Chapter 60620360

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Chapter NumberX
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article60620360
Full Date1884-07-28
Page Number122
Corrections0
Word Count1614
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Australasian Sketcher with Pen and Pencil (Melbourne, Vic. : 1873 - 1889)
Trove TitleCrowned with Good
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CHAPTER X. Shortly before leaving Brussels Alicia had received from her mother her quarterly allowance of pocket-money, which, together with about £20 she had in her purse at the time, was all she had to rely upon, and this had been sadly diminished by her illness » at Southampton. She was anxious, therefore, both for this reason and also on account of the fear of detection, to embark as quickly as possible. She knew that it would be the destruction of her plans to enter her own name on any vessel sailing from London, and imprudent to risk it from any port. So she at length , decided to write to the agents of a shipping company under her pseudonym of Mrs. Lewis. She was duly informed that one of the company's vessels was just about to start for New Zealand direct, so she immediately sent to secure a berth in the second-class. On arriving at the docks early on the morning the ship was advertised to sail, Alicia's appearance as a second-class passenger, entirely alone as she was, created a little surprise. . But her intense anxiety to leave London before her friends could trace

her caused her to be quite oblivious to all remark ; and it was not until the ship was clear of the numberless craft that thronered this portion of the river, and was making her way between the flat and dismal banks bordering its mouth, that she could at all divest her mind of the engrossing fear of discovery and detention. Then came weary days of sea-sickness in the Channel, which, in her weakened state, reduced Alicia terribly. How she survived the discomforts that, to a lady of her rank, amounted to actual hardships, poor Alicia never knew. But she struggled bravely through all her sufferings, and by the time the ship sighted Madeira she was sufficiently recovered to come on deck to catch a last glimpse ot land. She had seen no one but an attentive fellow-passenger during the time she was confined to her cabin, and the captain, busy as captains always are on first starting for a long voyage, knew no more of her than that her name was down on the list of passen gers as Mrs. Lewis. But when she appeared on the lower deck, all eyes were at once turned towards her in surprised admiration, and the captain inquired of the steward whoshe was. Having identified her as Mrs. Lewis, he at once left the quarter-deck to speak to her. '' I am sorry, Mrs. Lewis,' he said, raising his hat with unwonted politeness, ' that we have not seen you before on deck. I hope ' : you have quite recovered !' ' Oh quite, thank you,' answered Alicia, the colour that rose to her cheek at the yet unfamiliar sound of her new name making her appear lovelier still. 'I have been wretchedly ill, and I am thankful to be able to breathe the fresh air again,' ' I hope your quarters are comfortable,' pursued the captain, fascinated by her sad and gentle manner. 'Quite, thank you. Of course, I shall like it better when I become more accustomed to the life,' she answered, nervpusly. 'You are almost the only second-class lady passenger, I , think ?' continued Captain Marsland. ' There is only one besides, I am told.' 'Ah, yes, and she's got a husband and half a dozen great boys,' said the captain, musing. ' I don't think it would give r offence to anybody if you were to shift your quarters. There s a ' nice first-class cabin vacant, and by a very little additional expense I could arrange for you to have all the saloon comforts. I'm sure you look as if you needed them.' The captain spoke with some hesitation, but his bluff kindliness touched Alicia's lonely heart. 'You are very considerate, I am sure,' she replied. 'I should be glad to change my abode, I must confess, and I am quite prepared to pay for my place at the saloon-table, unless it is very much more.' . 'Oh, it will only be a trifle,' said the captain. 'We have some very agreeable people this time, and I am sure they will be only too pleased to make your acquaintance. I'll send the Btaward down at once to see about removing your things,' So Alicia was installed in more congenial quarters without loss Qf time, and her improved surroundings, together with more , delicate and nourishing food, saon obliterated the effects of her previous sufferings. She was very reticent in her conversation, and nothing as to h.er connexions could be gathered even by the most inquisitive. It was understood that she was going out to join her husband, but who she was or where she came from were mysteries that no one qould fathom. In spite of this she enjoyed great popularity, and, as there were some really pleasant people on ooard, the time passed very much more swiftly than she could have imagined possible under the circumstances. Moreover, Alicia loved the sea, and life to her could never be monotonous while the changing ? beauties of its waters were before her eyes. She gained strength, too, by the healthful salt breezes, and with increasing vigour of frame all her loveliness returned. ' Lionel will let me stay with him,' Bhe murmured one day as she saw her own beautiful reflection in the mirror. 'And how happy we shall be together! How cruel of them to try and separate us 1 When he sees me I know he will care for me again. I am certain they told him something that was quite untrue about me, or he would never have gone away as he did.' '?Mrs. Lewis,' said a voice afc the cabin-door, disturbing her happy musings. With the sweet glad smile they conjured up yet upon1, her lips, she opened the door. : ' Ob, dear Mrs. Lewis, won't you come on deck tol see the lovely sunrise ? And the captain [says we Bhall sight the land

almost directly,' cried a gleeful girlish voice, and the figure to which the voice belonged appeared in the passage outside. ' Why, my dear child, I've not finished dressing yet ! What ever time can it be ?' answered Alicia. ' It is half-past 5, and you must be quick, or you will miss all I the exquisite beauty of it,' said the visitor, entering without i ceremony, and investing Alicia with the first garment which came j to her hand. Together they reached the deck, when the sight that met their eyes was just culminating in glory. The sun, rising from the encumbering purple vapour of the morning, shed its crimson splendours over the ocean, which seemed one vast opal in its changeful tints of ruby, green, and blue. But beyond, like an enchanted country, lay in the very midst of all the glory a faint, grey line, that appeared iridescent in the brilliance of the glittering waters. ' That is New Zealand !' cried the girl. ' Is it not lovely ? Come and sit here, Mrs. Lewis, where you can see it in comfort.' Alicia sank into the seat provided for her, and gazed long and earnestly at the distant land. She wondered if Lionel had thus, in the first blush of morning, seen the country that was to be his home for so many months — if he had ielt the strange exciting joy thrill through all his veins that she felt. Then ttie longing lor a sight of his face overpowered her, and she rose and hurried to her own cabin to hide the irrepressible tears. There the young girl sought her, after some time, again, and marvelled at the traces of grief Alicia had in vain endeavoured to remove, ' Do tell me what is the matter,' she urged, almost tearful herself. 'You do not know what it is to travel many thousands of miles to meet one you love dearly,' answered Alicia, 'and to have, deep down in your heart, a. fear that all is not well between you and him. ' And' the girl could say nothincr to comfort her, but could only wonder that one so lovely and so winning could fail to be beloved by all. As the time passed a restless longing that was almost unen durable took possession of Alicia, and with it was mingled this new dread and uncertainty as to what might be the result of the long-desired meeting. At one time she was full of confidence and joy ; at another this sensation of despairing doubt overcame her, and made her shrink from the approaching hour which should be to her the decision of her fate. Strong to endure as she had proved herself to be, the shock of a cold reception from her husband would, she knew, be the death blow to all future happiness, and without any guiding principles of religion to bear her through so great a trial, she cared not what might become of her were this the case. As to the hint given in Mrs. Merton's letter of Lionel's ad miration for another, strange to say Alicia had scarcely accorded a thought to it, and it had certainly had nothing to do with her sudden flight from home. The mere fact of discovering where Lionel was, which had been so carefully kept from her, was enough to rouse her into action, and bring back to her heart, increased a thousandfold, the love she felt for her husband, and her craving for his love in return,