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Title:      The Swampers (1897)
Author:     Nisbet, Hume
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eBook No.:  0602701.txt
Edition:    1
Language:   English
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Date first posted:          July 2006
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Title:      The Swampers (1897)
Author:     Nisbet, Hume





THE SWAMPERS
A Romance of the Westralian Goldfields




TO DAVID CHRISTIE MURRAY, NOVELIST.
I BEG TO DEDICATE THIS ROMANCE
WITH PROFOUND ADMIRATION FOR HIS GENIUS.




PREFACE.

I HAVE to thank the following gentlemen for the prompt and hearty
assistance which they have given me in books, maps, and personal
information about West Australia and its Goldfields at the present hour.
Having taken full advantage of such valuable information, I trust that
the reader will find this romance correct in its local colouring and
statistics. To Mr. Albert F. Calvert, M.E., F.R.G.S., &c., &c., Author
of "The Exploration of Australia"; "Western Australia and its
Goldfields"; Editor and Proprietor of The West Australian Review, for
his magnificent and exhaustive works and maps. Also to those other
friends, Messrs. Critchill; Ernest H. Gough; Graham Hill; Philip
Mennell, F.R.G.S., &c., Author of "The Coming Colony," "Dictionary of
Australian Biography," &c., &c., and Editor and Proprietor of The
British Australasian; also to Mr. John Wilson, first Mayor of
Kalgourlie. To all these gentlemen and others who have supplied me with
information I beg to offer my most grateful thanks.

I must appeal to the good sense of my West Australian readers, and trust
that they will not try to see real personages in my fictitious
creations. Kalgourlie is as yet a small, if it is a rapidly-growing
town, and each resident is known to his fellow-townsmen. The
peculiarities of mankind are so mixed and generalized that it is not at
all difficult for a reader to fix an original for my fancy study in any
spot where men and women congregate. This habit, so unfair and crippling
to an author's liberty of action, I must particularly warn you against
indulging in. I built the "Chester Hotel" entirely at my own expense,
and as my own speculation. The material was not Hessian, but a finer web
of stuff which I spun from my own brain. Sarah Hall, Rosa Chester,
Anthony Vandyke Jenkins, Bob Wallace, and my other characters, all came
from the same source, and are as Mercutio says:

"The children of an idle brain, Begot of nothing but vain fantasy."

Therefore you must take them as such, and not localize or incarnate one
of them. On this privileged ground I strictly take my stand.

Regarding any mild criticism that I may have written throughout these
pages concerning the fair City of Sydney, I have no apology to make
other than that perhaps my various visits may have been timed
unfortunately when the inhabitants were suffering from some insensate
epidemic. Perhaps they have lucid intervals between these public and
social epidemics of folly and unreason, and that during these intervals
they act like their neighbours, Victoria, Queensland, and South
Australia, but if so, I have not had the good fortune to land amongst
them at such happy intervals; therefore I can only speak as I find
people, and the natives of Sydney have not impressed me so favourably as
their neighbour colonials of Melbourne, Brisbane, and Adelaide have
done, either for their probity, generosity, or common sense. As for that
worm "Puffadder," with his blasphemous, brutal, and poisonous organ, I
do not think any self-respecting colonial will care how much a reptile
like this is criticised or censured. He may spit out his venom, but he
would do that under any circumstances, particularly when his victim's
back is turned upon him. His unsexed contributors may also snarl and
yelp, while his senile admirers, who have debauched the little brains
which originally they may have possessed, with his absinthe doses,
doubtless will gnash their gums and cry for gore, but as "Walker,
London," remarks: "That is noth ink."

My story is before you, sympathetic or hostile readers, and I trust it
may interest you with all its faults. The characters are purely
imaginative, but some of the incidents are drawn from facts, and in the
descriptions I have done my utmost to be exact and realistic.

THE AUTHOR.



CONTENTS.

I.--THE DEN OF THE MODERN WIZARD
II.--A CONFIDENTIAL CONVERSATION
III.--THE NEW ESTABLISHMENT
IV.--TREASURE TROVE
V.--JACK MILTON AT HOME
VI.--JACK MILTON'S ESCAPE
VII.--THE INTERVIEW
VIII.--COUSINS
IX.--JACK MILTON WAITS
X.--AN UNPLEASANT DREAM
XI.--ON THE WALLABY TRACK
XII.--ANTHONY VANDYKE JENKINS
XIII.--THE PROSPERITY AND FALL OF JENKINS
XIV.--JACK MILTON MAKES FOR THE WEST
XV.--THE DREAM MINE
XVI.--ROSA'S SECOND MARRIAGE
XVII.--TRACKED
XVIII.--THE OLD, OLD GAME
XIX.--JACK MILTON IS TAKEN IN CHARGE
XX.--ROSA GETS INITIATED IN MINING PARLANCE
XXI.--JACK MILTON AND HIS COLOURED FRIENDS
XXII.--TO KALGOURLIE
XXIII.--THE SWAMPERS
XXIV.--CHESTER TAKES A MONTH'S LEAVE
XXV.--JACK MILTON'S DISCOVERY
XXVI.--THE COURTSHIP OF BOB WALLACE
XXVII.--MEETING OF JACK AND ROSA
XXVIII.--JACK MILTON AT KALGOURLIE
XXIX.--"WHERE THE WEARY CEASE TO TROUBLE AND THE WICKED ARE AT REST"



THE SWAMPERS




Chapter I. The Den of the Modern Wizard.

PROFESSOR MORTIKALI sat in his inner sanctum waiting for customers.

It was a hot day, during the early portion of the month of March, 1896,
and although the Professor had all his blinds drawn down, and occupied
the coolest corner of the Arcade, still he could not shut out those
intense waves of Sydney heat that swept in, between the crevices of the
doors and windows, although he managed to shut out a good deal of the
intense light.

Never had such a hot season been in the memory of the oldest colonist as
this heat wave of 1896. From January 1st to the 24th it had ranged from
112 degrees to 129 degrees in the shade in New South Wales, and people
had dropped dead wholesale throughout the colony. In many of the inland
townships the people had been panic-stricken, and fish were killed in
the creeks and lakes by tons upon tons. It had cooled off a little by
March, yet there were days, and this was one of them, when the heat fury
of January seemed to repeat itself.

The Professor liked shadow, for he was a modern wizard and his business
did not require much light; indeed the less light that was thrown upon
it, the better it was conducted; therefore, it was not often that the
green venetian blinds were drawn up.

The Professor was at present resting on his oars, for it was the slack
hour of the day, the hour when no one, unless absolutely forced to come
out, would care to face the terrific sun-glare of mid-day.

The Professor was of that peculiar craft which flourished so much during
the earlier centuries, and has more or less flourished ever since under
various disguises. He belonged to the tribe of the witch of Endor, that
profession of seers and fore-tellers whom King Saul tried to put down in
his vigorous and virtuous years, and afterwards weakly consulted in his
decline; the same craft which that modern Solomon, King James I. of
England, so rigorously hunted to death, and which might have died
naturally only for the efforts of the Pschychological Society, and that
able editor of Border-land, the discoverer of the fourth dimension.

It is not a profitable profession in merry old England, where the police
imitate the tactics of Kings Saul and James, and take as much delight in
making raids, as lively terriers do in hunting out rabbits. But in
progressive New South Wales, where convict laws still hold sway, and men
are hanged for attempted murder, while judges dictate to jurymen, as the
celebrated Jeffreys used to do, where even the judges themselves consult
the witches; fortune-telling and witchcraft thrive wonderfully, even in
the midst of the universal depression which of late has fallen upon the.
colonies.

In the Sydney of to-day you may see, amongst other closed places of
business, the shutters up of many public houses and bars; the reason of
this is that they have been raided by the police, because the
proprietors have been selling poison undiluted to their customers, and
although the colonised stomach can stand a good deal in the way of
vitriol, and blue-stone, yet when the landlord omits to give his
customers even the flavour of brandy, rum or whisky, then his fate as a
landlord is decided.

They are a proud and conservative race, the New South Welshmen; they
cannot stand the slightest approach to a joke about their country. You
may abuse England or London as much as you are disposed to an
Englishman, and he will only laugh unctuously, but you must not take the
same liberty with a New South Welshman. His harbour is the most
beautiful harbour in the world. If you admit this, yet suggest that the
buildings might be just a little more classic, he will grow pale with
passion and cut you dead. If you venture to hint that morality in its
aesthetic quality is not so strictly observed amongst the politicians
and tradesmen as it might be, he will consider it time to regard you as
a dangerous person and a fit subject for the martial law that hangs
first and tries afterwards, and is still in such active force in that
sun-laved colony.

They aim to be very high-toned in Sydney, and imitate as nearly as they
can the manners of fashionable London; therefore if an accomplished
swindler or thief comes amongst them and knows his business thoroughly,
he is nearly sure to be successful, for the veneer being all that they
aspire to themselves, so are they satisfied with it in their visitors.
In Victoria and Queensland the inhabitants are less conservative and
much more level-headed.

Professor Mortikali was a wonderful man in his way, and pursued various
branches as a livelihood. On his brass plate was written: "Professor
Mortikali, Psychometrist, Pneumatologist, Futurist and Magneto-Electric
Healer." He called his establishment the Egyptian-Mystic Hall and Health
Sanatorium, and had on his bills a wide range of subjects, from
character delineating by Phrenology and Physiognomy, Fortune-telling by
Cards, Palmistry or Astrology, with the art of healing all diseases by
Hypnotic treatment.

There are hundreds in the same line of business throughout Sydney, and
all apparently flourishing more or less, despite the dull times. In the
Arcade were three rivals, while along the principal streets every fifth
or sixth shop bears the sign of a Futurist, or an Astrologer, with all
the paraphernalia exhibited in the windows which one expects to witness
in the windows of a wizard.

In the newspapers also of this enlightened and conservative country,
along with singular gems of poetry, in the form of memoriam verses, you
may read every day, advertisements like the following: "Wanted, a
loving, clairvoyant, test-lady, with means preferred, as life partner,
by Magnetic Healer, etc.," and yet no one laughs either at the verses or
the advertisements, they have become so accustomed to both. But they get
terribly vicious if any stranger attempts to criticise their
politicians, or their professionals.

Professor Mortikali had his front window artfully set out, a plaster
cast of the hand of Deeming the murderer, with casts and photographs of
actors, clergymen, and other distinct types were displayed. A
phrenological head stood on a stucco pillar, and the complete skeleton
of a baby dangled inside a glass case, specimens of snakes and tape
worms were coiled in bottles, or dried and stuffed, and grouped about,
while the invariable alligator, which Hogarth has accustomed us to in
his pictures of the Quack, was likewise displayed.

A curtain, half-drawn back from the doorway, revealed the image of a
gipsy holding out her hand to be crossed with silver, while at a little
counter sat an attractive-looking girl, costumed in black velvet,
scarlet facings, and glittering metallic discs, such as we were used to
gaze on at "fairs" in our youthful days. There was no attempt at
advancement, or dressing up to date in this establishment. The
old-fashioned arrangements appeared to answer the purpose perfectly, the
same amount of rouge and powder on the face of this attractive handmaid
to the wizard, the generous display of snowy neck, and the usual
surroundings of curtains, herbs and stuffed monstrosities, they were all
there, while inside waited the Futurist and Faith-Healer.

At this precise hour of mid-day the Professor and his handmaid were both
similarly occupied in discussing their lunch. Hers was a slight
refection, as befitted a Sydney nymph of her light and powdery nature. A
couple of tarts, and an ice-cream, which she had procured at the next
door. The ice she had finished first, before it became quite liquid, and
now she was leisurely discussing the fruit and pastry.

Inside the sanctum the Professor was having a heavier meal, as befitted
the nerve wear and tear of his occupation; an underdone beef-steak with
a chunk of bread and a tankard of colonial beer, vulgarly called
"swanky."

The Professor was a man well advanced in years, of an ordinary height
and inclined to run to stoutness. He wore his iron-grey tresses long, so
that they fell over his back in a lank and straggly fashion, his beard
and moustache also were grey and mangy, while his rubicund complexion,
commonplace features, and very small eyes, reminded one somehow of a
mendicant friar of the Middle Ages.

His small eyes were crow-like and rather vacant in their expression, and
what linen he displayed was of the dirtiest and most rumpled
description. His garments also, although at one date black, had
evidently been purchased at a second-hand establishment, and were both
frayed and rusty as well as badly fitting, and being originally of the
dress-suit order, gave him the appearance of a broken-down waiter at a
poor restaurant.

He was not a wholesome-looking object, while he wolfed his steak as a
dog might devour its meal; the steak was badly cut and indifferently
cooked, the intense heat of the atmosphere, the perspiration running
from the Professor's forehead and cheeks in dirty rivulets, and his
dirty hands helping the fork. Ignorant, low-bred, square-pointed
fingers, unclipped nails in deepest mourning, and, added to this, that
vacuous mouth, with the slobbering lips taking in the steak with such
evident unction, and the solitary unwashed tooth emphasizing that moist
unction, rendered this hypnotic disciple of "Border-land" rather
gruesome than pleasant.

As he sat, he scratched his head sometimes with his dirty nails,
sometimes with his greasy fork; he also fumbled suggestively about his
half-opened waistcoat as one is used to see tramps do when they fancy
themselves unobserved; altogether, this Sydney interpreter of
"Border-land" lore gave one the decided impression of that drawing in
Punch, by Harry Furness, of the man who wrote about Pears' Soap. "Two
years ago I used your soap, since when I have used no other." Harry
Furness's model was attentuated and unkempt, but fancy a professor of
mystic lore, in a badly-fitting waiter's dress-suit; the knees baggy,
and the vest over tight. The angry buttons threatening to sever. Burly
as a friar of old and soft as a retired bantam boxer, with a vacuous
countenance, and crow-like eyes, always on the goggle, and you have the
Professor, or ancient wizard up to date.

Supplement this with the awful heat of a Sydney mid-summer day, an
underdone steak cut in colonial fashion, and cooked ditto; the natural
perspiration and fumes of an unwashable tramp, decked up in an old dress
suit, and you may realise the picture of this High Priest of the temple
of mystery without further description.

He had just finished his gorge and imbibed his last drop of colonial
"swanky," when the hand-maid popped in her head, and shedding a tiny
stream of pearl powder, which after all sweetened the apartment a
little, announced in brassy tones: "Are ye done, Perfessor, for there's
a laydy a-waiting ter consult yer?"

The Professor bundled his plates and beer-mug to a side table, where he
covered them with an old newspaper, then dusting the crumbs aside with
his hand, and wiping his hands again on the tails of his coat he
produced a greasy pack of cards, and said with calm dignity: "Yes,
Matilder, show the party in."

The party entered, a young woman of about twenty-five, fashionably
dressed and according to the season, in virgin white, with a Donna-like
bunch of snowy ostrich feathers in her hat, and a cloud or dust-veil
about her face; she was slim-built and graceful in figure, and the
Professor, who loved the fair sex, took notice that she had a wealth of
golden-brown hair under the drooping feathers.

"Sit down, my dear," he said with a smirk on his sweaty and greasy red
face, and the party sat and silently looked at him through her cloud.
"Is it your fortune ye want to know? By the cards or by the hand?--or
are you in any other trouble that a man of my experience can help you?
Girls will be girls, you know, my dear, therefore you may safely give me
your confidence, for it won't be abused."

He bared his lonely tooth and regarded her with a senile smile, while
his crow-like, vacant gaze tried to get behind the cloud.

The visitor laughed softly yet enjoyably, then after a pause she
replied, removing her white gloves at the same time:

"No, old man, I don't want any confidence business. I only want you to
tell my fortune by my hands and by the cards."

"It's unlucky, they say, to do both at one sitting, yet, if you turn
round and go to the door and cross back again, that will break the
charm. Which will you have first?"

"My hand, Professor; tell me what I've done and what I'm going to do,
and then I can ask you other questions when we come to the cards."

She held out her hands, palms upward, to him, while he took a magnifying
glass, and after giving himself a preliminary hitch and scratch, he
stooped over them to examine.

Shapely hands they were, with tapering long fingers and fleshy palms,
which had hard and well-defined lines running across them. "You are
married," the Professor said after a pause. "Well, what of that?"

"No more than you think of it yourself, my dear. You have had some
troubles in the past, and have had some adventures; but your marriage
has not been a happy one, there are no children, and you'd like to be
free of your bond." "Yes, and shall I?" "I see a death here, and a
little trouble, but your line of life is clear." "Shall I be married
again?" "Yes, and have much prosperity in the future." "That'll do, when
will it come off?" "How old are you?" "Twenty-six." "You'll be married
again before you are twenty-eight." "Budgerrie for you, old man; now
let's try the cards." She rose abruptly and went to the door, returning
in a moment, while the Professor arranged his cards.

"There's an old fellow waiting for his fortune, at the door, Professor.
Will you take him or me first?" she asked as she returned.

"Ladies first, of course," answered the Professor gallantly, again
baring his solitary tooth. "Drive ahead then, for I am in a hurry," said
the young woman curtly. "Shuffle and cut." After she had done so, he
began to read:

"There is a dark man here close beside you, your husband, I should say,
but you turn your back on him--you take hearts, do you not?" "Yes,"
replied the young woman. "There's a diamond man facing you, that is the
one you fancy." "Go on."

"You'll get that diamond man, but the club man will cause you some
trouble; there's a death here----" "To the club man?" eagerly. "I don't
know yet. Shuffle again and I'll tell you."

Thrice did the cloud-veiled woman, with the strong white hands, shuffle
the cards, and then he answered her curiosity and desires.

"Yes, the club man will pass from your path, and the diamond man is the
winner." "Thank Heaven for that!" as she paid him his fee and went
forth, brushing by the white-haired customer who was waiting his turn.

She did not look at the white-haired customer, and she was too closely
veiled for any one to see her features, yet he glanced after her through
his blue glasses in a curious way as she went out of the doorway, then
he sought the Professor.

A tall and singularly powerful-looking man he was, this second visitor,
dressed in thin grey serge, smooth faced, and with a shock of white hair
that fell about his shoulders after the style of the ex-Premier of New
South Wales--that leonine and doggerel verse writer, Sir Henry Parkes.
Indeed for a moment the Professor thought that this much-married
politician must have shaved, and mounted blue glasses as a sort of
disguise, but he soon recovered himself, with the assurance gained from
knowledge that this eminent man would never sink his personality, no
matter what position he chose to take up, therefore he became composed
and ready for his visitor. "I want my future read," said the stranger.
"By the palm, or by the cards?" "The hand will do." He stretched a
sinewy hand out to the Professor's magnifying glass. "You've experienced
troubles in the past." "Yes."

"But you have a singularly open and confiding as well as a generous
nature. I may say that you are a man who has been imposed upon by false
friends, and may be again if you are not particularly careful. You----"
"What a confounded old fraud you are to be sure, Jeremiah Judge."

The stranger, as he uttered these words, his left hand still lying under
the Professor's magnifying glass, removed with his right hand the blue
spectacles and snowy wig, and revealed a hard-faced but handsome young
man, with short cropped black hair, and glittering black eyes. "Fancy me
being sucked in by anyone!"

The Professor fell back on his chair, confounded, his crow-blue eyes
almost starting out of his head as he uttered the feeble cry: "Jack
Milton, by George!"



Chapter II. A Confidential Conversation.

"YES, you genial old humbug, I've come back once more to do some
business in Sydney."

As he spoke, Jack Milton, as he had just been called, leaned back in his
chair and regarded the pneumatologist with a benevolent, yet
contemptuous air of patronage.

"Still trying your best in your small way to do the public, I see,
Jeremiah, and doing it shabbily at that, per usual."

The psychometrist got upon his ambling legs, with a gushing air of
welcome illuminating his steaming face, and parting his vacuous mouth.

"My dear, dear boy, who'd have expected to see you here? I thought your
time wasn't up for another twelve months; how have you done it?" "Ah! I
behaved myself and kidded the sky-clerk, therefore got my ticket." "What
was the little item?"

"A mere trifle in the past, something I did in Melbourne long ago, and
which I had forgotten, or I should not have gone there quite so openly,
but the 'Tecks'remembered me and laid me up by the heels for a spell;
however, it wasn't an unmixed evil, for being in lavender gave me the
repose that I required, and put the Sydney scenters quite off my track."

"Good--very good," chuckled the Professor, rubbing his hands together
and gazing admiringly on the powerful figure before him. "You'll find
hosts of friends who are glad to see Jack Milton amongst them again, and
none more so than your 'umble servant."

While the old humbug was speaking, the young man carefully replaced his
white wig and blue spectacles, and became once more a kind of benevolent
replica of a clean-shaved Sir Henry Parkes.

"I have made an appointment with my lawyer to meet me here, Jeremiah--or
as you call yourself now, Professor Mortikali. I thought it safer than
at his own office." "Much safer, and more secluded." "So I thought."
"But how did you find me out, Jack, eh?"

"Well you are not exactly the kind of coon to give an 'agent'much
trouble, if he wanted to get on your tracks; I knew you'd be up to some
business of this kind where spirits or mesmerism had a share in it----"
"Call it hypnotism, Jack, or psychometry." "Yes, that's exactly how I
spotted you, old boy. I looked out all the sign-boards, as I came along,
for the most jaw-cracking words. I knew your weakness for that sort of
thing. Palmist or Futurist wouldn't be good enough for you, therefore
when I came to Professor Mortikali, Psychometrist, Pneumatologist, &c.,
I felt sure I had run my fox to his hole, and I wasn't far out."

"No, Jack, you'd make a first-rate detective, if you wasn't better than
that, a first-class----"

"Crib-cracker, eh? It takes a thief to catch a thief, but I don't belong
to that race who can utilize their experience to snare their own kind. I
have always been and always shall be grit to my pals. Is this much of a
trade?"

He looked about him with a little disgust, and at the shabby Professor
with a humorous air of pity.

"Fairly," observed the pyschometrist. "I hold my own; this is the slack
time of the day, but at night they come up wonderful, considering."

"You haven't got a fashionable class of customers I can see, or you'd be
better togged up. Never mind! I'll put you up to something good before
many days are over our heads."

"No, Jack, no, I'd rather not!" cried the Professor nervously. "I don't
mind helping you when the game is safe, but you are so reckless, my dear
boy, and don't at all consider personal safety. Now you see, I'm doing
small things, and the police don't touch me at 'em, but one never knows
where he'd land, if this business spread out into many more new
branches."

"Bah! The business I'm going to set you up is strictly in your own line,
Psychometry and the other P. H.'s. You're too cramped here. You want
bigger and more fashionable premises, and to get yourself togged up more
like an orthodox medical Professor, and less like a broken-down waiter,
and I've spotted the shop that'll suit you to a nicety. Do you know that
place where 'Brisco'the jeweller used to be, in George Street?" "With
the bank on one side, and the pawn-broker on the other?"

"Exactly. Would those diggings suit you to open a branch establishment
of the Faith Healing and Fortune-telling fake?"

"What d'ye mean, Jack Milton? D'ye know them 'ere premises will cost in
rent and taxes near to a thousand a year?" "Well!"

"And the fixing of them up properly, with furniture, carpets and sofas,
&c., &c., will come to nigh five hundred quid."

"You've hit it pretty nearly, I should say, to do it properly," replied
Jack calmly. "You'll want some attractive-looking girls, with a little
more style than this one here, and some respectable toggery for yourself
Yes, you'll need all that money, and more perhaps, till business comes
in." "Yes, and who's a-going to pay for all this outlay."

"I will, my sage psychometrist. I think there are vast possibilities in
this business of yours if properly worked in this city, and as I happen
to have the sponduloux, or will have if my lawyer, who'll be here
presently, isn't a fool as well as a rogue, I'll set you up and be your
sleeping partner. I'm going to make a boom in the prediction business.
We'll take in the national 'sports'and give the 'juggins'tips from
spirit land; we'll pitch our placards and bills about like snow-flakes
and make the press-men our serfs by advertising; but, you must try to
acquire the art of washing yourself and changing your linen at least
three times a week while the hot weather lasts, or it'll be all bunkum.
Do you savy, my odoriferous psychometrist--don't you see what I mean?
Plenty of water, Pears' soap, fresh linen, and a trifle of Jockey Club
or Cherry Blossom for the sake of business, also a nail brush and a
little attention to the nails, at present in deepest mourning for your
rubbishy sins, which ain't worth so much respect; lemons are first-class
articles for cleaning the hands and nails; and the Sydney waterworks are
lavish with their supply."

"I ain't at all averse to washing in the warm weather," observed the
Professor with an injured air. "I likewise like a frequent change of
shirts and collars, and feel kindly drawn to clerical neck-cloths, if I
had the articles to work on."

"You'll have them. Meantime, I want you to keep out your customers, or
read their fortunes at your outside counter, this afternoon while my man
of business is engaged with me, and we'll arrange all that afterwards.
By Jove! you'd be a great man, Professor, if you had a fair chance, and
I'm going to give you that chance."

"Will you have anything to drink now?" said the Professor respectfully,
for Jack Milton had spoken to him in the lordly manner of one who has
means at command, and the panderer reverenced him accordingly.

"Not at present, I have a lawyer to talk to and I bet he won't imbibe
until he has finished this interview, and neither shall I. I say, do you
know anything about my wife?" "I don't know exactly where she lives, of
course, but I have seen her." "Lately?" "Yes, just recently, I may say."
"Yes--yes; and is she looking well--my Rosa, my darling?"

A wonderful change took place in the disguised housebreaker as he asked
these questions; he was no longer cynical nor supercilious, but eager
and boyish, while by contrast the Professor seemed to become ill at ease
and constrained. "You are proud of her yet, I see, Jack." "Of course,
why should I not be?--my wife, the woman I love and have always kept as
well as I could. She doesn't know what I have had to do for a living and
to keep her comfortable, unless my lawyer has proved a traitor; which I
hope he hasn't for his own sake--tell me, what do you know about her?"
"Did you see the young lady in white who went out of here as you
entered?" "Yes." "That was your wife."

"I thought there was something familiar in her figure and walk, but what
was she doing here?" "She came to have her fortune read."

"I know, the little stupid, she wanted to learn when her husband would
be home again, eh?"

The Professor looked at the eager face before him as if he were making
up his mind to say something difficult, and then he replied: "Yes, that
was what she wanted to know."

"Of course, and you gave the little jade a lot of idle promises and sent
her away happy?"

"Yes, in the usual fashion. I promised her a lot according to her
desires, and sent her away fairly well pleased." "Good! I'll make you a
true prophet this time, you old scoundrel, ha, ha, ha!" At this moment
the hand-maid put in her head, and said: "There's a gent outside as have
called by appointment."

"That's my man," cried Jack cheerily. "Show him in, Molly, my darling,
and you," to the Professor, "clear out till I'm done with him."

As he spoke, there entered a well set-up man of about thirty-three, with
a blonde moustache and close-cropped fair hair, blue eyes a trifle
closely set together, and a vulture-like nose. He was a keen-looking,
business-like man, well dressed and well groomed, and one who would not
be likely to let scruples stand in the way of personal advantage.

At his watch chain he carried, as an appendage, a pair of compasses and
square, his neck-tie pin was also adorned with the same quaint design,
while on the fourth finger of his left hand he wore a plain gold
signet-ring with the same device; evidently showing to all the world
that he was not at all ashamed of the society to which he belonged.

As he entered, he looked at the white wig and blue spectacles, with an
air of perplexity for an instant, until the wearer of these gave him a
quick sign, then he advanced smilingly, and said: "How do you do, Mr.
Milton?" "All right, my friend, sit down." The Professor had cleared out
of the sanctum by this time, dropping the heavy curtain behind him, and
leaving the lawyer and his client together. "Well, Mr. Chester, have you
carried out my instructions?"

"Yes, Milton, I have carried out your instructions to the letter, and, I
need not tell you, at considerable risk to myself."

The lawyer, now that they were alone, spoke in a severe tone of voice,
as one might use to a criminal whose case is in hand, but who has placed
himself beyond the reach of ordinary courtesy, while the ticket-of-leave
man listened meekly and without appearing to observe the curtness.

"I have invested your money, as you desired, in my own name. I do not
ask you how it was made, I have no desire to know, and I am happy to say
it is yielding fair returns, even in these depressed times. Your wife is
under the impression that you are still in the South Seas,
treasure-seeking, and I have delivered regularly to her the letters you
forwarded to me." "You have been a true friend to me, Chester. Where is
my wife now living?" "With her parents; they have removed lately to the
Glebe; this is her address." He handed an envelope over as he spoke, and
waited further enquiries. "Is--is Rosa well?"

"Yes; last time I saw my cousin, she was very well indeed. Do you intend
to visit her at once? For candidly, I don't think it would be advisable
if you desire to keep your past a secret from the poor girl."

"No; I have some business to do before I can see her, or let her know I
am in Sydney. When I am ready I should like you still to act as my
friend and break the tidings of my arrival to her gently, as I don't
want to agitate her. We have been so long separated that it mightn't do
to jump in on her all of a sudden."

The lawyer looked at the blue spectacles demurely for a moment, and then
he said:

"That is only a right resolve on your part, and I will do all I can to
help you, not to startle Rosa."

"I am dying to see the darling, but when I next come to her I hope to be
beyond the necessity of leaving her any more. I have a little
speculation on hand which, if it comes off successfully, will enable me
to retire and live comfortably. Meantime----"

"Yes?"

"I require some ready money to enable me to carry out this
speculation." "How much do you require?"

"Fifteen hundred pounds for a few weeks only, and with it I hope to
clear fifty times that amount." "It is a large sum to get hold of at so
short a notice, for your property is all tied up at present; still, if
you can assure me that it is only for a few weeks and the return is
sure, I think it might be managed."

"Within a fortnight from the time I get this advance I shall be able to
place in your keeping perhaps a hundred times the amount."

"Very well; to-morrow night, I'll give you an open cheque, and an
introduction to the bank. Have you any choice of banks?" "Yes, I should
like to open an account at the 'Fiji Limited,'George Street." "Very
good, I'll see to that--what name shall I make the cheque payable to?"
"John Williams." "Any further instructions?"

"No--only, if you are near the Glebe at any time, you may say to Rosa
that you expect me back soon."

"I shall make it a point to call upon my uncle and aunt to-night, and
will deliver your message to my cousin at the same time."

"You are a good fellow, Chester, to befriend me, like this after what
I've done, and believe me, whatever happens to me I trust to be able to
keep the knowledge of it from your cousin."

"I hope so--indeed I expect so much from you, for that is only your duty
towards your innocent wife and her relations."

"Don't fear for me, I'll be secretive and game enough, Does--does Rosa
speak much about me?"

"Of course the poor child misses you dreadfully, but as I have paid her
income regularly, she is comfortable enough and not under the same
anxiety regarding ways and means as are some wives here. She looks
forward to your return as a wealthy man, and she is anticipating a good
time in England and the Continent, when that comes off."

"She'll have it too, the angel, whoever suffers, by George! That puts
new blood into me, and my next diving operation will be a big success,
you bet."

"Good-bye for the present," said the lawyer with a smile, as he rose
briskly. "I'll come here with the cheque to-morrow night about nine
o'clock--you'll be here?" "Yes--Good-bye."

Mr. Chester took up his slate tinted kid gloves with his stick and hat,
and quitted his companion with a quick step, without shaking hands with
him or looking back, while the disguised man watched his retreat with
eyes that showed a little moisture behind his darkened spectacles.

"He is a fine fellow, if a bit cold and stiff with me; many a one in his
position would have plundered me wholesale, with all that money at his
discretion, while I'd only have had to grin and bear it; but Arthur
Chester wouldn't do that. I expect he thinks one thief is enough in the
family; besides, he is too fond of Rosa to do her a wrong."

His strong and resolute head drooped for a moment on his hand, as he
thought on the Sydney girl, whose love he had won under false pretences,
and away from this same cousin. True, the family had been poor enough
when he first came amongst them as a man with an assured income, a
fiction he had managed to keep up, with the aid of Arthur Chester, ever
since. Arthur Chester, who had only been a subordinate until, with those
ill-gotten gains, he was able to begin business for himself, for Jack
Milton had been a daring and successful disciple of the late Charles
Peace, except for that slight mistake of his in Victoria. He had been
prudent enough to work alone as much as possible and confide a few of
his secrets and what money he stole to this cousin of his wife, only
when forced to do so.

"I wonder if it is principle that makes Chester so stand-offish with me;
he was glad enough to borrow my money when he was a clerk, and the
receiver isn't much better, if any, than the thief; I hadn't been in
jail then though, at least he didn't know it if I had, and he pretends,
rarely, not to know where my money comes from. Perhaps he is jealous of
me with Rosa, and I cannot blame him if he is, for who could help being
in love with that little angel?"

The Professor broke in here upon the cogitations of the housebreaker,
and instantly his careless mocking manner returned.

"Well, you old scarecrow, I've settled matters with my lawyer and we are
to have the supplies needful for taking those premises, so now I am off
to arrange with the landlord about terms and occupation. You keep out of
it for the present until I can make you look respectable, if that is
possible, and brace up your tottering mind to be in possession and a
fashionable soothsayer by the end of the week."

With these bantering remarks, he put on his soft hat and sauntered out
to the blazing sunshine leaving the foolish psychometrist in a rapture
of admiration and rosy visions.



Chapter III. The New Establishment.

IF the Professor had reason to be a proud man, four days afterwards, he
could hardly be said to be a completely happy one. He was possessed of
vanity and ignorance enough to have accepted any post, but the position
wanted grappling with and getting accustomed to. These daily ablutions
were decidedly irksome, and after being accustomed to limp linen, to be
imprisoned in stiffly-starched shirts and collars was a trial, to say
nothing about the soft carpets, and the flashy furniture, all on the
hire system, which awed his silly soul. The habit of scratching was an
ancient one and not easy to set aside, still he did his best to live up
to his new surroundings and forego that luxury.

Jack Milton, in his character of John Williams, had engaged the servants
and young ladies to wait upon expected clients. The Professor found them
all on the spot when he arrived, with his bran new wardrobe, to take
possession. Attractive and exceedingly sharp-looking girls, in sedate
and well-fitting costumes, and a page-boy to open the door, with a face
like a knife newly ground and eyes like a snake; not many page boys,
even of the keenest colonial produce, would have had a chance with this
remarkable boy, for activity, wide-awakeness and composure. He was a
demon page, who could anticipate an order before it was half thought
out, far less expressed.

The cook and housemaid were not beautiful, but they were agile and
wonderfully constructed; quiet, freckled-faced women, who performed
their duties deftly, and moved about the house like Malays or Chinamen.
There was also a man kept on the premises to split wood in the cellar
and look after the horse and dog-cart in the yard, for the Professor was
stinted in nothing by his liberal patron; this man likewise had been
chosen for his strength of muscles rather than his good looks, and he
was very modest, for he seldom went out to the street. His duties lay
solely in the back kitchen, cellars, and yard.

The sleeping partner and financier of the business took up his abode on
the premises, and had his meals with the Professor, and generous meals
they were, both as regards viands and liquors. The Professor for the
first time in his chequered career had the delight of quaffing champagne
and burgundy with his tucker, and like the hero he was, he went into
those delights with heart-felt pleasure and thirsty energy when the
daily duties were over. Each night after the hours of consultation,
supper came on, and he never rose from that supper, but drank on, until
he found the soft carpet sufficient as a couch for the night. Jack
Milton had been correct in his estimate of the gullibility of the Sydney
people when the bait is presented to them with a blaze and glitter. In
his small and mean way the Professor had been able to keep himself
going, with the low fees asked for his priceless services, but he was
astonished now at the crowds who waited in his ante-rooms, and the
golden offerings which poured in during the fashionable hours of
consultation. As soon as the fashionables grasped the fact that such an
establishment had opened in the locality, and columns of advertisements
made them suppose that there must be money at the back of the concern,
they at once patronized it. And because it looked genuine and like a
success, the public made it so, with their generous fees. Psychometry
became a theme of conversation from Potts' Point to Botany Bay, and the
Psychometrist a decided boom. Of course this peculiarity of encouraging
and bending down to apparent success is not altogether confined to
Sydney, although in other places the public may not be quite so quickly
got at by such shams, nor so candid in their contempt for failure or
poverty.

"Make hay while your sun shines," Jack would say as he roused up the
Professor from his hog-like repose each morning and superintended his
bath and dressing. "Get as drunk as you like when business is over, but
you must look capable to use the rake during the day."

Yet although he was so strict with Mortikali, the sleeping partner,
after he had braced up and set the fraudulent machine going, would prove
his position in the firm by going off to his own bed and sleeping for
the best part of the day. It was astonishing what a quantity of sleep he
could do with. He said that he did not sleep well at nights, and that
was why he took so much of it during the day. Certainly in the mornings
he did look worn and wearied enough to justify his assertion that he
could not sleep well at nights.

"I'll have to put you under my magnetic treatment, my boy, if you don't
get better. Let me give you a few passes now," remarked the Professor
when he had picked himself up from the floor and cleared his muddled
faculties somewhat with a shower-bath. "Them wines do pour the illectric
force into a sensitive like me; I felt all of a tingle this morning,
just see how my arms and hands are a-shaking; it's the healing power
a-filling me to bursting point, that's what it is; my old mother, who
was a rare mejum, used to tell me, I had the god-like gifts to make my
fortune as a healer, and, by George! I begin to believe she was in the
right."

He was engaged, while gabbling on, in making hypnotic passes round the
recumbent head of his stalwart friend, who had pitched himself wearily
upon one of the couches in their private dining room. "So your mother
was a mejum, was she?" sleepily answered the drowsy Jack. "Ay, one of
the right old school, and no gammon about her; she wouldn't give a
sance for nothink, not she, like as some of them blooming fools do now.
Her familiar spurruts only worked for the  s. d."

"Good old party, and what about your wife and family--where have you
left them? Eh?"

"Don't mention them," replied the Psychometrist with vicious emphasis.
"I have cast them out of my heart for ever, leastways they chucked me
out, the unnatural mob. That woman, my wife, fell to religion--the
Methodists took her in hand and spoilt a first-rate trance mejum. She'd
have nothink to do with me afterwards, and said that my gifts came from
the devil, and what d'ye think my eldest son had the impudence to tell
me?" "I give it up."

"That I was as ignorant as an unweaned pig--there, now, what d'ye think
of that from a man's own son?"

Jack Milton, who had been gradually succumbing under his protg's
passes, or from his own fatigue, rallied a little at this, and burst
into a hearty laugh, which however he qualified by saying: "It was
cheek, and no mistake."

"What d'ye think, my boy, but that wasn't all, for he followed this
nasty remark by taking me by the scruff of my neck and pitching me into
the street, telling me never to darken the door or disgrace them again
with my lousy presence. Ah! if they could see me now, though, wouldn't
they feel ashamed."

"It's quite likely they would," murmured the patient, as he succumbed
and fell asleep.

Barney, the stable hand and wood-chopper, was like his master during
these hot mornings, and did a considerable amount of sleeping among the
straw in the stable, after he had attended to the pony and split what
wood was needed for the kitchen; however, as these were nearly all the
duties yet asked of him, no one complained about his drowsy habits. The
weather was too oppressively hot for anyone to work much, except the
Professor, until the night came, and his work was not over-taxing either
to the mind or muscles. He knew the formula of the cards, and how to
prattle about the lines of life, girdle of Venus, and mount of Mars,
with the breaks and crosses in between. His customers were also fairly
credulous and not over critical either about the predictions or manners
of the predictor. He was now well-dressed, his hair and beard were
tidily trimmed, and his surroundings were flashy, and those completed
the illusion. Each victim came to him desirous of listening, and with
wishes to be gratified, and they gave him the key to those wishes
quickly enough, therefore he sent them away happy, for he predicted
exactly what they wanted to come to pass. His fees had been raised to
suit his new surroundings, one guinea for the future, revealed either by
card or palm; four guineas if the stars were consulted, and a chart
drawn out. He generously threw in a little phrenology, palmistry, and
card shuffling along with the astrology for the same fee. His massage
and magnetic treatment was a ten-guinea per visit affair, and a course,
or series, of visits were required before success could be promised.

As we have said, the Professor became an instant and pronounced success,
for although the establishment had only been opened for six days, he had
hardly time at this stage to bolt his lunch, through the flux of
customers, while the sovereigns and shillings rolled into his coffers in
a perpetual stream. It was better than a gold mine while it lasted.

"A pity these booms are so soon over," murmured Jack Milton regretfully
to himself, as he took charge of the money each night, allowing the
Professor just enough for his daily expenses. "I might have settled down
comfortably in this business and dropped the other, but it can't go on."

Perhaps one cause of this rapid success was that this knavish and
foolish fraud of a Futurist had as firm a belief in the spirits, the
cards, palmistry and the stars as his customers had, or pretended to
have. He had before now paid his half-sovereigns to get his own future
divulged by other professors in his own craft, and they in return came
to him, now that he was successful, to see how he did it, and learn a
trick, or out of good faith, and it was his bona fide air of faith and
credence which helped to impose on others. A man must be in earnest even
in roguery, to become a success. Cynics are never successful
money-makers.

The new branch which had been added to the business, the selling of
certain "tips" for the coming races and sports, caused the Professor a
good deal of uneasiness and feeble remonstrance before he would consent
to take it up, for he knew nothing about horses, cricket adepts, or
other gambling transactions, and he said "the spurruts" were not always
to be depended on in such mundane matters. "They are tricky and play
larks at times, and then where will we be?--busted!"

But Jack was confident about the success of this branch. He knew all the
tricks of the turf and would not admit of failure. He could tell when
the spirits were likely to give false information, he said, and put them
on the right track, "so plunge, my sage, philosopher and friend, for
plunging is our game now."

The Professor yielded, as he generally had to do when the daring Jack
commanded. The first race would be over in eight more days, and this was
Friday of their second week in possession, and that must either "bust"
them up, or else draw the whole colony swarming into their net. The
Psychometrist trembled, but accepted the position, and braced up his
courage by sundry glasses of brandy and soda, while the sporting victims
came in and paid lavishly for the "certain tips," promising him the fate
of the welsher if he proved a false prophet. Each night also, while the
wearied Futurist drank himself into a blissful state of unconsciousness
with the generous juices of old France, Jack sat smoking hard, and
concocting fresh advertisements for the newspapers in the name of
"Mortikali the Great." Florid and humorous compositions, regardless of
expense, these were of Jack's, which filled whole columns, and delighted
both the readers and proprietors of the different papers, and the
editors proved their gratitude by giving the Professor and his
establishment constant pars. extra, and appreciative interviews.

"Won't all them advertisements swamp our profits, mate?" the Professor
would feebly ask.

"Not a bit of it, our arrangement is to pay at the end of the month, as
we do the furniture establishment, and we'll have lots of money by that
time." "How did you manage it?"

"Easy enough; in these dull times people are only too pleased to give
credit. I paid our landlord a month in advance, and got him down to the
Marble Hall to speak about it and my bank account which I showed him.
Free drinks at the same Marble den of Tattersall's and the
'Australian,'with a little discreet bounce, fluency of gab and display
of jewellery, drew the blinders over the eyes of the Press. They can
only see the road I lead them into now. Do you savy, old sage and
psychometrist, eh?" "You're a big man, Jack, and ought to die a
millionaire." "I ought, and I hope to live one also."

A short time afterwards, as soon as the Professor had found his
customary couch on the carpet, Jack Milton, attired in his white wig and
blue spectacles, took his usual prowl round the newspaper offices,
handing in his copy, and shouting drinks; afterwards visiting the
fashionable places of resort and paying his money like a man, amongst
both dudes and capitalists; then, on his way back, he dropped a letter
into a post pillar for Mr. Arthur Chester, solicitor.

