|Chapter Number||3. XXVI|
|Newspaper Title||The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 - 1933)|
|Trove Title||His Natural Life|
His Natural Life*
By Marcus Clarke.
Chapter XXVI. — (Continued.)
Arrived at the foot of the cliff, Blunt and Staples found themselves in almost complete darkness, for the light of the mysterious
fire, which had hitherto guided them, had necessarily disappeared. Calm as was the night
and still as was the ocean, the sea yet ran with silent but dangerous strength through the channel which led to the Blow-hole; and Blunt, instinctively feeling the boat drawn towards some unknown peril, held off the shelf of rocks out of reach of the current. A sudden flash of fire, as from a flourished brand, burst out above them, and floating downwards through the darkness, in erratic circles, came an atom of burning wood. Surely no one but a hunted man would lurk in such a savage retreat.
Blunt, in desperate anxiety, determined to risk all upon one venture. "John Rex!" he shouted up through his rounded hands. The light flashed again at the eye-hole of the mountain, and on the point above them appeared a wild figure, holding in its hands a burning
log, whose fierce glow illumined a face so con- torted by deadly fear and agony of expectation, that it was scarce human. "Here! here!"
The poor devil seems half-crazy," says Will Staples, under his breath; and then aloud,
"We're Friends !"
A few moments sufficed to explain matters. The terrors which had oppressed John Rex dis- appeared in human presence, and the villain found his coolness return. Kneeling on the rock platform, he held parley. "It is impossible for me to come down now," he said. "The tide covers the only way out of the cavern."
"Can't you dive through it?" says Will Staples.
"No, nor you neither," says Rex, shuddering at the thought of trusting himself to that horrible whirlpool.
"What's to be done ? You can't come down that wall."
"Wait until morning," returned Rex, coolly. "It will be dead low tide at seven o'clock. You must send a boat at six, or thereabouts. It will be low enough for me to get out, I dare say, by
"But the Guard?"
"—— Won't come here, my man. They've
got their work to do in watching the Neck and exploring after my mates. They won't come here. Besides, I'm dead."
"Thought to be so, which is as well — better for me, perhaps. If they don't see your ship, or
your boat, you're safe enough."
" I don't like to risk it," says Blunt. "It's Life if we're caught, remember."
"It's Death if I'm caught!" returned the other, with a sinister laugh. "But there's no danger if you are cautious. No one looks for rats in a terrier's kennel, and there's not a station along the beach from here to Cape Pillar. Take your vessel out of eye-shot of the Neck, bring the boat up Descent Beach, and the thing's
"Well," says Blunt, "I'll try it."
"You wouldn't like to stop here till morning? It is rather lonely," suggesteel Rex, absolutely making a jest of his late terrors.
Will Staples laughed. "You're a bold boy !" said he. "We'll come at day-break."
" Have you got tho clothes as I directed ?"
" Then good.night. I'll put my fire out, in ease somebody else might see it, who wouldn't be as kind os you arc."
." Not a word for tho Madam," said Staples, when they reached the vessel.
"Not a word, the ungrateful dog," assented Blunt, adding with some boat, " That's the way with women. They'll go through fire nnd water for a man that doesn't caro a snap of his fingers for 'om ; but any poor fellow who risks his neck to pleasure 'em they'vu nothing but sucers I I
wish I'd never meddled in tho business."
" There aro no fool3 like old fools," thought "Will Staples, looking back through the darkness at the place where the fire had been, but he did not utter his thoughts aloud.
At eight o'clock tho next morning the Pretty Mary stooel out to sea with every stitch of canvas set, alow and aloft. The skipper's fisbitie had come to an end.,. Ile had »¦«»«??*-* shipwrecked seaman, who had been brought on boord at daylight, nnd was then at breakfast in the cabin. The crew winked at each other
when tho haggard mariner, attired in garments that seemeel remarkably well preserved, mounted the side. But they, none of them, were in a position to controvert tho skipper's statement.
"AATiere aro we bound for?" asked John Rex, smoking Staple's pipe in lingering puffs of delight. "I'm entirely iu your hands, ray worthy Blunt."
" My orders aro to cruise about the whaling grounds until I meet my consort," returned Blunt, sullenly, " and put you aboard her. She'll take you back to Sydney. I'm victualled for a twelvemonth's trip."
"Right!" cries Rex, clapping his preserver on the back. " I'm bound to get to Syilney some ? how; but, as the Philistines are abroad, I may
as well tarry in Jericho till my beard be grown. Don't stare at my scriptural eniotatiou, Mr. Staples," he added, inspirited by creature . comforts, and secure amid his purchased friends.
" I assure you that I've had the very best re- ligious instruction. Indeed, it is chiefly owing to my worthy spiritual pastor and master that I am enabled to smoke this very villanous tobacco of yours at the present moment!"
' ? Chapter XXA7II.
THE VALLEV OF THE SUAD0W OF DEATH.
It was not until they had scrambled up the beach to safety that the absconders became fully aware of tho loss of another of their companions. As they Btood on the break of the beach, wringing the water from their clothes, Gabbett's small eye counting their number missed the
" AVhere's Cox ?"
