|Newspaper Title||The Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 - 1939)|
|Trove Title||Adam and Eve|
Adam and Eve.
BY MRS. PARR, Authoress of "Dorothy Fox," "The Gosau Smithy," &c., &c.
SINCE the night on which Jonathan's arrival had plunged the party assembled at Zebedee Pascal's into such dismay, a week had passed by —seven days and nights of terror and confusion.
The determined manner in which the Govern ment authorities traced out each clue and tracked every scent struck terror into the stoutest heart*, and men who had never before shrank from danger in any open form now feared to show their faoea, dared not aleep in their own houses, nor, ezoept by stealth, visit their own families. At dead of night, as well as in the blase of day, stealthy descents would be made upon the place —the houses surrounded, and strict search made. One hour the streets would be deserted, the next every oorner bristled with rude soldiery, flinging insults and imprecations on the feeble old men and defenceless women whoj panic-stricken, stood about vainly endeavoring to seem at their ease, and keep np a show of indifference. One of the first acts had been to seise the Lottery, and orders had been issued to arrest all or any of her crew, wherever they might be found; but as yet no trace of them had been discovered; Jerrem and Uncle Zebedee still lay ooncealed within the house, and Adam at the mill, crouched beneath oorn-bins, lay oovered by sacks and grain, while the tramp' of the soldiers sounded in his ears, or the ring of their voices set his stout heart quaking with fear of disoovery. To men whose fives had been spent out of doors, with the free air of heaven and the fresh salt breeze of the sea oonstantly sweeping over them, toil and hardship were pas times, compared to this inactivity, and it was little to be wondered at that for one and all the single solace left seemed drink—drink deadened their restlessness, benumbed their energies, made them forget their dangers, sleep through their duranoe. So that even Adam oould not always hold out against a solace which helped to shorten the frightful monotony of those weary days, dragged out for the most time in solitude and darkness. With no occupation, no resources, no companion, ever dwelling on self and viewing each action, past and present, by the light of an exaggerated (often a distorted) vision, Adam grew irritable, morose, suspicious. Why hadn't Joan oome? Surely there oouldn't be anything to keep Eve away T And if so, might they not send a letter, or message, or some token to show him that he was stul in their thoughts? In vain did Mrs. Tucker urge the necessity of a caution hitherto unknown; In vain did she repeat the stories brought of footsteps dogged, and houses watched, so that their in mates dare not run the smallest risk, for fear of its leading to detection. Adam turned a deaf ear to all she said, sinking at last down to the conclusion that he could endure such suspense no longer, and, come what might, mast the next day steal back home, and satisfy himself how thugs were going on. The only oonoession to her better judgment which Mrs. Tucker oould gain was his promise to wait until she had been in to Polperro to reconnoitre; for though, from having seen a party of soldiers pass that morning, they knew some of the troops had left, it was impussible to say how many remained behind or whether they had received fresh strength from the opposite direction. 11 shan't give no more o' they than I sees the wisdom of,' reflected Mrs. Tucker, as primed with questions to ask Joan, and messages to give to Eve, she securely fastened the doors prepara tory to her departure, 'If I was to tell up such talk to Eve, herd be piping off here next mionit, or else sendin' back a pock o' silly speeches that 'ud make Adam mazed to go to she. 'TIS wonder ful how took up he Is with a maid he knows so little of. But, there, 'tis the same with all the men, I b'Ueve—tickle their eye, and good-bye to their judgment' And, giving the outer gate a shake to assure herself that it oould not be opened without a preparatory warning to those within, Mrs. Tucker turned away and out into the road. A natural tendency to be engrossed by personal interests, together with a life of narrowed circum stances, had somewhat blunted the acuteness of Mrs. Tucker's impressionable sensibilities; yet she oould not but be struck at the change these last two weeks had wrought in the aspect of the place. The houses, wont to stand open so that friendly greetings might be exchanged, were now closed and shut; the blinds of most of the 'windows were drawn down ; the streets, usually thronged with idlers, were all but deserted ; the few shops empty of wares and of customers. Calling to her recollection the frequent prophetic warnings she had indulged in about these evil days to come, Mrs. Tucker's heart smote her. 