Chapter 63621592

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Chapter NumberXI
Chapter TitleTHE TOURISTS.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63621592
Full Date1889-04-04
Page Number0
Corrections2
Word Count1745
IllustratedN
Last Corrected2018-07-06
Newspaper TitleIllustrated Sydney News (NSW : 1853 - 1872)
Trove TitleIris: An Australian Story
article text

CHAPTER XI.

THE TOURISTS.

Mr. Moore adhered to his resolution, and in less than a fortnight after Meredith had become

the accepted lover of Iris, the three found themselves in one of the great ocean steamers

plying between London and Sydney. They went

to the old country, and in the English metropolis

Iris saw the Tower of London so famous in history, St. Paul's, and all the varied specimens of

architecture that make an old city so interesting ; then the Doré Gallery, and the South Kensington

Museum.

Here the advantage of a educated mind came out

now in Iris's lover. Never out of the Colonies before,

he had yet acquired so much information that his

clever criticisms and just view of things made their trip doubly interesting.

From here they went to Rome, once the glory of the earth, and, standing in the moonlight, gazing on the ruins of the Colosseum, their thought went back

to centuries past, imagining gladiators the splendour

of their manhood hy fighting as brutes, and a debased populace assembled in thousands to see it. Aye, and to see a sadder sight, when fair, tender girls and women, mothers and their innocent children, stood in the arena a helpless prey to the gaping jaws of lions and tigers, but keeping their souls from sin !

The Vatican, the Parthenon, the Arch of Titus, and all the grand architecture of Rome, and the silent Tiber, how full of interest they were. Little delicate sketches the young artist made of precious bits, and of the picturesque women, with their flat white head-dresses and bright skirts.

At last Venice, and the Bridge of Sighs, the grand canal by night, sparkling with lighted gondolas and gaiety, St. Mark's, and all the grandeur of that lovely land. They did not rush through their travels, but easily and pleasantly saw much that was beautiful and interesting in every place they visited. Calcutta came next : a fleeting glimpse of Indian ways, of dirt and idol-worship.

The quaint countries of China and Japan had long held attraction for Iris, and they went there next, and were infinitely amused and interested by the sights they saw - the great wall of China, kept in repair by criminals ; the singular construction of the pagodas; and the evanescent character of Japanese architecture, with their sliding frames for walls ; their scant furniture, decorated in their own singular way ; their street juggling and clever

tricks - how novel it all was !

Then America - land of enterprise and daring, where the wonderful falls at Niagara strike all beholders with awe, and Nature is to be seen in her wildest grandeur and magnificance. The gentlemen were anxious to visit Utah, and judge for themselves whether its existence was not indeed a blot on the fair fame of America ; but it was difficult

to access, and for a lady to go there was out of the question, so the idea was given up. But they were glad, as all right-thinking minds should be, to hear on all sides a strong feeling against it, and to know that in all probability a few years would see the

utter extinction of Mormonism.

However, our travellers went to Pullman the next curious social study, and were greatly interested in it as an experiment for the benefit of the working classes. Its most important works are those of the well-known Pullman palace cars, in addition to which many other manufactures are produced. In many respects the enterprise is a success, but freedom of thought or speech is disallowed, and no one is permitted to own land - therefore, individuality and ambition are quenched Despite the perfect architecture and the beauty and comfort of their houses, the whole of the eight thousand inhabitants were living in a state of insecurity. Who would not be, given that people could be ejected after ten days' notice, at the command of the company, and sent elsewhere ?

Mr. Moore and Meredith at least broke away ; the elder gentleman declaring that, if living, he would

visit that town again in six years, and see how it

had worked.

So they went on, spending more time in America than anywhere ; for there were many points of interest to be seen which Mr. Moore in his earlier life had not been able to accomplish, and in his own beloved Canada he was happy showing Iris how he had advanced, and the places where he had lived, and took her one day out to his place of business. What was her surprise to find herself surrounded by soap and candles !

" Uncle," she said, " is this how - ?"

