Chapter 52034083

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Chapter NumberXX
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article52034083
Full Date1884-08-23
Page Number3
Corrections0
Word Count3225
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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

lake ami fktxte.

RONALD WALTON.

OF EARLY SQUATTING LIFE

QUEENSLAND

' AtJTHOB OF ADVENTURES IN QUEENS-

LAND."

[All right reserved.]

CHAPTER XX.-POOR MARV BLAST'S DEATH.

-SNOWBALL, AND THOSE HORRID CATS AGAIN.-DEATH AND BURIAL OP PEARL.

Poor Mary Blast drooped rapidly after her

separation from her husband. She was ten- derly nursed and cared for by her good and eccentric aunt, and many were thc passages of affection that passed between them. For a time after Mary sought the shelter of her aunt's roof, she was able to get about, but with difficulty, and she never went beyond the garden. The exposure to that wretched night into which she was driven by Blast's brutality, combined with extreme iniBery of mind and the coming trouble before hinted at induced such debility as to leave the doctor very little hope of her ultimate recovery. The hectic flush deepened, thc cough iii

creased, and she was at last unable to rise from her bed. How earnestly she prayed for

the welfare of her infant girl I And day and i night elie failed not to ask that blessings cud | forgiveness might lie extended to lier mur- derer-though she nut not her petitions in that form nor thought of him in that light. Faithful and true to the end, she had no regrets for herself, nor grieved for her wasted young life. Oh 1 wretched mau ! What more could you have desired than thc posses- sion of such loving, self-sacrificing girl t Ono day," when the end was near-a bright

beautiful day-aud the flowers looking their I best, the bouquets that lier own thin fingers had tastefully arranged, decorated the room, and her aunt sat by her bedside holding the baby up for her to talk to. She said,

" Aunty, dear, you must let mc have my own way now, and sometimes talk about him. Howl wishI could see him, if only for five minutes. Just to ask aud pronounce the for- giveness that people who arc about to separ- ate for ever ought to give and receive. Are we separated for over when our companion-

ship is Bevcred iu this world ? Can two so closely bound by the holiest of tics, os huBbnnd and wife, ever bc separated ?"

"The wicked shall be dammed. That we know, Mary. You arc not wicked, and never .have been. Then how can you expect him to go to thc same place that you arc going to ?"

Mary covered her eyes with her skeleton fingers, at those, to her, harsh words, and the buming tears trickled through them ; not that she felt thc words of her aunt were meant unkindly. She and her aunt differed widely iu their views of the hereafter, but they differed without rancour. Mary, with the feelings of a wife and mother, held more tender and expansive views of God's mercy

than her aunt.

" Do not say so, dear aunty. I think wc shall all rise to a better life-even the wickedest of us. We shall all have other chances, I feel assured. A God of infinite love and mercy will surely not condemn poor frail creatures of bis own creating to eternal torments for thc errors of this short life. Surely uot ! Yes we shall meet again I feel

sure."

"Nonsense, child. Do not buoy up your hopes with such fallacies. ' They that nave dose good shall go into life eveNostimr ; and they that have done evil into everlasting

fire."

" I cannot, think it, aunty "

" Then you fly in the face of scripture."

1 "No, Indeed, aunty. The general tenor of the scriptures is that God is a God of mercy and love, and would have all to be saved. You may quote isolated text« to support 'any &eory, mit is ibat fair ? Besides, iáre¡ we

quite sure in ail oases of the literal banaler Vaubanth» ortafausU'/:n riijixm Lr"

"Do nrt^ jft wickedly, Mary. jïmj

make my blood mn cold, you say Buck dreafl

ful things that way ' j

" I cannot help it, aunty. I do. not suppose our'Creator will think it very wicked of me for using the reason He has given me, and which leads me to think of Him as more merciful than many other people do. Why did our Saviour go and 'preach to the spirits in prison 7' I believe He and His saints are doing so now, and will continue to do so till all turn to God."

"Mary," said her aunt, with a troubled look, " you are preaching a very dangerous doctrine, extremely unorthodox !"

