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´╗┐Title: From Squire to Squatter - A Tale of the Old Land and the New
Author: Stables, Gordon, 1840-1910
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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From Squire to Squatter
A Tale of the Old Land and the New
By Gordon Stables
Published by John F. Shaw and Co., 48 Paternoster Row, London.
This edition dated 1888.

CHAPTER ONE.

BOOK I--AT BURLEY OLD FARM.

"TEN TO-MORROW, ARCHIE."

"So you'll be ten years old to-morrow, Archie?"

"Yes, father; ten to-morrow.  Quite old, isn't it?  I'll soon be a man,
dad.  Won't it be fun, just?"

His father laughed, simply because Archie laughed.  "I don't know about
the fun of it," he said; "for, Archie lad, your growing a man will
result in my getting old.  Don't you see?"

Archie turned his handsome brown face towards the fire, and gazed at
it--or rather into it--for a few moments thoughtfully.  Then he gave his
head a little negative kind of a shake, and, still looking towards the
fire as if addressing it, replied:

"No, no, no; I don't see it.  Other boys' fathers _may_ grow old; mine
won't, mine couldn't, never, _never_."

"Dad," said a voice from the corner.  It was a very weary, rather
feeble, voice.  The owner of it occupied a kind of invalid couch, on
which he half sat and half reclined--a lad of only nine years, with a
thin, pale, old-fashioned face, and big, dark, dreamy eyes that seemed
to look you through and through as you talked to him.

"Dad."

"Yes, my dear."

"Wouldn't you like to be old really?"

"Wel--," the father was beginning.

"Oh," the boy went on, "I should dearly love to be old, very old, and
very wise, like one of these!"  Here his glance reverted to a story-book
he had been reading, and which now lay on his lap.

His father and mother were used to the boy's odd remarks.  Both parents
sat here to-night, and both looked at him with a sort of fond pity; but
the child's eyes had half closed, and presently he dropped out of the
conversation, and to all intents and purposes out of the company.

"Yes," said Archie, "ten is terribly old, I know; but is it quite a man
though?  Because mummie there said, that when Solomon became a man, he
thought, and spoke, and did everything manly, and put away all his boy's
things.  I shouldn't like to put away my bow and arrow--what say, mum?
I shan't be altogether quite a man to-morrow, shall I?"

"No, child.  Who put that in your head?"

"Oh, Rupert, of course!  Rupert tells me everything, and dreams such
strange dreams for me."

"You're a strange boy yourself, Archie."

His mother had been leaning back in her chair.  She now slowly resumed
her knitting.  The firelight fell on her face: it was still young, still
beautiful--for the lady was but little over thirty--yet a shade of
melancholy had overspread it to-night.

The firelight came from huge logs of wood, mingled with large pieces of
blazing coals and masses of half-incandescent peat.  A more cheerful
fire surely never before burned on a hearth.  It seemed to take a pride
in being cheerful, and in making all sorts of pleasant noises and
splutterings.  There had been bark on those logs when first heaped on,
and long white bunches of lichen, that looked like old men's beards; but
tongues of fire from the bubbling, caking coals had soon licked those
off, so that both sticks and peat were soon aglow, and the whole looked
as glorious as an autumn sunset.

And firelight surely never before fell on cosier room, nor on cosier
old-world furniture.  Dark pictures, in great gilt frames, hung on the
walls, almost hiding it; dark pictures, but with bright colours standing
out in them, which Time himself had not been able to dim; albeit he had
cracked the varnish.  Pictures you could look into--look in through
almost--and imagine figures that perhaps were not in them at all;
pictures of old-fashioned places, with quaint, old-fashioned people and
animals; pictures in which every creature or human being looked
contented and happy.  Pictures from masters' hands many of them, and
worth far more than their weight in solid gold.

And the firelight fell on curious brackets, and on a tall corner-cabinet
filled with old delf and china; fell on high, narrow-backed chairs, and
on one huge carved-oak chest that took your mind away back to centuries
long gone by and made you half believe that there must have been "giants
in those days."

The firelight fell and was reflected from silver cups, and goblets, and
candlesticks, and a glittering shield that stood on a sideboard, their
presence giving relief to the eye.  Heavy, cosy-looking curtains
depended from the window cornices, and the door itself was darkly
draped.

"Ten to-morrow.  How time does fly!"

It was the father who now spoke, and as he did so his hand was stretched
out as if instinctively, till it lay on the mother's lap.  Their eyes
met, and there seemed something of sadness in the smile of each.

"How time does fly!"

"Dad!"

The voice came once more from the corner.

"Dad!  For years and years I've noticed that you always take mummie's
hand and just look like that on the night before Archie's birthday.
Father, why--"

But at that very moment the firelight found something else to fall
upon--something brighter and fairer by far than anything it had lit up
to-night.  For the door-curtain was drawn back, and a little, wee,
girlish figure advanced on tiptoe and stood smiling in the middle of the
room, looking from one to the other.  This was Elsie, Rupert's
twin-sister.  His "beautiful sister" the boy called her, and she was
well worthy of the compliment.  Only for a moment did she stand there,
but as she did so, with her bonnie bright face, she seemed the one thing
that had been needed to complete the picture, the centre figure against
the sombre, almost solemn, background.

The fire blazed more merrily now; a jet of white smoke, that had been
spinning forth from a little mound of melting coal, jumped suddenly into
flame; while the biggest log cracked like a popgun, and threw off a
great red spark, which flew half-way across the room.

Next instant a wealth of dark-brown hair fell on Archie's shoulder, and
soft lips were pressed to his sun-dyed cheek, then bright, laughing eyes
looked into his.

"Ten to-morrow, Archie!  _Aren't_ you proud?"

Elsie now took a footstool, and sat down close beside her invalid
brother, stretching one arm across his chest protectingly; but she shook
her head at Archie from her corner.

"Ten to-morrow, you great big, big brother Archie," she said.

Archie laughed right merrily.

"What are you going to do all?"

"Oh, such a lot of things!  First of all, if it snows--"

"It is snowing now, Archie, fast."

"Well then I'm going to shoot the fox that stole poor Cock Jock.  Oh, my
poor Cock Jock!  We'll never see him again."

"Shooting foxes isn't sport, Archie."

"No, dad; it's revenge."

The father shook his head.

"Well, I mean something else."

"Justice?"

"Yes, that is it.  Justice, dad.  Oh, I did love that cock so!  He was
so gentlemanly and gallant, father.  Oh, so kind!  And the fox seized
him just as poor Jock was carrying a crust of bread to the old hen Ann.
He threw my bonnie bird over his shoulder and ran off, looking so sly
and wicked.  But I mean to kill him!

"Last time I fired off Branson's gun was at a magpie, a nasty,
chattering, unlucky magpie.  Old Kate says they're unlucky."

"Did you kill the magpie, Archie?"

"No, I don't think I hurt the magpie.  The gun must have gone off when I
wasn't looking; but it knocked me down, and blackened all my shoulder,
because it pushed so.  Branson said I didn't grasp it tight enough.  But
I will to-morrow, when I'm killing the fox.  Rupert, you'll stuff the
head, and we'll hang it in the hall.  Won't you, Roup?"  Rupert smiled
and nodded.

"And I'm sure," he continued, "the Ann hen was so sorry when she saw
poor Cock Jock carried away."

"Did the Ann hen eat the crust?"

"What, father?  Oh, yes, she did eat the crust!  But I think that was
only out of politeness.  I'm sure it nearly choked her."

"Well, Archie, what will you do else to-morrow?"

"Oh, then, you know, Elsie, the fun will only just be beginning, because
we're going to open the north tower of the castle.  It's already
furnished."

"And you're going to be installed as King of the North Tower?" said his
father.

"Installed, father?  Rupert, what does that mean?"

"Led in with honours, I suppose."

"Oh, father, I'll instal myself; or Sissie there will; or old Kate; or
Branson, the keeper, will instal me.  That's easy.  The fun will all
come after that."

Burley Old Farm, as it was called--and sometimes Burley Castle--was, at
the time our story opens, in the heyday of its glory and beauty.  Squire
Broadbent, Archie's father, had been on it for a dozen years and over.
It was all his own, and had belonged to a bachelor uncle before his
time.  This uncle had never made the slightest attempt to cause two
blades of grass to grow where only one had grown before.  Not he.  He
was well content to live on the little estate, as his father had done
before him, so long as things paid their way; so long as plenty of sleek
beasts were seen in the fields in summer, or wading knee-deep in the
straw-yard in winter; so long as pigs, and poultry, and feather stock of
every conceivable sort, made plenty of noise about the farm-steading,
and there was plenty of human life about, the old Squire had been
content.  And why shouldn't he have been?  What does a North-country
farmer need, or what has he any right to long for, if his larder and
coffers are both well filled, and he can have a day on the stubble or
moor, and ride to the hounds when the crops are in?

But his nephew was more ambitious.  The truth is he came from the South,
and brought with him what the honest farmer folks of the Northumbrian
borders call a deal of new-fangled notions.  He had come from the South
himself, and he had not been a year in the place before he went back,
and in due time returned to Burley Old Farm with a bonnie young bride.
Of course there were people in the neighbourhood who did not hesitate to
say, that the Squire might have married nearer home, and that there was
no accounting for taste.  For all this and all that, both the Squire and
his wife were not long in making themselves universal favourites all
round the countryside; for they went everywhere, and did everything; and
the neighbours were all welcome to call at Burley when they liked, and
had to call when Mrs Broadbent issued invitations.

Well, the Squire's dinners were truly excellent, and when afterwards the
men folk joined the ladies in the big drawing-room, the evenings flew
away so quickly that, as carriage time came, nobody could ever believe
it was anything like so late.

The question of what the Squire had been previously to his coming to
Burley was sometimes asked by comparative strangers, but as nobody could
or cared to answer explicitly, it was let drop.  Something in the South,
in or about London, or Deal, or Dover, but what did it matter? he was "a
jolly good fellow--ay, and a gentleman every inch."  Such was the
verdict.

A gentleman the Squire undoubtedly was, though not quite the type of
build, either in body or mind, of the tall, bony, and burly men of the
North--men descended from a race of ever-unconquered soldiers, and
probably more akin to the Scotch than the English.

Sitting here in the green parlour to-night, with the firelight playing
on his smiling face as he talked to or teased his eldest boy, Squire
Broadbent was seen to advantage.  Not big in body, and rather round than
angular, inclining even to the portly, with a frank, rosy face and a
bold blue eye, you could not have been in his company ten minutes
without feeling sorry you had not known him all his life.

Amiability was the chief characteristic of Mrs Broadbent.  She was a
refined and genuine English lady.  There is little more to say after
that.

But what about the Squire's new-fangled notions?  Well, they were really
what they call "fads" now-a-days, or, taken collectively, they were one
gigantic fad.  Although he had never been in the agricultural interest
before he became Squire, even while in city chambers theoretical farming
had been his pet study, and he made no secret of it to his fellow-men.

"This uncle of mine," he would say, "whom I go to see every Christmas,
is pretty old, and I'm his heir.  Mind," he would add, "he is a genuine,
good man, and I'll be genuinely sorry for him when he goes under.  But
that is the way of the world, and then I'll have my fling.  My uncle
hasn't done the best for his land; he has been content to go--not run;
there is little running about the dear old boy--in the same groove as
his fathers, but I'm going to cut out a new one."

The week that the then Mr Broadbent was in the habit of spending with
his uncle, in the festive season, was not the only holiday he took in
the year.  No; for regularly as the month of April came round, he
started for the States of America, and England saw no more of him till
well on in June, by which time the hot weather had driven him home.

But he swore by the Yankees; that is, he would have sworn by them, had
he sworn at all.  The Yankees in Mr Broadbent's opinion were far ahead
of the English in everything pertaining to the economy of life, and the
best manner of living.  He was too much of a John Bull to admit that the
Americans possessed any superiority over this tight little isle, in the
matter of either politics or knowledge of warfare.  England always had
been, and always would be, mistress of the seas, and master of and over
every country with a foreshore on it.  "But," he would say, "look at the
Yanks as inventors.  Why, sir, they beat us in everything from
button-hook.  Look at them as farmers, especially as wheat growers and
fruit raisers.  They are as far above Englishmen, with their insular
prejudices, and insular dread of taking a step forward for fear of going
into a hole, as a Berkshire steam ploughman is ahead of a Skyeman with
his wooden turf-turner.  And look at them at home round their own
firesides, or look at their houses outside and in, and you will have
some faint notion of what comfort combined with luxury really means."

It will be observed that Mr Broadbent had a bold, straightforward way
of talking to his peers.  He really had, and it will be seen presently
that he had, "the courage of his own convictions," to use a hackneyed
phrase.

He brought those convictions with him to Burley, and the courage also.

Why, in a single year--and a busy, bustling one it had been--the new
Squire had worked a revolution about the place.  Lucky for him, he had a
well-lined purse to begin with, or he could hardly have come to the root
of things, or made such radical reforms as he did.

When he first took a look round the farm-steading, he felt puzzled where
to begin first.  But he went to work steadily, and kept it up, and it is
truly wonderful what an amount of solid usefulness can be effected by
either man or boy, if he has the courage to adopt such a plan.

CHAPTER TWO.

A CHIP OF THE OLD BLOCK.

It was no part of Squire Broadbent's plan to turn away old and faithful
servants.  He had to weed them though, and this meant thinning out to
such an extent that not over many were left.

The young and healthy creatures of inutility had to shift; but the very
old, the decrepit--those who had become stiff and grey in his uncle's
service--were pensioned off.  They were to stay for the rest of their
lives in the rural village adown the glen--bask in the sun in summer,
sit by the fire of a winter, and talk of the times when "t'old Squire
was aboot."

The servants settled with, and fresh ones with suitable "go" in them
established in their place, the live stock came in for reformation.

"Saint Mary! what a medley!" exclaimed the Squire, as he walked through
the byres and stables, and past the styes.  "Everything bred anyhow.  No
method in my uncle's madness.  No rules followed, no type.  Why the
quickest plan will be to put them all to the hammer."

This was cutting the Gordian-knot with a vengeance, but it was perhaps
best in the long run.

Next came renovation of the farm-steading itself; pulling down and
building, enlarging, and what not, and while this was going on, the land
itself was not being forgotten.  Fences were levelled and carted away,
and newer and airier ones put up, and for the most part three and
sometimes even five fields were opened into one.  There were woods also
to be seen to.  The new Squire liked woods, but the trees in some of
these were positively poisoning each other.  Here was a larch-wood, for
instance--those logs with the long, grey lichens on them are part of
some of the trees.  So closely do the larches grow together, so white
with moss, so stunted and old-looking, that it would have made a
merry-andrew melancholy to walk among them.  What good were they?  Down
they must come, and down they had come; and after the ground had been
stirred up a bit, and left for a summer to let the sunshine and air into
it, all the hill was replanted with young, green, smiling pines,
larches, and spruces, and that was assuredly an improvement.  In a few
years the trees were well advanced; grass and primroses grew where the
moss had crept about, and the wood in spring was alive with the song of
birds.

The mansion-house had been left intact.  Nothing could have added much
to the beauty of that.  It stood high up on a knoll, with rising
park-like fields behind, and at some considerable distance the blue
slate roofs of the farm-steading peeping up through the greenery of the
trees.  A solid yellow-grey house, with sturdy porch before the hall
door, and sturdy mullioned windows, one wing ivy-clad, a broad sweep of
gravel in front, and beyond that, lawns and terraces, and flower and
rose gardens.  And the whole overlooked a river or stream, that went
winding away clear and silvery till it lost itself in wooded glens.

The scenery was really beautiful all round, and in some parts even wild;
while the distant views of the Cheviot Hills lent a charm to everything.

There was something else held sacred by the Squire as well as the
habitable mansion, and that was Burley Old Castle.  Undoubtedly a
fortress of considerable strength it had been in bygone days, when the
wild Scots used to come raiding here, but there was no name for it now
save that of a "ruin."  The great north tower still stood firm and bold,
and three walls of the lordly hall, its floor green with long, rank
grass; the walls themselves partly covered with ivy, with broom growing
on the top, which was broad enough for the half-wild goats to scamper
along.

There was also the _donjon_ keep, and the remains of a _fosse_; but all
the rest of this feudal castle had been unceremoniously carted away, to
erect cowsheds and pig-styes with it.

  "So sinks the pride of former days,
  When glory's thrill is o'er."

No, Squire Broadbent did not interfere with the castle; he left it to
the goats and to Archie, who took to it as a favourite resort from the
time he could crawl.

But these--all these--new-fangled notions the neighbouring squires and
farmers bold could easily have forgiven, had Broadbent not carried his
craze for machinery to the very verge of folly.  So _they_ thought.
Such things might be all very well in America, but they were not called
for here.  Extraordinary mills driven by steam, no less
wonderful-looking harrows, uncanny-like drags and drilling machines,
sowing and reaping machines that were fearfully and wonderfully made,
and ploughs that, like the mills, were worked by steam.

Terrible inventions these; and even the men that were connected with
them had to be brought from the far South, and did not talk a homely,
wholesome _lingua_, nor live in a homely, wholesome way.

His neighbours confessed that his crops were heavier, and the cereals
and roots finer; but they said to each other knowingly, "What about the
expense of down-put?"  And as far as their own fields went, the
plough-boy still whistled to and from his work.

Then the new live stock, why, type was followed; type was everything in
the Squire's eye and opinion.  No matter what they were, horses, cattle,
pigs, sheep, and feather stock, even the dogs and birds were the best
and purest of the sort to be had.

But for all the head-shaking there had been at first, things really
appeared to prosper with the Squire; his big, yellow-painted wagons,
with their fine Clydesdale horses, were as well known in the district
and town of B--as the brewer's dray itself.  The "nags" were capitally
harnessed.  What with jet-black, shining leather, brass-work that shone
like burnished gold, and crimson-flashing fringes, it was no wonder that
the men who drove them were proud, and that they were favourites at
every house of call.  Even the bailiff himself, on his spirited hunter,
looked imposing with his whip in his hand, and in his spotless cords.

Breakfast at Burley was a favourite meal, and a pretty early one, and
the capital habit of inviting friends thereto was kept up.  Mrs
Broadbent's tea was something to taste and remember; while the cold
beef, or that early spring lamb on the sideboard, would have converted
the veriest vegetarian as soon as he clapped eyes on it.

On his spring lamb the Squire rather prided himself, and he liked his
due meed of praise for having reared it.  To be sure he got it; though
some of the straightforward Northumbrians would occasionally quizzingly
enquire what it cost him to put on the table.

Squire Broadbent would not get out of temper whatever was said, and
really, to do the man justice, it must be allowed that there was a
glorious halo of self-reliance around his head; and altogether such
spirit, dash, and independence with all he said and did, that those who
breakfasted with him seemed to catch the infection.  Their farms and
they themselves appeared quite behind the times, when viewed in
comparison with Broadbent's and with Broadbent himself.

If ever a father was loved and admired by a son, the Squire was that
man, and Archie was that particular son.  His father was Archie's _beau
ideal_ indeed of all that was worth being, or saying, or knowing, in
this world; and Rupert's as well.

He really was his boys' hero, but behaved more to them as if he had been
just a big brother.  It was a great grief to both of them that Rupert
could not join in their games out on the lawn in summer--the little
cricket matches, the tennis tournaments, the jumping, and romping, and
racing.  The tutor was younger than the Squire by many years, but he
could not beat him in any manly game you could mention.

Yes, it was sad about Rupert; but with all the little lad's suffering
and weariness, he was _such_ a sunny-faced chap.  He never complained,
and when sturdy, great, brown-faced Archie carried him out as if he had
been a baby, and laid him on the couch where he could witness the games,
he was delighted beyond description.

I'm quite sure that the Squire often and often kept on playing longer
than he would otherwise have done just to please the child, as he was
generally called.  As for Elsie, she did all her brother did, and a good
deal more besides, and yet no one could have called her a tom girl.

As the Squire was Archie's hero, I suppose the boy could not help taking
after his hero to some extent; but it was not only surprising but even
amusing to notice how like to his "dad" in all his ways Archie had at
the age of ten become.  The same in walk, the same in talk, the same in
giving his opinion, and the same in bright, determined looks.  Archie
really was what his father's friends called him, "a chip of the old
block."

He was a kind of a lad, too, that grown-up men folks could not help
having a good, romping lark with.  Not a young farmer that ever came to
the place could have beaten Archie at a race; but when some of them did
get hold of him out on the lawn of an evening, then there would be a bit
of fun, and Archie was in it.

These burly Northumbrians would positively play a kind of pitch and toss
with him, standing in a square or triangle and throwing him back and
fore as if he had been a cricket ball.  And there was one very tall,
wiry young fellow who treated Archie as if he had been a sort of
dumb-bell, and took any amount of exercise out of him; holding him high
aloft with one hand, swaying him round and round and up and down,
changing hands, and, in a word, going through as many motions with the
laughing boy as if he had been inanimate.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

I do not think that Archie ever dressed more quickly in his life, than
he did on the morning of that auspicious day which saw him ten years
old.  To tell the truth, he had never been very much struck over the
benefits of early rising, especially on mornings in winter.  The parting
between the boy and his warm bed was often of a most affecting
character.  The servant would knock, and the gong would go, and
sometimes he would even hear his father's voice in the hall before he
made up his mind to tear himself away.

But on this particular morning, no sooner had he rubbed his eyes and
began to remember things, than he sprang nimbly to the floor.  The bath
was never a terrible ordeal to Archie, as it is to some lads.  He liked
it because it made him feel light and buoyant, and made him sing like
the happy birds in spring time; but to-day he did think it would be a
saving of time to omit it.  Yes, but it would be cowardly, and on this
morning of all mornings; so in he plunged, and plied the sponge
manfully.  He did not draw up the blinds till well-nigh dressed.  For
all he could see when he did do so, he might as well have left them
down.  The windows--the month was January--were hard frozen; had it been
any other day, he would have paused to admire the beautiful frost
foliage and frost ferns that nature had etched on the panes.  He blew
his breath on the glass instead, and made a clean round hole thereon.

Glorious!  It had been snowing pretty heavily, but now the sky was
clear.  The footprints of the wily fox could be tracked.  Archie would
follow him to his den in the wild woods, and his Skye terriers would
unearth him.  Then the boy knelt to pray, just reviewing the past for a
short time before he did so, and thinking what a deal he had to be
thankful for; how kind the good Father was to have given him such
parents, such a beautiful home, and such health, and thinking too what a
deal he had to be sorry for in the year that was gone; then he gave
thanks, and prayer for strength to resist temptation in the time to
come; and, it is needless to say, he prayed for poor invalid Rupert.

When he got up from his knees he heard the great gong sounded, and
smiled to himself to think how early he was.  Then he blew on the pane
and looked out again.  The sky was blue and clear, and there was not a
breath of wind; the trees on the lawn, laden with their weight of
powdery snow, their branches bending earthwards, especially the larches
and spruces, were a sight to see.  And the snow-covered lawn itself, oh,
how beautiful!  Archie wondered if the streets of heaven even could be
more pure, more dazzlingly white.

Whick, whick, whick, whir-r-r-r-r!

It was a big yellow-billed blackbird, that flew out with startled cry
from a small Austrian pine tree.  As it did so, a cloud of powdery snow
rose in the air, showing how hard the frost was.

Early though it was--only a little past eight--Archie found his father
and mother in the breakfast-room, and greetings and blessings fell on
his head; brief but tender.

By-and-bye the tutor came in, looking tired; and Archie exulted over
him, as cocks crow over a fallen foe, because he was down first.

Mr Walton was a young man of five or six and twenty, and had been in
the family for over three years, so he was quite an old friend.
Moreover, he was a man after the Squire's own heart; he was manly, and
taught Archie manliness, and had a quiet way of helping him out of every
difficulty of thought or action.  Besides, Archie and Rupert liked him.

After breakfast Archie went up to see his brother, then downstairs, and
straight away out through the servants' hall to the barn-yards.  He had
showers of blessings, and not a few gifts from the servants; but old
Scotch Kate was most sincere, for this somewhat aged spinster really
loved the lad.

At the farm-steading he had many friends to see, both hairy and
feathered.  He found some oats, which he scattered among the last, and
laughed to see them scramble, and to hear them talk.  Well, Archie at
all events believed firmly that fowls can converse.  One very lovely red
game bird, came boldly up and pecked his oats from Archie's palm.  This
was the new Cock Jock, a son of the old bird, which the fox had taken.
The Ann hen was there too.  She was bold, and bonnie, and saucy, and
seemed quite to have given up mourning for her lost lord.  Ann came at
Archie's call, flew on to his wrist, and after steadying herself and
grumbling a little because Archie moved his arm too much, she shoved her
head and neck into the boy's pocket, and found oats in abundance.  That
was Ann's way of doing business, and she preferred it.

The ducks were insolent and noisy; the geese, instead of taking higher
views of life, as they are wont to do, bent down their stately necks,
and went in for the scramble with the rest.  The hen turkeys grumbled a
great deal, but got their share nevertheless; while the great gobbler
strutted around doing attitudes, and rustling himself, his neck and head
blood-red and blue, and every feather as stiff as an oyster-shell.  He
looked like some Indian chief arrayed for the war-path.

Having hurriedly fed his feathered favourites, Archie went bounding off
to let out a few dogs.  He opened the door and went right into their
house, and the consequence was that one of the Newfoundlands threw him
over in the straw, and licked his face; and the Skye terriers came
trooping round, and they also paid their addresses to him, some of the
young ones jumping over his head, while Archie could do nothing for
laughing.  When he got up he sang out "Attention!" and lo! and behold
the dogs, every one looking wiser than another, some with their
considering-caps on apparently, and their heads held knowingly to one
side.

"Attention!" cried the boy.  "I am going to-day to shoot the fox that
ran off with the hen Ann's husband.  I shall want some of you.  You
Bounder, and you little Fuss, and you Tackier, come."

And come those three dogs did, while the rest, with lowered tails and
pitiful looks, slunk away to their straw.  Bounder was an enormous
Newfoundland, and Fuss and Tackier were terriers, the former a Skye, the
latter a very tiny but exceedingly game Yorkie.

Yonder, gun on shoulder, came tall, stately Branson, the keeper, clad in
velveteen, with gaiters on.  Branson was a Northumbrian, and a grand
specimen too.  He might have been somewhat slow of speech, but he was
not slow to act whenever it came to a scuffle with poachers, and this
last was not an unfrequent occurrence.

"My gun, Branson?"

"It's in the kitchen, Master Archie, clean and ready; and old Kate has
put a couple of corks in it, for fear it should go off."

"Oh, it is loaded then--really loaded!"

"Ay, lad; and I've got to teach you how to carry it.  This is your first
day on the hill, mind, and a rough one it is."

Archie soon got his leggings on, and his shot-belt and shooting-cap and
everything else, in true sportsman fashion.

"What!" he said at the hall door, when he met Mr Walton, "am I to have
my tutor with me _to-day_?"

He put strong emphasis on the last word.

"You know, Mr Walton, that I am ten to-day.  I suppose I am conceited,
but I almost feel a man."

His tutor laughed, but by no means offensively.

"My dear Archie, I _am_ going to the hill; but don't imagine I'm going
as your tutor, or to look after you.  Oh, no!  I want to go as your
friend."

This certainly put a different complexion on the matter.

Archie considered for a moment, then replied, with charming
condescension:

"Oh, yes, of course, Mr Walton!  You are welcome, I'm sure, to come _as
a friend_."

CHAPTER THREE.

A DAY OF ADVENTURE.

If we have any tears all ready to flow, it is satisfactory to know that
they will not be required at present.  If we have poetic fire and
genius, even these gifts may for the time being be held in reservation.
No "Ode to a Dying Fox" or "Elegy on the Death and Burial of Reynard"
will be necessary.  For Reynard did not die; nor was he shot; at least,
not sufficiently shot.

In one sense this was a pity.  It resulted in mingled humiliation and
bitterness for Archie and for the dogs.  He had pictured to himself a
brief moment of triumph when he should return from the chase, bearing in
his hand the head of his enemy--the murderer of the Ann hen's husband--
and having the brush sticking out of his jacket pocket; return to be
crowned, figuratively speaking, with festive laurel by Elsie, his
sister, and looked upon by all the servants with a feeling of awe as a
future Nimrod.

In another sense it was not a pity; that is, for the fox.  This sable
gentleman had enjoyed a good run, which made him hungry, and as happy as
only a fox can be who knows the road through the woods and wilds to a
distant burrow, where a bed of withered weeds awaits him, and where a
nice fat hen is hidden.  When Reynard had eaten his dinner and licked
his chops, he laid down to sleep, no doubt laughing in his paw at the
boy's futile efforts to capture or kill him, and promising himself the
pleasure of a future moonlight visit to Burley Old Farm, from which he
should return with the Ann hen herself on his shoulder.

Yes, Archie's hunt had been unsuccessful, though the day had not ended
without adventure, and he had enjoyed the pleasures of the chase.

Bounder, the big Newfoundland, first took up the scent, and away he went
with Fuss and Tackier at his heels, the others following as well as they
could, restraining the dogs by voice and gesture.  Through the spruce
woods, through a patch of pine forest, through a wild tangle of tall,
snow-laden furze, out into the open, over a stream, and across a wide
stretch of heathery moorland, round quarries and rocks, and once more
into a wood.  This time it was stunted larch, and in the very centre of
it, close by a cairn of stones, Bounder said--and both Fuss and Tackier
acquiesced--that Reynard had his den.  But how to get him out?

"You two little chaps get inside," Bounder seemed to say.  "I'll stand
here; and as soon as he bolts, I shall make the sawdust fly out of him,
you see!"

Escape for the fox seemed an impossibility.  He had more than one
entrance to his den, but all were carefully blocked up by the keeper
except his back and front door.  Bounder guarded the latter, Archie went
to watch by the former.

"Keep quiet and cool now, and aim right behind the shoulder."

Quiet and cool indeed! how could he?  Under such exciting circumstances,
his heart was thumping like a frightened pigeon's, and his cheeks
burning with the rush of blood to them.

He knelt down with his gun ready, and kept his eyes on the hole.  He
prayed that Reynard might not bolt by the front door, for that would
spoil his sport.

The terrier made it very warm for the fox in his den.  Small though the
little Yorkie was, his valour was wonderful.  Out in the open Reynard
could have killed them one by one, but here the battle was unfair, so
after a few minutes of a terrible scrimmage the fox concluded to bolt.

Archie saw his head at the hole, half protruded then drawn back, and his
heart thumped now almost audibly.

Would he come?  Would he dare it?

Yes, the fox dared it, and came.  He dashed out with a wild rush, like a
little hairy hurricane.  "Aim behind the shoulder!"  Where was the
shoulder?  Where was anything but a long sable stream of something
feathering through the snow?

Bang! bang! both barrels.  And down rolled the fox.  Yes, no.  Oh dear,
it was poor Fuss!  The fox was half a mile away in a minute.

Fuss lost blood that stained the snow brown as it fell on it.  And
Archie shed bitter tears of sorrow and humiliation.

"Oh, Fuss, my dear, dear doggie!" he cried, "_I_ didn't mean to hurt
you."

The Skye terrier was lying on the keeper's knees and having a snow
styptic.

Soon the blood ceased to flow, and Fuss licked his young master's hands,
and presently got down and ran around and wanted to go to earth again;
and though Archie felt he could never forgive himself for his
awkwardness, he was so happy to see that Fuss was not much the worse
after all.

But there would be no triumphant home-returning; he even began to doubt
if ever he would be a sportsman.  Then Branson consoled him, and told
him he himself didn't do any better when he first took to the hill.

"It is well," said Mr Walton, laughing, "that you didn't shoot me
instead."

"Ye-es," said Archie slowly, looking at Fuss.  It was evident he was not
quite convinced that Mr Walton was right.

"Fuss is none the worse," cried Branson.  "Oh, I can tell you it does
these Scotch dogs good to have a drop or two of lead in them!  It makes
them all the steadier, you know."

About an hour after, to his exceeding delight, Archie shot a hare.  Oh
joy!  Oh day of days!  His first hare!  He felt a man now, from the top
of his Astrachan cap to the toe caps of his shooting-boots.

Bounder picked it up, and brought it and laid it at Archie's feet.

"Good dog! you shall carry it."

Bounder did so most delightedly.

They stopped at an outlying cottage on their way home.  It was a long,
low, thatched building, close by a wood, a very humble dwelling indeed.

A gentle-faced widow woman opened to their knock.  She looked scared
when she saw them, and drew back.

"Oh!" she said, "I hope Robert hasn't got into trouble again?"

"No, no, Mrs Cooper, keep your mind easy, Bob's a' right at present.
We just want to eat our bit o' bread and cheese in your sheiling."

"And right welcome ye are, sirs.  Come in to the fire.  Here's a broom
to brush the snow fra your leggins."

Bounder marched in with the rest, with as much swagger and independence
as if the cottage belonged to him.  Mrs Cooper's cat determined to
defend her hearth and home against such intrusion, and when Bounder
approached the former, she stood on her dignity, back arched, tail
erect, hair on end from stem to stern, with her ears back, and green
fire lurking in her eyes.  Bounder stood patiently looking at her.  He
would not put down the hare, and he could not defend himself with it in
his mouth; so he was puzzled.  Pussy, however, brought matters to a
crisis.  She slapped his face, then bolted right up the chimney.
Bounder put down the hare now, and gave a big sigh as he lay down beside
it.

"No, Mrs Cooper, Bob hasn't been at his wicked work for some time.
He's been gi'en someone else a turn I s'pose, eh?"

"Oh, sirs," said the widow, "it's no wi' my will he goes poachin'!  If
his father's heid were above the sod he daren't do it.  But, poor Bob,
he's all I have in the world, and he works hard--sometimes."

Branson laughed.  It was a somewhat sarcastic laugh; and young Archie
felt sorry for Bob's mother, she looked so unhappy.

"Ay, Mrs Cooper, Bob works hard sometimes, especially when settin'
girns for game.  Ha! ha!  Hullo!" he added, "speak of angels and they
appear.  Here comes Bob himself!"

Bob entered, looked defiantly at the keeper, but doffed his cap and
bowed to Mr Walton and Archie.  "Mother," he said, "I'm going out."

"Not far, Bob, lad; dinner's nearly ready."

Bob had turned to leave, but he wheeled round again almost fiercely.  He
was a splendid young specimen of a Borderer, six feet if an inch, and
well-made to boot.  No extra flesh, but hard and tough as copper bolts.
"Denner!" he growled.  "Ay, denner to be sure--taties and salt!  Ha! and
gentry live on the fat o' the land!  If I snare a rabbit, if I dare to
catch one o' God's own cattle on God's own hills, I'm a felon; I'm to be
taken and put in gaol--shot even if I dare resist!  Yas, mother, I'll be
in to denner," and away he strode.

"Potatoes and salt!"  Archie could not help thinking about that.  And he
was going away to his own bright home and to happiness.  He glanced
round him at the bare, clay walls, with their few bits of daubs of
pictures, and up at the blackened rafters, where a cheese stood--one
poor, hard cheese--and on which hung some bacon and onions.  He could
not repress a sigh, almost as heart-felt as that which Bounder gave when
he lay down beside the hare.

When the keeper and tutor rose to go, Archie stopped behind with Bounder
just a moment.  When they came out, Bounder had no hare.

Yet that hare was the first Archie had shot, and--well, he _had_ meant
to astonish Elsie with this proof of his prowess; but the hare was
better to be left where it was--he had earned a blessing.

The party were in the wood when Bob Cooper, the poacher, sprang up as if
from the earth and confronted them.

"I came here a purpose," he said to Branson.  "This is not your wood;
even if it was I wouldn't mind.  What did you want at my mother's
hoose?"

"Nothing; and I've nothing to say to ye."

"Haven't ye?  But ye were in our cottage.  It's no for nought the glaud
whistles."

"I don't want to quarrel," said Branson, "especially after speakin' to
your mother; she's a kindly soul, and I'm sorry for her and for you
yoursel', Bob."

Bob was taken aback.  He had expected defiance, exasperation, and he was
prepared to fight.

Archie stood trembling as these two athletes looked each other in the
eyes.

But gradually Bob's face softened; he bit his lip and moved impatiently.
The allusion to his mother had touched his heart.

"I didn't want sich words, Branson.  I--may be I don't deserve 'em.  I--
hang it all, give me a grip o' your hand!"

Then away went Bob as quickly as he had come.

Branson glanced at his retreating figure one moment.

"Well," he said, "I never thought I'd shake hands wi' Bob Cooper!  No
matter; better please a fool than fecht 'im."

"Branson!"

"Yes, Master Archie."

"I don't think Bob's a fool; and I'm sure that, bad as he is, he loves
his mother."

"Quite right, Archie," said Mr Walton.

Archie met his father at the gate, and ran towards him to tell him all
his adventures about the fox and the hare.  But Bob Cooper and everybody
else was forgotten when he noticed what and whom he had behind him.  The
"whom" was Branson's little boy, Peter; the "what" was one of the
wildest-looking--and, for that matter, one of the wickedest-looking--
Shetland ponies it is possible to imagine.  Long-haired, shaggy, droll,
and daft; but these adjectives do not half describe him.

"Why, father, wherever--"

"He's your birthday present, Archie."

The boy actually flushed red with joy.  His eyes sparkled as he glanced
from his father to the pony and back at his father again.

"Dad," he said at last, "I know now what old Kate means about `her cup
being full.'  Father, my cup overflows!"

Well, Archie's eyes were pretty nearly overflowing anyhow.

CHAPTER FOUR.

IN THE OLD CASTLE TOWER.

They were all together that evening in the green parlour as usual, and
everybody was happy and merry.  Even Rupert was sitting up and laughing
as much as Elsie.  The clatter of tongues prevented them hearing Mary's
tapping at the door; and the carpet being so thick and soft, she was not
seen until right in the centre of the room.

"Why, Mary," cried Elsie, "I got such a start, I thought you were a
ghost!"

Mary looks uneasily around her.

"There be one ghost, Miss Elsie, comes out o' nights, and walks about
the old castle."

"Was that what you came in to tell us, Mary?"

"Oh, no, sir!  If ye please, Bob Cooper is in the yard, and he wants to
speak to Master Archie.  I wouldn't let him go if I were you, ma'am."

Archie's mother smiled.  Mary was a privileged little parlour maiden,
and ventured at times to make suggestions.

"Go and see what he wants, dear," said his mother to Archie.

It was a beautiful clear moonlight night, with just a few white
snow-laden clouds lying over the woods, no wind and never a hush save
the distant and occasional yelp of a dog.

"Bob Cooper!"

"That's me, Master Archie.  I couldn't rest till I'd seen ye the night.
The hare--"

"Oh! that's really nothing, Bob Cooper!"

"But allow me to differ.  It's no' the hare altogether.  I know where to
find fifty.  It was the way it was given.  Look here, lad, and this is
what I come to say, Branson and you have been too much for Bob Cooper.
The day I went to that wood to thrash him, and I'd hae killed him, an I
could.  Ha! ha!  I shook hands with him!  Archie Broadbent, your
father's a gentleman, and they say you're a chip o' t'old block.  I
believe 'em, and look, see, lad, I'll never be seen in your preserves
again.  Tell Branson so.  There's my hand on't.  Nay, never be afear'd
to touch it.  Good-night.  I feel better now."

And away strode the poacher, and Archie could hear the sound of his
heavy tread crunching through the snow long after he was out of sight.

"You seem to have made a friend, Archie," said his father, when the boy
reported the interview.

"A friend," added Mr Walton with a quiet smile, "that I wouldn't be too
proud of."

"Well," said the Squire, "certainly Bob Cooper is a rough nut, but who
knows what his heart may be like?"

Archie's room in the tower was opened in state next day.  Old Kate
herself had lit fires in it every night for a week before, though she
never would go up the long dark stair without Peter.  Peter was only a
mite of a boy, but wherever he went, Fuss, the Skye terrier, accompanied
him, and it was universally admitted that no ghost in its right senses
would dare to face Fuss.

Elsie was there of course, and Rupert too, though he had to be almost
carried up by stalwart Branson.  But what a glorious little room it was
when you were in it!  A more complete boy's own room could scarcely be
imagined.  It was a _beau ideal_; at least Rupert and Archie and Elsie
thought so, and even Mr Walton and Branson said the same.

Let me see now, I may as well try to describe it, but much must be left
to imagination.  It was not a very big room, only about twelve feet
square; for although the tower appeared very large from outside, the
abnormal thickness of its walls detracted from available space inside
it.  There was one long window on each side, and a chair and small table
could be placed on the sill of either.  But this was curtained off at
night, when light came from a huge lamp that depended from the ceiling,
and the rays from which fought for preference with those from the
roaring fire on the stone hearth.  The room was square.  A door, also
curtained, gave entrance from the stairway at one corner, and at each of
two other corners were two other doors leading into turret chambers, and
these tiny, wee rooms were very delightful, because you were out beyond
the great tower when you sat in them, and their slits of windows granted
you a grand view of the charming scenery everywhere about.

The furniture was rustic in the extreme--studiously so.  There was a
tall rocking-chair, a great dais or sofa, and a recline for
Rupert--"poor Rupert" as he was always called--the big chair was the
guest's seat.

The ornaments on the walls had been principally supplied by Branson.
Stuffed heads of foxes, badgers, and wild cats, with any number of
birds' and beasts' skins, artistically mounted.  There were also heads
of horned deer, bows and arrows--these last were Archie's own--and
shields and spears that Uncle Ramsay had brought home from savage wars
in Africa and Australia.  The dais was covered with bear skins, and
there was quite a quantity of skins on the floor instead of a carpet.
So the whole place looked primeval and romantic.

The bookshelf was well supplied with readable tales, and a harp stood in
a corner, and on this, young though she was, Elsie could already play.

The guest to-night was old Kate.  She sat in the tall chair in a corner
opposite the door, Branson occupied a seat near her, Rupert was on his
recline, and Archie and Elsie on a skin, with little Peter nursing
wounded Fuss in a corner.

That was the party.  But Archie had made tea, and handed it round; and
sitting there with her cup in her lap, old Kate really looked a strange,
weird figure.  Her face was lean and haggard, her eyes almost wild, and
some half-grey hair peeped from under an uncanny-looking cap of black
crape, with long depending strings of the same material.

Old Kate was housekeeper and general female factotum.  She was really a
distant relation of the Squire, and so had it very much her own way at
Burley Old Farm.

She came originally from "just ayant the Border," and had a wealth of
old-world stories to tell, and could sing queer old bits of ballads too,
when in the humour.

Old Kate, however, said she could not sing to-night, for she felt as yet
unused to the place; and whether they (the boys) believed in ghosts or
not she (Kate) did, and so, she said, had her father before her.  But
she told stories--stories of the bloody raids of long, long ago, when
Northumbria and the Scottish Borders were constantly at war--stories
that kept her hearers enthralled while they listened, and to which the
weird looks and strange voice of the narrator lent a peculiar charm.

Old Kate was just in the very midst of one of these when, twang! one of
the strings of Elsie's harp broke.  It was a very startling sound
indeed; for as it went off it seemed to emit a groan that rang through
the chamber, and died away in the vaulted roof.  Elsie crept closer to
Archie, and Peter with Fuss drew nearer the fire.

The ancient dame, after being convinced that the sound was nothing
uncanny, proceeded with her narrative.  It was a long one, with an old
house in it by the banks of a winding river in the midst of woods and
wilds--a house that, if its walls had been able to speak, could have
told many a marrow-freezing story of bygone times.

There was a room in this house that was haunted.  Old Kate was just
coming to this, and to the part of her tale on which the ghosts on a
certain night of the year always appeared in this room, and stood over a
dark stain in the centre of the floor.

"And ne'er a ane," she was saying, "could wash that stain awa'.  Weel,
bairns, one moonlicht nicht, and at the deadest hoor o' the nicht,
nothing would please the auld laird but he maun leave his chaimber and
go straight along the damp, dreary, long corridor to the door o' the
hauntid room.  It was half open, and the moon's licht danced in on the
fleer.  He was listening--he was looking--"

But at this very moment, when old Kate had lowered her voice to a
whisper, and the tension at her listeners' heart-strings was the
greatest, a soft, heavy footstep was heard coming slowly, painfully as
it might be, up the turret stairs.

To say that every one was alarmed would but poorly describe their
feelings.  Old Kate's eyes seemed as big as watch-glasses.  Elsie
screamed, and clung to Archie.

"Who--oo--'s--Who's there?" cried Branson, and his voice sounded fearful
and far away.

No answer; but the steps drew nearer and nearer.  Then the curtain was
pushed aside, and in dashed--what? a ghost?--no, only honest great
Bounder.

Bounder had found out there was something going on, and that Fuss was up
there, and he didn't see why he should be left out in the cold.  That
was all; but the feeling of relief when he did appear was unprecedented.

Old Kate required another cup of tea after that.  Then Branson got out
his fiddle from a green baize bag; and if he had not played those merry
airs, I do not believe that old Kate would have had the courage to go
downstairs that night at all.

Archie's pony was great fun at first.  The best of it was that he had
never been broken in.  The Squire, or rather his bailiff, had bought him
out of a drove; so he was, literally speaking, as wild as the hills, and
as mad as a March hare.  But he soon knew Archie and Elsie, and, under
Branson's supervision, Scallowa was put into training on the lawn.  He
was led, he was walked, he was galloped.  But he reared, and kicked, and
rolled whenever he thought of it, and yet there was not a bit of vice
about him.

Spring had come, and early summer itself, before Scallowa permitted
Archie to ride him, and a week or two after this the difficulty would
have been to have told which of the two was the wilder and dafter,
Archie or Scallowa.  They certainly had managed to establish the most
amicable relations.  Whatever Scallowa thought, Archie agreed to, and
_vice versa_, and the pair were never out of mischief.  Of course Archie
was pitched off now and then, but he told Elsie he did not mind it, and
in fact preferred it to constant uprightness: it was a change.  But the
pony never ran away, because Archie always had a bit of carrot in his
pocket to give him when he got up off the ground.

Mr Walton assured Archie that these carrots accounted for his many
tumbles.  And there really did seem to be a foundation of truth about
this statement.  For of course the pony had soon come to know that it
was to his interest to throw his rider, and acted accordingly.  So after
a time Archie gave the carrot-payment up, and matters were mended.

It was only when school was over that Archie went for a canter, unless
he happened to get up very early in the morning for the purpose of
riding.  And this he frequently did, so that, before the summer was
done, Scallowa and Archie were as well known over all the countryside as
the postman himself.

Archie's pony was certainly not very long in the legs, but nevertheless
the leaps he could take were quite surprising.

On the second summer after Archie got this pony, both horse and rider
were about perfect in their training, and in the following winter he
appeared in the hunting-field with the greatest _sang-froid_, although
many of the farmers, on their weight-carrying hunters, could have jumped
over Archie, Scallowa, and all.  The boy had a long way to ride to the
hounds, and he used to start off the night before.  He really did not
care where he slept.  Old Kate used to make up a packet of sandwiches
for him, and this would be his dinner and breakfast.  Scallowa he used
to tie up in some byre, and as often as not Archie would turn in beside
him among the straw.  In the morning he would finish the remainder of
Kate's sandwiches, make his toilet in some running stream or lake, and
be as fresh as a daisy when the meet took place.

Both he and Scallowa were somewhat uncouth-looking.  Elsie, his sister,
had proposed that he should ride in scarlet, it would look so romantic
and pretty; but Archie only laughed, and said he would not feel at home
in such finery, and his "Eider Duck"--as he sometimes called the pony--
would not know him.  "Besides, Elsie," he said, "lying down among straw
with scarlets on wouldn't improve them."

But old Kate had given him a birthday present of a little Scotch
Glengarry cap with a real eagle's feather, and he always wore this in
the hunting-field.  He did so for two reasons; first, it pleased old
Kate; and, secondly, the cap stuck to his head; no breeze could blow it
off.

It was not long before Archie was known in the field as the "Little
Demon Huntsman."  And, really, had you seen Scallowa and he feathering
across a moor, his bonnet on the back of his head, and the pony's
immense mane blowing straight back in the wind, you would have thought
the title well earned.  In a straight run the pony could not keep up
with the long-legged horses; but Archie and he could dash through a
wood, and even swim streams, and take all manner of short cuts, so that
he was always in at the death.

The most remarkable trait in Archie's riding was that he could take
flying leaps from heights: only a Shetland pony could have done this.
Archie knew every yard of country, and he rather liked heading his
Lilliputian nag right away for a knoll or precipice, and bounding off it
like a roebuck or Scottish deerhound.  The first time he was observed
going straight for a bank of this kind he created quite a sensation.
"The boy will be killed!" was the cry, and every lady then drew rein and
held her breath.

Away went Scallowa, and they were on the bank, in the air, and landed
safely, and away again in less time that it takes me to tell of the
exploit.

The secret of the lad's splendid management of the pony was this: he
loved Scallowa, and Scallowa knew it.  He not only loved the little
horse, but studied his ways, so he was able to train him to do quite a
number of tricks, such as lying down "dead" to command, kneeling to
ladies--for Archie was a gallant lad--trotting round and round
circus-fashion, and ending every performance by coming and kissing his
master.  Between you and me, reader, a bit of carrot had a good deal to
do with the last trick, if not with the others also.

