|Chapter Title||PHYLLIS BECOMES DEBTOR TO SMILEY.|
|Newspaper Title||Evening Journal (Adelaide, SA : 1869 - 1912)|
|Trove Title||Freebench. A Tale of South African Life|
PBYX.LI3 BECOMES DKBTOB TO SHILST.
The next evening Smiley called, and Phyllis, still bome down by grief, received him as a woman in distress receives the only Mend on whose aid she can rely. There was very little said, norWM there occasion for much. Her chief anxiety seemed to be the rescue of her husband from the degrading life into which be had been entrapped. ~ Do yon think anything could be done," she asked, "by seeking the intervention of the English authorities?'' Smiley shook his head. It could only be done by favour, he said, and not of right, and would require money ; the very thing that he and she were so much in want of. " If, however," he continued, " you fed it desirable to communicate with your husband, and recommend him at alt hanurds to desert from these bandits, and escape to English soil, I should recommend you to entrust a letter to a transport-rider, and give him a few pounds for his trouble." "I will give him all I have* said Phyllis, if he will bring back my husband; but is a few days more all that I have will be exhausted." I can introduce you to a trustworthy nan," said Smiley, "and if you will accept a few pounds es a loan from me, I place them at your service aa readily as if I were the owner of millions." 1 For such a purpose I hive no hesitation," she answered. " I should be neglecting my doty to my husband if I refused your kindness. I will repay you myself out ot the first property to which I am entitled." And Smiley handed her ten pounds, and went
off to fetch the transport-rider while Phyllis wrote her letter to Harry. She told him of the news received from home, and of her destitution and unhappiness, and implored him at all hazards to invent some device by which he might escape from the gang of brigands with whom he had been betrayed into associating himself, and return to the side of his-distressed wife. All this was acompanied by many endearing terms, and many expressions of an earnest desire for her husband's return, based not only on her love tor him, but on the disgust which was lavished by an enlightened colonial Press on tbe behaviour of his leader and bis brethren in arms. When the letter was finished Mr. Smiley returned with Mr. John Massinger, the transport-rider, who was going up with his wagon to Lydenburg. Massinger was a man of middle age and middle height, with yellow-brown hair and a tawny beard. He wore a very old felt hat, a light coat, and no waistcoat, and his trousers were held up by a belt with a leather purse at the side, in which he kept his timepiece and bis money. " This is the lady whose letter yoa will take," said Smiley. Massinger said he was happy to take anything. " I have explained to Massinger the position of Mr. Holroyd," said Smiley, " though, indeed, he knows it already. J. should not be so indiscreet as to ask to see your letter; but you will allow me to suggest that your wish that your husband should return at ail hazards should be concbtd in the most decided language." " I have done so," said Phyllis; " and do you think, Mr. Massinger, you will have any chance of seeirg my hnsband ?" " I have seen him before at Lydenburg," said Massinger; " and if he comes in again with despatches while I am there I shall be certain to see him again." " Then," said Phyllis, " my directions to yon are to give that into his own hand, and to urge him to escape by every argument in your power, and to favour his return. Here is ten pounds for you, and I think Mr. Smiley will teQ you that, if you are successful in bringing my busband out of the Transvaal, your reward will be trebled, and his passage paid as well." " Certainly," answered Smiley blinking," and you will earn tbe gratitude not only of this distressed lady, but of your old friend Luke Smiley." "All right,' said Massinger; "I start to-day and will do my best;" and, with the nearest approach to a bow possible with him, Massinger took leave. " I think," said Smiley, " I had better say a few words to him as to the best mode for carrying out our design." " Thank you, Mr. Smiley," and pray offer him any further reward that you think the means tbat will soon be at my disposal will admit of." So Smiley followed Massinger. " Now this is a very dangerous service that this young gentleman is in," Baid Smiley, when he had overtaken the transport-rider ; " and moreover the part of it which he has undertaken is the most dangerous of all. I do not see how, if he continues to perform his present duties, he can escape death sooner or later. The devolution of a considerable property will be altered by his death, and if such a misfortune should happen, and you can bring back evidence of it, you will be the means of saving much anxiety and litigation to a very worthy family. Of course," added Smiley, " if you should find him alive, and persuade him to return, and the Dutch should recapture him, it will be no fault of yours." Massinger brought himself to a stand-still, and stood facing Smiley when this speech was finished. u Now, look here," said the transport-rider, " do yon wish him to die; or, if be is alive, to be caught by the Dutch? Because—don't go puzzling a fellow." " I am not going to attempt to puzzle so f-brewd a man as yourself," said Smiley; " yon may guess my feelings towards a fellow who
has disgraced himself and his family by torniag filibuster; but, as a guide to your own conduct, I need only say that you may expect to be handsomely rewarded if you bring back evidence of Mr. Holroyd's death, such as a Court will act upon ; and*, to quote Mr. Dickens, yon may look to Codlin as tbe friend"—here Smiley pointed to himself—" and not Shortand Smiley jerked his thumb in the direction of Mrs. Faircraft's bouse. " I understand," said Massinger. " The best news for you will be that he is dead; and tbe next best that he has deserted, and the Dutch have caught him." And Massinger went off to take his wagon up tbe Town Hill, on his trip to Lydenbarg, white Smiley returned to Phyllis. " I have promised him a handsome rew&rd in the event of your husband's return." said he. " I expect to have the money in time, and from my own business; but, in case I do not, your signature to this document may enable me to raise the money so as not to break our promise to the man. You will see that I have worded tbe receipt so as to involve no liability until you have the money for payment." And he put before Phyllis the following document, and Phyllis signed it:— " Received of Mr. Luke Smiley ten pounds; and I undertake to repay that and aDy further sums that may be advanced for my maintenance, or for the return or safety of my husband, bat only when I shall be entitled to the possession of my father's estate of Earlstowe."