Kate clenched her little sunbrowned hand, and punched her father on his mighty chest. You don't deserve any supper. Late in the evening, as Forde and his host were walking to and fro outside the house, and Kate was reading Aulain's letter in her room, Gerrard was stretched out upon his bed, smoking his pipe, and talking to himself.
And I wish Aulain, my boy, that you were safely married to her. And I wish that there were two more like you, Miss Kate—one for me, and one for the parson. And I wish I was not such an idiot as to wish anything at all. Just as dawn broke, the deep note of a bell-bird awakened Kate from a somewhat restless and troubled slumber; but quickly dressing, she took up a bucket and set off to the milking-yard. The ground and the branches of the trees above were heavily laden with the night-dew, and in a few minutes her feet were wet through, and then, ere she had walked half the distance to the yard, several long-legged, gaunt kangaroo dogs, who were watching for their mistress, made a silent and sudden rush to welcome her, leaping up and muddying her shoulders with their wet paws, and making determined efforts to lick her hair and face.
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I think, Smith, if we can only find the missing horses this week we'll have at least half-a-day's run with the dogs on Sunday. To-day I am going with my father to Kaburie. I forgot their bread this morning. I was thinking about something else. I thought I saw 'em flying about the nest, and went to see. Look at 'em setting there like two bloomin' cheerybims, who 'adn't never seen a hegg o' any kind but their own. I feel very mad with them, but wouldn't hurt them for the world.
They kill and eat such a lot of snakes—bad snakes, 'bandy-bandies' and 'black necks. And perhaps that is wot fills 'em with such willianly; they himbibes the snakes' cunning after they 'as digested 'em. I onct heerd a naturalist cove as was getting birds on the Diamantina River say that he was dead certain there wasn't no laughin' jackasses in the Garden o' Eding, which was a smokin' great pity. The old serpant,' says he, 'wouldn't a 'ad the ghost of a show hif han Australlyian laughin' jackass 'ad copped him talkin' to Heve, and tellin' 'er it was orlright, and to go ahead an' heat as much as her stomach would accomydate.
Not more than two or three would elect to go, but of these Cockney Smith was always one.
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On such occasions Kate would stand at her father's door on the look-out—to see that Mr Smith did not ride off without being interviewed. In fact I think you might go with thirty pounds this time. You are a bad lot. You tell me horrible stories. Didn't I collar a hundred and five quid from that Melbourne bookie? And what became of it? How much of it did you bring back? Just thirty shillings!
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And you couldn't do any work for nearly two weeks; and you had delirium tremens. Now, go away, and if you come back as you did last time father won't have any more to do with you—and neither will I. Smith would ride off with his companions. For all the men at the camp knew that during two years Kate had placed various sums to the credit of Smith at the Boorala bank, and had extorted a solemn promise from him not to attempt to write a cheque for even one pound without her consent. The bank manager, who was another of Kate's adorers, promised to observe her wishes.
We do many things that we ought not to do, and if Smith draws a cheque you may be sure that I will refuse to pay it as 'signature illegible'—as it is sure to be. But I'll lend him a few pounds if he breaks out again, and is laid up in this abode of sin, so that he may get home again to your protecting care. The milking was finished, and Smith, taking up the heavy bucket of milk, was just about to carry it to the house, when he set it down again.
My oath, 'e can ride. Kate turned just in time, and saw Gerrard, who was in his pyjamas with a towel over his shoulders, disappearing over the ridge at a full gallop. She did not know that he had risen long before she had, walked in the grey dawn to the horse paddock through the dew-soaked grass, caught his horse, and had been an interested spectator of her dairy work.
And his horse wanted a swim after such a hot ride from Port Denison. As they walked back to the house, Kate saw her father coming towards them, and let Smith go on. Fraser, his daughter and their two guests were on the road to Kaburie, and within a few miles of the turn-off to Boorala. Kate and the clergymen were together, her father and Gerrard some hundreds of yards in advance, and all were walking their horses slowly, for the sun was beating fiercely down upon them through the scantily-foliaged gum trees, and Kaburie was yet twenty miles away.
