|Chapter Number||PART IV. IX|
|Chapter Title||THE WATCHMAN'S LANTERN.|
|Newspaper Title||The Capricornian (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1875 - 1929)|
|Trove Title||Under the Great Seal|
£ate$ mi ghtkht*.
[SOW ITBSX PUBLISHED. J UNDER THEGREAT SEAL, A NOVEL,
Bf JOSEPH HATTON. Author of ' Clytie,' ' By Order of the Car,' 'John Needham's Double,' 'Crael Lon don,' &c
[A1X B1GBXS BeSE&TCnl PART IV. CBATTER IX.— ThI WATCHMAN'S L&STKBS.
Harry Harbtead lay dead in tne dun-room of the Norfolk Inn. At one eod of the room two pillars, repre senting two orders of architecture, stood for mimmf symbols. It was the room in which a body of Free masons met once a month to perform their mysteries.
Once a year the comity ball was held there. Elmira Webb had often stood outside the famous old tavern to see the fine ladies go in. She m herself a fine lady now, the belle of a winter resort under the blue sties of Italy. There was no other room, thought the land lord, so fitting for the body to rest in as the dim old dub room. It would be convenient for the jury to view the corpse and handy for the undertakers, opeuingss it did directly upon the courtyard. All the other rooms were more or leas en caged. Thfc crab room wonld not be required antU New Year. It did not matter to Harry Barkstead where tris body might be lodged npcm this occasion, though in his life he was fastidious, not to say luxurious in his tastes. In due course die hotel went to rest Tar asaoth dosed its eyes. The only wakefnl person srftmpd to be the watchman, who, a lantern in one hand and a stick in the other, left his box at long intervals and announced the boor and the state of the weather. ' Twelve o'clock, and a snowy morning !' was heard that night by many unnsuaUy sleepless burgaaesTbutitinade no impression upon Harry Barkstead ; nor, indeed, was David Keith couriom of the watchman's cry. One lay *!*'?? and — according to the latest account in bar-parlour and taproom — David Keith was dying; It was not so, however. David, be twee i white sheets, watched by hiving eyes, tended by the best medical skUl, lay tmconscioas in bis own comfortable bedroom in Hartley's Bow. It was a truckle bed, with white dimity «-nrt*in« drawn at the head of it to shield the sleeper's face from the firelight and the candle that stood in a long round tin box with holes at the aide, through which the light * flickered in a furtive sick-room kind of Over the mantel there were three silhouette mortnits, one of David, one of Sally, and one ?of Ebnira Webb. Sally had not dared to lake Che latter down, even when the news came to berof theffightof David's sweetheart with his Wasted friend. She had determined that when David came back he should come lo bis own neat and daintily kept little room. There were his hanging bookshelf, npon which he kept certain iatraurite volumes, his oak chest containing sea shells, pebbles, a few old knives, a dagger, a But pistol, abit of the wreck of a ship lost off the North Dunes, and other curiosities. In the closet still hung the jacket he had worn on his expeditions in the Swallow. On the wall facing the foot of his bed were niiulnr flfy*d and aAiisinp figures of various jheroea cat In relief from printed pictures ?caloared in red and purple and green and Mae, and embemed with gold and silver tinsel, .giving the effect of splendid armoar. William the Conqueror, with a powerful battle-axe, was defying tht Black Prince in iron spangles, and flourishing a gigantic sword. There were alao representative* of Julias Caesar, Robin Hood and ' King Dick,' as Richard HI wu invariably called by tne gallant youth of Yarmouth in the youthful days of David Keith. The firelight played in a friendly way on these fiunOur objects, but David neither saw them nor it- By the lire, as the watchman called the hour, sat a silent figure not unlike Don Quixote, grim, bony, with a long neck and rope-like sinews, bright deep eyes, a long iacs and a linn yet generous mouth, half hidden behind a straggling mouBtacbethat was mixed op with his oeard. a curious, thoughtful, kindly, strange looking old man. He was taking his torn with the women who were nursing the nn-fMim*KMH- lad who lay faJ'n and atni, with his head bandaged, and his lips . *!????— - ai pale as bis face. But as you will see David Keith was better ?off than Harry Barkstead. David did not know that he was better off. At the time when the watchman cried the hoar he might Ihave been as dead as Harry Barkstead so far is* he knew ; but he was modi better off for all that. Alan, hi* father, sat lovingly and patiently nhii beck and call when he should wake to -ionnrinnnnrit Moreover, he had a nice fire isi the room ; it was his own room ; the old faauEar dumb things be bad known in his boy ish days acre wilting for his recognition ; and below ctsus one of his nurses in particular was young and loved him with the fervency 4-f a first lave ; while the other, who had been to him aa a sasther, only wanted to be asked to lay down fcer life for him to do it cheer tally. Bat Harry Barkstead was abed in his boots, in a cold cheerless room, the history of which was. heavy with ghostly memories of Free masons who had been torn J&nb from limb in olden days for broken vowds with ghostly memories of by-gone feasts ; with ghostly memories of dance and song and music f roti .«weet lutes and all kinds of sad and happ\
occurrences ; no father sitting by, no sweet ereetmgsawaiting his return to consciousness ; lead as any of the masons of old who bad banded down the passwords from the days of Solomon. Harry Barkstead nifty perhaps be said to have been happy in one thing; at least he he knew nothing of the junketings and fine ioios^ of Lord Greonox and the lady Webb, away in the sunny dimes where such a night of snow and chill as had fallen npon Yarmouth was impossible ; nor was be conscious of tne bitter scorn with which his father regarded his life and death. What Harry BarksteadV spiritual experiences might be it is not worth while to consider ; bat his mortal body was in a sorrystatc And outside of these two rooms— the dob room of the Norfolk and the chamber in Hartley's Bow— the snow fell in a steady downpour. There were no stars, no sky was to be seen ; hardly a light was visible at Yar mouth, except the occadbual flicker of the watchman's lantern. ' The snow fell all over the land. It came down in such heavy flakes that it even calmed the sea. All the world was bashed. The danes were rounded hillocks. Never indeed were they anything else except when the wind sometimes blew them into imitations of miniature crags from which they soon fell again into their native shapes : but on this night of the tragedy at the Norfolk Inn they were rounded with snow, the valleys them selves climbing into hillocks, the hillocks covering every trace of rush and reed that bad been browned by Autumn winds and torn by wintry gales. Along the beach byCaistor there. was alight in the Look -oat Station, and yonr imagination might lead yon to see the group of sturdy fellows posted there, some lying prone on the benches, others sitting up and smoking their pipes all ready to go forth to the aid of any ship that might be in distress. Bat who could go to the aid of that hamau ship that hung out its light on the Yarmouth aide of the Look-out ! Zacchens Webb had Us light horning to welcome the prodigal daughter, who without any thought of him was walking on flowers and basking in snnshiw. The poor old smacksmau had heard nothing as yet of the death of Harry Barkstead. Curiously enough he had never once thought of him. From the moment that he knew his daughter had left Caistor, no thought but of her entered into his mind. He blamed no one, desired no vengeance, did not dream of following his child, he was stunned with a great blow; and he sat down to wait for Elmira's return. 'She'll come bum,*1 be said, '* Ehnira will all in good time ; she'll *mxn*- hum.' . And the Watchman at uncertain intervals went forth from his shelter, muffled in com forter, laden with capes, with his slouched hat palled down over his ears and proclaimed the flight of time.