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“I believe I got yon muckle fish more he had a reprieve, and he MYSELL !” with great emphasis on wondered how it was he did not the last word.
feel happier. During the exciting Archie looked north and east fight he had many a time pictured and west, and then at the salmon. to himself the little house from
“MYSELL!" as if finally and which he would be banished at for the last time.
Whitsunday, its rough meadow in “I believe — that — too,” said front, and the peat-stacks, and the Archie, with a groan. The last sunnyuntidy bitof garden, halffilled three words came out with a with currant bushes and ribes and gulp.
southernwood, over which the bees « Well--he'll be an ugly burden came in the gloaming, slow flying to bear away doun. But a man after their afternoon labour on the canna pick an' choose as he would moor. Now he thought only of the in this world! Good day to you battle he had won, which was not then, Erchibald. And you might to bring him in any honour now, be going on wi' that new bit o' or happy reminiscences afterwards. garden you're sae proud of ; I'll “ 'Deed, I'll never have the gie you a wheen grand potatoes— chance of doing the like of yon next year-for seed for't."
again !” muttered the poor crofter So MacCorquodale set out under to himself. the hot sun homewards. Once
GILFRID W. HARTLEY. Note.—The writer would like to add that he knows who the chief guardian of the Awe was at the period of this sketch. The real keeper was a very different man from the entirely imaginary one here depicted, and it is only by a kind of poetical—or prose— licence that the latter is pushed into a position which he never occupied in the flesh.—G. W. H.
THE BUSTED BLUE DOLL.
DEEP in the Australian Alps is dig for gold, and the idea comthe little town of Omeo. The hills forted him : it seemed as if the around are scored with worked- Blessed Virgin herself had deigned out and long-forsaken gold mines; to point out a way of escape from here and there the thud of the this strange and homeless land. pick may still be heard issuing Many days he worked : the yellow from some deep shaft; but most mullock-heaps rose higher beside of the claims are deserted, and the the rapidly deepening shaft, when men who worked them swept away a long-limbed brown-faced Ameritowards other adventures, or lying can "jumped ” his claim. Batquiet and ambitionless under the tista had neglected to procure a Gippsland sod.
licence. Far up the mountain, where the At first he could not understand sarsaparilla hangs from the gum- what had happened : afterwards, trees its ragged flame of blue, is when he realised, he took his broad a deserted mine; great heaps of keen-edged knife, and laying it at yellow mullock line the shaft's the Madonna's feet, begged her to mouth; above, the windlass rots bless it, and having crossed himout its broken existence; and self, turned away and went down farther in the shadow an uneven the mountain-side till he reached mound, a broad crack, a post with the
He touched the Ameria piece of tin and the name can on the arm and pointed to his “ Battista” scrawled upon it, knife; the man from the States
laughed lightly; then they drew One of the early rushes had aside and fought together, and brought Battista to Australia, and Battista's foot slipped so that his drifted him to the little mining enemy escaped him; but that evencamp among the Gippsland hills. ing the American sold the mine to The men had laughed at his high- Termater Bill the storekeeper for pointed hat with its flapping curves, three long drinks and a new swag, and at his blue-and-gold image of going away to try his luck elsethe Madonna ; but Battista had where. As for Battista, he rewandered under the gum - trees, turned once more to his claim at and paid scant heed to them. the foot of the ragged-breasted Sometimes he had stooped to pick gum-trees, and here it was that up a piece of quartz and rub it Termater Bill found him. absently on his sleeve; and when "I've jest cum," he said, sitting the evening came he had taken up down on a great heap of mullock, his shepherd's pipe and sounded "to talk over that blanky claim. once more the airs he had played I reckon meself there is gold in in far off Abruzzi.
it.” At dawn, as Battista stood and But Battista answered that, gold watched the sun flame up in the or no gold, the mine was his, and east, and fall in a broad yellow he would kill any one who tried to stream upon the Madonna's image, take it from him. the thought came to him that Termater Bill was silent for a there where the ray fell he would while, and spat meditatively down
mark a grave.
the narrow shaft. At last he ob “Ther's gold in that claim,” he served in an undertone
cried fiercely. “The boys says that jumpt-up
Termater Bill spat on the ground busted blue doll o’yers brings and said, “Thet's so." luck."
“I tell you there is gold in that Battista did not understand the claim," Battista re - echoed with allusion to the Madonna, and made rising anger. no reply.
And Termater Bill spat on the Again there was a long silence : ground once more and repeated, at last Termater Bill rose and “Thet's so”; then had turned and stretched himself. “'Spose,” he gone down the mountain towards exclaimed, “I was ter give yer a the camp. “If it warn't for that fifteen years' lease, wi' a half share busted blue doll,” he repeated to in the profits, twud be a blanky himself —“the jumpt-up busted sight better than a poke in the thing." eye with a burnt stick." But The next day he came again and Battista went on digging, and paid sat down on an old hide bucket no heed to him, till after a while in front of Battista's hut. the storekeeper went away. bin fixin' things up a bit in my
Time passed by : the great mind,” he said ; "I reckon last mullock-heaps grew higher, but nite I was a bit ski-wift. Now Battista did not find gold. Some- 'spose,” he continued, taking off times Termater Bill strolled up and his hat and placing it before him asked him if he had "struck that on the ground, “that thar 'at is blanky lead yet?” Then Battista the Brown Snake Mine ; wall, us shook his head, but added that he knows their main lead runs purty knew the gold was there,—the slick to the nor'-east; say yer Blessed Madonna had said so. put in a drive by that tarnation Termater Bill spat down the long bit o' grass bush,” and he spat shaft and exclaimed, “That ther neatly into the centre of the spot jumpt-up busted blue doll gits me indicated, “wots ter prevent yer quite."
