|Newspaper Title||The Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 - 1939)|
|Trove Title||Adam and Eve|
Adam and Eve.
BY MRS. PARR, Authoress of "Dorothy Fox," "The Gosan Smithy," &c., &c.
REUBEN MAY had been but short time back in London, when, one evening as he was closing the shutters of his small shop, a boy presented himself saying he was the landlady's nephew at
Knight's Passage, and had been «ent by her to aak Mr. May for some of the things he was taking care of for Eve Pascal. ' Why, what does she want them for?' asked Reuben, curtly. ' She wants them for Etc Pascal herself,' said the boy. ' Eve Pascal has come back again; she came back thiß morning, only she hadn't got any one to send till now.' 'All right,' said Reuben, returning to his shatter-closing, and then proceeding to fasten the door ; ' I'll go round and speak to her myself.' ' Then you won't want me ?' said the boy, not sorry to be released by his stern-looking com* panion. ' No, you can go your own way,' replied Reu ben, already several paces in advance, and walk* ing with such rapid strides that a few minutes brought him to the house whioh had been the scene of all the romance his life had ever known. ' Oh, Mr. May!' but, paying no heed to the landlady's voice, and without a pause, Reuben ran up the different flights of stairs, knocked at the door, opened it, and found himself at once in the presenoe of Eve. 'Eve!' 'Reuben!' And then silenoe, each looking at the other, wondering what could have wrought suoh a change; for the bodily fatigue and mental anxiety undergone by Reuben had told as heavily on his appearanoe as the sorrow Eve had endured had told on hers, although the absence of original comeliness made the alteration in him less generally noticeable. 'Have you been iIL Eve?' and as he put the question a wild thought sprang up that perhaps her suffering had been on his account, and, stirred by this prompting, Reuben took her hand in bis and looked with tender anxiety into her faoe. ' No, 1 she said, quietly withdrawing her hand; 'I have net been UL Have you ? You look very ill.' 'Oh, that's on account of my having walked most of the way back here from Plymouth ; it's a stifflsh tramp, you know, and took the little flesh I had off my bones.' Eve paused for an instant, as if trying to re* press the over-baste of her question, then she said, while her faoe was half turned away: ' Did you go straight on to Plymouth after I •aw you ?' ' I got to Plymouth before daylight the next morning. I was forced to rest a bit here and there on the way, as I'd come the same ground once before that daj ; but the night was fine, so, as I didn't care about stopping anywheres, I stumped on without waiting to see Tnggs even— made a message do for him—and started off on my journey.' ' Then you never went near Looe at all ?' Eve exclaimed with eagerness. 'Ah I' replied Reuben, evading a direct reply by a little laugh, under which he heralded his answer,' you may be sure I didn't stop to enquire the names of the places I passed through ; I was in too hot haste to turn my back on them for anything of that sort' 7 Oh, thank God !' said Eve, and at the words her whole body and mind seemed to relax from the strain imposed on them by the suspicion that, in some indistinct way, on her had rested the blame of the betrayal.' 'Thank God!' repeated Reuben sharply. 'Thank God for what?' ' For not making me the betrayer of those who put their trust in me.' Reuben's face turned crimson ; but so en* grossed was Eve by her own satisfaction that his sudden confusion was lost upon her, and she continued: ' I msy as well tell you, Reuben, that a terrible trouble has fallen on me and mine since I parted with you. That very night some one played us false, and betrayed the Lottery into the hands of the revenue. ' I can't see what else was to be expected,' said Reuben stolidly; 'when men run their necks into a noose they may be pretty sure of some day finding the knot drawn tight* ' I was so afraid that you might have laid hold on anything I said to you, and had been led in any way to tell it against them,' sighed Eve, pay* ing no heed to the taunt with which Reuben had hoped to sting her. 'And supposiag I had,' he said, 'oughtn't you to thank me for doing it ? Don't tell me, Eve,' and he threw into his tone a mixture of contempt and bitterness,' that you've come to take it as a trial that those you talk of belonging to are forced into taking to honest ways.' ' Those I belong to have been hunted down like dogs,' she cried. ' A price has been set upon their lives, and one of them has been dragged away up here that they may try and bang him if they can.' 'What!' exclaimed Reuben, starting to bis feet, 'hang him! Who are they going to hang? What can they hang him for? Is it your cousin, Adam Pascal, you're talking of ?'
