|Chapter Title||PISTOL PRACTICE|
|Newspaper Title||The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 - 1954)|
|Trove Title||Ettie's Error: An Australian Story|
1foveltHt. ETTIE'S ERROR; AX AUSTALIAZ N STORY. By HAROLD W. H. STEPHEN. (Coatinued.) . CHAPTER XXII. Liseror mAczzce. "And who, in the name of all that is won derful, are you ? " asked the Superintendent oiPIolice, when Stella stood before him. "I'm Stella Chamberlain," the girl replied, with a half-laugh of defiance. She belonged to a class who regard the police as their natural enemies, and nevrer fail to "check" them (as the slang hath it) whenever a fair opportunity offers. " Where do you come from? And what are Jan 1" continued the oflicer. "I come from'the hotel where Miss David sn is staying, and I'm her new maid, if you g!l!e." This rstounding answer completely upset the Superintendent, and rendered him incap able f epeecb. But Mr. Davidson (who stood b his side) took up the running. "You come from my daughter? You know crkre sh~ is?" he asked anxiously. " se you her father?" said Stela, in a eone tone. "Yes, I ?o come from her, and I've a message to give to you from her--but I'm not a-goin to speak afore all them tmps." This, nibawithering gesture of contempt, Wnthaded to indicate the nary poor opinion thes spaker had of policemen in generaland these pansent in partioslar. Mlr. Davidsoou after apologising to the Sup ealatendent, drew the tinl aside, and soon aled from her the loll facts of the case Whmn she bad finished:- "You have behaved very well, my girl," he said," and you may be sure you shall be well resarded." "tewarded I" she cried scornfully. "D'ye think I want a reward for splitting on my osn father? Don't make no mistake about me-I'm not a gal o' that sort." "Well, well," said Mr. Davidson, sooth ingly, "Isee InIwas wrong, and I ask your psrdon. But now, the first thing to be done i to tell the Superintendent, and arrange how we had best proced." "You tell him then," said Stella, sulkily. "Ill set down on this here log, and, when yonwants me, you can call me. I don't want no palaver with them traps." 'So saying, he seatld herself on a fallen tree, whilst Mr. a aidson joined the Superintendent and Chainie Dawson, and, as briefly as possible, ut them in possesosion of the information he ha just received. "It'sa dificult thing toknowwhat todo," id the bSuperintendent, when they began to nslt upon a plan of operations. "You say tat lhissDavidson has solemely assured this rl that her father and his friends shall not t proaacuted? Isuppose you are aware, sir, hat I can be no party to this undertaking, sa that it is my duty to arrest this gang of robberns as soon as I possibly can? " "Of course," replied Mr. Davidson. "I n the dificiulty, and I know that my ~ aughter erred in supposing that she could Sqproceedings against thesemen. But, on eother hand, if this girl receives no further Sarance from us, she will probably refuse to proceed: and then, before we can find the hat the bhshrangere will have taken alarm at iha Gil's abrence, and decamp, taking my Ia~ghter with them." "I tell you what I will do, Mr. Davidson," said the Snperintendent, after a minute's re ection; "the circumstances are exceptional, d Iiillrisk something to rescue the young by. We will get a little nearer to the place, sat then camp; whilstyon go on with the land summon these rascals togiveup your hegt,. You may promise them that, in the evnt of their compliaice, we willat once etir?, and not return here till to-morrow. ISI ill give them plenty of time to escape, lIh?y make tracks at once. I don't know h er I am doing right in mnaking even this aneasson; but, as I said before, the circom tac are exceptional, and I am willing to lake thenhanna of blame." "I thank you, sir" said Mr. Davidson, 5nnnly, "and I think I dan promise yon SI have suficient influence to hold you l e then returned to Stella, and informed Sat the conclusion at which they had "Miss Davidson said there should .be no prIsctin," she said, solenly ly daughter had no power to mae any h.pro.miue. The matter ies out of our mid5 entirely. The police are on the track, yu see, and, w5ithm an hour or tivo, under msntnces, they could not fail to find lbs : . ic martermen northa o it " "Bat not smarter men than that black .Os r yonde; whoI am told, .is the taekoerm the district.'" :. .