"The fool fell overboard," said Jemmy Aretch, shortly. " He never had as much sense in that skull of his as would keep it sound on his
Gabbett scowled. " That's three of us gone," he said in tho tones of a man suffering somo personal injury.
They summed up their means of defence 1 against attack. Saunders aud Greenhill had
knives. Gabbett still retained the axe in his belt. Vetch had dropped his musket at the Neck; and Bodenham and Cornelius were
" Let's have a look at the tucker," said Vetch. There was but one bag of provisions. It con .' tained a piece of salt pork, two loaves, and some
uncooked potatoes. Signal Ilill Station tvoo not
rich in edibles,
" That ain't much," said the Crow, with rueful face. "Is it, Gabbett?"
"It must do, anyway," returned the giant carelessly.
The inspection over, the six proceeded up the shore, and encamped under the lee of a rock. Bodenham was for lighting a fire, but Aretch, who by tacit consent had been chosen leader of the expedition, forbade it, saying that the light might betray them. "They'll think we're drowned, and won't pursue us," ho said. So all that night the miserable wretches crouched fireless together.
Morning breaks clear and bright, and?free for the first time in ten years?they comprehend that their terrible journey has begun. " AATiere are we to go ?^How aro we to live ?" asks Bodenham, Boanning the barren bush that stretches to tho barren sea. " Gabbett, you've
been out before?how's it done!"
" AA'e'U make the shepherds' huts, and live on their tucker till we get a change o'clothes," says Gabbett, evading the main question, " AVe can
follow the coast line."
"Steady, lads," says prudent Vetch ; we must 4, sneak round yon sandhills, and so creep into the
scrub.. If they've a good glass at the Neck, they
"It does seem close,", says Bodenham j "I could pitch a stone on to the guard-house. Good-bye, you Bloody Spot," he adds, with sudden rage, shaking his fist -vindictively at the Penitentiary. "I don't want to see you no more till the Day o' Judgment."
Vetch divides the provisions, and they travel all that day until dark night The scrub is prickly and dense. Their clothes are torn, then hands and faces bleeding. Already they feel out-wearied. No one Beeming to pursue, they light a fire, and sleep. ."The second day they
cbino toa'sindy spit that runs out into the sea,
anti find that they have got too far to tho east-. ward, and must follow the shore lino to East Bay Neck. Back through the scrub they drag their heavy feet. That night they eat the last crumb of the loaf. The third day at high noon?after sonic toilsome walking they reach a big hill, now called Collins' Mount, and see the upper link of tho! earring, tho isthmus of East Bay Neck,. at their feet. A few rocks are on their right hand, and, blue in the lovely distance lies hated Maria Islajid. " AVe must keep well to the eastward," says) Greenhill, "or we shall fall in with tho settlers and get taken." So, passing tho isthmus, they strike into tho bush along the shore, and tightening their belts over their gnawing bellies, caiip under some low-lying hills.
Tho fourth day is notable for the indisposition of Bodenham, who is a bad walker, and, falling behind, delays the party by frequent cooeys. Gabbett threatens him with a worse fate than sort feet if he lingers. Luckily thnt evening Greenhill espies a hut, but not trusting to the fricriiship of the occupant, they wait uutil he quits'it in tho morning, and then send Vetch to forage. A'etch, secretly congratulating himself on having by his counsel prevented violence, returns beneliug under half a bag of flour. "Yjm'd better carry the flour," says he to Galfbett, "and give mo the axe." Gabbett eyes him) for awhile, 113 if struck by his puny form, butlnnnlly gives the axe to his mate Sauders. Thal day they creep along cautiously between the tea and the hiUft. camping at a creek. Vetch, after much search, find8 a liaudful of berries, andladds them to tho main stock. Half of this handful is eaten at once, the other half reserved for I' to-morrow." The next day they como to an arm of the sea, and struggling northward, Malia Island disappears, aud with it all danger from telescopes. That evening they reach tile camping ground by twos and threes ; and each wonders?between tho paroxysms of hunger? if his lace is n-i haggard, nnd bis eyes as blood- shot, as those of his neighbor.
The seventh day, Bodenham says his feet aro so had he can't walk, and Greenhill, with a greedy look at tho berries, bids him stay bobine!. Being in a very weak condition, he takes his companion at his word, and drops off about noon the next day. Gabbett, discovering this defec- tion, however, goes back, uud in nn hour or so appears, driving the wretched creature beforo him -with blows, as a sheep is driven to tho shambles. Greenhill remonstrates at another mouth being thus forced upon the party, but the giant silences him with a hideous glance. Jemmy A'otch remembers that Greenhill accompanied Gabbett once before, and feels uncomfortable. Ho gives' hint of his suspicions to Sauders, but San- ders only laughs. It is horribly evident that there is an understanding among the three.
