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A Happy Ending


-C- ,<t,:). tALL RIGHTS RESERVED.] A Happy Ending BY MRS. CAMPBELL PRAED, Author of As a Watch in the Night," "Outlaw and Lawmaker," Nadirie," &c. 44 Tea, I suppose it must have a happy end- ing!" Miss Caroline Graffan, who was a writer of mildly sensational fiction, sighed aa she re-scanned a letter addressed to her by tne editor of "Brinton's Weekly." She buttoned her cheap ready nade jacket in an absent- minded manner, nd pinned a faded Tam-o'- Shanter down up. i her reddish locks, which had already here ad there a thread of grey. Taking up her we;l-worn woollen gloves and o stout note-book with a double-pointed pen- cil, she went forth to seek inspiration by the tea. But first she tip-toed to the ground floor sitting-room, where an old lady lay asleep, and thence to the top of the basement stairs, where she called in a low, urgent tone: "Mrs. Bishop!" The landlady showed her ample form in the passage below. "Going a walk, Miss Callie?" she inquired in a friendly whisper; and the little lady an- swered "Yes. I want to think out a story." Another of 'em! Leonore's deep in the last. Is it for Australia?" H No, for 'Brinteii's Weekly.' It's got to be a love story with a happy ending." "Lor', Miss Callie, how you ever write love stories with no practice of your own Sasses me. You ought to be enjoying a appy ending yourself by this time." Callie Graffan's sensitive face flushed. She answered with a touch of dignity, "Will you please go up if mother should ring? I fthall be back to tea." Across the square the quaint little figure went. The wind blew her reddish curls askew, tinged the tip of her small up-turned nose, and gave a watery look to her eyes. They were nice hazel eyes, fringed with thick brown lashes—the best feature in the thin face which Nature had meant to be piquant, and which had grown only pathetic. As she turned the corner, Callie encountered the landlady's daughter, absorbed in a pink journal. Leonore looked up. "I just 'ad to see how The Girl Who Loved Him' is going on, Miss. It's beauti- ful. But you won't deprive her of 'im at the last? You'll give 'em a happy ending?" Miss Callie nodded, but her smile was rather wistful. Leonore read with avidity all the stories that appeared under the pseudonym of "Lura Lynn," and was proud of the secret which she had confided to her young man at the newspaper shop—that "Lura Lynn" was really Mrs. Bishop's lodger-the shabby little lady who kept a blind mother upon her lite- rary earnings, and whose stories even went as far afield as Australia. That, alas! was no proof of world-wide popularity, but was Indirectly due to the fact that Callie's father jhad once held a cure in the Lura district in Leichardt's Land. She did not remember much about Australia, but it was to the breath of the Bush that Callie owed a certain human note in her otherwise commonplace productions. The ring of the pseudomyn she bad chosen happened to strike the editor of "The Leichardt's Land Chronicle" one day trhile glancing through the pages of "Brin- ton's Weekly," and induced him to skim a etory of hers which otherwise he would have passed unnoticed. This led to Callie contri- buting most of the fiction required for the "Chronicle," at a humble rate of payment, She eked out her hard-working existence at Weirgate, whence all the young men of her Class went away to seek fortune and wives, and where no suitor ever came to woo. None at least had ever wooed Miss Callie, who was an old maid at thirty-two bravely facing de- stiny, but longing vaguely for romance that never was realised exespt on paper. "It would be so much easier to write love stories," she, thought; "if only I knew what it was to be loved Now she looked down the sunlit, shadow- flecked road which wound along the cliff. A row of pretentious villas bordered it, in the gardens of which bulbs were springing. The turf at the sides had started into new green under the sharp March winds, and a lark rising as she passed soared to the blue sky, pinging as though its throat would burst. .11.J:le seems to have a happy story to tell," totuffnured Callie, "I wish he would tell it to She turned aside into a shelter facing the tea, where at this hour she was generally Sure of beiitg alone. Here she began to jot down a few desultory notes for her work. Some of the pages of her note-book, how- ever, being loose, fluttered out of her grasp, and the