'Surely Providence had never taken her at her word, and really brought a judgment on the place f If so, seeing her own kith and kin would be among the most to suffer, it bad read a very wrong meaning in her words; for It stood to reason, when folks talked serious-like, they didn't always stop to measure what they said, and, if a text or two o' Scripture sounded seemly, 'twas fitted in to help their speech out with, not to be pulled abroad to seek the down-right meanin' o' each word.' Subdued and oppressed by these and like re flections, Mrs. Tucker reached Uncle Zebedee's house, inside which the change wrought was in keeping with the external sadness. Both girls looked hirassed and careworn: Joan, now that there was no further occasion for that display of spirit and bravado which before the soldiers she had successfully contrived to maintain, utterly broken down and apathetically dejected ; Eve, unable to enter into all the difficulties, or sym pathise in the universal danger, ill at ease with herself, and irritable with all around her. la her anxiety to hear about Adam—what message he
had Bent, and whether ahe could not go to see him—she had barely patience to listen to Mrs. Tucker's roundabout details and lugubrious lamentations, and choosing a very inopportune moment, she broke out with:— ' What message has Adam sent, Mrs. Tucker ? He's Bent a message to me, I'm sure. I know he must have!' ' Awh, well, if you knaws, you don't want to be told, then,' snorted Mrs. Tucker, ill pleased at having her demands upon sympathy put to such sudden flight. ' Though don't you think, Eve, that Adam has somethin' else to think of than sendin* love-messages and nonsense o' that sort? He's a good deal too much took up 'bout the trouble we'm all in for that He hoped you was all well, and keepin' yer spirits up, Joan/ 'Poor sawl!' sighed Joan ;'I 'apects he finds that's more than he can do.' •Ah, you may well say that,' replied Mrs. Tucker, casting a troubled look towards her daughter's altered face. 'Adam's doin'purty much the same as you be, Joan—frettin' his insides out' ' He's fretting, then V gasped Eve, managing to get the words past the great lump whioh seemed to choke her further utterance. 'Frettin' V repeated Mrs. Tucker, with severity; ' but there, why should I f she added, as if Warn ing her sense of iniury; ' I keeps forgettin' that, compared with Joan, Eve, you'm nothin' but a stranger, as you may say ; and, though I dare say I shan't get your thanks for saying it, still Adam could tell *cc so well as me that fresh faces is all very well in fair weather, but in times of trouble they counts for very little aside o' they who's bin brought up from the same cradle, you may say.' Eve's swelling heart could bear no more. This sense of being set aside, and looked on as a stranger, was a gall which of late she had been frequently called upon to endure; but to have it hinted at that Adam could share in this feeling towards her—oh, it was too much ; and, rising hastily, she turned to run upßtairs. 'Now there's no call to fly off in no tantrums, Eve,' said Mrs. Tucker; 'so just sit down now and listen to what else I've got to say.' But Eve's outraged love could hide itself no longer ; to answer Joan's mother with anything like temper was impossible, and, knowing this, her only refuge was in flight. ' I don't want to hear any more you may have to say, Mrs, Tucker ;' and though Eve managed to keep under the sharpness of her voioe she could not control the indignant expression of her face, which Mrs. Tucker fully appreciating, she speeded her departure by the inspiriting predic ttoo that, if Eva didn't sup sorrow by the spoon ful before her hair was gray, her name wasn't Ann Tucker. ' Awh, don't 'm say that,' said Joan. * You'm over-erabbit with her, mother; and her only wantin' to hear some word that Adam had sent to her own self.' * But, mercy 'pon us, her must give me time to fetch my breath!' exclaimed Mrs. Tucker, in* digtttatly; 'and I fo'oed to fly off as I did, for fear that Adam should forestall me, and go doin somethin' foolish!' 4He ain't wantin' to come home V said Joan, hurriedly. 