Chapter 52032373

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Chapter NumberXII
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article52032373
Full Date1884-07-16
Page Number3
Corrections0
Word Count3713
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleMorning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1878 - 1954)
Trove TitleRonald Walton: A Tale of Early Squatting Life in Moreton Bay
article text

fate mi $Màm.

RONALD WALTON.

A TAIE OF EABLY SQUATTING LIFE IN

QUEENSLAND.

BT THB AUTHOR OP "ADVENTURES IN QUEENS-'

UND."

: [AU Rights Retenti.]

CHATTES XII SILAS BLAST'S MATRZMOHIAL SCHEME. -MRS BRANDON AND ADA.-RONALD'S

ARRIVAL.

We will now .readme the thread of the storr bnt s few months later than we last took leave of Neptune Villa.

Silas!] Blast hod become a much more frequent visitor at Neptune Villa than pre- vious to his last sucoessfsl appeal to Ads Brandon. He had never intimated to any ons how enraged he waa at the rejection, and ss Ada never spoTttTof it, the secret was safe, His Object in visiting at the villa was to secure a wife there. He was determied to marry, if only to convince Ada - bow little affected be was hy her refusal. He hated her now, but his hatred for Ronald Walton was tenfold; stronger. There was another, and pehaps deeper reason than the first, that induced him to determine cn matrimony. His visits had been very frequent at Mrs, Branson's house before Ada's engagement, since that, he bad seldom been there, and was

[afraid that useless he could demonstrate that

there were superior attractions elsewhere for bim, his secret would be suspected. Mary Robinson had sufficiently recovered from her disappointment to receive hts very marked ' attention with something like satisfaction, Not so, however, with her aunt, for as soon as

she noticed os things were going, she steadily set her face against the match.

"Mary," said aunt Felina ono day at dinner, "I think I can see as far into a stone ' wall as most people, and I feel certain that Silas means matrimony, and that you do not object as much as I should like."

Mary bit her lips and looked vexed. "I did not ask him to come here, aunt, and you

"I was ¿lad to see him. I always took a great interest in him-and for the matter ci' that, lalways BhaU-bnt I am not so glad to see him now. "You cannot deoeive me, Mary, I know yon feel a good deal more than friend- ship for him."

" I do not deny that I like him bettor than I used to. He is very pleasant to chat with, and he reads and recites so beautifully 1"

Her aunt eyed her keenly while sho was speaking, and then said, impressively,

"Mary, I hope and trust you will never allow yourself to haveastronger feeling towards that man that you have now at present. Mind what I say, and do not blame me if he causes yon prief hereafter."

" I think, aun', you might be a more ex- plicit ; and ifyo'i know anythingwrong of Mr, Blast, you should say so."

"I fenoio nothing wrong of him." ! "Then, what do you suspect, auntî"

"I do not suspect any thing that I can put ia a definite form, but I have a fear that he will never make a good husband."

"I think you donia an injustice, aunt."

"Well, I don't think so. Be warned, Mary 1 .Oh I there's my celestial halo 1 My unmatched-my silver-furred darling, Pearl I {one of her oats). Oh 1 it is such a naughty itty titty I Does it love its own muzzer V'

The sleek-coatod beauty replied with sn affectionate. " Pr-r-r-yow-ow," at the same time jumping on to its mistress' lap, where it was tenderly stroked.

" What a dear wicked toossy it is. I thought it would be ill all day, it was out so lats hut night. It niUBt not bo out late to- night_Snowball?"

"Yes, 'm."

" You never told mo where you found Pearl last night?"

"I looked an' looked cberywhore, 'm. I cum np de garden wall, an' I got on do kitchin roof, an'atiaet, tinks I, I've got to find her soon or she'll get her death o' cold. An' when I looked ebery wheres, I says to myself, ' You neber been a top o' de house yet, Snowball.' So I got de long pole, on* up it like a naiib cat. Well, missus, 1 nigh gav it np, when I some thin' a top o' de parlour ohimley-pot. Says L ' Dat** her i' an' what do yer tink, 'rn ? Why, ft wasn't ; bat a great, big, whtppin', 'traeger

family (tamale) cat, wid itt bristol» all correct (erect), an* tail np on ead like a poker in fits ; an' I do belieb I Bibed de eyes o' dst darlin', I pooty cat, for abe was on toe oder side o' de

ehimley pot, layin' downa'most ina dead paint (faint wid tunk, Oh I it gib me sich a torn to see dst lamb, as I'd gib me head for anytime*, in eich a scurrilonopctition (perilous position). Tink, 'm, if eho'd gotgiddy, and tum'led down into de garden ! Well, I was 'up guards an' at em,' ns dey say in elastioB (classics), in s jifley. De big '(ranger, she cat her lucky in quick stick, an' hooked it like mad. S'pose you see de kick I let ont of roe when she come down ; you plenty laugh' I know. I nigh got rare buster down roof. But laws, missus, I don't mind notink so long I saba dat ere preoious darlin' from detraction (destruction). I say, misBUS, what's cat- alepsy ? I tink tat big '(ranger pussy . Iud catalepsy. Dat lep down de roof, fep into de garden, den it 'pin rouu' an' roun' like teetol ter (teetotum),"