It occurred to this bold boy once that he might be able to take Scallowa
up the dark tower stairs to the boy's own room.  The staircase was
unusually wide, and the broken stones in it had been repaired with logs
of wood.  He determined to try; but he practised riding him blindfolded
first.  Then one day he put him at the stairs; he himself went first
with the bridle in his hand.

What should he do if he failed?  That is a question he did not stop to
answer.  One thing was quite certain, Scallowa could not turn and go
down again.  On they went, the two of them, all in the dark, except that
now and then a slit in the wall gave them a little light and, far
beneath, a pretty view of the country.  On and on, and up and up, till
within ten feet of the top.

Here Scallowa came to a dead stop, and the conversation between Archie
and his steed, although the latter did not speak English, might have
been as follows: "Come on, `Eider Duck'!"

"Not a step farther, thank you."

"Come on, old horsie!  You can't turn, you know."

"No; not another step if I stay here till doomsday in the afternoon.
Going upstairs becomes monotonous after a time.  No; I'll be shot if I
budge!"

"You'll be shot if you don't.  Gee up, I say; gee up!"

"Gee up yourself; I'm going to sleep."

"I say, Scallowa, look here."

"What's that, eh? a bit of carrot?  Oh, here goes?"  And in a few
seconds more Scallowa was in the room, and had all he could eat of cakes
and carrots.  Archie was so delighted with his success that he must go
to the castle turret, and halloo for Branson and old Kate to come and
see what he had got in the tower.

Old Kate's astonishment knew no bounds, and Branson laughed till his
sides were sore.  Bounder, the Newfoundland, appeared also to appreciate
the joke, and smiled from lug to lug.

"How will you get him down?"

"Carrots," said Archie; "carrots, Branson.  The `Duck' will do anything
for carrots."

The "Duck," however, was somewhat nervous at first, and half-way
downstairs even the carrots appeared to have lost their charm.

While Archie was wondering what he should do now, a loud explosion
seemed to shake the old tower to its very foundation.  It was only
Bounder barking in the rear of the pony.  But the sound had the desired
effect, and down came the "Duck," and away went Archie, so that in a few
minutes both were out on the grass.

And here Scallowa must needs relieve his feelings by lying down and
rolling; while great Bounder, as if he had quite appreciated all the fun
of the affair, and must do something to allay his excitement, went
tearing round in a circle, as big dogs do, so fast that it was almost
impossible to see anything of him distinctly.  He was a dark shape _et
preterea nihil_.

But after a time Scallowa got near to the stair, which only proves that
there is nothing in reason you cannot teach a Shetland pony, if you love
him and understand him.

The secret lies in the motto, "Fondly and firmly."  But, as already
hinted, a morsel of carrot comes in handy at times.

CHAPTER FIVE.

"BOYS WILL BE BOYS."

Bob Cooper was as good as his word, which he had pledged to Archie on
that night at Burley Old Farm, and Branson never saw him again in the
Squire's preserves.

Nor had he ever been obliged to compeer before the Squire himself--who
was now a magistrate--to account for any acts of trespass in pursuit of
game on the lands of other lairds.  But this does not prove that Bob had
given up poaching.  He was discreetly silent about this matter whenever
he met Archie.

He had grown exceedingly fond of the lad, and used to be delighted when
he called at his mother's cottage on his "Eider Duck."  There was always
a welcome waiting Archie here, and whey to drink, which, it must be
admitted, is very refreshing on a warm summer's day.

Well, Bob on these occasions used to show Archie how to make flies, or
busk hooks, and gave him a vast deal of information about outdoor life
and sport generally.

The subject of poaching was hardly ever broached; only once, when he and
Archie were talking together in the little cottage, Bob himself
volunteered the following information:

"The gentry folks, Master Archie, think me a terrible man; and they
wonder I don't go and plough, or something.  La! they little know I've
been brought up in the hills.  Sport I must hae.  I couldna live away
from nature.  But I'm never cruel.  Heigho!  I suppose I must leave the
country, and seek for sport in wilder lands, where the man o' money
doesn't trample on the poor.  Only one thing keeps me here."

He glanced out of the window as he spoke to where his old mother was
cooking dinner _al fresco_--boiling a pot as the gipsy does, hung from a
tripod.

"I know, I know," said Archie.

"How old are you now, Master Archie?"

"Going on for fourteen."

"Is _that_ all?  Why ye're big eno' for a lad o' seventeen!"

This was true.  Archie was wondrous tall, and wondrous brown and
handsome.  His hardy upbringing and constant outdoor exercise, in
summer's shine or winter's snow, fully accounted for his stature and
looks.

"I'm almost getting too big for my pony."

"Ah! no, lad; Shetlands'll carry most anything."

"Well, I must be going, Bob Cooper.  Good-bye."

"Good-bye, Master Archie.  Ah! lad, if there were more o' your kind and
your father's in the country, there would be fewer bad men like--like
me."

"I don't like to hear you saying that, Bob.  Couldn't you be a good man
if you liked?  You're big enough."

The poacher laughed.

"Yes," he replied, "I'm big enough; but, somehow, goodness don't strike
right home to me like.  It don't come natural--that's it."

"My brother Rupert says it is so easy to be good, if you read and pray
God to teach and help you."

"Ah, Master Archie, your brother is good himself, but he doesn't know
all."

"My brother Rupert bade me tell you that; but, oh, Bob, how nice he can
speak.  I can't.  I can fish and shoot, and ride `Eider Duck;' but I
can't say things so pretty as he can.  Well, good-bye again."

"Good-bye again, and tell your brother that I can't be good all at one
jump like, but I'll begin to try mebbe.  So long."

Archie Broadbent might have been said to have two kinds of home
education; one was thoroughly scholastic, the other very practical
indeed.  The Squire was one in a hundred perhaps.  He was devoted to his
farm, and busied himself in the field, manually as well as orally.  I
mean to say that he was of such an active disposition that, while
superintending and giving advice and orders, he put his hand to the
wheel himself.  So did Mr Walton, and whether it was harvest-time or
haymaking, you would have found Squire Broadbent, the tutor, and Archie
hard at it, and even little Elsie doing a little.

I would not like to say that the Squire was a radical, but he certainly
was no believer in the benefits of too much class distinction.  He
thought Burns was right when he said--

"A man's a man for a' that."

Was he any the less liked or less respected by his servants, because he
and his boy tossed hay in the same field with them?  I do not think so,
and I know that the work always went more merrily on when they were
there; and that laughing and even singing could be heard all day long.
Moreover, there was less beer drank, and more tea.  The Squire supplied
both liberally, and any man might have which he chose.  Consequently
there was less, far less, tired-headedness and languor in the evening.
Why, it was nothing uncommon for the lads and lasses of Burley Old Farm
to meet together on the lawn, after a hard day's toil, and dance for
hours to the merry notes of Branson's fiddle.

We have heard of model farms; this Squire's was one; but the servants,
wonderful to say, were contented.  There was never such a thing as
grumbling heard from one year's end to the other.

Christmas too was always kept in the good, grand old style.  Even a yule
log, drawn from the wood, was considered a property of the performances;
and as for good cheer, why there was "lashins" of it, as an Irishman
would say, and fun "galore," to borrow a word from beyond the Border.

Mr Walton was a scholarly person, though you might not have thought so,
had you seen him mowing turnips with his coat off.  He, however, taught
nothing to Archie or Rupert that might not have some practical bearing
on his after life.  Such studies as mathematics and algebra were dull,
in a manner of speaking; Latin was taught because no one can understand
English without it; French and German conversationally; geography not by
rote, but thoroughly; and everything else was either very practical and
useful, or very pleasant.

Music Archie loved, but did not care to play; his father did not force
him; but poor Rupert played the zither.  He loved it, and took to it
naturally.

Rupert got stronger as he grew older, and when Archie was fourteen and
he thirteen, the physician gave good hopes; and he was even able to walk
by himself a little.  But to some extent he would be "Poor Rupert" as
long as he lived.

He read and thought far more than Archie, and--let me whisper it--he
prayed more fervently.

"Oh, Roup," Archie would say, "I should like to be as good as you!
Somehow, I don't feel to need to pray so much, and to have the Lord
Jesus so close to me."

It was a strange conceit this, but Rupert's answer was a good one.

"Yes, Archie, I need comfort more; but mind you, brother, the day may
come when you'll want comfort of this kind too."

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Old Kate really was a queer old witch of a creature, superstitious to a
degree.  Here is an example: One day she came rushing--without taking
time to knock even--into the breakfast parlour.

"Oh, Mistress Broadbent, what a ghast I've gotten!"

"Dear me!" said the Squire's wife; "sit down and tell us.  What is it,
poor Kate?"

"Oh!  Oh!" she sighed.  "Nae wonder my puir legs ached.  Oh! sirs! sirs!

"Ye ken my little pantry?  Well, there's been a board doon on the fleer
for ages o' man, and to-day it was taken out to be scrubbit, and what
think ye was reveeled?"

"I couldn't guess."

"Words, 'oman; words, printed and painted on the timmer--`_Sacred to the
Memory of Dinah Brown, Aged 99_.'  A tombstone, 'oman--a wooden
gravestone, and me standin' on't a' these years."

Here the Squire was forced to burst out into a hearty laugh, for which
his wife reprimanded him by a look.

There was no mistake about the "wooden tombstone," but that this was the
cause of old Kate's rheumatism one might take the liberty to doubt.

Kate was a staunch believer in ghosts, goblins, fairies, kelpies,
brownies, spunkies, and all the rest of the supernatural family; and I
have something to relate in connection with this, though it is not
altogether to the credit of my hero, Archie.

Old Kate and young Peter were frequent visitors to the room in the
tower, for the tea Archie made, and the fires he kept on, were both most
excellent in their way.

"Boys will be boys," and Archie was a little inclined to practical
joking.  It made him laugh, so he said, and laughing made one fat.

It happened that, one dark winter's evening, old Kate was invited up
into the tower, and Branson with Peter came also.  Archie volunteered a
song, and Branson played many a fine old air on his fiddle, so that the
first part of the evening passed away pleasantly and even merrily
enough.  Old Kate drank cup after cup of tea as she sat in that weird
old chair, and, by-and-by, Archie, the naughty boy that he was, led the
conversation round to ghosts.  The ancient dame was in her element now;
she launched forth into story after story, and each was more
hair-stirring than its predecessor.

Elsie and Archie occupied their favourite place on a bear's skin in
front of the low fire; and while Kate still droned on, and Branson
listened with eyes and mouth wide open, the boy might have been noticed
to stoop down, and whisper something in his sister's ear.

Almost immediately after a rattling of chains could be heard in one of
the turrets.  Both Kate and Branson started, and the former could not be
prevailed upon to resume her story till Archie lit a candle and walked
all round the room, drawing back the turret curtains to show no one was
there.

Once again old Kate began, and once again chains were heard to rattle,
and a still more awesome sound followed--a long, low, deep-bass groan,
while at the same time, strange to say, the candle in Archie's hand
burnt blue.  To add to the fearsomeness of the situation, while the
chain continued to rattle, and the groaning now and then, there was a
very appreciable odour of sulphur in the apartment.  This was the
climax.  Old Kate screamed, and the big keeper, Branson, fell on his
knees in terror.  Even Elsie, though she had an inkling of what was to
happen, began to feel afraid.

"There now, granny," cried Archie, having carried the joke far enough,
"here is the groaning ghost."  As he spoke he produced a pair of kitchen
bellows, with a musical reed in the pipe, which he proceeded to sound in
old Kate's very face, looking a very mischievous imp while he did so.

"Oh," said old Kate, "what a scare the laddie has given me.  But the
chain?"

Archie pulled a string, and the chain rattled again.  "And the candle?
That was na canny."

"A dust of sulphur in the wick, granny."  Big Branson looked ashamed of
himself, and old Kate herself began to smile once more.

"But how could ye hae the heart to scare an old wife sae, Master
Archie?"

"Oh, granny, we got up the fun just to show you there were no such
things as ghosts.  Rupert says--and he should know, because he's always
reading--that ghosts are always rats or something."

"Ye maunna frichten me again, laddie.  Will ye promise?"

"Yes, granny, there's my hand on it.  Now sit down and have another cup
of tea, and Elsie will play and sing."

Elsie could sing now, and sweet young voice she had, that seemed to
carry you to happier lands.  Branson always said it made him feel a boy
again, wandering through the woods in summer, or chasing the butterflies
over flowery beds.

And so, albeit Archie had carried his practical joke out to his own
satisfaction, if not to that of every one else, this evening, like many
others that had come before it, and came after it, passed away
pleasantly enough.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

It was in the spring of the same year, and during the Easter holidays,
that a little London boy came down to reside with his aunt, who lived in
one of Archie's father's cottages.

Young Harry Brown had been sent to the country for the express purpose
of enjoying himself, and set about this business forthwith.  He made up
to Archie; in fact, he took so many liberties, and talked to him so
glibly, and with so little respect, that, although Archie had imbued
much of his father's principles as regards liberalism, he did not half
like it.

Perhaps, after all, it was only the boy's manner, for he had never been
to the country at all before, and looked upon every one--Archie
included--who did not know London, as jolly green.  But Archie did not
appreciate it, and, like the traditional worm, he turned, and once again
his love for practical joking got the better of his common-sense.

"Teach us somefink," said Harry one day, turning his white face up.  He
was older, perhaps, than Archie, but decidedly smaller.  "Teach us
somefink, and when you comes to Vitechapel to wisit me, I'll teach you
summut.  My eye, won't yer stare!"

The idea of this white-chafted, unwholesome-looking cad, expecting that
_he_, Squire Broadbent's son, would visit _him_ in Whitechapel!  But
Archie managed to swallow his wrath and pocket his pride for the time
being.

"What shall I teach you, eh?  I suppose you know that potatoes don't
grow on trees, nor geese upon gooseberry-bushes?"

"Yes; I know that taters is dug out of the hearth.  I'm pretty fly for a
young un."

"Can you ride?"

"No."

"Well, meet me here to-morrow at the same time, and I'll bring my
`Duck.'"

"Look 'ere, Johnnie Raw, ye said `_ride_,' not `_swim_.'  A duck teaches
swimmin', not ridin'.  None o' yer larks now!"

Next day Archie swept down upon the Cockney in fine form, meaning to
impress him.

The Cockney was not much impressed; I fear he was not very
impressionable.

"My heye, Johnnie Raw," he roared, "vere did yer steal the moke?"

"Look you here, young Whitechapel, you'll have to guard that tongue of
yours a little, else communications will be cut.  Do you see?"

"It _is_ a donkey, ain't it, Johnnie?"

"Come on to the field and have a ride."

Five minutes afterwards the young Cockney on the "Eider Duck's" back was
tearing along the field at railway speed.  John Gilpin's ride was
nothing to it, nor Tam O'Shanter's on his grey mare, Meg!  Both these
worthies had stuck to the saddle, but this horseman rode upon the neck
of the steed.  Scallowa stopped short at the gate, but the boy flew
over.

Archie found his friend rubbing himself, and looking very serious, and
he felt happier now.

"Call that 'ere donkey a heider duck?  H'm?  I allers thought heider
ducks was soft!

"One to you, Johnnie.  I don't want to ride hany more."

"What else shall I teach you?"

"Hey?"

"Come, I'll show you over the farm."

"Honour bright?  No larks!"

"Yes; no larks!"

"Say honour."

"Honour."

Young Whitechapel had not very much faith in his guide, however; but he
saw more country wonders that day than ever he could have dreamt of;
while his strange remarks kept Archie continually laughing.

Next day the two boys went bird-nesting, and really Archie was very
mischievous.  He showed him a hoody-crow's nest, which he represented as
a green plover's or lapwing's; and a blackbird's nest in a furze-bush,
which he told Harry was a magpie's; and so on, and so forth, till at
last he got tired of the cheeky Cockney, and sent him off on a mile walk
to a cairn of stones, on which he told him crows sometimes sat and
"might have a nest."

Then Archie threw himself on the moss, took out a book, and began to
read.  He was just beginning to repent of his conduct to Harry Brown,
and meant to go up to him like a man when he returned, and crave his
forgiveness.

But somehow, when Harry came back he had so long a face, that wicked
Archie burst out laughing, and forgot all about his good resolve.

"What shall I teach you next?" said Archie.

"Draw it mild, Johnnie; it's 'Arry's turn.  It's the boy's turn to teach
you summut.  Shall we 'ave it hout now wi' the raw uns?  Bunches o'
fives I means.  Hey?"

"I really don't understand you."

"Ha! ha! ha!  I knowed yer was a green 'un, Johnnie.  Can yer fight?
Hey?  'Cause I'm spoilin' for a row."

And Harry Brown threw off his jacket, and began to dance about in
terribly knowing attitudes.

"You had better put on your clothes again," said Archie.  "Fight _you_?
Why I could fling you over the fishpond."

"Ah!  I dessay; but flingin' ain't fightin', Johnnie.  Come, there's no
getting hout of it.  It ain't the first young haristocrat I've
frightened; an' now you're afraid."

That was enough for Archie.  And the next moment the lads were at it.

But Archie had met his match; he went down a dozen times.  He remained
down the last time.

"It is wonderful," he said.  "I quite admire you.  But I've had enough;
I'm beaten."

"Spoken like a plucked 'un.  Haven't swallowed yer teeth, hey?"

"No; but I'll have a horrid black-eye."

"Raw beef, my boy; raw beef."

"Well; I confess I've caught a tartar."

"An' I caught a crab yesterday.  Wot about your eider duck?  My heye!
Johnnie, I ain't been able to sit down conweniently since.  I say,
Johnnie?"

"Well."

"Friends, hey?"

"All right."

Then the two shook hands, and young Whitechapel said if Archie would buy
two pairs of gloves he would show him how it was done.  So Archie did,
and became an apt pupil in the noble art of self-defence; which may be
used at times, but never abused.

However, Archie Broadbent never forgot that lesson in the wood.

CHAPTER SIX.

"JOHNNIE'S GOT THE GRIT IN HIM."

On the day of his fight with young Harry in the wood, Archie returned
home to find both his father and Mr Walton in the drawing-room alone.
His father caught the lad by the arm.  "Been tumbling again off that
pony of yours?"

"No, father, worse.  I'm sure I've done wrong."  He then told them all
about the practical joking, and the _finale_.

"Well," said the Squire, "there is only one verdict.  What do you say,
Walton?"

"Serve him right!"

"Oh, I know that," said Archie; "but isn't it lowering our name to keep
such company?"

"It isn't raising our name, nor growing fresh laurels either, for you to
play practical jokes on this poor London lad.  But as to being in his
company, Archie, you may have to be in worse yet.  But listen!  I want
my son to behave as a gentleman, even in low company.  Remember that
boy, and despise no one, whatever be his rank in life.  Now, go and beg
your mother's and sister's forgiveness for having to appear before them
with a black-eye."

"Archie!" his father called after him, as he was leaving the room.

"Yes, dad?"

"How long do you think it will be before you get into another scrape?"

"I couldn't say for certain, father.  I'm sure I don't want to get into
any.  They just seem to come."

"There's no doubt about one thing, Mr Broadbent," said the tutor
smiling, when Archie had left.

"And that is?"

"He's what everybody says he is, a chip of the old block.  Headstrong,
and all that; doesn't look before he leaps."

"Don't _I_, Walton?"

"Squire, I'm not going to flatter you.  You know you don't."

"Well, my worthy secretary," said the Squire, "I'm glad you speak so
plainly.  I can always come to you for advice when--"

"When you want to," said Walton, laughing.  "All right, mind you do.
I'm proud to be your factor, as well as tutor to your boys.  Now what
about that Chillingham bull?  You won't turn him into the west field?"

"Why not?  The field is well fenced.  All our picturesque beasts are
there.  He is only a show animal, and he is really only a baby."

"True, the bull is not much more than a baby, but--"

The baby in question was the gift of a noble friend to Squire Broadbent;
and so beautiful and picturesque did he consider him, that he would have
permitted him to roam about the lawns, if there did not exist the
considerable probability that he would play battledore and shuttlecock
with the visitors, and perhaps toss old Kate herself over the garden
wall.

So he was relegated to the west field.  This really was a park to all
appearance.  A few pet cattle grazed in it, a flock of sheep, and a
little herd of deer.  They all lived amicably together, and sought
shelter under the same spreading trees from the summer's sun.  The
cattle were often changed, so were the sheep, but the deer were as much
fixtures as the trees themselves.

The changing of sheep or cattle meant fine fun for Archie.  He would be
there in all his glory, doing the work that was properly that of
herdsmen and collie dogs.  There really was not a great deal of need for
collies when Archie was there, mounted on his wild Shetland pony, his
darling "Eider Duck" Scallowa; and it was admittedly a fine sight to see
the pair of them--they seemed made for each other--feathering away
across the field, heading and turning the drove.  At such times he would
be armed with a long whip, and occasionally a beast more rampageous than
the rest would separate itself from the herd, and, with tail erect and
head down, dash madly over the grass.  This would be just the test for
Archie's skill that he longed for.  Away he would go at a glorious
gallop; sometimes riding neck and neck with the runaway and plying the
whip, at other times getting round and well ahead across the beast's
bows with shout and yell, but taking care to manoeuvre so as to steer
clear of an ugly rush.

In this field always dwelt one particular sheep.  It had, like the pony,
been a birthday present, and, like the pony, it hailed from the _Ultima
Thule_ of the British North.  If ever there was a demon sheep in
existence, surely this was the identical quadruped.  Tall and lank, and
daft-looking, it possessed almost the speed of a red deer, and was as
full of mischief as ever sheep could be.  The worst of the beast was,
that he led all the other woolly-backs into mischief; and whether it
proposed a stampede round the park, ending with a charge through the
ranks of the deer, or a well-planned attempt at escape from the field
altogether, the other sheep were always willing to join, and sometimes
the deer themselves.

Archie loved that sheep next to the pony, and there were times when he
held a meet of his own.  Mousa, as he called him, would be carted, after
the fashion of the Queen's deer, to a part of the estate, miles from
home; but it was always for home that Mousa headed, though not in a true
line.  No, this wonderful sheep would take to the woods as often as not,
and scamper over the hills and far away, so that Archie had many a fine
run; and the only wonder is that Scallowa and he did not break their
necks.

The young Chillingham bull was as beautiful as a dream--a nightmare for
instance.  He was not very large, but sturdy, active, and strong.
Milk-white, or nearly so, with black muzzle and crimson ears inside,
and, you might say, eyes as well.  Pure white black-tipped horns, erect
almost, and a bit of a mane which added to his picturesqueness and wild
beauty.  His name was Lord Glendale, and his pedigree longer than the
Laird o' Cockpen's.

Now, had his lordship behaved himself, he certainly would have been an
ornament to the society of Westfield.  But he wouldn't or couldn't.
Baby though he was, he attempted several times to vivisect his
companions; and one day, thinking perhaps that Mousa did not pay him
sufficient respect, his lordship made a bold attempt to throw him over
the moon.  So it was determined that Lord Glendale should be removed
from Westfield.  At one end of the park was a large, strong fence, and
Branson and others came to the conclusion that Glendale would be best
penned, and have a ring put in his nose.

Yes, true; but penning a Chillingham wild baby-bull is not so simple as
penning a letter.  There is more _present_ risk about the former
operation, if not _future_.

"Well, it's got to be done," said Branson.

"Yes," said Archie, who was not far off, "it's got to be done."

"Oh, Master Archie, you _can't_ be in this business!"

"Can't I, Branson?  You'll see."

And Branson did see.  He saw Archie ride into the west field on
Scallowa, both of them looking in splendid form.  Men with poles and
ropes and dogs followed, some of the former appearing not to relish the
business by any means.

However, it would probably be an easier job than they thought.  The plan
would be to get the baby-bull in the centre of the other cattle,
manoeuvre so as to keep him there, and so pen all together.--This might
have been done had Archie kept away, but it so happened that his
lordship was on particularly good terms with himself this morning.
Moreover, he had never seen a Shetland pony before.  What more natural,
therefore, than a longing on the part of Lord Glendale to examine the
little horse _inside_ as well as out?

"Go gently now, lads," cried Branson.  "Keep the dogs back, Peter, we
must na' alarm them."

Lord Glendale did not condescend to look at Branson.  He detached
himself quietly from the herd, and began to eat up towards the spot
where Archie and his "Duck" were standing like some pretty statue.
Eating up towards him is the correct expression, as everyone who knows
bulls will admit; for his lordship did not want to alarm Archie till he
was near enough for the grand rush.  Then the fun would commence, and
Lord Glendale would see what the pony was made of.  While he kept
eating, or rather pretending to eat, his sly red eyes were fastened on
Archie.

Now, had it been Harry Brown, the Whitechapel boy, this ruse on the part
of the baby-bull might have been successful.  But Archie Broadbent was
too old for his lordship.  He pretended, however, to take no notice; but
just as the bull was preparing for the rush he laughed derisively,
flicked Lord Glendale with the whip, and started.

Lord Glendale roared with anger and disappointment.

"Oh, Master Archie," cried Branson, "you shouldn't have done that!"

Now the play began in earnest.  Away went Archie on Scallowa, and after
him tore the bull.  Archie's notion was to tire the brute out, and there
was some very pretty riding and manoeuvring between the two
belligerents.  Perhaps the bull was all too young to be easily tired,
for the charges he made seemed to increase in fierceness each time, but
Archie easily eluded him.

Branson drove the cattle towards the pen, and got them inside, then he
and his men concentrated all their attention on the combatants.

"The boy'll be killed as sure as a gun!" cried the keeper.  Archie did
not think so, evidently; and it is certain he had his wits about him,
for presently he rode near enough to shout:

"Ease up a hurdle from the back of the pen, and stand by to open it as I
ride through."

The plan was a bold one, and Branson saw through it at once.

Down he ran with his men, and a back hurdle was loosened.

"All right!" he shouted.

And now down thundered Scallowa and Archie, the bull making a beautiful
second.

In a minute or less he had entered the pen, but this very moment the
style of the fight changed somewhat; for had not the attention of
everyone been riveted on the race, they might have seen the great
Newfoundland dashing over the field, and just as Lord Glendale was
entering the pen, Bounder pinned him short by the tail.

The brute roared with pain and wheeled round.  Meanwhile Archie had
escaped on the pony, and the back hurdle was put up again.  But how
about the new phase the fight had taken?

Once more the boy's quick-wittedness came to the front.  He leapt off
the pony and back into the pen, calling aloud, "Bounder!  Bounder!
Bounder!"

In rushed the obedient dog, and after him came the bull; up went the
hurdle, and off went Archie!  But, alas! for the unlucky Bounder.  He
was tossed right over into the field a moment afterwards, bleeding
frightfully from a wound in his side.

To all appearance Bounder was dead.  In an agony of mind the boy tried
to staunch the blood with his handkerchief; and when at last the poor
dog lifted his head, and licked his young master's face, the relief to
his feelings was so great that he burst into tears.  Archie was only a
boy after all, though a bold and somewhat mischievous one.

Bounder now drank water brought from a stream in a hat.  He tried to get
up, but was too weak to walk, so he was lifted on to Scallowa's broad
back and held there, and thus they all returned to Burley Old Farm.

So ended the adventure with the baby-bull of Chillingham.  The ring was
put in his nose next day, and I hope it did not hurt much.  But old Kate
had Bounder as a patient in the kitchen corner for three whole weeks.

A day or two after the above adventure, and just as the Squire was
putting on his coat in the hall, who should march up to the door and
knock but Harry Brown himself.

Most boys would have gone to the backdoor, but shyness was not one of
Harry's failings.

"'Ullo!" he said; for the door opened almost on the instant he knocked,
"Yer don't take long to hopen to a chap then."

"No," said Squire Broadbent, smiling down on the lad; "fact is, boy, I
was just going out."

"Going for a little houting, hey?  Is 'pose now you're Johnnie's
guv'nor?"

"I think I know whom you refer to.  Master Archie, isn't it? and you're
the little London lad?"

"I don't know nuffink about no Harchies.  P'r'aps it _is_ Harchibald.
But I allers calls my friends wot they looks like.  He looks like
Johnnie.  Kinsevently, guv'nor, he _is_ Johnnie to me.  D'ye twig?"

"I think I do," said Squire Broadbent, laughing; "and you want to see my
boy?"

"Vot I vants is this 'ere.  Johnnie is a rare game un.  'Scuse me,
guv'nor, but Johnnie's got the grit in him, and I vant to say good-bye;
nuffink else, guv'nor."

Here Harry actually condescended to point a finger at his lip by way of
salute, and just at the same moment Archie himself came round the
corner.  He looked a little put out, but his father only laughed, and he
saw it was all right.

These were Harry's last words: "Good-bye, then.  You've got the grit in
ye, Johnnie.  And if hever ye vants a friend, telegraph to 'Arry Brown,
Esq., of Vitechapel, 'cos ye know, Johnnie, the king may come in the
cadger's vay.  Adoo.  So long.  Blue-lights, and hoff we goes."

CHAPTER SEVEN.

"THEY'RE UP TO SOME BLACK WORK TO-NIGHT."

Another summer flew all too fast away at Burley Old Farm and Castle
Tower.  The song of birds was hushed in the wild woods, even the
corn-crake had ceased its ventriloquistic notes, and the plaintive wee
lilt of the yellow-hammer was heard no more.  The corn grew ripe on
braeland and field, was cut down, gathered, stooked, and finally carted
away.  The swallows flew southwards, but the peewits remained in droves,
and the starlings took up their abode with the sheep.  Squires and
sturdy farmers might now have been met tramping, gun in hand, over the
stubble, through the dark green turnip-fields, and over the distant
moorlands, where the crimson heather still bloomed so bonnie.

Anon, the crisp leaves, through which the wind now swept with harsher
moan, began to change to yellows, crimsons, and all the hues of sunset,
and by-and-by it was hunting-time again.

Archie was unusually thoughtful one night while the family sat, as of
yore, round the low fire in the green parlour, Elsie and Rupert being
busy in their corner over a game of chess.

"In a brown study, Archie?" said his mother.

"_No_, mummie; that is, Yes, I was thinking--"

"Wonders will never cease," said Rupert, without looking up.  Archie
looked towards him, but his brother only smiled at the chessmen.  The
boy was well enough now to joke and laugh.  Best of signs and most
hopeful.

"I was thinking that my legs are almost too long now to go to the meet
on poor Scallowa.  Not that Scallowa would mind.  But don't you think,
mummie dear, that a long boy on a short pony looks odd?"

"A little, Archie."

"Well, why couldn't father let me have Tell to-morrow?  He is not going
out himself."

His father was reading the newspaper, but he looked at Archie over it.
Though only his eyes were visible, the boy knew he was smiling.

"If you think you won't break your neck," he said, "you may take Tell."

"Oh," Archie replied, "I'm quite sure I won't break _my_ neck!"

The Squire laughed now outright.

"You mean you _might_ break Tell's, eh?"

"Well, dad, I didn't _say_ that."

"_No_, Archie, but you _thought_ it."

"I'm afraid, dad, the emphasis fell on the wrong word."

"Never mind, Archie, where the emphasis falls; but if you let Tell fall
the emphasis will fall where you won't like it."

"All right, dad, I'll chance the emphasis.  Hurrah!"

The Squire and Mr Walton went off early next day to a distant town, and
Branson had orders to bring Tell round to the hall door at nine sharp;
which he did.  The keeper was not groom, but he was the tallest man
about, and Archie thought he would want a leg up.

Archie's mother was there, and Elsie, and Rupert, and old Kate, and
little Peter, to say nothing of Bounder and Fuss, all to see "t' young
Squire mount."  But no one expected the sight they did see when Archie
appeared; for the lad's sense of fun and the ridiculous was quite
irrepressible.  And the young rascal had dressed himself from top to toe
in his father's hunting-rig--boots, cords, red coat, hat, and all
complete.  Well, as the boots were a mile and a half too big for him--
more or less, and the breeches and coat would have held at least three
Archie Broadbents, while the hat nearly buried his head, you may guess
what sort of a guy he looked.  Bounder drew back and barked at him.  Old
Kate turned her old eyes cloudwards, and held up her palms.  Branson for
politeness' sake _tried_ not to laugh; but it was too much, he went off
at last like a soda-water cork, and the merriment rippled round the ring
like wildfire.  Even poor Rupert laughed till the tears came.  Then back
into the house ran Archie, and presently re-appeared dressed in his own
velvet suit.

But Archie had not altogether cooled down yet.  He had come to the
conclusion that having an actual leg up, was not an impressive way of
getting on to his hunter; so after kissing his mother, and asking Rupert
to kiss Elsie for him, he bounded at one spring to Branson's shoulder,
and from this elevation bowed and said "good morning," then let himself
neatly down to the saddle.

"Tally ho!  Yoicks!" he shouted.  Then clattered down the avenue,
cleared the low, white gate, and speedily disappeared across the fields.

Archie had promised himself a rare day's run, and he was not
disappointed.  The fox was an old one and a wily one--and, I might add,
a very gentlemanly old fox--and he led the field one of the prettiest
dances that Dawson, the greyest-headed huntsman in the North, ever
remembered; but there was no kill.  No; Master Reynard knew precisely
where he was going, and got home all right, and went quietly to sleep as
soon as the pack drew off.

The consequence was that Archie found himself still ten miles from home
as gloaming was deepening into night.  Another hour he thought would
find him at Burley Old Farm.  But people never know what is before them,
especially hunting people.

It had been observed by old Kate, that after Archie left in the morning,
Bounder seemed unusually sad.  He refused his breakfast, and behaved so
strangely that the superstitious dame was quite alarmed.

"I'll say naething to the ladies," she told one of the servants, "but,
woe is me!  I fear that something awfu' is gain tae happen.  I houp the
young laddie winna brak his neck.  He rode awa' sae daft-like.  He is
just his faither a' ower again."

Bounder really had something on his mind; for dogs do think far more
than we give them credit for.  Well, the Squire was off, and also Mr
Walton, and now his young master had flown.  What did it mean?  Why he
would find out before he was many hours older.  So ran Bounder's
cogitations.

To think was to act with Bounder; so up he jumped, and off he trotted.
He followed the scent for miles; then he met an errant collie, and
forgetting for a time all about his master, he went off with him.  There
were many things to be done, and Bounder was not in a hurry.  They
chased cows and sheep together merely for mischief's sake; they gave
chase to some rabbits, and when the bunnies took to their holes, they
spent hours in a vain attempt to dig them out.  The rabbits knew they
could never succeed, so they quietly washed their faces and laughed at
them.

They tired at last, and with their heads and paws covered with mould,
commenced to look for mice among the moss.  They came upon a wild bees'
home in a bank, and tore this up, killing the inmates bee by bee as they
scrambled out wondering what the racket meant.  They snapped at the bees
who were returning home, and when both had their lips well stung they
concluded to leave the hive alone.  Honey wasn't _very_ nice after all,
they said.  At sunset they bathed in a mill-dam and swam about till
nearly dusk, because the miller's boy was obliging enough to throw in
sticks for them.  Then the miller's boy fell in himself, and Bounder
took him out and laid him on the bank to drip, neither knowing nor
caring that he had saved a precious life.  But the miller's boy's mother
appeared on the scene and took the weeping lad away, inviting the dogs
to follow.  She showered blessings on their heads, especially on "the
big black one's," as the urchin called Bounder, and she put bread and
milk before them and bade them cat.  The dogs required no second
bidding, and just as Bounder was finishing his meal the sound of hoofs
was heard on the road, and out bounced Bounder, the horse swerved, the
rider was thrown, and the dog began to wildly lick his face.

"So it's you, is it, Bounder?" said Archie.  "A nice trick.  And now
I'll have to walk home a good five miles."

Bounder backed off and barked.  Why did his master go off and leave him
then?  That is what the dog was saying.

"Come on, boy," said Archie.  "There's no help for it; but I do feel
stiff."

They could go straight over the hill, and through the fields and the
wood, that was one consolation.

So off they set, and Archie soon forgot his stiffness and warmed to his
work.

Bounder followed close to his heels, as if he were a very old and a very
wise dog indeed; and harrying bees' hives, or playing with millers'
boys, could find no place in his thoughts.

Archie lost his way once or twice, and it grew quite dark.  He was
wondering what he should do when he noticed a light spring up not far
away, and commenced walking towards it.  It came from the little window
of a rustic cottage, and the boy knew at once now in which way to steer.

Curiosity, however, impelled him to draw near to the window.  He gave
just one glance in, but very quickly drew back.  Sitting round a table
was a gang of half a dozen poachers.  He knew them as the worst and most
notorious evil-doers in all the country round.  They were eating and
drinking, and guns stood in the corners, while the men themselves seemed
ready to be off somewhere.

Away went Archie.  He wanted no nearer acquaintance with a gang like
that.

In his way home he had to pass Bob Cooper's cottage, and thought he
might just look in, because Bob had a whole book of new flies getting
ready for him, and perhaps they were done.

Bob was out, and his mother was sitting reading the good Book by the
light of a little black oil lamp.  She looked very anxious, and said she
felt so.  Her laddie had "never said where he was going.  Only just went
away out, and hadn't come back."

It was Archie's turn now to be anxious, when he thought of the gang, and
the dark work they might be after.  Bob was not among them, but who
could tell that he would not join afterwards?

He bade the widow "Good-night," and went slowly homewards thinking.

He found everyone in a state of extreme anxiety.  Hours ago Tell had
galloped to his stable door, and if there be anything more calculated to
raise alarm than another, it is the arrival at his master's place of a
riderless horse.

But Archie's appearance, alive and intact, dispelled the cloud, and
dinner was soon announced.

"Oh, by the way," said Archie's tutor, as they were going towards the
dining-room, "your old friend Bob Cooper has been here, and wants to see
you!  I think he is in the kitchen now."

Away rushed Archie, and sure enough there was Bob eating supper in old
Kate's private room.

He got up as Archie's entered, and looked shy, as people of his class do
at times.

Archie was delighted.

"I brought the flies, and some new sorts that I think will do for the
Kelpie burn," he said.

"Well, I'm going to dine, Bob; you do the same.  Don't go till I see
you.  How long have you been here?"

"Two hours, anyhow."

When Archie returned he invited Bob to the room in the Castle Tower.
Kate must come too, and Branson with his fiddle.

Away went Archie and his rough friend, and were just finishing a long
debate about flies and fishing when Kate and Peter, and Branson and
Bounder, came up the turret stairs and entered the room.

Archie then told them all of what he had seen that night at the cottage.

"Mark my words for it," said Bob, shaking his head, "they're up to some
black work to-night."

"You mustn't go yet awhile, Bob," Archie said.  "We'll have some fun,
and you're as well where you are."

CHAPTER EIGHT.

THE WIDOW'S LONELY HUT.

Bob Cooper bade Archie and Branson good-bye that night at the bend of
the road, some half mile from his own home, and trudged sturdily on in
the starlight.  There was sufficient light "to see men as trees
walking."

"My mother'll think I'm out in th' woods," Bob said to himself.  "Well,
she'll be glad when she knows she's wrong this time."

Once or twice he started, and looked cautiously, half-fearfully, round
him; for he felt certain he saw dark shadows in the field close by, and
heard the stealthy tread of footsteps.

He grasped the stout stick he carried all the firmer, for the poacher
had made enemies of late by separating himself from a well-known gang of
his old associates--men who, like the robbers in the ancient ballad--

  "Slept all day and waked all night,
  And kept the country round in fright."

On he went; and the strange, uncomfortable feeling at his heart was
dispelled as, on rounding a corner of the road, he saw the light
glinting cheerfully from his mother's cottage.

"Poor old creature," he murmured half aloud, "many a sore heart I've
given her.  But I'll be a better boy now.  I'll--"

"Now, lads," shouted a voice, "have at him!"

"Back!" cried Bob Cooper, brandishing his cudgel.  "Back, or it'll be
worse for you!"

The dark shadows made a rush.  Bob struck out with all his force, and
one after another fell beneath his arm.  But a blow from behind disabled
him at last, and down he went, just as his distracted mother came
rushing, lantern in hand, from her hut.  There was the sharp click of
the handcuffs, and Bob Cooper was a prisoner.  The lantern-light fell on
the uniforms of policemen.

"What is it?  Oh, what has my laddie been doin'?"

"Murder, missus, or something very like it!  There has been dark doin's
in th' hill to-night!"

Bob grasped the nearest policeman by the arm with his manacled hands.
"When--when did ye say it had happened?"

"You know too well, lad.  Not two hours ago.  Don't sham innocence; it
sits but ill on a face like yours."

"Mother," cried Bob bewilderingly, "I know nothing of it!  I'm
innocent!"

But his mother heard not his words.  She had fainted, and with rough
kindness was carried into the hut and laid upon the bed.  When she
revived some what they left her.

It was a long, dismal ride the unhappy man had that night; and indeed it
was well on in the morning before the party with their prisoner reached
the town of B--.

Bob's appearance before a magistrate was followed almost instantly by
his dismissal to the cells again.  The magistrate knew him.  The police
had caught him "red-handed," so they said, and had only succeeded in
making him prisoner "after a fierce resistance."

"Remanded for a week," without being allowed to say one word in his own
defence.

The policeman's hint to Bob's mother about "dark doin's in th' hill" was
founded on fearful facts.  A keeper had been killed after a terrible
_melee_ with the gang of poachers, and several men had been severely
wounded on both sides.

The snow-storm that came on early on the morning after poor Bob Cooper's
capture was one of the severest ever remembered in Northumbria.  The
frost was hard too all day long.  The snow fell incessantly, and lay in
drifts like cliffs, fully seven feet high, across the roads.

The wind blew high, sweeping the powdery snow hither and thither in
gusts.  It felt for all the world like going into a cold shower-bath to
put one's head even beyond the threshold of the door.  Nor did the storm
abate even at nightfall; but next day the wind died down, and the face
of the sky became clear, only along the southern horizon the white
clouds were still massed like hills and cliffs.

It was not until the afternoon that news reached Burley Old Farm of the
fight in the woods and death of the keeper.  It was a sturdy old postman
who had brought the tidings.  He had fought his way through the snow
with the letters, and his account of the battle had well-nigh caused old
Kate to swoon away.  When Mary, the little parlour maid, carried the
mail in to her master she did not hesitate to relate what she had heard.

Squire Broadbent himself with Archie repaired to the kitchen, and found
the postman surrounded by the startled servants, who were drinking in
every word he said.

"One man killed, you say, Allan?"

"Ay, sir, killed dead enough.  And it's a providence they caught the
murderer.  Took him up, sir, just as he was a-goin' into his mother's
house, as cool as a frosted turnip, sir."

"Well, Allan, that is satisfactory.  And what is his name?"

"Bob Cooper, sir, known all over the--"

"Bob Cooper!" cried Archie aghast.  "Why, father, he was in our room in
the turret at the time."

"So he was," said the Squire.  "Taken on suspicion I suppose.  But this
must be seen to at once.  Bad as we know Bob to have been, there is
evidence enough that he has reformed of late.  At all events, he shall
not remain an hour in gaol on such a charge longer than we can help."

Night came on very soon that evening.  The clouds banked up again, the
snow began to fall, and the wind moaned round the old house and castle
in a way that made one feel cold to the marrow even to listen to.

Morning broke slowly at last, and Archie was early astir.  Tell, with
the Shetland pony and a huge great hunter, were brought to the door, and
shortly after breakfast the party started for B--.

Branson bestrode the big hunter--he took the lead--and after him came
the Squire on Tell, and Archie on Scallowa.  This daft little horse was
in fine form this morning, having been in stall for several days.  He
kept up well with the hunters, though there were times that both he and
his rider were all but buried in the gigantic wreaths that lay across
the road.  Luckily the wind was not high, else no living thing could
long have faced that storm.

The cottage in which widow Cooper had lived ever since the death of her
husband was a very primitive and a very poor one.  It consisted only of
two rooms, what are called in Scotland "a butt and a ben."  Bob had been
only a little barefooted boy when his father died, and probably hardly
missed him.  He had been sent regularly to school before then, but not
since, for his mother had been unable to give him further education.
All their support was the morsel of garden, a pig or two, and the fowls,
coupled with whatever the widow could make by knitting ribbed stockings
for the farmer folks around.  Bob grew up wild, just as the birds and
beasts of the hills and woods do.  While, however, he was still a little
mite of a chap, the keepers even seldom molested him.  It was only
natural, they thought, for a boy to act the part of a squirrel or
polecat, and to be acquainted with every bird's nest and rabbit's burrow
within a radius of miles.  When he grew a little older and a trifle
bigger they began to warn him off, and when one day he was met marching
away with a cap full of pheasant's eggs, he received as severe a
drubbing as ever a lad got at the hands of a gamekeeper.

Bob had grown worse instead of better after this.  The keepers became
his sworn enemies, and there was a spice of danger and adventure in
vexing and outwitting them.

Unfortunately, in spite of all his mother said to the contrary, Bob was
firmly impressed with the notion that game of every kind, whether fur or
feather, belonged as much to him as to the gentry who tried to preserve
them.  The fresh air was free; nobody dared to claim the sunshine.  Then
why the wild birds, and the hares and rabbits?

Evil company corrupts good manners.  That is what his copy-book used to
tell him.  But Bob soon learned to laugh at that, and it is no wonder
that as he reached manhood his doings and daring as a poacher became
noted far and near.

He was beyond the control of his mother.  She could only advise him,
read to him, pray for him; but I fear in vain.  Only be it known that
Bob Cooper really loved this mother of his, anomalous though it may
seem.

Well, the keepers had been very harsh with him, and the gentry were
harsh with him, and eke the law itself.  Law indeed!  Why Bob was all
but an outlaw, so intense was his hatred to, and so great his defiance
of the powers that be.

It was strange that what force could not effect, a few soft words from
Branson, and Archie's gift of the hare he had shot on his birthday,
brought about.  Bob Cooper's heart could not have been wholly
adamantine, therefore he began to believe that after all a gamekeeper
might be a good fellow, and that there might even exist gentlefolks
whose chief delight was not the oppression of the poor.  He began after
that to seek for honest work; but, alas! people looked askance at him,
and he found that the path of virtue was one not easily regained when
once deviated from.

His quondam enemy, however, Branson, spoke many a good word for him, and
Bob was getting on, much to his mother's delight and thankfulness, when
the final and crashing blow fell.

Poor old widow Cooper!  For years and years she had but two comforts in
this world; one was her Bible, and the other--do not smile when I tell
you--was her pipie.

Oh! you know, the poor have not much to make them happy and to cheer
their loneliness, so why begrudge the widow her morsel of tobacco?

In the former she learned to look forward to another and a better world,
far beyond that bit of blue sky she could see at the top of her chimney
on a summer's night--a world where everything would be bright and
joyful, where there would be no vexatious rheumatism, no age, and
neither cold nor care.  From the latter she drew sweet forgetfulness of
present trouble, and happy recollections of bygone years.

Sitting there by the hearth all alone--her son perhaps away on the
hill--her thoughts used oftentimes to run away with her.  Once more she
would be young, once again her hair was a bonnie brown, her form little
and graceful, roses mantling in her cheeks, soft light in her eyes.  And
she is wandering through the tasselled broom with David by her side.
"David!  Heigho!" she would sigh as she shook the ashes from her pipie.
"Poor David! it seems a long, long time since he left me for the better
land," and the sunlight would stream down the big, open chimney and fall
upon her skinny hands--fall upon the elfin-like locks that escaped from
beneath her cap--fall, too, on the glittering pages of the Book on her
lap like a promise of better things to come.

Before that sad night, when, while sitting up waiting for her son, she
was startled by the sudden noise of the struggle that commenced at her
door, she thought she had reason to be glad and thankful for the
softening of her boy's heart.

Then all her joy collapsed, her hopes collapsed--fell around her like a
house of cards.  It was a cruel, a terrible blow.

The policeman had carried her in, laid her on the bed with a rough sort
of kindness, made up the fire, then gone out and thought no more about
her.

How she had spent the night need hardly be said; it is better imagined.
She had dropped asleep at last, and when she awoke from fevered dreams
it was daylight out of doors, but darkness in the hut.  The window and
door were snowed up, and only a faint pale light shimmered in through
the chimney, falling on the fireless hearth--a dismal sight.

Many times that day she had tried to rise, but all in vain.  The cold
grew more intense as night drew on, and it did its work on the poor
widow's weakened frame.  Her dreams grew more bright and happy though,
as her body became numbed and insensible.  It was as though the spirit
were rejoicing in its coming freedom.  But dreams left her at last.
Then all was still in the house, save the ticking of the old clock that
hung against the wall.

The Squire speedily effected Bob Cooper's freedom, and he felt he had
really done a good thing.

"Now, Robert," he told him, "you have had a sad experience.  Let it be a
lesson to you.  I'll give you a chance.  Come to Burley, and Branson
will find you honest work as long as you like to do it."

"Lord love you, sir!" cried Bob.  "There are few gentry like you."

"I don't know so much about that, Robert.  You are not acquainted with
all the good qualities of gentlefolks yet.  But now, Branson, how are we
all to get home?"

