Chapter 36697381

See chapter in newspaper

Chapter NumberXLII
Chapter Url
Full Date1868-05-02
Page Number2
Word Count3307
Last Corrected2020-01-30
Newspaper TitleLaunceston Examiner (Tas. : 1842 - 1899)
Trove TitleThe Maxwells of Bremgarten
article text

THE MAXWELLS OF BREMGARTEN. A STORY OF TASMANIA. [Founded on Facts.] (ALL RIGHTS ARE RESERVED.) (Continued from Saturday, 11th April.) CHAPTER XLII. MR. JUNIPER GETS READY FOR MRS. EARLS- LEY'S BALL. Our respected friend Mr. Johnson Juniper, with the impatience peculiar to a bachelor of forty when under the influence of an invita- tion to a lady's tea party, awoke from his slumbers at an early hour on the morning of the eventful Thursday. The slightest tinge of dawn yet visible in that part of the world was just beginning to peep into the little window of his sleeping apartment, and he sat up in bed to convince himself that the morning of this the happiest day of his life was really come. Satisfied in this particular he lost no time, but hastily scrambled out of bed, vociferating as he did so the magic word—" Cook !" He paused for a reply. " Cook !" said Mr. Juniper, in a somewhat louder tone. Another pause. " Cook !" said Mr. Juniper, in a still louder key. Still no answer. " COOK !" roared Mr. Juniper, giving at the same time two or three tremendous thumps on his bedroom door with one of his boots ; which unusual clamor had the de- sired effect of awaking the important official, who replied while laboring under evident terror and nstonishment "Y—s Sir—r—r ?" " Time for breakfast ;" answered his master, in an offended tone. " It's not daylight yet, Sir ;" remonstrated the cook with several yawns. " Yes it is," said Mr. Juniper, " get up and get breakfast." The cook was heard to sigh ; indeed, we wonder that he did not weep. It was not our acquaintance Heffernan, for that dreadful and incorrigible old drunkard had been sent much against his will to serve a term of six months in the chain gang at Ross, after having been informed by Mr. Earlsley who gave him the sentence, that he should be certainly sent to Macquarie Harbor the very next time he committed himself. The new cook was a young man who prided himself upon his soft speech, correct pronunciation, delicate complexion, and shining black hair, which he kept well polished with pork slush. After a few convulsive turnings in his com- fortable bed he at length prevailed upon him- self to get up in obedience to his master's summons, and as he was a prodigiously smart fellow when thoroughly awake, he managed to dress himself, light his fire, and have breakfast ready in the short space of half an hour. Then knocking in a ladylike manner at his master's door, he breathed through the keyhole in his peculiar oily way— " Breekfast is ready, Sir." " That's right," said Juniper, " but I'm not ready for it yet." The worthy bachelor was in a very un- usual state of excitement. He had lain awake nearly all night forming his plans. As the river was too high to be crossed on horseback he would have to cross in his canoe, and either swim his horse or trust to being able to borrow one from his friend Maxwell. But not being quite sure that Maxwell would have one to spare, and not wishing to put such an insult upon Mrs. Earlsley as to march to her place on foot like a sheepshearer or a constable, he decided on adopting the former course, though he had his misgivings as to whether his steed Buf- falo would take the water quietly or not, it being a long time since he had tried him. As causes of delay might possibly occur, and it would not do to keep Mrs. Earlsley wait- ing for him, he determined to make an early start and call at Bremgarten as he went by ; taking the opportunity of offering his ser- vices as escort on the dangerous road to Mrs. Maxwell and the young ladies ; his services he knew would be highly acceptable, conse- quently he felt that he was a personage of considerable importance. And then he pic- tured to himself the reception Mrs. Earlsley would probably give him : would he be asked to sit at her right hand or at her left ? Would she give him a gentle hint to open the ball with her eldest daughter and so cut out Lieutenant Dawlish ? Would she nod to him sweetly as they entered the supper room, and request him to distribute his favorite wattle bird pie to the smiling friends around him ? Aye, chuckle Juniper under your snug blanket, and think of the wattle bird pie and the flaky piecrust. After giving the order for breakfast Mr. Juniper lit his candle and commenced the important operations of the toilet. His hand was by no means so steady as it was on