Chapter 3044796

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Chapter NumberPART III. VI.
Chapter TitleTHE BLISS OF LOOKING FORWARD.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article3044796
Full Date1893-02-01
Page Number6
Corrections0
Word Count2990
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 - 1954)
Trove TitleUnder the Great Seal
article text

OUR NOVEL.

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[NOW FIRST PUBLISHED.]

UNDER THE GREAT SEAL,

A. NOVEL,

BY

JOSEPH HATTON,

Author of "CLYTIE," "BY OBDEB OF THB

CZAB," " JOHN NEEDHAM'B DOUBLE,"

" CBUBL LONDON," AC.

PART III.

CHAPTER VI.

THE BLISS OF LOOKING FOÄWABD.

A strange night for David.

His father lay in an alcove of the great salon which was his share of the palace since he had come into money. For hoars David sat by his side and watched.

The old man slept peacefully. His breathing was regular. He did not stir. There were not observable even the twitchings and movements that are seen ¡u a dog's sleep. David sometimes won- dered if he would wake again.

As morning began to creep in through the dusty windows, David wrapped him- self np in his coat and a rug and lay down. He had not been asleep as it seemed to him bat a few minutes when he was disturbed by the gondolier who had brought in his father's roll and coffee, with an extra supply for David. The truth is the boy had only been asleep an hour. It was eight o'clock.

"I knew Terese had made up a bed for yon signor," said the gondolier, "but I did not know you made the night of it as you say in the English ; I disturb you too early, eh P"

" No, thank you," said David, " I shall be glad of the coffee."

"Si, signor, but the master the illas trissimo, he still sleeps; ah then you sit np very late it is a festival when son meet

father."

Alan Keith slept on. His long arms lay outside the coverlet; his face was serene ; neither David nor the attendant .aid so,but they both thought it was beauti- ful. The gondolier found it like one of the fine momuments in the church of San Marco. He made a remark to that effect to his wife during the day. David looked at the recumbent figure and was afraid. But while ke gazed his father awoke.

" It's a' true," he said stretching his right arm towards David, " all true. Gie me your hand, my son. How have yon slept?"

"Not too well," said David, "but I don't mind that; I'll sleep to-night; yon haye slept father, the sleep of the just, the sleep of tlie blessed. I have never seen anything like it."

" Nor have I ever felt so refreshed on awakenm', David ; lad, it's tho first real rest I baa had sae lang as I can remember ; the sleep o' a tired, contented man, dreamless as the dead; I was woru-out lad, dog-tired, and I just feel a new man. - I'm afeared I scared ye ; I was just a

wee bit scared mysel' ; but it was nature giving out, weary for a rest after years and years o' waitin', wi' a secret that was b'urnin' into the very life o' me, wi' a lciagin' beyond a' imagination. David, we'll celebrate the day."

The sun came ont bravely. For an hour op two it was almost summer.

Alan talked of Venice, and showed it to his son with an air of ownership.

They breakfasted at a café in the Square of St. Mark's more luxuriously than David had ever breakfasted before ; they drank their wine and watched the busy throng, and listened to the Austrian

band.

É Many persons sainted the picturesque .Id man and smiled upon him with a sort of pitying admiration. The mad English- man had become almost an institution of the city, more especially since his ship had come in, as Father Lavello had described the opening of his banking

ateaunt.

Without understanding a word they said, David could gather that the Vene- tians looked upon his father very much in the way he had been more than once in- clined to regard him, as a kindly dreamer,

one whose troubles and disasters had turned his head and with a Divine charity in the direction of a fortune of buried treasure ; and yet his father had been so explicit and so clear in his account, so definite in his chart and plans, and his - 8tory_filled up 'so much of what had

hitherto been blank to David that he only doubted for a moment while he believed for hours and days ; and now he began to feel anxious in the direction of (Jaistor; anxious to be gone even from this Para- dise of the Sea, to tell Elmira of his great fortune anti, to make arrangements for a siege of the rocky coast of Labrador. That, of course, was not to be thought of until the first days of summer should begin to loosen the icy bonds of tho coast Mad make navigation possible ia its most

difficult waters.

" This is my son," Alan would say now and then in his queer Italian to acquaint- ances and others who paused to bid him good day. They would smile and wish him well ; but one or two had heard the story of the wreck and the landing of the young English sailor. These stopped to talk and chatter and shake the lad's hand.

'* He will be rich," said Alan to a friend of the absent Lavello, " I ain to fit oot a ship for him i' Vonice, a barque as tight and trim as the hand o' man can make it."

Nobody took Alan seriously, but he took their nods and smiles for friendli- ness and g cd îeighbonrsliip; and so all

was \u."

