Untbulia, whioh stirring little towusbip they reaohed on Christmas eve. This was two days boforo tho great event of the yenr at Untbulia, when the Boxing day raoos would be held, and for whioh tho young man of the country around had pourod Into the little township, with its single one-sided street of bark roofed stores or. iron or log hotels and shanties. All about the toams of bullocks lay with their yoke fallows in the short, dusty herbage of the street, whieb curved as the creek curved. The drays, oovored with their tarpaulins, were drawn up just where tbey had stopped, and the drivers dawdled away their time that they might some in for their share of the Christmas festivities, to eat the orthodox smoking roast beef andgigantio plum ptiddinga under tho sweltering roofs of the inns instead of prooeeding on their way with their respective teams to the stations (whore their approach with Christmas supplies was anxiously watohed for). On the road they might perhaps have "made oolievo"at Christmas fare, with their junk of salt beef and a damper (stuok full of the black seeds of a ripo watermelon, to do duty as plum pudding) under the gum treos and tho hot blue Bky, with one thrice precious bottlo of Bass, for whioh thoy might have paid 8s. or more, to orown tho oooasion ; but in the township tlioy could havo the real thing, and they had no compunctions at staying to enjoy them. When Jack Brown and Hugh Maomiiian drove up to tho principal hotel, presided over by the popular Mrs. , Timmins, tho hotol from whioh Cobb's ooaob started, and at whioh it arrivod weekly, they found' to their1 disgust that there was not a room to bo had, though a liberal in vitation to spread their blankets and oamp on the verandah waB accorded. Mrs. Timmins reoognissd Basil with some dilOoulty, but she could not remember his name. "There now, I can't think of it 1 It's something beginning with Re or Ry, but I'll remember of it when I'm not so busy. I seem to think it had something to do with a number, two or t're, but I remember his face quite well, though it's thin he la and looks bad, poor man I" Basil was thoroughly worn out with his journey, but thoy took him away from tho noisy inn and slung a hammook for him in a fairly shady spot by tho croek, and foraged for suoh danties and luxuries as oould be prooured ; a fresh egg being seoured with great diffi culty. That day and tho next wero a saturnalia of noise and exoitemont accompanied with muoh tail talk, or "blow" in Australian lingo ; the marvellous powers of speed and endurance of eertain horses being vaunted, tho said horsea being generally the ones not with them, tho comparative morality of stealing or "soldier ing" horses being a frequent anbjeot of dis cussion. To " soldier"a horsodiffers from stealing it, in- asmuoh as after having appropriated it for his needs tlie'soldioror rides it as long ae lie oan make it go, or until 'a frosh chance of soldiering oeours, and then lets it loose to go baok to its run if it can find the way or has a leg left to travel on. Whoreas tho liorso stealer makes clean off with it, oblitorates tho brands by putting his own over them, and sells it in tho first anotion he can got to. At a comparatively early hour evory one had turned in— n few between the unaccustomed luxury ofehoets, but most were content with their usual roll in blankots, with a saddle for a pillow— nnd all was quiet. Tito delusive cool ness of night had settled down on tho silent sentinel of gum trees, half dry ereek, and low, rugged roofs of the straggling little place. With the morning oame the great preparations for the event of the year, and there wasa general polish ing up of boots and stirrups, and a cursory wash ing and grooming of horseB, tho hacks that were to bo raoed in the weight for age and other handioaps. The course was one that gave every inhabi tant the privilege of a front row in the grand stand, the finish coming down tho street to tho judge s box on the verandah of "Timmins's." The costumes of the jockeys were beautifully varied, but for the most part they wore mole skin hreeohts of 'dazzling whltoness and riding boots ; though a fow turned out In trousers that had been "strapped " all down the seat and legs with an entirely different material and oolor, tho onds being turned into the eocks by way of a neat finish. Bright red or blue flannel Bhlrts girthed with a white handkerohiof made a pass able substitute for the " Bilk," while a colored handkerohlef knotted at the corners did duty for tho usual jookey'a cap. The horses to be ridden' showed somo blood and breeding; but having as a rule long flowing tails and ragged unshod hoofs thoir remarkably good qualities were disguised, and they presented anything but the regulation racing appearance. The professional bookmaker was oonspiouous by hisahstnoe, but vyagers on the bartor system wore freely indulged in, and tobaeoo and pipes,