Thus did aunt and niece argue. It is, per haps natural that people's religious belief should take its colour from their constitu-

tional bias, or be restricted by their capacity.

Ina few short months Mary Bloat passed away, and her little dead-bora infant was coffined with her. During the lust few days of her life she talked a great deal about her brutal husband, but always In terms of affec- tion, and in hopes of meeting him in happi- ness hereafter. She asked her aunt why she had opposed her marriage with Silas. The old lady looked troubled, but did not like to refuse to comply with what she felt waa one of thc few requests she would ever make in

this life.

" Tell me all, amity. If it is a secret, I shall take it with me. I would so like to know why you objected. I feel now, that you kept something back from me. I was very wilful, and very likely anything you could have told me would have made no dif- ference. I really loved him very much, and believed he loved me.

" Yes, my child, I will tell you. Perhaps I ought to have told you then. Heaven forgive mo if I did wrong in keeping it from you. Do you remember flint I told you how much I loved a mau, whom, I had reason to believe, loved me fervently-and do still lMslievo that he did? And how he tried to force me to marry him !>/ exciting my i'ealousy? How he married another, anil

iroke lier heart, and in the end committed suicide, leaving an infant sou ?"

"Yes ; I remember all that, aunty."

" That son was Silas Blast."

Mary thought for a. long time, and then

said

" How strange, aunty ! I do not believe in fate, or I should be inclined to think that some strange influence has been at work.

Aunty, my little one will be motherless in a few days, for . I cannot get safely over the coming trouble, even if I last till it comes. You will take care of my little angel,

Florence ?"

The poor broken-hearted girl was right,

aud the end was as she foresaw. After her

death, which was a great blow to her good aunt, the poor old lady's eccentricities iu 1 creased especially in relation to her cats.

Snowball found it no easy task to perform all the extra duties imposed on her in that way. by the whims of her mistress. One of her new duties was to

make tho cats say their prayers every morn- ing and evening. This performance was gone through much m thc same way as their grace at meals-Snowball said tho words while they sat m supplicating postures.

Uk« most other crcaturesLwhose natural instincts it is attempted to crush :wU1i a strong hand, the pampered cats of Neptune Villa were constantly rebelling. They loved to ramble free in the warm sun, and td prey on little birds and bush mice, in preference to being shut up in a close room, and fed ou the best that mistaken kindness could devise.

They loved to perambulate at night, and squabble with the neighbouring cats on the roofs ; or to sit on tue chimney tops and squeal at each other in pleasant conversation ;

or hurl notes of defiance across to their enemies, and lick the dew off their sleek coats, till thc small hours, in preference to being captured at 9 p.m., bathed in hot water, and put to bcd before - a roasting fire at the lower end of thc chimney. What true cats would not ? Cats are fond of good fires, good food, and other civilised creature comforts ; hut there is a time for all things, and Aunt Felina's time was not theirs. Thus, the more the old lady put on them, the more determinedly did they rebel, and at length Snowball was at her wit's end. Aunt Felina rose one night from her bed to see if all the cats were safe. She frequently did so -sometimes two or three times a night. To her horror not a souud greeted her-only that of the sharp wind as it whistled through a broken paneof glass in thc cat's nursery, ltwas about two ia the morning, and a very frosty morning too. Snowball was aroused from her slumbers in her warm bed, and was told what had happened. She exclaimed sleepily, as she sat rubbing-her eyes,

" Frizzle dem cat» 1"

"Snowball! How dare you apply such language to my precious cats ?"

"Oh, missus, I only mean dcm big wicked cats outside-'trangers-not your precious

davlins."

" You wicked girl ! Did you say your prayers before going to bed to-night ?"

" Oh yes, missus. Always I say 'em. I very good girl.'

" Do you ever make usc of that naughty word again," continued the old lady, os Snow- ball rose and wrapped a blanket round her black shivering form before going out after the cats; "fi you do you will never go where my precious pets are sure to go when they die."

" Where dat, missus ?"

"Why, to heaven, tobe sure."

