Chapter 174510289

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Chapter NumberXXIV
Chapter Title
Chapter Url
Full Date1892-03-19
Page Number1
Word Count1167
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Bendigo Independent (Vic. : 1891 - 1918)
Trove TitleThe Devil's Own. An Australian Story
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CHAPTER XXIV (Continued.)


The panic continues—prayers inter mixed with cries of despair, weeping hand in hand with voices of bounce and braggadocia

“A thousand pounds, captain, for a Boat—a boat for three only, mind. I ?am not going to kingdom come with a wholesale cargo of canaille. No, no, but a boat I must have,” says the baronet, 'dicfotorially, in an angry excited tone. Tho captain, poor man, looks more Bkc some wreck of humanity with his care worn face as he shouts orders, and is in a dozen places at once, trying to arrange for the best, pacify the passen gers, and save his ship and his character; but amidst all his anxiety ho manages to say in a tone half cynical,half-disgusted, M My good sir, I wish I was rich enough to be even half-owner of a boat. No, no, the ladies first, gentlemen after, I used to betrfhght asa youngster—l haven't for gotten it. The boats are being lowered, J sir. j> Fortunately it is a calm night, though black darkness shuts out the whole scone beyond tho ship’s lights. A dash of lightning and a distantgrowlof thunder— remains of the lat-i warringof theolements on one had noticed during the revels—is the only trifle to dismay the passengers, who are all on ma?se watching the boatj being lowered. “ The ship wid break up before morn ing, so sayo qiu peut,” says a facetious 1 Christy minstrel, with dangling coat tails and tho remains of a pasteboard shirt collar. “ Whose for the first boat; don’t all speak at once, or there’ll bo a pretty bow do—don’t. Stalls, 10s; dress ciicl-, ss; pit, that’s the-bottom of the boat, 2s; walk in ladies and gentlemen, lots of room in tho boat, if tho bottom don’t come out, or tho whole precious arrange ment with its select individual?, turns over. “ Is that a shark I boo before me 1 ” There is no doubt if the world came to an end suddenly there would bo some one to coach a joke or treat lightly the solemn event. Its a way they have got, these cynical believers in life and nothing else. However, in this case the world did not come to an end, nor did the boats come to grief, nor did the Banga lore break up before morning. It was much ado about nothing as to the panic, but only to be quieted by landing the affrighted travellers on terra firmo, not far off, as soon as was possible. “ I wish them joy of old Pvrim and its defences,” said one of tho steward*, as tho last boat but one put off laden to tho water with passengers. “That there barreynite was in a funk, and what for I wonder. Such as be is has no business with a conscience. Its only wo poor devils that are supposed to be blessed with the objectionable article. What? you there, or is it your ghost Monsieur Gustave 1 Your gentleman was shouting and tearing about after you like a caged lion. Won’t you catch it, my friend.” “ Let monsieur shout if it is a pleasure to. It can do mo no harm,” said Gus tave, as ho watched tho boats out of sight and lighted a largo cigar. u Phew,” said tho steward. “la that tho way of the wind. Well, now, the coast is clear, suppose we adjourn to tho supper room, there’s no end of good things there going to waste—chicken pies and ’all the rest of it, with pounded glass by Way of a digester, like the ostriches. Oorac on ; I don’t suppose I shall have much rest to-night, and tho boats will bo back soon. Oh, ns to tho ship, she’s all right; can’t run away anyhow, and the captain will lighten her ond get her off. It may take a day" or two, and likely cost a good penny, but lord, mistakes will happen in the best regulated fami lies and tho best regulated vessels. It j was tho lightning to-night, I heard j old Professor Gumsquirk, or some such name, one day lecturing on tho effect of electricity on tho compasses., Th-re’ll be tho insurance companies to answer, shoals of them—come on ? ” said the steward, leading tho way cheerfully. “ I don’t mind helping you my friend, if I can help you at all,” said Gustave pleasantly. “You see, I’ve travelled a good deal, and do not soo tho good of being transported innocently to Perim if the Bangalore can bold me high and dry. Meanwhile, when the boats return, keep it dark about my existence, do you under stand. I am supposed to have disap peared when the boats wore lowered, I’ll make it worth your while, for be tween you and I, I cannot stand that man Sir Hubert—his tantrums ond his fads. I’d rother lose my quarter’s pay or hond it over to you, do you hear? no harm done. I’ll give him the slip if I can manage it.” “I suppose I am safo-in giving you a lift, Monsieur Gustave,” says tho steward questionably. “ Certainly ; I am well known by tho highest families,” soid monsieur. “Well, Tim and I have e, bit of a cabin to ourselves, you collect your traps and go in there and go off fast to sloop. I’ll call you when wanted; come and have some champagne first. My stars, what a work we shall have clearing up,” said the steward to a brother steward, as they looked in blank dismay at the supper table. Later on tho boats returned and were filled ogain with passenger’s luggage, if not passengers, tut no Monsieur Gustave answered to his master’s call at Perim when tho baronet, after standing hours, shivering with cold, watched with anxiety for bis courier, and more particularly his jewel case, left in Gustrvo’s charge when they parted company as tho first boat left tho stranded ship. j “ Depend upon it your man came with the first batch, Sir Hubert, and is wait ing with your traps in some comfortable quarters at Perim,” said a passenger. “Pll make it hot for him if he ion t,” said S:r Hubert, walking away, cold and angrily dispored. But to add to the sensational budget that night, up to a very late hour in di cd, when rosy st oaks of sunrise ap peared, there was no appearance of Sir Hubert Armytagc’s courier, Gustavo La grange, ashore, nor was there any ap pearance of Mr. Stanton, who was hist seen in a state of frantic despair as tho first boats put offwilh his wife and his chcr ami, Sir Hubert Army to go. “ Poor old Stanton, T am sorry for biro,” suid his meq friends. " Poor rilly fool to believe in such a Woman —servo him right,” said his Women friends.