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THE SEA BIRDS'MESSAGE
4_ -- S-=
)ver the Sea
Stories of Two Worlds
Impbell Praed Countess De la Warr
Frederic E. Weatherly
'atchett Martin Hume Nisbet
M. Senior Clark H. B. Marriott Watson
A. Patchett Martin
Illustrated in Colour by
H. J. Johnstone T. J. Hughes R. Carrick, R.I.M.
SAnd in Black and White by
Emily J. Harding Marcella Walker
A. W. Wall
Ch. Guillaume & Co.
Griffith Farran Okeden & Welsh
SNewbery House, Charing Cross Road
The Rights of Translation and of Reproduction are Reserved
Children of Two Worlds.
By the EDITOR.
THE SEA-BIRDS' MESSAGE.
By MRS. CAMPBELL PRAED.
NAN. By FREDERIC E. WEATHERLY.
AT THE GATE. By the COUNTESS
DE LA WARR.
LOST IN THE BUSH. By MRS.
A TALE OF A THIEF. By H. B.
GRANDMOTHER'S PETS. By Miss
MARY SENIOR CLARK.
LEFT IN CHARGE. By HUME NISBET.
BERTHA AND THE SNAKE.
[ST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
THE SEA-BIRDS' MESSAGE. Colour plate by
H. J. JOHNSTONE.
Illustrated in Black and White by MARCELLA WALKER.
NAN. Colour plate by R. CARRICK, R.I.M.
Illustrated in Black and White by EMILY J. HARDING.
AT THE GATE. Colour plate by H. J. JOHNSTONE.
Illustrated in Black and Whit by MARCELLA WALKER.
LOST IN THE BUSH. Colour plate by
H. J. JOHNSTONE.
Illustrated in Black and White by EMILY J. HARDING.
A TALE OF A THIEF. Colour plate by
H. J. JOHNSTONE.
Illustrated in Black and White by EMILY J. HARDING.
GRANDMOTHER'S PETS. Colour plate by
T. J. HUGHES.
Illustrated in Black and White by EMILY J. HARDING.
LEFT IN CHARGE. Colour plate by
H. J. JOHNSTONE.
Illustrated in Black and White by MARCELLA WALKER.
BERTHA AND THE SNAKE.
Colour plate by H. J. JOHNSTONE.
Illustrated in Black and White by A. W. WALL.
Over the Sea, where our kinsfolk dwell
In cities built of their golden gain,
By Maori lakes, by the South Sea's swell,
In the Austral bush, or on station plain.
However the elders may fume and complain,
The children are singing, and shouting with glee,
In Shakespeare's tongue-to the gay refrain
Of old English pastimes-over the Sea.
Ye who hold forth in your clubs in Pall Mall,
Or squabble o' nights in the Parliament's fane,
0 dull Legislators, so anxious to tell
How to bind these lands in this bountiful reign.
Hark to these voices across the main !
,Grey Sophists be still-you will never agree:
But the bonny young bairns may be weaving a chain
To link us at Home to those over the Sea.
They can unite us; aye! firmly and well,
In the bonds of a love that should ever remain-
The youngsters who romp in a sweet English dell,
Or rouse the Bush echoes again and again.
They are our Law-givers honest and sane !
Ye, then, who pray that our Flag may fly free,
That England's proud might may ne'er weaken and wane
List to the little ones-over the Sea!
The lesson is nigh us. 0 do not disdain
Our wise little Solons, wherever they be-
They will unite us. So heed ye the strain
Of the children at Home-and those over the Sea.
THE SEA-BIRDS' MESSAGE.
THERE is a great lake in one of the inland
districts of Northern Australia. It is closed in
by green ranges, which slope down to a beach
of silvery sand. It has no outlet for its waters,
which are salt as the sea. Pelicans and wild
swans haunt its shores, and myriads of sea gulls
and marine birds hover upon its calm surface.
The lake is almost always still, for it is very
shallow and in seasons of great drought its
waters dry up altogether, and there is only to
be seen a vast basin of shining sand.
But this does not happen once in a great many years. At most times it has the appear-
ance of an untroubled sea, for it is not possible to see from one side across to its furthermost
shore. Tiny wavelets sparkle in the daylight as far as the eye can reach. The moon rises
from its waters, and the sun goes down beneath them in a glory of pink and gold, and the
horizon clouds take strange shapes which make them seem like the gates of some enchanted
city, or the trees in a dream garden.
Little Janie Galvin used to have all kinds of fancies about the lake and the distant
invisible shore. She was an odd imaginative child, and would remain on the beach some-
times for hours together, dreaming her child-dreams, and keeping so still that the pelicans
and ibises would come quite close to her, and the sea-gulls would swoop down and circle
round.her and her sickly little brother who lay sleeping in the warm sand at her feet; and
they would perch on the rocks near her, and would flap their wings and utter their strange
discordant cries, till she could almost fancy they had a story to tell her, or a message to
give from that land over the sea-for the lake was the sea to Janie; she could imagine no
The sea-gulls made her think of the wild swans of Hans Andersen's story-the
mistress on the station where her father was employed had sent her Hans Andersen
one Christmas time, and she had a notion that they wanted to take her and little Dick to
the opposite shore, and that there she should find Death's Garden, where God the Great
Gardener gathers His flower-angels, and that there her own mother who was dead would
come and meet them, and would take little Dick in her arms, and would lead Janie by the
hand-and so they would wander about together in the beautiful garden, and there would
be no more harsh words or cruel blows; no more frightened quiverings of little Dick's
feeble body, no more sobbings to sleep after unjust punishment, no more lonely longing
for the love which these two poor little children had lost when their mother left them.
Janie remembered her mother well, but Dick was only a tiny baby when she died.
It was to Janie that the mother had given the little boy, and almost her last words had
been, Remember, darling, to take care of baby; don't let any one be unkind to baby."
Perhaps the poor mother had been thinking then of what did happen a little later when
OVER THE SEA.
Joe Galvin brought home a stepmother to his children. It was quite natural that he should
marry again. What could a stockman do with two motherless mites on an out-station thirty
miles from the nearest women-folk ? And then his duty obliged him to be away from the
hut often for days and nights together, when it was mustering time and the cattle had to
be brought from round the lake. But it was a pity he should have married Polly Warren,
who was violent, intemperate, rough of speech, and hated sickly children.
Poor little Dick had a tendency to water on the brain, and he was often stupid and drowsy,
and slow in answering.his stepmother when she called him, and in obeying her commands.
She said he was obstinate and disobedient, whereas the child was only dazed and frightened.
Once she had beaten him severely, and Dick had been ill for days afterwards; and Janie,
remembering her mother's dying words, had vowed to herself that with her own little body
she would defend her baby-brother from being a second time so cruelly treated. A stray
blow now and then, a box on the ears, or an angry push were ordinary occurrences and not
so greatly to be minded, but to see Dick tied up to a rail of the stockyard and beaten like
a dog with the stockman's heavy whip was more than
Janie could endure And now this
was threatened a.:!ani. Dick had been
naughty. The st.:c kl- man was away, and
Polly Galvin had l.:l- dared that on
the morrow Diclk should be
taught by the I.-Ih i. which was mas-
ter,heorshe. Li, .. Janie had
pleaded, had ur_.:. Dick's delicacy
and the pos-' .sible conse-
quences to his feeble brain. In
vain had she entreated that she
herself might .. the punishment.
Polly was inexcia.bl. T I. boy had disobeyed
her: he should be sent to bed on bread and water at sundown.
To-night she did not choose to tire her arms further after her day's washing; and besides
there was grog in the house, and Polly wished to enjoy her evening glass undisturbed. On
the morrow she would be fresh for her brutal work, and she had something of the true
tyrant's pleasure in keeping her victim trembling in suspense.
Poor little Dick did indeed tremble and cry all that long evening, and Janie heard him
through the slab walls of the verandah-room where he was locked up, and where she was
not allowed to go to him. Janie's own small frame quivered and shook in helpless misery
What had she and Dick done that they should be used so ? Why did not God have
pity on them ? and oh if their own mother could look down from Heaven and see what
they were suffering, why did she not come and help them ?
All kinds of wild fancies and despairing resolves passed through Janie's brain. If she
could only get Dick away-if she could only hide him safe till her father came home !
Surely, for her dead mother's sake her father would prevent Polly from beating the boy.
He did not know-he could not know-how hard she struck; what her temper was when
it was roused, and how she hated little white-faced sickly Dick. Janie had heard her say
that she wished him dead. Perhaps on the morrow she meant to kill him. All Janie's
THE SEA-BIRDS' MESSAGE.
soul went out in passionate yearning for help. She prayed to God. She prayed to her
mother, and while she prayed sleep fell on her, and she dreamed that the help had come.
It seemed to her that she and Dick were on the sea-shore, and the sea-gulls were
gathered round them, and the birds' great white wings were like those of angels closing
them in from harm. Somehow the sea-gulls were not sea-gulls, but angels indeed with
kind faces, and one had the face of her mother. The mother-wings folded round the two
children, and seemed to lift them up in air, and Janie heard the dear voice say, My poor
babies! Mother will take care of you." Then she awoke, and the moon's rays streamed
into the room, and for a minute or two Janie fancied that those white wings were still
enfolding her. But it was only the white curtains of her little bed that flapped in the
night breeze. The wind had
risen, and outside o:n the lake shore she
could hear the wave .. rising and falling,
-~~~ ~~ ., -_.- ,-Li : 7-:- ..= UTM
and the curlews in
making their plain-
got up and dressed.
quite still, and she
the verandah to
could see Dick's
the moon's rays
all dressed upon a
and she.could hlr.r ti,
which seemed sti1 dlra'.-in
of very fear.
whispered softly, "d.lin't ciry; d: -i't
. ..' the bush were
'1 tive moan. Janie
t: The house was
S '\ crept out along
SDick's door and
S' the chink she
\ white face with
upon it, as he lay
S sack on the floor;
ti p from his heart out
S call uit. I'm coming to
you somehow. I'rm -, -.:in; to t.ke u .-- .. [. she can't hurt you.
Mother knows ; m ',thl-r ill ::,1: altr ".
The child stirred uni-.itily ; h-. ,-_ '- crnl,- hIalt a-leejp. Janie," he mut-
tered, I'm so frightened, Janie, Can't you come ?"
Janie stole back to the sitting room. Polly was sleeping heavily. Down by the fire-place
in a camp-oven was some new-baked bread, and Janie lifted the lid and broke off a three-
cornered piece, which she put in her pocket. She did not dare to take any other food from
the cupboard, for that was near Polly's room, and the door stood wide open, as is the way
in these bush-houses.
A daring project had entered the child's mind, and she went out again by the verandah
to the back of. the hut, where was the little skillin-room in which Dick was locked up. By
placing a forked log against the window-and oh! what an effort it was for the puny arms !
-she could just manage to clamber up, and presently she was at little Dick's side, and
bidding him "hush!" had lifted him in her arms, and was guiding him painfully down to
They stood out in the pale moonlight-the two children, free to roam whither they
would. The lake lay before them-a rippling sea tipped with moonbeams. Janie drew
Dick with her, and they ran along the beach and under the shadow of the rocks till they
reached a shallow cove which Janie knew.
There was a tiny floating islet at the point of the cove. It was the stump of an
OVER THE SEA.
ancient ti-tree, which had floated down from the bank of a creek, and gathering to itself
soil and refuse, had put forth quite a bushy crop of shoots from its half-withered stem.
