Chapter 36646553

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Chapter NumberXXVI
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Full Date1867-10-12
Page Number2
Word Count3511
Last Corrected2020-01-28
Newspaper TitleLaunceston Examiner (Tas. : 1842 - 1899)
Trove TitleThe Maxwells of Bremgarten
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THE MAXWELLS OF BREMGARTEN.. A STORY OF TASMANIA. [Founded on Facts.] (ALL RIGHTS ARE RESERVED.) (Continued from last Saturday ) CHAPTER XXVI. MOTHER AND DAUGHTER. The visit of farmer White being purely of a business nature need not be allowed to dis- turb the even current of our narrative. He was introduced by Maxwell to the Colonel when they had all assembled for breakfast, as a man who in the battle of Trafalgar had fought for the honor of his country, and wit- nessed the death of England's greatest naval hero. The Colonel expressed himself highly gratified at meeting with the honest seaman, and elicited from him during breakfast a good deal of nautical information as well as some items of early Tasmanian history. After breakfast Henry started on his long journey to Hobart Town, scarcely less than one hundred miles, to bring his sister up to Bremgarten. He was mounted on one of the strongest of Maxwell's stock-horses and led Griselda's pony. The instructions he received from Maxwell were to travel as much as pos- sible in company with the regular mail-cart which had recently commenced running, and which performed the distance (one hundred and twenty miles) between Hobart Town and Launceston in about four days. He and his sister having their own horses would not be tied down to the inconveniences of that miserable conveyance. Miss Arnott might of course take a seat in the vehicle if she thought proper, but, whether or not, it might add to their safety to have the company of the mail driver on the road. When he was gone Maxwell gave directions to Edwin and Charles to mount their horses and drive the dry cattle into the stockyard so that Mr. White might inspect them, and select those that would be likely to suit him. " He had explained that he had undertaken a contract to supply the Govern- ment establishments in his neighborhood with meat, and was obliged to ride a considerable distance from home to purchase sheep and cattle. The young men set about this duty with alacrity, being accompanied by the inde- fatigable White and his assistant. Maxwell, in order to amuse his military guest, proposed a visit to his neighbor, Mr. Earlsley, to which the Colonel consented, and to Clifton Hall they went together in a gig. Griselda and her mother were now left to themselves. The household labors of the morning—rather increased of late—had been finished, and they now sat at their needle work by the parlor fireside. A gloom seemed to hang over the minds of both, to judge at least by their silent and grave demeanor. The former, so often gay, her heart bounding with the joys of conscious innocence ; her mind happy in being good, and at peace with all the world ; her heart rejoicing in the purest love and devotion to her parents sending forth the glowing stream of life which heightened the charms of her beautiful features, now sat plying her needle in moody silence. The latter appeared as if a heavy weight lay upon her breast ; her countenance was marked by the traces of anxiety and sorrow, and whether the panorama passing within her mind was a happy one or not, it is certain that tears found their way down her cheeks and fell upon the work in her hand. " Do you know, my love," said the anxious mother, " that Colonel Arnott and his son, so far from having come here for pleasure, or to pass away their time, have acknowledged that a very serious business has brought them ?" " l partly suspected," answered Griselda, " from some hints which young Mr. Arnott has already let fall that such was the case." " And do you suspect what the real nature of the business is ?" " From the hints which Mr. Henry Arnott allowed to escape, mother, and from former hints contained in Isabel's letters, I am led to suppose that if the business which has brought them here be completed to their satisfaction I am destined to play an important part in it." " You are, in fact, Griselda," said her mother, " the sole and entire cause of their long journey. Is it not extraordinary that the Colonel should, at eighty years of age, take a voyage from Sydney to Hobart Town, and then a journey into the centre of this island, amid dangers and difficulties innu- merable, on purpose to persuade a certain young lady to become the wife of this pet son of his ?" " It is very unaccountable," said Griselda ; " as if there were not many beautiful young ladies in Sydney ; but, mother, do you think the old Colonel's mind is much wrapped up in this matter ?" " If his language to your father be sincere," answered Mrs. Maxwell, " his very soul is devoted to the consummation of this object, or hobby, as I may call it. He told your father that you were the very image of Hen- rietta, his first wife, and as such he loved you ; that the idea of seeking you in marriage for his son, who he said, in his usual ridiculous way, is too much of a blockhead to choose for himself, struck him years ago ; that he had waited patiently until he thought that Henry and you were of sufficient age to understand the duties and responsibilities of marriage ; and that he was now come to do a good action, and make the young people happy before he died." " And has he succeeded, mother, in making his son coincide with him perfectly on this momentous subject ?" asked Griselda. " I believe so, my love. His father, I think, even blames and ridicules him for being too impatient to have the affair settled with as little delay as possible." " And do both these clever people think that I am to be taken by storm in this kind of way without my consent being so much as asked ?"