- The ninth sun of their freedom, rising upon sandy and barren hillocks', bristling thick with cruel scrub, sees the six famine-stricken wretches cursing' their God, nuel yet afraid to die. All around is tho fruitless, shadeless, shelterless bush. Above, the pitiless heaven. In tho distance, the remorseless sea. Something ter- rible 'must happen. That gray wilderness, arched by gray heaven stooping to gray sea, is a fitting keeper of hideous secrets. A'otch sug- gests, that Oyster Bay .cannot be far to the east ward-r-rthe line of ocean is deceitfully close?aud thougll such a proceeding will tako them out of their course, thoyrosolve to make for it. After hobbling five miles, they seem no nearer than before; and, nigh dead with fatigue and starva- tion, sink despairingly upon the ground. A'otch thinks'? Onbbett's eyes hare a wolfish glare in them,;and instinctively draws off from him. Says Greenhill, in the course of a dismal con- versation, "liam so weak that IJcould cat a piece of a man." '.
On tho. tenth day Bodenham refuses to stir, and tho other}) being scarce able to drag along their limbs, jsit on the ground about him. Greenhill, eyeing the prostrate man, says, slowly, " I have seen tho same before, boys, and it tasted like pork."
Vetch, hearing his savage comrade give utter- ance to a thought nil had secretly cherished, speaks oat, crying, " It would bo murder to do it, and then perhaps couldn't eat it."
" Oh," says Gabbett, with a'grin, " I'll war- rant you that, but you must all have a hand in
Gabbett, Sanders, nnd Gronhill then go aside, and presently Sanders coming to the Crow, says, " He consented to act as flogger. He deserves it." . .
"Sodid Oabbet, for that matter," shudders A'otch. f
"Ay, but Bodenhnm's feet nre sore," says Sanders, "aid 'tis a pity to leave him."
Having n> fire, they made a little break-wind ; and A'etch half dozing behind this nt about three in thi morning, hears some ono cry out " Christ!" Md awakes sweating ice.
No ono but Gabbett and Greenhill would eat that night. That savage pair, however, make a fire, fling ghastly fragments on tho embers, and eat the broil before it is right warm. In the morning the frightful carcase is divided.
That day'e mardi takes place in silence, and at the midday halt Cornelius volunteers to carry the billy, affecting great restoration from the food. A'otch gives it him, and in half an hour afterwards Cornelius is missing. Gabbett and Greenhill pursue him in vain, and return with curses. _ " He'll die Uko a dog," says Greenhill, "alone in tho bush." Jemmy A'otch, with his intellect acute as ever, thinks that Cornelius prefers such a death to the ono in store for him, but says nothing.
The twelfth morning dawns wet and misty, but Vetch, seeing the provisions running short, strives to bo cheerful, telling stories of men who have escaped greater peril. Vetch feels with dismay that ho is the weakest of the party, but has somo'sort of ludicro-horrible consolation in remembering that he is also the leanest. They come to a creek that afternoon, and look until nightfall, in vain, for a crossing-place. Tho next day Gabbett and Vetch swim across, and A'etch directs Gabbttt to cut a long sapling, which, being stretched across the water, is seized by
Greenlull aud tho Moocher, who are dragged
"AVhat would you do without me ?" says tho Crow, with a '--hostly grin.
They cannc- kindle a fire, for Greenhill, who carries tho tiller, hos allowed it to get wet. The giant swii g's his axe in savage anger at tho enforced cold, md A'etch takes an opportunity
to remark pri rattly to him, what a big man
On the fourteenth day they can scarcely crawl, and their lim! i pain them. Greenhill, who is the weakest, sc-» (hbbett aud the Moocher go aside to consist,' and crawling to the Crow, whimper : "Fe -;Ood's sake, Jemmy, don't let
'om murder mt I" i
" I can't help you," says Vetch, looking about in terror. " Think of poor Tom Bodenham."
" But he wa? no murderer. If they kill me,
I shall', go to ht-11 . with Tom's blood on my
He writhes on the ground in sickening terror, and Gabbett arri fug, bids'Vetch bring wood for the fire. Vetch, going, sees Greenhill clinging to wolfish Gab! tfs knees, and Sanders calls after him, "You \ iU hear it presently, Jem."
The nervous C;/tv puta his hands to his;ears, but is conscious, nevertheless, of a dull crash and p. groan. AVUn he comes back, Gabbett is putting on the dead man's shoes, which are better than his o^n. '¦ ¦ 1- -.;'¦¦
"We'll stop h -e a-dny or so and rest," says he, now we've ot provisions."
Two more da;,: piss, and the three, eyeing . each other subj k-iously, resume their march. The third day?the ? sixteenth of their awful journey?such im-tions of the carcase as they have with them , rove unfit to eat. They look into each othe; ; famine-sharpened faces, and
wonder " who c ct ?"
_ AVe must r/. die together," says Sanders quickly, " before .nything else must happen."
Vetch marks 1; a terror that lies concealed in the words, and vhen the dreaded giant is out of earshot, says, " For God's sake, let's go on alone, Alick. You see r.vhat sort of a cove that Gabbett is?he'd kill his father before he'd fast one day." j
They make foi the bush, when the giant turns and strides towaids them. Vetch skips nimbly on one side, but1 Gabbett strikes the Moocher on the forehead witt the axe. "Help I Jem, help!" cries the victim,; :Ut, but not fatally, and in the strength of his desperation tears the axe from the monster wini bears it, and fliugB it to A'etch. " Keep it, Jemmy," he cries, " let's have no more
murder done I" ;
They fare again through the horrible bush until nightfall, when A'etch, in a strange voice, calls the giant to hun.
