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(viii)

NEXT morning, before Mr. Adare had well recovered from his night's sleep, which was apt to lie about him, like mists in a valley, till the sun rose high, a servant knocked to say that His Excellency would be obliged by a word with him. The message had a kind of official peremptory ring to it. Why summon a man to an interview at break of day, whom you can converse with over a meal or a cigar at any more civil time you please? Mr. Adare's mind gave forth tremors. His conscience was not uneasy, but he had fears for his comfort, vague disquiets, blank misgivings. He presented himself, looking neat, within twenty minutes of the message arriving.

His Excellency was in his study, not standing or marching about, as was his custom, but sitting at a big table on which packets of papers lay. He looked up at once, and Mr. Adare heard something resembling, had he known it, his cousin's orderly-room voice:

“Sit down. There's something I'd like you to explain.”

He did not add, If you can. But his gesture as he handed over a small paper, half-printed, half-written, allowed those words to be understood. Mr. Adare


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took, and in an instant recognized, the document.

To the Surveyor-General.

Application of Donough Charles Adare of Government House, Sydney, for permission to purchase land.

Dated, December, 1831.

Sir,

Being desirous to purchase the following sections of land, I request you will obtain the Governor's authority that they may be put up to sale at the minimum price determined by the Government, agreeable to the Regulations of the 1st August 1831, viz.:

200 acres in the County of Cumberland, district of Newcastle, sections numbered 17 to 217.

I am free, and arrived in the Colony by the ship Foxbound from London in the month of December 1831.

I have the honor to be, sir,

Your obedient humble servant,

D. C. ADARE.

“Is that your signature?”

“It is, yes. Let me explain this matter, there's nothing to be concerned about——”

“But it is not your writing in the body of the form?”

“No. I can explain that. You see, I am acting on advice. This land will appreciate in value. I shall make money by it if I wait. I can explain the whole affair. It's really a very simple matter.”

The Governor suddenly sat back in his chair.




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“Very good. Let me hear.”

Mr. Adare was still a little drowsy. He had not yet quite understood that here was danger, nor had he, when signing and presenting it, studied the document at all closely. Flusky had assured him it was the merest matter of form.

“I've been talking—you recommended that I should do so—to men of experience. They all have the one thing to say; one must get land. The more acreage the better. This is not like England; small holdings, they tell me, will not do here; one must put in for a considerable acreage, to allow, don't you see, for accidents such as drought or any other kind of bad season. Two hundred acres; it is equal, in fact, to a farm of fifty acres at home. It is all a question of degree. As you know, I have no ideas of grandeur. As Tom Moore says, ‘The pride of former days, and glory's thrill is o'er.’ ” He had done; and humming the tune that accompanies those words, waited more or less indifferently for the Governor to bid him take himself off. His Excellency, however, pondered, tapping the document.

“A farm,” repeated the Governor. “Well, I won't insult you more than I'm obliged to, but you are a liar, Mr. Donough Charles Adare. Don't make matters worse, don't make a fool of yourself.” (The young man had given an angry start.) “Did you look at the map, down there at the Surveyor's office? You did not, or you wouldn't have offered me that nonsense about acreage and droughts. What you have put in for is town land,


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valuable land. The price set by the Board runs to five pounds an acre and more. That's a thousand pounds' worth; it's land with the obligation to build, what's more, if your application should be granted. Don't humiliate yourself or me by any more explanations, as you call them. The truth, if you please.”

Not easy; for truth was in itself so improbable. Mr. Adare put together something resembling a review of the facts, which included the meeting in the Bank and the loan; but insisted that he had followed his own judgment in the selection of land to buy—“one of these fellows said it was a coming-along district, and I backed the numbers, the two seventeens——”

“But the money; you must have had money to show the Surveyor.”

“He lent it me—this same fellow—just for the day.”

“What security did you give?”

“He asked none, sir.”

“I see. Did you make use of my name, then?”

“I did not.”

“I'm serious, this is a serious matter. What did you promise the man in exchange for this money? I must know how you stand.”

“I repeat, nothing at all, whatsoever, of any kind, nothing.”

“Come; you're this man's bonnet, aren't you? Buying in his name land he wouldn't be likely to get on his own application?”

“I am not, sir.”




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The Governor rose at last, and looked at Adare steadily. The young man cocked his chin and stared back. The Governor gave a kind of quick sigh, then spoke with firmness.

“Your application is refused.”

Adare bowed as jauntily as he dared.

“Furthermore, I must make other arrangements for your domicile while you stay in the Colony. This is the sort of transaction——” he flicked the document—“that I can't have carried on from Government House.”

“I'll arrange at once, sir. Don't put yourself to any trouble.”

“I make no further comment on your conduct. You have a good deal to learn in the way of worldly wisdom; but don't buy your experience at the cost of honour. That's no sort of bargain. I shall be happy to know from time to time how you do. Moreover, some sort of allowance is due to you, in money, I mean. Your parents contemplated your being my guest in the Colony——”

“Excuse me. I shall do very well.”

“As you please. I am at your service, should you change your mind.”

“Mr. Flusky, I believe, will be good enough to house me until I can settle my affairs.”

The Governor at that put off his orderly-room manner altogether and disturbingly. He came round his big desk, took the still young man above the elbow and walked him about as he talked.




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“You remember I had something in my mind about this man. So had you; we couldn't hang it on to any peg, either of us. I've got the facts at present.”

“So have I, sir.”

“All? You know he ran off with one of the Considine girls? And the rest of the circumstances? Why he's out here?” The young man was silent, and Sir Richard halted their march a moment. “The bad part of the business, you see, was this. He shot James Considine dead, that went after them. Shot her brother. They gave him the benefit of the doubt; said James pulled first. That's how Flusky comes to be a rich man instead of a dead one. But it's not a story to associate with; a nasty, bloody, derogatory story. Keep away from it, Charles.” The young man stood mulishly; Sir Richard shook his arm with a trifle of impatience. “No chivalry, now. No wild-goose chasing. He's a murderer, and she's all to pieces, by what I can learn. You owe the fellow no debt, and you've done what you could. Give him his money back, and start fresh.”

But Mr. Adare was in the grip of that obstinacy which comes from the sense of having behaved like a fool; an obstinacy not peculiar to the young, but more common in them, since their dignity is a new and precious pedestal. This obstinacy did not reveal itself as such to the individual possessed by it. Hastily, it put on the trappings of generosity, and displayed Mr. Adare to his own gaze as a noble figure forsaking the fleshpots, a Quixote. He burst out now with something of all this,


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much garbled; a new country, old scores should be forgotten, hands of friendship, and so on. Sir Richard listened and lost patience. He too had his dignity; it was not for him to persuade. Two sentences ended the matter.

“Yes, yes, that would sound all very well in a story, my young friend, but we can't afford posturing in a real situation.”

“I won't trouble your Excellency with my postures any longer.”

A bend of the young man's shoulders. A lift of the Governor's shoulders. The sound of a door impetuously closed.

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