|Chapter Title||INSTRUCTIVE AND ENTERTAINING.|
|Newspaper Title||Launceston Examiner (Tas. : 1842 - 1899)|
|Trove Title||The Maxwells of Bremgarten|
THE MAXWELLS OF BREMGARTEN. A STORY OF TASMANIA. [Founded on Facts.] (ALL RIGHTS RESERVED) (Continued from last Saturday's issue.) CHAPTER IV. INSTRUCTIVE AND ENTERTAINING. Guided by the sound of music, for which he always possessed a willing ear, Maxwell entered the drawing-room situated at one end of the building and connected by a long passage with an abrupt turn or two in it with the one he had just left. This apart- ment was furnished with the greatest care, and wore an aspect of elegance conferred on it by feminine taste and ability. The furni- ture was light but of exquisite workmanship and costly materials. It was refreshing to Maxwell to sit down upon a sofa and find himself gradually settling within a few in- ches of the floor, so soft was the luxurious cushion; and the more so as he had been only just released from his confined cabin on shipboard after an incarceration of seven months. Here in pleasant langour he sat for awhile, his eyes wandering from picture to picture on the walls; from the rich orna- ments of the mantelpiece to the table covered with handsomely bound books, and to the attractive carpet under his feet. " A happy man I shall be," said he to himself, "if at fifty years of ago I can call a room like this my own, and sit listening to my daughter's music." It was not his daughter, however, who sat at the pianoforte but Miss Arnott, already introduced to the reader by the euphonious name of Isabel. She played a lively air, ever and anon turning her graceful head, clothed with a flowing profusion of coal black ringlets, to smile upon Griselda, who sat a little behind but near her, and ex- change some little particles of innocent chat. The marked contrast between the complexions and apparent dispositions of these two young ladies could not fail to strike any cursory observer. The one fair almost to a fault, and timid as a young antelope upon its native precipice; the other dark in an equal pro- portion, with eyes so penetrating that one could not hope to escape their piercing lustre. And yet there seemed to be already a grow- ing sympathy between them--a sympathy, as it were, between dark night and sunny day-- the result perhaps of some secret desire fre- quently implanted in the human breast, which leads many of us to admire in others those qualities in which we find ourselves deficient. Eugene and Charles were seated near the table looking over amusing books, while the absence of Mrs. Arnott, Mrs. Max- well, and Henry told plainly that they had not risen from their respective siestas. Maxwell was absorbed in thought, to which the music rising and falling rapidly upon his ear lent a most singular charm. A delightful vision of future independence, if not wealth, and the consummation of all his earthly happiness, wandered through his brain. At one moment he fancied himself the possessor of the million of acres so feel- ingly alluded to by his lively host; at another he thought that if he could only obtain a maximum grant how comfortable and how well situated he would be for the remainder of his life. His wife, too, to whom he was fondly attached--why should she not share his pleasing dreams? Awaking from his reverie he hastily asked Griselda where her mother was. His daughter was about to re- ply when the two matrons suddenly entered the room. "The afternoon is now sufficiently cool," said Mrs. Arnott ; " what say you, Mr. Max- well, to a short walk in the garden or about the grounds ?" " I shall be most happy to place myself at your disposal," replied that gentleman. "Very well," said Mrs. Arnott; "my dears, will you accompany us, or remain here ?" The young ladies intimated their willing- ness to be of the party, and Maxwell, placing himself between Mrs. Arnott and his wife, led the way. It was now six o'clock. The sun was approaching the rim of the western horizon, and being enveloped in light clouds of purple and golden colors, with a dim haze-like smoke, perhaps from some distant fire, shed a bright orange glow over the broad bay and surrounding hills. A fresh breeze, bearing on its bosom the delightful fragrance of many an exotic shrub and flower, swept through the garden and over the pleasant fields. Birds of the gayest plumage, and winged insects arrayed in countless brilliant hues, awoke from their drowsy lethargy and sported on the evening air: while from the surface of the smooth water the rays of the declining orb were reflected as from a lake of burnished silver. Griselda paused to gaze upon the charming landscape, and while so doing her heart bounded with love and grati- tude to the Creator of all, who had permitted her to look upon and enjoy such a scene. From a pleasant train of thought she was aroused by the voice of Miss Arnott calling her to come and see her pretty birds indulg- ing in their evening play. " Call me Griselda," said she, smiling, and taking her companion's arm. "Oh I certainly, and you must call me Isabel." " Nay," replied Griselda, "I feel as if I could not; you are so many years my senior." " Only one or two," said Isabel; " but what matter—I insist upon it, and so you must. Now look at my birds. Oh ! I de- clare, there's my little prince of bower-birds on the floor holding down his pretty head. What is the matter, Princie? Have they been beating you, my poor little fellow ? He is not well. These bower-birds, Griselda, are the most interesting creatures you ever saw ; they build such pretty bowers for themselves, and play so nicely; you must try and see them at work in the morning. You admire
