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Title: Broad Arrow
Author: Caroline Leakey
* A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook *
eBook No.: 0606881.txt
Language: English
Date first posted: September 2006
Date most recently updated: September 2006

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Broad Arrow
Being Passages From the History of Maida Gwynnham, a Lifer.
by Caroline Leakey




CHAPTER I. THE FESTIVAL.


'Oh! let the merry bells ring round.'


A JOYFUL clangour is rising from the tower of St. Judas as the cold
grey of the venerable cathedral warms itself in the afternoon sun. Our
city is very gay. Bustle and excitement jostle one another in the
streets. The shops display their rainbow assortments of finery with
more than ordinary taste. Carriages throng the thoroughfare, and from
the carriages fashion and beauty gaze placidly on the crowd making its
way towards the Queen's high-road. Placards announce a ball--and the
newspapers hint that this ball is to be a nonpareil.

It is the festival of the assizes! and the ball the 'Assize Ball'!

The bells from St. Judas are made to outswell the prison bell; and,
amid the hurry of preparation, the clank of the felon's chain passes
unheard through the very midst.

No thinking person objects to pomp and state on all occasions
calculated to impress the mind (especially that of the common people)
with a sense of superior power. But is there not the pomp of the
funeral--funeral pomp? Does not the sight of the plumed hearse fill
the breast with solemnity? Does not the crowd intuitively doff its cap
before it? Do not the voice of laughter and the song of
thoughtlessness involuntarily cease, or drop to softer tones, when the
toll of the death-bell meets the ear?

Would the cause that brings our judges to our cities be less hated by
the youthful heart were it taught to associate more of the funeral and
less of the feast with the onroll of the carriage that bears sorrow,
punishment, death in its rear?

We cannot answer for all children, but we know of one who, when
hurried forward to see 'the judges come in,' shrunk behind the crowd
to ruminate on some mystery, and, unable to fathom it, burst into
tears, exclaiming: 'Why do they let those happy bells ring?--the
prisoners must hear them!'

The day for the ball arrives. You are invited to attend. Your
particular attention is directed to a very elegantly--dressed young
man--Captain Norwell--as elegant in person and deportment as in
attire. He is unanimously voted a fascinating man by the fair sex, and
the king of the evening by the dark. He is surrounded by an admiring
group of both sexes. Many a plotting mother opines that he will make
an excellent husband, and many an anxious father pictures how well his
jewel of a daughter would look in so brilliant a setting; while some
elder brother apostrophises him--that is, Captain Norwell--as a 'lucky
dog,' and lucky dog means a great deal in fashionable phraseology.

'What happy chance brought you to our part of the world at this season
of the year, Captain Norwell--the ball?' The querist is a lady old
enough to have three grown-up daughters.

'No,' replies Norwell; 'but since I was here, I could not resist the
temptation of mixing with such an assemblage of beauty as Rumour said
these walls would witness; and for once I find she has been very
humble in her statements, and disappointment has not followed in her
train.' A gracious bow to the blushing group around him accompanies
this speech.

'You come to attend the assizes, I suppose?'

'Partly; I heard that a very interesting trial was to come on, and
having a little time to spare, I ran down to hear it.'

Several voices ask: 'Oh! to which one do you allude?' Neither
fascinated ladies nor scheming parents observe that a slight shade
passes over Captain Norwell's fine countenance, and a still slighter
tremulousness into his voice, as he replies:

'I speak of that of Martha Grylls.'

'You will put me out of love with dancing if you talk of that woman,'
says an animated girl, whose merry laugh belies her words. 'I shall
fancy I am dancing to the clank of chains, or waltzing to Pestal, if
you talk any more such horrors.'

But the pertinacious mother is not to be stopped. To stop Norwell in
the vicinity of her daughters is the only stoppage she meditates.

'Which was Martha Grylls? Not having the honour of such distinguished
acquaintance, I do not know each prisoner by name.'

A quick, searching glance at the lady, and Norwell answers:

'The young woman indicted for forgery. I--I mean child-murder.'

'Oh! that beautiful woman? One would hardly think so lovely a face
could belong to such a wretch: so calm and innocent, too, she looked.'

'I do not think she did look so very innocent,' interrupts the
animated girl; 'there was a flinty hardihood in her face that quite
prevented me from pitying her, as I should have done had she cried. My
heart was quite steeled against her; I felt no pity.'

'Flint and steel together should produce a spark, or one of the two
could not be genuine,' says Captain Norwell.

'She stood so erect, and eyed the court so proudly, as if she would
say, "Sentence me to death and I will thank you!" Once, though, I did
think she was going to break down. Did you observe Captain Norwell,
about the middle of the trial, how she faltered: and then, when she
turned toward the door, how she started as if she saw something which
renewed her courage? She certainly saw some person or thing, for the
hard look came back to her face. I wonder what or who it was. Perhaps
she saw her father or mother.'

'That would have softened her!' replies a gentle voice, from a pale,
interesting girl, whose diminutive stature has hidden her from
immediate sight.

'Perhaps it was an accomplice then. The change on her countenance was
unmistakable.'

Another in that ballroom had marked the change in the prisoner's
manner as her faltering gaze fell on a certain corner of the court.
Ay--he noticed it, but not to wonder at its cause. To his heart the
change brought at once ease and pain--ease to the diseased part, and
pain to what portion of it remained uncontaminated.

'Such stony hardness,' persisted the young lady.

'There is the stony hardness of despair--a breaking heart may lie
behind a brazen wall,' replies the gentle voice from the corner.

These words are uttered timidly, but with great feeling and the
speaker, raising her eyes to Norwell, fancies that gentleman agrees
with her, for she sees an expression of unutterable anguish
momentarily distort his features.

You have been invited to attend the ball on purpose to hear this
commonplace, out-of-place conversation--as out of place in a ballroom
as a ball is out of time in an assize week.

Fancy how awkward it will look to see in the same gazette, column by
column--

'THE ASSIZES!' 'THE BALL!'

Your presence is again required, but in a very different scene. Where
you are now wanted there will be no festoon of blooming flowers
wreathing a fragrant archway above you: no mimic suns making the
decorated ceiling a lesser firmament of glory; there will be no
radiant faces to greet you with the lustrous smile of excitement, no
sound of music and dancing. There await you a dark, stone archway, and
an iron gate beneath it. There will be the relentless grating of its
hinges, with the heavy sound of ponderous keys; and a coldness in the
aspect of the building you are to enter will communicate itself to
your soul, making you shudder to pass within its dreary portal. You
must follow the guide along that narrow passage, where your footstep
echoes cheerlessly through the dismal corridor. A doubly-locked door
swings itself solemnly back, and there is silence, darkness, despair.

--Pass on.

The heavy sigh that just falls upon your ear, as the lock springs from
its socket, only makes the silence deeper. The gloomy flicker of the
miniature lamp, hanging from the wall, serves only to show you the
darkness. The look of apathy fixed on you by the occupant of the cell
only reminds you that that despair is deepest which gives no outward
sign.

--Pass on.

'Martha Grylls--a gentleman to speak to you.'

The hopeful tone and the earnest glance astonish you, as,
energetically raising her hand to shade her eyes, the prisoner asks:

'Who is he?'

Pain succeeds your astonishment as you hear the utter hopelessness of
the tone with which she continues:

'I don't wish to see him. I'll see no one.'

And the hand before shading her eyes, closes resolutely over them, as
she drops her head, refusing to look at the clergyman, who is the
gentleman announced.

It is Martha Grylls you look upon. You heard of her in the ballroom,
and are prepared to meet her in the felon's cell. Her real name is
Maida Gwynnham; but under the above alias she has been convicted of
child-murder, for which crime the sentence of death was passed upon
her at the assizes; since then, through the clemency of our lady
sovereign, she has been reprieved, and now transportation for life is
all she will have to bear. Listen awhile, and you may find that balls
and prisons are not always unconnected. The clergyman who speak is the
Rev. Herbert Evelyn, not the Chaplain of the gaol. He is admitted at
this late hour by special authority of the powers that be.

'I am your friend, Martha; do not refuse to let me be so.'

'I have no friend; it is all false.'

'Martha, stop--stop and think. No friend?'

'None! none! Though once I madly thought I had.'

There is a tone in Maida's voice which tells Mr. Evelyn he has
unwittingly touched the key-note to some part of her history--he
wonders how to answer her. Then she continues half aloud, with an
absent air:

'Did he send you? then he has not forgotten me!' And her hands
unconsciously clasp and go with a tremble to her breast, as though she
would hide some treasure there.

'No; he did not. One who loves you still better, bids me visit you
with a word of comfort from Himself.'

Maida looks frightened, and with a bewildered air, asks:

'What do you mean? If he did not send, he cannot care for me; and
there is no one else in the world to care for me or think of me!'

Mr. Evelyn goes towards her, and is about to lay his hand on her
shoulder, but she waves him back, and he perceives that the blood has
rushed to her very temples, and that passion quivers on her clenched
lips; he has time only to remark this, ere she bursts forth:

'He never loved me! and now he is trying to win some other fond and
foolish heart to its own destruction.'

She presses her hand to her burning brow, and proceeds:

'Ay! he will break some other heart when mine is sinking far away. He
will tell the same lying tale to some unthinking girl, thoughtless and
wayward as I was; and she will believe him, and he will deceive her,
and she will be left; and fear or pride will drive her from her home,
she will fly to hide her disgrace; she will try to die, but death
hates the wretched. She will steal to give her infant bread; she will
be sent to prison, and thence across the seas; and we shall meet--two
victims to his lies. Ah, how I shall love her!'

She abruptly stops.

'Was he at the ball last night?' not waiting for an answer. 'He was in
the court--I saw him. I was on the point of giving way when our eyes
met--it was enough: that glance was fire to the dying embers--he
understands my eye; he read its promise and seemed satisfied. There
was--but was he at the ball last night? there is always a ball to
commemorate the assizes. Was he?'

Mr. Evelyn answers not.

'Ah, you are surprised; you thought I spoke of a poor man. No--no!
such glories are reserved for the rich; they may sin, and hide their
sin in a golden grave; they may break innocent hearts, and the world
ignore the fact; it is these sins that fill these cells; it is these
sins that will people perdition; and if God sees as man sees--'

But her voice fails, the blood leaves her temples, and faint from
excitement and want of food, she sinks insensible to the earth.

As Mr. Evelyn quits the prison, he sees a gentleman wrapped in a long
loose cloak standing opposite the gateway, and gazing abstractedly at
the grated window; the moonlight falls on his upturned face.

'If that index be true, all is not right within,' thinks Mr. Evelyn.

Captain Norwell saunters down the street. As soon as Mr. Evelyn is out
of sight he returns and rings at the gate.

'Confound it! what a row! I only touched the bell, and here is noise
enough to wake Lucifer on his throne.--Can I see--Maida--I mean Martha
Grylls--'

'No, sir; past hours long ago, even if you'd a permit.'

'I leave to-morrow; cannot I be favoured as well as that gentleman
just gone?'

'Parson, sir. Wonderful, sir, how the ooman 'tracts the gentry. Can't
indeed, sir. Gentry round her like bees--'tracts 'em wonderful.'

'Does she?' Norwell tries to speak unconcernedly. 'She likes that, I
suppose?'

'These creatures generally do, but she don't--she don't, and no
mistake.'

Norwell looks relieved, and it seems the information is worth money to
him, for he drops a crown into the turnkey's hand; that official jerks
his cap in recognition of the palmy touch, but shakes his head at it.

'Can't, sir, indeed; it's as much as my place is worth to try on that
game. If you was a parson now,' and the turnkey eyes him longingly, as
though he would there and then put him into the priest's office for
the sake of the crown; but he can discover no priest-like quality in
Norwell's dress, so reluctantly holds out the money towards him.

'No, no, keep it,' cries Norwell impatiently; 'it's not for that; mind
you gag your bell's mouth before I come again.'

The gate closes after him, and he mutters:

'I've done all I can--I wish she knew it. O Maida, Maida, where will
it end?'



CHAPTER II. MAIDA GWYNNHAM.


MAIDA was the only child of a gentleman possessing a small country
property in Essex. She lost her mother at an early age. She resembled
her in beauty, virtues, and faults. Affectionate, firm, truthful,
ardent and generous on the one hand; haughty, passionate and impulsive
on the other. She quite governed her father, who was not strong-
minded, but kind, generous, and well-educated. He very rarely
controlled her in any thought, word, or deed; no wonder, therefore,
that any change was distasteful to her. But when she was sixteen her
father took her to a first-rate London school, to receive finishing
lessons. With much weeping they separated.

Ay, there may well be weeping! Father, thou art sending a treasure
from thy bosom; will it ever lie there more? The star of thy hope will
set in a fearful eclipse.

Couldst thou look through time's far-seeing telescope, thou wouldst
start at the blackened future before thy child. Thou wouldst see her
noble purpose, her lofty heart, circumvented by a craft triumphant
where strength had failed. We would fain hide from the father the
sights this glass reveals. But you must peep in if you would
understand the history that will follow.

Look; there is Maida, beaming her loveliest. Her eyes are radiant with
joy, as she listens to a gentleman who is talking to her: what he says
you cannot tell; there are those who know; let them tell who have
learnt how to overcome artlessness with art.

Look again.

As a dissolving view the scene has changed, but the figures are the
same. Maida is weeping. Her face depicts great mental agony--his face
just such anxiety as a person would feel on seeing a long-sought
treasure within hand-grasp.

Now a few sentences reach your ear.

'But why should not I tell my father? You are withholding a joy from
him; you cannot know him if you think he would deny me--he never
denied me anything; I must tell him, and he shall give me to you,
Norwell.'

'No, he would not give you up, and you would be more miserable to do
it after he had said nay. If he is so indulgent, he will forgive you.
You shall have a letter written all ready to send directly the
ceremony is over.'

You hear no more; the sound fades away with the view, which dissolves
itself into a moonlight scene. A female in disguise leans on a
gentleman's arm. They hurry by; you trace them to a railway-station;
they enter a first-class carriage. The whistle is loud, shrill enough
to meet your ear; they are whirled off, and the station melts into an
upper chamber. But one figure is there--a female; her black hair flats
over her shoulders--her eyes glisten; you have seen those eyes before;
they glisten, not now with radiant joy; there is a fire in them that
you fancy must scathe the object it shall rest upon. A cup is in her
quivering hand; you glance involuntarily towards a phial on the table;
there is a label on the phial, and on the label there are cross-bones
and a skull; beneath the skull is written, in large black letters,
'Poison.'

Her lips seem to tremble forth a prayer; she dashes the cup from her
with 'I will be no coward; he shall see I can endure life!'

You must supply the blanks in Maida's history; the blanks which these
scenes leave. Happy are you if you cannot do so!

Three years have fled by. The sights that glass revealed as Future
have for twelve months been the Past.

And Maida still lives on!



CHAPTER III. CAPTAIN NORWELL.


AT the door of a humble lodging-house, in a country town, stood a
gentleman in military undress. After a moment's hesitation he
advanced, and ascending the stairs, gently opened the door of a small
third-story room, where he perceived the object of his search--Maida
Gwynnham, still beautiful--proudly beautiful, though in person the
mere shadow of her former self. Captain Norwell soon found that sorrow
had not dimmed the fire of her eye.

No word was spoken on either side. Maida seemed to ponder what course
of reception to adopt; and Norwell, cowed by her haughty, unflinching
stare, tacitly owned her superiority by waiting for her to break the
unpleasant silence.

During this we will take the writer's and reader's privilege of
turning past into present, and glance around the scantily--furnished
apartment. A cradle stands by the chair from which Maida has just
started on seeing Norwell; and in the cradle sleeps a baby. On the
floor, by the cradle, lies a heap of calico; a half-made shirt-sleeve
on the table explains this heap. In the farthest corner of the room is
a loaf lying, as though it had rolled there by mistake, or had been
made a plaything of. The cupboard tells us its own secret, by
displaying, as the only occupant of its hungry shelves, an earthenware
basin of tea-leaves.

'Is this the way you receive me?' at length said the Captain,
perceiving that Maida chose to insist on making him yield. 'Is this
the way you receive me, when I have travelled from London on purpose
to see you?'

'I did not ask you to come.'

'No!' replied Norwell, with a forced laugh. 'No, I know that; my lady
Gwynnham never asks, she only deigns to command. But why is this,
Maida? Why did you not let me know of your distress?'

Maida stretched out her emaciated arm, and shaking her fingers, cried:

'Look at these fingers--the skin just covers them. I have worked them
to the bone in getting a morsel of bread for my child; for him I could
do everything but beg.'

Breaking into a fearful smile, she added in an audible whisper:

'For him I could do everything but beg--for him I could even steal! Do
you see that loaf there, in the corner of the room? My boy was crying
for food, and I had none to give him; the baker's basket lay in a
doorway, and I put out these fingers, worn to the bone' (she shook
them again)--'I put them out and s-t-o-l-e! I rushed upstairs--my
baby's cry was hushed. I could not break the loaf. 'Twas like fire in
my hand when his cry no longer fell like burning sounds on my heart,
so I dashed the cursed thing across the room; and there it shall lie
until those who have lost it come to claim it, and take me.'

'But, Maida, you are rash and proud.'

'I know I am, both.'

'Do hear me. By telling me of your situation you would have avoided
all this misery, and there would have been no begging in it.'

'Had you wished, Henry, to discover my circumstances, you would not
have awaited apprisal from one who hates to complain. Eleven months
would not have elapsed since last I heard of or from you.'

'Don't scold, there's a darling!' said Norwell, in a coaxing tone;
'you love me still, don't you?'

The tear glistened in Maida's eye, and he was answered. Once more her
aching heart was soothed by perjured lips, whose specious words vowed
lasting faith, and her parched spirit drank in the lying tale,
surrendering itself to the cruel refreshment.

'But you are pale, Henry, very pale and haggard.' She gazed anxiously
at him.

'I am not well, Maida; vexations of which you know nothing make my
life a perpetual worry.'

'I should know them, then, Henry!'

A smile slightly reproachful and full of sadness accompanied this
speech.

'I came here intending to unburden my mind; but once here I lose
myself in you, and my troubles in your distress. I look ill? what does
that face look?'

'Only what it deserves--never mind it. Tell me of yourself--let your
griefs be mine, and if I can assist you--O, Henry! need I tell you how
wholly I am yours?'

The moment had arrived. The prey quivered within hand-grasp. He then
told her that his position was precarious. Pecuniary difficulties
pressed upon him so hardly, that where another week might find him, he
would not harrow her tender feelings by hinting. He told of feverish
excitements which sapped his life energies; of harassing vigils which
might deprive him of reason. And when Maida inquired what assistance
she could possibly render in adversities so hopelessly beyond her aid,
Norwell answered that her affectionate participation in his sorrow was
in itself an assistance; because it solaced his desponding spirits. On
further inquiry he told her the most beggarly part of the trial was,
that a mere trifle would relieve him.

'You wish to help me,' he continued; 'now is the chance for you.'
Drawing a letter from his pocket-book, he handed it to her. 'Read
this. You see my uncle here promises me four hundred; well, now read
that cheque, on the table there. You see it is only for one hundred.
What am I to do? Am I to be ruined by the old dotard?'

'Certainly not; only don't speak so. Write at once and get him to
rectify the blunder. It is an odd one, though, to make.'

'Not for a man of eighty, just in the flurry of starting for the
Continent. As for writing to him, why, before I could receive an
answer, I should be--ah! well, never mind where. At any rate, it would
be useless to write: he has left England by this. We must act first
and wake him up afterwards. We must alter the cheque to the amount
intended. That's what I want you to do. A woman's touch is so much
lighter than a man's. Look here.'

Taking the cheque, he seated himself at the table, and pointed with a
pencil to the figures. 'As they are written, it will be easy to turn
the one into a four: the distance readily admits it. See here; a
little tail at the end of the one, a stroke through the tail, and it's
done. The spelt figures are the plague.'

He scanned them thoughtfully, then continued: "Twill do famously! See,
the one is rather indistinct, put an F before it, there's room enough;
and the tiniest touch to the e, and you have a pretty good four. The n
is as much a u as an n, thanks to his penmanship.' He imagined Maida
was following the pencil in its course over the cheque. Turning his
head to make sure of her attention, he saw her standing erect, a look
of horror depicted on her blanched features; her hand, uplifted, had
stayed itself half-way to her lips, a passion worked beneath that
stricken exterior but not a passion to vent itself in wrath. 'Why
Maida!'

'Oh, Norwell! do you too spurn me--and with such a request? This is
misery.'

In well-affected surprise, Norwell put his arm around her.

'You silly child; what tragedy nonsense is this? Listen to me, Maida.'

All truth herself--strangely enough, through the dark experience of
more than two years she had not learned to doubt her deceiver. She
listened to his perjured voice, and the rigidity of her features
relaxed; her hand reached its destination, and in an attitude of
warning she laid one finger on her lip. Norwell went on to say:

'You may depend it's all right, and that in his book uncle has placed
four hundred against my name, or rather against this cheque. 'Tis not
the first time he has made so childish a mistake. Excusable, too, poor
old fellow! but that won't save me. If you will not help me, I must do
it myself. I'm not going to founder for his forgetfulness. Of course I
shall write at once and tell him what we've done, and he'll be glad
enough.'

'I do not understand money matters,' Maida sighed, resting her eyes
trustfully on Norwell. 'If you assure me there is no harm, I will try
my best.'

'What harm can there be, when it's from my own uncle? See, here is his
name; he'll be annoyed enough when he finds what a trick he has served
me. Under a similar error would you not do the same by your father, if
you were hard up for money?'

'Doubtless--but he is one of a thousand.'

'And may not my uncle be one of a million?'

His voice was so earnest, his manner so open, Maida could no longer
hesitate; the cloud that had transiently obscured her lover rolled
off, and all was fair. Another trusting look.

'Mind, then, I lean on you!'

Maida sat at the table and Norwell bent over her, directing her pen.

'There--will that do?' she cried, pushing the cheque forward and
herself back with the satisfied air of one who has accomplished a
difficult task.

'Will it do, Henry?'

'Bravo! old Rogers himself will be deceived.'

'Deceived, Henry?'

'Oh, any word you like will suit me.' His tone was cheerful--there was
no deception in it--she was content.

'Now, then, you must sign your name at the back. No what am I talking
about? I am as much Martha Grylls as you. What a lark it is that he
always will give a name of his own "composure," as the clerk is said
to have said! My name isn't fit to appear on paper, I suppose.'

Maida was puzzled until, taking up the cheque, she observed that it
was payable to a Martha Grylls or order. Norwell explained that it was
a whim of his uncle to trump up all the odd names he could think of;
whether to make him laugh, or because he objected to have two Norwells
on one paper, he could not tell.

'However, he never honoured me with the feminine gender before. I'm
afraid I shall not do justice to the sex. Let's see, Martha Grylls had
better write his or her name at the back; then I, Captain Norwell,
shan't be the fair possessor of the melodious title in presenting the
cheque for payment.'

Maida smiled, while he took up the pen, as if to write the name; he
flourished his fingers a few times and then said:

'Well, perhaps you had better do it. I may not write Martharish enough
for the personage. Here; just along there. You are more Martha Grylls
than I.'

'The M.G. is very like your writing, Henry,' she remarked in handing
him back the note.

'Now I have become Martha Grylls, I rather like it; it is so
peculiar.'

This was spoken playfully. Why did Norwell gaze so sadly on her? Why
turn with a face so full of misery as folding the cheque in his
pocket-book, he met her large eyes fixed fondly on him, and heard her
almost gleeful voice:

'Now, thank God, you are all right! Now, naughty boy, go and renovate
that pale face.'...

When Norwell reappeared the next morning, his unrefreshed countenance
and listless gait bespoke a sleepless night. Maida was grieved and
disappointed. The money had not cured him. What else could she do for
him? He was too unwell to ride to the neighbouring town. Would she
object to go for him to get the cheque cashed at his uncle's bank? He
would stay with the brat during her absence. She did not object--if
they would pay her, she would be delighted to go for him. Might the
shabbiness of her dress make them hesitate to give her the money? Dear
no; who could doubt her authenticity as a gentlewoman? or if they did,
they dare not refuse payment at his uncle's own bank. She accordingly
set off in the mail, and reached her destination just before the bank
closed for the day. Some question from the clerk drew forth the reply
that she had written the signature at the back.

'Then you are Martha Grylls, ma'am?'

Maida smiled, she could not help it; she was so amused at her new
name. The clerk thought she smiled at his asking her if she was
herself: so he politely said: 'We are obliged to be particular,
ma'am.' And it passed off. Martha Grylls left the bank, and took her
place in an omnibus, the only conveyance going to--that afternoon.

She found Norwell in her room when she returned. He was taciturn to
sullenness. Maida entreated him to tell her what further ailed him;
but he shook off her importunities until the night was far advanced.
He then sprang to his feet with a suddenness that made her tremble;
turning upon her he cried:

'It is no use to hide it. Without a great sacrifice, I'm a dead man.'

'What sacrifice is there I would not make for you, Henry? my love has
never failed. I could do anything but sin for you.'

'And you couldn't do that? What, then, if I tell you you have sinned
already?' His eye rested piercingly on her. 'Maida, I am about to sift
your love for me. Do you know what we have done?'

'No! what? explain, and quickly.'

'We--have--committed--forgery,' deliberately hissed Norwell; 'and it
is too late to retract, unless you would hurl me into hell--for this
pistol goes through my heart the instant you decide against me.
There--Maida Gwynnham, I am in your hands; kill me if you choose.'

There was a fearful silence in that little upper chamber. The fiercest
tempest of wrath, the keenest lightning-flash--break forth, rather
than that cold, dead stillness. Norwell quailed beneath the dilated
gaze that moved not--yet fixed on him--while she who fixed it stood
breathless, pale, and chill, as though her life-springs had been
touched with ice.

'Speak, Maida! oh, speak to me!'

No answer came.

A gradual change overspread her face--pitying scorn was depicted
there. Another change--revenge sat brooding there. Again a change, and
anger recoloured her pallid cheek. Yet once more a change. Her
features compressed. The colour went back to the smitten heart, and
firm determination was written on her face--her mind was resolved; her
voice calm.

'Will it save you?'

'Why, why, it shall not get you into a scrape.'

'Do not lie; will it save you?' the same calm voice.

'Yes: if you choose it will save me; otherwise--'

The pistol clicked and supplied the blank.

'I am in your power, Maida.'

'And I in yours?' quietly and unwisely asked she.

But Norwell, too agitated to note the question in its advantageous
view, merely replied:

'Why, no, hardly that, because you could implicate me.'

'I would leave that to Captain Norwell,' sneered Maida. 'Yes, to you,
Henry. The scales have fallen from my eyes; I see it all too late, as,
too late, I have discovered you. Detection is possible: your hand did
not commit the forgery; your fame must not be touched, it stands too
high; but Maida Gwynnham, that outcast! it matters not how low her
fall.'

'Oh, Maida! can you make the sacrifice?'

'If you can, Norwell; there lies the bitterness to me.'

'Oh! do not, do not speak so! Pity, pity poor weak-minded Norwell, who
cannot bear the finger of shame. I am the object of pity, not you.
Your lofty nature may find happiness in vicarious suffering, but for
me what is there?'

'It need not, shall not be.'

'It must, Maida; would you betray me?' his fingers played on the
pistol.

'Not whilst I can suffer in your stead. Go, Henry; you have nothing to
fear from me. The sin, mine by carelessness, shall become mine by
substitution, for I see no other way to save you from punishment.'

'And from death. I would not live a second after disgrace. Oh, Maida!
be this your support--you save a soul from death.'

She shuddered; she longed to be alone, and beckoned Norwell to leave;
he was not sorry to do so; it was hazardous to remain in her presence.
Not venturing another look, he said:

'Then I am in your hands: my life is yours, to spare or slay.'

'I committed the forgery; let that suffice you, Norwell.'

The door slammed on him, and he was gone.

'I am a felon!' thought Maida, and she recoiled from herself as though
the brand of infamy already burned on her; then dropping on her knees,
she cried, 'O God! lay not this sin to my charge--it is to save one
dearer than my life. Do Thou acquit me, and I can bear the lot of
shame.'



CHAPTER IV. THE FELON.


THE morning light shimmered coyly through the closed pane, and fell
upon a lovely pair--death in its reality, cold, but void of mockery;
life in its unreality, cold, and brimful of subtle mockery drooped
together on that couch. But for the low, tearless sob which broke at
intervals from Maida, you would have thought that she, too, shared the
kind reality of death. She knelt by the couch, resting her face on her
dead baby's pillow; her hair fell like a pall over the little corpse,
and strikingly the chill pallor of death looked up from the sable
covering.

The clock had struck five--still Maida bent over the little sleeper,
unconscious that she was watched by Norwell, who had ascended the
stairs without noise. Horror-stricken he stood at the door. He came to
impart direful news; but in this new grief for Maida everything was
forgotten, as the sight of sorrow burst upon him.

For some time Norwell remained a spectator only of the scene, so
touching in its passiveness, so heartrending in its reality. He then
advanced on tiptoe to the bed, and stooping over the kneeling form,
whispered:

'Maida, it is I; look at me, dear.'

She remained seemingly unconscious for a time; then suddenly starting
to her feet, and pressing her clenched hand on her heart, as if to
keep down by force the choking emotion which was swelling there, she
exclaimed:

'Norwell, what brings you--bad news?'

'They are on us, Maida,' hurriedly returned the Captain; 'it is all
discovered, and,' wiping the large drops fast gathering on his
forehead, 'I fear they have a clue to me; for you they are in full
cry.'

'They need raise no cry, for I shall not lead them a chase; but you,
oh! you, Norwell, must and shall be saved.'

'Well, then, be careful what you say--when you are apprehended be
silent--when obliged to speak weigh well your words, or you--you will
betray me.'

Maida shuddered.

'Now haste away, you have been here too long already. I am prepared
for them;' and then, as if repeating a lesson, she whispered:

'I--did--it! they will only get those three words from me.'

Norwell was half down stairs when he returned, took Maida's hand, and
looking anxiously at her, said:

'Maida, you will hear strange things. I have been hurried on to a
point I never thought I could reach.'

'Go, Norwell--go.' He obeyed, but again came back.

'Maida, your punishment will be heavy--it may be--'

'Transportation for life!' calmly added Maida.

'And I a man--O Maida! Try, do try to escape. I will aid you. I will
go with you.'

Again he descended and again he returned.

'Do you--can you forgive me? Can you think in any other way of me than
as a cowardly wretch?'

'I can think of you as a martyr!' Norwell understood the searching
tone.

'Perhaps we have met for the last time,' he exclaimed, as the door
closed upon him.

She started from a deep reverie with the air of one who wakes to a yet
oblivious sense of an impending sorrow.

'What is it? Oh! what is it?' Her eyes fell upon the bed, and she was
answered. She gazed wildly around the room.

'They will take my babe from me, and I have not even wept over it! No!
the scalding drops are fevering my brain but they will not come forth.
My babe! my child!' she continued, in the thrilling accents of
despair, 'the last comfort is denied thy wretched mother--she may not
lay thee in thy grave.'

'Why not?' she quickly added, 'they are not here yet. The morning is
yet early--no one is astir. Who will miss Maida Gwynnham's child?'

She stole on tip-toe to the bed, then hastily descended the stairs,
bearing her unconscious burden wrapped in the accustomed shawl. About
half a mile distant lay a lovely unfrequented spot. Maida had often
wished to rest her own weary head there. With a palpitating heart,
thither she bent her steps: every sound made her start. But Maida's
fears were not for herself.

'Another hour and some rough grasp might tear thee from me, my
precious babe, and thou wouldst have a tearless grave--now thy own
mother will lay thee down, how tenderly!'

The morning was calm and bright--there was that mysterious silence
around that is only made the more impressive by the faint sounds which
occasionally disturb it. The very birds had hushed their cheery carols
as though they knew that songs of mirth fall heavily upon a burdened
mind. Was it the still small voice which spoke to Maida in that gentle
scene--the voice which she refused to hear in the stormy blasts that
had desolated her haughty spirit? for she wept. Placing her babe upon
the turf, she clasped her hands, and looking upwards, exclaimed:

'Oh, God! Thou hast made everything pure and beautiful. Canst Thou
look on me, the only evil here? Oh, God! if this be sin, forgive it
for the sake of Him whose name I have forfeited to utter.'

Courage, Maida! thou hast breathed a prayer, and prayer was never yet
denied, how long soever delayed the answer. It is stored for thee in
Heaven's golden treasury, and yet must yield its plenteous harvest.
She knelt and tried the mould. It was soft and crumbly, readily giving
to her touch. There was a rustle in the bushes. She peered cautiously
around. Nothing was to be seen. She continued her labour--another
rustle--she sprang to her feet--all was quiet again. She had removed
the earth about a foot's depth when a shout was heard. A man leaped
from the hedge and clutched her arm.

'Halloo, missus! I've a-watched you this quarter hour--just to be sure
what you're up to--if this yer an't seeing with one's own eyes, I'm
blessed!'

Maida stretched her hand towards the child; the man laid his upon it.

'This yer's our article, if you please, missus. By Jingo! you're an
old hand. Here we've been after you for one thing--a bit o' paper
business--and we catches you up to another that beats t'other all
hollow, or I ain't Bob Pragg.'

Here two constables appeared, and with a look of disapprobation at the
ruffianly man, desired him to desist. Then quietly taking Maida's
arms, they requested her to accompany them.

'Take up the child, Watkins,' said the elder constable; whispering, as
the other obeyed, 'any signs or marks of violence?'

Watkins lifted the dead body, and, wrapping it in the shawl, carried
it bundle-wise under his arm. Even this irreverence failed to attract
Maida's attention. She was revolving some yet unfathomed mystery, or
moulding some plan that yielded not readily to her wishes.

By an interchange of expressive nods, the constables had remarked
Maida's start when they examined the corpse for marks of violence, and
had noted it as a proof of guilt.

Ay, she had started, and with the start an intrepid thought had rushed
into her mind--a thought whose purpose was to place Captain Norwell
beyond reach of danger, because it should place her at the bar of
justice in a different position of guilt.

'I have it!' she at last exclaimed; and a smile of triumph illumined
her face. Then the old look of firm resolve stamped its awful though
silent fiat upon her countenance. The mystery was explained, the plan
moulded, the intrepid thought grappled with; that smile of triumph
defied each one.

Arrested for forgery under the alias of Martha Grylls Maida Gwynnham
was indicted at the next assizes for the wilful murder of her child,
the bill of indictment for forgery being held subservient to the more
terrible charge of murder.

In Maida's cupboard was found a bottle that awakened vivid suspicions
against the prisoner. It was produced in court, and a shiver ran
through the audience as from the skull and cross-bones the dreadful
word 'poison' with unmistakable distinctness bore witness to the
alleged guilt.

Some laudanum found in the stomach of the baby corroborated the
testimony of the label on the phial.

Now comes the explanation of that smile that broke from the disdainful
gloom of Maida's face. The same exultant smile burst forth when the
foreman of the jury gave the verdict:

'We find Martha Grylls guilty of the wilful murder of her child.'

And, if possible, a still more victorious smile shone on the judge's
declaration:

'Having been found guilty of the higher crime, which I shall sentence
to the full rigour of the law, it were useless to urge the lesser
charge against Martha Grylls.'

Then with solemn pathos, amidst the breathless hush of the Court, the
judge drew the fatal symbol on his head, and pronounced the death
warrant, which was received by the Court with one prolonged sob of
smothered feeling, and welcomed by Maida Gwynnham as the benediction
after a tedious sermon.

Norwell had not known what to understand by the unexpected charge
brought against Maida. As one by one the proofs of her guilt were
produced, he was staggered; they were unquestionable. The dreadful
crime could, without doubt, be traced. True--he had seen the child
lying dead, and Maida moaning over it; but may not she have murdered
it for all that? and may not the moan have been that of remorse? Thus
pondering, he glanced towards the bar--loath, very loath, we must
admit it, to believe any harm of Maida; when a slight curl in the
corners of her nether lip--a look he well comprehended--convinced him
of her innocence more than a verdict for her could have done. When he
perceived the fatal termination of the trial, even in the distance--
too sick at heart to remain--he hurried from the court; and turning at
the door to draw in one long gaze of Maida, their eyes met, and the
fuel was added to the fire of her constancy; and its smoke smothered
the last thought of restitution which had lingered in his heart.

Assured by a barrister that the sentence would be commuted to
transportation for life, Norwell pacified himself with the thought,
'that will seem nothing after such a fright she would have had that
otherwise,' and gladly crept out of the loophole opened by
circumstance (Providence, he said) and still wider opened by the fair
law of England; he crept out into--

The ball-room! No harm either--it was the assize ball.



CHAPTER V. THE REVEREND HERBERT EVELYN.


'The secret of true eloquence is an eloquent heart.'

STILL anxious to try what he could effect towards winning Maida's
attention and confidence, Mr. Evelyn applied for permission to visit
the prisoner again.

Remembering with apprehension the passionate ebullition she had given
way to before Mr. Evelyn, Maida was equally anxious to see that
gentleman, in order to ascertain how far she had betrayed Norwell, and
her own secret. Remembering also that Mr. Evelyn had spoken of a
friend who loved her better than anyone else, and fearing that this
friend could be none other than her father, she longed to ask her
informant to whom he had alluded. But too proud to ask a favour, she
incurred the risk of letting her doubts remain unsatisfied rather than
seek an interview with Mr. Evelyn through the kindness of the matron.

Pleasure was, therefore, plainly depicted on her countenance when the
object of her wishes entered her cell.

'Well, Martha, I am indeed glad to see you more cheerful; how are you,
my poor girl? I have thought unceasingly of you since the night of
your conviction.'

Not noticing the question, Maida eagerly exclaimed:

'Oh, sir! do tell me. What have I told you of my past history? I have
been so miserable since you were here.'

'Then do not be miserable, you were so excited as to be almost
incoherent. I only gathered from what you said that you had been
betrayed by some villain calling himself a gentleman.'

'No names then?'

'None. I have not the faintest clue to any particular man.'

'I am anxious to know, sir, of whom you spoke, when you said you
brought a message from some one who loved me better than--than--he?'
She at last added, with a flushing cheek and with a firm start of her
whole frame, 'Was it my father?--tell me, No--and I care not who else
it may be.'

'No, Martha! no earthly--'

'Thank God!' interrupted Maida; 'if he had sent you he would soon be
following himself' (hiding her face in her hands)--'and I could not--
oh! I could not see him--it would break his heart to find me in these
prison clothes. But perhaps his heart is broken already.'

She rocked herself wildly to and fro. Mr. Evelyn held his peace. Long
experience had taught him that a chaplain's most favourable
opportunity lies in the brief calm after a violent outburst of
feeling. As he watched Maida he hoped the storm was passing away.

'Will you do me a favour, sir?' she asked at last.

'Anything--anything, Martha.'

'I shall have all my hair cut off when I am at Millbank; do you think
they would give me two locks for a particular purpose?'

'Perhaps; it depends upon what person you ask: the matron would, I am
sure; you must speak to her, and then?'

'Three months after I have gone--that is, left England--will you send
one to my father, whose address you must promise not to discover until
then, when, by a clue I will leave, you will easily find him--and the
other--no, thank you, I will send that myself--will you oblige me,
sir?'

'Willingly; but, Martha, you must write to your father.'

'Impossible, Mr. Evelyn! Should his own daughter's be the hand to sign
his death-warrant?'

'Yes, Martha! the warrant has to reach him--let it be through his
child rather than through the public executioner. I have a daughter; I
know a father's feelings. You have also yourself to think of and act
for; you have to prepare your dying bed.'

'You do not know what you ask for, sir. Were I to write, he would come
to me; and I would rather that he should see me in my coffin than
here: it would finish the breaking of his heart; and, surely, you
would not bid me do that! besides, it would unnerve me--and then--'

'Would to God I could see you unnerved, Martha!'

Maida grasped Mr. Evelyn's hand, and fixing her eyes intently on him,
whispered in beseeching tones:

'For pity's sake, do not talk so, sir; you will undo me--you will ruin
me. What good would his pardon work upon a soul unforgiven by itself?
For pity's sake, no more of this.'

'It is just for pity's sake that I would and must speak, my poor
Martha; calm yourself, and listen to me:

'I have but lately come from that country to which you are shortly to
be sent. For more than fourteen years I laboured there as a convict
chaplain. I could tell you of hardships, of ill-treatment, of
solitude, of home-sickness, of loveless labour, and of unrewarded
servitude--all of which you must undergo; but all I could reveal of
these, in their every crushing misery, would be insignificant compared
to what I could disclose of the unrelenting tortures inflicted under
the sentence of conscience--the sentence of remorse! generally
reserved for hours of solitary imprisonment, or the day of sickness
and death, when its victims are unable to lighten it by toil, or elude
it by flight.

'From one cruel phase of this torture I would rescue you in imploring
you to seek your father's pardon. That knowledge with which you now
satisfy yourself will avail you nothing when once the great gulf
betwixt him and you is passed.'

'Mr. Evelyn, you will not understand me--let me explain myself--but
first, I pray you to believe that neither stubbornness nor pride is
now at work in me. As we see an object for the last time, so do we
picture it for ever. We may hear a thousand tales of that object
afterwards--and we may receive them all--but without altering the
impression left upon our minds.'

'I do not ask you to see your father, Martha. Under your
circumstances, where there are all the finer feelings of the gentleman
as well as the keen susceptibilities of the parent to be consulted, I
would not advise a meeting; but you must write.'

A very earnest and steady look into Maida's face accompanied this
boldly given, decidedly made assertion; but at the time, neither look
nor assertion was noticed; the prisoner's thoughts were preoccupied,
and her eyes fixed on the ground.

'You must write, Martha; and I will undertake to prevent a meeting;
and also, if it would spare you pain, I would write to Mr. Grylls--(is
that his name?)--break the dreadful intelligence, and prepare him to
receive your letter.'

'Oh no! thank you, kindly; if it has to be done, I will do it myself.
I do not shrink from a penance as just as it is severe, for the news
will break his heart. I have brought it on myself. The letter shall be
written; but I must be allowed to send it according to my own
arrangement, in order to make his coming impossible.'

'The matron will doubtless permit you this indulgence. I only ask you,
Martha, to let me know when you send the letter.'

'You shall be informed, sir; and I thank you for showing me this
duty.'

'Farewell, Martha; I have already given you a parting benediction in
that little book, and for my sake you have promised to read it. Be
faithful to yourself in writing to your father. I will pray that you
may be supported in the bitter trial, and that he may have strength to
endure the impending stroke. God bless you!'

Meeting the governor's wife in one of the passages, Mr. Evelyn made
known to her the prisoner's desire respecting the hair. Mrs. Lowe
engaged that the wish should be gratified as far as her influence with
the superintendent of Millbank extended, but advised the putting
possibility beyond all doubt by at once cutting off the two required
locks.

'I should not like to be present, sir, when she has her beautiful hair
taken off. I am glad to be spared the painful sight. It will be a
great trial to her; so peculiar a creature.'

'She will not feel it, I think, Mrs. Lowe; there is no petty weakness
in her grief. As a concomitant of her humiliating portion, she may
receive it with a shudder, but the shudder would be for herself, not
for her hair.'

Mr. Evelyn was right in Maida's case, but generally, convicts are more
sensible of mortification in being deprived of nature's best ornament
than in almost any other course of penal discipline. In Van Diemen's
Land the convicts especially the men, allow their hair to grow to an
unbecoming length as an indisputable voucher of respectability.

The gaoler, who had overheard Mrs. Lowe's remark suggested to Mr.
Evelyn in a very confidential tone:

'That woman's hair'll fetch a mint o' money, sir; she wer'n't up to
it, or she'd never have brought it in with her.'

A stern frown reprimanded this very natural spirit of speculation, to
which the gaoler, misunderstanding, replied apologetically:

'Yes, well, sir, you're right--it is fair it should go to Government.'

But Mr. Evelyn's frown did not accept the apology.



CHAPTER VI. TOO LATE.


A FULL half-hour before the---station opened to the public, a closely-
shut vehicle drove to the gate, which immediately unlocked, and as
quickly fastened, upon a decently-dressed female, who seemed to
conduct rather than accompany three thickly-veiled women that had
alighted and entered the platform with her, but their presence was
ignored by the G. W. R. officials, and their existence only recognised
in the person of her whom, par excellence we designate 'the female.'
When she advanced to a carriage, the same secret understanding
appeared there as at the entrance. The door instantly and quietly
opened. She stood back, and let the veiled three precede her into the
compartment, then, seating herself between two and in front of the
third, she beckoned to a porter and he locked them in. This being
accomplished, she heaved a gentle sigh of satisfaction, and leaning
back to repose her exhausted energies, said mildly to the three:

'You may make yourselves as comfortable as you like, now.'

She should have said, and doubtless meant to say:

'You may make yourselves as comfortable as you can, now.'

Neither of the three availed herself of the permission. Indeed, their
whole expression of dress and mien gave one the idea of discomfort too
sure and certain to admit of the possibility of relief. Though
assisted by 'the female' to surmount the stepping-in difficulty, each
had displayed a peculiar awkwardness in the act that reminded one of
the cramp. Afterwards, as they sat securely pinned in their shawls,
one felt inclined to ask:

'What has become of their arms?'

But just then the carriage was made to back, and it had scarcely done
so, ere the warning bell rang, and the express down train, snorting
over the viaduct, ran into the vacated line.

Dexterously as 'the female' had contrived her entry, two other
individuals had benefited by the premature unlocking of the station
gates. One a military man, had effected his entrance with a silver
latch-key; the other, a clergyman, by virtue of a lofty bearing, and
an authority too marked to be gainsaid. Merely acknowledging his
entrance by a slight inclination of his head to the wondering porter,
Mr. Evelyn walked to a bookstall and purchased Bradshaw. Turning its
pages until he arrived at the down trains, he passed his finger
rapidly through the hour list of London departures, then, hastily
shutting the guide, he murmured:

'Yes--he can be here! Let me see: he received the letter yesterday
morning--started for town by next train, and left by night express; he
will be here presently, if I read the poor man's heart aright.'

Having thus inferred, Mr. Evelyn paced the platform with a sharp,
uneasy step, and occasionally stopped short, to look earnestly out on
the distance. In doing thus he knocked against a gentleman who was
leaning on the further side of one of the broad pillars which
supported the canopy. A glance of recognition passed between the two
gentlemen.

'Confound the man! He haunts a fellow when least he's wanted.'

With this surly salutation, Captain Norwell once more ensconced
himself in his retreat.

Then it was that the down express snorted over the viaduct, and
venting the remainder of its fury in portentous puffs, glided swiftly
up the line, and stayed itself before the station.

In a moment all was hurry and seeming confusion.

'This door, porter! this door!' wailed a feeble voice from one of the
first-class compartments.

The porter threw open the door. A tall, bowed figure issued from it,
and stood in the midst of the bustle and packages as though all the
bustle and packages in the world were nothing to it. With a helpless
and almost imbecile expression, the figure raised its lack-lustre eyes
and stared into the motley crowd, searching for some one who should be
found in it.

A shrill whistle was the first sound that aroused the isolated figure
to a consciousness that it must seek if it would find.

'Guard, isn't there a train leaving soon?' it feebly asked.

'Nour-and-half, sir.'

'Is that the one that is to carry some--prisoners to London?'

'Just started, sir; see it up the hill there.'

A piteous cry--a heavy fall--and two persons, drawn to the spot by
sympathetic attraction, bore Mr. Gwynnham, a senseless paralytic, from
the platform.



CHAPTER VII. THE COUSINS.


AT the date of this story's commencement Mr. Evelyn had been one year
in England, and six months prior to that date he had lost his wife in
Van Diemen's Land. The suddenness of the event preyed on his already
impaired health; and listening to the solicitations of his brother and
only child, he resigned his chaplaincy in Hobart Town in order to
return to England to seek that repose for himself which has jaded
energies so much required, and for his daughter those advantages which
colonial education but sparely afforded.

The arrival of their Tasmanian cousin was looked forward to with no
small excitement by the D'Urban family. Bridget D'Urban, ever full of
fun and drollery, had many a good-natured laugh in store for all the
uncouth barbarities she expected in the young colonist; while her
mother had secret misgivings that her girls would find no beneficial
associate in one who must have imbibed a wrong view of things from
unavoidable contact with the mixed and sometimes questionable society
of Van Diemen's Land.

Both aunt and cousins were, therefore, sufficiently surprised when,
late on a summer evening, Uncle Herbert (as henceforward we shall have
to distinguish the Reverend Mr. Evelyn) introduced to them their
cousin Emmeline, a young lady, who, from ease of manner and grace of
deportment, might have done credit to any English drawing-room.

In a quarter of an hour Bridget was as proud of her cousin's
appearance and manners as she had meant to be tender with her failings
and faults. The contrast between the two girls was very striking--the
more so, as they were of the same age--both on the verge of seventeen.
The young English maiden was a girl in every sense--a good-looking,
bright-eyed, rosy, laughter-loving creature, showing a decided
preference for the sunny side of life, and for ever trying to shun the
shadowy side; not by any means from a selfish indifference to the
troubles of her neighbour but because, in her own words, 'It's so
horrid to see wretchedness without being able to relieve it.'

She was the idol of the servants--ever ready to help them over a
scrape, or to put her best construction on their worst action: they
were never in fear of dismissal when Miss Bridget stood by them. Uncle
Herbert told her that she would make a capital convict mistress, and
advised her to try her alchymic powers of turning bad to good on a few
of the Queen's specimens: on which she clapped her hands, and declared
that nothing would be better fun than to go out there and cure a few
kitchen rows; and then jumped up to cure uncle and cousin's grave
faces by a hearty kiss and a second declaration that that was only her
way of saying how delightful it would be to go to Van Diemen's Land.
She knew she should be the last to think it fun, and the first to call
it horrid to see the poor, dear beings so miserable.

Prematured by a southern clime, and pre-aged by constitutional
delicacy, Miss Evelyn had little of the girl in her, but all the
appearance of finished womanhood in her gentle gravity of countenance
and quiet dignity of carriage. After Mr. Evelyn had remained a short
time in his sister's family, he determined on making a tour, partly
with the view of renovating his strength, and partly to give himself
ample scope for choice of a healthy locality in which to settle. But
his daughter's rapidly-increasing ill-health caused him suddenly to
return, and on consulting a physician he was advised to take Emmeline
back to Tasmania, as much to give her the benefit of a sea voyage as
to try what her almost native air might accomplish for her. On the
evening of that day, Mr. Evelyn was closeted with his brother-in-law
and sister for more than three hours, and when he came from conference
with them, it was only to commence another with Emmeline, and then to
begin a third with Bridget. The result of the three conferences was
that Bridget flew into her cousin's room, and exclaimed, ere the door
had time to slam after her:

'I may go! They'll let me go with you!'

Then flinging herself into Emmeline's arms, she forgot the nearer
prospect of rows in the kitchen in her joy at being companion-elect to
the being she loved best in the world.



CHAPTER VIII. THE 'ROSE OF BRITAIN'


BECALMED on the tropical sea, two vessels lay listlessly lulling their
weary passengers to a noonday sleep--a sleep that had anything but a
soothing effect on the slumberers who ever and anon, would start, and
in their uneasy rest implore, Dives-like, for a drop of water to cool
their parching tongue--a petition that would either never reach the
steward, or else be answered with an aggrieved shake of the head.

'Can't do it--had your allowance;' and the steward gulps down a large
cupful of cold tea which he has obtained by laying a toll on each cup
of tea served at that morning's breakfast.

But the steward has his favourites on board; and whilst his
stewardship is inexorably faithful to some, he turns his pregnable
side towards others, and this pregnable side holds his not deaf ear;
an ear which quickly distinguishes whether the petitioner is one of
his favoured few, or one who kicked up a bother about his tureen of
soup, or told the captain that his cabin was only swabbed, and not
holy-stoned.

Discerning the cry of a favourite, with stealthy movements he proceeds
to quench the cry in a draught of some refreshing beverage; now it may
be a glass of cold coffee--now it may be a glass of ale, left over
from last night's supper--and then, oh, best of all! it may be bumper
of cold, milkless, sugarless tea. None but those who have tried the
delights of this draught in tropical extremities can tell how truly
grateful above any porter or beer is this cold tea. Steward himself is
a regular toper, and yet he declares that give him your tea and he'll
give you his tap. But even the pregnable side of steward rarely yields
literal water; he will hardly risk detection, and the consequent
charge of favouritism, by granting the letter of the petition. He has
orders to draw only so much water from the tank, therefore he dares
not disobey. 'A drop of something left from meals captain can't swear
against;' neither can he swear at steward for generously giving that
drop of something away. To steward's honour be it said, young ladies
are always his particular fancy, for two reasons, namely, 'for their
own dear selves' sake,' and because they don't give so much trouble as
the gentlemen--they make their own beds, and keep their cabins tidy.
Any young lady with a passable face and an amount of good nature
sufficient to make her affable with steward, may have a pleasant
voyage. For though captain governs, and mates sub-govern, it is the
steward who holds the rein of comfort or discomfort, plague him, and
you'll have a hundred annoyances which do not come under a captain's
rule, or even knowledge--annoyances which can be so easily traced to
natural causes, that of course steward must not be blamed for them any
more than you or I.

All ye who value such alleviation as tropical miseries admit of, curry
favour with the steward. All ye who appreciate winter consolations, in
the form of hot sea-water bottles and aromatic caudles, curry favour
with the steward, ere the biting cold of the Horn nip your very heart,
and freeze your best feelings into one lugubrious mass of neighbour
hatred.

All we have said of petitions, either gratified or denied, applies in
the present case to but one of the vessels.

Both lay listlessly lulling their passengers--and the passengers of
both were equally willing to be lulled--equally weary and feverish--
equally anxious for a breath of fresh air--equally tired of the ardent
sky staring down upon them, relentless as the eye of conscience upon
the bad man's soul. Here ended the similarity, save that both were
outward bound. When the two vessels were within speaking distance, the
master of the vessel of which we have been writing hoisted his
signals, and displayed his black board, receiving in answer the
announcement that the other ship was (from) London (to) Van Diemen's
Land (with) prisoners.

Three words, which told a lifetime's tale of sorrow.

The vessels shifted still nearer each other, by lazy, who--may-care
degrees, until an unusual state of excitement on board proclaimed that
the two captains were about to exchange civilities through their
trumpets.

The deck of the prison ship was crowded with prisoners--as a mass of
brown serge distinctly visible; but from that mass to distinguish
individuals required the help of the mate's telescope, looking through
which was recognisable one figure whose tall and dignified form could
be no other than Maida Gwynnham.

She stood at the bulwarks near the stern, and leaning on her was one
who in the distance seemed a mere child, so small was she in
comparison with Maida; yet, small as she was, she had on the prison
serge and cap--this fact was discernible without the telescope's aid.
On nearer view, her features were those of a young girl of fifteen
years. She clung to Maida as an infant clings to its parent, following
her with a quick uneasy step whenever she changed her position, and
not seeming satisfied unless drawn close to her protector's side by
the intertwining of her own and Maida's arm; then she appeared not to
care how long she stood and watched the strange vessel.

In the free vessel was a group, which, as a group, was visible to the
naked eye--to use an astronomical phrase--but to distinguish the
individuals forming it, the captain needed his glass. There were three
persons: a tall, slight gentleman, of an aspect decidedly clerical, a
young lady, who sat on a camp-stool supported against the mizen, and a
second young lady, whose clear, musical voice rang over the water as
the trumpets conveyed their shrill messages backwards and forwards. So
musical a laugh could only be Bridget D'Urban's. It rang right over to
the poor child-prisoner, who, all against her will, laughed an answer
to the merry voice; and Maida smiled a sad smile as she heard the
youthful captive send back that miserable imitation, and yet she felt
glad that the poor thing could laugh even such a laugh; the girl
perceived the smile and feared it was a rebuke.

'I couldn't help it, Maida,' she said apologetically; 'it came so
sweet and different from our women's great noises.'

Maida pressed her arm still more tightly around little Lucy. The
Reverend Mr. Evelyn also heard Lucy's response to his niece's cheery
heart-mirth, and an expression that Emmeline had learnt to interpret
passed over his face; he turned from her and paced the deck for an
instant, then, stopping abruptly at her side, he said, in a hurried
tone:

'That was a child's voice! That ship is no place for so young a
creature--they punish her soul as well as her body. They are teaching
her sin by binding her to those who will instruct her well in their
trade. And then she will get a series of severer punishments for
proving an apt scholar in the school of vice to which she was only
apprenticed to learn her own folly. She was put on board with a few
years' knowledge of crime--she will come off with the knowledge of
fifty years, unless some providence interfere on her behalf.'

Mr. Evelyn was short-sighted, or he would surely have recollected the
figure that stood opposite him on the deck of the transport; had he
looked through the telescope he could not have failed to discover
Maida Gwynnham.

That Maida did not discover him is not to be wondered at, for never
once did her eye stay its dreamy wandering into the fervid blue depths
that lay, so tranquil, at her feet, until a rough hand grasped her
shoulder, and a rougher voice demanded why she was later than her
messmates--why had not she gone below with the other women; and it
went on to say that she was no fit companion for the girl Lucy
Grenlow, and that if she continued such doings she should be separated
from her; at which threat the poor Lucy clung still more to Maida, and
Maida grasped the trembling form still more firmly to herself.

A breeze sprung up, and every stitch of sail was spread to atone for
lost time. The two vessels, though bound for the same port, soon
parted company. Shortly after the breeze had come to their relief, the
news was spread that the log had been cast and they were going at the
rate of seven knots an hour.

Maida had been on board the transport a fortnight before she was able
to go on deck. The first morning that she took her place with the
other women she noticed a small figure crouched up in a corner between
two hen-coops on the leeward side. Her face was hidden low down in her
lap; but by the jutting movements of the shoulder it was easy to tell
that the little creature was sobbing violently.

'She'm gone to lo'urd because she won't fall no further,' giggled a
horrid-looking female, whose appearance was rendered more repulsive by
a shock of grizzled hair, which had been cropped, and was now shooting
up in perpendicular wires all over her head, making her look something
between a withered grown-up tomboy and an ex-lunatic. In defiance of
rule she had taken off her cap. The matron was below, making up a
recent quarrel with the surgeon-superintendent over a glass of wine,
and simultaneously with her departure about sixty caps had disappeared
from the multitude of shorn heads congregated on the deck of the Rose
of Britain.

It was Lucy Grenlow who sat crouched up in the corner she was one of
the few who kept on their caps. As she bent her face more and more
into her lap, she felt her cap twitched off, or, rather, an effort
made to catch it off, but it was tied under her chin, so the twitch
only raised her head with a jerk that let it fall more heavily into
its covert. 'Let the maid alone, can't ye,' said the man at the wheel
'she's a mere babby, and it's only right she should cry after her
mother, the poor thing; darn my living soul if ever I'll come out with
a prison-ship again.'

'You hold your--tongue, or I'll give a point at the wheel for your
insolence--a point that will set us spinning in a trice.'

With this the ex-lunatic or withered tomboy grasped the whole of
Lucy's cap, together with the roots of her hair and dragged her head
up to the gaze of the herd.

'Here's a pretty face for you--lawk-a-me! shan't she learn a thing or
two from me before she leaves these precious boards? Yer, my dear,
haven't you got your passage dirt cheap, that's all I only paid five
shillings for it, and here I've been working for this lift for nigh
thirty year, and haven't got it till now. You'll have to bless your
country to the end of your life for such generosity. My husband's been
over there this ten year, and I've never been able to get over to un
till now; he'll hire me straight away as soon as my probation's out. I
suppose I an't been as brave as you, my little darling, for fortin
favours the brave, they says, and her an't a-favoured me till now,
goodness knows.'

All this while she held poor Lucy's head dragged backwards; the face
was wet with tears, but the child tried hard not to burst out afresh;
she even tried to smile, an attempt that destroyed her powers of
endurance. By force she wrested herself from the brutal grasp, and
with one loud wail, 'Mother! mother!' sank upon the boards, cutting a
deep gash in her forehead by the fall.

In an instant she was in Maida's arms, and would have been there much
sooner had Maida known the cruel tyranny that was being exercised upon
her. Absorbed in her own grief, and wasted by her own weakness, she
had retreated to the further end of the deck, unwitting that a labour
of love awaited her even in that den of infamy. It had not entered her
mind that there was a possibility of a child-prisoner's existence
amongst so aged a set of convicts; therefore, nursing her own sorrow,
she was dreaming away the first morning of her deliverance from sea-
sickness, when casting her eyes to leeward she saw the imbruted woman
drag back that youthful head. She started immediately to her feet;
but, unaccustomed to the motion of the vessel, had to make several
endeavours ere she could walk. During the last of those endeavours the
girl's cry gave momentary strength to her limbs, and she almost darted
to the spot. Her first impulse was to strike down the wretched
creature; but by an instant perception of the more effective course,
when the first buzz of excitement had died into that perfect hush
which generally follows an accident brought on by foul means, she
turned to the women, and pointing towards Lucy, said--

'That child henceforth is mine; touch her at your peril!'

No one voice replied.

Maida waited a few moments, and looked with haughty quiet from one to
the other of the scowling faces before her, to see if any would dare
forbid the act of appropriation. But no resistance was made.

As she prepared to descend with her senseless burden all feared she
would tell the matron; and a deputation of women went forward to beg
her not to peach.

Maida listened with impatience to the odd mixture of oaths, petitions,
threats, promises, by which the deputation beleaguered her and when
their vociferations let her get in a word, she said with an air of
dignity strangely unaccordant with the tumultuous manners of her rude
auditory--

'Telling will not recall the past; and until I perceive a danger of a
similar act of cruelty, I shall not demean myself by punishing the
offender.'

There was something so different to themselves in the speaker, that
none ventured to gainsay her words to herself; but no sooner was she
out of hearing, than hitherto repressed wrath broke out in fearful
imprecations and vulgar jeers.

'I, indeed! Who's this mighty I come in amongst us all of a sudden,
and all because of that little devil Grenlow?' said one of the enraged
throng, envious of a superiority she could not but award Maida
Gwynnham in the depths of her heart.

'I guess this lady will have to swallow her gentility in the box one
o' these days if she kicks up her guineas to the doctor,' hoped a
second.

A volley of curses from a third pretended to show her opinion of the
intruder.

'I reckon we shan't be bothered much with her a bit, for the darned
hypocrite 'll sure to be ill, and that 'ooman will sure for to scheme
to get 'pointed her nurse; you see if she don't get the blind eye of
the Chap' (short for Chaplain), exclaimed a fourth.

The ex-lunatic alone remained silent: her grizzled hair stood more
perversely erect, like a forest of ill thoughts, from her head. There
was a secret vowing of vengeance in her lowering brow and clenched
teeth, as she shook her fist towards where the victim of her taunts
had fallen. Turning sullenly away, she was about to go below, when the
man at the wheel, just removed from his post, after assuring himself
that no Argus was near to detect his breach of rule--first mate being
forward, second mate off his watch, and captain at his dinner, called
to the women to hearken a moment to his advice, which he gave as
follows:--

'If ye be wise, all on ye, this is the thing ye'll do. That woman's a
brick--a real, livin', rantin' brick; and to prove it I'd marry her
down straight away for the beauty of her two eyes, or else go down to
Davey's locker, if she wasn't a convict. Well, I'd have ye all keep in
with her, or ye'll get the worst on it afore ye've done with her. You
go straight away and elect her your queen, says I, and ye'll have some
un worth standin' by; so good-bye all on ye, wise ones;' with an
admonitory flourish off made honest Jack, just in time to save his
grog. Now as this advice coincided with the unexpressed feeling of
each prisoner, all agreed that there was sense in Jack's 'sermint;'
and as there was no good in making an enemy where a friend could be
gained, it was unanimously carried that Maida Gwynnham should be
convict-queen; though each voter privately hated her for the
superiority which all were obliged to own, while they publicly
abhorred Lucy Grenlow as the cause of the brawl which had exalted
Maida Gwynnham to her honourable (?) position.

The fourth woman's prediction was correct. Maida had no sooner laid
Lucy in her berth than she sought the Chaplain, and asked him to use
his influence in trying to get her appointed nurse; and the chaplain
was successful.

The little convict had been ailing for many days; the morning's
accident, therefore, was worse in its effects than might otherwise
have been. She lay unconscious for a long time; and when, after a few
uneasy tossings and half-sighed groans, she at last opened her eyes,
it was only to look bewilderedly about and cry--

'Mother! mother! I am so bad.'

'Are you, my poor child?' said Maida tenderly, as she laid her hand on
the sufferer's burning temples.

'That's nice; that's like you did when I had the fever, mother; I was
feared you were gone. Don't go, don't go, oh, don't go!'

'I promised to tell the doctor when you awoke, dear; I will not be
away an instant,' whispered Maida soothingly.

But the sick girl would not relinquish her hold of Maida's hand; so
the convict-nurse knelt down by the berth, and let her hand stay
quietly in the fevered grasp of her poor young charge, whilst she kept
the other hand on her forehead, now turning the palm, now the back of
it, as its surface absorbed the heat from the parched skin of her
brow.

'Mother, you b'lieve about the five shillings, don't you? Them
gentlemen to court said 'twas all fibs; you b'lieve, don't you?'

'I believe every word you tell me, Lucy. But you must not talk whilst
you are so poorly.'

'Will father beat me again if he catches me?' A shiver ran through her
whole frame and lingered at her fingers' ends, until Maida pressed her
hands gently between her own in order to stay the nervous trembling.

'No; father will never beat you again. There, lay your head on my arm;
now you need not fear.'

'What's this?' cried Lucy, suddenly starting bolt upright, as
something trickled down her cheek. She touched it, and found it was
blood. She gazed at the crimson stain for a moment, and then asked, in
a mysterious voice--

'Is that what I heard tell about to Sunday-school, the blood--what is
it?--that cleanses from all sin?'

Maida wiped the trickling drops from her cheek, and said--

'I have heard of that blood; it will cleanse your sin, Lucy.'

'You haven't got no sins to cleanse, mother.'

'It will wash away your sins,' calmly answered Maida.

'Oh, don't, mother, don't! I know I've been very wicked; but I meant,
indeed I did, for to put back the five shillings when I got paid.'

'I am sure you did, poor dear.'

Maida's heart was full to bursting; but no outer sign of sorrow was
visible in the tutored features that bent over the invalid; pity,
almost anguished pity was there, but no single token betrayed the
mighty grief which lay buried deep in the sanctuary beneath.

'Say it, mother, that what I heard tell about at Sunday-school--the
blood, what is it?--my thoughts are all gone.'

'The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin,' said the Religious
Instructor solemnly. He had heard the latter part of Lucy's
wanderings, and, more with a view to Maida than the delirious patient,
seized the opportunity to proclaim the tidings of a Saviour's death to
one whom he considered an extraordinary sinner.

The old look of indifference immediately obliterated all trace of
feeling from her face.

'Would that I could see some expression there,' thought the
Instructor, as he met the passionless marble of Maida's countenance
turned towards him.

Did Maida read the thought, that her lips curled into a line of scorn?
But only for an instant; the scorn changed into a smile, for Lucy
seemed about to speak.

"Tisn't father, is it? Mother, don't leave go; it can't be father, he
don't talk nothing about the blood. Who is it, mother?'

The Religious Instructor beckoned that he would answer. Drawing close
to the berth, he repeated--

'The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin.'

'No, no!' said Lucy, in the fretful accent of delirium; 'no, no! I
want mother to say it.'

Maida trembled; there was expression enough in her countenance then.

The sick child looked imploringly at her; she could not resist the
silent appeal. Averting her head from the Instructor, with thrilling
distinctness she pronounced--

'The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin.'

