Chapter 8988562

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Chapter NumberXIV
Chapter Url
Full Date1880-10-02
Page Number1
Word Count5523
Last Corrected2018-07-16
Newspaper TitleThe Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954)
Trove TitleRonald Walton: A Tale of Early Squatting Life in Moreton Bay
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[AlL Rights Reserved.] CHAPTER XIV.


Ronald went heavily into figures to soo whether it would pay him to buy Boorooma at the prico named by Mr. Sharp. He looked at

it from crery point of view-good seasons ; bad I seasons ; what it would cost him for interest ; I his probable expenses and roturns ; tho increaio of stock, and many other i toms bearing on the main question. Tho result of it all was satisfac- tory ; and ns tho purchase would romovo nil impediments from lus pntli to the altar, IIB determined to close with Mr. Sharp's offer, and wrote to him to that effect ; but, as tho mail for Sydney by tho Sovoreign steamer was to close tho next day, ho had not lime to ascertain whore ho could got tho nocessary amount in cash for the first instalment ; so ho had to loavo that information for a futuro letter. Next morning, an advertisement appearod in the Moreton Bay Courier:- " Wanted -- thousand pounds. Good security. A ddross R. W., Cornstalk Inn. " There were but throo applicants. Ono required too high a rato of interest ; tho other wai a person whom Ronald distrusted in business; and tho third was Silas Blast. Ronald tims reasoned,

" I do not caro much for Blast oither, but ho has always boon woll spoken of-and after all, it does not matter, so Ion? as a man is honest. I shall not havo to meet him ofton ; and I sup- pose if ho gots his interest rogularly, that is all ho will require. I reckon I shall be out of tho londor's hands in Bevon years, if I havo ordinary luck. iBliallfioandsooliim."

Ho did sn.

"How do you do, Mr. Walton? I am de- lighted to soo you. It is an ago sinco I had tho pleasure of seeing yon. How aro things look- ing up Booroma way ?" .

"Tho country and stock aro looking splendid. Capital lambing. In fact, it is about tho pur- chase of the station I carno to see you."

"Obi I soo. How stupid of mo not to dis covor that at first ! Thon you aro ' R.W. ?' " Ho know perfectly woll that " R.W." was Ronald, or ho would not have replied to the advertisement. " Woll, it will be lucky for my

client if wo agree about this business. He is a very particular man, but you will not find him at all hard. Ho has tho sum you require, and some moro besides for investment."

"Your rate of interest is a littlo higher than I can afford to pay, Mr. Blast. I havo been offered the sum I requiro at 12 per cent. If I havo to pay moro, it will not leave me a fair margin for profit, and risk. In fact, I havo resolved not to givo moro than 12 per cont."

Ronald turned tho signature and addroBS of the writer down, and showed Blast tho latter he had received from the man ho distrusted.

"Ironuire no proof of your assertion, Mr. ' Walton, Ho road it nevertheless.

"I do not like tho party, thoreforo I do not care to havo anvthing to do with him in a matter of so much importance, Mr. Blast."

" Quite right, Mr. Walton. Never deal with a man you cannot trust,. You would be vory silly indeed to go to him. Oh, you need not bo surprised, I know that handwriting as well as I do my own. But of course you know wo aro conversing under the sanctity of confidonco. I must congratulate you on your disorimination."

All this was said in such a friendly tone, that Ronald was completely thrown off his guard, and replied,

"No, I havo resolved not to deal with him. Do you think your cliont will advance the money at 12 per cont ? "

"I1 can ascertain that for you in an hour. Will you bo round this way by thon, or shill I send my clerk to you ?"

"Do not troublo to sond. I will look in again."

At tho time appointed, Ronald again ontorcd the lawyer's onie», and was received graciously.

"It is nil right, Mr. Walton, you can havo tho monoy at tho rato you named. My client knows something of tho station, and also of your reputation as a manager, so that I had no trouble at all with him. If I understand you rightly, you only roquiro an ndvanco sufficient for half tho purchase"


"Excuso mo, Mr. Walton, may I ask whether you aro paying cash for tho other half 1"

" No, I am to givo security on tho station for tho amount to Mr. Sharp."

" I bog your pardon for asking you another question. What interest aro you to pay 1"

" Twelve per cont."

