[Note: The Table of Contents and the list of illustrations were added by the transcriber. Footnotes will be found at the end of the text.]
LIPPINCOTT'S MAGAZINE OF POPULAR LITERATURE AND SCIENCE.
Vol. XV, No. 88
TABLE OF CONTENTS
AUSTRALIAN SCENES AND ADVENTURES. CONCLUDING PAPER.
THE GOLDEN EAGLE AND HIS EYRIE by W. A. BAILLIE-GROHMAN.
THREE FEATHERS by WILLIAM BLACK. CHAPTER XXIX MABYN DREAMS. CHAPTER XXX FERN IN DIE WELT. CHAPTER XXXI "BLUE IS THE SWEETEST." CHAPTER XXXII. THE EXILE'S RETURN.
SONNET by F. A. HILLARD.
NICE by R. DAVEY.
THE RASKOL, AND SECTS IN RUSSIA. I. ORIGIN OF THE RASKOL. II. OPPOSITION TO MODERN CIVILIZATION. III. INTERNAL DIVISIONS.
ELEANOR'S CAREER by ITA ANIOL PROKOP.
AN AMERICAN LADY'S OCCUPATIONS SEVENTY YEARS AGO by ETHEL C. GALE.
A MARCH VIOLET by EMMA LAZARUS.
WHAT IS A CONCLAVE? by T. ADOLPHUS TROLLOPE.
MONSOOR PACHA by GEORGE H. BOKER.
HOW HAM WAS CURED by JENNIE WOODVILLE.
ON THE STUDY OF SHAKESPEARE'S SONNETS by KATE HILLARD.
OUR MONTHLY GOSSIP. ARTISTS' MODELS IN ROME by T. A. T. FAUST IN POLAND by E. C. R. A LETTER FROM HAVANA by F. C. N. FRENCH SLANG by F. A. NOTES.
LITERATURE OF THE DAY.
FOREST OF COCKATOOS.
ASTROLABE AND ZELEE ON CORAL REEFS
MONUMENT TO BURKE AND WILLS.
BAS-RELIEF: RETURN TO COOPER'S CREEK.
BAS-RELIEF: DEATH OF BURKE.
BAS-RELIEF: FINDING OF BURKE.
VALLEY OF LAUNCESTON, VAN DIEMEN'S LAND.
COURSE OF THE TAMAR, VAN DIEMEN'S LAND.
GORGE OF THE TAMAR, VAN DIEMEN'S LAND.
ON THE WAY TO THE WOOD-DRIFT.
OUR ARRIVAL AT THE DRIFT-KEEPER'S COTTAGE.
INTERIOR OF TOMERL'S COTTAGE.
"FIXING THE BOAT-HOOK INTO AN INDENTATION, I PULLED MYSELF IN."
ENTERING THE EYRIE.
* * * * *
POPULAR LITERATURE AND SCIENCE.
Vol. XV, No. 88
* * * * *
AUSTRALIAN SCENES AND ADVENTURES.
People who go to Australia expecting every other man they meet to be a convict, and every convict a ruffian in felon's garb, will assuredly find themselves mistaken. And if contemplating a residence in Sydney or Melbourne they need not anticipate the necessity of living in a tent or a shanty, nor yet of accepting the society of convicts or negroes as the only alternative to a life of solitude. Neither will it be necessary to go armed with revolvers by day, nor to place plate and jewels under guard at night. Sydney, the capital of the penal colony, is a quiet, orderly city, abounding in villas and gardens, churches and schools, and about its well-lighted streets ride and walk well-dressed and well-bred people, whose visages betray neither the ruffian nor the cannibal. Some of them may be convicts or "ticket-of-leave-men," but this a stranger would need to be told, as they dress like others, their equipages are quite as stylish, and many of them not only amass more property, but are really more honest, than some of those never sentenced, because they know that the continuance of their freedom depends on their reputation.
The city, built on the south side of a beautiful lake, is perfectly unique in design, being composed of five broad promontories, looking like the five fingers of a hand slightly expanded. All the important streets run from east to west, and each terminates in a distinct harbor, while clearly visible from the upper portion of the street is a grand moving panorama of vessels of every description, with masts, sails and colors that seem peering out from every interstice between the houses. Each day witnesses the arrival and departure of eight or ten steamers, ferry-boats leave every half hour all the principal landings for the various sections of the city, and the wharves are lined with the shipping of every nation, many of the vessels ranging from fifteen hundred to two thousand tons burden. On a huge rock in Watson's Bay stands the lighthouse at the entrance of Port Jackson. The sea lashes the black rock with ceaseless fury, the light from the summit rendering even the base visible at a great distance. The light is 350 feet above the level of the sea, yet it was almost under its very rays that the good ship Dunbar came to grief. Missing the passage, she was engulfed in the raging sea, and her three hundred and ninety passengers perished in full view of the homes they were seeking.
Orange and almond trees, with other tropical plants, loaded with blossoms and fruit, beautify the lowlands, while in more elevated localities are found the fruits and foliage of the temperate zone, very many of them exotics brought by the settlers from their English homes. Down to the very water's edge extends the verdure of tree and shrub, overshadowing to the right Fort Jackson, and to the left Middle Harbor. The Government House commands the bay with the imposing mien of a fortress, and the magnificent reception-rooms are worthy of a sovereign's court. The garden surrounding it occupies a beautiful promontory, its borders washed by the sea, the walks shaded by trees imported from Europe, and the whole parterre redolent with tropical beauty and fragrance. On the promenades are frequently assembled at evening two or three hundred ladies and gentlemen in full dress, while military bands discourse sweet music for the entertainment of the brilliant throng.
Ballarat may be called the city of gold; Melbourne, of clubs, democracy and thriving commerce; Hobart Town takes the premium for hospitality and picturesque beauty; but Sydney bears the impress of genuine English aristocracy, in combination with a sort of Creole piquancy singularly in contrast with English exclusiveness, yet giving a wonderful charm to the society of this city of high life, so full of gayety, brilliancy and luxury. Who would recognize in the Sydney of to-day, with its four hundred thousand inhabitants, its churches, theatres and libraries, the outgrowth of the penal colony of Botany Bay, planted only eighty-seven years ago on savage shores? It was in May, 1787, that the first colony left England for Botany Bay, a squadron of eleven vessels, carrying eleven hundred and eighteen colonists to make a lodgment on an unknown shore inhabited by savages. Of these eleven hundred and eighteen, there were six hundred male and two hundred and fifty female convicts, the remaining portion being composed of officers and soldiers to take charge of the new penal settlement, under the command of Governor Phillip. From so unpromising a beginning has grown the present rich and flourishing settlement, and in lieu of the few temporary shanties erected by the first colonists there stands a magnificent city of more than ordinarily fine architecture, with banks and hospitals, schools and churches—among the latter a superb cathedral—all displaying the proverbial prodigality of labor and expense for which the English are noted in the erection and adornment of their public edifices. Among the educational establishments are the English University, with a public hall like that of Westminster; St. John's College (Catholic); and national primary and high schools, where are educated about thirty-four thousand pupils at an annual expense to the government of more than three hundred thousand dollars. From the parent colony have sprung others, while the poverty and corruption that were the distinguishing features of the original element have been gradually lost in the more recent importations of honest and respectable citizens.
Apart from the wealth and gayety of Sydney, there is much in its various grades of society to interest the average tourist. The "ticket-of-leave men"—that is, convicts who, having served out a portion of their term and been favorably reported for good conduct, are permitted to go at large and begin life anew—form a distinct class, and exert a widespread influence by their wealth, benevolence and commercial enterprise.
Very many of the better class are talented and well educated, with the manners and appearance of gentlemen; and in some cases there has been perhaps but the single crime for which they suffered expatriation and disgrace. Such as these, as a rule, conduct themselves with propriety from the moment of being sentenced; never murmur at their work or discipline, be it ever so hard; and probably after a single year of hardship are favorably reported, and permitted to seek or make homes for themselves. Many of them own bank shares and real estate, and some become immensely rich, either by ability or chance good-fortune. The property is their own, but the owners are always watched by those in power, and are liable at any moment to be ordered back to their old positions. These "remanded men" are treated with the greatest severity, and few have sufficient power of endurance to live out even a short term with its increase of rigor and hardship. Yet to the energy and enterprise of the liberated felons is probably due, more than to any other cause, that increase of prosperity which has long since rendered these colonies not only self-supporting, but a source of revenue to the Crown.
Another and the most dangerous class of convicts are those known as "bushrangers." They are desperate fellows, composed of the very lowest scum of England, have ordinarily been sentenced for life, and, having no hope of pardon or desire for amendment, they escape as soon as possible, often by the murder of one or more of their guards, and take refuge in the wilds of the interior. Some of these bushrangers are associated together in large hordes, but others roam solitary for months before they will venture to trust their lives in the hands of other desperadoes like themselves. There are hundreds of these lawless men prowling like wild beasts for their prey in the vicinity of every thoroughfare between the cities and the mines, robbing and murdering defenceless passengers, plundering the mails, and constantly exacting the best of their flocks and herds from the stockmen and shepherds, who in their isolated positions dare not refuse their demands. So desperate is the character of these outlaws that they are seldom taken, though thousands of pounds are occasionally offered for the head of some noted ringleader. They may be killed in skirmishes, but will not suffer themselves to be taken alive. A man calling himself "Black Darnley" ranged the woods for years, committing all sorts of crimes, but at length met a violent death at the hands of another convict, whose daughter he had outraged.
