Chapter 60447794

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Chapter NumberIV
Chapter Title
Chapter Url
Full Date1874-12-30
Page Number11
Word Count4914
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleIllustrated Australian News for Home Readers (Melbourne, Vic. : 1867 - 1875)
Trove TitleMatty and her Lovers: An Australian Story
article text

ClIAVTEW IV. . The trial came on the following day, and the court was densely crowded. Tho case as put by the prosecution — appeared to bo clear enough. . Tlio prisoner had brought for sale to tho bank tho material now before the bench ; and had sold the samo, aud this material consisted of two ounces nino pennyweights of genuine gold, and 0110 aud a-half ounces of spurious — that is to say, of brass filings ; and which mixture ho sold as throe ounces nineteen pennywoights of genuine gold, and received the monoy for same. This was about the substance of the caso for the prosecution, and against it tho lawyer hud nothing to say, or, at least, nothing of any moment. Willie insisted , on admitting that he sold the gold as described, but he stoutly main tained. that it was just as he had obtained it From tho grouiicl. Although wo havo given the pith of tho 3ase, pro. arid con., in a fow words, it took

many nours Detoro tne court got tnus tar. The lawyer took good care of that. Indeed, the lawyer, an astute man, had already become convinced that Willie Hush was in nocent of any, intention to sell spurious gold ; but for all that the lawyer was aware that he had done so, or rather had attempted to do so, and in the faco of this tho lawyer was fairly puzzled. There was an undercurrent, a something behind which he had_ just got the barest glimpse of, but as yet it had assumed no shnpo ; ho therefore confined his exertions to obtain an adjourn ment until the noxt day, and with some dif ficulty succeeded. Amongst tho crowd of spectators in the court the eye of Willie Hush had almost instantly settled upon the shrinking ligure of a girl, but so shrouded lip as to bo almost unrecognisable by liny other eye but his own; VVillie's heart throbbed as, ho gazed upon her ; standing so still nnd motionless, but. drinking in with such avidity tho words of the ploadmg lawyer. She, .then; had hot deserted him; She gave iio credoiido to thia terrible accusation. JSo\ the beautiful features so pale arid iiifcbred ? the bowed form ; tlirillitfgy it appeared to h'itri; with painful but anxious sympathy, told that she at least had not abandoned him, and Willie's moistened eye brightened, and. his heart nerved itself to meet the ordeal. When the adjournment was announced, and Willie led back to his cell, the shrinking figure wearily took its way home. The excitement which had hitherto upheld her subsided, and she sank down upon her bed, a perceptible tremor running through her frame. All her vital powers had, as it were, been consumed by the sustained nervous excitability which the position of her lovor had called forth. As it was, she was hardly conscious of hor actions, aud even her thoughts were rapidly becoming confused and incoherent. ? .'I believe I am going_ mad,' she mur mured, with a tremulous sigh}; ' yos, it must be that. I wish I were doad ;' but then she pressed her hands tightly over her eyes, as if to shut out some painful vision ; the vision of her lover still in his prison cell. 'But not yet, not 3ret,' sho murmured ; 'once lot Willie bo released and then she would die. Sho had brought her self into disrepute, hor father had said ; perhaps sho had, she did'nt care if it was so, sho would sacrifice her life and oven her re putation, if needs be, for Willie's sake. But a little while longer; once let Willie be acquitted, and then — ;' but now her thoughts became more confused, fantastic visions and wild schemes hazily floating through her dethroned mind, then becoming dim, jumbled together, andincomprehensible. After lying in this state for some hours a strange calmness took possession of her. The Matty of old appeared no longer to exist ; it seemed to her as if sho had been living for ages, an isolated, almost pulse less existence ; a being not of this sphere at all, but tarrying unwittingly for the ac complishment of some groat object. The setting sun slowly crept into tho room, flooding, it with light and glory ; but it brought no light, no hope to the darkened soul of the girl. Thon the colored light as slowly faded away, as if in despair, and the falling shadows