" Now, unloss you particularly wish it other- wise, if you will take advice kindly meant, you will obtain the whole of tho monoy from ono person. You will thon havo the whole business

in a nutshell. Your accounts will be IOSB | complicated ; you will save the oxchango be-

tween hore and Sydnoy, and the security will be I more satisfactory to my client in consequenco of no other person having a claim on the station. Tho law oxponses to you will nlso bo considerably


"But would your cliont advanco so .large a

«um 1 "

" Of course ho would. As I told you boforo,

ho lins some moro money for investment, ovor i and abovo what you advertised for."

'' Very woll, Mr. Blast, I will close with your offer. Now, miy I ask you who your cliont


"I dooply rogrot that it is out of my power to satisfy you on that point, Mr. Walton. My cliont id somewhat accontric, and only lends tho money on condition that ho doos not appear in the transaction. But that can make no possible difference to you. The monoy will cost you exactly tho same whether his namo appears in tho mortgage or not My name will bo substi- tuted for his, and I, of courao, will givo him a con- veyance in duo form, which will socure him ; but you will not bo charged ono ponny for


Ronald was conning tho matter over in his mind, and had nil but concluded that it was all the samo to him whether the lendor's namo or Blast's appearod ia tho dood, when the lawyer


" I may tell you this much, in confidonco of course. My cliont is a clergyman who has lately had monoy left him, and ho is sonsitive about his name appearing in a commercial- in fact, as a money lender. He thinks it would perhaps impair hisinftuonco amongst his flock."

That sottled tho matter. Ronald closed finally with the offer, and a fow days after, signed his name to a deed that bound him over tighter to Blast, than do the fetters tho galloy slavo to his bench. It bound him to pay the intorost regularly, and the principal withiu a certaiu time ; failing that, tho said Silas BJast could soil or toko possession of the stook, station, and all things thereon, and show Ronald the door. Tho deed was a masterpiece of John HardshoU's, which the astuto Blast found it im- possible to improve on,

Ronald was delighted when tho business was completed, and Bpcd away to Ada mid her mother with the nowa. His high spirits woro contagious, and a morry evening was spent at tho peacoful homo of the Brandons. The threo wore not »lone. Mary Robinson had called to Bee her friend Ada and hor mother, and stayed to tea ; after which Silas Blast dropped in. Ho, too, appeared to participate in the gonoral rejoicing, for his spirits wero higher than was usual with him. Throe important matters had boon sottled that day, botween persons whose fate was henceforth to be linked together in a chain of steel that was not to be severed during long weary years - Ronald signed tho deod ; Blast proposod formally to Mary ; and Ada's wedding day was fixed.

It was on tho forenoon of that ovoutful day that Silas Blast went to Neptune Villa, nnd asked to see Mary's aunt. He opened the interview with his accustomed skill ¡ spoke of his groat affection for Mary, and begged the eccentrio old lady to give her consent to their union at an oarly dato. She said,

" Silas, I have always felt a keen interest in you, and believe I always shall, I have over made you welcome, as a friend, to this house, but -now do not bo offended-my willing consent Jo your union with Mary you will never have.' I have always been in the habit of saying honestly what I mean, and in a matter, of such unportwee, I am not likely to vary my oniton."

" I am very sorry, Miss Robinson, that yo i do not approve of me. May I ask why ? "

"Do not »sk any questions I am not at liberty to give my reasons. I warned Mary some timo ago that I was not likely to bo a consenting party, but it seems that my wishes ara not to be regarded in the matter."

" But I did not ask Mary some time ago."

" Do not attempt any of your snoakiug, lawyer quibbles with me, Silas ! I saw how things wero going. You know very well that you have had this in your heart for months past. Yon know it !" sho said, thumping the table with her clenched hand.

He did not nttempt to deny it, but said,

"If Mary is willing to be my wife, will you oppose it ?"

1 "No moro than I havo done. Mnry is of an

ago to know her own mind-but I do not believe silo does, for all that. Moreover, I have not the Wa! power to control her ii that respoct, nor would 1 exercise it if I had. But I love hor, aud believe I ought to adviso her, as her father would wore he alivo ; and I know he

would not have approved of the match. Now, i Silas-say out like a man what you intend to


Slowly and coolly, without hesitation, and with his snaky look, he said,

"I must say, that, under tho ciroumstanoos, I am bound in honour to placo myself in Mary's

hands for sentones."

