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a steamer came in from Palmerston and her resolution now. This was not the brought Emma. She could not help time to urge Erne's suit. Her mood coming, she said, and had altered her was far too serious and sacred a one mind the very last thing. The steamers to be interfered with by any personal between Melbourne and Palmerston whim of my own. Not only did I feel would call regularly at Port Romilly this, but she knew that I felt it, and now. That was so very nice to think opened her heart to me in perfect conof
, wasn't it? It made her feel the fidence. I only told her that I loved separation less. Only three days would her better than any other woman in the bring her among us at any time, in case world, save one. I only begged her of illness or anything. And such a forgiveness for any clumsiness of exbeautiful voyage, she said. The sky was pression, by which I might have hidden so bright, and the great ocean-roll so long my love for her. I only comforted her and so gentle. She had sat on the deck with hopes such as I could give. Things all day and all night, watching the coast. might alter in many ways; and there There had been long stretches of low might be a brighter future.
After a sand beach in some places, and then a time she grew calm again, and she sat majestic cape.
Sometimes the land with her head on my shoulder through piled itself up into awful tiers of dark the short summer night, until the forest, one rising behind the other; and crystal dawn flashed upon the tree tops, sometimes these would break away, and and told me that the morning of my show low rolling plains stretching into marriage was come. the interior, with faint blue mountains And in the morning she and Erne beyond. There were islands, too, which parted. When will they meet again ? one sailed through, on which the foot Ah ! when ? of man had never rested since the world began ; some low, some high and fan
CHAPTER LVI. tastically-shaped, but all covered with clouds of changing sea-birds, and ringed with the leaping silver surf which never slept. “Sometimes, darling," she con- My marriage was a most unnoticeable tinued—for we were alone together, and one. The sort of thing that is just the house was all asleep save us two, worth mentioning, nothing more. It and her head was on my shoulder- has nothing to do with the story what"Sometimes I thought that I would pray that after death my soul might I do not think that I should have take the form of one of those wild sea- taken the trouble to mention it at all, doves, and hover and float in the wind had it not been for this. There was a and the sunshine free of care. I will little cloud over it, and that cloud hung come and sit on your shoulder, dear, in the very last place where I liked to and you will know that it is me, won't see a cloud. It was in my father's face,
He approved of the business in every "I would sooner have you as you way. We were getting rich and proare, my sister."
sperous. He loved my pretty little "Jim, sometimes I am weary of my sweetheart with all the chivalrous delife
. My task is too much for me; I votion of his great gentleman's soul; wish I was at rest. I miss all the but there was a cloud on his face, which home faces. I miss you, dear. I miss reflected itself on mine. I thought I our mother, and I am utterly alone in had penetration enough to find out the Palmerston.
And oh, brother, I love cause which threw its shadow there. him so dearly! This sight of him to- Trevittick had been a good and faithday has been so precious! Oh! what ful partner to us, and, in spite of his shall I do, what shall I do ?”
moroseness and his fanaticism, we had I did not dare to ask her to forget got to be very fond of him. Morose he
THE LAND SALE.
was at times, but he was never unkind : believed himself convinced of sin, and his devotion to my mother was that of regenerate ; that he had believed him self a true gentleman; and his kindness to possessed of a lively faith. But that the younger ones, children no longer only proof of a lively faith was works; now, was most fatherly and genial. Fred, that he believed with the rest of the in fact, put him as A 1 in his affections Brianites that the elect could not sin, since the loss of Erne. But now it whereas he, ever sin he had come to was painfully evident to me that poor Port Romilly, had been a habitual Trevittick had stepped a little beyond Sabbath-breaker ; that his faith, not the limits of fanaticism, and was rapidly having resulted in works, was not lively; becoming lunatic. I also perceived that that therefore he was condemned evermy father was perfectly aware of the lastingly. And not only that; he had had fact, but would not open his lips, even a revelation. It had come to him as he to me, in hopes of a favourable change was sitting that very day by the burnt in the poor fellow's malady.
hut. There came a shiver of wind This was the reason of the shadow through the shrubs, and a voice spoke on my father's face at the time of my in his heart as it went by and told him wedding; and I was sorry to be obliged this :—the unmentionable sin was to to confess to myself, after close watching believe yourself elect when you were of Trevittick's behaviour, that there was not so, and he had committed this sin. only too good reason for it.