The twisted mossy roots made a sort of arm-chair beneath the foliage, and hither Janie
had often brought Dick, and had sat with him for long hours, eluding her stepmother's
angry search. Here the gulls and pelicans perched, and to-night one white bird with
outstretched wings hovered over the greenery and seemed to Janie like the spirit of her
dream inviting her to seek shelter here.
With Dick still in her arms the little girl crouched in the hollow of the stump, and
leaned back so that the branches closed round them both, hiding them completely, and
leaving visible to them only the stars overhead. The night was very warm, and the
Southern Cross shone clear, though there were dark clouds low on the horizon. Dick
slept peacefully, and the gulls crouched on the furthest bough. By and by Janie slept
too. She slept so soundly that she had no sense of rising wind or of heaving waters.
When she awoke the sky was lightening. The rosy dawn seemed near, and the land far
away. Janie gave a little bewildered cry which awakened Dick. The two children
started up, and pushing aside the branches looked out from their retreat.
'- .-: _.
There was nothing round them but water. The floating islet had drifted away in the
storm, and they were far out on the great lake. No fear now of Polly's pursuit. She would
never guess where they had gone. The little waves splashed up against the log, and a flock of
sea gulls circled overhead. But for the gulls they were alone on what seemed the wide sea.
There are no tides nor currents on this shallow inland sea, and while the wind blew
from the slopes beneath which Joe Galvin's hut was built, the tree islet floated straight for
the opposite shore. But as the day got on the wind ceased, and the old stump lay like
some shipwrecked hull scarcely making any perceptible movement in the water. At first
the children were pleased with, the novelty of the scene and the situation. Dick liked to
watch the birds which still hovered about, and the tiny shell fish that clung to the rotting
stump, and the shoals of fish which could be seen distinctly through the clear water. They
ate their meal of Janie's bread, and the afternoon waned, and Dick began to get hungry
again, and cried himself into a troubled sleep. Janie's heart sank, and she wished that the
wind would rise and send the stump to shore again. But the wind did not rise, and the
child began to realize that unless rescue came they must perish of thirst and hunger upon
this motionless sea.
THE SEA-BIRDS' MESSAGE.
Late the next night Joe Galvin rode up to the station, the master of which employed
him, and wild with grief and excitement implored that a search party might be got
together to hunt for the two children, lost in the bush. He had come home that morning
to hear the news, and Polly in her remorse and anxiety had told him of her plan of
punishing Dick, and of how she feared that Janie had taken the boy away to escape the
beating she had threatened. Joe Galvin in his fury struck his wife and left her, while he
went wandering madly along the lake shore, and through the bush near the hut seeking
for tracks and finding none, for the rain of the night before had washed out all marks of
the little footsteps. Then he mounted his horse and galloped to the station for help.
It was not long before the search-party set out-the master and two young men of the
station, Galvin and four bush-trackers, each two going a different way and searching
during the night while the moon lasted. They beat about towards
different points of the lake h:'.re, and ii hen there came the pitch
darkness before dawn, they made
fires and coo-eed. And the master
tells how he and Galvin walking
together would ;? ;.. pause, and start,
and rush wildlyin some direction
when theyfancied a child's cry came,
only to find that -. :.. it was the cry of
a curlew or of .t; *- '" some other night
bird, or the sound of the wind
soughing eerily ". through the oaks.
The wind blk.' h-r.:el that night, and
the tree-islet with tlhe tv.: --" little beings upon
it drifted back to sl_:re. In '. the morning the
bush-boys found tracks of children's feet upon a sand hill near the lake. A shout of joy
went out, and with frenzied eagerness Joe Galvin followed the tiny footmarks. The trackers
lost them again, found them once more, followed them along a gulley bed, and once more
lost them. It was almost evening when they stopped at the foot. of a little stony hillock
attracted by an eagle hawk swirling in the air.
A terrible fear smote Galvin. He motioned to the master to go first, and hung back,
his limbs tottering, brawny bushman as he was, like the limbs of one faint to death. The
master stepped forward. It was under a rocky knoll overgrown with wattle and scarlet
kennedia that he saw the children lying. At first he thought that they had stopped to
rest, and were only sleeping. Dickie was clasped tight in Janie's arms, and Janie lay, her
head upon a stone, her face upturned with a smile upon her poor swollen lips. When he
went closer he saw that they were dead.
ROUND the cliff ran the pathway, and along the pathway darted a beautiful bright
butterfly, and after the butterfly darted Nan. What the butterfly thought about it all it
is impossible to say. Probably he observed that Nan did not run very fast, and accordingly
,felt perfectly safe. What Nan felt is'easier-to infer. Not that she was so very eager to
catch the butterfly after all: at all events, she soon stopped her chase and stood gazing out
to sea. What did she see ? A little cloud rising out of the
west, and a strange vessel on the horizon. Was it chance
or foreboding that made her gaze so
steadfastly and sadly :" yonder? What had
the. cloud in its bosom for her ? What was
the strange vessel bringing to her?
But the butterfly darted across her eyes
again, and once more _Nan took upthe chase.
Presently the sun sank, and a tender darkness
fell upon sea and shore, and the girl hastened
home to the litflevillage T that lay below.
Twelve years ago there was a wreck upon
that shore, a wreck. -.. caused by a storm so
terrible that the village had never forgotten it, and
seldom ceased to talk of it ,f whenevervr the sky and sea
were threatening. The '/ ~ip-a fine East India-
man-had been taken on a Lii' ken reef through the care-
lessness of a drunken pilot: and then the wind which had been blowing
strongly turned to a perfect hurricane, and the vessel was literally torn to pieces. Of the
whole ship's company, passengers and crew, only one was saved-and that a tiny baby just
born at sea and plucked from her dead mother's breast when the body was thrown ashore.
The baby is now a strong, bright girl; and you have seen her this afternoon chasing the
butterfly round the cliff, above the very sea where she may almost be said first to have seen
The lifeboat had gone out to the wreck but it was in.vain ; and the brave fellows who
A Quit mi
had manned her only saved their own lives by a miraculous chance. All the villagers were
out upon the shore, watching, praying, hoping, longing to be of some use. And it seemed
almost a mockery when for all their wishes to render assistance there was but one tiny babe
to need it. There was almost a competition for the privilege of giving the little one a
home, for the kindliness in the hearts of the villagers was not measured by their means.
But when by the advice of the parson and the doctor the honour was assigned to John
Brown's young wife who had not long lost her own baby, all. the villagers accepted the
decision and proffered such help as they could afford to Mrs. Brown, in the way of clothes,
food, and-above all-advice.
So Nan-they had christened her Nannie from a name they found engraved on a locket
round the neck of her mother-grew and flourished in her new home, without a single
relative to own kinship with her, but with such love as even relationship does not always
The Browns often speculated whether the child would ever be claimed; and as they
turned over the mother's clothes which they had religiously kept, they asked themselves
whether it was their duty to tell the child that they were not her parents. But the idea of
losing Nan who was now to them as their own child, and the improbability that she would
ever be sought for, made them shrink from telling her the story of her life. So they lived
on, putting out of sight the possibility of losing her, and she, knowing nothing and
consequently without doubts or apprehensions.
John Brown was a coastguard, and in the days of this little tale, coastguards had a great
deal more to do than look to sea a'nd chat to seaside visitors.
As Nan ran up the shingly path to the cottage, he was just starting for his night-watch.
"Why, Nan, my lass," he said, I thought you were lost, my pretty one," as she lifted
her face for his good-night kiss.
"Lost, father! That would be a fine thing, indeed," she answered. "No-I stayed
some time with Granny on the down, and then coming along the cliff path I tried to catch
a butterfly and-oh, father," she added, there's going to be a storm to-night, and I saw a
'strange ship in the offing."
And what of that, my lass ?" laughed Brown. Haven't you seen plenty o' strange
craft afore ? One 'ud think you expected some one aboard her." And so saying he
kissed the girl, and steadily wound his way up the cliff path to his beat at the top.
Some one aboard her! "
The words seemed to linger in Nan's ear.
But who that had anything to do with her could be aboard the ship ?
Nevertheless the girl could not get the words out of her memory, and as she sat at tea
with her mother" her thoughts kept with the strange ship, and with the storm that she
knew was coming.
The night drew on, and the wind was now blowing a heavy gale, and as the tide was
at the full, the noise in the bay was bewildering.
Anxious faces of women and children were pressed against the darkening window-
0 VER THE SEA.
panes, and men stood about in groups on the beach road, speculating, wondering, and
thankful they were safe ashore to-night.
Brown on his beat at the top of the cliff, and his wife in their cottage below both were
thinking of the terrible wreck just twelve years ago, when Nan came to bless their lives out
of the very jaws of death.
And Nan herself lay in bed, trembling as the storm shook the cottage, and still haunted
by the sight of the strange ship.
By this time the strange ship-a Dutch lugger-was close in shore, running helplessly
before the wind, and drifting right towards the fatal reef.
It was too late to warn her by rockets. 'No shouts or even
guns would have been heard in t he d in. She was doomed. The life-
boat was being hastily man n edJ, .. though it was but a forlorn
hope. Fires were being stirred : i in the cottages,' blankets
got ready in anticipation VM. of those who should be
saved, and all the place was alive with pity, hope,
and preparation. And then the vessel
struck. All was over in a ." few seconds, and nothing
remained of her save one mass of floating, drifting
timbers, and helpless, struggling bodies. For
years, Nan remembered the terrors of that night.
How she lay for a while trembling, and then at
last got up and joined her i "mother" at the door of
the cottage looking out into the blowing night:
how the lifeboat came back filled with half-
drowned creatures: how the men on shore cheered
as she put out to sea again: how the rescued crew
were carried here and there, ,on-e :- to one cottage, and one
to another: and, clearest of all, how to their cottage was
borne the body of a strange-l::i<- '- ing seaman, and laid
before the bright kitchen fire. Among the men who
carried him in was the village doctor, and seeing that this was a doubtful case he stayed,.
and-after long and patient rubbing, and expanding of the arms and legs, the seemingly-
lifeless body gave a struggle, and life rushed back to the white cold limbs.
The rest was easy, and the good doctor leaving the rescued man in Mrs. Brown's care,
passed on to see to others who needed his skill.
With morning, Brown came home, to find a strange man standing at his door muttering
and scowling, while his wife and Nan were within, worn out with their exertions, and
disappointed with the strange conduct of their ungrateful charge.
Look here, mate," he said-"it's bad luck to lose a berth.aboard of a good ship-not
as I thinks much of an Englishman who ships with a Dutchman as you.appear to have
done. But there ain't no call for you to be rough with those who've done their best with
you. So if you can't keep a civil tongue in your head, you'd best sheer off, or you and
I'll come to words."
"Better if they'd left me alone," growled the man. "What's life to them as hates
it? and he turned off to the village inn that lay across the way.
Brown thought this unwelcome guest was gone, and indeed, was not sorry for his
departure. But he was mistaken. Day after day went by, and he still stayed on at the Blue
Anchor, smoking, drinking, quarrelling, and swearing, till at last the Dutchman's mate, as
he was called, became a byword in the place.
One day Nan was passing the door of the Blue Anchor, when she heard a gruff voice
-" Come here." She looked up, and there on a bench sat, or rather
lounged, the "mate," hi I:ce :rim--.:n, hiiz eyes glazed and start-
ing, and an empty b..,- i mu arn. br oken pipe on the table
before him. Come he ,.'" h :--! sled.
Too terrified to refi .-. Naii ent up to him.
"Where yer o ing ? he asked, look-
ing hard at her. "Up to granny's, sir-
on the down," she answered.
The mate stag- gered to his feet,
and came so close to her that Nan shrank
back. Bending down till his bloated face
was almost touching hers, he seized hold
of her mother's locket which the girl had
worn for years. "Whose locket's
that ?" he shouted almost tearing it
from the child's neck.
