Chapter 36647124

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Chapter NumberXXX
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Full Date1867-11-09
Page Number2
Word Count3576
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.j (ALL RIGHTS ARE RESERVED.) (Continued from last Saturday ) CHAPTER XXX. A RUPTURE IN THE HOMESTEAD. In the evening when the family were as- sembled at tea, and after the exciting events of the day had been commented upon and laughed over, the Colonel turned abruptly to Edwin and asked him if he would not like to push his fortunes in New South Wales. " Certainly, Sir," replied Edwin, " if I had a reasonable prospect of getting on in the world I should consider myself very much in the wrong if I did not make the trial ; but I do not know a soul in New South Wales, and am afraid there is but a poor chance for a re- spectable young man when all the good things that are going are snatched up by prisoners who have obtained their emancipation or tickets of leave." " But what if I give you a letter, Sir," said the Colonel, " that will make half a dozen friends for you at once, and your fortune in ten years if you only stick to it ?" " In that case, Sir," said Edwin, " I should feel deeply indebted to you for the rest of my life." " Well," said the Colonel, " I'll write such a letter and you can take it to Sydney if you think proper. If you have a head equal to that of your uncle whom I had the pleasure of knowing in Bengal, your fortune is made. I will just give you a sketch of yourself as you will appear when you are forty years old : You will be a fine looking fellow, with handsome whiskers and mustachios fit for any dragoon regiment, or to command a twenty-gun battery squinting over a parapet at a squadron of French men-of-war, like a weasel over a sweeping brush ; with an estate in the country yielding three thousand a year, with your cousins and nephews riding about and superintending the same. You will have a nice villa on the Parramatta river, or wherever you like, and will ride about in your carriage, with your wife looking out at one side and you at the other, like two people devotedly fond of one another, and be as happy with your books and gimcracks as a breachless brat half way down an empty sugar hogshead." Edwin joined, but not very cordially, in the laugh thus raised at his expense. When the venerable soldier pronounced the word wife he felt conscious that his countenance had fallen and changed color. At the con- clusion of the Colonel's romantic picture he bowed, and said with a smile—" I shall be grateful, Sir, for any introduction which will forward the views of an honest and honorable man. It may be a matter of indifference," he added, after a pause, " whether I ulti- mately settle here or in New South Wales ; but I was once presumptuous enough to entertain hopes that I should be allowed to cultivate a farm not very far from this place, with my highly respected relative for my landlord ; as that is evidently not agreeable, I shall without delay seek another path to the worldly independence which I so much desire." " There may be circumstances," said Max- well, with evident embarrassment, " peculiar and unforeseen—against such an arrange- ment ; but I am anxious—" " You need not mention those reasons, Sir," said Edwin, " I partly guess what they are. I am overwhelmed with grief when I think that I have allowed myself to trespass so long on the kindness of my friends—kindness, in- deed, which I shall never forget, and for which I hope Providence will never allow me to be ungrateful." With these words he rose from the table, and retired from the room. The Colonel and the Maxwell family were rather taken by surprise. The former began to regret that he had not used more caution in opening the subject of a change of residence to young Herbart, but comforted himself with the reflection that there were some people in the world gifted with such extraordinary tempers that there was no opening one's lips to them without incurring the risk of giving offence in some way or other, however unintentionally. He was glad, he said, to see that the youth had such a spirit ; let him go into the world, he will want all the spirit he can muster to carry him through it. Let him be all on fire like the planet Mercury, and a little rolling about on the face of our cold earth will soon cool him. Maxwell and his wife were silent on the subject ; Griselda did not feel called upon to make any observations ; and Charles with- drew in order to smoke a quiet pipe in the garden. Edwin went out into the cool night air to check, if he possibly could, the burning thoughts which thronged through his brain. That the proposal of the Colonel to send him off to Sydney with letters of introduction was a plan to get rid of him, pre-arranged with Maxwell, he had no doubt