The girl sat in her saddle with bent head, and there were traces of tears on her cheeks. You have always been so kind to him and to me; but I never thought that you would ask me to be your wife. Forde placed his hand on hers. It was a foolish dream of mine, that is all. But you were always the one woman in the world to me ever since I first met you two years ago. And it grieves me that I should have made you shed one single tear. His calm, steady voice, and the firm pressure of his hand reassured her. She raised her face to his as he bent towards her, and, on the impulse of a moment, born of her sincere liking for the man, kissed him.
His bronzed features flushed deeply, and his whole frame thrilled as their lips met; and then he exercised a mighty restraint upon himself. Father will be so distressed, and so indeed will be everybody—for hundreds of miles about. It was that that gave me pluck enough to speak to your father last night. I thought I would go to him first. Perhaps I made a mistake? He told me all that you said to him, and—oh! He looked at the gum tree branches overhead, and went on meditatively, apparently not taking heed of her emotion, though his heart was filled with love for the girl, who with bent head, rode by his side.
But I was never intended to be a clergyman. I was driven into the Church by my mother—good, pious soul—who, because my father was in the Church, condemned me to it, instead of letting me follow my own bent—which was either the Army or Navy or Commerce. He shook his head. And their frank hospitality and rough good nature I can never forget.
I am very much inclined to follow your father's example and go in for mining; either that or cattle-breeding. But, of course, I shall write and let you know. Kate and I especially will miss you. And I do hope that we shall meet again. And then they began to speak of Kaburie, Fraser giving his visitor every possible information about the country and its cattle-carrying capabilities. It was, he said, one of the best-watered runs in the north, and a drought had never been known.
Crack your whip, Kate. Uncoiling the long stock-whip, the girl cracked it once only, but loudly, and in a few seconds hundreds of cattle appeared from the creek, and through the fringe of she-oaks that lined its banks; they clambered up the steep side and stared at the disturbers, and then at a second loud crack of the whip, trotted off quietly to the camp—bullocks, steers, cows and calves, the latter performing the usual calf antics, curving their bodies, hoisting their tails, and kicking their heels in the air.
Once under the cool, grateful shade of the dark green foliage of the sandalwoods, they quietly awaited to be inspected, and Fraser and Gerrard slowly walked their horses about among them. Quite so! Well, I think it very likely you soon will be. There will be a terrible amount of branding to be done now. Kate, unaware of the twinkle in Gerrard's eyes, was indignant.
What are you laughing at, Mr Gerrard? She has saved herself some hundreds of pounds by dismissing her stockmen, and leaving the calves un-branded. All the work and expense will fall on whoever buys the station. And buying a cattle or sheep station is war in a sense between seller and buyer. I should have done the same thing myself, I suppose. I'm a perfect Shylock, and will have my pound o' flesh—especially bullock flesh. Was it your fault that the steamer was nearly wrecked, and the cattle died? You see I was anxious to establish a big cattle trade with the French people. Kate shook her head decisively, but there was an expressive look in her eyes that gave Gerrard great content.
Towards the afternoon the travellers saw a horseman coming towards them, and Kate recognised him as Tom Knowles, the overseer of Kaburie, for whom Gerrard had a letter from Mrs Tallis. He has come to see you on business, and we came with him. The overseer, who had at first looked at Gerrard's handsome face with some disapproval, at once became at ease, and in a few minutes, after Gerrard had explained the object of his visit, the party put their horses into a smart canter, and half-an-hour later came to a wide, sandy-bottomed creek, fringed with huge ti-trees.
On one of these, which was on the margin of the crossing, was nailed a large black painted board with an ominous inscription in white. But when the water is clear, and the creek low, as it is now, there is no danger. It is when the creek is high after rain, and the water muddy, that the crossing is risky. I suppose you have any amount of the brutes up your way? The rivers, creeks, and swamps are full of them, and I have lost a lot of cattle and horses at Ocho Rios by them. An hour later they arrived at Kaburie, and Kate was, at the request of the admiring Knowles, acting as hostess and preparing supper.
