Chapter 148380268

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Chapter NumberVII
Chapter TitleBILLING AND COOING.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article148380268
Full Date1893-10-07
Page Number2
Corrections0
Word Count2466
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleEastern Districts Chronicle (York, WA : 1877 - 1927)
Trove TitleMaoriland Ho! Nature's Enchanting Wonder Isle. A Weird and Entrancing Romance
article text

CHAPTER VII.

BILLING AND COOING.

Swiftly indeed pans the days at Fine* falW. Spito of tho Maori with his necro mancy, and the Bport on the liillo, the turtle doves find ample time to " bill and

coo."

" Do you sing, Mr Vane ?" asked Grace, turning from the piano one even* injr. "Forgive me, but lorn sure you j can."

Ho shook his head,

"It is wrong to contradict a lady," Raid lio, smiling, " so I will aay that it is BO long since I have that it would be folly to coinmonoe again."

" No! no I wo must disagree on that point," tslio exclaimed, gaily, " If it is long sinco then the songa you know must be old ones, and they aro ever the bcBt. Tlioro is a book of Auntie's somewhere, iu which there are several gentlemen's BOIIC«. I will find it."

" I pray you will not take the trouble." " Sue will not think it so," replied Mnjnr Woldon, looking up over his magazine. " Music is her passion. To have other* liere who can »ing it» down

right treat,"

Of which," Edld Urice, merrily,

bringing the bouk to tlifftable, "Mr Vane is far too generous t{ -deprive me. Here is one- papa's fnvoiiri a-and I am euro you l;now it. Auntie always says everyone dops."

She had opened the volur le, and now painted to the tide, " Whoi other lips."

Vane's countenance, as li i read it, bo csmo troubled ; he stepped quickly, like one experiencing a Buddeu pn in.

"Yes," he said, " I kndw it, Miss Weldon, but I cnuld not eitic it. It-it produces no pleneurnblo tnomory, for he

whom 1 heard sing it lastis jload." His voice dropped low. Grncu'o fajce changed ; her gsntle eyes, full of sympathy, weru raised to his na she murmured inaudihly to all hut him,

"Oh! forgivo me. I ntn so sorry I IIAVO niad«you Buner.!*' 'j

Temple pnzed down into thfe face so ox prcssivo of regretful contrition, and ti quiver ran through his frame," «trongman as hn was ; lor a moment ho felt wonlt ns n child. IIo was angry with himself for clouding her gontlo features! ovon for a second, and eager so atone, exclaimed,

" But you iiny lia*-o uuotlier hero more fortunate. If yoi. »tjld roklly like I

will see."

She looked ntl'".-in B|>«k«..hor grati tude, and tho ' side by^ide, their heads together ( over 'the tnusic, began to turn tK>- kjvos.

Fcnfon, let' »?:. hy tho window, saw tho picture mode-tho (all, broad shouldurcd, rco-Mown brardud mall-the

flight, graceful, bright girl-and glanced towards Major Weldnn.

At that vi-ry instant the latter, lifting his eyes, rested tlicm upon iho pair.

Fontou Fccmci to draw hia breath hard in suspense.

Did the idea occur lo his host which

had occurred to him ? If BO it produced a different effect. Major Weldon smiled, certainly not with dissatisfaction, and re sumed his reading.

They nil like him. Ho wins upon every one, child and mnn ; ivh.it wonder -and jet-oh !" with petulant distress, "that wretched secret! why cannot I forget it? Why did lever know it? Why is tho onus of it put upon mv Blioul ders V" Still," lie added, '' is -Vane tho dishonourable man to obtain a young girl's

love witlioutcoufessiou ? If ho bo

then surely the reasons which tionr huld my lips muto would bo removed."

He had sauntered 011 to the verandah, and now paused. The song had been found ; in a rich, cW baritone. Vane was singing "The Admiral."

As Temple ended there came up from the direction of tho shrubbery three sharp, quick crics, like those of some night bird.

What bird is that. Miss Weldon?" he nsked, as ahe nnd her partner joined

liiin.

111 did Dot hear it," she answered, lioing too busy in asking Mr Vano how ho ever had the courage to convict liimsaif of falsehood by saying be could nut sing, but hark!" she added, raising her hand, " there it is again."

Three times the cry rose quick and sharp.

"1 do not know at nil," slio replied. "I do not think 1 bave heard it before. Perhaps it is some night bird who keeps more to the wood'd gorges of tin hills. Will it come again?'*

"Let us go »little nearer," aaidFenton

Howe.

Tlicy stepped down into the gwden, and moved noiselessly along (he path not to utinle tho bird-if bird it was. ;

.* If there were bushrangers near!" said Grace, "we mi;;ht think it tlivin. \ bear they sometimes use birds' cries A3 sig

nals."

And are there not ?" Vane naked.

No," shaking her head. "^Vliile the goldlields yonder (t xti ndinj her hand) are so prolitic, tliey find looauucli work to do." [

" They do not trouble you, then said

Fcntun.