On his return he put on an old suit and woke up the strong-armed Barney,
and went with him for an hour or two of real hard labour in the cellar,
for when they came from those underground regions, they were covered
with dirt and sweating profusely, yet both appeared satisfied.

"That job's ready at last, Barney, my boy, and to-morrow night we'll all
have to lend a hand."

"It'll be as clean a job as I ever was in, captain; when you take a
thing in hand you does it neatly."

Jack smiled at the compliment from his henchman, and after a drink of
brandy and soda, they both went like brothers into the bath-room, and,
after a good wash, for the first time during those past six days sought
their beds before daylight.

On Saturday forenoon Jack paid an early visit to the bank next door,
paying in a good number of sovereigns, and enjoying a pleasant half
hour's chat with the genial manager in his private den. The letter which
Mr. Chester received ran as follows:

"Tell Rosa and her people that I have landed in Melbourne, and will be
home on Sunday night.

"I shall also be at your house very early on Sunday morning, with the
treasure I spoke about; leave your back yard and stable doors open for
me, so that I needn't disturb the neighbours getting in, and be prepared
for me.

"Jack."

"We shall all be prepared for you, Mr. Jack," murmured Mr. Chester, with
a sinister smile, as he read and destroyed this interesting epistle.



Chapter IV. Treasure Trove.

ONE o'clock Sunday morning, and four resolute men are assembled in the
dining-room discussing steaks underdone and strong tea, for they are
different from the Professor, who lies in a hoggish state of stupor
beneath them. They have much to do to-night that will make or mar them,
and they require no wines nor spirits to brace their courage up to the
sticking point for daring robbery, or cold-blooded murder. They are
colonial born and the grandsons of convicts, inured to the sport of
hunting from their earliest years, and astute as savages on the
war-path; besides, they would rather gain their livelihood in this way,
with its deadly risks, than live by any other means. They cannot help
themselves, they are wild beasts, with a coating of craft and cunning,
bred from convict fathers and mothers, and gifted with only the one
ambition, to excel in this business.

There is not one of them who has not been state-school trained, and
educated as highly as the standards can make them. They can all spell
fairly, and can write with a flowing hand. They don't make any mistakes
in grammar, they know their geography and some have even advanced in
Euclid, but they are one and all hunters and sons of sportsmen. They
like the excitements of the chase, and they will have it, even at the
risk of their necks. Their present sports are a pawn-broker's shop and a
colonial bank that has not yet failed.

Jack Milton is the only one amongst them who has no convict antecedents.
He had become a master criminal, as Cromwell became a soldier, through
the force of circumstances, but now he dominated them. They wanted fresh
blood and a leader, for although they were wicked enough and false
enough, yet the creative and inventive genius seemed to be destroyed.
New South Wales seems always to want a leader, yet never to find one who
does not swindle the country. There are no patriots amongst them. They
cannot hit upon patriots, simply for the reason that patriots come
plainly and simply costumed and without ostentation, whereas they want a
flourish of trumpets, as the ancient Jews did when they looked towards a
Messiah. Perhaps also it is the warmth or some other degenerating
quality in the atmosphere that may be the cause of this deplorable
decadence, but although the children of the second and third generation
are wonderfully sharp, false, and crafty, they have not the quality to
grasp greatness of soul, nor that grandeur of simplicity which stamps
the hero. They can appreciate the smartness of a swindler after they are
swindled, and indeed they seem to admire this sharpness, but they cannot
comprehend an honest man. Jack Milton was a big fellow amongst them, he
could plan and execute grand coups, and he had, what they could not
exactly comprehend, a staunch interest in his friends, therefore they
appreciated his talents to plot out schemes, and get them out of the
scrapes, and they instinctively bent to the principle which they could
not understand, his good faith. Each man of that small gang would have
sold Jack Milton if it had been made worth his while, yet each man knew
that he could trust Jack Milton to a pennyweight. It takes a lot of
personality to persuade state-school trained savages to trust in anyone.

The women were there, the smart handmaids whom Jack had chosen. They
were the keenest criminals in Sydney, who had managed to escape, for six
full days, the supervision of the colonial detectives. The page boy was
a young imp who had served him on former occasions, and who could be
trusted as a setter. The cook and housemaid had discarded their
petticoats and now appeared daring young, callous cornstalks, and
sun-freckled demons who would pause at nothing.

"Girls," observed Jack when supper was finished, "you know your duty
while we work. Cecil, my son, every three minutes, when you see the
policeman approach, give us the hint, he passes and looks into the open
pawnshop every three minutes, six minutes will do our business there if
all goes well. The bank is guarded by a watchman, a housekeeper and a
confidential clerk; a dog was also there an hour ago, but Barney has
silenced him. I'll undertake to silence the watchman, the housekeeper
and the clerk. Do you require any more grub or liquor?" "No, boss, we
have had enough. We are ready."

"Come along then, get to your posts, Cecil and you girls: three quarters
of an hour are all I need to do the whole business in, the biggest in my
life."

"What about the Professor?" enquired Barney, looking down on that
prostrate hero.

"Oh, he is all safe, I dosed his last glass of Burgundy," replied Jack.
"Come on, boys, and brace yourselves up for work. The pawnshop first."

They all put crape masks over their features, by way of precaution, not
that they expected to be seen, yet still it was best to be on the safe
side.

Silently they followed one another downstairs and into the commodious
cellars of the establishment, the Professor still sleeping the sleep of
unconscious infancy, while the girls and the page boy crept outside. It
was with some pride that Barney showed them the excavations he had made
on the one side, from the cellar to the bank, and on the other from the
cellar to the pawnshop. They had the game clear before them if they
could escape the watchful gaze of the police on the one side and the
inmates on the other. Jack and Barney were the mechanical engineers of
the concern; they had bored the hole, and in a few seconds made the trap
door to admit them to the premises of the pawnbroker, then they were all
through and in the full glare of the gas light, and the open windows to
whoever passed, for the pawnbroker had no shutters.

Jack and Barney waited a second and then they rushed forward, pulling
down and piling up boxes and packages between them and the windows. In
two minutes exactly, the barricades were raised in a natural fashion,
and they could lie panting behind, while the policeman made his usual
survey.

The next portion of the work was easy as far as detection went, although
requiring immense presence of mind and personal strength.

Three great safes were standing by the walls filled with valuables and
money; but Jack Milton had his plans arranged beforehand, therefore,
getting all the clothing and soft pledges he could from the shelves, he
pitched them on the floor and then, with their crow-bars and levers they
overturned the safes, and rolling them one after the other, shot them
down into their excavated shaft, where they could break them open and
examine them at their leisure. It took the four burglars nine minutes to
remove these iron safes, that would have taken expert workmen a couple
of hours, such is the effect of sport or excitement on the spirits and
muscles of men. The other business was simple after this exploit, to
dart to the till and rifle it between the visits of the police and to
take what else was of value, leaving the show-cases untouched in the
windows. In fifteen minutes from the time they had entered the
pawnbroker's premises, the deed was completed and the pledges were their
property.

Jack Milton left Barney and the other two men to break open the safes in
the cellars while he penetrated the bank.

It was not difficult to enter, for he had undermined the place and
silenced the watchdog. He also knew where the confidential clerk and
housekeeper slept, and where he was likely to find the watchman.

One of the young men who had acted as a servant went with him, and
together they stole upon the watchman, who was fortunately nodding by
his table in an ante-room, a chloroform-saturated handkerchief soon
settled him, and then they proceeded upstairs.

Fate had gone well with Jack Milton up to now. The housekeeper was
easily managed, for she was asleep when they entered her bedroom, so
that she never knew what caused her to sink into a deeper and more
peaceful slumber, but with the confidential clerk it was otherwise.

A toothache had kept him awake that Sunday morning, so that, as the
crape-masked burglars entered the room, he leapt from his bed and
confronted them with a loud cry. Then it was all over for the
confidential clerk, for without a pause Jack rushed upon him and pinning
him up against the wall, gave him the garrotter-grip, one grasp first on
the shoulder and the elbow driven with sudden and savage force against
the larynx, silencing his voice and breaking the apple. With a gurgling
sound the poor man sank to the ground and all was quiet. Jack Milton was
a murderer.

He looked at his victim for a second with horror in his eyes, then with
a heavy groan he dragged his accomplice away and made towards the loot.
It would be time enough to think of his crime afterwards, at present his
blood was fired up for the sport.

* * * * *

The dying cry of the clerk had not reached the policeman outside, and
all the streets were peaceful on this Sabbath morning. Only Jack Milton
knew that one life had been sacrificed on this raid, and he kept that
secret to himself, so as not to disturb the unholy glee of his
confederates over their winnings.

It has been a rich loot, all in all, with the pawnbroker's pledges and
the bank hoardings, and he may now retire and exist in love and comfort
on his lion's share of the proceeds. He is a wealthy man now, with what
he has made to-night and what he had before. But that poor confidential
clerk's death has to be avenged.

It does not take long to win a battle, kill a stag, or break into a
bank; by three o'clock in the morning the confederates had divided their
loot and made all their arrangements to part company. Jack Milton has
his share, all in coins, jewels, and ingots, in his dogcart ready to
drive off, and the others are satisfied with theirs.

A boat at the wharf waits to take them off to a ship ready to sail, and
a couple of cabs, already arranged for, hang about a side street. They
are taking a parting cup, and Jack stands amongst them silently, and
thinking of that dead clerk, whom the others know nothing about yet. The
clerk who will hang him, if he is not careful. "Well, mates, you are
satisfied, I hope?" says Jack, quietly.

"Thoroughly, boss. You have carried out the contract like a man. We may
now leave old Sydney for a spell, but won't there be a blooming racket
on Monday morning?"

"I expect there will be, but you'll be out of it, and I can cover my
tracks. Mates, I have been a good pal to you, have I not?" "The best
going!"

"Then do me a favour. Take this drunken sot, the Professor, with you,
and land him somewhere, for it won't do to leave him here."

"You are right, mate, he might split on us," said Barney. "We'll land
him in America, where he is sure to prosper in that business of his."
"That will do, Barney, take him with you, and here, give him these five
hundred quids. We couldn't have done without him, and it's only right we
should look after a chum."

"Particularly if he is dangerous, as this one happens to be; here, boys,
hoist the carcase along with the property."

They raised the intoxicated and drugged Psychometrist and dragged him
off to the cabs at the corner along with the loot, while Jack watched
them going with an abstracted air.

Half an hour afterwards the Psychometric establishment was minus
servants, attendants and Professor, then Jack turned with a heavy sigh,
and led the pony, with the laden dog-cart, into the street.

He locked up the back-yard gate and no one checked his course as he went
along. The policeman at the corner touched his hat to him when he passed
by. He thought nothing of the eccentric movements of the white-haired
partner of the Fashionable Fortune-teller, for he had become used to his
ways; often had that pony taken an early morning exercise during the
past week.

As he drove along he looked at the stars and tried to console himself
with the reflection that no one could foretell what might happen in a
campaign. Warriors go out to battle and kill for their country, and no
one thinks of blaming them.

A life had been taken that night accidentally. On Monday morning there
would be wild excitement, and a big reward for the murderer, but he
would be with his faithful and lovely Rosa then, with all his traces
covered and an assured future before him; that surely was worth the
candle he had burnt, the risks he had run.

Four o'clock and he was at Mr. Chester's house, the bachelor's
establishment which this astute lawyer kept.

Jack Milton knew very well that the housekeeper would have a holiday on
this morning, therefore he felt safe as he led his horse and trap inside
the back gate, and when he had shut that, he knocked at the kitchen door
softly. A moment, and then the door opened gently and a voice asked:
"Who is there?" "Jack, with some baggage." "Bring it inside."

Mr. Chester did not help the housebreaker with his burden, and the
packages were lifted from the dog-cart and carried indoors in the dark;
then, when the door was closed and fastened, Mr. Chester struck a light
and looked at his visitor with a scrutinizing gaze. "What is this you
have brought in these bags?"

"Fifty thousand pounds in gold," replied Jack Milton quietly. "Put them
away for me and invest them."

"All right, leave them there for the present."

"Have you told Rosa I'll be home to-night?"

"Yes, she expects you," replied the lawyer.

"Good, I'll go now."

"Good morning."

"Good morning."

They parted with these words and Jack led his pony and empty dog-cart
out of the gate, which the lawyer closed and barred after him. After
which he drove away into the country at a furious pace.



Chapter V. Jack Milton at Home.

THEY had a small tea-party at Trumpet Tree Cottage on the Sunday night
when Jack Milton came back after his two years' absence.

It is only right and proper for a man to apprise his wife and friends of
his home-coming, whether he has been absent for a short or long
period--particularly if for a long period.

Surprises are seldom pleasant either to the receiver or the one who
gives them; some men in Jack's position might have felt inclined to play
the romantic and time-honoured joke of entering the Cottage suddenly and
disguised in rags, just to see how darling Rosa and her parents would
receive him. Jack could hardly do this, even if he had been disposed,
since he had entrusted a considerable sum of money to Rosa's cousin
before he went away. He was not disposed however to this sort of
romance. He had always liked to pose as a rich man; he liked also to be
entertained and made much of by his friends, and did not care how much
he spent to gain this end.

He loved his wife Rosa with all the reasonless intensity of his lawless
nature, and to have doubted her so far as to have tested her truth was
beyond his strength. She had said she loved him, and she had married
him, which seemed proof sufficient for his vanity and his desires. She
seemed delighted with his presence. Therefore, like a good husband, he
took it for granted that she mourned his absence as good wives ought to
do. The lamps were lighted and all the stars were out when he drove up
to the front gate, not this time in the dog-cart, or with his white wig
on, but in a cab, with portmanteau and bag beside him, as if he had just
come from a journey.

Rosa was on the look-out for his arrival, and ran eagerly from the
verandah up the little walk to the gate, and here she flung herself into
his arms, regardless of the grinning driver. "At last, you old darling
Jack."

"At last, my fairy," replied her husband fondly, as he clasped her to
his heart; and then they went indoors like true lovers.

Rosa Milton lived with her father and mother, or it would be more
correct to say, since it was the money of Jack which had furnished and
kept the home going, that the parents of Rosa lived with her.

Her father had been a draper's book-keeper, before his daughter's
marriage enabled him to throw up his occupation and retire upon the
bounty of his flash son-in-law. This he had promptly done, for few
cornstalks of the second generation care for working if they can get out
of it. The Sydney climate is too enervating for much exertion, and the
example of other husbands and fathers is too infectious to be long
resisted. It is almost the universal rule now for the women to keep
their men, and this is what most of these young colonials enter the holy
state of matrimony for.

The sire of Rosa was a genial, old, and gentlemanly loafer for all that,
and looked quite a respectable father, as he sat in his arm-chair, with
the Sunday papers before him, his spectacles on his well-shaped nose,
and his silver-grey beard floating over his black vest. Mrs. Mulligan,
his good lady, also bore out the appearance of a highly respectable
matron as she sat beside the tea-pot and dishes, and, altogether, there
was a decided air of home-like comfort about the lamp-lighted and
well-furnished front parlour.

Rosa was like the generality of her Sydney sisters, creamy-complexioned,
with features almost classic in their regularity, strongly defined
eyebrows and clear, grey-blue eyes, with a plentiful supply of
golden-brown hair. She appeared small alongside of her tall husband, yet
she was above the average height of women, and possessed a figure which
for symmetry would have won the approval of the most exacting lover of
the beautiful. Clearly the road to Jack's heart had been by the eye.

They were a magnificent couple, and most people would have agreed that
they were well matched. Jack with his strong, dark face, square jaw and
powerful frame, and Rosa with the seductive wiles and graces of a Helen.
A disciple of Lavater might have found characteristics in both these
attractive faces to make him pause and ponder, as indeed he could have
done in the other faces gathered round this festive board, Mr. and Mrs.
Mulligan and Mr. Arthur Chester. But Cupid's glamour had blinded Jack,
and what the others thought did not interfere with the warmth of their
welcome to the new arrival.

The viands were lavish and well enough cooked, for most colonial women
are adepts at home work. A couple of fowls, with a ham, and a prime
joint of beef, flanked by roasted Kiameres, pumpkins mashed, and mounds
of tempting tea-cakes. Mr. Chester carved the fowls and ham, while the
gentlemanly father cut the joint, and the mother poured out the tea,
thus leaving Jack and Rosa with nothing to do except eat, drink, and
look tenderly at each other.

After tea was cleared away, at Jack's request, Rosa and her cousin went
to the piano and sang duets. Jack was fond of singing, though he could
not sing himself, and Rosa had a clear, if somewhat metallic voice; she
did not play, but Arthur Chester managed to accompany her and himself
with a creditable "vamp," therefore that part of the evening passed away
very well.

Then, when the whisky decanter had been put upon the table and pipes
were lighted, Jack began to tell his adventures of the past two years,
in the South Seas, and in this he proved himself a perfect master of
fiction. Othello could not have done better, nor could Desdemona have
listened with more rapt admiration and devotion than did Rosa as she sat
on a low stool at his feet, her pretty teagown falling in graceful folds
about her, and her white arms bare to the elbows as the wide sleeves
dropped back. She rested these white and shapely arms on his knee, with
her chin on her ring-covered hands, and those steadfast, clear,
blue-grey orbs fixed on his black eyes. Occasionally, however, she
shifted her head slightly to glance with a kind of wonder at her
attentive parents, or the quietly observant cousin. When she glanced at
Arthur Chester and caught his eye, a slight flush tinted her creamy
cheeks, and a tiny curl lifted her upper lip, revealing her white teeth
and the redness of her full and moist lower lip. At these times only a
gleam shot between the eyes of the two cousins, and then she turned her
face once more with touching admiration towards the fertile-minded Jack.

"I shall call round to-morrow evening after office hours and have a
business talk with you, Milton," said the lawyer as he rose to his feet
about nine o'clock and prepared to take his departure.

"Do," answered Jack, also getting up, "I intend to spend to-morrow at
home and take it easy."

"I expect you'll be interested in the newspapers, after being so long
without them."

"Yes, I'll put in my time that way--you get the papers, I suppose, Mr.
Mulligan?"

"Yes, the Herald. I'll bring it up to your bedroom," replied the
father-in-law.

Rosa now proposed, as the night was warm, that they should see her
cousin a little way towards his house, and as Mr. and Mrs. Mulligan were
not inclined for the exercise, the three young people went out together,
Rosa in the centre, with a hand through the arms next to her of each
companion. In this fashion they went, linked together, into the night.

* * * * *

Jack Milton did not venture out of doors the next day, but Rosa like a
dutiful wife brought him all the newspapers. The Town and Country, the
Australasian, the Guillotine, and the dailies, to amuse himself with,
while she went about her household duties. Rosa liked to work in the
kitchen with her mother and the servant, and had some favourite dishes
to cook for Jack, therefore he had to yield, and do without more than a
flying visit now and again from her, and a fugitive kiss, while he
helped his father-in-law to "loaf."

The papers interested both men very greatly, for they were filled with
the account of the great robberies which had been discovered on Sunday
morning. Jack groaned inwardly as he read about the dead body of the
confidential clerk being discovered. It was the first man's taking-off
which could be laid to his charge, and it made him feel uncomfortable,
even although he tried to persuade himself that it was an accident. He
had, however, great command over his features and feelings, and read the
account quite calmly out to his wife and his father-in-law.

Mr. Mulligan listened with the interest such a sensation raises in one,
while Rosa, with a slight shiver of horror, hurriedly left the room for
a moment, and then as quickly returned.

"I expect there will be a big reward offered for the murderer, Jack,"
she said, fixing her clear blue-grey eyes on him.

"I expect so, little woman," replied Jack with his glance still on the
paper.

Mr. Chester came after the lamps were lit, with the evening papers in
his pocket. "Have you seen the account of that big robbery and murder in
George Street?" he asked as he entered.

"Yes," replied Jack and Rosa together, "any more about it?"

"The Bank people have offered a reward of five hundred pounds for any
information that may lead to the capture of the principals."

As he spoke he turned for a moment from Jack and cast a straight glance
at Rosa, who looked down at the table-cloth and began to smooth it out.

"The police head-quarters will receive the information and pay the
reward," continued Mr. Chester, and then they all sat down to the usual
high, or dinner, tea, and began talking about other topics. After tea
Rosa said to her husband:

"I am going out to-night, dear, to see a girl friend in town, Mrs. Grey,
you remember; and as Arthur has come to discuss business with you, I'll
leave you alone for an hour or so. I won't be late, darling; will you
stay till I come back, Arthur?"

"No, Rosa, I must be going soon, as I have a host of letters to get
through to-night."

He did not look at her this time, but she looked at him, a lingering
look, in which blended a little con tempt with some other emotion.

"Very well, I shall say good night. Now I'll leave you gentlemen alone
to discuss business. Depend upon me, dear Jack, I'll not be late."

She rose and left them with these words, Jack smiling fondly on her as
she quitted the room, then the two men sat down squarely to business,
for Mr. and Mrs. Mulligan had gone early to their own apartments.

When the business was gone through Mr. Chester rose to leave.

"This is a serious affair, this murder as well as robbery, isn't it,
Milton?" "Yes, very serious, and to be regretted," replied Jack.

"I can depend on your promise made to me, I suppose?"

"Yes, no one shall ever say that Jack Milton did not keep his promise."

"Good! and good-night."

After Chester had departed and until Rosa returned, Jack experienced a
singular fit of dejection. Everything had gone right with his schemes.
The horse and dog-cart were over the cliffs and his wig and spectacles
and clothes were destroyed. He had left no traces that he could think
about. His companions were clear away, for they had arranged that
beforehand, and yet the spirit of that confidential clerk seemed to be
haunting him.

He went to the sideboard and took as many whiskies as he dared to take,
to brace up his courage, and give him some of his lost pluck. He dare
not take much drink, in case he might talk and get reckless. He looked
at his revolver and found that in good order, and then, before he got
quite too desperate with himself, darling Rosa came back, beautiful and
tender.

His wife took him straight away to bed and said she would shut up the
place after she had seen him comfortable; she even went the length of
going to the kitchen and brewing him a glass of whisky hot, as a
night-cap, but although he felt he had taken enough, he did not like to
refuse the dear girl, therefore he made some excuse to get her out of
the room long enough to enable him to throw the stuff out of the open
window, and pretend he had taken it.

She laid her creamy soft cheek against his for a moment when she had
brought him what he wanted, and gently kissing him on the lips, said:

"Now, dearest, let me go and see that all is safe in the house, and then
I'll come to bed."

She left him with these loving words, and stole gently down the stairs
in her stockings, taking the lamp with her and leaving him in darkness.

For a moment he lay thinking fondly about her and planning out the
future, then his acute and trained ears heard sounds outside, which
banished sleep and woke up his faculties.

He stole softly to the open window and peered out, to see forms of men
surrounding the house. He knew what that meant to him.

Down the stairs he crept like a phantom, with his revolver in his hand.
Whispering voices in the dining parlour lured him on, and he turned in
that direction and listened by the open door.

"You must be patient yet a little while, for he is a strong man, but in
a few minutes he must be asleep, for I have given him a strong dose of
chloral." This was the voice of his darling Rosa, and another replied:

"I'll wait, missis; hadn't you better go and stay beside him till he
drops over?" "Yes, I'll go and see him now." He did not wait for the
lovely traitress to come out of the parlour, the revulsion was too great
for his wild, untrained and passionate nature. Without a pause, he
planted the revolver to his brow and pulled the trigger.



Chapter VI. Jack Milton's Escape.

"CALL no man happy until he is dead," said Solon, that wise man of
Salamis.

There is an instinct of insatiable discontent planted in the heart of
every human being, which ever urges us towards the consummation of our
desires, and this only more or less strong in its attraction than the
horror of death in its repelling powers, according to the lives we live
and the passions we indulge in.

Those who, like Socrates, or such saints as Thomas  Kempis, accustom
themselves to self-denial, have fewer promptings towards suicide and
less horror of death. Their unambitious and eventless lives satisfy
their modest cravings. They have learnt to find enjoyment in the passing
phases of the seasons, and, living outside their passions, they are
drawn into the all-satisfying heart of Nature and exist for the moment
that is with them. This is the nearest approach to happiness on the
earth side of death, yet even that is not complete. Death is the only
panacea for humanity.

As Hans Andersen says in one of his fairy tales, each human being hides
under his cloak a beast of some kind. It may be a ruthless tiger, a
poisonous snake or scorpion, a fox, or even only a timid hare, or
peacock. I fancy, however, that most of us hide more than one beast
under our jerkins, indeed that we are animated Noah's Arks, and while we
parade the lambs and doves on our upper decks, the swine, snakes and
other wild animals are all there under the hatches, only waiting their
opportunity to show themselves.

The beasts that Jack Milton had encouraged mostly were of the scorpion
and prey-like species. It had been his occupation to prey upon Society
for many years, and gratify the passion of the moment without
reflection. Yet the one passion, which, if it did not ennoble him very
much, had been the nearest approach to devotion and simplicity that he
could feel, had been his affection for this female Judas.

As with many criminals, who do not recognise the laws made by Society or
Morality, fidelity to his own kind was the one point of honour which
chained his wild and lawless nature. He could not "peach upon a pal," no
matter what he suffered in consequence, so long as that pal acted right
towards him, yet if the "pal" turned traitor, then his next natural
craving was for revenge.

His wife Rosa had been more to him than all the pals in the world, for
up to the last few seconds of time his trust in her love had been
infinite. Had any other tongue told him that she was false, he would
have killed the traducer and brushed the slander aside like a fly. He
was not an Othello in his love, possibly because having youth and
strength as well as full consciousness of his own powers of pleasing, he
could not have believed that the woman lived, who was so loved, that
could resist responding.

But the only tongue which could shatter his faith had spoken, and it had
the paralysing effect of a lightning stroke.

When roused, he was like a tiger in his rapidity; he only meditated when
he was planning out a robbery or an escape from prison, and he acted now
on the scorpion's instinct of despair.

Six almost noiseless clicks, almost like one sound, broke the silence as
the betrayed man sent the chambers of his revolver spinning round, and
in that second of time his heart stood still and his mind was a blank.
The weapon was in such perfect condition and so finely made, that the
clicks were no louder than the ticks of a watch, so that only he could
hear them.

Then, as he realized that the cartridges had been extracted by the
traitress, the temptation for self-destruction passed like a flash, and
the animal instinct of life preservation woke and braced him up. He even
laughed silently and grimly as he thought almost admiringly of the
adroitness and quickness Rosa had displayed in emptying the revolver.
"What a pickpocket the jade would make with a little training," was the
quaint fancy that crossed his mind, as he clutched his revolver by the
barrel and crept close to the wall, for he had heard the rustle of her
dress as she moved to the door, leaving the detective inside.

Five minutes before, that quaint fancy would have seemed sacrilege in
the mind of this robber and murderer, if applied to his wife, but now it
was the most appropriate idea he could think of respecting her. She was
still beautiful and had proved her cleverness, but never again would she
be a thing to respect and adore. If a bullet had dashed out his brains,
his love could not have been more surely slain than it was at this
moment of recovered life. He was now the trapped wild beast, with all
his craft and resolution in full force.

He felt her glide past him as he crouched by the wall of the lobby
leading to the kitchen, she touching the other side of the wall to guide
herself towards the staircase. He heard her soft breathing as he held
his own, and he grinned again, thinking how easily he could have
strangled her at that moment, but for the man inside that parlour, with
the necessity that he should himself escape. No, not for these cogent
reasons only would he let her go by in safety. A dull pain crushed on
his heart and made him pity her for what she had lost. He would not hurt
her for her perfidy. He would only quit her for ever, but he must escape
and punish her that way. She reached the top step before he moved, then
noiselessly and rapidly he glided through the kitchen into the
wash-house at the rear, where there was a door leading to the yard, and
a window on the shingle roof. The door was barred, but the window had
been left open, and it was large enough for him to get through.

He planned it all as he ran along, with the lightness of a cat, for he
was a man of as rapid mind as he was swift of action.

The police were in the yard, and Rosa would give the alarm in another
moment; then lamps and pistols would flash out simultaneously and he
would be seen.

In the yard grew a large almond tree, that spread its branches over the
shed roof and overlooked the narrow lane which divided them from their
neighbour's back yard. In his mind's eye he saw Rosa pause at the
bedroom door to recover herself before entering, for she wasn't yet
hardened enough to be able to face her victim without some little
preparation.

She would listen for a little time to hear if he slept, to still the
beatings of her excited heart, and to call up to her pretty face that
false and tender smile, and he laughed again bitterly as he calculated
his chances.

With his soft touch he cleared away the pans from the top of the
wash-boiler, then gripping up a billet of wood, with a light spring on
the boiler, he was through the window and on to the thickest limb of the
almond tree, with a thick covering of leaves between him and the
watchers below.

He had studied that almond tree during the day-time as a mode of escape,
for he never neglected any details in his surroundings, wherever he was.
A housebreaker of his experience and acumen, resembles a great general,
who regards every landscape as a probable battlefield and each corner or
building as a spot to be utilized for his own particular business of
war.

Jack Milton had now all his wits about him and was too cool to spoil his
chances by undue haste. A snake could not have glided along that branch
more noiselessly than he did, or with less disturbance of the leaves and
twigs. He felt each inch of the way and moved as if he had the whole
night before him, while under him the policemen stood watching the
lighted bedroom and waiting on the signal, all the while his ears were
also on the alert for that signal.

He reached the trunk and swung himself up to another thick limb which
led from it and rested on the high fence. He could not see those below,
but in front of him, that portion of the fence and branch came within
the radius of light from the bedroom window, while, as the leaves grew
thinly here, he knew he could be seen if any one chanced to be looking
in that direction.

This was the point of danger, yet he got just behind the verge of light,
and then raising himself, he stood clearing the leaves in front of him,
while he waited to take the leap. If his wife had been his best friend,
he could not have waited more anxiously on her coming cry of alarm. He
calculated exactly how she would act when she found the room empty; she
would rush to the open window with a shriek, and the police would look
in that direction in their first surprise, and that would be his chance
to leap along the line of light, then if he managed to get hold of the
branch beyond without attracting notice, he could laugh at them for the
time.

He seemed to see her turning the handle, with that false smile on her
lips, then----

Yes, there was the expected scream sent out to the night from the window
above, with a sudden darkening of the light on the branch which he knew
to be the shadow of her figure, and that made his path much easier.

He had been prepared to leap, but he changed his intention and walked
easily along the branch to the fence, then over that again to the fence
on the other side of the lane, after which he looked back before taking
the drop.

"What a racket they are making, the stupid owls, waking all the dogs in
the neighbourhood," he muttered, as he saw the flashing of the lanterns
on every side but the one where he was. He saw the darkened form of his
wife, with the detective beside her looking out, while their voices rose
in a loud chorus. With a muttered curse he dropped quietly into his
neighbour's yard, still grasping that heavy billet of wood.

A large dog rushed at him barking loudly, and letting him know by the
sound where to strike. Waiting till it was almost on him he brought down
the billet with his full force, and that antagonist was settled for the
time.

Across the yard he sprang, through the little gate that led to the front
garden and verandah; the people here were as yet asleep; so that he had
no trouble in getting to the other side, which was only protected by a
low fence, yet covered by tendrils and bushes. When he crossed this he
was a couple of lanes from his own house with the road clear as yet in
front of him.

The lane he was now in led to two different streets and he paused for a
moment to think which was best for him to take, then, having decided, he
walked quietly away, leaving the din behind him.

He was at present an object of suspicion if any one had seen him, for he
was hatless, and clad only in his nightshirt and trousers, these he had
hurriedly drawn on before leaving the bedroom. Yet that could not be
helped, the one thought that now engrossed him was where he was to turn
to find shelter.

Mr. Chester--yes, yet if Rosa was false her cousin was likely in the
plot also. No matter, courage had freed him so far, and courage must do
the rest. He would walk to Chester's house and bluff him for what he
wanted. It was a warm starlight night and the street he was in was
deserted, so that he did not find much inconvenience walking along
bare-foot and hatless. He moved swiftly along keeping his keen eyes
about him so as to avoid chance policemen and inquisitive pedestrians.
He was also examining the houses he passed, wondering if he could not do
a little business and rehabilitate himself on the way, only that he did
not wish to waste valuable time.

Chance, assisted by the god Bacchus, served him before he had got very
far, for, as he was passing a gate he almost stumbled over a man who
evidently had been overcome by the Sydney whisky, and now lay on the
foot-path in that deep and dreamless slumber which even good whisky will
produce when too freely indulged in.

This chance benefactor to the hunted man was well-dressed, and near
enough his own size to serve his purpose. With the gentleness of an
expert valet, Jack Milton drew the drunkard through the gate into the
garden, finding him more comfortable quarters under some shrubs, and
there he made his toilet, leaving the other as he had been himself, in
shirt and trousers.

The boots were a little too large, and the soft felt hat a degree too
small, but the coat and vest fitted him fairly well, the gold watch
which he likewise borrowed served to show him the time at the first
lamp-post he came to, and the loose change he found scattered about the
different pockets came in handy.

"A regular boozer that," Jack muttered as he counted about ten shillings
in threepenny bits, mixed with copper pieces, other silver and several
gold coins. "He has been visiting many pubs on the way and will need the
half-crown I left him, in the morning, I guess."

He looked at the watch and found that the time was ten minutes to one
o'clock, also that the watch which gave him this information was a good
one. "Fortune favours the bold--now for my noble Chester."

This little adventure raised his spirits wonderfully, for it seemed a
prognostic of good fortune in the future, so that he walked along with a
light heart, and in about half an hour afterwards reached his
destination.



Chapter VII. The Interview.

MR. CHESTER had either a great deal of work to get through on this early
morning, or else expecting tidings of some importance, he was sitting up
to receive them, for the light still burned in his office when Jack
reached the house.

Jack stood outside looking at the illumined blind, with folded arms and
a sinister smile on his dark features; he guessed why Mr. Chester was
not yet in bed.

"So, my friend, you expect to have me trapped in my sleep or perhaps
kindly knocked on the head, while you and your precious cousin play the
surprised innocents. Dead I could tell no tales, alone and a prisoner,
yet believing in your good faith, I'd have gone to the scaffold in
silence. Ay, so I would, had I fallen asleep and not known what I do,
therefore you only did me justice, but now that the blinders are off
I'll make you serve me, whether you like or not, you infernal hypocrite;
you were my master yesterday with your accursed cant, but I'll be boss
this morning."

He muttered these words bitterly, with savage hatred in his heart, then
stepping forward resolutely, he tapped smartly on the lower pane. In a
moment he heard the lawyer rise from his chair, and drawing the blind
back he opened the window. "Who is it?"

"I, Jack Milton," answered the housebreaker harshly, as he sprang to the
window and entered that way with a sudden leap and force that made Mr.
Chester stagger back, then quickly closing the window and readjusting
the blind so that no one could see them from the outside, he faced
round, his revolver in his hand pointed at the confused and astonished
lawyer. "Hands up, Chester! I know your little game right to the core."
"What do you mean, Mr. Milton?"

"That I was to be sold to the traps last night, so that you and that
artful jade, my wife, might enjoy my loot without me--don't deny it, or
I'll blow out your brains. I heard it all with my own ears." "I assure
you----"

"Hang your assurances, the time is past for words of that sort. Listen
to mine instead, for I must be quick. I have managed to get out of that
net, Trumpet Tree Cottage, and now you must help me to get safe out of
Sydney, or I'll make a clean breast of it and give you away--damme if
I'll be the only one to suffer in this business."

"What of your promises?" said the lawyer, who not yet understanding what
Jack knew, thought to play on his generosity. "I don't keep promises
made to traitors." "I did not betray you."

"Didn't you?--well, the woman whom I robbed and murdered for, did, and
you hold the stakes. I want money enough to take me out of the country
and shelter while you get me a disguise." "How much do you require?"
asked the lawyer sullenly.

"Three hundred pounds in gold will be as much as I can carry until I
reach a place of safety, then you can send me more. I won't be too hard
on you nor require any strict account of your stewardship, and I think,
now that you know my intentions, I can trust you for your own sake. The
bargain between us now is faith for faith, you be my banker as I require
coin. There, decide quickly, for the police may be here at any moment."

Mr. Chester stood gnawing his sandy moustache and looking very much like
Brer Fox when he was caught; however, he now recovered himself, and
pointing to a chair, he took one himself while he said:

"I don't suppose the police will be likely to come here after you unless
they followed you."

"Neither do I, since I took due care not to be followed, yet they may
come to report progress to you, eh?" Mr. Chester looked at his boots and
shook his head a little sadly.

"Then it wasn't the traps you were expecting so early this morning? Was
it Rosa?" His black eyes looked searchingly at the other's, who replied
quickly, yet without looking up: "I was expecting no one. It was work
kept me up so late. These briefs."

He waved his hand with the masonic ring upon it towards the table
covered with papers, and resumed:

"Besides, I cannot understand, since you have told me nothing yet. I am
sure my cousin--your wife, Rosa, could have no hand in the police
surprising you; indeed, such a thing must have been a terrible shock to
her, poor girl."

"Still harping on the affectionate and trusting wife fiction, Chester,"
said Jack weariedly. "Haven't I told you that I heard the poor girl
bargaining for my life with the detective, Billy Jackson? She wanted the
reward to put to her other stores, sweet innocent that she is. No, I
forgot to tell you that she prepared a dose for me to send me off to
sleep, and that she----did another thing, which made doubt out of the
question."

He had almost mentioned the extraction of the cartridges from his
revolver, when he remembered that Chester had likewise a weapon of the
same sort in his possession--one that he had presented to him--and he
thought he had better omit that piece of evidence of his wife's perfidy.
"What else did she do, Milton?"

"Something I don't mean to tell you, Chester--at least, not now. Some
other time perhaps I will. Well, have you decided to help Justice as
represented by Law, and know what transportation, if not hanging, is
like--or at the least have to give up that fortune you hold of mine, for
of course you can't expect to keep that if you turn Queen's evidence--or
do you decide to stick to the plunder, give me a small whack out of it
and help me to get clear?"

"Of course I'll help you all I can, Milton, if you show me how. By this
time I daresay the telegraph has been at work and all the ports closed.
You cannot take ship from the colony, for every man going away, unless
he is well known, will be subject to the strictest scrutiny, so that no
disguise will serve you. The trains likewise are impossible, for at
every station the same scrutiny will take place; how then do you think
to escape?"

"I'll tell you, Chester; first, because I cannot do it without your
help, and second, because it is to your interest to get me out of this.
I mean to ride overland to Westralia, and lose myself on the gold fields
there."

"What! Go over that infernal track where so many have perished? Milton,
my boy, plucky as you are, you'll never do it."

"Yet I mean to try. See here, Chester, I'll speak fair to you, although
I believe you have been an accursed beast to me--there, don't protest. I
gave Rosa up last night between eleven and twelve--she is no more to me
now than the commonest street-walker, and I want nothing to do with her
in future. I don't know what she is to you, and cuss me if I care, now
that I have whistled her down the wind. In old times men risked their
lives over a woman of this kind. I'm not that sort. I'm the product of
the new Era." He grinned a ghastly grin and continued:

"I guess she'll have a divorce from Judge Jeffreys. He is a sympathetic
cuss with grass widows of her description, and then you two will marry
for the sake of the plunder, for you will be both too much skeared to
let each other go in single harness, therefore you need not care much
what comes of a coon like me. I'll go on the Wallaby track across the
continent. If you hear no more of me, you'll know that my bones are
bleaching on the plains. If I get across I shan't trouble you more than
I can help, for, by the Lord! I don't like the scent of you, and, robber
and murderer as I now am, I'd rather the crows picked my bones out
yonder than know anything more of your family--I'll have a drain of your
whisky all the same, though!"

He rose, and lifting the decanter, poured himself out a stiff glass,
then, tossing it off, he returned quietly to his seat. "You can stay
here till I get what you want," said the lawyer coldly.

"Three hundred quid in gold--a good, serviceable horse--a wig, and some
other articles I may want to start with." "Yes, I'll get you these,"
said Mr. Chester, still stiffly.

"That is all I want; say, where are your cartridges, I have only what my
weapon holds at present?" "You'll find them in that table drawer."
"Thanks."

Jack went over to the drawer and found there not only the cartridges but
the revolver of his host. "I'll borrow this weapon for to-day," he said
quietly. "All right." At that moment a key was heard inserted in the
front door.

As Mr. Chester heard the sound he started to his feet to go out, when
Jack stopped him with a frightful contortion of his face.

"God Almighty! don't go from this room, or I shall be tempted to blow
both your brains out. Be open with me now that I know so much--I'll not
harm either of you. Let me get behind this screen and see the last of
the farce."

He grinned like a devil, as he passed behind a Japanese screen, leaving
his host standing in the centre of the room.

Another moment the door opened and Rosa darted inside. She was in a wild
state of agitation, and without pausing she rushed forward, and flinging
her arms round the lawyer's neck she kissed him loudly on the mouth
before he could prevent her. "Ah, Arthur, darling, what are we to do?
The villain has escaped."

Brer Fox Chester fell limply in his chair, while she, thinking that her
news had overcome him, went on in a feminine torrent:

"Yes, my pet, it is all true. I gave him the dose you got for me, and
saw him drink it. I removed the cartridges from his revolver as you
directed--everything seemed right--yet he made his escape." "Good God!"
gasped Chester. "Don't mention that name," said Jack Milton coming from
his retreat. "He must have left you both long ago, and the Devil, our
master, looks after his own." As Chester sank down Rosa had gone with
him, still embracing him, but at the sight of her husband, she started
up with a savage cry.

"What are you mooning there for, Arthur Chester? That revolver he holds
is harmless--shoot him like the dog he is." Chester's head sank down on
his breast helplessly while he moaned feebly: "He has got my weapon and
my ammunition."

"Sit down, Rosa, and compose yourself; I like grit, and if you are not
the woman I thought you were, at least you are consistent in your own
way," said Jack Milton quietly as he came forward. "Don't mind me in the
least. If you prefer his knee to the couch, then take it by all means,
for I won't object. You settled that as far as I am concerned two hours
ago--sit where you please and let us talk over our concerns."

The young woman rose with a scowl on her brows and sat on a chair; she
was now facing Jack, yet she looked at him remorselessly and defiantly.

"Well, Jack Milton, you know the truth at last, and I don't care what
more you know." Jack shrugged his shoulders as he replied gently:

"There's no more for me to know, Rosa. I made a mistake, or you did, so
what is the good of talking about that? It is past now, and I am not
such a cur as to cry over spilt milk. The only thing now to consider is
what is best for us three. Chester there will explain to you my
proposition. I fancy it will be more to your interest than if you gave
me away to the hangman."

Jack went once more over to the spirit decanter and helped himself to
another glass, while Rosa looked at Chester as he lay limply in his
arm-chair. It was one of these positions where the cuckold comes out the
best.

A pause ensued while Jack lifted the glass to his lips and drank, then
suddenly, before he had quite finished, he pitched the glass from him
with disgust.

"Oh, dash it, Chester, take her out of this and explain matters to her
outside. You know my ultimatum. Sell me if you like, but for pity's sake
leave me to myself now."

Arthur Chester rose to his feet, and giving his cousin his arm led her
from the room, leaving the housebreaker behind.



Chapter VIII. Cousins.

"GOODNESS gracious, Arthur, why couldn't you have given me a hint that
the monster was with you?" asked Rosa angrily, when they reached the
street, "and not let me blurt everything out like that?"

She was not ashamed of herself, such women seldom are when discovered.
The sneakish sensation gets over the men now and again, when they
meditate upon their actions, or a nasty wind blows the flaps of their
cloaks aside, for they know the animal they are carrying. The woman is
different, however, for she makes a pet of her beast and decks it up
with so many ribbons, that she is rather glad when her mantle falls off
and reveals the ape she is carrying. To her it always looks a beauty and
well worth the carrying.

