dammed torrent. His impatience made his mate open his eyes in grave
'I want to reach Tarrangower before noon to' morrow, Harry,' he said.
'Can it be done?'
'You could cover the distance in 'bout five hours on a decent horse. But
what's struck you, ole man?'
'The idea that I've been playing the melancholy fool. I've been
questioning life, bargaining with it like a suspicious huckster
- suspecting, doubting, rejecting, instead of opening wide my arms and
taking the good to me wherever it offered.'
'I dunno what you're drivin' at, Jim; but if it means you're goin' to
cheer up I'm all-fired glad to hear it. You've been as miserable as a
dingo in a springer since Eureka.'
'It means that, Harry. Can we get horses?'
'We - meanin' me too?'
'Yes; you'll come with me? I don't know the lay of the country, and I
'Oh, I'll go fast enough. You can get horses from Croker, but they'll
cost you a bite.'
This was on Saturday. Jim was in Tarrangower an hour before noon on
Sundays The first digger they met directed them to Mary Kyley's tent.
Mary was busy preparing dinner, but dropped everything, and rushed at the
visitors, half' smothering Jim in a motherly hug.
'Murder! you're looking peeky and thin, Jimmy!' she cried.
'Never mind me, Mrs. Ben; I'm all right. Where's Joy?'
'She's gone for a bit of a walk in the sun.'
'Could I find her?'
'Deuce take your impatience! This isn't flattering to me!'
'Harry will comfort you. I want Aurora, and I want her badly. If she
doesn't want me, you'd better have left me to die when I had the good
chance down there at Eureka, Mary Kyley.'
'That's good to hear. On my soul, I like the ring of it! Keep round the
bend of the hill to the left. You'll see her among the saplings.'
He found her within a few minutes. Seeing her in the distance, he ran
like a schoolboy, and arrived at her side breathless. She was sitting on
a log; her hat was at her feet. She was radiant with health and colour
again. It seemed to him that she had a peculiar affinity with the
sunshine. He sank on his knees, seizing her hands, speaking nothing,
seeking a verdict in her face. She slipped her hands from his and clasped
them about his neck, and her face sank down to his.
'Oh, ma bouthal, you have come back to me,' she murmured.
'Yes, I've come back, Joy he said hoarsely.
'And with the true light in eyes.'
'With my soul full of love for you, my Joy.'
'And the other?'
'There is no other! There never was another! There was a childish
waywardness, a summer madness - God knows what! But I know now Joy, that
you are mistress and master of me, that without you I am worthless. I
want you, my darling.'
'You have me! - you have me, Jim! Every beat of the heart of me!'
She pressed her face to his, and their first kiss had not the rapture of
that kiss. In it mingled the old sweet emotions, and new ones born of
sorrow that were sweeter still.
'I only understood one side of my love for you,' he said presently. 'I
had to be taught the rest in a hard school.'
'I knew you would come back to me, sooner or later. You have come soon.'
'You knew?' He looked at her wonderingly for a moment, but the surprise
passed. It only seemed strange that he had not recognised all along how
inevitable was his return. 'Now that I have come I go no more,' he said.
'I cannot spare you from my side. I want the ties. I would clamp you to
my heart with iron if I could.'
'Arrah! 'tis a happy girl I am, Jimmy,' she whispered. 'Hush! d'ye hear
the song in heart?'
He laughed at the brogue, and pressed his lips amongst her thick hair.
'I want you for my wife,' he said.
She clung to him closely in silence for a moment and then he raised her
gently and they walked back to the tent, hand in hand.
Nearly a year later Mr. and Mrs. Done were in Melbourne together when the
Petral sailed for England. Amongst the ship's passengers were Mrs. Donald
Macdougal, her two children, and Lucy Woodrow. Mrs. Macdougal, a wealthy
and attractive widow, had sold Boobyalla, and intended to make her home
in England. Lucy was still her companion, and, bidding them farewell, Jim
was glad to know that the girl was well and not unhappy.
Jim and Aurora followed the rushes for some years after their marriage,
and when they settled down in a substantial house at Ballarat, Done long
regretted the canvas walls and the stir and gaiety of the tented fields.
By this time Ballarat was a prim town of many churches and strong
Wesleyan proclivities, and Eureka had been justified by the concession of
nearly all that the diggers fought for. One-armed Peter Lalor was a staid
Parliamentarian and a stout Constitutionalist now, and the grave in which
Micah Burton and the other rebels lay buried was an honoured spot. But by
this time, too, new interests had been born into Done's life, new
existences had been incorporated with his own, and he had a quaint
fellowship with the youngsters, for in his heart remained a sneaking
delight in the folly that is the scorn of fools. There were people who
called Joy a hoyden at forty, but she retained the invincible soul of the
woman who laughs.