|Newspaper Title||Leader (Melbourne, Vic. : 1862 - 1918)|
|Trove Title||Nancy. A Story of the Fifties|
TALES AND SKETCHES.
NANCY. A STORY OF THE FIFTIES.
BY GEORGE GORDON MoCRAE, Author of "The Man In the Iron Mask,"&o,
OHArTEll VII.— ADDIO.
In tho garden behind, and not far from tho bco hives at tho end of tho long wall;, stands a summer house overgrown with passion flower anil convolvulus — a pretty ootagonal structure In rustio wood work, with scats set against tho
latticed walls, ana a control supporting pino springing from the middle of a circulnr table. It is into this arbor that Max follows Nancy, who carries a, flower pot containing some plant supposed to bo unusually delioatq or prooioua. Not for tho first timo is it that ono of those verduro olad garden shelters has witnossed a treaty. binding on the generations of tho future, and tiiis partiouldr arbor hail beon dostinod (who .shall attompt to dony it?) from tho begin ning of timo. to attost. Bilcntly to n life long compact between two certain ardent young souls that wo.wot of. "Tlioro is no disguising tho fact —(thus Mar, leading- off)— ''I --havo to start to morrow and get into the saddio again di- reotly, .'and you and I shall not soo oaoli other
again lor-.-mimviiH, w.aup. whuu . repass with, my troop, and then only with a glance over the shoulder. It is hard, terribly hard, Nancy ; but we can write sometimes." "Indeed, -I am not so sure of that neither ; but I will tell you of it again. Surely, Max I you cannot ho for ever bumping along on that hard high saddle with the heavy sword always in your hand. You must givo it up ; it would really plenso dud so mueh — and me, too ; and then somo day, when your rich uncle makos you his hoir . in earnost, you need not ride ovor these dusty and dangorouB roads any more. I do so wish you never bud to —only " " Only what, Nance ?" " Only that olso I had never seen you. Only that if you had not turned escort officer we. had never, met at all. . But when I hear .tho horses' feet'and tho rumblo of the escort waggon and the clank and olnttor of the troop, n now. life seems to opon up before mo. Tho yellow burnt up flat and the withered gum ' trees aro no longor sad. I am another girl altogether. My heart goes out— right out— to yon, but it faints and dies away again in my breast once
you are poBt, and there iHonly a little dust aloud left floating on the air after you hnvo turned tho corner and seem lost for over." " Oh, Nance, if I had only but known tho half of this wo should have had an empty saddle in tho troop long ago ; but a man must livo, yon know, - anil keep, himself straight and re spectable." "Yes, of eourse that— father often admires the way yon stiok to it— but, Max, I ilo wish your unolo would make haste. Ho need not givo you everything all nt onco, you know, but, still, ho might help you just a little to begin with. Indeed, if no does not I: have a dread, I cannot tell yon how deep n dread it is, of something happening tliot may part us altogether. You know, Max, . I don't caro for money, nover did ; I don't .want to ho a grand lady, I' could' bo"n"f!entloman's wifo without that. I would lovo to bo poor nlong with j'ou, end-Iwouhl never be'too proud to work to help you." : : "Heaven, forbid, both ways," orles Max, reddening hnd giving n fiercely nervous twirl to onri'of tiio ends of his moustaoho. " Who is it that my little girl suspeets, or what?" " . "I don't suBpeot auybody, doar I but I know my fathor worlds better than yon onn. It is bceaiiso he loves mo so muoh, and leans on mo so now mother is gono, that ho cannot boor mo' to stay: away evon for a singlo night at any of tile neighbors' plnccs. And I know from what.ho has ..hinted that, if you ore to bo always with thocsoortor in tha force, ho wou't hear any thing fuvthor about it, and I feel certain ho will break tho engagoment off for us. Unless, as he says, I am properly provldod for and protected. Now, don't think ill of him for this, bub remem ber, -it Is what fathor says, and not what I say."- " He doesn't want you to go 1 home.' Why can you not stop out hero ?" ' V As for me, fathor says I am not meant far a grand lady, and that I shall bo far happier out here. ' 'This idea I cannot hear, tho idea of his livjiig and dying nil alone. Now, I am telling you- all, so that yon may know how to meet fathor.. Only, Max dear, don't loso your toinpor with him if ho ' flies out,' ne ho might. Try for my "sako to tako it quietly." "Stupid, that I ami" exelaimed Max, "I should . liavo thought all this out long ago." So saying with a perplexed air, hotwisto d his moustaoho as if ho could wring somo fresh idea out from tho very end of it. "Tho proper thing to he done is to put off at first and so gain time. You don't know porhnps,