She does not like her mantle to be rudely plucked away from her
shoulders, however--rudeness always wounds her feelings. Neither does
she like to dwell upon the idea that it was through her own clumsiness
and want of tact that she has lost her cloak. This makes her angry, and
when a woman is enraged she has little enough to do with conscience or
self-reproach, some one else has to bear the blame of that fault.

As this wretched pair left the study while Jack Milton watched them
depart, his glittering black eyes fixed upon them, and Chester's loaded
revolver held loosely in the hand that lay passively on the legal
documents, the lawyer felt his position keenly. There was no nobility or
assertion of manhood in his walk, but with bent back and weak legs he
led out his guilty partner, as spiritless and dejected a cur as one
could have met anywhere. Deceit and falsehood, when discovered,
generally have this effect even upon the most degraded of men. Add to
this that he felt like a mouse creeping out of the den of an infuriated
lion, who seems all the more dangerous because he crouches quietly, and
the reader may somewhat realize the sensations of Arthur Chester. Until
he had closed the door of that study the nerves of his back had been
quivering with the anticipation of a bullet being sent after him, and
that feeling is not nerve-bracing as a rule.

Rosa Milton, however, had none of these sensations, as she had no
consciousness of shame. Her husband had always been gentle and indulgent
to her whims, therefore she had learnt to despise him as a "softy." That
he had yielded his claims so quietly did not at all astonish her, yet
somehow it angered her, for it stung her vanity and she was now writhing
under this seeming lack of appreciation. Jack had never been so much an
object of interest to her as he was at this moment of renunciation.

"I did my best to stop you, Rosa," replied her cousin dejectedly. "But
it was no use, you were in on me like a tornado, and the complete tale
exposed with a brevity and graphic force worthy of that Scottish poet,
Robert Burns. The embrace would have done it to the watching eyes
without words, knowing what he did--in fact the latch-key was revelation
enough without even the greeting that followed, but when those terse
sentences fell upon my ears, I morally and physically collapsed. The
play was over with a bang. Only one thing surprised, while it robbed me
of the few remaining atoms of brains that I had left, knowing Jack
Milton as I do--and as you don't, sweet cousin." "What was that?"

"That we two are walking along the street this balmy early morning
instead of weltering in our mutual gore on the floor of my study." "He
would never have dared to do that, surely?"

"It isn't too flattering to either of us that he hasn't done so,"
replied her companion quietly. "However, here we both are, safe and
sound, with our fiasco on our hands, and the present master of the
position to manage." "What do you mean?"

"Only that we shall have to do our best to put the detectives off the
scent and get Jack safely away. We cannot afford to let him be caught
now, for he has sworn that he will speak up and give me away, if he is
taken, and you know what that spells?"

"The mean, spiteful wretch," cried inconsistent Rosa savagely. "As if it
could matter to him after he was hanged who had the money."

"That is just it, Rosa; and as he considers that he is no longer bound
to provide for us, he makes this condition--his liberty or the giving up
of his savings." "But haven't you secured them where they cannot be
touched?"

"That is impossible if he tells his story. We shall both be as poor as
we were before he crossed our lives, and worse, for if we escape
transportation, I shall be degraded and under suspicion all the rest of
my life, while you will be lost utterly. No, he must get away, or we are
both ruined beyond redemption." "But Arthur, what of us, if he gets
away?"

"Oh, he is reasonable enough. He only wants three hundred pounds for the
present, and meditates taking the overland journey to Westralia, and
that ought to finish him as surely as the hangman could do. As the wife
of a condemned outlaw, you'll get a divorce easily enough, and a lot of
sympathy besides, as no one will suspect that you know anything about
his plunder, then we can marry and clear out of the Colonies, so that
even if he reaches his destination, which isn't at all likely, he can
never trace us out." "But the reward for his capture?" "You'll have to
lose that five hundred, since he was not caught."

"Eight hundred pounds clear lost. Ah, that is too bad. Could you not
poison or shoot him, and then deliver up his body?"

They were passing a lamp-post as Rosa made this suggestion, and she
looked up in his face with the anxious expression of a prudent wife who
wanted to avert a business loss to her husband. Her pretty features were
puckered with this anxiety, and her blue eyes looked troubled as she
peered into those of her cousin.

Arthur Chester, like Rosa, belonged to the fourth generation of
cornstalks--those weeds who have grown up with white corpuscles in their
blood, instead of red; lustful, yet lacking stamina; malignant, and
sceptical of all that tends to raise humanity; devoted to pleasure, and
regardless of the responsibilities of morality. Intrigue and wickedness
were to them the necessities of existence. Jibing mockery and
cold-blooded jests at all which the older generations reverenced were
the ordinary subjects of their conversation. Such papers as the
Guillotine served them as the springs from which they drew their wit;
crude, indecent and viperish, without a spark of true humour or kindly
instinct.

They were both on a slightly more elevated stratum than the hyena
Larrikin, but their appetites and instincts were no better.

It has been stated that the absinthe drinking in France is reducing the
coming race to the condition of beastdom. The coming race of cornstalks
as represented in Sydney do not drink absinthe. They are even a fairly
temperate race in intoxicants, and yet poetry, principles, affection and
morality are almost dead amongst them; they only aspire to be smart.

Arthur Chester was not at all horrified at this suggestion from the
milky-skinned Rosa; indeed, had it been at all possible he might have
taken it up and discussed it, for it appealed to his acquisitiveness,
the predominant passion of a cornstalk, as it likewise did to the
depravity of his taste. But he was not altogether devoid of common
sense, and he knew that the man who had planned and carried out
successfully so many robberies, now that his eyes were opened, was not
at all likely to be made an easy victim either to poison or any other
form of treachery, so that he shook his head gravely while he thought,
with the cunning of an Asiatic or a Sydneyite, "Ho! ho! Rosa, my girl,
you would fain polish off your husband because he is your husband, would
you, to save these dimes? I am of value now because we are not yet
linked, since I hold the cash, but after that you'd serve me out the
same. Not for this juggins, if I know it." He thought this, but said
aloud in his tender and caressing way:

"It won't do, cousin, we must make up our minds to act on the square or
we may lose it all. Let us get him away, and then we can plan out our
future."

"If you think that the best way, I am agreeable, yet as long as he
lives, I'll be in such dread of him betraying us and getting us into
trouble."

"Oh, I think that he is safe enough in that respect so long as we humour
him now. He has some strange notions for a thief--at least as far as my
experience of our Sydney thieves go, as they would give away their own
mother for a cigarette, but Jack Milton is quite a maniac about keeping
his word--that is one of his cracks."

"He is cracked in more parts than one, the fool. He was downright daft
to think that a girl like me would stick to a housebreaker," said Rosa,
disdainfully.

"Ah! I think he has got over that mania by this time," replied her
cousin reflectively.

"Don't be nasty, Arthur. I bet you I could make him as dead gone on me
as ever he was," said Rosa daringly.

"Well, perhaps you might, Cousin. Samson was deluded by Delilah three
times, therefore I'll not take up the bet, yet I think you had best not
try to make it up, or he might drag you through the interior with him,
and I don't fancy that would suit your books."

"God forbid!" ejaculated Rosa, with a shudder of dread. "I want to see
no more of him."

"Well, cousin, you stay at home till I get him out of the road and call
upon you, and I'll manage all the disagreeable business for you
meantime." "What about the police, though?"

"You know nothing about him, so that they must scent about for
themselves. You have done your duty as a respectable citizeness in
giving them the word, therefore you'll be exonerated--and of course you
kept my name strictly out of the business."

"Ah, yes, Arthur, I always look after your interests," she answered with
a fine accent of scorn in her tones.

"Our mutual interest you mean," he said quietly. "As long as I am kept
in the back-ground, I can work for you as I have done."

"I know--I know, dear," she replied hastily, and putting her arm round
his neck, she drew down his head and kissed him. "You are cold,
to-night, Arthur; here we have been walking and talking like a blas
married couple and never a fond word."

"Forgive me, dearest, this contretemps has worried me, and by Jove! that
reminds me, how foolish you were to come to my place this morning." "You
knew I was coming, Arthur?"

"Yes, if all had gone right it would have been perfectly safe, but
now--suppose you have been followed?" "I don't think so," she replied
hesitatingly. He glanced round quickly and was just in time to see the
figure of a man on the opposite side, yet some distance behind, dart
back into the shadow of a trumpet-tree overhanging a fence.

"Ah, don't you think so?" he whispered mockingly. "But you have been
shadowed for all that, so let us hurry on. I must go with you to the
Cottage, and put them off the scent if possible. We must now be open
with our love affairs, and that will serve as the best motive for
selling Milton." "Oh, Arthur, what shall we do?"

"Keep cool. Our shadower is too far away to have heard what we were
speaking about; let us go on as we are doing, and when we reach the gate
do a little spoon there. He will likely get close to us then, so that
what I say to you will be for his benefit. Remember you only came to
tell me of the escape and nothing else." "I drop," she replied, in the
slang which ladies of her class love to indulge in. After this they
looked no more behind, but kept on until they reached the gate.

Here the farce of sweethearts saying good-night was gone through
elaborately, while the spy crept up to hear what they said in this
supposed unguarded moment.

It was a farce to both of them by this time, this lingering at the gate.
When a woman possesses the latch-key of her lover's house, the necessity
for gate-lingering has gone past, yet with some the folly is still kept
up for the sentiment of the thing. So thought the watcher as he saw the
embracing and heard the good-night uttered several times over before
they finally went inside together, and he chuckled even while feeling
disappointed that his shadowing had only brought out this result. He
thought he knew now why the false wife had betrayed her husband, and
felt it much more natural in a Sydney girl than any flimsy sentiment
about horror of the murderer or Spartan desire for justice.

"Keep up your pluck, my girl," said Arthur, as they stood at the gate.
"It isn't possible for him to get away."

"But suppose he should be about and return now that the police are away.
He'll murder me, Arthur, for what I have done."

"Don't be afraid, Rosa, he won't return here. He cannot possibly make
his escape, so be easy, you'll be a widow soon enough now."

"I hope so, but I'm desperately afraid. Come inside, Arthur, and see
father and mother."

They went indoors and had not been long there before the man knocked,
and when he was admitted and saw the family up, he told them that he had
called to say that they need not be alarmed, for the house was still
watched on all sides, so that they might retire with perfect security.
"This is my cousin, Mr. Chester, the solicitor. I went to his house to
get his advice," said Rosa, introducing her cousin to the detective, who
shook hands and said calmly:

"Quite natural on your part, ma'am, under the circumstances, only he
need be under no fear of your safety, as you are well guarded."

Arthur Chester took his leave soon after this, and went out with the
detective, while those inside locked up the door. "Miserable affair
this. I was the last man to have suspected Jack Milton."

"He is a cute card, but he has reached the end of his tender this time,
I guess. She is a fine woman that wife of his, poor girl; how did she
find him out?"

"Well, from what I can gather, he got talking in his sleep about the
murdered bank clerk on Sunday night, and then he was so anxious for the
papers next day, that she worked it all out in her own mind and was
horrified. She'd have forgiven him anything short of murder. That did
for her."

"It mostly does with the women, although they are not all so game as she
is. They are more apt to act like the mother of Barnaby Rudge. Does she
know anything about the plunder, do you think?"

"No, he has doubtless planted that. He was always reticent about his
income, but he has left his traps at the Cottage, so something may be
discovered amongst them. This is a devilish unfortunate affair for all
of us, to be connected with such a scoundrel. It will make such a
scandal, you know."

"Yes, but the prompt behaviour of Mrs. Milton must counteract a good
deal of the scandal." "I hope so. Good-night." "Good-night, sir."

The detective looked after him, placidly satisfied in his own mind that
Jack Milton had not much chance of escape if Arthur Chester could spoil
it, after what he had seen.

The lawyer, however, went along the victim to a thousand fears for his
own safety, and cursing the imprudence of his cousin, whereas he ought
to have been more grateful.

As for Rosa, now that the way seemed clear, she went to bed strangely
discontented and dissatisfied with her cousin. The charm of secrecy was
over, and with it had departed the only romance that her vicious heart
had pulse to thrill over.



Chapter IX. Jack Milton Waits.

JACK MILTON watched the guilty pair pass from the study with a sardonic
grin on his lips that drew them back and bared the strong white teeth,
so firmly locked together. A grim humour possessed him at the moment,
and held his hand, which was toying with the revolver, and forced him to
laugh as he heard the outer door close.

Was that white-faced traitress the witch who had beguiled his thoughts
in jail, and made him feel almost religious? "Oh, Lord! oh, Lord!" he
uttered, while he laughed softly; "what a miserable fool a man can be,
and all for a fancy."

He thought on a past fancy--a female pick-pocket, who would have gone
through fire and water for him. She was a handsomer woman by a long
chalk than this flimsy chit who had only brains enough to sell him, and
the other woman had both grit to the backbone and talents that this sham
was utterly devoid of. He had thought her possessed of the one quality
which the poor pickpocket couldn't boast about.

Ah, ye gods! Was there a woman in the world who possessed that charm who
wasn't ready to fling it away at the first chance? And yet, for this
imaginary virtue he had hitherto staked his happiness.

He somehow felt no anger against Arthur Chester, who, indeed, was now in
his estimation too poor a tool for any man to be angry about. If it
hadn't been Chester, it would have been someone else. Possibly Chester
was only one of a crowd of hounds who ran baying after this Sydney
beauty.

When a man has worn a bit of paste in his breast-pin, under the
impression that it was a diamond of the first water, he does not care
much who wears it after he has discovered its real value and cast it
from him. The price it has cost him may give him a slight twinge, but
that will only be momentary, unless he is a weak fool who mourns over
things lost.

Jack Milton was no fool, although under the influence of a mad impulse
he had nearly consummated the most idiotic act any man can be guilty of,
but for his betrayer's prudence in removing the cartridges from his
revolver, but he was cool now, and ready to look at his difficulties all
round and take full advantage of every trick that Fortune gave him.

His love for his wife had been a blending of respect and remorse which
flavoured and refined his passion. He had discovered what he supposed to
be a pure-minded, artless, and affectionate girl, different from all his
other companions, and these supposed inner qualities made him value the
casket at a much higher figure than it was worth. No sacrifices on his
part were reckoned hardships which could keep that unopened casket and
supposed sacred treasure as it had been given to him. The aim of his
life since he had won her, had been to keep her ignorant of his
transactions and abandon them as soon as possible for her sake.

He had accomplished what he had set himself to do, and was now rich
enough to retire from his risky business and lead a respectable life,
and but for her treason might have got safely out of the colonies and
continued to adore and reverence her while he lived, denying her
nothing, and as easily deluded as the most unsophisticated of
simpletons.

Well, she had opened his eyes and saved his life with about the same
expedition as the hangman opens the eyes of his patients, and he ought
to be grateful to her for these favours. He knew now that there was
nothing better inside that casket than what was inside the one given up
for her--the Melbourne pickpocket, indeed Rosa was a more miserable
compound of deceit and heartlessness, without a single virtue of qualify
her baseness. The pickpocket was the victim of circumstances as he was,
and made no pretence to be better than she was, yet she had fidelity to
her friends. This one was a wanton by choice, and rotten to the core.

With a laugh of contempt he shook the nasty reflections from his mind,
saying as he rose and stretched his arms:

"She and Chester have put me in a bad hole that'll want some kicking to
get out of, but they've done me one service; they have rid me of a
mighty bad bargain, and now I can think of myself without any cursed
sentimental nonsense."

It certainly would have been more flattering to Rosa Milton and her
cousin if her husband had offered to do them violence instead of
treating them with this contemptuous toleration. To kill the adulterer
seems to throw a certain glamour of romance over his sordid and sneaking
treachery. It is a much better punishment to pitch the object to him as
we might make the thievish boy a present of the cake he has been
nibbling at in secret. This reduces things to their proper value. The
divorce court has done away with all the glory of seduction, and the
betrayed husband is now the party who has the best of the laugh, if any
one can laugh at such miserable complications of life.

As Jack rose and stretched himself with a yawn, his glance fell upon a
large map of Australia which filled up one side of the wall. He stepped
over to this, and with the barrel of his revolver traced an imaginary
line to the Merchiston River on the western coast.

"It is a tidy stretch for a man to take by himself, but it has been done
before for the sake of science, to say nothing of the stockmen who are
not mentioned in colonial history. Yes, that must be my game; I'll play
the stock driver out of a job while I traverse New South Wales. The
veteran stockman will do. Once I get over the borders there isn't much
fear of pursuit, although I guess my likeness and description will be in
every station and township throughout the country. Well, I must be extra
particular in my get-up, I suppose.

"Chester will get me what I want to start with, I guess, after that I
must sacrifice the plunder, for that alone will keep his mouth closed.
Ho! ho! what a comfortable legacy that will turn out for him with Rosa
along with it. I wonder how dearly they will love each other in six
months from now? He'll have to splice her to keep her mouth shut, and
mind his p's and q's afterwards not to get her dander up, with me in the
background to keep their nerves steady. It's a fine thing he has got on
hand, I must say. Let's have a squint round his diggings."

He gave only a passing and regretful thought to the bank-clerk. It was
an accident, for he had had no intention or desire to hurt the poor
fellow, therefore that crime did not represent murder to him any more
than the killing of a sentinel to a soldier. Yet this accident would be
the means of hanging him if taken, so that he could no longer afford to
be captured alive, otherwise perhaps he would not have cared to face
that terrible overland journey.

"I wonder if there is anything of interest to me in these documents," he
muttered, stooping over the table, and turning over the papers that
Chester had been forced to leave behind him. "No, only cases. The Fox
has plenty of business, it appears."

He next opened the table drawers, but found nothing there of any
consequence or interest to him except some cigars and cartridges which
were lying together. He pocketed the cartridges, and selecting a cigar,
he cut and lit it.

"Safe open--oh, yes, safes are always easy to get into when there is
nothing inside. He keeps his business books here, but carries his bank
and private books about with him--no fear of Chester leaving anything
here likely to incriminate him."

He glanced at his borrowed watch and found the time half-past three. As
he did so he chuckled.

"Chester must get me a 'Waterbury'to take with me, and I'll make him a
present of this ticker and toggery. Won't he be in a pickle when he
discovers them to be stolen property, as he very soon will if he tries
to sell them, as he did me?"

The sound of footsteps on the front verandah at this moment startled
him. At first he thought it might be Chester returning, but when the
door was not tried, he became alarmed.

"Surely he is not fool enough to betray me a second time--surely not.
I'd let them take me if I thought so for the pleasure of rounding on the
cur!" He softly pulled off his boots, and opening the door noiselessly,
crept along the lobby and into the front room; here he found the blinds
up and the morning outside intensely dark.

Stealing to the window he stooped down and listened with his senses on
the stretch. He could not make anything out, and for the moment all was
still, but soon again he heard a sound.

A boot striking against the boards almost in front of him?--another
step--then all at once a wild clattering accompanied by a rush of
pattering hoofs and a wild barking. It was some prowling goats, who had
taken to the verandah and been hunted out again by the ownerless dogs of
Sydney. Jack Milton rose to his feet with a gasp of relief.

Yet he still stood at the window and watched the only objects visible.
The lustrous stars, more brilliant now than at any other hour. How
bright the morning star glowed from that dusky space, while higher up
flashed the Southern Cross. As he watched, a great sadness fell over
this outlaw robber.

The sense of his isolation pressed upon him with a dreary pain. All his
life had been a struggle against destiny, and he never had an intimate.
What he had gathered he could not hold. Like the Flying Dutchman, he
only got so far, to be driven back again.

He thought upon his youth and childhood, and there were no joys in these
reflections. He never had a childhood, and his boyhood had passed
without a gleam of sunshine to remember. He had been loved by women--at
least women had offered him what they called love, but while they wanted
him he had revolted against them.

He had loved, or would have loved, only that where his affections went
there were no respondings, and this last one had proved wanting, as did
the others, yet he did not blame her; as Professor Mortikali told him,
he was born under the conjunction of Venus and Mars, and those who are
born under this fatal conjunction are bound to be unlucky in all their
efforts, whether with love or war--particularly with love.

He had been gifted with a sturdy determination and dogged will-force,
which had torn open the hands of Fate in spite of its clenching; but not
for long, for the fingers of Fate are steel-clad and resistless in their
gripping. He was able to plan out and execute a bold scheme, but he
could not keep the results.

Alone he had passed through his life so far. Those with whom he worked
used his brains and may have owned his abilities, but they had no union
with him. They trusted him, but they did not fraternise; when the work
was over for which they had joined company the partnership was
dissolved, with mutual relief to both sides. He was their leader in
danger, but in their pleasures he had no part. Ah! how the watching of
stars makes the most realistic of us sentimental--of course no really
realistic man ever looks at the stars unless it is to find out their
position astronomically, and that kind of gazing does not awaken
sentiment.

Jack Milton looked at the stars raptly and thought of himself--for that
is what star-gazing produces. He had been as a piece of driftwood all
his life. Cast off in early youth by those who might have made something
of him. Drifting out to the colonies. Taken up and petted for his
handsome face for a brief space, and taught during this period of
petting how to discriminate between a good and a bad cigar, and how to
appreciate a glass of wine, cognac or liqueur--how to comport himself in
a drawing-room or take a hand at cards--to treat a sovereign as if it
were a shilling and chuck coppers to the crowd. He had matriculated in
an expensive college during those few months between eighteen and
nineteen.

Cast on the world without a friend, when the patron had tired of him and
left him to shift for himself. He had tried then to be honest, and
starved--until the Melbourne girl had picked him up and taught him how
to utilize his talents, then he became as he might have been on more
reputable lines--a leader of men.

This female outlaw had devoted herself to him and taught him how dimes
were to be made by a bold man. She was a heroic woman, but she had loved
him, whereas he could not then love her, therefore this dark hour before
the breaking of day, he stood and looked at the stars with that vague
longing that the eagle may have as he sits on his lonely perch waiting
for the dawn. Jack Milton had not yet found either his mission or his
mate. How many solitary souls spend their lives on a lonely perch,
waiting and watching, as he was doing, for what never comes?



Chapter X. An Unpleasant Dream.

"WELL, Chester, you reckon I'd take in my mother, supposing I had one,
with this disguise?" "Yes, Milton. Your make-up is perfect and you are a
born actor."

"Ah, yes, I am a man of many parts I allow. I fancy I'll be able to
dodge the traps; now let us come to some personal business before we say
adieu. Rosa is your cousin. You know her, I daresay, better than I
do--you mean to act square with her, now don't you?"

Arthur Chester did not answer at once, perhaps he was too ashamed. It is
an awkward business to arrange with a husband, who is about to
relinquish wife and fortune together--a kind of death-bed arrangement
without the corpse.

Jack Milton sat before him, dressed in corduroy pants, top boots, red
flannel shirt and riding jacket. To an outsider, he was a rough bushman
with matted grey beard and straggling tresses. As he opened his mouth to
speak, two gaps showed where the front teeth were absent. He had knocked
these out that afternoon, which makes a wonderful alteration in a man.
He was no longer the youthful and trim swell, but a sun-tanned and
full-bearded bushman of fifty.

"You mean I shall marry her, and share your money with her?" said
Chester. "Yes, I reckon we can say that is settled."

"I'm a romantic cove, Chester, you will say. Yet I wouldn't like Rosa to
drift too far down for her mistake. You are low enough for any
revengeful fellow's desires." Chester winced at this, but said nothing.

"I reverenced that girl once, as men who know the world sometimes make
saints of women. I think all men are Roman Catholics or heathens when
they are in love, and afterwards, even when they wake up, they don't
like their images to be battered--therefore keep Rosa as straight as you
can. I'd like to think she died in what the world calls the odour of
respectability." "She is my cousin, you need not be afraid of her
future, Jack Milton."

"No, you accursed scoundrel, I can trust you as far as I see you. You
marry Rosa and treat her square, and I'll ask no more than those three
hundred quid you have given me. I'm going away, but I won't lose sight
of you for all that. Leave her in the lurch, and, by Saul! I'll make you
wish you were dead every day of your life for five years before I kill
you, as John Chinaman promises his pet criminals."

"You seem mighty anxious about Rosa's future," said Chester with a
slight sneer; "she hasn't treated you so well." "Chester, I loved your
cousin, and had she been grit would have laid down my life for her. She
wasn't grit to me. Perhaps I got her from you because I had the
spondulux at the time and you hadn't; yet I don't want her to know the
world as I have found it. You have the chink now; make her life easy and
I'll forgive you all you have done to me." "Don't be afraid, my cousin
is all right." Jack Milton touched the pendant on the watch-guard of
Arthur Chester. "On the square, Chester?" "Yes, on the square." "Enough,
and now good-bye. I hope you'll hear no more of Jack Milton."

Mr. Chester accompanied him to the door and saw him ride away in the
starlight. He had done his part, and for the first time felt relieved.
The world was now before him, so long as that incubus could get out of
the ken of man in safety.

They had made no arrangements for communicating with each other. If Jack
got clear of the colony, the lawyer would not likely hear from him
again, that is, unless he was very hard pressed for money. If he was
caught en route, then the papers would soon inform Chester of the
disaster, for a disaster it would be to him, since he could no longer
depend upon the silence of the refugee.

Jack Milton need not have been at all fearful concerning the future of
Rosa, for that young person was quite able to paddle her own canoe. Some
men have a habit of regarding the female sex as timid and harmless
idiots, where ways and means are concerned; as poor, soft,
supersensitive innocents, who are victims of man's brutality and
selfishness unless hedged about and protected. Jack Milton was one of
this kind, and even although he had so recently an experience of his
wife's capability of looking after her own interests, still he could not
divest himself of the idea that she might starve, or drift to the bad,
if not provided for; as if either man or woman could possibly sink lower
than this young woman had already sunk. When a page is blotted past
writing upon or reading, what does it matter how soiled it becomes
before it is sent to the pulp-house?

If Cousin Chester felt disposed to play her false, as was but natural
with such a shifty cornstalk, she very soon showed him how futile would
be his efforts, for Jack had hardly gallopped out of hearing before she
made her appearance and brought her recreant lover to his senses. A
speedy divorce and marriage were the only means of securing his safety.
The divorce proceedings she placed in his hands to push on for her with
all expedition, so that, whatever he had intended to do, he discovered
that it was much easier to drop into an intrigue than to slip out of it,
once in the toils. Rosa was mistress of the position, now that all
necessity for concealment was past, as far as her husband was concerned,
also with that other secret still at her discretion.

Double harness was the only safe mode of making life's journey now,
therefore the lawyer accepted his destiny.

A week went past and no word of Jack, although the papers, particularly
the Sunday Verity and the Guillotine, rubbed it in warmly for the
detectives. Puffadder, the editor of the Guillotine, was always rubbing
it in venomously somewhere or other, for this was how he showed his
sense of humour and wit.

"Give them cayenne-pepper all round," was his war-cry, and his
contributors obeyed the order with zest, and spared no one whom they
thought their poisoned blow-pipe needles could prick on the raw; this
being the sort of new-humour that the readers of the Guillotine best
understood; subtlety or playful satire would have been lost upon them.

Singular to say, however, this same Puffadder, although such a callous
and malign beast with respect to other people's feelings, was one of the
most super-sensitive and easily wounded of reptiles where his own
feelings were concerned. At one time a respectable paper had so far
forgotten its dignity as to criticise his shameless, vicious, and
asinine tramplings, which just, if too lenient, remarks so wounded his
vanity that he immediately fixed upon a well-known contributor, who
chanced to have been in the colony at the time, as the author of the
criticism.

To suspect the man was enough for Puffadder, and to make him lose all
the little mental balance he possessed. He writhed and brayed out his
rage and distress, making a laughing-stock of himself. He drank himself
into delirium, and besides airing his grievance to all his
acquaintances, he took to writing the most scurrilous and senseless
letters to this suspected critic at the rate of three or four per day,
which he first read to his friends and then posted on to the unconscious
journalist, and although years had passed, that wound to his vanity
still remained open and as raw as when first inflicted, while the mere
mention of the critic's name would send this editorial humourist into a
fit. This was the kind of philosophic censor who controlled and directed
the popular and mirthful Guillotine. A worm, that the heel of an infant
could torture and crush, was permitted to fling his venom broadcast and
make good and strong men tremble, all because to outsiders he appeared
to be triple-armoured.

While the police were at fault and the Guillotine was showing them how
their work ought to have been done, the divorce case was carried through
the court, and Rosa Milton made a free woman, amidst the general
approval of all right-minded people. She had only done her duty as a
good citizeness to repudiate such a villain, and Judge Jeffreys wept
over the wrongs of one so fair and young, he being one of those
sentimental holders of the scales of Justice who had done much to render
divorces fashionable in the Colony of New South Wales.

After this signal triumph of virtue, the fair Rosa went home, to receive
the congratulations of her friends, and prepare for her coming wedding
with her cousin.

The police, seeing her act so promptly, relinquished any trace of
suspicion they might have had of her as being an accomplice of the
escaped criminal. Judge Jeffreys also went home in a virtuous mood.

He had endured a trying day in the divorce court, for where women were
concerned he was the most sentimental of men, and would weep almost as
copiously as the wronged wives, while he listened to their evidence and
summed up the case, pointing out to the jury their clear duty, and
making the unfaithful male monster squirm under his scorching remarks.
The wronged wives adored Judge Jeffreys as much as the shivering
husbands feared him. He would roughly interrupt all evidence in favour
of these male desecrators of the domestic hearth, and in spite of
weakness of proofs, would shake his fore-finger in the direction of the
culprit, and tell him that he was as positive of his guilt, as if he had
accompanied him all through the shameful affair. He would blow his nose
and wipe his lachrymose eyes as he turned towards the fair victim, to
bestow upon her and the jury the flowing tide of his sympathy, then
after the verdict had been found, he gave thumping damages, regretting
it was not in his power to transport the scoundrels as well.

He liked to transport male criminals when he could not sentence them to
death--he always sent men to the gallows when he could possibly stretch
his power, and according to the penal laws of this favoured land, it
required a very slight offence for a man to be hanged, for the implied
intention was punished with equal severity as the actual deed.

Judge Jeffreys was not an eloquent speaker; he drawled out his words
with painful effort, and connected each word with a long-drawn "Ah--hum"
but these ominous "Ah--hums," although laughed at by the uninterested
audience, created small mirth in the heart of the trembling culprit, for
he knew well that, innocent or guilty, once he was before this merciless
judge, he had no prospect of justice or escape. Also, as this judge
possessed the prescience of infidelity, so likewise had he the gift of
being present at the commission of crime, with the infallible power to
read the intentions of the frustrated criminal. When he summed up and
delivered his address to the jury, he would tell them that the evidence
which they had listened to was nothing, but that from his own knowledge
they must return a verdict of guilty, for he was as positive of the
guilt of the prisoner as if he had seen him commit the deed. With this
assurance, these enlightened thirteen citizens found "guilty" with
hardly a pause, and the victim was led out to his doom. The secret of
this prescience, which controlled justice and biassed the minds of the
thirteen good and true men, was an open one. Judge Jeffreys was a firm
believer in Spiritualism, and had for his guides in all matters relating
to law and the discovery of vice and crime, the spirits of two ladies,
who had long since freed themselves from the bondage of earth. "Katie,"
the daughter of the grim old pirate, Morgan, and "Clara," who had in her
day been known as Mrs. Manning, the murderess. With such experienced
familiars in the intricate ways of crime at his beck and call, when he
required advice in obscure cases, Judge Jeffreys considered himself
superior to the evidence likely to be got out of such perjured witnesses
as this head centre of military laws could produce.

On this day, he had dismissed the suits of three husbands who had sought
liberty at his hands from their maligned and angelic spouses--declining,
according to his usual arbitrary custom, to hear the witnesses who were
ready to give evidence against the sweet innocents. He had liberated six
other tearful innocents from the hateful bondage of matrimony, with
withering condemnation on the husbands for their vileness and brutality.
He had granted separation, with handsome maintenance, to a number of
other female applicants, committing the wretches who could not pay the
demands to prison, until they could, and through the day's hard work, he
had wept almost enough to have watered some of the most arid districts
of this sun-dried land; therefore it was no wonder that he found his
usual allowance of sherry, claret and port insufficient to quench his
thirst, and was forced to take a few extra glasses of whisky and water,
after dinner, the night being a hot one.

In the prison a criminal lay waiting his execution whom this righteous
judge had sentenced to death, for resisting a policeman, who had taken
him in charge for sleeping in an empty house; unfortunately for the
homeless "dosser" a revolver had been found in his pocket, and the
policeman (the only witness) swore he had been threatened with it.

Three boys had been strung up together the previous day for being
concerned in an outrage, although the evidence was so contradictory and
flimsy against them that even Judge Jeffreys might have paused, had he
not been privately convinced by those infallible criminal investigators,
"Katie" and "Clara."

He lay back in his comfortable arm-chair, wearied as well as thirsty
after his fatigue and tears, and as he puffed his fragrant cigar, felt
his eyes fill again with moisture as he thought upon those martyred
women whom he had made happy that morning.

He felt intensely emotional and full of sentiment. A feeling was upon
him that Katie and Clara were close at hand and about to communicate
with him. Knockings began to sound over the room, while curious
twitchings ran through his joints, all unmistakable spiritual signs. "Is
that you, friend Katie?" he murmured from his chair. "No," sounded a
single knock from the back. "Clara?" "Yes." Three knocks now sounded
from the table. The late Mrs. Manning was his visitor. "Can you manifest
yourself to-night, Clara?" "Yes." "Then do so, like a dear," said the
sentimental judge drowsily.

Instantly the lamp began to grow dim, and burn blue, until the apartment
was almost in darkness; then about a couple of yards in front of him a
pale star-like spot loomed up. This luminous spot became enlarged,
rapidly taking on, first, the shape of a smoky pillar, and next human
proportions; then, as he watched, the dim cloud grow brighter, and all
at once there stood revealed a fearful-looking Chinaman with an ugly
gash on his forehead. "Who are you?" cried the judge wildly. "One of
your victims unavenged," replied the ghost sombrely. "I haven't hanged a
Chinaman yet," muttered the watcher. "No, but you set my murderers at
liberty."

"You surely don't expect a colonial judge to condemn a citizen for
merely killing a Chinaman, do you?--why, that would be downright
murder."

The Chinese ghost grinned horribly, and stood aside to let a crowd of
other ghosts come forward. They were of all ages, the three boys just
hanged gibbered at him while they kicked up their heels in a strange
fashion, others denounced him as their remorseless murderer, while the
worst was, that he knew them all and remembered the words he had used
when he sentenced them to be hanged. He was a dogged old man, yet he did
not like these ghostly reminders of his justice.

"Get out with you--you gang of criminals, or I'll sentence you all over
again," he cried wrathfully, his patience at last worn completely
threadbare.

"You can't; we defy you, Judge Jeffreys," the ghosts yelled in a chorus,
"and as for hanging, it's your turn now."

"Bah!" replied he scornfully, "you are only--ah--hum--spirits--and they
can't hurt, ah--hum--a strong man like me."

"That's all you know about your religion; wait and we'll show you what
materialized spirits can do."

The three murdered boys leapt on him as they yelled the words and pinned
him to his chair in an instant; then the Chinaman, who had been busily
materializing a rope, vaulted upon the table and unshipping the heavy
lamp from the hook in the ceiling, slid the rope through that, and there
it was, noose and all complete, and ready for him.

"Where is Clara?" cried the judge, thoroughly frightened at last by
these adroit preparations. "Here, my sweet judge," answered that lady
promptly, at his elbow. "Save me, dear Clara."

"Nonsense, Jeffreys, hanging is nothing, when you have a good drop. I
wonder at your bad taste, refusing to join such loving friends as Katie
and me, after all your professions of affection, particularly since you
are so lavish in ordering the rope for other people. Up with him quick,
lads, and I'll draw the table from under him, then it will be over in no
time, and we'll be all so happy in the spirit world."

It was useless to struggle in the hands of that materialized crowd. In a
moment they had him on the table and the noose round his neck, then,
with an exultant shout from his executioners, he had dropped the
four-feet-six and dislocated his neck. "Did you call for coffee, sir?"
"Eh?"

Judge Jeffreys sprang up from his seat and regarded the servant with a
maniacal glare; then, feeling the back of his neck ruefully and
tenderly, he answered shortly: "Yes, Jane, you had better bring in the
coffee."



Chapter XI. On the Wallaby Track.

JACK MILTON made his exit from Sydney by the side streets, going at an
easy canter until he reached the suburbs, then he put spurs to his horse
and through the long night only rested long enough to breathe the
animal.

He skirted the town of Penrith soon after midnight, and crossing the Emu
Plains, when morning dawned, was able to seek a shelter for the day
amongst the sheltered and secluded gullies of the Blue Mountains. Here
amongst the ferns, wild flowers, rocks and overhanging gum trees, he led
his tired horse to the banks of a clear stream, where it could spend the
daylight feeding to its heart's content, while he likewise lit a fire
and boiled his billy, after which he lay on his back and enjoyed the
rest he needed.

He had hobbled the horse, which was a good one, so that it could not
wander far, nor was it likely to do so with herbage and water so close
at hand. Here also he could sleep with security, for although he was not
far from the team road, a wayfarer asleep was too ordinary an event for
any one who might penetrate this seclusion to pay any heed to. The
police, as he calculated, would be still hunting after him about Sydney,
or watching the roads between Queensland and Victoria.

He had the advantage of being able to take time by the forelock, for the
police could hardly expect, after his betrayal, that he would be aided
by his betrayers. They knew that he had been run to earth, and would be
searching for him amongst the criminal quarters in Sydney, and this must
occupy them for some days, after which the search would be extended.

Once, however, over the Blue Mountains he did not reckon on having much
trouble in eluding the country police. West Australia was drawing many
towards its gold fields, and he would as likely as not meet many
adventurers taking the same route as he was doing. If he fell upon any
of these explorers he would join them and so be able to escape scrutiny.

Thousands were rushing from all quarters to the golden West. Those who
could afford it going by steamer round the coast, others trecking across
the country.

In the days of the early explorers such a journey as he was taking was
looked upon as well-nigh hopeless. The want of water generally stopped
them, while the desert claimed its countless victims.

But the conundrum of penetrating the interior had been solved by the
most ordinary of bushmen, while the scientific and learned explorers had
failed, through depending too entirely upon what ought to be, and
failing to take advantage of what actually was.

Jack Milton in his varied past experiences had known all sorts of men,
while he invariably kept his eyes and ears open. He knew the water-tree
by sight, and had been told that even in the driest and most arid tracks
it grew and flourished for the benefit of the initiated. Where the
water-tree grew no man need suffer thirst, for its roots were unfailing
taps. If therefore he succeeded in getting past the surveillance of the
police, he was not afraid of the desert.

When night once again fell upon him, he remounted his horse and pursued
his way, and at the end of the second evening had reached Forbes, on the
Lachlan River.

He had passed many people on that second day, for, relying upon his
disguise, he considered that he would be less likely to be stopped and
questioned if he travelled by daylight.

He rested that night in one of the small outlying shanties of Forbes,
and laying in a fresh stock of provisions, pushed rapidly forward to
Booligal, which he reached on the eighth day after his departure from
Sydney.

He had now covered over four hundred miles of his long journey, going at
the rate of nearly sixty miles per day with one horse and without a
relay, which for endurance equalled, if it did not eclipse, Turpin's
famous ride to York.

English owners of horses might well think this to be an impossible feat
for either horse or man, even on the well-ordered highways of delightful
old England, with cool green lanes and refreshing breezes wafting over
the grassy downs, but here in hot and parching Australia, with powdered
dust instead of grass blades and fiery sunbeams shooting down like
heated darts, it would have raised no special remarks. It was a good
pace, certainly, to keep up over these rough and dust-choked roads
during such a dry and hot season, and not over merciful to the beast
that carried him so enduringly and pluckily. Yet men so circumstanced as
Jack Milton was, do not generally study the bridge that carries them
over the stream, more than to consider whether it is sound enough for
their purpose.

Yet I defy any man, no matter how unimpassioned his temperament may be,
who is forced by fate to have a dumb companion and no other, to remain
selfishly indifferent to the feelings of that companion. It may be a cat
or a dog, or any other specimen of that life which we call the lower
world. When the man is cut off from higher companionship he will cling
to and consider that.

Jack Milton had been with his horse for eight days, and although he had
urged him on, and on, yet after the second day he had cast from him his
spurs and whip. When a good rider gets a horse that he knows understands
him, and the horse gets a rider who can manage him, there is no need for
spur or whip. The pressure of a knee, the touch of a hand and the single
word are enough; for the horse and rider are en rapport.

They were chums, these two, by this time--the horse and the man. Jack
had reached forward often on the ride to brush the flies from the face
of his mate, and the horse knew enough of men to appreciate that
kindness. He had mind enough to feel that such a friend would not urge
him on, unless there was a good cause for sweltering under these
blistering sun-rays--trust any sensible horse who feels the clasp of an
experienced pair of legs to know that. He will exert himself cheerfully
for such a rider, yet he knows that the entire game depends upon him not
over-exerting himself, but reserving his strength for the emergency;
therefore he will keep steadily on, resting when he requires to rest,
yet doing his best to please his rider, that is unless he is a cynical
and man-hating quadruped, which few horses are.

It is as natural for a good, young, healthy horse to want to gallop as
it is for a boy to run, and, like Sancho Panza, so long as he has a good
master to serve he is quite content with what is going, good hay or
juicy grass when he can get it, or gum leaves and grass roots to fill up
the vacuum when the luxuries of life are not to be had.

What he likes are friendship and experience, and Jack had both of these
qualities to bind his horse to him. The first night's canter had made
them chums, and nothing in the world could ever alter that. Both animals
and horses will exert themselves and count the effort as nothing if they
have sympathy to carry them along. Bad luck, scorching sun-rays, choking
dust, and short commons are easy to endure so long as harmony prevails.

Jack rubbed down his chum Billy each night when the day's work was over,
and gave him the best he could to make him comfortable. Billy reached
round his velvety if dusty nose and touched the human cheek to show that
he understood those attentions and would do his best to deserve them.
The lustrous brown eyes of Billy looked affectionately and trustfully
into the black eyes of Jack whenever they stood face to face, so that no
words were needed to cement that mutual bond. Jack wanted to get away
and Billy was ready to serve him with his life, for this is ever the
compact between man and beast. The beast offers his life to the man he
has learnt to trust and the man accepts the sacrifice--sometimes
selfishly and sometimes sentimentally, yet always unreservedly, for this
is the way of man and his slave.

It was a hot and trying journey, for the summer season was at its height
and no rain had fallen for months, so that everything was parched and
withered.

They passed through a landscape arid and bare as ploughed fields, with
furnace-like wafts of burning air and gaseous, quivering heat-fumes that
raised mirages on every side of them. The cloudless bleached sky arched
overhead with that fierce and relentless orb moving from east to west,
without a change, and beating down upon them heavy beams of white fire.
The grey dust went with them constantly and enveloped them from morn
till night, filling their nostrils with that impalpable powder and
making them like flour-coated millers, yet westward they rushed with
hardly a pause.

Jack thought sometimes about his wife, Rosa, yet no longer with
bitterness. She had become a vague and misty shadow of the past,
something like a game of cards that he had lost and which he need not
mourn about. Chester was the winner, and he did not grudge him his luck.
He did not think much about the money he had relinquished. The world was
before him with its chances of good and evil.

The man whom he had done to death no longer troubled him. No ghost
followed in his tracks. It had been an accident which he was now paying
for, and the fiercer the sun rays beat and the thirstier the dust made
him, the more lightly throbbed his heart. The man had left no one behind
him whom his death was likely to hurt. Jack had read this from the
papers, therefore that remorse was spared him. It would have been
different if he had killed Rosa in his rage, whom he had kissed and
fondled in his love. This man's death woke no memories, and it is only
memory that raises ghosts. Cain would never have felt accursed if he had
not grown up with Abel, and as Jack felt now, he would be more likely to
mourn over the death of his horse, Billy, than he was likely to do about
that defunct bank clerk.

