This section is from the book "Robbery Under Arms; A Story Of Life And Adventure In The Bush And In The Australian Goldfields", by Rolf Boldrewood. Also available from Amazon: Robbery under Arms; a story of life and adventure in the bush and in the Australian goldfields.
So George was hail-fellow-well-met with all the swells at the camp, and the bankers and big storekeepers, and the doctors and lawyers and clergymen, all the nobs there were at the Turon; and when the Governor himself and his lady came up on a visit to see what the place was like, why George was taken up and introduced as if he'd been a regular blessed curiosity in the way of contractors, and his Excellency hadn't set eyes on one before.
'My word! Dick,' Jim says, 'it's a murder he and Aileen didn't cotton to one another in the old days. She'd have been just the girl to have fancied all this sort of swell racket, with a silk gown and dressed up a bit. There isn't a woman here that's a patch on her for looks, is there now, except Jeanie, and she's different in her ways.'
I didn't believe there was. I began to think it over in my own mind, and wonder how it came about that she'd missed all her chances of rising in life, and if ever a woman was born for it she was. I couldn't help seeing whose fault it was that she'd been kept back and was now obliged to work hard, and almost ashamed to show herself at Bargo and the other small towns; not that the people were ever shy of speaking to her, but she thought they might be, and wouldn't give them a chance. In about a month up comes Jeanie Morrison from Melbourne, looking just the same as the very first evening we met Kate and her on the St. Kilda beach. Just as quiet and shy and modest-looking -- only a bit sadder, and not quite so ready to smile as she'd been in the old days. She looked as if she'd had a grief to hide and fight down since then. A girl's first sorrow when something happened to her love! They never look quite the same afterwards. I've seen a good many, and if it was real right down love, they were never the same in looks or feelings afterwards. They might 'get over it', as people call it; but that's a sort of healing over a wound. It don't always cure it, and the wound often breaks out again and bleeds afresh.
Jeanie didn't look so bad, and she was that glad to see Jim again and to find him respected as a hard-working well-to-do miner that she forgot most of her disappointments and forgave him his share of any deceit that had been practised upon her and her sister. Women are like that. They'll always make excuses for men they're fond of and blame anybody else that can be blamed or that's within reach. She thought Starlight and me had the most to do with it -- perhaps we had; but Jim could have cut loose from us any time before the Momberah cattle racket much easier than he could now. I heard her say once that she thought other people were much more to blame than poor James -- people who ought to have known better, and so on. By the time she had got to the end of her little explanation Jim was completely whitewashed of course. It had always happened to him, and I suppose always would. He was a man born to be helped and looked out for by every one he came near.
Seeing how good-looking Jeanie was thought, and how all the swells kept crowding round to get a look at her, if she was near the bar, Kate wanted to have a ball and show her off a bit. But she wouldn't have it. She right down refused and close upon quarrelled with Kate about it. She didn't take to the glare and noise and excitement of Turon at all. She was frightened at the strange-looking men that filled the streets by day and the hall at the Prospectors' by night. The women she couldn't abide. Anyhow she wouldn't have nothing to say to them. All she wanted -- and she kept at Jim day after day till she made him carry it out -- was for him to build or buy a cottage, she didn't care how small, where they could go and live quietly together. She would cook his meals and mend his clothes, and they would come into town on Saturday nights only and be as happy as kings and queens. She didn't come up to dance or flirt, she said, in a place like Turon, and if Jim didn't get a home for her she'd go back to her dressmaking at St. Kilda. This woke up Jim, so he bought out a miner who lived a bit out of the town. He had made money and wanted to sell his improvements and clear out for Sydney. It was a small four-roomed weatherboard cottage, with a bark roof, but very neatly put on. There was a little creek in front, and a small flower garden, with rose trees growing up the verandah posts. Most miners, when they're doing well, make a garden. They take a pride in having a neat cottage and everything about it shipshape. The ground, of course, didn't belong to him, but he held it by his miner's right. The title was good enough, and he had a right to sell his goodwill and improvements.
Jim gave him his price and took everything, even to the bits of furniture. They weren't much, but a place looks awful bare without them. The dog, and the cock and hens he bought too. He got some real nice things in Turon -- tables, chairs, sofas, beds, and so on; and had the place lined and papered inside, quite swell. Then he told Jeanie the house was ready, and the next week they were married. They were married in the church -- that is, the iron building that did duty for one. It had all been carted up from Melbourne -- framework, roof, seats, and all -- and put together at Turon. It didn't look so bad after it was painted, though it was awful hot in summer.
Here they were married, all square and regular, by the Scotch clergyman. He was the first minister of any kind that came up to the diggings, and the men had all come to like him for his straightforward, earnest way of preaching. Not that we went often, but a good few of us diggers went every now and then just to show our respect for him; and so Jim said he'd be married by Mr. Mackenzie and no one else. Jeanie was a Presbyterian, so it suited her all to pieces.
Well, the church was chock-full. There never was such a congregation before. Lots of people had come to know Jim on the diggings, and more had heard of him as a straightgoing, good-looking digger, who was free with his money and pretty lucky. As for Jeanie, there was a report that she was the prettiest girl in Melbourne, and something of that sort, and so they all tried to get a look at her. Certainly, though there had been a good many marriages since we had come to the Turon, the church had never held a handsomer couple. Jeanie was quietly dressed in plain white silk. She had on a veil; no ornaments of any kind or sorts. It was a warmish day, and there was a sort of peach-blossom colour on her cheeks that looked as delicate as if a breath of air would blow it away. When she came in and saw the crowd of bronze bearded faces and hundreds of strange eyes bent on her, she turned quite pale. Then the flush came back on her face, and her eyes looked as bright as some of the sapphires we used to pick up now and then out of the river bed. Her hair was twisted up in a knot behind; but even that didn't hide the lovely colour nor what a lot there was of it. As she came in with her slight figure and modest sweet face that turned up to Jim's like a child's, there was a sort of hum in the church that sounded very like breaking into a cheer.