|Newspaper Title||Clarence and Richmond Examiner (Grafton, NSW : 1889 - 1915)|
|Trove Title||Alice Laverne|
Tun old mini was tho first to break tho .silence. "Yes!" he said, some- what abruptly. " I must tell you thc history ol' Alice Laverne ol'Oorandoo. The whole I can never relate, and
I even il! I could it would bo far too ! long, for only a fragment of it could
be told in one night.",, " But I intend to remain here for a few days," re- plied Stanton, " to spell my horses ; and if it will not inconvenience you I would like you to stay with mo for
that time. I feel sure that wo can
delightful spot." Atter a pause, tho old man hogan : "It is now thirty, years since I first saw OorahdqOj" Yes, thirty yours havo ptissod' away,
and yet it seems but yesterday. I remember it so well. It was just such another evening as this, thnt I rode up to the new slabnnd bark hut that served as a homestead for tile La Vernes. It was not euclosed then, but there were a lew yards some little distance away. They asked me to remain that "night, for the people were hospitable in those days. Next morning Laverne, having learnt that Ï was accustomed to bush work,
I offered me employment, which I accepted, ily work consisted chiefly lin looking after the cattle and im j proving the place. We had many j difficulties to contend with for the hrst few years. The cattle frequently ' strayed away, or were hunted by the ; blacks, and we had often to live on a i limited supply of rations, for there were no steamers in those days, and the nearest port (which was then a' long distance o IV, owing to the circui- tous road to be travelled) was visited only by sailing craft, and at long in- tervals. Still wo wore very happy. Laverne was a jolly, good, kind- hearted sort of fellow, whose greatest weakness, perhaps, was a love for his neighbours' cattle ; and rumour had it that ho US;N1 his branding irons more frequently than he had a right to do ; but then ho himself said that he had lost many cattle, and this we all knew to be true. He was also very hard on the blacks ; harder, I often thought, than thero was any occasion to be ; and yet I scarcely think that ho intended to bo cruel, for when branding he never used to press the hot iron heavily, as he con- sidered it to be cruelty to animals. The result of this was that many of the cattle had to bo re-branded, but 'two slight punishments are easier for thom to enduro than one that is severe,' he used to say. So lightly did he apply the brand that we had some- times to closely examino matty of tho older animals to lind the missing letters LL, and if they had wholly disappeared, wo knew thc beast must be ono of those branded by LaVerne, and it was, of course, branded afresh. Ho was a wonderful man, I assure you, and had a. great memory. Ho could recognise years after any beast that had been lost, be it ever so much changed, and could readily account for any change of colour that the animal might have acquired during its absence, and yet Laverne was a man who kept his word and paid every mari to the utmost farthing. He used to say that his neighbours were jealous of him because he had such good luck with his cattle, when informed of their threats or opinions. ' Narrow-minded, narrow-minded fol- lows,' he would say ; ' they cannot look at things in a proper light..' As for Mrs. Laverne, she was a remark- able woman ; its good a housekeeper as ever lived, and so fond of flowers. It was herself and Alice that laid out
and looked after the garden. Alice was tho only child. "When. I first came to Oorandoo she was in her thirteenth year, very lively and happy. As might bo expected, she was the'pet' with everyone, and nil her wishes were carried out. A few years passed away, and Alice became a lady of great beauty. In tho mean- time another young lady came to live at Oorandoo ; she was Alice's com- panion, and they got on well togethor. Annie was some years older than her friend, and was also beautiful ; she was much admired, but Alice was loved. Things prospered at Ooran- doo; the herds increased, more ha inls were employed, and many improve- ments mode. Tho family now occa- sionally visited Sydney, ami in somo instances remained away a month or two. During their absence things were, of course, very dull, and every-
one looked forward to their coming j homo again. On returning from one j of these trips Laverne brought a new chum with him. They said that he ! canto for colonial experience. His j
name was .James Prindle ; Mr. Prin
