Chapter 3044673

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Chapter NumberPART III. V.
Chapter Url
Full Date1893-01-28
Page Number6
Word Count2828
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 - 1954)
Trove TitleUnder the Great Seal
article text






Author of "Clytie," "Br Order op the

C*a_," " John Needham's Double,"

'¦** Cruel London," &o.



"Always To-mobrotv."

lt was with closed doors and in secret that Alan Keith had confided to his son, David, the mysteries of Wilderness Greek.

The gondolier Atilio and his wife Terese were abed. Father Lavello had gone home to his snug quarter at Verona.

David had been allotted a corner of his

father's spacious apartment. Terese had made' np a snug bed for him, with a curtain round it. The Turkish custodian was dreaming on his couch in a niche of his own .-private apartment overlooking the quadrangle.

Alan and David were keeping them- selves warm with wine and tobacco.' Winter is of such short duration in Venice

that a fire jg a luxury but little known. THe Gorman stove and the open grate are innovations of the present day. Furs, onshions, wraps, and among the old and poor the Scatdini, were almost the only protection against the cold. David and Alan sat with their feet upon a couple of large: cushions that neutralised the chill of the marble floor. Wise people who feared the cold were in bed, or huddled together in some cafe where animal heat, a few lamps, and the absence of-ventila- tion kept the topers warm.

Handsome even in decay was the spac- ious room where David listened with awe and yfbnder to such parts of his father's story as Alan though well to narrate.

Twa or three sconces on the wall with long wicked candles flickered upon the frescoed 'panels and deepened the shadows of recesses and cupboards. There were no lights in the old bronze chandelier that swung from the painted ceiling, but the table held an oil lamp, a tall flagon of wine, pen, ink and paper, a Dutch tobacco boc of embossed silver, which the Turk had lent his lodger-guest, one or two Nuremberg glasses, a glass flask of Chianti and other things in artistic disorder.

Alan sat facing his son, who found it a special comfort to smoke. It soothed his - nerves and helped him to keep his count*

enance and hold his tongue. More than

once he had come to the conclusion that - his father was mad; all through his inter-

course with him he was^fascinated by the old man's masterful arid remarkable per- sonality.

'?¦¦¦" I question if I hae been slrectly reight

in <keepin' a' this back in confession," said Alan, " but I am nae reightly a true Catholic, havin' been brought up i' the Protestant faith, sae 1 mun get Father Lavello's forgiveness on that account; he's a generous priest, and besides we'll gie the church somethin' to mek absolu- tion easy."

" There's no effectual confession that is not made to our Father which art in heaven," eaid David,quoting unconsciously from Mildred Hope, " and no person be- tween the sinner and his God can help him except the interceder, Christ our , Lord."

" Ye've ta'en to religion then, David ?" said his father, interrogatively, while filling his long quaint pipe from the Turk's silver tobacco jar.

"I don't profess much in that way," said David, "but Miss Mumford has a friend who talks religion to us, and my rescue from the sea has made me feel that her prayers and God's goodness may be the reason why I am sitting here at this


" Aye lad, you're reight, and what a mercy it ls! We needda mek a theologi- cal discussion o' that, David; as for sects and denomenations arid the like, your mither belonged to that other church, sae I took up wi' it because she was mair to me, David, than a' the churches on airth. And the last I ken o' her when she waur

happiest, she was just pressin' yon to her breast. It's a lang time to luko forward from your age to mine, but to luke back, weel they say truly when they say life's just a span. Man, it's nae mair than a day to lake back upon, a butterfly's day, a bit o' sun, and then storm and stress, old age and death. The sun is for you, David. And by the might o' bonnie Scotland, ye shall hae it. Your path shall be >.. paved wi' goud, and grouted an wi' precious stones. It shall, my laddie, it shall!"

Alan laid down his pipe and paced the room. The tapes tried portiere stirred as if with the action, but it was the wind ' that had crept through crevice and door-

way to moan and tell of the chills without.

" Wad to heaven," the old man went ou, "ye might find some o' the brood o' Ristack and Ruddock and Bentz to get your hand on their throats, to trample on them, to tear them down, them and their household gods and?Nae but I maun forget a' that. I hae had my revenge ; the Lord delivered my enemies into my hands, and I smote 'ero, hip and thigh."

. The remembrance of the " Anne of

Dartmouth" ignited long slumbering

fires. Alan laughed a wild laugh that {ti .stirred the sleep of the Turk in his ;njattrcssed niche. He uttered a prayer to Alan and went off again into dreams and forgetfulness.

