|Newspaper Title||Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1878 - 1954)|
|Trove Title||Ronald Walton: A Tale of Early Squatting Life in Moreton Bay|
BONALD WALTON. I
A TALE OF EABLT SQUATTINO LIFE ts
BY THE AUTHOR OF " ADVENTURES IN QUEENS-
[AS B'tgidè Reserved.]
CHAPTER X-Snag BLAST, AND BIS CLERE, HARDSHELL.-GIOVINNI THE MURDERER, AND
HIS SO». VILLA INT.
Süss Blast, solicitor, «lid a good business, .nd bad a few thousands in the bank besides, If he gave to his ohnroh, or to charities, il was done with an under-handed ostentatious' ness peculiar to men of his stamp. Without making any parade, he did his charities ac that not only " left hand," but his friends and acquaintances, and many others also, knen what his "right hand" did. He wai , taken for a thoroughly moral, religion!
oharacter, and the more charitable of tbost who did not like him, gave him credit for being
what he seemed.
In a little room next to Silas Blast's private Office worked a wretched drodge, a yoong man about nineteen, small, pale, and thin. He had some into Silas Blast's possession-foi it is tbs correct term-abont three yean before in the following manner. His fathei was an Italian named Giovanni ; a poor farmei in the neighbourhood of Brisbane, who had committed a murder. Silas Blast defended him very ably, and succeeded in petting hu «ase in such a light, that though his eentenoe was death, yet it was afterwards commuted to impriibntnent for life-io those days, the least ' maroiral aentenoe of the two. Life ii -tweet, oonseqnently the wretched criminal fait nail/ grateful. Be had represen ted tc
Blatt that the farm tra« hi« own, and pre rion to hi» trial had signed a deed making it ove to the lawyer, which deed waa to be aetei noon in the event of Giovanni not being «bli to .pay the fee for. bia defence. He wa evidently a rogne, for he had already madi over the »ame property to another peraon U whom he owed money. Thia fact waa, o opune, not known to Blast till the sentenci wai patt, bot aa soon as he heard of it ' tu institnted private enquiries and ascertained that thc man Fatten, who waa in possession, was also armed with a sale-note signed by Giovanni. Silas Blast said nothing, but obtained an order to see his client in the goal. The wretchedmanwasalraost bewilderedly the first crush of the almost hopeleis sentepoe that bad been passed on him, and when Silas Blast entered his cell, he cowered before him, for his conscience told him bis visitor had something against him.
"You have acted like an abominable, sneak- ing pioltpocket. I have jost fonnd you out, abd had I known as much as I know do, you might be hanging and rotting in gibbet* for all I would have done to save yon." 1
*" I am very sorry, sir. Yon don't know what a man may do in euch a plight as I waa in. I had no money ; but the farm is worth mora than I owed the maa that's gat it, and I did think he would have given me enough money to pay you, but he wouldn't."
" You should have not deceived me. Yoor act ii not justifiable, either from a legal, moral or religious point of view. Yon low-minded rascal, I'll be even with you yet."
"I know all that you say is true, sir. I'm very sorry, mcleod I om. You did all that a gentleman could do for me. I know tbere was no one else in the country oould have done as much. You have my eternal gratitude and mayers."
" What ia the good of yonr gratitude? Do you think the gratitudeof murderer's would put clothes on my back! Do you suppose the promises of pickpockets will supply my table with food t Do you think the prayers of such es yon will pay a fair per centum for jnyexpen Bive education, and the valuable time I am obliged to devote to the working up of a damnable case like yonrs ?"
He might have added, Do you think your prayers Jand gratitude would look well at the Eeaa of a charitable subscription list 7"
The wretched man covered his face with his hands and said,
"Ohl pray forgive me, sir. What can I do ? I wish I bad something to give yon for ali the trouble yon have had on my account. I have nothing left but my boy 1 What will become of him now, I don't know. He is not over strong bat he s a very fair scholar. He always took to his books well. He can ride a
" Your eon 1 You never mentioned mm to me before. He can read and write, you eayî" Silas Blast said, moderating bis tone of
" Yes, sir, that he can, and more. He knows Latin, and is a good one at figures. The good parson, Mr, WattB, took a fancy to him, and taught bim a lot."
