|Chapter Number||I (Continued)|
|Newspaper Title||Weekly Times|
|Trove Title||The Golden Buddha|
THE GOLDEN BUDDHA
By Bernice May
AIL RIGHT;? KE.SKRVF.D s > l l :« l :l « l l.lll i?
<11 \ I'TI !!! 1 — (Cnnt imicrl I
.Tup k.son r-i n i -i up to the bouse and "by tbu-tiiiif Dolly and her compan ion I'odi- uii In- had the snake dead stretched oiu. on the verandah and jthe cliibiivn wore looking' at it.
LjUimi v.- ii n i lie i >;i f >>- in nor arms. j Tin- girl's face was ashen. i "Oh. dad." she said. "what ft! ; l.rnie ii vo.-d Pad. I yet so seared; | with body asleep and the others j won't sit .-i:i-l watch her for me. Oh, j .dad! I've h i '.'e r been seared of snakes' in my life but lately I've got a real! horror i ' ' tlii'iii." "lie v. as a nasly brute," Jackson said, taming- ilu- snake over so that .its si-.i rb.-i under markings were vis- j
I me. Then !e- turned to Edith, "What time did lo-a.hor go out?" "'lOarl.v i hi-- morning'." Edith gia need with a seared little look down at ilie fence where her stepmother and yoU'Ug Carruthers were srili chatting. Kdith, vvbu it as nearly nineteen, nnd very like her father, adored Dolly- as perhaps no srepda tighter has ever Adored a stepmother. t was not only because Dolly was beautiful ami Kdith loved beautiful . things. It was because Dolly had ; come to her. after the many miser able years she had spent with her hard old grandparents, like some thing out of a dream or a book. Dolly, though her stepmother, was the first real woman friewd the girl ilfld ever known. Thai motherless morning when as at small girl Kdith and her brothers had had to go tu their grandmother ( «.ud grandfather, the child, Edith. had fell that the world was hard laud unnatural. Her grandparents were poor and the children had had ! to work all the time knowing few pleasures and playtime amusements. I The farm had been far from town j » lid. always shy. Edith had made no friends. Dolly, pretty, bright, full of i nonsense and fun and always merry ' had enveloped Edith with impulsive,
j loving arms as soon as she had met j her and the two were ioistant friends, j As the days had gone on and I Edith had seen and understood how ! much her stepmother hungered for ; the life she had left the friendship had ripened. Dolly would always be an actress, but she would always create affection and love for herself among her own sex. Edith was her sworn champion and Jackson knew how much his daughter always lean ed towards Dolly's side in the quar rels which lately' were becoming so frequent. "Did Mr Carruthers ride out for mother?" Jackson asked. Edith, suspecting the usual trouble
I netween tnem, iiucnea me uuuj m her arms into a more comfortable position and said with her frank blue eyes meeting her father's fearlessly, "No father." Jackson picked up the snake and ordered the children to stop playing with it. Edith was a little slave to Dollv. j The girl had no life at all. He would | have to speak to Dolly. Sick or well, I somehow she must attend to her own' children and her own responsibilities. ! He would break the whole thing up by commanding Dolly to have nothing to do with the bazaar. She could take Enid and go away to Brisbane for a week or two. If need he, he would take her. He could sell the piece of land he had in Brisbane. Something had to be done. It was not fair to young Car ruthers either. Jackson strolled down to the fence where his wife and the young man lin gered. He was the first to speak as they all greeted one another. "Sorry I was so slow," he said, apolo gising for not coming down at once to open the gate, "but the children saw a snake in the bathroom — a beauty. We just got him." "Oh, a snake ! " Dolly cried with a per ceptible shudder. "How awful!" The snake was now stretched out
along the path and the ants were sur rounding it and crawling all over it. y-T>e scarcely glanced at her hus band. "You've got to come in and have a cup of tea now you've come this far," site said to Carruthers. Jackson added as lie opened the gate, "Yes, come along, young man. Edie'H have the kettle boiling. How are you, dear?" "Very hot and very much in need of tea," i lolly said in petulance us he walked beside her horse up to the froyt steps. A paling fence, which ran all round the homestead paddock, separated the house from the plantation, and, though Jackson had no time to be wasting drinking tea, he was troubled over the !
