Chapter 196897273

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Chapter NumberXV
Chapter TitleA RECOVERY.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article196897273
Full Date1892-10-01
Page Number37
Corrections0
Word Count2625
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleLeader (Melbourne, Vic. : 1862 - 1918)
Trove TitleNancy. A Story of the Fifties
article text

TALES AND SKETCHES,

NANCY. A STORY OF THE FIFTIE8.

Bv GEORGE GORDON McCRAE, Author of "The Man In the Ikon Mask,"&o;

Ml Chapter XV.— A Recovery.

"When the good news that Max wan alive had been duly communicated to John Arnold by ourold' friend the " Oraole," ,t pr.d tced in him almost tho effec of aaoiinter shook. In fact, as lie himself is reported to have said long after wards in referring to what bis feelings bad beon on this occasion,- "I 'don't know' which news

affected mo the most, the good or the bad. I had become resigned to the death of Max after the first few days, and when I heard that be was alive , and . strong and happy it seemed snob a strange thing, altogether;' but when . Max himself came in to Bee mc, I felt then almuab as if I had soon a ghost, but, . I soon recovered myself, and whilo I thanked God for his deliverance, I set about ilireolly to discover how bast to break the news to Nanoy and so restore her to iier former solf. But' this I was unable to compass for a very long time.". It is to John Thomson that I am indebted for the reminisoonoo that I have already quoted so far, nnd I shall continuo the sense nt all events of Ills narration, but I shall clotho it in my own wordB for n few linos yet further. "It was n pcoulinr feature in Nancy's oaso that she shed no tears ; site had talked, and sung, and laughed, it is true ; but all in a maimer that served to convinoe mo of the hollowness of hoc gaiety. I was compelled to restrain her on dif ferent occasions from wandering away out into the bush, and oneo (it wns a terribly trying timo for mo) she esoaped from me altogether, nor was it until after a long and nnxious search that I found tier at last lying faco down among the grass close to the 'sourco' in tho Sassafras Gully, with some newly gathered flowers in one of her olenohed hands. When she anmo more to herself the ruling idea was uppermost— instead of turning the conversation, I chimed inwitlihor and apoke of Max as still living,, in faot wo talkod about, him all tho way homo. Whenever opportunity offered I spoke of him, and alwayB as of a living' man. Her reason wliioli wan only shaken, not fled, asserted itself, for she reproached me with, attempting to decoivo her, hut when I asserted that it was possible wo had both boon deceived she appeared more than half oonvinced— as welt as erry for what sho had said. I watohed again for a fitting' opportunity, and, following up the advantnge I had already gained, undertook to produoo Max to her alive and well within a - week's time. Sho saw now that thorc was no , deception, sho flung herself on myncok, Bobbing, ; found relief in a natural flow of tears, and from ' that moment her cure was assured. She was the old Nunoy again, and ii load was lifted from my heart." As for mo, who writo this, I am no dootor, and I confess myself n profound ignoramus in tho treatment of all diseases, physical and mental ; but for all that I feel assured instinotivoly that John Arnold knew what ho was talking about wlion ho asserted that Nanoy's euro was thorough and complete. Nanoy's. Inugli was now ..natural, her stop elastic, her interest in household matters, in tho garden, in hor bees and hor flowers, all that it had over. been. Hor's was as' veritable a rosurreotion as that of Max' himself, nftor whioh what reason to say inoro in the present chapter? : oiiapten XVI., and Last.— All's Well That . Ends Well. Max and Nanoy were happily: married at last; but it it was not "on"Borak. Truth compels us in limine to confess this much,: for thore. were no decora tions on the wedding day in tlio chapel off the long main street, Tho village children were not thero to peer in at tho ceremony through tlio half open . doorway, not Maria and Ohnrlotto, tho blacksmith's twins, not little Olara Brown with tho big bluo eyes and flaxen yollow ringlets, nor indeed any other of the younger folks " oil " Barak. The "Oracle" was not thoro with a dubiouasmlloonhishonostcountonnnco.noratrito romark tonoliing " mairyin nor given in mairngo l thao laitor days o' the warkl's heostory." Nor yet the redoubtabio Mrs. Downos, of the goncral storo, with upturned eyes and arms extended in Well aotod horror at tho awful iUnoucmcnt. The wedding, a very quiet ono, took plaoe actually in Molbourno, at St, Potoi's, on tho hill— St. Poter's as it appeared before tho stucoo. Nanoy was given away by hor father, in tho shirt collar and costume of tho period. Thero to woro no bridesmaids, but Max himself, offeo- lively supported by an old hrothor-oadot, a whiloin lieutenant of Austrian cavalry, . wont through tho ooromony with tho same earnestness ami determination whioh marks the old sorvloo nan all tho world over; and, as John Arnold

