When Mr Villiers therefore arrived in Ballarat, he found his wife universally respected and widely known as Madame Midas, so he went to see her, expecting to be kept in luxurious ease for the rest of his life. He soon, however, found himself mistaken, for his wife told him plainly she would have nothing to do with him, and that if he dared to show his face at the Pactolus claim she would have him turned off by her men. He threatened to bring the law into force to make her live with him, but she laughed in his face, and said she would bring a divorce suit against him if he did so; and as Mr Villiers’ character could hardly bear the light of day, he retreated, leaving Madame in full possession of the field.
He stayed, however, in Ballarat, and took up stockbroking—living a kind of hand-to-mouth existence, bragging of his former splendour, and swearing at his wife for what he was pleased to call—her cruelty. Every now and then he would pay a visit to the Pactolus, and try to see her, but McIntosh was a vigilant guard, and the miserable creature was always compelled to go back to his Bohemian life without accomplishing his object of getting money from the wife he had deserted.
People talked, of course, but Madame did not mind. She had tried married life, and had been disappointed; her old ideas of belief in human nature had passed away; in short, the girl who had been the belle of Melbourne as Miss Curtis and Mrs Villiers had disappeared, and the stern, clever, cynical woman who managed the Pactolus claim was a new being called ‘Madame Midas’.
Everyone has heard of the oldest inhabitant—that wonderful piece of antiquity, with white hair, garrulous tongue, and cast-iron memory,- -who was born with the present century—very often before it—and remembers George III, the Battle of Waterloo, and the invention of the steam-engine. But in Australia, the oldest inhabitant is localized, and rechristened an early settler. He remembers Melbourne before Melbourne was; he distinctly recollects sailing up the Yarra Yarra with Batman, and talks wildly about the then crystalline purity of its waters—an assertion which we of to-day feel is open to considerable doubt. His wealth is unbounded, his memory marvellous, and his acquaintances of a somewhat mixed character, comprising as they do a series of persons ranging from a member of Parliament down to a larrikin.