" What is ne doing now-and where is
"He's working at anything he can get to do Bir, since I got into trouble; but he telle me that people are shy of bim on my account. It would be a renl chnrity if some one would take him and give bim work. It gives me a lot of trouble to think that ho is Bullering, and likely to, for my fault, for ho's a good honest
An idea entered the brain of the ente Blast. Perhaps ho might to make some prolit out of the boy and thus repay himself for his trouble in defending the father. He had worked, sud why should be not be paid ? Besides, in taking the boy, he could further glorify himself by putting the act in light of o charity to him and his father. Yes, thc spec, looked well ; and if there was any profit to be
mnnn nn lin «TI» til» mun tn nitrnr-t it.
" How old ia he ?" eaiü wast. "He's near sixteen, sir."
"If ho suits me nil! yon bind him to me for 6 ve or seven yeats ?"
" God bless you, sir 1 that I ehall 1 1 al way B heard you were a Christian man,"
" I trust I am," said Blast, putting on kia beBt¿Sunday tone and expression. "And if I eau do a fellow creature a good turn, I'm always glad to be permitted to do it Will you send the lad to mo as soon as yon can ?"
"You arc too good, sir. You don't ;kaow how much you have taken off my mind ; and you make me feel more ashamed of myself for
taking you in."
Eilaa Blast did not feel comfortable at this .speech;he felt how utterly unworthy he was of its application, but would not say anything that was likely to undecieve the man, or that would rob him oi one title of his religion'
Another idea also struck bim.
"Who drew out the document that you signed making your farm over to the present
"The man himself, air. He was a neigh*
boar of mino, «nd a farmer."
"Goad !" thought Blast, and bis snaky eyes almost glowed with an expression. "All is not lost that is in danger. I will see to that." Bethen said,
"Then you will send the boy to mo, and if I like the look of bim I can keep him t"
Oh [that you may, sir. Why you'd be the making of him. I'll tell him to be good and obedient to yon, and I believe he will. I hope you will take him, sir. Give him a trial'any way," said Giovanni anxiously ; "and may heaven bless you 1"
Young Giovanni wa« a dark, handsome featured lad, email, bnt wiry ; and had been very useful to his father on the farm. He was willing to continue to work at his old home, bat the man, Patten, who took possess- ion of it, bad a family of his own sufficiently large to work it without further assistance. Moreover, his wife declared that she did not care to have anything to do with one of so dangerous a breed. Others had the same feeling, so the poor boy had a hard time cf
As soon as -Silas Blast re-entered his offioe after the interview with the criminal, be called his head clerk, John Hardshell.
" Hardshell, you go at once to the man who has possession of Giovanni's farro, and ask him to let you have a look at that doc- ument by vitue he holds the land,"
" Yes, Bir ; but suppose he will not give it to
"He knows you very well, and if he will not let you take it ont of the houBo, surely he will allow yon to read it in his presence, If he consents to you bringing it away so much tho bettor. If not, then you ' read, mark, learn and inwardly digest it," be said deliberately. "Do you understandt"
" Yes, sir," said Hardshell,with a stony
look. "Perfeotly, sir."
Who but the initialed in the mysteries of parchment aud red tape could have interpreted that reply and Btony stare of HardBheUBî ! His employer read it, though, with ease and
satisfaction. He know that any business j undertaken by Iiis clerk with that total
absence ol expression and hia eyes and face, ! was as good settled. j
" I'll have that preoions document in my j hands before to-night, I'll warrant, or my name is not Silas Blast," ho said quietly to himself as coon at bis clerk had departed and shut the door. "He isa cool thousand a year to me I would rather hare him on "my side than against me, and I would not say that of any other man in Brisbane. I would sooner take him into partnership than let him leave mo and set cn in opposition. I hope he wiil not thiuk of it, however."
