Chapter 73469158

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Chapter NumberI
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article73469158
Full Date1884-03-26
Page Number3
Corrections0
Word Count3295
IllustratedY
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleQueenscliff Sentinel, Drysdale, ... (Vic. : 1882 - 1884)
Trove TitleDark Days: A Story of Light
article text

DARK DAYS.

(I

A STORY or LIGHT. BY G. MA~NvrLE FINN CHAPTER I. HATEVER is the old fellow going to do ?" "Let's go on the pier and see." The scene was 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 mist.

and the sea is dappled with delicate grey tints, that give it the appearance of some of the freshly-dug ores of the neighboring land, silvery and glossed with iridescent reflections. A dozen or so of brown-sailed luggers lay'in the tiny harbor, half round which a solid granite pier curved like a protecting arm to save them from the onslaught of the waves. On the cobble-stones and rounded shingle below the cliff, filmy brown nets were laid out to dry; and on the cliff, leaning against its posts and iron rail, were a score or so of blue-jerseyed fishermen, watching, like 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 his cap, from which hung the folds of a puggree, and evidently said something to the boys, who kept standing dangerously near the edge of the pier, which was totally unprotected, and washed by the deep water all around. ...r . Artist trying for a good bit to paint," said the first speaker. "No, Fred. Photographer for a golden crown." The two friends, fresh from London's hot pavement, had only arrived at Trereene the night before, having learned that it .was a thoroughly out-of-the-way place, where they could idle away three week's holiday, enjoy. ing the sea-breeze and breathing health at every inspiration, without, as Richard Barry said, being bothered with brass bands, annoyed by niggers, and fidgeted by fashion able cads. Trereene so fully realised their expectations, that Richard Barry had come out from the little inn where they had found clean rustic 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 ii long breaths of the iodine-laden air, thoroughly '-enjoying the peaceful calm of the quiet place . . "Sea-side visitors; Dick, even here," said the barrister ;and he nodded towards whiere another elderly.; gentleman, in a straw hat and puggree, was helping a couple of young ladies over the rocks. close 'to the water's edge. "Plenty of room for us, old fellow,'" was Sthe ireply; and they sauntered'on along the pier. , SNow, look here, my lad, if you slip off theire, you will certainly be 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 themselves. The elderly gentleman looked up with a humorous expression of vexation upon his sun-browned face. "I hoped we had left all theoboys; in London,'" said the visitor addressed as Dick, "but I see you have a few here.". "Few, sir'? They abonnd. They swarm' everywhere. If I go right away among 'the rocks 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 Malacca to Penany, or from Signapore to Siaim; 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 East,; and?' the number of plates the young dogs spoiled, and the bottles they upset, would have worried a saint." "You practise photography then 7" said Lushmore. "My hobby, sir; myhobby. Iwas in the Engineers, and we used it a good deal out 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 ment; then.I found the new processes and inventions so fascinating that it became my great resource; and here I am, ready to get an instantaneous view of that lovely effect yonder, with the smoke of the steamer, the foam of the water from its screw, and the soft dappled damascene of the sea, and here are these young dogs-There, I knew, it I Help here I help ," For just-then, in a bit of a scuffle for place, one of the 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 cliff, and some of them might have arrived in time to save the boy, but it was doubtful, for a atrong ebb was running; and he, eitherfrom ignorance or fear, could hardly swim a stroke, Richard Barry gave one glance around for a boat, but there was none handy, and with out a moment's hesitation he took a header from the pier of some ten feet into 'the pure deep water, rose after forminga curve, swam to the boy, and then round the head of the little pier to some steps, up which hecarried the boy, who was roaring lustily. It was an heroic act, but a simple feat that any swim mer could have accomplished; and as 'ioon as Richard Barry had set down his noisy charge, he and his friend began laughing heartily. "d bea laughing "lNonisense, my dear sir, nonsense I '" " My good sir, I say it was a very gallant act, for without you that boy's life would have been .lost;" and the photographer grasped" Barry's wet hand 'and shook it heartily, as he stood there hin his slippers forming the centre of 'apool of Wavter. "Hallo, Tom I 'anything wrong ?" shouted somebody. "No, all right now, Jack. Boy fell off the pier.' This gentleman saved him," said the photographer, with military'sharpness. "More's the pity," said the newscomeras Barry andLusmoreglanced from the. speaker, who was similarly dressed and bore, no slightresemhblnce to theirnew acquaintance, and let their eyes rest upon the two' ladies, his young companions, both of whom looked pale~andagitated. "Don't say that, Jack; a boy's a boy. My dears, visitors from London; gentlemen, my daughter-my niece-my brother, Cap tain Sanctuary." . Fred Lusmore thought of his collar. and tie lying upon his dressing table, as heraised his hat and bowed politely; while Richard Barry stood inuhis pool, looking, as Fred afterwards' told' him, like a drowned rat. The paleness departed from the ladies'faces as they. returned the salutes, and Richard 'Barry. saw apeculiar twinkle in the eyes of one of them, a rather short, bright little

