JACK ESSINGHAM; OR, "THE GRAVES OF A HOUSEHOLD."
(A TALE OF NORTHERN QUEENSLAND.)
CHAPTER XVII. NEWS FROM ENGLAND.
AFTER vain attempts to find out anything about what had become of George, and inserting advertisements in all the leading colonial newspapers, Jack left it to time to solve, and re-
solve, turned to HUlingfoid. Poor Leah felt the fall ing away, and subsequent disappearance, of her younger brother deeply. But she hoped and expected te hear of or from him every day ; and neither Jack nor Duncairn cared to hint at a dreadful doubt that sometimes troubled them as to the reason 4>f his silence. The even tenor of life being once upset, For tune seemed determined to keep Jack on the move, for soon after his return a mail came in, bringing letters both from his aunt and uncle. He read his aunt'B first She told him how his cousin Philip had constantly fallen out with his father, until at last he had left, vowing never to return ; Squire Essingham, on his part, declar ing that he disowned him. Philip had, in a scene of recrimination, coolly told his father the true account of the old affair in Berlin, and told him that as he seemed so much displeased at his con duct, he had better get Jack to take his place. Squire Essingham was now in bad health, and his aunt begged that he would come back, and help her if he could to reclaim his cousin, and bring about another reconciliation. Although Philip had deserved no favor at his hands, she pleaded for his return on her own account,, and that of her husband's, to whom the doctors did not promise a much longer life. Jack read her sad letter twice over before he turned to his uncle's. It was short and charac teristic. He did not once admit that he had been has£y in his judgment, or shown any want of trust; but blamed Jack for not having told him the truth at once, and prevented him from remaining under a mistake for so many years. He wound up in a more cordial manner, and made the same request as his wife, that Jack would, if possible, pay a visit to England. Duncairn had long been in Jack's confidence, and when his partner showed him the letters, he urged him to comply with the request contained therein. He could be easily spared, everything was prospering, and, in fact, it was his duty ; so Jack saw it in the same light—and consented. So he started, promising to be back in twelve months. Duncairn rode down to Port Ariel with him ; and as Jack turned and waved his hat as a parting farewell to Leah, who with her two children stood watching them from the verandah a3 they lost sight -of the station, a strange, uanccountably sad feel ing came over him that made him very silent for the first ten miles. He went to Ilia mere to bid Mr. Frampton good-bye, and they walked down in the moonlight to stand for a while at Rachel's grave. When he got to Sydney, common courtesy required him to call and see Milly, who was so downcast when he told her of his immediate departure from the colony, that he could not help taking a warmer farewell than he intended. That evening, when poor Milly was making her fine eyes look very red, and feeling very dismal, and the setting sun was looking upon the bold headlands of Port Jackson, and the
* The eoDYrifht of " Jack Faringham " ha* .been pur ofaaMdirtfa pnjattwscC Tkt frmmlamUr toss the
■moke of the mail steamer fading in the distance, Leah was reading a letter written on dirty creased paper, and-signed " George Essingham." Chapter XVIII. OEOBQE GIVES NO MORI TROUBLE. Where tents and rough humpies, built of un barked saplings, were the prevailing styles of residence, and a short-sleeved flannel shirt and clay-stained moleskin trousers was the prevailing fashion of dress ; where men on the summit of mounds of earth were winding at windlasses, and drays in all directions were carting stone and wash-dirt—amongst all these surroundings, that told him that he was on the Q Gold field, Dußcaira urged his shying horse. He reached the main sheet, or what was supposed to be the main street, and singling out the largest and best-looking public-house, pulled up there, and intimated his wish to obtain accom modation for himself and paddocking for his horse*. "Which ia Jeffson's store?" he asked the man wli-> waa taking his saddles off. " I'll nh.w you if you'll step this way a little —there," he said, pointing out in the distance a tiny dwelling built of saplings, with a calico roof, " Do you boo—with a dead tree close alongside ?" "Yes." "Well, tlui'diV Jeffson's store was certainly one of the small est; and the proprietor did not seem to be bur dened with much trade. He was sitting on a bag of flour, reading a novel, when Dunoairn entered. He looked at his visitor, then at his scanty stock of rations and tools, as though wondering what such a swell apparition could be going to invest in. "Can you tell me, please," asked Duncairn, "if there is anybody of the name of George Brook camped nenr here." " Yes," said