Chapter 36698173

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Chapter NumberXLVII
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Full Date1868-06-13
Page Number2
Word Count3059
Last Corrected2020-01-31
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 Saturday, 6th June.) CHAPT'ER XLVII. COLONEL ARTHUR'S APPEARANCE. THE confusion into which our friends at Bremgarten were thrown by the tragic event recorded in our last Chapter had not by any means subsided, when Mr. Earlsley, accom- panied by Colonel Arthur, the Lieutenant Governor, followed by a train of attendants, rode up to the door. After a suitable intro- duction, and the salutations usual on such occasions had taken place, the visitors entered Maxwell's parlor. Here the settler related, to the great astonishment of Earlsley and the Governor, the circumstances attending Colonel Arnott's sudden death. During the narration the tears forced themselves from his eyes, and he declared that his good old friend had looked so remarkably well, and exhibited so much of his invincible spirit, five minutes be fore the sad catastrophe took place, that he would not have hesitated about insuring his life for at least five years longer. He apolo- gised to his Excellency for the disturbed state of his house and expressed himself highly honored by the present visit, to which Colonel Arthur, in polite and sympathetic terms, replied. Mr. Earlsley went up stairs to look at the body of his respected friend, for it had been carried up and laid on the bed wherein it had reposed in life. It was a ghastly spectacle, for the servant had only just commenced to wash the blood from the face and breast, Isabel could not be torn away. She held one of the dead hands in both of hers, and hung over it in a paroxism of tears : indeed she seemed utterly wretched, and sobbed as if her heart would break. Beside her knelt Griselda, with an arm round her neck, supporting and try- ing to soothe her, though as yet in vain. The magistrate was touched with pity for the extreme affliction of the officer's daughter ; and spoke kindly to her, begging her to retire with Miss Maxwell, and he comforted her as these things were inevitable, and not to be so much wondered at when occurring to men who had reached the good old age of her late father. But Isabel was inconsolable : her grief burst forth in a fresh torrent. " Oh, no," she cried, " I cannot—I will not leave him—my good, my brave, my noble father ! He was sometimes harsh and bitter to others, but to me he never said an unkind word— my dear, my excellent father, to die so suddenly and frightfully." Earlsley soon desisted from expostulating with her, remarking to Mrs. Maxwell, who stood beside him, that it was better perhaps to let her grief wear itself out, as to judge by its violence it would probably be of short duration. He then examined the lifeless body with some care and gave it as his opinion that a blood-vessel had burst on the lungs ; there was no other way of accounting for the great flow of blood at the mouth, causing the almost immediate suffocation of the Colonel. These kind offices performed he returned to his friends. Colonel Arthur, at the period of his visit to Maxwell's house, was a respectable middle- aged gentleman, possessing a high, command- ing, intellectual forehead, keen grey eyes, which seemed to be always busy in making searching examinations everywhere, drooping eyebrows, and firmly set lips, as of a man conscious of power, and determined to brook no opposition. His head was destitute of hair except at the sides and back, but a well regulated pair of whiskers—grey, but not of the snowy whiteness of those of our lamented friend, Colonel Arnott—adorned features that were, notwithstanding an ex- pression of harshness, agreeable enough in their way. His erect and manly figure, though not conspicuous for height, was well calculated to increase the respect due to his important office ; and the clear tones of his voice giving utterance to well chosen words of dignified politeness, carried with them every evidence of mental energy and decision. He did not possess, it is true, the engaging manners and endearing paternal qualiti- cations of his predecessor, Colonel Sorell, who left behind him an imperishable monument of his fitness to control not only the restless spirits of an unfortunate class, but also the hearts and affections of the good and true. On the contrary, Arthur cared but little with what sentiments the subjects of his viceroyalty regarded him. He had already made himself famous as a dispenser of strict justice, but his justice was not often tempered with mercy. He made himself feared, and with that he was evidently satis- fied, for to make himself beloved did not seem to be an object of his desires. He was, however, an excellent friend to those who approved of his measures and supported his policy warmly, as many now living can testify by pointing out substantial proofs of the fact in the shape of gum tree parks, she- oak hills, and mimosa valleys granted to them, they might say, by Colonel Arthur in consideration of such and such services ! Palmy days, gone by alas, for ever. On the other hand he was—and there may be a few who from personal experience can testify to this fact also—a bitter unflinching enemy to the free born spirits who assailed his admi- nistration or thwarted his despotism, seldom forgiving the unlucky offenders, and pro- bably never forgetting their offences—not uncommon peculiarities which might possibly have had the effect of seriously increasing the difficulties of his unenviable position. His suite consisted of several influential settlers and military gentlemen. The first following from motives of respect added to the excitement of the matter, the latter