Chapter 196752010

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Chapter NumberXXVI
Chapter TitleUNPLEASANT PLEASANTRY.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article196752010
Full Date1887-06-14
Page Number4
Corrections0
Word Count2448
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Port Augusta Dispatch, Newcastle and Flinders Chronicle (SA : 1885 - 1916)
Trove TitleBenbonuna: A Tale of Thirty Years Ago
article text

BBNBOKVNA: A TALE OF THIRTF YEABS AGO,

Br EOBERT BEUCE.

[AU rights reserved by Ihe author.] *-•' CHAPTER XXYI {continued). ~ UNPLEASANT PLEASANTRY.

"Yon speak feelingly on that point, and 1 T suspect the suddenness of my advent was not particularly agreeable. Now was it ?" " Yon are pleased to become a veritable Sphinx, and yonr riddles are to me unanswerable,BO RIL say good evening to you, for the present,MrsAshby," replied Bowyer raising bis bat politely and departing in the direction of tbe men's quarters, overtaking Mary <n route. She took bis arm, accompanied him for a short distance, and then ietnrned straight, to tier father, who was reading in the sitting rootn and who greeted her advent with— " Well, Mary, any signs of Frank yet ?" " No, father ; but Mr Bowyer say6 he is riding Rockst, and that he is sure to return safely." " I hope he will ; for he is a fine young fellow, and the more 1 see of hiui the better I like him." " 01 We're all awfully anxious about him," interposed Mrs Ash by through an open window, " and if you would only help me to listen out here, John, I believe we should hear him coming. Mr Bowyer and Mary very nearly succeeded just now —that is if the way they were squeezing bands (by way of congratulation, I suppose) can be taken as a criterion." " How can you talk like that, Mrs , Ashby?" asked her stepdaughter .-proachfully, while Mr Ashby looked - inquiringly from one to the other. " Well, were you not ?" demanded the elder lady. "Yee, I did give him my hand, for he is. a true friend," replie-i Mary looking- Mrs ABbby straight in the face, " and have nothing to hide from my father!"' " What, Mary, have you thought better of it ?" asked Mr Asbby eagerly, for he was an ardent partisan of Bowyer, and •was perfectly acquainted with all that had passed between him and Mary. " No, father. It was because he was so actions about Mr Heslop," replied Mary with a blush. " I thought he fancied Frank was all right. Didn't yoa sayBO just now ?" " Yes, father; but he wishes he was home." " So I should think. Being proxy in a courting case, when one would rather be

principal, must be a dreadfully tantalising business," sneered Mrs Ashby ; but to this her step-daughter made no reply, quietly taking np some crotchet work, while Mr Ashby after perplexedly regarding his feminine belonging for a little time demanded of bis wife what she meant, " Only that Mies Propriety there is tying two strings to her bow—an old and new one—that is all." " I don't understand you, Isabella." " You had better aek Mary, then, for you know you can depend on everything she tells you J" returned Mrs Ashby ; but Mary did not wait to be questioned, for putting down her work, she gave her step mother a glance of quiet scorn and retreated in good order till out of sight of the enemy; when, of course, she fled precipitately to her room, and throwing herself on her bed indulged in the truly feminine luxury of " a good cry"—after the fashion of £irls in such cases. Mrs Ashby, having succeeded in making her husband and step-daughter eufliciently uncomfortable, betook herself to a garden seat in tbe verandah, in which she had scarcely bestowed herself comfortably when Bowyer returned from the huts, " Well, Mr Bowyer, is your dreadful anxiety regarding Mr Heslop's safety at all relieved, or shall I call Mary to help you to worry about him again ?" asked Mrs Ashby banteringly. " I begin to think he is out for the night. Your brother has returned, and I find that be has not seen or heard anything of Mr Heslop; but he'll turn up in the morning safe enough. He is too plucky to lose himself, now that he knows all the principal landmarks," replied Bowyer with assumed confidence, for he did not relish Mrs Ashby's badinage and could not help thinking that she would rather be pleased than otherwise should Frank have tost himself again. "Do you think you would ever get over the loss, if ho never came back ?" asked Mrs Ashby meaningly. " Do you think I am a hypocrite ?" replied Bowyer coldly, and after taking a few rapid turns backwards and forwards, he went round the end of the house nearest the creek, and did not return, which ungallant behaviour evidently annoyed Mrs Ashby, for after fidgeting about on tho seat for a short tiuie she rose and entered the house, muttering " The impracticable boor." CHAPTER XXVII. FAMILY JA11S. " I do not like that Bowyer at all ; he is a great deal too familiar," said Mrs Ashby to her husband, a few minutes after she had entered the sittingrootn, to which Mr Ashby's answer, coupled with An interrogatory 6tare was, " Oh ?" " Yes 1" (with an annoyed expression). "I don't understand you, Isabella." ( " Oh 1 of course not. He is a friend of yours," sneered the lady.

