|Newspaper Title||The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954)|
|Trove Title||Ronald Walton: A Tale of Early Squatting Life in Moreton Bay|
A TALE OP EARLY SQUATTING LIFE IN
Bv THE AUTHOR OF " ArvESTOnEsraQüüEKSMND."
[All Rights Reserved.]
TOMMY JOSES THE IKREI-BESSIBLE.-How HE
ESTEKTAINED His BüSII FftlENDS ¡ AND
Ronald waa often tortured by Tommy Jones' fiddle, nnd frequently had to stop it, but tho irrepressible little mun would shortly burst out ogain, quite forgetful of his master's orders. Ko could dance, sing, and play his fiddle simultinoously. Ho was very fond of quadrilles, and placing the dogs and some three legged stojls in position, ho would go through a set, threading his way smilingly, and addressing IIÍB three and four-legged companions as though they wero h ninan beings. Ho tried to break in tile cats to tako part in tho performance, but never succeeded, for as soon a» they heard tho fiddle they thickened their tails, erected their backs, and scrambled on to the roof, or up the trees, where they kept up a porpetual caterwaul- ing till ho left off; thon thoy carno down nnd finished the saucers of milk with which ho tried to bribe thom to stay out tho quadrille. At timos, when Ronald stopped him, ho would tako a turn through tho bush, and work off his sur- plus energy. At such times, tho milking cows and two or threo quiet old horses would gather round him, gazing in silent wondor ; or perhaps reflecting what a fool tho man was to exert himself BO, when ho ought to have been in bed, or taking his caso, for it was always of an evening or on Sundnjs that ho thus entertained his bush friends. His mouth waa always either screwed up for whistling, or opened to tho noccssary calibro for a song. Let us givo an illustration of Tommy's usual stylo. One evening Ronald was writing, just before dinner time Tommy had the cloth iaid, and all nearly ready in tho kitchen to dish up. Ho was singing and dancing to whilo away the time, as tho potatoes were not dono. Ronald shouted across to him to bling the dinner in, thinking that would stop the noise. Tommy danced to tho door, and said ovcrsopleasautly,
"Yes, sir-three minutes, sir. Tho swoot tater» ain't quito dono yet."
Then ho danced and whistled back again. Ronald soon heard n terrible shuffling on tho kitchen boards, and the fiddlo playing.
.'Tho thrcu minutes aro up, Tommy."
Tommy left oil', fiddling, stuck a fork in tho potatoes, duneed to the door, and said, :
"Ain't quito tho cheese yot, sir. . A leetlo 'ard in the 'art yet, sir."
He jigged oil again, singing " The Girl I loft
" I'll cortniuly havo those confounded boards taken up, if ho does not leave off that perpotual drumming," Ronald'reflocted, with much annoy- ance. " Then ho might danoo the soles off his boots, and his feet too, aûd I should not hear it !"
At that moment the noiso was redoubled, and tho tuno changed. Ronald rose and wout over to tho kitchen, catching Tommy in full swing, dancing a horn pipo with astounding agility, holding a lin dish in ono hand, and a tin plato in tho otlior, occasionally dashing thom together. These two utensils wore substitutes for vegotablo dish and covor, and tho potatoes would bo ready to dish up in another minute, but he must fill up the time somehow, and how so pleasantly all his other work being dono for the day-as dancing a horupipo ? Ho kuookod oil' at once, and Ronald said,
"Look here, Tommy ! I can't allow so much noise. I can neither read, writo, nor do any- thing elso whilo it is going on."
"Begpardon, sir very sorry to annoy you I really won't bother you so again. Going to dish up this minute."
As ho placed tho eatables on the dishes, ho sang, " I'm going to ^alabama," in a quiet tone, which, however, swelled in volumo as he went on with his work. When all was ready, he carried tho potatoes with ono hand and the roast mutton with tho other, waltzing out of the kitchen, nnd thon galloping across tho Bpaco between it and the house, which ho entered, looking grave, but his mouth was screwed up, and through his lips Bomo pantomimic tune was being blown. Ho laid the two dishes on tho table, and as soon as ho was outsido ho whistled a polka, to which ho danced back to tho kitchen. Then ho took tho kettle off tho firo, put in a handful of tea, and danced off with it to the parlour, placing it on a tin plato on tho tablo for Ronald to help himself.
"Dinner's hup, sir. 'Ave it whilo it's 'ot, Íiloase. That's the roast, sir, but tho hanimai ooked BO tough I 'ashed some too. Like 'ashes, sir? Yes, sir, thought you would. Thorn's muBherooms-stewed. Can I 'elp you to bonny thing moro, sir ?"
