AUSTRALIAN, BRITISH, AND
HUMOROUS, PATHETIC, DRAMATIC, DIALECT, RECITATIONS & READINGS.
WARD, LOCK & CO., LIMITED, LONDON, MELBOURNE & TORONTO.
|I Killed a Man at Graspan||M. Grover.||7|
|Kitty O'Toole||W. L. Lumley.||9|
|The Ballad of the Drover||Henry Lawson.||10|
|The Rescue||Edward Dyson.||13|
|Saltbush Bill||A. B. Paterson.||17|
|Drought and Doctrine.||J. Brunton Stevens.||20|
|The Martyr||Victor J. Daley.||25|
|The Carrying of the Baby||Ethel Turner.||28|
|The Old Gum||Florence Bullivant.||34|
|Murphy shall not Sing To-night||Montague Grover.||36|
|Christmas Bells||John B. O'Hara, M.A.||39|
|Wool is Up||Garnet Walch.||41|
|Wool is Down||Garnet Walch.||42|
|The Highland Brigade Buries its Dead||Lieut.-Col. W. T. Reay.||45|
|Australia's Call to Arms||John B. O'Hara, M.A.||49|
|Good News||Garnet Walch.||51|
|Free Trade v. Protection||Garnet Walch.||53|
|The Lion's Cubs||Garnet Walch.||59|
|The Little Duchess||Ethel Turner.||62|
|Australia's Springtime||W. L. Lumley.||70|
|The Man that saved the Match||David M'Kee Wright.||73|
|Ode for Commonwealth Day, 1st January, 1901||77|
|A Desperate Assault||79|
|The Game of Life ||John G. Saxe.||83|
|Prejudice||Charlotte Perkins Stetson.||85|
|The Poor and the Rich||James Russell Lowell.||86|
|The Engineer's Story||88|
|Seeing's not Believing.||Thomas Haynes Bayley.||90|
|Caudle has been made a Mason||Douglas Jerrold.||93|
|Mrs. Caudle's Lecture||Douglas Jerrold.||95|
|Jim Bludso||Colonel John Hay.||97|
|How Uncle Mose Counted the Eggs||99|
|The Negro Baby's Funeral.||Will Carleton.||101|
|Der Shpider und der Fly||Charles Follen Adams.||104|
|Lariat Bill||G. W. H.||106|
|The Elf Child; or, Little Orphant Annie||James Whitcomb Riley.||108|
|Alonzo the Brave and the Fair Imogene||Matthew Gregory Lewis (Monk Lewis).||110|
|An All-around Intellectual Man.||Tom Masson.||114|
|Her Ideal||Kate Masterson.||115|
|The Happy Farmer.||Mortimer C. Brown.||116|
|The Son of a Soldier||Owen Oliver.||118|
|The Mile||David M'Kee Wright.||119|
(The Tale of a Returned Australian Contingenter done into verse.)
By Henry Lawson.
(By kind permission of Messrs. Angus and Robertson, Publishers, Sydney and Melbourne.)
By Edward Dyson.
(From "Rhymes from the Mines," by kind permission of Messrs. Angus and Robertson, Publishers, Sydney and Melbourne.)
By A. B. Paterson.
(By permission of Messrs. Angus and Robertson, Publishers, Sydney and Melbourne.)
By J. Brunton Stephens.
(By kind permission of the publishers, Messrs. Angus and Robertson, Sydney and Melbourne.)
By Victor J. Daley.
(From "At Dawn and Dusk" poems, by kind permission of Angus and Robertson, Publishers, Sydney and Melbourne.)
By Ethel Turner.
Larrie had been carrying it for a long way, and said it was quite time Dot took her turn.
Dot was arguing the point.
She reminded him of all athletic sports he had taken part in, and of all the prizes he had won; she asked him what was the use of being six-foot-two and an impossible number of inches round the chest if he could not carry a baby.
Larrie gave her an unexpected glance and moved the baby to his other arm; he was heated and unhappy, there seemed absolutely no end to the red, red road they were traversing, and Dot, as well as refusing to help to carry the burden, laughed aggravatingly at him when he said it was heavy.
"He is exactly twenty-one pounds," she said, "I weighed him on the kitchen scales yesterday. I should think a man of your size ought to be able to carry twenty-one pounds without grumbling so."
"But he's on springs, Dot," he said; "just look at him, he's never still for a minute; you carry him to the beginning of Lee's orchard, and then I'll take him again."
Dot shook her head.
"I'm very sorry, Larrie," she said, "but I really can't. You know I didn't want to bring the child, and when you insisted, I said to myself, you should carry him every inch of the way, just for your obstinacy."
"But you're his mother," objected Larrie.
He was getting seriously angry, his arms ached unutterably, his clothes were sticking to his back, and twice the baby had poked a little fat thumb in his eye and made it water.
"But you're its father," Dot said sweetly.
"It's easier for a woman to carry a child than a man"—poor Larrie was mopping his hot brow with his disengaged hand—"everyone says so; don't be a little sneak, Dot; my arm's getting awfully cramped; here, for pity's sake take him."
