|Chapter Title||MORE ACQUAINTANCES.|
|Newspaper Title||Launceston Examiner (Tas. : 1842 - 1899)|
|Trove Title||The Maxwells of Bremgarten|
THE MAXWELLS OF BREMGARTEN. A STORY OF TASMANIA. [Founded on Facts.] (ALL RIGHTS ARE RESERVED.) (Continued from Saturday, 1st August.) CHAPTER LIII. MORE ACQUAINTANCES. NEARLY a whole week remained for our hero and his friends to loiter in the capital before seats in the mail would be available, and the time, always the more te- dious in its progress when some particular event is anxiously expected to take place, was spent by Edwin and his brother in walking about sometimes through the streets, but more frequently along the sandy shores of the harbor, and up the difficult steeps of Mount Wellington and its adjacent hills. Excur- sions to the top of the Great Lion of Hobart Town are often made by enthusiastic lovers of splendid scenery who can use their legs as well as their eyes. And indeed the view of the surrounding country, of the creeks and bays and distant islands in Frederick Henry Bay and D'Entrecasteaux Channel, to be obtained from the various stages of this romantic but fatiguing and rather dangerous journey, amply compensate for the fatigue and risk incurred in the ascent. The mountain contains also within its own immediate pre- cincts separate worlds of wealth to the geologist and botanist. The former may de- light to ramble through the intricacies of the Ploughed Field and down the rocky glens which might lead him without the help of a Syren to destraction ; and the latter as his eye wanders through the mazes of Fern-tree Valley, may, like Domine Sampson, shout " prodigious" until the overhanging preci- pices return his raptures in prolonged ap- plause. But it is not amongst the curiosities of Mount Wellington, but in one of the prin- cipal streets of Hobart Town that our present business lies. On the afternoon of a sultry day Edwin and his brother paraded the street for wont of something better to do, examining the shopwindows in search of something new, and bestowing critical and sly glances on such fair faces as happened to pre- sent themselves without hideous and impene- trable veils. They had taken two or three turns up one side of the street and down the other, and were just in the act of turning a corner into an adjoining street, when they were met by a man running as fast as his legs could carry him, and followed by about a score of idle urchins who shouted and hal- looed in the most extravagant manner pos- sible. The fugitive was a tall sandy-haired and whiskered individual, without a hat, and clad in shirt and trousers only. He breathed heavily, the natural effect of the violent and to all appearance involuntary exercise he was taking. Before he turned the corner he paused slightly and looked behind him, and then cast his eyes about him first one way and then another in anxious deliberation, doubtless, as to the best route he should pur- sue ; when perceiving Edwin gazing at him in astonishment he bounded up to him, caught him by the hand and exclaimed— " Mr. Herbart, Sir, don't you know me ?— save met Sir,—save me—she'll murder me ?" " I would know you anywhere, Jor- genson," replied Edwin, suffering the breath- less Dane to retain his hand, " but what's the matter ? who dare murder you in the public street ?" " It's my wife, Sir," answered the choking runaway, " she's a fury—she's a devil—she swore she'd murder me and she'll do it— save me, hide me somewhere—Oh ;" and the terrified historian turned Dogberry looked back at a ferocious woman who came towards him at the top of her speed, brandishing over her head what appeared to be a broomstick, and he vanished into thin air (in the next street) with a shriek. The fierce virago was followed in her vic- torious career by another crowd of idle young scamps, who watched the progress of events with the utmost delight, and encouraged her, if she stood in the need of encouragement, with their gesticulations and cheers. Edwin still stood at the corner, rooted as it were to the spot, and as the woman ran past him he hastily determined within himself to raise his voice in the hope of patching up a peace. " My good woman," he said, with this laudible object in view, " this is a very dis- graceful exhibition ; I hope you don't intend to hurt the poor man." The termagant stopped short, and glared upon.our soft-hearted hero. The muscles of the bony and inflexible hand instinctively clutched the broomstick with tightening grasp ; and in a voice that sounded like the screech of a rebellious cat with its tail jammed by a closing door, cried— " What is it to you ye impertinent busy- body ? what have ye got to do with it ? answer me that." At this moment a bandy-legged specimen of the respectable genus homo, with a pipe in his mouth, his hat flying at the back of his head ; and a large basket full to the brim of jugs, basins, and other articles of destructible merchandise hanging upon his arm, shot round the corner, and by his sudden appear- ance and exclamation of—" Vot agin, missis ? You vun the plate last Monday vos a veek, but I'll lay a tanner to a crown that hi stretches yer legs fur ye this time--" drew off' the Amazon's attention from Edwin, who had drawn back and raised his arm in the hope of warding off the impending attack. To the question of the itinerant merchant the fiery dame made no verbal reply ; but the broomstick performed a rapid circumvolution in the air, and then came down full upon his exposed pate with a sound like the explosion of a percussion cap. The weapon flew from the vicious creature's hand—she pounced like a tigress upon the unfortunate man's basket, seized two of the largest jugs, one in each hand, and without saying so much as "by your leave," recommenced her pursuit of her delinquent spouse. The hubbub increased. " Hurray !"shouted the juvenile populace, cutting innumerable capers, " go ahead, missus, put on more steam old woman ; I sees him, he's ready to drop—my word, won't he cotch it now, Ikey ? Clear the coorse, clear the coorse, hurray !" The bewildered owner of the jugs quickly set down his basket, and dropping his pipe joined in the pursuit with the hope probably of recovering his property ; but his hopes were vain, for he heard the articles one after the other clatter in fragments on the pavement as this modern Xantippe flung then with all her force after her recreant husband. To Edwin's sensitive mind this scene presented many painful reflections, and he often afterwards declared that he had never witnessed a more humiliating spectacle than that of the stout hearted Dane who had been the terror of bushrangers and natives, running thus away from his wife.
The tumult died away in the distance, and Edwin followed with accelerated pace with the determination of finding Jorgenson and speaking a few words that might alleviate the misery of his condition. He met a wool merchant, however, who detained him in conversation about twenty minutes. Passing on he turned into Elizabeth-street, and was walking by the window of a fashionable bookseller when his attention was arrested by a well-known face peering in at the at- tractive books and pictures ; giving the young gentleman a friendly tap on the shoulder he pronounced the name of " Charles !" " Edwin !" said Charles Maxwell, " look- ing like an heir to a million of money, " where have you been hiding ? I came to town yesterday, and have been looking for you ever since—heard that your mother and sisters have arrived ; where are they ? Is this your brother ? How d'ye do, Frank ?" After mutual enquiries and congratulations the three friends pursued their walk up Elizabeth-street, Edwin asking Charles if he had seen a tall red haired man running away from a savage woman, followed by a crowd of little boys ? " Yes," said Charles, " and I thought I should have died with laughing. He passed me as I came down the New Town Road, like Mynheer Von Clam on his cork leg, and closely followed by the gaunt Atalanta, who gained on him rapidly, until at last he bolted into a public house that stands by itself up the road, and banged the door in her very face. She then turned on the boys that fol- lowed her, and they began pelting her with clods and stones ; I saw her getting one of the latter on the nose, and the claret begin- ning to flow." " Do you know who that man is ?" asked Edwin. " Not I," replied Charles, " and don't care ; but I pity the poor hen-pecked fool whoever he is." " That's Jorgen Jorgenson the Dane, the friend of Sir Joseph Banks, the late Governor of Iceland, the popular author of the History of the Affghan Revolution, and other works. Does he not cut a pretty figure now ?" " Upon my honor," answered Charles, " I would not have believed it if anybody else had told me. That the great author and in- vincible constable—well, what next ; well clay poets praise thee, oh woman, for great is thy power !" " I want to see him," said Edwin ; " he saved my unworthy life once, and