Chapter 196751579

See chapter in newspaper

Chapter NumberX
Chapter TitleNEW FRIENDS
Chapter Url
Full Date1887-04-26
Page Number4
Word Count3651
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Port Augusta Dispatch, Newcastle and Flinders Chronicle (SA : 1885 - 1916)
Trove TitleBenbonuna: A Tale of Thirty Years Ago
article text



[AU rights reserved by the author.'} F CHAPTER X (continued). NSW FRIENDS.


"Oh, you'd better go, Heslop. Hell give you some of his facts," laughed Bowyer. " I always confine myself to facts—the stnotest of facts, I assure yon. Indeed a strict adherence to truth is what I chiefly pride myself upon." " That's why your facts are so amusing —mere inventions are always so confoundedly monotonous, eh, Toby ?" " What'do you mean, Bowyer, what do yon mean? I don't want any of your nasty slurs." " I mean just what I say. Isn't itBR clear as mnd to the meanest intellect ?" replied Bowyer pointedly, with another quiet laugh. " Don't yon listen to that fellow, Heslop, or you'll soon cease to believe in the evidence of your seven senseB; but if ever you wish for any little information of any Jnnd, come to me, and you will always be sure of obtaining the genuine article, the genuine article, I assure you 1" " That's how Mr Foolscap's beok came to contain so many startling facts about bosh life. He went to you as a stranger, hungering and thirsting for information, and you took him in, eh Toby." " Well, what's the use of water without whisky, and what are facts without a little embellishment. But look, my pipe's out, and 1 don't see yours, Mr Heslop. Ton Bmoke, I suppose ?" replied Gulliver, evidently willing to turn the conversation. " Tes I smoke, but have no tobacco at present." " Here, have some of mine. It's grand," Cried Gulliver eagerly as he produced a wallaby skin pouch which, however, proved empty. "Confound it, I'm like yourself Mr HeBlop, I'm oat. Pass your ponob over, Bowyer." "One word for our friend here, and two for yourself, master Toby" said Bowyer producing as he spoke some stioks of "Nsilrod" from a leather pouch by bis side, and tendering them to Frank. And that skilful allusion to whisky too—I •oppose you want to finish the bottle don tyon ? " Well, it would be a sin to Bpoil it with bad water, when we can mix it properly here, and besides' we're giving Heslop a dry welcome to the North, a very dry Welcome} and so I'll go and get it," returned Gdliiver, and scrambling to his feet be proceeded to fish for a bottle half full of Scotch whisky, which was floating about in a shady corner of the pool. A strabge looking figure be was, for thotogh while sitting be looked tall enough for a Life Guardsman, directly he was on his feet, it was apparent that want of height would have exempted him from military service altogether, for hie fat pair of legs, in drab kerseymere pants and gaitero, were as ridiculously short as bis stout body in its short riding 'acket was ridiculously long. As for his I ieBd, it looked ae if its owner had received a violent surprise in infancy, and had never properly recovered from it; his short-cut thick black hair stood as stiffly on end SB did that of the martyred Gengalphus of the In golds by Legends, and would have been u perpetual source of irritation to its owner's low crowned cabbage-tree bat, had that piece of head gear been at all ticklish. His eyebrows