'Not yours, mother; you ain't got no sin; you didn't steal five
shillings.'

Maida did not answer--but delirious people will be answered; hence the
difficulty in treating their whims.

'Not yours, mother! Mother, not yours?'

'No--not mine,' came the fearful reply.

"Cause you ain't got none. Only me that's wicked;' and with a wild,
shrill laugh the sick child clapped her hands, and sank back on her
pillow, tired with the exertion.

'And why not yours, my poor woman?' asked the Instructor, in a very
kindly voice. 'May not the all reach even your case?'

'As one of your charge, sir, I am bound to listen to you; but I do not
prefer discussion; it only tends to strengthen the natural prejudice
of the heart.'

'I have no wish to discuss, Martha Grylls; that is no part of my duty.
I have but one desire, and that is to preach Christ to you and your
fellow sinners. Oh, Martha! what would I not give to see you awake to
the peril of your soul? The sinner's soul is always in danger; but in
your case danger is increased tenfold. What if we had gone down in
last week's storm? where would then your soul have been? where would
it be now? Martha, you have a weight of guilt--unredeemed guilt--upon
your life. Should that life be snatched away, the guilt would sink
your soul to hell--yes, nothing but hell is before you.'

'Very comforting!' said Maida, quietly folding her heart's secret
still more securely to the innermost recesses of her bosom. 'The
chaplain of the gaol had peculiar pleasure in this point of God's
mercy, but it fails to win me.'

'"Because I have called and ye have refused, I will also laugh at your
calamity." Martha, should death overtake you unawares, this would be
your case,' exclaimed the Instructor earnestly. 'Look at that poor
child, hers is a small sin compared with yours, yet see how it haunts
her conscience. If she has such inward torment, what would yours be if
you were laid on a bed of death? How could you face your Judge were
you now to appear at His bar?'

'Does He measure sin by its amount, do you suppose sir?' asked Maida,
so innocently that the good man hoped he had at last aroused her
interest, he did not observe the calm defiance in the eye that watched
for his explanation of Divine purpose.

'That is dangerous ground, my woman, it is enough for us to know that
all sin is hateful to God.'

'I beg your pardon, sir,' interrupted Maida, very coldly but very
politely, 'it may be enough for you to know; my emergency being
greater, I naturally wish to ascertain more of future probabilities.'

'Then go to your Bible, Martha Grylls; you will read there of all that
the Lord intends we shall know. Have you a Bible?'

'I have, sir.'

'Then the greater will be your condemnation if you do not profit by it
Do you read it? Ah-h-h!--I'm afraid not--afraid not.'

'I do, sir, twice a day.'

'God be praised!' and the dear, zealous man rubbed his hands together
as though there was yet hope for the murderess.

Maida's keen discernment perceived sincerity in the Religious
Instructor's fervour, or she would not have deigned to reply as she
did, to prevent a misconception of her avowal.

'I do not read for my own gratification, but merely to fulfil a
promise which I unfortunately made--I read the Bible for no other
reason.'

'Poor--poor Martha!' said the Instructor dejectedly. 'It is in that
book that you would read Lucy's text. Ah! that blood is quite able to
wash even your sin away, black and damning as it is. Do kneel down ere
you read again and beg for God's blessing on what you read, and then--
'

Maida was becoming irritated; she could not brook what appeared to her
sensitive mind an indelicate pressing of an advantage offered by
position, and with some abruptness she exclaimed:

'Whether a favour from God or man, I have a particular dislike to
blessings which can only be obtained by begging. I cannot seek a
favour likely to be denied me--to find acceptance with me it must flow
unbidden.'

The antagonistic principle is strong in the human breast, so strong,
that in our natural state we would rather walk to hell than be driven
to heaven.

In addition to this principle, prisoners have the stimulus of revenge
in refusing salvation. They have a notion that Government wants them
to be saved, therefore salvation is hateful to them; and did not God
force it upon some of them, as He did upon Saul, few of them would be
saved. Not for himself, but as a salaried servant of Government they
dislike the Religious Instructor or Chaplain. They discern the Broad
Arrow in all his pleadings, and accordingly detest them, and hope they
are paying him out by marching on to perdition in the very teeth of
his threats. There are of course exceptions to this rule--exceptions
made by prisoners themselves in favour of heaven, and exceptions in
some chaplains, whose correct judgment gives them irresistible power
in spite of the Government stigma so jealously regarded by the
convicts. Such an exception was Mr. Evelyn, Maida's friend. Such was
not the Religious Instructor of the Rose of Britain. (For their
dignity's sake the women called him Chaplain.) He was a truly pious,
energetic man; but needed judgment and discrimination of character in
discharging his important duties; for the lack of these two necessary
items of a teacher's qualifications, he often brought about effects
wholly contrary to his intentions. He failed as a pastor, whilst he
did well as a preacher.

Our Instructor took the Bible for his text (so did the Zealots), while
he neglected to take it for his pattern. The voice of inspiration,
whether from prophetic, apostolic, or divine lips, attunes itself to
suit the case before it. It encourages and invites the timid--'Come
unto Me;' it reasons with the doubtful--'Come now and let us reason
together, saith the Lord; though your sins be as scarlet they shall be
white as snow, though they be red as crimson they shall be as wool;'
it persuades the wavering--'Why will ye die?--Is there no balm in
Gilead?' it comforts the broken-hearted--'I am He that blotteth out
thy transgressions--I have found a ransom--Go in peace;' while it
warns the careless--'The wages of sin is death--Fly from the wrath to
come--What a man soweth, that shall he also reap;' it threatens the
stubborn--'This shall ye have at My hand, ye shall lie down in
sorrow--The wicked shall be turned into hell,' and finally condemns
the determined--'And these shall go away into everlasting punishment--
Whose damnation is just.' In his zeal for his outcast sisters, the
Instructor forgot so to deal with them; he indiscriminately shook the
thunders of Sinai around them. As with the ex-lunatic, so with Maida
Gwynnham. As with the stubborn, hardened Peg Lodikins so with the
little tender-hearted Lucy Grenlow. He would tell of the precious
blood shed for the remission of sins, but not until such ones as Maida
and Lucy feared their guilt was too deep to be washed out by it.

Then, again, he laid great stress on show of feeling, the maudlin
tears of Peg Lodikins went for contrition, while the rigid features of
Maida's stricken face were set down as obduracy. Mr. Evelyn had
discerned at a glance that all the pride, defiance, calmness, or
impetuosity of Maida were only props to the bruised reed within. He
felt at once that not the irritating appliances of the executioner,
but the tender though firm treatment of the surgeon, was needed there;
and had he been her pastor, his ministrations would have tended to the
gentle removal of those props by the removal of the cause which made
them necessary. His anointing would have been to bind up the broken-
hearted, only giving that pain which is inseparable from the healing
process, how wisely soever dealt. We have already seen that whilst he
lovingly intreated, he also faithfully reproved her. He despised not,
in some cases, to follow St. Paul's example, 'Being crafty, I caught
you with guile.'

Before the women Maida listened with a marked deference to all the
Instructor said, and she made little Lucy reverence his teachings. She
knew that though the driving system was repugnant to her, there were
those who would never see the gates of heaven Were they not scared
thither by the whip of small cords, and, accordingly, admired the man
who had sufficient nerve to inflict the stripes, whilst she repudiated
his indiscreet mode of administering the lash alike to all within his
reach. When alone she shunned him in every possible way. She preferred
the box, irons, cells, any punishment, to meeting him; but the more
she shunned him, the more the zealous man importuned her in every
possible way; so that, brought to bay, she had often no resort but to
assume an impregnable austerity, or to offer positive resistance, by
which she incurred chastisement. In his mistaken zeal he once
pronounced her an unfit companion for Lucy, and separated the friends
for a season; and might have kept them entirely apart, had not the
Surgeon-superintendent wisely interfered, foreseeing no end of irons,
cells, and box for Maida, and no end of persecutions, crying, and
isolation for poor Lucy, in persevering in a course so distasteful to
both.

Peg Lodikins had a facetious aside for the Instructor's frequent
interjectional comment--'It is my duty, ay, and my pleasure, "to be in
season, and out of season," in my warnings to you.'

She would nudge the ex-lunatic with--' "In season, and out of season,"
pertickler the latter!' and then with sanctimonious up-glancing she
would silently laud the beauty of a word fitly spoken.

Lucy, in her admiration of Maida, fancied that the 'Chaplain' dodged
her from deck to deck, from sheer inability to keep out of her
presence, and quietly determined in her own mind that--'The Chaplain
set a sight on that there Maida;' a conclusion that she stored away in
her mental locker for future use.

We must return to the berth-side where we left Maida fulfilling the
duties of nurse. For many days Lucy's life was despaired of. The
doctor said her illness was not induced by the fall, but certainly
hastened and aggravated thereby.

Maida dreaded the moment when returning consciousness should deprive
poor Lucy of her new-found parent. 'Mother! mother!' had been the
constant cry of delirium. A long and tranquil sleep had gradually
overcome the restless invalid, and Maida now knelt by the berth,
anxiously awaiting the result. She quite expected that Lucy's dream of
maternal proximity would end with the slumber, and was meditating how
she should allay the disappointment and revulsion of feeling towards
herself which must succeed, when she heard a suppressed sob.

It was from Lucy.

Whilst Maida knelt there absorbed in perplexity, little Grenlow opened
her eyes without turning her head, and for many minutes surveyed the
figure before her ere she could understand the mystery of the last
week; and who shall blame that young creature, of scarce fifteen
years, if tears from her very heart accompanied the recollection that
she was a felon--being transported beyond the seas for the frightful
crime of stealing five shillings!

She saw by the brown serge that the figure was that of a prisoner, but
what prisoner she knew not. She longed to read her future treatment in
the face; but the face was buried in the figure's hands.

Lucy longed and longed for perhaps thirty seconds; and then, unable to
bear further uncertainty, she stretched out her finger and touched
Maida's arm, but the face moved not. Shall we say that Maida Gwynnham,
the murderess, continued to hide her eyes because she had not courage
to meet a look of disappointment from a friendless child?

But the touch was repeated, and there was an imploring motion in it
that Maida could not resist. She withdrew her hands, feeling almost
guilty as she submitted her face to the earnest scrutiny of the two
widely-opened eyes up-gazing from the berth. The scrutiny seemed
satisfactory. Though denuded of Nature's best ornament, though
surrounded by a badge of shame in the prison-cap, there was nothing in
that countenance that the rarest beauty might not have envied--no
point that the most fastidious critic could have desired to rectify.

Gazing on that countenance, Lucy again dropped off to sleep--again to
awake; but this time with a smile--a smile that forced its way from
her grateful heart through an avenue of sighs and regrets. She raised
herself on one elbow, and extending her hand to Maida, whispered:

'Is it you that's been mother all along so kind?'

'I have tried to be, my child,' came the soft, meek answer.

And that proud spirit that had fortified itself against all pity,
reproach, or scorn, bent right down to meet a young girl's sorrow, and
became child-like in its show of grief.

When the Chaplain looked in at No. 107, to see how she fared, he saw
not only her asleep, but close beside her, face to face, another
slumberer, whose features, relaxed from their rigid coldness beneath
the genial rest, had lost their wonted sternness, and were full of
feeling. When Lucy had sufficiently recovered, she told Maida her
story--a story of simple pathos.

At fourteen she was a maid-of-all-work without wages, and was induced
by an artful woman, as a screen for her own pilferings, to 'borrow'
five shillings from her master's till, with the intention of replacing
it by instalments. She was detected, charged with the whole series of
robberies, and, as we have seen, transported.

Would that it were unique in the annals of youthful crime!



CHAPTER IX. MULGRAVE BATTERY AND 'THE LODGE'


'THERE'S a ship in sight, papa. Come, look at the flagstaff. Perhaps
'tis Uncle Herbert and cousins. Do let's go and see,' cried Charlie
Evelyn, the only son of Mr. Evelyn, senior, of Macquarie Street,
Hobart Town, brother of the Rev. Herbert Evelyn, whose acquaintance we
have already made. Two days before the above exclamation from Charlie,
Mr. Evelyn had received a letter from England announcing the immediate
return of his brother and niece to the land of their adoption. Since
then Charlie had kept a keen lookout towards Mulgrave Battery, whence
up-reared that herald of joy or woe, of hope or despair,--the
flagstaff.

Mr. Evelyn sprang to the window.

'So there is, my boy. Let us try to decipher the signal. There, now,
the kind wind has blown it straight out for us.'

'From the south! from the south!' shouted Charlie, frisking from the
window to the other side of the room, and thence back with a bound to
the window, as the flag displayed the red cross on a white ground.

'That's one go, at any rate,' said Mr. Evelyn, patting the curly head
of his little boy, who gloried in being a genuine 'gum tree,' and not
a stupid British oak.

Mr. Evelyn quietly reseated himself to a reperusal of the Courier,
while Charlie remained faithful to his post.

In a short time a second shout brought Mr. Evelyn again to the window,
and, with no less an interest than Charlie's, he watched the flag
being hauled down from the top-mast, and the ball running up to the
yard-arm.

'A brig; no, a ship!' cried Charlie, as the ball reached its
destination at No. 1, on the right.

'Two goes in the right direction,' said Mr. Evelyn, patting his
approval of Charlie's good memory.

A little more suspense, and down went the ball.

Charlie was too excited to announce the event, and Mr. Evelyn was too
busy to observe it. The flag was hoisted in the place of the ball.

'A beastly, stupid old prison ship!' exclaimed the child, in a tone of
extreme disgust, as the prison flag proclaimed fresh cargo of female
convicts, ex the Rose of Britain.

'Charlie, Charlie, what will Uncle Herbert say when he hears you use
such words? How would you like to have the vessel he comes by called
such names, eh, naughty boy?'

'Oh, papa,' answered the curly-headed, petticoated urchin, 'his ship
won't bring a lot more of those pests.'

Seeing a frown on his father's brow he apologised.

'Why, papa, Mr. Squire calls them pests. I don't mind 'em, though,
except when they come instead of dear uncle.'

Mr. Evelyn looked uneasily at him, and then, humming a tune, walked
backwards and forwards on the hearth-rug. He, as well as every other
Tasmanian parent had cause to feel uneasiness. His child breathed an
unhealthy moral atmosphere, how could he fail to become infected? It
was a constant strife between poison and antidote. Parental teachings
were undermined by subtle nursery influences. Lessons of morality and
piety, listened to with reverence on the mother's lap or father's
knee, were contradicted by the practices of convict life, so that
Charlie was puzzled to know which was the correct path--that commended
to him by precept, or that chosen by the multitude. In fact, he had to
decide between seeing and hearing. It was true, he was taught to look
on the prisoners as transgressors, suffering the penalty of their sin;
but when, instead of one or two individuals, he saw himself surrounded
by them at home and abroad he was very naturally led to consider them
a class born into the world to as inevitably fill its allotted
position as any other great division of the human race. Free--bond--
conveyed to his imagination only an idea of caste. Again, when he saw
all useful occupations engrossed by this class, he was convinced that
they were a very necessary and important people, without whose aid the
world could not exist. Two interjectional remarks made by him on
separate occasions will show his mental appreciation of this class.
When taken by his father to see some public work, which was just
receiving its finishing touches from convict labour, he admired in
silence for a long while, and then broke out:

'When I'm a prisoner, won't I build a beauty!'

And on being asked by a gentleman about to return to England if he
would like to go too, he made several objections. He could not leave
papa and mamma: there were no pretty parrots in England. But these
objections were left in the background by the insurmountable climax:

'Why there are no lots of prisoners in that country to do our work.
How could I go?'

These remarks were rewarded by a hearty laugh by all hearers save Mr.
Evelyn. His brow contracted a frown peculiar to himself, as he heard
in his child's voice the certain symptoms of moral disease.

'Oh, but he will grow out of such notions,' said one to the grieved
father on that occasion.

'I have not the least doubt of it, sir,' bitterly replied Mr Evelyn,
choosing to take the words literally, 'even as the flower grows out of
the seed. Notions produce the man not man the notions, I take it.'

'You take it too seriously, then, sir. Convictism is a great nuisance
per se; but,---me, if I don't incline to that young rogue's way of
thinking, and ask, What could we do without our convicts? Should we
ever have been what we are without them? Blessings in disguise, eh,
Mr. Evelyn? Blessings in Government livery--ha! ha! ha!'

'King John gave us our noble charter; but I query whether a perpetuity
of King Johns would be acceptable, Mr. Bruce.'

'Oh, don't mistake me. I'm not taking the rascals' part. I'd much
rather do without them; but,---me, if I see how. And, after all, more
is made of the evil than there is call for. I confess it's devilish
disgusting when a man leaves his office with a ramping appetite, and
runs home expecting a ready dinner, to find his wife sweltering over
the fire, making a hash, where a roast goose was promised, and the
cook lying drunk alongside her, or else gone off either with a
constable to the watch-house or to the bush; but, to my mind, with
such annoyances the evil ends. I hold the doctrine of original sin,
and believe that wickedness don't wait for convicts to put it into our
children's minds. The effects of the system are not so injuriously
extended.'

'They do not extend to our pies and puddings, certainly, except in
parallel cases to yours, sir; but there are dearer interests than
those of the palate to be considered,' quietly answered Mr. Evelyn.

'Well, do you prefer immigrants? My wife says, "Give me fifty
Government servants before you bring home one immigrant;" that is,
Government despatches, of course; private comers are well enough. A
viler or more useless set than the contents of an emigrant vessel
can't be, in my opinion. There is no managing them: they turn up their
noses at the convicts, very often their superiors, and give warning in
no time if they are spoken to, or can't perform a certain amount of
mischief unreproved.'

The speaker waited for an answer, but none came, and he proceeded--

'It is my opinion that Government inflicts a no less evil in pouring
on us ship-loads of paupers than in filling our land with convicts. My
wife's a witty woman, Mr. Evelyn, and she calls the one Prevention and
the other Cure. Then, say I, this black dose of Prevention is worse
than the yellow Cure; for in the former we have all the rascals
without that badge of rascality on them, by which we are licensed to
hold them in terror, eh, sir?'

'There is truth in what you say, Mr. Bruce; and when we remember that
emigration is a nation's expedient to provide for those who might
provide for themselves in a less respectable way, I do not see how
there should not be truth in it; but I am disposed to think that much
of our disappointment in emigrants, as a body, arises from an evil
existing in ourselves. We have hitherto been much as slaveholders. We
have had our fellow-creatures under our thumb; without our leave they
could neither turn, look, nor speak: to turn was to be refractory; to
look was to defy; to speak was to be insolent; and each of these sins
met its punishment. We have been served by slaves until we prefer
their abject servitude, and our despotic masterdom to the servitude of
men who have rights in common with us, and a strong will to assert
those rights. Having been long accustomed to the unresisting obedience
of the convict, we cannot brook the whys and wherefores of the free. I
wish you a very good morning, Mr. Bruce,' and, raising his hat, Mr.
Evelyn passed up Goulbourn Street before his statement could be
opposed.

Mr. Evelyn had fewer annoyances to complain of than many colonists.
Since his marriage he had been blessed with five good servants, four
men and one woman. Whether these men were 'good' from his treatment of
them, or from laudable reformatory desires in themselves, is for
future determination. One fact, however, is very sure, that neither of
the four were 'good' from rate of crime, for all were desperate
offenders. The woman had entered his service at sixteen years of age,
having been transported for boot-stealing. She remained with him until
she obtained her ticket; then, obedient to the prisoner's universal
yearning for his or her first act of comparative freedom, she gave her
master warning: the temptation was too inviting to resist. She changed
owners, and in a fortnight, deprived of her ticket, she became the
miserable habitant of a Cascades cell!

Little Charlie, a lovely specimen of infant Tasmania--a bright,
glowing, bouncing boy of six years--had imbibed as small an amount of
evil as possible from the moral contamination; but the amount was
small only in comparison.

Interspersed with the five good servants had many scores of hopeless
characters discomfited Mr. Evelyn's hearth and nursery. It was nothing
rare to Charlie to have three new nurses on three successive days; it
was no new thing for him to fall asleep under one woman's eye, and
awake under another's guardianship. He was accustomed to these changes
and chances, and thought lightly of them. He was accustomed to the
prison petticoats and calico caps--they were nothing to him. There was
no shudder when the constable marched off his nurse, he would skip to
the window to see the 'fun,' as from earliest days he had learnt to
designate the bearing away of some unfortunate convict. There was no
shudder when a new Anson expiree entered his nursery, clad in the
brown badge of crime; he would run to her, and clasping his chubby
arms round her legs, ask:

'What are you for?'

And then, if the crime did not equal his expectations, he would seem
vexed, and say:

'That isn't very bad! Why didn't you steal a lot?'

The expiree would laugh, and, winking to her sister convict, pronounce
the 'chap' 'a regular shiner.'

Had not immediate influence been at work from prisoners who took a
malignant pleasure in spoiling the handiwork of parental anxiety,
there was in the daily contact with crime an indirect influence as
baneful to the youthful mind. Moral sensibilities were imperceptibly
weakened by the unavoidable and familiar intercourse.

As we have seen, in Emmeline's case, there was a possibility of so
shielding a child, that it should grow up like a lily among thorns;
but such growing up was only to be insured by an utter self-abnegation
on the part of the parents, and a seclusion so strict on the part of
the child, that but few could endure it for the long years necessary
to ultimate success. The majority of Tasmanian parents being young,
feel it hard to make their marriage-life one of nun-like durance. Apt
to look on the bright side, they trust their children to convict
superintendence; they listen to the solicitations of the sunny sky or
pleasure-loving friends, and go forth to those enjoyments which are
considered the privilege of youth, and which are so alluringly
displayed in such a climate as Van Diemen's Land. A mother of five-
and-twenty, with six babies around her, is no uncommon sight. Such a
young mother will look piteously at you, and ask:

'Is it to be expected, now, that I am to be shut up with these
children all day long? I might as well be a prisoner at once.'

When you look at her witching eyes and form, and contrast them with
the careworn appearance of an anti-convict mother, you are disposed to
decide in her favour.

But when you look at the nursery during her absence, and behold the
six morsels of beings either terrified into unnatural quiet or
learning lessons of immorality, you are in favour of the gentle
parent, who, forgetting all but her offspring, wears out her prime of
days in sheltering them from erroneous preceptors.

One sentiment with which the convict evil infects immature principle
is one somewhat similar to that which intervenes between slaveholder
and slave--a feeling that appropriates to the Free the first attribute
of the verb, and throws the other two--Doing and Suffering--for the
special use of the Bond. Children imbibe this feeling from their
infancy; it grows with their growth, and strengthens with strength at
rapid paces. Without having the actual abhorrence of crime, or without
sharing the grievances which cause their elders to use the word
'convict' as a synonym for every opprobious epithet, they apply to
prisoners similar terms to those we heard from Charlie, merely as the
parrot repeats 'pretty Poll' after its human teacher. The sweetest
Christian in the island as unperturbedly announces that her woman has
got 'three months,' as an English mistress informs her visitor that
her servant has a holiday. A child hears, and draws his own conclusion
from the matter-of-fact statement.

Weary of watching the flagstaff, Charlie had fallen asleep on the
sofa, whilst his papa partook of an early dinner. Neither of the two,
therefore, observed that the pantomime was again exhibiting on
Mulgrave Battery, consequently they were both taken by surprise, a few
hours after, by a well-remembered voice: 'Stop, coachman, this is it--
"The Lodge!"' And in a moment more a cab drove up the gravelled path,
and it was the work of scarcely another minute to bring Mr. Evelyn
clean out of the window at a leap, and Mr. Herbert Evelyn from the
cab, into each other's hand-grasp; and a grasp it was! such a grasp as
only those may know who have experienced what it is to have eighteen
thousand miles of ocean rolling between them and their brothers.

By a natural attraction, Charlie bounded into Bridget's arms,
exclaiming:

'This is Cousin Bridget, I know.'

And as Bridget kissed and over-kissed the curly-headed beauty, she
felt she held a regular armful of roguery.

'This is cousin what I don't know, papa,' cried Charlie, glad that the
prolonged operation of hand-squeezing gave him the opportunity of
introducing Miss D'Urban to her uncle.

After a hearty kiss or two on her blooming cheek, Mr. Evelyn held
Bridget gently backwards, in order to take a fuller view of the half-
shy, half-smiling face that reciprocated his embrace.

'Why, Herbert, we haven't a rose that could beat this,' was the result
of the inspection.

Mr. Herbert smiled sadly, and, pointing to the cab where drooped his
daughter, he said:

'Ah, henceforward, I fear, we must exchange titles, and have the Lily
of Tasmania and the Rose of England, instead of vice versa. MY rose
has faded! But, George, you go in; I have promised poor Emmeline that
she shall be carried to her room to receive your welcome, here it
would overpower her too much for after removal.'

As Mr. Herbert Evelyn assisted his daughter up the veranda stairs, the
coachman came forward, and, reading permission in Bridget's good-
tempered face, asked:

'Sure, never, that isn't the same Miss Evelyn what went home, come
back in that unlikely fashion? the pride of her father as she was!'
and a tear twinkled in his eye. 'Me and my mates has blessed her a
thousand times, as she passed down along by his side; sometimes us
thought whether he didn't get some of his lovesome ways out of her,
only that he's natural good in hisself.'

'Who are your mates? Have you been a sailor?' said Bridget.

'Lord love you, miss! you'm a new hand, I guess. My mates is them what
I came over with, and them what was ganged with me. I'm Government,'
he added, seeing that Bridget still looked mystified.

'Ah, ah!' cried Charlie, clapping his hands; 'she don't know he is a
prisoner--they are all prisoners;' and the little fellow seemed to
enjoy his cousin's innocence, and so did the man, who chimed in, by
way of comforting the fresh arrival:

'Ah! she'll know all about it by-and-by; won't she, Master Charlie?'

'Won't she, that's all!' shouted Charlie, capering with delight, and
making a curious attempt to return the driver's sly wink.

'Just come from England, miss?' touching his cap. Bridget hardly knew
how to look.

'Somephin' in honour of Old England,' appealed the man, again touching
his cap with one hand, while the other performed a series of
gesticulations significant of giving and taking.

Bridget dropped a half-crown into his hand, which he received open-
mouthed and open-eyed.

'By Jingo, she'm a cracker!' he ejaculated, as he drove off.

'Oh, Charlie, how could you talk so before the poor creature? You
won't be my Charlie if you are so cruel!' cried Miss D'Urban, as soon
as the coachman was out of hearing.

'Oh! it's nothing being Gover'me't out here, cousin everybody nearly
is--I mean all the poor peoples; she's a prisoner, only she's just got
her clothes.' He pointed by way of illustration to a maid-servant, who
just then ran down the steps to relieve Bridget of her travelling-bag.

'Yes, ma'am, I'm Government,' bobbed the woman, without the slightest
tone of self-depreciation. 'I bought my clothes only last week, on
purpose for the master's company.'

'And I'm a gum-tree!' called Charlie, drawing himself to his utmost
height, in imitation of that straight, tall tree as he stood at the
top of the veranda, waiting for the others.

'Well, Bridgy, welcome to "The Lodge"!' exclaimed Mr. Evelyn, coming
forward to meet his niece. 'Though I've never seen these blooming
cheeks before, I think I am better acquainted with you than with any
of my nieces. Miss Em has sent on before, and taken a place for you in
my heart. A thousand welcomes to "The Lodge," and all its honours,
which have been accumulating for you since your aunt played truant,
and ran up the country to pay her annual visit, and introduce Miss
Baby to her maternal grandparents. The keys are waiting for you, and
doubtless also a few "kitchen rows," which I hear you have a special
gift in conciliating.'

'Oh, uncle! that's wicked Lionel! I'm sure dear Em would not have
written you such nonsense.'

'Albeit, I am apprised of the wholesome fact, and congratulate myself
that the remedy grows so near the disease. Now let me introduce you to
Hobart Town. Here, stand where you are, and look at the landscape.
Could England give you anything more lovely? There is our pride, the
Derwent, and there is our noble monument to our mother-country's hero,
Mount Wellington; it generally has clouds on its summit, but this
evening it has doffed them, to salute you, I suppose. There, straight
across the harbour, how exquisite is the light resting on those hills
retreating tier after tier, until the most distant seems to melt into
the sky!'

Mr. Evelyn thought Bridget was listening attentively to him. On
turning to her, he perceived her eyes were full of tears. Feelings she
had hoped to smother, on being noticed, increased beyond control.
Laying her head on her uncle's shoulder, she wept aloud.

Little Charlie slipped to her side, and, softly pulling her gown,
whispered:

'Are you crying at me, cousin? I'm so sorry.'

Without removing her head, Bridget drew the little penitent close to
her, while Mr. Evelyn replied:

'No, no, Charlie. Cousin Bridget is feeling very thankful to the dear,
good God who has brought her over the long, long sea to a country
quite as beautiful as her own England. We must let her cry a little
bit, persons are not always sorry when they weep, Charlie boy.'

Bridget looked up, and repaid Uncle Ev with one of her genuine smiles,
shining through her tears.

'It is very, very lovely,' at last said Bridget, 'but it hardly looks
foreign, or unlike England.'

'Nevertheless, it comes from forrin', as the sailor says. But what do
you mean by like England? I suppose you, with all the rest of the folk
at home, have always considered us a set of semi-barbarians. It is
very odd that people having brothers, sisters, and relations of
various orders in the Australian colonies, take so little trouble to
ascertain the real amount of civilization in these islands. The
notions formed of our mode of life are vague as those formed of
Timbuctoo. I answer for it, now, you expected a canoe rowed by savages
would conduct you from the vessel to Hobart Town, and then that you
would be knocked down once or twice by bushrangers, or be carried off
by boomers before you could reach my house, eh, Bridget?'

'Not quite so bad, uncle, but I must confess I had no expectation of
finding everything appear so English. I did not fancy you would all
look like semi-barbarians, as you say, but must plead to a few
misconceptions. I thought you would be dreadfully old-fashioned, and
that--'

'And that you would blaze amongst us a very comet of fashion,'
interrupted Uncle Ev, with a wicked smile.

Bridget blushed, too ingenuous to hide the girlish weakness. She said:

'I thought I should look better than other people, and be immediately
recognised as a new-comer by my dress. Having read advertisements in
the Times for cast-off clothes for Australia, I naturally--'

'Thought you might discover a few old friends out here,' again
interrupted Mr. Evelyn. 'But I can tell you, Miss D'Urban, the young
ladies out here make a fine to-do about those said advertisements.
There has been serious talk among them on the propriety of petitioning
the Home Government to introduce an Act, entitled "An Act for the
Suppression of Offensive Advertisements." As to dress, no doubt you
bring the newest fashion, seeing you are four months in advance of
your sisters Vandemonian. I query, though, whether you will not look
the quietest bird in Hobart Town until your home stock is worn out.
Hyde Park cannot outdress our ladies! They learn to copy nature--
unwittingly, perhaps, but not the less on that account. A style of
colouring that would be inharmonious in England blends with the ardent
hues of the southern world. In England the sober little sparrow, or
modest robin, teaches the befitting garment, here the parrot and
firetail flutter by on a sunbeam, and lead the fashion. Everything
here is bright and glowing, except the foliage.'

'The hills are not, papa,' interrupted Charlie.

'You have arrived at a happy season, Bridget. A month later, and the
dust and heat would have done their work on all that now claims the
title of verdant. The everbrowns bear jealous rule here; it has been
jocosely said, to help out the Government notion, that we are fated,
even by nature, to have the badge of crime in our midst! But I doubt
whether there is not a remedial aptness in the dusky foliage. Were the
hills and trees to be arrayed in vivid tints, there would be no relief
to the eye. Radiance above, around, and below would be oppressive.
Yonder, how exquisite is the wattle! Were that shower of gold to fall
upon a bright green, the effect would be to dazzle, instead of to
please, as now. Yonder again, the silver wattle, how fairy-like is the
delicate tinting, it gives more the idea of the pencil than the brush.
But to see the wattle to perfection, you must see it in moonlight,
when the beams shimmer through the branches, as though the feathery
leaves formed a plaything, and not a barrier.'

'Oh, I shall like it very much, and should be very happy now, if it
were not for poor Em,' sighed Bridget.

'Ah, poor Emmeline!' responded Uncle Ev, leading her into the house.
'How does Herbert bear it?'

'Like a Christian, Uncle Ev.'

'Very vague; there are two sorts of Christians.'

'Like Emmeline would if she were Uncle Herbert,' replied Bridget, with
much assurance of voice.

'Ah, that is satisfactory. Now, then, you enter the Lodge--very
barbaric, isn't it?' he quizzically asked, as the rich velvet-pile
carpet and yellow damask curtains met Bridget's astonished sight.

'Oh, it looks like a dear old friend,' cried Bridget, running over to
a small statuette of the Greek Slave that stood the simple and only
ornament of a side-table.

'Why, uncle, you've everything, just as we have at home.'

'Ay, and rather more than you have at home.'

This was said with an emphasis that made Miss D'Urban expect an
explanation; but uncle vouchsafed only a nod and a hum in reply, and
he walked out of the room, leaving her to a quiet survey of the
luxuries of a Van Diemen drawingroom.

'Please, miss, the master said as you'd like to be showed upstairs.
Everything's sixes and sevens, as the mistress is gone up country; but
then, to board anyhow that's on real ground's a blessing.'

The free-and-easy manner of the servant did not at all convey the idea
of prison taint. Bridget took for granted that this domestic certainly
was not a convict. Her dress was smart, and her appearance not
subdued, as had been that of all the others. She did not know that a
report had already represented her to the kitchen as a very proper
young lady, before whom abject airs were unnecessary. She followed
Nancy to an apartment that certainly displayed the want of a
mistress's eye. The bed and the rest of the furniture were as English
looking as could be, but there was an indescribable something in the
whole aspect of the chamber that seemed irreconcilable with English
comfort. The floor attracted her notice, perceiving which the sharp
attendant immediately exclaimed:

'Never fear; 'taint dirt, miss; it's the natural look of them boards;
all floorses looks dark out here--it's the wood itself.'

Miss D'Urban, disconcerted at having her thoughts thus read, cast her
eyes up far from the scene of her detection.

'Can't be helped, miss; 'twould be all the same if the mistress were
home; 'tis them beastly flies, everywhere a buzzing and pitching,'
again interrupted Nancy, as Bridget's sight involuntarily rested on
two pieces of tape nailed cross-wise through the ceiling--tape which
had originally been white, but now was nearly black.

Poor Bridget! where should she look from the Argus-eyed abigail, who
secretly enjoyed the stranger's discomfiture? On the wall? No, the
same fly-marks were thickly dotted on the pink wash, and the same
resolute observer exclaimed:

'It's the verminous beasts again, miss; there's no keeping the walls
clean for 'em. Lor! miss, they drops into the very tea you drinks,
them great, lazy, brown buzzers! and the milk! you should see it! if
it's left uncovered a minute, the vermints drops thick into it, so as
you can't see what's under 'em.'

Bridget could not wear a disconsolate countenance long; so after a
shrug of disgust she broke into a merry laugh which rang through the
room and right downstairs, and, as the summons of a silver bell,
brought little Charlie up to see what was the matter.

But it did not suit Nancy that the child should remain, so she
unceremoniously turned him out, and orl Bridget's looking--Why? the
servant's face drew to unwonted length.

'Why, miss, talking of them pests out here brings blessed old England
to my mind, and natural-like I feel sad.'

'Oh, don't let us speak of England just yet, I can hardly bear it;'
and Bridget's voice faltered in demonstration of the fact.

'Ah, if you can't bear it, miss, think of poor me, who's obliged to!
you came free to the colony!'

Bridget started, and, as if she had been guilty of a wanton reminder,
crimsoned to her very temples.

The woman understood both start and blush, and determined to reap
advantage from each. Shaking her head slowly and measuredly as the
toll of a funeral bell, she answered:

'Ah, the likes to you may well start--yes! I'm Government, been in the
place five years come Christmas--I've seen better days at home--' Here
she paused from emotion and Bridget, feeling cruel to her fingers'
ends, went over and laid her hand on her shoulder.

'I am very sorry! I did not mean to hurt you; I had no idea you were--
were--'

'A vile outcast!' finished Nancy--'say it out, miss, say it out--Nay-
ver mind, nay-ver mind'--with a slow up-and-down motion of the head
between each syllable--'you can't hurt me no more than I have been
hurted already--you didn't go for to do it.'

Bridget was ready to cry. More advantage still! Suddenly starting from
her apron, in which her face had been hidden, Nancy exclaimed,
clasping her hands:

'And how was the blessed old country looking? Haven't you never a
flower or token to give a poor prisoner to mind her of her home?'

'No,' said Bridget, uneasily scanning her packages as if she hoped
some compassionate spirit might forthwith cause a flower to spring
from the dry leathers.

'Ah, all these dear things came from home!' cried Nancy, spreading her
arms circuitously over the heap of boxes, etc., as if she would
pronounce a silent benediction on the lot. 'I could most fall down and
worship 'em, one and all.'

Bridget was now fairly crying--the time had arrived. With a
deprecatory smile, Nancy said:

'If you wouldn't think a poor prisoner bold, miss, I'd ask you if
you'd any old trifle to put me in thinking of the blessed country,
where once I lived as innocent as you--anything--an old dress you've
done with on the voyage--ladies never wears their sea things to shore,
the muggy feel of the vessel seems to cling to 'em; but they'd be
treasures to my poor heart: to look on 'em and think where they come
from would be worth a mint!'

In an instant Bridget had taken out and given to Nancy two gowns she
had half finished with, light glad to offer amends for the wounds she
had inflicted. The woman was making away with her prize when Mr.
Evelyn, senior entered to escort his niece to tea. In a loud angry
tone he demanded:

'How now, Nancy! have you been fooling this young lady? I guessed your
work directly I heard you were closeted with her. Give those dresses
back!'

'Uncle, uncle! indeed I gave them her; let her keep them for my sake,
do.'

'Let her keep them! yes, for the next half-hour.' There was an
inexplicable irony in the word keep, that made Bridget wonder.

Turning to Nancy, who stood cowed and lowly in the door, he nodded her
away with:

'To oblige the young lady you may keep them; but mind you do, that's
all.'

'I humbly thank you, sir,' dropped Nancy, denuded of all her former
non-convict air.

Mr. Evelyn tapped his feet impatiently, but managed to say without
impatience:

'Nancy, these tricks do not suit me.'

Bridget thought her uncle a most hard-hearted man. However, Mr.
Evelyn's manner had frightened her, so that she forbore to speak out
her thoughts.

But Uncle Ev guessed them in her vexed look, and said in a grave but
kind voice:

'You must learn a few practical lessons before you will be ready to
allow the necessity of scenes similar to that which has just passed
between Nancy and myself; those dresses will procure her a dram or two
before the night has expired, and by to-morrow you will have a chance
of meeting them in Goulbourn Street: keep a look-out for them
therefore--they are of so peculiar a pattern you cannot mistake them.'



CHAPTER X. THE PARACLETE.


WE have seen the signal hoisted on Mulgrave Battery--the signal that
spread a universal dissatisfaction through every free breast in Hobart
Town. As floated from the flagstaff that announcement that another
ship-load of sin was about to disgorge itself on Tasmanian shores, a
token also appeared to the captives on the transport. Yet no--though
seen by all, two only of the prisoners accepted it as a token. To
these two was it sent; to the others it was only a natural
circumstance.

The convicts were assembled on the decks--every eye strained itself
landward, every heart beat alternate throbs of hope, fear--fear, hope.
The sun shone gloriously down, when very high in the clear air a pure
white speck was seen floating on a long bright ray. It came nearer and
nearer, slowly descending, until, poising over the vessel and gently
fluttering its spotless wing, a silver-winged dove attracted the gaze
of all, and a deep hush of admiration fell on the hardest heart there.
Radiant in the sunlight, it seemed to rest a moment; then, gradually
ascending, a cloud, that had almost suddenly appeared, received the
wondrous creature out of their sight.

'It has gone into heaven,' mysteriously whispered Lucy Grenlow, as she
clung to Maida.

Maida spoke not--her eyes had followed the heavenly visitant, and now
that it had vanished from view she the more intently gazed on the
point at which it had disappeared. She longed to pierce the cloud and
trace the dove to its bright abode.

Partly awed by the expression of Maida's face, and partly solemnized
by the beautiful vision, Lucy remained silent for some time after her
first ejaculation; then, feeling that her companion's eyes (withdrawn
from the sky) were fixed on her, she said in a low voice:

'It seemed to come 'most on purpose for us.'

Maida blessed the kindly utterance which granted her a share in the
message: her own pride or humility would have forbidden her to claim a
part. Had she spoken she would have said 'for you' and not 'for us.'

'It's like the dove and peace of God that's on our church window at
home,' said Lucy, very reverently.

'I'm going below, Lucy, for a little while,' was Maida's only answer.

Following her to her quarters, we see her look around to assure
herself of solitude; we see her kneel and clasp her hands--one tear
steals from the closed lid and bears a weight of sorrow with it to the
ground. She takes her Bible from its shelf by her berth, and opens to
the fourth chapter of Philippians, and drawing a pencil line through
the margin of the seventh verse, she shuts the sacred volume, replaces
it upon the shelf, and joins her fellow-prisoners on the deck.



CHAPTER XI. UNCLE EV, AND UNCLE EV'S NOTIONS.


MR. EVELYN, senior, had been a police magistrate. Disgusted with the
duties of this office, he threw up his 500 per annum, choosing rather
moderate independence and liberty of conscience, than wealthy
dependence and slavery to the whims of every captious holder who chose
to send his servant before him. He termed the appointment the 'Wash-
tub Coveship,' once having heard himself called 'The Wash-tub Cove' by
a party of female prisoners whom he had just sentenced to the
Government Laundry. He had also been in the Executive, but weary of
the farce justice was obliged to play in dealing with men already
sentenced to the utmost rigour of secondary punishment--weary of the
solemn absurdities of judicial proceedings as then existing in Van
Diemen's Land--weary of the oft-recurring joke of dealing law to
outlaws, or of punishing convicts for falling into traps laid for them
by the neglect of their officers or the shortsightedness of senators--
weary of all these, Mr. Evelyn, senior, resigned his seat in the
Council.

He had seen a woman, who was already transported for life for
manslaughter, again committed amid the execration of the multitude for
a similar attempt in Hobart Town; and upon this woman, convicted of
her second crime, he had heard passed the original sentence of
transportation for life, so that while her former sin was still
unexpiated, her latter and aggravated guilt went wholly unpunished.
Glad that the poor wretch had yet a space afforded her for repentance
Mr. Evelyn was not one to cry shame on the judgment, but, generous as
were his feelings towards the murderess, he could not help casting a
somewhat jealous eye on the ill-accorded leniency when he paralleled
it with sentences he had known: sentences which, had they been
pronounced by the injured party, had been set down as the result of
implacable revenge--had they been passed by the voice of the people
had been attributed to excitement; but uttered neither by the
prosecutor nor by the populace, Mr. Evelyn had only to turn with a
blush from the bench where justice had dwindled to a heartless form.

But with his public life Mr. Evelyn did not abandon a career of
usefulness. Disgusted with the errors of judicial administration, and
deploring a system which could never be reformatory until reformation
commenced with itself he prepared himself to do what it would be well
if every reflecting man would do when disappointed in the performance
of acts of public benevolence, namely, to try how most effectually he
could serve the little circle drawn immediately around himself. The
result of such an effort could not fail to be happy in any homestead.
In one chiefly peopled by convicts, whose eyes literally turned more
anxiously toward their owner than the day-watchers toward the east,
the effort repaid itself in ways unthought of in English homes. Had
each colonist followed Mr. Evelyn's example, and exerted his influence
over the few convicts under his care, how materially had Government
been assisted in its weary plannings for the moral improvement of the
prisoner, and how unnecessary had been made the constant change of
system, which between the years 1838 and 1852 exhausted the patience
of State secretaries, annoyed the free, and oppressed the bond
population. Had each holder put his shoulder to this mighty plough,
with what comparative ease had Government directed it over the field
of evil! How had the assignment system realized both to the assigned
and the assignee the benefits it was reported to bestow; how had the
terrors of the 'worse than death' system been never needed, save to
intimidate the incorrigible few; and how had the nation's treasury
held yet within its purse the countless thousands wasted on the
probation system.

Mr. Evelyn did not advocate the influx of criminals to Van Diemen's
Land; he was as anxious for the promised removal of the penal badge as
any of his colonial brethren; but as a loyal subject and a responsible
being, he determined, not, as many others, to shun bond labour and
employ only free servants, but to take a willing share of the
imposition whilst waiting the fulfilment of the long-cherished and
oft-disappointed hope of every Tasmanian. He carried out his plan by
becoming owner of a succession of pass-holders with whose vices he
bore until they either yielded to his unflinching strictness, or
drained his power of endurance which power was of unusual stability
for one who drew it rather from the natural source of innate
superiority than from the fountain of all good and perfect gifts. As a
bachelor, he was not allowed a female prisoner, a deprivation he only
regretted for the pretext it afforded masters who, too indolent or too
incredulous to adopt his course of treatment, asserted that his
success in certain reform cases was mainly attributable to the absence
of corrupt female influence in his household.

Strictly subject to the penal regulations of the Comptroller General's
office, Mr. Evelyn was guided by a theory of his own in dealing with
his bond-servants. In selecting his men, he chose from those who were
reckoned 'The Troublesome Set.' Though not the worst by rule of
sentence or crime, the convicts of this order had frequently blacker
police rolls than their more guilty brethren. The latter with brazen
front and dilated nostril displayed a comparatively fair page, whilst
the former hung their heads before the words 'Stubborn,' 'Obdurate,'
'Disobedient,' denoting the superintendent's opinion of them.

Mr. Evelyn chose from this troublesome set, not from private pique, as
some supposed, nor from perversity, as was amiably hinted by others,
but because, according to his theory, the men comprising it were, with
exceptional cases, more objects of pity than of punishment, and fitter
for penitentiaries than for prisons. He divided this set into two
classes:--Involuntary offenders and contingent offenders. The
troublesomeness of the former arising from an inability to abstain
from whatever gratified their undeveloped moral appetites within the
narrow scope of captivity; whose prison life was only a dumb show of
what their free life had been; whose moral questionings extended no
further than that point which led the child to ask, 'May I do that?'
when her fingers were slapped for doing this.

Mr. Evelyn attributed the troublesomeness of the contingents to a
still smarting sense of degradation incompatible with penal
discipline. A round of punishments was, therefore, employed to coerce
them into a proper state of indifference.

'It is hard for a feller that longs to be an honest man again to take
kindly to things that comes easy to your born rogues, who tip their
noses and at it again,' said one of this class found by Mr. Herbert in
the cells. It appeared a strange oversight to Mr. Evelyn that such
offenders should be confounded with the common body of criminals, ana
herded in transportation with felons who, but for an adroitness worthy
of their calling, had years ago undergone the just reward of their
sins.

To these two classes themselves he by no means palliated their guilt,
nor censured its chastisement; but in his heart, by action, and by
official remonstrance, he charged with short-sightedness or blamed for
indolence that system which branded in one indelible infamy the poor
wretch pushed into evil by sudden temptation--the unthinking youth
hurried on by the impulse of a fatal moment, and the bold outlaw who
followed crime as his profession--mingling in one common condemnation
the low moral perceptions of Sam Tibbins and the perjured conscience
and guilty genius of Mark Knocklofty or Michael Howe.

Having, then, no family ties to divide his time and labours, Mr.
Evelyn engaged as many convicts as could find employment on his farm,
the average number employed at one time being ten. In the same number
of years, no fewer than two hundred prisoners passed through his
hands. Several of the involuntaries, as unable to bear the kinder,
though not less strict surveillance of their master, as the rigid
enforcements of the penal code, absconded at once from his service and
that restraint which, in accordance with his doctrine of mental
deficiency, he thought proper to impose. Oblivious of past suffering,
and unthinking of the future, these miserable beings would go off, to
be taken, perhaps, within a stone's throw of the farm, or, after a few
days' fasting in the bush, to deliver themselves up to Government for
re-imprisonment and increased punishment. Discouraging as were these
failures, they strengthened Mr. Evelyn's opinion of the
irresponsibility of this class, and of their fitness rather for the
mild coercion and competent control of the asylum, than for the
vengeance of the law. With others of this class Mr. Evelyn lost all
patience, and, after a few months' trial, he returned them to the
barracks. To run and not be weary in the race of well-doing is only
given to such an one as Mr. Herbert, who, starting not in his own
strength, looks to Him who promises to sustain His servants in their
moments of weakness and depression. When Mr. Evelyn sent these men
back to Government, he thought he had borne with them to the verge of
human endurance. It was not until some years later, when he watched
his brother's uncomplaining yet deeply-tried patience, that he learned
how far is the human standard of long-suffering beneath the Divine
rule, as laid down in Matt. xviii., or that he perceived how valuable
an ingredient is real and judicious piety in the administrative penal
process. With a third portion of the involuntary delinquents, he was
obliged to part for the benefit of his little community; they were so
thoroughly weak-minded as to become the scapegoats of the flock.

With the fourth section he was successful, and though afterwards
through temptation, or the negligence of less careful holders, some
relapsed into trouble, many repaid his toil by turning out inoffensive
and happy members of society; for, not possessing sufficient
sensitiveness to feel pain at loss of caste, they were only sensible
of a superiority over their bond brethren still remaining on the
Government books.

With the contingent offenders was Mr. Evelyn's grand result. But this
adjective must be taken comparatively (we do not pun on the degrees).
By those who would use it only to express hundreds it must not be
used; but by those who remember that the redemption of the soul is
precious, it may be uttered over the small band of prisoners rescued
by their master's efforts from the moral wreck of transportation.

With the majority of this class he found the hardening process had far
advanced--with some it had advanced beyond hope of recall: urged on by
shame, ridicule, misery, bad example, and severity, it had left its
victims 'as bad as they were made out to be.'

In a few the effect of indiscriminate treatment showed itself in
mental disease, which yielded neither to genial influence nor medical
advice. The moral energies could not arouse themselves from the shock
of their fall. Restoratives came too late; had they been applied at
first, when the whole head was sick and the whole heart faint, they
might have proved beneficial. But the judicial means resorted to
having been penal, and not suiting the case, had aggravated it into
madness or sunk it to imbecility. With such cases Mr. Evelyn could do
no more than see them safely housed in New Norfolk, to rave or drivel
out their life in the chief lunatic establishment of the Island.

With the remainder of the contingents was the reward of his exertions,
and the result before mentioned.

The moment they entered his service they were warned what they had to
expect if they deceived or disobeyed their master; on the other hand,
they were promised confidence, assistance, and forgetfulness of past
misconduct, if they endeavoured to deserve such indulgence. And
finding that neither warning nor promise was idle breath, an
understanding arose between them and their owner which wrought
advantageously to both. As servants, unless previously trained, or
very young, they were not often accessions to domestic comfort.

After a year or two the hostler may become a tolerable cook, but,
meanwhile, where shall the family dine? A ploughman in due season
learns the duties of a housemaid, but who attends to bedroom comforts,
or pays for breakages during the term of his apprenticeship?

The homely cottager who comes in to his rusty rasher by his snug
fireside knows nothing more of that rasher than that it once lived as
a pig, and now has been cooked by his 'missus.' He devours it, and the
rancid taste is orthodox; were it less rancid or less rusty, he would
be ready to cry out against witchcraft.

When, a transported felon across the seas, that cottager is told to
prepare his master's breakfast from the delicate sides of bacon
hanging in the pantry, he shakes his head and supposes that 'that
there bacon isn't tanned half enough for the master. See his missus's
at home, that's all! Why, 'tis as yaller as though he'd never growed
white!' And to the end of his servitude he shakes disapproval at the
goodly flitches, inly wishing that his 'missus' at home could get 'a
holt on 'em' to tan them so that a Christian could bear to look at
them. The rust of home has worked as deeply into his heart as the
touch of time into his wife's bacon, and he is too old to change his
way of thinking to please even a convict owner, but, fortunately that
holder is not one who will scarify his heart, to try if by that means
the canker of home longings may be eradicated.

The former blacksmith yearns for the roar of the mounting flame. In
his delight at again having fire beneath his rule, he sets his
master's kitchen chimney in a blaze, and whilst others rush to stop
the warm proceeding, he coolly answers:

'Never fear--'taint half a-roaring yet!'

But such extravagances were only sources of amusement to Mr. Evelyn in
his bachelor days. He knew that to get more efficient servants he must
go to a worse class of convict. And (apart from his benevolent motive
in hiring the contingents and involuntaries) he argued that the chief
difference between them and other servants was, in their mode of
dealing with their master's property. They spilled the ale, the others
drank it. They spoiled the dinner, the others stole it. They smashed
the china, the others sold it. They bruised the plate, the others
melted it. Therefore, as in either case his beer, dinner, china, and
plate were to meet an adverse fate, he would rather they should meet
it honourably from a pair of stupid hands, than in the form of
roguery.

But in after-years, when gentler social interests demanded his first
care, and the upspringing of a little family around him made it
imperative that servants' capabilities should be equal to household
requirements, he reversed his choice of convicts, and selected from
those whose crimes were of the worst kind: such men could generally
show the best police character.

Looking on punishment as one of the chances of their trade, they were
prepared, not only to bear it, but to make the best of it; therefore,
they passed their probation with fewer sentences than many who, as the
poor contingent said, could not take kindly to these things.

These men were apt and clever servants. It was singular to mark how
the extremities of London outlawry had sharpened their wits to
encounter the emergencies of private life. Often, when the master
turned in despair from some refractory item which refused to lend
itself to domestic necessity, the convict factotum, leering over his
spit, would exclaim:

'Bless you, sir, that's nothink of a pass; hand 'em over this way, and
he's done.'

Returning the refractory item, there would be a cunning twinkle in his
eye, which said plainly as any words:

'There, thank my former craft for that.'

Could such men oftener fall to holders of Mr. Evelyn's stamp, they
would not so often relapse into crime. Under such masters, it might be
with them as with those four of Mr. Evelyn's whose reformation,
commenced temporarily at first to save punishment, continued by way of
experiment to prove how it would answer in a remunerative point of
view; good sense deciding that it might be profitable to themselves,
they launched into reformation as they would into any other
speculation whose end was self-aggrandisement. Had they tried the
experiment under a master who only regarded them as engines of labour,
it might have failed; at once disgusting them and strengthening their
still secret opinion that 'honesty was not the best policy' for
rogues.

But Mr. Evelyn was very careful that the profit should be clear to the
sight of these arch speculators, or he well knew, accustomed as they
were to the subtle calculations of knavery, they would not cast in
their lot with honest men. In saying that Mr. Evelyn chose his men
from the worst set, the English reader must not suppose reference to
be made to that most unhappy class of all unhappy offenders, too aptly
designated, in colonial phraseology, 'Macquarie Harbour-dyed demons'
and 'Norfolk Island-made desperadoes.' With the Tasmanian reader there
is no fear of such a misapprehension; he knows too well that between
the worst set of the Launceston or Hobart Town barracks, and the worst
set of Macquarie Harbour or Norfolk Island, there exists a difference
as distinct as between the spirits in Hades and the spirits in the
place of torment. He knows too well that with a fearful significance,
and not in a wanton waste of imagination, has the entrance to the
former settlement been called 'The gates of hell,' and 'The devil's
tollgate,' whilst not less significantly is the latter still named
'The bottomless pit.'

These are places of which no one likes to speak, or only to speak in
that whisper that expresses 'thereby hangs a tale!' No one dares to
ask within hearing of a Government officer:

'Why is it said of Macquarie Harbour, "Whoever enters here must give
up all hope of heaven"? And of Norfolk Island, "Here a man's heart is
taken from him, and there is given him the heart of a brute"?'

How is it that these places, formed for special reformation have not
only failed in their purpose, but have been evil in their effect on
the felon, changing him from bad to worse from a state of furious
resistance to apathetic despair, from fear of death to hatred of life?

English hearers of the question cannot reply, Because you cannot
expect men of such character to amend under any treatment; or the
Tasmanian inquirer, unsatisfied, will ask, To what purpose then is all
this waste? Do we prepare for results which we do not expect? If we
anticipate no amendment, why all these appliances to meet it? The
harvestman sends not forth his reapers into a field from which he
looks for no grain. The implements of reform stare us in the face in
these penal settlements; punishment, therefore, cannot be the only
object of the mighty prisons.



CHAPTER XII. DOUBTS ON MORE SUBJECTS THAN ONE.


SEE all that is to be seen at the earliest opportunity, was Bridget's
practical maxim. She had no notion of waiting till ten o'clock, if her
curiosity might be satisfied at eight or six. She had seen an evening
in the antipodes; she now longed to see a morning. As yet no tokens of
semi-barbarism had come under her notice; but might not the darkness
have covered them? What might not the light of day reveal? She had
marked the sun go down with his wonted glory, no peculiarity
distinguishing his setting, save, perhaps, a deeper curtain of
radiance drawn upon his exit. But then the sun--who expects
peculiarities of him? Is he not the world's own sun, and not
exclusively Australia's? She retired to rest, determining to be up at
daybreak, in order to see how morning realities bore out evening
impressions, and how evening impressions bore on morning realities.

The wonder of being in a new world, the doubt that she had ever
existed in another, crossed and recrossed each other in her mind; and
when she tried to decide between them, a long line of moonlight shone
into the room and seemed to glide in between the wonder and the doubt,
playing fitfully on one, and then upon the other, making decision
still more difficult; then suddenly retreating it left a question upon
her soul, 'Is it all a dream?' and as the question came unallowed yet
irresistibly into her thoughts, a silvery acacia waved its feathery
branch, and cast a faint nodding shadow, which seemed in dumb show to
answer, 'Yes, a dream! a dream! dreamlike as this--vanishing--vanish'
and ere the word could finish, Bridget started up--her spirit full of
wonders and doubts, moonbeams and shadows--to ascertain what was dream
and what reality. The long line of light was not a dream, though
withdrawn from her room, for there it lay upon the lawn; and the
shadow? It was as much a reality as any shadow could be; for yonder
upgrew the feathery acacia still sending it forth in the wake of the
fickle beam. Her mental perplexity, nothing satisfied by the discovery
set itself to solve a host of other problems. What had wonders,
doubts, moonbeams, shadows, and dreams in common, that they should all
mingle in her thoughts? but problem brought on problem, until,
hopeless of fathoming the least, she exclaimed, 'It is so horrid not
to know what anything means.' But the cry brought no good fairy with
magic touch to arrange the tangled meshes into a fabric wherewith to
clothe her ideas in a presentable form. A moment more and one of
Bridget's own laughs aroused herself to consciousness of being neither
dream nor shadow, but a fair, well-proportioned substance lying snug
and warm in a more comfortable bed than she had known for four months,
whilst the self-same moon she had loved at home, and the bright cross
that she had learnt to love since it had first looked down on her from
southern skies, hung calm and beautiful just overhead, where she could
gaze on them without raising herself from her pillow. She then
bethought her of her laugh, and feared it had gone in to Emmeline; she
well knew what a tell-tale it would be. So she determined to follow it
on tip-toe to see what mischief it had done; noiselessly opening her
cousin's door, she peeped in, and saw Emmeline sitting up with an
anxious expression of countenance, as if listening to some uncommon
sound.

'Did I frighten you with my nocturne, Em, darling?' Emmeline only laid
her finger on her lip in reply. Then beckoning Bridget to her,
whispered:

'I feel rather uneasy. I have a vague sense of something wrong.'

'If it was a laugh that disturbed you, it was mine.'

'No, no; what I heard was hardly to be called a noise--it was more a
feeling than a sound--there!' and Emmeline again hushed with her
finger, and then pointed to a shadow which passed slowly across the
window.

"Tis the acacia!' cried Bridget in a tone of feigned mirth.

But no one can make merry under the influence of midnight whispers and
shadows; and though she firmly believed her assertion respecting the
acacia, she by no means relished the few steps she took towards the
window in order to prove the assertion. As she stood looking out on
the moonlit landscape, she observed a figure dart from behind a tall,
ghost-like gum-tree, and spring over the slip rail into an adjoining
paddock, where it vanished. She fancied she heard a window shut
upstairs, and then a repressed footstep in the room in which the
window seemed to be. With a presence of mind she would not have
exhibited ere her intimacy with Emmeline, she turned quietly round,
and said:

'You are nervous, perhaps, dear Em, after your fatigue and excitement.
I'll sit with you a little, as I am not inclined to sleep.'

Em silently acquiesced, for she, too, had observed the figure dart
away, her raised position giving her a side view of the lawn; but
appreciating Bridget's intended kindness, she forbore to reveal her
knowledge.

'It is all so new and strange, I can't sleep, Em. People ar'n't
disturbed like this every night in Van Diemen's Land, are they?'

'Like what?' asked Emmeline, smiling.

'Oh, fancying they hear noises and see shadows,' replied Bridget,
recollecting herself. 'I hate noises in the night, and fancying one
hears them is almost worse than really hearing; it makes one feel so
warm, and cold, and horrid.'

'I am not alarmed now, Bridget, I guess what has been going on.
Robbers take care not to leave their shadows behind them.'

A tap at the door interrupted her, and Nancy entered.

'A thousand pardons. I feared the dear lady might be affrighted if she
heard the queer-like steppings about, as have waked me up. I heard you
talking, so just came down to explain, that you needn't be frighted;
the loss is all mine--them nasty blackguards have runned off with them
two blessed gownds you gave me. I just hanged them up to get a bit of
the fust out of 'em, and, sure enough, they's gone! I felt unaisy-like
all to a sudden, as I laid in my bed. Fay! thought I, my blessed
gownds! I jumped out, and looked from the window just in time to see
'em walked off--the shabby brutes!'

'I am glad to see you bear your loss so well,' quietly replied
Emmeline. 'Mr. Evelyn will doubtless try to detect the thieves.'

'Thank you, miss; but I'm unwilling to fret the master about it. He's
too good to be troubled with prisoners' losses and crosses. We won't
say nothing to him, please, miss. It's the lot of all in this world.'

'Poor Nancy; I'm very sorry; perhaps I may be able to find you
something instead,' sympathized Miss D'Urban.

'Miss, you're altogether a saint! To think of the poor convict having
a friend like you in this troublesome world! But I won't break in no
longer on you, ladies. I shouldn't have done so at all, only I heard
you talking, and feared you were frightening yourselves, and might go
and wake the master; and I hadn't the heart to let you do that.'

'Thank you kindly, Nancy. Now do go; good-night,' said Bridget.

'Then the master need know nothing about it,' whispered Nancy, putting
her head in at the door.

Emmeline only gravely bowed her head, with a significant and grieved
expression.

'Why, Em,' cried Bridget, astonished at her silence, 'from the way you
used to speak of them, I thought you would be a very champion for the
poor prisoners.'

'Would that I could be! But, Bridget, you would not have me
championize their falsehoods?'

'Now I hope you are not going to make out that Nancy's story is
untrue. I shall hate this place if I have to doubt everyone's word.
What end would the poor thing have in pretending to lose her clothes?'

'It seems she has gained one end already, in the promise of a second
present; and I guess she has another; but ask Uncle Ev for
enlightenment on this subject.'

'Very well; and in the meantime, Miss Em, I beg of you to remember
your own favourite injunction: "Charity hopeth all things."'

Bridget was rather pleased than otherwise to have had so queer a sort
of night--it was next best to a decided adventure--and she was almost
on the point of commencing there and then her V. D. L. diary, with a
description of it, when hearing the watch-dog bark violently, she
jumped into bed and tired out with her long vigil was soon asleep, and
awoke not until the bright sun shining in through her uncurtained
windows startled her to the fact that she was already too late to see
how morning dawned in Tasmania, while Uncle Ev's cheerful whistle on
the lawn told her that the sun was not the only early riser.

Her first morning in another world! And such a morning! full of
fragrance, flowers, sunsmiles, and songs. Bridget stood in quiet
admiration, looking out on the prospect--now on the distant Derwent,
sparkling in its first moments of wakefulness--and then on the nearer
beauties of her uncle's pleasure-grounds--attracted now by the
thousand delicate tufts of the golden wattle, as it seemed to bow
towards her for the express purpose of welcoming her with its earliest
and freshest perfume, and then wondering if by any chance the tall,
stiff gum-tree could come down from its would-be stateliness, and bend
with the graceful wattle, but at the same time feeling quite satisfied
that the said gum-tree should remain unchanged; there was something
foreign in its gaunt, smooth, whitewashed-looking trunk, with its
eccentric ragged leaves overhanging it from the top, like an old-
fashioned umbrella of doubtful colour, torn into shreds. Since she had
come so far, it was only fair that some objects should reward her
expectations, by giving a touch of foreignness to the country. In the
midst of thus feeling and thinking, a commotion in the bushes, and a
sudden flight of birds thence to the fence, and from the fence back to
the bushes aroused a home-yearning in her breast, and made her
contradict her previous wish with a desire that nothing should be
foreign, but that everything should look as much like England as
possible: she then recollected to listen to the birds which, before
unnoticed, had been most jubilant--ever since the first streak of
light, and having listened, not critically, but as if entering into
the spirit of their joy, she exclaimed:

'Why, they do sing! at any rate as well as most of our English birds.'

'I was to tell you, miss, that Miss Evelyn sleeps, to prevent your
going and waking of her up,' spoke a voice that rather unceremoniously
disturbed Bridget in her dream of home.

'Who told you so, Pridham?' (The servant she had first seen.)

'The new Mr. Evelyn, miss; he said he'd peeped in and saw her fast
asleep--at least he didn't tell me to tell you, but I thought I'd
better--as I know'd you waited upon her like.'

'You are very kind and thoughtful, but you shouldn't say that my uncle
bade you come if he did not,' replied Bridget frightened at her
audacity in venturing a reproof.

'I beg pardon, miss, 'twasn't meant; please not to mention it to
master; really out here a poor girl gets into trouble 'fore she knows
where she is. I've had a month at the suds for less than that 'fore
now, not by he, though. I've not been here long enough to know his
ways; but they say he's harder upon fibs than anything; so I'm 'fraid
of my life at every word I speak to him--not knowing exactly what he
counts fibbing--but I knows what suds are pretty well!'

'And what are the suds, Pridham?'

'One of the factory works; the women hates it next worst to doing of
nothing.'

After a few moments' silence on Pridham's part, and uneasiness on
Bridget's, the former said:

'I've forgotten now what I came for. I mean, miss, next to telling
about the young lady; I wanted to put you on your guard against that
there Nancy--she's the dangerousest woman ever I came across--and all
the while she'd make a body believe she's innocent and after
peacemaking. The deceit of her is worth hearkening to. Them blessed
gowns! as she kept on about after you'd given 'em her--precious
blessed indeed--if they was blessed when she took hold of them, they
weren't blessed long after; but there, I don't want to set you up
against her, only just to put you on your guard when next you gives
away, to give where things will be valued. I don't speak for myself,
for I have just worked out a new gown for best, and be content with
this here brown one till next month, when I've worked out another for
mornings. The master isn't hard, though he's partic'lar.'

'What does it all mean? I have got into a hornet's nest indeed,'
thought Bridget, and with her natural dislike to the shadowy side of
life, she half wished herself home again: these were not the sort of
'kitchen rows' she professed to cure. With a mixture of real and
pretended impatience, she said:

'Well, really, I am tired of hearing of those gowns; I shall think
twice before I give any again.'

