|Chapter Number||PART III. II|
|Chapter Title||A DREAMER OF DREAMS.|
|Newspaper Title||Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1878 - 1954)|
|Trove Title||Under the Great Seal|
TALES AND SKETCHES:1
[KOW FIRST PUBLISHED.]
UNDER THE GREAT SEAL,
BV JOSEPH HATTON.
Author of " Clytie," " By Order of thc Ciar,"
"John Needham'e Double," "Cruel Lon- don," 4tc
[ALL RKIHTS RESERVED.]
CHAPTER II.-A DREAMER OF DREAMS.
To listen to Father Larello, the robust uure of Verona, formerly the young enter- prising priest of Heart's Delight, was for many days thc height of happiness to thc iviry, quixote looking Alan Keith.
He lived again. The past came back to him without fte passion or ita pain. It was like a story told. He saw himself outside himself. ne was a looker-on, deeply interested, but only a looker-on. He loved that other Alan Keith for loving Hannah, to irtioin his «oui went back in worship and
Black, stormy clouds swept over his soul at thought of Bentz and Ristack, but they passed is quickly as they came, the sunshine prc loininated.
Father Lavelle was eloquent in dwelling ipon the mercy of God und the sympathy of the Holy Mother of God for Alan and the lear one who had gone before. He kept alane thoughts among the gentle places of the past, and the boundless love of Alan for lia wife filled so much of his vision in looking jack, that it sweetened the bitterness of his wul. His recollection of the early days of Efcart's Delight were now above all memories
he most vivid and real.
Alan told the priest of the visits of Hannah /> his dungeon, and the cure turned the tender aucies to good religious account. The mud Englishman soon became known es a devout Catholic. Thu faithful deemed this to be
implo evidence of his perfect sanity. Even a those days Venice had her scoffers, and the can and withered Englishman mortifying him leif was, to them, somewhat humourous in a rrim kind of way ; for most of the Church's levotees were snug and fat, and of contented Impositions ; whereas the mad Englishman «-as met at all hours in the city wandering, Irani church to church, from narrow footway to narrow square | while fishermen encount ired him at equally varied hours, plying the tandolo, that some good-natured citizen had lent him, now with oar or paddle, now ikimming along nuder sail, a veritable indent mariner, with sparkling eyes and thin
rrey locks that fluttered in the wind.
Father Lavello had been enabled to almost »inplcte Alan's story of thc secret harbour of Labrador, the wreck of the -St. Dennis, tho irrest of Plympton, his acquittal and death, ind the destiny of his son David and the »oman Hannah, in whoso charge the boy had Men left The cure's advice kept Alan still in Venice. He had agents who could follow ip the clue to Davide whereabouts, where they bad left it some dozen or fifteen years oreviously.
He had long ago been convinced of Alan's loath; other ties and responsibilities had liverted his attention from the story of David, his son. Heart's Delight and all that belonged to it had more or Tess faded away sxcept as incidental to his career. A cure in Verona, such ambition as be hod encouraged it Heart's Delight with dreamy vista* of new Bonqaests for the Church, had died cut. The priest's mind bod gradually taken up the Dolour and temper of bis environment. He lived a quiet reflective life, enjoyed his garden, drunk His white wine and red, confessed his flock, married them and buried them, visited his clerical neighbours, went on voluntary pilgrimages to monsstic establishment» where he was heartily welcome with his genial face and bis happy views of life ; and altogether had become a calm, contented, well-to-do cure with his little house, his careful old house-keeper, who was an excellent cook, his library, and his uniformly good health.
For a time he had been, however, greatly
moved at the meeting with Alan Keith. Like
his ola parishioner of Heart's Delight during their conversations, be felt some of the old passion of the colonial days, the inspiration of adventure horn of the Atlantic Sea. Once more be felt his pulse hurry on with remini- scences of the stirring episodes of the Fisheries, in summer, and winter stories by the Great House fire when the winds were raging without, making snow drifts mountains high in the valleys, and wrapping the shore as far as eye could see ia « vast winding
Furthermore his sense of the romantic had
been piqued by Alan's honest story of the idveuturers of Demon's Creek, though he had crossed himself many times during Alan's narratives of the capture of the Anne of Dartmouth, and the vengeance that had been reeked upon the three fishiog admirals.
