|Newspaper Title||The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 - 1933)|
|Trove Title||Thompson's Claim|
Bt the Author of " Dividing Maws."
"Tt wasn't much of an attack, but it takes a ««, down, does colonial fever. Seems as if all Se world somehow was pres.-mg down on you =nd mighty sore it makes your head. When I tngrounda bit Joe's daughter came to Bee me. I was ljiug kack iu a canVM chair' and tned co nB>8>'' Don't try to got up, Mr. Watson,' sho p,,id, standing by me looking, it seemed, moro teauti. ful than ever. ' I have come to maka a confes- sion to you. Mrs. Slattery has told m-3 what you have been doing. No-please dor.' t speak yet. It has opened my eyes. I have bien a very very wicked hard-hearted girl.*
«"That's not truo, I KWiStt say.
«' ' It is. I have found out for myself what my nwther tried to texch me, what noble and cenewus hearts may bo found under a rough cover. I won't say how I thank you, door Mr, Wilson ; I think £ begin to know what sort of _r.n you are. R-at I will bo a different girl, and J -want you to bslp mo.'
" ' And I always will do it, my dear-that is, Miss Ethel.'
'"Please -don't call mo Miss Ethel; call me Ethel, or what you will. Treat me as if I was your-your-'
"TU call you my uirce, dear; your father and me w?re old friends.'
"'Pletse do-think of me as your niece,'sho said eageily. And do you know it didn't seem quite bo pleasant as I thought it would be. You see I wasn't much ovor forty-not really, though maybe I looked it.
"'Well thin, dear,' I went on after a bit, and feeling a little as if some more lead had come down aud was pressing on my head, ' you won't mate a fuss over me paying in my wages samo as I havo been doing, I Bhall be all right directly, aa_ there ia lots of work to be done on the field.'
"'It shall be as you like, uncle,' she said, and when ehe said it again it seemed to hurt me nore ; 'but I have been thinking that .poor papa would be better at work too. He always seems cestless, and ho gets his pick out end makes holes about the hut. Couldn't you help bim to make a hole somewhere, and perhaps you might find some more gold. I could cook aud keop house for both of you, and wo could live very
1 We'll seo about it whon I get about. Any- way, I thiuk you are right about his working,'
" Then we fell to talking about her father.
'" Ploaso, uncle,' ehe said, ' tell mo about him. I want to learn to love him, and I know so little about him.'
"So I told her all about Joe, and all the good I knew of him in all the years we had known one another. She sat by mc, leaning forward, her big brown eyes fixed on mo taking in every word.
"'Thank you, uncle,' she said very Bimply when I had done. ' If I had only known this sooner it would have boen batter for me.' Then she rose to go, and, promising to come back soon, she put her little hand into my great big flat.
" ' I'll do nil I can for you, Ethel, and never even ask for a thank you. But I'd like it better if you didn't call me uncle.'
" ' Why ? I wished to call you uncle because next to my own father I wanted to love you,' she said very sei iously ; 'but I will not if you
do not wish it.'
" ' I wish you to love mo, Ethel, and perhaps, after all, it's the best way.'
" Wheu I got about again I went over to see Joe, and found him as his daughter had described with pick and shovel busy sinking a hole. All round the hut were holes as thick as if it bad been a rich pocket on a good alluvial field. It had been all done since I had fallen ill, but Joe was a quick workman and never lazy. Ho carno up out of the hole with a dishful of stuff, and began to wash it. Of course there was no gold, but he washed steadily to tho end, and didn't seom to mind when ho found nothing. After he had dono I Bpoko to him. He know me, as ho had nhvnye done.
" ' Como along with me, Joe,' I said ; ' I'll take you to work at a reef whore there is gold.'