I tried to combat all this midsummer I cannot remember the exact time madness as best I might. I spoke such when I first noticed decided symptoms platitudes to him as I could lay hold of his aberration ; but it was long before of at the time, and my arrows were very my marriage. It was a Sunday, though, few, and drawn from all sorts of quivers. for he had been in the bush all day To flatter his humour, I told him that alone : which was a habit he acquired there was little doubt but that he had soon after our arrival at Port Romilly. fallen away from original righteousness, He had gained so much influence over as we all had done. I recommended my father that my father used to allow him to read “ Winslow on Personal De him to expound a chapter and give an clension and Revival," a book which I extempore prayer the first thing every confessed I had found tough myself, but Sunday morning. After this he used which would suit his case exactly. And to depart into the hush, and only come so I went on, trying to argue against a home late at night, leaving my father dull, settled, obstinate fanaticism, until to blunder through the Litany, and an I lost my temper, and told him that, if orthodox sermon in the forenoon, before there were an unforgivable sin, he would his family as best he might; which was find that it consisted in doubting the not very well, for my father's education sufficiency of the great Sacrifice ; which had been limited, and the slowest of was probably the only piece of good Bible clerks might have given him half sense which I uttered during the arguthe distance, and said amen before him, ment. easily. On this particular Sunday Tre- But it had no effect; he knocked the vittick was later home than usual. There ashes out of his pipe, and left me with was no one up but myself, and, when he an expression of calm scorn. The next came in, having taken a long draught Sunday he rambled away just the same; of cold tea (he was a strict teetotaller) and I, sitting up for him after every he sat down opposite me, lit his pipe, one else was gone to bed, had another and told me that on that very morning innings with him, in which I got comhe had arrived at the unalterable con- pletely worsted. viction that he was condemned to ever- He was equally assured of his own lasting reprobation.
condemnation. Nothing could ever I asked him why.
shake that conviction. Condemnation He said that hitherto he had always was to be everlasting ; no reasonable
man could doubt that. But he said He grew worse, as I said, just about that he would not condescend to allow the time of my marriage : he would this conviction to make the very least start up in the night and pray, and alteration in his morality. His life had make strange incomprehensible ejaculaalways been blameless (and indeed he tions. Tom Williams had often conwas right), and it should continue to siderable difficulty in getting him quiet be so. He would continue this sin of again. But the most awful night be Mammon worship on the Sabbath, be- had with him was the night before the cause it would benefit others, and might land sale : it reacted on my father so keep them from temptation. Other- that I was afraid he would scarcely get wise he would watch the uprightness of through the day's business. Trevittick his walking more closely then ever. seemed possessed of a dumb devil, and
In my desperation I asked him why spent the whole night in walking silently should he do so.
up and down, with a short snatching He answered scornfully, “Had I any gait, like a tiger in its cage. Tom said proper pride? Was I only righteous it was worse than any trick he had froin fear of punishment? And suppose played him, and nearly scared him to it came into God's great scheme that I death. Trevittick looked very ghastly should be punished everlastingly, either the morning of the sale too; the dark for an example, or for some deep hidden brown in his complexion remained, but reason, was I therefore to doubt the the red was all gone, and he looked goodness and justice of God ?" I had more like an unhealthy mulatto than a nothing to say, but I felt inclined to say rich-coloured Cornishman. with Polonius, “If this be madness, there Everybody was up early, with a full is method in it." But I didn't.