* The right of npaMkhing " Adam and Kt*" in QtMnwUnd hM been ponsbaMd by Urn propctoton of the
' No; I wish it wm,' said Eye, her face quiver ing with the emotion these details atirred within her, ' but, though 'twas in fair fight, 'twas Jerrem shot the man.' ' Shot what man?' gasped Reuben. 'The revenue man. The Lottery was lying still, waiting for the tide to come up, when the boats crept up behind them in the dark, and, if it hadn't been for Adam, not one among their crew would have lived to tell the tale ; but by hia word he kept his own men quiet, all but Jerrem, who fired hia gun, and down the revenue man fell—dead.' Reuben stifled the exclamation which row to his lips, and Eve, to whose days of pent-up misery the repetition of these woes seemed to bring relief, continued: ' At first all blamed Adam and praised Jerrem, bnt almost at once the soldiers came, and they'd only barely time to bide away from them. Adam went to the mill, and was there a week and more; and then some one told him that 'twas I was the cause of their being betrayed, and drove him so mad with jealousy and rage that he told of the place where Jerrem was hid, and the next day the soldiers came again, dragged Jerrem out, and carried him away. And now, though uncle spends •Teryguineahehaßgot,tisalmostsure that through Adam's word Jerrem will be hanged; for they say they've brought them both to London, and that they're lodged in Newgate gaoL Up to this time Reuben's eyes seemed riveted upon Eve's face, but as she paused he bent his head, and sunk it down upon the table near—a movement that at any former time would naturally have awakened some surprise, but now so familiar had Eve grown with the aspect of sorrow that she regarded all visible emotion as an outburst of the certain sympathy to be ex pected from her hearers. ' Now you know why it is, Reuben,' she con tinued, ' that I feel so glad that you had no hand in anything of this—for you must overlook the anger that I showed at that time. I've been sorry for it often since, and feared you'd count me overbold for talking as I did. Not that I'm changed, Reuben, nor think one bit the leas of Adam for what's happened. No ! and though all the world should turn their backs on him, I'd stand by his side; and to prove it I must find him out and tell him that, in spite of all they've told him, in heart and tongue I've never been un true to him.' And, filled with the desire of seeing the man she loved, Eve clasped her hands, and sat trying to resolve her plans, while Reuben commenced pacing the little room with a troubled air. Suddenly bringing himself to a stand be fore Eve, he said: 1 Eve, be sure your sin will find you out' ' No, Reuben, no,' and she put up her hand as if to avert the continuance of any homily, "tis of no good talking like that Sorrow has sealed up my heart against taking condemnation or comfort torn anything of that sort' 'It isn't of you I'm thinfciqg |* he exclaimed. 'Oh I' he cried, giving vent to his pent-up feel ings, 'down into what a pitfall a minute's evil passion may fling a man ! To think that I, while I was crying vengeance against others, was draw ing down the wrath of God upon my own head, stomping myself with the brand of Cain, and doing the devil's work by sending men to death with all their sins still heavy on their souls.' ' Reuben, what is it you mean ?' and seizing hold of him with both her hands, Eve gazed into his face. ' That the thought you had was true,' he said, 'and that 'twas me who dropped the paper in, that told them where the Lottery would be found; and a tremor ran through Reuben's frame, his pulses for a moment quickened, and then grew faint and seemed to die away ; while Eve uttered neither word nor sound, her eyes drooped, her hold relaxed, and tottering she sank back into the seat behind her, and there sat motionless and still as on* carved ont t>f atone. The abandonment of hope, the unutterable des pair of face and form, so unlike anything which Reuben had ever seen in Eve, touched him as no reproaches could have done. That depth of misery which words can neither describe nor express pforoed his inmost soul, and added to the stings with which conscience was already smiting him. Not for the act of betrayal, for, had there bean no Eve to prompt him, Reuben would have looked upon it as an act of justice that he should aid the law