wind carried them to a little dis- tance. Callie was just about tQ dart in pur- suit when she became aware that the shelter had another occupant. A huge, long-limbed man in rough grey tweed lounged out from the other side. Callie glanced at him curi- ously. He was over fix feet, and had the loose-jointed build of the backwoodsman. His skin was browned to a coppery hue, the dark beard slightly frosted at the sides. His fresh, strong look recalled to her dim memo- ries of men with stock-whips, clad in mole- skins, who used to ride up to her parson- r father's homestead. The stranger raised his cap, drawling in a distinctly Australian twang: "Wo-a there! l'lí round 'em up and yard 'em." With a stride of his long legs he pinned the sheets by the point of Ins stick and jhanded them" to her in eluinsy- fashion. Callie thanked him and sat' down again, but he paused in a tentative way. "Excuse me," he remarked, "I'm a bit bushed. Not long home, you see. Are you a resident in this place—Miss." The last word appeared a kind of after- thought. Callie stopped fixing the errant eheets and looked up dubiously. The gentleman—for clearly he was a gen tleman, if an unpolished specimen—raised his cap and repeated his question, adding apologetically: "Out in 'Stralia, when a chap's off the track he don't wait to be intro- duced. "I know," said Callie, with a comprehend- ing nod; "I' been in Australia." That's fir r The giant seated him- self beside lit with th air of having found a long lost brother. "Are you 'Btralian, Miss?" Not really. My hihur vias out there a few years, and I happened to be born in Lei- chardt's Land. "Wa-al, I'm from Leichardt's Land. Your father \a squatter?" HNo, a clergyman." The giant made a r i il k > e^ "I don't take r> i in i it naries— the worse for m< i ce lieie, Miss -ever been bushed 1a parts?" Milled Callie, amused. va lived in c,10, when we c;Ùnê io 1 v.ore than twenty y 'I"L_tI,l i't!I':IDrt He scrutinised her witn some cars. ) "It would be about that," he observed frankly; and poor Miss Graffan blushed with such warmth at the remark that she began to look far less than her age. But the stranger seemed entirely unconscious of having erred. "Can you tell me," he went on, "where- abouts to find a young, lady I'm after?" "A young lady!" repeated Miss Graffan. "It's like this," and the giant leaned for- ward, ready on the instant to confide his difficulty. "I'm on her lay, but I've come to a dead end, and dunno where to dig. Her name is Lura Lynn." "Lura Lynn!" Callie stared at him with wondering eyes. "What do you know of Lura Lynn?" '"Just what her writings have told me. I've read most of 'em in The Leichardt's Land Chronicle,' and they took my fancy. I looked up the editor and got him to give me all the information he would about the young Tady, which only amounted to this—that she mailed him her stories from Weirgate. Ever read any of 'eni 1 Callie modestly confessed that she had. "I ain't what you'd call a booky chap," continued the stranger, "but it's my opinion that Lura Lynn's stories are as good as you'd get. Of course, I can see that she don't know much about Australia, but jest you read 'em in the bush o' nights, with the eiaaee of a black's spear whizzing into camp —native dogs howling for all they're worth-- with maybe a morepork or a curlew screech- iug-anrl only the clank of your horse's hobbles ne'er another white man within fifty miles—you know, Miss—well then, Lura Lynn's stories set a lonely chap thinking of what a comfort a nice woman would be to him—a sweet-faced girl, soft and dainty, the sort a man would like his mother to have been, the sort that other fellows, when they've luck, pick up over here for wives. That's what I've come for." The giant thumped a hairy fist upon his sinewy grev- clad knee. "I don't mind telling you, Miss— that's what I've come for." ¡ "That's what you've come for!" echoed Callie bewilderedly. The giant gave a sheepish laugh. Avi I've come to marry Lura Lynn—if I she'll have me. I've come fourteen thousand on the chance." j Miss Graffan drew in her breath sharply. "But you don't really know what she's like I" "DO-:It I!" the stranger laughed again, this time with more assurance. "I know she's the girl for me, if she'll only take me oc. I can guess pretty much what she's like from her stories, and I've made a picture of her in my mind. She's handsome, of course —and young. Spruce, well set-up, tall, a good figure, showing off her frocks-I like to see women prink, and I'll make it easy for her. I'll dress her up to the nines. But she must be a smart girl and know how to get round me-All chaps enjoy being wheedled when it's nicely done—a 'cute, clever girl, clean-shaped to her finger-tips. That's Lura Lynn according to my notions. You're ac- quainted with her, I take it?" "Ye—as," faltered Callie, startled into candour. 