|Chapter Title||TAKING THE ODD TRICK.|
|Newspaper Title||The Port Augusta Dispatch, Newcastle and Flinders Chronicle (SA : 1885 - 1916)|
|Trove Title||Benbonuna: A Tale of Thirty Years Ago|
BENBOirWAi e S
A TALK OF THIRTY YEARS AGO.
. i [AU righto reserved by (he author."] CHAPTER Vffl (continued). . - TAXING THE ODD TBICK.
Br ROMBT BBUCK.
At this moment the German, Schlinke, made his^appearanoe, andgiving Heslop a •mail folded note, paid, " Miss Ashbee •end me nrit dis." Frank eagerly took theproffered note— vrhich was directed in tbe neat Italian band at that time nnivers&Uy in vogpe •with tbe ladies—with « little flatter at the heart in sympathy with the feeling with : which he was beginning to regard the writer, while bis active imagination^ wiaa busy with conjectures as to the purport of the missive, which ran as follows Dear Mr Heslop,—Mrs Rchlinke has just told m e that yon are abont to ride the Odd Trick, Let me beg of yon not to do so, for be is a most dangerocs animal, and hiss already acverely injured several people. Do think how it would grieve as should yon be hurt, ind how your father and mother would justly blame us for allowing you to expoBe yourself to such danger. Please be guided by me and -have nothing to do with the horse. Yours in great haste, MABTASHBY. "Blessherkind heart," mentally ejaculated Frank, "I hope by 'os'she means faenelf. M Then SB he re-read the epiBtlehe thought, "Confound that Hawleyl it seems as if I were to be forced into false positions by him. If I ride this brute I
•hall offend Mies Ashby, and if I don't I shall make myself a laughing-stock for the station, after bringing him down here. I really don't know what to do." Here he looked np and met Mick's eye fixed inquiringly on him. " Fhwat is id, sorr ?" « Miss Ashby BskB me not to ride the Odd Trick," eaid Heslop in a low tone intended for Mick's ears only. 4 1 Sure thin, Misther Heslop, ye'H not have to ride bimanswered Mick with prompt deference to the lady's wishes. "But if I don't ride bim, how Hawley will sneerP .... .. ,. « flare thin, and yell hive to tide him, aorr l" said Miok with the most pontive conviction. , ,. . . "But still Mick, if Miss Ashby wishes me not to do so ? "Sure and ye'H hare to do as ihe says, •BOTT," replied Frank's most consistent of advisers. . . , „ t "WeH I don't know what to do ? What would you advice ?" MFaitb, an' I don't know, sorr I" It was patent that Mick's counsel would not help Frank out of his dilemma; and so he thought to himself, " I don't like to go back now, and if I could only manage to stick to the brute, she would like me all the better for it, though she did send the note." The last part of his self oommunion must have found audible expression, for Mick obimed in. "Deed an' 6be would sorr, an so III git ye a dhrink of tay, an thin I'll hould him for yet" . .
Mick promptly departed on his errand, and Frank refolding the note and putting it carefully away in hie waistcoat pocket, said to the German, " Will you kindly tell Miss Asbby that I think there is no danger; and that I really muBt ride tbe horse, as there is no other for me 1 Yod can recollect that, can't you ?" "Idells her efrydings you dells me I don't nodinge vorgets," replied the Teutonic Mercury; but he seemed to think the message would not spoil by keeping, for going deliberately to the to the verandah of the hat he placidly squatted on the wash block, evidently with the intention of remaining there for the show. " I should be obliged if you would deliver my message at once," remarked Frank when he noticed Schlinke's attitude. The German, who showed by the expression of his stolid countenance that he thought Frank a most uncomfortable sort of man, departed silently, followed by derisive remarks and laughter from the tittle knot of idlers who rejoiced in bis discomfiture. " Here's the tay, eorr, an' when ye've drank it, ye'd better tighten up the girths a bit, ye'H get them up a couple of holes now," said Mick, as he handed up the beverage. With the sun's heat at over 160deg. Fahreinheit, it is wonderful what quantities of non-intoxicating liquor a man can dispose of in a day, especially if a hot wind be blowing ; Frank took off his tea with gusto, tightened up the girths of tbe Odd Trick's saddle, and braced himself up for the encounter, feeling a little full about tbe chest, but showing no signs of irresolution. "Now Mr HeBlop," said Mick as he held the horse for Frank to mount, "Jiet put yer fut well in the sbtirrip, shove your knee toight agin tbe flap, and kape yer toe out of his girths, an' then lift yerself clane into your sate widout jerkin', an' wbin yer feels all right I'll let go. Mind now," he concluded "That ye don't let him get ye iorrard in the saddle or ye'H know it." The Odd Trick gave MB body an indrawn movement, bringing his girths several
