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The Hermit Convict by Rev. William Draper

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Published in The Brisbane Courier, 28 January, 1871.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

William Draper was born c.1818 in England. He was ordained as a Minister of the Congregational Church at Goodna, Queensland on 22 July, 1864.

In July, 1871 he was working as a Minister at Dalby, Queensland. In December, 1873 he was invited to return to Goodna to resume his former post.

In March, 1876 Draper resigned from his Pastorate at Goodna, but remained a Minister.

He died on 18 June, 1881 at South Brisbane, aged 63.

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PREFACE
CHAPTER II.--DAVID ARGYLE.
CHAPTER III.--THE INQUEST.
CHAPTER IV.--HENRY JUDD ALIAS JULET.
CHAPTER V.--MEASURE FOR MEASURE.
Chapter VI.--AFTER THE TRIAL.
CHAPTER VII.--RECOGNITION AND ESCAPE.
CHAPTER VIII.--MOGARA AND HER TRIBE.
CHAPTER IX.--TEN YEARS AFTER.
CHAPTER X.--SHADOW AND SUBSTANCE.
CHAPTER XI.--OLD HERMIT.
CHAPTER XII.--COLONIAL HOSPITALITY.
CHAPTER XIII.--LEYTON STATION.
CHAPTER XIV.--SHADOWS COMING NEARER.
CHAPTER XV.--A SIESTA AND ITS RESULTS.
CHAPTER XVI.--STRANGERS IN HERMIT GLEN.
CHAPTER XVII.--THE STORM.
CHAPTER XVIII.--OUTSIDE.
CHAPTER XIX.--THE INTERVIEW.
CHAPTER XX.--SAM. BROWN AT HOME.
Chapter XXI.--THE VINEYARD.
CHAPTER XXI.--NEW CHUMS AND COLONIAL EXPERIENCE.
CHAPTER XXIII.--WHAT A PARADISE!
CHAPTER XXIV.--BURNHAM BEECHES.
CHAPTER XXV.--NIGHT THOUGHTS.
CHAPTER XXVI.--AN EVENING AT THE MINISTER'S HOUSE.
CHAPTER XXVII.--EVERYBODY ON THE MOVE.
CHAPTER XXVIII.--AMONG THE NATIVES.
Chapter XXIX.--THE TOMLINSONS AT HOME.
CHAPTER XXX.--SUNDAY AT BURNHAM BEECHES.
CHAPTER XXXI.--AN ALARM.
CHAPTER XXXII.--REVELATIONS FOR ALICE.
CHAPTER XXXIII.--ODDS AND ENDS, ALL ABOUT MARRIAGE, &c.
CHAPTER XXXIV.--A HUNTING EXPEDITION.
Chapter XXXV.--ROOKSNEST INVADED.
Chapter XXXVI.--WAS IT REAL.
Chapter XXXVII.--TEMPTED.
Chapter XXXVIII.--THE HUNTERS HUNTED.
Chapter XXXIX.--COMMENCEMENT OF TROUBLE.
Chapter XL.--IN THE DARK VALLEY.
CHAPTER XLI.--DEMENTED.
Chapter XLII.--ISABEL.
Chapter XLIII.--PLANS AND PLOTS.
Chapter XLIV.--COUNTERPLOTTING.
Chapter XLV.--THE DEATH STRUGGLE.
CHAPTER XLVI.
CHAPTER XLVII.--SEPARATION AGAIN.
CHAPTER XLVIII.--TO ENGLAND AGAIN.
CHAPTER XLIX.--FIVE YEARS LATER.
CHAPTER L.--MR. SEPTIMUS LONG.
CHAPTER LI.--OUT OF THE FRYING-PAN INTO THE FIRE.
Chapter LII.--A RE-UNION IN LONDON.
Chapter LIII.--ONLY TWENTY POUNDS!
Chapter LIV.--CHECKMATED AT LAST.
Chapter LV.--"POOR, DEAREE MARY SINCLAIR! AH ME!"
Chapter LVI.--CONCLUSION.

 

PREFACE

'Founded upon facts,' is a hackneyed phrase which may mean anything. The following tale may rather be termed 'a cluster of facts' gathered together from a number of sources, with several specific objects. One of these is a strong sympathy with the opinion which is rapidly gaining strength, that the aborigines are human beings who are capable of civilisation, improvement, and the higher sensibilities of a well ordered life. There is no attempt to point them in higher colors than consistency with truth would allow; but here and there will be found glimpses of real facts, which prove that a well directed effort in their favor, may not be in vain. Another object the author had, was to show how true it is, that treachery and wickedness rebound on the perpetrator. This part of the story may be termed sensational and exaggerated, but though strange, it is entirely consistent with facts. That which may be called a model colonial family is just barely sketched in the description of Rooksnest; while, on the other hand, the folly of unsuitable people breaking up their homes, with a view to making a fortune in Australia, is just as lightly handled in the brief course of events which introduces the Gumby family.

Incidentally, the evils of intemperance are depicted; but the chief point of interest which runs like a vein throughout the tale, is the effects of one false step, which, link by link, frequently—perhaps universally would be a better term—drags down the innocent to endure penalties which are beyond the possibility of belief. It is impossible to forget the unfortunate case of Barber, who was so unjustly transported for will forgery, but the author has the most undoubted proofs from actual life, that many have just as miserably suffered, being innocent. Nothing, he thinks, but the most positive evidence should convict, in cases where death or penal servitude is the penalty. No doubt the present annals of jurisprudence show a marked improvement in the administration of justice, but the criminal law presents anomalies of inequality in the penalties inflicted, which demand the attention of those who are interested in holding with impartiality the scales of justice.

One more prefatory remark is necessary: The author is conscious of some defects in the work. In one or two instances he could not get decisive information, and therefore was obliged to draw upon the resources of imaginative fancy. In other cases conversations are condensed into a brief narrative of facts, and in the estimation of some this may be an important defect, but upon a moderate calculation, if such condenced conversations were given in extenso, the work would have been greatly extended. With all its faults, and the author would fain hope and believe with some excellencies also, he ventures to launch forth these labors of his leisure moments, trusting that the perusal of the tale may be as pleasant to the reader as the work of writing it has been to the author.

Goodna, 1870.

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CHAPTER I.—JAMES STEWART.

“NOT GUILTY! My lord, not guilty, I assure you!”

The speaker was a young man, respectably dressed, with a countenance somewhat pale, but giving evidence of a determined will, and a general demeanor which indicated intelligence and good breeding. Standing in the dock, arraigned before the judge of assize at Winchester, in a crowded court, with the serious charge of forgery against him, James Stewart in a firm tone of voice pleaded thus, and, the plea being recorded, the trial commenced. The Crown Court in that ancient assize hall is very commodious, and the galleries are sufficiently capacious to hold several hundred spectators, but upon this occasion every nook and corner was occupied.

The circumstances of the case were very peculiar. The young man was well known; his employer was a citizen in the town of Southampton, and it was rumored that the prosecution was without his sanction, and in opposition to his judgment. The prisoner had been apprenticed to this gentleman, whose name was Hartlop, and had served his time with honor and credit to the complete satisfaction of his employer, who made him an advantageous offer of continued employment which Stewart accepted, and death having soon after removed the managing clerk, the prisoner was promoted to the vacant post. To the young man it was no small gratification to be, at so early a period of his history, thus taken into the confidence of one who was well able to administer to the success of his future life. His father had been a shipping agent in Southampton, at that time noted as one of the prettiest places of seaside resort in all the South of England. Its quaint and interesting Bargate, the old walls and towers with several other gates, and many remnants of ancient fortification; the broad and beautiful High-street, terminating at one end in very spacious quays, and at the other with an avenue of lofty elms, forming as beautiful an entrance to the town as it is possible to conceive; its many walks of surpassing excellence and romantic interest; the near vicinity of the New Forest, with its pretty villages; all these, and many other attractions, made the ancient sea-port of Southampton a very desirable place of residence. Then the Isle of Wight, that beautiful garden of England, and the splendid ruin of Netley Abbey, proved sufficiently attractive to induce many to visit the place, as indeed is the case to this day. Southampton has now lost, only by report, all, or nearly all, of this old-fashioned excellence, but it has gained something instead of it, which has made the name a world-renowned word in postal and commercial phraseology. Well, they who traded in the place in the childhood of our good Queen, have for the most part passed away. Peace be to their memory! One of these was the very respectable citizen with whom James Stewart claimed a sort of relationship, which one of those old laws, given some three thousand years ago, most impressively commands us all to honor, but which in these very matter of fact days is frequently debased from the high and mighty excellence of 'father' to the very foreign and repelling epithet of 'governor.' Stewart, however, was not the son to conceive such a thought of him whom he ever regarded as a dear good father. In a playful mood, he would sometimes ring out merrily the familiar 'dad,' but the word meant volumes of affection, and the fond father knew it. Mr. Stewart had for many years carried on a very lucrative business; he had been, in a word, a successful speculator in shipping ventures. It was a common household word in the family, that the period was fast approaching when the son, released from his apprenticeship, was to become the acting-partner in the business of James Stewart and Co., and the father and mother had mentally arranged most of the preliminaries which were to be associated with the retirement of the former from active business. But man proposes, and there is One who frequently, for the wisest purposes, turns the nest upside down. 'This is my rest,' many a good man says, and he nestles down in it, and finds such an elysium of happiness, that, looking around with the complacency of satisfaction, he breathes out the words, 'I shall die here.'

'No,' says the unerring voice of wisdom, and forthwith the storm begins to beat, the rain of sorrow descends, the winds of life's bitter blasting influence howl around the traveller. He may have the Rock of Ages to shelter him, a good substantial hiding-place in all seasons, but under this secure dwelling-place he sees all his earthly treasures swept away, the tempter whispering all the while, 'curse God, and die.' Such was the experience of the prisoner's father. The son had only a few weeks to serve under his apprenticeship bond, when an irreparable series of losses involved his father in irretrievable commercial ruin. A bank, in which he was a large shareholder, failed; all his deposits were hopelessly lost; and in addition to this disaster, he had, in conjunction with the other shareholders, to pay large sums for which their shares made them liable. The history of Job is certainly perpetuated in such cases: one disaster follows another, and yet there is one more, and the sufferer nervously glances at the shadows of more yet to come. In Mr. Stewart's case, he was mercifully preserved from the knowledge of all the woe which thus fell upon his house, for the messenger came to whisper the words, 'the Father wanted him at home;' and one bright spring morning, at the very moment when judgment against his goods was being signed, he gently departed to appear at another judgment seat, where the good faithful old Christian gave in his bank book of talents, all of which had borne good interest, and found that, though he had lost everything, he had gained a crown and a kingdom. The last blow, intermingled as it was with the death of her husband, proved to be also the summons to the wife and mother. Scarcely had the grave closed upon the father, ere it was opened again to receive her, and Stewart, thus doubly bereaved, with every hope crushed in the bud, was brought face to face with the stubborn fact that there was nothing before him but hard toil, accompanied, it might be, with privation and suffering.

In these circumstances he found in Mr. Hartlop a sympathising and faithful friend and benefactor. He received the orphan lad as an inmate of his own house, encouraged him with the hope of preferment, and took care so to occupy his thoughts with that which was pleasant, cheerful, and hopeful, that he soon became as much at home with his kind employer as it was possible for his sorrowing heart to allow. Stewart had not, however, to learn where to seek comfort in the hour of trial. He had reason to be thankful that God had given him honorable, pious, and faithful parents. The influence of their example paved the way to serious thought, and this led him to a wise decision to become a meek, humble, earnest, and devoted follower of the Saviour. By the touching of the Highest, he attained to a scholarship which nothing else can bestow. He had sat at the feet of a greater than Gamaliel, and had taken the highest honors resulting therefrom. Many to this day have reason to be thankful for the good counsel which this young disciple breathed into their ear. He pleaded on their behalf earnestly, even with the faltering tongue and the moistened eye; but the footfall of his devoted life was heard by those with whom he was brought into contact, and even though in this case no voice was heard, the example became vocal in many a conscience, saying to besetting sins, 'What doest thou here?'

In the same office there was another clerk who, though he was the senior in point of years, yet occupied a position inferior to that of Stewart. His name was Henry Julet, which was pronounced in accordance with the usage of French phraseology, although in the man there was very little, if anything, which indicated a foreign extraction. His features were coarse, repulsive, and at times bloated and wrinkled to such a degree as to create a suspicion that he indulged in the most sensual and debasing vices. But yet no one could accuse him of anything which was glaringly vicious. He frequented taverns, and was known to be addicted to card-playing. Two or three times he had crossed the line into the hemisphere of intemperance, but these were race days, or something similar, and as he said, “he made no pretentions to religion, and did not see why he should not enjoy himself in his way, as others did in their peculiar manner.” Mr. Hartlop did not much relish such irregularities, but the man was useful, and for the most part, steady and attentive to his business.

There was also a wife in the scale, and an addition to the interest in the shape of an infant, who, at the time when our story opens, was about five years of age. Julet never liked Stewart, in fact there were periods when he plainly showed that he just tolerated his superiority in office, but whenever he could be so, he was reticent to a degree, and many disagreeable mistakes had occurred because of this unhappy feeling. There is no doubt that the cause of disagreement was the old story, which was fought upon the old ground. “Shall I, indeed, bow down to thee?”

“Envy, eldest born of hell,” plotted the elements of division, and there was no lack of aid in carrying them into practice. Still, in the ordinary course of events, there was no tangible cause of complaint, and business matters proceeded in their course much the same as they do in other houses.

In the posting up of the great ledger of Time it is recorded that in Mr. Hartlop's banking book, in the month of January, l8—, there was found a cheque which was drawn in favor of one Thomas Starling, for the sum of forty-two pounds, which cheque was pronounced by the merchant to be a forgery. It bore the name of Alex. Hartlop, so cleverly written that even that gentleman could scarcely detect any difference between his own signature and that in this cheque, save in one very minute point. But apart from this very trifling difference, Mr. Hartlop persistently denied that he had ever drawn such a cheque. “He knew no such person as Thomas Starling, how could he then have drawn a cheque for one of whom he had never heard; he had not signed that cheque, on his oath he would swear it.” The bank authorities were compelled to own that in the minute particular to which reference has been made, the signature was not genuine. The amount had been paid to a middle-aged man, a stranger, who gave his name, “Starling.”

Here was a mystery, and who could solve it? The cheque-book was kept in the cash-box, and this again was always locked up in the iron safe. To this safe none had access, save Mr. Hartlop and the prisoner. In the absence of any proof that the merchant had signed the cheque in a fit of abstraction, which every one who knew Mr. Hartlop agreed was most unlikely, suspicion could rest only upon James Stewart. Why? No one could exactly say. Yet he was arrested, and after the preliminary examination was remanded, to be committed for trial at his next hearing, upon evidence which appeared too conclusive to be resisted. Ten days after the committal, the assizes commenced, the bank proprietors being the prosecutors; and on the second day of the assize, he stood in the felon's dock to answer this serious charge.

The facts of the case were reduced upon the trial to a very small compass. A close examination of the cheque-book proved that a leaf had been abstracted with scrupulous care, but the criminal had forgotten that the numbers ran through the book consecutively, and one of these was missing. The forged cheque bore this identical number. The terrible alternative was inevitable. If the keys of the safe had never been accessible to any besides the prisoner or his employer, one or the other must have abstracted the cheque. That Mr. Hartlop should do such a thing was incomprehensible, and it was only just possible that the prisoner might have been guilty of such an act. The filling in of the cheque was in writing very similar to Stewart's, the signature appeared all but perfect. In fact, the bank proprietors and their clerks candidly confessed that they would have paid any amount upon it.

Such was the general purport of the case, which the counsel for the prosecution, in a condensed form, laid before the jury; but he appended a farther statement, that there were additional facts upon which he would not comment, but considered it best to leave this, which he thought most damning evidence, to the sole judgment of those who would have to decide the case.

There were many witnesses to be examined, to be cross-examined, brow-beaten, insulted, and if within the possibility of man's skill, to be legally forced to tell a lie. Cross-examination is no doubt a safety valve in the great engine of English law; but, in the hands of some, it is a shame and disgrace. If it is equity, justice, and law to worry a respectable, honest witness to the very borders of madness, then it must be right; but if the word of a man of good repute is worth any thing, it is by no means necessary to strive to make that man appear ridiculous in the estimation of the court. This is the aim and end of all cross-examination, when it exceeds the bounds of civility. Upon this particular trial, the several witnesses passed through the most severe ordeal. They grew very red, and then turned pale; they determined not to be angry, and sixty seconds after were as pettish as possible: they volunteered opinions, and then appeared to be as barren of any real evidence as the spectators in the court: they looked very wise, but went out of the witness box conscious that the counsel had made them the laughing stock of all, and at last the court adjourned for lunch. In twenty minutes the judge was on the bench again, and the most important witness of the day was called, “Henry Julet.”

As he entered the box he cast one glance at the prisoner: no trace of emotion, no mark of pity, no, not the slightest feeling of shame was there in that face. Then, looking at the judge, at the jury, and finally casting a triumphant gaze around the court, he appeared to brace himself up for that which was to be a lengthened and searching examination. This would fill many pages, and from its peculiarity it is here given in a condensed form.

“He was preparing to leave the warehouse on the evening of January 15, he was quite sure as to the day, because it was his birthday. All the lights were extinguished, except one in the counting-house, which was a square room, with glass windows on the two sides which faced the warehouse. He could easily see the prisoner through this glass partition, especially as the counting-house was lighted, and he stood in the dark warehouse. He saw him unlock the cashbox, out of which he took the cheque-book; he knew it was a cheque-book by its peculiar shape. Out of this book he distinctly saw him tear a leaf, he heard the sharp click which accompanied the act; everybody knew what kind of sound he referred to. That somehow he thought it to be a strange proceeding, he could not tell why he thought so, but he did for all that. So he crept softly up to the partition, and there he distinctly saw that the prisoner held a long strip of paper in his hand, while with a penknife he was trying to cut away some ragged pieces which had been left in the cheque-book. Curious to see more he still lingered, and then he was struck with the appearance of the young man. He was looking at the blank cheque apparently in deep thought; he (the witness) imagined at the time that he was hesitating whether he should keep the cheque or not. He could then see that it was one of those which were issued by the bank of which Mr. Hartlop was a customer. But the common effect of endeavoring to hold in his breath, had resulted in a sudden fit of coughing. Of course the prisoner was alarmed, and, instantly crushing the cheque in his hand, he rushed out of the counting-house saying, 'what do you want?' He replied that he was waiting for him; he was wont to do this very often when Mr. Hartlop was away from home, and, as he had gone to London that day, he thought the prisoner would like to spend the evening at his house. He noticed at the time that he stared at him very keenly, as if he would read his thoughts; but suddenly he turned back into the counting-house, put on his hat, extinguished the lamp, and, locking up the safe in the dark, and afterwards the counting-house door, they left the premises together. Prisoner, however, did not go home with him, but, talking very rapidly all the way, he accompanied him as far as East-street, and then hurriedly wishing him good night he ran off in the direction of Albion Place.”

The witness tendered this evidence with the most complete self-possession. “Why had he not spoken about this at the time the forged cheque was discovered?”

“Well,” he replied, “he really pitied the young man, and was not willing to be the means of convicting him of this crime, more especially as he heard that the bank would be the prosecutor if there was to be any prosecution at all.”

“What was the reason then for his altered determination?” The judge asked this question of the counsel, but the witness replied at once: “Mr. Hartlop put a direct question to him.”

“What was the question?”

“'Did he, or did he not, know anything about the forgery? He would not accuse any one; but he had put this question to the prisoner, and in the same manner he now asked him. To this question he replied, 'that he had no wish to make any statement at all.' This, however, only made Mr. Hartlop more determined to know the truth, and so he informed him of that which he had given in evidence to the court.”

No cross-examination could shake this testimony; it was given calmly, with evident thought. Moreover, it was probable and reasonable.

The cheque was produced; it had evidently been crumpled up as the witness had stated.

Mr. Hartlop, recalled, confirmed Julet's statement that he had pressed him to tell all he knew about the case, and after some considerable hesitation and confusion, he had stated to him (Mr. Hartlop) the same facts which he had given in evidence to the court.

“Had the prisoner been extravagant?” asked the judge.

“No!” replied Mr. Hartlop. “James Stewart was a careful, saving young man; certainly no one could charge him with anything bordering upon extravagance. He could not account for the forgery; the last person he should have accused was the prisoner. Even now, notwithstanding all the evidence that he had heard, he was persuaded that there was a terrible mistake somewhere. He never would believe the prisoner to be guilty.”

Poor Stewart! He seemed as if he could have broken through all rule and custom while Julet was under examination. It was only by a violent effort that he restrained his indignation. But as the case for the prosecution closed, he seemed to have lost every glimpse of hope. Witnesses were called on his behalf, but they could only tell that which was already known, and candidly admitted by the prosecution, that up to this period the prisoner's character was unstained. The usual strong appeal was made to the feelings of the jury by the prisoner's counsel, but those who read the faces of other men, said that it was breath wasted for no purpose at all. Stewart was condemned already, and he felt it. With his head resting on his hand, and his elbow on the dock-spiked rail, he sobbed out the words at intervals, “By the God of heaven, not guilty,” lifting up his hands as if appealing to the Judge of all.

The judge was much moved. He was a most kind-hearted man, always pitiful and compassionate towards the erring, especially if there was a hope of reformation. But what could he do in such a case as this? For some moments he was silent. He looked earnestly at the prisoner, then round the court; and finally at the young man again, as if in a spirit of inquiry, “Is there nothing which can rebut this evidence?” But his solemn duty must be performed, however hard it might be. The law was not his; he was only the judge; and hard enough it is at times to pass sentence upon a poor creature, even with this feeling. As the judge said afterwards, “If it had rested with him, he could have wished to see that young man set free.” Slowly, calmly, but surely, he summed up the terrible evidence. What could it be but against the prisoner, treat it as superficially as he could? He was too honest a judge to be partial however, even in such a case as this; but the concluding words of the summing up were spoken with an energy which evidenced the feeling of the man, though the man was clad in the robes of the judge. “If—if there is even the least shadow of a doubt upon your minds as to the improbability of the prisoner's guilt, do not convict him.” The words in italics were emphasised with the slowest and most distinct articulation.

There was no doubt; those twelve matter-of fact jurymen had found the prisoner guilty an hour previously. Only as a matter of form did they turn round to speak to each other. In five minutes James Stewart was a convict: in five minutes more, he was sentenced to fourteen years' transportation beyond the seas, the crime of forgery being at this period very little short of a capital offence. Handcuffed, dumbstruck, all but temporarily insane with the horror of his position, he was conducted back to the gaol, to await final instructions as to his future destiny. Let the cloud come down, and shroud the scene with the mist of obscurity. The poor heart-stricken youth felt its presence; feared as he entered into it; but the nobler principles of Christianity triumphed amidst the gloom. The heart knoweth its own bitterness; but into the prison cell, pity, faith, and hope accompanied the sorrowing prisoner; and a few hours later, Mr. Hartlop, who went to visit him as soon as his harrowed feelings would allow, found his young protege firmly and confidently believing that all would be well with him.

Within three years after this terrible day, when the merchant and the orphan parted with a bitterness of sorrow which cannot be described, James Stewart, with two hundred and thirty others, heard the anchor chains rushing out of the convict ship, and knew that the terrible voyage was over, and that upon a new scene they were to work out their awful sentence. Mercifully had the young man been preserved throughout the long and tedious voyage of more than five months duration. Disease of a most contagious character had cut off fifty-four of the horrid, blaspheming cargo of outcasts who had been banished to this far-off land. But Stewart had escaped, and had proved to be a blessing to many who had thus miserably perished. Apparently indifferent about his own safety, he had striven to aid the authorities in their arduous duties, and some of the officers, only too glad of any assistance, made him a hospital nurse. So well did he conduct himself in this position, that the surgeon obtained the consent of the commander that his fetters should be taken off, and on the arrival of the ship in Moreton Bay, his case was recommended to the favorable consideration of the commandant, with a view to some alleviation of the more severe part of the sentence which had been passed upon him.

CHAPTER II.—DAVID ARGYLE.

In the same vessel there was another convict, whose case this chapter will describe. David Argyle was the son of a 'well-to-do' farmer in Suffolk, who had inherited all his father's property, but lacked the necessary experience and perseverance which had contributed so much to make the elder Argyle a successful, and, consequently, a wealthy man. Like many young men who suddenly come into the possession of a considerable sum of ready money, he regarded his position as one in which he could enjoy life to his heart's content, and so he determined to have a spell of jollity to make up for the restraint which the plain habits of a very good father and mother had put upon him.

These are his own words; but weeks, and even months elapsed, after he had followed his father to the grave, and yet he was simply “Davie,” as he was called, a plain country lad, the pride of his widowed mother, and an object of ridicule to some of the neighbors' sons; fast young men, who took care to express their opinions about him whenever an opportunity occurred.

Nearly two years thus passed away after the death of old Argyle, when the mother sickened, and, after a very brief illness, she was numbered with the dead. No one could be more affectionate and loving to her than the lad who was almost constantly by her bedside. The most experienced medical aid was procured, but the disease was incurable, and she knew it from the first day when it struck her down. David was most devotedly attached to his mother, and the thought of losing her was terrible to him, but as the end drew near, and the doctors plainly told him there was no hope, like young Jacob of old, he appeared to be superstitiously anxious to obtain the parental dying blessing, and who can say that there was any superstition in it after all. Had any one stood in the chamber of good old Mrs. Argyle, they must have been impressed with the solemn scene as they witnessed her feeble hand resting upon her son's head, and heard her, in faltering accents, pronounce the words, “God bless thee, my dear, good boy. Yes, the Lord lift up His countenance upon thee, laddie. The angel which hath redeemed me and thy father, my bairn, from all, yes, all evil, bless thee—even thee. And now, Davie, one counsel more, be ye sure ye meet father and mother in heaven. Love the Saviour, laddie; He has ever proved a good friend to your father and me.” The last words were spoken at intervals, and with great difficulty. One last effort followed. Opening her eyes, the fond mother said, “Look—at—me.” The young man raised his head, and with a look of unspeakable tenderness she said, “Jesus—precious—” and the tongue ceased its office.

The incidents associated with a mourning family are interesting, even instructive, but the experience of every one is too full of the reality of the thing, to make the bare repetition of such scenes a necessity. David Argyle saw his mother's corpse committed to the grave, and then he began seriously to consider what was necessary to be done to fill up the gap which death had made in the family circle. There was not a question but that home, or “the house,” as he now termed it, was dull, “dreadfully dull.” He was a very superficial reader, and the society of an old woman, who had been the house servant for many years, was not calculated to interest him very much. It was winter also, the evenings were long and tedious. He had no companions, nor was he clever in inventing sources of amusement or instruction. The great temptation was very strong now: “Run up to London, see real life there, have a taste of that which others enjoy so much, and after this nice change you will settle down to work all the better.” His heart was quite ready to acquiesce in this proposal, which the tempter placed before him in this very plausible language; but sundry recollections of recent words which had sounded in his ears under circumstances which he then thought he could never forget, raised up a shield before the tempter, and for the time he was foiled. “No,” said the young man, “I will remain at home.”

But how true it is, that man actually unbolts the doors which keep temptation away from his view, merely to gain a momentary look at the pleasant prospect, and then he finds that he can never fasten them so securely as they were before. The tempter has only to use a little extra force and the barriers yield, and free ingress is given to the human house. David's desires ere long went far enough to take off all the fastenings by which the tempter had been baffled, and he was not in the least surprised or sorry to see that which was the personification of temptation, walk into his house and heart, in the person of a young man who, as it afterwards transpired, had laid a wager that he would bring out the young farmer to join a few jovial companions at a social 'free-and-easy' club, which had been established at the neighboring town of Leyton. David had been watching his visitor as he slowly rode across the common which adjoined his farm, but believing that he was on his way to town, he turned again to the well-spread table in the keeping-room, to discuss the usual lunch which always preceded a ride to market. Sitting with his back to the window, he did not perceive that anyone had entered the farmyard, until he was accosted with a cheerful: “Good morning, Argyle, excuse me, I came in without ceremony, you know.”

“Quite right, neighbor Rouse,” replied Argyle, “I am glad to see you. Why don't you give us a look in now and then, I am wretchedly dull.”

“Oh! so I thought,” said Richard Rouse, “and as I rode over, seeing your horse ready saddled, I supposed that you were off to market; and says I, 'here's the chance to break the ice.' No sooner said than done, that is my motto; so off I jumped, and here I am, old fellow!”

“And right welcome you are, Rouse,” replied the young farmer; “come, take a snap, and we will ride in together.”

“Many thanks, Argyle,” said his visitor, “but I have only just breakfasted; we were late last night. What do you think of our little carousal? Let me see, there was Tom Jones and his two sisters, splendid girls, by-the-bye, and the three young Thurlows and no sisters, but to make up for their absence, we had the four Miss Gillinghams and then mother.”

“Who weighed down all the three Thurlows, I suppose?”

“Exactly so,” replied Rouse, “but they were not all. Old Squire Herbert dropped in on his way home, and a jolly old customer he is, Argyle. By the way, he was asking after you.”

“After me!” said Argyle. “I never spoke to him in my live.”

“Just so, my dear fellow, and the jolly old squire said he did not know why there should be such an estrangement between you; and now that you are indeed your own master, and the fortunate possessor of Argyle Farm, and ten thousand pounds in ready cash—”

“Who told you that?” said Argyle, interrupting his visitor rather sharply, at the same time looking him very keenly in the face.

Rouse saw that he was on delicate ground, and that the young farmer was as suspicious about any intermeddling with his private affairs as he was generally reported to be. But he was too good a tactician to be defeated upon such simple ground.

“That your father was wealthy, David,” he replied, “everybody knew. That he had nearly that sum out upon the mortgage of the Woodbridge property—you know which I mean—was a public report, and more than a report, a certain fact. So people judge, my door fellow, and Squire Herbert spoke about it, saying he was as glad of your good luck as if you were his own son.”

“Ah! well,” replied Argyle, “you were talking about your company, what was it, a ball, or a family birthday, or—”

“A little social evening party, Argyle. You have been so shut up at home that you have heard little or nothing about our movements. Nor shall it be our fault, my dear fellow, if you do not become better acquainted with us.”

“Well, we can talk about this as we go along,” said Argyle, “but tell me, Rouse, what sort of a club is that which you wrote to me about some months ago. I really think—”

“That you will join us; now do, there's a good fellow,” said Rouse, “the very thing I was going to ask you. We have good dinners, famous wine, capital company.”

“Ah! there's the rub!” said Argyle, “the company at these places, my good father used to say, was likely to lead a fellow into bad habits.”

“Not necessarily so,” replied his companion. “I won't take offence, Argyle, at your remark, for you do not, I am sure, mean to charge me with such a fault.”

“Oh, no, no, excuse me, I was speaking in general terms,” said Argyle.

“And I, my dear fellow,” replied Rouse, “am such a generality, that I mix in all kinds of society, but I do not know that I am a profligate for all that. Life is made up of variety, Argyle, and I am sure you must feel the need of it. Even the ladies say—jokingly of course—they wonder how you can live such a secluded life as you have lately.”

“Indeed, indeed,” said Argyle, with an ironical laugh; “I feel highly flattered; I did not think a creature besides old Betty had any interest in me. But I never was cut out for a ladies' man.”

“You don't know; 'pon my honor, it is a fact,” replied Rouse, “you need not laugh now, I can tell you that a pair of pretty eyes looking at you as if they intended to take no quarter is rather a formidable piece of business to face. Many an iron heart has been made red-hot by such a fire, before its possessor even knew what was the matter. Ah, never fear, Argyle,” continued the speaker, “you are destined to fall down and worship the same idol some day.”

“Let it come, Rouse, let it come, if it is to come, at present, I say, nothing shall tempt me to invest in such a lottery. But come, let us be jogging, or all chance of doing business will be over. Are you a seller or buyer, to-day, Richard?”

“Neither,” replied Rouse, “I am merely going to town to attend our sub-committee. You will join us? Now, say yes, and if you regret it, why, call me anything you like.”

Consent was given, and to Leyton the two young farmers rode at a smart pace—Argyle to sell some corn, Rouse to idle away an hour or two until market was over. The principal inn in the place was the White Lion, an old-fashioned house with a good posting, commercial, coach, and market connection. As a family hotel of a particularly homely but comfortable character, the White Lion was not to be despised.

A large and noble archway led into the hotel yard, so frequently seen in old fashioned posting-houses, and so much alike are these entrances to old hotels, that many of them appear as if they were designed by the same hand. Around this yard the hotel was built, enclosing it on three sides, the fourth part of the square being the fence of a very large garden, near to which were the stables, communication being provided by another archway, which led from the hotel to the stable-yard.

The bar, that immortal theme of all novelists, the constant source of righteous annoyance to neglected wives of tippling husbands, the exchange of scandalmongers, the paradise of news propagators, the sanctum sanctorum of tough old politicians, the commercial gentleman's retreat from L. s. d., and the parish clerk's levee room, how shall this great studio of human character be described? It is not every one who remembers such scenes as these cosy places presented, when a stage coach was changing horses preparatory to a start on the next stage. The coachman's “wee drop,” or the passengers' steaming hot coffee, with a dash of brandy, or it may be the simple glass of ale, drawn by the magnificent hand of the great mistress of the house, or by the roguish, ever cheerful, and sometimes exceedingly satirical, mistress of the bar; the net bristling with golden lemons, the wonderfully painted bottles of mysterious import, with their necklace labels, heaps of pipes saying, “come and smoke me,” boxes which came from nowhere, if the far-famed Havannah disowned their parentage, plates of tempting sandwiches, a crystal vase, the home of the most tender and charming celery under the sun, rows of decanters and cut wines, tumblers of all ages and capacities, from the poplar shape, renowned for ale, the solid foot-grog cistern, the gigantic soda-water fellow, and the landlord, the passengers, and the coachman all talking together, why these were at every stage, like new chapters in a book.

Often have we looked in and refreshed our inner man, then set out again; and thus from stage to stage onward we traveled till the journey being ended, we looked back upon our resting places, and were always of the opinion that even though they are mere places of commercial necessity, yet nothing can supply the place of a well conducted inn.

Nor must this eulogy be taken as a defence of the intemperate use of these things. An inn was, in the earliest ages, an institution and a necessity. Wine has been made ever since, and probably before the flood. The intemperate use of it none can defend, but the right to enjoy it as one of God's gifts, none with any reason can withhold. Intemperance in anything is hateful; gluttony, tobacco chewing, and sensuality, are evils equally as terrible as drunkenness, and yet there is a greater evil if possible than all these, the belief that reformation merely is sufficient to save the soul. There are many abstainers who are infidels as rank as the world has ever seen. The temperance movement every good man must approve, but to be temperate in drink, an abstainer from wine, and yet a filthy debauchee in practice, or even a scorner of Divine revelation, is to be as strange an anomaly as the human mind can conceive.

Having written so much of praise and condemnation, let me add that I would not keep an inn for all the gold in the world. Shades of the departed, ruined by strong drink, goaded by the devil to make use of liquor to work out your ruin, how must you haunt those vaults of delusive pleasure. In the world of ruin the publican's register of lost souls will be on awful library. But let us be just even where we blame. What shall be stored up there against usury, with its robbery, its rending of widows' hearts, its wholesale destruction of orphans' homes? Or how shall robbery, trickery, deceit, ingratitude, false witnessing, adultery, and self-worship, stand in the Day of Account? Place these in a row with intemperance, and it would be difficult to say which is the most hideous. Reform! yes, reform the world if you can, gentlemen, but heap not upon one word, all the vices of which human nature is so fatally capable.

But this is a digression; the subject, however, will become one of the greatest questions of the day, let this be the apology.

Let us take a peep at the remaining portion of this well ordered country hotel. It is customary to enter into the most minute detail in descriptions of houses, offices, furniture, and men and women in general, but as this is the very thing which will be omitted, too particular and exact proportion, situation, and general appearance of each room, passage waiter, servant, picture, dog, cat, horse, and anything else you please, will have to be for the most part imagined, if indeed anyone should feel an impulsive curiosity about them. The most splendid oratory cannot make a house anything but a dwelling, a room anything but an apartment; a cat is in like manner still a cat, tabby, tortoise, black or white, it does not signify. So the White Lion may be very soon as intimate an acquaintance as it is necessary to make it, if it is described as an old-fashioned, comfortable house, with lots of rooms; old furniture, very stately and massive; old, compact, well ordered stables; old steady-going horses, and genuine old post-boys, carrying over leaf the whole summary as you carry forward an account, by saying, “and old all sorts.” There you have it in a small compass, and if you had spent a day or two in its simple, hospitable rooms, you would remember the old place as pleasantly as I do.

Old post-boys! How funny it must have been to be called a boy at sixty years of age. Jolly old fellows, some of those country town post-boys were. They were just as remarkable an institution as the inevitable old salts, which one meets at watering places, sea port towns, &c. Full of yarns as long as you please; a sixpenny yarn, or a shilling adventure, or a two and sixpenny hair-breadth escape, ending with “your honor,” or even spiced now and then with a “my lord,” or something like it. But Othello's occupation is gone. John the powdered post-boy, Jack the spruce leather-gaitered ostler, and Bob the slim dapper groom, with the pea green coat, large brass buttons, tight cords, and top boots; these are things of the past, compared with the ever rushing present.

Yes, “you would remember the old inn as well us I do,” it is written, and truth claims a voice in approval. If you have seen such an old inn you will know all about its general particulars, but if your knowledge of such subjects does not include such an experience, it is extremely improbable that even a photograph would unveil any satisfactory information about it. It is certain that no modern hotel could boast of such comfortable and comforting eccentricities as were to be found here. If you rang the bell and ordered a ghost story, it is extremely likely that you would have had it served up with the highest sensational horror, which a literary kitchen could invent. As we never did order such a dish, we can only speak problematically. But in reference to honeymoons, why, bless your heart, the good landlady would ring the changes for an hour, in describing the high honors which had been heaped upon her from Hymen's altar. The visitor's book decidedly blushed with visions of extraordinary blessedness, which this old White Lion had witnessed. Scarcely had the recollection of one happy pair dissolved into history, than another cosy couple claimed the happy privilege of a brief sojourn in this marital paradise. To be sure the facilities for boating, fishing, riding and walking, were very great, but as honeymoons are not very frequently spent in such common-place pursuits, there certainly must have been other attractions and private reasons why Mrs. Lincoln should be able to say, and she said it with a nod and a wink as a conclusive accompaniment to the words, “Ah! they are not fools who come to my house, I can tell ye.” Try to draw out her meaning beyond this, and you would have been disappointed. But they who professed to know a thing or two, would have it that everybody connected with this house had been well educated to mind then own business. If the most lovely duchess in the world had taken up her quarters at the White Lion, not a whisper would have gone forth from anyone in the establishment about her, or anything she chose to do. In a word, no one was stared at.

Probably this somewhat rambling description of a fine old inn would be out of place, and altogether uninteresting, if it had not been the scene of an event which made it for the time the centre of interest in the county. With this event, David Argyle will ever be associated. That afternoon's introduction to the farmers' club was full of fatality to him. It is true he met with jollity, good company, excellent wine, and the opportunity of being introduced to the most pleasant society. All these were very new to him, and he at once opened his heart to enjoy them. Of course he had no intention of falling into excess, “not he, indeed.” So he stoutly resolved. But he had yet to learn that it is necessary for the most stout-hearted to take heed lest he fall. To his great surprise, he found that a relative, the only son of his mother's sister, was the paid secretary of the club, and on inquiry he also found that he was a clerk in a merchant's office in the town. There had been no correspondence between the two families for many years, and Argyle, presuming that as his cousin had only seen him as a boy, he would not recognise him now, abstained from speaking to him. But the wine set the talking faculties in motion, and the two relations were soon known as such. At first David Argyle treated the other with haughtiness and scorn, which the secretary repaid with quiet sarcasm. But the mercury rose with the heat of the room, and so did the young farmer's voice. “Money was nothing to him. Wine, waiter, more wine, champagne, bring in champagne for all, all, waiter, do you hear, for all; never mind what old penwiper says.” He had passed the rubicon now; henceforth, “For he's a jolly good follow,” and “We won't go home till morning,” was shouted, bawled, hammered down with the customery “bravo,” and assented to by Argyle, as long as he had the inability to unite in such senseless orgies. David was hopelessly intoxicated long before any of the others; only the cautious secretary escaped the universal contagion. At a late hour, Rouse and Argyle were assisted down the stairs which led to the inn yard, the latter having slept for an hour, and Rouse declared that he was “perfectly right.” Argyle made several attempts to mount his horse, and at last succeeded in getting into the saddle with his face towards the tail of the animal, nor could any persuasion convince him that he was wrong. But as the horse moved on, he discovered that “the riding was very curious,” and dismounting to ascertain if it was “all right,” he was induced to remount this time with his face towards home. Home, alas! he never saw it again. Poor young fellow, little did he know whither he was riding. In about an hour after they left, a man, under the influence of great excitement, rushed into the bar of the White Lion, with the startling intelligence that a murder had been committed just outside the boundary of the town.

On being questioned by Lawyer Scarem, who was solacing himself after the fatigue of the day with his customary pipe and glass of grog, amidst many remarks of an irrevalent character, he informed the company present, that, “as he was walking home from Woodlands, to which place he had taken a parcel which had arrived by the last coach, he fell over a man who was lying across the pathway. In his fall he did not at first observe that another man was lying about two yards farther on towards the main road, but in getting up he stretched out his arm, which thus touched this man, who, he could plainly see by the strong moonlight, was covered with blood, and to the best of his belief was dead.”

Here was an event for the inmates of the White Lion bar. They were a motley group, consisting of a recruiting sergeant, the vestry clerk, the head constable, Mr. Ropeyarn the grocer, Mr. Sugar the tailor, and Lawyer Scarem, in addition to the host and hostess of the hotel. The soldier and the constable, Mrs. Lincoln observed, were a host in themselves, and as to Lawyer Scarem, it was fortunate that he was on the spot, to which opinion Messrs. Ropeyarn and Sugar immediately assented. There was little difficulty in getting up an amateur bodyguard, and with the sergeant and the constable at the front, they soon arrived at the fatal spot. Here a shocking sight presented itself. The young man, Rouse, lay on the ground, with a terrible blow on the back of his head which had beaten in the skull, while Argyle, grasping his heavy whip in his hand, lay near him, either stunned or fast asleep. Rouse was quite dead. The metal knob of Argyle's whip was covered with blood, and his clothes were sprinkled with the same horrid hue. On a further search, Rouse's horse was found feeding by the roadside, Argyle's was never found.

It was with considerable difficulty that the constable could arouse Argyle, but after a while he sat up, and rubbing his eyes, the blood which was upon his hands, was transferred to his face, and then for the first time he began to realise the horrors of his position. To behold him as he gazed on the dead body of his young friend, frantically asking the crowd “what was the matter? and who had done it?” was something fearful. To be in his awful position was positively maddening. The wine was still in his head. It had struck deeply into his brain, and thus with a stupefied, but startled expression, he gazed on those who surrounded him with a vacant, perplexed countenance, for no one had answered his questions. Of course he was taken into custody, and with the lifeless body of his late companion, the procession returned to the town, meeting on the way numbers of the inhabitants, so that by the time the White Lion was reached a large crowd was collected. Stunned and distracted with the horror of the suspicion which was so strong against him, Argyle was unable to utter a word. In the morning he was taken before the magistrates, but the proceedings were of a very formal character, and he was remanded until an inquest had been held.

CHAPTER III.—THE INQUEST.

Leyton had not had such a sensational case for years. The parish constable had been, from an early hour in the morning, an object of the most intense delight to a considerable number of small boys and lesser girls. Perhaps they considered it possible that the prisoner was in some way connected with a brother constable, who had come over to Leyton from a neighboring parish in pursuance of an urgent request which had been sent by special messenger to him. Leyton constable was a little man with an abundant stock of self-importance. Wickham constable was a gigantic fellow, with an extraordinary supply of intense stupidity. The name of the former was Reuben Jacobs, but the giant was known as “the Doctor,” nor had he the least idea how this singular term had been attached to him. Tradition has it upon record, that his father drew teeth, and that his son was dubbed 'the Doctor' at the parish school. But speculation upon this historical subject is useless, when it is recorded that upon a certain important occasion in which a lady was concerned, Reuben Jacobs and his friend had sat in council to discuss this solemn question, and after smoking their pipes for three hours, and washing down the aroma of the smoke with an entire bottle of brandy and a small portion of hot water, they at length came to the conclusion, gravely and decisively, that the person who could throw any light upon the subject was not yet born.

These functionaries, who are genuine copies of two originals, must not occupy more than a corner. Many a ludicrous mistake might be described which, in conjunction with real events, caused roars of laughter at the expense of these sapient officers of justice. But the scenes in the greater part of the book will be enacted in a far distant land, and the temptation to transport these two men thither, must, for truth's sake, be resisted.

Of course the White Lion became the rendezvous of the coroner, the jury, the witnesses, and every busybody the town could boast of. Rumors of the murder had quickly spread far and wide, and in the course of the morning, Septimus Long, Esq.; Richard Lloyd, Esq.; and John Brown Trotter, Esq.; all of them magistrates in the county, came into town to watch the proceedings. The first of the three was as pompous and empty-headed, as he was bigotted and self-important. The other gentlemen were well skilled in criminal jurisdiction. At 12 o'clock the proceedings were commenced. The body was duly inspected, and the evidence which followed was gradually weaving a net of condemnation around the prisoner. Still there were circumstances which could not be explained, and though the position in which the prisoner and the deceased were found, coupled with the medical evidence, that Argyle's whip must have been the weapon which was used, pointed with tolerable certainty to the fact that his hand had struck the fatal blow, the two “lawyer magistrates,” as they were called, plainly expressed their opinion that it was quite possible for a third party to have been concerned in this horrible crime.

“With your permission, Mr. Coroner,” said Mr. Trotter, interrupting the proceedings as the evidence of the man who had discovered the murder was concluded, “I would desire to make a remark or two. He has said that the prisoner was drunk. Is there anyone who can speak decidedly upon this point?”

“Your assistance, worthy sir, in this case, being of course extra judicial,” replied the coroner, “will be most acceptable. The next witness will explain this matter. Call James Roberts.”

James Roberts examined: “At what hour did the prisoner arrive at the White Lion?”

“About 4 o'clock yesterday afternoon.”

“How did he spend the time he remained there? He was drinking, I suppose.”

“Yes, sir, he drank a good deal; wine principally, then champagne.”

“And when did he leave the hotel?”

“About half-past 9, as near as I can guess.”

“Now what was his condition at that time?”

“Well, sir, I should say he was slightly drunk.”

“Slightly drunk. Tell us what you mean, my man. Was he unable to stand?”

“Oh, no, not so bad as that, though he could not keep on his legs without some help.”

Here the witness described the prisoner's attempt to mount his horse, which excited some amusement, during which Argyle held down his head as if he was heartily ashamed.

“It seems to me, Mr. Coroner,” said Mr. Long, “that the prisoner was stupid but not drunk.”

“But the evidence, Mr. Long,” replied the Coroner, “is plain upon this point he was drunk, so drunk that the people had to hold him up or he would have fallen. Besides that, what do you think of a man who tried to mount his horse the wrong way?”

“Oh, Mr. Coroner, as to that,” replied the sapient magistrate, “we have all known many people who tried to do things the wrong way.”

“But not to mount their horses with the tail for a bridle, eh, Mr. Long!” said Mr. Lloyd. “Allow me, Mr. Coroner, to inquire of the witness, whether there appeared to be any ill-feeling between the two young men.”

“Ill-feeling, sir! I should say not. Mr. Argyle there, kept on saying, 'He's a jolly good fellow; a regular good cove,' and all that sort of thing. They went away as jovial and merry as two crickets.”

“And in an hour afterwards one was found murdered?” Mr. Lloyd put this question.

“Yes, sir, about an hour after, so near as I can guess.”

“My opinion is still, Mr. Coroner,” said Mr. Long, “that the prisoner was stupid, perhaps shamming.”

“And mine, Mr. Long,” replied Mr. Lloyd, “is that there is no evidence to prove any thing of the kind.”

“Indeed, sir,” said Mr. Long, “perhaps you are an oracle upon such questions.”

“Gentlemen, gentlemen!” interrupted the Coroner, “pray let us have no contentions, or we shall never arrive at a proper conclusion. It will be better, perhaps, that you do not interfere.”

“With all my heart,” replied Mr. Trotter; “but allow me to say that the evidence as yet is too circumstantial. Have you nothing of a more direct character pointing to the prisoner as the criminal?”

“You shall hear all that is known, gentlemen, and I think it will be necessary to adjourn the inquest, in order to make further inquiry.”

So witnesses were called who distinctly declared that the prisoner was too intoxicated to have struck such a blow as that which killed the deceased. Some of them said that they tried to keep Argyle from drinking so much, but he would have it, until he fell under the table, and was taken up and laid upon a sofa, where he slept soundly for an hour; but upon being roused he snatched up a tumbler in which there was some raw brandy and drank it off, and this made him as bad as he was before he went to sleep, and more noisy. That under these circumstances, some of the members of the club thought it would be best to put him to bed, but the deceased said, “he would go home, and he would see the prisoner safe home also.” Rouse was not so drunk but that he knew what he was about. In addition to this evidence, it was proved that the secretary, who was going home at the same time as the two young farmers left, said that he would accompany them as far as he went.

“Where is this secretary?” inquired Mr. Lloyd.

No one knew. He was called but did not appear, and the coroner ordered that he should be summoned.

“Was the body of the deceased upon the pathway or in the road?”

The first witness was recalled: “In the road.”

“Were there any marks of struggling visible?”

“None, except those of horses feet.”

“Constable, have you tracked any footsteps from the place where the murder was committed?”

He had not seen any.

“Was there any money found upon the deceased?”

“None, your honor.”

At this point the prisoner started up with a peculiar cry, and informed the Coroner he had been robbed.

“Robbed!” replied that gentleman, “what do you mean, prisoner?”

“Why, that my pocket-book is gone, and with it seventy pounds.”

Singular to relate, at this very moment one of the servants of the inn entered the room to inform the court that a pocket-book had been found by him in a field, across which there was a public pathway leading to Woodlands.

“How near to the scene of the murder,” asked the coroner.

“About ten yards from the hedge,” was the reply. “It seemed to have been dropped by some one who had taken that pathway across Giles' meadow.”

The pocket-book being examined was found to be empty, with the exception of some accounts and other papers. There was no money in it.

Here the evidence was exhausted, and the inquiry was adjourned. Adjourned, to be again protracted to little purpose, save that a further witness was examined, a woman, who stated that “as she was sitting up for her husband, who was in the town drinking, as was his custom on market days, she was startled by a loud cry, and going to the door heard a noise as if some people were fighting, but it was soon over, and in about ten minutes after, Mr. Judd, who was passing by on his way home, replied to the question which she put to him, that it was two men having a dispute together, but they were gone on now.” The road to her house was a bye-road leading off from the turnpike road, where the murder was committed. The secretary, Mr. Judd, it was found, had gone on horseback very early on the morning after the murder to Ipswich upon some pressing business.

He did not return until after the inquest was concluded. Argyle of course was committed for trial, and it was rumored that Judd's evidence would be forthcoming at the assizes. To this statement may be added another, that the magistrate's inquiry was almost a verbatim repetition of the evidence which was taken before the coroner, and that Mr. Septimus Long, who interfered in every stage of the examination, was at last very plainly requested by the chairman of the bench to hold his tongue. The veil may be lifted sufficiently to explain the conduct of this gentleman, by saying that he was an active partisan of Henry Judd, and a man who was willing to descend to any dishonorable action if it would serve his own purpose. Temptation in one man has its strong link in another, and this in its turn lays its strong grasp on some one else, and who can say that the base action of Judas or Gehazi is not to this day bearing its dreadful fruit, in crimes, committed by those who have been influenced by others, who, in their turn, were excited by the example or words of those they knew, and so on step by step backward and backward still, until the Archtraitor himself could be unmasked. Who can tell what the effect of one sin will be? Until it is possible to snatch an uttered word from the atmosphere which has absorbed it, the answer to this question must be, “None!” There is One who has set in motion an unerring machinery by which words are registered with undeviating accuracy. He can trace our words; He only can connect them with our deeds with certain judgment. For three years and more the traitor smiled over his Great Master's wondrous career, and then kissed Him in hellish devilry. How long will Mr. Septimus Long smile over his partisanship in the Layton murder business? We shall see!

The result of the trial has been anticipated by the statement that Argyle, as a convict, sailed in the same ship with Stewart. He was convicted of manslaughter under aggravated circumstances, the evidence of Henry Judd being considered conclusive in to his guilt. On the trial he declared that when the two young men left the hotel the prisoner became very noisy and unmanageable; that the deceased tried to restrain him, but this was impossible; that as they reached the corner where the bye-road turned off towards Woodlands, Argyle declared he would go back again to the town; that the deceased tried to prevent him; that a slight struggle ensued, in which the prisoner fell from his horse; that he lay on the ground for a minute or so, and in the meantime the deceased dismounted; that the prisoner then managed to get on his legs, and raising his whip advanced towards the deceased with some angry words which he did not hear; that not wishing to be mixed up in a quarrel which might perhaps end in a court affair if he interfered, and knowing that he should be obliged to leave town early in the morning, he left them to settle the matter between themselves, hoping that after all it would end amicably. He heard of the murder as soon as the first coach arrived in Ipswich the next day. This evidence was taken after the prisoner had been committed for trial, but the accused had been present in the magistrate's room, at the county gaol where Judd was examined. The witness was cross-examined by the prisoner's attorney, but it was mutually agreed that the deposition should be attached to the proceedings, leaving it open for counsel to deal with it on the trial as might be necessary. It was dealt with, but the result was the same. Everything pointed to the prisoner as the murderer, and Argyle, after a long and tedious trial, heard the fatal words, “Guilty,” with a strong recommendation to mercy. This verdict the judge, in his sentence, reduced to manslaughter, which, in those days, was a grievous crime in the statute book. Sentence of death was recorded, which was a convenient way of banishing a human being from civilisation for the rest of his days. So Argyle became a convict. The chequered career of vicissitude and crime to which the sentence led was not unmixed with opportunities of redeeming much of the misery which thus fell so suddenly and fatally upon this young man. Ruin, disgrace, irretrievable suffering, stared him in the face as he went back to gaol.

There was One, however, who did not suffer him to go hence without seeing this great mystery unravelled, as easily as a Jewish Rabbi unrolls the copy of the law and reads it to the people.

CHAPTER IV.—HENRY JUDD ALIAS JULET.

Once more we have to record the incidents and results of a great crime. Stewart and Argyle, convicted, and under sentence of expatriation, are awaiting the usual period when they are to embark for a foreign land. We shall have to retrace the course of time which has elapsed between their conviction and their arrival in Moreton Bay in order to complete the history of the circumstances under which one of the principal witnesses on the trial of these two young men became himself surrounded with strong meshes of criminality, which proved the truth of the sacred adage, “be sure your sins will find you out.” Twelve months had elapsed since David Argyle had been sentenced to fourteen years transportation, and assize time had come again. The town we will call Blythwick. The judges have entered it in the orthodox manner, the commission has been duly opened, the assize sermon has been preached, and the shades of evening have drawn around the city. Again it is winter—very cold; snow is falling gently, and the weather-wise advance the opinion that “they are in for a regular boomer.” In the very elegantly furnished and comfortable chambers of the judge, who is to preside in the Crown Court to-morrow, the weather is of no consequence, so you would think if you saw the learned gentleman in his warm dressing-gown and thick velvet slippers, sitting in a luxurious easy chair before a bright fire.

Standing at the table in the centre of the room, which is covered with papers with the usual red-taped ornamentation, an elderly man is patiently waiting the pleasure of the judge, respecting the papers which he has in his hand, and which he has been reading during the past half hour or so. Most intently has the judge been engaged upon these depositions, for such they are, and the experienced and confidential clerk of Mr. Boodle, or rather of Messrs Boodle and Sons, as the firm was now, know his business too well to disturb the learned judge until he had permission to do so. At length the judge spoke: “I have sent for you, Mr. Green, to ask if anything farther has been elicited. There is nothing in those depositions which can go before a jury.”

“Yes, my lord, but perhaps this is not of any moment. It has been ascertained that this man was the principal agent in the conviction of one Stewart, at the 18-Spring assize, at Winchester.”

“Indeed! Ah! I recollect the case, it was forgery. I was the judge at nisi prius at the same assize. In reading the depositions, Mr. Green, I was impressed with the more important fact, that he was the principal witness upon a manslaughter case which had a direct bearing upon the interests of the party who is mentioned in the prosecution. Will it not be necessary, think you, to procure the attendance of this Stewart? You can have a writ of habeas. If the man who is to be tried is what I am now afraid he will turn out to be, it is but justice that the iniquity of his career should be fully known. I ought not to interfere, but I have the strongest impression now that there is rank treachery in this case, and ever since I sentenced young Argyle to a terrible doom I have felt dissatisfied with myself. I would indeed, Mr. Green, risk a little trouble to clear up some of the difficulties which surround this prosecution.”

“His late employer, my lord,” replied Mr. Green, “is in Blythwick now.”

“Ah! is it so?” said the judge. “I should like to see him. What does he say? There is not any reference to him, I think, in the depositions.”

“No, my lord, none whatever, but since the committal of the prisoner Judd, Mr. Boodle has been to London. There he met with Mr. Hartlop, at the Gray's Inn Hotel. They had been upon the most familiar terms for many years, almost in fact as brothers, and so of course they spent the evening over their wine and a little gossip. Mr. Boodle happened to ask Mr. Hartlop if he knew of a place for a young man, whom he wished to get into a good house of business. The inquiry led to a conversation in which Mr. Hartlop related the circumstances which had resulted in Stewart's conviction, and the subsequent extraordinary absconding of his fellow clerk, who had been the chief instrument in that conviction. Upon this Mr. Boodle also told Mr. Hartlop the particulars of the case, the depositions relating to which, your lordship has been reading.”

“Ah! indeed!” said the judge, “and what did he think about it?”

“He was struck at once, my lord,” replied Mr. Green, “with the description which Mr. Boodle gave of the prisoner, the name also seemed to him to be curiously ominous, that Judd and Julet were one and the same person.”

“How long ago is it since this interview took place, Mr. Green?” inquired the judge.

“Only a week, my lord, and Mr. Hartlop has been induced to come down to Blythwick, and is, I believe, with Mr. Boodle at this moment.”

“It is somewhat irregular, Mr. Green,” replied the judge, “but the evidence of this gentleman may be very important. It is not for me to suggest to you that which may forward the ends of justice, but in the question of handwriting, identity, and the previous history of the prisoner, the case seems to be very incomplete. I happen to be personally acquainted with Hartlop, and I know Mr. Boodle from report; tell them both, if you please, that I should be glad to be favored with their company this evening.”

“I will, my lord,” replied Mr. Green. “At what hour would you be prepared to receive them?”

“Oh! any hour, I shall not go out again,” replied the judge.

At 8 o'clock the judge, the lawyer, and the merchant, were putting together knowledge, experience, and probabilities, with the legal acumen of the one, the business tact of the other, and the professional experience of the third. The issue of their deliberations was a writ of habeas corpus to bring up the body of James Stewart from Portsmouth; a lengthened folio of manuscript, purporting to be the affidavit of Alex. Hartlop, and the discovery that beyond a doubt Henry Judd, the prisoner, and Henry Julet, Mr. Hartlop's late clerk, were one and the same person.

CHAPTER V.—MEASURE FOR MEASURE.

At 10 o'clock the next morning, the trumpeters who marched at the head of the Sheriff's procession, sounded their last shrill warning at the gates of the shire hall in Blythwick, that the assize was about to commence. The court was soon filled, and not long had they to wait for the judge. The ominous sudden bustle, and the cry of the usher, “Silence for his lordship, the judge,” and that learned man entered with all the solemnities, the formulae, and the paraphernalia which is supposed to add so much to the realities of a court of justice. With a bow to the court, he took his seat, and the proceedings commenced. The charge to the grand jury is given verbatim.

It was as follows:

“Gentlemen of the grand jury,—We have met again in this court, where I have had the pleasure upon former occasions of seeing many of you who appear here to-day, as the representatives of your country in the important capacity of grand jurymen. It is scarcely necessary that I should bring before you the very common question—viz., the importance of the trust which is thus committed to your charge. I know that I am addressing gentlemen who have for a lengthened period served their country honorably and efficiently as magistrates in this great county. I am happy also to observe that there are amongst you some gentlemen whose knowledge of criminal law has been frequently put into practice in dealing with the peculiar crimes which will be brought before your notice. I advert to this, because in one of the principal cases which is set down for trial at this assize it is desirable that you should give some attention to the previous history of the prisoner, not to his prejudice, but as it may throw some light, perhaps, upon a very painful case which was tried at Winchester lately, in which case the prisoner sustained a prominent position. It is a curious fact, though not by any means an uncommon sequel to such cases as that to which I have referred, that the prisoner who is to be tried for forgery at this assize was substantially the prosecutor in that. Let me give you an outline of the more recent case. A certain man dies, leaving his entire property, real and personal, to his son, subject to the death of his widow, who was thus made sole legatee for her life, the estate at her decease descending really and entirely to his son. The widow lived nearly two years after her husband, and the son became by her death entitled to the inheritance which was willed to him by his late father, and had enjoyed its possession for some few weeks only, when a calamity fell upon him, by which he was chargeable with the death of a young man, a near neighbor of his, and was sentenced at the last Spring assize to transportation. I candidly confess that I fear that justice has miscarried in that case, but in the absence of proof, it is useless to speculate on mere impressions. He will be brought before you, and you will hear more than it will be proper for me now to allude to. The indictment against the prisoner, Henry Judd alias Julet, for it seems that he was known by the latter name at Southampton, where he once served as clerk to a Mr. Hartlop, who will also be produced as a witness; the indictment, I say, charges the prisoner with having forged a deed of gift, by which he, as the nephew of the testator, Argyle, became entitled to a charge upon his estate, at the death of the testator's wife, amounting to the sum of one thousand pounds in cash, and twenty-nine acres of land. The deed in question was witnessed—I am speaking now of the signature of Mr. Argyle, sen.—by the young man to whom I have referred already. He met his death, as was alleged, by the hand of the son to whom the bulk of the Argyle property descended. This young man being thus put out of the way, and the younger Argyle being under sentence of expatriation, the claim was soon after made by the prisoner, by the medium of a letter, announcing the existence of this deed of gift, and referring to a gentleman who is, I believe, a magistrate of this county. This letter was sent to Messrs. Boodle, who have for many years been the solicitors to the Argyle family. I am glad to inform you that the Crown has relinquished any right by which it might have interfered with the estate in question, and by the consent of all parties, the property will be sold, and the proceeds will be funded for the benefit of the young man when his sentence has expired. I have paid some attention to this case, and believe that it is possible to unravel much of the mystery in which it is involved, and all I will now add is the sincere hope that the hearing of it may result in strict justice and equity to all parties concerned. The other cases which will come before you are not such as demand any comment from me. I rejoice, gentlemen, that though the calendar is heavy, numerically, yet the majority of the prisoners have been committed for offences comparatively trivial, and which might have been disposed of by a summary conviction. Hoping that provision for this may soon be made by the legislature, I now dismiss you to your duties with the usual request that you will, as soon as possible, send down a true bill, that we may proceed to business.”

The grand jury having retired, the judge addressed the counsel for the defendant. He stated that as the evidence of Mr. Hartlop—a copy of which had been furnished by his order to the prisoner's solicitor—was very important, he had ordered the trial to be postponed until all the other cases were disposed of. If the learned counsel had any proposal to make, he should be glad to hear it now.

“I should have been very glad, my lord, to have had the trial postponed unto the next assizes, and have given my advice to that effect, but my client is determined not to accede to it. It seems manifestly unfair to allow a case to come on for trial with important evidence of an entirely new character, and a very limited period in which to consider it. I understand also, my lord, that another witness is to be brought up by writ of habeas corpus, whose evidence is altogether unknown at present. I should protest against such a bungling attempt at injustice, for which we hold the prosecution entirely responsible, but, by an incomprehensible obstinacy, my client seems determined to have the case tried at the present assize. I leave the matter in the hands of your lordship. My own opinion is, the case ought to be postponed.”

“I do not think, Mr. Stephens,” replied the judge, “that the new evidence will need much consideration; if I am correct in my judgment, it will prove to be a very commonplace illustration of criminal law. I regret that the circumstances, which have so recently transpired, were not known before the prisoner was committed for trial, but for this, the prosecution, I learn, were not accountable.”

