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Chapter XXIX. “Where the Weary Cease to Trouble and the Wicked are at Rest.”

IT was late the night following when Inspector Wilmore drove into Kalgourlie from Coolgardie, and put up at the “Chester Hotel.”

A quiet and amiable man of about forty-six was Inspector Wilmore, with sallow skin, clear, grey eyes, and close-cropped, dark brown beard. He was well known over the gold fields, as he often came on the search after missing sheep. He was temperate and methodical in his habits, yet could be capital company when he liked.

Rosa had retired when he arrived, therefore Sarah did the honours, and saw the chef about his supper, then she returned to have a chat with her old friend while his supper was being prepared.

Wilmore had been here several times since the “Chester Hotel” opened, so that Sarah, although slightly uneasy at his presence so soon after the visit of Jack, did not attach too much personal importance to it. Wilmore was generally pretty communicative with her, as he believed in her cleverness and discretion, while he honoured the unflinching stand she had made during the past three years. He knew her, as only Bob Wallace now did in this place, and he had shown himself a good friend before now.

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“Well, Mr. Wilmore, and what has brought you up this time?” Sarah asked, as she gave him his sherry and bitters.

Inspector Wilmore looked through his glass at the lamp for a moment, and then he suddenly turned his eyes on her and gave her a searching glance. Sarah in an instant was on the alert, and knew that she was being read—and warned by her friend with that look. Folding her hands over each other on the counter, she met his glance steadily, and waited quietly on his coming words, her heart standing still and all her faculties attentive.

They were both subtle students of human nature, and were reading one another in that mutual swift glance. What he read made him resolve on a sacrifice, the hardest to a conscientious criminal-hunter. What she read filled her heart with gratitude and terror. At that moment she could have laid down her life for Inspector Wilmore.

“How is Alice?” he asked after a pause.

“Much better, thank you,” replied Sarah with shining eyes.

“Past all danger of a relapse, I suppose?”

“Oh, yes; she has been out several times.”

“I'm glad to hear it.” This was said heartily, then, with a slight shrug of his shoulders, he continued his queries, which were to her as plain as directions. “Mrs. Chester, I suppose, has gone to bed?”


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“Good. She believes in having her beauty-sleep, the giddy girl. Good sherry this, I think. I'll have another glass, but without the bitters.”

As he was sipping his second supply he said indifferently: “You were asking what brought me up here, friend Sarah. Nothing that I expect to make much kudos or coin out of. A red herring trailed over an old scent I guess it will turn out to be. An affair that happened in Sydney some months ago, which will give me a long ride to-morrow for nothing, so I reckon it will be with me as it was with the Duke of York, I'll have my ride there and back again. No news yet about Mr. Chester, is there?”

“None,” replied Sarah huskily, as she clutched at the counter to keep herself from falling.

“Try a glass of this same sherry, Sarah; you look tired-out, poor girl. I reckon you've been nursing and working too hard lately,” said Wilmore kindly.

“Thank you, Mr. Wilmore,” answered the barmaid gratefully, accepting his suggestion and pouring out some wine from the decanter into a small glass. Her hand trembled as she poured out the liquor, and a good deal of the contents were spilt as she raised the glass to her dry lips, but she set it down steadily enough. The wine had done her good.

“Your supper is ready now, Mr. Wilmore.”

“And I am ready for it, and for my bed as well. Order me a good staying dromedary for ten o'clock to-morrow morning. I won't start

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before that hour, as I need a proper sleep to-night. I'll have a bottle of that same sherry with me. Nothing could better that tipple for a long journey. By Jove, there is the moon rising, and making Kalgourlie look almost pretty. Good night, old pal, and take care of little Alice.”

“Good night, Mr. Wilmore.”

She put out her white slim hand and grasped his closely, then she turned to another customer, who happened to be Bob Wallace, while Wilmore went into the dining room.

“You want me, Sarah?” asked Wallace in a low voice, as he bent over the counter.

“Yes, Bob,” she answered in a hurried whisper. “I must go to-night and take Alice with me. Wilmore has given me ten hours' start of him. Can you lend me your swiftest camel?”

