|Newspaper Title||Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1870 - 1907)|
|Trove Title||The Second Secret of Silversleigh|
THE CHILDREN'S CORNER.
CONDUCTED BY ETHEL TURNER.
'i(Aut!1?r °f "Soven Little Australians," "The Wonder-child," etc.)
Thc Prize Competitions.
Tho results will appear next week.
Princess Spiiiaway's Department.
"THE SECOND SECRET OP SILVERSLfEIGH."
By "The Substance."
\ : (With Apologies to "The Shadow.")
An awesome calm lay over tho scene. Near . the. fence the moonbeams shone directly on to
the soft grass, with a cheerful, reassuring .?;,.v/.-,.:'lißhtr-.;'but:in-'the contre of the "bora," where
the trees and thiele foliage were most abund-
ant; tho shadows veiled all, save where the, rays trickled through occasionally, as tho leaves above moved slightly; but these patches of light served only to intensify the gloom
??? elsewhere. .
Lr.ssie Rtoorl for a moment, where 'she had " jumped full in the light of the moon, peering
Into, the shadows, anxious, . yet fearful, to ' penetrate their depths. But she soon plucked
up her courage, and advanced gingerly, looking about, partly admiring the scene in this new moonlit aspect, and partly watching for sus- picious movements amongst tho bushes, for the cracking twie on the garden path had un- nerved her considerably. A few yards brought her to the border of the realm of shadows, where,' she acra In hesitated, and then stepped recklessly forward, endeavoring to laugh away
Presently sho dropped down on her knees beside one of tho mounds on which grew a luxuriant crop .of buttercups wrapt in sleep.
She. bent forward to sniff them-then suddenly stopped. There was a faint scraping against the fence behind her. Her breath came in short gasps as she cautiously turned her head to divine: the cause: As sho did so there appeared above tho fence a crop of woolly hair-then a Tnoe. The moonlight was streaming directly : upon .lt, showing off every tenture distinctly.
Tn n -second Lassie recognised lt as that face she' had seen in the bushes by the crook only a few days proviously. A cry of fear froze on her lips; and sho watched, not daring to move,-her heart thudding against her breast, as-the blackfellow drow himself up to a sitting ^position cn tho fence, then lifted up a pick and- shovel, and dropped them over into the "bora," following them himself. Then, after a cursory glance around, he placed himself with his back against the fence, and, to Lassie's horror, began to stride directly towards her. At the sixth paco, however, he stopped, within only a few yards of Lassie, whom ho must have ' seen had she not been in tho shadows. Ho .?' stood for a second, looking about as if in search
, ot some landmark, then turning to the right ho . v took six more measured strides and halted Just
at the foot of a huge gum. With his shovel ho then .marked out a square, and, taking up the pick,'began to dig vigorously.
All this time !L¡assie naü Deon croucning ni her hiding place, watching with fear and won- der tho movements of this nocturnal visitor. , kassie's curiosity for thc while partly over-
came her fears. The pile of earth from tho hole was rapidly increasing at the man's side -he was wasting no '.¡me.. Occasionally ho would kneel down and peer into the hole scraping the dirt, with his hands. Then ho would rise and work on still moro vigorously. So intent was he upon his work, and so intent was Lassie upon watching him, that they nei- ther of them heard the rusted hinges of tho "bora" gate creak softly as they were slowlv pushed open from without. And it was not until King Nanbiu'alla was right within the "bora,"
and full in tho glare of the moonlight, that. Lassie's eyes fell upon his crouching figure. For fully a minute he stood in a half-kneeling position, resting on one hand, his head thrust forward, gazing with eyes that glittered in the moonlight, at the figure of the blackfellow be- fore him, who, with his back to the King, work-
ed unconsciously on.
And Lassie, still hidden in the shadows, watched with mingled fear and astonishment the tableau before her. Presently, the old chief began to steal stealthily towards the digger, and Lassie noted with horror that he carried his "nulla," which she had often seen hanging in his tent. Why was he there? Why was he carrying that weapon? She could hardly prevent a cry of warning springine: from her lips ns his creeping figure approached the unconscious digger. On he crept, more like a beast of prey than a human being, his body doubled, his one whole leg bent like a tiger's about to spring.
The suspense was awful, and Lassie felt faint, yet fascinated. She strained forward, eagerly watching. Her hand rested on a rotten gum bough. As she rested her weight on it, lt snapped with a report exaggerated by the deathly stillness. The digger started round just as King Nanburalla was upon him. An Instant he Hesitated, but as the chief raised his "nulla," he dodged quickly to. one side, and Lassie saw the gleam of steel as he sprang itt the attacker.
She cried out with sudden fear, but tho King, with unerring accuracy, stepped back. nf.
the same time delivering a blow with his' club that sent the knife hurtling from tho other's hand. Tho man stumbled back with a howl of pain and rage, but darted forward again immediately, only to receive another hit on the. neck. Perceiving from this that tho rushing fight wns ineffectual, he ndopted other tactics. Keeping well out of reach of the "nulla," ho began to circle round the chief, whose movements were greutly hampered by his wooden leg. This continued for some time, Huntawong making several unsuccessful attempts to get home a blow. Suddenly the other leapt forward, dropped on his knees to
ItYQtó the "WW&,"ft°4.row w^h the kR|.fe Jn
his hand. Seizing Nanburalla round the waist,
he endeavored to stab "him, but was driven: off by a shower of heavy blows on the head., Again he circled round the chief with a springy, feline tread. Then again he dashed in, and,
despite, Nanburalla's blows, grabbed his wooden . leg, and toppled him over on his back on the pile of earth. Lassie saw the gleam of the knife as the blackfellow poised it in mid-air, then plunged lt into the chief. ' ,
Before he could strike again, Lassie bounded out from her hiding-place with a wild shriek. Her sudden appearance took the man utterly by surprise and, with a glance at. her approach- ing figure, he turned and fled out through tho "(bora" gate, and into the darkness, as Lassie fell unconscious beside tho bleeding form of King Nanburalla.
(To Be Continued.;