thronged and flitted on tho wull. Then these too faded away, and the funeral pall of darkness enveloped her. But presently the rising moon geutly in Btilled a soft radianoo around hor, but she heeded not their changes ; sunlight, dark ness, moonlight were all the same now. She lay still, almost dedtli-like in her still ness, with nothing but the strange glitter which occasionally shone in her uyea to in dicate d living presence. It was only whou a watidbmig fo'btstdp passed tho store that anything like aotivo hfo showed itsolf ; theii she sfcartocl tip1 with a finger oh her lips, and witli all hor faculties concentrated in the . onq not of listening., But sho laid down again with a faint smile flitting over her pale features. ' Kpf' she murmerefi; 'hpw

could it be he ; but I had forgotten, he is still iii prison.' But she continued to start up whenever tho noise outside was repeated. Once she arose, and, drawing a shawl around her, muttered to herself, ' Willie is waiting at tho gate ; I must go down to Mni ;' but u sudden gleam of consciousness coming to her relief sho dropped the shawl with a heart-breaking sob and sank down in tho same pitiablo stato. ' Yes,' sho continued to murmur, 'ho is in prison ; but I havo done all I can — all that a woman could do, and its no use.' Sho had risen now, and stood gazing through tho window — through tho silver coated vine leaves that framed it — out into the far moonlight, her eyes resting n^on the level top of a great looming mound of earth. She knew that this was the embankment of Mark Hardy's great reservoir. Often had

aim walked round its edge on the balmy summer evenings, and ' with whom ?' sho tried to think. ' O yes, it was with Willie,' and' gazing into its calm liquid depths they together usod to trace the glittering Southern-cross, the constellation . of Orion, and many others, and Willie would tell her all tho old legendary lore connected with them. Ah ! those Avore happy times ; but then it was so very long ago. The frowning embankment of the reser voir, looming up against the clear moonlit sky, appeared to have a strange fascination for her. She would like to go there again. Softly she rose up, and crept noiselessly out of tho house ; her beautiful auburn hait streaming around hor in dishevelled abandon, and swiftly she made her way towards the I great reservoir. . . I Wo have already stated that the doferidini; I lawyer had succeeded in' obtaining an ad. jonrnment of tho trial. He did this in order to obtain, if possible, some oluo to the my. s- I tery which enveloped the case. . Public opinion unanimously acquitted Willie of aiiy

lciomous intention ; but putuio opinion uu suppoited by evidence w-uld hot go for much. If, however, tho lawyer had been present at an interesting conference .which took place between . Mark Hardy and the butcher at the shop' of the latter,' Mr. Walpole would have: seen his- way clearly enough to obtain for his client '«i triumphant acquittal. The conference in question took place the evening previous, to the selling of the spurious gold. by Willie. But this interview had been .preceded by % certain significant friendly advances made by tho butcher to Mark Hardy. 'Wo say significant, because, prbvious to this time, the two men had been bitter foes, as is generally tho case between rivals. These advances had been met by Mark Hardy, at first, with a surly rejection; but this sobn broke down before the steady bull dog-likb persistence . of Btiiigb, who anathe itiisod Willie Rush with a gusto Which wag like the balm of Gilead to the sore heart of the slighted reefer. .It wjis late at night, nBarly rrtidnight, when Mark Hardy, in pursuance of an ap pointmeut made with Bunco, entered the little room at tho back oE tho butcher's shop, and the two were soon seated together in earnest conversation, carried on in low, almost whispering tones. 'Yes,' said Bunce, 'if you'll go in with me 1 can send him to a quarter where he'll neither trouble you nor — nor anyone else any more,' . Of courso he was speaking of their common rival, Willie Hush. Mark Hardy looked into the brutalised countenance . of tho butcher with a half frightened look, and mechanically shifted a little further away from the formidable killing knife lying on tho table. 'No, curse it,' exclaimed the butcher, ' not that ; I don't mean that. I ain't such a damned fool as that,' and picking up tho knife ho Hung it to the further end of the room. 