dlo ho used to call himself, but among i the station hands he was better j known as 'Chummy' or 'Jackaroo.'! He was a big, burly kind of fellow,
with still' ways and a very high | opinion of himself. As ho "was al poor horseman, and would get lost if lib ventured out of sight of the build-
ings, unless he happened to be on a ! track, wo had many a joke at his expense. This annoyed him much, I and he never took kindly to the men, nor they to him. Still, he was a favourite with the ladies, and ho and Annie were often seen riding out to- gether. After a stay of about, six months, ho went away to Sydney for a holiday, and did not return. Before leaving, however, in a lit of rage ho nearly killed ' little Smith,' of tho out station, for playing some tricks upon him. Wo missed for a time the 'butt' of our jokes. Before long, however, another colonial experience man -' Jackaroo ' No. 2 we called him - jnado his appearance at Oorandoo. He was a very different man from his predecessor, as ho was small, with fair hair and a light
moustache. His eyes, however, wore i
nearly black, and Iiis hands small and delicate. Ho appeared so helpless when ho arrived that we came to tho conclusion that ho would soon get tired of hunting cattle and bush lifo at Oorandoo, and predicted for him a speedy return to Sydney, In this, however, we were mistaken, for a few months made a wonderful chango in him. His name was Jules Fernando, and ho was born some- where in the "West Indian Islands, and brought up on a plantation; indeed, this was pretty well all that wo ever learned of his history, for though as a rulo he wis not very silent, yet he seldom spoke .of him- self. Iio was just twenty years of age when he came to Oorandoo, and so slender was his frame that any ono at a glance would pronounce him wholly unfit for a rough out- door life. He had ono peculiarity, however, that we noticed early-he novcr got lost. It took him. somo time to got accustomed to the saddle, but it was soon discovered that he
wns fearless, and not at all afraid !;of a horse. This, of course, raised'hin^ a few grades in tho estimation of the
boys, and when he ventured to mount a buckjumper that was considered to be too good for. any- one but Black Harry, we expected an accident. He, however, managed to stick on somehow by holding on j to the pummel of the saddle till the ¡ animal ceased his plunging. Twelve \
months after his arrival he was a
good horseman. He frequently stayed out till late at night ; what his object was nobody knew exactly. It was said, however, that, he used to 'thvow' strange cattle, and mark them with Laverne's earmark. Be that as it may, it was well known that he had ventured farther into the mountain than anyone else, and even discovered some good grazing 1 country on the upper streams. For
this Laverne rewarded him with ; cattle, and they became very inti ! mate ; indeed, it seemed as if he i would become the trustworthy man,
: and this, of course, was galling to the
older hands who helped to make the I place what it was. But, worse than j all, he became a favourite with Alice ! -Alice, whom I loved as never man
! loved before, and whom in the near . futuro I intended to make my own, ! for I was now a prosperous man. ; Ah ! it was easior for a man to get : on in those days than at present. . My wages from the beginning was
cattle, and they had increased. I j hud an ider where I could settle ! down on unoccupied country-just j as Laverne had done-and in all . probability equally as fertile and pic I turesque tis Oorandoo. I was led to ' believo, hy what means no matter, ! that Alice loved me, and I knew that ! she loved me still ; but, alas ! I bognn
Ito fear that she loved Fernando i more. I was, of course, passionately
j jealous, but still proud, and endoav ! oured to conceal my love. I should,
howevei-, have mentioned that long before Alice and my rival met she I was my betrothed. 1 remember well I tlie morning I told my tale. From ; the top of that hill you can obtain a j glorious view of the ocean. Often j Alico and myself, and for that mat ! ter many others as well, took ad j vantage of the fine summer morn-
ings to seo the sun rising out of the sea. On one occasion, however, wo ! ascended and arrived at the summit ' earlier than usual. From whatever ! cause the great banks of clouds be i came of an intensely red colour, but j gradually began to disperse. It was ! then that they assumed the most
j wonderful shapes that I over beheld.
