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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 fantastically-shaped, but all covered with
CHAPTER LVI. clouds of changing sea-birds, and ringed
THE LAND SALE. 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 ever. 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 you ?”
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
was at times, but he was never unkind : his devotion to my mother was that of a true gentleman; and his kindness to the younger ones, children no longer now, was most fatherly and genial. Fred, in fact, put him as A 1 in his affections since the loss of Erne. But now it was painfully evident to me that poor Trevittick had stepped a little beyond the limits of fanaticism, and was rapidly becoming lunatic. I also perceived that my father was perfectly aware of the fact, but would not open his lips, even to me, in hopes of a favourable change in the poor fellow's malady.
This was the reason of the shadow on my father's face at the time of my wedding; and I was sorry to be obliged to confess to myself, after close watching of Trevittick's behaviour, that there was only too good reason for it.
I cannot remember the exact time when I first noticed decided symptoms of his aberration; but it was long before my marriage. It was a Sunday, though, for he had been in the bush all day alone : which was a habit he acquired soon after our arrival at Port Romilly. He had gained so much influence over my father that my father used to allow him to expound a chapter and give an extempore prayer the first thing every Sunday morning. After this he used to depart into the hush, and only come home late at night, leaving my father to blunder through the Litany, and an orthodox sermon in the forenoon, before his family as best he might; which was not very well, for my father's education had been limited, and the slowest of Bible clerks might have given him half the distance, and said amen before him, easily. On this particular Sunday Trevittick was later home than usual. There was no one up but myself, and, when he came in, having taken a long draught of cold tea (he was a strict teetotaller) he sat down opposite me, lit his pipe, and told me that on that very morning he had arrived at the unalterable conviction that he was condemned to everlasting reprobation.
I asked him why.
believed himself convinced of sin, and regenerate ; that he had believed him self possessed of a lively faith. But that only proof of a lively faith was works ; that he believed with the rest of the Brianites that the elect could not sin, whereas he, ever since he had come to Port Romilly, had been a habitual Sabbath-breaker ; that his faith, not having resulted in works, was not lively; that therefore he was condemned everlastingly. And not only that; he had had a revelation. It had come to him as he was sitting that very day by the burnt hut. There came a shiver of wind through the shrubs, and a voice spoke in his heart as it went by and told him this :—the unmentionable sin was to believe yourself elect when you were not so, and he had committed this sin.
I tried to combat all this midsummer madness as best I might. I spoke such platitudes to him as I could lay hold of at the time, and my arrows were very few, and drawn from all sorts of quivers. To flatter his humour, I told him that there was little doubt but that he had fallen away from original righteousness, as we all had done. I recommended him to read “ Winslow on Personal Declension and Revival,” a book which I confessed I had found tough myself, but which would suit his case exactly. And so I went on, trying to argue against a dull, settled, obstinate fanaticism, until I lost my temper, and told him that, if there were an unforgivable sin, he would find that it consisted in doubting the sufficiency of the great Sacrifice; which was probably the only piece of good sense which I uttered during the argument.
But it had no effect; he knocked the ashes out of his pipe, and left me with an expression of calm scorn. The next Sunday he rambled away just the same; and I, sitting up for him after every one else was gone to bed, had another innings with him, in which I got completely worsted.
He was equally assured of his own condemnation. Nothing could ever shake that conviction. Condemnation was to be everlasting ; no reasonable man could doubt that. But he said that he would not condescend to allow this conviction to make the very least alteration in his morality. His life had always been blameless (and indeed he was right), and it should continue to be 80. He would continue this sin of Mammon worship on the Sabbath, because it would benefit others, and might keep them from temptation. Other wise he would watch the uprightness of his walking more closely then ever.
In my desperation I asked him why should he do so.
He answered scornfully, “Had I any proper pride? Was I only righteous from fear of punishment? And suppose it came into God's great scheme that I should be punished everlastingly, either for an example, or for some deep hidden reason, was I therefore to doubt the goodness and justice of God?” I had nothing to say, but I felt inclined to say with Polonius, “If this be madness, there is method in it." But I didn't
The next phase of his lunacy-one which had not, to my knowledge, made its appearance before, but which seems to me to be the somewhat natural result of the state of mind which I have attempted to describe-was this : He became abjectly superstitious. He began to revive all the old west country witch-quackeries, which his religion had taught him to consider not quackeries, but arts of the devil. For instance, he got Fred to hold a lot of ink in his hand, under the new moon, and look into it, to see what he saw. That dear boy instantly saw Guy Fawkes and the devil walking arm in arm over BatterBea Bridge, which, however interesting in a scientific point of view, led to no practical results; and Fred, being naturally seized with a panic, made himself all over a gore of ink, as my mother expressed it—she having stepped in with an absolute veto against the repetition of any such unorthodox mancuvres. I expected at this time to find him using the famous Cornish superstition of the divining rod, but, to my astonishment, he spoke of it with unutterable scorn, 28 a mere delusion of ignorant and unscientific quacks.
He grew worse, as I said, just about the time of my marriage : he would start up in the night and pray, and make strange incomprehensible ejaculations. Tom Williams had often considerable difficulty in getting him quiet again. But the most awful night he had with him was the night before the land sale : it reacted on my father so that I was afraid he would scarcely get through the day's business. Trevittick seemed possessed of a dumb devil, and spent the whole night in walking silently up and down, with a short snatching gait, like a tiger in its cage. Tom said it was worse than any trick he had played him, and nearly scared him to death. Trevittick looked very ghastly the morning of the sale too; the dark brown in his complexion remained, but the red was all gone, and he looked more like an unhealthy mulatto than a rich-coloured Cornishman.
Everybody was up early, with a full determination to make holiday of it ; for land sales were few and far between in those days; and this one, coming a few days before Christmas, would make a very good starting point for the Christmas saturnalia. The young men caught their horses, and rode about; or, if they had no horses of their own, borrowed some one else's : at the same time was begun a long, objectless, and incomprehensible game of cricket, in the which a man, by dexterous manæuvring, might have sixteen or seventeen innings, and which lasted from cockcrow to long after curfew. At the same time also everybody began to bathe, and kept on bathing while they were not riding about or cricketing, all day. Harry confided to me that he had been “in” eight times. At about nine o'clock the black fellows arrived, and the dogs began barking “as though there were bears in the town," and barked on until the black fellows left late in the afternoon.
At about ten the auctioneer arrived, and with him the Hon. Mr. Dawson. Soon after this all the elders of the township adjourned into the little courthouse to look at the plans, and I, having
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 carroty. father 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 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 gir.
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. both arms. “Jinn," 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, The lot is up. 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 boarse 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 of them spoke. The hammer came own-a. desolate, unpromising tract, down, and I saw Mr. Dawson clutch my stretching up the si
stretching up the side of the mountain father's arm.
which formed Cape Wilberforce, about