saddles and boots, whips and g . ib«; homos and eattle ohanged owners at the conclusion of oaob evonfc. on tiio not very limited programme. Young .Brown >nd Maemillan, : who - were acquainted witii'tlie Flemington conrso in all its perfection, and had seon tho Melbourne Oup race many timos, wore inton.oly amused at tho primi tive nature of the raoing preparations of the. stniwart young stookmen, and looked on all day with considerable interest; while Basil Tre- maync, in tho comparative quiet of the back verandah, slept hotter than lie had dona since his sunstroke. After tho raoing tho greatest event was to be theball m the evening at Timmina's Hotol, for which startling festivity Mrs. Timmins's . finery had arrived by Cobb's coach some weeks ago Silo and her Irish liolp, with Mrs. Mulligan who kept tho general storo and brought her "shlip of" a gnrl her daughter, wero tho only females available. For Mrs, Moloney,' tho rival inn koopcr, declined to oomo or even allow -her sister to. Thero had boen sorao pru'iminniy dis agreement about who was to havo "tops" in tile quadrilles. Mrs. TimmiuB naturally took one of the ooveted positions for heiself, and de cided that Mrs. Mulligan bad tlio best right to the other end, consequently Mrs. Moloney, de- olined to attend the ball. Dance sides ' with Mrs. 'limmins and Mrs. Mulligan in t lie placea of honor she would not, so poor Nora Hennessey, her sister, was done out of the ball, to whioh she had been looking forward for months. To tiio musio of tho oonoertinas and a cornet the ball was opened as arranged, with Sirs. .Timmins in a green satin gown looped up with rod nnd white roses. , Red armed Biddy the maid of all work woh splendid in a red merino frook. Ono of tho y onng stookmen had brought in a spray of sweetly perfumed orchids, which might have been worn by an English duchess, but adorned tho bosom of the said merino, and was soon orushod to a ehapoleBS mass against the rough coats of her partners. Mrs. Mulligsn always drained in blaek in tendor memory of "poor Joe Smith," herseoond husband— though lior grief for his loss had not prevontod lior from solaoing herself with a third spouse. But Nolly Brady, her "shlip of a gurl," was dressed in white with a red sash, and onrried a large hiaok fan whioh soon got broken in the unaooustomed handling of her orowd of admirers. The quadrilles went with a swing and gusto unknown to that dance in politer circles, and a quantity of waltzing round was introduced pro miscuously into the figures. Tho men danced togother to mako up the sots, spinning round with hands on each others' shoulders, and join ing in with the familiar portions of the .music with ail tho strength of their vigorous young lungs. Mazurkas and varsovlcnnes shared popularity with the polka, and the ball was at Its height when Basil and young Maomiiian wandered into the heated room, with its perspiring danesrs and amoking kerosene lamps. Basil showed a great improvement in health, and had asked for a pipe, wliloli lie had evidently enjoyed smoking. Maomiiian suffered from shyness, not being able to summon np courage to ask pretty little Nelly Brady to danoe with him, and having no relish for the alternative females, or the " ball dance," preferred to stay out n the open air with his Bilent' com panion, ; " Who's that siok chap ?" asked red bearded Fat Mulligan of his partner, the resplendent Mrs. Timmins. " That's tho boss tho young cliapa from Dulla brought in, Ho's a shingle short from tun- stroke. I've seen him a ouuplo of times before, but I can't remember his name." " Why, I b'lieve it's Mr. Tromayne from but Yowarree way that they have been making suoh inquiries about. Whatn pity he's cranky." " Why. so it is, Tromayne I I remember now. I said it had somothing to do wid figures, t'ree or four! Let's go nnd see if. he'll take any thing." She went over to where Basil was standiug. " I'm glad to see you at my ball ; will you take anything, Mr. Tremayne?" Basil looked np as he saw her sail across tho room to him, and stood up witli the instinots of a gentleman as site spoke to him. He started violently as lie hoard his namo. He said— "No, thank you. I like looking on. I have been here before — I think ! I havo boon ill. . I cannot quite romembor whore I havo boon." "Yon arc all right now," Mrs. Timmins said, with nffootionate solioitudo. "Yon just go and have a B. and S., and yon will feci as rigiit as a trivet." Slio whirled off witli her partner, and Basil turned to Hugh Maemillan. "What haB happened? I believe 1 was going to Yowarree." " Yon hare been vory ill for some weeks," Maomiiian said kindly. "Yon havo had a sun stroke, and you must not oxcite yourself now. This noise is too muoh for you. I think you had better come to our oamp." " I will ; my hoad aohos foarfnlly— but I am hotter, you say ?'' " Muoh better ; you will soon bo able to con tinue your journey." Young Brown came up and drew Maemillan aside. , i "It seems that our man is the Sir. Basil Tre- mayno wo havo been reading about in the papers aa missing ! We must telegrapli to ilia friends aB soon as the oifice is open in the morning. Shnll I come with you to the camp !" Maomiiian would not hear of his partner giving up the pleasures of tho ball so soon. The dootor of Untbulia was absent seeing a pationt 80 miles off on one of the stations, but his assis tant had felt qualified to prescribe for Basil's ease, and his medioine had oertainly wnrked marvels, assisted by tho strong constitution of the pationt and by tho change of scene. (to be continued.)