my large collection of beautiful parrots and cockatoos. There is a very fine specimen of Dacela Gigantio, or laughing jackass. That is the Menura Superba—that splendid bird with its tail something like a lyre. We have also the honey-sucker, belonging to the family of the Meliphagidæ. Goodness, gracious ! who is that ? Oh ! Harry, how you frightened me." "Serve you right, you right, you minx," said Harry, with a laugh, " when I find you here puzzling Miss Maxwell's poor head with your abomin- able jaw-breaking names. The Latinized monstrosities of your birds and mother's plants ought to be twisted into a hard rope, and you and she tied together with it." "And to please your dictatorial lordship we ought to be thrown into the middle of the bay, too, I suppose ?" said Isabel. " Nay, you need not ruffle your feathers so. I am a plain young man, and do not require sauce after dinner," answered the brother. " Because you have got enough already, if we are to judge by the haste with which you. ran away from papa," replied the sister. " A very pretty retort-courteous, upon my honor. Miss Maxwell must be delighted at such exuberant wit," said the gentleman. " If you do not cease, Sir, I will lay the whole case before papa this instant, and he may treat you to a little pepper as well as sauce," retorted the lady. " O dear ! how wild we are getting. But come, make it up, and I will take you and Miss Maxwell out in my boat to-morrow for a pleasant row," said Harry. "You must learn to behave yourself like a gentleman before either of us will condescend to step into your boat, or even to walk by your side," said Isabel, a little mollified. " I'll conduct myself like a nobleman," re- plied her brother. " Will Miss Maxwell, allow me the pleasure of showing her round a the garden ?" He offered his arm politly, but Griselda preferred taking that of Isabel. " Well," said he, "proceed—I will follow like a footman." In this order they entered the garden, a large well fenced piece of ground, stocked not only with the European fruit-bearing trees and shrubs which flourish in the genial climate of New South Wales but also with many rare plants selected with care from the extensive flora of Australia. Nor was Mrs. Arnott's fondness for botany confined to Aus- tralian productions alone. She could boast of having in her conservatory many a rare exotic from the islands of the Pacific—from Java, Borneo, and New Zealand. Our ac- quaintance, Harry, still keeping close to the young ladies, had not been in the garden more than a few minutes when he suddenly exclaimed—" Do you hear that mother's at the jawbreakers already! Well I'm off— good by, ladies." "O, good by ! by all means," said Isabel. "Come, Griselda, we will go and hear what Mammna is saying." " Well, my dears," said Mrs. Arnott, whose maternal solicitude was pretty constantly awake, "you are, I trust, improving the passing hour by examining with care the beautiful productions of nature with which you are surrounded: This tree, Mr. Max- well, is a young specimen of the extensive genus Eucalyptus with which our country is completely stocked; it is vulgarly called blue gum, and sheds its bark instead of leaves, as indeed all the different species do. I have a great number of them, which will in time make our place look like a forest. This is another, but of a different species, the Eu- calptus Corymbosa, or blood-wood tree. This pretty shrub, laden with such a quantity of yellow blossoms, is the Acacia Pubescens, quite common here, but new to a stranger from England. I can show you as few more individuals belonging to the order Leguminosa —for instance, we have the Acacia Me- lanoxylon, or blackwood from Tasmania; likewise the Acacia Sophoræ, or Fragrant Acacia, though it scarcely looks well, as we are rather too far north ; when in full bloom it is really lovely; and in addition to these we have the Acacia Longifolia, or Long-leaved Acacia—its short, spiked flowers are very pretty. This umbra- geous, bower-like tree is the Corypha Aus- tralis, which with the Seaforthia palms, weep- ing casuarinas, and myrtaceous plants, give quite a singular appearance to the great forests in the interior. This beautiful climb- ing flower is the Teconia Australis, you see in what rich clusters the petals hang sus- pended ; and we have an interminable variety of umbelliferous, decandrous, papilionaceous bushes, bearing flowers of most brilliant colors, as also—" " Please, ma'am," said a servant running up out of breath, " my master is getting anxious for his tea." Recalled by this vulgar message from the Elysian fields of science in which her well stored mind was disporting itself, Mrs. Ar- nott conducted her friends back to the house. They found the Colonel seated in his snug arm chair, and the tea things laid in the dining-room. He immediately addressed his wife with a slight degree of asperity, say- ing—" What in the name of engines of war not yet invented, Mrs. Arnott, ma'am, keeps you out so late ? I've been waiting an hour." "I have been showing our friends our garden treasures, Colonel," answered the lady. " You need not be so impatient—I never dis- turb you in your after-dinner chit-chat." "You keep me here dying of thirst, ma'am," interrupted the Colonel, " so that I had a great mind to go and take a swim in the bay. Talking of swimming, Maxwell, I once met with a queer adventure that I'll just tell you of while the tea is getting ready. I was once, Sir, as green as duckweed, up the country in very hot weather, and taking a quiet walk along the banks of a river near a friend's house where I was staying for a few days, when the idea occurred to me to pull