determination to make holiday of it; The next phase of his lunacy-one for land sales were few and far between which had not, to my knowledge, made in those days; and this one, coming a its appearance before, but which seems few days before Christmas, would make to me to be the somewhat natural result a very good starting point for the of the state of mind which I have Christmas saturnalia. The young men attempted to describe—was this: He caught their horses, and rode about ; or, became abjectly superstitious. He be- if they had no horses of their own, gan to revive all the old west country borrowed some one else's : at the same witch-quackeries, which his religion had time was begun a loug, objectless, and taught him to consider not quackeries, incomprehensible game of cricket, in but arts of the devil. For instance, he the which a man, by dexterous magot Fred to hold a lot of ink in his hand, næuvring, might have sixteen or sevenunder the new moon, and look into it, teen innings, and which lasted from to see what he saw. That dear boy cockcrow to long after curfew. At the instantly saw Guy Fawkes and the same time also everybody began to devil walking arm in arm over Batter- bathe, and kept on bathing while they sea Bridge, which, however interesting in were not riding about or cricketing, all a scientific point of view, led to no prac- day. Harry confided to me that he tical results; and Fred, being naturally had been "in" eight times. At about seized with a panic, made himself all nine o'clock the black fellows arrived, over a gore of ink, as my mother ex- and the dogs began barking " as though pressed it-she having stepped in with there were bears in the town," and an absolute veto against the repetition barked on until the black fellows left of any such unorthodox mancuvres. I late in the afternoon. expected at this time to find him using At about ten the auctioneer arrived, the famous Cornish superstition of the and with him the Hon. Mr. Dawson. divining rod, but, to my astonishment, Soon after this all the elders of the he spoke of it with unutterable scorn, township adjourned into the little courtas a mere delusion of ignorant and house to look at the plans, and I, having unscientific quacks.
been married a week, felt several degrees him, and pointed out what Erne had more dignified than the Governor, and said. He was very pale and anxious; took my place among the others with but all I could get out of him was, becoming gravity. After some time the “All right, old man, leave it to me." court was filled, and the business began. As the sale went on there was less Mr. Dawson sat next the auctioneer, and less competition, as the land grew and, just as he began to speak, my both
poorer in quality from being nearer cousin, dressed in black, came up and the mountain, and being further removed thrust himself in among the foremost. from the river and the bay. Several
“Here's the devil come for old Jack lots just under the mountain went for Dawson " said some one who was stand- the upset price; and at last the sale ing in the crowd, and everybody laughed, was nearly concluded, and the people for my friend's popularity was not high began to go out. Three lots remained in the township. The auctioneer began : to be sold, and these three comprised a “Silence, gentlemen, pray silence.” large portion of the mountain itself.
“Silence yourself, you old scrubber, As lot 67 was mentioned, I saw my was the polite rejoinder, the gentleman father and Mr. Dawson exchange glances, who spoke being slightly in liquor. and everybody began to be funny. “What's the good of such a farce as this “Lot 67, gentlemen,” began the here? Why, there sits old Jack Dawson, auctioneer, “a most eligible lot, gentlethe blacksmith, with his pockets full of men. If you were
to ask me my money, ready to buy up the whole opinion, as between man and man, I boiling, scot and lot; while a poor man should say the most eligible lot which I can't get a bit of land to put his foot on. have had the honour of tempting you He is going to be king at Port Romilly, with to-day. 1280 acres, or shall we mates ; and we're to be his humble say, two of 640. The soil, though not servants. Blow that, I say."
fertile, is dry, the situation is elevated, There was a murmur of discontent the air invigorating and salubrious, and through the hall. I saw Mr. Dawson the scenery romantic. On a clear day, wince; for he could not bear unpopularity. as I am informed by our venerable The first lot was put up, a lot of twenty and respected harbour-master, the lightacres, with frontage on the Erskine. house on Cape Pitt is distinctly visible After a brisk competition it was knocked to the naked eye.' down to my cousin Samuel, for the high Somebody said that with a glass you sum of ten pounds an acre. Mr. Dawson might see old Jack Dawson sanding the did not compete.
