Chapter 36699274

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Chapter NumberLIII
Chapter TitleMORE ACQUAINTANCES.(Continued)
Chapter Url
Full Date1868-08-15
Page Number2
Word Count2435
Last Corrected2020-02-01
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, 8th August.) CHAPTER LIII. WHEN the music was over the ladies were escorted to their residence, and the gentlemen agreed to take a stroll together until it was time to return to tea, for Mrs. Herbart insisted that Charles should, while they were in such close proximity, afford them as much of his society as possible. They rambled up the yellow hills which crop out in luxuriant clusters at the foot of the Mount Wellington range, where even then cottages were being built, and where now are to be seen many comfortable dwellings looking down upon the quiet little city. Here they sat for an hour and more smoking and talking. Frank Her- bart was inquisitive upon Tasmanian subjects, and found Charles a communicative instructor. Looking far out to sea, the latter was the first to descry a sail still at a great distance, and starting to his feet he cried out—" Sail ho—Eugene for a guinea !" and began to caper down the hill at the risk of breaking his neck. " Stop," said Edwin, " you need not be in a hurry, she will not be up to town before midnight." The speaker sighed as he spoke, after the manner of a criminal resigning him- self to a dreadful fate. He gazed at the dis- tant sail with an abstracted air, and the blood mantled to his cheek and brow in pro- portion as his spirits fell. The steady approach of that vessel was to him what the retreat of a similar visitor would be to a ship wrecked sailor on a desert shore. He vainly wished himself back at Bella Park, where he might mitigate by some vigorous exertion the agony of the sensations with which his heart was filled. He looked up to the enormous mass of rock that lifted its dark head high in the air above him as if he wished to fly there and bury in perpetual solitude his unutterable thoughts of crushing loneliness. They now resumed their walk bending their steps homewards. As they passed through a certain street which did not rank as a fashionable thoroughfare, meeting in their way people of various grades and pro- fessions, with a few dirty and wretched looking women, reeking with ruin and vice, Charles suddenly espied two individuals in close conversation opposite the door of a public-house. He stopped to reconnoitre them, telling his two friends to look at them attentively. One of them was an old man, probably between sixty and seventy years of age, but so far from presenting the respectable exterior one so often observes in elderly gen- tlemen, he looked as if the greatest part of a long life had been spent in a pot-house. A sooty brown hat pressed down well upon the head and resting behind upon the greasy collar of a threadbare black coat, did not conceal a few tangled locks of dirty white hair, although the long curls of the thread- bare coat effectually performed that friendly office for the wristbands of his shirt ; while beneath a waistcoat which was a perfect match for the coat, there was not a ghost of a shirt to be seen at all. The trousers were evidently a valuable pair, of a mottled blue and reddish color like powdered limestone shot with logwood shavings. The gentleman to whom this Hobartonian Socrates was elo- quently laying down the law, was also of a good steady age, to judge by the iron-grey hair that peeped over his coat collar. He was a stout well-made man, infinitely better dressed than the senior in his company, but still wanting that air of easy nonchalance that characterises the perfect gentleman, and some- times the thorough rascal. " Do you know that old gentleman, Edwin ?" asked Charles. " No," said Edwin, " I never saw him before to my knowledge." " Do you know that person to whom he is talking ?" " No—how should I ? his back is turned to us." " Aye, but don't you know him by his back ?" " Certainly not—you may, but I am not so clever." " Well, I'll tell you who it is,—its Johnson Juniper, our bachelor neighbor of Skittle-Ball Hill." " You don't say so ?" said Edwin. " I'd swear to him," said Charles. " I'll speak to him and invite him to tea," said Edwin, " I like that man." " Don't go near him yet," said Charles, " stay here and pretend to be looking into this pedlar's warehouse, but keep your eyes on Juniper. I never yet met that man but I have scarcely been able to eat anything for a week afterwards for laughing—we'll have some fun presently." " I met him once and