Two days had passed, and Gerrard was still at Kaburie, though Kate and her father had left the previous day; they were, however, to return, bringing with them three or four stockmen to assist Knowles and Gerrard to muster the cattle, for he had decided to buy the station and leave Knowles there as his manager. You can safely leave the battery and claim to Sam Young for a few days.
And as you and I know the country so well, I am sure we should be of some use to Mr Gerrard.
And then in addition to that he had taken such a strong liking to Gerrard that it gave him pleasure to afford him all the assistance in his power. And I'll send over to Boorala for three or four good men to help in the mustering. So Kate and her father had ridden away and left Gerrard and Knowles to themselves for a few days; and Gerrard and the dapper little overseer planned all sorts of improvements that were to be effected in the way of making Kaburie a crack breeding station.
As father and daughter rode side by side along the track back to their home, through the darkening shadows of the coming night, they talked about Forde and Aulain, Fraser resting his big brown hand on her knee, and looking wistfully into her face. I liked Mr Forde very much, but not well enough to marry him, and part from you.
And I kissed him, dad, when we said good-bye. Do you mind much? I couldn't help it. I felt that I must kiss him. Fraser nodded. Still I think it would be the better course to take. I had imagined, however, Kate, that you thought more of Aulain than you cared to admit, even to me.
He is so dreadfully jealous, and he has no right whatever to be jealous of me, for we were never engaged. And then there is another thing that is an absolute bar to my marrying him, though I fear I am too much of a coward to tell him so; he is a Roman Catholic. And whenever I think of that I remember the awful tragedy of the Wallington family. Whenever I think of poor Mr Wallington as we saw him lying on the grass with the bullet hole through his forehead, I shudder. I loathe the very name of Mrs Wallington, and consider her and Father Corregio the actual murderers of that good old man.
She spoke of an incident that had occurred when she was sixteen. Wallington, a wealthy Brisbane solicitor, had gone to England on a six months' visit When he returned, he found that his wife and only daughter, a girl of five and twenty, had fallen under the influence of a Father Corregio, and had entered the Roman Catholic Church, and his long and happy married life was at an end.
A week later he shot himself in his garden. And I think, after all, I had better write to him to-morrow. I really do not want him to come to the Gully. And she did write, and Aulain's face was not pleasant to see as he read her letter. He went over to the Clarion office and saw Lacey, who was quick to perceive that something had occurred to upset the dark-faced sub-Inspector.
Any 'shakes' to-day? They have some ice there I hear—came up by the Sydney steamer last night. I've just finished writing a particularly venomous leader upon mine adversary the Planters' Friend , and a nice cool drink, such as you suggest, on a roasting day like this, will tend to assuage the journalistic rage against my vile and hated contemporary. Arriving at the Queen's Hotel the two men went upstairs and sat down on comfortable cane lounges on the verandah, and in a few minutes the smiling Milly appeared with a large bottle of champagne, and a big lump of the treasured ice, carefully wrapped up in a piece of blanketing.
As Lacey attended to the ice, Aulain began to cut the cork string. Are you ready with the glasses. Faith, doesn't it look lovely. Steady, me boy, these long sleever glasses hold a pint. Here's long life to ye, Aulain. I had a letter from him by the mailman yesterday from Fraser's Gully.
He was staying there for the night with our friend Gerrard. Aulain's black brows knit, and his hand clenched under the table, as Lacey went on,. And very glad it is I am to hear it, for a finer man I don't know. He merely wrote me asking me to mention in the Clarion that he was leaving the Church, and was going South.
Ye see, he has a power of friends all over the country, and he just asked me to write a bit of a paragraph saying he was going away, and regretted that he could not come to Port Denison to preach next Sunday fortnight. When is he leaving Fraser's place? By a bit of good-luck, Gerrard—who also sent me a few lines—met Forde and Miss Fraser on his way to the Gully.