" Only in occasionally bringing' very

rough-looking characters past the action 011 their way to lliem ; and as iheyjiake care to time their arrival about suud^wu, as a matter of Course, they beg a MlJ'per mid n night'ii shelter." 1

Which is >iven them?"

Of coursi'," ansv.'«rod Grace, simply. " How could it be r fuBed, ulien to <j<j so would compel their sleeping out ill tti-j

biiBh."

They had leached tho shriibbpry by (his tiuii', and Advanced H fow yards iitoiig one of (lie p.iths. While doing so (here was a slight rustle among the burhea,

then silence.

" It was a bird!'' exclaimed Gr.ico. Did you not hear it ? We have startled it away."

As they returned to the house they looked up to olio uf tho first floor win dows, where burned a faint light. It was partly open, for the night was hoi and heavy with the storm which had uk yet broken. [

Behind tho muslin curtains lay poor Nita, unconscious of all about her. iThat day, however, she had boon better, nnd they hud hopes that the doctor wolild on the morrow speak favorably.

Vane turned and looked nt hia partner,

who at that moment also t urned to enter

the sitting room: for the two had shipped awhile on the verandah to speak ol Nitu, letting Grace Weldon pneedo theiu into Clie parlor. The light Irom tho lamp shone on the young fellow's faco, auda suspicion oi the truth Stalled upon his friend. For a second a blighter ex pression came over his own features, then gave place to one hard and scornfnl, as if tho thought which had caused the former had been ruthlessly, sternly crushed out.

"Madman! idiot!" he muttered, be tween his teeth, following Fenton.

As they entered Madam Elsie appeared, coining from her duty as nurse.

" How is sho now, Auntie ?" inquired Gra;e, anxiously.

.' I am sure, on the whole, better," re plied Madam lilaio. "She was sleeping, it almost seemed calmly, until a few min utes ago, when sho became restless, nnd etarteu up in her bed wild and seared. It was with some difficulty I could soothe her to lie down ; all tho while, Vwlov) her breath, she kept whispering with troubled brow, " but I inust! You do not kuoiv. I must."

" Poor child ; when delirium possesses us we are helpless," said Major Wel

don.

" It wns I who sang last," put tu Tem ple Vane. "Perhnps I disturbed her.1'

Grace looked round with . a bright' smile. _ In her opinion such a thing was impossible. Madam Elsie, however, bo

came refleotive.

" I cannot tell, yet I soaroely think so. 1 It readied her room but fuintlr; still, MOW I remember, sho did sHy somothitig like ' you hear,' and inclined her head, listening. ..

« We will not sing again until la'or on," said Graoo, decisively.

" Now it is you who are, generous," whispered Vane, with a anile, " for it

will be a great-deprivation."'-}

"Yes," she smiled, In retpanse, " since I have discovered you can siJif."

" Good fneiom I v)t«t iilfct t"

A Midden yell lent tho air, followed by

quick, heavy footsteps tidvaiicino along J

tho vurandali. All atattod to their leet, but before they could do mora thero divml in amongst them the gaunt form uf Te limign, the Maori.

" You confounded ape, nliat is the matter ?" cries tho major, at tlio uainc time grnspini: the culprit, iiud shnUiirr liiui soundly. " Speak, sir !"

" Ugh I" cried ilio Maori; *' bush rangers."

" lluslirfltigora I" ocliocd never,il uf the

company.

" Yes, biislir,iiicers," repeated To Bnnpa. " They are coming hern. J raw ? hem by tlie stockyard j a fl<or mora. Ki Kauri. They aro all armed, and mil aUjx-Iy kill us-every man ot" ua. 1 have Biirncen."'

" A party of dippers, mora likely,"' u.iid the major, iookirii; at hi:; daughter.

" With your permit,iw.i 1 v.il! <;» nml ascertain, sir," crica Vane, lakiii" lipids

hat.

*' Kay, lli.i ilc ymi ; I iriil nvivif, but you may accompany 1110 if you will," answers the major.

" Why not all 'r'o ?" says Gr.icc.

.' Very troll. J don't believe a word of I what this idiot lias said. XI> bushranger dure show bis face at Pinefalla. Come along."

T!.o whole party wont out il«n<* tlift vcraudali, mid descending to tlie bread gravel walk beneath, betouk (liuni::>lvo» to the oilier aide ot the ;;a:de». Kerr tlisy wero stun led to lind a body of men drawn up two deep, and in uniform.

" Is this Pinef,tils Station?" cried a voice from iho other side of the force.

" Yes ; this is Pinefalls," replied the major.

" Thank you. Would it ba asking too much to boj» Major Weldon lo it.p ibis way. I have a message for Iiitn," said the speaker.

"lam tlio very personage, cir," cries the waster of l'inefalls in a friendly tone. " Wlioui Jiavo X tho honor of address ing J"

" Lieutenant West, of Pitts' Hangers, at your service," responds the voice. " I have a letter for you, sir, from our cotn uiaudcr, Colonel Put."

