Chapter 61252202

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Chapter NumberI
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article61252202
Full Date1893-07-29
Page Number6
Corrections0
Word Count1788
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleClarence and Richmond Examiner (Grafton, NSW : 1889 - 1915)
Trove TitleAlice Laverne
article text

|Oi;iCIXAJ, STOKV.]

ALICE LAVERNE

Hy Kl.-<:.\iAl'!-t:s.-.\utlii>rof ..i:!.-o:-nniim-!'«,"cU-.

<\vnnT¡:x FOI: <;. AN» I:, UXAJÜNEIU

CUAl'TKlï I.

IT WI t s DD ¡i clear autumn evening i tho ca Hy " suvoutius " that John Wi fred Stanton journeyed northwari through thu Const District ol' Nev South Wales, on his way to Queen lund. Ult was mounted on a. goo horse, tittil led ..mother, which carrie it pack. Tho rider kept constant! glancing front ono honst to tho otho with a certain amount ol' concón while tho slow pace, together wit UKI haggard appearance ol' tho an mais, gave evidence thal they wet becoming Jeg-woary, and desired t vost. " llow far is it to Oornnduo '; int] it i roi I Stanton of a tra voller, win less fortunato than himself, wa doini; a pilgrimago on loot in th opposite direction. "Wn'al, ahou titree miles and a Itali', .1 .should say was tho answev. " Good place t'o camping, is it not?" continued Stat

ton. " Waul, yes; there is plenty <; water, and good grass for tho 'moke* too." "I have not huon th oro mysol this time; hut I heard ahont it nwii, huck. I til'nys used to camp titer myself, when I travollod with'orson, "it j« not on tito main road, then ; observed Stanton. " No," wtis th reply; "hut only about, haifa mil away front it, you will see tho brii.ll trii.uk going to tho loft. Keep a loo! out foi' it after yon cross tho hrs creek." " I. must push on,".said Stan ton, striking his beast with his h ooh "flavo you any tobacco on your " Yes," said Stanton, taking the ii¡ that he Intel been using from hi pucket, mid handing it to the othoi " Matches toa?" he continued. "Wa'al yes, if you have any to spare," wa tho response!. "1 have a few, hu they are not ol' tho best--{jot damp (¿uito enough ; that will do. 1 wii he able to have a, smoke now. GOOL evening." " Good evening," repliei Stanton, anil the tramp wis gone The horseman looked up at tho sm tts he now rode more leisurely ninny "J shall bo there in good time," lu

muttered to himself.

Oorandoo was hut one of the mtinj picturesque clearings- former sta tiou sites - to be met with in tin forests ol' thc Const District ol' New South Wales. They are now silonl as their surroundings, but give evi- dence ol' having been, many yoim ago, the beautiful and prosperen. habitation of man. They belonged lo a generation whom, with a few exceptions, wc can see no more. A generation of pioneers who, without fear and fond of adventure, loved to settle down in the unexplored wil- derness, and lay tho foundation of (as they doubtless imagined) per- manent homes for themselves and fu III Hies. JJ ut in due time tho free «electors mude their jippeara.net;, and "took the eyes out of their runs," the result lining that the pioneer had either to sell out or desert. Some of the more prosperous got equally remunerativo, ¡floss beautiful, homes elsewhere, and some retain their original holdings still. But many deserted, and tho former abodes of men ami women are slowly, yet .surely, reverting to their primeval condition. These artilicial clearings have many points ol' resemblance in common. In nearly all the orange .?uni lemon still Jlonrish, and bear their fruit for the satin bird, ont hirtl, the many varieties of tho par- rot, family, and other suctorial birds of gandy plumage; their occasional cries beting the only sounds that hreak tho stillness of these dreamy ..uni romantic glades. In nearly all, too, there remain a few sturdy grey ..inti moss-grown posts, bidding, as it were, defiance to time,and indicating tho placo where the strong wooden houses and stockyards once were; hut these aro becoming fewer, and must eventually decay long before tho trees and shrubs introduced have hoon .absorbed by tho neighbouring jangle.