ordi- nary occasions ; nevertheless he stropped his razor and resolved to go through the mar- tyrdom of shaving bravely; and he did go through it though not without two or three not very amiable ejaculations of—" Deuce take this abominable razor !" " oh, bother it !" and sundry violent applications of the delinquent instrument to its well worn strop. He now looked at his chin in the glass with dismay : here was a nick and there was a gash ; on one side a little vein was laid open, and on the other a quarter of a square inch of skin was carried away bodily. The victim of all this punishment frantically searched the corners of the room for cobwebs, to the manifest consternation of the spiders ; and when he had collected a sufficient quantity he dabbed them on his chin with a smack, making himself look like a certain powerful emperor—who wasn't emperor then—with his beautiful im- perial wisp. And yet the unhappy bachelor, if he could only bring himself to believe it, might have been spared this smarting annoy- ance by a few kind and encouraging words, spoken in gentle tones as if from the adjacent

bed-clothes—" Take your time, Johnson, my dear." Indulging in a few smothered though vain growls, our bachelor dressed himself in his cleanest shirt and finest clothes. These con- sisted of a suit of black, moth-eaten in places, but still not much the worse for wear, con- sidering they had only been worn once in the space of five years. Having admired himself —all but his gridiron chin—to his heart's content, in his cracked looking-glass, he walked into his parlor, where the table was laid for breakfast, and a cheerful fire burning, the light of which unceremoniously thrust into shade the glimmering candle on the table. He stood for awhile before the fire to enjoy its genial glow, thoughtfully contem- plating the early streaks of dawn as they became perceptible through the opposite window. The sky was clear, and the air calm. The magpies had commenced their usual morning concert, laughing and chatter- ing to each other with self-complacent and cunning croaks, as who should say, " Ho, Juniper ! hi, Juniper ! come out, come out !" until the chorus was taken up by birds of the feather at a distance, and brought back again with renewed bursts of merriment. All nature smiled, and Juniper thought he would smile too, but being compelled to think of his cracked chin he made a wry face instead, and sat down to breakfast. He quietly disposed of about two pounds of fat bacon and four or five cups of invigorating tea, and when the demands of appetite were fully satisfied, drew his chair to the fire and smoked his pipe. In about an hour Mr. Juniper walked forth into his garden. The sun was up, but the ground was moist with a heavy dew. He was surprised and annoyed to find his garden gate wide open, and thinking of his cabbages and ex- perimental grasses, he strode hastily down the path to drive out whatever intruders he might discover. To the complete discom- fiture of his amiable temper he found his own cunning old bull and three favorite cows demolishing his cabbages with becoming gravity. We will not set down the exclama- tions of the sorely tried surveyor as he seized a stick and belabored the offenders. The cows and bull, not a little surprised at such treatment, and thinking perhaps that their master was mad, immediately cocked their tails, and rushed furiously for the open gate, tearing down a couple of valued apple trees on the way. Once outside they kicked up their heels ironically, as much as to say, " Who cares for you or your stick ?" Fastening the gate he walked down the pathway again. He paused and looked at his apple trees, and murmured to himself with a sigh—" It never rains but it pours." Before giving orders to his gardener about restoring the trees to their proper position he thought he would make it circuit of his gar- den to see that nothing else was wrong. Yes, everything was right, even his carefully made pit of choice potatoes comfortably stowed away for winter's use—Ha ! what's that !