Aulain handed the letter back to Lacey. He was outwardly calm, but his heart was surging with passion. What business had that d———d parson fellow and Kate to be together at Cape Conway, fifteen miles away from her home? And then his receptive brain conjured up the blackest suspicions.
Mustering on Kaburie was almost over, much to the satisfaction of every one taking part in it, for the weather had been unpleasantly hot even for North Queensland, and heavy tropical thunderstorms had added to the difficulty of the work by the creeks coming down in flood.
Early one morning Gerrard, Fraser, and Kate, with three stockmen, were camped near the mouth of a wide, but shallow creek, whose yellow, muddied waters were rushing swiftly to the sea. The party had arrived there the previous evening, and now, breakfast over, were ready to start to muster the cattle in the vicinity. Heavy rain had fallen during the night, but Kate's little tent, with its covering fly had kept her dry, and the rest of the party had slept under a rough, but efficient shelter of broad strips of ti-tree bark spread upon a quickly-extemporised frame of thin saplings.
Just as they started the sky cleared and the blue dome above was unflecked by a single cloud as they rode in single file along a cattle track leading to the beach, which they reached in half an hour. How beautiful she is—for a steamer, with those sloping masts, with the yards across, and the curved shapely bow like a sailing ship. I do so wish I were on board. I love ships and the If I were a man I should be a sailor. She died of a broken heart soon after.
Kate's eyes filled with tears. I wish I could see him. I daresay that I shall be back here within twelve months, and bring Master Jim with me. Don't cross anywheres unless you have some cattle to send in fust, and keep clost up to their tails if yous can't get in among 'em.
The two men nodded, and riding down the bank, crossed the creek and quickly disappeared in the scrub on the other side; then Gerrard's party turned towards the coast, Trouton leading the way with the packhorses along a well-defined cattle-track. A quarter of an hour later they came across a small mob of cows and calves, which as the stockwhips cracked, trotted off in front, to be joined by several more, and in a short time the mob had increased to five hundred head, and Trouton and Gerrard decided to drive them across the creek to join those which were being rounded up by the two stockmen on the left hand bank.
In reply to a question by Gerrard, Trouton said that the crossing was a good one even when the creek was as high as it was then, on account of its width—about two hundred yards from bank to bank. If we rush 'em they'll get over in no time. But we will cut out all the cows with calves too young to swim. This did not take long, and some thirty or forty cows with calves were separated from the mob, and driven some distance back into the scrub by Fraser.
The cattle, however, kept well together, and when the deep part was reached, swam safely across, despite the rather strong current. His words were interrupted by a cry of terror from Kate, as the colt she was riding gave an agonised snort of terror, and began pawing the water with its fore-feet.
Mr Gerrard! Oh, it is an alligator! Gerrard, only ten yards away from her, turned his horse's head, and shouted to her to throw herself off, and then, with a deadly terror in his heart, saw her shaken off; and disappear in the surging stream, but in a few seconds she rose to the surface, panting and choking, but swimming bravely, though she was unable to see. Gerrard, now beside her, leant over, placed his left arm round her waist, and held her tight.
Then his bronzed face went white with horror as the black snout of an alligator thrust itself out of the water between the girl and himself, and the saurian tried to seize her by the shoulder. In an instant Gerrard had clutched the reptile by the throat with his right hand.
The brute has ripped the left side of your face open from the top of your head to the chin, and we are trying to put in some stitches. The liquor stung his lacerated lips like fire, but it revived him. But I didn't let go, did I? I settled the brute by putting five bullets into it. Trouton had put it out of its misery. There was no more mustering that day, for Gerrard's condition was so serious, though he tried to make light of it, that Fraser, leaving the cattle to the care of the two stockmen, first sent off Trouton to Boorala for a doctor, and then he, taking one of the pack-horses, made Gerrard mount his own.