*' Weil missus, if I dore much cold nights an' big chimlcys up dore, I rather not go,' said Snowball, mentally resolving to say the naughty word very often, to lessen the chance of being with the departed cats hereafter. She went out into the frosty, starlit morn, and after some trouble, captured three of the cats, but Pearl was missing. Pearl muBt bo found, and Snowball again issued into thc chilly air ia a very bad temper, using the naughty word very freely, aud with much em phasis as soon as she was out of her mistress' hearing. This she did with tho two-fold object of relieving her feelings, and of utterly destroying all chance of a rc-ünion with thc cats hereafter. She at length spied Pearl on thc chimney top, where she had jumped from some place of concealment, in the endeavour to find the whereabouts of her captured com- panions. Snowball was on the roof in a moment, and nearly reached Pearl, but her ladyship objected to the curtailment of her liberty, and sprang to the roof, running along tho ridge, and jumping ou to thc chimney at the opposite end. Snowball gave chase, but was not quite so active as a cat, and the same performance had to be gone over and over again from one chimney to the other. What wonder that thc girl lost the small remnant of her patience ? Her opportunity came, and she seized the cat by thc throat. Pearl objected to the treatment, and used her claws freely, to avoid which her captor shook her so violently as to dislocate her neck. When she saw what she had done, she quietly dropped her on to thc flower bed by thc chimney. Pearl fell into a geranium bush, and her murderer went in and pretended that she could not find her, and supposed she must have gone away somewhere for the night ; so her mistress ; considering that thc poor girl hod been out iii thc cold quite au hour, tether off from any further search.

" Good gracious ! Snowball What is the matter with your hand ? It is all torn and bleeding. Did any of the cats scratch you ?"

" No, missus, only me been ketch 'im Florinda like it rose bush. '

" Poor girl ! Come aud I will dress it for you. Friar's balsam is good for scratches and cnts.'How deep they are !"

Snowball, like all her kind, had neither con- science nor religion in any perceptible degree, or she would certainly have been pricked at her mistress' kindness and soli-

citude.

At daylight, Snowball was sent out to look for Pearl, and after a pretended search, she dragged the stiffened carcass of the cat ont of the geranium, and conveyed it to her mistress, who went off into a fit of hysteria. When she recovered, Snowball asked if she should. dig alióle in the garden and put thc deceased ..Info it.

,, /"So;, 1 cannot nave my favourite put ^wajf 'li nat tancaremónloui way, I cannot

p^jrith her, to-day. She mort be buried to "a » proper maimer. How did t&i dreadful

thus; iiappenr-Snowball, do you think J" -J»

"Why, missus, I find ber all a heap jut . '".<! 'outside de chimley. I s'posethe dariir?/.got '?

giddy on top an' tum'le down. Oh, dear I « I very sorry 1 She best cat of whole lump', by

chalks-'cept she wouldn't say no prayers du ??' ¿>, two night. You fink she very wicked for dat!"

" Do not speak so of the dead, Snowball. It .. ?:,Û

is not ChriBtian-like." ' '

" Oh, I Christian all out. I not say noting '

bad-never. S'poso I good girl like it Peart, - Vit

then me go hebhcn, ehr' ;¿'

" Yes, indeed, Snowball ; that you will.1* -'.-¿J Hie little gin then mentally resolved not to

be as good as Pearl. Certainly, she wished ~, v; that the dead animal's mantle might descend upon her, not metaphorically, .but

substantially, in the shane of her skin, i It ".0 was a pretty one, and she thought how be coming a decoration it would make cut ap and

woven in with her black wooly locks. She / . "i.Ä knew that any proposal of the sort would meet with a severe rebuke, so ehe abstained

from hinting it. Snowball was cute, and knew >'|$ Eretty well all her mistress' weak points, iand

ow to humour them. In common with' all -A; her race, she was quite incapable of receiv ing the sublime truths of Christianity, but she,

bemg wiso in her generation, was sharp enough ?if to see that to fall in with the idosyncrasics of her employer was tho best policy. ' She

