Chapter 36644932

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Chapter NumberXVI
Chapter TitleARISTOCRATIC VISITORS.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article36644932
Full Date1867-07-20
Page Number2
Corrections6
Word Count3358
IllustratedN
Last Corrected2020-01-24
Newspaper TitleLaunceston Examiner (Tas. : 1842 - 1899)
Trove TitleThe Maxwells of Bremgarten
article text

THE MAXWELLS OF BREMGARTEN. A STORY OF TASMANIA. [Founded on Facts.] (ALL RIGHTS ARE RESERVED ) (Continued from 6th inst.) CHAPTER XVI. ARISTOCRATIC VISITORS. The labors of the settler and his assistants were now continued with scarcely any inter- ruption. Fences were rapidly put up, an ad- ditional paddock or two enclosed and pre- pared for the plough, a site for the new house with a barn and other conveniences marked out, and everything went on as quietly as if the land were totally free from all causes of disturbance: The time passed pleasantly, with scarcely any mixture of unhappiness or fear. Mrs. Maxwell, though she could not look upon her little garden as a permanent one, still for the sake of exercise and amuse- ment kept it in good order, generally spend- ing a portion of every day in weeding, prun- ing, and arranging the objects of her care. Griselda, when her household duties were completed, made a point of working a little with her mother. Maxwell went out every morning to look after his men, and to watch his sheep thriving on the spring grass, with the lambs chasing each other in little parties of five or six. He had received a few letters and a good many newspapers from his friends at home, all of which were eagerly devoured as they arrived ; and Isabel Arnott answered with praiseworthy punctuality all Griselda's letters. In the last of her communications it was intimated that her father would be most happy to forward Mr. Maxwell's son up to his sheep station, and as his expression was—" make a man of him." About a month after the flood, on the afternoon of a fine sunny day, a spring cart containing three ladies, followed by an armed servant on horseback, was driven to the door, and Mrs. Earlsley and two of her daughters were announced. Mrs. Maxwell was agreeably surprised to see lady visitors at last. She invited them to come in, which they did, and immediately entered into an animated conversation, as most ladies can do under any circumstances whatever. Mrs. Earlsley appeared to have possessed in her youth great personal attractions, and still, though the mother of two grown up daugh- ters and three younger children, she by her dress and manner evidently wished to be thought comely. Her countenance was pleas- ing, but somewhat spoiled by an affectation of worldly pride peculiar to wealthy people. She possessed a high forehead, dark hair, and a pair of prominent dark grey inquiring eyes, with a formidable nose of Wellingtonian shape. Her figure was good, and her dress showy enough, was tastefully arranged ; while the valuable rings on her fingers and the glittering brooch on her bosom displayed her taste in jewellery, as well as her natural pro- pensity for finery. In mind Mrs. Earlsley was a tower of strength, and her husband knew it. Her eldest daughter, Harriett, was a tall, slender, pale-faced girl verging on her twen- tieth year, with very small features, and a general appearance of extreme delicacy of constitution, yet affable and engaging in her manners. The younger, Caroline, was a smiling rosy-cheeked little creature about sixteen years of age ; her cheerful open countenance, expressive of fun, if not of mis- chief, and a roguish twinkle in her laughing eye, bespoke her disposition at a glance. Her complexion was more ruddy than Griselda's, but not so clear, and the expression of her face was not half so thoughtful. They seemed to take a fancy to each other at once, and while their respective mammas were engaged in conversation managed to exchange a good deal of friendly gossip. " I certainly should have called upon you before, Mrs. Maxwell," said Mrs. Earlsley, " but the weather has been so changeable. I was highly pleased to hear that you had not met with any serious accident during the late floods." " I am very much obliged to you, Mrs. Earlsley," replied Mrs. Maxwell ; " it was a very providential escape indeed. I fully thought at one time that the entire building would have been swept away. You have re- sided in this neighborhood for a long time, and may be able to tell me if such high flood are frequent in this river ?" " I do not remember witnessing such a flood ; there have been high floods certainly, but this last was the highest I ever saw—I think without exception—and in all proba- bility you will not see another like it for years to come." " I have no desire to see any such again, I can assure you. We have heard