I should like to know if I can be of any use to him now." " Well, let us go and talk to him," an- swered Charles, " he'll want a glass of grog after his race, and I'll treat him to one." They stepped out accordingly, and soon reached the inn where Jorgenson had taken refuge. The door was open, for the landlord would not allow his thriving and useful trade to be interrupted, but in answer to Edwin's inquiry he pointed to the door of the little back apartment, within which, after giving his name, he was admitted with his friends. Charles ordered refreshments, and unable to endure the sight of the constable trembling in a corner, went and looked up the chimney, bursting with suppressed laughter. Edwin asked the crestfallen constable if there was anything he could do for him, tell- ing him that he might speak out freely, as he had not forgotten the debt of gratitude he owed to him, and was prepared to befriend him in any way he might happen to suggest. " I thank you, Sir," answered Jorgenson ; " at one time, perhaps, I might have put your generosity to the test, but now it is too late ; my course is nearly run, and such as it has been I do not wish to run it over again. I don't feel that I want anything in particular. I do my duty and get my wages, and I sup- pose when I get too broken down for duty the Government which I have served so long will not let me die of starvation." " Can you think of no plan," said Edwin, " to prevent a recurrence of such painful scenes as I witnessed to-day between yourself and your wife ?" " No, Sir," replied Jorgenson, " I can think of no plan : my wife is not a bad—I mean a very bad—sort of woman in the main, though her temper is hot sometimes, and she is apt to be violent, but when the fit is over she gets, I may safely say, quite good and kind—(here Charles was seized with a dread- ful fit of coughing and sneezing) ; and," con- tinued the charitable Dane, " even if she was worse than she is, I have borne with her too long now to wish for any change. I'm obliged to you, sir, but it's not worth while trying any now plan." " Well," said Edwin, " since you are too modest to suggest anything I can do for you, you must allow me to ease my conscience after the fashion approved of by the world in general." And advancing, he placed in Jor- genson's hand a roll of bank notes. " Thank you, Sir," said he, taking the roll and opening it upon his knee. " I really don't—I'm afraid I can't—five, ten, fifteen, and five ones : this is truly liberal, Mr. Herbart, and if you are not depriving yourself, Sir"— " Say no more on the matter, Jorgenson," said Edwin ; " take my advice and put the money into the bank until you want it, and do not waste it on superfluities." " I'll take your advice, Sir, and thank you. Your good health, Sir, and yours, gentlemen (tosses off a tumbler of brandy-and-water). Here, landlord, fill these glasses again !" " Not mine, certainly," said Edwin. " Come, Frank, we must be moving." " Nor mine," said Charles. " Stop a bit, Sir," said Jorgenson, counter- manding his order; " I'll tell you now, in a confidence, that it was about money that the row began between me and my wife. She wanted money ; I had none to give her, and then she accused me of giving my last month's pay to Sally Flashpan, though I declare upon my soul I don't know any more about Sally Flashpan than you do, Sir." " I hope not," said Edwin ; " but this is unnecessary, and it is getting late. Good evening, Jorgenson, take care of your money, and keep better peace at home for the future." " I will, Sir. Good-by, Sir, and thank you. Good-by, gentlemen—God bless you !" " So Edwin," said Charles, as they left the house, " you value your life at twenty pounds ?" " The time was, Charles," replied Edwin, " when you would not have insured it for any sum, at ninety per cent premium." " I think I would have taken that risk," said Charles. " Do you know what will be- come of your money now ?" " I can guess : he will drink it, or lose it at cards probably ; but my debt is paid, partially at least, though I have some qualms about the propriety of rewarding him for shooting another man, even a black savage. How
