Chapter 96945645

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Chapter NumberIII
Chapter TitleThe Rohilla Homestead.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article96945645
Full Date1900-06-07
Page Number3
Corrections0
Word Count1449
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleSouthern Argus (Port Elliot, SA : 1866 - 1954)
Trove TitleLights and Shadows
article text LIGHTS and SHADOWS- V BvKyra Keith, Authoress of'Painsand' ' Penalties,' ** Divided Lives,' etc. All rights reserved by authoress. Continued from our last issue. .;? CHAPTER IJL— ' The Eobilla Homestead.' ' He hath ah excellent goo-1 name.' ' Shakespeare. ./ Mark Halcroft, the owner of Eihilla station, was an old ro'o rs'. Coming to S'Uth Austta lia in the early forties he had taken advantage J of the opportunities then afforded to secure a very large tract of country in the south-east, - turning the same to splendid account as a sheep run, good seasons and an abundant rainfall combined with excellent judgment and business tj.ct sueedilv raakine a rich man of 5 him. Rohiila homestead and station ware . known far and wide, being objects of interest : to strangers as well as of pride to all south easterners. Beautiful house and grounds, lavish hospitality, genial disposition, and perfect integrity, had mads Mr. Halcroft one of the must popular men of th* district ; uot a tramp ot a sundowner but kueiv it was to his advantage to make straight tracks 'for Bjhilla, and to their credit, be it saiJ, they rarely failed to avail themselves of their opportuities. The home station, built of iis^Ut freestone, stood upoa a slight rise, which dipped gently upon two sides to a fair-sizsd babbling creek, which, however, when heavily swollen by winter rains no longer babbled . tuti foamed and ioaretl, and might h-ive been excused for thinki g itself a ' young river ;' but summer suns dallied idly with its waters and seduced them from their allegiance 10 float iu vapoury clouds arross at) intense]}' blue sky, then, will? reduced proportions, which made its sometime channel seem sadly out of size to its present requirements, it murmured alon^ over the round pebbles of its sandy bed, sadly com plaining ol the perfidy which had robbed h of so much of its former consequence, but it was far more fascinating as 3 silver-thread-like stream lhan when it rolled along a muddy turbid river. Every advantage had been taken of the natural beauties afforded by the position of ihe house, and lovely well-kept grounds sloped away on every side, while a plentiful supply of water wisely conserved for summer use kept the gardens fresh and green as though vernal SDrin? reined alwavs there. English trees and thrubs flourished in the rich soil and moist atmosphere, a splendid avenue of lime trees bearing witness to the fact that South Australia's blue and sunny skies suited them admirably though aliens by nature. This avenue formed the front entrancs, while on the right hand side ran a wide lane leading by circuitous route to the main road. This lane, known as the ' Hawthorn drive '* to all dwellers upon the station, derived its name from the fact that it was hemmed in by a high and well-clipped hawthorn hedge, beautifully sweet with white spicy scented blossoms in October, and gay with bright-red berries when the autumn days were bleak and cold. A rustic gate, flanked by two enormous poplar trees, regularfveterans of their tribe, formed the outlet from the lane to the road, and, indeed, was the favorite entrance with the Rohiila people and their more intimate friends. The house itself was large and roomy, two storied and far above the requirements of the family, which was small, consisting mciely of Mr. and Mrs. Halcroft, their two daughters, and adopted nephew, the irrepressible Tommy. The morning succeeding to the afternoon upoa which we mads the acquaintanre of the twin sisters was bright, sunshiny, warm, and ' pleasant, as days in December are wont to be ; the family were at breakfast in a cheerful morning room whose French windows were thrown wide open to the southern verandah