Chapter 36695868

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Chapter NumberXXXVII
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Full Date1868-02-08
Page Number2
Word Count3790
Last Corrected2020-01-29
Newspaper TitleLaunceston Examiner (Tas. : 1842 - 1899)
Trove TitleThe Maxwells of Bremgarten
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THE MAXWELLS OF BREMGARTEN. A STORY OP TASMANIA, [Founded on Facts.] (ALL RIGHTS ARE RESERVED.) (Continued from Thursday, Jan. 23) CHAPTER XXXVII. ARRIVAL OF ISABEL—MR. JUNIPER BEGS LEAVE TO INTRODUCE A FRIEND. The speaker paused and gazed with a dis- turbed air on the wood burning in the grate, which just then crackled and sparkled with a loud explosion, and sent half-a-dozen fiery particles flying through the room. Griselda rose, collected the burning fragments on the fire-shovel, and returned them to the grate, saying as she resumed her seat— " That was an extraordinary old woman— a perfect witch. Is it fair to ask, Isabel, as you have roused that universal weakness of woman, curiosity, what those other matters are which have not yet manifested themselves in reality ?" " I may reduce those matters," answered Isabel, " to one subject. It is one on which I would not speak to any persons but those whom I esteemed as very particular friends, and as you and your mother are classified as such, I see no harm in telling you what it is. It relates to that unknown but important personage, my future husband." " I have often been surprised, my dear," said Mrs. Maxwell, " why you have not been married—a young lady with your personal attractions and splendid expectations." " I never made the question of marriage a hobby, Mrs. Maxwell," replied Isabel, " I have no desire to marry. The Hindoo Sibyl gave my nurse to understand that my mar- riage was involved in great obscurity, and that I would never be happy in the married state unless my husband was a phœnix, whom she attempted to describe. He is to be a model of perfection whom nobody has seen, or cares to see ; an interesting youth of my own age—neither dark nor fair—a man of mind, a poetical genius, and as poor as any living illustration of the well-known proverb can be supposed to be. He will be endowed with a few personal qualifications by which I may be able to distinguish him in a crowd ; amongst the rest he was to have but one arm, or be otherwise wounded in battle, an excel- lent recommendation truly, and the pro- phetess warned me that if such a man crossed my path and made love, I was, if I valued my own happiness, neither to despise nor re- ject him." " And I presume," said Mrs. Maxwell, with a smile, " that this model of perfection has not yet crossed your path ?" " One corresponding strictly with the for- tune-teller's description," returned Miss Arnott, " has not yet presented himself, but about twelve months after you left Sydney a sloop-of-war arrived, and remained a consider- able time. The officers were very gay, and the fair ladies of our city made many tem- porary conquests among them. The captain himself, a handsome man about forty years of age, paid very particular attention to your humble servant and talked himself hoarse on the floras and faunas and sylvas of the various countries he had visited. He was particularly interesting on account of having lost an arm in an action with an American frigate ten years previously. From a casual acquaintance he grew into a lover, and at length surprised us all by asking my hand in marriage. I, thinking that my destined hour had arrived, and having papa's and mamma's approbation, consented to become the queen of his quarter-deck as he phrased it, although he had no more poetry in him than one of his own carronades. But while all things pro- gressed towards a happy denouement, Isabel was left to mourn the loss of her lover. He had escaped in battle, but was killed in Sydney, or near it, by a runaway horse. I should like to know if the fatality pursuing the footsteps of our family had taken him into its cold and deadly embrace." Mrs. Maxwell and Griselda both shuddered instinctively, and the former was about to address some appropriate observations to her guest when the dogs outside set up a loud chorus of barking, then footsteps were heard in the kitchen then footsteps in the hall, then a shuffle of footsteps and a smothered laugh outside the parlor door, then a knock was heard on the said door, and Mrs. Max- well said, " Come in." The door opened, and the round, good- humored face of Mr. Johnson Juniper was thrust in cautiously--" Your servant, ladies," said he. " O, how do you do, Mr. Juniper ?" said Mrs. Maxwell ; " pray come in and sit down ; allow me to introduce Miss Arnott to our neighbor. Mr. Juniper, this is Colonel Arnott's daughter—pray, Mr. Juniper, do come in and shut the door." " Yes, ma'am ; how do you do, Miss ? Will you let me introduce a particular friend, Mrs. Maxwell ?" " Certainly, Mr. Juniper," said that lady in great wonder ; " we shall be very glad to see any friend of yours." While she was speaking Juniper had turned and without any further ceremony lugged in his friend by the collar. The friend seemed bashful, and was evidently not willing to be introduced until compelled to yield, not only to the forcible tugging at his collar, but also to a sudden thrust administered by somebody in the rear ; and thus noleus volens he came spinning into the apartment with considerable velocity. The three ladies started up in astonishment, while Charles and Henry entered the room after the visitors, both choking with laughter. " Allow me to present Mr. Julius Cæsar Appledaddy, ladies," said Juniper with his hand still on his friend's collar. He was a fine looking youth of fourteen or there- abouts, dressed in a suit of fustian, which fitted him but indifferently. He was, in short, the very identical sable young gentle-