" He must die." -.
? ." \.
" Either you or he," laughs Gabbett. Give
mo the axe." -
' " No, no," says the Crow, his thin malignant face distorted by.a horrible resolution. " I'll ki;ep the axe. Stand back ! You shall hold him, add I'll do the job."
Sanders, Boeing them approach, knows his end has come, and submits, crying, "Give me half an hour to pray for myself." Thoy consent, and tho bewildered wretch kneels down and folds hiB hands like aWiild. His big, stupid face works with emotion. His great cracked lipB move in desperate agony. He wags his heall from side to side, in pitiful confusion of his brntaliBed senses. " I can't think o' tho words, Jem !"
" Pah;," snarls tho cripple, swinging the axe, "wo can't starve here all night."
Four days have passed, and tho two Burvivors of this awful journey sit watching each other. The gaunt giant, his eyes gleaming with hate and hunger, sits sentinel over tho dwarf. Tho dwarf, chuckling to himself at his superior sagacity, clutches tho fatal axe. For two days they have not spoken to each other. For two ehiys each has promised himself that on the noxt his companion must sleep?and elie. Vetch comprehends tho devilish scheme of the monster who has entrapped five of his fellow-beings to aid him by their eleaths to his own safety, and holds aloof. Gabbett watches to snatch the weapon from his companion, anel mako tho odds even for once and for evor. In tho day-timo they travel on, seeking each a pretext to creep behind the other. lu tho night-time they feign Blumber, and each stealthily raising a head catches the wakeful glance of his companion. Vetch feols his strength desorting him, anel his brain over- powered by fatigue. Surely the giant, mutter- ing, gesticulating, and slavering at the mouth, must be on the road to madness. Will the monster find opportunity to rush at him, and, braving the blood-stained axe, kill him by main force ; or will he sleep, and be himself a victim ? Unhappy Vetch ! It is the terrible privilege of insanity to bo sleepless.
On tho fifth day, A'etch, oreoping behind » tree, take3 off his belt, and makes a noose. He will hang himself. He gets one end o£ the belt over u bough, and then his cowardice bids him pause. Gabbett approaches ; he tries to evade him, nnd steal away into tho bush. In vnin. Tho insatiable giant, ravenous with famine, and sustained by madness, is not to be shaken off. A'etch tries to run, but his legs beud under him. The axe that has tried to drink so much blood
feels heavy as lead. He will fling it away. No ?He dares not. Night falls again. He must rest, or go mad. His limbs aro powerless. His eyelids aro glueel together. Ho Bleeps as he stands. This horrible thing must be a dream. He is at Port Arthur, or will wake on his pallet in the penny loelging-house he slopt at when a boy. Is that tho deputy come to wake him to the torment of living ? It is not time ?surely not time yet. Ho sleeps?and the giant, grinning with ferocious joy, approaches on clumsy tiptoe and seizes tho coveteel axe.
On tho north-east coast of A'au Dieman's
Laiul is a place called St. Helen's Point, and a certain skipper, being in want of frosh wator, lauding thero with a boat's crew, finds on the banks of tho creek a gaunt and blood-stainod man, clad in tattered yellow, who carries on his hack an axe and a bundle. AVhen the sailors
como within sight of him he make3 signs to them to approach, and opening his bundle with much ceremony offers them soino of its contents. Filled with horror at what tho maniac displays, they seizo aud bind him. At Hobart Town he is recogniseel as tho only survivor of the niue desperadoes who had escaped from Colonel Arthur's " Natural Penitentiary,"
ESP Of HOOK THE T111HD.
Extracted from thc Diary of the Rev. James
Bathurst, February tho 11th, 1846.
In turning over the pages of my journal to noto tho good fortune that has just happened to me, I am Btruck by the utter desolation of my
fife for the lost seven years.
Can it be possible that I, James North, tho college hero, the poet, tho prizeman, the heaven knows what else, have been content to live on at this dreary spot?an animal, eating anil drinking, for to-morrow I elie ? Yet it has boen so. My world, that world of which I onco elreamt so
mnnb. l»n« hen"?ko? My fnuic?which w.ie
to rench tho oiuIb of the earth?-has penetrated to the neighboring stations. I am considereet a "good preacher" by my sheep-feeding friends.
It is kind of them.
Yet, when now on the eve of leaving it, this soli- tary lifo of mine has not been without its charms. I have had my books nnd my thoughts, though at times the latter were but grim com- panions. I have striven with my fnmiliar sin, and have not always been worsted. Melancholy reflection. "Not always!" "But yet" is a gaoler to bring forth some monstrous malefactor. I vowed, however, that I would not cheat myself in this diary of mine, and I will not. No evasions. No glossings over of my own sins. This journal is my confessor, anil I bare my
heart to it.