Alan had to undergo certain incidents of prayer arid penance before the cure could feel justified in essuring him of that forgive- ness with which lie was empowered to consolo him in the name of St. Peter : all the same the good priest found himself sympathising with his penitent whoso confessional exercises were rather secular than religious, triumphant rather than humble and contrite. Alan was, however, as wax in the handB of the cure, so fares outward form and ceremony were con- cerned ; and once more he thought Hannah same to him and he dreamed the old dreams over again, the dreams that hail mad« life and his long imprisonment a possibility of life and sanity ; for as we know, however, Venice might agree with the Moorish gaoler in call- ing him mad, Alan hod given him ampio evidence of a strong power of mind that had enabled bim to withstand the breaking down
and ruin of bis mental faculties. It is not madness to dream ; it is madness not to dream.
" It wouldna a'been a matter for wonder if I'd gane clean daft, a Jack o' Bedlam," said Alan, in one of bis talks with the cure; "think o'it! Twenty years o' bondage ! First a slave, a Christian slave aiming blacks. Lastly, a prisoner, barely seeln tho leight for nigh upon ten year or mair ! I didna count tho time then, but 1'ic been reckoning thc year's ever since I gat free 1"
" It is terrible, said thc cure, " as you say it is wonderful that you have retained your reason, my poor dear friend ; but Christ and his Holy Mother have had you in their keeping. And how came you in the hands of
" Saving me from the sea and the jagged rocks divine Providence thocht reight to drop mc into the hands of what they call Riff pirates, trading in human flesh ; tiley mude nacdifferencebetween Christians andheathens, Europeans and Africans ; and I went wi' the rest ; ye'd u thocht if ye could just aseen mo, wi' nan mair flesh on my boneB than was enough tn haud them thigethcr, that thc in- human beasts would a let me free ; but nae os I tell ye I wont wi' thc rest !"
" My poor friend !" said the cure.
" lt is said there's nae depth without a lower, and its true ivvry word of it. Eh, how I sighed for thc days, o' the slavery ! When they shut me up between stuno walls, I
had noe idea how happy I'd been slavin' i' the i sun, tillln' the groond, carrying heavy loads, pulling an oar chained to the seat, getting now and then a bitter taste of blows, sleeping at neight wi' a shedfu' o' African niggers, and a'malst as many Europeans who like mysel, had once been white ! God, man, when I think o' it, I thirst for blood like a tiger turn'd to bay 1"
Alan torn open his oriental vest and robe as if be were choking, and paced the floor, animal-like, as if he were caged, the good priest slowly following him, uttering kindly and soothing word»..
" Forgive me !" said Alan, presently, " forgive me ! There arc times when the devil seems to tek lioud o' me, and upbraid me, that I didua find opportunity to cut thc throats o' them ! And, man, I did sock lt, hut they had the scent o' bludhouads for danger and all their watchfulness !"
?J^'There, there, my lim,' wy ¿ear old friend,]
be calm, sit down, urged the Brie«t,-the' thought poising through his mind that md be himself been more intentupon fto.toohnlosl observances of Holy Church he tolgmï!h|ye elected to pus his days lu some lonely «jaf|
"I ask your pardon," said Alan, "I anna' quite mysel at times, and nae wonder os ye, are guíe enough to say thinking o' the gude time I hoe wasted !" '
"Why did they detain you in prison?" asked the priest, deeply interested in Alan's story, whenever his strange friend wa» willing
to relate his adventures.