"Oh, I know!" said Archie.  "Scallowa can easily bear Branson's weight,
and I will ride the big hunter along with Bob."

So this was arranged.

It was getting gloamed ere they neared the widow's lonesome hut.  The
Squire with Branson had left Archie and Bob, and cut across the frozen
moor by themselves.

"How glad my mother will be!" said Bob.

And now they came in sight of the cottage, and Bob rubbed his eyes and
looked again and again, for no smoke came from the chimney, no signs of
life was about.

The icicles hung long and strong from the eaves; one side of the hut was
entirely overblown with drift, and the door in the other looked more
like the entrance to some cave in Greenland north.  Bad enough this was;
but ah, in the inside of the poor little house the driven snow met them
as they pushed open the door!  It had blown down the wide chimney,
covered the hearth, formed a wreath like a sea-wave on the floor, and
even o'er-canopied the bed itself.  And the widow, the mother, lay
underneath.  No, not dead; she breathed, at least.

When the room had been cleared and swept of snow; when a roaring fire
had been built on the hearth, and a little warm tea poured gently down
her throat, she came gradually back again to life, and in a short time
was able to be lifted into a sitting position, and then she recognised
her son and Archie.

"Oh, mother, mother!" cried Bob, the tears streaming over his
sun-browned face, "the Maker'll never forgive me for all the ill I've
done ye."

"Hush!  Bobbie, hush!  What, lad, the Maker no' forgive ye!  Eh, ye
little know the grip o' His goodness!  But you're here, you're innocent.
Thank Him for that."

"Ye'll soon get better, mother, and I'll be so good.  The Squire is to
give me work too."

"It's o'er late for me," she said.  "I'd like to live to see it, but His
will be done."

Archie rode home the giant hunter, but in two hours he was once more
mounted on Scallowa, and feathering back through the snow towards the
little cottage.  The moon had risen now, and the night was starry and
fine.

He tied Scallowa up in the peat shed, and went in unannounced.

He found Bob Cooper sitting before the dying embers of the fire, with
his face buried in his hands, and rocking himself to and fro.

"She--just blessed me and wore away."

That was all he said or could say.  And what words of comfort could
Archie speak?  None.  He sat silently beside him all that livelong
night, only getting up now and then to replenish the fire.  But the
poacher scarcely ever changed his position, only now and then he
stretched out one of his great hands and patted Archie's knee as one
would pet a dog.

A week passed away, and the widow was laid to rest beneath the frozen
ground in the little churchyard by the banks of the river.  Archie went
slowly back with Bob towards the cottage.  On their way thither, the
poacher--poacher now no more though--entered a plantation, and with his
hunting-knife cut and fashioned a rough ash stick.

"We'll say good-bye here, Master Archie."

"What!  You are not going back with me to Burley Old Farm?"

Bob took a small parcel from his pocket, and opening it exposed the
contents.

"Do you know them, Master Archie?"

"Yes, your poor mother's glasses."

"Ay, lad, and as long as I live I'll keep them.  And till my dying day,
Archie, I'll think on you, and your kindness to poor poacher Bob.  No,
I'm not goin' back to Burley, and I'm not going to the cottage again.
I'm going away.  Where?  I couldn't say.  Here, quick, shake hands,
friend.  Let it be over.  Good-bye."

"Good-bye."

And away went Bob.  He stopped when a little way off, and turned as if
he had forgotten something.

"Archie!" he cried.

"Yes, Bob."

"Take care of my mother's cat."

Next minute he leapt a fence, and disappeared in the pine wood.

CHAPTER NINE.

THE WHOLE YARD WAS ABLAZE AND BURNING FIERCELY.

One year is but a brief span in the history of a family, yet it may
bring many changes.  It did to Burley Old Farm, and some of them were
sad enough, though some were glad.  A glad change took place for
instance in the early spring, after Bob's departure; for Rupert appeared
to wax stronger and stronger with the lengthening days; and when Uncle
Ramsay, in a letter received one morning, announced his intention of
coming from London, and making quite a long stay at Burley, Rupert
declared his intention of mounting Scallowa, and riding over to the
station to meet him.  And the boy was as good as his word.  In order
that they might be both cavaliers together, Uncle Ramsay hired a horse
at D--, and the two rode joyfully home side by side.

His mother did not like to see that carmine flush on Rupert's cheeks,
however, nor the extra dark sparkle in his eyes when he entered the
parlour to announce his uncle's arrival, but she said nothing.

Uncle Ramsay Broadbent was a brother of the Squire, and, though
considerably older, a good deal like him in all his ways.  There was the
same dash and go in him, and the same smiling front, unlikely to be
dismayed by any amount of misfortune.

"There are a deal of ups and downs in the ocean of life," Archie heard
him say one day; "we're on the top of a big wave one hour, and in the
trough of the sea next, so we must take things as they come."

Yes, this uncle was a seafarer; the skipper of a sturdy merchantman that
he had sailed in for ten long years.  He did not care to be called
captain by anyone.  He was a master mariner, and had an opinion, which
he often expressed, that plain "Mr" was a gentleman's prefix.

"I shan't go back to sea again," he said next morning at breakfast.

"Fact is, brother, my owners think I'm getting too old.  And maybe
they're right.  I've had a fair innings, and it is only fair to give the
young ones a chance."

Uncle Ramsay seemed to give new life and soul to the old place.  He
settled completely down to the Burley style of life long before the
summer was half over.  He joined the servants in the fields, and worked
with them as did the Squire, Walton, and Archie.  And though more
merriment went on in consequence, there was nevertheless more work done.
He took an interest in all the boys' "fads," spent hours with them in
their workshop, and made one in every game that was played on the grass.
He was dreadfully awkward at cricket and tennis however; for such games
as these are but little practised by sailors.  Only he was right willing
to learn.

There was a youthfulness and breeziness about Uncle Ramsay's every
action, that few save seafarers possess when hair is turning white.  Of
course, the skipper spent many a jolly hour up in the room of the Castle
Tower, and he did not object either to the presence of old Kate in the
chair.  He listened like a boy when she told her weird stories; and he
listened more like a baby than anything else when Branson played his
fiddle.

Then he himself would spin them a yarn, and hold them all enthralled,
especially big-eyed Elsie, with the sterling reality and graphicness of
the narrative.

When Uncle Ramsay spoke you could see the waves in motion, hear the
scream of the birds around the stern, or the wind roaring through the
rigging.  He spoke as he thought; he painted from life.

Well, the arrival of Uncle Ramsay and Rupert's getting strong were two
of the pleasant changes that took place at Burley in this eventful year.
Alas!  I have to chronicle the sad ones also.  Yet why sigh?  To use
Uncle Ramsay's own words, "You never know what a ship is made of until
stormy seas are around you."

First then came a bad harvest--a terribly bad harvest.  It was not that
the crops themselves were so very light, but the weather was cold and
wet; the grain took long to ripen.  The task of cutting it down was
unfortunately an easy one, but the getting it stored was almost an
impossibility.  At the very time when it was ripe, and after a single
fiercely hot day, a thunder-storm came on, and with it such hail as the
oldest inhabitant in the parish could not remember having seen equalled.
This resulted in the total loss of far more of the precious seed, than
would have sown all the land of Burley twice over.

The wet continued.  It rained and rained every day, and when it rained
it poured.

The Squire had heard of a Yankee invention for drying wheat under cover,
and rashly set about a rude but most expensive imitation thereof.  He
first mentioned the matter to Uncle Ramsay at the breakfast-table.  The
Squire seemed in excellent spirits that morning.  He was walking briskly
up and down the room rubbing his hands, as if in deep but pleasant
thought, when his brother came quietly in.

"Hullo! you lazy old sea-dog.  Why you'd lie in your bed till the sun
burned a hole in the blanket.  Now just look at me."

"I'm just looking at you."

"Well, I've been up for hours.  I'm as hungry as a Caithness Highlander.
And I've got an idea."

"I thought there was something in the wind."

"Guess."

"Guess, indeed!  Goodness forbid I should try.  But I say, brother,"
continued Uncle Ramsay, laughing, "couldn't you manage to fall asleep
somewhere out of doors, like the man in the story, and wake up and find
yourself a king?  My stars, wouldn't we have reforms as long as your
reign lasted!  The breakfast, Mary?  Ah, that's the style!"

"You won't be serious and listen, I suppose, Ramsay."

"Oh, yes; I will."

"Well, the Americans--"

"The Americans again; but go on."

"The Americans, in some parts where I've been, wouldn't lose a straw in
a bad season.  It is all done by means of great fanners and heated air,
you know.  Now, I'm going to show these honest Northumbrian farmers a
thing or two.  I--"

"I say, brother, hadn't you better trust to Providence, and wait for a
fair wind?"

"Now, Ramsay, that's where you and I differ.  You're a slow Moses.  I
want to move ahead a trifle in front of the times.  I've been looking
all over the dictionary of my daily life, and I can't find such a word
as `wait' in it."

"Let me give you some of this steak, brother."

"My plan of operations, Ramsay, is--"

"Why," said Mrs Broadbent, "you haven't eaten anything yet!"

"I thought," said Uncle Ramsay, "you were as hungry as a Tipperary
Highlander, or some such animal."

"My plan, Ramsay, is--" etc, etc.

The two "etc, etc's" in the last line stand for all the rest of the
honest Squire's speech, which, as his sailor brother said, was as long
as the logline.  But for all his hunger he made but a poor breakfast,
and immediately after he jumped up and hurried away to the barn-yards.

It was a busy time for the next two weeks at Burley Old Farm, but, to
the Squire's credit be it said, he was pretty successful with his
strange operation of drying wheat independent of the sun.  His ricks
were built, and he was happy--happy as long as he thought nothing about
the expense.  But he did take an hour or two one evening to run through
accounts, as he called it.  Uncle Ramsay was with him.

"Why, brother," said Ramsay, looking very serious now indeed, "you are
terribly down to leeward--awfully out of pocket!"

"Ah! never mind, Ramsay.  One can't keep ahead of the times now-a-days,
you know, without spending a little."

"Spending a little!  Where are your other books?  Mr Walton and I will
have a look through them to-night, if you don't mind."

"Not a bit, brother, not a bit.  We're going to give a dance to-morrow
night to the servants, so if you like to bother with the book-work I'll
attend to the terpsichorean kick up."

Mr Walton and Uncle Ramsay had a snack in the office that evening
instead of coming up to supper, and when Mrs Broadbent looked in to say
good-night she found them both quiet and hard at work.

"I say, Walton," said Uncle Ramsay some time after, "this is serious.
Draw near the fire and let us have a talk."

"It is sad as well as serious," said Walton.

"Had you any idea of it?"

"Not the slightest.  In fact I'm to blame, I think, for not seeing to
the books before.  But the Squire--"

Walton hesitated.

"I know my brother well," said Ramsay.  "As good a fellow as ever lived,
but as headstrong as a nor'-easter.  And now he has been spending money
on machinery to the tune of some ten thousand pounds.  He has been
growing crop after crop of wheat as if he lived on the prairies and the
land was new; and he has really been putting as much down in seed,
labour, and fashionable manures as he has taken off."

"Yet," said Walton, "he is no fool."

"No, not he; he is clever, too much so.  But heaven send his pride,
honest though it be, does not result in a fall."

The two sat till long past twelve talking and planning, then they opened
the casement and walked out on to the lawn.  It was a lovely autumn
night.  The broad, round moon was high in the heavens, fighting its way
through a sky of curdling clouds which greatly detracted from its
radiance.

"Look, Walton," said the sailor, "to windward; yonder it is all blue
sky, by-and-by it will be a bright and lovely night."

"By-and-by.  Yes," sighed Walton.

"But see!  What is that down yonder rising white over the trees?  Smoke!
Why, Walton, the barn-yards are all on fire!"

Almost at the same moment Branson rushed upon the scene.

"Glad you're up, gentlemen," he gasped.  "Wake the Squire.  The servants
are all astir.  We must save the beasts, come of everything else what
will."

The farm-steading of Burley was built in the usual square formation
round a centre straw-yard, which even in winter was always kept so well
filled that beasts might lie out all night.  To the north were the
stacks, and it was here the fire originated, and unluckily the wind blew
from that direction.  It was by no means high; but fire makes its own
wind, and in less than half an hour the whole yard was ablaze and
burning fiercely, while the byres, stables, and barns had all caught.
From the very first these latter had been enveloped in dense rolling
clouds of smoke, and sparks as thick as falling snowflakes, so that to
save any of the live stock seemed almost an impossibility.

With all his mania for machinery, and for improvements of every kind
possible to apply to agriculture, it is indeed a wonder that the Squire
had not established a fire brigade on his farm.  But fire was an
eventuality which he had entirely left out of his reckoning, and now
there was really no means of checking the terrible conflagration.

As soon as the alarm was given every one did what he could to save the
live stock; but the smoke was blinding, maddening, and little could be
done save taking the doors off their hinges.

Who knows what prodigies of valour were performed that night by the
humble cowmen even, in their attempts to drive the oxen and cows out,
and away to a place of safety?  In some instances, when they had nearly
succeeded, the cattle blocked the doorways, or, having got out to the
straw-yard, charged madly back again, and prevented the exit of their
fellows.  Thus several servants ran terrible risks to their lives.

They were more successful in saving the horses, and this was greatly
owing to Archie's presence of mind.  He had dashed madly into the stable
for his pet Scallowa.  The Shetland pony had never looked more wild
before.  He sniffed the danger, he snorted and reared.  All at once it
occurred to Archie to mount and ride him out.  No sooner had he got on
his back than he came forth like a lamb.  He took him to a field and let
him free, and as he was hurrying back he met little Peter.

"Come, Peter, come," he cried; "we can save the horses."

The two of them rushed to the stable, and horse after horse was bridled
and mounted by little Peter and ridden out.

But a fearful hitch occurred.  Tell, the Squire's hunter, backed against
the stable door and closed it, thus imprisoning Archie, who found it
impossible to open the door.

The roof had already caught.  The horses were screaming in terror, and
rearing wildly against the walls.

Peter rushed away to seek assistance.  He met Branson, and in a word or
two told him what had happened.

Luckily axes were at hand, and sturdy volunteers speedily smashed the
door in, and poor Archie, more dead than alive, with torn clothes and
bleeding face, was dragged through.

The scene after this must be left to imagination.  But the Squire
reverently and fervently thanked God when the shrieks of those
fire-imprisoned cattle were hushed in death, and nothing was to be heard
save the crackle and roar of the flames.

The fire had lit up the countryside for miles around.  The moonlight
itself was bright, but within a certain radius the blazing farm cast
shadows against it.

Next morning stackyards, barn-yards, farm-steading, machinery-house, and
everything pertaining to Burley Old Farm, presented but a smouldering,
blackened heap of ruins.

Squire Broadbent entertained his poor, frightened people to an early
breakfast in the servants' hall, and the most cheerful face there was
that of the Squire.  Here is his little speech:

"My good folks, sit down and eat; and let us be thankful we're all here,
and that no human lives are lost.  My good kinswoman Kate here will tell
you that there never yet was an ill but there might be a worse.  Let us
pray the worse may never come."

CHAPTER TEN.

"AFTER ALL, IT DOESN'T TAKE MUCH TO MAKE A MAN HAPPY."

For weeks to come neither Uncle Ramsay nor Walton had the heart to add
another sorrow to the Squire's cup of misery.  They knew that the fire
had but brought on a little sooner a catastrophe which was already
fulling; they knew that Squire Broadbent was virtually a ruined man.

All the machinery had been rendered useless; the most of the cattle were
dead; the stacks were gone; and yet, strange to say, the Squire hoped
on.  Those horses and cattle which had been saved were housed now in
rudely-built sheds, among the fire-blackened ruins of their former
wholesome stables and byres.

One day Branson, who had always been a confidential servant, sent Mary
in to say he wished to speak to the Squire.  His master came out at
once.

"Nothing else, Branson," he said.  "You carry a long face, man."

"The wet weather and the cold have done their work, sir.  Will you walk
down with me to the cattle-sheds?"

Arrived there, he pointed to a splendid fat ox, who stood in his stall
before his untouched turnips with hanging head and dry, parched nose.
His hot breath was visible when he threw his head now and then uneasily
round towards his loin, as if in pain.  There was a visible swelling on
the rump.  Branson placed a hand on it, and the Squire could hear it
"bog" and crackle.

"What is that, Branson?  Has he been hurt?"

"No, sir, worse.  I'll show you."

He took out his sharp hunting-knife.

"It won't hurt the poor beast," he said.

Then he cut deep into the swelling.  The animal never moved.  No blood
followed the incision, but the gaping wound was black, and filled with
air-bubbles.

"The quarter-ill," said the cowman, who stood mournfully by.

That ox was dead in a few hours.  Another died next day, two the next,
and so on, though not in an increasing ratio; but in a month there was
hardly an animal alive about the place except the horses.

It was time now the Squire should know all, and he did.  He looked a
chastened man when he came out from that interview with his brother and
Walton.  But he put a right cheery face on matters when he told his
wife.

"We'll have to retrench," he said.  "It'll be a struggle for a time, but
we'll get over it right enough."

Present money, however, was wanted, and raised it must be.

And now came the hardest blow the Squire had yet received.  It was a
staggering one, though he met it boldly.  There was then at Burley Old
Mansion a long picture gallery.  It was a room in an upper story, and
extended the whole length of the house--a hall in fact, and one that
more than one Squire Broadbent had entertained his friends right royally
in.  From the walls not only did portraits of ancestors bold and gay,
smile or frown down, but there hung there also many a splendid landscape
and seascape by old masters.

Most of the latter had to be sold, and the gallery was closed, for the
simple reason that Squire Broadbent, courageous though he was, could not
look upon its bare and desecrated walls without a feeling of sorrow.

Pictures even from the drawing-room had to go also, and that room too
was closed.  But the breakfast-room, which opened to the lawn and rose
gardens, where the wild birds sang so sweetly in summer, was left
intact; so was the dining-room, and that cosy, wee green parlour in
which the family delighted to assemble around the fire in the winter's
evenings.

Squire Broadbent had been always a favourite in the county--somewhat of
an upstart and iconoclast though he was--so the sympathy he received was
universal.

Iconoclast?  Yes, he had delighted in shivering the humble idols of
others, and now his own were cast down.  Nobody, however, deserted him.
Farmers and Squires might have said among themselves that they always
knew Broadbent was "going the pace," and that his new-fangled American
notions were poorly suited to England, but in his presence they did all
they could to cheer him.

When the ploughing time came round they gave him what is called in the
far North "a love-darg."  Men with teams of horses came from every farm
for miles around and tilled his ground.  They had luncheon in a marquee,
but they would not hear of stopping to dinner.  They were indeed
thoughtful and kind.

The parson of the parish and the doctor were particular friends of the
Squire.  They often dropped in of an evening to talk of old times with
the family by the fireside.

"I'm right glad," the doctor said one evening, "to see that you don't
lose heart, Squire."

"Bless me, sir, why should I?  To be sure we're poor now, but God has
left us a deal of comfort, doctor, and, after all, _it doesn't take much
to make a man happy_."

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Boys will be boys.  Yes, we all know that.  But there comes a time in
the life of every right-thinking lad when another truth strikes home to
him, that boys will be men.

I rather think that the sooner a boy becomes cognisant of this fact the
better.  Life is not all a dream; it must sooner or later become a stern
reality.  Life is not all pleasant parade and show, like a field-day at
Aldershot; no, for sooner or later pomp and panoply have to be exchanged
for camp-life and action, and bright uniforms are either rolled in blood
and dust, or come triumphant, though tarnished, from the field of glory.
Life is not all plain sailing over sunlit seas, for by-and-by the
clouds bank up, storms come on, and the good ship has to do battle with
wind and wave.

But who would have it otherwise?  No one would who possesses the
slightest ray of honest ambition, or a single spark of that pride of
self which we need not blush to own.

One day, about the beginning of autumn, Rupert and Archie, and their
sister Elsie, were in the room in the tower.  They sat together in a
turret chamber, Elsie gazing dreamily from the window at the beautiful
scenery spread out beneath.  The woods and wilds, the rolling hills, the
silvery stream, the half-ripe grain moving in the wind, as waves at sea
move, and the silvery sunshine over all.  She was in a kind of a
daydream, her fingers listlessly touching a chord on the harp now and
then.  A pretty picture she looked, too, with her bonnie brown hair, and
her bonnie blue eyes, and thorough English face, thorough English
beauty.  Perhaps Archie had been thinking something of this sort as he
sat there looking at her, while Rupert half-lay in the rocking-chair,
which his brother had made for him, engrossed as usual in a book.

Whether Archie did think thus or not, certain it is that presently he
drew his chair close to his sister's, and laying one arm fondly on her
shoulder.

"What is sissie looking at?" he asked.

"Oh, Archie," she replied, "I don't think I've been looking at anything;
but I've been seeing everything and wishing!"

"Wishing, Elsie?  Well, you don't look merry.  What were you wishing?"

"I was wishing the old days were back again, when--when father was rich;
before the awful fire came, and the plague, and everything.  It has made
us all old, I think.  Wouldn't you like father was rich again?"

"I am not certain; but wishes are not horses, you know."

"_No_," said Elsie; "only if it could even be always like this, and if
you and Rupert and I could be always as we are now.  I think that, poor
though we are, everything just now is so pretty and so pleasant.  But
you are going away to the university, and the place won't be the same.
I shall get older faster than ever then."

"Well, Elsie," said Archie, laughing, "I am so old that I am going to
make my will."

Rupert put down his book with a quiet smile.

"What are you going to leave me, old man?  Scallowa?"

"No, Rupert, you're too long in the legs for Scallowa, you have no idea
what a bodkin of a boy you are growing.  Scallowa I will and bequeath to
my pretty sister here, and I'll buy her a side-saddle, and two
pennyworth of carrot seed.  Elsie will also have Bounder, and you,
Rupert, shall have Fuss."

"Anything else for me?"

"Don't be greedy.  But I'll tell you.  You shall have my tool-house, and
all my tools, and my gun besides.  Well, this room is to be sister's
own, and she shall also have my fishing-rod, and the book of flies that
poor Bob Cooper made for me.  Oh, don't despise them, they are all
wonders!"

"Well really, Archie," said Elsie, "you talk as earnestly as if you
actually were going to die."

"Who said I was going to die?  No, I don't mean to die till I've done
much more mischief."

"Hush!  Archie."

"Well, I'm hushed."

"Why do you want to make your will?"

"Oh, it isn't wanting to make my will!  I am--I've done it.  And the
`why' is this, I'm going away."

"To Oxford?"

"No, Elsie, not to Oxford.  I've got quite enough Latin and Greek out of
Walton to last me all my life.  I couldn't be a doctor; besides father
is hardly rich enough to make me one at present.  I couldn't be a
doctor, and I'm not good enough to be a parson."

"Archie, how you talk."

There were tears in Elsie's eyes now.

"I can't help it.  I'm going away to enter life in a new land.  Uncle
Ramsay has told me all about Australia.  He says the old country is used
up, and fortunes can be made in a few years on the other side of the
globe."

There was silence in the turret for long minutes; the whispering of the
wind in the elm trees beneath could be heard, the murmuring of the
river, and far away in the woods the cawing of rooks.

"Don't you cry, Elsie," said Archie.  "I've been thinking about all this
for some time, and my mind is made up.  I'm going, Elsie, and I know it
is for the best.  You don't imagine for a single moment, do you, that
I'll forget the dear old times, and you all?  No, no, no.  I'll think
about you every night, and all day long, and I'll come back rich.  You
don't think that I _won't_ make my fortune, do you?  Because I mean to,
and will.  So there.  Don't cry, Elsie."

"_I'm_ not going to cry, Archie," said Rupert.

"Right, Rupert, you're a brick, as Branson says."

"I'm not old enough," continued Rupert, "to give you my blessing, though
I suppose Kate would give you hers; but we'll all pray for you."

"Well," said Archie thoughtfully, "that will help some."

"Why, you silly boy, it will help a lot."

"I wish I were as good as you, Rupert.  But I'm just going to try hard
to do my best, and I feel certain I'll be all right."

"You know, Roup, how well I can play cricket, and how I often easily
bowl father out.  Well, that is because I've just tried my very hardest
to become a good player; and I'm going to try my very hardest again in
another way.  Oh, I shall win!  I'm cocksure I shall.  Come, Elsie, dry
your eyes.  Here's my handkie.  Don't be a little old wife."

"You won't get killed, or anything, Archie?"

"No; I won't get killed, or eaten either."

"They do tell me," said Elsie--"that is, old Kate told me--that the
streets in Australia are all paved with gold, and that the roofs of the
houses are all solid silver."

"Well, I don't think she is quite right," said Archie, laughing.
"Anyhow, uncle says there is a fortune to be made, and I'm going to make
it.  That's all."

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Archie went straight away down from that boy's room feeling every inch a
man, and had an interview with his father and uncle.

It is needless to relate what took place there, or to report the
conversation which the older folks had that evening in the little green
parlour.  Both father and uncle looked upon Archie's request as
something only natural.  For both these men, singular to say, had been
boys once themselves; and, in the Squire's own words, Archie was a son
to be proud of.

"We can't keep the lad always with us, mother," said Squire Broadbent;
"and the wide world is the best of schools.  I feel certain that, go
where he will, he won't lose heart.  If he does, I should be ashamed to
own him as a son.  So there!  My only regret is, Ramsay, that I cannot
send the lad away with a better lined pocket."

"My dear silly old brother, he will be better as he is.  And I'm really
not sure that he would not be better still if he went away, as many have
gone before him, with only a stick and a bundle over his shoulder.  You
have a deal too much of the Broadbent pride; and Archie had better leave
that all behind at home, or be careful to conceal it when he gets to the
land of his adoption."

The following is a brief list of Archie's stock-in-trade when he sailed
away in the good ship _Dugong_ to begin the world alone: 1. A good stock
of clothes. 2. A good stock of assurance. 3. Plenty of hope. 4. Good
health and abundance of strength. 5. A little nest egg at an Australian
bank to keep him partly independent till he should be able to establish
a footing. 6. Letters of introduction, blessings, and a little pocket
Bible.

His uncle chose his ship, and sent him away round the Cape in a good
old-fashioned sailing vessel.  And his uncle went to Glasgow to see him
off, his last words being, "Keep up your heart, boy, whatever happens;
and keep calm in every difficulty.  Good-bye."

Away sailed the ship, and away went Archie to see the cities that are
paved with gold, and whose houses have roofs of solid silver.

CHAPTER ELEVEN.

BOOK II--AT THE GOLDEN GATES.

"SPOKEN LIKE HIS FATHER'S SON."

  "Cheer, boys, cheer, no more of idle sorrow,
  Courage, true hearts shall bear us on our way;
  Hope flies before, and points the bright to-morrow,
  Let us forget the dangers of to-day."

That dear old song!  How many a time and oft it has helped to raise the
drooping spirits of emigrants sailing away from these loved islands,
never again to return!

The melody itself too is such a manly one.  Inez dear, bring my fiddle.
Not a bit of bravado in that ringing air, bold and all though it is.
Yet every line tells of British ardour and determination--ardour that no
thoughts of home or love can cool, determination that no danger can
daunt.

"Cheer, boys, cheer."  The last rays of the setting sun were lighting up
the Cornish cliffs, on which so few in that good ship would ever again
set eyes, when those around the forecastle-head took up the song.

"Cheer, boys, cheer."  Listen!  Those on the quarterdeck join in the
chorus, sinking in song all difference of class and rank.  And they
join, too, in that rattling "Three times three" that bids farewell to
England.

Then the crimson clouds high up in the west change to purple and brown,
the sea grows grey, and the distant shore becomes slaty blue.  Soon the
stars peep out, and the passengers cease to tramp about, and find their
way below to the cosily-lighted saloon.

Archie is sitting on a sofa quite apart from all the others.  The song
is still ringing in his head, and, if the whole truth must be told, he
feels just a trifle down-hearted.  He cannot quite account for this,
though he tries to, and his thoughts are upon the whole somewhat
rambling.  They would no doubt be quite connected if it were not for the
distracting novelty of all his present surroundings, which are as
utterly different from anything he has hitherto become acquainted with
as if he had suddenly been transported to another planet.

No, he cannot account for being dull.  Perhaps the motion of the ship
has something to do with it, though this is not a very romantic way of
putting it.  Archie has plenty of moral courage; and as the ship
encountered head winds, and made a long and most difficult passage down
through the Irish Sea, he braced himself to get over his morsel of _mal
de mer_, and has succeeded.

He is quite cross with himself for permitting his mind to be tinged with
melancholy.  That song ought to have set him up.

"Why should we weep to sail in search of fortune?"

Oh, Archie is not weeping; catch him doing anything so girlish and
peevish!  He would not cry in his cabin where he could do so without
being seen, and it is not likely he would permit moisture to appear in
his eyes in the saloon here.  Yet his home never did seem to him so
delightful, so cosy, so happy, as the thoughts of it do now.  Why had he
not loved it even more than he did when it was yet all around him?  The
dear little green parlour, his gentle lady mother that used to knit so
quietly by the fire in the winter's evenings, listening with pleasure to
his father's daring schemes and hopeful plans.  His bonnie sister,
Elsie, so proud of him--Archie; Rupert, with his pale, classical face
and gentle smile; matter-of-fact Walton; jolly old Uncle Ramsay.  They
all rose up before his mind's eye as they had been; nay but as they
might be even at that very moment.  And the room in the tower, the
evenings spent there in summer when daylight was fading over the hills
and woods, and the rooks flying wearily home to their nests in the
swaying elm trees; or in winter when the fire burned brightly on the
hearth, and weird old Kate sat in her high-backed chair, telling her
strange old-world stories, with Branson, wide-eyed, fiddle in hand, on a
seat near her, and Bounder--poor Bounder--on the bear's skin.  Then the
big kitchen, or servants' hall--the servants that all loved "master
Archie" so dearly, and laughed and enjoyed every prank he used to play.

Dear old Burley! should he ever see it again?  A week has not passed
since he left it, and yet it seems and feels a lifetime.

He was young a week ago; now he is old, very old--nearly a man.  Nearly?
Well, nearly, in years; in thoughts, and feelings, and circumstances
even--_quite_ a man.  But then he should not feel down-hearted for this
simple reason; he had left home under such bright auspices.  Many boys
run away to sea.  The difference between their lot and his is indeed a
wide one.  Yes, that must be very sad.  No home life to look back upon,
no friends to think of or love, no pleasant present, no hopeful future.

Then Archie, instead of letting his thoughts dwell any longer on the
past, began at once to bridge over for himself the long period of time
that must elapse ere he should return to Burley Old Farm.  Of course
there would be changes.  He dared say Walton would be away; but Elsie
and Rupert would still be there, and his father and mother, looking
perhaps a little older, but still as happy.  And the burned
farm-steading would be restored, or if it were not, it soon should be
after he came back; for he would be rich, rolling in wealth in fact, if
half the stories he had heard of Australia were true, even allowing that
_all_ the streets were not paved with gold, and _all_ the houses not
roofed with sparkling silver.

So engrossed was he with these pleasant thoughts, that he had not
observed the advent of a passenger who had entered the saloon, and sat
quietly down on a camp-stool near him.  A man of about forty, dressed in
a rough pilot suit of clothes, with a rosy weather-beaten but pleasant
face, and a few grey hairs in his short black beard.

He was looking at Archie intently when their eyes met, and the boy felt
somewhat abashed.  The passenger, however, did not remove his glance
instantly; he spoke instead.

"You've never been to sea before, have you?"

"No, sir; never been off the land till a week ago."

"Going to seek your fortune?"

"Yes; I'm going to _make_ my fortune."

"Bravo!  I hope you will."

"What's to hinder me?"

"Nothing; oh, nothing much!  Everybody doesn't though.  But you seem to
have a bit of go in you."

"Are you going to make yours?" said Archie.

The stranger laughed.

"No," he replied.  "Unluckily, perhaps, mine was made for me.  I've been
out before too, and I'm going again to see things."

"You're going in quest of adventure?"

"I suppose that is really it.  That is how the story-books put it,
anyhow.  But I don't expect to meet with adventures like Sinbad the
Sailor, you know; and I don't think I would like to have a little old
man of the sea with his little old legs round my neck."

"Australia is a very wonderful place, isn't it?"

"Yes; wonderfully wonderful.  Everything is upside-down there, you know.
To begin with, the people walk with their heads downwards.  Some of the
trees are as tall as the moon, and at certain seasons of the year the
bark comes tumbling off them like rolls of shoeleather.  Others are
shaped like bottles, others again have heads of waving grass, and others
have ferns for tops.  There are trees, too, that drop all their leaves
to give the flowers a chance; and these are so brilliantly red, and so
numerous, that the forest where they grow looks all on fire.  Well, many
of the animals walk or jump on two legs, instead of running on four.
Does that interest you?"

"Yes.  Tell me something more about birds."

"Well, ducks are everywhere in Australia, and many kinds are as big as
geese.  They seem to thrive.  And ages ago, it is said by the natives,
the moles in Australia got tired of living in the dark, and held a
meeting above-ground, and determined to live a different mode of life.
So they grew longer claws, and short, broad, flat tails, and bills like
ducks, and took to the water, and have been happy ever since.

"Well, there are black swans in abundance; and though it is two or three
years since I was out last, I cannot forget a beautiful bird, something
betwixt a pheasant and peacock, and the cock's tail is his especial
delight.  It is something really to be proud of, and at a distance looks
like a beautiful lyre, strings and all.  The cockatoos swarm around the
trees, and scream and laugh at the lyre-bird giving himself airs, but I
daresay this is all envy.  The hen bird is not a beauty, but her chief
delight is to watch the antics and attitudes of her lord and master as
he struts about making love and fun to her time about, at one moment
singing a kind of low, sweet song, at another mocking every sound that
is heard in the forest, every noise made by man or bird or beast.  No
wonder the female lyre-bird thinks her lord the cleverest and most
beautiful creature in the world!

"Then there is a daft-looking kingfisher, all head and bill, and
wondering eyes, who laughs like a jackass, and makes you laugh to hear
him laugh.  So loud does he laugh at times that his voice drowns every
other sound in the forest.

"There is a bird eight feet high, partly cassowary, partly ostrich, that
when attacked kicks like a horse, or more like a cow, because it kicks
sideways.  But if I were to sit here till our good ship reached the
Cape, I could not tell you about half the curious, beautiful, and
ridiculous creatures and things you will find in Australia if you move
much about.  I do think that that country beats all creation for the
gorgeousness of its wild birds and wild flowers; and if things do seem a
bit higgledy-piggledy at first, you soon settle down to it, and soon
tire wondering at anything.

"But," continued the stranger, "with all their peculiarities, the birds
and beasts are satisfied with their get-up, and pleased with their
surroundings, although all day long in the forests the cockatoos, and
parrots, and piping crows, and lyre-birds do little else but joke and
chaff one another because they all look so comical.

"Yes, lad, Australia you will find is a country of contrarieties, and
the only wonder to me is that the rivers don't all run up-hill instead
of running down; and mind, they are sometimes broader at their sources
than they are at their ends."

"There is plenty of gold there?" asked Archie.

"Oh, yes, any amount; but--"

"But what, sir?"

"The real difficulty--in fact, the only difficulty--is the finding of
it."

"But that, I suppose, can be got over."

"Come along with me up on deck, and we'll talk matters over.  It is hot
and stuffy down here; besides, they are going to lay the cloth."

Arrived at the quarterdeck, the stranger took hold of Archie's arm, as
if he had known him all his life.

"Now," he said, "my name is Vesey, generally called Captain Vesey,
because I never did anything that I know of to merit the title.  I've
been in an army or two in different parts of the globe as a free lance,
you know."

"How nice!"

"Oh, delightful!" said Captain Vesey, though from the tone of his voice
Archie was doubtful as to his meaning.  "Well," he added, "I own a
yacht, now waiting for me, I believe, at the Cape of Good Hope, if she
isn't sunk, or burned, or something.  And your tally?"

"My what, sir?"

"Your tally, your name, and the rest of it?"

"Archie Broadbent, son of Squire Broadbent, of Burley Old Farm,
Northumberland."

"What! you a son of Charlie Broadbent?  Yankee Charlie, as we used to
call him at the club.  Well, well, well, wonders will never cease; and
it only shows how small the world is, after all."

"And you used to know my father, sir?"

"My dear boy, I promised myself the pleasure of calling on him at
Burley.  I've only been home for two months, however; and I heard--well,
boy, I needn't mince matters--I heard your father had been unfortunate,
and had left his place, and gone nobody could tell me whither."

"No," said Archie, laughing, "it isn't quite so bad as all that; and it
is bound to come right in the end."

"You are talking very hopefully, lad.  I could trace a resemblance in
your face to someone I knew the very moment I sat down.  And there is
something like the same cheerful ring in your voice there used to be in
his.  You really are a chip of the old block."

"So they say."  And Archie laughed again, pleased by this time.

"But, you know, lad, you are very young to be going away to seek your
fortune."

"I'll get over that, sir."

"I hope so.  Of course, you won't go pottering after gold!"

"I don't know.  If I thought I would find lots, I would go like a shot."

"Well, take my advice, and don't.  There, I do not want to discourage
you; but you better turn your mind to farming--to squatting."

"That wouldn't be very genteel, would it?"

"Genteel!  Why, lad, if you're going to go in for genteelity, you'd best
have stayed at home."

"Well, but I have an excellent education.  I can write like
copper-plate.  I am a fair hand at figures, and well up in Latin and
Greek; and--"

"Ha! ha! ha!"  Captain Vesey laughed aloud.  "Latin and Greek, eh?  You
must keep that to yourself, boy."

"And," continued Archie boldly, "I have a whole lot of capital
introductions.  I'm sure to get into a good office in Sydney; and in a
few years--"

Archie stopped short, because by the light that streamed from the
skylight he could see that Captain Vesey was looking at him
half-wonderingly, but evidently amused.

"Go on," said the captain.

"Not a word more," said Archie doggedly.

"Finish your sentence, lad."

"I shan't.  There!"

"Well, I'll do it for you.  You'll get into a delightful office, with
mahogany writing-desks and stained glass windows, Turkey carpet and an
easy-chair.  Your employer will take you out in his buggy every Sunday
to dine with him; and after a few years, as you say, he'll make you a
co-partner; and you'll end by marrying his daughter, and live happy ever
after."

"You're laughing at me, sir.  I'll go down below."

"Yes, I'm laughing at you, because you're only a greenhorn; and it is as
well that I should squeeze a little of the lime-juice out of you as
anyone else.  No, don't go below.  Mind, I was your father's friend."

"Yes," pouted poor Archie; "but you don't appear to be mine.  You are
throwing cold water over my hopes; you are smashing my idols."

"A very pretty speech, Archie Broadbent.  But mind you this--a hut on
solid ground is better far than a castle in the air.  And it is better
that I should storm and capsize your cloud-castle, than that an absolute
stranger did so."

"Well, I suppose you are right.  Forgive me for being cross."

"Spoken like his father's son," said Captain Vesey, grasping and shaking
the hand that Archie extended to him.  "Now we know each other.  Ding!
ding! ding! there goes the dinner-bell.  Sit next to me."

CHAPTER TWELVE.

"KEEP ON YOUR CAP.  I WAS ONCE A POOR MAN MYSELF."

The voyage out was a long, even tedious one; but as it has but little
bearing on the story I forbear to describe it at length.

The ship had a passenger for Madeira, parcels for Ascension and Saint
Helena, and she lay in at the Cape for a whole week.

Here Captain Vesey left the vessel, bidding Archie a kind farewell,
after dining with him at the Fountain, and roaming with him all over the
charming Botanical Gardens.

"I've an idea we'll meet again," he said as he bade him adieu.  "If God
spares me, I'll be sure to visit Sydney in a year or two, and I hope to
find you doing well.  You'll know if my little yacht, the _Barracouta_,
comes in, and I know you'll come off and see me.  I hope to find you
with as good a coat on your back as you have now."

Then the _Dugong_ sailed away again; but the time now seemed longer to
Archie than ever, for in Captain Vesey he really had lost a good
friend--a friend who was all the more valuable because he spoke the
plain, unvarnished truth; and if in doing so one or two of the young
man's cherished idols were brought tumbling down to the ground, it was
all the better for the young man.  It showed those idols had feet of
clay, else a little cold water thrown over them would hardly have had
such an effect.  I am sorry to say, however, that no sooner had the
captain left the ship, than Archie set about carefully collecting the
pieces of those said idols and patching them up again.

"After all," he thought to himself, "this Captain Vesey, jolly fellow as
he is, never had to struggle with fortune as I shall do; and I don't
think he has the same pluck in him that my father has, and that people
say I have.  We'll see, anyhow.  Other fellows have been fortunate in a
few years, why shouldn't I?  `In a few years?'  Yes, these are the very
words Captain Vesey laughed at me for.  `In a few years?'  To be sure.
And why not?  What _is_ the good of a fortune to a fellow after he gets
old, and all worn down with gout and rheumatism?  `Cheer, boys, cheer;'
I'm going in to win."

How slow the ship sailed now, apparently; and when it did blow it
usually blew the wrong way, and she would have to stand off and on, or
go tack and half-tack against it, like a man with one long leg and one
short.  But she was becalmed more than once, and this did seem dreadful.
It put Archie in mind of a man going to sleep in the middle of his
work, which is not at all the correct thing to do.

Well, there is nothing like a sailing ship after all for teaching one
the virtue of patience; and at last Archie settled down to his sea life.
He was becoming quite a sailor--as hard as the wheel-spokes, as brown
as the binnacle.  He was quite a favourite with the captain and
officers, and with all hands fore and aft.  Indeed he was very often in
the forecastle or galley of an evening listening to the men's yarns or
songs, and sometimes singing a verse or two himself.

He was just beginning to think the _Dugong_ was Vanderdecken's ship, and
that she never would make port at all, when one day at dinner he noticed
that the captain was unusually cheerful.

"In four or five days more, please God," said he, "we'll be safe in
Sydney."

Archie almost wished he had not known this, for these four or five days
were the longest of any he had yet passed.  He had commenced to worship
his patched-up idols again, and felt happier now, and more full of hope
and certainty of fortune than he had done during the whole voyage.

Sometimes they sighted land.  Once or twice birds flew on board--such
bright, pretty birds too they looked.  And birds also went wheeling and
whirring about the ship--gulls, the like of which he had never seen
before.  They were more elegant in shape and purer in colour than ours,
and their voices were clear and ringing.

Dick Whittington construed words out of the sound of the chiming bells.
Therefore it is not at all wonderful that Archie was pleased to believe
that some of these beautiful birds were screaming him a welcome to the
land of gold.

Just at or near the end of the voyage half a gale of wind blew the ship
considerably out of her course.  Then the breeze went round to fair
again, the sea went down, and the birds came back; and one afternoon a
shout was heard from the foretop that made Archie's heart jump for very
joy.

"Land ho!"

That same evening, as the sun was setting behind the Blue Mountains,
leaving a gorgeous splendour of cloud-scenery that may be equalled, but
is never surpassed in any country, the _Dugong_ sailed slowly into
Sydney harbour, and cast anchor.

At last!  Yes, at last.  Here were the golden gates of the El Dorado
that were to lead the ambitious boy to fortune, and all the pleasures
fortune is capable of bestowing.

Archie had fancied that Sydney would prove to be a very beautiful place;
but not in his wildest imaginings had he conjured up a scene of such
surpassing loveliness as that which now lay before him, and around him
as well.

On the town itself his eye naturally first rested.  There it lay, miles
upon miles of houses, towers, and steeples, spread out along the coast,
and rising inland.  The mountains and hills beyond, their rugged
grandeur softened and subdued in the purple haze of the day's dying
glory; the sky above, with its shades of orange, saffron, crimson, opal,
and grey; and the rocks, to right and left in the nearer distance, with
their dreamy clouds of foliage, from which peeped many a lordly mansion,
many a fairy-like palace.  He hardly noticed the forests of masts; he
was done with ships, done with masts, for a time at least; but his
inmost heart responded to the distant hum of city life, that came gently
stealing over the waters, mingling with the chime of evening bells, and
the music of the happy sea-gulls.

Would he, could he, get on shore to-night?  "No," the first officer
replied, "not before another day."

So he stood on deck, or walked about, never thinking of food--what is
food or drink to a youth who lives on hope?--till the gloaming shades
gave place to night, till the southern stars shone over the hills and
harbour, and strings upon strings of lamps and lights were hung
everywhere across the city above and below.

Now the fairy scene is changed.  Archie is on shore.  It is the forenoon
of another day, and the sun is warm though not uncomfortably hot.  There
is so much that is bracing and invigorating in the very air, that he
longs to be doing something at once.  Longs to commence laying the
foundation-stone of that temple of fortune which--let Captain Vesey say
what he likes--he, Archie Broadbent, is bent upon building.

He has dressed himself in his very English best.  His clothes are new
and creaseless, his gloves are spotless, his black silk hat immaculate,
the cambric handkerchief that peeps coyly from his breast pocket is
whiter than the snow, his boots fit like gloves, and shine as softly
black as his hat itself, and his cane even must be the envy of every
young man he meets.

Strange to say, however, no one appears to take a very great deal of
notice of him, though, as he glances towards the shop windows, he can
see as if in a mirror that one or two passengers have looked back and
smiled.  But it couldn't surely have been at him?  Impossible!

The people, however, are apparently all very active and very busy,
though cool, with a self-possession that he cannot help envying, and
which he tries to imitate without any marked degree of success.

There is an air of luxury and refinement about many of the buildings
that quite impresses the young man; but he cannot help noticing that
there is also a sort of business air about the streets which he hardly
expected to find, and which reminds him forcibly of Glasgow and
Manchester.  He almost wishes it had been otherwise.

He marches on boldly enough.

Archie feels as if on a prospecting tour--prospecting for gold.  Of
course he is going to make his fortune, but how is he going to begin?
That is the awkward part of the business.  If he could once get in the
thin end of the wedge he would quickly drive it home.

"There is nothing like ambition.  If we steer a steady course."

Of course there isn't.  But staring into a china-shop window will do him
little good.  I do not believe he saw anything in that window however.
Only, on turning away from it, his foot goes splash into a pool of dirty
water on the pavement, or rather on what ought to be a pavement.  That
boot is ruined for the day, and this reminds him that Sydney streets are
_not_ paved with gold, but with very unromantic matter-of-fact mud.
Happy thought! he will dine.

The waiters are very polite, but not obsequious, and he makes a hearty
meal, and feels more at home.

Shall he tip this waiter fellow?  Is it the correct thing to tip
waiters?  Will the waiter think him green if he does, or green if he
doesn't?

These questions, trifling though they may appear, really annoyed Archie;
but he erred on the right side, and did tip the waiter--well too.  And
the waiter brightened up, and asked him if he would like to see a
playbill.

Then this reminded Archie that he might as well call on some of the
people to whom he had introductions.  So he pulled out a small bundle of
letters, and he asked the waiter where this, that, and t'other street
was; and the waiter brought a map, and gave him so many hints, that when
he found himself on the street again he did not feel half so foreign.
He had something to do now, something in view.  Besides he had dined.

"Yes, he'd better drive," he said to himself, "it would look better."
He lifted a finger, and a hansom rattled along, and drew up by the kerb.
He had not expected to find cabs in Sydney.  His card-case was handy,
and his first letter also.

He might have taken a 'bus or tram.  There were plenty passing, and very
like Glasgow 'buses they were too; from the John with the ribbons to the
cad at the rear.  But a hansom certainly looked more aristocratic.

Aristocratic?  Yes.  But were there any aristocrats in Sydney?  Was
there any real blue blood in the place?  He had not answered those
questions to his satisfaction, when the hansom stopped so suddenly that
he fell forward.

"Wait," he said to the driver haughtily.

"Certainly, sir."

Archie did not observe, however, the grimace the Jehu made to another
cabman, as he pointed over his shoulder with his thumb, else he would
hardly have been pleased.

There was quite a business air about the office into which the young man
ushered himself, but no one took much notice of him.  If he had had an
older face under that brand-new hat, they might have been more struck
with his appearance.

"Ahem!  Aw--!"  Archie began.

"One minute, sir," said the clerk nearest him.  "Fives in forty
thousand?  Fives in forty are eight--eight thousand."

The clerk advanced pen in mouth.

"Do you come from Jenkins's about those bills?"

"No, I come from England; and I've a letter of introduction to your
_master_."  Archie brought the last word out with a bang.

"Mr Berry isn't in.  Will you leave a message?"

"No, thank you."

"As you please."

Archie was going off, when the clerk called after him, "Here is Mr
Berry himself, sir."

A tall, brown-faced, elderly gentleman, with very white hair and
pleasant smile.  He took Archie into the office, bade him be seated, and
slowly read the letter; then he approached the young man and shook
hands.  The hand felt like a dead fish's tail in Archie's, and somehow
the smile had vanished.

"I'm really glad to see your father's son," he said.  "Sorry though to
hear that he has had a run of bad luck.  Very bad luck it must be, too,"
he added, "to let you come out here."

"Indeed, sir; but I mean to make my for--that is, I want to make my
living."