" No, thank you, Tommy," said Ronald, now quite mollified by tho good-natured olliciousness of hissorvant. "I'll ring when I want you."
"There's roloy-poloy pudden', sir. Don't forgot that."
"Well, ho is a treasure 1 If his musical accomplishments aro a nuisance sometimes," thought Ronald, " I shall have a difficulty in replacing him."
The bell was a largo bullock-boll, whoso sonorous toll could be heard half a milo off on a calm day. It waa hung by a bit o£ green-hide to a beam just over the tablo, and the clappor could be agitated by a pull at a string that was tied to it, and dangled within Ronald's reach ns he sat.
" Now, you go to your dinner, Tommy ; and pray do not lot us havo any moro noiso this evening. I have a lot of writing to do."
" Whatever holso takes place, Bir, you shan't bo annoyed. No fear." Ho hesitated a moment, and then continued, " Excuso me, sir, but did you hover'ear ' Tho stockman's lament?' It's in a song-book as Smasher brought me hup from town. It's to bo sung to ' Hin my cot- tage' "
Ronald looked aghaBl. Another song book ! Why, the man had a perfect library of thom already on a shelf in tho kitchen, aud knew tho whole of thom by heart.
"It's such a beautiful thing ! and would draw tho tears out of you, sir (Uonald's tears wero nearly flowing at tho baro idea). Leastwise it did out of me. Every verso ends, ' And with a fal de roldo ri do.' My word! it is a pootty thing !"
Ronald's heart sank at this information, and ho did not feel sorry when ho remembered that tho 'fellow's time was comparatively short. He said 'ina melancholy tono,
"No, I never heard it; and hope I shall not to-night, Tommy."
"Beg pardon, sir. No offenco, 1 'ope ? Thought you'd never 'card it. I never did
Tommy departed. Instantly " In my cottage" was heard, but softly. Soon, however, a word or sontenco stole into the parlour, for Tommy had the book open before him, propped against tho teapot, and he Bang snatches of " Tho stockman's lament" between each mouthful, his voice becoming londor nnd louder as ho «armed to tho subject. The bell rang.
" Tommy, youpromised to keep quiet to-night, and I wish you would remember, and do so. "hy don't you get on with your dinner?"
" So I um, sir. I didn't think I was singing loud enough for you to 'ear. Was I, sir ?"
" Yes you were-loud enough for the mon in ia the hut to hear, I should think."
_ " Beg pardon, sir. Very sorry. I won't do it no moro." Exit, singing very softly BB soon as he waB outside, and skipping like a girl, but without the rope, ho re-entured the kitchen and sat down ; shutting up the book, ho threw it on to a shelf, saying to himself,
" No, I won't do it no more-more-Rory
The thought was too much for him, so he struck up the old song, und Bang it right through. The bell rang »gain. '
"Bring the pudding, Tommy."
_ Tho pudding was brought, or rather danced 1«, and a thought struck Ronald.
"I say, Tommy. Will sell that new song
" Woll, sir, I'm far from wishing to be diu obliging, but I don't caro to sell it. You're kindly welcome to tho loan of it though, if you'd like to learn any of tho sougs. Will I bring it to you now, sirl There's the pootiest collec- tion in it I've seen hennywliores. I'll go aud fetch it, sir," he Baid good-naturedly.
"No, no. I thought perhaps you would Mllit." . ' !
"You can keep it M long M you like, sir,"
said Tommy, with a great desire that his master would accopt tho offer.
" No thank yon-uovor mind," said Ronald, who repented of his sinister design as soon as tho little fellow made his generous offer ; and when Tommy had gone out, ho muttored to himself,
" Hang it ! I wish I wero as good-natured as that little fellow. He always makes me ashamed of my selfishness. His singing will not hurt me, 1 suppose ; and if I get that book from him and put it in the fire, ho knows enough songs by heart to-to-. Well, never mind. Oh doar ! I wish Ada were hero. Whs* a beastly lonely placo this seems now !"
Thus things went on day by day, nnd the up- shot was invariably the same-Ronald's gene- rosity and forbearance always coming to tho foro, and throwing the blame on himself for allowing his very natural feelings of irritation to rise, after Tommy had made profuso apologies for his delinquencies, or did or said something in his own irresistibly good-natured way that made ample amends. But wo will tako wings and alight in Brisbane fer a short time, leaving Ronald Walton to get on with tho lambing, which was about commencing.