He stayed two days at Booligal, purchasing a pack horse and some other
articles that he required, also making enquiries about his route. He
fixed upon the Hanson county from the map he had provided himself with,
and gave that out as his ultimate destination to the residents of
Booligal.

They were a kindly, simple and hospitable lot of settlers in this little
township of Booligal, to whom the advent of a stranger was a welcome
sight. News were pretty stale before they reached them, and fashions
were not greatly considered, lying as they did out of the line of
railway traffic.

Money, of course, was at a discount, as the depression of the market for
the past several years gave them, but small inducement for exertion or
competition, yet they were able to jog along fairly comfortable, in a
primitive sort of way. They had plenty of cattle and good grazing land,
and grew what they required in garden produce and cereals.

The account of the Bank robbery had not yet reached them, and Jack
Milton was not likely to relate that bit of news, yet he was able to
satisfy their curiosity by informing them what had occurred for a few
days after their last batch of weekly papers, therefore he was made much
of by these pioneers of civilization. He paid for what he had honestly,
yet was careful to keep up his character by not being lavish, parting
with his coins prudently and behaving himself discreetly, so that when
he said good-bye he left behind him quite a number of hearty friends and
well-wishers.

It was a long and not very interesting ride after this until he reached
Tacnall, and after that Pooncaria, on the River Darling.

He was now seven hundred and eighty miles west from Sydney, and about to
enter upon the most trying part of his journey.

Hitherto he had avoided railway tracks as far as possible, striking from
small township to township. He was now little more than a hundred miles
from Silverton on the New South Wales border land, where possibly the
police were already on the lookout, therefore if he wanted to escape
their scrutiny, he must turn his course now due north towards Cooper's
Creek, avoiding the Broken Hill district, and depending entirely upon
his own exertions after this.

Six hundred miles to Cooper's Creek, and after that two thousand five
hundred miles before he could hope again to touch civilization.

He made his calculations with great care, and reckoning that it would
take him two good months, he provided himself with two more pack-horses,
which he loaded with flour, tea, sugar and matches.

He had a good fowling-piece with him and a Winchester, also enough
ammunition to carry him along besides his revolver; and as his pocket
compass was in correct condition, and his map of the latest date, he had
little fear of losing his road.

Water might be scarce, until the rains came on, but as soon as he got
over the borders, he meant to take it easy, so that his own beard and
hair might grow to a proper length before he showed himself to his
fellow-men. He would live as the aboriginals do, and make his way from
water-hole to water-hole and risk it, as so many had done before him.

Therefore, congratulating himself that hitherto he had escaped
detection, he started on his arduous journey with a light heart.



Chapter XII. Anthony Vandyke Jenkins.

"OH, sanctimonious, centuries behind the times Sydney. Ah, city of
Sadducees and--Jenkinses."

"Here, I say, you Wallace, what the Dickens do you mean by Sadducees,
and coupling my name with such a lot?"

"By Sadducees, Anthony Vandyke, I mean people who do their utmost to
ignore the traditions of the past, yet slavishly adhere to the written
word, and by Jenkinses I mean touchy little mining experts like you."

The scene where this playful badinage took place was in a Hessian
drinking shanty in Canvas Town, Kalgourlie. Outside the moon was shining
almost as bright as sunlight in England, while on the roads crouched the
camels, making night hideous with their demoniac shricks. Between the
tents stalked the majestic Afghan drivers of the camels, giving the
Australian landscape a strangely picturesque appearance, in spite of its
familiar bareness, dust and heat.

Inside the canvas shanty, men clad in flannel shirts, dilapidated
trousers and battered hats, sat playing cards or drinking champagne, for
this was one of the crack shanties of the place, and these were all
successful speculators and mine proprietors, many of them gentlemen
accustomed to the West End clubs of London, others a mingling of all
nationalities gathered here on the one common game, gold hunting.

Bob Wallace, a tall, jovial man of about thirty-five, had floated his
mine and made his pile already, yet he could not keep long from the
field, as few gold-seekers can who have once tasted of the excitement.
He was at present on a flying visit, looking the place up a bit, in the
interests of his shareholders and extending his speculations.

He was known to all there present as one of the sure and lucky ones,
also for some other social qualities which made him always welcome. He
was the Bret Harte, or story-teller of the diggings, and had likewise
made a reputation for his sincere and candid abhorrence of everything
that smacked of Sydney. He had been there as he had been over the
greater portion of the colonies, and while he extolled Victoria,
Queensland, South and West Australia, he never veiled his utter contempt
for the institutions of New South Wales.

Anthony Vandyke Jenkins was a little withered man who hailed from the
obnoxious city, so that whenever the two came together there was sure to
be some diversion.

On the present occasion Anthony looked ready for war. He was the only
dressy man in the shanty, and as he passed his well-ringed hand through
his long tresses he looked wrathfully at the giant before him, and with
pretended coolness took a fresh cigar from his silver case, which he lit
carelessly with the half of a bank-note, the other half he pitched on to
the floor.

"Well, I see nothing wrong either in the one or the other. Only a fool
would boast about traditions, while as for booming, I fancy we all know
that business; but what's got your dander up this evening, Wallace, to
make you abuse the city of my birth, eh?"

"I told you some time ago, about that asinine piece of legislature which
had been passed respecting expectorating in the streets?"

"And I said then that I didn't believe it," replied Jenkins hotly. "It
is all a made-up gag by some enemy. I have not been many months away
from Sydney, and you bet no one dared to stop me from spitting when and
where I liked."

"Oh, no, you couldn't, Anthony, my son," observed Bob Wallace sadly.
"You forget Mrs. Jenkins." "Oh, dash you and Mrs. Jenkins. Here give us
a fresh bottle of pop."

"What is this you are talking about?" asked another member of the
company. "I have only just arrived and haven't heard anything about this
singular regulation."

"The law I could have forgiven, only that it has been the death of an
old friend of mine, by name Soapy Sam."

"Spin us the yarn, Wallace," shouted out several, as they closed round
the speaker, leaving Jenkins in a high state of disgust in the
background. Bob Wallace cleared his throat and began: "The law I refer
to was announced in this fashion:

"'The City of Sydney has imposed a fine of one pound upon any person
convicted of spitting upon the street, or on floors of public
buildings.'"

This most admirable bye-law was not carried through the House of
Representatives without a considerable deal of angry and personal
dispute amongst the opposition, and even amongst the friends of the
Government, for many of them were heavy smokers or chewers, and it did
appear to be the last straw in the matter of curtailing liberty, which
had been laid on the back of that already loaded animal, the public.

But as old Spikehead, the framer of the law, wisely pointed out--
supported, as he was, by medical authority--that besides the
objectionable sight presented to the sensitive eyes of the refined
citizenesses on their fair and sunny streets, the danger of infectious
diseases being spread broadcast by this filthy habit, he silenced all
opposition and carried his point.

Now Spikehead did not waste tobacco by burning or chewing it, besides,
as he pointedly remarked: "Pocket handkerchiefs are cheap enough, and
gentlemen are expected to carry them."

That clenched the business with the "House," for Sydney members of
Parliament pride themselves on their gentlemanly instincts and
behaviour, as all can testify who have listened to or read their
debates. Bob Wallace was evidently reciting from some newspaper article.

It caused wild excitement as well as consternation in the city and
suburbs, however, for everyone did not use handkerchiefs, while many who
did indulge in this extravagance, often forgot them when changing their
coats in a hurry to go into town. There were epidemics of influenza and
whooping-cough in the air at the time, which artful Spikehead was aware
of, asthma was quite a common complaint during that damp season, while
chewing tobacco was almost universal. People also, who had never
acquired the habit of spitting, no sooner read the announcement than
pure nervous dread at once gave them a plethora of saliva, with the
almost irresistible desire to get rid of it in the very way which was
prohibited.

Spikehead was a wily old politician, who had turned over a good deal of
profit by several of his former Parliamentary dodges, and here he saw
the chance of making another pile, therefore he promptly took time by
the forelock.

He knew, of course, that it was impossible to restrain people from
spitting, by fines or imprisonment, and he had up his sleeve a nice
little patent of his own in the way of public spittoons. When the people
could stand no more, and rose in their fury, then he would present his
model and get carte blanche from the Government to put the patent up at
every corner, on every lamp-post, at the end of every church pew, in
theatre seats--in fact the city would be forced to use spittoons both
indoors and out in unlimited numbers.

His idea was to force the public to the verge of rebellion first, and
then introduce his remedy; therefore, in order to keep the interest up,
he employed an old pal of his and mine called Soapy Sam, who had fallen
in the world and become a confirmed and homeless loafer. He concocted
with Soapy to go about and spit right and left.

He could depend upon the secrecy of Soapy Sam, and as that aged loafer
was supplied freely with his favourite negro-head, and was an inveterate
chewer, besides caring no more for prison than he did for boots, he took
to the job in the kindest manner possible.

His first offence against the law happened within half an hour of his
engagement, and having no money to pay the fine, he got off with
fourteen days and a caution.

"Wot's a man to do as han't got a wiper?" he asked the magistrate, and
that worthy told him to spit in his pocket for want of a better place.
Now Soapy didn't own a pocket free enough from holes to carry this kind
of luggage, but the kindly hint gave him an idea, the humour of which
tickled him so highly that he spent his fortnight of prison in
alternative fits of uproarious laughter.

No sooner was he set at liberty than he hastened to put his idea into
practice. He marched into one of the principal streets, and going up to
a policeman, said: "See yer, mate, I want to spit; where can I do it?"

The policeman looked at the tatterdemalion with contempt, and while he
was doing so, Soapy deliberately seized the coat tails and shifted his
masticated quid into the policeman's pocket.

He got a broken head for that feat and two months' hard, but he was no
sooner out than he repeated the offence. Sometimes, he would take out a
gentleman's handkerchief, and after using it, return it to the owner
with an ironical bow, sometimes he would favour a lady's reticule.

At last in the wantonness of his humour, he committed a capital offence,
according to the law of this enlightened land. He rang at the frontdoor
bell of the offices of Judge Jeffreys, that terror of all evil-doers.

When his summons was answered, Soapy Sam informed the attendant that he
had some particular information to give to the judge, and on being
introduced to that gentleman, he deliberately expectorated on his white
vest. That did for the humorist, for this gentleman had no appreciation
of this kind of new humour. Soapy was arrested, tried for treason and
outrage against the sacred majesty of the State, and sentenced to be
hanged.

And, gentlemen, poor Soapy has died game to his principles, for he spat
on the scaffold into the clergyman's hat. He also remained faithful to
his employer, which was more, I daresay, than old Spikehead would have
done by him.

The latest news I have to give you all is that the free and happy city
of Sydney is blessed with compulsory spittoons with Government officials
to empty them; let us drop, therefore, a tear over the martyrdom of
Soapy Sam.

"Bah! as if any one could swallow that beastly tommy-rot," shouted
Anthony, as he crammed his hat over his eyes and prepared to leave the
tent.

"It's a quotation from your favourite periodical--the last edition of
the Guillotine, Anthony. Of course I cannot therefore vouch for its
accuracy, but you have it as I read it," answered Wallace gently to the
departing visitor.

"It's much too washy for Puffadder. I don't believe a word of it," and
the little man disappeared. "Who is this Jenkins?" asked the new
arrival.

"Oh, one of our successes here," answered Wallace. "He has had a
wonderful career of his own." "Oh, give us the 'Rise and Fall of
Jenkins, Wallace." "That is a historical tale, therefore a long one, for
with Jenkins, the whole land boom of Australia is inseparably linked. In
fact Jenkins is the Land Boom." "Let us have it, old fellow, the night
is young, and we have nothing else to do."

"Well, boys, you have seen how Jenkins comes out in the way of costume
here--ah, that is nothing to what he was five years ago. I'll spin you
the yarn, but to do so properly, I must describe Jenkins before his
first rise, next when, like King Solomon, he was in all his glory, and
afterwards, before he came out west." "Drive ahead in your own way,"
shouted the company.

It is difficult to trace the exact and original causes of the great and
disastrous Australian land boom, which ruined so many, and plunged the
colonies into such a depth of despair, from which they are now only
beginning to emerge. It may have been a wave of contagion spreading from
the Liberator building fever in England, that touched the brains, and
made men go mad on this other side, or the passion for gambling
engendered by the turfite and predestinating proclivities of the
colonials. Whatever the original causes were, the Australians went as
furiously demented over the buying and selling of land as did the people
of England, during the reign of Queen Anne, over the South Sea Bubble,
and with as disastrous effect.

There are as level-headed and shrewd men in the colonies as in any other
part of the world, that is, outside the excitements attending
horse-racing, for when the great national sports are on, there is but
small chance of getting calm reason or common sense from either man,
woman or child. In the ordinary course of business, however, if the
colonial is swindled at all, it must be either by an impostor sporting a
bogus title, or making a display of wealth on expectation, or else the
Australian is taken advantage of by his own fancied cleverness, or
desire for speedy gain. He is seldom fleeced through an appeal to his
benevolence or generosity, as English gulls so frequently are.

This is more particularly observable in New South Wales than throughout
any of the sister colonies, for here they support such peculiar
institutions, are so positive about their own superior wisdom, knowledge
and shrewdness, and devote themselves so exclusively to the worship of
the great god Ego, and yet withal are so easily led by the nose if
adroitly managed, that this portion of the colonies has always been
regarded as a kind of paradise for the genteel rogue and swindler.

The land boom had been fairly set afloat, and legitimate business was
looked upon with contempt by all except a few of the oldest colonists,
and those who had neither property to sell, nor credit to trade upon.
The others who could command even the most limited trust, became
speculators and went stark, staring mad.

They rushed to the original owners of the land, purchasing, with bills,
when they had not cash enough, the most swampy, unprofitable and
unlikely plots of ground. They formed companies, subdivided the ground,
put it up to auction, and sold it over and over again at exorbitant
prices. They raised what cash they could, at compound interest, from the
banks, to pay the preliminary expenses, and realised fortunes on paper,
as fast as they could sign, purchase and sell. As long as a man had
enough to pay for the stamp, his bond was taken, and he became the
owner, without a consideration being given to title deeds. Within half
an hour he had sold his bargain to some other speculator at twenty times
his purchase price, who again transferred it to some one else, at the
same rate of profit.

So the ball kept rolling from hand to hand, getting bigger as it went
on, while the excited speculators flourished their paper fortunes in the
faces of those friends who were inclined to stick quietly to what they
had earned by honest toil, until they also caught the infection and
rushed blindly into the market. Talk of kite-flying in China or Japan,
the whole of the azure atmosphere of Australia was so crammed with kites
that it was impossible to see blue sky or daylight anywhere.

Our friend, Anthony Vandyke Jenkins, was a sign writer and grainer by
profession at this time, and he practised his art in the historic city
of Sydney. Now, as I suppose everyone here may have noticed, house
painters and paperhangers are great dandies as a rule, and aim at being
very genteel and artistic in their habits. They like to curl and anoint
their long tresses, and are careful about the cut of their moustaches
and beards. They wear very tight and dressy boots, with high heels, and
are generally a swaggering and cavalier set of beings, who are apt to
fill the policemen's hearts with envy and despair when they take
possession of the kitchens and maid-servants of big houses. At such
times the policeman has to keep to his own beat, or transfer his
guardianship to some other house, where the family are still at home,
and leave those fascinators a clear field.

The grainer and sign-painter is a kind of superior officer of this
gallant army of invaders, and gives himself accordingly greater airs,
but if he chances also to dabble in pictures at his leisure times, then
the largest mansion built is hardly grand or large enough to hold his
proud and lofty spirit.

A. V. Jenkins had a fair reputation as a grainer and writer, that is, he
passed muster in his own town, and as did the other natives of this
delectable city, he considered that what he did not know, no other man
in the wide world need attempt to learn. He painted pictures also, or
what he called pictures, and therefore was the most condescending and
insufferably affable of artistic prigs.

He was then a thin, little, withered man of about thirty, with a
pot-hook nose, wearied-looking, crow-blue eyes, long auburn tresses and
a highly-cultivated moustache which curled over his wan cheeks like a
pair of corkscrews. He always wore elastic-sided and exceedingly
high-heeled boots, a size, if not more, too tight for his small feet, a
Byronic shirt and collar, with a flowing necktie, brown velveteen jacket
with light tweed trousers, a crimson or blue sash round his waist
instead of a vest, and a broad-brimmed Alpine felt hat with puggerie
attached, cocked jauntily on the side of his frizzled hair. If the
weather chanced to be cool enough, he added to this picturesque costume
a Spanish-shaped cloak, which, dangling carelessly from his narrow
shoulders by a chain and hook, gave him, in his own estimation, that
distinguished appearance which characterized the Dutch painter after
whom he has condescended to name himself.

As might be supposed from this description, he was not a married man at
this date; wives generally soon take this kind of vanity out of a man,
although while sweethearts, the class of girls which dashing gentlemen
of this sort patronize, are captivated with it. In principles, he shared
the atheistic ideas of a vast number of the rising race of cornstalks,
took in the Sydney Guillotine and the Sunday Verity, and retailed the
enlightened and refined opinions and delicate humour of these
journalistic Titans. In his amours he was a disciple of Rochester and
the cavaliers of Charles the Second's period, yet being prudent, as well
as somewhat weak in his digestive organs, he saved his wages and sipped
moderately from the bowl, enjoying himself, when he could do so, gratis.

Being of an economical nature, he had managed to bank a little money, as
well as invest in some leasehold land about the suburbs, before the boom
came to upset his equilibrium, as it did most other people's. He also
had entertained serious thoughts about ranging himself and marrying a
dressmaker, who carried on a paying business in the city.

But this was in the industrious and steady period of his life, before he
became the director of several land companies and realized the
foundation of a colossal fortune on paper; then, of course, he broke
promptly with the dressmaker, discarded legitimate art, and laid himself
out to capture something infinitely more substantial.

His two or three plots of ground, which, by the way, he had been
purchasing by instalments, gave him a position of influence at once. By
subdividing these into minute portions, and aided by a number of
experienced gentlemen and flaming prospectuses, the shares were rushed
at, and with the first instalments, an army of builders began operations
and flung up houses almost like magic. As I have said, a little money
went a long way in those flourishing fever-days. The builders were paid
by shares and bills. The materials were paid for by the builders also
with notes of hand. The banks advanced cash on the buildings to cover
current expenses and wages that had to be paid. The company sold the
leaseholds and buildings to other speculators, who paid so much down and
the rest in bills at three, six, and twelve months' date. The
speculators transferred at enormous profits their purchases to other
speculators, and then, when the property reached the extreme limit, it
was sold to people who wished to hold on, and who borrowed and cheated
to get money to meet their liabilities as they fell due.

There was no limit to the game, while it was being played by the
reasonless or swindling mob. A man would buy an estate at auction,
without a shilling in his pocket to settle the discount of the
auctioneer, put it up again without leaving the Mart and sell it for
five times its price, to some other adventurer who had just enough to
pay for the transfer, then the needy speculator settled his first claim
and gave bills for the remainder, and went out to enjoy himself with the
surplus cash won in that gamble.

Trust was unbounded and money poured into the tills of hotel-keepers and
bookmakers, for there were men, who had money, so infatuated, that they
paid on the nail in order to get a discount. These were generally the
last purchasers, or if they sold again for a large profit, they got
paper promises for what they had paid cash, and also went their way
happy and confident that they had done a splendid stroke of business.

As pure love of lucre was the order of the day, our pity must be
qualified for these victims when the crash came. The speculator who for
a thousand pounds expects to get twenty thousand, merely by signing a
cheque and taking a bill, cannot expect much sympathy if he loses his
thousand.

The needy kite-fliers were the men who flourished during this period
like green bay trees. Substantial bank depositors rushed into the nets,
and hungrily snapped up the shares, thereby making themselves
responsible for the rotten companies. There was hardly a man who was not
bitten by the land-boom Tarantula, who did not spin round recklessly and
consider himself a millionaire. It was splendid, a hundred times better
than gold-digging. Fathers who had been saving and prudent in the old
days, now frantically wrote home to England, where their sons were,
imploring them to throw up their businesses there, borrow all they
could, and come out at once and make their fortunes. It was the wildest
stampede after spoil that had ever been witnessed by humanity, and
although the feeblest intelligence might easily have foreseen the end,
the goddess of Reason had departed from Australia, and blind and deaf
Chance alone guided these besotted victims.



Chapter XIII. The Prosperity and Fall of Jenkins.

ANTHONY VANDYKE JENKINS was in clover. He lived in the most sumptuous of
apartments, and dined as a lord is supposed to do, all the days of the
week. He drove about the city in the handsomest of carriages, and
dressed himself in a fresh suit twice and thrice daily. His pockets were
filled with sovereigns, while he got pretty well all he desired on
credit.

All day long it was a case of buying and selling, his profits were
enormous, so also were his liabilities, but these he did not consider;
when a bill fell due, he raised money from the banks to meet part of it,
while he renewed the rest, and to meet the needful expenses and careless
extravagances, he and his brother directors made calls on the
shareholders who could pay, and gave those who could not, credit--as
they were getting themselves on all sides.

It seemed so easy to rake in money now, that he wondered he had ever
been so spiritless as to work for his living. The companies that he had
floated were of course responsible for all liabilities, that is, the
shareholders and those brother directors who were solid enough to be
responsible for anything. Anthony, and those brother sharks who had
taught him the lucrative business of the stock exchange, having no
household gods to risk, sailed along gaily and plunged with giddy
recklessness into the rapids, pledging themselves and their shareholders
as if they had the exhaustless coffers of Monte Christo in the cellars
of their city offices. They were using the milk of their cows for
themselves, and buying the grass to feed them with the money which their
customers were foolish enough to pay beforehand.

Of course it became a strict necessity for the swindlers to be dressy
and flash in their personal adornments, for this display imparted
confidence to the flock who came to be shorn. The love of finery and
ostentation which had been the weakness of Anthony in his sign-writing
days, became his strength now that he was a board director and company
promoter. His passion for airing his opinions made him valuable to his
less eloquent partners. Public dinners could not be dispensed with, and
the oftener he showed himself at race-courses, theatres, fashionable
drinking bars, and clubs, the more he was respected and run after, by
the moneyed gulls who were needful for the continuance of this lively
existence.

He became an honoured member of the Athenaeum and other clubs. At
Tattersall's, the Marble Hall and the "Australian" bar, most of his
richest fish were caught, for he had won the reputation of being a lucky
guide to follow, and that was everything in his new business. Educated
men and gentlemen forgave his palpable ignorance and objectionable
manners, and eagerly invited the inflated little cad to their private
houses, introducing him to their wives, sons and daughters, all to have
a slice of the fortune that seemed to be following him.

On his part, being a native of the city, he knew where to look for the
victims who would be able to give solidity to his floating concerns, and
so he cultivated their friendship assiduously, and being now amongst the
set he had aspired to, he cast his conquering glances round for a
suitable wife, and at last fixed upon one whom he considered would do
credit to his position and artistic taste.

Sir Timothy Gumsucker, K.C.M.G., was one of the most notable veterans in
the colony, having served Parliament and his country in many capacities.
He was a strong protectionist, and had been extremely popular with the
democratic section before he had weakly consented to receive the honour
of knighthood. He owned a good deal of property and had accumulated a
considerable fortune by extensive jobbery during his different terms of
office. However, neither this nor his bare-faced swindling of tradesmen
interfered with his being respected by his constituents and party, for
he had only done what every other public character did in this colony,
and the people would have regarded him as a fool, if he had not improved
his opportunities.

He had been married five times and was blessed with eight daughters,
three of whom were as yet unmarried. It was the youngest of these
charming damsels that Antony Vandyke Jenkins fixed his ambitious fancy
upon, a fair girl of about twenty-three, and as the honourable and
venerable K.C.M.G. regarded the little cad as a person of influence and
fortune, he gave every encouragement to his pretensions. The young lady
also received her suitor with amiability and accepted his presents, so
that it looked as if he was going to be as successful in love as he
appeared to be in financial matters.

His impudence and overweening colonial conceit as I have already shown,
were unbounded, and it is amazing how some foolish girls are impressed
and attracted by these qualities in a man. He had been smart enough to
draw the father into the boom, or rather the unscrupulous politician's
own insatiable rapacity had driven him into the web, so that it was not
so wonderful that Anthony's flashy impudence and bold confidence should
have caught the maiden.

To calm and dispassionate people like us, it will appear a foolish
action on the part of Anthony to inveigle his intended father-in-law
into the vortex in which himself and so many were madly whirling. A
little forethought and common sense might have suggested the reserving
of that fortune for the bursting of the whirlwind, as something to
soften the tumble. But common sense and forethought were the two
qualities that were utterly wanting in every colonial during that
period. Sir Timothy Gumsucker was as infatuated and reasonless as his
neighbours, and no persuasion on earth could have kept him out of the
gang. Anthony also never had a doubt about the reality of his fabulous
paper fortune. How it was to be realised never troubled him for a
second. The shares were rising by bounds every day. The public
confidence and enthusiasm were increasing. The Auction Marts were
thronged, while land and property every day rose in value. Earth, sand,
stones and mortar were already more precious than gold-dust, and
everyone considered the limit was a long way ahead.

Sir Timothy, like an old spider, was waiting and still buying in, and
during his long career of state duplicity he had acquired a confidence
in his own wisdom that nothing could shake. Of course he knew that the
moment to sell out would arrive sooner or later, for he had been too
long in the colonies not to know the real value of property and land;
but with Anthony in his hands, he considered that he had his finger on
the pulse of the market, and therefore was content to wait and watch.

Anthony likewise had a profound faith in the astuteness of the great
Gumsucker. While he held on, everything was safe, so the knaves blindly
trusted each other, and no man dared to sell out entirely.

As a proof of the confidence of Anthony in the soundness of his
position, he presented, as a salve for the wounded affections of his
former flame, Mary the dressmaker, a number of shares, for her to keep
or dispose of as she liked.

True, Mary had not suffered her wrongs silently, for of late she
troubled the young man a good deal, threatening him with a breach of
promise suit, and to drag him before that sympathetic judge of the
divorce court, Jeffreys, who, although merciless enough where men were
concerned, had a most indulgent and weak side for the ladies. It was,
therefore, not altogether regret or generous shame for his ungallant
conduct that made the little man yield his former sweetheart those
shares, but rather from the laudable desire to purchase her silence.

Mary took the shares and gave Anthony his liberty and love-letters, but,
being a woman of more common sense than imagination, she promptly placed
her shares on the market, and sold them without difficulty to Sir
Timothy for cash down. This money she locked up in her desk, and
continued her dressmaking business quietly, considering a thousand
pounds in gold to be more satisfactory than a verdict in her favour, and
even the thousand pounds damages paid for in the famous bills of Anthony
Vandyke Jenkins. Whether she was wise in her generation will be seen
presently.

Meantime the love affairs of Anthony went on prosperously. Maud Blanche
Gumsucker, who was a tall and finely-formed young lady, with a wealth of
golden hair and china-blue eyes, liked her impudent little cavalier
amazingly, and considered him quite a remarkable genius. He had bestowed
upon her, with other more costly presents, a few of his past copies,
from the Illustrated London News prints, in oil and water colours,
magnificently framed, to decorate her bedroom; and although she could
not but perceive that his education had been somewhat neglected, and
that his manners were not all that might be expected at Government
House, still he was not much worse than many of the other young sons of
colonial grandees, while his easy pertness and caddish insolence
eclipsed even the most audacious. When he uttered his opinion about any
matter they were glad to side with him, for he had a pretty turn for
delicate repartee, acquired from the Guillotine, that generally silenced
opposition or dissent.

As a sign-writer, of course, the lady-like Maud Blanche would never have
looked at him, or treated him otherwise than with the most supreme
contempt, but as a prodigiously wealthy speculator and director, as well
as an authority on Art, she considered him to be an adorable little
darling.

Anthony, when Maud and he were standing together, only reached up to the
young lady's shoulder, yet this did not interfere with her respect for
him, for she was one of those tall girls who are rather ashamed of their
own size; while as for him, he was perfectly satisfied with his stature,
and disposed to jeer at those great awkward fellows who fill up rooms
and knock down china; yet he liked to look at a fine-built woman so long
as she had the good taste to admire his own graceful perfections. The
conditions being favourable, in the present instance, the course of true
love ran smoothly with this well-assorted couple.

His long and extensive experience with the fair sex, as far as servants
and dressmakers were concerned, had made him a master in the art of
treating the tender lore. "Flattery, Fervour and Familiarity" were his
policy and motto. Flattery to commence with, in plentiful and constant
doses. Flattery with fervour combined, when the subject had grown
interested in the operator, and, to use his own words, "The three F's
without stint as quickly as possible. Don't give them time for
consideration, and the victory is sure."

And the little conqueror was right with Maud Blanche, as he had been
with the housemaids. He kept at her without a pause, and gave her no
time for thought, jibing at other suitors to their faces, and jeering at
them after he had chased them from the field. He made her laugh at his
rivals at the same time that he filled her ears with the most florid
compliments about her own undoubted attractions. Being above all sense
of the ridiculous and indifferent to being charged with plagiarism, he
quoted the high-flown language of that favourite with colonials, Lord
Lytton, and talked to her as the romantic hero Claude Melnotte did to
Pauline, using the free actions that he had seen with actors on the
stage, while she, who also had seen the drama personated and knew it
well, "As the bee upon the flower, hung upon the eloquence of his
tongue."

She was wooed and won easily, and after he had knelt before her, amongst
the exotics in the conservatory, in the orthodox style, and she had
stooped over him and leaned her fair head upon his breast, he sought her
father, and they discussed business together and arranged terms, and
then the marriage was fixed to take place at an early date.

"Will you realize before or after the wedding?" enquired Sir Timothy
blandly, as he gave his consent.

"Oh, hang it, no, the time isn't nearly ripe yet," replied the bold and
confident young financier. "I've got cash enough for all our expenses,
and if more is required, we can have another call, or borrow from the
bank on our securities."

"I think you are right, Anthony; your mansion is almost ready, and will
be quite in order before you get over the honeymoon. Where do you intend
to enjoy that?"

"Oh, Coogee Bay, or the Blue Mountains," answered the younger man. "I
must be within touch of the market." "Right again, my boy. You will have
to go into Parliament, after you are settled."

The catastrophe came with the suddenness of a thunderbolt. Speculators
and shareholders went to sleep, filled with confidence and security, and
woke up next morning, dishonoured paupers.

It happened just two days before the day which had been fixed for the
wedding. Maud Blanche was ready with her trousseau. Sir Timothy had made
elaborate preparations for a gorgeous breakfast, and Anthony was
feasting his host of bachelor friends like a Sardanapalus.

I fancy the crash occurred first in Victoria, but if so, the telegraphic
wires spread the thunderclap almost immediately over the colonies.

Anthony had read somewhere that it was the correct thing for an accepted
lover to make a clean breast of all his former weakness and frailties to
his chosen one before marriage, and, as this was an agreeable task to
him, he went through the programme like a man, making Maud think what a
treasure she had stolen from her despairing sex.

"You are done with all that now though, aren't you--you won't break any
more hearts, will you, Anthony?" she said, with tearful eyes.

"I am done with my free, wild days, Maud, my beloved, and will be
faithful till death," answered Anthony nobly, while he kissed and
comforted his betrothed.

He had spent nearly all his ready money on his preparations, and went
with confidence to his bank to borrow more, and was astonished when the
manager informed him that there was no cash to spare. From the bank he
proceeded to a board meeting, and it was while they were discussing
matters that the appalling tidings reached them. Three of the needy
directors promptly took their departure, but were captured and brought
back with the loot they were carrying off, and put in prison as
defaulters. Another director shot himself, and after this the trouble
commenced.

The banks suspended payment one after the other in rapid succession.
Builders and tradesmen failed right and left, and the workmen were
thrown out of employment and left to starve. Men who had bought the
houses to live in, were turned out without the slightest possibility of
getting the instalments they had paid back again. Shareholders who had
money were held responsible for those who had not, and stripped bare.

No one escaped, except those who had nothing, for the paper transactions
were so complicated that no satisfactions could be got out of them.

The original owners claimed the houses and land; but as many of these
owners were also involved, these rights became a curse to them. The
country was in a state of bankruptcy and not a shilling could be raised.
It was a total collapse and a ruined people. Consternation, despair and
death, reigned supreme. The pluck was completely taken out of the
Australians.

Sir Timothy Gumsucker was worse off than he had been when he came to the
colony fifty years before, for besides losing all that he possessed, he
had made himself responsible for such sums that he could never raise his
head again. There was no inducement for any one to struggle, they were
all hopelessly submerged.

Anthony Vandyke Jenkins escaped prison only by his insignificance. The
wardrobe which he had bought on credit was seized, as was the trousseau
of his intended bride, and both were left with what they had on their
persons in the shape of clothing. Of course, beggars, as they were,
could not think about marriage, therefore the engagement was ended by
mutual consent.

Jenkins' high spirits had left him for the time, yet his luck did not
quite desert him, for Mary, the dressmaker, came to his rescue in his
hour of need, forgave him so far for his lapse of fidelity as to marry
him and make him her servant. She kept the business open, although there
was little trade doing, yet the thousand pounds carried them over the
crisis. She looked strictly after it and him, while he settled down
contentedly with his subordinate position, doing what most of the other
married men do in Sydney, that is, running errands, looking after the
house and garden, with an occasional saunter in the domain, which is
called seeking for work, and living like tame tom-cats on what their
wives have, or are able to make.

His jauntiness was gone, his Alpine hat and velveteen coat had grown
rusty and frayed, his trousers were patched and baggy, his boots
heelless, and all that was left to him of his former pride were his
moustache, long hair, and atheistic opinions. Mrs. Jenkins permitted him
to retain those, so long as he did not bounce about them, for being
mistress of the position, she put her foot firmly down and meant to
remain mistress.

"Such, gentlemen, is the edifying history of Jenkins in the past. What
he may become in the future I am not clairvoyant enough to
prognosticate, yet, at the present, he is piling up the dimes and making
cigar lights of five-pound notes."



Chapter XIV. Jack Milton Makes for the West.

TO the mind poetic, artistic, romantic or retrospective, Australia is
not the land for the development of these imaginative faculties, and I
much fear will not be for ages, or at least generations, to come. Yet if
ever Apollo condescends to honour this vast continent of gold with his
presence or those of his handmaids, I fancy that they will avoid those
latitudes between 30 and 35, for it is there that Pluto holds his
empire.

Opals and other precious gems, gold, silver, copper, iron, coal, and all
the other hard gifts which the god of the nether world offers to his
serfs, are to be found here to those who can wrest them from the Genii
of the fiery and waterless desert, yet the streams and woodlands so
necessary for the existence of the gentler deities are wanting.

Truth may perchance be found at the bottom of an artesian well, as
trusting people will persist in believing that she dwells with the
mining expert, but the Naiads are not be found beside the condensed
water tanks. The skies are too metallic in the hardness of their lustre
for Poesy to soar through, the gum trees too shadeless and avaricious in
their thirst, for Dryads to disport under.

And yet, who knows? Perchance in the far and distant future an
Australian race may come into existence who will in some sense resemble
the Greeks in their art instincts, as now they do in their vices. It may
yet come to pass that suitable and fair cities may fringe those sapphire
seas, instead of shapeless blocks and arid streets.

When they have dug gold enough out of the flinty soil to satisfy even
their eucalyptine souls, they may begin to patronise native-bred
sculptors, painters and architects. The art instinct seems already
dawning in Victoria, albeit the pioneers of art there are likely to be
martyrs. In New South Wales it is as yet darkest night.

But, if the great ideas and noble aspirations which have made the Greeks
the admired of nations, and those tender and pretty fancies which render
England and Germany such haunted lands, are absent from this dry-as-dust
and materialistic continent, no one who has visited its sadly
uninteresting shores can deny that, as far as worldly prosperity and
rude vitality go, it is stupendously great. The present possessors may
be girded inches thick with callous selfishness, and totally devoid of
originality and ideality, but they are undoubtedly robust and go-ahead
in their blundering and heartless manner. Ready to endure untold
hardships and discomforts to gain their aims and win a position.
Existing only for lucre in its most sordid sense, they force nutriment
even from the most arid sand-desert. For this strength of purpose and
indomitable will-force, they must be admired, if they fail to win
affection. Their country also, to those who can exist without traditions
or sympathy, is great, and must yet be greater as it is developed and
its resources fostered. Sensitive and poetic hearts may be broken, but
Australia must advance as she desires to advance, in worldly prosperity,
aggressive materialism and ostentatious parade. Every Australian, male
or female, is born with the one great desire, which bears down every
other passion, to become rich in worldly goods. He or she can only
respect wealth, therefore they have no room in that land for a Socrates,
a Buddha, or a Jesus Christ. They are plutocrats to the inmost recesses
of their souls.

When a man is hard up in Australia, there are but three courses open to
him, for the fourth, that of trading upon the sympathy or benevolence of
his fellow creatures, is an utter impossibility. If hope still clings to
his heart, he turns his face towards the wilderness, and with his pick
and shovel, attempts to force from Mother Nature her gifts. He knows as
he steps out, that he will probably die of starvation by the way, yet
that fate is as certain in the city, if he lingers after he has lost the
only thing that can win him a smile or a hand-shake from his fellowman;
there is no disinterested friendship in Australia, which is the cause
why so many turn criminals there. He may join the school of Jack Milton
in whatever branch his talents lie. House-breaking, pocket-picking in
its simple or more elaborate methods, that is, he may dip his fingers
directly into the pockets of his fellows and get a trifle now and again
dangerously, or he may become the speculative adventurer, start offices
or enter Parliament. There are a hundred different openings for the
inventive thief, who is reduced to trade on his talents, but not one for
the honest man who has become destitute.

The third course is suicide if he has not courage to face starvation and
the Wallaby track, and too much sentiment to go in for robbery. One
thing he may be sure of, neither his relations, his so-called friends,
nor Society at large, care one iota what becomes of him.

Thus he learns to live for himself, as his wife, children, and other
relations are doing. When he is rich he buys his pleasures with callous
disregard. When he is poor he has to learn to do without, so this
knowledge braces him up in the hour of his adversity, and he goes forth
with a hard laugh, and renders him impervious to pity in the hour of his
prosperity. It is not the philosophy of Socrates I will admit, nor does
it tend to make humanity a lovely contemplation, yet it is a philosophy
of its kind. The philosophy that comforted that ancient band of refugees
who left their wives and children to the mercy of the foe, satisfied
that there would be no difficulty in finding women and raising children
wherever they chanced to settle.

Jack Milton was too much experienced in colonial city life, as well as
colonial prisons, to play the folly of Lot's wife and look behind him as
he went on his journey. What the future held for him was alone the
subject to speculate upon. He had committed the mistake of giving way
once to sentiment, possibly he would do so again, for that he had chosen
housebreaking instead of the more lucrative and respectable game of
swindling, proved that he had a weak strain of sentiment about his
composition, which was decidedly anti-colonial. Yet the past, as far as
this weakness, Rosa, was concerned, was as much beyond recall as last
week's dinner.

At Euriouie, a small township fifty miles from Silverton, which was the
first place at which he ventured to rest after leaving Pooncaria, he got
a glance at some of the late Sydney papers, and read an account of the
divorce and knew that he was now once again free from the noose of
Hymen, although still within the reach of the more speedy noose of
Ketch.

He had still his false beard and wig on, but they were getting sadly
worn and would soon be useless as disguises; however, the small
population of this township being mostly rough-and-ready miners, they
were not too inquisitive. Indeed, their main desire appeared to be to
induce him to move on as quickly as possible, being fearful that he had
come to look for work.

They told him they were on half-time themselves, and even that at
reduced wages, so that there was no use his applying if that was his
intention.

"The mines all round here are over-crowded, the work is killing, not one
man in a hundred can stand these mines longer than nine months, so take
our square tip and clear out while you can."

Jack thought this advice wholesome in more ways than one, although he
sneered a little at the narrowness of these New South Welshmen. No,
strangers are not made welcome where there is any work likely to be had,
in any portion of that colony.

He enquired his way north and was directed to Milperinka, the township
of the Albert Gold Field near Mount Brown, and after a good night's rest
and with a fresh stock of provisions, he shook the dust of Euriouie from
him and set off on the coach track for another hundred and fifty miles.

From Milperinka he passed through Tibbooburra, twenty miles' distance,
only waiting at each of these gold centres long enough to refresh
himself and his horses, and then, crossing the borders, he found himself
at Wompah in Queensland; at last he was out of the dreaded colony,
although still too near it to be able to breathe safely.

He had now shaken the blood-hounds off his scent, and need go no farther
north. By making careful enquiries at Wompah, he learnt that due west a
hundred and fifty miles, he would reach a small squatters' settlement
called Tinga-Tinga in South Australia, with outlying stations for
another couple of hundred miles north-west beyond the top of Lake Eyre.
He announced to the residents of Wompah that he was on an exploring
expedition, therefore he was received with great kindness and furnished
not only with every information, but presented with another good horse
and as much provisions as they could carry.

"You have a roughish bit of country to cross before you reach West
Australia, but this isn't a bad time of year to take it. The rains may
be on any day now and fill the creeks, and there are water-holes on the
way if you keep well to the southward. Look out for the natives, that's
all, for they are a bad lot about these quarters."

He had now four pack horses, two laden with food and sleeping blankets,
and two with water kegs. These were all in first-rate condition, and as
the route to be taken was pretty clearly mapped out, he resolved to get
on to Giles' lower track as soon as he could make it. Once out of the
reach of the telegraph posts and out of sight of men who studied
newspapers and public descriptions, he could afford to cast aside his
disguise and be himself.

Of course the natives were to be reckoned as one of the formidable
dangers in crossing that vast track alone, but Jack had before now been
amongst natives, and he had a theory of his own respecting them. It was
well known that whereas they often fell upon parties, yet they had been
known to extend their patronage to the solitary traveller. With the
probable risks of death from hunger and thirst, the risks of a
spear-given quietus must be also taken.

Therefore, thanking his kindly friends for the hospitality and gifts
they had so freely bestowed upon him, he bade them adieu and rode into
the wilderness.

He had no intention of touching upon Tinga-Tinga if he could get past it
without being observed, for he had now provisions enough to last him a
couple of months, and a fortnight's supply of water, as he meant to use
them. For the past fortnight he had been training to do with as little
food as could carry him along, and had succeeded wonderfully in
restraining from liquids. He now resolved to limit himself still more
and only boil his billy once every two days. He had read that the Arabs
who have to cross the deserts make a rule to eat and drink only once
every-twentyfour hours, and what an Arab could do, he meant to try.

The temperature was hot and dry, but the atmosphere was clear and
exhilarating, in the latitude in which he was. The ground also well
covered with grass, so that he had no trouble in finding his horses.

He was still within the belt of civilization, and might at any time come
upon a party of outlying police, for there was a large reward offered
for his capture, therefore he kept as much as he could within the cover
of the bush, avoiding such open tracks as were used by the sheep.

He made a long journey each day, starting at daybreak and only resting
when night came on. At times the sky would be filled with heavy clouds
as if rain was coming, but as yet none came. In six days' time he came
to what he guessed was Cooper's Creek, which, although pretty dry, had
yet some well-filled water-holes along its channel. Here he rested for a
full day to refresh his horses, then, filling his kegs, he went on,
keeping north-west as he had been told.

During those seven days he had met no one and seen no signs of
habitations, although he could tell from the ground that flocks of sheep
had been feeding there; therefore he still wore his disguise, although
longing to cast it aside.