; The scene was always more interest ! ing when there were a few clouds, j for then we could watch their fantas I tic forms as they gathered or dis ! persed in tho golden beams. On this ! morning they appeared like a forest j of moving trees along the horizon. I
had heard of sunrises like this from
j the blacks, who considered them a I good omen, but never witnessed one Í before. I know not why, but this
scene made us both doubly happy; to bo brief, I confessed and was accepted. But since she took up with Fernando, though Ave often met, neither of us ever referred to that eventful morning, which was always uppermost in my mind. I deter- mined to forget it, be the cost to me what it may, and began to prepare my plans for leaving Oorandoo, but
never breathed a word about it to anyone. But did Fernando love I Alice as I did ? Would lie be true to ¡lier? Would he always try to make ¡ her happy ? were the questions I ! found myself trying- to answer ; but I this Avas not an easy task, for he Avas j deep, and kept his own counsel. I CHAPTER III.
! I'NOW loft Oorandoo fora time on the pretence of A'isiting a distant cattlo station, for my plans Avere not yet fully matured, but in reality to search for fresh country for myself. Taking Boko, my trusty, blacld'ellow, with me Ave set out on horseback, my intention being to take the animals as far ns AVO could ; thon, if necessary, leaA'e them and travel on foot. Boko tilso led a horse, on which Ave pucked enough provisions for a feAV Aveeks. Our route for a time lay parallel Avith tho coast; then striking inland Ave for the mountains, in thc hope of reaching some of the upper tribu- taries of tho Wandaraja liivor. On the third night we camped in a Avild, rangy country, and though Ave had traA-ellod far, yet according to our OAvn1 reckoning A\re could not be more than thirty miles in a straight lino from Oorandoo, for Ave had been des- cribing a curve during the Inst 2 days. After taking our tea Ave put out tho lire, as was our custom whon travel- ling, and Avent some distance aAvay, higher up tho hill, to sleep for the night. We had to bo cautious in those times, for travelling among savages was by np means safe ; there AA*as always more or less danger, and they could account for many a Avhite mau that AVC cannot. But to resume, hoAVCA'er. The night Avas elem-, and the moon about half full ; Boko and myself AVO re lying close to onoanother in the long grass at the hutt of a huge tree, AViïen he whispered some- thing and slowly raised his head. 1 listened for a moment, then heard a distant tramping sound. I grasped my roA'olver in one . hand and toma- hawk in the other, then Avaited. Nearer and nearer it carno. I soon
recognised the trancing of a horse, and Jcnew by the puces that it had a rider ; but Avho could it be in this land that I considered never to haA-o been
trodden by any Avhite man but myself? Immediately he made his appearance Boko Avliispered, ! Fer- nando,' and he Avas right, for it wns none other than he. But Avhere Avas he going at this hour, and what could be his mission ? This was a mystery that occupied my thoughts for the greater ,part of the night. Ile passed y Avithout noticing us, and ns ho urged his horse forward I conjectured that he intended to reach his destina- tion before the moon Avent doAvn. I remembered noAV that for some time hack ' he had often : been away from Oorandoo ii few nights at a time. This, hoAveA'ër, attracted little or no .attention, for it AVOS believed that he was rafter cattle, and ngain, many stockmen are'ffbrid of ; camping out..
"When I first saw him it flashed across my mind that ho might, like myself, he out on an exploring tour, but a nearer view soon convinced me that such could not be the case, for he was in no way fitted out for that purpose. Thei'o was something about the affair that I disliked, and before going to sleep I decided to track Fernando. This, with the assistance of Boko, would be an easy matter. Next morning, however, many things had ' to be attended to before setting out. ! In the first place, a suitable locality
to leave the horses had to be found. As this took up some time it was late when we got a start. We had no difficulty in following tho trail, and hurried on. Tho more I thought the i matter over tho more certain 1 felt
thatFernnndo had some secretmotive
in coming here. Evening came on, and the sun sank behind the great trees ; it got too dark to follow tho track anylonger,so there was nothing for it huit to camp for the night. We chose a place a small distance! away from the trail, and began to eut a portion of the small supply of pro- visions that we had brought with us. Boko appeared more restless than usual, but to my query replied there was nothing tho mutter. Presently we heard some noise not a great distance oil', and knew that they were made by natives. I determined to go nearer, if possible, and see what they were up to. Boko disliked the idea of going very much, for the tarne blacks are far more afraid of the wild tribes than the white mon are.
However, X mclucsd Jum to tollow.
