|Newspaper Title||Illustrated Australian News for Home Readers (Melbourne, Vic. : 1867 - 1875)|
|Trove Title||Matty and her Lovers: An Australian Story|
MAITY AND HER LOVERS.
AN AUSTHA.LIA.N STORY. . ByJowik M. Mkkbaix. ' ? . ? CHAPTER I. Silas Clark wa3 Matty's father, and lie kept' a store on the Pennyweight Creek. I make this announcoinont.abruptly in order . to notify to my readers that I nm about to introduce them to a humble sphero of life ; where, if they have no inclination to intrude, thoy can turn over this pago aucl read else where Silas Clark' had long been a widower, and Matty was his only child. A little Bhort of seventeen summers — it had been all summer to her so far — trim, dainty and fresh, with that speeies of robust beauty, which after all lias its enchantments, Matty was potted, a little spoiled and nitieh loved. If she lacked that refinement of ideas and instinct, that oleg.-mca of speech and manners, which wo love to associate with youth and beauty, it must bo remembered that her chances of culture hud been very rem te ; hud it been otherwise it is extremely un likely that it would havo fallen to bur lot to chronicle the story of Matty and her lovers. It was only natural that such a girl should attract many admirers, and many there, wero no doubt who cherished a latent hope of attracting, at some time or another, her attention. How miinorous we are unable to say, bnt three men there were whom the Crcekites duly recognised as aspirants to the favor of the old storekeeper's pretty daughter : Jem Bunce, the butcher, owner of the brand-now red brick shop was one ; and there was Mark Hardy, 'the rich reefer ;' and last, and, as is ? usual, by no means the least important, came 'Willie Rush. Mr. James Bunce -was a smart pushing man' in his way, although not generally popular on Pennyweight Creek ; his manner was uncouth, aud his general disposition slightly brutal ; ' but we will do him the justice to say that he did his best to make ' himself appear honest and amiable, especially to Matty. What his chances wer,e, with that bright and withall sensible creature, re mains to be seen. With a rattling gallop, ho came round to the store every morning with his meat cart, and displayed his primest joints to the storekeeper's pretty housekeeper. Matty took the domestic management of the household upon herself, and he carved his meat according to her skilful directions, and with sidelong glances ogled the unconscious girl; that is, if she was unconscious, because we judge that it was contrary to her nature to bo wholly oblivious to the general admiration she inspired. But the butcher was in no hurry to press his suit, he. had never yet spoken to Matty of lovo ; he would do so at.his own time. It never entered the hsad of Mr. James Buuce that any womnn would reject him, he who had as good a trade as any man upon the creekt and a red brick house too, and a farm. No, it was only necessary for him to speak, &c, &c, — so thought the butcher. I verily be lieve it was Matty's skill in selecting her beef, and directing its cutting, that first won the butcher's admiration. How nice sho would look, behind his counter, ho said to himself, and how skilfully she would woigh out the pounds of sausages, and cut off the legs of mutton; and, moreover, it was said the old storekeeper was rich, and at this Btago of the butcher's diurnal cogitations ho rubbed his hands in gleoful anticipation of his coming good. fortune. The next aspirant to the throne of the fair Matty's, affection was Mr. Mark Hardy, generally spoken of as ' the rich reefer.' Hardy's career from his earliest -boyhood had been that of a working minor, but Mark was a shrewd and prudent north countryman, and seeing an opportunity for jumping portion of a claim ho jumped it forthwith, and jumped into comparative wealth at the same time. Mark had practi cally adopted the old adage 'getrioh, no matter. how, but get rich,' and indeed this was the sum of Mark's idea of the aim and objoc t of human oxistence. Sotheilliterate 'Geordy' was immediately transformed — in the estima tion of the bulk of the Pennyweight Grobkites— into a 'gentleman.' With his change in oirouinstanceq, came a change in his cognomen — that ia, as far as the afore said bulk went, wnb revelled in 'lively anticipations oi favors tocbino ' — 'Geordy Mat' was now '.'Mr. Hardy.'- He had ?built liiinB9lf a fino obusbi and . ho very reasonably concluded that ijnb jiext best proceeding yr$k to get a ?vyjf^. Inaopom ?piisiiing this the ' ridti reefe^;' woiiid be unlikely to, ex^Brionbe niubu dlffiquJty. , iAH itne' . Bervant gjrls, att'd HU . tjip pafr . m jiicjbii jj on tub ofcek; oglbd Riarli, and set. their cap's at him ; but the shrewod '? Goordy *' re raombored the time when this was not so } he remembered, indeed, how'diffiouit he 'had found it —when working as a simple miner—
