|Newspaper Title||The Australasian Sketcher with Pen and Pencil (Melbourne, Vic. : 1873 - 1889)|
|Trove Title||Crowned with Good|
CROWNED W I TH GOOD,
PART 1. - L'HOMME PROPOSE CHAPTER I.
The sailing vessel Minerva, bound for a New Zealand port, was nearing the end of a long and tedious passage. Her decks presented an animated scene, sailors and passengers apparently vieing with each other as to who should seem the busiest in preparing for their joyful emancipation from a fourteen weeks'
captivity. The former, in the intervals of their ordinary work, were seized with a passion for polishing every polishable article on the quarter-deck, and their prodigal use of fresh water, in various cleansing and scrubbing operations, excited serious apprehensions in the mind of a nervous elderly gentleman, who had no desire that his already very moderate supply of that necessary of life should be further curtailed. Among the passengers the excitement showed itself in various ways. Packing up the wardrobes, that had been used during the voyage was in itself an arduous undertaking, and. inpursuance of this object many remarkable feats of ability were accomplished. One old gentleman, who, for some weeks had passed his existence wedged and barricaded into a corner of the saloon was at this time frequently observed-.'th'rough. the open1' door of' his cabin floundering upon' the 'floor;, .in company, .with a portmanteau.' and n. great mnny shirts ;iind pocket-handkerchiefs., 'i: ? I , Also a timid spinster, who, if she ever did venture* outside her state-rodm,- invariably contrived to celebrate the event with a black eye, now v.alprously accepted 'an escort to the deck, and there blinked benevolently about her, like an owl convinced that daylight was the best thing after all. . ; Another lady, an elderly widow, of portly figure, and of similarly sedentary habits, was at the time my story opens in the neb of Sniggling- up the companion-ladder alone, heroically clinging to the rail at each uncomfortable lurch the vessel gave. Imme diately, however, that her appearance waa observed by the party °n deck, several eager hands were outstretched, and she was soon landed in safety at a sheltered seat To any one who might think it worth ?while to Btudy the group, a general interest in this lady would at once be pprceptible — an interest quite; apart from °er unwonted presence on deck, and greater than hor personal attractions, or even her genial manners could have warranted. But when the facts are taken into consideration that Mrs. Bushby was possessed (soreport said) pf fabulous wealth ; that, being a
widow, she] enjdyedthe undivided use of it ; that she had consi .derable influence .in the town'of Dunesk ; ' and, lastly, that1 she ihad'been to England for the.-purpose of-.bfinging out to her New Zealandhome her adopted'. daughter, the lately-orphaned child of'li'er husband's only sister — which young lady was by all pro; nounced incomparably lovely — it was small marvel that penniless young bachelors; with %lieir fortunes to make in the new country, and equally penniless aristocrats with the same laudable ambi-; tion. should court .Mrs! Bushby's regard from .divers motives.' With these members of the : saloon party,' as with all,' Mrs.' Bushby seemed- on' excellent termsj though it could hardly be' possible, with the^ natural shrewdness sh,e possessed and her somewhat extensive. knowledge of society, that she estimated their attentions at more than the proper value. ? 'Where is my niece ? Mr. Lionel, will you see if you can find her on the lower deck?' said Mrs.lBushby, diplomatically ad dressing one of the most ?? eligible of Gertrude's' admirers. 'I expectshe is hob-nobbing with those dreadful steerage people— .poor souls !. cooped up like so many sheep this.- rough weather !'' : Mr. Lionel .Lindsay departed on ; his errand with a very per ceptible glow of pleasure. He found the object of his search chatting with a poor Irishwoman, who appeared much gratified .by the ' beautrful. young lady's ' interest' in a shock-headed No'rah and- two incomparably dirty spalpeens,. named respec tively Patrick and' Andy. In truth, the .appellation ' beautitul '.' 'might, just now at least, be deservedly employed to describe her. . Gertrude was. seated on a' coil' of rope, her graceful .figure and masses of -rich* hair 'contrasting _' stra'ng'ely with her prosaic arid'rough surroundings. The 'sharp afternoon breeze had tinged her cheeks becomingly with a rosy flush', . and her expressive, . ?bright, grey eyes were full' of i life and mirth.. She was one of those girls 'who really live and enjoy their life^equally removed from. the boisterous and distressingly turbulent damsel as from those languid specimens of young. ladyhood to whom the mere fact of existence seems a burden. ? - Gertrude also ' possessed that rare tact, chiefly accorded to women, of falling in. with the disposition of1 her companion, 'which rendered her;society charming eve.n,to the most- unimpres sionable. At 18 she was full of enthusiasm and aspirations, which might, if fostered and directed by a. careful . hand,-, be the making in her of a very noble woman. Gertrude would be content with no negative state of being ; all her inclinations ' tended aright, happily, or alas for the determined will which would carry her triumphantly through any difficulty she gave her whole energy to overcoming. But as yet, reared in the quiet shelter of an English country parsonage, the girl had encountered no serious difficulties, no hard struggle between duty and inclination. Fresh from such seclusion, Gertrude had been bewildered at the un wonted adulations of the men witn whom, in the narrow limits of a ship's little world, she was necessarily much thrown ; and she found young Lindsay, in his Scottish independence and his dignified respect towards herself, a refreshing change from their