"Nae, I dinna ken ! I just expected they'd tek my heed off. Sometimes I wiso they had, saving your ri veraneo'» presence as puir Pat Doolan nsod to say, when he ootriged the decscipline o' the Church. Eh, hoo often I hae thocht o' those days of Hearty Delight, sometimes comln' tae regard them a'as just a dream, a siart o' life s man might bae leered before he was born ! D'ye nae ken yersel the day when ye've felt yo hae liv'd in anither warld, and that ye hoc been left somehow
behind in this ?"
" It ie the next world I'm most concerned
about," said the priest, again patting the old man's bony hand, and looking into the wander- ing eyes of his friend with compassion, and the wish to soothe und comfort him.
" Aye, ivvery man to his trade," said Alon, " but ye were usklng why they didna hang
" No, why they kept you in prison !"
"That's ane o' the puzzles I often axed mysel ! 1 earned naething for them in prison, I was just a wee bit usefu' coterie.' But ane o' my gaolers drops a hint ane day that by the Intervention o' the Christian powers, Christian Bia ves had been abolished, and ^hat even piracy had become a deeficult buSmees. Ye tee there had been some kind o' rebellion i' the laud ; a risin o' the tribes, and I had .lien a hand in lt, bein' suddenly freed for that purpose ; but it was just a narie, and I had nae time cether to get into the feight or run for liberty, before J was a prisoner in the bands o' the Sultan or the king, or wbativver they ca'd the turbanneù devil, and when I wouldna boo wi the rest, insteed o' baaing my bead chopp'd of, I was teen aside, and tay nationality bein' discovered by ene they ca'd an interpreter, I was released at a dave, and imprisoned os a traitor, or a foreign evy, or what ye will, God in heaven only koaws I dinna, but they kept me in the prison o' Tafilet. I gathered from my gaoler that I was regarded UB an uncanuie kind o' agent in the rising, a danger to what they ca'd the State, and being English a kind o feend either to kill or chain up and sac in merdfa con- sideration o' their victory they decided to chain me up, and shut me ootfrae the light o' heaven !" I wouldna abeen surprised gin they had seen me rise up from the coral strand tliat I was the very bend himself come to plague them. Eh but it Was just a wonderfu' thing how I made my'.way out o'
that fearsome watter wi' the rocks that jagged, you might a thought, eitii the evil one could nae hae survived them !
" Almighty God was good to you, iny ton," said the cure, ,'.
"I hae tried to think sae, my dear friend," Alan replied, "but what about the ithers
that perished Î"
" The Blessed Saints must have interceded for you," said the cure, "and Our Almighty Father had work for you who knows perhaps, for the glorification of his Church, for you were as I remember, my son, a brand snatched from the burning by the good influence of that saintly woman who was given to you ss a helpmate and companion."
"It passes belief that God could bee any work for sae poor a creature, for ane sae punished and persecuted," Alan answered, " and yet it was miraculous that I was resurrected, as you might say, from that liviu grave to be plunged intae anither and still be saved to sec ye once again in the flesh. While ivvery timber O'the ship won't to pieces and ivvery man o' the puir bodies' who had Bailed wi me and fonght wi me went to the bottom, I was lifted out o' thc breakers, and in the set tin o' the sun I rose reicht up, a' toro and ragged it ls true, wi bleedin bands and feet,lint I stood reight up a' the! same like a liviu pillar on a mighty plain o' ribbed sand ; and I started off to walk agin" the red bars o' the sun. On and on, the sand hot to my bleedin feet, a' the laud red wi' the last light o' the day. And when I reached the long, low-lyin city that I thought on as the New Jerusalem, a refuge and a oletsin, I had only risen from thc dead to fall ' into slavery, heathen slavery. I caine nigh upon cursing God and mysel-asking your rever- ence's pardon ! Noe dinna turn frae roe, I'm nae sae wicked as ye think !"
"You have been most unfortunate," aald the priest.