off my duds and have a swim. Well, Sir, I sat down on the bank, and commenced leisurely to unscrew my coat and unmention- ables, when I heard a measured treading thump, thump—just behind me; I turned round without making any noise, and what do you think I saw ? A buck forester kanga- roo, Sir, about seven feet high without bs, standing bolt upright about thirty yards off and staring at me just as if I was something good to eat. 'O ho ! ' said I, 'just wait there my gentleman, 'till I get my bulldog out will you, but I was afraid to move for fear of scaring the rascal the wrong way, when—power o' mercy—he came a half dozen jumps nearer and pawed the air like a perpendicular race- horse, so I just quietly touched the trigger of my barker—I never travel without a pair— and down he came for all the world like a sack of potatoes out of a hayloft. Well, Sir, I went and examined him and found him stone dead to be sure, but he was a fine animal and I thought it singular that he should have a piece of blue ribbon tied round his neck. So I went in and had my swim and went home to my friend's house, and whom should I meet on the way but Mrs. Blackmore, the lady, looking about for something very anxiously. 'O ! Colonel Arnott,' said she, ' I have lost my poor Rolla—did you see him ?' and she called Rolla! Rolla! 'Who the dev—hem—I beg pardon—but who is Rolla, ma'am, if it's a fair question ? " ' My poor pet forester kangaroo, don't you know Rolla?" she replied with an uneasy smile. ' Yes, ma'am, I saw a strange looking animal down near the river, and when we saw one another he bolted one road and I cut my stick the opposite.' So away she went calling Rolla, and away I went, packed up my car- pet bag, left two of my best shirts in the hands of the washerwoman, called for my horse, and rode away as the fellow did long go from the Baron of Mowbray's gate without ever once looking behind me." The Colonel laughed as usual and Maxwell laughed, not so much at the anecdote itself or the wry faces and comic gesticula- tions of his jolly host as to please and en- courage him, if anything was required to do so. Grisella and her brothers looked astonished, and Mrs. Maxwell after listening gravely said— "The poor pet then met with a sudden and violent death—did you ever hear how the lady bore her loss ?" " The only communication I ever received on the subject was, madam, a letter from her husband saying that if I had shot the kangaroo through malicious design he would be most happy to meet me on equal terms, and then I might have the pleasure of shooting him; I replied that it was through accident of course, and that having unfortunately de- prived the lady of one pet, I had not the slightest wish to rob her of another so I purchased the richest dress and the purest pearl broach I could find in Sydney and sent them to my fair friend, by way of making the amende honorable, and never heard anything of the matter since, except receiving a polite note of acknowledgments. I'll trouble you my princess of fair lilies of all the valleys in the world, to hand me a cup of tea, and don't let your zephyr foot touch my gouty toe." "I fear," said Mrs. Maxwell, with a quaint smile, "I must be so rude as to call you to order Colonel Arnott, on account of the ex- pressions you address to my daughter—you will make her quite vain and silly." "No fear of that mamma," whispered Gri- selda. " Why, my dear madam," said the Colonel, " there is decidedly some truth in what you say. I beg pardon, it is all truth, every word of it. It was just the way I was myself spoiled. I had a fond mother, ma'am and she used to call me her little pigeon, just as if there is, or ever was, any re- semblance between me and a pigeon ; but however peaceful the nickname, it led once to a very serious combat. The occasion was this. When Lord Clive was leaving Calcutta for the last time, in the year 1767, there was a great crowd of ladies and gentlemen—officers, civilians, nabobs and lascars assembled on the river's banks to see him depart, and nothing would please me but to stand in the foremost rank, gaping like a bull-frog for a thunderstorm, when somebody from behind knocked my cap over my eyes, and called out ' Well Pigeon, are you here ?' I turned round, ma'am, and saw Samuel Blubbertab, son of Assistant-Commissary Blubbertub, who had been di-rated by Clive the week before for misappropriation of government stores. I looked hard at him, 'Yes' said I. 'Owl, I'm here—as good right as you or your father either." 'Take that for your impudence,' said he, giving me a slap on the cheek. ' Tit for tat,' said I, giving him a thrust in the stomach that sent him yards away, when back he came in a rage, and in I went in a fury, and we grappled my boys like two tiger's whelps, when more by good luck than good science I fortunately pushed him into the river just as he was preparing for a heavy thrust. At that moment who should come up but Clive himself. 'What's all this?' said he to an officer, ' Who is this youngster ?' ' That's young Arnott, my Lord, son of Major Arnott; his mother calls him the little pigeon.' 'Does she, by Jupiter ?' said his lordship, 'the simple woman ; he looks a deuce sight more like a hawk. Who is that other fellow ?' ' That's the son of late Commissary Blub- bertub; he struck the first blow.' ' Serve him right, serve him right; I hate bullies. Well done, Pigeon,' said the hero of Plassey, as he stepped into his barge, and all the people laughed consumedly." ' Your adversary was not drowned I hope," said Mrs. Maxwell, who had listened at- tentively.