"You silly girl," said AuntFeltnia, who allowed a good deal of freedom to her étrange little domestio, for ber curious speeches and enquiring turn of mind always amused her. "Catalepsy attacks human beings-white fellows, and I suppose black-fellows, too."

" Welldon, missus, dot wascatalepsy, 'cause she was going to 'tack me when I let dat kick

out at it."

Mary had been laughing heartily at tl girl's, narrative and antics, and at th« last od thought vas expreiBed by the imp, she retrae ted her aunt to send her out of ¿lie room, < she would go into hysterics. Even Aur Felinla sat with a grim smile playing over hi hard features. Snowball was dismissed, wit a caution to keep her eye on Pearl's movement towards evening. As she sided ont of tl

room, she said,

" Oh yes, missus. I always keeps dis eye pointing to the right one, which turned u very much, "for de pussies, 'cause dey go n eberytink. Hi ! yah !"

Her laugh was morry and musical, thong perhaps a little unrefined. WheuBhe ha disappeared, Aunt Felina exclaimed,

" What a strange creature 1 I do not thin

I shall ever civilise ber."

Snowball was an oddity in her way, and di not alwavB adhere rigidly to the truth. Sh was fond of embluming her narratives wit language more forcible than elegant. Sh had ber mistress' "measure" pretty accui ately, and framed her fibs so as to tell to he own advantage. Her statements respectic Pearl and the strange cat were true in th main : hut abo did not state! how in reven; for the trouble Pearl had given her, sh grasped the poor oat by the neck so tightl) that her eye« were nearly forced out of he head ; and how she shook her so violently, bo if the pampered thing had been placed on he feet butjust then, she would have certain! rolled oft the roof from eheer giddiness ani exhaustion. The girl had a long pole tba she used to lean against plaoes that wer otherwise impregnable to her active limbs and up that pole she would climb with th agility of a monkey. Once on tbe roof, eh contd scale the steepest pitch, and run alon/ the ridge with her naked feet, with as mool fear of falling ss a oockatoo would havi

felt.

Ada and her mother were sitting it the bay window overlooking the bright littli garden in front of their boase. The mool was shining glorausly in the intensely bim vault of a oloudleas sky. On snoh nights a! 1 Brisbane, and indeed over a large area o Australia, small print oan bs reada ease by the light of the moon at its full There was no light in the room, Ada and hei mother had been talking but a little, ead being eogaged with her own thoughts. Thi mother pondered pensively on the sad event of her life. She thought of her bright boy, who fell so gloriously ; of her fine old solide] husband, who had moro recently left her ; ant of her beloved daughter who now Tested ot her shoulder. The girl's eyes were turned ti her parent's face, «canning its lines witt tenderness. Her thoughts had been roamin) wildly in joyous reminiscence of tho no very I distant past, and anticipatory of a bright

happy future.

*' Mother, dear, you seem a little sad to [ night, Hare I done anything to vex you to day ?" she said stroking her mother « oheel I with her left hand.

" You vex me. my dear one 1 No. If al ! daughters were like you Ada, there would bi

not only fewer tears for parents, but less bittei ones when they did flow. No my child, bul when yon are os old ss I, you will be «bte t< understand what I occasionally feel when ) think of the psst. It is impossible that yonnj people can realise the inward experiences ol the aged. Your thoughts have boen pleases I enough, no doubt."

Ada smiled and blushed. Her thought« bad been pleasant. She had been picturing the happy wife of Ronald Walton, and the happy man he should bs, if it lay in her powei to make him so ; and how much more com- fortable be should be nude in his house at Boorooma, or elsewhere, if he did not remain there. The country was large ; he was clever and must succeed. She would wait, and cheerfully too. In reply to her mother's last remark, she said,

I " I was thinking, mother, of-"

, Withont finishing the sentence, she uttered

a cry of joy which shaped itself into the name "Ronald. She flew to the door, and was out into the garden ia a momont. Her mother had seen a figaro at the gate, but her older and less interested eyes did not recognise it. Three or four minutes must really have elapsed ere the strong form of Ronald Walton entered the house, Mrs. Brandon heard sounds not at all resembling either the creaking of hinges, or the turning of the door handlo, and Ronald and Ada appeared before her. During Ronald's greeting, Ada stood behind bim, vainly endeavouring to reduce her curls to something like order, for they had, by some means beoome sadly dis- arranged.