"From slavery to a freedom hardly woree, frae freedom to enforced service i' the field, teightin' for what I didna ken ; I only detired tobe free. The fiendBinuna smothered the voice o'my saintly intercessor at the mercy seat. It seemed that I couldna dee, for when I was healed o' my wounds and ootne, to ken mysel again 1 waa a prisoner,'.', what should hae been a hospital WAS a dungeon what should hae been air andean was just a stifling, pest and darkness. ? Is it, nae étrange I hoe the patience to tell ye o', my
" 1 he wonder is, ray. poor unhappy sou, that you do not proclaim them from the house- tops," the cure replied, affectionately press- ing Alau's bony hand.
" You were always kind, and considerate, my father," said Alun, his voice softening, his eyes moist w ith emotion, " and I em gratef u', dinna ye think Iainna; there ure times in this heavenly city wheu I forgot everything, savin' the sunshine, the blue skies, and the wondrous palaces, and whin I feel as if I had begun to walk thc sacred streets o' Paradise. D'ye mind the saintly, render wife I had out yonder in Heart's Delight! Ah, it was only she kept me free madness. She came to me and sal by me, and talked to me in her soft sweet voice, ana bad me be patient; and many'a the,#ime the gaoler looked as if he just envied me my chains when he heard my cheerfu' voice in responso to bera ; and he'd fairly :greet ' wheo I towd him who I lied visitin' mo, «nd thanked him for lettiu' her through the gates ; ch, but it was a sad day for me when the owd man deed and anither come i' his place who kenned usc Joseph, as the Scripture hath it !"
"It wan thc Blessed Mary that led her thither, my sou ; you bad prayed to the Holy Virgin !"
"I had prayed to Oort and the blessed Virgin, to blessed Michael the archangel, to the holy apoBtles Peter and Paul, and to all the saints I'd ever heard you name in those happy days in the little chapel lu the bay and the Great House inshore ; and I asked for Hannah, her name was on my lins in season and oot ; and one day or neight she came--I couldna much distinguish night frae day she caine with a great leight about her. I could see ivvery stone I' the slimy wall o' my cell, ivvery bit o' mortar and deevilish thing I hat crawlM there ; uud then lt a1 changed to the valley o' Heart's Conteut, and we sat outside thc tent thoy made her thorp, and I could see her gracious countenance 4& bear her heavenly voice, and feel her sorr
hand in mine ; una that wus happiness cnOiajtt to wipe out years o' misery ; and she camQ again and ngain day after day, and tho prison' walls fell down and we sat beneath the trees of Heart's Content; but sin I left ¿hat. boote o'
detention and sailed the sea and anchored inj
this haven that Is a sea and u city a' iajflj I nae had sight o' her but once !" Ja^afl
"You have seen her.again!", *aU~fl| priest. -'.-,,/'- *r
"Aye, ast neight of a' ithera ; but, it ls different frae thc prison und It was only in a dream ; she came to lue the nclgbtandtne lsd
a young man by thc hand ; he was-dipping wet wi thc sea ; 'twas a sailor ltd, ^ùd she said unto mc soft and low but Iq ulear.accents, impressive and deliberate, ' This tí fijar, dear sou David, be good tn hf in, ho Will tttsid your help and love.' At first I thought he.liiun Ira dead, but she smiled os if ehe Jame, my thought and said, ' No, he Uve* Tia»othen I woko and went forth ; it HUS break ojdayand Atilio wa« up and In his boat und lie'Jput her
head »boat sod mailed into the lagoons, ano the world wul^ubeautlra' beyond Imagina Mon, «nd I saM^o myeel Til see him here abouts, my4»t> son David, and the «-ind com, lng In from She bine sea I just thought answered mëÏBl said, yes ; and I felt that I Should Ion ium the moment I set eyes upon him, for the lad she held so tender-like by the hand badder winsome look in's eyes, and I
could remember my ain sel when like bim I gasijhat tall and straight, like a young poplar ttajurg In thc wind ; though now I look like IRK same tree blasted by the lightning, with bare,branches, a jest and a scarfing to those who hoe escaped the storms,"
"Not so, (fear friend, grey hairs are honour- able, and the lightning has not withered your heart, nor blighted your life. You nave sinned greatly."
"Aye* I know it !" said Alan.