“I am fully acquainted, my lord, with this part of the case. In fact,” continued the learned counsel, “we must do the prosecution the justice of admitting that they have furnished us with all the particulars of Mr. Hartlop's affidavit, and also a summary of the probable evidence of the convict Stewart. My client, my lord, I am informed, has some insuperable objection to any delay, in spite of all that can be urged in favor of a postponement of the trial.”

“In this case, let the trial of Henry Judd be taken as the last upon the calendar,” said the judge.

With the proceedings of the next five days we have nothing to do, but on the sixth Henry Judd was placed at the bar. The indictment was read; it charged him with having “knowingly and fraudulently uttered a deed of gift, the signatures to which were forged, by which deed he (the prisoner) was made to appear as a claimant upon the estate of one David Argyle, deceased, for the sum of one thousand pounds sterling, in addition to sundry lands, &c., &c.” To this the prisoner pleaded “Not guilty.”

Counsel for the prosecution then addressed the court. The preliminary portion may be dismissed as easily as all sympathy for the prisoner was banished from the mass of people who heard the speech to the end. “If they can prove one half of that which the prisoner is accused of, I would not give much for his chance.” Such was the general opinion. It was alleged against him that he forged and uttered the deed of gift; that to cover his crimes he had wilfully and knowingly been guilty of false witness against others; that the death of the only alleged witness to the deed of gift was open to the strongest suspicion; and that, so far from there being any probability of such a mark of goodwill towards the prisoner on the part of old Mr. Argyle, he had always had the strongest antipathy towards him.

There were many witnesses, but a summary of the case will answer every purpose. It is merely necessary to explain how the three convicts became exiles from their native land, and this part of the history may be regarded therefore as prefatory to the rest. In pursuance of this plan, it may be stated that the last will of Mr. David Argyle, senior, was produced, and was proved to give and bequeath to his son David all and every his real and personal property whatsoever, &c., &c., subject to the control of his wife, Mary Argyle, during her lifetime, but at her death to be unconditionally the property of the son. Probate of the will was granted to Mr. Daniel Boodle, the sole executor to the estate. There was a clause in the will upon which a sharp contest rested. It was as follows: “subject to any and all contingencies, debts, gifts, and charges upon the estate which are lawfully chargeable thereon.” This, it was contested, was strong evidence that the testator knew of some obligations which he thus provided for. But in opposition to this, Mr. Boodle, the executor, and also the solicitor who prepared the will, testified “that the testator distinctly stated to him at the time when the will was signed, that though he wished this clause to be inserted, he knew of no such charge, nor of any debts or contingencies which could possibly arise.” In fact, Mr. Argyle regarded the future position of his son with a kind of honest pride, saying that he would not inherit a property which was hampered with a load of debt; it was all perfectly free, and, said he to him, “Mind you keep it so, my son,” The death of the testator was proved, and the administration to the will; also the death of Mrs. Argyle, and the arrest and conviction of the son for the murder of young Rouse. Then the deed of gift, which was the subject of the prosecution, was produced. It was dated December 4, 18—, signed David Argyle, witnessed by Richard Rouse, and, supposing it to be genuine, entitled Henry Judd to a thousand pounds and the twenty-nine acres of land to which reference has been made. Septimus Long, who was called by the prosecution, but who evidently gave such answers as he could not avoid with extreme reluctance, deposed that he had received the deed from the prisoner, as collateral security for moneys advanced. Being further pressed, he did not know the date when he received it, nor could he tell how much money the prisoner had received from him. A lengthened examination ensued, in which the conduct of the witness during the inquest upon the body of Richard Rouse and the subsequent examination of Argyle was rigidly scrutinised, but nothing important was elicited. But at last, getting angry at the severe questions which were put to him, he frankly stated that the prisoner had told him “he had little hope of getting any portion of the money unless he resorted to violent means.” It was not for him to say what he meant by the latter term; it might have been recovery by law for all he knew.

Mr. Hartlop called and examined: “The affidavit produced in court was his; it was perfectly true, to the best of his knowledge.” It stated that at the time when the alleged deed of gift was executed, or said to be signed by Mr. Argyle, the prisoner was in his service, and had been in his employ for more than six years previously; that at the Winchester assizes, two years previously to the present time, he was the chief witness in the prosecution of his confidential clerk, James Stewart; that about two months afterwards he left his employment without notice, and, on inquiry, it was found that he had previously sold off all his goods, and had sent his wife and child away from Southampton; that since that day he had not heard of him, until about a week or ten days ago. He had seen the document which purported to be a deed of gift to him, the prisoner; it was written upon paper which belonged to him, and which was made expressly to his order. Being asked if he could inform the court whether there was any peculiarity in this paper, he stated that the water mark was H, with the word HYTHE and the number 14. As he always kept a sample of each year's paper by him, he now produced a sheet exactly similar to that upon which the deed of gift was written.

“Have you any opinion to offer about the handwriting in this document?” inquired the judge.

“My lord,” replied the witness, “I could have sworn my late clerk, James Stewart, had written this deed, but I am not sure. It is very like his handwriting indeed.”

The paper and the deed having been handed up to the judge, were by him declared to be identical the one with the other. Mr. Hartlop was severely cross-examined, but his testimony was too sure to be shaken.

“Call James Stewart.” At this stage the judge interposed, and announced that as it was probable that the examination of this witness might occupy a long period, the court would be adjourned until the next day.

The morrow dawned dark and gloomy, a heavy fog covering the city—an emblem which was ominous as to the result of this trial. The terrible series of crimes met with retributive justice. Justice held the scales firmly. Blind she is said to be, but not really is it so. The sword is sheathed until the moment comes, who can tell what particular circle may be completed in that moment. Holy Scripture speaks of a period which, in the words of the Saviour, is called, 'thy day.' 'If thou hadst known in this thy day the things that belong to thy peace, but now they are hid from thy eyes.'

This is the principle upon which the scales are held: not a moment before the day is completed does the blow fall, but upon the striking of the hour the verdict which has been passed is fulfilled in the execution of the righteous sentence which has been awarded. As Stewart entered the witness box, the prisoner turned aside, as if he intended to make one great effort to bravo it out, but that one glance seemed to deprive him of his forced courage. The accused and the accuser had changed places once more. How could the latter look upon the orphaned lad now; a young man, with all the traces of his former intelligence and honesty of purpose written on his countenance, side by side with the lines of bitter grief. A convict, and by his wickedness! Yes, there is no intention of leaving this mystery to be solved in the concluding chapter. How the series of crimes were committed, and what was the temptation which urged the criminal to do such diabolical devilry, will be explained as the history is unrolled. It was the old thing in another form: one false step, but that step once taken could not be retraced, and it broke up the peace of many loving and loved hearts, who went sorrowing on account of it all their days.

But what had this witness to say? Enough, and more than enough to make the criminal cry out ere he had told it all, “Hold, I am guilty.” But he braved it all to the end, as we shall see. The evidence of James Stewart was to this effect: “One evening, just as the prisoner was going home, he asked witness if he could speak with him. 'Come home with me to my house,' said he; 'I wish to consult you on a very particular matter. 'I went with him as he requested, and then he told me that he had a rich old aunt on his mother's side, whose husband was a farmer in Suffolk, and having no relations on his side besides his only son, he intended to leave him a thousand pounds in his will and some land. I almost forget,” said the witness, pausing upon this question, “how much land he was to have. But that as he wanted money, the old man was willing to secure his legacy to him by a deed of gift, which he could lodge as security for a small advance to meet his present necessity. It seemed a curious proceeding, but, upon further inquiry, he told me,” continued the witness, “that the old fellow was very eccentric, and was so fond of his money he would not let any of it go out of his hands while he was alive; but there was another reason: Davie—as he called the son of the old farmer—Davie was not partial to him (the prisoner), and if he gave him money then, the lad would not like it.” In answer to other questions, the witness stated that he thought it would be best to borrow upon the old farmer's personal security, but to this the prisoner dissented, saying the old man would never consent to it.

“Upon this,” said Stewart, “he asked if I would make a fair copy of the deed, a draft of which he showed me, and said that it had been approved by old Mr. Argyle. I demurred; begged that he would go to a lawyer; but, when he objected on account of the expense, and also the delay which would be certain to arise if he adopted my suggestion, I consented to do that which he requested. I recollect that he also said that Mr. Argyle would be in Southampton in the course of the week, and he wanted to have the deed ready for him to sign.”

The question was then put to the witness slowly and very distinctly—“Did you then make a copy of the draft deed of which you have spoken in your evidence to the court?”

“I did,” was the reply.

“Is this the document to which you refer?” The deed of gift was handed to the witness.

“It is,” said Stewart.

“Have you seen that deed since the day you wrote it? Hand it down again,” said the counsel.

“I have not.”

“Now tell the court if you can remember what paper it was written on.”

The witness hesitated for a moment, but then replied.

“My employer gave me leave to use paper in his office whenever I required any. The paper upon which I copied the deed which has been handed to me belonged to him.”

“Was there any mark upon it?”

“All the paper was manufactured expressly to order, and a sufficient quantity, as estimated, was ordered for each year's consumption. I know that all Mr. Hartlop's paper bore the water mark H; there was another mark, but this was changed every year.” The witness here paused, as if in thought, and the counsel put another question to him:

“What was the other mark?”

“I was thinking,” replied Stewart. “The mark when—” Here the poor fellow could scarcely restrain his feelings; he tried to finish the sentence, but his tongue refused to speak. Mr. Hartlop, who was in the court, stood up as if he would speak to him, but this only made the matter worse. The witness had not seen his old master since the day when they parted, and as he now looked on him again, his pent up feelings burst out into a loud and prolonged cry—“Master, master! why has the Almighty used me thus?”

The scene was touching in the extreme. The good merchant was borne senseless from the court, he had fallen on the floor, some said in a fit, but God mercifully preserved him from such a calamity. The judge was exceedingly moved; there were few dry eyes even amongst the spectators; and a deep impression had been made upon the numerous members of the bar. The prisoner—how did he bear it? Unmoved?

Yes, unmoved!

After the lapse of a few minutes, the witness, who had been allowed to retire for that brief interval, re-appeared in the box, and the question was repeated.

“What was that other mark?”

“As far as I can recollect now,” replied Stewart, “it must have been 'Hythe,' and there was a number, which would have been 14. If it was not 'Hythe,' it would be 'Holyrood,' and in that case the number would be 13.”

“Tell the court, if you please, what is the water mark on the paper which you say you used for this deed.”

The document was handed up to the witness, and amidst the deepest silence, during which the deep-drawn breathing of the spectators could be heard, the witness replied: “The water mark is 'H. Hythe;' the number 14.”

“Now, did the prisoner say anything when you gave him the deed?”

The question was objected to, and so another was put, which meant the same thing—

“What took place when you gave the prisoner the deed which you say you copied by his request?”

“He expressed his thanks at first, and appeared to be very glad that I had been so prompt in making the copy.”

“You say he expressed his thanks. Did he make any remark about the paper?”

“Not at first, but, holding it up to the light, he exclaimed, 'Why, 'tis Hartlop's paper! That will never do.'”

“Did he express any reason why it would not do?” was the next question which counsel put to the witness. This was objected to by the counsel for the defence, but the objection was overruled. The witness replied:

“No; but I thought he appeared to be confused.”

“Why was not another copy made?” counsel asked.

To this the witness replied, “I refused to have anything more to do with it.”

“Did you see this deed after that day?” asked the learned counsel.

“Yes, about ten days afterwards.”

“What was its condition then? Had it been executed?”

“You mean, was it signed?” said the witness.

“Yes, that is the question.”

“It was signed and witnessed,” was the reply.

“Did you know anything about the signatures—how they were obtained?” Question objected to; objection allowed.

“Did you know that Mr. Argyle was in Southampton?”

“I did not see him,” replied Stewart.

“Did prisoner tell you that he had been there?”

“He did.”

“And that he had signed the deed of gift?”

“Yes, that he had signed that deed.”

“Who is the witness—Richard Rouse?”

“I do not know.”

A lengthened cross-examination ensued, in which the trial and conviction of the witness was unfolded to the world of curiosity in Blythwick. The judge frequently interfered, but in some way or other the whole history was re-told, with a little deeper hue of dark shade than was attached to it in its original form. It had this effect—it neutralised the feeling of sympathy which had been felt towards the witness by some of the spectators, but it deceived neither the judge nor the bar. The deed of gift was a bungle from beginning to end; it contained half a dozen flaws, any one of which would have proved sufficient in a court of law to have set it aside; but the utterance of it constituted an offence which was a deliberate attempt to defraud, and hence the prosecution was instituted. At the commencement of this prosecution, no one had the slightest idea of what the antecedents of the prisoner had been.

David Argyle was the next witness. The exanimation of this witness occupied more than two hours. It revealed nothing that was not already known. There was one question, however, which was extremely important; it was as follows: “Did your father visit Southampton in the latter part of his life?”

“To my knowledge,” replied the witness, “he never was in that town; certainly not since I can remember.”

“Should you have known it had he left home for any such purpose?”

“I knew all my late father's movements,” was the reply. “He never left his home, except for the purpose of going to market, for more than five years before he died.”

The old servant who had been an inmate of the household at Argyle Farm was also examined, and deposed to the same effect.

Then there were a host of witnesses who were called to give their opinion about the signatures to the deed. Of course there was the usual uncertainty; but the evidence of the son, the family solicitor, the bank authorities, and of two experts was conclusive. The signature of David Argyle was a bungle; that of Richard Rouse was tolerable. The prosecution adopted this theory—that, as the old farmer would be dead, his wife also gone, and the son by some possible means put out of the way, there would be no difficulty about the realisation of the property which the deed purported to secure to the prisoner. As many others have done before him, he reckoned upon the strength of a rotten tree to support him. The tree, even if it had been three times Septimus Long with all his schemes, was as rotten to the very core as the heart of his willing dupe. The arch schemer, Ahab like, obtained his purpose when the Argyle property was sold; the poor Nabal who had inherited it righteously was sacrificed; but the false witness who dabbled in the mud, partly to serve his own ends, and partly those of his tempting employer, fell into a pit of infamy, which he well deserved. Meanwhile the hands of the world's clock went on; the day of Mr. Septimus Long was not completed yet.

The case for the prosecution closed with the evidence about the signatures. There was no defence by evidence; an appeal artfully constructed, was made to the feelings of the jury; but it never mingled for an instant with the well-digested indignation which the conclave of twelve felt toward the prisoner. There was also a theory that no one had been called to prove that David Argyle, senior, had not really signed the deed; might it not have been sent to him, and, after being signed, duly returned to the prisoner? The hand writing, after all that had been said about it, really might have been that of the old man, whose age would warrant any one in believing that he could not write very steadily.

“Guilty.”

There was an awful silence as the judge delivered sentence.

“Oh! surely not for life, my lord?”

“Yes, for life! And recollect that many a man has stood on the scaffold for a much smaller offence. It does not form a part of my duty now to add to the words which I have already addressed to you. Your disgrace and the misery in prospect before you, you must assuredly feel. As you have felt an evident surprise that the sentence which has been passed upon you is the most severe which the law allows, let me say I cannot help fearing that truth has been sadly sacrificed by you at the expense of precious liberty, of which you have deprived others besides yourself. It is exceedingly wonderful, but yet it is not strange, that an allwise Providence sometimes endows us, for special purposes, with a discrimination which appears, at a subsequent period of our lives, very little less than supernatural. Had not your former employer providentially met the solicitor to the prosecution as he did, it is probable that the principal evidence against you would have been wanting. Mr. Boodle, I learn, had no particular business in London, but still he journeyed thither. I leave it to your discernment to discover in this incident a proof that you were not plotting in secret, without the knowledge of Wisdom greater than our own. It has been my painful lot to be mixed up in the three cases in which you have taken so prominent a part. So far as you are concerned, the world has seen the last of your crimes. It will be useless to protest against the sentence which has been passed upon you. If you wish for mercy from above, whence alone it can reach you now, show mercy to others by an ample confession of all your crimes.”

“My lord,” replied the culprit, “I will take my fate; but let me say this: If ever those two cross my path, let them look out!”

Chapter VI.—AFTER THE TRIAL.

Judd, as a clerk, had given the reins to his selfish pleasures, and, as a natural consequence, envy, because of the greater success and prosperity which accompanied Stewart's uniform good conduct, fixed itself as a lodger in his heart, and he could not expel it. As a plotter against others, he repeated in his history the lesson which has so often been preached and taught—once get into the turbid current of iniquitous practices, and no power short of Omnipotence can snatch from it. But it was as a felon that the full venom which was inherent in his nature shot forth as from a serpent's tooth, to poison everything with which he came into contact. He was conducted back to prison, and, heavily ironed, was put into a strong cell. The first fourteen days of his incarceration were passed, in accordance with the sentence, in solitary confinement, the effect of which upon this hard man was chiefly of a physical character; the mental was untouched. The transition from the hypocrite to the unmasking was with him a period in which he had bolted on to his nature a desire for merciless revenge. “Henceforth,” said he to himself, “it shall be war to the knife between me and all the accursed race of man.”

It was on the tenth day after his conviction that the governor of the prison, together with the chaplain, entered his cell. They found him in a perfect frenzy of passion. The Rev. Mr. Carlisle, a most excellent clergyman, a kind friend to the prisoners, and a zealous and conscientious chaplain, approached the convict first, and spoke kindly to him. He was sitting on a fixed bench close to the wall of his cell, his head bowed down, his hands clasped convulsively together, and his whole frame quivering under the influence of excessive emotion. He looked up as the two officials entered the cell, but it was only for an instant. But he had trained himself to act well. From the most intense agony of spirit, which it was very painful to witness, he passed, at an interval of a few seconds, into an atmosphere of the utmost nonchalance, and began to whistle a popular air.

“Come, my man,” said the governor, “please to remember that you are not alone. Be respectful and orderly.”

“I will, sir,” replied the convict. “I will listen while you put your regulation questions to me. You are come to convert me. Oh! I quite understand your plans. But, let me tell you, I will answer none of your questions. Does the law compel me to do it, eh! governor?”

“The law does not,” quietly replied Mr. Carlisle; “but society, of which you are now deprived—”

“Yes, for life! Better hang me outright!” replied the wretched man, interrupting the chaplain, and speaking very loud. “Do you think I care a jot what becomes of me now? He, he! Yes, that thing who sat on the bench—he who said, 'For life, prisoner!'—he told me it was no use to hope for anything else. What, then, have I to look forward to? No, you may torture me, but I won't repent, you may tease me, but I won't ask for mercy, you may use soft words, but I'll admit nothing.”

The bitterness with which these words were uttered cannot be expressed. If you have seen a tiger when the keeper has been tempting him with his food through the bars of his cage, you may imagine the snarl with which the words were belched out.

The chaplain replied: “I am very sorry, Judd, to find such bitterness of spirit. When the anger of God falls upon us, we should try and humble ourselves in His sight. Such expressions of useless anger as those we have heard must only increase your wretchedness. We all desire to do what is possible to save you.”

“Save me! Save ME, me! You said, did you not? SAVE-ME! Pray cease your mockery, sir. Add not to this ridiculous scene, or to my sentence, by such hypocritical fulsomeness. If you were to come to me, or twenty like you, with—; but I don't know that I would thank you for that, and so I won't say it. I shall be answering your questions if I am not careful.”

“To what do you refer?” said Mr. Carlisle. “If it is anything which relates to—”

“I tell you it is no good to expect anything from me.”

“Well, well,” replied Mr. Carlisle, “I hope to find you more disposed to listen to me when I visit you again. Think as you will, Judd, I assure you that you have my good will. I heartily wish that I could help you.”

The good clergyman spoke with a faltering voice. No one felt more pity for hopeless misery than he did. He was accustomed to say that life cases always deeply affected him, for hope appeared to forsake the poor wretches who had nothing but misery before them.

Judd was silent for a moment, but evidently touched with the earnest feeling with which the good man spoke, he replied, “Sir, I dare say you may feel for me; I was wrong in thinking otherwise, but I am very bitter just now. Ah! you know not how hard I feel. I know I have been wicked but to be cut off from all hope, all!—this is more than I deserve. For life the judge said.”

A tear stood in the wretched man's eye as he spoke, but it was quickly brushed away, as if he was ashamed of it. He arose and stood before the two officials, steadfastly looking into their countenances as if to read their thoughts.

The governor now spoke: “The judge, my man, did not make the law, and there was no recommendation to mercy. If you were to—”

“Confess. Ah! I knew all along what was coming,” said the convict. “This is what you do with all your wretched victims. You take good care that a poor bailed beast has no chance of escape, and then you set your dogs on to get him into the confessional. I don't confess; I will not admit anything. You have my answer. If you will have your pound of flesh, prisoner though I am, I can prevent you from drawing from me one drop of blood. Do let me alone; I have had worry enough for once.”

“Worry!” replied the governor, “that is a strange thing for a criminal to talk about. You have made your own bed, and upon it you must lie; and depend upon it your haughty spirit will find a tamer before long.”

“Mr. Sumner, is it a part of your duty to add to the sentence which has been passed upon me?” said Judd, turning round sharply towards the governor as he spoke.

“No, certainly not,” replied the officer; “nor do I wish to do so, but let me tell you this: it is a part of my duty to see that you behave yourself respectfully and properly, and as long as you are under my charge, I intend to do that duty.”

“Mr. Sumner will excuse me,” said the chaplain, “for interrupting this conversation, and for saying that we had a special object in visiting you to-day. It is best that you should know it and I hope you will see that only obedience and good conduct can now avail you. The judge is anxious that you should, if it lays within your power, do a simple act of justice towards James Stewart and David Argyle. If you know anything which may alter the position of those young men, your own case can be none the worse if you confess it. It may do them a benefit, perhaps yourself also; but at least it will remove from your own soul that which, if you are guilty of injury to them, must be a terrible burden to bear.”

“Sir,” replied Judd, after a brief pause, during which he sat down and kept his eyes fixed upon the floor of the cell; “Sir, I do not admit that I am guilty. Stewart has told a lie, may a blasting curse rest upon him and his cursed religion. Now, don't be angry, I can't help it!”

“Well but, Judd—”

“Now will you please, sir, to hear me,” resumed the convict. “I appeared against him; he retaliated. It is the old tale—tit for tat; and I think he has the best of it. I hated him for his prim exactness. Let him go, as well as I. We may meet, perhaps, where we can settle this affair in our own way.”

“My poor mistaken fellow creature,” replied Mr. Carlisle; “revenge can only add to your guilt, even though it is in thought. It can do you no good whatever. Restitution may serve you.”

“What have I to restore, sir?” replied Judd, with great bitterness.

“That which is better than money,” said Mr. Carlisle, in a deep and solemn manner: “a good name, liberty, character.”

“Sir,” replied Judd, “I shall say nothing more—be assured of this; nothing—nothing—no nothing—in this land of chains and dungeons.”

“Then my blood is clear of you,” said the reverend gentleman. “You are to be removed very soon, and may the good Lord have mercy on your soul, and lead you to repentance.”

“Amen,” said the governor, and so the fruitless interview ended.

Judd was soon removed to another gaol, where he remained until the period of embarkation. Nothing, however, made any impression upon him; he still continued to be the same hardened, desperate villain. Proficient in every evil work, he concocted several daring schemes to escape, and, being punished, he was yet more hardened than ever, so that every official in the prison rejoiced when the day arrived which was to rid them of him.

CHAPTER VII.—RECOGNITION AND ESCAPE.

Stewart and Argyle had been about twelve months in Moreton Bay when the ship arrived by which the convict Judd reached the scene of his future career. The former had been engaged as secretary to Lieutenant Colonel Tomlinson, the commandant of the troops quartered at Brisbane, and so well had he conducted himself that the colonel was already his warm friend. The story of his accusation had been sent by Mr. Hartlop to the commanding officer at Moreton Bay, and this being shown to Lieutenant Colonel Tomlinson, he at once sought permission to engage him in his own service. But hearing from Stewart, in a very artless manner, the particulars of his early life, and bereavements, he promised to be his friend as far as consistent with his duty. One day, after he had been about four months in the colonel's house, filling a very menial position, there was a dinner party, and Stewart officiated as man-servant. His former habits of life and the three years of convict experience were no great qualification for the duties which devolved upon him. Nevertheless he discharged them exceedingly well, and attracted the notice of several gentlemen by his suavity and attention. Some of the guests made inquiry respecting him, and, at a subsequent hour of the evening, Colonel Tomlinson related what he knew. “But,” said he, as the tale was concluded, “you shall hear from his own lips that which I believe to be about as rascally a piece of villainy as a novelist ever unfolded.” Stewart was thereupon summoned, and his master kindly inquired if he would have any objection to tell the guests the particulars of his calamitous accusation, trial, and conviction.

“I have nothing to hide,” replied Stewart, “and that my story should be known I greatly desire; for I have strong hopes that by some means God will yet send me deliverance.” In the relation of the circumstances, which are known to the reader, he demonstrated the warmest affection and gratitude towards his late employer. There was no murmur on account of the prosecution; no appeal for mere sympathy; he told all that was in his heart, and to a greater effect than when his master heard the same tale upon a former occasion, for the next morning Stewart received from the colonel an intimation that in about two months he would promote him to a position which he hoped and believed he would fill honorably and creditably. The promotion duly came, and Stewart, in the capacity of private secretary to the colonel, saw before him a prospect of complete deliverance at some early period. He exerted himself to the utmost to please, and he did please. It was a few days before the ship arrived which conveyed Judd to Moreton Bay, when Lieutenant-Colonel Tomlinson one morning, expressing his satisfaction with Stewart's conduct during the six months that he had been in his new position, inquired whether he could be of further service to him. Stewart, ever unselfish, thought of his friend Argyle rather than of himself, and pleaded the cause of the young farmer so successfully that the colonel promised to help him, if an opportunity occurred.

One bright, clear, but very hot morning, about a week after this conversation, Colonel Tomlinson (as he was always called, so for brevity sake, we will allow the prefix to remain in the shade) entered the office where Stewart was busily engaged copying some important despatches for transmission home, and, holding a letter in his hand, said that a ship had arrived during the previous day with convicts on board.

“It will be the last load of human wretchedness which will enter this port, thank God,” said the colonel, “but I learn that there are some desperate fellows on board; I am going down to the bay, and you will please to get ready to go down also. I shall require the despatch book, and the copy of the new regulation orders. The cutter is to leave the wharf in an hour.”

“Your instructions shall have my best attention, colonel,” replied the secretary.

This was a treat to Stewart which he had not anticipated, the first glimpse of liberty which he had yet had, for he was still under strict orders not to leave the settlement without a pass. In fact, the odious brand and its accompanying restrictions still rested upon him and all his actions.

With a fair wind and an ebbing tide, the little cutter soon reached the bay. Here the Berkley was anchored—the only ship which had entered the port for more than a month previously. How solitary she looked, as she rode upon the vast expanse of water, where a thousand ships could find a safe and commodious haven. Stewart looked upon her with a heart brimful of gratitude. Only twelve months ago he had arrived under similar circumstances—a convict with eleven years of misery before him.

During the settlement of some preliminary matters, and the interchange of the usual compliments and congratulations between the officials, Stewart took a turn round the ship, more for the purpose of passing the time than to look upon scenes which he remembered too well. He had walked from stem to stern, and back again, and was standing near the companion which led to the cabin or saloon, when a loud cry reached his ears. Attracted by it, he again proceeded towards the forecastle, and listening for a moment, he heard a low moaning, as if some one was in pain. Still peering into the many nooks and corners which abound in a ship, he saw a man lying in a berth which was enclosed with iron bars and a very strong iron-plated door. A strange infatuation prompted him to a closer investigation, and he went near enough to look through the grating. This was contrary to orders, as he soon found, by a challenge from the sentinel; but he had seen more than he wished. A wretched man lay in the bunk, fettered, and in a strait waistcoat. It was thus that Stewart and Judd met in Moreton Bay, the latter a most violent maniac. No less than seven weeks of the voyage had been spent by the wretched man in as many separate sentences of solitary confinement, the last of the seven being preceded with a severe flogging. Fever had ensued, during which reason tottered and finally fell with a crash, which levelled the brutal man to the ferocity of a beast, and rendered an iron-bound cage an absolute necessity.

Most painful were the reflections of the young man as he turned away from the place. His arch enemy was there; they might—yes they would surely meet again on this far-off shore. What would be the result? “Ah, well, God hath not done so much for me to destroy me now. Who knows—”

The sentence was not completed, for at this moment he was summoned to the saloon.

Here he found a numerous company seated around the tables, which were covered with papers at one end, and decanters, glasses, wine, and an abundance of fruit at the other. Stewart was addressed by the commander of the ship, who told him that he had been summoned to hear that which he hoped would be to his advantage. He then called upon the surgeon to make the statement to which the company had previously listened.

“Well, sir,” replied the surgeon, “as I have already told you, the man was as mad as a March hare, and very violent. I was standing by his berth one day when he cried out, 'He did not do it.'”

“Sometimes people in this state will reply very correctly if you speak quietly to them, and so I said, 'Who did not do it?'”

“'Stewart,' he replied, 'I paid the cheque away; no, not paid—got it cashed.'”

“Here he stopped and lay perfectly still for some minutes, during which time, Captain, you recollect you passed by and I beckoned to you. You heard for yourself what he said next.”

“Are you speaking of a man who is on board, sir, may I ask?” said Stewart, addressing the surgeon. “As I was walking over the ship, I saw a poor creature whom I once knew—”

“What is his name?” inquired the captain.

“When I knew him,” replied Stewart, “he was called Julet; he changed this name to Judd. I do not know which is correct.”

“Well, this is important,” said the captain. “But to finish the matter, gentlemen,” continued the surgeon. “After the lapse of a few minutes the man again broke out into the strongest invectives I ever heard; but the statements which he made were very extraordinary. We did not know then to whom they referred; but perhaps you can supply the information, Mr. Stewart. The wretched man at intervals broke out into loud cries, and then followed detached words and sentences, which have been put together, and I now read them to you by the captain's desire:

“'Twas James Stewart, I say he was innocent.'”

“'Argyle was a jolly fellow, after all.'”

“'How could I help doing it? 'Twas that or tearing up the deed.'”

“'Blood! blood! Go to bed, wife; 'tis nothing. See, I wash;—'tis gone.'”

“'No, no; 'tis come again! I had a mind to take the whip, but—'”

“He said no more, but opened his eyes, and, looking intently at me, screamed out, 'You are Argyle's father; I know you are;' and became so violent that we were obliged to leave him.”

The surgeon ceased, and the commandant, turning to Stewart, said, “I am very glad on your account, young man, that my first opinion about you promises better things than even I expected. I thought at the time it was a doubtful experiment, but you have behaved well, my man. All we can do is to mention your case in the next despatches, which will leave in about a week, and I am happy to inform you also that the young follow, Argyle, will be mentioned favorably. In the meantime, he will be sent to Limestone. His position there will be greatly improved.”

“May it please your honor,” replied Stewart, “God Almighty is just and merciful. I thank you from my heart. This expression of good will to me and my friend compensates for much of the ignominy through which it has been our unhappy lot to pass. I thank you, gentlemen, again—all of you.”

“Bravo, bravo!” shouted Colonel Tomlinson, “well said. Captain Fitzsimmons, may I be so bold as to beg that the young follow may have a glass of wine.”

“By all means, Colonel, by all means; and now, gentlemen, I think our business is done. When shall we commence to discharge?”

With these arrangements our tale has nothing to do, if we except one out of the 320 convicts which were destined to work out their sentence in the colony. This man was to be sent ashore on the morrow, in the ship's whale boat.

The day dawned with a heavy fog. It was also intensely hot. As the sun arose the fog lifted to reveal a mass of ominous looking clouds hanging like a pall over the land, and entirely obscuring the hills. About 10 o'clock the boat was ready to start. Judd was carried on board, he was too weak to walk, and sail being hoisted; the boat's head was turned towards the Brisbane River, the pilot of the port being the steersman. There was not much wind, however, and at the mouth of the river the men had to take to the oars. It would be quite proper to describe every point and headland, even every mangrove tree, amongst the many millions which so curiously choose to flourish where any other respectable tree would be sure to decline even the shadow of an acquaintance, but the pen is not in a humor to descant upon swampy geography, mud islands, and stunted, storm beaten trees. The mouth of this Brisbane is not pretty, no, not at all.

Distant thunder soon began to peal forth, and by the time the boat reached Eagle Farm, a storm threatened to close around them. The men plied their oars, exerting their utmost strength, but as Breakfast Creek was reached down came the tempest with tremendous hail and rain; and fierce flashed the lightning, and incessant were the awful peals of thunder, and hurricane-like roared the wind; heaven seemed to be bombarding earth. It was an awful tempest.

“Pull in boys'“ shouted the officer, “we can't stand this. There, back her just round that corner.”

It was done, and not a minute too soon. Several of the men were severely wounded, and the convict Judd, had several ghastly wounds from the sharp flattened masses of ice which, though very beautiful, were dangerous to encounter. Into the scrub on the bank of the creek they all crept, carrying with them the now senseless body of the convict. To all appearance he was dying or dead; they moistened his mouth with brandy, poured some down his throat, put some of the hailstones on his forehead, chafed his hands, but all seemed of no avail. There was a pulse, but no other sign of animation.

“Hang the fellow,” said the officer, “he was always a plague. If he goes off the hook now, it will save a precious lot of trouble up along. Do these storms generally last long, Mr. Jones?”

“Not one like this,” answered the pilot, “and I think we are nearing the bottom of this buster. It is a tolerable good specimen of a colonial storm, but I have seen heavier.”

“God save us from many like this,” said one of the men. “It looks very like a choker for my hearty, there.”

“Good luck to the rascal, I say,” said another, “he deserves all he'll get, I reckon.”

“I should have liked, anyhow, to have got him ashore,” said the officer. “But leave the fellow, my men, and get the boat bailed out. Then come up and fetch him. If possible, we will get him up to the barrack, dead or alive.”

The sailors at once obeyed the orders of the lieutenant, and were hard at work clearing the boat from the large quantity of water and ice which had fallen into it. But before they had half performed their task a loud and terrific yell, as if a thousand demons had suddenly risen from the ground, reached their ears, there was the report of a pistol, then another, and this was followed by a third. But at this moment a shower of spears fell round about the boat, and Lieutenant Harbone, with one sticking into his coat sleeve and minus his gold laced cap, rushed down the hill, followed by the pilot, who had come out of the contest without any loss; for a contest it was most unmistakably, and with fearful odds, two white men to a hundred great blackfellows armed with nulla nullas, boomerangs, clubs, and spears, and commanded by a perfect Amazon.

“Pull like the devil, boys, if you value your lives,” shouted Lieutenant Harbone, as he jumped into the boat.

The sailors did not want a second command, but with a few strokes they sent the boat ahead until mid-river was reached; here, by command, they rested on their oars.

“That was a warm brush, Mr. Jones,” said Lieutenant Harbone.

“Middling, middling! If we had only had another or two with us we would have made the whole lot of varmints cut their lucky. Pity 'twas,” continued the pilot, “I left my bawbies at home; they should have danced a jig or two, I know.”

Of course the sailors wanted to know all about the action as they called it, but Pilot Jones only laughed at them: “Action, my boys, we call such things only a lark here.”

“Rather a sharp lark, master,” said one of the men pointing to the spear which Lieutenant Harbone had drawn out of his coat. Fortunately it had not wounded him.

“Oh! as to them things,” replied the pilot, “the darkies seldom come near enough for them to do any harm. Hang the varmints, they have caught me napping for once, but as I was looking down at the rascal yonder, they rose up all around like mushrooms. Hang me, if I don't think that they knew I had not got my bawbies. They have had a touch of them before.”

“If it please your honor, we should like to have a slap at the fellows if you don't object.”

“We can't go, sir, without looking for the rest of the cargo,” said the pilot. “I should say, let us do as the men propose. I warrant if they should not have bolted we will have some fun.”

“With all my heart, pilot,” replied the officer. “Pull in, boys. Get your cutlasses and pistols ready; on ye go. Pull into this more open place, these black devils won't show out there, I think.”

So, armed to the teeth, the lieutenant, the pilot, and six of the sailors jumped on shore, the other two pulling the boat a few yards from shore, with orders to pull in again the moment they were hailed.

The contemplated action, however, never was fought; when they reached the place where they had left the body of Henry Judd it had vanished, and with it all traces of the blacks. They had gathered up all their implements of warfare and the dead and dying, which Lieutenant Harbone felt confident he had left behind, although, be it known, that so sudden was the onset, and so unlike the enemy to any that that gentleman had ever conceived in his brain, that his courage upon this occasion was little better than an illustration of the proverb:

He that fights and runs away; Will live to fight another day.

So Henry Judd landed, his penal servitude for life ending much sooner than even he, or any of his numerous censors, had deemed possible. The boat went on to Brisbane to report the circumstances, and soldiers were sent out at once in search of the blacks, who were known to be in the neighborhood of Breakfast Creek, but although the search lasted several days, no Henry Judd could be discovered.

CHAPTER VIII.—MOGARA AND HER TRIBE.

We must retrace our steps a little to visit a blackfellows' camp of the olden time. There may have been Roman noses, and lovely eyes, charming lips, nicely turned arms, and superb swan-like necks, in the camp of natives to which Mogara, a half-caste woman, belonged, but if there were such pleasing excellencies, they were most likely hidden under some striking peculiarity of dress, paint, or other ornament. About this everlasting subject dress, how inexhaustible are the terms which one must learn before an attempt is made to launch forth on this ever restless sea. A new name is coined, it is heard everywhere from the cottage to the palace. Take it into the study and attempt to solve its derivation, and this is just as possible as it would be to publish to the world the true history of the sphinx. Fustian and cloth no doubt were fashionable fifty years ago, as a suitable material to make coats and breeches for a very huge portion of Britain's subjects, but if the Court milliner could be clever enough to describe the dress of some of the natives of Australia, he or she (which is right?) would hardly be bold enough to recommend it as suitable costume for fashionable life. Certainly it is frequently the most primitive of all clothing, and, if report is true, and there is every reason to believe that it is, two of the oldest and best known of all the people that have ever lived in this world, were clad in this costume before any such thing as sin entered into their thoughts.

Eagle Hawk, as he is sitting on his throne, which is a glass sward, with a huge gum tree against which to rest his back, would say that he has always found this primitive dress the cheapest, the most comfortable, and the easiest to wash and get up, of any that was ever invented. The old man, nevertheless, had an eye to fine clothes once, and was tempted to covet them quite as strongly as Eve was tempted to take the forbidden treasure. He had picked up a convict's dress, which had been discarded for a most indefinite period by one of His Majesty's most humble servants, who, singularly enough, had a remarkable preference for liberty versus servitude. As the dress would have been extremely inconvenient in the new sphere of action which this gentleman had chosen for himself, even without consulting those who might possibly have urged some objections to his departure from certain food and lodging, he generously left it on the side of the road which led to the opposite direction to that which he intended to take. Old Eagle Hawk had found it, and was exceedingly pleased with his prize. It is true he perspired rather freely under the influence of such an extraordinary addition to his usual wardrobe; but, as use is said to be second nature, so the old man continued to sport his new costume for some months. One day, in an abstract mood of admiration of the red coats at the convict camp, he drew near enough to them to be seen. The alarm bell was rung, and he was pursued. His swift legs and better knowledge of the country saved him from capture; but when he reached the camp, he vented his rage on the offending dress by stuffing it full of dry grass, and, after sundry remarkable military exercises with spear and shield, supposed to be a peculiar and extremely original sort of tournament between himself and the stuffed convict, he finally set it on fire, and danced a wild orgie until it was consumed. Eagle Hawk never wore any dress after that day.

But while we have been describing his adventure, the old man has arisen from his primitive throne. If it is possible to look two ways at once, he must have been doing so; for one might have taken an affidavit that he was intently watching something straight before him, whereas, in fact, he was keenly and closely calculating how soon the boat which was conveying Judd up the river would reach the point of the creek near to which the camp was pitched. At length he spoke: “Ballu! Boat-no get up; storm, thunder, rain!” These words were spoken in the native tongue, but instantly the camp was on the qui vive. A dozen blackfellows, very ugly, but far more powerful men than those which walk about the streets of Australian towns at the present day, answered the old man's summons. White people had not educated them to be drunkards then—at least, this remark applies to the Moreton Bay district—very rarely indeed could they obtain “the fire drink.” Their hand was also against the white man. They would have exterminated all the race if they had had the power. The language of these people is very musical, but exceedingly vague and unintelligible. If an illustration of the musical is required, it may be found in the highly romantic names of the Australian districts. The ring of those words upon the tongue is the essential accompaniment of musical sounds. True, it is all very rough, severely savage, but there is method in the asperity of the dialect, as well as in the originality of their habits. Vices of course abound—hellish vices—which have cruelty for their author, and the supreme court of hell alone as their defender. But what has the white man done to try to teach them better things? We found the black man on the soil; we did not buy the land—no, not even nominally, with justice to him; we forced him back—now a little, then a little more—until to-day the poor wretched creatures are most deplorable outcasts. Hundreds of men must go down to the grave, and to the bar of inflexible justice, with the red blood of many of these poor creatures on their heads. There are men in the colonies who say calmly that there is no remedy but shooting the wretches down, as you would a kangaroo or a dingo. We glory in our freedom; but, knowing what will be the result, we deliberately drive these aborigines into destruction, and rejoice over the undoubted fact that they are dying out of the land. It is a dark picture—a terrible crime—a dreadful page to read in the book of retribution; and yet, what have ministers of the Gospel or Christian professors done to stem the torrent of this iniquity? There has been no Elijah to face this hideous Baal. “Thou hast killed and taken possession!” is the charge, and the only answer we make is, “It is expedient.”

Many of the tribe to which Eagle Hawk belonged had been cruelly massacred by British troops, without the slightest provocation. That the blacks retaliated is only the natural sequel.

Hence it was all alike to them; stranger or no stranger, a white skin was the target for their mark. In the desire for revenge, they were constantly stimulated by the extraordinary influence of their absolute queen, Mogara. She was a remarkably fine specimen of female symmetry and savage beauty, her mother being as tall as herself, and her father—an officer in the British army—a man as tall as a life guardsman, and of gigantic strength. It is not necessary now to allude further to the cruel deception of which he was guilty, or to the wrongs of the mother, which the daughter tried her utmost to revenge.

Two years after the death of her mother, the tribe to which Mogara and Eagle Hawk belonged migrated northward, and settled in the Moreton Bay district. A long-standing quarrel was the primary cause of this exodus from the Hunter River district, to which they had gone about five years previously. The particulars of these quarrels it is extremely difficult to ascertain. But the day of battle was fixed, and both sides used the interval in the most formidable preparations. Boomerangs, currywong wattles, and spears were manufactured by the hundred; tomahawks, shields, and clubs were collected together; and, when nearly three hundred were thus equipped, externally the respective armies appeared invincible. Upon the day when the struggle was to take place, both tribes marched up in single file to the appointed place, which was an open sandy flat upon the borders of the river, near what is now known as “Umpie Bong.” Here they sat down at a distance of about forty yards between the two lines. For some minutes not a word was spoken on either side, but at last one of the men of the Mogara tribe (the term is not correct, but it will serve as a distinction) arose, and after a very rapidly delivered address, he pointed to Eagle Hawk, who then rose, and stated the cause of the dispute, ending his speech with a flourish of his boomerang, which he threw from him with great violence, but with the usual skill of the natives, so that it performed its circle of flight, and returning, fell close to the warrior's feet. He then challenged to single combat the man whom he accused as the offender in the dispute. The speech was delivered in a most vehement manner, and with the frequent use of the word yambel, by which he intended to charge the whole tribe with lying and meanness.

As he concluded, the whole of the men on both sides arose, and shouted with indescribable vehemence, which was their method of expressing their assent to the trial by single combat, as Eagle Hawk had proposed. Then a tall, muscular blackfellow on the opposite side stepped out of the ranks of his country men, and walked half way across the space which divided the hostile armies, Eagle Hawk in like manner advancing to meet him, and all the warriors again sat down to witness the struggle.

Both the combatants were fully armed, and were renowned as experienced warriors. As spectators of the fight there were nearly 600 men, besides women and children. Boomerangs were the first weapons, for the order of battle was previously arranged. These simple, but effective implements of native warfare were delivered with sure but terrible effect. Eagle Hawk was struck, and his left shoulder was laid open, his opponent's cheek was struck, a ghastly wound being the result. The cries of the spectators hereupon became exceeding loud, but not one moved from his place. Blood had been drawn, and they knew that the fight must soon come to an issue. The spear was the next weapon; retiring back from each other, until a convenient distance was reached, both the combatants threw at the same moment. The blood which flowed from the cheek of Eagle Hawk's opponent nearly blinded him, so that his aim was not so sure as it otherwise would have been. Not so the aim of Eagle Hawk; his spear entered the left side of his opponent, he gave one leap off the ground, and fell down dead.

Instantly there was a rush to the centre, both sides joining in an indiscriminate struggle. How long it would have lasted, or how it would have ended, no one could have told, but in less than a minute from the death of Eagle Hawk's opponent, fifty muskets were levelled at the savage group, and most of them had marked a victim. With a cry of horror the rest fled, one only, besides the dead and the wounded, was left behind. Concealed behind a rock about a quarter of a mile away, Mogara saw the massacre, and as her tribe fled, calmly, but with the visage of a tigress, she stood her ground. In a few minutes the military detachment issued from the scrub from which they had dealt out their deadly fire, and slowly defiled upon the field of battle. Here a horrid sight presented itself. Nearly fifty of the poor wretches had received gunshot wounds, several were dead, and as many were mortally wounded.

“A useful lesson, Brown,” said the officer who commanded the soldiers. “We had to do this several times down South before these black devils would leave the settlement.”

Sir Englishman, how many innocent white men and women have been murdered because of your cruel work? Mogara, perhaps, with her keen, arrow-like, speaking eyes, watching your retreat, could tell. History cannot.

CHAPTER IX.—TEN YEARS AFTER.

Convict life at Moreton Bay is not a pleasant subject. Let it rest in the grave where so many poor wretches found deliverance, at least from the cruelty of men, the mercy of some of whom had its only voice in the lash. It was a hell, and if Dante had seen it he would have probably given it a place amongst the torture chambers of the lost. Probably this is the history of such establishments generally, and no doubt there is much to be said in extenuation when the desperate character of convicts is considered. Ten years from the day when Judd so mysteriously disappeared had wrought wondrous changes in the history of the settlement. The convict establishment was entirely broken up, and the convicts were removed, the march of civilisation began in the establishment of trade, commerce, steamboat navigation, the first newspaper, and representative government. Brisbane also enlarged its border, and strengthened its importance, and last, though not least, the Artimesia arrived with a load of free immigrants, and the Fortitude supplemented this welcome batch of honest citizens shortly after.

James Stewart, Esq., is a squatter, and David Argyle, Esq., is his partner. Their address is Leyton Station. It ought to have been Argyle and Stewart, for the bulk of the capital which was employed in the partnership had been put in by the former, but he would not have it so. To Stewart he owed his liberty much sooner than he would have obtained it, and not a word would he hear of any inequality between their positions. So well had Mr. Boodle managed the Argyle estate that a sum of five thousand pounds was realised by the sale of the farm, and this, with nearly L20,000 of actual cash in hand, formed a noble capital with which to begin the world again. Both the young men decided not to return home, and Mr. Hartlop had assisted Stewart with a loan of money without interest, when he heard of his determination to settle in Australia.

The great disparity between this sum, however, and that which Argyle had received, Stewart was determined to meet as far as possible by acting as manager to the station without any participation in the profits, at least for a time. To this Argyle consented after much discussion The partnership was therefore arranged upon the following terms: Stewart put in one thousand pounds, Argyle ten thousand. The former to share in the profits at the expiration of three years. The firm to be Stewart and Argyle. But so well had the young men prospered that at the expiration of three years Stewart was, in equity, entitled to receive a thousand pounds. This money Argyle insisted he must receive, and he agreed to do so. His position then was one of equality with his partner, and for years the partnership existed on the most satisfactory understanding, and variable, but on the whole, substantial profit.

Both of them soon received that which was tantamount to a release, for though in the absence of Judd no further evidence could be obtained about their innocence, yet so well had Colonel Tomlinson interceded on their behalf that a few months after the mysterious disappearance or death of Judd they received from the Commandant free passes to go where they liked provided they did not leave the colony. This privilege was supplemented, at the expiration of twelve months, with a free pardon, or remission of the remainder of their sentence. In the interim, the arrangements already mentioned were made, and thus the two young men, whose fortunes were most mysteriously united under one series of painful events, began life in the colony to which they were banished, as squatters, wool growers, &c.

Their staunch friend, Colonel Tomlinson, invalided, returned to England after the final breaking up of the convict establishment at Moreton Bay. He had served his country with his regiment at the Cape of Good Hope, then at Tasmania, afterwards at Port Jackson, and finally at Moreton Bay, he had therefore seen much rough life, and not a little arduous service. His wife had died shortly before he left England, and thus he was a widower with one little girl. For some time he was undecided what he should do with the child, but through the good offices of a near relative, who was the wife of a clergyman in Suffolk, a home was found for Julia Tomlinson during the period of her infancy and school days, and afterwards with an excellent woman, who was known as a widow living at the same place, which was a small market town which shall be called Newlands.

This widow, whose name was Welland, lived quite as a stranger in the place; no one knew where she came from or what her circumstances were. The clergyman told everyone who made any enquiry that she had lost her husband, and wished to mourn over he bereavement in retirement and seclusion. This, with the majority of the people, was enough, but there were some busybodies who would pry into secrets, as they declared “there must certainly be,” but they obtained nothing for their trouble but disappointment. Like all such unprincipled pryers, then they began to insinuate dark things. The widow took little notice of these hints, and so it came to pass that she lived on from year to year a quiet, blameless life, and after a while even her enemies ceased to trouble her. It happened also that a young lass, a little older than Julia Tomlinson, bearing the name of Alice, came to live with the widow, but no one knew anything about her surname. The clergyman, Mr. Long, one day happened to remark that her name was not Welland, but in the absence of positive information the little maid was christened by the voice of popular opinion Alice Welland, and the widow did not oppose it.

After a lapse of fifteen years, which, though not particularly arduous, so far a military service was concerned, Colonel Tomlinson found the influence of the hot climate of Moreton Bay to be productive of ailings which at first he was inclined to neglect, but which compelled him to look towards home. Letters also demanded a speedy return, and the colonel applied for, and received, permission to resign on half pay, to commence at the date of the medical certificate that he was restored to his usual health, until which period he was to receive full pay.

Accordingly a house was secured at Brighton, to which Julia removed in anticipation of her father's return. This was delayed a full month later than he had expected; the voyage home was attended with great difficulties, and no small danger. Severe gales drove the ship out of its course, and at one time the safety of the vessel was almost despaired of, but, by the good providence of God, at length the anchor was cast out in the splendid Roads of Spithead, and soon after Colonel Tomlinson was ashore. The good old soldier was now materially worse than when he left Australia. The voyage, so far from proving beneficial, had been productive of a serious, and it was feared, a fatal complaint. It was therefore with an emaciated countenance and many signs of great weakness that he reached his home, and met his daughter, after an absence of more than fifteen years. How delighted he was to see in her the living likeness of his much loved, lost wife. How happy the amiable, loving girl was, in the restoration of her dear father to her, may be imagined by those who have long been separated.

Julia Tomlinson was no stranger to her father by correspondence. The first attempt at penmanship reached the colonel on a bed of suffering, for he had been wounded in a skirmish with the Caffres, by a spear which had entered his leg. It was as follows:

'Newlands, June 16 1834.

Dear papa,

Your Ju is very well, hope you are so too. Come home to-morrow. Good-bye.

From your Ju.'

This very unimportant document had more music in it to cheer the sick father than can be expressed. “God bless and preserve the darling!” was his first exclamation, as he read the letter again and again. This was the earnest of a new life as yet in embryo, but still one of intense interest to him. Mail days were not so frequent at that period as they are now, in fact the means of sending letters were very uncertain.

But every ship brought one from Julia to her father.

The reunion of the father with the child was thoroughly blessed to both of them. In her the father found an inestimable treasure; in him the child gained an experience which she had never previously known—she found a father. What can compensate for the absence of the parent?

But convalescence came, and with it the inevitable result of a lengthened residence abroad. England and English life were too strait, too cramped, for the colonel's ideas of freedom. He had property in New South Wales; he thought he should like to end his days in the colony. In this idea he was greatly encouraged by an old friend at Rouen, who is, or was very lately, a squatter on the New South Wales frontier, who, in writing to him, announced his intention of proceeding to that colony to engage in pastoral pursuits. Colonel Tomlinson replied by a personal visit to his friend, Mr. Archer, and before his return home he had resolved again to go out to Australia. Of course the consideration as to what he should do there was not lost sight of, but this was a matter of secondary importance, the question whether Julia would accompany him was uppermost. This was very soon settled, however, by an immediate reply which she sent to her father, who had written from Rouen to tell her what he was contemplating: “Wherever you go, dear father,” said Julia, “I will accompany you. We have been separated long enough.”

So the colonel and his daughter, with Mrs. Welland and her adopted daughter, set sail from London in the month of May, 1851, and landed in Moreton Bay, by way of Sydney, about six months afterwards.

CHAPTER X.—SHADOW AND SUBSTANCE.

Newlands is not a very extensive place, it was, until lately, a retired country village, with a weekly corn-market and some houses of business, of a far more extensive character than are generally found in such a small community. It consisted principally of one street with a few bye-lanes. On a slight eminence on the right hand of the main street is the church, a very ancient and monkish looking building, with an interior as damp and cold as the heart of the would-be genius, who is the self constituted lord over God's heritage. The Lord of the Manor, as he calls himself, owns the church, the souls of the people, and the safety of the universe—so his actions seems to imply—for no one is at liberty to do anything for the welfare of his fellows, until he has the permission of the great man. The race is dying out now, and it is well, for nothing is so productive of the worst evil as the presence of such a rank, empty-headed, conceited bigot in the shape of a patron to a village, as this man. Everything good, except it was in perfect agreement with his antiquated notions was forbidden, under pains and penalties, which meant persecution and ruin. But this is enough about him. One of the great blessings of Australian life, is the liberty by which we are free from such tyranny. The railway has now found an entrance to this village, and the creation of a lecture hall and some places of worship, must produce a corresponding improvement upon the restricted liberties of the people.

Upon a hill at the back of the village, there stands a windmill, and near to this there is a row of four brick cottages, small, but comfortable, in one of which Mrs. Welland lived. Colonel Tomlinson was fully acquainted with her history, by a communication which his relative, the clergyman of the parish, had sent him. In circumstances of great distress of mind, this history had been told, with the understanding that it was to be kept a profound secret as long as she lived at least. Neither Julia Tomlinson nor Alice Welland had the slightest knowledge of the widow's previous life.

One very bright but windy March day she was much surprised, but greatly gratified, by the reception of a letter from Julia, to announce the intention of the colonel to visit Newlands, and she might expect them—“for I am coming also,” she wrote—to call on her very soon after she received this note. Accordingly, on the afternoon of the same day, Alice, who had been on the lookout, shouted out the welcome news, “I see them, mother, they are coming up the hill.” Of course the fetters of restriction and etiquette were immediately slipped off and on the wings of very faithful affection, down the hill to meet her friend, there glided, not an angel without a fault or a sin, but a true country lass. Can you blame her that she could not restrain her ardent affection for a few minutes longer, until the colonel and Miss Julia were duly installed in the small parlor at the homely cottage? I cannot. Good old David, throwing off all restraint, would have rushed across the Plain of Mahanaim, if he could have seen his cruel son Absolom coming to meet him, and would have thrown himself on the young man's neck in an ecstacy of joy. Let us have etiquette by all means, but let us be natural in giving it its only proper utterance. Joseph in Egypt could not eat with his brethren, etiquette forbade it; but methinks he had a hard struggle to restrain himself from rushing from his exalted throne, to throw himself, in the purest love and affection, upon the neck of his brother Benjamin. Etiquette means pride when life is stripped of its freedom of action. Educate to as high a standard as you will, but then let the action be natural, and there will not be much that is wrong.

It was with no expression of surprise that Mrs. Welland listened to the proposal which Colonel Tomlinson made to her, that she should accompany them to the far off land. At first she demurred.

“What is there so very precious which can present any inducement to keep you in this country?” said Colonel Tomlinson.

“Nothing my good, kind friend,” replied the widow, “but still I hesitate to decide at once upon so weighty a matter.”

“Pardon me, my good Kate, for I must still call you so,” said the colonel, “pardon me in saying that you will be always near us, and indeed we can never forget you. We shall try to make you far happier than you have been.”

“You said, sir,” replied the widow, apparently without noticing the words of the colonel, “that I had nothing to keep me in this country. This is quite true, but you know that Alice is entirely dependant on me.”

“Of course I do,” quickly answered Colonel Tomlinson, “but I never supposed you would leave her behind. You will be our housekeeper again, as you were during my illness, and Alice, until she is married, as she will be, no doubt—”

“Ah! there it is, colonel,” said Mrs. Welland, interrupting him, “I see in this the greatest difficulty. If she was to marry like some, and have a life of sorrow as the result, it would add much to mine.”

“Nonsense, nonsense, Kate, she will not marry like—, never fear,” resumed the colonel, holding up his hand as if to prevent the widow from speaking; “never fear that I shall allude to the subject, but let me say that your sorrows are of a mature age now. You should try to live them down. Your troubles, Kate, are not younger than mine.”

“Colonel Tomlinson,” said the widow, “I can confide in you, I am sure of that, but Alice knows nothing of the past. Now if by some mischance she should stumble upon an ugly fact or two, would not she feel that the innocence of her life was departed?”

“I can understand you,” replied the colonel, “but were we all to shut ourselves up lest some supposed secret should suddenly start up before us in the shape of an expounded riddle, convents and nunneries would have to be provided for the greater mass of the people. There are dark spots in many lives, yes, perhaps in all. There is truly a skeleton in every house.”

“You are right, colonel; yes, I see it is so. Pardon me if I felt timid, and perhaps unbelieving. I have found it to be very hard to believe sometimes.”

“Very likely, very likely, indeed,” said the colonel. “I can understand it, but there is one additional reason yet why I would urge this proposal. Your present mode of living is a paradox, which does you more harm than the open truth, even if the whole of the past was blazed forth to every idle inquisitor.”

It was at this juncture that Miss Julia and Alice re-entered the room. The word “inquisitor,” the quick ear of the colonel's daughter caught in an instant, and without giving Mrs. Welland an opportunity to reply she took it up. “Inquisitor, dear papa, who is inquisitor here but me? Just the very word, dear Alice, to express my most unwarrantable impudence,” bowing as she spoke. “Do you know, my dear old darling of a nurse,” she continued, addressing Mrs. Welland, “that I have drawn out all the secrets of this girl without so much as unfolding one of mine, and I call that an immensely clever thing for a woman to do. What say you, papa?”

“Really, not knowing, I cannot say, Julia.”

“Which is as much as a confession that you could not excel your silly goose of a girl. Now, when you call us chatterboxes again, sir, please to remember this instance of exceeding wisdom.”

“Self-praise, Jule, self-praise, my girl,” replied the colonel, yet heartily laughing at his daughter's merry countenance. “Now, if you want the truth, I do not think you have done exact justice to Miss Alice.”

“Ah! but, papa,” replied Julia, “I have not told you all yet. I mean—now listen, sir,—to keep them. I do, yes indeed, I mean to keep these secrets—”

“Till you reveal them,” said Colonel Tomlinson. “I do not doubt your word. But come, now, let me give you a lecture about shadows.”

“Shadows, papa, I do not think I like the title at all. That about soberness in young girls now, was really good. Oh! how many tears I did shed over that lecture.”

“I dare say you did, you saucy puss,” replied her father, “I saw you shaking all the time I was speaking.”

“With soberness, of course, you dear old goosey; now tell me, colonel, what soberness—not sobriety you know—but what soberness in a young girl is. Come, Alice, papa will repeat his extraordinary telling lecture which has been delivered to most attentive audiences, and is pronounced to be, without exception, the most—”

“Extraordinary creature that ever lived,” said her father. “Now, miss, pray sit down and hear what I have to say.”

“About soberness, papa?” inquired Julia, with a merry twinkle in her eye.

“Yes, my dear, a very sober subject indeed. I have been asking Mrs. Welland to go to Australia with us.”

“And she has consented, dear papa. I see; that is the substance to your shadow. I do declare, old nursey, he has kept this a profound secret from me.”

It is extremely probable that the high-spirited girl would have found queries enough to have prolonged this conversation for some hours. It is possible that she would have settled some of the most important of matters, with the smallest discussion; but the clergyman came in, and in his presence, Miss Julia became a listener instead of a talker. The conversation which ensued was purely of a business character, and the issue of it was an arrangement of a very substantial nature, even more favorable to all the parties concerned than the proposition which the colonel intended to make. It was the shadow of coming events to the widow's mind. The substance was as yet hovering above her, invisible to all but Omniscience.

Newlands was startled—at least a considerable number of its twelve hundred inhabitants were—by the appearance of a handbill a week after the visit of Colonel Tomlinson to the widow, announcing that all the household furniture and effects of Mrs. Welland would be sold by auction, on the next market day, without any reserve, which means, except that which may be in the auctioneer's note-book.

CHAPTER XI.—OLD HERMIT.

Moreton Bay, as it was then, the colony of Queensland now, is the scene of our tale. It is not necessary to describe the country geographically. Such facts are well known to the most superficial scholar. That Brisbane is the metropolis, distant from the town of Toowoomba about 98 miles, the greater part of which is over an undulating country, terminating in a range of mountainous hills, which lead to a vast extent of table-land, stretching away to a great distance, and that the ascent up these mountains is called, in technical language, “going up the range,” is all that need be said here.

This ascent may be accomplished by the railway, or by the rougher and slower process of climbing up an extremely steep, and uncomfortable sort of road, called the mail coach route, but more properly entitled to be dubbed, the break-neck route. The scenery is superb; some say it is the finest in Queensland. Perhaps it is of the kind, but all the coast of the northern portion of the colony is very fine also, and can lay a strong claim to be regarded as exquisite, romantic, and grand. The railway, which has been constructed along numerous steep spurs of this wild range, is a wonderful piece of engineering skill, though it has been much condemned by some. The ascent to the summit is by a series of the most extraordinary curves, but when the top is reached the view is grand.

There was no railway in 1849. Perhaps the idea was not yet born that there ever would be a route by which travellers might with ease, comfort, and safety, ascend the range in a few hours. The ascent at this period was toilsome, dangerous, and at times, actually impossible. It was no uncommon occurrence for drays to be three months on the road between Ipswich and what is now Toowoomba, and under the best circumstances the journey occupied several days. To traverse this country as the traveller can now, leaving Brisbane at six in the morning, and, after a coach ride of four hours, to reach the Downs in about five hours afterwards, is a marvel of modern times which demands a record here.

About half-way up the range there is a most romantic gully or gorge, which forms the bed of an immense mass of water during storms, but at other times is comparatively dry. Boulders of every possible shape and size have been hurled from the heights, and rolling into the valley have lodged in the most curious places, whilst others have in turn been precipitated down the same course, lodging upon those which preceded them, and the earth gradually accumulating between the interstices, trees have sprung up; these have seeded and others have risen from these seeds, until dense scrubs have been formed, which, in some places, are almost impenetrable. Upon the banks of this watercourse there was a rude dwelling, constructed with considerable labor. An immense boulder, perhaps it might have rolled from the higher rocks which rise at least 500 feet above the watercourse, lay upon the solid rocky sides of the glen. This stone was made to form the roof of the hut; the sandstone underneath having been cleared away until a complete stone house was formed with three rocky walls, the fourth side being open towards the glen or gully. This side as well as the whole dwelling, was effectually screened from observation. No one could have imagined that there could be a residence in such a place even if there had been any explorers in the neighborhood. But it was far away from the usual haunts of settlers, or the track of bushman or travellers. No human foot had approached it—none, but those of the hermit who had chosen this wild desolate region for a home. The occupant was an original—about fifty years of age, but in appearance so venerable as to foster the impression that he had passed through four-score winters at least. He was about the average height, broad shouldered, with stooping gait, a round face, some marks of piercing, thoughtful intelligence, a long grey beard, and snow white hair which hung over his shoulders. His dress was of the roughest, a mere sack made of animal skins, with the fur outside and he wore at times a cap of the same material. In his hand he carried a slender pole about ten feet in length pointed at one end, and thickly studded with odd pieces of iron, with this he climbed the fastnesses of the mountain side as easily as an ordinary man would walk on level ground. In fact it was astonishing how he could leap over crevices in the rocks many feet in width. His general manner was extremely restless, he constantly looked around him as if suspicious of being seen; very frequently he shaded his eyes with his hand to scan the path before him. There was, at such moments, a singular expression upon his face, some would have called it a vacant stare, and the whole character of the man may be summed up with this addition to what has been already stated; he was human, with a certain degree of intelligence, but with marks of a savage ferocity, which was the inevitable result of long severance from civilized society.

