Chapter 61278534

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Chapter NumberXX
Chapter TitleTHE LOST IS FOUND.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article61278534
Full Date1900-01-06
Page Number6
Corrections0
Word Count4733
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleClarence and Richmond Examiner (Grafton, NSW : 1889 - 1915)
Trove TitleFrom Convict to Countess
article text

AÍL RIGHTS ^RESERVE», j

. FROM COHYICT .

TO COUNTESS.

A NOVEL BY DR, GREY.

. Continued from Tuesday's is3ue.

CHAPTER XX:

THE LOST IS EO^XD.

The unsettled condition of things, the anarchy and treason which had . characterised Bligh's administration

had settled, Johnston had been re- called home to stand his trial, and a happier era had been inaugurated y nuder "Macquarie. The convicts bene J> fitted under the milder sway of the . new Governor. He, toot an interest : in convict settlement, and was deter

mined that transportation should be i¡- ? BO handicap to place and position if

the freed convicts were capable of it. V Indeed, the free settlers complained

that-Macquarie seemed to think that the convicts had a vested interest in the'country. If he did it might be a . reaction from tilt idea former]:] ]ielâ

thaf-Australia and office existed for

tlie New South Wales Corps, and posi tion alone, at any rate he was deter- mined that transportation should not handicap any freed convicts from attaining place and power in the new land if they were capable of it. Popu- lation .was increasing rapidly; The land wasi being granted to old and new arrivals, and a future bright with a ' promise of civilization and prosperity

was being assured.

It was some mouths after Alma had. received her pardon, and her sympathies were becoming enlisted in the progress of the colony....

It begaii to appear to many, a noble work io build up a greater Britain over tho seas^ and thc idea that . Australia was only a convenient depot

for,the. dumping down of the trouble some'and ? dangerous convict element . was merging into a better and worthier

thought,' one more in harmony with the destiny of the empire.

. , Alma's gratitude to Providence for

her escape from her condition as a ^ convict compelled her to give a portion |^ of ¿cr time and influence to that class,

from which she had been so mercifully ^^talivered. While many of the trans,

^rtsjjf^boiü-... sex.es were hopelessly . bey^ScTany influence for good, some

few were reclaimable, and no doubt would have been reclaimed if only some one would have cared for their physical, mental, and spiritual con-

dition. *

But it was saddening, almost hope- less work for any one, no matter how devoted to the work they might he, to fight against the temptations and the tyranny brought to bear on many of the unfortunates while they continued

to be assigned servants.

. Alma constituted ' herself a sort of district visitor, and had a circle of the ; . young and less hardened wonrcn ; her

. - previous experience gave her a unique ;; V position and a special influence. Who . could talk to them like Miss Alma,

. said one of them : who had known theil

*: y life and its cruel punishments, theil ¡v feelings, their sorrows, their tempta-

tions,' and who: had come: out':of il .strong, and- pure, and kind;" many a one was thc better for her .ministra- tions'. . . -\ :y

But it was in cases pf sickness thal Alma found the best opening; the) confided in her as they would have donu.jbi no one else, and at "such times ~^ß^|kjsas of more worth than twe

GbverhE»ent chaplains.

, : "I must go and see Lizzie Collins to

day,Mrs. Charlton/' she said, " the gir will not be long' in this world, and ' fancy; from a word she let drop tba '.she. wants to tell-me the history of he:

/life.'*-, - .

r'.-/-"It surprises mc, Alma, that yoi can visit and'talk to these girls as yoi do, when , you consider how they ar living. If they were reformed o respectable women it would he differ ent, but they lead immoral lives."

1 " It'is true," said Alma sadly, "am ?^ßöme of them revolt against the live

thcvglead. - but they are forced int them. Look at Carr, Lizzie's employe) ? ?-1 hate to meet him in the street. ] ; is a monstrous thing to pat girls inf

that man's hands. Why some of thos so called military men have ignore the service regulations and have ha thirteen assigned servants at one tim< instead of _two as they should havi But, in any case, I can not let Lizzi die alone, when I am the only res

friend she has."

~--"Accordingly after breakfast Aim

went down to see Collins. When ali went in the sick girl greeted her wit a pitiful smile.

. " Well Lizzie, howare you to-day ? ? said Alma. ?. :

.»-_ " I am worse to-day," and she coi

. tinned with a quivering lip, " thedoctc . says.I am going to die, and Miss Alu X ani not fit, I am so wicked,. I am n< fit to die yet."' ' v , ; ,;- 1

" We are none of us fit of ourselves, "said her visitor, " but One died for i that our sins might be taken awa; ' The blood o£ Jesus Christ cleausel from all sin,' did I not read it to ye out of the Bible ? "

Yes Miss Alma, But I am -\vor¡

?; \ than others! I should like to tell ye

about it. I never had any one I cou 1 tell it to before."

