Madame Midas eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 393 pages of information about Madame Midas.
grew over all the undulating hills.  On the horizon, however, at intervals, a keen eye could see some tall tree standing boldly up, outlined clearly against the pale yellow of the sky.  There was a white dusty road or rather a track between two rough fences, with a wide space of green grass on each side, and here and there could be seen the cattle wandering idly homeward, lingering every now and then to pull at a particularly tempting tuft of bush grass growing in the moist ditches which ran along each side of the highway.  Scattered over this pastoral-looking country were huge mounds of white earth, looking like heaps of carded wool, and at the end of each of these invariably stood a tall, ugly skeleton of wood.  These marked the positions of the mines—­the towers contained the winding gear, while the white earth was the clay called mulloch, brought from several hundred feet below the surface.  Near these mounds were rough-looking sheds with tall red chimneys, which made a pleasant spot of colour against the white of the clay.  On one of these mounds, rather isolated from the others, and standing by itself in the midst of a wide green paddock, Mrs Villiers’ eyes were fixed, and she soon saw the dark figure of a man coming slowly down the white mound, along the green field and advancing slowly up the hill.  When she saw him coming, without turning her head or raising her voice, she called out to someone inside,

’Archie is coming, Selina—­you had better hurry up the tea, for he will be hungry after such a long day.’

The person inside made no answer save by an extra clatter of some domestic utensils, and Madame apparently did not expect a reply, for without saying anything else she walked slowly down the garden path, and leaned lightly over the gate, waiting for the newcomer, who was indeed none other than Archibald McIntosh, the manager of the Pactolus.

He was a man of about medium height, rather thin than otherwise, with a long, narrow-looking head and boldly cut features—­clean shaved save for a frill of white hair which grew on his throat up the sides of his head to his ears, and which gave him rather a peculiar appearance, as if he had his jaw bandaged up.  His eyes were grey and shrewd-looking, his lips were firmly compressed—­in fact, the whole appearance of his face was obstinate—­the face of a man who would stick to his opinions whatever anyone else might say to the contrary.  He was in a rough miner’s dress, all splashed with clay, and as he came up to the gate Madame could see he was holding something in his hand.

‘D’ye no ken what yon may be?’ he said, a smile relaxing his grim features as he held up a rather large nugget; ’’tis the third yin this week!’

Madame Midas took the nugget from him and balanced it carefully in her hand, with a thoughtful look in her face, as if she was making a mental calculation.

‘About twenty to twenty-five ounces, I should say,’ she observed in her soft low voice; ’the last we had was fifteen, and the one before twenty—­looks promising for the gutter, doesn’t it?’

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Madame Midas from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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