A boy friend passes, astride a sorry-looking nag.
Him she hails enthusiastically, at first-till the recollection of her new importance comes home to her, whereupon she checks the effusiveness of her greetings, because now she is a person of substance, albeit small.
She owns property, horse property, the only property of value in that region- and thoroughbred at that! None of the boys of her acquaintance even had the privilege of occasionally riding such a horse as she now owned, absolutely, as her own. “ Comin’ to the party next week?” queried the boy, reining up. “I don’t know yet,” was the thoughtful reply. “I’ll get yer the loan of a horse all right,” pleaded the youngster. The girl’s eyes dilated and her bosom swelled.
There was the ineffable conceit of the property-owner in her reply: “Thank you: I have my own.” “Where d’jer get it?” asks the boy in surprise. “Uncle Jim gave it to me,” said the girl, with a great affectation of unconcern–”the chestnut–the fast chestnut–you know it.
It belongs to me, now.” The boy suddenly realises that this sudden accession of wealth has placed a big gulf between him and the young lady.
Hopeless now for him to aspire to a place in her somewhat wild affections-she, the owner of horse property worth anything up to a hundred pounds or two.
So he rides disconsolately away. For the horse is everything in the Kelly country-It is the medium of exchange, the root of all temptation, the outward and visible evidence of respectability, and position, and means.
By his horse is a man judged.
And lucky be he reckoned who, even in these days of sublime conformity with the principles of law and order, takes a gold horse into that country-and takes it out again. But up in the doorway of the rough slab cottage a gaunt woman, spent with the grief of a life of dire misfortune, is left to dree her world of woe.
No brightness can come to silver the cloud of gloom that, mingling with the approaching shadow of death, weighs down her spirit in despair unto the earth.
For her there is no hope of earthly happiness any more.
For her the future is all black and dismal as her life has been.
Patiently, and with the quiet resignation of despair , she sits at the doorway of the hovel, the tired, shrunken face bowed down upon the poor thin bosom, looking downwards into things not visible to any but herself.
May God, in his great mercy send her peace! LIVING DOWN THE FAMILY DISGRACE. “You want to find Jim Kelly? Well, you’re just in luck.
Its seldom that he’s around here for more than a day or two in months, but he’s about somewhere now.
Here, Joe; Jim Kelly’s around here somewhere.
I saw him.
Just get around and find out what he’s about.” It was the landlord of the Glenrowan Hotel who was talking.
And it was to the pressman from the Sydney “Sun” that he spoke.
So Joe, being handy man at the hotel, and not given to questioning orders, set out on his quest.
He was away some time.
But he returned with news.
His clothing was soaked, and his boots oozed water—for the rain still fell steadily, and with the evident purpose of keeping up all day. Joe reported that the eldest male survivor of the famous Kelly family was drafting sheep in one of the back paddocks, and that we could see him there in half an hour or so.
We decided to wait. Certainly there is nothing to attract one out of doors—no sound but the swish and patter of rain.
The air is full of moisture.
The lofty heights on the further side of the railway, the famous Morgan’s Look-out amongst them—are invisible—they have not been seen for days, the people say.
Clouds envelop them and roll heavily along their steep wooded slopes.
Down to the foothills are banks of watery mist.
The old battle-ground—on which once stood Jones’s Hotel, the scene of the final catastrophe to the Kelly’s—is for the most part under water.
So are the streets.
And still it rains. There is no prospect of it ceasing, so we presently go in quest of Mr.
James Kelly, braving the elements.
In the bush one must not take any notice of “just a rain,” because it is considered effeminate to do so.
Rain is sent for the good of man.
It is falling now, a veritable dew from Heaven, upon a land parched with a long drought.
And rain, in such circumstances, one cannot have too much of, and should not strive to avoid—even though it soaks through all one’s clothing and runs down chillingly into one’s boots. “Good fellow, Jim Kelly,” remarks Joe, as we swish-swash through a partially submerged paddock. “People round here have a lot of respect for him.
The way he looks after his mother and his sisters’ children is more than most men would do.
And I’ll say this for him—there’s not a man more trusted in all the country than what he is.
Mind that barbed wire—there’s a wider panel a bit ahead—that’s right—it isn’t far, now.
But—you’ll find Jim all right—all honest and all white too.
That’s him, over at the bottom of that paddock—tall man with the black whiskers.” Then Joe lifts up a voice of no weak calibre, and sends a cooee or two cutting through the mist of stillness.
And out, upwards, from the mist, comes striding Jim himself. THE BUSHMAN. There is a species of gravity of aspect common to all who live lonely lives in the wilderness.
It is a gravity induced by the society, much thought—much introspective communion, varied by little or no communication with one’s fellow-man.
It is the gravity that goes hand-in-hand with loneliness, reflecting grimly the dreadful silence of the wilderness, picturing in its outward expression the solemnity of the bush’s vasty solitude’s.
One sees that gravity deeply stamped upon the face of Jim Kelly as he comes forward to the fence where we await him.
But there is more than the sombre influence of the bush life behind it.
This man has been a bushman from his boyhood.
His work—he is a drover now—takes him away from human habitations often for weeks at a time.
His horse and his dogs are his only companions on these long excursions, and it would be idle to look for aught save gravity on the face of a man who lived a life like that.
But in Jim Kelly’s grave face there is, besides, the unmistakable mark of a whole life’s sorrow. Tall beyond the average—close upon 6ft., indeed—gaunt of figure, and spare of frame, he is a man who would claim a second look at least from any who passed him on highway or in city.
There is an unfathomable something in the grave dark eyes that speaks to the beholder of much lying behind that inscrutable and Sphinx-like face, and there is kindliness in the expression of the face also—a kindliness that bids men trust in this man as one who, having appointed that most merciless and strict of all judges of good and evil, himself, to see that he does that which is right by all men, needs no other surveillance.
This is the face of a man who certainly may be trusted.
Quiet, self-confidence is there, knowledge and experience are clearly delineated.
But the dominant characteristic is still sorrow—sorrow that is not untinged with shame.
For the years pass slowly, and the memory of man is long when the transgressions of a fellow man are in question.
But 30 years of hard, unselfish, lonely work, often in positions of great trust, have surely expiated the indiscretions of this grave man’s wild and untaught youth! In the minds of all who know him this is so at all events.
For the man is respected, looked up to, and trusted throughout the length and breadth of the country.
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