Nanco, how long it takos to got word from 'homo'— four months ono way and from three to four tho other — that stands for letter and reply, nnil then people don't nlwnys answer at oneo. But, loavo it all to me. I'll writo homo this vory night and toll my unele exaotly how wo aro situated. "Tell him what?" "Why ! teli him that I find mysolf anchored hero stem nnd storn, with no thought or wish of getting away from Australia for years, that I cnine hero after I sold ont to gather gold, and that I havo found n pearl ! Beyond all this, that if ho will, but wait a little, ho shall find that ho has nn Australian niece, sweotor, fairor, dearer, better ovory way than any woman in all onr own country put togothor. Ho lovos mo not a Iittlo, that old unole of mine, so that I ean readily ask him to let us have enough to help us along oomfortably whero wo arc." "Yes, Max, tlmt sounds well, but never mind about singing my prnisos ; ho plain spokon oml straightforward with him. Toll lilm I am not'a lady; say that my father Is a carpenter anil poor— not terribly poor, you know — but not like ono of yoursolvos in any way, oxoopt porhnps that ho loves books and tnlkn woll, and knows'a lot bositles about overytbing. Do you tbink, dear, that would make liirn hate us) and try to lure you away home again and make you forgot us, and marry you to a real lady of somo grand family?"- : "I roally don't sco why it should, little woman, and I shall tako good care to let him know I am in earnest, and in no hurry for any thing suvo to win and to wear you. Trust mo, darling, entirely." , ' ' . As if I ilid'nt, Max 1 I do trust you with all my heart and soul, but I shall bo .anxious (no ono but myself could toll Aoio anxious) till the answer comes, nnd I hope father will always ho tho aamo to you till tlion. Shall I say any thing to him to-night, or shall I loavo It all to you nnil to timo?" " It seems," replies Max, sadly, "a torriblo risk to run, for, by opening my mouth- now, I may lose you altogether, but if I waitod on I might still eomo to see you sometimes. Shall I speak to your father, Nance." "Yob, I think yon might. Ho porhnps might lilrA If VtAffass nifnn flmrt if nnmSnff iVfiTTI ITIP. TTo
won't be either oross or rude to you, Max ; I promise you that beforehand." " Not mdo ! I don't think that for a momont ; but, ho might deoide onoe and for all— and it would not surprise mo in the least did be doeido that wc wero not to meot again till I came with my uncle's letter in my hand." 44 He has o great regard for you, Max, nnd I know ho would expect you to show a bold front. Try htm, Max, and then I will follow it up as I best know how." Chapter viil— Amicus Crutch. "Noo ye'ro jecst gnun till tell the unele that ye're nboot gcttin' mairit on .the lassie? Atweel ! 4 ho that maun tan Cupar, maun tan Cupar,' but it was tho enek botel an' pen an' a bit paipcr yo wore speirin after. I'll just oen lay them a' oot tao ye on tho table in Igss tiino nor ye'll Bay Jnok Robinson. " , It is tho "Oraole" that speaks, and tho "Oracle" that figuratively "lays tho table,?' which done ho resumes his pipe and sits down on a short threcdegged stool beside, the big bush chimney. r.v.- t ; " Noo ! I'll nae taak off it's intcrrnp'in' ye ; but gin ye're ono o' thorn like Boneyparty that oan diotato to sax seokytairins ataxics, or that taaka whiles as he scarts alang wi' hU pen, we'll liao a bit craok by'tho wye." Max, who by tills time had dated and headed his opistlo and was on tho point of plunging in Dicdias res, nodded as he bent over the inblc to tho offoob tlmt conversation would not make the aiightost difforcnce. » 11 I've been thiukin', Mr. Max,, that it makes hut little odds whether ve write or no in , this
laiter stage o' tho warld'B hcs9tory." "Uinph!" mumbles Max, " Of.courso tho world grows nono the younger but why, yoji should bo everlastingly preaoh the end '6f nil things is more than I can mako;out.: Tho world improves. It is a vastly better » place for us than it was in Julius Csesar's time in Britain." . ' r . "That, I'm free tno admit. ! We're owro ceoveeleezed, that's it ; that stans (yo ken) for a coming deoadonco, wi' a decline and fa',' like that o' the Asseerian or Romman Empire, nn', when Brottondeolines, itstans for this, that. tho world declines, an' the end ixao that, far off neithor. ' Max, who is still scribbling, wears a somewhat confused expression of countenance, but he drives on bravely i ' ' : '"There nro signs o' the times, .sir, no to. bo contemmed, aividencea o'- that rank luxury iu a' tliodopairtmonts o' life, suoh prccoesoly as were wutnossed nforo the foonal. collapse o' Impsrml Rome. Jlorak, sir, istoppliu'tUl her fa'. There's Wilson that hocht tliao coamor blocks noist the Speecial Survoy, no eon taint wi tho guid anid fnishent plough wi' . tho wooden stilts, an' the