How he lived must ever remain a mystery, for he never revealed it. At one period of his residence here, a man who had lost some bullocks and was looking for them, discovered a little plot of garden ground in a very retired spot, where maize, wheat, and some vegetables were growing. No dwelling of any kind was near it. But it was very probable that this man's visit was known, for a few months after, on again going to the place—out of curiosity then—he found that it was abandoned, and, as far as possible, every mark of cultivation and fencing had been obliterated.

It was shortly after this period that Old Hermit—as he called himself in his many soliloquies—probably at a loss to obtain necessary food, began to enlarge the borders of his wanderings. Labor was scarce, although settlers were few and far between and he had not much difficulty in hiring himself as a shepherd on a small run in the neighborhood of what is now known as Helidon. For more than six months he continued with the most patient endurance to occupy the same position. One day, however, in the month of November, 1851, early in the morning, his employer rode over to his hut. Hermit was getting his breakfast, and a visitor at so early an hour was rarely to be expected.

“Shepherd,” said his employer, Mr. Baines, “2000 sheep are going up the Range to morrow. You had better draft off all the N sheep, and put them in the small paddock to-night. Tommy and Dick will come over to help you. You will have to drive them up, they are going to Mr. Sinclair's station.”

“Don't know, master,” replied Hermit.

“What don't you know,” said Mr. Baines, “the place you are going to? Oh! I'll make that very plain to you. I am going into Drayton the first thing, and will meet you at the top of the Range. Then it is very likely that I shall go on with you.”

“Don't know, master,” the Hermit reiterated.

“Hang the fellow! What do you mean?” angrily rejoined his employer, “can't you say anything but that confoundedly 'don't know?'“ The last words were uttered in a derisive, jeering tone of voice.

“Don't know, master, that I go,” replied Hermit. “I don't like. I hired as shepherd, and—” Here he burst out into an energetic pleading sort of entreaty, and, going straight up to his employer, said, “Master, master, I'll serve ye well; but don't send me away; I beg of ye, don't send me with sheep.”

“But why not, Hermit,” said Mr. Baines, somewhat softened by the earnest manner of the man, “you can come back again—”

“Never, master, never,” hastily replied Hermit. “If I leave here, something tells me I never come back. If sheep must go, let Tommy and Dick go, and I drive rest to head station, and stay till they come back. Now, master, listen to me this time. Something says to me, 'Don't go,' and I can't master, no, I can't!”

“Oh, go to Jericho with your foolish vagaries,” said Mr. Baines, “but I suppose you must have your own way. Here comes Tommy and Dick. I'll speak to them, but I don't like this, shepherd; no, I don't indeed.”

Perhaps there was something in the old shepherd's earnest gaze, as he turned round to meet the two stockmen who were now in sight, which made Mr. Baines stop as if he would have spoken again; but after a moment, saying to himself, “It is very curious,” he rode off from the hut. The interview which followed between the two stockmen and himself was very animated, and frequently glances were directed towards the hut where Old Hermit was now seated, discussing his breakfast. It ended, however, in an arrangement by which the shepherd's plan was carried out, and, without returning to the hut, Mr. Baines rode away towards home, the two stockmen proceeding to the yards to commence drafting the sheep.

CHAPTER XII.—COLONIAL HOSPITALITY.

The sheep were drafted and Tommy remained in charge of the 2000 to be driven away on the morrow, Dick, and Hermit having gone to the head station, the former engaging to return to the hut before sundown. Mr. Baines' house and station were about six miles distant. It was evening before Hermit arrived with the few sheep which remained after the N brand were separated from the flock, and having received his orders, he put the sheep into a paddock near the huts, and proceeded to the house to get his supper. This was soon dispatched, but amidst some bustle and confusion, a party of visitors arrived unexpectedly, and somewhat inconveniently, for the very limited accommodation which Mr. Baines could place at their disposal. Hermit was called by his master to attend to the horses, and while he is engaged in this most important of traveller's duties, the welfare of the useful creatures which so patiently serve the human race all the world over, the introduction of the new arrivals may as well take place. They are seven in number, three ladies and three gentlemen with a servant; four of the number being Colonel Tomlinson and his daughter, and Mrs. Welland and Alice, who had landed at Brisbane a few days previously. Of the gentlemen, one was an old friend of the colonel's, and the other a son of a New South Wales merchant. The first of the two was an officer in the British army, who had been for a long period in India, but had recently retired on half-pay.

On the fourth night this party found themselves at the foot of the Range. Here they had intended to stop for the night, but on reaching the small inn which offered the only accommodation for miles, they were told that the blacks were out in the neighborhood; that they had attacked a whole caravan of drays; had succeeded in carrying off some cases containing liquor, and other stores, and that many of them were in a frightful state of intoxication. There was no room in the wretched inn for ladies, in fact there was no decent accommodation for any one, and Colonel Tomlinson resolved to push on to Mr. Baines' station, which he heard was only four miles further on. This was reached happily without any adventure, although they passed within sight of a camp of blacks in a state of horrible riot. It was just dark us they rode up to the house of the squatter.

Of course the hospitality of the bush was rendered in a moment, when Colonel Tomlinson stated the circumstances of the case.

“Of any thing my poor abode can boast of, sir, you are heartily welcome, although you must excuse the homeliness of a very rough interior, and little besides the usual beef and damper, with a dish of tea and so on. We are out of the sort of home comforts ladies look for.”

This welcome was given in an honest, freehearted manner, which disarmed every thought that the visitors were intruders. Colonel Tomlinson replied: “Many thanks, my dear sir, many thanks. Old soldiers are not hard to please, and if they were, the fact that we are driven up into a corner is quite sufficient to make us value any kind of shelter for the night.”

“Well, we have got that, I hope,” replied Mr. Baines; “and now, ladies, stop in and make yourselves quite at home. Unfortunately, ladies, I am only a forlorn bachelor, but my housekeeper will try and attend to your comforts.”

“We shall manage very nicely, sir,” said Julia, “at least I can answer for myself, and as for my two companions, they are not strangers to a little roughing, so please not to trouble in the least about us.”

“You may be sure we shall not trouble, my good lady, that is a scarce article with us up here,” replied Mr. Baines.

The board was soon spread; it was nearly 9 o'clock before the good substantial meal was ended; and the ladies soon after retired. They were very tired, and Mrs. Welland was not quite well. We will leave them and hope that they may be all the better for a night's rest. Happily you, Miss Julia, will be delivered from the distressing anxiety which most of the inmates of Wellesley Station will experience before the night is over.

To return to the gentlemen. After supper the pipe the glass and the yarn proved the galvanic circle which kept their tongues in action, and their interest up to the register of bush talk. This was very animated. The destination of the travellers; purchase of stock; squatting pursuits and prospects; and the probability of separation were subjects which formed the prologue to the narration of several exciting adventures, in which the host and his guests severally took a part.

“We have left our two stockmen at the inn, Mr. Baines,” said Colonel Tomlinson, “they will come on in the morning.”

“Better have brought them all on, colonel,” replied Mr. Baines; “I don't like separation between travellers. You never know where you may meet again, or how soon you may need assistance. The blacks, you must know, have always been very troublesome in this neighborhood. When I first settled here in 1843, we were obliged to keep up a patrol every night as regular as the old watch at home. All sorts of contrivances were arranged to give an alarm in case of danger, for the rascals were so bold that they were upon us before you could say Jack Robinson. Excuse the slang, gentlemen; I habited myself to use this term many years ago, and it is firmly lodged in my dictionary now.”

“Do not mention it, Mr. Baines,” said Captain Oliver. “Certainly soldiers are the last people to cry non peccavi in this matter.”

“But none the less are they blameworthy, my good friend,” said Colonel Tomlinson. “I do not refer to such simple expressions as our friend has unnecessarily drawn our attention to, but oaths—wicked oaths and horrible filthiness are frequently as common in the army, and more common even, than the words which society recognises as polite and necessary. I never could see anything but degradation in them. No gentleman ought to use an oath, nor will he if he knows his position.”

“I perfectly agree with you, colonel, perfectly; but somehow they become a habit,” said Captain Oliver.

“Like my Jack Robinson,” said Mr. Baines, “but none the less reprehensible. But I was telling you how we were obliged to look out sharp for the blacks, for some of them had ceased to be afraid to move about at night. For a whole year we got off pretty well, we had a good deal of 'jabbering' as I call it, and two of my shepherds were speared, but I never lost a single sheep nor could I account for it why the shepherds were slaughtered—mangled would be a better word. But, by George; they caught us napping at last. One night we lost our patrol. He was gone, how, or where, I never knew. It was about midnight; I had been asleep indoors on the sofa, and had gone far into Dreamland. There was a solitary lamp on the table, and the windows were open a little way to admit some of the breeze which was blowing then from the west. Well, gentlemen, I was dreaming, and in my sleep I know I was yarning—I do talk sometimes in my sleep—but I couldn't tell you what it was about, but in the midst of a most earnest argument about this something, whatever it was, a gunshot report reached my ear. It was a part of my dream, for I remember that I saw myself starting as if in terror, and this terror awoke me, and I opened my eyes. I was broad awake instantly, and I well might be. Standing by my side there was my sister in her night dress—she was keeping my house at that time, and terribly afraid of the blacks. On this account she was going to Sydney very soon. Well, there she stood, fast asleep, but with one arm stretched out pointing down the glen yonder, the same that you came up this evening.”

“Here was a pretty fix. What could it mean? This was my first thought; but while I was settling this, my sister turned deliberately round and walked quietly back to her own room. You may suppose I was a little scared like. I took a little brandy, and, says I, 'There's no more sleep for me for awhile. I'll go out and have a smoke.' So I got my pipe, and then I found I had no tobacco. I did not like to go up the passage for the key of the store; for I feared to wake my sister. So I thought I would go down and get a bit from Jack—I never knew his other name. Don't spare the bottle, gentlemen, there's a drop or two more in the house, I think.”

“Let us hear the tale first, Mr. Baines,” said Colonel Tomlinson.

“Well, I had scarcely left the door when I found that the signal by which we had arranged to communicate with our patrol from the house had not been laid down. We had a wire which was attached to a piece of deal about four feet in length. This was laid across a box. If we wanted to communicate with the guard, this piece of wood was pulled off the box. Of course it fell with a crash, and on the patrol discovering the signal, he was instructed to pull the wire in turn, which operated in a similar way upon a similar piece of wood placed on the verandah. Well, neither the wire nor the wood was to be seen. I never knew the men to fail in setting the signal, for our lives depended on it. You will see in the morning, gentlemen, that the station buildings stand in a ring fence, and we are well fenced behind the house by the precipitous rocks, but still we carried the fence right round the place. The only real point of danger, as we felt it, was through the glen, of which I have already spoken. Black fellows are daring sometimes and at that time they were terribly bloodthirsty; but they never seem to think that there can be a weak place which is more open to assault than another. At all events, if they do, we never had any trouble from them which did not come from one quarter. I often wonder that they did not hurl stones down upon us from the heights above, and while we were considering the danger from that source, rush upon us from another quarter. Not that they could do us any harm with these stones, if they thought about such a thing. None could ever reach us; but the theory I have about them is this: Trust to a black to take the easiest course which presents itself. This, with us, was the road up the glen, and up this road they always came. Well, gentlemen (I always begin a new spell with this common word) we had another rule, that without the signal being made to the watch no one was to venture to approach him. The signal, I have told you, was either gone or it had not been laid down. What was I to do? The tobacco was a minor affair; I ceased to think about this now. I peered into the darkness, and felt all round the verandah, but no, the signal board was not there. A few moments consideration and I resolved upon a new signal; I put a candle into a lantern, and hoisting the lantern on a long stick, I waved it to and fro in the air. 'Surely,' I thought, 'Jack will see this.' When I had waved the signal for about a minute I took it down, and just at that moment my largest dog, a fine noble beast, came bounding towards me, and with a savage growl, crouched down at my feet. I now knew that something was the matter. This dog had broken the cord by which he was tied up near the slip-panel, but why he had not barked I did not know. All of a sudden it flashed into my mind, that probably the gun shot I heard in my dream was the report from our patrol's revolver, and the dog's repeated growls now thoroughly convinced me that we were in for a skirmish. Quickly I ran over to the men's huts, they are behind the house, the men were up at once, but not a bit too soon, for the dogs now gave such signs of danger approaching, that we were sure it was near at hand. To make a long story short, we had twenty of the most vile-looking rascals you can conceive of, right upon us in less than a minute afterwards, four to each of us, and fortunately we gained the victory. Eight of the villains were laid low, but I lost my noble dog, he had been foully used; the devils—I really, gentlemen, cannot call them by a better word—had cut out part of his tongue. He died before morning, and we buried him against the slip-panel where he had kept ward and watch for so long a period.”

“Very interesting indeed,” said Colonel Tomlinson, “but did you never hear anything of your man, or trace him at all?”

“Never, not a trace could we find. But this I say, I believe my sister's night walking had something more than human in it.”

“Divine Providence has many ways of helping us, Mr. Baines. I have proved this many times,” and Colonel Tomlinson briefly recounted the particulars of the three trials with which the tale commences, as an illustration.

When the colonel had ended, Captain Oliver spoke.

“I scarcely understood, Mr. Baines, that signal of yours. I should have thought it would have been better to have attached a wire to the trigger of a gun, so that in case of alarm it might be more certain.”

“Oh, my dear sir, we did not lose sight of this, but I did not explain it fully. If we knew that any number of blacks were in the neighborhood, there was another wire which was attached to a large bell, and the mere tug of this wire by our patrol released this alarm, and it made a tolerable row, I assure you. Then in case of sudden surprise the revolver was fired, but we trusted more to our wire alarms than anything else, and I never knew them to fail.”

“How long did you keep up this move,” inquired the young man, who may as well be introduced more fully here as Mr. Wright.

“About two years,” replied Mr. Baines; “we were new chums then, and there was not a neighbor nearer to us than eight miles. But gradually others came and settled along the road and we grew more indifferent about danger, and so the watch was relaxed, first a little, then an other hour was taken off, and at last we ceased to set a watch at all. How now, Hermit?”

The man referred to had been beckoning to his master; he stood at the window which was the only lookout from this room, and holding in his hand a small parcel tied up with rushes, said: “Master, this thrown over fence panel. I went down to lock rails in, and there it hung, tied on by these things. I thought I'd bring it on.”

“By George,” said Captain Oliver, “here's an adventure, Baines. Perhaps a love token, who knows?”

“Far more likely a little bit of black business,” said Colonel Tomlinson, “I knew them to do such things when I was commandant of the troops at Brisbane. I will give you an incident of this kind presently; but let us see, Mr. Baines, the contents of this singular mail bag.”

Mr. Baines held it still in his hand looking at the parcel, and turning it over and over. It was about four inches long and three inches in breadth, a piece of old plaid being the wrapper, which was tied with a green rush twisted. But for the latter anyone might have passed such a package without much notice, but being tied up and also tied to the slip rail, it evidently was meant for some one, yet there was no kind of direction upon it.

“I suppose,” said Mr. Baines, “I suppose I had better open it. Certainly I never saw this scheme before. Hermit, did you see any sign of strangers about?”

“None at all, not a sound did I hear, and I am pretty sharp in that way, master.”

“I know you are,” replied Mr. Baines. “Well here it is, up and at them as the Duke is reported to have said.” He drew out his knife and cut the rushes as he spoke, and slowly unfolded the plaid envelope. This was found to contain a second wrapper of red serge, on opening which there was a white handkerchief carefully folded up, which being spread out a name was seen in one corner—“Oliver, 90th Regiment.”

“In for it again, Captain,” said Colonel Tomlinson, in a laughing jocular tone, “I never did see your equal for the mysterious. But what lady you can be acquainted with up here is beyond all knowledge. One of the old speculations, I suppose, turned up in a wonderfully unexpected corner.”

The captain was holding the handkerchief in his hand as Colonel Tomlinson spoke, and there was a merry twinkle in his eyes as if he understood the allusion, but before he could reply a bullet struck him down. He fell into the arms of his friend, while Mr. Baines and Mr. Wright rushed out to the door, where, from the smoke, it was evident the shot was fired. Here they found Hermit struggling with the assassin, but ere they could help him the shepherd was levelled to the ground by a heavy blow, and the stranger, nimbly bounding off the verandah, disappeared. Mr. Baines returned to the room to get his gun which was always kept loaded. He fired in the direction which the intruder had taken, but without effect. Captain Oliver was laid upon a sofa. Colonel Tomlinson examined the wound, a pistol shot, entering the shoulder close to the blade bone, a portion of which was splintered causing exquisite pain, but the colonel, who had had some experience in gunshot wounds, pronounced it to be comparatively trifling. There was no chance of procuring medical aid nearer than Drayton, and this was somewhat uncertain. But who was to go? Mr. Baines was loath to leave his wounded guest, to despatch Hermit to the inn for the stockmen was impossible, for he would have to run the gauntlet of a host of enemies. This was evident by a tremendous yell which made the darkness of the night still more of a calamity to them. It was plain that the blacks were the assailants, and even now they might be on their way in a mass to follow up the successful blow which one of them had struck. The housekeeper who was standing by the wounded man holding the dish of water with which Colonel Tomlinson was bathing the wound, dropped the basin immediately. She had heard the same horrible shout once before. The ladies who had retired to rest were also aroused by it, but Julia, who was very tired, was easily quieted by the assurance that there was no real cause for alarm.

“Well this is far from pleasant, I must say,” said Mr. Baines. “Never mind, they shall learn the way to spell pepper before they go away. Load away, Hermit, we may need it before morning. Come on, Mr. Wright, every one must be enlisted in this warfare. Mrs. Johnson, is your old courage gone? You handled Brown Bess once as well as I can. We may want you again. Courage, courage, there, gently now.”

Whether the good squatter was speaking to himself in some of this random talk, no one seemed to notice. But Mrs. Johnson replied, “I am ready now Mr. Baines. Bless my heart, I was very foolish to feel so; it startled me for a moment, for though we had just the same alarm once before, I never wanted to be present at another fight, but every bush woman must be a soldier in the hour of need.”

“Well said, Mrs. Johnson,” said Colonel Tomlinson. “I think our friend will do now till we can get a doctor. With such as you, madam, we will give them a hard time of it, ere we say die.”

“I believe ye, colonel,” replied Mr. Baines, who, with Mr. Wright and Hermit, had been loading all the firearms. They were rather a formidable lot. Six double-barrel fowling pieces, three of Colt's revolvers, two single barrel guns, and three large horse pistols.

“And now for the Beauty, Hermit, and while I load her you go and reconnoitre,” said Mr. Baines.

But he was not to load the Beauty, which was a small brass cannon, nor was the house to be attacked, for Hermit returned after a lapse of about five minutes, and reported the retreat of the blacks, at least twenty torches wore gone over the hill he said, and he could see many others with those who bore these lights.

“Now, master, if you please,” continued Hermit, “give me note to Tommy, I ride over with it now, and he go for doctor, while I and Dick take on sheep in morning.”

“Right you are,” replied Mr. Baines, “go, saddle your horse, and the note shall be ready. In the meantime, gentlemen, it will be necessary for us all to be on the alert. Your daughter, colonel, is a sound sleeper. She does not appear to have been alarmed much.”

“I am thankful she has not,” replied Colonel Tomlinson, “these are not scenes for women folk.”

“Yet they have plenty of it in the bush, colonel. It is well for them to be inured to it. Ah, Hermit! ready, my man? Here's the note. Now ride like Johnny Gilpin, but don't lose your head.”

“Or my wig either, master, though these blackfellows not like those devils I have read of in America.”

“Bad enough, bad enough, Hermit, if you give them a chance, and are fat enough.”

“Ah! then, master, I only lean 'un,” and with this unusual amount of merriment, off he rode.

CHAPTER XIII.—LEYTON STATION.

Upon an undulating tract of country near Toowoomba, there is a station, which has been the means of adding many thousands of pounds to the coffers of two squatters, who have been in turn the proprietors. It is a pretty place and though there is much that is very beautiful, yet the scenery on three sides of it is quiet rather than romantic or grand. From the back of the house there is a most magnificent prospect, the view being from the range to the seaboard. The house is substantial, with offices en suite, good stables and stores, with roomy wool sheds, stock keepers' huts, a large and well stocked garden, and several paddocks, all well fenced, and plenty of water.

It is morning when we drive up to the house by a well-gravelled, road, which has been laid out with considerable taste amongst some fanciful flower beds cut out of the well-kept grass lawn. Of course we alight. Who that goes to Leyton Station would be allowed to depart without having a substantial proof of the hospitality of its owners, and the best of it is, that breakfast is just on the “tapis,” and we happen to be just in time. The 'we' in this case, however, included the owners, who had been upon a visit on the past evening to a station about four miles away. Not to an evening's select party, although they spent a very pleasant time there, but the secret of the matter is this, the station belonged to a certain Colonel Tomlinson; they had received a letter from him to say he was about to start from Sydney, and there was a certain inkling of curiosity, and perhaps something else, which led Messrs Stewart and Argyle to wish to know some further particulars. Accordingly on the past evening, they had gone over to Burnham Beeches.

It would be very easy to understand what they heard there, even if we were not in the secret. Half an hour after they returned, six horses were saddled and equipped for a journey, and six riders, booted and spurred, were discussing the route they should take.

“They cannot be at Grey's before to-morrow night, James, even if they were all good riders.”

“Agreed David,” replied his partner, “but what should hinder us from going on? They are all strangers, and I should like to know that they are safe at home.”

“Safe, sir,” said one of the four stockmen, “there is a report that the old rascal Eagle Hawk is prowling about just below the range. If he is there, that devil of a woman is not very far off, I warrant, and wherever she is there are a hundred black-skins at least.”

“Don't call her devil,” replied Stewart. “She may be wicked, selfish, cruel, even devilish, but she is yet, like ourselves, human. Who knows? something might be done with her.”

“Beg your pardon, sir,” replied the man, “but that creature, sir, she is a regular stunner. Once see her fight, 'tis a caution. By the powers, master, if that is not Brown from Burnham, coming in at the gate.”

Both Stewart and Argyle arose, and went out to the verandah, and in less than a minute a rider galloped up; it was Brown the overseer. He threw himself off his horse—this is the regular phrase, although to perform this feat would be hazardous enough to risk the breaking of some bones: rather more tame perhaps, is the description, but it is quite correct to say he alighted from his horse, which is in strict agreement with the supposition that he did not fall there from, but stepped down upon his feet. What a lot of words about a most commonplace action, and all the while Mr. Brown has been kept waiting. Quite right too, for he has need of a little breathing time; he and his favourite black mare have had a rapid run over that four miles between Leyton and Burnham.

“How now, Brown,” said Stewart, as he grasped the man by the hand, “we were over at Burnham last night, and expected to see you, but Mr. Sinclair told us you were away for two or three days.”

“So I was, Mr. Stewart, but I came home very early this morning to hear bad news.”

“Bad News!” All of the four stockmen had now come out of the breakfast room, and they spoke all at once, “Bad news! What is it?”

“Why, the colonel and his party were on their journey—you knew they were coming, Mr. Stewart. One of them is shot.”

“Shot!” exclaimed Stewart and Argyle, both in the same breath. “Who is it?”

“I don't know,” replied Brown: “I did not see him, but a man was sent from Helidon to get some medical advice. You know, perhaps, that Jack Reeve, as he is called, is rather clever in bone setting and that sort of thing. Well he lives somewhere over by the swamp near the red soil yonder. However, to make a long story short, two men came for Jack Reeve; one is gone back with him, and the other came on with a note for Mr. Sinclair. This states that a gentleman, one of their party, has been shot, and, that in consequence, they may not arrive for some days. Mr. Sinclair said you were going down to meet them, and I said I would ride over with the news. There, now you have it. I was afeared I should not have caught you.”

“Ah, neighbor Brown, why was you afraid?” said Stewart.

“Oh! man alive,” replied Brown, “I was an unmarried man once. I know all about it, Master Stewart. Excuse me, I don't mean to be personal you know, but I wish you much happiness, sir, when it do come. My old woman and I—”

“Nonsense, Brown,” said Stewart, interrupting him, “why I don't know the lady in the least.”

“But I do, sir, and Master Sinclair and me have been putting our figures together, and have arrived at the sum total.”

“And what is that, Brown?”

“Why, Miss Tomlinson, sir, is a very nice young lady, that is the state of the weather, Mr. Stewart.”

“Ah, ah!” said Argyle, “I did not know that you were a matrimonial agent, Mr. Brown, but 'tis too bad to leave me out in the cold.”

“No fear, no fear, Master David,” said Brown, “no fear of that long either. The Downs will be alive with the female sex afore long. But, bless me, I had forgot what I come about.”

“Come in to breakfast, Brown,” said Stewart, “that is the best thing you can do. In half an hour we should have been off.”

Brown was soon doing his share at the breakfast-table, where jokes ran along at the same time. In this amusement they were abundantly aided by the arrival of two black boys who brought up some pack horses, one of which was to accompany the projected expedition.

Black Bill was the elder of the two, he was an African, woolly-headed of course, but very far from being woolly-brained; of this there is no sort of mistake. “He was a first rate fellow, this Black Bill was,” so Mr. Brown greeted him, and Black Bill replied, in his grinning way, “Sich a faithful dog, massa.” His master, James Stewart, had called him so once, when he saved the young squatter's life, his horse having bolted and Black Bill having caught him by the bridle just as the horse was rushing towards a thick brush of young underwood and small trees, against which, had he been dashed, Stewart must have been killed. Never was such an action more cleverly done, the black boy, at the imminent danger of his own life, actually faced the horse, dashed at the bridle, caught it, turned the horse's head completely round, and then in an instant noosed him with a piece of rope he had in his hand, and, skipping round a tree, bailed the horse up as completely as if he had been stalled with a halter in the stable.

The 'faithful dog' was also a thorough station hand, a fearless rider, apt at mustering, clever in tracking, and exceedingly shrewd in suggesting in cases of difficulty. The way in which he mustered his horses this morning would have called forth the admiration of any who witnessed the performance. “Hi,” said Bill, with a stockwhip explosion on the right hand, and to the left they swerved round in a gentle curve “Ho,” again went the command, and straight ahead was the order of their march. “Whe-e-e Jih, and a hi,” and round they turned to face their general, just as soldiers clap their hands at a certain signal when on parade. Black Bill prided himself about these horses, and they seemed equally as fond of him. He had a peculiar call or whistle for each, and they always came at the given signal. He had a most unaccountable sort of creed about this species of animal, but let him speak for himself, his own words will best describe it. Most opportunely also, the very question was put to him as he bustled upon the verandah and stood at the keeping room door.

“Sich a faithful dog, massa,” said blackee. “Jeroosalem!”

“How about the horses, Bill,” said his master, “are they all right?”

“Yes, massa, tey be all right, good temper, go well, carry you away and home again.”

“Ah! how can you be sure of that, Bill?”

“Never be sure about anything in this life,” said Stewart.

“Sure about tat, massa,” was the reply, “him Bobby tell me so. Jeroosalem, 'tis fact!”

“Tell you so; he does not speak, how do you know?”

“Look you here, master; long time ago, I take tese hosses; I look after tem; I give tem food; I take tem to water; I rub tem down; I put on saddle; I ride tem. Waal I tink I know tese hosses pretty well; agam tey know me. So I begin to teach tem, and tey teach me, and so we both learn together. Jeroosalem! tey be good hosses.”

This has been a digression, but it has served to introduce the darkies. It did not take them long to pack sundry swags upon the horse they had brought up, nor was the starting delayed. In about an hour the whole party, armed to the teeth, were fairly started accompanied by Brown, whose way home for three miles was along the same road.

CHAPTER XIV.—SHADOWS COMING NEARER.

Before Hermit had reached the slip-panel he was summoned back by a cooey. Mr. Baines spoke to him: “Hermit, my man, you told me this morning that you would not take the sheep up to Mr. Sinclair's station. This gentleman, Colonel Tomlinson, wants you to ride over to his station with a note. He will not be able to go on for a day or two at least, and they are expected; the people will be alarmed and trouble may arise. Now my plan is, let Tommy go for Jack Reeve—that is the doctor, colonel,” said Mr. Baines addressing Colonel Tomlinson, “a strange name, but he is very useful at times. Well, Hermit, I was saying, let Tommy go on for the doctor and Dick to Burnham, he knows the place which you don't, and you drive the sheep up the range, and Dick can meet you on the road as he returns, and then you can go on together. You can't refuse.”

“No, master, I do it. I not intend to go out this district until I left colony for good, and I leave soon as my time up.” Hermit said these words in a low muttering tone of voice, looking on the ground.

“That will serve us then admirably,” said Colonel Tomlinson “Many thanks to you, Mr. Baines, and you, my good fellow, when you want a good turn, recollect that I shall be in your debt.”

The note was soon written, and again the shepherd started on his journey. The moon was lighting up the eastern sky, and soon rose bright and clear, she was on the wane, and Hermit was thereby enabled to push along faster, and in about an hour he reached the hut, where the two stockmen were wrapped in profound slumber. Not so profound, however, were the dogs, for Hermit heard their furious barking a full mile before he reached the station. Ever watchful they heralded his approach even at that distance and had he been on foot as a stranger it would have gone hard with him. But dog-like they soon recognised the horse, then the rider seemed to be an acquaintance, and then they were sure of it, and finally, as Hermit knocked at the door of the hut, all the dogs were upon terms of the greatest friendship with the shepherd. Perhaps his own dog was the mediator or the censor, it matters not which, it is certain that he walked composedly through the whole company of dogs.

The stockmen were soon aroused, the tale was told, the fire lit, and a cup of tea preparing, while the men chatted over the night's work and made their preparations.

“Who could it have been, Harry?” said Tommy, addressing the shepherd.

“Well, I have notion 'twas some of the blacks,” he replied.

“I never know any of that sort do sich a thing,” said Dick, “'tisn't like 'em at all.”

“Where could they get a revolver either? tell me that, Harry,” said Tommy.

“I think some them New South Wales blacks got them things,” replied Hermit. “I hear so.”

“Well it is a rum start,” said Dick. “I only wish we had been down there, Tommy. Only to think that we should have been away the only night when there was any fun.”

“Not much fun,” said Hermit, “if you seed the fellow who shot gentleman would have made blood run cold.”

“What was he like, Hermit?” inquired Tommy.

“Like? What he like? Why like—I don't know what he like.”

“Ha! ha!” shouted both the stockmen, “why he did it himself, that's what he did. Why, man, there's blood upon you. Look!—on your coat.”

It was all said in jest, but the momentary pallid countenance and vacant manner betrayed a guilty conscience. This soon passed away, and perhaps it was to put an end to the conversation that Hermit said he would go and fetch the horses while the men snatched a hasty meal. This did not occupy long, and fully equipped, both of them rode away.

Hermit listened to their shouts as they galloped along the bush track which led to the main road, but soon these were hushed in a silence which might be felt. Literally there was not a sound. Hermit had the universe of his circling thoughts all to himself. He lighted his pipe and sat down in a half reclining posture at the door of the hut. No sleep was there for him tonight, he felt sure of that, and this was enough to loosen the reins of his thoughts. Scenes long vanished, almost forgotten, rose up before him, were portrayed upon the living canvass of his brain, and then dissolved into others coming like shadows, and so departing. Never to return? Far from this, they could not be forgotten.

Hermit was soon in the vortex, and his thoughts were carrying him into its most profound depths. Round and round he was whirled, mentally looking at the one great centre of his life. He tried to get outside this charmed circle, but found it impossible. Think he must, he could not help it. Why was there such an unaccountable impression on his mind when he refused to go with his employer's sheep? He could not tell. All he knew was, something said “don't go.”

Thus he began a lengthened soliloquy, which, after a while, broke out into audible thoughts. “She was staunch for all that—Poor creature, how she blamed me, and raved out 'God's curse was on me.'—The child slept sweetly through it all.—How I was foiled.—Fool, ah! ten thousand fools I was to venture.—And all for what?—I tell you you'll not find it.—You awful imp, you evil tempter of my life, you false deceiver, what I got by listening to ye!—And still ye plague me.—Night after night I tried to drive ye away. I cried out go.—But all ye did was to put the word into your devilish mouth.—Every hill, every tree, I have seen swarming with eyes, and every eye seemed to be your's mocking me.—Oh! let me alone—why will ye persecute me thus? You tell me you want me, do ye?—There is one who still prays for me.—Do ye see her? ye do, I know ye do, for you are going, going, now you're gone.—Thank heaven all is not lost yet! Pray, pray!”

The old man knelt, but there was no sound; he bent and bowed as if in prayer but his lips moved not, but he realised for the moment more than can be described. Until the power of young Jacob's vision at Bethel is understood, and multitudes can and do feel its power; until the meaning of the ladder which was set on earth, whose top reached to heaven, becomes a sublime reality in the portfolio of a life's understood pictures; until the set of angels ascending and descending upon the ladder is a daily, hourly creed in the spiritual life, and we can see ourselves in the sleeping wanderer, we shall never understand the subdued and solemn serenity, which the power and presence of holy prayer personified in the act of another, and realised by this man as something undescribably peaceful stealing over his mind—produced on him who was now prostrate on the ground. It was a fit prelude to an eventful day.

CHAPTER XV.—A SIESTA AND ITS RESULTS.

Hermit was half way up the range, driving the two thousand sheep before him, before he encountered anything human. Anything! Yes; it is a curious phrase is it not? It is strictly colonial, for, in the estimation of many people, blacks are not persons but things.

Blacks they were which the shepherd met and many of them and in this manner: It was noon time, the day was very hot, the road very dusty; Hermit was weary, so were the sheep; he was hungry, so were they. A little patch of scrub presented an inviting spot for a resting place, and as the man naturally took advantage of it the sheep followed so excellent an example. It was feeding time for the biped, and this was a strong inducement to halt; and as he finished his very simple meal he was tempted to lie down, then he closed his eyes, and then came the inevitable forty winks, and on to the forty a few more of the same soothing quality. How long he slept he know not, but it is certain that he awoke with a sense of terror, started up in haste, rubbed his eyes, then shouted “hallo,” and finally ran very fast towards his sheep, which were flying along the road at a very rapid rate in the direction they had come. “What could be the matter with them?” He soon saw more than he wished to see. At least a dozen blacks, so he calculated, but in fact there were but six, had seized as many as half a dozen sheep, and were in the very act of slaughtering them. They were hungry, as human beings generally manage to be after an interval of five or six hours abstinence from food. There were nearly a hundred of their tribe as hungry as they, and they saw no more harm in the act than the owner of the sheep would have felt if he had successfully hunted down a kangaroo.

Hermit rushed towards the blacks, armed with an old pistol, his sole defence; but as he reached a part of the road from which a broad and very deep gully led off into the romantic fastnesses of the great range, there was an object which, for the moment, transformed him into the rigidness of a statue.

It was a woman, and this is the best description that can be given of her. She was too handsome for a Meg Merrilies, too well dressed for an aboriginal. Not that the material of the dress was particularly good, but the neatness and taste with which it was adapted to her figure compensated for the absence of quality and texture in the garment.

“You here?” said the startled man, “you here? I no thought of meeting you again, Mogara.”

“Why not,” said the woman, “did zoo get anything but kindness from us? White men zoot my people. We zelter many in trouble.” She spoke with a very strong accent, and very similar to a Frenchman who attempts to make his wants known in the English tongue.

“True, Mogara, true, you have, I know. You did me kindness I never forget; but not all,” continued Judd, for it is necessary now to cut off the assumed name, “not all, Mogara, like you.”

“Why zoo zay zo. Look here,” said the woman, and she cooeyed as she spoke; it was a sharp cry repeated three separate times, and in a minute the whole tribe of more than a hundred blacks, fully armed, closed around her, encircling the shepherd also in the ring which they fell into, in as regular an order as a regiment of soldiers. Judd looked round him with considerable anxiety, but he knew his only course was to remain perfectly quiet. It was the color of their skin which produced the sense of fear, the same number of white men would not have given him the slightest uneasiness. But they also knew him, and testified their pleasure in meeting him again by signs of childish delight. They laughed, and jumped, and pointed to him, speaking with the utmost rapidity one to another. Judd understood them well enough, and he knew that the only thing he had to fear was that of compulsory detention, though this would, he also knew, be of a friendly character.

Here it is necessary to retrace our steps. Judd, as the convict, was in reality stunned helpless, and frightfully wounded, all but dead, when the blacks surprised the boat's crew at Breakfast Creek. The blacks glanced at him, felt his skin, found he was warm, raised him on a temporary litter of boughs, and he was quickly borne away to the camp. He there soon recovered the use of his mental faculties, and under the careful nursing of Mogara his wounds healed, and he became quite strong again. Mogara watched over him with the utmost care, supplied his necessities with the best that they could obtain, and so great a favorite did he become with Eagle Hawk and others, that they were ready to hunt, fish, or do anything that Mogara suggested as requisite for his comfort.

In return for this, Judd had nothing but thanks to give, but the blacks asked no more. He had been in distress, a captive; they found him helpless, afflicted, bereft of his senses, and they treated him with rough sympathy and kindness.

But with this there was planted in the heart of the half-caste woman who reigned over the tribe, a liking which very soon ripened into the strongest affection for the captive. For various reasons, some of which will appear presently, this affection, though in a measure reciprocated, yet brought with it corresponding difficulties, and after a residence of nearly a year with the tribe, Judd contrived to escape. Search was made for him; he was tracked as far as the Pine River, but there the traces were lost. It was impossible for the tribe to forget him, for nearly every one of them owned something which he had made for them. He also taught them various little arts of cookery; he made garments of kangaroo and opossum skins, shoes or sandals of leather which he taught them to tan, bows and arrows, rough stools and seats, and when ill he watched over them, set several cases of broken bones, and bound up and treated successfully severe wounds. Why did he run away? A morbid dread of being retaken was the first reason; love, intense love of liberty, the second; and a third, and this had grown stronger than ever, the revenge of his nature, which was not yet satisfied. At times he watched round the Government depot, but there was no chance there of the fulfilment of his desire. At length he wandered away toward the spot where he fixed his hermit home. Here, for nearly ten years, he dwelt alone. All through that weary time insatiable revenge held possession of his soul. The word seemed one night to echo from the rocky roof and floor of his outcast abode, as he sat in the moonlight at the entrance musing over the past. Nor could he assign a reason. Till that moment he had not given himself one moment's anxiety about the righteousness of the spirit that lurked within him. But ere he laid himself down on the rocky floor of his glen home that night, and it was midnight before he did so, he knelt down to pray. From that hour, Judd resolved that as soon as an opportunity occurred, he would forsake his hermit life.

In the shepherd's hut to which that resolution led he found a Bible, and in the Bible a simple tract. To what great results a little incident leads. This tract was entitled “I Don't Care.” The title startled, interested him. He read the first paragraph, folded the little work, put it in the Bible, and instinctively turned to the chapter in Matthew which gives us the beautiful and comprehensive prayer, called, in its severe simplicity, “Our Lord's.” That prayer passed his lips ere he laid his head on the pillow, and with it there went up another earnest petition, “help me to make restitution for the past.” From that hour, this was the chief of all his thoughts. Step by step the stern man was made humble as a little child; but a painful experience had to be endured ere the great object of his desire was accomplished.

As he met Mogara therefore so unexpectedly, and to him, so unwillingly, all the past with its horrors flashed upon him. So hard and corny does this sort of fetter make the heart, that immediately the book of the past opened before him, and as he read in an instant of time his disastrous life, that life, Dagon like, fell down before his renewed and holier desires, but the man feared as entered into the cloud. Was he never to hear the last of this, “Ah! Judd, this cloud has a silver lining?” But though the old life fell down as tributary to the new principle, which was now operative within him to a very limited extent as yet, still the recollection of his iniquity appalled and troubled his spirit, opened all his old wounds, raked up his bitterness of soul, and threatened to overwhelm him in the vortex of evil which had resulted from one false step.

“Look here,” said Mogara, pointing to the circle which surrounded Judd, “all these are your friends, come and live again with us.”

“But the sheep? They not mine, they belong to my employer,” replied Judd. “I deliver them to place far away, every one lost I pay for. Is it kind to take those you kill?”

A low murmur of displeasure arose as Judd spoke. They knew that he alluded to the sheep, for he pointed in the direction where they were lying, and spoke with vehemence, still tightly grasping his pistol in his hand. But Mogara, speaking in the native tongue, soon quieted them, and Judd now addressed them in the same language.

“I white man—you black,—I love my tribe—you yours. Right, good [Loud expressions of approval]. I want to find white man who do me wrong—I go seek him—I leave you—Go on foot many day—I no find him.”

Here he paused to see the effect which his speech had made. But they said, “Go on, we hear,” and the most reticent statesman never concealed his feelings better than these poor simple creatures.

“Well,” said Judd, “I no find him. I hear that he shepherd, I try find him, I find no track, I never see him, not one moment, so I turn shepherd too—I wait my time—so I leave you. You understand?”

They did understand, very literally. They would go and find out his enemy. They would track him out. Only let them know who he was, where he was, and they would kill him. Many a nulla nulla was dashed upon the ground in the imaginary slaughter of so many imaginary foes, and spears were brandished, the war cry yelled. At this moment, Mogara, with feelings of disappointment and rage upon her countenance, mingled with indications of marked intelligence, which so distinguished her from the natives, advanced towards Judd, and, seizing him by the arm, cried out to the blacks, “Hold; let me speak to thiz one. Stay, all of zoo, I command zoo, where zoo are.”

Instantly the hubbub of native rage and fury, which is easily raised and almost as easily quelled, ceased, and every man and woman (for there were many gins amongst them) sat down on the ground, awaiting in perfect silence the result of the interview. Mogara beckoned Judd a little way apart from the blacks, but within sight of them, and thus she spoke: “Henry, I vowed many years ago that every white man who crozzed my path zood die. I have stood to zee my tribe zhot, and have not been able to prevent it. My moder and I were deceived, cast out by white man; my tribe hunted from one place to anoder; driven like dogs before thoze who boazt of white skin, and claim a right to perzecute zee black man. There are laws to protect white men, none for ze black; laws to punish black men, none to protect. If we are zhot, there iz no one to charge the mankiller and bring him to justice. Henry, the blood of my tribe iz on the heads of white men; we have zworn to avenge it. I zaw zoo when the Great 'Pirit, he took away zour zoul. I watched over zoo many days. Ah, how I watch! Rest quiet nursing, give zoo health again, and then zour zoul came back. Zoo looked on me one morning, and zoo zaid, 'Mogara.' How zoo know my name?” She paused for a reply.

“I not know,” said Judd, after a momentary thought. “I suppose I heard it.”

“Heard it!” resumed Mogara. “No, only once; zoo were raving when I stooped and whispered in your ear, 'Tiz Mogara,' just as I used to zay it to—No; I won't name the villain.”

For a moment the woman was changed into a fury; but this passed away, and she continued her harangue.

“No, Henry, zoo only heard it once, and never after, but zoo zaid 'Mogara.' How did zoo know my name? The Great 'Pirit taught zoo to call me 'Mogara.' I had zaid with my tribe that zoo zhould fight for life when zoo got well; but from that moment I zay I will zave him—Henry, I that had zaid I never look upon white man without horror. Yes; Mogara heard zoo zay, 'Mogara,' and Mogara loved zoo.”

A tear stood in her eye as she confessed her attachment to the man who stood before her, with astonishment written upon his countenance. For what a position was he in! He did not reply, and Mogara, resuming her natural demeanor, continued in rapid and exciting words her declaration of attachment.

“Yes, Henry, Mogara loved zoo. Zoo zay why? Why am I, who am so different from those creatures yonder—why am I with them? I can only zay I love them, rough, wild, outcast as they are. Yes, Henry, Mogara, who was nursed in a cradle; who trod upon a carpet; who zat at table, and can say she iz ze daughter of a white man; she leave all this and become a wanderer. For what? One word gives the reason—revenge! Zoo feel as I do; zoo breathe zame 'pirit; zoo have wrongs, so zoo told me, as I have; zoo are an outcast, just as I am; zoo, a white man, are homeless—a wanderer. I knew it, and yet I loved zoo. Again I say why? Listen. In your ravings zoo called moder many times. That name I had not heard for years. Oh, how sacred it was to me! 'Here,' zaid I, 'iz one like myself, who can love;' never had I zeen one amongst white people before. They were all cold, haughty, proud like myself. But zoo, when zoo knew nothing about those who were around zoo, zoo called moder. 'He has a moder, perhaps,' zaid I,' and he loves her,' and I loved zoo from that hour. I listened for hours to catch the word again, and then zoo zaid, 'Mogara.' When zoo left me I felt zo unhappy. I zeek zoo; every where we watch; but we have not met zince that day.”

“Well,” said Judd, as the woman paused, “well, I had an object which I could not accomplish with you. I was in danger, and if I had been taken I might have been dead ere this.”

“I know, I know,” hurriedly replied Mogara, “but zee, zey are getting impatient.” She waved her hand toward the natives, who were assuming indications of anger because of the lengthened interview. “I know, Henry, but come back; join uz and zoo zhall be revenged. That done, I will leave my tribe, follow zoo where zoo go; live for zoo, love zoo, care for zoo until death. Decide, Henry, zour very life may depend upon it.”

At this moment a shrill cry similar to the beautiful call note of the butcher bird startled the shepherd and roused the attention of the woman. Judd knew it well; he had often heard it, and as he turned towards the glen from whence it came, he saw his old friend Eagle Hawk coming towards the place where he stood. At first he did not know the shepherd, but it was very touching to witness the delight with which he greeted him when he discovered that Judd was his long lost comrade. He took him by the hand and kissed him; slapped him on the shoulder, laughed and danced, then said “How you do; glad you come 'gen;” shook hands again, and finally seating himself on the grass, invited Judd and Mogara to do so also. The latter, however, excused herself, and walking towards the rest of the tribe she spoke to them, and waving her hands in a hurried manner appeared to be giving her commands to some and to be scolding others, and finally dismissed them. In about two minutes they had all disappeared from the scene, carrying with them the slaughtered sheep to prepare for the corroboree, which was held that same evening.

CHAPTER XVI.—STRANGERS IN HERMIT GLEN.

We left the sturdy owners of Leyton station on their way to Helidon. For some time nothing very material occurred, except an agreeable halt for the equally agreeable occupation of lunch and rest. It was but an hour that they spent in this duty, for although it was very hot, and an additional hour or so would have been very acceptable to all, yet there were some ominous clouds lurking around the horizon, and ere the travellers remounted their horses distant thunder was heard. So far as they knew there was no shelter from a storm nearer than a dozen miles or so. Not that they were particularly anxious; they were too experienced bushmen for this to trouble them, but no one likes a soaking, especially if this proceeds from, or is accompanied with, such heavy thunderstorms as are very common in Australia.

“On ye go, then,” said Stewart, as he vaulted into the saddle. “Now, Argyle, for a race.”

“All right, James, as fast as you like,” replied Argyle. “Lead the way, if you know it; I'm bless'd if I do.”

“And I'm blessed, Master Stewart,” said one of the four stockmen, “if we get down this cursed range before the water comes down. I know it well, master, and something of the water that flows down these here water courses. Bless'd if we shan't have to run for it, my word.”

“Don't ye know of any place we can get to nearer than Baines',” said Stewart, for it was very evident by this time that the storm, which was rapidly drawing nearer, would be one of those which not only travel with great rapidity, but are hurricane-like in their effect.

Black Bill, who had charge of the pack horse, heard his master's inquiry, and famous for his inventive powers, he was at this time as ready with a suggestion as he was generally with a quick repartee.

“Please, massa,” said he, “please, 'tis me knows place hold all we.”

“On to it, then, boy,” shouted Stewart. “On to it; go ahead. Where is it?”

“Hi, massa, hi; not 'bove half-mile.”

“Drive ahead then, Bill, let the horses go, or we are in for it.” The roaring sound in the air was now distinctly heard which so often appalls an observer around whom a similar storm is gathering. In the bush it sounds most terrible, as if the trees were being swept away, and, in fact, so awful are some of these sudden gusts of wind and storm, that whole tracts of forest have been blown down, as if a roadway had been cut by human hands. The storm signals had thoroughly excited the horses, who needed no stimulating spur to urge them on. Onwards they dashed, as if they were running for a life. As the reader may surmise, Black Bill led the way to Hermit glen.

The darkey was the stockman who had stumbled upon the shepherd's cultivation paddock, to which allusion has already been made. Under the influence of a fit of curiosity, when he found this had been destroyed, he began to track, and soon alighted upon the faint sign of a man's foot, which, with immense ingenuity and perseverance, he tracked until he found one impression in clay very plainly delineated. Still continuing his tracking, he made another discovery—viz., Judd's abode in Hermit Glen. “Who lived here?” mentally cried Black Bill, with an audible “hi!” and this was followed by a very rude architectural criticism upon the extraordinary character of the work.

“Tis child sartainly never did set eyes on a humpy like tis here; and not a single crittur—no child, no noting, nor nobody near it. Tis child has a smoke over tis.”

So, lighting his pipe, as some more able and subtle philosophers do when a sturdy question has to be unravelled, Black Bill smoked long enough to leave behind him a fragrant perfume, which the very cautious proprietor of this most original divan rightly interpreted to be the incense of tobacco. As we have seen in a previous chapter, Judd, soon after this, for other reasons, but mainly on account of this event in his history, left Hermit Glen and became a shepherd.

But to return to our travellers. Black Bill, able and experienced as he was as a tracker, once or twice missed the way, and it was not until some half hour or so that he was able to pilot his master to the place. By this time the storm had burst upon the whole range, and they got a little of the expected wetting before they entered Mr. Henry Judd's house.

The place was roomy enough, with its verandah-like projection in front, which was built of strong saplings firmly imbedded in the earth, which were covered with a thick mat of scrub running plants. Here they tied up the horses under the shelter of the scrub.

“By the Lord Harry!” exclaimed Jack Williams, one of the stockmen, “I never see'd a hotel like this. What's the sign, Billy?”

“No sign, sar, tat I knows of, but very good house, tat's clear to tis child. Jeroosalem! very good!”

“Well, it is all that,” said his master, “but who in the world could have lived here. He was a clever fellow to have designed a place like this.”

“No one seems to have been here lately,” said Argyle.

“But some one was here, Massa David,” said Black Bill, “and he very clever—he uncommon clever, I tink. Jeroosalem!”

“Why do you think so?” inquired Stewart.

“Why? Why, you say, massa? Now, I vill tell you,” and forthwith he related his adventure which led to the discovery of the place. It was interspersed with opinions which garnished the narrative with a few exaggerations; but then Black Bill, like all his race, had a strong inclination towards the wonderful, and romance of any kind presented an elysium in which he revelled.

A little piece of his humor may not be out of place. “You see, massa, I knowed tat where tere was garden tere must be stomach to eat, and so says I, 'Here goes to find te stomach.' It was not long before I find te foot belonging to te stomach. Te foot was only a toe; but where tere was toe tere must be foot, so down I sits and argues: If tis toe come here, it's clear te foot come here too,' and so I began to laugh. I always laugh, massa, when difficulty stares me in te face, and te difficulty he no stand laugh; he grow angry and run away. So tere was very clear road. Well, on tis clear road I travels; not a very easy road, till I comes to scrub 'bove here. 'Hi!' says I, 'here's some hole or other 'bout here. Why shouldn't I sniff, like dogs; tey sniff, you know, massa, so I began to sniff, and say's I, 'Where te cow's tail disappeared te cow's head went, tat's clear too.' Jeroosalem! Just as I was a considering tis here deep problem, a sharp whistle come up to me. 'Ah!' say's I, 'you don't catch me so. 'Lossophers,' says I, 'always pause and tink before tey leap.' When, lo! before I had time to say 'Who comes here?' tere come along a mighty rushing noise, wit a awful roar like—like a bullock, tat's clear too, and out rushes a kangaroo. Jenny had been barking, and now she make dash at brute, but I call her off, and where te kangaroo come out, tere I go in; and, as I heard you tell Massa David, Massa Stewart, te utter day, vinny, viddi, wincy. You said tat was, 'I come, and I saw, and I conquer.' Jeroosalem! tat's clear too.”

All this was uttered in broken English, of which only a few words in this character have been inserted, but it is impossible to put into words the pantomimic gesture and chuckling laugh with which the merry fellow let his tongue run out into the most voluminous narration of his opinions. Yet there was no cunning about it, he was as honest a follow as he was really shrewd and funny.

“And now, massa,” said he, as he finished his tale, “me make fire in old man's stove; here he cook I see his kettle when I call, but no find him at home. Werry bad manners, Mr. Jeroosalem, not be home to receive such nobility visitors—werry bad indeed. No wood neiter. Well, I do declare, wuss and wuss, and all de wood is wet I be sure, and de wet wood no burn. Jeroosalem! how it tunder! Little of dat fire indoors now rater inconvenient, tis child tinks. Jeroosalem! Hi! Ah!”

How many more periodical items he would have put to his speech cannot be stated with any degree of certainty, for at this moment Jack Williams came in with a small bundle of sticks, which Black Bill seized with a very loud “Jeroosalem!” and in a few minutes a blazing fire made the place look a little cheerful. A sound roof over one's head in a storm is by no means a small treasure. This they had; and as they sat around the fire, where the tea was soon brewing, everyone felt that they were indebted to Black Bill for his foresight in providing such good quarters.

Who that has passed a night amongst bushmen camping out will fail to bear testimony to the free and easy manner in which the company settle down for the night? There is a kind of freemasonry about the thing—a charmed circle in which good humor and hospitable society prevail; pipes and tobacco—the essential companion of each; something stronger than water at times, but everlastingly tea in the billy; damper, hot, dusty, but excellent, then the carefully spread blanket; the bright fire, the tale, cut and dried, ever new, always acceptable,—all these and many other accompaniments of the road make a camping out a very pleasant and sociable sort of thing. To be sure, camping by oneself is rather monotonous—rather so; and, besides this, there are inconveniences attached to the lodging on the cheap; but “bless your heart,” the bushman will say to you, “what are they? I would rather have my soft turf couch than any feather bed in the world.” As may be expected, the circle around the fire in Mr. Henry Judd's glen home was particularly jolly; and, as the storm continued until dusk, and then, after a temporary lull, returned again in the evening, a roof over their heads was acceptable to all. Stewart related the beautiful story of Joseph and his brethren, and it was interesting to see the eagerness with which Black Bill drank in the inimitable narrative. Then Mr. Argyle told all he knew about Whittington and his cat. The four stockmen each had their tale of thrilling adventure in bush life, and lastly came the darkey's turn.

“Well, sar,” began Black Bill, after a few coughings and curious noises, supposed to be the regular way of getting up the powers of eloquence; “well, sars, I wish to observe tat once I and anoder was going long way. It was in India we was going. We had to carry some letters, parcels, and utter tings about twenty miles up country, and come back same night. We got up all safe, and did to business, and ten says I to my mate, 'Now to go back.' Says he, 'I vote we stay here.' 'No,' says I, 'we go back.' 'No,' says he. 'Yes,' says I. Whereupon he says, 'Upon your head let te blame rest.' Says I, 'te moon he soon rise, and we can make a start and get down to bungalow by tat time, so off we go. Well, sars, all went well for a time; but presently I found my mate coming up close to me, quite close. I bore against him, and over he went toder way; but very soon I found him press hard against me, 'What are ye a-doing of,' said I. 'Don't ye see,' said he, 'tis te devil.' 'Where?' says I. 'Tere,' says he. 'I don't see him,' says I. 'Look behind ye,' says he. So I cast my eye over my shoulder, and lo! what should I see but two great staring lights glaring upon us like fire. 'Tis a tiger,' says I. 'No,' says he, 'is it now?' 'Tis very true,' says I, 'and he's arter one of us.' Where upon he set up such a yell as I never heard afore, nor do I tink te tiger had ever 'perienced such impolite company afore, for sartain it is, he turned tail upon us, and, with a roar, he galloped off, to my 'mazing satisfaction. Now comes te fun, massa. My mate had no sooner roared tan down he falls on his face, flat on to te ground, where he kept up his terrible row. I can tell you, sar, he did make a noise. Well, I went up to him, and put my hand on his shoulder. I suppose he tought it was te tiger, for he screamed as if he was being eaten up alive. Says I, 'Mate, come on;' and tereupon I seized him by his breeches, which were very tin, you know—just as they wear tem in India. I wanted to lift him up, but te breeches gave way, and down he went, roaring again wit all his might. Tis time he sung out lustily, 'Te tiger! Bill, Bill, te tiger!' Says I, 'You old fool; I'm no more tiger tan you' Whereupon-sars it is a fact—he jumps up, and says he, 'Didn't we do it well, Bill?' Says I, 'You're a fool, mate.' 'You're another,' says he. I rater liked the title, so we didn't quarrel, and, after all, got home safe. Jeroosalem!”

Now, the tale is nothing; most commonplace, some extra-wise individual may say—no doubt will say. “Aw! haw! I can asaure you—haw!—most unwikely; wevy unwikely indeed!” But it was the action of the darkey that made the tale so interesting. Had there been a listener outside, he would have understood the whole thing by the mere change of voice for which Black Bill was so celebrated in describing a thing or event. Then the language which he used was so musically descriptive, so quaint, so broad, so negro like; and yet there was a polish about it which he was fond of describing as “the nat'ral consequence of good breeding and excellent society.”

There was a listener outside soon after night-fall—a listener who had so very intimate a connection with the place that he could not tear himself away from it. Albeit he had no desire to intrude upon the society who had made so free as to take up their abode in his house without so much as a question whether they were welcome or not.

CHAPTER XVII.—THE STORM.

The interview between Judd and Eagle Hawk was not very long or interesting. It chiefly related to old times; but the latter was really angry when he reproved the shepherd for his unworthy act in forsaking them. “Very bad; yes, very bad. Bad—no word about it; you go away. Very bad.” And the raging storm within was scarcely restrained with these words.

Mogara appeared as if she did not hear what was passing between the two men. She walked to and fro, pensively looking upon the ground, and occasionally glancing up at the clouds, as peal after peal of thunder attracted her attention. At length Eagle Hawk arose, and so did Judd, and then Mogara came near. As she did so, she spoke:

“Henry, on the day zoo came to us, great thunder in the sky. There will be great thunder again very zoon. We go to camp, where do zoo go? Speak!”

“Mogara,” replied the shepherd, “you speak true, there is great thunder coming. If you tell me do anything, what you think if I not do it? Speak; tell me.”

“I think zoo not good,” she replied.

“Very well, then. White man—nay, don't be angry because I say white man—my master, then, tell me go drive those sheep long way. Suppose I leave them, and not go, what he say to me? Will he call me good? Speak.”

“No, no; not good. Zoo must go,” was the reply. “But when zoo come back?”

“In one, two, three, ten days—when moon come up there. Then, Mogara, I come back.”

“Good, good; go then. Stay; where zoo go? Never mind, never mind,” she continued, speaking with some forced composure, “never mind.”

So saying, she turned away in the direction which the blacks had taken, and, accompanied by Eagle Hawk, she was soon lost amidst the thick forest.

Only for a minute did the shepherd remain where he had parted from these two strange creatures. He gathered up his sheep quickly, and proceeded to drive them towards a spot which he knew would afford shelter. Very soon after the storm began, and Judd, knowing that his sheep would be safe—for it was into what is called a blind gully that he had driven them—determined to visit once more his old home. But before he could reach the place the storm was at its height. Under such circumstances, he was driven for shelter to an overhanging rock, beneath which he laid until the deluging rain was over, and, when this was the case, he no longer felt a desire to go to Hermit Glen, so he resolved to camp for the night where he was. Very weary, wet, and hungry, and much disturbed by the unexpected events of the day, he saw the sun go down in a mass of angry clouds, and very soon after the blackness of darkness came on. He had no fire, it was too wet to make one, and he saw and heard the storm returning, to beat around him perhaps with increased fury. At all hazards, now, he resolved that he would seek the shelter of his rocky house. To traverse the space between the spot where he then stood and Hermit Glen would have appalled the stoutest heart in such a storm as was now gathering itself up into a central cyclone and very soon burst over the devoted man's head. The deluging rain of the afternoon had created mighty raging torrents of rushing water, but now these were increased ad infinitum, and the roar of the several streams, as they rushed onwards through the many channels which intersect this wild region everywhere, was something fearful to listen to.

“What would become of the sheep?” There was no help for it, to attempt to watch them was out of the question, and he had no dog. “I'll trust them to Providence,” said he, “and now for the old place, a fire, and some tea.”

Not a very faithful shepherd, some will say. Don't judge the man. If you and I had been so near to a sound shelter, as Judd was, we might have been tempted to follow his example. The storm which burst over the whole country that night was the most awful tempest which had been known for years. In one place nearly three miles of tall trees were levelled to the ground, something like a terrific whirlwind passing through the rest, and singling out these, wreaked its vengeance upon them. On through this terrible tempest Judd pressed. Progress was, even to him, who knew every foot of the country so well, frequently exceedingly difficult. But in such circumstances he paused until a flash of lightning came; thus he saw where to step, and onwards he sped his way. One would have taken him for the weird monarch of those wild and romantic regions, or for a spirit with his wand summoning his attendants, or directing them amidst the awful storm. His head was bare of any covering, for his cap had blown off, and he could not recover it, and his whitened locks, scattered with the wind, though they were saturated with the rain, gave him almost a supernatural appearance. He had around him his bush sack or blanket—as good a specimen of a coat without seam as can be imagined, and most useful for the purpose. His fur garments he had discarded when he became a shepherd. His long staff he used as a pioneer, feeling his way with it. Without this he had not dared to venture upon so perilous an undertaking as that of endeavoring to reach his old home. But every step gained was a new inspiration to his spirit, and, as he reached the top of the tremendous ravine his old habit of cheering himself with a song produced its wonted result. Within two hundred yards of where he then stood was the place to which he was bound.

The storm now was indescribably grand; the lightning was incessant, columns of fire descended to earth every moment, chain lightning, exploding into millions upon millions of brilliant sparks, and these again apparently gathering together to form splendid spears of forked electricity;—the scene, to one who was courageous enough to gaze upon it was unrivalled by anything that can be imagined. Awful, too, were the constant peals of tremendous thunder. There was no interval between them, whilst the roaring wind, and the raging waste of waters which poured down every declivity and dashed headlong into the dark recesses of Hermit Glen, all united to make even this stout-hearted man tremble. Judd stood and gazed upon it, not unmoved—this was impossible—but still the wildness of the scene had its charm to him. An inspiration had taken possession of his soul during his solitary sojourn in this mountainous region. The idea may be termed romantic, but it is by no means remarkable. Poetry is the language of retirement, but it is gendered in wondrous stanzas amidst mountain scenery. Some may call this expression fanciful, and it may lay a claim to such a nomenclature; but it is real imagery—a phrase hardly demonstrative enough—yes, imagery in which the soul undergoes a semi-new creation, catches the flame of heaven's own altar fire, and, awe-struck some times, is thrown back upon its own reflections, with the terrible and unanswerable question, What doest thou here? sounding like a tempest, and then anon sinking into the still small voice. Peering into the vault above, and into the abyss below, the natural surface of real life, the unseen world is thus realised, and some of its wonders are felt, and understood more and better because the soul has risen in her soarings nearer to God.

Is it because the atmosphere is clearer, purer, brighter up there? Or does the soul become or assume more of the etherial than as the tenant of its mortal abode, like its prototype, gazing upon the eternal hills? Something of both is the only answer to this question. At all events, the most unpoetical mind that was ever launched forth into the stream of actual life, in the person of Henry Judd, became an imaginative artist of no mean calibre. Mountain life and solitude, deep thought, and an existence which was unique, though utterly undemonstrative to the outer world, had given to this man the sometimes inconvenient habit of speaking his thoughts.

In his case, however, the habit frequently resolved itself into communion with imaginative personages and, under exciting and excitable circumstances, he exorcised his spirit so as to give utterance to his thoughts in wild, piercing, declamatory songs. The words, beyond a doubt, were original and incoherent—this was only natural to a mind which was frequently unsettled and unstrung; but there was savage beauty in the delivery of these songs. Judd had a magnificent bass voice of great compass, and a self-taught but very artistic method of using it. His agitato, diminuendo, and crescendo, ripening into solemn swells, echoed back in this mountain glen from a dozen points, and increased the power of his extempore songs; and though the only accompaniment was a couple of pieces of hardwood technically called 'bones,' the execution of the whole was worthy of an appreciative audience.

