|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 ARE RESERVED ) (Continued from last Saturday.) CHAPTER XXII. VISITORS. After the great fire which had so nearly burned his wheat and his house, Maxwell was not long in making the discovery that the labors connected with agricultural farm- ing did not altogether agree with him. He was now getting up in years and wool was getting up in price. The trouble attending a flock of sheep, however large, was nothing when compared with that of growing grain and preparing it for market. True, he had a son who was now of an age to qualify him for taking an active share in the management of the farm : but the fact was, Maxwell found out that a flock of sheep, where one of suffi- cient size could be kept, paid better than agricultural operations. Besides, there were many small farmers who had not the means of procuring it flock of sleep, and to them he thought the rich flockowners would do well to leave the cultivation of the soil. He accordingly laid down his paddocks in clover and artificial grasses, with the exception of a couple to keep the establishment in oats and hay. He entrusted his sheep, of which he now possessed about three thousand, to the care of the worthy Jacob Singlewood, and took his ease ; amusing himself with garden- ing and burning, when the hot weather was past, the rough grass and scrub which were thick enough on some parts of his property. Mrs. Maxwell still continued to pay great attention to her dairy, and met with very gratifying encouragement from the parties to whom she was accustomed to dispose of the produce. She had a great number of cows, of which during his residence at Bremgarten, and more for amusement than anything else, Edwin Herbart assumed the management- that is, he superintended the milking opera- tions which were now performed by assigned servants, men who had learned the art in England. He arose at sunrise, mounted his horse, scoured the bush in search of the stray cows, and brought them home to the yards. If they were refractory, he brought them to their senses by a gallop and a few strokes of his stockwhip. If the calves were to be branded or a pair of bullocks to be broken in, or a number of cattle to be driven to a sale, he was always ready and willing to perform the duties. He became, in fact, Mr. Max- well's right-hand man, to use it colloquial expression. He also assisted his cousin Charles in the managemnent of the sheep, and accompanied him in various hunting excur- sions. Sometimes parties of pleasure were formed and picnic entertainments arranged on pur- pose to brush off the cobweb of care, and tinge with the charm of novelty the mono- tony of life in the bush. On such occasions Griselda, accompanied by her brother and Edwin, would proceed on horseback to Clifton Hall, and being joined by Miss Earlsley and her sister would pursue, never dreaming of danger, an erratic course through the forest, cross the river at Kangaroo Billy's Ford, and charge right up to the dwelling of the pork loving bachelor of Skittle Ball Hill. Upon one remarkable occasion they found the guileless Juniper in the act of frying a Johnnie cake ; the word was passed, and Johnnie cake became the order of the hour. Poor Juniper was kept going till his face was the color of a well-burnt brick. Charles Maxwell, who delighted in fun, kept the fire liberally supplied with wood ; Edwin assiduously danced attendance with a dish of mutton fat, from which he occasionally launched big lumps into the hissing pan ; Griselda, who partook but sparingly of the cake in question, yet enjoyed the sport, was prevailed upon to insert her delicate fingers in the dough. Miss Caroline Earlsley sug- gested coffee, and the idea was hailed with delight. Coffee was made. Mr. Juniper begged to apologise for the absence of his cook: he (Mr. Juniper) hated cooking, and had starved for the last three days on Johnnie cake and tea, because his amiable cook was drunk. " I like Johnnie cake," said Charles, with his mouth full, " and the best man to make Johnnie cake that I know of in the world is Mr. Juniper : when I eat a Johnnie cake made by that master hand, I don't want to eat anything more for four-and-twenty hours !" " They're so beautifully cooked," said Edwin. " And so fat ; they're perfectly prime," said Charles. " And as for the coffee," said Caroline Earlsley, " it is coffee, such bewitching strength, such a delicious aromatic flavor : I really think that Mr. Juniper is perfectly clcver at coffee." " At drinking it, I suppose you mean, Caroline," said Miss Earlsley. " At making it, I mean," replied her sister. " I suppose you roast your own coffee, Mr. Juniper ?" " I do, Miss, and if you can suggest any improvement I'll be proud to adopt it," said Juniper. " There is no room for improvement, it is perfect," said the young lady. " Did you ever eat one of Mrs. Earlsley's wattle-bird pies ?" asked Juniper of Edwin. " No, I have not yet had that pleasure," replied that young gentleman. " Then, Sir, you have a pleasure, to come ; I never tasted anything better in my life." " Mamma would be very proud if she heard you say so, Mr. Juniper," said Caroline. " It is quite true, Miss ; I never could make out how your mother manages to make such beautiful flaky pie-crust." " I can tell you," said Caroline. "She rolls the paste out into layers about as thin