"Then I wish you were first placad in tho dock for sontenco, and I your judge, Silas I" replied the impetuous old lady, with much warmth "I will go and speak to her-but that will do no good, I know. Stay you here,"

Mary was in her room, and her aunt said,

"Mary, Silas lias asked my consent to an engagement between you. You know I will not give it, but I will give you my advice instead-Don't have him. You will never be hnppy togothor. I have a presentimont of that. You have got ovor other affairs, and will get over this if you aro wiso. Now, what do you

intend to do ? "

Mary was really distressed and perplexed. Sho knew all along that her aunt disapproved of the matoh, but hoped sho would relent at last ;

arid her determined attitude now throw a more , serious aspect over the affair. She scarcely

know ; what to say, but felt called upon to say !


" Dear aunt, I am so distressed to find that you aro nit likely to give way I do not like

to du nnything mjniust your wishes, but foar ! that botli Silas and I aro too much in earnest I to retreat. Bolieve mo, I think yon aro mis- I takon in bim. I cannot see why we should not bo happy. You yourself cannot give a reason for your objection. Think, aunt-is it reasonable?" she said, pleadingly.

" Mary, you are moro to me than you ovor thought, girl I Are you not tho daughter of my beloved brother ?-All I have left of him ! Do not havo that man, I say ! But you aro your own miatreás ; you have a conscience, and 'responsibilities of your own, and must act for yourself without my aid. But, look you, my child-if ever you want a friend in time of sorrow (a tear rolled down hor wrinkled cheek) come to mo. You will nevor hoar a word of reproach from those lips, for anything that is past and gone then. Now, go to Silas, and use your own judgment."

Mary kissod her aunt sorrowfully, for sho knew she was going to do an act that the old lady would give the world to prevent, though Bho could not or would not toll why. If ever Mary was in earnest in a love affair, she was this time. She had had plenty of time to con- sider, and her resolve was fixed. She and Silas Blast oxchanged vows, and had it not been for the sadnoss she felt on account of tho annoyance sho knew Bhe was causing her aunt, she would havo boon perfectly happy.

Poor aunt Felina loft Mary's room and sat down in tho cats' nursery with all her pets about her-a habit she had when particularly sad

and did not movo till dinner time.

Silas Blast's hatred for his wretched Blave, Giovanni, increased more and more, and his soverity with it, for the young man nevor retaliated, and the coward thought his spirit was broken, and that ho could tako his full revengo for the resentment he showed at his ill-troatmont long before. Deep as tho lawyer was, he could not road and understand that Italian nature. Giovanni kept cool and self possessed under all the insults and petty tyrannies hoaped upon him-outwardly cool, but ho resolved to bo revenged when tho time came, which ho folt assured it would.



BLAST'S BRUTALITY TO HIS WIFE AND CHILD. Wo mußt now skip over a space of three years. Ronald and Ada had boen married two years and a half, and Silas Blast and Mary, two years. Giovanni had becomo a man, and had only six months moro to servo with Blast, when one day tho latter recoivod a largo sum of monoy at a house in town, and put it into his pocket with the intention of placing it in his oflice-tablo drawer. When ho returned to his oflico a client was wait- ing to soo him, and after that porson left. Silas Blast wont home to dinner. In the ovoning ho lookod in tho drawer for the money, intending to lock it up in his iron sifo till tho bank opened in the morning, but to his astonishment it was not there. He went quietly to Hardshell's room, and asked if he had seen any one in his offiflo during his absence at any time that day. Tho clerk ropliod that he had seen only Gio- vanni putting something into the drawer. Ho thon told Hardshell that he had missed the money from tho drawer, and sent him to toll Giovanni ho wanted him in his office. His ordorwas quickly oxecuted.

" Giovanni," said Blast, " What wore you doing at my drawer? What did you take out?"

' ' I took nothing out, sir. I put that deed of transfer th»ro when I had done copying it."

" Why did you put it in that drawer ?"

" Because, sir, you told mo that it was a valuable document ; and as I know you some- times put deedB of that naturo there, and as you were not in, I took the precaution of putting it in, thinking you would bo botter pleased if I

did so."