A curious memento of the first theatre opened in Sydney and the first performance within its walls has come down to us from the year 1796, about eight years after the establishment of the penal colony. It was opened by permission of the governor: all the actors were convicts who won the privilege by good behavior, and the price of admission was one shilling, payable in silver, flour, meat or wine. The prologue, written by a cidevant pickpocket of London, illustrates the character of the times in those early days of the colony:
From distant climes, o'er widespread seas, we come, Though not with much eclat or beat of drum, True patriots all; for be it understood, We left our country for our country's good: No private views disgraced our generous zeal; What urged our travels was our country's weal; And none will doubt but that our emigration Has proved most useful to the British nation. But, you inquire, what could our breasts inflame With this new passion for theatric fame? What in the practice of our former days Could shape our talents to exhibit plays? Your patience, sirs: some observations made, You'll grant us equal to the scenic trade. He who to midnight ladders is no stranger You'll own will make an admirable Ranger, And sure in Filch I shall be quite at home: Some true-bred Falstaff we may hope to start. The scene to vary, we shall try in time To treat you with a little pantomime. Here light and easy Columbines are found, And well-tried Harlequins with us abound. From durance vile our precious selves to keep, We often had recourse to the flying leap, To a black face have sometimes owed escape, And Hounslow Heath has proved the worth of crape. But how, you ask, can we e'er hope to soar. Above these scenes, and rise to tragic lore? Too oft, alas! we've forced the unwilling tear, And petrified the heart with real fear. Macbeth a harvest of applause will reap, For some of us, I fear, have murdered sleep. His lady, too, with grace will sleep and talk: Our females have been used at night to walk. Grant us your favor, put us to the test: To gain your smiles we'll do our very best, And without dread of future Turnkey Lockets, Thus, in an honest way, still pick your pockets!
It was by the coral-bound Straits of Torres, reckoned by navigators the most difficult in the world, that the English government determined a few years ago to send an envoy to open communication between the Australian colony and the Dutch possessions of Java and Sumatra. The Hero was the vessel selected for this perilous mission—a voyage of twelve hundred miles through seas studded thickly with reefs and islands of coral, many of which lay just beneath the surface of the waves—hidden pitfalls of death whose yawning jaws threatened instant destruction to the unwary voyager. The splendid steamer Cowarra had been wrecked on these reefs only a few months before, but a single one of her two hundred and seventy-five passengers escaping a watery grave. Her tall masts, still standing bolt upright amid the coral-reefs, presented a gaunt spectacle, plainly visible from the Hero's decks as she threaded her way among the shoaly waters, while a similar though less tragical warning was the disaster that had overtaken two other vessels, the Astrolabe and the Zelee, which by a sudden ebb of the tide were thrown high and dry upon the sands, and remained in this frightful condition for eight days before the returning waters drifted them off. But the Hero was a staunch craft—an iron blockade-runner, built at Glasgow during our late war. She was of twelve hundred tons burden, manned by forty-two men, and had already weathered storms and dangers enough to earn a right to the name she bore. Right nobly she fulfilled her dangerous mission, threading her way with difficulty among whole fields of coral, that sometimes almost enclosed her low hull as between two walls; again seeming upon the very verge of the breakers or ready to be engulfed in their whirling eddies, but emerging at last into the open channel, a monument of the skill and watchfulness of her officers. Many of these for days together never left the deck, and the lead was cast three or four times an hour during the whole passage of these dangerous seas. Such is the history of navigation in coral seas, but if full of danger, they are equally replete with picturesque beauty. In the coral isle, with its blue lagoon, its circling reef and smiling vegetation, there is a wondrous fascination; while in the long reefs, with the ocean driving furiously upon them, only to be driven pitilessly back, all wreathed in white foam and diamond spray, there is enough of the sublime to transfix the most careless observer. The barrier reef that skirts the north-east coast of the Australian continent is the grandest coral formation in the world, stretching for a distance of a thousand miles, with a varying breadth of from two hundred yards to a mile. The maximum distance from the shore is seventy miles, but it rarely exceeds twenty-five or thirty. Between this and the mainland lies a sheltered channel, safe, for the most part, when reached; but there are few open passages from the ocean, and the shoals of imperfectly-formed coral that lie concealed just below the surface render the most watchful care necessary to a safe passage. The fires of the cannibals, visible on every peak all along the coast, shed their ruddy light over the blue waters, illumining here and there some lofty crest, and adding a weird beauty to the enchanting scene.
"America has no monuments," say our Transatlantic cousins, "because it is but two hundred years old." Well, Australia, with little more than three-quarters of a hundred, has already its monument—a beautiful bronze monument erected to the memory of the explorers Burke and Wills on a lofty pedestal of elegant workmanship, and occupying a commanding eminence in the city of Melbourne. The figures, two in number, are of more than life size, one rising above the other—the chief, with noble form and dignified air, fraternally supporting his younger confrere. The pedestal shows three bas-reliefs of exquisite design—one the return to Cooper's Creek,
where the torn garments and emaciated limbs tell with sad emphasis the woeful tale of hardship and toil through which the heroic explorers had been passing; another exhibiting the subsequent death of Burke;
and the third the finding of the remains.
Burke and Wills, to whom belongs the honor of being the first explorers that crossed the entire continent of Australia, extending their researches from the Australian to the Pacific Ocean, set out on the 20th of August, 1860, with a party of fifteen hardy pioneers upon their perilous mission. Burke was in the prime of life, a man of iron frame, dauntless courage and an enthusiasm that knew neither difficulty nor danger. Wills, who belonged to a family that had already given one of its members to Sir John Franklin's fatal expedition, to find a martyr's grave among the eternal icebergs of the north, was somewhat younger, and perhaps less enthusiastic, but was endowed with a rare discretion and far-seeing sagacity that peculiarly fitted him to be the friend and counselor of the enthusiastic Burke in such an undertaking. All Melbourne was in excitement: the government gave fifty thousand dollars, various individuals ten thousand, to aid the enterprise; and every heart was aglow with aspirations for their success as the little band of heroes waved their adieus and turned their faces outward to seek paths hitherto untrodden by the white man's foot. Besides horses, twenty-seven camels had been imported from India for the express use of the explorers and for the transportation of tents, baggage, equipments, and fifteen months' supply of provisions, with vessels for carrying such supplies of water as the character of the country over which they were passing should require them to take with them. Their plan of march divided itself into three stages, of which Cooper's Creek was the middle one, and about the centre of the Australian continent. At first their progress was slow, encumbered as they were by excess of baggage and equipments: then discontents arose in the little band, and Burke, too ardent and impulsive for a leader, was first grieved, and then angered, at what he deemed a want of spirit among some of his men. On the 19th of October, at Menindie, he left a portion of the troop under the command of Lieutenant Wright, with orders after a short rest to rejoin him at Cooper's Creek. It was the end of January before Wright set out for the point indicated. Meanwhile, as month followed month, bringing to Melbourne no news of Burke's party, the worst fears were awakened concerning its fate, and an expedition was fitted out to search for the lost heroes. To young Howitt was given the command, and it was his fortune to unveil the sad mystery that had enveloped their fate. On the 29th of June, 1861, crossing the river Loddon, Howitt encountered a portion of Burke's company under the lead of Brahe, the fourth lieutenant. Four of his men had died of scurvy, and the rest of his little band seemed utterly dispirited. Howitt learned that in two months Burke had crossed the entire route, sometimes desert, sometimes prairie, between Menindie and Cooper's Creek, and had reached the borders of the Gulf of Carpentaria, on the extreme north of the continent; also, that he was there in January, enduring the fiercest heat of summer, and men and beasts alike languishing for water, and nearly out of provisions. It was all in vain that he deplored the tardiness of Wright, and hoped, as he neared Cooper's Creek, for the coming of those who alone had the means of life for his little squad of famished men. Equally in vain that Wills with three camels reconnoitred the ground for scores of miles, hoping to find water. Not an oasis, not a rivulet, was to be found, and without a single drop of water to quench their parched lips they set out on another long and dreary march. Desiring to secure the utmost speed, Burke had left Brahe on the 16th of December with the sick and most of his provisions at Cooper's Creek, to remain three months at least, and longer if they were able, while he, with Wills, Grey and King, and six camels, pushed bravely on, determined not to halt till the Pacific was reached. Battling with the terrible heat, sometimes for days together without water, and again obtaining a supply when they had almost perished for want of it, having occasional fierce conflicts with the natives, and more deadly encounters with poisonous serpents, but with an energy and courage that knew no such word as failure, the indomitable quartette went bravely on. The wished-for goal was reached, and the heroes, jubiliant though worn and weary, then returned once more to Cooper's Creek, to find the post deserted by Brahe, and Wright not arrived, while neither water nor provisions remained to supply their need.
All this Howitt learned after his arrival at the rendezvous, where he observed cut in the bark of a tree the word "Dig," and on throwing up the earth found an iron casket deposited by Brahe, giving the date of his departure and reasons for withdrawal before the appointed time. Of far deeper interest were papers written by Burke, announcing that he had reached the Pacific coast, and retraced his steps as far as Cooper's Creek—that for two months the little party had advanced rapidly, making constantly new discoveries of fertile lands, widespread prairies, gushing streams and well-watered valleys. Occasionally they had found lagoons of salt water, hills of red sand, trees of beautiful foliage, and mounds indicating the presence at some unknown period of the aboriginal inhabitants. They had discovered a range of high mountains in the north, and called them the Standish Mountains, while at their foot lay outspread a scene so lovely, of verdant groves and fertile meadows, of well-watered plains and heavy forest trees, that they christened it the Land of Promise. Then they reached again more sterile lands, parched and dry, without a rivulet or an oasis. They suffered for water and food grew scarce, but, sure of relief at Cooper's Creek, they pushed bravely on, and reached the rendezvous to learn that the men who could have saved them had passed on but seven hours before! After having accomplished so much, so bravely battled with heat and hunger, serpents and cannibals, to perish at last of starvation, seemed a fate too terrible; and we cannot wonder that the little band fought their destiny to the last. Little scraps of the journal of Burke and his friends tell the sad tale of the last few weeks of agony. On March 6th, Burke seemed near dying from having eaten a bit of a large serpent that he had cooked. On the 30th they killed one of their camels, and on April 10th they killed "Billy," Burke's favorite riding-horse. On the 11th they were forced to halt on account of the condition of Grey, who was no longer able to proceed. On the 21st they reached an oasis—a little squad of human skeletons, scarcely more than alive.