" Well,' Lizzie, if it wall give ye any comfort I will listen to you," sa

her friend.

"My father," said the dying gil " was Postmaster at --, a-village ( the east coast of England. I was ti . only girl, but I had three brothel

After the battle of Travalgar, in 180 ¿ a large number of prisoners of w * [were disposed among the vario

towns, and among them was o whose acquaintance I made. He w

a French 'Naval Lieutenant, he w

young, he was in -trouble, he had : friend.- I was so sorry for him. 1 told me all about his mother and siste and his mother was sick, perha dying, and fretting over her only bc a prisoner in a fdrejgn land. I piti

him so much. .1 determined to h< him to escape. I forwarded his letti to La Belle France, ^as he called '. country, and I received his letters ^ Th .. . '. V-'C'-'

reply and delivered them to him, the smugglers who traded between the two 'countries in spite of the war took

them to aud fro.

Ono night I gaye.him word that a French lugger would lie off the const during the darkness, and I gave him a disguise of my clothes, I Avas big and strong and he was slight in build, and in them he got down to the smugglers boat and was put aboard his ovm craft and sb escaped.

Before he went he kissed my hands, and told me I had saved his mothers life. The constables soon missed him and followed upon his track, but they

were too late.

Then they set to work to find out who it was that helped him to escape, and they put one bit to another till at last they came into our office and hauilcuffed me and took ine away. .Mother fainted when she saw rae iu the officer's hands, and father got my bonnet and shawl with the tears running down his clieuks" which he forgot to wipe away.

They gave me sixteen years for con- triving the escape of a prisoner, and I was put on board ono' of'thc convict ships waiting at the Nore. You have seen what happens on .'those dreadful ships. I saw some of thc' girls taken possession. of by the sailors, and the third officer said he chose me for his sweetheart, on account of my bright eyes and rosy cheeks. When he came forme l.appealed to the rest of thc officers but they took no notice of me. I ran to the matron but she said she could not help me, that I . would havt

to do as the rest did. I resisted all J

could but noone would help me, ant

all I could do was of no use. I was

forced to submit to' my tyrant. '. ^shudder now when I'think of what ] passed thrqçghr '

, Whenrlgbt here nearly three yean ago"I was selected by the wretch wifl "whom I am living and was assigned ti him. I had determined that when

goijto shore I would live a virtuou life from which I had been forced

But my employer told me in plai '? terms the purpose for which he hat

me assigned. I repulsed him, 'an< after cursing, and cajoling me alter nately for a couple of hours, he haulei

me to the Barracks and had mi

flogged for disobedience and neglec of duty. I still remained steadfast ti have nothing to do with him. "

In two months time he pnt th alternative before me again, when

rel used I got 40 lashes the seconi time. . Again, for a third time, He wa about to drag me, to torture and toll me I would get the whip every tw months till I gave in. Then I fe! worn out with pain , and the hopeles prospect of release, so I,yielded am foll, and now I am dying, and I am s wicked, I think my soul is lost. Wi] .God punish me when I was forced int sin I loathe? Miss Alma is there an; hope for me?" - ? .'

Very gently did Alma , deal wit that enquiring' girl, and '. set Jesu before her asher Saviour and Sanctifiei Shcread to her. of One who said " G in peace, sin no more," until at last th anxious eyes grew calm and th trembling lips still. v 1 .

" And you are sure, quite sure thf . He will receive me and give me bac my lost purity. Oh, I do want to t a good girl, Miss Alma. ' Will He h mc be as I once was?."..,

. " Better than that, Lizzie. He say .' Though your sins were as scarlet, y< shall they be as snow, though they I red like crimson, yet shall they be i

wool.' "

" I believe it Miss Alma ; He can <3 it since he' says it, and He will do i for He would not deceive a poor abuse girl. I feel better now, I would 1 glad to.die, it is not that; but I w¡ afraid He was angry and would m forgive me when I wanted him to, bi I thank Him that He will, and thar you too for all you have told me ai

done for me."

The next dav when Alma we; down she saw that /./.ie's end Ava come. Three short \ LUIS before Avhe thc law, man's law not God's, laid ii hand upon her she was a bloomin rosy girl, now her face was white than the pilloAV upon Avhich she la; and she got her breath in gasps.

"I am dying," she said, "but

Avauted,to l..u till you came, to te you it is true that the blood of Jest cleanses from all sin, the thong] came to me in the night that it is don aiid it is gohig on. No uncleanne can return Avhile the blood is thor Now I am going in peace, let me ho your hand, I am going fast but I a

not afraid."