as a sixpence, and before she puts them together she rubs them all over with olive oil by means of a feather from the wing of a grey old gander." " O, for shame ! Caroline," said Miss Earlsley, " you know she does nothing of the kind : she puts in plenty of butter, Mr. Juniper, or lard will do quite as well. And I think we have plagued you enough, it is time to go." Juniper, who had been hitherto employed with his frying pan, now turned round " Why, bless my heart," he said, " you have not eaten the Johnnie cakes after all," and he eyed with an anxious air the plate with twelve or fifteen cakes piled on it in the middle of the table. " Never mind," said Charles, " we have helped you to make a good supply—no trouble in cooking any more now for a week at least. Good by, Mr. Juniper." " Good by, Mr. Juniper," was echoed by the ladies, and Griselda added, " Come over to tea to-morrow evening, Mr. Juniper, we are going to have a little party ; Mrs. Earlsley and her daughters are coming. It will be my birthday." " And may you see many happy returns of it, Miss Maxwell," said Juniper : " I will be happy to go, thank you ; but I expect I will have to go to Avoca first to get my cook out of trouble." With many laughs at Mr. Juniper and his plate of Johnnie cakes the happy party cantered away down the hill, crossed the ford at a splashing pace, left Griselda at home, and rode on to Clifton Hall,—the young men being bound, of course, to see the Misses Earlsley safe to their father's door. The morning of Griselda's birthday, which was doubtless a bright and sunny day in England, was in Tasmania miserably wet, cold, and foggy. At nine o'clock a horse and gig were observed to stand at the door of Mrs. Trapfarthing's hotel at Avoca, and two gentle- men issued from the house, making prepara- tions to take their seats in the vehicle. The first who emerged was a young man, fashion- ably and expensively dressed, whose fine black broadcloth was encumbered with a massive gold chain, from which an ornamented watch-key hung suspended below the ex- tremity of his well shaped waistcoat. He was of a tall, handsome figure, and his face sufficiently well-looking to win favor for its possessor in the eyes of many, even if all other appliances were wanting. But the diamond that sparkled in the head of the gold pin which was negligently stuck into the bosom of his shirt, and the jewelled rings which could be seen on his fingers as he drew on a pair of thick leather gloves before taking the reins and whip into his hands, told plainly that the face, handsome as it was, was ren- dered doubly attractive by a well filled-purse. He was followed by a short elderly gentleman, from under whose dandy hat a few stray locks of very snowy hair peeped out at various distances, and whose fresh-colored jolly-look- ing face was ornamented with a formidable nose, on and about the tip of which the carbuncles had assumed and long maintained a rosy, if not a crimson—indeed, perhaps sometimes a purple hue. He was closely wrapped up in a comfortable great coat, and as he followed his younger companion, was endeavoring with great exertions and only partial success to adjust a small but very rich Indian shawl round his neck in order to protect his throat from the effects of the in- element fog that now sat upon the face of nature. While the first individual occupied himself in examining the horse and harness, the old gentleman growled audibly as he strove to make his hands meet behind his neck—" Aye, as selfish as a cow over a bucket of turnips to the last : never thinks of help- ing his old father until after his help isn't wanted." " Allow me to assist you, Sir," said the obsequious landlady, who happened to over- hear the old gentleman's remark. " The morning is cold, Sir, and gentlemen of your age would always do well to take care of themselves and keep themselves well ropt up from the frosty winds." " Yes, ma'am," replied the old gentleman, " I beg you will be good enough to turn those ends round my neck—don't be in a hurry, if you please. I'm neither so young nor so active now as I was when I rushed into the ranks of the enemny at Porto Novo, and helped Sir Eyre Coote to drive back the Indian tiger, Hyder Ali, growling to his jungle again." " Is it possible, Sir, that you fought with a tiger ?" said Mrs. Trapfarthing. " A tiger, Ma'am !" said the stranger, " yes Ma'am, with both brute tigers and human tigers—with a thousand of them, and would again. Show me the man that in- suits the widow, that bullies the weak, or plunders the poor, and see if I won't make a pretty ridiculous object of him in a consider- ably short space of time !—Not so tight, if you please, I wasn't born to be hanged, and have no fancy for being strangled—prefer being honorably stuck like the great Julius at any time." " I beg pardon, Sir, I hope that will do ;" said the fat landlady. " That will do, thank you ;" said the old gentleman. " We are ready to start now, father," said the young gentleman. " Did you ask for directions to Mr. Max- well's place, Sir ?" asked the elder in an em- phatic tone. " No, I thought you were asking for them ;" replied the younger. " You thought—you're always thinking of something, and never doing anything. I don't know what on earth will become of you when I'm laid under the sod. Does it never occur to you that in going through life it would be right to make sure of the bread before you begin to sing out about but- ter ?" " Will you be good enough," said the younger gentleman addressing the landlady,
