Chapter 52443276

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Chapter NumberPART III. IV
Chapter Url
Full Date1893-04-08
Page Number3
Word Count4804
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleMorning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1878 - 1954)
Trove TitleUnder the Great Seal
article text






Author of *' Clytie," " By Order of the Car,"

"John Needham's Double," "Cruel Lon- don," fcc.





Ode of the sharpest agonies of shipwrecked men afloat is the passhig of ships whose look- out they have been unable to attract. Tho morning has come with a cry "A sail, a sail !" The day has been spent in making signals. The night Ivas fallen with thc sea once more a watery desert.

David Keith and his companion, Matt White, of thc Welsh Rack, lian no means of signalling.

They had neither mast nor oar. They were adrift upon the ocean without any pawer to direct or control their boat. Matt would stand up now and then and wave a handker-


Be did this, however, more by way of com- forting his companion in misfortune than with any hope of winning the attention of anything or anybody within their horizon of vision. Futkerniore, he gave David the benefit of hie nautical observations aa to their latitude and longitude, and by the help of his knife be con- trived to turn one of the bout's seats into a rudder, with which be professed to steer the boat, telling David that all they had to do was to keep in thc track of ships.

Mutt White was a kind-hearted old fellow, and without the slightest faith in the possi- bility of their being picked np, he nevertheless encouraged his younger companion to hope, for he argued, as if thc idea had only just occurred to any human being, that while there was life a man had no right to despair.

Matt knew he was doomed. He had said so before sailing. He bsd predicted the loss of the Morning 6tar. lt iras a cruel law that compelled a man to go on board a doomed ship. What were omens fori he argued. They were to guide the mariner. Why did cats meet a man when be was seing on board ? and why did pigs also give warning ! because they were so ordained ; and as for a dream, why it was nothing short of impiety to disre- gard the forecast of a voyage when it was accompanied with other algos and tokens of disaster. But there, it was all over, the ship had gone, the captain who wouldn't be advised and the mate and all the crew, except him and thc one passenger : and all they had to do was to wait God's own time, and hope for the


Not exactly ia these words, but to this effect, Matt White communed with himself while David slept ; and curiously enough the fed slept for many hours after the boat began to drift away from the scene of the wreck. On the other hand, Matt White could not sleep à wink. He watched and talked, grew hungry and athirst, fancied bc saw sails when the sea was as empty of them as his own hopes, much as he pretended to the contrary.

The sun was hot all day, and at night the breeze was sultry. On the next day there was a thunderstorm. The sea was not rough. It rose and fell with a strange uniformity of motton, without breaking. The rain' had assuaged the thirst of the two waifs of the sea. Matt hud caught it in his hands and laughed

over it. He hod been more or less feverish from the first David had held his face up to the great tropic-like drops, and was re-


One desire satisfied, then came hunger. Theuextduy was burning hot. The sun seemed

to fire the waters. There was no stir in the air. Matt said auother storm was brewing. At night there came a heavy mist. It broke now and then into ghostly form. David once more slept, but awoke every now and then feeling faint and weak. He tried to rise, and j found that his limbs were stiff and painful. ] Matt was always busy, whether David slept or not. He would shade his eyes with his bands and look out into the night just as fae did when he could see in the daytime. Then ne would mumble and chuckle. Once ho

awoke David with his singing. It was an old sea-song that he was trying to remember, ever harking back for the words, and always chuckling when be thonght he bad snatched them out of his fading memory. j . On the third day David felt as if he were dying, so weak, so hopeless, so empty, so im

capable of .thought, J

He lay with open eyes in the stern of the' boat watching Matt, who was in * raging fever. It was his particular mania in these last hour» to fancy every cloud a sail. He hailed them with cries and laughter. He thought they signalled him. He answered them ; he shouted the name of the foundored vessel ; at least he thought he shouted it ; but his voice was a hoarse whisper; bis tongue clove to the roof of his mouth.

After an hour or two cf this mad exercise, waving his arms and answering -signals, he suddenly flung himself into the sea. . David had,neither the strength nortbc inclination' to attempt his rescue.. He stared vacantly at the empty place which Matt White had filled a moment before, and then shut his eyes as be thought-if he thought at all-in death. He

remembered no more until he found himself in the cabin of an Italian vessel homewaid bound for Venice.

When he awoke he thought he was in Hartley's Row ; then he thought be wss on thc Morning Star af ter ri bad dream. Trying to move he felt hie body stiff and sore, He

looked round the cabin and noticed that there was another bunk in it, and that by bis side were medicino bettlos, and wine glasses and a soup basin. He turned over and tried to collect his faculties Tbe effort was too much for him, and it was many hours before he again became sensible of his surroundings.

