Chapter 3045406

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Chapter NumberPART IV. VI.
Chapter TitleA SURPRISE FOR HARTLEY'S ROW.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article3045406
Full Date1893-02-18
Page Number6
Corrections0
Word Count2952
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 - 1954)
Trove TitleUnder the Great Seal
article text

OUR NOVEL.

tHC»»- FERST PUBLISHED.]

UNDER THE GREAT SEAL,

A NOVEL,

BY

JOSEPH HATTON,

-Author of " CLYTIE," " BT ORDER OF THK

CBAB," " JOHN NEED^AM'S DOUBLE,"

"CBUEL LONDON," &C.

PART IV.

CHAPTER VI.

SUEPBISE FOB HARTLEY'S ROW.

Jost about the time that Harry Bark- stead was entering the library at Ormesby Hall to meet his father, the London coach drew up at the Posting House in Yarmouth.

The two most unexpected passengers wera David Keith and his father. They were unexpected af, Hartley's row for the reason that news of the loss of the "Morning Star" had «the day before ' reached Mr. Petherick, and he had con-

veyed the information to Miss Mumford, -who bad ever since been in a state border-

ing on despair. Mr. Petherick had reason 'to believe that a boat might have been launched with men who had been since pickedup, David with them.

Mildred Hope, in the spirit of her name undertook to cling hard and fast to that possible boat. She told Sally that something in her heart whispered faith in this belief. Mildred, by prayer and precept, did all she could to encourage David's best friend to think of the boy as ?till alive. But Sally remembered that she did not wish David to go : that he only went to get money for that strumpet Mira Webb; and so on;vand nothing would comfort ber; she "knew her dear lad was __. gone, he was too good for this world, and

^ao on.

It happened that the coach on this . occasion had few passengers. Alan Keith ~~ and David alighted, the latter without -- being known. David was not expected,

but he unwrapped himself and made him- self known to the landlord and engaged a porter to see after his luggage. He did not stay to introduce his father, who was enveloped in furs and comforters, a long tall, strange looking person, with grey straggling hair and bright eyes sunk deep in dark sockets.

" We will just have a little brandy, father, and then I will show you the way to Hartley's Row while I run over to GaÎ8tor and fetch Elmira, it would never do yon know if I did not go there first."

"I suppose not," said Alan, following him into the great glass bar flashing with bottles, decanters and plate, a blazing fire enveloping them in its genial glow.

^ " Two brandies hot," said David, " and "* have you a gig ?"

" Oh, yes," said the landlord, who had followed them into the bar.

" Will you put a horse into it, I want

to drive over to Caistor."

"- By the time they had drunk their

brandy the gig was at the door.

"Excuse me a minute," said David. " Gome this way, father," and he took the old man's arm and led him by a back way to Hartley's Row. " You see the house

in the corner ?"

" Yes," said Alan.

" That Sally's house ; the next one is where Mildred Hope lives. Tell them I haye gone to Caistor to fetch Elmira. Sure you'll be all right?"

"Reight," said Alan, "eh, lad, I'll be reight enough, if I dinna scare Sally oot

o' her seven senses."

David watched Alan enter the dear' familiar house in tbe corner of the Row, and then darted back to the inn and

jumped into the gig, which he drove with a beating and a joyous heart to Caistor.

The wind was blowing with a shrewd chill air across the dunes. Here and there lay the remains of a heavy snow that had for weeks been thick on the ground. ÎJhe stunted and draggled reeds in the dykes shivered by the half-frozen water. But David felt his cheek glow with warmth and delight. Everything was forgotten at the moment but the bliss in store for him. The happy days of his eeurtship seemed to pass before him in a sunny procession notwithstanding the wind and the shivering reeds, notwith- standing the grey of the ocean and the white patches of frozen snow. His ship- wreck and even his escape, the meeting with his father, his auspicious hours in Venice-he only recollected any of them for the sake of telling his story to Elmira.

When he reached the cottage he tied his horse to the garden gate and pushed his way to the front door. It was un- latched, and in he went.

«Hello I" he shouted, "dear old Zacky, there yon are !"

" Aye, there I be, that's so," said old Webb, who was sitting by the fire in the house-place, and doing nothing to all jgipearance bnt sitting there ; he was not warning himself ; he was not smoking.

" Are you glad to see me ?" said David, a trifle damped. "Why what's the matter; Where's your hand P"

" There he be, Master Keith, I knaw'd yea come."

The smacksman took David's hand in a listless way and looked up at him with a pair of sad melancholy eyes.

" What's wrong ?" said David ; "where'« Elmira?"

" Shell come hum, mek no doubt."

"Come home? Why, where is she?" "That's what I kep* assayin'." He reached out for David's hand. " I knawd you'd come. Sea do spare some on us ; spared me all these years."

Then he resumed his former listless manner and looked into the fire.

Davi#f elt his heart sink as it had sunk when he knew that the " Morning Star " was about to founder. He looked round the room, and noticed that it had lost its fermer bright and cheerful appearance. The hearth had not been swept up. The windows were not shining. The curtains were draggled. On the dresser was left the remains of the breakfast things. The flower pots on the window sill were dirty and the plants in them were withered.