"Ay, young man, living's more like it; and I wish I could help you.
There's a wave of depression over this side of our little island at
present, and I don't know that any office in town has a genteel
situation to offer you."

Archie's soul-heat sank a degree or two.

"You think, sir, that--"

"I think that you would have done better at home.  It would be cruel of
me not to tell you the truth.  Now I'll give you an example.  We
advertised for a clerk just a week since--"

"I wish I'd been here."

"My young friend, you wouldn't have had the ghost of a chance.  We had
five-and-thirty to pick and choose from, and we took the likeliest.  I'm
really sorry.  If anything should turn up, where shall I communicate?"

Where should he communicate?  And this was his father's best friend,
from whom the too sanguine father expected Archie would have an
invitation to dinner at once, and a general introduction to Sydney
society.

"Oh, it is no great matter about communicating, Mr Berry; aw!--no
matter at all!  I can afford to wait a bit and look round me.  I--aw!--
good morning, sir."

Away stalked the young Northumbrian, like a prince of the blood.

"A chip of the old block," muttered Mr Berry, as he resumed his desk
work.  "Poor lad, he'll have to come down a peg though."

The cabby sprang towards the young nob.

"Where next, sir?"

"Grindlay's."

Archie was not more successful here, nor anywhere else.

But at the end of a week, during which time he had tried as hard as any
young man had ever tried before in Sydney or any other city to find some
genteel employment, he made a wise resolve; viz, to go into lodgings.

He found that living in a hotel, though very cheerful, made a terrible
hole in his purse; so he brought himself "down a peg" by the simple
process of "going up" nearer the sky.

Here is the explanation of this paradox.  It was Archie's custom to
spend his forenoons looking for something to do, and his evenings
walking in the suburbs.

Poor, lonely lad, that never a soul in the city cared for, any more than
if he had been a stray cat, he found it wearisome, heart-breaking work
wandering about the narrow, twisting streets and getting civilly
snubbed.  He felt more of a gentleman when dining.  Afterwards his
tiredness quite left him, and hope swelled his heart once more.  So out
he would go and away--somewhere, anywhere; it did not matter so long as
he could see woods, and water, and houses.  Oh, such lovely suburban
villas, with cool verandahs, round which flowering creepers twined, and
lawns shaded by dark green waving banana trees, beneath which he could
ofttimes hear the voices of merry children, or the tinkle of the light
guitar.  He would give reins to his fancy then, and imagine things--such
sweet things!

Yes, he would own one of the biggest and most delightful of these
mansions; he should keep fleet horses, a beautiful carriage, a boat--he
must have a boat, or should it be a gondola?  Yes, that would be nicer
and newer.  In this boat, when the moonlight silvered the water, he
would glide over the bay, returning early to his happy home.  His bonnie
sister should be there, his brother Rupert--the student--his mother, and
his hero, that honest, bluff, old father of his.  What a dear,
delightful dream!  No wonder he did not care to return to the realities
of his city life till long after the sun had set over the hills, and the
stars were twinkling down brighter and lovelier far than those lights he
had so admired the night his ship arrived.

He was returning slowly one evening and was close to the city, but in a
rather lonely place, when he noticed something dark under the shade of a
tree, and heard a girl's voice say:

"Dearie me! as missus says; but ain't I jolly tired just!"

"Who is that?" said Archie.

"On'y me, sir; on'y Sarah.  Don't be afear'd.  I ain't a larrikin.  Help
this 'ere box on my back like a good chummie."

"It's too heavy for your slight shoulders," quoth gallant Archie.  "I
don't mind carrying it a bit."

"What, a gent like you!  Why, sir, you're greener than they make 'em
round here!"

"I'm from England."

"Ho, ho!  Well, that accounts for the milk.  So'm I from Hengland.  This
way, chummie."

They hadn't far to go.

"My missus lives two story up, top of a ware'us, and I've been to the
station for that 'ere box.  She do take it out o' me for all the wage.
She do."

Archie carried the box up the steep stairs, and Sarah's mistress herself
opened the door and held a candle.  A thin, weary-looking body, with
whom Sarah seemed to be on the best and most friendly terms.

"Brought my young man," said Sarah.  "Ain't he a smartie?  But, heigho!
_so_ green!  _You_ never!"

"Come in a minute, sir, and rest you.  Never mind this silly girl."

Archie did go in a minute; five, ten, ay fifteen, and by that time he
had not only heard all this ex-policeman's wife's story, but taken a
semi-attic belonging to her.

And he felt downright independent and happy when next day he took
possession.

For now he would have time to really look round, and it was a relief to
his mind that he would not be spending much money.

Archie could write home cheerfully now.  He was sure that something
would soon turn up, something he could accept, and which would not be
derogatory to the son of a Northumbrian squire.  More than one
influential member of commercial society had promised "to communicate
with him at the very earliest moment."

But, alas! weeks flew by, and weeks went into months, and no more signs
of the something were apparent than he had seen on the second day of his
arrival.

Archie was undoubtedly "a game un," as Sarah called him; but his heart
began to feel very heavy indeed.

Living as cheaply as he could, his money would go done at last.  What
then?  Write home for more?  He shuddered to think of such a thing.  If
his first friend, Captain Vesey, had only turned up now, he would have
gone and asked to be taken as a hand before the mast.  But Captain Vesey
did not.

A young man cannot be long in Sydney without getting into a set.  Archie
did, and who could blame him.  They were not a rich set, nor a very fast
set; but they had a morsel of a club-room of their own.  They formed
friendships, took strolls together, went occasionally to the play, and
often had little "adventures" about town, the narratives of which, when
retailed in the club, found ready listeners, and of course were
stretched to the fullest extent of importance.

They really were not bad fellows, and would have done Archie a good turn
if they could.  But they could not.  They laughed a deal at first at his
English notions and ideas; but gradually Archie got over his greenness,
and began to settle down to colonial life, and would have liked Sydney
very much indeed if he had only had something to do.

The ex-policeman's wife was very kind to her lodger.  So was Sarah;
though she took too many freedoms of speech with him, which tended to
lower his English squirearchical dignity very much.  But, to do her
justice, Sarah did not mean any harm.

Only once did Archie venture to ask about the ex-policeman.  "What did
he do?"

"Oh, he drinks!" said Sarah, as quietly as if drinking were a trade of
some kind.  Archie asked no more.

Rummaging in a box one day, Archie found his last letter of
introduction.  It had been given him by Uncle Ramsay.

"You'll find him a rough and right sort of a stick," his uncle had said.
"He _was_ my steward, now he is a wealthy man, and can knock down his
cheque for many thousands."

Archie dressed in his best and walked right away that afternoon to find
the address.

It was one of the very villas he had often passed, in a beautiful place
close by the water-side.

What would be his reception here?

This question was soon put at rest.

He rang the bell, and was ushered into a luxuriously-furnished room; a
room that displayed more richness than taste.

A very beautiful girl--some thirteen years of age perhaps--got up from a
grand piano, and stood before him.

Archie was somewhat taken aback, but bowed as composedly as he could.

"Surely," he thought, "_she_ cannot be the daughter of the rough and
right sort of a stick who had been steward to his uncle.  He had never
seen so sweet a face, such dreamy blue eyes, or such wealth of hair
before.

"Did you want to see papa?  Sit down.  I'll go and find him."

"Will you take this letter to him?" said Archie.

And the girl left, letter in hand.

Ten minutes after the "rough stick" entered, whistling "Sally come up."

"Hullo! hullo!" he cried, "so here we are."

There he was without doubt--a big, red, jolly face, like a full moon
orient, a loose merino jacket, no waistcoat or necktie, but a
cricketer's cap on the very back of his bushy head.  He struck Archie a
friendly slap on the back.

"Keep on yer cap," he shouted, "I was once a poor man myself."

Archie was too surprised and indignant to speak.

"Well, well, well," said Mr Winslow, "they do tell me wonders won't
never cease.  What a whirligig of a world it is.  One day I'm cleanin' a
gent's boots.  Gent is a capting of a ship.  Next day gent's nephew
comes to me to beg for a job.  Say, young man, what'll ye drink?"

"I didn't come to _drink_, Mr Winslow, neither did I come to _beg_."

"Whew-ew-ew," whistled the quondam steward, "here's pride; here's a
touch o' the old country.  Why, young un, I might have made you my
under-gardener."

The girl at this moment entered the room.  She had heard the last
sentence.

"Papa!" she remonstrated.  Then she glided out by the casement window.

Burning blushes suffused Archie's cheeks as he hurried over the lawn
soon after; angry tears were in his eyes.  His hand was on the
gate-latch when he felt a light touch on his arm.  It was the girl.

"Don't be angry with poor papa," she said, almost beseechingly.

"No, no," Archie cried, hardly knowing what he did say.  "What is your
name?"

"Etheldene."

"What a beautiful name!  I--I will never forget it.  Good-bye."

He ran home with the image of the child in his mind--on his brain.

Sarah--plain Sarah--met him at the top of the stairs.  He brushed past
her.

"La! but ye does look glum," said Sarah.

Archie locked his door.  He did not want to see even Sarah--homely
Sarah--that night.

CHAPTER THIRTEEN.

"SOMETHING IN SOAP."

It was a still, sultry night in November.  Archie's balcony window was
wide open, and if there had been a breath of air anywhere he would have
had the benefit of it.  That was one advantage of having a room high up
above the town, and there were several others.  For instance, it was
quieter, more retired, and his companions did not often take him by
storm, because they objected to climb so many stairs.  Dingy, small, and
dismal some might have called it, but Archie always felt at home up in
his semi-attic.  It even reminded him of his room in the dear old tower
at Burley.  Then his morsel of balcony, why that was worth all the money
he paid for the room itself; and as for the view from this charming,
though non-aristocratic elevation, it was simply unsurpassed,
unsurpassable--looking far away over a rich and fertile country to the
grand old hills beyond--a landscape that, like the sea, was still the
same, but ever changing; sometimes smiling and green, sometimes bathed
in tints of purple and blue, sometimes grey as a sky o'ercast with rain
clouds.  Yes, he loved it, and he would take a chair out here on a
moonlight evening and sit and think and dream.

But on this particular night sleep, usually so kind to the young man,
absolutely refused to visit his pillow.  He tried to woo the goddess on
his right side, on his left, on his back; it was all in vain.  Finally,
he sat bolt upright in his little truckle bed in silent defiance.

"I don't care," he said aloud, "whether I sleep or not.  What does it
matter?  I've nothing to do to-morrow.  Heigho!"

Nothing to do to-morrow!  How sad!  And he so young too.  Were all his
dreams of future fortune to fade and pass away like this--nothing to do?
Why he envied the very boys who drove the mill wagons that went lazily
rolling past his place every day.  They seemed happy, and so contented;
while he--why his very life--had come to be all one continued fever.

"Nothing to do yet, sir?"  It was the ordinary salutation of his
hard-working mite of a landlady when he came home to his meal in the
afternoon.  "I knows by the weary way ye walks upstairs, sir, you aren't
successful yet, sir."

"Nothink to do yet, sir?"  They were the usual words that the slavey
used when she dragged upstairs of an evening with his tea-things.

"Nothink to do," she would say, as she deposited the tray on the table,
and sank _sans ceremonie_ into the easy-chair.  "Nothink to do.  What a
'appy life to lead!  Now 'ere's me a draggin' up and down stairs, and a
carryin' of coals and a sweepin', and a dustin' and a hanswering of the
door, till, what wi' the 'eat and the dust and the fleas, my poor little
life's well-nigh worrited out o' me.  Heigho! hif I was honly back again
in merrie England, catch me ever goin' to any Australia any more.  But
you looks a horned gent, sir.  Nothink to do!  My eye and Betty Martin,
ye oughter to be 'appy, if you ain't."

Archie got up to-night, enrobed himself in his dressing-gown, and went
and sat on his balcony.  This soothed him.  The stars were very bright,
and seemed very near.  He did not care for other companionship than
these and his own all-too-busy thoughts.  There was hardly a sound to be
heard, except now and then the hum of a distant railway train increasing
to a harsh roar as it crossed the bridge, then becoming subdued again
and muffled as it entered woods, or went rolling over a soft and open
country.

Nothing to do!  But he must and would do something.  Why should he
starve in a city of plenty?  He had arms and hands, if he hadn't a head.
Indeed, he had begun of late to believe that his head, which he used to
think so much of, was the least important part of his body.  He caught
himself feeling his forearm and his biceps.  Why this latter had got
smaller and beautifully less of late.  He had to shut his fist hard to
make it perceptible to touch.  This was worse and worse, he thought.  He
would not be able to lift a fifty-six if he wanted to before long, or
have strength enough left to wield a stable broom if he should be
obliged to go as gardener to Winslow.

"What next, I wonder?" he said to himself.  "First I lose my brains, if
ever I had any, and now I have lost my biceps; the worst loss last."

He lit his candle, and took up the newspaper.

"I'll pocket my pride, and take a porter's situation," he murmured.
"Let us see now.  Hullo! what is this?  `Apprentice Wanted--the drug
trade--splendid opening to a pushing youngster.'  Well, I am a pushing
youngster.  `Premium required.'  I don't care, I have a bit of money
left, and I'll pay it like a man if there is enough.  Why the drug trade
is grand.  Sydney drug-stores beat Glasgow's all to pieces.  Druggists
and drysalters have their carriages and mansions, their town and country
houses.  Hurrah!  I'll be something yet!"

He blew out the candle, and jumped into bed.  The gentle goddess
required no further wooing.  She took him in her lap, and he went off at
once like a baby.

Rap--rap--rap--rap!

"Hullo!  Yes; coming, Sarah; coming."

It was broad daylight; and when he admitted Sarah at last, with the
breakfast-tray, she told him she had been up and down fifty times,
trying to make him hear.  Sarah was given to a little exaggeration at
times.

"It was all very well for a gent like he," she said, "but there was her
a-slavin' and a-toilin', and all the rest of it."

"Well, well, my dear," he cut in, "I'm awfully sorry, I assure you."

Sarah stopped right in the centre of the room, still holding the tray,
and looked at him.

"What!" she cried.  "Ye ain't a-going to marry me then, young man!  What
are ye my-dearing me for?"

"No, Sarah," replied Archie, laughing; "I'm not going to marry you; but
I've hopes of a good situation, and--"

"Is that all?"  Sarah dumped down the tray, and tripped away singing.

Archie's interview with the advertiser was of a most satisfactory
character.  He did not like the street, it was too new and out of the
way; but then it would be a beginning.

He did not like his would-be employer, but he dared say he would improve
on acquaintance.  There was plenty in the shop, though the place was
dingy and dirty, and the windows small.  The spiders evidently had fine
times of it here, and did not object to the smell of drugs.  He was
received by Mr Glorie himself in a little back sanctum off the little
back shop.

The premium for apprenticing Archie was rather more than the young man
could give; but this being explained to the proprietor of these
beautiful premises, and owner of all the spiders, he graciously
condescended to take half.  Archie's salary--a wretched pittance--was to
commence at once after articles were signed; and Mr Glorie promised to
give him a perfect insight into the drug business, and make a man of
him, and "something else besides," he added, nodding to Archie in a
mysterious manner.

The possessor of the strange name was a queer-looking man; there did not
appear much glory about him.  He was very tall, very lanky, and thin,
his shoulders sloping downwards like a well-pointed pencil, while his
face was solemn and elongated, like your own, reader, if you look at it
in a spoon held lengthways.

The articles were signed, and Archie walked home on feathers apparently.
He went upstairs singing.  His landlady ran to the door.

"Work at last?"

Archie nodded and smiled.

When Sarah came in with the dinner things she danced across the room,
bobbing her queer, old-fashioned face and crying--

"Lawk-a-daisy, diddle-um-doo, Missus says you've got work to do!"

"Yes, Sarah, at long last, and I'm so happy."

"'Appy, indeed!" sang Sarah.  "Why, ye won't be the gent no longer!"

Archie certainly had got work to do.  For a time his employer kept him
in the shop.  There was only one other lad, and he went home with the
physic, and what with studying hard to make himself _au fait_ in
prescribing and selling seidlitz powders and gum drops, Archie was
pretty busy.

So months flew by.  Then his long-faced employer took him into the back
premises, and proceeded to initiate him into the mysteries of the
something else that was to make a man of him.

"There's a fortune in it," said Mr Glorie, pointing to a bubbling
grease-pot.  "Yes, young sir, a vast fortune."

"What is the speciality?"  Archie ventured to enquire.

"The speciality, young sir?" replied Mr Glorie, his face relaxing into
something as near a smile as it would permit of.  "The speciality, sir,
is soap.  A transparent soap.  A soap, young sir, that is destined to
revolutionise the world of commerce, and bring _my_ star to the
ascendant after struggling for two long decades with the dark clouds of
adversity."

So this was the mystery.  Archie was henceforward, so it appeared, to
live in an atmosphere of scented soap; his hope must centre in bubbles.
He was to assist this Mr Glorie's star to rise to the zenith, while his
own fortune might sink to nadir.  And he had paid his premium.  It was
swallowed up and simmering in that ugly old grease-pot, and except for
the miserable salary he received from Mr Glorie he might starve.

Poor Archie!  He certainly did not share his employer's enthusiasm, and
on this particular evening he did not walk home on feathers, and when he
sat down to supper his face must have appeared to Sarah quite as long
and lugubrious as Mr Glorie's; for she raised her hands and said:

"Lawk-a-doodle, sir!  What's the matter?  Have ye killed anybody?"

"Not yet," answered Archie; "but I almost feel I could."

He stuck to his work, however, like a man; but that work became more and
more allied to soap, and the front shop hardly knew him any more.

He had informed the fellows at the club-room that he was employed at
last; that he was apprenticed to the drug trade.  But the soap somehow
leaked out, and more than once, when he was introduced to some
new-comer, he was styled--

"Mr Broadbent," and "something in soap."

This used to make him bite his lips in anger.

He would not have cared half so much had he not joined this very club,
with a little flourish of trumpets, as young Broadbent, son of Squire
Broadbent, of Burley Old Castle, England.

And now he was "something in soap."

He wrote home to his sister in the bitterness of his soul, telling her
that all his visions of greatness had ended in bubbles of rainbow hue,
and that he was "something in soap."  He felt sorry for having done so
as soon as the letter was posted.

He met old Winslow one day in the street, and this gentleman grasped
Archie's small aristocratic hand in his great brown bear's paw, and
congratulated him on having got on his feet at last.

"Yes," said Archie with a sneer and a laugh, "I'm `something in soap.'"

"And soap's a good thing I can tell you.  Soap's not to be despised.
There's a fortune in soap.  I had an uncle in soap.  Stick to it, my
lad, and it'll stick to you."

But when a new apprentice came to the shop one day, and was installed in
the front door drug department, while he himself was relegated to the
slums at the back, his cup of misery seemed full, and he proceeded
forthwith to tell this Mr Glorie what he thought of him.  Mr Glorie's
face got longer and longer and longer, and he finally brought his
clenched fist down with such a bang on the counter, that every bottle
and glass in the place rang like bells.

"I'll have the law on you," he shouted.

"I don't care; I've done with you.  I'm sick of you and your soap."

He really did not mean to do it; but just at that moment his foot kicked
against a huge earthenware jar full of oil, and shivered it in pieces.

"You've broke your indenture!  You--you--"

"I've broken your jar, anyhow," cried Archie.

He picked up his hat, and rushing out, ran recklessly off to his club.

He was "something in soap" no more.

He was beggared, but he was free, unless indeed Mr Glorie should put
him in gaol.

CHAPTER FOURTEEN.

THE KING MAY COME IN THE CADGER'S WAY.

Mr Glorie did not put his runaway apprentice in gaol.  He simply
advertised for another--with a premium.

Poor Archie!  His condition in life was certainly not to be envied now.
He had but very few pounds between him and actual want.

He was rich in one thing alone--pride.  He would sooner starve than
write home for a penny.  No, he _could_ die in a gutter, but he could
not bear to think they should know of it at Burley Old Farm.

Long ago, in the bonnie woods around Burley, he used to wonder to find
dead birds in dark crannies of the rocks.  He could understand it now.
They had crawled into the crannies to die, out of sight and alone.

His club friends tried to rally him.  They tried to cheer him up in more
ways than one.  Be it whispered, they tried to make him seek solace in
gambling and in the wine-cup.

I do not think that I have held up my hero as a paragon.  On the
contrary, I have but represented him as he was--a bold, determined lad,
with many and many a fault; but now I am glad to say this one thing in
his favour: he was not such a fool as to try to drown his wits in wine,
nor to seek to make money questionably by betting and by cards.

After Archie's letter home, in which he told Elsie that he was
"something in soap," he had written another, and a more cheerful one.
It was one which cost him a good deal of trouble to write; for he really
could not get over the notion that he was telling white lies when he
spoke of "his prospects in life, and his hopes being on the ascendant;"
and as he dropped it into the receiver, he felt mean, demoralised; and
he came slowly along George Street, trying to make himself believe that
any letter was better than no letter, and that he would hardly have been
justified in telling the whole truth.

Well, at Burley Old Farm things had rather improved, simply for this
reason: Squire Broadbent had gone in heavily for retrenchment.

He had proved the truth of his own statement: "It does not take much in
this world to make a man happy."  The Squire was happy when he saw his
wife and children happy.  The former was always quietly cheerful, and
the latter did all they could to keep up each other's hearts.  They
spent much of their spare time in the beautiful and romantic tower-room,
and in walking about the woods, the grounds, and farm; for Rupert was
well now, and was his father's right hand, not in the rough-and-tumble
dashing way that Archie would have been, but in a thoughtful,
considering way.

Mr Walton had gone away, but Branson and old Kate were still to the
fore.  The Squire could not have spared these.

I think that Rupert's religion was a very pretty thing.  He had lost
none of his simple faith, his abiding trust in God's goodness, though he
had regained his health.  His devotions were quite as sincere, his
thankfulness for mercies received greater even than before, and he had
the most unbounded faith in the efficacy of prayer.

So his sister and he lived in hope, and the Squire used to build castles
in the green parlour of an evening, and of course the absent Archie was
one of the kings of these castles.

After a certain number of years of retrenchment, Burley was going to
rise from its ashes like the fabled phoenix--machinery and all.  The
Squire was even yet determined to show these old-fashioned farmer folks
of Northumbria "a thing or two."

That was his ambition; and we must not blame him; for a man without
ambition of some kind is a very humble sort of a clod--a clod of very
poor clay.

But to return to Sydney.

Archie had received several rough invitations to go and visit Mr
Winslow.  He had accepted two of these, and, singular to say,
Etheldene's father was absent each time.  Now, I refuse to be
misunderstood.  Archie did not "manage" to call when the ex-miner was
out; but Archie was not displeased.  He had taken a very great fancy for
the child, and did not hesitate to tell her that from the first day he
had met her he had loved her like his sister Elsie.

Of course Etheldene wanted to know all about Elsie, and hours were spent
in telling her about this one darling sister of his, and about Rupert
and all the grand old life at Burley.

"I should laugh," cried Archie, "if some day when you grew up, you
should find yourself in England, and fall in love with Rupert, and marry
him."

The child smiled, but looked wonderfully sad and beautiful the next
moment.  She had a way like this with her.  For if Etheldene had been
taken to represent any month of our English year, it would have been
April--sunshine, flowers, and showers.

But one evening Archie happened to be later out in the suburbs than he
ought to have been.  The day had been hot, and the night was
delightfully cool and pleasant.  He was returning home when a tall,
rough-looking, bearded man stopped him, and asked "for a light, old
chum."  Archie had a match, which he handed him, and as the light fell
on the man's face, it revealed a very handsome one indeed, and one that
somehow seemed not unfamiliar to him.

Archie went on.  There was the noise of singing farther down the street,
a merry band of youths who had been to a race meeting that clay, and
were up to mischief.

The tall man hid under the shadow of a wall.

"They're larrikins," he said to himself, and "he's a greenhorn."  He
spat in his fist, and kept his eye on the advancing figures.

Archie met them.  They were arm-in-arm, five in all, and instead of
making way for him, rushed him, and down he went, his head catching the
kerb with frightful force.  They at once proceeded to rifle him.  But
perhaps "larrikins" had never gone to ground so quickly and so
unexpectedly before.  It was the bearded man who was "having his fling"
among them, and he ended by grabbing one in each hand till a policeman
came up.

Archie remembered nothing more then.

When he became sensible he was in bed with a bandaged head, and feeling
as weak all over as a kitten.  Sarah was in the room with the landlady.

"Hush, my dear," said the latter; "you've been very ill for more than a
week.  You're not to get up, nor even to speak."

Archie certainly did not feel inclined to do either.  He just closed his
eyes and dozed off again, and his soul flew right away back to Burley.

"Oh, yes; he's out of danger!"  It was the doctor's voice.  "He'll do
first-rate with careful nursing."

"He won't want for that, sir.  Sarah here has been like a little mother
to him."

Archie dozed for days.  Only, whenever he was sensible, he could notice
that Sarah was far better dressed, and far older-looking and
nicer-looking than ever she had been.  And now and then the big-bearded
man came and sat by his bed, looking sometimes at him, some times at
Sarah.

One day Archie was able to sit up; he felt quite well almost, though of
course he was not really so.

"I have you to thank for helping me that night," he said.

"Ay, ay, Master Archie; but don't you know me?"

"No--no.  I don't think so."

The big-bearded man took out a little case from his pocket, and pulled
therefrom a pair of horn-bound spectacles.

"Why!" cried Archie, "you're not--"

"I _am_, really."

"Oh, Bob Cooper, I'm pleased to see you!  Tell me all your story."

"Not yet, chummie; it is too long, or rather you're too weak.  Why,
you're crying!"

"It's tears of joy!"

"Well, well; I would join you, lad, but tears ain't in my line.  But
somebody else will want to see you to-morrow."

"Who?"

"Just wait and see."

Archie did wait.  Indeed he had to; for the doctor left express orders
that he was not to be disturbed.

The evening sun was streaming over the hills when Sarah entered next day
and gave a look towards the bed.

"I'm awake, Sarah."

"It's Bob," said Sarah, "and t'other little gent.  They be both a-comin'
upstairs athout their boots."

Archie was just wondering what right Sarah had to call Bob Cooper by his
christian name, when Bob himself came quietly in.

"Ah!" he said, as he approached the bed, "you're beginning to look your
old self already.  Now who is this, think you?"

Archie extended a feeble white hand.

"Why, Whitechapel!" he exclaimed joyfully.  "Wonders will never cease!"

"Well, Johnnie, and how are ye?  I told ye, ye know, that `the king,
might come in the cadger's way.'"

"Not much king about me now, Harry; but sit down.  Why I've come through
such a lot since I saw you, that I begin to feel quite aged.  Well, it
is just like old times seeing you.  But you're not a bit altered.  No
beard, or moustache, or anything, and just as cheeky-looking as when you
gave me that thrashing in the wood at Burley.  But you don't talk so
Cockneyfied."

"No, Johnnie; ye see I've roughed it a bit, and learned better English
in the bush and scrub.  But I say, Johnnie, I wouldn't mind being back
for a day or two at Burley.  I think I could ride your buck-jumping
`Eider Duck' now.  Ah, I won't forget that first ride, though; I've got
to rub myself yet whenever I think of it."

"But how on earth did you get here at all, the pair of you?"

"Well," said Harry, "that ain't my story 'alf so much as it is Bob's.  I
reckon he better tell it."

"Oh, but I haven't the gift of the gab like you, Harry!  I'm a slow
coach.  I am a duffer at a story."

"Stop telling both," cried Archie.  "I don't want any story about the
matter.  Just a little conversational yarn; you can help each other out,
and what I don't understand, why I'll ask, that's all."

"But wait a bit," he continued.  "Touch that bell, Harry.  Pull hard; it
doesn't ring else.  My diggins are not much account.  Here comes Sarah,
singing.  Bless her old soul!  I'd been dead many a day if it hadn't
been for Sarah."

"Look here, Sarah."

"I'm looking nowheres else, Mister Broadbent; but mind you this, if
there's too much talking, I'm to show both these gents downstairs.
Them's the doctor's orders, and they've got to be obeyed.  Now, what's
your will, sir?"

"Tea, Sarah."

"That's right.  One or two words at a time and all goes easy.  Tea you
shall have in the twinkling of a bedpost.  Tea and etceteras."

Sarah was as good as her word.  In ten minutes she had laid a little
table and spread it with good things; a big teapot, cups and saucers,
and a steaming urn.

Then off she went singing again.

Archie wondered what made her so happy, and meant to ask her when his
guests were gone.

"Now, young Squire," said Harry, "I'll be the lady; and if your tea
isn't to your taste, why just holler."

"But don't call me Squire, Harry; I left that title at home.  We're all
equal here.  No kings and no cadgers."

"Well, Bob, when last I saw you in old England, there was a sorrowful
face above your shoulders, and I'll never forget the way you turned
round and asked me to look after your mother's cat."

"Ah, poor mother!  I wish I'd been better to her when I had her.
However, I reckon we'll meet some day up-bye yonder."

"Yes, Bob, and you jumped the fence and disappeared in the wood!  Where
did you go?"

CHAPTER FIFTEEN.

BOB'S STORY: WILD LIFE AT THE DIGGINGS.

"Well, it all came about like this, Archie: `England,' I said to myself,
says I, `ain't no place for a poor man.'  Your gentry people, most o'
them anyhow, are just like dogs in the manger.  The dog couldn't eat the
straw, but he wouldn't let the poor hungry cow have a bite.  Your landed
proprietors are just the same; they got their land as the dog got his
manger.  They took it, and though they can't live on it all, they won't
let anybody else do it."

"You're rather hard on the gentry, Bob."

"Well, maybe, Archie; but they ain't many o' them like Squire Broadbent.
Never mind, there didn't seem to be room for me in England, and I
couldn't help noticing that all the best people, and the freest, and
kindest, were men like your Uncle Ramsay, who had been away abroad, and
had gotten all their dirty little meannesses squeezed out of them.  So
when I left you, after cutting that bit o' stick, I made tracks for
London.  I hadn't much money, so I tramped all the way to York, and then
took train.  When I got to London, why I felt worse off than ever.  Not
a soul to speak to; not a face I knew; even the bobbies looking sour
when I asked them a civil question; and starvation staring me in the
face."

"Starvation, Bob?"

"Ay, Archie, and money in my pocket.  Plenty o' shilling dinners; but,
lo! what was _one_ London shilling dinner to the like o' me?  Why, I
could have bolted three!  Then I thought of Harry here, and made tracks
for whitechapel.  I found the youngster--I'd known him at Burley--and he
was glad to see me again.  His granny was dead, or somebody; anyhow, he
was all alone in the world.  But he made me welcome--downright happy and
welcome.  I'll tell you what it is, Archie lad, Harry is a little
gentleman, Cockney here or Cockney there; and deep down below that
white, thin face o' his, which three years and over of Australian
sunshine hasn't made much browner, Harry carries a heart, look, see!
that wouldn't disgrace an English Squire."

"Bravo, Bob!  I like to hear you speak in that way about our friend."

"Well, that night I said to Harry, `Isn't it hard, Harry.'  I says,
`that in this free and enlightened land a man is put into gaol if he
snares a rabbit?'

"`Free and enlightened fiddlestick!' that was Harry's words.  `I tell ye
what it is, Bob,' says he, `this country is played out.  But I knows
where there are lots o' rabbits for the catching.'

"`Where's that?'  I says.

"`Australia O!' says Harry.

"`Harry,' says I, `let us pool up, and set sail for the land of
rabbits--for Australia O!'

"`Right you are,' says Harry; and we pooled up on the spot; and from
that day we haven't had more'n one purse between the two of us, have we,
Harry?"

"Only one," said Harry; "and one's enough between such old, old chums."

"He may well say old, _old_ chums, Archie; he may well put the two olds
to it; for it isn't so much the time we've been together, it's what
we've come through together; and shoulder to shoulder has always been
our motto.  We've shared our bed, we've shared our blanket, our damper
and our water also, when there wasn't much between the two of us.

"We got helped out by the emigration folks, and we've paid them since,
and a bit of interest thrown in for luck like; but when we stood
together in Port Jackson for the first time, the contents of our purse
wouldn't have kept us living long, I can assure you.

"`Cities aren't for the like of us, Harry,' says I.

"`Not now,' says Harry.

"So we joined a gang going west.  There was a rush away to some place
where somebody had found gold, and Harry and I thought we might do as
well as any o' them.

"Ay, Archie, that was a rush.  `Tinklers, tailors, sodjers, sailors.'  I
declare we thought ourselves the best o' the whole gang, and I think so
still.

"We were lucky enough to meet an old digger, and he told us just exactly
what to take and what to leave.  One thing we _did_ take was steamboat
and train, as far as they would go, and this helped us to leave the mob
a bit in the rear.

"Well, we got high up country at long last--"

"Hold!" cried Harry.  "He's missing the best of it.  Is that fair,
Johnnie?"

"No, it isn't fair."

"Why, Johnnie, we hadn't got fifty miles beyond civilisation when, what
with the heat and the rough food and bad water, Johnnie, my London legs
and my London heart failed me, and down I must lie.  We were near a bit
of a cockatoo farmer's shanty."

"Does it pay to breed cockatoos?" said Archie innocently.

"Don't be the death o' me, Johnnie.  A cockatoo farmer is just a
crofter.  Well, in there Bob helped me, and I could go no farther.  How
long was I ill, Bob?"

"The best part o' two mouths, Harry."

"Ay, Johnnie, and all that time Bob there helped the farmer--dug for
him, trenched and fenced, and all for my sake, and to keep the life in
my Cockney skin."

"Well, Harry," said Bob, "you proved your worth after we got up.  You
hardened down fine after that fever."

Harry turned towards Archie.

"You mustn't believe all Bob says, Johnnie, when he speaks about me.
Bob is a good-natured, silly sort of a chap; and though he has a beard
now, he ain't got more 'n 'alf the lime-juice squeezed out of him yet."

"Never mind, Bob," said Archie, "even limes and lemons should not be
squeezed dry.  You and I are country lads, and we would rather retain a
shade of greenness than otherwise; but go on, Bob."

"Well, now," continued Bob, "I don't know that Harry's fever didn't do
us both good in the long run; for when we started at last for the
interior, we met a good lot of the rush coming back.  There was no fear
of losing the tracks.  That was one good thing that came o' Harry's
fever.  Another was, that it kind o' tightened his constitution.  La! he
could come through anything after that--get wet to the skin and dry
again; lie out under a tree or under the dews o' heaven, and never
complain of stiffness; and eat corn beef and damper as much as you'd
like to put before him; and he never seemed to tire.  As for me, you
know, Archie, I'm an old bush bird.  I was brought up in the woods and
wilds; and, faith, I'm never so much at home as I am in the forests.
Not but what we found the march inland wearisome enough.  Worst of it
was, we had no horses, and we had to do a lot of what you might call
good honest begging; but if the squatters did give us food going up, we
were willing to work for it."

"If they'd let us, Bob."

"Which they didn't.  Hospitality and religion go hand in hand with the
squatter.  When I and Harry here set out on that terribly long march, I
confess to both of ye now I didn't feel at all certain as to how
anything at all would turn out.  I was just as bad as the young bear
when its mother put it down and told it to walk.  The bear said, `All
right, mother; but how is it done?'  And as the mother only answered by
a grunt, the young bear had to do the best it could; and so did we.

"`How is it going to end?'  I often said to Harry.

"`We can't lose anything, Bob,' Harry would say, laughing, `except our
lives, and they ain't worth much to anybody but ourselves; so I'm
thinkin' we're safe.'"

Here Bob paused a moment to stir his tea, and look thoughtfully into the
cup, as if there might be some kind of inspiration to be had from that.

He laughed lightly as he proceeded:

"I'm a bad hand at a yarn; better wi' the gun and the `girn,' Harry.
But I'm laughing now because I remember what droll notions I had about
what the Bush, as they call it, would be like when we got there."

"But, Johnnie," Harry put in, "the curious thing is, that we never did
get there, according to the settlers."

"No?"

"No; because they would always say to us, `You're going Bush way, aren't
ye, boys?'  And we would answer, `Why, ain't we there now?'  And they
would laugh."

"That's true," said Bob.  "The country never seemed to be Bush enough
for anybody.  Soon's they settled down in a place the Bush'd be farther
west."

"Then the Bush, when one is going west," said Archie, "must be like
to-morrow, always one day ahead."

"That's it; and always keeping one day ahead.  But it was Bush enough
for us almost anywhere.  And though I feel ashamed like to own it now,
there was more than once that I wished I hadn't gone there at all.  But
I had taken the jump, you see, and there was no going back.  Well, I
used to think at first that the heat would kill us, but it didn't.  Then
I made sure the want of water would.  That didn't either, because, one
way or another, we always came across some.  But I'll tell you what
nearly killed us, and that was the lonesomeness of those forests.  Talk
of trees!  La!  Archie, you'd think of Jack and the beanstalk if you saw
some we saw.  And why didn't the birds sing sometimes?  But no, only the
constant bicker, bicker of something in the grass.  There were sounds
though that did alarm us.  We know now that they were made by birds and
harmless beasts, but we were all in the dark then.

"Often and often, when we were just dropping, and thought it would be a
comfort to lie down and die, we would come out of a forest all at once,
and feel in a kind of heaven because we saw smoke, or maybe heard the
bleating o' sheep.  Heaven?  Indeed, Archie, it seemed to be; for we had
many a kindly welcome from the roughest-looking chaps you could possibly
imagine.  And the luxury of bathing our poor feet, with the certainty of
a pair of dry, clean socks in the mornin', made us as happy as a couple
of kings.  A lump of salt junk, a dab of damper, and a bed in a corner
made us feel so jolly we could hardly go to sleep for laughing.

"But the poor beggars we met, how they did carry on to be sure about
their bad luck, and about being sold, and this, that, and t'other.  Ay,
and they didn't all go back.  We saw dead bodies under trees that nobody
had stopped to bury; and it was sad enough to notice that a good many of
these were women, and such pinched and ragged corpses!  It isn't nice to
think back about it.

"Had anybody found gold in this rush?  Yes, a few got good working
claims, but most of the others stopped till they couldn't stop any
longer, and had to get away east again, crawling, and cursing their fate
and folly.

"But I'll tell you, Archie, what ruined most o' them.  Just drink.  It
is funny that drink will find its way farther into the bush at times
than bread will.

"Well, coming in at the tail o' the day, like, as Harry and I did, we
could spot how matters stood at a glance, and we determined to keep
clear of bush hotels.  Ah! they call them all hotels.  Well, I'm a rough
un, Archie, but the scenes I've witnessed in some of those drinking
houffs has turned my stomach.  Maudlin, drunken miners, singing, and
blethering, and boasting; fighting and rioting worse than poachers,
Archie, and among them--heaven help us!--poor women folks that would
melt your heart to look on.

"`Can we settle down here a bit?'  I said to Harry, when we got to the
diggings.

"`We'll try our little best, old chum,' was Harry's reply.

"And we did try.  It was hard even to live at first.  The food, such as
it was in the new stores, was at famine price, and there was not much to
be got from the rivers and woods.  But after a few months things mended;
our station grew into a kind o' working town.  We had even a graveyard,
and all the worst of us got weeded out, and found a place there.

"Harry and I got a claim after no end of prospecting that we weren't up
to.  We bought our claim, and bought it cheap; and the chap we got it
from died in a week.  Drink?  Ay, Archie, drink.  I'll never forget, and
Harry I don't think will, the last time we saw him.  We had left him in
a neighbour's hut down the gully dying to all appearance, too weak
hardly to speak.  We bade him `good-bye' for the last time as we
thought, and were just sitting and talking like in our slab hut before
turning in, and late it must have been, when the door opened, and in
came Glutz, that was his name.  La! what a sight!  His face looked like
the face of a skeleton with some parchment drawn tight over it, his
hollow eyes glittered like wildfire, his lips were dry and drawn, his
voice husky.

"He pointed at us with his shining fingers, and uttered a low cry like
some beast in pain; then, in a horrid whisper, he got out these words:

"`Give me drink, drink, I'm burning.'

"I've seen many a sight, but never such a one as that, Archie.  We
carried him back.  Yes, we did let him have a mouthful.  What mattered
it.  Next day he was in a shallow grave.  I suppose the dingoes had him.
They had most of those that died.

"Well, by-and-by things got better with Harry and me; our claim began to
yield, we got dust and nuggets.  We said nothing to anybody.  We built a
better sort of shanty, and laid out a morsel of garden, we fished and
hunted, and soon learned to live better than we'd done before, and as we
were making a bit of money we were as happy as sandboys.

"No, we didn't keep away from the hotel--they soon got one up--it
wouldn't have done not to be free and easy.  But we knew exactly what to
do when we did go there.  We could spin our bits o' yarns, and smoke our
pipes, without losing our heads.  Sometimes shindies got up though, and
revolvers were used freely enough, but as a rule it was pretty quiet."

"Only once, when that little fellow told you to `bail up.'"

"What was that, Harry?" asked Archie.

"Nothing much," said Bob shyly.

"He caught him short round the waist, Johnnie, and smashed everything on
the counter with him, then flung him straight and clear through the
doorway.  When he had finished he quietly asked what was to pay, and Bob
was a favourite after that.  I reckon no one ever thought of challenging
him again."

"Where did you keep your gold?"

"We hid it in the earth in the tent.  There was a black fellow came to
look after us every day.  We kept him well in his place, for we never
could trust him; and it was a good thing we did, as I'm going to tell
you.

"We had been, maybe, a year and a half in the gully, and had got
together a gay bit o' swag, when our claim gave out all at once as
'twere--some shift o' the ground or lode.  Had we had machinery we might
have made a round fortune, but there was no use crying about it.  We
quietly determined to make tracks.  We had sent some away to Brisbane
already--that we knew was safe, but we had a good bit more to take about
us.  However, we wouldn't have to walk all the way back, for though the
place was half-deserted, there were horses to be had, and farther along
we'd manage to get drags.

"Two of the worst hats about the place were a man called Vance, and a
kind of broken-down surgeon of the name of Williams.  They lived by
their wits, and the wonder is they hadn't been hanged long ago.

"It was about three nights before we started, and we were coming home up
the gully.  The moon was shining as bright as ever I'd seen it.  The dew
was falling too, and we weren't sorry when we got inside.  Our tame
dingo came to meet us.  He had been a pup that we found in the bush and
brought up by hand, and a more faithful fellow never lived.  We lit our
fat-lamp and sat down to talk, and a good hour, or maybe more, went by.
Then we lay down, for there was lots to be done in the morning.

"There was a little hole in the hut at one end where Wango, as we called
the wild dog, could crawl through; and just as we were dozing off I
heard a slight noise, and opened my eyes enough to see poor Wango
creeping out.  We felt sure he wouldn't go far, and would rush in and
alarm us if there were the slightest danger.  So in a minute more I was
sleeping as soundly as only a miner can sleep, Archie.  How long I may
have slept, or how late or early it was, I couldn't say, but I awoke all
at once with a start.  There was a man in the hut.  Next minute a shot
was fired.  I fell back, and don't remember any more.  Harry there will
tell you the rest."

"It was the shot that wakened me, Archie, but I felt stupid.  I groped
round for my revolver, and couldn't find it.  Then, Johnnie, I just let
them have it Tom Sayers's fashion--like I did you in the wood, if you
remember."

"There were two of them?"

"Ay, Vance and the doctor.  I could see their faces by the light of
their firing.  They didn't aim well the first time, Johnnie, so I
settled them.  I threw the doctor over my head.  His nut must have come
against something hard, because it stilled him.  I got the door opened
and had my other man out.  Ha! ha!  It strikes me, Johnnie, that I must
have wanted some exercise, for I never punished a bloke before as I
punished that Vance.  He had no more strength in him than a bandicoot by
the time I was quite done with him, and looked as limp all over and just
as lively as 'alf a pound of London tripe.

"I just went to the bluff-top after that, and coo-eed for help, and
three or four right good friends were with us in as many minutes,
Johnnie.

"We thought Bob was dead, but he soon spoke up and told us he wasn't,
and didn't mean to die.

"Our chums would have lynched the ruffians that night.  The black fellow
was foremost among those that wanted to.  But I didn't like that, no
more did Bob.  They were put in a tent, tied hand and foot, and our
black fellow made sentry over them.  Next day they were all gone.  Then
we knew it was a put-up job.  Poor old Wango was found with his throat
cut.  The black fellow had enticed him out and taken him off, then the
others had gone for us."

"But our swag was safe," said Bob, "though I lay ill for months after.
And now it was Harry's turn to nurse; and I can tell you, Archie, that
my dear, old dead-and-gone mother couldn't have been kinder to me than
he was.  A whole party of us took the road back east, and many is the
pleasant evening we spent around our camp fire.

"We got safe to Brisbane, and we got safe here; but somehow we're a kind
o' sick of mining."

"Ever hear more of your assailants?" asked Archie.

"What, the chaps who tried to bail us up?  Yes.  We did hear they'd
taken to bush-ranging, and are likely to come to grief at that."

"Well, Bob Cooper, I think you've told your story pretty tidily, with
Harry's assistance; and I don't wonder now that you've only got one
purse between you."

"Ah!" said Bob, "it would take weeks to tell you one half of our
adventures.  We may tell you some more when we're all together in the
Bush doing a bit of farming."

"All together?"

"To be sure!  D'ye reckon we'll leave you here, now we've found you?
We'll have one purse between three."

"Indeed, Bob, we will not.  If I go to the Bush--and now I've half a
mind to--I'll work like a New Hollander."

"Bravo!  You're a chip o' the old block.  Well, we can arrange that.
We'll hire you.  Will that do, my proud young son of a proud old sire?"

"Yes; you can hire me."

"Well, we'll pay so much for your hands, and so much for your head and
brains."

Archie laughed.

"And," continued Bob, "I'm sure that Sarah will do the very best for the
three of us."

"Sarah!  Why, what do you mean, Bob?"

"Only this, lad: Sarah has promised to become my little wife."

The girl had just entered.

"Haven't you, Sarah?"

"Hain't I what?"

"Promised to marry me."

"Well, Mister Archie Broadbent, now I comes to think on't, I believes I
'ave.  You know, mister, you wouldn't never 'ave married me."

"No, Sarah."

"Well, and I'm perfectly sick o' toilin' up and down these stairs.
That's 'ow it is, sir."

"Well, Sarah," said Archie, "bring us some more nice tea, and I'll
forgive you for this once, but you mustn't do it any more."

It was late ere Bob and Harry went away.  Archie lay back at once, and
when, a few minutes after, the ex-policeman's wife came in to see how he
was, she found him sound and fast.

Archie was back again at Burley Old Farm, that is why he smiled in his
dreams.

"So I'm going to be a hired man in the bush," he said to himself next
morning.  "That's a turn in the kaleidoscope of fortune."

However, as the reader will see, it did not quite come to this with
Archie Broadbent.

CHAPTER SIXTEEN.

A MINER'S MARRIAGE.

It was the cool season in Sydney.  In other words, it was winter just
commencing; so, what with balmy air and beauty everywhere around, no
wonder Archie soon got well.  He had the kindest treatment too, and he
had youth and hope.

He could now write home to his parents and Elsie a long, cheerful letter
without any twinge of conscience.  He was going to begin work soon in
downright earnest, and get straight away from city life, and all its
allurements; he wondered, he said, it had not occurred to him to do this
before, only it was not too late to mend even yet.  He hated city life
now quite as much as he had previously loved it, and been enamoured of
it.

It never rains but it pours, and on the very day after he posted his
packet to Burley he received a registered letter from his uncle.  It
contained a bill of exchange for fifty pounds.  Archie blushed scarlet
when he saw it.

Now had this letter and its contents been from his father, knowing all
he did of the straits at home, he would have sent the money back.  But
his uncle evidently knew whom he had to deal with; for he assured Archie
in his letter that it was a loan, not a gift.  He might want it he said,
and he really would be obliging him by accepting it.  He--Uncle Ramsay--
knew what the world was, and so on and so forth, and the letter ended by
requesting Archie to say nothing about it to his parents at present.

"Dear old boy," said Archie half aloud, and tears of gratitude sprang to
his eyes.  "How thoughtful and kind!  Well, it'll be a loan, and I'll
pray every night that God may spare him till I get home to shake his
honest brown paw, and thrust the fifty pounds back into it.  No, it
would be really unkind to refuse it."

He went straight away--walking on feathers--to Bob's hotel.  He found
him and Harry sitting out on the balcony drinking sherbet.  He took a
seat beside them.

"I'm in clover, boys," he cried exultingly, as he handed the cash to Bob
to look at.

"So you are," said Bob, reading the figures.  "Well, this is what my old
mother would call a Godsend.  I always said your Uncle Ramsay was as
good as they make 'em."

"It looks a lot of money to me at present," said Archie.  "I'll have all
that to begin life with; for I have still a few pounds left to pay my
landlady, and to buy a blanket or two."

"Well, as to what you'll buy, Archie," said Bob Cooper, "if you don't
mind leaving that to us, we will manage all, cheaper and better than you
could; for we're old on the job."

"Oh!  I will with pleasure, only--"

"I know all about that.  You'll settle up.  Well, we're all going to be
settlers.  Eh?  See the joke?"

