Chapter 64974242

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Chapter NumberXII
Chapter TitleMATTHEW BOLTON SPEAKS TO SAM CARTER.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64974242
Full Date1881-04-23
Page Number0
Corrections0
Word Count1933
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleIllustrated Sydney News (NSW : 1853 - 1872)
Trove TitleThe Golden Link
article text

CHAPTER XII.

MATTHEW BOLTON SPEAKS TO SAM CARTEE.

Sam Carter was not a little astonished when one bright, warm afternoon he beheld Matthew Bolton riding, as if for a wager, across the broad, grassy flat which separated the gum trees of Throwaway Creek from the verandahs of Mowarrah ; and still more astonished was Sam when the old squatter, rapidly dismounting, walked straight up to him

and said

" Sam, you must, I think, have guessed I have not come here for nothing this evening. I am not an old hand, and hate beating about the bush."

Sam's eyes opened as big as saucers, and, for a moment, he thought Matthew Bolton had taken leave of his senses.

But he soon began to understand what was the cause of his friends excited demeanour ; for Matthew Bolton blurted out the whole story in a few short words ; after which they began to talk, and a great deal was said about this and a great deal about that, and, when at last the old squatter

remounted his horse it was settled that Janet Carter should

give her hand to Phillip Armstrong, on condition of Matthew giving the latter a portion of his station property and a sufficient amount of capital to enable him to manage it successfully.

" I can do no more," said the old squatter, "and I cer- tainly shall do no less."

Then he and Sam shook hands over the arrangement, and as Matthew rode off Sam sat down and, with a bewildered air, slowly relit his pipe.

But the two men had overlooked one little circumstance -they had never asked whether the arrangement was one which would meet the views of Janet Carter and Phillip Armstrong.

No doubt J anet would have made Phillip a good wife, and he have made her a good husband ; but, unfortunately, Janet's heart had already gone, and, as for Phillip, he had none to give away, so he said, and he believed it.

Had Sam Carter and Matthew Bolton been favoured with a glimpse of the actual truth there would have been a row ; but, as it was, they were ignorant, and in their ignorance extremely complacent.

Sam had undertaken to say something to his sister ; but he was not clever in matters where a certain amount of

diplomacy was requisite. He could shoot a flying-fox, almost run down a kangaroo, and throw a lance farther than the most skilful black ; but when it came to telling his sister about her future husband he felt completely up a

tree.

Still, his promise must be fulfilled, and so, somehow or other, he never remembered exactly in what manner, the

conversation was commenced.

' ' Don't you think Phillip Armstrong a fine fellow ?"

Janet looked up at her brother, who pretended to be busy with his pipe.

"What made you ask such a question ?" she enquired.

This was a very simple query, yet Sam found it one

difficult to answer.

At last he said, "Well, Janet, don't you think he would make you a good husband ?"

Janet coloured, then laughingly exclaimed

" Why, Sam, what on earth put such an idea in your head ? Don't you know that Phillip Armstrong dislikes nothing so much as the idea of getting married ?"

" Certainly, Janet, and I am very sorry for his taste ; but the day will come when he will find what it ia to have a woman to look to in his trouble. Look at old Bolton, as good a soul as ever breathed, and quite spoiled because he could not find a wife good enough for him ; and now, after being master in his own house, he wants to be master in mine also. I tell you, Janet, it is a great mistake not to get

married."

" Then why do you remain single yourself?"

Sam was about to reply rather testily, when his dog sud- denly commenced barking furiously, and the next minute Phillip Armstrong made his appearance.

Sam received the young man with much' cordiality ; but Janet appeared reserved, and scarcely took notice of his

presence.

And what brought you here, Phillip ?" asked Sam; I thought you were in Sydney."

"Mr. Bolton telegraphed for me, saying he had something important to communicate ; I met him as I was riding towards his house, and he told me to ride over and see you, as you had something to say to me."

" There must be some mistake," replied Sara, who was determined not to have all the work of explanation thrust upon himself.

Phillip perceived that there was something which he did not understand, and prudently accepted the "situation." He remained for about an hour chatting with Sam, and occasionally addressing Janet, who replied in monosyllabic

fashion.

When he returned to the residence of Matthew Bolton he found the old squatter anxiously awaiting him.

" Well, Phillip, my boy, and is it all settled ?"

Phillip's only reply was a blank look of astonishment.

Mr. Bolton at once saw that young Armstrong knew nothing of the matter which had formed the subject of con- versation between himself and Sam; accordingly he deter- mined to tell him there and then. If he had been less impatient he would have waited till the morning ; but when I ever he took anything in hand he could never rest until his I work was accomplished ; besides, Edith and Walter were I both away gathering ferns, and the field was left clear to

him.

