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9. Chapter IX.

The train passed through Kilmeny at half-past eight in the morning. Ten minutes before it came in, Trevaskis bought a third-class ticket to Adelaide. There were several men in the compartment he entered, two of them miners, who had come down from Broken Hill. One of these Trevaskis recognised as a man he had discharged from the Colmar Mine three weeks previously for insubordination. He was an inveterate talker, whether at work or play, and kept up his reputation on this occasion with unstinted energy. His companion was much more reticent, and responded for the most part by an occasional grunt. On one topic, however, the silent miner was moved to express himself with confident vigour. This subject was the mine in which he had been working, one that had of late risen high in popular favour.

"Pay dividends, indeed!" he exclaimed scornfully. "Not for a couple of years to come. There's too much lead and too little silver, and that will soon be well known. Mark my words, the shares will be down with a bang before you're two weeks older."

Trevaskis, leaning back in a corner of the compartment next one of the windows, with his noteslouch hatnote pulled well over his face, seemed to have fallen fast asleep soon after he got into the carriage. But these observations regarding Block Twenty were not thrown away on him. He did not utter a word, and hardly changed his position during the course of the journey.

It wanted a few minutes to one when the train stopped at Bowden-on-the-Hill. This is within a quarter of an hour's walk of Hindmarsh. Trevaskis made for the railway-station there, and asked one of the guards the nearest way to Bendigo Row.note The man asked in what street. This Trevaskis did not know, only that it was near the railway-station.

"Hi, young shaver, come here!" cried the guard to a lad of nine

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or ten, who was dawdling about the platform. "Do you know where Bendigo Row is?"

Yes, the boy knew. Gussy Heinemann's mother lived there. Then Trevaskis told him if he showed him the way he would give him sixpence, and, thanking the guard, he followed his guide. They crossed a street, and went up another for a few minutes in a westerly direction till they came to a narrow lane. The first row of little stone cottages was Bendigo Row.

"noteThere isn't nobody living there," said the boy, when Trevaskis stood at the door of No. 4.

"I know that," said Trevaskis, fumbling in his pocket for the key. "This is my house just now, though I didn't quite know where it was. And if you want to earn another sixpence, you can wait here a little and show me the way to the branch of the National Bank that's in Hindmarsh."

The boy assented with a joyful grin. As a matter of fact, the bank was almost within sight.note Five minutes later Trevaskis was inside it, waiting to see the manager, having left all that the carpet-bag contained in No. 4, except the gold. He found only a youth in charge, who looked wonderingly at the hairy-faced old Bushman when he asked to see the manager in a gruff Cornish voice, and replying laconically, "Won't be in for a quarter of an hour," resumed his work at a tall desk. It was evidently the slack time of the day, for no other customer came in while Trevaskis waited. He sat at a little ink-stained table on a stiff leathern chair, trying to read the daily newspaper that lay before him. But now that his journey was over, and his purpose so nearly accomplished, an indescribable feeling of uneasiness took possession of him. For the first time the thought flashed across him that Dunning, for aught he knew, might have used the disguise he now wore in disposing of gold at this very bank. He felt tempted to go away without waiting for the manager, and walk across to noteone of the North Adelaide branch notebanks.

But as he was on the point of acting on this the manager returned.

"You buy gold, I suppose?" he said shortly, putting his bag on the counter.

"Yes, anything up to a ton," answered the manager jocosely.

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"Have you come down from the Broombush Creek diggings?" he added, as Trevaskis opened the carpet-bag.

But to this the silvery-bearded Bushman made no reply. He took out the nuggets one after the other, without pausing or taking any notice of the wondering admiration of the manager and his clerk.

"I make it five hundred noteand forty hounces," he said briefly, when the whole lay in a yellow, glistening heap on the counter.

On being weighed and tested, the gold was found to be a few pennyweights over this.

"I expect you were in the field some time before this rush took place?" said the manager, looking at Trevaskis narrowly.

"Don't 'ee fret about me, sir, but do 'ee just figure out 'ow much this coom to at £3 18s. 6d. a hounce," answered Trevaskis, on which the manager laughed, and put him down as a regular old Cornish digger, of the bluff, outspoken type.