he made me nearly cry for a month," said Edwin. " O yes, I forgot—when he sent a bullet through your body,—but you bear him no malice I hope ?" " Not a bit, I'm going to invite him to tea, I tell you—I was rather obliged to him for I got such good nursing, you know." While they were speaking, and watching, and waiting for the fun, they observed a curious, grizzly, forbidding object project itself from an upper window of the public- house, exactly above where Mr. Juniper and his friend were engaged in confidential chat. It darted out and remained out for a moment, then was suddenly withdrawn, then it swiftly darted out again and was in another moment so rapidly taken in. These manœuvres were repeated several times. Charles directed Edwin's attention to the remarkable phe- nomena and said it was nothing but a mop, wondering what the housemaid was doing with it up there. Edwin denied that it was a mop, and pronounced it to be a human head covered with hair of light color but stiff and standing out perpendicular to the superficies of the pericranium. Charles would dispute Edwin's premises and deny the logical exactitude of his conclusion, for as the object was more of a prolate than an oblate sphereoid it was his belief, &c., &c. The following colloquy was taking place in the meantime between Mr. Juniper and his venerable friend :— " It gives me very sensible pleasure Mr.— a—I have lost that name of yours again, sir," said the ancient, smiling in a paternal manner, and nodding at almost every word. " Juniper, sir," said the rubicund bachelor. " Aye, Juniper, sir. I'm afraid I can't remember it unless I think of Jupiter—that's it. I'll swear by Jupiter (and when I do I'll think of your name, though when I have met with it and you before—hem, hem—it puzzles me to find out). But, as I was going to say it gives me very great pleasure to give my final consent to your liberal and hand- some proposal respecting my poor daughter. I would be most, happy—hem—hem—to go

up and perform a father's duty on such an auspicious occasion. But I'm getting rather the—hem, hem—the worse for wear now, and the long and fatiguing journey might possibly have a serious effect upon my general health—hem, hem—and probably tend to abridge the remaining portion of my span of life. Every man Mr.—a—hem Ju- piter, has a sacred duty to perform, and that is to take care that the noble image in which he was created is not seriously injured by too much personal exertion, or hem—hem or, in fact, superannuated before its time by too rigid self-denial, or run the risk of being defaced by accidents in the field by the probable—hem—hem breaking down of vehicles on bad roads, or on the floods by the upsetting of boats. But how was Arabell, when you saw her last ?" " She was blooming, sir ; blooming, I'm obliged to you," said Juniper. " She will make a good wife, sir," continued the old gentleman, " to any man who will treat her as she deserves ; and if she'll be half as good as her mother, who is now—hem, hem—a saint in heaven, you'll be a very fortunate and enviable man, though there is a slight disparity in respect to ages for instance, I was only ten years older than my own blessed wife—hem, hem—but you are at least twenty years older than Arabella." " I'll be forty-eight next January," said Juniper, " and I'll be more a father to her than a husband." " I don't entertain the shadow of a doubt, sir, of your truth and high honor in this matter, and if I did, believe me that I would sooner starve myself and work—hem, hem— my fingers to the bone for her support than allow her to become the wife of any man who did not consider the weakness of her sex a sufficient protection. And now, as the matter is settled and altogether in your hands, Mr. Ju—piter, I don't think a glass of brandy and water hot would be bad for my cough, or materially injure my treasury of infernal—hem hem—I mean internal revenue." " Well, we'll go in and have one," said Juniper; " but what do you say to an oyster first." " A very capital idea," said the old gentle- man, as the obliging individual from whom Mr. Juniper caught it laid his tempting basket at their feet and received an order from that gentleman to open a dozen. " A rich idea this, certainly-oysters first and brandy and water afterwards. I'm fond of oysters, for they stimulate rather than appease the appetite, and I'll tell you what my dear friend and companion Davey—hem, hem— Colonel Davey—who is dead now, poor man —used to say : ' Leary,' he used to say, ' Leary, if we could imagine a heaven upon earth what would it be without