man whom Juniper had captured a few weeks previously, who had escaped, swam across the river to the delight of Maxwell and the Colonel, and had been recaptured in the manner already described. He looked round the room with a frightened air, twitch- ing his limbs occasionally as if conscious of a painful restraint in his suit of clothes. The ladies when their first surprise was over began to laugh, and the laugh was re-echoed by the gentlemen, and increased until it re- sounded through the whole house, so that the old Colonel heard it in his bedroom, and came down stairs pulling with unusual ex- citememt to enquire what the matter was. Mr. Juniper's friend looked uneasily at the window and then back at the door, but seeing that an escape by either aperture was impracticable, he made a virtue of necessity and began to laugh too. His features re- laxed into a broad grin, and he stood in a most ludicrous attitude, gaping first at Mrs. Maxwell, then at Isabel, then at Griselda, whose fair ringlets seemed to fascinate him for awhile. Then the Colonel came and ex- amined him closely, catching him by the arm and turning him round, then pinching his nose and inserting his finger into the recesses of his mouth ; finally he drew up a chair and forced the young lion to sit down, though the young lion would have preferred his heels to sit upon were he allowed a choice. " Is this the gentleman, Sir, who put away the four and twenty 'possums and sucking pig in two days ?" asked the Colonel. " The very same, Sir ;" said Juniper. " Mr. Julius Cæsar Appledaddy—an expen- sive gentleman to keep." " And why did you give him that name, especially the last ?" pursued the Colonel. " Only a whim of mine, Sir," answered Juniper. " Julius Cæsar was a cele- brated—" " Yes, yes," interrupted the Colonel drily, " we were born a few weeks before the day after to-morrow, and have a fine idea about Julius Cæsar ; but the other names—Daddy- dapple was'nt it ?" " Appledaddy, Sir," said Juniper ; " a name, in fact, entirely of my own invention (here the worthy bachelor looked about him proudly)—my own invention, Sir. I have a ploughman, Sir, who has a son, and when he first came on the farm he got into the garden and made this son a present of some of my apples. The boy, a thick lipped fat fellow, not unlike this gentleman in appearance, followed his father about for two or three days crying and whining, ' Gi'e I a apple daddy ! gi'e I a apple daddy !' and so, Sir, I invented the name of Appledaddy, and applied it to him, Sir." " And a very clever invention, too, 'pon my honor," said the Colonel, and again the merry laugh rose to an extravagant pitch. " Now," said the Colonel, putting his hand in his pocket and drawing forth a sovereign, " Mr. Julius Cæsar Appledumpling, do you see this ?" He held his open hand up before the black boy's eyes, and the eyes saw the sovereign and admired it so much that the hand, re- ceiving a telegram to that effect, made a sudden pounce upon the shining object. The Colonel closed his hand, saying, " Not yet, my hero. Do you see those two young ladies there ? Now go and kiss one of them, whichever you like best, and I'll give you this." He then pointed to Griselda and Isabel, and gave instructions to the coal- colored young gentleman concerning the operation of kissing and how it should be properly performed. The youth was made with some difficulty to understand what he was required to do, but he was infinitely more backward about it than a great many natives of paler complexion would be if so violently tempted. At last he rose and went towards the ladies, hesitating on the way, but encouraged by the Colonel, and in the midst of laughter and pocket handkerchiefs deliberately applied the tips of his fingers to Griselda's cheek, put them then to his own lips, and beat a hasty retreat.* " And do you call that kissing ?" said the Colonel. " Pray, Colonel, do not insist on any more," said Griselda, laughing and blushing. The Colonel resumed his seat after giving the sovereign to Mr. Appledaddy. Just then Mr. Maxwell was heard approaching through the hall in conversation with some- body, the door opened, and Mr. Earlsley entered the room, followed by the master of the house. " Eh, ma'am," said Earlsley, glancing hastily round the room, and taking in with eagle stare every individual in it, " you have got company I see. Wish you joy ; how d'ye do ? Miss Maxwell, I hope you are well. Colonel Arnott, good afternoon, Sir ; your daughter, I presume ?" " Yes," said Mrs. Maxwell. " Allow me to introduce Miss Arnott to Mr. Earlsley"— " Or, if you will allow me to move an amendment, Mrs. Maxwell," said Earlsley, with the gallantry of a youth of twenty, " that you will kindly introduce Mr. Earlsley to Miss Arnott. I am delighted to make the acquaintance of the amiable and accom- plished daughter of my highly respected friend the Colonel," and the magistrate shook hands with Isabel, and then with the ladies and gentlemen all round, condescending even to present his first finger to Mr. Juniper, who shook it with as much warmth as if it had been the whole hand, with Earlsley's heart and soul enclosed therein. " Now who on earth has introduced this lively looking gentleman ?" said Earlsley, surveying the interesting aboriginal from head to foot. " I was just about to make the same en- quiry," said Mr. Maxwell. The question was answered by Mr. Juniper himself, who related for the edification of Mr. Earlsley the whole affair from the com- mencement, and when he had concluded, Colonel Arnott said, turning to Mrs. Max- * Fact.