" No, my dear daughter," said Mrs. Max- well, " I think they are not so foolish. The Colonel said your inclinations should be con- sulted of course, your future happiness cared for, and an annuity settled upon you for life, over which Henry would have no control, provided you consented to become his wife." " He will find himself greatly mistaken," said Griselda, " if he thinks to allure me by a display of wealth, for God knows what little attractions the riches of this world have for me." " He went farther, much farther, than mere words," continued Mrs. Maxwell, " for he made a fresh will last night, which he got Mr. Juniper, Edwin, and Charles to sign as witnesses, and which he deposited with your father. He makes your father an executor purposely that he may watch over your interests. He leaves his station and stock in New South Wales, also a sum of money, to his eldest son ; his real and personal property in Sydney he divides between Henry and Isabel—about thirty-five thousand pounds to the former, and twenty-five to the latter. To your father he leaves a legacy of five hundred pounds for acting as executor, to Eugene and Charles two hundred and fifty pounds each ; and to you, in the event of your becoming Henry's wife, an annuity of five hundred pounds for life, subject to no restrictions whatever." Griselda's work dropped from her hands. " Is it possible that Edwin would put his hand to such a will as that ?" she ex- claimed with surprise ; but immediately recovering herself, continued, " Is it likely, mother, that he could know anything of the contents ?" " Quite unlikely," replied her mother ; a witness to a will has nothing to do with the contents : he has merely to see the testator sign his name, and then sign his own as wit- ness ; but why need it affect you so much even if he did know the contents ?" The young lady was extremely confused : she answered after a pause—" I did not think that Edwin would sign such a paper even as a witness only, if he knew the pur- port of it ; but, dear mamma, I can assign no reason why he should not witness it or any other document he pleased." " I trust, my daughter," said Mrs. Max- well in a solemn manner, " that I am entirely in your confidence—that there is no con- cealed understanding between you and your cousin Edwin ?" " God forbid, mother," said Griselda, " look- ing earnestly and with sparkling eyes upon her mother's face—" God forbid that I should be so wicked—the suspicion would kill me that I could have a concealed understanding with any living being. No indeed, I have not. You are, next to God, my sole confi- dant : I have never concealed any circum- stance whether small or great from your knowledge, and I never will." " Tell me faithfully, my love," said Mrs. Maxwell, still looking steadily at her daugh- ter, " if Edwin has ever breathed into your ear a single word that made you think of him in any other relation that his present one ?" " He has not, I fearlessly assert," replied Griselda, " ever said a single word that could make your daughter blush, or disgrace his own noble mind !" " Your language is imprudent, Griselda," said the matron. " I wish to know plainly if Edwin has ever spoken to you of love or marriage ? If he has done so he would not prove himself to be possessed of the noble mind you appear to give him credit for ; it would be taking a mean advantage of his present dependent position—conduct in my opinion deserving of very severe reprehen- sion." " He never did I declare upon my honor, since we were children ; and then when we met in parties and gathered flowers on the hill sides at the Dargle, or played together on the banks of the Dodder—but we were only children—he used to call me his little wife." As Griselda said this she bent down over her work to hide the deep blush that suffused her fea- tures. " I am glad," said her mother, " that this intimacy has not been renewed, though for my part I have nothing to say against Edwin. He is, I believe, a sincerely honest and well intentioned young man, but he has yet to fight his way upward in the world, and that may take him a considerable time. He seems to lack the moral courage to teach him fully that he must depend under Pro- vidence upon his own exertions, although willing to exert himself to the utmost in the service of others. You must not, therefore, think of him as your future husband." " I do not think of him ; I never have thought of him as such in a serious manner, mamma," replied Griselda ; " but I cannot help