'Well,' said his companion, 'what do you propose then.' The butcher produoed a little paper packet aud oxposed to view its contents, which resembled iino gold. Then his hand pointed toward an old brass candlestick and a- file, and ho said, laconically, ' brass filings.' ' Well,' said Mark, 'what then?' ' Why, just this, I'll take these 'ere filings, up to his claim — now, to-night, if you like — and scatter 'em among his wash ; he's bound to .wash 'em down with the gold, and if he only does just carry it to the bank, why won't they jest drop on him that's all ; : they'vo had several parcels of bogus gold palmed off on 'em lately, and they're get ting precious cuto just now. Ho'll bo lagged, seven years at tho least, and sarvo - bim right too, damn him.' ' The butcher now leaned back in his : chair, eagerly watching tho effect of his pro posal upon his companions. Mark sat with his head rosting ujjon his i hand and pondered over the scheme' i laid before him. 'That will shift young Rush out of the road, anyhow,' , ho silently soliloquised, and then he — Mark — would have the game in his own ; hands As a rival ho had no fear of the : butcher.' . : ' Well,' said the butcher, 'what do you bhink of it !' ' Vory good ? ' The prudent Geordy considered again ; ho was willing, very willing, that the plan should bo carried out, ' but he did not much relish the idea of being personally concerned in it, ' It don't want two'men for that,' he said, ?'and;j don't boo what the dovil you want me at all for?' ' Why, just this,' said his companion, ' If anything should happen to go wrong, why you could just baok a covo up a bi$.'* 'All right,' said his companion^ after a little more hesitation, ' I'm on ?' aha the oompaoli was aealod by shaking Jiands. '

I But little more was said, and tho two I men were now standing outside. ' Think you had best chuck that candlestick away,' said Mark. The butcher acquiesced, and the article I was thrown down an abandoned shaft. Tho butcher now took his way towards the claim of Willie .Rush — carrying _ tho brass filings with him, and Mark proceeded to his own home, pondering deeply over tho I scheme ho had so readily sanctioned. 'I'll have nothing to do with it,' ho muttered, ' I'll not meddle with it noways ; but 1 think it'll act. Yes, I think it must act.' When Mark had said it didn't require two men to carry out the butcher's scheme he spoke correctly ; but the fact was that Mr. James Bunce, although capable of :i groat deal in tho criminal line, was at heart an ar rant coward. Ho was afraid to act alto gether by himself ; ho wanted somebody else to be connected with him, and, judging from his own view-point, he concluded that Mark not only hated Willie Bush, but had an earnest desire to get rid of him ; and in so judging Mr. James Bunce appeared to bo right. If, as we say, Mr. Walpolo had been pre sent at this interesting little conferouco, the tables would have been turned upon the ' brace- of plotters. .Hut then he was not there, nor indeed was any third party, so the plot — so far at least — was a success. Few spectators thore wero in the court on the first day of. the trial whose hearts did not respond to the powerful but mute appeal for sympathy which the shrinking figure of the girl made to them, and, singular to say, there was do man there present more affected by this appeal than Mark Hardy. Ho had come there id gloat over the success of his smart conspiracy^ but he had never thought of Matty. She had declined his addresses, aiirl it wns Iijirr? +.o hfinv ? lint, vat Afark was

not altogether bad ; thero was moro of tho human in him than he himself, .perhaps, had aiiy idea of ; aiid now, even now, ho yearned towards the woman who had refused him, and. tlio evidences of her teurible distress cut him to tho heart. He had been satisfied to remove Willie Rush out of the way, but he was. by ho means satisfied on discovering iii himself the instrument in bringing about the sufferings which the woman ho had loved was now afflicted with. Mark Hardy mentally consigned the butcher to perdition, nor was he sparing with the censures passed on him self. But it was h -w too late, he told him self, . and in a very undasy frame of mind ho slunk out of the court. His passion for Matty had subsided. Tho very manner in which the girl had been affeoted by Willie's position had helped to bring about this phase ; it had served to convince Mark of the thorough hopelessness of his own suit ; and, as this con viction was forced