11 Well, you shan't tell me if I'm right about her- I'll find out for myself. All I ask is—where can I meet her?" Callie's eyes were fixed on the heaving sea. Wild thoughts surged in her meagre bosom. Her starved heart thrilled to nlis strange romance. She longed to lend her- self to the joy of it-even for an hour. When i the man found out that she was Lura Lynn he would be bitterly disappointed, of course, but she shrank from telling him. She wanted to snatch at the vicarious satisfaction this poor little passing experience might afford her. She fancied that it would not be quite so difficult afterwards to grind out love stories. "Are you serious in what you say?" she breathed slowly, > "Just about," he answered bluntly. "I'm here to ask that girl if she'll come along with me and go shares in my show." "And what is your show?" inquired Miss Graffan, putting on her tiny touch of dignity. "Two thousand square miles of grazing country and ten thousand head of cattle at. say, two-pun-ten a head all round, and five thousand for horses and plant. Tot it up, Miss. That's my show. But first we'll hayel as big a spree as she dear-old pleases—globe- trot or take our time in this country. It's good enough for me. All I want is—my I wif!" Calfie gazed thirstily at the grey sea. The thought of what a wide, happy fate hers j might have been were she herself only j different, brought a rush of tears to her eyes. Bending down to hide them, she noticed her old serge skirt, her shabby gloves, her worn, opossum-skin tippet. She hated them ati, she W¡lS ashamed of them all—the more so because, rough though the man seemed, she saw that he was very well tailored. At that moment he pulled out of an enormous pocket-book a card which he handed her. It had never occurred to her to doubt him, but the ring of his voice was convincing, That's my name," he said, James Bostock—and my address. The Lura's my district, you know. Our Agent-General and j the Directors of The Leichardt's Land Bank are my references. I'm putting up at the hotel yonder. 'Now will you give me the ad- dress of Miss Lura Lynn?" Callie had been considering rapidly and had made up her mind. She spoke with a sympathetic smile. I canrft do that without Miss Lynn's per- j missies, hut as she's a friend of mine I could j tell her anything you wish. She's away just now." The giant's face fell. Then he responded cheerfully, I only want to act on the square. Look here let you and me be chums, Miss-" Graffan," put in -Callie. "Let's be chums, Miss Graffan, if yon'1] honour me. You'd make a very good mate. You're the sort that understands a chap's mind." Callie flushed deeply. Looking closely at her, James Bostock discovered that she had very pretty eyes." The game's up to you," he said, "only recollect I'JI be there when my turn C'()I'l2, Meanwhile 111 lie low till you tell int back. But mum's the work to her. I can de I my own c-rvurli ig." "'So I imagine," smiled Callie, flushing :uoro 1 *ily than ever as, he bent j oyer her I)IL-ase sar about Miss Lynn to anyone else. j,'m sure she wouldn't like it." ISo need—now I've told you. Re :• I was in luck whan, I stumbled on lit shanty. Going already?" he "v j claimed disripnoinfcediv as Callie rose. Cwn't I f walk i H If yon said• Callie, rather breath- 1 k;sly, j, hpnie to tea. My mother 1 und I live close by, in Henrietta-square. I Mother's blind, or I'm sure she'd be | io Bed 'anyone in a most d-ejiiBre-. manner. -¡ WIll ,A.r.I"A.).;At'\iI. -n.- •"Let me come and yarn to her a bit. I'm | 110 end of a hand y? And I e; | make fbst-eiass tea—and :'o \y 2; said the giant so peivisa.