difficult it is for its erring mortals to know what is right and to do it !" " What a gander you were," said Charles, " to give him all that money, and in such a place ! Why if that old shark of a landlord finds out that he can dance to the tune of twenty pounds he'll hold him like an irritated lobster and bleed him like a lemon into a big bellied basin of punch." " I never thought of that," said Edwin ; " so he will. I wish I had half your pru- dence, Charles. I ought to have given it to Mrs. Jorgenson." " No," said Charles, laughing : " my pru- denceship did not recommend that." With more pleasant conversation the worthy trio proceeded to Mrs. Herbart's temporary house, to join her and the young ladies over a most agreeable cup of tea. Charles was delighted to see Mrs. Herbart and his fair cousins. He had thrown off nearly all his boyish manners and ideas, and now entered into easy and graceful conversa- tion with the debonair manner of one who is conscious that neither personal defects nor inferiority of breeding could render him unfit to enjoy the society of ladies of a re- fined education. Seating himself between his cousins he took care to make himself extremely agreeable, and three or four happy hours passed imperceptibly away. Being some- what of a critic, too, he did not fail to examine the lineaments of the young ladies' countenances, their intellects, their deport- ments, their probable or improbable tempers. " Either of them," said he to himself, " is worth a dozen of Caroline Earlsley ; but I like Rose best ; Augusta is as proud as her name implies, a perfect Flora MacIvor ; but Rose is Rose Bradwardine come to life again. Augusta is a handsome girl, has read a good deal, and is not without some pedantry ; but Rose is bewitching, simple, and shy ; O, Rose, you're a perfect darling." Meditating upon these matters he took his leave, and was accompanied by Edwin for a short distance towards his hotel. " When do you return, Charles ? Are we to have the pleasure, of your company on the road ?" " I'm afraid not, Edwin," replied Charles. " The fact is the pleasure of my company is engaged." " Indeed !" said Edwin ; " and may I ask by whom ?" " Well, if you had not asked," returned Charles, " I should not have told you ; but the responsibility lies with you : you must know, then, that I came hither to meet my brother Eugene and Henry Arnott who are on their way from Sydney. They were to sail on the 8th, and this is the 18th." At the mention of the latter ill-omened name Edwin felt his heart die within him ; not from fear, certainly, but from some other indefinable feeling. It was not hatred or jealousy, or anything to which he could him- self give a name ; but possibly might be com- pared to the emotion which a brave man, would feel in the presence of a spectre of horrible appearance. After a short pause he wished Charles good-night. " Don't go yet," said Charles. " Why, you look as sensitive as Prince Lee Boo before a looking-glass. Do you never think of Isabel ? There would be a wife for a man—five and- twenty thousand pounds in hard cash, and the rest in black eyes, cherry lips, and a voice—why the bulbul of Oriental celebrity is nothing to her." " Isabel," said Edwin, " should go to Eng- land with her fortune, and she could secure a coronet. I am no mate for her." " Well, if you havn't got pluck enough to address her, it can't be helped. But I know she thinks of you." " How do you know ?" " Griselda told me so herself : she said that Isabel had her fortune told her once by some Indian sybil, who promised to marry her to a comparatively poor but very amiable, hand- some, and poetical young man just her own age, and who had been wounded in battle ; and by every lucky sign in the zodiac of human ambition she believes you to be the very man." " If Griselda believes that, Charles, she does me too much honor." " O thou wilful perverter of sense," said Charles. " I did not say that Griselda be- lieved it. I said Isabel believes it." " I beg your pardon. If Miss Arnott believes that she certainly pays me a very flattering compliment, but the thing is pre- posterous. As well might the mouse in the fable wed with the lioness. Were I so pre- sumptuous as to propose, and fortunate enough to succeed, the weight of her superi- ority in wealth alone would crush me to death. But why don't you make interest on your own behalf ?" " For a variety of reasons." " What are they ?" " First, I'm too young." " Good." " Secondly, I'm not poetical." " Better." " Thirdly, I was never wounded in battle, and hope to Heaven I never shall be." " That's the best reason of all—and such a battle, a skirmish with miserable, blackguard bushrangers—good night." " Good night, Edwin," said Charles, and they separated. Our friend of Belle Park retraced his steps in a gloomy