Chapter 3044434

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Chapter NumberPART III. III. (Continued.)
Chapter TitleBAD OMENS FOR THE "MORNING STAR."
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article3044434
Full Date1893-01-21
Page Number6
Corrections0
Word Count3782
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 - 1954)
Trove TitleUnder the Great Seal
article text

Sr"

I OUR NOVEL.

?*.' [KOW" PIBST PUBLISHED.!

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I UNDER THE GREAT SEAL, |v A NOVEL,

|; JOSEPH HATTON,

|v Author of "Clttie," "Et Obdeb of the |^ , Czar," "John Needham'b Double,"

&\ "Cbuel London," Ac. ti':

PART III.

CHAPTER III. (Continued.)

Bad Omens for the "Moaning

Stab."

^ David had slept but little for several 5 nights when at last the weather improved, r Mid once more the men were busy unfurl *, ing sails and hoping to take fall advau :4¡ tage of the wind that seemed to be chang ¿ rag in favour of the voyage.

" Yes, I think you ean count on a little \ rest to-night," said the Captain, as he f Manned the horizon.

" Yon think the worst is over P" said

1 ' David.

f u I hope so," said the Captain.

I "Yo* doubt it?"

J " 1 de ; my advice is to get some sleep

while yon can, Mr. Keith." ., Thank yon," said David.

J The captain went below. The mate \ i took his place on deck. Bat he was no ,., i longer talkative, and David, as he watched CK the Banset, fonnd his thoughts going back ;<i to England, to Elmira, and his foster '\ mother, to Zacchens Webb and the old f ; honse on the danes. The wind was still :' high; bat David was no mere landsman, ^ and'hp heeded not th% pitching and swirl %\ of the ship as she beat np into the wind ^ and seemed to stretch forth wide, open

wings/ as if she would fly from the storm i. that was coming np with fresh forces.

¿ David paced the deck and lifted his ;.' fase1 np te the spray that scattered itself Gl among the lower rigging and beat upon '', huniike rain and hail.

; The crew were all busy aboat him<

modifying the swing of a sail here and , there and following the signals of the ; boatswain'a cheerful whistle. David

looked » beyond the ship and pictured Yarmouth and Caister, and all that he ;. ^ loved there: Mildred Hope came into his e, mind, and at thought of her he offered np {^ a silent prayer that he might be spared to ' return to the little house in Hartley's .J Bow:"

| The' stars came out clear and bright. :' David thought of the one that might be y shining over the home of Elmira.

C/ It might have been that his father waa '.. looking np at the heavens, too, making al ?7 lewance for the time, and wondering and jjfljhmking of the son who knew him not,

'{tau. who deemed him dead long and 7 long ago. The cure had been able to re li port to Alan Keith.the departure of David ^ for Newfoundland. The information had fp oome from Petherick, with whom Father

'Lavello bad resumed a correspondence : ;that had already proved so consoling to ,-:''' Alan. It may therefore well be that "the t* mad Englishman of Yenice " would think .'tv of David at sunset and when the stars c «ame out, for it is then, somehow, that '; men are most accustomed to ponder over f those tbey love, especially whon they are r travellers far away. It was well, perhaps, ¡r Jhat Alan could not, even in his dreams, i see David, his son, on board the "Morning "Star."

'' With the setting of the sun the wind ; rose still higher. There was however, no -suggestion of any fresh danger. The i Teasel had already behaved so well that k she might be fairly expected to ride out /any other storm that struck her path. l¿ With a eheery " Good night, Mr. Thomp ,< son," David left the mate to his labours ? tad went to bed.

í Two hours later he was awakened by | the well-known commotion that belongs

' to a storm at sea. It did not need an ex- perienced ear to make out that the ship >waa in the throes of a desperate struggle. ', The wash of the sea could be heard like a . cataract sweeping the deck. It was ae {fompanied by the hard steady beat of the "prow against the waves. She seemed to rHM pounding the sea as if a mightly ham îmer was at work. " All hands, ahoy !" [rose trampet like in the blast,followed by (.What sounded to be " Aye, ayes." Then ^ there was a confusion of sounds, a ripping and a staggering, whatever sails had to be ^reefed had evidently gone in tatters before ftke wind. A sound as of musketry fol jltwed. This was the jib blown to atoms. ^Shouts "again-some half heard-com Imenced ; this time through a speaking /trampet--" lay up on that main yard," * seemed to pierce the other noises. An-" Eather scramble of feet, and responsive Series of willingness and effort ; the flap- ping of sails like the beat of mighty parings, a falling of blocks on the deck, ^thunder and straining of timbers.