" Down ye imp of hell! Aye but I made ye lick the dust! And your Rear Admiral, how he crackled and splattered in the fire! But God a' mercy on me! I had repented o' a' that; aud the gude priest had granted

rae absolution and rest!"

He paused, looked round, saw David, who was watching him, fearing he had gone mad.

" Forgive me, David, my son, I am nae uiysei' once now and again, and it's hard to realise that ye can be here by my side; nae dinna think I'm daft. Eh,"but I hae suffered sae, it wouldna be surpiisin' if I were; it's just wonderfu' I'm as rational as I am."

He sat down by the stove, took up his pipe, and laid his right hand uponDavid's


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^It'sovef laddie, it was just a fit o' keen remembtance, it's over, I fintHt hard to be sure I am dreamin' a* the time; your saintly mither sat by me i* the dungeon as yo are sitting now and?but there she was iast a spirit, I never touched her hand as

'. touch yours, and naebody else saw her, only me, David, only me!

David took his father's hand, remark- ing, " I am flesh and blood father; there's no mistake about me; but I can under- stand your fancying strange things ; I do myself; I wake in the night shivering in that boat at sea, with poor old Matt Wright, of the Welsh Back, signalling imaginary sails. Take another cup of wine, father, and let me give you a light."

. David passed the flagon of Chianti, and lighted a spill at the smouldering fire,and Alan smiling drew a long breath, and sent the blue wreaths of amok? up into tho shadows of the painted ceiling.

"That's a' reight! Noo, David, look at this; it is a bit -of the map of North America, showing the coast of Newfound- land to Labrador; I tore it from a chart I bought in the Square a week or two


He laid upon the table a strip of paper, and held over it a small hand lamp that might have lighted an ancient doge to read his missal, sq quaint* and old was it, and yet so fitting to the bony hand of Alan Keith, so mach in keeping was it with his glittering eyas, his long face, and his picturesque robes.

"The names are in Italian, but I hao marked the points in English, sae that in case we are not destined to complete our voyage together, ye may find your way alone. Here, ye see, is St. John's,?this, by the way, is Halifax?from St. John's ye ken running North here is the coast line; here is Heart's Delight."

He paused as his long forefinger rested at the point he had especially marked.and heaved a sigh that almost brought the tears to David Veyes.

" At the back! of Heart's DeMgW went on the old man, reseating himself, putting the lamp on the table, David standing by his side, " is Heart's Content or was; and there, beneath the tamarack, lie your sainted mither and our oud dog Samson, who though he was just as strong and capable as I was, but he kenned nought aboot the overwhelmin'numbers and tho the knife that awaited him; I'll show ye the spot, please God;. but I maunna waste time wi' these things, the mair so that they tear at my heart and disable my mind. The past is dead sae far that we We canna bring it back, the future is for the young, it is for you David. Noo follow my finger; ye see a' this stretch o' coast; fer miles it might be just a vast sea-wall bnilt by God Himself, with soeakin' rocks rnnnin' out into the open that the deil might hae planted to trap the unwary mariners. And sae ye see it goes, broken now and then by gaps, and then risin'- again into lofty~capes- with their extremities seawards to mark the great bays, Conception, Trinity, Bonavista, and Notre Dame. We cross them, d'ye see, and come to tko Northern headland; ye'll mind the scenery here the longest day ye live, rocks o' every imaginable shape, jag- ged, pointed, tall, short, wi' mighty

precipices; this point I hae marked strong is Cape Bauld, the northern point o' Quir pon, four degrees north o' St. John's. When the sun has loosened the icy cables that hold them, the icebergs o' the frozen north come sailing down here through the

Straits o' Bell Isle. That's Bell Isle d'ye mark, barren, desolate, the caud air air filled they say wi' cries o' demons and fiends, wi' deevils rampant and the like; but that's an aud wife's tale; there are hae demons sae wicked and hellish as man; I hae stood on the wild shores o'. Belle Isle i' the neigh fc, and heard nought but the wind and the breakers, wi' once and again the cries o' neigkt birds and wild animals.


The pioneer of Labrador looked round the room and laid a hand upon David's


" Ssh! Ye see the point here, larboard o' the Isle? Ye do! Weel, that's Nas quappe Point; You see the spots and scratches rnnnin' from it seawards. Weel, that is the course to Wilderness Creek? the impossible conrse to all but you and me, David. Ye see the promontory that rises to the east of Nasquappe, that's Demon's Heck, the guardian o' our secret


He took from a deep pocket beneath his gindie another scrap of paper which he opened _dd laid before his son.

