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Chapter NumberPART IV. XV.
Chapter TitleDAVID'S WIFE.
Chapter Url
Full Date1893-03-15
Page Number6
Word Count2359
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 - 1954)
Trove TitleUnder the Great Seal
article text







y Author of " Clytie," " Br Obdeb of thb

Czab," " John Needham's Double,"

"Cbubl London," &c.

PART iv.

CHAPTER XV. David's Wife.

After frowning upon him and pursuing him with misadventure, even unto the very valley of the shadow of death, fortune smiled upon David Keith and endowed bim with happiness without a drawback beyond the common discounts that belong to the natural state of man. She had not altogether shielded him from the penal- ties of his hereditary passion of vengeance ; bat she had brought him through the perils thereof with a far less and much briefer punishment than that which had

fallen to the lot of his father.

Moreover, David's good fortune in this respect was further secured, and guaran- tees given to Fate by his marriage with a woman who had the power and the oppor- tunity to influence him in the direction of the most perfect charity.

Mildred Hope also had her reward of a silent and self-sacrificing love in the real- isation of her most sanguine hopes. She had never dared to pray for such bliss as bad been vouchsafed her. The reader knows that her views of prayer were not ia the direction of petitions for material blessings. They were rather the register of -her own ambition to do good deeds, and to be worthy of heavenly recognition, than supplications for this and that, and blessings upon her worldly enterprises. Hoping all things good ; desiring power for the sake of others, she had inherited her unspoken desires, and saw her way to

be God s almoner.

It had been a quiet wedding at the church where Mildred as a girl had re- ceived her first impulse of religious faith and active charity. She was a very beam- ing bride, despite that touch of seriousness in her manner and attire that had appeal- ed to the worldly mind' of Mrs. Charity Dene as not incompatible with love. Sally Mumford confessed that she had no idea bow pretty Mildred really was nntil she saw her dressed for the wedding, that made Sally not the less happy than the bride herself. David had recovered his strength, and his eye was almost as bright as his father's, his lips continually parting to laugh or say something expressive of his joy. He had come to love Mildred with a full heart, and to feel in it that sense of rest, security, and serene happi- ness that could not for a single day have gone hand in hand in a onion withEImira Webb. Alan Keith was at the wedding, erect, clean-shaven, bony and wrinkled as ever, but with the deep-set eyes, long thin hands, prominent nose, and broad wrinkled forehead, that characterised his appearance in Hartley's Row. Instead of tile rough flannel collar that usually fell about his throat, tied with a silk scarf of some odd colour, Sally Mumford had in- duced him to put on a white linen shirt and a light blue stock with a gold pin in it. Nothing would induce him, how- ever, to change his gaberdinish coat and bis carious vest, bat the bnckles in his shoes had been polished, and they were nearly as white as Mildred Hope's teeth, which flashed now and then between her red lips. Sally was dressed in a grey silk gown with a pretty old-fashioned pelisse, and her grey hair was gathered in clusters .fenris on each temple. Mr. Petherick gave the bride away, and Mr. Margrave, the trustee under Plympton's will, was

one of the witnesses.

Margrave had waited at St. John's until the news of the loss of the Morning Star had left him nothing else to do bat return home ; and now, after the wedding, Mr. Alan Keith had been able to give him sucK a fee, with contingent promise of anoéher, as induced him to accompany the party on the wedding tour. The trip was to St. John's, this time from the London docks, and by steam. The voyage had been delighful, and they reached St. John's with the first warm snnbeams of

an early summer. I

They had been able to rent a furnished house belonging to one of the principal residents, who had been tempted to take a holiday in Europe on the strength of Mr. Margrave's proposals for the house, which the astute London lawyer had made through the agent with whom he had long been in communication in regard to David Plympton's bequests. These testamentary gifts were chiefly in favour of David Keith, the property including certain wild and araste lands along the coast of Labra- dor'and extending for-some distance in- land above Demon's Rock.

Soon after the party landed, therefore, Mildred found herself mistress of what was considered a very fine house for St. John's, with her father-in-law, Alan Keith, Sally Mumford, and Mr. Margrave as visitors. She proved quite equal in every way to her new duties, and Sally never tired of praising her and congratu- lating David on his clever and pretty wife. The only anxious time the two women experienced were dnring the weeks when David and Alan were away on their excursions to Wilderness Greek. There was no real canse for anxiety, and their fears were brief; they only belonged to the honrs or days when the voyagers did »ot return very close to the time appoint- ed; but David and Alan could ont count npon the moment they might sail through the natural gateway of St. John's with their mysterious cargoes.

Everything had happened fairly for the Labrador treasure collectors. Mr. Mar- grave proved himself a useful ally in the disposal of the valuables. He made a journey to New York with bullion and precious stones, and paid a very large sum to David Keith's account through New X"ork into the Bank of England, be- sides making deposits in David's same, for which he brought back scrip in three -.£ the.leading banks of the United States.