;- David scrambled from his berth and crawled on deck, among broken yards and 'entanglements of rigging. The royal "mast was being cnt adaift. The galley .went by the board, both anchors had ^worked loose, one of them was bearing down among the wreckage of sails and timbers ; a water barrel was rolling from «do to side, the ship was groaning as if lier timbers wonld part. All the time the attars were shining. Many of them blinked as if the wind crossed them. The chief lanterns of the night, however, burnt steadily in the blue as if coldly watching the ship (that had been named im honour of one of the brightest of them) beating her heart out against the attack- ing winds and seas.

*L from bad to worse ; from a full-rigged .kip to a broken-masted, ragged, lame thing still fighting the storm; from a mil stripped mutilated carrier of men and roods, to a water logged hulk ; her prow l fairy like figure, however, with a golden itar still shining on its smooth forehead, the only part of the doomed ship that muid be plainly seen above the waves. The iculptor who designed and carved that ¡roman, with the proud defiant gaze, might Ipave been honestly proud if he could have ison his ideal figure rise every now and faen and breast the topmost wave, if ting her bright golden star into the very 'ace of the night, and awaiting eclipse rith the dignity and calm of the sun her felf.

I When at last the storm abated ; when he stars went in and the snn came ont ; rifen the sea was calm and smiling as it is

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on sunny days in the Solent except for a wide and swelling; motion that might be taken for pride of power; when the wind seemed to have paused to listen for the cries that had mingled with it» own wild shouts of menace and destraction ; all that was left of the " Morning Star " was ono of two boats, with David Keith and the superstitious Bristol sailor aboard. The captain and mate went down with their ship. The rest of the crew were drowned by the foundering of the first boat they

had launched.

David and Matt White, of the " Welsh Back," where tho only survivors of the " Morning Star." The «un looked down upon them smilingly ; and yet they were without meat or drink or compass-two

famished men in au open boat on the

North Atlantic.

CHAPTER IT.

.' Was Lost and is Pound, was

Dead and is Alive again.

One of the sharpest agonies of ship- wrecked men afloat is the passing of ships whose look out they have been unable to attract. The morning has come with the cry, " a sail, a sail !" The day ha« been spent in making signals. The night has fallen with the sea once more a watery

desert.

David Keith and his companion. Matt White, of the Welsh Bach had no means of signalling.

' They had neither mast nor oar. They were adrift upon the ocean, without any power to direct or control their boat. Matt would stand np and wave a handkerchief.

He did this, however, more hy way of comforting his companion in misfortune thoa with any hope of winning the atten- tion of anybody or anything within their horizon of vision. Furthermore, ho gave

David the benefit of his nautical observa- tions as to their latitud« and longtitnde, and by the help of his knife he contrived to tarn one of the boat*« «eat« into -a rud- der, with whichhe-professed to steer- the boat, telling David that all they had to do was to keep in the track of «nips.

Matt White waa« kind hearted follow and without the slightest faith in th« pes ibility of their being picked op, he never- theless, eneouraged hi« young compan- ion to hope, for he argued, as if the idea had onlf just occurred to any human being, that while there waa life a man had no right to despair.

Matt knew he was doomed. He had «aid «o before «ailing. He had predicted the loss of the " Morning Star. It wa« a cruel law that compelled a man te go on board a doomed «hip. What were omens for ? he argued. They were to guide the mariner. Why did cat« meet a man when he was going on board ? ' and why did pig« also give warning t because they were so ordained;-and a« for a dream, why it was nething «hört of im- piety to disregard the forecast of a voy- age when it waa accompanied with other sign« and token« of disaster. But there; it was all over, the ship had gone, the captain who wouldn't be advised, and the mats and all the crew, except him and the one passenger ; and all they had to do was te wait God's own time, and hope for the

best.