'Iss, but he is though. And when as see they sodfers go past I thought no other than he'd a set off then and there. As I said to ud, '"Tls true you knows o' they that's gone, but how can 'cc tell how many's left behind V' Joan shook her head. •They'm all off/ she said; 'every man of 'em's gone: but for all that, Adam mustn't come anighst us, or show his face in the place. 'Tis held everywheres that this move is nothin' but a decoy to get the men out o' hidin*; and, that done, back they'll all come and drop down on 'em,' •Well, then, Pd best go back to wanstt' cried Mrs. Tucker, starting up,' and try to put a stop to Us ©»min\ too' whether he'U pay an* heed to what I say is more than I'll answer for/ 'Tell un,' said Joan, 'that for all our sakes he mustn't come ; and say that I've had word that Jonathan's lurkin* nigh about here some place, so I reckon there's somethin' up, and what it is h« shall know so soon as I can send word to un ; say that ought to tell un 'tisn't safe to stir, 'ens he knows that Jonathan would sooner have gone to he than to either wan here.' 1 Well, Til tell on all you tolls me to,' said Mrs. Tucker, with a somewhat hopeless expres sion. ' but yon knaw what Adam is, Joan, when he fixes his mind on anythin'; and I've had the works o' the warld to keep un from oomin' already—he takes such fancies about 'cc all as yon never did. I declare, if I didn't knaw that pVaps he's a had more liquor than he's used to take o' times, I should ha' fancied un light headed-tike.' 'And so he'll be if you gives much sperrit to un, mother,' said Joan, anxiously ; ' 'tis sure to stir his temper up. But, there,' she added despondingly, 'what can anybody do? 'tis all they ha'got to fly to. There's Jerrem at it fro' mornin' to night; and as for uncle, dear saul, he's as happy as a clam at high watter.' 'las; I reckon,' said Mr. Tucker, 'it don't never matter much what goes wrong, so long as uncle gets his fill of drink I've said scores o' times ancle's joy 'ad never ran dry so long as liquor lasted.' 'Ah, well!' said Joan, 'I don't knaw what us should ha' done if tbere'd ha' bin no drink to give 'em; they'd ha' bin more than Eve and me could manage, I can tell 'cc. Nobody but our own selves, mother, will ever knaw what us two maidens have had to go through.' ' You've often had my thoughts with 'cc, Joan.' said Mrs. Tucker, her eyes dimmed by a rush of motherly sympathy for all the girls must have suffered ; ' and yon can tell Eve (for she'll take it better from you than from me) that Adam's allays a-thinkin' of her, and begged and prayed that she wudn't forget un.' INo fear o' that,' said Joan, anxious that her mother should depart; 'and mind now you say, no matter what time 'tis, directly I's seen Jona than and knaws 'tis safe for we, somebody shall bring un word to come back, for Eve and me's longin' to have a sight of un.' Charged with these messages Mrs. Tucker hastened back to the mill, where all had gone well since her departure, and where she found Adam more tractable and reasonable than she had had reason to anticipate. He listened to all Joan's messages, agreed with her suspicions, and
seemed contented to abide by her decision. The plain unvarnished statement which Mrs. Tucker gave of the misery and gloom spread over the place affected him visibly, and her account of tte two girlß, and the alteration she had seen in them, did not tend to dispel his emotion. 'As for Joan,' she Baid, letting a tear escape and trickle down her cheek,' 'tis heart-breakin' to look at her. Her's terrible wrapped up in you, Adam, is Joan ; more than, as her mother, I cares for her to awn to, Beein' how you'm aituated with Eve.' ' Oh, Eve never mode no difference 'twixt us two,' Baid Adam. Then, after a pause, he asked, ' Didn't Eve give you no word to give to me V ' Well, no,' aaid Mrs. Tucker ; then, with the determination to deal fairly, she added quickly ' but her was full o* questions about 'cc, and that 'fore I'd time to draw breath inside the place.' Adam was silent, and Mrs. Tucker, considering the necessity for further explanation removed by the compromise Bhe bad made, continued, ' You see, what with Jerrem and uncle, and the drink that goes on, they two poor maidens is kept pretty much on the go ; and Evo, never bein' used to no such ways, seems terrible harried by it aIT * 1 Harried I' repeated Adam, with ill-Buppressed bitterness, 'and well she may be ; still I should ha' thought she might have managed to send, if 'twas no more than a word back to me.'
