|Chapter Title||GUIDA AND HER FATHER|
|Newspaper Title||Launceston Examiner (Tas. : 1842 - 1899)|
|Trove Title||Farmer Mack|
FIOTION. FARMER MCK Written for the Examiner and Tasmaniaun. BY ADaLINE J. WIrITFELD.I a Author of 'My Lady,' 'Madge,' 'Rex,' ii etc. I CHAPTER I . Gm?L)A AND HEn FATHEB. b It happened this way-she was the daughter of a small farmer in the n district of Inverell in New South s Wales About thirty miles away ran v :the noble river Guida, spanned by the beautiful Bundarra bridge, and it was a after this river that she was called. b Her mother had died, and Guida was left alone save for her old father, who was wont to designate her the 'apple of his eye,' and who thought no man was too good for Guida. Perhaps she p was eighteen when what she called U her 'fate' came along, and one hot summer evening when the curlews waited in the scrub, and the buzzing insects flew heedlessly about, Guida b took someone's arm and walking straight up to her father, who sat smoking in the little sitting-room near the open window, said a little abruptly ' Father, what do you say 1' 'Eh dear, but what might you mean 4' asked the old man taking his pipe out of his mouth and clearing o his throat in a manner more demon strative than elegant. ' I mean, father, that Mr Melrose has asked me to marry him,' said Guida in a direct way that was habitual with her. Guida's father looked at Mr Mel rose, and then he cleared his throat again. The other man was young and good-looking, bore an unblemished character, and possessed a goodly share of this world's goods. I-Ie met Guida's father's earnest gaze with a half.smile, and then he saidigravely ' Well, sir, what do you say ?' ' Do tell,' said the old man. ' I hope you do not object,' observed Mr Melrose. 'I hope I don't,' said Guida's father. Guida knitted her straight brows. She must make her father under stand that they would not be long parted when she married Mr Melrose. So she put her hand gently on his, and said decidedly ' You will live with us, of course, father ? ' ' And give up the old place, Gui. ?' asked her father wistfully. ' No-I don't know, but you will come to Wee Wan Station for long visits ? ' said Guida. ' Eh, dear, but the farm won't seem the same without you,' said the old man. 'Father,' said Guida, ' if you are going :to be unhappy without me I won't leave you.' 'Nay---nay, my dear, but I won't be unhappy. There are the cows, and the other things, and all- nay-nay, I won't be unhappy,' but he put up his big broad hand and furtively brushed away a shining drop. And so Guida was married, and after the time-honoured trip was at an end went to live at Wee Wan Station. She and her husband made a hand some couple, and the style of living at the station was upon rather a grand scale. They had been there about two months, when one evening Guida's father jogged up on his old grey mare, and hanging her up to the greatl iron gates which opened into the garden he put his hands in his pockets and rolled up the broad gravel drive and then mounted the stone steps, and breathing hard from the unwonted exertion rang the bell. A trim (maid answered his ring. 'Is Mustress Mulrose to hum?' asked the old man. 'Yes,' returned the maid, repress ing a smile. ' Will you come in? And what name shall I give to Mrs Mel rose ? ' 'Farmer Mack, at your service,' re turned Guida's father. The name was a strange one to the maid, and now she smiled openly and led Farmer Mack to a little sitting room which opened out of the spacious hall, and here Guida, who had just dressed for dinner, and who was clad in a rich-looking gown of surah silk, found him waiting. She ran quickly into the room and threw her white arms round the old man's brown and burly neck, and kissed him where a few grey curls still clustered, and then she said 'At last, father dear! I thought you were never coming.' 'Eh, dear, but you are smart,' said her father, looking at her. 'Real e smart.' 'I'm glad you like my dress,' said Guida. ' And now, father, I'm sure you would like to go to your room. You are tired and dusty, Iknow.' ' Aye, Gui., i'd be all the better for a good wash, I would, but I must needs go and rub down the old mar', I must.' 'Nay, father,' expostulated Guida, 'the groom will do that.' 'That's very civil of him,' returned the old man.