well, " Have you any 'possums in your pantry, my dear madam ; Mr. Appledaddy may like to pick a bone " Mr. Earlsley begged to move—while he also begged his highly respected friend the Colonel for a pinch of snuff for obvious purposes, he could not bear the smell of new fustian—that the presence of Mr. Apple- daddy, or whatever his interesting name was, should be forthwith transferred to the kitchen, which motion was instantly seconded by Juniper, who seized his protege by the collar and lugged him out in a very ungentle- manly and disreputable manner, the ladies meanwhile using their pocket-handerchiefs freely and the gentlemen holding their noses, bursting with laughter, and applying them- selves vigorously to the Colonel's snuff-box, which was sent round by the benevolent owner for the obvious purposes to which Earlsley had alluded. When order was restored and Juniper had returned and resumed his seat, Mr. Earlsley proceeded to state the object of his visit. He said that Mrs. Earlsley would have written but she thought that a verbal message by him would answer quite as well. She sent her kind regards to Mrs. Maxwell and her daughter, and begged the pleasure of their company, also that of Mr. Maxwell, Colonel and Miss Arnott, Mr. Henry Arnott, and Mr. Charles Maxwell to tea on the evening of the following Thursday. She intended, Mr. Earlsley said, to have a few friends from the neighborhood of Avoca and Campbell Town, and he hoped the young ladies would find some amusement in a pleasant dance. Mrs. Maxwell and Colonel Arnott immedi- ately expressed their thanks for this gracious invitation, and their pleasure in accepting it, but the former added that their progress to and from Clifton Hall might possibly be at- tended with danger in these troublesome times. Earlsley replied that the moon would be nearly full by that time, and that a bullock or horse cart would be the best mode of conveyance, the gentlemen being provided with fire arms. And it was settled as Mr. and Mrs. Earlsley proposed. The conversation assumed a general tone : Earlsley asked the young ladies to favor him with some music, and they complied : they agreed so well together, the dark lady and the fair lady could play duets and quadrills together without any previous practice. Earlsley was an amusing gentleman when he thought proper so to be, and sometimes un- bent his magisterial dignity in pleasant chat and anecdotes ; but he had the peculiarity of never being able to laugh, at least externally, though an observer with his eyes open might possibly perceive by the ill-concealed sparkle in the eye and the half suppressed choking sound of the oft-repeated cadaverous chuckle that the most lively merriment was going on within. " We shall have Lieutenant Dawlish of the Buffs or Muffs, or something of that kind," said Mr. Earlsley, " but really I have no eyes for military matters and do not know whether the Lieutenant wears blue or buff or yellow on his sleeves ; but he's a clever young soldier, Colonel, always snuff- ing gunpowder and talking of laurels. He is the most successful officer we have had yet in taking bushrangers. Then amongst other people we shall have Mr. and Mrs. Ebeneezer Jones, of the St. Pauls, with their two sons and four daughters, and Mr. Gilbert Staple- ton, the great lauded proprietor, with his wife, son, and two daughters, with several other influential persons—and, indeed, now I recollect as Mr. Juniper is here, my wife said that she would be happy to see Mr. Juniper on next Thursday evening if not otherwise engaged." Juniper looked astonished at Mr. Earlsley's condescension, as, indeed, well he might ; rising from is chair he made a very profound bow and assured the magistrate that he would be supremely happy to give Mrs. Earlsley the pleasure of his company, as he had no other engagement whatever. " I will venture to express a hope, Sir," said the Colonel, " that we shall be favored— as such pleasant re-unions in such out of the way places are so deplorably rare—with the company of our interesting new acquaintance, Mr. Julius Cæsar Appledaddy." " Why, Sir," said Earlsley amid general laughter, " a thought of that nature passed through my own head just now, and if Miss Maxwell promises to become his ex- clusive partner for the evening I will un- hesitatingly comply with your wish." " I am sure Miss Maxwell can have no possible objection to that," said Henry Arnott. " What do you say to it yourself, Griselda, dear ?" said Isabel. " O, you need not ask, Isabel," said Griselda." " To speak seriously," said Earlsley, " I had myself thought of a partner for the gentleman, but she happens to be so ex- ceedingly sylph-like and slippery that I doubt if she were present whether even the comely form of Mr. Appledaddy could detain her for a few minutes. The lady in question was in- troduced to me—not in person, but in spirit, you must know—by my friend Dr. Ross, who related to me that being out in the bush one day by himself, he found a half-starved stock-keeper sitting on a fallen tree in the most deplorable plight imaginable. The doctor desired an explanation, and the miserable and hungry wretch told him that he had been out starving for two days ; that he had lost himself while pursuing an un- grateful belle of the native race. This nymph he had by some means or other captured and taken to his romantic retreat, in the fond hope that his society and en- dearments would throw a certain charm over his inacessible soli- tude. In his extreme tenderness he bestowed upon her his only remaining white shirt, and with his own handy put it on and buttoned it, so that she might appear worthy of the rank to which he intended to