thing, as if she were fighting down a desire to laugh, but his unpleasant predicament was ended by their first acquaintance clap ping him heartily on the shoulder.. . "Don't stand upon ceremony, but run back, my dear sir, and change your clothes. Let's see; your staying at Mrs. Bradley's. I heard last night. My brother brought, in the news. Capital woman.: Get dry flannels on directly, or it my strike into your con founded bones-No, no, I mean damp strikes into' 'mine. Hat ah! there it goes, a hundred yards away.' I'll send a hoat after it and have it brought. Now do, pray; my dear air, go and change your things.:. You're looking bluealready. Oh I here's Basman; don't stop to be introduced. ,There's my place, up there on the cliff. Drop in by. and-bye and seeus." As he talked on, he hurried his wet ac quaintance away along the pier, Fred Lusimore bowing to the ladies and following his friend, passing a dark gook-looking man of seven or .eight and twenty, in straw hat and yachting serge suit. The latter said something as the old gentleman and. Barry passed, and then fixing his glass in his eye, remained staring after them. "As Lusmore came up,. he stared at, him.".

" Fellah had ducking ?" he said. "Yes, fellah had ducking," replied Lus. 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 merchantcaptain,' who attended to the little inn while her husband was carry. ing cargoes of pilchards to Eastern ports. ' "Major Sanctuary, eh ?" "Yes, sir, and a very nice gentleman too, much nicer than phis brother the captain, though he is not at all a bad kind of gentle. man, only he will talk as if he lived on sting ing.nettles instead of goodrwholesome lettuce and such like."' Lusmore had begun with a leading'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 back-Ah, sir I? I can't bear to think, of it. Forbunately though, poor ladies, their little 'girls were over here at Bath, which is a town in Somersetshire, sir, being educated at aii officers' daughters' boarding-school.' They went out to Penang and Singapore to join their pas afterwards and four years ago, sir, they came and settled down here, at Cliff Cottage... The major has never been well long at a'time, for he has "fits of 'jungley fever 'now and then; .and they say his brother, the captain, has bad health, too, sir; but between:you and me sir, I think it's mostly temper. They officers out in Indy do eat such hot things, pickles, 'and curries, and capsy cums, sir, that they and thd hot weather spoils their health." "The major photographs," said Barry, striking in. "Law, sir II didn't hear you come down in those soft shoes; do'let the 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 got the loveliest greenhouse there, full of flowers, grown from seeds they brought over from foreign lands. Did you see the young ladies?"' " Oh, yes, we saw the young ladies," said Lusmore. "Are they-er-we met a dark gentleman dressed like a sailor." "Oh, that is Mr. Basman, sir. Yes, I think so. One of them; sir.' Sometimes we think it's Miss May, and sometimes we think it's Miss. Dinah. He's down here a deal,' sir. Comes from London; he does: 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. "Yes, sir, they do. They. say, you see, sir, that a man's only a mane whether you dreas him fine or only in tarpaulins, and that a real kentleinan, such as the major or the captain, 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 breathe the sea.air.

CUAPTER II. The two friends waited two days before making a movement towards accepting the warm invitation they'had received, and then their laggard steps were hastened by'meet ing the major upon the cliff. ." Good morn ing 1" he said, with a quite a military salute. "I was in agony all day yesterday, for fear you should call. Had one of my fits on, gentlemen; remains of my fever. ' Liver, I suppose, The paradise of a place looked a desert, and the world something to get out of as soon as possible. .Ah, how I envy you young fellows your health and strength 1" "Which we ran down here to touch up,' said Lusmore. . . - "Touch up 1" said Captain Sanctuary, whom they suddenly came upon, spyglass in hand, seated in a niche' of a' granite cliff. "What do you boys know of ill-healthl? Idle excuse to get away from town for a holiday. Old story. Told it myself at school. r' Please, sir, I'vef got such a bad headache, may I go home ?" "Brother Jack, gentlemen, is one of the, best-hearted misanthropes in the world," said the major. "Rubbish I Misanthrope I As to the world, it's hollow-humbug. I'm glad to get out of it. We did get as far out of it as we could without going into the sea-eh, Tom'" "My brother, gentlemen, has an idea in his head that I ought to have been Comn mander-in-OChief of 'Her Majesty's Forces, instead of a poor half-pay major." "You've been disgracefully treated, Tom, and you know it." ' " Nonesense, Jack! I'vegot all Ideserved. How could a broken old fellow like I am ever do much "good ?' The cruelty has been in letting you go unrewarded, `fter all your faithful services and wounds." "Hang it, Tom! if you can't talk com mon sense before strangers, I must go ;". and shutting the telescope up with a clang, just as if he were sheathing a sword, he marched off without look or salute. The major smiled. " That's how brother Jack' and Iquarrel, gentlemen," he said. "He cuts me, and I cut him, and we come to high words about the rewards we ought to have had, and then, puff! it's all over, and we go to our hobbies. I was just looking round to see if it was worth While to bring out the camera, but there is too much sunshine, and I am glad I met you, gentlemen. Come along up to the house." Richard Barry looked at Fred Lushmore, and his eyes said plainly enough,' Thisis

