|Newspaper Title||Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1870 - 1907)|
|Trove Title||A Rose Among Cornstalks|
Ä Rose Among Cornstalks.
- (By Ruby Whittell.)
Affectionately dedicated to Uncle Dick.
. CHAPTER IV.
\#«ttose waa so busy trying to explain to Girlie th< ,^hy and tho wherefore of the mechanical toy thal » she forgot the remaining parcel on her lap, ané
the little white-dressed figure of Babette standing near with her hands clasped behind, her back. Girlie was practical, and was not content to see
jtnej dolls move and become lifelike without know jfjjtfgl why and how-if she had met a fairy she t'ívpjúld have picked its little wings off to see il '. '-itíSy were made of net or living gauze-and Rose
^was trying to explain. Then a soft touch on her ;arm stopped, her. "Where do I come in?" and
Wlj/ßBö was Babette, looking very much ashamed of
herself the moment she had said it, and heard Jack remonstrating "Betty." Rose laughed, and patted his little pale golden head, which Gir lie once remarked was just- like silkworms-«ht mount aille, but the saying clung to Babette, anc the boys often called her "silkworm" after; Anc the last parcel was put into her eag ?er. little hands with a kiss. It was a doll in a trunk, with sets of beautiful clothes spread out very artistically. There was the "ball dress," and the "walking dress," and the "morning wrapper," and Babett« did not know which to try on first-they were all so dainty and pretty. Then Moola suggested they should take Rose over Sklllagalee, and there was a rush for shady hats and sunbonnets.' Rose went upstairs and kept them walting a long while, and appeared with a chiffon veil tied over ¡her straw hat and covering her* face. And on her hands were gloves. Jack gave a suppressed snort when he saw her, and Rose fell very much in ; his estimation. It seemed to him to be vain and ßtupid to be so careful about one's complexion. Moola never was-«nd even Moola looked rather doubtfully at her.
"We are only going about home,»you know," she sáid, "to show you the orchard and the animals. Where's Betty?"
"Here I is," said Babette's high voice, and the next instant she appeared, and Jack burst Into a surprised whistle; for the little maiden had run in, for she wished for a veil, too, in flattering im itation of Rose, and after ransacking a drawer of scraps, the nearest thing she could find was a piece of mosquito net, and had festooned it round ¡her sunbonnet, and now came out looking a quaint
"What's this for dear?" asked Moola, laughing ly. "You don't need that, do you?"
But Babette refused to have it taken off, and followed them out into the garden, which was gay with sweet-breathed carnations and bridal flower and roses. There was such a balmy langor in the southern air, the perfume of the flowers was so fragrant, and away ovor the top of tile pittosporum hedges the red nectarines showed' brilliantly in the sunlight, with a background of tropical palms and ferns and creepers at the foot of the great mountain. Rose would have felt perfectly happy alone there, or with Moola and, perhaps, little Babette; but the others' criti cising, all-noticing eyes seemed to be upon her wherever she moved. . Then, in trying to get through a fence, instead of over it, as they all did, she got stuck, and had to be helped through, and they laughed, and Girlie had a fit of giggles, which she tried in vain to stop. Moola never
crawled under-she could get over a three-railed ]
" fence as lightly and lithely as the boys could-and
as thoughtlessly. Then they went to the or chard, and the boys and Girlie threw down nec tarines to Rose and Moola, who refused to climb, much to Jack's disgust,. Hère was Rose's influ ence creeping in already; Moola had always loved an exhilarating climb.up the orchard trees before this English cousin came. And, unkindly, he revenged himself by throwing down the very poorest, most weedy little nectarines, and then grew ashamed and came with a handful of the best he could find, all ripe and red, and juicy. ,Then they visited the lucerne paddocks, where two old fellows in check cotton shirts and mole skins and cabbage palm hats were raking and .working, pausing sometimes to drink cold tea from a huge billy in the shade of a lucerne heap. Before the old men knew, a whirlwiud of Darrells had swept down on them, with blood-curdling shouts-the boys seized their rakes, and their neat little cocks , of lucerne hay, sweet-smelling and fragrant, -were tossed into wild untidiness as the boys showered the grass over the girls, while Jim and Zachariah protested, and really by de grees grew very angry. They were twins these two old fellows; Zachariah."was deaf and Jim had a wall eye-queer-looking old men with red-lined faces and a small fringe of straight sandy beard rotund7;their chins. Their arms vere very thick, and as brown and rough, as the bark of a turpen tine tree, and they waved those arms as they pro tested against the boys playing havoc with their .work. . In the general confusion the billycan was knocked over, and the milkless, sugarless tea sank into the ground and rested on the grass in small brown drops. ' Zachariah. came up to rescue the billy, rand the' boys quietened a little, and told him . they Were sorry to have spilt his tea.
. , "Never mind," shouted Moola, close in his ear, Jhrhile'he winced and moved away. "We will send
you. some nice fresh hot tea down at dinner-time it was an accident, and we're awfully sorry,"
Zachariah rubbed hi3 eur thoughtfully,
"I dunno what tho- mastor'H ba aayln' "about the way them heaps is knocked about," he salt! looking round ruefully,
. Jack went up close to him, "We'll make that all right," h¿ yelled. "You ueedn't worry. Come on, kids." And away they went like a devasta ting plague, leaving the poor old workmen, with their scattered lucerne and their spilt tea.
"Humph!" said Zachariah. "The Government ought just to set on these 'olidays and put 'em down; the young vàrmints 'ud be far better get ,tln' théir schoolin* than plaguin''round'and des ' trdyin' things. If Premier Reid was half a cove, h'd jest see to them 'olidays."
* * * ?
And the Darrells and Rose Chester went home.
I There was no sympathy between them; they
despised Rose for her prim timid ways-and she ¡ war. rather obstinate, too, and would not take any
notice when they told her the best way to get under fences, and how to get grass-seeds out of her dress, and what to do for mosquito bites. She had her own little way for all these things, and went calmly, obstinately on. She thought them unsympathetic and impatient and a lit tle overbearing-all except Moola and Babette, who were always kind and sweet. Ted seemed to wish to please her, but she resented his little "old-man" manner and snubbed him when he tried to be "nice," for being nice with Ted meant being elderly. There was always a great deal of fun going on, but it was fun which Rose had not yet learned to under stand. Much of their talk was unintelligible to her. It was such a mixture of bush and college "slang." That night the English girl, with the strange Southern Cross looking in at her window and showing brilliantly in the dark sky, cried her self to sleep, and longed for "father" and the be loved home, Merivale Park.