of the house, letting in the sweet srents and sounds from the garden beyond. Mr. Halcroft had disposed of his porridge, done due justice to a juicy steak, and was contentedly tapping an egg when Tommy saunteicd into the room, his hat on ins head, his hands in his pockets, and his mouth puckered up as he whistle J a lively refrain. Flinging his hataith unerring aim ontu couch at the other side of the room he took his place at the table with a nonchalant no j and a careless ' Good morning all,' and without further ado i»o cecded to help himself to the dainty handiest to his place. Myra glanced at Monica with an expression of disgust, while her mother murmured a little admonitory, 'Oh, Tommy, my dear,' and Mr. Halcrofl ralmiy su-vcyed him out of a pair of twinkling grey eyes as he remarked : ' Your manners improve my boy ; soon you will be able to graduate in the school of politeness.'1 ' What have I done now, sir?' exclaimed Tommy, his mouth already full. ' The laws of omission a= well as commis sion have been outraged, I take it,' said Myra. ' Oh, shut up, Myra, do, you are always so fas:- — let ai'ellow alone, can't you, we have enough bossinglround at school Lame believe that ' be it never so 'umble there's no place like 'ome.' ' Mr. Halcroft laughed, but not a muscle of Myra's face moved. 'The sentiment is alright, my !ad,' he said, ' but you must learn to behave yourself if you wish to find ' there's no place like home.* I certainly think I shall have to vote Mr. Wilber twopence a week extra to taa-.1i you manners. Now what are you going to do with yourself all these long holidays ?'' ' Do with myself, uncle ? Oh. crikey Moses, but I'll find pienty to do, I'm oaly afraid a month will never be long- enough to do all I've planned. I'll — let rae see J Ves, first of all I'll ride old Smoker round for an hour or two — £' Poor old Smoker,' murmured Myra sotlo voce) — then I'll go crayfishing for ? a bit — is the lamb's tailing all done, uncle ?' . ' Yes, my boy, long ago.' ' Ah ! I'm sorry for that, I do. like to see the little wretches-na\*ing their tails snipped off. Well, 1 will get Bill Smith to lake me out kangarooing once or twice, and, perhaps, get a shot or two at a wallaby, and I'll dig out rabbit burrows for you uncle, and bring up scores of pretty little bunnies for Monica to feed that snow white pussy on.' Then milt ? a satisfied smirk and grin he continued, *' Til hunt hares and shoot parrots, and get ? spoggies heads and eggs, and — ' ' And, in short, kill and terrify everything that comes in your path,' said . Myrz scorn fully.' ' I was going to add — and make a soft sweet necklace for Cousin Myra out of all the tadpoles and baby frogs I can lay hands on, and to finish up with I'Jl feed Monica's can aries, and ride her bicycle when it needs - airinpf.' 'No you won't— neither ths one nor the other,' said Moiiici in a quiet firm voice. '^Short, sharp, shiny as ever Monica, my dear.' . ' Tommy, don't be rude.' ' Is that rude, aunt ? Fra very sorry, but I didn't kno-.v. I'll turn over a new leaf now at once if you will give me a new knife — it's no earthly use a boy having holidays without a pocket knife, is it ?' plaintively. ' What have you done with the last one I gave you?'' said his uncle. . ' Lost it, sir.' '' AVell, come to the office when you have fin ished your breakfast and I'll see if I can find enough shillings to buy another,' said Mr. Halcroft rising and leaving the room. ' Thanks, much, uncle, you are a regulnr brick an I woi tli both the ' twinnies ' pu-- to gether.' 'Aud you are an awful boy, and wiil nost certainly come to a bad end,' exclaimed Myra indignantly. *' II you are to be taken a- a specimen of ' the young Australia ' of to-day, I pity my native country from the Cottom of ? my heart.' ''Toere are worse even than me,' quoth the irres -ressible one.' ' Oh, there are ? Well Td like to sje one.'. ' Would you realty, though r GooJ luck, then I'll ask young Teddy Parsons to spend ? ilie holidays with me ; by jove, hell open your eyes and no mistake, you won't call me Sail any more.' To he continued.