'You and I might have been better friends lately,' says he; 'but don't you forget you've got another brother besides Jim -- one that will stick to you, too, fair weather or foul.'

I always had a great belief in George, though we didn't get on over well, and often had fallings out. He was too steady and hardworking altogether for Jim and me. He worked all day and every day, and saved every penny he made. Catch him gaffing! -- no, not for a sixpence. He called the Dalys and Jacksons thieves and swindlers, who would be locked up, or even hanged, some day, unless they mended themselves. As for drinking a glass of grog, you might just as soon ask him to take a little laudanum or arsenic.

'Why should I drink grog,' he used to say -- 'such stuff, too, as you get at that old villain Grimes's -- with a good appetite and a good conscience? I'm afraid of no man; the police may come and live on my ground for what I care. I work all day, have a read in the evening, and sleep like a top when I turn in. What do I want more?'

'Oh, but you never see any life,' Jim said; 'you're just like an old working bullock that walks up to the yoke in the morning and never stops hauling till he's let go at night. This is a free country, and I don't think a fellow was born for that kind of thing and nothing else.'

'This country's like any other country, Jim,' George would say, holding up his head, and looking straight at him with his steady gray eyes; 'a man must work and save when he's young if he don't want to be a beggar or a slave when he's old. I believe in a man enjoying himself as well as you do, but my notion of that is to have a good farm, well stocked and paid for, by and by, and then to take it easy, perhaps when my back is a little stiffer than it is now.'

'But a man must have a little fun when he is young,' I said. 'What's the use of having money when you're old and rusty, and can't take pleasure in anything?'

'A man needn't be so very old at forty,' he says then, 'and twenty years' steady work will put all of us youngsters well up the ladder. Besides, I don't call it fun getting half-drunk with a lot of blackguards at a low pothouse or a shanty, listening to the stupid talk and boasting lies of a pack of loafers and worse. They're fit for nothing better; but you and Jim are. Now, look here, I've got a small contract from Mr. Andrews for a lot of fencing stuff. It will pay us wages and something over. If you like to go in with me, we'll go share and share. I know what hands you both are at splitting and fencing. What do you say?'

Jim, poor Jim, was inclined to take George's offer. He was that good-hearted that a kind word would turn him any time. But I was put out at his laying it down so about the Dalys and us shantying and gaffing, and I do think now that some folks are born so as they can't do without a taste of some sort of fun once in a way. I can't put it out clear, but it ought to be fixed somehow for us chaps that haven't got the gift of working all day and every day, but can do two days' work in one when we like, that we should have our allowance of reasonable fun and pleasure -- that is, what we called pleasure, not what somebody thinks we ought to take pleasure in. Anyway, I turned on George rather rough, and I says, 'We're not good enough for the likes of you, Mr. Storefield. It's very kind of you to think of us, but we'll take our own line and you take yours.'

'I'm sorry for it, Dick, and more sorry that you take huff at an old friend. All I want is to do you good, and act a friend's part. Good-bye -- some day you'll see it.'

'You're hard on George,' says Jim, 'there's no pleasing you to-day; one would think there were lots of chaps fighting how to give us a lift. Good-bye, George, old man; I'm sorry we can't wire in with you; we'd soon knock out those posts and rails on the ironbark range.'

'You'd better stop, Jim, and take a hand in the deal,' says I (or, rather, the devil, for I believe he gets inside a chap at times), 'and then you and George can take a turn at local-preaching when you're cut out. I'm off.' So without another word I jumped on to my horse and went off down the hill, across the creek, and over the boulders the other side, without much caring where I was going. The fact was, I felt I had acted meanly in sneering at a man who only said what he did for my good; and I wasn't at all sure that I hadn't made a breach between Gracey and myself, and, though I had such a temper when it was roused that all the world wouldn't have stopped me, every time I thought of not seeing that girl again made my heart ache as if it would burst.

I was nearly home before I heard the clatter of a horse's feet, and Jim rode up alongside of me. He was just the same as ever, with a smile on his face. You didn't often see it without one.

I knew he had come after me, and had given up his own fancy for mine.

'I thought you were going to stay and turn good,' I said. 'Why didn't you?'

'It might have been better for me if I had,' he said, 'but you know very well, Dick, that whatever turns up, whether it's for good or evil, you and I go together.'

We looked at one another for a moment. Our eyes met. We didn't say anything; but we understood one another as well as if we had talked for a week. We rode up to the door of our cottage without speaking. The sun had set, and some of the stars had come out, early as it was, for it was late autumn. Aileen was sitting on a bench in the verandah reading, mother was working away as usual at something in the house. Mother couldn't read or write, but you never caught her sitting with her hands before her. Except when she was asleep I don't think she ever was quite still.

Aileen ran out to us, and stood while we let go our horses, and brought the saddles and bridles under the verandah.

'I'm glad you're come home for one thing,' she said. 'There is a message from father. He wants you to meet him.'