Chapter 71319991

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Chapter NumberIII
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71319991
Full Date1898-11-05
Page Number37
Corrections0
Word Count2194
IllustratedY
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleAustralian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1870 - 1907)
Trove TitleA Tale of Twins
article text

Princess Spina way's Department.

A TALE OF TWINS.

(By. Muriel Clarkson, Toodyay, West Australia.)

(Dedicated to my dear old friend, E. T.) .

CHAPTER, nr.

It was about a -week after Gerald's nnai «ose 01 medicine, and when lie had been declared com pletely recovered by the family doctor, with many cautions about avoiding dampness, and anything else likely to give him a cold.

They were all seated in various attitudes on the long grass, beneath an acacia tree in the garden, Mrs. Grantly reading, Aunt'Marion knitting, and

the boys talking.

"Here comes the postman," said Gerald sudden ly, looking up as the gate clicked.

The man came straight aoroiss to Mrs. Grantly, and handed her a letter, written in a strong, hold

callgraphy. .

As she opened it, a look of pleasure came over her face. Vlt's from Uncle Harry, afc Woolgoine," she exclaimed. "I haven't heard from him for a long time. Let me see -what he says. 'I hear one of your boys has been ill. As you know hy experience, there« is nothing like country air, so pack up your traps and come to Woolgoine for a few months. I daresay a. holiday would he good for you, too.' A hearty welcome awaits you, and my larrikins are longing to make acquaintance

with their cousins."

"Oh, mother, do go!" the twins exclaimed, sim u!tc?rieouBly; "send a telegraim off now."

"Of course you will go,'* said Aunt Marion em phatically; "I can easily look after, the house, and all three want a holiday. I don't. Send a tele gram off, to say you arrive on Thursday."

"Oh, Marlon," said Mrs. Grantly, deprecatingly, "we must walt for a few days--"

"Nonsense," said her sister-in-law, "why should lyou wait; pray? Plenty time to pack; so go.tn Thursday;" There was determination in her tone, so Mrs. Grantly, who was longing to see her brother again, gave in -willingly, and. the twins were made happy.

They talked extravagantly, of the bushrangers they would fight, forgetting that bushranging days had departed, with Ned Kelly, and speculated as to the cost of . a new set of shelves for their mu seum, as the old ones would not hold half the tro phies of the country they would bring back.

Alick carefully covered their treasures over, and locked the'door from prying eyes; while Ger ald read all that he could find about bird-stuffing, preserving snakes, etc., with an assiduity that was astonishing, and had the effect of making him mutter all sorts of absurdities in his sleep that

' night.

The train' left at exactly 9 o'clock, or, rather, was-supposed to, but the can arrived at Burnsia House at 8.15, and nothing would satisfy the twins ; until they -were seated in it and rattling down the

.; street.

; Everyone knew that they were off for a three

months' holiday up country, and, strange to say, they were all sorry. That is, with the exception of: an old maiden lady, whose impious cockatoo was the chief hutt of the twins' many pranks at

that particular part.

He was swinging In his cage and talking to

himself, and as they went by Gerald leant as far out of the window as he dared, and yelled

"Hullo, cocky; want a cracker?"

As soon as the well-remembered voice fell mock ingly on his ear, the old bird poured forth pro fanity of such quality and quantity that Gerry drew his head In speedily, looking rather scared.

"What a dreadful old bird," said Mrs. Grantly, looking shocked, as well she might. "Who can have taught him to speak like that?"

"Miss Spink, I think," Alick said, with a grin; and Gerry told him he ought to have made the rhyme on Monday, and he wo md have got a pre

sent.

A Fremantle train was preparing to leave the station, and people were scurrying to and fro women with a baby in arms and two or three hanging on to their skirts, and fat, jolly-looking men, who wore a "to-morrow-will-do" expres sion; while above all rang the porter's shrill voice, "This way, please," and the stream of peo ple passed out to the street beyond, while others filled their places.

The twins were amused while watching the train, but when it had steamed out the time hung heavily on their hands.

They read all the advertisements over, pur chased a "Scraps" each to beguile the* tediousness of their journey, and then passed another five minutes in buying bananas at the stall.

"Let's hop the length of the platform," said Alick. "I bet you a banana that I'll be first."

"Agreed," answered Gerry; and without more ado they commenced. Just as they began to come back the shriek of an engine was heard, and without finishing the argument they were having as to who had won the bet they scampered wildly back. Then the doors opened, and the carriages emptied their freight of passengers-mostly office men-and others eagerly filed in. There stood a small porter, shouting out a long list of names of the stations to be passed, with marvellous ra pidity. As Alick said, the words seemed to sli ther off his tongue like butter off a hot knife.

Mrs. Grantly settled herself in a corner seat and drew out her magazine; but the twins were con tent to watch the houses and streets as they flew past the windows.

Before them rose the Darling Range, looking

Taking Tea in the Arbor.

misty and blue in the bright sunlight, "with a few fleecy clouds hanging above it; but a good many stations had yet to be passed before they reached

it.

At Helena Vale, Alick declared he was very thirsty; so as soon as the train stopped he jumped out, and hurried off to the watér-bag.

Gerald was watching a jibbing horse on the : opposite roadway; but as the train began to move with a preliminary whistle from the engine he and his mother stared at each other in a startled manner, for Alick had not returned!

He rushed to the window and looked out, and then he saw his twin brother rushing madly along tho platform; a minute after, and a bend had hidden him from sight.

""What a naughty boy he is!" said Mrs. Grantly, vexedly. "This is the only train to Bilbarra; so we shall have to wait all night at one of the

stations."