— did his eyes deceive him ! A tunnel into the very heart of his potatoe-pit, and the head and shoulders of the most ravenous sow that ever any unfortunate farmer was cursed with, buried therein in luxurious gluttony. To seize another stick and administer a tre- mendous whack on the hind-quarters of the miscreant pig did not occupy the active bachelor a second. But the warning voice of " Take it easy, Johnson, my dear," did not reach his ears : nor did his impetuous spurt allow him to consider that one savage sow might possibly accomplish what three quiet cows and a bull never thought of. The animal when she found herself so rudely assailed, backed from the tunnel with an impetus as if she had been shot from a can- non, and turning sharply round on the aggressor seized him by the leg, mangled his dress trousers, and finally upsetting him on the moist clay, snuffed the air with a martial grunt and took to her heels. Thrice unhappy Juniper ! to be on this the happiest morning of your life levelled with the ground by one of the lowest of the brute creation—to have your dress trousers torn, your dress coat besmeared with mud, your dignity and hat both crushed ! Nothing on earth can wash out this terrible stain on your honor but the blood of that wretched sow, and fearfully and wrathfully you swore to shed it. But swearing, my dear fellow, will not mend your inexpressibles. Our feel- ings of commiseration for your woful plight will not permit us to laugh. Pick yourself up bravely, go and dry your soiled coat, and get your dandy cook to brush it for you ; and if you cannot find another pair of trousers, set to work immediately and repair the damage as well as you can. He arose accordingly and entered his lonely mansion, though not, we regret to say, in as amiable a mood as we could have wished. His cook started and stared in horrified surprise when he saw his master in such an awful condition, though his own face was extremely red as if he had been discovered in some nefarious act. The fact was he had looked out of one of the front windows, had seen the whole affair, and now prudently, but at the risk of choking, suppressed his laughter. Juniper glared upon him for a moment and then said in a terrific voice—" Who left the garden gate open, sir ?" " I do not know, I assure you, sir," answered the cook, laying a gentlemanly emphasis on each word. " Then you ought to know, sir, it's your business to know. Look here, sir, how I am persecuted through the effects of your care- lessness ; but you think it fine fun ; you are laughing, sir." " Upon my word and honor, sir, I—" " Upon your stuff and nonsense, sir. Go and hide your hypocritical countenance in your kitchen, sir. Take care of yourself or Mr. Earlsley will have to deal with you." As the cook disappeared quickly, his master said no more. He took off his soiled coat and

spread it before the fire to dry. Then after hopelessly examining his nether garment he proceeded to turn his wardrobe over in the hope of finding another pair that might pos- sibly do. About three hours have elapsed and we now see our friend preparing to cross the river. His coat has been brushed and he is arrayed in pepper and salt unmentionables. He has his shepherd with him to give him a helping hand. His horse Buffalo is standing by with a large rope tied to his neck, Juniper and his shepherd enter the canoe and push off from the bank ; and the horse, after curvetting for a quarter of an hour, plunges into the water. They reach the other side in safety ; Buffalo is saddled and bridled, and as his master mounts he gives his final order for the day—" Take the canoe back, Tom ; I'll not come home till morning;" and as he rode on his way he began to chant the Bacchanalian chorus, " 'Till daylight doth appear," which imme- diately set the magpies off again cracking their sides in protracted hysterical giggles. He had not ridden far, however, before a sudden thought made him draw rein. He had heard that an English mail had arrived, and it was only ten o'clock—an unusually early hour in the morning for a smart young man to go to a tea party, even though he had ten miles to ride. This reflection made him turn his horse's head towards Avoca : he would ride for the post, and take Mr. Max- well's letters to him, thus rendering his com- pany doubly acceptable. Buffalo was now spurred into a rapid canter, and to do him justice he was as free to go as his rider could desire. The day had commenced at Bremgarten as other days usually did—at least since the arrival of the three influential visitors. The young ladies did not fail when breakfast was over to hold an animated discussion respect- ing the dresses they should wear at Mrs. Earlsley's forthcoming ball, and the young gentlemen betook themselves to the river's bank to enjoy a quiet smoke. As for the Colonel, he indulged in his usual exercise, namely, walking up and down in the garden, when the refreshing beams of the newly-risen sun, and the clear pure air of morning, im- parted a youthful elasticity to his footsteps, and revived some of the martial fire that whilom burned in his hazel eyes. The secluded walk of which he invariably took possession every day