" He looked at mo, nodded, and made ready to start without a word. When first he had gone Billy there was no stopping his tongue, but now ho was quiet, and had barely a word to say. They made no difficulty about putting Joe on at the claim where I was working, and ho earned his wages. He worked juBt as well ao ever he had dono, only he had to be told what to do always,
"Between us wo earned a good bit, and I gave in to Ethel and came to live at the hut, building myaolf a bit of a lean-to against one end of it for a bedroom. The cottago that poor Joe had built had been sold-at least tho timber had. He used to get terribly excited when he was taken near it, bo there could bo no idea of going to livo in it. But you wouldn'c have known the hut. Ethel got mo to fix up first one thing and then another, and she was always busy with odds and ends of little things to ornament it, till it became the prettiest little place in town. We had a China- man to do washing and job about the hut, and Ethel cooked and kept it tidy.
" I don't know that I was rightly comfortable at that time. It seemed as if the hut where Joe and I had sat each on a bunk and smoked was gone, and this was a place where rough men like me had no right to bo. Ethel used to get her father to dress tidy when ho carne home from his work. There was always a big tub of water wann water-and he, being as obedient as a child, would go into his bedroom and wash in it ana then dress in a nico cloan crimean shirt and thin woollen trousers, with a loose coat over all. After supper ho would Bit outside, under the verandah Ethel had mado me put up, and smoke, she sitting by his knee on a little stool. Sometimes he would look at himself, at her, and around him in a strange puzzled way; but for the most part he smoked quietly and without
"Of course I got into the same way. There was a tub of water formo too, and I got into the Wy of tidying up.
'"Took to dressing for dinner, I'll bs blowed
; .! Tfc-, s°y» old man, won't you get me an
*w11 WjS tbe y°u"Ser so» of a lord who said wat, and a dirty, flash, jeering blackguard he 7' /. believe the boys did chaff about us con «MeraWy, but not much in my hearing. I was sore about it, mind you, but I would rather Joe's d°Dei °eainst tho wuola camP than "gainst
"As time went on I took to the quiet life amazingly. Mrs. Slattery came in on some of the evening., and Ethel was always glad to seo J ? ",was wonderful how quiet she seemed to
be and how fond of the girl. Living in this way we epent very little money, and began putting
away savings till it mj£u if weS werPe in| MdTS HPi °Ur nse-that rise which poor Joe
" ; bad bcen expecting to make all our lives.
month WTnfc-0atregula^,RS oould be' montb after wen «tin iUSfc M, We" aB over hp had bceD> and nea_r ],lge-' ¿Vnd yoUDßer lookíüK> thou6h no «me ti "*h\ ??:Dd- Aud when the break w!l. S.AU3t tbe «molest thing. I wasn't
mimT ¿ t EaW ? Iot of Pfl°Ple r"uniDS t° the owe. So I ran too, and the first thing I heard
"'Joe Thompson is killed.'
rick wa r?\Mi_.ed t0 Btrîke me fa!at and tnito_i.fP ?ied.thr?ng,x the cr°*dto reach with ti3 M th_ buekot came o«t of «w shaft
Sa- Tw'ÏT?-^ looked likoP°or Joe's
4^SÄa,dSd?t °u the floor'and 6ure
him' Îl J*-!0?1. íust tbis "tile bit of a stone hit ¿« ^I_îJ,ffdnt faikn far>'e3Îd one o£ tbe hedroPPrifll.t.oomedown and 8tri^iim,and
»<Ti?d £o_ tbe doctor .' I shouted.
«au_v_ï« ' ?i!1; the dootor h very *_".
¡HP Pounngwater over him to sober him.1 W we hÄf d?Ct0/. calno-ifc was the same
" ' Wh,f. Tf°re-1.ookinS very wet and silly.
daioed « w °e aSam-and Joe's mate !' he es.