-, She dozed fora feAV minutes tin she opened her large sunken eyes..

! "He is here," she said quietly ai confidently to Alma. "He is, .'wi me? See, mySaA-iour? and He hoi something folded up in His hands, is for me, for me ! He holds it out me, Alma, Alma ! It is a white roi Praise God I am washed-whiter th snoAV." So she passed away.

Alma gazed long at the smile on t features of the dead girl, then a bea step resounded through the silen aud the destroyer of Lizzie Colli stood before Alma, a sneer on 1

bloated face.

"Who are you?" he said, "y look a high stepper."

Alma rose, her eye dilating, 1 nostrils curving with fiery scoi she looked down ou the base sensi murderer of Avomau's souls.

"Look there, Carr? "

" Where, my high stepper ? "

" There," she said, Avith vibrati voice and outstretched finger, pointi to the bed, " look at your Avork, mi derer. That girl's blood lies upou yt . debased soul. Tyrant, she will ru

.you at the Judgment, Avhere she v obtain the justice denied bu earth ;

refuge from you but the grave. £ to it, flogger of girls to force them ; ruin. What is the use of a hell if

does not-hold such as you."

1 - -

.She left him standing in the chamber

of death and went home.

At dinner time the signal was hoisted to show a ship was standing in through the heads of Port Jackson, and Alma went out to the point ; as she reached that vantage ground she saw the vessel slowly working up to the wharf. From the distance the bustle and work attendant on these unusual events was visible. Alma felt excited. It seemed a connecting link with the old country, as if tin two countries had grown nearer.

It meant news, perhaps .let»era The girls face began to flush, wbilt the sea breeze fanned her cheek and blew out her chestnut hair. She rose from her seat on a rock and begau tc walk up and down watching the ship

" Why should I sit here, I may ai well go down and see the passenger! land." She hastened away with aler springing steps and soon lessened th< distance between herself and thi wharf, and then suddenly withou presentiment or warning her fate me her, a southerly gust of wind caugh her hat, she attempted to stay it witl both hands, too late, away it Avent Rolling hoop ways, and then Alms started in full chase, but it gained 01 her. It was stopped by a passcnge coming up from the ship, and he cam on to return it to the lady. Whe: half way to her he stopped, whil Alma parted her hair with both hand from over Ker> eyes and looked at hin then a cry rang from the pair.

"Eric?"" "Alma?','

A mist clouded the girl's eyes, bri she heard a hurrying footstep and fe; herself gathered up and strained in tight embrace, and she saw then Eri looking down into her face, and he fe! how she trembled in every limb. Hi own face paled as he.gazed long int her dear eyes.

Alma gazed fixedly upon her lovei her hungry eyes never wavered, bn seemed to pierce into his soul. Sh raised a slow hand and gently stroke' his brow murmuring, "My. Eric, " My Eric," she repeated over an over again.

. She seemed not able to believe tba it was he, but that if it was, he woul vanish any moment. 1

Eric bent down and reverentl pressed his lips to hers, and he said i to himself, " Lost, but found." Ma God desert me if I do not try to mak np to this woinau all she has los through me-and for my sake.

They said but little ; there was n need, each knew what was in the other heart;-a look, a love word, a sigh, w£ as a . volume or like a lightning flas which shows a landscape in a momen

Eric drew Alma to his side upon low stone seat and they sat in silenc and contentment, hand clasped i hand, her head resting upon h shoulder, until some more passengei drawing near, Alma rose, and in a unsteady voice asked Eric to tal

uer home. . '

"I will with pleasure Alma, if ye

will not walk fast."

! "Oh, Eric, I will walk slower tha

ever I did in my life, for I want 1 look at yow, not'at the path."

I " Well, Alma, a cat may look at

king."

"Thank you, Sir, for calling me ' cat, I thought that language was give

to men that they might conceal the thoughts." .

" I wish I could conceal mine, Aim for I feel sure that if you once kno mine I shall be at your mercy, for ho 1 can I deny you anything? How can

atone? What equivelent can I rend t to you ? Life is too short, too poor,

enable me to pay. my debt to yo When »all my duty and servicè

paid it will leave your claim unsati [ lied and me your debtor."

" Now Eric I must forbid y< speaking like that, but indeed Ei don't speak of the past just yet, I fe as if I could not bear it at present, ai if you begin to talk about the tragec of our lives I shall break down, and do not wish to welcome you with teal that were a poor return for yo

search for me."