We soon saw the glare of fires beneath us, and had now to proceed stealthily. We at length crawled to where some rocks projected. From our position we had a good view of what was going on beneath, with little danger of being observed. 'White gin,' muttered Boko, in his broken English, as soon as we reached the place. Though I spoko his lan- guage fluently, ho seldom addressed ino in his native tongue, unless I spoke it first. Tho scene that broke so suddenly upon us I shall never forget. On a small wattle flat were a number of fires ; some of them very large. Several blacks went to and fro among them ; they were busy roasting animals and birds. Many, however, were seated in groups, and chatted mirthfully ; their metallic laughter echoing pleasantly in the stillness of the night. There wore many women anti children, the latter taking a considerable in- terest in tho rousting process carried on by tho black figures that moved weirdly among tho trees. I at once recognised Fernando among them, looking very complacent and happy. He. was standing on the opposite side of one of the fires, and beside him was tho fairy-like form of a young white girl, probably not moro than seventeen years of age. Her ligure Avas extremely graceful, with- out a particle of dress excepting au ornamental girdle that encircled her waist. As slie moved in tho light of the fire, surrounded by the darkness, her long black hair streaming over her shoulders, I thought her the most beautiful vision that I ever behold. They addressed one another in the native tongue, and it was not difficult to seo that the pair were lovers. I will not dwell on the feast or the corroboree that followed -
those were not new to mc. My eyes followed Fernando and his mysteri- ous lover. Wherever he went she
followed. Once, and once only, did she leave his side. She soon, how- ever, returned, and smilingly handed him something. It evidently pleased him much, for ho examined it again and again, showed it to some of the blacks, who did not appear to take much notice of it ; then went to his saddle, which was a little distance oil' at the foot of a tree. I could see it but dimly. However, I concluded that ho placed his present in ono of the saddle bags, for 1 did not see it with him when he returned to the fire. I drew Boko's attention to this but that was hardly necessary, for little happened that escaped his at-
tention. We waited till silence fell over the camp, and the fires had smouldered away ; then in tho dark- ness of the night I desired Boko to descend and search tho saddle bags for the object ho had seen with Fer- nando, and if ho found it to bring it to him. Cat-like he disappeared, and as noiselessly roturnod with some- thing in his^ hand. I knew by the feel and weight that it was some heavy metal. Wo now took our de- parture, but had not gone far when daylight began to dawn in tho east; then hurrying back to our horses, we resumed our journey.
To bc Cont inned in Tuesday's issue.
TlIE LITERARY OUTLOOK REVIVAL.-A new revival in our literature is presnged by Mr. Jose in lus lecture before the Uni- versity Union, which appears in the Dully Teieu'ritph. The encl ot the century is at hand, when the history of literature justiiles the expectation of new developments. Sur- veying the literary horizon of to-day, tho writer looks for the coming of a new genius sufficiently powerful to inspire the revival, now due by date, and Antis the pioneer in Rudyard Kipling. Despite his extravagance, his cynicism, and tricks of turgid verse, hu recognises the possession of the stuff of which great men aro made. There are many other indications that wo are passing into an era of literary revival, in its main form dis- tinctly Elizabethan. Never since tho days of Drake and Raleigh has tho fiery spirit of adventure burned so brightly among the English race as in these days. Never since tito days of Sidney and Drayton has a clearer spirit ol' poetry lit so many minds in so many and so various' ranks ; und never even in tho proudest, days of Nelson's victories' have the name and the deeds of Englishmen roused such a reasoning and yet. indistinguishable patriotism. The sap of the national genius ts rising in us again ; the winter lull is over. New literary life is upon us and around us, and it behoves Australia to see tn ifs lot and part in it. A new world of thought and character has been opened up-a land which we may explore as well as our kinsmen over the sea".
During Cardinal Moran's recent, illness he appears to have been .resting at Fraséate, that interesting Roman suburb of which the bust of the Royal House of Stuart-the Car- dinal of York-was Archbishop early, in tho present century. Tho Pope, willi whom the chief Australian prelate is. ii favourite by reason of intimate, association in former years, sont a special messenger every day tô intpiire after,tho health'bf the Cardinal.' .'