" Yes, I believe he is, and I certainly have never heard him say anything to which I could take exception. Of course when you joke with him you must expect him to joke with you." " Of course I am in fault," retorted the lady. " Look here, Isabella, I do not know what you mean. This is not the first time yon have hinted that Bowyer has been unpleasantly familiar, and yet yo accepted a silk dress from him no later than the day before yesterday." " What could I do, when he was so pressing?" exclaimed Mrs Ashby, answering, as ladies are so fond of doing, one question by propounding another. " Oh, was he ?" asked Mr Ashby in a quietly satirical tone that irritated his wife all the more that it was such a new and untxpected phase in her usually easy-going and submissive husband. She replied sharply, "Anyone, to hear you talk, would imagine I bad asked for the dress '" " Well, did you not ?" " You're a fool." "I have been a fool," significantly returned Mr Ashby. Was the world coming to an end ? thought the lady, too astonished for a moment or two to use her tongue effectively. But the lull, lik o that u liitrh often precedes a tempest, was of brief duration, and she speedily reopened the engagement with, " I insist on you explaining yourself. Mr Ashby." "That is very easily done, Isabella. ! But you ought to know as weJl as I do in what respect I have been foolish," answered Mr Ashby, betraying a slight hesitancy, bb of a fledgeling trying its first night. Mrs Ashby looked a trifle uneasy, but returned to the charge with, " I am sure I do not; and again I insist on you explaining yourself." " Well, the truth is, I have allowed you to alienate a number of my best frir-nde and am determined that Bowyer shall not be added to tbe number." " Pretty friends, indeed, who came here for what they could get, knowing what

an easy going idiot yon are," cried the lady, ignoring the latter part of her bus hand's speech. " It iB far easier to make assertions, than to render proofs," said Mr Ashby quietly. " Yes, and people often take refuge in generalities when a simple fact is too hard for them," retorted bis wife. " You are quite right, Isabella, and eauce for the gander ahould also be sauce for the goose, allow me to ask you for one solitary instance in which Bowyer has overstepped the bounds of respectful propriety towards you, Bnd I will apeak him about it." "It is not exactly what he says, but his manner of saying it, .that annoys me ; and of course, if spoken to be would say, " 0 ! I said so and eo," and laugh in his sleeve at both of us." " Allow me to observe, Isabella, that heard all which passed out in the verandah and if I may be permitted to form an opinion on the Bubjeet, I should say you were not annoyed at his saying too much " What do you mean, Sir ? Do you mean to insult me ?" " I mean what I say, but have not the remotest wish or intention to insult you and indeed, I think it very foolish of you to excite yourself as you are doing over nothing." " Nothing, indeed 1 Well, if you do not object to tho men saying all sorts of things to me, I don't see why I should. What ever they may say in future I won bother you about it, of that you may be certain." " I am not afraid of any of my friends saying anything to you that I should objuct to ; and now, as I think we have had quite enough of the subject, and as am not so strong as I might be, I think we'il drop it " J ust then Bowyer was heard humming an air outside, and presently he entered thu room from the verandah, observing. " Having a bit of a connubial coo all to yourselves eh ?" Then, as no answer was immediately forthcoming, he added " Regret waits closely on the hasty tongue." I don't know if any other fellow ever said that before, but it is 6uch a self-evident proposition, especially in the present case, that I wish he had, and my hearing too." " You are quite right, it would have been a good thing if be had !" said the lady frigidly, and then swept from the room in tragedy-queen style. Bowyer regarded hi6 friend with such a comical glance of inquiry that the latter could not help laughing out; but the current of htB mirth wae interrupted by a terrific bang of the door through which tbe lady had passed, upon which Bowyer altered his expression to one of intense