Far and wide their longing eyes gazed in search of succor: they called aloud with all their little remaining strength, but the oasis was deserted, and the echo of their own sad voices was all the reply that reached the despairing men. Then, at their rendezvous, finding the word "Dig" on the tree where Howitt found it at a later day, they opened the soil, and so learned the departure of Brahe on that very morning. How terribly tantalizing, after their exhausting march and still more exhausting return, after having killed and eaten all their camels but two, and all their horses, after making discoveries that unlocked to the world the vast interior of this hitherto unknown continent, to find that they were just too late to be saved! Despair and death seemed staring them in the face: their long overtaxed powers of endurance failed them utterly, and the gaunt spectre of famine that had been journeying with the brave men for weeks threatened now to enfold them in its terrible embrace. Should they yield without another struggle? Burke suddenly remembered Mount Despair, a cattle-station about one hundred and fifty leagues away, and with his indomitable resolution persuaded his companions to start for it, depositing first in the little iron casket the journal of his discoveries and the date of his departure. As if to add the last finishing stroke of agony to the sad story, Burke and his companions had hardly turned their faces westward ere Brahe and Wright, who had met at the passage of the Loddon, and were now overwhelmed with remorse at their careless neglect of their leader's orders, determined to revisit Cooper's Creek, and see if any tidings were to be gained of the missing party.
Thoughtless as imprudent, they did not examine the casket, but supposing it had remained undisturbed where they left it, they turned their faces southward to the Darling, utterly unsuspicious of the recent visit of Burke and his unfortunate comrades. Within two days after the trio began their dreary march to Mount Despair both their camels fell from exhaustion, but still the poor weary travelers pressed onward, continuing their search till the 24th of May. Discovering no eminence above the horizon, they then gave up in despair and began to retrace their steps, leaving on a tree the date of departure. In one more day's march they would have reached the summit and been saved!
On the 20th of June it was evident that young Wills could not long survive, and on the 29th are dated his last words, a letter to his father full of tenderness and resignation: "My death here within a few hours is certain, but my soul is calm." Still, almost in the last agony he made another effort to escape his fatal destiny, and set forth to reconnoitre the ground once more if perchance succor might be found. Alone, with none to close his eyes, he fell asleep, and Howitt after long search found the skeleton body stretched upon the sands, the natives having compassionately covered it with boughs and leaves. Burke's last words are dated on the 28th, one day earlier than those of Wills: "We have gained the shores of the ocean, but we have been aband—" The last word is unfinished, as if his pen had refused to make the cruel record. Burke's wasted remains too were found, covered with leaves and boughs. By his side lay his revolver, and the record of his great exploits was in the little casket at the foot of the tree. King survived, and was found by Howitt, naked, famished and unable to speak or walk; but after long recruiting he was able to relate the details of suffering of those last few months, unknown to all the world save himself. Howitt reverently wrapped the precious remains in the union jack, and, leaving them in their lonely grave, retraced his steps to Melbourne with the precious casket of papers, the last legacy of the dead heroes. On the 6th of the following December, Howitt again visited the desolate spot, charged with the melancholy mission of bringing back the remains for interment in Melbourne. The chaste and elegant monument that marks the spot where the heroes sleep is a far less enduring memorial than exists in the wonderful development and unprecedented prosperity which mark the colony as the fruit of the labors, sufferings and death of these martyred heroes.
A pretty romance is associated with the discovery and naming of Van Diemen's Land. A young man, Tasman by name, who had been scornfully rejected by a Dutch nabob as the suitor of his daughter, resolved to prove himself worthy of the lady of his heart. So, while his inamorata was cruelly imprisoned in the palace of her sire at Batavia, young Tasman, instead of wasting time in regrets, set forth on a voyage of adventure, seeking to win by prowess what gallantry had failed to effect. On his first voyage he so far circumnavigated the island as to be convinced of its insular character, but really saw little of the land. In subsequent voyages he made extensive explorations, calling not only the mainland, but all the little islets he discovered, by the several names and synonyms of Mademoiselle Van Diemen, his beloved. When at length he was able to lay before the Dutch government the charts of his voyages and a digest of his discoveries in the beautiful land where he had already planted the standard of Holland, the cruel sire relented and consented to receive as a son-in-law the successful adventurer. Tasman, it seems, never very fully explored the waters that surrounded his domain, and the honor was reserved to two young men, Flinders and Bass, of discovering in 1797 the deep, wide strait of two hundred and seventy miles in width that bears the name of Bass. The scenery of Van Diemen's Land is full of picturesque beauty—a sort of miniature Switzerland, with snow-clad peaks, rocks and ravines, foaming cataracts and multitudinous little lakes with their circling belt of green and dancing rivulets bordered with flowers. The Valley of Launceston is a very Arcadia of pastoral repose, while the Tamar—which in its whole course is rather a succession of beautiful lakes than an ordinary river—with its narrow defiles, basaltic rocks and sparkling cataracts, picturesque rocks that cut off one lake and suddenly reveal another, is a very miracle of beauty, dancing, frothing, foaming, like some playful sprite possessed with the very spirit of mischief.
Hobart Town, the capital of Tasmania, is a quiet, hospitable little town, but a very hotbed of aristocracy—the single spot on the Australian continent where English exclusiveness can, after the gay seasons of the large cities, retire to aristocratic country-seats, to nurse and revivify its pride of birth, without fear of coming in contact with anything parvenu or plebeian. The town is prettily laid out, with a genuine Gothic chateau for its government palace, and elegant private residences. It seems tame and deserted when visited from Sydney or Melbourne, but offers just the rest and refreshment one needs after a season of exhausting labor in the mines of Ballarat.
The rapid growth of the Australian colonies, their remoteness from the mother country, and the vastness of the territory over which they are spread, naturally suggest the question whether they are destined to remain in a condition of dependence or are likely to follow the example of their American prototypes. On this point the opinion of the count of Beauvoir is entitled to consideration, as that of an impartial as well as intelligent observer. He had expected, he tells us, in visiting the country, to find it preparing for its speedy emancipation; but he left it with the conviction that, far from desiring a severance of the connection, the colonists would regard it as a blow to their material interests—the one event, in fact, capable of arresting their unparalleled progress. It can only occur as the result of a European war in which the power of England shall be so crippled as to disable her from protecting these distant possessions, casting upon them the whole burden of self-defence, and forcing them to assume the responsibilities of national existence.
THE GOLDEN EAGLE AND HIS EYRIE.
A somewhat tedious journey of thirty hours from Paris brought me one fine afternoon in the early part of July to Kulstein, an ancient fortress forming the frontier-town of the North Tyrol, toward Bavaria. While occupied in passing my portmanteau through the prying and unutterably dirty hands of the custom-house officials I was accosted by a man dressed in the garb of a Tyrolese mountaineer—short leathern breeches reaching to the knee, gray stockings, heavy hobnailed shoes, a nondescript species of jacket of the roughest frieze, and a battered hat adorned with two or three feathers of the capercailzie and a plume of the royal eagle. Old Hansel was one of the gamekeepers on a large imperial preserve close by, with whom some years previously I had on more than one occasion shared a hard couch under the stunted pines when inopportune night overtook us near the glaciers while in hot pursuit of the chamois.
This unexpected meeting proved a source of the liveliest interest to me, inasmuch as this old veteran of the mountains was on the point of starting on an expedition of a somewhat remarkable character. A pair of golden eagles, it appeared, had made a neighboring valley the scene of their frequent ravages and depredations among the cattle and game, and Hansel was about to organize an expedition to search for, and if possible despoil, the eyrie. Of late years these birds have become very rare. Switzerland is nearly, if not quite, cleared of them, while the Tyrol, affording greater solitude and a larger stock of game, can boast of eight or at the most ten couples. They are, as is well known, the largest and most powerful of all the birds of prey inhabiting Europe, measuring from eight to eight and a half feet in the span, and possessing terrible strength of beak, talons and wings. A full-grown golden eagle can easily carry off a young chamois, a full-grown roe or a sheep, none of them weighing less than thirty pounds; and well-attested cases have occurred of young children being thus abstracted. In the fall of 1873 a boy nearly eight years of age was carried away by one of these birds from the very door of his parents' cottage, situated not far from the celebrated Koenigsee, near Salzburg.
The breeding-season falls in the month of June, and in the course of the first fortnight of the succeeding month the young offspring take wing and commence their raids in quest of pillage on their own account. The eyrie or nest is an object of the greatest care with the parent birds, the site being chosen with a view to the greatest possible security, generally in some crevice on the face of a perpendicular precipice several hundred feet in height. It is built of dry sticks of wood coated on the inside with moss. Hansel informed me of a surmise that the eyrie of this pair would be discovered in the face of the terribly steep "Falknerwand;" and although I had once before been engaged in a similar exploit, I could not resist the temptation to join in this expedition, and despatched on the spot a telegram to the friend who was awaiting my arrival in Ampezzo in order to make some ascents in the Dolomites, announcing a detention of some days. This done, we re-entered the cars and proceeded a few stations farther down the line to quaint old Rattenberg, a small town on the banks of the swift Inn. Not an hour from this place the scantily-inhabited Brandenberg valley opens on the broad and sunny Innthal. The former is merely a mountain-gorge. Far up in its recesses stands a small cottage belonging to the keeper of a wood-drift, and in close proximity to this solitary habitation is a second very wild and wellnigh inaccessible ravine, the scene of the coming adventure.
