Chapter 71708457

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Chapter NumberI
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71708457
Full Date1884-06-07
Page Number0
Corrections0
Word Count2030
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleNorthern Star (Lismore, NSW : 1876 - 1954)
Trove TitleDark Days: A Story of Light
article text

DARK DATS,

.fra. . A STORY OP LIGHT.

By G. MANVILLE Pi»»

CKAPTBR-I.

HATEVER ia the old

fellow going to do ?"

" liefs go on the 1 pier and Bee."

The Bcene wa« a

fishing-village on the rocky coast of Corn wall, the time about ten o'clock on one of those delicious Au gust mornings when the sun is veiled by a thin gauze of mißt,

and the sea is dappled with delicate gre} tints, that give it the appearance of some ol the freBhly-dug orea of the neighboring land, silvery ana glossed with iridescent reflections. A dozen or so of brown-sailed luggers lay in the tiny harbor, half reund which a solid granite pier curved like a protecting arm tc aavo them from the onslaught of the waves. On the cobble-stones and rounded shingle below the oliff, filmy brown nets were laid out to dry ; and on tho cliff, leaning against its posts and iron rail, wore a score or so ol blue-jsrseyod fishermen, watching, liko the two speakers, the movements of a tall, grey, military-looking man, who had carried a couple of boxes and what appeared to be an easel to the end of the little pier, followed by a troupe of boys. As the two friends walked slowly down the steps towards the - harbor, the grey military-looking man took off hil oap, from whieh hung the folds of a puggree, and evidently said something to the. boys, who kept standing dangerously oear the edge of the pier, which was totally unprotected, and washed by the deep water

all around.

" Artist trying for a good bit to paint," said tho first speaker.

"Ko, Fred. Photographer for a golden

crown."

The two friends, fresh from London's hot pavement, had only arrived at Trsroene the night bofore, having learned that it was a thoroughly out-of-the-way place, where they could idle away three week a holiday, enjoy ing the Bea-breOEO and breathing health at every inspiration, without, aa Richard Barry said, being bothered with brass bands, annoyed by niggers, and fidgeted by fashion able oads. Tr oreen e so fully realised their expectations, that Richard Barry had come ont from'the little inn where they had found olean rustió lodgings in his slippers, and Fred Lusmore, fully-fledged barrister from Gray's Inn, without collar or tie. They sauntered down to the pier, drawing in long breaths of the iodine-loden air, thoroughly enjoying tho peacoful calm of the quiet plaoe.

"Soa-sido visitors, Bick, even here," said tho barrister ; and he nodded towards whore another elderly gentleman, in a straw hat and puggree, wns helping a couple of young Indies ^ over the rocks close to the water'B .dge.

" Plenty of room for us, old fellow," wat the reply ; and they sauntered on along thc pier.

" Now, look here, my lad, if you slip ofl there, you will oertainly bo-drowned."

The boy addressed, a brown bare-legged urchin, shifted his position to one far more dangerous, while his companions scuffled ' about, hung together, and whispered among

thomtelvea.

The elderly gentleman looked up with o humorous expression of vexation upon his

?un-browned face.

"I hoped we had left all the boys in London," said the visitor addressed as Dlok, " but I see you have a few here."

"Few, sir! They abound. They swarm everywhere. " If I go right away among the rooks.they follow me; and I've found it so wherever I've been. They were a nuisance at Delhi ; they nearly drove me mad in Ceylon ; and wherever I went, from Malaaaa to Penany, or from Signapore to Slam, there they were, the young dogs, and without a rag of cotton amongst a mob."

" You have travelled, then ?"

"Well, yes; I had thirty years in the BaBt, and the number of plates the young dogs spoiled, and the bottles they upset, would have worried a saint." * _

"You practise photography then?" said

Luahmore.

" My hobby, sir ; my hobby. I waa in the Engineers, and we used it a good deal 'oat yonder. When I came home sick with the remains of jungle-fever, I had a great deal of leisure,' and it offered itself as an amuse-', meat; then I found the new processes and inventions so fascinating that it became my ' great resource ; and hero I am, ready to get

an instantaneous view of that lovely effect yonder, with the smoke of the steamer, ths foam of the water from its screw, and the soft dappled damascene of the sea, and here are tbeBo young dogs-There, I knew it I J Help here I help 1"

For just then, in a bit of a scuffle for plaoe, one of tho urchins was elbowed off the pier, and went down into the deep water with a tremendous splash. His companions shouted, there was a sluggish movement amongst the fishermen high above them on the olin, and some of thom might have arrived in time to save the boy, but it was doubtful, for, a strong ebb was running ; and ho, either from ignorance or fear, could hardly swim a stroke. Richard Barry gavo one glance around for a boat, but there was none handy, and with

out a moment's hesitation ho took a header

from tho pier of some ten feet into the pure d*ep water, rose after forming a curve, iwam to the boy, and then round the head of th e

little pier to some stops, up which he carried tho boy, who was roaring lustily. It was an heroic act, but a simple feat that any swim mer could have accomplished ; and as coon aa Riohard Barry had set down his noisy charge, he and his friend began laughing heartily.

"Nonaense,my dear sir, nonsense I"

" My good sir, I say it was a very gallant «ot, for without you that boy's life would have been lost;" and the photographer grasped Barry's wet hand and shook it heartily, os ho stood there in his slippers forming the centre of a pool of water.