Standing on the brink of the chasm, which was now the bed of a raging torrent, fearless of interruption, he gave utterance, in the height of the storm to one of these incantation songs, which is here recorded us a specimen of many which, impromptu, had gone forth from those unprofessional lips.

Blow away away, ye fearful whirlwinds, blow!

Crack, crack! 'tis here, 'tis there, 'tis everywhere around!

See, see! the fiery spirit leaves the ground!

Where? There; 'tis down again! 'Tis He, 'tis He!

He calls, He speaks; I cannot, dare not flee,

Round, round this gloomy dell, His spirits dance!

Ah! ah! You laugh, but mortals dare not glance.

The Hand that gave you birth has sent you forth

From the far West, and from the ice-bound South;

Ye mingle here your sports, and wildly drown

All care, all sorrow, in this awful storm.

Blow, spirits, blow! with higher fury rage,

And, in your fiery gambols, fiercely blaze

Round—Ah! ah! the torrents, ah! ah!

And round again. “Again,” the echo cries.

Crack, crack! 'tis here, 'tis there, 'tis everywhere around!

See, spirits, see! again He leaves the ground!

Spirit, I call: come hither, Spirit come;

Obey my will; come quickly, quickly come;

Ye will not leave your throne?

'Tis well, I go—Ah! What, louder still?

Blow, spirits, blow! Crack, crack! round, round,

A thousand times yet louder raise the sound.

Again! Ah! ah! again, and yet again!

See, now the rock is struck! Hark! There, 'tis down!

Cease, cease, ye spirits now, nor gambol thus;

The voice that spoke, yea, even cried, “Come forth!”

Has sent His summons; dare ye trifle now?

Avaunt, avaunt! 'tis time, 'tis time, its time ye'd done.

Speak ye to me of wrath, or is it thus ye tell

Vain, proud, but dying mortals of your power;

Your glory!—need it thus be sounded forth,

To make proud man adore ye?

Ah me! my heart, it sinks beneath the stroke.

Judgment sounds loud from yon vast blackened mass;

It speaks, it says, “The murderer must—”

No, spare! See, see, again! In mercy, mercy spare!

I dare not stay, and yet that awful voice

Can reach me where I dare to flee;

Where'er the vital air can give me life,

There is Thy voice. I bow, I kiss the rod;

And, as the gentle still small voice sounds sweet,

I bow, I worship low beneath Thy feet.

Strange admixture! The old man—for he was so in appearance, and nearly so in age—in the commencement of his wild song, waved his staff as a magician uses his wand, his body keeping time with the music, but starting every moment into a new attitude, as alarm, awe, dread, admiration, or veneration directed the tenor of his thoughts. Now he danced, leaped, stretched out his hands as if imploring or commanding; then he covered his face with his hands, as if he deprecated the solemn and awful visitation which struck home to his very soul, till the song at last burst forth into the character of a fearful maniacal laugh.

At this instant a terrible flash of lightning struck a part of the cliff on the opposite side of the glen, and, in the blinding blaze of electric fire, he saw that a great mass of rock, with several immense boulders and a large tree, were torn away from the bank, and, with a heavy, deafening crash, rolled into the raging flood. This incident seemed to appall the man; it altered the character of his song into a plaintive, melancholy strain, during which he bowed his head, then knelt, then lower down he bowed, till, as he uttered the last note, nothing of his figure was visible, for he lay, covered with his mantle, prostrate on the rocky ledge.

It was a scene which would have made the boldest heart tremble, and, to the poor agitated creature who lay prostrate on the ground, it proclaimed a period of retributive justice to come. He had witnessed many storms in this region, but not like this, and he shuddered under the deep impression of his terrible guilt. He felt it to be a black, foul blot, constantly remembered, deeply lamented, but not forgiven. For two weary hours he lay on that bleak, wild, desolate spot, crushed, paralysed. Only as the storm abated did he raise his head—gradually at first, but as he regained his firm footing on the rocky floor which had constituted his orchestral throne, his wonted courage returned, and only pausing to throw off his blanket, which was saturated with the rain, he turned towards his old dwelling.

CHAPTER XVIII.—OUTSIDE.

Slowly, pensively, Judd walked along thinking of the past, not a little anxious about his present safety, and thoroughly undetermined about his future course. He would have decidedly preferred immunity from discovery, which he had so long enjoyed; but the interview with Mogara threatened altogether to change his solitary condition into a constant warfare with the tribe over which she reigned supreme. Supposing she willed to renew the intercourse with him, he knew it must be, unless he chose the alternative of flight to another district. This was all but impossible. In this moody disposition he walked down the glen.

The storm was still raging fiercely elsewhere, and the lightning was very vivid; but immediately above Hermit Glen the sky was clear, and the stars were shining brilliantly. But in a momentary lull a loud ringing laugh came echoing its original up the glen, so plainly human and so near that the fountain of his blood seemed for a moment to stand still. For years he had lived in this spot and not a sound had reached his ears, save that which belonged to the created life, which is so varied in the bush. The harsh cry of the dingo; the mournful knell of the mopoke; the scream of the cockatoo; the sharp ringing call of the numerous parrot tribe; the over-joyful song of the butcher bird; or the shrill note of the goatsucker and coachman; these were common—as common as the 'croak, croak, croak' of Mr. Bull-frog and his parliament of not windy but watery members, ever reproaching, retaliating, courting, and daring to court, scolding, and teaching; and if Mr. Henry Judd had been asked the question, “Do frogs sleep?” he would have replied, “If they do, it must be with their eyes open.” First fiddle and second fiddle; double bass and trombone; horn and trumpet; drums, double and single; piccolo and violincello; organ and piano forte; soprano, alto, tenor, and bass—very bass; all these engaged in giving unceasing illustrations of Mr. Weather's proceedings, might possibly be considered as constituting a very musical family if the taste of individuals ran in that direction.

Judd would sooner have listened to any, or all of these combined, than to that one hearty expression of glee. He started—sunk in an instant upon the ground, where he appeared to be lifeless; but no ears could be more attentive than his. Not a sound reached him; all seemed lifeless as the glen, saving the numberless frogs and the distant thunder. “Was it fancy?” said he to himself. “No, it was plainly man's voice, but where?” The question troubled him. Was that voice that of a white or black man? “White,” he at once replied. As he was thinking over the subject, half resolving to retrace his steps, the jovial party in the hut put some additional fuel on the fire, which produced its inevitable accompaniment of smoke, and the wind veering round at this moment, drove the smoke directly towards the spot where the owner of the hut was watching with all the solicitude of a sentinel. Upon seeing this, Judd decided upon his course. Creeping with the utmost stealth back upon the path by which he had come, he struck off upon a track which led to the top of the great boulder which formed the roof of his hut. With the same caution, measuring step by step as if his life depended on not being detected, he at length reached the place, and actually stood above the heads of the very men whose ruin and disgrace he had so foully plotted. Upon the top of this immense stone he laid down with the utmost silence, and gradually pushing his body forward, he attained a position by which he could hear all that passed within the place, and actually see the fire and the men lying on their blankets. Not a word escaped his wary ear, but still he heard nothing which in the least concerned him. At length the yarning, as it is called, like all other things, came to an end, and general preparations were made for the night's repose. But ere Stewart and Argyle turned in by mutual consent they turned out—that is, Stewart went outside to see what sort of a night it was, and naturally enough David Argyle followed. They were both smoking, and as they stood upon the edge of an immense cliff, from whence they could look down upon the surging waters, which were roaring and rushing in the rocky glen beneath them, the light of the fire from within shone full upon their faces as they stood looking up the glen, and Judd discovered who were the tenants of his hut. A hundred emotions rushed pell-mell through his startled brain; horror, vexation, fear, even revenge, started up like demons to worry and torment him. An involuntary gasp escaped him, which attracted the attention of the young men for an instant, but they, of course, were in perfect ignorance of the near proximity of their mutual enemy. As may be expected, the conversation at first turned upon the question of what the weather was likely to be, and so on, but it finally merged into heart breathings about past times. Days gone by never to return; pains and penalties endured, recollected with gratitude for deliverance from them; afflictions and losses which have humbled us. Ah! who has not some chapter or two of such in the book of their life? Both these men who were standing in the front of Judd's old house had theirs, and many a time had the books been opened, and they had read to one another therefrom.

Many an event less significant than that which took place this night has been called providential, and rightly so, if we believe the Bible; and if this is not believed, what else is there for poor human nature to full back upon? Nothing; no, not an atom of light about anything beyond the present life. Surely, then, it was providential in the highest degree that the conversation between the two men took the following turn.

“I think, James, you said that this Mrs. Welland is an old acquaintance of yours?”

“Yes, David. I used to visit at her house in my earlier—I can hardly say happier—days; for God has greatly over-ruled all my troubles for good.”

“Had she anything to do with our strange friend—our mutual Judas, Stewart?”

“She had,” replied the other; “but I am sure she was as innocent of wrong to me as you are. There was always a strange mystery about that man that I could not understand. My dear Argyle, I shall startle you by saying she is his wife.”

“His wife, Stewart! Judd's wife! You don't say so!” replied Argyle, in astonishment. “When is the whole of that villain's history to be revealed. How long have you known this?”

“From the very commencement of my great trouble, David,” said Stewart; “but until I received Colonel Tomlinson's letter I had no idea that this Mrs. Welland was the woman. I knew her, of course, as Mrs. Julet.”

“Why does she use the assumed name? Is she married again?”

“No. At least, I think not. In fact, David, I am safe in saying I am sure she is not. But you and I,” continued Stewart, “can imagine many reasons why she should wish to shake off the recollection and the association of a great crime.”

“Or great crimes, rather,” said Argyle; “for she must surely know something about that villainy at Leyton. I don't think I shall like the woman.”

“Oh, nonsense, David, nonsense! You don't know her. If she was innocent of all cause of offence in my case, I warrant she has no stained hands in yours. She is the most gentle, kind, and loving creature I ever saw, always excepting my own mother.”

“Ah, James, that word mother!” replied Argyle, after a pause of a minute or two in the conversation, during which their thoughts were coursing past events with vigor. “That word mother; how it rings upon the pavement of one's memory! I wonder if our parents know all that has passed concerning us since they died.”

“It is no wonder to me, David,” replied Stewart. “I do not vouch for the truth of the theory which has ever been strong with me, but I believe that our loved ones are very near to us. Who can tell? They may even now be ministers of good. If so, is it not delightful to think of a kind father or mother always standing near to defend us?”

“But there are two sides to that idea, James. One can hardly fancy the thing. Who would like to know that eyes were constantly gazing upon every action they perform? There is something repulsive in the thought.”

“Not at all,” replied Stewart; “not at all. You will not deny that God's eyes are upon us at all times. Well, is there more shame attached to any action when the Infinite looks upon it than there can be when a created being sees it? In fact, I believe, David, that in the future many of those things which are objected to in this present state as being immodest will be utterly unknown. Pure in heart, shame can have no place in the nobility of a holy nature.”

“Ah! that is a grand thought, James, if we can grasp it.”

“Why not?” said Stewart. “Yon moon, now, for instance, shining so brightly as she rises; look at it as I have, and try and innoculate the thought into your system of imaginative economy that that beautiful planet—I will call it so—is a living reality. Of course we know it is not; but fancy, now, that Jupiter up there is the eye of the Infinite gazing at you, would you feel any compunction in doing that which Omniscience has arranged as the proper functions of your nature. Understand me now—I refer to nothing which is sinful. To put the thought into plainer words, is not one function of life as necessary as the other?”

“Yes, perfectly so.”

“Well, then, that which makes anything a shame which Omniscience has ordained as indispensible to us is due to sin. Now, David, I come to the point; in a future state I believe this will be abolished. Many functions of life which are necessary to us now, will be unnecessary in another state; but of some of these, even now, it may be added, 'Honi soit qui mal y pense.'”

“Ah, James, you soar so high sometimes,” said his companion, “that I cannot follow you; but tell me, do you think that any eyes, save those of Omniscience saw the murder of poor Rouse?”

“Do I think so! I have no doubt about it,” replied Stewart. “Think you your mother, your father, does not know of your calamity; and could not they tell, if it were right they should do so, who struck that hellish blow? You were to be tried, David, like me, and it may be in mercy you were arrested at the very commencement of your vicious career—pardon me, it might have turned out so.”

“But what theory have you about your own case then? This arresting, as you call it, at the outset of a vicious career, cannot apply to you, James.”

“Perhaps not in the same sense, David; but I read in my Bible that Philip was sent down to the desert to meet the eunuch, Candace's messenger, and to preach to him the Word of Life.”

“And so you were sent for some such purpose, and God thought the only way of accomplishing it was to make you the victim of a most abominable treachery. No, James, I cannot see with you in that definition of God's dealings with us.”

“What put Joseph into a dungeon, David?”

“Why, his wicked mistress' miserable conduct.”

“Well, he was innocent, but he lay there a long weary while, an injured, persecuted, apparently to human understanding, a God-forsaken man. Yet we know that God was with him. It is mysterious, I grant, but while it is consistent with Divine wisdom to accomplish His designs thus, who has a right to complain?”

“'Tis very hard though, James,” replied Argyle.

“Yes, it is; frankly I confess that I have felt it to be so at times.”

A minute or two of silence intervened, and Stewart spoke again: “You know, David, after all we have only our own conscience which can clear us of wrong. The Great Clearing may never come on this side of the grave. I for one shall never mention the subject to Mrs. Welland.”

“Why not, James? We have the incoherent rambling words of that fellow which he uttered in his illness; they were very satisfactory.”

“Not at all, my dear friend,” replied Stewart; “they went so far, they no doubt cleared away much of the mist and fog which hung like a pall over our characters, but legally we have not yet been justified.”

“Why not then procure the testimony of the wife?” said Argyle.

“And make the man a witness against himself? No, David, no, 'Vengeance is Mine,' God says. I, for one, am perfectly willing to bide His time. Often I have cried out as I have looked at my sorrows, 'Watchman, what of the night?' and as often some bidden, blessed monitor within, or, to put it in another form, some messenger of the Good One, has whispered, 'Be still, the morning will come.' I know it, David, as well as I know that I exist, the day is not far distant when the declaration of my innocence will be as clear as the shining of yon brilliant planet.”

“Well, you are a patient, good, kind fellow,” replied Argyle, “but I cannot enter into the depth of your thoughts. But I know one thing, I am tired and shall turn in. Good night, old fellow, may God bless you, and make me like you.”

“Good night, Argyle, pray, my dear friend, remember the sublime height of the words of Jesus: 'men ought always to pray, and not to faint.'”

There were attractions which would have kept Stewart outside for awhile longer, even if his own thoughts would have allowed him to seek repose. It was now a most lovely night. The brilliant stars which decorate the sky in the Southern hemisphere, shone like diamonds set in ultramarine. To begin to enumerate them would be to raise up the temptation to write astronomically; and who could resist such a temptation? This brilliant array of first magnitude stars which stare at you as God's sentinels, looking at every portion of this earth; nothing is hidden, no nothing.

The gentle breeze, after the desolating whirlwinds which accompanied the tempest, was sweet and cool as the zephyr in the groves of Paradise. Life, health, vigor, hope, and joy came sailing along upon its wings, holding sisterly converse together how they could unite to do God's creatures good. Stewart was no mere speculator about anything, but his imaginative powers were vividly strong. To read a book was, to him, the reprint of it in a folio of etchings upon his brain. These he could produce ad libitum, and after using them in wrapt contemplation for awhile, back again he passed them into his portfolio of memory to serve the same purpose another time.

In a few moments he was in a reverie, and it fixed his soul in the deepest profundity of silent searchings of heart. It is possible to descend into a mine so deep as to be, in imagination, a being of another world, so strangely altered is everything around you. But look up the shaft and you will see daylight, look around and you read, ventilation has been provided, stand aside and you will see wealth rolling in the little truck which has come from some unknown abyss of black night. You are bewildered, but every power of the soul is centered on one thought; you are far beneath the surface. Stewart was so mentally. The past, the past, how it will come up! He thought and thought, and plunged deeper and deeper into the living whirlpool, the current carried him nearer and nearer to the centre, until at length he exclaimed, “It is too painful for me.” Then the climax came. He fell on his knees and groaned out the appeal, “O, righteous God, when is this vortex of earth's wrong to be filled up? Thy Holy One has cast Himself into the yawning gulf which no human thought could sound, but it is a vast abyss to some even yet. Has there not been sacrifice enough.” He unclosed his eyes as he said these last words, and instantly started to his feet to grasp a stranger by the arm, who stood within a yard of him.

CHAPTER XIX.—THE INTERVIEW.

“Hush!” said Judd, for it was he. “Hush, for your life, not a word. I mean ye no harm.”

“Who are you?” said Stewart, “and what brings you here?”

“My house,” said Judd pointing to the inside of the hut, “my house; but you are welcome.”

“Your house?” replied Stewart.

“Come this way, master. See, I no arms, no weapon. I mean nothing but good.”

Stewart hesitated a moment, but he was not one who could fear very much. However, he drew a pistol from his belt and silently followed his strange visitor, for such he regarded Judd beyond a doubt. Only about a dozen yards up the path did Judd lead the way, then he turned round and faced his former fellow-clerk. For a minute or two neither spoke, but stood looking at one another in the bright moonlight which now filled all the glen. At length the shepherd spoke: “Young man, I have heard all you have spoken to your friend.”

“Ah!” replied Stewart hastily, “how and where?”

“Listen, that humble place is my house, made by these hands. I lived in that place more than ten years.”

“Well,” said Stewart, “we are borrowing it for a night's lodging, and can pay for it.”

Judd lifted his hands, as if in repudiation of such a thought and replied, “I meant not that, no; I said, my house, in another meaning. Listen and calmly: when I came hither to-night, I did so to get fire, dry garment, and dry place to rest.”

“Perfectly natural,” said Stewart.

Judd stared very hard at the young squatter as he interrupted him, but soon resumed the thread of his discourse with the proviso, “don't stay me again. I am a man very reserved, and little used to conversation, I have that to ask which I want to know, and that to say which I want you to hear. First, I know you. Ah! be calm and listen, I beg.”

Stewart had started with an audible expression of surprise, for he saw in whose presence he stood, and he revealed his knowledge by the utterance of the single word, Julet.

“No, James Stewart, not Julet, but Judd—Judd the witness, Judd the murderer, some say, Judd the perjured, and Judd the convict. Heap it all on me, and I will not blink, nor blush, nor say a word to justify myself.”

“Surely—”

“Please, let me have my say, James Stewart, and then you shall have your's; all that I have just stated, and more, as you shall know some day. They thought me dead, but I am one arisen from the grave.—Nay, start not, I mean not the real grave, but arisen from the dead as your Bible says. I see you read it still. One minute more, nay, give me five, and I shall say all I have to say now. I not dead; the blacks took me in hand, healed my wounds, and I lived with them. Then I escaped, came up here, made that house, lived here—no, not quite ten years but some long time—turned shepherd, and here I am. Now, James Stewart, I heard you speak about my wife. I not catch the words, but I think you called her by some queer name.”

“Welland.”

“Yes, that was it. Where is she now?”

“As I learn, she is with a gentleman who is even now at Helidon, at Mr. Baines' station.”

“My God!” replied Judd, hastily. “What you say?”

Stewart repeated that which he had stated, and to it he added that he knew who she was by the letters which he had received from Colonel Tomlinson, the gentleman with whom she had come from England.

“What you mean? She not married? I saw no signs—”

“Oh, no; she is still as she was when you left her—a poor, good, kind, but I fear a brokenhearted creature, and so altered.”

“Good God! and I saw her, and knew her not. Oh! why you all come around me together just at the same time? I in a charmed circle, with all my enemies about me at once.”

“Henry Judd,” said Stewart, “this is strange, but is there not something which warrants you in expecting it? 'Be sure your sins—'”

“They have found me out. You mean this, I know,” said Judd, with such vehemence that Stewart instinctively raised his hand in which he held the pistol tightly grasped. There was no need of it, for the old man, so far from intending violence, retreated from the place where he stood, even further from the hut.

“But this is trifling,” said Stewart. “What do you wish to tell me more than you have?”

“James Stewart, should you know me as the Henry Judd?”

“No, I do not think I should; in fact, I may say I should not.”

“Would my wife know me, think you?”

“That is another question. Perhaps not. It appears you have seen her, and yet you knew her not.”

“I must and will see her. Yes; I must and will. And little Alice, and that was her too! I left her a mere baby, and now! It was dark when they arrived.”

Tears flowed rapidly down the cheeks of the storm-beaten criminal, and he sobbed audibly.

“Now, James Stewart! now, my Alice! And yet not mine. I forget how wide we must be separated.”

“Henry Judd,” said Stewart, deeply moved by the intense anguish of the old man, “I am not about to reproach you; but still I cannot forget that you have done me a fearful injury. How you did it, and why, I never could understand.”

“Mr. Stewart—for so I must call you—the Almighty has already cleared you; but I am a convict still—a subject for your pity, not your blame. I am glad to have seen you, and I think you can pardon me.”

“Pardon, Judd? It is useless for me to withhold that, even if I dared; and that, you know, I do not, cannot do. I use the Lord's prayer as I used it years ago: 'as we forgive our debtors.' This does not mean anything but what it says. 'As we forgive;' if I did not forgive, I could not be forgiven. Have you passed all these years, Judd, without thinking of these things?”

“No, Mr. Stewart, I have not,” said Judd in reply; and then he told the younger man of his bitter experience—how he found a Bible, and had read it, and even prayed to God for pardon and help.

It was an interesting episode in the lives of both these men. The one saw that the repentance of the other was real, but not scriptural; whilst the convict was humble, it was the humility of shame, not of love. The Christian thereupon preached the Gospel to the poor outcast, who listened like a little child, with his face wrapped in his mantle, assenting now and then by a simple “Yea.”

In answer to other questions, Judd told Stewart where he came from, whither he was bound, and some of his difficulties, his hopes, his fears.

But nothing could persuade him to reveal the history of his great crimes.

“Mr. Stewart, one hope remains to me in this world—that you will be my friend. I no right to ask it; nay, I deeply ashamed to ask such a thing of you; but you have just told me that Christ died for His bitterest foes, and that, to be a Christian, we must be like Christ. When I heard that, hope sprung up within me that you not cast me away.”

“No, Judd it is not for me to cast you away. I could not do it. But I do not see how my aid can prove of any use. It is useless to try to do anything with the authorities; discovery, I well know, will end in hopeless captivity. I see one hope: Colonel Tomlinson is at Mr. Baines' house, he was commandant when you came ashore. True, he has no power now, and, even if he had, I question if he could or would use it for you. Show me how I could help you, and I—even I—will do all I can.”

“Mr. Stewart,” replied Judd, “when I came down this path, and, by the smoke of your fire, discovered that strangers had invaded this glen, I took the bye-path which led to the top of yon hut. There I laid down, and saw you and your friend come outside. I not hear all that passed, but perhaps you will say I heard very little which was pleasant to myself.”

“Listeners seldom do,” replied Stewart.

“Mr. Stewart, if my life had hung upon a word, I could not have torn myself away from such a chance to hear about old times. I heard enough to see that in your friend I have a bitter enemy.”

“Can you wonder at it?” replied Stewart.

“No. But hear me. Will you prove your pardon to me by concealing the fact that you have seen me? Let me explain: I shall see my wife again; I will speak to her, that will prove if she recollects me. If so, she will not betray me, but you, Mr. Stewart—”

“Oh, do not fear that I shall betray you. I have no interest in doing so. But a good proof of identification may be had at once. Come to the hut and pass the night. David Argyle is there; test your question by his recognition of you, or otherwise. Upon this I advise you to act. His perception is very keen; if he recognises you it will be difficult to induce him to keep silence. I think he would certainly report the circumstance to the authorities, and there would be an instant search after you. It is worth a trial, but I will guarantee you shall not now be detained.”

Judd hesitated for a minute, then advanced and took Stewart by the hand, saying, “May God Almighty bless you. Ten years ago, had I met you your life would not have been worth much, if a strong hand could have struck you down. In mercy I was saved from this; in mercy spared to talk thus with you. Oh! the dread past—the irretrievable past! The horrible recollection of it haunts me like a spectre. What shall I do? oh, what shall I do?”

He covered his face with his hands and groaned rather than spoke these words.

“Let us pray,” said Stewart, “prayer alone can meet your case. God Almighty willeth not the death of a sinner.” He knelt on the hard rock as he spoke, but Judd still stood with his face covered with his hands, his strong frame quivering with emotion. The prayer was very solemn, earnest, and simple. It asked for the blessings that poor sinners most need—light, understanding, penitence, courage to confess past sins—and this portion of it was offered in the first person, so that the criminal might join in it. Not a word, however, was audible save those which Stewart spoke; but ere the prayer was ended, Judd was prostrate upon the ground.

CHAPTER XX.—SAM. BROWN AT HOME.

Another place was also the scene of hallowed devotion at the same moment. Not that the prayer was a particular request for this wretched but repenting man, Judd, but it was in the form of the beautiful petition in the litany, that He who rules and governs his church in the right way would be pleased to remember “the desolate and oppressed.” Mr. Brown, the overseer at Burnham Beeches, was a good worthy man, who, believing that it was his duty to serve God under all circumstances, thought that worship of the Supreme Being was a right and proper thing to set up in his own house. This night there was a special petition for the travellers, and that God would overrule their coming to the good of the people upon the station, and then the family retired to rest. The night was beautifully bright and clear after the storm. The Southern Cross, that beautiful emblem of hope to a fallen world, looked like a cluster of gems, watching, with eyes of fire, the little globe where rebellion against the Most High is running its course. Silently they pursued their way dipped in the southern azure, and began majestically to arise, as the humble clock at Rooksnest proclaimed the advent of another day. Midnight! What thoughts does it create? It is a fit division of day from day. It seems to suggest a door swinging on central pivots, which, at that moment, opens to allow the day, which is past, to slip into eternity, whilst on the other side, there comes out a new and untried period, which is destined to witness many a good deed, alas! many an evil one also. The evening and the morning meet in a common centre. “Farewell,” says one, as she returns to the treasure house of the Infinite, with a chart filled with events which have become historical. “Morning is coming,” and even as she speaks, onward the new period strides. This was four hours old ere the Cross reached the meridian, and then the first streaks of light shot upwards to announce the approach of day. 'Father's up,' then everyone else must be up. Such was the law at Rooksnest, although some of the small folk did not like turning out so soon; it was no use to object, every one was to put in an appearance before the sun. “Labor could be performed in the early morning which would be all but impossible in the strong heat of the day,” so Mr. Brown told his children, and it would be well for Queensland people if they were to endorse this opinion, and leave off attempting to commit a suicide with the assistance of the sun.

Men tempt Providence, they sweat out their lives at the hours when people in India are resting in cool shade, and they rest in idleness at the period when Indians are hard at work.

Bob had to get in the cows; Jenny was the dairymaid; Jacky professed to be head and chief in the garden; Harry fed the pigs and a few more creatures called livestock, but consisting of pets of various kinds; Sally was mother's right hand in the indoors department, and, in cooking, washing, baking, brewing, and other domestic portions of this well ordered establishment, there were few girls who were more useful than Sarah Brown. There were two others in the family, but, beyond the fact that they required a considerable amount of looking after to keep them out of mischief, it is impossible to say that they had any particular post or office to fill.

Rooksnest is a subsidiary part of Burnham Beeches, and its respectable owner is going over to the head station presently; but a journey without a breakfast?—No, no. There is no economy in starving the body. Black Bess, of course, was fed and groomed; and so much pains did her master take with the latter very excellent method of economising the health and power of the horse that breakfast was ready before he had completed his work.

“Steak and onions,” said Bob.

“Good,” said Harry, who came in sniffing the savory air. “What a blow-out I'll have!”

“Make your breath smell,” said Jenny.

“Just like your courting notions,” replied Jacky, to whom Miss Jenny had addressed her words.

Whereupon the young lady attempted to box his ears, and this, creating a universal laugh and no small amount of noise, attracted the attention of Sam. Brown, who began to fancy he smelt something, and following his nose he arrived in due course at the back door, to discover his dairymaid slapping her brother in much the same fashion as good mothers do their babies. They were a good-natured lot, however, and no serious consequences ensued; Jacky, to be sure, was rather red in the face, but no one thought of running for the doctor; Jenny, too, was fussy about her breath, which had become rather short, which means that she found it necessary to breathe a little faster than usual; but all the painful consequences vanished as the father led the way to a round table of merry glee, and “who could have helped it, Jacky,” said his father, “to see your shameful basting?”

“Ah, I'll have it out of her, see if I don't, when Robert comes,” replied Jacky.

But this only increased the glee; Jacky plunged deep into the breakfast to hide his red face, and such an excellent example was followed by all.

Grace, as it is called, a most unmeaning phrase—a blessing is the proper term, was asked before any were allowed to begin. It was not a form at Rooksnest, it was a sincere request for a favor without which no good ought to be expected. Good, famous appetites then addressed the savoury steak and well browned onions. There were no serious formalities in this 'break your-fast' among the Browns. Kind-hearted, but rough, they were thorough bush people, who had an eye to comfort rather than ceremony. So the morning meal was dispatched, the table cleared, the family Bible was placed on it, a chapter was read by the head of the family, and this was followed by a simple fervent prayer for a blessing and protection for the day. Mrs. Brown and Sarah proceeded then to get everything to rights, an important duty, in which is involved a universal principle, that the right way to commence is to turn everything upside down; ergo, you must go through Confusion street to get into Tidy Park. Mr. Brown was off as soon as prayers were over and he had saddled his mare, the two youngest children adjourned to Rubbish Corner, where they propounded hosts of novel plans to get into mischief; and the rest of the Brown community, in their several spheres, accomplished works and labors for the benefit of the united interest, and this was a triple cord of the strongest character which could not be broken.

Black Bess was in good humor, as good as her master. A log laid in the way? Black Bess thought it an excellent joke, and, with scarcely so much as a spring, over she bounded with a step light as a feather, then a miniature gulley with a murmuring stream, next a tolerable good specimen of a creek, and sometimes a fence lay in the way, but it was all the same to the beautiful creature, she gracefully bounded over all as if she fully entered into the fun of the thing. She sniffed and snorted and used every possible means within her power to express her opinion that it was a fine morning for an out. How she slyly glanced at some cattle which were grazing near the track; she was fond of mustering and was well up to her work in it. Scarcely needing the guidance of the rein, she wheeled round and round, turning the refractory cattle as if it were a matter of course that they must go where she bid them.

The direct road to the station was less than half a mile, but Brown was making a circuit this morning for the purpose of calling on Mr. Sinclair, who had for many years been connected with Burnham Beeches Station; some said as partner or mortgagee, but in reality he had embarked in one speculation in which the first owner of the station had shared with him the risk and the profit, and very large the latter turned out to be. This money he invested, and eventually purchased the station which he carried on for awhile with great success. But the pursuit was never to his liking, and he was glad to find a customer for the property in Colonel Tomlinson, reserving to himself about forty acres. He had contemplated such a step long before. He provided for the future by planning a large garden and orchard, which was planted with choice trees and shrubs, and christened The Vineyard. To this he had now added a substantial house.

Chapter XXI.—THE VINEYARD.

The vineyard was literally a Paradise. The whole of Mr. Sinclair's forty acres was included in one vast mound, upon the summit of which the house was built. It was of cedar throughout, built upon the Indian plan with ten rooms, divided into the library, dining, drawing-room, nursery, storeroom, office, and four bed-rooms, and in all of these there were indications that the owner was a man of taste, but that comfort was the ruling idea. The library only need be described in extenso. It was not defacto a library although it contained about 200 vols., but it was called by that name, for originally Mr. Sinclair had intended to have purchased a large quantity of the best literature—in fact to have made the library one of the pet institutions of The Vineyard. But time turned the bookworm into a listless reader. So the library became a studio, laboratory, an amateur workshop, and a medical consulting-room, for, to the arts and sciences in many forms, Mr. Sinclair became an enthusiastic devotee. Retorts and receivers, jars and crucibles, diagrams and plans, drugs and chemicals, tools and paint, a lathe and an electrical machine, an air pump and a camera obscura, sundry photographic apparatus, models of steam engines, and several cases of geological specimens, such were only a few out of many indications that, at The Vineyard, there was someone whose soul was bound up in philosophical pursuits. Mr. Sinclair was an artist also of no mean order, and on a mahogany easel in the centre of the room, upon this particular morning, there might have been seen a canvass ready strained and prepared for the painter's handiwork. Upon the walls there were hung several sketches, prints, paintings, and designs, some framed; but the most of them were mere studies, and to any other eye than that of the owner the arrangement of these would have appeared the most slovenly that could be imagined. But he understood best who had placed them in their several positions, and out of this chaos there had proceeded some beautiful creations, which adorned and beautified the dining and drawing rooms. Only one of his own paintings appeared amongst the mob—so Mr. Sinclair termed the designs to which reference has been made—but this occupied the post of honor. It was immediately above the mantle-piece, and represented an exquisite portrait, as large as life, of a little girl. One of its striking peculiarities was this, the moment one looked at it, the eye instinctively turned to the painter, and spoke with a single glance the words, “any one can tell who this is.”

Yes, it was the portrait of Mary Stirling Sinclair, of whom we shall know more in due course. She was an only child, and withal of so tender and gentle a disposition that the father often felt kind of unaccountable dread, lest the only one should some day dissolve into thin air and ascend to dwell in pure ether. So one day, from memory, he sketched the outline of her face, and adding to the various delineations of countenance and form as opportunity offered, he at length completed this admirable painting, and put it where he knew his daughter would be sure to find it. It was not long after that this came to pass. Running with great excitement to her father's study, she burst in upon him with a joyous laugh exclaiming, “Father, father, come and see, some one has taken me.”

“Taken you my child. What do you mean?”

“Oh! come, do come, now, and look, dear father. Ah! now, I see it all. Did you do it? Tell me, did you?”

“Me, me?” replied her father, “me? How could you think of such a thing?”

The child paused for a moment, and though still in doubt yet silently led the way to the drawing-room, where, upon the sofa cushion, the picture was placed: “There, father. Now, who is that?”

“Why, child, there can be no doubt who it is. I should say it was a portrait of Miss Mary Stirling Sinclair. But who can have painted it?”

“Ah, now, dear father,” replied the laughing girl, “now you are a great rogue. You want me to believe that you know nothing about it, but it is no good, for I recollect that you were drawing the face of a little girl some time ago, very much like this.”

“Well, dear,” said Mr. Sinclair, “I did paint it, but I did not think I could do it so well without the model.”

“But then you know, dear father, that every one calls you so clever.”

“Call me clever, ducky, do they? Who do you mean by everyone?”

“Oh, Mr. Brown does, and—and—I do.”

“Well done, little pet, and this is every one, is it? Ah! well!”

“Mr. Stewart says so, too. I heard him talking about you one day, and he said he only wished you would do as much for the good of others as you were clever enough to do at home, and you would be Mr. Coles' right hand man.”

“Indeed, Mary. When did he say this?”

“When first we heard about Colonel Tomlinson coming,” was the reply. “He said that the new owner at Burnham Beeches was a good man, and he hoped that he would help Mr. Coles, for it was hard work trying to persuade people to do well when others did not appear to take any interest in it.”

“Ah! He said this, did he?”

“Yes, father.”

“Well, well, child, I'll think about it. One kiss and away.”

Mr. Sinclair's life seemed bound up in that of the child. She was as fond and affectionate to both her parents as a child could be; and to this may be added, she had learnt and carried into practice much scriptural truth. In a word, Mary Stirling Sinclair was one of those fair creatures whom novelists generally style angelic. 'Fading away' was frequently visible upon her very pretty face; but this sometimes gave way to favorable symptoms of renewed strength, so that the child's life seemed to hang in a balance, and no one could tell which side would eventually prove the heaviest. Very few were the opportunities of doing good which were within her reach, even had she been old enough to be thus useful to others. But the Almighty had planted in that child's heart a strong disposition in this direction, which, if it had had room for expansion, would have made her a medium for the demonstration of good works, always so high a source of ornament to the human form. The child's anxiety was strongest about her father; there was a lurking suspicion that he was in danger; how could she help him?

CHAPTER XXI.—NEW CHUMS AND COLONIAL EXPERIENCE.

Mr. Sinclair was not in the house when Brown reached The Vineyard; but the sound of axe and maul near at hand plainly showed, as the servant said, that it was most likely he was up in that direction. So it turned out to be. Two new chums had been engaged, and had just entered upon their duties. Mr. Sinclair was clearing a corner of his land, and the men were told to split some posts and rails for a dividing fence. Like many more of this class, they knew a vast deal, but it was a useless knowledge which led to serious mistakes. “They could split, they could fence, they knew all about it.” From an early hour they had been “at it.” A large tree was felled after a tough job (they owned to this), but so well had they worked that a log had been sawn off, and splitting had commenced before the employer arrived. Alas! they were willing, but they lacked that very useful article—colonial experience. New-chum like, they had begun to split from the outside, instead of bursting the log.

“They always do the same thing,” said the vexed Mr. Sinclair. “I began to tell you how to go to work, and you both said you had seen it done.”

“So we have, sir,”

“But surely no one but a new hand was splitting where you say you saw this kind of work done.”

“Well, sir, he had not been in the country long, but then we thought he must know the way.”

“Ah! well, you have spoilt that log, my men, and thrown your time away; stand aside and let me show you how to go to work. After all perhaps we may make something of it.” He dismounted from his horse as he spoke, and throwing off his coat and tucking up his shirt sleeves with a steady, business-like air, he laid hold of the maul and the wedges, and the bursting process had just commenced as Sam Brown rode up.

“Good morning, Brown,” said Mr. Sinclair, “just in time to see the A B C of a tough job. Wrong, you see. It always is so.”

“Yes, sir, but everybody must have a larnin', I did the same thing years ago. I can remember it as if it was but yesterday. I had saw'd down the tree, cut off the log, and then in went the wedges. I got off a slab, 'but,' says I, 'this fellow looks a bit different from those I see elsewhere.' I couldn't make it out at all, and it was mighty hard work too, and yet the slab warn't a bit handsome, no, not a bit. My word it warn't.”

“Rather different from the work you would turn out now?” said Mr. Sinclair, laughing.

“You may well laugh, sir, but howsomdever on I went; I warn't goin' to be daunted with hard work, but soon I pulled up short. I began to calcerlate. At the most I should not be able, at this rate, to get more than six or eight slabs out of a log, and they were queer ones, and a good days work to get 'em. Well, sir, my calcerlations ended in, 'there is something ascrew here, or it's a caution.”

“What came next?”

“Why, down went the tools. 'Here's off,' says I, 'to see somebody else split.' I know'd that Bob Jones, him as come up here not long ago, sir. Ah! I see you recollect. Well, I know'd he was a splitting some posts, so Bess was saddled in a jiffy, and off we went on a voyage of discovery.”

“To find you were wrong?” said Mr. Sinclair. “I should think I did,” replied Brown. “Lor, sir! how they did laugh when I told 'em what I had did. 'New-chum splitting,' said Jones and his brother, 'and yet, Brown,' says they, 'you're not such a new hand by a long spell;' and I warn't, Mr. Sinclair, but still I had never seen it done before; but, bless you, five minutes made me master of the art and mystery of splittin' posts and rails, or anything else; and now you have had my confession, allow me to ask how you found out the way, Mr. Sinclair?”

“Oh! I cannot take much credit to myself. I was looking at my first log, cogitating which was the best place to put in the wedge, when a neighbor passed by. Says he: 'A little help is worth a load of pity;' 'that log looks as if it would run well;' so he made no more to do, but ran in the wedges. It was beautiful to see the log burst; talking all the while, until a dozen good billets lay before me. It was easy enough when you know the way.”

“Right, Mr. Sinclair, may we all see that in everything. That's what I say.”

The log by this time bad been split up into billets, some of which were reserved for palings, whilst from one of the best Mr. Sinclair obtained some good posts.

“Now, my lads,” said he to the men, “you see how to go to work, and if you look sharp, you may make up for lost time. Never be afraid or ashamed to ask how things are to be done. You have much to learn in a new country. Every one is ready to teach, but you must be willing to learn, or you will often go wrong.”

“That's right,” said Brown. “My word it is, and perhaps you won't think me interferin' if I warn these men about those dead trees which they have fired at the roots. Don't go near them lads, they may fall before you think. And now, Mr. Sinclair, if you have five minutes to spare, I would beg the favor of a word or two with you.”

Sam Brown had been at a good village school in Dorsetshire, and was a shrewd and clever man in his way, but a long residence in the bush had tacked on to his early education a number of phrases which either he or someone else had invented. “But how's the mistress?” is a very common phrase, and Sam Brown emphasized this inquiry as he again remounted his mare.

“Well, I thank you,” replied Mr. Sinclair, also mounting his horse as he spoke. “Come in and see her. I hardly know what to make of my little Mary sometimes; she was sadly ailing this morning. Well, to be sure, she is coming to meet us! Naughty little puss, to come through the wet grass. Miss Thomas should have kept you indoors.” As he spoke, he stooped down and lifted her on to the saddle. “Light, lighter still,” he muttered to himself, but the child caught the word, and looking up in his face, which was troubled for a moment as he spoke, she said with a sweet smile, “Heavier bye-and-bye, dear Father.”

Was it a passing cloud? Something cast a dark shade upon the father's face as the child spoke. He looked at her, then gently fondled her nearer to his heart, and tremblingly replied, “Yes.”

But the child raised her joyous voice in such a ringing peal of laughter that the cloud vanished before they arrived at the front door of The Vineyard. Here they found a dray loaded with various goods and chattels, including a very heavy lady and her two daughters. A good-looking man on horseback came forward to greet the owner of The Vineyard, and, to his great surprise, he saw before him the last man that he would have expected to have met in Australia, his old friend and neighbor in their early life at home, Mr. Gumby. Nearly twenty years had passed since they had met. Mr. Sinclair was the first to speak:

“Well, who would have thought of seeing you, friend Gumby?”

“Why, Mr. Sinclair, business was bad; the mill wanted repairs; my lease was out, and the fact is—I was unfortunate and—”

“Failed,” exclaimed the heavy lady who had been regarding the speaker with intense impatience as he replied to Mr. Sinclair. “Gumby found out a new plan for roasting coffee, and nothing would do but he must patent it—do be quiet, Gumby; yes, and a pretty patent he made of it. First, he went to London, and spent what he called a trifle; the mill was left for me to look after. Do you think I was going to look after a mill? not I, indeed!”

“I only asked you to attend to the accounts and look after the men,” replied her husband.

“Yes, I dare say, and you enjoy yourself in London; but, however, Mr. Sinclair, we must let bygones be bygones, you know. He sold two, yes, two; spent a little fortune in advertising, printing, and fees, as he called them, and after all he was glad to sell the whole thing, patent and all, for a ten pound note.”

“Want of capital, my dear.”

“Want of capital? want of sense, I say. Why, more than a hundred pounds was fooled away on it, wasn't that capital? After all, Mr. Sinclair, he must finish it up by dragging me all over the ocean. You should have seen me before I left home. I am terribly fallen away.”

It was well that the lady turned her head as she spoke, for there was a smile upon every countenance as she referred to her wasted form. She was stout, broad-shouldered, and looking the very picture of health.

“Well, never mind, Mrs. Gumby,” said Mr. Sinclair, “you must want something. We breakfast early, and have lunch about this time. Dear me, 'tis four hours since breakfast.”

“Four hours! You don't mean to say you have breakfast at 6?” said Mrs. Gumby.

“Six, my dear madam,” replied Mr. Sinclair; “yes we have a knack of getting up early. You must do so in this country.”

“I shall never do it, Mr. Sinclair.”

“O! yes, my dear, we shall,” replied Mr. Gumby. “We must all put our shoulder to the wheel.”

“But you never was such a fool as to think I meant to do what the people do here.”

“I think you will,” said Mr. Sinclair, “when you find that you must.”

“Must, must, Mr. Sinclair? Did you intend that for me? Must?”

“But I repeat it, Mrs. Gumby, and your best friend would tell you the truth as I do. You must do a great deal in this country you would never dream of doing at home. Industry has its reward here, idleness is always despised. But come, lunch is already laid.”

So saying, Mr. Sinclair assisted to get the ladies out of the dray, and having introduced them to Mrs. Sinclair and Sam Brown, they went into the house where, after the ladies had attended to a few little matters of toilette, and had returned to the dining-room, Mr. Sinclair invited them to his always hospitable and well spread table, taking his place at the head, and presiding with such hearty good humor that even Mrs. Gumby forgot all her troubles for a while, and chattered about 'bygones being bygones' to her heart's content.

“It does me good to talk, Mrs. Sinclair,” she said, addressing that excellent lady, “and, for one, I say let bygones be bygones. I have always found, and I'll say it before the twelve judges if necessary, that Mr. and Mrs. Sinclair were true and honest friends.”

Of course the host and his good wife bowed again and again, and by mutual consent they gave the talkative lady the fullest latitude of speech. This she would have continued to exercise to the full, but her husband, in a temporary lull of his amiable lady's full-charged battery, addressing Mr. Sinclair, said: “Why, dear me, sir, I had quite forgotten. Do you know what brought me up here?”

“Brought you!” sharply retorted his wife, “who are us then?”

“Brought us then,” said Mr. Gumby. “I am corrected, my dear. I forgot that I have a letter for you, Mr. Sinclair.”

“For me?” exclaimed Mr. Sinclair. “You should not forget letters, Mr. Gumby. Up here it is important.”

While the letter is being read let Mrs. Sinclair be introduced. She was of a class that you must live with to know all their excellencies, a sincere, devoted Christian, not one in name only, but from the heart. She had given the subject her earnest consideration in early life, and at seventeen years of ago had felt it to be her duty to acknowledge herself a follower of the Saviour. Henceforth every notion was tinged and influenced with the hallowed feeling which is inseparable from a holy life. In her home there was a scrupulous faithfulness in the discharge of every duty. The most unwearied pains were taken to make the house a happy, healthy, comfortable resting place. Her husband's life and welfare was to her a primary consideration; her daughter's education and religions and moral training most painstaking pleasure. There was no mere fanciful enthusiasm in these or any other duties she thought it right to fulfil; her life was one of steady perseverance in a marked out path, and nothing could induce her to swerve from it. Now this was not perfection, for those who knew Mrs. Sinclair best, heard quite enough to convince them that she felt the common anxieties which temptation and an imperfect state are sure to produce. Others called her holy, consistent, devoted, but she would tell you that “every heart knoweth its own bitterness,” and that the difficulties of acting well her part were great. Mr. Sinclair was a Christian nominally, but practically he lived to gratify self. He was a moral and good man as the world calls men good, but there was no hearty love to God in his life. Religion as he practiced it was stern duty, love had no place in it. If God could be blotted out of his memory sometimes, he would have felt relieved, but as this was impossible he followed Him far enough away to lose the influence of a devout life, in a formal round of obligatory duties. Mrs. Sinclair was the opposite to this. Her religion was of the Mary of Bethany class, with just enough of the Martha characteristic to make her an admirable housewife, a devoted mother, and a clever manager.

“My dear,” said Mr. Sinclair, after having read the letter which Mr. Gumby had brought, “I have the pleasure to inform you that our friends are to be neighbors. Mr. Gumby is engaged as storekeeper to the colonel.”

“Coming down in the world, isn't it?” said Mrs. Gumby. “But then it can't be helped.”

“There is no disgrace in any honest employment in this country,” said Mr. Sinclair, “but I was about to add that Colonel Tomlinson begs I will do him the favor to see that a few orders he has transmitted are attended to, so I shall ride over, and if you will accompany me I shall be very glad. There are some little matters of ladies' contrivance that you will be well able to manage, but I should be sure to bungle over. Miss Tomlinson writes a postscript about them. Mr. and Mrs. Gumby we shall see installed in their new home, and shall be glad to know that they are happy.”

“Ah! more moving, I knew how it would be. Is it far that we have to go? That horrid dray! But perhaps you are going in your carriage, Mr. Sinclair? and—”

“Carriage, my dear madam, we have no such thing, I assure you. Mrs. Sinclair always rides her horse, and finds the exercise beneficial.”

“Then there is no help for it—”

“Except you walk, my dear.” Mr. Gumby knew that the interruption was dangerous.

“Walk! Me walk two miles in this oven of a country? Oh! dear, but this is just the way with you always. It will be the death of me, I am sure. Come on girls, get ready; your father is determined to sacrifice us all. The sooner we are dead and buried the better.”

“Oh don't, say so, Mrs. Gumby. You do not know yet how mercifully God has provided for you.” Mrs. Sinclair spoke in tones of pity, and added strong inducements to hope for brighter days. But they fell upon stony ground, and produced only a temporary impression, Alas! Mrs. Gumby's heart was one great piece of self.

The word was written upon it so repeatedly, that there was no room for anything else. Her husband was a honest, good meaning man, who, if he had had a different wife, might have shone in the sphere in which God had placed him; but his wife kept him in the constant view of Grumbleland, and the people who inhabit that region are wretched managers, so home became a hospital of every family complaint. Her unjust criticism of all his actions made his life wretched, and if it had not been for the restraining influence of religion, that woman would have surely driven her husband in despair to find relief in scenes of dissipation.

But where has Mr. Brown been all this time? Why, he very soon departed for Burnham Beeches. “Anywhere,” said he to Mr. Sinclair, “to get away from your friend's long tongue.” The two Miss Gumbys had accompanied him. During the progress of the lunch, they were exceedingly glad to accept the invitation of Miss Mary Sinclair to “come and see her chickens.” So, in companionship with Miss Thomas and her little charge, the beauties of The Vineyard were inspected and admired, then a little walk was proposed and gladly assented to. The direction taken was towards Burnham Beeches, and Mr. Brown overtaking them, informed the young ladies that their papa and mamma were coining on immediately, and advised them, as they were so far on the road, to go on with him. Miss Thomas assenting, and stating that she would return and inform Mr. and Mrs. Gumby that they were gone on, the two Miss Gumbys reached the station a full hour before their parents.

CHAPTER XXIII.—WHAT A PARADISE!

Before the new arrivals started for their destination, Mr. Sinclair invited them to look round The Vineyard. The first place they visited was the garden in front and on either side of the house. Immediately before the door a long walk had been planned, which was planted on either side with vines, and inside these, at a proper distance, a row of orange trees. This long walk, by a series of bye-paths, gave ingress to the inner garden, which was laid out in beds of every imaginable shape, with gravelled paths; and beyond this was the orchard. This orchard abounded with fruit trees, representatives of almost every fruit which could have the least possible chance of growing in the climate. The trees were loaded with fruit, but as yet none was ripe. The flower beds also were a constant source of exclamation. How beautiful! Mrs. Sinclair had detected some new variety which was just bursting into bloom, and her enthusiasm for the moment served to dispel the lukewarmness of the elder lady. But the poultry yard, the dairy, the kitchen garden, and the well-arranged store interested her most highly, and when the good host and his wife showed them over the house, and exhibited some domestic conveniences, which, though simple, added very much to family happiness, Mr. and Mrs. Gumby simultaneously exclaimed, “What a paradise!”

By this time Miss Thomas had returned. She was the governess in Mr. Sinclair's household and the superintendent of the Sunday school at Burnham Beeches, for this station had its church, its regular appointed minister, and the privileges of Christian ordinances. Mr. Sinclair had contributed largely to the erection of the church, and professed to attend the simple but excellent services which were held within its walls.

Are there not many squatters who might, with benefit to themselves, their families, and employees, do the same thing? Surely if it is right to worship God at all, He ought to be sought after in the bush as well as in the city. Albeit, there are some who stoutly assert that there is no necessity for such worship five miles out of town.

An excellent man was the minister of this little church, who hitherto had been maintained principally by Messrs. Sinclair, Stewart, and Argyle. He was not a strong man, however, and would have been unequal to the duties of a regular charge as it is termed, but at Burnham Beeches, in a little cottage which had been provided for him, he found a sanctuary and a home, and enjoyed a quiet, useful, and happy life.

The church was a neat structure of hardwood, with Gothic windows tastefully glazed with stained glass in small groupings of Scripture history. The building would seat about fifty persons, for whose accommodation cedar benches were provided, which were free to all. A pulpit of the same material, with its crimson cushion, completed the furniture of this House of God. But the exterior surroundings of the church were very picturesque. Shade in abundance was provided by a semi-circular grove of trees, around which seats were arranged, and horses could be tied up in the grove itself. Then the church lawn was planted with flowers, and these were so arranged that there were always some in bloom. “Is not this a little paradise?” Such words were constantly heard. Nevertheless, just outside the fence the little cemetery protested that death reigned here, and thorns in the hedge and thistle on the burial ground claimed for sin a place, of which they were the correct interpretation.

“Would the new proprietor support the church?” Such was the inquiry from many. As the question was put to the Rev. Edward Coles on the Sabbath when little Mary Stirling Sinclair discovered her portrait, it was somewhat anxiously answered. As it was put three weeks later, and answered, “Yes, dearest, he will,” the intellect would have been very dull not to have discovered that between the minister and Miss Thomas there existed an understanding of a very peculiar character. We shall see. Strange things do happen, and stranger far would it have been if the minister, a single, lonely man, had been brought into constant companionship with the governess, in the exercise of every kind of Christian work, without feeling that there existed between them a bond of sympathy which drew them to each other as the needle of the compass will claim its affinity to the north. Miss Thomas came to the vineyard as governess; Mr. Coles saw her, and love conquered both.

CHAPTER XXIV.—BURNHAM BEECHES.

Mr. Samuel Brown was escorting the Miss Gumbys around the garden when Mr. and Mrs. Sinclair rode up to the station, accompanied by Mr. and Mrs. Gumby. The two young ladies were, of course, greatly pleased by what they saw; had it been otherwise they must have been destitute of the slightest particle of what is known as the sanguine temperament. Burnham Beeches was a beautiful place; its only drawback was the monotonous level on which the house was built. But to compensate for this there was a lovely prospect over the immense lowlands which stretch out to the ocean, for, like Leyton Station, it was situated at the very summit of the Range.

Miss Julia Gumby was a little in advance of eighteen years of age, tall, and good-looking, as the term is understood. She was also a very sensible girl, in addition to her other attractions, and tolerably well educated, but no talker like her mother; on the contrary, she was reserved and thoughtful, and read much, the reading not being of the lightest character, which is too often the case. Her sister, Miss Charlotte Gumby, was, on the contrary, an enthusiastic admirer of sensational romance. Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp would have kept her in ecstacies for hours; no great fault, considering that it has operated in a similar manner upon many thousands. After all, Miss Lottie did not waste very much time over such literature. She was sixteen years of age, and pretty. Some people called her beauty waxen, like a doll, but it is difficult to discover any particular compliment in this description of female excellence. If all the dolls in the universe could be brought into one focus, so as to concentrate all their grandeur into one representation of the human face divine, yet the flesh and blood reality must be preferred.

“How do you think you will like the country?” said Sam Brown, on their way to the station.

“Pretty well, Mr. Brown,” replied Miss Julia; “but it is too hot for Europeans.”

“Hot! yes, 'tis hot; but one gets used to it.”'

“Some time must elapse before that can be the case,” said Miss Lottie. “The mosquitoes troubled us frightfully when we landed. Our hands and faces were so marked. Oh! dear me, Julia, was not I a fright?”

“Rather, dear; but all of us were in the same plight. Do they live all the year round, Mr. Brown?”

“No, thank God, we have a little case in that respect, yet we don't seem to mind 'em after a bit.”

“I don't think I shall ever get used to them,” said Miss Julia. “Dear me, Mr. Brown, last night we had to camp out.”

“Such fun,” laughingly exclaimed Miss Lottie; “mamma was ready to go into hysterics when a lot of wild dogs set up howling near us.”

“You heard them rascals, did ye? I can't say that they makes a pleasant sound.”

“No; but Julia would have it they were wolves, and wolves always attack people. Mamma wanted to climb up a tree, but papa said he was sure that no tree near them would hold her.”

“Rather personal, miss,” said Brown.

“Oh! but you know papa says all sorts of things without meaning any harm. He is a thorough good old dear, and loves us all.”

“Yes, but Lottie,” said Julia, “we were all afraid, and the mosquitoes, oh! dear me, I was tormented.”

Sam Brown smiled as he asked if they were Scotch greys?

“Scotch greys, Mr. Brown? I am sure I do not know what their color was,” said Lottie.

“Excuse me, miss,” said Brown, “I meant their size. They were not young elephants, I suppose?”

“Elephants! Mr. Brown,” exclaimed both the young ladies, “you are joking now.”

“No, no; I didn't mean the word as you do; but we have in this country some who are venomously active. They will pounce upon ye, and sting and worry until one is almost wild. I have had my hands raised an inch with swelling, and the inflammation has not been down for days. If these fellows were the flies which plagued old Pharaoh, I wonder how he could have resisted the Almighty; they have made me run for it many a time. But how do ye like the place, for here we are? I have taken you in this way to see the church first; and if you will excuse me for a moment, I will see if the parson is at home, and get the keys.”

In a few minutes Brown returned, and with him the veritable parson aforesaid, before whose presence Miss Julia felt somewhat reserved; but as for Miss Lottie, she was at home with him in five minutes. The usual introductions being exchanged, the church was opened and inspected. In a trice Miss Lottie was in the pulpit, looking at the very limited congregation as if she would deliver to them an excellent discourse, provided the aforesaid parson was away. Mr. Coles was not a man to hedge himself in with peculiar priestly notions of sanctity. He was a man, and with the old Roman citizen, he could say, “Nothing which affects the welfare of mankind can be uninteresting to me.” In the pulpit he was a man, preaching the Word of God as one of like passions with the people whom he addressed, bringing his own experience to the light of the Gospel, and with that light comforting, warning, intreating, exhorting, instructing, but in a spirit which made the people see that his ministry was for their welfare. Out of the pulpit the most humble person in the congregation was acknowledged as worthy of his esteem and labor; in the spirit of his Master, he gathered up all the fragments. Difficulties had assailed him where he had expected to find nothing but the most hearty goodwill; but it was his habit to take them all to God, trying to live down objections, doing his duty and leaving the result. The services of his church received his careful attention. In making the House of God comfortable and attractive, he said, “Such a place ought to be the best furnished of all.” He had seen many a church or chapel with broken windows, and other sad evidence that no one cared much for the sanctuary. It always struck him that the condition of the house of God was a good criterion to judge of the character of a people.

“How very neat and pretty, sir,” said Miss Julia, “and everything so clean and orderly.”

“Yes, miss, I like to see it so,” replied Mr. Coles.

“A good place to speak in, I should judge,” chimed in Miss Lottie. She spoke from the pulpit.

“Perhaps you will give us a sermon,” said Mr. Coles. “It is not often we have a lady in the pulpit.”

“Sir, please pardon me, but I always try to look at a place of worship from this stand point. We all know what it is to look at the preacher, but I like to know how the preacher looks upon the people.”

“Very good, miss,” replied the minister, “it is not a bad notion, I confess. Certainly I have felt the vast difference between sitting as a hearer and standing up as a preacher.”

“And now, Mr. Coles, as I have escorted these young ladies thus far,” said Sam Brown, “perhaps you will not object to show them round the garden and the house. Hullo! here is the dray and Mr. and Mrs. Sinclair. Now, sir, you will have a goodly company to relieve the quiet of your life.”

“But it has it's temptations, Brown, which I fancy tend to make a man withdraw into himself, and so to neglect others.”

“When you feel that a-coming on to you, Mr. Coles, the best thing is to jump on your horse and run over to me, and I will give you a little bit of work which will set all your blood gallopin' I warrant you will have none of your mono—What do you call it? I can't remember those queer words.”

“Monotony.”

“Ah! that's it. Now good-bye, Miss, and you, Miss lady parson, we shall be better acquainted by-and-bye, I warrant. Run over to us when you got monot—. Here I go again, monotonous. I call it ugly, sir, that's what I feel. I get ugly to everybody, and when that comes on to any of our folks, my old lady says, 'physic 'em,' and the physic produces such a change. My physic is a ten miles ride, and I leave all the ugliness behind, and return home quite a good lad. My word, don't I eat after it, that's all!”

“Excellent plan, Mr. Brown, I'll try your recipe.”

More introductions, and then the whole party proceeded to the inspection of garden, house, dairy, &c, &c. The first person to pass an opinion, was Mrs. Gumby.

“Is this the station, Mr. Sinclair?”

“It is, my dear madam.”

“Well, well, this is a place to bring a respectable family to!”

“Oh! pretty tolerable, Mrs. Gumby. The colonel, no doubt, will add what he wants. That is how things are done in this country.”

“Add to it what he wants! I should say he will have to add a precious deal. Why, it isn't so good as our men's cottage at home.”

“Perhaps not,” said Mr. Sinclair; “but you will have to excuse me while I go to see if your house is ready. I am afraid the quarters will be rather close. Mr. Coles, I will leave you to entertain the ladies, if you please.”

“With all my heart, my dear sir. Young ladies, mamma will like our church, do you not think so?”

“Oh! yes; indeed you will, mamma,” they both replied, “it is a pretty place.”

“Oh! I dare say, everything is pretty if you can see it so. For my part I have not seen anything pretty in this country yet.”

“Let us hope that the beautiful is all to come,” said Mr. Coles. “It is not all on the dark side, I can assure you. The clouds have silver linings, have they not, Mrs. Sinclair?”

“Indeed they have, Mr. Coles. We have far more than we deserve, and any home, however humble, is made to shine brightly if God dwells there. We lived in a far more humble way than you will, Mrs. Gumby, for some long time.”

“Ah!” grunted Mrs. Gumby, “you are Job's comforters, all of you, I can see. You were young. Gumby and me are not so young as we were.”

“You are in the enjoyment of good health, my dear madam,” said Mr. Coles, “and this is a great blessing.”

“Very great, indeed,” said Mrs. Sinclair, “and having food and raiment, let us be there with content. We live, in this country, much in the open air, and as to comforts, why a cosy hammock will make a man feel that he is in Elysium, especially if he has his pipe.”

“Oh!” said Miss Julia, “mamma will find all will come right, we intend to do all we can to make her happy.”

“Well done!” shouted Mr. Sinclair, who had just returned, “I know you will, I saw you were the right sort. Father has been telling me some of your domestic accomplishments. Why, my dear, these young lasses can wash, cook and bake, cut out and make their own clothes, keep accounts, play the piano, draw, and beyond all, they are good gardeners, and don't mind a bit of scrubbing.”

“Capital!” replied Mrs. Sinclair. “Why, you have a little fortune in them. You need not blush, young ladies, I only wish that more of our Australian lasses were like you. Get on? Why it would be a wonder if you did not succeed.”

The compliment seemed to gratify the hard-to-please mamma, who thereupon admitted that she had no reason to complain, and all she regretted was that hundred pounds which Mr. Gumby had thrown away on his coffee-roaster. It would have enabled them to begin squatting on their own account.

“A hundred pounds, my dear, why a thousand would not be enough,” said her husband.

“Nor two, for such a station as this,” said Mr. Sinclair; “not even ten thousand and more.”

“You don't say so!” For some moments the reasoning faculties of the coffee roaster's lady were allowed to have a little silent talk with themselves, during which Mr. Gumby took the dray down to the house allotted to them, and the Miss Gumbys accompanied him. The Rev. Mr. Coles also took this opportunity to return home, for the reverend gentleman had invited Mr. and Mrs. Sinclair to take a friendly cup of tea at his house with the new arrivals, and he was somewhat anxious lest his retired habits should interfere with the proper rites of hospitality.

CHAPTER XXV.—NIGHT THOUGHTS.

Judd no sooner entered his old home than he divested himself of his wet garments, and hanging them on some pegs which he had put in the wall for this purpose long before, he accepted Stewart's offer of the blanket which he had reserved for his own use, upon the assurance that he could not sleep, and intended to watch.

“I will watch,” said he, in a whisper. “Fear not. You are excited—lie down, sleep will restore you.”

The silence of night now reigned supreme. It was just before midnight, strange, mystical period, when the air seemed to grow colder, and the watcher gathers up his mantle closer. In spite of all the religious philosophy which one can practice, the only aid which it brings to us is profound reverence. “When thou wast under the fig-tree, I saw thee.” Did this mean that He merely cast a look on Nathaniel to see what he was about? By no means. He was there as truly as He was visibly breaking bread at Emmaus. Now turn the thoughts to the Joseph of Arimathea tomb. One was gazing into it with glistening eyes, the fullest of heart sorrows welling up in the most profound density of overwhelming grief. Did it want the two or three then to insure the presence of the Great God with us? No; He withheld even the footfall of a step from the notice of the suffering, loving, holy minded saint, to say first of all, “Woman, why weepest thou?” In the same way, in the whisper of the evening zephyr, or the deep sonorous lessons of the hurricane, or in the mysterious silence of midnight, He draws near to us. Often have we sung in feelings of rapture, in Mendelsohn's wonderful Elijah, “And in that still voice onward came the Lord,” and felt it too. People may call it enthusiasm, but music is a heaven born art, and the power, the influence which it exerts is not to be weighed or measured. God came near to the prophets of old, as they, with harp accompaniment, sought Him; and James Stewart, in the stillness of the supernatural music of the midnight in Hermit Glen felt His presence. He covered his face with his hands—these were his mantle—and thought.