against men who set order and government at|defianoe, and, though each man on board had met bis death, Reuben would have held his conscience free of any tittle of reproach; but, equitable and unyielding to himself as well as to others, he full well knew that when he wrote the words which sealed the Lottery's fate justice was clean gone out of his mind. He neither knew nor cared what might become of the men whose safety he betrayed ; the whole rancour of his hate was turned against his rival, and the paper he flung into the Rendezvous window was as much a blow aimed at Adam as if he had dealt him a thrust, and had stabbed him in the dark. ' Eve, he said,' words are but poor things at a time like this; and if I spoke from now tUI ever I couldn't make you see by them the misery I feel, but, if you'll trust me this far, I swear by Him who sees us both, and knows our hearts, that no stone shall be unturned, no thing undone. I'll walk London over, and neither rest day nor night till I find ont Adam Pacal and his comrade, and tell them the whole troth. And when I say this,' he added, his face working with emotion, ' don't fancy 'tis because of love of you, Eve. I know that, come what may, we never can be nothing more than friends now; but oh,' and he held out his hands towards her,' let's at least be that, Eve—let me help you to set yourself clear with the man, who, be he what he may, it seems you've given all your heart to, and you—you help me to rid myself of the thought that I've led into sin, and harried on to death, fellow creatures whose godless lives I'd now give my own to save. Together, if we set our minds to work, there's no knowing what we mayn't do yet Warrants have been squashed, and pardons given, when men have reached the very gallows' foot; and as for getting in, why Mr. Osborne knows Newgate prism every inch, f;om going there with old Silas Told, when he was living, and he'll do anything for me, so there'll be no fear about that And you know me, Eve; you know how when I'm set upon a thing I strain my utmost nerve to get it done?' and, pausing, he stood watch ing with mingled hope and fear the effect of his word* ; first, the flush of spreading color then
the quivering mouth and eyes, and finally the ruah of teara which lifted up and cleared away that stone-like gloom. A ray of hope seemed once more near, and, catching at the feeblest chance of being brought again face to face with Adam, Eve, unable to speak, stretched out her hand, which Reuben took, grasped it nlmoßt to pain, then let it go, and with it every hope of love that lingered still for Eve. The rest of the time was Bpent in explanations of the various incidents relating to the all* engrossing event, the details which bore upon it, the circumstances which surrounded it, until, from following out all these into their different channels, Reuben began to have a clearer con ception of the men, their characters, their indi vidual virtues and collective failings, growing interested in them almost against his will. The hour was late before he recollected that until he reaohed his home he could hardly settle his plans, so as to secure an entrance into the prisou on the following day. Bidding Eve good-night, he left the house, and walked away, only stopping at the turn of the street to step into the road, and cast his wistful gaze up to the window of the room which to him now was as the tomb of Mb dead love. An ordinary working man standing in an ob« scure street in not a figure to arouse much interest, and Reuben's stolid face gave little index to the varied emotions which surged within his troubled heart. He was able to return the gruff good night the watchman gave, and the old man, passing on, went wondering aa to the cause of such anxious Burvey on Reuben's part. For as he stood his thoughts ran here and there, and by the magic of their power Bhowed to his view the long-gone joys of other days. He watched the struggling birth of love, scorched himself in its flame, and felt by turns the tortures and delights its presence gives to those who live on hope alone ; then sadly saw it fade from out his sight, sicken and faint almost to death, and yet it did not die until by that one action he had robbed it of life and killed it evermore. Yes, love was dead, and love was Eve; and for Reuben May the Eve he had loved bo fondly lived no longer.