"Bob doesn't often say funny things," said Harry; "so it must be a fine
thing to be going to get married."

"Ay, lad, and I'm going to do it properly.  Worst of it is, Archie, I
don't know anybody to invite.  Oh, we must have a dinner!  Bother
breakfasts, and hang honeymoons.  No, no; a run round Sydney will suit
Sarah better than a year o' honeymooning nonsense.  Then we'll all go
off in the boat to Brisbane.  That'll be a honeymoon and a half in
itself.  Hurrah!  Won't we all be so happy!  I feel sure Sarah's a
jewel."

"How long did you know her, Bob, before you asked her the momentous
question?"

"Asked her _what_!"

"To marry you."

"Oh, only a week!  La! that's long enough.  I could see she was true
blue, and as soft as rain.  Bless her heart!  I say, Archie, who'll we
ask?"

"Well, I know a few good fellows--"

"Right.  Let us have them.  What's their names?"

Out came Bob's notebook, and down went a dozen names.

"That'll be ample," said Archie.

"Well," Bob acquiesced with a sigh, "I suppose it must.  Now we're going
to be spliced by special licence, Sarah and I.  None of your doing
things by half.  And Harry there is going to order the cabs and
carriages, and favours and music, and the parson, and everything
firstchop."

The idea of "ordering the parson" struck Archie as somewhat incongruous;
but Bob had his own way of saying things, and it was evident he would
have his own way in doing things too for once.

"And," continued Bob, "the ex-policeman's wife and I are going to buy
the bonnie things to-morrow.  And as for the `bobby' himself, we'll have
to send him away for the day.  He is too fond of one thing, and would
spoil the splore."

Next day sure enough Bob did start off with the "bobby's" wife to buy
the bonnie things.  A tall, handsome fellow Bob looked too; and the
tailor having done his best, he was altogether a dandy.  He would
persist in giving his mother, as he called her, his arm on the street,
and the appearance of the pair of them caused a good many people to look
after them and smile.

However, the "bonnie things" were bought, and it was well he had someone
to look after him, else he would have spent money uselessly as well as
freely.  Only, as Bob said, "It was but one day in his life, why
shouldn't he make the best of it?"

He insisted on making his mother a present of a nice little gold watch.
No, he _wouldn't_ let her have a silver one, and it _should_ be "set
with blue-stones."  He would have that one, and no other.

"Too expensive?  No, indeed!" he cried.  "Make out the bill, master, and
I'll knock down my cheque.  Hurrah! one doesn't get married every
morning, and it isn't everybody who gets a girl like Sarah when he does
get spliced!  So there!"

Archie had told Bob and Harry of his first dinner at the hotel, and how
kind and considerate in every way the waiter had been, and how he had
often gone back there to have a talk.

"It is there then, and nowhere else," said Bob, "we'll have our wedding
dinner."

Archie would not gainsay this; and nothing would satisfy the lucky miner
but chartering a whole flat for a week.

"That's the way we'll do it," he said; "and now look here, as long as
the week lasts, any of your friends can drop into breakfast, dinner, or
supper.  We are going to do the thing proper, if we sell our best
jackets to help to pay the bill.  What say, old chummie?"

"Certainly," said Harry; "and if ever I'm fool enough to get married,
I'll do the same kind o' thing."

A happy thought occurred to Archie the day before the marriage.

"How much loose cash have you, Bob?"

"I dunno," said Bob, diving his hands into both his capacious pockets--
each were big enough to hold a rabbit--and making a wonderful rattling.

"I reckon I've enough for to-morrow.  It seems deep enough."

"Well, my friend, hand over."

"What!" cried Bob, "you want me to bail up?"

"Bail up!"

"You're a downright bushranger, Archie.  However, I suppose I must
obey."

Then he emptied his pockets into a pile on the table--gold, silver,
copper, all in the same heap.  Archie counted and made a note of all,
put part away in a box, locked it, gave Bob back a few coins, mostly
silver, and stowed the rest in his purse.

"Now," said Archie, "be a good old boy, Bob; and if you want any more
money, just ask nicely, and perhaps you'll have it."

There was a rattling thunder-storm that night, which died away at last
far beyond the hills, and next morning broke bright, and cool, and
clear.

A more lovely marriage morning surely never yet was seen.

And in due time the carriages rolled up to the church door, horses and
men bedecked in favours, and right merry was the peal that rang forth
from Saint James's.

Sarah did not make by any means an uninteresting bride.  She had not
over-dressed, so that showed she possessed good taste.

As for the stalwart Northumbrian, big-bearded Bob, he really was
splendid.  He was all a man, I can assure you, and bore himself as such
in spite of the fact that his black broadcloth coat was rather wrinkly
in places, and that his white kid gloves had burst at the sides.

There was a glorious glitter of love and pride in his dark blue eyes as
he towered beside Sarah at the altar, and he made the responses in tones
that rang through all the church.

After the ceremony and vestry business Bob gave a sigh of relief, and
squeezed Sarah's hand till she blushed.

The carriage was waiting, and a pretty bit of a mob too.  And before Bob
jumped in he said, "Now, Harry, for the bag."

As he spoke he gave a look of triumph towards Archie, as much as to say,
"See how I have sold you."

Harry handed him a bag of silver coins.

"Stand by, you boys, for a scramble," shouted Bob in a voice that almost
brought down the church.

"Coo-ee!"

And out flew handful after handful, here, there, and everywhere, till
the sack was empty.

When the carriages got clear away at last, there was a ringing cheer
went up from the crowd that really did everybody's heart good to hear.

Of course the bridegroom stood up and waved his hat back, and when at
last he subsided:

"Och!" he sighed, "that is the correct way to get married.  I've got all
their good wishes, and they're worth their weight in gold, let alone
silver."

The carriages all headed away for the heights of North Shore, and on to
the top of the bay, from whence such a glorious panorama was spread out
before them as one seldom witnesses.  The city itself was a sight; but
there were the hills, and rocks, and woods, and the grand coast line,
and last, though not least, the blue sea itself.

The breakfast was _al fresco_.  It really was a luncheon, and it would
have done credit to the wedding of a Highland laird or lord, let alone a
miner and _quondam_ poacher.  But Australia is a queer place.  Bob's
money at all events had been honestly come by, and everybody hailed him
king of the day.  He knew he was king, and simply did as he pleased.
Here is one example of his abounding liberality.  Before starting back
for town that day he turned to Archie, as a prince might turn:

"Archie, chummie," he said.

"You see those boys?"

"Yes."

"Well, they all look cheeky."

"Very much so, Bob."

"And I dearly love a cheeky boy.  Scatter a handful of coins among them,
and see that there be one or two yellow ones in the lot."

"What nonsense!" cried Archie; "what extravagant folly, Bob!"

"All right," said Bob quietly.  "I've no money, but--" He pulled out his
splendid gold hunter.

"What are you going to do?"

"Why, let them scramble for the watch."

"No, no, Bob; I'll throw the coins."

"You have to," said Bob, sitting down, laughing.

The dinner, and the dance afterwards, were completely successful.  There
was no over-crowding, and no stuck-up-ness, as Bob called it.  Everybody
did what he pleased, and all were as happy and jolly as the night was
long.

Bob did not go away on any particular honeymoon.  He told Sarah they
would have their honeymoon out when they went to the Bush.

Meanwhile, day after day, for a week, the miner bridegroom kept open
house for Archie's friends; and every morning some delightful trip was
arranged, which, faithfully carried out, brought everyone hungry and
happy back to dinner.

There is more beauty of scenery to be seen around Sydney in winter than
would take volumes to describe by pen, and acres of canvas to depict;
and, after all, both author and artist would have to admit that they had
not done justice to their subject.

Now that he had really found friends--humble though they might be
considered in England--life to Archie, which before his accident was
very grey and hopeless, became bright and clear again.  He had a
present, and he believed he had a future.  He saw new beauties
everywhere around him, even in the city; and the people themselves, who
in his lonely days seemed to him so grasping, grim, and heartless, began
to look pleasant in his eyes.  This only proves that we have happiness
within our reach if we only let it come to us, and it never will while
we sit and sulk, or walk around and growl.

Bob, with his young wife and Archie and Harry, made many a pilgrimage
all round the city, and up and through the sternly rugged and grand
scenery among the Blue Mountains.  Nor was it all wild and stern, for
valleys were visited, whose beauty far excelled anything else Archie had
ever seen on earth, or could have dreamt of even.  Sky, wood, hill,
water, and wild flowers all combined to form scenes of loveliness that
were entrancing at this sweet season of the year.

Twenty times a day at least Archie was heard saying to himself, "Oh, how
I wish sister and Rupert were here!"

Then there were delightful afternoons spent in rowing about the bay.

I really think Bob was taking the proper way to enjoy himself after all.
He had made up his mind to spend a certain sum of money on seeing all
that was worth seeing, and he set himself to do so in a thoroughly
business way.  Well, if a person has got to do nothing, the best plan is
to do it pleasantly.

So he would hire one of the biggest, broadest-beamed boats he could
find, with two men to row.  They would land here and there in the course
of the afternoon, and towards sunset get well out into the centre of the
bay.  This was the time for enjoyment.  The lovely chain of houses, the
woods, and mansions half hid in a cloudland of soft greens and hazy
blues; the far-off hills, the red setting sun, the painted sky, and the
water itself casting reflections of all above.

Then slowly homewards, the chains of lights springing up here, there,
and everywhere as the gloaming began to deepen into night.

If seeing and enjoying such scenes as these with a contented mind, a
good appetite, and the certainty of an excellent dinner on their return,
did not constitute genuine happiness, then I do not know from personal
experience what that feeling is.

But the time flew by.  Preparations had to be made to leave this
fascinating city, and one day Archie proposed that Bob and he should
visit Winslow in his suburban villa.

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN.

MR WINSLOW IN A DIFFERENT LIGHT.

"You'll find him a rough stick," said Archie.

"What, rougher than me or Harry?" said Bob.

"Well, as you've put the question I'll answer you pat.  I don't consider
either you or Harry particularly rough.  If you're rough you're right,
Bob, and it is really wonderful what a difference mixing with the world
has done for both of you; and if you knew a little more of the rudiments
of English grammar, you would pass at a pinch."

"Thank ye," said Bob.

"You've got a bit of the bur-r-r of Northumbria in your brogue, but I do
believe people like it, and Harry isn't half the Cockney he used to be.
But, Bob, this man--I wish I could say gentleman--Winslow never was, and
never could be, anything but a shell-back.  He puts me in mind of the
warty old lobsters one sees crawling in and out among the rocks away
down at the point yonder.

"But, oh!" added Archie, "what a little angel the daughter is!  Of
course she is only a baby.  And what a lovely name--Etheldene!  Isn't it
sweet, Bob?"

"I don't know about the sweetness; there is a good mouthful of it,
anyhow."

"Off you go, Bob, and dress.  Have you darned those holes in your
gloves?"

"No; bought a new pair."

"Just like your extravagance.  Be off!"

Bob Cooper took extra pains with his dressing to-day, and when he
appeared at last before his little wife Sarah, she turned him round and
round and round three times, partly for luck, and partly to look at him
with genuine pride up and down.

"My eye," she said at last, "you does look stunning!  Not a pin in
sight, nor a string sticking out anywheres.  You're going to see a young
lady, I suppose; but Sarah ain't jealous of her little man.  She likes
to see him admired."

"Yes," said Bob, laughing; "you've hit the nail straight on the head; I
am going to see a young lady.  She is fourteen year old, I think.  But
bless your little bobbing bit o' a heart, lass, it isn't for her I'm
dressed.  No; I'm going with t' young Squire.  He may be all the same as
us out here, and lets me call him Archie.  But what are they out here,
after all?  Why, only a set o' whitewashed heathens.  No, I must dress
for the company I'm in."

"And the very young lady--?"

"Is a Miss Winslow.  I think t' young Squire is kind o' gone on her,
though she _is_ only a baby.  Well, good-bye, lass."

"Good-bye, little man."

Etheldene ran with smiles and outstretched arms to meet Archie, but drew
back when she noticed the immense bearded stranger.

"It's only Bob," said Archie.  "Is your father in?"

"Yes, and we're all going to have tea out here under the trees."

The "all" was not a very large number; only Etheldene's governess and
father, herself, and a girl playmate.

Poor Etheldene's mother had died in the Bush when she was little more
than a baby.  The rough life had hardly suited her.  And this child had
been such a little bushranger from her earliest days that her present
appearance, her extreme beauty and gentleness, made another of those
wonderful puzzles for which Australia is notorious.

Probably Etheldene knew more about the blacks, with their strange
customs and manners, their curious rites and superstitions, and more
about the home life of wallabies, kangaroos, dingoes, birds, insects,
and every thing that grew wild, than many a professed naturalist; but
she had her own names, or names given by blacks, to the trees and to the
wild flowers.

While Etheldene, somewhat timidly it must be confessed, was leading big
Bob round the gardens and lawns by the hand as if he were a kind of
exaggerated schoolboy, and showing him all her pets--animate and
inanimate--her ferns and flowers and birds, Winslow himself came upon
the scene with the _Morning Herald_ in his hand.  He was dressed--if
dressing it could be called--in the same careless manner Archie had last
seen him.  It must be confessed, however, that this semi-negligent style
seemed to suit him.  Archie wondered if ever he had worn a necktie in
his life, and how he would look in a dress suit.  He lounged up with
careless ease, and stuck out his great spade of a hand.

Archie remembered he was Etheldene's father, and shook it.

"Well, youngster, how are you?  Bobbish, eh?  Ah, I see Ethie has got in
tow with a new chum.  Your friend?  Is he now?  Well, that's the sort of
man I like.  He's bound to do well in this country.  You ain't a bad
sort yourself, lad; but nothing to that, no more than a young turkey is
to an emu.  Well, sit down."

Mr Winslow flung himself on the grass.  It might be rather damp, but he
dared not trust his weight and bulk on a lawn-chair.

"So your friend's going to the Bush, and going to take you with him,
eh?"

Archie's proud soul rebelled against this way of talking, but he said
nothing.  It was evident that Mr Winslow looked upon him as a boy.

"Well, I hope you'll do right both of you.  What prospects have you?"

Archie told him how high his hopes were, and how exalted his notions.

"Them's your sentiments, eh?  Then my advice is this: Pitch 'em all
overboard--the whole jing-bang of them.  Your high-flown notions sink
you English greenhorns.  Now, when I all but offered you a position
under me--"

"Under your gardener," said Archie, smiling.  "Well, it's all the same.
I didn't mean to insult your father's son.  I wanted to know if you had
the grit and the go in you."

"I think I've both, sir.  Father--Squire Broadbent--"

"Squire Fiddlestick!"

"Sir!"

"Go on, lad, never mind me.  Your father--"

"My father brought me up to work."

"Tossing hay, I suppose, raking flower-beds and such.  Well, you'll find
all this different in Australian Bush-life; it is sink or swim there."

"Well, I'm going to swim."

"Bravo, boy!"

"And now, sir, do you mean to tell me that brains go for nothing in this
land of contrariety?"

"No," cried Winslow, "no, lad.  Goodness forbid I should give you that
impression.  If I had only the gift of the gab, and were a good writer,
I'd send stuff to this paper," (here he struck the sheet that lay on the
grass) "that would show men how I felt, and I'd be a member of the
legislature in a year's time.  But this is what I say, lad, _Brains
without legs and arms, and a healthy stomach, are no good here_, or very
little.  We want the two combined; but if either are to be left out, why
leave out the brains.  There is many an English youth of gentle birth
and good education that would make wealth and honour too in this new
land of ours, if he could pocket his pride, don a workman's jacket, and
put his shoulder to the wheel.  That's it, d'ye see?"

"I think I do."

"That's right.  Now tell me about your uncle.  Dear old man!  We never
had a cross word all the time I sailed with him."

Archie did tell him all, everything, and even gave him his last letter
to read.

By-and-by Etheldene came back, still leading her exaggerated schoolboy.

"Sit down, Mr Cooper, on the grass.  That's the style."

"Well," cried Archie, laughing, "if everybody is going to squat on the
grass, so shall I."

Even Etheldene laughed at this; and when the governess came, and
servants with the tea, they found a very happy family indeed.

After due introductions, Winslow continued talking to Bob.

"That's it, you see, Mr Cooper; and I'm right glad you've come to me
for advice.  What I don't know about settling in Bushland isn't worth
knowing, though I say it myself.  There are plenty long-headed fellows
that have risen to riches very quickly, but I believe, lad, the same men
would have made money in their own country.  They are the geniuses of
finance; fellows with four eyes in their head, and that can look two
ways at once.  But they are the exception, and the ordinary man needn't
expect such luck, because he won't get it.

"Now there's yourself, Mr Cooper, and your friend that I haven't seen;
you've made a lucky dive at the fields, and you're tired of
gold-digging.  I don't blame you.  You want to turn farmer in earnest.
On a small scale you are a capitalist.  Well, mind, you're going to play
a game, in which the very first movement may settle you for good or
evil.

"Go to Brisbane.  Don't believe the chaps here.  Go straight away up,
and take time a bit, and look round.  Don't buy a pig in a poke.
Hundreds do.  There's a lot of people whose interest is to sell A1
claims, and a shoal of greenhorns with capital who want to buy.  Now
listen.  Maybe not one of these have any experience.  They see
speculation in each other's eyes; and if one makes a grab, the other
will try to be before him, and very likely the one that lays hold is
hoisted.  Let me put it in another way.  Hang a hook, with a nice piece
of pork on it, overboard where there are sharks.  Everyone would like
the pork, but everyone is shy and suspicious.  Suddenly a shark, with
more speculation in his eye than the others, prepares for a rush, and
rather than he shall have it all the rest do just the same, and the
lucky one gets hoisted.  It's that way with catching capitalists.  So I
say again, Look before you leap.  Don't run after bargains.  They may be
good, but--This young fellow here has some knowledge of English farming.
Well, that is good in its way, very good; and he has plenty of muscle,
and is willing to work, that is better.  If he were all alone, I'd tell
him to go away to the Bush and shear sheep, build fences, and drive
cattle for eighteen months, and keep his eyes wide open, and his ears
too, and he'd get some insight into business.  As it is, you're all
going together, and you'll all have a look at things.  You'll see what
sort of stock the country is suited for--sheep, or cattle, or both; if
it is exposed, or wet, or day, or forest, or all together.  And you'll
find out if it be healthy for men and stock, and not `sour' for either;
and also you'll consider what markets are open to you.  For there'd be
small use in rearing stock you couldn't sell.  See?"

"Yes," said Bob; "I see a lot of difficulties in the way I hadn't
thought of."

"Go warily then, and the difficulties will vanish.  I think I'll go with
you to Brisbane," added Winslow, after a pause.  "I'm getting sick
already of civilised life."

Etheldene threw her arms round her father's neck.

"Well, birdie, what is it?  'Fraid I go and leave you too long?"

"You mustn't leave me at all, father.  I'm sometimes sick of civilised
life.  I'm going with you wherever you go."

That same evening after dinner, while Etheldene was away somewhere with
her new friend--showing him, I think, how to throw the boomerang--
Winslow and Archie sat out in the verandah looking at the stars while
they sipped their coffee.

Winslow had been silent for a time, suddenly he spoke.

"I'm going to ask you a strange question, youngster," he said.

"Well, sir?" said Archie.

"Suppose I were in a difficulty, from what you have seen of me would you
help me out if you could?"

"You needn't ask, sir," said Archie.  "My uncle's friend."

"Well, a fifty-pound note would do it."

Archie had his uncle's draft still with him.  He never said a word till
he had handed it to Winslow, and till this eccentric individual had
crumpled it up, and thrust it unceremoniously, and with only a grunt of
thanks, into one of his capacious pockets.

"But," said Archie, "I would rather you would not look upon it as a
loan.  In fact, I am doubting the evidence of my senses.  You--with all
the show of wealth I see around me--to be in temporary need of a poor,
paltry fifty pounds!  Verily, sir, this is the land of contrarieties."

Winslow simply laughed.

"You have a lot to learn yet," he said, "my young friend; but I admire
your courage, and your generous-heartedness, though not your business
habits."

Archie and Bob paid many a visit to Wistaria Grove--the name of
Winslow's place--during the three weeks previous to the start from
Sydney.

One day, when alone with Archie, Winslow thrust an envelope into his
hands.

"That's your fifty pounds," he said.  "Why, count it, lad; don't stow it
away like that.  It ain't business."

"Why," said Archie, "here are three hundred pounds, not fifty pounds!"

"It's all yours, lad, every penny; and if you don't put it up I'll put
it in the fire."

"But explain."

"Yes, nothing more easy.  You mustn't be angry.  No?  Well, then, I
knew, from all accounts, you were a chip o' the old block, and there was
no use offending your silly pride by offering to lend you money to buy a
morsel of claim, so I simply borrowed yours and put it out for you."

"Put it out for me?"

"Yes, that's it; and the money is honestly increased.  Bless your
innocence!  I could double it in a week.  It is making the first
thousand pounds that is the difficulty in this country of contrarieties,
as you call it."

When Archie told Bob the story that evening, Bob's answer was:

"Well, lad, I knew Winslow was a good-hearted fellow the very first day
I saw him.  Never you judge a man by his clothes, Archie."

"First impressions certainly _are_ deceiving," said Archie; "and I'm
learning something new every day of my life."

------------------------------------------------------------------------

"I am going round to Melbourne for a week or two, boys," said Winslow
one day.  "Which of you will come with me?"

"I'll stop here," said Bob, "and stick to business.  You had better go,
Archie."

"I would like to, if--if I could afford it."

"Now, just look here, young man, you stick that eternal English pride of
yours in your pocket.  I ask you to come with me as a guest, and if you
refuse I'll throw you overboard.  And if, during our journey, I catch
you taking your pride, or your purse either, out of your pocket, I'll
never speak another word to you as long as I live."

"All right," said Archie, laughing; "that settles it.  Is Etheldene
going too?"

"Yes, the child is going.  She won't stay away from her old dad.  She
hasn't a mother, poor thing."

Regarding Archie's visit to Victoria, we must let him speak himself
another time; for the scene of our story must now shift.

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN.

BOOK III--IN THE WILD INTERIOR.

"IN THIS NEW LAND OF OURS."

There was something in the glorious lonesomeness of Bush-life that
accorded most completely with Archie's notions of true happiness and
independence.  His life now, and the lives of all the three, would be
simply what they chose to make them.  To use the figurative language of
the New Testament, they had "taken hold of the plough," and they
certainly had no intention of "looking back."

Archie felt (this too is figurative) as the mariner may be supposed to
feel just leaving his native shore to sail away over the broad, the
boundless ocean to far-off lands.  His hand is on the tiller; the shore
is receding; his eye is aloft, where the sails are bellying out before
the wind.  There is hardly a sound, save the creaking of the blocks, or
rattle of the rudder chains, the joyous ripple of the water, and the
screaming of the sea-birds, that seem to sing their farewells.  Away
ahead is the blue horizon and the heaving sea, but he has faith in his
good barque, and faith in his own skill and judgment, and for the time
being he is a Viking; he is "monarch of all he surveys."

"Monarch of all he surveys?"  Yes; these words are borrowed from the
poem on Robinson Crusoe, you remember; that stirring story that so
appeals to the heart of every genuine boy.

There was something of the Robinson Crusoe element in Archie's present
mode of living, for he and his friends had to rough it in the same
delightfully primitive fashion.  They had to know and to practise a
little of almost every trade under the sun; and while life to the boy--
he was really little more--was very real and very earnest, it felt all
the time like playing at being a man.

But how am I to account for the happiness--nay, even joyfulness--that
appeared to be infused in the young man's very blood and soul?  Nay, not
appeared to be only, but that actually was--a joyfulness whose effects
could at times be actually felt in his very frame and muscle like a
proud thrill, that made his steps and tread elastic, and caused him to
gaily sing to himself as he went about at his work.  May I try to
explain this by a little homely experiment, which you yourself may also
perform?  See, here then I have a small disc of zinc, no larger than a
coat button, and I have also a shilling-piece.  I place the former on my
tongue, and the latter between my lower lip and gum, and lo! the moment
I permit the two metallic edges to touch I feel a tingling thrill, and
if my eyes be shut I perceive a flash as well.  It is electricity
passing through the bodily medium--my tongue.  The one coin becomes _en
rapport_, so to speak, with the other.  So in like manner was Archie's
soul within him _en rapport_ with all the light, the life, the love he
saw around him, his body being but the wholesome, healthy, solid medium.

_En rapport_ with the light.  Why, by day this was everywhere--in the
sky during its midday blue brightness; in the clouds so gorgeously
painted that lay over the hills at early morning, or over the wooded
horizon near eventide.  _En rapport_ with the light dancing and
shimmering in the pool down yonder; playing among the wild flowers that
grew everywhere in wanton luxuriance; flickering through the tree-tops,
despite the trailing creepers; gleaming through the tender greens of
fern fronds in cool places; sporting with the strange fantastic, but
brightly-coloured orchids; turning greys to white, and browns to bronze;
warming, wooing, beautifying all things--the light, the lovely light.
_En rapport_ with the life.  Ay, there it was.  Where was it not?  In
the air, where myriads of insects dance and buzz and sing and poise
hawk-like above flowers, as if inhaling their sweetness, or dart hither
and thither in their zigzag course, and almost with the speed of
lightning; where monster beetles go droning lazily round, as if
uncertain where to alight; where moths, like painted fans, hover in the
sunshine, or fold their wings and go to sleep on flower-tops.  In the
forests, where birds, like animated blossoms, living chips of dazzling
colours, hop from boughs, climb stems, run along silvery bark on trees,
hopping, jumping, tapping, talking, chattering, screaming, with bills
that move and throats that heave even when their voices cannot be heard
in the feathered babel.  Life on the ground, where thousands of busy
beetles creep, or play hide-and-seek among the stems of tall grass, and
where ants innumerable go in search of what they somehow never seem to
find.  Life on the water slowly sailing round, or in and out among the
reeds, in the form of bonnie velvet ducks and pretty spangled teal.
Life in the water, where shoals of fish dart hither and thither, or rest
for a moment in shallows to bask in the sun, their bodies all a-quiver
with enjoyment.  Life in the sky itself, high up.  Behold that splendid
flock of wonga-wonga pigeons, with bronzen wings, that seem to shake the
sunshine off them in showers of silver and gold, or, lower down, that
mob of snowy-breasted cockatoos, going somewhere to do something, no
doubt, and making a dreadful din about it, but quite a sight, if only
from the glints of lily and rose that appear in the white of their
outstretched wings and tails.  Life everywhere.

_En rapport_ with all the love around him.  Yes, for it is spring here,
though the autumn tints are on the trees in groves and woods at Burley.
Deep down in the forest yonder, if you could penetrate without your
clothes being torn from your back, you might listen to the soft murmur
of the doves that stand by their nests in the green gloom of fig trees;
you would linger long to note the love passages taking place among the
cosy wee, bright, and bonnie parrakeets; you would observe the hawk
flying silently, sullenly, home to his castle in the inaccessible
heights of the gum trees, but you would go quickly past the forest dens
of lively cockatoos.  For everywhere it is spring with birds and beasts.
They have dressed in their gayest; they have assumed their fondest
notes and cries; they live and breathe and buzz in an atmosphere of
happiness and love.

Well, it was spring with Nature, and it was spring in Archie's heart.

Work was a pleasure to him.

That last sentence really deserves a line to itself.  Without the ghost
of an intention to moralise, I must be permitted to say, that the youth
who finds an undoubted pleasure in working is sure to get on in
Australia.  There is that in the clear, pure, dry air of the back Bush
which renders inactivity an impossibility to anyone except
ne'er-do-wells and born idiots.  This is putting it strongly, but it is
also putting it truthfully.

Archie felt he had done with Sydney, for a time at all events, when he
left.  He was not sorry to shake the dust of the city from his
half-wellingtons as he embarked on the _Canny Scotia_, bound for
Brisbane.

If the Winslows had not been among the passengers he certainly would
have given vent to a sigh or two.

All for the sake of sweet little Etheldene?  Yes, for her sake.  Was she
not going to be Rupert's wife, and his own second sister?  Oh, he had it
all nicely arranged, all cut and dry, I can assure you!

Here is a funny thing, but it is also a fact.  The very day that the
_Canny Scotia_ was to sail, Archie took Harry with him, and the two
started through the city, and bore up for the shop of Mr Glorie.

They entered.  It was like entering a gloomy vault.  Nothing was
altered.  There stood the rows on rows of dusty bottles, with their
dingy gilt labels; the dusty mahogany drawers; the morsel of railinged
desk with its curtain of dirty red; there were the murky windows with
their bottles of crusted yellows and reds; and up there the identical
spider still working away at his dismal web, still living in hopes
apparently of some day being able to catch a fly.

The melancholy-looking new apprentice, who had doubtless paid the new
premium, a long lantern-jawed lad with great eyes in hollow sockets, and
a blue-grey face, stood looking at the pair of them.

"Where is your master, Mr--?"

"Mr Myers, sir.  Myers is my name."

"Where is Mr Glorie, Mr Myers?"

"D'ye wish to see'm, sir?"

"Don't it seem like it?" cried Harry, who for the life of him "could not
help putting his oar in."

"Master's at the back, among--the soap."

He droned out the last words in such a lugubrious tone that Archie felt
sorry for him.

Just then, thinking perhaps he scented a customer, Mr Glorie himself
entered, all apron from the jaws to the knees.

"Ah!  Mr Glorie," cried Archie.  "I really couldn't leave Sydney
without saying ta-ta, and expressing my sorrow for breaking--"

"Your indenture, young sir?"

"No; I'm glad I broke that.  I mean the oil-jar.  Here is a sovereign
towards it, and I hope there's no bad feeling."

"Oh, no, not in the least, and thank you, sir, kindly!"

"Well, good-bye.  Good-bye Mr Myers.  If ever I return from the Bush
I'll come back and see you."

And away they went, and away went Archie's feeling of gloom as soon as
he got to the sunny side of the street.

"I say," said Harry, "that's a lively coon behind the counter.  Looks to
me like a love-sick bandicoot, or a consumptive kangaroo.  But don't you
know there is such a thing as being too honest?  Now that old
death-and-glory chap robbed you, and had it been me, and I'd called
again, it would have been to kick him.  But you're still the old
Johnnie."

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Now if I were writing all this tale from imagination, instead of
sketching the life and struggles of a real live laddie, I should have
ascended into the realms of romance, and made a kind of hero of him
thus: he should have gone straight away to the bank when he received
that 50 pounds from his uncle, and sent it back, and then gone off to
the bush with twopence halfpenny in his pocket, engaged himself to a
squatter as under-man, and worked his way right up to the pinnacle of
fortune.

But Archie had not done that; and between you and me and the binnacle,
not to let it go any further, I think he did an extremely sensible thing
in sticking to the money.

Oh, but plenty of young men who do not have uncles to send them
fifty-pound notes to help them over their first failures, do very well
without such assistance!  So let no intending emigrant be disheartened.

Again, as to Winslow's wild way of borrowing said 50 pounds, and
changing it into 300 pounds, that was another "fluke," and a sort of
thing that might never happen again in a hundred years.

Pride did come in again, however, with a jump--with a gay Northumbrian
bound--when Bob and Harry seriously proposed that Johnnie, as the latter
still called him, should put his money in the pool, and share and share
alike with them.

"No, no, no," said the young Squire, "don't rile me; that would be so
obviously unfair to _you_, that it would be unfair to _myself_."

When asked to explain this seeming paradox, he added:

"Because it would rob me of my feeling of independence."

So the matter ended.

But through the long-headed kindness and business tact of Winslow, all
three succeeded in getting farms that adjoined, though Archie's was but
a patch compared to the united great farms of his chums, that stretched
to a goodly two thousand acres and more, with land beyond to take up as
pasture.

But then there was stock to buy, and tools, and all kinds of things, to
say nothing of men's and boys' wages to be paid, and arms and ammunition
to help to fill the larder.

At this time the railway did not go sweeping away so far west as it does
now, the colony being very much younger, and considerably rougher; and
the farms lay on the edge of the Darling Downs.

This was a great advantage, as it gave them the run of the markets
without having to pay nearly as much in transit and freight as the stock
was worth.

They had another advantage in their selection--thanks once more to
Winslow--they had Bush still farther to the west of them.  Not adjacent,
to be sure, but near enough to make a shift of stock to grass lands,
that could be had for an old song, as the saying is.

The selection was procured under better conditions than I believe it is
to be had to-day; for the rent was only about ninepence an acre, and
that for twenty years, the whole payable at any time in order to obtain
complete possession.

[At present agricultural farms may be selected of not more than 1280
acres, and the rent is fixed by the Land Board, not being less than
threepence per acre per annum.  A licence is issued to the selector, who
must, within five years, fence in the land or make permanent
improvements of a value equal to the cost of the fence, and must also
live on the selection.  If at the end of that time he can prove that he
has performed the above conditions, he will be entitled to a
transferable lease for fifty years.  The rent for the first ten years
will be the amount as at first fixed, and the rent for every subsequent
period of five years will be determined by the Land Board, but the
greatest increase that can be made at any re-assessment is fifty per
cent.]

It must not be imagined that this new home of theirs was a land flowing
with milk and honey, or that they had nothing earthly to do but till the
ground, sow seed, and live happy ever after.  Indeed the work to be
performed was all earthly, and the milk and honey had all to come.

A deal of the very best land in Australia is covered with woods and
forests, and clearing has to be done.

Bob wished his busy little body of a wife to stay behind in Brisbane
till he had some kind of a decent crib, as he called it, ready to invite
her to.

But Sarah said, "No!  Where you go I go.  Your crib shall be my crib,
Bob, and I shall bake the damper."  This was not very poetical language,
but there was a good deal of sound sense about Sarah, even if there was
but little poetry.

Well, it did seem at first a disheartening kind of wilderness they had
come to, but the site for the homesteads had been previously selected,
and after a night's rest in their rude tents and waggons, work was
commenced.  Right joyfully too,--

"Down with them!  Down with the lords of the forests."

This was the song of our pioneers.  Men shouted and talked, and laughed
and joked, saws rasped and axes rang, and all the while duty went
merrily on.  Birds find beasts, never disturbed before in the solitude
of their homes, except by wandering blacks, crowded round--only keeping
a safe distance away--and wondered whatever the matter could be.  The
musical magpies, or laughing jackasses, said they would soon settle the
business; they would frighten those new chums out of their wits, and out
of the woods.  So they started to do it.  They laughed in such loud,
discordant, daft tones that at times Archie was obliged to put his
fingers in his ears, and guns had to be fired to stop the row.  So they
were not successful.  The cockatoos tried the same game; they cackled
and skraighed like a million mad hens, and rustled and ruffled their
plumage, and flapped their wings and flew, but all to no purpose--the
work went on.

The beautiful lorries, parrakeets, and budgerigars took little notice of
the intruders, but went farther away, deserting half-built nests to
build new ones.  The bonnie little long-tailed opossum peeped down from
his perch on the gums, looking exceedingly wise, and told his wife that
not in all his experience had there been such goings on in the forest
lands, and that something was sure to follow it; his wife might mark his
words for that.  The wonga-wongas grumbled dreadfully; but great hawks
flew high in the air, swooping round and round against the sun, as they
have a habit of doing, and now and then gave vent to a shrill cry which
was more of exultation than anything else.  "There will be dead bones to
pick before long."  That is what the hawks thought.  Snakes now and then
got angrily up, puffed and blew a bit, but immediately decamped into the
denser cover.

The dingoes kept their minds to themselves until night fell, and the
stars came out; the constellation called the Southern Cross spangled the
heaven's dark blue, then the dingoes lifted up their voices and wept;
and, oh, such weeping!  Whoso has never heard a concert of Australian
wild dogs can have no conception of the noise these animals are capable
of.  Whoso has once heard it, and gone to sleep towards the end of it,
will never afterwards complain of the harmless musical reunions of our
London cats.

But sleep is often impossible.  You have got just to lie in bed and
wonder what in the name of mystery they do it for.  They seem to quarrel
over the key-note, and lose it, and try for it, and get it again, and
again go off into a chorus that would "ding doon" Tantallan Castle.  And
when you do doze off at last, as likely as not, you will dream of
howling winds and hungry wolves till it is grey daylight in the morning.

CHAPTER NINETEEN.

BURLEY NEW FARM.

There was so much to be done before things could be got "straight" on
the new station, that the days and weeks flew by at a wonderful pace.  I
pity the man or boy who is reduced to the expedient of killing time.
Why if one is only pleasantly and usefully occupied, or engaged in
interesting pursuits, time kills itself, and we wonder where it has gone
to.

If I were to enter into a minute description of the setting-up of the
stock and agricultural farm, chapter after chapter would have to be
written, and still I should not have finished.  I do not think it would
be unprofitable reading either, nor such as one would feel inclined to
skip.  But as there are a deal of different ways of building and
furnishing new places the plan adopted by the three friends might not be
considered the best after all.  Besides, improvements are taking place
every day even in Bush-life.  However, in the free-and-easy life one
leads in the Bush one soon learns to feel quite independent of the finer
arts of the upholsterer.

In that last sentence I have used the adjective "easy;" but please to
observe it is adjoined to another hyphenically, and becomes one with
it--"free-and-easy."  There is really very little ease in the Bush.  Nor
does a man want it or care for it--he goes there to work.  Loafers had
best keep to cities and to city life, and look for their _little_
enjoyments in parks and gardens by day, in smoke-filled billiard-rooms
or glaringly-lighted music-halls by night, go to bed at midnight, and
make a late breakfast on rusks and soda-water.  We citizens of the woods
and wilds do not envy them.  We go to bed with the birds, or soon after.
We go to sleep, no matter how hard our couches may be; and we do sleep
too, and wake with clear heads and clean tongues, and after breakfast
feel that nothing in the world will be a comfort to us but work.  Yes,
men work in the Bush; and, strange to say, though they go there young,
they do not appear to grow quickly old.  Grey hairs may come, and Nature
may do a bit of etching on their brows and around their eyes with the
pencil of time, but this does not make an atom of difference to their
brains and hearts.  These get a trifle tougher, that is all, but no
older.

Well, of the three friends I think Archie made the best Bushman, though
Bob came next, then Harry, who really had developed his powers of mind
and body wonderfully, which only just proves that there is nothing after
all, even for a Cockney, like rubbing shoulders against a rough world.

A dozen times a week at least Archie mentally thanked his father for
having taught him to work at home, and for the training he had received
in riding to hounds, in tramping over the fields and moors with Branson,
in gaining practical knowledge at the barn-yards, and last, though not
least, in the good, honest, useful groundwork of education received from
his tutor Walton.

There was something else that Archie never failed to feel thankful to
heaven for, and that was the education his mother had given him.

Remember this: Archie was but a rough, harum-scarum kind of a British
boy at best, and religious teaching might have fallen on his soul as
water falls on a duck's back, to use a homely phrase.  But as a boy he
had lived in an atmosphere of refinement.  He constantly breathed it
till he became imbued with it; and he received the influence also
second-hand, or by reflection, from his brother Rupert and his sister.

Often and often in the Bush, around the log fire of an evening, did
Archie speak proudly of that beloved twain to his companions.  His
language really had, at times, a smack of real, downright innocence
about it, as when he said to Bob once: "Mind you, Bob, I never was what
you might call good.  I said, and do say, my prayers, and all the like
of that; but Roup and Elsie were so high above me that, after coming in
from a day's work or a day on the hill, it used to be like going into
church on a week-day to enter the green parlour.  I felt my own mental
weakness, and I tried to put off my soul's roughness with my dirty boots
in the kitchen."

But Archie was now an excellent superintendent of work.  He knew when
things were being well done, and he determined they should be.  Nothing
riled him more than an attempt on the part of any of the men to take
advantage of him.

They soon came to know him; not as a tyrant, but simply as one who would
have things rightly done, and who knew when they _were_ being rightly
done, even if it were only so apparently simple a matter as planting a
fence-post; for there is a right way and a wrong way of doing that.

The men spoke of him as the young Boss.  Harry being ignored in all
matters that required field-knowledge.

"We don't want nary a plumbline," said a man once, "when the young
Boss's around.  He carries a plumbline in his eye."

Archie never let any man know when he was angry; but they knew
afterwards, however, that he had been so from the consequences.  Yet
with all his strictness he was kind-hearted, and very just.  He had the
happy gift of being able to put himself in the servant's place while
judging betwixt man and master.

Communications were constantly kept up between the station and the
railway, by means of waggons, or drays and saddle-horses.  Among the
servants were several young blacks.  These were useful in many ways, and
faithful enough; but required keeping in their places.  To be in any way
familiar with them was to lose their respect, and they were not of much
consequence after that.  When completed, the homestead itself was
certainly not devoid of comfort, though everything was of the homeliest
construction; for no large amount of money was spent in getting it up.
A Scotchman would describe it as consisting of "twa butts and a ben,"
with a wing at the back.  The capital letter L, laid down longways
thus--I will give you some notion of its shape.  There were two doors in
front, and four windows, and a backdoor in the after wing, also having
windows.  The wing portion of the house contained the kitchen and
general sitting-room; the right hand portion the best rooms, ladies'
room included, but a door and passage communicated with these and the
kitchen.

This house was wholly built of sawn wood, but finished inside with lath
and plaster, and harled outside, so that when roofed over with those
slabs of wood, such as we see some old-English church steeples made of,
called "shingles," the building was almost picturesque.  All the more so
because it was built on high ground, and trees were left around and near
it.

The kitchen and wing were _par excellence_ the bachelor apartments, of
an evening at all events.

Every thing that was necessary in the way of furnishing found its way
into the homestead of Burley New Farm; but nothing else, with the
exception of that of the guests'-room.  Of this more anon.

The living-house was completed first; but all the time that this was
being built men were very busy on the clearings, and the sites were
mapped out for the large wool-shed, with huge adjoining yards, where the
sheep at shearing-time would be received and seen to.

There were also the whole paraphernalia and buildings constituting the
cattle and horse-yards, a killing and milking-yard; and behind these
were slab huts, roofed with huge pieces of bark, rudely but most
artistically fixed, for the men.

These last had fire-places, and though wholly built of wood, there was
no danger of fire, the chimneys being of stone.

Most of the yards and outhouses were separate from each other, and the
whole steading was built on elevated ground, the store-hut being not far
from the main or dwelling-house.

I hardly know what to liken the contents of this store, or the inside of
the place itself, to.  Not unlike perhaps the half-deck or fore-cabin of
a Greenland ship on the day when stores are being doled out to the men.
Or, to come nearer home, if ever the reader has been in a remote and
rough part of our own country, say Wales or Scotland, where gangs of
navvies have been encamped for a time, at a spot where a new line of
railway is being pushed through a gully or glen.

Just take a peep inside.  There is a short counter of the rudest
description, on which stand scales and weights, measures and knives.
Larger scales stand on the floor, and everywhere around you are heaps of
stores, of every useful kind you could possibly name or imagine, and
these are best divided into four classes--eatables, wearables, luxuries,
and tools.

Harry is at home here, and he has managed to infuse a kind of regularity
into the place, and takes a sort of pride in knowing where all his wares
are stored.  The various departments are kept separate.  Yonder, for
instance, stand the tea, coffee, and cocoa-nibs, and near them the sugar
of two kinds, the bags of flour, the cheeses (in boxes), the salt (in
casks), soda, soap, and last, but not least, the tobacco and spirits;
this last in a place by itself, and well out of harm's way.  Then there
is oil and candles--by-and-bye they will make these on the farm--
matches--and this brings us to the luxuries--mustard, pepper of various
sorts, vinegar, pickles, curry, potted salmon, and meats of many kinds,
and bags of rice.  Next there is a small store of medicines of the
simplest, not to say roughest, sorts, both for man and beast, and rough
bandages of flannel and cotton, with a bundle of splints.

Then comes clothing of all kinds--hats, shirts, jackets, boots, shoes,
etc.  Then tools and cooking utensils; and in a private cupboard, quite
away in a corner, the ammunition.

It is unnecessary to add that harness and horse-shoes found a place in
this store, or that a desk stood in one corner where account-books were
kept, for the men did not invariably pay down on the nail.

I think it said a good deal for Sarah's courage that she came right away
down into the Bush with her "little man," and took charge of the cooking
department on the station, when it was little, if any, better than
simply a camp, with waggons for bedrooms, and a morsel of canvas for
gentility's sake.

But please to pop your head inside the kitchen, now that the
dwelling-house has been up for some little time.  Before you reach the
door you will have to do a bit of stepping, for outside nothing is
tidied up as yet.  Heaps of chips, heaps of stones and sticks and
builders' rubbish, are everywhere.  Even when you get inside there is a
new smell--a limy odour--to greet you in the passage, but in the kitchen
itself all is order and neatness.  A huge dresser stands against the
wall just under the window.  The legs of it are a bit rough to be sure,
but nobody here is likely to be hypercritical; and when the dinner-hour
arrives, instead of the vegetables, meat, and odds-and-ends that now
stand thereon, plates, and even knives and forks, will be neatly placed
in a row, and Sarah herself, her cooking apron replaced by a neater and
nattier one, will take the head of the table, one of the boys will say a
shy kind of grace, and the meal will go merrily on.

On a shelf, slightly raised above the floor, stand rows of clean
saucepans, stewpans, and a big, family-looking business of a frying-pan;
and on the wall hang bright, shining dish-covers, and a couple of racks
and shelves laden with delf.

A good fire of logs burns on the low hearth, and there, among ashes
pulled on one side for the purpose, a genuine "damper" is baking, while
from a movable "sway" depends a chain and crook, on which latter hangs a
pot.  This contains corned beef--very well, call it _salt_ if you
please.  Anyhow, when Sarah lifts the lid to stick a fork into the
boiling mess an odour escapes and pervades the kitchen quite appetising
enough to make the teeth of a Bushman water, if he had done anything
like a morning's work.  There is another pot close by the fire, and in
this sweet potatoes are boiling.

It is a warm spring day, and the big window is open to admit the air,
else poor Sarah would be feeling rather uncomfortable.

What is "damper"?  It is simply a huge, thick cake or loaf, made from
extremely well-kneaded dough, and baked in the hot ashes of the hearth.
Like making good oat cakes, before a person can manufacture a "damper"
properly, he must be in a measure to the manner born.  There is a deal
in the mixing of the dough, and much in the method of firing, and, after
all, some people do not care for the article at all, most useful and
handy and even edible though it be.  But I daresay there are individuals
to be found in the world who would turn up their noses at good oat cake.
Ah, well, it is really surprising what the air of the Australian Bush
does in the way of increasing one's appetite and destroying
fastidiousness.

But it is near the dinner-hour, and right nimbly Sarah serves it up; and
she has just time to lave her face and hands, and change her apron, when
in comes Bob, followed by Archie and Harry.  Before he sits down Bob
catches hold of Sarah by both hands, and looks admiringly into her face,
and ends by giving her rosy cheek a kiss, which resounds through the
kitchen rafters like the sound of a cattle-man's whip.

"I declare, Sarah lass," he says heartily, "you are getting prettier and
prettier every day.  Now at this very moment your lips and cheeks are as
red as peonies, and your eyes sparkle as brightly as a young kangaroo's;
and if any man a stone heavier than myself will make bold to say that I
did wrong to marry you on a week's courtship, I'll kick him over the
river and across the creek.  `For what we are about to receive, the Lord
make us truly thankful.  Amen.'  Sit in, boys, and fire away.  This beef
is delightful.  I like to see the red juice following the knife; and the
sweet potatoes taste well, if they don't look pretty.  What, Sarah, too
much done?  Not a bit o' them."

------------------------------------------------------------------------

The creek that Bob talked about kicking somebody across was a kind of
strath or glen not very far from the steading, and lying below it, green
and luxuriant at present.  It wound away up and down the country for
miles, and in the centre of it was a stream or river or burn, well
clothed on its banks with bush, and opening out here and there into
little lakes or pools.  This stream was--so old Bushmen said--never
known to run dry.

In the winter time it would at times well merit the name of river,
especially when after a storm a "spate" came down, with a bore perhaps
feet high, carrying along in its dreadful rush tree trunks, rocks,
pieces of bank--everything, in fact, that came in its way, or attempted
to withstand its giant power.  "Spates," however, our heroes hoped would
come but seldom; for it is sad to see the ruin they make, and to notice
afterwards the carcases of sheep and cattle, and even horses, that
bestrew the haughs, or banks, and give food to prowling dingoes and
birds of the air, especially the ubiquitous crow.

The ordinary state of the water, however, is best described by the word
stream or rivulet, while in droughty summers it might dwindle down to a
mere burn meandering from pool to pool.

The country all around was plain and forest and rolling hills.  It was
splendidly situated for grazing of a mixed kind.  But our three friends
were not to be content with this, and told off the best part of it for
future agricultural purposes.  Even this was to be but a nucleus, and at
this moment much of the land then untilled is yielding abundance of
grain.

Not until the place was well prepared for them were cattle bought and
brought home.  Sheep were not to be thought of for a year or two.