'No ma'am, he was pulled out by a half drunken lascar, who gave him a good duck- ing during the operation." Tea having been dispatched, the company adjourned to the drawing-room, where Miss Arnott again sat down to the pianoforte and played her last new piece with great brilliancy of execution, the old Colonel's tongne rattling away all the time, telling wonderful adven- tures to Maxwell.and the boys ; while Mrs.. Arnott, drawing out her little work-table, sat down within chatting distance of Mrs. Max- well, who, with Griselda, earnestly begged to be employed. This, however, Mrs. Arnott would only allow to a limited extent. Henry sat hall hidden in a corner, and seemed to take great interest in the movements of Griselda's fingers ; but our fair heroine was quite un- conscious of this remarkable circumstance. When the piece was finished, Mrs. Arnott requested her son and daughter to sing a duet, which they did. This being over, and the performers duly thanked, Mrs Arnott asked Grisclda if she ever sang, and that young lady timidly. replied, "I try sometimes." "Then you must allow me the pleasure of hearing you, my dear," said Mrs. Arnott. " You may sing that ballad you have lately learned," said Mrs. Maxwell, " it is a pa- trotic ditty, called THE FORSAKEN WIFE." "I cannot sing very well," said Griselda. "Try, my dear," said Mrs. Arnott. "Do, Griselda," said Isabel. "Miss Maxwell will not refuse us such a great pleasure," said Henry. Thus urged, Griselda sat down to the piano —for she had made some progress in music— and sang with touching earnestness the fol- lowing simple ballad— May I not weep for days gone by, Or speak of home, once gay and fair; Must I not breathe one tender sigh, Or feel for thee one anxious care ? Oh ask me not to break the spell That binds a broken heart to thee, Nor bid me from my breast expel These wasting thoughts of agony. Time was when thou—so kind, so true, Did'st watch my smile with tearful eye; How quickly those sweet moments flew, With gentle word and fund reply, With golden gem of gay device, And pearls thou did'st adorn my head: Take back thy gems of costly price, And give me one bright smile instead. How oft in pleasant dreams I trace, O'er paths of love that once were mine— The rays that shone in thy dear face, That on thy lips again may shine ! Still—still when waking thoughts arise, I weep, I pray, I mourn in vain; Thy heart—the only gem I prize— O give me thy fond heart again! "Thank you, Griselda,—thank you, Miss Masxwell—" was echoed from Isabel and Henry ; and the old Colonel, who had hobbled up to hear the song more distinctly, exclaimed —" A very tender little ditty, upon my honor —quite a snug piece of domestic antagonistic sentiment—the unhappy lady should not give up all the pearls at once, but render them one at a time in exchange for a kiss. Do you know, my dear madam, that I am about to or- ganise a new society in this fair city of ours, to be called The Highly-Disagreeable-and-Dis- gusting-Domestic-Misery-Making-Matrimonial- Squabbles-PUT-EM-DOWN Society. "A very good idea," said Mrs. Maxwell, laughing, " I hope it will be attended with success." "I mean to succeed in that, ma'am, as I have done in everything else," replied the Colonel. " You are such a clever man, and amiable philanthropist, my dear Colonel," said Mrs. Arnott. " The proof of my cleverness and amia- bility is like that of a pudding in the eating —that is, in the feeling and experimenting of them, ma'am. I am as perfect a pigeon as ever was hatched, if let properly alone, but if I am stirred up by scolding, snuffy, naggy nonsense, sneers and snubs, I say war-hawk, that's all. If there's one individual I hate more than another it is the whining, fault-finding cur that sees motes in everybody's eyes, and won't see the beams in his own, though they're as plain as frigates might be in a mill-pond. Well, my little rose of Cashmere, I will bid you good night—good night ladies and gentle men—my hour for retiring is come. Break- fast at nine o'clock ; pleasant sleep and good appetites to all." After remaining about two hours engaged in conversation, subsequent to the worthy Colonel's departure, the company broke up. Servants attended, the visitors were shown to their respective apartments, and in a few minutes the house was wrapped in profound silence. (To be continued.)