' It is his duty, father.' 'Lor now, is it ? ' said Farmer Mack. At dinner he appeared with an im mense expanse of a not too immaculate shirt front, a gorgeous tie, a swallow tail coat, and very loose grey trousers. Guida together with her husband and a few friends awaited his coming in a large and handsomely furnished draw- f ing-room, so large, and so luxurious l looking, with its multiplicity of couches and reclining chairs, its rich draperies, ° pictures, and art, that the old man's f breath was well nigh taken away. 'Lor bless me I' he muttered as he made his way to the group standing beneath a beautiful archway which fronted a large bow window. 7 'My eye! Ain't it smart?' He t approached his son-in-.law and held out his great brown hand. ' How do ?' he said genially. 'How are you?' responded Mr s Melrcse no less 'cordially, 'I am pleased to see you, Mr Mack. Let mu J present my friends, Mr Ferneaux, Mr a Philipou, Mir Grey, and M1r Thews. These gentlemen all bowed very politely, but Farmer Mack deemed it expedient to offer them his honest I hand. The grasp of the same afforded e striking testimony of its owner's good will, and well developed muscles, and , was not likely soon to be forgotten by o its unappreciative recipients. During dinner he electrified Guida by saying 'tbank you, miss,' to the maid who waited at table. She touched t him under the table, whereupon the 1 old man, who was guileless as a child, t said in a surprised tone 'Eb, dear, but what are you kicking a me for 4' and poor Guida could do no other than beg her father's pardon. Presently he glanced at his daughter's plate apparently in astonishment at '! seeing roast beef thereon, this being the third course, and remarked alou?- ' Eb, but you will do we:l if you put yourself outside o' that, Gui.' 'Father,' said Guida in the old familiar tone of warning, familiar since her return from boarding school, whither the old man had sent her with some of his hard-won earnings. 'What! Put my foot in it ?' he asked with a broad smile. 'Beg par don.' Mr Melrose here made some happy interruption, and his father-in-law turned his attention to hi.n. Perhaps the only persons who appeared really at ease during the dinner were the old farmer and Mr Melrose. The former, unconscious of anything amiss in either his appear ance or manners, enjoyed the, to him, unusually good meal amazingly, while the conversation of the company amused and interested him; thelatter showed himself an almost perfect host and with a tact as persuasive as it was diplomatic discoursed upon the topics of the day with versatile grace. Never did he display the slightest consterna tion when the simple old man, his father-in-law, made remarks or venti lated jokes that were over the pale of refinement-each and every time with supreme skill he led the conversation into happier channels, and Guida, though she said nothing, thanked her husband with her eyes. Farmer Mack did not again address the housemaid as " miss," but once becoming a little nervous he substituted " my dear" in its place, whereupon the girl, who was bright and pretty, forgot .her place sufficiently to smile broadly, and then crimsoned with annoyance under her mistress's reproving glance. When Guida rose from the table her father rose also. ' Won't you stay, father, with the other gentlemen 4' asked Guida some what faintly. 'No, dear,' said the old man; ' I want to get shut o' the wine. Have had too much already.' Guida made no further protei t, and one of the gentlemen stepped forward to open the door. Presently, when the others went upstairs they found Guida and her father in earnest conversation. Guida was evidently very fond of the old man. She sat near the arm chair in which he rested, and her white hand lay on his arm, while her head, which was shapely and covered with a luxuriant growth of hair, was bent low. Just as they entered Far mer Mack was saying in his loud, genial voice- 'Eh, dear, but you've got a fine house, an' a bonnie lad for a husband, an' lots o' good things, an' belike you're real happy an' smart, but 1 guess afore long you'll begin to want something else-I never think a house is anything of a house without the chatter of children and the tramp of their little feet. Aha! here are the "quality,"as my old marm used to call 'em,' and the speaker, not in the least discomposed, turned his face glowing with goodwill towards the gentlemen. Mr Melrose crossed the room, and accosted Mr Mack with his wonted courtesy 'We are going into the study for a cigar, sir; will you join us ?' 'Why go out of here, Mr Melrose? Lou couldn't have a nicer room.' asked Farmer Mack. Mr Melrose laughed with perfect .good humour. 'I don't know what my wife would I say if we scented her curtains and draperies with the smoke of the fra I grant weed,' he returned gaily. (Continued next issue).