Having passed the night in the modest little inn at Rattenberg, Hansel and I set off next morning long before sunrise on our eight hours' tramp to the wood-drift by a path which was in most places of just sufficient breadth to allow of one person passing at a time. Few of my fellow-travelers of the day before would have recognized me in the costume I had donned for the occasion—an old and much-patched coat, short leathern trousers, as worn and torn as the poorest woodcutter's, and a ten-seasoned hat which had been originally green, then brown, and had now become gray. My face and knees were still bronzed from the exposure attendant on a long course of Alpine climbing the year before.
The keeper of the wood-drift was an old acquaintance of mine, whose qualities as a keen sportsman had shone forth when four or five years previously I had quartered myself for a month in his secluded neighborhood, spending the day, and frequently also the night, on the peaks and passes surrounding his cottage. To the buxom Moidel, his pretty young wife, I was also no stranger, and her smile and blush assured me that she still remembered the time when, reigning supreme over her father's cattle on a neighboring alp, she had administered to the wants of the young sportsman seeking a night's lodging in the lonesome chalet. Many a merry evening had I spent in the low, oak-paneled "general room" of Tomerl's cottage when he was still a gay young bachelor, and no change had since been made in the aspect of the apartment. In one corner stood the huge pile of pottery used for heating the room, and round it were still fixed the rows of wooden laths by means of which I had so frequently dried my soaking apparel. Running the whole length of the room was a broad bench, in front of which were placed two strong tables; and at one of these were seated, at our entrance, two woodcutters, who had heard of the intended expedition and come to offer their help. They informed us that four more men engaged in wood-felling in a forest an hour or so distant would also be delighted to join us, as they did at the close of their day's work.
The evening was spent in discussing the details of the approaching exploit and getting our various arrangements and implements in order. At nine o'clock, leaving Tomerl and his wife their accustomed bed on the top of the stove, the rest of us retired to our common bed-room, the hayloft. We were up again by three, and an hour later were all ready to start. Tomerl led the way, but stopped ere we lost sight of the cottage to shout a last "jodler" to his wife, who returned the greeting with a clear, bell-like voice, though her heart was doubtless beating fast under her smartly-laced bodice.
Three hours later we had reached the gorge, and after some difficult scrambling and wading through turbulent torrents we arrived at the base of the Falknerwand, which rises perpendicularly upward of nine hundred feet—an altitude diminished in appearance by the tenfold greater height of the surrounding mountains. Finding, after a few minutes' close observation, that nothing could be done from the base of the cliff, we proceeded to scale it by a circuitous route up a practicable but nevertheless terribly steep incline. Safely arrived at the top, we threw down our burdens and began to reconnoitre the terrain, which we did ventre a terre, bending over the cliff as far as we dared. Great was our dismay to perceive that some eighty or ninety feet below us a narrow rocky ledge, which had escaped our notice when looking up from the foot of the cliff, projected shelf-wise from the face of the precipice, shutting out all view of a crevice which we had descried from the bottom, and which, as we anticipated, contained the eyrie.
After consulting some time, we decided to lower ourselves down to this rock-band, and make it the base of our further movements, instead of operating, as we had intended, from the crest of the cliff, where everything but for this obstacle would have been tenfold easier. Posting one of the men at the top of the cliff to lower the heavy rope, three hundred feet in length, by means of a cord, we descended to the ledge, which was nowhere more than three feet in width, and in several places scarcely over a foot and a half. Standing in a single row on this miniature platform, we had to manipulate the rope with a yawning gulf some eight hundred feet in depth beside us, and nothing to lay hold of for support but the smooth face of the rock.
We began operations by driving a strong iron hook into the solid rock, at a point some two or three feet above the ledge. Through this hook the rope was passed, one end pendent over the cliff; and to obviate the peril of its being frayed and speedily severed by the sharp outer edge of our platform, we rigged up a block of wood with some iron stays to serve as an immovable pulley. These preparations completed, the men were assigned to their respective positions. Hansel and Tomerl, two renowned shots, were to lie at full length, rifle in hand, one at each end of the row, to act as my guardian angels if I were surprised and attacked by the old eagles while engaged in the work of spoliation. The remaining woodcutters, with the exception of the one who had been left on the top of the cliff, were placed in file along the ledge to lower and raise the plank which was to serve as my seat, and to which the rope was securely fastened after being passed through an iron ring attached to my stout leathern girdle. A signal-line was to hang at my side, and a hunting-knife, a revolver, a strong canvas bag to hold the booty, and an ashen pole iron-shod at one end and provided with a strong iron boathook at the other, completed my equipment, each article of which had undergone the strictest scrutiny before its adoption.
Taking the pole from the hands of Hansel, I let myself glide over the edge of the cliff, and the next moment hung in empty space. After being lowered about eighty feet, I found myself on a level with the crevice before mentioned, and gave the preconcerted signal for arresting my downward progress. Owing, however, to a beetling crag or boulder which overhung the recess, I was still at a distance of ten or twelve feet horizontally from the goal. Fixing the boathook into a convenient indentation of the rock, I gradually pulled myself in till I reached the face of the wall. Then leaving the plank, I crawled up an inclined slab of rock which led to the actual crevice, until I was stopped by a barrier of dry sticks about two feet in height. Raising myself on my knees, I peered into the oval-shaped eyrie, and saw perched up at the farther side two splendid young golden eagles.
It is a very rare occurrence to find two young eagles in one eyrie. These, though only four or five weeks old, were formidable birds, measuring considerably over six feet in the span, and displaying beaks and talons of imposing size. It took some time to capture and pinion these powerful and refractory ornithological specimens, whose loud, discordant screams caused me several times to glance involuntarily over my shoulder at the strip of horizon visible, to assure myself that the old eagles were not swooping down to the rescue. I was in the more haste to leave the eyrie that the stench which emanated from the remains of numerous victims strewn in and about it was something terrific. These relics, which I had the curiosity to count, consisted of a half-devoured carcass of a chamois, three pairs of chamois' horns and the corresponding bones of the animals, the skeleton of a goat picked clean, the remains of an Alpine hare, and the head and neck of a fawn.
The canvas bag being too small to contain both the eaglets, I was obliged to hang one of them to my belt, after tying my handkerchief round his beak. The game secured, I crept cautiously down the slab to the plank, and fixing the hook of my pole in the indentation of which I had made use in drawing myself in, I gave the preconcerted two jerks with the signal-line. Now occurred the first of a series of accidents which came near resulting fatally to the whole party. Contrary to my strict injunctions, the men hauling the rope gave a sudden and violent pull, wrenching the pole from my grasp, and communicating to the plank a motion like that of a pendulum, which sent me flying out into space, with the immediate prospect of being dashed by the retrograde swing against the solid wall of rock. Happily, I preserved my presence of mind, and grasped instantly the only chance of escape. Tilting myself back as far as the rope and the ring on my belt allowed, and stretching out my legs horizontally, I awaited the contact. Half a second later came a heavy blow on the soles of my feet, the pain of which ran through my whole frame like the shock of a galvanic battery. Had it been my head, the reader would probably never have been troubled with any account of my sensations. As it was, my feet, though protected by immensely heavy iron-shod shoes, received a concussion the effects of which continued to be felt for weeks.
Almost at the moment of this incident I had noticed a dark object shooting past me, at so close a proximity that I distinctly heard the whistling sound as it cleft the air. Supposing it to be a stone, I gave it no further thought, and my attention was presently occupied by a sharp gash which the young eagle at my belt managed to inflict on my left thigh. It was not until I had stopped the haemorrhage by strewing some grains of powder into the wound that I perceived with surprise that I was still stationary, instead of ascending, as in due course I ought to have been. The boulder of rock projecting a few feet over my head prevented any view of the ledge, and my shouts inquiring the cause of the delay received indistinct answers, the words "patience" and "wait" being the only intelligible ones. These might have had a consoling influence but for the fact that a thunderstorm—an occurrence of great frequency in the beginning of summer in the High Alps—was fast approaching, and my position was one that exposed me to its full fury without any possibility of escape. Ere long it burst over my head, drenching me to the skin in the first five minutes, while the lightning played about me in every direction, and terrific claps of thunder followed each other at intervals of scarcely a few seconds. What heightened the danger as well as the absurdity of my situation was the chance that one or both of the old eagles might return at any moment, under circumstances that must render a struggle, if any ensued, a most unequal one. Supposing my guards to be still at their post, the distance of the ledge was such as to make a shot at a flying bird, large as it might be, anything but a sure one; and the tactics of the golden eagle when defending its home do not allow of any second attempt. A speck is seen on the horizon, and the next moment the powerful bird is down with one fell swoop: a flap with its strong wing and the unhappy victim is stunned, and immediately ripped open from the chest to his hip, while his skull is cleft or fractured by a single blow of the tremendous beak. Instances are, however, known in which the cool and self-possessed "pendant" has shot or cut down his foe at the very instant of the encounter. Happily, my own powers were not put to so severe a test: the old birds were that day far off, circling probably in majestic swoops over some distant valley or gorge.