It was one of theso curious tricks of Fate that are common enough, however startling they may seem, that Aluu Keith should have been sitting on the quay when the captain of the barque Eldorado walked by with a yonng fellow leaning upon his arm. They were on their woy to a certain charitable refuge for unfortunate sailors, the boy being no other than Alan's son, whom Father Lavello was moville; heaven and earth tn timi, and for whom the released prisoner of Tafilet hod bogan to build castles in tho air.

Silting there upon the quay while David flossed, tic was apparently watching the ncw y moored ship, with the busy coining and go- ing of sailors and merchants, or looking out over the broad lagoons ; but in reality Alan saw none of the sights that lay immediately under his eyes, heard none of the various rounds all about him. He saw a grave in the bosom of Heart's Content ; he saw several cairns at the base of Demon's Rock ; he saw bet» ecu the outlet of t hc cavern and the log hut where he and Preedie, and his companions of the captured Anne of Dartmouth bad wiled away the winter, a certain clump of trees sud rocks where he had buried his own

^honest savings apart from the piratical plunder of the Bristol trader, thc St Dennis, and other prizes. It was some lialf-recogtiiBed instinct of honour that had induced lum to keep Iiis own money apart from the treasures of the crews ; it might have beeil conceived in thc spirit of fair play with the view to the ultimate division stipulated for in the articles of agree- ment between him and his men. Some vague idea of devoting this honest «old to thc memory of his wife may have influenced him. Rut ÜB he sst on this bright wintern dny, re- gardless of thc chill air that came in little gusts of searching winds from the Adriatic, apparently much engrossed in the Eldorado or tho shivering lagoons, he experienced no particular feeling in regard to the difference between the treasures in Wilderness Creek and the hidden box on the way to the hut with its surrounding bit of garden, now no doubt wiped out with weeds, and shrubs, and underwood of all kinds. He felt a craving to unearth the strange'jumble of gold aaa precious stone*, pf «Iver cups and golden on».

mente, of lace« and «Uk», .and other textiles embroideries, and strange spices.

His memory carried him bask with eungala] clearuoss, and considering all that had hap pened, he had not the remotest doubt tba' he was the sole inheritor of the secret trsa

sures. ,

Once a transient shadow of fear crossed hil mind in the form of Lester Bents, and even ii his present penitential mood he wished he hat killed him. At the same time he came to th« conclusion that Bencz could not possibly hav< known of the hiding of the treasure, and il seemed to him that making them part of thi dead, giving them memorial« of mortality, was a sufficient disguise for all time, apatl from the inaccessibility of the spot, and thi superstitious dread which belonged t< Neequappe and Doinon's Ridge.

" My son," ho said to himself, as he wan dered homewards, taking the narrow, uufre quentedwaVB of thc city, and pausing uow and then to exchange some curióos or friend!) greeting, "my son David, it is time that yt came for your inheritance ; I canna live rauch longer; I feel ghostly warniu's, noo that ] hae made my peace wi' Almighty God and Hie Blessed Son, lt's like I mae be oaa'd al ony moment; it's borne in upon my distracted mind that I'll see thee soon, and I ken thy face, my dear, as weet as If Td seen it a' mj days ; I hae sien it i' spirit, 'thy mitherleadin thee by the hond and say in' in her.siu sweel heavenly voice, ' Alan love, thia ts David oui dear son!'" That night in his dreamt Alar saw his wife and son again, and this time David was no longer wet with the damps and

weeds of the sea.

A strange unrest took possession of hun after this. He wandered forth into the cold

night, took Atilio'a boat and rowed hinmell down the Grand Canal, und let the wind tosí him upon tile waves of the incoming tide a wa j past thc quay where the Eldorado was lying, and out upon the lagoons towards the Lido. The thunder of the Adriatic beating upon the sandy barriers within which slept the ocean city, recalled to him the rollers of the Atlantic outside the barbour of Wilderness Creek.

It was on the next day that the English Consul, who had taken an interest in Fathei Lavello'a inquiries, called upon him at hit temporary lodging in Veolce, to acquaint him with thc landiug of a young Englishman who

said his name was David Keith, and that he had been picked up in an open boat on the homeward voyage of the Eldorado, famished with cold «nd hunger, and for « time thought to be dead. He had, however, survived hit terrible privations, and was now in kindly hands at the sailors' retreat near the Arsenal.

