|Chapter Title||PREPARATIONS FOR A JOURNEY.|
|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 X. PREPARATIONS. FOR A JOURNEY. A WHOLE month has passed away since we left our two friends—Maxwell and Juniper seated together enjoying their unrestricted discourse, and we will now proceed to take a peep at our fair heroine who, with her mother and brothers, sat at breakfast one fine morning early in April. The apartment used as a breakfast parlor by the Maxwell family was a small one, enclosed by a whitewashed brick house of no very attractive exterior, situated in Macquarie-street. The furniture was not sumptuous, and, could scarcely be called neat, though the ingenuity of female heads and hands had been called into active play to make it wear even a slender aspect of comfort. The expression of Mrs. Maxwell's countenance indicated ill-health. She was much thinner than she appeared on the morn- ing of her husband's departure, and though she had had two or three letters from him always written in the best possible spirits still she could not wholly divest her mind of anxiety on his account. There are many people in the world who would feel truly miserable were they compelled to settle down to a quiet mode of life, who could not, in fact, cost what it might, sit peaceably under their own vine and fig-tree, as Mr. Leary said, and not care a fig which way the battle went. Many there are on the other hand who in- wardly pine with sorrow if they are in an uncertain or unsettled state even for a month or a week. Mrs. Maxwell, and we may say her husband also, belonged to this latter class, but if any person should suppose that either of them was careless of or indifferent to the events passing around them, he would labor under a great error. It has never fallen to the lot of the writer of these pages to be acquainted with two indi- viduals who though essentially differing from each other in mental conformation, more strongly united in themselves those three angelic qualities—faith, hope, and charity ; the two first having reference almost exclusively to the Supreme Ruler of all worlds, the last to their fellow creatures, ex- pressed not only by deeds however modest in themselves, but by words and thoughts. They felt in their hearts an acute pain at the sight or recital of human calamity, breathed a sympathetic sigh for the unfortunate sufferer, and bore within their breasts a secret wish to be made the humble instruments for mitigat- ing the severity of his anguish. And how fared Griselda all this time ? She was much the same as when we last beheld her, the fair ringlets falling lightly around a cheerful happy face, and playing in every movement over the most graceful and snowy neck that Mrs. Thornycroft could model, or Alfred Tennyson describe. She wore a light blue morning dress, a color which set off the delicate rose of her complexion to the best advantage, and she smiled pleasantly while eating her breakfast at the playful remarks of her brothers upon the various pedestrians who wended their way past the window into the centre of the town, where their daily business called them. "There goes Mr. Blank, the grocer," said Eugene, " he sells plenty of sand as well as sugar—it's about half an inch thick in the bottom of my tea-cup." " And there goes Mr. Crank, the linen- draper," said Charles, " he has the largest stock of goods in the town, and sells them, according to his advertisements, always below cost price. I wonder who pays his baker's bills." " He sells his goods cheap, " said Eugene, " because they are as rotten as a pear. Who is the greater rogue, mother ; he who sells sand instead of sugar, or rotten things ?" " Hush, Eugene, you must not speak thus of respectable men." "Not when they deserve it mother? look at all that sand !" " And I heard you say yourself, mother, that Mr. Crank's thread and staylaces were quite rotten," said Charles. " There's Mr. Bones the lawyer," said Eugene; " how fast he walks ! he must have some pleasant case on hand. He will doubt- less run up a nice little bill, like a sailor up a ladder of ropes." " And there's the Reverend Dr. Tuchango, the schoolmaster," said Charles. " O, my word, doesn't he pay off the boys well ! Willie Thornton told me that he flogged Jemmy Middleton to that degree that he wasn't able to walk home, and his mother had to send a man with a wheelbarrow to fetch him." " And there's Mr. Leary, I declare," said Eugene. " I wonder where he is going to so early, thinking I dare say of his friend and companion Colonel Davey. O mother, I heard of such a funny trick that was played him about a week ago ; he was spending the evening in old Sobersides' public-house, THE INSATIABLE WHALE, and one of his friends actually got two bottles of fresh yeast and tied them to his coat-tails, and when he went home he wasn't able to knock at his own door, but fell down on the door-step, and there were two such jolly explosions—I don't think he stirred out since till this morning." " Eugene, do be quiet pray," said Griselda, though she could hardly help laughing ; " do not you see that mamma is not well ? Do not be cast down, mamma ; you know papa said in his last letter that he would soon send for us ; he has got the house nearly finished, and it is close to a beautiful river, and sur- rounded by green banks and pleasant hills : how happy we shall be when we are at home beside the South Esk." " I am not cast down, love," replied her mother, "only a little anxious—a feeling I hope to get over in time when more accus- tomed to this country."