"SÍ 0BCe enough ?'
t« heai " by him and ielfc bim» aQd «nook
*wA'tîL-__We' d0Ct0rr X Mkedî but h° °*?r to the hut. aD g0t SOme 0f US t0 caMy Joe
^ «ïttopdfAl~Btooa there yery white'
£°=a son? hnd hat Waa wanted- Mrs- Slattery hêr- So it; , ? °Ver and broken the DeT to be^> breathZ drASEed Joe aud laîd bi» «.> b« c« but alr___iB_.tha* 'ou could ¿uafc »akeit w» him a!;V" a corpse- The doctor went 0ut^thene_troVo_í ^^'' Ethel WaítÍD£
Look here, Joe's mate ?; ho Baid ttf;or R , while, speaking very low. . X C!m._ m..ke thia out-at least not to ni- st,v5staction. It doesn.t seem as if there was BUr_c¡cnt cause for the state he u u ; ».__, blo£ wa8 not a bad on but it s touched ,to old trouUCi Hark ye ,, iu a wnisper. H(J miJ, jiv(}j ^ ^e may d-e> bufc ¡_,fl
' -t*lief that ho will live or die sane.'
"l Aro you «ure of it, àoetor V said I, gripping bim tight.
" ' No, I sîn't, but Ï think so.'
" Then fee went ou giving directions what to do, and I «topped tim, asking that he would tell
" ' I 'can't,' he said, looking down ; ' I can't face her, Maybo ycu don't understaud, but she is a lady, and I-I was a gentleman once.' "
" Whkk the doctor left I told Ethel what was to be dono. He came again and again, and ho kept sobar. To bo suro Mrs. Slattery took him in hand, and, being up to all his dodges, when he wanted liquor managed to keep him straight. We waited one day, two days, throo days, and the change came.
"ft was evening. I was sitting outside iu the moonlight ; Ethel was with her father. Suddenly I heard her Btep, and turned round. Sho was standing in the doorway, holding to the side, with big eyes staring. I jumpod up and went to
'"Go-go-in,' she half sobbed ; 'ho is awake, and I frighten him. Go in, aud I will run for
"I ran in. There was Joe, trying to raise himself in his bed, and looking all round as frightened as may bo, but not Billy. I could see at once ho wasn't silly.
"'Is that yon, Bill?" he said, sinking down. ' Thank God 1 I couldn't make out where I was, and there was my dead wife-my dead wife, Bill, as suro as you're alive, standing by the bunk,*
" ' It's all right, Joe,' I said soothingly, not knowing what to say ; ' lie down.'
" He lay still a bit looking round him. 'Where am I, Bill ?' ho aBked. 'I don't know the place.'
" ' You are all right, Joe ; just keep still.1
" ' Oh yes, I'm all right now you are hore, but I was frightened.'
" Then again after another rest.
'. ' I think I remember. I suppose th« horse slung me. Say, pard, you'll have to go to the town without me ; it won't do to riek missing the ship.'
" Thon another quiet spell.
" ' How long have I lain hero ? Perhaps you ought to be gone now. Don't stop for me.' As he Baid this he began raising himself excitedly.
" ' Lie down, Joe. I'll take caro about the ship ; don't you bo afraid.'
" It was getting too much for me, and I was very thankful to hear footsteps. I got up and
went to the door.
" ' Don't go, Bill ; don't go I' ho cried feebly. I was just able to mutter,'He's Bane' as the doctor passed. Joe used to know him.
" ' Ah, they've got you for me, doctor,' ho said feebly. ' I expect I had a big fall.'
" The doctor made him swallow some medi- cine ho had brought, and remained with him a little while. Theu he came out to us.
" ' I have given him a strong sleeping draught,' he said, ' and he is quiet. I'll come again in an hour. Ho is quite Bane, and I think he will get
" The doctor went, and wheu ho was out of sight Ethel throw herself upon mo and began sobbing. I drew her to me, and sho cried on.
" ' Let me cry,' she begged, as I tried to soothe
" After a bit Bhe gathered herself up.
" ' Forgive me, dear uncle,' Bho Baid, her sweet face all lit up through her tears ; ' I won't be so foolish again. But I am so, so happy V
" Joe did not wako that night. When tho doctor came back he found him sleeping, and told me to sit and watch, and not to let him see his daughter wheu first he awoko. The sun was high overhead, and I was Bitting beside him nod- ding with sleep when I noticed bia eyes were
open. He lay very quiet, looking around him, and I spoke, asking if he felt better.
