Author: Anthony Trollope
Release Date: May, 2004 [EBook #5642] [Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule] [This file was first posted on August 3, 2002]
Character set encoding: ASCII
*** Start of the project gutenberg EBOOK, Harry Heathcote of Gangoil ***
This eBook was produced by Nicole Apostola, Charles
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A Tale of Australian Bush-Life.
“The Warden”, “BARCHESTER
Towers,” “ORLEY farm,”
“The small house at
Arlington”, “The Eustace diamonds,” &c., &c
Just a fortnight before Christmas, 1871, a young man, twenty-four years of age, returned home to his dinner about eight o’clock in the evening. He was married, and with him and his wife lived his wife’s sister. At that somewhat late hour he walked in among the two young women, and another much older woman who was preparing the table for dinner. The wife and the wife’s sister each had a child in her lap, the elder having seen some fifteen months of its existence, and the younger three months. “He has been out since seven, and I don’t think he’s had a mouthful,” the wife had just said. “Oh, Harry, you must be half starved,” she exclaimed, jumping up to greet him, and throwing her arm round his bare neck.
“I’m about whole melted,” he said, as he kissed her. “In the name of charity give me a nobbler. I did get a bit of damper and a pannikin of tea up at the German’s hut; but I never was so hot or so thirsty in my life. We’re going to have it in earnest this time. Old Bates says that when the gum leaves crackle, as they do now, before Christmas, there won’t be a blade of grass by the end of February.”
“I hate Old Bates,” said the wife. “He always prophesies evil, and complains about his rations.”
“He knows more about sheep than any man this side of the Mary,” said her husband. From all this I trust the reader will understand that the Christmas to which he is introduced is not the Christmas with which he is intimate on this side of the equator—a Christmas of blazing fires in-doors, and of sleet arid snow and frost outside—but the Christmas of Australia, in which happy land the Christmas fires are apt to be lighted—or to light themselves—when they are by no means needed.