'Oh! I don't want to put you in that mind, anyhow; we all admires your
generosity, and hopes it won't be the last of it--it's only Nancy
there we're 'fraid of--trouble always comes out of what she lays hands
to; if trouble don't come out of them gowns, I'm--but there, I don't
want to say no more about 'em; only if you will be so good as to mind
if trouble does come, I haven't had a finger in it. I am so 'fraid
what the master 'll make out, though he isn't hard, only partic'lar;
and no wonder! out here we're obliged to suspect everybody, and if I'm
Gover'ment and says it, what must them as come out free say?'

'Pridham, I'm very sorry, but really I don't understand all this; it's
all strange to me yet. If I say or do anything to hurt anyone's
feelings, I shall be very grieved, and--'

It was now Pridham's turn to look mystified. What had she said about
hurt feelings or grieving? she had only wanted to turn the tide of
favour towards herself by closing it to Nancy; and also by making a
premature declaration of innocence to disclaim all share in trouble,
which with prisoner instinct she foresaw in 'them two blessed gowns.'
The convict always fears that which he cannot at once understand, lest
it should embody some new evil to himself and always mistrusts that
which he cannot immediately explain, lest it should be another means
of extending his punishment under pretext of ameliorating it. Though
the occasion was slight, this applied in the present case. Through the
prisoner instinct, terror quickly followed Pridham's misapprehension
of Miss D'Urban's words, and interpreted them into all manner of
scoldings, deprivations, and perhaps even the dreaded wash-tub; so
clasping her hands and bursting into tears, she besought Bridget 'not
to tell on her.'

'Oh! miss; I pray on you not to tell the master. I didn't mean for to
offend. 'Twasn't insolence, indeed; no it wasn't! Poor girls like me
gets into trouble 'fore they knows where they are. I knows I fibs
dreadful; but believe me, miss, I never finds out I have fibbed until
they tells me so, and punishes me for it. I will confess that I did
hint for you to give me something, so please to forgive me; but indeed
I never went for to grieve or hurt you like what you said. If Nancy
gets a hold on this, she'll make fine work against me out of it.'

The look of penitence and fright in the girl's face was pitiable in
the extreme. Bridget wondered still more what it all meant, and wished
herself home again with increased violence. Since promise of secrecy
seemed necessary to Pridham's happiness, she gave it her, though in
utter ignorance of what she was not to divulge as of what there could
be to divulge in the long addresses of the distressed damsel.

Thinking as despondingly of the future as it was possible for her
hopeful mind to think, Bridget descended to the breakfast-parlour,
where sat Uncle Herbert, lost in reverie and the comfortable cushions
of a large armchair. She had knelt by his side and kissed his hands
ere he perceived her.

'God bless you, my child, and make you a blessing in this strange
land! What think you of it? There is not a favourable report on your
face. You have not your wonted sunbeam there.'

'Oh! Uncle Herbert; I've been sad and pleased twenty times over since
I got up. First I was in raptures with the beautiful landscape over
the water; then I was sad to remember it wasn't home; then I fell in
love with that pretty yellow tree and with all the flowers--in fact
with everything; and then, one of the prisoner-servants came in, and
all my joy went in a moment. I hate seeing people miserable.'

      'Where every prospect pleases.

      And only man is vile,'

said Mr. Herbert Evelyn, rising, and drawing Bridget's arm into his.
'Your Uncle Ev has not returned yet; let us take a turn in the garden,
and talk all about it.'

'Not about the prisoners; oh! no; I vote we don't; to so horrid!
Really, whatever one says or does something comes out about those poor
creatures. I didn't think it would be at all like this, and directly I
arrived too.'

'Like what? Something has annoyed you, or you would not have had an
opportunity of comparing likenesses.'

'You mustn't laugh at me, or I shall get in a flutter and not be able
to explain myself.'

'I am in no laughing mood, my love. Go on, and tell me all you mean,
and what has happened.'

'I'm afraid I shall never be any use. When I think I've done something
right, it proves just the contrary. If I hadn't been quite new
yesterday, I am sure Uncle Ev would have given me a regular scolding
about those stupid gowns.'

'But, Bridget, you have not yet confided your disappointments to me,
nor told me where exists the difference between what you expected and
that which you find.'

'Naughty Uncle Herbert; you are determined to make me ashamed of
myself. As if I wasn't that long ago! Well, then, what I mean is this:
I did not expect that prisoners would so mix with us as they do in
every-day life, making us afraid to look or speak lest we should hurt
their feelings or get them punished. I knew there would be hundreds of
convicts, but thought they would be such dreadful creatures we should
only be shocked at them; and I thought there would be dreadful affrays
with them sometimes; but I never dreamt of such trumpery annoyances
coming out of the commonest sayings and doings, making one
uncomfortable in such curious ways. It will be wretched if it is
always going to be like this.'

'No, no; it is not always going to be like this. It will only be so
whilst Miss D'Urban is learning not to give gowns in exchange for
crocodile tears and Judas kisses,' exclaimed Uncle Ev, who, having
stabled his horse, had just entered a path of the garden, divided from
where his niece lingered by a tall hedge of sweetbriar and geranium
and he now stood opposite, yet concealed from her. Bridget did not yet
understand him, and still harbouring suspicions of his
hardheartedness, she felt half afraid that the suppressed scolding of
last night might be forthcoming now. But doubt decreased when an
instant after his well-whiskered, smiling face nodded to her through a
break in the hedge. He then jumped over a lower bush, and, coming to
her side, gave her so kind a welcome that she began to think she had
only just arrived.

'No, no, Miss Bridget; they are only trying it on. If nobody else
obeys Scripture, prisoners out here do. They work while it is called
to-day, before the night of experience frustrates their endeavours to
get what they want from a new-comer. When you are more up to their
ways, they'll leave you alone. In other words, when they've got what
they can out of you, they'll forget all their home conceits and
predilections.'

'But, uncle, it appears that so much is made out of nothing, just
because they are poor prisoners. It seems so very natural to me that
Nancy should be affected as she was, and--'

'Well, well, so it is: and something else as natural to convict
principle will follow the natural gift of those gowns, or I'm very
much mistaken.'

'Then you are mistaken! for they have both been stolen from her. Em
and I heard a noise in the night, and shortly after Nancy came in and
told us some rogues had taken them off the line and run away with
them.'

'And how much of that do you believe?' asked Mr. Evelyn.

'Why, George, I think it is only fair that she should believe it all.'

'On the principle, Let her believe while she can, and don't make a
sceptic of her before her time? Well, there is something in that; but
at the same time, is it not fair, for her own protection, to teach her
the grand cautionary axiom of Van Diemen's Land: "Believe every man a
rogue until you have proved him to be honest"--the antipodes of
English etiquette: "Every man is honest until he is proved a rogue"?'

'Thank you, uncle; the longer I defer learning that the better. But
what you say reminds me of a question Emmeline bade me ask. She says
Nancy had two ends in view in pretending she had lost the dresses; one
was the hope of getting another present, and the other you are to tell
me.'

'Well, the other I pronounce to be decidedly spiritual. Yes, no doubt
she had a spiritual end in view, eh! Herbert, does that suit you?'

A look of remonstrance was the clergyman's only answer; and when
Bridget's eye asked an explanation from Uncle Ev, he only nodded,
'Time will show,' and proceeded to conduct her to the house. When near
the veranda, he stopped.

'A word with you, Bridget. I am very careful how I express my opinion
of the convicts before my boy Charlie. He is a thorough little
specimen of all ears and eyes. Any point you want cleared up ask me
when the young rogue is out of hearing.'

A loud bell rang as soon as Mr. Evelyn's step sounded in the hall. Mr.
Herbert exclaimed:

'Ah! It's the voice of a dear old friend. Prayers, George, is it not?'

Uncle Ev nodded assent.

'Shall I commence? Where are the servants? Are they not coming?'

'No; I don't choose it,' promptly replied the elder brother, in a tone
which implied, Ask no questions.

Prayers being over, Charlie followed his cousin into the veranda, to
await the breakfast. As soon as he was beyond hearing, Mr. Evelyn
said:

'The truth is, Herbert, in not permitting my people to attend prayers,
I choose the less of two evils. During the ten years I devoted myself
to the prisoners, though I didn't deem it necessary to carry the
religious system so far as you, being a clergyman, are obliged to--'

'And wish to,' interposed Mr. Herbert.

'Well, and wish to--I allowed them all religious privileges that
seemed expedient. Now, being surrounded by a different class of
convicts, I find I cannot admit them to an indiscriminate use of the
family's religious services. I've tried to forego prejudices, but each
new trial only strengthens me in them; and I now think it little short
of mockery to call in the servants to prayers, knowing as I do that
most of them are living in open sin.'

'Papa, isn't breakfast ready?' cried Charlie, peeping in at the
window.

'What is the maid thinking about? It's a quarter to nine, and half-
past eight is the breakfast hour. Ring the bell, my boy.'

The child's entrance put a stop to the discussion, and brought
wholesome thoughts of physical requirements to the gentlemen's minds.
But the bell had to give three increasingly loud peals before one
answer could be obtained and that came from Pridham, not from cook.

'Please, sir, it's no doing of mine. I've tried to rouse her; she'm
reg'lar beastly down. I can't go nigh of her; she vows she'll see you
blasted 'fore she gets the breakfast, and she says she'll crack me if
I go for to get it.'

'Ah! ah! ah!' screamed Charlie, clapping his hands; 'what fun! Papa,
let me come too.'

'Go back, sir!' sternly answered the father, as he prepared to descend
to the kitchen; whilst a coarse song, in uproarious bursts, sounded
from below.

'What is the matter, Charlie?' eagerly inquired Bridget, feeling
frightened enough to be glad of even his small company.

'Oh! nothing. I s'pose she's intosticated. Hark! there's such a row; I
s'pose they're fighting.'

And off ran the little fellow to the head of the stairs. In a moment
he ran in again, his cheeks flushed with excitement.

'Come, Bridget, come. I can't see them, but I can hear.'

Pale with terror, poor innocent Bridget clung to the back of a chair;
but recollecting what Uncle Ev had said, she caught back Charlie, as
for the third time he was running out.

'Darling, come in; 'tisn't fit for you. What would papa say?'

'I don't care; I will, I will!' shouted the child, trying to get free
from his cousin's grasp.

'No, no; be my dear Charlie, and stay.'

'I won't; I don't want to be anybody's dear Charlie; I want to go down
and see it.'

When the two Mr. Evelyns reached the kitchen, they found the cook
sitting Turk-fashion on the floor, with a pipe in her mouth; a piece
of white tape tied her stunted locks in one matted bunch on the top of
her capless head; her dress was half on one side, and from the other
hung her prison jacket. Perceiving her master, she staggered to her
feet, and squared towards him.

'Come on, my hearty; them that wants their breakfist must fight for
it--as the dogs does.'

Another step towards them, and down she flounced--but not so as to
hurt herself; then came a torrent of abuse that made Mr. Herbert close
his eyes with pain, and Mr. Evelyn stamp in disgust.

'If you move from your place I'll souse you, so please sit still,' at
last said the latter, knowing that anger or disgust would be wasted on
the miserable being before him.

Thump, thump, thump, went her thick boots, in determination not to be
still, though she was obliged to keep her seat.

'I--s'pose--constable's coming?' she stammered.

'Presently,' answered Mr. Evelyn; 'and the less you rave now, the less
will be your punishment by-and-by.'

Mr. Herbert had remained a spectator only in case of violence.

'Have you sent for one?' he now whispered.

Mr. Evelyn nodded, and in another moment in walked a constable. He
went straight over to the woman, and began to drag her by her arms.
She set up a terrible howl, and offered what resistance lay in her
power.

'Leave her alone, sir,' commanded Mr. Evelyn, in his sternest voice.
'How often have I requested that, when a constable comes to my house,
he will perform his duty in a decent manner? Fetch a cab; the woman
does not go without.'

A cab having arrived, the man again commenced to drag the prisoner.
Mr. Evelyn again remonstrated, and assisted the poor wretch to the
vehicle.

'Now, remember: I'll never have a public spectacle made of such
degrading sights when they come from my house.'

'Stay, I'll go with her,' said Mr. Herbert; then, in an undertone: 'It
is not right she should be left to his tender mercies. I know him; he
should not be in his present position at all.'

The constable's heavy brow contracted extra surliness as the clergyman
stepped into the cab; but, unheedful of his anger, Mr. Herbert took
his seat by the loathsome, and now almost unconscious, object of his
solicitude, and, with his peculiar tact, commenced a conversation
irrelevant to the subject before them.

'Well, Bradley, it is a long time since we met. I have been in England
since then.'

No answer save a gruff 'Hum!'

'Have you received the news you were expecting from your wife, when I
took leave of you all? How is she now?'

'Gone to the devil, for all I care!'

'Indeed! I am sorry for that.' And Mr. Herbert turned his calm yet
searching eyes full into the rough, inquisitive, who-be-you? sort of
face, that jerked quickly towards him in answer to this unexpected
sympathy.

'Let it work,' thought Mr. Herbert. In a few moments he asked:

'Have you your ticket yet, Bradley?'

'No; nor never shall, if he can help it.'

'What, the old story! We must talk it over.'

Another silence, broken by Bradley.

'I have been in the boat's crew at Port Arthur since you went; got
down there for heaving a log at Bill Scroggins. It missed him, or I
should have swung for it, the magistrate said; but I'll have a heave
at he yet, for all that.'

The malicious tone and grin which accompanied this speech prevented
Mr. Herbert from noticing it; he knew it was said on purpose to annoy
him. It had ever been Bradley's delight to 'shock the parson's fine
notions.'

When Uncle Ev returned to the breakfastless breakfast table, he found
Charlie in a sulky fit, and Bridget trembling with the apprehension
that her ill-fated gift had had some what to do with the morning's
outbreak; she was, therefore much relieved when her uncle told her
that cook and Nancy were distinct personages.

'Oh, I am so glad! then Nancy is all right, and it has nothing to do
with--with--' she was too tired of the gowns to mention them even.

'I'm not quite so sure of that;' but seeing his niece's look of
vexation, whatever might have been his thoughts, Mr. Evelyn forbore to
say more. A fourth call of the bell brought Pridham, with a face full
of alarm--for what might not that bell portend to her?

'Let Nancy do what she can towards the breakfast; we must content
ourselves with toast this morning.'

'Please, sir, I can't wake Nancy--I've been tugging at her this long
time; she'm dead asleep,' whimpered Pridham.

The storm burst!--

'It's all a scheme, you are as bad as either of them; tell me all you
know of this; hide anything at your peril,' stamped Mr. Evelyn, having
controlled himself to the limit of his patience.

'I don't know nothing.'

'It's a lie, you do.'

'I don't know no more than that a man was here late last night a-
talking with Nancy, and that he took away a jar with 'im, and left
another.'

'You know a great deal more, and you tell me, directly.'

'How should a poor girl know everything, when she's 'fraid of getting
into trouble?'

'Nonsense--no humbug--go on.'

'When the man was gone, Nancy says, "Cook, them gowns smell awful
fusty-like; I think a night's airing would fresh 'em a bit." I saw her
wink to cook, and cook winked back to her; then when she came from
hanging them out-of-doors she shrugs her shoulders, and says:

'"I feel awful creamy like, and nervous to sleep alone."

'"Shall I sleep with you?" says I.'

'You had no business to offer that,' parenthesised her master.

'No, sir; I know it was wrong, but--'

'No humbug--go on.'

'"Why, no," says she: "you sleeps with the young un, 'twouldn't do for
you to change beds;" she winked to cook and didn't think I saw her, so
cook says: "My humble sarvices to you, Nancy, if you are ill. You'm
welcome to me for a bed-feller if you think the master won't hollor."

'"No, he'd say ne'er a word, when 'twas for sickness," and she winked
again.'

'So they slept together?'

'I s'pose as they did, sir.'

'Nonsense, you know they did, and you know all the rest; but as I've
heard enough for my purpose you may go.'

'There won't be no trouble for me, please, sir?'

'If I find you have spoken truth, and have had no further share in the
matter, I shall not punish you.'

'I haven't had no share at all.'

'Go--I don't choose to be answered; you took the share of not telling
me that they were planning for drink.'

All Pridham's fears of being charged with, and chastised for insolence
again bristled up, and she in proportion shrunk down. Humbling her
voice and attitude to the very lowest depths of servility, she whined:

'I didn't mean for to say it; telling of them things would be getting
into trouble, quite as bad as Government trouble.'

'I repeat--no nonsense, Pridham; remember, wherever you have lived out
before, you are now with a master who will not punish without reason.
Now, go into Nancy's room and search about for the jar and bring it to
me: don't touch the woman; then lock the door and give me the key.'

Pridham left to obey this order, feeling convinced of what before she
had only quoted from hearsay, namely, that the master wasn't hard,
though precious partic'lar.

'What, Charlie, you here? how often have I insisted on your leaving
the room when you see me engaged with the servants?' said Mr. Evelyn.

He was just at that point of irritation which vents itself on the
first object in its way; not even his child could escape.
Mortification also had a place in his feelings. He had arranged a
particularly nice breakfast to tempt Emmeline's weak appetite, and to
display to Bridget the amount of civilization attained in the colonial
culinary department and no meal at all was so Paddy-like a substitute,
that no wonder he was mortified. He had just sufficient self-control
left to prevent his giving the last prick of pain to Bridget, who was
already almost crying. He managed to say:

'I am very sorry, dear, that you should be so treated the first
morning; it's a poor welcome, but one you will get accustomed to.'

The afternoon was far advanced when Mr. Evelyn unlocked Nancy's door,
to see in what stage of recovery and repentance her long sleep had
left her. She had not been heard to move, but Mr. Evelyn attributed
her silence more to fear than to continued intoxication, and hoped
that reasonably protracted suspense might be a wholesome discipline to
her. He imagined her sitting most forlorn, and ready with fluent
sorrow against he should appear to inquire into her conduct; but the
draught which rushed on him, as he pushed open the door, extinguished
at once his imaginings, and suggested a picture of Nancy under
different circumstances, or rather suggested the thought that he was
likely to find no picture at all; a glance round the room confirmed
the latter suggestion.

She had bolted through the window!

A constable was immediately put on the track for her; but when the
evening closed in she had not been found.



CHAPTER XIII. A WALK ABOUT HOBART TOWN AND A TALK ABOUT THE TASMANIANS.


'THERE, Miss Bridget, how does your name look in print?' exclaimed
Uncle Ev, throwing down the Courier before his niece, that she might
see herself mentioned as one of the arrivals by the last vessel. 'Now,
then, no more retirement for you; make ready for the thousand and one
visitors ever prone to avail themselves of glowing advertisements of
prettily-named young ladies.'

'Oh! I am longing to see the first people that come. Lionel made such
fun of the folks in this colony. I can't fancy they will all be as
nice as you. The Hills, who came home, said the men could only talk
about cattle, so much so, that the bishop once preached on that text,
"Whose talk is of bullocks."'

'You shall make your own observations, Bridget before you hear my
opinion. There! it strikes me that alarming rat-tat is from my good
friend Dr. Lamb, so you have not long to delay your judgment; apropos
of doctors out here, if they differ from the home faculty in no other
respect, they do in treatment of their patients' nerves, inuring them
to shocks by the free use of the knocker.'

'Dr. and Mrs. Lamb and the Rev. Mr. Walkden,' announced Pridham.

'Right glad to see you back--Oh! but he isn't here, though. I was
expecting to see Mr. Herbert. How do, Evelyn? not the less glad to see
you. Your niece, I suppose? How do; welcome to Hobart Town. Miss
Evelyn! now don't move, I insist now--dear, dear, I am sorry to see
you back.'

All this was uttered before Mr. Evelyn could attempt an introduction,
so that formality was spared; a warm shake of the hand having already
taken-place between Bridget and the company. Uncle Herbert entered,
and caused a second round of congratulations, condolences, and down-
sittings, which over, Dr. Lamb turned to Bridget:

'How is the duke?'

'Which duke?'

'That noble fellow's namesake,' and Dr. Lamb pointed to Mount
Wellington.

Bridget looked confused. She did not know that he had been ill. Uncle
Herbert came to the rescue. 'He is failing, they say. I have the
latest news in the Times of the day we sailed. The paper is at your
service.'

'There has been a fresco found in Exeter Cathedral, I hear?' said Mr.
Walkden to Bridget.

Fresco! she knew nothing about it. Exeter was so far from London too.
'I beg your pardon?' she answered inquiringly.

'I hear there has been a great excitement in consequence of a fresco
recently discovered in Exeter Cathedral,' repeated Mr. Walkden.

Uncle Ev looked deliciously wicked, and watched for her reply; but his
brother, more compassionate, relieved Bridget by entering on the
subject with Mr. Walkden.

'How do you like what you have seen of this country, Miss D'Urban?'
asked Dr. Lamb.

'Very much; but I do not think I shall like being here, everything is
so different from home.'

Mrs. Lamb, who was sitting by Emmeline, here bent eagerly forward. Mr.
Evelyn seemed in a fidget, and Emmeline manoeuvred to send her cousin
an admonitory glance. Had not Dr. Lamb good-naturedly turned the
subject, there is no knowing what offence Rattle might have given.

'I like them amazingly,' cried Bridget, as the door closed on the
visitors; 'and as for that Dr. Lamb, I'm in love with him. There in an
un-English frankness about him, whilst there is no want of English
politeness.'

'Well, Bridgy, I'm glad you approve of Dr. Lamb, he is physician-
general to this house; and next week he commences with Em, eh,
Herbert?'

Mr. Herbert only answered by a look at Emmeline.

'As you please, papa,' she responded, as much with her sweet smile as
by word.

'Mamma declared she would never trust a child of hers to a colonial
doctor,' whispered Bridget.

'Your mother says a great many foolish things,' rapped from Uncle Ev,
ere he was aware. On meeting his brother's look of disapprobation, he
added: 'Well, I haven't patience with such foolery! I'd back Lamb with
any living doctor In surgery he is worthy of being called the
Tasmanian Liston. He has great advantage over his English M.D.
brethren, for professional etiquette allows him free practice in all
branches, surgical and medical, and his appointment at the Prisoners'
Hospital affords him ample scope therein.'

'Is he a real M.D., uncle?' asked Emmeline.

'Yes, one of the few truly bearing the title. License, which I suppose
we may call poetic, honours all practitioners out here with the Dr.
prefix, from the proprietor of the Medical Hall, Elizabeth Street, to
the senior physician in her Majesty's service. It's fair, too,
perhaps, that the one sharing the profit, the other should share the
title. But a word with you whilst I think of it, Miss D'Urban.'

Bridget was all attention.

'If you would avoid giving offence, you must be careful not to express
too ready, unless a favourable opinion of the colony; and be still
more careful not to draw comparisons between the mother-country and
this; and when in mixed company be most careful not to allude to
convicts, lest there should be a convict's son or grandson present. Up
country several of the most flourishing families are of doubtful
origin. There is no published code; but I believe these, with a few
others, are the accepted rules of polite society in Tasmanian, or
indeed, in Australian life.'

'I shall accept them and be in polite life then, for I hate hurting
people's feelings, whether they are free or prisoners,' said Bridget.

'It is a colonial supposition that prisoners have no feelings, and a
Government assumption that they ought to have none, save those known
as physical.'

'Oh! Uncle Ev, you are joking again; now isn't he, Uncle Herbert? I
can always believe what you say.'

'Not wholly, I fear. The supposition is practically expressed.'

'Then I shall hate to hurt them more than ever, that I shall.'

'Speaking of hatred brings to my mind a fearful impersonation of that
passion that I once saw in one of the Norfolk Island mutineers. I
never hear hatred spoken of, but his awful form presents itself to me.
You remember Macguire, George?' inquired Mr. Herbert.

'Much against my will, I do; but how is it? every topic turns to
convictism in some shape. The cloven foot is sure to peep out from
every possible corner.'

'Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. How should it
not be so, when the evil is in our very midst, outraging our feelings,
exciting our sympathies, imploring our energies, and inviting our
prayers?'

'There, Uncle Ev,' exclaimed Bridget, who had been writing in her
diary, 'I've made notes of your rules to send home to Mr. Lionel. You
must take care how you behave, for everything goes down in this
journal.'

'Let's see;' and Mr. Evelyn took the book, added a few lines to it,
and gave it back to his niece, saying, 'There, read that.'

Bridget read:

'Rule Four--Never apply the term Colonial to anything but produce.
Example: Never say of a young lady--She is quite colonial; nor of any
domestic arrangement--It is so colonial. Reason: Though patriotic to a
high degree, all colonists aspire to English thoughts, manners, and
habits. Whilst COLONIST is a title which makes the honest settler
proud, COLONIAL is an epithet obnoxious to his hardy sons, and one
over which his pretty daughters pout.'

'Now then, Miss D'Urban, observe rule four, if you wish to keep a
clear account with the natives (don't alarm yourself, I don't mean
aborigines). When you wish to gain a crusty matron's heart or please a
young husband, say of his wife or the mother's daughter, "Dear me! I
quite thought she was English--she is not at all colonial!" and all
crustiness will crumble into the confidence--"Ah, but my daughter has
not been exposed to colonial influence;" while connubial bliss,
beaming thrice blessed, will simper the assurance, "My wife, though
born in the colony, is quite English in all her notions." The lordly
squatter who only an hour before boxed his son's ears for calling
England his home, vaunts to the stranger who claims his hospitality--
"My place is so English you'll think yourself at home when I take you
round it. There, sir, isn't that English?" The native who to-day raves
against the tyranny of Government in turning his beloved country into
a moral pest-house, to-morrow mentions his cherished hope of laying
his bones beneath British mould. Why, Charlie there, who now glories
in being a genuine gum-tree, will by-and-by fight the school-fellow
that calls him colonial, won't you, Charlie, boy?'

'What fun! but the colonists don't say such things amongst themselves,
do they, uncle? but only when they are with what Uncle Herbert names
Anglo-Tasmanians.'

'Don't they, though? Go up country with me, Miss Bridget, and hear two
heads of families talk of some new family just settled near them, and
you will find that "colonial" is an adjective as objectionably applied
amongst themselves as in intercourse with us. In short, colonialism is
a sort of national bogie, with which parents frighten their children
into good manners, and themselves into domestic proprieties, as
perpetrated in England. But you are not off yet, Herbert? You'll stay
for lunch?'

'I have engaged to be at the Comptroller-General's office by one
o'clock, and at two the Governor has promised me an interview. I long
to get back to my work, and am, therefore, glad of an early
appointment with Sir William.'

'Had not Bridget better go with you, when you pay your formal respects
to Government House? She can hardly wait for her aunt, or she'll miss
the ball.'

Uncle Herbert seemed to think that would not be very much to miss.

'I shall not call there now. I met Lady Denman yesterday, and walked
back with her to shake hands with Sir William. It was then that his
Excellency fixed to meet me to-day. By-the-by, Emmeline, Lady Denman
sends her love to you. She says she will not forget your penchant for
strawberries, when hers ripen. She hopes to gather her first on
Christmas-day. Her ladyship was most friendly, and knowing of Clara's
absence, charged me to tell you George, to bring Bridget to see her,
without the usual ceremony.'

'Nevertheless, I shall keep to the code, for fear Mr. A. D. C., not
seeing Miss D'Urban's name, should forget the existence of such a
person, and that would disappoint me as much as herself. I am quite
impatient to see how she looks in the smart gown I know she has
somewhere stowed away for this very ball, eh! Bridget, confess?'

'Be quiet, knowing everything, you Uncle Ev! Well, I do own to such a
dress--and a beauty it is too; far better than any I should have had
at home; indeed, all my things are prettier than any I ever had
before.'

'Now, Miss Fivewits, shall you be ready after lunch to pay your
devoirs to the lady governess of the island, by writing your name in
her vice-majesty's book? Having performed that ceremony, I don't know
that we will not dispense with the further etiquette of not seeing
her, and according to her own suggestion, find our way to her drawing-
room. If you are a loyal subject, you will be in love with her; she is
so like the queen; put her in a state-carriage, and drive her in
Windsor Park, and she'd be our sovereign forthwith. I don't remember,
though, whether her majesty is shortsighted? Lady Denman is supremely
so, for which interesting defect the opticians of Van Diemen's Land
owe her a special debt of gratitude. Ah, yes! that's well recollected;
you must have an eye-glass, my dear, out of politeness to Lady Denman.
Good society has adopted one since her ladyship's sight failed her.'

'Good society! Wouldn't mamma laugh! She says society here cannot be
worth much, because no one would leave England, unless obliged to.'

'Miss D'Urban, for instance. But your mother has made many mistakes in
regard to this place. The present is only one of a whole chapter of
blunders which she and a hundred other idle folk are content to remain
in rather than trouble themselves to bring their opinion to the test
of facts. My sister has made no greater error than that which you have
just repeated.'

'Now, surely, Uncle Ev, you are not going to make out that society
here is as good as it is at home?'

'That depends. When the Lady Geraldine Manners comes out, she may feel
at a loss for a companion; or the Duchess of Sutherland might return
for want of an equal; but Mrs. D'Urbans and Mrs. Caldridges may come
without end; they will meet their equals, and very often their
superiors, in everyday society here. Place Hobart Town by any town at
home; canvass the inhabitants of each, and compare results; then see
if we cannot fairly establish a claim for equality. In the English
town, rolling by in their father's equipage, the daughters of a well-
fee'd physician head the elite, and make the surgeon's daughter
jealous. Here the young wife of a Government officer presides over the
mysteries of the Government clique, while the banker's family shines
pole-star to professional fashion. We must not include the military in
either census, for they are the same everywhere, adding to the gaiety,
if not to the glory, of a town. Here, though, the 99th has been so
long settled, that it has married down into parental soberness, and so
become bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh, that we shall feel it
when they are ordered elsewhere. In the English town the wife of a
retired naval captain leads the decorums of the religious world, and
stands placard pillar to all solemnities. Here the bishop's wife as
ably, and far more appropriately, officiates for the piously
inclined.'

'I think you are very hard on poor mamma, uncle.'

'I haven't patience with such idleness in persons who have had
relations in the Australias for years; to sit still in contented
ignorance of the state of their friends (ignorance which they would be
ashamed to acknowledge of a foreign country) is unpardonable, I
think.'

'But uncle, it is not only mamma who says such things. The Hills spoke
against Tasmania, and the two Mr. Joneses, who came back just before
we left England, spread an evil report. They said it was a horrid
place, and that the people were rich and rough, caring for no one but
themselves, and unable to appreciate quiet worth.'

'Well, well, I suppose we must plead guilty to the charge of the
Messrs. Jones. We were unable to appreciate them according to the high
standard of appreciation they set upon themselves. They, with hundreds
of discarded claimants for British patronage, abjured their native
land, thinking they had only to fix their colonial locality, and
Caesar's message to the Roman senate would be their motto. They
arrived, and were disappointed. They found that the refuse of the
professional roll, or the plucked candidates for academic honours,
were not more acceptable here than at home. They learned the
wholesome, though distasteful lesson, that Tasmania wants not such men
as they, but earnest, intelligent men, who forswear England, not
because they are too stupid to advance there, but because others have
entered and won the field before them. The shipment of bad goods to
the colony is a practical joke that Britain--legal, commercial, and
parental--is very fond of playing. But ours is a case of Jones versus
Tasmanian society in its generally accepted sense, and not of Jones
versus colonial immigration. But I expect Miss Bridget regrets having
brought forward those worthy gentlemen.'

'Oh dear no! I enjoy your lectures, Uncle Ev, when you don't get
fierce.'

'Our drawing-rooms may vie with the luxuries of a British home,' he
resumed; 'but whilst we are subject to such disturbances as those you
witnessed on your arrival the sanctuary of our inner life cannot
compare with English comforts. The visitor who admires his smiling
hostess, sees her not when she merges into the distracted housewife
finding one of her servants has absconded to save the penalty of an
expensive breakage, and the other is lying drunk along the kitchen
floor. When that gentleman in his turn becomes the host, he knows not
that his lively guest will leave him to become the despairing mother,
for during her absence her babe has been drugged with opium by her
convict nurse, and it is doubtful whether it will ever awake from its
profound sleep.'

'Oh! now, Uncle Ev, I'm sure you are taking barrister's privilege, and
making a great deal out of nothing.'

'You doubt me? What do you think of that rogue Master Charles? His
favourite game is trying to simulate intoxication. After that affair
with Nancy, I caught him going over it in the nursery. Pridham was
acting Nancy; and there was he roaring it away in imitation of me.
When I told him to stop he seemed quite aggrieved, and begged me to
wait, 'cause the constable was coming in a minute, and then 'twould be
such fun.'

Mr. Evelyn here walked abruptly from his niece--a courtesy that
generally concluded all convict discourses.

'Well, I think Uncle Ev is a very funny man: he won't let me speak
against the place, and yet he rails unsparingly at it,' said Bridget,
proceeding to clear the table for Pridham, who brought in the lunch-
tray.

'No, no, Bridgy; he rails neither at place nor people: he only
deplores, as everyone must, the system which makes the latter unhappy,
and the former an unsuitable abode for children.'

'Well, I think it is very wicked to hate the poor convicts. They can't
help being here: they must go where they are sent.'

She was delighted that she had at last puzzled Emmeline; but Miss
Evelyn only waited until she became more serious to answer.

Uncle Ev's quick step in the veranda, and he entered, beaming and
bright as the day itself.

'What do you think of this for a fine December day? rather too warm
for wool, isn't it? Our Midsummer Christmases are charmingly defiant
of Thomson's "Seasons," are they not? And yet it's very odd; for all
the evidences of the five senses you can't get folks to divest
themselves of the mother-country's poetic associations. I suppose they
won't, until the British blood becomes too infinitesimal for even
homoeopathic discovery.'

Bridget jumped up, and soon forgot the convict turmoil in the beauties
of a large nosegay of roses, which Uncle Ev had thrown towards her.

'Now then, peer about for your gowns,' said Mr. Evelyn, as he shut the
garden-gate and offered Bridget his arm to escort her to Government
House.

'Oh, Charlie, Charlie! come, quick, look at that funny man. It's a
juggler, isn't it, uncle?'

Charlie came running back to see the funny man, but he looked about in
vain, until his cousin pointed to a man dressed in a piebald suit of
yellow and blue.

'Oh, you stupid! he's a prisoner: couldn't you see that in a minute? I
s'pose he's a 'sconder, because the constable's got a big gun to shoot
him if he isn't good. Ah! ah! ah! what a stupid, Bridget, not to know
a prisoner when he's got chains on his feet and hands.'

This little fact had escaped her notice, the grotesque dress and
leathern cap having absorbed her attention. As the man passed by, the
Broad Arrow on his back showed itself--symbolic alike of Government's
claim on the body, and the Evil One's claim on the soul of the poor
sinner. Bridget felt half frightened, and clung to her uncle's arm as
the man raised his head and gave her a sullen side-glance.

'Run on Charlie boy, and find out something better than that to show
your cousin.'

Off ran the child, nothing doubting of his father's convict
inclinations.

'Oh! I'll show her a lot presently.'

And, true to his word, on turning into the next street he exclaimed:

'There's a whole gang of them--everyone prisoners.'

He pointed to a party of men, chained and similarly dressed to the
piebald they had just passed. Some of the men were working in the
road, others drawing carts of stones, and others, more heavily ironed,
were assisting their mates by various lesser services.

'Don't fear, Bridget,' whispered Uncle Ev, feeling her arm tremble;
'just follow me whilst I lift the child over this quagmire.'

She picked her path across the broken ground, hardly venturing to turn
her head, lest the men should think she was staring at them; but no
reciprocal delicacy possessed the gang, for they one and all rested on
their spades to gaze at her, and two nearer to her than the others
nudged each other, and then the nearest approached quickly yet
stealthily, and muttered something which she could not understand, but
she fancied it sounded like--'Give us a fig.' She hastened forward in
spite of the mud; the gang dropped back demurely to their work, for
the overseer came round.

Mr. Evelyn laughed as Bridget caught hold of his arm.

'Oh, uncle! they spoke to me:' she was too alarmed to say more.

'Well, they do not seem to have hurt you very much. What did they want
of you? something very innocent, I'll dare answer.'

'I couldn't make out what they said; it sounded like "a fig"
something.'

'They thought your greenness betokened figs, or, in plain language,
tobacco. "A fig of baccy" is the humble form of request; it is left to
the donor's generosity to understand it more munificently. But do you
know that you might get those men punished for speaking to you, if you
were mischievously inclined? Had the overseer heard them, a few days
of solitary would have been the consequence; it's astonishing what the
poor fellows will risk for tobacco. Here we are at Government House;
allow me to introduce you to the abode of vice-royalty.'

Bridget laughed as the lowly wooden building presented itself to
receive her homage.

'What a queen-like residence!'

'It's a pretty cottage; but as the allotted dwelling of his Excellency
a scandal to Tasmania--a scandal that is kept in company by the
handsome pension of twelve pounds a year wherewith Government rewards
Buckley for his valuable services to Australia. However, Government
House is more comfortable within than stately without.'

The call of ceremony being over, and Lady Denman not being at home to
receive their friendly visit, Mr. Evelyn proposed a stroll through the
principal streets.

'Do you perceive how the habits and arrangements of London are
followed in public life here? The street-cries are perpetuated. The
cabmen are so determined to carry out the usages of their fraternity
that they even imitate their metropolitan brethren in a strike for
higher fares. See that rank of cabs: there is no heavy country driver
asleep on his box whilst the passenger gets into his neighbour's cab;
all is animation and show of arms, as each one asserts his peculiar
readiness to "take you in" in more ways than one. A wink would bring
half a dozen babblers to your side.

'The incongruous medley of shops, rich and poor together, is London-
like. Butcher, baker, grocer, all appear to have served their
apprenticeship in the capital; the cut of the meat, the shape of the
bread, the adulteration of the groceries, are in dutiful or unintended
remembrance of Cockney education.'

'Are all the tradespeople of London origin that it should be so,
uncle?'

'By no means. Trades from every part of Britain have settled here.
Every county has its representative, every provincial custom its
follower. Every grade and every phase of English life meet out here.
It is probably this very amalgamation that reproduces the English
metropolis.

'To the same cause may be attributed the freedom from peculiarity in
the tone and pronunciation of the natives. As children they have no
opportunity to contract the nasal twang or gutturals of any particular
province; by the constant change of servants, and from an intercourse
with a diversity of accents, they are preserved from fixing on any one
peculiarity. The Irish brogue heard to day is to-morrow changed for
the broad Scotch accent; the Devonshire drawl soon forgotten in the
London affectation; the Somersetshire z's are lost in the Yorkshire
oo's. If you have not already remarked it, you cannot fail shortly to
note how very well the common children speak, even where the parents
set them no good pronunciative example.'

A party of children passed by, and as their speech was in bold
defiance of Mr. Evelyn's assertion, Bridget looked up rather
quizzically at her uncle, who said:

'Of course I do not refer to fresh importations: they have to unlearn
home acquirements: I allude to the genuine born or bred Tasmanian. As
yet the Australian colonies have given but few contributions to their
mother-tongue; doubtless in time they will compile an appendix
descriptive of their habits and modes of life. Already the
characteristics of a new life begin to develop, and in another
generation they will arrange themselves into distinct features. Well,
what do you think of Hobart Town? This is about the best part of the
city. Look at these houses; they certainly want the substantiality of
English buildings; but as to appearance, what could excel them? In
some streets relics of the infant aspirations of the first settlers
are still to be seen in the form of ground-floor cottages and make-do
dwellings; but these only serve to demonstrate the fact that we have
put away childish things. The architectural fault now seems to partake
of that which is incident to youth. The houses uprear themselves with
a speed that suggests instability: and too often a draughty door or
shrunken skirting-board intimates that nest time the timber might with
advantage, be better seasoned. Whether from the elasticity imparted by
the climate, or from the owner's hurry to have a roof over his head,
it is certain that structures are raised from foundation to garret
with an amazing rapidity. Here a house is planned, built, and
inhabited before a similar one at home has passed from the builder's
hands.'

But Bridget was tired, and did not appear to care about timber,
seasoned or unseasoned. In answer to her repressed yawn, Mr. Evelyn
said:

'Come then, let us home! to-morrow we will explore Newtown; its
beautiful villas and tasteful gardens will repay research, and atone
for the dulness of to-day's expedition.'

'Oh, uncle, I'm only too surprised to express pleasure; I had no idea
there would be such beautiful places here. And as to the shops--people
wouldn't make so great a to-do about outfits if they could take a peep
at them. That one, now, is almost as splendid as a Regent Street
shop.'

'Almost, indeed! Every species of domestic need, comfort, and luxury,
is amply furnished by the enterprising tradesmen, who at once make
others comfortable and themselves rich. In there is a fellow making
his fortune. He will spread a supper or dinner with any London cook.
He is our Gunter; come in and test him, by way of refreshing yourself;
an ice--or at any rate, ice--is as seasonable here in December as it
is at home. An ice-house on Mount Wellington keeps Webb as popular
through the torrid weather as his entertainments do through the
winter. Literary supplies alone are inefficient; and yet I mustn't say
that--small as they are, they meet the present demand. Doubtless, when
literary yearnings increase, the means of satisfying them will also
increase.'

As they entered the garden gate, Charlie, who had run on in advance,
came bounding back, panting with news he was eager to impart.

'She's found! she's found! They had such fun to catch her. Bradley
says she fought like a tiger; she's bit his hand drefful. Won't she
get a pretty sentence, that's all!'

'Charlie, Charlie, who have you been talking to? you forget papa's
orders,' cried Mr. Evelyn.

'Nobody; only Pridham was waiting to tell us. Bradley stopped here to
get a drink of water, and Nancy nearly got away again--nasty beast!'

Pridham came forward, and the child continued:

'Here she is--such fun! Come and tell all about it.'

'Go back, Pridham; I will thank you to remember my commands, and not
give Master Charles information of this kind. You will get into
trouble if you're not more careful,' said her master.

The hint was sufficient. The air of importance vanished more quickly
from Pridham's face than her person disappeared behind the kitchen-
door. Whilst Mr. Evelyn spoke to her, Charlie drew close to Bridget,
and winking a sly childish wink, he whispered:

'She gave Nancy something to eat, but mustn't let papa know; and
Bradley got a drink of beer, really--not water--hush-sh he'll hear.'



CHAPTER XIV. AUNT EVELYN AND FAMILY MATTERS.


BRIDGET rejoiced in the prospect of Mrs. Evelyn's return. Curiosity
alone did not prompt her joy. She longed to see what sort of an aunt
she possessed under that title; but she longed still more to resign
the honours of housekeeping. With girlish delight she had entered on
those honours; her delight, however, soon changed into discomfort,
when she found that more was expected of her as mistress than to
jingle her keys, to weigh out the servants' rations, and to order
dinner. Dinner-hour nearly trespassed on tea-hour, before the united
muddlings of herself and Robert produced the desired effect in turning
raw mutton into haricot, and an untrussed fowl into a roast. After
such a forenoon's muddle, it was with almost maternal pride that she
watched the serving-up of the viands; and many persons will know how
mortified even to tears she must have been when an unwitting blow from
Uncle Ev struck down her pride. Turning his eyes towards the dish at
the bottom of the table, he asked:

'What, in the name of wonder, could be that smoky hodge-podge keeping
this tough underdone joint in company?' Mr. Evelyn hired a man to
supply one of the vacancies left by Nancy and her bacchanalian
colleague. Robert Sanders had just become eligible as he applied at
the barracks for an able servant. He knew it would be useless to
inquire for one who could be recommended as a cook; such men being
generally reserved for Government service, or pre-appropriated to
families in whom the superintendent had private or politic interest.
The list of 'eligibles' was not very startling. A man, willing-minded
and sharp, was all Mr. Evelyn expected from it. Such an one appeared
Robert Sanders. The brief dialogue which took place prefatory to his
engagement will attest his willingness.

'Your name?' asks Mr. Evelyn.

'Robert Sanders, or anything your honour pleases.'

'Your trade?'

'Hostler--but I ain't partial; I can give a h'ist to aught that's
wanted.'

'Do you think you can cook?'

His eyes glistened; he was fond of cookery if not of cooking. Catching
hold of his cropped hair, he says; 'Well, I b'lives I'll handle the
wittels as well as most on 'em as don't know nothin' about it. Any
ways, I'm willin' for it.'

'Your crime is burglary?'

"Es, sure, that's what they calls it; can't say I didn't lift the swag
when Sam Tomkins got in and pulled open the door; darned good her did
me, though!'

'What is your religion?'

'I ain't partial; don't know as I've choice that way whatever your
honour's a mind to 'll suit me. If your honour hires me out, you won't
find me stick to trifles in nothin'.'

His eagerness to be engaged was so great, that there is no knowing
where it would have hurried him; his willingness became alarming, and
Mr. Evelyn hastened to put a stop to it by bidding him pack up his
bundle and follow him; on which Sanders gave a great gulp of
satisfaction, and smothered his roots with his fingers, as though
administering salve to his closely-cropped head.

When Uncle Ev presented this new curiosity to Bridget, he told her he
hoped she would get him into train against her aunt returned. She
stood aghast; not observing the sly twinkle in his eye, she thought he
really meant what he said. Turning to Robert, he said:

'Your mistress is from home, Sanders; you will therefore do this young
lady's commands for the present.'

Then to Bridget:

'Remember, if Sanders is refractory, I am always at hand.'

'Very good, sir,' responded the man. 'I b'an't much of a hand with the
leddies, seeing I've been brought up to hosses but I knows what come
means, and I knows what go means; so the young leddy 'll find me
willin', darned if she won't.'

'Well, well, let it be so; and I hope we shall not have to trouble
Government much about you, except for the muster report.'

'Very good, sir; I'm willin' as any feller goin'.'

'Give him something to eat, Bridget;' (in a lower tone) 'I'd rather
you should than Pridham, or he may overeat himself the first time;'
(then aloud) 'there is plenty of cold meat; carve him some, for he
missed his dinner at Tench.'

So she cut a plate of mutton, which, with a hunch of bread, and the
remains of a gooseberry pudding, she set before him. How his eyes did
expand as he sat down! To Bridget's horror, he mixed meat, pudding,
and bread into one mess and then commenced to eat it with the iron
tablespoon, only giving himself breath to ejaculate 'bootiful!'
'rare!' between the huge mouthfuls. When he had finished he pushed the
dish from him, and exclaimed:

'Thank'ee, miss;' then, starting back in his chair, he arose with a
suddenness that overwhelmed table, its contents, and all the fire-
irons.

'Oh, dear! that wern't a lucky hit. Go up, yer ginger,' cried Robert.
'Never mind, I bain't hurt, miss;' broken crockery was of no
consequence at all.

With this man began Bridget's domestic trials. She refrained from
worrying Emmeline with many tales of distress; but every now and then
even her elastic spirit would be overstretched, and confide in her
cousin she must.

Another time, when the meat should have been on the spit, she found
not the sirloin, but Robert roasting before the fire. His trousers
were tucked above his knees, and he was chafing his stockingless feet,
his legs luxuriously expanded to the two chimney ends.

'Robert, what will Mr. Evelyn say if dinner is late again?'

'All right, miss, was just a-thinking if 'tweren't time to handle the
wittels; a pretty bit of eatin' in that j'int. I'll be after 'en when
I've got a bit of the torment out of these darned legs.'

In one item of domestic service, however, he was particularly expert,
and particularly delighted. In the boot and shoe department he was at
home, there fondly dreaming the leathern array before him into so many
horses awaiting professional attendance. He could not have too many
pairs to clean, and the muddier they were the better was he pleased.
At the sight of a boot or shoe, down would drop the basting-spoon or
saucepan, and off would rush Robert to the prize; and it was no matter
who should attend to the cookery so long as he seized the opportunity
of flourishing away over an imaginary steed, now admonishing it with a
'Y'up there!' 'Ho here!' 'Still, you beggar!' as the shoe might slip
from his hand; then consoling both himself and it with the prolonged
sis-s-s peculiar to his trade.

Aunt Evelyn was exactly the opposite to all Bridget had pictured her.
She was a native, and had the fair skin, slender figure, and long
limbs of the Tasmanian, with the not less characteristic, but more
painful colonial feature--prematurely decayed and broken teeth. Now
thirty guineas refill a mouth with as ornamental, if not as useful, a
set as that provided by nature. Then Mrs. Evelyn had to bear tooth-
ache and tooth want, until some years later, when an American dentist
settled in Hobart Town, affording the inhabitants a chance of
transferring their gold from their pockets to their mouths.

At the age of twenty Mrs. Evelyn entered on the duty of mother to a
little girl, who, after four years, resigned in death her place in her
parent's affection to Master Charles, the bouncing rogue of the
present volume. To him succeeded another girl, whose acquaintance
Bridget has just made, and who, as she lies crowing in her cot in
answer to her papa's whistle, numbers seven months to her brief
existence but brief as her existence is, it has not escaped the evils
incident to convict proximity. There is no such happy fortune for even
the youngest who dwells within sound of prison bells. From the hoary
grandsire to the latest addition to his race, all must feel the
effects of a system which strikes immediately at the root of that tree
called olive. Then why should exemption be urged for Baby Evelyn, the
tiniest off-shoot of the tree? If parental fondness did plead it, it
was not granted; for she was scarcely five months old ere a perilous
mischance befell her as follows:

Betsy, the nurse, had been so steady for eleven months that one Sunday
her master thought he might venture to send her out alone to give the
babe its usual airing. Mrs. Evelyn was unable to accompany her, and
the air was too balmy and health-giving to be missed even for once. So
Betsy was despatched with strict injunctions to return by noon. Proud
of this first proof of a confidence for which she had long waited, she
set out, determining to obey the command and be punctually home by
twelve o'clock. Had temptation under any form but that through which
she had previously fallen presented itself, she might have stood
morally safe; but on that fatal morning the snare was irresistibly
spread. The old temptation produced old longings.

She had not proceeded far before she encountered a shipmate, whose
shabby attire was a certain indication that she had not kept out of
trouble for long together. An exchange of questions and comparison of
lucks ensued, and ended in an opinion on the stranger's side that one
who had lived in so good a situation, had such smart clothes, and
well-grown hair, could not fail to have a few spare coppers in her
pocket. Such coppers evidently had not vanished in spreeing, or Betsy
must have been in cage (short for Cascades), and as they must be
somewhere, there was no place more likely than her own person. This
train of reasoning the stranger pursued in silence for some time; she
then startled Betsy with the inquiry:

'Will you sport an odd copper to old times?'

Betsy replied that she had taken the pledge, and hadn't tasted 'a drop
of nothing' since she'd been out, and hoped she never should again.

But her companion said a glass out here wasn't like at home, 'twas
more genteel; the best--what hadn't known trouble--wouldn't be ashamed
of a glass of wine; the best lady in the land would be in trouble if
there was harm in that sort of liquor.

Still Betsy refused.

'Well, then,' cried her tempter, 'it shan't be said that two mates met
and wouldn't be friendly to past times and luck to come. I'll go and
sell this bonnet off my head to fetch a sip between us, though it
isn't the perlite thing to do, as them what's most respectable
generally treats the other.'

Betsy's pride and convict vanity were touched, and she said she would
willingly stand the treat so long as she was not pressed to drink. The
friend agreed--not caring who should go without, provided she did
not--and conducted Betsy to a house of the worst description, where,
looking upon the wine whilst it was red, Betsy's moral courage
succumbed, the cup was taken, the liquor tasted, and further power of
resistance gone. Other shipmates came pouring in; the time passed
merrily, and when Betsy rose up to go, she promised to return on the
following Sunday. She reached the Lodge only just as the clock struck
twelve; the master's anger, therefore, was averted. He noticed her
flushed cheeks, but accepted the explanation that she had taken the
wrong road, and her dread of not being home by the appointed hour had
'flustered her a bit.'

Next Sunday she was again sent out, and it was deemed safe to let
Charlie accompany her. During the week she had, in imagination, gone
through former scenes of dissipation until her mind became inflamed,
and bent on once more giving itself to those unhallowed pleasures
which had caused the crime she was now atoning. She promised Charlie
all manner of sweetmeats if he was a good boy; a peculiar meaning
attached itself to this condition, and he was as good a boy as she
could desire--seeing all, but repeating nothing. She was again careful
to be back before the family's suspicions were aroused. The third
Sunday arrived, and brought the same permission; she who had been so
steady would surely not disappoint them the third time. Baby alone was
confided to her care.

On Mr. and Mrs. Evelyn's return from church, no baby was to be found;
however, Betsy might still be home before dinner, they only felt a
little uneasy. Dinner was over and uneasiness increased into alarm.
From watching at the windows and looking down the road, the parents
proceeded to active measures. Tea hour passed, and alarm increased to
anguish.

Mrs. Evelyn now remained in the house, in case the infant should be
brought in famishing for maternal care. Her friends, Dr. and Mrs.
Lamb, who had hitherto been assisting in the search, sat with her,
while Mr. Evelyn accompanied by a constable, went off in one
direction, and a band of his friends in another.

Charlie was neglected in the general commotion; his existence was only
remembered when he came in, cross and hungry, to ask where 'tea had
gone to.' But crossness and hunger were both forgotten when he saw his
'own beautiful mamma' in tears. He sat quietly down, and slipped his
hand into hers, until, on the point of crying himself, he slid over to
Dr. Lamb, and whispered:

'Who's made her cry? nasty people, I'll shoot them!'

Dr. Lamb whispered in return:

'Naughty Betsy hasn't come back, so mamma is afraid poor little sister
is lost.'

With an appreciating nod, Charlie reseated himself.

An English child would have commenced calling up 'Children in the
Wood' stories as applicable to the present case; not so this young
colonist. He lapsed into a thoughtful but not mysterious mood, as
though he knew as well as anyone what Bort of being lost this was; and
how to get back baby was more the doubtful point than what had become
of her. The dreary silence was at last broken by his very demure
voice.

'If I could have a constable, p'raps I'd find her. I'd know it by the
large pussy-cat on the wall.'

His voice became confidential.

'Only don't tell Betsy; she wouldn't give me any more lollies, and the
bogie will fetch me away when it's dark.'

The result of an eager interrogation was a conviction that if only
Charlie's description of 'down a nasty street, and up a nasty place,'
could be defined, the lost one might be found in the Sunday
rendezvous.

'Should you know the house if you saw it, my boy?' asked Dr. Lamb,
determined to scour the length and breadth of Hobart Town.

'Oh yes! I'll peep into every door till I see the pussy, then there'll
be plenty of prisoners, and fun, and baby lying down inside the other
room.'

A cab was hired. Dr. Lamb's simple direction to the driver was:

'Take us to the worst place in Hobart Town, then set us down and
slowly follow.'

Without a comment the man drove them to--street, turned down--street,
and then silently opening the door, he gave Dr. Lamb a wink which
said, 'Here or nowhere.'

Charlie was quite alive and proud of his mission. He peered into
cottage after cottage, until he arrived at the fifteenth whose door
alone was shut.

'Stupid!' cried Charlie; 'if 'twas open I think I'd see pussy, and
then I'd know.'

Dr. Lamb rapped and entered.

'There's pussy!' cried Charlie, clapping his hands.

'Now then, my boy, jump into the cab, and wait for us; you mustn't go
in with the bad people.'

Happily, the scene of vice which met Dr. Lamb's sight is hidden from
us. We need not follow him, as pushing his way into an inner room, he
discovered the object of his search lying asleep. From the heavy sob
which disturbed the babe, it was evident that the slumber had
succeeded a fit of unsoothed crying. The tears still rested on its
little cheek, and as Dr. Lamb stood over it, it burst out afresh into
a piteous wail, unable even in sleep to forget its wrong.

Perceiving that Betsy was not in a state to attempt escape, he hurried
off with his tender burden, merely telling the woman of the house that
if Betsy was not forthcoming when the constable arrived, she would
stand a chance of being taken in her stead...

Relieved of her weight of domestic anxiety, Bridget again became
Emmeline's chief attendant, and the happy, unclouded maiden of English
days. And as, under the genial influence of summer, her cousin
appeared to regain a degree of strength, and a respite from suffering,
her happiness increased to merriment, and her uncloudedness into
positive sunshine; and save when convict disturbances broke on the
family peace, or she heard of prison miseries from Uncle Herbert, or
they came under her notice in the form of chain-gangs, recaptured
absconders, or the prison van conveying a load of females to the
Anson, the flow of her joyous spirits rarely met with obstructions,
for all in the house were too well pleased to have so unfailing a
spring of gladness in their midst to stay one ripple of its refreshing
course. Uncle Herbert experienced unconscious relaxation in his
niece's society. When Mr. Herbert returned, overcome by his depressing
duties, too weary to seek Emmeline as a friend, listener, or
sympathizer, she merely met him with the wonted caress, and then,
retiring to her sofa, left the spontaneous music of Bridget's voice to
soothe the worn-out mind into repose.

You must not imagine that he was given to spend his evenings in an
easy-chair; an evening so spent was exceptional. When his prescribed
Government duties were over, he still employed himself in different
ways on the prisoners' behalf--now writing to the Home Government to
expose some abuse, then to the Comptroller to pray for the mitigation
of an unusually severe sentence. Now he would write to the English
friends of a convict lying under sentence of death in the condemned
cells, and who had, perhaps, that day begged him to break the dire
intelligence to a fond mother or a pining wife. Then he would reply to
a letter from some prisoner's relative at home, asking him to seek out
such or such an one, supposed to be either dead or lost. Or else an
annoying correspondence with the heads of the department would occupy
his time. Such correspondence was necessarily frequent, while low
officials were permitted to lay before interested secular powers
charges of neglect or excess of duty on the part of the chaplain, and
while such secular powers (of no very high standing) took on
themselves the exercise of episcopal authority over him, seeming to
delight in circumscribing his prerogative to the smallest possible
bounds, and in making him feel himself as much under their control as
was any overseer or constable.

The Bishop of Tasmania nominally reckons the convict chaplains among
his clergy. They are expected to show themselves at the visitations,
and at public meetings convened for special clerical considerations;
but here ceases the benefit of relationship to their diocesan--not
from unwillingness on his lordship's part to admit them to closer
intimacy and to the full privileges of their order, but from inability
to redress their grievances without an appeal to the Local Government,
a step his lordship is naturally averse to, because it cannot fail to
cause unpleasantness between himself (as the head of spiritual
authority) and the colonial representative of supreme temporal
authority. Therefore of all undefined positionists, the convict
chaplain is the most unfortunate if he be not 'in with the
Comptroller' or the Superintendent of his station.

One would think that all parts of a moral machinery formed for the
noble purpose of human reformation should work in unison. And do they
not? asks the mere looker-on, who has been admitted to inspect its
able construction and varied movements. He is filled with admiration
at the wondrous adaptation of each part to its peculiar end, and
eulogizes the grand renovator, opining that some obstinate resistance
or organic incapacity to receive improvement must exist in the object
worked upon if the anticipated aim be missed. He expatiates on the
exquisite order in which wheel rotates within wheel, but not having
heard, he cannot be shocked by the grating of each as it turns upon
its axis for discord sets the primary wheel in motion, and its jarring
is felt through the whole machine. Nor when he imputes to the object
worked upon a heart hardened beyond relenting, a mind too set upon
evil to be shaken by even the concentrated force of this wonderful
machine, is he aware that the force is rarely concentrated, the
separate portions of the system being too divided among themselves to
join their strength for the long pull, the strong pull, and the pull
all together; while on that section immediately intended to act on the
criminal's heart so heavy a clog is placed that its solitary
endeavours are comparatively useless. The stranger knows not of these
things. But to speak plainly, is it not strange that one of the most
important coadjutors in the reformatory work--one whose position is
the most laborious whose task is the most depressing, should have
opposition from every official quarter instead of the assistance and
sympathy he expects?--and that, too, where his adherence to the penal
regulations is so nicely strict that not the most overbearing
Superintendent can charge him with irregularity or the most vigilant
favourite spy out a fault. Private annoyances of the most petty kind
are contrived to draw him into a quarrel.

If the Chaplain be a man who would go down with the Department stream,
not caring into what depths of servitude it might drift him, nor into
what abuse of duty it might hurry him--if he be content with the name
of first-class officer, and suffer himself to be treated as an
inferior--if he see all, hear all, do all, and say nothing--and
chiefly, if he be not over godly nor too demonstrative in his life,
then will he be a man after the Superintendent's own heart; then, and
not till then, will he find but few drawbacks to embitter his
professional career, even though he be a gentleman by birth and
education--even though he be unfortunately guilty of an M.A. to his
name.

If you could transport yourself to a penal settlement, and there dwell
for six months in the clergyman's quarters, you would perceive that
Mr. Herbert did not exaggerate these strange matters. You would
perceive that the convict chaplain, if he be what he should be (not
else, of course), has unthought-of vexations, which in print would
seem mere frivolities, and would be regarded as such by him, were they
of fortuitous origin. But when he knows that these vexations are not
occasional accidents, but occurrences planned by pique, and worked out
by paltry jealousies and official resentments, he learns to regard
them as a warning of concealed animosity, and they assume a power
(destructive to his peace) to which adventitious misfortunes could
never pretend.



CHAPTER XV. BEING NOTHING PARTICULAR.


IT is now eighteen months since the arrival of the transport and
passenger vessel. Of the living freight of the former we have lost
sight, but anon we may hear of it again when occasion leads us to
Restdown Ferry, and thence on board H.M.S. Anson.

Meanwhile, visiting the Lodge, we find the family there going on just
as we left them, except that Pridham has been dismissed. She fell so
violently in love with Sanders that trouble was foreboded, and the
only mode of dealing with her was to send her away. Mr. Evelyn asked
Robert if he would like a recommendation to marry her, but, shaking
his head sidewise, Bob said that 'unless his honour was partial to it
he'd rather not; he'd all so soon bide with his hosses as marry a gal
he hadn't much mind to.' He supposes when he has his ticket there will
be no difficulty in getting a wife to his mind, but there might be
some difficulty in laying hold 'on such a pair of hosses as them
again.' In Pridham's place another servant has been hired from the
Anson. She is called Lucy, and has made an odd impression on Uncle Ev,
by having positively shed tears on her leaving the hulk.

'Why, Lucy, most prisoners are delighted to get into service; be
grateful to the gentleman,' commanded one of the officers.

'I'm not crying for to go, but for she to go too,' replied Lucy,
choking down her sorrow, and throwing a farewell peep at a tall figure
that watched her from behind a grated door.

A ring at the Lodge will convince the most incredulous that the
present Lucy is the little Grenlow of the transport. She is budding
into womanhood, but still retains her childish face. She drops a quick
curtsey, and blushes furiously as she thinks her prison clothes
attract other notice than her own. She gives a beseeching look that
seems to say, 'Please not to stare at me.' She has drawn her hair down
to its utmost length over her cheeks, but every now and then a
disobliging lock whose ends can rarely reach her ear, falls forward,
increasing her confusion and blushes; she hurries it back, and, hoping
no one has observed it, curtseys herself out of sight.



CHAPTER XVI. H.M.S. `ANSON'.



'WELL, Bridget, I must go to the Anson this afternoon. I have been to
the watch-house, and there found our lady; she will have three months.
As we feared, she made her way to the Labour in Vain instead of to the
orphan school. I have refused to appear on her behalf, believing that
the punishment will do her good, this being the third offence. Now
don't look so vexed; steel that tender heart of yours, or you will
never do for out here. You may go with me. Are you a clever
physiognomist?'

'Pretty well; but I shall not have much choice on which to exercise my
talents, shall I uncle?'

'Every bad lot has its best.'

'Well, I should like to explore the Anson. I suppose it is one of the
colonial sights.'

'Ay, ay; I thought so. "It's very dreadful, but I must just see it."
That's the way with womankind. At half-past two, then, the cab will be
at the door. Very tiresome to have to change servants whilst your
aunt's away.' (Mrs. Evelyn had gone up the country to pay her annual
visit.) 'We always happen to pick up some beauty during her absence.'

'There's poor little Lucy peeping in, uncle; come in.'

Half anxious and half frightened Lucy entered.

'If you please--mem--sir--is it true that Janet isn't coming back?'

'Yes, Lucy; how did you hear the news?'

'The constable, sir, promised her to call, and told me--and, and--
sir--and--'

'And what, Lucy? Speak out, if you please.'

'And to beg you'd please to keep the place for her 'gainst she's out
of trouble. She knows 'taint a every-day house, sir, as all the rest
of us does, sir.'

'There will be time enough to think of that by-and-by. Let this be a
warning to you, Lucy: you will find me a kind master if you deserve
kindness, but--'

Here Lucy burst into tears, exclaiming between her sobs:

'Oh, sir, if you please, sir--you don't think I'd' go for to drink the
filthy stuff--indeed, sir, I wouldn't, nor nothing else.'

'Well, well, we shall see, Lucy. I did not mean to vex you; you ought
to have learnt by this time that, in this colony, we suspect all
persons until they have proved themselves beyond suspicion. I tell you
plainly, Lucy, that you have lately appeared more friendly with Janet
than I approve of.'

'Oh, sir! sir!' said the girl, almost choked with tears 'I were afraid
of her, indeed I were, sir; and it's lovely to think she's gone! I'd a
sight rather do all the work myself than have her back.'

'Take care, take care, foolish girl; how do you explain all that
anxiety to have Janet's place reserved for her, eh, Lucy? Do not
attempt to deceive me.'

'It's easy explained, sir.' Lucy drew nearer to Mr. Evelyn, and
glancing around the room to assure herself that she was not overlooked
by malignant eyes, she continued in a low tone:

'You see, sir, I were obliged to give you Janet's message; and p'raps,
if you see her in factory, you'll be so kind as to tell her I spoke
for her, sir.'

'Why, Lucy, what is all this about? I will thank you to be
straightforward.'

Lucy drew still nearer.

'When Janet got leave to go out, she says to me, sir "Now, if I gets
into trouble, which is as like as not, I'll send and let you know; and
if you don't speak a word to the master for me, I'll give you a
keepsake, you little sneaking hussy;" and she put her fist to my face,
and says "Mind that: I'll find you out by some of my mates." You may
think I were frightened, master.'

Mr. Evelyn, giving a long ahem, turned to his nieces:

'In this, our good-tempered Janet, we have harboured a respectable
reptile;' then to Lucy: 'Did she ever ill-treat you, that you fear
her?'

A second timid search about the room:

'Yes, sir; you remember that black eye I got? She gave it to me; and
because I wouldn't promise to tell a lie about it, she went and broke
a lot of soup-plates, to make believe that I'd tripped in carrying the
tray, and so got the bruise; and as she managed to get first word with
missus, I weren't asked no questions; and I were very glad, because
she swore she'd pay me double if I told true. She made fine fool to
you, sir, and missus, for heeding her lies: she said you was a sweet,
peaceable babby, not to know more about fighting than to believe I got
my black eye by a fall.'

'Enough, Lucy Grenlow; you were very wrong to let me keep that woman,
when you saw such wrong doings.'

'Oh! please, sir,' sobbed Lucy, 'you don't know how dreadful 'tis
downstairs when they hates a body; and they always hate a body that's
better than theirselves. I've well-nigh cried my eyes out sometimes
when I've seen things as shouldn't be in a respectable kitchen; but
what were I to do when Janet swore she'd make a hell for me if I
peached?'

'It is over now; I can excuse you: but, another time, remember your
duty to your master; the innocent have nothing to fear. I never
encourage one prisoner to tell tales against another; but where
matters are visibly wrong, the case is altered. Now that will do,
Lucy; for your comfort, I will tell you that at present we have all a
fair opinion of you.'

Lucy looked her thanks, and dropped a profound curtsey.

'Have you any charge to make against Janet?'

'I don't believe, sir, that she'd ever a child to the orphan school.
'Twas only a make out to get leave sometimes; but please, sir, do not
tell her, or there'll be no end on the mischief she'll do me.'