"Iing Billyl" cried dStella, 'ith a stCatt. d "You've got him':with ?you ? Well,I" thought ' it mighty strange you gotasfr af'rthis." " You see that it-will do no good for 'you.to 8 refuse? Now, like a good girl, do the right a thing, and let us set off at once. There may betrouble if we do not arrive before you are missed." . p?.-: "Oh, yes, yesa !" she cried springing to hir feet. "Hurry up, at oncel If they miss b me, there willbe trouble, sure.. And it'll'take a good hour.to get there, anyhow," she a added. . "It took me three to come here but I lost my way in. the dark, or I'd have been a here long'ago." . With all the haste that was possible, the party proceeded up the gully; but the way 1 was rough, and theirgaide was a-foot,'so that r the sun h?d begun to peer over the mountains before Stella called shalt, and informedthem that they were within half a mile of the hut. The troopers then dismounted, whilst Mr. Davidson and- the girl. proceeded further up the gully. . c -We are informed by Scotland's greatest poet that "the best laid schemes o' mice and men gang aft . a-gley; "' which is a.Doric i translation of the French: "l'homme propose, mais Dieu dispose," and of the German: "der b mensch denkt, Gott lenkt." Certes, Burns' version commends itself to my mind as the I most applicable to ordinary affairs of life:; e wherein to our limited understanding it would appear that, for the most part, le diable has c had more to do with the disposition than leI v ion Dieu. Thus it befell that, just before Stella and her companion came within sight, of the hut, r tbheir ears were assailed by the sound of several sharp cracking shots, fired in quick succession, and followed by a perfect tornado c of oaths, yells, and screaming. ..h Let us return to Tilly, whom we left peace folly slumbering on her coach, in the pleasing E satisfaction that she had secured a faithful ally, who would speedily release her from v thraldom: In the midst of a morning dream of happiness, such as visits only the pillow of 0 maiden innocence, she was awakened by a furious uproar in the next apartment. A voice, which she had learned to recognise as that of Chamberlain, thundered out:- c "Roust out, every mother's son of ye! Here's that cursedwench of mine bolted, and, I'll take my oath, she's off to set the traps upon usl Cdrse herl" " "I toldyer howit'ud, be George Chamber lain," cried the shrillvoice of his wife. .I know'd, when I seed her tricked out in them fallals and foolishnesses, that mylady inthere had got at her I Oh, you needn't stamp and swear"-this is response to sundry intejec tions of the huImsband-" Well you knows I warned yer not to trust her with Miss High aInnd-Mighty an' her jool'ry." "Shut up-curse you l" said Chamber lain. "And you fellers-look mighty smart, fur we'll hay to el'ar outer this like a streak t o' greased lightnin'." Then began a hurried tramping, as themen hlastily put on their garments, and then went off to catch the horses. . Soon.Tilly heard them harnessing a horse to the cart, which had been left standing in front of thedoor, and then there came'a call to her to get ready to depart at once. How herheeart beat I In that supreme mom ent, she determined. to make hIer desperate effort she had originally intended; but, if pos0 sible, to spare chamberlain, for the sake o his 1 daughter. sa . . " She flung a large shawl over her shoulders, and under its folds held her tiny, but deadly, revolver, ready for use on the instant that she found herself face to face with her enemies. A minute passed-to the girl it seemed an age-andthen thenthedoorwas rudely thrown open by Chamberlain, who walked in un ceremomniously,. and caught up her port manteau. -- Come on," he cried, gruffly. - "The missus is already in the cart, and we're a-goin' to start at once. "Out you go ! " Thus commanded, Tilly walked out before hini, her heartbeating so that she almost be gan to despair of her ability to" use 'her weapon. But she was a brave girl, and had been trained to school her nerves to obe dience: so that, by the time i~he had gained the outside of the hut, she -had recovered herself. Casting a hasty gla~ce around, she saw that one of the men eat in'the cart, by the side of Mrs. Chamberlain, whilst the two others were mounted and waiting, side by side, afew yards away. Chamberlain then rudely pushed past her, and was just about to throw her portmanteau into the cart, when she cried, in ringing tones, which astonisbed her self:-?-? "Stop ! I willnot gowithyou !" "You will not--What i " shouted Chamber lain, stopping short. 