" And I could not bear to see y cry, dear Alma, God knows how have pictured you in my mind

different situations, until I have neal gone mad. But there, I will say : more about tho past for a few da till you are ready to discuss it.

"Very well, Eric, now knock

that door."

When the door opened, Mrs. Cha ton looked with curiosity at the we set-up Englishman.

Alma looked mischeivously at h friend aud made no sign, her frie: looked enquiringly, then helplessly

Alma.

" For goodness sake, Alma, wt freak are you playing on me now, s something."

"Oh, Mrs. Charlton, c'ongratulf me, I am a happy woman this de

Can you not guess by my face w

this is."

" Let me look, Alma," she took t girl's face between her hands. " must be the Earl," she said in aw

voice.

Alma nodded.

Mrs. Charlton threw her arms rou the girl's neck and began to ci " Oh, my girl, my dear giri, I am glad, so happy, let me kiss you,

think of it."

Eric looked puzzled at this recepti( " What is the matter, Alma, ar thing wrong?"

" No," said, Alma, '.' everythi right, that's all, Eric. Shé is i Becond mother."

" What is the matter " said anotl

voice; "anything wrong," as Charil walked up to his own door, " I se he said, " my wife, with tears runni down her comely face, embraci Alma Gray, and the two won kissing each other with all their mig and a stranger wringing my, wii . hand and talking bf kindness,' gn

' I tolde, my affianced wife,; and BO forth J

I Have you all gone mad ? " ».

» \ . As no one paid any attention to his; ', astonished enquiry he asked in a muclii ». louder tone. , , ,.

i " /What the deuce, doe's "this mean ? ' " \ ? Alma lifted her head, "Letame» ». introduce you to my friend, -Mr » Charlton, the Earl of Budleigh." ; V

- Mr. Charlton's surprise broke . out.

i in a long whistle, " I know ita ¡vulgar. ; to whistle in company . but I. can't. ? help it Alma. Did you say an Earl I'

God bless my soul, let me sliakeV . your hand, 1 welcome ,you Sir, I.

» hononr you Sir. :vAlma-let ;me shake» ^

your hand too. ' Confound * "it Mrs..

» Charlton, what are you crying fdr?' , » bless the woman, there is. nd: under ? standing them, is there Sir, ? my lord ¡ I mean, but come , in, there, is half a. '< streetfull looking at us making fools. '> of ourselves, not you my: lord, but; ' myself I mean, and-Mrs^Cj, como in, » come in, this is wonderful." ;'; '

;. He led tho way in. and'. tho rest; > followed, much to, tho disftppointment. ' of several spectators.' . Iii tho sittmgj i room he stoppud'and, gazed [ fixedly atv . Alma who hung on Eric's árni.

1 " I repeat," ho said, looking roundt 1 for some one daring enough .to cou f tradict him, " this is wonderful/*? ,

3 " Charlton," said his wife, faking: 1 her husband's arm and half dragging^ 3 him towards the door, "I have some-' 5 thing out herc which I want to show' i you particularly."

Reluctantly he moved towards thc? door. Ho had nearly passed out but he turned holding fast to thc knob* ?',

t " Excuse me, Sir, my lord I mean, I, t only wish to observe, ,niy dear,''

1 addressing his wife, who was vainly/ , 5 trying to draw him from his strong ¡> hold, the knob, " I only wish . to» 1 observe, and his lordship will excuso

' me, that from information received .

during a long course of reading jpn i the habits of the bloated aristocracy of

. Great^ritain, I have not been pre- . 1 pared for this, it I repeat is truljr

wonderful."

.. In obedience to a powerful haul on

the part of his wife he disappeared s~ and the door closed with a tremendous. 1 -bang. 1 ¡-.i-.' ^

During dinner Charlton gave Eric » good deal of information respecting? the colony.

i " You see, my lord, this land whicBi

was appropriated simply as an outlet. i for our criminals has great ,possibili : ties. It has great, areas of,-pasture

land, the climate* is healthy j and.it is.,

strongly suspected that it contain» t . valuable minerals. "We may reaaon ¡ ably look forward to a considerable? i influx of decent settlers engaged hoi

lucrative pursuits." ? ??<.--'' " ."

" Indeed," said Eric, "-that is a new

» feature." .

"It is indeed, the Governor intends

i settling people on the land;?and the; ,

country will grow almost all. things.

They have made, a begiiming¿ &éady- r\ Munroe tells me that he has ^Vcürect

a grant of land at the foot off 'the*- .'

Weet Mountains and he intends to putr» ( ; . cattle on it. He expects-they, willi .

increase like the stock .imported inte» Mexico by the Spaniards." /. ; ; < ?