-dvch 1 jat Graffan tucked 1 note book .id scruples out of eighty | word about Lura J. an—mi ad "Eè; no; ? ¡ It was Leonore v,Tlio betrayed the secret r. i fortnight later. She was engaged in arimateu j oonversation with her young man at 'the! newspaper-shop cariy one,aftcr.o.ni_Vt'h. I James Bostock looked in, bent on purchasinc j the last number of .Brinton's Weekly." | Leonore had a copy outspread on | counter before her, and she was warmly dis- cussing the progress of affairs of the heart ic the case of "The Girl Who Loved compared with those of the writer, comtueiv. ing on these last with considerable shrewd- ness. James Bostock heard enough oi hex remarks to send him speeding up the atreev. He took the road along the cliff and sooi reached the shelter where he knew that at this hovr lie should find Callie Grah'an. There she was in the place where he had first seen her—her two-pointed pencil in her hand, but she was not writing. Her gaze, grown subdued and tender, wandered dreamily over the sparkling sea. The spring sunshine v/as* rcL.eetod Li her face. There had been some attempt at smartening up the old serge coat and skirt. She wore a new Tam o' Slianter, a fresh lace scarf, and a knot of violets in her breast. Bos-.ock quick comprehensive eyes took IT: e* cry lino of her as he approached. He was thinking how different she was from his preconceived notion of Lura Lynn. She heard him coming and the loveliest wave of colour rose and spread over her thin cheeks. Then, as she lifted her face, a scared look came into her eyes, for there was something in his that alarmed her. She closed her note-book carefully, placing the pencil inside the rubber band. "There's no use in your doing that," he cried harshly. "I know all about your scribbling." He bore down upon her, his great arms I swinging, hi-s coppery features tense, his honest eyes seeming to shoot lances at her. You've deceived me horribly," he be- gan. Callie went very pale, for now she knew that he knew. Then her little form braced itself. She laid the note-book on the seat be- side her. So the end had come! She had meant to meet this moment with dignity, but she could only answer in a broken, girlish way: "Yes, I have, I know. And so would you, if you'd been me." "Oh! I wotdd -would I? And please— I why?" said he. He was close to the bench now and stood looking- down at her fierce, in- sistent, and yet oddly triumphant. A long sobbing breath came up from the bottom of Callie's surcharged heart. She made a strenuous effort to control her trem- bling lips. ) Why!" she cried, passionately. Be- cause I'd written plentv of love-stories, but never lived one. And 1 wanted to know ex- never lived one.; And 1 wanted to know ex- actly how you felt about me—the me that I you thought I was. I knew that you'd find out the truth soon enough, but I couldn't I bear to disillusion you. I—oh!" she struck her hands vehemently together. I've had so little in my life. Don't grudge me this one fortnight." Her voice dropped. Tears started from Tinder the thick brown lashes and travelled rapidly down the. small convulsed face. l'ity kept the big man silent. He sat down be- side her awkwardly, but she would not look at him. Her hands were clenched. The small, thin shoulders heaved. With the tip of his large finger he ven- tured to raise one of those irrepressible curls that stuck out under the Tam o' Shanter. you poor little thing! You poor little dreaming desolate thing! Do you know I I think you've got the cunningest hair I ever set eyes on and the sweetest, dearest little face. 'Want to know how I feel? I feel as if I've no use at all left for that Lura Lynn-not the one I fancied—that is, if Callie Graffan will take a rough Bush chap on. Ain't half good enough for her, though. Bnt say, Callie, darlin'—will you go shares in that show of mine, and let's have a real good time together?" She turned swiftly now and looked up at him, startled beyond words, wildly incredu- I ions, but thrilling with joy. Her amazed cry was stifled in lii3 breast as he wrapped his long arms romid her. That Lura Lynn would never have worked out," he said consolingly. She was a deal too fine. An old Bushwhacker like me wants a chum—a mate—just what vou'll be, Callie." Half an hour later a small flushed person emerged from the shelter of those strong arms and made a sudden dash at the neg- lected note-book and pencil. Na-ow—na-ow, you've done enough o' that," he cried. We're not going to waste any more time over other folks' love-stories. Going to live our own, remember. Come along right home and tell your mammy she's got to think about shifting camp." Oli wait one moment, James—just olig moment. Let me get a note—or tvio-before the feeling goes." "What feeling?" he asked, puzzled. Oh, I didn't tell you. I couldn't get this story right. But now I know Oh! James, life's just beautiful if one can have a happy ending.