Dot shook her head again.
"Would you have me break my vow, St. Lawrence?" she said.
She looked provokingly cool and unruffled as she walked along by his side; her gown was white, with transparent puffy sleeves, her hat was white and very large, she had little white canvas shoes, long white Suède gloves, and she carried a white parasol.
"I'm hanged," said Larrie, and he stopped short in the middle of the road; "look here, my good woman, are you going to take your baby, or are you not?"
Dot revolved her sunshade round her little sweet face.
"No, my good man," she said; "I don't propose to carry your baby one step."
"Then I shall drop it," said Larrie. He held it up in a threatening position by the back of its crumpled coat, but Dot had gone sailing on.
"Find a soft place," she called, looking back over her shoulder once and seeing him still standing in the road.
"Little minx," he said under his breath.
Then his mouth squared itself; ordinarily it was a pleasant mouth, much given to laughter and merry words; but when it took that obstinate look, one could see capabilities for all manner of things.
He looked carefully around. By the roadside there was a patch of soft, green grass, and a wattle bush, yellow-crowned, beautiful. He laid the child down in the shade of it, he looked to see there were no ants or other insects near; he put on the bootee that was hanging by a string from the little rosy foot, and he stuck the india-rubber comforter in its mouth. Then he walked quietly away and caught up to Dot.
"Well?" she said, but she looked a little startled at his empty arms; she drooped the sunshade over the shoulder nearest to him, and gave a hasty, surreptitious glance backward. Larrie strode along.
"You look fearfully ugly when you screw up your mouth like that," she said, looking up at his set side face.
"You're an unnatural mother, Dot, that's what you are," he returned hotly. "By Jove, if I was a woman, I'd be ashamed to act as you do. You get worse every day you live. I've kept excusing you to myself, and saying you would get wiser as you grew older, and instead, you seem more childish every day."
She looked childish. She was very, very small in stature, very slightly and delicately built. Her hair was in soft gold-brown curls, as short as a boy's; her eyes were soft, and wide, and tender, and beautiful as a child's. When she was happy they were the colour of that blue, deep violet we call the Czar, and when she grew thoughtful, or sorrowful, they were like the heart of a great, dark purple pansy. She was not particularly beautiful, only very fresh, and sweet, and lovable. Larrie once said she always looked like a baby that has been freshly bathed and dressed, and puffed with sweet violet powder, and sent out into the world to refresh tired eyes.
That was one of his courtship sayings, more than a year ago, when she was barely seventeen. She was eighteen now, and he was telling her she was an unnatural mother.
"Why, the child wouldn't have had its bib on, only I saw to it," he said, in a voice that increased in excitement as he dwelt on the enormity.
"Dear me," said Dot, "that was very careless of Peggie; I must really speak to her about it."
"I shall shake you some day, Dot," Larrie said, "shake you till your teeth rattle. Sometimes I can hardly keep my hands off you."
His brow was gloomy, his boyish face troubled, vexed.
And Dot laughed. Leaned against the fence skirting the road that seemed to run to eternity, and laughed outrageously.
Larrie stopped too. His face was very white and square-looking, his dark eyes held fire. He put his hands on the white, exaggerated shoulders of her muslin dress and turned her round.
"Go back to the bottom of the hill this instant, and pick up the child and carry it up here," he said.
"Go and insert your foolish old head in a receptacle for pommes-de-terre," was Dot's flippant retort.
Larrie's hands pressed harder, his chin grew squarer.
"I'm in earnest, Dot, deadly earnest. I order you to fetch the child, and I intend you to obey me," he gave her a little shake to enforce the command. "I am your master, and I intend you to know it from this day."
Dot experienced a vague feeling of surprise at the fire in the eyes that were nearly always clear, and smiling, and loving, then she twisted herself away.
"Pooh," she said, "you're only a stupid over-grown, passionate boy, Larrie. You my master! You're nothing in the world but my husband."
"Are you going?" he said in a tone he had never used before to her. "Say Yes or No, Dot, instantly."
"No," said Dot, stormily.
Then they both gave a sob of terror, their faces blanched, and they began to run madly down the hill.
Oh the long, long way they had come, the endless stretch of red, red road that wound back to the gold-tipped wattles, the velvet grass, and their baby!
Larrie was a fleet, wonderful runner. In the little cottage where they lived, manifold silver cups and mugs bore witness to it, and he was running for life now, but Dot nearly outstripped him.
She flew over the ground, hardly touching it, her arms were outstretched, her lips moving. They fell down together on their knees by their baby, just as three furious, hard-driven bullocks thundered by, filling the air with dust and bellowing.
The baby was blinking happily up at a great fat golden beetle that was making a lazy way up the wattle. It had lost its "comforter" and was sucking its thumb thoughtfully. It had kicked off its white knitted boots, and was curling its pink toes up in the sunshine with great enjoyment.
"Baby!" Larrie said. The big fellow was trembling in every limb.