that a great deal of damage has been done at Launceston and other places," said Mrs. Maxwell. " An incalculable amount of damage," said Mrs. Earlsley. " Several people were drowned at Longford and Perth, and a great number had to be taken off the roofs of the houses, in boats. I understand, too, that a great many sheep and cattle have been drowned and swept away ; and only think the simplest remedy for all this, to widen the South Esk where the river discharges itself into the Tamar at Launceston, over the Cataract ; a few tons of gunpowder would do it, and then employ all the men in the colony to carry the stones into the town and build houses with them. I think the authorities here are dreadful wasters of labor. If I had the direction of affairs, as I often tell Mr. Earlsley" " Mamma," said Miss Caroline Earlsley, with a merry laugh, " Miss Maxwell says that an angel did not appear to her to tell where Mrs. Baxter's child was." " Oh dear me !" said Mrs. Earlsley, " what a wretched memory I have ; I had quite for- gotten everything about that poor child, and such a heroine as your daughter was on the occasion. Come here, my dear, if you please; your name is—now don't tell me, I know very well, but I have partly forgotten it, and

I want to exercise my memory. Let me see, it begins with a Z I think—not Zereida ?" " A G—Griselda," whispered Miss Earls- ley." " O yes, I declare—Griselda ; it is a sweet name, not easily forgotten, but really, Mrs. Maxwell, I cannot remember anything. I think if a bushranger came and tore the ear- rings out of my ears I should forget all about it in half an hour. And now, Griselda, come, like a dear girl, and tell me how did you know that the child was on the Woody Sugar Loaf." " I did not know," said Griselda. " What made you go there, then ?" " I had been awake all night, and I thought it possible that she might be there. I cannot account for it in any other way," said Gri- selda modestly. " It was a most remarkable affair," said Mrs. Earlsley; " and how much must the unfortunate child have suffered ! What could have induced her to wander to the top of a steep hill ? How far did your father say it was, Harriett, from Baxter's farm ?" " Nearly six miles I think, mamma," said Miss Earlsley. " A distance of six miles in the heavy rain, and famishing with cold and hunger: How shocking !" said Mrs. Earlsley. " Perhaps double that distance," said Mrs. Maxwell, " if we allow for deviations from a straight line." " Yes, indeed," said Mrs. Earlsley, " I never, thought of that—a very good observation. Harriett, my dear, I wish you would make a memorandum of that." " When we get home," said Miss Earlsley, with a smile. " And now tell me, my dear Miss Max- well," continued Mrs. Earlsley, " what did the child say when she saw you coming ?" " She was quite insensible," answered Griselda, " and appeared to be dead." " Dear me, how very terrible !" said Mrs. Earlsley, " and you rubbed her limbs till she came to life again, did you not, my love ?" " My mother did," replied Griselda. " Well, I hope Baxter will remember it. You are from Ireland, I believe Mrs. Max- well ?" " Yes, we are from that green, but very unhappy island." " It is a beautiful country, I believe, only the people are so very insubordinate ; but I like the educated Irish, they are such tender hearted people." " There are thousands of un-educated Irish who are far more tender hearted than they can afford to be," said Mrs. Maxwell. " Yes, I dare say," rejoined her visitor, " but there are a great many unruly spirits among them. What do you think of your great liberator, Daniel O'Connell ?" " I think he is undoubtedly a very clever man, but neither Mr. Maxwell nor myself belong to his school of politics." " I am very glad to hear you say so," said Mrs. Earlsley, " I cannot for the life of me understand what the people have to complain of. It appears to me to be an Irish bull to call O'Connell a liberator, when it is not at all perceptible what he has to liberate. The Irish people are not oppressed by a secret police ; they are not sent like Poles by hundreds to Siberia, on the slightest breath of political suspicion ; they are not crowded into a Bastile, or left to perish in a—what is the name of that Austrian dungeon ?