"CJIad to hear it. Step tlii3 way. How many men have you with you, Sir

West V

A dozen, raid; and file, sir," answers the other :is liu joins the major, who, leaving the rest of his companions to follow at their leisure, leads the way to

the house.

In a very short time tlie rank and file are dismissed to find quarters nniimi; tho si'ivaii.s, while the young oUieer is brought into the well-lit drawni;:room, and presented ia due form to the family

and visitors.

Lieutenant Harry West h a tall, dark, liai'dnoiuc man-liie very bean ideal of a soldier, lie lias an eaoy (low of small talk, can eiii;; and p'.ay, mid tell most tvoiideifiil aino'doles aileni, himself. l'\n the. moEt p*rt lie la as vain v' bis good looks as a Sunday cchuol miss-lias an idei l!iat. every l.ulv who li»n|,;, upmi him must coue-pienily fail in l.ivc with liim ; otherwise, tins youthful eon of Mara is a

j capital follow in his way. He i., good ' with the gloves. ean wres'le, play sini;le

Ktick, a very dab at farce, and a ciack

allot.

Pitts' Uairjer3 are a splendid body ot men-half lijldier and iialf police-tlie force numbering about et^lit hundred, and having their he.;d-rjuartcr3 at Ilaveloek. They were lai.-.ed by Uol.inel Jaek i'ltt, a leading colonist (formerly of the Till Hussars) during tlie late Maori War, and iiavo been retained by tlie Uovernmoiit, for Venice in I ho inferior of the country. Many a poor senior lias bad cause to bless I'll ta' Hangers. They are tile men who havo put down Mauri filibustering, and exeeiited summary Ven geance on iho numer'.u.-i bands of rebelo who yet proivl'd almui, in i.liu outlyiu:; districts, murdering the palieha's ana desirojin^ their property.

"31y nM comrade-in-arms, C>jIonel Pitt, lias done me (he honor 10 hiilet ins men at l'mrf.ills forafe.v days," mya the major, e.ftor perusing ilio l':LUI' handed to liiin by tiie youny oils .-nr.

Ot course I am <ntire!y ignorant <?! youriuissioii ill tliis part of the country," turning to his ^ue-i. " ISut von ami your men aro li avuly w.-lcome, sir, :.;m 1 only hi'pe the few days in ay bo so many we :l.8, Hone tlie l 'sV

" I am almost in total oh?car!ly wiili re;:pect to our miasi in," responds Wei.t, turning from Grace U'eldon, in vlioin iu has been talking. " I receiv.d or'.er.i to

to Pinefalls. and t.horc iiu .iit ?'' r tlier iiiatrucuous, but what the aaid in firuetiona aro 1 have not tlie faintest idea, liy tho way, ia tlioro not a goldtield 111 the <-i«:iiiity V"

.' Yes ; the Titori Valley is but three days' journey from here," reqijuda the major.

"That explains it," nays West. " V,re are booked tor the gold escort."

The conversation b'coiues g.'neral. The visitor discovers an old ,v'<(iiaiiiunco iu Major Woldon'c daughter. They have met beforo, olicu in Ailekland, and ajain at a ball in the city of Wellington.

The lieutenant has ilial kind of cosmo politan tmnpcraiiient which soon makes linn a cluraiiti with all urea.'iit.

Even Temple Vane, whoso lirst iin pieseioii of the mini is dislike, thawu a iittluoutof his usual r.ceiee, and be cunies trieudly.

Supper is .iiinouueed. An oltl fashioned meal, which knits dm quests iu closer UrulicrUood tu tlieir huit.

Music after supper. Nothing on earth is bu favorablu to digestion ua yood

music,

TIioto was a full vaeon in I lie sky, svbieli ttniisfiJvms black night inlo cliarmiii" ttvilylil

The ltdics liavo left the ^'eutlemeii to talk over their nine, but nl tlio sound of the pUnothey (thu piuilouieii) leave the table fM ivoJar, and gather on the veran dah tomnUhe open foldiuj; duura leudin" into tho niisie loom. °

Mrs We^un is sinking. Hails 1

" Lot niejfee! your hand in initio,

Gratelil, tender, soft, mid warm ; Xot. tlie sae those blue eves shi 'io ;

Let iitoblasp thy Kirli. |i (1)rm|

And tho Arcs that /ill my breiiht,

Luiuly.Viuldeiied, and dinUesued, Will, like Weepy bird« at even',

cmk tu rett.

Lot mo fcolyour hand in mine,

Iseatlinj* j.lio a frightened dovo; Like n henijin divine,

Klutteritiijdownwiijd from nbuve. By thy toucll 1 mrely know

if you luvt|in0 well, nitd so

I shall see y<»*r iheelts warm blushes

"fiohtlyylow."

Appln"fiu fi'oi tho parly iu tho veran dah, ftud a sltul- uf protest from llie Indies, who, poolthniits, laboured uii i'.: tho impreBBioii tUittJu-y weroijuile njoni'. They uro liot wiUjlied, however, until Mr West took Mrs Yoldon's pluce at the iu .truusnt,-lo o) Oomu<u«d( Uli C