An Australian Ranch

(The Second Book in the Pearson/ Rickards Trilogy)

by Raymond Boyd Dunn

Copyright 2011 by Raymond Dunn

Smashwords Edition

Chapter 1

On a fine, warm afternoon in early December, 1874, Jane Johnson stood at the front door of the homestead, looking out across the wide, shady veranda towards the creek. A young woman was sitting in the shade on a small patch of green grass which had managed to grow under the beautifully proportioned river gum which dominated that part of the watercourse. Across the creek, sheep dotted the well grassed, undulating landscape which had been selectively cleared of unwanted trees, and the occasional cry of a wether reached her ears. The tranquil setting looked perfect. The air was clear, the grass as green as she had ever seen it after the recent rains; the sky was cloudless now - a deep azure blue. The beauty of the Australian bush, their home, almost left her breathless. Jane was tempted to get her sketch pad and compose a picture, which she could later transpose on to canvas with her oils.

She had already recorded the scene on canvas, not many months before. But, though it faithfully captured the detail of the subject, the resultant painting left her far from satisfied. Somehow, it seemed flat; without any life, and lacking vitality. Now she knew why. It reflected the sadness within her heart at the time of painting. It depicted a melancholy, empty, lifeless scene, despite the sheep which dotted the landscape at the time. The emptiness she felt while painting showed through in the end result, in her opinion at least. It was the figure of the young woman sitting there at the present moment, which made such a tremendous difference. But an observer would have to be aware that when she created the original painting, it was unlikely the young woman who sat there now would ever again venture out of doors of her own volition to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air of this glorious countryside.

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