" I am very gtad to see you. Ronald," said Mrs, Brandon. " When did you ooma

down I"

"Butten minutes ago, Mrs. Brandon, I just gave my horses to the groom at the Corn- stalk Inn, had a wash, and walked straight here ; and I hope you will forgive me for appearing before you and Ada in such a cos- tume. Bnt now I see yon are both well, I must get back and change; and if you will allow me, and it is not too late, I will come back after dinner and see you again."

" Do not go away, Ronald. Ada will get yon Borne dinner, if you can put up with what we bave in the house ; and we shall be so glad ta hear all the news you have to tell us. Why, it is six months since you left us 1"

"I am really ashamed to give you so much trouble, and to sit down in suck a guise. I I-think I had better go back, and-"

He did not think anything oi the kind, and waa dying to stay j but to do him justice he did {eel a little diffidence at giving what he concoived to bo an unreasonable amount of trouble. While ho hesitate!, the little tempter behind bim whispered "Do stay, Ronald." So ho accepted with more apologies.

Ronald wore a ooaree bino serge shirt tucked inside a pair of strapped cord unmentionables, witb a belt round the waist, and a pair of thick leather leggings up to his knees. On his heels were massive spurs. The dress was a common ono at that period, and set him off his well-knit figure to advantage. Whatever his attire might be, no ono could mistake him for anything but a gentleman.

Ada's quick and neat band, guided by love soon had all in readiness for Ronald, and he sat down to tho moBt appetising meal that had been spread before him for many a day. He sat at the side of thc table, and Ada at tho head, making tea. Mrs. Brandon was seated on tho sofa, where she bad a full view of both, and could not help observing how strong their attachment was. Ada looked her very best ; sho had previously slipped away to ber room to arrange her curfs, at the same time deftly put a finishing touch here and there to her dress.

In spite of Ronald's rough dress, Mrs. Brandon, wat more than ever impressed with hie manly strength and features, and she thought that, amongst all the yonng men who had paid court to her daughter, there was

sot one to be compared with him in many essential*, «nd abe felt more than ever satis fied that ber daughter's happiness might safely be entrusted to bim. The spectacle drew her from the calmly «ad review she had previously been engaged in of Borne the more tonohing events in the long vista of her past, but well spent life; and forced her to revert to a time when ehe and another sat thus together in the days of their early happiness.

"I see yon have letters, Ronald. Good news, I hope," said Ada.

He hastily put his hand to the breast pocket of his serge shirt, out of which peeped

the ends of a number of letters.

" By Jove 1 I forgot all about them, Ada. ' There are some important ones, too, I know

by the handwriting. I got them at the post office as I came by. How silly of me to for« get them !"

Mrs, Brandon smiled at his vexation and surprise, and remarked,

"Do not make a stranger of yourself, Ronald. When you have finished your tea, Ada and I will exeuse your reading them."

" Thank you, Mrs. Brandon, but I tbink I will postpone the reading of them till I get back to my quarters for the night. I hope that fellow will give my horse a good feed. If he does not, I shall treat him to a-that is, I will not 'treat' hitn»at all ; but I think he kuows me pretty well, for I always put op

at the Cornstalk."

" How does yonr treasure of a cook get on,

Ronald 1" asked Mrs. Brandon.

" He is just tho same useful, vexations, good-natured fellow, and if possible, sines and plays the fiddle more than ever. The day before 1 left, he was waltzing in with a huge blancmange covered with myrtleberry jelly for a partner, and when he reached the parlour door, his heel caught against a stone or something, and he foll on his back, com- pletely smothered with blancmange. How I wish you could havo seen bimi I had to break up my dinner party, consisting of old Tiekler, the two cats, and myself, for I could scarcely touch one of the goad things he had already brought in, for laughing.

Ada and her mother laughed heartily as Ronald narrated the discomfiture of the in« veterate dancer.

" Oh poor little Tommy Jones I What was the tune be fell to ?" exclaimed Ada.

" Sweet Jenny Jones."

"Then we must re-christen it the Tommy Jones Waltz,"

" Yes," replied Ronald, "and we will have it now, please Ada. I heard Tommy sing, whistls, and play it so often, that I bated it ; but ainoe his misfortune, I take a malicious pleasure in listening to it. Whenever I felt a bit tired or sad on the journey, I always atrnck it up, and it quite cheered me. Will you play it now, Ada ?"

" No. You read your letters instead ; I knowyou want to."