I was forced, however, to be constantly on the alert, and my impatience and perplexity may be imagined as hours elapsed and there were still no signs of my approaching deliverance. The storm had long since passed over, and darkness was settling down when I again felt a pull at the rope, and continued my ascent, begun nearly four hours before. It was of the utmost importance that the whole party should regain the top of the cliff before night had fairly set in. I therefore deferred, on my arrival at the ledge, all questions and rebukes till we had gained a place of safety. The heavy rope, fastened to the cord, was hauled up by the man on the top, and after it had been secured to a tree-stump we swarmed up without loss of time. We had still before us a somewhat perilous scramble in the darkness down the steep incline, but the exhaustion we had undergone made it necessary that we should first recruit our strength by means of the food and bottle of "Schnapps" with which we were fortunately provided. While we were thus engaged I received from my companions an account of the causes of the perilous delay.
On receiving my signal they had begun to haul, but after the first pull had felt a sudden jerk, and perceived that the block, supposed to have been securely fastened at the edge of the platform, was gone. They imagined at first that it had struck and killed me, but my shouts soon apprised them of my safety. Fearing to continue the process of hauling lest the rope should be cut by the sharp-edged stones, they informed the man on the cliff of the mishap, and despatched him to procure a second block. He accordingly ran down the slope to the bottom of the mountain, cut a young pine tree, shaped a block, and was in the act of carrying it up when the storm burst forth, and the lightning, playing around him in vivid flashes, cleft and splintered a rock weighing hundreds of tons that had stood within thirty paces of him. He received no injury except being thrown on the ground and partially stunned by the terrible concussion, but it was not till after a considerable time that he was able to rise and continue his ascent. Had he been killed, our situation would have been a most precarious one. There would have been no possibility of regaining the cliff without help, and as our party comprised all the working force of the neighborhood, and Tomerl's cottage was the only dwelling within fifteen or twenty miles, our chances of rescue would have been extremely slight.
We reached the bottom of the mountain as the upper part was beginning to be lit by the rays of a full moon, and a three hours' tramp brought us without further mishap to the cottage. Moidel, forewarned of our return by a series of "jodlers," a sound which may challenge competition as a joyful acclaim, had prepared an ample supper; and when Tomerl produced his well-tuned "zither," a species of guitar producing simple but soft and highly musical strains, the mirth was at its height. Then followed songs eulogistic of the life of the chamois-stalker, who, "with his gun in his hand, a chamois on his back and a girl in his heart," has no cause to envy a king. A dance called the "Schuhblatteln," in which the art consists in touching the soles of one's shoes with the palm of the hand, finished our evening's amusement, and we retired, rather worn out, just as day was breaking.
After four hours' sleep we rose refreshed and eager to examine our two captives. Attached to Tomerl's cottage was a diminutive barn, from which we removed the door, and nailing strong laths across the aperture, managed to improvise a large and roomy cage. A couple of rabbits furnished a luxurious breakfast, which was devoured with extraordinary voracity. The hen-bird, as is the case with all birds of prey, was considerably larger and stronger than her brother, though the latter had the finer head and eyes.
A week after their capture they were "feathered" for the first time. This process consists in pulling out the long down-like plumes situated on the under side of the strong tail-feathers. These plumes, which, if taken from a full-grown eagle, frequently measure seven or eight inches in length, are highly prized by the Tyrolese peasants, but still more by the inhabitants of the neighboring Bavarian Highlands, who do not hesitate to expend a month's wages in the purchase of two or three with which to adorn their hats or those of their buxom sweethearts. The value of a crop of plumes varies somewhat. Generally, however, an eagle yields about forty florins' ($16) worth of feathers per annum.
Six weeks after this incident I again wended my steps into the secluded Brandenburg valley, and found the eagles thriving and much grown. Being curious to see if their confinement had subdued their wild and ferocious spirit, I removed one of the laths and entered the barn. An angry hiss, similar to that of a snake, warned me of danger, but too late to save my hands some severe scratches. With one bound and a flap of their gigantic wings they were on me, and had it not been for Tomerl, who was standing just behind me armed with a stout cudgel, I should have paid dearly for my incautious visit.
I know of no instance where human skill has subdued in the slightest degree the haughty spirit of the free-born golden eagle. An untamable ferocity is the predominating characteristic of this noble bird, more than of any other animal. Circling majestically among the fleeting clouds, he reigns lord paramount over his vast domain, avoiding the sight and resenting the approach of man.
BY WILLIAM BLACK, AUTHOR OF "A PRINCESS OF THULE."
"Yes, mother," said Mabyn, bursting into the room, "here I am; and Jennifer's down stairs with my box; and I am to stay with you here for another week or a fortnight; and Wenna's to go back at once, for the whole world is convulsed because of Mr. Trelyon's coming of age; and Mrs. Trelyon has sent and taken all our spare rooms; and father says Wenna must come back directly, for it's always 'Wenna, do this,' and 'Wenna, do that;' and if Wenna isn't there, of course the sky will tumble down on the earth—Mother, what's the matter, and where's Wenna?"
Mabyn was suddenly brought up in the middle of her voluble speech by the strange expression on her mother's face.
"Oh, Mabyn, something dreadful has happened to our Wenna."
Mabyn turned deadly white. "Is she ill?" she said, almost in a whisper.
"No, not ill, but a great trouble has fallen on her."
Then the mother, in a low voice, apparently fearful that any one should overhear, began to tell her younger daughter of all she had learnt within the past day or two—how young Trelyon had been bold enough to tell Wenna that he loved her; how Wenna had dallied with her conscience and been loath to part with him; how at length she had as good as revealed to him that she loved him in return; and how she was now overwhelmed and crushed beneath a sense of her own faithlessness and the impossibility of making reparation to her betrothed.
"Only to think, Mabyn," said the mother in accents of despair, "that all this distress should have come about in such a quiet and unexpected way! Who could have foreseen it? Why, of all the people in the world, you would have thought our Wenna was the least likely to have any misery of this sort; and many a time—don't you remember?—I used to say it was so wise of her getting engaged to a prudent and elderly man, who would save her from the plagues and trials that young girls often suffer at the hands of their lovers. I thought she was so comfortably settled. Everything promised her a quiet and gentle life. And now this sudden shock has come upon her, she seems to think she is not fit to live, and she goes on in such a wild way—"
"Where is she?" Mabyn said abruptly.
"No, no, no!" the mother said anxiously, "you must not speak a word to her, Mabyn. You must not let her know I have told you anything about it. Leave her to herself, for a while at least: if you speak to her, she will take it you mean to accuse her, for she says you warned her, and she would pay no heed. Leave her to herself, Mabyn."
"Then where is Mr. Trelyon?" said Mabyn, with some touch of indignation in her voice. "What is he doing? Is he leaving her to herself too?"
"I don't know what you mean, Mabyn," her mother said timidly.
"Why doesn't he come forward like a man and marry her?" said Mabyn boldly. "Yes, that is what I would do if I were a man. She has sent him away? Yes, of course: that is right and proper. And Wenna will go on doing what is right and proper, if you allow her, to the very end, and the end will be a lifetime of misery: that's all. No, my notion is, that she should do something that is not right and is quite improper, if only it makes her happy; and you'll see if I don't get her to do it. Why, mother, haven't you had eyes to see that these two have been in love for years? Nobody in the world had ever the least control over him but her: he would do anything for Wenna; and she—why she always came back singing after she had met and spoken to him. And then you talk about a prudent and sensible husband! I don't want Wenna to marry a watchful, mean, old, stocking-darning cripple, who will creep about the house all day and peer into cupboards, and give her fourpence-halfpenny a week to live on. I want her to marry a man—one that is strong enough to protect her. And I tell you, mother—I've said it before, and I say it again—she shall not marry Mr. Roscorla."
"Mabyn," said her mother, "you are getting madder than ever. Your dislike to Mr. Roscorla is most unreasonable. A cripple! Why—"
"Oh, mother!" Mabyn cried with a bright light on her face, "only think of our Wenna being married to Mr. Trelyon, and how happy and pleased and pretty she would look as they went walking together! And then how proud he would be to have so nice a wife! and he would joke about her and be very impertinent, but he would simply worship her all the same, and do everything he could to please her. And he would take her away and show her all the beautiful places abroad; and he would have a yacht, too; and he would give her a fine house in London. And don't you think our Wenna would fascinate everybody with her mouselike ways and her nice small steps? And if they did have any trouble, wouldn't she be better to have somebody with her not timid and anxious and pettifogging, but somebody who wouldn't be cast down, but make her as brave as himself?"
Miss Mabyn was a shrewd young woman, and she saw that her mother's quick, imaginative, sympathetic nature was being captivated by this picture. She determined to have her as an ally.
"And don't you see, mother, how it all lies within her reach? Harry Trelyon is in love with her: there was no need for him to say so. I knew it long before he did. And she—why, she has told him now that she cares for him; and if I were he, I know what I'd do in his place. What is there in the way? Why, a—a sort of understanding."
"A promise, Mabyn," said the mother.
"Well, a promise," said the girl desperately, and coloring somewhat. "But it was a promise given in ignorance: she didn't know—how could she know? Everybody knows that such promises are constantly broken. If you are in love with somebody else, what's the good of your keeping the promise? Now, mother, won't you argue with her? See here: if she keeps her promise, there's three people miserable. If she breaks it, there's only one; and I doubt whether he's got the capacity to be miserable. That's two to one, or three to one, is it? Now, will you argue with her, mother?"
"Mabyn, Mabyn," the mother said with a shake of the head, but evidently pleased with the voice of the tempter, "your fancy has run away with you. Why, Mr. Trelyon has never proposed to marry her."
"I know he wants to," said Mabyn confidently.
"How can you know?"
"I'll ask him and prove it to you."