'rIrefuse to go with ysu ] Attempt to force me, at the peril of your lives 1" - "Ha I ha I" laughed Chamberlain, brut ally. "Here, Jem, lest you collar her, whilst I brink over my moke." - As he said this, he flung the portmanteau into the cart, and turned towards his horse, which had broken from its fastening, and was slowly making its way down the valley. The man addressed as_" Jrem "-a tr cnlent-lookiei scoundrel-swnng himself off his horse, and advanced towards Tilly. "Here, missy," he said, "don't you go a givin' us the same trouble yer did at Mother Battley's. Come along quiet, or we'll have to tie yer agin, sure.'" - "Stop " shrieked the girl, as he came within ten paces of her. "Stop, or I'll shoot you where you stand !" And she coviredhim with the revolve". "She's got a toy revolver, Jem," cried the man ii the cart. " You. ain't a-goin' to be bluffed by no gal's revolvers, are yer? " "Not II" he cried, and' sprangtowards her. But Tilly was'disperate.- She pulled -the trigger. He leaptinto thoe air, without a cry and fell prone on his face, shot through the heart. • ' " ' -' "Damnation I " cried the other- rider,and he immediately put his hand to his belt for his own weapon. ' . ' ' - - Too late! Asother messenger of death sped from the tiny" toy," and he. fell heavily to the earth.. - ' " Meanwhile, the horse in the shafts,' fright ened to madness by the firing, had begun to rear and plunge, so that his driver was utterly powerless to interfere, whilst Mrs. Chamber lain, screaming with fright, still further ham pered his movements, by clingingto the left arm. • .Chamberlain was nearly a hundred yards off when the first shot was fired, and he did not see its effect, as his back was turned. Of course, he halted at once, and looked round; but it was not until the second man fell that he realised the situation. Then, with a violent oath, he ran back, drawing his revol ver as he did so. But Tilly did not forget her brave little friend, and refrained from firing again. She hastily stepped back into the house, and barred the door. Then, as he approached, she cried: '"George Chamberlain, for your daughter's sake I spare you l Fly, while there is still time. Seel Your pursuers are here al ready !" Involuntarily, Chamberlain glanced around and then, with a yell of rage, he rushed to wards'the nearest horse, and vaulted on its back; 'He had seen the advancing figures of Mr. Davidson and Stella, and did not doubt but that they were accompanied by a body of troopers. Dashing his spurs into the mad
dened animal's sides, he galloped wildly down the gully, in the opposite direction. . But the fates were against him. The Buper;ntendent of Police had heard the shlots, and eame up with his men just in time to mark Chamberlain's flight. ..?.. At a sign from him two tioopers started in porsuit, and, by cutting off an angle, they. succeeded in coming within fifty yards of him. He made no response to their summons to surrender, and then one of the men raisedliis carbine and fired. The man was a noted. shot, and he did not miss his mark, although he was riding at a hand-gallop at the time. Thu ball struck Chamberlain's horse in the flank; it fell, and rolled completely over its rider. When the troopers came up George Chamberlain was dead. •An easier fate befell the other remaining bnshranger. Just as the Superintendent arrived on the scene, the cart was overturned, and, before the driver couldrise, he was hand. cuffed.. Neither he nor Mrs. Chamberlain sustained any injury. SMeanwhile, Tily was laughing and crying in lher father's arms; whilst poor Stella cronched, trembling and sobbing, in a corner by the fence. When Charlie Dawson came up, and Miss Davidson extricated herself from the paternal embrace to oiler him her hand, that young man actually had the shameless audacity to clasp her in his arms, and kiss her, in full view of her own father and several strangers of both sexes I . But Tilly forgavehim--or raiher did not notice it. She was in such a state of ed?it ation that I think she even felt eurprised that the Superintendent, when he,. in his tuin, came up to congratulate her, did not take a similar means of expressing his satisfaction at her deliverance. . Pass we over the sad scene with poor Stella. There has beensomuch bloodshedin this'chapter, that I would rather wind it up with a laugh than a tear. - -. Said King Billy, as he walked up to Tilly, with outstretched palm : "Shake hand, misay. Big shoot, you make fine gin for blackfellow." And he meant that as the highest compli ment he could pay the young lady I : - . CHAPTER XXIII. - A AmDES' QUAOOBEL. .Of the joyfu-meeting-behween Tilly and Ettiethere need nothing be said. Of course they laughed, and cried, and kissed each other at intervals of every two minutes for the first 'half)sour, as any