unhappy look m ltonys urea eyes, a.nu he did not like to leave her. She did not look her age. She might have been just twenty instead of thirty. She had a 'slim, girlish figure, and the Queensland sun had not. even tanned her fair complexion, which she kept fresh by artificial means when natu ral ones failed her. She was wearing a soft pink and white frilly frock, and Dolly, who would always be an actress, drew off her gloves gracefully when Jackson helped her down and gracefully trailed up the steps to a chair which Edith pushed towards her. Doily sank into it with a sigh. "Got the kettle boiling, Edie?" she said with a languid note in her voice which Edith did not connect with the first merry Dolly who had flown into that same house crying warmly, "How lovely everything is!" "Yes, mother. Will you hold baby?" Doily, who did nol even glance at the child and pushed I'oter and Bob away from her when (hey pressed to wards her, said: "Oh, 1 couldn't in my good dress, dear. Ilow's she been? Ail right. Oh, that's a good girl. Peter, get a chair for Mr Carruthers. Carrie, you could sit here. It's cooler. Oh, Serg. Get me a fan or something, dar ling, or take my gloves. Do some-
thing. dear. Don't you realise l m hoi ?" . She had thrown off her hat now, and the soft, brown curls of her hair were damp about her face from the lioat. Yes, Dollv was very beautiful. Young Carruthers, surprised at the different tone of her voice, now she was at home, sprang round sharply and looked at her as if she wore not the same person with whom he had been so pleasantly riding home. He had swung down from his horse, and, liking Jackson, had be gun to sympathise with liim about the hail-storm, entirely forgetful of the woman for the moment. "She's the same old Dolly!" the young man thought. "Always did have someone flying about after her. Always will. She's born that sort of woman." "Phew! It's hot." he said, "just melting. , . . Don't bother about -a chair for me. I can stand. . . . Fhew! The temp, must be up today." "It is a scorcher," Jackson replied. "Edie, hurry up with the tea, there's a good girl," "Coming, dad. Just a minute. . . . Where's Alec? 1 can't. . . Oil, I wish someone. . . , Dash! Oh! . . . Carruthers was disturbed at the munn tarings of the girl, who was trying to make tea for them all with the boby still in her arms. . . . But Dolly seemed to have forgotten them all, and even when Jackson asked her to help Edie hurry up the tea his wife did not stir. She was sitting hack on her chair staring over at the hills, staring be hind the hills, and it was this strange attitude of hers of staring at the hills whieh worried Jackson more than anything. "Well, how did th» rehearsals go?" he asked, trying to bring Dolly's gaze hack from the hills to him and Car ruthers ami the children. She stirred herself at this and said, "Oh, not had, were they. Carry? Simpson is going to be an old stick, j But Bob Oa m«-ron was quite good, j 1 must tell Edie. . . . Edie!" she j lifted her voim. and the voice was j harsh, not sweet as Dolly's natural; voice was. "Bobby was very good to- i day. 1 think lie's going to surprise j us all." : 'Was lie? Is lie? Oh! . . . Peter,! come and help me!" | Peter, just turning seven, a dear' little chap, as like Dolly as his brother Bob was like Jackson, ran into the kitchen to Edith and re luctantly held Enid while Edith hur ried out with the tray of tea and scones. "Look here," young Carruthers said, "Miss Jackson, it's too had. What did you want tq go to all this trouble for for me?" "Oh, it's all riglii," Edith flushed. "Mother needs it. How are you. mother? Give me your hat and gloves. . . . Now, what about your slips? Feet very hot? Poor lady, you just must be roasted," A wistful, appealing jook came and went In Dolly's rather haggard eyes. "Don't fuss me, Edie," she said — and in a whisper that the men did not hear, "I've got such a headaere . . . splitting . . . make the tea very strong. . . . Bring Enid. . . . Oh!" Edith took her hat, and as Jack son had brought her a fail she now sat fanning herself as if she were a girl on a stage somewhere, not the wife of a very worried banana grow er far from the lights of any stage. Peter, holding Enid very gingerly In hie arms, came out with her, anil Edith took her and put her down be side Dolly. Dolly, the hot tea in her h'ands trembling, suffered herself to look down at the little one. Then instead of kissing it she said flippant ly to young Carruthers: "What do you think of our baby. Carry?" The lone of her voice hurt Jack-
