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Chapter XX.


MR STUBBLE'S oration was what is commonly called “a great success,” and was the talk of the town for many days. He was soon afterwards requested to deliver another address in behalf of some other useful institution; but he firmly declined the honour. Perhaps he had in mind the example of an influential neighbour of his in the country, who on one memorable occasion made a brilliant speech in the House of Assembly, which astonished every one present, foreigners as well natives; but he never made another speech. The reason for his subsequent silence was left to conjecture, for he was not so candid as Mr Stubble, who confessed to the second deputation that he had told them all he knew. No amount of persuasion could ever induce him to give another oration.

Mr Stubble still resides on his farm, and is much respected by all his neighbours. He works sufficiently to keep him in health, and he devotes a good deal of time to reading. His favourite books, after the Bible, are histories, biographies of great and good men, and other works of a solid, useful character. He was recently offered the honour of a seat on the bench, but he modestly declined it, on the plea that there were many gentlemen in the district better fitted for the office than himself. His farm is a good one, and he works it well; so it yields him a fair return for his labour. He is enabled to live in comfort, and to save a little money besides. Mrs Stubble is in good health and good spirits; and in various ways the happy pair strive to be useful in their neighbourhood.

Their son Bob lived with them for two years, and took the active superintendence of the farm, and in his leisure hours he diligently applied himself to his prescribed course of study. He kept up a regular correspondence with Sam Rafter, and at the end of a year Bob had made such good progress as to call for especial encomiums from his friend and monitor.

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Mrs Simon Goldstone and her uncle paid several visits to Mr Stubble's homestead at Unity Vale. On those happy occasions, Bob had always shown polite attention to his lady-guest: his modesty operated against his ever presuming to show more than that, for Lydia's riches seemed to place her high above his hopes. Perhaps she understood his diffidence—she had a large share of woman's wit—and she may have given him encouragement in some decorous way or other. Of that I am not certain; I cannot tell how it was managed (probably she helped him, as is usual in cases of the kind); but this I can record, that at the end of two years, Uncle Will's consent was asked, and was cheerfully granted; and soon afterwards Bob and Lydia were married. They are now living near to Sydney, in a quiet, unostentatious style, and are as happy as a pair of burgeré gars in a tree laden with ripe loquats. Uncle Will is living with them. His good old friend Simon left him a comfortable annuity, in token of his gratitude to the man who taught him the way to heaven.

The late Simon Goldstone spent much of the last days of his life in writing, and has left some valuable MSS., which may one day get into the printer's hands. Amongst them was an unfinished essay entitled “Advice to Parents on the Training of their Children,” in which he touchingly deplores the errors which he himself made in hoarding up wealth for his son, and neglecting his religious and moral culture; by which he reaped a harvest of sorrow for himself, and, worse than all, he bitterly feared his unhappy son would lose his soul.

Mrs Blunt died suddenly of apoplexy, and her property came into the possession of Bob Stubble as survivor of his late wife. It is not unlikely that Bob will have the honour of being the first Australian “Peabody,” if some other happy man does not make haste and forestal him in the plans which he is quietly maturing.

Dick Stubble was never heard of by his parents, who often sorrowfully longed to know what had become of him. It is well for them, however, that they did not know of his untimely fate. When he decamped from his home, he had led his friends to surmise that he had gone to the Bendigo diggings; but that was merely a ruse to prevent his real track being known, for he went in the opposite direction, towards Queensland. On his way he fell in with a gang of lawless young men who had taken to the bush, and for many months they kept that part of the country in a state of alarm. They

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committed many daring atrocities, and on two occasions fatally wounded persons who resisted their attacks. Eventually, however, all the members of the gang were captured by the police, and suffered the extreme penalty of the law. Dick had given an assumed name, and that is why his parents never knew of his terrible end.

Sam Rafter continues to advance both socially and intellectually. His business is very prosperous, and he is in a fair way of becoming a wealthy man. He has already had an intimation that he is looked upon as “the coming man” to represent a certain important constituency in the Victorian Parliament; but he has wisely resolved not to accept of any such responsible post until he is better qualified by mental culture and experience, and until he is in a position to attend faithfully to the duties which would devolve upon him, without neglecting his own business. He holds an office in the church to which he is united, and he takes an active part in temperance societies, bands of hope, ragged schools, penny readings, and other social reform movements.

Mr and Mrs Rowley have removed to Victoria, and are living in a nice cottage at Emerald Hill, not far from the residence of their daughter. If they do not make much noise in the world, they endeavour to show how Christians should live; and the example of a steady, consistent walk of faith is sometimes as effectual as more stirring ethical efforts, in inducing careless ones to seek to possess the Divine grace, which alone can produce such happy results.

Biddy Flynn is living with Mr and Mrs Bob Stubble, and is, at her earnest request, installed as nursemaid to their two children. Happy would it be for thousands of young Australians, who are now in little petticoats, if they had such judicious, tender nurses as Biddy. She not only attends to their material wants and wishes with almost a grandmother's fondness, but she is zealous for the purity and stamina of their young minds. Although she is as lively an old lass as there can be found in the colony, she is merry and wise when her children are near, and not a word reaches their quick little ears that their careful mamma would object to. Biddy never astounds their infantile reason with any such old-fashioned nursery nonsense as “The Cat and the Fiddle,” nor scares them into submission to arbitrary rules with ghastly legends of “Daddy Long-Legs,” or “Old Boggy.” But she has an inexhaustible stock of comical incidents which

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keen observation, through her eventful lifetime, has stamped on her memory; and her fertile fancy can dress them up into shapes highly amusing to her docile pupils; and “whin she is tired of invintin' true facts for 'em, she can read 'em no ind ov purty little stories an' lovely potery,” from the “Children's Friend,” and other illustrated books of that sterling character. It is her ambition to see them grow up a lady and gentleman: “an' shure she manes to tache the darlints all she knows about gintale manners; anyhow, she'll take care they don't larn no vulgar tricks at all. An' if they don't turn out ivery bit as illigant as Squire Bligh's childers, they shan't be able to say, by and bye, that the crayther who spoilt 'em was ould Biddy Flynn.”

If ten thousand of such faithful servants would speed across the sea, from the dear old lands at the antipodes, they would be gladly welcomed to our shores by all right-hearted colonists, whose proud aim it is to “ADVANCE AUSTRALIA.”