Mr. Evelyn made no reply. Emmeline asked Lucy:

'Then when you looked so anxious you were afraid that your master
would agree to take Janet back?'

'No, mem,' said Lucy, brightening vastly. 'I wanted to mention to the
master that I'd been reckoning about Martha Grylls, and thinks if she
hasn't got into trouble again, her time will be up on the Anson; and
if you please, mem,' Lucy stopped, and, colouring up to her temples,
looked from Mr. Evelyn to Bridget, and from Bridget to Emmeline--as
much as to say, 'Do understand, without giving me the pain of
speaking.'

'I guess what you wish to say, Lucy. This Martha Grylls is a friend of
yours, and you want to speak for her.'

'Thank you, mem--Miss Evelyn.'

'Come, then, my girl, let us hear something of this Grylls: what can
you say in her favour, eh, Lucy?' said her master.

'If you please, sir, she's a 'orrid temper,' commenced Lucy.

'Very satisfactory,' nodded Mr. Evelyn.

'Shockin' to manage, sir.'

'Better still--go on, Lucy.'

'But such a noble creature, sir; and I can't never fancy she's a
common prisoner like me. If you only please try her, sir; she was
quite a mother to me coming out; the chaplain set a sight on her, and
all the women feared her like. She was so grand to 'em, without ever
meaning it.'

Mr. Evelyn gave a sly glance at Bridget.

'We'll think about it; where all are alike strange, and all have a
character to gain, I would as soon choose one servant as another.'

'Oh! no; if you please, sir: if you'll excuse me, sir, there's as much
difference between they on the Anson as between night and day, sir;
there's some as never scarce keeps out of the dark cells, sir; and
there's they what never gets in.'

'But before I make any promise,' continued Mr. Evelyn, you must tell
me what this great friendship of yours and Martha's is. I do not
approve of these prison attachments. 'Are--you--sure--Lucy, that she
is not your mother?'

'Lor', no, sir!' cried Lucy, in unfeigned surprise. 'I wish she was,
and I shouldn't be out here. She ain't nothing to me in flesh and
blood. 'Twas all her kindness coming out that did it. I were the
youngest on board, sir; and the women used to make mock on me: so, one
day Martha, who didn't 'sociate with none of them, roused up and took
my part, and said, 'twas only because I was better than them that they
tret me so bad; so then they hated me, but she stood for me all the
voyage, and the chaplain was very good to me, because he set a sight
on her.'

'Well, well, Lucy, go to your work now; we'll see what can be done.'

'If you please, sir, you won't listen to anything they says 'gainst
her? p'raps they'll make her out bad.'

'Never you mind, the officers are the best judges of her conduct; do
not presume on my leniency.'

Utterly unwitting of the meaning of the two grand words--presume,
leniency--Lucy imagined them the superlative to all former degrees of
promise, and dropped a befitting curtsey.

'Thank you, sir!' She hesitated: 'Please, I don't know if she'd be
angry; but I don't think Martha Grylls is her real name; they call her
so--she let's me call her Maida.'

Mr. Evelyn nodded, and Lucy left the room; in a moment she peeped in
again:

'If you please, sir, if her time isn't up, I'd gladly do all the work
for a few days, if you'd wait for her?'

'That will do, Lucy; shut the door.'

'The little puss!' exclaimed Bridget.

'What do you think, ladies? though I was obliged to put in a full stop
now and then, I rather like her the better for all this,' said Uncle
Ev, turning to his nieces.

'Poor little creature!' sighed Emmeline; 'how old is she, Uncle Ev?'

'Seventeen years; hers is a sad story--you must ask her to tell it you
some day.'

At half-past two, Mr. Evelyn and Bridget set off for Risdon Ferry, in
sight of which the Anson lay. From Macquarie Street they reached the
ferry at half-past three; there a boat awaited parties going on board
the ship.

'Now then, miss, hold on, and I'll keep close behind you.'

And Miss D'Urban ascended the companion and stood on the hulk. Her
uncle beckoned her to follow him below.

A female standing at a high desk by the open door of the first cabin
raised her head and bowed a business-like bow as they advanced. She
was evidently the monarch of all she surveyed.

'Is that Mrs. Bowden?' whispered Bridget.

The question was overheard and answered by the ruling spirit.

'No, Mrs. Bowden is in England. I act in her place.' Another, and
still more official bow followed. Accompanied by one of the officers,
Mr. Evelyn and his niece arraigned themselves at Mrs. Deputy's bar.

'I want a servant-of-all-work; can you recommend me one, Mrs. Deputy?'

'We do not recommend; there are several people eligible, but they will
not afford much choice, Mr. Evelyn.'

'Except to friends!' drily suggested that gentleman.

Mrs. Deputy bowed at once dignity and indignity, and repeated, 'There
are several prisoners eligible.' True to the daring contradictions of
Tasmanian words and their meanings, 'eligible' is not intended to
signify aptness or suitability. A woman eligible for service is rarely
fitted for service; the adjective only informs the master or mistress
that she is ready to be hired.

'Is one Martha Grylls eligible, Mrs. Deputy?'

'Grylls, Grylls, Grylls, let me see?' drawing her finger down the list
before her.

The attendant officer chimed in:

'Yes; she becomes so this very day.'

'Thank you, Miss Perkins,' bowed Mrs. Deputy, with an air that plainly
said, 'I will thank you not to interfere.'

'Grylls, Grylls,' and her finger travelled on.

'You cannot know whom you ask for, if you want her, sir!' whispered
the cowed Miss Perkins.

'Thank you, Miss Perkins, perhaps you will leave the arrangement of
this matter to me,' again bowed the commandant.

'Martha Grylls is at your service, Mr. Evelyn; shall I send for her?'

'I will trouble you, if you please.'

'Would not you prefer my calling several women, sir?' asked the
attendant officer.

'I will thank you, Miss Perkins, to call Martha Grylls,' responded
Mrs. Deputy.

The little officer had no choice but to obey; so bowing obedience, she
sidled to the grating which divided the prison from the officers'
quarters; and then standing on tiptoe, desired a Miss Snub to send
forward 'That Martha Grylls.'

'Ordered forward, Martha Grylls!' shouted a female Stentor; and,
uprising from a distant rank, immediately appeared a tall, elegant
woman, who, passing Miss Snub with a curtsey, came into Mrs. Deputy's
awful presence.

She had on the usual brown serge skirt (so short as to show a
masculine pair of half-boots), a jacket of brown and yellow gingham, a
dark blue cotton kerchief; and a prim white calico cap, whose narrow
border was kept in frill by help of a thread run through it, completed
her dress. The grotesque coarseness of this attire could not hide the
inherent grace of the prisoner. Still dignified and beautiful, before
her future master stood the wearer of those rough knitted blue
stockings and clownish shoes.

Her cap was untied.

'Tie your cap, Martha Grylls,' commanded Miss Perkins.

Martha mechanically obeyed.

'It would better become you, Grylls, to curtsey the same as your
mates, than to try to imitate your betters,' continued the little
woman, conscious that Martha's obeisance surpassed her genuflecting
capabilities.

'The curtsey was meant for me, I think, Miss Perkins,' said Mrs.
Deputy.

In consideration of Martha's presence, the rebuked attendant darted
daggers at Mrs. Deputy.

Mr. Evelyn put a few questions to Martha, all of which she quietly and
satisfactorily answered.

'I will hire this Grylls, if you please, Mrs. Deputy.'

Preliminaries having been settled, Martha was sent to tie up her
bundle, and business being over, Mrs. Deputy came down from the tip-
top of dignity, and seemed not wholly disinclined for a talk.

'The appearance of the woman decided me at once Mrs. Deputy; to belie
that countenance, she must be a monster.'

'With a good master she will not belie it, Mr. Evelyn. Wise management
will do much for her. Her police character is against her, and her
crimes you are aware--'

'Yes, yes; but I do not heed the amount of crime: indiscriminate
association generally makes it theoretically equal amongst prisoners.
It is my opinion that both men and females come out of these
probations worse than they went in. Reformations rarely, if ever,
commence within prison walls; and reformation the more tardily begins
in proportion to the length of durance. We have an extra task to
perform on a probationer.'

Mrs. Deputy looked much hurt, and exclaimed, 'Here on the Anson
surely, Mr. Evelyn, you do not call it indiscriminate association: we
have distinct classes--bad, better and best. Surely nothing can be
superior to Mrs. Bowden's excellent system?'

'Than Mrs. Bowden I know no more gifted and prudent Lady-
Superintendent; were all officers selected with like discernment, it
would be well for the prisoner. Mrs. Deputy may I take my niece
through the wards?' asked Mr. Evelyn, anxious to avoid a discussion.

The lady only bowed assent; for she was deeply affronted at an attack
on a system of which she was representative in place of the highly
respected Mrs. Bowden: perhaps she was the more deeply wounded,
because a conviction of the fallacy of the system already worked in
her own mind. It is a natural weakness with many persons to be angry
with a scruple they can no longer conscientiously resist. She just
deigned to say, 'Miss Perkins, this gentleman wishes to see the
Anson,' and turned to her desk. The little creature came hopping over
with a kind of sidewise movement, not unlike that of an impudent cock-
sparrow which can scarcely hop for pertness. Pecking to Mr. Evelyn's
side, she whispered, 'Though I pity you, sir, I am downright glad to
get rid of that woman. The trouble I have had with her!'

This was only meant for Mr. Evelyn; nevertheless, it reached the
vigilant deputy's ears. 'I am sure I shall be glad, Miss Perkins.
Often have I been pained by the foolish complaints made against her
and poor Lucy Grenlow, when she was here. You know I am obliged to
take my officers' part before the convicts; you ought therefore to
refrain from bringing such nonsensical cases for me to judge. Had my
duties allowed me time to pay particular attention to Martha I should
not have had reason to punish her so much.' As Mrs. Deputy was thus
properly delivering herself, Miss Perkins stood a deferential
listener; she just hopped off in time to hear a mutter that sounded
very like--'I have as much trouble with the officers as with the
women.'

Bridget clung to her uncle's arm as they passed through rows of
prisoners, who were variously employed in working reading, and
learning, it being their school-hour. Each file arose and curtsied as
the party passed.

Ever and anon Miss Perkins issued orders to some unfortunate.

'Mary Gull, tie your cap. What Mary Pike, yours off! The next offence
you'll go downstairs.' Mary understood the allusion, and hastily put
on her cap.

'Sarah Gubb, you are talking there. Jane Dawson, where's your curtsey?
Why don't you rise, Ellen Bracket? Muggins, I shall complain of you.'

'Would you like to walk through the cells, sir?'

They went below. In one cell was a captive, kicking and stamping
violently. Miss Perkins thought fit to soothe her by rapping at the
door.

'You don't think that's the way to get out, do you, Stooks?'

"Twas you got me in, you did, you beast!'

'If I wasn't very indulgent, Stooks, I should get you double for
that,' said the maternal Perkins.

'Is the devil indulgent, I should like to know, you old cant?' cried
Stooks.

With a deprecating smile at Bridget, Miss Perkins stopped at Number
10, whence issued an imploring voice:

'Do beg for me; I'm quite subdued, indeed I am, Miss Love. Oh! it's
Miss Perkins. I beg pardon, ma'am I thought 'twas Miss Love,' the
prisoner was heard to sigh.

Passing on, they came to stalls where different trades--cobblery,
bonnet-making, etc.--were being carried on.

'Do let us go, uncle; it is so dreadful to have these poor creatures
made a show of,' whispered Bridget.

'They are accustomed to it,' answered Miss Perkins to the second
clause of Bridget's speech.

'As the eels are, eh, Miss Perkins?' asked Mr. Evelyn.

'Oh, they keep each other in countenance. We look at them as a lot,
not as individuals.'

Here her eyes fell on Martha Grylls, who was waiting, bundle in hand,
at the grating.

'Follow us, and don't be talking there, Grylls. I don't wish to lose
sight of you.'

'Come along, my woman,' said Mr. Evelyn kindly.

'No; walk before us, if you please, Grylls. I don't wish to lose sight
of you, I repeat.'

Martha obeyed without a word.

All the women tried to give her a nod on the sly; and many anxious
eyes followed the party as the grated door closed, and an audible sigh
was simultaneously heaved by those whom it imprisoned. Each prisoner
envied Martha and wished it had been her lot to fall to so sweet a
looking lady as that bright-eyed girl who smiled on her in passing.

What lay beyond those gates not one could tell. They were as the gates
of death--all doubt and mystery beyond. None ever returned to tell of
the untried world to which they led.

Strange and vague are the mental picturings the prisoned female forms
of the land of bier exile, which she knows lies little further than a
stone's-throw from her. Some think, on leaving the Anson, they are to
be turned adrift to all the horrors of an unexplored region; others
that they will be driven to market for sale. The cunning and malicious
amongst them delight in filling the minds of their less gifted
associates with the most terrible apprehensions of the barbarities
awaiting them on their departure from their probation. It is with a
thrill of cruel suspense that such prisoners first plant their foot on
Tasmanian ground.

In this respect the male convicts do not suffer so acutely. Their
doubts, hopes, and fears are answered, realized, or crushed almost
immediately on arriving at the colony. Their probationary course does
not add suspense to sorrow. At once formed into gangs, they learn the
worst, and are sent to labour in the roads, or work on public
buildings. The torture of suspense is not added to it.

Miss Perkins accompanied Mr. Evelyn and his niece to the deck, where
she mysteriously beckoned Bridget aside:

'I hope you do not mean to employ Grylls about children.'

She gave a significant wink. 'Of course, though, you don't. You guess
why? It is not usual to tell the crime but really I think it my duty
to break rule to you. Do you understand me?'

Bridget looked a negative.

Martha had drawn near enough to hear Miss Perkins's friendly caution.
Casting a glance of unutterable contempt on little Perkins, she
stepped to Miss D'Urban, and herself solved the significant wink.

'Miss Perkins wishes you to know that I am sent out for murder. She
would suggest the impropriety of making me a nurse.'

Bridget turned very pale, and cast an imploring look on the little
officer, who, boiling over with injured prerogative, was on the point
of reprimanding Martha's audacity, when Mr Evelyn called them to be
quick--the boat was waiting.

'Good morning, Miss Perky. We are much favoured by your civilities.'

The officer was hurt at the inharmonious name bestowed upon her, and
vented her spite by exclaiming, as Martha was on the first step of the
companion:

'I hope you'll behave better now, Grylls, or you'll soon learn the
difference between factory and here.'

Martha turned abruptly on her. A second more, and she had been on her
way back to the cells, instead of on the road to Hobart Town. The
crimson cheek, flashing eye, and quivering lip, a second more had met
their chastisement; but Bridget's beseeching gesture once more
prevailed. Quietly turning from her persecutor, Martha descended the
ladder. 'Good-morning, Miss Perky,' waved Mr. Evelyn abstractedly, as
though his voice mechanically embodied his opinion in a name
expressive of the little upstart, pecking at him from the deck.

'That horrid woman!' cried Bridget.

A quick nod and frown from Mr. Evelyn stopped what further she would
have said.

A slight smile overspread the prisoner's face; but it soon faded into
a look of anxious sadness. It mattered not to her whether the coast
was beautiful or barren; whether the landscape was rendered vital by
the upward wreathing of the blue smoke from pleasant homesteads; or
whether its desolate grandeur was made more dreary by the long blank
masonry of penal life.

She started as from a dream when the boat jerked against the jetty. A
ghastly pallor struck her every feature as she stept ashore. For an
instant she covered her face; then, gradually withdrawing her hands,
the Maida Gwynnham of olden days discovered herself in the unabated
dignity of that upraised head, and in the strength of purpose
outshining from the purple depths of those undimmed eyes.

A strength of purpose that even now was to be tried; and if the trial,
surprising an unguarded post, be victorious for a season, who shall
exult?

She was prepared to confront the hardships of convict existence. She
was prepared for taunts, for jibes, for suspicions, for enemies, and
felt that she could face them; but she was not prepared to meet any of
these as they were now about to assail her.



CHAPTER XVII. THE INITIATION--WITHOUT.


THE cab was waiting for them at the ferry.

'Get up on the box, Martha. Coachman, help her.'

But she had mounted ere the driver could proffer his assistance.

'A likesome un,' winked the man to Mr. Evelyn. 'You've always got your
eye-tooth about ye, sir.'

'Now begins my public martyrdom. Now shall I feel the blighting breath
of scorn,' thought Maida. 'Would God that it would smite me down at
once!'

With an eye of impatient curiosity she viewed this new sphere of
future suffering looming in the distance. She longed to hasten it, but
with the longing of one that craves to know the worst. She longed to
meet the first eye that should witness her disgrace. She longed to
hear the first wold that should break the fearful silence of this
strange phase of life, but with the desire of one who yearns to learn
her fate.

She was soon satisfied.

The coachman, a good-tempered, ruddy-faced old man, looking at her
full of wonder, jerked a sentence from the side of his ample mouth.

'Got in a good berth, young 'ooman--that you has!'

The familiarity of this congratulation was worse than scorn, and Maida
involuntarily shuddered.

'Your hair's a-grow'd nicely.'

He seemed mystified at Maida's tacit disapproval.

'The women likes a bit o' gossip general,' he muttered. A bright
thought occurred to him.

'She don't hear me for them rattling wheels. Your hair's a-grow'd
butiful, my dear,' he repeated, with a more sidelong and emphatic
jerk.

'Worse than three days in the dark cells!' thought Maida.

'You feels queer like, my dear, don't ye?' he persevered, seeing she
had turned very pale. 'Never mind! I knows ezac'ly what you feels. You
fancies all the folks will stare at ye, so you feels sheepy-like. No
such thing, my dear. They sees hundreds of you every day. They won't
take no more notice of ye than if you was a leg of mutton. I'm a man,
my dear.'

Here Maida ventured to peep at him, and perceived she had mistaken
rough kindness for brutal officiousness, and her better sense accepted
the civility, so honestly offered.

The old man seemed pleased, and went on to say:

'I'm a man, my dear: yet when I fust came out of Tench with the gang,
blast me if I wasn't nigh to fent. Thinks I, every mother's son on 'em
'll be gaping at me. No such thing, my dear; nobody tookt no more
notice on me than if I'd been a brisket o' beef. Lots on us is just
equal to none on us. Now you feels like me; but there's no call for
it. Cheer up! says I. It's fine out here; worth a while to get out any
how. Ah! ah! ha!'

Tench and gang were Greek to Maida; yet she fancied they referred to
prison days, and that her commiserator was or had been a convict. She
wished to ask, but, judging by her own sensibility, feared the
question might be offensive; so she merely replied:

'Thank you.'

'Kindly welcome, my dear. A-h! you'll get on fine. You don't seem like
to get into trouble very often. Them what takes a drop gets oftenest
into trouble out here--and home too, I'm thinking' (he added
thoughtfully). 'Anything that way, my dear? Now keep heart; don't ye
mind: they won't look at ye no more than a loin o' lamb.'

A party of ladies passed.

'There now, did 'em gape? Look over yonder; d'ye see that fine dressed
'ooman? She 'm Government. I remember bringing her in from Anson. That
gentleman there, what pretends to be--he's convict, came in last load
after I; so you've got fine company. The girls marry like mad out
here.' Maida could bear no more; her brain grew dizzy; she grasped the
rail on her side of the dicky, and the man's arm on the other.

'That's right, my dear; 'old tight. I loves to purtect ye. Old Hawkins
is known out here; he's been a Government man, and knows all about it.
'Old on, you'm queer like.'

Mr. Evelyn called from the cab:

'Hawkins, I'll thank you not to talk with my woman.'

'All right, sir.'

The vehicle suddenly stopped.

"Old on, my dear. I wants to speak to the master.'

Off jumped the old man, popping his bright face into the cab. He
whispered:

'The 'ooman takes on uncommon; she'm nigh to fent; never seed sich;
more acute than most on 'em. She'll drop off the box any minute;
excoose me, but 'tisn't safe there.'

'Shall she come inside, Bridget? do you object?'

Bridget looked as much as to say, 'Is it likely I should?'

'Here, my dear, you goes in there 'long with the quality.'

Maida hesitated, but only for an instant. Her overloaded heart could
not brook the weight of importunate kindness Hawkins would heap upon
it.

'That's right, my dear; keep a good face on't. You're nothing to them
mor'n a fillet of veal,' winked Hawkins.

Hawkins had been a butcher, and from the dead or live stock of his
former trade he drew his not overflattering similes. Glancing her
thanks at him, she sank into a corner, and the grateful relief induced
another, still more potent, still more needed.

She burst into tears.

That was enough for Bridget. It was a very Bochim within that coach.

Following the impulse of her spirit, Bridget's hand had unconsciously
worked its way from under her shawl, and found a resting-place on
Maida's, where it lay so lightly, withal so significantly, that it
gave the prisoner to understand more by one of its thrills than I
could write, or you could read, in an hour. Suddenly remembering her
uncle's presence, and peculiar strictness with convicts, she withdrew
her hand, turning her head, at the same time, to meet the dread frown
of reproof she expected; but Mr. Evelyn was watching the race-running
trees with an interest rarely displayed by sober middle-aged men; his
fingers were tapping on the glass, instead of motioning displeasure to
her, and Bridget was very glad to escape the tokens of an incipient
scolding.

'Oh, these blessed tears! but for them I should have gone wild. Since
I left England I have only once experienced their power,' said Maida,
after a while.

'Do you feel better now, Martha?' asked Bridget, ready to cease crying
directly it suited her for whom she wept.

'Yes, thank you, I am greatly refreshed.'

Uncle Ev, being anxious to prevent another scene, asked Maida if she
had any question she would like to ask.

'I thank you, none, but shall be glad of your permission to drop my
present name.'

'Oh yes; any name you prefer will answer my purpose; to the
Comptroller-General you must remain Martha Grylls. What do you wish to
call yourself?'

'Maida Gwynnham.'

Mr. Evelyn's opinion was not discernible on his face, but Miss
D'Urban's shone in every dimple of her blooming cheeks.

'I'm so glad! Lucy said so! Won't she be pleased uncle?'

'Lucy Grenlow?' earnestly gasped Maida.

Mr. Evelyn saw that his dignity was at stake; so wisely lost no time
in granting a permission that was evidently not about to be sought.

'You can explain to Gwynnham where she is going Bridget. Maida, my
niece, Miss D'Urban, will talk to you.'

'We heard of--of you from a nice little thing' Mr. Evelyn frowned--
'our housemaid, I mean,' stammered Bridget, correcting herself.

'Lucy Grenlow?'

'Yes; it seems she has been counting the very hours to your release,
and she reckoned you would be ready to-day.'

'Dear child!' adding slowly, as if in thought, 'she needs a
protector.'

Bridget knew this would not agree with her uncle. She turned towards
him half timidly. The trees were racing again: perhaps he was betting
on them; certainly he was too busy to notice either of his companions.

'Here we are,' cried Bridget, as they drove into sight of the Lodge,
Macquarie Street.

With a pardonable vanity, Lucy had decked herself out in her Sunday
attire. It would be such a glory to surprise Maida, who only knew her
in prison clothes. She had on a neat blue mousseline de laine gown; a
smart white apron the everlasting knitted collar, fastened with an old
bow of Miss D'Urban's; and a jaunty little cap, trimmed with pink
tarlatan, set off the whole most becomingly.

She was standing at the door, awaiting the expected arrival; but no
sooner did she espy Maida through the cab window than she darted into
the house, just as a child which, in the coyness of its delight, runs
to hide from a pleasure it has been anticipating. Not all the rings at
the door-bell could bring Lucy back from her retreat behind the
staircase recess.

'Well, Maida, it seems you must go to Lucy, since she will not come to
you. Poor girl! I wonder her little brain has not addled by this: she
has been in a state of excitement all to-day. This way, Maida; down
those stairs, and turn to your left,' pointed Bridget.

Maida was on the last stair, when Lucy sprang into her arms. Great joy
was in that meeting--as great as though the dramatis personae had been
ladies, perhaps greater--they being captives in the captives' land.

There was a rap at the parlour door, and with a smiling face, and
after a brisk curtsey, Lucy entered.

'What time will you have tea, please, mem--sir?'

Without waiting for answer, she continued:

'Please, sir, may I cook a chop for Maida? It'll be a bit of a treat.
She's dreadful tired, and wearisome all over.'

'Yes, and whilst you are about it, cook a couple for us. We have had
no dinner, you know, and three chops make no more trouble than one,
eh?'

'Lor', no, sir, nothing's no trouble; but I thought, sir, to do
Maida's right away now; she's faintish. You shall have yours nice and
hot, done separate.'

The events of the day had given Lucy a dash of the champion and
heroine. Last evening she would as soon have committed murder as have
allowed anyone the preference to the master. When she brought in the
tea equipage, a dark circle round her eyes told of tears, and she
seemed ready for another cry.

'Well, Lucy, did Maida enjoy her chop and tea?' asked Bridget.

Lucy burst out--'No, mem; she tried for to eat it, and then when I
went for to answer the door, I met Rover running out with it, the
nasty brute! Lor, mem, I can't go for to tell the master, but I'd as
soon see a lady doing of dirty work as she--she'm so grand like--
without going for to mean it.'

It was indeed doleful work in the kitchen. Lucy remembered her first
cup of tea and slice of white bread and butter, and what angels' food
she had thought that meal. She recollected what a paradise the kitchen
had appeared in her sight after the dreary scenes of prison--Millbank,
the voyage, and the Anson. She remembered the first moment of
comparative freedom when, set down to a cheerful tete-a-tete with her
fellow-servant, she had almost forgotten that she was still a
prisoner. She had looked forward to go through all these pleasant
surprises again with her friend, and in the warmth of her affection
she had determined that, if the kitchen had been a paradise to her, it
should be the third heaven to Maida.

Everything was set with scrupulous neatness. No relic of Janet's
filthy administration offended the eye: all was snug. The little oaken
round table, the small brown teapot, the dear old willow-pattern
plates, and blue cups and saucers bore a decidedly English air: the
white loaf, the pat of butter, were almost objects of reverence. No
convict heart long estranged from such sights, could be proof against
so many accumulated comforts.

But Maida Gwynnham was not a convict in heart, though crushed by
convict scorn--though dragged by convict chains. In compassion to Lucy
she tried to reciprocate the almost infantile joy of her blithe
companion. She tried to smile between each of her apostrophes, glad
that they followed each other too quickly to allow of a reply, for
reply Maida could not make; her soul was full to overflowing, full of
such varied emotions that, had they appeared on paper, they would have
appeared a list of contrarieties.

Absorbed in apparent reverie, Mr. Evelyn sat in his armchair. Emmeline
and Bridget from time to time glanced at him to see if his thoughts
were dispersing sufficiently for them to open a conversation with him;
but no, Uncle Ev was not in a mood to be disturbed. There was a
contraction of his brow that they, well understood, for when that sign
of the starfish appeared on his forehead, it was a sure token that his
mind was not at home to the public. Both the girls were speculating on
what might be the result of the rather sudden appearance of the
starfish, when the timepiece warned for nine. Uncle Ev started up,
chair and all, and came down with a bounce at the table; then, drawing
himself into it by the arms of the chair he had brought behind him, he
smoothed the cloth as though smoothing away a difficulty, and uttered
the monosyllabic command:

'Prayers.'

Bridget placed the family Bible before him.

'Ring the bell.'

'We are here, Uncle Ev,' gently suggested Emmeline.

'I know it, my dear--ring the bell Bridget.'

A ray of delight crossed Emmeline's face as she heard the ting-a-tong
of the bell, and she met Bridget's inquiring expression with such a
smile as one could fancy an angel would give, when it had borne a
message of glad tidings to some forlorn sinner.

Lucy appeared in obedience to the summons.

'Prayers,' repeated Mr. Evelyn, without raising his eyes.

'The young ladies is here, sir,' said Lucy, naturally supposing that
since her young mistresses sat at the back of her master they had
escaped his notice.

'Come to prayers; you, Gwynnham, and Robert,' nodded Mr. Evelyn.

She stared; why, what next? and left the room to proclaim the news in
the kitchen, almost stumbling over the stairs in her eagerness to do
so. 'There! we's to go in to devotions all in honour of you. I've only
been in three times since I've been here, and that was when the master
was out of the way, and Parson Evelyn called us in; he don't mind
kneeling down along with we, but the master says he won't have no such
hypocritical doings.'

When they were seated in the parlour, Mr. Evelyn chose the advice
given in the third chapter of Colossians, and before kneeling down, he
expounded, not the Scripture, which was too clear to need
explanations, but his own intentions:

'I mean, Maida, Lucy, and Robert, to commence with you as I have not
lately commenced with any convict. I mean to try you, and if you
deceive me, as others have done, I vow in the sight of the Lord I will
never kneel with a prisoner again. Do not flatter yourselves that I am
prompted to this concession by anything I have heard in your favour;
for you have to work for my good opinion. I permit you to join our
family prayers as a last trial at an experiment which I have hitherto
found unsuccessful, and not as a reward to any character which you may
have brought with you. I never heed reports either for or against
prisoners whom I receive from Government.'

Maida lingered at the door at the conclusion of the prayer.

'No, not to-night, Maida; you can go to bed now. I will talk with you
early to-morrow morning.'

She retired, and seeking Lucy, asked her--'Does Mr.--what is his
name?'

'The master,' replied Lucy, with delicious simplicity. 'I s'pose
that's the language out here--so I says it.'

Maida faintly smiled, and continued:

'Does the master generally give orders the first night?--perhaps it is
from kindness that he tells me to go to bed?'

'Sure to be to you! he always tells us straight away everything, and
frightens us dreadful the very first night--he did me and Janet--and
so he did Peg Walters and Susan.'

Maida returned to the parlour.

'If you please, sir, if it is in consideration to me that you do not
give orders now, perhaps I may say that it would be a relief to me to
receive your commands to-night.'

'Very well; come in--that will do--shut the door, and stand where you
are.'

Bridget managed to stretch before her uncle to reach the snuffers;
then, turning towards him, she syllabled:

'Let--her--sit--down--do.'

'No, Bridget,' responded Mr. Evelyn aloud.

The prisoner stood erect against the door, her face directed as though
looking at her master, but her eyes fixed upon the ground, as much
from weariness as from inward depression; the long, dark lash drooped
over them so heavily that they had no choice but to bend earthwards,
unless they would close entirely. Just as she stood there she would
have made a beautiful variation of the Greek Slave, had Hiram Powers
wanted to vary his immortal marble.

Mr. Evelyn was well accustomed to his present labour; nevertheless,
there was an audible quaver in his voice that a prolonged 'Ahem!' did
not wholly remedy when he commenced:

'Is your health good, Gwynnham?'

'Yes, sir.'

'Your mistress is from home; until her return you will attend to Miss
D'Urban's commands. You are to be general servant, and must be ready
to assist wherever you are wanted. Your wages will be seven pounds a
year, and I shall add a sovereign yearly for seven years, so long as
you deserve it. What is your sentence?'

'For life.'

'A lifer! That is against your future prospects, but not so far as I
am concerned.'

Several shorter 'ahems!' not unlike grunts.

'You do not seem satisfied, Maida Gwynnham. Speak out--have you been
led to expect higher wages?'

'Thank you, I am more than satisfied.'

There was a bitterness in her voice that did not escape Mr.

Evelyn; he stored it by for after-consideration.

'Can you cook?'

Maida's lip quivered. No answer came.

Bridget put herself before her uncle, and whispered:

'Shall I question her? I know how to.'

Bridget also knew that she would manage it more delicately.

'No, Bridget! I am as much pained in thus talking to the woman as you
and she are in listening. Is it not kinder to let her know at once
what she is to expect as a convict servant, than to foster hopes which
would mock her when she reached her kitchen? Your show of feeling is
more distasteful to her than ever my remarks may be. I am not slow to
perceive that Maida is endowed with a nature which will double all the
sufferings inflicted by law, to say nothing of her former position.'

Maida aroused herself; it was enough for her to know that another was
being rebuked on her account. In almost a cheerful voice she
exclaimed:

'I pray of you, Miss D'Urban, not to vex yourself. It is kind of Mr.
Evelyn--I mean master to speak so plainly. I am tired to-night, but
to-morrow, and I trust ever after, I shall appreciate his directions.'

Her whole manner changed; and, assuming the expression of an
interested hearer, she awaited Mr. Evelyn's pleasure, which was to
repeat in an undisturbed tone:

'Can you cook?'

'Not much, sir; I have not had practice, but I will do my best.'

'Can you wash?'

'A little; we washed for the officers on the Anson.'

'Are you a good needlewoman?'

'I am considered so. I worked a great deal for Miss Perkins.'

'Are you willing to be told? Your mistress will soon make a good
servant of you, if you are obedient and willing.'

'I will try, Mr. Evelyn.'

'Sir, if you please.'

'I will try, sir.'

'Do you drink?--or rather, were you given to liquor before your
sentence?'

No answer, but a flush on her cheek.

'Do you drink?--I choose to be answered, Maida.'

Bridget was making her way out of the room, looking more flushed than
Maida, and far more miserable.

'Come back, Bridget; do not be foolish.'

It was a happy interruption; the colour had time to fade from Maida's
cheek, and we suppose Uncle Ev forgot he had not been answered, for he
passed on.

'Have you any children?'

'I'm not married.'

'No consequence. Have you any children in the Queen's Orphan School?'

Had this question been delayed a week, Maida would have known the dire
necessity of putting it alike to married and unmarried, and that it is
one as commonly asked by colonial employers as the everyday inquiries,
Can you cook? or, Can you scrub? As it was, she imagined the question
an insult directed immediately at herself, and her eye burned,
indignant, at the cruelty. What might have been the result of the fire
kindling within, and darting from beneath her dark lashes, those best
can tell who are learned in prison discipline. That the result was
harmless we art glad to report. The imploring gaze of the trembling
Bridget for a third time averted an impending evil, and Maida
smothered her rebellious spirit in an abrupt 'No.' She dared venture
no more.

'Now, Maida, I have done with you. I make a plan of saying at once all
of a disagreeable nature; it will be your own fault if ever you hear
of such subjects again. Do make me your friend, and take in good part
those precautionary rules which may bear the aspect of privations.
Doubtless Lucy has already told you of them. We never allow our women
to go out alone, until such time as they have proved their
trustworthiness beyond the fear that they may return intoxicated, or
be taken by the constable to the watchhouse. Our next rule is equally
painful, but not so important. We make our servants wear their
Government clothes until their first quarter's wages become due. We
have been cheated into this rule by prisoners who, having begged an
advance in order to put off their badge of shame, have spent their
money at the tavern, and then given Government the benefit of the next
three months' labour.

'One word more, Maida. Let me warn you not to renew acquaintance with
any of your shipmates, except Lucy. Much of the after-misery of female
prisoners arises from a continuance of the objectionable intercourse
which, not being able to escape, they learn to delight in during their
voyage and probation. You will need moral courage to remain steadfast
in this turning from your former associates, for you will everywhere
meet them, and everywhere be open to their importunities. They will
invite you to spree with them whenever occasion offers, but--'

A smile of a very undefinable description forced its way to Maida's
lip, and looking on that smile, Mr. Evelyn felt obliged to stop his
exhortation, notwithstanding his dislike to succumb to a prisoner's
feelings. He proceeded to tell Maida that she was to go into Miss
Evelyn's room at seven o'clock to light the fire, the mornings still
being too cold for an invalid; and that, having lighted the fire, she
was to attend to any order given her by Miss Evelyn, and finally go
down and prepare the breakfast.

On leaving the parlour, Maida tried to drop an orthodox convict
curtsey, but that curtsey being a failure, it was followed by one of
Miss Perkins's aversions.

We have followed Maida from the bar of justice to the scene of her
expatriation. The family has retired to rest; one by one its members
have dropped to pleasant sleep. But Emmeline is wakeful. She is not
aware that she has a companion in unrest in the occupant of the
attic--one who, although morning has overtaken midnight, still stands
at her little window, gazing out on what sky is visible through the
narrow aperture. The candle has burnt out, therefore her figure is
indistinct; but the dim light of heaven falls on her face, and
discovers the features of Maida Gwynnham--features enigmatic in their
calmness of expression, and singularly disregardful of wearied
Nature's demands in the unabating vigil which absorbs them into death-
like quiescence.

Save during the involuntary solitude of the cells, or the few moments
snatched from the surveillance of the officers and the company of her
shipmates, Maida has not been alone since she left England. When,
therefore, she closes her bedroom-door upon herself, she can scarcely
believe she is unwatched, nor that from some unseen corner a voice
will not command her to unbolt the door she has dared to lock.

She recalls her interview with Mr. Evelyn; she thinks of what is
expected from her, and thinks and thinks till thought becomes
impalpable, and merges into one deep reverie.



CHAPTER XVIII. THE INITIATION.--WITHIN.


TO Emmeline it was nothing new to expect a strange face. It was not
that expectation, therefore, which prevented her from sleeping, but an
undefined sense of painful interest in the person who was to appear.
She lay awake the greater part of the night, waiting for seven o'clock
in the morning. No wonder, then, that when that hour arrived it found
her asleep. Having been warned to do so, Maida entered Miss Evelyn's
room without knocking at the door. Perceiving that her young mistress
slept, she hesitated to advance; but the lovely countenance reposing
before her attracted her to a nearer contemplation of the peaceful
features, whose transitory quiver (induced by suffering) but showed to
more advantage the calm into which they speedily relapsed.

Emmeline moved her lips, and Maida, thinking she was about to awake,
turned quickly away; but her own name, murmured softly and dreamily,
reached her ear, and again she looked towards the bed.

'Poor Maida--would God--poor--poor--Maida!'

Emmeline opened her eyes with the last word, and slightly started as
she saw a woman of graceful carriage, bearing a faggot on her arm, and
all the necessaries for fire-lighting and grate-cleaning in her hand,
swiftly but stealthily cross the room, and kneel before the hearth. It
needed not a second look to tell her this woman was the object of her
dream, nor a second look to attest Lucy's statement that Maida was no
common prisoner. It was with curious though mournful interest that
Miss Evelyn watched her in this her first act of servitude; and yet
she half doubted whether it could be her first, so adroitly and
unhesitatingly did she begin and pursue her task. There was no token
of helplessness and inability, by show of which, with pardonable
vanity, superior convicts often intend their employers to discover
that they have not been brought up to menial labour. As though she had
been trained to it from her earliest years, Maida leant over the bars
and plied the brush with unremitting energy, until the grate shone
more brightly than it had done for a long time; and then, having
lighted the fire, and swept up the dust and ashes, she gathered her
apparatus together, and arose as quietly and unconcernedly, as would
any housemaid who had done her duty, and nothing beyond.

Miss Evelyn hastily closed her eyes, hoping Maida would not know she
had been awake; but the movement was not so rapid as to escape Maida.
Though she did not turn towards Emmeline, she perceived it, and
appreciated the delicate kindness. But, proud and determined as she
had entered, she could not leave the room without expressing her
altered mood in a voluntary offer of her service. She stopped at the
door, and asked, in a voice so gentle that no one would suppose it was
a murderess who spoke:

'Can I do anything for you before I go downstairs?'

Miss Evelyn wanted nothing, but hearing in Maida's voiced desire to
help her, she said she should like to be raised a little higher, and
have her pillows beaten up. The request was a proof of confidence that
touched the prisoner to the quick; it told her that, whatever
indignities might elsewhere be heaped upon her, she would have none to
fear from the gentle being whose head, now resting on her shoulder,
dreaded no contamination from convict garments. She was again
preparing to leave the room, when Emmeline, unable to refrain,
stretched her long, thin hand to her, and exclaimed:

'Maida, this hand will, perhaps, ere long, be stiff in death; take it
now, as a pledge of proffered friendship. Yes--do not start;
distinctions made in life are useless on a bed of sickness. I repeat,
take it as a pledge of friendship, which I offer from my heart.'

Maida did not approach, and the hand dropped heavily upon the bed;
emaciated as it was, it was too heavy for self-support. It rested a
moment, and then again presented itself, accompanied by a look that
overcame Maida's unwillingness to yield. Those who know Maida will not
be surprised that, having once taken the proffered pledge, she clasped
it with a fervency that satisfied Emmeline's most sanguine
anticipation, but still she did not speak.

'You started at that word friendship, Maida; perhaps you thought I
used it on the impulse of feeling, but no. I have lived in this
country nearly all my life, and have found that one of the grand
miseries of the convicts is having no friend to speak to, no friend to
confide in; therefore, when I see one of my own sex newly arrived, I
feel deeply for her, knowing what she will have to go through, even in
a family where prisoners are kindly treated, and I long to become her
friend, so that, when her heart is overwhelmed within, she may feel
she has some one to whom to speak her grief. I must be your friend,
Maida; something tells me I must be.'

She laid her other hand over Maida's (which still held hers in a warm
though tremulous grasp), and fixed an eye so tender, so beseeching on
her, that Maida had much ado to hide the emotion which struggled in
her bosom. But she did hide it, and that so well that Emmeline heard
no trace of it in the calm voice that answered:

'Should I need a confidential adviser or friend, Miss Evelyn, I shall,
with gratitude, avail myself of your kindness; but I am averse to
promises--they have painful weight with me, forcing me against my
inclination. Were I to give the promise, I should fulfil it with as
much reluctance as I should with unwillingness break it. It is not in
my nature to confide in anyone.'

'As I said before, you will find everyone in this house kind to you,
and disposed to assist your views for the future; but when your
thoughts revert to home, and the chair by the chimney-corner--when
your heart is rent by misgivings, or wounded by reproach--you will
want something more than that; it is that something I desire to be. I
do not wish to draw a promise from you. What is your sentence?'

'Life.'

'A lifer! Oh, Maida! then you have not even the small hope that buoys
up other hearts; you need a better friend than I.'

'Amount of sentence is nothing to me; from the absence of all
endearing ties or pleasant memories, locality is a matter of
indifference. I have no one in England to wish me back--no one for
whom I would wish to return; a despised creature I was sent thence,
and a despised creature I remain here; ignominy is stamped upon me,
and would be the same in any place. If I might fix on one spot beyond
another, the one in which my heart would become the most hardened, and
my mind the most forgetful of the past, should be the object of my
choice.'

'Have you no parents--no relatives, Maida?'

'I do not know; I fear to know.'

An expression of anguish here compressed Maida's features, and pain
was visible in the shudder that caused her to clasp her hand upon her
bosom.

'Oh, my father! Poor old man! was that letter his death?' burst from
her lips ere she could control her words and bid the grief hide
unuttered in her heart.

Though ignorant of Maida's history, Emmeline read the tale of sorrow
revealed in that bitter cry. She knew that, the broad world over,
heart answers to heart, and that the parent of the prisoner standing
by her bed had passed through all the tortures that had stricken other
parents to their graves; and if not sunk already, his life must be a
prolonged dying, to which the article of death itself would be a state
most blissful. A broken-hearted parent is one of the many untold
calamities following the prisoner's career.

The door was pushed open, and Lucy, unbidden, advanced. Not heeding
Miss Evelyn, she exclaimed, with a frightened air:

'Oh, Maida, I'm in such a way; 'tis nigh to eight, and there's a sight
to do yet; if the master comes down, and finds it ain't done, he'll be
after you, and then there'll be a row, and p'raps trouble, if he finds
I've been and done them door-steps for you.' (Dropping a curtsey to
Emmeline.) 'I beg pardons, mem. I forgot you was here; you see, mem, I
feels in a twitter like, 'cause it's her first day out, and the
master'll be sharp on her.'

'And you feel responsible?' asked Emmeline, smiling.

Lucy glanced at Maida to see how she took this, to her delight there
was no expression of annoyance on the latter's face.

'Why you see, mem, I told the master of she, and natural like I feels
anxious. I wouldn't have them fall out for no amount.'

'Come then, Lucy, I will try to do you credit,' said Maida.

Emmeline gazed at her in surprise; she could not believe that the
almost playful tone belonged to the person who a few minutes since had
spoken so bitterly.

'Miss Evelyn, I thank you sincerely for your noble intentions, and
regret that mine should disappoint them; you will not judge harshly of
one who from long disuse has forgotten how to apply confidence or
value a friend.'

'Lor', mem, don't she curtsey beautiful!' Admiration was in every line
of Lucy's face as she turned to Emmeline for co-appreciation of
Maida's exit. 'Lor', mem, you should have seen her 'mong our women on
the Anson; she was as grand as Mrs. Bowden any day, and she was grand
enough to frighten the wits out of the best of us,' lowering her
voice.

'Lor', mem, now she's come I'm half afeared how she'll get on with the
master. She ain't like one of us, to take it all natural, and the
master won't put up with nothing from no one. Says he last night: "If
Maida's a wise woman, she'll bear what she's got to bear, and if she
don't, she must be made to;" and that's what she'll never do. I always
says she likes bearing of things, but if she don't choose, nobody can
make her to; not even Mrs. Bowden.'

Mr. Evelyn's voice on the stairs sent Lucy fluttering away in search
of Maida, who to her delight stood in the dining-room enveloped in a
cloud of dust sufficient to smother all dread of the master's anger.
Order speedily followed Maida's steps, and the breakfast was duly laid
before Mr. Evelyn appeared.

'That's Bob,' said Lucy, as Maida glanced at a man washing at the
pump-trough.

'Welcome, missus,' answered Sanders, turning with towel in hand and
dripping face. 'I guess we shan't always be kept waiting after this
fashion--a fellow wants his breakfast when he's been out with his
hosses--howsomever, glad to see you clear of Gover'ment for a while;
I'm hearty glad it's you come instead of a free woman. The mistress
vowed she'd get a migrate next time; 'taint many things I'm not
willing for, but them free folks is one that I can't 'bide. I likes to
have my equals about me; them as won't take airs because they've never
been Gover'ment; they'm always getting trouble on a feller, the
mothers be.'

'What is this trouble I am always hearing of, Lucy?' asked Maida,
anxious to turn the subject.

'Oh, everything is trouble out here that happens to prisoners.'

'Hang trouble! when a feller wants his breakfast and can't get it;
that's trouble enough, ain't it, Madda?' said Bob; 'all I hopes is
that you won't know it no more than that, for when trouble begins on a
feller, the devil if it don't stick to him like mud. Come now, don't
feel shy, Madda, or what's you called, we shall be fine together soon;
we don't look to what our mates have done worse than we. Gover'ment
mark's the same on all on us, whether it's for murder or lifting; and
hang the Gover'ment clothes--a hansom lass is an hansom lass, whether
she've got on brown or blue; and the 'air ain't a consideration,
seeing he grows in no time.'

And Bob, by way of illustration, drew his fingers through his long,
greasy hair.

So the three sat down together, and the meal passed. Bob thought he
had never devoured a better, for he had not only 'ate his wittels in
peace,' but had been able to hear the sound of his voice in
enlightening his new mate on a few points of penal etiquette.

'An't he handsome, Maida?' exclaimed Lucy, as he walked off.

Lucy arose, deceived into a hope that Maida had enjoyed not only her
breakfast, but her introduction to Bob; the affectionate little being
had forgotten to enjoy hers in the full occupation of watching the
effect made by the two on each other. Now she listened to Bob with
Maida's ears but with none of her feelings; then gazed at Maida with
Bob's eyes. The mutual impression would have been very startling could
she have stamped it. Bob was a great person in her sight. He had
nearly won his ticket, and his significant hints of what he meant to
do when he really possessed it, had not been lost upon her.

A month drags wearily by, and Bridget uses the announcement of her
Aunt Evelyn and Uncle Herbert's return as a plea for begging Uncle Ev
to relax his rule for only just once, and let Maida put off at any
rate her convict gown and cap: but Uncle Ev is inexorable; he abides
to the letter of his declared intentions; he abates not his strict
discipline one whit for all his niece's rhetoric.

Emmeline knows him of old, and expects no concession. Bridget gets
warm, and charges the executors of the law with partiality; and on an
explanation being demanded she says that they pretend to have no
respect of persons in dealing punishments, whereas they do very
exceedingly favour the person of the poor above that of the rich, in
awarding him only pain for the same crime of which torture is the
award to his more wealthy brother. Explanation second being demanded,
Miss D'Urban asks if there can be any comparison between the amount of
suffering endured by the two classes undergoing the same sentence of
transportation. She instances Maida who, over and above the usual
miseries of convict life, has loss of caste, subordination to her
inferiors, association with coarse and uneducated minds, and daily,
hourly degradation in a hundred points which are neither degrading nor
annoying to Bob and Lucy whose moral caste alone is lowered by
transportation; who in submitting to overseers and officers, have no
fine feelings to be wounded; who, being born to serve and labour with
their hands, would as soon, if well treated, work in Australia as in
England, could they only forget the little fact that they 'did not
come free to the colony;' who, being born to take their meals in
kitchens with numberless Sams and Johns, Betsies and Annes, have
memories no further taunting in convict association than such as the
recollection of bygone Sams and Betsies may bring.

She then instances the case of one Quicke, who had been a physician.
She repeats to Uncle Ev all she has heard Uncle Herbert tell of his
sufferings on the peninsula, where he got punished for not being able
to do as much hard work as men who had been used to manual labour from
their infancy; where heartbroken wretchedness was visited as
sullenness, and what small show of manly pride he dared manifest was
called refractoriness; he outstayed all his contemporaries, because he
couldn't be recommended as a servant in any particular capacity, and
because most kindly owners disliked to have their fallen equals
beneath them; until degraded to a lower standard than those who were
his inferiors by birth and education, he implored Uncle Herbert, who
met him in the cells, to try to find him a situation when he was again
eligible, adding, with tears in his eyes, 'I will do anything but
cook; that I'm afraid I cannot undertake.' She then asks Uncle Ev if
the punishment given to this Quicke is not a thousand times worse than
that which (for the same offence) is given to his neighbour, though a
beautiful equality of sentence is intended in passing fourteen years
on each. After the fashion of Tennyson's Princess, and by way of
embellishing the effect she doubts not she has made, Miss D'Urban here
taps her kid-slippered foot several times on the carpet.

'Bravo, Miss D'Urban! you plead as one who has her subject at heart,
if not her ideas at command. I shall recommend your appearing in
propria persona before the home Government. I am sure those zeal-
flushed cheeks will victimize the whole set, and make them grant your
request, even to the half of their convict-punishing prerogative.'

'No, no; if I go to anyone, I'll go straight to the Queen. I don't
believe she knows half that's done in her name. I got that from Dr.
Lamb's servant. The other day I was talking to her, and she said
something about the Queen, for which I reprimanded her; when she, poor
thing, afraid, I suppose, that I should find some means of informing
her gracious Majesty, drew a very long, humble face, and said, "I
haven't nothing to say against the Queen. I dare say she's a very
proper young lady. Very like there's lots of mischief put off on her
that she don't know nothing about. Please, miss, not for to think that
I've particular ill-will to her." By-the-by, Uncle Ev, speaking of her
Majesty, don't you think it's rather odd to make the prisoners keep
her birthday? They must celebrate it with a very bad grace.'

'It's rather a cram, certainly: but it's curious how, with a few
exceptions, repugnance to the object of the feast is swallowed in the
feast itself. Extra rations cover multitude of animosities for the
time. An arch fellow once asked me for a fig to smoke her Majesty's
birthday. On giving him a few pence, he put his finger pipe-like to
his mouth, and said, mock reverently, "May she never want a feller to
smoke her, neither here or hereafter!" Another convict, of whom I
asked what share he had taken in the birthday festivities, said, with
a sly twinkle in his eye, "I'd got the ringing of the bells--a jolly
sweat 'twas of it. It would have made me rather bilious if it had gone
down alone, but I drove it down with other victuals, so I believe it
digested; at any rate, it hasn't done no further harm than make me
feel mawkish hereabout," laying his hand on his stomach. Well. Miss
Bridget, away, and make your appeal. Her Majesty's ear is ever ready
to bend to the cry of distress; and, notwithstanding all the convicts
in this hemisphere, every colonist is ready to pray, God save the
Queen! I am inclined to say, with Dr. Lamb's servant, I don't think
she knows all that is done in her name, especially to poor Tasmania
and Tasmania's convicts. But who is this?'

'Dear old Em, positively, come down alone! How did you manage it? by
crawling on all-fours?' exclaimed Bridget.

'No, I have had good assistance' (smiling towards Maida, who, on
perceiving her master and Miss D'Urban, had relinquished her hold of
Miss Evelyn). 'Don't you leave me until I am settled in my chair.'

But Uncle Ev, having kissed his niece, left the room, and Bridget
followed him, fancying Maida would like to be a few moments with
Emmeline.

During the month which initiated her into Mr. Evelyn's service, Maida
perceived that she had foes as well as friends in the household. The
nursemaid had conceived a hatred for her from the very first, the
cause of which hatred was twofold--jealousy and disappointment. In the
simplicity of her heart, Lucy had confided to Rachel her hope that a
match might come off between the hero of the stables and the heroine
of the kitchen. This confided hope, together with Lucy's unbounded
praise of her friend, inspired Rachel with jealousy, while the
rigidity with which Maida enforced her master's rule, that nurse
should not go into the kitchen after tea hour, disappointed her of
meeting Robert, and supping in his company. In Janet's time, the chief
rigidity had been in the constant watch kept for seizing opportunities
for infringing this rule. The altered state of things Rachel set down
to design on the part of Maida, who, she declared, had a purpose in
view in thus shutting her out. In prejudicing Charlie's mind, she
found one means of venting her jealous spite. Under her tuition, the
little fellow's aversion had increased into decided animosity. Taught
to associate Maida's name with murders and other horrors, he quite
trembled if she happened to come into the nursery after dark. The
story of a shocking murder, just perpetrated in Hobart Town, served
his nurse for an illustration of what would be his, or his infant
sister's fate, if either offended that wicked woman; and Charlie was
made to learn the illustration by heart, until he firmly believed that
Maida would make as little of tossing him into the water-butt as of
submerging a surplus kitten. On the contrary, Maida had so gained
baby's heart, that the little creature no sooner found the nursery
guard-gate unlatched than she would toddle out with, 'Baby go see
Midda,' and slide down stair after stair, until she reached the
kitchen. Bridget often was privy to such an escape, knowing how Maida
delighted in the child; and Uncle Ev himself, for all his scolding of
careless Rachel, was once known to be guilty of not stopping baby from
going any further when he caught her on the stairs. He excused himself
by dwelling on the danger of frightening her when in the act of stair-
sliding.

All interested in Maida's welfare rather dreaded Mrs. Evelyn's return.
All had a misgiving that they would not agree; though could such a
misgiving have reached Mrs. Evelyn, it would have astonished her
beyond measure, for she prided herself on being an excellent convict-
mistress; the excellence of convict-mistressism, according to her,
commencing with liberality in rations, and ending with an
unwillingness to get prisoners into trouble. Little etceteras--such as
not reminding them of their fallen estate, remembering that they had
other feelings beside those of hunger and bodily pain--did not enter
into her list of necessaries. To the abject notions of most convicts
she was a good mistress, for they reckoned by negatives after the
primary considerations of appetite had been satisfied. A free servant,
in recounting to a new-comer the advantages of her situation, mentions
all that is therein done for her: 'Mistress allows me this, and gives
me that; she lets me go there,' etc., etc. But the convict hireling
tells his fellows--not all that his mistress does for him, but all
that she does not do. In trying to cheer his mate, he says, 'This is a
better place than you'll get again; she don't get us into trouble; she
don't send us for punishment; she don't do this; she don't do that.'

But Emmeline and Bridget felt that Maida would require something
beyond such animal kindness. In the desire of favourably impressing
her aunt, Bridget wrote several eulogiums on Maida and Maida's skill,
intermingling them with a few expressions of pity for her fate, and
hope that she would be happy in Uncle Ev's family. Mrs. Evelyn wrote
back her delight that the new woman did her work well, and hoped of
all things that she kept the door-steps clean. 'As to pitying her, my
dear,' she said, 'there is no need of that waste of ink and paper.
These Government people can't have much feeling, or they wouldn't be
in their present position; what little feeling they once had, you may
depend is gone now. I have been surrounded with them all my life, and
never met with any who cared for being prisoners. With regard to her
being happy, why shouldn't she be, my dear? I give my people plenty to
eat, and I don't get them into trouble half as much as they deserve in
fact, when I meet with a man or a woman that suits me I'd rather put
up with anything than get him or her into trouble, for fear I should
not be able to hire them back. P.S.--I hope, my dear, you are not
making Maida think too much of what she does.'

Mrs. Evelyn had not arrived half an hour before she expressed a wish
to see the new woman.

'My dear, I wonder she did not bring up the tray on purpose to let me
see her.'

'Perhaps, she would rather meet you first alone, aunt,' explained
Bridget.

'Oh no, my dear, there's not the least occasion for that; I don't
object to speaking to her before you. Ring the bell.'

Uncle Ev walked out of the room; Uncle Herbert had not yet entered.

'Let the new woman come up, Lucy; I can talk to her a little while I
take my chop--it will save me time.'

Maida entered.

'Oh yes, she's a nice height--perhaps I shall turn you into a
housemaid--and your name is--?'

'Maida Gwynnham.'

'That will do very well; I like to have pretty names about me. Maida
sounds pretty; the other name's rather glumpy. What are you for?'

'I was sent out for murder.'

'Patience me! my dear; whatever was your uncle thinking of when he
hired this woman? One would think her good looks bewitched him; he
forgets that we may get killed in cold blood.' (To Maida) 'Does the
master know what you are for?'

'He has never spoken to me on the subject.'

'How very thoughtless of him! I like him to bring home bad prisoners
because they are always clever when they are very bad; but I never
bargained to have a murderer about my heels. The idea is not at all
pleasant--convicts are so apt to repeat the crime for which they have
been sentenced;' (turning again to her nieces) 'there was Louisa
Ferris, my dears, she tried to cut off her husband's head at home, and
out here she tried to cut off young Turnbull's head, or something very
like it. What sort of a temper is she, Bridget?'

Bridget did not answer; Mrs. Evelyn, with a gesture of annoyance,
turned to Maida with:

'Well, you are here, and I suppose must stay; but you must mind what
you are about; I shall watch your temper, and if I see anything in it
I don't like, I shall send you back to Government, which is the proper
place for such as you; we don't like having dangerous people about us
any more than the English do. You'll be very foolish if you don't
behave well, for this is an excellent situation, and the master and
myself are very kind to our people. You'll have plenty of food--butter
too, which you wouldn't get everywhere--it's eighteen-pence a pound
out here, even in summer, and that's too much for convicts to eat--but
we don't mind; we expect our Government men and women to work,
therefore we feed them well. You find she does very well in the house,
don't you, my dear?'

'Yes, aunt,' murmured Bridget.

'What were you at home? You seem to be superior--a dressmaker, or
something in that way, I suppose.'

'I have made dresses, ma'am.'

'Have you lived in service before?'

'No.'

'Who did you murder? Your illegitimate child, I suppose; that's
generally the way.'

Maida replied not; a line of supreme contempt curled her lip.

'I don't ask for curiosity; but because I should like to know on what
particular point to be on my guard; for instance, I should feel
especially awkward if you had murdered a former mistress.'

'These are impertinent questions, and you have no right to put such to
me! I shall not answer you, my mistress though you be!' Maida moved
towards the door.

'There, now!' cried Mrs. Evelyn; 'have I not need to fear? If the
creature can toss herself into a rage just for a trifle, what would
she not do for more than a trifle? Charlie, run and tell her to come
back; I've no notion of letting her off.'

'And yet, no; perhaps she'll strike you. Really papa shouldn't put
one's life in danger in this cool manner.'

'She's such a horrid creature, mamma: Rachel, and Lucy, and me, and
baby is all drefful afraid of her.'

'My Charlie, you mustn't call anything horrid creature; 'tisn't a
pretty word for a little boy to say; but you must keep out of that
woman's way. It's a pity we talk so before him; 'twill frighten him,
poor dear.'

When Maida closed the door, another on the opposite side opened on
her, and she stood face to face with Mr. Herbert Evelyn. Both
instantly recognised each other.

'Martha Grylls! Is it possible? Are you, then, the Maida Gwynnham that
my niece has been writing so much about?'

He laid his hand on her shoulder; the touch thrilled through her, and,
as if by supernatural power, surrounded her with images of the past.
Drooping so as to disengage herself from Mr. Herbert's hand, she
rushed to the kitchen.

To us who have followed Maida from prison to Tasmania, it would seem
strange that Mr. Herbert had never mentioned her to his daughter, or
that during the month of his absence no inadvertency had revealed to
Emmeline Maida's previous knowledge of her father; nor to Maida, that
the Mr. Evelyn of England and the Mr. Herbert of the Lodge were one
and the same person. But when we remember that Mr. Evelyn was summoned
by Bridget to his daughter just after he had assisted Mr. Gwynnham
from the platform to his house, and from his house had resigned him to
the charge of an old servant, who arrived by the next train to meet
and return with his master--when we recollect that by Emmeline's side
it was likely he should forget all but the exertions necessary to bear
her from England ere autumn merged into winter--we cease to wonder
that the family had not become acquainted with the name of Martha
Grylls before Lucy recommended the person who bore it to Uncle Ev's
attention. And as for the second wonder, we must content ourselves
with recollecting that we should never have wondered it at all had the
discovery not taken place. Maida had often questioned whether her
young mistress might not be related to the clergyman who had visited
her in prison; her quiet yet earnest manner of speaking often reminded
her of him, and she fancied she could trace a likeness: but the fear
of having her question answered affirmatively prevented her seeking a
reply. Much as she respected the memory of that kind friend, she felt
averse to meeting him, as, according to her view of things, pain only
could accrue from such an interview; and also she wished to have no
claim, beyond that which she should win, on the gentle invalid, whom
she already regarded with a feeling that anyone but herself would have
called love.



CHAPTER XIX. BEING ONE ABOUT BRIDGET.


MR. WALKDEN had been in the dining-parlour with Uncle Ev for more than
an hour, when the latter left the room, and running upstairs, told
Bridget she was wanted below. She tried to find out who wanted her,
but Uncle Ev wouldn't satisfy her; nevertheless he made her promise to
appease his curiosity when she returned.

'Oh! it's Mr. Walkden,' she exclaimed, on entering the parlour; 'and
Uncle Ev told me that I was wanted.'

'And may not Mr. Walkden want you?' replied that gentleman, with a
peculiarity of emphasis which Bridget could not but notice, though she
did not marvel at it.

'Oh, yes! if 'tisn't about frescoes; I've been afraid of them ever
since I first saw you.'

'Then you remember when you first met me, Miss D'Urban?'

'I've reason to,' said Bridget archly.

'And so have I,' answered Mr. Walkden, in the same peculiar tone.

Then neither knew what to say, and Mr. Walkden arose and shut the
door; on which Bridget said:

'Oh! do you like the door shut? it is so warm.'

Mr. Walkden went over to the window to see the state of the weather,
and Bridget supposed he was very short-sighted, since he could not see
the sky from where he sat. It only took a half-moment to look out, but
that half-moment seemed long to Bridget, who began to feel
uncomfortable lest Uncle Ev had been playing her a trick, so she
followed Mr. Walkden and asked:

'Did you want me? Oh! I forgot; perhaps you are going to take me to
see the Queen's Orphan School, I shall like that amazingly;' and a
gleam of pleasure lighted her countenance.

'I will take you wherever you wish to go, Miss D'Urban.'

'You good, kind man! suppose I say I wish to go back to England--what
then? You see with me it is necessary to think twice before you speak
once.'

'That has already been done; and I repeat, if you will go with me I
will take you to whatever place you name.'

'Whatever does he mean!' thought Bridget: but only for an instant:
simpleton as she was, she could not doubt his meaning; her simple
thoughts said to her, in words of plain language:

'He wants to marry you.'

Those who know Bridget D'Urban only as the light-hearted, merry-
singing girl, will be astonished to hear how calm she became directly
her thoughts said those simple words to her; with what womanly
composure she listened to Mr. Walkden's proposal; and with what modest
dignity she told him that she had left England on purpose to nurse her
cousin, and could not, therefore, pledge herself to anyone; nor could
all that Mr. Walkden urged make her say more.

Bridget hoped Uncle Ev knew nothing about it; she blushed as she met
him on the stairs, but he only pinched up her face, and kissed her, as
he had done a hundred times before, so she fancied her secret was
safe.

'Where's Walkden?' he called after her, in a careless tone, when she
had passed him.

'Gone,' she answered as carelessly; and that little monosyllable told
Uncle Ev the result of the interview.

Mrs. Evelyn was very disappointed when she heard it; for whilst her
niece had been with Mr. Walkden, she had employed herself in planning
a wedding-breakfast, and had just finished laying the last corner-dish
on the ideal table, when Uncle Ev told her that he guessed his
friend's suit had been rejected.

The morning's event had taken no one by surprise but Bridget herself.
Mr. Walkden had frequented the house too often to leave the
supposition on any one's mind that he came without purpose. Had
Emmeline been a less-condemned invalid, his great attentions to her
might have created the suspicion that she was the magnet; but as the
case lay, it would have been an injustice to her, as well as to Mr.
Walkden, to suppose that his intentions towards her were more than
such as any kind friend of a family would show to a sick member.
Bridget, therefore, was the only accountable reason for his almost
daily visits.

'Em darling, I've got something to tell you in the evening, I can't
tell you before, because I don't want you to see me whilst I am
talking,' said she to Emmeline.

When the evening came she nestled down by her cousin's sofa, and
laying her face in her two hands, her eyes peeped out from them with a
more quiet brightness than usual.

'Em, I wish you knew what I've got to tell you: I'm longing to talk
all about it, but it's horrid to begin. I am happy and vexed, and
vexed and happy. I'm vexed because I'm afraid I've vexed somebody, and
happy because--'

A luxuriously rosy tinting of her cheek, discernible through the
twilight, was left to reveal the tale of her happiness.

'Did Mr. Walkden appear very grieved, Bridget?'

'Oh, then you know! How ever could you?'

'I have known it a long time.'

'How? he never told you before he spoke to me?' and without waiting
for an answer she jumped up, saying:

'How very disagreeable! what a rude man! I dare say he asked
everybody's leave; and now Uncle Ev will be teasing me.'

'Nobody told me, Bridget dear; but I have a pair of steadier eyes than
you. Yours have been dancing about, lighting too slightly on every
object to discover a fact embodied so plainly in one as to attract the
notice of us all.'

'Ah! but, perhaps, if I'd liked Mr. Walkden, I should have noticed. I
never once thought about caring for him.'

'That is just because you are Bridget.'

'What you say explains a great many things that I remember. It's so
horrid that things only get explained after they have happened, and
make one look stupid.'

'For instance: when a gentleman gives a young lady, with whom he is
desperately in love, a choice rose that he has bought on purpose for
her, and when she takes it, and says, after thanking him for it
without a single comprehending blush, "Ah! it's a pity, because we
have so many in the garden"--it would be far better if explained to
the young lady that he had purchased the rose with silver, and
presented it with painful hope--eh, Miss D'Urban?' exclaimed Uncle
Ev's sly voice over her shoulder.

'You horrid Uncle Ev, do go along with you; I don't want anyone to be
desperately in love with me unless I am with him, for I hate vexing
anyone. I was delighted at first to think I had a real offer, the same
as I have often heard of; but now I'm sorry, and feel as if I ought to
marry him because he loves me so. I'm--' and Bridget burst into tears.

To this moment she had disguised deeply-pained feeling beneath a
playful manner; but now, too severely tested, she gave way. Uncle Ev
was truly sorry he had grieved her: so, kissing her tenderly, he left
the two girls to talk out those feelings which it is best for girlish
sympathies to exchange.

'I think it is very wrong to make a jest of these subjects--I do,
indeed,' said Bridget, resuming her old corner by Emmeline. 'I'm fond
of fun, but can never see what fun there can be in grieving others;
and if these things are true, there must be grief on one side of the
question.'