Into the thoughts an angel poured some reflections about the past, promises about the future, and assurances that all was working for good. Yes, it was so; if any dispute it, give the proof on the reverse side. “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister to them who are heirs of salvation?” What do they do in this ministry? Look on, walk around us, merely witness our actions? No, no, they are not dummies, but realities. Ask the young man whose head is bowed down in thought in that rough cavern, and he would tell you that life would have been all but insupportable to him on account of the horrors he had endured, had it not been for this sacred influence which seemed to be constantly present to comfort him.

But what a confusion of images, real living personages, passed before him as he gave the rein to his thoughts. They came as shadows, but each one bore with it a living fact, which they dropped in the treasury of his recollections.

Again and again these mementos dazzled or perplex him in turn, as they appeared grievous or joyous. His class in the Sunday-school at Southampton, ah! this sent a thrill of joy through his soul, as he thought of some from whom he had heard, who were walking in the ways of truth. The poor stricken creature before him, the author of all his misery, this subject was too painful for him. He thought, and the silence grew more intensely monotonous, until a slight sound which escaped from one of the sleepers aroused him to a listening position. For a moment he knew not who it was who was speaking, for it was talking in sleep that he heard, but soon found that it was Judd who had fallen into a deep sleep. He could not distinguish what he said, but as he watched and listened very intently, he saw evident signs that one of the others was on the point of waking, and in a minute afterwards Argyle raised himself on his elbow, looking at his comrade with somewhat of a perplexed countenance. The moon was shining brightly into the cave exactly where Stewart sat upon the ground leaning against one of the door posts, bringing him into the strongest possible relief with the light and shade.

“What is up?” said Argyle.

“Hush!” replied Stewart, pointing to the old man, who lay apart from the others.

Turning his head in the direction indicated, Argyle peered into the semi-darkness but could make out nothing in particular which warranted such caution, so again he spoke: “What is it, James?”

Stewart beckoned to him in reply, and walking outside the hut Argyle followed.

“There is some one lying where I pointed, David, he came in after you were asleep, wet and weary. He is the man who made this place and lived here.”

“Ah! What kind of a monster is he?”

“Not a Caliban exactly, although he looked nearly as wild and haggard as many likenesses of that celebrated character which I have seen.”

“What did he say?”

“He asked what we were doing here. I told him we were travellers, and the storm had compelled us to make use of the first shelter we could reach.”

“But who can the fellow be who lived such a hermit life in this wild place?” said Argyle.

They both spoke in a low whispering tone of voice, and Stewart replied, “The man is a shepherd, and is driving some sheep up to Burnham.”

“Driving sheep? A pretty shepherd to leave them to shift for themselves.”

“So I thought, but I fancy he is ill; he was terribly excited, wet to the skin, and I do not think he knows much about sheep driving.”

“I should think there will be precious few left in the morning,” said Argyle. “Is he asleep sound enough to let a fellow look at him?”

“No; don't do that,” said Stewart, laying his hand on the shoulder of the other, “don't disturb him.”

Argyle looked steadily at the speaker as if he would read some explanation of his agitated manner, but he could not solve it. The intense silence, unbroken by any sound, except the hard breathing of the sleepers and the continued muttering of Judd, seemed to startle Argyle, for he kept turning round as if to catch the words which the sleeper uttered, and now the scene and the incidents attending it became exciting to both the young men. A strange, undefinable sort of mysticism hung like a cloud around their existence at this moment. The air was chill also, and they both shivered. It was the set time for the revelation. Contact with anything imaginary or unseen will produce its corresponding influence. Hamlet, on the ramparts at Elsinore, says, “The air bites shrewdly, it is very cold,” and terror, in its degrees of vehemence, chills the blood, strikes dumb the spirit, makes cowards of us all.

Argyle felt this as Stewart laid his hands on his shoulders, looking keenly into his face saying, “The man in there is known to both of us.”

“Judd, then, by Heaven!” replied Argyle.

“You are right, my friend, but do not agitate yourself.”

“James Stewart,” said Argyle, with some vehemence, “I have sworn to deliver that man up to justice if ever I met him again in this world.”

“And I have passed my word that he shall be unmolested so long as he is in my sight.”

“James, that promise is not binding on me at least.”

“No, David; but respect for my word must leave him free according to my promise. I demand, nay, forgive me, I intreat this at your hand.”

“It matters little,” said Argyle, in a discontented tone; “as soon as he leaves, these hands shall try to arrest him.”

“Why, my dear friend, why should you bear revenge so keenly upon your spirit? The man's crimes have been deeply punished, depend on it. See this desolate home! he tells me that here he has lived for nearly ten years. Surely the fire of vengeance will be suffered to burn out somewhere.”

“Not till its victim is consumed,” replied Argyle. “This man's crimes need a hundred pursuing feet to bail him up, if it were only to hear the word of confession from his lips, why and how he did those accursed things. I think you are wrong, James, in your notions. It is compromising felony.”

“Have your read the parable of the unmerciful servant, David? He had nothing to pay, and his lord freely forgave him; but he went and took another by the throat, and persecuted him with vengeance. What did the Saviour say about him?”

“Very true; but then, according to this reasoning, courts of justice must be altogether unnecessary, and prisons places of unjust torture.”

“No, no, for even by the direction of Scripture we are to count some as heathens and infidels, if they persistently refuse to hear us.”

“Where can you find a wretch—”

“Don't use strong epithets, David.”

“I cannot help it, James,” replied Argyle, “the villain first of all ruined you—nay, give me leave to go on—he did not look ahead and say, I am helping James Stewart to a fortune, and a happy, free, and honorable life. No; he only saw in the future, James Stewart a convicted felon, whom no one would look upon, no one would receive, none would take by the hand; in short, he conspired to work out your destruction. Hear me, if you had met your death in the ship which brought you here, reeking as it was with the worst of fevers, what could have compensated for that?”

“Eternal glory, I hope, David!”

“Ah! yes, and I admire your consistent belief in those things; but I hold that a man's life thus shortened by another's act, is actually cut off—well, murdered—so I regard it.”

“Yet it is the will of God,” replied Stewart, with a very quiet, subdued voice.

“I reason by law and justice,” said Argyle.

“And if we are all to be judged by law and justice,” replied Stewart, “where would any of us be?”

“Men, wiser than I am,” replied Argyle, “have instituted courts of justice, as I know to my cost. This fellow, by his villainous treachery, is a perjured hypocrite, an abominable forger, a cruel murderer, and you are his advocate. I cannot say that I admire your policy.”

“Oh! do bear with me, David, I intreat you. I do not defend the man, but if you had seen him as he knelt and said 'Amen,' and wept and groaned about his past life, you must have been moved. I could not lay a hand on him for any reward, or desire to avenge the past.”

“I have not a doubt that he is sorry,” replied Argyle. “Judas was sorry and wept, I doubt not, and tore his hair and cast the money down, beseeching the old bloodthirsty priests and rulers to undo what his greediness led him to do at their desire. But it was too late, and, by-the-bye, you forget that even our Lord has said about some, 'the door was shut.' In other words, their hope of happiness was gone, they were too late.”

“This is trespassing on the sacred prerogative of One who is the Judge of all. We cannot pretend to discern as He can. He can never be wrong, but we do err, and frequently.”

“We shall never agree upon such nice definitions as these,” said Argyle. “I say the man is worthy of death, and if these hands—”

“Can do what, young man?” The voice was that of the man of whom he was speaking. With the rug thrown over his shoulders, he stood within a yard of David Argyle, the three convicts met in a triangle. Breathless, for a moment they gazed on each other, neither attempting to move; but Stewart stepping forward as if to stand between the other two the act was understood by each, for Argyle angrily cried out, “James Stewart, I will have no interference now!”

“Nor is there any need, Mr. Stewart,” replied Judd, “I have heard the most of your conversation with this man, and know now what I have to expect. I absolve you from the promise you made to me. If I am to be a marked villain as Mister Argyle says, let it be so. I give you both the chance; you go your way and I will go mine; if not, let it be war to the knife.”

“War to the knife, you desperate rascal,” shouted Argyle. “Why did you not say, war with the knob of a riding whip?”

He rushed upon Judd as he spoke. The blanket fell from the old man, and his hands grasped the bare shoulder, for Judd was now completely naked. By this time all the sleepers were aroused, and the confusion was indescribable. Both Judd and Argyle fell violently to the ground, the former being underneath the powerful grasp of the young squatter, who was trying to untie his cravat handkerchief in order to bind the hands of his opponent, while Stewart was calling to the men to release Judd from his grasp. None of the men, however, knew what to do; they did not understand the affair; at last Stewart laid his hand on Argyle, which, causing the latter to turn sharply round, Judd seized the opportunity, and with a tremendous effort he actually threw his opponent off from him with such force that before a hand could be stretched out to save him he fell over the rocky platform on which the scene had occurred, and, rolling from stone to stone, from point to point, with a cry of horror Stewart saw his friend drop from the last projecting stone into the rushing stream which was roaring with the might of tempest waters through the glen. It was all the work of a moment, but in the same instant Judd sprang up and merely shouting, “You that can, follow me,” rushed down the chasm by a way known only to himself and leaping from ledge to ledge, where it seemed no one could possibly stand, the frightened men who still stood on the cliff saw him plunge into the boiling stream, and in a minute or two after his voice was heard, now some distance down the glen, shouting for assistance. Stewart was perfectly paralysed, he knew not what to do, nor did either of the men seem as if they could stir a step. In fact, it appeared impossible for anyone to follow Judd with the slightest chance of life. In this interval of terrible suspense, the shoutings still ringing in their ears, Black Bill, looking up into his master's face, cried out, “Sich a faithful dog, massa,” and instantly bounded over the precipice. They watched him as his natural instinct led him to take the most direct route to the place where the shouting was now most vehement. It was trying in the extreme to stand and hear the cries, none daring to move; the noise which the raging waters made as they rolled along with a force which nothing could resist was enough to appall the stoutest heart. At last one of the men managed to get down upon a large ledge of rock, which was fully six feet below the platform on which the rest stood, and, assisted by Stewart and the rest, another followed. It was almost impossible to stand anywhere, the stones were so loose and exceedingly slippery, but still on they managed safely to go. They had nearly reached the torrent when a louder cry, which they all know to be Black Bill's cooey, raised the hope that Argyle had been rescued, and in another minute this was confirmed by a still louder shout, “He-ar, he-ar, sich a faithful dog, massa I got massa David.” The two men answered with a shout, and with almost incredible exertions, with numberless falls and not a few bruises, they crawled along the sides of the glen, directed by the continued cooey of Black Bill. To this they kept replying, but fully five minutes must have passed ere they reached the spot where he stood. Apart from the associations of the moment, the spectacle which the men gazed upon created mingled feelings of admiration and terror. From the mountain side the waters rushed down in a number of streams which, uniting at last in one, presented the appearance of a boiling cauldron, which formed a hundred little whirlpools. The bed of the torrent here varied incessantly: now as a broad river, then it narrowed into a channel of a couple of yards or so, and here it waged incessant warfare with stones and logs, groaning and roaring as if a part of its mission was to remove obstacles by terror, but in one place two immense stones had fallen into the bottom of the glen, they were fully five feet in depth, and nearly ten in length, and tolerably flat upon the top. Both these stones had fallen so us to form a natural breakwater, with only about eight inches of space between them. The waters in a moderate rain ran quietly through this gap, but when a storm swelled the stream to a raging torrent they could not be carried off in sufficient volume by this outlet. Then a mass of water accumulated on the other side until it flowed over the tops of the two stones, and fell in a cataract on the other side. In the centre of the stones the rush of water through the gap was then tremendous, and this being precipitated far beyond the face of the stones, met the water as it descended from the top and a beautiful spectacle was the result. But just above the same spot another watercourse poured a considerable volume into the glen, and this meeting the other stream, seemed to dash it back against the water which fell over the stones and thus the spectacle was increased in interest. It was here that David Argyle was rescued. Much injured he fell into the stream, but managed to catch some branches of shrubs and trees, by which he was supported for a while. He knew not how he did it, so he said afterwards, but he seemed to float along, still holding something which supported him. It was in reality one of those long vines which are found growing in scrubs which he had snatched as he fell. Onward he rolled and floated for a dozen yards or so, when he found a footing on a sunken log, but from this he was soon washed; and then he recollected that he was dashed against some hard substance and became unconscious. It was then that Judd, swimming—and none could swim better than he—caught the all but lost David Argyle. Unencumbered with clothes he seized him with one arm, while he held on to the rock with the other, and with almost supernatural strength he lifted him up to the top of one of these flats stones, to which reference has been made. Fortunately, the torrent had somewhat abated, and the water over these rocks was not more than a foot in depth. Judd easily reached the spot, and instantly took the insensible man in his arms. There did not appear to be any life left in him. It was a terrible position to be in, for it was impossible to get away from the place without going backwards or forwards. The sides of the glen here were precipitous for at least ten feet, and, reaching the top of this place, Black Bill first discovered the two men in the position which has been described. The blackfellow, with his usual keenness, took in the whole position at a glance, and putting a question to Judd about the easiest way of getting down into the stream, he disappeared with a shout. This was the first that Stewart heard. In less than two minutes he had reached the place which Judd had indicated. Now he must face the stream or his help would be useless. Throwing off his coat, shirt, and hat, and hastily too—“It was done in a jiffy,” so he said, and he spoke correctly—and then shouting, “Sich a faithful dog, massa,” the good fellow faced the torrent. More than once he lost his footing, and when be reached the rocks the water was so violent he knew not how to face it. But Black Bill was a splendid climber, and he scrambled up the aide of the glen where it was less steep, laying hold of some roots which presented themselves most invitingly in his way, and thus reached a place where he could stand firmly. “Now give me massa,” said he, “I hold him while you get down there; then you take him, and we carry him up.” It was a hard struggle for the noble lad to hold the stout burly frame of the insensible man, but he did it, every limb quivering with the exertion. Judd had little difficulty in getting down from his rocky platform, and receiving Argyle from Black Bill he carried him to the place where the two men relieved him of the burden, and, aided by the black boy, they bore him slowly up the sides of the glen. Argyle was rescued from death, and by the aid of stimulants and the warmth of the fire he soon revived and opened his eyes. He was terribly injured; one arm was broken and there was a fearful gash over his temple. But where was his deliverer? One was by his side anxiously looking on, but the other was gone. “Vanished,” Black Bill said, “gone to Jericho. He must have come from tere. Jeroosalem! he's a rum un.”

CHAPTER XXVI.—AN EVENING AT THE MINISTER'S HOUSE.

Some people shake their head at the idea of a parson's soiree; 'too stiff and religious,' they say. The objection does no particular credit to the critic, but in practice is such a gathering open to such a charge? If anything is wrong or open to objection in a minister's house, it is not to be suffered in any other respectable family. Why should a minister of religion be debarred, because he sustains such an office, from the common enjoyments of life? It will be answered, 'Love not the world, neither the things of the world.' Right, but these words mean that you are not to set your heart upon them. To love a wife and children is lawful, right, holy, and reasonable. To love them above the Creator is idolatry. A social party at the Rev. Edward Coles' house might have been open to severe criticism by mere cavillers, but he had no misgivings about anything which was done there. Let us look in at the already announced tea party on a small scale. It is summer, so all the windows and doors are open. Two doors in the parlor lead out upon the verandah, which runs round the whole house. Before this verandah is a gravelled carriage road, and in front of this a lawn, with sundry flower beds. The cottage has four rooms and a kitchen. It is furnished with some degree of comfort, and at the back there is a kitchen garden and a paddock. Fruit trees of all kinds are here and there, without any particular regard to design or order. Such, in a few words, is the description of this neat little residence. Mrs. Gumby was pleased with it, which was ample testimony in favor of the place.

At 5 o'clock the whole party was assembled—Mr. and Mrs. Sinclair, Mr. and Mrs. Gumby, the two young ladies, and Mr. Brown. Mrs. Gumby was duly installed in a most capacious 'come and love me' easy chair; Mrs. Sinclair in a less pretending one, on the opposite side of the room, Mr. Sinclair and the Rev. Edward Coles were chatting on the verandah; and the young ladies were operating upon the risible faculties of Mr. Brown. At least one of them was, and he, nothing loath, was firing away by a complimentary return of merry jokes.

But tea is preparing all the while, and punctually at five minutes past 5 it is ready. A blessing is asked: why should it ever be omitted? Suppose the blessing of the health and life Giver should be withheld, what a calamity would ensue. The creature is about to partake of the Creator's mercies, it is only meet and proper to seek His good will, so that the food may be assimilated to our particular need. The hospitality of the host was then shown to all, and that they enjoyed it there was abundant proof.

“Do not spare, Mrs. Gumby. Make yourself quite at home. We are plain folks up in this part of the country. Excuse me, Mr. and Mrs. Sinclair, of course I mean your humble servant.”

“Do not mention it my dear sir,” said Mr. Sinclair. “We at The Vineyard delight in homely comfort, without any ostentation. Every one is heartily welcome; that is our rule.”

“And a regular jolly good rule,” chimed in Mr. Brown. “I like order, neatness, and that sort of thing; but as for mere show, give me reality—that's what I say.”

“I never was more comfortable in my life, Mr. Coles,” said Mrs. Gumby. “This is very nice indeed.”

“I am so glad,” said Mrs. Sinclair. “I have no doubt that you will be very happy after a while. All of us have had to suffer inconvenience at first, and if people can do that without feeling it very much, it is a sign that they may prosper.”

“I have not the least doubt of it,” said Mr. Gumby. “As for me, I like the country very well.”

“And how do the young ladies agree with these opinions?” said Mr. Coles.

Miss Julia said she perfectly agreed, and Miss Lottie declared it was the most jolly free life she had ever known. “If Miss Tomlinson and the other girl, whatever her name was, were only regular bricks, wouldn't they put some life into the people.” Of course this sent all the company into a laughing humor. Mrs. Gumby, however, held up her finger, and said, “Fie, Lottie!”

“So we will, mamma, and behave like good girls into the bargain. I am sure Mr. Coles does not wish to see us with half a yard of dropsy hanging from each eye, and a bib under our chins to catch the melancholy.”

“No, no, Miss Lottie; I do not believe that the religion of the Bible enjoins any such thing. Be as happy as possible, but be wise with the enjoyment of such things as ye have.”

“Yes, but Mr. Coles, who is to be the judge about these things?” said Mrs. Sinclair. “Some people would make very bad judges of their conscience.”

“Not if they read the Bible with an earnest desire to be guided by its sacred light of truth.”

“Perhaps not. But suppose they are not readers of the Scriptures?”

“Then, my dear madam, they must most assuredly make sad mistakes. Now, as a proof of what I feel on this question, you shall this evening enjoy yourself to your heart's content, and then we will ask God's blessing upon it before we retire to our rest. My rule is this—whatever I can ask God to bless I cannot regard as sinful. In fact, my lips would refuse to utter a petition which my heart could not unite in.”

“Just my creed exactly,” said Mr. Brown. “As I says to my youngsters, 'Now, you boys and girls, do what is right, and you won't be ashamed.' We lifted up this flag years ago, and when any of 'em falls into the wrong ditch, we haul 'em out, and says to 'em, 'That is not following the family track;' and we all unite in singing our hymn, which you have heard, Mr. Coles, many a time. It begins—”

“Do the right, brother, do the right.”

“I have heard it, neighbor Brown; and I know how well you have managed to lead your family, and how God has blessed you.”

“Yes, tolerably well, for that. We all lay hold of the wheel, and, even though the dray does stick fast, we axes the help of Providence, and give a tremendous lift ourselves, and out it comes, and on we go again.”

“Well done,” shouted Mr. Gumby.

But now music was proposed, and while the tea was cleared the music portfolio was deliberately inspected, but of course the ladies 'could not play,' and severe colds had deprived them of all control over their voices as they could wish. Someone ought to invent a social warming up machine, to ensure enjoyments at the commencement of a meeting of guests.

Very frequently the overture is an exhibition of starched politeness, during which no one has the power to sing, play, or make themselves in the least sociable. The heating process then begins to operate, and the starch gives way; chairs begin to find an attractive influence by which their occupants are able to approach within confidential quarters with Mr. or Mrs. So-and-So. The notes of music, accidentally or casually struck, send the heating process a few degrees higher, and forthwith the steam begins to hum; now it sounds louder and louder, and on it progresses, until the whole party are at the boiling point. All unnecessary reserve is melted in the process, and henceforth the evening is happily enjoyed.

There were no preliminary experiments of this kind at Mr. Coles' house. He led the way into every kind of social pleasure. First, he played “The Pastoral Symphony,” from “the Messiah,” and then the old favorite, “Bay of Biscay,” which he sung with fervent vivacity. Then the case of fossils and other curiosities was opened for the ladies, the beautiful portfolio of sketches and engravings also; pipes, and a round table on the verandah, were provided for the gentlemen; the young ladies were kept at the piano; the minister now saying, “Thank you, miss, that is beautiful; please favor us with something else.” Then he found time for a little argumentative discussion with Mr. Sinclair, during which his eyes were looking round to where the ladies sat, ever and anon explaining the name of some fossil, or pointing out the beauty of some picture. In fact the people were his guests; his duty was to entertain them, and he did so.

Some will say, “Where is there any religion in this?” In the first place, the man was known, his principles were not hidden either in the pulpit or the life. Test him with a temptation to do a wrong, and the righteous indignation of the man was a thing to be remembered. Ask him to go to comfort a poor sick or dying person, and his soul was instantly in the work. Was there one to whom he could do good?—he was ready. His inner life was expressive of humble, devoted attachment to the Saviour. The outward expression of that life was a decided disposition to claim for himself and his brethren all the privileges, as citizens of a commonwealth, which other men enjoyed. His home enjoyments were as pure as earth's pleasures can be, yet he loved many things which some would condemn. He could sing a glee or a song heartily, and, now that he had the chance, Bishop's “Chough and Crow” was sung with the utmost enthusiasm, the young ladies taking the soprano and alto parts, and the minister the bass. After this, they sang the “Kyrie Eleison” of Mozart's Twelfth Mass, and then Mr. Coles sang the opening air, “Comfort ye,” from “The Messiah,” Miss Julia Gumby then singing, “I know that my Redeemer liveth.” Then they had a round or two, and a few illustrations of quadrille and waltz music, during which Mr. Coles challenged Mr. Sinclair to a game of chess, Mr. Brown and Mr. Gumby had a discussion about pastoral matters, the two elder ladies being confidentially immersed in domestic recipes.

Fruit of various kinds was placed on the sideboard, which was open to all, but there was no wine. Mr. Coles was an abstainer, but upon this ground: First, he could not afford it; secondly, he considered it to be his duty to set an example to others. Beyond this he did not pretend to go. If others thought proper to take intoxicating drink, provided they did not exceed the bounds of moderation he never interfered. But if he knew of anyone who could not take it without falling into vice, then he tried the utmost powers of persuasive influence to induce them to abstain.

Thus the evening passed pleasantly and happily enough. Mrs. Gumby proved to be a very estimable woman under certain circumstances. Let her have the comforts of a good home, and she was at home; but she could not forget the home she had left. Emigration at fifty-five years of age is not all pleasure or profit. At 8 o'clock Mr. and Mrs. Sinclair's horses were saddled and brought to the front of the house, and Mr. Brown had gone to the paddock to got his own Black Bess into necessary trim for a ride home, when a loud cooey was heard, and this being repeated by another, and then by a third, the whole party were on the verandah in a trice, wondering what it could mean. In a minute or so Black Bill rode up to the house with a letter for Mr. Coles.

“From Massa Stewart, Misser Coles.”

CHAPTER XXVII.—EVERYBODY ON THE MOVE.

Judd only waited to see Argyle safely carried to the hut; he then returned along the bed of the stream till he came to a place where he could climb to the top of the cliff. Not a moment did he delay, for it was daybreak by this time. With a swift foot and determined will, onward he strode, one strong motive impelling him—there was no longer any safety for him. Every consideration of duty, every feeling of religious hope, every desire to redeem the past dissolved like vapor in the light of the sun. “The fates are against me,” he cried, as he sped through the valley where he had left the sheep. Even the sight of them had no effect upon him. “To the blacks,” said he to himself, and then, raising his voice, he roared out, “The knob of a whip! he has sworn to follow me! to the blacks; to the blacks!”

In the meantime David Argyle's wounds were washed and bound up. So serious, however, were some of them, that what could be done to get him home was the source of most anxious solicitude to Stewart. But finally he decided to dispatch the black lad to Leyton to request the overseer to bring on the spring cart, with other necessaries, as quickly as possible.

The morning wore along rather monotonously, but us they knew that it would be impossible for the cart to get to Hermit Glen, part of the time was occupied in making a rough litter to carry the wounded man to the road side. It was midday when this was accomplished, but by this time strong fever had set in, and David Argyle began to give evidence of the most alarming symptoms of delirium. It was with no small satisfaction, therefore, but with great surprise, that in half an hour after they had reached the road two light waggons were seen approaching, which, on reaching the place, Stewart found to be the travelling cortege of Colonel Tomlinson and his suite.

The sight of a wounded man lying on a litter would have attracted attention if there had been no other reason why the cortege should have stopped. But the surprise of the colonel was very great, for he exclaimed, “By the powers, James Stewart, what brought you here, and who have you there?”

“Fortunately, colonel, we are just in time to meet you. We started upon this errand, for we heard of that unfortunate affair through your overseer, Brown, and resolved to come on and render assistance if we could.”

“In doing which you got crippled,” said the colonel. “But who is it?”

“David Argyle, colonel.”

“You don't say so?”

The colonel immediately alighted, and, briefly introducing the ladies, he went to the litter.

The interviews which followed were painful and pleasing. Mrs. Welland was rejoiced to see Stewart, but the recollection of the past flashed across her memory with horrors which cannot be expressed.

“How did it happen?” was the inquiry of Miss Tomlinson.

The question was too pointed to be answered direct, but Stewart was no hand at evasion. He said that a dispute had arisen with some man whom Argyle knew, and in the scuffle which ensued the latter had fallen over a rock and broken his arm. To Colonel Tomlinson, however, he told all the facts, without mentioning Judd's real name.

Of course there was great sympathy with the wounded man. The ladies all alighted; in fact, everyone forming the cortege, with the exception of Captain Oliver.

To gather up the fragments of half-an-hour's discussion, and to get the travellers in safety to their several destinations, it is only necessary to add that Argyle was placed in the waggon with Captain Oliver, and, as speedily as was consistent with the roughness of the roads and the position of the wounded man, the journey was brought to an end. It was 4 o'clock when they had ten miles to go; but then they met the cart, and into it Argyle was removed; and, as the track to Leyton somewhat diverged from this spot, the two parties separated with many congratulations, anticipations of happy intercourse, and sincere hope that the wounded man would soon be convalescent.

Black Bill delivered his letter, which announced that Mr. Argyle had met with a severe accident; that his arm was broken, and entreated Mr. Coles, who was somewhat acquainted with medicine and surgical operations, to ride over to Leyton immediately on receipt of the letter, as they hoped by that time to be at home. Black Bill was detained at Leyton, and consequently arrived late at Mr. Coles' house. Mrs. Gumby was profoundly disturbed upon hearing the disastrous news. Of course 'the horrid country' came in for its share of invectives; but when Mr. Brown said that he would go over to Leyton but for the fact that his people would be alarmed at his non-return home, but he was sure Mr. Gumby would not object to ride over with the minister, the wrath of the lady became something curious to contemplate.

It rose to fever heat, then descended as rapidly to zero—in which condition the good lady appeared to be hysterical—from which singular state she gradually dissolved into the benignity of summer heat, and placidly declared that “this was the climax of her troubles.” It is difficult to estimate what might have been the issue of this fresh feature of Mrs. Gumby's complaint, but as she gave utterance to these memorable words one of the Leyton stockmen rode up to the house, stating that Colonel Tomlinson was at hand, and would arrive in half an hour. Mr. Stewart had sent him on with the colonel's party, the more surely to lead them home as speedily as possible.

Mr. Coles could not, under the circumstances, remain to receive the colonel, nor would he hear of Mrs. Gumby being disturbed by the proposed visit of her husband to Leyton. He did not need any one to go, he said. Mr. Stewart's people were there, he would return with them, and probably come back in the morning. In the meantime Mr. and Mrs. Gumby were at liberty to remain for the night at his house. So the storm blew over. The whole of the party adjourned to the station and had scarcely arrived when Colonel Tomlinson and his suite completed their toilsome journey, and the colonel entered upon the possession of his new home.

CHAPTER XXVIII.—AMONG THE NATIVES.

Judd reached the camp of the natives in about half-an-hour after leaving Hermit Glen. It was daylight, but only one man was to be seen, and this one happening to be Eagle Hawk, without any hesitation he walked up to him, held up his hand in token of friendship, and addressed his old comrade in the native tongue, which he could speak pretty well. The blackfellow was very uneasy; he had passed the night in patrolling round the camp, spear in hand, which he used as a staff or carried over his shoulder. He adored Mogara for her beauty and courage. Once he had ventured to hint something beyond this, but the rage with which she listened to his words, and which burst into a tumult when he had finished, banished from his mind any hope that she could be to him any more than a friend. The advent of Judd to the tribe was a constant source of anxiety to the old black. It was by Mogara's order that he had been spared, for it was customary to spear every white man whom they took prisoner; but Judd's life was spared as an exception to the rule. It was very evident why the half-caste queen insisted upon this, so evident indeed that once Eagle Hawk remonstrated with her.

She replied, “It is my command,” and the mandate was obeyed—more than obeyed, for every man and woman in the tribe vied with each other to do him honor. Judd became a favorite amongst them with only one or two exceptions. When he escaped, Eagle Hawk in secret rejoiced; and upon his reappearance his old uneasiness returned with renewed vigor.

Externally he showed nothing but pleasure; he even kissed Judd's cheek, and laughed as if he could not show delight enough; but his heart was all gall and bitterness. When Mogara therefore invited Judd to return to them he would have suggested many objections, but a glance at her eye was enough. He knew her mandate, and he was not one to resist it. All that night, however, he was conning the probable results of Judd's influence over Mogara. It was with no pleasure therefore that he saw Judd coming towards him, or heard the words, “I come to live with you again.”

So Judd became again a sojourner amongst the natives. This time he was more reconciled with his position, for it was forced upon him.

Self-protection was a primary virtue with him. He had early in life habited himself to cunning and trickery, which inevitably produce fear and want of manliness; and, if he had any courage, it was that of desperation—there was nothing natural in it. His life was therefore one continual expression of suspicion. Still he tried by every means to gain the confidence of the natives, and was kind and good to all who were willing to be friendly; but there were some who regarded him with mingled feelings of scorn and mistrust. Mogara, on the contrary, now cast off all reserve, and was Judd's constant companion. All her admiration for the man returned, even though ten years of hardship had whitened his hair, so as to give him a most venerable appearance.

Thus three months and more passed away, during which they had not migrated far from Hermit Glen, when one beautiful evening Mogara and Judd were seated under a tree near the top of the range. The place was pleasant, and they halted for a while. The halt naturally led to a chat, and this was how it began:

“How long do you remain in this place, Mogara?”

“I not quite know, Henry, what we do. I hear zome zay we go in that country 'gen.” She pointed towards the south.

“Why do you go there? I no want to go that way,” said Judd. “Soldier, they will take me, and put me in prison.”

“Ha!” said Mogara, in alarm. “Ha! I zee. Zen we no go zere.”

“Not safe for me here, Mogara, if we stop too long. Men seek for me and find me—”

The woman caught Judd's arm as he spoke, as if she would hold him fast. Judd misunderstood her at first, but seeing that her eyes were full of tears, he went on to say—“I would rather be with you than the white men. They no do me good—much harm.”

“Mogara protect zoo, Henry. But zoo no wish to go 'way 'gen?”

“No, Mogara I come live with you all, and you are very good to me. I no wish to go away yet.”

“Yet! I zay—Mogara zay—zoo never go 'way. Why zoo with to go back to zem who hate zoo and me? I kill my enemy, zat left my mother. Henry, her die like dog. I zay I would kill him, and I zhot—”

“Your own father, Mogara.”

What a look the half-caste turned upon Judd as he spoke these words! Will it be believed that this poor despised, but in some respects clever creature had never allowed her thoughts to rest on any other idea than revenge for an alleged outrage against her mother. “Her father—”

“Yes, Mogara, he is so,” said Judd, as she paused upon these words, repeating them with emphasis.

She was gazing at no particular object. It was one of those seasons of despair which seize us as a terrible revelation bursts upon the intellect for the first time. She was staring into nothingness, seeing nothing, yet gazing with the eye of a linx; immersed in the deepest thought, with her eyes wide open, but she saw only the word “father.” Judd saw the emotion which was agitating the black-eyed savage beauty with an influence she could not control. He placed his hand upon her shoulder, but she moved not—seemed not to notice him; repeating, in whispers now, “Father! my father! My father!” Presently she cried out with an awful vehemence, “And I killed him! my father! Henry, I killed him!”

Nature came to her relief, for she burst into a flood of tears. Judd spoke to her, tried to comfort her; told her he was the man who was standing at the door when she fired, and that when he left there was no particular danger.

It was long before she could be pacified. The words “my father” were uttered with increased vehemence and bitterness. She stood up, took out her little revolver, dashed it to the ground, wrung her hands, and alternately burst into tears, or sat with a kind of indolent stupor. At last Judd took up the two animals which they had killed, and, gently laying hold of Mogara's hand, he led her away without any resistance. Slowly they returned to the camp, to find the whole tribe in the highest excitement. One of them was wounded, and another killed, by a party of bushmen who were travelling on the road. The blacks had been surprised as they were lying on the grass by the roadside. The moment they saw the bushmen they hastily decamped, but, for mere sport sake, they were fired at, one man being sent into eternity and another poor creature lamed for life. Loud were the horrible threats which sounded through out the camp. Eagle Hawk was haranguing a large group as Mogara and Judd came in sight. A shout which rang through the woods greeted their approach, and instantly fifty men ran to meet them, shouting in the native tongue, “White man kill! white man kill!”—every one of them scowling upon Judd, his white, or rather brown skin seaming to them a relationship to the aggressors which for a while they were unable or unwilling to forget.

“White man kill! Woopa malar ban!”

The first word was shouted with terrible vehemence, the 'woop' being elongated in a sort of cooey. The scene was very exciting; and when they discovered in Mogara the unmistakable evidence that she had been weeping, every eye again turned to Judd, now with inquiring glances, and then with suspicious signs, which meant far more than Judd felt comfortable in witnessing.

But Mogara understood her people better than he did.

“To ze camp, to ze camp!” said she, in commanding accents. “Burrima, burrima! (hastily, quickly.) Instantly she was obeyed, and, with shouts and frantic cries, rushed to the place where Eagle Hawk was still vehemently haranguing a group of excited men.

“What iz it? what iz ze matter?” exclaimed Mogara, as she took her stand by the side of Eagle Hawk.

“Father killed,” was the reply of a young fellow. “Father killed—white fellow kill!” and he dashed his great club on the ground, and burst into tears.

“Zee, see, Mogara! Zee!” and he took off a blanket from the dead body which was lying near the spot. Mogara drew near to look at the corpse, saying, “Who did this?”

“One two, three, six white fellow,” was the reply from a dozen voices.

“Quiet!” said Mogara, waving her hand. “We kill for zis. Go sleep. Morrow we find out white fellow. Blood for blood! White man he kill; black man kill too. Go zleep, zleep—morrow get up; I tell you what do. Eagle Hawk, come with me; Henry, zoo come too.”

The trio left the excited natives, and entered the bark humpie of the queen, and here a lengthened debate ensued.

“Eagle Hawk,” said Mogara, “I am zick of zis.”

“Let us have blood, then!” exclaimed the old man.

“No, no; zoo no understand. Zoo, or me, or Henry may be zhot like Ballu.”

“Blood, blood!—kill!” Eagle Hawk trembled with passion as he cried out—“I say blood! Let us go burn, kill!”

“No, Eagle Hawk,” said Mogara, “we must not. We no strong to fight against long guns. Zey zhoot—kill—we no able to get near. Our people turn run, fly—zhot like dog. No, no, zat never do.”

“But we must have revenge; blackfellows no rest till they have blood. We kill one white man for black. One black kill—one white he die for black. You know this, Mogara!”

“I do know it, Eagle Hawk, and it iz right. We have no law like white man. Zey hold up hand everywhere against us. We no able to talk with zem about our rights. Zey strong—we weak. Zey put zeir hand on heart, and zay, 'Curse, curse-damn, damn them!' and then they fire, kill.”

“As there is a God in heaven, she is right,” said Judd.

“Let us go, then, morrow day,” said Eagle Hawk. “Go up borru (west); we find plenty sheep there; we kill sheep—eat them; we find man—we kill him—burn, dance, sing!”

The conference was lengthened into a discussion of minor details. Mogara began it with a recollection of her father suffering from her hand, and the thought of blood made her shudder, but gradually the dreadful influence of her life among the natives exerted its power, and she was as eager for revenge and blood as any of the tribe.

Mysterious are the ways of Providence, but all are in goodness, kindness, wisdom, as golden chains fastened by eternal promise to the throne of God. Frequently the darker the cloud the brighter the central glory. Judd knew this; he was ever trying to educate Mogara to some such manner of thinking and judging, but there was too much bitterness in him at times for such reflections to be of any lasting benefit. He regretted that he had saved Argyle's life; then he was glad that he had done so; then he wished for another opportunity of trying his strength with “the youngster;” and finally he resolved to quit his present life, and at any risk get down to the towns and escape for ever from the misery of such an existence as that which he was compelled to experience.

Alas! all his ideas were like frost in the sun; they melted away; were absorbed in constantly recurring events which seemed to harden him again into adamant; and when on the morrow he found that the tribe was about to move towards the west—that the circle of his fate was drawing closer and closer around him, and soon he would stand upon the spot where the whole would be concentrated in the one great view, of which the climax was to be death.

To-morrow! ah! to-morrow! what thoughts does the well-known phrase suggest.

“To-day—to-day,” thought Judd, “I go on to the end. What will it be!”

Chapter XXIX.—THE TOMLINSONS AT HOME.

Three months had worked wonders at Burnham Beeches. Carpenters and bricklayers added material comforts to the house, and new, substantial furniture proclaimed the ample means of the proprietor. In the first place, the dining or living room was a plain, uncarpeted apartment, with chairs, a dining table, some pictures, and a small sideboard. From this a door led into the colonel's office or private room and another small room, in which Mr. Gumby luxuriated; and beyond that another, called Mr. Wright's, in which that gentleman read, smoked, wrote, kept accounts; slept, and in short reigned supreme. Mr. Wright was a comical fellow, but he had one great fault—that of carrying practical jokes beyond the boundary of forbearance.

“Gumby, how are you this morning?”

“Pretty well.”

“And your amiable lady—is she well?”

“She is quite well also.”

“And your excellent daughters?”

“I am glad to say well also.”

Mr. Gumby was allowed two minutes rest, I then the teasing commenced.

“Gumby! Any tobacco in the store?”

“Yes, sir; plenty.”

“Will you fetch me some?”

He had already in his room sufficient to last any ordinary smoker for six months. Mr. Gumby, like an automaton, performed his bidding. This time he had five minutes rest, sufficient to allow him to commence some sort of work, and then as surely came, “Gumby!”

“Yes, Mr. Wright.”

“Have you any matches?”

Many an hour was wasted in this way, but Mr. Gumby took it all in good part. He had an easy place and a good salary, and Mr. Wright made up for this sort of bye-play by many acts of kindness.

It was a comical exhibition to see Mr. Gumby on horseback, and Mr. Wright, knowing this, generally managed that one or two of these little episodes should take place every week. The first time he managed tolerably well, the only inconvenience which followed was the usual stiffness; but Mr. Wright then conceived the idea of giving him a regular jibber to try his skill upon. He started freely, and for about two hundred yards the horse trotted as if he meant to get over his work well, then he stopped short, nearly pitching Mr. Gumby over the highest of his calculations—viz., over the horse's head. Mr. Gumby turned red, then looked at the horse, who had his ears down, his front legs stretched out as if he meant to have a little bit of spurt. At last off he started at a gallop, shaking his rider somewhat roughly.

Mr. Gumby held on by the saddle and pulled hard at the rein; but the creature had began his tricks and now intended to conclude the performance. After about a mile of this interlude, during which Mr. Gumby lost his hat, worked his trousers up to his knees, and perspired most vigorously, the jibber began to jib; he danced and jumped off his fore legs—“Nothing could have been finer,” said Mr. Gumby, “if I had not been on his back,”—and finally darting ahead, he bolted into the midst of a swamp, and then stopped, tossing his head and then lowering it most ominously to the level of his knees.

Let Mr. Gumby tell his own tale: “I did not know what to do; I said, 'Go on,' and back he went; I pulled the right rein and he began to jump; I pulled the left and he made signs of lying down; I struck him with the rein—for I had already dropped my whip—and on he went into deeper water; I shouted 'Stop!' and then he backed into a bed of soft mud, in which he began to flounder; I pulled, he snorted; I let go the rein, which had become unbuckled, and then he begun to prance, until finally he rose upon his hind legs and allowed me quietly to slip into the mud, which, fortunately, was not very deep. Having thus unceremoniously got rid of me, the ungrateful beast walked quietly out of the swamp, leaving me to walk after him. He quietly trotted home; I as quietly walked home. Mr. Wright was waiting to welcome me, and he could not help laughing at the pickle I was in. I more than suspected that he knew what the horse was, but as he assured me that this was a common occurrence, I quietly said to myself, 'first and last.' I never rode that horse again.” However, these two were first rate friends. Mr. Gumby was good tempered in the super superlative degree; and after a while Mr. Wright found extraordinary pleasure and enjoyment in occasional visits to Mr. Gumby's house. Why? Mrs. Gumby frequently inquired, but of course Mr. Gumby knew nothing about the matter.

It is probable that Julia Tomlinson might have figured as the betrothed of a certain Mr. W. but that another well-known gentleman who lived not anything like ten miles from Leyton Station had engrossed all the spare attention which that young lady could give. It was in the drawing-room that this affair was settled, and for ever after this most comfortable and elegantly furnished apartment formed an eventful addenda to the various episodes of Mr. Stewart's life.

Let me describe the room: It was the only portion of the house which was of brick and plastered, with stucco ornaments, cornices, and ceiling centres, which were cleverly adapted for ventilation also. A chimney was built out into the room, with a simple mantelpiece. Over this mantelpiece a large pier glass, rearing its head to the ceiling, invited the attention of any who desired to consult their physiognomy. In that glass there might occasionally be seen a very pretty reflection if anyone had entered the drawing-room noiselessly. Let none imagine that it was otherwise than “all right,” for the exceedingly amiable smile of the lady and the manly, fond, returning glance of the gentleman was a sufficient assurance that it was a very politic and correct sort of thing for them to esteem one another. It must not be forgotten either that there was always a third personage in the room during this courtship, and this was the father of the lady. The father of the lady! Yes; rather singular—was it not? But then he never spoke—he only looked at the lovers; and there was no spot in the room to which they could retreat but his eyes were upon them. Nevertheless, the eyes never moved, nor did the colonel ever leave the place where he was fixed. He looked very magnificent in his massive gilt frame, and was the supreme object of attraction amidst twenty oil paintings which decorated the walls—the work of his hand, whose likeness, so cleverly drawn by an eminent London artist, seemed to survey that which he had painted with evident satisfaction.

The remaining portion of the room was worthy of the taste of such a connoisseur. A massive loo table in walnut, beautifully inlaid with Australian woods, upon richly curved scrolled feet, stood in the centre; this was covered with a thick tapestry cloth. There were six chairs to match, with crimson cushions, two armchairs, en suite, and a sofa of so inviting a character that it seemed a sin not to lie down upon it and resign one's self to the repose which it promised. Then there were ottomans, young, middle-aged, and old. Nota bene, the age is intended to represent the size of them. They rose upwards from about a foot square to the imposing circular edition of the same work, by which mechanical arrangement eight persons could sit in a circle, back to back, as if they were tied to a stake, and only required the faggots and the fire to finish them off most gloriously.

In none of all the families upon earth did love shine brighter than at Burnham Beeches. First there was a father's dear love; then, is it profane to say, there was, though unseen, the influence of a sainted mother, breathing an atmosphere of love which surrounded both father and daughter? and there was that daughter's fondest, dearest love, not lessened to the father when it took into its confidence, as a lover, a Christian friend, an uncompromising champion of truth.

But this is how it came about, for the history of all courtships is a thing not to be passed over lightly. So a great many people think; yet one would like to know how Job succeeded in getting so curious a creature for his wife. As we read her words—'Curse God and die'—she seems to have been a queer woman. Who can tell, though, what they would be tempted to say in such a case! It was about two months after the colonel had arrived at Burnham Beeches that Mr. James Stewart rode up to the front door of Colonel Tomlinson's house. He alighted, fastened his horse to a post which was fixed there for this purpose, and walked into the house with as firm a step as if it belonged to him, his real purpose being to lay a plot by which he conspired to carry off one of the most costly and precious jewels in that dwelling. He felt not the slightest compunction at what he was about to do, but walked boldly into the colonel's office, and made his demand without so much as an expression of regret. The discussion which ensued was rather lengthened; but at last the colonel left his visitor to exert the some powerful influence upon Mr. Gumby if he wished and considered that he had any such valuables to part with while he went to seek his daughter, to consult her about this outrageous demand.

Some of the preliminaries may be omitted. The lady was “not in the least surprised, she had suspected the man from the first.”

“What do you say about it, dearest?”

“I leave it all in your hands, dear papa.”

“No, Julia, no, it is your happiness that I have to consider. James Stewart is in a good position; I should say he is likely to be rich. His partner has signified his wish shortly to return to England, and, upon conditions, he will give up all his share in Leyton Station. These conditions James Stewart will be able to fulfil, and your fortune, dearest, will be ample for all your necessities, apart from expectancies to which I need not farther allude.”

“There is one thing, papa—”

“Stay, my dearest, I ought to tell you a very important matter which may weigh much with you, but is less than nothing in my estimation. James Stewart was a convict.”

A shadow of pain passed over the countenance of Julia as her father spoke these words; she even started, and raised her hands as if in deprecation of such a charge; but ere she could reply, Colonel Tomlinson added, “I know of a certainty, however, that he was not guilty of the crime for which he has suffered—yes, most terribly.”

The colonel then related that which the reader already knows—the charge under which James Stewart was condemned and reached these shores. Before he had finished, Julia placed her hand upon her father's shoulder, and gradually allowed it to steal round his neck, where her arm rested until he had finished the terrible narrative. Then she arose, and, facing her father, exclaimed—

“I knew it not, dearest papa, but I thought that there was, at times, a melancholy look upon his face. I understand it all now. He told me so kindly, so feelingly, and so modestly that he did indeed love me; but he added it seemed to him to be presumption to aspire to that which he feared he could never reach. Dearest papa,” continued Julia, “I am, you have often said, enthusiastic, but never so much as I am now, when I say—I love him for the dangers he has passed, and he will love me that I do pity them.”

“Ah, ah! Good, good!” exclaimed the colonel, laughing. “The fair Julia taking the words of the gallant Othello!”

“Who loved so true, papa, that—”

“He murdered his wife! Well, well, Julia, darling, you will not beat him in that, I know. My dearest, may heaven bless this engagement. Stewart is a regular Nathanael, I believe. You should have heard him put the question.”

“Pop the question, papa.”

“No, no, you satirical young Rosalind; he has done that already in another place. I said put the question; it was thus—'Colonel Tomlinson, will you let me have your daughter Julia? I will pledge you my word no man on earth shall love her more, or take more care of her, than I will.”

“Just like him, papa.”

“Humph! you appear to know him tolerably well,” replied her father, laughing, “Well, he stopped short at those words, and then I began. But if my life had depended upon it I could not help showing some pleasure at his words, and I know he saw what I felt for his face thawed from the pallor of ice until it rose to fever heat. Then I left him to cool.”

“The best thing you could have done, papa.”

“By this time it is possible that he has cooled, a little. I expect to find him, under the influence of my long absence, rapidly sinking towards zero; and if we remain talking any longer, he may perhaps get far below it, and then what becomes of your lover, Julia?”

“I warrant a few words from you will warm him, papa.”

“Or perhaps from you, Julia. Shall I call him in?”

“Oh! dear papa—yes—papa—only—no—now don't, papa—you speak—please now, do!”

The colonel was gone before she could say all she would have uttered, and the little heart of this gentle, loving creature, palpitated as hard as it could beat for minutes—yes, minutes afterwards.

In about five minutes Colonel Tomlinson returned with James Stewart, and mutual explanations commenced. The fine, open eyes of the young man beamed with delight as the tall, honest, and warm-hearted father announced his consent to the engagement, and with a trembling voice said: “Stewart, my lad, I have nothing better to give you than my Julia. If she becomes your's, take care of her, I charge you, as you hope to stand well with your Judge at last. She is a dear girl, and you are worthy of her.”

“Thanks, my dear sir,” replied Stewart, “many, many thanks. I feel that I have no right—”

“Now, please to let all that drop, my dear fellow, the past with all of us may have bitter recollections. In your case let it not once be mentioned.”

“Again and again, thanks,” replied Stewart. “How can I, how shall I say enough?”

“By simply loving this little piece of flesh and blood as the Scriptures command you, I have no other anxiety; no, not one, thank God. I know whom I have believed, and rest on His promise; where He is, there shall I be at the end. Now, in your hands, all my doubt about Julia ends. May God bless you, my children, ever bless you!”

The old man turned away his head as he spoke, and both Stewart and Julia were in tears. But after the lapse of a minute, during which Stewart had sat down on the sofa by the side of his betrothed, the colonel turned round, and with a benignant smile said: “I suppose, Mr. Stewart, I may be excused now for a reasonable period.”

“Only for a very few minutes, dear papa!”

The few minutes, however, were extended to more than half an hour, and it is more than probable that the interview would not have terminated so soon but lunch was announced, and this eating and drinking breaks up many a happy companionship. The author is separated from his papers, the merchant from his ledger, the clergyman from his study and his books, even the most faithful lovers must give up the sweetness of companionship for this necessary gratification.

One of the wisest ordinances of Omniscience is that which compels us all to seek our food. It is the mainspring of everything. The key which winds up the spring is hunger, and thirst oils the key.

So James Stewart became a very frequent visitor at Burnham Beeches.

CHAPTER XXX.—SUNDAY AT BURNHAM BEECHES.

It is 9 o'clock. Breakfast is over, and upon the verandah there is standing the colonel, Miss Julia, Alice Welland, and Mr. Wright.

“You may be sure, Miss Julia, he will not come to-day.”

“If the 'he,' Mr. Wright, was a certain young gentleman whom I know, there might be some doubt.” Julia laughed as she spoke.

“But as 'the he' happens to live some distance away, the inference is that he will be drawn by magnetic attraction,” said Alice.

“Excellently said,” replied Mr. Wright, “a challenge, I expect, is it not?”

“Just as you please to take it, Mr. Impertinence,” said Julia.

“Then suppose I take it kindly.”

“The best thing you can do, depend on it,” said Colonel Tomlinson; “these two young ladies are a match for any young fellow living.”

“That ought to be modified, papa. We will never allow our personal friends to be misrepresented.”

“Which means of course, dearest, that Mr. Wright has misrepresented Mr. James,” replied the colonel.

“Hardly so, dear papa; but you know he lets no one alone, and this is Sunday, too.”

“You want to keep all your thoughts to yourself and Mr. Stewart,” said Mr. Wright. “So be it, Miss Julia, we never shall quarrel about that, I do assure you. You must allow me the privilege of a little by-play, I could not exist without it.”

“As much as you please, Mr. Wright, so long as you do not trespass on personal feeling,” said Julia.

Mr. Wright had fallen into a little disgrace with these young ladies by paying marked attention to two courtships in his one person. He had sought the affections of Miss Julia Gumby, and obtained her assent to the engagement; but after giving her every reason to believe that he was sincere, he made some very significant advances towards Miss Alice, and a council being held between that young lady and Miss Julia, it was unanimously agreed that Mr. Wright must be kept in order. He understood them, and saw that his new investment was likely to turn out a blank. It was fortunate that Mr. Stewart and his partner, Argyle, rode up as Julia spoke about trespassing on personal feeling, for Mr. Wright turned very red when he saw the bearing of the allusion, and being as hasty as he was at other times good tempered, he was about to reply, but the new arrivals turned the current of the conversation.

Every one at Burnham Beeches was expected to attend church, so there was a very respectable congregation, which, if it was small, was at least attentive. How well-educated men—many of them collegians with honors attached to their names, and who know their duty to their Maker—can consent to live themselves without the semblance of religion, and surround themselves with men and women with accountable souls without providing one grain of spiritual instruction, is one of the mysteries of human nature. Colonel Tomlinson argued thus: “I believe in God, and can subscribe to the Apostle's Creed. Is not that belief all a sham, if I, as an employer of labor, get all I can out of men's bodies and altogether neglect their souls? Besides this I am,” said the colonel, “a professed servant of the Almighty. I am bound to be as jealous of the honor of His name, His day, His worship, and His Gospel, as I am of the Queen whom I serve. I therefore do my best to provide the means of worship, and it is my wish that all whom I employ honor me by honoring the Creator. Better seasons, better profits, greater prosperity might rest upon and bless the whole land and its proprietors if this was the rule.”

Miss Thomas presided at the harmonium, and at 11 o'clock Cecil's anthem 'I will arise' proclaimed the commencement of the service. All the congregation stood up, and as the anthem was concluded, the solemn pleading, “Enter not into judgment with Thy servant, O Lord, for in Thy sight shall no flesh living be justified,” prepared the way for the appeal to unite in general confession and thanksgiving. The 'Venite' was chanted, and so were the 'Glorias' and the 'Jubilate,' but all the rest of the service was the quiet earnest pleading or thanksgiving of men and women who felt their need, and thus approached near to God to beg Him to supply it.

The sermon was as simple as the prayers. The preacher did not read but used his notes rather extensively. Perfection in anything is not for earth; the minister at Burnham Beeches Church was as conscious of this as any one, but he was sincerely devoted to his work. There was no attempt at eloquence. He tried to do well all that belonged to his office, but failed in the estimation of some. There were those who thought that he ought to read his sermons, others considered that his notes spoilt him. Then there were some who objected to the length of his discourse—he was never a long preacher, thirty minutes was the limit. But it is orthodox to find fault, and perhaps it has its advantages, for it keeps poor human wisdom in its proper place, and makes the minister depend wholly on wisdom from above. Mr. Coles was not an ambitious preacher, but he had this testimony, that he pleased God. His text this morning was from the forty-sixth Psalm, the grand old favorite with Luther, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”

There was one who was deeply affected by it. Not very much has been said about her. Mrs. Welland's troubles were not such as are very common to man, nor did there appear any means by which she could hope to escape from them. At times the thought about her lot was too much for her. Tempted to believe that God had forsaken her, she passed her years as one in a dream. Her happy youth, her promising marriage blasted, in one moment, for it was so that it came upon her; the life which followed was bitter in the extreme.

Mr. Coles spoke with much feeling upon the mysterious dealings of Providence; how very frequently a whole life appeared to be passed under the cloud; but Israel's leader was in that cloud, and the redeemed host of God might truly rejoice, for “God was our refuge and strength. He overwhelmed Israel's enemies of old, there was not one of them left, and He is still a very present help in trouble.”

“Trust Him,” said the preacher, “He has never failed in his promises to me, He will surely perform all you need.”

It was usual to conclude the service with a hymn, but upon this occasion benediction was pronounced, and the congregation separated.

The minister had to preach again at 4 o'clock at a place about five miles distant, and it was no uncommon thing for some of the young people to accompany him. To-day the colonel and his daughter, with Mr. Stewart, Mr. Wright, and the two Miss Gumby's, and Miss Thomas, formed the clergyman's escort. Argyle was not well, and so decided to return home, and as a portion of the road which the company had to traverse was his way homeward, he also formed one of the numerous cavalcade. It has been said that this cavalcade formed the clergyman's escort. In point of fact the colonel and his party only accompanied him on his return, the minister preferring to be alone previous to holding a service; but as all things come to an end so did this service. The sermon was on Sabbath breaking, and some remarks in it provoked a discussion on the journey homeward in which the colonel, Mr. Stewart, and Miss Julia sustained a part, the minister being frequently appealed to when some knotty point required the opinion of a theologian.

The colonel was hardly satisfied that Mr. Coles' definition of the obligation of the Christian Sabbath was correct.

Said he, “I cannot feel that the first day, Sabbath can be maintained upon the obligation of the Fourth Commandment.”

“I did not say so, colonel,” replied Mr. Coles. “My argument was this: a Sabbath is a necessity. Grant this, and the question arises whether a general Sabbath is an absolute command, or whether every man may keep Sabbath when he pleases.”

“Not a very safe way of putting it,” replied Colonel Tomlinson; “state the question thus, and it seems to me that there is no meaning in a day of rest.”

“Exactly so, colonel, I contend that a universal Sabbath is binding as a perpetual obligation upon every man. The alteration of the day does not much matter, provided it is Sabbath with all; but there is good Scriptural warrant for the first day, and with this the command in the Decalogue claims strong relationship.”

“And the design was infinitely wise,” said Mr. Stewart.

“Yes,” replied the clergyman, “for though it is said that 'the Sabbath was not made for man, but man for the Sabbath,' yet incidentally the Sabbath must have been an ordinance of God in prospectu, for man's especial benefit.”

“Ah, now I agree with you,” said the colonel, “and thus there is reason in observing the day of rest, not only as a command, but as a necessity, a privilege, and also—we must not forget this—as a memento.”

“I always look upon the stick-gathering man's condemnation,” said Julia, “as a hard thing. It is said he did it to make a fire; it was a very harmless proceeding after all.”

“Yes, young lady, but the old law being of necessity exact, even to the most minute definition of right and wrong, an offence against so plain a command as that which this man committed was very marked. You recollect that some went out on the Sabbath to gather manna and found none, and God was very angry with them. The command was at that time an institution only as it had been known from the commencement of time. After it had been written on the tables of stone, Moses gathered all the people together and said, 'Ye shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations on the Sabbath day.' Now, the case of the Sabbath day stick-gatherer is preceded with these words, 'If a soul doeth aught presumptuously &c., that soul shall be cut off from among the people.'”

“This man did it presumptuously then, you think?”

“Exactly so, Miss Julia, there cannot be a doubt of it. He wilfully despised the commandment; he was cut off.”

“But by the same rule, Mr. Coles,” said Mr. Stewart, “are not we as guilty as that man was? We do many things which were forbidden of old.”

“Presumptuously? Intentionally? Wilfully? eh!”

“No, no! I do not mean that,” said Mr. Stewart.

“We have no such regulations in the New Testament,” said Mr. Coles.

“But the one strong case of non-necessity,” said Colonel Tomlinson. “If there can be no necessity shown, is there not guilt?”

“Well, conscience and the Word of God must decide the necessity theory. To eat must be a necessity, but I do not see that cooking what we eat is!”

“We must feed the animals,” said Mr. Stewart.

“And perform our necessary toilet,” said Julia.

“But not blacken our boots,” said the colonel.

“No; and the whole case,” said Mr. Coles, “may safely rest upon the conscience of a good man.”

By this lime they had arrived at the station, and the colonel inviting the clergyman to take dinner with them he cheerfully assented, only craving permission to feed his horse and attend to some minor domestic matters.

“Which are works of necessity,” said the colonel.

“Just so. Colonel Tomlinson; my horse would cry out against the law as very unreasonable if I was to neglect his food.”

“One question more, Mr. Coles: Would you cut his food, if it was green-stuff, for instance?''

“Certainly not Colonel, this may be done late enough on Saturday to suffice for good and proper food on Sunday.”

“Ah! I see! We are not far off, I am persuaded. We have been running in parallel lines and both lines are reasonable. Good-bye. In fifteen minutes we dine.”

“I will be there, colonel.”

“And now young ladies, three, and young gentleman, one, you must have thought us very rude,” said Colonel Tomlinson, “but we have been discussing a religious topic, which became so very interesting that we—or, speaking for myself,—I forgot that there were others in our company.”

“Don't mention it, colonel,” said Mr. Wright, “we also have been holding a discussion. Did you see the old lady in the corner seat?”

“For shame, Mr. Wright,” said Miss Thomas, “she is a very good old woman, I am sure!”

“No doubt; I said nothing to the contrary; but as a fidgety old maid, the thought would insist on having a place in my mind, whether old maids or old bachelors were equally to be condemned?”

“I expect you took the practical part of the question, and, determining not to be a bachelor, you inflicted a penalty on those who differed from you.”

“Yes, Colonel Tomlinson,” said Lottie Gumby, “he was right savage about it.''

“And you did your best, Miss Pretty-one, to goad him on to a climax, I expect!”

“Now, Colonel Tomlinson!”

“Ah! I know, I know,” said the colonel; “but dinner is waiting. Julia and Mr. Stewart are already at the house. Miss Thomas will dine with us, and I suppose we shall see you all at 7! Adieu!”

CHAPTER XXXI.—AN ALARM.

Mrs. Welland took her Bible into the dining-room shortly after Colonel Tomlinson and the rest had left, and Alice, with an interesting book, adjourned to the verandah, both having the same purpose in view—viz., a quiet afternoon's reading. The elderly lady was very soon deeply immersed in a retrospective view of past events, suggested by the sermon of the morning. More than an hour thus passed away, and Alice, finding that the book with all its attractions failed to keep her awake, went into the garden, and as this was always a favorite spot with her, she wandered up and down admiring the flowers, and plucking some to form a nosegay. At length she reached the extreme limit of the kitchen garden, and after watching the bees she took out her watch, and finding that it only wanted half an hour of the time which was fixed for dinner on Sundays, she set out to return, when a loud shriek reached her ears, which was followed by another, and again by a third. Much alarmed, Alice ran hastily up to the house, and found Mrs. Welland lying on the floor apparently dead. She looked around and outside the house, called, shouted, “Is anyone here?” but not a sound could be heard. The housemaid was gone to Mr. Brown's, and there was no one within reach of the house nearer than Mrs. Gumby. To run to her she thought would be useless, for she had a most unhappy habit of falling into hysterics under the least excitement. Alice was no mere novice in such casualties, but she had never known her mother to be subject to fits, moreover she had been so well, so quiet, and composed, that her present condition was unaccountable. However, no time was to be lost; she felt that the pulse was beating very strongly, the breathing being quiet, so, applying stimulants, after a while Mrs. Welland moved her hand to her head, then opened her eyes, and fixing them on Alice said, “Where is he?”

“Who, dearest mother?” said Alice, with tears in her eyes.

“Where is he?”

“Don't, now don't look so, dear mother, I am here, your Alice! What is it?”

The terrified woman kept hold of Alice's hand, which she had seized, with the strength of a vice, and still kept rolling her eyes to the right and left as if she was looking for something.

But now the sound of horses cantering up the road was heard, and in another minute Julia Tomlinson and James Stewart arrived. Alice called to them, and Julia coming in first, with an inquiring look, bent down by the side of Alice and whispered, “What is it?”

“I do not know. Where is the colonel?”

Julia immediately dispatched Stewart for him, and returned to find Mrs. Welland sobbing bitterly. This was continued with increasing hysterical signs, during which Colonel Tomlinson came in, and, with Mr. Stewart's aid, Mrs. Welland was carried to her room and laid upon her bed. Here she became quieter, and again opening her eyes she fixed them upon Colonel Tomlinson, and in a whispered voice said, “I have seen him.”

He needed nothing more to tell him who she meant. With a look of intense vexation he replied, “It is come then. Poor Kate, your life has been a bitter one.”

Explanations followed as far as the colonel felt that he was at liberty to give them, and Mrs. Welland was left in charge of Alice and Julia, while the gentlemen adjourned to partake of a hastily prepared dinner. This was always a cold collation on Sunday, but not less sumptuous on this account. Over the wine the colonel related somewhat of Mrs. Welland's troubles, excluding everything of a personal character which he considered it unnecessary to introduce. He had only just completed the narrative when Julia appeared, and announced that Mrs. Welland wished to speak with him.

It was customary to conclude the Sabbath with a conversational service, which, on moonlight nights, was attended by others, in addition to the family and Mr. Coles. A scriptural incident, such as a miracle, or a part of Jewish history, and at times a whole chapter, was read by each in turn, and then a conversation ensued.