'"Aye, mate,' ho said, 'I am better, much better, and I'm trying to make out how it all happened. But there's the ship, Bill. Won't you make a st.irt now, and let me follow when
I can travel V
" ' You needn't trouble about tho ship, Joe ; sho's como and gone long ago.'
"He turned towards me. " ' And my daughter ?'
" ' She's here, Joe, all right. It's a year and more sinco your horse threw you, and you havo been out of your mind ever since.'
" It didn't Beom to excite him ; ho ju3t lay quietly without speaking.
" ' Then it was not-not her dead mother ! It seems to mo I've been dreaming all the time, mate, and her mother came to me always in my "dreams.'
"I didn't know what to say. Presently he began again :
" '¡Where is she ?'
" '(Hero, father ;' and Ethel paseod me and knolt by the bed. Joo stretched out his arm, and laying his hand on her hoad looked steadily in her face. I got up and wont outside.
"I was frightened, mind you. It was not what! the doctor said should bo done, and vory glad I was to bro him coming again. He listened to what I had to say, and then went boftly to the '.door of the room. In a minuto he came back rubbing his hands.
" '.It's all right, Joo's mate. They didn't see me, but I Baw enough. The man's right. Won- derful cure, ain't it ?' he continued ; and I nodded; 'wonderfully successful cure "due to the skilful treatment of our esteemed fellow citizen, Hugh Mafiddy, Esq., M.R.C.S.,&c, &c.;" that's how to put it, my boy. No it ain't, old mon. Though I'm sober I will bo honest. It isn't my cure at all, and it's a better job in con- sequence. And now, my friend, I'm very thirsty ; don't you think that-eh? I Bhau't have another chanco, for you won't want me any more.'
" I gave him the bottle and a tumbler, and he nearly filled the g;ass. But ho deserved the drink, After he had gone Ethel came out look- ing-I can't say how she looked. And she came up to mc and kissed me in the joy of her heart.
" That afternoon .Too was up and walking round the hut leaning on his daughter's shoulder, and as the sun sank in the west he hat outside, just in the place where he had sat and smoked so many evenings, and his daughter sat again by his knee. A short distance from the place was the stump to which we tied our horoes and near by the Bpot where he had been thrown, that terrible day when our troubles began. Ho kept looking at it and asking about the full.
" ' Don't keep bothering about it, Joe. It's
all over now.'
" ' No it ain't, mate. There's something on my mind I'm bound to remember, and I can't yet. It will come to me.'
" Thon he mado me go over the whole story again, questioning about every little thing that had happened, till I was tired of answering, t At laBt ho straightened up suddenly and put his
hand to his forehead.
" ' I have it, Bill ; at least I think I have.'
" From that he went on to ask me about the claims that had been opened since he could re- member, and where there had been prospecting. I told him all I knew, and as I spoke ho kept on stroking the thick brown hair of his daughter.
" At last she put in a word :
" ' This won't do, papo. You bave had enough talking now with uncle Bill. You shall go to bed, and I will hurry Ah Ching and bring some
nice tea in to you.'
"'All right, my darling,' he Baid, stooping over and kissing her fondly ; ' but I want you to do something for me, Bill. Get me a quiet horse to-morrow, and one for yourself. We have got to take a ride in the morning.'
" I told him I would do nothing of the kind, and that it was only foolishness in him talking of going on horseback so soon. But he insisted on it-begged of me to humour him-but wouldn't tell me why. All I could get from him
" ' So many of the dreams I have boen dreaming, old friend, have come out true that I can't rest till I see whether one moro I haven't told you about yet isn't true also.'
" There was nothing for it but to promise to do as he wanted, and he went to bed."
"In the morning Joe waB quieter in his manner, and seemed quite strong,
" ' I don't think that last little crack did me any harm at al),' ho said. ' It was just a rough woy of putting me straight.'
