Mates at Billabong is the second book in the ‘Billabong’ series. Norah is now 14. She, Jim and Wally do their best to put up with Cecil, a supercilious 19-year-old cousin from town who has come to stay at ‘Billabong’ for the Christmas holidays. He’s in time for the annual Ball.
The ‘Billabong’ Ball
The long floor echoed under the dancer’s feet—up and down, swing in the centre, hands across; the pace was always a good one when Andy Ferguson played the “Royal Irish”. One foot tapped out the time, and his grey beard nodded in sympathy with it. They called to him now and again, “bravo, Andy! Good man, Andy! Keep it going!” and he smiled at the friendly voices, watching them with the keenness of the Irishman for a light foot in the dance. . .
The tune broke into “St Patrick’s Day”, and Murty O’Toole gave a sudden involuntary shout, his hand above his head, Mick Shanahan echoed it; the Irish music was in their blood, and the old man with the brown fiddle had the power to make them boys again. He, too, had gone back on the lilt of the tune; back to his own green country, where the man with the fiddle has his kingdom always, and the lads and lasses are his subjects. There was a girl with blue Irish eyes, coming to meet him on St Patrick’s morning . . . the tune wavered ever so little then, as his heart cried out to her. Then the dream passed, and he knew he was a boy no more, but old Andy Ferguson, playing for the boys and girls in the loft at ‘Billabong’.
Cecil tries to show off to his Bush relatives with his disdainful city airs but the results are invariably disastrous and highly amusing. Until he does the unforgiveable and takes Bobs, Norah’s much-loved pony, for a wild ride.
The Trustee of The Mary Grant Bruce Family Trust owns the extant copyrights on this story.
First Published in: 1911
First Publisher: Ward, Lock & Co. Limited
Places First Published: London, Melbourne and Toronto