" Well, I will read one," he said, sorting tho packet. " It is from Mr. Sharp, and no doubt contains information that I -and per- haps yon, too, Ada-may be a little interested in. After that, you will play, will you not t"

" Anything you like, Ronald. Besides, you know I am interested in anything thai

conoerns you."

The words wore commonplace enough, literally interpreted, but to Ronald they con- veyed rauoh, very much, as indeed they were intended to ; and she was rewarded with a look that satisfied her. He broke theseal and opened the letter, whioh contained the informa- tion he bad waited so loug and anxiously for. It was a reply to his letter diking his em- ployer if he would sell the Boorooma station, wholly or in part. In it Mr. Sharp stated that he would not tako a partner into the concern ; bnt that if he did think of doing so, he would rather have Ronald than anyone else he knew, as he had proved his com- petence in its management for such a length of time. He had, however, a dislike to a

partnership, and would only sell out, which he was willing to do, on the following terms : Half cash, and the balance might remain for a term of years on approved bills, with «ecurity on the stock and station. He paid Ronald tome high and- well merited compliments, which of course were greatly appreciated by Ada and her mother.

"That is a very fair offer of Mr. Sharp's," ' Ronald said. " Indeed, the price and terms are mnoh easier than I anticipated. Bat I must go through tho business quietly, and see what ohanoe I have of making ends meet. If I decide to take the station, I mast then aee

where I can get the money ; though I do not think there will be mach tronble in arranging for that."

Ada played the Tommy Jones waltz, and other music, after which. Ronald expressed his determination not to keep Mrs Brandon up any longer, as it was getting late. Ada saw him to the front door. The same mysterious sounds that Mrs. Brandon had heard on Ronald's entrance again met her ears. The door closed, and Ada again went through the peformance of regulating her curls, but only with one hand while she was, apparently, vainly endeavouring with the other to ohain the door. She was not artful -indeed no,-but it is very trying fer a young lady comparatively in-oxperiouced in lave matters to appear suddenly before the calm gaze of the parent, with a heightened oolour and dishevelled hair, after letting her sweetheart out ; and it is one of those wonder- ful natural effects having no oause as yet explained by Boience, that do occassionly crop np and astonish us. The question is-Why should the simple act of letting a gentleman ont, saying "goodnight," and fastening the door again, cause so much palpitation, oolour, and disorder of her sunny curls, when, tho same girl, will night after night see a bevy of lady friends out-and even kiss each of them several times-fasten the door, and skip back into the room looking as cool as a onoumbsr, and not a hair out of place t How is

itt

" Ada, howlong you are fastoninethat chain to-night," «aid Mrs. Brandon. Is it ont of order !

"No, mamma. I am coming now. Shall I pat the lamp ont in the parlour V

" Yes, dear."

Performing that little office afforded her a roBpite for two or three minutes longer, and an opportunity to view herself in the mirror. When she returned to the drawing-room, her mother said,

" We will hare prayers now, darling. Get me the books."

Mrs. Brandon read, as usual, a short form of evening prayer ia her silvery tones, and Ada's happy heart was raised, as thc fulness of love does uplift that incomprehensible organ. Then, the fond kiss of the mother-, no less affectionately rospondod to hy Ada, and both retiral-tho first to sleep, and the other to lie for a time refelling in that supreme bliss fullness that is perhaps only realised by suoh

idolaters as she.

NOT VP TO BOTANY.-Paterfamilias "What is iucludcd in your curriculum?" Young hopeful-"Our what, pa ;" paterfam- ilias- " The curriculum of our college." Young Hopeful-" Woll, to teil tho truth, I don't know. Yon see, buiuz (.lie stroke oar and the picked niue captain, 1 have not muoh time for botany."

A SLOW YOUNO MAN.-"I am afraid that young Featherly, who calls on you so often, is rather a fast ynuug man," said a father tobi's daughter. "On, ni, he isn't, father," replied thc litllo limier, who was pressut, "What do you know about Mr. Featherly?" demanded fhn ciM man. "I only know," he replied, "thatl heard bim ask sister for a kiss last ni^h*-., and BUO told him ho could if lie would lie <|iiiclt about it. But it was tho slowest Uisa that ever I saw."

THE Major (who take* an intelligent intrest in science).-"I sometimes feel-a-almost half inclined to-er-suspect that possibly the disease you mention may-er-may, under certain eurcumstnnces. not be nb3olntely non- infectious-at least I"-Sir hubert Pillia gton (M.D., F.R.8., fcc.)--thc self-confid- ence of thesn amateurs ! Eb, Sir Malcolm McCure (ditto, ditto).-" Well, it's a matter to which I have devoted my entire existence -and-I emphatically declare it is!" [The Major gets quite unsettled of his convictions i on the subject]