Chapter 60520768

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Chapter NumberII
Chapter Title
Chapter Url
Full Date1862-12-26
Page Number2
Word Count4630
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleEmpire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 - 1875)
Trove TitleBought and Sold: An Australian Christmas Story
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A few honra1 succeeding the events detailed ia the pre- ceding ohapter, Mr. J'àge Bat in his parlour in Lwan's Terrace, Glebe, enjoying his tea'; and'a comfortable, warm, hearted little parlour it was, oredit mel-with a fire that >eht the smoko right off np the chimney, and wouldn't hear of'such a thing as its coming down again !-and then the kettle Btoamedand ' sputtered moat uproariously ; nntil, in tho ebullition of its-spirits, it nearly shsok its lid off. into thc fire ; after which it aubaided into a quiet aortof chuckle as if rather ashamed of itself ! ., it.:,¡.¡

1'There" was'not niúoh'furniture in the room, at'least, not mora than was necessary, bat every artiole in the room dis- played a-combination of taste and Judgment in i ts selec- tion, and suited its neighbour admirably ; just as a-kind disposition and musical voice accord with the features of a 'beautiful girl ! ......

I have said that Mr. Page was having hi s te i, and I may add that he was enjoying it, too ; for ne had only just returned from an errand ofmeroy, having been suddenly called out to ministerio a washerwoman's child, which had tumbled into a copper of hot water, (poor people's ohildren are always up to some «-Bbine'and having left the little Bufferer moaning in the arms of its mother, who in turn was surrounded Dy about twenty Commiserating female friends, ho had ' si juched' home again through the mud.

Mr. Page sat br the fireside, and as he sipped his tea and eat his toast, he looked reflectively at an empty «bair on the other side of tho fire-place, aa if there was something radically wrong in the fact bf that obair -empty. He was revolving in his mind the thought of how much brighter the little room would look, and how much sweeter the tea would taste - (albeit, he put sugar enough in the cups!) if there was somebody to fill that particular ohair,

and that 'somebody' nb less a parson than Minnie, Creston, transformed by the ' magio ring' to Mrs. Arthur Poge I

He was just finishing the contenta of his last oap, when there came a glamour at the street-door as if the knooker was beating io arms;! followed by a pull at the bell that nearly shook its tongue out I -such a knook and sucha ringi , that the remaining portion of tea went down the ' wrong way,' so startled was the doctor I

" Please, sir, here'e a-somebody as wants to see yon, sir, and can't wait, if you piesse, sir} but wasn't to leave the message with nobody unless he see you, sir;" said the «er vant |Tirl. looking into the room and still retaining the door-

knob in ber hand.

"Bless my heart 1-business is improving I " exclaimed the doctor, starting to hts feet and preparing to encase them in tho muddy boots, whioh were drying in the fender, j " Shew him in, Mary ;". he continued, brushing up his hair

until he resembled a médical hedge-hog-and.looking into the glass -over the fire-plao?, to see that it was brushed up

enough !

' " There, > there I shew bira in ! what are .you , waiting


" Please, -air,*' answered the girl, " he's dreadful wet I - and-" .

" All the more reason for his .coming in to the fire to dry

himself ¡Come in !"

This summons caused the retreat of Marr, and the en- trance of something whiob seemed, at first eight, an animated throo-bushel bag, and whioh hod apparently spent the last few days in a water-butt]

- " Who, and »-hat on earth are yon ?" demanded the as- tonished doctor,,ai his Btrauge looking visitor shook him- self like a wot spaniel, throwing out a radius of drops, like ?those ejeoted by the twirling ot a mop.

? «' Tom Liddiwake and a letter from a young 'ooman !" .responded a hoarse voice, as tho owner of it threw off on oH flour-sock, which had served him for a " Macintosh, -'. and threw it down in the passage, slouching boje ito the room, and blinking drearily at tlie doctor. >

-"A letter from a young woman?" said that surprised individual, interrogatively.

J' Yes, from-a-young- 'ooman S" reiterated the newly-arrived, '. or .from ah'angel, if so be as you chooses

?to call her so !"

