But it soon was apparent that the rest could be only for a day or two. The rain had fallen as from ten thousand buckets, but it had fallen only for a space of minutes. On the following morning the thirsty earth had apparently swallowed all the flood. The water in the creek beneath the house stood two feet higher than it had done, and Harry, when he visited the dams round the run, found that they were fall to overflowing, and the grasses were already springing, so quick is the all but tropical growth of the country. They might be safe, perhaps, for eight-and-forty hours. Fire would run only when the ground was absolutely dry, and when every twig or leaf was a combustible. But during those eight-and-forty hours there might be comparative ease at Gangoil.
On the day following the night of the ride Mrs. Heathcote suggested to her husband that she and Kate should ride over to Medlicot’s Mill, as the place was already named, and call on Mrs. Medlicot. “It isn’t Christian,” she said, “for people living out in the bush as we are to quarrel with their neighbors just because they are neighbors.”
“Neighbors!” said Harry; “I don’t know any word that there’s so much humbug about. The Samaritan was the best neighbor I ever heard of, and he lived a long way off, I take it. Anyway, he wasn’t a free-selector.”
“Harry, that’s profane.”
“Every thing I say is wicked. You can go, of course, if you like it. I don’t want to quarrel with any body.”
“Quarreling is so uncomfortable,” said his wife.
“That’s a matter of taste. There are people whom I find it very comfortable to quarrel with. I shouldn’t at all like not to quarrel with the Brownbies, and I’m not at all sure it mayn’t come to be the same with Mr. Giles Medlicot.”
“The Brownbies live by sheep-stealing and horse-stealing.”
“And Medlicot means to live by employing sheep-stealers and horse-stealers. You can go if you like it. You won’t want me to go with you. Will you have the baggy?”
But the ladies said that they would ride. The air was cooler now than it had been, and they would like the exercise. They would take Jacko with them to open the slip-rails, and they would be back by seven for dinner. So they started, taking the track by the wool-shed. The wool-shed was about two miles from the station, and Medlicot’s Mill was seven miles farther, on the bank of the river.
Mr. Giles Medlicot, though at Gangoil he was still spoken of as a new-comer, had already been located for nearly two years on the land which he had purchased immediately on his coming to the colony. He had come out direct from England with the intention of growing sugar, and, whether successful or not in making money, had certainly succeeded in growing crops of sugar-canes and in erecting a mill for crushing them. It probably takes more than two years for a man himself to discover whether he can achieve ultimate success