And when they reached Kaburie they found Doctor Krause, a quiet, spectacled little man, awaiting them with Knowles the overseer. The mail had just arrived at Marumbah, and brought a letter from his brother-in-law, and one from Fraser, His eyes glistened as he laid them down upon the table, and looked at his wife, who, he could see, was also visibly affected, whilst little Mary sobbed unrestrainedly. I would have left Marumbah the same day, and gone to poor Tom to nurse him. You hear what Fraser says—'He is getting on splendidly, and the left eye is saved.
Don't cry any more, Mary dear. Uncle Tom is getting better. I am quite sure that even if he met a bunyip he would not be afraid; but would fight it. Mary's face brightened at the prospect of a letter from her dearly-beloved Jim, and Mrs Westonley smiled. Ever since Gerrard's visit to Marumbah Downs, her once icy and austere manner to the child had, bit by bit, relaxed, until at last she had thawed altogether, and had been amply repaid by such a warm response of affection that she now made a companion of the little one, and found herself a much happier woman now that the sweet sunlight of childish love had penetrated and melted her former frigid reserve.
Westonley had noted the change with unalloyed delight, but, like a wise man, had pretended not to notice; but one day, soon after Gerrard's letter had arrived, he could not suppress himself. And oh, Uncle Ted, it was lovely! We talked and talked and talked for such a long time, and she told me such a lot of things about the school she was at in England, and about the girls there—some were very nice, but there were some horrid ones.
Oh, she told me heaps of things. And Aunt Lizzie and I are going to the beach together one day next week to get pippies, and she says she won't mind if she gets sopping wet right up to her face. When they reached the house they found Mrs Westonley awaiting them on the verandah, and when her husband put his arms around her and kissed her repeatedly, she blushed like a young girl.
And as the days went on he saw with delight that she had at last taken the child to her heart. Breakfast was over, and Westonley in his study was talking to his head stockman when he saw Brooke riding up. I expect he will have some breakfast, so tell Mrs Patton. Brooke, a tall, powerfully-built man, and usually as boisterous as a school-boy in his manner, seemed very quiet as he dismounted, shook hands with Westonley and his wife, and patted Mary's head.
I had mine at five o'clock—I made an early start, as I wanted to get here as soon as possible, thinking that very likely Westonley might be going out on the run somewhere, and that I might miss him. I want to have a talk with you, old man. Mrs Westonley and Mary at once left the room, both wondering what was the matter with Brooke—he looked so worried and depressed. I've ridden hard all the way from my place. The latter, he saw, were unopened. Drinking off the brandy and soda, he said:. I'll show you his letter presently.
But what is the matter, Brooke? You look worried. Tell me, old man, what did you do with that cheque of mine for eight thousand? I got a telegram from Melbourne last night—Dacre's Bank has smashed, and smashed badly—hopelessly, in fact. I bought Comet Vale from you for my boys, but I'll give it back to you for three—for five—years to help you to pull up. Come outside, and well talk it over. He rose unsteadily, placing his hand on the edge of the table, and then fell forward upon his face, and lay still—his big, generous heart had ceased to beat.
The news of Westonley's sudden death was a great shock to Gerrard. The brief telegram from his half-sister had been forwarded to Port Denison, and Lacey had sent it on to him at Fraser's Gully, by the mailman, together with a copy of the Clarion , containing the telegraphed account of the Dacre's bank failure. Had Gerrard looked at the newspaper, he might perhaps have connected Westonley's sudden end with the financial disaster, which had brought ruin to so many thousands of Australian homes, for he knew that his brother-in-law banked at Dacre's.
I have just had a telegram 'from Marumbah—with very, very sad news. An hour later, when they returned to the house, and Kate Fraser wondered why they looked so quiet and depressed, Gerrard told her of the news he had received. I want to send some telegrams as well as letters. But as it will take my sister's letter quite a fortnight to come from Marumbah, I shall put in most of the time at Kaburie, and, if I may, also inflict myself upon your father and yourself occasionally. Then for the first time Gerrard heard of the Dacre bank failure.