"Ethel was very pale and anxious-looking. ' You won't go out for that ride to-day, dear papa?' she said,
" ' I must, darling I've got an idea here,' he went on, tapping hiB head, ' that burua like fire Maybo it's only a fancy, but I can'l reat till I have settled it, for the more I think the moro sure I am that it's a memory, and not a dream You say that I was excited and wild looking when I came galloping up that morning? he asked, turning to me
"'That's so, Joe,' I answered
" ' My horse wasn't bolting with mo ?
" ' No, you had it in hand right enough till you began to get down '
" ' Well, then, what w\s I excited abou' S he cried in cn almost angry voice
'"1 c-in't siy, Jot I vo thought you mi^ht have had i touch of the sun-a stroke, you know '
"'Ah! I never thought of that llioy say that people who aro struck have fancies, don t they, Bill' he went on Bidly , 'so _uj be mint's a 1 a fancy too Never mind, I must go and see '
"There was no uaetrjing to Btop him, so I went out to borrow two horses Thoy wtro easy got The boys were all very curious about Joe, and thero was a man getting up au address ind a testimonial to the doctor I don't rtmomber the fellow s mine, but he was going to run for Parliament as the miner's friend, and he was always looking out for a chance of making speeches He would hive boon a big min non, [ reckon, only he died after a great burst at Mick Flaunigin's one time that the barmaid thero got married Any wiy, there was no trouble in feet ting a loan of two horses Joo wauted i ndo, I said, and I was going to look after him
" Ethel looked rather miserablo when she siw the saddled horses, but she tried to he cheerful
'"Cheer up, darling,' her fither said as ho kissed her , ' maybe I m only goiug to got rid of a dre-im But if it ibu t-if it isn't'-md he held her back from him for a while, lool mg at htr sweet troubled face Then he kissed htr again and again, and mounted his horse
" We started off quietly, Joe taking the lead, and for a while he seemtd not vory suie as to the Wiy he was going
" ' Blessed if I m not puzzled,' he Baid , ' they have been cutting down trees and changing tho look of the place
"But he quickly picked up tho trick and went joj,gmg steidily -dong I soon saw that he W18 making for the scrub where ho weut to look for his horse that moruing Ile hid very little to siy as wo Wtut ulong, aud made Btriight for i pocket of the scrub, a bit of ferais lind running into the thick will of trtes 1 hore was a mob of horses there aud he looked at tbeiu
"'Thats just how they were,'he buuI, 'and I swore betiiiBo the maro wasn t amoui, thtui
" Then ho rode out mid along the edge of the scrub some distance till wo carne to another pocket, but with worse griss
"'Thats light,'Joe said, 'I came hero, but thero were no horses, just is thtro mt none now I wonder if thero is the sime trick
' He rode in closo to tho scrub that rose up, trees and bushes all tangled with unis like a green will, and he starched 1 could 6ee ho was terribly excited, and I was gtttiug Uiitasy
" ' By G-d ' he cried, ' bert it ia '
' Suro enough thero was a little opening, just like what a mob of wild cittle or horsts might make tniellnig ni ind out of the otrub, and Joe pui-htd his horío uudti the unes ind into it I followed Po-tuiisU-ly Joe s horse was a steady one ind went slow, for ho wis too cxtitc 1 to piy uiurh httd to tho brauthes that closed over linn Iudttd he wss utarly jerked off the Biddle by a vine which hung low But the old horse went v ry stt ulilj, and, txctpt i fow ttars in bis shirt, thtro w is not much harm
" Aftor going muybo half i mile, I could seo the light thiongh tho trees ihead «o if we wcro coming to an opening in the sei ub, an i I could feel my horse slipping and hoar its hoofs striking on stone underfoot Up to thtn the ground bid been soft and spongy, but wo had comoon to stones, and Boon after we rodo out into a wido opening of the Bcrub, whero nothing but a fow trees were giowiug It wis a terribly loutly place Somo big ymy kangaroos hopped out of
sight, and thero w.ib a great chattering of cockatoos in a clump of tall gum trees.