" Let us go in and thank God I" said Alan, after David had feasted his eyes on the gold-fronted glories of St. Mark's. They entered with others while the choir was fiUÎDg the strangely beautiful temple with music that was divine. David passed the holy water buc knelt by his father's side and lus heart beat devoutly, he wept silently, thanked God for his preservation and prayed for the blessing of His protecting hand on the ocean paths that still lay before lum.

From St. Mark's tiiey wandered about the city, following its nari o w paths, loitering in its little squares, tarrying at its shop windows and basking in the rays of the welcome winter san that shoue upon the Beau Rivage, whence they took a gondola and floated by the palaces of the Grand canal, coming to aa auchor foi

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dinner at the little café by the Rialto, where the Turkish guardian of the ancient palace was solemnly refreshing himself. They talked, these two, Alan and the Turk, without understanding mach that either of them said; and after dinner Alan incited the other frequenters of the place to join him in a flagon of Chianti. Later, when the sun having disappeared, and the moon had taken up the marvellous story of the day and night, David and his

father walked home to their chilly room, I

where Terese had done all she knew ti make it comfortable. The lamps and candles were lighted, and before.they were well sat down in their rugs and cashions she entered with black coffee and cognac.

Father and son lighted their pipes, and then it was that David unfolded to his father those experiences, engagements, and desires that were nearest to his heart. First he told him of Zacchens Webb and his smack, the Flying Scud, not forgetting his cottage aud fish warehouse at Tar mouth. It did not occur to either of them that the very name of Yarmouth sounded curiously prosaic, and ont of place in the Turkish palace on the Grand

Ganai at Venice.

While David spoke of the cottage at Gaistor, and the creek where Zaccheus hauled up his dingey, and other fishermen dragged «shore their yawls, he saw ia imagination the sun shining upon it, the trackless dunes, the blue sea, and the garden full of flowers, more particularly the seat with its figure head aud its holly- hocks, with Elraira in every picture. Alan sat and smoked, and sipped his coffee, and offered by way of comment encouraging little monosyllables, and watched the glowing face of the lad as the boy's love brought the blushes to his cheeks.

"I see it a'," said Alan presently; " dinna ye waste your breath, laddie, aud there's nae need for ye to blush ; she's your sweetheart, Ejmira Webb; a gude lassie, the daughter of a gudo father. The sea meka brave gude men, David, and honest, wholesome wenehes. I'll back your own heart to hae selected wael, and ye hae my consent reight off, and God bless ye baith !"

Alan reached ont his long arm, took David's hand, and pressed it with a long, fond grip. »

"There's naught ennobles a maa su much as a true and honest lo?e. David,1 we'll mek a queen o' herl She shall deck hersel' in the finest jewels that the St. Dennis won f rae timid hearts to hand over to British bulldogs; ye'll see, lad! David, I seem to hae renewed mr youth sin' last neight. I ken a' ye feel this minute ; ye are like tho psalmist sighin* for wings ; and ve shall Jue them, lad. There's a fine, well-found ship i' port-an East Indiaman bound for London. We'll sail together, and ye shall tell your lassie, ' This is my father,' and I'll talk wi' the man. Zaccheus Webb, aboot them en that gae doon to the sea in ships. And may ' hap it might be best to fit oot out barque

for Newfoundlond at Bristol or Ply mouth ; and we oould then tek a trip to Dartmouth and sue the country where your grandfather's folk hailed free. Nay, on second thoughts, that will be a good country to steer clear frae les* we We detained wi' discoveries o' the cursed brood o' Bfistack and the rest. I'm gaein' to be wise and discreet, with tho wisdom o' the serpent, as puir and Doolan used to say ; I'm just a man o' peace, David ; a man wi' a vast stake i the country oot yonder."

David with a passing thought of how Yarmouth and Gaister would open their eyes at his tall and bony father with his deep-set eyes, his Jong thin hands, his strange galt and manner, and his curious dress, was, however, nothing loth to have his companionship across the sea. He felt sure that Elmira would forgive his foreign and ancient looks when she knew that he was rich; though the secret of Wilderness Greek was nee to sfcned by

mortal soul outside father and so«.

And so the youthful and only survivor of the peaceful Morning Star ; and the old and only survivor of the fighting brigantina St. Dennis, sailed from the quay at Venice out into the Adriatic, bound for the London docks. No shadow of the impending heart ache and trouble that waited David on his return to the scene of his looked-for happiness fell upon his homeward journey. It followed the ' blessed dispensation of Providence that David should have no foreknowledge of the evils that awaited him, while on the back-going track of Alan, his father, the flowers of forgetfulness and consola- tion were blossoming freely and shedding sweet and unlooked-for perfumes.

PART IV.

CHAPTER I.

THE RAKE'S PJSOOBBSS.