I fear he must have been hit very badly by the smash, for he not only had a lot of money in it, but was a big shareholder in the concern as well. Every one thought that Dacre's bank was as solid as the rock of Gibraltar. This intelligence disturbed Gerrard greatly—so much so that after lunch he sent a telegram to Westonley's Melbourne agents—who were also his own—and asked them if they could tell him how his sister would be affected by the collapse of Dacre's. He urged me strongly only six months ago to buy a hundred shares—a pretty hole I should be in now if I had taken the poor fellow's advice.
But no one ever dreamt of Dacre's being anything but one of the soundest banks in the world It is a blackguardly affair—a cruel, shameless fraud—and I hope that the men who are responsible for it will each get seven years' hard labour. Thank heaven, I did not take his advice, but stuck to the Capricornian Pastoralists' Bank. The editor of the Clarion gasped and dropped his cigar.
But he quickly recovered himself, and turning his face away from Gerrard, puffed out volumes of smoke most energetically, considering what he should do. He soon decided. The change in his voice struck his companion—it was low, grave, and sympathetic. Now, out with it. You have something unpleasant to tell me, and don't like doing it. I'll bet you drinks that I can guess what it is.
I saw you start when I mentioned the Capricornian Pastoralists' Bank. Has that 'busted' too? It smashed yesterday as a result of the Dacre collapse. The news was in my rag this morning. Will you be hard hit? Curls me up like a corkscrew. To pay Mrs Tallis her six thousand pounds I gave a mortgage on Ocho Rios for five thousand pounds as I only had about three or four thousand pounds in the Capricornian.
I'm deuced lucky that it wasn't more. He rose from his seat and paced angrily to and fro on the verandah for a moment or two, then he stopped suddenly, and a smile lit up his scarred face. The thing can't be helped, but only a little while ago I had made up my mind to give Kaburie to my sister; and now I can't pay for Kaburie, for my draft for six thousand pounds is worthless to Mrs Tallis, and all the labouring of mustering and branding has gone for nothing.
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Poor little woman! I am sorry for her! Isn't it a beastly mess? I'm very fond of being good to myself, I can assure you. But a smack in the face like this is enough to make a saint swear like an Australian Member of Parliament. Now, I bought Kaburie with the idea of making it a breeding station—prize cattle and all that sort of thing—for Ocho Rios. Then when I received this telegram from my agents in Melbourne telling me that my sister would be left penniless, I made up my mind to write to her by the next mail south, and tell her that Kaburie was for her and my niece Mary.
And another thing I wanted to do was to give a man I know a good lift. It is awfully good of you, but I shall pull through all right in the end, and with a good season or two should easily lift the mortgage on Ocho Rios. All I am scared of now is a drought, but if a drought does come, I can't stop it, and therefore, it is no use my worrying about it. Milly, bring the ice again please, and if you see the boy tell him to come here. I've lost a lot of money, and you and I will have to work like niggers when we get to Ocho Rios.
Lacey looked at him in silent admiration and wonder.
All he told me was that he was off to Brisbane to tender his resignation in person, and as that is against the regulations he hoped to be dismissed. He has been very strange lately. I think that matters have gone wrong in a certain quarter. Well, I'm sorry if it is the case. She is a bonny little lady. Milly again appeared. Ask him to come up. Jim, I hope you haven't been up to any games while I was away. Milly, bring a chair for Mr Macpherson, and another big glass, and some more ice. Now sit down, Sergeant, and tell me all about it.
Jim, get off that railing, or you'll fall off into the street, and break your leg. My luck is dead against me. Light your pipe, Sergeant, and make yourself comfy. But there are lots of fellows who have had worse luck than me, and so I shouldn't 'make a song' over mine. Now, do you know the story of Knowles's life? He was in the Naval Brigade at Sebastopol, and was recommended for the V. Did you know that? He only told us that he was with Peel's Naval Brigade and had seen most of the fighting, was severely wounded, and that after he came home he left the Navy through ill-health, and came to Australia.
