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fun for a few days-galloping about and around, and “cutting out," in the camp every day; feasting, and smoking, and singing, and story-telling, both in the cottage and the huts, with a modest allowance of drinking in the district around Hampden there was very little of that), by night. After a few days of this kind of work, Jack would go
forth proudly on the war-path with his stockman, Geordie Stirling, and a black boy, and in front of them a good draft of unusually well-bred fat cattle, in full route for the metropolis-a not very lengthened drive-during which no possible care by day or by night was omitted by Jack or his subordinates-indeed, they seldom slept, except by snatches, for the last ten days of the journey, never put the cattle in the yard for any consideration whatever, but saw them safely landed at their market, and ready for the flattering description with which they were always submitted to the bidding of the butchers.
This truly important operation concluded, Geordie and the boy were generally sent back the next day, and Jack proceeded to enjoy himself for a fortnight, as became a dweller in the wilderness who had conducted his enterprise to that point of success which comprehends the cheque in your pocket. How he used to enjoy those lovely genuine holidays, after his hard work ! for the work, while it lasted, was pretty hard. And, though Jack with his back to the fire in the club smoking-room, laying down the law about the “ Orders in Council or the prospects of the next Assembly Ball, did not give one the idea of a life of severe self-denial, yet neither does a sailor on shore. And as Jack Tar, rolling down the street, “ with courses free,” is still the same man who, a month since, was holding on to a spar (and life) at midnight, reefing the ice-hard sail, with death and darkness around for many a league ; so our Jack, leading his horse across a cold plain, and tramping up to his ankles in frosted mud, the long night through, immediately behind his halfseen drove, was the same man, only in the stage of toil and endurance, preceding and giving keener zest to that of enjoyment. Our young squatter was a very sociable fellow, and had plenty of friends. He wished ill to no man, and would rather do a kindness to any one than not. He liked all kinds of people for all kinds of opposite qualities. He liked the “fast” men, because they were often clever and generally had good manners. There was no danger of his following their lead, because he was unusually steady; and besides, if he had any obstinacy it was in the direction of choosing his own path. He liked the savants, and the musical celebrities, and the “good” people, because he sympathized with all their different aims or attainments. He liked the old ladies because of their experience and improving talk; and he liked, or rather loved, all the
young ladies, tall or short, dark or fair, slow, serious, languishing, literary—there was something very nice about all of them. In fact, Jack Redgrave liked every body, and everybody liked him. He had that degree of amiability which pro ceeds from a rooted dislike to steady thinking, combined with strong sympathies. He hated being bored in any way himself, and tried to protect others from what annoyed him so especially. No wonder that he was popular.
After two or three weeks of town life, into which he managed to compress as many dinners, dances, talks, flirtations, rides, drives, new books, and new friends, as would have lasted any moderate man a year, he would virtuously resolve to go home to Marshmead. After beginning to sternly resolve and prepare on Monday morning, he generally went on resolving and preparing till Saturday, at some hour of which fatal day he would depart, telling himself that he had had enough town for six months.
In a few days he would be back at Marshmead. Then a new period of enjoyment commenced, as he woke in the pure fresh bush air—his window I need not state was always open at night—and heard the fluty carols of the black and white birds which“ proclaim the dawn," and the lowing of the dairy herd being fetched up by Geordie, who was a preternaturally early riser.
A stage or two on the town side of his station lived Bertram Tunstall, a great friend of his, whose homestead he always made the day before reaching home. They were great cronies.
Tunstall was an extremely well-educated man, and had a far better head than Jack, whom he would occasionally lecture for want of method, punctuality, and general heedlessness of the morrow.
Jack had more life and energy
than his friend, to whom, however, he generally deferred in important matters. They had a sincere liking and respect for one another, and never had any shadow of coldness fallen
upon their friendship. When either man went to town it would have been accounted most unfriendly if he had not within the week, or on his way home, visited the other, and given him the benefit of his new ideas and experiences.
Jack accordingly rode up to the “Lightwoods" half an hour before sunset, and seeing his friend sitting in the verandah reading, raised a wild shout and galloped up to the garden gate.
Well, Bertie, old boy, how serene and peaceful we look. No wonder those ruffianly agricultural agitators think we squatters never do any work, and ought to have our runs taken away and given to the poor. Why, all looks as quiet as if everything was done and thought about till next Christmas, and as if you had been reading steadily in that chair since I saw you last.”
“Even a demagogue, Jack, would hesitate to believe that because a man read occasionally he didn't work at all. I wish they would read more, by the way; then they wouldn't be so illogical. But I really haven't much to do just now, except in the garden. I'm a store-cattle man, you know, and
my lot being well broken in“You've only to sit in the verandah and read till they
That's the worst of our life. There isn't enough for a man of energy to do--and upon my word, old fellow, I'm getting tired of it.”
“ Tired of what ?” asked his friend, rather wonderingly ; “ tired of your life, or tired of your bread and butter, because the butter is too abundant ? Oh, I see, we are just returned from town, where we met a young lady who
“Not at all; not that I didn't meet a very nice girl
“ You always do. If you went to Patagonia, you'd say, • 'Pon my word I met a very nice girl there, consideringher hair wasn't very greasy, she had good eyes and teeth, and her skin-her skins, I mean—had not such a bad odour when you got used to it.'
You're such a very tolerant fellow."
“You be hanged; but this Ellen Middleton really was a nice girl, capital figure, nice face, good expression you know, and reads--so few girls read at all nowadays.”
“I believe they read just as much as or more than ever; only when a fellow takes a girl for good and all, to last him for forty or fifty years, if he live so long, she'd need to be a very nice girl indeed, as you say.”
“Don't talk in that utilitarian way; one would think you had no heart; but it does seem an awful risk, doesn't it? Suppose one got taken in, as you do sometimes about horses 'incurably lame,' or ' no heart,' like that brute Bolivar I gave such a price for. What a splendid thing it would be if one were only a Turk, and could marry every year and believe one was acting most religiously and devoutly."
Come, Jack, who is talking unprofitably now? Something's gone wrong with you evidently.
Here comes dinner.'
After dinner the friends sat and smoked in the broad verandah, and looked out over the undulating grassy downs, timbered like a park, and at the blue starry night.
“I really was in earnest,” said Jack, « when I talked about being tired of the sort of life you and I, and all the fellows in this district, are leading just now.”
“Were you though ?” asked his friend ; “ what's amiss with it?”
“Well, we are wasting our time, I consider, with these small cattle stations. No one has room for more than two or three thousand head of cattle. And what are they ?”
“Only a pleasant livelihood," answered his friend, "including books, quiet, fresh air, exercise, variety, a dignified occupation, and perfect independence, plus one or two thousand a year income. It's not much, I grant you ; but I'm a moderate man, and I feel almost contented.”
“What's a couple of thousand a year in a country like this?” broke in Jack, impetuously, “while those sheepholding fellows in Riverina are making their five or ten upon country only half or a quarter stocked. They have only to breed up, and there they are, with fifty or a hundred thousand sheep. Sheep, with the run given in, will always be worth a pound ahead, whatever way the country goes."