" If you thought there was any danger of ita being mislaid in my absence, why did you not givo it to Mr. Hardshell ?"

" I waa in a hurry, and did not think of it at tho moment, or I should have done an, sir."

" You took nothing out ?" said Blast, looking vory hard at him

.'Nothing whatever, sir."

" You did. No, no-it is no uso denying it. You took a roll of bank notes ; you were seen doing it."

This was thrown out as a random shot, Blast thinking to force Giovaimi to confession, and restitution. It had a very different effect on the young Italian, who grow paler than usual, and exclaimed,

"Liar I"

" You white-livered Italian pickpocket ! You son of a foreign murderer and thief 1 Would you call me such a name ? You shall bo lodged in gaol. Hardshell go for a constable."

Hardshell obeyed. Giovanni stood motion- less, and Blast put his back against the door. The young man said,

" You have treated me like a beut since I had the misfortune to enter your service. I wish I

had starved in the bush rather than have como here, I. have worked hard for you, and got nothing but abuse for it ; now you want to ruin my character by putting me in gaol, but you Bhall not havo that pleasure-Let me out !"

^Yes.togaol!" .. _.

Footsteps were neara outside, uiovanm toon

up a heavy ruler from the table and flung it at Blast with all his force. The missile hit him on the forehead, and he fell. Instantly, Giovanni turned to the back window, opened it, and leaped out. In doing so, he received a severe hurt on the breast-bone by coming in contact with a sharp pointed paling. Hardshell and the men with him, not being able to open the door, for it was looked, or get an answer from Blast, thoy obtained an entrance through Hardshell's office. Blast lay on the floor with the splinter« of tho ruler about him. Not a drop of blood had boon spilt, but a largo blue lump on the right side of the prostrate man's forehead re jvoaled the true state of affairs to those present.

He was lifted on to the sofa, and a doctor was ¡sent for. In the course of an hour Blast wa« sufficiently reoovorod to proceed home-a deso {late home, as will shortly be explained. .

i The morning after the ' above events, Silas Blast put on hi« overcoat previous to proceed- ing to' his office; a« . the 'weather wak' óhillg¡, _Utput his poflk«t.boot into the inner breasV

pocket, and thon became aware of a packet that was already in it Ho took it out, and the injustice he had done Giovanni the day before flashed across his mind. The packet was the roll of notes he had accused the young- man of stealing. He had gone homo to dinner, and had hung his overcoat up, thinking he would not require it again that day, and was quite under the impression that he had carried out his intention of putting the money into the drawer. After the discovery his train of thought took the following turn.

" Well, it will not do to let it be known that I made Buch a mistake. It would injure me in my business. That limb of the devil, and son of a murderer, has got clear away, and the only recompense I can make him-which is more than he deserves-is to take no further measures for his arrest. I have taken out a warrant for his apprehension, but it will never be served unless I offer a reward for his capturo. I owe him six months' wages, that's one comfort."

Silas never said a word to any ono-not even to Hardshell-about his discovery, but quietly placed the money, with some more, in the bank.

He did not deposit the exact sum he had stated ho had been robbed of by Giovanni, fearing that it might in the future turn up SB evidence against himself. Thus did that religious individual allow the terrible imputation of robbery to rest on an innocent porson, whose good character and natural fair talents were all he had to start with

in life. What could the young man do under the circumstances ? We shall see.

I What a chango waa worked in Mary Robinson

during the throe years we have passed over ! We left her comparatively happy as the affianced of i Silas Blast. Now we find her in the last stage ' of declino-a wreck in body and spirit. With

hor pretty infant, Florence, scarcely a year old, she again lived with her good aunt, Felina. How truly good that aunt was, she now under- stood. Her detestable husband, who had married her only to show Ada how little he cared for her rejection of him, now showed out in his true colours-that is, to poor Mary only, for the cowardly wretch did nothing openly in the way of abuse or ill-usage. He had a reputa- tion for being moral and religious, whioh was , useful to him, and he would not for the world

compromiso himself openly. He knew that 1 Mary would not speak of his cruelties, for she

was too truo to him, independent of which, he

had forced her to swear that she would never

opon her mouth to betray him to any living creature. Scenes, of which the following is a I specimen, not unfrequently occurred. He had I struck her.

