|Chapter Title||TAKING THE ODD TRICK.|
|Newspaper Title||The Port Augusta Dispatch, Newcastle and Flinders Chronicle (SA : 1885 - 1916)|
|Trove Title||Benbonuna: A Tale of Thirty Years Ago|
A TALK OP THIRTY YEAB8 AGO.
\AU right* reserved by the author.] - CttAPTEB Vni. TAKING THE ODD THICK.
Br ROBBRT BBUCE.
When Frank quitted Mr Aehby's room he expected to see nod speak to Miss Ashby i again, • but Hawley chose the shortest way—the back way—and be had to oonteot himself with a 'view of Mr* Schlioke and old Ura Blowhard, who both grinned graciously in answer to bis friendly " good morning." How hot it was! He might have fancied himself in a furnace, the hot wind seeming almost to take his breath fcway; it parched his throat and nostrils to the condition' of hotair fines, whilst the son scorched any exposed... pkjp Jike the focussed jays of a burnmg'glRW, till a copiouBperspiration— the result of a few yards, walk—came to his relief; Not a vestige of clond was to be seen, and the little plain glowed with an intensity of. light that w^s painful in the extreme. But neUHei beatnor light appeared: to inconvenience Hawley as he marched across to the horse yard, followed by Frank, who was actually thirsty before they reeohed it One thing was soon apparent, and thst was that Peter bad come in with:the other -horses; for there was the pack showing op above their backs, and Frank indulged a hope that his own horse might have joined the mob—a hope which ' a "closer inspection dispelled. There, however, was Peter, but 'minus bia bridle, which be had rubbed off during the night;' the ' pack certainly., retained its position, hot the jags strapped to it were torn .in divers places from .contact with sharp pointed sticks and covered with dust and broken herbage accumulated duringseveral desperate attempts made by Peter to enjoy a comfortable roll. As to the canteen and quart pots hung at the sides of the pick, they had been flattened during these attempts into the most convenient shape for paoking in cracks. 4 1 There's a pretty mess, ain't it ?" asked Hawley in a most aggrieved tone of voice, " Tea it is % bit of • meis certainly," replied Frank, "but I will pay for any damupMptae.'!. "Fay for any damage done I If you pay for all the damage yon are likely to do you'll soon be abort of cash," sneered Hawley in his most aggravating manner. 1 1 Well, 1 suppose that will not concern Jron," said Frank quietly. " Not concern me 1 I have to keep the fetation in gear, and when anything is smashed np by useless fellows like you, there is no shop open next door to run to for repairs." " When I do anything wrong it will be your place to tell me of it in a proper manner. I'd advise you to remember the latter fact," replied Heslop, subduing his indignation by a great effort, but with fire kindling in his eye; for it was only hie determination to stay on the station for the sake of Miss ABhby and her father that prevented him from attempting to give a practical ch^ck to Hawley's impertinence. <> " If you make such messes as that, you ean't expect a man to choose his language ; before you have been in the bosh long you will find out your mistake," said Hawley arrogantly. " You have said quite enough, Mr Hawley ; and now if you will show mo what horse to take and find a saddle and bridle for me, I shall be obliged," returned Frank with quiet dignity. Hawley got through the rails into the yard, and before replying looked through the horses critically, as if to determine which would best suit the occssion. Then singling out a great, strapping bay borse with jet black points and a large star in Ids forehead, be said, "You can take the 4 Odd Trick* there—he will just suit you,"