" Hallo, Tom 1 anything wrong ?" shouted somebody.

. "No, all right now, Jack. Boy fell off V I**?1"- This gentleman saved him," said

^Photographer, with military sharpness. ?R kore's tho pity,"said tho now comor, as ?narry and Lusmoro glanced from the speaker, who waa similarly dressed and boro no a"ght resemblance to their now acquaintance, ano lot their eyes roat upon tho two ladies, ins young companions, both of whom looked pale and agitated.

M"P°n't say that, Jack; a boy's a boy. My nearB, visitors from London ; gentlomon, my daughter-my niece-my brothor, Cap tain Sanotuory."

Fred Lusmoro thought of his collar and tip lying upon his dressing table, aa he raised ms hat and bowed politely ; while Riobard .narry atood in his pool, looking, as Fred afterwards told him, Uko a drowned rat. inoi palonoss doparted from the ladies'faces M thoy returnod the salutes, and Richard narry saw a peculiar twinkle in tho eyes of

ono of them, a rather short, bright little I

thing, as if she were fighting down a desiri to' laugh, but his unpleasant predicamen was ended by their first acquaintance clap ping him heartily on the shoulder.

"Don't stand upon ceremony, but rur back, my dear sir, and change your clothes Let's see ; yonr staying at Mrs. Bradley's I heard last night. My brother brought ii the news. Capital woman. Get dry flanneh on directly, or it my strike into your con founded bones-No, no, I mean damp strike! into mine. Hat-ah ! thora it goes, i hundred yards away. I'll send a hoat aftei it and have it brought. Now do, pray, mj dear sir, go and change your things. You're looking blue already. Oh 1 here^ Basman ; don't stop to be introduced. There's mj place, up there on the cliff. Drop in by. and-bye and see tie."

As he talked on, he hurried his wet ao Zuaintance away along the pier, Fred

usmore bowing to the ladies and following his friend, passing a dark gook-leokiag man of seven or eight and twenty, in straw hat and yachting serge suit. Tbs latter said something as the old gentleman and Barry passed, and then fixing his glass in his eye, remained staring after them.

" As Luamore came up, he stared at

him."

" Fellah had ducking ?" he said. .

"Yea, fellah had ducking," replied Lua more shortly, and walked on. "How I do hate that style of fellow 1" he muttered as he overtook Barry and his new friend,' who parted from them at the inn, and repeated his request that they would call.

As Barry came down he found his friend just commencing a cross-examination of the landlady-a dark, rosy-faced woman, the wife of a merchant-captain, who attended to the little inn while her husband was carry ing cargoes of pilchards to Eastern ports.

"Major Sanctuary, eh ?"

" Yea, sir, and a very nice gentleman too, much nicer than his brother the captain, though he is not at all a bad kind of gentle man, only he will talk aa if he lived on sting ing-nettles instead of good wholesome lettuce

and such like."

Lusmore had began with a loading ques tion or two, and found afterwards that he only need sit still, for the buxom lady was ready to flow on with all she knew right to

the end.

" In the army, sir. Not now, sir ; least wise they was. Poor gentlemen, they had both left their ladies at Cawnpore, and were away with their regiments, and when they got baok-Ah, sir 1 I can't bear to think of it. _ Fortunately though, poor ladios, their little girls wore over here at Bath, which is a town in Somersetshire, sir, - being educated at an officers' daughters' boarding-sobool. They went oat to Penang and Singapore to join their pas afterwards, and fouryearaago, sir, they came and settled down here, at Cliff Cottage. The major has never bonn well long at a time, for he has fits nf jucgloy fever now and then; and they tay his brother, the captain, has bad health, too, sir ; but between you and mo, sir, I think it's mostly temper. They officers put in Indy, do eat such hot things, pickles, and curries, and capsy cums, sir, that they and the hot weather spoils their health.";

"Tho major photographs," said Barry, striking in.

" Law, sir I I didn't hear you come down in those soft shoes ; do let mo mix you something to keep you from catching cold. Yes, "sir, all day long, and the captain gardens up at the cottage .there. They've Sot the loveliest greenhouse there,, full of

owers, grown from seeds they brought over from foreign lands, Did voa see the young ladies?"

'" Oh, yes, we saw the young ladies," said Lusmore. " Are they-er-we met a dark gentleman dreued like a sailor,"

" Oh, that is Mr. Basman, air. Yes, I think so, . One of them, sir. Sometimes we think it's Miss May, and sometimes we

think it's Min Dinah. He's down here a deal, sir. Comes from'London, he doès. A very kind gentleman, they say he is, and the major thinks a deal of him, but the men down here think he's orty."

Oh, they think he's ' orty,' do they ?'' said Lusmore. ,

"YOB, sir, they do. They say;' you soe, sir, that a man's only a man whether 'you dress him fine or only in tarpaulins, and that areal kentleman, suoh as the major or the oaptaln, never seems orty at all. And now, sir, what time would you like dinner ?"

" Two ?" said Barry.

"Yes, two, Mrs. Bradly; and mind this, we've come down to Cornwall to live on fish and cream, so don't you ever come and say

there are none to be had."

"I'm sure I'll do my best, gentlemen, to make you comfortable," said the landlady,', curtseying, as her visitors made a fresh start

out to breath* the sea-alr.