upon him, he would havo given almost anything to undo the effects of the rascally scheme he had so thoughtlessly sanctioned. , In his at present uneasy frame of iniiid, brought about by feelings of mingled remorse aud apprehension — for the adjournment did cause his guilty mind some apprehension — ho_ would gladly have resigned Matty to his rival, Willie, if ho himself could 'only get clear of the nefarious business. But ho could not see his way out of it' at all ; bo, for the remainder of that day, ho stalked restlessly about his sumptuous residence, ? vainly endeavoring to quiet the ' still, small voice' aroused within him. If poor Matty suffered, ah indignant conscience was' ' tak ing it out of Mark Hardy ;' he waB expe rieneing this great truth,' that, the ; misery . which a man inflicts upon, liis fellow. crea- tures invariably recoils upon himself. , ' As soon as it became dark Marie might have been seen taking his way to the shop of the butcher ; he did not exactly know' why, biit ho could not bring himself to go thero in tho daylight. Bunco mot him on tho threshold, and, in response to his joyful greeting, mot with a bitter curse from the roefer. Mark strode into tho little room at tho back of the shop, and tabled his fist with a vigor that quite startled tho butcher. 'Soo 'hero my lad,' ho ex claimed, this 'ore game will havo to bo stashed ; -ind right smart at that too. ' 'Oh, oh,' said tho butcher, derisively, prolonging . the interjection, 'so you've tunked, have yor ? But i guess it's too late now, unless yer want to be lagged yerself.' 'Don't care a curse ; it '11 havo to bo stashed anyhow,' and tho reefer's fist was igain tabled with the . same startling deter- - ninatiou. Mr. James Bunco was beginning to get ineasy. There was no knowing what Hardy might do or say in his at present sxcited frame of mind; and the butcher lad good cause for anxiety, for Mark was lotorious for his obstinacy. 'Are you agoing to shapo and do some ihing,' almost shouted Mark. a 'Hush,' laid the butcher, glancing round apprehen lively, 'but what the' devil can I do.' 'Well, you proposed this yere blasted s . ;ame, nnd you must up somehow.' 'Look hero, Hardy, you'll never forgive yerself for this damnod folly. Don't you see t's either us or him for it. If wo are :ools enough to blow the affair now, why we iliall both be lagged, and he'll just walk off ,vith the gurl. Yes, just walk off in triumph ivith her, that's all.' 'V: ' The wily butcher throw a poculiar om phasis upon tho latter contingency; which peas not, apparontly, without its effect upon ' Hardy; who, after a moment's hesitation, mid, 'Well, I'm hot satisfied with the jusinoss at all.' ,'.,. ..; ?? '.:.'? ., ' Soo 'ere, Hardy,' continued the1 butcher, 'ojlowirig up his advantage with a cunning lophistry; 'it's just the uncertainty of the ;hing that. makes the girl out ,up so rough ; ihey alters dobs like that; blo'ss'you, it does om no harm whatsomever, not a bjt; she'll

forgot all. about it in a week, and then, you know,' — the butcher's voice dropped to an insinuating growl—' then, you know, you can jist walk in yerself and square it all up with her.' ? A cunning gleam glittered for a moment in Hardy's eyes as ho intently' regarded the butcher, but the cunning speech of thie latter appeared to have its.efl'ect upon Mark, for after blowing oft' a long-drawn sigh ho said, -'.Ah, well, I suppose it must go on; at. least, don't see how we can help it now.' ' Of course we can't,' commenced Bunce, but Hardy, with an abrupt 'so long,' passed out. ' ' I wonder if the ?? idiot '11 keep his mag closed,' was the butcher's muttered query to himself, as- 'he paced up and down his shop in mingled fury and alarm j 'but ho darii't blow it; 110 ; we. are in the same boat, and he darn't swamp it,' and the soliloquisiug Mr. Bunce managed to quieten his appx-ehensions. \Vhen Mark Hardy loft the butcher ho had by no means given up liis idea of 'stashing the business.' When he had first sought Bunce he had been willing to take — in conjunction with the butcher — a share of the risk necessarily .attendantaipon ' stashing it.' But the bull-clog. persistence, of .Buuce to carry out the villany clashed with the equal obstinacy of the reefer to repair it, and before Hardy had left the shop ho had resolved within his own mind not to swamp the boat, .as tho butcher hnd solilo quisoci, but. to throw his confederate Bunce overboard. . But how was this to be done ? By what method could he clear Willie -Hush without ? personal risk to himself? He was deter- ? mined to do so j he: had fully ^made up his mind to that. ? 