you and me and oysters ?' More pepper you, sir, one would think your popper was gold dust." " Beg parding, Sir—didn't think you'd like it so hot, Sir," said the polite oyster seller, assiduously shaking the pepper-box over the native which now involuntarily approached the grand entrance to Mr. Leary's internal treasury ; but lo ! before the savoury morsel entered its destined receptacle there came down on Mr. Leary's devoted head such a shower as had not within the memory of the 'oldest inhabitant' fallen upon any unfortu- nate head before. It knocked his hat over his eyes ; it ran pleasantly down his back between his neck and coat collar ; it com- municated a richer varnish to his coat, and coursed like a mountain rivulet down his valuable inexpressibles ; it washed the dis- mayed oyster away into the kennel, leaving the empty shell in his hand, and percolated into the recesses of his pockets and boots. Nor did it leave Mr. Juniper altogether unscathed ; he received a few splashes on his waistcoat and one on his right eye, and as the eye began to smart immediately he pulled out his handkerchief, rubbed it distractedly, and performed a nimble pirouette, whilst the oysterman caught up his basket quickly and flew to cover, with an ejaculation which it is not necessary to repeat. To discover the perpetrator of this dia- bolical outrage upon the person and dignity of his future father-in-law, and inflict sum- mary and terrible vengeance, became the object of our worthy surveyor's settled deter- mination. He rushed into the public-house, after taking a hasty glance at the upper windows, and up the stairs, and bolted furiously into the right hand room, in which there was a bed and nobody in it : out of it he flew, and tried the door of the left hand apartment, which yielded to his efforts, although two or three chairs had been piled against it. There was a dirty bed in this room also, and on it lay a rough figure with a head of hair as like a stable man's mop as it could well be. Juniper looked at him for a moment in silence, and then examined the window-sill. There was unmistakeable evi- dence that it was through that window the outrage had been committed. Mr. Leary and half-a-dozen other people were heard coming up the stairs. Juniper hesitated no longer, but seized the supposed offender by the jacket and pulled him off the bed. The wretched man was, or pretended to be, helplessly drunk ; he reeled against his assailant so heavily as nearly to upset him, and roared out;— " Who, who are you—y'ugly brute—let me go yevillyan— or I'll ripyer heart out—ye over- grown species of monkey—landlord—murdher !" " What's the matter ?" said the landlord, coming into the room, followed by the drip- ping Leary. " Matter enough," said Juniper, " look at this ruffian, it is my drunken old cook Heffer- nan, and he intended that dose for me,— there, take that you incurable scoundrel." With these words Juniper left the room, having first deposited Heffernan on his bed bleeding profusely from his prominent fea- ture. We will also withdraw ourselves from the scene, and rejoin our friends Edwin, Frank, and Charles, who loitered quietly past the house watching the proceedings with intense interest, and taking care to keep at a respectfol distance. They saw no more of Juniper, who started immediately for his own home, armed with paternal authority to marry Miss Leary whenever it should suit their mutual convenience. It was noon the next day before the vessel, which had been seen by Charles and Edwin from the hill, dropped her anchor opposite the Custom House. She had been signalised early in the morning ' from Sydney,' and Charles lost not a moment in taking a boat and going on board. He found, as he had anticipated, his brother Eugene, now a fine handsome young man with dark whiskers and moustaches, and his future brother-in-law (if Griselda should so will it), Henry Arnott. That same evening Charles brought Eugene to see Mrs. Herbert and her daughters. Eugene was surprised and delighted to find himself enjoying such an unexpected pleasure as the society of these attractive ladies. He

soon found that his volatile brother was totally conquered by the gentle Rose, and so thought that he could not do better than devote himself to Augusta. Another pleasant day passed ; Edwin magnanimously condescending to invite his formidable rival Henry to dinner, and their sojourn in the capital terminated. The Her- barts took their seats in the mail for Camp- bell Town, and the two Maxwell's and Henry started for Bremgarten on horseback. (To be continued.)