The cousins had a long and serious conversation on the proposal made
by Mr. Walkden, at the close of which Bridget felt more composed,
under the conviction that, sorry as she was for the gentleman, duty
did not call her to engage herself to him for the sole purpose of what
she termed 'unvexing' him.

The fervour of the benison wherewith Uncle Herbert blessed his niece
that night made her very happy, she felt that the only fact she had
concealed of that day's event was guessed and silently appreciated by
him:

'Yea and she shall be blessed!' he ejaculated, as he heard her light
steps retreating for the night.



CHAPTER XX. THE POST-OFFICE.


ON the day in which Maida was sent out under Bridget's guardianship to
exchange her first quarter's wages for articles of clothing, the
latter called at the general post-office to inquire when the next
vessel would sail for England. Outside the office hung a placard
giving a long list of prisoners for whom unclaimed letters lay within.
Whilst waiting for her young mistress, Maida cast her eye part of the
way through the list, when her attention was arrested by the name of
Martha Grylls. She hastened to demand the letter; the clerk handed her
one, saying:

'Sixteen pence to pay before you touch it.'

'I have not so much; do let me look at the address.'

'Martha Grylls, Post-Office, Hobart Town, Van Diemen's Land. To be
left until inquired for; or if not inquired for to be returned to,'
etc., etc.--she read in characters that she well knew were from
Norwell's pen.

'I am Mr. Evelyn's servant, cannot you trust me?'

'Mr. Evelyn's or not, we never trust prisoners, one day here, the next
in trouble.'

'Miss D'Urban, will you lend me sixteen pence? there is a packet for
me within and I can't get it, having spent all my money.'

'I could, but I dare not, uncle would be so angry, and yet if I know
how you spend it, I don't see how he could object.'

'No, thank you kindly, I'll not risk his displeasure for you; with
your permission I'll get the person at the shop to take back one pair
of stockings; that will just give me the sum I require.'

To the shop they went, Bridget waiting without whilst Maida tried to
accomplish her desire; but the attendant was obstinate: he pronounced
it against rule to receive goods once removed from the counter. Maida
pleaded in a way she would not have condescended to, but for so dear
an object.

'What does the woman request of thee, James?' asked the master of the
shop, who belonged to the Society of Friends, and whose benevolent
character, education, and gentlemanlike deportment made him an honour
to the excellent fraternity he headed. James informed Mr. Washington.

'Thou sayest truly that thou mayest not swerve from my rule; but thou
canst not forbid my doing so, canst thou, James?'

And with a benignant smile he gave Maida one shilling and fourpence,
saying:

'It is a small service, but I am well pleased to do it for thee. I
hope thy letter will bring thee good news of thy home.'

Maida was leaving the shop, when she felt a gentle tap on her arm.

Mr. Washington stood behind her; he placed a little packet in her
hand, at the same time whispering:

'It did not occur to me that these stockings may be necessary to
thee.'

As though understanding Maida's look, he smiled:

'Receive it as a gift, or pay for it at thy convenience; I do not bind
thee either to thanks or payment. Fare-thee-well.'

He had retired before she could reply.

It were needless to relate the trepidation with which Maida tore open
the letter when she reached her kitchen; she trembled with eager
suspense until she had read every word therein contained.

'My precious Maida!' she repeated slowly to herself, after she had
read it through. 'How does he reckon preciousness? If by endurance the
amount must have increased since that time we sat together in the
park, when he told me I was his precious Maida; then I had suffered
nothing but those pleasant pangs they call first love. Now, ah! but he
too has suffered, for he says: "I have not known a moment's happiness
since you left." I am glad to hear it for your sake, Norwell; for mine
I would it were otherwise--what is this?'

She picked up a bank-note for five pounds that fell from the envelope.

She gazed at it, and then with a gesture of disgust thrust it into the
fire. At that instant Rachel entered the kitchen. She had perceived
the action during the moment she lingered outside the door, and now
seeing Maida hastily put a letter into her bosom, she guessed there
must be a secret going on, and determined to make the most of what she
had seen, in serving her malicious purpose.

Assuming a very grieved countenance, she immediately proceeded to
inform her mistress that she sadly feared the woman Gwynnham was not
as honest as folk believed her to be; she recounted the story of the
burning of the banknote, and then requested leave just to ask if it
was likely that her going into the kitchen should frighten an honest
body into burning honest money.

Mrs. Evelyn thought it most unlikely, and Rachel said, to her poor way
of thinking, it was more suspicious still that Maida had bought
neither cap, gown, nor bonnet, but had spent her money only in such
things as would be useful to her anywhere, which seemed exactly as
though she expected trouble, for, of course, nobody would buy finery
if they were sure of being sent to cage in a few days. Don't that look
as if she'd done something she expected to be punished for?

But Mrs. Evelyn did not think so; she said Maida was so odd a
creature, it was as difficult to know what she would not do as what
she would do.

'However,' she added, 'I'll have no such freaks played by my convicts:
they shall wear prison as long as I choose, but not a moment longer. I
don't choose to see the dismal brown about me after the first
quarter.'

'Certainly not, ma'am; they's most as bad to see as to wear,
especially for the quality.'

'Go down and tell the woman to come up and bring her purchases with
her. It's all a part of the same impertinence.'

'It's after tea, ma'am; am I to go into the kitchen?' asked Rachel,
innocently demure.

'How else can you call her?--don't pretend.'

With a glow of malicious delight off glided Rachel to send up Maida,
and 'to get a trifle out of Bob's company' during her absence.

'What do you mean by not spending your money properly?' demanded the
mistress, ere Maida had time to close the door.

'I have bought very proper articles, ma'am; however, you shall judge
for yourself,' answered Maida quietly.

But three pairs of stockings, a pair of stays, a pair of boots,
slippers, and a few yards of calico did not convince Mrs. Evelyn. She
persisted that there should be print for a gown and some lace, with
ribbons for caps. Maida said the money would not spread any further;
on which her mistress declared that all those articles should be
exchanged for others more suiting to her taste--she was not going to
be annoyed by prison dress after she had secured the first quarter's
work. She asked Maida where her senses had strayed, that she should
suppose her inner garments were of any benefit to her mistress.

Maida did not reply: after a dead pause Mrs. Evelyn burst out:

'And where did you get that bank-note which you burnt when you heard
Rachel coming?'

'It came in a letter I received from England.'

'You must let me see that letter, or I shan't believe you; it would
never do for a respectable house to harbour a thief, for whom the
constable may even now be searching. It is certain you haven't taken
it from us, because we have not lost any money, but how do I know that
you did not steal it from the shop this afternoon?'

'Because I tell you to the contrary,' replied Maida haughtily.

Mrs. Evelyn gave a little quick, amused laugh.

'Who is it from, then?'

'From one of whom I'd rather not speak.'

Another little laugh.

'You really are a very odd woman, Maida, but I must be satisfied when
I wish to know anything about my prisoners.'

'Well, then, you shall know!' cried Maida bitterly. 'It is from the
man who ruined me, body and soul. He sent me money which I flung in
the fire since I could not fling it back to him.'

'No! did you really? well, you are a very odd creature; why, I would
have kept it for you until you wanted another dress.'

'I would wear no garment of its buying, except a shroud; and yet, no!
not even that; death should not be so scandalized by me.'

Mrs. Evelyn gave another little laugh, and said between her teeth:

'Dear, dear!'

'Do you still wish to see the letter?'

'Oh yes, certainly; I have said so, and mean to be obeyed.'

Maida drew it from her bosom, and approaching the hearth, threw it
into the fire, exclaiming:

'There let it burn! It could only fool me if I kept it.'

'You wicked woman! Is that the way you spite me; what will you do
next?' cried her mistress.

Maida laid her hand on the poker, she only wanted to push the letter
further into the grate; but the movement appearing to be a reply to
the question, 'What will you do next?' alarmed Mrs. Evelyn, and
suggested the prudence of leaving the matter for her husband's
inspection; she quickly dismissed Maida, with the promise that the
master should look into the suspicious business of the bank-note. The
master, however, never did.

Open-mouthed listened Robert and Lucy to the tragedy of the bank-note.
The grandeur of the acc betrayed the latter into an infinity of
'Lors!' while Robert appeared almost choked by it: he uttered 'Crinky
me! the woman's a shingle short, or somethin' like it, to go stuffin'
the fire with such blessed trade, and I so near my ticket too. I say,
you see'd it with your own eyes, Rachel?'

'I didn't with anybody else's, anyhow,' replied she.

'Lor!' murmured Lucy.

Robert was ill close consultation with his greasy locks which flopped
and reflopped through and over his fingers.

'You seed nothin' harder than paper go in?' he at last asked.

The words had scarcely dropped from his lips, ere all three wonderers
started as if by simultaneous impulse, and falling on their knees
before the grate, began grubbing in the ashes, as diggers in a gold
creek. In which act Maida caught them when she descended from the
parlour. They simultaneously arose.

Rachel glided off to the nursery. Lucy stood in mute worship of the
money-burner. Robert again appealed to his locks, and advised by them,
muttered:

'I say, Madda, 'twas a darned shabby trick to go and fume that there
money which would 'most have sote a feller up when he'd got his
ticket.'

'I had too much respect for you, Sanders, to offer you such money; it
would have brought a curse with it, had it been a hundred times as
much I should have destroyed it.'

'Lor would she!' admired Lucy.

Bob pulled his hair, and muttering, 'A shingle short or somethin' like
it,' departed to mourn the five pounds in the company of his only
comforters, the horses.

Maida waited for an official inquiry into her conduct, and doubted not
she should be severely punished; but none was made that night, and not
until the next evening was she summoned to her master's presence. Mr.
Evelyn stood with his back to the fire: she saw at a glance that he
was ruffled.

'Maida, what is this I hear? your mistress tells me that you have been
very provoking about your clothes, and insists on your changing them.'

Maida explained, and then said:

'Having received no commands, sir, I was not aware that the money was
not mine to spend as I pleased; I might certainly have laid it out
differently, but not knowing that this dress annoyed anyone, save
myself, I preferred to buy necessary articles.'

'Humph! then you should have explained to your mistress, and not have
been so insolent.'

'I am aware of no insolence about the clothes, sir: if the mistress
complains of any I am willing to apologize.'

'Then she does complain. If you have not been insolent about the
clothes, you must have been on some other subject. Insolence is
punishable by convict law.'

'She made inquiries which I considered impertinent, and I answered her
accordingly, sir.'

All the fire-irons fell clattering down: the noise of their downfall
fully accounted for the absence of the verbal storm Maida expected to
follow her last speech.

When Mr. Evelyn had replaced them, he asked:

'What did you say, Maida?'

'Then I am to procure the things my mistress wishes me to have?'

'Certainly, if you have the means.'

'I have not, sir, but by changing my former purchases.'

'Bother the purchases; no, you must wear your brown for the next
quarter; if you don't want to spare yourself the pain that I would
fain spare you, wear it on, certainly. I shall not advance the money,
for I clearly see that trouble will be the end of such constant hot
water with the mistress.'

'I can wear the dress to the end of my sentence, sir, and that is to
the end of my life,' said Maida, calmly folding her arms upon her
breast; 'and as for that trouble which is always being sounded in my
ears, I cannot conceive of what it consists worse than that which I
already endure, standing at your wash-tub is no worse than standing at
another; picking oakum is much the same as picking over potatoes.'

'The cells, my woman, give a rather undesirable opportunity for
thought.'

'Ah, there you are correct, sir; the sinner's misery must be
aggravated by a prolonged retrospection of the past!'

'A retrospection I have no wish to enforce, Gwynnham. As to trouble
being no worse than your present state, you must remember each
sentence lengthens the period you have to serve to obtain your ticket-
of-leave.'

'Death will grant me that before I am prepared to receive it, I fear,
sir!'

'Nevertheless, I hope to see you a T.L. in life. Death can give you
conditional pardon, of the conditions of which pardon you hear enough
from Mr. Herbert. That'll do--go, I will arrange matters with your
mistress, but let me have no more such rows, for I assure you I'm
weary of them.'

After prayers, Mr. Herbert requested her to follow him into his study.

'You have had a letter from home, Maida?' he commenced.

'I have, sir.'

'I should much like to know if you have news from your father.'

'None, sir. I fear he is dead, or he would have found means to send me
the pardon I so earnestly besought: there can be no doubt he received
my letter.'

'He received it, I know that, Maida.'

'And it killed him! it is nearly three years since I left England: it
were unfilial to wish him still to live, and yet that he is gone I
cannot bear to think. The suspense is horrible!' she exclaimed, after
she had been in silent calculation of the possibility of his being yet
alive.

'Maida, I can give you a short account of him. I have long sought an
opportunity to tell you.'

'Is he dead?' gasped Maida.

'Ah, that I cannot say; my impression is that he must have died
shortly after I saw him.'

'Oh! don't, don't, don't say so: he must live to give me one word of
pardon.'

'My poor girl, I think with you it were better he should in death
leave a grief of which death only could release him.'

'No, no--yes, yes--Oh! which do I mean?' she cried.

'Yes, better,' repeated Mr. Herbert.

'But then I gave him the grief, I gave him the death. Do not try to
make my guilt appear less, it would not comfort me; through all your
kindness might urge I should still see the haunting image of my father
murdered by me.'

'Maida, I could not lessen the fact, if I dared to try God forbid that
I should try. I would have you view every circumstance of your career
in the unpalliated light of truth, and God, of His infinite mercy,
grant that the same light which shows you your sin may show you your
Saviour.'

Had Maida reflected a moment, she might have known that Mr. Herbert
was not the one to extenuate her crime in this respect.

'What have you to tell me, sir?' asked Maida drearily.

Mr. Herbert placed a chair, and insisted on her taking it; then
standing before the fire, he fixed a penetrating look on her.

'You have had an exciting day, Maida: a letter from home is always
exciting. Would you rather wait until tomorrow to hear about your
father? I warn you beforehand it will give you pain.'

Ever ready to ward off danger from her soul's secret, had Maida been
less absorbed in mental contemplation of her father, she would have
been alarmed at the peculiar emphasis laid on the word exciting, in
connection with Norwell's letter: now, raising her eyes heavily, she
merely said, in the same dreary voice:

'Go on, sir.'

'You will remember, then, that your letter was sent so as to reach
your father the day after your departure, in order to preclude the
possibility of an interview, which we judged would be a trial too
severe for his strength. I felt sure that, too late or not, he would
make an attempt to see you. When I found on inquiry that your going
had been delayed for a day, I felt as certain that the attempt would
be successful, for starting by the first train after the receipt of
your letter, I reckoned he would arrive at the station just as your
company was setting off. Acting on the belief that he would come, I
went to the station to lend any assistance which might be necessary,
and to shield him from any publicity into which his parental feelings
might hurry him. Thank God I went! His train was a few moments late,
therefore the one which was to convey your party was in readiness to
start simultaneously with the arrival of the other; consequently, when
Mr. Gwynnham alighted, your train had just proceeded on its way.'

Mr. Herbert then recounted the scene given in the sixth chapter of
this book, and Maida bowed lower and lower in her misery, until a few
moans alone told that she was conscious of it.

'Here, here is the pain!' she at last said, pressing her hand upon her
heart, and rocking herself to and fro. 'Here is the pain--large, cold,
and heavy, too cold for tears.'

She sat a few moments longer in dreary silence, then turning suddenly
to Mr. Herbert, she asked:

'Sir, why did you tell me all this; where was the cruel necessity?'

'It is right you should know it, Maida.'

'Yes, to fill up the heaped measure of my wretchedness!' she exclaimed
with bitterness.

'And better that you should hear it from me than suddenly from the
lips of a stranger some day,' continued Mr. Herbert, without noticing
her interruption.

'Ah yes, forgive me! forgive, Mr. Evelyn! all is confusion within me.
I know not what to say, or think, or feel: I am only sensible of an
indescribable weight of misery. I dread the moment when I shall awake
to a clear understanding of my guilt and a full abhorrence of myself.'

Mr. Herbert only gave a look full of pity and kindness in answer to
this appeal, a look that said he had nothing to forgive.

'If it would he any comfort to you I would write to England, and try
to ascertain that which you desire to learn of your father.'

Maida shook her head.

'No, it could not be better; it could not be worse.'

There was something in her voice and incoherent manner that touched
Mr. Herbert's heart, and yet he felt thankful that she showed her
misery; he always entertained more hope of her when she bent beneath
her fate, than when she stood boldly to bear it.

'Wait an instant, Maida; I shall return presently,' said Mr. Herbert,
leaving the room.

'Clara, I wish you'd give me a glass of port for that poor Maida: she
is so overcome with what I have said to her, that I fear she may
faint.'

'Ah, I am glad you have been scolding her, she has behaved shamefully
to me; however, she shall have the wine, and yet, don't you fear it
may give her a relish for it? these creatures so readily regain their
taste for drink.'

'I do not fear,' replied Mr. Herbert, taking the glass from his
sister-in-law.

'Mind, I don't grudge it,' she called after him.

Maida sipped the wine and then set the glass on the table, unconscious
that she had done either the one or the other.

'Should you like me to pray with you, Maida?'

'If you like, sir, anything you please.'

'A few moments then--'

And Mr. Herbert was not more; he commended her to God in a short
earnest supplication; after which he took her hand, and shaking it
kindly, said:

'Maida, remember I am not your judge, but your pastor and friend. I
thank God for having placed you under my care; speak to me or to my
daughter freely of all you suffer in mind or body.'

'Thank you, sir, and thank you for your kind attentions to my poor--
poor--'

She could not get out the word 'father.'

'God reward you for it, when He punishes me for my aggravated crimes,'
she stammered.

'No thanks are due, Maida: would that I had been able to be of more
service to him! I wished to keep him at my lodging, but the faithful
old servant who traced him from the station to my residence said he
had received express orders to fetch his master, who, on leaving home,
appears to have arranged for some catastrophe; old Roberts would
answer no questions. I shall never forget the grasp he gave my hand,
as he exclaimed, the tears flowing down his cheeks:

'"The Lord Almighty bless you! it isn't because I am close I don't
tell you all about it, but because, when my master told me he was
called on immediate business to--, he said, 'Roberts, follow me by the
next train; my last words to you are, neither ask nor answer any
questions about me or mine; many may be put to you, but remember my
last words to you, Answer none.'" With that old Roberts took my other
hand and said, "Sir, as I grasp your hand now so he grasped mine,
repeating, 'Mind! keep your wretched master's secret.' So how can I
break my faith with him? but, sir, I will tell you this much, that the
rich have their sorrows as well as the poor; when sorrow falls on the
rich man's house it falls heavier than elsewhere. Maybe in spite."

'He would not so much as give me your father's address. I gave him
mine, and he promised to let me hear the result of the attack, but
never did; and shortly after, being called to my own sick child, I had
no opportunity to seek further information. I should, however, have
made opportunity had I thought of meeting again with you. I might
though, and ought to have known that it was likely I should find her
here!' continued Mr. Evelyn reproachfully to himself.

The unexpected mention of the old familiar servant overcame the
obduracy of Maida's grief; it assumed a gentler aspect, and when Mr.
Herbert again turned towards her she was weeping. He therefore
continued to talk in a low, soothing tone, to give her a longer
opportunity to shed those tears he knew would cease directly they were
noticed, but his care was useless; that instant Mrs. Evelyn entered
and said, in her quick matter-of-fact voice:

'Oh, my dear' (she called everybody 'my dear'), 'I thought, whilst
lecturing this woman, you might forget the time, 'tis past eleven; ah,
there you are, Gwynnham I am glad to see you crying--I must send you
to Mr. Herbert when I want you lectured to some purpose, I see!'

And she gave one of her little quick, short laughs, as if lecturing
and being lectured were one of the most natural incidents of convict
life.

Maida was hastily quitting the room: her mistress called her back, and
said in the same tone:

'Well now, I forgive you, so you need not cry any more; only mind,
next time, really, I must send you to the brickfields; good-night, you
can take some supper.'

Then, as the door closed, she turned to her brother-in-law, with
another little laugh:

'Whenever these creatures get a row with one person they are sure to
have a turn all round; there's you, George, and myself, have been at
her to-day; poor thing! I'm afraid she won't like to take any supper,
as it is so late. I'll just go and see.'

'I would advise you not to, Clara; she will not care to eat, she is in
such deep sorrow.'

'Oh, I'm very glad of that. I dare say she won't behave so again; I
hope she won't, for really I can't bear sending the poor creatures for
punishment; when they can get a little sorrow at home it's much more
convenient. Hark! that's baby crying, I must go; good-night, my dear.'

And off went the comfortable, happy wife, mother, and mistress; she
tucked her babe back to the warm, snug bed into which she speedily
followed, and in dream went through her routine of house duties. Once
in her sleep, she broke out into one of her little laughs, and
dreamily explained:

'Oh, it's only Maida; she's so odd!'

Off went the wretched daughter, prisoner, and servant and after
feverish tossings to and fro, she fell into a restless slumber from
which, with a deep, deep sigh, a dream of home awoke her, and she
heart-brokenly exclaimed:

'My father, oh, my father!'



CHAPTER XXI. A.T.L.


NOT more brilliant the dreams of the youth who, aspiring to the
honours of majority, beholds for the first time the decisive 'Esquire'
in enchanting relief upon a letter addressed to himself, than were the
anticipations of Robert Sanders when he awoke one morning and found
himself a ticket-of-leave. For some time he had vented his impatience
for the glorious day in sundry contortions of his pen on numberless
bits of paper. Though the contortions varied to every dimension of R's
and S's, and T's and L's the result was invariably the same, as Lucy
discovered after she had spelled out a multitude of Robert Sanders
T.L.'s, from the confusion of characters presented to her; for Robert,
not satisfied with merely seeing how his future title looked, found
great delight in hearing how it sounded.

'Lor', Bob, can't you write nothing else?' asked Lucy tired of evoking
her fellow-servant's name from the chaotic penmanship.

'What else is there to write? A feller likes to see what's before
'un.'

And Robert's eye, falling on the array of T.L.'s scattered on the
table, saw a great deal more before him in those letters than we
should if we looked until doomsday, unless--but never mind. A little
nettled at Lucy's want of discernment, Robert set to work on a second
edition, which he perused in silent enjoyment, until she began to
suspect that the scrawling and reading was some necessary process
preparatory to the mysteries of T.L.-ism, and her respect for it
accordingly increased. In a subdued voice she inquired:

'Do 'e want 'em read over again, Bob?'

Robert only gave a sidewise shake of his locks, which almost
annihilated Lucy with its expressiveness; it said most plainly, 'Oh,
go along--you ain't worthy;' and more than ever she believed the
process one sacred to T.L.-ism.

But Robert had made other preparations. For more than twelve months
his wages had disappeared without any visible reason in the form of
wearing apparel. His mistress often inveighed against his shabby
dress; but, willing as he was in most things, he evinced no readiness
to spend his money; though, in answer to Mrs. Evelyn's scoldings, his
'Very good, ma'am,' 'All right, ma'am,' were as full of willingness as
ever. Once, when she declared she would not have him wear that greasy
hat any longer, he so far ventured on T.L.-ism as to reply:

'Very like the master would fetch an old hat for the present.'

Where all his money had gone was a question that disturbed Mr. Evelyn;
he felt uneasy lest it had been appropriated to an evil purpose.
Robert's anxiety, on the contrary, was only to conceal, or rather to
parry an answer to the question until his time arrived. He was
creating a grand surprise for the whole family, and had, from quarter
to quarter, been investing his wages in apparatus for working out this
surprise, which was eventually to redound in a burst of admiration on
himself. Now he added a gaudy waistcoat to the secret, then a pair of
second-hand Wellingtons, which, by the help of new soles, had been
made to creak an incredible amount of importance. A startling blue
cravat was next added to his treasures; and, lastly, he purchased a
pot of 'genuine bear's grease' for the due anointing of his anti-
convict's pate.

When Robert awoke and perceived that the sun shone no brighter than
usual, he felt much aggrieved; he thought it 'a darned shabby trick of
the sun to make no difference on Ticket-day, when a feller hardly knew
what to do with hisself.'

The robing ceremony, however, soon covered every untoward
circumstance.

'Robert Sanders, T.L.!' he ejaculated when, having finished his
toilet, he surveyed himself as best he could before the small looking-
glass in his room.

He was not disappointed; the sensation created in the kitchen realized
his expectations. With slow deliberate creaks he approached the door,
then, entering he gave a short, familiar nod.

'Good-morning, gals.'

Lucy stood captivated, and Robert quietly received her admiration as
the homage due to T.L.-ism, personified in himself; he applied his
dazzling pocket-handkerchief with becoming dignity. Maida's
astonishment particularly gratified him; he saw no difference between
it and Lucy's adoration; he doubted whether 'Madda could be a shingle
short' since she displayed such excellent taste, 'admiring of him in
that fashion.' But the parlour was to be the grand scene of triumph.
When the prayer bell rang, instead of being the first to obey the
summons and to carry in the wooden bench for the servants, Robert
lingered and lingered.

'Bob--quick--prayers,' called Lucy over the banisters. She was awe-
struck by the answer:

'Can't come for a minute, Loocy.'

All the family was seated, and Mr. Herbert waiting to commence, when
creak, creak, creak came Robert. Maida could scarcely repress a smile.
Lucy and Rachel exchanged glances of captivation.

'It's the ticket,' whispered the former.

Mrs. Evelyn looked a thousand interrogatory 'My dears?' from her
husband to Bridget, from Bridget to the servants, and at last, no one
explaining the approaching creak, she exclaimed:

'Why, it must be a thief!'

Sublime and slow, Robert entered, and gave a sidewise nod to the whole
room, shaking from his head an overwhelming effect of bergamot and
from his waistcoat a strong perfume of boy's love; then, as if he had
done for ever with wooden benches, he drew over a chair, and
stretching his legs across one corner of it, bent forward over his
Bible in a free-and-easy posture. Prayers over, he sent a significant
wink to Lucy:

'Now you shall see what a ticket-of-leave can do'--then creaking up to
his master, he said:

'Please, sir, I am sorry for to leave you, but I'd be glad if you'd
find some one else to look after the hosses.'

'Why, my man, what's gone amiss?' asked Mr. Evelyn.

Bob conferred with his locks.

'Nothin' as I knows on, sir, howsomever, I'm willin' for to stay to
oblige you and the ladies.'

Oh, the chuckling delight with which he accentuated the word oblige!

'No, you have been here two years, and have conducted yourself to my
satisfaction, Sanders, if, therefore, you desire to go I would not
keep you--you being now eligible for your ticket; but I expect you to
give me a reason for thus abrupt notice.'

Robert conferred more seriously with his locks, and not being able to
elicit anything better, gave answer in a somewhat crestfallen voice:

'My ticket, sir,' and it conveyed a more cogent reason for leaving
than any other he could have assigned, it seemed at once to satisfy
his master, who replied quickly and kindly:

'Ah--yes--yes--then you may go this day month.'

Mr. Evelyn knew it would be impossible to try to argue him out of his
desire to avail himself of this the only method of exhibiting his
partially regained liberty; he knew that not one prisoner in a hundred
could withstand the pleasant temptation of choosing a situation for
himself when his ticket gave him leave to do so, and he felt sure that
to be that one man in a hundred needed more sense than Robert
possessed.

On his way to the Comptroller's office, Robert bought a yard or two of
ribbon; on his return he cut it into two parts, and threw the one half
to Lucy and the other to Maida:

'There, gals, is a bit of ribbin for you.'

He then threw himself back into a chair as though it were the easiest
thing in the world to get tickets of leave and buy ribbon.

'Bless my 'art, I forgot Ratchel; I s'pose the gal 'll be wantin'
somethin',' he suddenly said.

Lucy had taken her ribbon and carefully folded it back in the paper;
Maida's portion lay untouched.

'You can give her this, if you please, Sanders. I can thank you for
your kindness all the same.'

'No, no, you keeps it, Madda; I want to see 'e in it; a feller likes
somethin' to show what's 'appened.'

'Shall I give her mine?' asked Lucy, fearful he might say yes.

'No, no, don't know for that--I'd as soon see you in it as her. You
and Madda wear 'em; they'll last while I'm here.'

'Have you gave notice?' cried Lucy, with a little shrill screech of
amazement.

'Told 'e I should; what's a feller's ticket for?'

'Lor'!' Lucy looked to see how Maida bore it.

'Come, Madda, take yer ribbin,' said Robert, in a tone of vexation.

'Thank you, Sanders.'

She took it and set it by, and Robert gave a chuckle of delight.

'Where do you think you shall go to then, Robert?' asked Lucy.

'Maybe I'll sote up for myself--a keb, now.'

And he fell thinking, probably on ways and means, for he suddenly
looked up with:

'I say, Madda, do that cove what sends you tin write often?'

Maida bent over her saucepan and asked, in the quietest possible
voice:

'What cove, Sanders?'

"Im that send that five pound that you fumed.'

'He will never send me any more money, Sanders.'

But Robert seemed incredulous, and leaving the kitchen he went
straight to his master.

'Please, sir, I'd like a recommend if you'd get 'em for me.'

Mr. Evelyn knew well enough what for, but he chose to ask:

'Why, Sanders, are you ill?'

Robert shook his locks sidewise with a knowing shake and muttered,
'Darned ill, that I be.'

'Oh, a recommendation to the Comptroller!' exclaimed Mr. Evelyn,
giving a sly smile at Bridget.

Mrs. Evelyn laid down her work and looked pleased anything to do with
marriage interested her.

'I'm thinking I'd like a comfortable gal, Madda, now downstairs, she's
a bootiful woman--or Loocy I shouldn't mind, but Madda maybe's the
best--she's got friends as sends her a lift.'

Mr. Herbert, who sat on the sofa by Emmeline, suggested that Robert
should consult his master in private, but Uncle Ev enjoyed the joke
too much to monopolize it, and Bob seemed by no means discomfited by
the bright eyes that watched him.

'Well, Sanders, I have no objection to recommend you for marriage as
far as your steady behaviour goes; but Government will require more
than that, or, rather, I shall require more before I can
conscientiously sign your recommendation. What are your prospects--how
could you maintain a wife?'

'A keb, I'm thinkin', sir. Madda maybe 'll get a lift from her cove
again.'

Mr. Evelyn shook his head.

'Or I'm willin' for anythin'.'

'Remember, Sanders, a ticket is more easily lost than gained.'

'All right, sir, that's just it; I'm thinking a comfortable gal may
keep a feller's wits about him. Madda, now, downstairs, I couldn't
find nothin' better--she's a sharp hand--maybe you'll speak to her for
me.'

'I can do or say nothing until I know how you propose to settle
yourself; going from my house with only a quarter's wages in your
pocket, how can you marry? When once you have your ticket, you have no
claim on Government unless you get into trouble again.'

Robert smoothed his locks in perplexity; he could not see an escape
from his difficulty.

'Very good, sir; then there's no help for it; it must bide over for a
time.'

'I tell you what I do recommend, Sanders, and that is, that you
quietly work on here or elsewhere for a time--a prisoner is in more
difficulty after his ticket than before. You have earned it well and
honourably: I should indeed be grieved if you lost it, which you
surely will if you hurry into temptation.'

'All right, sir, I b'aint in no hurry so long as I gets the gal to
wait for me; this is a quiet place, and she don't see many chaps,
but--' what else he might have been going to say, he dismissed with
several shakes of his head.

'Which girl do you really want, Robert?' asked his mistress.

'Well, ma'am, I've sote my mind on Madda, but I ain't partial. I
wouldn't say no to Loocy, she's a dapper little maid, but Madda would
help a feller out of trouble best.'

'What does Maida herself say?' asked Mr. Evelyn, with a grave glance
at Bridget.

'Oh, I haven't said nothin' to her. If the master's agreeable to it,
'tain't likely she'll object. I gived her a smart ribbin, and she took
to it famous.'

'I advise you to hear what she says before you think any more of it. I
have my doubts on the subject.'

'Gals is always agreeable to marryin'; maybe you'd tell Madda you'll
recommend us when we've kept company a bit--she won't go against your
wishes.'

'I'm afraid she will in this instance,' said Mr. Evelyn drily.

'O darned! I ain't partial, so long as it's a likely gal--there's
Loocy, if Madda won't.'

'Or Rachel?' added Mrs. Evelyn, laughing.

'I don't know as to Ratchel,' replied Bob thoughtfully.

'Well, Robert, you must speak to Maida yourself. I would much rather
not--but I advise you to try Lucy first.'

'Very good, sir!' and Robert left the room.

'It is well to have two strings to one's bow, Bridget,' said Uncle Ev.

'Oh, uncle, what a curious way of getting married!'

'It is the orthodox way; but I assure you, Miss Bridget, Sanders has
exhibited unwonted patience and decorum. To know anything of the woman
he is going to marry is generally the last thing a convict thinks of.'

'Poor Maida!' said Mr. Herbert; 'I wish we could spare her this
trial.'

'I only wonder it has been spared so long, Herbert, the sooner it is
over the better. I shouldn't like to be in Robert's shoes when he
proposes to her.'

When the servants appeared at prayers that evening three parts of
Robert's T.L.-ism had disappeared, there was hardly any discoverable
in his voice when after prayers he said:

'If your honour won't take it amiss, I'd like to leave to-morrow.'

Bob had now some other reason than his ticket for wishing to leave.

'How now, Sanders! What has happened since the morning?'

'Why, it's darned awkward to bide with a gal what won't say nothin' to
you. I've spoken to her, and she won't.'

'That is, Maida won't, I suppose, Robert?'

'Es, sure; she was very perlite tho'. I ain't said nothin' to Loocy.
I'll let it bide over, maybe when I'm gone Madda 'll think better of
it, and your honour could tell her it's the proper thing for her to
do.'

'You are not going, Sanders! You must wait your month. Maida will not
give it a second thought, she will not annoy you.'

'Dear me, what an odd creature!' said Mrs. Evelyn.

'I'll go without my wages--I'm willin' for to lose 'em,' urged Bob, in
a tone in which T.L.-ism was again audible.

'Sanders!' cried Mr. Evelyn.

T.L.-ism vanished instantaneously.

Mr. Evelyn continued in a kinder voice, 'I have your good at heart,
Sanders, in keeping you; if you are determined to leave this place,
you can quit in a month, in the meantime I will see what can be done
for you; many a poor fellow, with intentions as honest as yours at
present are, has purposely fallen back into trouble, just to obtain
from Government that livelihood which he could not procure elsewhere.
And as for your marrying, I will recommend you with pleasure when I
can conscientiously do so. I won't have you say anything more to
Maida, mind that; either Lucy or Rachel will suit you.'

This satisfied Robert. Restless to turn his ticket to some advantage,
he was just in that state to be pleased rather than otherwise with an
embargo that made decision less difficult. Mr. Evelyn had foreseen
this, and under cover of authority did a real kindness to the poor
fellow, who had only been waiting for such an aid. The ticket-of-leave
lay in his pocket like a crown-piece in the hand of a child. What's
the good of money if it isn't to be spent? says the child. What's the
use of a ticket if 'tisn't to be laid out in a few telling articles?
says Robert Sanders. Who'll know that he is a T.L. if he doesn't sport
a sign-board and a wife?

'Very good, sir. Loocy's dapper; and when a gal's dapper it's as good
as money to a feller. I don't know nothin' about Ratchel--Madda takes
care that I shan't neither. Thank'e, sir, Loocy then, if you please.'

And flopping his locks, Bob withdrew to lay his ticket at Lucy's feet.

Lucy received his offer with unfeigned surprise; she had never dreamt
of him for herself--the thought would have been profanation.

'Lor', Bob, I thought 'twas Maida!'

'So 'twas; but what's a feller to do when he can't get the gal he
wants?'

It was so proper that no one should be chosen whilst Maida was in the
way, that Lucy did not feel at all slighted by the question, and
without any meant depreciation of Robert's offer, she gave the pat
reply:

'Get the one he doesn't want, I suppose.'

The little maiden scarcely knew which most to wonder at--Maida's
refusal of Sanders or her own good fortune. In her simple mind were
mixed feelings of fear and pleasure--fear, that Maida resigned him on
purpose for her; pleasure, that she, Lucy Grenlow, was actually the
bride-elect of Robert Sanders, T.L.

Her fear would not let her rest until she had poured it into Maida's
ear.

'Lor', Maida, I didn't go for to make him love me; 'twas all out of
his own head. I'm afeard it's sore work to you to let him go for my
sake. I'll give him up to you at any moment. Ain't he handsome,
though, with his fine hair so long and smart?'

And she heaved a tiny sigh, as though she should find it sore work to
let him go, even for Maida. But Maida quieted her alarm by saying,
that loving Sanders was so novel an idea to her, it would take her all
her life to get accustomed to it; therefore, in the meanwhile, she
thought Lucy could not do better than make the poor man happy. She
then kissed her plump shiny cheek, and added:

'I am very glad to hand you over to some one who will take care of
you. I do believe Sanders tries to do well, and means to do better.'

Lucy, mistaking Maida, replied, 'No, he hasn't done nothing so very
bad, either.'

Then, understanding from her friend's grieved countenance that she had
said wrongly, she apologized:

'I means that by side of other prisoners he isn't so bad he's a decent
man, and only--'

'Hush, Lucy! there are no onlies in sin. Remember that, and you will
not fall into fresh trouble.'

Trouble, however, was far from the young convict's thoughts. The only
drawback to her joy in accepting Robert had been the dread that Maida
would break her heart for him. Now she was as happy a passholder as
could be found in the island.

'Lor', Maida, fancy me Mrs. Sanders!'

And, late as it was, she flitted off to communicate the pleasant
conceit to Rachel, who sat in the nursery, glum solitary, and by far
too disconsolate to think of going to bed. The news imparted by the
unconscious Lucy by no means softened her glumness, but the former
attributed to extreme weariness the gruff ill temper of the retort:

'Coming disturbing of a body at this time--'most ten o'clock; what
odds who he marries? Precious gaby that he is! I only wonder how he
ever got out of Tench; and as to his ticket, that he makes such
foolgame of, it's nothing but a chance that any fool may have. I wish
you'd shut the door after you.'

'How dreadfully sleepy she must be!' thought Lucy; but sleep was not
in Rachel's eyes, for jealousy was in her heart. In the morning Lucy
was more sure than ever that tiredness had caused her ill-humour, for
now congratulations flowed, honey-like, from her lips. She had been
rocked to rest by perturbations of jealousy, and had risen pacified by
the determination to supplant Lucy in Sanders's affections, or rather,
intentions, for she felt sure that, whatever it might turn out
afterwards, at present the match was one of convenience, affection
having small or no vote in the matter as far as Robert was concerned.
And she was correct. He wanted a wife, whether a particular Lucy or an
unparticular Rachel or Anne was of no consequence.

The particular Lucy known as Grenlow was only selected because she had
come more in his way than another girl, and because he had noticed
that she was sharp in her movements, and 'dapper with her sewin','
which accomplishments Robert highly prized, but then he would equally
have prized them in any other Lucy.

Rachel's cunning perceived all this, and, notwithstanding her hatred
of needlework, she determined to become a 'dapper sewer,' and with her
needle's point to both vanquish Lucy and fasten Robert. He had a whim
for white aprons. He had at first been made to wear them for his
mistress's pleasure, during his kitchen probation; since then, he had
adopted them for his own special gratification, and had, therefore, to
purchase them for himself. The two he had now in wear had become very
thin and shabby; he regretted one day to Rachel that he had not bought
more calico instead of that there ribbins for the gals.

'I wouldn't regret that, Bob,' she replied; 'people mustn't never be
sorry for the good they've done. I'll make you three new aprons, any
day you please.'

'Darned, will'e?' exclaimed Sanders; 'but I must bide till I've got
the stuff for 'em.'

'That's all comprehended in the making of 'em, Sanders. I shouldn't
over to make them if I didn't mean giving of 'em too.'

She tossed her head in a pique; she was evidently much hurt. Bob
pulled his locks. Here was willingness!--Here was 'dapper sewin'!' He
pulled and pulled.

'Why, Ratchel, I ain't willin' for to put on you, seein' that I didn't
give 'e a ribbin, and I'm downright backed by your kindness. I never
guessed you was dapper up to sewin' of apurns.'

'I never, Bob! What's a nurse that can't sew?' And she fell to
laughing at his innocence of a nursemaid's requirements. From this
time she never entered the kitchen without work of some sort in her
hand. If she only came down for an instant just to see how long before
Miss Baby's broth would be ready, stitch, stitch went her needle,
'working at once with a double thread' her plans and Lucy's
destruction.

Lucy skipped about the house full of brisk 'mems,' 'sirs,' and
curtseys. Though no one had spoken to her of Robert she took it for
granted that every person possessed and rejoiced in her secret. But by
degrees the brisk bobs and bright cheeks disappeared. No one could
account for her altered looks. Her 'mems' degenerated into slow
'ma'ams,' her curtseys became drudgeries, only extorted from her by
her mistress's reprimand.

'Why, what ails the maid, my dear? she's all in the mopes. I can't
bear to have her about me,' said Mrs. Evelyn, when Lucy's wits had
wandered further than ever.

'I think she's out of health, aunt; she has been so listless and pale
lately,' replied Emmeline.

'Yes, she has been looking very tallowy, no doubt she's been making
too free with dripping and suet pudding. You noticed that large piece
of pudding that went down yesterday? I quite expected to see half of
it again, well, when I went to the pantry this morning 'twas all gone.
No complexion can bear that! I'll go and mix Lucy a dose of gregory.'

Uncle Ev seemed delighted; he turned to Bridget:

'Are you aware, Miss D'Urban, that the Gregorian Chant is a great
favourite in this house? Your aunt gives it us on all occasions. They
say music cures the madness ensuing from a tarantula's bite, but your
aunt cures every disease with the Gregorian Chant.'

'Now, George, my dear, don't be so silly; what would you do without
gregory? You'd be eaten up with bile.'

The dose was administered, but no amount of gregory brought back the
colour to Lucy's cheeks. It was painful to see the change that one
short fortnight wrought in her. As Robert's month increased into two,
three, and almost four months, so Lucy's health decreased until it
seemed probable it would fail altogether. Both master and mistress
questioned her, but she could assign no reason for her flagging
energies, save that she felt 'low-spirited like at Robert's keeping on
not going; she'd much rather for him to go.' Maida alone guessed the
cause, and with redoubled vigilance guarded the kitchen from
perfidious intrusion. She had seen nothing yet to give her a fair
opportunity of taxing Rachel with her design on Sanders, but she
watched with the determination to avail herself of the first that
should present itself. Sanders was so open, and Rachel so cunning,
that she might have waited until Lucy had pined into skin and bone,
had not accident betrayed the secret of her malady by discovering
Rachel's treachery.

Had Rachel come before her in any other character than that of rival
in her lover's affections, Lucy Grenlow had been the last to use the
secret for her overthrow.

Where is the woman, how kind soever her nature that does not desire to
rid herself of one of whom she is jealous?--that does not long to tear
away an image that comes between her and the object of her love?

Who will blame the dejected Lucy for experiencing a strange sensation
of pleasure when she found herself under the painful necessity of
informing her mistress that things were not going aright in the
nursery? But having proceeded thus far, Lucy heartily wished she had
never commenced the complaint; the first thrill of delight over, she
blushed ardent compunction, and glanced at the door, fain to bolt from
the keen eye of the master, and the complaisant interrogatory
expression of her mistress. However, to withdraw the charge was
impossible, therefore, plucking up all her courage, before Mr. Evelyn
could utter a second solemn 'Well?' she darted out:

'Please mem, sir, I think she've been cutting of sheets to make aprons
for Robert.'

'Well?'

'Please, sir, that's enough.'

'And too much! Well?'

Lucy was forced to tell all she knew about it.

It then appeared that Rachel had cut up and appropriated to Sanders's
use two sheets which had been some time missing. A small half-burnt
strip of sheeting, bearing the household mark, had been found amongst
the nursery cinders, and had told the tale. Lucy was in a terrible
state of alarm when her master ordered Sanders to come up. She wrung
her hands and besought Mr. Evelyn not to say anything to him, for she
was sure he had never suspected the origin of the gift.

After a strict investigation Mr. Evelyn inclined to her opinion, but
Mrs. Evelyn would neither be convinced by the man's reasoning nor by
the facts of the case; she gave it as her opinion that the knowledge
of its having been stolen property had most likely enhanced its value;
to most prisoners it would; why not, then, to Robert Sanders? Knowing
that if his mistress chose to act on her opinion, no power could save
his ticket, the poor fellow stood forlornly before his accusers, a
perfect picture of prison lowliness; he pleaded willingness--he
pleaded his love for the horses--he pleaded everything but his
innocence--that as a convict he knew would be pleaded in vain if not
believed by his employers.

Rachel's guilty appearance and examination, however, diverted Mrs.
Evelyn from Robert, and with a sharp reprimand Mr. Evelyn dismissed
him to his stable.

Of the nursemaid's guilt there could be no doubt, though there was
abundant denial. She vowed she had cut up garments of her own to make
the aprons; but search being made in her boxes, remnants of the sheets
were found and her falsehood proved. A constable was sent for, and
Rachel commanded to hold herself in readiness to be taken away by him.
She no sooner reached her room, than she hastily shut the door and hit
herself violent blows on her nose, until the blood flowed; she caught
the blood in a handkerchief, and then pulled the bell with all her
might. Lucy ran to answer the bell, when she perceived Rachel sitting
at the foot of the bed, covered with blood, which seemed to be oozing
from the handkerchief at her mouth; she screamed--'She's killed! she's
killed!'

Rachel beckoned to her, and said faintly, 'Go and tell 'em I've broked
a bloodvessel.'

Lucy was running off. Rachel beckoned her back, and whispered more
faintly:

'Beg--'em--to forgive--me--and let--me--stay on--till I'm--a--bit--
better--'

The alarm was given. Mrs. Evelyn hurried up to see what could be done,
forgetting stolen sheets, and everything but the opportunity of
displaying her skill in quackery. Mr. Evelyn followed, and also Lucy,
who ran forward like a little dog which hurries back to the scene of
danger when it has given the necessary alarm.

'What is it? What is it?' cried Mrs. Evelyn, rushing forward. Rachel
turned up her eyes and shook her head.

'I will tell you presently,' said Mr. Evelyn, advancing. 'Get up,
woman! that's not the way to break bloodvessels. Get up--I will teach
you.'

He took both her hands and tied them together with a strong piece of
list.

'There, now sit down; you are more likely to burst a vessel in trying
to untie that knot, than in breaking your nose.'

Rachel saw that simulation was useless, and her faintness flowed forth
in a stream of oaths that were more sickening to hear than the blood
to behold.

'Now mind, I shall appear against you and have you severely punished,'
said her master, when the constable arrived.

'Yes, they were two beautiful sheets,' parenthesised Mrs. Evelyn.

'Not so much for the theft as for your vile reason in committing it;
the one is unpardonable, the other I could have forgiven,' continued
Mr. Evelyn.

It never entered Lucy's head to harbour resentment against her lover;
had she at first felt anger, the danger she had been in of losing him
appeased every feeling of an uncomfortable kind; she even talked of
her foe as 'poor Rachel' and hoped she wouldn't be punished 'very
bad'; after all, 'twas natural like she should take to Robert, he was
so handsome.

'She'll lose her 'air anyhow,' said Robert, smoothing down his own to
reassure himself that his locks, lately so imperilled, were in safe
keeping on his head. Lucy even vouchsafed a few tears when she learnt
from Bridget that Rachel had eighteen months, part of which time was
to be solitary.

Bright, blushing, and full-blown, re-appeared the roses on her cheeks,
smiles once more peeped out from her dimples; and mems and sirs brisk
to her heart's content, again dropped from her lips. More jauntily
than ever sat the little cap on her head, when, peace restored to the
servants' quarters, she again basked in the undivided light of
Robert's countenance.

Mr. Evelyn was not forgetful of his promise to see what could be done
to enable Robert to set up for himself. When he had been nearly five
months in possession of his ticket, Mr. Evelyn, hearing that old
Hawkins, Maida's first friend in Hobart Town, had met with an accident
which incapacitated him for his calling, went to him and found him
thankful to let out his cab to Robert. Mr. Evelyn became responsible
for the first quarter's payment, but told Robert that he should expect
to be repaid by the end of the year. Sanders was fairly bewildered
with delight when he learnt that he was to be promoted to a cab and
horse of his own; on the strength of the happy news he wanted to wed
Lucy directly.

He seemed so to connect his ticket with marriage, that in his sight
the one was imperfect without the other. He told Lucy and Maida that
he meant to speak to the master about it that very evening; so after
prayers to work he went, and with such success that, after an
interview of an hour, he stalked into the kitchen, and, with a
mysterious flop of his hair, requested Lucy to go up to the master.
During her absence he acquainted Maida (whom he now regarded as a
dowager, to whom love-secrets might with impunity be trusted) that it
was all settled; the recommendation was to be procured, signed, and
presented; and that, according to his view of the case:

'There'd be fine doin's, for when the master said Yes to it, Miss
Bridget jumped up and clapped her hands; and young ladies don't go
clapping of their hands for nothin', do they, Madda, now?'

Maida heartily hoped there would be fine doings, and she promised to
try her best to further any plans for celebrating the wedding.

'Now that's what I call 'ansome, Madda! And you have been disappointed
too! I tell 'e what: whenever you likes to stop down to our house, you
shall find what a feller can't get everywhere--that's a welcome, and
hearty too.'

The recommendation was duly signed, and the banns of Robert Sanders,
T.L., and Lucy Grenlow, passholder, were duly published in the church
of St. David's. One bright Tuesday morning a little procession issued
from the Lodge, Macquarie Street, and entered the palish church.
Passing up the aisle, it surrounded the altar, within which stood the
Reverend Herbert Evelyn, who, having acknowledged the presence of the
party by a kindly smile, commenced the marriage service. In his own
rich voice he read the solemn charges ordained by the Church, and
then, no impediment being declared in answer to the searching glance
fixed particularly on the bridegroom, he proceeded to ask the man if
he were willing to take the woman in holy matrimony.

The question seemed to be worded to the man's taste, for he nodded a
sidewise nod of approval, replying:

"Es, sure I will.'

The Prayer-book's answer did not half express his willingness.

When Mr. Herbert put the same question to the bride, she dropped a
brisk curtsey; the small, soft 'I will' popped out only just far
enough to reach the ear of him for whom it was intended.

Mr. Herbert then looked round and asked:

'Who giveth this woman in marriage?'

There was a moment's pause. Who should have given her away was
evidently not in the group. No one responded.

Mr. Herbert repeated the question in a tone in which sadness seemed to
blend with compassion, and a tall female of noble bearing stepped
forward; taking the bride's hand, she presented her to the priest,
saying, in a voice that had been distinct had it been less tremulous:

'I do.'

She then drew back into her place, and her large, deep eyes rested
sadly on the floor.

'Those whom God hath joined let no man put asunder,' exclaimed Mr.
Herbert; then, turning to the company and the few strangers who had
wandered into the building, he said:

'Forasmuch as Robert Sanders and Lucy Grenlow have consented together
in holy wedlock,' etc., 'I pronounce that they be man and wife
together.'

The ceremony over, no one appeared to know what next to do. There was
no spontaneous hum of congratulation; there were no fond parents--no
tearful sisters--no gratified brothers to exchange affectionate
wishes. The bride stood half crying, half smiling, working her little
fat hand back into the white silk glove. The bridegroom uneasily
flopped his long hair through his fingers. All were feeling
uncomfortable, when on the constrained silence broke a voice full of
benevolence and sympathy:

'God bless you, my child!'

Ere Lucy could believe from whom the benediction came, the clergyman,
'all in his robes and all!' as she afterwards wonderingly recounted,
took both her hands in his and shook them with a warmth that could
only have emanated from a father's heart. This was enough; the
constraint vanished; a pleasant confusion of voices ensued, during
which, forgetful of all convict proprieties, Bridget D'Urban threw her
arm round Lucy's waist and gave her a kiss; and then, presenting her
hand to Sanders, she said:

'I wish you happiness in your dear little wife.'

When the wedding party returned to the Lodge, Mr. Evelyn himself
opened the gate, and begged to congratulate Mrs. Robert Sanders.
Supposing that refreshment might not be unacceptable after so much
excitement, he announced that a table had been spread for the guests
in the back parlour. Poor Lucy was overwhelmed with her unexpected
honours; she burst into a flood of genuine bridal tears. Throwing
herself on a garden bench, she hid her face in her handkerchief, and
sobbed aloud.

Mrs. Evelyn, who had run down the gravel path in high good humour,
gave a little laugh of satisfaction when she perceived Lucy in this
plight--she thought crying so effective at weddings:

'Especially, my dear, at convict marriages, because you know they
must--'

'Hush! Oh! she'll hear you, aunt,' impatiently whispered Bridget.

'Oh, never mind, my dear, she knows she's a prisoner; besides, there's
quite a pretty breakfast waiting for them. I want her to stop crying
now.'

'Well, Lucy--oh, I suppose I must say Mrs. Sanders now--and yet, no;
Lucy Sanders will do best--well, I'm very glad you are married. I hope
you'll be a good girl, because you know Government won't make any
difference for your being married.'

'Clara, just come here a minute,' called her husband.

'I'm just congratulating the girl, my dear; I'll come presently,'
replied his wife; but with her congratulations his reason for calling
her away also finished.

Emmeline's sweet, pale face smiled its loving welcome to the happy
pair, when at twelve o'clock they went together, by special
invitation, to her room to bid farewell, and to receive a gift she had
prepared for them.

'You must come and see me sometimes, Lucy,' she said.

A faint 'mem' and a quick bob was the only reply.

'Maybe you'll fancy a drive in my keb once in a while--darned if I
sharn't be proud to take you--darned if I wouldn't crawl down head
foremost to fetch 'e,' at last delivered Sanders, who, having been in
close conference with his locks, could find nothing else wherewith to
ease his burden of thanks. Mr. Evelyn had engaged a room in a
respectable cottage in Melville Street.

Thither the wedded couple bent their steps, accompanied by Bridget and
the children. On reaching the house they mounted the stairs, and as
they approached the door of their room, it opened, and Mr. Herbert
stood before them. He raised his hand and blessed them.

He then led them to a small, round oaken table on which lay a large
handsome Bible; this he placed in Sanders's hand, saying:

'There, Robert, is something for you to begin life with. Commence with
it, and when all things end, it will be your stay and comfort.'



CHAPTER XXII. THE CONFLICT.


THE confusion consequent on Rachel's sudden discharge had been partly
rectified up to the time of Lucy's marriage, by placing her in the
nursery, and by giving Maida the double duty of housemaid and cook.
Any change involving novelty and activity was pleasing to the little
nursemaid, who entered on her post as locum tenens with the utmost
good-will. Maida, long accustomed to hide her feelings beneath an
impenetrable outward calm, exhibited neither displeasure nor
satisfaction at the additional work allotted her for the next month.
Her mistress's promise of ten shillings extra for the over-work put no
unusual spring into her movements, nor did the extra duties abate her
energy. When she had served her dinner she as quietly changed her cap
and apron to go into the dining-room, as though to wait table were the
express purpose of her existence. So ably and quietly did she
accomplish her twofold service that Mrs. Evelyn began to think she
might well continue in it.

'Really, my dear,' she said to her husband, 'I think Maida could go on
as at present, and save us the bother of another Government woman; she
doesn't appear to feel the work too much, nor to mind doing it.'

'But I both mind and feel it for her, Clara,' replied Mr. Evelyn.

'Ah! but she is a tall, strong woman, my dear. I think if I allowed
her a glass of beer once a day, she'd manage to keep up nicely.'

But Mr. Evelyn decidedly objected to Maida's continuing longer than
possible in her present position. Maida had acted as housemaid,
parlourmaid, and cook for about a fortnight, when one morning her
mistress bustled into the kitchen and announced visitors to an early
dinner. By way of thoroughly enlisting her servant's very necessary
sympathies, she entered into a familiar gossip, telling Maida that the
friends she expected were new arrivals in the colony, and that one of
the ladies was an old schoolfellow of hers; after dinner the whole
party would take the coach to Bagdad, therefore Maida must make the
best use of her eyes and ears while she waited at table, if she wished
to hear the latest news, and see the last fashions from England.

One of the pleasant chances of colonial life is the unexpected meeting
with old friends, and the unlooked-for mention of familiar names and
family incidents. In olden days a family secret was considered safe
when the person from whom it had to be preserved, or in whose keeping
it was, wandered to foreign shores; the death of the party concerned
could not render its position more secure. But now, all you who have
secrets to preserve from friends distant on Australian shores, or a
family misfortune to hide from happily unconscious and absent
relatives, be advised--discover your secret, unfold your misfortune,
for if you do not others will; you must haste to give the information,
or you will not be the first to break it to those who justly expect to
share your joys and sorrows. In these days of telegraph and steam, of
gold-seekers and gold-finders, there is no spot in the earth except
your own breast that can give safe cover to your secret. Everyone has
a brother or a sister, a cousin or a friend, or an old servant in the
colonies; any one of whom may circulate your news with additions of
his own, making those angry whom you might have made pleased, sowing
discord when you might have planted peace.

The company arrives; the dinner is punctually served; when, prompt in
clean white apron and spotless cap, Maida attends behind her
mistress's chair. A heated colour in her cheeks is the only token
suggestive of her previous employment. But who cares to avail himself
of the suggestion? who wants to prove a fact concerning her? A servant
behind her mistress's chair, what is there in that to need
explanation? She is supposed to be there and, under the supposition,
demands are made on her by the pronunciation of certain unprotected
substantives: bread--water--castors. Her actual bodily presence is not
ascertained, until one of the guests just happens to look at her in
taking the mustard--then, struck by her beauty he looks and looks
again.

At an English dinner-table there would be unpoliteness in drawing
attention to the servants in waiting; but here, where most domestic
sympathies settle around one point, and that point is O.P.S.O., there
is no breach of etiquette in doing so; a guest as naturally asks
questions about a servant whose superior manners or efficient waiting
attract his notice, as he compliments his entertainer on a thriving
rose-bush, or his child's improved health.

Notwithstanding his only having just arrived from England, one of the
party proclaimed his colonial extraction by an exclamation during
Maida's absence from the room: 'What a decent-looking woman, Evelyn!
free or Government?' All eyes in consequence were bent on her when she
re-entered. The colour deepened on her cheeks as she received the gaze
of a dozen pair of eyes.

'A splendid creature,' whispered the gentleman.

'And a dreadful one, too,' replied Mrs. Evelyn.

'No particular news from home, then, Sandford?' asked Mr. Herbert, in
order to divert attention which he perceived was annoying to Maida.

'N--no--all very flat; Punch can hardly strike a spark of fun out of
the whole nation.'

'Talking of marriages and old school days, Clara, do you remember a
pretty little girl called Doveton, whom we great girls used to pet,'
recontinued the lady who had been talking over school reminiscences
with Mrs. Evelyn, when Mr. Sandford's remark arrested her. Maida
started; that name had been familiar to her in other days.

'Perfectly; you don't mean to say she is married?'

'Yes, she is, and very well married too.'

'What, little Mary Doveton!' cried Mrs. Evelyn.

'She is a very charming woman, I assure you.'

'I don't doubt it; but it is difficult to imagine her a woman--a
slight, fragile fairy as she is, to my recollection.'

'She has lost neither fairyhood nor simplicity: in womanhood she is as
fairy-like as ever, and just as simple.'

'Who is the happy man, I wonder? Do I know him?'

'A Captain Norwell; such a handsome man: they make a most bewitching
couple, and are all the rage.'

'Norwell! Norwell!' repeated Mr. Herbert, 'the name seems familiar,
but I cannot recall the man. I should like to, for I well remember
little Mary Doveton, though I have not seen her since Clara was at
Mrs. Compton's school.'

'When you used to bring me notes from my friends in Hobart Town,
little thinking you were obliging your future sister-in-law, Mr.
Herbert!' added Mrs. Evelyn, laughing.

'Norwell! Norwell!' exclaimed another heart in that room, as
tumultuous feelings drove the colour from her face and unsteadied her
whole frame.

'Well, I hope he will make her a good husband.'

'There is no fear of that, he is a fine, noble fellow; his wife
literally worships him,' answered Mr. Sandford. Mrs. Evelyn had for
some seconds been giving telegraphic taps on the table in order to
draw Maida's attention to the knives and forks, closing one by one on
her guests' plates, but without success. Listless and inanimate,
Maida's eyes rested on the last speaker, who continued to eulogize
Norwell.

'Maida!' at last exclaimed the mistress, with a loud rap on the table.

Maida started--a deeper crimson rushed to her face, and then,
departing, left a livid paleness.

'What ails the woman?' tapped Mrs. Evelyn, as Maida staggered beneath
the weight of a tray not over-heavy.

The rest of the dinner was a series of vexed taps and nods on the part
of Mrs. Evelyn, and mistakes on the part of Maida. Her manner was
perfectly calm and collected, therefore the more unaccountable to her
mistress were the strange inadvertencies of her actions.

Maida hasted to be solitary. No doubt existed in her mind that it had
been the Captain Norwell, married to Mary Doveton, with whom her fate
so cruelly blended.

She longed for night, which alone could bring her an uninterrupted
review of all that she had heard, or afford her an opportunity for
calm decision in the difficulty before her.

Night came. With a throbbing heart, as though she were going to an
interview of which she dreaded the result, Maida sat herself down to a
severe scrutiny of her own feelings, arraigning before her judgment
each motive whose promptings she doubted. She remained for some time
in deliberation, then looking about as if in search, she remembered
she had neither pen, ink, nor paper, and all three Were necessary to
her purpose. What could she do? she wished not to wait till the
morrow, lest opportunity should fail her. There was no book from which
she could tear the fly-leaf. She thought of Emmeline--but she must not
be disturbed; she then remembered that Mr. Herbert was often in his
study to a very late hour. Slipping off her shoes, she crept down-
stairs; the action reminded her of that fatal morning, when, seeking
to shield her babe from the stern grasp of justice, she crept away to
give it loving burial.

The remembrance served to strengthen her in her determination.

A streak of light issuing from Mr. Herbert's study told her that she
could get her wants supplied; she knocked, and he opened the door.

'You, Maida!'

'Yes, sir. Will you give me a few sheets of paper, and a pen and ink?'

'It is late for such a request.'

'I have no time by day.'

'Leave it till to-morrow, and I will try to procure leisure for you.'

'No, thank you; I require that concentration of thought which night
only can give.'

'These are strange things to say, Maida, and a strange time to say
them.'

'But you need not fear my purpose. Will you kindly give me the paper?'

Mr. Evelyn thought a moment, and then going to his desk took out a few
sheets, which, with pen and ink, he put into her hand; at the same
time, looking her full in the face, he said:

'I will give you them, Maida, but I confess I do so with much
uneasiness. As Maida Gwynnham I trust you--but--'

'As a convict you are bound to doubt me, and correctly so, sir. I as
much honour you for the one feeling as I thank you for the other; but,
Mr. Herbert, you cannot know Maida Gwynnham as she knows herself, or
you would trust her as little in herself as in her convict state.
However, your trust shall not be misplaced, though I will do my best
to dispel your doubt.'

As Maida met the calm, reflective countenance before her, how sure she
felt that in Mr. Herbert lay both ability and will to assist her. She
longed to open her troubled and conflicting thoughts to his advice.
She never so yearned for friendly counsel as in this predicament, when
she perceived that a false move might ruin those she most wished to
serve, or an indiscreet word have the opposite effect to that which
she desired. She could bear by herself all that only touched herself;
but now that the happiness of other lives might be at stake she longed
to hear from other lips a corroboration of the opinion she had formed,
and an approval of the course she was resolved to adopt; but neither
friend nor counsellor dared she seek. Alone, alone, must she pass this
fierce ordeal; alone, unsympathized with, and unadvised, she must tear
from her heart her last, though unacknowledged, hope in life.

Returning to her room, and placing the materials for writing on a
wooden box, which served her instead of a table, she knelt before it
and commenced a letter to Norwell but she could not satisfy herself.
Fastidious over his feelings as over her own, she destroyed sheet
after sheet when she had partly written it. She wished to deal
faithfully--to warn, threaten, promise him; but she would not reproach
him. After many efforts she produced the following letter:

'The Lodge, Macquarie Street, Hobart Town, Van Diemen's Land

'To Captain Norwell.

'SIR

'I was standing behind my mistress's chair to-day, when I learnt from
the conversation at the dinner-table that you had married Miss
Doveton. Circumstances unknown to you once made me acquainted with
that lady, and awakened in my breast a deep interest in her welfare--
an interest that is much deepened by the report of her marriage to
you. The surprise occasioned me an impulse of jealous displeasure,
which subsided, on reflection, into the feeling which now induces me
to write to you, though against my inclination.

'I pass over the fruitless sorrow I feel for your poor wife. I even
pray that her delusive apprehension of your character may continue,
seeing that she has acted too far upon it to be benefited by
discovering the truth.

'My sole object in writing is to point out to you the moral difference
created by your marriage in our respective positions.

'From what I was obliged to hear at the dinner-table, I deem it
probable you may become informed of my having heard of your marriage,
and I fear you may in consequence write to me to avert the effects of
the anger you may suppose me to feel, and in so doing run the risk of
exposing truths to your wife which would put an end to the enviable
ignorance so necessary to her happiness. To anticipate your fears, and
prevent their consequences, I engage by this letter to remain silent,
as I have hitherto been; but to this engagement I attach, Captain
Norwell, these solemn conditions (and I have the means of observing
their performance by you), first, that you shall be kind and faithful
to your wife; second, that you write no more to me.

'Do not mistake my meaning, nor misinterpret leniency of expression
into feebleness of purpose. I wish you clearly to understand that, if
you again risk discovery by committing to paper things intended only
for me, or if you fail to be kind and faithful to your wife, I shall
no longer consider silence and suppression the best means I can employ
for promoting the happiness of one who bears the name I once thought
you intended should be mine. To Mrs. Norwell I henceforth ascribe the
gratification I experience in bearing that part of my punishment which
is your due. This being the last time you will hear from me, I will
satisfy your inquiries before concluding, hoping that, at least as to
a part, my replies will free you from embarrassment in the moral
fulfilment of your marriage vows.

'You inquire, first, whether I love you still? My answer is, No! This
answer is not extorted from me by the knowledge of to-day. My love for
you has been long since forbidden by the judgment of my conscience,
forced into maturity by sorrow and reflection. I sifted with painful
rigour the jealous emotion I felt on hearing of your marriage; and I
discovered, with joyful truth, that it was due to surprise alone.
Recollection returned, and the emotion was gone, leaving no trace of
disappointment. You next ask whether I am comfortable. I do not
suppose you know the bitter sarcasm attached to the word 'comfortable'
in convict language, originating in an anecdote current in the colony,
and which I give you as an appropriate explanation of the comfort in
question. A gallows having been erected for the simultaneous execution
of nine prisoners, was submitted for the approval of an experienced
executioner, who gave it as his opinion that the accommodation was
insufficient for nine, but that seven could hang there comfortably.
Herewith I return the letters I have received from you during my
transported life.

'And remain, Sir.
'Yours faithfully.
'MAIDA GWYNNHAM.'