" How will he prevent tbemroaniing,

away ? " enquired Eric.' ' ' ' I

" Oh, the roouiitams ar'e'inapc

. at the back, and the other sides bf .?'thév^'P"*;

grunt .will, be protecHiB<'^^ài'j^npçr >; . I fence between four and - nye feet high¿ ; '. the material for which; is on'-.the Bpot..'

He goes there about once à quarter, sc*. ;

as to keep an oversight of the- place,. , and he has a man in charge!" ?

. " Does it interfere with occupation..

' in Sydney?" V V:',.* v ,-V: ': \

" Ifot to any great extent. ' If it is.,, inconvenient Mrs. Munroe goesl|up*

accompanied by her husband's clerk/' "?'.

While the Earl and Charlton talked! : of things colonial, Mrs. Chárltbní an«î_

Alma had a tete-a-tete of their own. . ; : i

" Alma, when is it to be ? "

" Not in this country,, he insists on» wedding me at Budleigh!" ?';

"He does? you would-have beeo. good to him I suppose ? "

"Yes," said Alma, with a little blush, "but he says that subject to my

approval, he would like to marry me- 4 in the place where I was arrested audi ,

condemned and before his friends and. '

tenants. He says he would feel better- . satisfied if I will allow him to pay mer

honour before his kinsfolk , and . with -t ceremonies befitting my rank."

" He is a good man, Alma. What:,

did you say?" _ ?

" I said, that in consideration of hisv. search for me over half the world, I wiuld ask bÍTn to name the church andi the day."

"Well, I am very-sorry.- I-would

dearly love to have you married from».,

here like my own daughter, but it» y

cannot be, I can see that. Well, cam. r, I do anything else ? " ' ~

"Yes, you can break the news, to Dr. Carter. Poor doctor, no one thinks of him or his disappointment in the^ midst of our joy, and I esteem him next to Eric and yourself." .

" Yes déar, I will j it will be hard on. Carter, but he will be one of the first to recognise the Earl's prior claim tc* you ; the doctor is a just and sensible* man, and I fully believe that his. affection for you. is dnselfish, and het

will make your happiness his first-.

consideration."

" Well, Alma," said Eric,, who' had. only caught the last two words, for ' the ladies were speaking 'in an under

tone, "My first consideration will b&

' to my new friends, so as not to keep ..' ^

them up or myself either till all the .

hotels are shut." -

" Now, my lord," said Charlton, " I '. believe you to be aman emancipated from the conventionalitiesjf of - your

order. I need not say howxlear Alma. '..

is to us, and my wife has prepared a ?,

room for your occupation. If *it ! ?*

pleases you, stay with us till your ship. ;W is ready arid you take this dear girl to . her native land, to(her. proper station and*to yourself. Believe me,-my lord',, when she leaves' here she will

; Continued ohjPage 7..1 "ii -^V'i, -

Continued from Page 6.

leave a void in one or two hearts which no one else will fill."

?", Well, Alma?" said Eric.

" Stay with" ns, Bric." -

The Earl grasped his hosts hand, " Thank you, sir," he .said simply.

"Well, Earl Budleigh and Miss

Alma Grey, that is .happily settled, . but before I go to rest I have a toast to propose which I must give pr I shall not sleep contentedly to-night," he approached the side board.- " I have a special bottle of old port -which must be broached at once : he nn-.

corked the special bottle and solemnly filled each glass, disregarding utterly Alma's protest. Holding his own glass he addressed Eric :

" Air. Chairman, my lord, ladies and friends, I rise on this auspicious occasion to propose the health of two individuals who are worthy of all honour. The first is the Earl of Bud-

leigh, who, I am glad to say, is one of the best specimens of the British arislocracy. I am perfectly aware that that is not saying much, but what would you have ? I feel on more cer- tain ground when I say that from personal intercourse I find him to Be a man of truth and honour, .as his presence here to day proves him to be, and I feel assured that as long as such men as our distinguished visitor are to be found in the .world that the effete British nobility need not be quite dis pared of.

" The second person- is' Miss Alma Grey whose charms,and loveliness are beyond dispute, one whose courage: and goodness, under the darkest mis- fortune, has won the admiration of her friends. One, my lord, and I say it with all respect, one who( is, as.mnch above you in worth as you. are above her in title and in rank. Of one who, by beauty,' mind and character, is fitted to adorn a palace and mate with a king.

." I ask you to drink the health of the Earl of Budleigh and his future

Countess."

" Say something, Eric," whispered

Alma.

" I thank ? you," said Eric, " from my heart I admit the truth of what' you have said, the price of my Coun- tess is abovc^rubies, and I'feel grate-, ful to Providence and to you that in' her hour of need she found such friends."