"Zaccheus," said David, almost in a whisper, "what has happened? Where

is Elmira ?"

"She mought come hum to-day, and she mought stop till Sunday-it be hard to say. I reckon we mun wait."

The sole riV^f- of publication in West Aus- tralia has bec * -chased by tbe proprietors of the W?e? AUSTRALIAN.

" Is there anybody elsa here bat you ?" "We'll had some "winter, and fishin's been mortal bad, bat we wont complain ; Íetofeeoleirérght'agen when Mira comes

ome." : ?:':" ?-'?? ?'.'_? ;"

"Hy God!" exclaimed David, tremb- ling with.aúpense and fear, "whereis sh^P^What has happened. Listen, Wet^ wake np, what's the matter with you, wake up !- .

' David slapped the old man on the shoulder. He might as well have struck a post. The smacksman turned and looked at David and smiled with such unutterable sadness .that tears welled up into David's eyes and he staggered to a

seat.

"Ah, it's a mortal grief," said Zaccheus, seeming to realise for the first time David's anxiety ; " a mortal grief, better yo'ddee'd." _

" S-sh ! What is the grief ?" David asked, sobbing as he spoke ; " tell me Zacky, is she dead, Blmira, our Elmirâ ? Oh, my God, I shall go mad ?*

The old. man watched the distracted lad go to the window and look out as if he were seeking for a grave. Then he returned to where the old man sat and dragged a seat by his side.

"Zachy, dear old fellow, something awful has occurred, what is it ? Where isElmiraP"

The old man laid his hand upon David's arm and then suddenly rose up with a cry and tramped about the room in his great boots, making the place shake.

"Tell me," said David, following him,

«'tell me."

But Zaccheus simply . sat down and sighed, and laid his hand once more'upon

David's arm.

" Is there no one in the house ?" David

asked in a loud voice, and going to the staircase to repeat the question when he heard; someone moving above and his heart beat wildly, but it was only Charity Dene who came down the stairs.

" Oh, Lord, good gracious me !" she exclaimed ; " well I never, and they said yesterday, in Yarmouth, you were drowned, well, well."

"What is the matter here P" David asked.

" With the master ? this is his queer day, he's regular daft a-Saturdays, it was a-Satnrday when he come hum and found as she'd gone."

" Who'd gone ?" asked David as well as he could with a dry tongue 4hat clove

to the roof of his month.

"Why, Elmira, of course," said Charity

Dene.

" Gone where ?" asked David.

" Why, gracious me, "don't you know ali about it, should ha thowt. everybody know'd by now."

"But you see I have only just re- turned," said David, trembling as if he liad been'struck with palsy.

" Why, of course, what a fool I be for sure ; she'n been gone more'n a month, six weeks I dessay ; went off wi' young

Barkstead to London."

" Woman, what do you mean !" said David, staggering to the doorway and gripping the doorpost.

" What do I mean? Why, eloped I suppose ; they took their luggage and went by coach."

" Married ?" David asked, presently.

" Lor, not as I knows on," said Charity Dene, "but there, I mun get mester his tea, will yo stay and ha' some wi' him, it 'ud be a comfort to hiin, he is that lonely nobody takin' no notice on him, except Miss Mildred Hope as looks in once in a blue moon to sit wi' him, and once or twico have tea, but you looks very white, ain't yo well ?"

" Not very," said David, pushing past ter,.-and into the garden, "^et me thiflk," ho said, " Lord have mercy upon

me."

He sat in the seat beneath the figure head of the wrecked East Indiaman, his hand upon his heart, as if to keep it in its place. For a moment or two he felt as if he were suffocating. Suddenly, he rose up, and walked out upon the dunes and down by the sea. After awhile he felt better, and returned to the house.

" Did she go of her own free will ?" David asked, the woman answering him while she was cutting bread and butter, the tea things being already laid.

"Oh, yes."

"Did he visit her here for some time first ?"

" Constant ; he was alors a-hanging

about after her."

" Did Zaccheus know ?"

" Well, he were1 a-fishing most of the time, and when they went off together yo9 see he'd been caught in gales, and 'ad to put into somewheres or other, and was delayed, and young Squire Barkstead he were a bould wooer, that he were,!"

" Oh, curse you !" exclaimed David.

"Well, I'm sure," said Mrs. Deue, "yo'd better mend yore manners, young man, I'm thinking."

She turned about to fling this remark at her questioner, but he was gone.

CHAHTEE VII.

SUBPRISES FOB HARTLEY'S ROW.

"Beg pardon, are you Miss Mildred Hope ?" asked a tall strange man, encum- bered with a fur coat and cap, and speak- ing with a curious Scotch accent.

Alan Keith as he entered the bright particnlar corner where Sally's green shutters, white blinds, and brass knocker gave distinction to Hartley's Bow, came upon Mildred shutting her own door, and evidently about to walk over to Sally's.