" Here's, the postman," said Charles, " he is looking in very hard to see if we are watch- ing for him—I'm sure he has a letter." " Run quickly and see," said Griselda, perhaps he may have one from papa." Charles ran and presently returned bring- ing a letter. It was from his father. Mrs. Maxwell opened it impatiently, and read aloud as follows :-- Bremgarten, Avoca, March 27th, 18— My dear Elizabeth,—I have been on the point of proceeding to Hobarton more than once since I received your last letter in which you informed me that your general health was not good, that your spirits were low, and your mind restless and impatient. I conjure you, my dear wife, to take care of your health both for my sake and your own, to say nothing of our children, though they have some right to be considered. I hope you will constantly endeavour to divest your mind of all hypochondriacal fancies, and arm yourself with patience until we meet, which please God will soon be the case now. I have finished our tem- porary dwelling-house at last, and would have taken up my residence in it but for the paucity of furniture. The carpenter who helped me to build it is living in it, and is employed in making a few rough tables, stools, &c. I have found out a name for my estate and called it Bremgarten after that romantic village in Switzerland, where we spent part of our honeymoon. I hope you will like the name, hallowed as it is by charming recollections. I still reside with my neighbor and kind friend Mr. Johnson Juniper. He is very attentive and hospitable, and feeds me up like a fighting cock on such fat mutton chops and greasy pork pies ; he is going to kill a fat bullock soon, and talks about it with great gusto. It is quite equal to a theatrical entertainment to listen to the dialogues that frequently take place between himself and his cook on the cuisine, the latter is an old prisoner of the Crown, and an inveterate drunkard. Now, I am exceedingly happy at the idea of see- ing you and the dear children soon again. I have made an agreement with Mr. Timothy Baxter, a relation I presume of Squire Thorn- hill's friend, in the Vicar of Wakefield, carrier, who resides near this, to proceed to Hobarton with his three drays and twenty-two bullocks to bring you and the furniture up without delay. He is, or seems to be, a careful man, and bears a pretty good character. In three weeks I hope to see you and the children safe and well, but I will ride part of the way to meet you, and you must be very careful not to sit on the dray while either going up or coming down steep hills. I send you a list of seeds and tools, which you will purchase and bring up with you. Farewell my dearest Elizabeth, fond love to the children from their affectionate father, BERNARD MAXWELL This letter acted like a charm on the drooping spirits of Griselda's mother. She instantly cast off every vestige of despondency and rose up at once into active and energetic existence—so powerful is the effect upon some minds of having a decided object in view. She immediately set about making prepara- tions for departure, although two or three days might elapse before the carrier should arrive in town. Boxes, chests, and drawers were emptied and repacked ; bedsteads taken down and made ready for removal. The whole house became a scene of confusion, and at the close of this eventful day everything was nearly ready, even for a start on the following morning. The next day Mrs. Maxwell went forth, accompanied by Griselda and Eugene, and paid farewell visits to the ladies with whom she had become acquainted. She also com- pleted her purchases,and settled all remaining items of business. At home she, with her children, amused herself in unpacking a great portion of what had been carefully packed the day before. While thus engaged, and we hope to her perfect satisfaction, two lady visitors were announced by the slip-shod serving damsel, and in sailed, in no very rich or fashionable apparel, Mrs. Leary and her daughter Arabella. Mrs. Maxwell welcomed her visitors, and smilingly invited them to be seated ; she apologized for the confusion in which they found her, saying that the order for removal had come at last, and she expected their stay in Hobarton would be but short. Mrs. Leary had been a dumpy woman since she was a school-girl, but latterly, from some unexplained cause, she had undergone the process of reduction. Her face, though well- looking, was sallow and careworn, and she sighed frequently while conversing as if some heavy matter weighed upon her mind. No wonder, poor woman, if it was true that her drunken husband sometimes beat her savagely as was commonly reported. Miss Leary was an active young lady of seventeen ; she was tall and stout with a pleasing face, on which she wore, at least while visiting, a gay smile. Her eyes seemed to indicate an amiable dis- position ; her figure and carriage were grace- ful,—in a word, Miss Leary might really have been an ornament