Boys in Trouble
Walter sat at the breakfast table of Mrs Owen’s establishment, savouring his scrambled eggs, bacon and tomatoes. He was enjoying his time in Stawell and was not looking forward to returning to the empty house in Railway Parade, Williamstown.
Mrs Owen bustled in with a fresh pot of tea. “How was the party last night, Mr Lane? Are you glad I talked you into going?”
“Well yes and no. There was a Miss Clark who entertained us with fortune telling. That seemed to appeal to most people. The piano playing was very ordinary.”
Mrs Owen looked as if she had eaten a sour lemon. “Miss Clark can be charming when she pleases but she can also be a stuck up little miss. Gets that from her mother, putting on airs and graces. And her father’s a dealer, so he says. Whatever that means! Shameless little hussy she is too. There’s a picture of her in the Photography Studio window wearing nothing but a sheet!”
Walter wasn’t brave enough to ask where the tantalising Miss Clark might live but decided to do a reconnoitre of the town after work. His efforts were rewarded when he reached a large, rambling dwelling with the name “Clark House” fortuitously printed on a sign at the front gate.
On either side of the front fence two men faced each other aggressively, one tall, with dark hair and sideburns and the other smaller, older and considerably agitated.
“Enough, I have had enough,” said the older man. “You will have to put a stop to your wife and children insulting me.”
“You are a liar, you dirty old dog,” the tall man growled.
“I can’t get to my front gate without your boys shooting their shanghais at me.”
“You’re a liar. My boys do not own shanghais.” He gestured towards two youths watching from the verandah.
“As for your wife, she is no better than a whore. She encourages those boys.”
“How dare you insult my wife! You are an old dog, a putrid old dog and worse than a dog, a mongrel. I should give you a hiding you won’t forget.”
“Come over here and do it then, you coward.”
With that, the tall man leapt the fence and pushed the other man in the chest, forcing him backwards into the dirt. The older man lay motionless until the police arrived.
Walter rushed over to see if he could assist and instead found himself a prime witness to the altercation. The evening spent at the police station was not what he had in mind. He was beginning to have serious doubts about pursuing any sort of relationship with Miss Clark.
But then again, Ruby could not help her parentage. She obviously needed assistance to escape from such a chaotic household.
Walter decided with new resolve that he would visit Clark House again tomorrow.