Chaftib XXXI. Under the plea that, notwithstanding the lateness of the hour, Jonathan might still possibly put in an appearance, Adam lingered in hia aunt's cheerful-looking kitchen until after tho clock had struck 11; then he very reluctantly got up, and, bidding Mrs. Tucker and Sammy good-night, betook himself to the mill-house, in which, with regard to his greater Bafety, a bed had been made up for him. Adam felt that, court it as he might, sleep was very far from his eyes, and that, compared to his own society, and the torment of thought which harassed and racked him each time he found himself alone, even Sammy Tucker's company was a boon to be grateful for. There were times, during these hours of dreary lone* tineas, when Adam's whole natnre seemed Bub merged by the billows of love; cruel waves, whioh would toss him hither and thither, making sport of his hapless condition, to strand him at length on the quickßands of fear, where a thousand terrible alarum would seise him, and ell him with dread as to how these disasters might end. What would become of him ? How would it fare with Eve and himself ? Where could they go f What could they do ? Questions ever swallowed up by the constantly recurring alMm nortant bewilderment as to what could possibly have brought about this dire disaster. On this night Adam's thoughts were more than usually engrossed by Eve ; her form seemed con* stantly before him, distracting him with images as tempting and unsatisfying as is the desert spring, with which desire mocks the thirst of the fainting traveller: at length that relaxation of strength, whioh in sterner natures takes the place of tears, subdued Adam, a softened feeling crept over him, and shifting his position, so that he might rest his arms against the cornbin near, a deep-drawn sigh escaped him. 'Hist!' Adam started at the sound, and, with* oat moving, turned his head and looked rapidly about him. Nothing was to be seen ; with the exception of the small radius round the lantern, all was darkness and gloom. 'Hist!' was repeated, and this time there was no more doubt but that the sound came from someone close by. A clammy sweat stood on Adam's forehead, his tongue felt dry, and so powerless that it needed an effort to foroe it to move. ' Who's there V he laid. . ' Tis me—Jonathan.' Adam caught up the lantern, and, taming it in the direction whence the voice came, found to his relief that the rays fell upon Jonathan's face. ' Odds rot it, lad 1* he exclaimed, ' but you're give me a turn. How the deuce did you get here, and why didn't ye come inside to the house over there!' 4 I've a bin scrooged down 'tween these 'ere sacks for ever so long,' said Jonathan, trying to stretch out his cramped limbs; ' I reckon I've had a bit o' a nap too, for the time ha'n't a took long in goin', and when I fust come 'twaant altogether dart' "Tis close on the stroke o' twelve now,' said Adam. 'But come, what news, eh! Have ye got hold o' anything yet ? Are they devils off for good f Is that what you've come to tell me V ' Iss ; they's off this time, I fancy,' said Jona than; 'but 'twaant that broffed me, though I should ha' corned to tell 'cc o' that too.' 'No I what is it then V demanded Adam im* patiently, turning the light so that he could get a better command of Jonathan's face. ' 'Twas 'cos o* this,' said Jonathan, his voice dropping to a whisper, so that, though the words were trembling on his lips, his agitation and ex* citement almost prevented their utterance ; 'I've found it out—all of it—who blowed the gaff'pon us.' Adam started forward; his face all but touched Jonathan's, and an expression of terrible eager ness came into his eyes. "Twas she!' hissed Jonathan. 'She—her from London—Eve I' but before the name was well uttered. Adam had thrown himself upon him and was grasping at his throat as if to throttle him; while a volley of imprecations poured from his mouth, denouncing the base lie which Jonathan had dared to utter. A moment more and, this fit of impotent rage over, he flung him violently off and stood for a moment trying to bring back his senses ; but the succession of circumstances had been too much for him—his head swam round, his knees shook under him. and he had to grasp hold of a beam near to steady himself. 'What for do 'cc sarve me like that thenf muttered Jonathan. 'I ain't a-tellin' 'cc no more than I've a-heerd and what's the truth. Her name's all over the place,' he went on, for getful of the recent outburst, and warming with his narration. ' Her's a reglar bad wan—tier's a-carr'ed ou with a sodger chap so well as with JerreiQ—her'a a ' 'By the living Lord, if you speak another word ril be your death !' exclaimed Adau« ' Wa-al, and so yon may,' exclaimed Jonathan