But before he had A said or done more,
Brownsteppedacross ;4 the street, and came to
Nan's rescue. The mate now
seemed sobered, and "tc/ n to talk in maudlin
fashion. "The locket's mine. The
locket's her mother's. I gave it her. And they say she's drowneded. The kid's mine "
he added fiercely to Brown; and putting his arm round Nan he drew her to him--" Kiss
yer father, my dear."
Nan cried, and put out her arms to Brown. She only thought it was the freak of a
drunken man. But, Brown, with sick heart, felt it \vas all true. The long-dreaded trial
had come. The sea that had brought Nan to bless their lives was now the means of
Come across to my place," he said quietly : and the mate followed, still holding Nan's
hand tightly, as though determined to assert to the full his authority and power.
Needless to tell what followed. Dazed, besotted, brutal as he was, his story was too
circumstantial to be discredited, though Brown and his wife would not be convinced for a
OVER THE SEA.
long time : nor would they consent to give up the child till they had taken the advice of
the parish counsellors-the parson and the doctor.
But the trial of parting was prolonged, deferred ; for the father having established his
claim did not seem so anxious now to assume the responsibility. And Nan's
agony of parting, and her dread of the new life had been almost quieted
by mere postponement. r:ut it came at last.
She was to go t,:- mir:rro:.. .we vas to leave her real
parents, those who by the .-, tie: ,,t lI:,ve V..ere her only parents. How
she had prayed them keeFp her still, not to send her away,
not to give her up. :i- .. But v. ith breaking hearts they
told her she must go. 4 t A.-k now on the last evening
her little bed-the bed where she has slept
her "little mother" gazing listlessly across
the sea, remembering ..that stormy night
twelve years ago ", that brought the baby to
her. Nan is praying aloud.
It comforts "little r,.thier" to hear her pray.
"Our Father "-but be ot;reC '"'. she has finished she hears a
heavy, staggering step in the next room, and oath after
oath poured out as her "father" reels in from the Blue Anchor.
And this is the father to whom she must give up herself.
Yes, Nan. It is our Father's will; and He will help you in the new life: He will
bless all you do to win him back to something of his old innocence: He will console you
for the loss of those you must leave; for He is "our Father who, though in Heaven, sees
and loves all on earth.
AT THE GATE
AT THE GATE
"WHEN will dear father come ? Me so tired of waiting, Sissy, dear, and me do want my
supper!" lisped a rosy-faced little maiden of five years old, seated one lovely summer
evening on the gate leading (as you will see by the picture) to their sunny home-
stead-a real picture of a genuine farmhouse, beautifully situated in a grassy dell, with a
tiny stream (the delight of the children) trickling through it a few yards from the house.
"Don't be impatient, Rosie, dear," answered the older sister who was standing by her.
The longer you wait the more
.; "IC you will enjoy your supper when
''" you get it; and see, darling," she
continued, shading her eyes with
S--" her hand as she looked down the
'-' ". -. glade, "see, here comes father, so
'... jump down and let us run and
-... i .; meet him."
.-^,^.,1, With these words she helped
"" 'the child to spring down from the
S .gate, ,and hand in hand they ran
,.. -.. *. as fast as little Rosie's. fat legs
.- all, cd of towards their father, who hurried to
tL I.. -, m
.-.- a.pp,:r.aching, and with a kiss for the elder, sprang
-- his little pet off the ground to his shoulder,
and hastened homewards. To Rosie's delight,
a plentiful supper of home-made bread and
butter, new-laid eggs, and bowls of milk, spread on the whitest of table-cloths, was awaiting
them, and the mother, who had also been on the look-out for some time past, now devoted
herself to satisfying their wants, especially those of the hungry little child.
What has so delayed you, father, dear ?" she at last questioned the good man of the
house. I began to think you were lost."
OVER THE SEA.
Well, wife, I will tell you. I have had an adventure to-day which might have ended
badly enough, but thanks to the big lump of plum-pudding you made me take away with
me this morning, instead of ending badly, see here And taking a purse from his trousers
pocket, to the astonishment of his wife, he counted out on the table before her fifty golden
She could hardly believe her eyes, and lifting up her hands in astonishment, exclaimed:
Why, John, dear, what is the meaning of it all ? Are you dreaming, or am I ? For what
can my plum-pudding have to do with all that gold ?"
The children meanwhile gazed with, wide-open eyes, and all anxiously awaited the
Yes, wife," he said, laughing at their bewilderment, "you may indeed be surprised, but
I went off to market this morning somewhat in a hurry, as you know, and on my way
back through the woods, about five miles from there, seeing that my watch pointed to
twelve, I was thinking I might have a rest and eat my dinner, when I suddenly heard voices
and the tramp of approaching feet, and became aware that a shooting party was close at
You know how fond I am of sport, and I thought I would watch them at it a bit, but
not to disturb the gentlemen, I kept on the opposite side of the hedge, where I had a good
view of their proceedings.
AT THE GATE.
"They were good shots, the whole lot of them, and many were the rabbits I saw rolled
over, and the partridges that fell to the ground killed outright, and not only wounded, I was
glad to see. At last in my excitement I was standing at a low part of the hedge when one
of the gentlemen perceived me and called out, 'Here, my good fellow, just hold my gun
while I get over the hedge into the next field. I caught sight of a fine covey of partridges
out yonder, and must have a shot at them.'
"Of course I took the gun which was held out to me across the hedge, but whether the
trigger caught on a bramble bush or what really happened I don't know at this moment-
bang went the gun, and down I fell unconscious.
"When I came to, which was pretty soon it appears, I found brandy was being poured
down my throat, and was aware of eager inquiries as to whether I was hurt.
Well, I felt stunned-like by my fall, and made sure I was wounded, especially when I
saw a hole or two in my coat ; but, would you believe it, the shot had embedded itself in
that precious slice of plum-pudding in my breast-pocket instead of going into me, and so
here I am, sound as ever.
The gentlemen around me seemed heartily glad that no harm had happened, especially
the one to whom the gun belonged, who seemed to consider himself responsible for the
accident, for which he expressed great concern. He helped me up and shook hands with
me, taking this purse out of his pocket, which he put into my hand, saying:
"'Take this, my good fellow, as an earnest of the relief I experience from what might
have been a day of remorse to me for the rest of my life. That slice of plum-pudding has
been a kind of talisman, and I am going to ask you for a piece of it to take away with me
in remembrance of a day's sport that might have had a tragical ending.'
"And he took the bit I broke off, and went away hurriedly with his friends as if he
wished to escape from my thanks as soon as he felt sure that I was all right and required
no further assistance.
The shock, however, had rather upset me, and it took me some time to get home, as I
rested more than once by the way, though most anxious to get back to all my dear ones."
During the recital of the farmer's adventure the poor wife had hardly been able to
control her emotion, and at its close she got up and embraced her husband fondly, saying :
" How can I be sufficiently thankful to have you safe home ? Little did I think when I
gave you that bit of pudding as the first thing that came to hand this morning for your
dinner, because you seemed in a hurry to be off, that it could have averted a danger. But
don't cry, children. Let us be thankful for all mercies, including the good fortune that has
befallen us. With this purse of gold we shall be able to do all kinds of things. To-morrow,
father, dear, old Dobbin must be harnessed directly after breakfast, and we will all drive to
the town and get the children the new clothes they are so much in want of."
"And a boo'ful talking dolly for me," chimed in a little voice.
"And a real feast next week to which we will ask all our poorer neighbours," said the
elder girl; "and let us have the blind fiddler to play to us, and mother must make such a
big plum-pudding as never was seen."
0 VER THE SEA.
"Yes, yes," assented the mother, "whatever you like best, dears, but you must really be
off to bed now, and be up early in the morning for our start."
The next morning by daybreak the little household was all astir-Rosie chattering away
as fast as her tongue could wag, while her elder sister was trying to dress her under
conditions of the greatest difficulty as the child would not stand still a moment.
After a hasty breakfast, old Dobbin in the cart came round to, the door, and the party
having taken their respective seats started off in high glee.
"Gee up, old horse !" said the farmer as he took the reins, "get over your nine miles as
quickly as you know how."
Dobbin, responded by putting his best foot forward, and soon settled down into a
It was a pleasing sight on that lovely morning, to see the happy family overflowing with
-' '', .',''
pleasure and ..: it.: n _' i t. r't- I!' -4.'L
ing for a day.- l" erj.i -m nt. i
eachother's so:!eti-. Tihe-. all
thoroughly enj.i,:yed the dri.,
to the town, arnd then the ire-3al ,I
business o: the day bi.-an.. l
First the dinner at the Inn--
which had all the charm of
novelty for the children-then the shopping; getting their finery and choosing Rosie's doll,
which was a. long operation, for never having been in that fairyland for children-a toy-
shop-before, when the child found herself there, she nearly lost her head.
The rows of dolls bewildered her by their number and variety. Blue-eyed, dark-eyed,
flaxen-haired, brown-haired, dressed and undressed darlings-some in baby clothes, others
in walking attire, and even grand ladies with sweeping trains, moving arms and legs, saying
papa and mamma, and all casting appealing glances at Rosie as if they were saying: I do
so want a change-I should like to come an'd be your little girl-pray, pray, buy me "
And not of course being able to buy all she at last decided on a big baby-doll because it
looked so gentle and sweet, and she thought it would be quite like the little sister she had
always longed to have.
AT THE GATE
Some of the dolls looked so grand they quite frightened her, and then there were so many
wild animals in the shop with fierce eyes that she was quite glad to get away from them-bears,
elephants, camelsand even crocodiles thatshe had hitherto only seen in picture-books-although
they were standing quietly on the shelves, she felt alarmed at being in such company.
But the crowning treat of the day was when their father took them to the circus which
was holding its performances in a large
field just outside the town. Rosie's -_-
excitement knew no bounds at the ,.
sight of the clowns and ponies and
performing dogs, the fairy-like beings
in their short muslin skirts jumping
through paper hoops, or gracefully
standing on one leg while their horses -.
galloped wildly round the arena-all -
this was such a scene as she had never
imagined, and she rubbed her eyes and
pinched herself to make sure that she was really a %a.i; '
and that it was her very own self beholding all .thi.
It was a very tired little girl who \\ia at Li.t i J '
tenderly lifted into the cart and ended by sleping aill
the way home. The good housewife had n,-.t I.:,rgott.in
either to get all that she wanted for the cor:in iait '' '' *"
to the neighbours, and during the next fev.' JI y; Llit-
farm-house was in a busy whirl of preparation. On
the day appointed for the -gathering not one was
absent who had been invited. The table had been spread under a big tree in front ot
the house and amongst all the good things on the board, the most conspicuous object was a
huge decorated plum-pudding. After dinner, and before they began to dance on the green,
the worthy farmer's health was drunk'by all present, and he was begged on all sides to relate
the story of his adventure. He did not require to be asked twice, and the history of the lucky
slice of plum-pudding became the topic of conversation for many a day afterwards all round the
country-side. All the good wives took to making plum-puddings and insisting on stuffing a
piece into their husbands' pockets when they left home, not thinking that if a similar accident
should befall them the shot might not another time happen to lodge on the plum-pudding side.
The fifty pounds was only the beginning of the farmer's good luck, for it was invested in
a manner that turned out so well that he was at last able with the proceeds to buy some
land and eventually possess a snug little farm of his own.
Every year seemed to increase in prosperity and he passed the remainder of his days in
peace and comfort surrounded by his children's children who were never tired of hearing
the story of the reason why their mothers loin ago waited for him so long at the gate.