' " What is tho. matter Î-where is the letter ? -is the; oise urgent ?-and is Assistance required?" were the hur- ried enquiries addressed by Mr. Page as he proceeded to pull. on his .other boot. - . ¡

"Wei], as tb wots the matter, it ain't likely I'm ttgoin' to tell you, seein' as how I.dan't know nuthink aboutit I as to the .letter, it's in my trousers-pooket, if i t oka't bin washed oat bf ibo hole in the bottom-and as to (die oase boin' hurgent, aa you calls it, ((which I suppose means sam-' think about misery I) and your .assistance boin'required I should ' think ft' waa I-rather !-aensiderin' as how

tho young 'oo man's eyes was as rod with" cry In' ss Mrs.

flkldler's ls with drinkin*

Thèrs's the letter! 'tain't so bad ns I thought it was I,des-soy if you can find out how it begins, ana guess the rest of it you'll be able to make out w.ot it's about !"

Lang before his visitor had ended this speech Mr. Vaga hod opened the soddenod letter ; and, drawing a candle to- wards him, ' was deep in. its translation-and a difQoi lt translation it' was- owing to tho tear« of Minnie, and the rain in Tom Ltddiwake's pocket ! -1 '

. That individual drew a ob air to the fire, with the remark that it was '"as aheap sittio' aa standin' for wot he seed ;" and then added-" liegpurdlug, sir, least-way's if it isn't diflturbin'on y cr, but you're » sorter medical doctor 1

reckon f . ' ? ' '

"Wolli" «aid Mr. Tage, without raising bis_ »yes from the titter - * '.' ' ' '* t ¡*--- ?

*« Vt.ell 1»' continued Mr. Lr'ddiwake, " I sopposa yer gives adwlce free gratis for nuthluk; least ways if» cove , can'l afford to pa) Tor it ! Now wot'« your opiniof 4s »

mediad mw. wppoiin' a MTI »nad bin ont in tie rein ont I he con'dn » ^ wetterl suppodn' he hing on io the back ors ??^ three parts of the way to th» Glebe, and groped the other part through the mud, do you think a cup

°' t».i would do a cove any harm t"

" Bless me, no ! why, what a thoughtless fellow I am I

here have I been lettiug yon stand-Oh 1^1. see,_ypu "haye, found a chair, that's right ! Hary ! And so you brought

thia from Miss Creston ?'

Tom bowed.

" " Oh, Mary, just see to getting some' hot" tea for this" young man.'',

-, Mary curtsied, ' . , . .*

: " Yen, Mary ; »nd if yer ain't no hobjection, some but- tered toast whioh I hov» heerd say is relishing tack 1 and whioh I wen turee to person be on my own responsibility 1 Hope the letter is atnnsin', sir ?.' he added, as Mary departed on ber "errand-" leastways if it isn't, I am sorry I fetched

it !"

. " Confound it !-there is some horrible mystery here !" said Mr. Page, as if thinking aloud ; "there is a portion here which I cannot, for the life of me, deoypher. What oin'Minni« mean}-«must forget that we ever loved each other,-duty to parente-marriage arranged for sis months -and there I stop 1 Married-to whom f -ay ! that's the question !-why, we arranged to wed eaoh other 'in six months, provided hor father gave his ooBBent ! I can't un- derstand it! Hi!" you-what's your name!" ! '

.Tom J iddiwake''- replied that; gentleman, aa, he pre- pared to attaok the tea and'toast just bronght'm by Miry.

< Well, Mr. Tom Liddiwake, are you aware' that I am scarcely a bit wiser, now than J was before 1 read that letter P .; 1 '' ' - ' >. '

. " Werry likely, " remarked Tom, as well; as half a Blice of toast, at that time stowed away in. his capacious mouth,

would allow him to articulate.

'! Well, what do you know about the affair?^ Did the young lady give you any message to bring with the note?" , r t .. ; - ? -, t?". ir " She didn't guv nnthink -only a shillin' to come in a bus. Bless. her heart I ' added Tom,, reflectively " as if there was a bus in the ' square," as X couldn't get a lift be- hind of, for nuthink !" ¡.s. "¡ ? '!

i " Bot can't you give me.any . idea on the subject'at all ? Sorely you cm .throw some little light on the

matter ?"