"Baby!" said Dot. She gathered it up in her little shaking arms, she put her poor white face down upon it, and broke into such pitiful tears and sobs that it wept too. Larrie took them both into his arms, and sat down on a fallen tree. He soothed them, he called them a thousand tender, beautiful names; he took off Dot's hat and stroked her little curls, he kissed his baby again and again; he kissed his wife. When they were all quite calm and the bullocks ten miles away, they started again.
"I'll carry him," said Larrie.
"Ah no, let me," Dot said.
"Darling, you're too tired—see, you can hold his hand across my shoulder."
"No, no, give him to me—my arms ache without him."
"But the hill—my big baby!"
"Oh, I must have him—Larrie, let me—see, he is so light—why, he is nothing to carry."
By John B. O'Hara, M.A.
(By kind permission of the Author.)
By Lieut.-Colonel W. T. Reay.
(By kind permission of the Author.)
How am I to describe the sadly impressive scene at Modder River on the evening of the 13th of December? The sun has just set, and the period of twilight has commenced. The great heat of the day has passed, and although there is not a breath of wind, the air is cool and refreshing. The whole British camp at Modder River is astir. Not, however, with the always gay bustle of warlike preparations; not with the laughter and jest which—such strange creatures are we—almost invariably come from the lips of men who dress for the parade which precedes a plunge into battle. There is this evening a solemn hush over the camp, and the men move from their lines in irregular and noiseless parties, for the time their pipes put out of sight, and their minds charged with serious thought. To what is given this homage of silence as the soldiers gather, and mechanically, without word of command or even request of any kind, leave a roadway from the head-quarters' flag to a point a quarter of a mile away, where a dark mound of upraised earth breaks the monotonous flatness of the whitey-green veldt? For these are mere spectators, deeply interested, it is true, yet still only spectators. What, then, is afoot? Civilians, hats off, and attention everyone. The Highland Brigade is about to bury its dead.
Stand here at the head of the lines of spectator soldiers—here where that significant mound is; here at the spot selected as a last resting-place—and observe. The whole Brigade, some of the regiments sadly attenuated, is on parade, and has formed funeral procession, under Colonel Pole-Carew. First come the pipers, and it is seen that they have for the nonce discarded their service kit, and are in the full dress of their several clans. "Savage and shrill" is the Byronic description of the pibroch, which, in the "noon of night," startled the joyous revellers before Waterloo. Now it is a low, deep wail, yet voluminous and weirdly euphonious, that comes from the music-makers of the Highlands, and every heart stands still to listen. Oh, so sad it is! "The Flowers of the Forest"—("He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down")—they are—playing, shall I say? No; rather does the music flow out from the very souls of the pipers in a succession of strangely harmonious moans, and soul calls to soul. Yet beneath it all, beneath the dominant note of heart-bursting sorrow, lurks that other element—"the savage and shrill." Yes, indeed; soul calls to soul through these pipes—calls for sobs and tears for the brave who have fallen—calls for vengeance on the yet unbeaten foe. The Highland Brigade is burying its dead.
Following the pipers marches a small armed party. It would have been the firing party, but volleys are not fired over soldiers' graves in time of war. Then the chaplain, in his robes, preceding the corpse of General Wauchope (who had fallen at the head of his men), borne on a stretcher. One of the bearers is of the dead man's kin—a promising young Highland officer. Then come the several regiments of the Brigade, the Black Watch leading. The men march with arms reversed, stately, erect, stern, grim. They lift their feet high for the regulation step of the slow, funeral march. But observe that even in their grim sternness these men are quivering with an emotion which they cannot control—an emotion which passes out in magnetic waves from their ranks to those of their comrade spectators of England and Ireland, and brings tears to the eyes and choking sobs to the throats of the strong and the brave. "Talk not of grief till thou hast seen the tears of warlike men!" The Highland Brigade is burying its dead.
In a separate grave, at the head of a long, shallow trench, the body of General Wauchope is laid, in sight of and facing the foe. The chaplain advances, and the solemn service for the dead is recited in a clear and markedly Scotch voice, while all bow their heads and either listen or ponder. A grief-stricken kinsman's quivering hand drops earth upon the body at the words, "Ashes to ashes, dust to dust," and the grave of the General is quickly filled in. There, beside the trench, already lie the corpses of fifty officers and men. They had been carried to the burial place earlier in the day. There, at the end nearer to the General's grave, the officers are laid. Beside them their comrades of minor rank in life, all brought to a worldly level by the hand of death, are placed in the trench. It is an excavation only about three feet deep, but it is twelve feet wide, and the dead men are put feet to feet in two parallel rows, twenty-five on each side. They are fully attired, just as they were brought in from the battlefield, and each is wrapped in his blanket. The sporan is turned over on to the dead face, and the kilt thrown back, the rigid limbs showing bare and scarred in the unfilled trench. The Highland Brigade is burying its dead.