LOST IN THE BUSH.
IT was a very hot day, and a hot day in Australia is something that English children
will hardly be able to picture to themselves, so much hotter is it than the hottest day they
can possibly think of. But they can at any rate know by their own experience how
restless it makes children even in a temperate climate, and can remember times when their
elders have said, Do be quiet, children, and sit still, if you can; you make yourselves so
much warmer moving about." And this was just what a tall, slim Australian girl of sixteen
was saying to her younger brother and sister, who seemed to fancy that any other place
must be cooler than the particular spot in which they happened to be at the moment.
Sakes alive, children! don't be worrying -round like this, for I can't do with your
fidgeting at all. Father will be wanting his clothes looked after a bit if he's going from
home for a week, and all Mrs. Wright's time is taken up cooking and cleaning while the
shearing's going on. One good job, that'll be over to-morrow. He's very rough on his.
shirts, is father," continued the girl as she took up one of the flannel garments in question
from a pile lying on the table by which she was standing.
"Oh, Belle!" cried a little eager voice, "is the shearing to be over to-morrow, and
mayn't we go to the shed now this very minute and watch Jim Long?" and the little girl
caught her breath with excitement as she turned her pretty flushed face up to her sister.
"They do say that Jim can shear a hundred in a day all to himself," broke in Master
Tommy; "a hundred, Belle, think of that! But I believe it, 'cos he put a new blade into
my penknife, and he made that old watch of father's to go, and he can dance a hornpipe
better nor any of the other hands, Jim can."
And Tommy looked round on his small audience with an air of triumph, as if he had
proved Jim Long's capabilities in the sheep-shearing line beyond the shadow of a doubt.,
Belle, still busy with her inspection of'her father's garments, smiled at her brother as,
she said, "Why not say at once, Tomiiy, that Jim Long's a sailor, or has been one
anyhow, and that sailors are handy-and strong-and gentle-and kind," with a little
break between her sentences, as herro-ice sank gradually into a soft murmur, just as if
she were talking to herself.
"But, Belle, you haven't answered," interrupted Libby; "you haven't said if we may go."
,':- ^ / ,.- ,-j ^
:, ~~I 1/1
~0~- ? ~,
C~ ~~ ~' '
'C CI a:
s irl4.F:~ ci:
,, Yr 'auu~.
teL~' a "'if
sx :f i';
LOST IN THE BUSH
LOST IN THE BUSH. 25
"Well, if you promise to be very good, and not get in the way, or go out of the shed,
until the sun goes down a bit. My word but you'll be baked before you get there. Why
can't. you bide in till evening, Liberty ? I never did see such a ramping child."
Tell you what, Belle," interposed Tommy, with an air of settling the whole matter,
" you give us a bit of that cake I saw you baking yesterday, and a bottle of cold tea, and
we'll take it with us and have it in the shed. Ain't I a fellow to think of things just ?"
Yes, yes cried Libby, clapping her hands at the prospect of anything out of the
usual way, especially when a big sister is too busy to tell stories or do anything
except "bother ov.:"r --ilri,'. i... .
"I suppose y.:'.i I-.i-t .,. :i th,. .:-!:r i Ir u.antly; "butmind
and be in by supip'--timn t'-, 'll t r -.n.J it l .A- iust likelyhe might
be off to-night and ni-ot : .. t .. i till ti i.,,r'.ri g.
And with lh:t I ,.it' : up their old sun-
burnt, shady, st -,. I. :.A 111 .! were always hang-
ing up within readc. t t,- pair stepped out
into the glar- : :i nshine, one taking
the piece of .-,e and the other
the bottle of tea, which they
each slipped .. into a pocket as
they started off to the
shearing-shed. "- sabe 1,
Tommy, and Elizabeth,
who was called Liberty" on
account of her fearless spirit
and daring ways,were the
three surviv- ing children
of James a Benson, the
overseer at Korang, an
"up-country" station in
Queensland, witl about as big
a sheep-run as any in the district. He
had had a great misfortune before he came there about four years ago, when Belle was a
lanky girl of twelve, and Tommy and Liberty were eight and five years old. Everybody
felt sorry for the sad-looking man with the three children in their black clothes, for
their mother with her baby-girl, and a boy two years older than Tommy had all been
drowned in a flood that had taken place at a little township on the banks of a creek a few
miles from some new diggings, where James Benson had been what they call prospecting,"
which means looking for gold.
It was a sad story. The flood had risen so suddenly that the mother had only time to
snatch her baby out of its cot wrapped in a blanket, and the father took his boy up in his
arms, and they stepped out ankle-deep in water on the threshold of their cottage which
O 'ER THE SEA.
was very soon after washed away by the force of the current. James Benson managed to
hoist his wife up on a limb of a fallen tree, and to get up there himself with Ned, and the
house-dog who had followed them jumped up too, shivering and whining with fright.
But after a time. the father and the boy were knocked off by a big log that struck
Benson on the arm with which he was holding on, and though he managed to get to
another tree with the boy on his back, the poor child at last slipped off his father's
.shoulders into the water, while the tree, to which the mother still clung with her baby, was
swept down quite far away from the other two. It was a pitch dark night so that they
could see nothing, and the rain coming down in torrents.
The next morning .-t! I..|it'-. which had been
sent out in search. ,.:i r- .. ..... upon Benson wan-
dering about not v,- ..0 r far from the place
where the cottaL- had stood; he was
much exhausted '''- and battered about,
and seemed like a man who had lost
his wits. The bodies '. of the wife and
children were not recovered till the
next day, one of them quite four
miles down the stream, ard all
some distance from each other.1
In the midst of his grief and misery
at this terrible .' blow James Ben-
son was yet able to thank God that
three dear chil- .: ren were still left to
him. They had E..',:i staying at the
time with a relative in another r part, having
been attacked by c.i-- ,:hildish malady which
the other two had not taken, and as the baby
was delicate, it was thought better to send them away, and they were thus spared the sad
fate of the others.
Belle did her best to comfort her father in his affliction, and to be a mother to-her younger
sister and brother. No children were better looked after or cared for, and it was very rarely
that she allowed Liberty away from her side, though Tommy, who was now ten years old, was
growing into a nice companion for his. father, who often took him with him on his rounds.
So it was rather in the way of a treat that the two started off together for the afternoon
all by themselves.
We must follow them to the big wool shed, at one end of which they went and sat
down on an upturned bucket, opposite to the long row of shearers. It was a capital place
to see all that was going on, for in front of every man on the other side of the shed are
SThis is a true incident.
LOST IN THE BUSH. .27
narrow doors opening into little pens into which each sheep is hustled after having been
deprived of his fleecy covering. Although the men are too busy to talk much to each
other, there is a constant hubbub going on, and I regret to say, some swearing and bad
language as the poor frightened animals are dragged one by one to the shearers. When
once held down with a knee pressed upon them, they are generally quiet enough, but
sometimes they shrink or wriggle about in the shearer's hands, and get a sharp snip which
requires to be daubed with tar to make it heal. A lot of boys do this standing by the
pens with their pots and bru-_h.- and thl,: m.l.:.- :a Id-i' .- .it the cut as the animal
rushes into its pen, fi...m hitch thi:'-y alte v\ ard- ti.irn z.. .. it out into a big pad-
dock. One sheep with an i. i,.--l:.;.l;i, I 'i3 cut in his neck ran
close'up to the chil.-li-n, lanlid Libby's tender
child's heart grew siclk -t th: ,i: ..' of the bleeding
wound. s'. "Oh! Tommy,
that poor sheep! I don't like it-I
can't bear it-let us go."
"I don't care if vw ,.:," L:id ,ll Tommy, with an
air of kindly giving ,:.- t. girl, "the place
.d egirl, th place
smells so, I couldn't e at mi / cake here any way.
Let's go down to the cre. k." "No,"said Libby,
with the colour cmnl- / !.. and going in her
sensitive little fa.:, "There's some-
thing I've been ~ wanting bad to do
ever since Sunday. Do you mind how
the preaching man told us Jesus did
want the children to come to Him,'
and how he said .'. something about
'seeking Him early a,-dJ finding Him.' I
want to go and find Him :ir 1 He can't be far off.
It's over there, Tommy," she said, pointing towards
a belt of gray gum 'trees and green scrub in the distance.
"How do you know, silly ?"
"'Cos he pointed over there. Oh! he told it all plain enough-not to turn either to the
right or to the left-and 'straight is the way and narrow the path.' It will be quite
easy to find, and we'll be back soon, so Belle won't mind. Come, Tommy."
And the child as usual got her own way, as hand in hand they set off on their quest..
Six hours later it was ten at night. The intense heat of the day had been followed by a
thunderstorm, and the two frightened, exhausted children were crouching down in a tangled
thicket, into which they had crept for shelter.
Oh! Tommy, we are lost. Do you think they will ever find us ?"
"Of course they will in the morning," said the boy bravely. "Don't you remember when
we were lost before ?"
28 OVER THE SEA.
"Yes, and I was;littler then; and Belle was lost too, and she carried me in her arms.
Oh! dear, dear Belle, she will be so miserable;" and as she thought of the kind sister at
home, Liberty's voice broke into sobs, and her whole little frame was shaken with grief.
"Don't cry, Libby; it will be only for a night. We had better stay here quietly till the
morning, for the rain can't beat in here, and it is too dark for us to find our way out. Let
us say our prayers, and lie down and try and go to sleep. Perhaps Jesus is near us all
It was on a Tii, -_-l ,-iftl r- n1-..-.n when James
Benson's two chilJ 1in l- t i l,:, me. Search part-
ies were told o:f thirt. ..". evening to
seek them in dii: rlt d directions.
Jim Long was ,t the head of
one of them, aniid "J-'i the anxious
father was with I r another. Their
efforts, how- ever, were
the evewas ail
fruitless until 4- the evening
of the following I Friday,when
Jim Long's t party found
them lying "n! side by side
under giant g um t r e e
Tommy had 4 sm t g -6 taken off his
jacket and rolled it up
under his little sister's head;
he was alive, but almost
delirious with ad hl eerr, and Libby
seemed quite iTn- --.ibe when Jim
Long tenderly lifted her up and took her
into his strong arms. They fortunately came across the other party on their. way back,
which was headed by Mr. Benson, who at once took his boy from the man who was
carrying him. Tommy seemed to recognize his father, and when safe at home again,
a little revived by the nourishment which Belle gave him, he was able in interrupted
sentences to tell them something about their terrible experiences.. But though the lovely
little body which had held in bondage the eager, ardent soul of Liberty Benson was even
then lying on Belle's bed in the next room, the dear child herself was no longer with those
who had so loved her on earth.
Liberty had joined her mother, for she had found Him whom she sought, and had
opened her blue eyes in Paradise.
-' -~- D an-- r ^ .
~- _-p~~ ~'I*r
A TALE OF A THIEF
THE TALE OF A THIEF.
DOLLY, who had run over to the Ashursts to tell Dick her good news, was met at the
door by Mary, whose pretty face was troubled.
Dolly! Dolly !" she said, we are in such trouble. Such a dreadful thing has happened."
"Not Dick ? Dolly faltered. She hated to think Dick was in disgrace.
No, dear," said Dick's sister tearfully. "Far worse. Papa's lost papers which are ever
so important. He left them on his study table when. he was, called into lunch, and when he
got back they were g-nr-i. The Nd.i had bee-n r Ict open, and some one must
have come in and 1tin them."
"I'm so sorry," said Dolly. Were
theyveryimportant?" f e More than 1
can say," answered -m : Mary. "They were
lawyer's papers, you know, and papa
says we are ruined. 'now they are gone.