be added, with one of those crow-like glances peculiar to him, and portending malicious mischief to the person regarded. 4 1 Thanks," said Frank, shortly, "and how about the saddle and bridle?" " We'll get something at the but, and as I expect you'll want your rug, I'll bring Peter along and take off the pack," saying which HaWley took out bis pocket handkerchief, tied it round Peter's neck, and led the packhorse towards Bachelor's Hall, where stood MoseB, with his hands aud mouth full of provender, which circumstance did not, however, prevent him "yinff, 4 Me no see -em Peter's bridle." 4 So I see," said Hawley, as be fastened Peter to the hone-rail by the rope fixed there for the purpose. 4 4 No see 'em 'nother one?" inquired Hawley, as he removed the damaged articles from the pack. 4 No, 'fflri no see 'em nother one. Him no come np 'long Peter, him walk away, I think." 4 1 Of course ho has," aqniesced the overseer. .. Then to Heslop, 1 Here are your 4 traps, yon had better put tbem inside." "Shore an' I'll take 'em, Misther Heslop," said Mick, coming up and gathering the articles from the ground, where Hawley had carelessly tossed them. •• They'll need a bit ov a damn', an' I'll do 'em whin I'm doin' Mr Hawley's," he concluded as he deposited the kit in the versndab, and received a scowl from the overseer in acknowledgment, who inquired of Moses if be knew where 41 Jackey's" saddle and bridle were. 4 Him no goode that e one 1 What for you want em ?" asked MoseB with a comical grin. 4 Oh! they're good enough !—where are they?" said Hawley going back to plain English and speaking sharply. 4 Him long o 'tore. Him all about broken. What for you want 'em ?" asked Moses perseveringly. 41
Want 'em for whitefeliow. He's going to ride the Odd Trick," answered the overseer, as he departed to the rude store at the back of the hut, to get " Jackey'e" saddle and bridle. "Yon can't ridem Odd Trick," cried Moses with an incredulous laugh to Frank. 4 Why can't I, MoseB?" 4 1 Him too much buck, all about. Him plenty kill 'em you. Me can't ride that e one," replied Moses laying particular empbssie on 44 me," fully conveying biB own idea, that if he could not ride the Odd Trick, Frank had not the ghoBt of a show to sit him. " This is pleasant," said Heslop laughing, as he looked after Hawley. " As he could not lose me, it seems as if he wanted to sbufie me out of the way through the agency of the Odd Trick." 4 1 Deed, an' it do, Sorr" affirmed Mick 4 seriously. Can you fide at all, Misther Heslop?" 4 4 1 have ridden ever since I was a boy, and in England waB considered a pretty fair horseman. But is thiB hone as bad as Moses makes him out to be ?" 4 1 Deed an* be is, Sorr. A rale onld warregal; an' I'd see Mr Hawley's nick as long as an amew's before I'd crass him. Just ask himself to get on him firsbt—to ebow he's quiet," said Mick savagely. 4 Yes," chimed in Moses with a 4 chuckle. 1 You plenty tellem that, Ah I ah I ab I Very goode like a that!" Mick began energetically to dnst the nigs just then, for Hawley, carrying the (tattered remains of a saddle,was approaching. u you will have to make this do,"he ,Mid 'blandly, as with a self-satisfied air the bong ".JackeyV saddle on the horse *rail. " 1ft » & knocked about, bat it is 'til Tight"
So it might be, as a curious relic of the past; but for present Bervice—well, the gullet plate was broken, there was a rent in the leather right across the seat; one flap, wrinkled and warped by heat and diBuse, hung helplessly by a large tack, driven in just above the site of a missing kpee pad; the stuffing protruded in enndiy places from the pads, like the heir •of a street Arab from bis crownless hat; the girth Btraps were either , entirely missing or were broken off to various lengths; and the single, ptriped-web girth 1 was frayed .almost half across, a few inches below the buckle. In fact, this waB the contrivance on which Moses' aboriginal predecessor bad hunted up the station horaeB, till, disgusted at not getting a better one, he had decamped in the night, and bad since fought shy of Benbonuna. Though justly disgusted, 3Trank could not help examining the dust-begrimed rnin with amused curiosity. After a short inspection he said, " Unless I get a quiet borse I certainly shall not trust my life totliat thing." " Oh, the Odd Trick, is quiet enough, though perhaps you're afraid to ride a strange horse. You can easily patch up the saddle a bit though ; and at any rate • I shall expect you to find the horse," said Hawley, who now, bridle in hand, directed Moses to get his bridle and follow to the yard. 4 1 The murtherin blagyard," muttered Mick between bis teeth, whilst Heslop did notcondescend togive any reply,but looked after his enemy with an expression of mingled contempt and dislike. Mick was 4 the first to break the silence with, Is ye