" to direct us to Mr. Maxwell's resi- dence ?" " Better late than never, as said to my- self once when I sank up to my chin in a bog, and found the bottom at last ;" growled the senior. " The second turn off the main track to the left, Sir ;" said the landlady with a sweet smile. " Thank you ; now father, will you get up ?" The old gentleman after nodding a familiar good by to the landlady, clambered up to his seat and they drove on. The travellers maintained silence for a con- siderable time, the road being tolerably smooth ; but when they entered the thicker parts of the forest it became rough with the roots of trees, tussocks of grass, and stones. The old gentleman, to whose mind the shak- ing of his body evidently communicated no very amiable temper, said to his com- panion— " Don't drive so fast ; one would think you were going to pick up a Field Marshal's baton, you are in such a hurry—a thing, by the way, you're by no means likely to pick up. I wonder when this infernal journey will be over ; nothing but jolt, jolt, shake, shake, bad roads and worse driving day after day." " The roads are bad, and I can't drive any better," replied the young man. " Can't drive any better !" said the old gen- tleman, staring steadfastly at his son from under his bent brows ; " can't drive any better. Oh ! one is never too old to learn something now. Your favorite word can't is not likely to accelerate your progress either in the eyes of brave men or fair ladies. There I could'nt you have avoided that stone It is only the trouble of drawing the rein this way or that way, and you won't take that trouble. You are, to speak plainly, without any exception the greatest fool I ever had anything to do with." The young man kept his temper wonder- fully well, considering the ferocity with which he was attacked, and merely replied " That is plain speaking with a vengeance ; wish you would drive yourself, Sir ; you may be sure I will not return you your com- pliments." " Wonderful spirit !" said his father, ironi- cally ; " what next ? If you can't drive a gig clear of a rock on a bush road in Tasmania, where you are not hemmed in by trees or precipices, be so good as to inform me what you can do ? You would have been a valu- able assistant to Robert Clive in the defenice of Arcot, where your grandfather fought like a lion and had his head cut open in fifty places, when a hundred and twenty Euro- peans and two hundred Sepoys held their own against ten thousand men under Rajah Sahib, of whom one hundred and fifty were French soldiers ; and when half dead with hunger the Sepoys of the garrison went to Clive in a body, not to transfix him with their bayonets, or to beg him to surrender, but to tell him to keep all the rice for him- self and his countrymen, and give them only the water in which it had been boiled ! And when the Rajah, tired of the struggle, offered large bribes to Clive, were they not rejected with scorn ? When he sent word that he would storm the fort and not leave a man in it alive, what was the answer he got ? That his father was an usurper, that his army was a rabble, and that he had better think twice before he sent such poltroons into a breach defended by English soldiers." The young man made no reply, thinking probably that the ill-humor of his venerable parent would be likely to exhaust itself if suffered to take its own course. The old gentleman accordingly relapsed into silence, and continued quiet for some time, until an other jolt over a small stump set him going again. " I believe the shades of Hades could'nt shew more beastly roads than the people of this place can, after having had the benefit of prison labor for so many years. It is quite clear that there is no Clive or Warren Hast- ings here, or the labor of the prisoners would have been more wisely directed. To travel in a country like this a man must have the energy of Agathocles, who crossed over to Carthage on a hostile excursion, and burnt his fleet to deprive himself of the power to go back again,—and the bones of a Hannibal, who walked over the Alps, crushing the rocks to pieces before him by means of bul- lock drays loaded with wood for fires and rum puncheons filled with vinegar. And to settle down in a place like this, with these black miserable hills on each side, and this foggy forest that's enough to give one the hor- rors for a century, people must be natural born fools or idiots to do such things. I thought Maxwell had more sense. It is to be hoped that the intellect of his fair daughter is not thrown back to a level with that of Agrippina, the wife of Ahenobarbus, who, when she presented him with a son, told his friends that whatever sprang from him and Agrippina was sure to be the ruin of Rome, and sure enough the young hopeful gained a splendid immortality under the name of Nero. If the contemplated union between you and Miss Maxwell is to be so fruitful as that, you will do well not to proceed further in the business, but leave the country the same empty-headed, cigar- smoking coxcomb of a would-be Benedick that you were when you landed in it." Here the old gentleman indulged in a low chuckle, and the young one looked as if he could without much remorse upset his redoubtable sire into a sand-pit, but he made a feeble attempt to whistle an air, and at last gulped down his indignation in silence. " Young men like you," said the elder after a slight pause, "are never satisfied until they rush blindly and stupidly, and without any sort of a patient investigation whatever, into any trap or snare that can be set for them either by their own feelings and passions or by the cupidity and trickery of
