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(ix)

“WE need a school of this kind,” said His Excellency, “no doubt of that, Mr. Flusky. Here I have grumbles from men all up and down the country, that can't get a wheelwright or a carpenter for money. Look at this list of trades among the latest arrivals; a comb-maker, a man-milliner, two soap-boilers and a teacher of dancing. Who'll put in for that last individual, do you suppose? And if nobody does, what good will he be at breaking stones? We are like shipwrecked men on this deserted continent, we must take what the sea brings us, and be thankful. So far it casts up ten gauze bonnets for one good barrel of pork.”

“I've been out here longer'n you,” said Flusky. “You can't tell me.”

“I don't like the assignment system,” Sir Richard mused; “allotting craftsmen out of a hat the way we do now. I write to the Colonial Secretary once a month or so. He writes back: What alternative do you propose? And I have none. But if we can supply free men, trained, then I can say to him, keep your prisoners in the gaols, where they belong.”




  ― 231 ―

“You'll have the landowners agin you,” said Flusky. “They don't care what a man's trade is, so long's they don't have to pay him.”

“They care, though, whether he can do his work.”

“No,” said Flusky. “They think they can learn him with a whip.”

“Are you saying the magistrates flog without cause?”

“I'm saying nothing,” said Flusky.

The Governor looked curiously at the square man in his misshapen suit of Botany wool, so like in cut and colour to the convict's slops, and thought he saw the fellow's reason for wearing it. Once I wore this dress because I must; now I please myself, and by Nick I'll wear it still, and your best tailor, Mr. Maelzer of George Street, he shall cut the trousers like as to leave room for irons. To hell with the past! Or else wrap it round you like a flag. And His Excellency recollected how once, before the justiciary of his mind, he had arraigned the uniform ladies for their hankerings and flutterings after the past, their England, distant and for ever gone. Flusky, an unwilling migrant, yet had a better title to this new country than the uniforms could show.

“To go back to this matter of the school.”

“Ay, well, what I say——” Flusky frowned, endeavouring to put into words just what he did say, when he collogued with his own thoughts. “What I say: in a country where everything's to do, the hands has a chance to put themselves equal with the head. A gentleman, a scholard, will do pretty poor thinking


  ― 232 ―
without a roof to his head or food in his belly.”

“I don't know about that,” the Governor answered easily. “I've had to think fast many's the time in Spain, with never a shelter and my stomach touching my backbone. Wellesley didn't take excuses.”

“That's soldiering,” Flusky answered. “We don't have to reckon for soldiers here. We have to reckon for peace. That's a thing what people here don't understand, they're new, it's all new——”

“People that know not their right hand from their left; besides much cattle!”

“That's about right,” Flusky answered, nodding. “That about hits it. Only it had ought to have been sheep.”

The Governor laughed, glanced at his clock, and put papers together, hinting dismissal, while he summed up the interview.

“It's understood, then. I'll see that the land's allotted for your technical school. Government has reserved an acre or two here and there within the town. It must be easy of access for the kind of young men we want to catch. Leave that to me, I'll do my best for you.”

“Good enough,” Flusky answered.

“Shall I bespeak the services of the Colonial Architect?”

“Give me a note to him. I'd like to say a word or two about the plan. He'll want to waste money; rams' skulls carved on the pillars. I'll get him some real skulls if he want to nail 'em up.”




  ― 233 ―

“The Greeks, whose Corinthian style Mr. Lewis imitates, did just that, I believe. Real skulls.”

“Showed their sense.”

He rose, obedient to the Governor's lightly tapping fingers; Sir Richard sat for the three or four seconds during which his mind was divided; get up for a damn gaol-bird? It's your business to make these fellows self-respecting. But I'm the King's representative, by God, and he's—— That's past; to hell with the past! Sir Richard stood up, offered his hand.

“I'm obliged, Mr. Flusky. You shall have the letter to Lewis.”

“Thankee.”

“Lady Henrietta well?” Before Flusky could answer he went on: “I have a message for her—for you, too; you too will be glad. They have found young Adare. In a bad way, but still—where's the letter from Dixon?”

The secretary, starting forward, found and handed a thick budget. His Excellency sought among the pages, talking:

“A messenger came in this morning. Dixon, you know, has been exploring the source of the Bogan—ah, here's the passage. But you'd prefer to read it to yourself.”

Flusky took the sheets as though they were weighty, and laboriously, under Sir Richard's eye, perused Mr. Dixon's message.

“As I was reconnoitring this spot for the purpose of making out the camp, I came suddenly upon a party of natives, one of whom giving a short cooee first made


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me aware of the circumstance. I went towards them with a branch, which always serves as an assurance of peaceable intentions. They seemed by no means disturbed at our appearance, and an old man coming towards me pronounced an unusual word which I repeated after him as well as I could understand it. He continued to speak in their language, several times pointing to my beard and eyes. For the most part they point to articles which they expect, or hope, will be given to them. I therefore could make nothing of his gestures, on which he repeated the former word, taking pains to articulate it. What was my astonishment to recognize in these syllables the name ‘Adare.’ I repeated the name, therefore, pointing myself to my eyes and beard, which are something the same colour as Mr. Adare's. He seemed delighted to be understood, and taking my sleeve endeavoured to pull me in the direction of their camp, to which I yielded, only requiring Burdett to hand me my musket and load his own.

“The camp consisted of some forty persons of both sexes, including children, and there, not to spin out the suspense, I found Mr. Adare. He was in a most pitiable condition, though the blacks had done their best for him, in a high fever, and not able to give any account of himself. I proposed by signs to the chief that the invalid should be transported to my camp, offering in exchange a clasp-knife and the skins of two wallabies we had shot that morning. This was agreed upon, and we made a litter of blankets and poles which served to convey him thither.




  ― 235 ―

“Happily the encampment was near good water, and we were not short of provisions, owing to the supply of game we had encountered, and which, no doubt, accounted also for the presence of the blacks. Mr. Adare continued delirious for a further twenty-four hours, after which our broths and brandy seemed to revive him. He owes his life to his youth, for I hardly suppose that an older man could have survived the hardships he has since described to me——”

The Governor's voice broke in upon Flusky's reading; reckoning at the speed of an educated man's scrutiny, His Excellency misjudged by two pages the progress of the slower eye.

“Adare, you know, is a sort of cousin of mine. This is as good a moment as any to thank you for what you tried to do for him. He made no secret that you had advised him, as did I, against this adventure. If he survives now, it is not for want of prophecies to the contrary.”

Flusky made no comment.

“Dixon says nothing, you see, about any gold. It's true he has not been able to get much out of the boy yet in the way of information. But I interrupted you; you hadn't finished.”

Flusky shook his head, restoring the letter.

“Well, it is briefly told. He is leaving Charles behind at the house of a settler, who will look after him until he is fit to travel. We shall not see him in Sydney before December. I don't know how it takes you, Mr. Flusky, but I have a kind of weakness for young men who won't


  ― 236 ―
do as they're told. It is the thing I like best about this country, none of the currency generation will do as it's told. Charles is a misfit in England, in Ireland he is lost in the crowd; but in New South Wales he may do very well if he lives.”

Sir Richard's clock struck eleven. The interview had lasted nearly an hour, and His Excellency was fatigued by it. He respected Mr. Flusky, he proposed to help Mr. Flusky to the full of his powers, he had faith and hope in Mr. Flusky; all the same——

“Talking with this fellow is like beating a bale of wool with a blunt cleaver; you tire yourself out, and devil a thing to show for it. He's off at last, and best of luck to him, but for all that, thank God!”

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