Chapter 3044157

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Chapter NumberPART III. I. (Continued.)
Chapter TitleTHE MAD ENGLISHMAN OF VENICE."
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article3044157
Full Date1893-01-14
Page Number6
Corrections0
Word Count3135
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 - 1954)
Trove TitleUnder the Great Seal
article text

OUR NOVEL.

-*

fe>vw

[NOW FIRST PUBLISHED.]

UNDER THE GREAT SEAL,

A NOTEL,

BY ¡"tyJ

t JOSEPH HATTON,

Author of "Clytie," "By Obdeb of the

Czab," "John Needhah's, Double,"

« Cbtjbl London," Ac. ,

J^í ' PART III.

if/ . , CHAPTER I. (Continued.)

t?ï 'Thb .mad Englishman op Vemcb."

ipf Kerertheless Alan surprised them with |£ lus knowledge of navigation; and in a p^J little while they were both talking to him fe; with a rational consideration of certain l||- propositions that he discovered to them. Ml'Ha sat at their table with a certain dis Ü/{ tinction of manner that gradually made ^: À tttem even deferential. He allowed them pi :'i to understand that he knew they thought llf j hita half-witted ; but he made them feel §§§^"that, there was method in his madness. pp^e spoke of long years of imprisonment,

¡ff^of.shipwreck and slavery, of a thousand

«Ulf;

Kfo; - reasons why he might well be mad ; and

mm~\: h9 algo spoke of human beings who had ^prayed to die and could not, men who II-'' carne out of every danger unscathed, who ||| boro torture, misery, the suffocating |v¿í embrace of the sea, the anger of breakers |$?' .¿a rocky coasts, and who lived on and on ! ^ v He held tbem with his natural eloquence ; |' and he drank their wine with every now }i and then a repetition of their own pledge \ of Bonnie Scotland.

'§'\ Time went on. The moon came out \jj «pon the lagoons, and he started home ¿"" wards full of strange fancies, and barn ?£ * ing to take those sailor men into his oon ^-./fidence, half forgetting David, his son, & only remembering the treasure; and as fe- ' he- went swinging along, strengthened fK' physically and mentally by the gênerons yt Italian wine, he lapsed back into reverie ^; and wonder, into the oft-recurring sensa ifr tion of being in another world, m some % ' half way house to heaven, some earthly \t i paradise, anchored in a summer sea.

».'?' He sat down by the steps of St. Mark's \ \ and watched the evening, traffic ou the ¥/1 Grand Ganai ; stretched himself down t-i almost by the water, where other non

«£ v were reclining. None moved to give him \ ul , place either in fear or friendship. They

|. -knew he was mad but he harmed no #>, ane, and Atilio spoke well of him. They jt< knew that the mad Englishman had paid yy their, city the compliment of calling it Par fK adlse. Be lay unmolested, with his hands ?$ ' underneath his chin, watching the gond |t J. olas with glow worm lights at their bows. >*. One or two coasters were making for their %)r ^ anchorage by the Custom House ; and he \h i " traced the lines of the greatchurch of San ff G» orgio Maggine against the moonlit sky ; ¿> and lie was very happy in a negative kind ljr 9Í way, warm, contented, the wine cours- ai?' ing pleasantly through his veins. He (^ night have Jain there all the lifelong £r, mgpt, until the sun took up the story of Çx the moon, and adorned Venice with all the

beauties of the morn, had not Atilio lain his heavy hand upon him and demanded

his attention.

" Dorme P" said Atilio. Alan dreamed on.

" Awake, signori !" said Atilio, venite ' ce» me !"

" Wherefore ?" asked the mad English Bun, taking up a sitting position, and looking at Atilio, reproachfully, at being .wakened from a pleasent sleep.

Atilio was excited. His little English failed him when he was deeply moved. He .ould only repeat his one'word, " awake/' and point with a stumpy finger in the dir action of the mined palace where they .both had the privilege to lodge.

"HomeP" asked Alan. !

"Si, $i, cerlawente," said the gondolier. " andiamo a cora, come, awake, signori."