Not exactly in these words, but to this effect, Matt White communed with him- self while David slept; and curiously enough the lad slept for many hours after the, boat began to drift away from the scene of the wreck. On the other hand, Matt White could not sleep a wink. He watched and talked, grew hungry and athirst, fancied he saw sails when the sea was as empty of them as hi« own hope«, much as be pretended to the contrary.

The sun was hot all day, and at night the breeze was sultry. On the next day thero was a thunderstorm. The sea was

not'rough. It rose and fell with a strange uniformity of motion, without breaking. The rain had assuaged the thirst of the two waifs of the sea. Matt had caught it in his hand« and laughed over it. He had been more or less feverish from the first. David had held his face up to the great tropic-like drops, and was refreshed.

One desire satisfied, then came hunger. The next day was burning hot. The sun seemed to fire the waters. There was no stir in the air. Matt said another storm was brewing. At night there came a heavy mist. It broke now and then into ghostly form. David once more slept, but ¿woke every now and then feeling faint and weak. He tried to rise, and found that his limbs were stiff and painful. Matt was always busy, whether David slept or not. He would shade his eyes with his hands and look out into the night jost as he did when he could see in the Gaytime. Then he would mumble and chuckle. Once he awoke David with hi« «inging. It wa« an old sea song thathe wa« trying to remember, ever harking back for the words, and always chuckling when he thought he had snatched them from his fading memory.

On the third day, David felt as if he were dying,(so weak,so hopeless, so empty se incapable of thought.

He lay with open eyes in the stern of the boat watching Matt who was in a rag- ing fever. It wa« his particular mania in these last hours te fancy every cloud a sail. He hailed them with erie« and laugh- ter. He thought they signalled him. He answered them; he shouted the name of the foundered vessel ; at least he thought he shouted it; but 'his voice was a horse whisper; his tongue

clove to the roof of his month.

After am hour or two of this mad exer- cise, waving his arms and answering signals, he suddenly flung himself into the sea. David had neither the strength nor the inclination te attempt his rescue. He stared vacantly at the empty place which Matt White had filled a moment before, and then shut his eyes as he thought-if he thonght at all-in death. He remembered no more until he found himself in the eabin of au Italian vessel homeward bound for Yenice.

When he awoke he thonght he was in Hartley's How ; then he thought, he was on the" "Morning Star" after' a bad dream. Trying to move he felt his body

stiff and sore. He looked round the cabin and noticed that there was another bunk it, and that by his side were medicine bottles, and wine glasses and a soup basin. Ha turned over and tried to collect his faeulties. The effort was too much for him, and it was many honrs before he again became sensible of his surround- ings.

It was one of these carious tricks of Pate that are common enough, however startling they may seem, that Alan Keith should have been sitting ob the quay when the captain of the barque Eldorado walked by with a young fellow leaning upon his arm. ' They were on their way to a certain

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charitable refuge for unfortunate sailors, the boy being no other than Alan's son, whom Father Lavello was moving heaven and earth to find, and for whom the re- leased prisoner of Tafilet had begun to

build castles in the air.

Sitting there upon the quay while David passed, he was apparently watching the newly moored ship, with the busy coming and going of sailors and merchants, or looking out over the broad lagoon». but in reality Alan saw none of the sights that lay immediately under his eyes, heard none of the various sounds all about him. He saw a grave in the bosom of the forest of Heart's Content; he saw «evora« cairns at the base of Demon's Bock; he saw between the oatlot of the cavern and the log hut where he and Preedie and his companions of the captured "Anne of Dartmouth " had wailed away the winter, a certain clump of trees and rock where he had buried his own honest savings apart from the piratical plunder of the Bristol trader, the "St. Dennis," and other prizes. It was some half recognised instinct ot honour that had induced him to keep his own money apart from the treasures of the crews ; it might have been con- ceived in the spirit of fair play with the view to the ultimate division stipulated for in the articles of agreement between him and his men. Some vague idea of devot- ing this honest gold to the memory of his wife may have iuflneneed bim. But as he sat on this bright winter's day, regardless of the chill air that cam» in little gust« of searching wind from the Adriatic, apparently much engrossed in the Eldora- do or the shivering lagoons he experienced no particular feeling in regard to the difference between the treasures in Wilder- ness Greek and the hidden box on the way to the hut with its surrounding bit of garden, now no doubt wiped ont with

weeds, and shrubs, and underwood of all kinds. He felt a craving to unearth the strange jumbleof gold and precious stones, of silver cap« and golden ornamenta, of laces, and «ilka, and other textiles, em- broideries, and strange spices.