"Indeed," said the mother sadly, "it is no thought of marriage that is in Wenna's head just now. The poor girl is full of remorse and apprehension. I think she would like to start at once for Jamaica, and fling herself at Mr. Roscorla's feet and confess her fault. I am glad she has to go back to Eglosilyan: that may distract her mind in a measure: at present she is suffering more than she shows."
"Where is she?"
"In her own room, tired out and fast asleep. I looked in a few minutes ago."
Mabyn went up stairs, after having seen that Jennifer had properly bestowed her box. Wenna had just risen from the sofa, and was standing in the middle of the room. Her younger and taller sister went blithely forward to her, kissed her as usual, took no notice of the sudden flush of red that sprang into her face, and proceeded to state, in a business-like fashion, all the arrangements that had to be made.
"Have you been enjoying yourself, Wenna?" Mabyn said with a fine air of indifference.
"Oh yes," Wenna answered; adding hastily, "Don't you think mother is greatly improved?"
"Wonderfully! I almost forgot she was an invalid. How lucky you are to be going back to see all the fine doings at the Hall! Of course they will ask you up."
"They will do nothing of the kind," Wenna said with some asperity, and with her face turned aside.
"Lord and Lady Amersham have already come to the Hall."
"Yes. They said some time ago that there was a good chance of Mr. Trelyon marrying the daughter—the tall girl with yellow hair, you remember?"
"And the stooping shoulders? Yes. I should think they would be glad to get her married to anybody. She's thirty."
"Mr. Trelyon told me so," said Wenna sharply.
"And they are a little surprised," continued Mabyn in the same indifferent way, but watching her sister all the while, "that Mr. Trelyon has remained absent until so near the time. But I suppose he means to take Miss Penaluna with him. She lives here, doesn't she? They used to say there was a chance of a marriage there too."
"Mabyn, what do you mean?" Wenna said suddenly and angrily. "What do I care about Mr. Trelyon's marriage? What is it you mean?"
But the firmness of her lips began to yield: there was an ominous trembling about them, and at the same moment her younger sister caught her to her bosom, and hid her face there and hushed her wild sobbing. She would hear no confession. She knew enough. Nothing would convince her that Wenna had done anything wrong, so there was no use speaking about it.
"Wenna," she said in a low voice, "have you sent him any message?"
"Oh no, no!" the girl said trembling. "I fear even to think of him; and when you mentioned his name, Mabyn, it seemed to choke me. And now I have to go back to Eglosilyan; and oh, if you only knew how I dread that, Mabyn!"
Mabyn's conscience was struck. She it was who had done this thing. She had persuaded her father that her mother needed another week or fortnight at Penzance; she had frightened him by telling what bother he would suffer if Wenna were not back at the inn during the festivities at Trelyon Hall; and then she had offered to go and take her sister's post. George Rosewarne was heartily glad to exchange the one daughter for the other. Mabyn was too independent; she thwarted him; sometimes she insisted on his bestirring himself. Wenna, on the other hand, went about the place like some invisible spirit of order, making everything comfortable for him without noise or worry. He was easily led to issue the necessary orders; and so it was that Mabyn thought she was doing her sister a friendly turn by sending her back to Eglosilyan in order to join in congratulating Harry Trelyon on his entrance into man's estate. Now Mabyn found that she had only plunged her sister into deeper trouble. What could be done to save her?
"Wenna," said Mabyn rather timidly, "do you think he has left Penzance?"
Wenna turned to her with a sudden look of entreaty in her face: "I cannot bear to speak of him, Mabyn. I have no right to: I hope you will not ask me. Just now I—I am going to write a letter—to Jamaica. I shall tell the whole truth. It is for him to say what must happen now. I have done him a great injury: I did not intend it, I had no thought of it, but my own folly and thoughtlessness brought it about, and I have to bear the penalty. I don't think he need be anxious about punishing me."
She turned away with a tired look on her face, and began to get out her writing materials. Mabyn watched her for a moment or two in silence; then she left and went to her own room, saying to herself, "Punishment! Whoever talks of punishment will have to address himself to me."
When she got to her own room she wrote these words on a piece of paper in her firm, bold, free hand: "A friend would like to see you for a minute in front of the post-office in the middle of the town." She put that in an envelope, and addressed the envelope to Harry Trelyon, Esq. Still keeping her bonnet on, she went down stairs and had a little general conversation with her mother, in the course of which she quite casually asked the name of the hotel at which Mr. Trelyon had been staying. Then, just as if she were going out to the Parade to have a look at the sea, she carelessly left the house.
The dusk of the evening was growing to dark. A white mist lay over the sea. The solitary lamps were being lit along the Parade, each golden star shining sharply in the pale purple twilight, but a more confused glow of orange showed where the little town was busy in its narrow thoroughfares. She got hold of a small boy, gave him the letter, a sixpence and his instructions. He was to ask if the gentleman were in the hotel. If not, had he left Penzance, or would he return that night? In any case, the boy was not to leave the letter unless Mr. Trelyon was there.
The small boy returned in a couple of minutes. The gentleman was there, and had taken the letter. So Mabyn at once set out for the centre of the town, and soon found herself in among a mass of huddled houses, bright shops and thoroughfares pretty well filled with strolling sailors, women getting home from market and townspeople come out to gossip. She had accurately judged that she would be less observed in this busy little place than out on the Parade; and as it was the first appointment she had ever made to meet a young gentleman alone, she was just a little nervous.
Trelyon was there. He had recognized the handwriting in a moment. He had no time to ridicule or even to think of Mabyn's school-girl affectation of secresy: he had at once rushed off to the place of appointment, and that by a short cut of which she had no knowledge.
"Mabyn, what's the matter? Is Wenna ill?" he said, forgetting in his anxiety even to shake hands with her.
"Oh no, she isn't," said Mabyn rather coldly and defiantly. If he was in love with her sister, it was for him to make advances. "Oh no, she's pretty well, thank you," continued Mabyn, indifferently. "But she never could stand much worry. I wanted to see you about that. She is going back to Eglosilyan to-morrow; and you must promise not to have her asked up to the Hall while these grand doings are going on—you must not try to see her and persuade her. If you could keep out of her way altogether—"
"You know all about it, then, Mabyn?" he said suddenly; and even in the dusky light of the street she could see the rapid look of gladness that filled his face. "And you are not going to be vexed, eh? You'll remain friends with me, Mabyn—you will tell me how she is from time to time. Don't you see, I must go away; and—and, by Jove, Mabyn! I've got such a lot to tell you!"
She looked round.
"I can't talk to you here. Won't you walk back by the other road behind the town?" he said.
Yes, she would go willingly with him now. The anxiety of his face, the almost wild way in which he seemed to beg for her help and friendship, the mere impatience of his manner, pleased and satisfied her. This was as it should be. Here was no sweetheart by line and rule, demonstrating his affection by argument, and acting at all times with a studied propriety; but a real, true lover, full of passionate hope and as passionate fear; ready to do anything, and yet not knowing what to do. Above all, he was "brave and handsome, like a prince," and therefore a fit lover for her gentle sister.
"Oh, Mr. Trelyon," she said with a great burst of confidence, "I did so fear that you might be indifferent!"
"Indifferent!" said he with some bitterness. "Perhaps that is the best thing that could happen, only it isn't very likely to happen. Did you ever see anybody placed as I am placed, Mabyn? Nothing but stumbling-blocks every way I look. Our family have always been hot-headed and hot-tempered: if I told my grandmother at this minute how I am situated, I believe she would say, 'Why don't you go like a man and run off with the girl?'"
"Yes!" said Mabyn, quite delighted.
"But suppose you've bothered and worried the girl until you feel ashamed of yourself, and she begs of you to leave her, aren't you bound in fair manliness to go?"
"I don't know," said Mabyn doubtfully.
"Well, I do. It would be very mean to pester her. I'm off as soon as these people leave the Hall. But then there are other things. There is your sister engaged to this fellow out in Jamaica—"
"Isn't he a horrid wretch?" said Mabyn between her teeth.
"Oh, I quite agree with you. If I could have it out with him now! But, after all, what harm has the man done? Is it any wonder he wanted to get Wenna for a wife?"
"Oh, but he cheated her," said Mabyn warmly. "He persuaded her and reasoned with her, and argued her into marrying him. And what business had he to tell her that love between young people is all bitterness and trial, and that a girl is only safe when she marries a prudent and elderly man who will look after her? Why, it is to look after him that he wants her. Wenna is going to him as a housekeeper and a nurse. Only—only, Mr. Trelyon, she hasn't gone to him just yet!"
"Oh, I don't think he did anything unfair," the young man said gloomily. "It doesn't matter, anyhow. What I was going to say is, that my grandmother's notion of what one of our family ought to do in such a case can't be carried out: whatever you may think of a man, you can't go and try to rob him of his sweetheart behind his back. Even supposing she were willing to break with him—which she is not—you've at least got to wait to give the fellow a chance."
"There I quite disagree with you, Mr. Trelyon," Mabyn said warmly. "Wait to give him a chance to make our Wenna miserable! Is she to be made the prize of a sort of fight? If I were a man I'd pay less attention to my own scruples and try what I could do for her—Oh, Mr. Trelyon—I—I beg your pardon."
Mabyn suddenly stopped on the road, overwhelmed with confusion. She had been so warmly thinking of her sister's welfare that she had been hurried into something worse than an indiscretion.
"What then, Mabyn?" said he, profoundly surprised.
"I beg your pardon: I have been so thoughtless. I had no right to assume that you wished—that you wished for the—for the opportunity—"
"Of marrying Wenna?" said he with a great stare. "But what else have we been speaking about? Or rather, I suppose we did assume it. Well, the more I think over it, Mabyn, the more I am maddened by all these obstacles, and by the notion of all the things that may happen. That's the bad part of my going away. How can I tell what may happen? He might come back and insist on her marrying him right off."