men's sugar at Myrnong, sixty miles off. Neither did he for the next lot, or the This unexpected attack on my unoffendnext. It was evident that he had been ing friend resulted in a violent and affected by the sarcasms of the drunken acrimonious personal fracas between Mr. man, and the evident applause with Dawson and the gentleman who had so which they were received. All the lots rudely assailed him, in which several with wharfage along the Erskine went joined ; during which the noble gentlewithout a sign from him: and next man so far forgot himself in the heat of the land further back towards the Cape debate as to say, that`if he got any more Wilberforce mountain, was put up. “Your cheek from him, or any other carrotyfather is mad,” Erne said to me. “He haired, 'possum-headed, forty-acre, post is letting his fortune slip away under and rail son of a seacook, he would his eyes : why on earth don't he bid ? knock his head into the shape of a slushAll the best land is going. Do pray
Do pray lump in about two minutes. Peace him to bid for this she-oak lot; it's only being restored in about ten minutes, and 640. Why, it would grow 40 bushels to the Hon. Mr. Dawson being left in a the acre ; I was over it yesterday.” great heat, the auctioneer went on with
My father's folly did seem to me the description of the lot, only once incomprehensible. I pushed through to interrupted by the Hon. Mr. Dawson,
suddenly, irrelevantly, and gratuitously “The land is yours, Mr. Burton. If informing the company, in a loud and you'll be good enough to step up and defiant voice, that he would find a young sign, I'll be able to get on as far as smith, not twenty-one, who should fight Stawell to-night. There is a good deal the best man in that room for a hundred of snow-water coming down the Eldon pound a side.
this hot weather, and I don't like that Much as I was flattered by this proof crossing place after dark.” of my friend's confidence, I was glad no Thanks to James Oxton's excellent one came forwards. The auctioneer conveyancing bill, lands with a title concluded.
direct from the Crown were transferred “Now whom can I tempt with this lot? to the purchaser in about ten minutes. Can I tempt you, Mr. Dawson ?” In that time my father was standing
“Yes, you can, sir," retorted the still outside the court-house, with his papers angry Mr. Dawson. “And I'll have this in his hand, with Mr. Dawson beside lot, sir, and my friend Mr. Burton shall him. have the next, sir, if it cost fifty " Where's Trevittick ?” almost whisthousand pound, sir. Now. And, if pered Mr. Dawson. any individual chooses to run this lot “Go seek him at home, Jim, and up out of spite, sir, whether that indivi- fetch him here," said my father in the dual has red hair or green hair, sir, I
same tone. will punch that individual's head imme- I went quickly home with a growing diately after the termination of these awe upon me. Every one was behaving proceedings, sir, and knock it against so queerly. My awe was not dissipated the blue stone and mortar which com- by my finding Trevittick, with his head pose the walls of this court-house. Now, buried in the blankets, praying eagerly sir.
and rapidly, and Tom Williams standHowever, nobody, I suppose, caring to ing by as pale as a ghost. get his head punched for a whim, the “ This is the way he has been carrylot was knocked down to him, and im- ing on this last hour,” said poor Tom. mediately afterwards my father stepped “I can't make nothing of him at all.” forward looking as white as a sheet. I went up to him and roused him.
"Now we come to lot 68, commonly “Trevittick," I said, “father has got known by your fellow-townsmen as the the bit of land he wanted.”. Burnt Hut lot; exactly similar to lot He jumped up and clutched me by 67, just knocked down to the Hon.
“Jim,” he said, "if you're Mr. Dawson, as a site for his new lying If you're lying – If you're country house. Now who would like lying to have our honoured legislative coun- We walked out and joined the two cillor for a neighbour? What gentleman others, and all walked away towards the of fortune can I tempt with this lot? hill in silence. The boys were bathing,
At one pound an acre. the cricketers were shouting, and the Will any one bid one pound an acre. quaint-scattered village bore a holiday
"I will,” said my father, in a queer, look. The neighbours were all sitting hoarse voice. I saw that he was mois- out at their doors, and greeted us as we tening his dry lips with his tongue. I went by : but yet everything seemed began to grow deeply interested, half changed to me since the morning. I frightened.
almost dreaded what was to come, and "Going at a pound. Come, gentle- it seems to me now that it all happened men, if any one is going to bid, be quick. instantaneously. It is the last lot."
We crossed the low lying lands which There were but few left: and no one had been sold that day, and came to our
The hammer came own-a desolate, unpromising tract, down, and I saw Mr. Dawson clutch my stretching up the side of the mountain
which formed Cape Wilberforce, about
The lot is up.
of them spoke.