Hi« memory carried him back with singular clearness, and considering all that had happened, he had not the remotest doubt that he was the sole inheritor of the secret treasure.

Onse a transient shadow of fear crossed his mind in the form of Lester Beutz.and even in hi« present penetential mood he wished he had killed him. At the same time he came to th« conclusion that Benfz could not possibly have known of the hid- ing of the treasure, and it seemed to him that making thora part of the dead, giving them memorial« of mortality,' was a suffi- cient disguise for all time, a'part from the inaccesibility of the spot and the super- stitious dread whioh belonged to Ñas quappe and Demon's Ridge.

"My son," he said, to himself, a« he wan- dered homewards,taking the narrow,unf re quented ways of the city, sod pausing now and then to exchange some curious or frienldy greeting,' " my son David, it i« time ye came for your inheritance; I canna' lire mnch longer; I feel ghostly warnin's, neo that I hae made my peaee wi' Almighty God an' hi« Blessed Sonjt's like I mae be caa'd at ony moment it's borne in upon my distracted mind that I'll see theo soon, and I ken thy face, my dear, as wool as if I'd seen it a' my days ; I hae seen it i' the spirit.thy mother leadin' thee by the bond, and sayin' in her ain sweet, heavanely voice, 'Alan, love, this is David, our dear son !' " ' That night in his dreams, Alan saw his wife and son again and this time David was no longer wet with the damps and weeds of the sea.

A strange unrest took possession of him after this. He wandered forth into the cold night, took Atilio's boat and rowed himself down the Grand Canal, and let the wind toss him upon the waves of the incoming tide away past the quay where the **. Eldorado " was lying aud out upon the lagoons towards the4 " Lido." The thunder of tho Adriatic beating upon the «andy barriers, with which slept the ocean city, recalled to him the memory of days gone by.

It was on the next day that the English Consul, who had taken an interest in Father Lavello's inquiries, called apon him at his temporary lodging in Vonice, to acquaint him with the landing of a young Englishman who said his name was David Keith, and that he had been picked np in an open boat on the homeward voyage of the Eldorado, famished with cold and hnnger, and for a time thought to be dead, He had, however, survived his terrible privations, and was now in kindly hands at the soldier's retreat near

the Arsenal.

Father Lavello went at once to investi- gate this information, which seomed to him nothing short of miraculous; though, to be sure, it might have chanced that some other ship had picked np the lad and taken him to some other port. The Consul «aid something noble in the aspect of the young fellow despite his miserable {»light had stimulated the usually benevo ent sentiments of sailors towards any unfortunate victim of the sea; and for himself he was bound to say that he also was much impressed by the lad's hand- some face and dignified figure.

They had dressed him in sailor grab, something between a pirate and a blue- jacket, and the higest compliment they could pay him was to say that he was the beau ideal of an Italian youth, his hair black, his eyes dark and soft, his face of an olive complexion, and his form as lothe as that of a young fawn. A Moravian from the Lido who visited the house of charity said he was worthy to be the hero of a poem by their great and learned By- ron, who some years previously had lived among them, glorifying their language and worshipping Venice.

Perhaps the Moravian found an added beauty in David for the reason that the young fellow was a Protestant, and while respectful to the priests let them under- stand that he and his were of the Reform- ed faith. 'But Father Lavello found the boy tolerant and gentle, the more so when he informed him that he had known his mother and father, had confessed them in the days of their courtship, and blessed them at the altar of the Holy Catholic Church when they became man and wife.

" That is," said the cure, " if you are, as I make no doubt, the son of Alan and Hannah Keith, of Heart's Delight."

(To be continued on Wednesday.)