It is curiouB the pleasure I feel in Bet- ting down hero in black and white these agonies and secret cravings of which I dare not speak. It is for the same reason, I suppose, that murderers make confession to dogs and cats, that people with something "on their mind" are given to thinking aloud, that thc queen of Midas must needs whisper to tho sedges the secret of her husband's infirmity. Outwardly lam a man of God, piouB aud grave and softly spoken. In- wardly?what ? The mean, cowardly, weak sin- ner that this book knows me. . . . Imp! I coulel tear you in pieces ! , . . One of these days I will. In the meantime, I will keep you under lock and key, and you shall hug my secrets close. No, old friend, with whom I havo communed so long, forgive me, forgive me. You ore to me instead of wife or priest. I tell to your cold blue pages?how much was it I bought you for in Paramatta, rascal ??these stories, longings, remorses, which 1 would fain tell to human ear could I find a human being as discreet as thou. It has been said that a man dare not write all his thoughts and deeds ; the words would blister the paper. Yet your sheets are smooth enough, you fat rogue ! Our neighbors of Rome know human nature, A man must confess. Ono reads of wretches who have carried secrets in their bosoms for years, and blurted them forth at last. I, shut up here without companionship, without sympathy, without letters, cannot lock up my soul and feeel on my own thoughts. They will out, and so I whisper them to thee.
What art thou, thou tremendous power Who dost inhabit uh without our leave, And art, within ourselves, another self, A master self that loves to elomineer ?
AVhat ; Conscience ? That is a word to frighten children. The conscience of each man is of his own making. My friend the shark toothed cannibal whom Staples brought in his whaler to Sydney would have found his con- science reproach him sorely did ho refuse to par- take of the feasts made sacred by the customs of his ancestors. A spark of divinity 1 Tho divi- nity that, according to received doctrine, Bits apart, enthroned amid sweet music, and leaves poor humanity to earn its condemnation as it may ? I'll have none of that?though I preach it. One must soothe the vulgar senses of the people. Priesthood has its pious "frauds." The Master spoke in parables. AVit? The wit that sees how ill-balanced are our actions and our aspirations ? The devilish wit born of our own brain, that sneers at us for our own fail- ings ? Perhaps madness ? More likely, for there are few men who are not mad one hour of the waking twelve. K madness be the differing from the judgment of the majority of mankind in regard to familiar things, I suppose / ara mad?or too wise. The speculation draws to hair splitting. James North, recall your early recklessness, your ruin, and your redemption ; bring your mind back to earth. Circumstances have made you what you are, and wiU shape your destiny for you without your interference.
That's comfortably settled I
Now supposing?to take another canter on my night-mare?that man is the slave of cir- cumstance (a doctrine which I am not uninclined to believe, though unvrilling to confess), what circumstance can have brought about the sudden awakening of the powers that be to James North's fitness for duty ?
" Hobart Town, Jan. 12th.
" Dear North,?I have much pleasure in in- forming you that you can be appointed Protestant chaplain nt Norfolk Island, if you like. It seems that they did not get on weU with the last man, and when my advice was asked, I at once recommended you for the office. The pay
is small, but you have a house and so on. It is certainly better than Bathurst, and indeed is considered rather a prize in tho: clerical lottery.
"There "is to bc an investigi ition into affairs down there. Poor old Pratt?v 'ho went down, «b you know, at the earnest so licitation of tho Gov«rnmentr?seemB to havo become absurdly lenient with tho prisoners, and it is reported that the island is in a frightful state. Sir Eardley is looking out for sou'ic disciplinarian to take tho place in hand.
" In tho meantime tho chn] jlaiuoy was vacant, and I thought of you."
I must consielcr this seemil lg fortune further. February 19th.?I accept. There is work to be dono among those unhappy men that may bo my purgation. The author! ties shall hear me yet?though enquiry was sti.lled at Port Arthur. By the way, a Pharaoh ha s arisen who kuows not Joseph. It is evident that tho meddlesome parson who complaineel of men being flogged to eleath is forgotten. Like tho men are ! How mauy ghosts must haunt tho dismal loneliness of that prison shore ! Poor Burgess is gone tho way of all flesh. I wonder if his Bpirit revisits the scones of his violences ? I havo written "poor" Burgess. It is strango how we pity a man that hos gone out of this life. Ono's enmity is cxtinguisheel when ono can but remember injuries. If a man had injured mc, tho fact of his living at all would be sufficient '.rounds for mo to hate him,?if I had injured urn I should hate him still more. Is that tho mason I hate myself at times?my greatest enemy and one whom I have injured beyond forgiveness. There aro offences against ono's ow n nature that are not to be forgiven. Isn't it Tacitus who says "the hatred of thoBe most nea rly related iB most inveterate." But?I am tak ing flight again.