fright, which had the effect of Btarting his host into another fit of laughter, for which he would undoubtedly suffer in the next private interview with hie better half. " I am afraid my remark was not altogether apropoB just now," remarked Bowyer. " Well, it might have been happier, but never mind, there is no barm done. How about Heslop ?" " 0, he's out for the night, safe enough, and I don't see that anything can be done till morning. I have told Mrs Blowhard to bring in the horses from the horse gully, and Leak will go out on to the Wirracowie flat, BO we Bhall be sure of having news early ; but I hope Heslop will put in an appearance as Boon as they do." " If ho can't find his way home to-night I don't see how he will be able to do to-morrow morning," said Mr Ashby dubiously. " Weil, I begin to fancy he has got on the tracks of the mob of 6heep HawK-y says is missing from lirusher's flock ; and if he picked them up so far away that he could not get hero with them before dark he'd very likely make for some sheep yard and stop there till morning, camp them if he could not find one." " I hardly think he'd do that; he has not been up long enough." " 0, he 's clear grit, and would do things another new chum would not think of. The way he tackled the Odd Trick, though he knew beforehand what to expect, says a lot for him." " What doeB Hawley think ?" Bowyer gave his shoulders a significant Bhrug, but said nothing. " It is very strange ; but he seems have taken a strong dislike to Frank." ' Nothing very strange, I think. They are of such a totally different kidney that nothing short of the arrival of tbe millennium would make them run kindly in harness together." (To be continued.) to The Japanese war-ship, Dnebir-Kan, built in France, and manned and officered by Frenchmen, coaled up at Singapore in December last, and started for Yokohama —a 14 days trip. She has not arrived yet Insurance 1,250,000 dollars. The Intercolonial Chess Congress in Adelaide will commence on August and last a fortnight. Prizes in the senior tournament £120, first prize £50 and the Championship of Australasia ; in the junior tourney £37 will be given in prizes. TheChinese Imperial Commissioners will come over from Melbourne to the opening of the Jubilee Show. The Mayor of Gawler has been pre sented by the ladies of town with official

robes of gros grain silk trimmed with sable. Nomination day for the Council elections definitely fixed for June 22. Polling day in the Central District June 25, and in the Northern, July G. Newland returns from his inland expedition, and flatters himself that he knows more about the Transcontinental Railway u than any man in South Australia. The Director of the Adelaide Zoo. has turned loose a lot of New Zealand quail. France and Russia, object 6trongly to the Anglo-Turkish convention for th evacuation of Egypt. They buck at the re-occupation clauses. O'Brien, the Irish agitator, declines to chip in at a New York labor demonstration, because its promoters approve of dynamite and slang the Pope. California resolutes that no New Caledonian convictB shall be allowed to land in that State. The Queensland Treasurer informs partmental heads that this year's Estimates must be reduced. Ebenezer Ward is on the warpath again. He has dug up the tomahawk, and is going for the scalps of the Ministry on that coal contract matter. He wants to know, too what they have done to convince the British Government that an Imperial arsenal 6hould be established at Port Darwin, and who is responsible for the f-ite of the Penola station on the new Gnmbier line. Heavy snowfalls in the 60uth-east of New South Wales. At Kiandra the enow is a foot deep; but snow shoes are often in requisition during the winter at Kiandra. Great infanticide epidemic in Sydney. The railway contractors of New South Wales propose to give Lord Tom a picnic, becauss his father was one of their guild. The Victorian Government frank exhibits for the Adelaide Jubilee Show over their railways. Will South Australia reciprocate when the great Centennial comeB off ?