|Chapter Number||PART II. IV|
|Chapter Title||TWAS DOWN IN CUPID'S GARDEN.|
|Newspaper Title||The Capricornian (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1875 - 1929)|
|Trove Title||Under the Great Seal|
Me$ raft ffcetdrcs.
[now tibst published.]
UNDER THE GREAT SEAL, A NOVEL,
B? JOSEPH HATTON. Author of ' Clytie,' » By Order of the Czar,' 'John Needham's Doable,' 'Cruel Lon don,' &a
[all eights heserved.] PART IL CturrEK IV.— 'Twas Dowy is Cupid's Gaboen.'
Lore is a ticklish business— or -what is generally known aa lore. Elmira, with David's arm round her as they walked along the dunes in the moonlight to her father's cottage, believed she loved David Keith. She had thoughts, however, between his embraces and as sequels to his predictions of happy days in store of what Harry Barkste&d voald say. He vas the beau ideal of the
East Coast girls fancy — he was so bold, bad such a way with him,*' and was 'so much the gentleman.' There were also other wooers who had followed Ebnira with their eyes and sent her hot love messages on St. Valentine's day. It occurred to her to chink there was some thing selfish in David's desire to secure her all to himself* to rob her of the freedom of flirtation ; bat the last he should never do, she whispered to herself, even as he talked of his trip to Newfoundland and bis return to marry bis love and. set up housekeeping wherever vhepleased. Thp troth is Elmira bad not the gift of con stancy. She was constitutionally disingenous. She could not help it, perhaps. If she had had some guiding authority to warn her against her natural shortcomings &be might have unproved upon them. She lacked con scientiousness. Her moral faculties were weak. What pfarenologiEts call self-esteem and anutiveness were out of proportion with the controlling organs necessary to make them virtues. Ebnira'a mother, moreover, died when she was a child, and Bhe had a. certain politic strain, in bee intellectual organism that enabled and induced her to disgniw from her father those characteristics which ought have shocked or pained him, rough and uncultured though he undoubtedly was. His education had been obtained in this rough school of ex perience by land and sea altogether outside of books. like finds out like. Harry Barkstead sus pected Elmira of these little infidelities, and he found pleasure in studying -them, Harry was not exactly motherless as Elmira was ; bat, like her, he bad lived his life without a mother's active influence. Mrs. Barkstead had been bed -ridden as long as Harry could remember, a sweetly-disposed woman whom his father, loved and reverenced, not merely for what she had been when he married her, a, bright, happy girl, bat for her patient endurance of suffering and her gentle self* denial Hie common people of Ouster and Yar mouth called Harry's father, Justice Bark stead, the county folk knew him as Sir Anthony Barkstead, Baronet. As a Justice of the Peace, however, be had won more renown than he had in bis position as a baronet of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. He was a regular attendant at. the Sessions, and he was a County magistrate as well as a magistrate of the borough of Yarmouth, having qualifica tions in both county and town. He was a very rich, man, bad come of a. rich family, and bad married a rich wife, chiefly through whose influence be had been made a baronet ; for curiously enough bis descent from . the Barkstead. who was military governor of Yarmouth for Cromwell, had militated against him with the King and the Government, so long reaching u the royal and aristocratic memory of England. Yarmouth had sided with the Parliament, and had Buffered con siderably for its hostility to the king. At the restoration the Yarmouth corporation was purged of its disaffected members, and an address of sorrow and grief that had been voted on the death of Cromwell was obliterated
from the town records. The local charters were surrendered for new ones, which gave the King power to nominate bis adherents to the chief offices of the borough. Barkstead and other* of the Parliament's adherents flsd to Holland. The States, under pressure, gave th***1* up and they were hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn, Barkstead, the ancestor of the Yarmouth Justice of our story, with the rest, taking their death cheerfully cmd win in twining that what they had done was in the cause of justice. Succeeding jfarkflt^ailit lived to prosper and win the respect of Hollanders and the men of Norfolk and Suffolk, but whenever honours for any of them were spoken of the Premier of the time shrunk from recoouuending for distinction the descendants of a man who signed the death warrant of Charles tod waft hanged at Tyburn. Strange that this should have been re membered against them hi spite of services in Parliament and in battle ; hot when Squire Barkstead, of Ombersley Hall, Justice of the Peace and mHtionaire, married into the family of the loyal Pastonnea, the criminal strain, so-called, was overlooked, and while quite a hoy. Harry was made Iicir to a baronetcy as well as heir to thousands of free bold acres, hesjf-e» foreign scrip and shares in the New River near London. Sir Anthony was a man of Bcrnptuous hononr, generous to a fault, but rigid in his views of morality and religion, a fearless and honest Justice of the Peace, regarding the poor rather with lenience than the rich, whom be debited in his judg ment* with their advantages of education and responsibility to society whenever it came to be his dnty to deal with what Yarmouth called the quality.