Father Lavello went at once to investigate this information, which seemed to him nothing short of miraculous; though to be sure, it might have chanced that some other ship had picked up the lad and taken him to some other port. The consul said something noble in the aspect of thc young fellow, despite his miserable plight, had stimulated the usually benevolent sentiments of sailors.towards any unfortunate victim of the sea ; and for him- self he was bound to say .that lie also was much impressed by the lads handsome face and dignified figure.

They had dressed him in sailor garb, some tiling between a pirate and a blue-jacket, and the highest compliment they could pay him was to say that tie was the bean ideal of an Italian youth, his hair black, and bis eyet dark and soft, his face of an olive complexión, and his form as lithe os that of a young fawn. A Moravian from the Lido who visited thc house of charity said he was worthy to be the hero of a poem by their great und learned Byron, who some yean previously had lived among them, glorifying their language and worshiping Venice,

Perhaps the Moravian found au added beauty in David for the reason that tbeyonnji fellow was a Protestant, and while respectfnl to the priests let »bein understand that he and bis were ¡ol the Reformed faith. Rut

Father Lavello found the bo>; tolerant and gentle, the more so when he informed him, that he had known Iiis mother and father, had confessed them in the days «f theil courtship, and blessed them at the altar of the Holy Catholic Church whoo,they became mau

and wife.

".That ia," said the cure, "if you are, as 1 make no doubt, the eon of Alan und Hanuah Keith, of Heart's Delight."

"So. far os I know," said X)avid, "lam. Miss Mumford, who nursed me and carried me to England, told me so, and I was on my way to Newfoundland to claim my patrimony when I was wrecked." *

"Indeed ; you liad Borne special authority,!' "The authority of the.trustees under the will of my grandfather, David Plympton."


" Proved, I believe, in the Courts by my chief, Mr. Waveny Petherick, ol Yarmouth.

"Yes," Baid the priest, "with whom you

were ai tided to the law?'

" You seem to know me well," said David, smiling. " lt is strange to ba shipwrecked and brought into Venice to meet cae who know my parents and who haslcnowledge ol me also/' . _

"It ls," said the ?priest;'*'ind'who until lately bad kept tracc.^of yod and tecord for the sake of the old daysyhênyaà 'were an infant,, and your father .alid motlier were members. of rbis flock, .8ttaugeT,;X!e8, < the ways'of Ood ore strange-to mortal oían, 4 the prayers of your .saintly mather liave been beard,'her utercessionhas Wrns fruit; for the Almighty Eather is no respecter .of persons where the holy intercession of the Blessed Virgin is obtained, and her voice can prevail even though the sinner be Protestant and outside the pale. Nay, my son, spare me thy ?answer, . Let us give Almighty God thanks for this miracle of thy preservation."

David felt himself subdued hy the earnest words and manner of the priest, only ven- turing to remark that he hoped he had been spared for some good work bi the world.

" A pious and worthy ambition," said the priest, "and be sure it is so; your future should bo remarkable for good ^ for you have been miraculously saved, and for such a meet- ing in this city of marvels as your wildest dreams can hardly have forecasted. That you are a Protestant, and desire it to be so known argues a certain piety ; it is thc man of no religion, the iufidel,. the scoffer, for whose soul thc Church IB most solicitous. You have prayed to God ? You have thanked God for your deliverance ?"

" Yes, with all my heart and soul," said David, catching something'of the religious tone of thc priest's maimer; "surely the

worst af Goa's creatures would huve done that, had he I reen raised from thc dead as I have been, for my preservation almost amounts . to that, the doctor said -so only yesterday when we parted ; end,- in truth, when I last shut my eyes in that boat at sea, it was to die, and when I awoke, it was as if I had been dead and come to life again."

" Was lost and is found, was tiead and is alive again," said the priest

.' I wish your reference spplied in full to my case, sir," said David, " even though I should he called a prodigal and had herded with

swine. "

" Who shall say what a merciful and all-see- ing God may not have in store for you ! I svm surely Hin messenger to you in this miraculous deliverance. Are you strong enough to receive tidings of as great joy as that of your own deliverance to those who shall learn of it when most they think you lost? Your foster inbther for example." '

"And the girl who is hetrothed to me," said David, " they will hear of the loss of the Morning Star, and ic will break their hearts."

" We mutt take tneaus to acquaint them of your safety," said the cuni, " I wUl obtain

the aid of the British Consul for that purpose

without delay."

" Tliauk you, oh, thank you," said David, more deeply moved than he had yet shown


" You are very young to marry ?" said the priest.

