Chapter 64974171

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Chapter NumberVI
Chapter TitleWHAT PHILLIP ARMSTRONG THOUGHT OF JANET CARTER.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64974171
Full Date1881-03-19
Page Number0
Corrections0
Word Count2054
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleIllustrated Sydney News (NSW : 1853 - 1872)
Trove TitleThe Golden Link
article text

The QJQMQU Ikink'j

(Continued from our February Issue).

CHAPTER VI.

WHAT PHILLIP ARMSTRONG THOUGHT OP JANET CARTER.

IN the earlier days of colonial exploration, when Mitchell, Wentworth, and Blaxland were busily endeavouring to render the interior of New South Wales accessible to those engaged in agricultural and pastoral pursuits, a small party of bearded swagsmen were to be found quietly resting by the side of a small creek, the clear, fresh waters of which, peeping through a wilderness of beautiful ferns, appeared irresistibly tempting to men who had walked for several hours through the dense bush without being enabled to assuage their intolerable thirst, save by 'munching mouth fuls of coarse, rank grass.

Refreshed by the welcome pause in their journey, the travellers resumed their swags and were about to continue their long and toilsome walk, when one of them suddenly picked up a small lump of what appeared to be a yellowish, glittering substance.

Shewing it to his mates, the finder exclaimed

" If this were gold our fortunes would soon be made, I

calculate."

They looked at him, shrugged their shoulders, and laughed contemptuously. The man threw away the lump, and the party proceeded in silence on their way.

Years afterwards, when the news of gold being found in the distant interior had caused a tremendous rush of popu- lation from Sydney in the direction, of the auriferous regions, the neighbourhood of the creek where the swags- men had made a halt presented a strange and busy

scene.

The banks were covered with small, white tents, or rather what might be regarded as apologies for such ; and every- where men were to be seen busily engaged in digging or washing the soil by moans of rude "cradles," tin-pans, in fact anything which came convenient to their hands.

Among them was a tall, sunburnt, gaunt-featured man, who handled the gold-washing appliances with a restless activity that contrasted forcibly with .the listless expression of his eyes.

He was as one who mechanically laboured against

hope.

There were few of the diggers around him who had not been more or less successful in their search for that, the love of which, we are told, is the root of all evil ; but this man had been the solitary exception to the run of good for-

tune.

Not a particle of the glittering metal had rewarded his

ceaseless toil.

" Hang it all !" he impatiently exclaimed ; "I was a fool to throw away the chance when I had it. But who could have supposed it was gold ?"

He was thinking of the lump of metal picked up by him on the same spot some few years previously, and which, in ignorance of its real value, he had carelessly thrown away.

The story had been told far and wide, and had caused the place to become popularly known as " Throwaway Creek,"

which was much better than its old name of "Mutton bone."

" No, I was never cut out for a gold digger; somehow or other it is not in my line ; if I were to go back to farming work perhaps it would pay me better."

That night he abandoned his claim, manfully shouldered his swag, and bade "Good-bye" to his old mates, who, to say the truth, by no means .regretted his decision, for not a few of them regarded him as a bringer of ill luck to them ; but if he was unsuccessful with the spade and cradle it was otherwise when he busied himself with the work of the

station, and, in the happy after years, when, having bravely fought his way up from the positions of station-hand and foreman, Richard Carter found himself the owner of Mowarrah Station, he would think with a smile of his old gold-digging experiences.

"It was, however, all for the best, my dear," he would say to his wife, "it enabled me to learn what I was really

cut out for."

But he could never shake off the love of exploration, which seemed to form a part of his nature, and which led, as we have already mentioned, to his untimely end.

The gum trees and cedars of " Throwaway Creek " could be seen from the windows of Mowarrah, which was a large commodious residence, situated in the midst of a large open plain, the tall, dense grass of which was kept down as much as possible with the view of preventing any danger from that terrible calamity with which residents in country districts are unhappily so familiar-a bush fire. The house itself was surrounded by beautiful flower gar- dens, beyond which, at the back of the residence, was a large and luxuriant orchard, abounding in the choicest varieties both of English and semi-tropical fruits.

In the centre of the orchard a kind of summer-house had been built, and here sometimes, during the bright warm summer evenings, Sam's mother was to be found dreamily musing of olden times in the far-off mother-country.

She was proud of her husband, and as proud of her chil- dren, for she had a daughter as well as a son, but she had left behind her, in the old home, many hearts to which her own had become fondly attached.

She came from one of the English midland counties, a district where her family had lived for generations, and where her mother, Mrs. Grafton, was beloved by all who knew her, even by the poorest villagers, who declared that for kindness and beneficence she had not an equal any- where.

