|Chapter Title||A Bicycle Built for Two.|
|Newspaper Title||The Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 - 1939)|
|Trove Title||More about Misrule|
MORE ABOUT MISRULE.
CHAPTER V.—A Bicycle Built for Two.
By ETHEL TURNER.
They were at the bicycle shop exactly an hour before the man opened it and prepared for the custom of the day. Perhaps, had he known there was a nine-pound cheque burning
a would-be customer's pocket just outside, he night have hastened himself a little more. The boy and girl employed the interval in looking through the glass window, which for- tunately had no blind, and examining the various machines standing within. To Bunty's intense relief his marvellous bargain, the Fle- foot, stood just in the same spot it had stood in for the past month, and its fly-spotted price card still hung to its handle-bars. " I've been in no end of a funk all night thinking some one might have gone in after Pip," he said. "There was a fellow there when I was in yesterday afternoon, and he looked at it several times." " But you could have had one of the others," consoled Poppet; "took, there's one in that comer, only eight pounds, and it's a much prettier colour. Why didn't you choose a nice red one, Bunty, instead of that plain black?" " Just like a girl," said Bunty; " you'd buy it for its colour, and never look to see if any- thing else was right. That one happens to have worn-out tyres, and is very low gear. Just look at my little beauty beside it—there's as much difference as between an elephant and a swan." " Oh," said Poppet, pressing her nose very close against the glass, " wouldn't I love one ! Fancy going flying down Red-hill with your feet up like Pip docs. O—o—o—oh, wouldn't it be lovely ! That little red one up in the corner, yes, that would just do for me. And when you went out I could come too, and we could race everywhere." " You !" said Bunty; " you're too young, of course. And you wouldn't be game to get on one. It's not as easy as it looks." " It's pretty easy," said Poppet. " Why, you've never tried in your life," cried Bunty. Poppet had the grace to blush somewhat. " You needn't say anything about it," she said, and looked carefully round as if to make quite sure her eldest brother was not within earshot, "but once or twice when Pip's left his at home, and no one's been about anywhere, I've had a go on it." "Then it must have been you who made those scratches," said Bunty, gazing at her. "No," said Poppet, "because I looked 'tiou- larly every time it fell to see if I had hurt it, but I was on the grass, and there's nothing to scratch it there." " And you mean to say you actually got on to the thing!" ejaculated Bunty, staring at her with new ayes. " Oh," said Poppet, modestly, " I had to try a good many times first. I kept mounting from the garden seat—it's a lot easier than getting up like you do." "But you mean to say you stuck on it?" cried Bunty. Poppet was nothing if not strictly honest. " I fell off a lot of times first," she said, " and I got a lot of bruises, but the third day I went twice round the grass near the stables. I'd have gone three times only I kept looking up at the house to sea if Pip was home, and it made me tip over." Bunty gazed at her admiringly; more than this he could not manage himself. Then he looked through the window and viewed the little red machine. " Perhaps," he said, hopefully" you could write a letter to the pater like I did, and he might get you one.' But Poppet shook her head sadly. " What could I say it would save ?" she said. " I only go to school in the nursery. Oh, no, I'll never get one, of course—l'm not thinking of it, only sometimes when you see any one go spinning past with their feet up, you feel as if your breath goes you want it so." Here the man opened the door and Bunty cannonaded inside, and rushed up to feel that the Fleetfoot was actually steel and india- rubber, and not a delightful but unsubstantial dream. The man did not take vary much notice of him beyond wishing him a cheerful good-morning; the boy had hung about the place for over a month on his way to school, each day gazing with loving eyes at the nine-pound machine— he was not to know this particular day was marked bright red in the calendar. "Not gone yet?" said Bunty playing with his pleasure a moment before he grasped it altogether. "No, not yet," said the man, "but there was a gentleman looking at it hard last night." Bunty's startled hand dived at once into his pocket for the cheque. "Won't the little girl hurt herself?" the man said. "Oh, I beg your pardon, I see she's used to them." Bunty followed his gaze and found Poppet engaged in mounting one after the other the nine or ten second-hand ladies' machines that stood awaiting customers. She had looked across and seen Bunty and the man talking; such an opportunity, she told herself, might never occur again; since Bunty was spending here nine wonderful pounds, the man could hardly object to her trying the mounting of these easy machines that had no difficult bar like Pip's. Up she jumped into saddle after saddle, settling herself, pretending to be riding away out of the fixtures, sitting with her arms folded, putting her small feet up for an imaginary but very lovely coast. How her cheeks glowed—how her eyes danced ! It might have been Judy herself who sat on the little saddles and looked challeng- ingly out on the world. The sole right of serial publication in Queensland has been scoured by the proprie- tors of the " Queenslander. "
