|Chapter Title||IT NEVER RAINS, BUT IT POURS.|
|Newspaper Title||Leader (Melbourne, Vic. : 1862 - 1918)|
|Trove Title||Nancy. A Story of the Fifties|
TALES AND SKETCHES.
NANCY. A STORY OF THE FIFTIES.
Br GEORGE GORDON McORAB, Author op "The Mae In the Iron Mask," &o.
riiTAPTER v.— It Never Rains, but it Pours.
' A very happy trio they made at tea under tho old bark root that afternoon. Tho conversation, though somewhat interjeotional in tho first instance, soon faogan to flow moro freoly, but Nanov— nerfectiv frank and fearless as she
was— had perhaps the least to say of any, the main ourrcnt of the talk on various topics, which ranged from mining nnd matters bucolio .to Borak inprovoments, boing duo moro to hor fatlior than to Max. True ! Max could talk a little, and talk well, about gold, and tried to mako tho most of a little store of knowlcdgo ; but while ho showed himself an intelligent listener, putting in a telling remark hero and an apt quory there, boat last lapsed into that con dition generally known as nbsenco of mind. John Arnold put it down mentally to the account of pain In tho wounded bridlo arm, but Nancy, who thought more of Max's poor arm than even her father did, showed by the tell talo blush upon her chcok as slio caught Max's oyo that sho felt whither his thoughts were dtifting, and Max, on receiving a return flash ot intelligence from tho luminous blue groy oyos, now flaming into porfcot sapphire, felt how futilo must be any appeal to him as an authority upon merely sublunary matters. It was not long in point of faot — how unconsoiou- nbly long, though, it seemed to Max, that sederunt .after tho despatch of tho latest onp of tea I Bat, at last, when John Arnold, leading the way, pushed back his ohair from tho table, Max oxporienoed
U> OUIIBIUIU iUliUi f wUt) vYiiGM VUUII .1I1IUIU liUU cheerily challenged him to a quiet smoke on tlio verandah ho felt moro rcliovcd than over, though Still dominated by a very natural dosiro for just two or throo quiet words alone with Nancy. That' was not to bo yot, but Max, looking bnckwnrd as he passed out of tho doorway, knew for certain that a pair of tho swoetcst bluo oyes in all creation was following his every move ment. They talked and they puffed, those two men out' thoro upon tho verandah, and Max by degrees unfolded his pnst, his present, and what he hoped was to be his future to his prospcotivo fathor-in-law. Ho told him when and how he had loft tho "old country," and what wore Ills prospcotshercintho police, but added, in satisfac tion of any doubts that might arise, the news of his being quite recently made heir to an unolo in England, who, being childless himself, and also rich, had determined to adopt bim. Thoy knooked tho nshos out of tboir pipes and oame hack into the house, both feeling more at ease now that all was known on both sideB. John Arnold took up a hook, whilo Nanoy and Max made beliovo to play at draughts, nnd oontinuod to tell each other much betweon the most extraordinary ' and erratic moves conceiv able. Tho old draught board was a capital neutral ground to moet upon, but while Max was congratulating himsolf on having Nanoy to himsolf- for tho entire evening, there comes a thunderous knocking at the door and thereafter ; the trio booamo a quartette and private- conversation, as a 'conse quence, .out of tho question. Tho course of true lovo' never did run smooth, and tho rule, alas ! was not destined to find nny very spcoial oxeeption in the eiise of Mux nnd Nanoy. Tho whole evening, as originally looked for ward to,, was spoiled, tho element of privacy vanishing altogether, whileordinnrygoad nature, or tho polltonoss instinctive in all good men and women, demanded that the visitor Bhould bo properly entertained. The slrangor that Max had wished at Jeriolio, or farther, was a rough diamond, a man thathnd a farm oh the othor sido of tho mountain, but staying in Borak for. the night ; and as. ho generally visited John Arnold whenever ho camo in to Borak; no ono could liavo attributed his visit as'moro curiosity, but, all tho Bamo, he was terribly " in tho way." It never rains but it pours : there is another knook at tho door, and here comes another visitor, loading a littlo girl by tlio hand. Sho. had no intontion of ooming farther than tlio door. "No I It was only a mcssogo for Nancy," "bat, submitting under protest to a little kindly pressure, she comes in with her daughter, fallowing. This addition to tho P?