"We have all sinned greatly," continued the priest, " but few have been punished upon earth as our Heavenly Father hath punished you ; and as I have already vouched for lt on your contrition, your resolution to sin no more, and your humble confession, your sins are for- given you. To-morrow in chapel, fitting time and place, we will speak further of thia Meanwhile, Atillo, you see, has laid thc cloth, and it is fitting we refresh the physical man."
"Aye, but ye tait me straight back to Heart's Delight !" said Alan, pushing his straggling hair from his forehead. "Yu always knew how to win a man from unhappy thoughts, how to soothe his tempor. Spiritual and pheesiea] I always said Father Lavello had nae equal on uirth ! Terese, bring the cheekkena. Atillo, pour out the wine,
The oure smiled and drew his chair to the table and talked of thc Austrians and the for- tunes of war, told stories of Venice when she was mistress of the seas, talked of Verona, and Coaxed his host buck from the hard lines
of his miseries into the genial atmosphere of
the Lion of St, Mark.
Father Lavello set bis agents in England to work finding ont David Keith ; and they
traced him to old Petherick'e at Yarmouth. It took months, however, to conduct the cor- respondence. While they were waiting for Information, Alan and Father Lavello made then- disposition, for the future of Alan's son and heir. The cure, with a righteous regard for higher powers than their own, tonk fre- quent occasion to warn Alan by reference to the past, that what might seem to man the most wise and v rtuous plans did not always I find favour with God. They had both good hopes, nevertheless, that Alan might-live to
embrace bis son and endow him with such of
his worldly goods os he deemed honestly come by, with a reversion of other treasures to the Berrica of Holy Mother Church.
Meanwhile, with the aid of a wise couuoillor and banker in Venice, Alan had been enabled to withdraw from the Bank of England a considerable sum of money that had lain there on deposit 'ince the days when David Plymp- ton had induced lils son-in-law to place there a part of Hannah's dowry sud certain savings
of his own.
It was fortunate for Alan that no legal or other record of his piracy had come between him and his written and duly wituessed order for his money, the admiral who fought the "St. George having, as we have seen, wiped out with his official narrative every soul con- nected with it, the only living creature who could have given evidence to the contrary being Lester Bentz, who having been knighted " for distinguished services for the country," was at that time doing official duty ns Gover- nor of a group of islands far away from New- foundland. Slr Lester Bents was indeed a man of Influence and consideration. He bad taken out with him to his island borne a young wife, and it is quite possible that he bas founded a family of colonial governors who will carry the name of Bents with honour und distinction to official graves. Father Lavello destined to discuss with Alan the mysterious, not to say peculiar, ways of Providence as exemplified in the case of Sir Lester Beetz, except to point out to him the usefulness of 8ir Lesters absence from England, and the utter improbability of his ever being in a position to do further injury to him or his
, ? So the time went on, and Alan found him- self not only no looser penniless but a man of
current meaus, with gold in his pocket and j gold in the Venetian bank. »
From being laughed at in Venice and treated with pitying smiles, he became tho wonder and admiration of the city, beloved of the poor, respected of the rich, au eccentric ¡tis true, still a little mad, but with method in his madness, and iu hts bright, flashing eyes the light of benevolence.
The solitary Turk salaamed him, for he had brought light and warmth and furniture and tapestries back to the old palace. Tho gon- dolier and his wife obeyed his every whim, for he had made their gloomy cover in thc back ways of the palace homelike and com- fortable; so that when the winter came thiy were not perished, and they had wine every day, and blessed the Virgin and her messenger, the mad Englishman, for it.
'.Thus tn these days of his premature agc and solitude, Alan Keith found something of consolation and recompense for much of his suffering, and with promise of a living son to take bis band and pass down thc last hills of life with him, a son to whom he could bilk of hts mother, a son to whom be could tell his secret of Demon's Creek, a son whom he could endow with wealth und power, a son who might restore the names of Keith and Plymp- ton to honour und respect at. home sud m Newfoundland.