Justice Barkstcad bad loved his wife devoutly. On her deathbed she had com mended Harry to his affectionate care, and Sir Anthony *''* found comfort and solace hi the Ws advancement nutil ot late years, when be had crown out of his control and authoritv, a patron of the turf, food of society, a uum of fashion in London, with a stable at Melton, a yacht at Cowes, and guilty of every extravagance. Of late years he and bis father had had serious words about his excessive ex penditure. Sir Anthony had pointed out to dm that such a leakage as be bad introduced into the Barkstead banking account might in time drain off not only thousands but millions. Harry would for a time neutralist the ill effect of these scenes by a visit to Onnsby, to join hts father in his county work and ileasures, visiting his fricuia, sitting with him on the bench, shool ing over his manors, flashing the dack covers at Frittou and Onnsby broads, and making himself generally agreeable. These visits, alas, were incidents in some of the lives of the girls of Yarmouth and Lowestoft that left sad shadows behind them. Harry Barkstead was known to the county as » n-niarkn1ilv fttlftrrasflll VOnnff fellow With
women, 'a regular Don Joan, by Jove,' it was said at the county club. The worst of it M was the fellou- bad such pleasant and gracious manners ; he was just as free and frank with the poor as he was with the rich ; he had inherited from his mother the charm of manner for which the Pastonnes were dis tinguished, and with it the gracelessness and villainous gallantries of the Court at which the Pastonnes were notorious in its worst days. When Harry brought bis yacht round to Yarmouth he would moke friends with the entire community, take scats for their new theatre, attend their concerts, visit with the Mayor, and boat along the shore to talk to the beachmen. He had long shown a parti cular fancy for old Zacchy Webb and the look out men of Caister Point. Many a time had he sat and smoked a. cigar in the little house on stilts and discussed nautical affairs with them. He loved 'to get Old Zacchy on' about Sir Anthony's notions concerning the destinies of Scroby Sands and Yarmouth. David felt it an hononr to have Harry Barkstead for his friend whenever that young hidalgo visited Ormsby Hall* What wouder, then, that EUuIra Webb should feel flattered by bis attentions. She was clever enough, however, to understand that there was more of the real, true lover in David than in Harry. She was vain enough to think she could rival the prettiest of women, whatever their high position, might be, if she had a chance ; but it was already a tradition of the coast that Harry Barkstead was not a marrying man. On the contrary he was looked upon by such young women as Ebnjra bad heard discuss nj-m sb a snltan who threw his handkerchief, a. cavalier who counted his conquests and could never be caught in the bonds of matrimony. Khnira went to church and taught in the Sunday School ; so she knew what the young women of Yarmouth thought about young Squire Barkstead, as some of them fflallfii him. Furthermore, MUred. Hope bad in her quiet way ventured to caution her against the blandishments of Sir Anthony son, who not only chatted with Zaccbeos at Caister Point, but looked in occasionally at the cottage on the dunes to talk with him abont the mysteries of bis trade. Indeed when David and Ehnira arrived at Webb's quaint old house on the night of their memorable sail, Harry Barkstead was sitting in the little garden, smoking a cigar. He bad been there for over an hour, during the latter part of wbich be bad been watching through a short, bat effective glass the manoeuvres of the Swallow — not to mention the manoeuvres of the boats happy occupants. The devil of selfishness and lust had tempted him to be jealous of his unsophisticated friend, David Keith. There are natures that cannot endure to look upon the happiness of either friend or fee * jealous natures that bate other men's successes even in the ordinary paths of life ; but the professed ' lady-killer,' as some men arc wont to be called, is not inaptly typified by the dog in the manger. Harry Barkstead found his friendship for David and his liking for old Zaccheus Webb in conflict with his habit of being first and foremost in all things. He resented David's
eaccessful courtship of the girl who had turned many a young head on the coast and inland, and acknowledged to be pheno menally pretty. How, indeed, she came to be Zaccheus Webb's daughter was miithfully treated as a mystery of heredity in the county circles of Norfolk wherever Harry had. heard her mentioned. Webb's garden was a retreat in which holier thoughts than those that occupied Harry's mind aright veil hare had place ; but Kden was beyond all gardens lovely, and yet the serpent had liis way there ; and why in the still more degenerate days of this history should one be surprised at the spirit of evil invading the little paradise of Webb's cottage on the Upper Danes at Caister. Harry Barkstead sat upon a rustic seat that had been made out of the Umbers of a wreck on the North Cross sands, backed with tlu; figure-head of an East Indlaman, a dusky beauty with golden crotvn and necklice, pro pitiatory deity of some long lost vessel trading to the Eastern seas. The gold had faded, and the dark visage auil half robed form was worn with rime and tide, with wind and weather, the original timber showing through the tawdry blue of the gown, the grain of the original oak marking, the not too comely features of the pathetic image, all that was left of a well formed ship, that had sailed the seas with brave and merry hearts, to go to pieces at List upon the Needles, whither Zaccheus had brought this relic for his Norfolk garden. ' Not ' said he, 'as be moughtn't a got a more ornamental figger at hum, but seemed as if tin took to the dark lady, mai so bein in them other seas he brote her along, and act her up for a token of the dangers of the deep.'