"It is not my desire,'' he said, I" that you should settle in Sydney. I think you would do much better if you were to turn your attention to land ; I should like you to assist in managing my property, for the work is getting too much for me, and I am getting an old man, besides I should like to see you and your brother and sister settled, if possible, before I die. Your father was my best friend, and I have ever looked upon you three children as my own, and as such I have striven to love you. I am con- tinually looking forward to your ultimate happiness, and I trust you will give me credit for this-but I am an old man, I say, and may never live to see it. Should I die you may, however, rest assured that you are all well pro-

vided for.''

And Phillip thanked him for his kindness and care most heartily, but he breathed not a word about his desire to embrace the naval profession-that his sole thought was to become a sailor ; the evil angel was too strong in him for this just yet. Then another thought came across his mind, and he spake out as was his wont, fearlessly and strongly, and for the first time Matthew Bolton was made aware that his residence was not the peaceful abode he had imagined it to be, but he trusted it would all be well ; he was very sorry to hear it, for he believed Martha Woolston to be a kind, well-intentioned woman, and one in every way fitted for the position which she occupied ; he trusted he should not have occasion to hear of this again.

The last words fell rather harshly on Phillip's ears, and he muttered to himself,

"Then the poison is strong enough to work."

It was well Matthew Bolton did not perceive the cloud which gathered on his brow when he spoke thus. It was that terrible cloud which so frightened Edith whenever

she saw it.

But Matthew Bolton did not see the cloud ; he waited a few moments and spoke again.

" Both Sam Carter and I," he said, " have for some time past noticed the fondness which seems to exist between his sister and yourself. It is almost unnecessary to say how entirely we both approve of it ; in fact, nothing would make us happier than to see you two united. She is not poor, and I will take care that you shall have enough to make you

both comfortable."

Phillip, armed with his usual self-possession, listened quietly to the end ; then he said, calmly,

" I really hardly know how to answer to this, Mr. Bolton ; I have never dreamed of such a thing."

The old squatter stared in astonishment at the young

man !

Do I hear you rightly ?" he asked.

"Perfectly, sir." "

"Then what do you mean by it-trifling with a woman's affections-you must remember it is no light thing, sir."

The last word made Phillip start ; he felt that he was on the brink of a precipice, but, as calmly as before, he

replied,

"I have never even sought to ascertain Miss Carter's feelings on the subject."

"Then the sooner you make up your mind to do so the better ; remember that my word is law."

And with that Matthew Bolton strode angrily out of the

verandah.

"Well, here's ago," said Phillip to himself as soon as he was alone-"a pretty pickle for a fellow' to find him- self in-to be made to fall in love, whether he will or no."

Then, in a moment, Sam's strange behaviour flashed across his mind, and he saw it all ; bringing his hand down with a terrible thwack on his thigh, he, with his own merry laugh, shouted rather than, said to himself,-" Well, I do

like this."

And just then the door leading on to the verandah opened, and Edith, trembling from head to foot, came up to where he was sitting.

" What is the matter?" she asked, half fearfully.

" Matter-what matter ?"

She looked at him in surprise.

Why, Mr. Bolton is nearly mad about something or other, I think. What is it Phillip ? Do speak."

"Well, then, my little sister, I'll tell you in about a dozen words : Mr. Bolton wants me to marry Janet Carter,

and she loves her cousin James."

"And you?"

" I won't, and I told him as much."

"You are very good," and she laid her hand on his shoulder ; " but I am afraid there will be an awful row."

"Row or no row I don't care a fig," was her brother's answer; "but they will drive me mad if they will bully me in this way. I wish to heaven I had run away to sea half a-dozen years ago."

"Phillin."

"It is of no use talking to me, Edith; excepting you, Walter, and Willie Poulton, I don't care a hang for any one on earth, but if this lasts much longer I shall go mad. There's Martha Woolston, she is bad enough to endure with Mr. Bolton here ; but to live with that woman in the house

alone it would kill me. "

Then he told her all that Matthew Bolton had said, and asked her what he should do, and of course she replied he

must do as he was told.

And he said, " Well, if it must be it must," and with

that he kissed her and entered the house.

But his heart said " No," to all this, and he went up to his bedroom and flung himself on the bed, and ground his teeth in very agony of soul.

"Oh! if only my mother were alive," he groaned, "all this would be different, but I cannot do it, and I will not

doit."