Chapter 71321148

See chapter in newspaper

Chapter NumberVI.
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71321148
Full Date1898-12-03
Page Number37
Corrections0
Word Count1774
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleAustralian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1870 - 1907)
Trove TitleA Tale of Twins
article text

A Talc of Twins.

(By Muriel Clarkson, Toodgay, "W.A.)

(Affectionately dedicated to my dear-old

friend, E. T.),

CHAPTER VI.

Two months of the holiday had flown by on swift, gay wings, and already the twins were heaving prodigious sighs, and wishing that the

house might be burned down, oa- some similar . catastrophe happen, to postpone their departure.

But nothing had happened so far; so they made the best of tbe remaining month, and tho days from moru'tlll night were full of pleasure; while picnics, riding parties, etc., were the order of the

day.

. Alick and Gerald had gone kangaroo hunting several times, but Jane was resolute in lier de termination not to go, so Miriam htayud at Lo'iio

too. She said that it was hateful to soe the pool' ? brutes worried by the dogs, and that the boys were "cruel monsters," but Dave only laughed, and reminded her of the times when sttó did like wise herself.

The shearing season was rapidly approaching, and as the shed was twelve miles away. Uncle Harry and-his. two boys were constantly riding backwards and forwards, superintending the erec tion of fenns and huts, and rebuilding fenees.

Of course, the twins went :oo, each, on 'heir re spective ponies, and sometimes Mirry and June met them as they returned, and they all went tor a scamper through the paddoclts.

One day.Uncle Harry, Gerald, and Alick were all out at the station, building the Fheep yard where it was broken, while Jack and Dave were iii at Woolgoino getting a supply o£ mutcliwod, i-i(ch,

and other necessaries.

"Dear, dear, I forgot that we had no twine," said uncle, vexedly, and stopping from his work of making a gate. "What a nuisance, and we really

must get' this race finished this afternoon. Burns's , flock will be up soon." .

"Isn't there any about here?" asked Alick; "It's such a long way to Woolgoine, isn't It?"

"Too far to go," said "Uncle Harry,, decidedly. Then his face cleared. "I left a hank hanging on a tree about a mile along this path a few days ago," he said'; '"do you think you could lind ie?"

"Oh, yes," they answered, eager to help.

Then,- as they bounded away, he called after them,' "Follow the path straight along; you can't miss it. You will see it on a big gum tree. Don't get lost,". .

But they had vanished out of sight long before his speech was finished.

The two boys walked for about half a mile, talk ing merrily, and making the bush ring with their laughter. .

Then suddenly a bird flew across their path-a fluttering thing, that looked as if its wing was broken, with brilliant plumage and crested head.

It fluttered away for a few yards, and then set tled on a branch, and peeped at them with its bright little eye cunningly.

"S-h!" whispered Gerry, creeping stealthily forward; then he picked up a stone and let fly with it. It hit the limb, and with a cry the bird flew on, fluttering more than ever.

"Come on," shouted Gerry, excitedly. "We must get it for our museum. Oh, isn't it lovely, and I believe it's wing is broken."

They followed it on and on, while every mo ment the- sun sank lower and the bush , grew denser; but the twins had never heard that when birds see anyone near their nest, they entice the enemy away by pretending they are wounded.

. This was the case with the brilliantly plumaged bird the twin» were following; back by the path there were three 'warm eggs in a dainty nest, and presently the mother left her pursuers far behind,

and flow away, out of sight.

"Look here, old. boy,'' said Alick, suddenly, "we are a pair of donkeys to* go following after that blessed bifd; it's led us a nice dance, and now I haven't the slightest Idea where we are."

... Gerald stared round blankly. Where the bush, was green grassed and tree-covered before, now .only a few jarris and blackboys grew, ànd the ground, was barren looking.

"I believe it was that way," he said," after a pause; "let's try it, for the sun is setting, and it gets dark so quickly."

They walked quickly for about a mile, but the bush remained unchanged; then Alick threw him self down on the grass.

"It's no use going further," he said; "we took the wrong direction. The fact is, we're bushed."

"Well, let's find a place to sleep in," said Gerald, looking nervously round at the darkening woods, "and don't, for goodness sake, let's go away from it, or we will wander round in a circle, and they'll never find us."

"AU right; we'll stick in 0116 place: of course they'll lind us to-morrow," Alick said, with a cheerfulness he was far from feeling.