We've been hunting for them ever since,
but can't find a trace of them."
Dolly sat down silently in the
dining-room. to wait for Dick. She
didn't quite, under- ; stand how a lot of
papers could be worth so much, but she
s le nc made Dolly ail terribly put out.
saw the Ashursts were all terribly put out.
Mr. Ashurst was walking restlessly
up and down the .' 4 room without
saying a word, and Mrs. Ashurst was
staring miserably out i ofthewindow. The
silence made Dolly so uncomfortable that
she was quite pleased -- 1., to hear a noise of
feet in the hall, and immediately after-
wards. the door opened, and a
bright-faced boy of thirteen entered.
"I say," he broke out; "has any one seen Beppo ? I can't find. him anywhere."
Hush said Mrs. Ashurst gently. Don't trouble us just now, Dick."
Dick stared with astonishment first at his father, then at his mother, and finally at Dolly,
whose eyes were very grave ; then he jerked his thumb towards the door. Dolly nodded,
and feeling glad to escape she slipped out after him. When they were outside Dick said,
OVER THE SEA.
"What's the row about ?"
Oh, Dick, they've lost some lawyer papers, and Mr. Ashurst says you're ruined."
Pooh said Dick. It isn't as bad as that. I've lost Beppo, but I don't make a fuss
Beppo !" echoed Dolly scornfully. As if a monkey mattered like papers !"
"Well, it can't be helped," replied Dick cheerfully. I say, Dolly, will you come and
look for Beppo with me ?"
Dolly shook her head. "I can't. Papa is coming home to-night, and I want to get
some holly to decorate the dining-room."
"Pooh!" said Dick; "what a girl's idea Well, I'm off, if you won't come." -
Dolly watched him go a little sadly, for she would like to have had him with her; then
calling to her Raggles, the big black retriever / who was wandering about in the
garden, she set off J'd:. n th..- lane t[,-jjrds tlhe :, n '. D.i',-. had not seen her
father, who had becen av..l- :.n ti-he co:.- tin-int, I.:.r months, and it was no
wonder that she tiripp-ed.-J -.:.. i.\-rr..:.:-- :he ihed- v ith Raggles at her heels.
She was going tc. :lthr I.l : a nd la.iie, and oak-leaves, and all
kinds of pretty tr: nii thini-. 'i the d,:. n: to deck the house
for his.return, an.d thi- i-i. e t1 merry. She climbed
up the long slopirng pith:.' a lo ,, climb it was) till the old
church steeple .g:.t s!.il"-r : '. and .- smaller in the distance.
Raggles, who wa co c.ialld ~' Lbcc.i-se his black coat was
covered with little r:t 1 Jd ;_ c.ir ls, followed her de-
murely until t!, reached level ground,
when he flung hin- .. in the grass and
rolled about into .e all kinds of funny
shapes, puffing and sniffing all the
time. "Now, Raggles,
you wild dog," *..". .' said Dolly, "we
must work first and play after-
wards." At this rebuke
Raggles got up, g.a,,, c himself a shake,
and then stood -till with his eyes on
his mistress, as if t.. \v, h-it aei your commands ?i
I'm ready." Dolly ,tre. th. :e, open wood, on the edge
of which they had halted, and was soon busy among the holly bushes. Raggles stood and
watched her, following her from tree to tree and now and then getting in her way and
almost tripping her up in his anxiety to help. The bundle of holly grew so quickly that
when she had finished picking she looked at it in dismay.
Oh, dear me she cried, "there's far too much here. I can't carry all this. But I
know-Raggles shall carry it." Whereat she plumped down on the ground, and.began
weaving long strips of holly and oak together into garlands. Raggles sat on his haunches
looking at the operation with great interest, but he was surprised when Dolly threw one of
these prickly-looking things round his neck. At first he was inclined to resent it, but she
soon coaxed him into a good humour.
Now, Raggles," she said, "be cheerful. Remember Papa is coming home to-night.
What, you won't ? Wag your tail, sir, this moment 1 That's right. Now stand Up! up!"
THE TALE OF A THIEF. 31
One of Raggles's accomplishments was the ability to stand on his hind legs like a poodle.
He was very proud of this feat, and so at Dolly's bidding he at once stood up. Dolly
clapped her hands and laughed.
Oh she said," let us dance, Raggles," and she took another necklace of leaves and
put it round her own neck.
Now then, set to partners, Raggles."
Gravely Raggles turned towards her, his paws waggling in the air, and the garland
swinging about his neck. Dolly took hold of the corners of her frock and courtesyd
politely. The pair looked so very funny that it ought not to have surprised Dolly to find
some one laughing at them ; but it did. A low chuckle came from some where in the bushes.
Dolly stopped suddenly. Raggles came down upon his forelegs, and cocked up his ears.
The chuckle was repeated. Raggles growled.
"Good gracious What's that, Raggles ?" asked Dolly in a whisper. Then came a
hoarse sound of coughing and more chuckling, and Dolly
began to feel frightened. Rag"les tore away from her
grasp, and rushed int. tlh> bLh'-uihe L.A l:i,, furiously; and then
suddenly Dolly. a i. i- tti : l: f !: .: -, and his tail
begin to wag. :S .l....=..: un .cautiously, and
pushingsomebr.riich: aI:,t '- \ saw to her
amazement a rn.:.: seated in the
middle of a lar.- iu ipi.. r bush, looking
lazily down at Ra-.. who was re-
garding him wi.l tle '-' friendliest of
wags. The monl.:;. had a huge
white roll of .' paper in -his
hands, the end of which he was
chewing and spitting out.
"W hy, it's '' ".. Beppo!" cried
Dolly aloud. Won't Dick be
glad? Beppo Beppo! she
called coming close to the
bush. But i Beppo only
chuckled and "I. spluttered, and
clutching his [:per retreated fur-
ther into the 'P bu:l h.
"Whatever has he got?" thought Dolly.
"He's stolen something. Oh!" In a second it occurred to her what it was. Oh, you
horrid little thief! It's the lawyer's papers she cried indignantly. Give it to me, you-
you-robber," with which she made a jump to reach him, but Beppo merely chuckled again,
and skipped higher up the bush.
Now Dolly was determined to get this paper which she had been told was so important,
though she didn't understand how it could be. She couldn't go back and tell Dick or Mr.
Ashurst, for fear that Beppo should take it into his head to go away meanwhile. All that
could be done was to try and get it from him herself. But Beppo was not in the least
disposed to let her have it. On the contrary, he grinned and retreated further into the bush
whenever she came near him.
OVER THE SEA.
Dolly walked all round the bush to see how she could best get at him. It was not a
very big bush, and she found that by climbing a little way up it she could reach right into
the centre. This she did, Beppo facing her, and chewing away at the paper in the most
unconcerned manner. But just as she thought she had him, he slipped down the other
side on to the ground, and darted over the grass towards another bush. Off flew Dolly in
hot pursuit, and off rushed Raggles, barking with excitement at the chase. Beppo hopped
along, trailing the roll behind him, and dashed into the bush before they could catch him.
Here however, he did not stay long, as Dolly displaced him from it once more. Off he
hopped again, Raggles and Dolly after him. There were no big trees about just here, so
that he had to keep going from bush to bush. But he kept this up so long .that poor Dolly
grew breathless and quite cross. On, on they went, pursuers and pursued, Beppo chuckling
and chewing, Raggles barking noisily, and Dolly hot and tumbled. As Raggles dashed
along the holly garland round his neck kept catching in the bracken and tripping him up.
At last they came to a place where the downs sloped gently, and the wood grew thicker.
Dolly was now very tired and breathless, but she was not going to give in, so when Beppo
took a sudden turn, and with a squeak of delight hopped down the slope, she ran pell-mell
after him. Alas, poor Dolly! she tripped, and-crack! crack !-tumbling through a lot
of withered branches, she fell down-down-down !
How funny the world was What a lot of things were floating in the sky! Which side
up were the trees ? Was she going through the earth ? Dolly sat up and looked round,
Behind her was a long steep slide down which she had tobogganed. She had fallen into an
old grass-grown quarry. In front of her was old Raggles, his big brown eyes regarding her
inquiringly, while (good gracious!) on the bough of a tree above her head was Beppo coolly
chewing the paper. Dolly wasn't hurt, though she felt a little giddy at first.
What a long way I've fallen she thought; I wonder if Dick ever slid so far ?" Then
she looked at Beppo. "Oh, you little creature, you !" she said, shaking her fist at him; but
he only grinned and went on chewing.
Oh she cried, if I don't make haste, there'll soon be no paper left to get."
Beppo, however, was not a bit more willing to give up his booty; he evidently thought
it good eating. Dolly was in despair, and felt inclined to cry out of vexation. She had had
a big tumble, and her frock was torn, and she had made herself hot and untidy all for
nothing. She took off her hat and hung it on the bough above her, and was proceeding to
smooth out her hair, and fan her cheekswhen what was her surprise to see that ragamuffin
Beppo coolly throw down the roll of paper, and, springing forward, snatch up her hat!
Leave that alone, you nasty little thing," she cried indignantly, jumping to her feet;
but Beppo was already at the top of the tree where he seated himself securely, and
impudently stuck the hat on his own head. He was such a comical sight that although
Dolly was very cross she couldn't help laughing.
Oh, well," she said at last, I'm certainly not going to try and catch you any more.
I've got the papers."
Beppo jabbered away as much as to say-" and I've got the hat."
Raggles barked indignantly, not thinking it right that his mistress's property should be
stolen in this way.
Come along, Rags," said Dolly. It's only an old hat, and I can easily get another.
You little thief!"
So saying, she took the papers in her hand, and walked off down the pathway in a very
THE TALE OF A THIEF.
dignified manner, Raggles following reluctantly. In spite of losing her hat she was quite
pleased to have got the papers, and she made up her mind to come back for the holly, as
there would be plenty of time when she had told the good news to the Ashursts. When
she had got out of the wood and was crossing the fields she heard a little squeak, and
looking round, to her astonishment saw Beppo dancing along after them, dragging the hat
behind him by one of its ribbons. Dolly stood still and he slowly approached her;
stopping every now and then to jabber in a deprecating way.
"You ought to be ashamed of yourself," she said earnestly when he had reached them.
And Beppo did seem ashamed of himself, for when Dolly bent over him and lifted her
finger gravely to rebuke him, he showed his teeth and chattered away in a very submissive
and appealing manner; and he put out his hand with the ribbon in it, as if he wanted to
restore Dolly's property to her. She took it, saying-
Well, I'm glad to see you are ashamed of yourself."
Beppo seemed to take this as forgiveness, for he gave a complacent little gurgle, and
hopping off jumped right upon Raggles's back, where he held himself on by means of the
little black curls. And in this way the three proceeded into the village.
How overjoyed Mr. and Mrs. Ashurst were at getting back the papers! And how
delighted Dick was at the recovery of Beppo! They made so much of Dolly that she
grew quite shy, though she was very happy. But I think she was even happier that
evening when her father returned, and found the house all decked with laurel and holly
and oak-leaves and his little daughter waiting for him in the midst of it all.
A LITTLE fair-haired girl was lying-.asleep on the seat of a railway-carriage. So
sound asleep was she that she did not rouse up when the train stopped and a lady
got in-an acquaintance of the. lady already sitting beside the child, for the two began at
once to talk.
"Who is your small travelling companion ?" asked the new-comer.
Mrs. Prickard's grandchild. Her mother died lately in India, so she is being sent
home. I have only had charge of her from London."
