It 2 was
a primitive cottage of the old style , standing in
a garden 4
and built on
the cliff 5
the Emu Point 6
side -- overlooking
the broad Leichardt River 7 58
The veranda 1 , quite twelve feet wide , ran -- Australian fashion -- along the front of
the cottage 2 , except for the two closed-in ends forming , one
a bathroom 8 and the other a kind of
store closet 9 .
Being raised a few feet above the ground ,
the veranda 1 was enclosed by a wooden railing , and this and the supporting posts were twined with creepers that must have been planted at least thirty years .
One of these , a stephanotis , showed masses of white bloom , which
Joan Gildea 0 casually reflected would have fetched a pretty sum in
Covent Garden 10 , and , joining in with a fine-growing asparagus fern , formed an arch over the entrance steps .
The end of
the veranda 1 , where
Mrs Gildea 0 had established
herself 0 with
her 0 type-writer and paraphernalia of literary work , was screened by a thick-stemmed grape-vine , which made a dapple of shadow and sunshine upon the boarded floor .
Some bunches of late grapes -- it was the very beginning of March -- hung upon the vine , and , at the other end of
the veranda 1 , grew a passion creeper , its great purple fruit looking like huge plums amidst its vivid green leaves .
The roof of
the veranda 1 was low , with projecting eaves , below which a bunch of yellowing bananas hung to ripen .
In fact ,
the veranda 1 and
garden 4 beyond would have been paradise to a fruitarian .
Against the wall of
the store-room 9 , stood a large tin dish piled with melons , pine-apples and miscellaneous garden produce , while , between the
veranda 1 posts , could be seen a guava-tree , an elderly fig and a loquat all in full bearing .
The garden 4 seemed a tangle of all manner of vegetation -- an oleander in bloom , a poinsettia , a yucca , lifting its spike of waxen white blossoms , a narrow flower-border in which the gardenias had become tall shrubs and the scented verbena shrubs almost trees .
As for the blend of perfume , it was dreamily intoxicating .
Two bamboos , guarding the side entrance gate , made a soft whispering that heightened the dream-sense .
The bottom of
the garden 4 looked an inchoate mass of greenery topped by the upper boughs of tall straggling gum trees , growing outside where the ground fell gradually to
the river 7 .
Mrs Gildea 0 sat ,
she 0 had a view of almost the whole reach of
the river 7 where
it 7 circles
Emu Point 6 .
For , as is known to all who know
Leichardt 's Town 3 , the
river 7 winds in two great loops girdling two low points , so that , in striking a bee-line across
the whole town 3 , business and residential , one must cross
the river 7 three times .
Mrs Gildea 0 could see the plan of
the main street 11 in
the Middle Point 12 and the roofs of shops and offices .
-- familiarly , the
The busy wharves of
the Leichardt 's Land Steam Navigation Company 14 13
L.L.S.N. Co. 14 -- lay opposite on
her 0 right , while leftward , across
the water 7 ,
she 0 could trace , as far as the grape-vine would allow , the boundary of
the Botanical Gardens 15 and get a sight of the white stone and grey slate end of
the big Parliamentary Buildings 16 .
The heat-haze over
the town 3 and the brilliant sun-sparkles on
the river 7 suggested a cruel glare outside
the shady veranda 1 and
over-grown old garden 4 .
A pleasant study 1 , if a bit distracting from
its 1 plenitude of associations to
Australian-born Joan Gildea , who , on
marriage , had been transplanted into
English soil 17
, as care-free as a rose cut from the parent stem , and who now , after nearly twenty years , had returned to the scene of
a widow 0
a working journalist 0
and shorn of most of
early illusions 0
Her 0 typewriter stood on a bamboo table before
her 0 .
A pile of Australian Hansards for reference sat on a chair at convenient distance .
A large table with a green cloth , at
her 0 elbow , had at one end a tray with the remains of
her 0 breakfast of tea , scones and fruit .
The end nearest
her 0 was littered with sheaves of manuscript , newspaper-cuttings , photographs and sepia sketches -- obviously for purposes of illustration : gum-bottle , stylographs and the rest , with , also , several note-books held open by bananas , recently plucked from the ripening bunch , to serve as paper-weights .
She 0 had meant to be very busy that morning .
her 0 weekly letter for THE IMPERIALIST to send off by to-morrow 's mail , and , moreover ,
she 0 had to digest the reasons of the eminent journal for returning to
her 0 an article that had not met with
the editor 18 's approval --
the great Gibbs 18 :
a potent newspaper-factor 59 in the British policy of the day .
It had been an immense honour when
Mr Gibbs 18 had chosen
Joan Gildea 0 from amongst for a roving commission to report upon the political , financial , economic and social aspects of
Australia 20 , and upon Imperial interests generally , as represented in various sideshows on
her 0 route .
But it happened that
she 0 was now suffering from a change at the last moment in that route -- a substitution of the commplace P. & O. for the more exciting Canadian Pacific ,
Mr Gibbs 18 having suddenly decided that Imperialism in
Australia 20 demanded
his 18 special correspondent 's immediate attention .
For this story dates back to the time when
Mr Joseph Chamberlain 21 was in office ; when Imperialism , Free Trade and Yellow Labour were the catch words of a party , and before the great
Australian Commonwealth 22 had become an historical fact .
THE IMPERIALIST 's Special Correspondent 0 looked worried .
