|Newspaper Title||Launceston Examiner (Tas. : 1842 - 1899)|
|Trove Title||Light after Darkness|
FOR THE CHILDREN. LIGHT AFTER DARKNESS. (Written for the "Examiner" by' "Ethelburga," Launceston.) CHAPTER I. "He whol does no good will certainly do mischief; and the mind, if it is not stored. .with useful knowledge, will necessarily become. a magazine of non sense and trifles." The scene at "The Acacias" was a busy one, for the Tasmanian harvest was bountiful, and provided plenty of work for all. Amidst the cheerful bustle that was everywhere observable, one; would hardly have expected to see individual idleness, and yet while all others were putting forth their.best efforts: to get their work done in good time, Bob Smith lay basking in the warmth of the sun, experiencing the enjoyment that comes to lazy people only when they are doing nothing. Bob's laziness was the product of dis content. His father was one of Mr. Roberts's best men. There was nothing that he could not do on the farm, and it was his frequent boast that he never spent ,an idle hour. He had been steady, and had'saved-money, and was looking forward to the time When he would be able to buy a bit of land and start farming on " his own account. Bob ,was a sore trial to him, for tholugh he was bright and quick at learning, he hated.farm work, and in his heart despised the boys of his own age who did not, like himself, shirk their duty. Bob lay at full length close to a large barn, hidden from the view of the workers by a number of wattle trees which had been allowed to remain un disturbed at the time of the clearing. His father had instructed him what to do, and his work was unimportant, for he could not be trusted; but as soon as Mr. Smith's back was turned, the idle fellow had stolen away to enjoy the luxury of ease. There was another pleasure to which Bob was addicted, that of smoking. It was in vain that his father had prohibited toibacco. Bob's pipe was produced at every convenient opportunity; and so we find him, on this bright, warm day, silently smoking a black clay pipe, building castles in the air, dreaming of wealth, and figuring himself as a hero: amongst men. Bob's heroes were of the impossible type. He had 'drawn them from a class of novels, the reading of which is productive of much harm to boys of his age. He revelled in exciting tales of the prairies of America, and had wasted many nights poring over the adventures of imaginary pirates. These books he had obtained by stealth, for his father had repeatedly forbidden him to read them. "First of all," thought Bob, "if I only had the money, I'd get out of the old man's clutches. Then I'd sail for America, and be a cow-boy. That's the life for me. I'd be called 'Buffalo Bill, of the boundless prairies,' and wouldn't I make the redskins dance? I'd have a belt of scalps, and cut a I notch in my trusty rifle for every In dian I'd lay low. Then I'd rescue 'Golden Hair,' the beauty of the settle ments, and with a yell of defiance I'd bound upon the back of my coal-black steed, and together we'd fly for her parent's home. What fun it would be to see the treacherous red men spread out over the prairie, in pursuit. How Golfen Hair would scream when I'd let Leaping Panther, the famous Pawnee chief, get close to us! and how I'd laugh when another of my enemies would fall, and another notch would be cut in my rifle. What a joyful wel come the grey-haired father would give us! But, of course, I must be haughty. I would say I had simply done the duty of a brave man, and, leaping once more upon the back of my gallant steed, I'd wave a haughty fare well, and gallop away. But only to return, for once more 'Golden Hair' would be in danger-to be saved again by me. Then the people would make me the king of the settlements, and 'Golden Hair' would be my queen, and we'd live happily ever afterwards." "Well, lazy bones, you're a nice boy, aren't you?" Bob sprang to his feet. Before him stood Miss Elsie Roberts, his master's daughter, a very pretty girl, of four teen. She was attired in light summer clothes, and as Bob contrasted his own rough appearance with that of the girl before him he became more and more discontened with his lot. "You're a nice boy, aren't you?" re peated Elsie. "Don't know that I am," growled Bob. 'Why aren't you at work like the others?" asked the girl. "It's all work, that's what it is, here," said Bob, "I'm put to the rough est of it. My heart isn't in it, Miss Elsie, and that's a fact. I've a soul above work of that kind. I long to cross the trackless ocean, and make my name famous in a far distant land." He thought the last sentence was heroic, and hoped that it would gain Elsie's sympathy. He had been read ing a silly book called "The Gentle man Hunter of the Wild West," and knew by heart many of the phrases it contained. Elsie, however, appeared to be very much amused, for she laughed heartily. "Why, you silly boy," she exclaimed, "what could you do in a far distant land? You have not energy enough to hoe potatoes. You will never make a name anywhere unless it be one for downright laziness. I've heard my papa speak of your idle habits, and if you do not alter trouble will come upon you." Bob looked at the girl before him. It was her picture that had been in his mind while he dreamt of rescuing "Golden Hai"' from the "redskins." Presently he said: "Alas! it is thus the unfortunate are treated by earthly souls. But no mat ter. I must bear it all with fortitude, and lock my thoughts in my wounded heart. I did not think you would have scorned me, but I do not despair. The World shall yet know what I am! " And Bob folded his arms and frowned darkly. Elsie tried hard not to laugh. "Bob," she said, "yon read too many of those stupid books, and your iead.??.
filled with nonsense. Nowi will you. do me a favour?" "Lady of the golden hair," said Bob, "my life is at your service. Bid me dive to the bottom of the briny deep toi search for priceless pearls; or to climb to the summit of the snow capped mountains to gather flowers of the rarest beauty, and I'll do it, or perish in the attempt. I have spoken." "No," laughed Elsie, "I don't wish you to hurt yourself. I want you to do a very simple thing. Will you pro mise?" "Yes," said Bob, solemnly, "you have - my word, which was never yet broken after it had been given to friend or foe. What would you have me. do? . Speak, lady." "Well," said Elsie, "go back to your work at once. What were you doing?" "Digging over there," replied Bob in a .disappointed tone, as he jerked his thumb in the direction of the vegetable garden. "Well, Bob, you must go back at once. Don't delay. You promised, you. know.". Bopb was annoyed. He. had not ex pected such a request. He hesitated. "Do go, Bob, please. Really you must go. You. are a nice boy to make a promise. -Shall I tell papa how you were idling, arid smoking, too?" Bob started, and exclaimed: "Ha! would you betray me? Then 'tis time I returned to my task. But listen. Before the sun sinks in the west I shall have completed my plan of escape from my enemies, and then-but no matter." And Bob walked away, looking very ugly indeed. Elsie laughed softly as she watched him. -If she had not wished to, be alone she would have encouraged him in the use of his extravagant language... But she had something on her mind that was troubling her. Giving a quick. glance in the direction of the house, she turned and walked into the barn. (To be continued.)