mood, his thoughts boiling and swelling within him, working him up to a state bordering on ferocity. He had per- mitted himself to hope, when he heard of Henry's departure from the island, that he might never return to it again ; and how he was here, or would be probably in a few hours. Edwin was an inveterate castle builder. He had pictured to himself a thou- sand times his future happiness on his own estate when—all impediments being re- moved—he could bring home a certain fair young lady as his bride. The greatest im- pediment to his future happiness did not lie, he considered, within the young lady's breast ; but in the person of this same Henry Arnott, who was now approaching on the wings of the wind to cross his quiet path and blight his fair dreams once more. He did not wish Henry dead, it is true, nor did he inwardly hope that the vessel in which he sailed might be blown to the South Pole, and be imbedded there in ice for a hundred years : but he had hoped, almost persuaded himself, that Henry was by nature gay and changeable, and that a year's absence from Bremgarten would help to divert the ardor of his passion to a more worldly, perhaps a more —though that could scarcely be—attractive object. "Miserable idiot that I am," he mentally exclaimed, striking his forehead with his clenched hand," why have I not strength or courage to tear this infatuation from my heart and throw it aside for ever ? I appear to be happy and yet I am wretched ; I appear to be at perfect freedom, and yet my very soul is in bondage ; I am pursued by
a phantom which I would embrace but cannot touch ; ever and always by night and by day her image is before me : she intrudes,with the greater perversity the more I feel deter- mined to banish her—Pityless maiden ! my sweet, artful, or artless, Griselda, undo thy chain and set me free or I shall go mad. The susceptible youth accompanied his in- ternal ravings with such extraordinary gesticulations that it was most fortunate that one of Captain Forster's active con- stable did not meet him in the street, for he would certainly have placed him in confine- ment as a disturber of the public peace. Charles, after brushing his hair and whiskers more carefully than usual, made an early call at Mrs. Herbart's residence, and again laughed and chatted for a considerable time with his interesting young relatives. An early dinner passed off, or rather down, with- out any serious obstructions except the fits of laughter into which Charles's ready wit sent the young ladies from time to time. Edwin did his best to dispel his gloom, and if the spirit of Griselda was before him as usual, it must have shuddered to witness the attempt. After dinner Charles proposed that they should all take a walk to the Horticultural Gardens, where a military band was to play that afternoon, which was received with general assent, and they set out accordingly. The day was deliciously cool and mellow, for the great heat of the summer's sun was ab- sorbed in its downward passage by a thick bolt of snowy clouds, between the fleecy edge of which and the dark earth there was a broad belt of rich blue sky. A light breeze rippled the surface of the adjoining river and gam- bolled through the leafy boughs of the curious shrubs and trees with which the gardens were thickly ornamented, bearing the rich perfume of the flowers far away over the grassy hills. The delightful strains of mili- tary music burst forth while our friends were yet at a distance, ' entrancing each sense with its charmed melody, and giving birth to wild and glowing thoughts within the souls of those who love music and have time to think. Why, is such heavenly harmony allowed to precede deadly bayonets and fiery leaden bullets and cannon balls ? Every blast of the trumpet carries us back through the long vista of human history whence the grim spectres of a thousand bloody battles glare upon us in their detestable folly and wickedness.* * I need scarcely remind the accomplished reader that this flourish of rhetoric is almost copied from Mrs. Stowe's Sunny Memories of Foreign Lands, wherein a relative of hers, a clergyman if I mistake not, says of the pictures in the Louvre (I quote from memory)—' A hundred battles look down upon me in their blazonry.' I italicize the last word because I would wish to know does the reverend writer mean the historical brilliancy of the battles or the mere ' blazes' accompanying the murderous discharges of modern artillery ? (To be continued.)