Chapter XXXIV. Dubinq the time which had elapsed since the night on which Eye Pascal and Reuben May re* newed their bond of friendship, many an anxious incident had occurred to teat its value and cement its strength. Jerrem and Adam were familiar names to Reu ben now, and the men who bore them were often before his eyes and constantly in his thoughts. Prepared as Reuben had been for undergoing much awkwardness in delivering himself of the tale he had to tell, he found he had greatly under* rated the pain and humilation he actually felt when, through the interest of his friend, he found himself within the walls of Newgate and in the presence of Adam. Reuben was no coward, yet it needed all the strength of his strictly disciplined mind to open up and lay bare before a rival's eyes those wounds which love had made, and time had had no space to heal. He shrank from placing in front of Adam the picture of himself and Eve, as they had stood in the days when, Adam all unknown, the balance of a happy future seemed trembling still within the hand of Fate; and, as he spoke, from time to time be paused, hoping some word or sign would make his task more easy: but Adam never spoke nor turned aside his eyes, and under that fixed gaze Reuben was forced to tell bis tale .out to the end, constraining his pride to give out word for word what Eve had said in Adam's praise, and searing the green memory of his love by making his lips repeat those vows which she had told him bound her to another. At length the task was ended, the jealous rage, the mad revenge, was all confessed, &nd satisfied that, whatever guilt it might please Adam to lay to his charge, he had at least shown that Eve was free from any shadow of stain, Reuben paused, and the two bo strangely linked stood looking at each other with envy, jealousy, distrust clouding their minds, while a chord of sympathy drew them together, as they recognised a similitude in their actions which made each self-abasement uttered find an echo in its listener's breast. Prond, stern, unyielding to emotion as both these men had lived, it was not in them to take comfort in the shifts and excuses weaker natures find ; the hearts that had refused pity for their neigh* bors would not entreat her because they now stood in need. Aa they had judged their fellows, so they arraigned themselves, and thus unwitt ingly rendered the first atonement man is called upon to make. The sight of Adam's strong powerful form, shaken and bowed down by the remorse he strove in vain to control, moved Reuben strangely. The haggard pallor of his striking face, the sunken eyes, the untested food, the unslept-in bed, each told its tale of misery and woe, and opened out to Reuben a depth of despair his own experience hitherto had furnished him with no gauge to measure. What if with do further warning he fetched up Eve to Adam's aid ? —the thought would bear no hesitation, a thousand jealous "Noes," battled with the suggestion ; but Reu ben's better Belt resolved to have its way, and, seising the opportunity of Adam's head being bent down in his arms, Reuben went swiftly out and along down to the keeper's room, where Eve had been left impatiently awaiting his return. Although the grating of the hinge roused Adam, he neither stirred nor moved until, satis fied by the unbroken silence that Reuben had left him to himself, he ventured to raise his head. Where could he go; where hide himself from human gaze ? And as the thought of all his shame came crowding to his mind, he started up and wildly stored around, and then around again, seeing each time the walls, which looked so near, draw nearer still. No hope, no hope ! here be must live, until the hour when those who brought him here would drag him forth to swear away his comrade's life. 0 God t how helpless he felt; and as he let himself drop down each limb gave way, and nerveless fell, as if dejection claimed him for her own. The time had been when Adam's mind was racked by thoughts of what lay in the hearts of thone he had left behind ; their pic tured hatred and contempt stung him to mad ness ; the words they would say, the ourees they were uttering, seemed ever ringing in hi* care. But Reuben's tale had for the time swept this away, and filled it* place with dark remorse of