Alan gathered himself up and stood by Atilio, so gaunt,nnd yet so picturesque that one or two of the loungers looked at bim with an admiration that was born of their inborn feeling for artistic effect. , One of them smilingly asked why the mad

man did not continue to rise until

be topped the campanile and could shake paws with the lion of St. Mark.

Atilio laughed, and. lifted up his arms .ana pointing to the moon asked why not further; yonder, where the silent man weald know him; the man in the moon, with whom the Signori held long conver- sation on nights like these.

" Poor devil," said a brother gondolier, " and yet he his happy."

"Most happy, dreams he owns aaakets treasure, has ships at sea laden with gold fSnd precious stones; wait, he says and I will »ring my donations of diamonds, rabies, and gold, for the domes of St. Haran," said Atilio, chattering away in Iff.'f Italian, complimented by the attention of p/s "bis audience.

^ ''Well, that is good, he has a grateful

heart," the other replied, " and he adores ' aur beautiful Venice ; it is sufficient."

' ¡.Alan, though now upon his feet, still S «ed ont across the canal, and now and

ein looked up at the moon, as she went, *" .griing; along another vast waterway, it

seénîed to him in the heavens; bntpre - neatly as is he came out of his dream again, . he asked, "Wherefore, Atilio, Where

foreP"

Atilio replied again, volubly, but with such a strange mixture of English and _/ Italian, that Alan could only ask again "vV wliy he sought him, and catching somo $¡.-¡ thing of Atilio's enthusiasm, put his ques ^¡r tien into his own vernacular, and elaborated

ií without the slightest thought of Atilio r-rt What in the deevil's name dy'e want %y\- deesturbin a man when he's just taking g¿ his ease, and requires neither yer service ¿^' nor yet yer çompanie P"

^ And as if he understood every word the §j£'v gondolier replied, measuring his words W-K- -^«eftilly out : " H prête, ze curato,

Lavellö."

.>, ' "íLavéllo!" said Alan, almost in a § f whisper, " Layello ?"

~fy ' " Lavello," repeated Atilio, " eome, " ^Signpri."

Atilio led the way. across to the piazzia JÇilanfollowed. They knew, the footpath Ip'oi Venice as well as they knew her water

Wjg.fr "The companile and the pin," said one ^|4of the-lawyers, who had hitherto.been a felsïlenè lookar on, as he turned to watch

¿mi

j.The sole right of publication iu Wes!; Ans- J J r,.Jjb»lia has been purchased by the proprietors J ï ^Offfiie^WEST AtrSTBALIAN. 11 Hfl- ; - , (

Atilio and the madman disappear in the shadows of St. Mark's, the eompanile striding ont with long legs, the pin almost rnnning to keep np with it.

A burst of laughter greeted the humorous comparison, till he succeeded by the silence of men who sleep and the ripple of waters, that often seem to emphasise silence.

CHAPTER II.

A Dbeameb of Debams.

To listen to Father Lavello, the robust cure of Verona, formerly the young enter- prising priest of Heart's Delight, was for many days the height of happiness to the wiry, qnixote-looking Alan Keith.

He lived again. The past came back to him without its passion or its pain. It was like a story told. He saw himself ontside himself. He was a looker-on, deeply interested, bat only a luoker-on.

He loved that other Alan Keith for loving Hannah, to whom his soul went back in worship and incense.

Black, stormy clouds swept over his soul at thought of Bents and Bistack, but they passed as quickly as they came, the sunshine predominated.

Father Lavelle was eloquent in dwelling npon the mercy of God and the sympathy of the Holy Mother of God for Alan and the dear one who had gone before. He kept Alan's thoughts among the gentle places of the past, and the boundless love

of Alan for his wife filled so much of his vision in looking back that it sweetened the bitterness of his soul. His recollec- tion of the early days of Heart's Delight were now above all memories the most vivid and real.