" Oh, Silas ! I never provoko you. I study you in every way. Do not ill-use me so. What cou I do to please you?" she exclaimed as she knelt besides her infant's cot.

" You always provoke me. The very sight of you is provocation. I hate you !"

" Why did you ask mo to marry you then ? I was happy with aunt. I loved you, and could bo happy with you now, if you would but treat me Uko a woman. If there is anything I can do, however degrading, to please you, I will do it ! Oh ! my little infant ! What will becomo of you 1"

" Perish your infant, and you too, a thousand times over ! I wish you were both dead !"

"' Why do you hate your little one, Silas ?"

" Because it is a girl, and because it is yours." " Would it ploaso you better, if I lived away from you ? I could live with aunt, and would tell her and every one else it was my fault."

" No, it would not please mo. Besides, 1 could not have my revenge then. I loved Ada Brandon, and could have lived happily with h sr, and have loved her children too ; but I married you for revengo, and I will have it. I will crush that black snako Walton. I spread a net for him, and he and his wife and children shall be re- duced to want. It may be that I will have her yet, though sho refused to bo my wife. He is in the toils now, fast enough. I have kindly advanced him moro money from time to time. He can never clear himself, and when the time

comes I will foreclose. Ha ! ha ! "

" Oh, Silas ! " the poor wife said in an agony at his perfidy. " Could you not spare her and

her children?"

"Could I not spare him, you mean-you false woman ! I saw it all, though you thought I did not. I know how deeply interested you were in him once, and you shall pay for it."

" I have loved you, and been truo to you, Silas, and you know it."

"Look here," ho said, reaching a Bible on a shelf, '' swear to mo that you will never men- tion, at the peril of your soul, what I have said to you."

" I promise you that. I nevor break a pro- mise, Silas."

He kicked her, and forced her to repeat the oath after him, and kiss the book ; then left her. During the whole time, she had been on her kneos, and aftor his crowning act of brutality, stretched herself instinctively over the cot of her little innocent ; not in prayer, or in grief, but in a half-stunned state, in which she continued for a long timo.

Mary had not been reduced to such an abject state all at onco, it was tho rosult of a sys- tematic courso of ill-treatment. She was a bravo and truo woman ; and though sha saw her aunt almost ovory day, she never oven hinted at tho niisory of hor soul, or the cause of it ; but in time, she began to wear an out- wardly haggard, wrotohed look, that did not escapo the anxious eye of her aunt. When questioned, slio attributed the chango to ill health, which, in hor then condition, was not improbablo. Aunt Felina, though quioted, was [ not fully satisfied, for she detected an expression

in Mary's countenanco that alarmed her, and that hor condition did not satisfactorily account for. Thus it went on for weary months ; at length, a few weeks prior to the time we found Mary again an inmate of Neptune Villa, a scene occurred which brought matters to a climax. Silas had treatod her with unusual brutality, and was about to follow it up with some violence to her child. That was too much. He might kill her if he willed, but the child must bo pro- tected, and in a state of fear, bordering on frenzy, she fled bareheaded from the house out into the cold wet night, and away to her aunt. Silas did not follow hor, for he dreaded ex- posure He always ohoso such times and places a« would be most likely to secure him immunity from the prying eyes of servants or others, and so far, he had been lucky in evading them.

When Mary reached Neptune Villa with her infant, her aunt was about to retire for the night, and was in the act of putting down her window blind. It took a good deal to alarm the old lady, but wheu she saw the blanched face, and dripping garments of her niece, who was holding the tiny bundle to her bosom, she noarly dropped, thinking it was an apparition ; but when the poor girl spoke, imploring her to let her in, sho ran to the door, only to find Mary stretched before it in a swoon. Aunt Felina oalled Snowball, who just thon appeared with Pearl in. her hands, wringing wet ; for that wicked oat disregarded the natural instinots of her kind, and went freely into tho rain or dew at night. No doubt the frequent bathings had

demoralised hor.

" Here, Snowball, take the baby, while I lift my dear brother's child inside. She is wringing wet. Mercy on us 1 What is the matter 1 " «aid

aunt Felina.

" Will I put de baby in de cat«' misery, 'm ? Dere'sgood fire dere now."

" Yes. Take it to the fire, and take off those wet wraps."