determined to ride that ould varmint, sorr ?" 4 1 1 shall certainly try to," replied Frank resolutely. " Thin I'll lind ye a saddle and thrApB ye kin depind on. I've only just thought on^em I" "Can you though, Mick? Well, yon are a good fellow," cried Heslop gratefully. "Shure an' I kin 1 so jiet be aftber comin into the kitchen and have a dhrink of tay, while I musther up 44 Buckin' Bill's" thraps, as he lift wid me to kape fur him, list any one shud use 'em, said Mick naively. 4 Perhaps he would not like me to have tbem In that case." " Never ye-fear, Mr Heslop, I'll lind .tbem to ye, replied Mick with the air of a proprietor. " An' while I'm mustherio' :'em up, I'll be after puttin' ye up to a wrinkle or two, for 'tis meself knows every move ov the Odd Thrick." 4 Thanks, Mick. I shall be glad of the tea and of any advice you can give me," said Heslop, following the warm hearted Irishman into the kitchen, where a panniean full of treacley-looking fluid was poured out for bis delectation from a large kettle standing on the fire place. Mick took down a well greased saddle, bridle, martingale, and green hide surcingle from the top of the partition which separated the kitchen from his dormitory, saying as he did so, " Av ye can shtick at all, ye can to this I an the sorra a shtrap '11 break." Now, it's meself that knows the Odd Thrick out an' out; and whin ye goes to ketch him, jiet be afther pickin' up a bit ov a shtone ; and whin ye shy it at him si:>g out, "Come up, will ye," an thin he'll jist lit a snort oat of him like a statue injin, an' come ethrate at ye, as if be mint to ate ye; but jist sthand up to him an' hould the bridle out, an' he'll put hip nut in id aB nate as ye plase. Only don't ye flinch, or maybe he'll jist jump past an' give ye the makins' ovgluel" " He's not bard to catch, then ?" " Ob, he's aey enough to ketch ; 'tis pbwat he does whin he is ketched!" replied Mick by way of encouragement. 4 But whet does he do ?" " Phwat doesn't he do?*' replied Mick, significantly. " See now, ye jiet take the saddle wid ye to the yard, an' put it on him there, dthraw up the girth gintly, as tight as he'll lit ye. Thin shove on the
encingle, an' paBB the sthrap through the rings, this, way" (showing bow it was to be done ss he spoke) an' thin make id fast to the top one wid two notches—BO ! Only don t ye jerk id, or maybe he'll put hie fut in yeB • fob'." " Oh ! I'll look out." 4 Thin, whin ya've got him fixed up, jist dhrop the rein suddent like, an give him a dab in the provision store wid the ropin* shtick—an' thin, be the powers, ye'll see him go to markit," said Mick, adding significantly, 41 The top rail is the mosht convanient place to see him doin' it from," 4 But won't that make him savage ?" 4 1 Savidge is id ? Id'll knock a hape ov the stnme out ov him. An' thin av ye lade him down maybe he mightn't turn himsilf quite inBide out. Bud see now, av he waDts to shtop too quick, ye might divart him in the ribB agin wid the shtick. He can't divart himself too much before ye gits on him." " I understand you Mick, and I'll do BB you tell me." . " Off ye go thin, eorr, bud jist lave me yer coat and I'll rowl up a nate little " kid" as a stidiment in case he do go in a kuocker wid ye!" Heslop wiped the streaming perspiration from his face,and saddle in hand took biB way to the yard—to find only the Odd Trick there; for Hawley and Moses— now saddling up at the horse rail—had Jet the other horses out, having caught the two they required ; BO Frank had a clear field for his operations. AB for the Odd Trick, when he saw Frank approaching be began moving restleBBly about in the yard like a wild animal in a r-age, but it was only when a stone was thrown at him, that it became apparent what a splendid horse be was. With his tail thrown well out from his haunches, his crest up, his ears thrust straight forward, hia round prominent eyes gleaming from under his crisp wiry forelock, and his