—O, I remember, Spielberg. I do not think they wear chains on their legs when they walk about the cities and towns ; they are recog- nized as free British subjects, and yet they make more noise and create more trouble than if the English were in the habit of sell- ing their children into slavery." " I should not talk against my country men," said Mrs. Maxwell, " but I think your observations, Mrs. Earlsley, are very sound and just, and I know a great many educated persons in Ireland who think as you do. I believe the great bane of my native country is party spirit, and the great national ambition is to be an independent nation with King O'Connell and a Parliament of its own ; then no doubt they would want the Isle of Man for a Botany Bay." " Indeed, that is a very good idea," said Mrs. Earlsley, laughing. " And how do you think could King O'Connell carry on a war with France, England maintaining an armed neutrality, more of course for keeping down the O'Connell's ambition and preserving the balance of power than anything else ?" " I really do not know," replied Mrs. Max- well, " unless the English Government ad- vanced large subsidies to maintain an Irish fleet and well disciplined army, in the hope that the energies and spirit of her old rival France would be exhausted in the struggle." " I think," said Mrs. Earlsley, " that Ire- land is a sadly misgoverned country, and that English rulers are not free from blame. An Irishman may enjoy as much personal liberty as an Englishman, but his social status is not equal : an Englishman treads the soil of Ireland as a conqueror, an Irish- man feels one of a subdued nation ; now I think it should be the great aim of the British Parliament to remove those jealous and foolish feelings, and as a preliminary step I would not allow Irish pigs or reapers to enter England on any account. If I were a member of Parliament I would enact such laws—as I often tell Mr. Earlsley—as would most certainly bring the two islands upon a perfectly equal footing ; but these gentlemen think they know so much better than we do, which is but a farce after all, for if they do know better why do they not establish peace and plenty to all, as we soon would do if we had the management ?" " But if the poor reapers should starve ?" inquired Mrs. Maxwell. " Why, bless me," answered the magis- trate's lady, " how could that happen ? Don't you perceive they would have the pigs to eat ? I would also forbid the importation of coals into Ireland—a most admirable policy in two ways : first, it would make

coals cheaper in England, and then it would compel the Irish to burn turf, their proper fuel ; turf would be the salvation of that country—the manufacture and carriage of turf would become the business of peer and peasant." The great depth and soundness of these observations seemed to overpower Mrs. Max- well's ideas of political economy, and she felt desirous of changing the subject when Miss Caroline again spoke. " Mamma," said she, " Miss Maxwell says she will come over and stay a week with us." " O, no," said Griselda, in confusion ; " I beg your pardon, I said if mamma would allow me, and"— " Yes, my dear," said Mrs. Earlsley, " you certainly shall. I will persuade your mamma to allow you." " I cannot spare her, at least at present, if you will be good enough to excuse her," said Griselda's mother. " Well, when you can make arrangements accordingly," said Mrs. Earlsley, " if your daughter like's horse exercise, we can let her have a very quiet pony." " And we shall have such delightful rides," said Miss Earlsley. "You have some young children, I believe, Mrs. Earlsley ?" said Mrs. Maxwell. " I have two of the most unruly, noisy, turbulent boys you ever saw or heard. Their father keeps them out of his sight, and allows them to do just as they like, though he is a very strict magistrate when on the Bench. My youngest is a girl, Ada." " If you are in want of a nursery governess I know a respectable young person who is anxious to obtain a situation in the country." " If she is not quite a child—that is, could teach them their lessons and keep them in order, I would be very happy to engage her." " I believe she is quite capable of teaching ; and would do a good deal of needle work as well." " Does she live in Hobart Town, Mrs. Max- well ?" " She does ; her name is Miss Leary. Al- though not an accomplished person, she has received a tolerable education. I am rather interested in her, as her parents are neigh- bors of ours in Hobart Town." " Well, I shall try her, if she thinks proper, at forty pounds a year ;" said Mrs. Earlsley, " though I do not know how she is to get up the country so far. If she can come by the mail cart, I would send for her to Campbell Town ; or perhaps Baxter could bring her up." " I will write to her and make her ac- quainted with your offer," said Mrs. Max- well. Mrs. Earlsley and her daughters rose to depart. The former, on receiving the thanks of Mrs. Maxwell for her considerate and friendly visit, said, " I regret Mr. Maxwell is not at home ; I think if he is wise he will keep a better watch on his house, as the na- tives are in a very excited state. We are always prepared with a number of constables and soldiers at our place, so we can bid de- fiance to both natives and bushrangers—indeed, Mr. Maxwell ought to apply fur a constable, the.country is