On the tenth day he saw in the distance a shepherd's hut, and at the
sight his desire for companionship grew too strong to resist. He had
been feeling the depression of isolation like a nightmare for the past
two days, and could have parted with half the gold he carried to hear
the sound of a human voice; therefore he made for the hut and about
sundown came up to it and was hailed by the shepherd with as much
eagerness and pleasure as he himself felt. These shepherds lead terribly
lonely and monotonous lives in such isolated back stations as this was,
often seeing no one from year's end to year's end.

After supper the shepherd, who was a man of about sixty, and appeared
stupid with his dreadful existence, informed him that his was the last
white face he would see this side of Western Australia. In another day
Jack could with all safety cast aside his disguise.

The hut he was in was built of rough slabs, yet the owner had papered
the walls with prints cut from old illustrated papers and such cuttings
of poetry and specimens of humour as these papers give.

As Jack was looking over these listlessly his attention was suddenly
attracted to a wood-cut of himself, and under it a full description with
the reward offered for his apprehension. It was a police sheet, and had
only recently been stuck up. "What have you got there, mate?" he asked
carelessly.

"That," answered the man, looking at it stupidly for a moment, then
brightening up somewhat. "It was left me the day before yesterday by a
party of traps who came here with the trackers. A big bank robbery and
murder at Sydney by a fellow called Milton."

"Have they tracked him this way?" asked Jack quietly, yet with the
perspiration breaking out on him.

"No, they are merely patrolling this district and leaving the
description at all the stations, in case he may try this road out of the
colony--have you not heard about that business?" "No, I haven't been
near a newspaper this two months past."

"He's not likely to come this way," said the shepherd. "With all that
loot, I reckon he's been smuggled away in some vessel that was ready
prepared for him." The shepherd as he said this flung himself on his
bunk and fell asleep, while Jack still sat smoking and thinking.



Chapter XV. The Dream Mine.

"GIVE us that yarn about your mine, Wallace!" cried the boys as they sat
inside the Hotel at Kalgourlie, on the next night. "By George! it was a
lucky dream, and no mistake."

"It was," replied Wallace serenely. "Well, as you seem in want of
conversation to-night, it may enliven you, so here goes."

There were three of us on that prospecting job. Coolgardie Joseph, Forky
Ben, and myself.

Forky Ben was a singular customer, of about fifty years of age, not bad
as a mate, for he could cook well, and did not shirk his work, and was
besides an entertaining companion, having seen a great deal of the shady
side of the colonies, done various times for misdeeds in the past, and
yet was about as honest as one can expect to find on the gold fields
nowadays.

He had started his colonial experiences as a convict, and, having served
his time, had likewise served his adopted country as a policeman, and
won considerable reputation in the force. His bane had been his wife,
who represented his evil genius in all his undertakings, until she left
him, ruined, yet with a chance of doing better himself. We fell across
Forky Ben when on the "Wallaby track" (the tramp), and as he showed up
gamely then, we had stuck together ever since, through good and bad
luck.

Not much good luck hitherto, I must say, for although Westralia has gold
enough, it is the rich man's country, and you know what that means, the
men who can afford to fix up machinery will make the coin all right, but
as for nuggets and alluvial mining our show was not up to much, and we
could not afford to play about the quartz.

I can tell you, though, I have seen that same quartz with the ore thick
enough through it to make one's mouth water and wish that
quartz-crushing machines didn't cost such a pile of money. I could lay
my finger on spots of the map of Westralia where I am positive that
fortunes lie pocketed, and I can tell you the boom isn't big enough.
Westralia won't disappoint its backers, so far as the ore is concerned
at least.

For all that, it isn't quite the place to bring a young, blushing and
delicately-nurtured bride to yet, who may not have grown up to live on
tinned sardines, condensed water, and such like luxuries exclusively.
No, the bride mightn't like it much; besides, if she was a
cleanly-inclined girl she would be apt to pine after a bit of soap,
which would ruin her husband, as water is too expensive to waste that
way.

Yes, you all know the truth about this land, boys, as I know it. The
water is about as expensive as the whisky, sometimes more so. The tinned
meat isn't always to be depended upon, and there are a hundred other
inconveniences to be endured that I needn't mention at present, only the
gold is here all right, also other natural means of wealth yet to be
utilized.

My mate, Forky Ben, was an old colonial, he had seen three generations
growing up, and as he said, each one seemed to be going back; "in fact,
if the colonial goes on growing much more legs, and don't develop a
little more body, the country will be to let in another twenty years."

Forky was great on this point as to the decadence of the colonials.
"I've watched 'em," he would say, striking his pannikin on the log,
"I've watched them a-growing up, and gradually losing all principle and
humanity; the first lot as comes out for their country's good, may be a
bit vicious at times, but they have hearts in them and stick to a
friend, the second breed ain't so dusty, still they don't care much for
their friends, nor do they think a man's word is worth considering, but
the good Lord help us from the third generation; they'll sit on a fence
all the blessed day planning out a mean robbery on a benefactor: they
don't know what truth means, and as for faith or trust, they are sounds
to laugh at with the young bred Australian; he knows how to bet on a
horse or a cricket or a football match. Oh, yes. The youngest baby is up
to that as soon as he can toddle, but as for work, or sticking to a pal,
they couldn't see it and don't know what it means, they don't believe in
a God, they have no country to believe in, and no traditions to uphold.
They only credit the one who can get the better of them. All legs,
conceit and bounce, without belly or brains, they are like stag-hounds,
inveterate and sneaking biters."

Forky Ben was a philosopher in his crude way, and he knew the people he
talked about particularly well. He was a Sydney side colonial in the
adopted sense, yet he did admit that the Victorian had not gone back
quite so rapidly as the New South Welshers.

"They are rotten," he would shout wildly sometimes. "What they want now,
is to be conquered and wiped out."

I was merely a trifler in the gold-finding business. I had left London
for a time for my health's sake, and was merely waiting on a disputed
legacy. The House of Lords would, in good time, settle my affairs;
meanwhile, I thought I'd look round me a little and gain experience;
therefore, as Westralia was on the table when I left, I thought I might
as well take that portion of the globe. Africa tempted me for a time,
but I finally decided to take it afterwards. I picked up my chum on the
road. I was riding along when I fell first upon Coolgardie Joseph, as we
always called him. The country was arid. I was hot and thirsty, and my
knacker ditto, when, as I passed a portion of the gulley, I heard a
human voice, husky and doleful as despair and pain could make the voice
human; it was a moan--a groan and a curse combined--the sound men utter
when God seems to forsake them, and they repudiate the Forsaker.

I went over to where he lay and lifted him up to my saddle beside me,
and then, when I had carried him to where I could give him some succour,
he told me his yarn, which somehow endeared him to me.

He had left England in a fit of spleen--had grown sick of his
club-friends, likewise those who tried to get nearer to him, to use his
own words:

"I loved a woman, but she didn't seem to care much for me, so I left.
When love gets hold of a man, it seems to blot out all the rest of
life's interests. I didn't care much for anything else after that woman,
she seemed to comprise my all. My friends--yes, I liked them, but I
didn't want to see them just then, I wanted to be by myself with my
special wounds to doctor, therefore, I came away from England. The boys
knew my woman and knew me, therefore that was enough; they knew that I
didn't want to say good-bye to them, and so they let me go quietly.

"I had a mighty craving on me just at that time. I had relations in
Australia, in Sydney--a brother and two sisters, to whom, as a boy, I
had felt tender, therefore I thought, like the prodigal of old, I'll go
to my father's house, and peradventure they will receive me.

"I was no prodigal in the sense of the husks, for I had done work enough
to make people who owned me, as I fondly thought, proud enough of me.
Well! at Albany I got a letter from this brother, repudiating me
utterly--he thought I was coming out to ask help from him, and he told
me, in language forcible and terse, to go to the Devil.

"I went to Sydney and interviewed him, and the rest of the domestic
crew; he repeated in language what he had written, and with an effort I
plucked him out of my heart. My other relations were kind after a style,
yet I had not represented the family dignity, so they also gave me the
cold shoulder, with their middle-class parvenus relations; they were
rich so far, and they politely ignored me; in fact, I was a pariah
amongst these wretched provincials.

"I studied the vile crew, I had grown accustomed to aristocrats as my
friends, and as I saw the paltry tricks of these wretched menials, I
gave the game up and said to myself--let me out to the wilds once more,
where I can see men and women as God made them and meant them to be. I
cut all that by blood belonged to me straight out of my heart, and,
mounting my horse, rode off free and so far happy." This was the tale of
Coolgardie Joseph, my mate. He was personally to me a more interesting
character than Forky Ben, because he felt a strain of poetry, and had
experienced a touch of heart bitterness, which, as I have also felt it,
always appeals to me.

In this fashion we got together, the three of us. Forky Ben, Coolgardie
Joseph and myself; we never quarrelled, and we always worked for the
common end. The making of money enough to get home and enjoy
ourselves--for, after all, England is the place for Englishmen.

The story of Coolgardie Joseph, however, was not much more edifying than
that of Forky Ben, and considerably less amusing, for while some humour
may be extracted out of the wily ways of a tricky spouse, with the
hundred and one dodges that a man has to take to in order to live in the
side paths of colonial commerce--the quarrelling between uncongenial and
unfeeling relatives is too commonplace and sordid to get anything like a
grin out of.

I did not of course endorse this wholesale condemnation of Forky Ben
respecting the third generation of New South Welshers; there must be
good, bad and indifferent specimens in this section of humanity, as
there are in other communities. What I have studied of their
politicians, hasn't greatly impressed me as to their probity. The
shopkeepers' notions of fair dealing may, to put it mildly, be just a
little vague, and there are certainly an overwhelming proportion of
bounders and larrikins amongst them, yet, for all that, the parent
colony of New South Wales has its points, and many a warm dispute we had
about these, Forky Ben and Coolgardie Joseph siding against me, while I
stuck up for the condemned section as well as an impartial man could do.

Forky Ben had a face, old and seamed as a piece of crackle ware, with
crow-blue eyes and a neck like an English terrier; his figure also was
thin and spare, but wiry.

Coolgardie Joseph was a tall, good-looking fellow of about thirty-three,
without much flesh to his bones, and mostly serious in his demeanour.
Possibly this habit of regarding things too earnestly was the cause of
his taking so much to heart the paltry meanness of his own kindred.

Where I had found him on the point of giving up the game, was as lonely
a gully as one could well imagine. Desolate and bare, with an odd patch
here and there of dried-up scrub, and nothing but stretches of hot dust
and sand on either side of it.

He had been on the tramp with two other colonials whose acquaintance he
had made on board the steamer coming round, and they were all pushing on
to get to the gold-fields, forty-six miles distant from where he caved
in. His feet had given way, and after one or two rough remonstrances,
his mates had left him to die and be done with it, which was the only
course they could have taken, unless they desired to share his doom
likewise. There are no almshouses or pauper establishments in the
colonies, so that when men and women get played out there, they are at
liberty to hang or drown themselves, get into jail or the infirmary, and
die as soon as possible, no one else cares how soon, for each is
fighting for his own hand. The soil of Australia is more productive of
cynics than philanthropists, and humanity is not quite so highly valued
as sheep and cattle.

He had dropped to earth and there they left him, without more than a
backward glance to see if he was not following. Two days afterwards they
reached the goldfields and got a job at four pounds a week each. Joseph
also might have got a job on the same terms, only that we decided to do
a bit of prospecting on our own account, for Forky Ben was an
experienced miner, and when he spoke hopefully, we believed in his
prophecies.

We prowled about here and there as far away from the general camp as we
could get, and with varying luck; sometimes we picked up enough to keep
us in grub, sometimes we worked to a dead loss, and at odd times we made
enough in one or two hours to keep us going for a fortnight or three
weeks.

We were working on the dry system, yet Forky Ben had a keen touch and
slight, and seldom allowed many specks to slip through his hand. During
the day the heat was intense, while the nights were cold and
bone-piercing; the water also which we had to purchase was bad, and, as
I have said, the provisions were worse even than the water; so that
there was only hard work and little comfort to be got out of the life we
were leading, and I, for one, had almost made up my mind to give it best
and return to civilization.

One night we were lying in front of our tent, trying to extract what
comfort we could glean out of our pipes, after a supper of damper and
tinned salmon, which was not conspicuous for its freshness. None of us
had washed for a week past, and then it was only the end of a damp towel
passed over the eyes to clear the sand out, which we dignified by the
title of a wash.

Coolgardie Joseph, who was always of a sentimental turn, had been
telling us about that young lady of his in the old country whom he yet
hoped to marry, if ever he was rich enough, and some other fellow didn't
get before him, and then, his yarn over, he turned round with a yawn and
fell asleep.

Forky Ben lay on his back and dilated on the delights a small and snug
country inn would be to a man at his time of life, and with his vast
experiences. He was content to talk, and did not ask too much attention
from his hearers, so that I lay half dozing and looking at the moon
which was just appearing over the distant range, when all at once my
mind became concentrated on the gully where first I saw Coolgardie
Joseph. The actual scenery seemed to vanish from my eyes and instead of
the half moon a bright glare of daylight pervaded the scene. I saw the
spot where Joseph had lain when I rode up, but where his body had
covered was now a hole, and in it a man digging and throwing up the
earth.

He had not got far down, but he was working with a purpose and as I
strode over to the edge and looked in, I recognised Coolgardie Joseph
himself pegging away. I picked up a handful of the earth that he was
shovelling out and as I filtered it through my fingers, the sun-rays
glistened on the yellow specks--it was thick with gold-dust.

Next instant the fancy picture vanished, leaving me lying in front of
the tent with Forky Ben still gabbling about that old English inn where
he meant to end his days, and Coolgardie Joseph grunting in his sleep
like a pig after an extra feed.

A moment afterwards, and while I was still rubbing my eyes, he started
up with an exclamation:

"By Jove! but I have had a dream, to be sure."

"What was it?" I asked curiously.

"You remember that gully--where you found me?"

"Yes--yes!"

"Could you find the spot where I was lying?"

"Easily--why?"

"I dreamt just now that I was back there and digging a hole from which
half the dirt I flung out was gold dust."

"Ah," said Forky Ben, "dreams always are to be read contrary fashion, so
that dream of yours means nothing."

"Well, Ben, just at the time Joseph was having his dream, I also saw him
on the same spot digging away, and I specimened the earth to find it as
he has described--crowded."

"Did you dream that, mate?" asked both Coolgardie Joseph and Forky Ben
with eager interest, sitting up and looking at me open-mouthed.

"Well, boys, I don't know whether to call it a dream or a waking vision,
but I saw it and handled the dirt."

"Then by the Lord Harry! dream or vision, that's the spot for us to
fossick. Two men can't dream a lie at the same time. It's a revelation,
that's what I call it," cried out Forky Ben, excitedly.

We did not sleep much that night you may depend, and when morning came
we were off to the camp for a month's supply of stores, and then packing
up, we went on the backward track, without mentioning the matter to
anyone.

The gully was easy to find, and it did not take me long to peg out the
place where I had found Joseph cursing the Providence that had brought
him to his fortune, for the first two hours of digging showed us that
our dreams had not been delusions, then each bucket came up, filled with
earth, thickly impregnated with gold.

Curious how nasty bad tinned salmon and condensed water taste when luck
is hanging back, and how little we are apt to consider such trifles when
good fortune is with us. The camp lay forty-six miles from us, and our
single horse had little enough to eat in that desert; every drop of
water had to be carried from the camp, so that although we were most
economical over it, still the water bags had to be replenished every
third or fourth day, which meant a waste of time that we grudged, so
eager were we to pile up the dust, before the rush came.

And we got it too, in minute specks at first, yet plentiful, then
as we went deeper into the earth, the nuggets kept growing
bigger--pennyweights, then half and whole ounces, with occasional lumps
which were worth the lifting.

We knew the big nuggets were all right, but we were better pleased with
the tiny specks and dust, for those meant a long bit of business. After
we had satisfied ourselves with the one hole we struck out in other
directions, to find that we had discovered a field. There were quartz
ridges round us on every side, and doubtless they also were seamed as
the soil was with the precious ore.

In two months we had made three thousand pounds apiece, which would be
enough to carry us to England and float our company; therefore, like
wise men, we sat down to consider our future plans. We must purchase the
ground first and then seal it up, without raising suspicion, not an easy
matter amongst gold seekers.

I was deputed to work the oracle while with Winchesters and Colts my
mates mounted guard over our future property, and I fancy, for a new
chum, I managed fairly well to pull the blinkers over the warden, so
that cautiously we purchased the entire gully, after which we pitched
aside all disguise and exhibited the field.

Gracious Heavens! what a magic power gold has to transform a man in the
eyes of his friends. Coolgardie Joseph, who had been metaphorically
vomited out of Sydney, returned to it before he sailed to England, a
king. The narrow-minded provincials wallowed before him and literally
worshipped him, without winning a spark of respect or regard from him in
return. It is difficult to blind even a millionaire by flattery, who has
had the reverse side of the picture presented to him in the days of his
adversity. In England he found this young lady still waiting for him.
Certain malicious persons told him that she had almost got married to
the wrong man during his absence, only that the wrong man had gone away
without committing himself, but that is the way of the malicious world,
and Joseph had the good taste not to believe them, so that he married
his own true love, and I think they are bound to be happy, for they are
very wealthy, and wealthy people are always happy, are they not? His
relations write every mail gushing letters to him and his bonnie bride,
but Coolgardie Joseph does not answer these affectionate epistles.

Forky Ben has reached the height of his ambition--a cosy inn, situated
in one of the most charming parts of dear old England, yet he is not
quite happy because, singular to relate, after a twenty years' absence,
his dear wife turned up to manage the bar for him. They met, as spectres
are supposed to meet on the shores of the Styx, both having been dead to
each other for so many years. Forky Ben looked aghast, panted for a few
moments, and recognised the good lady. Mrs. Forky likewise started back,
at the sight of her dear and lamented one, but she had come upon him
prepared, for a rich man cannot hide his light nor his name under a
bushel. After her first start of surprise she asserted her rights, and
Forky collapsed. She now manages the country inn, and her respected
husband makes the best of the situation.

I have nothing personally to grumble at either, for we are garnering in
the golden grain, and our field has a considerable boom in the market,
with the shares steadily rising and eagerly sought after, as you all
know.



Chapter XIV. Rosa's Second Marriage.

"DASH it all, Arthur! You don't mean to say that you expect a girl of my
colonial spirit to go on leading the same hum-drum existence after we
are married that I have done so long."

Rosa and her cousin were sitting on a little rock on the Clontarf sands
one afternoon a few days before the celebration of their wedding. They
had come here for quiet and a chat over affairs, and the prudent Chester
had raised her just ire by suggesting that it would be wise for them to
lie low, like Brer Fox, for a time.

"With all the money we have I mean to cut a splash in Sydney," she said
energetically and with flashing eyes. "Therefore you may as well drop
those mean ideas, Arthur, as fast as you like. Nothing less than a house
at Potts' Point will satisfy me, with a proper set-out in the way of
horses and carriages, and all the rest of the flummery. We can easily
afford it, therefore drop your preaching and let me boss that show, or
your bed won't be rose leaves, I can tell you, my boy."

"As far as cash goes, yes, I daresay we could afford Potts' Point and
the other etceteras if we were anywhere else than in our native city,
but, Rosa, don't you forget this, if the police don't suspect us at
present it is only because we are not making any extra splashing. If we
do so, we shall have them down upon us with a hundred nasty inquisitive
questions as to our means of keeping it up, which will be extremely
difficult for us to answer to their satisfaction. You see, my dear, our
townsmen all know us, and what we were before Milton came on the scene,
while if my books are called for, I cannot show a bigger income than
four hundred a year, and that won't run to Potts' Point by a long
chalk."

Rosa beat the sands with her shapely feet while an angry glow burned on
her cheeks. What tenderness she had felt towards her cousin, while he
was forbidden fruit, seemed to have vanished now that the law was about
to sanction their union.

"Well, what do you propose to do after we are married, Arthur?" she
asked at length.

"Take a little house and furnish it modestly, if you are tired of
Trumpet Tree Cottage, and live quietly on my income for a year or two
until this affair is forgotten, then come out by degrees----"

"Goodness gracious--a year or two?" cried Rosa aghast. "Thank you
kindly, but I have no intention to wait till I am hoary-headed before I
partake of the sweets of life. No, I mean to enjoy it while I am young
or not at all--give us another suggestion?" "To leave this and go to
London or Paris where no one knows about us, then we may do as we like."

"This is as bad as the obscurity you first proposed. It is just because
I am a Sydney native, that I want to show off in Sydney. There would be
no fun showing off anywhere else, and I'd die amongst strangers. I'll
tell you a much better idea, that ought to cover all your miserable and
cowardly objections."

"What is that, Rosa?" he asked meekly, for he dared not resent her
words, and was already tumbling into the proper condition of a Sydney
husband.

"Let's take a wedding trip to the west instead of the Blue Mountains,
and so kill two birds with one stone." "What do you mean, Rosa?"

"Go to the goldfields of West Australia where Jack is trying to reach,
and stay there for a time. You can start a business as solicitor and
mining expert and speculate a bit, and I'll open a hotel. We need not
stay there long--only long enough to satisfy ourselves as to whether
Jack gets through or not, and give our friends in Sydney a good reason
for our fortune, d'ye twigavous, Arthur?"

"By George! Rosa, I believe you are a bit anxious about Jack, now you
have chucked him," said Chester jealously, and with not a little dread
in his voice. Rosa looked at him with twinkling eyes, and uttered a
mocking laugh.

"Yes, I am anxious to learn the last of Jack Milton, for after all he
wasn't white-livered, but not for the reason you suppose, Cousin Arthur.
You are much better suited to me than he was. I don't feel mean with you
as I did with him, and when a fellow makes a woman feel mean she is
bound to hate him. That is why so many of us take up with Chinamen, and
like them as we do; they don't expect too much from us. I want to see if
Jack gets through safely and keep him under my eye if he does until he
is past blabbing on us, then we need have no fear in the future--and if
I take a hotel I'm sure to learn something about him if he turns up on
the other side."

"And then, Rosa?"

"Oh, I'll manage that part of the business without bothering you,
Arthur--the then--I'm good enough looking to get some man to do for him
if he comes to hand on the diggings. You leave all that to me."

Arthur Chester dared not look at this creamfaced modern Lucretia, but
kept his glances fixed on the point of his walking-stick. He was a
craven to the core of his false and crafty soul, and for a moment again
he meditated sneaking away with the loot before the wedding took place,
but the next instant's reflection showed him the futility of such a plan
with that telegraphic belt of Puck's round the habitable globe. No, he
had as helplessly meshed himself as ever any of the subjects of the
Borgia, and was as much dependent upon her caprice as were the suitors
of that fair but fatal Italian dame.

An icy chill struck his heart as if already he felt the first symptoms
of the aqua tofana, and a deadly abhorrence filled his whole being for
the handsome wanton at his side; if he could only have been sure about
hiding her corpse he would gladly have strangled her where they thus
sat, but that also was not to be thought of. He must marry her and let
her do as she liked, and look out for his own carcase. "Well, Arthur,
what do you think of my plan?"

Arthur roused himself and replied smoothly: "It is good enough,
Rosa--perhaps the best under the circumstances, if you are willing to
rough it amongst the 'sand gropers.'"

"Ah, I'll rough it for the short time we are there. Besides, there is
money to be made and good fun to be got out of the boys. We'll cart
round my piano, and make our hotel the swagger canvas establishment on
the fields, while the mining expert business will just suit you. You
know little Tony Jenkins is doing well at Kalgourlie. He'll put you up
to all the wrinkles, so we may consider that settled, I suppose?"

"Yes, since you wish it, Rosa."

"There now, you are once more the model husband I expected you to be,
dear old boy. Set to work at once and sell your practice, also secure an
agency or two for wines, etc., and we'll manage our honeymoon without
any expense, and have a roaring time of it as well. You see what it is
to have a practical girl at your elbow, you dear duffer."

They were alone on the shore, so she flung her arms round his neck and
kissed him effusively, while he responded as best he could to that
embrace. Her kisses no longer had the same flavour to him as they had
when he was robbing another man of them, therefore there was all the
more necessity for feigning, although as far as she was concerned he
need not have done so, as she had long ago lost all verve for such
lover-like demonstrations, if ever she had taken pleasure in them.
Callous and utterly depraved by nature, deceit was the only caviare that
could raise her appetite.

Arthur Chester had one strong hold over his cousin, and this he did not
mean to relinquish if he could retain it by fair or foul means. He held
the money, some of it invested and banked in his own name, and the bulk
of the last haul concealed. He would not tell her where he kept it in
spite of all her blandishments, but yet he knew that the possession
would not be his long if she chose to give a hint to the police and a
diligent professional search was conducted. Thus they were held together
by a more powerful bond than love or kinship would have proved to such
natures, and that was mutual interest. Rosa trusted that he would take
this money with him on their trip west, but, much as he hated to leave
it behind, he was too wary to carry so much money about; therefore,
after a good deal of agonized cogitation, he decided to bury it under
his own house and shut the place up during their absence.

This he did at such times as he could get Rosa and his housekeeper out
of the way, by lifting the flooring and digging into the earth under it.
First he dismissed his housekeeper with an advance of her wages, then he
locked the door so that Rosa might not surprise him, and before
afternoon, had his treasure secured and all traces removed. As it
chanced, that day Rosa was busy with her trousseau shopping, so that he
was not disturbed.

He did not sell his practice, but handed it over instead to a solicitor
to manage for him during his absence, still keeping his door-plate up
and the offices open. The house only he fastened up and left untenanted.

Rosa's father and mother were mighty indignant at her idea of leaving
them and going in for the hotel business in Western Australia. They did
not, of course, know how she had been provided for, for Australian
children do not make confidants of their parents as a rule, but look
after their own business from a very early age. They might also have
condoned the hotel business, although it seemed to be a drop, had their
daughter been more generous with them, but Rosa gave them very plainly
to understand that after her second marriage they would both have to
look after themselves, as she had no intention of contributing any
longer toward their support.

This behaviour almost broke the heart of the gentlemanly loafer. To have
to set once more to seek for work was a bitter and a desolate outlook,
which turned Trumpet Tree Cottage almost into a house of mourning.

The marriage was a very swagger affair altogether, and the lunch
arranged by one of the most fashionable caterers. Rosa was allowed to
take her full fling here, and she spared no expense to make the
exhibition a complete success. Her costume was a dream of angelic
purity, shimmering silk, satin, gauze and orange flowers. Her blushes
were almost virginal as she softly murmured the necessary responses, a
lovely, timid, yet trusting and beautiful bride she looked at the altar
that any amorous husband might well be proud to possess.

The champagne was excellent that flowed afterwards, for Chester had
secured the Kalgourlie agency of the best wholesale firm of wine and
spirit importers in Sydney, and they stood the liquor for the marriage
feast. Already a large consignment had been forwarded by rail to
Adelaide en route for the west, and paid for by the lawyer. He could
afford to pay on the nail for what he ordered without raising any
suspicions, therefore there was nothing to do now except to follow the
stores which he had sent in advance. The usual speech-making took place,
and good wishes expressed from those who envied them their luck, while
Rosa had the soul-satisfying delight of knowing that her female friends
would be ill for days after viewing her trousseau, which is quite enough
to make any bride cheerful during the early days of her honeymoon.

Her father and mother wept bitterly at parting from their dear
child--real heartfelt tears these were on the parents' side, as they
thought ruefully upon the ten sovereigns which she had given them as a
farewell and final gift. After these were melted, the desolate couple
would once again have to take up the weary burden of life.

"Ah," they sighed, wiping their eyes as they returned to their lonely
cottage, "Arthur Chester may be more respectable as a son-in-law, but
Jack Milton would never have cast us adrift like this in our old age."
Those two hearts that ought to have beat proudly at the change in their
daughter's life felt a pang of regret for the divorced and vanished
housebreaker.

The happy couple went by train to Melbourne, halting for the first night
at Goulburn, where they put up at the best hotel and enjoyed themselves
thoroughly.

No one suspected them to be on their honeymoon, as they conducted
themselves like a wellmarried couple. There was none of that maudlin
gushing that usually denotes the freshly yoked, nor any attempts to get
into empty compartments. Arthur Chester read the papers, while Rosa made
herself agreeable to her fellow-travellers, and as she was stylishly
dressed and sprightly, she had no lack of attentive admirers on the way.

They spent two days at Melbourne, going about and looking at everything
with the prejudiced and disparaging feelings of all true-bred cornstalks
towards things Victorian, and decided with gleesome alacrity that its
days were over. The magnificent houses of parliament, the splendid
buildings of Collins Street, the library and picture gallery in Swanston
Street, the gardens and arcades, even that wonder of the world, "Coles"
book arcade, failed to impress them with any other feelings save
disgust, or at least jealousy seemed like disgust to them. They sneered
openly at the post office, and boasted about their own ornate
establishment with happy pride, asking scoffingly, according to the wont
of Sydney visitors, what there was about this wretched mud flat to be
compared with that glory of creation, "The Harbour."

The Melbourne people, being accustomed to this sort of ignorant and
narrow cackle, laughed good-naturedly at the infantine criticism, and
chaffed them genially, as grown-up people will chaff children, which
made this gentle pair depart with rage in their hearts at these rivals
who considered themselves big enough to laugh at the virulent passions
which their superior qualities created in their narrow-minded
neighbours. "I never saw such a rotten hole," remarked Arthur
vindictively, as he stood with his wife on the deck of the Adelaide
steamer, while she steamed from the Yarrayarra. "The buildings are
perfect botches."

"And the women hideous frumps," echoed Rosa; then more reflectively she
added, "the men, however, are not so bad."



Chapter XVII. Tracked.

JACK MILTON rose as soon as the loud snores announced that the shepherd
was asleep, and moved from the hut to a stump outside, where he could
have his meditation undisturbed.

What the man had told him was enough to give him subject for thought. He
had already travelled hundreds of miles, and spent nearly two months on
the journey, reaching without hindrance the extreme outskirts of
civilization only to find that he had not yet got beyond the
long-reaching arm of the law. Now, were his efforts to be rendered in
vain through this accursed sentiment that made him long for the sound of
a human voice, luring him to visit this miserable and half-witted
outpost?

Would he have been any better off, however, if he had gone on
unconsciously into the wilds with those human bloodhounds of black
trackers hunting about? He knew his danger now, but had he gone on
without this warning he might have been trapped at his next resting
place.

These terrible trackers, whose keen eyes could read and trace any
footprints, no matter over what ground they trod or how long a time
elapsed unless they were erased by their own countrymen. They would come
here again. Oh, yes. That was a moral certainty. Perhaps to-night,
to-morrow, or the next week. It did not matter, though it was a month
after, they would be able to see at a glance that strangers had been
here since their last visit, question the man inside as to who had been
with him, and follow on until they ran him to earth.

The dreary waste before him was not at present in his mind. The days he
might have to wander, suffering the pangs of thirst, with the countless
other risks and dangers, did not at present trouble him. It was the
appalling thought that after this he could no longer find even a
temporary rest in sleep with that uncertainty behind. Those
dusky-skinned, eagle-eyed, and indefatigable trackers.

To kill that shepherd would be of no service to him, since he could not
cover his tracks. It was equally useless to confide in him and ask him
to make up a story; the man had not wit enough left, after his crazing
occupation of counting sheep, to hoodwink those man-hunters. Only one
hope was left, that they might not come before this incident passed from
the man's dazed and figure-crammed mind.

These shepherds lead a terrible life. To count their myriads of sheep
daily and hourly is the sole occupation and diversion of their miserable
hermit existence. Kingdoms may rise and fall, disasters overwhelm
nations, people come and go without leaving any impression upon them, so
long as the numbers of their flocks are the same to-day as yesterday.
They can remember the visits of the dingoes, or the hostile blacks, only
by the decrease of their numbers, which they have to account for out of
their wages. They have become numbering machines and nothing else.

Reasoning in this way, Jack felt sure that the police must have been
there only very recently, otherwise even the proclamation would have
failed to recall their visit to him. Perhaps that very morning, or at
the farthest within the last two days.

If he stole away now, while the man was asleep, to-morrow morning when
he woke up, if he thought at all, he would conclude that he had only
dreamt that he had a visitor, that is, if Jack removed all traces of his
visit, and the police might pass on without calling upon the services of
their bloodhounds.

It was a delicious night, in the month of May, with a keen, frosty air,
and the hoar lying whitely upon the plain. The moon was at her full,
shining from a deep green sky upon the far-reaching landscape, thickly
covered with root-grubbing sheep. Fantastic-shaped clouds clustered over
the heavens, with silvered edges and darkly grey sides.

Bare and dead gum-trees stood up like twisted white stumps on the near
plain, over which the sheep grubbed and looked like patches of dirty
snow, while far away in the distance spread the shadow of dense
scrub-land.

One leafless tree, or rather the decayed trunk of a gum-tree, stood a
little way from the hut, with a rude ladder reaching up to a sturdy
lower branch; this was the post from which the shepherd overlooked and
counted his flock.

The dogs were all out guarding the sheep, with the exception of one who
now lay by his master's bed. He was a docile, well-trained animal, and
Jack had no fear of disturbing him as he moved about, now that he had
once been admitted. His horses were at some distance, near the
water-hole, within which still lay a fair supply. A deep well also had
been dug to serve as an emergency when this supply ran short; yet there
had been some rain lately, so that the water-hole had been replenished.

Jack stood for a few moments looking over this solemn and weird-like
picture, the last of the kind he would likely see for some time if he
managed to get away. He was glad now that the shepherd had not been at
all curious to know his destination; glad likewise that he had asked so
few questions about the country beyond. It was better to ride forward
and trust to destiny.

Would that destiny lead him to a lingering death in the desert, or the
ignominious but speedy doom of the gallows, and which was the
consummation most devoutly to be desired?

He lifted his eyes for a moment to the arching heavens with the impotent
yearning for wings, so that he might fly and leave no trace behind him.
The yearning which comes upon hunted beast and man when they are beset,
and is the unuttered prayer which afflicted life sends up so constantly
to God, through that space vibrating with those messages from earth to
heaven; and then like the answering whisper from an unseen guardian came
to his mind some lines he had once read, and these braced him up.

They were lines from a poem by Joaquin Miller, and he only now
remembered the two last verses, although at one time he had learnt the
complete poem. These, however, rushed upon him like the briny blast from
an arctic ocean.

"They sailed, and sailed, as winds might blow,
Until at last the blanched mate said:
'Why now, not even God would know
Should I and all my men fall dead.'
These very winds forget their way.
For God from these dread seas is gone.
Now speak, brave Adm'ral, speak and say--
He said: 'Sail on! sail on! and on.'

They sailed! They sailed!
Then spake the mate:
'This mad sea shows his teeth to-night,
He curls his lips; he lies in wait
With lifted teeth as if to bite.
Brave Adm'ral, say but one good word--
What shall we do when hope is gone?'
The words leapt as a leaping sword:
'Sail on! Sail on! Sail on! and on.'"

The unseen admiral of his soul had said the word in answer to his
unspoken prayer. It was "Sail on" with or without hope, for although the
ship fell to pieces, there was no turning back for him.

All doubt and dread had now departed from his heart; with a light step
he went into the hut and carried out load by load his packs and gear.
These he took over to where his horses were feeding, then after placing
the pannikin on the nail from which the shepherd had taken it for his
use, he walked out again for the last time, without disturbing the
inmate, and harnessed his horses.

The dog, however, rose quietly and followed him, watching him get ready
for his journey; then, with a friendly wag of its tail, it put its moist
nose into his hand as he was about to mount and thus mutely bade him
god-speed; with a gentle pat on the head of this well-wisher he went
off, the dog watching him as long as he was in sight. The touch of that
kindly nose lingered in his memory and moistened his eyes for many a day
afterwards. Jack Milton rode forward briskly for the first dozen miles,
urging his beasts on as fast as they could travel with their burdens,
until he had put a mile or so of scrub between himself and the
shepherd's hut, then he slackened pace and permitted his horses to crop
a little now and again as they rested.

He had no desire to fag his horses at this early stage of the journey,
indeed he meant to take things as leisurely as he could after he had
covered sufficient ground to render a hunt so far unlikely. The horses
were heavily loaded, for he had been particular to provide himself with
a good supply of water bags, and had replenished those that required it
from the water-hole, so that he had a sufficient supply to last him and
his horses at least twelve days with care, and provisions enough to last
the journey, provided he could find herbage for his animals.

It is marvellous to think on the kind of food that contents cattle in
Australia, grass from which every particle of moisture has been burnt
out by the sun, until it has become mere dust; they can grub and find
food on ground as bare as a new-ploughed field, satisfying themselves
with the roots when they can get nothing else. A good fall of rain will
also transform a desert into a green country in a magical quickness of
time.

Jack Milton was no novice at bush-travelling, and like most of these
unchronicled explorers, he was not easily frightened by the accounts he
had read of the horrors of the interior as related in travellers' books.
Of course there were chances when a man might wander for days over arid
ground, particularly after such a dry season as had just passed, but at
the present time he was more frightened of being swamped in some
watershed, than of being starved for want of water. Although the clouds
had not yet dropped any rain in his locality, it was hard to say where
it might not be raining even then, or when the flood might catch him.

Through the night he went in a south-westerly direction, pushing his way
through the dense mallee scrub, and when morning broke, he was still
surrounded by the bush land, yet he kept steadily on, going in as
straight a line as he could by aid of his compass.

For four days he kept on, making a distance as he supposed of about
forty miles between early dawn and sundown each day, without any variety
in his surroundings; then on the fifth day the country became more open
and undulating, so that he could see round him as he went along. As yet
he had not come to any water, but on the sixth day he reached a spot
where the grass was green, in the centre of several high and rocky
ranges. Shortly after this he came to a creek with several water-holes
in it, also the signs of natives. Here he decided to rest his horses for
a day. In front of him and still in the south-westerly direction, this
grass-covered valley stretched as far as he could see. There were also
some red gum and native fig-trees, with pines on the ridges.

It was a place which, as a bushman, satisfied him in all respects except
one, which was that he was not likely to possess it long without
interruption, as he saw on the sides of the water-holes the footprints
of natives in considerable numbers.

However, here he was and here he meant to remain until his horses were
freshened up a bit. If the natives came, they would either kill him or
act as friends and rob him, and better that than fall into the hands of
the police.

Considering that his disguise was now past all service, he cast it aside
and after a good wash, he boiled his billy of tea, and making things
comfortable for the horses, he lay down and went to sleep.

In the morning when he woke up, he discovered that the wig and beard
that he had cast aside were gone. He had intended to bury them when
daylight came, but now he knew that during his sleep he had been visited
by these native owners of the land. He looked anxiously round him, but
could see no one, nor were his horses or packs in any way interfered
with, at which he wondered greatly, yet with considerable relief, for he
took this as a sign that these midnight visitors were not hostile in
their intentions at present.

All that day he waited and watched, but no one came to disturb his
vigils, and so trusting once more to luck, he again lay down, placing
his packs in a little cavern, in front of which he took up his position.

He was anxious now to be gone and slept very little that second night,
therefore as soon as daylight broke, he was up filling his water-bags.
This done, he made a hasty breakfast of cold water and damper, and then
proceeded to load his pack-horses.

He had finished this task, and was just about to mount his riding-horse,
when some instinct made him glance towards the entrance of the gully,
and he saw that which made him leap into the saddle and move off at
double quick time.

Three white police and half-a-dozen trackers about a mile distant, and
urging along their jaded horses as fast as they could get them to go.

To wait for their coming up was not to be thought about. To run away was
to declare his guilt at once, for they had seen him and were cooeeing to
him to stop.

Cursing his ill-luck, he caught at the leading bridle of his
pack-horses, and pretending not to see those coming or hear their cries,
he urged them along at their full speed, thinking how soon he would have
to abandon his pack-horses and ride for his life.

Up the glen he rode, heedless of the wild shouts sent after him,
heedless also of the shots which they sent to attract his notice. As he
looked back cautiously, he could see that their horses were dead beat
and could go no farther, therefore a slight ray of hope passed through
him that he might distance them, for they had stopped at his old camp
and were unpacking their horses. Now that they had sighted him, they
were in no immediate hurry. It was to be a long and stern chase. With a
groan of anguish he drove round the angle of the gully and looked ahead.



Chapter XVIII. The Old, Old Game.

ONE quality colonials have, which is highly commendable, albeit it
sometimes leads to awkward results. They pick up acquaintances easily,
and make themselves at home anywhere without much loss of time.

Mrs. Rosa Chester and her husband had hardly delivered themselves of
those criticisms, prompted by patriotic pride for their own settlement,
before a suave and modulated voice repeated in their ears:

"You are perfectly correct in your remarks, and I heartily endorse your
sentiments. It is a rotten hole without doubt, and the women are vulgar
frights--from the delightful city of Sydney, if I mistake not?"

Rosa looked at the speaker and flushed prettily, for he was young and
handsome, although vulture-like about the nose. Arthur regarded him with
a slight restraint.

"Yes," replied Rosa readily, "we have just come from dear old Sydney,
and are going round to West Australia."

"How very nice, since that is my destination. Also, madam, nice for me
to have such charming company."

He bowed to Rosa, who blushed again, and looked at him from under her
eyelids, not that she felt at all shy, but that she considered this sort
of affectation fetching.

"Do you smoke?" said the stranger, turning to Arthur, after a sweet
smile or leer at Rosa.

"Yes," replied Chester gruffly; he thought this stranger a little too
sweet and complimentary for his taste.

"Try one of these--I fancy you'll like them," continued their
fellow-passenger, producing an elegant cigar case and holding it out,
again turning to Rosa with his most fascinating air: "That is, if madam
does not object."

Madam could hardly object, seeing that on every side the passengers were
puffing away like engine funnels; however, she replied: "I simply adore
tobacco."

At that instant a noseful of negro-head wafted her way, and caused her
to choke for a moment.

"When it is tobacco, and not tar-barrel," she added, with an angry glare
at the owner of the negro-head.

Chester looked at the open case and noted that the contents were choice;
his glance also travelled to the hand that held the case, where he saw
on the little finger a plain gold signet ring with the square and
compasses stamped upon it, and his reserve instantly melted.

"How old are these?" he asked, looking at the polite stranger.

"A little over ten years."

"Ah, then they ought to be good enough, yes, I'll try one."

Both men laughed as if a joke had been uttered, but a little
dried-up-looking man with a dark and sallow face, who was standing near,
stepped forward and coolly also abstracted one of the cigars, saying:

"Excuse me, gentlemen, but I am in the cigar business, and if these
cigars are ten years old, they are not worth--a match."

He looked at the cigar closely for a moment, then smelling it, he bit
off the end and proceeded to light up.

"Cool rather," remarked the young stranger, glancing sarcastically at
Rosa and Arthur, while the withered man said calmly:

"Not so dusty, only it's been forced in the drying, and has not yet
passed the first anniversary of its birth. I'll give you both a
respectable cigar after tiffin."

In this way an acquaintance was begun between these passengers that
rapidly ripened into a close intimacy for the rest of the voyage.
Bertrand Decrow was the name of the young man, with the vulture-like
nose, and steely blue eyes. He had come from the Charters Towers gold
fields, and was going round to investigate the West Australian mines in
the interests of some financial capitalists and partners of his. "You
are an M. E. then?" asked Chester with considerable interest.

"Not exactly, if you mean, is that my profession? I certainly know all
about the geology of mines and gold finding--and am going to act as an
expert just now, but it is merely for the selfish purpose of purchasing
if I see a good chance."