Once more the chaplain steps forward, and a new funeral service is commenced. Again great, powerful men weep. Some grow faint, some pray, some curse. "Oh, God! oh, God!" is the cry which comes from bursting hearts as comrades are recognised, and soil is sprinkled over them by hard, rough hands, which tremble now as they never trembled in the face of a foe. Then the burial parties get to work, gently as a sweet woman tucks the bedclothes round her sleeping child. The soft soil falls kindly upon the shreds of humanity beneath. Men cease to weep, and catch something of the "rapture of repose" of which a poet has sung. Mother Earth has claimed her own, and the brave are sleeping their last sleep in her kindly embrace. Again the dirge of the pipes, and the sweet strains of "Lochaber no more" fill the evening air. The Highland Brigade is burying its dead.
Meanwhile, the cable has carried its budget of sad messages to the old land. There, in a wee cottage by the bonnie burn side, the bereaved mother bows her aged head and says, "Thy will be done." There also the heart-broken once wife, newly-made widow, pours out the anguish of her soul as she clasps her fatherless bairn to her warm bosom. Her man comes no more. For the Highland Brigade has buried its dead.
By John B. O'Hara, M.A.
(By kind permission of the Author.)
PATRIOTIC SONG AND CHORUS.
By Ethel Turner.
He was the clerk of the cash tramway, and when the rolling balls gave him a moment's leisure, used to look down from his high perch at the big shop beneath his feet, and, in his slow, quiet style, study the ways of the numberless assistants whose life-books thus opened to him so many of their pages.
Lately there had come to the place a slight, grey-eyed girl, who wore her black dress with such grace, and held her small head with such dignity, that he whimsically had named her to himself "The Little Duchess." He liked to look down and catch a glint of her hair's sunshine when his brain was dulled with calculating change, and his fingers ached with shutting cash-balls and dispatching them on their journeys. And he used to wonder greatly how any customer could hesitate to buy silks and satins when their lustre and sheen were displayed by her slim little fingers and the quality descanted on with so persuasive a smile. There were handsomer girls in the shop, girls with finer figures and better features; but, to the boy in his mid-air cage, there was none with the nameless dainty charms that made the little Duchess so lovable.
For, of course, he did love her. In less than two months he had begun to watch for her cash-ball with a trembling eagerness, to smooth out and stroke gently the bill her fingers had written, and to wrap it and its change up again with a careful tenderness that no one else's change and bill received. He had spoken to her half-a-dozen times in all; twice at the door on leaving—weather remarks, to which she had responded graciously; once or twice about bills that she had come to rectify at the desk, and once he had had the great good fortune to find and return a handkerchief she had dropped. Such a pretty, ridiculous atom of muslin it was, with a fanciful "Nellie" taking up one quarter, and some delicate scent lending such subtle fascination that it was a real wrench for the lad to take the handkerchief from his breast-pocket and proffer it to her.
So great a wrench, indeed, that he profferred his love, too, humbly, but fervently, and received a very wondering look from the grey eyes, a badly-concealed smile, a "Thank you" for the handkerchief, and a "No, thank you" for the love.
He had kissed her, though, and that was some consolation afterwards to his sore spirit, kissed her right upon the sweet, scarlet lips which had said "No" so decidedly, and then, bold no longer, had fled the shelter of the friendly packing-cases, and beaten a retreat to his desk aloft.
That was nearly a fortnight ago; not once since had she spoken to him, and to-day he was feeling desperate.
It had been a very busy morning, and he had found hardly a second to raise his eyes from his work. The one time he had looked down she had been busy with a customer—a girl prettily dressed and golden-headed like herself. That had been at about ten o'clock. Before twelve her cash-box, with the notch upon it that his penknife had made, rolled down its line, and he opened it as he had opened it twenty times that morning; but this time it bore his fate. With the bill was a little twisted note, on which "John Walters, private," was written, and the boy's very heart leaped at the sight. Down below, customers wearily waited for change, and anxiously watched for their own particular ball while the deus ex machina read again and again, with eager eyes: "Please will you meet me at lunch-time in the Strand? Do, if you can. I am in trouble. You said you loved me." Then, as he began mechanically to manipulate the waiting balls, he looked down to the accustomed place of the little Duchess. She was pale, he saw, and her lips trembled oddly now and again. There was a frightened look in her grey eyes, and once or twice he thought he noticed a sparkle as of tears.
At lunch-time he actually tore through the shop and away down to the appointed place. She was there—still pale, still nervous and fluttering.
"Let us go to the Gardens. It's quieter," he said, putting a great restraint upon himself; then, when at last they were within the gates, "God bless you for this, Nellie."
"What?" said the girl, with uncertainty, but not looking at the plain, rugged face that was all aglow with love for her.
"For telling me about the worry—asking me to come. Oh, God bless you, Nellie! Now tell me."
She sat down on a seat and began to cry, quietly and miserably, till the boy was almost beside himself. At last, between the sobs, he learned her trouble, which was grave indeed. She and her sister had very much wanted to go to a certain ball, and, more than that, to have new dresses for it, of soft white Liberty silk, such as she cut off daily for fortunate customers. But her purse was empty, so, in their emergency, the sisters had hit upon a plan, questionable, indeed, but not dishonestly meant. The sister came to the silk counter and purchased thirty yards of silk, paying 15s. for it instead of £3 15s.