thinly furnished with hair, were elevated in two archeB over his coal-black eyes, which were as round as those of a bird bis nose was of the snub order, and towsrds it bis upper lip rose in a sharp curve like that of a naughty boy when a castigation is imminent; his chin WSB receding, and his fat cheeks looked like fields which had been sown but proved barren, though well shaded by a pair of large, muBhroom-like ears. He was about 35 years of age, loved the good thingB of tbie life (when he could get thenj) even better than facte, and was, aB HeBlop began to think, a very queer specimen indeed of the genus homo. Bowyer, who watched his companion with an amused smile, was a man of very different stamp; be was over six feet two in height, and so strongly built as to almost appear clumsy; whilst his features, in accordance with his figure, were of the heavy Roman order, but relieved by a pair of brown eyes which often expressed far more than his lips. He bad a bushy head of brown hair, with a beard to match, and a splendid set of teeth. He was acknowledged to be the 4 1 best all round man in the North," aB he certainly was the moBt respected for bis tborongh-going straight-forwardness of character. He now said in a low voice to Frank, " How did you leave our friends at tbe station this morning f" "Mr ABhby seemed very ill, but the ladies were in good health, I believe." " Ah, I am very sorry to hear Ashby is bad again. I suppose you know the cause." " Yes. What a miserable business it is. I am afraid it worries Miss Ashby dreadfully." " And no wonder, poor girl. I am glad of your coming, for, speaking as a friend of the family, I don't know what to think of Mary's surroundings; and it is a good thing that there will now be someone handy on whom she can rely in an emergency. Though how you will be able to agree with Hawley is a problem yet to be solved." "Ill put up with anything if I can only be of Bome service to Miss Ashby." " That I am certain of," replied Bowyer gravely without appearing to notice Heslop's eager avowal, " and that is why I speak so openly to you. But we shall so doubt have a chance for a long private talk, and now we will drop the subject, for Gulliver there, though he is a really good hearted fellow, has not a particle of discretion." "I say, you fellows, sre you talking about tne ?" queried the individual referred to, as he approached with the bottle. " Of course, Toby. With so remarkable a figure as yours in the foreground of the pictnre, bow could we talk of anything else?* replied Bowyer with a well feigned look of admiration at Gulliver's proportions. " Well, you are about right there, Bowyer. About right there ; for I flatter myself there is as yet only one Toby Gulliver imported; only one Toby Gulliver, and where would you find another like me? Where would you find another?" " m be hanged if I know !" ejaculated Bowyer. " Of course you don't, Bowyer 1 of course you don't. Look at the style and breeding of mei Look at the style and breeding 1" cried Gulliver, who at tbe same time indulged in an unwieldy gambol that would have caused a yearling hippopotamus a pang of envy. " Yes 1 There iB no doubt at all about the breeding. Very accomplished, too, some of your ancestors were Toby, if we are to believe in the Bible, for one of them could converse in Hebrew, in the time of Balaam the prophet," replied Bowyer with a wicked twinkle of the eye. Gulliver's eyes seemed ready to start out of bis head, and he was in such a t hurry to reply that bis words got entangled before they could leave bis iipp, as he. delivered himself of this cutting repartee. "When a most remarkable freak of pature oocurred—which has just been i c t t

epeated, which has just been repeatedor the ass spoke, the ass -spoke. What a o you think of that, Heslop, what do you hink of that ?" " Oh, extremely cutting 1" laughed " Yes, first-rate wasn't it ?" " But not original, Master Toby. So don't go caracoling round in tbe lion'a hide in that ridiculous fashion ; and the next time you borrow a quotation have grace enough to render a proper acknowledgment to the author. We'll excuse you this time, but don't do it again," said Bowyer slowly and with an air of mild reproof. " Ah ! Not original! Not original 1 Where did I get it from then? Where did I get it from ? I'd like to know ?' "Out of last week's Observer, from which I also got my little joke about your Hebrew-Bpeaking ancestor, Toby." " Of course, Bowyer, of course ; but I didn't see it. Never mind ; if we can't be original, we can have a drink ; and so I'll help you first, Heslop, I'll help you first." Mr Gulliver poured out such a bumper that Frank insisted on restoring more than half of it to the bottle before filling tbe glass up with water, a proceeding which did not at all meet with hiB Ganymede's approval, for he said, " If you swamp your liquor like that, you'll soon have water on tbe brain, or inflammation of the lungs; besideB it's simply spoiling good liquor, spoiling good liquor." " It's better to spoil the liquor, than that the liquor should spoil you ; and if you always mix your grog like that, Beelop, you'll live long in the land and prosper muchly. Don't listen to the Bong of the old serpent there, for it is mainly owing to not putting enough water in hiB whisky that he is now the sapless twig you see." " Well, I don't know much about sap, Master Bowyer, butifit has left me, itmust have flown into your bead, it must have flown into your head. That's another into him, Heslop, another into him." " The hit6 are pretty equally divided so far," replied the impartial Heslop. " You and Mr Bowyer are like St. Cecilia and Timotheus—you both deserve tbe prize." " 0, he's got the best of me,Heslop,there's no denying that!" said Bowyer with asly glance to Frank ; then turning to Gulliver he continued, " As you are bottle holder, as well as one of the principals, I'll trouble you for a suck at the lemon," or I shall never be able to come up to time, after that last facer. As you are strong, Toby, you should be merciful^ you know i" "Here ! help yourself, and don't be greedy, even if it is your own liquor, for I've got to come yet, I've got to come yet." " Don't be afraid Toby ; there's no fear of my drinking too much, unless it be to prevent you making an exhibition of yourself," said Bowyer as he poured out a very moderate dram for himself. " Thank you for nothing, Bowyer; thank you for nothing—but that puts me in mind of what I did last November at Warraweena out of sheer benevolence too, sheer benevolence. Yon see—" " One very peculiar circumstance, Toby; you've forgotten something!" interposed Bowyer suddenly. " Forgotten something, forgotten something ? how's that ? how's that!" " Only that you've neglected to take your liquor, and to prevent the impending narrative from being equally dry to all parties, you'd better rectify your mistake before the stuff get's hot again 1" "Eh! didn't take my liquor 1 didn't take my liquor ?" Sniff, sniff. " No I