the man, " he's camped in that fly over there, and he pointed over Duncairn's shoulder to a tent fly stretched across a sapling, about a hundred yards away. "Thank you," said Duncairn. "Shall I find him there now, do you think ?" " Yes; he's down with the fever, and can't get about much, so you're pretty certain to find him in." Duncairn went over to the indicated spot, and stooping underneath the fly saw the person he was in search of asleep on the ground. With tangled hair, and an unhealthy flush on his cheek, breathing in a painful manner, uttering a low moan every now and then, one hand and arm outside the tumbled blue blanket that covered him, lay his brother-in-law, George Essingham. He did not like to disturb him, so going outside again, sat down on an inverted bucket at the entrance of the tent, to wait until he should awaken of himself. George's sleep did not hut long; he soon turned over restlessly, and, seeing a man seated outside, called out in a faint voice, "Is that you, Joe f" Not waiting for an answer he went on, "I wish you'd give me a drink ; I'm horrid thirsty." Duncairn got up and came into the tent. " George, my boy," he said, " I'm sorry to find you so ill." George looked up at him in a half frightened sort of way. " Leah got my letter then," he Mid," and Jeffson told you where I was camped." " Yes," replied Duncairn, giving him the pan nikan of water he had asked for, " you said in your note to enquire there for George Brook." " Yes, I remember I did. Where's Jack—why didn't he come V "Hehas gone to England to see your ancle there, who is very ill." " I wish he had known I was here—he might have taken me with him." " Why did'nt you tell us sooner where you were, George." " I was frightened of that Burton. They all said that if he once got a hold over a man it was a case with him; so I thought I'd come up to Hillingford, and went straight down to the wharf where there was a steamer just starting. I took a steerage passage to Port Ariel, but there were a lot of diggers on board who were coming up here, so when we landed I came up here with them instead. I meant to stop up here until the end of the year, and then tell you or Jack where I was ;but I got hard-up, and caught this low fever—and some days I seem pretty right, but just now I'm rather worse." It took George some time to tell this, for he spoke slowly and disiointly, but when he had finished he looked up at Duncairn with a relieved face. They sat talking till nearly sundown, then a heavy step waa heard approaching, and a man in a miner'B dress came and looked underneath the fly. " Good evening," he said, nodding cheerily to Duncairn. M Well, youngster, how are you f " I'm a little better, Joe, thank you. You see I've got a friend come to see me." "So much the better," said the other, bring ing bis good-natured face and burly frame under neath the calico. " This low fever brings a man down," he said, turning to Duncairn, "out he'll come round soon. Lord 1 I've seen more than half the camp down at once with it." While speaking he had stooped down and taken up a little bottle standing near George's bed. " Feel as though you could eat anything V he went on to the invalid. George said that he would try. " All right; I'll see if I can get the old wom»n up at the shanty to make you some sago. Now you must take your quinine," and he took some out of the bottle on the point of a penknife. He put it into a pannikan with a little water and some tartaric acid, and gave it to George, who swallowed it with a wry face. "I'll be down again Boon," said the visitor when this had been accomplished, and he left the tent, followed by Duncairn, who wished to ask him a few questions. "Well, I've known him about six weeks or so," said Joe ; "he pegged out a bit of ground just below our claim in Redman's Gully. But, bless you, he couldn't work. His hands got blistered, and he hasn't much pluck you see. He kept on stopping away from his claim until at last it was jumped. We shepherded it for him as long as we could, but we couldn't keep any- body out when he'd fairly forfeited it I saw that he wasn't fit for hard " yackering," and told
him he'd better try and get something to do in a store. But he got this fever on him, and he's low on it. " He's been foolish, poor boy," said Duncairn, " and ran away up here. He never let us know until the other day where he was." "Ah ! I thought that was it You see my mates and I have been looking after him since he's been bad. It isn't' much we could do, of course. "It was very good of you," said Duncairn, earnestly. " Not at all; I might want it myself some day, who knows. But you'd better come up to our hut and have supper, and see what's best to be done for him." Duncairn said that he would, if he would wait a few minutes for him. He went back, and told George, who seemed a little better, that he would not be gone long, and would see about getting better accommodation for