thinking sometimes of the days that are past, when every recollection of my childish years is so happy and so bright." " Your father," said Mrs. Maxwell, " is and always was a man of sound sense, ster- ling principles, and upright conduct, but he is sadly prejudiced against this poor youth. I believe he would let him cultivate a farm if it were not through fear of having him too near you. He is afflicted with jealousy that fearful disease from which even the minds of the noble and the good are not exempt—lest this unfortunate relative should steal your heart away ; and though he keenly feels the cruelty of driving a relation from the shelter of his house in a strange land where the young man has not a single friend, he contemplates dispensing with Ed- win's services." " I know nothing," said Griselda, " of the state of Edwin's mind, but he seems to be un- happy. I am truly sorry if I am the cause of his unhappiness: I believe his uneasiness is daily increasing perceptibly to us all." " Since the Colonel and his son came," re- plied Mrs. Maxwell, " he does seem more un- settled ; but my dear child, I want to know

your sentiments with respect to Henry : you have heard how his and his father's wishes tend, let me know what you think." " How can you ask me, mamma ; is he not almost a perfect stranger to us ? He has to me the appearance of one wearing a mask. I know nothing of his temper, but if it resembles his father's it can not be an excellent one ; we know nothing of his mind, his inclinations, or his pursuits, and we have absolutely nothing to guide us in our estimate of his qualifications to make a wife happy. You would, I am sure, be the last in the world to wish me to give my hand to one whom I do not love, and perhaps may never learn to love." . " Indeed Griselda," replied her mother, " you may depend upon it that I for one will never seek to force your inclinations. This Henry is, as you say, a stranger to us ; he has become, probably, so habituated to con- ceal his real views and ideas from his father, that his countenance has at last assumed that strange expression denoting duplicity, which you have noticed. I would not have you for ten times five hundred a year marry one whom you could not love or respect, or who would be likely to cause you any mental suffering." " You speak," said Griselda ; " like my own sweet, gentle mother—my kindest and truest friend. I confess that I have scarcely dared to look in this young man's face, but when I did steal a casual glance, I saw a fearful, impetuous expression in his dark restless eye, that chilled my very blood. What does papa think of this important business " " He thinks, to my fancy, a great deal too much of it, Griselda," answered Mrs. Max- well. " He is intoxicated with the idea. I am not surprised at it, for we must allow it is highly flattering to him both in his posi- tion as a gentleman and to his feelings as a father. He thinks that Colonel Arnott is the finest old gentleman in the world, and that his son Henry will be, when his character becomes fully developed, a finer one still." " Too fine," said Griselda, " far too fine for happiness. Rich, young, gay, the sport of fashion, the victim of idleness, he would lead his young wife about for a time as something worth looking at, something to be admired, and then shut her up in some gloomy man- sion while he himself sought daily excitement at the gaming table, in the wine-glass, or in gay and attractive society. Mamma, my ambition does not soar to this unenviable height of wedded bliss." " And why, Griselda, can you not reverse this picture ? Is it not possible that he might be a good and a kind husband, especially if, as his father seems willing to answer, for him, that he loves you sincerely ? If he were in- clined to plunge into reckless dissipation, might not your influence, gently and moderately exercised, draw him from the abyss ? Women whose husbands fall into error, and neglect those attentions which create and foster mutual love and domestic peace, are quite mistaken if they think of calling back wandering affection by growing fretful or jealous, putting on sour looks, or affecting ridiculous airs of injured innocence ; but they seldom fail to succeed if they adopt the op- posite course, and persevere in it, make their home a happy one, and receive their husbands at all times with smiles of love and kind- ness." " I think," said Griselda, that they should study well the characters and dispositions of those self-willed lords before