fo obtain even a partner for the fortnightly danoe which the enterprising publicans pro jected tomeet theexigences'of pay night — and now he very naturally despised them for their shameless exhibition of mercenary motives. Mark was not over scrupulous as to the ways and moans of making a ' rise ' on his own behalf ; bufcho could not tolerate the name unscrupulonsness in others — at least not when he himself, or rather his cash, was the prize aimed at — so Mark raised his oyes and thoughts a littlo higher. There was old Silas Clark's daughter ; pretty prim, and gentle Matty, everybody know Matty, the despair of the feminine Penny weights, arid the glory of the male ones. There had been a time, before the jumping of that roof business, when Mark Hardy thought the power of gold to bo almost omni potent; but ho know better now, since he had acquired wealth; he found it did not make all the difference ho had expected ; and so, having now turned his thoughts towards Mktty, ho, like the jirudent, careful man he was, set about opening his campaign witli care and deliberation. An introduction to the store of Silas Clark was a matter of no great diiliculty. Mark walked in and complained to the old storekeeper of the bad quality of. the mining materials obtained ah Milkr's (this was the opposition store). He praised the sample of powder and fuse exhibited by Silas, and gave him a liberal order. The next day he inspected and ordered a supply of picks, and tho next . gadzes, and so on ; nearly every day an inspection was made, and an order given for mining gear, by Mark in person. It is only natural to suppose that the storekeeper soon became very inti mate /with tho 'rich reefer,' who would linger about the store, talking to old Silas for hours together. Mark could talk volu bly enough as long as the topic didn't get beyond lodes, veins, leaders, drives, and cross-cuts j but still Mark's progress in the affair nearest his heart by no means satis fied himself; he didn't appear to be able, to. get beyond the store counter. Matty fluttered in and out occasionally, when Mark, after clearing his throat with a pre paratory 'hem,' would- say, ' Good, day, Miss.' It was nothing unusual for people to say 'good.day' to Matty, so the saluta tion was returned with a bright smile, and she fluttered out again. 'Dang me,' said Mark aloud to' himself, as he walked home, 'but this won't do. I don't get forward a little bit ; I muni do something.' So Mr. Mark set his sluggish brains to work to 'do something.' The next day he appeared at tho store as usual; hut this time his hand was clenched around a monstrous ' bookay ' — he called it — the arrangement of whose flowers was a marvel of incongruity. These flowers were the re. suit of that setting of his brains to work} and when, after twenty-fcmr hours of deep deliberation, he had hit upon this happy expedient, Mark (metaphorically speaking) patted himself upon the back 'and spoke thus, 'Mark, lad, thee beant tho big fulo folk take theo fur.' On the strength of tho ' bookay' Mark concluded that all diiliculty in the way of 'knocking up a chat with that little girl' was removed. 'Good-day, Miss,' said our suitor, lean, ing over the store counter, and looking with a sheepish air into Matty's face. ' Good-day,' said Matty, and she waited in an attitude of expectation for an order Mark had thrust his hand containing the ' bookay' under the counter. The girl, looking at the man before her, suddenly be came conscious he was becoming very red' in the face, and moreover that tho arm hanging down under the counter was affected with a strange spasmodic movement. Sho began to get alarmed, when Mark blurted out, 'it's a very hot day, Miss.' ' Well,' said Matty, in surprise, ' I thought it rather oool.' ' Yes, so it is, that's what I mean,. to be Bure.' Poor Mark was enjoying the delightful Bonsation which extreme bashfulness