Lady ( 1 he unconscious victim ot juvenile practical joke): "I atn pleased to say that Dodo seems to be thoroughly trained at last, he's been no trouble at all today." I
_ . . (be Simre '1
son. . . . Dolly seemed to care less for Enid than she did for some pet animal, yet Enid was a lovely little child, and should have made her mother happy. Carruthers strolled over and look ed at Enid, and Enid opened her blue eyes and gurgled at him. "Oh, did you hear that?" Edith said. "My beautiful, beautiful Enie." Dolly shrugged her shoulders; look ing at the child half, vacantly. "Take her away Edie," she said, "the flies or the heat or something will get to her. Has she- had her bottle?" "Oh, yes." Edith picked her up and took her through tile house to the cool back verandah, and then slic laid her wist fully on her kicking mat. Because Dolly did not want or car© for the child, Edith's young heart ached for it. . . What could be wrong with Dolly. What? When she had come here Bob had onlv been a little
chap, and Dolly had adored, him. Ever since Enid had come Dolly had petulantly cried for them to take the child away. "O Baby," Edith said, giving the child a little tender hug, "I think mother's sick, I do. . , . She doesn't eat much, and she never seems to sleep. Baby, what is the matter with her? Do you know?" Enid gurgled and kicked up her fat legs and tried to pull at the bright colored rags and pap.er Edith had dangled over her head. "Peter, Peter," Euith called, "come and sit by baby." She wanted to ask Dolly about Bob's acting. Bob was the school master at Blueridge. and Kdith one day hoped to marry. Bob was discontented, however. He wanted to go to Brisbane, where there was more scope for him. and he hoped that the department would move him. He even threatened re signing, but Malcolm Cameron, his father, who grew fruit as Jackson did. had definite ideas about his eld est son. Malcolm was bound and ruled by discipline, and Bob. until he was twenty-one, had to do as he was told. Besides Wyburn was go ing ahead. . . The new butter factory, which' was just opened, showed clear- | l.v where Wyburn was going. It : would be one of the most prosperous (owns in Queensland yet. It was in a good position among thi- hills, ami it was ideal for fruit growing, farming and dairying. Peter sat down beside Enid and began to play with her. j "1 won't be live minutes, Peter," Edith said. But when she went back io tin1 verandah Dolly was sitting un moved. and her father and Mr Car ruthers wer(> talking- about the land. .Mr I'arruthers had come out to sur vey the land for Southerns. They wore selling their big selection in small blocks. Some of the blocks were only -0 acres, and Edith understood (hat the land was difficult to survev. Young ( "arruihers said. "I'll tell you one thing. Jackson." "What's that?" "Whoever gets a piece of the South-
ern land gets a young goldmine if, fl fine, every acre of it." "When's the sale?" I "July, I believe." I Edith felt her heart turn over in I excitement as she hoard them talking, ... If eveiy thing went well, one of I those blocks of land was going to b« I hers and Bob Cameron's. I Bob had a little monev saved, ttid I so had she. " The Southerns were selling dieir I land on easy terms, as it was to be a I soldier settlement, and the soldiers 1 were to get the land at am- cost I Old Southern, who had lost four' sons I in the war, was breaking up the land I that should have gone to them by la» will, breaking it up on long leases! and I selling it outright in stum cases in I memory of his sons. I Bob Cameron had not gone to war I because he had been too young then I but old Southern had a warm corner I in his heart for Edith Jackson, and I he knew that the youngsters wanted I the land; at least, he knew Edith did. I He was not so sure of Boh. 1 "Mother, don't you think you'd bet- I
ter lie down. l ou re tired. Come I along. There's nothing to do. Every- I thing ready for tea. Tell me about I Ronny. Did Ethel know her lines I today?" I "No." Dolly replied, a little wearily. I . . . "I'll tell you by and by, Edie. Tes, I I think I'll have a rest, but I'm com- I fortable here." I Her hands were behind her litad. I She was looking beyond her husband I and Carruthers, beyond the hills. ... I Something in her brain began to 1 hurt her, to wound her as a probe I might pressed suddenly downward!) I on her head. I Those monotonous acres of swaying I banana rows, those blue hills, slie felt I as if she had been looking at them for I a thousand years, as if she would I never look at anything elm'. I (To be continued. ) I