John Hardshell went straight to tho farm Fatten was there at work, but Hardshell walked slowly on, simply saying,
"Good afternoon, Mr. Patten."
Patten returned his salute, looking as though he wished to say something more.
" You are all right," thought the lawyer.
In half as hour be walked back that way. The man was still hoeing the ground. Hardshell nodded to him as he walked slowly
"Ob, Mr. Hardshell, won't you stay a bit, . sir t I want to ask yon what they hare de
cidedtodo with Giovanni 1"
J " I don't mind if I do stay a few minutes lhere a bad headaehe, and have been trying to walk it off. Giovanni}-Oh, yea. Why
they commuted tho sentence to irnprisonmai
.-? ".Hi ought to heve been hong, «lr," e»i Patten feelingly. "Don'tyou think eo, anr1
Hardshell* stony look «ss ouiuatanlity, ami
"well, whether he ought or not, he is no to be. This is.« nice .bit of land. Do yoi
rant it of Giovanni ?"
. "Mo, sir, I bought it offhim."
Are yon sure of the titlet" said Hardshel feigning surprise,
"Oh ye* 1" said Patten confidently, ", wrote the thing out myself. I paid thi money and got bu signature right enough."
"He may. have been swindling yon-but] suppose yóu knew what you were doingt" said Hardshell indifferently.
The man looked a bit dictnrbed, and said,
" tVuy, howoould he swindle me? Shall I show the receipt, air ?"
"If yon wish, certainly."
They had been sittiDg on the fenoe while talking. Patten jumped off and ran to bia hot, which waa about fifty yards off. He shortly returned with the document, which Hardshell perused to the end, with his adamant stare, hot with inward satisfaction. " What do^ou think of it now, sir?"
" Well-jt bas the merit of being short, bul I can't say I think it a very Iawyer-Iike.docu meut. I will show it to Mr. Blast and ask him what he thinks of it, if you like."
" I'd rather not part with it, sir ; thank you
all the same,"
"Very well, please yourself-it ia no bini, ness of mine," Hardshell replied, carelessly extending hia hand with the document. "It struck me that it was not very formally drawn np, and that the opinion of a man aa high io his profession ss my employer, might be valuable to you-tbat'B all. You know the old saying about ' a man acting as his own lawyer having a fool fer a client ?' "
Patten hesitated, and said,
" Beg yon pardon, sir. I only thought il might get Inst, but I know it will bo safe enough with yon. Will I have to pay any* thing? When shall I call for it?"
"Pay I No ! You do not know how good Mr. Blast is to poor people. He will examine it with pleasure. No, no- do not trouble ta call for it," Hardshell said putting the docu- ment into his pocket book, "I will bring it back to you." Then looking at bis watch, be continued, "Dear me, it is getting late 1 1 must be off. Good bye."
He pursued bis way homeward at a kristel pace than he had travelled at first passing Patten's furn. The latter resumed his work with a mind ill at case ; and he thought as as he glanced at the retreating figure ol tho lawyer.
" Hts head might be better by tho way he walks. Well, well-It must bc a bard life foi them poor lawyers, fixed np in their little offices. I wouldn't like to be them. I'd sooner work out here in the sunshine hot aa il is. I don't like what be said about thal receipt. Can't tell nothing by his looks. Why a man could tell better what's inside as ironbark tree by the looks of the bark, than he could guess what Hardshell was thinking of by his face. I never could make him ont. Why, be looks half a fool sometimes and not the chap for a lawyer. Then ho couldn't tell mo whether that paper was all right. Well, 1 know his master cou-he's cute enough they
'fTardshell entered hie master's office quite out of breath ; opened his pocket-book, and presented the precious document. The two exchanged glances, and Silos Blast said,
" You oro j ust in time. I received thiB note ten mientes ago by the lad, Giovanni, I intend to take him into iny service, and Wattle is now drawing np thc agreement.