what he had done to Jerrem. True, Reuben had shown that Jerrem'a hand had wrought hia own and their destruction, but what of that ? Adam through him had wreaked his vengeance on them all—had, Judas-like, delivered them to death ; henceforth, branded and disgraced, he mußt be an outcast or a wanderer. As this fallen spectre of himself rose up and flitted in his Bight, a cry of wild despair burst forth, wrenched from the depths of his proud heart—a cry which some one a ear sent echoing back, and as it came his hands were caught, and Pity eeemed to stretch her arms, and fold him to her breast. Was it a nightmare he was waking from—tome hideous dream in which our bodies slumber, while our fancies live a lifetime? Would this vision of Eve (for Eve it was who knelt close by his side, her arms around his neck) melt away and fade as many a one of her had done before ? She calls him 1 ove—her love, the husband of her heart What, he, this guilty outcast! can he be this to anyone, and most of all to Eve? A finger's touoh seemed laid upon the veil which hitherto had shut out hope from Adam's view, and, as it shrivelled up and rolled away, the light revealed that Mercy still sat throned on high; and, bowing down his head on Eve's neck, he let his stricken soul take comfort in the thought. But, while Adam was thus cast down under suffering, sorrow had taken but a slight hold on J errem, who, after the first shock produced by the h errors of a place then branded as "the darkest Beat of woe this Bide of hell," gradually regained his old elasticity, and was soon ready to treat, laugh, and drink with all who came near him. His merry jukes, his quaint sea songs, the free handling ho gave to his plentiful supply of money, all served to ensure his popularity; so that instead of the man sunk under misery and despair whom Reuben, after leaving Adam, had girded himself up to encounter, he came upon Jerrem rollicking and gay, a prime favorite with all the authorities, and a choice Bpirit amid the craw of tried and untried prisoners who, in those days, crowded together the foul wards of Newgate. Fresh from the sight of Adam's dark remorse, filled with compunction at the thought of all the ills their joint passions had hurled on Jerrem's head, Reuben had invested Jerrem with a sense of wrong, to make reparation for which he had «ome prepared to offer whatever sacrifice he « tiould demand. To tind the man for wh >m all this feeling had been conjured up reckless and unconcerned, casting oaths against his ill-luok one moment, and cutting jokes at his possible late the next, jarred upon Reuben terribly, and made him at once deoide that it would be worse than useless to urge upon him any necessity for taking thought for hia soul when he was so utterly reckless as to what would become of his body. The story Reuben had to tell of himself and Eve, the betrayal, and the suspicions it had aroused against Eve in Adam, merely affected Jerrem as a matter for surprise and curiosity. He seemed pleased to hear that Eve was close at hand, but still expressed no wish to see her. He talked about Adam, and, with a painful absence of all malice, told Reuben to say to him that he'd best lay it thick on his back, so that the judge and jury would let the other chaps go free. The circumstance of being brought to London to be tried seemed to afford him immense satis* faction—a thing, he said, that hadn't happened for Bixty years and more, when old swung for it; and then he fell to wondering how soon that might be his fate, and if bo, how many from Polperro would make the stretch to come so far. He'd promise them it shouldn't be for nothing; he'd show the Cornish men that he could out his capers game. Only one subject seemed able to sober or subdue bis reckless spirit, and this was any mention of Joan or Uncle Zebedee : to them the poor soul seemed to cling with all the love his nature could command. And when Reuben, instructed by Eve, told him how stricken down the old man lay, and further on promised to write for him all the messages he wished to send to Joan, a heart of wax seemed given to his keep ing, in whioh it now must be his care to mould the little good there was yet time to teach. And so it happened that in all his future visits—and every hour that Reuben had to spare was given up to Jerrem—Joan was the theme that threaded aft their discourse ; and by her power Jerrem's soft heart and softer nature became to Reuben as an open page, wherein he ruad of actions in which good aud bad were so mixed up and jumbled that, in the very midst of his reproof and condemnation, Reuben was often forced to stand abashed before some act of generous pity which found no echo in his former life. And out of this humility, which grew in strength, there sprang forth greater merits than from all the weary efforts he made at working out his own atonement; for Reuben, like Adam, had been over-satisfied about his own rectitude, and took pride in the knowledge that if he had committed a wrong he had acknowledged it freely and expiated it to the uttermost farthing—while