lAebruary 27th, 11.30 p.m. ? Nine Creeks Sta tion. I like to bo accurate in names, dates, &c. Accuracy iB a virtue. To exorcise, then. Sti ition ninety miles from Bathurst. I should saj/ about 4,000 head of cattle. Luxury without reiinemout. Plenty to cat, drink, amt, yea? rei id. Hostess' name?Carr. Sho is a well preserved creature, about thirty-four years of agi3 I should say, and is a clover woman?not in in a poetical Byronic sense, but in the widest wa.rldly acceptation of thc term, At the same time, I should bo sorry to bo her husband. AVamen have no business with a brain like hers? that- is, if they wish to bo women and not sexual monsters. Mrs. Carr is not a lady, though she might havo been one. I don't think sho is a good woman either. It is possible, indeed, that she has known the factory before now. Thcro is n mystery about her, for I was informed myself that she was a Mrs, Purfoy, tho willow of a. whaling captain, and had married one of her assigned servants, who had deserted her fivo years ago, so soon as ho obtained his freedom. A wc-rd or two at dinner set mo thinking. Sho had received some English papors, anil accounting for her pre-occupieel manner, grimly said, "I think I havo news of my husband." I should not like to bo in Carr's shoos if sho has nows of him ! I don't think sho would gutter indignity calmly. After all, what business is it of mine ? I was boguilod into taking more wino at dinner than I needed. Confessor!?clo you hear me ? But I will not allow myself to bo carried away. You grin, you fat familiar ! So may I, but I shall be eaten with romorso to-
March-. 3rd.?A place called Jcrrilang, whero I have n head and a heartache. " Ono that hath lot go himself from tho hold and stay of reason, and lies, open to tho mercy of all temptations."
March 20th.?Sydney. At Captain Front's.? Seventeen days sinco I have opened you, beloved and dotested companion of mino. I have more than half a mind to never open you again I To read you is to recall to myself all I would most will ingly forget; yot not to read you would be to forget all that which I shoulel for my sins
The last week has mado a new man of me. I am no longer morose, despairing, nnd bitter, but genial and on good terms with fortune. It is strange that a mero accident should have in- duced me to stay a week under tho same roof with that vision of brightness which has haunted mo so long, A meeting in tho street, nu intro- duction, nu invitation?tho thing is done.
These circumstances which form our fortunes
are certainly curious things. I hail thought never again to meet tho bright young face to which I felt so strange an attraction?and lo ! hore, it is smiling on mo daily. Captain Frero should bo a happy man. Yet there seems a skeleton in this houso also. That young wifo by nature so lovable and so mirthful, ought not to havo the sadness on her face that twice to-day has clouded it. He seems a passionate and boorish creature this wonderful convict discip plinarian. His convicts?poor devils?are doubt lees disciplined enough. Charming little Sylvia, with your quaint wit and weird beauty, ho is not good enough or you?aud yet it was a love
March 21st.?I have read family prayers every night since I havo been here?my black coat and white tie gave me'the natural pre-eminence in such matters?and I feel guilty every time I road. I wonder what tho little lady of tho devotional eyes would say if sho knew that I was a miserable hypocrite, preaching that which I did not practice, exhorting others to believe those marvels which my own heart laughs
to scorn ? 1 nm a coward not to throw oft' the
saintly mask and appear os a Freethinker. Yet, am I a coward 1 I urge upon myself that it is for the glory of God 1 holli my peace. Tho scandal of a priest turned infidel wonlil do moro harm than the reign of reason would elo good. Imagine thia trustful woman for instance?she would sutler anguish at the thoughts of such a siu, though another were the sinner. " If any ono offend one of these little ones it were bettor for him that a uiill-istone be hanged about his
neck ond that he bo cast into the sea." Yet
truth is truth, and should be spoken?should it not, malignant monitor, who remindest me how often I fail to speak it ? Surely among all his army of black-coats our worthy bishop must have some men like me, who cannot bring their reason to believe in things contrary to the experience of mankind and the laws of nature and physics,
March 22nd.?This unromantic Captain Frere has had some romantic incidents in his life, and he is fond of dilating upon them. It seems that in early life he expected to havo been left a large fortune by au uncle who had quarrelled with his heir. But tho uncle dies on the day fixed for the altering of tho willy the son dis- appears, aud is thought to bo drowned. The widow, however, steadfastly refuses to believe in any report of the young man's death, and having a life interest in the property, holds it against nil comers. My poor host in consequence comes out here on his pay, aud, three years ago, just as bo is hoping that the death of his aunt may give him opportunity to enforce a claim as next of kin to some portion of the property, the long lost son returns, is recognised by his mother and the trustees, and installed in due heirship ! The other romantic Btory is connected with his marriage. Ile told me after dinner to-night, how his wife had been wrecked when a child, and how ho had saved her life, and defended her from tho rude hands of an escaped convict?one of these monsters that our monstrous system breeds. "That was how we fell in love," Baid he, tossing off his wine complacently.
"An auspicious opportunity," said I. To which he nodded. He is not overburdened with brains, I fancy.
Let me Bee if I can set down some account of this lovely place and its people.
A long low white houBe, surrounded by a blooming garden. AVide windows opening on a lawn. The ever glorious, ever changing sea beneath. It is evening. I am talking with Mrs. Frere, of theories of social reform, of picture galleries, of sunsots, and new books. There comes a sound of wheels on the gravel. It iB the magistrate returned from his convict discipline. AA'e hear him como briskly up the steps, but we go on talking. (I fancy there was a time when the lady would have run to meet him.) He eaters, coldly kisses his wife, and disturbs at once the current of our thoughts. " It has been hot to-day. AVhat, still no letter from Head-quarters, Air. North! I Baw Mrs. Golightly in town, Sylvia, and she asked for you. There is to be a ball at Government House. AVe must go." Then he departs, and is heard in the distance indistinctly curring because the water is not hot enough, or because Dawkins, his convict servant, has not brushed his trousers sufficiently. AVe resume our chat, but he returns all hungry, nnd bluff, and whisker brushed. "Dinner! Ha-ha! I'm ready for it. North, take Mrs. Frere." By-and-by it is, " North, some sherry ? Sylvia, the soup is ruined again. Did you go out to-day ? No ?" His eyebrows contract here, and I know he says
inwardly, "Reading some trashy novel, I suppose." However, he grins, nnd obligingly relates how tho police have captured Cockatoo Bill, the noted bushranger.