But, lo! at the very next station Master Alick

turned up in no .wise put out, and inquired of ; Gerald whether he had eaten all the bananas.

"Why, how did you get here?" they both de manded, in a breath. "The guard picked me up," he said; "but it was a close shave. He's an aw fully nicè fellow, and gave me some sugar beer."

Gerald evinced a great desire to make that guard's acquaintance, and Mrs. Grantly restrained him with difficulty.

The scenery after that was very monotonous, nothing but stretches of rank grass, blackboys, and gum trees; so the party of three made a rest ing place on the carriage, and went to sleep.

The twins had determined to keep awake all the way; so when Alick thought Gerald was asleep, he asked, "Sleep, Gerry?" and Gerry al ways answered, "Nb." ? ?

Birt by-and-bye both heads began to nod, and soon they were In the land of dreams.

Alick was the last to sleep, and the first to wake. His eyes felt heavy; but he was firmly convinced . that he had not slept at all-only dozed.

When Gerald awoke a few minutes later, strange to say he had the same belief as his brother.

Alick did not feel very amiable, so he began to jeer.,

"I thought you would not keep awake," he said.

"Pooh! you were asleep yourself," retorted Ger ald;"! woke once, and heard you snoring loud enough to bring the roof down."

"I-wasn't," Alick said, angrily; "don't tell--." But here Mrs. Grantly, foreseeing the quarrel likely to ensue, interposed, and drew their at tention to the beautiful country they were passing through.

On either side of the rails beautiful festoons of starry clematis and scarlet runner clothed the nakpd stems of the red gum tree; all the ground as far as eye could see was like a huge green carpet, woven into a variety of patterns with

ra In bow-col oreti flowers; while here and there were dotted golden clumps of mimosa, and black and white smoke plant. There were a few sheep and cattle close by, and as the iron horse snorted through the quiet gullies they stared at it for a moment with surprise in their mild, soft eyes, and then continued their grazing.

Stations had become few and far between, and at last, after a longer interval than usual, a little platform was reached, with "Bilbarra" in flam ing red letters on the front, and on the glass panes of the solitary lantern.

It was raining, too, just a soft, soaking rain that wets one through so quickly; so Mrs. Grantly and the two boys took shelter in the little shanty that did duty for goods shed and waiting-room.

"Where is the town?" asked Gerald in aston ishment, for only a few lights, about a dozen or so, wero gleaming out of the pitchy darkness.

His mother told him that there was no town only a few houses; but before they had time to say anything more a carriage drew up outside, and Uncle Harry came striding forward.

He gave them a hearty greeting, and then hur ried them into the buggy; the horses were let go,

and they rattled off merrily.

Such a long, Jong way lt seemed, though in real ity it was only ten miles; but to the shivering travellers Inside it seemed as though they drove

for hours.

. They passed a gate, where the word "Wool .goino" gleamed in white lettere on lt, as the buggy lights flashed by; then they suddenly drew up

before a short flight of steps.

"This is home," sadd uncle, cheerfully, and he flung the reins to a groom, and hastened to help

his sister alight.

The next moment the haili door had opened, the great lamp inside spreading its radiance across the verandah, all wet and slippery with the rain, and showed Aunt May standing there ready to welcome

them.

She gave all a motherly hug, and told the twins how their cousins were longing for them to came; then she helped them off with their wet mackin toshes, and led them into the dining-jroom, where

tea «was awaiting.

As they came In, where a great fire was roaring in a truly delightful fashion, a tall girl of about

16, with curly, tawny-colored hair, and dark eyes, . rose from the hearthrug, with a toasting fork in one hand, and a slice of bread In the other.

"This is Miriam," said Aunt May, pleasantly, and Mrs. Grantly kissed her warmly. She was the only niece, that she knew well, and ¡had always ¡been fond of her, as 'most people were.

Alick and Gerry said "How d'ye do?" rather shyly, for this graceful young lady overawed them. Sh o was so very different to what they had ex

pected. .

. Before any more could be said, there was a trampling of feet overhead, then a sound as if the staircase was falling through, and the door burst open, and the other six cairne tn.

There was Jamie and ¡Dave, twins of 14;.then Jack,'Mag, and Virry, of ll, 7, and 6 respectively; ard 'last, but foy no means least, little 3-year-old

(Baby.

Such a sweet little thing she was, very like Mi riam, only her eyes ¡had-more brown, and the tawny

hair was lighter.

"What a sweet child!" exclaimed Mrs. Grantly; and Baby, as If understanding the compliment, ran over to her, and climbed on to her lap, saying, in her sweet little voice, "I yikes you, lAuntie!"

The twins felt dreadfully shy among such a lot of strangers; tout their cousins were not touched with any such sentiments, and chattered to them as eagerly as though they had known them all their lives. Before long they were on very friendly

tennis with each other.

'"You'd?..think iMirry very grown up and horrid, wouldn't you?" said Virry, in an audible voice, as she watched her tall sister .moving about and set ting the table to rights. "But she isn't; she's just splendid, and -plays wLf us like anything."

Mm, Grantly and Aunt May smiled, while the children laughed. Virry looked round in dignified

surprise.

"I don't see.why you should laugh," she said; "you are very rude. ' I didn't say anything funny!"

At this, there was another burst of delighted laughter, and her feelings were so hurt that she could scarcely be prevailed upon to come to tea.

After tea, when they were all toasting their .frozen feet at the fire, Aunt May proposed that the travellers should go to bed, and further their ac quaintance with WoolgOilne to-raorrow, which pro posal they were very glad .ito accept.

'(To be continued.)