whatever. Indeed he must have been a fool if he had not noticed the increasing coolness of the head of the family, especially since the arrival of his highly-respected visitors, manifested as it was with but little reserve or restraint. It pained him to the quick to perceive that Mrs. Max- well was following the example of her hus- band, though her conduct and deportment towards him had not points sharpened by jealousy or dislike, as the manner of her husband seemed to have. She evidently had a high opinion of Edwin's honor and integrity, and was at no pains to conceal it ; but if her husband was so un- just as to take a dislike to or allow his mind to be filled with prejudices against Edwin, she was not to blame, and her remonstrances—if she could venture to make any on such a delicate subject—could not be supposed to have much weight in re- moving erroneous impressions from Maxwell mind. It had not escaped the sensitive ob-

servation of Herbart that there was some- thing brewing amongst the elders concerning Henry Arnott aid Griselda, of which he thought—but perhaps this was one of the chimeras of his two powerful imagination— great pains were being taken to keep him in ignorance. The demeanor of Griselda to- wards him was painfully distant, and her manner plainly becoming more reserved and confused every day, but knowing as she did the sentiments of her father how could it be otherwise ? Thinking over all these things in his disturbed mind, and repelling in thought the disdainful glances of Henry Arnott, whose aspect of jealous rivalry had been only too conspicuous during the short time of their acquaintance, it was with a mingled feeling of regret and ride that he exclaimed— " Yes, I have been here too long ; an imme- diate change is necessary." He walked out upon the lawn and up to the public road with burning thoughts still flowing in upon his brain, and vainly at- tempting to resolve themselves into some definite plan of action. A thousand recol- lections of the past—a thousand anticipations of the future : the former tinged with the fading colors of a beautiful picture seen long ago but distinctly remembered ; the latter dark and gloomy a the moonless night, crowded themselves upon his fancy. He would gladly have turned to the home of his fathers, and staring afresh with renewed courage face the world under other circum- stances and in so other latitude, but this was now impossible. He would have been glad to accept the offer of the worldly-wise Colonel, and make the best use he could of his liberty and the old gentleman's letter, from which such astounding effects were pro- mised in liberal and honied phrases. But he thought he knew the motives from which those promises, which might after all prove vain and chimerical were made, and his in- domitable pride, ever on the watch for plausible reason to explode, forbade in the most peremptory manner his entertain- ing such an idea. What was he to do, then ! Leave Bremgarten he must, and leave it he certainly would, and that on the following morning before daylight, but whither to direct his footsteps ? That was now the important question. He asked it of himself a hundred times as he walked hurriedly back- wards and forwards on the gravelled walk, but it was in vain that he tried to render to himself a satisfactory reply. The night was frosty and clear, and the air perfectly still. The stars shone brightly, except in one quarter of the heavens, where they were concealed behind a black, ominous cloud which bore the eyes of the disturbed youth the nearly exact shape of a gigantic coffin. He watched it long and steadfastly as it rose over the hills to the eastward, beyond which the waters of the great Pacific ceaselessly lashed the storm-beaten coast. It had no terrors for him, that dark cloud, even if it came to shadow forth his own last and real resting-place, and to remind him that whatever grief and trouble should be his lot in this world the hand of death would, so surely as the cloud lowered in the sky, release him from them sooner or later ; albeit it was quite possible that the miseries to which flesh is heir might make life in- supportable before the hand of death should perform that friendly office. These ideas were quickly changed for others. He listened to the sounds of the rushing river, and dark thoughts of sleeping peacefully under its waters or floating down to the sea on its bosom, insensible alike to joys and sorrows, came upon him. Then as his at- tention was diverted by the harsh croaking of myriads of frogs, as they lifted their voices in the strength of united emulation, his thoughts took another direction. Visions of a happy home—its happiness rendered perfect by the memory that refused to recall a single shadow—sprang into existence, not indeed for the first nor yet for the last time. Rays of the sun of youth and