"Do you consider it so pure as to be worth that much?"note he said, turning over a large nugget notespecked here and there with quartz.

"I knows it; but ef you're in any doubt––"

"I'll give you £3 18s. an ounce."

"Well, I'm pushed for time. I make you a gift o' the sixpennies," answered Trevaskis curtly.

"How will you take the money?"

"One hundred twenty-pound notes–the rest in fivers and silver."

Trevaskis counted over the notes with slow deliberation, and then crushed them into an inner pocket in the carpet-bag, nodded brusquely to the manager, and walked away. When he got into the sunlight and the fresh air, he was astonished to feel a momentary sensation of numbness creeping over him. It was the lassitude of excessive fatigue, of which he had until then been unconscious. There was a ragged-looking little square near, with seats here and there under the trees. He sat on one of these, and for a little time he revelled in a drowsy, luxurious feeling, in which weariness and a sense of triumphant success were curiously mingled. All his limbs ached with fatigue, and his eyes felt so heavy that he could scarcely keep them open. Yet all the time the blood was coursing swiftly in his veins, and his heart was

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beating vehemently. There was plenty of time for him to rest and indulge in the myriad plans that floated hazily through his mind. The evening train, by which he would be supposed to have come, did not reach town till nine, or after.

But the day did not seem long to him. On the way back to No. 4 he passed a little general store, at which he bought some tea and sugar, a loaf of bread, a mug, and half a pound of butter. He gathered up some chips and sticks in the little back-yard, got a billy full of water from the tap, and made himself some tea.

As he sat eating and drinking in his curious solitude, in the dim light he admitted by half opening one of the shutters, his eye suddenly fell on some gilt lettering on the mug he had bought. He read the words, "For a good boy," and suddenly burst into loud laughter. Yet the next moment the grotesque irony of the thing made him reflect with quickened perception on the contrast between his secret actions and the place he held in the world's regard. A justice of the peace, an ex-member of Parliament, the son-in-law of a leading doctor–what could this man have to do with a vagabond skulking about in disguise, disposing of stolen gold?

The thought came home to him still more acutely when he sat at breakfast next morning with his wife and children. He had managed everything without a slip. Strolling across from Hindmarsh on the previous night, he reached the Adelaide railway-station, just as the northern train came in, and mingling with the throng of passengers, he in a few minutes obtained his portmanteau, and placed the carpet-bag in one of its compartments as he drove to his own house in a cab.

"Zoo won't do away no moe, pappy, will notenoo?" said a blonde-headed little boy of three, who was mounted beside him on a high chair.

After all, would not that be best?–leave his weary, hateful exile at the mine, and put notethis money, of which he thought now in its hiding-place with a sort of abhorrence, into a decent-sized farm near town, and work the land for a living, like an honest man who had no cause to be ashamed in the presence of his prattling little ones. As he looked over the morning paper he noticed a place which he knew well advertised to be let on easy terms. A

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farm of two hundred acres, with a large orchard and orangery, and a comfortable eight-roomed house, a few miles beyond Norwood. He determined to go and have a look at the property in the course of a day or two.

After breakfast he went to the Exchangenote with his bundle of notes subdivided in a roomy pocket-book. He had explained to his wife on arriving, that it was business connected with the share market which had suddenly brought him to town.

"I hope you will make a lot of money out of it, whatever it is," she now said, as he went out, with that vague belief in the money-making power of shares, universal in communities largely bitten with gambling in mines.note

"People are making such a lot of money on "Change lately," added Mrs. Trevaskis, in the regretful tone of one who has been on the losing side. "There is Winny Berger's husband, who helped to float a silver company noteat Beltana.note He made over £3,000, and now the shares are worth absolutely nothing. Winny was so awfully delighted about his selling out just at the right moment. She ordered a dress from Worth, and has gone to the Melbourne Cup."note

"I expect, my dear, the people who bought her husband's worthless shares are not quite so pleased," said Trevaskis, smiling rather sardonically.

"Oh, well, that is their look-out," answered his wife indifferently; and then, with renewed vivacity: "The Bergers are putting a new wing to their house–a ball-room and conservatory–I was over it the other day with Winny. The whole of this wretched little house would go inside the ball-room."