Hardshell read tho ill-written note the sub- stance of which was as follows :
" Honoured - sir, my boy has just come to tell me that no one will have anything to dc with him, because of me. Ho says he'll do something bad to get bim into goal, where ht will be fed, if ko can't get « Ork. Goodparsoi Watts ie up the country, or he would dc something for him, I know. He wants to gel your place very much, and God hies« you il you take him. I am in great misery and can't help him. Indeed I am a curse to him I am to be taken away with a lot of othon from here to Norfolk Island. Uko prison ii too full, and the ship sails to-morrow morn' ing. Honoured sir, yonr humble servant,
" There is no time to lose, Hardshell. Yoi go and Bee if Wattle is getting on with thal agreement. When oompleted, bring it to
Hardshelldeparted, and in duetimeretuned
with the document.
" Have you read it ?" said Blast.
" Yes, sir ; and it is in due form. Mir Wattle always does his work correctly."
"Very well. Then oomo to the goal with me. I have the order for admission. Young Giovanni is in the little vacant office. Bring him with you."
The convict was delighted when they entered the cell, and expressed his pleasure and thanks, as soon as Blast told him he wished to have the agreement signed at once.
. " Shall Mr. Hardshell read the document to you ?"
"No, sir, surely not. It's all right coming from you. I hope you will prosper."
The agreement was signed and witnessed, and the lad was bound hand and foot to Silas Blast for seven years. In consideration foi the utmost service he could render his mästet he was to receive clothing and food for the first three yeats ; and a small yearly sam-by the way of encouragement as Blast put it-in addition, for the remainder of the term of
Father and son embraced, and Bpoke in the sweet tongue of Italy for some time; then they separated, and the parting seemed very painful to both. Giovanni said to his son,
" Forget from this time that you have a father. Oh ! Italy 1 Italy 1 Would I had never left thee I-I was free there-In chains
He could say no more, bat extended his manacled hands lo Silas Blast and Hardshell ; once more embraced his son-the last embrace on earth-and then threw himself on the Boor
of his cell.
The lawyer, his clerk, and slave-the litter with a heavy heart-returned to the office. Blast ordered young Giovanni to stay in the rcom ho had previously occupied, and then entered his private office with Hardshell. He took Patten's document out of bis desk and said,
" Hardshell-this piece of paper is useless to the roan as a title to enable him to hold that (arm. (Hardshell knew that as soon as he read it while sitting on the fence.) It is
utterly worthless, but you know I would not oppose it on (//ai ground-it would not look well. Now, you take this into your offioe, refer 'to the deed signed by that scoundrel Giovanni, cowparo tim dates of the Ooo, and and return Patten's useless one to-morrow. I do not want to see it again ,'
Tbe snaky gaze of the employer met the stony s taro of his clerk. The two men at such
times had but one brain.
(To bc continual.)
"TALKING about tho JAWS of death I" ex- claimed a maa who is living with bis third scolding wife, "I tell you they are nothing to the jaws of life."
FASTEST PASSAGE OS KKCOK».-The New Zealand Shipping Company's steamship Ruapchu arrived at Plymouth at 1*45 p.m., on May 14, having made the passage from Lyttelton, Nev Zealand, in thirty-seven days twenty hours forty minutes, which is tho fastest mn home on record. The Ruapehu encountered strong head wiud3 during the earlier part of thc voyage.
IT is Baid that a French painter one day visited the Salon in Paris, in company with a friend who waa a member of the Committee of the Selection, and who had been instrumental in procuring the acceptance of the painter's work. When tbe artist came near his picture he exclaimed : ' Good gracions, you're exhibiting my ploture the wrong side np I' ' Hush I', was the reply,' * the committee ref use it the other way."