boy- hood, ever welcome and ever beautiful, burst forth from the drifting clouds in which his present lot was so unhappily cast. He thought of the pleasant woodbine-covered cottage on the banks of his native Dodder, and of the beloved beings who dwelt there, who thought of him he did not doubt with many tears. He thought of the days when care sat lightly upon him ; when he tumbled through the shaded groves and sweet scented meadows of his home ; when he swam in the glassy pools of the charming little river ; or explored with eager curiosity the mysterious recesses of some venerable ivy covered ruin : and he wondered if he should ever enjoy such days again. Beloved remem- brances ! why do ye start up so vividly agonizing the heart already torn with an- guish, by unfolding scenes of youth, home, and love, never, O never, to be enjoyed again ? There may be charms in solitude which it is said some sages have seen ; but our eyes have been always unfortunately blind to them. There is certainly, as the author of Childe Harold tells us, 'a pleasure in the pathless woods,' if we know our way, and can see the light of a hopeful object glimmer- ing in the distance. There may be ' a rapture on the sea-beat shore,' but to feel and enjoy it one must not have the clouds of desolation on his heart. It may not be solitude ' to sit on rocks and muse o'er flood and fell,' as long as there is a comfortable home with its snug arm-chair and cheerful fire to which we have the power to return when we will, when the anxious mother, the kind and loving wife, the smiling sister, or the happy, thoughtless children may ' mark our coming and look brighter when we come ; ' but, with- out these, we are disposed to think that the rugged mountain, the alpine torrent, the sequestered glen, and the desolate heath are not much more solitary than the crowded city where the ' hum and shock of men' are heard and felt from day to day. It is past our weak comprehension how man can pro-

mise the most obscure ray of happiness to himself apart from the sympathy of his fel- low man, and we pity as much as we con- demn the misanthrope. To resume the thread of our story, Edwin entered the house once more and having lit his candle in the kitchen proceeded softly to his room, where he partially undressed and threw himself on his bed. He was alone, and apparently unheeded, by any member of the household. He tossed about in a restless, unhappy manner, now ready to burst with indignation against Maxwell, now boiling with rage against himself ; he thought— and oh ! what tears his thoughts brought with them !—of Griselda ! and of the hidden love that absorbed his whole soul. " Why," he mused, " did my hard fate direct me to this place? I have loved her from infancy, still if I had not come hither this passion might have died like the perfume of a flower when the stem that carries its nourishment is broken. Or why is she so very fair that even the unfeeling and overbearing votaries of wealth and pleasure must love as soon as they behold her ? Idiot ! dolt that I have been, was not the world wide enough that no place would suit me but this, when I knew the smouldering fire would be kindled to a scorching flame ? And now I must bear a degree of humiliation compared to which death would be ecstasy." In the midst of such painful thoughts and vain regrets our hero fell into a slumber, from which he was soon awakened by the entrance of his cousin Charles. This kind-hearted young gentleman entertained a very friendly feeling for his woe-begone relative, and lost no opportunity of showing his friendship by speaking kind words, and administering little items of consolation by all the means in his power, whenever he saw the weight of gloomy thoughts pressing heavily on Edwin's mind. He often rallied him on his too frequent fits of dejection, with the best intentions, but with some severity of language ; but on the present occasion he undressed himself without speaking, blew out his candle, and tumbled into bed. Here his efforts to " steep his senses in forgetfulness" were evidently unsuc- cessful, and after a few restless tossings and premonitory coughs, he asked Edwin if he was asleep. Edwin replied in the negative. " You've thrown down the gauntlet nicely at last," said Charles. " What you intend to do with yourself now ?" " I intend to start in the morning," answered Edwin, " and seek my fortune elsewhere." " And where do you intend to go to ?" " I don't know," was the reply, " and if the truth must come, I don't care." " That's what Harry said—that scamp in the spelling book who was devoured by a lion," said Charles. Edwin made no answer, and Charles con- tinued, after a short pause " But I suppose you will not go without saying good by to father and mother, and getting the Colonel's letter ?" " As to taking leave of your father and