She 0 was wondering whether the English mail expected to-day would bring
her 0 troublesome editorial instructions .
She 0 examined some of the photographs and drawings with a dissatisfied air .
A running inarticulate commentary might have been put into words like this : ' No good ...
I 0 can manage the letterpress all right once
I 0 get the hang of things .
But when it comes to illustrations ,
I 0 ca n't make even a gum-tree look as if it was growing ... .
Gibbs 18 hates having amateur snapshots to work up ... .
Hopeless to try for
a local artist 23 ... .
I 0 wonder if
Colin McKeith 24 could give
me 0 an idea .... .
Why to goodness did n't
Biddy 25 join
me 0 !
she 25 'd only had the decency to let
me 0 know in time WHY
she 25 could n't ... .
I 0 suppose -- or
a Man 26 !
I 0 'll write and tell
her 25 never to expect a literary leg-up from
me 0 again ... '
Mrs Gildea 0 pulled the sheet
she 0 had been typing out of the machine , inserted another , altered the notch to single spacing and rattled off at top speed till the page was covered .
she 0 appended
her 0 signature and wrote this address : To
the Lady Bridget O'Hara 25 , Care of
Gaverick 28 27
Upper Brook Street 29 ,
London 30 , W. on an envelope , into which
she 0 slipped
her 0 letter -- a letter never to be sent .
A snap of the gate between the bamboos added a metallic note to the tree 's reedy whimperings , and
the postman 31 tramped along
the short garden path 32 and up
the veranda steps 33 .
' Morning ,
Mrs Gildea 0 ... a heavy mail for
you 0 ! '
He 31 planked down the usual editorial packet -- two or three rolls of proofs , a collection of newspapers , a bulky parcel of private correspondence sent on by
, some local letters and , finally , two square envelopes , with the remark , as
the porter of
Mrs Gildea 0
he 31 turned away on
his 31 round .
My 0 word !
Mrs Gildea 0 , those letters seem to have done a bit of globe-trotting on their own , do n't they ! '
For the envelopes were covered with directions , some in Japanese and Chinese hieroglyphics , some in official red ink from
various postoffices 36 , a few with the distinctive markings of British Legations and
Government Houses 37 where
the Special Correspondent 25 should have stayed , but did not -- Only
her 25 own name showing through the obliterations , and a final re-addressing by
the Bank of
Leichardt 's Land 39 38
Mrs Gildea 0 recognised the impulsive , untidy but characteristic handwriting of
Lady Bridget O'Hara 25 .
Biddy 25 at last ! '
she 0 exclaimed , tore the flap of number one letter , paused and laid it aside .
' Business first . '
she 0 went carefully through the editorial communication .
Mr Gibbs 18 was not quite so tiresome as
she 0 had feared
he 18 would be .
him 18 , the packet from was inspected and its contents laid aside for future perusal .
she 0 tackled the local letters .
One was embossed with
stamp and contained a cablegram originally despatched from
the Bank of
Leichardt 's Land 39 38
Rome 40 , which had been received at
Vancouver 41 and , thence , had pursued
her 0 -- first along the route originally designed , afterwards , with zigzagging , retrogression and much delay , along the one
she 0 had taken .
That it had reached
her 0 at all , said a good deal for
Mrs Gildea 0 's fame as
a freely paragraphed newspaper correspondent 57 .
The telegram was phrased thus : SORRY IMPOSSIBLE NO FUNDS OTHER REASONS WRITING
Mrs Gildea 0 's illuminative ' H 'm ! '
her 0 two inductions had been correct .
No funds -- and other reasons -- meaning --
a MAN 42 .
She 0 scented instantly another of
Biddy 25 's tempestuous love-affairs .
Had it been merely a question of lack of money with inclination goading ,
she 0 felt pretty certain that
Lady Bridget 25 would have contrived to beg , borrow or steal -- on a hazardous promissory note , after the happy-go-lucky financial morals of
that section of society to which by birth
Or , failing these means , that
she 25 would have threatened some mad enterprise and so have frightened
Eliza 27 Countess of
Gaverick 28 into writing a cheque for three figures .
Of course , less would have been of no account .
Mrs Gildea 0 opened the two envelopes and sorted the pages in order of their dates .
The first had the address of a house in
South Belgravia 44 , where lived
Sir Luke Tallant of
the Colonial Office 46 45
Rosamond 47 --
distant connections of
the Gavericks 48 56
Lady Bridget 25 's letters were type-written , most carelessly , with the mistakes corrected down the margin of the flimsy sheets in the manner of author 's proof -- the whole appearance of them suggesting literary ' copy ' .
Likewise , the slapdash epistolary style of the MS. , which had a certain vividness of its own .
CHAPTER 2 '
Dearest Joan 0 ,
You 0 'll have got
my 25 wire .
Vancouver 41 was right ,
I 25 suppose .
I 25 sent it from
Rome 40 .
I 25 have been at
Montreux 49 with
Chris 50 and
Molly 51 , and since
I 25 came back to
England 52 with
them 53 ,
I 25 've been in too chaotic a state of mind to write letters .
Chris 50 and
Molly 51 's atmosphere of struggling to keep in the swim on next to nothing a year and of eking out a precarious income by visits to
second-rate country houses 54 and cadging on
my 25 nerves to such an extent that
Luke 45 and
Rosamond 47 's established " Colonial Office " sort of respectability is quite refreshing by contrast .