" This is a sailing chart, it shows you the course, from deep water off -Nas quappe, into the creek, every bit o' rock, every bit channel marked to a dead cer- tainty, no sailin' master could gae wrang wi' it, and an ordinary sailor could work a fishin' smack Into the inner harbour without sae much as a foul o' the slightest consequence. Noo, David, tek these papers, and just one ither."

He folded the papers and gave them to

his sou.

" The ither one is hardly necessary, but landmarks are landmarks, and it's weel to be safe; this other bit shows you a spot between the outlet of Demon's Cave and a dearin'; not a dearin' by the hand o' man, but a dearin' o' God's own wi'

flowers and fruits i' the- summer, and' when we find'it I mek nae doubt ther'll be the remains o' a habitation. Ye see on this paper I hae marked distance from landmark to landmark, rock to rock, tree to tree, just as in the ithers I hae set down the latitude and longitude to the finest point and proper tokens of distance in the matter of the sailing course, heights o' rocks, and something in the matter o' depths o' water and so on. And now ye are thinkin' what a' this is to lead to. Oh the eastern shore o' the inner harbour o' Wilderness Creek at the foot o' Demon's Bock, there are several graves, marked wi' memorials o' such Christian burial as could be vouchsafed at

time. Wilderness Creek was my. anchor- age whenl-was feign tin'the enemy, when I had joined our brithers of America against their persecutors and mine?aye, and yours, David; persecutors who were the death o' your mither, persecutors who trod ont the life o' hearths and hames that should hae been sacred to a'that men houd dear! But I must nae dwell on that. In the midst o'the graves that I tell ye of, there are' three cairns. They cover three casks o' goud, precious stones, silks, textiles/ and ither treasures, and there is one ither, making four, that covers a more miscellaneous store, spices, perfumes, God knows what. And at a point marked on the third bit o' paper, on the heights above, at the north of a jutting rock, a mighty boulder, near a clump of firs, ye'll find two bags o' guineas, some scrip, a bundle o' Bank of England notes, and sundry like securities,


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all properly'testified, moneys o' your grandfather's and mine, and this ye will keep exclusively 4br a memorial for your mither on the spot where she is buried,, and the rest ye'll invest for your wife and bairns, if over ye should be blessed 1'that way. I hae a kind o' sentiment about this money; as for the casks among the graves at tho foot o' Demon's Rrocfc, I hae only one condition; gie Heart's Delight a school or church in honour o' Father Lavello; the rest, spend it as ye will; be happy, mek the name of Keith famous ; let it be known honourably at Heart's Delight, mek it feared at St. John's, be generous, be happy, and I will no burden ye wi'a word or thoucht o'vengeance; indeed, I hae no advice to offer ye, no counsel; leanna offer ye my ain life as an example, mair humility, less pride, nae thoucbis o' vengeance would be Lavello's wish, and he is a good, honest, truly reli- gious man, praqtises his preachin', and?"

Here Alan paused, and fell gently back in his chair, tho pipe which he had held in his right hand dropped from his fingers.

" What is it, father?" David exclaimed. Alan smiled but did not speak.

David took his hand and chafed it. Alan's lips moved. David looked into the cupboard wher? Alan kept his wine in the hope of finding some brandy. He found a flask of spirits, and poured a little into a glass which he tasted; it was liquor. Just aa he was, about to press the glass to his father's .lips the old man heaved a deep sigh and moved his hands. "Don't be af cared," he whispered, "I wus overwrought, I am nae gae young as I was."

; "Thank God you are better," said David, " let me lead you to bed, it must be msrning."

"Aye, it is," said Alan, still very softly, "itsfive o' the dock. Ye'll find the brandy in a square bottle that looks liko Genva, it's down by the right on the floor."

David started for the square black bottle and found it. Alan had risen to his feet steadying himself by the back of

his chair.

"I'm an and man. David," he said, still weakly and in measured terms. " But I havft^oud ye a' that's necessary, and to- morrow we'll lay our plans,"

He took from David's hand a glass of cognac, drained it, sighed, and' smiling

moved from the chair.

" I'm a' reight, David, just a bit weak, I tek it as a warning my mission's aboot at aa end, God has been ower gude to me to bring ye here towards the clase; aye laddie, I'll gang to bed; to-morrow we'll tek counsel aboot the sailin'; to-morrow! D'ye nae ken i'this wee bit life, David that .it's a'ways to-morrow, the gude we hope for, the. blessings we pray for? always to-morrow!"

(To le continued, on Wednesday.)