'But how, '-and thus pon 'deriug Mark wandered across . the creek, seeking quiot out-of-the-waynooks in order to give his thoughts full play. Ho had crossed the old load, and climbed up the steep em bankment of his own reservoir. ? This was a quiet spot enough, everything looked so calm and still, and Mark, seating himself 'neath a gum bush on the water's edge, gazed abstractedly at' the moon's reflection in the waters ; seeking for an inspiration to solve the difficult problem that troubled him. ? How long he had sat thus he never knew, but he was suddenly startled out of his re verie by a shadow falling upon the waters, evidently cast by an object at his side. Ho turned his head and beheld a figure, pale and ghostlike, clad in. a white dress, and the long flowing hair glistening white under the sheen of the moon's rays. It was Matty, whom we left on her way to the reservoir. The reefer recognised her at once. . 'But was it .Matty' ho asked himself; as the blood chilled in his veins. In his disturbed fraine of mind the supersti tious 'Geordy' took this noiseless sudden appearance for her spirit. ; The figure stood motionless fora moment on tho margin of the waters,' c and gazed into its liquid depths ; then the still silence waa broken by a 'heart-drawn gasping sigh, fol lowed by a plunging splash, a few rippling wavelets that laved the reefer's feet, a few bubbles on the surface, ' and all was again quiet. We will do Hardy tho justice to say .that he was by no means deficient in, physical courage, notwithstanding all his short comings ; and long before the rufHod surfaco of the water had resumed its calmness a se cond plunge was, made, a positive determined plunge, that sent him fathoms deep. He was a powerful man, and a good swimmer ; had it. been otherwise our story would have' here ended. Wildly shouting for assistance he was dashing down tho bank with the dripping form of the senseless girl in his .inns when ho was confronted with the frantic figure of old Silas and the girl Kitty. Silas had caught sight of his daughter so mysteriously leaviug tho house, and in great consternation he and tho girl Kitty had pur sued her. Ijow storytellers would care about depicting the intense agony and grief of .tho father meeting, as he. supposed, tho lifeless body of -his only child. So violent, indeed, were his emotions, his selfupbraid ings arid agonised alllietion that Mark roughly thrust him aside and lied with his burthen towards tho store. The distracted father essayed to follow, stumbling and falling at every step ; but Kitty managed to keep up with the reefer. Before Silas', however, had got half- way he recovered suilicient sense to post down to the ' Slaters', and having despatched the torrifiod lady to aid in the recovery of his daughter, he hastened on for the doctor. No sooner had the dripping reefer surren dered his charge into -their hands than — scarcely knowing what ho was about— he ran straight off to the private residence of Mr. Lawyer Walpolo, where he stumbled over a -man sitting upon the doorstep. It was California Jaok, who, after waiting out side the lawyer's office «11 day, had followed that, gentleman — like his shadow — honio to bis private residence, and* stationed himself on tho doorstep as described. It was too dark for Jack to recognise Hardy, but as the mooting was rather rough, he concluded bhb intention f,o be the roverse of friendly ; so he instantly grappled with the stranger, but released his hold in' dismay on discover ing the man to be wringing wet.- ? ? . ' Well, dern my akin,' said Jack ; 'but: bhat is playing it low down on a man any bow.' . . ' Dang you,' angrily retorted the reefer ; ' that ere s a. shabby way of Blinging a man on his nose.' ? . ? .. ? .. ? ? ? Thesnejt moment Mark,, was violently knocking' at the lawyer's door.. -*.', California Tack looked on approvingly. He was so ab sorbed in Willie's affair that he naturally