when the weather per- mitted, for at least a couple of hours, was shaded by fruit trees, though at this season of the year all the shade they could afford was that yielded by branches without leaves. But to compensate for the absence of sweet scented buds and rosy fruit, there were many native acacias and lordly eucalypti to show by their dense masses of dark green foliage that one moiety at least of the world of botany was blooming in life and health, while the other peacefully slept. Here the worthy old officer paced to and fro in solitude, no one, either master or servant, caring to intrude upon him. We have often regretted that our old friend was not of a literary turn of mind. If he had amused his declining days with jotting down on paper in his rough way the hundredth part of his adventures and experiences, and confided his manuscript to our care the world might possibly be astonished and delighted at some future time ; but like many old men and heroes of real life he had a profound dislike to pen and ink, and now thought his past heroic actions of no higher value than to amuse his friends at the dinner-table, or be growled in sonorous cadence to the trees and flowers as he walked up and down in Max- well's garden. For some reason or other which we do not find noted in our budget of indisputable facts, the projected marriage of Griselda and Henry Arnott was suffered to remain in abeyance. It is probable (though we cannot assert it positively) that the young lady was made acquainted by her father with the wishes of the Colonel, and the sentiments of his son so happily coinciding on this par- ticular point ; and being urged to make up her mind on the subject with as little delay as possible, the sensible girl had requested that more time should be allowed her, plead- ing that she and Mr. Arnott were strangers to each other ; that she was young and in- experienced ; and that she felt it to be her duty to study the young gentle- man's disposition with some at- tention before she could consent to confide the happiness of her future life to his keeping. Surmising thus far we may now assert more dogmatically that the Colonel did not mention the matter to her at all, taking it for granted, no doubt, that in a short time all things would be satisfactorily settled ; and that Henry did not allude to it in direct terms, naturally supposing that the simple monosyllable 'yes' would be eagerly pronounced whenever the important question should be popped. He agreed with Mr. Maxwell that the young lady should be allowed time to complete her admiring sur- vey (at a delicate distance) of his handsome person and congenial temper : and having now no rival at whom to contract his brows, he assumed the gay and pleasant air which, it must be confessed, became him admirably, and compelled our simple and blushing heroine to acknowledge within her own heart that it was always in his power to make himself exceedingly agreeable. Of his powers of endurance and amiable forbearance towards his fiery parent she had frequent opportunities of judging ; for the Colonel, as he became more naturalised in Maxwell's house, became also less reserved in his voluble castigations, going so far some- times as to address his son and namesake in the presence of the Maxwells and Isabel in terms which if addressed to us would have made us explode with terrific violence. Henry would calmly sip his wine and listen in silence, though with a slightly con- temptuous curl just barely perceptible on his

handsome lip, such to speeches as the follow- ing, accompanied as they invariably were by an intense staring of the hazel eyes and ferocity of expression truly shocking to be- hold—" We don't want your opinion, Sir— you think yourself a very pretty and clever fellow, and I'm well aware that it is one of Nature's laws that old men must give place to young men ; but don't be too over- bearing, Sir ;—by the sword of Cambyses, if I was only twenty years younger I'd bundle you out neck and crop to earn your bread or beg it from door to door." On such occasions the individuals present with difficulty sup- pressed their laughter, and Charles Maxwell with his lips screwed up to double pressure would maliciously add to Harry's chagrin by slightly kicking his shins under the table. If Mr. Maxwell had been in the habit of lectur- ing his son in a similar manner and holding suspended over him from day to day the keen blade of Damocles, that facetious young gentleman might have screwed up his lips after a different fashion, and been somewhat opposed to having his shins kicked into the bargain. (To be continued.)