(parked aftorwards, "exactly as ho meant I who writo tills was not mysolf at tho wed ding, nor, indood. did I fignro at tho breakfast whioh followed. I thorcforo trust I may bo forgiven a fragmentary description received at second hand from ono that was. : Max had shortly bufore tho event whioh crowns our simple story rotiroil from the foroo. His unole. had been as good as his word, and thus, furnished with .ample means, Max had no dread for the future. As for John Arnold, lie, too,. had .found tho sweet reward of years of toil and .trouble. Tho old Borak home was broken. up, though it cost him a severe struggle to , part with tho pinco, considering ail the associations wliioh had c'lidonrcd it to him and his during so many momorablo years. But there certainly did remain this ooiisolation— lie was nover to ho partod from his daughter, who as sho advanced in years only sorved to remind him more nnd moro of tlio oarlier Nanoy who had found her rest in the little God's note among tho hills at Borak. : To bo brief, Max, after a visit witli his now mado bride to his uncle in England, settled down to station life on a property ho had acquired in the Western district, whore a now and most beautiful garden grew into being under Nanoy's constant and loving supervision, nnd whero lie himself was enabled to indulgo in his tasto for stable building, for horses and for horsomanship to the full. ; It was my privilege to visit the happy family oil sovcrnl occasions after their thorough astablishinont on tlio soil, and I not only always came away tho better for it, but I seemed some how to recognise in the old world fragranco of the garden the very air and associations of the older Bornk. I misssd "Darkio," it is true, among other friends and. aoquniritnneos, but for all that I found "Gnythorne " (ns Nancy had named tlio place) simply perfection. Tils house was large, hut without preten sion, roomy, with dcop verandahs all round, a veritable bungalow, with garden surroundings. Tho most was made of everything, and the garden nooks abounded in all . sorts of protty contrivances, latticed sorcous and arbors, rustic clmirs and scats, rook work overrun with caotus and houseioek, stands for beohivos, bowers over, hung with matted oonvoivulus and Virginia creeper, while actually singing, rejoioing on it's way botween sedges and moss-grown boulders, was a little never- failing stroam whose original course Max had succeeded in turning nnd divert ing thither. The forest around it was denser and riohcr than any about Borak, ,, in short, ono found his way out of the gnrden right into tlio wild bush. Thero woro no noighbors nearor than six miles, and, as Max did not shoot nbout the homestead, birds and wild animals abounded. Tho parrots and magpies wore quite at home in the garden, whilo the little olivo green bell birds (boll birds aro a tradition nowadays), bathed boldly in tho garden rivulet aud mado all the air melodious with their silvery oliimes. The live coal robin and the azure warbler hopped gaily about til walks, perilled ou llie (orders, and not infrcquontly oven invaded the verandah. A veritable feast of air, light, color and frag- grnnce, so it was to me. I still adhere to my old fashioned notions, nnd I find myself so dis tinctly loyal to my traditions, to post times an 1 friends, and their influences, that I take 'ea-'e to doubt whether nature, very muoli assistid by money and art, can ever bo the same with primaeval nature suffered to follow her own sweet will after being guided gently in certain directions..' ' I. have carried away with mo among sundry other liappy momories of Gaythorne tho recol lection of : certain pioturos on tlio wall of the b'reakfnstroom.': A young Max in a scarlet coat, sash and epaulettes (the epaulettes will fix the period for you), and an older (but still young) Max in the elegant bluo and white and silver light cavalry uniform of tlio old cadet corps ; between those two piotures, a remarkably happy likeness of Nnncy horself taken during her visit to England ; hut there was yet a living and happy and sponking likeness in tlio fnoc and figure of an arob, 'naive little follow, who, pos sessing (as he undoubtedly did) tho better traits of both his parents, reminded mo in the most wonderful manner of both Max and Nancy. The paternal instinct wns strong in him as I last saw hini bestriding John Arnold's walking stick and leading a wild imaginary cavalry aliargb at a touring pnee down ono of tho walks of . tho garden. Max is distinotly repeated in this urchin, but if be favors his fathor(as the ROBsips have it), he is equally distinctly his mother's boy, and that means a whole world. I hover revisited Borak, preferring always to think of it as it used to bo in tho days of the gum trcos and the earlier gold fever, the esoorts, tho bushrangers and King Oobb, of the Arnolds and the "Oracle." In fact, I thought of Borak as I onco ohoso to think of a vory dear friend of my youth, soparatcd from mo for ovor by a chain of iron clroumstanoes and 16,000 miles of tlio mountain and valley series of ocean billows. "Don't send mo your photograph, mon clier ; and I promise you absolutely never to send you raino; let us tliink of eaoli other always as the boys we were," &o. But, I found myself disillusionised one day by an injudicious friend, who presented me with a sun portrait of an elderly man with markod lines ou his faco and a grizzled moustaoho. I became interested, painfully so, as wo wero boys of an age. My own amor propre was also touched, for long oustom lmd familiarised me with tho faco that presented itself to mo in tho glass every morning as I shaved myself. AVIiatovor ohonge I may havo experienced was thus gradually robbed of inoro than half its terrors; but when I oamo to regard myself in tlio glnsB Bgain aftor the adventuro of tiiat photograph, I know myself for an old man, quito as old as my dear old comrado, and with a moustaoho quite as frosted and grizzled as his. Apropos, I have my Borak rocollootions upset by another nnoieut colonist of tho "Forties." It is matter of history, so perhaps the reader will bear with me as I tag on here a part of his lettor, whioh will onablo us to finish whero we began, that is to ray, "on" Borak. It is simply a oaso of "look on this pioturo and on that I was riding lazily through Borak tho other day, pondering over old times as I jogged nlong with all the well known landmarks rising one by ono before me — the ctornal hills, rngged and sun smitten as of yore, tiie ancient and turbiil oreok of evil omen still crawling through tlio valley like a wounded snake. Most of the trees, I observed, anil nearly all the underwood had disappeared ; indeed, I seriously questioned as to whothor thero might be any timber loft oven in tho Sassafras Gully. Wood is brought in from a distanoe to supply fuel to the furnaoos of tho stamper batteries, but oftcnor with a horse and cart than tho good old fashioned dray with its long toam of bullooks. Borak to-day is like ono vast ant heap, populated by human pismires. Earth and miilloak, sand and tailings, pilod lip in all dirootions. Wind- lassos and poppot heads, flag poles, tall ohiin- noya, sliods and tents of ovory possiblo pattern, besides numbers of lioiulesoript shanties of shoot iron nnd onnvns riso liko so many ghosts nhovo tlio billowy soeno. Thoro 1ms boon a ' rush ' Iiore, whioh will aoooiint for the won- drone metamorphosis. " Tho main street continues to be one sided. Mr». Dowiioii'n' gonornl storo has been replaced , by a smart two-story orootlon in rod brlok.