The letter finished, the rigid discipline wherewith she had controlled
her heart into obedience to her reason was laid aside. With a
trembling grasp she seized the letter, and with an anxious look she
read it aloud. She wondered how her hand had brought itself to pen the
cold, stern characters before her. When she came to the question, 'Do
you love me still?' her voice quavered, her long lashes fell and
concealed the expression of agony that lay beneath. She could not form
the round, cold 'No' upon lips so unsteady; it died away in an
unspoken murmur. She was thankful that, secured beyond chance of
escape, it would reach Norwell in a form betraying neither her regret
nor her agitation. She was thankful it was not to be entrusted to her,
but to be delivered in a letter. He will look on the answer, and see
only in it the prompt and simple 'No.' he will know nothing of the
pained power that has been put forth to pen that one short word: he
will note only firmness in the deep mark that underlines it into
emphasis, and will say, 'Ah, that is like Maida!' He has not witnessed
the effort with which the undecided heart was made to draw that final
renunciation to a claim that by right of justice was its own, and will
not suspect that that one short word is the token of victory after a
severe conflict.

She was thankful, too, that the writing to him had not been
practicable at the moment she heard the tidings; her impulsive nature
might then have hurried her into reproach, despicable to her calmer
mood; or might have impelled her to a display of those sufferings of
which she scorned to complain.

Having read and reread the letter many times, and being at last
convinced that it contained no reproach which it would be prudent to
spare Norwell, and no expression that could create a misgiving in his
mind, or mislead him as to her intention or the state of her feelings
towards him, she folded it, and enclosing three letters lately
received from him, she melted together the wax broken from the seals
of his letters, then dropped the burning liquid upon her envelope, and
stamped it with the corner of the inkstand. The morning had scarcely
dawned when she crept downstairs, and let herself into the garden
through the veranda of the drawing-room window. Thence hurrying into
the street, to the imminent peril of detection, and consequent severe
punishment, she glided swiftly to the post-office, and slipped her
letter into the box; then, with a lightened heart and slackened step,
she returned to the house, not caring by whom she might be met, or
whom she might encounter.

When the family assembled for prayers, Mr. Herbert knew by her languid
appearance that she had passed a night of unrest. He regarded her with
a peculiar interest for he too, had endured hours of watchful suspense
and ail on her behalf. Of this, however, she was as little aware as
that her haggard and yet determined countenance had seriously alarmed
him when she presented herself at his door, and preferred her strange
request. She was in ignorance also of the source from which, perhaps,
she had derived strength and power to pen that letter to Norwell. She
knew not that while she was pining for some one on whose judgment and
counsel she might rely, even then that holy man, whose friendship she
would not cultivate, whose advice she could not seek, was kneeling for
her at the footstool of Infinite Love, and imploring that, though led
into temptation, she might be delivered from evil.

She knew not that from behind his shutter he had watched her go out,
nor that he had followed her in the agonized belief that she had gone
to self-destruction; nor that the only rest he had taken for the night
was from the time of her return from the post to the present hour.
Believing as he did that Maida was the prey of some great mystery, and
that the indifference she exhibited was only a mask assumed to hide
the writhings of a spirit, every one of whose fine and complex powers
of suffering were daily taxed to torment; and perceiving that, co-
existent with this spirit, there warred within her a principle of
freedom that detested the slavery she endured so uncomplainingly, Mr.
Herbert continually dreaded to hear that she had sought the last
resource of overburdened and unsanctified suffering, and exchanged the
fetters of life for the illusive liberty of death.

When, therefore, so pale and ghost-like, Maida stood before him at
that strange weird hour and asked for writing materials, he granted
her desire, feeling it would be useless to deny it, and hoping that
his concession might touch her into confidence. But when he saw her
depart, calm and intrepid as she had come, his uneasiness increased
into alarm. Connecting, as he did, her demand for papers and pens with
a fatal determination to destroy herself, he feared what the morning
light might reveal. He fancied he already discovered the explanatory
document written in her firm clear hand, and indited by her proud free
spirit. From the peculiarity of her temper, he knew that to follow and
charge her with a suicidal intention would only be to hurry her into
the act, or to put the thought into her mind. He resolved, therefore,
that all he could do was to pass the night in praying for her, and in
watching her movements. Having committed his fears and suspicions to
Him who alone can order the unruly wills of His creatures, Mr. Herbert
retired to his room, and placing open the door, he commenced his
anxious vigil, listening to every night sound, as though it was
fraught with important results. Several times he went to Maida's
apartment, and listened without until some noise within satisfied him
that she was there.

When the twilight glimmered through his shutter, he prepared to take
the rest so needed by mind and body. Wrapping about him his morning
gown, he threw himself on his--couch. He had scarcely done so when he
distinctly heard a door unbolt, and a stealthy footstep on the stair.
Then he heard the creaking latch of the drawing-room window. He sprang
to his window, and in another moment saw Maida hurrying down the
garden. By the same exit he followed her warily and at a distance,
until he perceived that her errand, though mysterious, was harmless.
With a thankful heart he retraced his steps, and cast off the burden
of solicitude which had made the night one of weariness and distress.



CHAPTER XXIII. AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE.


'Neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither
have ye sought that which was lost: but with force and cruelty have ye
ruled them.'

No sooner had the garden gate closed on Robert and Lucy, than Mr.
Evelyn instructed Maida to unlock the waiting-room and conduct thence
to their several destinations the servants who had arrived to take the
place of the wedded pair. There were one man and two women. John Googe
she was to take to an outhouse which Mr. Evelyn had improved into a
room for the use of all succeeding ostlers, whose love quarrels might
not end so innocently as had the amours of Robert Sanders. Tammy
Matters was for the kitchen, and Diprose for the nursery.

Diprose was an Anson expiree, and had been that morning fetched by Mr.
Evelyn during the marriage festivities. She was dressed in the prison
garb, and had about her that frightened air so characteristic of the
novitiate, and her eyes were red with weeping. As the door unlocked
she started to her feet, and became so agitated that when Maida
entered she stood before her as one palsy stricken.

Tammy Matters and Googe were old hands; they at once recognised in
Maida a fellow-servant; but the expiree, mistaking her for her
mistress, bowed lowly before her, to the amusement of the others.

'Grab hold of honour whilst you can get it, mate; she won't be long a
missus-ing you,' said Googe to Maida.

In leaving the room Tammy punctiliously observed the right of
precedence. With a circular jerk of her elbow she edged Diprose back
and herself forward: it was not to be thought of, that a new expiree
should walk before her, who was almost due for her ticket. Casting a
smile of contempt at the Government brown, she smoothed down her own
clothes with a smirk of approbation, glancing self-satisfied at the
finery which apparelled a figure surpassingly grotesque. Every
possible texture of material had been pressed into her bodily service.
Her black bonnet had evidently been an apron; the silk, drawn tightly
over a piece of shapeless pasteboard, revealed this secret by
exhibiting alternate rows of tiny holes and greasy marks where the
folds had lain. A whole nosegay of soiled flowers of every sort hung
loosely from one side of the bonnet, and flapped up and down with a
constancy that reminded one of perpetual motion. Her gown of bright-
coloured muslin barely reached her ankles: it could not have been
lengthened but at the expense of one of the five flounces adorning the
skirt--an expense that neither Tammy's love of finery nor hatred of
needlework could sanction. A relic of the Anson in the form of the
prisoners' blue checked neckerchief, pinned shawl-fashion on her neck,
completed her attire. The convict petticoat, though looped up to suit
the peculiarity of the muslin, was visible beneath the dress.

As Tammy professed to excellence in cookery, and to just the contrary
in the house department, Mrs. Evelyn decided that she and Maida should
exchange situations. The latter therefore became housemaid, and was
consequently brought into more frequent contact with Miss Evelyn, for
whom she had long entertained a deep but unacknowledged regard. All
portions of her daily duty which had Emmeline for their object were
regarded more as acts of pleasure than of servitude. The sweet low
voice, ever ready to greet her with a cheerfulness void of levity, and
an affability void of condescension, had a sympathy in its tone that
came more acceptably than sympathy expressed in words. And when, as
was often the case, the gentle voice gave utterance to thoughts full
of peace, and bright with the immortal hope that irradiated the inner
life of the invalid, Maida would listen and linger, longing to hear
more; then, when she could linger no more, she would gather all she
had heard into her mind and bear it away; and often during the day,
which to her was ever of toil and trial, she would dwell upon the
words of peace and love, and bless the lips that had spoken them to
her.

With what special interest watched the great Adversary of Souls the
spiritual fluctuations of this tempted woman! How perseveringly did he
try to hold her back from all that might benefit her! How cunningly
devised were the hindrances he placed in her way! When, despite his
endeavours, a grain of the precious seed of truth found access to her
mind, how subtle in its commonplaceness was the means adopted to
defraud her of it, or to destroy its fructifying power I A sharp and
undeserved rebuke from her mistress, a degrading familiarity from one
of her fellow-servants, a threat, a provocation, were contrivances by
which all Emmeline's example and Mr. Herbert's teaching were rendered
useless. And yet, we know not why we should specify this as peculiar
of Maida's career. A similar strife between the powers of light and
darkness is everywhere being carried on. Whether in the person of the
aged believer or in the young wavering disciple, whether in the bold
confessed outlaw or in the timid youth hesitating over his first
crime, Satan is awake the wide world over, everywhere arrogant over
what he holds, and rampant for that which is beyond his reach.
Imitating God, he despises not the day of small things. But with
Maida, and with others in like condemnation, the strife is more
apparent, the vacillations are more striking, there not being the
restraints and decorums of free life to hide them.

One afternoon, when Maida had occupied the situation of housemaid for
three months, Mr. Evelyn determined to try the experiment of sending
her out alone (hitherto he had adhered to his regulation, and only let
her go out under the guardianship of one of the family). Bridget's bad
headache afforded him an excuse for the experiment. Summoning Maida,
and assuming that severity of manner which he reserved for state
occasions, he told her that he was about to test the sincerity of her
intentions, and try if she would be as trustworthy when out of his
sight as he had yet had no reason to doubt she was within the
immediate bounds of the household. He then cautioned her against
shipmates and public-houses; and finally charging her to remain out no
longer than necessary, and reminding her how pained he should be if
she deceived him, and how unhesitatingly he should punish her if she
disobeyed him, he dismissed her with a note and parcel to Trinity
Parsonage, bidding her stop on her way there to perform a few errands
in the city. When she was ready to go, Mr. Evelyn himself conducted
her to the gate, and, shutting it upon her, said:

'It is now three o'clock, I shall expect you home before five--now,
mind!'

'I wonder how she feels, going out alone for the first time,'
exclaimed Bridget, as her uncle returned to the drawing-room. 'How she
must hate me, as the poor unfortunate always made to follow her about;
I'm sure I hate it for her.'

'She doesn't care that for it;' and Uncle Ev fillipped, to demonstrate
the that. 'She is the queerest creature that ever came into my
possession. I shall be right glad if Herbert does anything for her in
the converting line, so as to bring down a little of her pride. Poor
soul! I pity her to my heart. By-the-bye, Miss Bridget, you doubt that
I have a heart, do you not?'

As five o'clock drew near, a perceptible though unexpressed anxiety
pervaded the whole family. Emmeline and Bridget both tried to divert
Mr. Evelyn's attention from the waning moments, but without knowing
that the effort was perceived by each other. Each hoped she was
succeeding to admiration, for Uncle Ev, standing with his hands tucked
behind his coat, appeared to answer, or at any rate to acknowledge, by
rapid hems! all that they told him of Charlie's precocities or baby's
tricks; but as the clock struck five, the direction of his previous
thoughts was at once determined; he pulled the bell with a loud click,
and then, walking out of the room, called over the stairs:

'Gwynnham home?'

The fatal 'No, sir,' came back, and sent a cold shiver through
Emmeline, who, turning silently towards her uncle, saw by his
countenance that wrath was determined against; Maida.

Bridget had already left the room, and, forgetting her headache, was
putting on her bonnet to go in search of the fugitive. But Uncle Ev,
who also seemed to be going out, met her on the stairs, and she knew,
by the tone of the voice that bade her return, that resistance or
inquiry would be useless. She looked at him; there could be no harm in
that, yet it seemed quite the wrong thing to do.

'Go in to your cousin; there's no knowing when I shall be back,'
frowned Uncle Ev; and he slammed the door after him with a force that
threatened a terrible amount of trouble.

Meanwhile, where was she who created all this excitement? Having
performed her commissions in the city, Maida proceeded to Trinity
Parsonage and delivered the parcel. Returning thence by that part of
the prisoners' burial-ground which faces the town end of Government
demesne, she stood to gaze on that final resting-place for her captive
brethren. Leaning on the fence, her eye wandered over the field, whose
dreary aspect had naught to break its dull monotony save the ridges,
which heaved its surface at careless intervals, giving it more the
appearance of land prepared for the sower than of that already sown
for the human harvest, of which the poet so touchingly writes; but it
needed the symmetry of the husbandman's labour to make even outward
resemblance to that rude picture complete. The inner picture--ah! who
would dare compare?--the contrast strikes too vividly. The husbandman
ploughs his acres, and his heart goes with his work; each furrow
receives his hope, his prayer, as well as his goodly grain. The grave
is prepared with curses; the human seed is sown prayerlessly,
tearlessly--for we do not call the formal, grudged service mumbled
over the prison dead a prayer--and tears, who expects them at a
convict funeral? The eyes to shed them are across the ocean. The seed
is sown, the earth is shovelled over it, and who cares to ask or think
in what form it shall arise?

Maida leaned quietly for a few moments. The slow movement of her head
from one part of the field to the other denoted rather a general
survey of it as one object of sadness than a search for a particular
spot over which to feel a particular sorrow. She suddenly started,
and, standing erect, gazed, intent, towards the furthest extremity of
the field. Until this instant three men, partially hidden by the
increased height of fence, had escaped her notice. With a quick cry of
impatience, she sprang over the barrier and confronted two low-
foreheaded, brutal-visaged prisoners, who were wantonly abusing their
trust by kicking about and otherwise ill-treating two coffins that had
been left them to inter. As Maida now stood before them, one of the
coffins was lying edgewise, having rolled off from two graves of
unequal size on which it had been tossed; the other, almost raised to
an upright posture, was supported by a heap of rubbish.

The younger man was a simple-looking fellow; he had been an obedient
tool in the hands of the other two, who appeared to delight in the
matter-of-fact manner in which the youth received and carried out
their orders. The burial service, of course, had been performed; but
that invested the corpses with no sacredness in the sight of those who
were left at once to fill up the ceremony and the grave.

'Who be you?' cried both men, and gaped the third, as, like an
apparition, Maida rose up before them.

The fire of bygone days flashed from her dilating eyes, and, in a tone
of haughty superiority, she exclaimed;

'I'll report you! How dare you! I remain by you until I have seen them
decently buried. Cannot you let their mangled bodies rest in peace?'

'Round away, then, my pretty one! round away on us! Who may you be?
Remember we are alone together,' replied the elder man, in a voice of
impudent raillery.

'We are alone, but I am safe. The wretch that could insult the dead,
would fear to touch the living.'

She fixed her eye steadily upon him, and as she read the brutal
characters delineated in his face, she fancied one by one appeared
features she had scanned before, but where, or under what
circumstances, she could not recall.

'Is it so, my darling? Then how comes Bob Pragg out here? Giles Waddy
there can tell to that--can't ye, Gi? He'll warrant ye I've touched
the living 'fore now, and that with no chicken-heft, I'll promise ye;
a chinker gied by Bob Pragg ain't a gift of every day.'

The name horrified Maida. She knew too well now why she had recognised
the face. With an involuntary shudder she dropped her voice to a
scarcely audible whisper:

'They are prisoners.'

'They was, but I reckon they are free enough now. Forgery and
lifting,' he continued, as if that had been their names.

'And you are prisoners?' said Maida.

'In the Queen's service! Government livery, blue and gold--no mistake.
Can you sport a fig of baccy?'

Bob touched his cap, mock reverentially, and winked to Giles.

'Who may your graceship be?'

Another touch of the cap, and wink to the youngest man, who had never
withdrawn his gaze from Maida.

'I--am--a----prisoner,' said Maida, speaking slowly and distinctly.

The trio started in unfeigned astonishment.

'My eyes!' at last ejaculated the youngest.

'I wouldn't scarce believed it, if I'd seen the brown petticoat,' said
Giles.

Here Maida raised her gown an inch or two above her feet, and with the
convict garment confirmed her statement. Bob Pragg stared with a mixed
expression of incredulity and delight; then shading his mouth with his
hand, he whispered to Waddy:

'Be blostered if 't ain't Martha Grylls! I'd swear to her all the
world over! There's pluck enough for she, and too much for any else.'

'We are all prisoners, then,' proceeded Maida. 'Should we not,
therefore, show more feeling towards each other? Fancy: to be so
treated by their brothers in trouble, and that when they are unable to
resist!'

Her eye again began to gather fire, and her speech animation. It was
not in her wholly to control the indignation struggling in her breast.

'They have had a life of degradation and misery--surely in death, when
the oppressor can no longer reach them, their own comrades should let
them rest in peace!'

'Oh, they tookt it easy--'tisn't all takes on as very like you did.
Most on us couldn't be worse off than we was in England. Most on us
only turned rogue when we couldn't turn a penny from honest work. To
them what don't care for the name on it, it's better to be here with
full bellies and hard work than 't 'ome with empty maws and idle
jaws--that is when a feller can keep blind eye of the Government
coves--they'm mighty partial where they pleases!'

'Then you'll bury them at once?' interposed Maida, but Giles had not
finished.

'Tho' I says it myself, I'd never have been out here, if I'd got work
at home. I was as willing to live by fair means as any man going; but
honest thoughts won't fill a poor fool's pocket, and,---me! if it'll
stop his children's bawl. When I frisked a crib the fust time, I'd no
thought o' doing it again; but then I found a wideawake sort of
feeling come out of the job--a feeling that seemed to put fresh life
in me; so I went on till I'd no notion of toiling a week for what I
could get in a night, and joined company with a cracksman, and got
lagged after a while--and now I'm your humble servant.'

The thoughtful tone into which he had lapsed during this retrospection
vanished during the last five words, and he appeared, by a sudden and
remarkable transition of manner, again to become Giles Waddy, the
ruffian. Maida attempted to speak, but Giles again stopped her, on
which Bob Pragg commented:

'Gi's on his pet fiddle-string now--scrape, scrape, he'll go, till you
wish hearty you'd never meddled with sober folks in their occupation--
there, scrape, scrape, he goes again.'

'Strikes me--or I'll be struck stone dead--if them wise heads don't
one day find out there's something wiser to be done than paying police
and building gaols. Men don't swag on full bellies, 'xcept when they's
had a smack on it, and finds it relishing. The fust time they steals,
they steals for hunger--the second, the deuce knows why.'

'Hold your jaw, you confounded blockhead! Thank your blessed stars
you're not one of them wise 'eds--any day I'd rather be one of the
drove than the driver.'

'Anyhow, we'll all roll into hell together! but don't you talk pious
there--you'd no call to turn rogue--you know you turned because you
admired the trade.'

A loud gruff laugh sounded through the ground. Maida stamped
impatiently, but speak with authority again she dared not--not on her
own account, but for the sake of the dead. Any burst of anger would be
visited on those who lay helpless at her feet, for, with the young
man's assistance, she had laid the coffins in a proper position.

'Now, then, do let us bury them!' she said.

'Us! Heft away, then; but no harm in being merry over the confounded
job. Leave alone there' (to the young man)--'no use to try it; the
hole's too small for two on 'em.'

'It shan't be for want of trying, then,' and Giles kicked the topmost
off, and jumping on the under one, endeavoured to squeeze it down a
few inches by stamping his full weight on it; then, with an awful
curse, he called on the young man to help drag it out from the hole.

Maida could witness it no longer in silence:

'I'll report you, and shall glory in the punishment you get. Give me
the spade!'

Before Giles could resist, she had snatched the implement from him,
and in the strength of excitement had struck it deep into the tough
mould.

Giles raised his arm to strike her, but a loud guffaw, and a meaning
wink from Bob, arrested the blow.

'Gi, you'll be a fool if you quar'l with her for doing your work. Let
her have a heft at it whilst we take a spell over yonder.'

Another wink in the direction of a distant part of the ground made Gi,
though somewhat sullenly, let fall his arm, and follow Bob Pragg--for
he was the second ruffian--to the spot. The young man was about to
join them, but Bob nudged him back.

In the flush that dyed Maida's cheek and temple as the spade drew
heavily back, Sam saw only the natural effect of unusual effort--we,
who know more of Maida, discern pain in its fervour, and mighty mental
conflict in that involuntary closing of the lid, as the inward fire
shone lustrous crimson through the transparent skin. A few more
desperate onslaughts, and resting, as any wearied delver might rest,
one foot on the bottom of the spade and one hand on the top, Maida
turned and took her first look at Sam. His eyes were riveted on her so
fully that he was obliged to give a number of small twinkles before he
could unfix them. It was now for Maida to gaze at him, which she did,
in silence, for many seconds, and then, 'Poor lad!' burst from her
lips.

'Sam, how old are you?'

But Sam did not answer; he seemed too busy replying to mental queries
of his own.

Whatever the replies were, they finally converged into a focus in the
form of a question, which, though couched in lowly phrase, appeared to
give him infinite satisfaction.

'Let's take a heft on't. Like you'm sweatin', miss?'

'No, Sam, you are tired; let us talk a little.'

'With me, ma'am!'

Wonder added to their former admiration, the glassy blue goggles again
took possession of Maida's face.

'Yes--why not with me?'

'Be you a prisoner, sure, ma'am?'

The 'ma'am' came so naively and so aptly from his lips, that Maida
accepted it from the poor lad as a tribute of respect from which she
had long been estranged.

'I am your fellow-prisoner.'

'A sight o' difference 'tween us tho'!'

And Sam, as if referring only to personal disparity, deliberately
viewed Maida and then himself from head to foot.

'You've got a whole back of fine clothes.'

'Ah, but there is this beneath them!' bitterly said she, again showing
the convict brown.

'And I can't keep out of yellows no ways. When I think now for the
greys! and I am just on having 'em, something comes along to get me
into trouble, and it's a sight o' time 'fore I gets out of the
yellows; I haven't been out of 'em yet for more than two months to a
time.'

The colour had now faded from Maida's face; the ashy paleness that
succeeded could no more escape the earnest search of Sam's eyes than
had the flush.

'Be sick, missus?' asked Sam, whilst the immovable goggles remained
firm to their watch.

A faint and sad smile found its way to her lips, in spite of the
aching load that dragged downwards all desire to smile.

'No, Sam; I'm sick in a way that you cannot understand. You don't seem
very suited to those clothes; tell me how you came by them.'

The youth lolled his ample tongue in his mouth in quiet satisfaction
that he had permission to talk--a comfort he seldom enjoyed in the
crowded desolation of the Tench where older and rougher voices--when
any voice was allowed--asserted the pre-eminence both in pitch and in
period; while younger ones, fearful the blame of the uproar would fall
on them, found refuge from the strife of tongues either in self-
enforced silence or sullen moodiness.

'Must I tell how I got lagged, or how I gets into trouble?'

'Tell me all you like; it does me good to hear of other persons'
troubles. Tell me about mother, and father, and all.

The prospect of an uninterrupted recital glistening before him,
reflected a thin glaze of pleasure on his sickly face, and put a
moment's life into the glassy opacity of his eyes.

'I never had no father, as I know on; and mother--the naybors all took
shy on her, cos she'd got me; and when I came nigh to 'em they shoved
me off, and said I'd no business to be born; I wasn't nothin' to
nobody; and mother fretted, and said I was everythin' to her, because
she hadn't got nothin' else.'

Here another loll of his tongue, followed by a thick swallow, stopped
Sam for an instant; and when Maida glanced towards him the goggles had
not removed, but their earnestness seemed subdued by a mist that had
overspread them.

'The naybors said she was taking to bad ways, but she told me she
wasn't; she used to tell me everythin', tho' I didn't know much what
it meant then--but now sims to me I was a jackass for not knowing.
Well, missus, one afternoon she'd sat crying--sims I see her now!--and
I was nation bad hungered. "Mother," says I, "shan't us get nothin' to
ate to-day?" Then she gave me the first bad word that she'd ever gave
me--sims I hear her now! Her says: "Mother me to-morrow, you young
devil, if you can!" "Mother," says I, "never mind, I can bide;" then
she fell to crying worse, and then she grabbed me like mad, and
bawled: "If mother speaks so to un, who else should speak kind?" Then
she throwed up her hands to God Almighty as fine as any parson, and
bawled out: "Justice? let 'en come! I lay this sin at his feet. Yes,
at yours, Edward Moulston!" "What is justice, mother? Be it anythin'
good to ate?" says I. Then she laughed like Old Nick, and bawled: "I
believe you! It's good for nothin' else; but it doesn't do for
starving wretches--it takes too long a-comin'." I was gettin' most
afraid of her; thinks I, the devil's got hold on her. Well, missus,
then she went out, and brought me back some rare grub, so that I got a
rale bellyful; she looked on at me all the while. When I'd done, she
took her bonnet, and said to me: "You won't want nothin' more to-day,
Samuel. If I'm not back by dark, go to bed; and if I ain't back to
mornin', and the folks comes to ask for me, tell 'em I'm gone out to
look for justice; perhaps I'll have to go t'other side of the water to
find 'en." And, great jackass, I never know'd what she was up to; so I
never see'd her again--and then the naybors said she had drownded
herself.'

The mist condensed into large drops, which, passing over his high
cheek-bone, and through the hollow beneath, fell to the earth--the
only tear that had moistened that loveless grave, yawning for the
lonely dead.

'And you, poor Sam?'

'I was sent to the house, and I ran away; and then they got hold on
me, and said I'd do famous for 'em if I'd be a plucky chap, and never
round on 'em; so they tookt me for winders, cos I was slim as a black-
worm--and warn't I glad to go with 'em!--jist suited me, for I bain't
bright in my head. Winders is asy work, when they bain't stiff uns.'

'Who brought you up, Sam?'

'Them cracksmen. They was very good by me; I never got flayed for
aught but blundering, and I was a sight happier then than I be now.'

Again could Maida scarce refrain a smile at his simplicity. He told
his tale so utterly unvarnished by sentiment, or shamed by
compunction, that it was evident the words 'right' and 'wrong' had no
place in his moral dictionary.

'But, Sam, don't you think you are better off, even as a convict, than
you were, living with those wicked men, and doing their wicked work
for them?'

'My eyes!--no.'

And Sam stared, as if the stare should say, 'You arn't half the one I
took you for.'

Maida looked intently on him, to discern the source of this reply:

'What! not be on the road to honesty, instead of in the way to certain
ruin, as you were then, Sam?'

Figure was lost on him.

'I've been on the roads, ma'am; but I tookt bad in my legs, so I works
about Tench now.'

She must simplify. If the goggles could only take in half they tried,
Sam would understand a great deal; but theirs was large attempt with
small success.

'Sam, tell me now: don't you think it was very wicked of you to do
what those men bade you, and to lead so bad a life?'

'I hadn't no other--'sides, I was brought up to it fust.'

'But why--why did you run away from the poor-house, Sam? that was your
first wrong step.'

'I didn't like it.'

This reply was given in so decided a manner that Sam evidently
considered it as much without appeal to others as it had been to
himself; he therefore goggled double power (suspicion gaining on
admiration) when Maida expressed disapprobation. The poor fellow
seemed anxious to please his new-found friend. What could he say? He
longed to hear his voice, and yet he would rather lose that pleasure
than vex her and involve himself. The convict fear and mistrust,
although displayed in the widened gape and gaze, instead of the
piercing glance and evasive response of intelligence, were as strong
in him as in brighter specimens.

'Dun no that I'd do it again, missus. Parson Evelyn talks about it
fine--he found me in cells one day, and he talked till 'most I cried;
and then says he: "My boy, if you'd got your time over again, do you
think you'd run away from the workhouse, now I've explained why it was
foolish of you to do so?" "Drat me if I would!" says I; "sims I were a
big jackass for rinnin'--I weren't up to it then; but boys is boys,
sir, and nothin' else."

'Then the parson--sims I see him now--rose up, and laid his two
fingers on my shoulder; and sims he smiled--for his voice weren't like
'twas 'fore. Says he: "Why, what be now, Sam? You ain't no more than a
boy." "Sir! bain't I?" said I; "sims I feels mighty old. A sight o'
things comes by every day though nothin' don't sim to happen out of
'em; so I feels like a man."

'Then he sat down again, and says: "What d'ye mean, Sam? Tell me all
about it." But though I was full of it, I couldn't speak it out--so I
only gaped at 'en. So then says he: "Ah, I know all about it, Sam; so
you needn't set your brain a thinking--more things happen than ought
to happen to such a youngster." This yer weren't said to me, for he
gozzled it out of his throat like; thinks I, I'm in for it! he's going
to round on me, sure as fate! And I felt 'most dead o' fright. "When
were you flogged last, Sam?" says he, all to a sudden. "Yesterday,
sir, 'fore I came here," says I. "What for?" says he. "The bowl of a
baccy pipe, picked up after the gatekeeper," says I. "What did you
pick it up for, Sam?" says he. "'Gainst I got a fig," says I. "And how
many lashes did you have?" "Twenty-five--lor', weren't they
screechers! He said, when he tied me up to the triangle: 'I owes you a
tickler, and now I'll pay'e.'"

'Parson bolted out when I told un this, and I set up a howl after un;
thought I, Won't I catch it if the parson rounds on me! But he came
back quiet as a fool; says he, only talking half loud, "Sam, my boy,
you'll get into worse trouble, if you make this row." Then he sheered
again, and I bawled after un, "Sir! sir!! sir!!!" And he comes again,
and says, "Well!" "You got it out of me, sir; don't-'e go and tell
'em. I could not bear another thrashin'. Oh! don't-'e--don't-'e,
parson," says I to un. Then he spoke so solemn, he made a feller
shake: "Sam, I am God's minister. I tell no one but Him of anythin'
that my people tells me. You may always speak out to me, my boy: but
mind, I'll have no bad words, nor lies. I can always find out the
truth." I pulled bob to 'un; but, for all I wanted, I couldn't say,
"Thank your grace." Then he comes in right again, and tookt his seat
as if he had never left it, and says, "Sam, why were you so foolish as
to pick up the pipe, to vex the overseer?"'

'Were those his VERY words, Sam? try to remember,' interrupted Maida.

'Yes, they were; I remember them 'tickler.'

Maida well knew that Mr. Herbert used no word idly. Repeating those
two words, 'foolish,' 'vex'--she felt sure that they were meant as
more applicable to the case than stronger expressions.

'D'ye like it, miss? sims tellin' it out's done me good,' asked Sam,
heaving a sigh of satisfaction.

Maida felt there was not much to like in it, as she beheld the poor
lean, lank, miserable youth before her; but she was loth to break the
slight web of comfort that had unexpectedly wafted across his path; so
she replied:

'I like to hear about Mr. Evelyn, Sam.'

'Don't 'e like all about mother and me?'

'We all like to tell our troubles, and I like you to tell yours; what
more did he say to you?'

'A lot, but I don't mind much. Mr. Evelyn said, if I'd get out of
trouble, and try to be a good boy, then by-and-by he'd get a chap he
knows on to hire me out.'

'Well, and I hope you are trying, for Mr. Evelyn will keep his
promise. I am sure of that.'

Here Sam's gogglers fell considerably, whilst an expression of moody
hopelessness weighed down his lantern jaw to its utmost limit of
expansion.

"Tain't much use trying along with they there; they's got a way of
making a feller like the deuce hisself; when a feller gets into
trouble for nothin', he might all so well do somethun' to make it
worth his while.'

'This is a sentiment too bright for Sam,' thought Maida, and she had
hardly thought it, before Sam continued:

'Bob Pragg told me that 'ere; I ain't clever enough, he's a sharp un;
he knows a sight, and he bain't bad to me when I does what he wants;
but, my eyes, when I don't! Parson warned me of he; but the parson nor
nobody else don't know what a poor feller what isn't clever, and don't
know what nothin' means, has got to bear from them sharp uns; be
'fraid of they, missus?'

He turned his head towards the spot from which, preceded by a loud,
coarse laugh, the two men were issuing.

'I am not afraid of any one.'

'My eyes! could 'e fight 'em?'

'Women don't fight, Sam.'

But Sam gave a little negative-like shake of the head, as much as to
say, 'Don't they, that's all!'

'They's comin', missus! and us ain't buried 'em.'

'I am not going to dig any more, Sam. I shall make those men finish.'

How the goggles expanded! adoration more than admiration holding them
firm to Maida's face. He was too rapt even to ejaculate his favourite
note, so extra expressive as it would just then have been.

'So, my pretty one! I thought your flourishes wouldn't last us t'other
side of the ground. I guess you've been making the best of your time.
Eh, Sam? No blushing, madam; ain't going to pry into lovers' secrets;
tho' I swear 'tain't fair that son of an ape should have all to
himself; what d'ye say, Gi?'

A nudge from Gi brought Bob to the remembrance of a waning afternoon,
and the probability of interruption to the plan he had laid during his
absence. When the two were sufficiently remote, by a whisper into Gi's
ear, Bob dispelled the sulkiness that had lingered in his slouching
movements across the field. A sharp whew-w! was Gi's only answer to
the whisper. A consultation ensued for the next ten minutes, and then
for ten minutes more the two squatted on the grass, and, chewing
certain blades of it, gloated over their plan, and drank imaginary
bumpers to its success; for whatever else these brethren disagreed in,
they both cordially united in hatred of Bradley, the convict
constable, who should now have been superintending their work. That he
deserved to be hated is not to our point--that he was hated by the
whole gang over which he had control, is a fact more to our purpose.
He had a savage glory in mortifying such men as Bob and Giles, by
evincing his power to the most annoying minutiae of convict rule; and
a still more fiendish delight in dragging to (in)justice the
delinquencies of such poor weaklings as Sam. If the reader be a
colonist, he will already have asked, 'Where was the constable or
overseer, that he was not with the men at their work?' And this very
question Bob and Gi determined should be asked by the Superintendent
of the Barracks, in order to incur the answer, 'Drinking a dram at the
Bird in Hand over yonder'; an answer which would sound unwelcomely to
the Superintendent and Comptroller, as they could not in conscience
hear it, and let Bradley keep his belt and pistol: and then how
grateful to the warm, brotherly feelings of Bob and Giles would it be,
to hail him to their gang, and to share with him their parti-coloured
clothes!

They gladly agreed to forego the fig, and taste of the tankard
promised by Bradley as a reward of good faith; for they hoped to chew
a more delicious morsel, and quaff a more refined dram by following
their own counsel than in keeping Bradley's.

'Why, man, you don't seem satisfied,' cried Bob, in the course of the
consultation.

'Don't see why we can't peach ourselves without getting the woman to
report; maybe she'll get us into trouble along with that infernal
dog.'

'And wouldn't it be wo'th a spell at the wheel, or a dance in the
dark, to get him plucked of his jackdaw feathers! I tell ye I'd bear a
flogging without a wince to get him down; and you be--'

'No bullying of me now, Pragg; I bain't he--so keep your jolly
thumpers to yourself, or try 'em on your own skull till you can on
Bradley's.'

'Hold your humbug and listen to me; I've laid plans before now, and if
they don't turn out admeerable, I'm not Bob Pragg.'

'I've heard you once, and I bain't no fool.'

But Bob, ever oracular, must again show forth his wisdom, and glut his
vengeance with a concoction of malice. In spite of Gi's protest, he
would repeat his scheme as follows:

'She'm quieter now, and don't seem likely to report--that won't suit
us; nor Bradley--she must report--and then 'twill out that Constable
Bradley don't look after his birds in fact, 'twill be clear that he
prefers a "bird in the hand" to three in the bush, for this ground
ain't much more than bush appearantly.'

'Ha! ha I ha! that's in 'em--you'll be constable next Bob.'

'O fie, Gi, I ain't bad enough!' cried Pragg, with a serio-comic shake
of the head. 'Must be more like my masters first.'

'Will be soon tho' with a little more of their doctoring.'

'Where was I, Gi? Well, she must report, and pop goes he out of the
staff into--cells! the thing is--'

'How to get her to march to head-quarters,' cried Giles getting
excited over the rehearsal.

'That's the go, Gi! like to see ye game. How to get her? Trust me for
that! I've seen her 'fore now;--me if I don't raise the deuce in her.
Never heard Bob Pragg's music? I'll play devil's tattoo on them
precious boxes there till I make her fly mad to the Governor; then
sharp's the word, Mr. Bradley! Now let's off. When I begins you'll
know--there's no mistaking Bob Pragg, always except when he means you
shall mistake him; then there's all so much no not mistaking him.'

'But what shall we do with that gaping blockhead yonder?'

'He ain't wo'th a thought; he must come in for it long with us, 'twill
do'n good--polish en a bit. When Government condescends to notice such
blackguard paupers, and place 'em 'longside of gents, why gents can't
do less than condescend too, and train 'em up in the way they should
go--should, meaning in the way they are fossed to go; seeing when
they'm once in there's no gettin' out till their hedication's
finished.'

'And then I s'pose they'm pretty fit for somewhere.'

'Right, man; the place where gents go--the proper place for used-up
O.P.S.O.'s, and we'm all that, from Comptroller downwards.'

The loud 'ha! ha! ha!' which chorussed this speech was the sound that
brought Sam's treat to an end.

An admonitory nudge from Giles warned Bob to action. Stooping to one
of the coffins, he turned it on its side, and swearing a fearful oath,
exclaimed:

'Now I'll stand no more nonsense I if they won't get into the hole,
I'll throw a spade of earth over 'em and leave 'em; and the devil may
come and carry 'em off if he likes; now heave away, Sam.'

Sam raised it at the opposite side; when Bob, feigning mistake, let go
his side, and down came the coffin, and tumbled over a grave.

"Twasn't me, missus!' almost blubbered Sam, as he, with the two
others, noticed the pale passion that worked in every feature of
Maida's face.

'Catch here, Bob,' cried Giles, approaching; 'catch here.'

And as if playing football, he gave the coffin a tremendous kick;
before he could give a second he was lying prostrate, and that by a
woman's hand. By a dexterous movement, Maida had collared and thrown
him, whilst his foot was upraised to give a second kick.

Another movement, and stunned by a blow from Giles, Maida lay
senseless on the ground; as Giles bent over her in savage fury, Sam
thought he was about to murder her. Losing all fear for himself, he
sprang forward, shouting:

'You shan't touch of she!'

'At him, Sam! at him! Show yourself a man,' cried Bob. 'At him; you
must fight for her.'

Encouraged, bewildered, and hurried on by excitement Sam did 'at'
Giles. Wielding the spade with a force as unnatural to himself as
unexpected to Giles, he struck the wretched man so heavily, that only
his weight in falling disengaged the spade from the grip of the liven
skull into which the iron had pierced.

Three heavy groans gurgled from the lips of the dying man, and then a
strange solemn stillness spread over the field, chilling the horror-
stricken group into a breathless silence.

Neither Bob nor Sam moved, until a shivering sensation in the latter
increased to an almost audible quaking of his whole lank frame.

'B-o-b?' at last he quaked out in sepulchral tone.

Bob looked, but did not speak.

'Who--did--it, B-o-b?' the large glassy eyes were riveted on the
corpse.

The question aroused Bob to a sense of self-preservation.

'Who? You, and no mistake! But I'll stand by ye, Sam, cos you've never
done me no harm; but mind, you say a word about me, and I'll do for
you in no time.'

'Don't want nothin',' came mechanically from Sam, who had either not
heard or not apprehended. He had sunk on his thighs, and now sat
crouched up, resting his chin in his hands, and gazing on Giles as if
he had neither power nor will to withdraw his eyes from the corpse.

'Sam, boy, rouse yerself I We must be doing something 'fore the
constable comes along; keep a good face on it, and let us be the first
to make the row. Up, boy! up! the woman 'll wake, and Bradley 'll be
along presently; lend a sharp heft or two, and get them plagues
buried, then we'll carry Giles to Tench; leave the rest to me; silence
is all I wants out of you.'

This was all, the first shock over, that Pragg made of the death of
his comrade. How the death might affect him was the only remaining
point that engaged his mind.

Accustomed to fear Pragg, Sam tried to stand, but the violent
trembling of his limbs made him sink again.

'Get up, lazy-bones, and be a man; you've got guilt in yer very phiz;
there's no go for you whilst you shows your game by the fright in that
whitewash of yours. Up, I say!' and he kicked him with his foot.

But Sam only raised his large lack-lustre eyes for a second to Bob's
face, and then slowly returned them to their ghastly resting-place.
Seeing it was useless to waste the now precious moments on the poor
boy, Bob turned to the pit with:

'Confound the blockhead; he's no true blood in him for all he gied
such a mortal chinker.'

By dint of digging, dragging, pounding, and shoving, he managed to get
the coffins interred; but it was a difficult task. He had barely
stamped the earth upon them when Bradley jumped over the fence,
bringing the promised bribe of tobacco and ale.

A revenge beyond even Bob's malice awaited the official, as, filled
with insolence and wine, he swaggered across the field. Brutal triumph
gleaming from his hard features, Pragg watched the effect of the scene
on Bradley. The hour was his; he was master of the field. Quietly
taking the bottle from the latter, he drained it, and flung it in the
air, crying:

'To your health and ticket, old fellow! Did you ever hear of a
canary?'

'I've heard of a laughing jackass, and sees one now,' snarled the
constable, perceiving that there was something amiss. Glancing around,
he quickly discovered that something, and how the case lay. Accustomed
to mark tokens of guilt and degrees of crime in different characters,
he at once acquitted Pragg, and discerned the murderer in the
miserable figure crouching before him.

Had his own situation been less precarious, he would have proceeded
with ferocious glee to hale his victim to judgment; but all dream of
official consequence vanished beneath the threatening darkness of
Pragg's malignant leer. One glance hastily cast from under his heavy
brow sufficed to warn Bradley that wrath was determined against him.
How to avert it was his troubled thought. Maida was the only unsolved
portion of the dreadful puzzle. What part had she acted in it? How
came she lying there? Had the fight been on her account? Could she be
of any service in making terms with his enemy? were questions that
hurried through Bradley's mind as, without moving his head, he
surveyed the strange group.

'It must be now or never,' thought he; 'in a quarter of an hour the
Tench bell will summon the men.'

Assuming what mastery he could over his quailing voice, he asked Bob:

'Who's the woman? what had she to do with it? Speak out; don't be
feared.'

There was a malicious twinkle in Bob's eye as he answered:

'She's only a missis that came along and fented (like all women does
when they's wanted to lend a hand); so one can't say she had much to
do with it.'

Bradley felt uneasy; he could not discover the drift of this reply.

'Will you swear to it?' he asked.

'Swear to it or anything else you pleases.'

The same twinkle, and Bradley inly writhed.

'Don't doubt you, Pragg; but excuse me as a constable if I ask that
youngster a question just by way of probation.'

'Hoa! here, you scoundrel' (shaking him roughly by the shoulder);
'hoa, and tell us, did the woman faint?'

'Y-e-s,' said Sam, in the same low, mechanical tone.

'Tell you what, Bob,' cried Bradley; 'there's no use in shamming. I
see exactly how 'tis; there's no mistake that he's fixed and you are
free; but that won't let us off--we are all in for it--me as well as
you, so I'll be honest with you, man; give your hand here to a
bargain, and with my word to it you're safe.'

Bradley thrust his hand to Bob, but Bob deliberately thrust his into
his pockets, giving, at the same time, a side-catch of his mouth and
eye, which the constable interpreted: 'Don't you wish you may get it?'

'I like that amazin' I How d'ye make out I'm in for it? You are in a
jolly mess of it; but 'xcept I gets into trouble for what others does,
Bob Pragg stands as clear as any man. Can I help the dogs from
fightin' it out?'

'Don't doubt you, Pragg; but them Government coves is such a set, one
never knows when one's safe; white easy turns to black with them.
Don't you reckon on clearness but take my advice, as one who knows a
thing or two about them twisters.'

'What's the dodge?--out with it.'

Bob had no intention to relent; but the longer he could dally with his
prey, the better for his spite, and the more certain downfall to his
enemy, from the disclosures he might afford by way of bribing silence.

'Strike hands, then.'

'That ain't Bob Pragg; he hears first, hands after.'

Bradley looked on every side, and then pointed to Sam.

'He?'

'Safe as a log; no wits to peach--no brain for lies.'

Bradley nodded; and drawing close to Pragg, whispered:

'Bolt! I'll make out a case to suit, and turn their noses the wrong
way till you're beyond them.'

Bob started; the offer was audacious and tempting; but hiding his
surprise, he exclaimed:

'Show my heels like a murderer? Jolly trick! So let yon fool get free,
and me be hunted across the island like any brute of a dingo.'

'No such thing, man; guilt's too plain on him; besides take my word
that he don't even deny it: bolting and running won't show guilt--
'twill only be one natural effect of the outrage. The story 'll be
some'at like this:

'"Constable's too busy with the rascal to notice you--opportunity
offers--you bolt, as any one of us would if we got such a chance--
constable, of course, 'll be in a decent fluster about it, and eager
after you, but all in the wrong scent till you're safe as a wombat in
his hole." Trust me! I've been after bolters 'fore now, and knows a
few tricks of the trade!'

Bradley attempted a laugh, but he failed. As earnestly as he dared he
watched from under his heavy brow the working of his proposal; but
Bob's hard lineaments showed no working in any way save that the hard
mouth rounded for a whistle, and the hard brow contracted a care-
nought wrinkle.

Bradley again stretched his hand.

'There's no time to lose--now or never.'

'It shan't be now, but don't know that it shan't be never. When Bob
Pragg bolts he don't ask leave,' and he planted his hands on his
thighs. 'I've got an account to settle before I can go: my compliments
to the Comptroller, and tell 'em so from me, Mr. Bradley.'

'Then go and be---!' roared Bradley, shaking his fist at Bob; 'and if
you don't hang for your insolence it shan't be my fault.'

'You'll be too snug to get a peep at me, anyhow,' sneered Bob, who,
looking forward to sure present vengeance, stored up Bradley's threat
for future payment. Bob was a tutored ruffian; he could control
himself when self-control served his purposes.

Taking handcuffs from his pocket, the constable clasped them on Sam,
and, shaking him till he was sufficiently aroused to stand, bade him,
with a fierce kick, walk on whilst he and Bob carried Giles to the
barracks. At that moment the bell rang, and, from every part of the
town, road and building parties were seen returning to their quarters.
Bradley, his burden, and victim were quickly surrounded, when,
resigning his charge to a brother constable and overseer, the former
said he must go and report to headquarters. But report never reached
headquarters through him, for, turning swiftly back, he caught what
little money he had, and, hurrying through Campbell Street made his
way for Kangaroo Point. Rather than meet the disgrace that awaited
him, he determined to follow the advice he had given to Pragg, and
bolt.

Turning to the barracks, he clenched his fist towards the building as
a farewell, and vowed, with a curse, that he would never enter it
again alive: he might be taken, but not whilst he had strength to
fight, or breath in his body. His official costume carried him to some
distance without risk of detection.

Night fell ere Maida came to herself. For many minutes she lay in a
dreamy state, wondering why the moon shone so unobstructedly upon her.
She could rarely see more than its light on the two-paned window in
her garret ceiling The centaurs, too, large and bright, looked on her.
What could it mean? She almost feared to move, lest the pleasant dream
should break.

Comfort insensibly distilled from the long, clear, unbroken rays that
stretched towards her. She raised her hands and passed them over her
eyes, and then, letting them drop, they fell--not on her warm bed, but
on the cold, damp grass. The spell was broken. With a shiver she
started and remembered all; but the brutal tumult was hushed into a
calm that seemed supernatural. She felt stiff and dizzy--so dizzy,
that as she looked around, the graves seemed to advance and recede,
and rise and fall. The ridges of uneven mounds became more uneven, as,
beneath the trembling light, they appeared to heave, as if about to
discharge their dead.

Having satisfied herself that she was alone--that no more ruffianly
insult could arouse her anger or disturb the scene--she went to the
new-made grave, and sat by it. She was already later than convict rule
permitted; she had no pass, should it be demanded, therefore she could
incur no further penalty by remaining a little longer to think over
the strange encounter of the afternoon.

She thought of Pragg; she felt he was her enemy, but for that she
cared not. It was only fitting that the man who had torn her from her
baby should be appointed to work her further woe; it was only to be
expected that he should haunt her to this remote corner of the world.

Her baby! To what a stream of memories did those words give rise. Her
home in Essex--her indulgent, ill-requited, and maybe broken-hearted
father--Norwell--her life of shame and misery--her crime (the thin
smile involuntarily moved her lips)--its punishment. Then, fiercely
beating against the dreary reach of future that stayed its onward
flow, the stream ebbed, lingering now at one point that awakened
tender feeling; then bounding, scornful, from another, until it again
sank into quiescence, leaving Maida no alternative but to meet the
contingencies of a hopeless present.

She was near her master's house before she recollected that an
explanation would be demanded, and that a satisfactory one must be
given, or trouble would ensue. She knew that both Mr. Evelyns would
credit her story, but she did not wish to tell it for a reason, which
was the result of her ignorance of the fearful catastrophe that had
put an end to the graveyard quarrel. Her wrath had kindled, not for
herself, or against the two depraved wretches, but on behalf of the
unresisting dead. The determination to report had been fixed in her
mind the instant before she fell by Waddy's hand; but when, on
recovering consciousness, she perceived, by the graves, that the
offence had been atoned for, she annulled her determination on Sam's
account, fearing he would get equal punishment with the other two men
if she made a report of their misconduct. It did not occur to her to
wonder at her having been left so unceremoniously on the ground, for
she knew too well that selfishness had induced the men to leave her.
To the watchhouse only could they have taken her; and judging her by
themselves, she concluded they had thought she would surely 'round
upon them' in return for the punishment dealt to herself by way of
costs for Government lodging, and had therefore determined to let her
lie.

Neither did she wonder why the constable (who, she was sure, had
hurried in to conduct his charges to the Tench, after having neglected
them all the afternoon) had not paid her due official attention. The
same fear that had made the others so ungallant, had also influenced
him not only to a similar act of ungallantry, but to one of exemplary
self-denial, in resigning his claim to her as a case illustrative of
his constabulary vigilance. But the blow that was now smarting on her
temple, did that urge no vengeful step in Maida, unaware, as she was,
that it had been already avenged by a swift and eternal retribution?

No: as her finger withdrew from the discolouring mark, and as the
slight start caused by the unexpected pain subsided, a firm closing of
the lip, with a steadier planting of her foot upon the earth, was the
only sign that the blow had smitten below the surface, and driven the
iron yet deeper into her soul. She was resolved not to complain whilst
her mind added the indignity to the accumulated items that make prison
life one protracted suffering, unthought of, and maybe unintended,
when the sentence of transportation is passed.

Her foot struck upon the earth, not in the impatience of the steed
that cannot brook restraint, and longs to rush to freedom, but to
steady itself to accomplish the destiny that she scorned with bitter
scorn, even while preparing to fulfil its cruel demands, and fulfil
them to the utmost, though every nerve should be unstrung, and every
power fail in the unequal strife.

Endeavouring to frame an excuse that would involve no falsehood, she
wandered into Collins Street, one moment resolving to anticipate the
fate she expected, by giving herself into custody; the next instant
retracing her steps to go boldly to the Lodge, and meet her master's
inquiries with silence.

Her ponderings were dispelled by two shadows that gained upon her.

She quickened her pace. Still the shadows advanced until they overtook
and passed before her, leaving by her side two men in the constable's
garb.

She heard them whisper:

'No; it's a lady. I'm sure of it. Dressed shabby, because she's out
this time. We can't speak to her, Tom.'

'Oh, I've seen prettier birds than that. Ladies wouldn't be out,
shabby or not shabby, at this time. I say, got a pass, missis?'

This was said in an undertone for his own amusement. Prisoner or not,
Tom thought it fun to see the lady increase her speed.

'Don't fool now, Tom. Remember how Bates took the magistrate, Joyce,
into custody.'

'Let's follow her a bit. If we could get a sight of the brown, then we
should be sure.'

So the men followed her. Tom got impatient, being a newly-made
official, and eager for capture.

'Excuse me, ma'am, but must do my duty. Are you out on leave? It looks
suspicious when ladies are out alone this time o' day.'

'Got a pass?' asked the more initiated constable, on the principle--
justice is no respecter of persons.

Maida thought it better not to notice, but let them draw what
conclusion they might from her silence.

'Stop!' cried the initiated. Running forward, he laid his hand on her
shoulder. 'Come along with us. You can't give no account of yourself;
you're Government for all your fine bobbery.'

'You need not hold me; I am willing to go with you.'

'Don't seem in liquor, Tom.'

'Been fighting, though. Got a black eye.'

Both men were now satisfied as to Maida's character, and doubted not
they were assisting Government in the suppression of convict vice in
taking Maida in charge.

Their belief in the character of their prisoner strengthened, and
their desire to further the views of Government weakened, as they
approached a public-house, which, like nearly all the one hundred and
eighty taverns of Hobart Town, stood at the street's corner--the
prominent ally of sin!

The men drew back and conferred together. They shook hands, and then
said to Maida:

'Young woman, it's after hours; but that's no hindrance to the chap in
here. The pass! let's forget it over a jolly drop We'll be tight about
your being out; and, what's more, we'll see you safe home after we've
spreed it a bit. Under constable's care nobody 'll say a word to you.
I often take the women to Brickfield, and they generally sport a swig
at the Eagle-Hawk.'

Mistaking the expression on her face, the initiated thought Maida
suspected the sincerity of his offer; so taking her arm, and
attempting to draw her towards the door of the house, he exclaimed:

'Come, my lassie; I pledge you in a dram. We are no better than each
other, when once we get in here--I forget our belts, and you forget
your pass.'

'She's up to a thing or two; she doubts you yet,' said Tom.

'I doubt nothing that comes from a convict constable,' replied Maida,
wresting her arm from a grasp more hateful than the official one. 'I
doubt no breach of trust from men who would never be in office could
free men vile enough be found to do their masters' bidding.'

'She ain't Government!' cried Tom, in a fright lest he had betrayed
himself in his hurry to exercise his power.

'I am Government,' said Maida; 'and I am out without a pass; and I
command you to take me to the Watch-house.'

'She's drunk, Tom; I'll swear to that. We'll get a glass then--me if I
don't give her her wish, and something more too, to-morrow: make a
note of what she said against Government, whilst I touch up the chap
here.'

The initiated went round the corner, and, tapping at a little back
window, whistled a signal.

The back door opened. He went in, and having stayed a few moments,
returned with two glasses of liquor. Giving one to Tom, he offered the
other to Maida, with:

'Now, come; you can't say nay to that, or you ain't Government. Off
with it, and about your business. You know you look deuced handsome
humbugging us. We ain't the men to hand over a handsome woman when
she'll make herself agreeable a bit.'

Maida took the glass and flung it and its contents into the road. The
smash drew an exclamation from the men and the exclamation reached the
ears of a gentleman who was crossing at the top of the street. The
gentleman stopped and gazed earnestly towards the spot whence the
noise proceeded; and then hastening forward, came in sight of the
group before the constables could move off in marching order.

'It's the parson!' cried Tom.

'He's been watching us; no use shamming with he,' muttered the other
constable.

'It's my master!' cried Maida, moving as if to him.

The initiated pulled her back.

'You've humbugged us long enough, and now wait and take your luck.
Jolly trick to bolt as soon as you know your game's down.'

Agitation was visible in Mr. Herbert's countenance as by the clear
moonlight Maida distinguished each feature; but his voice was calm and
masterly.

'Maida, where have you been? We have been seeking you since five
o'clock, when we first learned that you had not returned from Trinity
Parsonage. Poor Emmeline is very anxious, and your master
disappointed.'

A searching glance accompanied these words. The smell of spirits was
strong, and the swelling on her forehead indicative of a brawl.

But though these suspicious tokens puzzled Mr. Herbert, they did not
mislead him. There was that peculiar curl about Maida's lip, of which
he had learned the meaning since his more intimate acquaintance with
her.

He felt thankful that his brother had taken the opposite direction in
search of her, for his feelings, already irritated at the notion that
he had been deceived by one in whom he had confided much against his
will, were in no mood to bear the contest for which, by the cool
defiance of her voice, Maida seemed prepared.

'Where I have been I cannot tell you, sir; but now I am going to the
Watch-house. I have desired these men to do their duty; as they
refuse, I go to surrender myself to Government.'

'She's drunk, sir.'

'And you would make her more so. I relieve you of your charge.'

'Please your reverence, I must take her on, for she's out without a
pass,' interposed Tom.

'Leave her,' said Mr. Herbert sternly, 'and go learn what your duty is
before you attempt to perform it. What means that broken glass lying
there, and that bottle thrust into yonder window?'

'You won't be hard upon us a cold night like this, sir? 'Tis often
cold here, sir.'

'Ward, I'm ashamed of you; if you forgot your duty I cannot mine. I
must report you; this is not the first time you have been guilty of
betraying your trust in this shameless manner.'

'Please, sir, wouldn't you like to hear our charge against the woman?'
persisted Tom.

'Go!' repeated Mr. Herbert, waving his hand indignantly.

'You had better hear it, sir,' said Maida.

'I will hear it from no one but yourself, Maida.'

Again waving his hand, he watched the crest-fallen officials move
slowly down Collins Street, and then, turning to Maida, he looked
steadily at her, and asked an account of her strange disappearance.

The scornful smile had faded from her lip during Mr. Herbert's
interview with the men; her judgment had had time to work, and it
convinced her that wherever blame might rest, it could not on the
clergyman, who had done more than his public duty in going to seek
her, and who would only be doing his public duty were he to arraign
her for infringement of convict discipline.

She felt that he regarded her not as a prisoner who had absconded, and
must be found for the mere purpose of receiving due punishment, but as
a fellow-creature who was in danger, and therefore to be rescued. He
had sought her, not vindictively, but sorrowfully; he was now anxious
to hear her story, not that he might form a case for the police-court,
but to ascertain what had befallen herself. Generally she would prefer
that the negative in each of the foregoing suppositions should be the
case; her haughty spirit would choose rather the chastisement than the
pardon, the anger than the sympathy of most persons. Not so with Mr
Herbert; though her impulsive temper often made her grieve him, and
though the deep-seated sense of injury which burnt within, making her
careless of results and scornful of pity often caused her to reject
his proffered sympathy, and turn coldly from his ministerial
exhortations, yet she revered his earnestness, and her soul paid
secret tribute of admiration to the unflagging zeal that remained
steadfast and self-possessed in spite of opposition.

She sometimes found the thought, 'What will Mr. Herbert say to this?'
exerting a restraining influence on her actions. She would imperiously
shake the thought from her with the inquiry, 'Can my state be bettered
or made worse by anyone's opinion of me?' But, to her infinite
annoyance, the thought would come creeping back, when to fortify
herself against it by turning more coldly from his kindness, and by
increasing her rigidity of demeanour, was her only resource to again
rid herself of it.

The time had not come for the bowing of Maida's soul before the cross
borne so meekly, yet upraised so fearlessly in her sight. Courage, O
man of God! Think not with the Religious Instructor of the transport
that there is no hidden meaning in that compressed lip and haughty
exterior; think not that within that icy surface all is cold and
lifeless as it would have you deem. The troubling of the waters
commences deep within, then upward, upward, till the whole leaps in
trembling vitality beneath the potent touch. There may burst no
response from the forbidding stillness of that spiritual night, but
may it not be that all its powers are rapt in the mighty question,
'Are these things so?' and can find no space or mood to solve thy
lesser importunings?

'Well, Maida,' gently said Mr. Herbert, having waited for a reply,
'can you not confide in me? I am anxious to hear what has happened,
before you meet your master.'

Maida longed to tell him all, in order to ease the disquietude
apparent through the gentle voice and calmly-searching gaze; but poor
Sam--ah, he was friendless!

The lean, pale visage, and the fixed, staring eye of the miserable lad
came before her. She felt she was the more capable of enduring
punishment--or worse than punishment, Mr. Herbert's and Emmeline's
patient disappointment--than Sam of bearing an additional weight of
sentence, stripes, and sorrow.

'Can you trust me, sir?'

'I can and do, Maida; but I hope this trust is not to be instead of an
explanation of that blow disfiguring your brow. You will not keep my
poor child in suspense?'

'Miss Evelyn would not wish to get a poor, wretched, friendless
creature into trouble.'

'You are not friendless, Maida, if you are wretched.'

'I do not speak of myself, sir; I could not tell you what has occurred
without getting a poor lad into trouble. You should know sir, that
chastisements are administered both hastily and indiscriminately on
convicts; though the poor fellow had nothing to do with either my
absence or this blow, he would doubtless be dealt with as a party in
the offence which I should be obliged to report, were I to account for
my absence. Can you trust me with my secret, sir?'

'I repeat I trust you, Maida, and half gladly. To have a struggle
between duty and inclination is a disturbance to a minister, and your
confidence might produce that effect in me; but my brother--your
master--how will he permit your silence? He is strict where he
considers convict discipline has been wilfully infringed.'

'He may send me before a magistrate, but he cannot force me to speak.'

'Maida, I must be plain with you' (Mr. Herbert's voice trembled). 'I
fear my brother will do that. He is determined to take extreme
measures, for he thinks you have deceived him; and how is he to know
to the contrary if you persist in making a mystery of your conduct?
You were sent out at three o'clock in the afternoon, and now it is ten
o'clock at night.'

'Mr. Evelyn does not disbelieve me any more than you do, sir; but he
will not own that he believes me, because he is a proud convict-
holder, and will not condescend to those whom the law places beneath
his feet. He finds in me a spirit as proud as his own, and he delights
in trying to wring a confession from it.'

'Maida! Maida!' cried Mr. Herbert, shaking his head sadly; 'have you
not too much delicacy to speak thus to me of my brother?'

'Delicacy! what delicacy? You mock me, sir. A debased, degraded
convict, who daily adds to her debasement and degradation--what
delicacy should be found in her? Would Government allow it to remain
in her? Would it be fitting, I ask?'

'Most unfitting! therefore, as a debased, degraded convict, I command
you not to speak thus of so kind a master who bears with whims that
others would punish as sins and who never punishes but where
punishment is deserved.'

The stern quiet of his voice struck into Maida's every nerve--she felt
the justice of the rebuke--she wished she had not provoked it--she
wished she could forbear to provoke it further, but she was aroused,
passion quivered in her breast and formed itself into speech almost
against her will.

'Then I am ready to bear my deserved punishment. Let him send me to
court, there my silence shall be as unbroken as before my master; for
not in opposition to any particular person, but because I choose it, I
shut myself to inquiry.'

'Then I must leave you, Maida; I cannot become a party to your
wilfulness. You must go to the punishment I begin to think you
deserve, and on which I am sure Mr. Evelyn will insist, if you appear
before him in your present state.'

'I shall rejoice to go to court and receive the infliction that will
follow. I shall glory in the punishment as another means of
concentrating to one supreme evil the mass of degradation that has
accumulated in me. I yearn for the completion that shall leave me no
possibility of further infamy--when there shall be no more convictions
to stifle--no sharp compunctions to blunt--no more hopes to
disappoint--no feelings to wound--no heart to suffer--no soul to save;
when I am all this, then shall I be what convict law has sought to
make me I then, having borne all, braved all, and become all, its
demands will be satisfied, and it will bid me go in peace to that
place where peace never comes.'

Mr. Herbert shuddered. He remembered that she had worked herself to a
similar frenzy on the occasion of his first visit to her in prison,
and dreaded a similar result; but looking earnestly at her, he
perceived that the pallor of her cheek was the blanching of fierce
excitement, and not of approaching exhaustion.

He purposely delayed his movements, walking slowly, and occasionally
stopping altogether, to give Maida more time to recover her
equanimity, and himself longer opportunity to reflect how to act.

When they reached the Lodge, Mr. Herbert held the knocker as a last
delay before ushering her into his brother's presence; he threw an
inquiring glance; she received it with a quiet smile.

'You need not fear, sir; I can meet my master now.'

'But can you meet the trouble which may ensue; or have you determined
to avert it by satisfying your master?'

'There will be no trouble, sir; my master's displeasure will be all I
shall have to bear.'

She laid a peculiar emphasis on the word all, an emphasis which Mr.
Herbert understood. He knew that while meaner souls would slink away
congratulating themselves that they had escaped so easily 'master's
anger,' their only punishment, her proud spirit would suffer more in
bending itself to conciliate that anger, than in encountering the
active strife of bodily penance; and he believed that had not her will
been stronger than her pride, and her purpose mightier than both, she
would have chosen rather to take on herself the consequences of a
continued resistance, than submit to her master's interrogations,
which she knew would be at once austere and cutting.

'Is your master home?' asked Mr. Herbert eagerly, as Tammy opened the
door.

'No, sir; he came home once with a constable, and then went straight
out again and 's been out ever since.'

'Then make haste to bed, Maida; I will explain to Mr Evelyn to-night;
since we have arrived first he will not expect to see you, and you are
faint and fatigued.'

'I am neither, thank you, sir; I will see the master to-night.'

'No--I wish you to go to bed; I take all responsibility on myself.'

Maida retreated, but with no intention of retiring to rest.

'Won't you catch it! The master's ramping like a great mad bull; he'd
bellow if his rage would let him,' was Maida's salutation from Tammy,
as she entered the kitchen.

And as she spoke a summons was heard on the street door.

The women started, Googe sheered off, and Maida seated herself to
await in silence the event of that knock.

Mr. Herbert issued from his study to meet his brother.

'She is home, George.'

'Did she come, or did you bring her?'

'I brought her.'

'I wish you hadn't then! I'm tired of the pranks of that woman;
punished she must be, and I'd rather she had got it from others than
from me. I detest appearing against the poor wretches. I must send her
though; she's riding it a trifle too high, and wants a little
reminder.'

He pulled the bell violently: all the household knew the meaning of
that bell, and winks, with shrugs of shoulders, conveyed unutterable
telegrams from one convict to another, when Maida herself arose to go
and answer the summons.

'Send her up,' said Mr. Evelyn, as the door opened.

'I am here, sir.'

'Shut the door and listen to me. Do you remember I warned you that it
would be your own fault if ever you heard more of what I told you when
I hired you from the Anson? When standing just as you are standing now
you promised obedience to my commands.'

'Perfectly, sir.'

'Now, don't answer in that manner, it is treating me with a disrespect
I will no longer bear; for my forbearance harms you without benefiting
me. You have deceived me, Maida, and I now mean to show you how I deal
with those who abuse my leniency, and with what power convict law
invests the master and controls the servant. I was unwilling to exert
that power; you have defied it, and now you shall feel it; though
still unwilling, I consider it my duty to exert it.'

Not a muscle of Maida's face moved.

'Two hours ago I should not have been unwilling, for I was irritated
at your abuse of my confidence. Had you then come back, I should have
handed you over to Government without hesitation, and without
compunction. I am glad you did not, for my sake as well as for your
own.'

Still not a muscle moved.

'What have you to say for yourself? how do you account for this freak?
speak, Gwynnham--speak--'

'I have nothing to say, sir.'

'No nonsense, and no lies, Maida. Convicts don't run risks for
nothing. I won't be made a fool of. If you can't give an explanation
to me, you shall to the police magistrate.'

The large eyes that had till now been fixed calmly on his face sent a
hasty glance to Mr. Herbert, and then dropped to the floor.

Mr. Herbert lounged on the sofa, hiding, in a careless posture, the
anxiety he felt for the issue of the conference. From between the
fingers that were pressed to his forehead, he was intently watching
the struggle. He dreaded punishment for Maida. It might undo all that
he hoped was working in her. It might ruin her, body and soul. He
perceived that his brother inclined to clemency, now his first rush of
anger and vexation had subsided; but if Maida should become impetuous,
how might not her impulse hurry her to provoke her own destruction I
With what thankfulness, therefore, did he see the large eyes again
raised calmly, and hear her say, in-a submissive voice:

'Will you spare me, sir, and hear from Mr. Herbert all I dare tell by
way of accounting for my strange behaviour?'