Boid her prayers-that is, her mistress* '-.J. prayers-without in tho least comprehending ^ or caring what they meant. After all, how : Ä much did the little half-savage creature differ

from multitudes of taught, professing H'-i Christians Î -jí

People who have ridden one hobby for- X'-% well, wcwill not fix thc period-but whether -1^ tho hobby be buds, charities, dogB, the -.??{ relation of their flirtations, or cats-but '."?'; ja especially cats-they generally drift beyond - : 435 the line-if there is one-between eccentricity - .', £i? and it. Let it be clearly understood :;. %. that we speak of hohhitu, not generalities,'; for . ' rS>

it is well known that one may bo perfectly '.-'aß sano on all point save one. So it was with «;;.'...«$£ Aunt Felina. She wes shrewd .fend V ' jiïî sensible in every relation of life, not touching ;'7">'0%

cats. She would listen with enthusiasm to .

the narration of some trivial trick performed ; í " ífí3 by a cat, or some trait in its character, but if ..vJssjSj a similar story were told her of a dog: or a . /;-V*'5» bird, it would not excito thc smallest feeling : ' - : <ié of admiration in her breast. ?';.." ofe?

Tho corpse of Pearl lay in state, and was- iv

mourned over all that day. An order .was :.-K'tPß sent to a carpenter for a coffin ; Snowball dug .l-ir-jjSS a grave in thc garden ; and-will it' be 0-$38¡ beheved-when Aunt Fein» committed the -.HfSj body to the grave, she read thc burial service ', :'c.;,Jft over it. She talked much of her pet, -and re- '

peatedly asserted her belief that ¡thad gone .'Zif-% to heaven ; at each iteration of which, ' '/'sf

Snowball rushed to the cat's nursery and : deeply emphasised the naughty word not ft

few times. . '?''.'It^

From the time Mary left her husband, be ., never mode thc least attempt to Bec lier or '

her child, beyond thc letter lie wrote, and *^gg

which fell into the bauds of Aunt Felina. "

He revengefully resolved to cut them off by ''*?'? ft making a fresh will, and leaving everything, :? '

*° «I>""UAB. which would lie thought, be a . "îfeS high and histing mómimera w nn-rtjj^aa.,- jj-R

ness, and satisfy his vengeance at the same .. -.'«.-i^ê time. He bad already given u portion oí

his ill-gotten possessions-Giovanni's farm- - ''?'HjgS for church ana school purposes;and had abo "'»ST offered a large sum of money towards the j.HJt^ erection of tho buildings, on condition that '¿'¡Mí three other people would subscribe the same j'?'..fgß amount each within six months. Cheap <j Jjfl liberality I He knew very well that three Buen .' Î;

sums would not bo forthcoming within the ^': :**^ time specified, but his priucciy liberality was ; ? .Y:£¡¿

talked about a great deal, and that was just ? ij| what he wanted. That his wife and he were .'i^

separated every one kucw, but he played his

cards so well as to cause thc whole blame to .

be thrown on thc shoulders of bis innocent '.'iííj wife, Bot a whisper of which over reached the J-fe seclusion of the villa. Many uncharitable - :

remarks were uttered against the broken- ? , . í ¡S hearted girl, but thc affair blew over, and <. was superseded in thc minds of busy-bodies . '

by some other scandal, even before her death. 3|

Aunt Felina engaged a respectable, middle- ii??.* aged person to attend to little Florence. The . ;í: child grew healthy and strong, as children did " :;¿ J in that salubrious climate, even in the towns, _

before they came to") thickly populated, and ^: -:i the streets enclosed on cither side by con- vg; tinuous rows of houses. Civilisation-save the ¿£§5 mark !-is always attended by its jackals- "¿fis disease and premature death, engendered by V; ^ ignorance and vice, which prey upon the i. S¿¡? vitals of tho strong, as well as on the young ; ;

and weak. -"

Florence was often taken to see Mrs. " vii Brandon, who still lived in her little cottage,

for that lady adhered to her determination iS.'i not to be persuaded to accompany her daugh- ? ; 'M

ter to Boorooma after ber marriage. She v^if

maintained that it would not bc conductive to t

their happiness, so Ronald and Ada very . .."V/jg reluctantly gave up thc attempt to alter her ~.£¿$

resolve. '

{To be continued.) > ;