(a much-married, middle-aged, Sydney bank clerk)
(his bulky wife)
(manager of Galahad's bank
(a clerk, loved by Sibyl)
CHAPTER XIII. - GALAHAD GOES SURFING.
The Quay, when their Mosman boat reached it was a kaleidoscope pattern of vivid hues.
The picnic girl was thronging everywhere, dropping like rosy apples from the crowed trams, blown like brilliant petals across the clanging Quay, collecting in georgeous clusters in the shadows under the wharf verandahs.
They sreamed greetings to their girl chums and their "boys", they counted parties and decided not to wait another minute for the missing Alice or James, and waited three quarters of an hour.
They staggered with bulging dress-baskets filled with superfluous crockeryware.
They laughed, joked, chattered, nudged, and were happy.
Every youth had a straw or a panama hat, and every girl made up for the chaste whiteness of her skirts and her blouse by a picnic hat that glittered and wobbled like a pantomime ballet.
Of course there
was no chance for Galahad and his wife, wedged in that mass of perspiring
picnickers, to gain access to the first big Manly boat that waited at the
Nor the second; but they managed to squeeze aboad the third.
It was stifling on that crowded deck till the twin-screw steamer started; then the cooling breeze played on bared heads and ungloved elbows, and there was music and chatter and peace.
There was a big
regatta on the harbour, and the steamer plunged right through the finish
of the race. Immediately she was emompassed by a fleet of tiny boats- flat
things carrying absurdly enormous sails, ballasted with crews of youths
who sat on gunwales of these dishes, and leaned horizontal as gusts came,
like rows of automatic pendulums.
And these boats slipped under the steamer's stern and dived across her bow, and exchanged bright conversation with the worried skipper.
And there was the P. and O. liner that was the regatta flagship, glorying in bunting; and innumerable motor launches buzzing everywhere; and crowds on all the shores, and picnic parties on every beach.
At Manly, Galahad
and Em made their way to the ocean beach; and at Fairy Bower, where boiling
water was for sale, they manage to find a vacant spot untenananted by children,
and ate and drank, and were convinced that they were enjoying themselves.
Then Galahad, stretched on the beach, read his morning paper, and Em dallied with the advertisement pages; and they were happy.
When the effects of the meal had worn off they strolled back to Manly and made two of the immense crowd that watched the bathers. It was very hot; and in the breakers were thousands of happy surfers. And Em got quite a lot of placid happiness out of criticising the figures of the women bathers, reserving her shafts of satire for those that were thin. She wondered however such rakes could have the "cheek" to bathe before all that crowd. But she envived them a little; the breakers did look so cool.
"Look here, Em,"
suddenly said her husband, "what about a bathe?"
"All right," Em assented.
"I'll wait here. You go and get a bathing costume."
Galahad went off and returned with two parcels. (2)
He handed one to Em.
"For me?" - she snorted.
"Yes. Size all right. Largest they'd got in the shop."
"Do you mean to imagine, Gally, that I'd go in in this before all that crowd?"
"Why not?" said her remarkable husband.
"But mixed bathing!"
"But it will be gloriously cool."
"And it's hot here," admitted Em with a little envy.
"Nobody will notice you among all the lot. Besides, nobody would recognise you in a bathing dress."
And Em was tempted
She had never been in the surf.
And there was a holiday air about the place, and altogether it would be daring and reckless; and she was sure she would fill her bathing-dress much better than most of those skinny, brazen scarecrows out there.
So, later, the
crowd of spectators were enlivened with the view of the pudgy figure of
an ex-bank clerk and incurable sentimentalist gallantly leading to the
breakers the bulky and almost magnificent figure of his spouse.
But there were other bathers to look at- especially the girls in their ...
... Canadian costumes
of bright colours, with their many-hued bandana handkerchief head-dress
(which, of course, they did not get wet), and the bronzed figures of the
inveterate surfers- young men who cultivated browness as assiduously and
as enthusiastically as a debutante cultivates her complexion.
And both men and girls (it was whispered) used a special cream which under the sun put that brown bloom upon arms and legs.
For the dream of the white Australian surfer is to be brown.
It was glorious fun in the surf, and Galahad could not persuade the happily laughing Em that she had had enough.
further out to meet the big breakers, carefully keeping within the line
of the advance guard of "shark bait"- those sturdy swimmers who risked
the ever present danger of th sharks and the undertow for the delight of
"shooting" the long rollers.
But Galahad and Em had plenty of fun with the smaller breakers that would slap you over and roll you in the sand in a way exhilaratingly provocative.
And during one
of his entreaties for Em to come out- for Em was but a happy and irresponsible
child again- a larger breaker came upon them unawares and flung them in
a scurry of foam and sand off their feet.
It had caught other unwary bathers too; and as Em and Galahad ruefully sat up and wiped the water from their eyes, two figures- those of a young man and a girl- that had been swept in from further out, put their heads out of the water.
There was a short stare of recognition; and then almost four simultaneous cries.
A pretty, slim
girl called, "Father!"
A pudgy ex-bak clerk snorted, "Horace!"
An agonised mother spluttered, "Kathie!"
A clean-limbed young man groaned, "Mr. Jones!"
Then a second big roller scattered the group; and when Galahad and Em emerged from the foam that couple of young bathers had been whirled away into the crowd.
So Galahad knew
now that Horace Lothian's mysterious "other girl"- the girl he had seen
him with that evening when running for his boat- was his own pretty Kathie!
1. For biographical notes on the author, see:
Shelia and George Champion note an advertisement or a report in the
Manly Daily 7th January 1908 and write:
"At McCarthy's new shop opposite the breakers, ladies and gentleman's surf bathing costumes and towels were offered for hire for 1d each, and it was advertised that valuables would also be looked after."
Champion: Drowning, Bathing and Life Saving (2000) page 98
The Lone Hand
214 George Street Sydney Australia
1st February 1910.