|Chapter Number||2 (Continued)|
|Newspaper Title||Weekly Times|
|Trove Title||The Golden Buddha|
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ALL RIGHTS RESERVED ?
OHA1TEB 2. — Continued
Jackson felt his face pale a little and a shiver passed over it. "Not with out our knowing." But as he rode over to the Chma-
man s garden he was a little sceptical. He njight be riding into something pasty. He had 110 neighborly interest j m the Chinaman. He would be glad j when his lease was up, and he could add this patch of land to his. ... It | would be a good day for him. The 1 Chinaman had cultivated the land in j a fiddling way. but it was good soil, j The Wvliuni river which flowed at j the Ijo-ttuni of the slope was full now, < and as Jackson,- without more thought, of them, rode awav from Dolly and j Airs. O '.Deary and the others. h=> saw j the shaky Chinese hui on the hill be- ) fore him. and. entering his garden, j
rode up through it. wondering what the red flag flapping there meant. You could approach the garden from the other side, the way the boys had passed coming home from Wy burn. But you got a glimpse of the melon patch, soaked and muddy now, and the toniato slope as you rode up. Choko and cucumber vines were running wild, and passion fruit was ' retting everywhere A smell of bad Fruit greeted Jack son as he readied the hut. squashed rotter. bananas. pawpaws' yellow wiih ag" and bad 1 na o aocs which did not grow well in W'ylun-n. and ginger and Faster n spices and. filth — sheer tilth. It hu'-t Jackson to ride over from his eh-nn iiuie Au.-u rnlinu h'>mo and tied ;nis ugiv thing almost at his own tiMj-tlcss 'hack door. Jackson leaned over his saddle. '"Humph: This was l hi- stinking east all rich; — a house falling to pieces, i «; ten smells of rotiitio fruit and filth — old tins, garbage, dirt. fliit. dirt, . . . siiu.ishy horrible . . . r.th':" Ja'-kson wanted to ki' k it over . . . Bur he called out instead. '"Anyone in tie thought he heard a scuffle of j rats. Hot no dog barked. Funny! "Anyone in":'" he called out more loudly. ' Now lie fancied a faint voice from within answered him. H was not usual to lind a. lonely Chinaman even growing vegetables. ! The I'huK-se went in pairs. But there had been a pair of them here till j about a year ago. tone morning, ul most as mysteriously as this the Chinaman they called Sammy had gone away. Ah Fat had spoken no thing of his disappearance, and seemed ei-ochetty and angry when asked. "Poor old devil: S'pose he's dead," Jackson sail!, swinging down off his horse. "gotten business living alone away from his own people.. . . ."
Stepping over the. indescribable dirt at the door, for there was no health inspector about the -district to fine Ah Fat, who had never had his premises in quite such a bad condition before. But even a European house might begin, to show signs of dirt and decay if its inmates had neglected it foiv a few weeks of sickness. The rotten | vegetables and fruits and slops, and ! dirty water which Ah Fat would have tottered down the hill with had he been well enough to do it, were lying about everywhere. "Shades of Pozferes!" Jackson said, as he stepped on a rotten pumpkin and went through it, bringing his foot out yellow and wet. "It's worse than h battlefield, so help me it is." Ke had reached the door now. and suddenly a different and a cleansing odor came to him. It was the smell of burning paper, the curious smell
j of Chinese incense which was pleas- j ant. and almost sweet, being dry and sharp as opposed to that wet warm j. smell of the natural rot without the j room. j Jackson looked in. The room was j dark, and he could see nothing for a j moment or two. The brilliant sum- : met dusk shed something of beauty j even over the scene about him. ! He heard parrots scream without j curlews calling. : "Anyone in?" he asked. "Can I do i anything?" j His voice sounded dry and hollow, i but he saw that smoke was curling j up before him. It seemed to envelope ' the room, which Jackson saw was not I dirty and not untidy. It was a con- , trast iii the place without. There was j a meticulous neatness about it. | Clothes were folded, green bananas ! were ripening on the rafters. Clean corn and some potatoes were placed ! high and dry on a bunk, j Then Jackson drew back a little i from the doorway. 