him ; then he went with his new friend to a bark hut a short dis tance away, where he was camped. There were three of them there altogether, and when he spoke about getting a room for George at one of the public houses, Joe said, after • pause, " I wouldn't, if I were you. I'd bring him up here. He can have my bunk, and welcome, ana will be much quieter than he would be in r pub., with a lot of fellows always knocking about drinking. I know what it is when a fellow's rick." Duncaira thanked him heartily for the offer, which he thought it would be better to accept; and then asked if there was a doctor in the place. " There's a sort of a one," replied one ; " but I think he's on the burst just now. Anyhow, I'll go up the town and try and hunt him up for you." Duncairn and Joe went back to George with some sago that Joe had got made, but the sick boy scarcely cared to eat a spoonful of it. So they shifted him up to the hut, and installed him in Joe's bunk. In the course of the evening the doctor came, scarcely Bober. He looked at George's tongue, said something about the common kind of fever, and prescribed quinine and brandy. During the next two days George, who at first had seemed to rally a little at sight of a new face, got gradually weaker. He could not eat, and perpetual thirst was ever preying upon him. The night of the third day the three tenants of the hut were standing round the fire outside, talking in low tones, and Duncairn was sitting with George, who had been making him recount the particulars of Rachel's death. "She did not seem afraid to die?" asked George, earnestly. "No," said Duncairn. " She was always good, and I have been a trouble to everybody." " More to yourself, George ; any trouble you may have caused others has been long forgot ten." "If I don't get well, will you tell uncle that I didn't mean to commit any crime ? I thought that the bill would have been sent to him, and he'd have paid it when he saw how hard pushed I had been." " Don't think of that; that's all passed now." " Burton's dead, you say 1" " Yes, but you'd better not talk any more new, George." " Dear old Leah, I wish she was here. She was always so kind, and I should so like to see her once more." " Tiy and go to sleep now ; as soon as you're well enough to go to Hillingford Leah will nurse you." George dosed his eyes, still murmuring some thing, and Leah's name was the last word audible. He seemed to slumber quietly, and Duncairn rose cautiously and joined the others at the fire. After he had been there some time, Joe got up and said that lie would go and see how the youngster was gettiug on. He came back soon, and looked at Duncairn with a grave solemn face. Duncairn's lips formed the question, " What is it 1" though he uttered no sound. Joe took him by the arm, and they went into the hut together. The boy's face was calm, and peaceful. He looksd almost like his old self, before bad com panions and worse customs had ruined him. But he was dead. Had died without pain or struggle; and Duncairn, as he stooped over the body, thought of Leah's grief when he should have to tell her that this had been the end of " her boy," as she used to call him. The three good fellows, who had tended the sick lad so gently and kindly, went with Duncairn to see George buried. Aud when they had laid his body in the un sightly burying ground, it almost seemed to Dun cairn, as with a heavy heart he shook hands with them, that he was parting with old and tried friends. [WK.I. BS CONCLUDED IV OUR HEXT.)
Judo* Tdrpix, says the FndianapolU Newt, haa been reading a paper to the " Fiat Lux " Society on the origin of the phrase "grass widow," or rather " grace widow," for the first has no foundation in fact, and is simply a bar barism, or fungus, which has attached itself to the English language. "Grace widow" is the term fur one who becomes a widow by grace or favor, not of necessity, as by death, and origin ated in the earlier ages of European civilisation, when divorces were granted but seldom, and wholly by authority of the Catholic Church. When such decree was granted to a woman the Papal recoipt stated " Viduca de gratia," which, interpreted, is " widow of grace." In the law of the French it would read " Veuve de grace," which in England gives "widow of grace," or "grace widow," " veuve" being translated as "widow." Love and Butter.—A matter-of-fact philo sopher asserts that "love is to domestic life what butter is to bread—it possesses Kttle nourishment in itself, but gives to substantial a grand relish, without which they would be harder to swallow." Hardi.t Classical.—"Yes, you may come again next Sunday evening, Horace, dear; but " and Bhe hesitated. " What is it, darling ? Have 1 given you pain i" he asked, as she still remained silent "You didn't mean to, I'm sore," she responded: "but next time please don't wear one of those collars with the points taming outward ; they stick in one's cheqfr."