so dangerous." Saying which the aristocratic lady took her seat in the spring cart beside her daughters, and drove away. When her husband came home, Mrs. Max- well gave him a precise account of Mrs. Earlsley's visit, and of the invitation to Gri- selda, concerning which he said— " I will let her go when you can, spare her, for a few days, but in the mean time you will have to return this lady's visit, and you must make use of the bullock cart." His wife then told him what Mrs. Earlsley had said about having a constable to protect the homestead. Max- well replied, " The suggestion is kind, but unnecessary ; if we have one constable we shall require six. I do not like to establish such a precedent." Mrs. Maxwell lost no time in writing to Miss Leary to announce Mrs. Earlsley's offer. In a fortnight she received an answer, wherein that young lady thanked her kind friend, and stated that she would accept the situation, and perform the duties Mrs. Earlsley required to the best of her abilities. Her mother, she said, knew of a person going to Launceston in a spring cart, who was willing to take her to Campbell Town, which he expected to reach in ten days from the date of her letter. Mrs. Maxwell imme- diately despatched a messenger to Clifton Hall with Miss Leary's letter, and received a polite note in reply from Mrs. Earlsley, who expressed her satisfaction with this arrange- ment. The dampness of their cottage since the flood had been a source of great discomfort to the family at Bremgarten, and Mrs. Maxwell lost no opportunity trying to persuade her husband to commence the erection of suitable and permanent dwelling in which they might live comfortably, and receive their visitors in a manner consistent with their rank. He, however, was not fond of build- ing ; he preached the necessity of patience, and thick shoes ; alleging also as an excuse that suitable laborers for such a serious un- dertaking were not to be had on a short no- tice ; that he would like to wait a little and see how his farm was likely to pay him, to so forth. He would meanwhile make enqui- ries and calculations, as well as preliminary preparations ; he would employ sawyers im- mediately to cut the timber ; and with these answers she was obliged to be content. But it was not long before the effects of the damp began to manifest themselves, in a most disagreeable manner. Maxwell himself was seized with pains in his limbs which he had never felt before. His head began to ache, his spirits became languid, and he now more than ever felt the demon of despondency getting the better of him. His nights, too, instead of being as formerly, spent in unbroken slumber, were now passed in restlessness and anxiety ; his

sleep, when he did sleep, was frequently dis- turbed by troublesome and terrifying dreams. But he avoided complaining as much as possible, fearful of adding to the cares that were already pressing seriously upon the mind of his amiable wife, and did his best to remedy the evil by getting boards split and laid down on the floor of his cottage to check the upward progress of the unwholesome vapors. This step in the right direction, slight as it was, was not without a sensible effect, and Maxwell felt his health and spirits daily improving. As soon as he was able to pronounces him- self convalescent, his son Charles was attacked by similar symptoms, and as it subsequently appeared, much more seriously. He com- plained of excessive languor, loss of appetite, pains in his legs and stomach, almost con- stant headache, and great heat at night, con- nected with broken slumbers an disagree- able dreams. Mrs. Maxwell was greatly alarmed at seeing her son drooping rapidly, so at her earnest solicitation a messenger was dispatched to Campbell Town for a medical man, who arrived, in due time—indeed, just in time to prevent a violent fever from lay- ing perhaps the whole family prostrate. By assiduous attention he succeeded in arresting the progress of the disease, and the boy happily recovered ; but it was a long time be- fore he could be removed from his bed to a bench erected purposely for him in the sitting room, where he could see the sun shining upon the hills through the open door-way. The lesson that Maxwell learned from these circumstances was—never again to build a house on a low dam site, and never to inhabit any house so situated if it could be possibly avoided. As for Mr. Juniper, his guide and pioneer, Maxwell felt that he was not in fault. He had, in fact been advised by the surveyor to build his cottage on the highest part of the adjacent bank ; but the settler had evinced a little obstinacy, saying that it would be in- convenient. He therefore took the entire responsibility upon himself, and forthwith began seriously to think of building his new house. (To be continued.)