1 Ah Fat was crouched up on the. floor before the curliiw smoke, and hehind the smoke Jackson saw an idol squatting with the vacant child-like stare of the east, hands foldfd in its lap. j Though he was in no sense a reli- 1 gious man, something in the whole atmosphere of the place half humbled i him. There was a string of beads about the idol's neck", and the smoke curling about its face gave it a strangely life-like look as if it i breathed, and as Jackson looked the closed eyes seemed to open, j He waited, was about to draw back thinking Ah Fat was only at his prayers when the crouching attitude of the celestial alarmed him. He was full of a sudden sympathy for a creature who had to bow down to wood and stone still in the era of the Great War. "Here, Ah Fat, what's the matter
with you? Anything wrong? Want a doctor? It's Jackson? Serg, Jackson. Here. I say!" He crossed the threshold and bent over the Chinaman. Then horrified to find that he seemed already dead, he half dragged hiui to the doorway, where, even if the air was putrid, it was air, not the stuffy smell of incense. Jackson looked down half aghast at the dying man's face. Tliere was so swift and sudden a resemblance between its old wrinkled parchment like features, and that smooth-faced idol behind the smoke, that for a moment Jackson started. "What's the matter, old chap? Got any quinine in the place? _ Here. Wake up! How long have you been sick? Didn't Mr McPhie come up to see you? I say, why didn't you
call out to the boys? Old, chap. Chinky!" The old eyes opened as if a miracle had opened them. He seemed quite conscious. He knew Serg, and said, "Mr Jackson, take money — under — for — third house — my uncle — in town —ah!" Jackson thought for a moment that he was dead. "Here," he said, "I'd better get help." "No, no, no — " the wrinkled, claw like hands pulled him back. "O, but what rot. . . . Here, . . . Haven't you got- anything to drink about the place, nothing to revive you ?" "No . . . money . . . under . . , for ..." Jackson saw that the old man was dying, and in the presence of death he felt even this creature he did not at all care about had to be helper. "What about the money? Where is it?" "Under . , floor." "Under your floor? Where?" He pointed with his shaky finger towards the smoky idol, and Jackson, led 5>y the poor finger, went over to the shrine, lifted the board, and pulled out a bag which was heavy with coins. "Take " , "You want me to take this to your uncle. Where does he live?" "One, two. three- — town — " "Third house in Chinatown — Wy- burn?" "Yes.", "All right. Has anyone hurt you ?" "No — seek — seek " Ah Fat shook his head. "Yes. you're sick, but you'll get well, perhaps." "Well, I'll ride over to Cameron's and get Dr. Swan, and if you want me to carry out your part of the job and hand over your money safely, Ah Fat, you'd better see to it that you're still
alive when the doctor and Cameron come, or 1 might get blamed for this. I jus; give them the money. I say nothing. No answer?" "Nothing." '.'Well, I'm going to put you up on your bunk, and give you. a drink of water, and leave you — for a few minutes. I'll soon get Cameron." The Chinaman seemed not to hear him, but his eyes opened and closed again as Jackson lifted him and laid him on the bunk, from which lie was never again to rise. Then he gave him a drink of water, and, putting the somewhat heavy bag of coins in the leather bag on his saddle, he rode away towards Came ron's, his neighbors. He galloped — and found the Omie- rons at their evening meal. Malcolm Cameron, who had been out replanting his corn all day, and would be out at the same task to morrow. was surprised to see Jack son. Maggie, his wife, was so alarm ed, too. when she saw him come up the back steps, that she dropped the hot pot of potatoes she was strain ing and almost lost them all. The dogs, who had scarcely growled
Cautious Gentleman: "You'll excuse me, farmer, But I'm con.® templating the purchase of a small motor-car and was won.l dering if you have such a thing aw a spare field that I could 1 practice in?" I
The Passing Show I