canty mowld boord, wi twa or threo -yocic ot decent oaxen, has gotten a bit machinery t wad doave ony Jioncst fairmer till .unncrstnan, .let alane use, wl' wheels till'b nn chains an what not. Ho'll bo for : gottin' . a steam engine neisb thing to work .it. r. Yon's the soicnoo . bogie ! . But,' ;'., sir, .tao- turn to tho unseemly luxurious element, ; I ana doon at the general atoro but yestreen a machine to baud a wumman's held. .No a halt, an' no a banuct, but jecst an assemblbgb- o things frac foroign pairt, robbens, lacc9, strong, gowdep an' gless beads ' an'- a bunohrcid chert is bawlanoin on a senglu wire; awsorne. to bobold ! lWao tao the wecmon,' .criod tho Prophet, that sow pellows until their airm'-holes 1' Hut what think yo wad thou Prophet line said had hc beon onnly brocht cheek by jowl wl' tho. machine in tho wundy o' tho Borak Geucral Store down byo, my mnnnie." . . , 41 Il'm, yes," intorjeots Max purely out of politeness, 44 but look here old maw, I shall be putting down something about the ; Assyrian Empxro hero if I don't tnke care, or. somo quota fcion from tho old testament, but nover mind, it doesn't matter a fig sinoo I have.to writo it all over again, anyhow, and then, you know, I can score out everything that doesn't.- belong to . it along with tho blunders." 44 I'm rale soary. sir, I!il jec.»t haud my peaco and liao a hit smokk whilo yo continny; but, ye'll mind, sir, we'll tak up the subjuclc jeost whaur wo dropit it, that's tao say at the Prophet." ' , „ AVith an amused smile at tho1 Oraolos pertinacity, Max drove on again, and this time to far bettor pnrposo, Mr. Thomson tho whilo evolving from between his lip's vast wreaths of smoke whioh curled upwards towards the blaokencd rafters and ridgo polo of the bark Max rattled along, wrote, rowrolo and at tempted correotions. . . . Envelopes were not 44 on " Borak in those days ; but tho letter, written on squnro largo. blue. pnpnr, wns soon folded into tho orthodox shape (letter andcovor in one) and roady (presumably ready) for sub mission to Nancy before posting. "Now, Mr. Thomson,"oxolnimedMax, crushing up his first attempt in the hollow of his strong right hand, provious to pitching it into tho empty fircplaco and applying a match to it, 11 That s 8C" Atweel oonacdderfc letter I liao nao doot, but ch, man, yo sorabblo gey an fast, as ef yo'd beon bred a writer till her Majesty's signet, and no a sojer. Ye'll be for gaun oot the noo. an
it's no Jock Tamscn '11 stop yo. I wass yo joy, an that yo may mailt tho hoart o' tho unole liko waax, an mowld it till ycr wall like tho potor's vaissol. But when it's a' aff yor mind an ye oome back again till a plpo an a gloss whusky tody, wo'll con rcshoom oor tank on the Deoliue an Fa' o' Borak." Chapter IX.— Submitted for Approval. ' And you'vo told your undo that I'm not a lady I" 44 Not a fiddlestick ! Nance, I'vn told him nothing of tho sort. How could you even ox poet mo to writo such rnbbish V "Show mo then what you really have said. You know wo must havo no sccrots from ono another." So saying she pulled the letter out of Max's pookot, but not nntil after some little affeotation of resistance on his part. That what Nancy road wns neither displeasing nor uncomplimentary was evident from tho rising oolor on lior ohcok and tho gentle light in her eyes.; bnt there was quite boyond this a look of porplexity and puzzlcdoin proper to ono reading an enigma. "What is this about Borak toppling to its fall,' and tills othor sentcnoe, 4 Sho is all that I have painted her, and more ; her bonnet is orna men t uil with feathers and beads, ami a bunch of cherries suspended from a single wire.' " "What," oxolaimod Max, blushing all over in his turn— 44 Why I I thought I had scored out all that nonsenso beforo I copied it ont fair." 44 Scorod it out 1 But how did you ever oome to writo it In at all? Your unolo will think I nin some mad oroaturo you havo pioked up? Really, if I did not know you, I should think you had gono pcifootly orazy yoursolf." "Or," interrupted Max, 44 that I had had more than was good for me before I sat down to write ?" "Well, it does look voty strange, and it's so uuliko yourself." "Ah ! you don't recogniso tho solemn stylo of our friend Mr. Thomson. He was talking and talking and talking very earnestly and steadily whilo I was engaged upon tho letter, and as you may sco now all that part of tho letter whioh is
not mino is nones c. oouu xuomsou s, xo serves mo right, too, beoauso I was concoitod enough to imagine that I could both listen to his learned lcoture and write my letter at one and tho snme time. And now the murder is out give mo the lettor to take to my room, nnd I'll hunt John Thomson out of it wherever I find him, and, mind you, writo it all over again, except whero I score tho lines through. AIL the rest is beauti ful and true——" " Only you llattor my picture too much." Never!" cries Max, "I havo hardly done you justice, and,?' lie added, with a connoisseur liko turn of the head, " I think I ought to be a good judge by this timo ; trust mo for that." 41 It yon hnd only shown this letter— as it in to father, instead of to mo, what would lie ever -have thought?" "Well, I can't tell yon. Ho might have both thought and said that letter writing was the last thing in the world in whioh tlie police excelled." 44 He might have thought and said more than that, and asked whether the letter had not been writton after supper." "And natural enough too, if lie hnd $ but as you are not really in earnest, I shall not punish yon this time, you young gipsy 1". - The letter is rewritten, this time with correct ness, and Naney approves it, though still pro tcstingly. 44 1 do wish yon hadn't made me so good and ho beautiful and so lovable, for I feel cortain your nncle. will he oil the more disappointed whon he sees mc, if ever ho docs." (to br continued.)