concluded any occurrence out of the ordinary must be connected with it. . -. ' Go it, old hbs's,' he ' said ; ' jist you keep that up, and you're bound to fetch Kim.' . The disturbance 'fetohed' the .lawyer quickly enough, and no sooner did he under-1 stand from tlie excited reefer: that lie had coineto 'clear, up that 'ore gold business,' thau tho lawyer ushered him in with a de greo of satisfaction — considering tke dress ing-gown and night-cap -^-greatly to be won dered at. Mark Hardy made a clean breast of it. He related how Bunce had procured the brass filings, and carried them up to Willie's claim, and salted the wasli there with, and how he — Mark — had been led to countenance the plot. He told all this with the lawyer penning it down, and with Cali fornian Jack as a witness. Poor Jauk in tho back ground had sunk down on his knees in a joyous ecstacy, muttering, 'I thought 1 should be wanted ; but what a pnrtieular stylo of a damned idiot I've been. I might have knowed it, I might have knowed it.' The lawyer had now a difficult task to perform. .Mark Hardy had voluntarily dis covered the conspiracy' j beyond being acces sory to it ho had had nothing to do with it ; ami Mark Hardy \ijaa rich, and consequently a man of renown oh tho creek. So the law yer, after carefully reviewing the case from this ? stand-point, ' concluded that ho might succeed in pulling the reefer through. But'about tho butcher, they must make sure of him. 'I'll havo him, arrested in tho morning,' said the lawyer, 'but in tho meantime, if you really want something to do,' lie continued; as Jack started to his feet, 'why you can just take a look round . and . see that he has no intention to ilit.' ? Jack was off like a shot, his admiration for the lawyer amounted almost to idolatory, for Hadn't Jack seen him that morning dialling the bank manager, brow-boating the ac . countant, bullying the policeman, and generally abusing everybody connected with the prosecution. It was fortunate that this thought oc curred to the lawyer, for it so happened that Mr. James Bunco's alarm reached to such a height that he concluded it' would be wise for him to view the proceedings from a safer distance. Acting on this resolution he had kept his horse already saddled in the stable, find, it was past midnight when he stealthily issued from his shop, and immediately fell over Californian Jack, who wasseateduponhis door-step, much after the same fashion as Mark Hardy had done, with just this differ ence ; that Bnnoe never had time to recover from bis recumbent position. The iron grip of Jaok was upon him, and notwithstanding his struggles he was securely pinioned and hobbled. Jack had come prepared for every emer gency, and ho now stood over his prostrate foe venting his satisfaction in the perform ance of the most vigorous description of war dance ever witnessed. The butcher raved, swore, expostulated, offered bribes and threa tened: law alternately, but the war dance was carried on with added zest. 'Oh ! you would make a nice young man to superin tend a Sunday school, wouldn't yer ? Don't I wish I was Spotted Tail, the chief of the Scalp'em Inguns, if I would'nt raise your hair then call me a.chiukee.' Considering tho consternation exhibited by tho prostrate butcher Jack appeared to have performed this latter operation most successfully. Marly tho next day Willie Rush left his cell to acconiodate the butcher. As for poor Matty, for many days she lingered in unconscious delirium, hovering between life and death, and one day, when, after a long calm sleep, she opened her eyes to lifo and light, they fell upon Willie Rush and her father standing by her couch. Old Silas had brought him there himself ; had it been necessary Silas would have gone down upon his knees to beg of him to oomo, but Willio required no such inducements, he had been only too ready. Tho lawyer succeeded in 'pulling' Mark Hardy through ; but Mr. Jumes Bunoe (bless him) received a sentence of two years, and tho Pennyweights celebrated tho event after their own fashion ; that is to say, with a general drunk. A month after this .there was a popular wedding on thocreek, on which occasion Mr. Mark Hardy, the prudent Geordy, so -far forgot himself as to go tip on ' tho spree.' Arm-in-arm with California Jaok he paraded tho creek from one end to the other, and celebrated tho occurrence by shouting a ? ' fiver' at every public-house. When Mr. Mark Hardy recovered himself, ho startled the crook by announcing his in tention of going home ; he would like to see the old country once more, but before doing so he installed Willie and Matty in his man sion, and appointed Willie as manager of his rich reef. 'I knowed your darter would play that 'ere pianner,' he said to Silas, the evening, before his departure, ?'and now, since I've hoard her play the thing, I can go inpeaoe j' which ho did by the next mail. Tuk End.