"Now, let us go to these boulders, we may find a shelter." ;

, They,walked over to the huge group of ironstone boulders, on the summit of a barren-looking hill. In one part of the rock a large basin was hol lowed out, while the one above hung over, so that it forméd a natural cave.

^Here's the very thing," said Alick, peeping in; "now, Gerry, come and help me get some bushes, or our bed will be very hard." -

He was rather enjoying the adventure, and not a doubt existed in his mind but what they should be found next day, but he determined at all costs not to move from the rocky bed, ror he knew that lor.t people moved in a circle, and that they often were days before found, and they had a better chance in the ene place than moving, and losing themselves more completely. . But Gerald looked out at the darkening night, with, its falling sha dows, and wished fervently that he was in his own

little bed at home.

Long before they went to sleep the bush around them was filled with strange sounds; the walling of curlews and nightly birds, and the yowling and spitting of fighting cats, with which the heigh borhod was thronged.

And while Alick slept a peaceful sleep, Gerry tossed about on his hard bed, with dreadful dreams crowding after each other, and the chill night wind seeming to freeze the blood in his yelns. And could Uncle Harry, scouring the bush far and wide in exactly the opposite direction, led Hiere by the print of a shoe-clad foot, hâve seen them, bo would have been aat'onlshea, and relieved at

the safety, instead of spending a night of tortured

suspense. '

Three days went by, and Uncle Harry never

came!

Three weary days, which Alick spent in gather ing the most temping berries he could find for Gerald, and carrying ferns and bushes to' soften their hard, rocky bed.

The second day they had botli been wet to' the skin, when lt rained very heavily; and as they had noilire their clothes dried very slowly, and the' cold settled on Gerald's chest, as It always did.

And now, after a sleepless night, Alick had car ried him out into the sunshine, hollow eyed, and

white as a sheet.

. "Water, water," he kept saying, in his weak voice, and time after time his brother filled the old tin they had fcund, and gave it to him.

, Poor Alick! it was weary work to sit watching; > his twin brother growing weaker each hour, while now and then he raved deliriously, and he wan dered anxiously why they had. not come to find them. He wondered miserably what they shculd do. He was weak and starved himself, and the 7sight of swan berries sickened him; and he regret

ted, too, that he had not insisted on trying to go ..back instead of. staying among the rocks.

But Jerry had persisted that they would bo sure to miss the searchers if they did; but certainly their plight could not be worse than it was at present.

; As Alick sat on the grass before their cave, something white fluttered down at his feet. He picked it up, and found, that ' it was his own handkerchief whiclv had fallen from the pole they had- stuck In a fissure of the rocks. He climbed back with it, and soon had it floating as before. Then, as ho1 went down again, he saw the peak^of a hill about .three miles away, standing out clearly against a . background of blue sky, and a sudden thought en

ternd his head.

"T say, Gerry," he said, rushing up. "what asses ve were not to see that hill before; it's beautifully histh, and I daresay I can see the station, or Wool goine from it. I think I'll go over to it."

"All right," said Gerald, indifferently, for he was feeling too ill to take any Interest in what was

said.

But he added fervishly: "Don't be long, Alick."

"Right, oh!" answered Alick, cheerfully. "I'll run all the way."

But the hill was further than it looked, and wi iou- he reached it at last he was almost worn

out.

Then he could not refrain from shouting with joy, for about a mile away a pale yellowish thread of smoke was ascending from the stretches of gum bushes, betokening human habitation.

Joy seemed to have winged his feet. He ran swiftly all the way until at last the rock-cro<wr¿ed summit of the Ironstone range loomed In view.

-?- "Oh, Gerry," he began eagerly, then stopped

short. There before him was the grass, flattened out where Gerry had been lying; but Gerry was not

there !

He called again and again, but only the echo answered mournfully back; then he sank, shudder ing, on to the ground, his face sheet -white, and a horrible fear clutching his heart.

"Gone!" he muttered despairingly, "gone, and

he's delirious!"

Then he started to run as hard as he could back to the peak, his eyes blinded with the hot tears that would keep forcing themselves under his lids,

and rolling down his cheeks.

It was sunset, too, and great banks of crimson aud yellow clouds were piling themselves upon the horizon. At any other time Alick would have stayed to admire it, but his mind was full of other things, and he only stumble*? on.

: Then his foot tripped over'a treacherous log, and he fell heavily, twisting his ankle so that hè gave a cry of pain. A thousand'lights seemed to dance before his eyes, and then deep darkness over

whelmed him.

(To be continued.)