Anyone was at liberty to illustrate by their own experience the subject of the evening or any part of it, and very frequently some lively and instructive discussions ensued. The clergyman always presided, and upon difficult questions simply read the opinions of eminent writers, who had commented upon the text. At 8 o'clock the conversation was brought to a close, the evening hymn was sung, and an extempore prayer concluded the Sabbath services.

After the service this evening, the colonel requested Mr. Coles and Mr. Stewart to favor him with a few minutes, as he wished to consult them upon an important and pressing matter. Of course they assented, and into the drawing-room the colonel led the way.

“My dear sirs,” said he, “I am surrounded with difficulties which threaten much vexation and trouble. I told you, after dinner, somewhat of dear Mrs. Welland's troubles. What think you?”

“That her husband is near at hand?” said Stewart.

“True; and has appeared to her,” said the colonel.

“And is the same man whom you saw at Mr. Baines' station,” continued Stewart.

“No! Is he though?” said the colonel. “How do you know this, James? Are you sure of it?”

“Quite sure, colonel. I had it from his own lips. Had not Argyle so foolishly, as I think, attempted to arrest him, something might have been done for him.”

“But surely, James, you could not have recommended any step by which our friend would have been again troubled with so abominable a wretch?”

“I do not know, colonel; I saw him under circumstances which would have melted the stoutest heart.”

“So have I, James, seen many of these fellows weep in their cells as if their heart was breaking, but they were as bad as any devils in hell could be, after the sickness was over.”

“Ah! but this man is an extraordinary creature.”

“Indeed he is, James!”

“I do not mean that he is so, as you look upon his character and history, Colonel Tomlinson. He is a wild man, but retains many of the remnants and recollections of an early religious education.”

“But even this, James, surely ought not to have any weight with you in the face of his most frightful turpitude.”

“Will you excuse me, gentlemen, both of you?” said Mr. Coles, “I am evidently judging the question upon premises which are most unsatisfactory. What has the man done?”

“He has committed forgery and murder,” said Colonel Tomlinson.

The clergyman lifted up his hands in horror as he replied, “And he is the husband of our good friend?”

“Yes.”

“This is frightful indeed,” said Mr. Coles.

“But is there no forgiveness for such?” said Stewart.

“Forgiveness to the uttermost, if such truly repent, and ask for pardon through Christ.”

“I believe this, Mr. Coles, and I would fain seek the guilty creature, and try to reclaim him.”

“Stay, stay, James!” said Colonel Tomlinson. “Your strong Christian principles may carry you beyond the bounds of prudence. My feeling hovers between love and esteem for our dear friend, Mrs. Welland—who is, in fact, Mr. Coles, no other than Mrs. Judd—duty to the state, and a hope to save this guilty creature from final ruin. Allow me to ask a question—Would more commiseration for the sufferings of a convicted felon be considered a sufficient plea why he should be again received into favor, confidence, and love? I confess that I am unable to see it in this light.”

“Undoubtedly you are right, colonel,” said Stewart, “if strict justice is insisted on.”

There was silence for a minute or two, and then Colonel Tomlinson said, “This man is amongst the blacks, a large tribe of which is camped in the neighborhood. We shall have to rout them out of their haunt.”

“Pardon me,” said Stewart; “I feel strongly about this poor follow. What think you—would it be safe to go to the blacks' camp, and try to speak to him? I am ready to go.”

“Very generous and good, indeed, James. But what would your object be? To restore to Mrs. Judd an unworthy husband? I do not think that any of us would thank you for such philanthropic zeal; for I must give you credit for a feeling which I could not sympathise in. If you were to lose your life in the attempt, I know of more than one who would rather that the criminal came to grief than his victim.”

“Many thanks, colonel, for such words.”

“There is a point which I think you have not considered,” said Mr. Coles. “Will not this man be a constant plague to you now?”

“I have thought of that, my dear sir, and more than that. We shall all be in danger every hour of our lives. Even to-night I must set a watch around the premises.”

“God is our refuge and strength, colonel; a very present help in trouble.”

“True, Mr. Coles; and now is the time to practice what you preached.”

“My labor, then, will not be in vain. Good night, my dear friend. 'Joy cometh in the morning.'”

So the Sabbath ended, with another illustration of the truth, “We know not what a day may bring forth.”

CHAPTER XXXII.—REVELATIONS FOR ALICE.

Mrs. Judd was seriously ill the next morning. The long and terrible strain upon her nervous system had received a severe shock, of a far more serious character than any she had yet experienced since the terrible night when Judd committed the murder at Leyton. It was necessary to keep her very quiet and to administer soothing medicines, and even these failed for some time to produce any satisfactory effect. It was more than three weeks before she was able to leave her bed, and fully a week longer before she appeared amongst the family. In the meantime the blacks appeared to have removed away from the neighborhood, for nothing further was heard of them, which was a source of great congratulation with all.

It was about a month after Judd had appeared so suddenly to his poor wife that she was sitting in an arm chair. “My child,” she said to Alice, “I want to talk to you. You remember, my dear, that Sabbath when Mr. Coles preached from the text, 'God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.' It was on that day I had my fright. Your father appeared to me.”

“My father?”

How carefully the secret had been kept from the daughter may be conceived.

“Yes,” said Mrs. Judd, “your father. Listen, dearest, it is a tale of sorrow as well as horror that I have to tell you, but I think you ought to know it, even though the knowledge may be as it has been to me, a source of the deepest grief. About thirty years ago I was married to your father, we were not young, but we had known each other for some years. He was not vicious, but I could not call him steady, nor was I at that period so consistently regular in religious observances as I ought to have been. Had it been otherwise perhaps I might not have suffered the afflictions which I have undergone.

“For a time we were tolerably happy in a nice comfortable home at Southampton. Your father always represented himself as engaged in custom house work, visiting the ships which came into port. I soon found out, however, that a great deal of smuggling was mixed up with his employment; I more than suspect that it was his sole pursuit. How foolish I was not to inquire more closely into his life than I did. But my father knew him, and liked him; and many an evening they sat over their pipes and grog, talking over their adventures and the people amongst whom they spent their lives, for my father was the captain of a trading vessel, and sometimes your father would go with him, especially when he crossed over to France, which he did frequently.

“I think it was about three years after we were married that one night your father brought to our house three rough-looking men. They were bold, reckless fellows; one might have seen that at a glance, but I was not prepared for such iniquity as they were capable of. They had been talking, smoking, and drinking about an hour, when one of them said, 'Perhaps the dame would so oblige as to allow them to have a little private chat about some very important business, which, as it concerned the customs, was necessarily a secret.' I replied, 'between my husband and myself there are no secrets, but I do not want to be mixed up with anything you do.”

“'Oh!' said the man, 'missus is cross.'”

“'Yes,' I replied, 'I am cross, and more than that, I am insulted by my house being invaded by those who cannot mean good, when they wish to send the mistress away from her own fireside.'”

“'Oh! Kate,' said your father, 'it is not so bad as that. You shall know all by-and-by.'”

“'I don't want to know, Henry,' said I, and left the room.'”

“Well, my dear, the men remained till near midnight, and were drunk before they left. Your father came to bed nearly as bad as they, and nothing more was said that night. In the morning he said 'that a very profitable proposal was made to him by these men, by which he could make a lot of money very quickly.'”

“Then he told me that one of them was the owner of a ship which did a little free-trading.”

“Smuggling,” I replied.

“'Well, smuggling,' he said, 'but we like the other word best.'”

“'Henry,' said I, laying my hand on his shoulder and kissing his forehead, 'we may be happy without these ill-gotten riches, every penny of which may be taken from us in a moment. If you embark in this matter you will kill me, and it may be, your babe also. Do not, do not, I entreat you; do not do this wicked thing.'”

“'I will not,' said he, and he went out.”

“The day passed away, and he did not come home until night, when he told me that he had seen the men, and had declined their proposal. Moreover he had heard of a situation, and he was going to apply for it; he obtained that situation, Alice, and I thought we should be happy yet. Shortly after you were born.”

“I will not enter into the particulars of our removal from Southampton, but merely tell you that it was mainly brought about by the conviction of James Stewart, for forgery.”

“I see you start with surprise. I do not wonder at it. I was more astonished than you were; grieved, heart-stricken, half insane, when I found out that your father was the forger and James Stewart his victim. He had, unknown to me, become involved with those men, and being threatened by one of them with summary proceedings in the shape of an anonymous letter to his employer, if the sum of forty pounds was not paid within a week, he forged a cheque for this amount, obtained the money, and sent James Stewart into gaol.”

“We soon removed into Suffolk, and for a time your father went on steadily. He was employed by a person who knew him in Southampton, and through whose influence he also obtained another office, that of manager or secretary to a farmers' club. I did not know till long afterwards why we removed to Suffolk, or anything about the forgery; in fact, your father's life was one continued series of deceptions.”

“One night I was sitting alone, waiting for him to come home, it was market night, and occasionally it was late before the farmers left the town. I had put you to bed and sat down to work; suddenly I heard footsteps approaching the house very hurriedly. I had risen to open the door, but before I could do so your father rushed into the room. Our house had no passage, so the front door opened into the room where I was sitting.”

“'My good God,' I exclaimed, as I saw him, what have you done?' I did not think of the words, but spoke in the impulse of the moment, in a way which I could never account for.”

“'Done!' he cried, 'why do you ask me?' 'Because there is blood upon you,' I said. 'Blood!' he replied, 'where?' 'On your head,' I cried out.”

“He misunderstood me. I meant that there was blood on his face, but he took it in another sense, that blood rested upon his head. He burst out, 'Tis the blood of young Rouse, then!'”

“'Who?' I exclaimed, in horror, for the truth began to flash upon my mind.”

“Oh, hang you!' he replied, 'give me some water.'”

“No!' said I, 'go to the sink and get it yourself Judd, you have reached the height at last.'”

“'What height?' he exclaimed, 'the gallows? Never! I'll cut my throat first.'”

“It was then that I fell down on my knees by the side of your cot, and cried out, 'O, my God, hear me, from this moment I take this child and we will together seek our way through this world. O, God, protect this babe, her father is no more.'”

“He had come to my side as I spoke, and his appearance was altogether wild and ghastly.”

“'Kate,' he said, 'I am lost, I know, but I have heard that a wife, of all others in the world, should defend and shield her husband. Will you betray me?'”

“I hesitated, for I could not speak. If anyone had given me a thousand pounds I could not have replied at that moment, and he again put the question to me.”

“I said, 'Go; go, Judd, the place is not safe for you. Murder will out. I feel something within me which tells me that the messengers of vengeance are after you.'”

“'Where, where?' he cried, and with a shriek he rushed from the house. I tried to restrain him, but in vain, he was gone. I saw him again but only for a few minutes. In a few days I left Suffolk to visit my aged mother, and soon after I heard that your father was in custody upon another charge, and upon this he was convicted and transported for life. Alice, I never saw him from that day until the Sunday when you found me, as you say, senseless upon the floor.”

“I was reading my Bible and was thinking, when, hearing a rustling noise, I opened my eyes and saw a man standing on the verandah.”

“'Who are you?' I exclaimed, 'and what do you want?'”

“He did not reply, and I repeated the question. He then said, 'Kate!'”

“I heard no more but fell from my chair, and when I came to myself you were kneeling by my side. You know the rest.”

It was an effort for Mrs. Judd to get through this history, and as she concluded Alice found that she was completely exhausted.

It was, therefore, with intense pleasure that she saw her mother drop off into a profound sleep. She sat by her side watching her, and thinking over the revelation to which she had listened; but the longer she thought the deeper became the impression in reference to that mother's love.

“Bless you, bless you,” she exclaimed mentally, “may God Almighty bless you, indeed, my mother.”

CHAPTER XXXIII.—ODDS AND ENDS, ALL ABOUT MARRIAGE, &c.

The period of the minister's marriage with Miss Thomas drew on, and great preparations were anticipated, but finally it was decided that the affair should be as quiet and unpretending as the principal personages who were concerned in it. Miss Thomas has been only barely introduced. She was not only the governess at The Vineyard but also the superintendent of the Sunday school; but in our account of Sunday at Burnham Beeches, no mention of the school has been made. It was not held every Sunday; on the first Sunday in the month there was no service at the place where Mr. Coles preached in the afternoon, and the opportunity was afforded of holding a service for young people at the church at the station. The school exercises lasted until 4, then Mr. Coles delivered a short discourse referring to the lesson of the day, after which a hymn was chanted, and the proceedings ended.

Miss Thomas superintended the general arrangements. She was in every respect a minister's wife, or rather fitted to be a help mate to a minister. How many are not so? Happy is the man who has a wife, in the holiest sense wedded to him and also to the work he has to do. Such a woman Miss Thomas gave good evidence that she was, and hence there were many joyous anticipations about the intended marriage.

I am quite sure it was not leap year, for there was an odd number in the calendar, but yet the number of courtships which were going on in, near, and around Burnham Beeches, was something to speak of.

First, there was the parson and Miss Thomas—it may be vouched upon authority that the former commenced the suit, although the lady said she believed that he had thought well of her at first sight. Bless the women, what keen eyes they have about such questions.

Next in order came Miss Julia and Mr. Stewart. The order is reversed, but yet I am quite safe in protesting against the smallest installation that the lady courted the gentleman, always excepting her attractive and winning ways which, if any marriageable young men could have resisted, they deserved to remain bachelors all their life long. Mr. Stewart no sooner saw, but it was a match; “And,” said Mrs. Gumby, “if it had been otherwise, I should have called them a couple of fools.”

Next came Mr. Wright and Julia Gurney. This was at first an ill-assorted courtship. He was dull, his life was monotonous; in reality Stewart had cut him out. He considered J. T. was secure, but thought he would take time to consider about it, “when lo! up popped Mr. J. S., and Mr. W. was sold.” These are his own words, and doubtless they are correct. So in desperation he began a flirtation with both the Miss Gumbys, which flirtation extended as far as Alice Judd, but the commendable prudence and sincere affection of Julia Gumby settled his love, and finally he embarked upon a voyage of speculative engagement, “not knowing, I do assure you,” said he, “where it may terminate in a delightful paradise, or a jolly row for life.” Women say that a man is what a woman makes him. Perhaps it is so.

Then there was, an absolute courtship going on at Rooksnest, between one Sally Brown and John Bull. You never saw a better specimen of John Bull than this young fellow, and I much question if you ever knew of a woman better adapted to become Mrs. John Bull. They were both of them strong, healthy, stout, ruddy, jolly-looking people. Mother had put Sally to work before she was as high as the table, and now, as her mother said, “there is not a thing in all house or farm work she could not do.” If you had seen this mother I warrant you would never have forgotten her. Never afraid of work herself, “she had trained up her girls in the way they should go,” and Mrs. Brown's notion about this way was, that it meant work.

There was no real rubbish corner in Mrs. Brown's house. “A rubbish corner! If it is rubbish, out with it, that's what I say. Just like you are, sir, now blocking up the way. Come, go to your business, and let us do ours.” This advice was given to her most devoted husband, who had dropped in one day to tell his better half—which half is it, the right or left?—that he had heard that Black Bill, of Leyton, was actually hanging on to Bet, Mrs. Sinclair's black girl.

Black Bill went over to Mr. Sinclair's house with a letter; naturally enough he was told to wait, and as few people over went to The Vineyard without having a feed, he was entertained with plenty of bread and meat, and being a favorite with Mrs. Sinclair she ordered the housemaid to make him some tea. The housemaid in her dignity, considering that black people were quite good enough to wait upon individuals of the same color, set Betty to do the needful, in the exercise of which duty she approached so near to Billy that he began to grin. She laughed, she could not grin of course; then the gentleman 'hitched up' as it is termed, the lady of course appreciated such a profession of intimacy and smoothed her curls, and then, as she was in the act of putting the meat on the table, Billy, seeing the coast clear, pulled the darling creature down upon his knee, kissed her, and received a gift in return, which he termed “a spanking slap.” But they quite understood one another. This was not the first time that they had rehearsed this little piece of darlingism; but how it was to end they neither of them knew. Black Bill fancied that one day he should be rich enough to do something, and as for Betty, she always said, “All right, Bill, I no forget.”

When are they all to be married? 75 per cent. of the tales necessitate a few courtships and weddings to follow, and half the law-suits and disagreeables in the world are consequent upon them. Abraham found a wife and no end of family troubles because there was no son. Isaac took a wife after one of the shortest wooings that ever was known, and a fearful series of deceptions followed; the son aiding the mother, and bringing upon himself and family some most terrible fatalities. Moses had a strange creature who called him husband, and if David had not been so arrantly foolish as to think another man's wife prettier than any other woman in the world, his name would not be scorned by the infidel as it is now-a-days. Solomon was ruined by his wives. Ahab, perhaps of all men, had as bad a woman for a wife as it is possible for woman to be; and some old grumbling bachelors have passed their opinions freely about marriage, in consequence of these abominations. But does it follow that because there are sundry bad people in the world, who, if they were not wicked in this particular way would be Satanic in some other, that a great institution is to be condemned? We trow not. The promises are not correct, the conclusion is not good. Upon the same reasoning it would be right to condemn eating and drinking, for sometimes the former produces a fit of bile, and the latter a power of mischief.

Marriage is not a lottery—or, if any look on it as such, it is their own fault if the drawing does not produce a prize. It is true there are exceptions; but let a mother act her part steadily, assiduously, perseveringly, seeking God's blessing, and her daughters will arise to call her blessed.

Now, this is a chapter upon odds and ends, but it will serve as the digest of a sermon which Mr. Coles preached the Sunday before he was married; and people said generally that at all events the parson was not going to feel qualmish about it.

“Why should he?” said Mrs. Sinclair. “He will have one of the nicest little creatures for a wife that I ever saw.”

“Except one,” said Mr. Sinclair.

“Or always excepting another,” thought Mr. Stewart, “who is supreme, above them all.”

Mr. Wright heard the sermon, and said “Humph,” and Captain Oliver thought it was a subject which ministers might leave alone. But Colonel Tomlinson contended stoutly that, as Paul had written largely about it—that as Christ had expressed his approbation of it, there was a good reason why such subjects should more frequently be brought before the people.

If any doubt it, we can assure them that the marriage of the Rev. Edward Coles with Miss Mary Jane Thomas, was solemnised with the earnest prayer that the God of Israel “would be pleased to go with them in their journey through life, and give them rest.” How different would weddings be if they were solemnised with such an appeal to Heaven.

CHAPTER XXXIV.—A HUNTING EXPEDITION.

Captain Oliver was convalescent; Captain Oliver could not rest indoors; what was Captain Oliver to do? Station life was too monotonous. Why did he not go to Sydney or home as he had intended? For the best of reasons, which, if you have ever been to law, you must well know: the glorious uncertainty of this privilege of mortals to deal with judges, counsel, briefs, and juries, as long as there is any money to keep the mill going, said mill being, in law, the wheels of the Supreme Court. Captain Oliver had a lawsuit; it was decided in his favor, as his attorneys said it would be, and the very next day they wrote to him to lament that the defendant would not take 'no' for an answer. The cunning follows of course knew that from the first—who does not? where there are two litigants who have plenty of money and a tolerable stock of fighting ability? “Give in! my dear sirs, of course I will not,” wrote Captain Oliver, without a moment's delay. His attorneys knew this before they communicated with him; but then there was an extreme pleasure in writing to the Captain, and this was increased to exquisite satisfaction when they received a cheque from him on account, with full instructions to prosecute his suit to the final issue, whatever that might be. It gave the excellent attorneys no kind of pain whatever to answer, “his instructions should have their best attention.” If it were not for the expense, it is something very satisfactory to look upon grand sheets of foolscap, with broad margins, which are sacred to the memory of blank, who is one of the most noted of beings in the book of law. So Captain Oliver gladly assented to Colonel Tomlinson's persuasive invitation to wait the issue of the case by remaining at Burnham Beeches.

But what was he to do? Reading he had had enough of during his forced retirement from active life. Fishing he was not fond of, and mere indolence made him fidgetty. “What say you to hunting?”

“The very thing,” he replied, as Colonel Tomlinson put the question to him, “if there is anything to hunt.”

“A few miles farther on,” replied the colonel, “there is a place where you may have both hunting and shooting. I should like a little spell of this kind. We can take two of the men, and have a week of it.”

“Capital, colonel,” said his visitor, “it will do us both good.”

So a plentiful supply of provisions, together with a camping tent, guns, revolvers, and plenty of ammunition were duly packed up. A brace of kangaroo dogs, with a tall, stately Newfoundland fellow of the same family, and a real bull dog were considered to be indispensible to the expedition, and they very gladly accepted the invitation to enjoy a few days' dissipation.

Some very critical people may object to Colonel Tomlinson as a Christian when they see him in this new light as a sportsman; but this involves a very difficult question, namely, the right to take away life at all, and if this is conceded, the world would have to be vacated by mankind. Killing for food, and slaughtering for the skins of animals is a very nice distinction when weighed in the balance. To carry the question farther is absurd, for, by the same rules it is possible to object to the Almighty's action in destroying insect life by the million in a thunderstorm. Cruelty in torturing a poor beast is an offence which should be dealt with by the judge.

Colonel Tomlinson and his friend had no more compunction in setting out upon this expedition than they had, just before 12 o'clock, in camping for a couple of hours to supply the cravings of their inner man, which they did in a very orthodox sort of way. They were military men, and of course everything was to be done in military order; but there was a spice of comfort about their camping, which they never dreamt of in former campaigns. The distance to be travelled ere the camping-place for the night was reached, forbade a longer rest than about two hours, and a little after 2, everything being packed up again, march the second began.

About 5 o'clock the halt was pronounced, and camping preparations for the night commenced. The place was within gunshot of a lagoon, with a large rock for the background, and a fine grass flat for the floor. A group of trees shut in one side. This was to be the hunting and shooting station for the next three days. They were too tired for sport that night, although one of the men who went to the lagoon for water reported “ducks in any quantity.”

Suffice it to say that every one was hungry, and thirsty too. The tea was very refreshing, the ham and fowl very good, and potted meats, with home-baked bread, and some luxuries to follow, in the shape of the usual smoke and toddy over the evening talk, “it was really good,” said Captain Oliver, “he felt his old preference for camp life coming over him strong.” Of course there were some military yarns about their personal adventures, which resulted in animated discussions, and at 10 o'clock the first sentinel, having had a three-hours' snooze, mounted guard, and the rest rolled themselves up in their blankets, and were soon wrapped in the soundest sleep. Each of them occupied the sentinel's post during the night, with the exception of the captain, whose turn was fixed for the next night instead of the colonel, so that with three hours watch for each, they all managed to get some sleep.

At break of day breakfast was preparing. It was a glorious morning; the air was busily employed in currying vast volumes of sound, in the form of every description of song. Some were harsh in the extreme, but there were many birds whose sharp, clear bell-ringing notes were exceedingly beautiful. It is a common opinion on the other side of the world, that Australian birds have no songs, but it is a mistake. There is one who rings out most merrily all the notes of a complete scale so correctly, that one never tires in listening. It is a little bird, exceedingly active, and its habits are as pretty as its song. Then there is the butcher-bird, whose song is as clear as that of the English blackbird, and who, in a domesticated condition, may be taught to whistle with most perfect accuracy, such ditties as, “There is nae luck about the house.” The piping crow is another favorite, and his acquisitions in song, in a captive state, are exceedingly varied and elegant.

But breakfast being over, the start was made, leaving one of the men and the bull-dog to look after the camp and prepare supper by sundown. The hunting for this day was to be in the neighborhood of the lagoon. First of all, however, the lagoon itself was visited for the purpose of getting some ducks. This was a wearisome task, but Captain Oliver was an old sportsman, and the excitement was something to be put in the scale; but when at last the sound of both the barrels of his gun were heard, it was pretty well known that he had not fired in vain. Nor was it so; three fine fellows had fallen victims to his stealthy perseverance. These the dogs speedily brought to land, and, with anticipations of a savoury supper, they were carried to camp. After this the hunting began in earnest, for it was hoped that a few skins at least would tell the tale of their success on the return home. A vision of kangaroo tail soup also was not unpleasant. Not a creature however was to be seen for the first three miles, and after beating about around the lagoon until mid-day they halted for lunch. It was not, however, until they had nearly reached the camp that they had the slightest chance of getting any reward for a wearisome day's toil, and under such circumstances Australian sport is most monotonous. There is but little variety in the scenery, the heat is great, and the flies and mosquitoes are irritating in the extreme.

The hunters had however at last no reason to complain that there were no animals. All of a sudden, as they were rounding the lagoon, there was a rush of a most unearthly sound, which seemed to come up from the bowels of the earth, and a drove of old-man kangaroos dashed along before them at a thundering pace. There were half-a-dozen at least, in addition to some much smaller. It was beautiful to see them bounding along with tremendous leaps, scarcely touching the ground; and when the dogs were after them and the hunters in full gallop, it was a sight which, if it could have had an English field and a group of red coats as an accompaniment, would equal any English hunt. In about fifteen minutes the loud barking of the Newfoundland dog proclaimed the fact that something was bailed up, which turned out to be a kangaroo with his back against a tree, stoutly defending himself against the dogs. For a while he was quite a match for them, and once he got the Newfoundland between his two fore paws, but turning round a little to avoid the other dogs the big dog got loose again, and soon they stretched their victim upon the ground, breathless with excitement, and yet not more so than their masters. It was an immense fellow, and took some time to skin. Two or three dingoes came rather close to the party, but some beautiful birds were more attractive, and many of these were bagged with a view to preservation by stuffing. Night again brought its accompanying episodes of camp life. The ducks were beautiful, the appetites were, if possible, better; and the supper was followed by another visit to the lagoon, and the slaughter of a few more birds by moonlight.

“How possible it is to live altogether out of doors in this climate,” said Captain Oliver. “Really this is very pleasant.”

The whole party were enjoying the coolness of the evening after their day's sport, the colonel and his friend lying on their rugs just inside the tent, and the men listlessly, half drowsily smoking, thinking, or gazing on the bright moon and the beautiful sky. Venus was sparkling in the west like a circlet of heaven's diamonds, and Jupiter was very close to her, his own light being somewhat paled while that lustrous beauty was yet above the horizon. Canopus was vieing in splendour even with those, and Sirius, equally as bright, glistened as an angel's eye looking down upon earth. Colonel Tomlinson caught something of the spirit which such a sight always produces upon a noble mind, and replied to his friend: “Yes, it is pleasant, especially with such weather as the present. The stars shine too brightly to fear that we shall have rain. Look at that fellow there, Oliver, is he not glorious?”

“It is, colonel. I wish I understood the heavens; it must be interesting.”

“It is indeed! To remember that they move with such perfect accuracy, that they pass at the same instant of vision over the exact line where they were observed a year before! It is superb! And the silent majesty with which they roll onward is the climax of astounding wisdom.”

“Are they inhabited, think you?”

“I delight to believe they are, because this gives so comprehensive an idea of the vastness, as well as the variety and completeness, of the great scheme. You know we read of angels, principalities, powers, &c.”

“Yes, but have you any thought of ever visiting those worlds? Do you think it possible for human beings in another state to have this power?”

“I have a strong belief that in God's great kingdom, each world will have, as it has now, a distinct economy. New vision, of an immensely increased power, will bring us the knowledge of glories which are inconceivable now.”

“And you think everything will appear in proportion brighter and grander?”

“I have no doubt of it. I think our position now is much like that of a man who catches sight of the first streak of early dawn shooting upwards in the eastern sky. If that man had been blind up to that hour, he could have no conception of the glory which attends the rising of the sun; but even this illustration pales when compared with what we shall see.”

“You soar very high, colonel!”

“No higher than the Almighty has given us ability or permission to soar, Oliver.”

“Perhaps not, but far higher than the majority of mankind, I reckon.”

“Whose fault is it?” replied Colonel Tomlinson. “God has revealed nothing which we are not at liberty to search into to the utmost.”

At this instant one of the two men interrupted the conversation by a long drawn “Hush,” which was followed by a silence so profound that for a moment it struck a chill to Colonel Tomlinson's nervous and easily excited system.

“I was unwilling, master,” said the man, in a low tone of voice, “to interrupt your talk, which was becoming very interesting, but for some time I have heard sounds which are like those I have listened to before.”

“What sounds are they?” said the colonel.

“They may be horses, master, but I had much rather think they be men.”

“Men!” they all exclaimed in a breath “where?”

“Let me listen again, master. There,” said he, after the lapse of a few minutes, “did you hear that?”

No; they had heard nothing, and the other man ventured an opinion that “it was their own horses who were feeding, which his mate mistook for men.” He spoke this opinion with all but a contemptuous indifference. “I have been here several times, and nothing ever alarmed me.”

“Perhaps not,” said Colonel Tomlinson, “but that is no reason why we should not be fully on the alert.”

“Put your ear close to the ground, colonel,” said Captain Oliver, “where I am; there is a strange noise. I can hear it plainly now.”

Colonel Tomlinson arose and went out into the open space before the tent, and laid down on the turf, while the men followed his example. The colonel spoke first: “Natives!” said he, “and none of the best, I'll warrant. Those sounds are such as are incidental to a corroboree.”

“They won't come here, then, to-night!” said Captain Oliver.

“No! I venture to say they belong to the tribe with whom we had a brief acquaintance at Mr. Baines' house, captain.”

“No! why do you think that?”

“Because they passed by Burnham a few weeks ago; but let us turn in, the dew is heavy. James, it is your watch first. Don't let the eyes close.”

“Never fear, master, my word, those sounds are a caution. I'll light my pipe and think about them. Go to sleep? My word! no sleep for me.”

The next day Colonel Tomlinson was not well, he was troubled occasionally with the effects of his old wound, and the two days sharp riding had produced some uneasiness in the limb. So Captain Oliver and one of the men went on a hunting expedition, the colonel and his servant remaining in camp, and the latter proposing to his master that he would try and catch a few fish, consent being given, the colonel was left alone.

For some fifty minutes or so the quiet and solitude of the colonel's thoughts were unbroken and he enjoyed it exceedingly. Then he lighted his pipe, and stretching himself upon his rug he opened a volume of his favorite Shakespeare which he had in a very portable form, a beautiful pocket edition, each volumne containing about three of his plays. 'As You Like it' was the play which he had selected, and very soon he was wrapt in the very profound arguments of that classical poem. He was a good reciter, and loved to render some of the best known passages aloud. The splendid passage commencing “All the world's a stage,” was one of these. He had read thus far, and as he was wont to do, recited this passage from memory. “Sans everything.” Again he repeated the words, slowly and distinctly.

“What a picture!” said he, to himself, “and what a position to be in. All gone! all enjoyment of life fled, and very frequently nothing to look forward to but despair at the end, Horrible! most horrible!”

“Most horrible!”

The colonel started. They were distinct words that he heard, and yet the voice was unlike his own. Was there an echo here? He had not heard it before. No, it could not be; he arose instantly, and turning aside the fold of the tent, beheld—

Chapter XXXV.—ROOKSNEST INVADED.

“I am sure I don't know how you stand it, Mrs. Brown, the country does not improve with me. I can't abear it.”

So spake Mrs. Gumby after a hot walk from Burnham to Rooksnest with Miss Lottie, where they found the busy wife of the overseer up to her very eyes in house work.

“Oh, bother!” replied Mrs. Brown, “I don't like the heat sometimes; but what's the odds, so long as you try to be happy.”

“Try to be happy? I have tried as hard as any woman, but there is always some unlucky thing or other turning up to trouble one.”

“I don't know, mother, I think we have had precious little trouble. Father's salary is regular to the day.”

“Did ye ever know us to live in such a place at home, miss? There, now, answer that.”

“No; I am aware of that, mother.”

“Look here, Mrs. Gumby, I says, 'fend or please, we're in for it, and we must make the best on it. All I knows is, I never could save nothing at home, here I can put summut bye, and so might you, if what my old man says is true.”

“What is that, marm?” replied the lady, getting near the borders of want of patience.

“Why you've a better salary nor Sam, and not so many to keep by a few chalks.”

“But then you've been bred up to it, Mrs. Brown; and as for me—”

“You're too fat to work, that's about the size on it; no offence intended, Mrs. Gumby. People always says they likes me, cos I speaks the truth.”

“I must say, Mrs. Brown, you are personal but you don't know what it is to be fat, and so can't sympathise with one in such a position.”

“My good woman,” replied the imperturbable mistress of Rooksnest, “I know far more than you do what it is to sweat for it. I warrant you never nussed your babies as I nussed these brats—may God bless 'em though, for all that.”

“Mother ought to have come out at my age, Mrs. Brown,” said Lottie; “she is to be pitied. At her age things don't look pleasant to one who has lived in a very different way.”

“Different way, indeed? I should think we did, everything first-rate; nice feather beds, beautiful tables and chairs.”

“And did the bootiful chairs add to your peace or your pockets? For my part, I've sat far more comfortable on a heap of sand than I have in a hard bottom chair, only the sand was rayther hot like; but come, sit down on this chair, 'tisn't 'hogany, but it's awful strong. It'll bear ye, no fear.”

In spite of herself, Mrs. Gumby could not help laughing at Mrs. Brown's allusion to her weight, and when the table was laid for “a little simple refreshment,” she began very sensibly to thaw.

“I don't think, Mrs. Brown, that I should mind it so much if I was like you, you know everybody says you're such a good manager.”

“Ditto, Mrs. Gumby.”

“And such an admirable butter-maker.”

“Ditto.”

“And such a clever cook.”

“Ditto again, Mrs. Gumby.”

“Thank you, yes,” replied the rapidly-thawing lady; “but then I never was used to such a country, and such low people as you meet with here.”

“Honest, eh! Mrs. Gumby?”

“Oh yes! I dare say.”

“And willin' to help as far as they can?”

“Yes, yes! pretty well for that.”

“And no starvation?”

“Yes, that's true.”

“And if they can work, no want of it, eh? Mrs. Gumby, come, you'll admit that.”

“Yes,” chimed in Lottie, “but mother says no one ought to begin to learn to work at fifty years of age.”

“Nor to eat either,” said Mrs. Brown with an air which evidently meant, “fiddlesticks,” her favourite word; but Sally came in with the tea things, and this completed the placidity of Mrs. Gumby's countenance, her capacious mouth assumed a resignation which was truly comforting to witness, and the very folding of her hands, and the scientific twiddling of her thumbs imparted a peace which Mrs. Gumby said in a most subdued voice, was the very feeling which pervaded her heart, when she was told “that a man child was born into the world, which man child,” she added, sotto voce, “was, after all, a gall.”

But now the beautiful brown bread was put on the table, home baked, and “having a crust which couldn't be frighted in Ever-so came.” Who Mrs. Brown meant by 'ever-so' is not very clear; but the bread was good, there's no mistake about that, and then some six or seven pounder of a loaf was put alongside the other, as beautifully white as its cousin was brown, then followed a plum-cake, not a plum-seeking cake, and a great, piling plate of the freshest butter which could be. “It looked you hard in the face,” said Lottie, “and said, 'eat me, and welcome.'“ After all this, there appeared upon the scene, Sally with a pumpkin pie; Jenny with a foaming lot of splendid cream; Jacky with a plate of radishes and one of lettuce, and, finally, Harry brought up the rear with a dish full of “the most beautiful sassengers you ever did taste.”

Mrs. Gumby was so delighted with them that she eulogised them in these words.

It was a glorious tea, and in the very nick of time, who should come in but Mr. Brown and his son Bob, who, when he saw the company, blushed up to the very top of his eyebrows.

But “Bob could not help blushing, no, not if you paid him,” and as Sally said this, most likely she knew. Of course there was the usual amount of brushing up. Bob's bran new shirt was sported on this occasion, and a splendid new belt, with on extraordinary fastening, strongly demonstrative of the fact that cricket was the sole employment of Australians, and that slumps and bats constituted the staple commodity of trade. But how rosy he did look, and how pleased to sit alongside of Lottie, and how diligent he was in keeping her supplied with endless courses of every delicacy with which the well-spread table was furnished.

Just too late, in came Mr. Wright and Miss Julia Gumby, but Mrs. Brown would lay the table again, and the young people did justice to the carte blanche, to eat and drink as much as they could.

“Even to bursting,” said Harry Brown. “I bursts the buttons off my breeches sometimes.”

He said this in confidence to Lottie, but she paid him for it by a good slap on the face, and his brother Bob gave him another somewhere else, which sent him away rubbing and protesting that “he should not be able to sit down for a week.”

“Come here then, my dear little fellow, and let me prescribe for you,” said Lottie.

But Harry saw the wink which passed between his brother and the fair speaker, and replied, “not if I knows it; no, no, one such a spanker is enough, you little wretch, you.”

Bob felt half inclined to charge him, and to consign him to solitary imprisonment in the barn, but, as the young urchin was defying his brother to catch him, Mr. Gumby arrived on the scene. Bob waited until the new comer was within a yard or two of the offender, then he made a rush. Harry turned, but not quickly enough; he ran into Mr. Gumby's arms, and Bob caught him in the trap.

Then came a mock trial, with Lottie as the judge, and she sentenced the culprit to kiss every young lady in the place: “Which sentence,” said Harry, “I will quickly obey by kissing none, for none of ye are ladies. Ye are only women.”

This little episode gave a zest to the proposal for a game of kiss-in-the-ring. How Lottie's hair did persist in coming down as the game went on, it was so curious that the calls upon her were so numerous. Sally became almost ferocious, and declared she would not play again unless Mr. Bull was present. She knew that he—

“Would kiss her like Bob is kissing Lottie again!”

“No, Mr. Wright, not that,” replied Sally, now really piqued. But who would have thought it, the good fairies must have chased all the wicked ones away, for Mr. Bull did come, and the storm passed over.

Now the fun became furious. The sun had set, but the moon was splendidly bright, and 'hide and seek,' 'hunt the slipper,' and similar games, created good humor and laughter in abundance.

The worst of it was the impossibility for the courting couples to be alone. The young Browns were like a bag of fleas, if such a thing can be conceived, the fleas being “teasing fidgets.”

“Go along with you,” said Sally to Jacky, who had suddenly become so enamoured of Mr. Bull that he conceived an earnest desire to walk by his side, “in the most delicious bit of moonlight shade you ever saw.” She poured out these words into Jenny's ear, as they were going to bed that night, as if she had lost the finest prince in the world. But as from that day Jacky frequently addressed his sister as “my angel,” or “my sweetlips,” it is surmised that the presence of her brother, on the occasion to which reference has been made, was very inconvenient. But the old folks, what were they doing all the while? Mrs. Gumby was contented; she was in her glory cutting out some new dresses. No one is perfect, and Mrs. Brown, as a dressmaker, was nothing at all. She could make coats, and other articles of men's attire, as well as any tailor, but here her skill in needle work ended, and, anyone who did not know her, if they saw her in her Sunday dress, would have put her down for a slattern and a gossip.

Mrs. Gumby was in a critising mood. She told Mrs. Brown that her dress had been spoilt in the making. “Good stuff, you know, first rate, but the work,” here Mrs. Gumby actually sneered, “the work is beastly.”

Mrs. Brown blushed slightly, she had made the dress, and considered it pretty and becoming to her, “and,” said she to Miss Sally afterwards, “my choler began to rise, but I kept it down. Sally, the 'ooman was impident, but I made use of her for all that.”

“How did you keep your collar down, mother?” said Sally.

“My choler, Sally, I said.”

“I understand, mother, I pinned it on your dress yesterday.”

“Pinned it on my dress, you stoopid. How could you pin choler on to a dress, I don't mean a collar, but my choler!”

Sally was non-plussed, but far from convinced. It was not very long before the criticism upon her dress elicited the fact that another was about to be manufactured, and of course Mrs. Gumby wished to see it. Then she thought it would be ten thousand pities if this one was spoilt like the other, Mrs. Brown inwardly fretting and fuming to hear her inuendos. Finally she volunteered to cut out the dress, and—positively the last head—then she agreed to let Lottie make it. The two ladies trotted along famously after that, Mrs. Gumby being in a highly patronising and comfortable mood, and Mrs. Brown taking in the art and mystery of cutting-out as if the present moment was the last that could possibly be expected in which to learn all about “gowns and such-like for evermore.”

But when Mrs. Gumby had completed the responsible task, and presented Mrs. Brown with three yards of stuff which were not required, her delight knew no bounds.

“Three yards of stuff over! Bless my corns! and I thought there wouldn't be enough.”

“More there wouldn't, if some had done it, Mrs. Brown, but cutting-out is warm work and thirsty, there.”

“Which means, Mrs. Gumby, what I was agoing to propose, that a drop of gin would be very acceptable.”

Mrs. Gumby folded her hands resignedly as she listened to these comforting words, and doubtless feeling exhausted, first she sighed, then she hummed a line of “Kiss me quick and go,” artistically blending the last line of the Old Hundred Psalms tune as the next stanza, finally bursting forth into “England expects that every man this day will do his duty.” But to an appreciative audience, the finale would have sounded very like “buy a broom;” and if they had pleased to do so, they might have set it down as a fact that the duty which Englishmen had to do consisted in buying brooms.

But the steaming hot grog with the lemons completely stopped the music, but increased the talk, in which talk the men had considerable share, and when the young folks strolled in, which was not until long after the usual hour of retiring to rest at Rooksnest, and the visitors began to prepare for going home, Mrs. Gumby was magnificently gracious. It had been a pleasant day for all, and if Mrs. Brown could have had a little piece of Mrs. Gumby's skill in dressmaking, and the latter a little spice or two of the excellent perseverance of Mrs. Brown, perhaps they would have managed better than they did. The mistress of Rooksnest contrived to be the better workwoman for Mrs. Gumby's visit, for her keen perception had enabled her to see where she had failed; but Mrs. Gumby, alas! she fell down to her usual freezing point long before she reached home, in which condition she remained for three whole days after. During these memorable hours she jerked out at occasional intervals some words of a remarkable character, 'contemptible'—'horribly ignorant'—'impertinent creature'—'pig stye;' but to whom they related could not be clearly understood. Her gentle half thought it was the jolliest time he had known for a long time, and he took care to improve it to his own peculiar delight. Alas! the lady awoke out of her trance, and gave him such a wigging that his pipe lost every bit of its usual aroma.

So lived Mr. and Mrs. Gumby, practicing extremes in which happiness reigned for a while, and then came a season of bitter reproach and discontent. No woman could be more of a housewife when she liked, but when she fell into her moody murmurings, everything went to ruin. Of course this only make life more wretched, for the habit gains strength by experience, and by the time they resolved to return to England Mrs. Gumby had sunk into a listless indifference about her own comfort or that of anybody else. Had she made the best of it, and acted as a wise woman should under the circumstances in which she found herself, she might have succeeded, even at her age, in making a home in Australia.

Chapter XXXVI.—WAS IT REAL.

Burnham Beeches had its little reunion the same day. The entertainment was neither a dinner not a tea-party, but a picnic in a secluded spot in a romantic part of the range. The swags, looking capacious enough to hold provisions for a week, were in charge of the men who were to accompany the expedition, and about half past 9, this advanced guard started, the guests following, and the rear being—most appropriately to the gentleman's feelings—composed of Master Black Bill and Mistress Black Betty.

“Why should not us have a bit of chat, Betty, as well as massa and missus?”

“I'se no objection, Billy, so long as you talk in de reglar way.”

“What is tat way, Betty?”

“Why, civil, good talk, Billy, and mind, nuffin 'bout kissin.”

“Us don't talk about kissin, Betty, us does tat sort of ting!”

“Then you mus not do it, that's what I mean, Billy.”

“Oh! of course not, Betty, except when massa he turn de corner, ten we may.”

“No, den you must not do it. I no allow not one kissin all dis day!”

“Not if I admire you, and begin to say, Betty she look so pretty, and she so very nicely dressed, and her pretty lips dey do look so temptin?”

“There now do stop your jabber, do, and take one, only one, when dey shoots round de corner. Now, Billy, now, quick!”

Quick as it was it was not quick enough to be concealed, but on the party went, descending into defiles and glens so beautiful, that exclamations of delight were frequently heard from all. The prospect over the low-land—ever and anon as they reached a spot where they could look through the trees—was most enchanting. Hill and mountain, rocky fastnesses and patches of scrub, the scene ever shifting, and always having some new feature, made this romantic spot most interesting and attractive.

About half past 10 the party arrived at their destination. It was at the foot of a hill which rises out of a valley which is densely wooded, having here and there patches of open grass-land, some large enough for a cricket ground, and others only of a few feet in diameter.

“Now, Betty,” said Mrs. Sinclair, “if you have really completed the kissing, please to take charge of Miss Mary.”

“Here, Billy,” said Mrs. Sinclair, “I want you.”

Master Bill ran merrily up, but stopped short as he saw Betty behind Mrs. Sinclair, holding up both her clenched fists as if she would give it him; but he had no time for much thought, for Mrs. Sinclair accosted him with a question which unfolded the mystery to his acute understanding.

“Billy, you must not be too free with my servant, do you hear?”

“Free? I do assure you I neber wishes to be free with him at all!”

“I did not say him, Billy, I said my servant!”

“Do you mean—Oh! of course you do, you mean Betty! I neber free wit her, Missus Sinclair, I al'ays 'spectful.”

“I dare say you are.”

“Al'ays, missus, I do assure you!”

“Except when you kiss her along the road, Billy.”

“Me kiss 'long de road? Tat very good, very good indeed. I neber hear a better ting.”

“I told mistress you did do it, Billy, so 'tis no use to deny it.”

“Me deny it, Missee Betty? I neber deny nuffin. I only say, 'tat very good.'”

“Which do you mean is very good, Billy? Your speech is not very clear.”

“Not bery clear! no, it is not bery clear which I mean, Missus Sinclair; but de fact is, I so much pleased wit eberybody and eberyting, tat I link I could kiss eberybody.”

“Which I would not 'vise you to attempt, you impudent follow,” said Betty. “I reg'lar 'shamed on you!”

“Now, just see tis, Missus Sinclair. Madam, I only just express tat I in mighty good humor, 'tis my way of speakin; but I will promise—”

“Not to kiss my servant any more to-day!”

“Not for de present, Missus. Sinclair, no more at present, as tey say in de letter's.”

The lunch was a splendid affair. There were pigeon pies, ham, tongues, roast fowls, chicken pies, and an abundance of other pastry, with excellent cheese to follow, some most inviting salad, and mellons and pineapples. It was not a teetotal lunch, for there was pale ale, stout, wine, and champagne. Nor was it a formal lunch, for everyone put on the free and easy to their heart's content, and thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

Nor was it a hurried lunch, for the shade was delicious, the grass elastic, the air balmy and soft, the scene all around attractive, the conversation pleasant, and the ring of merry laughter, which rang through the valley, might have been heard far away.

Then they had a song or two, and Mr. Coles recited a scene from 'Katherine and Petruchio' which provoked many a laugh, and was received with much applause. Then a proposal was made to take a walk, and a unanimous assent being given, the banquet came to an end.

The lengthening shade, however, bade them remember that they had to get back to the station, but not before they had explored a number of nooks and corners and fairies' haunts, as Miss Mary Sinclair called them, did they think about home. It had been a most enjoyable day to all, and when the beautiful coolness of the evening breeze invited them to drink in its precious influence, they all declared that “they had never enjoyed themselves so much.”

How often this phrase is repeated in life! If true, each enjoyment is something better than the last; what will the last be if these are good? Not one joy is felt here, but something of dissatisfaction defaces it; there! up there, felicity will be complete. This was the purport of the conversation homeward.

“What a beautiful world this is!” said Mr. Coles.

No one had any objection to make just then, so no one replied.

“It is true,” continued Mr. Coles, after a pause, “there are many drawbacks.”

“You are right,” replied Mr. Sinclair, “everywhere you find them.”

“And everywhere they are deserved.”

“I don't see that, Mr. Stewart. Mind ye, I'm not speaking of myself now, but I've seen many of the best people grievously afflicted.”

“What is they talking 'bout?” said Betty to Bill, as he returned to her side after going forward to his master, who had cooeyed for him.

“'Bout bumberlation, or sumting like tat.”

“Bumberlation? What's dat, Billy?”

“Sumting 'bout music, I know, but what part, I can't zackly recollect.”

“Bumberlation 'bout music! Now, Billy, you are cramming me.”

“Cramming you, my dearest loved one? I neber crammed nobody in my life.”

“Well, den, tell me what you mean.”

“Fust and formost, now, Jeroosalem! I'se tellin you de truth. Mr. Coles said dey cumed out of great bumberlation.”

“Dat ar'n't music, stoopid, dat's Scripture. I knows it well. Dat's in Revelation, it is! and it says dat dey sealed ever so many thousand—I can't exactly any how many..”

“Sealed 'em? What with, Betty?”

“In dere foreheads, Billy.”

“In dere foreheads? Betty, how cumed dey to be sealed in dere foreheads?”

“Don't you know, Billy?”

“Can't say dat I do, not zacltly.”

“More do I, Billy, but I thinks it means something better dan we can 'magine. Billy dat dere sealin is done in heben.”

“Is it, now? I shouldn't wonder. Eberyting is rale genuin dere, no artificial, nor no humbug dere, Betty, now you have it, rale certain.”

“Don't you feel it in your heart, Billy, when de minister talk to you 'bout heben?”

“I feels it in my heart, now, Betty, quite warm like, it makes me right happy.”

“Does it now, dat must be very nice; I wish I could feel it oftener!”

“Do ye now? by Jabber! Den, Betty, give us one now, I feels as if I could take ten tousand.”

The indignation of the black woman was great when she found that she had been talking about heaven, but Bill had been interpreting her conversation in a very grovelling way indeed. She pouted her lips, and declared that “he may do what he liked, but she had done with such a profane creature.”

Billy began to laugh, with the whites of his eyes turned towards his companion, but a loud shriek attracted their attention, and looking ahead they beheld Miss Julia apparently falling from her horse. Of course they both hastened to the spot, and found that the young lady had fancied that she saw her father like a shadow on the off side of her horse.

“It was his very image, James, and he looked at me very hard.”

“You are impressed with the very unfrequent circumstance of his absence, dearest,” replied Stewart.

“No; I was not even thinking of it.”

“It is a phantasm of the brain, Miss Julia,” said Mr. Coles.

“Not a pleasant one either,” whispered Mr. Sinclair; “I hope nothing has happened.”

But now Miss Julia uttered a loud and piercing shriek, and with the utmost excitement she pointed to the centre of a clump of trees, with open lips and a countenance as pale as ashes.

“What is it, dearest?” said Stewart.

She tried to speak, but her lips refused to perform their office. There was a movement, but not a sound was heard, still she continued to gaze upon the spot. They assisted in lifting her from her horse, and laying her on the grass; they stood around her trying to sooth and turn the current of her thoughts.

“I saw my father again. He looked pale and ill.”

“But he is far away by this time, dearest,” said Alice.

“Why, then, this impression? James, he is in danger!”

Alas! it was the first shadow of great calamity. They managed to get her home by gentle stages, but she was greatly excited all the way and not until the morning was about to break did she fall into the arms of slumber. But everyone hoped that it was only a temporary indisposition, “brought on,” suggested Mrs. Coles, “by the heat of the sun.”

Mr. Sinclair had his own opinion, but wisely kept it to himself, until he was alone with his wife. “Mary,” said he to her, “there is some thing dreadful impending over that house.”

“May the Lord forbid,” replied Mrs. Sinclair; but they talked about it as they lay watching in their sleeplessness, until long after midnight.

Chapter XXXVII.—TEMPTED.

“My dear friend, have you any idea where this is likely to terminate?”

The speaker was Stewart, and the person to whom the question was addressed was his partner, David Argyle. More than three months elapsed before the latter was able to move about beyond an occasional walk from room to room, or around the house and garden.

By the time that he reached home after his accident, he was in a strong fever. The journey had been too much for him; the broken arm, although it was put into a sling, was frightfully inflamed, and a messenger was dispatched for Mr. Sinclair, whose surgical skill, Mr. Coles knew, was far superior to his own. In due course he arrived and the arm was set, but by this time Argyle was delirious, and the worst was feared.

But by patient, careful watching he was gradually restored to health, but he was very weak for a long time, and on this account stimulants were recommended, bottled porter, port wine, and occasionally a little brandy; but that which was intended to be goodwill ended in a great disaster. Argyle had nothing to do; he could do nothing in fact but read, and this soon became a trouble. He was no bookworm, and the kind of literature in which he took any interest was very light, and the stock was soon exhausted. So he took to smoking, and this became a mania, for the poor follow smoked morning, noon, and night. Very soon he could not smoke without drink, and the drink screwed into his system the end of a chain, which speedily became a rein, and David Argyle was driven captive along the road to intemperance.

Stewart fancied that he saw signs of the power of stimulants upon him; he said nothing, but resolved to watch the closer. Hence he tried to get him away from home as frequently as he could. Argyle pleaded so often however that he could not endure the fatigue to which his friend exposed him, that after awhile he ceased to ask him to accompany him. Frequently Stewart rode over to Burnham in the evening, and then David, having no restraint, drank wine and brandy until he was forced to retire to bed, always, however, before he lost control over himself.

On the Sunday when Stewart accompanied Colonel Tomlinson and his friends to the afternoon service, it will be recollected that Argyle pleaded illness as a reason why he could not go, and he left the party to return to Leyton. Feeling somewhat weary on arriving at home, he threw himself on the sofa, after giving directions to Black Bill to attend to his horse, “and then,” said his master, “come into the keeping-room.”

Billy, however, had the animals to feed and so on, and it was fully an hour before he returned to the house. He could not find Argyle.

No one was at home, for the housekeeper had gone to Burnham Church, and was at that moment enjoying a tete-a-tete cup of tea and chat with the housekeeper at the parsonage; so Billy went into every room, but his master was gone, “leavin his hat ahind,” said he to himself. “I'll go smoke 'bout tis 'ere.”

He was not to smoke about it, for as he sat down on the verandah for this purpose, a shout reached his ears, which came as plainly as possible from the men's huts, which were about three hundred yards from the house. “What tat?” said he, and he listened with the keenness of a startled deer. Presently the sound of a fiddle from the same quarter put him into an ecstacy. A fiddle was the grandest instrument in the world to Black Bill. It is asserted that once upon a time, when he was in Calcutta, he was asleep rolled up in a mat, when the strains of a fiddle reached his ear, and though he did not actually wake up, he was drawn by its sound out of his own room, and to the consternation of a numerous circle of visitors, who were listening to a tolerable good performance of a solo upon a violin, he bounded into the room and began dancing a jig of a most extraordinary character in the most scanty costume imaginable. A good sound kick from his master sent him reeling out of the room, but as he afterwards said to Stewart, who engaged him from the same gentleman, “I do not believe he could resist the temptation to dance a jig if he heard a fiddle.”

In an instant Billy was on the verandah, and if Stewart could have seen him he would have been shocked. He danced and leaped, bounded up and down, and backwards and forwards, sometimes turning a complete somersault, alighting on his feet again, and than recommencing an extraordinary series of figures, which might possibly have some kind of affinity to elegance, but there is much reason to dispute this statement. In the meantime Jacky, who had been asleep in the wool-shed, happened to wake up.

Jacky looked at the performance, uncertain whether he should join in it or stay where he was, till, at an extraordinary flight of double and treble somersaults in which Billy excelled, Jacky burst out into a regular roar, clapping his hands and shouting to the top of his voice. This brought one of the men out of the hut, who asked him what he was shouting at.

Jacky said nothing but pointed to the house, and naturally enough Jack Williams, for it was he, as much amused as the boy, called to the rest to come and look at Billy. Of course this brought out all the men, David Argyle amongst them dreadfully intoxicated.

“What is't?” he said, “Jacky? Is't Jacky? I say 'tis Jacky!”

The men were more amused than ever; they had very little principle when there was a chance of getting a drop of drink, and though they knew that Stewart's orders were strict about such matters, what were they—so they reasoned—when one of the masters brought down the brandy bottle? So they drank, and Argyle, not able to drink much without danger, took enough to throw him completely on his beam ends, and then all restraint was at an end. Consequently he would have a song, then one of them must play the fiddle; and now Argyle was mad for a jig. There was no stopping him: “Come on, come on!” said he, “more brandy indoor; come on, I say. We'll have a jolly night!” So saying, he led the way to the house, the men, nothing loath, following.

Black Bill saw them coming, and in an instant discovered the state that David Argyle was in. He was carrying the brandy, and shouting, dancing, and singing most unnaturally, and the levity of the black man was turned instantly to grief. He saw what the affair would come to, and slipping away before they arrived he saddled a horse, and, in the greatest consternation, rode off to Burnham, but meeting the housekeeper on the road, he communicated the intelligence to her. Quickening the pace of her horse she arrived at Leyton to find David Argyle dancing on the table of the keeping-room, two of the men fighting, and the other two lying asleep upon the floor; glasses broken and thrown about the place in all directions, and Jacky crouched up in a corner of the room bleeding from a wound in the cheek, which he had received from a broken glass his master had thrown at him.

The woman was no coward, and fortunately Billy was as strong as he was faithful. In two minutes she cleared the house of the men who were fighting, and in a very few more Billy had carried the other two to the huts.

“Now,” said Mrs. Jones to David Argyle, “now, sir, please to get down.”

“See the conq—rin—”

“Will you please to come down, sir?”

“With—great'st pleas—great'st, I 'sure you.”

“Sir, I ask you once more, will you—”

The words were stopped with the utterance of the “you,” for Argyle fell down from the table with a terrible crash, and for several moments he did not stir. They got him into his room, but he did not wake all that night. Stewart had remained at Burnham. Mrs. Jones knew not why; hour after hour she watched but still he did not come; morning arrived and Argyle slept on, breathing heavily as if in pain. At 8 o'clock Stewart arrived, to see his friend and partner open his eyes, groaning out the words, “My head, my head.”

Deep and poignant was the grief of poor Stewart when he heard the sad news. It was useless to use words of reproach, for David Argyle was seriously ill again, and for several days he was suffering under a species of delirium tremens. By an examination of the store it was evident that he must have habited himself for some time to take strong drink in such a quantity as completely mystified his partner. But on inquiry, he found that though Argyle retired to rest early, he seldom put out his light himself, it had generally burnt out; so Mrs. Jones said “she had given him lately only a small piece of candle, fearing they might be burnt in their beds.”

“Did he always have liquor in his room?”

“He always kept a bottle of brandy in his box.”

It was about ten days after that fatal Sunday when Stewart put the question to David Argyle with which this chapter commences. It was an unfortunate time, however, for the latter was sitting on the verandah, smarting under the order, which he was compelled to yield to, that no liquor should be included in the general list of stores which the drays were gone to fetch. There was no liquor in the house, and the poor follow was looking as careworn and dejected as one who was sinking in the mire of abject misery. He was in no humor to be instructed or lectured to.

“Where is all this to terminate! That is my business, I think,”

“Nay, David, I did not say all this; I put a very simple question to you in the kindest spirit.”

“I cannot say, James Stewart, that I take it kindly; you are acting the part of a dictator to me.”

“Just as your medical attendant advises, David. God forbid that I should be unkind or unjust to you; but if I am told that you must not have this or that I can only assent.”

“But am I not my own master? Suppose I choose to have this or that, as you call it, who is to hinder me?”

“If I saw you about to take poison—”

“But I am not going to take poison, James; I know better.”

“Pardon me, my dear friend, but liquor is poison to you; it will kill you, depend on it.”

“Oh! hang it; I don't want to be preached to,” said Argyle, interrupting Stewart in a great pet. “I am not well; don't talk about it.”

Mr. Stewart heaved a heavy sigh; a future of misery seemed in store for him. But what would his unhappiness be in comparison with that of this misguided man? He plainly saw that any further discussion now was useless, so he turned away with a heavy heart to get his horse to ride over to Burnham Beeches.

David Argyle watched him as he slowly left the house, and in his heart he felt that he could give all he possessed to be restored to his right senses; but the tempter was too strong for him—the craving for drink was positively frightful. If a good thought flashed through his mind, the demon drink drowned it in the constant cry which would be heard in spite of everything, “Give me drink! Give me drink!” Poor fellow, he could not help it; he was chained, bound as fast as the miserable wretches in the tombs to whom the Saviour spoke. He would have risked everything this afternoon for one glass of brandy.

Do not blame too rashly, total abstainers, such would surely have been some of you if you had not been snatched as a “brand from the burning.” Pity, compassion, mercy will meet such a case, not hard words; though alas! it must be confessed that very often pity is not wanted; compassion is not appreciated; mercy is not sought.

Chapter XXXVIII.—THE HUNTERS HUNTED.

Captain Oliver and his servant, after leaving the camp, jogged on, resolving to ride towards the east, and shortly after mid-day to retrace their steps to camp, which would lay due west. For some time nothing particular attracted their attention; but at length they reached an open plot of clear ground, surrounded on all sides with thick bush, without any apparent egress except by the track by which they had entered. In the centre of this was the remains of a native camp. Some of the huts were quite perfect, and around the fires, one of which was still warm, there was abundant evidence that a large number of natives had been here, the bones of animals and pieces of skin and other signs of wholesale slaughter abounding everywhere. The dogs did not like the appearance of the place at all—they sniffed about and showed signs of uneasiness, but touching not so much as a bone or a piece of raw meat, some of which was hanging to the pieces of skin.

Captain Oliver took in the whole at a glance; said he, “we must turn back, James.”

“I think so,” replied the man. “This fire was burning last night, sir. They can't be far off.”

“No,” replied the captain; “that is certain. Hark! Did you hear anything? These black fellows frequently leave a scout or two behind them; or it may be there are some laggers after the rest.”

“By jingo, sir,” exclaimed the man; “that dog hears something.”

It was so; the bull dog began to growl. He stood looking most fiercely into the far side of the bush from that by which they had entered. The Newfoundland had laid down, evidently suspecting foul play, but as yet he gave no sign beyond crouching as if he was watching something.

“What shall be done, James?”

“Get out of this, captain, that is the first thing.”

“You are right, James. On ye go as quickly as ye can. I don't like fighting these wretches with a bush for them to retreat to.”

“Not too fast, Captain Oliver,” said his servant; “not too fast. If they see we are afraid, it will be the very thing to bring them round us. Let us draw the charges of shot and put in bullets instead, and then as quietly as possible get out of this.”

They spoke in whispers, and now the dogs, as if they understood what their masters were doing, crouched at their feet, still growling, and evidently being as uneasy as possible. The loading with ball was accomplished in about five minutes, and then the return march began. For a mile or two nothing occurred to excite farther alarm, but now a fresh source of uneasiness arose. The sun was obscured with clouds, which, though at first only thin enough to produce a pleasant shade, had increased in blackness. Still on they went for another mile, every step they took being somewhat uncertain, and yet they thought that they knew the place, until after passing a creek which they knew they had crossed in the morning they entered a valley which neither of them recognised.

“Here's a pretty go, James; we are out of our track, that is plain enough, yet I could have sworn that I knew that creek.”

“So could I, sir. I confess that I had some doubt about the flat which led to it; but when we reached the creek, says I to myself, 'All right now.'”

“Where does the creek lead to, I wonder?”

“Perhaps to the lagoon, captain.”

“You may be right. Suppose we follow it down.”

“With all my heart. And yet the horses do not seem to turn that way, Captain Oliver.”

It was so; those sagacious creatures were allowed to have the reins, and immediately they began to retrace their steps.

“Captain Oliver,” said his servant, “we are wrong—that is plain. They are going over the creek again.”

“Hang them, though; I don't like going in the direction of that camp again,” replied Captain Oliver.

“Nor shall we. See, sir; they turn up the bank of the creek. Depend on it, we crossed higher up.”

At this moment the bull dog burst out into a furious roar, and there was a loud and fearful yell behind the travellers, which was followed by a shower of spears, one of which struck Captain Oliver's horse, and, though it did not inflict any wound, roused the animal so as to increase its pace to a gallop. To this Captain Oliver did not object; but here a new difficulty arose. In holding the reins tight, the horse no longer had permission to take his own route, and after a little while the increasing thickness of the bush materially increased also the alarm which both the captain and his servant felt. Besides this, the dogs were now most furious. But onward they went—there was no help for it—until they reached a rock which seemed to bar all further progress; and here, in a perfect trap, they found themselves hailed up. There was no time for discussion, or opportunity to retreat. They were surrounded—this was very evident; but the captain was not a man to die without a struggle. He knew the dread with which the natives regarded firearms, and this was the only chance they had of life. So he fired at random one way, and his servant another, as fast as possible; and when the bullets were gone, the servant loaded with shot as his master discharged the guns. There were shrieks and groans, but still the spears plainly told the fact that the natives were not beaten; and in a few moments stones from the cliff above them showed that the enemy could reach them from that quarter. It seemed to be coming to a hand to hand conflict, and already the blacks, who had discovered their advantage, were peering out of the bush preparatory to a final rush. Captain Oliver thought that it was all over now; the ammunition was all but gone, It was man's extremity, but then it became God's opportunity, for at this instant a sharp, shrill voice cried, “Hold, hold! stay! Back, back, everyone to ze camp! Go back, back! Now, now, go back!”