«y proved a rolief, ahdset Nanoy moro com pletely athor ease, and oIbo Max. Mrs. Brown, a sensible good natured woman (tlio wifo of a minor), wait- one of tho oldest friends tlio Arnolds had "on" Borirk, and "free of tho tho house; Slio assisted Nanoy in -get ting. '.-supper . ready, '.whilo, the mon talked together, audAIax-found- somo solabo in artless talk with tho littlo girl, whose ronnd, liouestfaco "'Ee.tf netful eyes reminded' liinvpleasantly land ' '0 onildren of his own country in Eug- JoIin Arnold filled tho.big clinirin the ohlra- ney corner, and filled it woll. ' " y early in tho summer, and the nights still sharp, so Nanoy had a nice clear fire iiurn- ing.on tho hearth of tho liugo bush chimney, : wmqli. imparted ah air of ohecrfnlncss to all the surroundings. , f '1? Pteparotions oompletod, Nanoy drow up i«ir i.i sl<Ie 11 18' Brown, who oconpied her- self with some knitting. Max had little Mary between Ins knees,' amusing himself with' her artless prattle as lie atrokod her head, while r!,ir A.rnol.d and Mr. Thorn, tho Nuggoty Littiiy minor, exohnnged notes on past doings in
tho history of' Borak Crook. Max' oould not ohooso . bht listen, and both Nanoy and ' Mrs. Brown dropped their work for a fow moments as thoy followed tlio thread of the story,' for Mr. Thom, sinking' the oonversationalist,"hird blossomed into tlio story teller. "You remember tho first fall, of course;' bo- low tho_ Femtreo Gully — where tho big boulders is, with tho Btill pot of blaok' water and tho scrub round it, not so for from whoro Wilson used to sot tho native dog trap? Woll ; that's tho place, and a place I nover oared for mysolf — so solitary-liko and solemn. I navor see duolc thoro, not oven a diver, but 'some-' times a bluo crnno that would stand susploious- like, with his long nook out nnd bis head all a.' ono side, considerin' what villainy ho would be up' to next. And then if you'd come >losor a bit he'd up and oil with a flop, his ncak carriod ourling right back over his orupper, and his two logs stuck out behind like the arms of a wheelbarrow. I novor liked them birds— to my mind, thero's something unlucky about them. Even if you shoot ono you'll find him thin and stringy and tough and oily and no ;ood to oat — just a cartridge throw'd awnjy dint's all. Anyway, that's my experience of orancs. , Cabbawn Billy aoz they've something to do with dibbcl-dibbol, nnd I beliovo ho's right. Them blnoks knows a lot moro nor you'd think, and when Marshall and Thomson found the inntiikin nnd the pistol and tho skull and arm loncs In thosornb there, blest if there wasn't one of them blue ornnos posted scntiy right over tho Bpot when they como up. "
"That man nover died of hunger neither," interjeotod John Arnold, "nover; ho'd a hole drilled clean through his bond, -and lie never didit himself. Wo nil agreed it was a ball from a oarbino or a musket, but never a pistol bullet.' Tho bolt was gone too, though they found tho pistol and the boots and all the olotlieshere and thoro in rags among tho bushes, and everyone that knowthe man know it was a belt with pockets in it, made just' to oarry. gold or olso money." ...... " Was it murder?" ojaoulated Mrs. Brown inquiringly, " Murder, ma'am ! Yes, and nothin' short of that ; but wo never got the man that done it yet." "There, sir," oriedMr. Thorn, warming to his subjeot, nnd turning towards Max ; " there's summot in your line. Now, if you was to got up thoro and seo tho spot for yourself, and then sot (on the quiet you know) ill the ' Borak ' over thoro for a bit every day, and, I say, yon might do worse than give a drink or two to Squinting Sam, ' the Flogollatorj the old Vandomonian. Sam might givo you the 'office,'" Max flashed up to tlio roots of his hair. The