at bis approach, were quiet, knowing him. "Sorry I came up so quickly," he said, "and startled you. Old Ah Fat is dying up there in his hut. I thought you'd better know. I'm going in for Dr. Swan. I can't help thinking there's something queer about it. Anyone seen Sammy since he disap peared ?" "What's up? What's the matter?" The Cameron boys and girls came out "to see Jackson, and when they knew the old Chinaman was dying they were sympathetic. "Poor old thing," Mrs. Cameron said. "Dad, you'd better go up as soon as you've had your tea. Take him a bowl of soup." "Oil. he's past soup," Jackson said. "Had your tea, Mr. Jackson?" Jean Cameron said. And in the same breath: "How is Mrs. Jackson? Going to be a fine show for the bazaar." "Come in and have something to eat?" Cameron said. "I'll go up with one of the boys by and by.' "I'll have a cup of tea with pleasure," Jackson said, "but I'd like to send the Dr. out at once. I don't like it much." "Ooli, he hasn't been murdered, has he?" said Ettie Cameron. Her mother hit lier sharply on the arm, and said: "What a thing to say. Be quiet, miss." "Ooh, awful," said Lily Cameron, taking up her sister's remark, and passing it on to the younger brothers, "Ah Fat's been murdered." "Ooh, right in our paddock!" "Stop, hold your tongues. He isn't. He hasn't Mr. Jackson's going for
the doctor." But Cameron was a careful man, and no sooner had he caught the whisper of possible murder than lie said : "I believe it'd be best for- me to go up to the old chap at once. Never mind my tea. Til come back for that" Mrs. Cameron put his meal in the | oven to keep it hot while she chided I the children for suggesting such a silly horrible thing as murder, and Jack son drank a cup of tea. Then he went out with Cameron. The men whispered together out side. "You don't think there's been any thing nasty?" Malcolm paid. "I don't know," Serg replied. "Yoji'd better bring out the police with you as well as the doctor." "All right, and you'd better take a pipe up with you. You'll need it in that stench.' "I know- it," Malcolm said. Bob Cameron was coming up the stairs as the two men were going down. "Hello, Bob!"
Jackson almost butted into th(® young man, for Bob was studious, and® always walked head down as if 14® were lost in thought. But he was® quick to spring awake. ...9 "Mr Jackson, isn't it?" he said,® for it was dark on the stairs. / ® "Yes." - t ® "I'm going up to old Ah Fat. He$® dying, Mr. Jackson says." "You could take word over to Edis® and Mrs. Jackson I've gone on to I Wyburn, if you would. Bob." I "Oil, yes, certainly," Bob au- I sivered quickly. I His nervousness often gave him « 1 lialf-furtive manner which was mis- 1 leading. "I don't know but what I shouldn't -1 take Bob with me," Malcolm said. I All three walked back quietly to I Jackson's horse, and for a second 1 Jackson Hesitated as to whether ha I should tell them about the money he I had or not. 1 "Change. your liorse," Malcolm said I pleasantly. "You'll need one nearer I than Wyburn. That one is all knocked 1 up." j I "Mine's ready," Bob said. "She's I been eating her head off at .school 1 all day, and will carry you quickly. I She's saddled, too." " I Now Jackson was perplexed . . , I and he realised that the Chinaman I had placed him in an uncomfortable I situation. He ought not to have con- I sented to carry the money. It was 1 quite a foolish thing to do, Money I was a thing that needed to be handled I as little as possible when it did not I belong to you. Both Bob and his I
father thought it rather strange when I they saw Jackson riding off on his 1 own horse. I "Did you notice how the pouch of 1 his saddle was bulging?" Bob said. I 'Dad, that was nueer of him not tak- I ing a fresh horse." I "Oh. he's worried over his wife and 1 the plantation. I never could make 1 him out." 1 "I'll come up with you as soon as I I take the message over to Edie." I "No, never mind. You go and court I your girl, young man. One of the 1 others can come with rae. Alec," I he called, "come on." 1 Mrs. Cameron put her head out of I the door. I "Get one of the Saunders to go with you, dad," she said. "1 don't like the children going around those Chinese places." "All right." Bob went up to his tea as his father rode away across the paddock to ask one of the Saunders big men to go with him to the dying Chinaman. Bob's face was long and intellec tual. but dissatisfied. . . - He did not
like Blueridge Creek with its twenty white scholars, three half-caste Chinese, two aboriginals, three Italians and four Russians. He did not even want to go to Wyburn where- the chil dren were at least all white. Bob wanted Brisbane, and ambitions be yond Brisbane. In his spare time he dreamed of one day being an author. Edit)) Jackson and her longing for the bush he could not understand. (To be Continued)