society. Moreover, it must be confessed1 that her sentiments were not quite free from a shade of romance. She had long since woven around our hero's- auburn locks and stalwart frame a legend such as could emanate alone from the brain of an unso phisticated girl, and which was as far from correctly xepresentinc Lionels past life as it could well be. About the young man there was, however, an air of reserve, even of mystery which so to speak.^ set him apart from his fellows, and, intact, caused many of his own ngeand sex unconsciously to shun him It was as if the influence of, some continual presence were broodine over him; clouding his- youth, and casting a shadow on his. brightest moments.' But, .however this might be, Lindsay's, face was cheerful enough as he offered his arm to pilot Gertrude over the perils of the deck to Mrs. Bushby's side. At this moment the exciting cry of 'Land' was uttered by some one, and echoed with electric rapidity through the ship Everybody who was happy in the possession of a glass, of course looked through it persistently in the wrong direction, and alt with delightful unanimity of sentiment declared that they had confidently expected the land to be on the opposite side of the ship to that on which it actually lay ; while the captain stalked about, smiling indulgently at these and similar remarks, and occasionally ncting as wet blanket to the enthusiasm of some Irish emigrant, by ordering him peremptorily off the quarter-deck onto which', m the moment's excitement, he had intruded. ' ? When quiet . was somewhat restored, Lionel found himself standing at the stern of the vessel, with Miss Marriner by his. side. He had been as. eager as the rest to catch a glimpse of the long- wished-f or. shore, but now he had turned his attentiom to his iair companion, and was gazing at her, quite unconscious* of the remarks that in. all probability were being made around, .him. Surely any man might be forgiven for admiring a little too. undisguisedly the graceful figure and bright thoughtful face of: the girl, as she stood looking out over the sea, to descry the .faint grey outline she had been told was the land. Her eyes were full of a far-away dreamy sweetness, as she at length turned to- Lionel. . ' Everyone who has: travelled by sea, I suppose, has felt the . strange sensation it is to have a sight of land again after months! of nothing but ocean — how indescribable it is 1' ' ' Yes,' answered Lionel ;';? it is not unmixed pleasure, however, to many. '.' .?.-??? ' Oh, don't you think so ?' exclaimed Gertrude. 'lava full of the most delightful expectations and curiosity, although I have not my fortune to make there ; but for those who have. ? I do not mean that,' said Lionel slowly. ' Then what do you mean? Are you not anxious to reach New Zealand ? The life, no doubt, must be much the same ns ours at homo, but still the fact of being actually at the antipodes is to mo charming ; but perhaps you have- friends at home you found it hard to part from, Mr. Lindsay. I, you see, have only graves in the old country to think nbout.' For the first time she glanced nt Lionel, and was startled, almost shocked, at the expression of hia face. He was pnle, and this made hia dark .
~ os . ... _ ... „... ? ....,., ' eyes look darker still. In them and in the rigid lines of his mouth was a look of such passionate despair that she recoiled in dismay. ' Oh, Mr. Lindsay,' she faltered, ,_ ' :I amthqughtless ; I hay e said something to grieve you-^-do forgiveme !' ' 'No, no,' he said, recovering hls^-asual-demeanottr, but .with' a visible effort. 'When I said that some i people are not so well pleasedat the thought of landinc hlaiiew country,' he continued, I meant that the friendships, ofteh~real,'Jhearty. ones, formed during a long voyage, must at its ?termination so frequently be ended also ; and that, you know, is a'%very painful thing to look forward to, is it not?' _ ''*.' 'Oh, yes,' answered Gertrude, but made no further remark. There was a short silence, then Lionel, spoke, musingly — 'I am not one to form new ties (readily, but when I do so I am a very slave to them.' - 'I hope,' said Gertrude, the vivtciny returning to her manner, : ' that you will not lose sight of its when we arrive at DuneskJ I am sure Auntie will be quite dAsolie if she is deprived of her gossips about ' the old country forty years ago* with your father:'' 'I hope not, indeed,' said Lionel, earnestly. 'But circum stances may prevent a renewal of our acquaintance, sorry as I should be if it were so ' — his tone becatne low and hurried as be finished the sentence — 'but can I hope, can I have your promise that you will not quite forget me ?' 'Yes, yes, indeed!' was all the girl could say. Some strange emotion, moving her even to tears, .^was filling her heart. She turned away without another word, and Lionel did not; meet her again that day. . ;