" This is how, my dear," he said humorously ; " did you think my money fell from the skies ?"

" Now, Meredith," went on the old gentleman, enjoying the girl's blushes and discomfiture, I appeal to you ; isn't soap a clean thing ?"

" Certainly, sir," answered the young man, with becoming gravity ; " nothing can be cleaner."

They toured the large works and saw the hundreds of employees and the comfortable, prosperous look of the whole place. For the first time Irís realised that a large business keeps many families in existence, not only the one who controls and directs all, and when they came out, she said :

" Uncle, I don't mind soap and candles as a business ; but you had always spoken vaguely of your affairs, and I didn't know whether you were in a company, or were a banker, or what. But I know you were brave and industrious, or you never could have built up such a business as that ; and I think it splendid that the industry of one man should not only provide a handsome living for himself, but maintain thirty or forty families as well, and I feel prouder of you tonight, Uncle, than I have ever been."

All this with glowing face and affectionate little squeezes of the arm she held.

" That's right, little girl ; never be ashamed of honest industry, whether it brings forth soap or blacking ; only remember that there have been men in this very city who have worked and tried their hardest, and have not succeeded. Things outside of their business have hindered them - ill-health, bad seasons, family troubles - and often the men who deserve success are pushed to one side for the less worthy and more brazen to win, eh, Meredith ?"

" Only too true, sir ; and it always will be while the world lasts. Push is invaluable in business, and a certain harshness, it seems to me, but I thank God devoutly that I am not in that groove ; for the ways of some business men are simply abominable to me," returned Meredith, with some warmth.

They had reached their hotel now, and, seated in a warm room, were soon enjoying a plentiful American

tea.

" Well, little girl," said Mr. Moore, " I think we will turn our steps homeward ; Mr. Meredith has got ample material for a fresh book, and your little illustrations will help to make it popular."

Iris looked the picture of beaming happiness and life, and the proud tenderness of her lover's eyes, as this was said, filled her heart with that joy which every woman feels at being a helpmate to the

one she holds most dear.

" I am ready to go," she said, " and you've given me a most lovely trip, Uncle ; I have enjoyed it more than I supposed in my wildest dreams, and I feel as if I've learned a great deal, though, perhaps, I may not show it," she added with a little

deprecating smile.

But she did show it in her conversation and manners, being polished and self-possessed, though perfectly natural, and one could premise very safely that she would feel the benefit of this little tour all

her life. .

" And I don't know how to thank you for what I've enjoyed since we left home," said Meredith, looking gratefully at the older man, and across to Iris.

How those two hearts had learned to understand and value each other in all their varied experiences. There were no shadows on their path, save one-the thought of Allan Rainsford.

Meredith had seen that Iris meant a great deal to Allan before he left, and though dearly attached to his friend, hoped that he might have lost his interest in Iris when other scenes and faces surrounded him. However, he himself acted an honourable part in writing to his friend and telling him of his own love for the beautiful girl, and asking him whether he would come out soon, and then they might fairly strive to win her. A noble reply came from Allan :

" If you can win her love do so, for though I love her dearly, I somehow feel as if I am not deep enough or worthy enough of her, and I don't believe I could ever make her care for me. But if you win her, Jack, your life will be a Paradise on earth."

And he had won her, and all these months of close companionship had been but a foretaste, he knew, of their wedded happiness, and as they sat around the blazing hickory logs this chilly autumn evening something of the cosiness and sweetness of future home life came to him.

" Meredith," broke in the old gentleman's voice, " I want you to read to us a bit ; here's a queer book I picked up today, a sort of parody on Dicken's "Mystery of Edwin Drood," and very cleverly

written, too, I should say." What a pleasant evening that was ; Iris with a little dainty needlework, Meredith reading aloud from that remarkable book of Orpheus C. Kerr's,

the room echoed with hearty merriment and enjoyment as the tale went on.

It was finished the night before they started, and saying farewell to the old world, they set sail for their own shores, bearing with them relics and souvenirs of every land they had visited.