* * * * * * * * * *

Colonel Tomlinson beheld Henry Judd, whom he recognised as the man whom he had seen at Mr. Baines' station.

“What do you here?” he said.

Judd did not reply till the colonel had repeated the question; then he said, “I come to warn you.”

“Warn me! Of what?”

“Of danger.”

“From whom?”

“A large tribe of natives have been watching you. They are camped out there.”

He pointed in the direction which Captain Oliver had taken.

“Good God!” cried Colonel Tomlinson; “and Captain Oliver is there.”

“I cannot remain here. I came to spy your camp. I must return now; I know not how many eyes are on me.”

The colonel had arisen as Judd appeared, and stood at the entrance of the tent with a double-barrelled rifle in his hand.

“Stay,” said he to Judd, “one moment. Cannot you save my friend?”

“I have no power; but if he is the man you speak of, he may be—”

“He is, he is!” said Colonel Tomlinson.

“Mogara's father!” cried Judd, and he sprung into the air as if he had been shot, and disappeared at the back of the rock.

The colonel lost not a moment in making a signal to the man who was fishing at the lagoon, and it was at this moment that the report of the firing of the first gun by Captain Oliver reached their ears. This was followed by others so quickly that it was evidently something more than sport. Colonel Tomlinson looked exceedingly disconcerted.

“Come on John,” said he to his servant. “Bring all the powder, and your own gun and horse-pistol; we have no time to get the horses. By George, they are firing quick now. God grant we may be in time.”

“Onward! The guns cease—”

There is no more onward. Heart and flesh have failed, and Colonel Tomlinson is prostrate on the ground. The tension of the nerves was too great; he has fallen; blood is oozing from his nose; his tongue protrudes from his mouth; his jaw is fixed; all his limbs seem paralysed.

“May God Almighty help me!” cried the man, “I cannot help myself.”

“He will help,” exclaimed a voice close to him.

Chapter XXXIX.—COMMENCEMENT OF TROUBLE.

The voice was Judd's, and Captain Oliver and his servant were with him, Mogara following. The reunion was most opportune, but it was much embittered by the fact that Colonel Tomlinson was insensible. Captain Oliver bent down and felt the pulse of his friend, then put his hand upon his heart, and shook his head.

“I fear it is a bad job. How did it happen, John?”

The man explained that he was fishing at the lagoon, and, hearing the colonel call to him, he went to the camp instantly, and then he told him to get “the guns and follow him quickly.” He said no more, but when the guns were heard his excitement increased; he exclaimed, “Faster, faster, John!” and groaned as if in pain. “Then he fell,” said the man. “You know the rest.”

“Yes,” replied Captain Oliver; “we were in for a fight, but these good people were sent by providence just in the nick of time to deliver us. I do not know your companion, my good fellow, but I thank you both most sincerely. Poor, good-hearted Tomlinson—what can we do?”

“Carry master to camp, sir; that must be the first thing.”

“How far is it?” said Captain Oliver.

“Near two miles, I should say,” replied John.

At this juncture Mogara stepped forward; she had kept in the background hitherto.

“Blackfellow carry gentleman,” said she. “Zee! zee!”

She cooeyed twice and the bush seemed alive with natives.

Captain Oliver seized his rifle instantly, and the two men imitated his example, but the tumult was quelled in a moment.

“Speak, Henry; speak to white men. Zay no fear. I go tell my people.”

She did so, gathering them together by a word, and in a hurried address she expressed her command. To this some at first demurred, Eagle Hawk amongst the number; but in an instant the whole of these savage creatures were silenced by these words: “My father. That white man my father.”

Some will tell us that the parental tie is not appreciated by these poor creatures; it is a libel. The black natives of Australia are not fallen so low as not to acknowledge the parental tie. Some are cruel enough to slaughter their offspring; but may we not find illustrations of this by the hundred amongst civilised and even noble life? Thousands upon thousands of white children are slaughtered, both as to their temporal and eternal interests, and as many are forced into untimely graves because of the cruel and inexcusable neglect and ignorance, of heartless parents.

“That white man is my father!” She spoke the words with emotion, and the black creatures around her understood now much that had always been a mystery to them.

“Carry zick man. Make tree bed.”

Meanwhile Judd explained to Captain Oliver what Mogara was saying, and that he might be quite sure that there was nothing to fear.

“See, sir,” continued Judd; “they are making tree bed. Plenty of men carry master back to station. We will get him home; never fear, soon—soon.”

It was a strange sight, and there was a wildness about the constant jabbering of the natives, and the whole scene, which, under other circumstances, would have been very interesting to the captain and his servants; but the increasing anxiety which Colonel Tomlinson's insensible state created left no other desire but that of getting him to Burnham Beeches as quickly as possible. In a few minutes the litter was made; it was covered with Mogara's opossum rug, and the colonel was placed gently upon it. He opened his eyes for a moment as the natives lifted the litter, but closed them again with a heavy sigh. The whole tribe formed the escort, Captain Oliver riding by the side of the colonel, and Mogara and Eagle Hawk following close in the rear.

What a chain of events was there here. Captain Oliver's early indiscretion, or crime it must be called, in forming an unholy alliance with the mother of Mogara; the revengeful determination of the daughter to follow the aggressor to the death; the wound which he had consequently received; the lengthened illness which followed; his restoration to health pleading that he should indulge his leisure in some excitable pursuit; the readiness of his friend to assist him to that which pleased him best; out of this came as the climax Colonel Tomlinson's indisposition, which might have passed away amidst the rest and quiet of a day in camp, but which was terribly heightened by the peril in which he, Captain Oliver, was placed.

“I am the author of it all,” said he to himself, although he did not—nay, could not—go back so far in the history as the reader. He only saw the hunting expedition in the diorama which at this time passed before his thoughts; had he seen the connection between this and all his past life he would have been totally crushed in spirit, for Captain Oliver was a far different man from what he was in his youth. Then he was rank with atheism; but he had long ago abandoned this folly, and under the genial influence of Colonel Tomlinson's society he had become “almost a Christian.” Alas! many reach this, but, like Agrippa, go no further. There is no record which throws much light upon Captain Oliver's after life; the reader may surmise however, and if it be true that none ever perish who truly ask that they may have divine light to see the right path, then we may believe with tolerable certainty that the latter end of life was better with him than the beginning.

It may be objected that he must have known Mogara; but the objection has no weight. She was only twelve years of age when her mother and herself were mercilessly abandoned to fight their way as best they could. The child was a pet, but the mother! what could have induced so fine a man to have looked upon such a creature it was difficult now for him even to say. She lived in his house ostensibly as his servant; the daughter was a source of amusement—she could not be called anything more. He took pleasure in teaching her everything she would learn, and she was quick and clever. In other circumstances she would have shone brightly as a noble woman. Poor faithful creature, true to the last, she lived but for one object.

But promotion came to Captain Oliver. The society in which he moved was of a higher class; he had property to which he eventually succeeded, and in addition to this his regiment was ordered home. He would have taken the child with him, for she was really a handsome girl, her half-caste skin imparting a peculiar attractiveness of such a character as many style beauty, without the necessity of anything artificial to increase it. But the girl would not leave her mother; nothing could move her, and at last the captain, who worked himself up to a terrific passion, struck the child. It was something awful to see the tempest of anger with which she received the blow. It was sufficient to drive her father out of the house, to which he did not return again. One message he sent to the child—“Would she come where he was and speak with him?”

“No,” she returned answer. “I am here if my father wants me.”

In a week from that day Captain Oliver was on his way to England. He had left his house and furniture in the hands of his solicitor to dispose of, with instructions to send the child after him if she would consent to leave her mother. The lawyer made very short work of the matter. He regarded the whole affair in the most unromantic light, treated it as a pure question of business, and finally turned the black woman and the child into the road to do the best they could. The sequel the reader is acquainted with.

Twenty-two years had passed since this occurred, and it will be easily imagined that this period of wild savage life had worked a corresponding change upon the woman. It is true that when Mogara appeared so opportunely and rescued her father and his servant from a terrible danger, as he looked upon her, there was just a momentary retrospect of the past, but the light was soon extinguished, he said, “No, it cannot be.” She saw the impression, watched how it vanished, and resolved to bide her time.

“Not one word to father,” she whispered to Judd, as soon as an opportunity occurred.

He understood her and kept her secret.

In the journey home, nothing could exceed the kindness of the poor natives. They carried by turns the litter, upon which Colonel Tomlinson reached home by the evening of the next day, as tenderly as if it contained the most brittle of substances.

Colonel Tomlinson revived about an hour after he was conveyed to the camping place. He opened his eyes, and when he saw Captain Oliver, he smiled and feebly said, “Thank God, you are safe!”

The captain took his hand, saying, “How do you feel, my good friend. What is the matter?”

“Heart, Oliver—heart disease. Would to God I was at home. My poor dear girl, my poor Julia!” He burst into tears as he spoke these words, and they seemed to afford him a temporary relief; presently he said, “Home, Oliver—home, if possible.”

The natives had withdrawn to some distance from the tent, and only Captain Oliver was with the colonel. He replied: “There are a number of blacks here who are under some extraordinary influence exerted upon them by the old man who was at Baines' station. There is a half-caste woman with them who is their queen, or something like it. They brought you here, colonel, and I am sure they will help us to get you home. Fool that I was to take you away from thence.”

“No, Oliver; don't say so. It was the Lord's doing, I believe; but what you do, do quickly, for—”

He did not finish what he intended to say, for a paroxysm of pain seized him, which alarmed Captain Oliver to the utmost. He hastily conferred with Judd, and in a few minutes after the home journey was commenced and continued throughout the night—which was fortunately moonlight—with only a halt to administer to the sufferer a little refreshment.

It was quite dark as the little army of blackfellows reached the station, or the sight of so many of them would have alarmed the people. Captain Oliver requested that the bearers would halt while he sent on for some of the men at the station. It was only for a few minutes that this was necessary, and speaking to Judd some few words about camping for the night, he went on to the station before the rest to break the sad news to Miss Julia.

Chapter XL.—IN THE DARK VALLEY.

There was a quiet consternation at Burnham Beeches that night. The term is paradoxical, but terror, abject grief, and wringing of hands—ah! and of hearts also—reigned, in conjunction with humble dependence upon His love who is too wise to err—always too good to be unkind.

Julia could not weep; her heart was literally chilled with sorrow; not a tear could flow. The blow was so unexpected, so sudden, she seemed to be paralysed. Captain Oliver had dispatched a messenger to Stewart by the colonel's special wish, and he was speedily on the spot. It is difficult to express the feelings with which he gazed first on the bed on which the colonel lay, and then into the face of his affianced bride. It was not the time to ask questions. Mr. Coles and Mr. Sinclair had both been summoned, and their united opinion was unfavorable to the recovery of the patient. As Stewart entered the room, they were talking in whispers at the window—Mrs. Judd, Alice, and Julia being on either side of the bed; Captain Oliver, Mr. Wright, Mr. Gumby, and Overseer Brown being in the keeping-room close by. The colonel had not spoken since he was carried to his bed. One word had escaped him as the men brought him into the house—'Thanks;' and he again relapsed into a kind of stupor, from which he could not be roused. For five hours he continued thus, and then, with a heavy sigh, he opened his eyes, fixing them so tenderly upon his daughter that the long pent-up fountain burst forth at last, and a torrent of tears and sobs told her grief and love. The good, kind father gazed at her as if he could weep also; but he had other work to do now. His eyes turned upward, and then his hands were clasped; his lips moved, but not a sound was heard. At length he put out his hand, and gently took his daughter's in that grasp which was the soul utterance of the father, and then he spoke—“Julia.”

“My dearest father, here I am.”

“I know it, my love. Can you read to me?”

“Yes, dearest father. What would you wish?”

“John's Gospel, chapter xiv., my child.”

It was a hard task which the father set his daughter. She knew that no strength of her own could perform it. One long, hard-drawn prayer—“Help, oh! do help me, my God! Help thy servant too!”

The prayer was answered. How she read she never know. Never was there such a living automaton as that dear tried creature. She heard every word her father spoke as he commented on the verses she read; but how she read them she could not tell.

He lifted his hand as she read:

“If ye shall ask anything in My name, I will do it.”

“True, true—very true. Mark this, my child; I have found it so.”

Again: “I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you.”

“Always, always. He has brought your mother to me, dearest. Not only has He come Himself, but He said, 'In times of bitter sorrow are they not all ministering spirits?' No, He will not leave you orphans; He will come to you. True, true.”

Again she read, but as if her heart would break, until she came to the 27th verse—'Peace I leave with you'—and the tongue refused to speak any more.

The colonel took up the words, and slowly, but with emphasis, finished the verse. By this time there was a weeping in very deed, but the dying man went on:

“The angel which hath redeemed me from all evil bless you.”

It was at this moment that he saw Stewart and beckoned to him. He went instantly to the bedside.

“Sit down, James—there, next to Julia.”

He gazed most earnestly into both their faces, and then, fixing his eyes upon Stewart, he beckoned him to put his hand into his, and then to his daughter with the same sign, and, clasping both their hands in his, he said: “I gave her to you once; I leave her to you now. Love her, James, for my sake—for hers, for Christ's sake.”

“I will—I do—ever till death, and beyond it,” was the solemn response.

“Heaven registers this union,” said the colonel. “As soon as possible after I am gone, let it be—”

He was exhausted, and again closing his eyes, he remained motionless for some minutes. Then he reopened them, and said:

“Mrs. Judd.”

She was on the other side of the bed, and upon her also he looked with a gaze full of meaning. At last he spoke:

“Kate, one great trouble has been yours; 'but God shall be with you, and bring you again into the land of your fathers.' One great request I make. You will grant it?”

“Anything, my dear master—any possible thing.”

“This may not be possible to man, but it is possible to God. All things are possible to Him, Kate, and He will help you. I have seen your husband; he came down with me; he nursed me like a mother. Can you forgive him?”

“Anything I can do for your sake I will; but how?”

“I have been thinking of this. He is so quiet, so good. Stewart knows him—has talked with him. He will get you all off to America, and there you can end your sorrows together.”

“My kind, good master.”

“Nay, can you, Kate? I want to make peace on my dying bed.”

“It shall be done, dear friend, if God will.”

“Then it will. James, Mrs. Judd will tell you what she has received from me; this is to be continued. She was our old servant.”

“Mr. Coles, pray—pray.”

The minister knelt, and all followed his example. His words seemed to be words of fire, which were lighted at the altar of God. How he besought that “if it were possible, this cup might pass;” and how subdued were the words, “nevertheless, not as we will, but as Thou, O righteous Father, doth intend,” they all remembered long after that trying hour.

At the close of the prayer, the colonel dropped into a quiet sleep, and the clergyman and Mr. Sinclair thought that it might be favorable, but they remained by his bedside, watching every movement, and frequently testing the pulse. Midnight passed, and the first grey dawn of morning indicated the approach of another day; but still he slept, and the day was somewhat advanced ere he awoke.

Captain Oliver had been expecting a visit from the blacks; but, with a delicacy which he had not anticipated, they did not approach the station. Judd had come, and with him Mogara and Eagle Hawk, but they were all perfectly unarmed, and when they heard of “master's continued illness ”—or, as it was told them, “Him no better—him die,”—their grief was as poignant as that of any. Captain Oliver told Stewart that they were at the men's huts, and he went to see them. Judd especially was glad to see him, and in the conversation which ensued he gave him just the hope that a reconciliation and reunion might be accomplished. He knew not that Mogara understood all he said; but we must not anticipate the result.

It was not long before Stewart was re-summoned to the dying man's bedside. The colonel awoke, breathing heavily, as if he was struggling for life. But this mercifully passed away for a brief period only, and in that period the last mournful words were said. Stewart had brought Judd to the house, and whispering to the colonel that he was there, he told him to bring him in. The scene was intensely interesting as the old man entered, for he dropped on his knees by the bedside, sobbing out:

“May God Almighty bless you, master! You visited the poor and needy. Bless you, bless you!”

The colonel did not reply, but beckoned to the weeping and excited wife. She came and knelt, and Alice followed, and the dying man raised his hand over them, saying, “Love one another for my sake—for Jesus' sake.”

“Julia, dearest—my darling Julia—my dearest love, next to my Jesus—you—you—Father—Saviour—bless—”

He paused, the awful silence of death overshadowing them all. It was a glorious, but wonderously trying moment.

“Sing, sing, sing,”

“Could we but climb—climb—where—”

The clergyman tried to sing, and there was a subdued whisper in the notes which some tried to raise; but in the midst of the line—

“Not Jordan's streams, nor death's cold flood,” the departing soul made one effort; it was a grand one: “Safe to landing—safe, safe—Jesus—safe.”

Colonel Tomlinson was “present with the Lord.”

Two loud shrieks went up to heaven with that ransomed soul. The daughter's cry was loud; but louder, far louder was the loving, yearning, home-seeking cry of a bitter soul, who saw refuge at last in the cry, “Father, dearest father, never let me go from zoo again.”

CHAPTER XLI.—DEMENTED.

There is nothing which casts such a shadow of desolation over a house as the death of its leader. Very tender must be the words which describe such a session of family sadness.

Julia Tomlinson was dumbstruck with amazement. Her father's death was a subject she had never thought about. United to him so joyously, loving him so tenderly, and delighted to the fullest of enjoyment in her unclouded happy life, the thought of this coming to an end was all but impossible to her. Certainly she had never anticipated it. The funeral was over; the solemn service on the succeeding Sunday was passed; and still the daughter sat brooding over vacancy. Not even the presence of her lover could rouse her. She ate her food mechanically; retired to rest as a machine obeys the dictate of its manipulator; but not a word could anyone extort from her.

More than a fortnight had passed away thus, and a consultation of the whole house took place. Only Mrs. Judd was absent; she had remained with Julia at the house. It was a touching sight to see old Judd, bareheaded, with his white locks, just standing inside the door. Mogara was there also, with her father. All had been explained, forgiven, and ratified with confessions and declarations of future love. Eagle Hawk was not there; nor was there a single native. They were holding a devil's service elsewhere. There was another in the church, who stood with sullen countenance and sunken eyes, which gleamed fiercely and then vacantly on old Judd, and there was one who was watching him; taking every glance, and treasuring up in his memory their meaning. Yes, Black Bill watched his master's partner, David Argyle, and read his thoughts. They were murder, without the physical power to carry out the wish.

Mrs. Judd was with Julia; but what a change! She cried: “See nurse, 'tis quite dark; light the candles. He will soon be home; he tells me he is coming. Light the candles, I'll get the tea.”

There was no restraint. Julia went out staggering, and brought the tea-things into the room, Mrs. Judd looking on with horror; she got the bread and the butter, in fact laid everything for tea, and then took her place at the head of the table. Then she exclaimed, “Hark! he is coming, hush!”

She had heard something, but it was not him; and yet, who can say that it was not? Would he not have whispered to the poor girl, “peace, be still?”

“There is nothing, dearest,” said Mrs. Judd. “Ah! no, he has not come yet. I am tired, I will go to sleep.” And, gentle as a lamb, she suffered Mrs. Judd to lead her to her room, where she was soon dozing in a restless slumber.

Poor James Stewart! He was nearly beside himself. It was thought that Julia might listen to him. So when she awoke he approached her bedside; but she arose, and with clenched fist, she raved out the words: “You have killed my father! villain! dog! cut-throat! Give me back my father! You have buried him! I saw you put on the mourning—hypocrite that you are 'to slay and then to take possession!' Go, bring him back! He can't—no, he can't! He is far away; coming home to-night—coming home to-night.” The latter words were uttered in a song-like voice.

Let us draw the veil over this terrible calamity. Julia was removed to Brisbane; but it was long before she awoke from her enchanted state; for enchantment is not altogether a delusion. Reason hurled from her throne is a problem difficult to solve. It may be partially a bodily ailing, but the distinction between the body and spirit sickness in this terrible visitation is too nearly balanced to decide this question with any degree of accuracy. Very frequently, in this dread sorrow, the beloved one is hated most, while the greatest enemy is counted as a bosom friend. During the whole of her derangement the sight of James Stewart sent Julia into a paroxysm of passion; but, as the end drew on, one morning she inquired for him. Fortunately he was in Brisbane. He saw her; she knew him as her lover. She was calm, and in her right mind. From that moment she gradually recovered her health and strength.

But very stirring were the events which took place at Burnham during the next four months.

Mr. Wright was tired of station life, and anxious to return to New South Wales. His father was a merchant and ship-owner in Sydney; and, being a straightforward man of principle, when he heard of the engagement between his son and Julia Gumby, wrote as follows:—“No man comes to good who breaks a girl's heart. No doubt you have acted foolishly in committing yourself so soon; but if she is a good girl, bring her home. Of course you will say she is a first rater. But God bless you, my lad; it will be all right, no doubt.” So Julia Gumby became Mrs. George Wright, and the happy couple, after spending a week of the honeymoon at the station, departed from Burnham to see it no more. In due time they reached Sydney, and Mrs. George was wedded again—at least in spirit—to the father-in-law, who saw at a glance, he said, “that George was no fool.” Mrs. Wright turned out all that was anticipated by those who knew her. She gave good evidence that it was profitable for all things to live a godly life. Her husband fully agreed with her. The calamities which had fallen upon the Tomlinson family had made a deep impression on his mind. He became first a member, and then an active worker in the church, and many respect and honor him, and his happy, cheerful wife also.

Chapter XLII.—ISABEL.

One trouble seldom comes alone. The death of Colonel Tomlinson demonstrated this very fully. The speculation into which he had entered is a profitable one, all things being equal but Colonel Tomlinson found that squatting in theory and practice were two different things. He bought the station from Mr. Sinclair for a large sum of money, and probably it was worth it. Half the amount was to remain on mortgage. He had property enough to have paid all the money down; but, having a lurking suspicion that it might be necessary to fall back upon something else, he would not sell this property when he left England. Fortunately the impression upon his mind was not hastily dismissed, as too many of these thoughts are, and the property remained intact at his death. There was a sum of five thousand pounds to pay to Mr. Sinclair—the amount of the mortgage to which reference has been made. The brief period of Colonel Tomlinson's possession of the station had been unfavorable. Instead of gaining, he lost considerable sums. His expenditure also was large, and his previous habits altogether unfitted him for the life of a squatter. In short, to explain that which every one acquainted with station life knows full well, buying and selling under such circumstances are widely different. The daughter was left executor of the father's will, in conjunction with Captain Oliver and Mr. Stewart. The captain was obliged to go to Sydney upon his own business, expecting that he would be able to close up all his affairs in Australia, so us to return to England by the end of the year. He was loath to leave Julia in the state in which she then was; but after a long consultation with Mr. Coles and his co-executor, it was decided that as the principal business which required attention was the disposal of the station and the payment of the mortgage, this might be left in the hands of Stewart; so Captain Oliver declined to act.

Then there was the very weighty question, what should be done with Mogara? From the hour that the truth became evident to her, she seemed to lose all, or nearly all her fondness for her wild savage life. It was distressing to Judd to hear her moaning out the words, “My father,” for only before him did she confess the relationship. In secret she was dejected and melancholy; before the blacks she assumed an authority which it was hard to act. In fact, she gradually loathed the life she was leading, and in a conversation which took place about the time that Judd appeared to his wife at Burnham, she pointedly hinted her desire to be reunited if possible, to him whom now she positively adored. The poor creature knew not how to love in duplicate; when love to her father assumed the place of hatred, Judd became a secondary person in her thoughts—her father was all to her.

It may be objected that it was impossible for her to forget this relationship. But unless it is possible to understand what it is to smart for twenty years and more under a sense of one wrong and to be, like Mogara, a creature of one impulse only, it will not be easy to estimate the limited extent of her reasoning. There have been men of one book only, they read others, but only mechanically. Mogara looked along the path of life, and saw revenge at the termination of it. The events which led to it were as transitory in her ideas as the vapor in the morning sun.

Hence, when she heard Stewart speaking to Judd about the probability of a reunion with his wife, her eyes opened wide as she saw his evident pleasure. Till this moment she had not even thought of the possibility that he could have a wife, and the simple creature had sufficient judgment to shudder at the position into which her singular love to him might have led her. She was a strange compound of good and evil, but the filial had now risen above the natural, and when Stewart took Judd up to the house she followed him. The hour was come when the twenty-two years' banishment was to end, and Mogara released from the thralldom of savage life. She crept softly into the house without interruption; everyone was in the dying man's room, and in the moment of the colonel's departure she rushed into her father's arms.

“Then it is so!” he said, as he raised her from the kneeling position into which she had fallen.

Everyone's attention was concentrated for the time upon the death scene, and immediately afterwards upon the bereaved daughter, so Captain Oliver was allowed ample opportunity for the expression of love which went forth from him for his restored daughter. The interview which followed was long, and the explanations full and interesting.

“Ah! my father, zoo not know.”

“I know enough, Isabel,” [for this was her name] “to tell me that you must have suffered much. May God forgive me for all the past. I need it!”

“God fordiv zoo! Who do zoo speak of?”

The captain saw her ignorance and groaned within himself. “She knows no God!” he said mentally.

“It is the Great God, Isabel, the Great Spirit who made all. He dwells up there—all over the land.”

“Ah! I know, I hear of Him long time ago; but no Great God among black people. They worship ugly, black thing.”

So Isabel was restored to her father, and Burnham Beeches contained a bereaved daughter who had lost her father, and a father who had found a long lost daughter. Of course Isabel became the very centre of attraction. Julia was not removed to Brisbane for several weeks after her father's death, and during the whole of that period she was kept in the obscurity of restraint—necessarily so. Isabel would have willingly become her nurse, but in the only interview which she had with her, she accused her so vehemently of a design to rob the house, that the poor woman was terrified, and nothing could induce her to go near Julia again.

“Is she not a singular creature, Mary?” said Lottie Gumby.

“Pretty, but very ignorant, Lottie.”

“Yes, indeed she is, but what else could you expect? But, Mary, do you know there is a talk of breaking up the station?”

“Breaking up the station, dear?”

“Yes, Mary, they say there is ever so much owing upon it, and Captain Oliver has advised Mr. Stewart to pay no more, so your father will lose his money, I suppose. It will be very bad for all of us. Father says he does not know what he is to do.”

Now if Lottie had held her peace a few hours longer, she would have saved a great deal of trouble. Miss Sinclair heard all, but treasured up one sentence only, “your father will lose his money.” This she carried safely home, and in due course dealt out to the astonished ear of her money-loving father. He knew that his money was safe, but if there was anything which he took umbrage at more than another, it was what he called beating about the bush. “I shall lose a lot of money, shall I? Not if I know it, Mr. Stewart.” Accordingly his horse was saddled, and over to Leyton he went. Mr. Stewart was at home, and, without “beating about the bush,” Mr. Sinclair charged him with double dealing.

It is probable that if he had deferred his visit to the next day, or in other words, had Mr. Sinclair only followed his own nose, it would have led him straight into the best of conclusions. First, that Mr. Stewart was not the man for double dealing. Secondly, that if he was he (Mr. Sinclair) had all the power on his side; and third, that his own advice would be strongly in favor of the very course which was contemplated. But as it turned out, the honesty of Stewart resented the unrighteousness of the charge, and a fierce quarrel ensued. Mr. Sinclair returned home full of threatenings and slaughter at least in a pecuniary sense, and a new episode in the history of Burnham Beeches was the consequence thereof.

The issue of this to Isabel was the complete severance of her newly formed acquaintance with Mrs. Sinclair and her daughter.

Chapter XLIII.—PLANS AND PLOTS.

Captain Oliver was one day thinking about his former life, and how much of it had been spent in evil doing. The death of Colonel Tomlinson had made a deep impression on his mind also; the subsequent calamity which fell upon Julia increased the power of his resolution to live for some noble purpose; but the restoration of his daughter created paternal feelings, or rather revived them so strongly that he resolved upon a course which would make the future life of both father and daughter happy.

While musing thus, Mrs. Judd entered the room, followed by her husband, and Captain Oliver spoke to her before she addressed him upon the all-painful subject of Julia's lamentable insanity.

“I am glad you are come, Mrs. Judd. May I ask the favor of your advice?”

“Certainly, sir,” she replied. “I was coming to consult you.”

“Indeed. Let us have your business first, then.”

“It is a long affair, captain. I fear it cannot be easily settled.”

“What is it?”

“Our removal.”

“I do not think you have any reason to trouble yourself about that, Mrs. Judd. Mr. and Mrs. Gumby are going next week, and in a day or two Mr. Stewart will be here to wind-up all that can be settled, and he will be able to give you every satisfaction; at least, I hope so. I wish my troubles could be as easily settled.”

“Your trouble, sir?”

“Yes, Mrs. Judd; I am sorely perplexed about my daughter. Where did you meet with her, Judd?”

Judd replied that it was a long story, but as Captain Oliver wished to know it, he related all the particulars, which are well known to the reader.

“I thank God, Captain Oliver, that I was moved to tell her that it was you, her father, that she had shot.”

He paused, for he saw the pale face, the trembling nerve, and the consternation which followed this revelation. Captain Oliver did not know whose hand had fired the pistol till that moment.

“I am well punished,” he said. “Mrs. Judd, I drove that girl into her savage life. Yes; I had no impulse to do it, but an unseen hand has overruled it all for good.”

“Indeed He has, Captain Oliver, for all of us. He has been very merciful. I know that I feel it so; it seems to me like a resurrection from the dead.”

“And yet, Mrs. Judd, there is an impression on my mind that troubles are not over. Do you know anything of such feelings?”

“Indeed I do, sir. I recollect many a time when it seemed to me as if voices were sounding in my ear, speaking wondrous thoughts. I do not think, sir, that they were the result of my imagination. I had strong desires; and when troubles came strong and thick those are an indispensable forerunner of comfort.”

“You have gone deep into this, Mrs. Judd,”

“I have, sir; and I have found that some of my heaviest trials have been preceded by strong help and comfort from above. Then the trouble came; but like a house which has been prepared for strong tempests it did me no harm.”

Judd heard all this with a bowed head and closed eyes. He had become strangely taciturn, as if he scarcely comprehended his altered position. Nor had he lost the sense of uneasiness which caused him to start and gaze about him with suspicion at every object and person he saw, as if he feared the moment of detection or captivity would come again. There was silence for a while, as Mrs. Judd concluded, which was at length broken by the inquiry, “Where is my daughter?” Captain Oliver asked the question more mechanically than otherwise; but ere the question could be answered, Isabel opened the door, and with a smile, not unmixed with a glance of inquiry as to what they were discussing, she went directly to her father, kissed his forehead, and putting her arm round his neck, inquired if he was “going out zoon.”

“Why, dear?” was the reply.

“Because I go with zoo, please.”

“Certainly, if you like, Isabel.”

“Then I much like.”

“You shall go. But, Isabel, Mrs. Judd has been talking to me and Mr. Judd—”

“Henry, father.”

“Well, Henry then—you know that name best. We have been talking about leaving.”

“Leaving zick, poor lady?”

“We have no such meaning, Isabel. Miss Tomlinson will go away soon to another home; I go also with her; Mrs. Judd go too, and Henry, and you must go.”

“Where? Not away from zoo? Never again away from zoo.”

Her eyes shot glances of fire as she spoke these words, and she clung to her father as if greatly alarmed. She looked exceedingly handsome, and Mrs. Judd must have thought so, for she said, in trying to comfort her, “Poor, dear, beautiful Isabel, no one is going to send her away.” Captain Oliver looked at her with admiration, and as it frequently happens that there only requires some little episode to settle the most weighty questions, Isabel's unexpected union to the consulting trio, and the alarm which she felt at the thought of being again compelled to leave her father, decided the whole matter. Isabel was to go to England under any circumstances.

So her father told her, and she caressingly assented. Then he laughingly said he hoped she “would not shoot him again;” and the dark eyes read from Judd's face, the fact that he had revealed this. She looked at her father, then at Mrs. Judd, and again at her old companion, and finally fell on her knees, crying out, “Forgive me; I did not know what I do then. I poor zavage girl; no friend—all forzake. I zay me zhoot man who leave mother. No other thought in my mind. Father! I had forgot the name. I think I was mad.”

“Poor child,” said Captain Oliver, at he raised her. “Poor child, you were not to blame. I was the bad one.”

“No, no; me bad, I know that; but I pray the great God to forgive me, and Mrs. Coles she read me out of great book. I had one book the long time I was in bush, but I not read. No; but Mrs. Coles she read me good things, and tell me the great God He forgive me. Zoo zee, father, how I can read now.”

“I do not think, dear,” said Captain Oliver, “that you will make much way by yourself at this sort of thing. The English language is very awkward to understand, and to you, Isabel, it will present many difficulties at first. We must try and help you, and you will soon get hold of much more than you at present know.”

In spite of all these disadvantages, the high spirited Isabel was very happy; and with the prospect of going to England with her father she seemed to lose all her fear, and as Mrs. Judd remarked every day made some improvement in her.

It has been stated that Eagle Hawk and his tribe were holding a devil's service at the time when the people were assembled in Burnham Church to pray to Almighty God for His interposition on behalf of the demented Julia. It was a corroboree under extraordinary circumstances.

Eagle Hawk, burning with rage and jealously because Mogara—we call Isabel so in connection with the natives—had forsaken the tribe to live with the white people, returned to the camp after the death of Colonel Tomlinson, and made a great speech. Mogara had sent for him, and in a long and earnest conversation she told him that her resolution was fixed “to go with the white gentleman.” As it turned out, she could not have made a more unfortunate remark than “go with the white gentleman,” for the old black construed it to mean a desertion under aggravated circumstances. He told her so, but she pleaded the sacred name of father. 'Father' has a place amongst the aboriginal words, but its significance is sadly marred, and to Eagle Hawk's hard stony heart it meant little more than any other word. The parting was therefore a declaration of war by fiery glances, meaning diabolical revenge on the one side, and haughty defiance on the other. Mogara knew little about patience; she had reigned supreme amongst the natives, and even under altered circumstances she insisted on her command being respected. This time, however, the result was not what she expected. Eagle Hawk was full of horrible resolves, and if Mogara could have heard his speech to the natives she would have known that mischief was brewing which it would be hard to counteract.

The old black commenced his address, which was spoken in the quick and excited manner which has obtained for the speech of the aboriginals the epithet of “jabber,” by relating his interview with Mogara and its result. He was listened to with silence until he told them that she was gone with the white gentleman. “Gone,” said he in the native tongue, “all the days; never see again.” Then the scene was worthy of Pandemonium. Eagle Hawk resumed his speech, after allowing the poison to spread a little by saying, “Shall we let our Queen go like this?” Shouts of disapprobation followed his several questions. “Shall we let her live with white man? Shall we not force her to come back? Shall we not burn house; kill man; bind Mogara; carry her away, far away; and she no more see white man?”

The sun was just setting as he finished his speech, and by this time he had succeeded in raising high the rage and fury of the blacks. 'Corrobboree,' 'corrobboree,' 'corrobboree,' was shouted from every lip. Eagle Hawk assented, and in an instant a hundred hands were engaged in collecting the materials for the orgie. In about forty minutes three great fires were lighted, and at a given signal twelve painted natives ran into the midst of the camp from the dark background of a scrubby lot of trees, and commenced a dance which was intended to be highly melodramic. There was music and singing, but the performers were invisible, and this was intended to heighten the effect of the ceremony, for though everyone knew that the performance was by some of their own number, yet so constituted are we all that mystery of any kind never fails to exert its influence upon the mind. Somehow the voices were so arranged as to appear to come from the ground, and ever and anon the dancers shouted out native words which signified “spirit.” Then the singing would sink into the most faint sound, presently rising into a perfect Babel of fury, during which the twelve dancers rushed round the circle, their heads being turned round, and their eyes glaring with savage ferocity; their arms raised; and their hands grasping boomerangs, which at last each one in turn, rushing towards the centre between the three fires, threw down on the ground with a terrific yell, and then ran off into the darkness from whence they had come. Then another set of performers on the other side of the charmed circle began their wild savage music and singing. At first it was a faint cry, as of distress, during which two natives, hand in hand, appeared suddenly, as if they had sprang from the earth. These began to jump from side to side. In a minute or two, two more appeared in like manner, and then another couple, until at last thirty painted warriors were on the scene, divided off into three separate tens, each ten hovering round one of the three fires. Then began a series of movements of an extraordinary character. Five out of each ten jumped to the right and five to the left. So they continued, with almost incredible exertion, for more than fifteen minutes, each movement increasing in velocity, until at the last the excitement was so great, the music so loud, the shouts so terrific, and the scene so picturesque, in spite of its horrible accompaniments, that to have been an indifferent spectator would have been impossible. The third act commenced by both acts of performers advancing with fortissimo shouts, and the whole tribe ran round the three fires with vehement frenzy, shouting “Death! corrobboree! corrobboree! death!” until at last they all rushed off into the darkness of the forest, having first scattered the fires, throwing upon the burning embers water which had been previously provided for the purpose. This demonstrated the extinction of life, and the silence which followed was that of the grave. Not a sound was heard, not a trace could be seen of a human being; all the tribe had vanished as if by magic.

It was the prelude to active warfare, but there was diplomacy in this campaign. Next morning Eagle Hawk, while on a tour of observation, encountered David Argyle, who was returning home from a visit to the public-house, which visits had become a matter of course now. Frequent relapses into illness had produced an effect upon Argyle's mind, which might be termed the stunting of the feelings. He had firmly set his face against any interference on the part of James Stewart. An arrangement had consequently been made by which the partnership was to be dissolved, and this for the time raised the temper of the drunkard into recklessness.

He broke out into horrible invectives, but heaped most of his bitterness on the head of Judd, until his hatred of the man became most intense.

“So this is it, is it?” he said to James Stewart, when the proposition to dissolve partnership was made. “You throw me over, whose money made you what you are, for that villain over yonder. Curse him, I'll have my eye on him.”

Stewart was inexpressibly grieved, but meekly replied, “David, what harm have I ever done to you? what am I doing now?”

“What harm? Did you not help that rascal to try and cheat me, and if you had not done it, would he have got me, do ye think, into his cursed clutches? I say you did it all. It was you that were the means of me being transported.”

“Oh, David, this is grevious indeed, you know that I never could have done you wrong, had I known it. Poor soul, you are blind to look at things in this light.”

“Blind, am I? Not so blind as you think, as I will soon show you. I am not going to be thwarted and lectured because you are trying to get the upper hand, I can tell you.”

“Let me ask you one thing, David Argyle: what bad motive can I have in wishing to see you do what is right? Would your mother—”

“Hold your tongue, Stewart, hold your tongue, I say!”

“No, David, I will not hold my tongue when the very life of my friend is at stake. I will speak.”

“Will you? Then, by God, you must take the consequence.”

He struck at Stewart as he spoke, but he might as well have levelled his hand against a tree, for his power had melted into nothingness; the broad-shouldered, strong-chested man, had become a poor weak emaciated creature, against whom Stewart's hand merely raised to ward off the blow, was as a rock, and he fell heavily to the ground.

Stewart advanced to raise him when he saw that he still remained where he fell, but he scowled upon him with a wild look of fury saying, “Go your way, James Stewart, get your deed drawn up soon—soon, mind, you cannot be too soon. I shall be at the sea-board sooner than you. I wish ye joy, my lad, with your charming bride. What a prize, a horrible lunatic. Ah! ah!”

Stewart could not leave the place immediately, he was struck with mingled grief and awe. His heart was full of resolves that he would still try to reclaim, but judgment whispered, “now, it is best to leave him.” Argyle got up to go to the public-house, and remained there for the rest of the day; and on the morning of the next, he was returning home, as we have seen, with two bottles of brandy tied up in his handkerchief, when he met Eagle Hawk sauntering along the road. He knew him instantly, having seen him at the station on the day of Colonel Tomlinson's death; and, accosting the old man, he offered him a drink. Eagle Hawk had heard about the fire drink of the white man, but had never tasted it; and at first he was extremely suspicious about the bottle. Alas! it is no novelty to these poor creatures now. Eagle Hawk tasted, made a wry face, coughed and spluttered a little, then tasted again, and finally laughed, patted the bottle, and said, “Him good.”

“Ah, my boy, it is good!” said Argyle, alighting from his horse. “Sit down, and you shall have some with me.” So saying, he led the way to a shady place a little way off the road, tied up his horse, and, pouring out a glass of brandy into a metal vessel which he carried with him, he drank it off, giving Eagle Hawk one also. Of course their tongues soon begun to talk, and Argyle discovered that in his comrade he had found a ready comrade for the accomplishment of his great desire. More brandy and more talk, partly by pantomime and partly by actual words; but about as hellish a plot was concocted in that interview as ever human thought devised. Another chapter is necessary to unfold this.

Chapter XLIV.—COUNTERPLOTTING.

They did not know that another pair of ears was listening to them, but Black Bill, who had been sent by James Stewart to procure tidings of David Argyle, had tracked him so closely as to become a witness to all that passed. Black Bill now had very frequently this duty to perform; it was a necessary precaution, as Argyle often fell from his horse, and was found by the messenger dead drunk, sometimes in very dangerous circumstances. Once he had fallen into a ditch, and his head was actually in the water; a few more inches on, and there was enough to drown him. Another time, he was found close to a bed of ants, who resented the intrusion by innumerable attacks, and so thoroughly senseless was he that they had actually eaten away pieces of his skin, and when Bill discovered him, he was covered with these little but formidable creatures, so that he appeared as a living mass of insect life. This time the black servant had to be more careful, for he saw that Argyle was sober; but he knew well how to skirmish around the post of observation, so as to lie in ambush and hear all without being seen.

“More brandy,” said he to himself, “you no talk much more: Massa Argyle, you take care of yourself to-day; if you fall on ants to-day, I pray you stop tere; better you tan your betters, tat's what I say. Here's off to Massa Stewart.”

So saying he withdrew from his hiding place very cautiously, but there was little need of any particular care, for the two men were noisy enough to have drowned any sound, and as quick as he could run, he hastened home. Here he sought “Massa Stewart,” as he always called him, but found that he was gone to Burnham Beeches. Off to that station he sped, and arrived there just as Mr. Coles, and his master, with Captain Oliver, were going to Mr. Sinclair's, for the purpose of arranging some business connected with them all, more or less; for the reverend gentleman's position was much altered since the change of circumstances attendant on the station passing again into other hands. A purchaser was in treaty for it, who had plainly said, “he wanted to see no parson on the place, if he bought it.”

Black Bill, without a moment's hesitation, asked his master to hear him, and as there was such evident alarm upon his countenance, James Stewart with a sign to his companions to follow him, led the way into the keeping-room.

“Oh, Massa Stewart, sich bad job: Massa Argyle down long road with great big black fellow, him up here at station, when good massa, him die.”

“Yes, I know, said Stewart,—what about him?”

“Him! Massa Argyle, give blackfellow brandy; tey drink one, two, tree, many lots of brandy; ten tey talk; I walk round quite careful, make no noise; Jeroosalem! how tey talk, says I.”

“Don't say, Jerusalem, Bill.”

“Tat word help me, Massa Stewart; it makes me wonder; ten gives me moment to tink; ten idea he come, many white man, massa he say, deuce; what to devil, and—”

“Quite enough, Bill, quite enough, white men who does so acts very wicked; deuce is devil, and we have quite enough of his doing without talking about him needlessly.”

“So you would tink, Massa Stewart, if you heard tem two. Massa Argyle, he say, 'what te devil your name?' 'Eagle Hawk,' says the black fellow. 'Ah,' says Massa Argyle, 'ten you know lady up at station, lady who live many years wit you?' 'Know she,' said Eagle Hawk—at least I tink he say so, only he talk so very funny, edicated persons not able to hear plain; Jeroosalem!”

The edicated person paused, as he saw a smile on the countenances of the listeners, but soon resumed his statement: “Well, Massa Stewart, ten he ask if he know Massa Judd, and him nod him head. Says Massa Argyle, 'I cut him troat;' and he drew him finger cross him troat, just like tis.” Here Black Bill, by pantomimic action, illustrated what he meant.

“Well, go on, Bill.”

“Yes, massa, I come to it presently. Well, he say, 'I want him kill, you no like him.' 'No,' says big blackfellow, 'I no like him;' and he dash his great big stick ting on to te ground. Whereupon Massa Argyle, he say, 'I go to station with letter; Massa Judd, he go out wid me; I lead up long road; you come knock him on head; I give you plenty brandy-fire drink; you go to station, take back fine lady; burn house; white man, he run; kill tem all; fine fun.' Massa,” said Black Bill, solemnly, “I no tink Massa Argyle sober when he say tis; he mad, and blackfellow he too drunk to mind what he say; but tey got so very fighty tat, tinks I, here goes tell Massa Stewart.”

“A very pretty plot indeed,” said Captain Oliver. “Now, what is to be done? Your partner, Stewart, is fast filling up his cup, I think.”

“Alas! what this cursed drink will do,” said Mr. Coles.

“Ah! indeed,” replied Stewart, “there never was a kinder, better young man than he was; God only knows what it will come to.”

“But what can be done?” said Captain Oliver. “We are not ready to go yet, and this scheme may end in—I was going to use a nasty word, Mr. Coles, but it is better kept back. Let us have Isabel in, she can tell us about this blackfellow.”

“And Judd also,” said Mr. Coles; “or let the lady be left out of the question.”

“I don't know,” replied Captain Oliver; “Isabel has strong nerve, and knows more about this fellow than we do.”

So Isabel was summoned, and Judd came with her, and the plot was unfolded. The former heard it with the strongest signs of impatience, anger, and fiery impetuosity. But Judd was no longer the man of the woods; the hermit; the monarch of the storm; or the active schemer; or even able to suggest anything for his own safety. The revelation seemed to level him to the dust.

Isabel, on the contrary, was like a tigress bereft of her cubs. She spoke with effort, but with a most determined will.

“Father, dear father, I will go to the blacks; I zee Eagle Hawk, I command them: I will live with them three, four, ten days; then I will come, when zoo ready to go, and we all go away together.”

“No, no, my child,” replied Captain Oliver, with much emotion, “I will never consent to that.”

“My father, there is many blacks, zoo know, and zo strong: they come here, fight, kill me; me go there, all zafe; no harm will come to zoo, none of zoo.”

“I think she is right, captain,” said Stewart, “but it is a terrible thing to be exposed to. What say you: I will go too.”

“That never do, Massa Stewart; they very sharp, know great deal: now I zay, I come back, and they like me much. I know them well.”

“But how can we tell you are right, Isabel; no, this is too great a thing to do; let us fight it out, surely we are a match for them.”

“Zoo lose life then, father,” exclaimed Isabel, “I know them well, there are zome very strong men with that people. Now I go, I zend black gin every day for zome tobacco; then I zend one paper with cross upon it: zoo zend back nothing but tobacco, till zoo ready to go, then zoo zend no tobacco, but zay come again tomorrow. Then I keep Eagle Hawk; he no go to zee Massa Argyle: all come right.”

“Noble-hearted Isabel,” exclaimed Mr. Coles, “you do indeed deserve the title.”

“But I cannot let you go, my dearest,” said Captain Oliver.

“No good, father, no good, I have my own way; always come right.”

“I have no doubt that Isabel, Captain Oliver, has influence enough to do all she says, but I cannot bear that she should run any risk for me.” Judd spoke these words very slowly, regarding the face of the proud half-caste woman with intense eagerness.

But nothing could move her, except Captain Oliver absolutely said “No;” and that, said Isabel, with a most engaging and artless smile, “I know he will not.”

So she again put on her old dress, for in that alone could she go to the tribe. She knelt and kissed her father's hand, then put her arm around his neck, kissed his forehead, then waving her hand she rushed out of the room, bounded off the verandah, and with a rapid walk was soon lost to sight.

For a minute or two not a word was spoken. Mrs. Gumby looked at her as she bounded away as if she never intended to close her eyes again.

They would have continued to look but for the entrance of Mr. Sinclair, who, of course, heard the particulars about Isabel's departure. He shook his head; told them he had passed the old black lying on the side of the road, with a bottle by his side. He had broken the bottle, and, said he, “he will sleep where he is till he gets sober. Now, gentlemen, I am at your service.”

While they are discussing some very knotty points, for which neither of them were fitted just then, their thoughts being with the absent Isabel, we will follow the courageous woman as she speeds on to her destination. The camp was fully four miles away from Burnham, but onward she went, until she caught sight of the smoke of the fires: then she paused and reconnoitered. Her aim was to come upon the blacks suddenly, so as to produce an instant impression, but she found that this was impossible. There was no high ground to conceal her approach; no trees to form an ambush; so she resolved to march on, trusting to circumstances to show her how to act. She was soon seen, and twenty blacks shouting and yelling, ran to meet her. She asked for Eagle Hawk, but there was no reply. “Tell me,” she cried, in the native tongue, speaking in her usual commanding voice, “tell me, where he is.”

Still there was no reply, but an angry scowl upon the faces of the men which betokened mischief. She was equal to the occasion, and stamping fiercely on the ground, planting her staff before her as she always did, she cried, “who will answer me, have you no mouths to speak.”

“Mouths to speak to Mogara; Mogara dead now.”

“You lie,” she shrieked; “you lie; Mogara is here; Mogara is come back to be your queen.”

“No,” was the angry response, “Mogara killed at corrobboree.”

“What say you, killed at corroboree; who dare to do so? tell me.” She laid her hand on a young native who stood close to her as she spoke.

“Eagle Hawk,” was the reply.

“Eagle Hawk kill Mogara at corrobboree; tell me where I find him. I make him cry for this. Bulla, on to camp, Mogara commands.”

She was right, her influence was all powerful; to a man they turned round, and marched to the camp. Not many besides themselves, and half-a-dozen gins and some children were in the camp, all the rest had gone out in various directions. Mogara acknowledged the greeting of all she met, with an authoritative wave of her hand; then she ordered the men to erect her umpie; this was done in less than an hour, and then Mogara quietly awaited the return of Eagle Hawk, who alone of all the rest she now feared. She well knew what the killing at corroboree meant, and that Eagle Hawk never swerved from the universal custom.

“He has the start of me,” said Mogara, as she sat down at the entrance to her umpie, but the great God lives.

Chapter XLV.—THE DEATH STRUGGLE.

The day and the night passed away, and still Mogara sat at the entrance to her umpie, watching. All the natives had returned to camp, but she spoke not to them, and they were as taciturn as she. Morning dawned, but still Eagle Hawk came not, and now Mogara began to show signs of impatience and anxiety. Even the short period of civilised life which she had enjoyed at the station had produced its physical effect upon her. She shivered in the keen morning air, and felt that her accustomed vitality was sensibly lower. More than this, she was hungry, and the horrible food which was available disgusted her. How she longed for a little milk or a cup of tea, but it was no use. Several times the temptation was very strong to return to the station at all hazards, but this she courageously resisted. The sun arose, but still there was no sign of the chief. At last Mogara resolved to send a gin to the station as she had arranged, and calling a young girl, she gave her instructions what to do. To her surprise, she refused to obey her. Then Mogara arose, and seizing the gin, dragged her into the midst of the camp. There soon gathered an excited, chattering, and startled group of both men and women, many of whom were far from satisfied with Mogara's action. There was a division in the camp; the greater part had not been present when Mogara returned, and until Eagle Hawk came back they were unwilling to act on either side.

Mogara saw what was passing in their minds, but was far too much excited to care about it. In the turmoil which such thoughts created, she began a very famous harangue: some of the natives remembered it long afterwards. It produced a certain effect, but a most unsatisfactory result. Mogara had learnt to speak with greater refinement, which though of no great value or extent in civilized life, yet was startlingly evident to the senses of the native. They admired her fluency of speech; applauded her many new modes of address; assented to the reasonableness of her demands, but in her temporary exaltation to white men's society there had been an action of thought which presented an insurmountable barrier to the renewal of loyalty on the one side, or power to rule on the other.

As she concluded, Eagle Hawk arrived. The old man strode up to the place where Mogara stood, his eyes flashing with deadly hatred. There was a strong impulse within him to hate, for he was feeling the effects of his drunken freak; his head ached with the fumes of the spirit, and his brain reeled with strong excitement. In awakening from his insensibility, his hatred to white men was most intense. Like many a poor creature who knows better, he despised the man who had given him the drink. He accosted Mogara—“Intangau: what is your name?”

“Why do you ask, Eagle Hawk? you know it.”

“Gurwalko,” replied the black man, “long while ago I know Mogara; Mogara, dautou—cold.”

“Yawoi—yes—waiaroo koola—hungry and displeased.”

“Meniente?—why?”

“Eagle Hawk corroboree, Mogara, meniente?” It will be tedious to continue the conversation in the native tongue, but words here and there may indicate a meaning when the allusion is purely Australian.

“Eagle Hawk corroboree Mogara, Mogara go away; live with white man! Eagle Hawk angry; blackfellow, they corroboree too.”

“Tell me,” replied Mogara: “when I go away long time ago, go away, one, two, three, many day, zoo no corroboree, Mogara, then.”

“White man Henry no with us then. He come; no good; all go wrong. Blackfellow he nothing.”

“Ah! I zee, replied Mogara; and zo you no want yarun (hunting ground). You make white man angry; he drive blackfellow to dabileban (salt water); then come yungyarba (flood tide), drown, destroy all blackfellow, they all corroboree by white man.”

Mogara reckoned wrong again by this mode of address. The tribe had smarted sorely in their conflict with Captain Oliver; several of the natives were severely wounded, and it required all the power which Mogara could use at that time to prevent a rush upon the white men, which would have soon terminated the struggle. But the blacks, though stayed in their attack by the impetuous command of the woman, had sense enough to feel that they might have gained the victory. For a brief period, that is during the journey to Burnham, they were tractable; but when the wounded managed to crawl into the camp, at the end of three days, they had enough to say to excite the revengeful feelings of the whole tribe. In the height of the discussion which ensued, Eagle Hawk also returned to camp, rage and fury tearing his judgment to pieces, and the corroboree took place. From that moment, Mogara was regarded as an outcast whose death it would be a virtue to accomplish. Still the indomitable spirit of the fine woman overawed the children of the bush. They dared to kill, and yet they dared not strike the blow. But when Mogara hinted the possibility of the tribe being hunted away to the sea board, there arose a terrible cry, “goyam, mogara, goyam!” (fire, thunder, fire); Eagle Hawk then lifted his club, and struck Mogara down. She rose instantly staggering and reeling, and with her long staff she parried the blows with which the old man now attempted to complete her destruction. The contest was left to Eagle Hawk according to the usual custom, and continued for some minutes. Mogara was sorely wounded, and the blood was flowing from each gash; Eagle Hawk had been struck about the head, and his blood, inflamed by the drink, rushed to his brain, making him reel and stagger like a drunken man. During the turmoil, the shouts and yells of the blacks were frightful: imagine a hundred mad men let loose, this would be far below the reality. But the combat soon came to a crisis; the poor woman was again struck down with a fearful blow which stunned her, and Eagle Hawk was pressing on to complete the sacrifice, when a bullet from an unseen hand entered his forehead, and he fell lifeless over the body of his victim. A cry of dismay arose from every blackfellow, which, combined with shrieks from the gins, was horrible. Their courage was all gone; their chiefs and leaders were slain; they all arose and fled.

It was a perfect rout, for the shots were now rapidly repeated, and the blacks, believing that they were surrounded, escaped as they could, in fact they ran for precious life. Never as a tribe did they assemble again. Thirty men armed with muskets, revolvers, and pistols, routed them again from the hiding place where they camped some few hours after Eagle Hawk's death, and they were shot, massacred, in a word, all but exterminated. An old man or two, who belonged to the tribe, yet remain; the white hairs proclaim their venerable age, but the recollection of that day makes them shudder. Eagle Hawk, they still remember; but Mogara—they turn away when they hear the word.

CHAPTER XLVI.

SAM BROWN arrived at the station shortly after Mr. Sinclair, and he also heard of Mogara's rash adventure. To describe his consternation would be to use every adjective which can increase the power of the word, for, unseen, he had witnessed the corroboree, and from previous experience he knew what it meant. But his thoughts went farther: who can it mean? he said to himself. Full of this he hastily decamped when he saw the fires extinguished, and in the darkness he was not seen. When he heard about Argyle and Eagle Hawk's plotting, and Mogara's departure from Burnham, he saw that she was gone into the lion's mouth, and he plainly told Captain Oliver so.

“If she escapes, it will be a miracle.”

“Think you so?” replied the captain, with much alarm. “Let us go, then, and rescue her.”

“Easier said than done, my dear sir,” said Brown; “if you or I appear upon the scene, Isabel is done for. That's a settled thing, my word, it is!”

“Impossible,” replied Captain Oliver.

“No unpossible in the case, sir. I say, how could you let her go?”

“I did not wish it. Indeed I strongly resisted it, but Judd said—”

“The old fool,” hastily replied Brown, interrupting the captain, “why can't he mind his own business? He is safe. Why couldn't he be content without sendin' that poor soul to her death?” Brown, though really a good man, had his colonial notions about the extermination of the natives. “God,” said he, “commanded Israel to cut off all the Canaanites. These be Canaanites; what else can they be? and what good are they? Better to get rid of the wretches, they are Heaven's foes.”

Captain Oliver did not reply; he was deep in thought and greatly distressed. “Shall I never see Isabel again?” at length he said. “Is she restored only to be cut off in her gladness and hope? Oh! Brown, what can be done?”

“The best thing you can do, captain, is to act, and let the feelings go to sleep for a spell. If my Sally had got into such quarters as Isabel, I would not leave one stone unturned to get her back again; no, I wouldn't. That's my plain way of puttin' it, sir, 'fend or please.”

“My good follow, I thank you, and I know your advice is the best; but somehow all my old courage seems to have fled.”

“It will come again, never fear, when we see Isabel, as I expect we shall,” said Brown; “but don't let us lose any time. I think you said that the old rascal, Mister honest Argyle's friend, was lying drunk somewhere? Isabel is safe enough till that old fellow get's back to camp; if we can only follow him we may—we may—”

“Why do you hesitate, Brown?”

“I don't want to use ugly words, Captain Oliver, but if we be able to keep 'em all back in this dirty piece of colonial work, all I can say is other people's tempers will be better than mine.”

“Don't ye fancy I want to spare the varmints,” replied Captain Oliver, “the thought of their kindness to the colonel made hope—”

“Excuse me interrupting you, sir, for I can't help it, I feels mighty strong on this 'ere point. They will do you a good, I grant, but what's the odds when they will tomahawk ye the moment after? Now, we well knows that we, I mean white people, would be glad if we could have brought father and child together; but what do these infidels care for such things? Self, sir, is the only law they know, and they will kill Isabel all for self.”

They soon reached the track which led to the Vineyard. Here Bob, who with his brother had joined the expedition, was sent to see if Eagle Hawk was still asleep where he had seen him. He soon returned to say he was “snoring like a rhinocerous.”

“There was no fear of waking him,” Bob said, “if you shouted in his ear, except you shouted brandy, but the place where he was lying smelt like a brandy shop.”

“We can all lie down, father,” said Bob's brother, who had also gone to spy out the enemy, “on the other side of the road in the thick grass, and see my gentleman.”

“And hear him too,” said Bob.

So to this thicket they adjourned, looking at the old fellow as they passed him. He stirred not at their inspection, no, nor throughout the night which followed did he appear to have moved. The morning dawned cold and foggy. The spies in their grass fortress were well protected with their blankets, but Eagle Hawk awoke and shivered. He arose and shook himself, then looking cunningly around seemed to recollect the brandy bottle which Argyle had given him; then he began to search for it, and finding the broken bottle about three yards from him, he knew that someone must have been there. So he began to look about more suspiciously, and then he found tracks of footsteps, which discovery, combined with his depressed feelings, so worked upon the old man that with a cry he trotted off into the bush as fast as his limbs would allow him to go. Not before he had met the due reward of his drunkenness, by sundry stumblings over logs and other obstructions, did he seem to remember where he was bound to; but just as Bob lost sight of him and beckoned to his father to come on, Eagle Hawk bounded off in the direct road which led to the black's camp. Captain Oliver and Sam Brown, with his son, soon reached the place where Bob was waiting for them.

“He's off to camp,” said the overseer, “that's certain.”

“Right!” said Bob. “Now, father, let us go round by the creek, there is not much water in it, and if the captain don't mind wetting his feet we can come upon them like lightning.”

Captain Oliver was strongly excited now; he would have gone through fire after the sensual looking old black, about whom Brown said to him sotto voce, “a pretty creature arn't he, to lay hands on Miss Isabel?” It was like the application of the match to the powder. “Forward,” said the captain, “anyhow—anywhere, so that we reach them in time.”

It was a tedious and roundabout march, and they did not reach the place to which they were bound until Isabel had been struck down.

They saw her rise, but although from two different places they tried to cover the old black, Isabel was always in such dangerous proximity to him that they dared not fire. But as they were about to rush upon the scene at all hazards, the last blow was struck, which again felled Isabel to the ground. They saw her fall, Captain Oliver exclaiming, “My God, she is dead!” Then Brown fired, and with such sure aim that the days of Eagle Hawk were closed.

CHAPTER XLVII.—SEPARATION AGAIN.

A BITTER quarrel was rousing the meek and quiet temper of James Stewart into a paroxysm of mingled grief and indignation. He was sitting at breakfast, when David Argyle entered the room, with almost brutal hardness, peering out of his sunken eyes in insulting glances towards his partner. He saw the Bible lying open on the table, and, deliberately taking it in his hand, before Stewart could prevent him, he threw it on the sofa, and laid down upon it. Stewart immediately arose, and, speaking very warmly, said:

“David Argyle, you may insult me as much as you please—I will try to bear it; but you shall not so insult your God.”

“Who is to prevent me, Mr. Stewart?”

“I will try to maintain the honor of your Creator,” replied Stewart, “even if you are determined to provoke him to destroy you.”

“James Stewart, let me and my affairs alone. If you can be so civil as to cease offering prayers for me, I shall be obliged to you.”

“No, David Argyle, I will not oblige you in this; as long as life lasts, I will pray that God may have mercy on your soul. The day will come when you will remember these words. May it come soon.”

“You are so complimentary, upon my soul, that I must return the favor. May the day of our acquaintance soon cease. How remarkably complaisant we are to-day; perhaps you will chant the whole litany gratis.”

“David Argyle, hear me. The deed of dissolution of partnership you are well aware is prepared, and only needs our signatures to become valid. You know the sorrow, the big sorrow, which is well nigh breaking my heart, which prevents its immediate execution. It is more than probable that I shall have to find a large sum of money to save Julia from a disastrous loss. In that case, you also know that I could not take the station and pay you out.”

“Hang the station, I have got plenty of money without it. Cursed be the day that you persuaded me to come to this wretched hole. No society, no life, no anything, but a white-face parson and his woman, who is everlastingly saying to a fellow, 'now don't drink, see what it will lead ye to.' D—n the whole lot!”

“In kindness to you—”

“D—n their kindness, I say, I don't want it. I like brandy, they like water; why shouldn't I have my drink and they their's?”

“Is there any comparison?”

“Just as one likes to take it. This is a free country, and I have a right to do as I like.”

“Perhaps you have.”

“Perhaps I have? Why, God help you for a poor psalm-singing, meek-hearted, defender of the oppressed, I say, I know I have, and it would take a better man than you to dispute it. Having said this, and feeling your precious book to be rather hard under my back, here take it and eat it. I recollect one part says something about somebody who did this sort of thing, and it was bitter to him, somewhere or other, I forget exactly where.”

“May God make it—”

“Your prayers! James Stewart, can't ye stop such mouthing when I ask ye? I declare I will swear at ye if ye do it again. I am going to bully-ho my name for the hot place, and if I have no objection, what need have you?”

Stewart was about to reply, but Harry Brown, riding furiously along the road to the house, attracted his attention. He was indeed a messenger of woe, nor could he speak as he handed Stewart a piece of paper on which was written as follows:

'DEAR STEWART,—

Isabel is dying; come as quickly as you can.—

Yours,

OLIVER.'

He read it, handed it to Argyle, and with a look full of meaning said: “This is your work—your's and the old black together. You have worn chains once; take care, you may wear them again. Your diabolical plot is all known. One victim is sacrificed; the other, thank God, is, I hope, beyond your reach.”

Argyle arose from the sofa as Stewart left the room to saddle his horse. He could stare at anyone he disliked with a hellish look, and now he watched Stewart as he was on his way to the stable, muttering slowly, but distinctly, “Beyond my reach!—Worn chains!—By God, the chains shall be worn by somebody else—he called him, 'the other.' Here goes for a breakfast, and then farewell to Leyton.”