could'nt have done. Well! better late than never! better late than never." Mr Gulliver in the middle of this short speech had put one of bis hands to his mouth and nose, and after giving severals BDiffe bad decided by the absence of whisky fumes in his breath that, in hiB anxiety to tell a stoiy to a new listener, he had actually forgotten that it was his turn to imbibe. However, be soon rectified the omission by taking off a very stiff glass of whisky, neat, and then pouriDg a very small quantity of water down after it. " Well, Toby, aB Alderman Curtissaid to Alderman Brown, it seems AS if wonders had never done ceasing,"said Bowyer,1 aughing audibly—a very uncommon thing for him—" and it is all the more curious as you never care to hear yourself talk." " Curious, curious! Not at all! It only shows that I am constantly in the habit of denying myself that my friends may revel in abundance, revel in abnndance. But where was I ; where was I ?" " Only as far as the cave for the bottle, my gentle philantbrophist," replied Bowyer. " Cave, cave, you know what I mean. Ah, yes! about Bob Slowcomb's muster at Warraweena 1 Bob and bad got up a quarter cask of rum, a quarter cask of rum, and a you know what a devil of a fellow Bob is when he gets a drop too much, and what a shindy there would be, for there was Jack 0'Flaherty, Charley Shaw, Sandy Cruickehank, Bill Dtvies, and a lot more coining. They wonid have made day and night hideous till every drop was drunk, so what do you think I did ? What do you think I did ?" " Locked the rum up in tbe store and lost the key I suppose," Baid Bowyer, though he bad heard the story doaens of times before. " Locked the store, locked the store ! Lots of good that would have done. Why they would have got through the roof, or pulled the place down, but they'd have got at the liquor. I did better than that, I did better than that 1" " For goodness sake, what did you do ? Can't you go on, Toby, for Heslop and I are in an agonising state of suspense." " I wish you would not interrupt me in that manner, Bowyer. But there, you can't help it, you are always dying to bear yourself talk I" This was too much for Frank, who relieved hiB feelings by a hearty laugh, but was ealled to order by Bowyer, who said, " My friend there is of a peculiarly sensitive and nervous organisation, in fact he is what is scientifically known as pachydermatous, and if you laugh in that manner you will nip this charming anecdote in the bud, aad it will be lost to posterity." " Never mind bim, Heslop. He is always interfering in things that don't coucern him, so laugh away while you can," said Gulliver, who had looked remarkahly knowing when the wcrd pachydermatous was used—though he had never heard it before. " Are you going to give UB that story, Toby, or are you not?" demanded Bowyer, with a suddenness and strength of lung that made Gulliver start. " Of course I am, Bowyer, but where was I, where was I ?" " Somewhere outside a quarter cask of rum, I believe." " So I waB,BO I was! Well, I got to Warraweena five days before the muster was to commence ; and as Bob always kapt his liquor bunged up till bis guests arrived, it was all there. But Bob wasn't. He was courting then, and was away at Tingatinganh—two hundred miles south, and was not to be home till the day before the muster. So I bad plenty of time to make a martyr of myself for the good of my fellow creatures, and what do you think I did ? What do you d y hink I did ?" " Behaved yourself properly for once n your life," suggested Bowyer. "Well, I took Sheep-skin Bill, the ook, into my confidence, and we spiled be cask—spiled the cask ! And when he wretched misguided young men F