inches nearer the ground, like a dog enjoying a good yawn, as Frank, with a sort of breathless sigh Bwung himself cautiously to the saddle. Directly its head was released the Odd Trick gave a quick startled movement forward, and then, quick as thought, its tail was tucked in tightly, its back arched, its head dashed with a vicious scream between its fore legs, and it sprang into tbe air with a jerk that severely tried its rider's spine and seemed to drag him bodily forward. All he could see before him was the "nate little kid," which, however, steadied hie knees wonderfully, and gave him a feel ing of confidence he would otherwise have lacked. But it was the landing after that first buck, and tbe ensuing rebonnd that tried Frank's Btaying powers to the uttermoBt, for the Odd Trick, with a peculiar side swerve, seemed to sink its body backwards almost to the ground, and be felt the sensation of being pulled irresistibly over tbe animal's rear quarter, only to be tried by tbe forward movement more severely in consequence as the horse sprang again into the air. In fact, Frank's sensations were such as wonld be experienced by a post (if a post bad sensations), whioh one man shook violently by the top while another endeavored to hoiet it from itB place by a powerful lever applied to its lower end ; and his downfall would have been insured had the horse succeeded in shifting him in the least. But Frank was as strong as be was determined. Besides, was not the appro bation of a pretty girl to be gained and a malignant enemy to be confounded ? and though the horse bucked on with a power and persistence which Beemed limitless, he stuck to tbe saddle with the tenacity of the Old Man of tbe Sea to Sinbad, to tbe great delight of Mick and th« station loungers, whose enthusiastic " Hooroo's 1" "Stick to bim 1 He can't throw you 1" with a " Wire in Jacky !" from tbe cockatoo, bad tbe double effect of encouraging Frank, and of attracting additional spectators to the scene—one being a large tame emu from the vicinity of tbe station smithy, where he had been grazing on broken horse shoe nails and such like tender provender, and the other a sheep dog from a shady corner of tbe men's but. The emu at once entered into the spirit of tbe thing; be wriggled his neck in tbe most absurd fashion, and set off on a race «gsinat time, i» which ho described an
variety of carves and circles, i he wonld turn suddenly, flatten out his neck till it appeared like a broad sad-colored ribbon, and draw himself to his ntmoBt height, standing on his toes. Then he would wag bis body about; bob np and down like an old country woman curtesy, and contort himself into a variety of grotesque positions which would ^ have quickly established bis reputation in a circus, and then off he wonld race again. The dog, ss in duty hound, and greatly incited thereto by a shrill cry of " Heel him up Bobby 1 Heel him up 1" from the cockatoo, rushed, barking furiooBly, at the horse's heels; his effortB were not, however, appreciated, and he was promptly set ap in business as an itinerant musician by Mick, who discharged at bim a chunk of gum with each force and unerring precision that the barking was succeeded by tbe most lugubrious howls, much to tbe disgust of the owner and the amusement of the other onlookers. The cockatoo gave a sympathetic-yelp or two at .first, and then shamelessly yelled at the top of his voice, " Come behind, Bobby! Come behind !" But Bobby evidently considered be had collected sufficient wood for one day, and was not to he recalled. Still the Odd Trick bpeked on, sometimes in dangerous proximity to the wood heap, the deep, blind creek, or the horse rail, until the issue appeared interminable ; but presently the .horse—which evidently took not tbe: slightest heed to its course— blondered over tbe steep bank of tbe deep gutter by the kitchen, and losing its footing among the loose, stones, came down with aheavy tbud at the bottom of the trench. Frank,who bad instinctively cleared
his feet from the stirrup irons, threw himself from the saddle and found himself on the ground, just in front of the Odd Trick —whose heels were in the air—a little dizzy and a good deal shaken ; but with the reinB still grasped in hie hands. The fall did not trouble him much, as he bad fortunately come down on a pocket of drift sand ; without wasting a second he scrambled to bis feet, and was in the saddle again before the horse bad regained its footing. He drove his heels into its sides and forced it up the bank on to the plain again. But the double bucking match and the fall had taken the steel out of the Odd Trick, and after a few half hearted jumps he gave a deep groan, and planted himself as rigid as a statue, with bis fore legs extended and hiB head still thrust between them. The Odd Trick was beaten ; he had given ap the contest, and was sainted by the oockatoo with the apropos remark, "Ah, yon're cooked, Jackcyl You're cooked 1" It is almost needless to say that Frank's reputation as a horseman was henceforward fully established as far as Benbonnna was concerned, and even further, for the news of a great bucking match soon circulates in the buBh. (To be continued.)