Mr. Evelyn turned to his brother with a look that said:

'Well?'

'May Maida leave the room, then, George?'

'No, I am sick of such humbug. I am not going to be so tender over
her. Anything that is not too bad for her to do, is not too bad for
her to hear. She's got into trouble, I suppose, and now's ashamed of
it.'

'She is so far in trouble that she cannot account for herself, without
involving a poor creature, who is not guilty.'

'Lucy, I suppose, who abetted her attempt to escape. I must forbid her
the house.'

'No, sir, Lucy had no part in it.'

Maida was really alarmed, and spoke quickly and warmly:

'What Mr Herbert says is true, sir. If needs be, I'll bear any
punishment, but cannot bring trouble on a poor friendless lad.'

'Your punishment will involve no one,' said Mr. Evelyn drily.

'Then I am willing to receive it, sir.'

'No humbug, young woman! You are not more willing than I.'

'As a favour to me, George, if even you do not forbear to punish her,
will you forbear to question her?'

'Supposing I oblige Mr. Herbert, Maida, by ceasing to inquire how you
occupied yourself during your absence you have still the absence
itself to be charged with. Are you aware of the heavy punishment
incurred by an absconder?'

'The punishment is great, but I had no intention of absconding.'

'A fair excuse, since your intention of not being found is frustrated!
How will such pleasantry influence the magistrate? Out here we do not
punish for intentions so much as for acts. Your intention might have
been laudable, but since your act did not agree with it, we must give
you a hint to let it do so for the future.'

'Your hint will be more easily given than understood, sir.'

'Go to bed now; you shall hear more to-morrow. I wish no uproar to-
night.'

'There will be no uproar to-night, sir, beyond that which, I hear, has
been already.'

'Go! do not add insolence to your obstinacy.'

It was a fortunate dismissal. On both sides the elements were
gathering for an outbreak.

'Strange, strange mortal!' exclaimed Mr. Evelyn, as the door closed
upon her. 'There's no working her into a bona fide convict, try what
you will. The deuce has hold of her, unless something much better has.
She is either a masterpiece of conscienceless deceit--or--'

'She is a mystery, George, that neither you nor I can fathom.'

'Hang your mysteries, Herbert! they are plaguy hard to handle.'

'You will not give her in charge, then?'

'Not this time; but I think I shall send her to Brickfields just to
frighten her. She must be taught submission before she gets other
masters, or she'll never get her ticket--never be out of trouble.'

'If it be only for my Emmeline's sake, let me implore you not to send
her away to the depot. Em will quite fret to lose her, and the poor
woman herself could never obtain so good a situation. As you say,
endless miseries would ensue.'

'Oh, Wilson would reserve her. I'd let him into the secret. Em shan't
lose her; and as to the woman herself, I only wish to--'

Mr. Herbert shook his head, and Mr. Evelyn asked:

'Well, what would you do? I own I'm puzzled by her. During all the ten
years I tried my hand at reforming prisoners, I never had such a
difficult bargain I Cases handed over to me as desperate have become
manageable if not reformed. I abhor the Government system of heaping
punishment on punishment, and sentence on sentence, and have always
resisted it as a hardening, debasing process; but a little well-timed
severity, or judicious correction, I found beneficial in showing my
convicts what they had to gain by reminding them what they had lost.'

'I quite agree with you, both as to the brutalising effect of
incessant coercion, and the impossibility of wholly foregoing
stringent measures in convict treatment; but I doubt George, whether
in Maida's case of to-night judicial severity would be well timed, or
correction judicious.'

'Your grounds of doubt?'

'Another doubt--namely, that severity is merited, or correction
deserved.'

'Humph! Then you believe that her attempt to escape was not
premeditated, but only induced by sudden temptation?'

'I believe that no attempt to escape has been made.'

'Does she deny the attempt? If so, I'm inclined to believe her.
Somehow I cannot think she lies, though--'

'She neither denies nor asserts anything; she merely begs that her
conduct may be punished or passed over without a confession.'

'Yes, but she begs after the fashion of a highwayman--"Give, or I'll
take!"'

'Her spirit has not been trained by gentle influences. If I mistake
not, it has been tortured into unnatural developments, and being of a
temper too lofty to sink in mean submission, and too courageous to be
trampled upon, it has sprung from its tormentors, and now defies with
haughty scorn the fate it cannot vanquish, and makes a proud triumph
of bearing that beneath which others would droop despondingly, or
yield servilely. The effect of God's affliction is to subdue, not to
crush; to break to meek contrition, not to drive to desperation. But
man can rarely take punishment from his fellow-man, and not be
hardened by it for man lays down one code of vengeance, and abides by
it, irrespective of character, and unheedful of results. Man's
judgments too often inculcate unrighteousness, because erring in
themselves. God's judgments teach righteousness, because founded on
righteousness; He knows the frame ere He deals the blow. The leprosy
of Miriam is not as the leprosy of Gehazi.'

'True, Herbert, true. Maida shall have the benefit of our doubt. I had
her good alone in view in desiring to chastise her, and that I only
meant to do by a good frightening. On my honour, though, I think we
should try to prepare her for the exigencies of convict life. She does
well with you and me, but any day she may change owners; then what
would become of the poor thing? Who would brook her haughty manner and
imperious replies? So soon as one sentence expired, she would get new
trouble for insolence and refractoriness.'

'But if we patiently and prayerfully continue our work of forbearance
with her, may not she gradually acquire the power of self-restraint,
so necessary to her as a prisoner?'

'Ah, it's very fine for you to preach! It is your profession, and easy
for you to practise, for you can control yourself.'

'It was not always easy, George; once my will controlled me, and not I
my will.'

'I hope it will be once upon a time with me too, one day. I know your
prayers drive that way; you can't wish it more than I do. But I
suppose Miss Em would tell me "Idle wishes catch no fishes," eh,
Herbert?'

But Mr. Herbert had left the room.

'Herbert,' called his brother, following him into his study, 'Maida is
not in bed, I hear. I shall just have her down, and give her a
caution, and so let the absconding mystery drop. She must have a touch
or two on the subject of her supercilious speeches. 'Twon't do to let
her off scot free.'

'Will you reprove the speeches of one that is desperate--which are as
wind?' said Mr. Herbert, pointing to the twenty-sixth verse of the
sixth chapter of Job.

'Bother it! you've always Scripture ready to defeat me.'

Uncle Ev swung round on his foot, and out of the room. He did not
disturb Maida that night, or rather morning, for it was on the stroke
of one o'clock; and when Maida should have appeared to receive her
master's decision it was found that she was too ill to leave her bed.
The chill night air had entered her prostrate frame, as she lay
unconscious on the earth, and the heavy dews had moistened her limbs,
to stiffen them into the poignant cramps of rheumatic fever.



CHAPTER XXIV. H.M.GENERAL HOSPITAL, HOBART TOWN.


DEAR no! Mrs. Evelyn cannot think of allowing Maida to be invalided in
her house; the mere mention of so ridiculous an impossibility calls
forth the habitual little short laugh.

'Fever, too! dear, dear! how very amusing George can be when he likes,
or rather, when the girls put him up to such nonsense! Really, though,
illness is too serious a matter to make fun of--it might come upon one
of us at any time--George should know better.'

And that George does not know better Mrs. Evelyn soon discovers in
looking at his forehead. His face is grave as grave can be, on
perceiving which she puts the question to him as a man of sober sense.
Is it reasonable, or does Government expect holders to be bothered
with sick convicts when there is an hospital expressly for their
reception? This she will do if Mr. Evelyn likes--she will lend the
blankets in which Maida has already slept (no others, on any account!)
to wrap her from the air during the removal from the house, but even
this she can only do on condition that he will faithfully promise to
deliver them to a laundress on his way back, to have the infection
washed out of them. She is sure that this is all that can be expected
from her; why, even English masters and mistresses send away their
servants when they are ill. Mr. Evelyn suggests that the poorest
servant in England has her friends to go to, but the convict in
sickness is desolate and friendless. To 6x back to Government is the
only resource of the unfortunate sufferer, and he considers that the
objection to this resource is one entitled to respect and not to
censure.

However, Mr. Evelyn does not insist that Maida shall stay; he thinks
it is only right his wife's wishes should be consulted, as she would
have the chief responsibility and trouble; at the same time he says he
shall be very glad if she will consent to let the poor thing be laid
up in the house.

Mrs. Evelyn dearly loves to please her husband, but really the present
mode of pleasing him is so odd an one, that she cannot bring herself
to adopt it. If the complaint were anything else, now, she might not
mind so much; but rheumatic fever is so painful and disagreeable, she
must have Maida taken away--and that at once.

Bridget thinks her aunt's reasons go exactly by contraries; to her,
the very painfulness and disagreeableness of the disorder are reasons
why Maida should not be sent among strangers. However, she holds her
peace, having learnt by experience that Mrs. Evelyn's view of convicts
will never be altered by means short of a new pair of mental eyes.

So Sanders's cab is fetched, and when it stops at the Lodge, and he is
informed who is his passenger and whither bound, he declares:

'Lucy'll be darned sorry for to hear of it--most as sorry as I be.'

Followed by many kind wishes, the cab drives slowly down Macquarie
Street, Sanders hardly daring to touch the reins, for fear 'the horse
should jerk Madda, seeing he wasn't brought up to carrying of people
to the hospital.' Turning into Liverpool Street, the handsome frontage
of the hospital appears in sight, and relieves Sanders of a load of
anxiety, which has oppressed his countenance as well as his heart; so
much so, that had he been mounted on a hearse, he could not have
looked more dolefully apprehensive of misbehaviour on the part of his
horse.

The porter issues from the tall iron gates.

'All right!' says Sanders, preparing to drive past the man.

'But all is not right,' chooses to think the porter; he is not going
to be so easily baulked of gratifying his curiosity, which, under the
name of official inspection, he always pampers, to the annoyance of
visitors.

Popping his head into the window, he quickly pops it back again; a nod
from Mr. Evelyn has settled the difficulty. Without venturing a word
he touches his hat, unlocks the gate, and admits Sanders, who has
dismounted in order to lead the vehicle through the garden. The
building before which he stops is the Female Hospital, the entry door
of which stands open, displaying a broad staircase. From some
invisible corner the matron comes forward, and is quickly surrounded
by a bevy of brown-gowned, white-capped women, who have issued from
equally invisible sources.

Orders are given to take Maida Gwynnham to ward No. 4, and put her
into bed No. 10. Whereupon two women dive into the heap of blankets
lying within the cab, but they can only draw groans from the heap.

Mr. Evelyn thinks he can manage to lift out Maida, if he may be
permitted to carry her upstairs. The matron smiles assent, and Mr.
Evelyn leans into the cab, and speaking in a kinder voice than many
would suppose him able to produce, he says:

'If you can only get your arm round my neck, Maida, I'll carry you to
your bed.'

Maida makes the effort, and her master raises her gently and bears her
steadily to No. 4, then, whispering words that bring a faint smile of
recognition to her lips, he bids her farewell; but ere he quits the
ward he looks about him, and asks:

'Who is nurse here?'

A grizzly haired, middle-aged female curtseys 'I am.'

Her disappointment is extreme when Mr. Evelyn merely says:

'Then remember that patient is my servant.'

'The poor creature shall be well minded, sir,' she answers stowing
away her disappointment where she hopes it will not be observed.

Mr. Evelyn knows there is no necessity to recommend Maida to the
matron's special care, the kindness of that worthy woman being well
known in the colony, and ever warmly attested by all who, in the
misfortune of illness, have had the good fortune to find themselves
under Mrs. Cott's protection.

The house surgeon visited Maida shortly after Mr. Evelyn's departure.
He questioned her, and made notes of her answers; then, giving the
nurse sundry directions, he left the ward. In the course of the
afternoon a mysterious personage entered, and marching straight to
Maida's bed, stuck into the wall above her head a ticket about three
inches square; then conning it through in mysterious silence, and
nodding a mysterious nod, he marched straight out again, turning
neither to the right hand nor to the left.

As soon as he was gone, the nurse stepped over to read the ticket, and
having read it she gave a dissatisfied grunt. From that moment, or
rather from the combined moments of the fixing of the ticket and the
grunting of the grunt, Maida became a part of the establishment.
Several of the convalescent patients tottered across the room to
elicit what small subject-matter of gossip the square white card might
afford them; then, gathering round the fire, they began to discuss the
probabilities of the new-comer's career, in a suppressed humdrum
voice, which irritated her nerves far more than a reasonable amount of
sound would have annoyed her head.

It is known to all how unexplained trifles worry an invalid, even one
who in health may be the last to be affected by extraordinary
occurrences. Maida, though distracted by the racking pains in her
limbs, felt a sensation of terror overcoming her as one by one the
women crept over to her bed, read, and crept back again. She had just
enough consciousness to suppose that the attracting object was similar
to that which drew her attention to the heads of all the other
stretchers in the room; but then, 'What is written on the square
marks?' she asked, and 'What can mine be about?' Her thoughts
perplexed her and her pains tortured her, until, being unable to bear
both perplexity and torture, she tried to raise herself to find out
what Government could possibly have to say about her in connection
with the hospital, but the attempt failed, and with a scream she sank
on her pillow.

'Nurse, do tell me what's on the ticket,' she murmured, when, in
answer to the scream, the nurse approached, and, as though anodyne
issued from her fingers' ends, gave several small pats to the
bedclothes, smoothing away wrinkles that only existed in her own
brain.

'Tell 'e what?'

Maida repeated her wish.

'Trumpery!' and the nurse turned away.

Maida groaned. The square white cards seemed to enter into her as a
part of her sufferings; her head ached in trying to explain the
mystery; the cards grew larger and shrunk smaller as her bewildered
senses watched those which were exactly opposite; and then, for a
moment wandering altogether, she connected them with the ticket-of-
leave of which she had heard so much, and stretching her hand to
receive it, a sharp pain restored her to consciousness, when with
feverish impatience her mind again set in to work out the problem of
the card.

'Nurse, I shan't sleep to-night if you don't tell me what it is,' she
at last said.

'Curse the ticket! you won't a-get any sleep otherwise, don't 'e
flatter yerself.'

'I say, you might as well tell her, nurse; it's mortal bad to be
mazing over anything when a body's sick,' interposed a patient.

'Bad or good, I won't have her told! she shall learn that I'm missus
here, as much as somebody else was coming out in the Rose of Britain.'

And the nurse clenched her fist, but whether at Maida or at an
unpleasant recollection of her own, is a question open to dispute.

From the submissive air with which the pleader dropped her cause and
herself into a chair, it was evident that the nurse was correct, and
that whoever was mistress elsewhere she was mistress there--in ward
No. 4 of her Majesty's hospital.

Twilight dimmed the room and all within it into indistinctness, but
with painful clearness the cards still loomed on Maida's distorted
vision. They appeared to have drawn so close to her that she thought
she had only to put forth her hand to grasp one, but the inability to
put it forth was equal to the cards being at a distance.

There was now a general movement among the women: each went to her
stretcher, and, sitting at its foot, prepared to take her place for
the night; the last lingerer had just wrapped herself in the
bedclothes, when the matron's kind but careworn face shone in amongst
them to take her third official survey of her family, as she called
the patients.

The nurse went round with her, showering expressions of pity as she
went--pity which she hastily scoured off the patients' minds the
instant Mrs. Cott was out of healing. Stopping in turn at Maida, she
raised her hands.

'Lor' 'a mercy! this new poor creature suffers dreadful--and so
demented too--she keeps on about her ticket.'

'Ah! poor thing.' And kind-hearted Mrs. Cott bent down and consoled
her, thinking it most natural that a prisoner should be anxious for
her ticket-of-leave. 'Don't you fret now; this all goes in your
sentence; you are not losing time; so cheer up, there's a good girl.
You'll soon be better.'

'Do tell me what it means?'

'Poor soul! I'll tell you all about it to-morrow,' replied the matron,
passing to the next number.

Maida closed her eyes with an audible groan. All about her were
equally cruel.

When Mrs. Cott and nurse were at the farthest end of the ward, the
woman who had before pleaded leaned out of her stretcher--which
happened to be next to Maida's--and whispered:

'Don't you fret; the ticket's nothing; it's only to say who you are.'

The nurse stepped outside with Mrs. Cott, and the woman, whom we shall
call Baker, hastily snatched the card from its frame and showed it to
Maida.

'Here, quick; this is all; I'll read it to you: "Maida Gwynnham, alias
Martha Grylls, passholder 24; Rose of Britain; Protestant."'

'Is that all?'

'Yes, except a Lattern word, which means what's the matter with you;
that's all, on my word. Nothing about your ticket, you see; you won't
have that till you're half done.'

'I don't care about my ticket,' groaned Maida, almost fretfully. 'Are
you sure my crimes are not written there?'

'Bless me, no! more like your doctor's stuff would be down. What's
your crimes to do with what you'll have here?'

Maida's mind again wandered in a confusion of past, present, and
future. In a dreamy tone she whispered:

'Norwell isn't mentioned, is he?'

'Nor--what? No; nothing's there, I tell you. That Lattern word, I'll
spell it out for you to-morrow; but I know it don't mean more than
what I say; it's the doctor's way of writing your sickness--
rheumatics, I take it to be. She's coming, quick, down!'

But the caution was needless Maida being already as prostrate as pain
and fever could lay her. Baker had barely time to slip the card back
into its groove, ere, Argus-eyed and suspicious, nurse walked about
the ward, pulling at a large excrescence which disfigured her nether
lip; searching meanwhile from stretcher to stretcher for traces of the
treason that she doubted not had discovered itself during her
momentary absence; until resting on No. 10, her eye seemed unwilling
to search beyond. She stood still, and lapsed into a profound
contemplation--alternately darting emphatic malignity at the new
patient, and tugging energetically at the superfluous flesh, which
always suffered more or less in proportion to the amount of suggestive
aid required to mark out her plans.

But for this unsightly excrescence, Maida would probably have
recognised in the nurse of ward No. 4 of her Majesty's general
hospital her former enemy, the ex-lunatic of the transport. The
alteration in her dress, too, may have served to obscure her identity.
The shock of grizzled hair no longer stood erect from her head, but
lay in heavy masses on her gaunt cheek-bones, which seemed to protrude
for the express purpose of supporting the burden imposed upon them. A
convict in the midst of convicts, she alone was exempt from the prison
badge. Grizzled and gaunt, therefore, as she was, she became the
cynosure of the sick world within the dreary precinct over which she
ruled. If her movements were not worshipped, they were watched by two
distinct classes incarcerated within those walls: the admiring, or
prisoners who had never yet been out of Government; and the aggrieved,
or prisoners who, in accepting the advantages of the house, had been
obliged to resume the abominated serge--an obligation which deterred
many of the better disposed from availing themselves of medical
treatment, as afforded in her Majesty's hospital, until the latest
moment, when, perhaps, the symptoms of their malady had seriously
developed, or had progressed above the power of professional skill. A
cap of white net, with generous border, and a print gown, was the
dress that at once distinguished nurse from her bond-sisters, and
invested her with a superiority beyond the imaginings of a 'free'
mind. The eyes that noted the changes of her cap from blue to pink,
from pink to orange, were eyes long weary of the perpetual brown--eyes
that had little to divert the sameness of their occupation. Sweet and
fresh came in the air through the open casement; but the sweetness
made yet more ardent their longings for green fields and flowers, to a
sight of which the tallest of their community could not aspire, for
hopelessly beyond the reach of all the prisoners were the windows that
admitted the tantalizing message from the outer world.

Visiting-days, that generally bring pleasant variety to the tenants of
an hospital, here were rarely guilty of such kindness. Visiting-
Thursday came: the utmost hope it raised was that a mate might look
in, or an unusually indulgent mistress, who had expressed a wish to
have her servant reserved for her, might drop in to know how much
longer she would have to wait. Visiting-Thursday passed: the only
disappointment it left was that such a mate or such a mistress had not
come. Had the mate appeared, ten chances to one that she had been too
drunk to speak, or that her visit had been delivered in haste, it
being only one of necessity, the fag end of an outing which she had
extorted from the master under pretext of a visit 'to poor so and so a
lying sick down there.' Here looks in vain the pining mother--no
daughter, with tearful affection, appears to soothe her dying pillow.
Never comes the sister to whisper words of love and comfort to her
sister drooping on a bed of pain and death. Weary is the little child
of watching for the kind, tender smile that erewhile made it forget
its sorrow. It watches and wastes, but never more draws nigh the step
it strives to hear; it wastes and wastes, and soon it is missed from
its little stretcher.

Here, in solitude, frets the old man. He knows he is wished dead by
the nurse, who throws her services at him as you would throw a bone to
appease a troublesome dog. He dotes, and calls upon his daughter, but
she answers not; he reproaches her, but his reproaches do not move
her; all he gets for them is a sharp rebuke from the nurse's hard,
dried lips; so he sinks into puling silence; and when the last breath
sets him free, the only announcement is to Government, which gladly
numbers one less to the living stock within its pale, and to the
chaplain of the house, who unless he be a Mr. Herbert Evelyn, grumbles
that the old man did not apprise him of his intention to die, that he
(the chaplain) might have arranged for his burial at a more convenient
hour.

As we progress, we shall discover that nurse is wrapped about with
attractions more potent than the net and print, whose changes have so
great an interest for captive eyes. Grim as is her smile, we shall
find that it has a peculiar value; while her frown, independent of
that which is natural to so fierce a contortion, has a terror of its
own--a distinct, substantial terror. By rule of the old adage, the
intrinsic value of her smile is easily estimated; but her frown! who
dares to calculate the amount of evil consequences condensed therein?
Woe to the unfortunate who has the experimental computing thereof! woe
to the ward and the inhabitants thereof! When a cloud gathers on
nurse's brow, it is as if a thunderbolt threatened the whole
community. None know where the storm may burst, or where the shock
will be most keenly felt, but all know that none can escape; the flood
of vengeance sweeps along, scathing all, destroying some.

The rod of office becomes a snake within her hand--a snake whose
malice all must feel, whose subtilty all must dread, and whose
fascination none can withstand.

When nurse stood, as we have seen her, contemplating the new victim
that had come beneath her snake, how writhed that reptile within her
grasp, eager at once to dart upon its prey! Its instinctive craft
alone kept it back. How gloated its malignant eye on the prospect of
malice lying with Maida on the bed!

But Maida was unconscious of its gloating eye. During the fortnight of
pain which succeeded her admission, when sufficiently herself to
connect cause and effect, she attributed the extreme discomfort she
experienced wholly to her illness, which she knew to be one of the
most distressing disorders. She suspected not the cruelty which, by
every device, was heightening the tortures of acute rheumatism. When
she implored to have her bed smoothed under her, because every crease
gave her pain, nurse hastened to her help; but Maida knew not that her
haste was the result of malice, glad of another opportunity to vent
its spleen. And when, in the fretfulness of fever, she still
complained that she was not more comfortable, nurse told her that the
cause was in her own poor racked limbs, and not in the bed; and Maida
believed her, not perceiving, though sharply feeling, the reason in a
large, thick leather, dried into uneven folds which had been slipped
in between the under sheet and blanket, for the fiendish purpose of
turning her discomfort into positive suffering.

When the fever abated, and the pains gradually subsided, Maida began
to look about her. Lying weak and silent, she made quiet observation
of all that took place around. Then was it that she first beheld nurse
with an interest, in which some past, though unremembered incident,
bore a part. She felt sure the grizzled hair, the dusky brow, and
uneven eyes, were not strange to her; but the excrescence puzzled her.
She had never known anyone with a lip like that. How could she,
therefore, have seen nurse before?--the fancy must be a freak. Quieted
by this conclusion, she tried to forget the being who, without a
definite reason, had become obnoxious to her. But nurse would not be
forgotten. Her prim figure, like an evil genius, was ever on the dead
march before her, and ever with it came back the thought to Maida that
the face should be familiar, notwithstanding the conclusion,
notwithstanding the lip.

'Nurse, surely I have seen you before; can you tell me where?' she
asked one day, after a long endeavour to reconcile the excrescence
with the face.

'The devil may care! All I know is, we've met once too often. Where I
shall meet you again, I'm pretty sure of,' replied the nurse, getting
uneasy under the perpetual watch of Maida's eye, fearing what it might
discover if its vigilance were not checked. The women only knew her as
Anne Watts--her colonial alias--and could not, therefore, assist in
the search for her identity with the vague some one of Maida's
recollection. But Lucy Sanders, who came to see her friend on a
visiting-Thursday, at once cleared up the doubt by exclaiming, the
instant she saw the nurse, 'Lor! Maida, if that isn't she that 'most
killed me coming out.'

A quick glance of recognition took place, and Maida wondered how she
had failed to recall the ex-lunatic in the barbarous features now
grinning before her.

The first time Maida was permitted to leave her bed, she became an
object of general attraction. Prison clothes dared to rival the free
habiliments that had hitherto borne off all regard; and yet Maida felt
friendless and desolate. She experienced that worst form of
desolation--spiritual loneliness. She was surrounded by human beings;
sisters in flesh and blood were very kind in inquiring how she felt
after her exertion, but she was lonely amidst them, for not one heart
in all those twenty forms beat sympathy with hers. Weakened by her
long illness, and exhausted by so unusual an effort, despite her self-
control, a tear worked its way to her eye. Turning to brush it off,
she observed a pair of large, lustrous eyes gazing intently at her
from the end of the ward. The stretcher from which these eyes looked
up was on the same side as her own, therefore she had never before
been able to obtain a clear view of the woman who went by the name of
No. 1, and whose tearing cough and laboured breathing had excited her
tender pity. The lustrous eyes were evidently trying to convey a
message to her, and when Maida sent back a smile in answer to their
silent appeal, they closed, as if satisfied with the present result of
the interview, and No. 1 leant back on the pillows which propped her.
The card above her head, in the one brief word 'phthisis,' told the
story of her suffering; and what that story is, they best may know who
have marked the slow fading of their dear one beneath consumption's
sure decay. It was the doctor's name for her disease, but Maida, from
her distant seat, could not read it; therefore she asked a neighbour
what was the matter with No. 1, and received the laconic answer,
'Frettin'.'

A word as short as that on the card; but how descriptive in its
brevity! how much it told of heart suffering and pain--of hopeless
longing and craving for affection--they best may know who have heard
the sighing of the prisoner, and watched the slow breaking of an
anguished heart.

Seeing Maida's compassionate look, her informant continued--'No. 4,
Crazy Sal, there, is another frettin' case in one way or another, most
of them that's brought in here is Fretters, unless they's scheming.'

Maida had often been disturbed by Crazy Sal's wild cry which was so
like the bray of a donkey, that, during her delirium, nothing could
persuade her that one of those animals was not in the room; but being
in a line with her also; she had never fully seen the poor creature,
who now presented at once a pitiable and unsightly object. From the
absence of hair, which had been closely shorn, every part of the road,
distended face was exposed to view, the thick frilled night-cap only
half covered her head, and completed the deformity, by showing to what
extent it had enlarged.

As Maida turned towards her, Sally, with a horrible distortion of
countenance, raised her upper lip over her large teeth and sent forth
a series of brays. Maida shuddered, and asked if that cry was caused
by pain. Her neighbour said she believed 'it was not; it was a noise
somehow she had taken to make whenever nurse went near her--perhaps
because she wanted something "out" of her, or perhaps because dressing
of the wounds hurted her--but whichever 'tis,' she added, 'we shan't
be bored with her no longer, for she's going to be removed to a closet
handy, so that she may be nigh nurse, and yet out of the way of
teasing us.'

Maida was soon able to get up a little every day. The first time she
could walk across the room she went over and sat by Wilcox, for the
gaze of whose lustrous eyes she now regularly looked directly she
stepped out of bed. A secret understanding had sprung up between these
two captive sisters. Maida longed for the moment when she should hear
from Wilcox's lips the message that her eyes had long since delivered.
But not more than Wilcox longed for the opportunity of speaking to one
whom she could not but believe God's kind providence had sent to
relieve her of the remediable portion of her sufferings. She felt sure
that she should find in No. 10 a friend who would make the last few
days of her life as easy as they might be made, by protecting her from
the cruelties of the nurse; and she prayed God that her days might
close before Maida's discharge again left her friendless, to what she
was sure would be the redoubled malice of her enemy. She had been a
silent observer of all that had taken place, and bad determined, when
Maida's convalescence permitted, to appeal to her on behalf of Crazy
Sal and herself. She was certain the kind and fearless voice which had
so often spoken cheering words to an unknown individual in the
stillness of the night was one that would assert the right of a
helpless idiot and dying fellow-creature.

How fervent, was the grasp with which she caught hold of Maida's hand
before she had come quite close to her stretcher! How grateful became
the lustrous eyes as, fatigued with her journey across the ward, Maida
dropped into her seat--the edge of No. 1's bed!

'Are you only twenty-two, Wilcox?' asked the latter in surprise, as
she read the card over her head.

'Barely that. Sickness has made me look old; sorrow, older.'

Maida pressed the hand lying within hers.

'But I deserve it all!' she added slowly; 'all, all--yes--an a great
deal more.'

This was something new to Maida, so accustomed to hear convicts rail
against their punishment, and term their crime the error for which
they were sent out.

'You speak after my own heart, Wilcox. I like to hear of just
punishment--its justice is so generally disclaimed.'

There was a bitterness of tone with great seriousness of manner in
this speech. The latter only was obvious to Wilcox.

'The thought of what you may have suffered, and may still suffer,'
continued Maida, 'makes me quite ill; and you know,' she added half
smilingly, 'nurse will make out I want some more of that nauseous
stuff if I look flushed or tired. Do tell me in what way she has it in
her power to annoy you.'

Had Wilcox been in a smiling mood, the word annoy would have drawn a
smile from her; but as she was far too anxious to think of anything
but nurse, she raised herself and looked around. No one was nigh; the
convalescents were grouped around the fire; the bed next her was empty
and the oppressor had gone into the next ward.

Lowering her voice, she replied:

'She has ways that you would never dream of, and such natural things
that if the doctor or Mrs. Cott find them out they only think it's all
right. One thing, though, isn't so but that has never been found out.
When I've offended her very much, when all the others are asleep, she
creeps over and shakes me--shakes me till I'm 'most dead--and then the
cough comes on, and doesn't stop for the night. I dread this shaking
most of all, for it terrifies me so; and then next morning the doctors
come, and she says I've had a shocking night; hadn't I better have
another blister? And they say yes--and oh, my chest is most eaten away
already, yet she gets me another whenever she's angry.'

'Wretch!' stamped Maida; 'where is she?'

But Wilcox's imploring face stopped her.

'And pray what have you done to merit all this at her hand?' asked
Maida, in a haughty tone, forgetful in her anger to distinguish
between the offenders and the offended.

'When first I came I resisted some of her wicked ways. She offered to
burn the blister that was ordered for me if I'd give her my glass of
wine, but of course I wouldn't; 'twas then she began, and ever since
it's been dreadful.'

'I suppose she knew me too well to attempt such tricks, but I have
suspected some foul play of the sort with some of the patients.'

'Oh, she carries on a regular trade; hall the physic is thrown out;
those who are not fond of drink gladly exchange their wine or beer for
leave to throw away their medicine or escape a blister. Those that
don't yield she pays out by telling the doctor that they require
something or other that they dislike. Oh, Maida! I feel very down
sometimes when I think that I ought to do my best to stop these
things. Satan puts it into my mind that I can't love my Saviour
because I don't--but--'

'God knows what would ensue, and does not expect it of you, I should
think. Is there not a text that says, "He knoweth our frames"?'
interrupted Maida.

'Ah, yes; thank you for remembering it. Now do go, and mind--mind not
to speak of what I have told you; I've made up my mind to bear it--it
can't be for long.'

'And it shan't either!' Maida answered indignantly. 'However, you may
trust me,' and her voice and countenance softened.

Wilcox smiled; then, very fatigued, Maida tottered back to her chair
just as the rattle of panikins announced tea.

One morning, shortly after her visit to Wilcox, as Maida lay waiting
for her summons to get up, which was now always given at ten o'clock,
she fancied she heard a stifled sob proceed from No. 1, over whom
nurse was leaning to dress her blister. She sat up and listened;
another muffled sob. Without a word she slid out of her stretcher and
crossed the ward; she stood behind nurse, and saw Wilcox lying (so
that she could only look at the ceiling) with a handkerchief stuffed
in her mouth. Her chest was bared, and on it there was the sore of the
blister from which the skin had been taken clearly off, the raw,
irritated flesh beneath was laid open and raised in uneven lumps.
Nurse was strewing salt over the fresh wound, and as the salt fell she
asked in a whining voice:

'Does it hurt you, my dear? It's only the flour I'm putting over it
just to suck up the water 'fore I put on the plaister.'

Another sob was the only answer.

At the same instant Wilcox felt the handkerchief drawn out of her
mouth, and nurse felt herself dragged backward.

'Coward! Wretch! Tyrant! You shall leave this place!'

The nurse was bewildered for a moment, and then bristling up, she
asked:

'And pray what's all this about? Go back to your place you bad woman!
Fine for a rheumatic patient to be out without socks or shoes!'

'Finish dressing that poor creature's blister; then you shall know
what it is about. How will you get off that salt you've rubbed into
her?' haughtily demanded Maida.

'Salt? You barbarous hussy! Don't 'e, for love's sake, talk in one
breath of salt, and that poor mortal's sore flesh--it's enough to make
one's heart leap out.'

'How will you get it off?' sternly demanded Maida, at the same time
raising Wilcox on her pillow.

'What the deuce does she mean?' wondered nurse, looking from one to
the other of the women, who, in the different stages of dressed,
partly dressed, and not dressed at all, had gathered round the
disputants.

'Very like she mistook the flour for salt,' suggested one.

'To be sure. Fool I was for not guessing that!'

Then, turning to Maida:

'If 'twern't that that thought was enough to riz your bile, I'd make
you beg pardon for your insolence; but I'll look it over--only mind
your own business for the future. People that meddles is always in the
wrong. Salt! Me--I can't get over it!'

'Was it salt or flour, Wilcox?' asked Maida imperturbably.

'I only felt something cold falling. The sore always smarts, so I
can't tell.'

'Here, woman, if you ain't satisfied, look for yourself; what's this?'

Without doubt it was flour that nurse displayed in her hand; she
passed it round for the inspection of the crowd, who not only touched
it, but tasted it. The verdict was unanimously given for nurse.

'Then I beg your pardon, nurse. I withdraw my accusation; but
certainly my eyes never more deceived me,' said Maida.

'Well, now, just to show I'm not affronted, here's my hand.'

But Maida refused it, saying:

'Thank you, I have not done yet.' (To the women:) 'You had better go
and dress; the doctors will be here before we are ready.'

Her voice was that of command, and all, except nurse's allies, turned
to obey her. She then demanded what explanation could be given of the
handkerchief.

'Bless us! what's the woman after? What handkerchief d'ye mean?'

'I put it in my mouth, Maida,' muttered Wilcox, faint with terror.

'Did you, poor darling?' replied Maida.

'No patience with such cant! Fine pity yours is, keeping of a dying
creature, 'most naked, in the cold! Here, my dear, let me finish you;
you are starved, ain't you?'

Wilcox shuddered when operations recommenced, but this time without
cause; for almost tenderly did nurse complete her task, for some
reason or other substituting a piece of fine carded cotton for the
sperm-plaister. Though nonplussed, Maida was by no means convinced,
and she determined to say something to the doctors which should make
them ask to see the sore.

When they appeared, to her delight, Dr. Lamb was among them. He was a
general favourite with the women. If any favour had to be sought, it
was always reserved for Dr. Lamb's day.

She seated herself by Wilcox, so as to create less surprise by the
remark she had prepared.

No. 1 was soon surrounded by four of the fraternity, and four pupils.

'How d'ye feel, my woman?' asked Dr. Lamb kindly.

'I had a very bad night, sir.'

'Can you account for it in any way?'

'She'd a blister last night, sir,' chimed in nurse, who, most catlike,
watched Maida.

'This blistering seems everlasting work,' muttered Dr. Lamb to Mr.
Ferris, the house doctor; 'I doubt whether one night's rest isn't
worth a hundred of 'em.'

Mr. F. only clicked his tongue against his teeth.

'Why, Maida, my friend, you look as if you were longing or a touch-
up,' said Dr. Lamb.

'Touch-up' was a favourite expression with Dr. Lamb, in connection
with blisters; therefore Maida understood it, and rejoicing at this
unexpected opportunity, so much better than her own plan, she
answered:

'Oh no, sir! I saw poor Wilcox's dreadful chest this morning. The
sight is enough to last my life. Oh, so shocking!'

'Let's see, my woman. I don't want to punish you in that fashion.'

And, in his own quick way, Dr. Lamb pulled down the bedclothes, and
opened Wilcox's chest, before nurse had time to do it for him; but the
carded cotton had by this stuck in so tightly that, without inflicting
great pain, it could not be removed, so Dr. Lamb did not attempt it.

'Whatever did you put that on for? I have always said I won't have it
used,' said the house doctor.

'I think I could tell you, sir,' said Maida, now sure that salt had
been used.

'Why, sir,' hurried in nurse, 'the flesh looked so sore and bumpy, I
thought it couldn't bear much fretting, so I clapped on a bit of
cotton to soothe it a bit. It looked so bad (didn't it, Maida?), that
they thought I'd been a-putting salt on it.'

'And you did, woman!' ejaculated Maida.

Dr. Lamb turned quickly to her with:

'Here, I say, you mustn't rub up people like that. I've never found
nurse in the wrong yet.'

'What should I want to put salt in a body for?'

'What does Wilcox herself say?' laughed Dr. Lamb. 'Have you been
pickled this morning?'

Wilcox attempted a smile--how miserable an one!

'I don't know, sir,' she feebly articulated.

Maida clenched her teeth impatiently, with a grating sound.

'"Let dogs delight to bark and bite," et cetera,' said Dr. Lamb,
passing on, and creating a laugh, which, in his good humour, he meant
should be fun, for he always tried to amuse his patients with some
drollery. He knew not the bitterness that fell from nurse's lips in
the form of that laugh.

Maida, baffled in one point, would not without another struggle resign
her protege into the hand of the enemy.

When Mrs. Cott entered the ward to hear the medical opinion of her
'family,' before nurse or anyone had time to put in a word, she
stepped forward.

'Mrs. Cott, I have a favour to ask.'

'Well, my dear?'

'I am pronounced convalescent; and as I believe the convalescents are
expected to take charge of a bed-patient, will you give me Wilcox?'

'What does she say to it?' said Mrs. Cott, approaching the stretcher,
and taking No. 1's thin hand.

'Oh, ma'am!' was all she could reply. She had endured enough; that one
drop of joy overcame her; she wept aloud.

'So she shall, then,' said Mrs. Cott soothingly.

'Nurse, Maida Gwynnham 'll take Wilcox; she must therefore change
stretchers. You'll be No. 2 now, Maida. You'll be relieved of all your
patients by-and-by, nurse; you must turn matron. Where is she? I
thought I was speaking to her all this while.'

But nurse had vanished.

How smoothly now glided by the numbered days of the dying girl! How
quietly did she enjoy her little library, which, before hidden beneath
her pillow, now ventured into light of day; and, arranged on a little
stool, over which Maida had spread one of her own pocket-
handkerchiefs, her Testament, Prayer-book, and hymns were always
within reach.

The first time Maida arranged her bed, she found a new flannel
petticoat tucked away behind the mattress. Inquiring why it was there,
Wilcox explained that she had brought it on purpose to be buried in;
but as nurse was always covetous, she had hidden it out of her sight.

'I'd have given it her, Maida, only it's so dreadful to think of being
buried with no decent covering; but I'll gladly give it you--you may
take it at once, or when I'm gone.'

'I will see it put on you, dear,' said Maida, as calmly as though only
talking of dressing her the next morning.

'And you will close my eyes? Oh, I hope you'll be near when I die, or
else you won't be let to do for me.'

'Maida,' she said, after a moment's pause, 'you'll think me very
childish, but something troubles me. Do you think it's true that they
cut up prisoners, and throw them any way into their coffins?'

'Yes; cut up as small as mincemeat,' called out nurse, who was passing
at that instant; but Maida quickly answered:

'I know strange things are reported, but I do not believe one of them.
In order to certify to Government that the patients really die of the
complaint stated in the books, the bodies are always examined after
death, but that is all.'

'Ja-sus! Ja-sus!' came in piteous accents from the closet outside the
ward.

'What noise is that?'

'It's poor Sal!'

'Jasus!--oh, Jasus!'

Maida started.

'Go, Maida, go; she is getting rubbed in the straw.'

'Oh! oh! oh! Jasus! Ja-sus!'

A fierce nod was Maida's only answer.

'There, you senseless beast; the sooner you're rotted away the
better!' reached Maida's ear as she stepped into the closet. 'There!'
and all covered as she was with wounds from long lying, nurse rubbed
the body of the imbecile in the fresh straw beneath her, just as you
would rub a rolling-pin into dough.

'Jasus! Jasus!' cried Crazy Sal.

'Leave her!'

Passion and feeling would let Maida say no more.

'Leave her!'

The words were scarcely articulate for rage.

'I tell you what now, Mrs. Martha Grylls, if you come meddling with
me, I'll find a means to make you wish you'd never darkened my path.
You've sought the job, so you shall have it. Come and see how you like
it: sweet, refreshing, nice! ain't it?'

'I meant to take it, and I mean to be Sally's attendant for the
future. If you say one word against it, you shall be turned out of
your situation.'

Fury grinned in the woman's features, but she feared to obey its
dictates, another complaint from Maida might be followed by worse
consequences than was the former. With a daring oath she left the
closet, slamming the door after her with such violence as to make the
whole suite of wards shake.

When Maida approached Sally, the imbecile shrunk in terror, and cast
at her a timid side-glance such as a dog, accustomed to ill-treatment,
will shrinkingly cast towards some doubtful person who attempts to pat
him.

'Never mind, poor Sally; I will not hurt you.'

She wiped the tears from the swollen face, and then, loathsome as it
was in its cadaverous whiteness, she stooped kindly over it and kissed
the scaly forehead.

Then, yielding herself to Maida, the imbecile submitted to the painful
dressing and cleansing operation, without further complaint than an
occasional groan, as some very tender wound came in contact with the
prickly straw.

Maida had just finished, and, in clean cap and jacket, Sally lay back
on a clean pillow, when, with a tap at the door, Mr. Herbert entered.

'They said I should find you here, Maida.'

He shuddered as his eye fell on the imbecile, who, fatigued with the
late exertion, had sunk back completely exhausted, looking more
ghastly than ever.

Maida explained her case.

'She's faint! what a strange colour she has become give her a sup of
water, quickly,' said Mr. Herbert.

Before it could touch her mouth the lip went up, and then, protracted
to an unusual length, came the bray, discordant and soul-piercing.

The nurse, knowing that Mr. Herbert was there, ran in to tell him that
the noise was nothing to be afraid of; Sally was a poor, harmless
creature.

'Jasus, Jasus!' screeched the girl when she saw the nurse.

'Go out, woman! your presence troubles her,' beckoned Maida.

'Jasus! Jasus!' she once more repeated, and then appeared to faint;
but it was the faint of death. She opened her eyes and gave one look
towards Mr. Herbert and Maida, then closed them for ever upon her
sufferings.

Maida wished to stay and lay out the body, but Mr. Herbert would not
allow her to do so: he bade her follow him into her own ward, where
going over to Wilcox, he sat down on stretcher No. 2, and the lustrous
eyes looked up gladly at him from No. 1. After a while he told Maida
he brought what he feared would be bad news to her. He said Emmeline
had expressed a strong desire for change of air, a request so unusual
for her, that the doctor had granted it, though doubtful of the
consequences of the journey; but if that passed favourably, there was
every hope the genial climate of Port Arthur might benefit her.

'Am I not then to return to the Lodge, sir?'

'Oh yes, Mr. Evelyn has left word that you are to be taken there when
you receive your discharge. I thought,' he continued, smiling, 'that
you would be disappointed to find my daughter absent; she longs for
you very much.'

'Miss Evelyn is very good: I shall be sorry to miss her sir,' was all
Maida said, but she felt much more, and had a secret misgiving that
she should not see her young mistress again.

'If we can get permission, we mean to send for you to come after us;
you must not be too sanguine, though.'

'I am sanguine of nothing, sir. I am to be discharged in a fortnight;
before then, perhaps, the master will make me acquainted with his
wishes, which I shall be ready to obey.'

'A fortnight,' thought Wilcox; 'shall I be gone by that time?' and she
examined her thin hands to see how much thinner they must become ere
she could reckon on her release--they had only a skin over them; as
far as their emaciation could bid him, Death might come as soon as he
pleased; disease could extort nothing more from her save a few sighs,
a few more laboured breaths; a few more days of distress.

From this moment the bitterness had passed. There were yet eight days
to Maida's discharge; she strove to be cheerful, and her companion was
so in reality; one Sunday more were they to spend together. That
Sunday was to be a special one, for the bishop was to address the
females of the establishment, or as many of them as could assemble in
Number Four. A half hour before his lordship arrived parties of
invalids issued from all parts of the hospital, and occupied the extra
benches. All free persons who could be spared from their duties
attended to hear the bishop, who, precisely as the clock struck three,
entered, fully robed, and followed by the superintendent and house
doctor.

'Nurses at the beds, and all convicts at the benches,' said the
doctor. With a malicious grin the nurse of Number Four took her place
by Wilcox, and pointed Maida to a seat at the opposite end of the
ward. To dispute were useless. In silence Maida obeyed and she had
only just taken her seat, when his lordship's solemn voice commenced
the service. But the service was nothing to her; she sat eagerly
watching Wilcox. The sermon commenced; but not the touching parable of
the Prodigal Son could divert her thoughts from No. 1. She saw the
invalid put out her parched tongue and try to moisten her lips; she
beckoned to the nurse to give her something to drink; but nurse was
too intent on the sermon to receive the signal. So Maida arose, and
despite his lordship's piercing eyes, which followed every step she
took, walked to No. 1, and put a teaspoonful of liquid to her dry
lips. She was about to return, when, casting a second look, she saw
Wilcox raise her arms, give one smile--bright with anticipation--one
breath, soft as the flutter of a tiny bird, and the soul of the
convict was free. Hastily, ere nurse could perceive the event, dropped
Maida by the couch; tenderly and reverently she bowed her head an
instant, then, stretching forth her hand, she fulfilled her friend's
last wish, and closed the eyes, which still looked upward, hopefully,
longingly!

She was aroused from her meditation by a pause in the sermon, it was
over. Raising his hands, the bishop turned slowly round, at the same
time saying, with peculiar distinctness, 'The peace of God, which
passeth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge
and love of God.' By this time he stood with his hands toward Maida,
then he proceeded--'And the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the
Son, and the Holy Ghost, be amongst you, and remain with you always.'

It seemed that the bishop had read her thoughts. Maida sank upon her
knees to receive the benediction; clasping her hands, she uttered a
loud, fervent 'Amen,' as the last word fell. And the recollection of
the incident which had once before brought that text to her mind, came
with a comforting power, and she felt there was neither irreverence
nor superstition in connecting it with the present occasion. But the
time had not yet come. The tranquillity she experienced vanished with
the bishop. The door had scarcely closed upon his lordship, ere the
nurse rushed over and thrust her arm into the stretcher where Wilcox
lay. Thence she drew out the coveted treasure with so sudden a jerk
that the head of the corpse bounced back with a heavy fall. Exhibiting
the petticoat to the view of the women, she shouted, 'This is mine!'

Maida, gently as she could, laid hold of the flannel, and said, 'I do
not wish to quarrel, but I must have this. I promised she should be
buried in it.'

'--if she shall; if you can get it, you shall have it: not else.'

Maida continued to hold on with a firm but gentle grasp.

'Matron's a-coming, better let her have it,' joined all the women.

'What'll 'e give me then? quick!'

'Nothing,' said Maida, quietly folding the garment.

Once in the dead-house, the corpse was beyond her care so Maida could
never ascertain whether the flannel formed its shroud. She feared not,
for Mrs. Cott told her it belonged to the Queen. Now she cared not how
soon her discharge might be. There were other cases of interest
interspersed with the many that were only schemers--as the convict
phraseology denominates a certain class of patients--but she did not
wish to undertake another whom she must desert in a few days.

On the Tuesday she learned from Mrs. Cott that Mr. Evelyn's family had
removed to Port Arthur, Mr. Herbert having exchanged duties with the
chaplain of that settlement; but that Mr. Evelyn remained ill town,
having been unable to make suitable arrangements for leaving the
Lodge, which was without a man-servant. Googe had been apprehended as
chief party in an extensive coining fraud that for some time had
baffled the police, and cheated the tradesmen out of their legal
money.

Mrs. Cott told Maida that she believed her master was waiting to put
her in the place of a man; on which Maida said, that as far as
guarding the house went, she should not at all mind the charge.
Thursday arrived. Maida received her discharge, and bade good-bye to
the patients. When it was nurse's turn, she offered her hand, but that
worthy refused it, saying, 'she had only one hope, and that was, that
she should still be in the hospital when Maida came in to die:
wouldn't she make a frightful corpse of her, that's all! she'd stretch
her eyes wide open instead of closing them like a Christian.'

'I'll forgive you if you do,' said Maida, forcing a smile; 'I am
afraid you would close them in self-defence after a while. I should
look so frightful.'

Ere descending the stairs she peeped into the closet where Crazy Sal
had lain, it was still empty. She pitied the next object who should be
there exposed to the unchecked malice of the wretched being chosen as
nurse for the ward and its dependencies.



CHAPTER XXV. PORT ARTHUR--O.P.S.O.--THE 'KANGAROO'.


HIS Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor having duly and formally
signified his approval of the admission of the Reverend Herbert Evelyn
and family into the sacred regions of Port Arthur, and the
Comptroller-General having promised to apprise the Superintendent of
the settlement of their visit, in order that the waggons might be in
waiting for them on their arrival, one bright morning in the month of
February, Emmeline, accompanied by her father and cousin, took her
place on board the Kangaroo, the Government steam-boat plying between
Hobart Town and the Peninsula; and shortly after, a second cab set
down Mrs. Evelyn and her children on the jetty, when Charlie speedily
found his way to his uncle, and became vociferously jubilant at the
prospect of a trip down the river, as the water route to Tasman's
Peninsula is denominated. The free passengers were ready to start. A
young lieutenant just bearing away his still more youthful bride to
the ungainly solitude of Eagle Hawk Neck, was fast increasing his
impatience with the increasing moments, when tramp-a-tramp, chink-a-
chink along the road, and chained two together a gang of second-
sentence men drew near. Ere they could reach the wharf a band of armed
soldiers drew up on each side of the jetty, and at word of command, as
the gang approached, they pointed their muskets, forming a guarded
pathway for the convicts, who two by two passed through it and hobbled
on board the steamer, where crowded together they had to stand out the
passage. Quickly followed a band of probationers, bound for the
Cascades--and then the soldiers divided--part marching into the boat
after the men, the others returning to Hobart. It was now half-past
seven the captain mounted the paddle-wheel, gave the signal, and in
another moment the Kangaroo was off.

Not having been told that the vessel was a prison-transport, Bridget
had looked forward with much delight to the scenery which makes a sail
down the Derwent a sine qua non to the beauty-seekers of our shores.
With the sight of the felons vanished all her dreams of pleasure, for
she could not with one eye view the misery of her fellow-creatures,
and with the other dwell admiringly on the landscape; she must feel
all, pity all, or admire all, or else shut her eyes altogether.

'Can we never escape from them?' she whispered to Emmeline, as winding
round the wharf moved slowly onwards the alternate tramp and clank.
There was a time when Bridget would have turned from the spectacle
which the deck presented as one not so pleasant to behold as that
which lay before her in the distant hills; but now in vain opened to
new magnificent scenes from the coasts of Frederick Henry Bay; in vain
upreared the Iron Pot its grotesque dimensions, it awoke in her no
curiosity; nor did the surf which boiled around its base attract her
attention. The grand tumult of Storm Bay, the quiet farm of Slopen
Island, were nothing to her so long as chains dragged down the hands
and oppressed the feet of those with whom she was forced into contact.

The day was fair and cloudless. The breeze tempered the heat into a
bearable degree; so that when the glare of the sun was excluded by an
awning, it was luxurious to sit yielding to the gentle sway of the
vessel, and watching the ever-changing, yet ever-lovely, pictures
which one by one disclosed themselves from unexpected nooks and
windings of the river.

Mr. Herbert, Emmeline, and Bridget, unable to join in the hilarity of
the free passengers, abstracted themselves from the general party and
occupied the sofa on the lee-side of the skylight, where their
seclusion was only occasionally disturbed by the onslaughts of
Charlie, desperate with scraps of news, or colonial legends inflicted
on him by the mate.

Irrespective of anxiety for his daughter's comfort, Mr. Herbert was
little inclined to talk.

He had discovered among the second-sentencers several of his flock,
who only the Sunday before had listened to his admonition from the
Penitentiary pulpit. His spirit yearned for them; he was aware what
they would have to go through in the fierce retributive process of
which he knew Port Arthur to be the furnace. Hard they were sent
down--but harder they would return; perhaps again to be sent down--
again to be returned hardened and only fit for Norfolk Island, where
the process would be carried on to a greater perfection, because
detached from the public gaze, and more distant from the chief
authorities, who were never known to approach the shores without
timely notice, to afford opportunity for the hurrying into corners of
all that might offend their judicial eyes, or call for their judicial
interference.

Mr. Herbert was not long on board before his eye had scanned the gang,
and selected thence two men, who, for desert, were more fit for the
penal settlement than half who were condemned there.

The savagely sullen brow and heavy eye of Bradley, the constable, were
unmistakable, for all that his hair was closely cropped, and his head
covered by the leathern cap of the convict.

By some strange caprice or thoughtlessness, he had been chained to Bob
Pragg, who, notwithstanding the discomfort of his situation, secretly
gloried in being the means of annoying his enemy by sticking as close
into him as possible. Every now and then, with a sudden shove Bradley
would push him to the extent of the chain, when back would stick Bob
with the tenacity of a bull-dog. Mr. Herbert perceived this, and kept
his eye fixed on the pair hoping to stop a proceeding which he feared,
though almost laughably trifling in itself, might end in a court of
justice. The heavier gathering of Bradley's bushy brow increased his
fears. But Pragg was out of the parson's parish--nothing was to be
gained by hearkening to him--nothing was to be saved by not crossing
his foe; so averting his head he continued to irritate Bradley. Mr.
Herbert then asked an overseer to unchain the two and bind them to
some other prisoners; but the overseer refused, supposing 'they were
only sparring it a bit; maybe in fun, for it takes the deuce to get
their tricks out of them--or more like in spite, which nobody expects
to kick out of them.'

Mr. Herbert asked if any known spite existed between the men--and
learnt that they were sworn foes, perpetually bent on worrying each
other.

'The last offence between 'em,' said the officer, 'had something to do
with that burial-ground murder, for which Sam Tomkins is to be hanged.
When Bradley was caught, he vowed vengeance on Pragg, and made out a
case against him; but the evidence wasn't very clear, so the bench let
him off with three months at Port Arthur. You see, sir, till the men
have had a taste of down there, they don't know how to value Tench
privileges.'

'It is a dangerous precedent to give a man a taste of poison to make
him appreciate simple medicine,' replied Mr. Herbert, despairing of
making an impression on the overseer, who was a devoted disciple of
the stringencies of the penal code.

Bridget was very glad that her cousin required her attention, for
brooding over the brightness of day was a mass of human suffering to
which she could not choose but turn whenever her thoughts were at her
disposal. It appeared to her an unnecessary strictness to keep the men
chained hand and foot when escape was impossible; and she watched her
opportunity to tell the captain so, for though she knew they were not
bound by his command, she hoped he might have some power in giving
them at any rate a temporary freedom of limb. Jocose and hearty, the
captain came round to pay his devoirs to the parson's daughter and
niece, and Bridget, long in wait for his approach, came forward
blushing for an attack on the humane principles of the well-
proportioned sailor.

'Your servant, miss,' he bowed, laying his hand upon his heart.

'Oh! Captain Jolly, can't you let loose those poor creatures?' burst
from Bridget's lips ere she could acknowledge his gallantry.

'Well--don't see how; they might fly overboard, and that would be
awkward, seeing they are paid for. Go down in the cabin if they annoy
you, miss.'

'They don't annoy me--they make me sad.'

'Well, I never viewed it in that light, Miss D'Urban; it seems to me
rather comfortable to hear them piping away like six o'clock; if they
don't pipe us to supper they remind us of it, and that's next best. On
my honour, I don't know what we poor sea-dogs would do without our
poultry.'

'Oh, captain! I meant the prisoners.'

'Bless my heart alive, miss! let them loose? We should be in Davy's
locker, sure as fate, before we'd spun much farther and they'd be on
their way to California. Did you never hear how they overhauled the
bishop's frigate? and--ha! ha!--bless my heart alive, miss, as my
name's Jolly, 'twould be jolly to strike the darbies off that precious
lot: we might as well leap overboard at once.'

'Horrid creatures! Whatever is it, captain?' inquired Mrs. Evelyn,
who, baby in arms, just crossed the deck in time to hear the last
words.

'Nothing, madam; only miss proposes we shall change places with the
gang; and, on my honour, I've no inclination that way.'

Seeing Mrs. Evelyn look mystified, he explained:

'Miss is begging of me to cut away their cables, and I tell her they'd
overhaul us before we could cry "Mercy!"'

'Really, Bridget, my dear, you do make yourself very silly; you
mustn't listen to her, Captain Jolly: she has the most romantic
notions about the convicts. I do believe she'd set them all free if
she could: yes, and I believe you would, too, Herbert,' added Mrs.
Evelyn, as she observed a quiet smile on his face.

'I should certainly give liberty to a great many,' replied Mr.
Herbert, very gently.

'On my honour, parson, you take the Queen's money to some purpose.
What would they do with their liberty if you gave it them?'

'Get into trouble again as fast as they could,' answered Mrs. Evelyn.
'In fact, it's my opinion they are never happy unless they are in
trouble.'

Bridget looked into the assembled gang for one single sign of
happiness: not one appeared; desolation, despair, or defiance sat on
all the sunburnt, blistered faces.

Mr. Herbert noted his niece's silent comment on her aunt's
observation, and involuntarily following her example, his eye also
wandered through the human indices for some reference to the imputed
happiness; but none was visible in the dreary blank of countenance, or
in the darkly-written page of crime, whose physiognomy was full of
meaning: but of what sort?

'Well, now, parson, supposing you had Government permission to uncage
a few of those precious birds, which of all those now before you would
you let out? Yonder are two likely lads--those there--that keep
spurring it like game-cocks.'

'I should be cautious in giving liberty to any man who had once
entered a penal settlement. I consider all who have once been to Port
Arthur, or other places of second punishment, most dangerous
characters; but I should be glad to arrest the progress of half who
are on their way there.'

'Well, I don't know anything about that: I'm paid to take 'em
backwards and forwards--the deuce I care how many or how few get
aboard, so long as my pay don't shift to suit the rise and fall of
'em.'

The captain took a turn to and from the paddle-wheel, and then, coming
to Mr. Herbert, asked:

'But I say, parson, if we locked our penal settlements, what could we
do with our second-sentencers if we'd no place to send them to? a hang
they'd care for the Judge and all the Bench: they'd point their
fingers at us, and off again to their tricks. Without our Port Arthurs
we should have a constant repetition of that jolly farce of Louisa
Ferres.'

'I would not do away with our penal settlements, Mr. Jolly, until some
well-digested plan were formed for the better lodgment of our men; but
I would have the settlements conducted under a different system. It is
not wise to trust the best men with unlimited power; the heart's
vanity cannot stand it. Abstracted from the inspection of the public
as these settlements are, there cannot be too much care in the
selection of fitting instruments to work the system. Where there are
several hundreds of men all at the mercy of one free man, what is to
be expected if that free man be one of ferocious temper or ambitious
views? This man, though ostensibly under the supervision of colonial
authority, rules supreme over his miserable dependents; for what can
comptrollers or governors, not being omniscient, know of the daily
occurrences of a place seventy or a hundred and fifty miles distant?'

'Oh! there's a regular correspondence kept up between them; everything
is reported.'

'Yes; the representations which reach Hobart Town present a fair
account of matters progressing to the satisfaction of---the
Superintendent! There is no dissatisfaction or maltreatment of the
convicts to blot the seemly foolscap. The Comptroller reads, approves,
and applauds the judicious officer, who so skilfully manages to keep
five hundred rebels in subjection, at once un-irksome to themselves
and beneficial to the colony in general.'

'But then the Comptroller goes down to see for himself.'

'Truly! The authorities visit the settlement and examine the police
reports, which are all entered by a paid and, most likely, convict
clerk, who, if the latter, must obey the orders of his superior
unquestioningly and willingly, or be turned into the chain-gang; or,
if a free man, can only deviate from the injunctions of his master at
peril of a nod of dismissal procured for him from the official head by
a single word whispered by the Superintendent. The reports, duly
examined and commented upon, display praiseworthy vigilance; for
entries of all punishments inflicted have been conscientiously made.
The Comptroller reads that one man has been chastised for misconduct,
another for insolence; but whether such misconduct or insolence was
provoked out of them, or was a wilful fault, does not appear in the
entry.'

'Ha! ha! parson, anyone can see you've been amongst convicts; you've
grown suspicious; can't trust your neighbour.'

'Well, really, captain, we must be suspicious in self-defence; with
rogues on all sides, what should we do if we placed confidence in our
people?' said Mrs. Evelyn, for once agreeing with her brother-in-law.

'I speak of free, madam; Mr. Evelyn looks suspiciously on all.'

'Do not misunderstand me, Mr. Jolly; I make no personal reference; the
present Superintendent may be an excellent commandant.'

'You only refer to them as a lot: well, they are a rum lot; but for
all that, what fault can you find with Port Arthur?'

'No: I'm sure it's a delightful place, all so clean and nice; really
it's like a fresh-scrubbed room. If it was a dirty place I couldn't
take the children there if you'd pay me for it, my dear,' chimed in
Mrs. Evelyn to Mr. Herbert.

'Nothing is fairer than a whited sepulchre, Clara; nothing sounds
better in the many books which have been written of travels in our
island than an account of visits to the prison-stations: the
cleanliness is lauded, the healthful appearance of the place noted,
until one almost longs to become a convict, to dwell in so delightful
a spot, and to be under treatment of so kind, so hospitable, so humane
a man as the Superintendent--in the book. The traveller is bewitched;
he sees through a false medium, and notes accordingly. Not knowing
that one of the strictest penal rules is that the convicts shall touch
their caps to their superiors, he observes the simultaneous movement
to the Superintendent, and mentions it as a gratifying proof of the
men's affection, or, at any rate, of their esteem for their governor.
And I do not blame him; the rod is hidden from his sight; how should
he discover it? All is fair; why should he not rejoice in it?'

'Well, parson, so long as I'm not meddled with I'm as willing as any
man alive to have a change, but as to what you want, we may stick in
the mud till kingdom come if we wait for it; the deuce knows when your
well-digested plan will be formed, and I also guess his satanic
majesty 'll try to put it off as long as he can. Government has been
playing battledore and shuttlecock with the system for many a long
year, and, for all I see, been making ducks and drakes with the money,
excepting my salary.'

'I agree with you there, Mr. Jolly. I do not believe the well-digested
plan will ever be formed, for while we have sin to battle with, the
strife must continue. Colonel Arthur's words, "What God hath made
crooked, man cannot make straight," appear to me the correct solution
of the convict puzzle; however, let us go on availing ourselves of
such improvements as experience shall suggest. Having seen that there
is danger in giving to one man unbounded authority over his fellow-
creatures, let us circumscribe his power by placing others to share it
with him. Having seen that transportation, as now carried on, is a
punishment of revenge and not of reform, let us use our individual
efforts to practically convince the prisoners that, in banishing them
from their native land, Government has their best interest at heart,
that England sends her unhappy sons from her, not as outcasts so much
as penitents.'

'Now, parson, tell us, would you be Superintendent if you could?'

'I would not, sir. I could not trust myself. I might commence with
every good intention, but unrestricted power would soon make a despot
of me.'

A heavy fall on the other side of the deck prevented the captain's
answer: he went across to see what had happened, then returned,
whistling till he reached his party.

'It's nothing; only one of the gang has fainted, tired of standing in
the sun, I suppose, and, in falling, he's played the deuce with his
mate, overhauling him head uppermost.'

Mr. Herbert hastily went to the unfortunate men. The overseer, seeing
the commiserating expression of his face, said:

'Only scheming, sir, take my word for it; pity's lost on them; why
should one faint more than another?'

'That livid countenance does not look much like scheming sir. I insist
on your unchaining him, and giving him the assistance he requires.'

Sulkily went the overseer to work, muttering:

'We shall have the whole gang a-fainting if this is what they get for
it.'

Bradley, who was close by, and had marked the whole proceeding, made a
note of these words and his heavy brow lowered portentously as he
stowed them away in his imbruted mind.

It was not long after that a second heavy fall was heard and looking
to the spot, Mr. Herbert saw that Bradley had fallen and Pragg lay
sprawling on the top of him.

'I s'pose we must undo them too,' grumbled the overseer, 'mustn't be
partial.'

'No, just extricate Pragg from Bradley; but I would not have the
chains removed from either,' said Mr. Herbert, who had heard the
grumble, though it was not meant for him.

But just out of spite the overseer would release them: he had barely
done so, than, with the roar of an uncaged lion, upstarted Bradley,
knocked him down, caught up a handcuff and struck Pragg a blow that
felled him to the deck and made the blood flow from his head. Bradley
then flung himself on his hands and knees and lapped up the blood.

'I swore I'd never rest till I'd spit your own blackguard blood in
your face; now, here it is!'

All this took place in a moment, ere anyone could stop the ruffian or
overcome the first shock of surprise. All free hands now rushed
forward, the enraged overseer amongst them. Bradley, surrounded by his
bond brethren, whose fettered limbs prevented their laying hold of
him, kept his opponents at bay by hurling at them such missiles as he
could seize hold of.

'Grace to the man that catches him,' shouted the captain.

'Conditional pardon to him,' out-shouted the overseer.

'Death to him,' growled Bradley.

And the men who had tried to raise their arms to clutch him let them
drop with a clank that rang through the boat. There was a simultaneous
click of musketry.

'Surrender, or we fire!'

A moment's awful silence.

'I surrender!' cried Bradley, dropping his arms to his side.

There was a general move towards him.

'But not to you!' And dashing through the crowd of prisoners he sprang
overboard, and far splashed the waters into the air as the body cleft
them asunder and lost itself beneath them.

Mrs. Evelyn declared she could not proceed, but, with the children,
would be put out at the next settlement. Mr. Herbert was not averse to
this, for Emmeline, though uncomplaining, suffered from the frightful
shock that had shaken the stoutest set of nerves on board. He was
anxious to get her ease from the excitement which it was impossible to
escape whilst on the scene of the catastrophe. Though his feeling was
only one of deep and awed solemnity, commingled with sorrow, and
though he did not participate in his sister-in-law's fear of being
murdered in cold blood if he remained on board, he considered it
desirable to afford his child a respite from a fatigue, for the
endurance of which the appalling occurrence had wholly unfitted her;
therefore, when the steamer stopped at Impression Bay, he agreed to
disembark and go with Mrs. Evelyn to the house of a friend, the
Religious Instructor of the settlement, and there remain during the
week which must elapse ere they could proceed by the Kangaroo on their
journey to Port Arthur.