After elinner tho disciplinarian and I converse ?of dogs anel horses, gamecocks, convicts, and moving accidents by flooel nnd Bold. 1 remember old college feat*, and strive to keep paco with him in the relation of athlotics. AVhnt hypocrites we are !?for all tho time I am longing to get to tho drawing-room, and finish my criticism of tho new poet, Mr. Tennyson, to Mrs. Frero. Frero does not read Tennyson?nor anybody oise. Adjourned to the drawing-room, we chat? Mrs. Frere and I?until supper. (Ho eats supper.) She is a channing companion, mid when I talk my best?I can talk, you must admit, O Familiar?her faco lightens up with an interest I rarely seo upon it at other times. I feel cooled and soothed by this companionship. Tlie quiet refinement of this; house, after bullocks and Bathurst, is Uko the shadow of a great rock in a weary hind.
Mrs. Frere scorns about five-and-twenty. Sho is rather beneath the middlo height, with a slight, girlish figure. This girlish appearance is enhanced by the fact that sho has bright fair hair and blue eyes. Upon conversation with her, however, one sees that her face has lost much of that delicate plumpness which it probably owned in youth. Sho has had ono child, born only to elie. Her cheeks aro thin, and lier eyes have n tinge of sadness, which Hpeak of Bomo physical or mental grief. This thinness of faco makes the eyes appear larger aud tho brow broader than they really aro. Her hands are white aud painfully thin. They must havo been plump and pretty once. Her lips aro red with perpetual fever.
Captain Frero seems to have absorbed all liiB wife's vitality. (Who is it quotes the story of Lucius Claudius Hermippus, who lived to a great ago by being constantly breathed on by young girls ? I suppose Burton, who quotes every- thing.) In proportion os bIio has lost her vigor and youth, ho has gained atruugth and hearti- ness. Though ho is at least forty years of ago, he does not look more than thirty. His fncu is ruddy, his eyes bright, his voico firm and ringing. He must be a man of considerable strength and?I should Bay?of more than ordi- nary animal courage aud animal appetite. There is not a nervo in his boely which elocs not twang like a piano wiro. In appearance, ho is tall, broad, and bluff, with red whiskers and reddish hair, slightly touched with gray. His manner is loud, conrso, and imperious; his talk of dogs, cocks, aud convicts. What a strangely-mated pair!
March 30th.?A letter from Van Diomon's Land. " There is a row in tho pantry," says do la Vero, with his accustomed slang. It seems that thc Comptroller-General of Convicts has appointed a Mr. Pounce to go down nnd mako a report on tho state of Norfolk Island. I nm to go down with him, and shall receive instructions to that effect from tho Comptroller-General. I have informed Frere of this, aud ho has written to Pounce to come and stay on his way down. There has been notliing but convict discipline talked of since. Frere is great upon this point, and wearies me with his explanations of convict tricks and wickedness. Ho is celebrated for his knowledge of snell matters. Detestable wisdom! His servants hate him, and yet they oboy him without a, murmur. I havo observed that habitual criminals?like nil savage beasts?cower before tho man who has once mastered thora. I should not bo surprised if tho A'nu Dieinon's Land Government selected Frero ns their " dis- ciplinarian." I hope they wont, aud yet I hopo
April 1th.?Nothing worth recording until to- day. Eating, drinking, and sleeping. Despite my forty-seven years, I begin to feel almost like the Janies North who fought tho bargee and took the gold medal. AATiat a drink wator is I Tho fons Bamlusiw splendider vilrco was bettor than all tho Mossie, Master Horace I I doubt if your celebrated liquor bottled when Manbus was consul could compare with it.
But to my notable facts. I havo found out to-night two things which surprise me. One is that the convict who attempted tho life of Mrs. Frere is none other thau tho unhappy man whom my fatal weakness caused to bo Hogged at Port Arthur, and whoso faco comes before mo to reproach mo oven now. Tho other that Mrs. Carr is au old acquaintance of Frore's. Tho latter piece of information I obtained in a curious way. Sitting after Mrs. Frero had retired, we wero talking of clever women. I broached my theory, that strong intellect in women wont far to destroy their womanly nature
" Dcsiro in niau," said I, "should bo A'olition in woman ; Reason, Intuition; Reverence, Devotion ; Passion, Love. Tho woman should strike a lower key-note, but a Bhurpcr sound. Man has vigor of reason, woman quick- ness of feeling. The woman who possesses masculine force of intellect is abnormal." Ho did but half comprehend ino, I could soe, but ho agreed with tho broad view of tho caso. "I only knew ono woman who was really ' strong minded,' as they call it," ho said, " nnd sho was a regular bad ono."