to polite society if she had had the advantage of a more respect- able father. " I heard from some friends, Mrs. Max- well," said Mrs. Leary, " that you were about to leave town, and I thought it my duty to come and say good by before you went." " I should not have gone without seeing you, if only for a moment, Mrs. Leary," re- plied Mrs. Maxwell. " I am too well aware of your many acts of kindness, and the useful information you have been always ready to give me." " I thank you, Mrs. Maxwell, for your good opinion," said Mrs. Leary. " I shall be extremely sorry to lose the benefit of your society. It has always been my desire to cultivate the acquaintance of ladies of your superior at- tainments. We may wait a long time before your place is filled up." " You speak in far too flattering a manner," said Mrs. Maxwell, " I am sure I have found you useful, and you have found me trouble- some. Griselda, my dear, Mrs. Leary will take a glass of wine." " Do not give yourself the trouble I beg," said the visitor, but Griselda silently hastened to obey her mother's wishes. While accept- ing the proffered wine-glass Mrs. Leary's hand trembled ; she set down the wine un- tasted and burst into tears. " Pray what is the matter, Mrs. Leary ?" said Mrs. Maxwell, alarmed lest she had given unintentional offence
"Mother," said Miss Leary, " I really hope you will command your feelings ;—it is nothing, Mrs. Maxwell, but the result of low spirits to which my mother has lately been subject." Mrs. Leary's paroxysm appeared to in- crease, and her daughter continued—" For heaven's sake, mother, consider where you are ! Mrs. Maxwell will not know how to account for this conduct." " I—I—will ex—plain to Mrs.—Max- well if you—will re—tire my—dear," said Mrs. Leary, half choked with tears and sobs. At a sign from her mother, Griselda, with Miss Leary and the two young gentlemen, instantly left the room. The afflicted lady took some time to recover herself, and then commenced her narrative with a dropping fire of groans. " It grieves me much, my dear Mrs. Max- well, to give you unnecessary pain by my selfish complaints, but I have no one else to whom I can safely tell my story. You are no doubt aware of the convivial habits of my unfortunate husband ?" " Yes, certainly, I have been aware of them for some time, and have pitied you very much." " Thank you ; you were always kind," said Mrs. Leary, "but the fact is I am weary of my life. I know not what to do, nor where to fly. My infatuated husband has dissipated nearly all our little property ; the mortgagee threatens to sell our farm on the Derwent ; poverty and starvation stare us in the face ; wretchedness is in our house. He has lately added ill usage to neglect. O, Mrs. Maxwell, will you advise me—do advise me like a good creature, and tell me what I am to do." " I compassionate your situation very much, Mrs. Leary," said Mrs. Maxwell, " but I am really at a loss how to advise you. Had you not better solicit the advice and protection of the Police Magistrate ?" " I have thought of doing so," said the poor woman, " but I do not like the publicity attending such a proceeding. I am afraid an immediate separation is the only remedy, and Arabella and I must earn our bread the best way we can.". " It is a serious case," said Mrs. Maxwell. " Do you not think an appeal in private to the Chief Police Magistrate might do some good ? He is a very gentlemanly man, and would, I am sure, do you justice." " I think I must try that plan," said Mrs. Leary, " I am compelled to seek pro- tection somewhere ; but, Mrs. Maxwell, might I venture to make one request—would you be so kind as to look out in the country for a situation for my poor daughter ? She is well suited to teach young children, though she is not highly accomplished. You might meet with a family in want of such a person. As for me, I will become a laundress, but my daughter," she added with fresh tears and great simplicity, " ought to be something better than that." Greatly distressed, Mrs. Maxwell promised that she would not lose sight of Miss Leary's interests. Mrs. Leary rose to depart. " It is well," she said, " that I have not got a large family. I need scarcely say that I wish you a pleasant and a safe journey." " Thank you," said Mrs. Maxwell ; " by- the-by, Mrs. Leary, I had nearly forgotten— I will be frank with you—you have never asked me to lend you anything ; you will not think me rude if I offer to lend you this ; you can repay me at your leisure ; and do not let Mr. Leary deprive you of it." She placed a paper in her visitor's hand. It was a bank note for ten pounds. "Oh ! " said Mrs. Leary, with renewed tears, " Mrs. Maxwell, I shall never forget your kindness. A friend in need is a friend indeed, and you are one. I thank you again and again." " Do not say more, I beg of you," said Mrs. Maxwell ; " Griselda, Mrs. Leary is going." The parting adieux were exchanged, and the visitors departed. (To be continued.)