and em barrassment generally produce, and' this totally unembarrassed correction of Matty's thoroughly ilbbred him. ' I-6 you ?jrisji to. sea my father ?' ' No, yes, thrit is, not to-day, thank you.' j ?? .' . . ?, ?? Matty, with a slight nod, retired to her sitting-room pff tJie shop, leaving beWnd her something that Bounded very much liko a low rippling iaiigii, and Mark Hfirdy. bolted out of the store in a frepzy. , He rim round the building, iii. ivtfipiigsi; iKo spriili Qiit of aigjit, ami then jjlip ijb^gajr ^jjjjj dfltshefi upon fcjje; gmun'4» &i}A ?V - V^u?o|is Wpl? sejit it and a third administered with all the lusty force of a . football player about to send the 'leather' through the' opponents' goal. This musoular treatment appeared to relieve
our would-be suitor, and ho stood, still taking off his hat and wiping his perspiring brow, and thus addressed himself. 'Mark, lad, thee bee'st a danged sight bigger fulo than folk take theo fur. ' Leaving this disconcerted lover to re arrange his scattered forces, we introduce the reader to suitor number three. Willie lluah was a young man whose oc cupation at present wus mining ; he was an '?individual miner ;' that is to say, he worked on his own account, and was moro over a 'hattor,' which means that he worked alone. In general iutelliyunco, in instincts, temperament and disposition, Willie was vory far superior to his rivaln, that is, if YVilJio recognised them us rivals, for although ho was well acquainted with Matty it was some time before it occurred to him that he was courting her. A hot headed impulsive fellow was this Willie, hut withnl a general favorite on Pennyweight Creole. Willie Rush had been in the habit of purchasing his domestic and mining re quirements at Silas Clark's store, and it is not unnatural that in hw frequent contact with such a winning girl as Matty, compli ments — aud very lover-like ones too— should be occasionally blended with orders fol klores. Tho Pennyweight Creekiles took a deep interest in the affairs of their neighbors, and it was soon rumored that Willie's fre quent visits to the store inoant something moro than the mere purchase of stores. It might be so, for in the dusk of the cool sum mer's evening, when Matty walked out in front of tho shop, Willie Rush was invari ably somewhere in the neighborhood. The butcher was tho first to make this discovery, and savagely commented upon it, ' That 'ere young Rush,' he said to one of his cronies, ' appears to be hanging round the skirts of that 'eregurladashed sight too much. She can't be of much account if she encour ages such a harum scarum. penniless poor devil as that,' by which brutal speech the reader can understand that Mr. James Bunee was aiilicted with, a touch of tho green- eyed monster. Singular as it may appear, Mr. Bunce feared the 'penniless poor devil' much, more than ho did the 'rich reefer' whose constant visits to the store were also, by this time, significantly commented upon by the busy-botlies of Ponny weight Creek. There wero a few of Mark Hardy's old chums, men whose ' lively anticipations of favors to como' had evidently not been satisfactorily realised— who took a vengeful delight in what they mildly called 'chaff- ing' their old chum on the aspect of his would-be matrimonial prospects. 'Say Mister Hardy,' (ferocious emphasis on tho mister) ' that ere young Hush shows indica tions of jumping your claim; yoii wcrn't half smart enough ; oughtcr havo had it regis tered long ago ; office aint faraway' and the long-bandled shovel was poiuted — gun fashion — towards tho little chapel. The roefer turned away in a fury, but only to encounter another old chum whose ' lively anticipations' &c. had also boon blighted. These old chums never forgave him for the successful jumping of that roof. ' Good day, Mister Hardy ; fine weather aint it ? going up to tho store ? 