"Mr. Trelyon," said Mabyn, speaking very clearly, "there's one thing you may be sure of. If you let me know where you are, nothing will happen to Wenna that you don't hear of."
He took her hand and pressed it in mute thankfulness. He was not insensible to the value of having so warm an advocate, so faithful an ally, always at Wenna's side.
"How long do letters take in going to Jamaica?" Mabyn asked.
"I don't know."
"I could fetch him back for you directly," said she, "if you would like that."
"By writing and telling him that you and Wenna were going to get married. Wouldn't that fetch him back pretty quickly?"
"I doubt it. He wouldn't believe it of Wenna. Then he is a sensible sort of fellow, and would say to himself that if the news was true he would have his journey for nothing. Besides, Barnes says that things are looking well with him in Jamaica—better than anybody expected. He might not be anxious to leave."
They had now got back to the Parade, and Mabyn stopped: "I must leave you now, Mr. Trelyon. Mind not to go near Wenna when you get to Eglosilyan."
"She sha'n't even see me. I shall be there only a couple of days or so; then I am going to London. I am going to have a try at the Civil Service examinations—for first commissions, you know. I shall only come back to Eglosilyan for a day now and again at long intervals. You have promised to write to me, Mabyn. Well, I'll send you my address."
She looked at him keenly as she offered him her hand. "I wouldn't be downhearted if I were you," she said. "Very odd things sometimes happen."
"Oh, I sha'n't be very down-hearted," said he, "so long as I hear that she is all right, and not vexing herself about anything."
"Good-bye, Mr. Trelyon. I am sorry I can't take any message for you."
"To her? No, that is impossible. Good-bye, Mabyn: I think you are the best friend I have in the world."
"We'll see about that," she said as she walked rapidly off.
Her mother had been sufficiently astonished by her long absence: she was now equally surprised by the excitement and pleasure visible in her face.
"Oh, mammy, do you know whom I've seen? Mr. Trelyon."
"Yes. We've walked right round Penzance all by ourselves. And it's all settled, mother."
"What is all settled?"
"The understanding between him and me. An offensive and defensive alliance. Let tyrants beware!"
She took off her bonnet and came and sat down on the floor by the side of the sofa: "Oh, mammy, I see such beautiful things in the future! You wouldn't believe it if I told you all I see. Everybody else seems determined to forecast such gloomy events. There's Wenna crying and writing letters of contrition, and expecting all sorts of anger and scolding; there's Mr. Trelyon haunted by the notion that Mr. Roscorla will suddenly come home and marry Wenna right off; and as for him out there in Jamaica, I expect he'll be in a nice state when he hears of all this. But far on ahead of all that I see such a beautiful picture!"
"It is a dream of yours, Mabyn," her mother said, but there was an imaginative light in her fine eyes too.
"No, it is not a dream, mother, for there are so many people all wishing now that it should come about, in spite of these gloomy fancies. What is there to prevent it when we are all agreed?—Mr. Trelyon and I heading the list with our important alliance; and you, mother, would be so proud to see Wenna happy; and Mrs. Trelyon pets her as if she were a daughter already; and everybody—every man, woman and child—in Eglosilyan would rather see that come about than get a guinea apiece. Oh, mother, if you could see the picture that I see just now!"
"It is a pretty picture, Mabyn," her mother said, shaking her head. "But when you think of everybody being agreed, you forget one, and that is Wenna herself. Whatever she thinks fit and right to do, that she is certain to do, and all your alliances and friendly wishes won't alter her decision, even if it should break her heart. And indeed I hope the poor child won't sink under the terrible strain that is on her: what do you think of her looks, Mabyn?"
"They want mending—yes, they want mending," Mabyn admitted, apparently with some compunction, but then she added boldly, "and you know as well as I do, mother, that there is but the one way of mending them."
FERN IN DIE WELT.
If this story were not tied by its title to the duchy of Cornwall, it might be interesting enough to follow Mr. Roscorla into the new world that had opened all around him, and say something of the sudden shock his old habits had thus received, and of the quite altered views of his own life he had been led to form. As matters stand, we can only pay him a flying visit.
He is seated in a verandah fronting a garden, in which pomegranates and oranges form the principal fruit. Down below him some blacks are bringing provisions up to Yacca Farm along the cactus avenue leading to the gate. Far away on his right the last rays of the sun are shining on the summit of Blue Mountain Peak, and along the horizon the reflected glow of the sky shines on the calm sea. It is a fine, still evening; his cigar smells sweet in the air; it is a time for indolent dreaming and for memories of home.
But Mr. Roscorla is not so much enraptured by thoughts of home as he might be. "Why," he is saying to himself, "my life in Basset Cottage was no life at all, but only a waiting for death. Day after day passed in that monotonous fashion: what had one to look forward to but old age, sickness, and then the quiet of a coffin? It was nothing but an hourly procession to the grave, varied by rabbit-shooting. This bold breaking away from the narrow life of such a place has given me a new lease of existence. Now I can look back with surprise on the dullness of that Cornish village, and on the regularity of habits which I did not know were habits. For is not that always the case? You don't know that you are forming a habit: you take each act to be an individual act, which you may perform or not at will; but, all the same, the succession of them is getting you into its power; custom gets a grip of your ways of thinking as well as your ways of living; the habit is formed, and it does not cease its hold until it conducts you to the grave. Try Jamaica for a cure. Fling a sleeping man into the sea, and watch if he does not wake. Why, when I look back to the slow, methodical, common-place life I led at Eglosilyan, can I wonder that I was sometimes afraid of Wenna Rosewarne regarding me as a somewhat staid and venerable individual, on whose infirmities she ought to take pity?"
He rose and began to walk up and down the verandah, putting his foot down firmly. His loose linen suit was smart enough: his complexion had been improved by the sun. The consciousness that his business affairs were promising well did not lessen his sense of self-importance.
"Wenna must be prepared to move about a bit when I go back," he was saying to himself. "She must give up that daily attendance on cottagers' children. If all turns out well, I don't see why we should not live in London, for who will know there who her father was? That consideration was of no consequence so long as I looked forward to living the rest of my life in Basset Cottage: now there are other things to be thought of when there is a chance of my going among my old friends again."
By this time, it must be observed, Mr. Roscorla had abandoned his hasty intention of returning to England to upbraid Wenna with having received a ring from Harry Trelyon. After all, he reasoned with himself, the mere fact that she should talk thus simply and frankly about young Trelyon showed that, so far as she was concerned, her loyalty to her absent lover was unbroken. As for the young gentleman himself, he was, Mr. Roscorla knew, fond of joking. He had doubtless thought it a fine thing to make a fool of two or three women by imposing on them this cock-and-bull story of finding a ring by dredging. He was a little angry that Wenna should have been deceived; but then, he reflected, these gypsy rings are so much like one another that the young man had probably got a pretty fair duplicate. For the rest, he did not want to quarrel with Harry Trelyon at present.
But as he was walking up and down the verandah, looking a much younger and brisker man than the Mr. Roscorla who had left Eglosilyan, a servant came through the house and brought him a couple of letters. He saw they were respectively from Mr. Barnes and from Wenna; and, curiously enough, he opened the reverend gentleman's first—perhaps as schoolboys like to leave the best bit of a tart to the last.
He read the letter over carefully; he sat down and read it again; then he put it before him on the table. He was evidently puzzled by it. "What does this man mean by writing these letters to me?"—so Mr. Roscorla, who was a cautious and reflective person, communed with himself.—"He is no particular friend of mine. He must be driving at something. Now he says that I am to be of good cheer. I must not think anything of what he formerly wrote. Mr. Trelyon is leaving Eglosilyan for good, and his mother will at last have some peace of mind. What a pity it is that this sensitive creature should be at the mercy of the rude passions of this son of hers! that she should have no protector! that she should be allowed to mope herself to death in a melancholy seclusion!"
An odd fancy occurred to Mr. Roscorla at this moment, and he smiled: "I think I have got a clew to Mr. Barnes's disinterested anxiety about my affairs. The widower would like to protect the solitary and unfriended widow, but the young man is in the way. The young man would be very much in the way if he married Wenna Rosewarne; the widower's fears drive him into suspicion, then into certainty; nothing will do but that I should return to England at once and spoil this little arrangement. But as soon as Harry Trelyon declares his intention of leaving Eglosilyan for good, then my affairs may go anyhow. Mr. Barnes finds the coast clear: I am bidden to stay where I am. Well, that is what I mean to do; but now I fancy I understand Mr. Barnes's generous friendship for me and his affectionate correspondence."
He turned to Wenna's letter with much compunction. He owed her some atonement for having listened to the disingenuous reports of this scheming clergyman. How could he have so far forgotten the firm, uncompromising rectitude of the girl's character, her sensitive notions of honor, the promises she had given?
He read her letter, and as he read his eyes seemed to grow hot with rage. He paid no heed to the passionate contrition of the trembling lines—to the obvious pain that she had endured in telling the story, without concealment, against herself—to the utter and abject wretchedness with which she awaited his decision. It was thus that she had kept faith with him the moment his back was turned! Such were the safeguards afforded by a woman's sense of honor! What a fool he had been, to imagine that any woman could remain true to her promise so soon as some other object of flirtation and incipient love-making came in her way!
He looked at the letter again: he could scarcely believe it to be in her handwriting. This the quiet, reasonable, gentle and timid Wenna Rosewarne, whose virtues were almost a trifle too severe? The despair and remorse of the letter did not touch him—he was too angry and indignant over the insult to himself—but it astonished him. The passionate emotion of those closely-written pages he could scarcely connect with the shy, frank, kindly little girl he remembered: it was a cry of agony from a tortured woman, and he knew at least that for her the old quiet time was over.