* Tb« right of npabUifainf "Adam sad Mn" in QaaaMlaad has ban punkaaad by Urn propriaton at Urn
doggedly, 'if m be you'll lave me bide 'til I*se Beed the end o' she. Why, what do'ee mane then ?' ha cried, a sudden suspicion throwing a light on Adam's storm of indignation. 'Her baia't nawthin' to you, her's Jerrem'» maid—her hain't your maid ? Why,' he added, finding that Adam didn't Bpeak, ' 'twas through the letter I carr'ed front he that herd got it to blab about; I wishes my hand had been struck off*—and he dashed it violently against the wooden bin— ' afore I'd touched his letter or his money.' 'What letter! 1 gasped Adam. * Wa-all I knawa you said £ warn't to take "neither wan ; but Jerrem he coaxes and per* Buades, and says you ain't to knaw nawtW about it, and 'taint nawthin in it, only 'oos he'd got • letter fra' she to Guernsey, and this was t' answer; and then I knawed, 'cos I seed em', that they was sweetheartin' and that, and ' 'Did you give her that letter?' said Adam, and the sound of his voioe was so strange that Jonathan Bhrank back and cowered close to the wall. 'Isa, I did,' he faltered ; * leastwise I gived an to Joan, but t'other wan had the radin* in it.' There was a pause, during which Adam stood stunned, feeling that everything was crumbling and giving way beneath him, that he had no longer anything to live for, anything to hope, anything to fear. As, one after another, each former bare suggestion of artifice now passed be fore him clothed in the raiment of certain deceit, be made a desperate clutch at the most improb able, in the wild hope that one falsehood at least might afford him some ray of light, however feeble, to dispel the horrors of the terrible dark ness. ' Aud after she'd got the letter,' he said, 'what —What about the rest ?' * Why 'twas this way,' cried Jonathan, his eyss rekindling in his eagerness to tell the story, * somebody dropped a bit of paper into the ren devoos winder, with writin' 'pon it to say when and where they'd find the Lottery to. Who'twas did it none knaws for cartain ; but the talk's got abroad t'was a sergeant there, 'oos he'd a bin braggin' aforehand that he'd got a watoh-sale, and that o' hern. ' Hern I' echoed Adam. * Ibs, o* Eve'f. And he's allays a showin' of it off, he is ; and when they axes un questions he doan't answer, but he dangles the sale afront of 'em and says, "What dee think," he says; and now he makes his brag that he shall hab the maid yet, while her man's a dandn* gallui-bJgh a top «' Tyburn tree.' The blood rushed up into Adam's face, so that oach vein stood a separate chord of swollen burst ing rage. 'They wasn't a-mainin* you, ye knaw,' said Jonathan ; ' 'twar Jerrem—her's played un false, I reckon. Awh!' and he gave a fiendish obuckle, 'but ua'U pay her out for*t, woan't us, eh! Awnly you give to me the ticklin' o' her owl pipe,' and he made a movement of his bony fingers that conveyed such a hideous embodi ment of his meaning that Adam, overcome by horror, threw up his arms with a terrible cry to heaven, and falling prone he let the bitterness of death pass over the love that had so late lain warm at his heart; while Jonathan crouched down, trembling and awe-stricken by the sight of emotion which, though he could not compre hend or account for, stirred in him the sympa thetic uneasiness of a dumb animal Afraid to move or speak, he remained watching Adam's bent figure until his shallow brain, incapable of any sustained concentration of thought, wandered off to other interest*, from which he was recalled by a noise, and looking up he saw that Adam hnd raised himself and was wiping his face with his handkerchief. Did he feel so hot, then! No, it must be that he felt cold, for he shivered and his teeth seemed to chatter as he told Jona than to stoop down by the side there and hand him up a jar and a glass that he would find ; and this got, Adam poured out some of its con tents, and, after tossing it off, told Jonathan to take the jar and help himself ; for, as nothing could be done until daylight, they might as well lie down and try and