"Well, I'll consult Moses & Co. Perhaps they'll put me in the way of jewing the public," said Trevaskis, as he went out.

Whether he jewed the public much or little, the fact remained that before his week's leave of absence expired, Trevaskis had, by buying Block Twenties on Tuesday and selling them on Thursday, added £700 to his money. By this time he had abandoned all thought of the farm with the orchard and orangery. The bare mention of the project had filled his wife with disdainful horror. "A farm! a place with pigs and cows, and sunbonnets and bad seasons!" she ejaculated a little incoherently,

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as if the latter was a commodity laid on like gas or water, wherever agriculture was concerned. "It's bad enough for you to be managing a mine away from home," she went on, "and our furniture getting spoiled in this poky little house, with one general servantnote and an incompetent nurse; but to go on a wretched bit of land, and sell apples and oranges––"

"You speak as though I had asked you to go round with a donkey cart, full of fruit and a pair of scales!" retorted Trevaskis, whose nerves had been so much strained by his recent experiences, that he was unable to listen to his wife's unreasoning querulousness with his accustomed forbearance. On this she burst into tears. She had been trying to bear up as well as she could, she said, in a voice broken with emotion. What with five young children and a small poky house of six rooms, where part of the furniture was being spoiled, and the rest ruined in a warehouse; with a general servant notewho invariably spoiled the gravy, and a young nurse who was always on the point of tipping the perambulator over; and now on notetop of it all to be taunted in this way–and so forth, and so forth.

"She will never know a contented day again till we have a big house and servants and a carriage once more," thought Trevaskis, and these biting ambitions accorded but too well with his own. The addition made by his lucky investment in Block Twenties to the proceeds of the stolen gold merely served to strengthen his fixed determination to secure the rest of the hidden treasure. His thoughts were constantly reverting to this subject, and to the obstacles that had to be surmounted. . . He would have to work entirely by night in retorting the gold. As for disposing of it afterwards, he could not bear the thought of repeated journeys in the disguise he had first assumed. But he was now certain that the fortunes of the new diggings at Broombush Creek would offer an easy solution. The low reefs in the vicinity of the creek had been tested by experts, and found to contain gold in sufficient quantities to pay for crushing.note Already four or five companies had been started, and the necessary plant was on the way to the diggings. Trevaskis was too familiar with the histories of goldfields, not to know that in a short time one or two of these companies would come to grief,

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and that the plant, etc., could be bought for less than half the cost. He could start working on his own account, and all the rest would be easy. A more serious obstacle now than the disposal of the gold was the arrangement he had made to let Fitz-Gibbon investigate the hiding-place. How could this be prevented without raising suspicion? If he postponed the investigation from time to time, the young man might, in sheer weariness, drop the project. Perhaps after all it occupied very little of his thoughts.

But on the day before he left town, he made a very unpleasant discovery, which still further complicated the situation. He was in the company's office discussing various mining matters with the secretary, who said to him as he was leaving:

"Ah, by the way, isn't Mr. Fitz-Gibbon going to search some underground place for a pot of gold that some old fellow told him was to be found there?"

"Yes, yes, we're going to get a great fortune there," answered Trevaskis, without a change of countenance, though his heart gave a great thump when he heard the words.

"Mr. Drummond, his uncle, had a letter from him the other day, in which he mentioned it. We've heard some rumours about that place before. Yes, of course, there's always yarns about mines one can't believe. But Mr. Fitz-Gibbon will have plenty of time; it seems he'll remain till Christmas after all. I didn't believe he would stay there more than a month at the most."

"He may or he may not stay till Christmas," thought Trevaskis, as he left the office; "but at any rate he don't fossick about in that part of the old mine till I've secured the gold."

This, then, was the fixed purpose with which he returned to the mine. The prize at stake was too precious to be noteforgotten. To occupy a good position, to be above the necessity of work, to eat and drink well, to drive in a carriage, and have "everything handsome,"note is an ideal of life so ardently prized, so universally scrambled for, that, in its achievement, lying, cheating, hypocrisy of all kinds, robberies of every grade, are constantly enacted. It is by no means a new play. The cast has been on the world's stage from time immemorial, the actors are perpetually renewed, and the drama is now as popular at the Antipodes as it could ever have been in the Old World.