He spoke with the careless dignity of a man who had money to spend, and
Chester resolved to cultivate him and draw him out. Being a native of
Sydney and a lawyer, he considered himself smart enough for that bit of
by-play, therefore, with a meaning glance at Rosa, he allowed her to
take the young capitalist in hand, while he turned to speak to the cigar
merchant. "Delightful passage so far, isn't it?"

"Oh, we'll have it like this all the way," returned the little man. "I
travel this route often."

They had got round Port Philip Head by this time, and the sea was still
calm, almost as a mill pond. At tiffin there had been a full attendance,
and no one showed the least symptoms of scorning dinner.

"The company won't make much out of their passengers this trip, I guess.
They have cut down the fares very fine, and must lose on tucker when it
is weather like this."

Certainly the coasting steamship companies have almost arrived at the
extreme point of cheap fares in Australia, as passengers are able to
travel now first-class at about the same rate that was charged for
steerage a few years ago, and at considerably less than people can
travel round the coasts of England.

The company on this present passage, with the exception of the four who
had struck up this sudden friendship, were of the most ordinary and
uncouth description that it was possible to fancy ill-using a
well-furnished saloon. They rushed and jostled each other for the seats
on deck, and at the first sound of the bell for dinner drove downstairs
like a stampede of cattle, "jumping" the seats, and refusing to abdicate
if told that they had taken the wrong places.

The captain sat at the head of the table in a most dejected attitude, as
if ashamed of the male and female animals he was forced to preside over,
while the stewards in a panic, vainly tried to keep order and attend to
their duty.

These colonials had paid their money, and they meant to take as much for
the sacrifice as they possibly could, so that dispatch was the order of
the hour, and each emptied the dish nearest him as rapidly as possible,
without the slightest regard to his neighbour.

The first night Rosa might have fared badly, for she had not yet got
over her strangeness, but Bertrand Decrow took her under his wing, got
her down rapidly, and placed her beside the captain, with himself on the
other side. By good luck also, Chester and the cigar merchant secured
the two opposite seats, and so kept the rabble at the lower end of the
table.

Decrow also proved himself a man of resource, and seemed to know the
people he had to deal with, for as the steward entered with the
vegetables, he stopped them from going past him until he and his
protgs were served, therefore, Rosa felt grateful to him and soon
recovered her native courage.

"Now, steward," he said in a loud tone, after dinner was over, "please
to recollect that these four seats are engaged by us, and if anyone
attempts to 'jump'them during this passage, I'll teach them a Townsville
trick that'll make them sorry for it."

The steward nodded knowingly and replied: "I know that trick, sir, and I
think you may rest easy. I'll look after them." "All right, then we
needn't break our necks after this over meal times."

Decrow was a strong young man, with a long and carefully-cultivated
moustache. He had also a musical taste, and could do a number of
leger-demain tricks. While Chester and the cigar merchant went to the
smoke room, Bertrand devoted himself to Rosa, amusing her and the others
in the music room. He sang, and played on the piano, and accompanied her
while she sang; afterwards they went together on the deck and did a
little flirtation, finishing up the evening until the ladies' retiring
hour, by showing her some pretty tricks with the cards.

Rosa felt she had made a conquest when she left him that night, with a
tender and lingering squeeze of their hands, and, therefore, went to bed
satisfied with her day, while he, equally satisfied, strolled along to
the smoke room to have a final cigar and liquor.

When he got there he found Chester, the cigar merchant, and another of
the passengers playing cards, and as Arthur wanted to have a chat with
him, and the other man was just leaving off, Bertrand was easily
persuaded to take his place in the next game.

They played for a few games at shilling points, most of which Chester
won, then they passed down to the bar and had a drink or two, and
afterwards went on deck. Here Chester proceeded to draw his young friend
out on the duties of a mining expert, and soon found him to be one of
the most confidential of Queenslanders.

"D'ye want to go in for that line?--for if you do, I can put you up to
all the mysteries in no time. In fact, I'll introduce you as my man of
business when we get there, if you like, and make it easy as drinking
champagne for you."

Chester had told him he was a lawyer and wanted to combine that with the
other if it could be done; therefore the bargain was at once clenched
between them, and the husband of Rosa also went to his berth satisfied
with his day.

The next night while the two were again walking the deck, this confiding
young man remarked:

"What do you think of our friend the cigar merchant?--he seems a bit of
an eccentric, don't you think?" "Yes, but he gives away remarkably fine
cigars."

"You are right there, and if he is to be believed, he is inclined to
give more away than cigars." "What do you mean?"

"Well, he tells me that his partner--you know the firm, doubtless,
'Sunthers and Green,'of Melbourne?" "Oh, yes, I have heard of them.
Good, safe people."

"He is Green. Well, Sunthers is a bit of a philanthropist, and intends
to endow an hospital up in Coolgardie, and Green has asked me to act for
his partner and hand over a sum of money."

"Why can't he send it on?" asked the lawyer suspiciously.

"That's where his eccentricity comes in. He wants to do it anonymously,
and he cannot do this if he sends a cheque, while he has got the notion
into his head that postal orders ain't safe up there. What would you
advise? Should I take this job on hand?" "I don't see why you
shouldn't." "Neither do I." They walked along for a few moments silently
and then Bertrand suddenly said:

"Look here, Chester, what's to prevent you acting in this instead of me?
I daresay he'll be as ready to trust you as me with this anonymous
commission, and it's more in your line. By Jove! it would be a
first-class introduction, as they are sure to think it your own gift."

"I won't say 'No'if he offers it to me," answered Chester with a laugh;
"and gives me a commission for my trouble, of course."

"Of course that is understood. Well, I'll touch him to-morrow before we
land, and let you know."

Next day the matter was talked over between the three men, when Mr.
Green, the cigar merchant, said:

"Well, Mr. Chester, as you are a lawyer, I can depend upon your
discretion, and if Mr. Decrow, whose name I know well as a Townsville
mine-owner, is agreeable to vouch for you--excuse my bluntness, but
business is business----"

"Of course I'll vouch for our friend Chester, but what will satisfy
you?" answered Bertrand impatiently.

"Well, I'll give you my cheque for a thousand pounds, or if you like to
come with me to the bank at Adelaide, I'll give you cash. Meantime, I
expect you to hand over a sum of money, say two hundred and fifty, to
Mr. Decrow, as a guarantee that you are above the temptation of actual
want."

"I suppose Mr. Chester's cheque will do for me to hold?" said Bertrand
Decrow, laughing; "particularly if I have to hold it for any length of
time."

"Yes, if the cheque can be cashed at Adelaide."

"Well," answered the astute lawyer, "I don't happen to have a bank at
Adelaide, but I am able to produce the coin if it is necessary."

"In that case I'll make my cheque payable at Adelaide for eleven hundred
pounds, one of which you will keep as your commission, and the thousand
you will deliver to the Mayor of Coolgardie."

Soon after this they arrived at Port Adelaide, and Rosa accompanied the
three gentlemen to the city, Chester taking with him the cash required
as a guarantee of good faith.

Leaving Rosa to take a walk, the friends went to a hotel, and after a
bottle of champagne, Mr. Green filled up and signed the substantial
cheque. Having done so, he bade them both good-bye and went away.
"There's a singular old card for you, Chester; you go over to the bank
and see if it's all right; if it is, get them to make out an order on
their Perth branch, and then we'll have a turn round the town. There,
take back your coin."

He pushed the chamois bag which had been given him a little way across
the table, and Chester half reached out his hand to take it; then he
drew back with a sheepish feeling lest the other should think him
suspicious. "No, you look after it for a few moments, Decrow; I won't be
long away."

He wasn't outside the hotel before he repented leaving the bag of
sovereigns, yet he still held on to the bank. The cashier looked at the
cheque and said: "We have no account with that name, sir."

Chester rushed back to the hotel, but Mr. Decrow had just gone out, so
had the two hundred and fifty sovereigns.



Chapter XIX. Jack Milton is Taken in Charge.

IN that cautious glance which he cast behind him, Jack Milton saw that
his pursuers were provided for a considerable journey, and that he need
not entertain any hope that they would relinquish the hunt now that they
had sighted him. In a city he might have shaken them off, but not in
this primeval waste. For a day and night they would probably rest their
horses, and during that respite he might perhaps forge ahead forty or
fifty miles, but the day after, the trackers and their masters would be
rushing along his trail like resistless Fate, leaving their pack-horses
to follow, sure as they were to be supplied with his provisions when
they came up to him.

He would keep on until he was again sighted, then he would abandon his
water and provisions to them and so gain another brief respite, while
they once more freshened themselves with what he relinquished, as he and
his horse went on famishing and hopeless. It was useless to think of
escape by abandoning his horse, since he could not baffle those
lynx-eyed trackers. The time would come, indeed, he could almost
calculate the hour, when faint, hungry and parched, he took his last
stand and waited for those remorseless riders to come up to him.

Then it would be the same story as had so often been read of other
Australian refugees from justice. He would have the choice of dying by
his own or their revolvers, since he had made up his mind not to be
taken back alive.

The escaping prisoner from Siberia has several chances of eluding his
pursuers, but Australia is nothing more than a vast prison yard, for
even if they let him go now that they had seen him, it would only be to
warn the South and West Australian police that he was coming, and on his
first appearance at any point where humanity could live, he would be
captured as surely as he then lived. There was no hope, no escape. He
was a doomed man.

Yet he had one more day to live, and feel free, perhaps two, and amongst
his packages he had the means of enjoying these two days, therefore,
casting care to the winds, he rode on, determined to make the most of
his respite. He was now utterly regardless and resigned to his fate, and
for the first time since leaving Sydney he felt a placidity steal over
him that seemed almost joy.

The morning was exquisite. The sky above him all dappled with
cream-tinted clouds through which the sunbeams poured warmly. A fresh
light air wafted down the valley, and filled his lungs with its gracious
purity. The dewdrops glistened on the grass and leaves, and lay like
gauze on the bush spiders' webs. The water-holes gleamed amongst the
bull-rushes and lily plants, while on each side of him towered quartz
ridges, snowy white, with patches of rose-petal radiance. It was a scene
as fair and dazzling as he could hope to find anywhere in Australia, and
for the time it was his own to enjoy.

"My God, what a joke it would be if the floods came now and caught us
all here," he cried aloud, as he passed along this narrow glen with its
inaccessible sides. He could fancy it coming down upon him with a roar
round the next turn; that yellow torrent with its white crest bearing
everything before it, changing in an instant this green valley into
tempestuous rapids like those of Niagara, and tossing him and his horses
like broken branches down upon the doomed hunters. That would be a
decided change from the everlasting monotony of having his brains blown
out on the red sand. He laughed loudly at the idea of this novel ending
of his trouble.

Still laughing and hopelessly happy, he urged his beasts round the angle
of the glen, passing under the overhanging shelf of a lofty cliff to
find himself in another moment surrounded by about a couple of hundred
naked and armed savages who were evidently waiting for him at this spot.

Instinctively he drew up his horse, and looked at them. It was useless
to think of breaking through these close ranks, and indeed at the moment
he was in such a passive condition of mind, that he had no desire to
make the effort.

They were a splendid lot of fellows, despite all the disparaging
descriptions which have been given about aboriginals, muscular and tall,
and nearly all young, at least, the majority had not passed the meridian
of life. The foremost amongst them appeared an old man at the first
glance, yet he was stalwart and upright. Jack looked at him for an
instant in perplexity, and then he burst into a peal of wild laughter,
as he saw his own discarded grey wig and beard framing this dusky face.

That he was not already pierced by a dozen spears satisfied our
adventurer that for the present their intention was not murder. "Hulloa!
you white fellow, him run away from the dam police?"

It was a question that the man with the beard asked in fairly good
English, and Jack answered promptly: "You bet, mate, that was my idea."
"Him wanted badly, eh?" "That's about it."

"Plenty black fellow trackers with him, no dam use for white fellow to
run that way." Jack nodded in token of assent.

"You come along of us. We help you clear away. Hide tracks so that no
dam trackers find you out. Where you want to go?"

"Perth," replied Jack, laconically.

"Plenty long way Perth. We take you there bymby. How much you got?"
"Baccy, flour, whisky."

"All right. White fellow, come along of me. I show you safe place. No
dam fear police catch you now--no dam fear you die for water out
there. Black fellow your mate. Police after him too--you wait, bymby no
police, no dam trackers left. Me know them, the blooming cows. Me know
you too, see."

He stepped up to Jack, and pulling open his shirt, placed his finger
upon some tattoo marks which he had on his breast.

"Me see 'em yesterday when you wash him in the water hole. That save
your mutton. That make you friend. Now you all same as black fellow, and
he not see you hanged by dam police."

Jack had meditated often about removing these tell-tale markings, which
in the first flush of his pride in becoming a craftsman, he had got
stamped upon his body, but he felt glad now that he had delayed the
erasing. He now hoped that none of his hunters bore similar tokens upon
them, or if so, that they would not be seen by the sharp eyes of these
new friends.

Hope once more began to kindle in his heart, for only these black
fellows could cover his tracks and help him to escape. His luck had not
deserted him yet.

The leader now caught hold of the rein of his horse and led him up the
valley, several others accompanying them, while the remainder stopped
behind, trampling over the tracks as they knew how, so that not a trace
would be left.

After traversing several windings they came to a part where the valley
divided, or rather where another gully led from it in a westerly
direction. Into this they turned and proceeded for five or six miles,
the gully getting drier and stonier as they advanced. It ascended also
towards the ridges, so that before long they crossed them, and came to a
sandy plain from which the vegetation had been lately burnt.

Crossing this for about a mile and a half, they suddenly arrived at
another dip or gully still trending westward, at the foot of which they
turned abruptly to the north through a close-set mallee scrub which,
however, had a wallaby-run cut through it, and then, just as Jack
expected another dry tramp, they all at once arrived at their
destination, the native camp.

Australia is a land of surprises; sometimes pleasant, more often
otherwise. It is also the home of contradictions, inconsistencies and
oppositions to what are regarded as natural laws in other parts of the
globe. The people are never happy unless they are disputing and
contradicting everything that is told them. Where the stranger expects a
welcome he gets snubbed, and vice versa. Its swans are black, its moles
lay eggs, and its owls hoot during the day; even its bees are out of all
character, for they are stingless. The women only are consistent to
their sex's privileges, and as they should be as regards beauty.

The surroundings of this native camp were surprises to Jack Milton, and
surprises of the agreeable sort. Perched upon the side of a sterile and
treeless mountain was a cup-like cavity carpetted with the greenest of
grass, in the centre of which was a mountain lake of pure and sweet
water. All round, strangely fantastic masses of red sandstone, with
outstarting croppings of quartz and conglomerate, rose into the air six
and eight hundred feet high, from a dreary desert where not even the
dreaded spinifex appeared to be able to find a footing. It was as
terrific a scene of desolation, yet weird grandeur, as ever the young
man had gazed upon.

The gully bore a certain semblance to those heated and deathly passes of
Arabia, near the Red Sea. The rocks appeared as tumbled and rent, with
toppling boulders placed on each other like Druidical stones, while the
bed of the gully was composed entirely of loose sand, crumbling masses
of red stone, flinty pebbles, and quartz that crunched under the tread
like calcined cinders. As Jack stooped over his saddle to look at these,
there was that about their appearance that made him resolve to examine
this gully more minutely if he got the opportunity.

Alone, he might have gone up this pass and over these ridges a dozen
times without suspecting the existence of that fertile gem in the midst
of this dreadful waste; as a wall-like cliff rose up directly in front
of the only entrance, round which the traveller would as likely as not
pass without more than a glance at the narrow gorge that led up to it;
in no way different from many other rents which split the mountain's
breast. It was not until his horses had stumbled round several twistings
that he could realize he was going anywhere else than into a cul-de-sac
which would presently terminate. Then the ascent became gradual and
easy, and he found himself on the stony crest of the cavity gazing at a
spread of loneliness.

Fancy an amphitheatre of the extent of the Colosseum, open at the one
side and walled round by a semi-circle of wild bare rocks pierced by
caves and with shelf-like ledges overhanging and casting cool shadows
upon this secluded spot. An oblong pool of water of unknown depth, with
sloping sides like a great Roman bath, and round it a level sward that
terminated as abruptly all round as if it had been trimmed so far up the
hard quartz sides, and you may realize the astonishing sight that broke
upon the bewildered senses of this new guest.

Try to fancy also this astonishing scene, peopled by a crowd of men,
women and children, as free from false shame as they were of any other
covering, if conventional modesty will allow you to realise such a
picture without blushing.

There they were of both sexes and all ages, lolling idly on the soft
grass, or sitting in their caves where their fires were burning; they
had no other shelter, and no need for any other shelter. Young girls,
plump-bodied and lithe, with big, soft eyes, and snowy teeth that made
them pretty in spite of their uncertain features and dark skins; they
had plenty of water here to bathe in, and they evidently used it often,
for they were sleek and satiny, and as active as young panthers. Naked
mothers nursing naked babies. Old ladies skinny and ugly as Hecate. Old
men like ancient baboons, young boys as pretty and vivacious as the
girls. The young men and able-bodied husbands of the tribe, Jack had
already met.

A wild scene of excitement took place over the advent of the stranger
and his horses; they crowded round, chattering loudly and gesticulating
in the most unstudied and abandoned manner. However, as soon as a little
quietness was restored, the guide explained matters to their
satisfaction, and Jack was made welcome with much effusion. Very soon he
was off his horse, and the other animals unloaded and sent to grass.
They were not entirely ignorant of white people or horses, Jack could
see, although he had been prepared for this by his friend speaking
English so fluently. Bashfulness also was not an attribute of these
maidens any more than it is of their colonial and usurping sisters, and
the stiff ceremony of introduction was not called for to establish
friendship and favour.

Jack had hardly flung himself at his ease on the grass before he was
surrounded by a bevy of the nymphs, who showed him by unmistakable signs
that his coming was agreeable to them, and that they were prepared to
render his visit as pleasant as they could.

The packages also were opened and the contents spread out to their
admiring glances, and as Jack told the guide they were his contributions
for the favour shown to him, they immediately commenced preparations for
a general feast.



Chapter XX. Rosa Gets Initiated in Mining Parlance.

IF there is one quality a Sydneyite prides himself upon possessing above
all other created beings, and reverences above all other virtues, it is
"'cuteness." He may have his failings as regards non-observance of the
ten commandments, but, dash it! he is smart, or else he is nothing.

Arthur Chester, solicitor of the supreme courts of New South Wales, and
embryo mining expert of the coming colony, almost swooned with
unadulterated shame when he realized that he had been M. U. G. enough to
be taken in with this thin and threadbare confidence trick. He fell
limply into the chair that he had so lately occupied, and laid his head
upon the table, feeling as if he could never lift it again. "Ain't you
well, sir?" asked the waiter, who had followed him into the room. The
lawyer pulled himself together and smiled in a sickly fashion.

"A sudden spasm. I often have them, but it is passing away; fetch me in
a small bottle of champagne."

The loss of the money was the least of his troubles, although that also
touched him deeply, but at the moment it seemed a trifle. It was the
awful shock to his self-confidence that stunned him. "By George, if Rosa
should hear of this, I may as well cut my lucky."

He must keep it dark from her and every one, also get her back to the
steamer as soon as possible. As for Bertrand Decrow, or whatever the
shark's name was, and his accomplice, he resolved to let them go; better
the loss of the money than a shattered reputation.

He drank off the pint of champagne, then lighting a cigar, with the
remainder of the match he set fire to the bogus cheque and watched it
burn with sombre satisfaction. After this he went out to look for his
bride, concocting a story for her benefit as he went along.

He met Rosa as he was crossing Victoria Square. She had seen as much as
she wanted to see of the South Australian capital, and as there was
nothing overpoweringly magnificent here to raise her jealousy, as there
had been in Melbourne, she was in a genial mood, and declared it to be a
sweet little town and well worth a visit.

"It is ever thus with woman," thought her husband bitterly. "When a man
is in the dumps she is always in a merry mood, and vice versa."

He was diplomatist enough, however, to conceal his mood from her and
affect equally high spirits; the wine he had taken helped him in this;
therefore, it was quite in a holiday sort of manner that he proposed
lunch, which she, with that ever ready appetite that youth and health
has at command, assented to.

"Where is Bertrand?" she asked--an hour serves for a cornstalk to speak
of the latest friends by their christian name.

"I don't know, nor do I expect we are likely to see either that card or
his brother-sharper, Green, again." "What do you mean, Arthur?"

"What I say, Rosa, that they are a couple of Victorian sharks who tried
to nibble New South Wales, only it didn't come off--not exactly, nor any
way near it."

He told her about the game they had played, with a slight alteration
which redounded a good deal to his credit as a smart fellow. "I saw
through this dodge the moment they asked me to plank down the ready."

"I should say you did--any juggins of six years old could do that,"
replied Rosa, scornfully. Arthur winced and smothered a groan, as he
continued playfully:

"I got the cheque into my hands and then gently told them I'd trust them
after I had been to the bank. By George, you never saw such a pair of
jays as they looked when I left the room--green--yellow--blue, with
black murder in their eyes. I guess this favoured admirer of yours,
Rosa, won't try that game on again with a Sydney boy--you thought him
such a charming fellow, didn't you, eh?"

It was a mean retaliation, but it gave him a momentary surcease from his
own hidden anguish to reflect it on her.

"I didn't think about him either one way or another," answered Rosa
calmly. "He had his uses on the passage, and did for me what you could
not--got me the best seat at the table and the most sheltered nook on
the deck, also prevented me from absolute starvation; therefore, I used
him as I would utilize any handsome and agreeable fellow, as I suppose
that is what good-looking and nice men are made for, to amuse and serve
pretty women." "And chisel greenhorns," snarled Arthur.

"Never mind, old boy, since he didn't chisel you. If he had, you would
have deserved being put under restraint as an imbecile, therefore, don't
you go and flatter yourself that you have done anything smart in evading
that open ruse, for you haven't."

Chester drank a good deal of champagne that day before they went on
board their steamer, and smoked a great number of cigars, the
consequence being that as they had it pretty rough after leaving Albany
and across the Bight, he was forced to confine himself to the limits of
the cabin, and cultivate the friendship of the steward.

Rosa, however, had by no means a dull passage, for although it was her
first experience of rough weather, she was the only lady who was able to
show up at meal-times and on the deck amongst the adventurers going
west.

There was no rushing on this boat, as the rough element was confined to
the steerage.

The men who occupied the saloon were nearly all speculators, mine owners
who had been to England to float their mines, and were returning with
full purses, or young gentlemen accustomed to Piccadilly and Bond
Street, who had come out to pick up what they could, as their Norman
ancestors had done in the dim and misty past.

Those exquisites had the natural polish of centuries on them, while
their clothes gave Rosa her first insight of what a gentleman is like in
his outward appearance and manners. The speculators and mine owners
likewise had been often enough in England to get a coating of varnish
over their original habits, while they also had patronised Poole, and as
they all vied with each other in flattering her and paying her
attention, the hours flew for her between Adelaide and Albany, however
much they might have crawled for Chester, with his basin, below.

There were representatives from nearly every nationality there, and all
were united together by the one bond--Gold. They spoke of it from
morning to night, and as it was a subject which interested Rosa, her
admirers initiated her into all the mysteries of the stock and share
market. She quickly understood the quotations, and astonished her
husband, when he joined her at King George's Sound, by her fluent gabble
about the different mines and their chances.

"Hannan's," "Lady Loch's," "North and West Boulders," "Great Fingal
Reefs," etc., etc., she had them all, as pat as a parrot. She also
bewildered him with her remarks about "Soaks," "Swampers,"
"Sandgropers," "Speilers," and "Boomellers," and other strange
expressions which were as yet darkly unintelligible to him.

"The hotel is the thing, Arthur, but we must order any amount of
champagne, as my friend, the Hon. Billy Shatters, tells me it is the
tipple for Kalgourlie. Twenty-five shillings a bottle up there they
charge, and they suck into it like ginger-pop."

Arthur listened in a dazed way, for his head seemed empty and his
stomach, likewise in the same condition, felt moving like a swing-boat,
although they were now in the peaceful waters of the lovely Sound. "I
could do a bottle myself just now," he muttered feebly, "only not at the
price."

"Come and I'll introduce you to the gang, and you will get it for
nothing, my boy," she said promptly. "They have drank enough the past
three days to ballast a China clipper."

Chester was received with great civility by these scions of nobility,
and capitalists, for Rosa knew them all by name--each had introduced the
other to her--and her husband was delighted to find himself amongst men
who could talk about hundreds of thousands as if they were shillings, or
with gentlemen whose names and ages could be found in "Burke."

The champagne flowed, as Rosa had remarked, like ginger-pop at a Manly
Beach Temperance pic-nic.

They were all exultant in spirits and full of humour and good-natured
chaff. The land they were going to was every man's country for the time.
The hell of fever, dust, condensed water and gold. It was not a country
to boast about as a home, that is, the portion where they were bound
for. No man would think of making it his home, therefore there was no
patriotism nor even politics in their talk; the latest quotations or
fresh discovery were all that interested them.

Albany is one of the cleanest, sunniest, sweetest, sleepiest and least
go-ahead townships in Australia. As it was ten years ago it still
remains. The people live on their visitors, and the visitors look at the
town and bay, till the steamer or train leaves, and then they run on to
other destinations, yet Albany as a sanatorium is delightful, and its
government officials about as red-tapy as they can be and be permitted
to live.

The natives will not move out of their confirmed habits for king or
kaiser. They are accustomed to be sworn at by the maddened visitor,
while they can blaspheme in return as fluently as could be desired.
Their wants are few, their demands exorbitant, and their minds
independent, therefore the visitor, not being able to get anything he
requires, learns to expect little when he comes again.

The voyagers had not longer than a couple of hours to wait in this
delightful and picturesque port of call, while the porters and wharfers
leisurely loaded up the train, then they were off once more across the
salt marshes to the capital of West Australia.

Many of the passengers continued by boat round the granite cliffs to
Freemantle, but Chester had experienced enough of life on the ocean
wave, therefore he took the train.

"That hotel idea of yours, Mrs. Chester, is a veritable stroke of
genius," murmured the Honourable Billy Shatters in the ear of Rosa, as
he stood on the platform waiting to see her away; he was going round by
boat.

"It is what we want up Kalgourlie, almost as much as the electric light,
to make us perfectly happy; a house where we can have the reforming
influence of a lady to keep us straight. By Jove! I'll be your first
lodger, so remember your promise and reserve a bed for me." "I won't
forget," she answered, with one of her studied upward glances.

"You'll recognise me when we meet again, I trust, Mrs. Chester; we are
all rigged out alike up there, you know, and high hats are strictly
prohibited according to miners' law." "I'll recognise you by your
eye-glass," she replied saucily.

"Alas, then I am forgotten, for that is the outward insignia of a mining
expert, and none of us care to take such a responsibility."

"By your Piccadilly drawl then," she said with a vague remembrance of
having read this expression in the Guillotine.

"The boys would lynch me, if I tried it on with them. I leave the
eye-glass, high hat, drawl and other etceteras in my hotel at Perth
until I come back again. Is there nothing else you will recognise me by,
my dear Mrs. Chester?"

"Yes," murmured Rosa. "There is no fear of me forgetting you. I shall
think often about you."

"And I of you--and our stormy passage across the Bight. Well, ta-ta,
till we meet again at Kalgourlie the thirst-provoking."

"Here 'Duke,'they are wanting you over here, there a game of 'Two
up'going on," were the last words Chester heard as the train rolled out
of the station. He quickly banged his head over his wife's through the
window to see where the "Duke" was, but could only see the Honourable
Billy being dragged away by one of the other gentlemen. "Why do they
call him the Duke, Rosa?" he asked.

"I'll tell you presently," answered his initiated bride, who was engaged
waving her handkerchief and kissing her hand to the friends she was
leaving behind.

"You must know, you guppy," observed Rosa, as she settled herself after
the train had steamed out of sight of those on the platform, "that a man
is called a 'Duke'on the gold fields who can throw double heads six
times in succession at 'Two up.'" "And what the dickens is 'Two up?'"

"Oh, hang it, I cannot be bothered teaching you the A B C. Go to an
infant school for that. Two up--if you must know--is pitch and toss with
a slight difference. However, I don't doubt but you'll find it out
yourself before long. I won a tenner on it the other night in the saloon
in less time than you could have put down a whisky and soda."

Saying which Rosa took out of her bag one of half-a-dozen of the latest
London novels, which Billy had given her, and settled herself down to a
two hundred and fifty-six miles' read.



Chapter XXI. Jack Milton and His Coloured Friends.

ALTHOUGH the black fellow of Australia is neither the reasonless, nor
hideous animal that it is generally the fashion to make him, he must be
allowed to be one of the most improvident, in fact; in this particular
phase of his character, he very closely resembles the literary, artistic
and theatrical Bohemian, who at one period might have been seen prowling
about the regions of the Adelphi Terrace, but who is now almost
exterminated since the poet, novelist, journalist, critic, artist and
actor have taken to frock coats, high hats, cigarettes, and the Stock
Exchange for their inspiration. The aboriginal and the Bohemian have
both to retire before the advance of civilization as represented by the
Rothschilds and their fellow-capitalists.

Still, if the aboriginal is like the true and ancient Bohemian--an
improvident fellow who acts on the early Christian principle of trusting
in Providence for his next meal, when he has one before him, he is not
stingy about sharing it with his friends, as he is not at all particular
about sharing in his friends' goods. He bears no animosity to the white
fellows for stealing his land from him, so long as they do not grudge
him a few sheep now and again to keep him alive, for he believes in
sharing the plunder. He would even share his water-holes with them if
they would only be content to leave him a drain to quench his own
thirst.

But his experience of the whites since they took forcible possession of
his hunting-grounds has not been such as to conduce towards friendship
or trust on his part. All his life he has been accustomed to fighting as
a relaxation, and he has the same distaste to be conquered as any other
created being; the only difference between him and other races is that
whereas patriotism and property have been incentives to war and
slaughter on their part, the stern necessity of having to fight for his
bare existence has been the excuse of the aboriginal.

Explorers have gone over his ground and hunted him down as sportsmen do
foxes. When he showed them his wells, they have emptied them without the
least consideration for him, or his women and children. Settlers growing
wealthy on his lands have laid poisonous baits for him, as they would
for such pests as rabbits, rats and dingoes, arsenic being the favourite
flavouring for these baits, although phosphorus and other merciful means
were also employed for removing these original owners of the soil, who
committed the crime of helping themselves to a sheep now and again from
the hundreds of thousands that were feeding on their grass and drinking
all their available water. Mounted troopers with their renegade serfs,
the black trackers, have followed these natives to their lairs and shot
them down, old and young, women and infants, exterminating the tribe,
root and branch, who have been in too close proximity to the latest
encroaching settlement. They call this Iraelitish system, "Dispersing
the Natives," who may have been considered troublesome to the invaders.
These Christianized land-robbers ever creeping onward and grasping
another slice, call the easy-going and unpatriotic owners, treacherous,
thieving and murdering beasts. I wonder what kind of beasts we, the
builders of churches, would become, if we were robbed as we have robbed
the aboriginal. I wonder what kind of outlaws we would show up, if we
were treated as we treat them, and had only wooden spears, boomerangs
and waddies to avenge our wrongs with, against revolvers, Winchesters,
dynamite, and, most damnable of treacheries, the cold-blooded assassin's
weapon--poison secretly spread over the land to destroy and torture us.
If we were first robbed, next starved, and lastly poisoned when the
pillagers could not get near enough to shoot us down?

We have given them blankets when their nakedness affronted our females,
and kidnapped a boy or two to make servants of in return for the vast
territory we have stolen from them, and when the blanketted scoundrels
pilfer our trifles, and the kidnapped boys run back home, preferring
liberty and rough times to pampered slavery, we call them ungrateful and
treacherous beasts.

Aboriginals, Kanakas, Chinese, Japanese, Afghans, all who do not
represent Western civilisation we treat like beasts, denying them any of
the rights of man; yet we howl against them if they dare to remonstrate,
retaliate or claim equal privileges as children of Earth. Our murders on
them are acts of justice, their retaliations on us are atrocious
murders. If a native, a Celestial or an Oriental kills a European, a
holocaust hardly appeases our implacable rage. If a European kills or
injures a coloured man, the most kindly will say, "Serve the dog
right!"--and unless it is attended with peculiar features of atrocity or
publicity, the law and the press unite in hushing it up. As for those
native lords of the soil, from the evil day that the first white man
accosted him down to the present hour, a ceaseless record of wrong has
been presented to the Great Avenger dark and vile enough to damn to
everlasting perdition the greatest race that ever struggled to be
supreme.

As for treachery, vileness and atrocity, their acts seem like flakes of
snow mingling with soot-smuts when compared with ours, when we remove
the magnifying glass from them and the cover from us--hypocritical and
ruthless savages as we are in spite of our pious pretensions.

The English-speaking guide, who had sworn brotherhood and introduced
Jack Milton to his tribe, was the leader of the fighting-men and the
eldest son to the chief. After seeing him safely placed, this splendid
warrior left the camp, with those followers who had come so far with
him. He told Jack on no account to leave the ground until his return,
also promised to be back in time for the feast.

"Yarraman (horses) no good to you after this; only eat up all the grass,
drink up all the water, and then die. Better kill and eat them before
that. You see bymby when we leave this place."

Jack owned the wisdom of these remarks, and agreed to sacrifice his pack
horses, as he reckoned they would be of little use after the crowd had
taken its fill of his stock of provisions, but he pleaded for the life
of his riding horse--the chum who had carried him so far. "All right,
keep that one; we bring along some more to-night."

He gave some orders to the women who were looking after the fires, and
then he went off and left Jack to amuse himself the best way he could.

This best way seemed to be sleep to Milton after his long and fatiguing
journey, therefore, filling and lighting his pipe, he lay down under the
shadow of the overhanging cliffs; and puffing gently he watched the
smoke rings ascend into the still atmosphere, and soar lazily towards
the blue, until sleep gradually claimed him as her own.

When he woke it was night, and the moon was high in the heavens. The
camp fires also were burning brightly, and the natives all assembled and
feasting. A pleasant perfume of broiling flesh was in his nostrils, and
a tremendous vacuum under his belt, so that without any invitation he
went over to the first group, amongst which happened to be his friend
and helped himself to what they were devouring.

It was horse flesh they were indulging in. During the hours he had been
unconscious they had killed a couple of his pack horses and transformed
a bag of his flour into dampers, and were now putting them away as
quickly as they could.

When his friend saw him he nodded, and made room for him at his side,
then he said briefly, chewing vigorously at the same time, which gave
his words a muffled sound: "These dam troopers and trackers no trouble
you no more. See!"

He pointed to the open near the pond, and as Jack looked he saw a number
of horses grazing, with the hobbles on them. "What have you done?"

"All same as they wanted to do to you. All same as they would do to
us--what you call it on the dam stations when black fellow am shot down
all round?" "Dispersed?"

"Yes, that am the word--they are all dispersed and sent to kingdom come.
We went along down to their camp, and wait till bymby they all fall
'sleep 'cept one fellow. He watch with him gun. Then we creep round 'em
and rush in. Some jump up and begin to shoot. That all right, only we no
care one dam for him shooters, and him very soon shut up that game when
our spears go into him. Not long and all lie same as him make black
fellow when him get the square chance. That all right, you bet, mate."

"What have you done with them?" asked Jack, who now that the deed was
done felt strangely relieved. They were his natural enemies, although
they had only been doing what they considered to be their duty, so that
he could hardly be expected to do more than regret the necessity of
destroying them.

The aboriginal still talked with his mouth full and his teeth working,
in a muffled, indifferent way, as if the subject had not much interest
to him; yet there was a lurid glitter in his eyes that contradicted his
assumed disregard.

"I did what this fellow, Cap'in George they call him, have done to my
friends, once, twice, thrice. Leave him to rot, or for the birds and
ants and dingoes to pick him bones clean." He pointed with his greasy
finger towards the north.

"Over there him creepy up to our camp, and shoot him little lubras and
gins when him all asleep two years ago, that am him game always. He dam
sharp and not let many run away. Ha! ha!--not dam smart enough this
time, though." "But this party will soon be missed, and a search made
for them?"

"Bymby, yes, but we all gone by that time--no come back for a long time.
We go along o' you over there." He pointed westward. "Plenty good places
all long away there which men with big yarraman all miss. Plenty gold
down there. Plenty gold where I show you bymby. Water and grub and gold
and grass 'nough too for one yarraman, but no more. We kill them fellows
to-morrow some, the rest another day, then we go on two days more."

The next morning a number of the natives went off on an expedition
which, the young leader explained, was to carry the bodies of the
troopers and trackers into the desert, where they would not be found,
and to remove all traces of the conflict that had taken place.

The others who remained in the camp were busy dividing the packages into
more portable baggage. Two more horses were slaughtered and cut up,
while the women were busy preparing for another feast.

Jack and his friend went down into the dry gully, attended by about a
dozen of the best-looking young girls, who were full of sprightliness
and mischief. The young chief was already married and had a little son.
The "gin" was his second wife, as the first, with her children, had been
murdered by the troopers, whom he had just revenged himself upon so
terribly. Possibly this was one of the causes why he had taken so kindly
to Jack Milton.

The lubras, or unmarried girls of the tribe, were not available to any
of their own tribe, as such were considered too near akin, and on this
point they are very particular. They would be abducted by some other
friendly or hostile tribe, as were the Sabine women by the Romans,
therefore there was no more possibility of jealousy among the young men
over the partiality shown towards Jack by the girls, than would be
amongst brothers towards the stranger their sisters paid attention to.
Jack in fact was the only man whom these fair ones could flirt with at
present, therefore, it was no wonder that he was greatly in demand by
the dusky, and in many instances, unmistakably comely girls. He had the
run of the ranch without a present rival.

Jack had not gone far fossicking in this valley before he saw that he
had a gold centre at his command. If it could have been possible to stay
and exploit this, he might have stayed here and made his fortune, but as
such an idea was out of the question he had to sigh and relinquish it.

One of the girls who were with him suddenly stooped and picked up a
dark-coloured pebble about the size of a duck's egg. This she attracted
his attention to, and then placing it on a hard boulder with a piece of
quartz she struck it with her full force, and split it in two, then she
held out the broken halves to him with the inner sides uppermost.

She laughed merrily at his loud cry of admiration, exhibiting all her
snowy teeth as if they were better worth looking at than the
prismatic-tinted milky centre of that pebble, pretty although it might
be. Yet she was pleased at the eagerness with which he pounced upon her
present.

It was an opal in the rough, that unlucky but exquisite gem, with its
rainbow-coloured fires swimming and sparkling, now green, now red, now
blue and purple in the sunlight.

Jack looked at the stone carefully outside and inside, then he forgot
about the gold specks that he could see in the sand and crumbling
quartz, and began to look all round him for other specimens of the same
sort.

He found, as he supposed, many exactly on the outside like the one he
held, but when he broke these open, despite the dissentient cries of his
handsome attendants, they were without a glimmer of the colour he
wanted. It was only now and again, at considerable intervals, when they
brought him, or pointed out one stone from a heap of others that he
found the opal vein crossing the kernel. They knew where it was to be
found in all colours and shapes, but they could not explain their
secret, and the leader, seeing him well protected, had left him to their
tender mercies. They were merry girls, if somewhat forward and
inquisitive, but already Jack had got used to their ways, likewise to
their lack of apparel, for they seemed to have no consciousness as to
its being unbecoming. Indeed, the young man had to own that nature here
could not have been improved upon by dress.

Afterwards, when he saw these same beauties hiding their charms under
the shirts, &c., of the troopers and trackers, he thought what a world
of impropriety may be suggested by a shirt.

On the second morning they struck the camp, some of the boys and girls
riding the spare horses and causing great sport as they rolled off or
were sent flying over the animals' heads. That day they travelled sixty
miles and brought up at a native well in the desert.



Chapter XXII. To Kalgourlie.

ROSA CHESTER and her husband, for as he was at present in the position
of her pupil in Western ways, she had naturally taken the leadership of
the expedition, therefore he became known at this point and ever
afterwards, as her husband.

Rosa and her husband stayed for several days at Perth, looking after
their goods and purchasing other articles required, and they lodged at
the "Shamrock Hotel" in Hay Street.

Here Rosa, who was on the out-look for a barmaid, found one that just
suited her, and as she offered much better wages than the girl was
getting at Perth, she secured her services for Kalgourlie.

Mrs. Sarah Hall was a young widow with one child, a little girl of about
three years old. Sarah was dark, remarkably good-looking, and
exceedingly lady-like in her manner, therefore would make an excellent
foil for her blonde and vivacious mistress.

They had written, previous to their coming, to their townsman, and found
that Mr. Anthony Vandyke Jenkins, mining expert, who had secured for
them a vacant area in Hannan Street, and acting on their orders, had
also fixed up commodious premises in wood, corrugated iron and hessian
canvas, so that all they had to do on arrival at Perth was to pay the
bills for building, material, and painting, which their friend and agent
enclosed in his last letter.

This was no light matter, for Jenkins had done the thing according to
his customary style, when entrusted with a commission, and things were
flourishing, that is, regardless of expense. A gang of workmen had
invaded the rising township, with doorways, windows and frameworks all
prepared beforehand. The foreman, under the direction of that
enterprising little cornstalk, pegged out the ground and on it made his
plan of rooms, store-houses, stables, and bars, etc. There was no
stairway required, nor intricacies of that sort, as they had plenty of
space to stretch back if more apartments were required, and the plan of
construction was simple in the extreme.

On the first day the workmen were busy erecting a fence round the block
of ground and putting up the frame. On the second day the building was
complete, signboard and all, and the first coat of paint laid on the
woodwork. On the third day the "Chester Hotel" was an accomplished fact,
and the workmen who had built and painted it were either rushing off to
Coolgardie or other places to execute fresh commissions, or else
striking out for themselves as explorers and gold prospectors, for this
is how business is conducted in the West of Australia to-day.

A photograph of the new establishment was sent along with the accounts
by the energetic Jenkins, likewise a preliminary advertisement and
descriptive puff in "The Western Argus." A deep well had been dug and
condensing plant erected, so that as the advertisement said, first-class
mineral waters were to be manufactured on the premises. Billiard and
concert rooms had not been forgotten. Stabling for horses and yards for
camels were provided; in fact, Jenkins had proved his genius for
business where money was no object, and had erected for them the most
commodious and sumptuous establishment on the fields.

"We'll go partners," Jenkins wrote to Chester, "as you are posted up in
legal matters. I've fixed up an office next door to the bar, where we
can work together."

From the photographs Chester read on the sign-boards that ranged along
the front, over the striped canvas awning of the verandah, "The Chester
Hotel, Mrs. Rosa Chester, Proprietor, etc., etc.," and on the other
"Jenkins and Chester, Mining Experts, Advisers, Arbitrators, Mining and
Titles Agents, Accountants, Auditors and Solicitors, etc."

Arthur Chester was not at all averse to this partnership of the expert
and legal combination, as it left him free to follow the profession he
had been brought up to. Rosa also was pleased to have the hotel entirely
in her own hands, and everything so expeditiously managed.

"Tony is a little marvel with his brassy assurance, one of those sons
that New South Wales should be proud of," said Rosa to her husband.

"Yes, he is smart--only I hope he won't speculate too recklessly now
that we are partners," replied Arthur. "That land-boom experience of his
is a trifle dangerous."

"Oh, you must keep him within limits, Arthur, only let him have a bit of
line, for he is a lucky fellow, and even in the land-boom got out of it
better than most. The mines are pretty sure, so don't be too cautious,
for Jenkins knows the ropes, you bet. I'm also in luck to get such a
taking help as Mrs. Sarah Hall. We ought to make a good business between
us." "Yes, she is a most superior girl. Did she tell you what her
husband was?"