"Mrs. Prickard ? said the other. "What, that fine-looking old lady who lives all
alone with her maid and her pet dog? Dear me what will she
do with a child? It will .. be a ,reat burden. I wonder she
likes to undertake such '. charge."
"The child will p ut the dog's nose out of
joint," said the first lady. e Yes," said the other,
"or else the dog will p)it hers.-But hush!"- she
.aldeld, in French, "thaE child is waking up."
Little Maisie had indee...l already waked up, and
had heard much of ', what the two friends
said. She was just a starting up indignantly
to assure them that .e shewouldnever behave
so cruelly to any dog, when they added, that
dreadful prophecy that j if she did not the dog
would be sure to do it to her. England must
be a terrible place if such things could
happen here! And what was that which
they were saying just -- b-.-: before about her being a
charge and a -burden to lher grandmother ? It had
always seemed so natural that she should be taken care of and petted by everybody,.that
the thought of be'in unwelcome was strange to her and very disagreeable.
So it was a very timid as well as a pale and tired little face that showed itself by the
cheerful firelight when Mrs. Prickard took off the little one's hat and looked at her, and
GRANDMOTHER'S PETS. 35
then folded lovingly in her arms the little granddaughter who had come to her from over
By the time.that Maisie was in bed and was receiving her granny's good-night kiss
she had changed her mind, and thought that England in general and granny's home in
particular was a very nice, comfortable place after all.
It was Mrs. Prickard's servant Leah who dressed Maisie the next morning. "As
I used to do to your papa, my dear," she told her, more years ago than I care to
When Mrs. Prickard heard that her offer to take little Maisie was accepted, she had
held council with Leah as to how they were to manage, for she could not well
afford the expense of a r!.r -'. L .:,h v.'us sure that to have a
girl in to help would be muic:li h.trtti i .li. giving the little one
into the care of a strange r There's young
Hannah will be proud t:. -a come. We shall
do for that right enough, e ma'am," she said.
" There's only one thin that's troubling me."
"What is that, Leah ?' "How will Mr.
Dandy like having a child about the place,
ma'am ?" Mr. Dandy was
the little dog. His mistress had been
wondering the same -. _. i'ASV' tling, but she would not
say so, even to Leah. "They will be nice
playfellows," she said. They need not have
been anxious as to how X.- Dandy would behave to
his new friend. "Come, Maisie dear,
and make acquaint- ance with the gentleman
of the house," said her grandmother when Maisie came down stairs on the first morning.
"Dandy, say good morning to little Maisie."
Dandy came forward, ready to do his best, and seeing Maisie's face so nearly within
reach, he made a jump to give her a kiss.
Maisie screamed, and clapped her hand to her nose.
"My dear, what is it? did he hurt you ?" asked her grandmother.
"No," said Maisie, ashamed, when she, saw his face of anxious inquiry, to tell that she
had thought that he was going to put her nose out of joint. "' He wouldn't want to hurt
me, ever, would he, granny?"
"No indeed, Dandy never wants to hurt any one. You should see how good he is to
the kittens and chickens. Pussy trusts him with her kitten if she wants to go for a walk,
and Dandy takes care of it for her until she comes back."
As they were sitting together on the rug after breakfast, Maisie whispered to Dandy.
"We don't want to do nothing to each other's noses, do we, dear? "
And Dandy wagged his tail and looked so knowing that he must have understood.
OVER THE SEA.
By the time that Spring came, you would hardly have known the little pale
timid stranger in the merry, rosy child who filled the house with chatter and with
Maisie learnt her lessons with her grandmother, and took her walks with everybody in
the house, especially Dandy. Every sunny morning she and granny took a turn round the
garden, and it was pretty to see them together, the child with her basket, the grandmother
with her stick, and Dandy I am sorry to say generally sitting down with his back to them
to show that he disapproved of the proceeding. How could people prefer to saunter in a
garden when there were fields to scamper in, lanes to sniff in, and roads to trot along?
It was too silly thought Mr. Dandy.
"Granny," said Maisie one day as they were walking thus together, "am I a
charge and a burden to you ?
Granny nearly drop [.-.:1 ': : tick, she was so aston-
ished to hear the child t 11 in this way.
Nothing of the sor: she said. "What put
such a thing into your .. head? You are my
pet and my dear child.' ,,. "Isn't Dandy your
pet, granny ?" l. "Dandy is my pet
too; you are both grand- i --- mother's pets."
"And is this litt: .- apple-tree your pet,
granny ? You always st.-. and look at it so."
"Well, dear, if tre.. can be pets, you
might call this one a pet of mine. Your father
planted it before he wet n out to India, and so
I care for it for his 'I sake. Maisie, it
shall be your tree .F now, because it was
your father's." "Mine, my real
very own? Oh, inny, how nice! But
look, isn't it a pity t' at the flowers are all
dropping off?" r- "The flowers must
fall, dear, for the fruit to come." "And will the apples
be mine too? Yes? how jolly!" and Maisie jumped about in her joy. "When will
they be ripe, granny? "
"Let me see, when is your birthday? the twenty-eighth of September. I think they
will be ripe on your birthday."
Maisie's face fell; that was a long, long time to wait.
The pleasant summer, Maisie's first English summer, went by, and every day she
visited her tree, and three-times a week at least she counted the apples on it : fifteen, and
all of them healthy and promising.
If grannies ever did get tired of answering questions, Maisie's grandmother would have
grown tired of telling her how soon her birthday was coming. At last it came to Next
month; this month; in a fortnight; next week. Now it did seem as if it were really
"Dandy," said Maisie-for she told everything to Dandy and to her doll-" Dandy, it's
my birthday next week; did you know? and granny is going to give me a present, but I
don't know what it will be. And I shall have a nice letter from father, and Leah's going
to make me a cake, 'cause she said so, and I think Hannah is dressing a doll for me, 'cause
I ran in and she popped it into a drawer and looked as if she didn't know nothing. And
I couldn't even see if it's got painted hair or real. Oh, Dandy, don't you hope it's got real
hair ?-There's granny, let us run to her."
"Granny,"'said Maisie, "do grown up peoples have birthdays too ?"
Do they have presents on their birthdays, granny ?"
"Well no, not often, I think."
"Then how do they make them be birthdays? What do you do to keep your
"Well, dear, if I. want to keep it, I do a kindness or make a present to some one else,"
"Oh! Then I'm glad I am a little girl and not a grown-up people."
But that evening when Maisie had said her prayers and was lying in bed in that
pleasant time for thinking while you are still not so sleepy but that you can, think your
thoughts and not your thoughts think you; she began to think that granny's was not such
a bad way after all. Why should she not keep her birthday in both ways ?
"It would make you feel nice," she thought, "as one does after being good in
But what had she got to give ? The apples Yes, she would give away her beautiful
The next morning Maisie went to her tree. Those three beauties shall be for
granny," she said; "and that for Leah, and that for Hannah, and that for the gardener.
Dandy doesn't care for apples. I, wonder-" and Maisie ran into the house. "Granny,
can you send apples to India ? "
"No, sweetheart, I am afraid not."
"Then, granny, may I give three of my apples to old Patty, and three to her
lame boy ?"
"Yes, that you may."
"And may I take them there all myself? "
Granny thought perhaps she might.
Maisie ran back to count over her apples. There would be just three left for herself;
that would do nicely.
I wish my birthday was to-morrow," she sighed.
It came at last, and as lovely a day as could be wished. Maisie received charming
presents, and the doll had got real hair, and Maisie kissed her, but Dandy wouldn't.
OVER THE SEA:
She went and gathered her apples, gave them as she had planned, and set off with her
basketful to old Patty's cottage.
Granny was watching for her when she came back.
"Well, dear, did you like your walk all by yourself? "
Pretty well," said Maisie, "but I was not alone, Dandy went with me. Oh, granny,
he was so good Miss Tenkins's little dog came and asked him to go for a
walk, and Dandy put his I1: .- t fin -. ., i." N, I'm .:.--,ing with my little girl;
it's her birthday, and I'r n.i.t: .,.I..i t,:, I-., I -1.' And oh, granny, then
there came some gooses ardd l l. an' I n :i early ran home, butDandy
drove them out of the va\i. a.. i1 i1 : :i -. t., have him And then I
was tired, and the basl.: .t .t -.:. I,. 1 .- '' rmtust put it down; so we
sat down under the li~ -d-' :.-- t- blA ckberries are and rested.
It was so nice there! I .-.:. .:t the birds and the sky,
and a little cloud came :...iting by-such a soft
little white cloud-and I thought perhaps there
was an angel sitting onr it. And I said my
last hymn all through tc '- Dandy, but he didn't
attend verywell; he "was catching a fly
that would want to sit on his nose.
"Then we went ,'. on; and the lame
boy was so pleased I 4t, -. with the apples,
granny. And there wa- -.; no gooses coming
back, and we ran nearly all the way. Isn't
Dandy a dear boy ? Granny, will you write all about Dandy in my birthday letter to
father, and tell him how good he has been ?"
"Dear child !" said granny, "I will tell him that you are both of you grand-
LEFT IN CHARGE
LEFT IN CHARGE:
A STORY OF OLDEN DAYS ON THE RIVERINA.
I SUPPOSE every girl in Australia must know all about the Riverina district, so that if
I say anything by way of description of this pastoral region of the colonies, it is only for
the sake of those poor benighted feminine minds in the old country who have not been blest
by a sight of the Riverina after rain, and so could not possibly be able to realize its
deliciousness and loveliness.
4I will just tell you what it is like before I begin to talk about my dog Tarra," myself,
and our adventures lrin :,,g -.-ith po':r ':l J. 1-,hnniy Cha-Che," our kitchen
gardener. The Riverin.i alter a lori- d ry season is not perhaps
the most fertile-looki:i a- | I j:lanrFe *:iie could wish to see, I
will admit, but after th l. hI',o er d:e-- comre, then is the time
to look about one ; tender c n' ''*;i aes springing up as if
by magic, and the most "iu:':,tit ul flowers amongst the
greenery that you [:1:l wi-i h for, or imagine; it
greenery that you %%I.: i,
is as if you went to .. leep one night surrounded
with dark-looking -il, pitying the poor
sheep who are vainly -- ,; :-rubbing amongst that
black dust for grass- .. roots, and then
opened your wondering eyes next mnlrnii in, a .. i perfect paradise of
peace and plenty-that'-: \h it the Riteriia i after H ; the angelwhotur-ns--
on the water-works has pa.s-c-d ov!er the land.. Now for myself
andmyd :'g,notforgettin!igoi;r (1 rith ul :,1 Ci lnalanar i gardener. My
name is Maggie Harkis, and I am the one aind :only daughter of a
Riverina squatter ; our station is on th i- illab-,iig River,aboveDinilequin.
I am fourteen past, this year, but at the time I am going to tell you about I'was: just
going on ten, which of course means as much as fifteen in the old country. I think I am
rather pretty, because every one says so, as .well as my looking-glass, only I don't like the
colour of my hair, it is so tawny, although my father says it is a lovely tone, and he ought
to k;i:rt' for he was an artist before he became a squatter; only Aunt Sarah, who keeps the
0 VER THE SEA.
house for him since mother died, calls it carroty when she is in a temper, which is very
often I am sorry to say, and what I am much vexter for than at her anger is the fact that
I cannot help believing her verdict instead of my father's.
Aunt Sarah, father says, was a very nice girl once, before she went home to England
and got presented to the Queen, which made her so conceited that she snubbed all her best
friends and thus became an old maid ; that's what spoilt her and made her so disagreeable-;
but, as father says, it is the fault with the young colonials nowadays, the boys smoke
cigarettes instead of honest pipes, and the girls dream of being "my lady," instead of
learning to be as amiable as their mothers were, so that the colonies are fast going to
the dogs-I don't know, I'm sure, but if all animals were like my dog Tarra," they might
do worse than go to them.