'taint much uso 1 don't think ; young Hush has pegged out that ere claim of yourn ; man can't oxpoct to make two good jumps in his' life, you know.' Mark gazed at tho speaker as if ho meditated strangling him on the spot, but finally, concluding not to — walked away. In a community capablo of such delight fully free-and-ea3y comments upon that inner life of tho heart ; that world of emotions which we so jealously guard from the common gaze, and which is to us a greater and far more important life than the outward and visiblo one we parado before tho world ; in such a community. I say, it would be simply impossible for the -butcher to escape the racking which tho jocular Penny weights designated 'chaff.' If wo followed tho butcher on his rounds, or tho '.rich reefer' on his journey to and from the store, and faithfully recorded all that was said anent Willie Rush and Silas Clark's store, wo should bo kopt busy for some time to come. Tho storekeeper's pretty daughter had a reasonable amount of vanity; I say reasonable, because I would not abate her share of that charming feminine weakness by one jot; to do so would be to lessen hor attractions, arid by this time she was fully award thiv£ she was courted by throe men, all of whom were desirous of making 'hor their wife ; none of them had actually pro posed tb. her, b-ut sho knew it might be expected at any inoment; indeed, she was conscious of l}er own pqwor io, preoipjtate upon herself suoh a decljiratiop, ? from any one pf them, ,a); hor pieasuro. Sjjo fniiled Hghji the ,bli|bhor, aj}d Up pxpefipncbrt a BusisHx flE.dBligUt, wltiph rooijrved\ at 'i^terV yala , tlipcJugfibut . the day'; n,nd - sho flmiiti'd ' -upon -Mr. Mark Hardy, and ho experienced a similarly delightful sensation, which also lasted for about the samb period ;' arid sho smiled upon. Willie Rush, and she did more than that, if Call
fornia Jack's cheerful cominume.it.ioii t-- tho ttufiiher the next morning wus to ho ruliud upon. 'day old cuss,' said the C'alifurniun, walking- in to tho butcher's shop for his morn ing's steak, ' guess now you hail better jisi; chuck iip your hnud;' tho imlox thumb waa jurked hi the diroctinu of the store. 'Last iii»lit I sprang that sly yoimy ciiss Willie and that daiul.'y little Into' property » spark ing away in the moonlight, under tho vino leaves, nt hack of thu store. 1 didn't want to spoil no train o you know, so .1 bucked out us quickly as 1 could ; but my stars, warn'b h-.!aiii:il-iut;hotliivu to her, that's till, and sho was n-crying or a-ltiugliin^, 1. don't xnctly know which, but it were win or t'other, I. yueus.' At thin stugc Jack had uncon sciously iii-aumcd tho poso of ;v man merli tiiling on tho abstract. ' Yus,' lie: con tinued, 'mightn't liavolx'tm one. nor t'other, neither; they does it bith together ; some times, I'm told, women dues. Their mighty curious' creatures a-iy way you take 'em. l-esfc chuck ui' vour bund, old hosa, and tako a fresh deal. ' 'No,' exclaimed the butcher, dancing with fury, 'damn mo if I do. No sire-o,' the butcher's voicn rose, nearly to a scream, 'I'll play it out,'' ami Ik; oiiipliasisiid thu announcement by burying his cleaver in tho block. 'Then it's a sure case of euchre,' said Jack. ' I'll lay the oilds. you bet '!' 'You'll bet on it, will yer '! Look er« mate, the mau as euchres me in this yero inline won't have much to blow about.' Tlio butcher tapped an emphasis to every word on hin block, and his features assumed such a. sat uric aspoct that the American was quite startled ; but he picked up hi-3 steak aud walked to tho door, when ho turned and came back. The droll expression, half humorous, half satirical, which usually sat upon his features wa3 calm and stern, and he rested his finger on tho butcher's shoulder impressively. ' As you intend playing this game out. my buck, don't you attempt to play on the cross. Willie Hush is my friend', you understand me. On tho square, old man, on the square,' and he dropped a warn ing look into the quailing eyu of the butcher. Notwithstanding all this, Miss Matty con tinued to smile upon her three lovers. A smile was certainly' not much ; it did not commit her any way ; but under the circum stances it would have been wiser if Matty had ceased to smile upon two of them ; but then, their homage gratified her vanity and was very pleasant, and' woman- liko she was reluctant to forego it. If California Jack's story drove the but cher into a frenzy, it certainly didn't have a particularly soothing effect upon Murk Hardy, who heard the Californian'a version of it with the advantage of a few fanciful addi tions, which considerably heightened its ef fect. -As soon as he reached home his first proceeding wa3 to dash his ponderous fiat upon his mahogany, and hurl anathemas of tho classic typo of Durham at his own head for some minutes. Mr. Mark Hardy wns evidently out of temper with himself.