He had heard so much about both wo- men and the locality of theirtwo dwellings that he could not have mistaken the trim, dainty little figure of the prison visitor.

" Yes," she said, " that is my name."

"We're weel met," replied the stranger, "I hae news o' your friend, David Keith."

" Oh, have you ?" was the quick reply, in which there was a mixture of hope and apprehension, "is it good news ?"

" Aye, I'm glad to say it is."

"Thank God !" Mildred exclaimed, with

fervour.

" Ye had ill tidings I'm thinkin' ?"

"Yes, oh yes, the news came yesterday."

"What news?"

" The loss of the « Morning Star'."

" Weel, that's true enough ; but our

David was saved."

" You don't know what a blessed mes- senger you are," said Mildred.

" Yet I dinna undervalue the tidin's I

bring; I suppose yere thinkin' o' Sally Mumford, eh ?"

" Yes," said Mildred, " but who are you, sir, may I. ask ?"

'" I'm telfe yere a God-fearin' little wo- man, a releegious lassie, one who can stand firm in joy or sorrow ?"

" I am a humble servant of Christ,"said Mildred, ° but*bnly.apoor creature."

" 1 am Alan Keith," said-the stranger,

"David's father."

" You are1 proclaiming^ miracles !" ex- claimed Mildred, startingback a pace or

two.

" Weel, I dinna ken but what yon're reight! And it seems to me it's just providential that I met you in this prom- iscuous way, for the reason that I want you just to go into that hoose wi' the brass knocker, an' acquaint Sally Mumford wi' the fact that not only is David alive, was lost and is found, but that his father is alsae in the land o' the livin', an' when she's in a condition to see me, I'll step in and assure her o' my reality."

" Yes, yes ; you are very thoughtful and David, where is he ?"

" Oh, he isna far away," said Alan, with a most grim kind of wink that was intend- ed to be humorous, " there was jest a per- son he had to see oot yonder ; but hell nae be long-an' noo, Miss Hope, gae an' prepare the way for me an' my good tid

in's."

"1 am rather bewildered," said Mildred. "You're a bonnie lassie," said Alan, " for a preachin' lassie you're just a marvel o' sweet looks and a'most sweeter voice ; besides, it's vera could ; gae in lassie, and when Sally's equal to seein' guests an' the like, come ye to the door."

Alan stood in the little court for some time noting its clean red bricks, its raddled pots filled with greenery.notwith standing the nipping frosts ,of winter. Stray beams of sunshine glinted in upon

him. Then the wind would rush round an

adjacent corner and ruffle the grey fur of his coat collar,' as if it had some busi- ness of identification on hand, and was going to carry the strange news out to

sea.

Presently Mildred in a soft dove colour- ed dress came to the door, and Alan fol- lowed her into the house.

A pinched, red-eyed old lady met him almost on the door-step, and then recoiled as he put out his hand.

" Heaven support me," she exclaimed, " how you must have suffered !"

" And ye luke as if ye'd nae had sa vera gude a time yersel' !" was Alan's calm reply.

" Oh dear, dear, your poor grey hair, and your hollow cheeks ! ~ Oh my poor, kind, abased master !" Sally went on kiss- ing his hands and weeping over them.

" My dear Sally, ye were once'as buxom and fresh as a rose ; but there, I canna tell ye hoo glad 1 am to see ye !"

" Dear master, my poor, kind, brave master," went on Sally, " and you've seen David, your son ! Merciful God, how mysterious are Thy ways !"

" Ayfe," said Alan, " Come noo, sit ye down, Sally, my lass, and I'll just tek off these owerpowering wraps that David

would load me wi' for fear I be tekkin'

cauld, the dear thoughtful lad that he

is!"

"I will return bye and bye," said Mil- dred, who felt herself in the way, and was anxious to leave Sally and her old master to unburden their memories to each other in private.

" No, my love, doant thee go ; eh, my dear master, you don't know what a com- fort she's been to me."

" Oh yes I do, David's telt me all about Miss JHope," said Alan, removing his wraps and standing forth in the quaint Oriontal garb that be had worn in Venice. He looked ten years younger now that his figure was more or less free from encum- brance ; the same hatchet face, the same strong well-shaped nose, the deep sunken eyes, the masterful if gentle expression which had attracted the artistic Venetians when first they saw him. Mildred felt awed in his presence ; he was different from any other man she had seen; he seemed to her untutored imagination like a prophet out of the Bible.

Sally could only sit down and stare at him, and sigh and wonder, until her first surprise and amazement over, she asked

for David.

The same grim effort at optical hum- our that had startled Mildred, was Alan's

response.

" But where is he P" asked Sally, " did he come with yen ?"

" Aye, he did, we came by the coach frae London."

" Yes," said Sally, "and then ?"

" Why, he bade me come on here and prepare the way for him, while he went on a little business of his ain."

The same wink, with the same ludicrous results.

Then it suddenly dawned upon Mildred that David had gone to Caistor. She glanced at Sally, who read her thoughts,

and started to her feet.

(To be continued on Wednesday.)