get some sleep. Jonathan's relish for spirit once excited, he made himself tolerably free of the permission, and before long had helped himself to such purpose that, stretched in a heavy sleep, unless someone roused him he was not likely to awake for some hours to come. Then Adam got up, and with cautious move ments stole down the ladder, undid the small hatch-door which opened out on the mill-stream, fastened it after him, and, leaping across, stood for a few moments asking himself what he had come out to do. He didn't know, for as yet, in the tumult of jealousy and revenge, there was no outlet, no gap by which be might drain off any portion of that passionate fire which was rapidly destroying and consuming all his softer feelings. The story which Jonathan had brought of the betrayal to the sergeant, the fellow's boastings, and his possession of the seal, Adam treated as an idle tale, its possibility vanquished by his conviction that Eve could have no share in it It was the letter from Jerrem which was the damnatory proof in Adam's eyes, the proof by which he judged and condemned her; for had not he himself seen and wondered at Jerrem's anxiety to go to Guernsey, bis elation at finding a letter waiting him, his display of wishing to be seen secretly reading it, and now his ultimate betrayal of them by sending an answer to it! A b for Jerrem, oh ! he would deal with him as with a dog, and quickly send him to that fate he bo richly deserved. It was not against Jerrem that the depths of his bitterness welled over : as the strength of his love, so ran his hate, and this all turned to one direction, and that direc tion pointed towards Eve. He must see her, stand face to face with her, smite her with reproaches, heap upon her curses, show her how he could trample on her love, and fling her back her perjured vows—and then! This done, what was there left ? From Jerrem be could free himself. A word, a blow, and all would be over; but how with her? True, he cjuld kill the visible Eve with his own hands ; but the Eve who lived in his love, would she not live there still f Aye ! and, though he flung that hudy which could court the gaze of other eyes than his, full fathoms deep, the fair image which dwelt before him would still remain present to hU vision. So that, do what be would, Eve would live, mast live. Live! Crushing down on ih it thought came the terrible consequences whicb might come of Jonathan's tale being told
—a tale so colored with all their bitterest pre judice* that it was certain to be greedily listened to ; and, in the storm, of angry passion it would rouse, everything else would De swallowed up by resentment against Eve's baseness, and, the fire once kindled, what would oome of it ? The pioture which Adam's heated imagination conjured up turned him hot and oold ; an agony of fear crept over him ; his heart sickened and grew faint within him, and the hands, which but a few minutes before had longed to be steeped in her blood, now trembled and shook with nervous dread lest a finger of harm should be laid upon her. These and a hundred visions more or leu wild coursed through Adam's brain, as his feet took their swift way towards Polperro-^not keeping along the open road, but taking a path which— only known to the inhabitants—would bring him down almost in front of his own house. The night was dark, the sky lowering and cloudy. Not a sound was to be heard, not a soul had he seen, and already Adam was dis cussing with himself how best, without making an alarm, be should awaken Joan and obtain admittance. Usually bars and bolts were un known, doors were left unfastened, windows often open ; but now all would be securely shut, and he would have to rely on the possibility of his signal being heard by someone who might chance to be on the watch. Suddenly a noise fell upon bis ear. Barely be heard the sound of footsteps and the bum of voices! It could never be that the surprise they deemed a possibility bad turned oat a certainty t Adam crouched down, and under shadow of the wall glided silently along until he came opposite the corner where the house stood. It was as he feared. There was no further doubt. The shut ters were flung back, the door was half open, and round it, easing their tired limbs as best they might, stood crowded together a do2en men, the portion of a party who bad evidently spread themselves about the place. (tobkcoktutoeb.)