The deposit which Alan made in the friendly oasis above Demon Rock he paid without fear or reservation into the bank at St. John's. Whatever he might feel as

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to certain of the treasures of Wilderness Creek, at least the hoard he had buried away in a secret corner only known to himself was without taint. It consisted of the fund made over to him by his father-in-law, and in part of his own hard earned savings, when it had been settled that he and Preedie should go to Salem or Boston and buy a ship to fight against the buccaneering Ristack. The bank manager was only too glad to welcome to St. John's the heirs of David Plympton, father and son, and Alan announced his own and his son's intentions of promoting enterprises both commercial and charit- able bearing npon the welfare of the colony. The bright-eyed old man even spoke of a railroad from St. John's to the nearest neighbouring settlements, and made various other wild suggestions that were quite in keeping with his strange foreign appearance. The first contract upon which he entered was preliminary to the erection of the fine memorials which now mark the locality of the last resting places, firstly of Haunah Keith, and secondly of the Newfoundland dog Samp- son. TJie broken column with its guard- ian angel that marks the grave of the belle of the vanished Heart's DelighLand the monolith with its sculptured imad of a dog that stands in the shadow of a group of tamaracks and other forest trees, are features of Back-Bay Valley, sacred to memories that already belong to tradition

and romance.

The new Heart's Content interested Alan Keith only in a negative way. It did not even suggest the village of Heart's Delight upon the ashes of which it was built. There Was no trace of the G^eat House. The fishflakes were all new. The stakes np against which the well-dressed bodies of Ristack and Ruddock had floated, grim tributes to the rough justice of a great revenge, had disappeared. The houses were mostly of brick and stone. The"quay was a firm and solid piece of workmanship. There were gardens, but the arbour of the Great House had been burnt np in the general conflagration and clearing which had been undertaken under the authority of the Great Seal of Eng- land. AU was changed indeed. The in- habitants had little or no record of the past. The people whom Alan had known were mostly dispersed. Even to this day Heart's Content has little or no record of the village upon the ashes of which it was built. The oldest inhabitant had his stories of the days of the fishing admirals and of the war with America, but he was garrulous, often forgot names and dates and so varied his stories that they had come to be regarded as fables. The grave in Back Bay Valley, and the legend of the dog let into the tamarack had held their place in such romance as the district provided, and the valley had become a pic-nic ground once in a way during autumn days when the fishing was over, for family parties and the school, which was the principal institution' of the new town. Alan had felt a deep sense of gratitude to Heart's Content on this account, and he gave practical expression to it in establishing the foundation of the schools and church beyond the possi- bility of future want.

If Heart's Content disappointed Alan by its absence of familiar landmarks, it was nevertheless the kind of fishing village and harbour that he and Plympton had thought of as possible at some future day. Plympton, as we all know, was far less sanguine than Alan, who was imbued with a pathetic sense of the destiny of the oldest British colony. Ungrateful step* mother as the old country undoubtedly was, Alan, with the keen-sighted vision of a shrewd and enterprising Scotchman, gauged the destiny of a territory that was bound to pass through the darkness in which he found it into the light of com- mercial prosperity, if not Imperial dis- tinction. Alan's hopes and prophecies have been fulfilled, bat the height to which his forecast pointed discloses other heights which have to be climbed in the confirmation of Newfoundland's rights and privileges, and in fulfilment of the duty the mother country still owes to hei1 oldest and nearest colony.

In their operations at Wilderness Creek, David and Alan had concluded that it would be well to concentrate their attention npon the cemetery and leave the upper regions of the territory for their final labours. Not a soul appeared in the region of Nasqnappe to disturb them. A conplo of eagles evidently had their home on a distant cliff seawards. They would sail now and then in a wide circle over the harbour and disappear behind the lower ranges of the hills ; at night mys- terious wings would swish by them as they carried their last loads to the smack -bats or owls or both; but no human

voice was heard, no human footprint except their own marked the sandy shore of the secret harbour. At sea beyond the shelter of Wilderness Creek and far away from the dreaded rocks and shoals, fishing ships rode at anchor or trailed their nets ; otherwise the two men were as mach alone and as safe from interruption as the men of the St. Dennis had been with their added protection of look-onts and sentinels. The light of the furnace which had during the favourable and lovely summer converted thousands of Spanish and English dollars and guineas into solid ingots and had obliterated the identity of many an antique vessel, cast a lurid light npon the foothills of the en- trance to the cavern, and startled snch winged life as had been hitherto unac- customed to any of the disturbing evidences of man's ingenuity. David and Alan laboured away with steady persist- ence. They had soon become acenstomed to their wealth. David had long ceased to utter exclamations over every new find ; but at night on board the smack before turning in, father and son had built all kinds of castles in the air, castles tbat even their cargoes of treasures were not sufficient to encompass; and now and then David would draw from his father fresh details of his adventures, and the father from David hitherto unrelated in- cidents of his first voyage and wreck. Narratives of his early days in Venice would crop up in all Alan's stories ; they caine as his chief relief to the horrors of ¡.is slavery and imprisonment. Then he would go back to Heart's Delight and picture to David the winter nights with his grandfather and his mother and Father Lavello in the family circle. Con- sidering the changes that had taken place in the colony, the settled peace at home, the conntries covered in his father's record, his own boyhood, and the very re- mote times that Sally Mumford had spoken of, the similies connected with the Wandering Jew which Alan used now and then seemed quite appropriate, and

David found himself searching^ his mem- ory for other parallels of, his father's strange and long career. Alan told his son that when he reached his age he would find that looking back over half a century was no more than the yesterday of youth lui retrospection. What made the time appear a little longer than time was, to persons who remained in one spot all their lives, were the many landmarks of varied events in diffèrent places; but even these at the last came very close to- gether, and life, after all, was just no more and no less than Job described it, " We are but of yesterday and know nothing, because our days upon earth are

a shadow."

[To be concluded on Saturday.]