" If I wasn't a gettin' my tea-p'raps I could," said the imperturbable Mr. Liddiwake ¡ " but it's agen reason, for a cove to falk and -eat at the same time : why, let alone that you .can't eat so much, ['ve heerd siy that yon can't digest what you do Bwaller ! If you'll only wait till I'm dono, I'll tell you all I know 1"

" So be it, then !" said Mr. Page, resignedly, as he re- commenced his perusal of the saturated letter. He smoothed it carefully out, held it up between him and the light, drew the candle towards him, shoved it back again, and, in fact, adopted all the expedients whioh people usually do on such occasions-but he bad failed to translate another line before he was interrupted by his visitor exclaiming that "he was

full inside,' as the bus-man said when he had sixteen in

the weh iola as was licensed to carry ten !" with which happy simile, he requested the doctor to 4 turn ahead with tue

cross-examination!'' -

" In the first place, then, I presume you to he aware that

this note came irom Miss Creaton I

" Bight you are 1 guvnor," ooincided Mr. Liddiwake. .

'J, Then I want you to give me aa clear an account aa poBBihle, of all the events oonnooted with your receiving

it." - ? . -

".Well, I suppose you know that I was in the old gentle- man's service (old Creston's, I mean) some time ago Î No ! Why, for two years I was all the servant as he had, 'cepting a girl as. rued to oook and do the washing. About the time I entered his service, old Creston was remarkably at- tentive to a sick brother of his, wko was older than him, by obalkB I-if white hair and lota of wrinkles, counts for anythiak.. Well, he was always, att'ndin' on bim, night and day, watohin' on him when he was asleep, and tryin' to squeedge a tear into his eyes agen the sick cove woke !-. and he ,was ao jealous that he'd hardly, let the old nurse smooth the bed-olpthes, or shake up the pillows. The sick cove used to wear a hunch o' keys dangling round his neok, and when his brother med to leave the room, he used to get me to put the old 'ooman ont, and then unlock a box as was shoved under the Led ; and thou he would take out a bundle o' papen, and read out loud about his property, and how he hod willed it all: to Miss Minnie, and what a fine lady 'she'd ho . when he died ; and then he used to ory like a h'm font, and say as bow money was a curse, unless you know'd how to use it right, and how it couldn't never make yon happy, (which I can't make out),

and then he said he hadn't a friend in the world but his niece; as for his brother, he didn't care a straw forhim, and the sooner he went, the better. Well, one potiok'ler night he got the will out to read, but when he tried it he said his eyes was ao weak fae couldn't make nutbitk of it, but I needn't put it into tho box, he told me to lock that up and in its usual place, and give him back the key, then he puts the papers under his pillow and says he'll read 'em in the moram' and then goes ti sleep." .

Mr. Liddiwake made a long pause, and looked bliuklngly into the fire as if /ie was going to sleep too.

' Well," observed the doctor, who had listened attentively1 io the boy's narrative, " when he awoke 1 '

"But he didn't I" said Tom quickly ;'. when we looked at bim in the mornlu' he was a reg'lar corpus."

" What-dead 1" ejaculated the doctor.

" As a berrin'!" assented Tom, conclusively. "And the will ?"

" Wa* a missen'. Whether the old 'ooman as was the nurse, took it put of revenge on .old Creston, for blowin' her up one day, I can't say. tie thought il was all Bereue in the box under the bed, but when the lawyer corned to read ' it over, he found os bow the property wasn't left to Miss Minnie, nor her father, neither ; bul to some relation of the dead cove's, in New Zealand. Ofoourse, I didn't, say na think about giving him the other will out of the chest, 'cos if I had, they might have said I shook it, so they come to the conclusion that he oily made the one as was found. Old Creston was in a liorful way about it, 'cos yer so?, he expected sunthink 'anchóme, sad guv his brother a tip top funeral, on tho strength of it. I warn't sorry as he had boen tricked, but I wert sorry for Miss Minnie, 'cos why ? sho'B a h'angel, but Isn't her father sunthink jest the werry rewerse f O no I-not at all-rather !"