"Mrs. Lonford-West at herne?" said Mr. Harry Barkstead, dismounting from his horse at the hall door of Filby House, a rambling two-storey mansion surrounded with gardens in which close-clipped lawns and ornamental yews were quaint and restfnl features of the place.

" Yes, sir," said a smart footman with the servile courtesy of a town servant.

"Dobbs, pat np my horse for an hour ; give him some oats,"said Harry; address- ing Mrs. Longford-Wost's head groom, who was passing in the direction of the

stables.

"Yes, sir," said Dobbs, taking charge of a chestnut that was just beginning to show the effects of a hard gallop, his neck wet, his mouth white with foam.

" A word with you Mr. Barkstead," said Mrs. Cooper, the housekeeper who appear- ed on the scene as the hall door closed. " This way please."

Harry followed Mrs. Cooper, beating his leather breeches just a little impa- tiently, and she led him into her own room ia tho kitchen wing of the house. Here she turned on him a face paled with anger.

" What is it, Mrs. Cooper P" said Harry. " Stop your visits to the lodge, and put ?o more of your verses into the alder tree by the ten acre meadow, dy'e hear ?"

" Does Jessie objeoé to ay visits and my verses ?"

" I object to them."

" But, I don't go to the lodge to see you nor do you inspire my verses, Mrs. Cooper,"

" No but if you go to the lodge again to see Jessie you'll see me," said Mrs. Cooper, her lips white with passion her hands trembling.

" Shall I ? Then I won't go again Mrs. Cooper."

"God knows if the mischief is not aheady done," was the reply ; if it is look to it, Mr. Barkstead. If the girl is but an orphan, she is not without friends."

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" I hope not," said Harry.

" And Norfolk's not withoat law either, for that matter, and Jutice Barkstead, though he's your father, will hardly see even his son bring ruin npon the helpless and innocent, though if the report -does not wrong yon, there's maay a girl as conld acense yon/'

Having mastered her first emotion, Mrs. Cooper found her words come freely, and the more she said tho more she felt she had to say.

"Indeed," said Harry; "did Mrs. Longford-West know tnat you were go- ing to hononr me with these pleasant

remarks ?"

"No, sir, but I dare say she knows yon well enough not to trust you any further she can see you. She can take care of

herself."

" Oh, you think so," said Harry, " shall I tell her whai yon say ? Is the position of housekeeper at Filby House so poor a place that you can afford to throw it away ? Or have you feathered your nest so well that are thinking of retiring with some happy man into a snug little tavern ' good

accomodation for man and beast?' "

" I can afford everything, Mr. Henry Barkstead, but to see my motherless niece go to the bad without au effort to save

her."

As she spoke she drew a necklace from ker pocket and flung it at his feet.

" Aud there's the bauble you gave her. Take it and put it round tho neck of some other softie who is fool enough to liston to your honeyed lies and promises."

" "Very well, since you wish it," said Harry, fishing it from the floor with his riding whip.

"Ah, I don't doubt ye," said Mrs. Cooper, opening the door ia reply to Mrs. Longford-West's bell. "Good morning, Squire Barkstead, tbe mistress is waiting1 to receive you."

" Look here, Mrs. Cooper," said Harry, "I look over your rudeness, firstly, because you are in arger, and secondly, for the sake of your pretty little niece. Good evening."

As he closed the 'floor Mrs. Cooper flung herself into a chaîr sue! burst into

tears.

Mrs. Longford-West was a rich widow. She had been twice married, and seandal said she ought really to have been thrice a widow» though she was only five-and thirty, and did not look her age within some years. Blonde, buxom, ample of bust and figure, just tall enough to be dumpy, she was the picture of health, and had a free and hearty manner that made men happy and at hume, ana most of "her lady visitors ill at ease, not to say uncom-

fortable.

She brought from htirrkpuse and society in town the unrestrained manners of its loosest social Circles, and enjoyed the confusion they created among the stranger guests who called upon her for the first time. Nevertheless she managed to make herself popular in the county. She gave freely to everything and to everybody : to the Church, the races, subscribed liberally to the hunt, patronised public in- stitutions in a generous way ; and so man- aged to keep on visiting terms, if not with all the best families, at least with such of them as were most before the public*

Sir Anthony Barkstead was her nearest neighbour, ama she made a great point of conciliating his prejudices and opinions as far as alfie was able ; for, truth to tell, she apd his gallant and highly educated son and heir were en the very best of neighbourly terms; indeed, there were those who thought it even possible that Mrs. Longford- West if anything hap- pened to old Sir Anthony, might live to be Lady Barkstead. They did not know Harry, who allowed themselves to specu- late so far ahead in regard to the future of Ifrs. Longford-West.

[To be continued on Saturday.']