"Tarra," my dog, is not a common dog any more than I am a common girl-he is what
you might call a self-contained dog, and does not air his opinions or express his feelings to
every one who thinks fit to speak to him at first sight ; indeed, many have gone away, both
quadrupeds and bipeds, under the fixed impression that he was a stupid old collie who had
not a wag of appreciation or humour in him, all the while Tarra was sitting solemnly
taking stock of them ald their peculiarities, and concocting merry jests at their expense all
to himself, his tail as expressionless as are the eyes of John Cha-Che when father is
questioning him about the packet of opium which the postman brings up weekly from
Melbourne. John no "savies" anything, and when Tarra gives way to the weakness of a
"laugh or a wag of the tail it is to put people off their guard, not because he is enjoying
What I am going to tell you happened just about the end of a very long and dry season,
when-the only sign of green to be found in the country side was John Cha- e's kitchen
garden, which never lost its colour, no matter what the season was. Father and Aunt
Sarah had driven into Dinilequin to hire fresh servants, as all our old ones had left us in the
lurch; they often do this in Australia, and are one of our great tribulations in life. While
they are with us, you have no idea, how often one'wishes they could do without servants
The house was empty excepting for "Tarra" and me, for all the men had gone to the
outlying runs to look after the sheep, poor things, which were dying by hundreds for want
of water and meat, and John Cha-Che was inside his own little hut at the bottom of the
garden. Father gave strict orders to Tarra" to look after the station, and although the
old fellow wanted to go with him badly, yet he had too great a sense of his responsibility
to stir from my side at the door as we both stood and watched them drive away, along by
the dried-up Billabong, through the gum-trees, until they seemed to disappear in a cloud of
grey dust behind the mirage which the dry weather always produces in these parts.
Perhaps you will not believe it, but we have mirages on the Riverina as distinctly as
they could have in the desert. You look round the country on a very dry day, when the
sky is all clouded overhead and no sunshine can get through, and there they seem to be, clear
lakes of glittering white water with the gum-trunks starting out of them, just a little distance
away, and yet all the time the poor sheep are lying about gasping with hunger and thirst.
LEFT IN CHARGE.
Well, after "Tarra" and I had seen the last of the dog-cart, we turned about to think
how best we could spend the long day before us. Father had taught me how to sketch a
little, so"I ran in and got out my book and pencil, and then while looking about me, an
idea struck me that I would go down and sketch Johnny Cha-Che before he woke up, for
I knew that this was the time he took his forenoon smoke and nap. I had always wanted
to take him asleep, but could not do it when Aunt Sarah was at home, for she did not think
it proper-she was so very strong on the "proprieties." No sooner thought than done; I
stole down gently through the pumpkins and marrows, and opening the door of the hut
discovered my subject lying on his bunk, face upwards, with such a
seraphic smile .i-,n hi i -..-1 .:.. face, that he
quite looked lil:- a i.:- 1 cherub inblue
nankeens. Tarr-.'.it l.'- n quietly by the
door while I pla :id t lv.- i stool in the
best position ..l began my
study. I had ju ./ t got the gene-
ral pose in roug as father
stat that u a- flute, and
taught me it should be first
done so as to get the fore-
when I was startled by
the most un- usual sound
from Tarra, a I.. v growl, a thing
he never did \ .:cepting to "sun-
do w n-e rs *'. 1 te-. came near the
station, that I --j bu i plo d up in quite a fluster, and
drawing the curtain aside from the little window, looked out to see what the matter
It was lucky for us all that I did not open the door, but only looked out of the window
for there I saw a number of black fellows stealing from the bush towards the empty house.
One by one they crept along, with brAnches held in front of them; I counted forty before 1
could recover myself enough to think.
Then I remembered how nasty Aunt Sarah had been with the last tribe who had visited
us, and how harshly they had been driven off the station by her orders, and all at once I
felt how helpless I was, with none of the men near to aid me, while a horror came over me
for a moment which deprived me of breath, and the next moment made me feel as old
as a grown-up woman. Cha-Che, wake up," I cried, shaking the smiling Chinaman, but
he never moved a bit or seemed to feel my shaking.
Then I looked about me wondering what I would do if they came to the hut and found
me alone with only the sleeping Chinaman and Tarra.
Tarra! He was looking at me intently with eyes which not only seemed to understand
mythoughts, but also were trying their hardest to tell me what to do-ah! I read the wise dog's
meaning at last ; it was-" Quick, bar the door and window, and then let me go for help."
42 OVER THE SEA.
Good boy ---wise Tarra ," I cried as I grasped his meaning, and then set to work as
quietly and quickly as I could to make things secure, after which I wrote on a leaf of my
sketch-book, The blacks are attacking our station- come back and save
us. Maggie Harkis, [\i.li.:,ri nt.:.fn. PEi!;-,- bong River."
This note I tied rounl I T _!!'- n:l, ..l: I then I turned to
watch for a chance to l-t IMi -uit luni:i:.- served by the blacks,
who by this time had rltii ., a .. :". !. boughs and were
leaping all over the ho'.:. : -i fled that there was
no one to hinder then. too busy stealing to
look about them. .- / Gently I undid the
door, and opening it scift!', I whispered as I
pushed him out, "Runt i t I Tarra, to your mas-
ter, and bring him ba.: and at the word he
was off toward Dinilequin.
Then I sat down to. ... watch the destruc-
tion going on u. ?t .the house through a
crack in the weat-..- boards, for I had
jammed up the 1itl!.. -;' window with some
woodId u a .t---'j c -1 some
wood I found in a corner. How I cried
f f-'' iI ;i 4 -~~ -- ~ "- *:
when I saw' the wretches tearing
down the pretty cur- tains and pitching
things all outside, whiletheyscrambled
and fought with one ., ,"' another over the
meat and drink. They .. brought out bottles
of brandy, and wine, and beer, and whisky,
and gulped them all \; down one after the
other, jabbering away I ,,!, : -,: ii..- keys as they staggered
and tumbled about in ...: I pr .: -,t ,t they might all get so
drunk that they would i'.rt I\ _: jl:,1l t-. n:ti':c. tl._ I-1.it .:Arer I had seen one or
two fall down helpless, but even as I was praying for this, one of them pointed
over to it, and two or three of the others began talking and pointing also. Then a cold
shiver passed over me and I shut my eyes and felt quite sick and faint.
Hallo, Missie Halkis, what you wantche here ? inquired John, waking quite suddenly
and sitting up in his bed, blinking at me with his little black eyes.
Oh, Johnny, it is the black fellows robbing the house."
Black fellows lobbing? let me see," and he slid over to the crack and looked out.
You bet, missy, dey will make a blaze plesently."
Once more I looked out and saw them all outside dancing, while great clouds of smoke
were bursting from the doors and windows. They had forgotten the hut for a time in their
delight at the fire they had made. How quickly it caught and blazed up, while the white
smoke rose and then bore down upon the forest of gum-trees with a distant roar like
LEFT IN CHARGE.
Bush fi soon, you bet-all bound blazey pletty soon," observed T .i calmly ; then
with some more excitement in his voice he added, my house next."
Yes, John was right., As I looked I saw all who could .-i:-... r '.T .-,- the burning
house and come over towards us.
Oh, John, what shall we do ? "
Nothing, missy, excepting you can say your players while I take smokee."
John was right, although it seemed horrible to see him sit down so quietly and begin to
prepare his opium while this awful danger was so near; but his advice was good, so I '-. -1
down by his bed and began to pray to God to save us, ,rr-utt'i- my eyes so
that I would not see them when they broke in.
Five minutes passed away without :-r i:- hap-
pening excepting that --...n.
sound coming nearer ..i I had heard be-
fore. .What were they .? I rse once
more and peeped out at the to see
only the place where it I -- had stood, with six or
eight insensible black / fellows lying on the
ground, and the smoke _1, ,.:. The
roaring- sound was from '. the I-..'" side and
coming nearer. '- Ci :-I over to
the door I again looked through the joints
towards the river-bed, which was as dry as a
road. Then I knew what the roaring meant, and 1.;
the black fellows had left -us alone.
"John, we are saved-the floods are .:. -.in "
There it was, a great rolling wave rushing down the dried watercourse and :.--i l....
its banks in every direction, coming straight down upon us, for the hut stood on a low
level, and leaving a perfect sea behind it. The wet weather had begun up country, and
would soon be with us.
Quick, missy, jumpy, upon the bed," cried John, and in another moment we were
both standing holding on to the shaking rafters with the water rushing in upon all sides
through the crevices as the wave passed by with a shiver and the noise of thunder.
Five hours afterwards we were found by the men, who had seen the smoke, and that
night father, Aunt Sarah, and Tarra joined us at the woolshed, our only house left; but, as
father said, what use heeding about a house or two so long as his Peggy was all right," for
he had been most anxious all the drive back. Tarra had run the whole way to Dinilequin
with his'message, and now lay contentedly with his nose almost in the fireplace, and even
Aunt Sarah forgot to grumble at her failure to secure servants, for the wet weather had at
last come, which meant peace and plenty to the Riverina.
BERTHA AND THE SNAKE.
WOULD you like to know what Freda and Bertha
were thinking of, as they sate on the fallen trunl'k ., the- "
big gum-tree just outside the little wooden cottalg .here
they kept house for their father? Though perh.j-' ii t
is hardly fair to say that Bertha kept house, s.-,- .
that she was not more than six years old, and th:,it '
the most she did in that way was to have a do'l'-
wash from time to time. With Freda it was diffl-
rent. Freda was a big girl, who would soon be 1i r
her teens. Ever since their mother had died, I'.r .
away in Sweden, and they had corne out to At i- i--
tralia with their father in a ship that swung the, -
up and down all the way, Freda had been like -
little mother to her younger sister. She had
carried her about, dressed and undressed her,
sung to her, told her stories, and even (though
this had been very hard to do) had put her
occasionally into the corner when she would not *
do as she was bid. Lately she had begun to
teach Bertha to read. Indeed in her own poor .
little way, she was teaching her more or less all
day. You may perhaps -have kept a box of
silk-worms some time in your life, and may have '
seen how the worms nibble all day long at the '
dark green leaves, until by and by they spin out ''
they have taken into their bodies in long silk thread-. '
that shine like gold. In the same way poor Fred-i '
would go to the books lying in the case they hl.d,
brought from town, and would get hold of a bit here
and a bit there, and carry it all in her head, until by and by
out it would all come in Bertha's behalf; a smooth shining tale like the silkworm's golden thread. No
wonder Bertha liked to listen to her sister's fanciful stories-especially upon an evening like this, when
the sun was going down behind his curtains of purple and gold at the close of a long hot day.
But all this time I have not told you what the two little girls were thinking of. Well, it was all
about a fancy of Freda's. They. had been playing on the trunk of the gum-tree until they were
tired. Not ordinary play, I beg you to understand, for Freda was wonderful in her ': make-believe."