suggestion hit him all the hardorfor being made in the presonoo of Nanoy. " I am a soldier," said he, "not aOatolipolo. I belong to tho police in a way, but not in that way. I might, likely enough, havo a brush with the bushrangers in defence of the gold some day ; but for running in bad oharaotors, or setting traps to oatoh criminals, I have had nothing to do with that, and novor will." "Well, no offonco meant, Hergcaht!" rejoins Mr. Thom, stroking his grisly beard. "OfoourBe escorts might bo different, but I mind a man in town once— ono of tho Collins-street men— you know tho Collins-street men, sir, of course, all blue and silver and lace and buttons, with waxed murstarsners and shiny belts, and aa many reins and chains to ono bridlo as would serve any threo of my horses — chaps with cloaks, and holster pistols and caps cockod a one sido of
tlio bond, pips clayed gloves and sometimes a bit of scented ankercher stiokin out betweon the hooks and eyes of tho breast of bis jacket. Well it was ono of these obaps standin outside a tailor's door in Collins-stieet, and looking up and down as if tho whole placa belonged to him, when up comos a man as wanted . to seo whether ho aouldn't give him something : to do." "Conic along,' sez he, 'thore's an old woman in liquor lying agin the kerb ronnd the eorner. I wants you to lend a hand- and fetch hor to tho lookup. ' - " The Collins-streot man, a regular silver laos oadet, mind you, refused liim with a impereht stare and a big oath. 'You wait a bit,', sez tlio man, ' while I goes and sees a matoliystraiglit about this ; and with that ho outs and runs, but afore ho oame baok the oadet was out - of sight. So he lost the chance ofprovlnhis case, but that same man told mo that tho matohystraight advised him that for all his Bilver lace ho was only a constable and bound to tako up folks just the same as other constables, Max smiled, for lie ' knew the cadet' personally and had heard tho story from.hia own lips ; and smiling added that in tho cadet's place he would have refused too. " Well, . no offence, sergeant, . you : ain't a oadet, anyhow." "No," replies Max, "but I have been, and tliat.raan was an old comrade of my own. They have taken away the dragoon iraiform from us, but it isn't tlio uniform alone that goeB to mako the soldier." ; Nancy, -who had been regarding Max's- eoun- toimnoo during this littlo passage of- arms, thought ho looked the soldier all over, and felt proud, to think ho was a polioeinan .- only in name. . John Arnold turned tho conversation with somo very trivial-remark, which nnswerod the purpose bettor than nny sot spoooh, nf tor which tliero was talk enough, and pleasant talk, too, in whioli everybody oould join and did join, with plenty of laughter and merriment as the evening wore on.
; Itwas past 10 o'clock by the solemn, time- pieoo in the passage when . the guests rose to go. . The : moon . at tho full batliod the whole landsoape in Iter silvery glory as John Arnold walked down to the garden gate,. Max rose oIbo, but did not immediately follow. Had nnyorie boon left behind lie might havo behold Nanoy with her shapely head leaning on Max's shoulder, as with ono fair and beautifully rounded arm about bis nook bIio murmured, " I am so glad, my own Max, that you're hot a policeman." What further followed must be left to tho unaided imagination ; but Max did not finally tako his loave until ho had promised to come over early next day, which being Sunday, they could all go for a littlo exoursion to the Sassa fras Gully. When Max got to tho gate, John Arnold was there leaning out over it contompluting the moon-silvered landscape, and . smoking con tentedly, as; if lio had no thought of going in any more. 1 . " I do like sometimes to be out of doors when the moon is up." " And bo do I," ories Max. - "Butnot always,", rojoiucd John Arnold, with an amused smile,'' ... With a hearty good night and n slap on tho shoulder by way of benediction, Max took his dopartnro, and marched along at tho ."quiok " towards the house of the Oraolo, .who was anxiously expeoting him. . ' (to be continued.) ''