With the cattle, when they began to arrive, Winslow, who was soon to pay
the new settlement a visit, sent up a few really good stockmen.  And now
Archie was to see something of Bush-life in reality.

CHAPTER TWENTY.

RUNAWAY STOCK--BIVOUAC IN THE BUSH-NIGHT SCENE.

Australian cattle have one characteristic in common with some breeds of
pigeons, notably with those we call "homers."  They have extremely good
memories as to localities, and a habit of "making back," as it is
termed, to the pastures from which they have been driven.  This comes to
be very awkward at times, especially if a whole herd decamps or takes "a
moonlight flitting."

It would be mere digression to pause to enquire what God-given instinct
it is, that enables half-wild cattle to find their way back to their old
homes in as straight a line as possible, even when they have been driven
to a new station by circuitous routes.  Many other animals have this
same homing power; dogs for example, and, to a greater extent, cats.
Swallows and sea-birds, such as the Arctic gull, and the albatross,
possess it in a very high degree; but it is still more wonderfully
displayed in fur seals that, although dispersed to regions thousands and
thousands of miles away during winter, invariably and unerringly find
their road back to a tiny group of wave and wind-swept islands, four in
number, called the Prybilov group, in the midst of the fog-shrouded sea
of Behring.  The whole question wants a deal of thinking out, and life
is far too short to do it in.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

One morning, shortly after the arrival of the first great herd of stock,
word was brought to head-quarters that the cattle had escaped by
stampede, and were doubtless on their way to the distant station whence
they had been bought.

It was no time to ask the question, Who was in fault?  Early action was
necessary, and was provided for without a moment's hesitation.

I rather think that Archie was glad to have an opportunity of doing a
bit of rough riding, and showing off his skill in horse management.  He
owned what Bob termed a clipper.  Not a very handsome horse to look at,
perhaps, but fleet enough and strong enough for anything.  As
sure-footed as a mule was this steed, and as regards wisdom, a perfect
equine Solomon.

At a suggestion of Bob's he had been named Tell, in memory of the Tell
of other days.  Tell had been ridden by Archie for many weeks, so that
master and horse knew each other well.  Indeed Archie had received a
lesson or two from the animal that he was not likely to forget; for one
day he had so far forgotten himself as to dig the rowel into Tell's
sides, when there was really no occasion to do anything of the sort.
This was more than the horse could stand, and, though he was not an
out-and-out buck-jumper, nevertheless, a moment after the stirrup
performance, Archie found himself making a voyage of discovery, towards
the moon apparently.  He descended as quickly almost as he had gone up,
and took the ground on his shoulder and cheek, which latter was well
skinned.  Tell had stood quietly by looking at him, and as Archie patted
him kindly, he forgave him on the spot, and permitted a remount.

Archie and Bob hardly permitted themselves to swallow breakfast, so
anxious were they to join the stockmen and be off.

As there was no saying when they might return, they did not go
unprovided for a night or two out.  In front of their saddles were
strapped their opossum rugs, and they carried also a tin billy each, and
provisions, in the shape of tea, damper, and cooked corned beef; nothing
else, save a change of socks and their arms.

Bob bade his wife a hurried adieu, Archie waved his hand, and next
minute they were over the paddocks and through the clearings and the
woods, in which the trees had been ring-barked, to permit the grass to
grow.  And such tall grass Archie had never before seen as that which
grew in some parts of the open.

"Is it going to be a long job, think you, Bob?"

"I hardly know, Archie.  But Craig is here."

"Oh, yes, Gentleman Craig, as Mr Winslow insists on calling him!  You
have seen him."

"Yes; I met him at Brisbane.  And a handsome chap he is.  Looks like a
prince."

"Isn't it strange he doesn't rise from the ranks, as one might say; that
he doesn't get on?"

"I'll tell you what keeps him back," said Bob, reining his horse up to a
dead stop, that Archie might hear him all the easier.

"I'll tell you what keeps him back now, before you see him.  I mustn't
talk loud, for the very birds might go and tell the fellow, and he
doesn't like to be 'minded about it.  He drinks!"

"But he can't get drink in the Bush."

"Not so easily, though he has been known before now to ride thirty miles
to visit a hotel."

"A shanty, you mean."

"Well, they call 'em all hotels over here, you must remember."

"And would he just take a drink and come back?"

Bob laughed.

"Heaven help him, no.  It isn't one drink, nor ten, nor fifty he takes,
for he makes a week or two of it."

"I hope he won't take any such long rides while he is with us."

"No.  Winslow says we are sure of him for six months, anyhow.  Then
he'll go to town and knock his cheque down.  But come on, Craig and his
lads will be waiting for us."

At the most southerly and easterly end of the selection they met
Gentleman Craig himself.

He rode forward to meet them, lifting his broad hat, and reining up when
near enough.  He did this in a beautifully urbane fashion, that showed
he had quite as much respect for himself as for his employers.  He was
indeed a handsome fellow, and his rough Garibaldian costume fitted him,
and set him out as if he had been some great actor.

"This is an awkward business," he began, with an easy smile; "but I
think we'll soon catch the runaways up."

"I hope so," Bob said.

"Oh, it was all my fault, because I'm boss of my gang, you know.  I
ought to have known better, but a small mob of stray beasts got among
ours, and by-and-by there was a stampede.  It was dirty-dark last night,
and looked like a storm, so there wouldn't have been an ounce of use in
following them up."

He flicked his long whip half saucily, half angrily, as he spoke.

"Well, never mind," Bob replied, "we'll have better luck next, I've no
doubt."

Away they went now at a swinging trot, and on crossing the creek they
met Craig's fellows.

They laid their horses harder at it now, Bob and Archie keeping a bit in
the rear, though the latter declared that Tell was pulling like a young
steam-engine.

"Why," cried Archie at last, "this beast means to pull my arms out at
the shoulders.  I always thought I knew how to hold the reins till now."

"They have a queer way with them, those bush-ranging horses," said Bob;
"but I reckon you'll get up to them at last."

"If I were to give Tell his head, he would soon be in the van."

"In the van?  Oh, I see, in the front!"

"Yes; and then I'd be lost.  Why these chaps appear to know every inch
of the ground.  To me it is simply marvellous."

"Well, the trees are blazed."

"I've seen no blazed trees.  Have you?"

"Never a one.  I say, Craig."

"Hullo!" cried the head stockman, glancing over his shoulder.

"Are you steering by blazed trees?"

"No," he laughed; "by tracks.  Cattle don't mind blazed trees much."

Perhaps Bob felt green now, for he said no more.  Archie looked about
him, but never a trail nor track could he decipher.

Yet on they rode, helter-skelter apparently, but cautiously enough for
all that.  Tell was full of fire and fun; for, like Verdant Green's
horse, when put at a tiny tree trunk in his way, he took a leap that
would have carried him over a five-bar-gate.

There was many a storm-felled tree in the way also and many a dead
trunk, half buried in ferns; there were steep stone-clad hills,
difficult to climb, but worse to descend, and many a little rivulet to
cross; but nothing could interfere with the progress of these hardy
horses.

Although the sun was blazing hot, no one seemed to feel it much.  The
landscape was very wild, and very beautiful; but Archie got weary at
last of its very loveliness, and was not one whit sorry when the
afternoon halt was called under the pleasant shade of trees, and close
by the banks of a rippling stream.

The horses were glad to drink as well as the men, then they were
hobbled, and allowed to browse while all hands sat down to eat.

Only damper and beef, washed down by a billyful of the clear water,
which, strange to say, was wonderfully cool.

When the sun was sinking low on the forest-clad horizon, there was a
joyful but half-suppressed shout from Craig and his men.  Part of the
herd was in sight, quietly browsing up a creek.

Gentleman Craig pointed them out to Archie; but he had to gaze a
considerable time before he could really distinguish anything that had
the faintest resemblance to cattle.

"Your eye is young yet to the Bush," said Craig, laughing, but not in
any unmannerly way.

"And now," he continued, "we must go cautiously or we spoil all."

The horsemen made a wide detour, and got between the bush and the mob;
and the ground being favourable, here it was determined to camp for the
night.  The object of the stockmen was not to alarm the herd, but to
prevent them from getting any farther off till morning, when the march
homewards would commence.  With this intent, log fires were built here
and there around the herd; and once these were well alight the mob was
considered pretty safe.  All, however, had been done very quietly; and
during the livelong night, until grey dawn broke over the hills, the
fellows would have to keep those fires burning.

Supper was a more pleasing meal, for there was the addition of tea;
after which, with their feet to the log fire--Bob and Craig enjoying a
whiff of tobacco--they lay as much at their ease, and feeling every whit
as comfortable, as if at home by the "ingleside."  Gentleman Craig had
many stories and anecdotes to relate of the wild life he had had, that
both Archie and Bob listened to with delight.

"I'll take one more walk around," said Craig, "then stretch myself on my
downy bed.  Will you come with me, Mr Broadbent?"

"With pleasure," said Archie.

"Mind how you step then.  Keep your whip in your hand, but on no account
crack it.  We have to use our intellect _versus_ brute force.  If the
brute force became alarmed and combined, then our intellect would go to
the wall, there would be another stampede, and another long ride
to-morrow."

Up and down in the starlight, or by the fitful gleams of the log fires,
they could see the men moving like uneasy ghosts.  Craig spoke a word or
two kindly and quietly as he passed, and having made his inspection, and
satisfied himself that all was comparatively safe, he returned with
Archie to the fire.

Bob was already fast asleep, rolled snugly in his blanket, with his head
in the hollow of his upturned saddle; and Archie and Craig made speed to
follow his example.

As for Craig, he was soon in the land of Nod.  He was a true Bushman,
and could go off sound as a bell the moment he stretched himself on his
"downy bed," as he called it.

But Archie felt the situation far too new to permit of slumber all at
once.  He had never lain out thus before; and the experience was so
delightful to him that he felt justified in lying awake a bit, and
looking at the stars.  The distant dingoes began to howl, and more than
once some great dark bird flew over the camp, high overhead, but on
silent wings.

His thoughts wandered away over the thousands and thousands of miles
that intervened between him and home, and he began to wonder what they
were all doing at Burley; for it would be broad daylight there, and very
likely his father was trudging over the moors, or through the stubbles.
But dreams came and mingled with his waking thoughts at last, and were
just usurping them all when he became conscious of the approach of
stealthy footsteps.

He lay perfectly still, though his hand sought his ready revolver; for
stories of black fellows stealing on out-sleeping travellers began to
crowd through his mind, and being young to the Bush, he could not
prevent that heart of his from throbbing uneasily and painfully against
his ribs.

How did they brain people, he was wondering, with a boomerang or nullah?
or was it not more common to spear them?

But, greatly to his relief, the figure immediately afterwards revealed
itself in the person of one of the men, silently placing an armful of
wood on the half-dying embers.  Then he silently glided away again, and
next minute Archie was wrapt in the elysium of forgetfulness.

The dews lay all about, glittering in the first beams of the sun, when
he awoke, feeling somewhat cold and considerably stiff; but warm tea and
a breakfast of wondrous solidity soon put him all to rights again.

Two nights after this the new stock was safe in the yards; and every
evening before sundown, for many a day to come, they had to be "tailed,"
and brought within the strong bars of the rendezvous.

Branding was the next business.  This is no trifling matter with old
cattle.  With the calves indeed it is a bit troublesome at times, but
the grown-up ones resent the adding of insult to injury.  It is no
uncommon thing for men to be severely injured during the operation.
Nevertheless the agility displayed by the stockmen and their excessive
coolness is marvellous to behold.

Most of those cattle were branded with a "B.H.," which stood for Bob and
Harry; but some were marked with the letters "A.B.," for Archibald
Broadbent, and--I need not hide the truth--Archie was a proud young man
when he saw these marks.  He realised now fully that he had commenced
life in earnest, and was a squatter, not only in name, but in reality.

The fencing work and improvements still went gaily on, the ground being
divided into immense paddocks, many of which our young farmers trusted
to see ere long covered with waving grain.

The new herds soon got used to the country, and settled down on it,
dividing themselves quietly into herds of their own making, that were
found browsing together mornings and evenings in the best pastures, or
gathered in mobs during the fierce heat of the middle-day.

Archie quickly enough acquired the craft of a cunning and bold stockman,
and never seemed happier than when riding neck and neck with some
runaway semi-wild bull, or riding in the midst of a mob, selecting the
beast that was wanted.  And at a job like the latter Tell and he
appeared to be only one individual betwixt the two of them, like the
fabled Centaur.  He came to grief though once, while engaged heading a
bull in as ugly a bit of country as any stockman ever rode over.  It
happened.  Next chapter, please.

CHAPTER TWENTY ONE.

A WILD ADVENTURE--ARCHIE'S PRIDE RECEIVES A FALL.

It happened--I was going to say at the end of the other page--that in a
few weeks' time Mr Winslow paid his promised visit to Burley New Farm,
as the three friends called it.

Great preparations had been made beforehand because Etheldene was coming
with her father, and was accompanied by a black maid.  Both Etheldene
and her maid had been accommodated with a dray, and when Sarah, with her
cheeks like ripe cherries, and her eyes like sloes, showed the young
lady to her bedroom, Etheldene was pleased to express her delight in no
measured terms.  She had not expected anything like this.  Real
mattresses, with real curtains, a real sofa, and real lace round the
looking-glass.

"It is almost too good for Bush-life," said Etheldene; "but I am so
pleased, Mrs Cooper; and everything is as clean and tidy as my own
rooms in Sydney.  Father, do come and see all this, and thank Mrs
Cooper prettily."

Somewhat to Archie's astonishment a horse was led round next morning for
Etheldene, and she appeared in a pretty dark habit, and was helped into
the saddle, and gathered up the reins, and looked as calm and
self-possessed as a princess could have done.

It was Gentleman Craig who was the groom, and a gallant one he made.
For the life of him Archie could not help envying the man for his
excessive coolness, and would have given half of his cattle--those with
the bold "A.B.'s" on them--to have been only half as handsome.

Never mind.  Archie is soon mounted, and cantering away by the young
lady's side, and feeling so buoyant and happy all over that he would not
have exchanged places with a king on a throne.

"Oh, yes," said Etheldene, laughing, as she replied to a question of
Archie's, "I know nearly everything about cattle, and sheep too!  But,"
she added, "I'm sure you are clever among them already."

Archie felt the blood mount to his forehead; but he took off his broad
hat and bowed for the compliment, almost as prettily as Gentleman Craig
could have done himself.

Now, there is such a thing as being too clever, and it was trying to be
clever that led poor Archie to grief that day.

The young man was both proud and pleased to have an opportunity of
showing Etheldene round the settlement, all the more so that there was
to be a muster of the herds that day, and neighbour-squatters had come
on horseback to assist.  This was a kind of a love-darg which was very
common in Queensland a few years ago, and probably is to this day.

Archie pointed laughingly towards the stock whip Etheldene carried.  He
never for a moment imagined it was in the girl's power to use or manage
such an instrument.

"That is a pretty toy, Miss Winslow," he said.

"Toy, do you call it, sir?" said this young Diana, pouting prettily.
"It is only a lady's whip, for the thong is but ten feet long.  But
listen."

It flew from her hands as she spoke, and the sound made every animal
within hearing raise head and sniff the air.

"Well," said Archie, "I hope you won't run into any danger."

"Oh," she exclaimed, "danger is fun!"  And she laughed right merrily,
and looked as full of life and beauty as a bird in spring time.

Etheldene was tall and well-developed for her age, for girls in this
strange land very soon grow out of their childhood.

Archie had called her Diana in his own mind, and before the day was over
she certainly had given proof that she well merited the title.

New herds had arrived, and had for one purpose or another to be headed
into the stock yards.  This is a task of no little difficulty, and
to-day being warm these cattle appeared unusually fidgety.  Twos and
threes frequently stampeded from the mob, and went determinedly dashing
back towards the creek and forest, so there was plenty of opportunities
for anyone to show off his horsemanship.  Once during a chase like this
Archie was surprised to see Etheldene riding neck and neck for a time
with a furious bull.  He trembled for her safety as he dashed onwards to
her assistance.  But crack, crack, crack went the brave girl's whip; she
punished the runaway most unmercifully, and had succeeded in turning him
ere her Northumbrian cavalier rode up.  A moment more and the bull was
tearing back towards the herd he had left, a stockman or two following
close behind.

"I was frightened for you," said Archie.

"Pray, don't be so, Mr Broadbent.  I don't want to think myself a
child, and I should not like you to think me one.  Mind, I've been in
the Bush all my life."

But there was more and greater occasion to be frightened for Etheldene
ere the day was done.  In fact, she ran so madly into danger, that the
wonder is she escaped.  She had a gallant, soft-mouthed horse--that was
one thing to her advantage--and the girl had a gentle hand.

But Archie drew rein himself, and held his breath with fear, to see a
maddened animal, that she was pressing hard, turn wildly round and
charge back on horse and rider with all the fury imaginable.  A turn of
the wrist of the bridle hand, one slight jerk of the fingers, and
Etheldene's horse had turned on a pivot, we might almost say, and the
danger was over.

So on the whole, instead of Archie having had a very grand opportunity
for showing off his powers before this young Diana, it was rather the
other way.

The hunt ended satisfactory to both parties; and while Sarah was getting
an extra good dinner ready, Archie proposed a canter "to give them an
appetite."

"Have you got an appetite, Mr Broadbent?  I have."

It was evident Etheldene was not too fine a lady to deny the possession
of good health.

"Yes," said Archie; "to tell you the plain truth, I'm as hungry as a
hunter.  But it'll do the nags good to stretch their legs after so much
wheeling and swivelling."

So away they rode again, side by side, taking the blazed path towards
the plains.

"You are sure you can find your way back, I suppose?" said Etheldene.

"I think so."

"It would be good fun to be lost."

"Would you really like to be?"

"Oh, we would not be altogether, you know!  We would find our way to
some hut and eat damper, or to some grand hotel, I suppose, in the Bush,
and father and Craig would soon find us."

"Father and you have known Craig long?"

"Yes, many, many years.  Poor fellow, it is quite a pity for him.
Father says he was very clever at college, and is a Master of Arts of
Cambridge."

"Well, he has taken his hogs to a nice market."

"But father would do a deal for him if he could trust him.  He has told
father over and over again that plenty of people would trust him if he
could only trust himself."

"Poor man!  So nice-looking too!  They may well call him Gentleman
Craig."

"But is it not time we were returning?"

"Look! look!" she cried, before Archie could answer.  "Yonder is a
bull-fight.  Whom does the little herd belong to?"

"Not to us.  We are far beyond even our pastures.  We have cut away from
them.  This is a kind of no-man's land, where we go shooting at times;
and I daresay they are trespassers or wild cattle.  Pity they cannot be
tamed."

"They are of no use to anyone, I have heard father say, except to shoot.
If they be introduced into a herd of stock cattle, they teach all the
others mischief.  But see how they fight!  Is it not awful?"

"Yes.  Had we not better return?  I do not think your father would like
you to witness such sights as that."

The girl laughed lightly.

"Oh," she cried, "you don't half know father yet!  He trusts me
everywhere.  He is very, very good, though not so refined as some would
have him to be."

The cows of this herd stood quietly by chewing their cuds, under the
shade of a huge gum tree, while two red-eyed giant bulls struggled for
mastery in the open.

It was a curious fight, and a furious fight.  At the time Archie and his
companion came in sight of the conflict, they had closed, and were
fencing with their horns with as much skill, apparently, as any two men
armed with foils could have displayed.  The main points to be gained
appeared to be to unlock or get out of touch of each other's horns long
enough to stab in neck and shoulder, and during the time of being in
touch to force back and gain ground.  Once during this fight the younger
bull backed his opponent right to the top of a slight hill.  It was a
supreme effort, and evidently made in the hope that he would hurl him
from a height at the other side.  But in this he was disappointed; for
the top was level, and the older one, regaining strength, hurled his
enemy down the hill again far more quickly than he had come up.  Round
and round, and from side to side, the battle raged, till at long last
the courage and strength of one failed completely.  He suffered himself
to be backed, and it was evident was only waiting an opportunity to
escape uncut and unscathed.  This came at length, and he turned and,
with a cry of rage, dashed madly away to the forest.  The battle now
became a chase, and the whole herd, holloaing good luck to the victor,
joined in it.

As there was no more to be seen, Archie and Etheldene turned their
horses' heads homewards.

They had not ridden far, however, before the vanquished bull himself
hove in sight.  He was alone now, though still tearing off in a panic,
and moaning low and angrily to himself.

It was at this moment that what Archie considered a happy inspiration
took possession of our impulsive hero.

"Let us wait till he passes," he said, "and drive him before us to
camp."

Easily said.  But how was it to be done?

They drew back within the shadow of a tree, and the bull rushed past.
Then out pranced knight Archie, cracking his stock whip.

The monster paused, and wheeling round tore up the ground with his hoofs
in a perfect agony of anger.

"What next?" he seemed to say to himself.  "It is bad enough to be
beaten before the herd; but I will have my revenge now."

The brute's roaring now was like the sound of a gong, hollow and
ringing, but dreadful to listen to.

Archie met him boldly enough, intending to cut him in the face as he
dashed past.  In his excitement he dug his spurs into Tell, and next
minute he was on the ground.  The bull rushed by, but speedily wheeled,
and came tearing back, sure now of blood in which to dip his ugly hoofs.

Archie had scrambled up, and was near a tree when the infuriated beast
came down on the charge.  Even at this moment of supreme danger Archie--
he remembered this afterwards--could not help admiring the excessively
business-like way the animal came at him to break him up.  There was a
terrible earnestness and a terrible satisfaction in his face or eyes;
call it what you like, there it was.

Near as Archie was to the tree, to reach and get round it was
impossible.  He made a movement to get at his revolver; but it was too
late to draw and fire, so at once he threw himself flat on the ground.
The bull rushed over him, and came into collision with the tree trunk.
This confused him for a second or two, and Archie had time to regain his
feet.  He looked wildly about for his horse.  Tell was quietly looking
on; he seemed to be waiting for his young master.  But Archie never
would have reached the horse alive had not brave Etheldene's whip not
been flicked with painful force across the bull's eyes.  That blow saved
Archie, though the girl's horse was wounded on the flank.

A minute after both were galloping speedily across the plain, all danger
over; for the bull was still rooting around the tree, apparently
thinking that his tormentors had vanished through the earth.

"How best can I thank you?"  Archie was saying.

"By saying nothing about it," was Etheldene's answer.

"But you have saved my life, child."

"A mere bagatelle, as father says," said this saucy Queensland maiden,
with an arch look at her companion.  But Archie did not look arch as he
put the next question.

"Which do you mean is the bagatelle, Etheldene, my life, or the saving
of it?"

"Yes, you may call me Etheldene--father's friends do--but don't, please,
call me child again."

"I beg your pardon, Etheldene."

"It is granted, sir."

"But now you haven't answered my question."

"What was it?  I'm so stupid!"

"Which did you mean was the bagatelle--my life, or the saving of it?"

"Oh, both!"

"Thank you."

"I wish I could save Gentleman Craig's life," she added, looking
thoughtful and earnest all in a moment.

"Bother Gentleman Craig!" thought Archie; but he was not rude enough to
say so.

"Why?" he asked.

"Because he once saved mine.  That was when I was lost in the Bush, you
know.  He will tell you some day--I will ask him to.  He is very proud
though, and does not like to talk very much about himself."

Archie was silent for a short time.  Why, he was wondering to himself,
did it make him wretched--as it certainly had done--to have Etheldene
look upon his life and the saving of it as a mere bagatelle.  Why should
she not?  Still the thought was far from pleasant.  Perhaps, if he had
been killed outright, she would have ridden home and reported his death
in the freest and easiest manner, and the accident would not have
spoiled her dinner.  The girl could have no feeling; and yet he had
destined her, in his own mind, to be Rupert's wife.  She was unworthy of
so great an honour.  It should never happen if he could prevent it.
Suddenly it occurred to him to ask her what a bagatelle was.

"A bagatelle?" she replied.  "Oh, about a thousand pounds.  Father
always speaks of a thousand pounds as a mere bagatelle."

Archie laughed aloud--he could not help it; but Etheldene looked merrily
at him as she remarked quietly, "You wouldn't laugh if you knew what I
know."

"Indeed!  What is it?"

"We are both lost!"

"Goodness forbid!"

"You won't have grace to say to-day--there will be no dinner; that's
always the worst of being lost."

Archie looked around him.  There was not a blazed tree to be seen, and
he never remembered having been in the country before in which they now
rode.

"We cannot be far out," he said, "and I believe we are riding straight
for the creek."

"So do I, and that is one reason why we are both sure to be wrong.  It's
great fun, isn't it?"

"I don't think so.  We're in an ugly fix.  I really thought I was a
better Bushman than I am."

Poor Archie!  His pride had received quite a series of ugly falls since
morning, but this was the worst come last.  He felt a very crestfallen
cavalier indeed.

It did not tend to raise his spirits a bit to be told that if Gentleman
Craig were here, he would find the blazed-tree line in a very short
time.

But things took a more cheerful aspect when out from a clump of trees
rode a rough-looking stockman, mounted on a sackful of bones in the
shape of an aged white horse.

He stopped right in front of them.

"Hillo, younkers!  Whither away?  Can't be sundowners, sure-ly!"

"No," said Archie; "we are not sundowners.  We are riding straight home
to Burley New Farm."

"'Xcuse me for contradicting you flat, my boy.  It strikes me ye ain't
boss o' the sitivation.  Feel a kind o' bushed, don't ye?"

Archie was fain to confess it.

"Well, I know the tracks, and if ye stump it along o' me, ye won't have
to play at babes o' the wood to-night."

They did "stump it along o' him," and before very long found themselves
in the farm pasture lands.

They met Craig coming, tearing along on his big horse, and glad he was
to see them.

"Oh, Craig," cried Etheldene, "we've been having such fun, and been
bushed, and everything!"

"I found this 'ere young gent a-bolting with this 'ere young lady," said
their guide, whom Craig knew and addressed by the name of Hurricane
Bill.

"A runaway match, eh?  Now, who was in the fault?  But I think I know.
Let me give you a bit of advice, sir.  Never trust yourself far in the
Bush with Miss Ethie.  She doesn't mind a bit being lost, and I can't be
always after her.  Well, dinner is getting cold."

"Did you wait for us?" said Etheldene.

"Not quite unanimously, Miss Ethie.  It was like this: Mr Cooper and
Mr Harry waited for you, and your father waited for Mr Broadbent.  It
comes to the same thing in the end, you know."

"Yes," said Etheldene, "and it's funny."

"What did you come for, Bill?  Your horse looks a bit jaded."

"To invite you all to the hunt.  Findlayson's compliments, and all that
genteel nonsense; and come as many as can.  Why, the kangaroos, drat
'em, are eating us up.  What with them and the dingoes we've been having
fine times, I can tell ye!"

"Well, it seems to me, Bill, your master is always in trouble.  Last
year it was the blacks, the year before he was visited by bushrangers,
wasn't he?"

"Ye-es.  Fact is we're a bit too far north, and a little too much out
west, and so everything gets at us like."

"And when is the hunt?"

"Soon's we can gather."

"I'm going for one," said Etheldene.

"What _you_, Miss?" said Hurricane Bill.  "You're most too young, ain't
ye?"

The girl did not condescend to answer him.

"Come, sir, we'll ride on," she said to Archie.

And away they flew.

"Depend upon it, Bill, if she says she is going, go she will, and
there's an end of it."

"Humph!"  That was Bill's reply.  He always admitted he had "no great
fancy for womenfolks."

CHAPTER TWENTY TWO.

ROUND THE LOG FIRE--HURRICANE BILL AND THE TIGER-SNAKE--GENTLEMAN
CRAIG'S RESOLVE.

Kangaroo driving or hunting is one of the wild sports of Australia,
though I have heard it doubted whether there was any real sport in it.
It is extremely exciting, and never much more dangerous than a ride
after the hounds at home in a rough country.

It really does seem little short of murder, however, to surround the
animals and slay them wholesale; only, be it remembered, they are
extremely hard upon the herbage.  It has been said that a kangaroo will
eat as much as two sheep; whether this be true or not, these animals
must be kept down, or they will keep the squatter down.  Every other
species of wild animal disappears before man, but kangaroos appear to
imagine that human beings were sent into the bush to make two blades of
grass grow where only one grew before, and that both blades belong to
them.

The only people from Burley New Farm who went to the Findlayson kangaroo
drive were Harry, Archie, and Etheldene, and Craig to look after her.
Me.  Winslow stopped at home with Bob, to give him advice and suggest
improvements; for he well knew his daughter would be safe with Gentleman
Craig.

It was a long ride, however, and one night was to be spent in camp; but
as there was nothing to do, and nothing in the shape of cattle or sheep
to look after, it was rather jolly than otherwise.  They found a
delightful spot near a clear pool and close by the forest to make their
pitch on for the night.

Hurricane Bill was the active party on this occasion; he found wood with
the help of Harry, and enough of it to last till the morning.  The
beauty, or one of the beauties, of the climate in this part of Australia
is, that with the sun the thermometer sinks, and the later spring and
even summer nights are very pleasant indeed.

When supper was finished, and tea, that safest and best of stimulants,
had been discussed, talking became general; everybody was in good
spirits in the expectation of some fun on the morrow; for a longish ride
through the depth of that gloomy forest would bring them to the plain
and to Findlayson's in time for a second breakfast.

Hurricane Bill told many a strange story of Australian life, but all in
the way of conversation; for Bill was a shy kind of man, and wanted a
good deal of drawing-out, as the dog said about the badger.

Archie gave his experiences of hunting in England, and of shooting and
fishing and country adventure generally in that far-off land, and he had
no more earnest listener than Etheldene.  To her England was the land of
romance.  Young though she was, she had read the most of Walter Scott's
novels, and had an idea that England and Scotland were still peopled as
we find these countries described by the great wizard, and she did not
wish to be disillusioned.  The very mention of the word "castle," or
"ruin," or "coat of mail," brought fancies and pictures into her mind
that she would not have had blotted out on any account.

Over and over again, many a day and many a time, she had made Archie
describe to her every room in the old farm; and his turret chamber high
up above the tall-spreading elm trees, where the rooks built and cawed
in spring, and through which the wild winds of winter moaned and soughed
when the leaves had fallen, was to Etheldene a veritable room in
fairyland.

"Oh," she said to-night, "how I should love it all!  I do want to go to
England, and I'll make father take me just once before I die."

"Before ye die, miss!" said Hurricane Bill.  "Why it is funny to hear
the likes o' you, with all the world before ye, talkin' about dying."

Well, by-and-by London was mentioned, and then it was Harry's turn.  He
was by no means sorry to have something to say.

"Shall I describe to you, Miss Winslow," he said, "some of the wild
sights of Whitechapel?"

"Is it a dreadfully wild place, Mr Brown?"

"It is rather; eh, Johnnie?"

"I don't know much about it, Harry."

"Well, there are slums near by there, miss, that no man with a black
coat and an umbrella dare enter in daylight owing to the wild beasts.
Then there are peelers."

"What are peelers?  Monkeys?"

"Yes, miss; they are a sort of monkeys--blue monkeys--and carry sticks
same as the real African ourang-outangs do.  And can't they use them
too!"

"Are they very ugly?"

"Awful, and venomous too; and at night they have one eye that shines in
the dark like a wild cat's, and you've got to stand clear when that
eye's on you."

"Well," said Etheldene, "I wouldn't like to be lost in a place like
that.  I'd rather be bushed where I am.  But I think, Mr Brown, you are
laughing at me.  Are there any snakes in Whitechapel?"

"No, thank goodness; no, miss.  I can't stand snakes much."

"There was a pretty tiger crept past you just as I was talking though,"
she said with great coolness.

Harry jumped and shook himself.  Etheldene laughed.

"It is far enough away by this time," she remarked.  "I saw something
ripple past you, Harry, like a whip-thong.  I thought my eyes had made
it."

"You brought it along with the wood perhaps," said Craig quietly.

"'Pon my word," cried Harry, "you're a lot of Job's comforters, all of
you.  D'ye know I won't sleep one blessed wink to-night.  I'll fancy
every moment there is a snake in my blanket or under the saddle."

"They won't come near you, Mr Brown," said Craig.  "They keep as far
away from Englishmen as possible."

"Not always," said Bill.  "Maybe ye wouldn't believe it, but I was
bitten and well-nigh dead, and it was a tiger as done it.  And if I
ain't English, then there ain't an Englishman 'twixt 'ere and Melbourne.
See that, miss?"  He held up a hand in the firelight as he spoke.

"Why," said Etheldene, "you don't mean to say the snake bit off half
your little finger?"

"Not much I don't; but he bit me _on_ the finger, miss.  I was a
swagsman then, and was gathering wood, as we were to-night, when I got
nipped, and my chum tightened a morsel of string round it to keep the
poison away from the heart, then he laid the finger on a stone and
chopped it off with his spade.  Fact what I'm telling you.  But the
poison got in the blood somehow all the same.  They half carried me to
Irish Charlie's hotel.  Lucky, that wasn't far off.  Then they stuck the
whiskey into me."

"Did the whiskey kill the poison?" said Archie.

"Whiskey kill the poison!  Why, young sir, Charlie's whiskey would have
killed a kangaroo!  But nothing warmed me that night; my blood felt
frozen.  Well, sleep came at last, and, oh, the dreams!  'Twere worse
ten thousand times than being wi' Daniel in the den o' lions.  Next day
nobody hardly knew me; I was blue and wrinkled.  I had aged ten years in
a single night."

"I say," said Harry, "suppose we change the subject."

"And I say," said Craig, "suppose we make the beds."

He got up as he spoke, and began to busy himself in preparations for
Etheldene's couch.  It was easily and simply arranged, but the
arrangement nevertheless showed considerable forethought.

He disappeared for a few minutes, and returned laden with all the
necessary paraphernalia.  A seven-foot pole was fastened to a tree; the
other end supported by a forked stick, which he sharpened and drove into
the ground.  Some grass was spread beneath the pole, a blanket thrown
carefully over it, the upturned saddle put down for a pillow, and a tent
formed by throwing over the pole a loose piece of canvas that he had
taken from his saddle-bow, weighted down by some stones, and the whole
was complete.

"Now, Baby," said Craig, handing Etheldene a warm rug, "will you be
pleased to retire?"

"Where is my flat candlestick?" she answered.  Gentleman Craig pointed
to the Southern Cross.  "Yonder," he said.  "Is it not a lovely one?"

"It puts me in mind of old, old times," said Etheldene with a sigh.
"And you're calling me `Baby' too.  Do you remember, ever so long ago in
the Bush, when I was a baby in downright earnest, how you used to sing a
lullaby to me outside my wee tent?"

"If you go to bed, and don't speak any more, I may do so again."

"Good-night then.  Sound sleep to everybody.  What fun!"  Then Baby
disappeared.

Craig sat himself down near the tent, after replenishing the fire--he
was to keep the first watch, then Bill would come on duty--and at once
began to sing, or rather `croon' over, an old, old song.  His voice was
rich and sweet, and though he sang low it could be heard distinctly
enough by all, and it mingled almost mournfully with the soughing of the
wind through the tall trees.

"My song is rather a sorrowful ditty," he had half-whispered to Archie
before he began; "but it is poor Miss Ethie's favourite."  But long
before Craig had finished no one around the log fire was awake but
himself.

He looked to his rifle and revolvers, placed them handy in case of an
attack by blacks, then once more sat down, leaning his back against a
tree and giving way to thought.

Not over pleasant thoughts were those of Gentleman Craig's, as might
have been guessed from his frequent sighs as he gazed earnestly into the
fire.

What did he see in the fire?  _Tableaux_ of his past life?  Perhaps or
perhaps not.  At all events they could not have been very inspiriting
ones.  No one could have started in life with better prospects than he
had done; but he carried with him wherever he went his own fearful
enemy, something that would not leave him alone, but was ever, ever
urging him to drink.  Even as a student he had been what was called "a
jolly fellow," and his friendship was appreciated by scores who knew
him.  He loved to be considered the life and soul of a company.  It was
an honour dearer to him than anything else; but deeply, dearly had he
paid for it.

By this time he might have been honoured and respected in his own
country, for he was undoubtedly clever; but he had lost himself, and
lost all that made life dear--his beautiful, queenly mother.  He would
never see her more.  She was _dead_, yet the memory of the love she bore
him was still the one, the only ray of sunshine left in his soul.

And he had come out here to Australia determined to turn over a new
leaf.  Alas! he had not done so.

"Oh, what a fool I have been!" he said in his thoughts, clenching his
lists until the nails almost cut the palms.

He started up now and went wandering away towards the trees.  There was
nothing that could hurt him there.  He felt powerful enough to grapple
with a dozen blacks, but none were in his thoughts; and, indeed, none
were in the forest.

He could talk aloud now, as he walked rapidly up and down past the weird
grey trunks of the gum trees.

"My foolish pride has been my curse," he said bitterly.  "But should I
allow it to be so?  The thing lies in a nutshell I have never yet had
the courage to say, `I will not touch the hateful firewater, because I
cannot control myself if I do.'  If I take but one glass I arouse within
me the dormant fiend, and he takes possession of my soul, and rules all
my actions until sickness ends my carousal, and I am left weak as a
child in soul and body.  If I were not too proud to say those words to
my fellow-beings, if I were not afraid of being laughed at as a
_coward_!  Ah, that's it!  It is too hard to bear!  Shall I face it?
Shall I own myself a coward in this one thing?  I seem compelled to
answer myself, to answer my own soul.  Or is it my dead mother's spirit
speaking through my heart?  Oh, if I thought so I--I--"

Here the strong man broke down.  He knelt beside a tree trunk and sobbed
like a boy.  Then he prayed; and when he got up from his knees he was
calm.  He extended one hand towards the stars.

"Mother," he said, "by God's help I shall be free."

------------------------------------------------------------------------

When the morning broke pale and golden over the eastern hills, and the
laughing jackasses came round to smile terribly loud and terribly
chaffingly at the white men's preparation for their simple breakfast,
Craig moved about without a single trace of his last night's sorrow.  He
was busy looking after the horses when Etheldene came bounding towards
him with both hands extended, so frank and free and beautiful that as he
took hold of them he could not help saying:

"You look as fresh as a fern this morning, Baby."

"Not so green, Craig.  Say `Not so green.'"

"No, not so green.  But really to look at you brings a great big wave of
joy surging all over my heart.  But to descend from romance to
common-sense.  I hope you are hungry?  I have just been seeing to your
horse.  Where do you think I found him?"

"I couldn't guess."

"Why in the water down yonder.  Lying down and wallowing."

"The naughty horse!  Ah, here come the others!  Good morning all."

"We have been bathing," said Archie.  "Oh, how delicious!"

"Yes," said Harry; "Johnnie and I were bathing down under the trees, and
it really was a treat to see how quickly he came to bank when I told him
there was an alligator taking stock."

"We scared the ducks though.  Pity we didn't bring our guns and bag a
few."

"I believe we'll have a right good breakfast at Findlayson's," said
Craig; "so I propose we now have a mouthful of something and start."

The gloom of that deep forest became irksome at last; though some of its
trees were wondrous to behold in their stately straightness and
immensity of size, the trunks of others were bent and crooked into such
weird forms of contortion, that they positively looked uncanny.

Referring to these, Archie remarked to Craig, who was riding by his
side:

"Are they not grotesquely beautiful?"

Craig laughed lightly.

"Their grotesqueness is apparent anyhow," he replied.  "But would you
believe it, in this very forest I was a week mad?"

"Mad!"

"Yes; worse than mad--delirious.  Oh, I did not run about, I was too
feeble! but a black woman or girl found me, and built a kind of bark
gunja over me, for it rained part of the time and dripped the rest.  And
those trees with their bent and gnarled stems walked about me, and
gibbered and laughed, and pointed crooked fingers at me.  I can afford
to smile at it now, but it was very dreadful then; and the worst of it
was I had brought it all on myself."

Archie was silent.

"You know in what way?" added Craig.

"I have been told," Archie said, simply and sadly.

"For weeks, Mr Broadbent, after I was able to walk, I remained among
the blacks doing nothing, just wandering aimlessly from place to place;
but the woods and the trees looked no longer weird and awful to me then,
for I was in my right mind.  It was spring--nay, but early summer--and I
could feel and drink in all the gorgeous beauty of foliage, of tree
flowers and wild flowers, nodding palms and feathery ferns; but, oh!  I
left and went south again; I met once more the white man, and forgot all
the religion of Nature in which my soul had for a time been steeped.  So
that is all a kind of confession.  I feel the better for having made it.
We are all poor, weak mortals at the best; only I made a resolve last
night."

"You did?"

"Yes; and I am going to keep it.  I am going to have help."

"Help!"

"Yes, from Him who made those stately giants of the forest and changed
their stems to silvery white.  He can change all things."

"Amen!" said Archie solemnly.

CHAPTER TWENTY THREE.

AT FINDLAYSON'S FARM--THE GREAT KANGAROO HUNT--A DINNER AND CONCERT.

Gentleman Craig was certainly a strange mortal; but after all he was
only the type of a class of men to be found at most of our great
universities.  Admirable Crichtons in a small way, in the estimation of
their friends--bold, handsome, careless, and dashing, not to say
clever--they may go through the course with flying colours.  But too
often they strike the rocks of sin and sink, going out like the splendid
meteors of a November night, or sometimes--if they continue to float--
they are sent off to Australia, with the hopes of giving them one more
chance.  Alas! they seldom get farther than the cities.  It is only the
very best and boldest of them that reach the Bush, and there you may
find them building fences or shearing sheep.  If any kind of labour at
all is going to make men of them, it is this.

Two minutes after Craig had been talking to Archie, the sweet, clear,
ringing notes of his manly voice were awaking echoes far a-down the dark
forest.

Parrots and parrakeets, of lovely plumage, fluttered nearer, holding low
their wise, old-fashioned heads to look and listen.  Lyre-birds hopped
out from under green fern-bushes, raising their tails and glancing at
their figures in the clear pool.  They listened too, and ran back to
where their nests were to tell their wives men-people were passing
through the forest singing; but that they, the cock lyre-birds, could
sing infinitely better if they tried.

On and on and on went the cavalcade, till sylvan beauty itself began to
pall at last, and no one was a bit sorry when all at once the forest
ended, and they were out on a plain, out in the scrub, with, away
beyond, gently-rising hills, on which trees were scattered.

The bleating of sheep now made them forget all about the gloom of the
forest.  They passed one or two rude huts, and then saw a bigger smoke
in the distance, which Bill told Archie was Findlayson's.

Findlayson came out to meet them.  A Scot every inch of him, you could
tell that at a glance.  A Scot from the soles of his rough shoes to the
rim of his hat; brown as to beard and hands, and with a good-natured
face the colour of a badly-burned brick.

He bade them welcome in a right hearty way, and helped "the lassie" to
dismount.

He had met "the lassie" before.

"But," he said, "I wadna hae kent ye; you were but a bit gilpie then.
Losh! but ye have grown.  Your father's weel, I suppose?  Ah, it'll be a
while afore anybody makes such a sudden haul at the diggin' o' gowd as
he did!  But come in.  It's goin' to be anither warm day, I fear.

"Breakfast is a' ready.  You'll have a thistle fu' o' whiskey first, you
men folks.  Rin butt the hoose, my dear, and see my sister.  Tell her to
boil the eggs, and lift the bacon and the roast ducks."

He brought out the bottle as he spoke.  Both Harry and Archie tasted to
please him.  But Craig went boldly into battle.

"I'm done with it, Findlayson," he said.  "It has been my ruin.  I'm
done.  I'm a weak fool."

"But a wee drap wadna hurt you, man.  Just to put the dust out o' your
wizzen."

Craig smiled.

"It is the wee draps," he replied, "that do the mischief."

"Well, I winna try to force you.  Here comes the gude wife wi' the
teapot."

"Bill," he continued, "as soon as you've satisfied the cravins o'
Nature, mount the grey colt, and ride down the Creek, and tell them the
new chums and I will be wi' them in half an hour."

And in little over that specified time they had all joined the hunt.

Black folks and "orra men," as Findlayson called them, were already
detouring around a wide track of country to beat up the kangaroos.

There were nearly a score of mounted men, but only one lady besides
Etheldene, a squatter's bold sister.

The dogs were a sight to look at.  They would have puzzled some
Englishmen what to make of them.  Partly greyhounds, but larger,
sturdier, and stronger, as if they had received at one time a cross of
mastiff.  They looked eminently fit, however, and were with difficulty
kept back.  Every now and then a distant shout was heard, and at such
times the hounds seemed burning to be off.

But soon the kangaroos themselves began to appear thick and fast.  They
came from one part or another in little groups, meeting and hopping
about in wonder and fright.  They seemed only looking for a means of
escape; and at times, as a few rushing from one direction met others,
they appeared to consult.  Many stood high up, as if on tiptoe, gazing
eagerly around, with a curious mixture of bewilderment and fright
displayed on their simple but gentle faces.

They got small time to think now, however, for men and dogs were on
them, and the flight and the murder commenced with a vengeance.  There
were black fellows there, who appeared to spring suddenly from the
earth, spear-armed, to deal terrible destruction right and left among
the innocent animals.  And black women too, who seemed to revel in the
bloody sight.  If the whites were excited and thirsty for carnage, those
aborigines were doubly so.

Meanwhile the men had dismounted, Archie and Harry among the rest, and
were firing away as quickly as possible.  There is one thing to be said
in favour of the gunners; they took good aim, and there was little
after-motion in the body of the kangaroo in which a bullet had found a
billet.

After all Archie was neither content with the sport, nor had it come up
as yet to his _beau ideal_ of adventure from all he had heard and read
of it.  The scene was altogether noisy, wild, and confusing.  The blacks
gloated in the bloodshed, and Archie did not love them any the more for
it.  It was the first time he had seen those fellows using their spears,
and he could guess from the way they handled or hurled them that they
would be pretty dangerous enemies to meet face to face in the plain or
scrub.

"Harry," he said after a time, "I'm getting tired of all this; let us go
to our horses."

"I'm tired too.  Hallo! where is the chick-a-biddy?"

"You mean Miss Winslow, Harry."

"Ay, Johnnie."

"I have not seen her for some time."

They soon found her though, near a bit of scrub, where their own horses
were tied.

She was sitting on her saddle, looking as steady and demure as an
equestrian statue.  The sunshine was so finding that they did not at
first notice her in the shade there until they were close upon her.

"What, Etheldene!" cried Archie; "we hardly expected you here."

"Where, then?"

"Following the hounds."

"What! into that mob?  No, that is not what I came for."

At that moment Craig rode up.

"So glad," he said, "to find you all here.  Mount, gentlemen.  Are you
ready, Baby?"

"Ready, yes, an hour ago, Craig."

They met horsemen and hounds not far away, and taking a bold detour over
a rough and broken country, at the edge of a wood, the hounds found a
"forester," or old man kangaroo.  The beast had a good start if he had
taken the best advantage of it; but he failed to do so.  He had
hesitated several times; but the run was a fine one.  A wilder, rougher,
more dangerous ride Archie had never taken.

The beast was at bay before very long, and his resistance to the death
was extraordinary.

They had many more rides before the day was over; and when they
re-assembled in farmer Findlayson's hospitable parlour, Archie was fain
for once to own himself not only tired, but "dead beat."

The dinner was what Harry called a splendid spread.  Old Findlayson had
been a gardener in his younger days in England, and his wife was a cook;
and one of the results of this amalgamation was, dinners or breakfasts
either, that had already made the Scotchman famous.

Here was soup that an epicure would not have despised, fish to tempt a
dying man, besides game of different kinds, pies, and last, if not
least, steak of kangaroo.

The soup itself was made from the tail of the kangaroo, and I know
nothing more wholesome and nourishing, though some may think it a little
strong.

While the white folks were having dinner indoors, the black fellows were
doing ample justice to theirs _al fresco_, only they had their own
_cuisine_ and _menu_, of which the least said the better.

"You're sure, Mr Craig, you winna tak' a wee drappie?"

If the honest squatter put this question once in the course of the
evening, he put it twenty times.

"No, really," said Craig at last; "I will not tak' a wee drappie.  I've
sworn off; I have, really.  Besides, your wife has made me some
delightful tea."

"Weel, man, tak' a wee drappie in your last cup.  It'll cheer ye up."

"Take down your fiddle, Findlayson, and play a rattling strathspey or
reel, that'll cheer me up more wholesomely than any amount of `wee
drappies.'"

"Come out o' doors then."

It was cool now out there in Findlayson's garden--it was a real garden
too.  His garden and his fiddle were Findlayson's two fads; and that he
was master of both, their present surroundings of fern and flower, and
delicious scent of wattle-blossom, and the charming strains that floated
from the corner where the squatter stood were proof enough.  The fiddle
in his hands talked and sang, now bold or merrily, now in sad and
wailing notes that brought tears to even Archie's eyes.  Then, at a
suggestion of Craig's, Etheldene's sweet young voice was raised in song,
and this was only the beginning of the concert.  Conversation filled up
the gaps, so that the evening passed away all too soon.