He knew not what to do. All this that had happened was new to him: it was old and gone by in England, and who could tell what further complications might have arisen? But his anger required some vent: he went in-doors, called for a lamp, and sat down and wrote with a hard and resolute look on his face:
"I have received your letter. I am not surprised. You are a woman, and I ought to have known that a woman's promise is of value so long as you are by her side to see that she keeps it. You ask what reparation you can make: I ask if there is any that you can suggest. No: you have done what cannot be undone. Do you think a man would marry a woman who is in love with, or has been in love with, another man, even if he could overlook her breach of faith and the shameless thoughtlessness of her conduct? My course is clear, at all events. I give you back the promise that you did not know how to keep; and now you can go and ask the young man who has been making a holiday toy of you whether he will be pleased to marry you.
He sealed and addressed this letter, still with the firm, hard look about his face: then he summoned a servant—a tall, red-haired Irishman. He did not hesitate for a moment: "Look here, Sullivan: the English mails go out to-morrow morning. You must ride down to the post-office as hard as you can go; and if you're a few minutes late, see Mr. Keith and give him my compliments, and ask him if he can possibly take this letter if the mails are not made up. It is of great importance. Quick, now!"
He watched the man go clattering down the cactus avenue until he was out of sight. Then he turned, put the letters in his pocket, went in-doors, and again struck a small gong that did duty for a bell. He wanted his horse brought round at once. He was going over to Pleasant Farm: probably he would not return that night. He lit another cigar, and paced up and down the gravel in front of the house until the horse was brought round.
When he reached Pleasant Farm the stars were shining overhead, and the odors of the night-flowers came floating out of the forest, but inside the house there were brilliant lights and the voices of men talking. A bachelor supper-party was going forward. Mr. Roscorla entered, and presently was seated at the hospitable board. They had never seen him so gay, and they had certainly never seen him so generously inclined, for Mr. Roscorla was economical in his habits. He would have them all to dinner the next evening, and promised them such champagne as had never been sent to Kingston before. He passed round his best cigars, he hinted something about unlimited loo, he drank pretty freely, and was altogether in a jovial humor.
"England!" he said, when some one mentioned the mother-country. "Of one thing I am pretty certain: England will never see me again. No, a man lives here: in England he waits for his death. What life I have got before me I shall live in Jamaica: that is my view of the question."
"Then she is coming out to you?" said his host with a grin.
Roscorla's face flushed with anger. "There is no she in the matter," he said abruptly, almost fiercely. "I thank God I am not tied to any woman!"
"Oh, I beg your pardon," said his host good-naturedly, who did not care to recall the occasions on which Mr. Roscorla had been rather pleased to admit that certain tender ties bound him to his native land.
"No, there is not," he said. "What fool would have his comfort and peace of mind depend on the caprice of a woman? I like your plan better, Rogers: when they're dependent on you, you can do as you like, but when they've got to be treated as equals, they're the devil. No, my boys, you don't find me going in for the angel in the house—she's too exacting. Is it to be unlimited?"
Now to play unlimited loo in a reckless fashion is about the easiest way of getting rid of money that the ingenuity of man has devised. The other players were much better qualified to run such risks than Mr. Roscorla, but none played half so wildly as he. His I.O.U.'s went freely about. At one point in the evening the floating paper bearing the signature of Mr. Roscorla represented a sum of about three hundred pounds, and yet his losses did not weigh heavily on him. At length every one got tired, and it was resolved to stop short at a certain hour. But from this point the luck changed: nothing could stand against his cards; one by one his I.O.U.'s were recalled; and when they all rose from the table he had won about forty-eight pounds. He was not elated.
He went to his room and sat down in an easy-chair; and then it seemed to him that he saw Eglosilyan once more, and the far coasts of Cornwall, and the broad uplands lying under a blue English sky. That was his home, and he had cut himself away from it, and from the little glimmer of romance that had recently brightened it for him. Every bit of the place, too, was associated somehow with Wenna Rosewarne. He could see the seat fronting the Atlantic on which she used to sit and sew on the fine summer forenoons. He could see the rough road leading over the downs on which he met her one wintry morning, she wrapped up and driving her father's dog-cart, while the red sun in the sky seemed to brighten the pink color the cold wind had brought into her cheeks. He thought of her walking sedately up to church; of her wild scramblings among the rocks with Mabyn; of her enjoyment of a fierce wind when it came laden with the spray of the great rollers breaking on the cliff outside. What was the song she used to sing to herself as she went along the quiet woodland ways?—
Your Polly has never been false, she declares, Since last time we parted at Wapping Old Stairs.
He could not let her go. All the anger of wounded vanity had left his heart: he thought now only of the chance he was throwing away. Where else could he hope to find for himself so pleasant a companion and friend, who would cheer up his dull daily life with her warm sympathies, her quick humor, her winning womanly ways?
He thought of that letter he had sent away, and cursed his own folly. So long as she was bound by her promise he knew he could marry her when he pleased, but now he had voluntarily released her. In a couple of weeks she would hold her manumission in her hands; the past would no longer have any power over her; if ever they met they would meet as mere acquaintances. Every moment the prize slipping out of his grasp seemed to grow more valuable; his vexation with himself grew intolerable; he suddenly resolved that he would make a wild effort to get back that fatal letter.
He had sat communing with himself for over an hour: all the household was fast asleep. He would not wake any one, for fear of being compelled to give explanations; so he noiselessly crept along the dark passages until he got to the door, which he carefully opened and let himself out. The night was wonderfully clear, the constellations throbbing and glittering overhead: the trees were black against the pale sky.
He made his way round to the stables, and had some sort of notion that he would try to get at his horse, until it occurred to him that some suddenly awakened servant or master would probably send a bullet whizzing at him. So he abandoned that enterprise, and set off to walk as quickly as he could down the slopes of the mountain, with the stars still shining over his head, the air sweet with powerful scents, the leaves of the bushes hanging silently in the semi-darkness.
How long he walked he did not know: he was not aware that when he reached the sleeping town a pale gray was lightening the eastern skies. He went to the house of the postmaster and hurriedly aroused him. Mr. Keith began to think that the ordinarily sedate Mr. Roscorla had gone mad.
"But I must have the letter," he said. "Come now, Keith, you can give it me back if you like. Of course I know it is very wrong, but you'll do it to oblige a friend."
"My dear sir," said the postmaster, who could not get time for explanation, "the mails were made up last night—"
"Yes, yes, but you can open the English bag."
"They were sent on board last night."
"Then the packet is still in the harbor: you might come down with me."
"She sails at daybreak."
"It is not daybreak yet," said Mr. Roscorla, looking up.
Then he saw how the gray dawn had come over the skies, banishing the stars, and he became aware of the wan light shining around him. With the new day his life was altered; he would no more be as he had been; the chief aim and purpose of his existence had been changed.
Walking heedlessly back, he came to a point from which he had a distant view of the harbor and the sea beyond. Far away out on the dull gray plain was a steamer slowly making her way toward the east. Was that the packet bound for England, carrying to Wenna Rosewarne the message that she was free?
"BLUE IS THE SWEETEST."
The following correspondence may now, without any great breach of confidence, be published:
"EGLOSILYAN, Monday morning.
DEAR MR. TRELYON: Do you know what Mr. Roscorla says in the letter Wenna has just received? Why, that you could not get up that ring by dredging, but that you must have bought the other one at Plymouth. Just think of the wicked old wretch fancying such things! As if you would give a ring of emeralds to any one! Tell me that this is a story, that I may bid Wenna contradict him at once. I have got no patience with a man who is given over to such mean suspicions. Yours faithfully,
"LONDON, Tuesday night.
Dear Mabyn: I am sorry to say Mr. Roscorla is right. It was a foolish trick—I did not think it would be successful, for my hitting the size of her finger was rather a stroke of luck—but I thought it would amuse her if she did find it out after an hour or two. I was afraid to tell her afterward, for she would think it impertinent. What's to be done? Is she angry about it. Yours sincerely,
Dear Mr. Trelyon: How could you do such a thing? Why, to give Wenna, of all people in the world, an emerald ring, just after I had got Mr. Roscorla to give her one, for bad luck to himself! Why, how could you do it? I don't know what to say about it, unless you demand it back, and send her one with sapphires in it at once.
P.S.—As quick as ever you can."
"LONDON, Friday evening.
Dear Mabyn: Why, you know she wouldn't take a sapphire ring or any other from me. Yours faithfully,
"MY DEAR MR. TRELYON: Pray don't lose any time in writing, but send me at once a sapphire ring for Wenna. You have hit the size once, and you can do it again; but in any case I have marked the size on this bit of thread, and the jeweler will understand. And please, dear Mr. Trelyon, don't get a very expensive one, but a plain, good one, just what a poor person like me would buy for a present if I wanted to. And post it at once, please: this is very important. Yours most sincerely,
In consequence of this correspondence Mabyn one morning proceeded to seek out her sister, whom she found busy with the accounts of the sewing club, which was now in a flourishing condition. Mabyn seemed a little shy. "Oh, Wenna," she said, "I have something to tell you. You know I wrote to ask Mr. Trelyon about the ring. Well, he's very, very sorry—oh, you don't know how sorry he is, Wenna—but it's quite true. He thought he'd please you by getting the ring, and that you would make a joke of it when you found it out; and then he was afraid to speak of it afterward."
Wenna had quietly slipped the ring off her finger. She betrayed no emotion at the mention of Mr. Trelyon's name. Her face was a trifle red: that was, all. "It was a stupid thing to do," she said, "but I suppose he meant no harm. Will you send him back the ring?"