'"Help ino down, Bill,' said Joe, 'or I'll fall.'
" I was off my saddle and lifting him down in
" ' There's been no one here-eh, Bill ?"
'"No one, I think, Joe; but why havo you brought mo here ?'
" He was gray looking, and his lips were dry, and ho answered feebly and hoarsely :
"'Maybo it was only a dream, Bill, but it looks very real. Tio up the horses and I'll sit down yonder-on that flat stone.'
" I did as he told mo.
" ' That's right, Bill. Now you Beo thero what looks Uko the cup of a reef. Pick up one of the Ioobo stones and chip it.'
" I did so, ho watching mo with stnriug oyes.
" I shook my head.
" ' It's quartz, Joe, and likely looking, but there's nothing in it.'
" ' Try again, Bill-for any Bako try again.'
" I looked at tho reef for a good piuco to chip with the little prospector's pick I carried with me, when my oye fell on a lump that seemed to have rolled off the cap. I put my hand on it and tried to raise it, and was surprised to find it fust. I looked again. It was lying loosely, and did not seem too big a bit to bo lifted, but it was terribly heavy. Then I chipped a corner off, and it was my turn to start.
" ' Great heavens 1' I cried, ' it's half gold.'
" I turned round, and Joo had fallon on his knees with banda clasped.
" ' It's true-my dream is true ; it's my little girl's forluno !'
"That was how Joe Thompson's claim was found," my companion continued, "and you would hardly believe that tho township around you ia built on Iho desolate empty-looking scrub opening Joe and I rode into that day. 'Ibero ÍBn't much of tho scrub loft either, is there?'' he continued, looking around. " Wo all found that where we had been reefing beforo was the wrong place ; it was in the scrub that the richest veins lay. But thoro was no claim so good as ours. No more talk of the ' Jonah crowd' for Joe und me."
" And how about Miss Thompson-the Ethel you have told me about ?"
" Ob, of course she was glad when tho claim was found, and her father took her down south soon after the reef had been fairly opened and wo had made sure that it wasn't all surface-blow. It was a pretty sight when she christened the new machine ; I don't think there was a man on the field who wouldn't bave punched oven his mate's head if he had Bpoken a disrespectful word of her,"
" And after that ?" I peraisted.
" She lived with her father down south lill bIis
" Then sho is married ? Who was the fortu- nate man ?"
"A swell, of course," bo answered, a little roughly. "Joe was bound to see the thing through. But he is a fine fellow, and when I went to sea them this lust trip I found that they hud christened their little boy ' William,' and hia mother told mo that ehe would teach him to call me uncle. But come along. We havo had quito enough yarning, and dinner must be nearly ready. I expect ono or two men in this evening, and maybe we'll havo a quiet game. I have plenty of company sometimes. The married men say tbey like my bachelor's quarters. ' Liberty hall' they call them."
The eccentric Grand Duke Constantine, while residing at Warsaw, gave a splendid banquet to a number of the great Polish nobles, to each of whom, at the conclusion of tho feast, an ordinary tallow candió was Berved on a plate by the attendant lackeys. As soon as all his guests were supplied with theso peculiarly unappetising objecte, the Grand Duke, who had given oiders that an imitation candle, admirably executed in marchpane, should be placed upon his plate, rose from his seat and exclaimed : " Gentlemen, let us eat lo the honour of Russia the favourite national comestible of my country. Look at me. Ibis is the way to do it." So saying he threw back bia head, opened his mouth wide and in- serted therein 2in. or so of the dainty in question. As he closed his teeth, however, the expression of his countenance suffered an extraordinary change. One of the noblemen Bitting in his immediate vicinity had contrived to substitute his own genuine tallow candle for tho marchpane imitation Bet before the Grand Duke, who, not choosing to betray himself to his guests, found himEelf condemned to chew at least one copious mouthful of good Russian tallow as an example to all the victims of his detestable jest, none of
whom, of course, dared to abstain from doing na I
the terrible Constantine did.