While aunt Felina spoke, she was carrying

her unconscious nieoo into her own bedroom, Sho placed her on a couch, and used, success- fully, some of the many means known to ladies for the recovery of their fellow women in similar plight«, then proceeded to undress her. Mary kept her eyes fixed on her aunt's faae with a sort of dazed expression, but spoke


"Oh, Mary I" she suddenly exclaimed, i " How awfully thin you are 1 What ia all this ? i Oh, mercy ! What is all this 1

Well might she ask. The poor girl was bruised from her neck to her feet. Bruises

¡in all stage«, from the fresh contusion to the ¡faded yellow groen of those that wero dyiug


Í "The wretch ha« been beating you 1 I'll 'expose bim I He «hall be hunted by the mob ! ¡He «hall pay for this with his life I I see it all now. He has dared to raise his hand to tho

'flesh and blood of my sainted brother I Oh !"

! She hid her face in the pillow on whioh Mary'« ¡head rested, fairly overcome with' horror and passion.'' Mary turned her head with diffloulty,1 Sand faintly said, : ' . l'1- ''? " ' '

"Aunt, if you wbitper a word of thta, I'»aall

die. Never mention this to me, or to him, or to any living souL"

It was said with suoh an unmistakably be- seeching look, that hor aunt made no further observation, but proceeded to lift her wasted form on to her own bed.

" There," she said," " you can rest safely in my bed, my child,-"

" Oh ! " exclaimed Mary, in an agony of terror. "Has Ac-has any one got my-got my pretty one ? Givo me by babe ! Oh ! Where is it?"

" Safe, my child-Snowball, bring the baby

hero "

The infant was quickly placed beside her, and she received it with a smile of love and satis- faction, that can only illumine the features of a mother. The wee thing crowed and nestled iu, all unconscious of the desolation within tho true breast to which it was so fondly clasped. The sad, weary look faded from Mary's coun- tenance, and she fell asleep,

. .*#»«

What ii a Mother's Love ?

A noble, pure, and tender flame,

Enkindled from above,

To bring a helpless babe to light,

Then while it lies forlorn.

To gaze upon that dearest sight,

And feel herself new-born, In its existence lose her own,

And live and breathe in it alone ; This is a Mother's Love I"


Her aunt made up the fire, and with Rose and Pearl for companions, watched sidly

at the bedside of her ill-used niece for hours. The little one woko first, and aunt Felina endeavoured to tako it up and soothe it by the fire, that it might not disturb Mary, but tho latter, feeling the attempt to remove it, clutchod it tighter to her, saying,

"Oh ! don't, Silas ! Do not hurt my little one, or take it from me 1 " Then she awoke, saying, " Is it late, aunt ? Why do yeu not go to bed ? Come in with me, do. I shall be so happy with you and my little Florence together."

Aunt Felina did BO, but did not sleep. She had boen too much shocked at what she had discovered, and was perplexed as to what course she should pursue. She had determined one point irrevocably. Mary should never return to the inhuman monster as long as she could prevent it.

Silas Blast wrote a note and dispatched it to Mary, demanding bor instant return. Her aunt intercepted it, and wrote in her own large, firm

characters :

" Silas Blast,-Mary is too ill from the effects of your fiendish treatment to attend to any communication from you. Never intrude your hateful presence under this roof again. Would I were a man-or better still, that my brother were now living-you should not have a whole bone in your loathsome body. Know this-Mary never leaves this house for yours so long as I can prevent it. Make one attempt to assert your authority, and I will expose you through the length

and breadth of the land.


She did not show Mary either his letter or her reply ; nor did she ever allude to the circum- stance. When Silas Blast read hor letter, his fury knew no bounds, for he know she would carry out her threat to the letter, and he dared not brave tho exposure. He would meantime havo his revenge. He would burn his will, and draw up another, effectually cutting off his wife and child from the least parti- cipation in the enjoyment of his property. Be carried out the first part of his determination at once, intending to complete his unnatural design

at hiB leisure.

Mary had henceforth a quiet asylum in the home of her childhood, but the fresh healthy stream of her life was poisoned too deeply to allow of her enjoying the sweet repose of mind that sho possessed before leaving it for her husband's house. She grew thinner week by week, and her hollow cheeks, which so long had borne the fullness and bloom of health, now wore tho hectic flush of disease.

(To be continued.)