"A remittance man--got his quarterly allowance from England and lived up
to it, as these swells all do; then when he kicked out, she was left to
make the best of her good looks and woman-wit. I only hope she won't be
a fool and get married again up there too soon. She hasn't got over the
loss of her husband and seems to live only for the little girl, so that
this may keep her from entanglement for a time."

Sarah Hall was certainly all that they described her to be. A young
woman of about twenty-five, stylish and lady-like in her get-up, with
quiet, amiable manners about her. Her language was more correct than
that of most colonial women, that is, she did not indulge in slang as
Rosa so constantly did, and in this as well as her personal appearance,
formed a decided contrast, which was likely to keep them the longer
friends.

She was tall and superbly formed, as most Victorian women are, with a
mass of jet-black hair which she wore discreetly coiled up. Her eyes
also were intensely dark, and her eyebrows strongly defined. Her
features were regular and her colour fresh, giving her that peculiarly
vivid look that characterizes the young daughters of Judah, and always
suggests tropical flowers.

But she had a feminine softness which is not always present with those
vivid Orientals, and although her dark eyes were penetrating in their
glances, yet they were velvety and caressing as well. Her voice also was
of a silky and musical texture, and the sensitive ripe lips curved
pleasantly over the regular white teeth. She was in fact a very fresh
and charming woman, who need not have gone far to find a lover, even
with that encumbrance to which she was so devoted--her lovely little
daughter, Alice.

This small maid of three years old was the most gipsy-like and flashing
little elf that it was possible to imagine. Lively and quick as an eel,
with all the vivacity and sharpness of a sun-bred colonial, she had
passed her life in public-houses along with her mother, who could not
bear to let her out of her sight. Dressed in the latest child fashions,
her mother made all her dresses and was constantly using her needle when
she was not drawing corks or pulling beer, and seemed to have no other
desire or pleasure than that of making her child attractive and
doll-like. Where she went, little Alice had to go also. They slept
together at night, while during the day the inside of the bar was her
playground, and the customers her only friends.

It was natural to expect that she would be oldfashioned and precocious,
also that the language she heard was not the best education for a child,
yet, to the credit of most of the customers, the presence of that little
elf acted as a check on their profanity or obscenity, and it was but
seldom that Mrs. Hall had to correct those who came for refreshment. A
nudge in the ribs and a glance at the small listener generally stopped
even the inebriate humourist from finishing his latest comic yarn.

It is astonishing how much the presence of a child in a bar can purify
its moral atmosphere, to say nothing of such a barmaid as Mrs. Sarah
Hall. When not wanted by the customers, she would sit quietly working at
her seams, with an amiable smile for everyone, the child at her feet
playing with her toys. If men told their questionable anecdotes in a
subdued whisper, she could be conveniently deaf or engage the attention
of Alice by speaking to her. She had always an affable answer to every
question or address, yet only the new chums ever attempted to compliment
her on her good looks, and when they did this once it was seldom that
they repeated the offence.

She was not stern with these poor new chums, indeed a considerable
amount of mild if contemptuous pity blended in the glance which her
black eyes threw over them, yet it never failed to stop the commonplace
and idiotic nonsense which one hears so often addressed to barmaids. The
"bounder" generally returned to the sucking of his walking-stick handle,
with his fascinating warble trailed off to broken incoherence.

"A devilish pretty girl, but what a know there is in her eyes; turns one
inside out in a flash."

That Sarah Hall was not one to be lured off her feet by flattery most of
her customers knew after a little bar intimacy, and no one had as yet
got beyond that stage in their friendship with her. What leisure she had
was devoted to her child. It was seldom also that she had to say, "Stop
that talk, will you, please?" as the men generally saved her the
trouble, but when she did, the animal who provoked it did not soon
forget the dagger-like look that flashed from her jetty eyes. If the
masher read world-lore in the pitying glance, the filthmonger read a cut
in the face if he persisted.

Rosa got a first-rate character along with Sarah. She could hold her own
and keep order anywhere, and was withal a general favourite with the
frequenters both old and young.

When it was known she was going up to Kalgourlie, little Alice got
numerous presents, while general regret was expressed throughout the
town. Detective Wilmore, who was one of her oldest and most attentive
customers, came to say good-bye.

"Well, Sarah, I'll miss you, but I wish you luck. We have known each
other a tidy time now, and the longer our friendship, the more I respect
you. By George, little Alice there has done wonders."

"You have been very good always to me, Mr. Wilmore," answered Sarah,
with quiet emotion.

"By George, not a bit more than you deserve, Sarah. Had anyone told me
three years ago that a girl of your abilities could have knuckled down
to the life you have, I wouldn't have believed them--don't blush, you
are the cleverest woman in Australia, barring none, and it isn't many
artists who could have strength of mind enough to give up old habits as
you have done."

"Oh, love can work miracles, Mr. Wilmore," replied Sarah, looking softly
at her child.

"Good luck to you, my dear, keep on as you are doing and there's no
fear; the little one will grow to be a credit and a comfort to her
plucky mother. I respect you, Sarah, because I know you; a deal more
than I do some who consider themselves your betters."

And Detective Wilmore meant all he said, for it had been part of his
secret duty to look after Sarah Hall since her coming to Western
Australia, and he was now giving her her freedom from surveillance, and
pledging himself to bury her past as far as he could.

There was a considerable amount of liquor consumed at the "Shamrock,"
indeed visitors were but coldly received who were at all disposed to
temperance. Its locality also was not of the most law-abiding,
particularly on a Saturday night, when free fights were an ordinary
occurrence, so that both Chester and Rosa were glad when their business
was over and they could leave their own crowded and evil-smelling
quarters, even although the change meant dust, heat, and shortness of
water, the auriferous sand desert.

The Hon. Billy and his friends joined them on their train journey and
made things as pleasant as possible for the ladies. The carriages also
were comfortable, and the canvas water-bags which they carried with them
a decided novelty to Rosa, who had never been through a waterless land
before.

They had not proceeded many miles on their way before they seemed to be
whirled into another land with many features different to unromantic
Australia. Caravans of camels with their picturesque Afghan drivers
could be seen lining the sandy landscape outside. New arrivals plodding
along with their swags, bound for the gold centres, bullock teams,
horses, cycles, coaches--every one in a mad hurry to get along, and all
consumed with overpowering thirst.

The train was waited eagerly for at every station by such of the
population as were not under the ground, so that the platforms were
crowded. Introductions and hand-shaking, likewise liberal libations.
Chester, Rosa, and Sarah Hall were made intimate with every man of
consequence in the land, and each promised to visit Kalgourlie and
patronize the new hotel. If Mrs. Chester ever entertained any doubt
about her idea being a success, such doubts were laid for ever at rest
now, when she beheld the evidence of that everlasting and slakeless
thirst. The "sand-gropers" were like the sands they groped amongst,
capable of absorbing moisture to an unlimited extent. The gold fields
might yield a golden harvest, but nothing compared to the mine she was
about to float--in champagne.

There is nothing to look at from the windows as they rush over that
dust-filled country, while the flies swarm in such irritating clusters
that any other occupation except constantly shifting them is out of the
question; but this provides them all with exercise sufficient to make
them long for rest when at last the journey is over and Coolgardie is
reached, after which they drove the eighteen miles to Kalgourlie. A
festive crowd met them as they entered the town, from the mayor
downwards, and here Jenkins becomes a personage to be courted as the
"boys" press forward eagerly, to be introduced to the pretty newcomers.

They are escorted to their new premises where they find everything in
readiness for them, for Jenkins has done his duty and forgotten no
items. He had hired Japanese servants, and prised open several of the
cases of provisions, wines and spirits, so that after a wash, Rosa and
Sarah came down to find both bar, dining, billiard and concert rooms
crowded with thirsty well-wishers. That night she acts the hostess for
the first time, and as no charge is made on this evening, the "boys"
assemble in force, and the "Chester Hotel" is declared a success.



Chapter XXII. The Swampers.

ALONG a portion of the coast between Eucla and Eyre within the great
Australian Bight, a small schooner was beating as if on the outlook for
a cove or bay to enter and bring to anchor.

A dreary and inhospitable portion of the coast this is, with those
wall-like cliffs standing out of the surf that ever lashed whitely
against them from these stormy waters, for the Bight is, like the Bay of
Biscay, a place of storm, and the waves are mighty as they come from
those antarctic wastes without any impediment until they fling
themselves against the granite walls.

On the deck of this small craft several of my characters are gathered
who have been too long neglected; yet, as they have been engaged upon a
monotonous and uneventful sea voyage with retarding head winds, my
readers have not lost much in leaving them alone.

The unfortunate Psychometrist, Professor Mortikali or Jeremiah Judge,
who unconsciously has been made an accomplice of housebreakers, torn
from his comfortable and lucrative practice and forced to endure the
combined misery of sea-sickness and dread of capture, makes one of the
group along with Barney and his brother and sister criminals.

They had intended to go to America when they started from Sydney with
their loot, for the captain and his crew had as urgent reasons for
leaving Australia as these passengers had--but deny it who will, we may
have our reasons for cursing this home of the kangaroo and the
cornstalk, yet there is something magnetic about it that seems to draw
back again and again those who have once been there. England is
delicious and restful with its green meads and sheltered lanes;
Australia is arid, unpicturesque and monotonous in its scenery, yet to
the convict-bred, or the restless adventurer, it is a magnet which he
cannot long resist.

Perhaps it was some newspapers that the skipper had laid in to beguile
the long voyage before them that did the trick. Perhaps because most of
these criminals had never been out of the land of their birth, and
America did not hold out a tempting or a fertile prospect, the
competition in roguery being too keen in that great land, or the news of
the gold-finding in Western Australia being too much for them to resist
the fascination; but, whatever the cause, they yielded and sailed round
the coast and approached the land instead of keeping out to sea.

Certainly Barney was the only man amongst them who knew that murder was
amongst the things they were wanted for, and he kept the secret for the
sake of his chief. He it was who had played upon their lust for gain and
home-sickness, and persuaded them to seek the shores at this desert
portion.

They had gone round Tasmania, as they did not wish their motions to be
telegraphed about at Bass' Straits, and a long and wearisome voyage it
had been round South Cape, and after many an argument they had resolved
to land in the Bight, and go from there to the goldfields.

The captain knew the coast line well, also a good landing-place where
they would not be more than a couple of hundred miles from the latest
discovered fields, possibly less than half that distance from new fields
which had been discovered. His idea was to make a joint company affair
of it, bring the schooner to anchor at an old abandoned whaling station
that he knew, and leave a portion of the crew to look after her, while
the rest pushed on and prospected a bit.

Several of them had done some prospecting; the captain and Barney had
both worked on different diggings in their time, while the Professor,
albeit the mystical arts were his strong points, yet had matriculated as
a mining engineer both in America and New Zealand, and although, like
most other people, he despised the calling that he had been brought up
to, his knowledge of geology was much less a sham than his knowledge of
astronomy.

"I reckon the Professor there could put us right if we struck a
goldfield," said the captain.

"Yes," admitted the Professor; "if the gold is likely to be there I can
guess at it most likely; but what is that to be compared to the glorious
knowledge the speruts reveal an' what the stars show us? Speruts are no
good at finding out gold mines nor buried treasures--they despises
filthy lucre."

"Never mind--you tell us what you know in your own line, and we'll
believe what you want us arterwards about the speruts, when we has our
mining rights made out and our ground pegged off."

I have seen men who were first-class mechanics pretend they know nothing
about their craft, yet be weakly boastful over something which they were
only amateurs in. Poets and painters who deprecated their inherent and
acquired gifts, who boasted about their talent as cooks. The Professor
was really a man to be respected as a mining expert, yet that was the
last occupation he would have thought to make money in. Real knowledge
gave him modesty on the only subject he was really an adept at.

His companions, however, had tested him by adroit questions, and felt
confident that if he was with them there might be some chance of success
in their quest; therefore the Professor was a man to be taken care of.
They had provisions enough for all their wants for the next twelve
months. In the galley also they had a good condensing machine, which
although not very large, yet condensed enough for their purpose,
therefore they made all their arrangements.

They would anchor in this secluded cove, and leave half the crew to look
after the ship and work the machine during their absence, while they
went up country prospecting as they went along.

If successful, they would send one of their number to the nearest warden
and take out rights, also purchase camels, while the others camped on
the ground, then they would establish a camp and bring up their water
from both places--the nearest centre and the ship. They had money
enough to pay for what they required, and at an outlying field like this
they need not fear surveillance. A camel can travel a hundred miles a
day, and there were plenty of them to work the show. Let them once
introduce a new field to the market, and no one would ask where they
came from. They would become respected citizens. The gold of the
pawnbroker's jewellery they had already reduced to ingots, while the
gems were untraceable, therefore they considered themselves perfectly
safe.

It is astonishing how even an habitual criminal craves to be regarded as
a respectable member of society, so long as he can become so without
disgorging the proceeds of his nefarious undertakings. To be mine owners
and floaters of mines, seemed to these criminals much as the Church of
England looks to a Dissenter who has been indulging in a course of the
early fathers. When the Dissenter joins the Church of England, he has
taken the first decided step in abnegation of personal responsibility,
and the future paces from Low to High, and afterwards to Rome, are
simple.

When a thief feels a craving to become a respectable member of society,
yet has a lingering fondness for his old habits in Australia, he tries
to discover a gold mine, then he floats it and becomes a member of
society without relinquishing his old habits. He advances on his course
in time as he becomes hardened to his new career, and takes office as a
director of companies, next a magistrate or warden, to be afterwards put
up as a member of parliament, and finally he may become that bulwark of
society, a deacon in the church. After that stage, he is like Alexander
when he had conquered the world, for earth has no more to offer him. If
he can only steal a good position in Heaven, then indeed he is a master
of his profession.

It was a laudable instinct that animated these bank-breakers to return
to their native soil and face the hardships and privations of an
explorer's life. The possession of a good capital had given them daring
and respectable impulses. A thief with a thousand pounds is not the
reckless ne'er-do-well that a thief is with thirty pieces of silver. The
thousand-pound man will make a stern effort to take care of and increase
his store. He will, if he has the chance, become a careful speculator,
particularly if placed as those men were on a rocky and uninhabited
shore with no public houses near at hand.

About mid-day the captain descried the opening he was in search of, and
then easily they sailed inside and brought to anchor in a small bay,
with a good beach in front of them, and protecting head-lands all round.

In olden times this place had been a whaling station. There were even
some remains of huts and sheds on the shores, but they had long ago been
deserted, while this portion of the land the natives did not visit.

The telegraph line ran along close to the coast here, but there were no
stations nearer than Eucla. Here in this quiet and secluded bay the
vessel might lie for months, without having a visitor, and only then if
an accident occurred to the wires.

It was decided therefore that meantime the captain, the Professor,
Barney, and three others would do the prospecting, leaving the mate with
the women who had accompanied them, and the sailors to overhaul the
schooner and repaint her, also keep the condensing machine constantly at
work, so as to supply those up country with water as they might require
it.

The company was to be a joint-stock affair, so that those left behind
would have the same profits as those who might find the field. Barney
for the present was chosen leader of the explorers, and the mate left in
charge of the ship.

They spent the first day landing their provisions and arranging their
swags, and at daybreak on the second day they started for the desert.

By sundown they had covered twenty miles of ground, mostly sandy land
and mulgee scrub, but hardly a sign of grass.

However, they were successful in finding several waterholes where they
camped, in which a little muddy water still remained. With this they
contented themselves, reserving the condensed water which they had for a
more urgent occasion.

Throughout Australia perhaps there is hardly a worse track of country to
traverse, than this over which they had resolved to go. They were fully
aware likewise of the risks they were running, for, as the explorers'
journals is the only history that Australia has yet to relate, the
roving population are nearly all pretty familiar with the experiences or
mistakes of those who have opened up the land. Along these precipitous
cliffs, Eyre, and later the present Premier of Western Australia, Sir
John Forest, had travelled and endured much hardship.

Farther inland they had not much hope of meeting anything but salt
marshes, sand and wild scrub, and perhaps the coveted article they were
after--gold.

But they were all colonial born, with the exception of the Professor,
and well accustomed to roughing it, therefore they never forgot for a
moment even in the midst of their plenty, the possibility of being
reduced to famine point. They were treacherous and murderous hounds, but
the instinct of self-preservation was planted strongly in them, and
although they could indulge in a debauch when the way seemed clear to
future refreshments, they had fore-knowledge and prudence enough to
resist anything like over-indulgence now.

One pannikin of boiled tea was the allowance served out to each man,
even with those half-dried waterholes round them, with a piece of damper
and a slice of cold pork as flavouring, and then they lay down and
smoked themselves to sleep, the tobacco keeping the mosquitoes from them
while they were conscious of the annoyance; afterwards they did not mind
these marauders taking their feast.

They carried with them a couple of bottles of three-star brandy, but
that was for medicinal purposes only. They were not such idiots as to
take any of this thirst-provoker on a journey like this, where a man
requires to husband all the moisture he has about him. They were not
reckless, although they were remorseless scoundrels.

Ten miles is a good day's walk over the ground they were passing, but
they pushed on and doubled this during most days, that is, when the
ground was fairly level.

They were also fortunate in the line they took, for luck is everything
in such cases. Many explorers have passed water-holes and soaks a little
way right or left of them, to suffer untold thirstagonies with water so
close at hand. Science and experience are of no great help, for in this
land both water and gold are found in the most unlikely places with no
premonitory signs to guide the traveller to them. He may be walking over
sand ridges, wading knee deep in the loose soil and all at once drop
across a clay soak, a quartz outcrop with a cavity filled with water, or
a fertile patch of ground fringing a pool crowded with water fowl, or he
may miss all these by less than a quarter of a mile, and leave his bones
to bleach on the arid desert.

That loose sand is as fertile as the loams of other countries, and in
places as engulfing as the quicksands by the Solway. When the wanderer
goes forth to the wilderness of Australia, he ought to pray constantly
to his guardian angel to protect and watch over his feet.

The six adventurers who now trusted to the captain's sextant,
chronometer and pocket compass, must have had many friendly demons
accompanying them, for although the season had been such a dry and hot
one, their water-bags never ran dry. Mirages surrounded them from dawn
till dusk, spreading like cool lakes on every side. At night these burnt
lambently and ghost-like. They trod over salt marshes with the crusted
saline like frosted snow, and the gypsum shining like glass, while
underneath lay fathomless bogs of blue-black slime. They touched on
places where the quicksands quivered under their tread like badly-made
jelly, and endured heat-fumes that might have sucked the vitality from
any but a colonial. Mosquitoes, ants and sand flies bit them viciously,
while countless myriads of flies and fleas covered them as they
struggled on; what these desert plagues exist upon, who can say?--where
animal life is wanting. Possibly they can live and die fasting, yet when
they do get a chance they make the most of it.

On the sixteenth day, these explorers came to a series of ridges over
which they struggled for about six hours to find themselves at the
entrance of a deep gorge, leading between volcanic ranges. Then the
Professor said as he looked about him: "If there is gold anywheres,
boys, it should be hereabouts."

"Then let us camp," gasped the wanderers with one accord, for they were
dog-tired with the heavy ground they had gone over, and at the words,
swags were flung aside, and from the dried-up bushes that broke the
desolation round them, they began to make their fire.

As yet they had seen no sign of natives or white men, although they knew
that they could not be very far from the outskirts of that
far-stretching civilization as represented under the elastic title of
East Coolgardie, for they had kept in a direct line west-north-west from
where the schooner lay; therefore as the smoke from their fire floated
up into the afternoon atmosphere, they kept a vigilant watch for any
answering signals.

They had finished their supper, and were sitting listening attentively
to the Professor as he delivered a discourse on the causes of these
abrupt and riven cliffs that surrounded them, when suddenly Barney
started up with a loud cry and pointed down the gully.

There, plodding down wearily on horseback came the figure of a white
man, with dark hair and dust-covered, tangled beard, attended by several
black fellows.

He had been a considerable time out, judging by the tattered state of
his costume, yet both rider and horse seemed well enough nourished.

"Coo-ee," came the friendly call from the rider, to which they responded
and then waited on his approach. "I saw your smoke, boys, from my camp,
so thought I'd look you up."

"By the Lord, it's Jack Milton," shouted Barney, springing forward to
his old chief and gripping his hand.

"Barney--Professor--well, I am in luck--and so by Jingo, are you, for I
have just struck a rich lode in this gully--give me a pipe and a billy
of tea, for I've had nothing of the kind for the past month." Jack flung
himself from his horse, and pointing to the natives with him, said:

"Be good to these, boys, for they have been right chums to me, during
the past two months."



Chapter XXIV. Chester Takes a Month's Leave.

ROSA CHESTER could not possibly have fixed upon a better moment than she
did to come to Kalgourlie and establish a hotel like this, and before a
couple of weeks were over, she had proved that she possessed the
necessary qualities for the post.

Before her advent, men had been satisfied with paying long prices for
drink and food served up any way. Kalgourlie was yet in its embryo
stage, its lights at night being paraffin oil and candles, although the
Mayor, John Wilson, had just gone to London to arrange, with other
matters conducive to the township's future welfare, the lighting of it
by electricity.

Gas is an impossibility for the goldfields of Western Australia. They
must have the latest and the best in everything. At present Hessian huts
satisfy them, while they are arranging and waiting for the genius to
utilize their waste quartz crushings and make these into sculptured
domes and palaces. In olden times the mining owners employed geniuses to
cut out their marbles. The West Australian money maker pulverizes every
ounce of stone about him for the wealth it contains, leaving the future
artist the finest of crushed powder to make casts of and bring back
again to impervious stone. There are hundreds of thousands of tons out
there of this magnificent powder, blowing about and choking the
inhabitants at present, which will before long eclipse the marbles of
Italy for purity and the bronzes for endurance. A very simple process
will make it once more impervious quartz. The sculptor will cast
columns, friezes, and statues which Time cannot destroy. Great and cool
buildings, richly decorated, will rise out of this quartz dbris.
Streets will be paved with its enamel linings, watertanks coated with
it, while gardens and terraces eclipsing those of Babylon will rise out
of the sandy desert. West Australia has only commenced her career. She
is building up her proppings and bulwarks with gold, by-and-by they will
begin to decorate, for the men who are there like refinement and comfort
because they have matriculated in England and are not over-colonial. The
West Australian colonists are seldom seen on the goldfields. It is the
Rothschilds and other capitalist kings who rule the roost there.

Rosa went on the ordinary lines for the first few days, and found her
customers content enough to take what she gave them, so long as she made
no mistake about the quality of the drink. Then, having walked down
Hannan Street in the cool of the evening, and looked from the outside at
some of the Japanese refreshment shops, she held a consultation with her
husband, Jenkins and her importation, Sarah Hall. "We must alter all
this," she observed severely. "The boys know what they'd like, only they
can't express their wants. Red hot lemonade at these Japanese slums
isn't good enough for Europeans to indulge in long without surfeiting
them. I'll tell you what, now, I'm going to run this shop. We'll have
some good cooks imported. I can cook a little. Can you, Sarah?" "As well
as a woman is expected to do," replied Sarah, modestly.

"That's right. Japanese girls are interesting. Sir Edwin Arnold found
them so. We'll have Jap waitresses and a Jap chef. They can turn tinned
meat into anything. We'll import fruit and vegetables. Have ice made on
the premises, as well as aerated waters, and make this the flash hotel
of the West."

Anthony Jenkins was enthusiastic, for he had a Napoleonic mind, and when
Chester saw the results of the drawings, he also succumbed, and thought
that Rosa might with all safety launch out a little, therefore, that
indefatigable young woman began her operations, and in a couple of weeks
had expended a considerable portion of the money they had brought, but
she made the place a big success.

More bedrooms were added to the hotel, which was easy to do by
canvassing the rear verandah and raising up fresh frames round the yard,
for they had plenty of space to fall back upon. The kitchens were
enlarged and carried farther from the house. Refrigerating machines were
added to the condensers. Palms and other shady plants and shrubs
imported to make the hotel comfortable and luxurious as well as roomy,
and the public showed their appreciation of these efforts to please them
by coming often and staying long in this Hessian temple of Venus and
Bacchus.

The taste for display which prompted Rosa to long to make a "splash" in
Sydney, she was able to indulge in with profit at Kalgourlie, for
although gentlemen will swallow champagne whether it is warmed or iced,
they naturally prefer to have it cooled, also to quaff it from proper
glasses instead of pannikins, and to have the surroundings clean and
tastefully arranged. They enjoy their drink all the more if it is poured
out for them by pretty young women instead of parded ex-prize-fighters,
and the "Chester Hotel" was the one place in the district where all
these comforts could be had without extra charge.

A wide verandah stretched along the front, covered on the top by striped
awning, with Japanese blinds to pull up and down at desire. A line of
tubs filled with good-sized palms were ranged outside, with pots of
exotics inside to give it the look of a conservatory. Rosa had spent a
lot on these feminine adornments, for, like most colonial women, flowers
were a necessity of her existence. Lacquered tables, bamboo and canvas
deck-chairs, with other pretty nick-nacks, filled the interior of the
verandah, which, with the tasty hangings of bead-work and muslins,
offered so strong a contrast to the other houses of the kind. The other
portions of the hotel were furnished in the same tropical and artistic
style. Punkahs waved from the ceilings of the public room, while the
tables of the dining saloons were covered with the whitest of linen and
brightest of glasses and other adornments.

The servants, of course, were all Japanese, as it was nearly impossible
to get Europeans to serve as menials, and the Japs were strictly
prohibited from acting as miners, but Rosa had to own, in spite of her
colonial prejudices, that she could not have been better served than she
was by these deft, silent and obedient hirelings. The girls were pretty,
young, and adaptable, and the men industrious and unobtrusive; quick to
grasp her orders, and giving her no trouble or cause for complaint.

She was much happier, acting as the mistress and hostess in this
establishment, where she was flattered from morning till night by her
customers, than she could possibly have been presiding over a mansion at
Pott's Point and vainly trying to get inside the conservative rings of
Sydney society. Sarah Hall also pleased her immensely, for while helping
her mistress in every way, with her experience and quiet management, she
never attempted to rival Rosa with the men. They were all respectful to
the dark-eyed, black-haired manageress and fond of the sprightly little
maid Alice, but when they wanted a bit of flirtation, they sought out
the mistress.

Chester and Jenkins were up to their eyes in work, and coining money
hand over fist. Litigation was common in a community like this, where
gambling and speculation were the occupations of their lives, and bets
and bargains were constantly being disputed, and legal arbitrations were
required.

It is difficult for an Englishman who has not been on a new gold field,
to grasp the colossal profits which may be made in a day by lucky
speculation, although he may be able to comprehend the unwillingness to
part with thousands to the one who may have speculated only a few
shillings. The purchaser of twenty pounds' worth of possibilities will
naturally expect his hundred thousand when the result turns up trumps,
while the seller will as naturally hunt about for any loophole of escape
from his liabilities. In such cases the lawyer steps in, arranges a
compromise, and gets his own fat commission from both sides.

Jenkins brought customers of this kind constantly to his partner, and
from the office to the bar, the litigants proceeded with their advisers,
and over the flowing bowl settled the dispute to the satisfaction of all
parties. What mighty cheques were drawn up and signed at these lacquered
tables, while Rosa, in her cool, perfumed dress, went about smiling and
gracious; the sedate Sarah, sitting behind the counter filling the till
with sovereigns as the pretty Japs carried round the liquid and iced
gold. It may have been arid and dusty outside, where Afghans,
aboriginals, swampers, camels and horses lay about in the shadeless
rays, blackened over with flies, baked in dirt, and with the everlasting
thirst upon them all, but inside that verandah, shadow and comfort were
to be found for all who could afford to push aside the rustling
hangings.

The first outlay had been the strain, but Chester had brought sufficient
money with him to cover all that, and leave a fair surplus for current
expenses. This store he had no need afterwards to touch upon, for from
the first day of his arrival, he was able to add to it by his own
commissions and speculate also discreetly. He was not a plunger, like
Anthony, who had the true gambler spirit, yet both were remarkably
successful in all their speculations, therefore their business was a
stable one, and themselves highly-respected citizens of Kalgourlie, in
spite of all the chaffing of that anti-Sydneyite and mine-owner,
Wallace.

In about six weeks' time the Chesters were considered to be old hands in
this mushroom population, and knew all the residents, and all the ropes,
when an event happened which caused the solicitor to pack his valise and
apply to the Municipal Council for a month's leave of absence from his
public duties. He having been appointed to several vacant posts and
holding leases, required this public announcement of his intention and
permission, otherwise his rights would have been forfeited, and himself
possibly stopped from proceeding further than Albany on some charge of
debt.

The event that hurried him off at a moment's notice was a telegram which
he received from Sydney, informing him that a fire had taken place
there, and that his house was burnt to the ground.

He did not tell Rosa, although she guessed it from his concern, where he
had hidden the last plunder, but he felt devoured with anxiety to be on
the spot, therefore promptly wiring back to his agent to permit no one
to touch his property, he posted with all speed back towards his native
town.

Rosa was quite complacent about her husband's absence, not that he
interfered with her liberty in the slightest degree, but his constant
presence about the hotel made her friends shyer than they might be when
his back was turned. The boldest admirer is apt to feel awkward in his
attentions to a married lady, before even the most blind and complacent
of husbands. Now all such foolish restraints were removed with him, and
she could begin to have a high old time of it. Rosa liked admiration,
adored presents, and appreciated perfect liberty of action; if she got
these she did not mind letting Sarah Hall carry off the barren respect
of their customers. Mr. Chester drew a good sum of money from the
Kalgourlie bank before he left, and reached Adelaide with due
expedition. Here, however, he received a shock which forced him to
change his intention and destination.

It was an announcement in the papers of the discovery of stolen property
by the police at Sydney. With eager eyes and a heart filled with agony
and fear he read the full account as it was at that time known. And as
he read, he cursed his own stupidity in placing Jack's share of the
pawnbroker's jewellery beside the bullion and stamped gold, through
which the hoard had been identified. His house was mentioned as the
place where the plunder had been discovered, but no word showing that
they suspected him was as yet printed.

The wisest course and the one a bold man might have taken, would have
been to proceed openly to Sydney, and deny any knowledge of this plant.
It would not have been impossible to place the blame on the shoulders of
the missing housebreaker; at least, if he had courted investigation it
was possible to evade conviction.

For a moment he thought of doing this, then he remembered his fatal wire
ordering his agent to let no one disturb the burnt ruin; and as he
remembered this, he shuddered with horrified anticipation.

He had taken his ticket to Melbourne, and was just waiting on the train
leaving when he read this item of news. With a muttered curse he caught
up his valise, and leaving the station, took a cab and drove down to the
port.

In the offing lay two ocean liners, both ready to start; one represented
the Orient Company and the other the German Lloyd. The Orient steamer
would call at Albany for the mails, he knew, but this was the last
Australian port that the Prinz Luitpold would touch. In a few more
moments the second husband of Rosa was being rowed towards the German
mail steamer.



Chapter XXV. Jack Milton's Discovery.

JACK MILTON and his dusky friends camped that night with his old pals,
and it was a long story he had to relate of his wanderings.

Rapid and long journeys day by day from water-hole to water-hole; in
this, however, he had been more fortunate than most explorers, as the
blacks knew where these were to be found, with such food as Nature
furnishes for her desert children. Jack made a grimace as he recalled
some of those feasts after his own provisions had been exhausted.

"Sometimes we lived like fighting-cocks when wallaby was about, or when
we camped at water-pools where fish, fowl and other game were plentiful,
sometimes we came down to snake, lizard, grubs and such-like delicacies;
one thing I can tell you, mates, I seldom fell asleep fasting--and if
those F.R.G.S. coons had only the natives with them, there wouldn't have
been so many bungled expeditions across Australia. They go out with all
their scientific instruments and blunder along, treating the natives as
if they were fools, and never trying to make friends of them. They see
the fires ahead of them, and never guess that they are being treated as
Napoleon was when he crossed Russia, and that the people they've made
enemies of are starving them out, and hiding their camping places from
them.

"Any fool can cross Australia if the natives are his friends, as I have
just proved, but I guess it will be a feat if they happen to be turned
against him."

It had not been by any means an uninteresting journey, nor one devoid of
pleasure. Corroborees and love-making, hunting and fighting had filled
out their days and nights, all of which Jack had taken a share in. At
one time the marriageable young men had gone on a love raid, bringing
back wives and wounds from their expedition; at another time the
marriageable girls had been abducted from their own party, all taken as
matters of course by the parents on both sides, and expected by the
girls. Jack had qualified as a fighting-man when he knocked out those
couple of front teeth, which considerably altered his appearance.

The evening passed while he narrated his adventures, and told how
faithfully his friends had acted up to their promises and brought him
safely to his journey's end.

"Beroki here said he would show me a gold mine, and, by gum! he has done
it with a vengeance. I have looked on that to-day, which, when you see
it, boys, to-morrow, will make your mouths water. No more need for us to
break into any more banks. We can start one of our own now as soon as we
can secure miners' rights. I never saw such a wonder in my life." He was
glad that Australia had been too strong a fascination for them to leave,
and that they could keep this discovery in their own hands; also
delighted to hear that the vessel was on the coast to be a refuge in
case of discovery.

"There are only two of us need be afraid of arrest over that last job,
and those are the Professor there and myself. I saw all the papers about
it before I left New South Wales, and we are the only ones whose
descriptions they have and know anything about, therefore we must lie
low until my beard grows a bit longer and I can alter your appearance,
if it can be done with such an uncommon physiognomy as yours is."

"Well, Jack, I don't think there is anything peculiar about my face
outside its brainy expression," retorted the Professor.

"That's it, you know, Professor, we may shave your beard and cut your
hair, but it's the forehead that'll give you away."

"And the heyes, Jack. It's the heyes that reveals the man of
intelleck--yet there's nothink so much again me as I knows of."

"What, d'ye think Australians will ever get over those racing prophecies
of yours, Professor?"

"Ah, I knowed that business would ruin us, Jack," groaned Jeremiah
dolefully. "Never you mind how they may be thirsting for your blood,
Jerry. The place that I'll show you to-morrow is as safe as quad to hide
in."

"But my occupation and spear of usefulness as a Psychometrist is gone;
what can I do in a gold mine, I'd like to know, except tell you where
the lode is likely to travel?"

"That's what many a man calls a real good business in these parts and
likely to give you more popularity than fortune-telling by cards,"
replied Jack earnestly. "However, we'll keep your skill for our own
private use, and give you occupation enough, don't fret about that. You
reckon from what you've already seen of these ranges and this gully,
that gold ought to be found here."

"Yes," answered the Professor firmly. "It's all round us from where this
chain begins to where it ends, and I should say should be richer lower
down, only it ain't fossickin' ground, for the best of it lies deep, and
all you get on the surface won't hardly pay. That's my opinion, knowing
as I do how them rocks happen to be sticking out here among the sand
hills." "You are right, Professor. We'll want machinery--boring and
crushing, eh?" "Yes, and I'll tell you what you are likely to find arter
you get down far enough." "What?"

"A stratum of all sorts, through which that fused quartz was shoved,
leaving the bulk of ore behind it." "Then it would be best to tunnel the
range at its lowest depth?"

"Yes! I am of that opinion," answered the Professor modestly; he always
gave his opinion on geology with diffidence, although so blatant over
the card-lore and palm lines.

"Professor, you are a greater man than I ever gave you credit for. Every
word you utter is gospel, and what is more, the tunnelling has been done
for us." "Then you have jumped a discovered and worked mine?"

"Yes, but God only knows who or where the discoverers and workers were
and are. I should say, that Beroki there and his tribe, with their
ancestors, are the only human eyes that have looked upon it for the past
thousand years, until it was shown to me. Listen, boys, to a fairy
story, which you can prove for yourselves to-morrow. My friend, Beroki,
who has chummed with me for the past six weeks, brought me to this gully
this morning and took me into a cave or tunnel which I could never have
discovered myself, for the entrance is no wider than what a man can
squeeze into. Inside we went down at a pretty steep slant, until we came
to a part where a deep well had been dug. Who dug it, or how deep it is
neither Beroki nor anyone else can tell, but there it is, filled to the
brim with cool sweet water.

"Of course we had to make a light to see all this, but at this part,
where the well lies, is a pretty large chamber, with borings in all
directions, like passages spreading from it. Where they all take to I
don't know yet, but the one I went down brought me to just such a
stratum as you described, Professor. See! I picked up that specimen and
brought with me."

Jack took out of his shirt a piece of quartz so thickly impregnated with
gold, that the metal predominated over the stone. This was passed round
amidst cries of admiration.

"I saw lots more like it all round me, and as easy to pick out as plums
from a bit of Sunday duff. If the other tunnels show up like this did,
Mount Morgan isn't in it with this one. There isn't a Jack amongst us as
won't be Vanderbilts in no time, only we must have our miners' rights,
and the place pegged out without a day's delay. I could hardly tear
myself from it." "What made you leave it?"

"One of our watchers outside came in to tell us that there were white
fellows close at hand, therefore I hurried off to find out who you were,
and mighty pleased I was to drop upon you instead of strangers."

All were now in a passion of eagerness for the night to pass, for the
fury of gold was upon them. Seeing that sleep was out of the question,
they discussed how the business was to be managed, and it was finally
decided that the Captain and Barney would start as soon as possible with
the blacks to guide them and get to the nearest warden. There they were
to take out miners' and explorers' rights for the whole party, including
those left on the ship, purchase camels and stores, with tools, and
hurry back, while those left were to peg out the ground on each side of
the ancient tunnel, and erect a hut in front of it.

"We'll load the vessel before we spring our mine and make a rush; then
we can show our specimens and purchase the ground. Fortunately, we have
the rhino to pay our preliminary expenses."

At the first sign of approaching day they were up and following Jack and
the natives down the gully, fearful lest some other prospectors might
have already discovered their find, but all was as he had left it--a
solitude, and, as yet, their own.

At this point the bottom of the stream bed was reached, and the valley
branched round a lower range of hills. The punctured mountain rose above
those round it, the upper portion bare and gleaming quartz, and the base
clothed with dwarfed yet pretty close scrub.

Experienced prospectors would possibly have paused here and fossicked
about amongst the sands, as it was a likely place for gold to be found
in pockets, but with the bushes covering it and filling it up, it was
unlikely that they would have discerned the hole, which the natives used
for the water it contained, regardless of the other treasures.

Fortunately they had a fair supply of candles with them, therefore,
leaving the blacks to mount guard outside, and the horse with its
hobbles on to feed on what it could find, they crawled one after the
other, Jack leading the way, into the tunnel.

It was no chance aperture they could see, for it had been roughly cut by
the hands of some ancient miners through the solid rock, and was
therefore firm and dry, and as Jack had told them, slanted downwards at
a steep angle in irregular and rude shelves or steps.

To reach the chamber where the well was a considerable distance had to
be crawled, for it was impossible for any one to have gone down it in an
upright position, the roof not being more than four feet from the
ground, but once here they could all stand and look about them. They
were now more than fifty feet below the bed of the gully.

"By George, Jack, when rains do come to this district and the creek
rises, this hole will be swamped out unless there are some outlets to
drain it off," observed the Professor, as he looked round him.

"Yes, it would be rather a bad trap for a man to be caught in during a
flood, only there isn't much of that sort of thing in this part of the
colony."

The well was a large one, almost like a plunge-bath, and from the
blackness seemed to be fathomless, yet the water was good, fresh and
cold. It stood in the centre of the chamber or vault, with over six feet
of rock margin round it. The roof also was about fifteen feet above
their heads, while there were five passages pierced in the walls at
different angles, as if the unknown miners had gone several directions
in search of the gold. These passages all slanted downwards to lower
depths.

No markings on the sides gave them any clue as to what race of people
had done this engineering, although there were several native paintings
on the rocks, which had been executed by the tribes visiting this abode
of fresh water and mystery. It was an unornamented mine and nothing
more.

Jack led his companions with their lighted candles into the passage
which he had previously penetrated where, after going with stooping
heads for several hundred feet, they came to the vein he had spoken
about. Before they quitted the rock-cutting, however, the Professor
stopped at one point and cried:

"I say, boys, here is something that strikes me is a discovery, if we
could make it out."

He held his candle close to a portion of the quartz upon which some
marks had been cut.

Where the Professor had paused, they were still within twenty yards of
the termination of the quartz-reefs, so that the sides, floor and top
were composed of solid granite.

On a portion of this solid mass, the marks were engraved, deep, bold and
rugged. It was only by going a little way from them that their
connection could be seen, and then they looked thus:


The men, eager as they were to see the gold, stopped before this strange
device, if device it was, and regarded it with curious eyes.

"Well, Professor, what do you make that out to be?" enquired Jack, a
little sneeringly.

"Them's Howrografficks, that's what them are," replied the Professor
solemnly. "If you asks me what they mean I answers: 'Just wait till I
consults my sperrut guide,'but if you asks me who printed them on this
ere stone, I says: 'The lost tribes of Israel.'They is the boys as made
these 'ere cuttings, for why?--they always managed to find out and boss
the 'oof'business when they got a square show, the same as they do at
present."

"Bother the Sheenies now or in the past," replied Jack, passing his
candle carefully over the outer edge of this singular device. "I'll have
another examination of this part later on; meantime, come and have a
squint of the pretty show of ore that lies a few paces farther on."



Chapter XXVI. The Courtship of Bob Wallace.

LITTLE ALICE had been ailing for the past few days, and her illness
caused a terrible shade of anxiety to rest over the frequenters of the
hotel, with whom she was a general favourite.

When the doctor declared it to be a case of typhoid fever, twenty strong
men volunteered to nurse their infantine favourite back to health.

Her mother, however grateful for the proffered services of these honest
boys, with whom time meant literally gold, declined their offers and
determined to do the best she could herself.

Rosa wanted the child to be sent over to the hospital, but this
suggestion the mother would not listen to; where she was, her daughter
would have to be tolerated also, therefore if Mrs. Chester was
frightened about the infection, she was willing to leave.

Typhoid is a common complaint about the goldfields, as it has been in
Sydney of late years; most of the residents had either passed through
it, or lived in its proximity, so that they had come to regard it as
incidental to the climate, like the mosquitoes and the flies. The fact
therefore of a patient being in the hotel made no falling away in the
custom, no man believing nor caring about infection. They were sorry for
the sake of Sarah, as well as for the youngster, and drank their liquor
in a more subdued manner. "Mexican Joe" told newcomers gently about the
inevitable funeral that followed the pulling out of his "shooter."
Sailor Bill nursed his chin with his ringed hand, and looked moodily
into his glass, and the rest of the worthies tried to give as little
trouble as possible, yet they stuck to the bar and verandah with heroic
fidelity, and drank as deeply if more silently than before.

Bob Wallace, however, bustled in on the fourth night of the trouble, and
seeing that Sarah was looking pale and jaded, he told her that he had a
fortnight of idleness on his hands before going farther West, and as he
had nursed his mates without catching it, he reckoned himself
fever-proof, therefore, whether she liked his services or not, he was
going to look after little Alice.

Wallace was a favourite with Sarah, for although fond of yarning and
chaffing, he was one of the most respectful of the visitors, treating
her with a great deal more reverence than he did her coquettish
mistress. Indeed, the boys had come to regard it as a settled thing that
this lucky mine-owner was paying serious attentions to the handsome
barmaid, and intended to become a stepfather if he could. Sarah tried to
resist his determination, but was too fagged to hold out long;
therefore, that night he took her place at the bedside of the little
sufferer, while she got the sleep she so much required.