nostrils distended he charged straight up to Frank as if he really meant to trample him down ; but Frank stood his ground firmly, holding out the bridle at the same time, and into it, with a savage snort as loud and resonant as if it he had been emitted by a steam cowl, the Odd Trick put his head ; the bit rattled between his parted teeth, and be was secured. Frank felt that he had embarked on an enterprise which would require all his courage and BtreBgth to carry successfully through, but though he did not feel too confident, be had no idea ef showing the white feather; so, carefully following the directions Mick had given him, he soon bad the saddle gear securely fixed, though the Odd Trick gave sundry grunts and made several quick forward movements of the back whilst the girths were being tightened. WaB be really Bucb a brute as be had been represented ? Frank began to doubt it, and to tbink that it was a case of 44 give a dog a bad name, &c,;" but all doubts about the matter were soon set at rest, for as he was patting and making much of the borse, a large fragment of newspaper was driven by the wind against his bind quarters. Then in an instant the Old Trick dashed down his head, gathered himself together, and, nearly knocking Frank down, commenced to buck wildly round the yard, while Frank quickly found himself occupying the post of observation recommended by Mick—one of the lop rails of tbe yard. He had barely established himself on thiB elevated perch before a rushing sound of wings and a peal of boisterous lighter close behind him, made him fancy the spirit of mischief bad just arrived by aerial express, and gave him such a start tbst be almost descended bead first to the ground. But before there was time to speculate as to
ho or what the new-comer might be, it it on the rail beside him, and proceeded o urge the borse to greater exertions by alling out " Wire in, J«ckey ! Wire in I ire in, you old Warregal!" Then it ran ackwards and forwards in the most xcited manner, and laughed with tbe xuberant abandon of a full house at a antomime first night Then, imitating Hawley's voice, it yelled with great everity, 44 Woa, you brute 1 Woa, will you P relapsing immediately into another paroxysm of guffawing so violent that Frank was afraid it would choke itBelf. It was merely Mary Ashby's white cockatoo which took great interest in anything going on about the station, but in colt breaking more particularly ; and now, with yellow crest erect and fiuttsring wings it was in an ecstacy of delight at the Odd Trick's antics. 4 Who ar*» you, I'd like to know ? queried tbe greatly amused Heslop of tbe enthusiastic spectator; but the bird, which at other times would have promptly given its name, wus too deeply interested in the display of equine gymnastics to heed anything rise, and went on with its exclamations and laughter with unnabated vigour. " Halloo Cockey, you old scamp, that fetches yon, doesn't it ?" cried a man who had just arrived at tbe yard with some draught horses, and was now enjoy 4 ing the fun. 1 Ain't he a nut, mate ?" he concluded witb disagreeable familiarity to Heslop. " So it seems," replied Frank distantly, for the word " mate" grated harshly on his sensitive British ear, especially when uttered by such a vulgar looking fellow
ae Jack Jones, the liorsedriver, with whom, though far from being snobbish, be was not at all inclined to fraternise. Presently the Odd Trick, finding he could not buret tbe girths, began to relax bis exertions; whereupon Frank got down from the rail and 44 divarted him"—as directed by Mick—with the result that the horse continued hiB buck jumping, much to the • elight of Jones and the cockatoo, till covered with sweat, he came to the conclusion that enough was as good as a feast and would buck no more. 4 4 That ought to quieten him a bit!" said Frank—forgetting hia momentary annoyance—aa be led tbe horae through the elip-panet, the rails of which Jonea had thrown down for him. 1 4 Wait till you get on bim, and you'll aee t I'll bet a pound he'll show yon some thing then J and if yoa can't ride well I'd advise yon to leave him alone. The ground is a darned eight the safest place for you. So just take my tip, mate, and leave him alone," said the well meaning but uncouth Jack. Frank took not the slightest notice of the man, bnt led the Odd Trick to tbe front of the kitchen, and noted with satisfaction the retreating figures of Hawley and MoseB, who had crossed the gum creek, and were now traversing a little flat that led up to a gap between two of the conical bills to the station. Hawley had departed, for from what he had learned of Heslop's