other well-brought up young women would do. And, equally as a matter of course, both talked at the same time, as is the invariable feminine custom in all grades of society; so that, by.the time they were both out of breath, neither had anything more than thle baldest conception of what had happened to the other since their separation. But Miss Sprod was awful. That respectable lady belonged tothat large class of religibus persons who-look upon every misfortune which befalls any person they do not like, as a special judgment of Providence, devised for the chastisement and amelioration of the suffreer. She did not like Tilly; in point of fact, if I dared say such a thing of a. lady possessing so well-regulated a mind, I should say that she hated her; so that it came to pass that, when the abduction took place, Miss Sprod strove to console her niece by the reflection that "the young woman" Miss Sprod always sppke of Tilly as "the young woman !'--had brought the calamity upon herself by her outrageous conduct, and that, doubtless, it would result in a chasten ing of the spirit, which could not fail to beof inestimable advantage to her, both here and hereafter. In the solitude of her own chamber,how ever, Miss Sprod, as she stood before the looking-glass, taking off her wi-well, let us say, false hai--as she was engaged inthis holy mystery of-the toilet, Miss. Sprod. not only grinned at heri own reflection in the mirror, but actually winked I This statement will,'I am awared, be receiged with a certain amount of incredulity by tiose who have followed the lady's career as recordedin these pages, but, nevertheless, it is a fact. Wild horses would not tear me from.the solid truth-when Ihave got a pen in my hand, at any rate-and I repeat, Miss Sprod winked. She may have had a nervous twitching of the eye-lid, or she may not-for myself, I.incline to the latter opinion. When, then, this admirable lady was called upon to welcome the return of the lost sheep -and that, too, under circumstances which glorified that lost sheep to an unendurable ex tent-I say, when Miss Sprod was. asked to meet the abducted one, she felt a pang;which so closely resembled angisa yectoris,.that she was unable to proceed with the task until she had fortified herself by a few drops of a cor dial which is known to have a marvellous effect in-such cases, and which chemists sig nify by the letters "P.B.' . Sef ieshed by this extremely unpalatable dose, the worthy lady stalked into theparlour with giraffe-like dignity, and- even conde scended to extend a withered paw, whilst she said, in her frostiest tones- . "I hope you are quite well, Miss David son." Now'this is scarcely the classe of salutation which a person just escaped fronim deadly peril expects to meet with, andIIhold it therefore excusable in Tilly for replying as she did. - - SSlie said:- "Quite well, thankyou, Miss Sprod. And you? Blooming as usual, I see-it is won derful how some peoplecarry their age. But -good heavens! surely, sirely, that cannot be a faint blush I see at the tip of your nose I Ah I pray. take care of your complekxion I You have no idea what havoc an Australian sun makes with one's complexion at times. And it is so awkward if it just catches your nose-ill-natured people are so apt to say nasty things about drink, you know." - . Miss Sprod was reduced to a state of "staggeration." You see, I am obliged to coin a new word in order to properly put bedfore you the condition of this worthy lady. I do net patent this word-I present it as a free gift to the public, and the future dic tionary-makers. It is a good word, and will doubtless be found very serviceable, especially to poets. . "It is too bad of you, Tilly," said Ettie, with great difficulty refraing from laughter. "What is too bad, dear?" asked that young lady, with an admirable, and most ex asperating assumption of innocence. But Miss Sprod had recovered sufliciently to do battle on her own behalf. " Henrietta," she said, austerely, "your interference is not necessary. When I made up my mind to accompany you to Australia, I as fully aware that I could not hope to meet here, among the natives, with the man ners and customs of English gentlewomen. The conduct of this young woman does not in any way take me by surprise; and, had you hot spoken, I should have treated her insolent speech with the silent contempt it deserves. Since, however, you have in a manner compelled me to open my lips, I will remirk that a little more modesty, and a little less assurance, might reasonably have been expected from a young woman who had just retuined home, after spending two nights in the company of a gang of tbandoned ruffians." : (lo be confinsed.)