Just as Findlayson had concluded that plaintive and feeling air "Auld
Robin Gray," a little black girl came stealthily, silently up to
Etheldene, and placed a little creature like a rabbit in her lap,
uttering a few words of Bush-English, which seemed to Archie's ear
utterly devoid of sense.  Then the black girl ran; she went away to her
own camp to tell her people that the white folks were holding a
corroboree.

The gift was a motherless kangaroo, that at once commenced to make
itself at home by hiding its innocent head under Etheldene's arm.

The party soon after broke up for the night, and next day but one, early
in the morning, the return journey was commenced, and finished that
night; but the sun had gone down, and the moon was shining high and full
over the forest, before they once more reached the clearing.

CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR.

A NEW ARRIVAL.

Winslow made months of a stay in the Bush, and his services were of
great value to the young squatters.  The improvements he suggested were
many and various, and he was careful to see them carried out.

Dams were made, and huge reservoirs were dug; for, as Winslow said,
their trials were all before them, and a droughty season might mean
financial ruin to them.

"Nevertheless," he added one day, addressing Bob, "I feel sure of you;
and to prove this I don't mind knocking down a cheque or two to the tune
of a thou or three or five if you want them.

"I'll take bank interest," he added, "not a penny more."

Bob thanked him, and consulted the others that evening.  True, Archie's
aristocratic pride popped up every now and then, but it was kept well
under by the others.

"Besides, don't you see, Johnnie," said Harry, "this isn't a gift.
Winslow is a business man, and he knows well what he is about."

"And," added Bob, "the fencing isn't finished yet.  We have all those
workmen's mouths to fill, and the sooner the work is done the better."

"Then the sheep are to come in a year or so, and it all runs away with
money, Johnnie.  Our fortunes are to be made.  There is money on the
ground to be gathered up, and all that Winslow proposes is holding the
candle to us till we fill our pockets."

"It is very kind of him," said Archie, "but--"

"Well," said Bob, "I know where your `huts' will end if you are not
careful.  You will give offence to Mr Winslow, and he'll just turn on
his heel and never see us again."

"Do you think so?"

"Think so?  Yes, Archie, I'm sure of it.  A better-hearted man doesn't
live, rough and all as he is; and he has set his mind to doing the right
thing for us all for your sake, lad, and so I say, think twice before
you throw cold water over that big, warm heart of his."

"Well," said Archie, "when you put it in that light, I can see matters
clearly.  I wouldn't offend my good old Uncle Ramsay's friend for all
the world.  I'm sorry I ever appeared bluff with him.  So you can let
him do as he pleases."

And so Winslow did to a great extent.

Nor do I blame Bob and Harry for accepting his friendly assistance.
Better far to be beholden to a private individual, who is both earnest
and sincere, than to a money-lending company, who will charge double
interest, and make you feel that your soul is not your own.

Better still, I grant you, to wait and work and plod; but this life is
almost too short for much waiting, and after all, one half of the world
hangs on to the skirts of the other half, and that other half is all the
more evenly balanced in consequence.

I would not, however, have my young readers misunderstand me.  What I
maintain is this, that although a poor man cannot leave this country in
the expectation that anybody or any company will be found to advance the
needful to set him up in the business of a squatter, still, when he has
worked hard for a time, beginning at the lowermost ring of the ladder,
and saved enough to get a selection, and a few cattle and sheep, then,
if he needs assistance to heave ahead a bit, he will--if everything is
right and square--have no difficulty in finding it.

So things went cheerily on at Burley New Farm.  And at last Winslow and
Etheldene took their departure, promising to come again.

"So far, lads," said Winslow, as he mounted his horse, "there hasn't
been a hitch nowheres.  But mind keep two hands at the wheel."

Mr Winslow's grammar was not of the best, and his sentences generally
had a smack of the briny about them, which, however, did not detract
from their graphicness.

"Tip us your flippers, boys," he added, "and let us be off.  But I'm
just as happy as if I were a father to the lot of you."

Gentleman Craig shook hands with Mr Winslow.  He had already helped
Etheldene into her saddle.

Archie was standing by her, the bridle of his own nag Tell thrown
carelessly over his arm; for good-byes were being said quite a mile from
the farm.

"I'll count the days, Etheldene, till you come again," said Archie.
"The place will not seem the same without you."

Craig stood respectfully aside till Archie had bade her adieu, then,
with his broad hat down by his side, he advanced.  He took her hand and
kissed it.

"Good-bye, Baby," he said.

There were tears in Etheldene's eyes as she rode away.  Big Winslow took
off his hat, waved it over his head, and gave voice to a splendid
specimen of a British cheer, which, I daresay, relieved his feelings as
much as it startled the lories.  The "boys" were not slow in returning
that cheer.  Then away rode the Winslows, and presently the grey-stemmed
gum trees swallowed them up.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Two whole years passed by.  So quickly, too, because they had not been
idle years.  Quite the reverse of that, for every day brought its own
duties with it, and there was always something new to be thought about
or done.

One event had taken place which, in Bob's eyes, eclipsed all the
others--a little baby squatter saw the light of day.  But I should not
have used the word eclipsed.  Little "Putty-face," as Harry most
irreverently called her, did not eclipse anything; on the contrary,
everything grew brighter on her arrival, and she was hailed queen of the
station.  The news spread abroad like wildfire, and people came from far
and near to look at the wee thing, just as if a baby had never been born
in the Bush before.

Findlayson dug the child with his forefinger in the cheek, and nodded
and "a-goo-ed" to it, and it smiled back, and slobbered and grinned and
jumped.  Findlayson then declared it to be the wisest "wee vision o' a
thing the warld ever saw."  Sarah was delighted, so was the nurse--a
young sonsy Scotch lass brought to the station on purpose to attend to
baby.

"But," said Findlayson, "what about bapteezin' the blessed wee vision."

"Oh," said Bob, "I've thought of that!  Craig and I are going to
Brisbane with stock, and we'll import a parson."

It so happened that a young missionary was on his way to spread the glad
tidings among the blacks, and it did not need much coaxing on Bob's part
to get him to make a detour, and spend a week at Burley New Farm.  So
this was the imported parson.

But being in Brisbane, Bob thought he must import something else, which
showed what a mindful father he was.

He had a look round, and a glance in at all the shop windows in Queen
Street, finally he entered an emporium that took his fancy.

"Ahem!" said Bob.  "I want a few toys."

"Yes, sir.  About what age, sir?"

"The newest and best you have."

"I didn't refer to the age of the toys," said the urbane shopkeeper,
with the ghost of a smile in his eye.  "I should have said, Toys
suitable for what age?"

"For every age," replied Bob boldly.

The shopkeeper then took the liberty of remarking that his visitor must
surely be blessed with a quiverful.

"I've only the one little girl," said Bob.  "She fills the book as yet.
But, you see, we're far away in the Bush, and baby will grow out of
gum-rings and rattles, won't she, into dolls and dung-carts?  D'ye see?
D'ye understand?"

"Perfectly."

It ended in Bob importing not only the parson in a dray, but a box of
toys as big as a sea-chest, and only Bob himself could have told you all
that was in it.  That box would have stocked a toyshop itself and Harry
and Archie had the grandest of fun unpacking it, and both laughed till
they had to elevate their arms in the air to get the stitches out of
their sides.

The amusing part of it was that innocent Bob had bought such a lot of
each species.

A brown paper parcel, for example, was marked "1 gross: gum-rings."

"That was a job lot," said Bob, explaining.  "I got them at a reduction,
as the fellow said.  Besides, if she has one in each hand, and another
in her mouth, it will keep her out of mischief for a month or two to
begin with."

There was no mistake about it, baby was set up; for a time, at all
events.

Not only did visitors--rough and smooth, but mostly rough--come from
afar, but letters of congratulation also.  Winslow said in a letter that
Etheldene was dying to come and see "the vision," and so was he, though
not quite so bad.  "Only," he added, "as soon Eth is finished we'll both
run up.  Eth is going to Melbourne to be finished, and I think a year
will do the job."

"Whatever does he mean," said stalwart Bob, "by finishing Eth, and doing
the job?"

"Why, you great big brush turkey," said Sarah, "he means finishing her
edication, in coorse!"

"Oh, I see now!" said Bob.  "To be sure; quite right.  I say, Sarah,
we'll have to send `the vision' to a slap-up lady's school one of these
days, won't us?"

"Bob," replied Sarah severely, "tell that lazy black chap, Jumper, to
dig some potatoes."

"I'm off, Sarah!  I'm off!"

Both Harry and Archie had by this time become perfect in all a
squatter's art.

Both had grown hard and hardy, and I am not sure that Harry was not now
quite as bold a rider as Archie himself, albeit he was a Cockney born,
albeit he had had to rub himself after that first ride of his on
Scallowa, the "Eider Duck."

Well, then, both he and Archie were perfectly _au fait_ at cattle work
in all its branches, and only those who have lived _on_ and had some
interest _in_ farming have an idea what a vast amount of practical work
breeding cattle includes.  One has really to be Jack-of-all-trades, and
a veterinary surgeon into the bargain.  Moreover, if he be master, and
not merely foreman, there are books to be kept; so he must be a good
accountant, and a good caterer, and always have his weather eye lifting,
and keeping a long lookout for probable changes in the markets.

But things had prospered well at Burley New Station.  One chief reason
of this was that the seasons had been good, and that there was every
prospect that the colony of Queensland was to be one of the most
respected and favourite in the little island.

For most of his information on the management of sheep, Archie and his
companions were indebted to the head stockman, Gentleman Craig.  He had
indeed been a Godsend, and proved himself a blessing to the station.  It
is but fair to add that he had sacredly and sternly kept the vow he had
registered that night.

He did not deny that it had been difficult for him to do so; in fact he
often referred to his own weakness when talking to Archie, whose
education made him a great favourite and the constant companion of
Craig.

"But you don't feel any the worse for having completely changed your
habits, do you?" said Archie one day.

Craig's reply was a remarkable one, and one that should be borne in mind
by those teetotallers who look upon inebriety as simply a species of
moral aberration, and utterly ignore the physiology of the disease.

"To tell you the truth, Mr Broadbent, I am both better and worse.  I am
better physically; I am in harder, more robust, muscular health; I'm as
strong in the arms as a kicking kangaroo.  I eat well, I sleep fairly
well, and am fit in every way.  But I feel as if I had passed through
the vale of the shadow of death, and it had left some of its darkness on
and in my soul.  I feel as if the cure had mentally taken a deal out of
me; and when I meet, at Brisbane or other towns, men who offer me drink
I feel mean and downcast, because I have to refuse it, and because I
dared not even take it as food and medicine.  No one can give up habits
of life that have become second nature without mental injury, if not
bodily.  And I'm more and more convinced every month that intemperance
is a disease of periodicity, just like gout and rheumatism."

"You have cravings at certain times, then?"

"Yes; but that isn't the worst.  The worst is that periodically in my
dreams I have gone back to my old ways, and think I am living once again
in the fool's paradise of the inebriate; singing wild songs, drinking
recklessly, talking recklessly, and looking upon life as but a brief
unreality, and upon time as a thing only to be drowned in the wine-cup.
Yes, but when I awake from these pleasantly-dreadful dreams, I thank God
fervidly I have been but dreaming."

Archie sighed, and no more was said on the subject.

Letters came from home about once a month, but they came to Archie only.
Yet, though Bob had never a friend to write to him from Northumbria,
nor Harry one in Whitechapel, the advent of a packet from home gave
genuine joy to all hands.

Archie's letters from home were read first by Archie himself, away out
under the shade of a tree as likely as not.  Then they were read to his
chums, including Sarah and Diana.

Diana was the baby.

But they were not finished with even then.  No; for they were hauled out
and perused night after night for maybe a week, and then periodically
for perhaps another fortnight.  There was something new to talk about
found in them each time; something suggesting pleasant conversation.

Archie was often even amused at "his dear old dad's" remarks and advice.
He gave as many hints, and planned as many improvements, as though he
had been a settler all his life, and knew everything there was any need
to know about the soil and the climate.

He believed--i.e., the old Squire believed--that if he were only out
among them, he would show even the natives [white men born in the Bush]
a thing or two.

Yes, it was amusing; and after filling about ten or twelve
closely-written pages on suggested improvements, he was sure to finish
up somewhat as follows in the postscript:

"But after all, Archie, my dear boy, you must be very careful in all you
do.  Never go like a bull at a gate, lad.  Don't forget that I--even I--
was not altogether successful at Burley Old Farm."

"Bless that postscript," Archie would say; "mother comes in there."

"Does she now?"  Sarah would remark, looking interested.

"Ay, that she does.  You see father just writes all he likes first--
blows off steam as it were; and mother reads it, and quietly dictates a
postscript."

Then there were Elsie's letters and Rupert's, to say nothing of a note
from old Kate and a crumpled little enclosure from Branson.  Well, in
addition to letters, there was always a bundle of papers, every inch of
which was read--even the advertisements, and every paragraph of which
brought back to Archie and Bob memories of the dear old land they were
never likely to forget.

CHAPTER TWENTY FIVE.

THE STREAM OF LIFE FLOWS QUIETLY ON.

One day a grand gift arrived from England, being nothing less than a
couple of splendid Scotch collies and a pair of Skye terriers.  They had
borne the journey wonderfully well, and set about taking stock, and
settling themselves in their new home, at once.

Archie's pet kangaroo was an object of great curiosity to the Skyes at
first.  On the very second day of their arrival Bobie and Roup, as they
were called, marched up to the kangaroo, and thus addressed him:

"We have both come to the conclusion that you are something that
shouldn't be."

"Indeed!" said the kangaroo.

"Yes; so we're going to let the sawdust out of you."

"Take that then to begin with!" said Mr Kangaroo; and one of the dogs
was kicked clean and clear over a fern bush.

They drew off after that with their tails well down.  They thought they
had made a mistake somehow.  A rabbit that could kick like a young colt
was best left to his own devices.

The collies never attempted to attack the kangaroo; but when they saw
the droll creature hopping solemnly after Archie, one looked at the
other, and both seemed to laugh inwardly.

The collies were placed under the charge of Craig to be broken to use,
for both were young, and the Skyes became the vermin-killers.  They
worked in couple, and kept down the rats far more effectually than ever
the cats had done.  They used to put dingoes to the rout whenever or
wherever they saw them; and as sometimes both these game little animals
would return of a morning severely bitten about the face and ears, it
was evident enough they had gone in for sharp service during the night.

One curious thing about the Skyes was, that they killed snakes, and
always came dragging home with the loathsome things.  This was very
clever and very plucky; nevertheless, a tame laughing jackass that Harry
had in a huge cage was to them a pet aversion.  Perhaps the bird knew
that; for as soon as he saw them he used to give vent to a series of
wild, defiant "ha-ha-ha's" and "hee-hee-hee's" that would have laid a
ghost.

The improvements on that portion of Burley New Farm more immediately
adjoining the steading had gone merrily on, and in a year or two, after
fencing and clearing the land, a rough style of agriculture was
commenced.  The ploughs were not very first-class, and the horses were
oxen--if I may make an Irish bull.  They did the work slowly but well.
They had a notion that every now and then they ought to be allowed to go
to sleep for five minutes.  However, they were easily roused, and just
went on again in a dreamy kind of way.

The land did not require much coaxing to send up crops of splendid
wheat.  It was a new-born joy to Bob and Archie to ride along their
paddocks, and see the wind waving over the growing grain, making the
whole field look like an inland sea.

"What would your father say to a sight like that?" said Bob one morning
while the two were on their rounds.

"He would start subsoiling ploughs and improve it."

"I don't know about the improvement, Archie, but I've no doubt he would
try.  But new land needs little improving."

"Maybe no; but mind you, Bob, father is precious clever, though I don't
hold with all his ways.  He'd have steam-ploughs here, and steam-harrows
too.  He'd cut down the grain to the roots by steam-machines, or he'd
have steam-strippers."

"But you don't think we should go any faster?"

"Bob, I must confess I like to take big jumps myself.  I take after my
father in some things, but after my Scottish ancestors in others.  For
instance, I like to know what lies at the other side of the hedge before
I put my horse at it."

The first crops of wheat that were taken off the lands of Burley New
Farm were gathered without much straw.  It seemed a waste to burn the
latter; but the distance from the railway, and still more from a
market-town, made its destruction a necessity.

Nor was it altogether destruction either; for the ashes served as a
fertiliser for future crops.

As things got more settled down, and years flew by, the system of
working the whole station was greatly improved.  Bob and Harry had
become quite the home-farmers and agriculturists, while the cattle
partially, and the sheep almost wholly, became the care of Archie, with
Gentleman Craig as his first officer.

Craig certainly had a long head on his broad shoulders.  He did not
hesitate from the first to give his opinions as to the management of the
station.  One thing he assured the three friends of: namely, that the
sheep must be sent farther north and west if they were to do well.

"They want higher and dryer ground," he said; "but you may try them
here."

I think at this time neither Bob nor Archie knew there was anything more
deadly to be dreaded than foot-rot, which the constant attention of the
shepherds, and a due allowance of blue-stone, served out from Harry's
stores, kept well under.

They gained other and sadder experience before very long, however.

At first all went as merrily as marriage bells.  The first
sheep-shearing was a never-to-be-forgotten event in the life of our
Bushmen.

The season was October--a spring month in Australia--and the fleeces
were in fine form, albeit some were rather full of grass seed.  They
were mostly open, however, and everyone augured a good clip.

Sarah was very busy indoors superintending everything; for there was
extra cooking to be done now.  Wee Diana, who had developed into quite a
Bush child, though a pretty one, toddled about here, there, and
everywhere; the only wonder is--as an Irishman might say--that she did
not get killed three or four times a day.  Diana had long since abjured
gum-rings and rattles, and taken to hoops and whips.  One of the collie
dogs, and the pet kangaroo, were her constant companions.  As previously
stated, both collies had been sent to Craig to be trained; but as Bounce
had a difference of opinion with one of the shepherds, he concluded he
would make a change by the way of bettering himself, so he had taken
French leave and come home to the steading.  He would have been sent off
again, sure enough, if he had not--collie-like--enlisted Sarah herself
on his behalf.  This he had done by lying down beside little Diana on
the kitchen floor.  The two kissed each other and fell asleep.  Bounce's
position was assured after that.

Findlayson, who did not mean to commence operations among his own
fleeces for another month, paid a visit to Burley, and brought with him
a few spare hands.  Harry had plenty to do both out of doors and in his
stores; for many men were now about the place, and they must all eat and
smoke.

"As sure as a gun," said Findlayson the first morning, "that
Joukie-daidles o' yours 'ill get killed."

He said this just after about three hundred sheep had rushed the child,
and run over her.  It was the fault of the kangaroo on one hand, and the
collie, Bounce, on the other.  Findlayson had picked her off the ground,
out of a cloud of dust, very dirty, but smiling.

"What is to be done with her?" said Bob, scratching his head.

"Fauld her," said Findlayson.

"What does that mean?"

Findlayson showed him what "faulding" meant.  He speedily put up a
little enclosure on an eminence, from which Diana could see all without
the possibility of escaping.  So every day she, with her dog and the pet
kangaroo, to say nothing of a barrow-load of toys, including a huge
Noah's ark, found herself happy and out of harm's way.  Diana could be
seen at times leaning over the hurdle, and waving a hand exultingly in
the air, and it was presumed she was loudly cheering the men's
performance; but as to hearing anything, that seemed utterly out of the
question, with the baa-ing and maa-ing of the sheep.

When the work was in full blast it certainly was a strange sight, and
quite colonial.  Archie had been at sheep-shearings before at home among
the Cheviot Hills, but nothing to compare to this.

There was, first and foremost, the sheep to be brought up in batches or
flocks from the distant stations, men and dogs also having plenty to do
to keep them together, then the enclosing them near the washing-ground.
The dam in which the washing took place was luckily well filled, for
rain had fallen not long before.  Sheep-washing is hard work, as anyone
will testify who has tried his hand at it for even half a day.  Sheep
are sometimes exceedingly stupid, more particularly, I think, about a
time like this.  The whole business is objected to, and they appear
imbued with the idea that you mean to drown them, and put every obstacle
in your way a stubborn nature can invent.

The sheep, after being well scrubbed, were allowed a day to get dry and
soft and nice.  Then came the clipping.  Gentleman Craig was stationed
at a platform to count the fleeces and see them ready for pressing, and
Archie's work was cut out in seeing that the fellows at the clipping did
their duty properly.

It was a busy, steaming time, on the whole, for everybody, but merry
enough nevertheless.  There was "lashins" of eating and drinking.
Findlayson himself took charge of the grog, which was mostly rum, only
he had a small store of mountain dew for his own special consumption.

Harry was quite the Whitechapel tradesman all over, though you could not
have told whether the grocer or butcher most predominated in his
appearance.

The clipping went on with marvellous speed, a rivalry existing between
the hands apparently; but as they were paid by the number of fleeces,
there was evident desire on the part of several to sacrifice perfection
to rapidity.

When it was all over there was still a deal to be done in clearing up
and getting the whole station resettled, one part of the resettling, and
the chief too, being the re-establishing of the sheep on their pasturage
after marking them.

The wool was pressed into bales, and loaded on huge bullock-waggons,
which are in appearance something between an ordinary country wood-cart
and a brewer's dray.  The road to the distant station was indeed a rough
one, and at the slow rate travelled by the bullock teams the journey
would occupy days.

Craig himself was going with the last lot of these, and Archie had
started early and ridden on all alone to see to business in Brisbane.

He had only been twice at the town in the course of three years, so it
is no wonder that now he was impressed with the notion that the
well-dressed city folks must stare at him, to see if he had any hay-seed
in his hair.

Winslow was coming round by boat, and Etheldene as well; she had been at
home for some time on a holiday.

Why was it, I wonder, that Archie paid a visit to several outfitters'
shops in Brisbane, and made so many purchases?  He really was well
enough dressed when he entered the town; at all events, he had looked a
smart young farmer all over.  But when he left his bedroom on the
morning of Winslow's arrival, he had considerably more of the English
Squire than the Australian Squatter about his _tout ensemble_.  But he
really looked a handsome, happy, careless young fellow, and that bit of
a sprouting moustache showed off his good looks to perfection.  He could
not help feeling it sometimes as he sat reading a paper in the hotel
hall, and waiting for his friends, and was fool enough to wonder if
Etheldene would think him improved in appearance.

But Archie was neither "masher" nor dandy at heart.  He was simply a
young man, and I would not value any young man who did not take pains
with his personal appearance, even at the risk of being thought proud.

Archie had not long to wait for Winslow.  He burst in like a fresh
sea-breeze--hale, hearty, and bonnie.  He was also a trifle better
dressed than usual.  But who was that young lady close by his left hand?
That couldn't be--yes, it was Etheldene, and next moment Archie was
grasping a hand of each.

Etheldene's beauty had matured; she had been but a girl, a child, when
Archie had met her before.  Now she was a bewitching young lady, modest
and lovely, but, on the whole, so self-possessed that if our hero had
harboured any desire to appear before her at his very best, and keep up
the good impression by every means in his power, he had the good sense
to give it up and remain his own natural honest self.

But he could not help saying to himself, "What a wife she will make for
Rupert!  And how Elsie will love and adore her!  And I--yes, I will be
content to remain the big bachelor brother."

There was such a deal to ask of each other, such a deal to do and to
say, that days flew by before they knew where they were, as Winslow
expressed it.

On the fifth day Gentleman Craig arrived to give an account of his
stewardship.

Etheldene almost bounded towards him.

But she looked a little shy at his stare of astonishment as he took her
gloved hand.

"Baby," he exclaimed, "I would hardly have known you!  How you have
improved!"

Then the conversation became general.

When accounts were squared, it was discovered that, by the spring wool,
and last year's crops and bullocks, the young squatters had done
wonderfully well, and were really on a fair way to wealth.

"Now, Archie Broadbent," said Winslow that night, "I am going to put you
on to a good thing or two.  You are a gentleman, and have a gentleman's
education.  You have brains, and can do a bit of speculation; and it is
just here where brains come in."

Winslow then unfolded his proposals, which were of such an inviting kind
that Archie at once saw his way to benefit by them.  He thanked Winslow
over and over again for all he had done for him, and merely stipulated
that in this case he should be allowed to share his plans with Bob and
Harry.

To this, of course, Winslow made no objection.

"As to thanking me for having given ye a tip or two," said Winslow,
"don't flatter yourself it is for your sake.  It is all to the memory of
the days I spent as steward at sea with your good old uncle.  Did you
send him back his fifty pounds?"

"I did, and interest with it."

"That is right.  That is proper pride."

Archie and the Winslows spent a whole fortnight in Brisbane, and they
went away promising that ere long they would once more visit the
station.

The touch of Etheldene's soft hand lingered long in Archie's.  The last
look from her bonnie eyes haunted him even in his dreams, as well as in
his waking thoughts.  The former he could not command, so they played
him all kinds of pranks.  But over his thoughts he still had sway; and
whenever he found himself thinking much about Etheldene's beauty, or
winning ways, or soft, sweet voice, he always ended up by saying to
himself, "What a love of a little wife she will make for Rupert!"

One day, while Archie was taking a farewell walk along Queen Street,
glancing in here and there at the windows, and now and then entering to
buy something pretty for Sarah, something red--dazzling--for her black
servant-maid, and toys for Di, he received a slap on the back that made
him think for a moment a kangaroo had kicked him.

"What!" he cried, "Captain Vesey?"

"Ay, lad, didn't I say we would meet again?"

"Well, wonders will never cease!  Where have you been? and what have you
been doing?"

"Why I've gone in for trade a bit.  I've been among the South Sea
Islands, shipping blacks for the interior here; and, to tell you the
truth, my boy, I am pretty well sick of the job from all I've seen.  It
is more like buying slaves, and that is the honest truth."

"And I suppose you are going to give it up?"  The captain laughed--a
laugh that Archie did not quite like.

"Yes," he said, "I'll give it up after--another turn or two.  But come
and have something cooling, the weather is quite summery already.  What
a great man you have grown!  When I saw you first you were just a--"

"A hobbledehoy?"

"Something like that--very lime-juicy, but very ardent and sanguine.  I
say, you didn't find the streets of Sydney paved with gold, eh?"

"Not quite," replied Archie, laughing as he thought of all his misery
and struggles in the capital of New South Wales.

"But," he added, "though I did not find the streets paved with gold, I
found the genuine ore on a housetop, or near it, in a girl called
Sarah."

"What, Archie Broadbent, you don't mean to say you're married?"

"No; but Bob is."

"What Bob?  Here, waiter, bring us drinks--the best and coolest you have
in the house.  Now, lad, you've got to begin at the beginning of your
story, and run right through to the end.  Spin it off like a man.  I'll
put my legs on a chair, smoke, and listen."

So Archie did as he was told, and very much interested was Captain
Vesey.

"And now, captain, you must promise to run down, and see us all in the
Bush.  We're a jolly nice family party, I can assure you."

"I promise, my boy, right heartily.  I hope to be back in Brisbane in
six months.  Expect to see me then."

They dined together, and spent the evening talking of old times, and
planning all that they would do when they met.

Next day they parted.

The end of this spring was remarkable for floods.  Never before had our
heroes seen such storms of rain, often accompanied with thunder and
lightning.  Archie happened to be out in the forest when it first came
on.

It had been a hot, still, sulphurous morning, which caused even the pet
kangaroo to lie panting on his side.  Then a wind came puffing and
roaring through the trees in uncertain gusts, shaking the hanging
curtains of climbing plants, rustling and rasping among the sidelong
leaved giant gums, tearing down tree ferns and lovely orchids, and
scattering the scented bloom of the wattle in every direction.

With the wind came the clouds, and a darkness that could be felt.

Then down died the fitful breeze, and loud and long roared and rattled
the thunder, while the blinding lightning seemed everywhere.  It rushed
down the darkness in rivers like blood, it glanced and glimmered on the
pools of water, and zigzagged through the trees.  From the awful
hurtling of the thunder one would have thought every trunk and stem were
being rent and riven in pieces.

Tell--the horse--seemed uneasy, so Archie made for home.  The rain had
come on long before he reached the creek, but the stream was still
fordable.

But see!  He is but half-way across when, in the interval between the
thunder peals, he can hear a steady rumbling roar away up the creek and
gulley, but coming closer and closer every moment.

On, on, on, good Tell!  Splash through that stream quicker than ever you
went before, or far down the country to-morrow morning two swollen
corpses will be seen floating on the floods!

Bewildered by the dashing rain, and the mist that rose on every side,
Archie and his trusty steed had but reached high ground when down came
the bore.

A terrible sight, though but dimly seen.  Fully five feet high, it
seemed to carry everything before it.  Alas! for flocks and herds.
Archie could see white bodies and black, tumbling and trundling along in
the rolling "spate."

The floods continued for days.  And when they abated then losses could
be reckoned.  Though dead cattle and sheep now lay in dozens about the
flat lands near the creek, only a small percentage of them belonged to
Burley.

Higher up Findlayson had suffered, and many wild cattle helped to swell
the death bill.

But it was bad enough.

However, our young squatters were not the men to sit down to cry over
spilt milk.

The damage was repaired, and the broken dams were made new again.  And
these last were sadly wanted before the summer went past.  For it was
unusually hot, the sun rising in a cloudless sky, blazing down all day
steadily, and setting without even a ray being intercepted by a cloud.

Bush fires were not now infrequent.  While travelling in a distant part
of the selection, far to the west, in company with Craig, whom he had
come to visit, they were witnesses to a fire of this sort that had
caught a distant forest.  Neither pen nor pencil could do justice to
such a scene.  Luckily it was separated from the Burley estate by a deep
ravine.  One of the strangest sights in connection with it was the wild
stampede of the panic-stricken kangaroos and bush horses.

To work in the fields was now to work indeed.  Bob's complexion and
Archie's were "improved" to a kind of brick-red hue, and even Harry got
wondrously tanned.

There was certainly a great saving in clothes that year, for excepting
light, broad-brimmed hats, and shirts and trousers, nothing else was
worn by the men.

But the gardens were cool in the evening, in spite of the midday glare
of the sun, and it was delightful to sit out in the open for an hour or
two and think and talk of the old country; while the rich perfume of
flowers hung warm in the air, and the holy stars shimmered and blinked
in the dark blue of the sky.

CHAPTER TWENTY SIX.

"I'LL WRITE A LETTER HOME."

The summer wore away, autumn came, the harvest was made good, and in
spite of the drought it turned out well; for the paddocks chosen for
agricultural produce seldom lacked moisture, lying as they did on the
low lands near the creek, and on rich ground reclaimed from the scrub.

Our Bushmen were congratulating themselves on the success of their
farming; for the banking account of all three was building itself, so to
speak, slowly, but surely.

Archie was now quite as wealthy as either of his companions; for his
speculations, instigated by his friend Winslow, had turned out well; so
his stock had increased tenfold, and he had taken more pasture to the
westward and north, near where Bob's and Harry's sheep now were; for
Craig's advice had been acted on.

None too soon though; for early in the winter an old shepherd arrived in
haste at the homesteading to report an outbreak of inflammatory catarrh
among the flocks still left on the lower pastures.

The events that quickly followed put Archie in mind of the "dark days"
at Burley Old Farm, when fat beasts were dying in twos and threes day
after day.  Sheep affected with this strange ailment lived but a day or
two, and the only thing to do was to kill them on the very first
symptoms of the ailment appearing.  They were then just worth the price
of their hides and tallow.

Considering the amount of extra work entailed, and the number of extra
hands to be hired, and the bustle and stir and anxiety caused by the
outbreak, it is doubtful if it would not have been better to bury them
as they fell, skin and all.

This was one of the calamities which Winslow had pointed out to Archie
as likely to occur.  But it was stamped out at last.  The sheep that
remained were sent away to far-off pastures; being kept quite separate,
however, from the other flocks.  So the cloud passed away, and the
squatters could breathe freely again, and hope for a good lambing
season, when winter passed away, and spring time came once more.

"Bob," said Archie one evening, as they all sat round the hearth before
retiring to bed, "that fire looks awfully cosy, doesn't it?  And all the
house is clean and quiet--oh, so quiet and delightful that I really
wonder anyone could live in a city or anywhere near the roar and din of
railway trains!  Then our farm is thriving far beyond anything we could
have dared to expect.  We are positively getting rich quickly, if,
indeed, we are not rich already.  And whether it be winter or summer,
the weather is fine, glorious sometimes.  Indeed, it is like a foretaste
of heaven, Bob, in my humble opinion, to get up early and wander out of
doors."

"Well," said Bob, "small reason to be ashamed to say that, my boy."

"Hold on, Bob, I'm coming to the part I'm ashamed of; just you smoke
your pipe and keep quiet.  Well, so much in love am I with the new
country that I'm beginning to forget the old.  Of course I'll always--
always be a true Englishman, and I'd go back to-morrow to lay down my
life for the dear old land if it was in danger.  But it isn't, it
doesn't want us, it doesn't need us; it is full to overflowing, and I
daresay they can do without any of us.  But, Bob, there is my dear old
father, mother, Elsie, and Rupert.  Now, if it were only possible to
have them here.  But I know my father is wedded to Burley, and his
life's dream is to show his neighbours a thing or two.  I know too that
if he starts machinery again he will be irretrievably lost."

Archie paused, and the kangaroo looked up into his face as much as to
say, "Go on, I'm all attention."

"Well, Bob, if I make a pile here and go home, I'll just get as fond of
Burley as I was when a boy, and I may lose my pile too.  It seems
selfish to speak so, but there is no necessity for it.  So I mean to try
to get father to emigrate.  Do you think such a thing is possible, Bob?"

"It's the same with men as with trees, Archie.  You must loosen the
ground about them, root by root must be carefully taken up if you want
to transplant them, and you must take so much of the old earth with them
that they hardly know they are being moved.  Sarah, bring the coffee.
As for my own part, Archie, I am going back; but it is only just to see
the old cottage, the dear old woods, and--and my mother's grave."

"Yes," said Archie, thoughtfully.  "Well, root by root you said, didn't
you?"

"Ay, root by root."

"Then I'm going to begin.  Rupert and Elsie will be the first roots.
Roup isn't over strong yet.  This country will make a man of him.  Bob
and you, Harry, can go to bed as soon as you like.  I'm going out to
think and walk about a bit.  Stick another log or two on the fire, and
as soon as you have all turned in I'll write a letter home.  I'll begin
the uprooting, though it does seem cruel to snap old ties."

"Well," said Harry, "thank goodness, I've got no ties to snap.  And I
think with you, Archie, that the old country isn't a patch on the new.
Just think o' the London fogs.  You mind them, Sarah."

"I does, 'Arry."

"And the snow."

"And the slush, 'Arry."

"And the drizzle."

"And the kitchen beetles, boy.  It would take a fat little lot to make
me go back out o' the sunshine.  Here's the coffee."

"Keep mine hot, Sarah."

Away went Archie out into the night, out under the stars, out in the
falling dew, and his kangaroo went jumping and hopping after him.

The sky was very bright and clear to-night, though fleece-shaped,
snow-white clouds lay low on the horizon, and the moon was rising
through the distant woods, giving the appearance of some gigantic fire
as its beams glared red among the topmost branches.

There was the distant howling or yelling of dingoes, and the low,
half-frightened bleat of sheep, and there was the rippling murmur of the
stream not far off, but all else was still.

It was two hours before Archie found his way back.  The kangaroo saw him
to the door, then went off to curl up in the shed till the hot beams of
the morning sun should lure him forth to breakfast.

And all alone sat Archie, by the kitchen table, writing a letter home by
the light of candles made on the steading.

It was very still now in the house--only the ticking of the clock, the
occasional whirr of some insect flying against the window, anxious to
come into the light and warmth and scratching of the young man's pen.

Surely the dog knew that Archie was writing home, for presently he got
slowly up from his corner and came and leant his head on his master's
knee, in that wise and kindly way collies have of showing their thoughts
and feelings.  Archie must leave off writing for a moment to smooth and
pet the honest "bawsent" head.

Now it would be very easy for us to peep over Archie's shoulder and read
what he was writing, but that would be rude; anything rather than
rudeness and impoliteness.  Rather, for instance, let us take a voyage
across the wide, terribly wide ocean, to pay a visit to Burley Old Farm,
and wait till the letter comes.

"I wonder," said Elsie with a gentle sigh, and a long look at the fire,
"when we may expect to hear from Archie again.  Dear me, what a long,
long time it is since he went away!  Let me see, Rupert, it is going on
for six years, isn't it?"

"Yes.  Archie must be quite a man by now."

"He's all right," said the Squire.

"That he is, I know," said Uncle Ramsay.

"He's in God's good hands," said the mother, but her glasses were so
moist she had to take them off to wipe them; "he is in God's good hands,
and all we can do now is to pray for him."

Two little taps at the green-parlour door and enter the maid, not
looking much older, and not less smart, than when last we saw her.

"If you please, sir, there's a gentleman in the study as would like to
see you."

"Oh," she added, with a little start, "here he comes!"

And there he came certainly.

"God bless all here!" he cried heartily.

"What," exclaimed the Squire, jumping up and holding out his hand, "my
dear old friend Venturesome Vesey!"

"Yes, Yankee Charlie, and right glad I am to see you."

"My wife and children, Vesey.  Though you and I have often met in town
since my marriage, you've never seen them before.  My brother, whom you
know."

Vesey was not long in making himself one of the family circle, and he
gave his promise to stay at Burley Old Farm for a week at least.

Rupert and Elsie took to him at once.  How could they help it? a sailor
and gentleman, and a man of the world to boot.  Besides, coming directly
from Archie.

"I just popped into the house the very morning after he had written the
letter I now hand to you," said Captain Vesey.  "He had an idea it would
be safer for me to bring it.  Well, here it is; and I'm going straight
away out to the garden to smoke a pipe under the moon while you read it.
Friend as I am of Archie's, you must have the letter all to
yourselves;" and away went Vesey.

"Send for old Kate and Branson," cried the Squire, and they accordingly
marched in all expectancy.

Then the father unfolded the letter with as much reverence almost as if
it had been _Foxe's Book of Martyrs_.

Every eye was fixed upon him as he slowly read it.  Even Bounder, the
great Newfoundland, knew something unusual was up, and sat by Elsie all
the time.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Archie's Letter Home.

  "My dearest Mother,--It is to you I write first, because I know that a
  proposal I have to make will `take you aback,' as my friend Winslow
  would say.  I may as well tell you what it is at once, because, if I
  don't, your beloved impatience will cause you to skip all the other
  parts of the letter till you come to it.  Now then, my own old mummy,
  wipe your spectacles all ready, catch hold of the arm of your chair
  firmly, and tell Elsie to `stand by'--another expression of
  Winslow's--the smelling-salts bottle.  Are you all ready?  Heave oh!
  then.  I'm going to ask you to let Rupert and Elsie come out to me
  here.

  "Have you fainted, mummy?  Not a bit of it; you're my own brave
  mother!  And don't you see that this will be only the beginning of the
  end?  And a bright, happy end, mother, I'm looking forward to its
  being.  It will be the reunion of us all once more; and if we do not
  live quite under one roof, as in the dear old days at Burley Old Farm,
  we will live in happy juxtaposition.

  "`What!' you cry, `deprive me of my children?'  It is for your
  children's good, mummy.  Take Rupert first.  He is not strong now, but
  he is young.  If he comes at once to this glorious land of ours, on
  which I am quite enthusiastic, he will get as hardy as a New Hollander
  in six months' time.  Wouldn't you like to see him with roses on his
  face, mother, and a brow as brown as a postage stamp?  Send him out.
  Would you like him to have a frame of iron, with muscles as tough as a
  mainstay?  Send him out.  Would you like him to be as full of health
  as an egg is full of meat? and so happy that he would have to get up
  at nights to sing?  Then send him here.

  "Take poor me next.  You've no notion how homesick I am; I'm dying to
  see some of you.  I am making money fast, and I love my dear, free,
  jolly life; but for all that, there are times that I would give up
  everything I possess--health, and hopes of wealth--for sake of one
  glance at your dear faces, and one run round Burley Old Farm with
  father."

  This part of Archie's letter told home.  There were tears in Mrs
  Broadbent's motherly eyes; and old Kate was heard to murmur, "Dear,
  bonnie laddie!" and put her apron to her face.

  "Then," the letter continued, "there is Elsie.  It would do her good
  to come too, because--bless the lassie!--she takes her happiness at
  second-hand; and knowing that she was a comfort to us boys, and made
  everything cheery and nice, would cause her to be as jolly as the
  summer's day is long or a gum tree high.  Then, mother, we three
  should work together with only one intent--that of getting you and
  father both out, and old Kate and Branson too.

  "As for you, dad, I know you will do what is right; and see how good
  it would be for us all to let Roup and Elsie come.  Then you must
  remember that when we got things a bit straighter, we would expect you
  and mother to follow.  You, dear dad, would have full scope here for
  your inventive genius, and improvements that are thrown away in
  England could be turned to profit out here.

  "We would not go like a bull at a gate at anything, father; but what
  we do want here is machinery, easily worked, for cutting up and
  dealing with wood; for cutting up ground, and for destroying tree
  stumps; and last, but not least, we want wells, and a complete system
  of irrigation for some lands, that shall make us independent to a
  great extent of the sparsely-failing rains of some seasons.  Of course
  you could tell us something about sheep disease and cattle plague, and
  I'm not sure you couldn't help us to turn the wild horses to account,
  with which some parts of the interior swarm."

Squire Broadbent paused here to exclaim, as he slapped his thigh with
his open palm:

"By Saint Andrews, brother, Archie is a chip of the old block!  He's a
true Broadbent, I can tell you.  He appreciates the brains of his father
too.  Heads are what are wanted out there; genius to set the mill
a-going.  As for this country--pah! it's played out.  Yes, my children,
you shall go, and your father will follow."

  "My dear Elsie and Rupert," the letter went on, "how I should love to
  have you both out here.  I have not asked you before, because I wanted
  to have everything in a thriving condition first; but now that
  everything is so, it wants but you two to help me on, and in a year or
  two--Hurrah! for dad and the mum!

  "Yes, Elsie, your house is all prepared.  I said nothing about this
  before.  I've been, like the duck-bill, working silently out of
  sight--out of your sight I mean.  But there it is, the finest house in
  all the district, a perfect mansion; walls as thick as Burley Old
  Tower--that's for coolness in summer.  Lined inside with cedar--that's
  for cosiness in winter.  Big hall in it, and all the rooms just
  _facsimile_ of our own house at home, or as near to them as the
  climate will admit.

  "But mind you, Elsie, I'm not going to have you banished to the Bush
  wilds altogether.  No, lassie, no; we will have a mansion--a real
  mansion--in Sydney or Brisbane as well, and the house at Burley New
  Farm will be our country residence.

  "I know I'll have your answer by another mail, and it will put new
  life into us all to know you are coming.  Then I will start right away
  to furnish our house.  Our walls shall be polished, pictures shall be
  hung, and mirrors everywhere; the floors shall glitter like beetles'
  wings, and couches and skins be all about.  I'm rather lame at house
  description, but you, Elsie, shall finish the furnishing, and put in
  the nicknacks yourself.

  "I'm writing here in the stillness of night, with our doggie's head
  upon my knee.  All have gone to bed--black and white--in the house and
  round the Station.  But I've just come in from a long walk in the
  moonlight.  I went out to be alone and think about you; and what a
  glorious night, Rupert!  We have no such nights in England.  Though it
  is winter, it is warm and balmy.  It is a delight to walk at night
  either in summer or winter.  Oh, I do wish I could describe to you my
  garden as it is in spring and early summer!  That is, you know, _our_
  garden that is going to be.  I had the garden laid out and planted
  long before the house was put up, and now my chief delight is to keep
  it up.  You know, as I told you before, I went to Melbourne with the
  Winslows.  Well, we went round everywhere, and saw everything; we
  sailed on the lovely river, and I was struck with the wonderful beauty
  of the gardens, and determined ours should be something like it.  And
  when the orange blossom is out, and the fragrant verbenas, and a
  thousand other half-wild flowers, with ferns, ferns, ferns everywhere,
  and a fountain playing in the shadiest nook--this was an idea of
  Harry's--you would think you were in fairyland or dreamland, or
  `through the looking-glass,' or somewhere; anyhow, you would be
  entranced.

  "But to-night, when I walked there, the house--our house you know--
  looked desolate and dreary, and my heart gave a big superstitious thud
  when I heard what I thought was a footstep on the verandah, but it was
  only a frog as big as your hat.

  "That verandah cost me and Harry many a ramble into the scrub and
  forest, but now it is something worth seeing, with its wealth of
  climbing flowering plants, its hanging ferns, and its clustering
  marvellous orchids.

  "Yes, the house looks lonely; looks haunted almost; only, of course,
  ghosts never come near a new house.  But, dear Elsie, how lovely it
  will look when we are living in it! when light streams out from the
  open casement windows! when warmth and music are there!  Oh, come
  soon, come _soon_!  You see I'm still impulsive.

  "You, Elsie, love pets.  I daresay Bounder will come with you.  Poor
  Scallowa!  I was sorry to hear of his sad death.  But we can have all
  kinds of pets here.  We have many.  To begin with, there is little
  Diana, she is queen of the station, and likely to be; she is
  everybody's favourite.  Then there are the collies, and the kangaroo.
  He is quite a darling fellow, and goes everywhere with me.

  "Our laughing jackass is improving every day.  He looks excessively
  wise when you talk to him, and if touched up with the end of a brush
  of turkey's feathers, which we keep for the purpose, he goes off into
  such fits of mad hilarious, mocking, ringing laughter that somebody
  has got to pick him up, cage and all, and make all haste out of the
  house with him.

  "We have also a pet bear; that is Harry's.  But don't jump.  It is no
  bigger than a cat, and far tamer.  It is a most wonderful little
  rascal to climb ever you saw.  Koala we call him, which is his native
  name, and he is never tired of exploring the roof and rafters; but
  when he wants to go to sleep, he will tie himself round Sarah's waist,
  with his back downwards, and go off as sound as a top.

  "We have lots of cats and a cockatoo, who is an exceedingly
  mischievous one, and who spends most of his life in the garden.  He
  can talk, and dance, and sing as well.  And he is a caution to snakes,
  I can tell you.  I don't want to frighten you though.  We never see
  the `tiger' snake, or hardly ever, and I think the rest are harmless.
  I know the swagsmen, and the sundowners too, often kill the carpet
  snake, and roast and eat it when they have no other sort of fresh
  meat.  I have tasted it, and I can tell you, Rupert, it is better than
  roasted rabbit.

  "I'm going to have a flying squirrel.  The first time I saw these
  creatures was at night among the trees, and they startled me--great
  shadowy things sailing like black kites from bough to bough.

  "Kangaroos are cautions.  We spend many and many a good day hunting
  them.  If we did not kill them they would eat us up, or eat the
  sheep's fodder up, and that would be all the same.

  "Gentleman Craig has strange views about most things; he believes in
  Darwin, and a deal that isn't Darwin; but he says kangaroos first got
  or acquired their monster hindlegs, and their sturdy tails, from
  sitting up looking over the high grass, and cropping the leaves of
  bushes.  He says that Australia is two millions of years old at the
  very least.

  "I must say I like Craig very much.  He is so noble and handsome.
  What a splendid soldier he would have made!  But with all his grandeur
  of looks--I cannot call it anything else--there is an air of
  pensiveness and melancholy about him that is never absent.  Even when
  he smiles it is a sad smile.  Ah!  Rupert, his story is a very strange
  one; but he is young yet, only twenty-six, and he is now doing well.
  He lives by himself, with just one shepherd under him, on the very
  confines of civilisation.  I often fear the blacks will bail up his
  hut some day, and mumkill him, and we should all be sorry.  Craig is
  saving money, and I believe will be a squatter himself one of these
  days.  Etheldene is very fond of him.  Sometimes I am downright
  jealous and nasty about it, because I would like you, Rupert, to have
  Etheldene for a wife.  And she knows all about the black fellows, and
  can speak their language.  Well, you see, Rupert, you could go and
  preach to and convert them; for they are not half so bad as they are
  painted.  The white men often use them most cruelly, and think no more
  of shooting them than I should of killing an old man kangaroo.

  "When I began this letter, dearest Elsie and old Roup, I meant to tell
  you such a lot I find I shall have no chance of doing--all about the
  grand trees, the wild and beautiful scenery, the birds and beasts and
  insects, but I should have to write for a week to do it.  So pray
  forgive my rambling letter, and come and see it all for yourself.

  "Come you must, else--let me see now what I shall threaten.  Oh, I
  have it; I won't ever return!  But if you do come, then in a few years
  we'll all go back together, and bring out dad and the dear mummy.

  "I can't see to write any more.  No, the lights are just as bright as
  when I commenced; but when I think of dad and the mum, my eyes _will_
  get filled with moisture.  So there!

  "God bless you all, _all_, from the mum and dad all the way down to
  Kate, Branson, and Bounder.

  "Archie Broadbent, C.O.B.

  "P.S.--Do you know what C.O.B. means?  It means Chip of the Old Block.
  Hurrah!"

CHAPTER TWENTY SEVEN.

RUMOURS OF WAR.