On roaching t he clearing, Stanton's countenance brightened, for (Intro -was grass l'or his horses. Tho animals themselves in their impatience bogan to feed immediately ho caine to a halt. Glancing round him for a suit- able etimping pince was the work of a moment ; then urging the beasts a little further forward to the bank of tho stream that emerged from the scrub at the one end, to ho lust sight of in a similar mass of brushwood and great trees at tho ot her, he lixed his camp under one of the largo orange trees. Stallion was in tho springtide of his. career, apparently about six or seven and twenty years of age, ol'slight build, and about tho middle height, while his sunburnt fnco and hands indicated continued oxposuro to tho weather. His oyes liad now resumed their natural Jauguid expression, which showed Jblmi ho was not altogether insensible

to thc sleepy halo ol the surround' ings. The lust rap of the Autumi sun lipped t he mps of the great gum! with crimson. and lingered arnouj. the pulmlike ii lires of the tull oaks ai if reluctant ro bid oven a temporilrj adieu to the scene. Stanton, whs w»is deeply absorbed in his owl meditation, stood near the fire; h

his inind a long stick, with which h< balanced thu now simmering " hilly, ;and so prevented it from falling ' Lost in Hie past or future, (ind quit«

unconscious that any eyes were upoi I him, he did not hear thc approaching

footsteps, and gave a slight -start a tho " Good evening, mate," tba sounded quito close to him. "I di« not expect to meet any one here," hi said, recovering from his surprise '?This place has not many "caller.-, was tho quiet reply ot' the strange* as ho threw down his heavy "swag near the lire, and sat upon it. Judg ing from his appearance, tho nev comer could noe he less than lilt; years of agc. His elosely-croppec hair and trimmed beard were quiti white; yet he was possessed of con siderablu vitality, and did not appea: to bu tho least exhausted from tin weight of his burden. Taking off liii broad " cabbage tree," and carelessh fanning himself, lie continued in Í clear voice, "Twenty-eight miles to day ; not lind, eh 'i I did not ex- pect to get hero so early." " That ii certainly good travelling," replied the other. "Not much of the sun downer about that." " How did you manage to find your way here'/ Tho new arrival went on, not notic ing the other remark. "I had t_ vague account of it this morning,' observed Stanton,'' and quite recently J was fortunate enough to meet Í traveller, who told me about thc bridle track." The other, in thc meantime, lind taken somo parcel.' from his " billy," and was about tc start for the stream. " You need liol go for water," Stanton remarked " For I have enough tea for us both.' " Very well," replied tho other, whe began to undo his swag and take some eatables therefrom. "My name is Eill," he said. Billy Hawley ; "une iiiinu is John Stanton," the youngei answered. Tho two .strangers were now on intimate terms, and begar their hearty meal. Tho conversa tion turned on many matters. Stan- ton, however, observed that lib friend glanced at every object in thc clearing with evident interest, 1101 did the chango that came over hi> countenance, us he looked alternately in different directions, escapo him "Tilis is a charming place," observed

Stanton. "What a beautiful home- stead could he made hore ; but 1 suppose it could not be made to pny Poor land in the neighbourhood, ne doubt," and his eyes rested upon an overgrown rose bush some distance from them, on the opposite side oí the stream. The other heaved a

deep sigh, but being conscious that he had attracted his friend's atten- tion he turned towards him and exclaimed, " You seo that shrubbery yonder ?" Stanton answered in the allii-mati've. "That," lie said with suppressed emotion, used to be the favourite place of Alice Laverne. God bless bec. I think I see lier

now, with her .sunny smile and golden hair," and tho old man's eyes beciunc moisli, butonly for amoment, foi' he continued in a low and firm voice. " You wonder at the interest 1 take in this place, but I have known it very long ago, in the time of the Lavern es, and here my happiest days were'passed, and you seo it now." "Yes," said Stanton, "and beautiful still." "Ah, yes!" replied tho other, " but only reflecting in a small degree the beauty and happiness of the past. Every time that I visit it, it seems more silent than before. The forest trees are again encroaching on what was once their own, but some of her favourite bushes still live, and appear to he dreaming of Alice. Alice, who is gone, I often wonder where _ she is now ; if she still lives, and is happy. Of course, she would bo changed by time, but not. to my momory. But, alas, I frequently think she is no inore. T!ie fate of A lice is a mystery. And my old mates. I never meet them now, and know not where they aro. I suppose they ha ve gone, and I also 'must soon follow them; but what I matter, what matter." "You take

j rather a gloomy view of things," 'interrupted Stanton. "You have

still good health, and no doubt wish to live." " Ah, yes !" was the answer, " I wish to live, but to live only in the past and dream of what is gone." " However," ho continued ns he drained his pannikin of tea, "wo must drop this subject, as it cannot be interesting to you, and it only makes ino feel sad." " On tho con- trary," said Stanton, "I feel deeply interested, and hope that you will 1 ell mo tho whole history 'of Alice Laverne and this place." Stanton did, in reality, feel interested, for ho bael a. mind for romance, and had already been impressed hy tho earnestness of tho other's manner. The oki man arose, and threw a few fresh pieces of wood on the firo ; then sat down again without saying a word. There was a period of silence ; i tho two men sat facing each other,

on opposite sides ol' the tire, sending j clouds of smoke from their coloured

"elapcys." The columns lazily as- cended through tho clear atmosphere, j and were soon lost to view.