others (though I exonerate Maxwell and his daughter from everything of that kind), and lo ! as soon as they're safe in the net, they find on a sudden that they have lost their liberty —tied, in fact, to a woman's apron string—and may spend their whole lifetime afterwards in wishing that they had'nt been and done it in such a hurry. Of what use let me ask you, is a man in this world if he cannot look before he leaps ? Of what use, is the man who, not possessing two ideas of his own to throw together and compare one with the other, will obstinately shut his ears to the advice and remonstrances of men old enough to be his grandfathers, who have forgotten more sound sense and knowledge than he is likely to pick up even if he lived like Sir Isaac Newton, picking up pebbles on the sea shore all his life—who, not satisfied with going the downward road to poverty by an easy and gradual descent like a pleasant avenue winding down into a pretty valley, must needs set spurs to his jackass and make his exit all at once and with a crash, while one would be saying ' snuff.' Of what use is it to speak to such a man ? I don't say you're such a man and I don't say you're not, but you have many things to learn yet, and amongst the rest is patience ; the patience that won for Cromwell and Marlborough their victories and renown, and enabled Gib- bon to wade through oceans of books and write his inimitable history for twenty years ; the patience that taught the second great Governor of India to wait for his wife, while he was accumlating influence and power, to be divorced from a husband who sold her to him in a private bargain as I would sell a monkey. Aye, those were the pleasant days to which old memories love to cling. I was present at the marriage of Hastings with the Baronesss Imhoff, and at the ball which fol- lowed it, when a scene occurred that I never can forgot ; when the Governor went himself and brought in General Clavering, more dead than alive, out of his bed—whom he had brow-beaten in council and deprived of the Governorship by his superiority of mind merely to pay homage to his bride, whose other husband had only turned his face to England a day or two before ; and what a talk there was when we buried poor Claver- ing in a few days with military honors. I little thought then that I should live to travel in a mountainous, rascally, cut-throat hole like this, with hills that look as if nothing but ink had rained on them since they were created ; amongst regiments of scoundrels in yellow uniforms, with the cymbals and triangles of the gibbet sounding about their legs—and driven over the cursed roads at which St. Thomas a'Becket would have rapped out his choicest oaths, by a whip that thinks of any- thing but what he ought to think, and would drive into it coal pit, supposing there was one, with his eyes wide open." The young man smiled though gloomily, but said nothing, being content to give his father full liberty of speech unquestioned, while he tried to whip a little more life into their jaded horse. The old gentleman again relapsed into silence, which continued until the younger traveller perceived the second turn to the left, which would lead them, as the landlady of the inn said, to Mr. Maxwell's house. It was not long before they discovered the house itself and drove up to the door, with- out a welcome even from the watch-dogs. Having descended from their gig, the two now arrivals now stood at the door, the one knocking at it with his knuckles, the other thumping with his whip handle. In due time, although the old gentleman, after and in spite of his long lecture on patience, manifested a very impatient spirit, a slow step was heard in the passage and the door was opened by a female servant, who seemed considerably astonished at the sight of the two strangers. " Does Mr. Maxwell live here ?" asked the old gentleman. " Yes. Sir," said the servant. " Is he at home ?" " No, Sir." " Is Mrs. Maxwell at home ?" " No, Sir." " Is Miss Maxwell at home ?" " No, Sir." " Come, now, like a clever wench, and tell us in the name of Old Nick, but take your time over it, who is at home ?" " They went up along the river a while ago, Sir, to meet Mrs. Earlsley, I think." " You think ! you're a good and apt creature at the profession of thinking. Do you think you could manage to tell a man to take our horse, to show us into the parlor or the kitchen yourself, and give us something to eat and to drink ? I don't think your master will be angry when he comes home." " Please to walk in, Sir, and I'll go and look for a man." The old gentleman walked into the parlor and threw himself on the sofa, but his son staid outside to watch the horse till a man should come and take him ; but no one ap- pearing he at last led the animal round to the back yard himself, where he met the servant woman, who explained that the men were all away and no one on the place but herself. The young man consequently found himself compelled to occupy his jewelled fingers in taking the animal out of the gig and making him comfortable in the stable. When he entered the parlor he found his father stretched on the sofa nearly asleep. The servant-woman entered after him and asked whether she should make tea, as master and missis being both out she could not get any wine. " And when will your master and missis be in ?" said the old gentleman, rising. " O, very soon, Sir ; perhaps in two hours," said the woman. " Very well, we can wait two hours, but mind you may think about getting something ready, for I've lived eighty years in the world and don't intend to be starved out of it —do you hear me plainly ? You seem to be in a hurry."
" Yes, Sir," said the woman, as she disap- peared. And we will also leave the two visitors to themselves for the present. (To be continued.)