"That was on account; I was only taking a little credit, like other customers," said the little Duchess, with a haughty movement of the head. "On Saturday I was going to make out a bill for an imaginary customer, and send the £3 up to the desk to you. Don't imagine I would really wrong the firm by a halfpenny."
"Oh, no," cried the boy eagerly; "it's all right."
"That's not all." The girl began to cry again, hopelessly, miserably. "I had no money to get the dresses made, and the next customer paid £2 10s., and—and—I only sent 10s. up to you—I wanted to make it just £5 I had borrowed. I thought I might borrow enough, as I was borrowing—don't forget, I would rather have died than have stolen the £5, Mr. Walters."
"Of course, of course, I understand," said the cash clerk, seeing it was a worse fix than he had imagined, but longing to take her in his arms and kiss away the tears.
"And then that horrid Mr. Greaves, who signed first in a hurry, asked for my book and took it for something, and then sent it up to the desk, and the figures are all confused, and the check-leaf isn't the same as I sent to you. I hadn't time to make it right, and when the books are compared to-night it will be noticed, and I shall get into trouble—and, oh, I am so miserable!" The little Duchess was sobbing pitifully.
He kissed her, this time in earnest; on the lips, the cheeks, the hair, the tear-wet eyes. He only recollected himself when a gardener's form, and especially his smile, obtruded themselves upon their notice, and they sat apart looking foolish until the two o'clock bells made them hurry back to the shop.
"I'll put everything right—don't you worry," he said; and she smiled relievedly and went to her counter.
That afternoon he did what all the other years of his life he had deemed it impossible for him to do. He made a neat alteration in his books so that the £5 in question would not be missed. To-morrow, he resolved, he would take £5 of his own and pay it into the account of the firm. The little Duchess should be his debtor, and run no more risks. But, alas, for the morrow!
Before he had fairly taken his seat in the morning—before Nellie had finished fastening at her neck the violets he had brought her—some words were said at his elbow, and he slowly became aware that he—surely it was a dream!—was being arrested for defalcations in his accounts. He learned that for some time past the firm had been aware of considerable discrepancies in the books, and had placed a detective-accountant in the office. Last night, for the first time, the man had discovered, as he thought, a clue, and had convinced the firm that in Walters he had found the offender.
The lad was ashen pale, horror stricken, as he realised how these things must go against him. He could not drag in the name of the little Duchess—even if he did, it would not avail him much; he certainly had altered his books, and to mention the girl's share would only be to have two of them brought to trial, and perhaps to gaol. The little Duchess in gaol! That hair catching the prison-yard sunshine! That slender form clad in the garments of shame! The boy drew a deep breath, gave one very wistful glance at the silk counter, and then walked straight to the manager's room, followed by the policeman.
"I took the £5 yesterday, and brought it back to-day. On my oath before God, sir, I have never misapplied one farthing of my moneys."
His voice trembled in its eagerness, the deep-set eyes gleamed, and the white lips worked.
"Your purpose, Walters?"
The manager looked hard, disbelieving.
"Direst need. Oh, believe me, sir, I have served you three years honestly as man can serve—yesterday I borrowed this money and brought it back this morning—don't ruin my whole life for that one act."
"Your pressing need yesterday?"
John drew a deep breath again.
"I—can't well tell you."
Then the heads of the firm came in, indignant at their misused trust, and they scorned his story. The defalcations amounted to almost £50 in all, and he had confessed to £5, which had been found upon him. Of course, he and no other was the offender, and they must teach their employés a lesson. So John walked down that long shop by the side of the official, his head very erect, his face pale, and his knees shaking; all his life he would remember the glances of pity, curiosity, and disdain that met him on every side. As he passed the silk counter, the little Duchess was measuring a great piece of rose-red, sheeny satin, that gleamed warm and beautiful beneath her hands. She was very white, and in her eyes was a look of abject horror and entreaty; his eyes reassured her, and he passed on and out of the door. All his life he would remember that rose-red satin and its brilliant, glancing lights.
After the trial everyone thought him fortunate to get only two years, and the little Duchess, who had grown thin and old-looking in the interval, breathed freely as she read the account in the papers, and saw that her name was not even mentioned in connection with the matter. He wrote to her a loving, boyish letter, and told her she must be true to him till he came out, and that then they would be married and go away where this could never be heard of.
It was no small thing he had done for her, he knew; and, as he was not more than human, he expected his reward. And the little Duchess had cried quietly over the letter, and for several days cut off silk and satin with a pensive, unhappy look that quite touched her customers—those few among them who realised that it was human flesh and blood at the other side of the yard measure.
Twenty months later the little Duchess was at the same counter measuring silk and satin for the stock-taking, when a note was brought to her in a writing she remembered too well.
"I got out to-day, Nellie. Come down to the Gardens in the lunch-time."