elevate her. But the lady was not so easily reconciled to the brilliant destiny in store for her as might be expected, so her indulgent master chained her by the leg to a log, in order to win more surely her affection and confidence. The course of true love, however, et cetera and ditto, and the fair captive broke her bonds and took to her heels. For five weary, anxious hours did that shirt flutter and bound through the forest—o'er hill, down gully, through lagoon, into scrub, across river; and for five weary hours did the bereaved stock-keeper follow the fluttering of that shirt until at last it was ' lost to sight though still to memory dear,' and there he was after two days' rambling and scrambling in hopeless search of home, starving on a fallen tree." " Serve him right, the gay deceiver," said the Colonel. " That puts me in mind of the story of the sailors putting a black girl into a pair of breeches," said Juniper. " O, for shame, Mr. Juniper," said Mrs. Maxwell, raising her handkerchief, while Isabel and Griselda turned away their faces. " There's nothing wrong in it I assure you, ma'am," said Juniper alarmed. " Well, what about the breeches ?" said the Colonel. " Tell us the story, Sir," said Earlsley. " Do, Mr. Juniper," said Henry. " By all means," said Charles. " Certainly, let us have it," said Maxwell. " 'Pon my life, Sir," said Juniper, " 'tis nothing—nothing, ma'am, but a thing that was told me long ago about the French when trading with the natives. They saw a girl in possession of a very fine skin, of a hyena perhaps, and wanted to buy it of her, but she refused for a long time to part with it. At length she consented if they would give her some useful article in exchange, and they accordingly presented her with a pair of inexpressibles. How to array herself in these was the next difficulty, only to be solved by the girl getting between two of the French- men and raising herself on the shoulder of each while they guided her legs into the what-do-ye-call-ums, that's all,ma'am." While the ladies were overcome with handkerchiefs and confusion, Mr. Earlsley rose to go. " Well Mr. Juniper," said he, " if I had your leisure I would certainly write an interesting book on these subjects." " Yes, sir," broke in the surveyor, " and so I would if I had your brains. I was just going to recommend you to do it, sir, I don't know a better man, and you could get my friend Appledaddy's likeness taken and stuck in for a frontispiece." " With Mr. Juniper tugging at his collar," suggested Charles. " You are pleased to flatter me, Mr. Juniper," said Earlsley; " but I—; well, yes, it is possible that in the decline of my life I may find myself engaged in it compo- sition which might—mind I say might— make some small stir in literary circles." " No doubt of it," interrupted Juniper vociferously, " no doubt of it ; you know what Byron says ; (and here our friend quoted his favorite part for a wonder cor- rectly)— " 'Tis pleasant sure to see one's name in print : A book's a book, although there's nothing in't. While the company were convulsed with laughter Mr. Earlsley's face assumed its usual magisterial severity of expression, and with stinging tartness in his tone and manner he gave utterance to this terrific wish,— " May the devil fly away with Byron and you on his back, sir, and your friend Daddy- dapple stick to both of you for ever. Ladies, goodnight ; we shall expect you on Thurs- day evening." Thus, O frowning shade of noble poet, did this little big aristocrat, this lord of swamps and gun-trees, appreciate your glorious genius ! Be not angry with us, for thank Heaven we are not Earlsley ; we go with you and pity the weak and miserable creature. Our poor friend Juniper returned to his comfortless home that evening in sad and pensive loneliness, his friend Mr. Julius Cæsar Appledaddy having mysteriously van- ished out of Maxwell's kitchen while the above pleasant conversations were carried on in the parlor. The discovery was only made when Mr. Earlsley came out to mount his horse. As he rode away he looked over his shoulder, and in his eye the sparkle of in- ternal and fiendish satisfaction might have been observed to twinkle. The youth was gone, and with him the suit of fustian. The surveyor's friends condoled with him on his distressing loss ; but nothing more was ever heard respecting Mr. Appledaddy. The suit of fustian was, however, found some weeks afterwards, carefully rolled up and deposited in a hollow tree. (To be continued.)