being upon an important duty. Mr. Gillart Stapleton of hundred thousand acre notoriety led the van of the civil great man-hunters. Mr. Fergus Micklebrain was also of the party, though not on good terms with his neighbor Mr. Earlsley ; and amongst the dozen others of less but not low degree there were Mr. Fireball, Mr. Lemond, Mr. Rousal of Tipple- ton Cottage, Longford ; three Mr. Smith's sons of Erin and Caledonia, and one or two keen blades from Yorkshire. The officers were Mayors Deare ants Douglas—if we are not trespassing against etiquette in thus re- cording their names—and Lieutenant Dawlish, the commander of the detachment at Avoca. The Governor was also accom- panied by his aide-de-camp, and two mounted orderlies with jingling spurs and clashing sabres completed the cavalcade. When Earlsley returned to the parlor the Governor and his followers rose to depart. Edwin, Charles, and Henry Arnott had been introduced, but the ladies were excused from appearing on account of Colonel Arnott's

to thank Maxwell and his young relation for their heroic resistance to the bushrangers, but said not a word that could possibly lead the latter to suppose that he meant to any- thing more substantial. He shook hands with Maxwell and Henry, expressing his sorrow for the latter's domestic affliction and giving the following prospective view of his intended movements for the next few days—" I shall visit St. Mary's Pass to-morrow, and on my return to Campbell Town the next day I will call again, when I hope to have a little more conversation with you, and the pleasure of seeing Mrs. Maxwell, your daughter, and her young friend." As the followers were about to mount their horses, Mr. Stapleton turned to Maxwell and said—" Some of us here, Mr. Maxwell, had intended to beg the favor of a shake-down to-night, but seeing the deucedly unpleasant condition you are in, it is of course out of the question." " Oh, not at all," answered Maxwell, " you can have the parlor and dining-room, and as many blankets as I can collect." " Thank you—you are very kind," said Stapleton ; " but you see, having to join his Excellency at seven o'clock, it would be ne- cessary for us to start very early." " As early as you like," replied Maxwell ; " I shall be up at four myself and get break- fast ready." " That is better and better," said Stapleton, and several of the gentlemen present said, " Thank you, Sir, you are very good." " Do you come with us yourself, Mr. Max- well ?" said Colonel Arthur, moving away. " No ; your Excellency will be good enough to excuse me ; my time will be fully occupied until my late friend's remains are interred," replied the settler. " How many of us can you accommodate, Dawlish ?" asked Mr. Rousal, the youngest and gayest civilian present. He was dubbed " the lawyer," because he had been in a solicitor's office for a few months. " O, 'pon honor," replied the lieutenant, " you may all come if you like ; the floor is wide enough and bare enough, and as I have only a blanket and a half myself, I shall dub him a trump who can lend me an extra pair." And the followers followed the representa- tive of majesty, who was now trotting away towards the gate. Lieutenant Dawlish, being one of the favored military, and being, in fact, Earlsley's son-in-law elect, know he could get a shake-down at Clifton Hall, but he did not think proper to say so ; and the civilians, in their desire to drink the cups of flunkyism to the dregs, would follow the Governor up to Earlsley's door and then ride back half a dozen miles for a bed, without any certain prospect of being able to get one either. At night, sure enough, they returned to Bremgarten to the number of fifteen, on their jaded and panting steeds. The stable and cowshed were filled, and the weary animals supplied with hay, while their masters were regaled with mutton, beef, and ten, and afterwards, highly to the satisfaction of the majority, with rum and wine. The gentlemen behaved as gentlemen should, in a praiseworthy and decorous manner. They did not get drunk, were not over noisy, and went outside to smoke. The ladies, of course, confined themselves to their apartments. Maxwell and the young gentlemen sat with their guests for some time, and then wished them good night. A few blankets had been mustered, for which there was a scramble : a watch set to keep the fires alight, and all (including the watch) fell asleep immediately on chairs, sofas, and the floor in much admired disorder, and with a lively chorus of snores. In the morning Maxwell roused his visitors at four o'clock, and with the as- sistance of a man in the kitchen and his son Charles, provided them with coffee. In the midst of the bustle of departure, of saddling and bridling in ' hot haste,' the thanks of the company were unanimously voted to Max- well for his kind attention. Mr. Gilbert Stapleton pressed his hand, and said—" My dear Sir, I never believed till this moment that a son of Hibernia could make himself half as agreeable as you have done. If it was not for the old Colonel lying dead up stairs we'd give you three such jolly cheers. You must come to Camden Hall, near Perth. and, 'pon my body and life, I'll put all my servants in scarlet livery to do you honor, that is if scarlet livery can be had for love or money." All the guests said "Good-by," and handsome things to Maxwell, and they mounted their horses, and rode away, pre- pared to follow the Governor to the verge of the empire. After breakfast, Charles and Henry rode to Avoca to get a suitable coffin made for the Colonel : a carpenter was found, who under- took to make a skin of peppermint wood, and an outer ease of polished lightwood, such as could hardly be distinguished from mahogany. Henry had intended to convey his father's