She hesitated when the time came, but he might come to the shop, and that would never do. So she put her hat on thoughtfully and set out for the Gardens.
He was awaiting her on the seat where, nearly two years ago, the gardener had smiled at them. He stood up as she came slowly towards him, and for a minute they gazed at each other without speaking.
She was in black, of course, but fresh and dainty-looking, with a bunch of white chiffon at her throat, little tan shoes on her feet, and her hair showing golden against the black of her lace hat.
For him, his face had altered and hardened; the once thick, curling hair was horribly short, his hands were rough and unsightly, his clothes hung awkwardly upon him, and his linen was doubtful.
"The little Duchess!" he said, dully; then he put out his hand, took her small gloved one, and looked at it curiously.
"I—I am glad you're out," she said, carefully looking away from him.
"Yes—we must be married now, Nellie; that's all I've had to think about all this awful time."
His face flushed a little and his eyes lightened.
"It's good not to see the walls," he added, looking round at the spring's brave show, then away to the blue sparkle in the bay and the glancing sails.
"We mustn't talk of that time, though, ever—eh, Nellie?"
"No," she said, regarding her brown shoes intently.
His eye noted the smooth roundness of her cheek, the delicate pink that came and went, the turn of the white neck.
"Aren't you going to kiss me, Nellie?" he said, slowly; and he drew her a little strangely and awkwardly to him.
Then she spoke.
"I knew it wouldn't be any use, and you'd never have any money or get a place after this. We couldn't be married on nothing, and it would only drag you down to have me, too. I'm not worthy of you."
"Well, little Duchess," he said, softly, as she stopped and faltered; a slow smile crept over his face, and his deep-set eyes lighted up with tenderness.
Not worthy, his little Duchess!
Then the crimson rushed into her face, and she flung up her head defiantly.
"I married the new shop-walker, four months ago!"
By David M'Kee Wright.
(By kind permission of the Author.)
1st JANUARY, 1901.
I have more than once had reason to admire the British soldier in battle, but never was there such good ground for admiration as in watching him prepare. All the blare and tumult, the death and disaster of actual conflict have no such tense, dramatic, nerve-trying moments as when a regiment is making ready for some great enterprise. The fight is a medley of mixed impressions, jostling each other for a moment's existence ere passing away, but the getting ready is unforgetable. Everything is clear-cut and within the sum of human emotions—eternal. So it was with that last grand charge of the Devons, which swept the Boers from their fringe of the little plateau and finished the long seventeen hours' ordeal. The enemy were on one side of the Table, we on the other. A tropical hailstorm howled across it, and beat heavily in our faces, as Colonel Park led his men up the sheltered face of the hill, and halted a moment within five yards of the crest, to make ready. The men knew exactly what they had to do, and the solemnity of a great and tragic undertaking was upon and about them. All the world for them—the too brief past with its consequences, the fast-flying present, and the mysterious beyond—might concentrate in a short desperate dash across a storm-swept African hilltop. It was the sublimity of life—the anticipation of death. The Devons were making ready for it, and how unready a man might feel at such a moment! The line of brown riflemen stretched away to the left of us, and it seemed that every trivial action of every man there had become an epic. One noticed most of all the constant moistening of the dry lips, and the frequent raising of the water-bottles for a last hurried mouthful. One man tightened a belt, another brought his cartridges handier to his right hand, though he was not to use them. It was something to ease the strain of watching. Every little thing fixed itself on the mind as a photograph. There was no need of mental effort to remember. One could not see and forget, and would not, for his patriotism and his pride of kinship, forget if he could. Then the low clinking, quivering sound of the steel which died away from us in a trickle down the ranks as the bayonets were fixed—and a dry, harsh, artificial laugh, in strong contrast to the quiet of the scene—everything heard easily somehow above the rush and clatter of the storm, and lost only for an instant in the sudden bursts of thunder. A bit of quiet tragedy wedged into the turmoil of the great play, and all unspeakably solemn and awe-inspiring. One must see to understand it. One may have seen yet can never describe it. The situation was not for ordinary language; it was Homeric, over-mastering.
"Now, then, Devons, get ready." There was a dry catch in the colonel's voice as he gave the word—and the short sentence was punctuated by the zip-zip of the Mauser bullets, that for a few precious seconds would still be flying overhead. There was a quick panting of the breath, a stiffening of the lines of the faces, that with so many of them was but the prelude to the rigidity of death. It was waiting for them only a few yards up, and their manhood was being sorely tried. But the Devons squared their shoulders, gripped their rifles—bringing them up with the quick whip of the drill, that was too well ground into them to be forgotten even then. A prompt dressing by the left, and, as though eager to get it over, the Devons sprang forward to the word into the double storm of hail and nickel-plated bullets. The killing suspense was over—they were in action at last, one's whole heart went with them, and just for one moment, as they stood fully exposed upon the plateau, it seemed to the watchers that there might be disaster. They had slightly miscalculated the enemy's strongest point, and had to wheel by the left. As they did so the line faltered for a moment. A shiver, a pendulum-like swaying seemed to run down it; that was the history-making moment, when the regiment might either do something that ever afterwards they would try to forget, or that all their countrymen would be proud to remember—the moment in men's lives which, measured by emotion only, stretch out into centuries. It was the moment of a life, too, for the commander of men. His chance had come.