Jerrem, for the first time in his life brought to see guilt in what he had counted pleasure, scarce dared to listen to a hope of mercy for himself, but rather craved Reuben to beg it for the many who had been thoughtless sharers in hia folly. His ruling desire was to see Joan once more, and no sooner was he told that the Admiralty Session had begun, and that his day of trial—although not fixed—was near at hand, than he begged Reuben to writ* and ask Joan to delay her pro* mised visit no longer; and this Reuben did, adding on his own account that, from what the lawyer said, it would be best she came at once, by the coach which would reach London on the following Thursday week, on which day Reuben would be waiting to reoeive her. Now, at the onset of this disaster, had such a letter reached Polperro, not a man in the place but, short of knowing it would cost his life, would have risked all else to go to London, and, if Jerrem was to die, give him courage by musteriug round their comrade at the last. But the downpour of disaster bad cowed these dam g spirit*, and the men who had not kuowo wb*r for meant no l>ng M success was secure now trembled and gave way, under the «ui>vmitiom certainty that ill luck was following them and misfortune had marked them for her own. Their energies paralysed, they succumbed to what they looked upon urn Uu>, and in most cases were seised with*
out a struggle, and led off to the nearest prisons without an effort on their own part towards resistance. The money over whioh—from the small loope for apending it—they had Beemed so lavish and reckless, when needed for lawyers and counsel and bribes, went but a small way ; and, though they made a common purse of all their hoards, not a day passed without some house being stripped of the substance which adorned it, so that money might be got for the husband, the son, the brothers, who had brought these treasures home. The women, on their knees, pressed on the farmers' wives their chintzes, their lace, their gaudy stock of jewellery ; and, when this market tailed, toiled along to Liskeard, Plymouth, and Lannceston, carrying their china, silver-plate, and bowls, in the hope of finding somebody to buy them. With one, often two, revenue cutters always; in sight, landing parties of king's men, who—re calling ugly thoughts of the hated press-gang— roamed hither and thither, ready to seise any one who happened to show his face; with half the husbands, sons, and brothers in Bodmin Gaol or Plymouth Clink, and the rest skulking in farm-houses or lying hidden in the secret place* ; with plenty vanishing and poverty drawing nigh; the past circumstances which had led to this de solation were swallowed up in the present misery it had entailed upon them; and though every one now knew the whole story a* it stood—how that through Jerrem writing to Eve she had had it in her power to tell Reuben May, her former lover, who, led on by jealousy, had betrayed them to the revenue men—so familiarly had Reuben's good services to Jerrem beoome known that it was takeu as only one more of his many friendly actions that he should write to Joan, urging her to come to London without delay, and promising to meet her and see that she was taken care of. If any among them thought that Joan would go probably to Eve's home, they made no mention of it; for Eve's name was by a tacit understanding banished from their mouths, and the memory of her lay as a seal to that dark Bepulohre wherein, with bitter acorn and hate, Adam lay buried. There was no question now of Uncle Zebedee going, for the confinement, the excitement, and the degradation had been too much for the old man, whose free and happy life had never known trouble or restraint, and his mind had gradually weakened under the burden imposed upon it; so that now, except when some unexpected incident roused the flickering flame of memory, the past few months were blotted from hia mind, and in company with Jonathan—who, broken down by ill-usage, and turned out of prison to die, had managed to crawl back to the friends he knew he should find shelter with—he roamed about harm less and contented, always watching for the Lot* tery'a return, and promising, when ahe did come back, that he would give them all a fling auch aa Polperro bad not seen for many a day. It waa an easy matter to cheat him now, and when, Joan'a journey all arranged, ahe aUpped into the boat whioh was take her round to Ply mouth, and left old Zebedee standing on the shore, raising hia thin cracked voice to fetch her ear with obeery messages for Jerrem and for Adam, whom ahe waa going to meet, her cap of bitternees seemed to overflow. [TO BI COtrriNUKD.]