“Yes. I'll go and get all ready now, and wait for you outside the town. Give me a bottle of brandy and some wine.”

“I'll bring them with me, and join you in an hour's time.”

Bob Wallace drank his champagne slowly, then, lighting a fresh cigar, he strolled leisurely outside to the moonlight, where the camels, dromedaries, and Afghan drivers were lying, and making the township look picturesque. The canvas tents and Hessian huts gleamed pale under the silver lustre and cast brown, deep shadows over the sands. Paraffin lamps and coloured lanterns burned richly inside the open Japanese shanties, where sights and sounds of debauchery helped the picturesqueness,

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and blent with the doleful shrieking of the desert-ships. Ghostly gum trees started from the waste, with the skeletons of the mine scaffolding, making altogether a weird and foreign-looking picture.

Bob Wallace knew where to find his own camels and drivers, therefore he steered towards that quarter, and gave his orders; then, while the drivers were getting ready for the approaching journey, Bob went to the store and purchased the needful provisions.

Sarah meanwhile saw Wilmore safely to his room, and looked after the closing of the hotel, then, when all these duties were over, she went to her own room and got herself and her child ready.

At last all was quiet inside the hotel, although the street outside was by no means silent, nor would it be all through the night. Wrapped up, however, warmly, for the night was chilly, she led her little girl from the side door, and with hasty steps passed out of the town to the point where her friend, Bob, waited for her with his three most valuable animals and most discreet of drivers.

Onward through the night they travelled at full speed, Sarah and her child on one beast, Bob on another, and the driver in advance with the provisions.

They went in line—Bob's dromedary bringing up the rear, so that there was not much opportunity for conversation, except at such places as they stopped to rest. Even then they did not converse much, for Sarah's heart was too full of gratitude

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and sorrow for her companion, and his too doleful, for words. Alice slept most of the way, wrapped up in warm rugs, and lulled by the cradle-like motion of these shambling, but soft-footed, enduring and swift animals, who have found a home in the western wilds of Australia, and made it a possible land to journey over.

Bob Wallace was only an ordinary type of the gold-finding element. A cynical story-teller and hard imbiber of spirituous fluids. Ready to plunge into a swimming time of it in London or Paris. Keen as a vulture where speculation or adventure were concerned. Sceptical on religious questions, and dubious concerning questions of morality, virtue or humanity at large. He had made his pile, therefore was placed beyond the necessity of plundering, yet he had no serious scruple about shaking hands, drinking, or dining with a plunderer, whether he was on the Stock Exchange, in Parliament, or only carrying on a small game on his own private account. In fact, he was not unlike the Great Social Reformer in his ideas of associating with publicans and sinners.

He enjoyed champagne, three-star brandy, special whisky and mineral waters. He likewise preferred a dinner at the “Savoy,” or the “Maison Dorée,” to tinned meat, for his digestive organs were still in good order, and he was able to sleep calmly through the night, after a heavy club evening, without waking up at four o'clock in the morning and thinking of his sins. He could also rise and enjoy a good breakfast without a preliminary

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vomit, no matter what the night before had been, and Remorse, as yet, did not peck, raven-like, at his liver. In fact, as yet, “Carter's Little Liver Pills” possessed no attraction for him, while saline draughts were not to be compared to a whisky and soda.

But, while enjoying all these gifts of our beneficent civilization, he could take to condensed water and tinned meats without much regret. He wasn't a man to whine over misfortune or hard lines any more than did the other adventurers of his class, nor did the possession of gold wake up any particular humanitarian, philanthropic or moral responsibilities. If a chum needed a five-pound note or a hundred, he shelled them out. If any unfortunate beggars appealed to him, whether male or female, he didn't stop to investigate their merits or virtues. He chucked them the shilling or the sovereign without saying afterwards, “What a good fellow am I.”

In fact, Bob Wallace was a very ordinary sort of man of the Californian or Westralian type of diggers, who was as ready to assist a thief or a demi-rep if he was interested in them, as he was to help one of the unfortunate redeemed. Readier perhaps, as he didn't believe in parsons or their ways.