As soon as Squire Broadbent read his son's letter he carefully folded it
up, and with a smile on his face handed it to Rupert.  And by-and-bye,
when Captain Vesey returned, and settled into the family circle with the
rest, and had told them all he could remember about Archie and Burley
New Farm in Australia, the brother and sister, followed by Bounder,
slipped quietly out and told old Kate they were going to the tower.
Would she come?  That she would.  And so for hours they all sat up there
before the fire talking of Archie, and all he had done and had been, and
laying plans and dreaming dreams, and building castles in the air, just
in the same way that young folks always have done in this world, and
will, I daresay, continue to do till the end of time.

But that letter bore fruit, as we shall see.

Things went on much as usual in the Bush.  Winter passed away, spring
came round and lambing season, and the shepherds were busy once more.
Gentleman Craig made several visits to the home farm, and always brought
good news.  It was a glorious time in every way; a more prosperous
spring among the sheep no one could wish to have.

On his last visit to the house Craig stayed a day or two, and Archie
went back with him, accompanied by a man on horseback, with medicines
and some extra stores--clothing and groceries, etc, I mean, for in those
days live stock was sometimes called stores.

They made Findlayson's the first night, though it was late.  They found
that the honest Scot had been so busy all day he had scarcely sat down
to a meal.  Archie and Craig were "in clipping-time" therefore, for
there was roast duck on the table, and delightful potatoes all steaming
hot, and, as usual, the black bottle of mountain dew, a "wee drappie" of
which he tried in vain to get either Craig or Archie to swallow.

"Oh, by-the-bye, men," said Findlayson, in the course of the evening--
that is, about twelve o'clock--"I hear bad news up the hills way."

"Indeed," said Craig.

"Ay, lad.  You better ha'e your gun loaded.  The blacks, they say, are
out in force.  They've been killing sheep and bullocks too, and picking
the best."

"Well, I don't blame them either.  Mind, we white men began the trouble;
but, nevertheless, I'll defend my flock."

Little more was said on the subject.  But next morning another and an
uglier rumour came.  A black fellow or two had been shot, and the tribe
had sworn vengeance and held a corroboree.

"There's a cloud rising," said Findlayson.  "I hope it winna brak o'er
the district."

"I hope not, Findlayson.  Anyhow, I know the black fellows well.  I'm
not sure I won't ride over after I get back and try to get to the bottom
of the difference."

The out-station, under the immediate charge of Gentleman Craig, was
fully thirty miles more to the north and west than Findlayson's, and on
capital sheep-pasture land, being not very far from the hills--a branch
ridge that broke off from the main range, and lay almost due east and
west.

Many a splendidly-wooded glen and gully was here; but at the time of our
story these were still inhabited by blacks innumerable.  Savage, fierce,
and vindictive they were in all conscience, but surely not so brave as
we sometimes hear them spoken of, else could they have swept the country
for miles of the intruding white man.  In days gone by they had indeed
committed some appallingly-shocking massacres; but of late years they
had seemed contented to either retire before the whites or to become
their servants, and receive at their hands that moral death--temptation
to drink--which has worked such woe among savages in every quarter of
the inhabitable globe.

As Archie and his companion came upon the plain where--near the top of
the creek on a bit of tableland--Craig's "castle," as he called it, was
situated, the owner looked anxiously towards it.  At first they could
see no signs of life; but as they rode farther on, and nearer, the
shepherd himself came out to meet them, Roup, the collie, bounding
joyfully on in front, and barking in the exuberance of his glee.

"All right and safe, shepherd?"

"All right and safe, sir," the man returned; "but the blacks have been
here to-day."

"Then I'll go there to-morrow."

"I don't think that's a good plan."

"Oh! isn't it?  Well, I'll chance it.  Will you come, Mr Broadbent?"

"I will with pleasure."

"Anything for dinner, George?"

"Yes, sir.  I expected you; and I've got a grilled pheasant, and fish
besides."

"Ah, capital!  But what made you expect me to-day?"

"The dog Roup, sir.  He was constantly going to the door to look out, so
I could have sworn you would come."

The evening passed away quietly enough.

Dwelling in this remote region, and liable at any time to be attacked,
Gentleman Craig had thought it right to almost make a fort of his little
slab hut.  He had two black fellows who worked for him, and with their
assistance a rampart of stones, earth, and wood was thrown up, although
these men had often assured him that "he," Craig, "was `corton budgery,'
and that there was no fear of the black fellows `mumkill' him."

"I'm not so very sure about it," thought Craig; "and it is best to be on
the safe side."

They retired to-night early, having seen to the sheep and set a black to
watch, for the dingoes were very destructive.

Both Craig and Archie slept in the same room, and they hardly undressed,
merely taking off their coats, and lying down on the rough bed of
sacking, with collie near the door to do sentry.

They had not long turned in when the dog began to growl low.

"Down charge, Roup," said Craig.

Instead of obeying, the dog sprang to the door, barking fiercely.

Both Archie and Craig were out of bed in a moment, and handling their
revolvers.  Craig managed to quieten Roup, and then listened
attentively.

The wind was rising and moaning round the chimney, but above this sound
they could hear a long-prolonged "Coo--oo--ee!"

"That's a white man's voice," said Craig; "we're safe."

The door and fort was at once opened, and a minute after five squatters
entered.

"Sorry we came so late," they said; "but we've been and done it, and it
took some time."

"What have you done?" said Craig.

"Fired the woods all along the gullies among the hills."

"Is that fair to the blacks?"

"Curse them!" exclaimed the spokesman.  "Why do they not keep back?  The
law grumbles if we shoot the dogs, unless in what they please to call
self-defence, which means after they have speared our beasts and
shepherds, and are standing outside our doors with a nullah ready to
brain us."

Craig and Archie went to the door and looked towards the hills.

What a scene was there!  The fire seemed to have taken possession of the
whole of the highlands from east to west, and was entwining wood and
forest, glen and ravine, in its snake-like embrace.  The hills
themselves were cradled in flames and lurid smoke.  The stems of the
giant gum trees alone seemed to defy the blaze, and though their summits
looked like steeples on fire, the trunks stood like pillars of black
marble against the golden gleam behind them.  The noise was deafening,
and the smoke rolled away to leeward, laden with sparks thick as the
snowflakes in a winter's fall.  It was an appalling sight, the
description of which is beyond the power of any pen.

"Well, men," said Craig when he re-entered the hut, "I don't quite see
the force of what you have done.  It is like a declaration of war, and,
depend upon it, the black fellows will accept the challenge."

"It'll make the grass grow," said one of the men with a laugh.

"Yes," said another; "and that grass will grow over a black man's grave
or two ere long, if I don't much mistake."

"It wouldn't be worth while burying the fiends," said a third.  "We'll
leave them to the rooks."

"Well," said Craig, "there's meat and damper there, men.  Stir up the
fire, warm your tea, and be happy as long as you can.  We're off to
bed."

Gentleman Craig was as good as his word next day.  He rode away in
search of the tribe, and after a long ride found them encamped on a
tableland.

As it turned out they knew him, and he rode quietly into their midst.

They were all armed with spear, and nullah, and boomerang.  They were
tattooed, nearly naked, and hideous enough in their horrid war-paint.

Craig showed no signs of fear.  Indeed he felt none.  He told the chief,
however, that he had not approved of the action of the white men, his
brothers, and had come, if possible, to make peace.  Why should they
fight?  There was room enough in the forest and scrub for all.  If
they--the blacks--would leave the cattle and flocks of the squatters
alone, he--Craig--could assure them things would go on as happily as
before.

"And if not?" they asked.

"If not, for one black man there was in the country, there were a
thousand white.  They would come upon them in troops, even like the
locusts; they would hunt them as they hunted the dingoes; they would
kill them as dingoes were killed, and before long all the black fellows
would be in the land of forgetfulness.  What would it profit them then
that they had speared a few white fellows?"

Craig stayed for hours arguing with these wild men, and left at last
after having actually made peace with honour.

The cloud had rolled away, for a time at all events.

In the course of a few days Archie and his man left on his return
journey.  Findlayson made up his mind to go on with him to Burley New
Farm; for this Scot was very fond of an occasional trip eastwards, and
what he called a "twa-handed crack" with Bob or Harry.

Everybody was glad to see him; for, truth to tell, no one had ever seen
Findlayson without a smile on his old-fashioned face, and so he was well
liked.

Bob came galloping out to meet them, and with him, greatly to Archie's
astonishment, was what he at first took for a black bear.

The black bear was Bounder.

Archie dismounted and threw his arms round the great honest dog's neck,
and almost burst into tears of joy.

For just half a minute Bounder was taken aback; then memory came rushing
over him; he gave a jump, and landed Archie on his back, and covered his
face and hair with his canine kisses.  But this was not enough.  Bounder
must blow off steam.  He must get rid of the exuberance of his delight
before it killed him.  So with a half-hysterical but happy bark he went
off at a tangent, and commenced sweeping round and round in a circle so
quickly that he appeared but a black shape.  This wild caper he kept up
till nearly exhausted, then returned once more to be embraced.

"So they've come."  It was all that Archie could say.

Yes, they had come.  Elsie had come, Rupert had come, Branson and
Bounder had come.

And oh, what a joyful meeting that was!  Only those who have been
separated for many long years from all they love and hold dear, and have
met just thus, as Archie now met his sister and brother, can have any
appreciation of the amount of joy that filled their hearts.

The very first overflowing of this joy being expended, of course the
next thing for both Archie and the newcomers to say was, "How you've
changed!"

Yes, they had all changed.  None more so than Elsie.  She always gave
promise of beauty; but now that Archie held her at arms' length, to look
at and criticise, he could not help exclaiming right truthfully:

"_Why_, Elsie, you're almost as beautiful as Etheldene!"

"Oh, what a compliment!" cried Rupert.  "I wouldn't have it, Elsie.
That `_almost_' spoils it."

"Just you wait till you see Etheldene, young man," said Archie, nodding
his head.  "You'll fall in love at once.  I only hope she won't marry
Gentleman Craig.  And how is mother and father?"

Then questions came in streams.  To write one half that was spoken that
night would take me weeks.  They all sat out in the verandah of the old
house; for the night was sultry and warm, and it was very late indeed
before anyone ever thought of retiring.

Findlayson had been unusually quiet during the whole of the evening.  To
be sure, it would not have been quite right for him to have put in his
oar too much, but, to tell the truth, something had happened which
appeared to account for his silence.  Findlayson had fallen in love--
love at first sight.  Oh, there are such things!  I had a touch of the
complaint myself once, so my judgment is critical.  Of course, it is
needless to say that Elsie was the bright particular star, that had in
one brief moment revolutionised the existence and life of the ordinarily
placid and very matter-of-fact Findlayson.  So he sat to-night in his
corner and hardly spoke, but, I daresay, like Paddy's parrot, he made up
for it in thinking; and he looked all he could also, without seeming
positively rude.

Well, a whole fortnight was spent by Archie in showing his brother and
sister round the station, and initiating them into some of the mysteries
and contrarieties of life in the Australian Bush.

After this the three started off for Brisbane and Sydney, to complete
the purchase of furniture for Archie's house.  Archie proved himself
exceedingly clever at this sort of thing, considering that he was only a
male person.  But in proof of what I state, let me tell you, that before
leaving home he had even taken the measure of the rooms, and of the
windows and doors.  And when he got to Sydney he showed his taste in the
decorative art by choosing "fixings" of an altogether Oriental and
semi-aesthetic design.

At Sydney Elsie and Rupert were introduced to the Winslows, and, as soon
as he conveniently could, Archie took his brother's opinion about
Etheldene.

Very much to his astonishment, Rupert told him that Etheldene was more
sisterly than anything else, and he dare say she was rather a nice
girl--"as far as girls go."

Archie laughed outright at Rupert's coolness, but somehow or other he
felt relieved.

First impressions go a far way in a matter of this kind, and it was
pretty evident there was little chance of Rupert's falling in love with
Etheldene, for some time at least.

Yet this was the plan of campaign Archie had cut out: Rupert and
Etheldene should be very much struck with each other from the very
first; the young lady should frequently visit at Burley New Farm, and,
for the good of his health, Rupert should go often to Sydney.  Things
would progress thus, off and on, for a few years, then the marriage
would follow, Rupert being by this time settled perhaps, and in a fair
way of doing well.  I am afraid Archie had reckoned without his host, or
even his hostess.

He was not long in coming to this conclusion either; and about the same
time he made another discovery, very much to his own surprise; namely,
that he himself was in love with Etheldene, and that he had probably
been so for some considerable length of time, without knowing it.  He
determined in his own mind therefore that he would steel his heart
towards Miss Winslow, and forget her.

Before Elsie and Rupert came to settle down finally at the farm, they
enjoyed, in company with Mr Winslow and his daughter, many charming
trips to what I might call the show-places of Australia.  Sydney, and
all its indescribably-beautiful surroundings, they visited first.  Then
they went to Melbourne, and were much struck with all the wealth and
grandeur they saw around them, although they could not help thinking the
actual state of the streets was somewhat of a reproach to the town.
They sailed on the Yarra-Yarra; they went inland and saw, only to marvel
at, the grandeur of the scenery, the ferny forests, the glens and hills,
the waterfalls and tumbling streams and lovely lakes.  And all the time
Rupert could not get rid of the impression that it was a beautiful
dream, from which he would presently awake and find himself at Burley
Old Farm.

CHAPTER TWENTY EIGHT.

THE MASSACRE AT FINDLAYSON'S FARM.

By the time Elsie and Rupert had returned from their wanderings winter
was once more coming on; but already both the sister and brother had got
a complexion.

The house was quite furnished now, guest room and all.  It was indeed a
mansion, though I would not like to say how much money it had cost
Archie to make it so.  However, he had determined, as he said himself to
Bob, to do the thing properly while he was about it.

And there is no doubt he succeeded well.  His garden too was all he had
depicted it in his letter home.

That Archie had succeeded to his heart's content in breaking ties with
the old country was pretty evident, from a letter received by him from
his father about mid-winter.

"He had noticed for quite a long time," the Squire wrote, "and was
getting more and more convinced, that this England was, agriculturally
speaking, on its last legs.  Even American inventions, and American
skill and enterprise, had failed to do much for the lands of Burley.  He
had tried everything, but the ground failed to respond.  Burley was a
good place for an old retired man who loved to potter around after the
partridges; but for one like himself, still in the prime of his life, it
had lost its charms.  Even Archie's mother, he told him, did not see the
advisability of throwing good money after bad, and Uncle Ramsay was of
the same way of thinking.  So he had made up his mind to let the place
and come straight away out.  He would allow Archie to look out for land
for him, and by-and-bye he would come and take possession.  Australia
would henceforth reap the benefit of his genius and example; for he
meant to show Australians a thing or two."

When Archie read that letter, he came in with a rush to read it to Bob,
Harry, and Sarah.

"I think your father is right," said Bob.

"I tell you, Bob, my boy, it isn't father so much as mother.  The dear
old mummy speaks and breathes through every line and word of this
epistle.  Now I'm off to astonish Elsie and Roup.  Come along, Bounder."

Meanwhile Findlayson became a regular visitor at the farm.

"_Why_," Archie said to him one evening, as he met him about the outer
boundary of the farm, "why, Findlayson, my boy, you're getting to be a
regular `sundowner.'  Well, Miss Winslow has come, and Craig is with us,
and as I want to show Branson a bit of real Australian sport, you had
better stop with us a fortnight."

"I'll be delighted.  I wish I'd brought my fiddle."

"We'll send for it if you can't live without it."

"Not very weel.  But I've something to tell you."

"Well, say on; but you needn't dismount."

"Yes, I'll speak better down here."

Findlayson sat up on top of the fence, and at once opened fire by
telling Archie he had fallen in love with Elsie, and had determined to
make her his wife.  Archie certainly was taken aback.

"Why, Findlayson," he said, "you're old enough to be her father."

"A' the better, man.  And look here, I've been squatting for fifteen
years, ever since there was a sheep in the plains almost.  I have a nice
little nest egg at the bank, and if your sister doesna care to live in
the Bush we'll tak' a hoose in Sydney.  For, O man, man, Elsie is the
bonniest lassie the world e'er saw.  She beats the gowan [mountain
daisy]."

Archie laughed.

"I must refer you to the lady herself," he said.

"Of course, man, of course--

  "`He either fears his fate too much,
      Or his deserts are small,
  Who dares not put it to the test
      To win or lose it all.'"

So away went Findlayson to put his fate to the test.

What _he_ said or what _she_ said does not really concern us; but five
minutes after his interview Archie met the honest Scot, and wondrously
crestfallen he looked.

"She winna hae me," he cried, "but _nil desperandum_, that'll be my
motto till the happy day."

The next fortnight was in a great measure given up to pleasure and
sport.  Both Branson and Bounder received their baptism of fire, though
the great Newfoundland was wondrously exercised in his mind as to what a
kangaroo was, and what it was not.  As to the dingoes, he arrived at a
conclusion very speedily.  They could beat him at a race, however; but
when Bounder one time got two of them together, he proved to everybody's
satisfaction that there was life in the old dog yet.

Gentleman Craig never appeared to such excellent advantage anywhere as
in ladies' society.  He really led the conversation at the dinner-table,
though not appearing to do so, but rather the reverse, while in the
drawing-room he was the moving spirit.

He also managed to make Findlayson happy after a way.  The Scotchman had
told Craig all his troubles, but Craig brought him his fiddle, on which
he was a really excellent performer.

"Rouse out, Mr Findlayson, and join the ladies at the piano."

"But, man," the squatter replied, "my heart's no in it; my heart is
broken.  I can play slow music, but when it comes to quick, it goes hard
against the grain."

Nevertheless, Findlayson took his stand beside the piano, and the ice
thus being broken, he played every night, though it must be confessed,
for truth's sake, he never refused a "cogie" when the bottle came round
his way.  Towards ten o'clock Findlayson used, therefore, to become
somewhat sentimental.  The gentleman sat up for a wee half hour after
the ladies retired, and sometimes Findlayson would seize his fiddle.

"Gentlemen," he would say, "here is how I feel."

Then he would play a lament or a wail with such feeling that even his
listeners would be affected, while sometimes the tears would be
quivering on the performer's eyelashes.

At the end of the fortnight Findlayson went to Brisbane.  He had some
mysterious business to transact, the nature of which he refused to tell
even Archie.  But it was rumoured that a week or two later on, drays
laden with furniture were seen to pass along the tracks on their way to
Findlayson's farm.

Poor fellow, he was evidently badly hit.  He was very much in love
indeed, and, like a drowning man, he clutched at straws.

The refurnishing of his house was one of these straws.  Findlayson was
going to give "a week's fun," as he phrased it.  He was determined,
after having seen Archie's new house, that his own should rival and even
outshine it in splendour.  And he really was insane enough to believe
that if Elsie only once saw the charming house he owned, with the wild
and beautiful scenery all around it, she would alter her mind, and look
more favourably on his suit.

In giving way to vain imaginings of this kind, Findlayson was really
ignoring, or forgetting at all events, the sentiments of his own
favourite poet, Burns, as impressed in the following touching lines:

  "It ne'er was wealth, it ne'er was wealth,
  That bought contentment, peace, or pleasure;
  The bands and bliss o' mutual love,
  O that's the chiefest warld's treasure!"

His sister was very straightforward, and at once put her brother down as
a wee bit daft.  Perhaps he really was; only the old saying is a true
one: "Those that are in love are like no one else."

------------------------------------------------------------------------

It was the last month of winter, when early one morning a gay party from
Burley New Farm set out to visit Findlayson, and spend a week or two in
order to "'liven him up," as Harry expressed it.

Bob was not particularly fond of going much from home--besides, Winslow
and he were planning some extensions--so he stopped on the Station.  But
Harry went, and, as before, when going to the kangaroo hunt, Gentleman
Craig was in the cavalcade, and of course Rupert and Elsie.

It would have been no very difficult matter to have done the journey in
a single day, only Archie was desirous of letting his brother and sister
have a taste of camping out in the Bush.

They chose the same route as before, and encamped at night in the
self-same place.

The evening too was spent in much the same way, even to singing and
story-telling, and Craig's lullaby to Baby, when she and Elsie had gone
to their tent.

Morning dawned at last on forest and plain, and both Harry and the
brothers were early astir.  It would have been impossible to remain
asleep much after daybreak, owing to the noise of the birds, including
the occasional ear-splitting clatter of the laughing jackasses.

Besides, towards morning it had been exceedingly cold.  The first thing
that greeted their eyes was a thorough old-fashioned hoar frost, the
like of which Archie had not seen for many a year.  Everything gleamed,
white almost as coral.  The grass itself was a sight to see, and the
leaves on the trees were edged with lace.  But up mounted the sun, and
all was speedily changed.  Leaves grew brightly green again, and the
hoar frost was turned into glancing, gleaming, rainbow-coloured drops of
dew.

The young men ran merrily away to the pool in the creek, and most
effectually scared the ducks.

The breakfast to-day was a different sort of a meal to the morsel of
stiff damper and corned junk that had been partaken of at last bivouac.
Elsie made the tea, and Etheldene and she presided.  The meat pies and
patties were excellent, and everyone was in the highest possible
spirits, and joyously merry.

Alas! and alas! this was a breakfast no one who sat down to, and who
lives, is ever likely to forget.

Have you ever, reader, been startled on a bright sunshiny summer's day
by a thunder peal?  And have you seen the clouds rapidly bank up after
this and obscure the sky, darkness brooding over the windless landscape,
lighted up every moment by the blinding lightning's flash, and gloom and
danger brooding all round, where but a short half hour ago the birds
carolled in sunlight?  Then will you be able, in some measure, to
understand the terribleness of the situation in which an hour or two
after breakfast the party found themselves, and the awful suddenness of
the shock that for a time quite paralysed every member of it.

They had left the dismal depths of the forest, and were out on the open
pasture land, and nearing Findlayson's house, when Craig and Archie,
riding on in front, came upon the well-known bobtailed collie, who was
the almost constant companion of the squatter.  The dog was alive, but
dying.  There was a terrible spear-gash in his neck.  Craig dismounted
and knelt beside him.  The poor brute knew him, wagged his inch-long
tail, licked the hand that caressed him, and almost immediately expired.
Craig immediately rode back to the others.

"Do not be alarmed, ladies," he said.  "But I fear the worst.  There is
no smoke in Findlayson's chimney.  The black fellows have killed his
dog."

Though both girls grew pale, there were no other signs of fear
manifested by them.  If Young Australia could be brave, so could Old
England.

The men consulted hurriedly, and it was agreed that while Branson and
Harry waited with the ladies, Archie and Craig should ride on towards
the house.

Not a sign of life; no, not one.  Signs enough of death though, signs
enough of an awful struggle.  It was all very plain and simple, though
all very, very sad and dreadful.

Here in the courtyard lay several dead natives, festering and sweltering
in the noonday sun.  Here were the boomerangs and spears that had fallen
from their hands as they dropped never to rise again.  Here was the door
battered and splintered and beaten in with tomahawks, and just inside,
in the passage, lay the bodies of Hurricane Bill and poor Findlayson,
hacked about almost beyond recognition.

In the rooms all was confusion, every place had been ransacked.  The
furniture, all new and elegant, smashed and riven; the very piano that
the honest Scot had bought for sake of Elsie had been dissected, and its
keys carried away for ornaments.  In an inner room, half-dressed, were
Findlayson's sister and her little Scotch maid, their arms broken, as if
they had held them up to beseech for mercy from the monsters who had
attacked them.  Their arms were broken, and their skulls beaten in,
their white night-dresses drenched in blood.  There was blood, blood
everywhere--in curdled streams, in great liver-like gouts, and in dark
pools on the floor.  In the kitchen were many more bodies of white men
(the shepherds), and of the fiends in human form with whom they had
struggled for their lives.

It was an awful and sickening sight.

No need for Craig or Archie to tell the news when they returned to the
others.  Their very silence and sadness told the terrible tale.

Nothing could be done at present, however, in the way of punishing the
murderers, who by this time must be far away in their mountain
fastnesses.

They must ride back, and at once too, in order to warn the people at
Burley and round about of their great danger.

So the return journey was commenced at once.  On riding through the
forest they had to observe the greatest caution.

Craig was an old Bushman, and knew the ways of the blacks well.  He
trotted on in front.  And whenever in any thicket, where an ambush might
possibly be lurking, he saw no sign of bird or beast, he dismounted and,
revolver in hand, examined the place before he permitted the others to
come on.

They got through the forest and out of the gloom at last, and some hours
afterwards dismounted a long way down the creek to water the horses and
let them browse.  As for themselves, no one thought of eating.  There
was that feeling of weight at every heart one experiences when first
awakening from some dreadful nightmare.

They talked about the massacre, as they sat under the shadow of a gum
tree, almost in whispers; and at the slightest unusual noise the men
grasped their revolvers and listened.

They were just about to resume their journey when the distant sound of
galloping horses fell on their ears.  Their own nags neighed.  All
sprang to their feet, and next moment some eight or nine men rode into
the clearing.

Most of them were known to Craig, so he advanced to meet them.

"Ah!  I see you know the worst," said the leader.

"Yes," said Craig, "we know."

"We've been to your place.  It is all right there with one exception."

"One exception?"

"Yes; it's only the kid--Mr Cooper's little daughter, you know."

"Is she dead?" cried Archie aghast.

"No, sir; that is, it isn't likely.  Mr Cooper's black girl left last
night, and took the child."

"Good heavens! our little Diana!  Poor Bob!  He will go raving mad!"

"He is mad, sir, or all but, already; but we've left some fellows to
defend the station, and taken to the trail as you see."

"Craig," said Archie, "we must go too."

"Well," said the first speaker, "the coast is all clear betwixt here and
Burley.  Two must return there with the ladies.  I advise you to make
your choice, and lose no time."

It was finally arranged that Branson and one of the newcomers should
form the escort; and so Archie, Harry, and Craig bade the girls a
hurried adieu, and speedily rode away after the men.

CHAPTER TWENTY NINE.

ON THE WAR TRAIL.

Twelve men all told to march against a tribe consisting probably of over
a hundred and fifty warriors, armed for the fight, and intoxicated with
their recent success!  It was a rash, an almost mad, venture; but they
did not for one moment dream of drawing back.  They would trust to their
own superior skill to beat the enemy; trust to that fortune that so
often favours the brave; trusting--many of them I hope--to that merciful
Providence who protects the weak, and who, in our greatest hour of need,
does not refuse to listen to our pleadings.

They had ridden some little way in silence, when suddenly Archie drew
rein.

"Halt, men!" he cried.  "Halt for a moment and deliberate.  Who is to be
the commander of this little force?"

"Yourself," said Gentleman Craig, lifting his hat.  "You are boss of
Burley Farm, and Mr Cooper's dearest friend."

"Hear, hear!" cried several of the others.

"Perhaps it is best," said Archie, after a moment's thoughtful pause,
"that I should take the leadership under the circumstances.  But, Craig,
I choose you as my second in command, and one whose counsel I will
respect and be guided by."

"Thank you," said Craig; "and to begin with, I move we go straight back
to Findlayson's farm.  We are not too well armed, nor too well
provisioned."

The proposal was at once adopted, and towards sundown they had once more
reached the outlying pastures.

They were dismounting to enter, when the half-naked figure of a black
suddenly appeared from behind the storehouse.

A gun or two was levelled at him at once.

"Stay," cried Craig.  "Do not fire.  That is Jacoby, the black stockman,
and one of poor Mr Findlayson's chief men.  Ha, Jacoby, advance my lad,
and tell us all you know."

Jacoby's answer was couched in such unintelligible jargon--a mixture of
Bush-English and broad Scotch--that I will not try the reader's patience
by giving it verbatim.  He was terribly excited, and looked heartbroken
with grief.  He had but recently come home, having passed "plenty black
fellows" on the road.  They had attempted to kill him, but here he was.

"Could he track them?"

"Yes, easily.  They had gone away _there_."  He pointed north and east
as he spoke.

"This is strange," said Craig.  "Men, if what Jacoby tells us be
correct, instead of retreating to their homes in the wilderness, the
blacks are doubling round; and if so, it must be their intention to
commit more of their diabolical deeds, so there is no time to be lost."

It was determined first to bury their dear friends; and very soon a
grave was dug--a huge rough hole, that was all--and in it the murdered
whites were laid side by side.

Rupert repeated the burial-service, or as much of it as he could
remember; then the rude grave was filled, and as the earth fell over the
chest of poor old-fashioned Findlayson, and Archie thought of all his
droll and innocent ways, tears trickled over his face that he made no
attempt to hide.

The men hauled the gates of a paddock off its hinges, and piled wood
upon that, so that the wandering dingoes, with their friends the rooks,
should be baulked in their attempts to gorge upon the dead.

The blacks had evidently commenced to ransack the stores; but for some
reason or another had gone and left them mostly untouched.

Here were gunpowder and cartridges in abundance, and many dainty,
easily-carried foods, such as tinned meats and fish, that the unhappy
owner had evidently laid in for his friends.  So enough of everything
was packed away in the men's pockets or bags, and they were soon ready
once more for the road.

The horses must rest, however; for these formed the mainstay of the
little expedition.  The men too could not keep on all night without a
pause; so Archie and Craig consulted, and it was agreed to bivouac for a
few hours, then resume the journey when the moon should rise.

Meanwhile the sun went down behind the dark and distant wooded hills,
that in their strange shapes almost resembled the horizon seen at sea
when the waves are high and stormy.  Between the place where Archie and
his brother stood and the light, all was rugged plain and forest land,
but soon the whole assumed a shade of almost blackness, and the nearest
trees stood up weird and spectre-like against the sky's strange hue.
Towards the horizon to-night there was a deep saffron or orange fading
above into a kind of pure grey or opal hue, with over it all a light
blush of red, and hurrying away to the south, impelled by some
air-current not felt below, was a mighty host of little cloudlets of
every colour, from darkest purple to golden-red and crimson.

There was now and then the bleating of sheep--sheep without a shepherd--
and a slight tinkle-tinkle, as of a bell.  It was in reality the voice
of a strange bird, often to be found in the neighbourhood of creeks and
pools.

Hardly any other sound at present fell on the ear.  By-and-bye the
hurrying clouds got paler, and the orange left the horizon, and stars
began to twinkle in the east.

"Come out here a little way with me," said Rupert, taking Archie by the
hand.

When they had gone some little distance, quite out of hearing of the
camp, Rupert spoke:

"Do you mind kneeling down here," he said, "to pray, Archie?"

"You good old Rupert, no," was the reply.

Perhaps no more simple, earnest, or heart-felt prayer was ever breathed
under such circumstances, or in such a place.  And not only was Rupert
earnest, but he was confident.  He spoke to the great Father as to a
friend whom he had long, long known, and One whom he could trust to do
all for the best.  He prayed for protection, he prayed for help for the
speedy restoration of the stolen child, and he even prayed for the tribe
they soon hoped to meet in conflict--prayed that the God who moves in so
mysterious a way to perform His wonders would bless the present
affliction to the white man, and even to the misguided black.

Oh, what a beautiful religion is ours--the religion of love--the
religion taught by the lips of the mild and gentle Jesus!

When they rose from their knees they once more looked skywards at the
stars, for they were brightly shining now; then hand-in-hand, as they
had come, the brothers returned to the camp.

No log fire was lit to-night.  The men just lay down to sleep rolled in
their blankets, with their arms close by their saddle pillows, two being
told off to walk sentry in case of a sudden surprise.

Even the horses were put in an enclosure, lest they might roam too far
away.

About twelve o'clock Archie awoke from an uneasy dreamful slumber, and
looked about him.  His attention was speedily attracted to what seemed a
huge fire blazing luridly behind the hills, and lighting up the haze
above with its gleams.  Was the forest on fire again?  No; it was only
moonrise over the woods.  He awakened Craig, and soon the little camp
was all astir, and ready for the road.  Jacoby was to act as guide.  No
Indian from the Wild West of America could be a better tracker.

But even before he started he told Craig the task would be an easy one,
for the black fellows had drunk plenty, and had taken plenty rum with
them.  They would not go far, he thought, and there was a probability
that they would meet some of the band returning.  Even in the moonlight
Jacoby followed the trail easily and rapidly.

It took them first straight for the forest that had been burned
recently--a thoughtless deed on the part of the whites, that probably
led to all this sad trouble.

There was evidence here that the blacks had gone into camp on the very
night of the massacre, and had held a corroboree, which could only have
been a day or two ago.  There were the remains of the camp fires and the
trampled ground and broken branches, with no attempt at concealment.
There was a chance that even now they might not be far away, and that
the little band might come up with them ere they had started for the
day.  But if they ventured to hope so, they were doomed to
disappointment.

Morning broke at last lazily over the woods, and with but a brief
interval they followed up the trail, and so on and on all that day, till
far into the afternoon, when for a brief moment only Jacoby found
himself puzzled, having fallen in with another trail leading south and
west from the main track.  He soon, however, discovered that the new
trail must be that of some band who had joined the Findlayson farm
raiders.

It became painfully evident soon after that this was the correct
solution, for, going backwards some little way, Archie found a child's
shoe--one of a crimson pair that Bob had bought in Brisbane for his
little Diana.

"God help her, poor darling!" said Archie reverently, as he placed the
little shoe in his breast pocket.  When he returned he held it up for a
moment before the men, and the scowl of anger that crossed their faces,
and the firmer clutch they took of their weapons, showed it would indeed
be bad for the blacks when they met these rough pioneers face to face.

At sunset supper was partaken of, and camp once more formed, though no
fire was lit, cold though it might be before morning.

The men were tired, and were sound asleep almost as soon as they lay
down; but Craig, with the brothers, climbed the ridge of the hill to
look about them soon after it grew dark.

The camp rested at the entrance of a wild gully, a view of which could
be had, darkling away towards the east, from the hill on which the three
friends now found themselves.

Presently Rupert spoke.

"Archie," he said, "in this land of contrarieties does the moon
sometimes rise in the south?"

"Not quite," replied Archie.

"Look, then.  What is that reflection over yonder?"  Craig and Archie
both caught sight of it at the same time.

"By Saint George and merry England!"  Craig cried exultingly, "that is
the camp of the blacks.  Now to find Diana's other shoe, and the dear
child herself wearing it.  Now for revenge!"

"Nay," said Rupert, "call it _justice_, Craig."

"What you will; but let us hurry down."

They stayed but for a moment more to take their bearings.  The fire
gleams pointed to a spot to the south-east, on high ground, and right
above the gully, and they had a background of trees, not the sky.  It
was evident then that the enemy was encamped in a little clearing on a
forest tableland; and if they meant to save the child's life--if indeed
she was not already dead--the greatest caution would be necessary.

They speedily descended, and a consultation being held, it was resolved
to commence operations as soon as the moon should rise; but meanwhile to
creep in the darkness as near to the camp as possible.

But first Jacoby was sent out to reconnoitre.  No cat, no flying
squirrel could glide more noiselessly through an Australian forest than
this faithful fellow.  Still he seemed an unconsciously long time gone.
Just as Craig and Archie were getting seriously uneasy the tinkle,
tinkle of the bell-bird was heard.  This was the signal agreed upon, and
presently after, Jacoby himself came silently into their midst.

"The child?" was Archie's first question.

"Baal mumhill piccaninny, belong a you.  Pidney you."

"The child is safe," said Craig, after asking a few more questions of
this Scotch Myell black.

"Safe? and they are holding a corroboree and drinking.  There is little
time to lose.  They may sacrifice the infant at any time."

Craig struck a light as he spoke, and every man examined his arms.

"The moon will rise in an hour.  Let us go on.  Silent as death, men!
Do not overturn a stone or break a twig, or the poor baby's life will be
sacrificed in a moment."

They now advanced slowly and cautiously, guided by Jacoby, and at length
lay down almost within pistol-shot of the place where the horrid
corroboree was going on.

Considering the noise--the shrieking, the clashing of arms, the rude
chanting of songs, and awful din, of the dancers and actors in this ugly
drama--to maintain silence might have seemed unnecessary; but these
blacks have ears like wolves, and, in a lull of even half a second,
would be sharp to hear the faintest unusual noise.

Craig and Archie, however, crept on till they came within sight of the
ceremonies.

At another time it might have been interesting to watch the hideous
grotesqueness of that awful war-dance, but other thoughts were in their
minds at present--they were looking everywhere for Diana.  Presently the
wild, naked, dancing blacks surged backwards, and, asleep in the arms of
a horrid gin, they discovered Bob's darling child.  It was well Bob
himself was not here or all would quickly have been lost.  All was
nearly lost as it was; for suddenly Archie inadvertently snapped a twig.
In a moment there was silence, except for the barking of a dog.

Craig raised his voice, and gave vent to a scream so wild and unearthly
that even Archie was startled.

At once all was confusion among the blacks.  Whether they had taken it
for the yell of Bunyip or not may never be known, but they prepared to
fly.  The gin carrying Diana threw down the frightened child.  A black
raised his arm to brain the little toddler.  He fell dead instead.

Craig's aim had been a steady one.  Almost immediately after a volley or
two completed the rout, and the blacks fled yelling into the forest.

Diana was saved!  This was better than revenge; for not a hair of her
bonnie wee head had been injured, so to speak, and she still wore the
one little red-morocco shoe.

There was not a man there who did not catch that child up in his arms
and kiss her, some giving vent to their feelings in wild words of
thankfulness to God in heaven, while the tears came dripping over their
hardy, sun-browned cheeks.

CHAPTER THIRTY.

CHEST TO CHEST WITH SAVAGES--HOW IT ALL ENDED.

No one thought of sleeping again that night.  They went back for their
horses, and, as the moon had now risen, commenced the journey in a bee
line, as far as that was possible, towards Burley New Farm.

They travelled on all night, still under the guidance of Jacoby, who
needed no blazed trees to show in which direction to go.  But when
morning came rest became imperative, for the men were beginning to nod
in their saddles, and the horses too seemed to be falling asleep on
their feet, for several had stumbled and thrown their half-senseless
riders.  So camp was now formed and breakfast discussed, and almost
immediately all save a sentry went off into sound and dreamless slumber,
Diana lying close to Craig, whom she was very fond of, with her head on
his great shoulder and her fingers firmly entwined in his beard.

It was hard upon the one poor fellow who had to act as sentry.  Do what
he might he could scarcely keep awake, and he was far too tired to
continue walking about.  He went and leant his body against a tree, and
in this position, what with the heat of the day, and the drowsy hum of
insects, with the monotonous song of the grasshopper, again and again he
felt himself merging into the land of dreams.  Then he would start and
shake himself, and take a turn or two in the sunshine, then go back to
the tree and nod as before.

The day wore on, the sun got higher and higher, and about noon, just
when the sentry was thinking or rather dreaming of waking the sleepers,
there was a wild shout from a neighbouring thicket, a spear flew past
him and stuck in the tree.  Next moment there was a terrible _melee_--a
hand-to-hand fight with savages that lasted for long minutes, but
finally resulted in victory for the squatters.

But, alas! it was a dearly-bought victory.  Three out of the twelve were
dead, and three more, including Gentleman Craig, grievously wounded.

The rest followed up the blacks for some little way, and more than one
of them bit the dust.  Then they returned to help their fellows.

Craig's was a spear wound through the side, none the less dangerous in
that hardly a drop of blood was lost externally.

They drew the killed in under a tree, and having bound up the wounds of
the others, and partly carrying them or helping them along, they resumed
the march.

All that day they dragged themselves along, and it was far into the
early hours of morning ere they reached the boundaries of Burley New
Farm.

The moon was shining, though not very brightly, light fleecy clouds were
driving rapidly across the sky, so they could see the lights in both the
old house and in the lower windows of Archie's own dwelling.  They fired
guns and coo-ee-ed, and presently Bob and Winslow rushed out to bid them
welcome.

Diana went bounding away to meet him.

"Oh, daddy, daddy!" she exclaimed, "what a time we've been having! but
mind, daddy, it wasn't all fun."

Bob could not speak for the life of him.  He just staggered in with the
child in his arms and handed her over to Sarah; but I leave the reader
to imagine the state of Sarah's feelings now.

Poor Craig was borne in and put to bed in Archie's guest room, and there
he lay for weeks.

Bob himself had gone to Brisbane to import a surgeon, regardless of
expense; but it was probably more owing to the tender nursing of Elsie
than anything else that Craig was able at length to crawl out and
breathe the balmy, flower-scented air in the verandah.

One afternoon, many weeks after this, Craig was lying on a bank, under
the shade of a tree, in a beautiful part of the forest, all in whitest
bloom, and Elsie was seated near him.

There had been silence for some time, and the girl was quietly reading.

"I wonder," said Craig at last; "if my life is really worth the care
that you and all the good people here have lavished on me?"

"How can you speak thus?" said Elsie, letting her book drop in her lap,
and looking into his face with those clear, blue eyes of hers.

"If you only knew all my sad, sinful story, you would not wonder that I
speak thus."

"Tell me your story: may I not hear it?"

"It is so long and, pardon me, so melancholy."

"Never mind, I will listen attentively."

Then Craig commenced.  He told her all the strange history of his early
demon-haunted life, about his recklessness, about his struggles and his
final victory over self.  He told her he verily did believe that his
mother's spirit was near him that night in the forest when he made the
vow which Providence in His mercy had enabled him to keep.

Yes, it was a long story.  The sun had gone down ere he had finished, a
crescent moon had appeared in the southern sky, and stars had come out.
There was sweetness and beauty everywhere.  There was calm in Craig's
soul now.  For he had told Elsie something besides.  He had told her
that he had loved her from the first moment he had seen her, and he had
asked her in simple language to become his wife--to be his guardian
angel.

That same evening, when Archie came out into the garden, he found Elsie
still sitting by Craig's couch, but her hand was clasped in his.

Then Archie knew all, and a great, big sigh of relief escaped him, for
until this very moment he had been of opinion that Craig loved
Etheldene.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

In course of a few months Squire Broadbent was as good as his word.  He
came out to the new land to give the Australians the benefit of his
genius in the farming way; to teach Young Australia a thing or two it
had not known before; so at least _he_ thought.

With him came Mrs Broadbent, and even Uncle Ramsay, and the day of
their arrival at Brisbane was surely a red-letter day in the annals of
that thriving and prosperous place.

Strange to say, however, none of the squatters from the Bush, none of
the speculating men, nor anybody else apparently, were very much
inclined to be lectured about their own country, and the right and wrong
way of doing things, by a Squire from the old country, who had never
been here before.  Some of them were even rude enough to laugh in his
face, but the Squire was not offended a bit.  He was on far too good
terms with himself for that, and too sure that he was in the right in
all he said.  He told some of these Bush farmers that if _they_ did not
choose to learn a wrinkle or two from him _he_ was not the loser, with
much more to the same purpose, all of which had about the same effect on
his hearers that rain has on a duck's back.

To use a rather hackneyed phrase, Squire Broadbent had the courage of
his convictions.

He settled quietly down at Burley New Farm, and commenced to study
Bush-life in all its bearings.  It soon began to dawn upon him that
Australia was getting to be a great country, that she had a great future
before her, and that he--Squire Broadbent--would be connected with it.
He was in no great hurry to invest, though eventually he would.  It
would be better to wait and watch.  There was room enough and to spare
for all at Archie's house, and that all included honest Uncle Ramsay of
course.  He and Winslow resumed acquaintance, and in the blunt,
straightforward ways of the man even Squire Broadbent found a deal to
admire and even to marvel at.

"He is a clever man," said the Squire to his brother; "a clever man and
a far-seeing.  He gets a wonderful grasp of financial matters in a
moment.  Depend upon it, brother, he is the right metal, and it is upon
solid stones like him that the future greatness of a nation should be
founded."

Uncle Ramsay said he himself did not know much about it.  He knew more
about ships, and was quite content to settle down at Brisbane, and keep
a morsel of a 20-tonner.  That was his ambition.

What a delight it was for Archie to have them all round his
breakfast-table in the green parlour at Burley New Form, or seated out
in the verandah all so homelike and happy.

His dear old mummy too, with her innocent womanly ways, delighted with
all she saw, yet half afraid of almost everything--half afraid the
monster gum trees would fall upon her when out in the forest; half
afraid to put her feet firmly to the ground when walking, but gathering
up her skirts gingerly, and thinking every withered branch was a snake;
half afraid the howling dingoes would come down in force at night, as
wild wolves do on Russian wastes, and kill and eat everybody; half
afraid of the most ordinary good-natured-looking black fellow; half
afraid of even the pet kangaroo when he hopped round and held up his
chin to have his old-fashioned neck stroked; half afraid--but happy, so
happy nevertheless, because she had all she loved around her.

Gentleman Craig was most deferential and attentive to Mrs Broadbent,
and she could not help admiring him--indeed, no one could--and quite
approved of Elsie's choice; though, mother-like, she thought the girl
far too young to marry yet, as the song says.

However, they were not to be married yet quite.  There was a year to
elapse, and a busy one it was.  First and foremost, Craig took the
unfortunate Findlayson's farm.  But the old steading was allowed to go
to decay, and some one told me the other day that there is now a genuine
ghost, said to be seen on moonlight nights, wandering round the ruined
pile.  Anyhow, its associations were of far too terrible a character for
Craig to think of building near it.

He chose the site for his house and outbuildings near the creek and the
spot where they had bivouacked before the murder was discovered.  It was
near here too that Craig had made his firm resolve to be a free man--
made it and kept it.  The spot was charmingly beautiful too; and as his
district included a large portion of the forest, he commenced clearing
that, but in so scientific and tasteful a manner that it looked, when
finished, like a noble park.

During this year Squire Broadbent also became a squatter.  From Squire
to Squatter may sound to some like a come-down in life; but really
Broadbent did not think so.

He managed to buy out a station immediately adjoining Archie's, and when
he had got fairly established thereon he told his brother Ramsay that
fifteen years had tumbled off his shoulders all in a lump--fifteen years
of care and trouble, fifteen years of struggle to keep his head above
water, and live up to his squiredom.

"I'm more contented now by far and away," he told his wife, "than I was
in the busy, boastful days before the fire at Burley Old Farm; so, you
see, it doesn't take much in this world to make a man happy."

Rupert did not turn squatter, but missionary.  It was a great treat for
him to have Etheldene to ride with him away out into the bush whenever
he heard a tribe had settled down anywhere for a time.  Etheldene knew
all their ways, and between the two of them they no doubt did much good.

It is owing to such earnest men as Rupert that so great a change has
come over the black population, and that so many of them, even as I
write, sit humbly at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in their right mind.
To quote the words of a recent writer: "The war-paints and weapons for
fights are seen no more, the awful heathen corroborees have ceased, the
females are treated with kindness, and the lamentable cries, accompanied
by bodily injuries, when death occurred, have given place to Christian
sorrow and quiet tears for their departed friends."

It came to pass one day that Etheldene and Archie, towards the end of
the year, found themselves riding alone, through scrub and over plain,
just as they were that day they were lost.  The conversation turned
round to Rupert's mission.

"What a dear, good, young man your brother is, Archie!" said the girl.

"Do you really love him?"

"As a brother, yes."

"Etheldene, have him for a brother, will you?"

The rich blood mounted to her cheeks and brow.  She cast one half-shy,
half-joyful look at Archie, and simply murmured, "Yes."

It was all over in a moment then.  Etheldene struck her horse lightly
across the crest with the handle of her stock whip, and next minute both
horses were galloping as if for dear life.

When Archie told Rupert how things had turned out, he only smiled in his
quiet manner.

"It is a queer way of wooing," he said; "but then you were always a
queer fellow, Archie, and Etheldene is a regular Bush baby, as Craig
calls her.  Oh, I knew long ago she loved you!"

At the year's end then both Elsie and Etheldene were married, and
married, too, at the same church in Sydney from which Bob led Sarah, his
blushing bride.  It might not have been quite so wild and daft a
wedding, but it was a very happy one nevertheless.

No one was more free in blessing the wedded couples than old Kate.  Yes,
old as she was, she had determined not to be left alone in England.

We know how Bob spent his honeymoon.  How were the new young folks to
spend theirs?  Oh, it was all arranged beforehand!  And on the very
morning of the double marriage they embarked--Harry and Bob going with
them for a holiday--on board Captain Vesey's pretty yacht, and sailed
away for England.  Etheldene's dream of romance was about to become a
reality; she was not only to visit the land of chivalry, but with Archie
her husband and hero by her side.

The yacht hung off and on the shore all day, as if reluctant to leave
the land; but towards evening a breeze sprang up from the west, the
sails filled, and away she went, dancing and curtseying over the water
like a thing of life.

The sunset was bewitchingly beautiful; the green of the land was changed
to a purple haze, that softened and beautified its every outline; the
cloudless sky was clear and deep; that is, it gave you the idea you
could see so far into and through it.  There was a flush of saffron
along the horizon; above it was of an opal tint, with here and there a
tender shade of crimson--only a suspicion of this colour, no more; and
apparently close at hand, in the east, were long-drawn cloudlets of
richest red and gold.

Etheldene looked up in her husband's face.

"Shall we have such a sky as that to greet our arrival on English
shores?" she said.

Archie drew her closer to his side.

"I'm not quite sure about the sky," he replied, shaking his head and
smiling, "but we'll have a hearty English welcome."

And so they had.





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large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



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