remains to Sydney, there to let it sleep be- side that of his late mother, but Maxwell opposed this plan on the ground that it was contrary to the Colonel's frequently ex- pressed wish. He desired that, in case he should die at Bremgarten, no fuss should be made about him, but he was to be buried as privately as possible, either on the farm or in Avoca churchyard. Henry yielded ; and at the appointed time, exactly one week after his death, Colonel Arnott was interred in the little churchyard, where if a monu- ment does not point out the precise spot, it is not the fault of the writer of this history. Meanwhile the Governor and his suite sped onwards towards St. Mary's Pass. It was Colonel Arthur's intention to take a bird's eye view of the new road, make a hasty inspection of the prisoners under Mr. Fitzfrizzle's charge, and return to Clifton Hall on the same day. As he and Earlsley were well mounted, they pressed on con- siderably in advance of their civil followers and did not stop to inquire whether they kept well up to their places or not. Some of them were it fact distanced by the orderlies themselves, who clashed their sabres at them as they passed, as much as to say—" It's not the likes of you we're following, don't pre- sume to think it." And indeed we would not ourselves have thought of following them a single step if it were not for the pleasure of recording a trifling incident which had the effect of turning the current of the Governor's thoughts into a sensible and praiseworthy direction, as will presently appear. It happened that as he and his office with Mr. Earlsley approached the station, they overtook a respectably dressed man walking behind two others of questionable exterior. The men in front were walking in dogged silence, and he in the rear carried two guns, and followed the others watchfully and cautiously. As the high functionaries rode up within a few yards, Earlsley called out abruptly—

" Halloo Mr. Buffer, what fellows are these ?" " They're bushrangers, Sir," said Buffer. " Bushrangers !" said the Governor with great animation ; " where did they come from ? —where did you got them ?—how ?" " I got them pretty easily, Sir," said Buf- fer, as he elevated his mackerel eyes with ap- parent satisfaction, " both asleep in the bush —their arms, which I seized, were lying be- side them. I know them both, and they know me, and they were both dead men if they did not do as I ordered them." " Quite right," said the Governor, " quite right--let them proceed." The cavaliers slackened their pace, and conversed in an under tone. They soon arrived at the station, where Mr, Fitzfrizzle, with graceful salute, welcomed his Excellency to St. Mary's Pass. The men on the station were mustered with out delay, Mr. Buffer superintending this business, as the two captured outlaws were safe in the calls by this time, while the Governor and staff rode a little way down the Pass and then returned to inspect the men. The sleeping apartments, cook-house, cells, and other places were subjected to a short but rigid scrutiny, and at the close of the inspection Mr. Earlsley asked the men if they had any complaints to make, to which there were the diversified answers of " No, Sir," " No, yer honor," " No, your Excel- lency," "Not one, plaze yer riverence." Before the men were turned off to their work the Governor called the officers of the station before him, and made a short speech in which he inculcated the necessity of close attention to their duties, and unremitting vigilance over the men entrusted to their charge, with a view to their ultimate re- formation and consequent restoration to the maternal bosom of society. Any officer who neglected his duty from apathy or incapacity should be instantly dismissed upon the matter being reported to him ; while with respect to the men, his explicit directions were, that no offence, however trivial, should be overlooked. Punishment must follow closely upon the heels of crime, and in all cases let the punish- ment be severe. At the conclusion of his lecture on this subject he turned abruptly to the assistant-superintendent and said, " Now what am I to do for you Mr.——— favor me with your name, Sir !" " Buffer, please your Excellency," said he of the mackerel eyes. " Mr. Buffer, how am I to reward you for taking two bushrangers ? You are ambitious of promotion, I suppose ? Speak out." "Please, your Excellency, I am not ambitious of promotion," said Buffer. " How ?'" said Colonel Arthur, quickly,— " a model of primitive simplicity and Spartan virtue ! Of what, then, are you ambitious ?" "I hope, Sir—that is your Excellency— you will be so good as to give me permission to resign this detestable situation,—it is not suitable for a man of refined feelings." " Permission to resign ! You trifle with me, Sir ; you know you can resign without permission when you like. Refined feelings ! —bless my soul, Earlsley, this is exceedingly rich." Earlsley chuckled assent, cadaverously. " If your Excellency does not consider me impertinent," said Buffer, meekly casting his eyes on the ground, " I will resign with your permission,—merely observing that a grant of five hundred acres of alluvial soil in some favored locality will most agreeably compen- sate me for the loss of my situation." " Well," said the Governor, with a dis- pleased air, " we waste time. To horse, gen- tlemen ! Mr. Fitzfrizzle, good morning—be good enough to see that Mr. Buffer performs his duties strictly ; if he sends in his resigna- tion it will be accepted." And so saying the representative of majesty mounted and rode away, followed by his civil and military staff, while poor Buffer immediately became the laughing-stock of his friend the storekeeper and the entire station to boot. (To be continued.)