She had set Bertha upon a bough, and made her suppose she was a princess riding through an
enchanted forest in which all the trees had leaves of crystal and gold and silver, that shone and rattled
and glittered as the fairy steed cantered by. Then the trunk of the gum-tree had become the mast of
a tall ship, which rocked from side to side until it rocked right over and went to the bottom of the sea,
BERTHA AND THE SNAKE
BERTHA AND THE SNAKE.
where the little mermen and mermaids, wearing wreaths of sea-weed and pearls, had come out of an
oyster-shell cave to invite Freda and Bertha to play.with them. Finally it had been turned into a
desert island around which the ocean stretched as far as they could see, and Freda feigned to be so
much alarmed at the waves that were coming to wash them away, that little Bertha clung to her
skirts and cried "Oh! save me! save me!" in tones of real terror. Now as in reality there was
nothing but the dry earth and the yellow grass (and very dry and very yellow they were too), the risk
of drowning was not so great after all, and being tired by this time-after all the adventures they had
been through-the two little girls sate down to watch the sun take his flaming leave of them. They
were thinking now of the curious shapes that the gold-tipped clouds assumed. I do believe its going
to rain, I do," little Bertha had said. She always gave weight to her remarks, by repeating her
opening words very solemnly, and though she was only six years old knew quite well that rain was
badly needed on their farm. Did not father say every day that the crops would be all dried up if
they didn't have some showers soon, and hadn't she got her own little foot caught the other day
in the big cracks that were opening everywhere in the parched soil of the meadows? Freda had
said the earth was so thirsty, it was opening its lips all over the place to drink. Bertha was sorry
for the poor thirsty earth, and as for Freda, she was still more anxious for
the rain. Had not father promised if it rained that she and Bertha
should be sent to sch.:o:! in i\- l-,..urn.,, \.l,,.r. they would learn to
play the piano, and when Fir .: i.t il e i.ir.i1ii by wiser, taller girls
than herself, with-veryprll, ..r-, -. -!: i: :i'r. -i hair done up fashion-
ably on their heads, insi'-l '" Iiging loose and "no-
how" like hers and Berth .'-. Well, the clouds did
carry a kind of prorin-.- i ti-m, and what wonderful
pictures they made .ir.i: 'i' -' t of all Freda made
out a big polar bear ur.; -*. rt.er a little boy. Then
the little boy's head fell ...t .' :.l he turned into a dog
with three legs, by wh.:1. ',,,e the polar bear had
changed into an old n-io .,. P -'ih a pipe- and an um-
brella, and only one a! ... can see him quite
plainly, I can," said Ber -.i E t all of a sudden her
voice changed. She p, 'pt closer to her sister,
and clung tightly to her i in with her two fat little
hands. "Oh, Freda! there's a real alive old
man looking at us over there-there is-and
I'm so dreffully fright- f, ened, I am."
Freda looked quickly in the direction indi-
cated by.Bertha and, sure enough, there,
standing next -to a myrtle-bush was an old
man, who seemed to be .watching them intently
from under the rim of a vt i shabby felt hat. Freda
was a brave little girl, buL Ahc kinew thaL ELrtha and herself were
all alone on the farm, and the unexpected sight of this strange appa-
rition suddenly starting up in this lonely spot made her heart stand still for a moment. Her father and
his mate were gone with the working bullocks over two miles away, to drag back the stumps of some big
trees that had been rooted up last year, and that would havd to serve for firewood next winter. They
would not be back till long after sun-down, when they would probably fry themselves a steak, and make
tea in the- rough front-room that did duty for dining-room and sitting-room and kitchen and smoking-
room all at the same time, and that Freda never failed to clean and tidy up so carefully every morning
like a true little working housekeeper as she was. Oh I how the children wished their father were near
them now. They had no one to whom to turn for protection, nothing but a big, lithe, kangaroo dog, that
was only brave in the matter of chasing the fowls and the ducks, and Freda's white cockatoo, chained
to a perch outside the hut, that could not be taught to say "pretty cocky," but that would swing up
and down and screech inharmoniously by the hour together.
Yet why be so frightened of a poor old man? Certainly he was dressed in rather a singular
fashion. He wore, as I have said, a shabby felt wide-awake hat, a woollen shirt, and an old-very
old-coat, round which were strapped, behind his back, his red blankets and the quart pot, or tin
billy, in which he boiled his water for his tea, when he sate down of a night to his lonely meals, all by
OVER THE SEA.
himself in the midst of the wide bush. Then his L.,:,:r '- -.4 -
How worn and cut they were! How many I;uL "
roads and stony tracks they must have tramp .
over to have become so shabby as that Fred. .
knew now that this man must be what is called a .
"sun-downer "; that is to say, a man who tramps
about along country roads and through the .r
lonely bush, stopping at sun-down at far-away *,. A"'- "
stations and solitary farms to beg a night's -... ..'-
shelter in a barn or under a haystack, and to ,. ;
ask may-be for a job of work next day. She
wished somehow he had not come just when ..' ,' "
her father and his mate were so far out of the
way. He had such a big, -,.i,. beard,
grizzled and tangled, and his face was so hairy '
all over. It made her think of the wolf in
"Red Riding Hood." And his eyes, as far .
as she could make them out beneath the rim "
of his tattered hat, looked so sharp and .
cunning. Should she go up to him boldly
and ask him what he wanted, or should she '
slip down from the trunk with little Bertha in '
her arms, and run towards the hut, calling out, :
"Father, father, we're ready for supper in cod,: .
to make the sun-downer believe that their great. r.:,r, '.
good father was sitting inside (oh, how she wi.i !-, ,....: r
smoking his pipe and waiting for his little girls t.: .':,'i:ia .-.1id la.
the table for supper?
It was necessary to come to a decision, for Freda perceived that the sun-downer was coming up to
speak to them. He hobbled rather than walked, for his feet were sore and blistered, and little
Bertha, seeing him approach, buried her face in her sister's lap and whimpered, "I don't like him,
Don't be a silly little girl," said Freda resolutely in a low voice, then aloud, Come Bertha! she
added, "Father 'll be waiting supper. Pick up your hat and we'll go and ask him what o'clock it is."
Bertha jumped down, and hurriedly extended a fat little hand for the straw hat lying on the
grass at her feet. But instead of picking it up, she pulled away her hand violently and uttered a
loud shriek. Meantime Freda was aware that a large black snake had glided out from beneath the
hat under which it had lain curled, and was now working its way swiftly across the dry slippery
grass to find a shelter beneath the great trunk of the gum-tree upon which she and her sister had
been playing. As the reptile crawled along you would have said that its body was made of black
moving rings. Another instant, and it would bury itself away out of reach under the'sheltering log.
Freda's first impulse was to shriek out loud, as Bertha had done. There was something so loath-
some as well as terrifying in the aspect of the snake as it pushed its way actively along over the slippery
grass. But like a brave little bush-woman, instead of screaming she did what was more to the point:
she seized up a stone lying on the trunk which she and Bertha had made-believe to be a loaf for
the shipwrecked mariners, and hurled it with all the force of her two small hands against the reptile's
head. The snake's .body curled itself up as a. worm's will do when it is cut in half with a spade. It
writhed about convulsively, twisting itself nevertheless in the direction of the sheltering log. But
another stone, well aimed by Freda at its head, put an end to its struggles by killing it outright. It
continued to move, however, for there is a kind of muscular movement left in a snake's body long
after the life is fairly out of it, but it could do no more harm. Then Freda turned round to her little
sister, who was nursing her hand and sobbing under her breath all the while. She would have taken
her in her arms to console her, buf Bertha pushed her away. Oh, Freda it's bitten me, it has "
she wailed; and as she held out her fat hand, with a piteous expression of terror in her childish face,
her sister saw, to her indescribable horror, that the serpent's fang had indeed darted its venom into
the chubby little arm, just above the wrist, and had left an ugly red and blue mark, from which some
drops of blood were slowly oozing forth.
BERTHA AND THE SNAKE. -47
And now it was' poor Freda's turn to raise a cry of bitterest anguish. Better than Bertha
she knew the deadly danger to which her little
S .... ster was exposed. A snake's fang contains a
-ic.. I& mortal poison in it, and unless this poison is
S, iawn out of the wound at once it will work its
.'vay into the blood and cause the person who has
', .een bitten by the snake to grow sleepy and
S.. "-."' rowsy, and sleepier and drowsier until by and
S~I .y he falls into the sleep of death, from which
S'' rtere is no awakening. Unless something was
'. lone to save Bertha instantly, this was the fate
hat would probably overtake her. And what
S wouldd a poor ignorant little girl like Freda do?
'". S'he would have given lher life for her sister's, but
i ow would that help her now? In her.great and
S, t bitter distress she looked wildly around her for
s distance, and there by her side was the old
S'' sun-downer, whose appearance had frightened
her so unreasonably only a few minutes ago.
There was no thought of fear now. All such
thoughts were swallowed up in the one great
overwhelming terror for Bertha. Oh, ray
help us 1" she cried to him. "See, my little
sister is bitten by a snake!" and she held
S'' out Bertha's hand towards him.
S' ; 'In another instant the old sun-downer had
i ',' his sleeve after carefully sticking it into the
SDon't you take on so, missy," he said to Freda,
and it was wonderful what a kind voice he seemed to have.
"You tell your sister to be a brave little lass. I'll just make a little bit of a cut in her arm-I
won't hurt her more'n I can help-and she'll be all right-bless you !-in no time."
But at sight of the knife Bertha had begun to shriek
afresh. She put her arm behind her back crying loudly. I
don't want to be cut, Tdon't Iwon't let inc.i t.:u.:, iii.:,. ?--
I won't !"
"You must, Bertha," cried Freda. ... it .
doesn't hurt so much," and she snatched th!.:
knife from the sun-downer's hand, and .
before he could prevent her had actually. I i...
sliced away a bit of flesh from her own
arm. The blood poured from the i- S
"That ain't a very nice thing to
do," said the old man; and it certainly
was not, though inl her frenzy of dis-
tress Freda was hardly responsible for
what she did. "You'd far better catch ,' '
hold of the little un's hand than go a ''
hacking of your own that way."
And Freda did as she was told. P.* ,r .
little Bertha! In vain she fought, .: .: '. .
screamed, and struggled. With a face a-.. '
as death, Freda held her tightly in her :ni ..; I. -t'
old sun-downer cut the poisoned part i,. i-, ih;ri- l
knife. And then he lifted the poor bleeding aill LO hlis lips and sucked
0 VER THE SEA.
the wound, to draw away such venom as might still be left in it. And all the time that
Bertha was loudly sobbing Freda was saying in her heart, "Oh,. if itwere only me! if it were
only me!" I think indeed she would
have taken the snake in her arms and let
it wind itself close to her heart if she
could only have in- duced it to bite her
instead of Bertha. And now the stars
were beginning to come out. The sun
had gone down, and the kangaroo-dog was
pricking up its ears and running back-
wards and forwards with yelping barks
of welcome. And where are my little
girls ?" Freda heard her father say a mo-
ment later. She ran forward and clasped
him round the neck. She had been very
brave before, but as she tried to tell him
what had happened she broke down and
cried as though her very heart would
break. You may fancy the father's
feelings as he heard the story, and you
may fancy how he felt towards the old
sun-downer who had saved his little
Bertha's life. For Bertha was saved,
and a- week after was none the worse
for her adventure. A month after she
began to be proud of it, and at the Mel-
bourne school, where she now goes with
Freda, she always shows her scar the
first thing to every new pupil, with the
words, "I don't s'pose a snake ever bit you,
did it? Well, I had bne bite me, I had."
And then she tells the whole story of the
"drefful accident," as she calls it, that befel her. As for the old sun-
downer, Freda's father wanted him to stay with them always. But at the
end of a few weeks he strapped his swag.again upon his back, hoisted the tin billy into its old place,
and took his farewell of the little girls as they sat once more outside their hut-home at sunset. Both
Freda and Bertha shed tears as he left them, and when they are at home they have a kindly word for
every sun-downer who passes their way, in memory of the old man who saved little Bertha's life.
RICHARD CLAY AND SONS, LIMITED, LONDON AND BUNGAY.