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.
'Are you telling me the truth, Richard Marston?' says she, standing up and fixing her eyes full on me -- fine eyes they were, too, in their way; 'or are you trying another deceit, to throw me off the scent and get rid of me? Why should you ever want to see my face after you leave?'
'A friendly face is always pleasant. Anyhow, Kate, yours is, though you did play me a sharpish trick once, and didn't stick to me like some women might have done.'
'Tell me this,' she said, leaning forward, and putting one hand on my shoulder, while she seemed to look through the very soul of me -- her face grew deadly pale, and her lips trembled, as I'd seen them do once before when she was regular beyond herself -- 'will you take me with you when you go for good and all? I'm ready to follow you round the world. Don't be afraid of my temper. No woman that ever lived ever did more for the man she loved than I'll do for you. If Jeanie's good to Jim -- and you know she is -- I'll be twice the woman to you, or I'll die for it. Don't speak!' she went on; 'I know I threw you over once. I was mad with rage and shame. You know I had cause, hadn't I, Dick? You know I had. To spite you, I threw away my own life then; now it's a misery and a torment to me every day I live. I can bear it no longer, I tell you. It's killing me -- killing me day by day. Only say the word, and I'll join you in Melbourne within the week -- to be yours, and yours only, as long as I live.'
I didn't think there was that much of the loving nature about her. She used to vex me by being hard and uncertain when we were courting. I knew then she cared about me, and I hadn't a thought about any other woman. Now when I didn't ask her to bother herself about me, and only to let me alone and go her own way, she must turn the tables on me, and want to ruin the pair of us slap over again.
She'd thrown her arms round my neck and was sobbing on my shoulder when she finished. I took her over to the sofa, and made her sit down by the side of me.
'Kate,' I said, 'this won't do. There's neither rhyme nor reason about it. I'm as fond of you as ever I was, but you must know well enough if you make a bolt of it now there'll be no end of a bobbery, and everybody's thoughts will be turned our way. We'll be clean bowled -- the lot of us. Jim and I will be jugged. You and Jeanie will be left to the mercy of the world, worse off by a precious sight than ever you were in your lives. Now, if you look at it, what's the good of spoiling the whole jimbang for a fancy notion about me? You and I are safe to be first-rate friends always, but it will be the ruin of both of us if we're fools enough to want to be more. You're living here like a regular queen. You've got a good husband, that's proud of you and gives you everything you can think of. You took him yourself, and you're bound to stick to him. Besides, think of poor Jeanie and Jim. You'll spoil all their happiness; and, more than all -- don't make any mistake -- you know what Jeanie thinks of a woman who leaves her husband for another man.'
If you let a woman have a regular good cry and talk herself out, you can mostly bring her round in the end. So after a bit Kate grew more reasonable. That bit about Jeanie fetched her too. She knew her own sister would turn against her -- not harsh like, but she'd never be the same to her again as long as she lived.
The lamp had been put out in the big hall. There was only one in this parlour, and it wasn't over bright. I talked away, and last of all she came round to my way of thinking; at any rate not to want to clear off from the old man now, but to wait till I came back, or till I wrote to her.
'You are right, Dick,' she said at last, 'and you show your sense in talking the way you have; though, if you loved as I do, you could not do it. But, once more, there's no other woman that you're fonder of than me? It isn't that that makes you so good? Dick Marston good!' and here she laughed bitterly. 'If I thought that I should go mad.'
What was I to do? I could not tell her that I loved Gracey Storefield ten times as much as I'd ever cheated myself into thinking I cared about her. So I swore that I cared more for her than any woman in the whole world, and always had done so.
This steadied her. We parted good friends, and she promised to keep quiet and try and make the best of things. She turned up the lamp to show me the way out, though the outer door of the hall was left open night and day. It was a way we had at the Turon; no one troubled themselves to be particular about such trifles as furniture and so on. There was very little small robbery there; it was not worth while. All petty stealers were most severely punished into the bargain.
As I stood up to say good-bye a small note dropped out of my breast-pocket. It had shifted somehow. Kate always had an eye like a hawk. With one spring she pounced upon it, and before I could interfere opened and read it! It was Gracey Storefield's. She stood for one moment and glared in my face. I thought she had gone mad. Then she threw the bit of paper down and trampled upon it, over and over again.
'So, Dick Marston,' she cried out hoarsely, her very voice changed, 'you have tricked me a second time! Your own Gracey! your own Gracey! and this, by the date, at the very time you were letting me persuade myself, like a fool, like an idiot that I was, that you still care for me! You have put the cap to your villainy now. And, as God made me, you shall have cause -- good cause -- to fear the woman you have once betrayed and twice scorned. Look to yourself.'
She gazed at me for a moment with a face from which every trace of expression had vanished, except that of the most devilish fury and spite -- the face of an evil spirit more than of a woman; and then she walked slowly away. I couldn't help pitying her, though I cursed my own folly, as I had done a thousand times, that I had ever turned my head or spoken a word to her when first she crossed my path. I got into the street somehow; I hardly knew what to think or to do. That danger was close at our heels I didn't doubt for a moment. Everything seemed changed in a minute. What was going to happen? Was I the same Dick Marston that had been strolling up Main Street a couple of hours ago? All but off by the tomorrow evening's coach, and with all the world before me, a good round sum in the bank; best part of a year's hard, honest work it was the price of, too.