The mm sauntered up to her. "What machine do you ride, miss?" he said. " Me !" cried Poppet, "why I haven't one, of course." " Then yon ought to have," said the man; "I can see yon have a natural aptitude for it, the way you jump up. Why don't you get your pa to buy you one ? That one you're on, it's a bit knocked about p'raps, but all of it's there, and it won't fall to pieces. I got it a bargain, and I'd let it go for four pounds." Four pounds! He might just as well have said forty. Poppet hardly listened to him, being occupied now in noticing a machine that had a free-wheel attached. "Four pounds !" breathed Bunty, and came over to it, and stood and gazed at it with strange eyes. " See for yourself, you seem to have an eye for machinery—look at it well yourself and tell me if it's not worth the money." Bunty went down on his knees; he asked for a wrench and unscrewed the cranks, and took the saddle off, and tapped at all the enamelled parts to find a crack, and even took off the chain-guard that he might test the chain. " You persuade your pa to let her have it," the man said; "an eager young lady like her ought to have a chance." Bunty breathed hard as he stood up; his fact was pale, his eyes gleamed a little. He dragged the man to the other end of the shop. "Have you got any others—men's, I mean —cheaper than the nine-pound one ?" he said. "Yes, I've got them from five pounds up," the man said. " But it would have to be a really decent one," said Bunty; for he felt he owed it in honour to his father to buy one that would carry him five years at least. "Here's a good make, a bit battered, of course, but it's well worth its price—six pounds," the man said. "Here's another— only came in yesterday, seven pounds—knocked about a bit, but not at all bad. Still, that one you seem to fancy, the Fleetfoot, is worth more than the two pounds extra." Bunty wiped the sweat off his forehead with his coat-sleeve. "Give me that wrench again," he said, and his voice sounded a trifle hoarse. He was half-an-hour kneeling by the seven-pound machine, testing it, unscrewing various parts; he even took out the ball bearings, examined them, and put them back. He stood all the time with his back carefully turned to the Fleetfoot. Poppet grew impatient. "You'll have no time to try it to-day if you're so long," she urged; "come on—'tisn't as if you don't know which to take—you said you wouldn't have any in the world but the Fleetfoot." Bunty stood up and looked away from her. " This one is a very good one too," he said, "it's as sound as anything; I'm going to have this." "But it's only seven pounds," said Poppet "Why ever shouldn't you spend all the cheque; he gave you nine and didn't tell you to save any." "We're going to get two machines," said Bunty, " that red one you were on for you, and this fellow for me. The man says we can owe him the other two pounds for six months— only, of course, we'll both have to stump up our pocket-money every week, all that time, till it's paid." "Bunty!" almost screamed Poppet. She flew across the room to the red machine that Bunty had tested so carefully; she touched it to make sure it was real; she flew back to Bunty. " Ob, you're in fun— you're only in fun," she said; "it couldn't really happen that I should have one." A painful scarlet stood in her cheeks. Bunty addressed himself to the man. "Give me a receipt for the two machines," he said; "you can put it at the end that two pounds are left owing." " No, no," said Poppet—the caught at the man's arm as he proceeded to fill in the re- ceipt; "only one machine we are taking I won't let you—we only want the Fleetfoot, please." " Hold your tongue," said Bunty gruffly. Poppet paid another excited visit to the red machine. "Oh, it couldn't—it couldn't truly, really be mine," she said again: " and oh, oh I couldn't let you give up the Fleetfoot—you wouldn't like the other half so well." It's a jolly good little machine," said Bunty; "I'll get to like it no end soon." "Would you really—oh, would you really?" Poppet said, torn with conflicting desires "It think it's prettier than the Fleetfoot, 'cause it's green; but I never thought you would. Green is a lovely colour, I think." A lovely colour! Bunty considered its hue so nearly allied to that of his beadstead a home that he was going to spend the only shilling he had in the world in a pot of black enamel to cover it up as speedily as might be. . "Oh yes,it's gay enough ! "he said. "Come on, I haven't a stiver left now I have got this paint, so we'll have to stump it home—can't go in the boat. But it's only four miles, if we go the short cut." They went the short cut, which included hills without end, up which they had to drag their bicycles; when they came to flat, lonely stretches they climbed into their saddles and went a few steps, and fell off and bruised themselves, and rose up and mounted again, and fell off again. They were covered in dust and grime when they finally reached Misrule's gate: Poppet had a torn stocking and a badly-abraded knee beneath it, an angry lump on her forehead, very little skin on the palms of her hands, and sore places all over her body. Bunty's hat- brim was broken, he had two jarred rents in his coat, and various swollen places on his cheeks and forehead. Bat the bicycles were their own, and they had brought them home themselves ! At the gate they gave a whoop of triumph that brought the whole family running out on the path. Then, their audience all there and staring, they mounted shakily at the gate, wheeled excited erratic courses down the long drive, and fell into an inextricable collision with each other and a tree near the steps. Thus had Misrule three bicycles to his credit, (To be continued.)