> With which rather contradictory assertion, Mr. Liddi- wake looked into the fire, reflectively, and theu, having re- lieved his feelings with a horrible ohnokle, continued, "Well, after that, he moved Into the 'ona?, where they lives now. Mrs. Bkidler, abe rents the 'ouse, and Mr. Cres- ton, he rented three room«, and took me along with him as orrand-boy, cook, an* maid of nil work: After a hit, Mrs. Skidler, she swore she wain t goin' to have nie iii the kitohe'n;nolonger,'cos why ? she said I se til re to thechimbley three times, (though I'll take my blessed davy, I only set .Ure to it twice, and then I «ot up on the roof and put it out afore the engines come) and that 1 burnt the bottoms out of all the kittles, till ibero «rasn't a earspan os 'ud hold water, so if Mr. Creston 'ud please send me away, she'd do alhtke cookin' herself. The end on it was, she perwailod, and I was turned out about my business, and I never see'd nutbink of Miss Minnie till to-day. AB I waa a goin' ' past old Creston's house, I keerd a sweet voioe singin' «ut 'Tom ? I was rather frightened, I oau tell yon, har when ' 'a cove's hunted about, and cursed at, and swore at, as I've bin, it's enough to make him think people aro up to some dodge when they tall* kind to him I I looked np and Saw Miss Minnie at the window. ' Tomi' soys eho-'yes, Miss' says I. 'Jest wait a bit'tiil I come down' says sue ,'I want you to go on a message for me.' Well, she wa« down ufore I lind time to tell her I'd wait, and opens the door and tells me to come into the passage -then she gives, me the letter, and askB me whether I knows where yon live. I warn't goin' to make ber more down-hearted than she seemed, by toliin' her I didn't know ; but I thought I'd come on ' speo'-and try and find you out Jest to oblige her, so I told her, if she'd trust me with the letter I'd denver it as safe as a reg lor postman ! ' Hore's a shilling for .you, Tom', says she, ' it'H all- the money tl've got-so you see I'm a'most as poor as you are!', says she, smilin' so beautiful-like, although she was cryin' all the while! 'Bless you llijs,* says I'you don't suppose as I'm again' to leave you without ñathink !" .' Ob, but you must! Tom,* says she, it'll do to pay your -*bus fare there and back - and i.'s a miserable müht' says she looking out of the door, ' but not more miserable than I am i' Jest then the old cove wanted to know who was a toikin' at the door ; io »ha shut it, and left me to come here -and hero I am, oad blessed if I didn't lose the shilling, of-er all, thro that bolo in my trojsora pucket !"

. Tom Liddiwake paused, and Mr. Pago reflectrd, for, to use a common; but very expressive phrase, he waa regula ly

' botherM «'-'not that he waa anatme tosuactirub to difficul- ties, uoj he hod hod too many annoyances to contend with, already, for that 1 and he hud always succeeded in sooth- ing the irritation arising from them, by the means of that invaluable ' cooling mixturo* fationce,and Perseverance.! ia fact be'was ono of that indomitable' olass, who believe that no matter how wo have to struggle against'the adverse wares of Fort une if we only '' !.-<-?

" "*' VTôxlt tb tho end with purpose storn, ,..

Tho tide will torn, tho tide «rill turn 1" '

and so ho resolved to stem its ourrent till it did turn I

" Will you take »letter for me, to Miss Grtston,'and'give'

it into her'owh hands?" he asked Tom.

" If it's possiblo to do it 1' will,'' responded that indi- vidual ¡ " but it ain't no manner o' use troin' to-ni^ht - ot . wby 1 -it< too late ! Iiows'ever, I'll take it iu the mowing,

if inat'll'do'l' . ?