character, he felt convinced that be would attempt to ride the confirmed buck jumper he had left in the yard for him ; and he was also quite aB certain that he would come to grief in the attempt, and though ho would have preferred to stay and gloat over Heel op's discomfiture, it would be just as well to be out of the way, so as to leave as much of the onus as possible of what might happen on Frank's own shoulders. AB for Moses, though he liked Heslop after his own peculiar fashion, he had not the slightest objection to see him make the most ridiculous exhibition of hiinse:f ; in fact be would have vastly enjoyed the said exhibition, and felt aggrieved at not being allowed to stay to witness it. Before he left the station, however, he found an excuse to visit the wood heap at Government house, and there tell hie mother to put the Schlinkes on the alert, so that they might see the fun from tbe commencement, expressing at the 4 same time, his conviction that White-
fellow get 'em big one buster." And now, as he rode along beside the overseer, he nearly screwed bis head off in watching the Btation flat till he had passed the creBl of tbe gap and it was hidden from his view. But though Hawley and Moses were gone, there would Btill be plenty of spectators left, for there were the Schlinkes and Mrs Blowhard, there was that unpleasantly familiar man, the horse driver, and in his company were two rough looking fellows—knock-about men —who had been rolling up their swags and grinding their axeB preparatory to departure for Ilkadowena with the horse team, and who now, pipe in mouth, were prepared to see the last of the business, no matter how long they might be delayed in consequence. To complete the muster, a shepherd who had left his flock camp ing at a waterhole in tbe creek, had come to the Btation, ostensibly for tobacco, but in reality to vary the monotony of his solitary life by a gossip with anyone ho could find to gossip with, and who wan now eagerly questioning the other men as to who Heslop was, and all about him, both questions and snswers being plainly audiblo to the Bubject of them—and then there was the cockatoo. Meanwhile Mick bad the 44 nate little kid"—a small calf skin doubled and rolled tightly in Heslop'e coat—ready, and with it and three strong saddle straps in his band sallied forth from the kitchen 4 exclaiming, Phwat div ye tbink ov him now, Misther Heslop ? Div ye tbink ye kin ride him ?" " He's not an amiable animal, certainly ; bat I'll have to try him. Of course if be throwB me I shall have to give him beet —but he has not done that yet," replied Frank . witb a coolness which impressed the spectators in his favor. • 4 Shore an' ye're clane grit, so ye are ! An' I belave ye kin ride him I" said Mick, with a confident jerk of bis head as be
began to securely strap tbe kid to the ataples in the pommel of the saddle. (To be continued.) After all, the Captain of the Ada Melmore is likely to be tried for the manslaughter of the Kapunda's hapless three hundred. Book on the defences of Australia and New Guinea, compiled from the papers of the late General Sir Peter Scratchley, to be published shortly. Randolph Churchill declares that a million and a half per annum can be saved on the British naval and military expenditure without weakening the defensive strength of the Empire. Copper is going up in the English market, a8 European stocks are rapidly decreasing. A collection taken up in the Melbourne Town Hall last Friday night for the Bulli Belief Fond realised £745. Sydney has raised £6,000 altogether. Teetulpa got an inch and a quarter of rain on Saturday evening. Goslin's. Brady's, and tbe Dam gullies were flooded, and the claims collapsed, burying the tools left in them by the diggers. Saturday's storm was general throughout the colony. Port AuguBta West had tbe heaviest rainfall. Mr Todd says the wind travelled at the rate of 45 miles an hour between 1 and 2 p.m. at Adelaide. Since Irish jurieB cannot be brought to agree on the 41 Conspiracy Trials," the Salisbury Ministry have concluded to drop the prosecutions of Dillon, O'Brien, Redmond & Co. The N.8. Wales Assembly is struggling with another Land Bill, while the Council ie discussing Cremation.
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