rrived and would havo made beasts of themselves, we'd emptied the cask— emptied the cask ! And all they could do was to " bull" it; and we'd bulled it twice before 'em—bulled it twice before 'em ! It's a positive fact /" " That was tbe time they tarred and feathered Sheepskin Bill, and sent you home in a bullock dray labelled, ( A hogshead of rum,) after they had rolled you in the waterhole, wasn't it ?" inquired Bowyer with a side glance to Heslop. " Ah 1 Who told you—who told you ?" asked Mr Gulliver briskly ; for like many another romancer he had told this story till he actually believed it himself, and now looked on Bowyer's question as con firmatory evidence of its truth. " Why yourself, you confounded old humbug! Only for tbe first dozon times of telling tbe story it was a five gallon keg that you worried. Now it has grown into a quarter cask, and will soon reach the capacity of a puncheon. Look here, Toby, you'd better have another nip and shut up shop for to-day. It's a heap too hot for ' positive facts.' " Gulliver looked at his big friend with much the same ezpresson as a mischievous monkey contemplating an attack on an elephant, but he was evidently at a loss for a smart rejoinder, and weakly said to Heslop whilst helping himself to another whisky, " Casting my pearls before swine, casting my pearls before swine." Frank laughingly bowed in acknowledg ment of the compliment. " 0 1 bang it Mr Heslop, present company always excepted you know. I was referring to Bowyer; referring to Bowyer." " In fact Toby, as usual you did not know what you were saying. But we pity and forgive you. There, that's all right; you need not humiliate yourself by further apologies," observed Bowyer, while Toby vainly endeavored to get in a word edgewise, but was overborne, much as a man on a donkey who triedto bar the way of a Lifeguardsman, might be. " Look here Bowyer " " Have you done with the whisky ?" " Yes. But look here " " Well if you have, throw it into the waterhole, for neither Eleslop nor I require any more, I think." " No more for me, thanks," said Frank. " But look here " " Well, as we have all had enough, I think it is time we were jogging along to Benbonuna, especially if friend Ashby is as bad as you seem to think, Heslop, This heat will completely prostrate him, and he will require very careful nursing to pull him through," said Bowyer, rising to his feet as he spoke. " Ah ! ill again 1 ill again. Wants to kill himself just as the run is beginning to pay. And such a nice wife, too ; such nice wife. Beastly thing drink ; good thing I don't care for it," moralised Gul liver, as he laboriously clambered on the back of a lanky chestnut, after having carefully bestowed tbe whisky bottle in biB coat pocket, while Bowyer and Heslop exchanged a glance of amusement. " What had I better do with the horse, Mr Bowyer, drive him or lead him ?" asked Frank. " Oh, he'll run in front of us all right. Shall I hold the Odd Trick for you ?" " Thanks, if you will; for that swag, as my friend Mick calls it, is a bit awkward to get round." " Real good fellow Mick ; a man you can thoroughly depend on. I wonder Hawley has not managed to get rid of him before this," said Mr Bowyer, who held the horse till Frank was fairly in the saddle. " I have taken a great fancy to him, R I

and with good reBson," observed Frank warmly. " Ah !" " He bas been a regular good Samaritan to me, and but for his advice and assistance I should never have got so far as this on the Odd Trick here—of that I feel assured." " Bucking Bill could not have done better, it appears to me, for you've regu larly got the best of the Trick," said Bowyer, as they rode out of the creek. " What did Hawley think about it ?" " Hawley was not there. He left lor an out-station before the fun began." " Ah, to harrass old Mac, I expect," said Mr Bowyer, laughing. " I don't know, but I believe he was going to look for lost sheep, and he went towards the great Western Range." " That would be to Ilka, then, for they are constantly loBing sheep from there," said Bowyer, who seemed perfectly conversant with all Benbonuna affairs. " But how came the Pirate to select you for this pleasant little horse hunting expedition ? Why, you only went up yesterday ! He put you into the collar pretty quickly." " Well, you see, I lost the horse myself." " How was that, Hawley was with you, wasn't he ?" " No, he had stopped to look for some sheep on tbe plain before you come to the creek." " We noticed the tracks going out, and the back track, with Badger's over tbem I thought Moses bad found the sheep, and therefore did not bother further about them. But we saw you and Hawley pass Udenyaka yesterday morning, and that is how we came to know your horse when we met him." " 1 am very much obliged to you for bringing him back, for I'm none too fresh—having been out all last night, lost the horse and myself too." " Well! there is one thing to be said, you'll have plenty to write home about. But how the dickens did you manage it ?" Of course Frank had to give an account of his wanderings which amused his companions vastly, though they both paid some rather equivocal compliments to Hawley for his share in the business. Heslop had barely finished his recital before Gulliver, who had for some time been as excited as a Pythoness on her tripod, hurriedly commenced. (To be continued.)