" It must do," enid the doctor, bustling about to get bi writing materials, and having found thurn he was soon deeply unpaged in compounding a ' prescription' for his present diflipultieu in the shape of a letter to the object of his affection I Of course I'm not going to tell jon what it

contained - «office lt, that. ft» principal ' Ingredient** were renewed promises of onsliaken Jove, fervmt speeches, and rainbow-tinted schemes for -tie future, those rosy-winged phantoms, that too often'leave us in the lurch' when eros sine (he dreariest marshes of life I

Hr. LiddiwaVelooked on in admiring silence, save when ihedootor paasad at the end of som* lovine sentence ¡ when Torn would gravely advise him to " pitch it strong I for when you write to a girl you ought to stuff your letter as full of sweet things as & confectioner' !"__. -...

Armed with this important missive, whioh-both in his, and the doctor's, estimation-was to set everything straight again, Mr. Liddiwake qott'ed 'L-van'sTei race,'happy in the possession of half-a-crown and a satisfied appjjitc-luxuries to which he had long been a stranger I

*. ,. * . . . * .

The morning found lam waiting-or as he expressively termed it ' loafing'-round the dwelling of Mr. Creston.

-Hobed already seen Chalks, the milkman, deliver tbe milk ; but alas 1-not into the fair hands of Miss M onie, bu'» into the red, skinny paws'of Mri. Skidler. He had al-o observed the butcher's hoy (from round the corner) give in {as he. Tom, estimated) two pounds of steaks and a pound of sausages-and had watobed tho baker an ive with the re- quisite number of ' turnovers' ; but Fate ordained that the .wo latter tradesmen should,-like the milkman, deliver the eatables into the charco of the in .'efatigable Skidler ! -

-Suddenly a bold idea seemed to flash aarass the mazy brain of Mr. Liddiwake, as he noticed a bill "Apartments to Let"' in the front window; certainly >be appeared to gain a couple of irohes in height-he walked so erect and stately towards the house of Mr. Creston ; and it would be diffioult to determine whioh had the most ' brassy' look, the fiice of Tom or the knocker which. he took in his hand, and with whioh he elicited quite an aristocratic, rat-a-tat

a-tat-tat-tat!' . ? ,

" Oh, it's you ! is it, Mrs. Skidler !'? said the artful Mr. Liddiwake in a tone of glad surprise, os if be hadn't the least expectation of that worthy lady opening the door-0,no, of

course not' ! : V . !< '.. i '.<*"- '<' '.? <>?. . ? ._?

" Well this ls & h'unexpected pleasure ! Why, it's a hage

sinoo I saw rou last !" " - - ?., ?

" Te?, it is," piped Mrs Skidler ; " but it doesn't seem to have had a h'injurlous efl'ect on either of us."

" Well, it certingly ain't inpaired your good looks- why, yon look rosier than ever I" said lom, admiringly, and certainly with some degree of truth, if he alluded to the rosy appearance of of Mrs bkidler's nose !

. '.>.' Why, yes," said the ancient darno,[Bomewbat mollified, for, take woman as a role,, telling them they look -well always'goesdawn ' 'You'veblnlca-./fnonghaway to make your re-iU'pearanos ' good for sore eyes' as the saying goes."

Now, if the saying whioh she had so aptly quoted had been au infaliib'e one, lt would have been a fortunate cir- cumstance for Mrs. Skidler ; for the smoke, her rum-drink-

ing propensities, and a habit she, had contracted of looking through every key-hole in-the house had had a most uu-' 'pleasant effect on the old lady's visual organs !

While striving to Innatatiate himself with Mrs. Skidler, Mr. Liddiwake looked out pretty sharp: for Miss Creston; but poor,Minnie was- up-stairs in her own little room little thinking of a messenger below, who was exercising all bis imaginative and conversational powers to keep the landlady engaged. , . ?

' ' Well, as I was a Bavin', Mrs. Skidler, the young man says

to sae"

".What young man ? ' growled the old woman, in a heavy

bass voice. ? .

" Bless me ! didn't I mention the young man as was a lookin' arter lodgin's? exclaimed Mr, Liddiwake, in attonish ment. , '

" No, yon didn't" said Urs. Skidler, beginning to feel in- terested, " but if thero is a young man as wants h apart- ments light an' hairy, well wentilatod, and a heitenBive

? view"--.