"Steady, Devons, steady," came the clear ringing call, and then, with one great surging rush, that gathered momentum even as it lost in fallen units, the regiment went on.
Boldly though they had taken and held that hill, prudence came to the Boer riflemen as these eager bayonets bore down upon them. For a moment they shot the Devons through and through, and then they ran. At that moment not a man amongst our common-place, drinking, swearing Tommies but was exalted, deified—but so many of them were something less of interest on earth than even a common soldier. Where the regiment had gone seventy of its dead and wounded littered the hilltop, but still it was the moment of victory, not of lamentations. It may sound strange to say that the prelude to a battle, like the preface to a book, can be greater than the actual battle or the book. But so it seemed to me. Others might view it differently, but challenge our impressions as we may in the light of riper history, we shall never alter them. They are indelible. Overhaul the plates again and again as we please, it will always be the same picture.
Donald Macdonald ("How we Kept the Flag Flying").
(From the "Denver Post.")
Now, Mr. Caudle—Mr. Caudle, I say: oh! you can't be asleep already, I know. Now, what I mean to say is this: there's no use, none at all, in our having any disturbance about the matter; but at last my mind's made up, Mr. Caudle; I shall leave you. Either I know all you've been doing to-night, or to-morrow morning I shall quit the house. No, no! There's an end of the marriage state, I think—and an end of all confidence between man and wife—if a husband's to have secrets and keep 'em all to himself. Pretty secrets they must be, when his own wife can't know 'em. Not fit for any decent person to know, I'm sure, if that's the case. Now, Caudle, don't let us quarrel, there's a good soul: tell me, what's it all about? A pack of nonsense, I daresay; still—not that I care much about it—still, I should like to know. There's a dear. Eh? Oh, don't tell me there's nothing in it; I know better. I'm not a fool, Mr. Caudle; I know there's a good deal in it. Now, Caudle, just tell me a little bit of it. I'm sure I'd tell you anything. You know I would. Well?
And you're not going to let me know the secret, eh? You mean to say—you're not? Now, Caudle, you know it's a hard matter to put me in a passion—not that I care about the secret itself; no, I wouldn't give a button to know it, for it's all nonsense, I'm sure. It isn't the secret I care about; it's the slight, Mr. Caudle; it's the studied insult that a man pays to his wife, when he thinks of going through the world keeping something to himself which he won't let her know. Man and wife one, indeed! I should like to know how that can be when a man's a Mason—when he keeps a secret that sets him and his wife apart? Ha! you men make the laws, and so you take good care to have all the best of them to yourselves; otherwise a woman ought to be allowed a divorce when a man becomes a Mason—when he's got a sort of corner-cupboard in his heart, a secret place in his mind, that his poor wife isn't allowed to rummage.
Was there ever such a man? A man, indeed! A brute!—yes, Mr. Caudle, an unfeeling, brutal creature, when you might oblige me, and you won't. I'm sure I don't object to your being a Mason; not at all, Caudle; I daresay it's a very good thing; I daresay it is: it's only your making a secret of it that vexes me. But you'll tell me—you'll tell your own Margaret? You won't? You're a wretch, Mr. Caudle.
There, Mr. Caudle, I hope you're in a little better temper than you were this morning. There, you needn't begin to whistle: people don't come to bed to whistle. But it's like you; I can't speak, that you don't try to insult me. Once, I used to say you were the best creature living: now, you get quite a fiend. Do let you rest? No, I won't let you rest. It's the only time I have to talk to you, and you shall hear me. I'm put upon all day long: it's very hard if I can't speak a word at night; and it isn't often I open my mouth, goodness knows!
Because once in your lifetime your shirt wanted a button, you must almost swear the roof off the house. You didn't swear? Ha, Mr. Caudle! you don't know what you do when you're in a passion. You were not in a passion, wer'n't you? Well, then I don't know what a passion is; and I think I ought by this time. I've lived long enough with you, Mr. Caudle, to know that.
It's a pity you hav'n't something worse to complain of than a button off your shirt. If you'd some wives, you would, I know. I'm sure I'm never without a needle-and-thread in my hand; what with you and the children, I'm made a perfect slave of. And what's my thanks? Why, if once in your life a button's off your shirt—what do you say "ah" at? I say once, Mr. Caudle; or twice or three times, at most. I'm sure, Caudle, no man's buttons in the world are better looked after than yours. I only wish I'd kept the shirts you had when you were first married! I should like to know where were your buttons then?
Yes, it is worth talking of! But that's how you always try to put me down. You fly into a rage, and then, if I only try to speak, you won't hear me. That's how you men always will have all the talk to yourselves: a poor woman isn't allowed to get a word in. A nice notion you have of a wife, to suppose she's nothing to think of but her husband's buttons. A pretty notion, indeed, you have of marriage. Ha! if poor women only knew what they had to go through! What with buttons—and one thing and another! They'd never tie themselves up to the best man in the world, I'm sure. What would they do, Mr. Caudle?—Why, do much better without you, I'm certain.