Then his father, who was always looked upon as a very wealthy man, went smash for a huge amount, which ruined hundreds of people, and then shot himself; so poor Knowles left the Navy and took a billet as house-master at a boys' college. Six months after, his uncle, Lord Accrington, died, and left Knowles twenty thousand pounds. Of that twenty thousand pounds he kept only five hundred pounds; every penny of the rest he gave to his dead father's creditors. My mother had died years before, and I have no brothers or sisters, and it would have been a disgraceful thing for me to have kept the money after what had occurred.
Lord Accrington was my mother's brother, and I was always a favourite of his he did not like my father, and had not spoken to him for years. I never expected he would leave me a cent, and so it was no sacrifice on my part' And then he said that ten years ago he had saved enough money to buy a small sheep station in the Riverina District, and then came the drought of '72 which broke him.
And, as I was saying, I have no reason to make a song over my affairs when so many other fellows have had worse luck than me. Douglas Fraser, who for the past few days had been depressed in spirits, said, as he rose from his seat:. It is of no use any one girding at his misfortunes, if they are not caused by himself. Sometimes a man thinks in mining parlance that he has 'struck it rich,' and straightway begins building his Chateaux en Espagne. Then he finds he has bottomed on a rank duffer, and wants to swear, as I do now.
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Last Saturday's cleaning up at the battery only yielded ten ounces of melted gold—worth about forty pounds—and the week's expenses came to one hundred and forty pounds. That is the one thing that consoles me; I love the idea of seeing new country. Gerrard made no answer for some minutes. When I left Ocho Rios there were several prospecting parties on Cape York Peninsula—some of them doing very well—and I myself got seven ounces of gold in a few hours from a creek about sixty miles from my station.
Unfortunately, however, another man as well as myself knows of this place, and he asked me not to say anything about it for six months. He means to go there with a prospecting party. She flushed. In that letter he told me that he was leaving the Native Police, and intended going in for mining, as he knew of some very rich auriferous country near your station, and that you, who also knew of it, had promised him to keep it secret from any other prospecting party. Again Kate's face flushed. I like Mr Aulain very, very much, but I do not like any one enough to—to—oh, dear!
I've broken the snooding. He knew what she meant him to understand—that she was not going to marry Aulain—and then he went on quickly. Oh, this is what I was about to say, I believe that the Batavia River district is full of rich reefs and alluvial gold as well, and from what I hear from Lacey, I don't think the Gilbert will prove a permanent gold-field. Now, I will try to persuade your father to come to my part of the country instead of the Gilbert, which, by the time he reaches it, will probably be played out altogether, and abandoned.
I am horribly selfish, I am afraid. Gerrard stroked his beard meditatively. But it is an awful country for a lady to live in; the fever is very bad there, and the blacks are a continual source of danger and trouble. All the rivers on the Peninsula are alive with them, and I have lost hundreds of cattle by the brutes. Now here we are at the pool. Isn't it lovely and quiet? I do hope we shall have caught enough fish by the time father comes. Gerrard, as he filled his pipe, watched her smooth, slender brown hands baiting the hook of her line with a small grasshopper, and noted the beautiful contour of her features, and the intent expression in her long-lashed eyes as she surveyed it.
She looked up. Don't be so lazy. I'll have at least three fish before you have your line ready. Oh, I do wish I were a man! It must be delightful! When father and Sam Young and Cockney Smith come here with me to fish, and I see them all looking so placidly content with their pipes in their mouths, I feel as if I was missing something. Now, watch! The music of her laugh, and her bright, animated features, filled Gerrard with delight as he watched her make a second cast. Then he too set to work, and, for the next quarter of an hour, they vied to make the greatest catch. Gerrard was a long way behind, when Douglas Fraser appeared.
Kate laid down her rod, and covered her face with her hands, and Gerrard saw the tears trickling through her fingers. ArthDuro likes this. BLucare and VxZeroKnots like this. Joe , ferals5 and keepshoveling like this. BLucare , Jan 22, PQ appears to be in quite a bad way And, TP reported on Instagram this morning that his wrist is basically about to collapse, and that he needs bone graft surgery and a new screw put in. Joe , skibum69 , Carlos M and 5 others like this.
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