Alan told tho priest of the visits of Hannah to his dungeon, and the cnre turned the tender fancies to good relig- ions acconnt. The mad Englishman soon became known as a devout Catholic. The faithful deemed this to be ample evidence of his perfect sanity. Even in those days Venice had her scoffers, and the lean and withered Englishman morti- fying himself was, to them, somewhat humorous in a grim kind of way; for most of the Church's devotees were smng and fat, and of contented dispositions; whereas the mad Englishman was met at all hoars in the city wandering from church to church, from narrow footway to narrow square ; while fishermen encount- ered him at equally varied hours, plying the sandolo, that some good-natnred citi- zen had lent him, now with oar or paddle, now skimming along under sail, a verit- able ancient mariner, with sparkling eyes and thin grey locks that fluttered in the

wind.

Father Lavello had been enabled to

almost complete Alan's story of the secret harbour of Labrador, the wreck of the St. Dennis, the arrest of Plympton, his acquittal and death, and the destiny of his son David and the woman, Sally Mumford, in whose charge the boy had been left. The care's advice kept Alan still in Venice. He had agents who could follow np the clue to David's whereabouts, where they had left it some doeen or fifteen year's previously.

He had long ago been convinced of Alan's death ; other ties and responsibil-

ities had diverted his attention from the

story of David, his son. Heart's delight, and all that belonged to it had more or less faded away except as incidental to his career. A cure in Verona, such ambition as he had enconraged at Heart's Delight with dreamy vistas of new conquests for the church, had died ont. The priest's mind bad gradually taken np the colour and temper of his environment. He lived a quiet reflective life, enjoyed his garden, drank his white wine and red, confessed his flock, married them and bnried them, visited his clerical neighbours, went on voluntary pilgrimages to monastic estab- lishments, where he was heartily welcome with his genial face and his happy views of life ; and altogether he became a calm contented well-to-do cure with his little

house, his carefnl old house-keeper, who was an excellent cook, his library, and his uniformly good health.

For a time he had been, however, great- ly moved at the meeting with Alan Keith. Like his old parishoner of Heart's Delight daring their conversations, he felt some of the old passion of the colonial days, the inspiration of adventure born of the At- lantic Sea. Onoe more he felt his pulse harry on with reminiscences of stirring episodes of the Fisheries, in sommer and winter stories by the Great Honse fire when the winfls were raging without, making snow drifts, mountains high in the valley, and wrapping the eye as far as the eye could see in a vast winding sheet.

Furthermore, his sense of the romantic had been piqued by Alan's honest story of the adventurers of De vil'8 Creek though he had crossed himself many times during Alan's -narrativas of the captare of the Anne of Dmrimoutk and the vengeance that had.been wreaked npon the three fish- ing admirals.

Alan had to go through certain incid- ents of prayer and penance before the euro could feel justified in assuring the forgive- ness with which he was empowered to consol» him in the name of 8t. Peter ; all the same, the good priest found himself sympathising with his penitent whose confessionals were rather secular than re-

ligions, triumphant rather than humble

and contrite. Alan was, however, as wax? in the hands of the cnro, so far as outward form and ceremony were concerned : and once more the thought of Hannah came to him and he dreamed the old dreams over again, the dreams that had made life and his long imprisonment a possibility of life and sanity; for, as we know, however, Venice might agree with tbe Moorish gaoler in calling him mad, Alan had given him ample evidence of a strong power of mind'that had enabled him to withstand the breaking down and rain of his mental faculties. It is not madness to dream ; it

is madness not to dream.

" It TOuldna a'been a matter for wonder

if I'd gane clean daft, a jack o' Bedlam," said Alan, in one of his talks with the cure; "think o' it! Twenty years o' bondage ! First, a slave, a Christian slave amang blacks. Lastly, a prisoner, barley seein' the leight for nigh upon ten year or mair ! I didna count the time then, but Fve been reckoning the year's ever since I gat free !"

" It is terrible," said the cure, " as you say it is wonderful that von have retained your reason, my poor dear friend; but Christ and his Holy Mother have had you in their keeping. And how carne you in tlie hands of the slave dealers ?"