And it's my belief, after all, that the button wasn't off the shirt; it's my belief that you pulled it off, that you might have something to talk about. Oh, you're aggravating enough, when you like, for anything. All I know is, it's very odd that the button should be off the shirt; for I'm sure no woman's a greater slave to her husband's buttons than I am. I only say it's very odd.
However, there's one comfort; it can't last long. I'm worn to death with your temper, and sha'n't trouble you a great while. Ha, you may laugh! And I daresay you would laugh! I've no doubt of it! That's your love; that's your feeling! I know that I'm sinking every day, though I say nothing about it. And when I'm gone, we shall see how your second wife will look after your buttons! You'll find out the difference, then. Yes, Caudle, you'll think of me, then; for then, I hope, you'll never have a blessed button to your back.
Old Mose, who sells eggs and chickens on the streets of Austin for a living, is as honest an old negro as ever lived; but he has got the habit of chatting familiarly with his customers, hence he frequently makes mistakes in counting out the eggs they buy. He carries his wares around in a small cart drawn by a diminutive donkey. He stopped in front of the residence of Mrs. Samuel Burton. The old lady came out to the gate to make the purchases.
"Have you got any eggs this morning, Uncle Mose?" she asked.
"Yes, indeed I has. Jes got in ten dozen from de kentry."
"Are they fresh?"
"I gua'ntee 'em. I knows dey am fresh jess de same as ef I had laid 'em myse'f."
"I'll take nine dozen. You can count them in this basket."
"All right, mum." He counts: "One, two, free, foah, five, six, seben, eight, nine, ten. You kin rely on dem bein' fresh. How's your son comin' on at de school? He mus' be mos' grown."
"Yes, Uncle Mose, he is a clerk in a bank at Galveston."
"Why, how ole am de boy?"
"He is eighteen."
"You don't tole me so. Eighteen and gettin' a salary already! eighteen (counting), nineteen, twenty, twenty-one, twenty-two, twenty-free, twenty-foah, twenty-five, and how's yore gal comin' on? She was mos' growed up de las' time I seed her."
"She is married and living in Dallas."
"Wal, I declar. How de time scoots away! An' yo' say she has childruns? Why, how ole am de gal? She mus' be about——"
"Am dat so? (counting) firty-free, firty-foah, firty-five, firty-six, firty-seben, firty-eight, firty-nine, forty, forty-one, forty-two, forty-free. Hit am so singular dat you has sich old childruns. I can't believe you has grand-childruns. You don't look more den forty yeahs old youself."
"Nonsense, old man, I see you want to flatter me. When a person gets to be fifty-three years old——"
"Fifty-free? I jess dun gwinter b'lieve hit, fifty-free, fifty-foah, fifty-five, fifty-six—I want you to pay tenshun when I counts de eggs, so dar'll be no mistake—fifty-nine, sixty, sixty-one, sixty-two, sixty-free, sixty-foah—whew! Dat am a warm day. Dis am de time of yeah when I feels I'se gettin' ole myse'f. I ain't long for dis worl. You comes from an ole family. When your fodder died he was sebenty years ole."
"Seventy-two, Uncle Mose."
"Dat's ole, suah. Sebenty-two, sebenty-free, sebenty-foah, sebenty-five, sebenty-six, sebenty-seven, sebenty-eight, sebenty-nine—and your mudder? she was one ob de noblest lookin' ladies I ebber see. You reminds me ob her so much. She libbed to mos' a hundred. I bleeves she was done past a centurion when she died."
"No, Uncle Mose, she was only ninety-six when she died."
"Den she wasn't no chicken when she died. I know dat—ninety-six, ninety-seben, ninety-eight, ninety-nine, one hundred, one, two, free, foah, five, six, seben, eight—dar 108 nice fresh eggs—jess nine dozen, and heah am one moah egg in case I has discounted myse'f."
Old Mose went on his way rejoicing. A few days afterward Mrs. Burton said to her husband, "I am afraid we will have to discharge Matilda. I am satisfied she steals the milk and eggs. I am positive about the eggs, for I bought them day before yesterday, and now about half of them are gone. I stood right there and heard Old Mose count them myself, and there were nine dozen."
By Owen Oliver.
(Reprinted from "To-Day" by kind permission of the Author.)
By David M'Kee Wright.
(By kind permission of the Author.)
Other Volumes in this Series.
MANNERS FOR MEN
MANNERS FOR WOMEN
A WORD TO WOMEN
HOW TO BE PRETTY
WHAT SHALL I SAY?
THE BOOK OF STITCHES
HEALTH EXERCISES AND HOME GYMNASTICS
THE APPLAUSE RECITER
THE GENTLE ART OF GOOD TALKING
ATHLETICS OF TO-DAY
MANNERS FOR GIRLS