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- An Outback Marriage - 1/39 -


AN OUTBACK MARRIAGE

By Andrew Barton Paterson

Author Of "The Man From Snowy River," And "Rio Grande's Last Race"

CONTENTS

I. In The Club II. A Dinner For Five III. In Push Society IV. The Old Station V. The Coming Of The Heiress VI. A Coach Accident VII. Mr. Blake's Relations VIII. At The Homestead IX. Some Visitors X. A Lawyer In The Bush XI. A Walk In The Moonlight XII. Mr. Blake Breaks His Engagement XIII. The Rivals XIV. Red Mack And His Sheep Dogs XV. A Proposal And Its Results XVI. The Road To No Man's Land XVII. Considine XVIII. The Wild Cattle XIX. A Chance Encounter XX. A Consultation At Kiley's XXI. No Compromise XXII. A Nurse And Her Assistant XXIII. Hugh Goes In Search XXIV. The Second Search For Considine XXV. In The Buffalo Camp XXVI. The Saving Of Considine XXVII. The Real Certificate XXVIII. A Legal Battle XXIX. Races And A Win

CHAPTER I.

IN THE CLUB.

It was a summer's evening in Sydney, and the north-east wind that comes down from New Guinea and the tropical islands over leagues of warm sea, brought on its wings a heavy depressing moisture. In the streets people walked listlessly, perspired, mopped themselves, and abused their much-vaunted climate. Everyone who could manage it was out of town, either on the heights of Moss Vale or the Blue Mountains, escaping from the Inferno of Sydney.

In the Cassowary Club, weary, pallid waiters brought iced drinks to such of the members as were condemned to spend the summer in town. The gong had sounded, and in ones and twos members shuffled out of the smoking-room, and went in to dinner. At last only three were left talking at the far end of the big, empty smoking-room, like three small stage conspirators at the end of a very large robbers' cavern.

One was a short, fat, red-faced man, who looked like a combination of sea-captain and merchant, and who was the local representative of a big English steamship company. His connection with the mercantile marine had earned him his nickname of "The Bo'sun." By his side sat Pinnock, a lean and bilious-looking solicitor; the third man was an English globe-trotter, a colourless sort of person, of whom no one took any particular notice until they learnt that he was the eldest son of a big Scotch whisky manufacturer, and had 10,000 a year of his own. Then they suddenly discovered that he was a much smarter fellow than he looked. The three were evidently waiting for somebody. The "Bo'sun" had a grievance, and was relieving his mind by speech. He walked up and down between the smoking-room chairs, brandishing a telegram as he talked, while the attorney and the globe-trotter lay back on the lounge and admired his energy.

"I call it a shame," he said, facing round on them suddenly; "I could have got up to Moss Vale for a day or two, and now old Grant of Kuryong wires me to meet and entertain a new chum. Just listen to this: 'Young Carew, friend of mine, on Carthaginia. Will you meet him and show him round; oblige me--W. G. Grant.' I met the old fellow once or twice at dinner, when he was in town for the sheep sales, and on the strength of that he foists an unknown callow new chum on to me. People are always doing that kind of thing."

"Leave his friend alone, then," said Pinnock; "don't have anything to do with him. I know his sort--Government House young man the first week, Coffee Palace at two shillings a night the second week, boiler on the wharf the third week, Central Police Court the fourth week, and then exit so far as all decent people are concerned."

The Bo'sun stuffed the telegram into his pocket and sat down.

"Oh, I don't suppose he'll be so bad," he said. "I've asked him here to-night to see what he's like, and if he's no good I'll drop him. It's the principle I object to. Country people are always at this sort of thing. They'd ask me to meet an Alderney bull and entertain him till they send for him. What am I to do with an unknown new chum? I'd sooner have an Alderney bull--he'd be easier to arrange for. He'd stop where he was put, anyhow."

Here Gillespie, the globe-trotter, cut into the conversation. "I knew a Jim Carew in England," he said, "and if this is the same man you will have no trouble taking care of him. He was a great man at his 'Varsity--triple blue, or something of the sort. He can row and run and fight and play football, and all that kind of thing. Very quiet-spoken sort of chap--rather pretends to be a simple sort of Johnny, don't you know, but he's a regular demon, I believe. Got into a row at a music-hall one night, and threw the chucker-out in among a lot of valuable pot plants, and irretrievably ruined him."

"Nice sort of man," said the Bo'sun. "I've seen plenty of his sort, worse luck; he'll be borrowing fivers after the first week. I'll put him on to you fellows."

The globe-trotter smiled a sickly smile, and changed the subject. "What's old Grant like--the man he's going to? Squatter man, I suppose?"

"Oh, yes, and one of the real old sort, too," interposed Pinnock, "perfect gentleman, you know, but apt to make himself deuced unpleasant if everything doesn't go exactly to suit him; sort of chap who thinks that everyone who doesn't agree with him ought to be put to death at once. He had a row with his shearers one year, and offered Jack Delaney a new Purdey gun if he'd fire the first two charges into the shearers' camp at night."

"Ha!" said Gillespie. "That's his sort, eh? Well, if this Carew is the Carew I mean, he and the old fellow will be well met. They'll about do for each other in the first week or two."

"No great loss, either," said the Bo'sun. "Anyhow I've asked this new chum to dinner to-night, and Charlie Gordon's coming too. He was in my office to-day, but hadn't heard of the new chum. Gordon's a member now."

"What's he like?" said Gillespie. "Anything like the gentleman that wanted the shearers killed?"

"Oh, no; a good fellow," said the Bo'sun, taking a sip of sherry. "He manages stations for Grant, and the old man has kept him out on the back-stations nearly all his life. He was out in the Gulf-country in the early days--got starved out in droughts, swept away in floods, lost in the bush, speared by blacks, and all that sort of thing, in the days when men camped under bushes and didn't wear shirts. Gone a bit queer in the head, I think, but a good chap for all that."

"How did this Grant make all his money" asked Gillespie. "He's awfully well off, isn't he? Stations everywhere? Is he any relation to Gordon?"

"No; old Gordon--Charlie's father--used to have the money. He had a lot of stations in the old days, and employed Grant as a manager. Grant was a new chum Scotchman with no money, but a demon for hard work, and the most headstrong, bad-tempered man that ever lived--hard to hold at any time. After he'd worked for Gordon for awhile he went to the diggings and made a huge pile; and when old Gordon got a bit short of cash he took Grant into partnership."

"It must have been funny for a man to have his old manager as a partner!"

"It wasn't at all funny for Gordon," said the lawyer, grimly. "Anything but funny. They each had stations of their own outside the partnership, and all Gordon's stations went wrong, and Grant's went right. It never seemed to rain on Gordon's stations, while Grant's had floods. So Gordon got short of money again and borrowed from Grant, and when he was really in a fix Grant closed on him and sold him out for good and all."

"What an old screw! What did he do that for?"

"Just pure obstinacy--Gordon had contradicted him or something, so he sold him up just to show which was right."

"And what did Gordon do after he was sold up?"

"Died, and didn't leave a penny. So then Bully Grant wheeled round and gave Gordon's widow a station to live on, and fixed the two sons up managing his stations. Goodness knows how much he's worth now. Doesn't even know it himself."

"And has he no children? Was he ever married?"

The lawyer lit a cigarette and puffed at it.

"He went to England and got married; there's a daughter. The wife's dead; the daughter is in England still--never been out here. There's a story that before he made his money he married a bush girl up on the station, but no one believes that. The daughter in England


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