dropping on gold ?” But when night fell and gro Battista's lips relaxed into a tesque things moved in and out smile. Termater Bill rubbed the among the shadows, and the spirit sleeve of his shirt across his rough of desolation crept through the red face, glancing as he did so at bush, then had come into Battista's his companion. heart a great weariness of waiting,
"Luck is a thundering quare and he had flung himself down consarn,” be exclaimed, after a before the image of the Madonna pause; “I niver bottomed it me
self: if yer don't git it, it gits yer, And the little blue-and-gold an' I reckon the darned thing is figure had stared out into the the smartest wi' the gloves.” gathering darkness with its blank He took his pipe out of his meaningless smile as vacant and as mouth and pressed his horny thumb indifferent as before.
down on the red-hot ashes. It happened that in one of these “I wudn't lay too much on that moments Termater Bill had come jumpt-up blue doll, if I was yer," to the hut, and Battista, realising he said. that another person was present,
Battista smiled. “ Yer don't sprang to his feet.
understand," he answered.
And Termater Bill spat on the tista's grave beside his claim,-a ground. “Eh, thet's so," he said, crowd of idle diggers and dogs « thet's so."
One man, an old fosThere was a pause.
sicker, who was recovering from “But,” began Termater Bill. an attack of the jimjams (delirium 'Well,” said the Italian, tremens), and whose ideas were
“'Tis the tarnation grin on the still rather hazy, expressed a desire thing that gits me," the storekeeper to fight the corpse. burst out, “jest as if her was “Git up,” he said, “an' I will kinder larfin' at yer : her ain't no wrastle wi' yer; git up, yer mug that busted doll, I'll lay to blanked - out son o' a working that."
bullock, an' I will fight yer for a Battista frowned. “Yer don't note.” understand," he reiterated.
But the dead man lay still and Again Termater Bill spat on the paid no heed to him. ground. “Eh, thet's so,” he said, Termater Bill said he reckoned "thet's so."
the company wud 'low him to say A few weeks later a big bush a few words. fire swept across the hills, and the The company 'lowed him. storekeeper had enough to do with Some of the men sat down on out troubling himself about the the mullock-heaps and began to fill mine; but when a sudden change their pipes ; others stood about; of wind sent the fire raging and and one, a jackeroo,? took off his tearing through the Fainting hat and then rather sheepishly put Ranges and away in the direction it on again. of Mount Hopeless, he retraced his Termater Bill cleared his throat steps over the blackened ground and spat into the open grave. till he reached Battista's hut. It “Life," he said, was a jumpt-up was empty : close by the hide rope quare thing: there was they who dangled from the windlass; the bottomed payable dirt 2 fust go off, woods were silent except for the an' thar wa' they who-didn't.” crashing of some half-charred tree He was silent for a moment, and as it toppled over and fell with a rubbed his face with his sleeve. great splutter of cinders and wide “But," he continued, "maybe out swirling clouds of soft grey ashes; thar,” and he pointed vaguely and stretched face downwards, near towards a patch of sunset sky, the shaft's mouth, the Italian lay "across the Divide, they finds dead. Termater Bill turned the colour.” 3 He ceased speaking, body over.
and the men puffed away at their “Pegged out,” he said softly, pipes in silence : at last some one “the blanky cuss has pegged out.” suggested that it was time for the Then he turned to the door of the
corpse to “turn in." hut and stopped short. "No," he They lowered the dead man into exclaimed, "I reckon I won't : I the grave,—there was no coffin. reckon I cudn't stumick thet God's His arms had stiffened spreadcuss o' a grin jest yet.”
eagle fashion, and he lay sideways That afternoon they dug Bat- against the walls of the grave and
1 Jackeroo, a lately arrived colonist.
looked as if he were about to tista's coat from a bench, covered turn a wheel into eternity. They the small figure, then lifting it in shovelled back the earth rather his arms, carried it out and flung gingerly, avoiding the dead man's it down the deep shaft. face; but, after all, it had to be But under the gum-trees Battista covered the same as the rest. lay still, silent, satisfied. The When they had finished their task years went on, the bottom of the they strolled off towards the camp, shaft filled with water, and the only Termater Bill remaining be- mullock slipped back into it with hind. He went to Battista's hut a heavy splash; the windlass rotted and peered through the half-shut and grew green, and some one stole door: there in the corner the little the bucket and hide rope; far, blue-and-gold image stared, smil. far below in the valley the sweeting down inscrutable, indifferent. scented wattle burst into tufted Long the man gazed back on it; yellow balls, and the blue mists lay then with sudden determination
on Omeo. he entered the hut, and taking Bat