" It does not follow that she shoulel bo bad,"
"This ono was, though?stock, lock, and barrel. But as sharp ns a needle, sir, and as immovable ns a rock. A lino woman, too."
I saw by the expression of tho man's faco that he owned ugly memories, and pressed him further. "She's up country somewhere," ho said. "Married hor assigned servant, I was told, a fellow named Carr. I havon't seen her for years, mid don't know what sho may bo like now, bul in the days when I knew her she was just what you describe." (Let it bo noted that I had described nothing.) " She carno out in the ship with mo as maid to my wifo's
It was on tho tip of my tongi!o to say that I had met her, but I don't know what inducod me to bo silent. There are passages in the lives of most men of Captain Frere's complexion which don't boar descanting on. I expect there has been in this case, for ho changed the subject very abruptly as his wifo came in. Is it possible that these two creatures?the notablo disci- plinarian and tho wife of the assigned servant? could have been moro thnn frienels in youth ? Quito possible. He is the sort of man for gross amors. (A pretty way I am abusing my host!) And tho full-bosorned supple woman with the dark eyes would hnve been just the creature to enthral him. Perhaps some such story as this may account in part for Mrs. Frere's sad looks. AATiy do I speculate on such things 1 I seem to do violence to myself aud to insult her by writing Buch suspicions. If I was a Flagellant now, 1 would don hair-shirt and up flail. " For this sort cometh not out but by prayer and fasting."
April 7th.?Mrs. Pounce has nrriveel?full r.f the importance of his mission. He seems to walk with the air of a minister of State on tho eve of a vacant garter, hoping, wondering, fearing, and dignified even in his dubitnncy. I am as flippant as a school-girl concerning this fatuous official, and yet?Heaven knows?I feel deeply enough the importance of the task he hos beforo him. One relieves one's brain by theso whirlings of ono's mental limbs. I remember that a prisoner at Hobart Town, twico con- demned and twice reprieved, jumped and shouted with frenzied vchemenco when he heard his sentence of death finally pronounced. He told me if he lind not so shouted, ho believed he would have gone mad.
April 10th.?AVe had a state dinner last night. The conversation was about nothing in the world but convicts. I never saw Mrs. Frere to less advantage. Silent, distraite, and sad. She told me after dinner that she disliked the very name of " convict" from early associations. " I havo lived among them all my life," she said, " but that does not mako it the bettor for me. I have terrible fancies at times, Mr. North, that seem half-memories. I dread to be brought in contact with prisoners again. I am sure that Borne evil
awaits me at their hands."
I laughed, of course, but it would not do. She holds to her own opinion, and looks at me with eye3 that seem to have a rising horror in them. - This unborn terror in her face is per- plexing.
" You are nervous," I said. " You want rest." " I am nervous," she replied, with that candor of voice and manner I have before remarked in her, " and I have presentiments of evil."
AVe sat Bilent for awhile, and then she Buddenly turned her large eyes on me, and said calmly, "Mr. North, what death shall I die?" The question was an echo of my own thoughts? I have some foolish (?) fancies as to physiognomy ?and made me start. AA'hat death, indeed? What sort of death would one meet with widely opened eyes, parted lips, and brows bent as
though to rally fast-flying courage ? ' Not a peaceful death surely. I brought my black coat to my aid. " My dear lady, you must not think of such things. Death is but a sleep, you know. AVhy anticipate a nightmare ?"
She sighed, slowly awaking ns though from some momentary trance. Seeming to check herself at tho"verge of tears, sho rallied, turned the conversation, and fineling an excuse for going to tho piano, dashed into a waltz. This un- natural gaiety ended, I fancy, in an hysterical fit. I bearii her husband afterwards recom- mending sal volatile.: He is the sort of mau who
would recommend sal volatilo to $he Pythoness
if sho consulted him.
April 20th.?All hos been arranged, and we start to-morrow. Mr. Pounce is in a conelition of painful dignity. He seoms afraid to move lest motion should thaw his official ice. Having found out that I am tho " chaplain," he has re- frained from familiarity. My self-lore is wounded, but my patience relioved. Query: AVoulel not tho majority of mankind rather be bored by people in authority than not noticed by them ? James North eloclines to nnswer for his part.
I have made my farewells to my friends, and on looking back on the pleasant hours I have spent, felt saddened. It is not likely that I shall have many such pleasant hours. I feol Uko a vagabond who, having been allowed to sit by a cheerful firesielo for awhile, is turned out into the wet and windy streets, nnd finds them colder than ovor. AVhat wero tho lines I wrote in her nlbum ?
Aa Botno poor tavom-hnmiter elronchotl in wine,
With Htnggorlng footatoiw through tito atreots returning, ?Seeing through blinding min a helicon sliino
From household lamp in happy window burning,? Pauses an instant at the reddened jwiiio
To gazo on that sweat ucoiio of love mid duty, Then turns into tho wild wot night niblin.
Lost his sad presence mar its homely beaut j.
Um! Yes, thoso wore tho hues, AA'ith moro of truth in them than sho expected-; anel yet what business havo I sentimentalising ? My socius thinks "what n puling fool this North isl"
So that's over! Now for Norfolk Island and my purgation.
[TO UU CONTINUED.]