Thore is a brand now post office of painted wood, also a stout blue stone looknp and quite a re spectable police station. Tho old churoh is now n Sunday Bohool, and there aro no fewer than five churches or dispels on the flat, where a travel ling circus is now enonmpcil. The old Bornk Hotel is n thing of tho past, and in place of that rowdy,- ill favored and unsavory house of oall for the ooaoliea, wo have a large inn with a parte coehlre and an inscription in huge block letters of blno'nntl gold running right across its faco from end to end, the " Governor Baikly Hotoi." Between this and where the old black smith's forge used to. bo (of course, you rcmemher 'the twins !') I sought (but in vniu) for John Arnold's old aottngo and Nanoy's lovely garden. In plaoe of tho oottngo.with its rustic greybnrk roof and winking windows, I discovered a severe angular structure, with a new roof of coirugatbd iron, and a must aggressive looking spiky llninl on tlio rod leaded gable overlooking tlio road ; tlio garden, n wildorness and worse, littered all ovor with broken bottles, Borap metal and out cast sordino tins pit is ocoupicd by a tinsmith, hut the music of his hammering is n pour ex change for the long smooth ' k'ssli ' (that you onoe taught mo how to spoil) of good old John Arnold's jack plane, A galvanised iron bucket witli an iron handle stood by the door, and tho l'oninins of eomo rod-rusted iron mnohinory blocked ono end of the verandah, while a woman with rusty rod hair and an iron physiognomy,- oooupicd the doorway, with both nrinB akimbo. ItwasnBhook ooitainly, but that soon passed when I remombcrcd that at Gaythorne, Max and Nanoy and John Arnold lmd not only revived all that was onoe beautiful in Borak, hut had added to these, other and rarer beauties, sueli as tho older homo with all- its lovolinnss had never possossod." ' Hero the extract closes, and hero the writer with nil tlio slow reluotanoo of one taking lonvo of old and familiar frionds, draws tlio curtain across the scene, and gratefully bids the render who has followed him thus far, a respectful fare well. Tns end.