It is possible that Mary Grafton would never have left her native village or found her way to Australia but that her brother William had obtained an appointment which necessitated his proceeding to Sydney, where his official duties were to be conducted. The parting was very sad, for William was the first of the family who had ever left the shores of England, and the heart of his widowed mother, was afflicted with sad misgivings.

She had a presentiment that she would never again behold /her son.

Her fears, unhappily, were but too speedily realised.

The gallant ship which sailed from Plymouth amid the ringing cheers of the spectators, was never heard of more. Some timbers found long after all hope had been given up placed the loss of the vessel beyond all doubt ; the ship in which William Grafton had sailed had been swallowed up in the ocean depths, and to the report of the wreck which appeared in the English papers there had been added those few, fearful, hope-destroying words, " With all on board."

The shock proved too much for Mrs. Grafton ; she never spoke a word from the moment that the tidings of death reached her ears, and, after many weeks of painful lingering, died with the name of her beloved son upon her trembling lips.

Months afterwards a strange rumour reached Myrtleton : some men who had escaped in an open boat from a vessel which had foundered at sea, had been picked up by a passing steamer and taken on to Sydney.

The privations endured by the rescued men had been fearful ; one of them, indeed, had lost his reason, and on arriving in Sydney had been placed under restraint.

A possibility that the unfortunate man might prove to be her brother William, who had been given up as lost, induced Mary Grafton to take the bold step of proceeding to Port Jackson for the purpose of ascertaining if such were actually the case.

On reaching Sydney she ascertained that the whole of the men who had been saved formed part of the passen- gers and crew of another vessel which had gone down about the same time that the ship in which her brother had sailed disappeared from the face of the waters.

But she found friends, and by them was persuaded to visit several places in the country.

At one of these she met Richard Carter.

It was the old old story, the same that has been told since the beginning of the world, and which we sxippose

will be told until its end.

They fell in love with each other, and suddenly Australia acquired an irresistible charm in the eyes of Mary Grafton. They were married and their years of married life were

years of blessing.

They loved each other, and they loved their children, and when they were no more, their children felt as if the world had become blank unto them ; but Sam Carter pos- sessed much of the spirit of his father, and he learned to conquer his grief for the sake of his sister Janet.

Janet Carter was a favourite with all who knew her. As

a child, she was one of the merriest, brightest fairies that ever gladdened the earth ; it seemed impossible for any clouds to live where her smile beamed ; and she was the happiest little creature that ever breathed ; happy every- where, whether playing by herself in the shade of the broad verandah, or dancing on her father's knee, after his return from overlooking the. station hands.

Without a single sorrow to darken the brightness of her day, she made her own life and the life of nearly every one around her as glad as a summer morning.

She had, on two or three occasions, passed a few hours at the residence of John Armstrong, where she made an im- pression even upon the stoical nature of Phillip, who, though he used to say he hated women and girls because they were always talking about getting hurt at cricket, and wanting him to read pretty tales to them in the parlour half the day,

could not resist the smile of Janet Carter when ¡jhe asked

him, in her own laughing way, whether he was tired of her

company.

Nay, he had actually allowed himself to be persuaded into passing a few days at Mowarrah Station, where her big brother Sam promised to give him some real fun ; and real fun they did have-rides through the bush, climbing up rocks steep as the side of a house, wandering through lonely ravines, and searching for strange and beautiful flowers in curious, out-of-the-way places.

It was delightful, and Phillip actually thought so him

self.

Janet was very fond of the flowers which Phillip gathered for her ; they seemed prettier and more fragrant than other flowers, but why and wherefore she could not say.

On one occasion she took some, as a present, to the old housekeeper, and told her of the trouble and danger incurred by Phillip in gathering them.

The aged woman shook her old head and laughed, saying, "Bless you, I know, I know-I have not yet forgotten when I was a girl."

Janet wondered what she meant, and once she went and asked her brother Sam, who playfully boxed her ears and kissed her, afterwards telling her it was all right, that the old woman knew what she w» about, which left Janet as much puzzled as ever. »

She would have asked r'iiillip, only everybody laughed at her so, that she thought better not ; and so she deter-

mined to wait until her cousin James should arrive from

Melbourne, and then she thought she would ask him ; for she was never afraid to ask him anything ; he was so kind to her, and not half so tiresome as her brother Sam.

Perhaps it was just as well that Phillip did not know any- thing about CcMsin James, although why it should be so it would not be easy to explain.

When Phillip returned to Talbotdale Edith asked so many questions about Janet, that at last he told both her and Walter that he was bored to death about it all, and wished they would save him the bother of talking to them about people they had never seen ; but he gave Edith a portrait of Janet and asked her if she did not think she was a very pretty girl.

And Edith said, " Very pretty."

Then he kissed her and said, "But not so pretty as my

little sister."

But whether he meant it or no we shall see in due time.