- "Jest the werry words T made nse of," interrupted Tom, in apparent ecstaoies-; " when he a'ked mo about 'em; says L lodgin's is scares in Sydney jest now, leastways if they aiu't, lodgers is more plentiful, which amounts to the same thing; but there's a place I can recommend," says I, and that is Mrs. Skidler's, than whioh a honester, better

tempered old'lady don't breathe." '' _ '',"

On receiving thia compliment; Mrs. Skidler gave a smile whioh reBom1 led a stray ray of half-clouded sunshine, that had lost its way in some strange coal-cellar.

" Leastways, not so old neither," said Tom, following. np : his advantage ; " but jest a nice steady sort of 'coman; ; whioh know how to make you comfortable."

" And where is thiB young man ? ' enquired the landlady, lialf-suBpioiously.

" Oh, a waitin' at the * Publio' round the corner, JOVL tee," added Tom, confidentially ; " I know people don't like to re- ceive strangers so early, and besides yon know, a person as looks tidf, can al'léra a«k moro rent for a room."

"Of course!' coinoided Mrs. Skidler, who thereupon re ! fleeted on the advisability of putting on a clean oap, im- mediately, and suggested that Mr. Liddiwake should go round to the publio house and bring ' his friend' to look at the apartments.- ' . '. . .

V Tue werry thing I were goin* to perpose !'.. cried Tom. " Lor ! Mrs. Sicklier, wot a 'ooman voa are for takin' the h'ideas out of a cove's head. And look here Mrs. Skidler, ! while i'm over there I might jest as well bring you a drop

o' that prime rum o' their1», if you'll give nie a bottle,' and the money, I'm ashamed to mention your payin' for it your, self".-he added, apologetically, " but my employer don't pay up as reg'lnr as I could wish, and so my pockets are about as empty as a bag with nut bink in it."

This proposal quito charmed the heart of the old lady, who, after expressing her opinion that "he al'ler.s was a thoughtful, kindhearted ledi" hurried off to lind her favourite black bottle.' ; While she was gone, her visitor in- dulged In n kind pf Ne«" Zealand war-d mee, enlivened with a few Maori yells, as a likely means of attracting the atten- tion of Miss Creston, but Minnie didn't come, and. Mrs; Skidler did, whom Mr. Liddiwake advised to go and 'jest tidy herself np a bit, against he brought his friend, and

tbs rum back with him.'

He was not gone long, and on his return, finding Mrs. Skidler absent, he dashed up-stalrs, with the muttered ejaculation of ' now, or never I' and looked into'Minnie's room ai she Bat before the ourtalned window, in deep* thought.

" I begs parding, Miss ; but I guv tile letter, and .here's

the h'onswer." .

Minnie started, but quickly exclaimed-" .Why, H's

Tom 1"

" At your service, Miss Minnie : I oau't stop jest now lo explain,'cos why? Skidler's waitiii,' but of course I'm up to the move between yon and the dootor ! and jevt yon tako my advice, Miss ; Btiok to him, and don't let nutbink part you : 'cos why ? ho's a h'angel-leastways. I never see one ; et, but I should think a ponton as guv a cove sunthink

to eat when he was a'moBt starvin' must bo jolly like one j Ton stick to the doctor, Miss ¡and never say die while there's

a shot in tho locker /"

With this piece of nautical advice, Mr. Liddiwake vanished ; and reappeared at the foot of the stairs, as Mrs Skidler entered at the baok door, in all the glory of a olean cap, whioh bore a marked resemblance lo a white-washed coal-skuttle. ' "

" There's the rum, Mrs Skidler," said Tom, edging off to-

wards the door. " ' '

" And where's the now lodger ?" enquired the land- lady. ...

" Oh, lie's comin'-lil e tho 1 good time, tho song speaks abput," replied Mr. Liddiwake, " only w^it a little longer I And, Mrs. Skidler," lie added, as he stepped into tho street, " if ver should want to know his name, when he doe» call it's Hookey Walker !" nnd with this remark, and a demonia- cal chuckle, Tom disappeared, -,