He was a good nurse, and as he had watched the different phases of this
disease before, he knew exactly what to do, which Sarah quickly saw. A
woman might have been more correct under the circumstances, for, as the
hotel was crowded with sleepers, Sarah was forced to take her rest in
the same apartment as the patient and this volunteer help, but the few
women who were at Kalgourlie had their own sick to look after, while it
would have been the last place to expect to see Rosa. Besides,
cosmopolitans who have travelled over the world of waters in ships, and
lived in canvas houses where only Hessian partitions separate them from
their neighbours, do not think so much about the conventionalities in
such trivial matters as do dwellers within brick-built walls.

Bob Wallace had watched Sarah quietly, but with great interest, since
her arrival in Kalgourlie, and felt that he could easily make a big
sacrifice to intrest her equally in him. Men had spoken freely enough
with and about Rosa Chester, but the circumspect conduct of the barmaid
had been the subject of only respectful admiration. He was a plain
fellow, was Bob, but he had the desire and ambition of his sex, to marry
a woman whom he could trust. Sarah to all appearances seemed to have
this quality, as well as the pleasing charms which attract a man. That
she was a woman of the world, with experience, was an additional
attraction in the estimation of the miner.

He had many opportunities after that first night, while both child and
mother slept so close to him, of thinking the matter out; and long
before little Alice was declared out of danger, he made up his mind to
try his luck as soon as possible, and offer his hand and fortune to the
first woman who had taught him to believe in her sex.

"There's grit in that girl," he said to himself, "and, by George, there
are few that can hold the candle to her for looks."

It is a dangerous thing for a man to be much with a woman, even if they
only meet during the day, whether she is ugly or handsome; but to be as
they were then placed, in a sick room, the chances pointed strongly
towards matrimony, if both parties were heart-whole and free before, or
misery to the one who was inclined that way if the other was not.

Now whether Sarah was satisfied with her first experiment, for some
women are constituted that way, or that her heart was buried with her
dead husband, or that she was too much used to men, Bob could not
determine. She was kind to him, and had grown wondrous free in this
close intimacy--too free, by a long way, for his newly-awakened
sentiments to glean much encouragement from, for it was the unconscious
freedom of a sister towards a brother, united with the grateful
tenderness of a doting mother towards the man who has aided her to push
back the grim tyrant, Death. The kind of tenderness and freedom which a
woman will display towards a self-sacrificing and devoted physician. He
knew that she trusted him utterly after the first night. That first
night she had been restless and watchful, only dropping asleep from
sheer fatigue by fits and starts, and waking up often. He had felt angry
at this suspicion, yet owned it was only natural on her part.

Since then, however, she had given him her confidence, and lay down on
the couch calmly to take her needed repose. She came to him with a loose
dressing-gown on, as she left her day costume in her mistress's room.
There he had her before him through the night as she reclined on that
couch only a few yards distant. Her heavy black tresses, loose and
falling to her knees in rippling waves when she stood beside him bending
over her child, lying like a dark cloud in all directions when she
slept.

He heard her low, regular breathing, for she was a quiet sleeper. He saw
her red lips part sometimes in a smile, and her white teeth gleam
between, as she tossed round towards him in that unconscious abandon,
then the longing came upon him almost beyond his strength to resist, to
take the kiss that those red lips seemed to ask.

Then, filled with shame and fear of himself, love made him do what he
had not done since he was a boy at his mother's knee, kneel down by the
side of the child, and, taking her hot, thin hand in his, say his
prayers with a passion and earnestness that so few threw into the words:
"Keep us from temptation and deliver us from evil."

The child did him good at such moments of agony. Half conscious as she
was and listless with the awful prostration of typhoid, the wan little
fingers pressed his, and sometimes the other hand was passed gently down
his face. The evil fled at the touch of those fevered fingers, and
manhood poured into his heart and made love revive.

Oh, yes. He loved her now as a man loves once in his life, if no more.
It may be that this kind of love comes more than once to a man, yet it
is doubtful, for the woman who is loved in this way seldom appreciates
it, and men get to learn the standard that women are content with.

He went in and out during the day, but none of the boys chaffed him
about his vigils, for they had an instinct that it was likely to be a
serious business, and they all liked Sarah too well to make a joke of
such a subject. They enquired after Alice gravely and wished him success
with their eyes, but they would have smashed the eyes of any bungler who
dared to make a joke of that sick nursing yet. When the time came for
Bob to announce his engagement, then he would run "amuck," meantime they
were not the kind to frost a young bud before it was far enough grown to
stand the blast. These diggers are wonderfully intuitive, if they are at
times rough and inclined to burn effigies when they cannot get at their
enemies with their boots. Champagne and whisky are not like absinthe in
their effects. They don't blunt the sensibilities.

Rosa also could afford to let Sarah have this man, who abhorred
Sydneyites so heartily. He wasn't a favourite of hers, that is, he had
never shown any desire for her society, and she had plenty to pick and
choose from, without him; therefore she could afford to be generous.

She had read the account of the discovery in Sydney, and as her husband
had never written, she guessed that he had shown the white feather and
absconded. She had been interviewed also by the police, and told them
she knew nothing about the business. If Chester knew anything they had
better find him, as she would like to know where he was, and so matters
stood at present. Meanwhile she was enjoying herself and making money,
therefore her mind was easy.

"If I don't hear from Arthur very soon, I'll apply for another divorce,
and get spliced again," she said to herself complacently, as she dressed
herself to go for a moonlight drive into the desert with the Hon. Billy.

Sarah Hall was very, very grateful to her friend, Bob Wallace. He was a
good-looking and an honourable, as well as a wealthy, man, and she
wasn't indifferent to that last fact either.

She was woman enough to see that she could do with him as she liked.
Alice was fond of him, as she had good cause to be, for without his help
and experience she would have lost her treasure. If she married him,
herself and her daughter would be placed beyond the buffets of fortune
for life. That was an inducement to tempt any fond mother. Did she like
him well enough to accept these blessings with him tacked on to them?
Yes. Leaving one man out of the question, whom she had lost for ever,
Bob Wallace was more, in her estimation, than any other man in the
world. She felt, if she took him, her fate ought to be happier than that
of most women who marry, for he had proved himself to be a good and a
true man. Alice would never want.

If he had not nursed her child and told her so much of his past, if he
had asked her over the bar before she knew him so well, she might have
said "Yes," but now----

With a shuddering moan she thrust the temptation from her. He was too
good a fellow to curse. She had only respect and gratitude to give--not
love, which makes a woman reasonless and remorseless. Alice was up and
about again, so Bob's occupation was gone as a sick nurse.

One afternoon he came with a buggy to give her a drive, and as the hour
was a slack one she got leave and went with him, knowing what that drive
meant.

They drove into the sandy waste and there under the twilight sky, Bob
asked her the momentous question, flinging a bit of eloquence into it
and introducing Alice as an inducement for her to say Yes, and become a
life partner in his profitable speculations. She felt that he was in
deadly earnest, and they were familiar almost as man and wife already.

"See here, Bob," she said after a pause, and an intense look at him out
of her dark eyes. "You have told me all your past life, and it's been an
honest one, but you know nothing about mine."

"I don't want to hear about your past so long as you are at liberty to
marry me and care for me enough to do so."

"Ah, I am a free woman as far as that goes, Bob," she replied, bitterly.
"And I like you well enough." "That's enough. Then we will reckon it as
settled.

"Not yet, my friend. Give me a night or two to think of it. I'll marry
no man unless he knows all about me first, and I cannot tell you that
story to-day. To-morrow, perhaps, I'll tell you it, and if you are
willing then to have me, I'll be your wife." "My darling!"

He put his arms round her waist and kissed her, while she didn't resist
the embrace. Then they silently returned to the hotel.

That night, as Sarah was waiting at the bar and Wallace was sitting on
the verandah with his friends, two visitors came, the captain and
Barney.

After securing their beds and ordering their supper, they went into the
bar for a drink. Sarah started as she saw Barney, but at a sign from him
she became calm as before. In a few minutes she managed to get him where
they could talk without being observed, then she said: "Do you know
anything about Jack?"

"Yes," replied Barney; "he is with me, a hundred miles from here, and
doing well." "Thank God. See, Barney, what do you think of that?"

She pointed to Alice, who was sitting in a pillowed chair at the farther
end of the bar. "Yours?" he asked laconically.

"Yes--and Jack's. Tell him when you see him that he has got a piccaninny
waiting for him at Kalgourlie."

Alas! for the hopes of Bob Wallace. He sits happily shouting champagne
for all and sundry, while Sarah flits about the bar with a bright
glitter in her eyes--but not for him.



Chapter XXVII. The Meeting of Jack and Rosa.

AS might be supposed, the captain and Barney did not waste any time at
Kalgourlie after they had secured their own miners' rights with those of
their comrades by proxy. The more rights they had, the more ground they
would be able to prospect and purchase. The quicker also they were on
the ground, the better for the security of their property.

They hired twenty camels with their Afghan drivers meantime, as a
preliminary piece of business; and as they had ready money to pay for
what they ordered, they were treated with corresponding complaisance and
respect--for ready cash is always the visible sign of a man's
respectability and worth in the eyes of people who have wares to sell,
no matter how much poverty-stricken and debt-laden Robert Burns
declaimed against it! "The man is not a man for a' that," unless he
possesses the gold, stamped or otherwise. In fact, he becomes a very
poor and abject tool without it when his creditors begin the
hunting-down game, and his butcher, grocer, baker and milkman refuse to
let him have any more credit. The fine and poetic sentiment of being "a
man for a' that," may be sung over the drink his friend treats him to,
but it is difficult to feel it while he has to borrow.

Independence would be a very noble kind of feeling if it could only be
carried out, but alas! for poor humanity, it is utterly impossible to
keep it up and live. Burns was far from it all his life, although he
wrote so much about it; and as he was, so are we all, abject slaves to
circumstances. Man is a borrower from the hour he first indulges in the
luxury of living; the very air he breathes being an obligation which he
accepts from his Creator. He has only two courses left open to him from
his birth to his death. To be a debtor or to be a robber, in spite of
all his protests and foolish pride. Which is the most degrading and
unmanly is beyond me to decide. I only know that the possession of money
is the nearest approach to that condition which all men court and
respect.

Barney and the captain, flashing their stolen sovereigns, commanded the
position, and when they set out with their caravan, they were sent off
with a hearty God-speed, and their return looked for with eager
expectation.

Meantime, while they had been absent, Jack Milton and the others settled
down in the gully. They raised a branch-and-leaf hut in front of the
mine entrance, which completely covered and protected that secret. They
also pegged out the ground and broke the surface in several different
places, under the Professor's instructions, to serve as blinds to
inquisitive people, keeping the half-dozen natives with them as outposts
to warn them of the approach of any strangers. The main body of the
tribe had stopped a couple of hundred miles to the east, and only Jack's
friend, the son of the chief, with a few of the adventurous young men,
had accompanied him so far.

After building the hut and storing their provisions, Jack Milton and the
Professor explored the mine, while waiting on the return of their
emissaries, and found enough there to comfort them after all their
privations.

The other passages had been merely experimental borings, and not carried
to any great extent, yet in each of these were indications of
interbedded lodes and cross veins, which in some places were
particularly promising. The original miners, whoever they were,
evidently must not have had crushing appliances, and therefore looked
for "off-shoots," "blows," and "alluvial deposits."

The first passage which they had discovered was where the original
miners had found what they could extract easily from the decomposition
of the rocks and the mixing of clay, which permitted them to extract the
ore almost purely and easily. They had reached a "show" of extraordinary
richness, and had contented themselves with working that at the time
they were interrupted or left off.

That this lode had only as yet been broached was clear to the Professor
after a careful investigation.

"I tell ye what, mates," he exclaimed joyfully. "Them lost tribes left
off afore they got to the best part of their discovery. They only got
the thin end of the wedge so far, the heavy part lies below. I reckon
we'll get enough out of this dip to make us all dooks if we want to, and
leave plenty in the mountain to float the biggest mine in the West
arterwards. Lor'! this rock is saturated with it; meanwhile our game is
to make what we can out of the gravel gold fust."

Jack knew he could trust the Professor's geological knowledge, and
indeed, soon picked out sufficient specimens to satisfy his mind that
they need go prospecting no farther, but on the second day he made a
discovery which nearly sent every member off his head.

That portion of the wall where the lettering was engraved fascinated him
so greatly that he devoted most of his attention to it, with the result
that on this second day he saw what appeared like a cut division in one
portion of it. That was quite enough to set this professional
safe-opener's sharp wits at work.

"I'm going to try a little gunpowder blasting here, Professor. Are the
walls safe to stand a mild charge?"

"Yes," replied the Professor, "they'll stand all the powder you have in
the camp without shaking the tunnel."

"All right, we'll do it at once then, for I'm mighty mistaken if this
ain't a door which a little powder will open for us." Together they set
to work and soon bored a hole between the crack at the bottom, then
charging it, they made a running train to the chamber outside, and
lighted it. In less than a minute the explosion occurred, and the
sulphur smoke came pouring out towards them.

As soon as the atmosphere was cleared they went forward with their
lighted candles, and saw that Jack had been correct in his surmise. The
rock on which the hieroglyphics, or writing, had been, was broken and
lying in the passage on a mound of dbris, while beyond lay a dark
cutting.

With eager steps Jack plunged into the cavity, holding his candle in
front of him, the Professor following as quickly as he could after the
young man. "What do you think of that, Professor Mortikali?"

"By golly!" gasped the Psychometrist, as he gazed round with starting
eyes. "The store-house of the lost tribes."

Yes, whatever ancient adventurers had been here, and whatever treasure
they had taken away, they had locked up sufficient in this cutting to
reward handsomely those coming after. There the gold reposed on the
quartz floor, as it had been picked and packed ready for transportation.
Pure nuggets of all sizes from a few grains up to pounds in weight;
lumps of quartz and hornblende veined like black and gold marble, with
the dim tinted ore clinging to each piece in delicious filigree
tracings. There were camel loads of it, all selected and arranged ready
for the packing.

"Hoorah!" cried the Professor. "We don't need even to dig this yere
mine. The lost tribes have saved us the trouble."

"Good chaps, these lost tribes were," responded Jack. "But why didn't
they come back for it, I wonder?"

"They was too greedy and kept it all to themselves. I guess they got
wrecked with the first shipload they took from here, and so the news
never got back to their own country. It's a legacy of the past, that's
what it is."

They troubled no more about the digging out for the time, but carried
the nuggets and quartz-lumps to the hut, packing them up carefully and
placing them ready to be forwarded to the ship. This occupied them till
the arrival of the captain, Barney and the camels.

A fortnight passed and the caravan was sent off loaded to the schooner.
Jack went with the load and saw it shipped carefully, while Barney went
once more to Kalgourlie, and took out purchase rights for the company.

They were rich already, and could afford now to be generous with their
information, therefore, having secured the full rights of the mountain,
they took in specimens to the warden, calling their mine "The Lock Up,"
after that ready find, and the range Mount Berrima, after a place of
seclusion which some of them had tender recollections of. Australia is
mostly named in a sentimental fashion of this kind: Mount Hopeless, Cape
Desolation, Fly-blown Flats, Gallows Gully, Cold Water Creek, Starvation
Scrubbs, etc., etc. The time is yet to come when they will fix upon
euphonious, or at least, less significant, and more taking titles.

There was such a mad rush to the district of Mount Berrima as had never
been to its original namesake, and Jack Milton, or, as he now called
himself, John Milroy, as the recognised head of the concern, was now
regarded as a man to be courted.

His beard was long enough to serve as a disguise, while the Professor,
with a clean shave, a false set of teeth, close-clipped hair, and blue
glasses, felt that even his own wife might well have passed him by. Jack
then determined to pay a visit to Kalgourlie, and arrange matters for
his gang.

He had received splendid offers for shares; already a host of men were
working the lodes. Capitalists were haunting him. The caravans were
constantly travelling between Kalgourlie and Berrima; therefore, one
day, he mounted a camel and rode into the mining centre.

All went well; he arranged his programme, saw the chief men of the
place, and according to the custom of the place, put up at the "Chester
Hotel."

Barney had told him about Sarah Hall and her child, yet knowing nothing
about Rosa, it was not to be expected that Jack would associate her with
the hotel. It was therefore a shock to him when they came face to face,
and he knew that his land-lady was his divorced wife.

Rosa recognised him the moment she saw him, for although a mother may
forget her child, he was too big a man now for his wife who had so
lately divorced him, to pass him by.

Sarah, at the moment he called at the hotel, was off duty, so that he
didn't see her, but Rosa, who was in the bar, looked up with a gasp as
he ordered his drink, then a glance passed between them, and that was
all. "You are Mr. Milroy, I believe?" she said, as soon as she recovered
herself. "Yes," replied Jack quietly, "and you are Mrs. Chester!" "The
same--come, let me show you your room."

There were a number of people in the bar at the time, and Jack, after
finishing his liquor, followed the hostess inside. She did not take him
to his own room, but led him towards hers, and when she got him inside,
she shut the door, and then turned towards him with the one word:
"Jack!" "Yes, Rosa, I've turned up, you see." "I'm glad of it, Jack. We
are friends, I hope." "I trust so, Rosa--you have me in your power, as I
have you!" He spoke easily, yet he did not feel so confident, knowing
her as he did.

Rosa looked at him with pathetic eyes in which she had thrown her old
dove-like witchery.

Chester was gone--she hadn't heard from him since he left, and there was
no man so much talked about as John Milroy at present on the diggings.
Why shouldn't she win him back and have him again as her slave, the
richest man about the Coolgardie district? The room where they were was
only a small one but it was well furnished.

The bed was tastefully arranged, and Rosa sat now upon it, as a couch,
while Jack stood a little way from her. It was only a few months ago
since they had shared one room, surely her task was an easy
one--charming woman as she was.

"Don't speak that way, Jack. If you knew how I have regretted my
foolishness in the past, you would forgive me. I did not think. I was
tempted, but you were my first love, Jack, and I would have died had any
ill befallen you."

"I daresay, Rosa--only since then there has happened a good deal. You
have got a divorce and married again. That makes a difference, doesn't
it?"

"I don't know--there is no difference in me. I am the same as I ever
was, where you are concerned."



Chapter XXVIII. Jack Milton at Kalgourlie.

JACK MILTON stood looking at his former wife with a good deal of
admiration blent with a little amusement. She was very charmingly
dressed, very pretty and innocent-looking with that contrite expression
on her soft, cream-tinted features, as if she had been a child who was
full of sorrow for having broken her doll or dirtied her pinafore.

"What an opinion she must have of me and my love, if she thinks she can
wheedle round me after what has passed," he mentally said, while he
quietly stroked his beard with his strong brown hand.

He glanced round the room where they were, and saw more than the usual
number of skirts hanging about, with the linings outside. An everyday
suit of the absent Chester also dangled from a peg, while on the
dressing-tables lay in trays a profusion of bangles, rings, and other
costly nick-nacks, presents, most of them, from her admiring friends.

"Eh, is it quite safe for us to speak here, Rosa, with those Hessian
walls? They are a little more revealing than even weather boards, don't
you think?"

"Oh, that's all right," replied Rosa. "There is no one about the
bedrooms this time of day. My servants are all Japs, with the exception
of my manageress, Mrs. Hall, and she has gone for a drive with her
little girl, and her spoony man, Bob Wallace." "Ah! but the customers in
the bar, what of them?"

"Oh, they can cultivate a thirst till I get back, or help themselves;
they are all honest boys at Kalgourlie, who don't go in for bilking
landladies. They fly at higher game. Won't you sit down, Jack?"

Jack glanced round the apartment again, but the two bamboo chairs were
at present filled with feminine articles of attire. Then Rosa, following
his glance, laughed lightly as she said:

"Here, I mean, beside me; there is no room on the chairs, but there is
lots here, if you ain't frightened to sit beside your wife." "That was,"
murmured Jack under his hand, then he replied gently:

"No. I'm used to standing; besides, I just remember some business I have
to look after with the warden, before office hours are over, so I'll
stand for the few moments I can stay, if you don't mind, Rosa."

"As you please," answered Rosa, with a pout and a shrug of her pretty
shoulders, then instantly recalling her rle of penitence, she continued
sadly:

"I did badly by you, Jack, in Sydney, but you ought not to have left a
young girl so long alone." "No, that was wrong of me," murmured Jack
reflectively.

"I know since, that it wasn't entirely your fault, Jack, since you were
locked up and couldn't get to me." "Well, perhaps that might be some
excuse, Rosa."

"I didn't know it at the time though, dear, and Chester, my cousin, whom
you trusted instead of me, was always about me putting bad ideas
concerning you into my head." "Ah!"

"Yes, I never liked him, Jack, as I loved you, and--and as I'm afraid I
do still, more's the pity for poor me, if you won't forgive me and be
friends."

"Oh, I forgive you, Rosa, more than I can forgive myself, and am willing
to be friends with you, therefore say no more about it." "But can you
trust me ever again, dear?"

Jack flashed only one look at her, then he fixed his eyes on the wall
opposite and smiled.

"Yes, Rosa, since you have seen your mistake, I think I can trust you
again; besides, I'm going to make over some shares to you in my mine as
a sign of our mutual good faith." "Oh, my darling Jack, how real good of
you."

She sprang from the couch with girlish vivacity, and made as if she
would have flung her arms about his neck, only that he stepped back a
few paces, smiling still and saying softly:

"Wait, Rosa, with your thanks until I can give you those shares. I have
only just floated the mine, or rather accepted terms from the agents of
a London syndicate. It has all to be arranged yet and--it's on that
business that I have to see the warden to-day." "But surely, Jack, you
are not going to refuse a kiss from your own loving wife?"

"Hush, Rosa! Judge Jeffreys finished all that between us, you know. Let
us be good and faithful friends, if you like, only remember that your
kisses now belong to--Chester."

"Oh, bother Judge Jeffreys and Chester also. I have chucked him now,"
cried Rosa impatiently.

"I read about his plant being discovered by the Sydney police, therefore
I guessed he would clear out, but I suppose he hasn't left you in the
lurch, eh?"

"No," answered Rosa vindictively. "The craven skunk has skedaddled, I
suppose. But I've got the hotel in my own name and am doing well enough.
It isn't that, Jack." "If you need any money at any time, Rosa, you know
where to come to for it. While my secret is kept, I'll always be able to
help you."

"Thank you, Jack; and is that all you have to say to me?" asked Rosa,
fixing her blue eyes on him with a slight flush rising on her creamy
cheeks.

"Anything else you want, Rosa, and I can give you--I'll only be too
pleased to serve you," stammered Jack, looking uneasily towards the
closed door. "Look here, Jack Milton----" "Milroy, my dear Rosa,"
corrected Jack gently.

"Well, Milroy if you like. I've done wrong and I've confessed my fault
and been forgiven, as you say." "And mean, Rosa."

"All right. We were both brought up in the Catholic Church and married
from it, and you know there are no divorces there. My divorce and
marriage with Chester do not count with our faith. I am still your wife
in the eyes of our Church, and nothing can alter that."

"Perhaps not, Rosa, in the eyes of the Church; yet I fear we are both
pretty bad Catholics."

"I've repented, Jack, and been forgiven by you. I can get another
divorce easily from Chester, and we can be married again legally under
your new name and no one be the wiser." Jack looked at her, trying hard
to conceal his disgust, then he said lightly:

"Oh, dash it, Rosa! we've had enough of marriages--let us be real good
friends for the rest of our lives."

"But I love you, Jack. I have loved you all along, though I forgot
myself at one time. Take me back again, and I'll be a good faithful wife
to you."

Jack looked at the trinkets on the dressing-table and laughed silently
while he muttered to himself bitterly: "Faithful? what a fool she still
takes me to be." But he felt that he must temporize.

"I must go now, Rosa, or I shall miss the warden. Let us discuss this
matter next time I see you." "Very well, only you must show that you
have forgiven me by kissing, as husbands and wives, and good children
do, when they have made up their quarrels."

She spoke jestingly, and raised her face while Jack stooped over her and
brushed her lips-with his moustache. Then she caught him round the neck,
and holding him firmly she whispered:

"Oh, Jack, Jack! why was I such a foolish girl when all my heart was
yours? Oh, cruel Jack, to leave your Rosa that way." Jack during this
pretty speech had separated her arms from his neck and pushed her gently
from him, so that she sank, as if overcome with grief, on to the couch,
while he made towards the door hurriedly, looking at his watch as he
ran. "By Jove! just time to catch the warden. I'll see you by-and-bye,
Rosa. Ta-ta!" Rosa sat for a moment listening to the retreating steps,
then she sprang viciously to her feet, and darting to the mirror, looked
for a full moment at her own reflection.

"Has he got another since he left me?" she cried to her own reflection.
"By Jingo! if I thought so, I'd give the square tip to the police. What
are a few shares or a gift now and again when I ought to have the bang
lot? Ah, Jack, I'll have another try to win you; and if you repulse me,
then I'll fix you to a worse fate than taking me, you bet."

That lucky mine-owner, Jack Milroy, just reached the hotel front as
Sarah Hall returned from her afternoon drive, and as Mr. Bob Wallace was
engaged at the moment with the horse, it became Jack's pleasing duty to
help the mother and child to the ground. There was nothing uncommon
about this, as he chanced to be the only gentleman near at hand, but it
gave both Sarah and him the opportunity of looking at each other and
exchanging a whisper free from observation.

"Yours, Jack," she whispered as she gave him Alice to hold, while she
arranged herself before descending.

A thrill passed over him as he received and set Alice upon the ground,
then he turned to her mother. "I must see you, Jack, to-night." "All
right, I'll be outside here at nine o'clock."

They looked at one another, these pair who had not met for nearly four
years, and although their eyes spoke volumes, no one could have said
they were more than two strangers looking with interest on each other.

"Let me introduce you, Mr. Milroy, to my friend Mrs. Hall," said the
jovial Bob Wallace, who had now given his horse to the charge of a
stable-boy. Jack lifted his hat and the pair shook hands. "You are
staying at the 'Chester,'I suppose, Milroy?" asked Wallace.

"Well--I'm going to have dinner here, but I must be off again after it.
Are you dining here?" "Yes, of course." "All right, I'll see you then."
With another hand-shake Jack left them and hurried along Hannan Street.

He had meant to have stayed a few days at Kalgourlie, before he met
Rosa, as, since Barney told him about Sarah and Alice, he had thought a
good deal about them both, about the grit and fondness of the mother
while they were together in Melbourne, about his responsibilities
respecting the child which he had burdened her with.

They had both in the old days come together as confederates in
dishonesty--in fact, Sarah originally was his teacher in crime, and she
always had loved him better than he had done her then. They had parted
as criminals as well as honest people must part sometimes, however fond.
The cause of that parting was the incarceration of Sarah, while Jack
sought pastures fresh in Sydney. Here he had seen Rosa and forgotten his
old and faithful pal--for a time.

Respectability in petticoats had betrayed him, while Dishonesty had been
true all these years, for he had enquired a little about her from those
who visited the mines, and some knew her both in Perth and Kalgourlie.
He was known in Melbourne as Jack Hall, for gentlemen of his profession
have as many names as royalty, and so he heard of her still wearing that
alias, which struck him as a compliment in itself. No man had a word to
say against her, not a scandal was attached to her name.

The men who praised the virtues of Sarah, spoke likewise about her
mistress in a way that men will speak about those ladies whom they do
not honour, yet condescend to admire at times. Why Jack did not connect
her with his former wife was, he had no idea that she had even left
Sydney until he saw her. Chester is not an uncommon name in the
colonies, any more than Plantagenet and Montmorency are.

Sarah also had no idea that her giddy mistress had been the wife of
Jack. That was, as yet, a misery spared to her.

He passed along Hannan Street thinking of his past false wife, and
faithful past mistress.

Had he wedded Sarah she would never have played him that trick, for they
were pals as well as lovers, and the school that Sarah belonged to
counted treachery towards friends as the unpardonable sin.

What a vile beast Rosa was, he thought, and what a lot of wiping he
would have to do with his lips before he could let them rest on Sarah's,
after that hypocritical and politic embrace.

"I'll give her the whole yarn to-night before I go back to Berrima" (he
meant Sarah, the ex-pick-pocket, not the woman that Judge Jeffreys wept
his maudlin tears over, before he granted her the divorce). "If she will
have me after that, I'll splice her right away, and take her and the kid
over to America, where we'll be safe. If she prefers Wallace, I'll make
little Alice comfortable for life, for hang me if I'm worthy of her."

It was a proper and wholesome condition of humility for this
millionaire, for after all, he wasn't worth such a woman as Sarah; few
men are worth the love of a woman who can lift herself out of the mire
with all the dead weights that society puts upon her. It is easy for a
cold-blooded woman to keep respectable, but oh, how hard for a woman who
has given her all and tasted life to sit down once again to the distaff.

Jack had found no difficulty in disposing of the mine, and all that was
settled before his present visit. Each of the original owners could now
retire when and where they liked, and live like princes on the purchase
money. The mine was now being worked only to keep the property until
valuable plant was transported from England, and what Jack had come to
Kalgourlie for was to get stores for the gold-loaded schooner, as yet
unknown to anyone outside the discoverers of the mine.

These stores he had already ordered and forwarded. His own camels and
Afghan attendant now waited for him at another house of call, so that he
could go at any hour.

He went to the warden first and took out permits of absence for himself
and his partners for six months. It was only natural that having made
their "piles," they should want to rush off from the sands, condensed
water, tinned meats and willywillies of the desert. No man wants to stay
an hour longer in that Sahara than he can help. The warden gave him the
permits, and wished them all a merry time in the clubs of London and the
lively cafs of Paris.

Jack next went to his Afghan driver and gave him his directions about
starting that night at ten o'clock, and the Indian promised to have all
things ready.

He was now finished with business, so he went back to the hotel and had
dinner and a few convivial drinks with the many acquaintances he met
there.

He managed to keep Rosa at bay during the evening, for as she expected
him to stay all night, she did not trouble herself so much about him in
the earlier portion.

At nine o'clock, while sitting on the verandah, he saw Sarah leave the
bar and Mrs. Chester take her place; then he got up, and making an
excuse to his new friends he also passed out into the night.

He made his full confession to Sarah, of all his sins against her, and
woman-like she forgave him after a little cry on his breast. Women, when
they love, are always forgiving angels. Yet she said some hard things
about Rosa, vowing that she would leave her at once. Of course she would
marry him and go to the world's end with him if he liked. The devotion
of Bob Wallace was not thought of. "When can you come?" asked Jack, when
they had arranged these matters.

"As soon as she can let me go. She'll want another barmaid up from
Perth. I must wait till then, I suppose. She'll think I'm going to marry
poor Wallace." She had also told him all about Bob Wallace, and how she
had put him off.

"I'll see him to-night, Jack, and tell him as much as I dare about us.
He is a good man and will see the rights of it. He saved the life of
Alice--poor Bob." They were both so much engrossed with each other that
they did not see the dark figure that had followed them to the rear of
the hotel and heard all their plans. They passed that crouching figure
on their way back, yet Rosa had time to get into the bar before Sarah
said good-night to Jack.

"I'll send you word before I come, Jack, and will keep my eyes open
meanwhile," said Sarah, as she bade good-night to her lover, and saw him
stride away to join his Afghan.

That night Sarah Hall told her story to Bob Wallace under the moonlight,
after the bar was closed, and broke his honest heart--at least, as much
as a man's heart can be broken nowadays. He didn't do anything selfish
or extravagant. He only said she was an honest girl, promised her his
aid if she wanted it, went into his bedroom and finished a bottle of
brandy that he had there. That is how men behave now when their hearts
are broken.

Rosa had a bottle of champagne sent up to her room, and drank that off
to her own cheek, then she lay down and went to sleep, vowing to herself
that she would do some real business in the morning.



Chapter XXIX. "Where the Weary Cease to Trouble and the Wicked are at Rest."

IT was late the night following when Inspector Wilmore drove into
Kalgourlie from Coolgardie, and put up at the "Chester Hotel."

A quiet and amiable man of about forty-six was Inspector Wilmore, with
sallow skin, clear, grey eyes, and close-cropped, dark brown beard. He
was well known over the gold fields, as he often came on the search
after missing sheep. He was temperate and methodical in his habits, yet
could be capital company when he liked.

Rosa had retired when he arrived, therefore Sarah did the honours, and
saw the chef about his supper, then she returned to have a chat with her
old friend while his supper was being prepared.

Wilmore had been here several times since the "Chester Hotel" opened, so
that Sarah, although slightly uneasy at his presence so soon after the
visit of Jack, did not attach too much personal importance to it.
Wilmore was generally pretty communicative with her, as he believed in
her cleverness and discretion, while he honoured the unflinching stand
she had made during the past three years. He knew her, as only Bob
Wallace now did in this place, and he had shown himself a good friend
before now.

"Well, Mr. Wilmore, and what has brought you up this time?" Sarah asked,
as she gave him his sherry and bitters.

Inspector Wilmore looked through his glass at the lamp for a moment, and
then he suddenly turned his eyes on her and gave her a searching glance.
Sarah in an instant was on the alert, and knew that she was being
read--and warned by her friend with that look. Folding her hands over
each other on the counter, she met his glance steadily, and waited
quietly on his coming words, her heart standing still and all her
faculties attentive.

They were both subtle students of human nature, and were reading one
another in that mutual swift glance. What he read made him resolve on a
sacrifice, the hardest to a conscientious criminal-hunter. What she read
filled her heart with gratitude and terror. At that moment she could
have laid down her life for Inspector Wilmore. "How is Alice?" he asked
after a pause. "Much better, thank you," replied Sarah with shining
eyes. "Past all danger of a relapse, I suppose?" "Oh, yes; she has been
out several times." "I'm glad to hear it." This was said heartily, then,
with a slight shrug of his shoulders, he continued his queries, which
were to her as plain as directions. "Mrs. Chester, I suppose, has gone
to bed?" "Yes."

"Good. She believes in having her beauty-sleep, the giddy girl. Good
sherry this, I think. I'll have another glass, but without the bitters."

As he was sipping his second supply he said indifferently: "You were
asking what brought me up here, friend Sarah. Nothing that I expect to
make much kudos or coin out of. A red herring trailed over an old scent
I guess it will turn out to be. An affair that happened in Sydney some
months ago, which will give me a long ride to-morrow for nothing, so I
reckon it will be with me as it was with the Duke of York, I'll have my
ride there and back again. No news yet about Mr. Chester, is there?"

"None," replied Sarah huskily, as she clutched at the counter to keep
herself from falling.

"Try a glass of this same sherry, Sarah; you look tired-out, poor girl.
I reckon you've been nursing and working too hard lately," said Wilmore
kindly.

"Thank you, Mr. Wilmore," answered the barmaid gratefully, accepting his
suggestion and pouring out some wine from the decanter into a small
glass. Her hand trembled as she poured out the liquor, and a good deal
of the contents were spilt as she raised the glass to her dry lips, but
she set it down steadily enough. The wine had done her good. "Your
supper is ready now, Mr. Wilmore."

"And I am ready for it, and for my bed as well. Order me a good staying
dromedary for ten o'clock to-morrow morning. I won't start before that
hour, as I need a proper sleep to-night. I'll have a bottle of that same
sherry with me. Nothing could better that tipple for a long journey. By
Jove, there is the moon rising, and making Kalgourlie look almost
pretty. Good night, old pal, and take care of little Alice." "Good
night, Mr. Wilmore."

She put out her white slim hand and grasped his closely, then she turned
to another customer, who happened to be Bob Wallace, while Wilmore went
into the dining room. "You want me, Sarah?" asked Wallace in a low
voice, as he bent over the counter.

"Yes, Bob," she answered in a hurried whisper. "I must go to-night and
take Alice with me. Wilmore has given me ten hours' start of him. Can
you lend me your swiftest camel?"

"Yes. I'll go and get all ready now, and wait for you outside the town.
Give me a bottle of brandy and some wine." "I'll bring them with me, and
join you in an hour's time." Bob Wallace drank his champagne slowly,
then, lighting a fresh cigar, he strolled leisurely outside to the
moonlight, where the camels, dromedaries, and Afghan drivers were lying,
and making the township look picturesque. The canvas tents and Hessian
huts gleamed pale under the silver lustre and cast brown, deep shadows
over the sands. Paraffin lamps and coloured lanterns burned richly
inside the open Japanese shanties, where sights and sounds of debauchery
helped the picturesqueness, and blent with the doleful shrieking of the
desert-ships. Ghostly gum trees started from the waste, with the
skeletons of the mine scaffolding, making altogether a weird and
foreign-looking picture.

Bob Wallace knew where to find his own camels and drivers, therefore he
steered towards that quarter, and gave his orders; then, while the
drivers were getting ready for the approaching journey, Bob went to the
store and purchased the needful provisions.

Sarah meanwhile saw Wilmore safely to his room, and looked after the
closing of the hotel, then, when all these duties were over, she went to
her own room and got herself and her child ready.

At last all was quiet inside the hotel, although the street outside was
by no means silent, nor would it be all through the night. Wrapped up,
however, warmly, for the night was chilly, she led her little girl from
the side door, and with hasty steps passed out of the town to the point
where her friend, Bob, waited for her with his three most valuable
animals and most discreet of drivers.

Onward through the night they travelled at full speed, Sarah and her
child on one beast, Bob on another, and the driver in advance with the
provisions.

They went in line--Bob's dromedary bringing up the rear, so that there
was not much opportunity for conversation, except at such places as they
stopped to rest. Even then they did not converse much, for Sarah's heart
was too full of gratitude and sorrow for her companion, and his too
doleful, for words. Alice slept most of the way, wrapped up in warm
rugs, and lulled by the cradle-like motion of these shambling, but
soft-footed, enduring and swift animals, who have found a home in the
western wilds of Australia, and made it a possible land to journey over.

Bob Wallace was only an ordinary type of the gold-finding element. A
cynical story-teller and hard imbiber of spirituous fluids. Ready to
plunge into a swimming time of it in London or Paris. Keen as a vulture
where speculation or adventure were concerned. Sceptical on religious
questions, and dubious concerning questions of morality, virtue or
humanity at large. He had made his pile, therefore was placed beyond the
necessity of plundering, yet he had no serious scruple about shaking
hands, drinking, or dining with a plunderer, whether he was on the Stock
Exchange, in Parliament, or only carrying on a small game on his own
private account. In fact, he was not unlike the Great Social Reformer in
his ideas of associating with publicans and sinners.

He enjoyed champagne, three-star brandy, special whisky and mineral
waters. He likewise preferred a dinner at the "Savoy," or the "Maison
Dore," to tinned meat, for his digestive organs were still in good
order, and he was able to sleep calmly through the night, after a heavy
club evening, without waking up at four o'clock in the morning and
thinking of his sins. He could also rise and enjoy a good breakfast
without a preliminary vomit, no matter what the night before had been,
and Remorse, as yet, did not peck, raven-like, at his liver. In fact, as
yet, "Carter's Little Liver Pills" possessed no attraction for him,
while saline draughts were not to be compared to a whisky and soda.

But, while enjoying all these gifts of our beneficent civilization, he
could take to condensed water and tinned meats without much regret. He
wasn't a man to whine over misfortune or hard lines any more than did
the other adventurers of his class, nor did the possession of gold wake
up any particular humanitarian, philanthropic or moral responsibilities.
If a chum needed a five-pound note or a hundred, he shelled them out. If
any unfortunate beggars appealed to him, whether male or female, he
didn't stop to investigate their merits or virtues. He chucked them the
shilling or the sovereign without saying afterwards, "What a good fellow
am I."

In fact, Bob Wallace was a very ordinary sort of man of the Californian
or Westralian type of diggers, who was as ready to assist a thief or a
demi-rep if he was interested in them, as he was to help one of the
unfortunate redeemed. Readier perhaps, as he didn't believe in parsons
or their ways.

He didn't consider he was doing anything noble, self-sacrificing, or
virtuous in helping Sarah to meet her housebreaker lover. He was
dreadfully down in the mouth because he had to run away with her for
another man instead of on his own account. But he recognised that this
fellow had prior claims to the woman he adored. He knew that nothing
else than Jack would make her happy, and he was interested enough in her
welfare now to make him regard the riches of Ophir as dross compared to
a grateful thought from Sarah. He had had his innings and lost the game,
and he wasn't going to act mean, no matter how much he suffered by the
loss.

All through the night he watched the dromedary in front of him with its
precious burden. He was looking at her now for the last time, and
bidding her a long farewell under the moonlight, and these with other
thoughts kept him subdued and silent.

In the early morning they rested and had breakfast together; in a couple
more hours they would be at Berrima Mountain. The Afghan had fed his
animals and himself, and now lay looking skyward and smoking a cheroot.
Alice had fallen asleep on the sands after her meal, and the pair were
together silently watching the breaking of the day.


"Bob, I can never forget you, you have done for me what no woman can
forget--and I have nothing to give you in return."

"Oh, yes, you have, Sarah. Give me a lock of your purple hair to set
with my gold, and a photo of yourself and Alice to--pray before when I
am that way inclined. That'll do for me when I get a bit hipped."

Sarah seized his brown hand and kissed it passionately, then loosening
one of her long tresses she said: "Cut off what you want, Bob, for it's
little you ask for all you have done." "D'ye mind me biting it off,
Sarah? My teeth are as sharp as a knife at present." "Certainly not,
Bob--my brother."

"Ah," he grunted as he stooped forward, and separating a sable tress,
began gnawing it through with his teeth.

He was leaning over her left shoulder with the tress end trailing out of
his mouth, while she glanced sideways at him with brimming eyes. His
teeth were sharp, yet it took a little grinding to get through that
massive tress. "I wish to God, Bob, that I could have made you happy."

"Don't--for Christ's sake, don't! Sarah--say words like these. Give me
one kiss, and I'll try to content myself with that."

She turned like a panther and flung her arms round his neck, and then
their lips met for an instant only; when they withdrew their faces, each
cheek was wet with the tears which had burst from the hot eyes. Sarah
wiped that moisture away with her handkerchief, but Bob left his to soak
in and dry.

Jack Milton received them at the camp hospitably, and, when he heard the
news, at once held a consultation with his mates.

Barney, the Professor and the captain decided to flit at once, but the
others decided to hang on and look after the concern. Therefore, after a
hurried lunch while the caravan was packing, they set off towards the
schooner.

The parting of Bob Wallace and Sarah was of a formal character, merely a
few bottles of champagne shared round--some good wishes--a shake and a
waving of hands. Then they were off--Jack, his child and future wife;
while Bob Wallace remained to look over the mine, and arrange about its
success. He had taken pretty heavy shares in it, therefore he was within
his rights to be on the spot.

He was there when Inspector Wilmore came in on the following day, and
replied to all that investigator's questions with discretion. The pair
rode back to Kalgourlie mutually pleased with each other--doing well.

Mrs. Rosa Chester is thriving and has secured a fresh manageress. She
has not yet applied for her second divorce, for she is doing well enough
without.

Anthony Vandyke Jenkins is coining money as a mining expert and
arbitrator. His enemy Bob Wallace has returned again to England. The
Berrima and Lock Up Mines are things to conjure with, on the Stock
Exchange and elsewhere.

Arthur Chester is still at large, and Inspector Wilmore is looking after
other criminals who are constantly springing up, while fresh "Swampers"
are rushing to the field. Westralia is the land, at present, of golden
possibilities.

In a certain part of the globe--and I am not going to say where, as this
is an extremely up-to-date romance--although Bob Wallace knows--a little
colony are living comfortably and honestly, respected by all who supply
them with the comforts of life since they can meet their
responsibilities.

Jack is there with his wife Sarah, and their child. The Psychometrist
Mortikali is there and appreciated for his occult powers. Barney is
there and all the rest of them, and if mosquitoes predominate, and
quinine is required as a tonic, at least that bugbear of civilization,
the detectives, have no chance of extradition.

They are all happy and virtuous in that paradise "where the weary cease
to trouble, and the wicked are at rest."



THE END





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