they finally con- sent to resign their liberty. It would be an amiable and philanthropic work no doubt to reclaim a a dissipated husband ; but it would lead to a more certain kind of happiness to remain single, or do as you did mamma marry one whose tastes did not attract him to the edge of the abyss of worldly plea- sure. What Henry Arnott's tastes are I can only infer from his manners and conversation, and although I have conversed but little with him, the inference is not in his favor." " He may be only a little gay and thought- less," said the mother. " Youth is the season for gaiety and thoughtlessness, and young men are always more or less unsettled ; more- over we must consider that the way in which his extraordinary father addressed him, and delights in crowing over and insulting him, is not calculated to make his amiable qualities shine out with any peculiar lustre. But, my dear child, I seek not to influence you ; your marriage to this young man would certainly make you independent, in a pecuniary point of view, of his wildest caprices ; but it would also involve your separation from me, and that would be a blow I could scarcely endure. I have but one daughter, and she is too good, too highly valued to be lightly parted with." " Never fear, mamma," said Griselda, " un- less my father coerces me into this marriage —but he cannot, he will not do that—I will not leave you, at least until you think proper to persuade me that it is my duty to enter into the married state. I am too happy with you to wash for any change even if I could be raised to the dignity of a Josephine, Empress of the French." " I heard from Jemima," said Mrs. Max- well, " (but I do not tell you this to prejudice you against Henry) what farmer White's opinion of him is already. He is skilled, it seems, in the science of physiognomy, a disciple of Lavater, though perhaps he never heard of that philosopher, and as he once told me himself, seldom fails in forming a correct judgmeant of a man's disposition and habits by studying the lineaments of his face." " What is it, mamma ?'' " I should think it my duty to tell you," said Mrs. Maxwell, " more especially if I thought you were likely to become the wife of Henry Arnott ; for then, supposing White to be correct in his surmises, it would give you some idea of what you might ultimately expect. He went into the kitchen after breakfast and stood by the fire, while Edwin and Charles were getting their horses, when Jemima asked him what he thought of the

young man with the gold chain and black eyes. White asked her why she wanted to know, and she answered that it was reported he was going to marry her young mistress. As soon as he heard this— I use Jemima's own words—he put on a terri- ble frown, almost stamped with his foot on the floor, and said in a deep, solemn voice— ' He should not marry a daughter of mine if he rode in a golden chariot and his horses were shod with diamonds.' Jemima pressed him to explain himself further, but he would not, merely saying that it would be a good match as far as money went, and as for any- thing else he might be deceived." " And did you tell that to papa ?" said Griselda. " No, I have not told him yet, and when I do he will probably tell me not to listen to such stupid nonsense. I cautioned Jemima not to mention it to anyone. It is quite pos- sible that there are some young ladies in the world, though they may be happily few, who would, if in your singular position, marry this young gentleman for the sake of the pecuniary advantages attending such a marriage, and leave all other circumstances to be considered when the attractive annuity was secured ; but I should be sorry to think that a daughter of mine could be actuated by such mercenary motives as to barter her happiness for gold." " There is no danger mamma," said Griselda, " of my leaving you at present, nor will I ever marry Mr. Arnott or any other person without your unqualified approval. I hope papa will not be so unreasonale as to insist upon my immediately conforming to his wishes to gratify the whims of this despotic old Colonel ; and it will make me very unhappy if he should, out of consideration for me, be unnecessarily harsh to poor friendless Edwin." As Griselda said these words she kissed her mother affectionately, and gathering up her work left the room. Mrs. Maxwell continued her employment until Jemima broke in upon her reverie, and summoned her to the kitchen to superintend the arrangements for dinner. (To be continued.)