Stewart was not long in reaching Burnham. Here he found everything in dire confusion, everyone in dire distress. Brown, after firing his rifle, which stretched Eagle Hawk lifeless on the ground, rushed forward, shouting to his sons, “Load and fire as fast as you can; give it them strong, don't spare the wretches.” Then, revolver in hand, he rushed to the camp. The blacks were in flight pell-mell, they stayed not to pick up anything, it was sauve qui pent. Eagle Hawk had fallen close to Isabel. He was quite dead; the woman lived, but she was insensible. They gently lifted up her head and moistened her lips with brandy, but there was no sign of returning consciousness. The father was almost frantic; he wept and cried out in piteous tones, “Isabel, dearest Isabel, why, why did I suffer you to do this? My God, how is my sin punished. I threw away my child, and Thou hast only restored her to know her worth, and then to take her away.”

“Better, however, than I thought,” said Brown, “I was afraid they would burn her alive. She is worth a dozen dead ones yet. Hang the old rascal, he got ahead of us after all; however we did the best we could, and accidents will happen. Bob, my lad, run now like an emu, and fetch up the cart.”

Captain Oliver did not reply, but pressed the hand of the plain-speaking, kind-hearted man. Minutes passed away, and a full hour of deep suspense elapsed before Bob returned. He had run like an emu indeed, for he accomplished the four miles on foot and back again with the cart, in less than an hour and ten minutes. He perfectly amazed the people at the station: first, he told them that Missee Isabel was dead, then, she was dying; next, that she had been crucified or “summut like it,” said he; and last of all he said, “God bless the people, go to Jericho, but let me have the cart and a mattress.”

What a house of mourning and lamentation was this Burnham Beeches now Isabel was brought back to it still senseless, and with a great bruise upon her skull. Mr. Coles said he feared the worst, but she regained her consciousness for a brief period. Captain Oliver was by her side when she opened her eyes; she looked at him with an affectionate smile and tried to speak; but could only say, “Father, father!”

With his eyes full of tears he bent down and kissed her, and then she wept with him. But this seemed to retrim the flickering lamp, for soon after she spoke in faltering words, and with much effort: “Father, dear father, I meet zoo again at the inn with—”

“Colonel Tomlinson, my dearest.”

“Zes, zes, I heard him call you by name, or I would not have found zoo. All I had was—was—” she began to pause again for words, and her father anticipated some of them.

He said now: “A handkerchief, dearest.”

“Zes, zes, and I wrap it up and put it on—”

“Sliprail.”

“Zes, zes; I zee Henry take it, and I follow him, and then I—”

“I know all the rest, don't say more, dearest.”

“But I not know zoo, my father then; I only know Captain Oliver, my mother's master.”

“Never mind, dearest, about that,” said the captain, weeping bitterly.

“One thing more, father, Henry very kind to me; he zay man come take him away, no let him.” She could say no more.

“Can nothing be done to save her,” said Captain Oliver. “Money is nothing in comparison—” He could not finish the sentence.

“Sir,” replied Mr. Coles, “many a life in this colony might be spared if medical and surgical aid could be obtained. I dare not attempt an operation which may not after all be successful; I have not the skill to effect it, nor poor Isabel the strength to bear it.” He touched her pulse as he spoke, and slowly shook his head. “One hope, my dear friend, I have, she may again be conscious.”

While he spoke Isabel once more opened her eyes, fixed them tenderly upon her father, and whispering, “Father, dearest,” she made a sign as if she wished him to kiss her. He did so, and then she looked at Mrs. Coles, her eyes beaming with delight; finally she fixed her gaze on something above her, breathed out the name of Christ, and Isabel departed hence without a sigh or a groan.

It was the tenth day after this second funeral, that Judd was talking with Captain Oliver about Isabel, and the life they had led together amongst the natives. Judd was telling the captain how he had kept up his own ability to speak the English language by reading a piece of an old newspaper which he had found, and by writing with a piece of charcoal, after he became a shepherd, various portions of the Bible.

“I found, sir,” said he, “that Isabel knew some few words, and after a while she caught up several more, and then I taught her what I knew, so she could understand what I said pretty well, and when she could not, then we talked together as the natives do. I dare say, sir, you remember that when I first saw you I was accustomed to make a pause after the I.”

“I remember, Judd, and thought it very strange.”

“Well, sir, when I talked with Isabel, I used to say to her 'I', laying force upon the 'I', and pausing to impress it upon her instead of her using the word me as she did constantly, and I got into the habit of doing so.”

“I see it now,” said Captain Oliver.

“We used to talk together about you, sir, and she would say, 'Father, my father,' so tenderly, that at times I could not bear it. I longed for the time to come when that savage life would end, but I little thought it would finish as it did. Ah! look—look, Captain Oliver!”

The captain turned in the direction to which Judd pointed, and saw two mounted police approaching the house. Judd turned as pale as ashes instantly, and Captain Oliver instinctively seemed to dread something, for he immediately said: “Never fear, my good man, I will see them.”

They dismounted at the front door, and very soon told their errand: By the information of one David Argyle, they had been commanded “to search for and to take into custody one Henry Julet or Judd, to answer before whomsoever he might be brought the charge of being a convicted felon, who had been sentenced to penal servitude for life, but was at large without authority or sanction.”

What need is there of words to express grief and sorrow. Let the full volume be imagined: it will not be too much. Judd left Burnham Beeches on the following morning, and soon after, stricken, and as one in sackcloth and ashes, he was awaiting the sailing of a ship which was to convey him to Sydney. Captain Oliver saw him in Brisbane and gave him the strongest hope that he would be able to move the authorities on his behalf, so as considerably to moderate, even if he could not altogether avert, the consequences of the position in which he had fallen by the determined revenge of his implacable enemy. To Stewart, who also saw him at Brisbane, he related the history of his many crimes, of his fruitless and wretched life, with which the reader is acquainted.

Stewart saw him once more. “Keep what I have told you a secret,” he said; “but should I come to a violent death, I pray you to do what you can to punish Long, the man whose temptations helped me to ruin.”

CHAPTER XLVIII.—TO ENGLAND AGAIN.

In pursuance of a consultation which took place between Captain Oliver and James Stewart, an attempt was made to induce Argyle to give up his merciless determination to prosecute Judd. Captain Oliver volunteered to do this, accompanied by Mr. Coles, who had left Burnham Beeches soon after Julia Tomlinson, in company with Mr. and Mrs. Gumby, Lottie, Mrs. Judd, and Alice. The coffee-roaster and his wife had resolved to commence in “the publican life,” as Mrs. Gumby called it, with Lottie for a barmaid. Robert Brown was of course frantic at the separation, but there was no help for it, and so with many vows of love until death the two parted. Mr. and Mrs. Gumby make their exit from our tale at this place, and it may be explained that Lottie never became Mrs. Brown, but Mrs. Robert Wright, and this is how it came about: She went to Sydney to see her sister, who was indignant that her parents had made her a bar-maid. They consequently made excuses to keep her in New South Wales, and Lottie, being handsome and engaging, Mrs. George Wright's brother-in-law caught the fever. It ended with a gold ring of the very plainest workmanship, which being placed on the lady's fourth finger, Mr. Robert Wright got well.

Mr. and Mrs. Gumby failed again. Such persons cannot have much hope of succeeding in Australia. They finally went home, and found employment as laundress and porter.

Mrs. Judd and Alice sailed in the same ship with the Rev. Mr. and Mrs. Coles, Captain Oliver, and the convict Judd. The projected interview with Argyle was ineffectual. He swore with bitter invectives that he would have Judd's life; nor would he rest until he saw him on the scaffold. This was not his intention when he gave the information to the authorities. But how cautious people ought to be who transact business in wooden houses. Stewart was discussing some business matters with Captain Oliver at an hotel in Brisbane, not thinking how thin a partition separated them from Argyle, who was in the next room. There was no noise, nor anything to induce them to think that any could hear them; but Stewart, in telling Captain Oliver the substance of Judd's confession, gave Argyle the clue he wanted. Judd was brought before the authorities with a view to his being sent to Sydney, and at this examination James Stewart was summoned to appear. Argyle made an affidavit that he believed he could give important information concerning a murder which the prisoner had committed, for which murder he (David Argyle) had been convicted and transported. He stated as a reason for making this affidavit his desire to clear his own character from such a foul stigma, without which he could never return to England as he wished to do. Stewart at first indignantly refused to answer any question, but, on being threatened with committal for contempt of court, Judd spoke as follows:—“Sirs and gentlemen all: I told Mr. Stewart as much as is charged against me, but I had no thought he would have told it again.”

“Nor did I,” said Stewart indignantly, “except to—”

He saw his mistake.

“Except to whom?” was the question.

“Answer it, Mr. Stewart,” said Judd.

“Except to Captain Oliver,” said Stewart.

“And I overheard it all,” said Argyle.

Judd lost all hope and courage as he listened to this revelation. He had been told that the evidence respecting his case was altogether against the hope that he could ever be released; and when the probable result of his confession to Stewart rose before him, he saw there was no hope. That night he made a full public confession in writing, and upon this he was committed to take his trial. The prisoner was brought before the Supreme Court at Sydney, to have the papers endorsed, and he was sent to England to be dealt with as the Imperial Government might decide.

Argyle left Australia as soon after the convict Judd as he could. In the unsettled state of the late Colonel Tomlinson's affairs, Stewart could not purchase Argyle's share of the Leyton Station, it was therefore sold, and the proceeds were divided between the partners, at least the remnants of the proceeds, for so determined was Argyle to put every stumbling block in Stewart's way that litigation ensued, which swallowed up much good money, and ended by leaving the matter just where it was before the proceedings commenced.

Before the final settlement, Julia Tomlinson recovered. But upon no consideration would her medical attendant advise her return to Burnham Beeches; nor was Stewart inclined again to take up his abode at a place where all was changed, and where painful reminiscences would ever occur. The subject was hinted to Julia, but she replied quickly and excitedly “No more James; no more to that place.”

There was an additional reason Stewart was advised by no means to risk any further expenditure upon the property, and so Mr. Sinclair foreclosed the mortgage under circumstances for which no better term can be found than this—it was a robbery of the orphan. In the settlement of their Australian affairs, therefore, James Stewart found himself looking pensively at the word minus to which he added the following expressive words: “All but L500;” and Julia Tomlinson's position was the most literal illustration of the adage, “Riches have wings.” Of all her late father's investments in Australia, she could claim nothing. But the executors became partners, and their stock henceforth was joint stock; and people who knew said that the income which was left was very ample, and the union was most desirable. Mr. and Mrs. James Stewart left Sydney for England about three months after the ship which conveyed Judd to the same destination. A black servant sailed with them, who wore a black livery with epaulettes, and a black hat with a rosette, and there was a waiting servant, also black, who was in the habit of playfully calling her fellow servant “her Billy.”

CHAPTER XLIX.—FIVE YEARS LATER.

In prospectu, five years seem like an age; in reality, like a dream. Henry Judd reached England in due course, was arraigned on the charge of murder, pleaded guilty, and was executed. The indignation which was felt against him was expressed in loud and measured maledictions; the one redeeming point in the man's life weighed less than a feather in the scale. His crimes were all exposed, and they condemned him beyond the possibility of forgiveness. He heard his second dread sentence unmoved, and left the bar prepared for the worst. Judd was a sincere Christian now. By the kindness of the commander of the vessel, many interviews had taken place on the voyage home between the convict and his all but heart-broken wife and daughter. Judd told them plainly that he had no hope; that even if he could escape the capital punishment, he could not endure the thought of penal servitude to the end of his days, under the aggravated circumstances with which it would be inflicted. “Moreover,” said he, “death has set its seal upon me; I feel, I know it. It is better for me, for all, that I should be gone.”

“My life,” said he to Mr. Stewart, “has been a great mistake. I might have succeeded well had I kept to the simple path of honest labor. I wanted pleasure, and money to gratify this craving; yet when the tempting bait was in my hand I had no enjoyment in it. The sting which the dearly-purchased gratification naturally fostered struck deep into my conscience, and I never had a moment's rest. If I tried to read, my thoughts were elsewhere. The duties and pleasures of home were as thorns in my side. I could not bear to look upon innocent ones, who I well know believed implicitly in me, while I was a hypocrite, a slave to vice. Many a time, whilst in the midst of my companions who were carousing with merry glee, I felt a soul abhorrence of their boisterous mirth, and longed for a quiet place in which to pray. But could I pray? I have knelt sometimes, but not a word would come, although I am sure that God was very merciful to me. He in mercy sent me to yonder land, and has brought me back again to end my days, where I deserved to end them years ago.”

“Now here is the secret, and this is the issue of God's mercy, as I view it. Had I ended my career before I was sent to Australia, I had surely perished, body and soul together. But He interposed; He put these years between the great crime and the final doom, and now I die with mercy written upon every moment that remains for me to live. I am not afraid to die.”

Argyle's vengeance followed the wretched man to the last; he made an application to be admitted to the prison to gaze upon his victim's dying moments and, had sufficient influence to gain his object. As Judd was undergoing the usual preparations for the scaffold he made an effort to speak to Argyle, but the latter refused to hear him or if he did hear he steadily fixed his lips so as to appear totally unconcerned. But as the dead body was brought in the man's vengeance was burnt out—an ashy pallor overspread his countenance, which evidenced strong inward feeling, and he hastily quitted the scene to indulge in one of the most drunken orgies which ever disgraced the name of man.

But in a small room a few weeks later there lay a poor suffering creature, slaughtered by the vices of a sensual life. Was it possible that such a creature could be penitent and waiting patiently for the hour of his departure? It was. Many years had elapsed since Mrs. Argyle had died, but her dying prayer had been registered in Heaven's book of remembrance; and next to the prayer the answer was written, “The prodigal is come home at last.” Poor follow! what a journey had he run since the morning when Richard Rouse enticed him away from his usual routine of simple farm life. But he came home at last, he was in his right mind also, and when he closed his eyes upon earth he whispered, “Mother, David is coming.” All his remaining money he bequeathed to Alice Judd. Stewart saw him by his own request, and a most affecting reconciliation was the result. How Argyle blamed himself, and heaped upon his own head a host of sins, of which he said in bitterness he had been guilty, many pages would be required to tell. He breathed out his last breath in Stewart's arms, the victim of a vicious life cut off in his very prime.

Mr. and Mrs. Stewart had purchased a villa in the neighborhood of Richmond, where they were now living. There were additions to their family circle in the shape of two children, who, though not quite old enough to occupy a place at the parents' table, yet held a very considerable portion of their loving affection. Isabel was the elder, and James Tomlinson Stewart the charming baby.

Mrs. Judd, soon after the death of “her poor Henry,” as she called him to the close of her life, became very feeble, and from this sign of the approaching end she passed into imbecility, and finally became deaf and dumb. But she lived several years, with Alice as her constant companion, a strong, hearty-looking man assisting to the best of his power in this very pious act. To be sure he had another object, but what of that? There are thousands whose gaze is fixed upon a specific object, but all the time they are carefully watching something else. But one morning the assistance of the strong man took another turn. He very politely escorted Miss Alice to a church, and as politely assisted her back again; and before the expiration of a week from that day a brass plate upon the door of Mrs. Judd's house bore the name of “Chas. Lambert, coal merchant.” It was not very long after this that the family removed from Richmond, where they had settled from a desire to be near Mr. and Mrs. Stewart, and henceforth Mrs. Judd became an inmate of her son-in-law's new house, which he had erected in his own premises, a large coal wharf near Campdentown. Here the business flourished, and the family increased, and their happiness also; the days of captivity were ended, and Alice's sorrowing early life was changed into a constant succession of bridal days, for her husband was a good follow, and she rejoiced with an exceeding joy. Time rolled on, and the sky of their lives was unclouded, save by one event which had been long expected. One morning the servant went upstairs to carry Mrs. Judd's breakfast to her, but she had passed away in the night, evidently without pain for she looked as if she were asleep. They buried her at Southampton as she wished, and as they returned from the grave Stewart said, “One more victim of poor Judd's self-indulgence. May God Almighty grant that she may be the last.”

CHAPTER L.—MR. SEPTIMUS LONG.

By the evening train from Southampton to London Mr. Stewart and his companion, Mr. Lambert, returned home. In the same carriage with them there was a traveller who was extremely taciturn, scarcely deigning even to notice his follow travellers. As the train reached Basingstoke he left the carriage, placing a small book on the seat he occupied. Accidentally, as it is termed, Mr. Stewart took up the book, as travellers sometimes do in a railway carriage, but his surprise was something above mere curiosity as he read the name on the cover—Septimus Long, Bonsal, Leyton, Suffolk. In a few minutes afterwards the owner of the book re-entered the carriage, and the train again started. Stewart was hardly the man to be capable of duplicity, yet he could not help practising a little diplomacy of this character in order to see the effect of certain revelations which he resolved to make to Lambert about poor Judd. The train had reached the little but picturesque village of Basing when he begin his investigating conversation.

“Our friend's life has been a very painful experience, Mr. Lambert.”

He had given the latter a hint about the object he had in introducing the subject.

“Very, indeed, sir. I am surprised that she bore her heavy troubles so patiently.”

“You knew her many years ago?”

“Yes, Lambert. I lived in Southampton when her husband was a clerk in a merchant's office.”

“Mr. Hartlop, I think, was the name, was it not?”

“It was. He has retired from business now, and is resident in London, but is very feeble.”

“What position did you say he occupied? I mean the husband of our deceased friend,” said Lambert.

“He was a clerk; perhaps you never heard that I was in the same gentleman's employ.”

“Yes, I did; but—”

“I know what you are going to say, Lambert. You are acquainted with the L40 cheque affair.”

The book, which Mr. Long had again commenced reading, was at this point of the conversation closed, and the reader drew his cap over his eyes and turned his head away from the speakers as if to sleep. It was very evident that uneasiness the first had begun to pinch him.

“The cheque was a forgery, I believe?” said Lambert, continuing the conversation.

“It was, and as rank a piece of rascality as ever was tried in a court of justice. But while our deceased friend's husband was the real criminal, there was someone else who held the dish to receive the money.”

“Indeed! Who was that?”

“He had some companions, so he told me; one of them took the cheque to the bank, obtained the money, and kept it. He did not touch a penny of it.”

“Diamond cut diamond?”

The agony of the listener was now most vividly apparent. He raised himself up, and, opening his valise, he drew out a railway guide, and began to study the names of the stations with the greatest eagerness. Stewart saw his object; he was contemplating an exit from the carriage at the next station, and as they were nearing it, he resolved to strike conviction home to the wretched schemer. The clue was given by Lambert who inquired, “Indeed, this was a complex affair—who was the rascal that was brother to Judas in this villainy?”

“He was, by position, a gentleman, resident in Suffolk,” replied Stewart, “but as arrant a knave as any that have ever worn a felon's chain. But for that man, Judd would never have been the man he was.”

“Why was he not arrested?”

“Because it was not known until lately. But David Argyle, as well as myself, knows perfectly well that this Long—that is his name—was a participator in the events which led to the murder at Leyton.”

“I deny that,” said Long, now speaking almost in spite of himself. “I happen to know this Mr. Long, and can say he had nothing to do with it.”

“Indeed!” replied Stewart, “excuse me in saying that you are misinformed; I had this from the convict Judd himself, and it has been witnessed before competent persons, who may perhaps be induced to deal with it.”

“What did he say?”

“That a certain Mr. Septimus Long, whose name, by-the-bye, sir, I saw in the book which you have been reading—”

“It is not mine, sir; it is Mr. Long's book. I do not deny that I know him.”

“There can be no difficulty about this,” replied Stewart, hastily. “I see you, and you see me; I think that we should know one another again if we should ever meet. If I should take the trouble to call upon Mr. Long to answer a few questions, there could be no mistake about his identity, for I understand he has lived in Suffolk some years.”

“I am to understand then, sir, that you intended your conversation about this desperate criminal for my especial edification?”

“As you please, Mr. Long,” replied Stewart, “for I have little doubt that you are the man, unless you have borrowed Mr. Long's valise also.”

The climax was reached, and the rage of the detected man was great. He cast off all reserve, saying:

“I am Mr. Long, and be it known that Mr. Long defies any attempt which you can make to do him harm. If you will give me your card, sir, all further proceedings shall be through my solicitor.”

“With all my heart, Mr. Septimus Long; and then we can talk about the hundred pounds, and the acres of land, and the forty pounds which Judd promised to pay to a certain person.”

“Do you mean to charge me with this?” said Long, now boiling over with rage.

“I charge no one. Facts, stubborn facts, bear witness to certain ugly things. I say nothing more than these facts substantiate.”

“And may you and your facts be cursed together, that is my answer Mr. Meddler,” said Long, opening the carriage door as the train stopped at the Hartley Row station. “I am glad that my journey ends here.”

“Not here, Mr. Long,” replied Stewart. “Your journey does not end here.”

“What do you mean?” said Long, turning very pale.

“Your journey may end by your train running off the track suddenly, and then where will you be? Repent, man, and make restitution. They are dead to whom it might righteously be made.”

“That is my business, Mr. Stewart; but—”

The train started as he was speaking, and the words were not heard; but as Stewart looked back he saw Long standing in the same place, gazing along the road over which they were hastening towards London.

CHAPTER LI.—OUT OF THE FRYING-PAN INTO THE FIRE.

In a very excellent inn near Odiham were three bronzed-face men, about whom it will not be necessary to make any mystery, seeing that they are Mr. Sinclair and Brown, late overseer of Burnham Beeches, but now of Brisbane, and a son of the latter.

It was during a residence in Mr. Samuel Brown's house, near Brisbane that the visit to England was projected, for medical advice urged upon Mr. Sinclair the necessity of travelling, and the suggestion was very congenial to the desires of both. In the discussion which ensued, the travelling fever took possession of Mr. Brown, and increased to such an extent that he resolved to accompany his old friend, and, being assured that such a journey would be as good as an education to his son, he resolved to take him also. Thus it was that they reached their native country after an absence of many years.

The voyage greatly benefited Mr. Sinclair, but on the contrary sadly prostrated the naturally weak constitution of his daughter. On arriving at Southampton, he therefore procured for her a temporary resting place in a boarding school. She readily assented to this plan, as her father intended to travel very much, and she knew that she was unequal to much fatigue. So, after spending a few days in Southampton, Mr. Sinclair and his two friends started for London, with the intention of calling, on their way, on the Rev. Mr. Coles, who was living as the curate of a small parish near Odiham. How near friends are to each other sometimes without knowing it. Certainly Mr. Stewart had no particular reason to regard Mr. Sinclair as his friend, but had he known what had occurred since he left Australia, and what were the intentions of Mr. Sinclair towards his wife, he would have taken some trouble to seek him out. On the other hand, had Messrs. Sinclair and Brown known that at the time they were starting from Southampton, the body of Mrs. Judd was being committed to the ground, “earth to earth, dust to dust, ashes to ashes,” they would have delayed their journey in order to be present at this solemn service. As it was, they reached Odiham about four hours before Mr. Septimus Long.

The latter individual having discussed the merits of a cup of tea in the bar parlor, in which very agreeable duty he seemed to have forgotten the unpleasant rencontre which led him to this quiet town, forthwith inquired for the coffee-room. In this room the three Australian travellers were seated round a table, which bore abundant evidence that business of some kind was being considered.

“I beg pardon, gentlemen,” said Mr. Long, “I did not know that the room was occupied.”

“Oh! never mind,” replied Mr. Sinclair, “you won't disturb us.”

“Not if I smoke a cigar either, perhaps?”

“Bless your heart, smoke a hundred if you like, we are tolerably well tanned with smoke, eh, Brown?”

“Rather so, or 'twould be a caution.”

“Ah! I see. Australian? No offence I hope.”

“Offence? Offence to be called an Australian? I should think not, why we glory in it. 'Tis the land of the brave and the free. Offence? No fear!”

“Nay, we can't give up that song, sir, that is pure English,” said Mr. Long.

“I don't know your name, sir, but I can tell you if that sentiment, or song, or whatever you please to call it, is pure English, Australian freedom beats English liberty hollow.”

“Right, neighbor Sinclair, one scorns to want more room to breathe here. Few people I think could live in this country after being long in Australia.”

“Perhaps so; but English manners and customs are so refined,” said Mr. Long.

“Not a bit more than ours, sir, only we have a knack of being a little more honest than some people. We don't forget to speak our thoughts right out, and we generally reckon up people tolerably correct—my word we do.”

“Indeed, Mr. Sinclair—for I perceive such is your name—I would not be offended now if you tried your skill upon me. I should like to be convinced of your boasted power.”

“Would you now? 'Tis rather an unusual thing to do, but if you will write your name on this piece of paper I will tell you something about yourself, I fancy.”

“Very unusual indeed, but I have heard about your wonderful acuteness as a people, and, by the way, I had a practical example of it this evening as I came from Southampton.”

“My word,” said Brown, “how was that?”

“Why, I met with an individual in the train who had been in Australia for some years, he was particularly uncivil. There is my name; I expect you will judge me by the handwriting dodge.”

“Humph! 'James Stewart,'“ said Mr. Sinclair, opening his eyes very wide. “Brown, look, nicely written, isn't it? Do you know the kind of chap you met in the train; was he tall or short, stout or thin?—the color of his hair even may be important. I suppose, Mr. James Stewart, you have heard that in our country we are clever also at tracking?”

“Yes; but what is that to our discussion?”

“Oh, nothing particular, eh Brown? Your son there could tell us a tale or two now, couldn't he? just to amuse us.”

“A few, I think, Mr. Sinclair, my word!”

“But you could not track in this country?'' said Mr. Long.

“Humph! That depends upon circumstances. You have asked me to try my skill upon you, here's a venture. I believe this lad could track you anywhere.”

“Why me in particular?”

“Because you have given us a wrong name.”

“How do you know, sir?”

“By your hesitation, by your trying to disguise your handwriting, by your trembling as if your were committing a forgery, and finally because you have attempted to throw us off a true scent; you travelled with a Mr. James Stewart this evening, and you have assumed his name.”

“Indeed!” said Long, with a contemptuous look.

“Yes, sir, indeed. Australians open their eyes very wide. Mr. Brown, we had better gather up our papers and have a smoke, and then to bed.”

“Oh! pray don't let me disturb you, gentlemen, I am going to my own room, and will leave you to yourselves. I wish you good evening.”

“The same to you. Don't be offended with us, I told you we were a very candid sort of people.”

“So it seems, Mr. Sinclair; you have given me a practical illustration of it.”

He left the room as he spoke, muttering to himself, “Australia, indeed! I should like to transport the whole race.”

That night a portmanteau was taken out of Mr. Sinclair's room and a small writing-case was extracted from it; the writing-case contained some unimportant papers and a twenty pound note. The portmanteau was found in Mr. Brown's room.

“Fortunate,” said Mr. Sinclair, the next morning when the theft was discovered, “I knew that follow was a rogue by his eyes. It was sharp of us though, to put the thousand pounds in your bag, Brown, and the marked note in the writing-case.”

Chapter LII.—A RE-UNION IN LONDON.

Mr. and Mrs. Mogara had left the Stewart family, and lived a sociable, easy kind of life; they were happy and were making money, having opened a superior kind of boarding-house for Indian and Australian gentlemen. With his advancement in external matters, Mr. Mogara assumed the habits and character of the landlord with great credit to himself. He dressed well, was scrupulously attentive to his personal appearance, and had laid in a stock of many important and profitable additions to his educational abilities. He could read and write well, he studied the politics of the day, was most assiduous in planning things to please and interest his customers. In a word he was a thorough landlord.

Mr. Billy was superb when relating his foreign experience. He would keep an audience wrapt in astonishment over some of his exploits. He was narrating the circumstances attending the death of Mogara one day to a group of Sydney gentlemen, who had been discussing the probable origin of their landlord's name. None of them could solve the problem, so he was called in to take a glass, the orthodox way of bringing a landlord out, but he would only sip the wine: “He was quite sure gentlemen would pardon him; he was obliged to be careful of himself, lest his customers should want anyting.”

“Quite right, landlord,” said one, “but you will not object to give us a yarn.”

“No, no, gentlemen, tat is anoder ting. What were you talking about, if I may be so bold as to ask?”

“It was about your name, Mr. Mogara; we could not explain what it meant, although most of us are tolerably well up in Australian lingo.”

“It means tunder, gentlemen, my name means tunder.”

“Thunder! What tribe does that come from?”

“Mogara tribe, gentlemen, the tunder woman.”

Of course the mystery was only increased by this explanation, so Mr. Billy had to go through his graphic narration of poor Isabel's life and tragical end. He was describing the corroboree when the door opened, and, introduced by Mrs. Mogara, there entered, to the intense astonishment of her husband, Mr. Sinclair and his two friends. “Talk of de devil, gentlemen, and lo! he do appear. Mr. Sinclair, Mr. Brown, and Mr. Brown, junior, I do not call you de devil, of course not, but de great proverb come in my mind as I see you. Excuse me, gentlemen, tese gentlemen tey come from the very place, and tis gentleman he shoot te very black who kill Missee Isabel, tat is, te tunder woman.”

Australians are soon introduced to one and other. Colonialism—a coined word, but not to be despised, for it will be a dictionary word ere long—colonialism is instantly recognised, and the character is perceived as readily. There was a general fraternising therefore, and many a joke rang merrily round the table. Of course many compliments were also exchanged, and the new comers, announcing their intention to remain at Mr. Mogara's establishment for two or three weeks, soon after left to call on Mr. Stewart.

Mr. and Mrs. Stewart were at lunch, they called it dinner, but it was the fashion to style the meal a lunch, and so they nominally agreed to have no dinner except upon special occasions, when courtesy to their guests obligated the necessity of making themselves uncomfortable in order to appear fashionable. These occasions were few and far between. The family was of the quiet sort, respectable, very so, but sensible to a high degree, that is, they lived naturally, not artificially.

Rat-a-tat, tat, and a ring. “Visitors, Julia, that is a certainty.”

In a few moments the servant entered the room to announce that a Mr. Sinclair and two gentlemen with him were in the library, and desired to speak with Mr. Stewart.

“What shall we do, Julia, shall we ask them up here?”

“If you please, James; perhaps it will be best.”

“We are at it you see, Mr. Sinclair,” said Mr. Stewart, as that gentleman entered the dining-room; “how are you all? It seems an age since we saw you, in fact I never expected to see you again.”

“Did you not? Well, before I do anything else, allow me, like an old good-for-nothing sinner as I am, to place in your hands, my dear madam, a thousand pounds. There, Stewart, now my conscience is clear, I can't say it has been so easy for the last five years and more.”

Mrs. Stewart took the packet, which was an envelope sealed and directed to her, and replied, “A thousand pounds, Mr. Sinclair, what does it mean?”

“Why, madam, I sold your late father's right to the station, you know where, and it fetched over and above the mortgage, about nine hundred pounds. I was mean enough and wicked enough to be tempted to keep it, but God showed me my error. You know my good wife has gone from me, I suppose? She gave me no peace while she lived about this money.”

“Yes,” replied Mr. Stewart, “I heard of your loss, and we sincerely sympathise with you.”

“But where is Mary, Mr. Sinclair?”

“At Southampton, madam; she is weakly still, and I thought it best to allow her to have all the rest she could get. I am about to travel for a few months.”

“Why not leave her with me?”

“I would most gladly, Mrs. Stewart, but I was ashamed of my name being allied to your's. There, let that drop, I am an old rascal for falling away as I did. God helping me, it is over now. My word, the past is a caution.”

“But you will let her come and stay a few weeks with us?” said Mrs. Stewart.

“Certainly, madam, I shall be very glad. Now, Mr. Stewart, just give me a little scrap of paper with a few up and down strokes to say you have received that little envelope full of paper, and let us cut off all the past and forget it. You consent?”

“Certainly, Mr. Sinclair.”

“Bravo! Now, Brown, I have cut the painter, we'll steer on plain, quiet water in future; go ahead, old fellow, and have your say.”

“My say? You have forgotten how near you were losing that little bit of money the other day.”

“So I did, Brown. Tell the tale, there's a good fellow. You can do it to a tittle.”

“What was it, friend Brown?”

“Now, that's what I call sociable, Muster Stewart. I likes that there expression better nor all the squires and dukes and them other big words that you hear in England. Yes, far better. If a man called me a duke I shouldn't know how to answer him. Call me simple Sam Brown and I am at home without any farther nonsense.”

“Australian, friend Brown—Australian still, I see.”

“Yes, Muster Stewart, and always means to be. But, howsomdever, about this little curious piece of business. We was at Odiham, or some such place. Well, Muster Stewart, as we was sittin' comfortable at the inn, reckonin' up some figures, there comes in a cove who called hisself James Stewart?”

“Called himself James Stewart?”

“Yes; and said he had comed up from Southampton with a Australian chap. 'James Stewart,' thinks I, 'that's a rum go; your name isn't James Stewart,' and then he cut his lucky after having been taught a thing or two by our friend there. He did lecture him. 'Twas a caution, or I'm a blessed nigger, that's all. But the best of it is to come. I had some money on the table, and I saw that he was eyeing it. I had my weather eye open. How I should have liked to have taught him a little bit of colonial experience. Salt beef and damper would not suit him, I think.”

“Hardly, from what I saw of him.”

“From what you saw of him? Lor' bless my soul, how I forget things now. You made his acquaintance in the train, didn't you? To be sure ye did. But now, to make an end of my yarn, I laid a trap for that fellow, and if he hasn't fallen into it, my name isn't Sinclair.”

“What was the snare? I warrant it was something cleverly done.”

“A compliment, I know,” replied Mr. Sinclair. “Make it short we say sometimes, and I will draw it easy. Between Brown and I we managed to make a great show of packing up those notes and putting them in my writing case, which we then very fussily stored away in the portmanteau, locking it up and strapping it round as if it was a banker's parcel. Lor' bless you, Stewart, that case only contained twenty notes—all the rest was in Brown's pocket. Well, that chap stole the money in the night!”

“The man is a good-for-nothing rogue, Sinclair. I believe he was the ruin of poor Judd. Judd besought me not to let him escape if there was a chance of punishing him, and I promised him I would not. It seems that he has run his head into a noose at last. I have no doubt he is the same man.”

“Hurrah!” shouted Brown. “My word!”

“I called on my solicitor immediately after I returned to town, and he told me that he feared nothing could be done.”

“Did you now? And what may the name of your solicitor be?”

“Boodle.”

“Of Lincoln's Inn Fields?”

“The same.”

“The very place where I went to, Mr. Stewart. I had some lawyer's business which required attention, and somehow I fancied I heard Argyle, your partner, tell about a man whom he called his lawyer; I thought he called him 'Noodle.' That is such a common word with us, you know, Mr. Stewart, that I wasn't likely to forget it. But we couldn't find Lawyer Noodle.”

“I should think not,” said Stewart, laughing heartily, “though I fancy there are a great number who deserve the name.”

“So, Mr. Stewart, somebody said, 'Perhaps it is Boodle that you want.' 'Perhaps it is,' says I. 'Where does he live?' They told me and I went, and the first thing I said to him was this: 'Were you young Davie Argyle's lawyer?' 'Young Davie Argyle?' said he, eyeing me very close. 'Yes,' says I; 'him who was transported,' for you know that I learnt all about that affair from his own lips. 'Yes,' he says, 'I was; but what of that?' So I up and told him my business, and he was kind enough to take it in hand; then I began to tell him about the robbery. I saw him take it down, so I says, 'No job here, Mr. Boodle' 'Oh no,' says he; 'I want this for another purpose.' Then he told me that he knew you, and where you lived, and I wrote to say I was coming to see you.”

“And I have just received a letter about this very thing I have no doubt. Mr. Boodle wants to see me,” said Stewart.

“Does he, now? Well, if Mr. Boodle can only find out that fellow, I will give the money to widow Judd's daughter.”

“She is married, and doing well,” replied Stewart. “Did you not hear that Argyle left all his money to her?”

“Argyle left—What do you mean? Surely he is not dead?”

“He is, and buried, three years and more.”

“My word, death has been busy.”

“He has indeed; but we must all go the same way.”

“Yes, yes, Mr. Stewart; I begin to see you were right in telling me how I ought to be prepared. My poor dear wife died most happily. But I see we have sent your wife away, and as our business is done we may as well go too. What say you, neighbor Brown, shall we be making tracks?” And so the friends parted.

Chapter LIII.—ONLY TWENTY POUNDS!

Let us follow Septimus Long to Basingstoke and thence back to Southampton by the first train in the morning. How he chuckled to himself that he had doubled on those Australian snobs, as he termed his coffee-room censors of the past evening.

But what did Mr. Long want at Southampton again? Let us follow him. Leaving the terminus, he slowly walked along the beach towards the platform, where the brass gun, given by Henry the Eighth I think, still mounts guard over the port. Here he stopped for a few minutes and began to whistle. Then he changed the whistle to a quiet discussion with himself. “The money will be missed before this; a tolerable good haul by the look of it, though I could not count it. Of course they will be after me; they said they could track me anywhere. Let them try it. No doubt they will—what will they get? Ten o'clock. I don't think I'll wait, but cross over at once to Cracknore Hard. Here, boatman, I want to go over yonder—what is your fare?”

“The same as ye paid Kimberley, your honor.”

“What do you mean; I don't know Kimberley.”

“But I knows you, sir. You needn't be afeared of I, sir; I knows all your coves. I wishes I was wi' 'em. Boatmen's wages is poor livin', master.”

“You may be honest enough for all I know, but you must not talk to me about such things. You may see me again, perhaps.”

“As soon as you pleases, your honor; I'se no 'jection to a job anywhen.”

“But you must not think that I know anything about old Kimberley's doings,” said Long, “though I know a little about the old fellow himself.”

“Bless yer heart, sir, I know'd all about he years ago, and old Baker too. When I wor a boy 'twas a glorious time. I fancy 'tis poor hauls they gets now. I used to be lookout boy up the Fawley River.”

“Indeed!” replied Long. “What is your name? I'll speak to old Kimberley, and if—”

“Not to old Kimberley, sir. No, no—that won't do; he's got old and tichy, and I don't belave he's to be 'pended on eyther.”

“Not to be depended on?” said Long, hastily.

“No; he's taken to chapel-going lately o'er at Hythe, and I fancies like he looks kind ascrew about these ere sort of things. Maybe 'tis only fancy; but he's mighty different from what he was.”

“You don't mean it?”

“I do, sir; and if you has a got onything in his way I thinks as how I should got oot of his hands.”

“By George, this is something to be seen to!” said Long. “But come, let us be moving. I must go this once, at all events.”

Cracknore Hard is a small inn with some fishermen's cottages adjacent to it. It lies on the opposite side of the Southampton water, and is well known as a convenient landing-place for many residents in the New Forest who regularly attend Southampton market. Not fifty miles from this place there lived a man whom everybody said was an old smuggler, but whom nobody could directly charge with such an offence. It will be best, however, not to dwell on other people's opinions, but to state plainly what he was. It will be recollected that one night a party of smugglers visited Judd for the purpose of enlisting him in a more open companionship in smuggling pursuits than he had previously consented to take. He had been a useful comrade, but in secret. Through him the valuable aid of Septimus Long was obtained and many a bale of valuable goods was lodged in his possession when it was inconvenient to dispose of it. To facilitate such proceedings he opened a store in the town of Southampton called a drysalter's store, one of the smugglers being clerk in charge. It was furnished with numberless cases, bottles, and packages duly labelled, about half a dozen of which were filled with genuine goods, but the rest were dummies.

Here was stored many a bale of goods upon which no duty was paid. They were brought over from the other side of Southampton water, from Itchen, Fawley, and various parts of the river in sundry packages, and somehow they found their way to this place, from whence they were dispatched to all parts of the kingdom, professedly as drysalter's goods.

The gang of smugglers was extensive; but only a choice few were actual comrades, as they were termed, the rest were outsiders.

But the business collapsed very suddenly. Five years after Judd's departure for Australia there was a very successful haul—some hundreds of pounds were divided. Septimus Long visited Southampton, and received a good share in the best venture he had yet made, for he had advanced money upon this trading, and at this audit he not only received back the principal but cent. per cent. as interest. The clerk in the store also received his share, and with a portion of it he got so drunk that he said things he did not intend to say, and he was politely requested by some gentlemen with gold lace round their caps to open the door in Her Majesty's name. This being done, those gentlemen walked in, and forthwith found the true character of the place. No contraband goods were found, but the affair was soon noised abroad, and indignant tradesmen flocked in to find the assets, sawdust and bricks, while the liabilities were something more than they cared to lose.

This unfortunate event altered the entire character of Messrs. Long and Company's trading. It was unanimously agreed that it was no longer safe to continue their ventures in this part, and consequently the scene of operations was removed to Aldborough, Suffolk. The Crimean war, however, intervened, and many of the gang engaged as sailors, and finally the whole company was dispersed, with the exception of an old man named Baker, the boatman Kimberley, and three middle-aged men, one of whom kept a small shop in Southampton; another who rejoiced in the title of landlord of the Sceptre and Compasses, somewhere near the village of Itchen; and a third, who was anything to anybody, no matter whom.

Baker, it has been stated, lived in a little hut not fifty miles from Cracknore Hard, and it was to seek him that Mr. Long crossed the Southampton water. He was no longer connected with the above men in their free-trading operations, nor did they do much in that way. Mr. Long, however, had known Baker a long time, and found his agency to be profitable when he wanted to do a little piece of dirty work. The respectable gentleman and magistrate was poor now; vice, crime, and sensualism had brought forth their sure fruit. Silence was only to be bought with heavy sums; then losses multiplied upon him in other ways; disputes with neighbors involved him in litigation with heavy expenses and damages; he drank heavily, and to this vice he added yet another—he was a gambler. Property was mortgaged, then lost; but, infatuated to the destruction of all self-respect, he plunged deeper and deeper into the mire, so that on the evening when he met Mr. Stewart in the train he was exactly in the same position in which Judd was years before, when in desperation he was forced to do something or perish. He had forged a bill for sixty pounds, which he had paid away for interest due upon the mortgage of his last remaining property, and in a few days the bill would be due.

“'Tis a providence,” said he to himself, as he entered the room where Mr. Sinclair and his two friends were sitting and feasted his eyes on the new crisp Bank of England notes which lay on the table. Could he only lay hold of one of them. A hundred pounds seemed to be staring at him with its round figures. If it had been a demon it could not have aroused his cupidity more than it did. In an instant he resolved to venture upon a challenge to play a game of chance, and at cards he was unrivalled. But the conversation took an altogether unexpected turn, and the character of the Australians checkmated him, However, he made another desperate venture, and fully believed that he had succeeded in hauling a good prize. Almost any other rogue would have satisfied himself about the contents of the case as soon as possible, but this clumsy rogue did not venture to open his prize until he was in old Baker's hut. It is very true that frequently the worst planned schemes are the least likely to be detected, whilst elaborate frauds are found out at once.

“I am come to stay with you,” said Long to the old smuggler, “for two or three days. I've got a job for you, old fellow.”

Baker did not like the man; so eyeing him very suspiciously, in a sneering kind of voice he replied:

“Stay wi' me. I doant know as how yer can. The perleece a bin hyer.”

“The police?” replied Long, with evident alarm.

“E'es; the perleece. Didn't yer hear what I sayed?”

“Yes; I heard. But what did they come for?”

“What vor! If that arn't nate now, as if yer didn't know. Who should if yer doant? Tell me that.”

“How should I know?”

“How should yer know? Are yer so very grane as not to know that yer are one of them kids that the perleece 'oold precious well loike to ketch? But, 'oomsomdever, that's neythur here nor there; yer cum for summut, I's sure. What is't? I see't inside yer shurt.”

He had not seen it himself, but anyone else could have seen that he carried something like a book between his body and his shirt.

“Confound the thing,” said Long.

“Not arf strong enuf, mate; I shoold a cussed the thing if it meant mischoif.”

“It does mean something, Baker, about which I want your assistance. Do you remember once you took over yonder a fifty-pounder which I didn't care to change here?”

Baker nodded, and made his eyes smile.

“I want you,” continued Long, “to do the same now, only the amount is larger.”

“Lorger! How lorge?”

“Perhaps two hundred, or maybe more.”

“P'raps. If it are yer own yer woold na say praps an' maybe. Now, mon, let's a na bating 'bout. What is th' amount? Say wi'out openin' that there thing. If it's beyond my power I doant care 'bout knowin', d'ye see?”

“I know what you mean, Baker,” replied Long; “but I must look to see how much I have.”

He began to break open the case as he spoke. “How mooch yer hauled? I see; 'tisn't yourn then, that's sartain. P'raps, and maybe, and how mooch—no, 'tisn't yourn. Clear as night wi' no moon on't.”

“But, Baker—”

“But, Master Long. Ar'nt my head worth as mooch as yourn. I can tell yer old Kimberley smells bad jist now; he's taken to sing rapentance.”

“So I heard.”

“So yer heard? Why, may pardeeshun saze yer limbs, mon; where did yer hear that? I tho'ot na one know'd that but I.”

“Then I can tell you the man who brought me over knows it.”

“Strikehard? Oh, he's richt enuf.”

“He wants you to give him a job, Baker.”

“That I niver will. The perleece; the perleece!”

“Where? For God's sake, where, Baker?”

“I hit the nail richt, yer see, again. Long, Long, yer'll niver do for this work. Come, let's to bisness. Where's them notes?”

Long felt greatly inclined to move no further in the matter, but, he know also the desperate character of the old smuggler. He saw with evident alarm the impatience with which Baker was looking at the writing case; in addition to which he was totally unarmed, while the smuggler had his knife and a revolver. Hesitation he felt was useless, so he burst open the case, and, lo! twenty pounds!

The look of dismay which instantly appeared upon his countenance would have amused a far more reckless man than Baker. Long was pale as death; he trembled violently; his tongue seemed paralysed; his lips were sealed; and mechanically he allowed Baker to take the note out of his hand without making the least effort to retain it.

“Bank o' England. Twenty! Where's the rist?”

The wretched man was aroused by this question. He began to search the case, but so nervously that Baker took this also out of his hands, and proceeded to turn out the contents. There was nothing but some odd papers in it, and a card.

“What's this?” said the smuggler. “No hurry, Master Long—no hurry. Yer needn't snatch at it, and open your tatur trap so wide; a card arn't notes.”

“Give it to me,” said Long, now violently agitated.

“What vor, mate? It's no kind o' use to yer.”

“Will you give me back my property, or—”

“Shall yer make me? 'Pon my honor, a very pretty question. Suppose I say no—what thin?”

“What then! I will make you.”

“Try it on, mon. War, war; go it, my booty! Twenty punds and a card. Card's the stakes; what's the name on't? 'Sinclair;' he's umpire. Bank o' England and Sinclair 'gainst Long.”

The old smuggler had risen, and put the table between himself and his victim, as he said these words. Long also rose, and made a desperate plunge to snatch the case out of Baker's hand; but the old smuggler was more than a match for him. Throwing the case behind him, and hastily putting the note and card into his pocket, he closed with Long, in a few minutes threw him heavily on the ground, kicked him while lying there on the side of his head, and, without waiting to see what was the issue, he hurried away. In an hour he was in Southampton, from which place he sailed that evening for Havre de Grace.

The schemer was outwitted for the time, and, with stiffened limbs managed to get back to his own home.

Chapter LIV.—CHECKMATED AT LAST.

Sam Brown had a particular desire to know what the people, amongst whom Mr. Long lived, thought of him. But he had another object also in visiting the county of Suffolk, that of finding out a sergeant of police who, he had heard, was stationed somewhere near Ipswich. It was market day, and the square in the midst of the town was filled with a vast concourse of people; but, better than all, the same circumstance had brought into town the very man whom they wished to see. The two Australians were standing at the corner of the White Horse Hotel—so famous in Pickwick adventures—and were looking down the street which leads to the celebrated iron foundry and agricultural implement works of Messrs. Ransome and Sims, when Sergeant Brodie came out of the hotel. Brown knew him in a moment, but life in Australia had made a great alteration in the overseer, and it needed some explanations ere the sergeant could understand who was speaking to him. But when he recognised him, the congratulation was returned with much joy at meeting his old school fellow again.

“I am stationed a few miles from here,” said he to Brown, “and shall be starting for home in an hour or two, the coach leaves about the same time. Come down and spend a few days old fellow.”

The invitation was gladly accepted, and the evening which followed was about as agreeable a meeting of old comrades as ever was experienced. Australians when in the old land have a world of wonders to unfold, and both father and son were as full of anecdote and adventure as their host expected and wished them to be. On the other hand they learnt much about Septimus Long, but so little that reflected any credit to him, that Brown ventured to inform the sergeant about the robbery. The latter listened with attention to the opinions of his guest, which, it is almost unnecessary to add, were very voluminous and interspersed with many well known Australian expressions. Then he informed Brown that Long had been turned out of the magistracy on account of some suspicious circumstances which occurred at Aldborough amongst some smugglers. “Since then,” said he, “he has been going to the bad very fast. I am expecting to hear something worse now.”

So the friends parted for the night, and the Browns slept as sound as a top. Not so rested a poor miserable wretch who passed by the sergeant's house on his way home shortly after midnight. He glanced at the house and shivered, but the air was bitingly cold, and he might not have been very well, but a little farther on was the bank, and he looked harder at that building. The silence of death was all around him, and not a sound came forth from that repository of cash to cause him uneasiness, yet he shivered again, this time the teeth chattered as an accompaniment. But he passed on and soon he came to a road which branched off from the main road. Here he stopped and listened. Not a sound was to be heard, but yet he listened still, peering into the darkness around him as if he was looking for something. At last he muttered, “both dead now,” and onward he strode.

Morning dawned us usual, and banks as well as shops and offices opened their doors. A good-looking man who was well known in Leyton passed up the street shortly after 10 o'clock, humming a well known popular air. “Nothing in that, no, nothing.” But after awhile he entered the bank, and after a pleasant chat with the cashier, he handed in some cheques and notes to be passed to his account, and with them a long piece of white paper with a stamp attached to it. The cheques and notes were readily counted and noted down: “What could be the matter with the man?”

So the customer said to himself as the cashier turned over the bill of exchange, scanning it so closely and with such compressed lips as if torture should not make him say what he thought about it. Then he took it to an inner office, to which sanctorum the customer was presently politely invited. Then appeared upon the scene, in pursuance of an invitation which was taken to him by the porter of the bank, a man whom said porter called a bobby, but whom the townspeople generally accosted as Sergeant Brodie. He also vanished into the sanctorum, from which he emerged after a while, in company with the aforesaid customer of the bank, and they too adjourned to the Town Clerk's office, to have a little chat with that official. Sergeant Brodie went home from thence, looking very straight before him, and on getting indoors he shut the door, and, accosting his friend Brown, he ventured a strong opinion, accompanying it with a rousing slap on the younger Brown's back, that “Septimus had done it now.”

“What do you mean?” said Sam Brown.

“I mean this—if you are inclined for some fun, I think I can show you some. A bit of lunch and off we go. Do yo mind a camp out, Brown?”

“Camp out, Brodie! My word, you don't know much about that sort of thing in this part of the world.”

“No, but we may have to do it to-night perhaps.”

“With all my heart—especially if it is to bail up this rascal.”

“Don't talk too loud. Perhaps it is.”

“My word,” said Brown, junior, “I'd give a trifle to have a hand in that.”

“So ye shall, my lad.”

In about an hour they started, and by 2 o'clock reached a small public house, where they agreed to rest for an hour or two. Bonsal, the residence of the gentleman they wanted, was about a mile from this place. The first step the sergeant took was to send a boy up to the house to say that a gentleman wished to see him at the Spotted Dog. “If he takes the bait,” said he, “it will save a deal of trouble.”

In half an hour the messenger returned with this answer: “Mr. Long is busy, but he will be down in an hour or two.”

“Not he,” said the sergeant. “Now come on.” It was dusk by this time, so they made a complete circuit round the house, which the sergeant knew well, and in about half on hour they halted on the other side of a small inlet of the sea which they crossed by means of a bridge.

“He is at home,” said the sergeant, after a few minutes' inspection of the place. “Stay here for a while, while I steal up a little closer.”

So saying he disappeared in the darkness, but the Browns could just distinguish his form as he crept along the side of a hedge. It came on to rain soon after, and the darkness sensibly increased. The night threatened every moment to be more and more unfit for lodgers without shelter. But the sergeant at last returned, and with satisfactory news.

“He is at home,” said he. “I wish that I had gone myself, instead of sending the boy; but it can't be helped now. I got up to the house, I think undiscovered, although that brute of a dog of his was ready to break his chain. Once the servant came out, and told him to lie down. But he saw or smelt me, and would not be quieted, so my gentleman opened a window and peeped out, speaking to the dog at the same time. I saw him, but there was no getting near him without passing the dog. Presently down went the window, and as sharp as these legs could carry me over the lawn I ran; I wanted to get close to the window of the room where I believed he was sitting. Nor was I wrong. There he sat in his easy chair, looking eagerly into the fire. His great boots were on the hearth rug, and his coats hung over a chair. A life preserver lay on the table; and unless I am mistaken he will be moving soon. You may ask why I don't go boldly to the house. I know my customer too well.”

“Some such thoughts crossed my mind,” said Sam Brown.

“He'd shoot himself or me if he had the chance. He knows there will be an inquiry after him. He has not a rap left of all his property; but he has a daughter at Aldborough, and he won't go without trying to see her. When you see that light put out, follow me, but mind the ditches. I'm right sorry you came, as the night turns out; but I'm glad of your company.”

“Don't mention it,” said Mr. Brown “The air is rather sharper though than we ever feel it.”

“Hist! quiet!” said the sergeant. “The light is out. Come on now.”

He led the way, and they followed close. For some time it was rough travelling, but at length they came to a gate, over which they climbed, and found themselves in a country lane.

“Now, my friends, I must depend a little on you. Mr. Brown, you go ahead, and lay under that tree; you can just see it. If he runs from us, spring out and lay hold of him. Robert, you take the ditch t'other side of the road, and I stay here. Don't stir till you hear something unusual, then—Hist! Here he comes.”

It was Mr. Septimus Long who, knowing full well that his game was up, was on his way to bid farewell to his daughter, as Sergeant Brodie had foretold; but where he was to go after that he had not yet settled. “Into the sea,” said he, as he looked up at his house when he left it that night. “Into the sea, rather than a felon's doom.”

He walked on quickly, looking strait before him, and as he turned into the road which led to Oldborough, the dog which was with him began to growl, and his master stopped. On again—another growl. “What is the matter, Nero? Hi! on, boy; see what it is.” Growl, growl—growing louder and louder.

The man now stopped, and seemed inclined to turn back. The sergeant saw the hesitation in the dim light; he was not three yards from him, and with a shout he made a rush, but missed his man. Back, back he ran for precious life, the three men after him. Now they gained on him, and then he distanced them; but as he reached a narrow lane he made a feint of taking that course, dropped into a ditch, and ere his pursuers came up he crept under a culvert, and was lost.

“Beaten, by Jove!” said the sergeant. “Never mind, better luck next time.”

No, they were not beaten. The dog which Long had brought with him proved his ruin. He found his master, though his pursuers had lost the scent, crouched down in a filthy, muddy drain, from which he was dragged, amidst volumes of bitter curses, which did not appear to affect the sergeant in the least.

“It was a funny chase,” said the sergeant next morning, as they sat at breakfast. “I don't call it cleverly done, mind ye. It was all but a miracle that I did not lose my game. But I should never have got inside the house after that message. Better have gone myself.”

“I had no idea that he would have yielded without a fight, though. I know you would never have taken a bushman so tamely as this man gave in—my word,” said Mr. Brown.

“I had no thought he was such a coward, father.”

“No, nor is he,” replied the sergeant; “but he knows his glass is run. Every dog has his day, and he has had his. No more of his—Sergeant, your're too inquisitive.”

The most assiduous attention was paid to Mr. Long on his way back to Leyton; and when he arrived there, the sergeant actually took the trouble to supply him with board and lodging gratis; in addition to which Mr. Septimus Long was pressingly invited to a familiar interview with one of Her Majesty's most eminent officers, and, having heard about that individual's many extraordinary adventures, the worthy officer told him that, by Her Majesty's will and command, he was to take a voyage, at the end of which he would find a substantial house, and every preparation made to supply him with the closest attention, and board and lodging, for one and twenty years. Mr. Septimus Long did not wish to leave England just then, but the invitation was so pressing that he could not resist it; so he went, and positively found his new employment far beyond his expectations. He had assisted a great many, in his day, on the same way; but when it came to his turn to be so considerately provided for, he did not like it.

All the attention he received, however, was lost upon him; for in about five years he died, and never did he visit his native country again. But it went on very well without him—some said a little better; and one of his brother magistrates was so ungenerous as to say that their greatest torment was gone away for ever. Sic transit gloria mundi; tempora mutantur; veritas vincit; sic passim.

Chapter LV.—“POOR, DEAREE MARY SINCLAIR! AH ME!”

Such were the words with which Mrs. Mogara left the sick girl who had fallen a victim to England's disease—consumption. But when Mrs. Stewart sent to say that she was going with her to Ventnor, she begged permission to accompany them. A little villa was taken near the celebrated pulpit rock at Bonchurch, and, under the influence of the beautiful climate of this pretty Madeira, Mary Sinclair recovered very quickly—so far as to create the hope that the danger was past for a time. She became cheerful; laughed and talked about going back to Australia; began to be busy about various household matters; walked on the sea shore; and even climbed the hill at Bonchurch, no small feat to a strong and healthy person. Her father had so favorable an opinion of her progress that he left her in the charge of Mrs. Stewart, who had arranged to remain until the spring, as her husband had not been well, and the children had been suffering with the usual infantine complaints—whooping cough and measles—and it was thought that a temporary sojourn in this place would be of benefit to all of them.

But a change was at hand. Mary had gone for a walk one evening with her friends, when she suddenly fell, or rather sank on the ground. Before Mr. Stewart could reach her, her mouth filled with blood, which trickled down her neck, and covered her dress with its crimson hue. They bore her home as quickly as possible with the aid of some sailors. Her medical attendant was summoned, but all he said was, “Lose no time in sending for any friends who may wish to see her alive; but, mark, only one or two at the farthest.”

A man on a fleet horse was accordingly dispatched to Bryde, and reached that place just in time to catch the last steamer to Portsmouth, from whence he sent a telegram to London. Fortunately it accomplished all that was desired. Mr. Sinclair was at the hotel, and his friends the Brown's also, and it was arranged that they should go down by the first train in the morning. Mr. and Mrs. Mogara accompanied them, and they reached Ventnor about the middle of the day on Saturday. The dear girl was sensible, and knew them all. With a sigh of relief—there are such sighs and they do relieve—she held out her hand to her father first and then to all. Speech, however, then was out of the question; the least attempt was accompanied with results which were most alarming.

With streaming eyes they watched around that dying bed, and there was something to watch. The life was descending like the sun when he is drawing or bending towards the west. The sky was clouded with patches of bright blue here and there—that is, the pale face was alternately brilliant and glorious with smiles or racked with pain.

“Was there no hope?” inquired Mr. Sinclair.

“No, no, my friend,” said Mrs. Stewart, “at her eventime it shall be light; the departure will be something glorious.”

It seemed to promise well that the prophecy would be fulfilled, for as she spoke the dying girl arose and spoke. The sun was now setting, and the room was filled with a brilliant light, the reflection of which lighted up her pale countenance with the brilliancy of burnished gold.

“Dear Mary,” cried out Mrs. Stewart, “don't exert yourself; the doctor said you were to be quite still.”

“Hush! Mrs. Stewart; hush! please. The music is so sweet, the light is so glorious; the angels are so many; the joy is so great. Hush! I want to listen.”

She paused, and appeared as if she was gazing upon something, listening most intently. Presently, as the last ray of the sun left the room, she spoke again, “They are gone!”

Back, back to heaven they fly,

The joyful news to bear,

Hark! they now soar on high;

Their music fills the air.

“My dearest Mary.”

“Nay, dear father, why do you weep? Dear mother is here, looking at you now. She came to me last night and nestled down by my face, and seemed to kiss me. I tried to touch her, but she would not let me; but she has never gone away. She does not weep, father; she only smiles and points upwards.”

The night thus wore away and Mary slept. The watchers were very weary, but they could not sleep. At 11 o'clock they adjourned to the parlor to take a little refreshment, leaving Mrs. Mogara by the bed-side of the sleeping girl. She watched very faithfully for a while, but soon her eyelids dropped, and gradually she sank upon the pillow in sound sleep. A few moments after the dying girl awoke, and, not perceiving anyone in the room, she got out of bed and walked downstairs, entering the room where her friends were assembled.

“Mogara is dead. Father dear, Mogara is dead.”

Mrs. Stewart screamed out in terror, and Mary actually ran towards her, Mr. Sinclair catching his daughter in his arms, and, with Mr. Stewart, they bore Mary back to her room; but she talked to them so calmly, and said that she felt so well, that they were all but speechless. It was the brilliant flame which preceeds the final darkness, just as a flickering lamp will suddenly blaze up with wondrous brightness. No sooner was she laid in her bed again than she felt that this was the case.

“Father, dearest, I am dying; I feel it now.”

“Don't talk so, my dear.”

“I must, dear father; I must. But who is this?” She put her hand on the black woman, who still slept soundly. “Oh! poor Betty.”

“Yes, dearest; faithful to us, you see. She is tired and dropped off to sleep.”

“I shall be as she is presently, father.”

“How dearest?”

“Asleep—asleep—asleep,” she replied, with a look of most intense meaning; “softly asleep.”

“If you sleep, you will do well, dearest.”

“Yes, I shall do well.”

“Amen!” said Mr. Stewart.

Chapter LVI.—CONCLUSION.

Mr. Sinclair and his friends left England shortly after the funeral of his daughter, and their arrival in Brisbane was celebrated by two weddings, in which Mr. Brown's eldest son and a young lady sustained one part, and Mistress Sally became Mrs. John Bull on the other.

Mr. and Mrs. Stewart are still living in London, and are happy. He is a highly respected director of several excellent societies; wealthy, and very kind and generous to the distressed. There are several children, whose names are as folios of remembrance to recall the events of a life, which in its results frequently called forth from the good man the expression, “What hath God wrought?”

Mr. and Mrs. Lambert are also living in the same place, and business is generally flourishing enough to tax all the energies of the coal merchant, while Mr. and Mrs. Mogara have removed to America, and “Mogara's saloon,” is a more profitable speculation than any of the ventures which Mr. Billy made in England. Shrewd from a lad, as a servant he knew how to ingratiate himself with his employer, and when he passed from that position to be a master he endeavored to act so as to make his servants feel that their interests were bound up in his. Several persons said “it was a pity the family were black, they were a fine lot of boys and girls;” but the father said, “If God Almighty had made tem blue tey would have been blue, but, being black, it was exceedingly probable tat tey would continue to live so, and for himself he could see no such mighty difference. Jeroosalem!” said he; “tat's te place to go to. God never ask tere if we white or black.”

The Rev. Mr. and Mrs. Coles continue to live and labor. It is probable that few will ever in this world hear much of what they have done for the good of others, but visitors constantly registered their good deeds, and some day these will be read by the clearest light, when it will be seen that they lived and labored for Christ's sake.

Captain Oliver is dead. He never altogether recovered the death of Isabel, and, although he lived to the age of threescore, the last of the years become labor and sorrow, and he seemed glad when the end came.

Mr. Sinclair went home to The Vineyard, and became an antiquary, and astronomer, a painter again, and finally a linguist; then he sold off all his property, left Australia, and travelled. The last that was heard about him was that he was in the United States, from whence he purposed to go to Canada, and then make the tour of Europe. Sam Brown is in Brisbane, and is likely to continue there to his death. He has made his pile, and is “a cheerful old dog,” as he says, all the day long. He suffered a little in the commercial panic; but he had a good back, which did not bend much, and the banks knew that no panic could ever break it.

       * * * * *

Thus ends the tale. The incidents are not fabulous, but for the most part founded on realities. In many portions of it the truth is told, that the measure which is meted out by us, whether of good or evil, is almost sure to be returned, and frequently with interest. The history of Mogara is no mere imagination; in fact, much of the highly romantic in the life of the original has been suppressed, it was too wonderful to be credited. Life among the blacks is full of startling incident, although largely mixed up with dull stupid monotony. It must be admitted also that Colonel Tomlinson's character is divested of the cruelty which was practised to so fearful an extent in Moreton Bay that no language would be too strong to condemn it. Judd was not the only convict who escaped by many a score; but some were shot down mercilessly and others were flogged until they succumbed, and then they were dragged to a felon's grave, and the place where they lie will never be known till the last day. It may be objected, in conclusion, that two such marked instances of the innocent suffering in place of the guilty never occurred. An hour or two spent in the society of some who are now living in Australia would soon compel the objectors to confess themselves in error. Criminal jurisprudence in 1837 was something different from the same thing in 1870.

THE END

 
 
 

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