" When one loves sincerely, and Elmira's father is willing, and my foster mother approves, and Mr. Waveny Periieiiek does not objeot, and one eau provide a home, a year one «ny or thc other is tra serious


. .David made this statement rather in the

way of asking a question than propounding


"Perhaps sot," said the curé, "since yo are so far pledged, let ns hope there can fae n other objection."

" What a blessing it is that my Londo trustee sailed before me, or rather not in th Morning Star. Ho was to prepare the wa for my coming, and meet the Morning Star e Halifax."

"It canna be but thc Divine hand i

strongly in all this," said the euri ; " bu you did not answer me 1 Are you stron enough to receive a further shock, not an ur happy one, but a shook ; I am something of physician, let me see."

He took David's band and felt his pulse " We must not put you back into a fever. I little rest and I will come to you again."

"I am strong enough for anything, sir, said David, " have no fear for me ; I think have passed a physical examination tim should answer for mc. You have sometían, strange to tell me, something you are unxiou to disclose, what is it !"

David drew himself up and faced thc priest recalling to Father Lavello the figure of th settler who, in the stormy days of Heurt' Delight, defied Admiral Rist&cki and softeuei only at thought of his saintly wife, the roa of that desert by the sea.

" I will take you at your word. Put lld cloak about you and come with me."

The cuni took up a cloak that waB banging upon the wall and they went out together.

" The air is chilly," said the priest, " it i not always summer even in Venice."

He beckoned for a gondola. David took i seat in the gloomy lookins boat. The pries following directed the solitary gondolier t< tile Turkish I'aluce ; and sat silently con teinplating the water und the procession c buildings with their vistas of hack-cunals and collecting his thoughts for the cuminj

interview of father and son.

Alan Keith sat smoking in hut decayed ye palatial room. He had folded his loni gaberdinish coat about him ; round his neel was loosely wrapped a crimson silk scarf. Hi was sitting in a tall arm chair that had ai elaborately carved back. At his elbow was I small table upon which lay an open book The room was large, with pillars and i vestibule at one end, and an alcove-bed a the other, where Alan was sitting. Thc wall were gay with the colours of half defacei frescoes. There were heavy tapestriec portiers over the doorways; and smal windows here and there blinded with dust The marble floor was in lovely tone from ai artistic point of view, and it was covered hen and there with mats and rugs.

"Alan," said the Priest, having biddei David remain within the shadow of the vesti bule, "our prayers and the intercession of yow saintly wife with the Holy Mother of Got bave prevailed."

Alan turned his bright eyes towards thi priest as if inviting further speech.

"Be calm, dear friend," Was the curé'


" I am calm," said Alan, laying down bi long pipe. " What is it Ï"

"God has sent your son to Venice," sail the priest.

" Praised be His holy name I" Alan replied The priest stepped back to beckon David

who came forward.

"This is your father," said the priest.

" David, I expected you," said the father conti oiling himself with a mighty eflort, bu only for a moment. " I expected you !"

David looked at his father, and a shar] cry of surprise escaped him.

" Oh, my God !" Alan exclaimed, steppinj towards the boy and opening his arms David burst into tears and buried his face ii the old man's neck.

Father Lavello stealthily withdrew.

Alan rocked the tall fellow in hts arms am crooned in a pathetic way over him for soiw moments ; and then thrust him apart to go» ripon him.

"My dear David, my son, my tin son what a miracle ! After a' these heart bl eakin years to see ye in the flesh, to hear you voice ! Eb mon, but I hae nae heard you; voice. Speak tome, David."

" Father," said the lad.

" Aye, but gae on ; tell me where ye ha. come f rae, talk to roe ! I hae hard wark t< keep myself frae yellin' oot like a maniac, "

"Sit down, father," said David, "ant calm yourself."

" Don't leave me, lad I" exclaimed Alan "where's your mither? Hannah, ye bai brought him hame, but ye hoe left- us !"

Alan sat down in bis ¿bair again, still keep

in« David's band in bis.

' David looked round the room, and felt tm as if he might have lost his senses, as if hi had eaten of the insane root, so many strang, tilings bad happened to him since he went bj

coach to Bristol and took his berth on boin the Morning Star.

"Forgive me. David, if I amna quit) myscl'. Ye see your sainted initiier liai brought ye to me sae often in my dreams thal it seems os if she too might be here, though 1 ken weel enough she's dead and buried yean and years agone. Mae, lad, I'll be myael' ii

a minute."

The garnit figure once more rose up anc stood by the side of the young, lithe waif o

the sea.