an original family;" and Lusmore returned the glancewith one that said, " Quite right, it is ;" and then they followed the major along the cliff, while he stopped from time to time and pointed out the best sea-views, chatting away volubly the while:. "That's a fine bit,': he said. "You can see the Gull Rock well. I've got photo .graphs of all these, indoors. , There now, stand there,.both:of you." That's 'quite safe if you don't try to jump off; andI won't push you over. There you are now. Watch that great wave slowly rolling in like a long hill of water; here it comes, faster and faster. There it.is, turned into. a breaker;' and those cascades of water are.washing: the rock below quite smooth, as they have, gone on washing it for thoizsaids'of years. How far down is that?" : ' - .. ", "Sixty feet,"' cried Luamore. "Ah,' quite eighty," said Barry. "Two hundred and eleven,'my dear sirs, measured by me with a conger-line; and a plurmniet. -These heiglits, in the presence of so muchl that is great, are deceptive. :Fine sea-view, isn't it ? One stepandyou would be out of England." "Out of the world, I should say,'" said Barry. : "Right, my'dear sir, you oiuld: Out'of' the-way place for a 'coupleof old soldiers to come to, eh? Fact is, we .can't afford Lon don and society, so we come odown' here. Reot's cheap, living ditto,?aaidbrother Jack and I can indulge in our hobbies, and growl at the world. Now, turn through this gap, up these steps, and . here we' arey''Ah! there's ├Żack'gardeiiig', and'the girls arie at' work." They clinibed up some rough granite steps, 'passed between some natural pillars of rock, and found themselves directly after in front of' a very-,charmiig dottage, built; i ai sheltered nook facing the sea. It was pro tected on three sides from the winds, and the rugged natural terrace on which it had been erected had been turned,' with admirable taste, into a rookery uipon an extended scale; There were no prim, straight walks, and well-shaped flower-beds 'ut 'the nooks and corners had been filled with rich soil,fflowers and ferns, planted,' and every level spot earpeted with velvet turf. In one corner was a conservatory, -put were:it would catch the full' glow of the southern sun, aiid ii endless places advantage had, been taken' of the ruggedness of the place to form verdant nooks. " All brother Jack's work," said the, major, noting the admiring glances of the friends. "Couldn't do that in a garden round London, forty feet "13y twenty, eh ?

".Fred Lusore thought of his collar aud tie as he bowed politely" (See tale, "1Dark Days").

There's Jack going to put on his coat again just as he had taken it off."?' In effect the captain disappeaied behind a piece of fern-hung granite, 'butt his absence was hardly needed, for?the ladies rose from where they were at work and came forward. " Charming 1" said Lusmore that evening, as they sauntered back in the moonlight to the inn. "I never spent so pleasant an evening in my life. Thiat quiet, tall girl, May Sanctuary, is my `very ideal of a sweet women, so natural, so fill of repose. And as for the other, she isi a regular witch. She's as merry as a cricket." "Are cricket's merry?" '?aid Barry, quietly. " Don't know; never was on a cricket's visiting list; but one' must have emiles. Why, Dick, what a quiet- old felliw 'you are I I should have thought you would have liked a 'couple of girls like those,; thef are so fresh and.unartificial! ; "I did like' them," said Barry quietly. " You don't wan't a man to jump about and shout because he is pleased, do~ you ".' "Not 'I,;but iyou 'seemed wat fwe Lin.' colnshire folk call clunclh.?:Yoiowe;re dull: and heavy and distant all the evening." " It was from quiet enjoyment then." "Ah f! that's right:' I say what a capita~l pair of' old 'chaps 'they 'are ! 'Who'd have thought of.meeting such men. down here ?"' "And such women .! . "Miirderl you' oughtn't to talk of such a .pair of sylphs as women." " There I differ from ou," said'yBariy smiling. " Woman is the grandest title you can give to one of the other sex. :,A woman ! What is greater, more beautiful than 'a true woman?" . " Hark at him 1" said Lusmore, addres sing nobody. "He is getting up a lecture. But I say, Dick, where's t'other' ' , ?: " ' Where's t'other?'. What do you mean ?" " I'd forgot: all about' him - the dark gentleman in the yachting serge, who is sup posed to be engaged to one of the young ladies. Hang the fellow i I'd made up my mind to fall in love, and I can't do that, of course, until I know which one is free." "Yes; I had forgotten .the 'dark gentle man," said Barry. "However, he could'be spared." "Perhaps he is off yatchting," said Lus. more, as they turned into their rooms. " If he is, may he take it into his liead tohsail' n all rouiid the world, for he wbuld be decidedly' de troprhere. ', "Perhaps that wouild be his 'sentiment with regard to us." (To be'dontmued)