mother," replied Edwin, " I should be most happy to do so, but I think my appearance would savor a little of the contemptible. A needy adventurer departing on the wide world with a stick on his shoulder and a shirt in a handkerchief tied to the end of it— a humiliating spectacle indeed. No ; I have but little desire for such exhibitions. With respect to the Colonel's letter I will not trouble him ; his professions may be sound, but my private opinion is that his heart is worldly and rotten." " His letter at least will be no trouble to carry," said Charles. " Not worth the trouble of carrying, de- pend upon it," said Edwin. " I will not consent to receive any favor from him, and therefore will never incur a debt of gratitude either to him or his descendants." " But Edwin, you do not surely seriously mean to commence tramping the country in search of a job, without money, without a friend ?" " A friend ?" said Edwin, " what is that like ? Where is such a thing to be found ? I came to this country on the invitation of a friend, and what is the result ?" " Not such as I could have wished, cer- tainly," answered Clharles ; " but tempers and whims are strange thing. We shall have them ourselves when we come to be married and have families. Many a man was a jolly good natured fellow before he was married, and after that important event be- came as lively and agreeable as a skull stuck on a stick staring in at your bedroom win- dow." " That's a very appropriate simile," said Edwin, " and the thing itself would be a pleasant object of contemplation, though I think some people, without allusion to any in this house, would make good skulls and skeletons too. But to drop this trifling, I must confess I am rather puzzled about my future proceedings—whether it would be more advisable to proceed to Launceston or to Hobart Town, and seek employment in either place, or take my passage to some other country where my increased stock of experi- ence may be of some service." " Why not go to head quarters at once," said Charles, " and apply for a grant of land ? The thing is done every day, and I am sure a well-looking and able bodied young fellow like you would not be refused. They say the Governor is very liberal in that way, and I am sure you ought to get five hundred acres at least, just to remunerate you for con- descending to come into the country at all. I will ask for a thousand when I am of age, and if I don't get them I'll tell Arthur to his face that I will withdraw my countenance and my person from the beggarly place altogether." " If I could persuade Colonel Arthur that I was some very distant relation of his," said Edwin, " I might have some chance of suc- cess ; but as I cannot do that, and have neither property nor friends, I see no chance in that quarter. However, if I were in town I would

try, but how to get there is one of my chief difficulties." " You must go with Baxter' waggon, or you can walk to Campbell Town an get a seat in the mail cart. How much money have you got ?" " Between four and five pounds." " They'll charge you four for a seat in the mail, and no very enviable one either. You must take the waggon, and I know where to lay my hands on a few pounds which I will freely lend you till the times mend. Besides, my father owes you money, and in all reasonable justice you ought not to go without it ; I heard him say myself that he would re- munerate you for your services." " I am obliged to you Charley for your kind offer of assistance, and to your father for his friendly intentions. But I cannot accept the former as I do not see my way clearly how I can repay you, and I will not accept the lat- ter as I do not consider your father owes me anything. I have slept in his house, and fed at his table, and my services have been very inadequate. I have also gained some know- ledge of bush farming, which may be the foundation of future independence. With what little I have I work my way or perish." " Well, Edwin," said Charles, " if you be- come a Tasmanian bushman you will be the proudest and most stiff-necked one that this happy island will ever be able to boast of. I would not have toiled as you have done for nothing, for any uncle or cousin, first or fif- tieth, under the sun, and I'll strike for high wages when you are gone, as I shall have to do everything and go everywhere. But you won't go without knocking me up in the morn- ing, will you ?" " I'll not knock anybody up," said Edwin. " Never mind me, Charley, I'll bid you now good night and good by, and I'll come to see you on some future day, when dame Fortune has smiled upon me if she does not smile on me you will never see me again. All I ask of you is to make my apologies to your parents, and say farewell for me to Griselda." " I will, Edwin ; good night, and good by ; but I'm sure to be awake when you are going." (To be continued.)