" Tek bond of my arm ; let UB walk aboul and pinch oorsels and be «ure we are awake,' be said, pulling the boy's arm within his owi and pacing the apartment with him.

"Ye think me a strange father; some o these foolish kind folk in this city call me thc mad Englishman ; I'm nae mod, David though I might ha' been excused for such a fa considérai' what I hue gane through. I'n; neither msd nor poor, David ; ye shall find I'm rich, my son, rich, far mair titan ever Lavello dreams ; I boc been waiting to tel] Î'o ; I hac toud them nought. Lavello kens «

ittle, but it's nought to what I hue got to tell ye, David ! But ye look faint, ye are nat strong, we'll hae some food and drink, Hello, there, Atilio, Terese. We'll kill thi fatted calf, David ; we'll open our best wini -we'll drink and bc merry- wa« lost and ii found-was dead and is alive again."

Once more overcome with excitement, Alar staggered back to his seat, and David soothed

him with filial words of comfort

" I'm justan aud fool," said Alun, presently. "I thought I was what thc priest ca's a stoic, ano; I'm just un aud fool. David, sit ye doon, and feel you're at hame, and I'll just mek un effort to be inysel'. Bli, but it's sae loni siu I had ye for a son. It just drives me wild

to think o' it."

Thc gondolier and his wife came running


"-Quick," suid Alan, "food and wine; all ye've gol : thc fatted calf-the best of every- thing ; UIÍB is my son."

He rose up with a haughty wave of his bony

hand as he made this declaration.

The Italian servante expressed their surprise and delight. Terese said tile young Signor was as tall os bis father. The gon- dolier told David that his father WUB the kindest man in thc world. Terese added that dinner was nearly ready and proceeded with Atilio's osBUtancc to drag forth a table near the stove and begin to lay the cloth. Father Lavello, as the servants withdrew, thought it a happy moment to return.

" Eh man," said Alan, " yelre just in time. Let me introduce ye-David, my son, this is my good friend sud confessor Father Lavello, wno kenned ye when ye were just n baby."

For thc moment Alun had forgotten that il wus the priest who had brought his son to


"My dear David Keith," said Ihecuré, "I congratulate you upon this happy meeting. "

" But I'm forgeeting," said Alan, " und ye mun forgie mc, for I'm a lectio beside myscl', it WBB you, dear friend, who found lii-n, you who have been God's instrument of kindness in a' this. Forgie me. David, I'd nivvcr a seen ye again but for Father Lavello. "

" The good fattier caine to mc ut the Home, where the captain secured roe a lodging," said David, "and lias earned my eternal gratitude."

"Herc's the dinner," said Alan, as tile servants came in with some smoking dishes. "Father Lavello, thia is tile feast, nae, I

I wilina say for the prodigal son, 111 just say

for thc prodigal father ; and I wish St was a better repast ; but we'll make up for it in the choicest Chianti. Come noo, let's fa' to. I ken this lost and is found, God bless him, is both ahungered and athirst."

Father Lavello asked a blessing upon the feast ; and the three fell to heartily.

During the meal, David, responding to his father's questions, gave him some particulars of his life and his adventure in tho Morning Star. Although he had spoken of Elmira to thc priest he mode no mention of her over dinner. Something made him pause when her name wes on his tongue. Ile felt as if the declaration of his engagement was now a matter to be privately mentioned to his father. Alan drew from the cure stories of their past experiences of Newfoundland, and Alan himself talked of Heart's Delight, and

wondered what it was like after ail those years !

He was much interested when David spoke of Miss Mumford, and Alan therefore re- pealed, not without some bitterness, tho story of his capture, and Pat Doolan's account, related to him long afterwards, of his rescue of Sally and Baby David from the King's buccaneering, law-powerful scoundrels. Ile

laid down Iiis knife and fork and listened with eyes and ears to David's account of Sally's home and Petherick'« office ; and every now and then in a kind of stage aside, when Father Lavello was most engaged with his meat and wine he would say to his son, " Bide a wee, my son, just bide a wee, and I'll tell ye a story that'll make the blood dance in your young veins. Bide a wee." David would nod knowingly in return, falling in with his father's humour, und putting his warning promise down to thc upset of their meeting.

But David had by no means taken thc measure of his father, Alan Keith ; nor had Father Lavello, his friend and confessor. In all hts dreams, during all his confessions, not in uuy single narrative of adventure, nor when most he appeared to be unburdening himself, had the mad Englishman of Venice disclosed the secret of the buried treasure of Wilderness Creek.

( To be continued. )