He didn't consider he was doing anything noble, self-sacrificing, or virtuous in helping Sarah to meet her housebreaker lover. He was dreadfully down in the mouth because he had to run away with her for another man instead of on his own

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account. But he recognised that this fellow had prior claims to the woman he adored. He knew that nothing else than Jack would make her happy, and he was interested enough in her welfare now to make him regard the riches of Ophir as dross compared to a grateful thought from Sarah. He had had his innings and lost the game, and he wasn't going to act mean, no matter how much he suffered by the loss.

All through the night he watched the dromedary in front of him with its precious burden. He was looking at her now for the last time, and bidding her a long farewell under the moonlight, and these with other thoughts kept him subdued and silent.

In the early morning they rested and had breakfast together; in a couple more hours they would be at Berrima Mountain. The Afghan had fed his animals and himself, and now lay looking skyward and smoking a cheroot. Alice had fallen asleep on the sands after her meal, and the pair were together silently watching the breaking of the day.

“Bob, I can never forget you, you have done for me what no woman can forget—and I have nothing to give you in return.”

“Oh, yes, you have, Sarah. Give me a lock of your purple hair to set with my gold, and a photo of yourself and Alice to—pray before when I am that way inclined. That'll do for me when I get a bit hipped.”

Sarah seized his brown hand and kissed it passionately,

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then loosening one of her long tresses she said:

“Cut off what you want, Bob, for it's little you ask for all you have done.”

“D'ye mind me biting it off, Sarah? My teeth are as sharp as a knife at present.”

“Certainly not, Bob—my brother.”

“Ah,” he grunted as he stooped forward, and separating a sable tress, began gnawing it through with his teeth.

He was leaning over her left shoulder with the tress end trailing out of his mouth, while she glanced sideways at him with brimming eyes. His teeth were sharp, yet it took a little grinding to get through that massive tress.

“I wish to God, Bob, that I could have made you happy.”

“Don't—for Christ's sake, don't! Sarah—say words like these. Give me one kiss, and I'll try to content myself with that.”

She turned like a panther and flung her arms round his neck, and then their lips met for an instant only; when they withdrew their faces, each cheek was wet with the tears which had burst from the hot eyes. Sarah wiped that moisture away with her handkerchief, but Bob left his to soak in and dry.

Jack Milton received them at the camp hospitably, and, when he heard the news, at once held a consultation with his mates.

Barney, the Professor and the captain decided to flit at once, but the others decided to hang on

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and look after the concern. Therefore, after a hurried lunch while the caravan was packing, they set off towards the schooner.

The parting of Bob Wallace and Sarah was of a formal character, merely a few bottles of champagne shared round—some good wishes—a shake and a waving of hands. Then they were off—Jack, his child and future wife; while Bob Wallace remained to look over the mine, and arrange about its success. He had taken pretty heavy shares in it, therefore he was within his rights to be on the spot.

He was there when Inspector Wilmore came in on the following day, and replied to all that investigator's questions with discretion. The pair rode back to Kalgourlie mutually pleased with each other.

My modern yarn is for the present over. All the characters are still to the fore and doing well.

Mrs. Rosa Chester is thriving and has secured a fresh manageress. She has not yet applied for her second divorce, for she is doing well enough without.

Anthony Vandyke Jenkins is coining money as a mining expert and arbitrator. His enemy Bob Wallace has returned again to England. The Berrima and Lock Up Mines are things to conjure with, on the Stock Exchange and elsewhere.

Arthur Chester is still at large, and Inspector Wilmore is looking after other criminals who are constantly springing up, while fresh “Swampers”

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are rushing to the field. Westralia is the land, at present, of golden possibilities.

In a certain part of the globe—and I am not going to say where, as this is an extremely up-to-date romance—although Bob Wallace knows—a little colony are living comfortably and honestly, respected by all who supply them with the comforts of life since they can meet their responsibilities.

Jack is there with his wife Sarah, and their child. The Psychometrist Mortikali is there and appreciated for his occult powers. Barney is there and all the rest of them, and if mosquitoes predominate, and quinine is required as a tonic, at least that bugbear of civilization, the detectives, have no chance of extradition.

They are all happy and virtuous in that paradise “where the weary cease to trouble, and the wicked are at rest.”

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