Harry heeded her not, nor the hollyhock no' naltijrtiums that half hid her battered visaffe. the tall pyramidian flowers of pinfeand redlrowiiig aloft and waving in the breeze like half-furled flags, the nasturtiums creep ing after them and dinging to seat and figure, and patting forth cheerful splashes of colour and mat round leaves that waved in sympathy with the hollyhock's flexible columns of leaf and bloom It was a large square garden of summer flowers arranged in well-kept beds, and bordered with paths of sea-sand. Clove pint and sweet briar mingled their perfumes with the rose, and great yellow pansies Uy in beds alongside bundles of dwarf sweet -pea. The cottage was built of ordinary local brick and Btone, with a wooden porch and seat, and over the door and up beneith the caves of the chamber windows, climbing roses clustered close and sweet. It is not always sunny along the East coast ; inland the winii blows, the rain beats ; it i-i often bitterly cold even in June and July, but nothing seems to make any difference 'to the flowers even to this day. You may ride and drive throncli Norfolk aud Suffolk in cold or storm, in sun
or all oner, and vou shall still find every hit of available garden tliat is not devoted to kitchen vegetables, herbs aud fruits, thick with loxariantfiowers, evciy cottage rejoicing in floral colour aud perfume, every bit of froutagc gay with flowers that seem to climb into window boxes aud spread themselves over walls and np the homely sides of cottage doors. Soch a garden was that which fronted Zaccheus WeW/s cottage, -winch -was by no means an ordinary cottage ; it had two stories, and on the ground floor Loose-place and best parlour, besides front kitchens and back kitchens, and a stable wherein Ziccheus kept an old cob that was useful for hauling boats upon the dunes and bringing in coils from Yarmouth and other purposes. This also gave Zncchffns a good excuse for keeping a man to attend to Ihc garden and do odd jobs afloat and ashore ; Ad old Charity Dene his housekeeper and domestic servant in general, took care to make that sea and stable-help useful in both house and garden. It v&a a comfortable and well ordered home as you might find in a march of fifty miles be the dwelling rich man's or poor ; for Elmira. was no sloven : she was just as houseproud aa she was vain of her personal appearance ; she lent a willing hand to Clurity Dene, and was np and at work with the earliest lark that sang to the varied heavens that changed from grey to blue, from sun to darkness, above the rolling dunes. The best parlour was her own especial delight Within a feu- months of the lime when David asked her to inarrv him.
Zaccheus had added a spinet to its curious and miscellaneous furniture. He had brought it daring a business cruise all the way from Boston in Lincolnshire, a relic probably of a home that had contributed its emigrants to the ships that bad sailed thence and from the Netherlands to people Massachussetts. Once a week Mildred Hope had given Elmira a lesson upon the spinet, and already the precocioas pupil could play a little tone all ont of her own bead. One day, to Mildred's astonishment, she sang the words, too, and with as pretty and dainty a grace as heart could desire, though Mildred would rather the ballad had been of a more serious turn than — *T«&b denrn in Cupid's ganlen For pleasure I did go. To see tbe fairest florets that in the ganten prow. Tbe fiist it «&s a jesuuine, The IDy, pink, and rose, And sa nay they're the fairest floweis That in the garden grows. Mildred did not deny the aptness of the song's comparisons of girls and flowers, but she contended that there vas an overbold ness on the part of the maiden, who telling the stranger she meant to live a virgin and still the laurel wear, straightaway changed her mind and made such quick confession thereof Then band in band together This lovely couple vent, Besohed was the sailor boy To knotr her foil intent — To know if he would righted he When to her the troth he told ; Oh, no ! oh, no ! die cried, I Im e a sailer bold ; I lore a sailor bold:
Mildred Hope's serious tone of mind was in revolt at Elmira's choice of ballads ; bat Zacchen5 Webb loved the old songs, and had sat in wonderment ami delight at Elmira's performance, the more so when be was informed that she Iiad taught herself the song aud the accompaniment too. There was a. music store in Yarmouth, where Elmira had picked up several fcimply set songs and ' Cupid's Garden ? was a favourite ballad in Zack s youth ; indeed, he confessed to having sung it himself whcti first lie knew- Miri's dead and gonft mawther, rebt her soul ! Mildred took a pathetic interest in Khnira, and in a sad kind of way, in spite of David Keith's engagement to the girl, scented to see Elmira in that denying maiden of the soog, taking, uith 'No' still fresh upon her lips, the proffered hand, of the sailor bold, aud going straightway to perdition. A strange, thoughtful young woman, Mildred Hope. Sometimes if yon could have ?net her trudging homewards alonjr the Caiater Road, you might hxvc thought slie was dreaniiiig, bo intent did she appear to be on he far distance, so alisorbed iu Uic oat-look.