'/Saving rae from the sea and the jagged rocks divine Providence thocht leight to drop me into the hands of what they call Biff pirates, trading in human

flesh ; they made nae difference between Christians aud heathens, Europeans and Africans ; and I went wi' the rest ; ye'd a thocht if ye could just a'seen me, wi' nae mair flesh on my bones than was enough to hand them thigether, that the inhuman beasts wood a let me free ; but nae as I tell ye I went wi' the rest !"

" My poor friend !" said the care.

" It is said there's nae depth without a lower, and it's true, i wry word of it. Eh, how I sighed for the days o' the slavery ! When thoy shut me np between stane wall, I had nae idea how happy I'd been slavin' i' the sun, tillin' the groond, carrying heavy loads, pulling an oar chained to the seat, getting now and then a bitter taste of blows, sleeping at neight wi' a shedfu' o' African niggers, and a'maist as many Europeans who like mysel, had once been white ! God, man, when I think o' it, I thirst for blood Uko a tiger tnrn'd to bay !"

Alan tore open his oriental vest and robe as if he were choking, and paced the floor, animal-like¿ as if ho were caged, the good priest slowly following him, utter- ing kindly and soothing words.

"Forgive me!".said Alan, presently, " forgive me ! There are times when the devil seems to tek hoad o' me, and upbraid me, that I didna find opportunity to cut the throats o' them ! And, man, I did seek it, bat they had the scent of bludhoands for danger all their watch-

fulness !"

"There, there, my son, my dear old friend, be calm,sitdown," urged the priest, the thought passing through his mind that he had himself been more intent upon the technical observances of Holy Church he might have elected to pass his days in some lonely conventnal cell.

"I ask your pardon," said Alan, "I amna quite mysel at times, and nae wonder as ye say are gade enough to say thinking o' the gade time 1 hae wasted !"

" Why did they detain you in prison ?" asked the priest,- deeply interested in Alan's story, whenever his strange friend was willing to relate his adventures.

" Nae, I dinna ken ! I just expected they'd tek my heed off. Sometimes I wish they had, saving your ii veranees presence as puir Pat Doolan used to say, when he ootraged the . deescipliue o' the Church. Eh, hoo often I hae thocht o* those days of Heart's Delight, sometimes comin' tae regard them a'as jost a dream, a start o' life a man might hae leeved before he was born ! Dy'e nae ken yersel the day when ye've felt ye hae lived in anither warld, and that yo hae been left somehow behind in this ?"

"It is the next world I'm most concerned about," said the priest, again patting the old man's bony hand, and looking into the wandering eyes of his friend with compas- sion, and the wish to soothe and comfort him.

"Aye, ivvery man to his trade," said Alan, "but ve were asking why they didna hang me f"' ,

" Ño, why they kept you in prison ?"

" That's ane o' the puzzles I often axed mysel! I earned naething for them in prison, 1 was justa wee bit usefu' ootside. Bat ane o' my gaolers dropt a hint ane day that by the intervention o' the Christian powers, Christian slaves, had been abolished and that even piracy had become a deeficnlt business. Te see there had been some kind o' rebellion i' the land; a risin' o' the tribes, and I had taen a hand in it, bein suddenly freed for that purpose; bat it was jost a fizzle, and I had nae time eether to get into the feight or ran for liberty, before I was a prisoner in the hands o' the Sultan or the king, or whativver they ca'd the tnrbanned deevil, and when I wouldna boo wi' the rest, instead o' haeing my head chopp'd off, I was taen asido, and my nationality bein' discovered by ane they ca'd an inter- preter, I was released as a slave and im- prisoned as a traitor, or a foreign spy, or what yon will, God in heaven only knaws I dinna, bat they kept me in the prison o' Tafilet. I gathered from my gaoler that I was regarded as an nncannie kind o' feend either to fill or chain np, and sae in mercif u' consideration o' their victory they decided to chain me np, and shut me oot frae the light o' heaven ! I wouldna abeen surprised gin they had seen me rise np from the coral strand that I was the very fiend himself came to plague them. Eh, bat it was just a wonderfu' thing how I made my way oat o' that fearsome watter wi' the rocks that jagged, yon might a thought, even the evil one could nae hae survived them 1"

{To he continued on Wednmday*)