Expected or unexpected friends are always welcome on penal stations.
Isolated from the rest of the world, the officers are glad of any
interruption to the monotonous routine of their stationary life. The
inundation of the Evelyns was therefore an event productive of much
enjoyment, both to the Instructor and his wife, who managed to stow
away all the family except Mr. Herbert and Charlie, who were obliged
to seek shelter in the doctor's quarters.

Impression Bay is an invalid station where the incapacitated convicts
end their lives in such rest or labour as their case demands or their
strength permits. To Mr. Herbert there was nothing new either in the
settlement or neighbourhood; but when Emmeline was well enough to be
left, he made Bridget run out with him to take a peep at the densely-
wooded country around, or to look out on the bay as it appeared from
land.

The gardens delighted her. Summer's bright flowers lay with a languid,
luxurious ease that imparted, or would have imparted, to her a dreamy
sense of pleasure, had she been any other than Bridget D'Urban. But
there was no dreaminess in her pleasures: they were real, they were
earnest. When her uncle preferred to stay with her cousin,'she would
snatch up the baby, summon Charlie, and be off to the gardens for a
frolic amid the roses. One day a thunderstorm overtook them there.
Baby had not yet learned to fear thunder, but as peal clashed on peal,
Charlie clung tightly to Bridget to hide himself, and to wish 'that
God's many drums didn't play so drefful loud.' Hurrying back with her
young charge, the heavy rain obliged Miss D'Urban to stop under the
roof of a deserted constable's hut. She had not been here long before
she and Charlie were terrified by a howl that seemed to come from
within a wall near, and yet was despairing enough to have issued from
the infernal regions. It was repeated again and again. The drenching
rain was more endurable, so off ran Bridget, carrying baby in her
arms. An overseer's wife, seeing her panting on, opened her door, and
begged her to come in. Nothing loth, she entered, when Charlie
promptly declared to the woman that they had heard 'all sorts of
drefful wild beasts over there.' Thinking he only meant the thunder,
she took him upon her lap and told him, though they had devils and
wild cats in the island, they had not any lions or tigers, so he need
not fear. But when Miss D'Urban told her that, wild beast or not, they
had been alarmed by the most doleful wail that ever mortal heard, the
wife began to wonder whence the noise could have proceeded, and
wondered on until her eldest boy burst into a laugh.

'Oh! 'twas nothing, mother; 'twas only from the Cranky Yard.'

Bridget asked what undesirable yard that might be, and was informed it
was a portion of the station appropriated to the insane, and the cries
thence were often heartrending.

'"It's nothing but the Cranky Yard" is what they all tell us, miss;
but I'm thinking that the nothing's a great deal, only we mustn't say
these things,' said the wife.

Perceiving that her auditor appeared interested, she drew her chair
over, and sending Charlie to play, continued, in a low tone:

"Twas only last week, miss, that one of these poor creatures behaved
bad, and was put in irons. Well, he was taken ill, and died. When he
was near death he begged hard to have his irons taken off, that he
might die unfettered, as any one of us would naturally wish; but his
keeper wouldn't free him, so he breathed out his soul, lying on his
face, with his hands chained behind him. God have mercy on his poor
dear soul!'

Bridget stamped with indignation.

'There's no help for it, miss; we mustn't speak out our minds on these
things, only just to each other; then each of us pretends not to
believe them--but--' she shook her head.

'Why are these cruelties permitted?' at last asked Bridget.

'They are not permitted. I doubt whether they ever reaches the
Superintendent's ear in a way that shows cruelty. 'Twas the officer of
the yard that was to blame for that poor dear creature.'

A tear glistened in her eye; wiping it off with the corner of her
apron, she said:

'Faith, miss, I call everything dear that's suffering. I tell my
husband sometimes that my very bread chokes in my throat that goes
down with such money. There's only two ways of getting on out here,
and them are--to make one's heart hard as quick as possible, or to get
out of Government work altogether. My husband's been through nearly
all the stations, hoping what was in one wouldn't be in another; he's
tried this last, thinking as 'twas invalid there couldn't be anything
against one's feelings here; but now--ah, there!--it's no use talking,
and I shouldn't say so much to you only it's known the colony over
that Parson Evelyn's family is all the convicts' friends; and I've
heard say that if the convicts rose they'd be as safe as Goshen in the
midst of it, and Squire Evelyn, too, for all he holds on for
discipline. Ah, miss! the men knows who's who.'

In her delight at hearing her uncles so praised, Bridget nearly forgot
the Cranky Yard; but Charlie came running in to say, not only that the
rain had ceased, but that the beasts were making their noises again:

'Come and hear 'em then.'

'There, miss, you'd hardly believe, though I hears them every day I'm
not a bit better pleased with it; I can't bear to know there's
suffering going on; and 'tisn't only because they are my own flesh and
blood; I was just the same time back, when I was young, when the
aborgenes was served so shameful.'

Bridget, supposing rightly that she meant aborigines, asked to what
treatment she referred.

'Oh, miss! they was shot down like rabid dogs; hunted on their own
grounds just like kangaroos. I don't know the rights of it; I suppose
it was needful, or 'twouldn't have been done: but, child as I was, I
couldn't like it better on that account.'

Bridget resolved to consult Uncle Herbert on the subject, and thanking
her hostess, she made hasty way to the Religious Instructor's
quarters. Uncle Herbert and Emmeline were alone, the Instructor having
gone to his duties, and his wife being elbow-deep in culinary
hospitalities. Bridget, therefore, still irate with her subject,
rushed at once into the inquiry:

'Uncle, what has become of all the aborigines? haven't seen one of
them ever since I have been here.'

'They are confined in Oyster Cove, and supported by Government; the
all consists of but twenty-three; poor things! it is sad to behold
them. They bequeath us a legacy for which we shall have to answer when
God makes inquisition for blood. "Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man
shall his blood be shed," is a denunciation as true of nations as of
individuals; and to them who mark these things, retribution is clearly
discernible in national records. Thoughtful readers of Tasmanian
history must tremble to think how and where the retributive stroke
shall fall on England or her dependencies. When they read of
barbarities disgraceful to a Christian people; of murdered women; of
tortured children, they can only turn and pray the anticipating
prayer: "Lord, in judgment remember mercy, and visit not these sins on
the head of innocence."'

But the Wednesday again came round, and with it duly appeared the
steamer, puffing its goods into the bay, there to exchange them after
the fashion of Aladdin's lamp-merchant. A few weak, miserable-looking
men were delivered to an overseer, and Mr. Herbert's party embarked in
their stead.

Captain Jolly hailed Bridget as an old acquaintance, and vowed himself
her humble servant so long as she required no more chains struck off
from his men. She informed him that last week's catastrophe had by no
means lessened her inclination that way.

'Bless your heart alive, miss; talk of irons! you should go aboard the
Lady Franklin when she's on for Norfolk Island: you'd have double
chains, cross chains, deck chains--chains enough to last out the term
of your natural life, as the law has it; though what or where the
other life is, the deuce knows, for I'm sure I don't. Yes, you must
see the Lady Franklin--nothing complete without her; though it's a
beggarly compliment to her ladyship to turn out her name in such a
rigging as that.'

Bridget was very glad when the garrulous captain was needed forward,
for he was not her style of thinker. The day was fair and cloudless as
the sky of a last week in February could make it. The Kangaroo
pattered briskly on, stopping to take a short breath at Salt Water
River, and a longer at Cascades, in order to deliver some probationers
to the Superintendent, and to take in a few second-sentencers for Port
Arthur. Then steaming round Expectation Point, and passing Woody
Island, it soon brought its journey to an end in Norfolk Bay. Here
fresh disappointment awaited Bridget, who, having watched the
debarkation and marching off of the chain-gang, looked for some
approaching vehicle that promised the safe conveyance guaranteed by
the Comptroller-General. She had heard so much of the waggons which
were to be in waiting at Norfolk Bay, that in looking far ahead for
the teamed bullocks, which she expected to see toiling up the hill,
she failed to note nearer preparations.

'Come, my dear, come,' at last said her aunt; 'make haste and look
here before your uncle returns; he mustn't see it. Take this and put
it on the seat of the waggon behind you; and when you get in, just
point to it and nod to the men, and then you'll be all right and safe.
I wouldn't venture in without, or those fellows would of course upset
us.'

She opened a little basket, and gave Bridget a half-pound of tea and
some tobacco.

'Why mustn't Uncle Herbert see it? He'd be delighted to give the poor
fellows a few comforts.'

'Nonsense, my dear; as a Government officer he couldn't allow us to
break the rules, which are strict against rewarding the convicts,
especially with tobacco; but I wouldn't go without giving it to please
anyone; they make nothing of upsetting a person they dislike. Why, my
dear, they pitched the Comptroller over, and he trundled down the hill
for ever so far.'

'Now then, we are ready,' said Mr. Herbert, stepping back to the
jetty.

Bridget's wonder increased, for she saw no sign of readiness save in a
number of low carts that looked like luggage-trucks with very long
handles, and seats for more delicate parcels. Her wonder abounded when
she saw Mr. Herbert lift Emmeline into the foremost cart. Thus, then,
had her rustic waggons dwindled into a conveyance rough and dangerous,
how she trembled as she remarked the small rickety iron wheels! Mr.
Herbert then packed her in behind Emmeline, reserving the seat next
his daughter for himself. Mrs. Evelyn and the children were stowed
away in the second waggon, three other passengers in the third, and
the boxes in the last three.

'What an odd way of doing things, to get in first and yoke the horses
afterwards,' thought Bridget; but in the act of thinking it she heard
a shrill whistle.

'All right! Go on there!'

'Is the sick lady easy before we start, sir?' asked a convict of Mr.
Herbert, who with no slight anxiety was watching proceedings.

'Quite, thank you,' smiled Emmeline.

'Where are the horses?' said Bridget.

A queer grin passed from lip to lip as each prisoner spat into his
hand and pressed a firm downward hold on the shafts of the vehicle.
But one man turned on Bridget a face so full of shame and misery that
she felt ready to cry for having asked the question. There was
something in this man's appearance wholly different from the others; a
low melancholy settled on his not unpleasing countenance, while his
bearing was that of superior birth. A smart whack on his shoulders
from the Overseer's thong made him withdraw his eyes from Bridget, and
sent a flush of indignation to his sunken cheeks; his fingers snapped
audibly in the palm of his hands in their longing to repay the insult;
but he must bear it in silence--nay, even with respect--for he is a
convict and the other a free man.

'To your place with your impudence, staring at the lady,' cried the
overseer.

The man again laid hold of the shaft; a bar was placed across it, and
preparations were complete.

'He is not equal to the exertion,' whispered Mr. Herbert to the
officer.

'Must get equal to it, then, sir; he knows where to look for pity, and
finds it's no use to show off down here, where magpie is magpie
whether it feathers a gentleman or a snob. Go on here!'

Another touch of the human horses, and off they trotted; now down,
then up, as the inequalities of the very unequal road required. Five
miles of ground had thus to be run over; warm work beneath the heat of
summer! The velocity with which the waggons rushed over the
declivities by its reaction partly impelled them up the succeeding
eminence, but for this assistance their progress must have been alike
wearisome to the passengers, and exhausting to the runners. Now a
nervous excitement supported the spirits of the former and a fierce
excitement the energy and strength of the latter, while toiling,
tearing on by the wooden rails, they guided the trucks over the
tramroad, and that without stopping for nearly three miles, when the
halfway station allowed the panting, perspiring steeds a rest. Here a
relay awaited those who were too done up to run out the journey to
Long Bay.

'Now get up your steam, and quick, for we're late,' commanded the
overseer.

This order was unnecessary, for the men were steaming with a
vengeance. Their respiratory organs worked vociferously. There was a
general play of chests, and amid the loud, quick breathings of
eighteen it was difficult to hear the word of command bandied about
from officer to officer. The eighteen pairs of hands could scarcely
relax their clutch of the heaving sides to wipe off the perspiration
streaming from under the leathern caps and over the blistered faces of
the runners.

'Old hands take places--relays forward, new hands back,' shouted the
overseer.

Six convicts retired and six others joined the twelve old hands. The
man who had attracted Bridget's attention remained.

'You back, you haven't done steaming yet,' motioned the driver; 'back
I say, you Forbes.'

Forbes refused by a gloomy shake of the head, and then laid hold of
the shaft.

'Back!' repeated the overseer, raising his arm, 'you'll burst by the
way, and that's what you're after I expect, making believe to be a
martyr.'

'There are other means,' muttered Forbes, resigning his hold, and
receiving a grin from his comrades, he turned morosely away, and Mr.
Herbert followed him.

'Forbes! I am very grieved to meet you here.'

'I am sorry for nothing that helps to kill me.'

'For what are you here?'

'I declined obedience to a brother convict appointed constable over
our set. Constable Bradley it was; but, sir, don't question me--my
teeth are set on it all, and I am determined to bear on till--'

He pushed from Mr. Herbert ere the latter had time to reply. The
overseer commented:

'Sour as a crabstick--you'll get nothing but vinegar out of he--he
hasn't spoken a dozen words to anyone since he's been down here, and
he won't look a body in the face. I tell you, sir, I'd rather have a
gang of these here men than I'd have one such as him.'

'Undoubtedly,' replied Mr. Herbert quietly, but in a tone that
silenced him.

'I should like to see how he'd bear it!' burst from Bridget's
overboiling indignation, as the driver moved off. 'If that isn't
giving double punishment to gentlemen, I don't know what double
punishment is.'

'Hush!' whispered Emmeline.

'Well, why should he have more just because he's a gentleman--it is a
great enormous shame, it is.'

'I don't suppose these things which make the punishment so severe are
known at home; but do hush--see, the men are staring at you--and
nothing is more displeasing to them than to hear a superior convict
pitied above themselves.'

'I pity them too--yes, to my heart I do; but then they are all
punished alike. Nobody agrees with me about the worse treatment of--'

'I agree with you,' said Uncle Herbert, looking over his shoulder,
'but it is easier to agree as to the disease than to discover a
remedy.'

'Then it ought not to be,' cried Bridget; 'they ought not to go on
tearing out one man's heart while they only cut a limb off another--
maiming this man, but killing that one--such cruel, unequal
treatment.'

'Ah! it's a theme full of doubt and difficulty,' thought Mr. Herbert
half aloud, and his eyes unconsciously wandered to Forbes, who with
folded arms, drooping head, and a despairing fixedness of countenance,
leaned against a bark hut, yielding one leg to a convict constable who
was preparing to clasp the cross irons upon it, now that freedom of
limb was no longer required for the tram. The chains being fast set
upon his legs, he was ordered forward to a carrying gang.

'What's the delay, my men?' asked Mr. Herbert, turning with a sigh
from Forbes.

'Naught, sir, only there's a tug a-coming there that'll take the wind
out of us; hold on, ladies, or you'll be flunked right overboard when
we shies off the top.'

'But there's 'most a mile to get to it,' growled a second.

A steep ascent lay before them. Mr. Herbert placed his arm round
Emmeline and drew her to himself; the overseer jumped up behind
Bridget.

'Go on here!' and, with a desperate shove from the hinder men and a
corresponding pull of the foremost, the waggons were again in motion,
the snorting puffing of the runners serving the wooden railway for the
noise of an engine. The ascent was gained: the hill on the other side
drew forth a universal shudder as the order, 'Steady!--jump up!--and
away,' was given. There was a swift, simultaneous movement of the hind
men. Without stopping, they sprang on the backs of the vehicles--
where, tucking themselves up, they depended, drag-like, from the bar
to which they clung; then with a shout from each overseer away dashed
the loaded cars down over the frightful steep. As the danger increased
with the accelerating motion, the runners one by one jumped on the
sides of the cars, till all were perched up; and the waggons had
nothing save these human drags to stay their headlong progress--then,
heedless of all impediments, on dashed the rumbling train, now
quivering on the brink of a jagged precipice, then seeming to gather
speed to the music of children's screeches and frightened passengers'
cries for mercy. One by one the men dropped off when, nearing the
goal, the waggons ran on more level ground, shortly to stop at the
jetty of Long Bay, where the penal boat's crew waited to row the tired
party to the settlement beyond.

It was almost dark. The Southern Cross already faintly showed itself
from the grey sky, and ere the three miles of water brought them to
the last jetty every bright star was out, and the lights of the
station blinked in the distance.

'My poor child, you are quite worn out!' said Mr. Herbert, as Emmeline
leant upon his shoulder.

'Yes, I'm tired; but rest is near,' she pointed to the Isle of the
Dead which they were just passing.

Mr. Herbert pressed her to his heart and whispered:

'He giveth His beloved sleep.'

The dark outlines of the ponderous buildings loomed into sight. For
all that it was summer, there was not one in the boat who would not
have liked to be warmer. Mrs. Evelyn shivered outright, and exclaimed
to anyone who, chose to listen:

'My dear, I feel quite uncomfortable, just as if I were going into
prison; really everything to do with convicts is so unfortunate.'

The party landed. Save in its own vicinity, there was not a sound to
be heard. Mrs. Evelyn shivered, still less at ease; the silent as well
as solitary system seemed to pervade the place, which, in the
uncertain light of stars and glimmering windows, appeared little more
than a village of unusually large substantial houses. It was difficult
to know in what part were stowed away the five hundred prisoners
existing under the darkest phase of transported life.

Mrs. Evelyn's shivers increased.

'My dears, I wish you'd all speak louder; there's not the least
occasion for whispering so--really it's quite doleful, as though 'twas
against the law to hear one's voice.'

'Comes natural down here, ma'am, astonishing how a feller gets to
croon that's been here a while,' answered one of the boat's crew.

In spite of this unpromising assertion, a brisk, cheerful voice came
pleasantly through the darkness.

'Here at last! we had all given you up for to-night. Where is brother
Evelyn?'

And the spare, elastic figure of an ecclesiastic hurried up to Mr.
Herbert, and shook both his hands at once.

'Ah, Fathur Evermore! is it you? Your presence both alarms and pleases
me.'

'All right, my good friend, all right at the parsonage; I am only here
instead of Harelick--he has been called to Norfolk Bay.'

'Clara--Father Evermore, of whom you have heard me speak so often.'

Mrs. Evelyn inclined slightly and shortly; she owed the priest no debt
of gratitude, save for his having broken the dismal silence; a bow was
sufficient to liquidate that debt. But Bridget was already in love
with the venerable man whose benevolent countenance and long silver
hair stamped him, to her mind, a veritable 'bon pere Raffre.'

The silvery courteousness of his voice enchanted her.

'I need not ask which is our sick charge; bless you, my child! No, no;
I am stronger than I look. Your weight will not crush me if I may
share with your father the pleasure of leading you up the settlement,'
insisted Father Evermore, kindly drawing one of Emmeline's arms
through his.

She was, however, too tired to advance a step; she fell back after the
attempt. In an instant two of the boat's crew crossed their arms into
the lady's cradle, and bending before her, said, 'If the master would
be pleased to allow them, they'd shift her so easy as not to shake a
breath out of her.'

Mr. Herbert thankfully accepted their offer, and when his daughter put
one arm over each neck, their satisfaction seemed complete. They
lifted her carefully, and trotting off, they only rested once; on
which one of them took the opportunity to turn his head and rub his
cuff across his eyes.

'Are you tired, my friend?' inquired Mr. Herbert.

The man shook his head, and again rubbed his eyes; then seeing that
Mr. Herbert looked pained, he muttered:

'I left a daughter at home, just like this yer, dying away; I expect
she's gone 'fore now, without a last look of her poor father. Ah, sir!
these be the bitters such as you don't know the taste of.'

The tears, now licensed, flowed apace; but he would not let go to wipe
them off--he shook them from his face, and said he was trying to feel
"twas his own maid he was heaving of.' After trying thus for some
time, forgetting everything save that he was a father, he tunned to
Emmeline:

'Be asy, my dear? grab on tight as you plase, so long a 'you'm asy.'

'A second sentencer has feelings, you see, Miss D'Urban,' whispered
Father Evermore, as again the soiled yellow cuff sought the ferret
eyes of the prisoner.

'Through the avenue or up the gates, your reverence?' inquired the
younger man.

The priest advised the latter to avoid at once the chill of the heavy
foliage, and the strong smell of the blue gum then exhaling to
perfection its perfume in the still, moist air.

'How beautiful!' cried Bridget, when, having passed through the iron
gates, all prison feelings vanished with prison reminders. To some
purpose are placed there those tall gates, if to their sentinelship is
due the quiet beauty lying onward and overwatched by the ivy-grown
church, which, striking the eye of the party as they entered the long
line of shrubbery, drew forth Bridget's encomium.

'Beautiful as it is, it was sown in blood, Miss D'Urban, as indeed we
may say of the whole civilized structure of this island.'

'Really, Mr. Evermore, you are very complimentary. I don't know
anything of this church; but I should be sorry to mix blood with my
thoughts of my country,' said Mrs. Evelyn.

'It is nevertheless a very necessary diluent, dear madam, though in
great measure I speak allegorically. Where real life-blood has been
wanting, the groaning of the prisoner, which we call heart's-blood,
has copiously flowed from every part of the colony.' Spreading his
hands courteously to attest the fact, he added, 'But the foundation of
yon church was literally the scene of murder, and the Port Arthur
legend is, that the victim's blood still gurgles in the trenches, and
causes your bishop to delay the consecration of the building.'

'Ay, and that isn't all, neither; the leads up there could tell
something if they'd tongues; they'd tell how many dollars was pinched
out of 'em by Jenkins a-sitting up there a-moulding of money,' joined
in the younger convict unable to repress an active interest in the
settlement traditions.

But traditionary tales were speedily forgotten in one more cheering to
weary pilgrims--one that was English in its utterance and colonial in
its warmth: a tide of little Harelicks rushed down the grove, shouting
a gleesome welcome; and then, smiling and matronly, the chaplain's
wife ran over the steps to conduct her friends to the parsonage, of
which, together with the clerical Protestant duties of the settlement,
Mr. Herbert had undertaken to relieve her husband for three months.

'I'm half glad you're too late for dinner, for not my means nor Opal's
invention could have produced a more substantial meal than that you
see before you, for even which you must thank the soldiers: just at
the last moment, when I was despairing of anything but navy beef for
your reception-feast, they brought in two fine trumpeters.'

But the large kind smile of their hostess was a reception--feast in
itself, as, presiding over the tea-table, she dealt out the fish,
which, fair, fresh, and solid, had not left the bay many hours before
those who now preyed on its dainty flakes.

'Short commons down here in hot weather, Miss D'Urban,' explained
Father Evermore, on seeing Bridget exploring with some curiosity what
appeared a log of boiled wood, but which, on closer inspection, turned
out to be a lump of navy beef, of age unknown.

'They don't look much like famine, at any rate,' she laughed in
answer, nodding to the tribe of sleek, ruddy Harelicks shining around
the board, and smiling, large, and comfortable as their delighted
mother, who, in her turn, smiled, extra pleased at the compliment to
her children.

'No; thank God we manage very well. When it's too hot for the boats to
bring in any meat, we can always borrow fish, eggs, or fowl; then the
store-beef is a never-failing resource.'

'But it's so nasty, mamma; the storekeeper told me the last piece was
older than papa,' ventured to suggest the boy Harelick.

Mrs. Evelyn began to frown on the culinary probabilities; but Mrs.
Harelick assured her that alarm was needless; the borrowing system
practised by the officers subserved all necessary purposes, and
rendered the absence of shops of less consequence. She showed that A.,
who keeps a cow, lends B. a pound of butter, and in return borrows a
dozen eggs. C. borrows a bottle of rum, and lends in return a wallibi,
which her husband has snared; while the soldiers are too happy to
exchange the fish they spend half their time in catching for any
trifle the cupboards of their neighbours may afford. Bridget thought
it would be much better fun to buy and sell in this primitive way than
with money; on which her aunt said, really her niece was so childish
in her notions that no one could suppose she was a young woman of
twenty; but Father Evermore gave Bridget to understand by a kind smile
that in such matters he approved of childishness even in young women;
and to further signify his approval, he told her he hoped she would
consider his quarters at her service whenever she required a nosegay
or dish of fruit.

Ere Mr. Harelick returned, Mrs. Evelyn had gone off with the children,
and Bridget with Emmeline. His countenance bore that peculiar, tired
expression so characteristic of the convict chaplain, though in a
slighter degree than that on Mr. Herbert's face.

'They'll worry me out altogether soon, Evelyn,' he said, after a brief
comparison of grievances with his clerical brother. 'I wrote a
resignation yesterday, but my wife made me destroy it; she wouldn't
let me show them how they had annoyed me; she thinks we can watch how
matters go during the time you are here, and then act when the way is
clear.'

'They must worry me quite out, or I shall not leave the department,'
replied Mr. Herbert.

'Oh! you needn't fear, you are a visitor down here, and will find
everything to your liking.'

'The redemption of the soul is precious, and it ceaseth for ever,'
murmured Mr. Herbert, following out to himself his train of thought.

'Yes; would we could think more of those poor fellows and less of
ourselves! I always tell my wife, that humbly and weakly as I preach
it, I know they have the Gospel whilst I am here, and therefore, not
knowing who may come after me, we ought to bear on to the last moment:
if you, now, Evelyn, would take my place, I'd leave to-morrow.'

Mr. Herbert shook his head; he had his own flock to care for. He
encouraged his brother to endure in all patience the trials of his
ministerial course. It might be distressing, to have the rod of lay
office so domineeringly shaken over them by uneducated, and, too
often, irreligious men; but their eyes should be toward the Chief
Bishop, who, wielding the pastoral staff, would guide them into
righteousness and peace.

'To strive to hear that Bishop's voice,' he said, 'and then to follow
it, should be the aim of our lives. It is good to hear it, better to
follow it.'

'Ah! so we say every evening, don't we, Julia? but the next morning,
when I find some fresh petty annoyance prepared--yes, prepared--for
me, I lose courage, and feel it's hard to set to work against wind and
tide, and without knowing, too, how I have offended. The last time the
Comptroller was down, he was as cool as could be; what for, I've never
yet discovered. Well, when he had gone something he had said to the
Superintendent was conveyed to me as an order from himself. Being a
first-class officer I refused to receive second-hand commands, so no
more was said about it; but they found means to pay me out, by keeping
me so short of wood that we could only have one fire in the house for
several days. When I complained blame was shifted from shoulder to
shoulder, until it was made to rest on the poor carriers, who were
threatened with cells if they neglected the parson again.'

'The apples, too, Tom--that was very shabby,' said Mrs. Harelick.

At mention of the apples, in spite of his former vexation, good-
natured Mr. Harelick burst into a hearty laugh.

'Yes, indeed; these things are so ridiculous that persons who haven't
daily to encounter them would think them too foolish to repeat.'

'Foolish or not, these things are only bearable as they are borne for
the love of Christ. It requires great grace to bear small trials;
natural heroism goes far in enabling us to support heavy troubles,'
replied Mr. Herbert, gently but firmly.

'Why, Evelyn, surely up in town, within earshot of the Comptroller,
you have not to face any of these annoyances?'

An expressive smile was the only answer.

'Oh! you needn't fear my wife, she's safe, and awake to these matters;
aren't you, Julia?'

A large, benignant smile at once rewarded his opinion of her, and
brightened the dark subject which lowered over the trio.

Mr. Herbert said he had not thought of Mrs. Harelick as an obstacle to
free speech, he considered that the more such grievances were talked
of the more they withered up the heart's best feelings. He found them
difficult enough to battle against in reality, without making
imaginary attacks upon the enemy's camp.

Wishing to avoid further exposition of 'stationary' grievances, Mr.
Herbert asked, 'How is it down here between master and men?'

'Oh! the same as ever, and the same as it ever must be whilst--'

'Now, Tom, do take care what you say,' said his wife.

'There, you see she wants to pay you off, Evelyn, because you would
not trust her just now.'

'Now, Tom, don't; I only want to put you on your guard. You never know
what ears there may be about. That was why you stopped, wasn't it, Mr.
Evelyn, and not because of me?'

'That which I have to say I would not stop for any ears. I would say
it if called before Government to-morrow.'

'Do let us hear what you have to say then, for I'm sure if you up in
Hobart have cause to speak, we down here may fairly have more cause.'

'In finishing your former speech for you, I believe I comprehend all I
have to say, and that is, that no improvement in convict difficulties
and evils can be expected till a different class of men is chosen to
work the system, nor while so much irresponsible power is vested in
one man.'

'Why, you've been foraging in my paddock! Those were almost my words
this morning, weren't they, Julia?'

'Would that I had been there trespassing, then there had not been two
witnesses to the evil; but, unfortunately, my mind has gathered its
sentiments from an original field of observation, widely extended and
darkly diversified, and has long ago arrived at the conclusion, that
half the systems which have been tried and found wanting, have been so
not so much from deficiency in themselves, as from some defect
existent in their coadjutors, in other phrase from an erroneous choice
of hands; the heads of the system have generally been well chosen.'

'Take off the head, then, and there is nothing but rottenness below,'
laughed Mr. Harelick.

'Oh, Tom!' his wife was thoroughly alarmed; hastening across the room
she bolted the door.

But Tom would not be quiet, it was so great a treat to have some one
to talk to.

'I think, though, the heart of the system is not so much amiss; it
means well, and if it could accomplish its intentions our convicts
would do famously.'

Mr. Herbert shook his head gravely and said:

'The remembrance that more than one hundred and nineteen thousand of
our fellow-creatures have been subject to the experiments and failures
of systems in these colonies affords no matter for light words.'

'Too true, indeed. The delight of at last hearing my own thoughts
echoed by others more deeply based, makes me appear light when
lightness is far from my heart. We agree so well, Evelyn, that I feel
I have a right to speak to you of the grievous subversion of power as
practised in many of these stations. Ah I it's a responsibility from
which, good Lord, deliver me.'

Poor Mrs. Harelick sat distractedly in her chair, alternately looking
from window to door, from door to chimney, for the ears she dreaded.
Because a Government House she fancied it must be full of not only
ears but eyes, and her search for them continued, till, with a
desperate gesture, she implored Tom to be quiet; however, he would go
on.

'Yes, with few exceptions, it has always appeared to me that the hands
of the system, from first to last, from first-class officer to convict
constable, are ill appointed. Now there's Turbot, except severity of
temper, what fitness is there in him to recommend him for the
important position he holds?'

'Severity of temper, perhaps,' repeated Mr. Herbert, with the least
touch of Uncle Ev curling in his lip.

'One would hope that where the good of so many hundred souls was at
stake, not even a third-class officer would be elected without an
almost solemn scrutiny of the man; but how can appointments, resulting
more from favour than from conviction, be otherwise than erring?'

'Dear, dear, when we know the power that such men, so chosen, have of
making their prisoner subjects wretched to desperation, what non-
importance falls on the little show of power wherewith they seek to
intimidate us!' and Mr. Herbert arose to put an end to the distasteful
question.

'Not if we view the show of power as part of the plan on which they
have fattened into vanity! They have exercised uncontrolled authority
so long over one Class of their brethren that their minds pall, and
they desire to stimulate their depraved appetites with a taste of the
free.'

'Tom! Tom! do mind what you say,' once more despairingly urged his
wife.

A loud rattling at the door did more towards stopping her husband than
all her 'Tom's.' It was with a redundant smile that the distressed
wife welcomed back Mrs. Evelyn and Bridget, for now she was sure the
dangerous topic would be discontinued; the chaplain wanted not
prudence when he was in unassured company.

'How is Emmeline?' asked Mr. Herbert.

'Tired out, poor dear; I've only run in to say good-night, and I'm off
to bed before she goes to sleep.'

'Talking of bed, my dear, how unnecessary of the department to give us
such very disfigured bedding, just as though Government feared we
should make away with their blankets. I really shall feel like a
convict sleeping between those Broad Arrows, and great ugly B.O.'s,
too, all over the things in that manner,' said Mrs. Evelyn.

'Alas, madam, all is B.O. down here! no one has a right to himself,
nothing is its own. You'll see the O.P.S.O. written on every man's
brow; even where the Broad Arrow is not visible on his back. The
serpent himself, as well as his trail, is perceptible in this natural
paradise.'

'No need, at any rate, to have him in the house, coiled up in such
great black B.O.'s on my little Charlie's blankets; the poor child was
quite frightened to get into his cot. He said: "Mamma, does B.O. spell
bogie?" and feeling rather cross, I answered, "Yes, of course, my
dear," when he set up such a roar that I have been ever since trying
to quiet him; even now he is sobbing in his sleep.'

'I congratulate you, ma'am; he is a fortunate child to retain his
horror of a bogie in sight of which he has lived all his life. My best
wish for Master Charles is, that B.O. may always spell bogie to him. I
fear it has long ceased to convey that meaning to my children,'
replied Mr. Harelick, tracing a large B with his finger on the table.



CHAPTER XXVI. PORT ARTHUR.--THE SETTLEMENT.


IT was many days ere Emmeline could leave her room. Her little modicum
of strength had been so drawn upon by the journey that it required
every tender appliance with perfect rest to restore her to her former
position; and long, very long, to give her a semblance of improved
health. But when the semblance did appear, it was so true to nature
that even the father was deceived by it, and a faint shadow of a just
possible joy cast on his heart a sensation long forbidden; and resting
with grateful delight under this slight shadow from the wayside heat,
he uttered a prayer that before he had not dared to breathe, 'O my
Father, if it be possible!'

Then the joy became less possible--the shadow faded--once more it
approached, again to withdraw; until the father perceived that it was
a mere mockery flitting before his path to delude his steady progress
from the well-beaten track of sanctified sorrow; and once more with
stricken but uncomplaining heart he resigned his child to the Unseen
Hand that was beckoning her step by step from this nether world.
'Nevertheless, not my will, but Thine be done.'

Devoting himself to her, he was thankful when comparative strength and
freedom from pain enabled her to enjoy the passing sweets of a softly
passing summer, which, balmy and restorative, swept over the sunny
region of Port Arthur, preserving it an Eden of fertility and
luxuriant beauty; while other less favoured parts of the island
drooped and withered prematurely into the dusky tintings of autumn.

To spare Emmeline the fatigue of a rather steep flight of stairs, Mrs.
Harelick had devoted to her special service a large front parlour on
the ground-floor. It opened on the station, and had by no means the
pleasant landscape which enlivened the upper apartments. The lovely
Bay, and the Isle of the Dead were not to be seen; but some gardens
intervening, beguiled the more immediate sight from the prison
apparatus, unescapably conspicuous on a prolonged survey from the bow-
window.

A low veranda, covered with multiflora rose, extending the length and
sides of the house, shielded the lower rooms from the scorching sun,
and gave the parsonage (otherwise bare and unfinished-looking) a
rural, picturesque appearance.

The first few days succeeding their arrival, there was no tempting
Bridget from her cousin. Not all the enchantment of the Government
gardens to which the young Harelicks invited her could entice her from
'dear old Em.' Let them bring her the rare flowers which in rich, if
not in wild exuberance wasted their sweetness on the garden air; until
Em could go with her she should not go in search of them for all the
pink acacias and ixias in the world; not she! In vain smiled Father
Evermore's courteous face; not even respect to his silver locks should
draw her to see more than she could see from the window; and that was
neither much nor pleasant, unless she sat very sidewise to get a peep
at the church and avenue descending from it. For after she had watched
the children playing in the veranda, there was nothing but the
settlement before her. We all know that distant life attracts the eye
more than nearer beauty. Whilst there is one living object moving on
an eminence before us, we must look at it, in spite of more inviting
objects. So it seemed to Bridget that she must overlook the cheerful
patches of cultivation just outside the parsonage to watch the
ceaseless yellow stream of life clanging drearily either to or from
the buildings beyond.

The first morning she was startled from her sleep at five o'clock by a
loud, quick bell that, being rung from the prison, peremptorily
sounded through the whole settlement, bidding all concerned hasten to
their day's duty. Mr. Harelick was one concerned; and ere the loud,
quick bell ceased, Bridget heard the front-door slam, and a step run
down the grove. She was not concerned, but for all that she could not
return to her disturbed sleep; besides, she wanted to know what could
be going on at that early hour.

Twilight mists had long dispersed leaving pendant over all a faint
splendour that gave promise of a speedy outburst of dazzling glory.
Her heart leaped within her as, gently pushing aside the shutter, she
saw the rising sun. She felt as if something ought to happen on so
bright a day; and glad thoughts fluttered within her, impatient to
take rosy flight from their narrow bounds. How beautiful everything
must look in this summer weather! Last night, in the darkness, it was
fair enough, she said to herself; and opening the shutter a little
more, she peeped out. There hung the silent splendour, but over
what?--a plain peopled with living misery--a surge of human suffering
heaved the settlement into a life so slow, so heavy, that all the
brightness of the day could not stimulate it into more than lethargic
movement--still slow and cold and heavy, it moved in one unbroken
mass; the sun might shine or it might lower for all that dead vitality
seemed to care. But slow movements neither suit prison stations nor
penal servitude. What sun or cheerful weather cannot do, must be done
by other means.

Once more a bell rang. Then louder, sharper, and quicker than it,
several voices of command were heard. The mass of pied yellow
separated into sections, and to the 'Get up' and 'Go on' of constables
and overseers diverged to the four outlets of Port Arthur. The boat's
crew passed to the water's edge; the wood-fellers to Opossum Bay; the
road-gang towards Safety Cove; the settlement servants to their
several masters; and one party, harnessed to carts, wag driven up the
main road, through the grove, and by the parsonage, when Bridget,
still peeping out, recognised Forbes in the last of the men. He could
not go so quickly as the others; he was therefore assisted on his way
by alternate bruises and shoves--these from his fellow-prisoners when
pushed against them by the cart--those from the cart when repelled by
its onward movement.

Bridget hastily closed the shutters, and sighed:

'There's no good in anything beautiful! Oh how I wish--'

She stopped, remembering her cousin; but Emmeline was awake, and had
been watching Bridget's varying countenance as she discovered
wretchedness where she sought for happiness, and darkness where she
had looked for light.

'Oh, Em--Em--if "Thy kingdom come" means an end to all these things,
I'm sure I'll cry it with every breath I have. Fancy, five hundred
convicts, all miserable! I feel as if I had no right to be happy. It
shows we are wicked, or we couldn't enjoy ourselves. Angels couldn't
if they lived here; that's why they don't, I suppose.'

A sudden stop to the up-and-down clanking of the chains and rumbling
of the carts, together with a sort of scuffling sound, brought Bridget
once more to the window.

The party had drawn up just above her; she saw Forbes drop his hands,
and lean resolutely back on the cart.

'I can't go on--I'm not used to it.'

'Go on, you--schemer!' shouted the overseer.

'I can't; I shall drop if I move another step.'

'Go on there, and leave him to follow.'

Bob Pragg was the leader; he attempted to move, but the two men behind
him, resisting his effort, pulled him back. They would not run down a
fellow-creature and a comrade for all that he had been a gentleman;
one of them turned and said:

'Sir, we shall pull him down, and we can't do that.'

Forbes tried once more to get on; he gave a few short steps, and again
dropped, whispering to his fellows:

'I would if I could. Don't mind me; go on.'

But not a man, save Pragg, would stir, and his attempt was futile
against a dozen drawbacks.

Again Forbes made a desperate effort; his hands fell, his knees
tottered, and then he sank to the ground between the shafts of the
cart.

"Twould serve the---rascal right if I drove you over him,' growled the
overseer.

Pragg seemed to think it would; but a low curse escaped from the other
men. Forbes was unharnessed and made to stand, while Pragg, loosened
from the party, was sent for a constable to take off the unfortunate
man.

Mr. Herbert, who had also been aroused by the prison bell, having
heard the scuffle, came out to inquire the cause, and just at that
moment Mr. Harelick issued from the avenue on his return from morning
prayers.

'This man should not have been sent out this morning; he had work
enough yesterday to fatigue a stronger frame,' said Mr. Herbert.

'It's his own fault--he's scheming; of course he's weak to-day because
he wouldn't eat his rations last night or this morning, so he's come
out to look after his appetite; he'll find it on the road somewhere
'fore the day's out, I reckon.'

Mental pain writhed not only in every feature, but also in every
muscle of Forbes's attenuated frame. Wounded sensitiveness seemed to
ooze through his long, slim fingers, as, nervously twitching them, he
worked them into each other. He once or twice tried to raise his eyes
to the two clergymen; but the glance was so furtive in its haste that
both hoped he would fix it anywhere save on them.

'Is this true, Forbes?' said Mr. Herbert.

'True, sir--true? Do you know it's against the laws down here to
question an officer before his men?'

'I beg your pardon; I should not think of questioning you. I spoke to
the prisoner, Forbes,' said Mr. Herbert, politely inclining his head,
and then in the same quiet voice: 'Is this true, Forbes?'

'Sir, it's against our rules.'

'I follow no rules but those of humanity, Mr. Overseer. Is it true,
Forbes?'

'I could not take my rations, sir. I've asked to go into the hospital,
but they say I am malingering, and refuse to admit me.'

'The cell shall be your only hospital; take him off; these are my
notes, give them at the office,' bellowed the overseer.

The constable bore him off, and he was arraigned at the bar of penal
justice for insolence, refractoriness, and attempt at mutiny; his
punishment was accordingly heavy. Those who had refused to stir on his
account were likewise punished as mutineers--Pragg exulted; his
praiseworthy support of the overseer met with its reward in the
credit-book.

But much had to be done that day. The family of Harelicks would leave
to-morrow, when Mr. Herbert must enter on the external, and Mrs.
Evelyn on the internal, duties of the parsonage; before then, both
must be duly inaugurated to their respective posts. The latter were
more novel to Mrs. Evelyn than were the former to her brother-in-law.
Morning prayers at five, cells, prison, hospital, school, and evening
prayer, formed his daily routine, weekly diversified by the Sunday
services in the church, a ride to Eagle Hawk Neck for a service with
the soldiers, and to Norfolk Bay for the same purpose. Mrs. Evelyn
went round with her friend to learn the various modes of domestic
existence in the unfeminine district of Port Arthur, where the total
absence of female servants made the position of the lady of the house
one of real work. The two eldest girl Harelicks had been the little
housemaids, one going her regular round with pail, broom, and duster,
the other making up the B.O. beds with all the gravity of an old
nurse. Clothes-washing, scrubbing, cooking, and such labours were
performed by the men. The ironing and bread and butter making fell to
the mistress, and woe to her in the summer heat if no friendly
assistance was near to lend a hand at the heavy fortnightly ironing!

The storeroom perfectly delighted Mrs. Evelyn. It was a spacious
apartment intended for the drawing-room; but as the withdrawing of
stores was a more frequent occurrence than the withdrawing of company
from the dining-parlour, Mr. Harelick's predecessor had turned the
said room into a victualling depot, where now Mrs. Evelyn's eye
rejoiced over every imaginable supply, necessary to life if not to
luxury and that in a degree of abundance which made her think little
of her own pride at home. Mrs. Harelick said she was fortunate in
leaving her friend a treasure in the form of a cook, by the name of
Opal--a Chinaman prisoner, whose present sin was that of absconding,
whose former crime had been a passionate attempt to murder his master.
He was a professed cook, and prior to his second conviction had
received thirty shillings a week at the best confectioner's in Hobart
Town.

'You have only to give him the materials,' said Mrs. Harelick, 'and
without further orders dinner after dinner will come up without your
knowing how. It is wonderful to see the nice dishes he makes out of
the roughest materials and not a scrap wasted. Let us go into the
kitchen to him.'

'Opal, here is your new lady.'

'All light den--Opal welly glad--hope she nice lady, no scold, no give
poor chain-gang trouble.'

Mrs. Evelyn proceeded to open the cupboard, when, emitting a noise as
if he had been driving pigs out of a potato-yard, Opal hurried over,
shut the door upon the shelves, and put the key in his pocket. Mrs.
Evelyn looked both offended and surprised, but Mrs. Harelick only
laughed.

'You mustn't pry into his mysteries! He won't do anything if you do.
In there he has innumerable little plates full of what would only seem
useless scraps to you; but wait and see. He'd as soon throw a
scrubbing-brush at you as look if you meddled with his dishes--not out
of disrespect, though, or anger, but because he thinks that is the
shortest way of showing his disapprobation.'

This did not please Mrs. Evelyn; she thought a made dish by no means
compensated for a scrubbing-brush at her head. But Mrs. Harelick
pacified her, saying there was no fear, Opal was the gentlest creature
so long as his cupboard was safe from intrusion. He never grumbled at
his work, whether it was washing the clothes with lime, or digging in
the vegetable-garden. A few materials to turn into condiments always
put him in a good temper and in capital spirits.

Mrs. Evelyn learnt that Government allowed two servants; the other,
therefore, was employed as nurse, walking about the settlement with
the baby and younger children as demurely as any female. Mrs. Evelyn
was thinking she should not like this at all, when the man in question
entered the kitchen, and the babe clung so fondly round his neck, and
kissed and smoothed his tanned face with such unmistakable tokens of
good will, that she forbore to express her feelings, determining that
her child might after all fare worse in a woman's arms.

The outhouses were visited in the evening, when the live-stock--
comprising three cows, three goats, one horse, some fowls, a cat,
kitten, and three large dogs--were bodily delivered to Mrs. Evelyn.
The goats' milk was dedicated to nursery use, the cows' to house
consumption, butter, and barter. The parsonage being considered the
second dairy in the station, the officers were too glad to borrow its
delicious contents on any article they could produce; but Mrs.
Harelick said she always reserved some of the butter for the soldiers,
who in return gave her the choice of their finest fish. The cows and
goats were daily taken out to forage near Safety Cove. Opal had merely
to leave them at the Government dairy at seven a.m., when the former,
joining the cowherd's drove, and the latter the goatherd's, were led
out to pasture, and no more was seen of either until the evening, when
the low of the one and the bleat of the other at the back gate
announced milking-hour and tea-time. A stranger dropping into Port
Arthur, and coming suddenly on the picturesque herdsman reclining
under the shade of some flowering tree, dreaming away the long hours
of the day surrounded by his seventy goats, may fancy he has alighted
on some Elysian sanctuary of the shepherds which has escaped the
general ruin of the fall, or at any rate the destructive march of
civilization. But, questioning the happy dreamer, his own dream
dissipates before the everlasting O.P.S.O. of the herdsman's talk, and
the Broad Arrow on his back. He finds that the man's thoughts dwell
indeed on love and home, but not of a sweetheart whom the shades of
evening will restore to him, but of one for ever sundered by rolling
miles of ocean and insurmountable depths of degradation. His Phyllis
never owns him more, and as for his home, he has a Government lodging
down there in the station; but hell may just as well be home as that.
His home? Ah! where is it? The place thereof knows him no more.

The stranger may inquire, if all this be true, why does Government
trust you with so much unguarded liberty? When your home longings burn
within you in your solitude what is there to prevent your escaping
through the tempting opportunity offered by the unfrequented bush
before you?

The herdsman, sure at last that he is not being mocked, looks up and
asks, with a grin of hopelessness:

'Do you know your maps? Look at Eagle Hawk Neck; and if it isn't
marked down, just ride over to it this afternoon, and you'll soon find
out WHY they trusts me.'

The stranger may take the hint, and devote the afternoon to a solving
of the goatherd's problem. After a ten miles' ride he reaches the
Eagle Hawk Neck, and finds it is neither falsely named nor a luring
bait to the chain-weary captives of Port Arthur. He returns from the
fiercely-guarded bar of sand, which, stretching to the mainland, forms
the only possible outlet from the peninsula. He returns, no longer
wondering why the lonely convict does not escape, but more fearfully
wondering that one is ever found so reckless of life so utterly
despising death, as to venture into the certain detection, if not
destruction, awaiting him at the Neck, where, if he elude the military
watch--or, more dread and vigilant, the ferocious dogs chained across
the isthmus--he has still to fling himself on the mercy of the
pitiless surf, and dodge the hungry shark. And yet he is told that
many desperate men have thus attempted escape, and of them one or two
have emerged from the jaws of death, and, landing on the other side,
have become bye-words in the annals of crime and infamy.

When the station-gates closed on her friends, Mrs. Evelyn entered at
once on her own plans and alterations: all traces of the recent out-
turn soon disappeared before her finishing touches. Opal was given
fairly to understand that his cupboards would be subject to
inspection, and that no scrubbing-brushes were to be thrown at the
children. Danby, the nurseman, was cautioned against kissing, or
permitting kisses from the little girl (still the baby of the Evelyn
family); then supreme and happy Mrs. Evelyn moved glibly about,
satisfied even with the B.O.'s peeping from every corner, for they
served to remind her that she enjoyed the large house rent free.

The station-gates had scarcely closed upon his friends ere Mr. Herbert
locked himself into the study and there passed the morning in earnest
prayer for his penal flock, that a blessing might attend his labours
among them. He then sallied forth to hold his first service in the new
cells chapel. Returning thence to the parsonage, he went to his
daughter's room, and seating himself by her, she soon discovered that
some perplexity worked in his mind; he promptly answered her look of
inquiry by saying:

'It has always been a surprise to me, that our Church, having so
tenderly provided for all estates of her children, should have
overlooked the prisoner. Never have I more painfully felt the omission
than this afternoon, when, holding a service in the cells chapel, I
had to read the Liturgy as prepared for general worshippers, to a
congregation, who, if they felt at all, must have felt how much of
what they heard was inapplicable to themselves.'

Taking up Wilcox's Prayer-book, which lay on Emmeline's table, he
turned over the leaves and read the titles of the different services.

'Here we have anticipated every position of fallen man, save that
which is so painfully brought before us in these penal states.'

'It cannot be that our Church rejects this unfortunate class?' said
Emmeline.

'God forbid, my child! not while she professes to be the messenger of
Him who came to seek and to save that which was lost, nor while she
re-echoes that blessed voice, "Come unto Me, all ye that are weary and
heavy laden, and I will give you rest." But it appears that she has
forgotten there must ever be a portion of her family excluded by sin
from the family altar, and therefore requiring a separate
administration.' He remained silent and in deep thought, then, shaking
his head as if to negative some mental suggestion, he exclaimed.

'I cannot see a clear way before me. In my own church where the free
unite in equal proportions with the bond, and parts inapplicable to
the latter may be supposed to be addressed to the former, I do not so
much perceive the necessity for a special service; but here the
necessity must be obvious to all, and where I have officiated this
afternoon, where the congregation is composed of outcasts from the
worst outcasts, the necessity for a special service becomes paramount.
It is a difficulty that increases on my conscience, and will
eventually lead me to renounce the public cell service, unless the
authorities permit me to compile from our Liturgy a form for the use
of those prisoners and captives so touchingly prayed for in the
Litany; and a very beautiful form could be extracted with but little
trouble.'

'Beautiful, indeed,' said Emmeline, a bright recollective glance
kindling in her eye. Then, folding her hands and shutting her eyes, in
a low voice she repeated that exquisite prayer in the Litany,
commencing, 'We humbly beseech Thee, O Father, mercifully to look upon
our infirmities,' etc.

'Yes, that, with the confession and a few other prayers would be well
chosen to express the feeling of those who have visibly and outwardly
strayed from the right way. God knows, when we come to speak of that
spiritual way marked out by the Saviour's blood, we have all need to
look to ourselves and pray with redoubled earnestness those prayers we
would put into our fellow-sinners' lips.'

'But, papa, what is there to prevent your using your own discretion in
selecting prayers for the convicts?'

'In visiting from cell to cell, of course nothing--I am at liberty to
suit my teaching to the case; but in the public services, much. Our
position is as unfortunate as undefined. Any attempt at reform, even
in our own province, is regarded with a jealous eye by the secular
powers, and we cannot appeal to the bishop without giving an offence
which I am unwilling to give--for a house divided against itself
cannot stand. I have often thought of submitting to his lordship a
compilation from the Church Prayer-book for my prison use, but have
hitherto refrained, hoping the necessity for such a form would present
itself to the convict rulers; it has not, however, done so here,
whatever improvements may elsewhere have taken place. You are weary,
dear. It is naughty of me to come troubling you, is it not?'

'Very; and more naughty of me to wish to know what harasses my
father's mind.'

'If I tell you what troubles me now, will you promise to assist me out
of it?'

Emmeline smiled ready acquiescence.

'Bridget informs me you are thinking of going to church on Sunday?'

'Oh! that is unkind. I had made a nice little plan for creeping into
the pew unseen by anyone; that is treachery, Bridgy.'

'Only to you, though, and in a right cause. I'm not going to let you
kill yourself for all the churches in Tasmania.'

'It is only just outside the veranda,' pleaded Emmeline but she
quickly yielded on seeing her father's anxiety, and Bridget undertook
to be all attention in order to bring back a correct edition of her
uncle's sermon, which he had told them was to be from the text, 'By
the fear of the Lord men depart from evil.'

On the Sunday morning the bells chimed out cheerily as though they
called a free population to a sabbath rest but the holy day afforded
no respite, though it varied the weekly routine.

Very sorrowful was Mr. Herbert's face as, gazing around the church, he
perceived how the insignia of crime and force darkened the sanctuary
of God into another form of prison. Here, at his right hand, stood the
armed guard of soldiers, pointing their muskets in solemn mockery of
the peace that he should declare. The peace of God, he had to preach.
What peace? silently sneered the musket's mouth. Bridget had not yet
dared to look up--she feared what she should see. But when her uncle
commenced the service, 'I will arise and go to my father,' there was
so sudden, so tremendous a rush of chains, that she had no choice to
refrain from looking. She hastily turned and beheld some hundreds of
her fellow-creatures arrayed in the vast amphitheatre before her.
There stood the hardened ruffian; there stood the heartbroken
penitent; there stood the gray-haired criminal side by side with the
mere youth; there stood every degree of guilt mingled into one dingy
mass of yellow. Her heart sickened at the sight, yet she could not
withdraw her eyes from the closely-cropped sea of heads, until, with
one simultaneous movement, down they all dived to the confession.
Again they all uprose. The hum of the responses blended with the
occasional clank of fetters, or every now and then was wholly drowned
in the combined rattle of the many hundred irons. Bridget no longer
wondered that Mr. Herbert felt the impropriety of the service, it was
a pain to hear it even.

'Holy! holy! holy! Lord God of Sabaoth,' devoutly exclaimed Mr.
Herbert.

'Heaven and earth are full of the majesty of Thy glory,' replied the
several hundred voices under dread of punishment, and several hundred
chains prolonged the response in one dull vibration, which conveyed
but a faint idea of the majestic glory spoken of.

'That it may please Thee to bless and keep the magistrates, giving
them grace to execute justice and maintain truth,' prayed Mr. Herbert.

'We BESEECH Thee to hear us, good Lord,' one-voiced responded the men,
glancing, with peculiar earnestness, towards the magistrates' seat, as
though grace would fall acceptably in the direction of that large
green pew. The service concluded. While Mr. Herbert changed his robes,
the hymn was given out and commenced. It was adapted to a Hallelujah
chorus. Just as he appeared in the pulpit, the first verse finished,
and the leader of the choir began the chorus; then from those hundred
convict lips burst forth that lofty strain wherewith angelic hosts
sound their great Creator's praise--louder--still louder--and yet more
loud at each new breath arose the Hallelujah, but louder than the
loudest chorus outpealed a deafening clangour of chains, as in their
energy to outvie each other the men threw back their heads and shook
their ironed limbs. Outswelled the heavy clangour, and a fearful
mockery of the enraptured song smote upward, lingering in the roof
like the rolling bass of distant thunder. They were about to begin the
second verse, when Mr. Herbert raised his hands, saying, 'Let us
pray.' The chains clattered down and once more arose. Mr. Herbert
waited till the last rattle had died away. Then instead of the text
Bridget expected, came a deep, rich voice, as delivering a message
from another world:

'The spirit of the Lord is upon me! He hath sent me to bind up the
brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captive, and the opening of
the prison to them that are bound.'

Swift with a message from his God, the iron of those chains had
entered his heart; and who should stay his lips that he declare it
not?

Once launched in settlement life, no variation broke the wearying
sameness of Mr. Herbert's ministerial routine--cells, prison,
hospital, sin, sickness, strife, and he had gone through his work for
the week. Monday morning brought the same list of duty, the same
cheerless ground to be trodden, the same tale to be told, the same
difficulties to battle, the same discouragements to bear up against,
but through these all there was the same God in heaven, saying 'I am
thy strength and thy shield;' the same Jesus whispering, 'Lo, I am
with you alway;' the same Holy Ghost the Comforter, invisibly
refreshing the streams of grace; the same bright crown o'erhanging,
'Be thou faithful unto death;' and--alas! that he must drop from the
mount of glory (but so it is ever in this fickle world)--the same
immortal souls living in death and dying in life, sinking, sinking,
sinking. So, how should not the cloud oppress his brow, for all that
his own eternal prospect is clear as the morning without clouds?

The family, too, had few interruptions to its quiet monotony--churning
and ironing days were the grandest changes; these, however, occurred
so regularly that they were hardly to be recognised as changes. The
disappearance--or, rather, the non-return--of Danby, the nurseman,
from the muster-ground caused a little excitement, and afterwards a
great deal of extra work, for it was found that his absence was
involuntary, being occasioned by an award of three days' solitary,
amount due for five minutes' lateness at the muster. In like manner
Opal disappeared for a week, one of his cows having chosen to break
through penal rule and run home through the Government garden instead
of through the appointed road; she, of course, would not have
understood cells, so the Chinaman became her substitute--both were
B.O., bodily distinction was unnecessary.

These excitements involved creature-suffering, therefore they were not
agreeable to the parsonage family. Once a reported shipwreck really
did bring some earnest blood into the pale face of the settlement, all
was hurry and bustle when the screams of the unfortunate crew were
pronounced to be audible to everyone except the individual speaking.
All the available males of the station turned out for Safety Cove, the
scene of the catastrophe, and the boat's crew was sent off to assist
the foundering wretches. Meanwhile, the vessel, quietly rounding Cape
Pillar, was wholly innocent of the imputed wreck; the cries of her
crew could only be traced to a set of station urchins, who were
concluding a spree among the ruins of Point Puer, by exhibiting their
voices in the form of echoes amid the deserted buildings. And they who
had ridden out to the cove one mass of benevolent feeling returned
singly to the station, dropping in at slow intervals with feelings no
longer benevolent, but such as it may be supposed possessed the fox
which was invited to supper and sent supperless away.

At last, however, a substantial surprise came upon the family--a
surprise that made them feel somewhat in the position of prisoners.
One steamer-day, Charlie ran in with the unwelcome tidings that the
boat's crew had just brought word from Norfolk Bay that the Kangaroo
was laid up and unfit for service.

'How ever shall we get back then?' cried Mrs. Evelyn.

The answer could only be: 'Here you are, and here you must remain,
unless you brave the Neck, or venture in an open boat.'

'How shall we get Maida down?' thought Mr. Herbert and inquired
Emmeline and Bridget.

Answer not more hopeful: 'She can't come unless she go the land route
with the postman, or except she turn horseman and make her way over
the bush.'

To Uncle Ev, all alone in Hobart Town, the news was equally
unpleasant. He wearied of bachelor life, and became impatient for the
end of May, which was to restore his family to him. But to Mr. Herbert
it came fraught with suspense and anxiety, crushing upon his heart--a
weight for which he could not account.

When Mr. Herbert had to return for a short time to Hobart Town, Mrs.
Evelyn declared it was a shame to leave unprotected women; she would
not stay alone in the parsonage when it had been announced that
absconders were out, and among them that notorious Bob Pragg, whose
cold-blooded ferocity was known to all. Mr. Herbert told her that she
need not be alarmed, Pragg having effectually escaped through the Neck
to the mainland, whilst his companions had been recaptured. Though her
fears were overruled, it was with no good grace she saw her brother-
in-law depart; she foreboded that on his return he would find them
murdered. Nevertheless, Mr. Herbert arrived in town, and thence back
to the peninsula, without any notable occurrence having taken place,
except we mention that Opal, out of pure love to Emmeline, had managed
to spin one pound of gravy-beef into such a multiplicity of sausages,
that every person connected their number with the loss of the kitten;
but no confession could be extorted from him; he merely giggled with a
cunning leer, and said he 'didn't tink nothing too fine for dat nice
laddie wid de vely light face, what smiles so sweet on dis poor
chaingang '--his mode of pronouncing prisoner. He made no secret of
his attachment. Much to Bridget's delight and Mrs. Evelyn's annoyance,
he would frequently say: 'Opal luff dat plitty light laddie vely
much.' His mistress would correct him with: 'Love isn't a proper word
for you, Opal;' on which, with troubled countenance, he would confess
his ignorance of correct language, and apologize by explaining that
what he felt was 'great, big, large, there,' laying his hand upon his
heart to show where. Nor was his love all idle vaunt. Emmeline owed
much of her enjoyment at Port Arthur to this her Chinese worshipper.
One day when she was fatigued with a short stroll in the Government
gardens, Opal chanced to enter the room. He surveyed her in silence
for some time, then, giving one of his peculiar grunts, he started off
to the lumber-house--shortly returning to the veranda with four small
wheels and the spring of a child's carriage. Presenting these to Mr.
Herbert, he asked leave to make his lady a coach. Mr. Herbert
assented, willing to gratify the poor youth. In the course of a week
he produced a most primitive little vehicle, which was no less than a
packing-case laid on the wheels; but, simple as it was, this original
conveyance became a valuable accession to Emmeline's comfort, for with
the help of shawls and cushions she made it a means of moving from
place to place among the beauties of the country. Never shone Opal's
ample gums and tiny teeth more brilliantly than when he was appointed
to the honour of drawing his ladye-love. He had a few set phrases by
which he inquired into her state of ease; beyond these he never
ventured on familiarity. A smile from Emmeline repaid him for the most
elaborate journey or painstaking pull; a word was payment towards the
next debt. He was at first disposed to regard Maida's subsequent
arrival with suspicion, but after some days, on finding that there was
room enough for both he recovered his equanimity; and perceiving, by a
sort of intuition, that her path, though parallel, was widely removed
from his, he contentedly classed her with Bridget as a claimant on his
young mistress's affection.

In fact, Maida was a myth to him; he kept at a respectful distance
from her, and would persist in calling her ma'am, giving it as his
private opinion that 'she was a bigger ma'am than the other ma'am,'
which other was Mrs. Evelyn.



CHAPTER XXVII. A DAY DREAM AND NIGHT VISION.


MEANWHILE Mr. Evelyn remained in Hobart Town. The family had been gone
just three weeks when Maida, having received her discharge from H.M.G.
Hospital, was sent to the Lodge under a constable's care. Stephens,
the new servant, opened the door and refused to admit her; he said 'he
didn't know nothing about a Government woman called Maida Gwynnham,
and he wasn't going for to let anyone in while the master was out. If
she'd like to wait till four o'clock to speak to him she might, but as
he had gone to Kangaroo Point 'twas a chance if he'd be back; certain
he wouldn't after four.'

So Maida was forced to wander about the garden under the constable's
eye, while every now and then Stephens would peep out to see that she
was a true woman, and no spy on the master's property. Four o'clock
struck, and, no Mr. Evelyn appearing, he insisted that the officer
should take her away to the Brickfields. The man argued that she might
be let by the morning, and then Mr. Evelyn would kick up one of his
rows which everybody felt from his Excellency downwards. But Stephens
said "twas past hiring hours, and very like if the master was really
minded to have the woman Gwynnham, he'd step over to the Brickfields
and hire her out before she could be let to anyone else.'

So Maida was turned adrift in the Hiring Depot, and once more made to
put on the prison clothes that she had only that afternoon exchanged
for her own. In an instant she was surrounded by her old shipmates, of
whom about twenty were congregated in the yard. Their bloated,
hardened faces told her how much they had improved by transportation
and association with crime. One extolled a spree she had enjoyed with
the constable on her way to the Brickfields, and another shamelessly
declared that she had been in 'Cage' for two children, and she
expected very soon to go in for a third, only she hoped to be hired
out till it was quite time. Disgusted and fatigued, Maida asked if she
might retire to rest, and, on plea of her having just come from the
hospital, permission was granted. But there was no rest in the ward
from either the filth or strife of tongues--the torrent of
contamination flowed freely--the better disposed were obliged to hear
what the vicious chose to relate. In the morning Maida was put to some
labour, and then with the other women was turned into the yard. She
retired as far as possible from her companions, and sat down on a
stone to feel more vividly than ever the utter degradation of her lot;
yet more calmly than ever to shut her feelings within her breast.
Drooping thus, she was aroused by a sudden cry of pleasure.

'Why, Maida! you here?' and Lucy ran over to her. Sanders was with
her; he approached, equally pleased to see his old mate.

'Well, Madda, 'tain't trouble, I hope, that brings you here? us is
come to look out a woman!'

There was no small inflation of vanity in his voice and person as he
made this declaration.

Lucy explained:

'So long as one of us is T. L., you know, we can have a servant--Lor',
Maida, think of me having one! but Bob says he will, and nothing shall
stop him, and that, too, before baby is born.'

She suddenly blushed and looked so exactly like the Lucy of olden
days, that Maida kissed her forthwith. What plunged her in so sudden a
confusion was only confided to Robert's ear.

She beckoned him over to a corner of the yard and whispered something.
Bob listened awhile and seemed to share his little wife's confusion:
he then told Lucy he thought 'twould 'do first rate--but darned if he
could propose it.'

'Oh, Bob, I couldn't! you'll do it beautiful, you says everything so
clever and nice; besides, you are Ticket and I'm not.'

So, in the pride of T. L.-ism, strode Robert Sanders over to Maida;
Lucy following timidly and on tiptoe, for fear she should disturb her
husband's grand intention.

'I say, Madda, we've talked at it, and if you've a will to it, we'll
hire you out and give 'e just what the master did. Us'll get on fine
together, darned if we won't!'

Whilst this was being uttered, Lucy peeped shyly from between her
hands, but directly it had gone forth beyond hope of recall, she bent
eagerly forward, and every bright feature said, 'Will you, Maida? Will
you?'

Maida waited a moment, and then, smiling kindly, replied:

'Do you ask, or command me, Sanders? I believe I dare not refuse if
you choose to hire me.'

Bob seemed enchanted! his T. L. was glorified beyond his fondest
ambition; he stroked his hair in quiet enjoyment, and, nodding
sideways, answered:

'Well, believe I could, but I won't foss you--don't like foss, it's
darned hard to bear; if you don't like it, us won't ask up to the
depot,' as he called the depot.

'Then, thanking you for your very kind offer, I think I had better
decline; but as for going with you, I would as soon be your servant as
anybody's.'

Another stroke of approval, but Lucy exclaimed, he bright face
clouding with shocked disappointment:

'Oh, Maida! not our servant, I never thought of that; I meant you to
come along and be one of us; we both love you, don't we, Bob?'

Bob only shook his locks, and uttered his expletive, 'Darned!'

A carriage drove into the yard, and the friendly talk was suspended,
for an officer called for Maida Gwynnham.

A lady leaned from the carriage and surveyed her from head to foot:

'Are you a needlewoman?'

'I can use my needle, ma'am, but I am engaged; I believe my late
master will be here for me presently.'

'We have nothing to do with late masters; if I choose to take you out,
you must either go with me or to Cascades.'

Turning to the matron:

'The woman's insolent, I'm afraid she wouldn't do for me; that sort of
nose is always a sign of impudence.'

At this moment Mr. Evelyn's loud 'Ahem' was heard, and turning round,
Maida saw her master hastening up the path. He raised his hat to the
lady.

'I beg your pardon, but this woman is my servant; I have come to fetch
her out.'

'Not if I choose to take her, sir; she says the same thing, but it is
entirely contrary to convict rule.'

'I'm afraid, sir, the lady is right,' whispered the matron; 'the more
so as Gwynnham came in without even the pretence of belonging to
anyone else.'

'I have paid for her at the hospital for two months, in order to
secure her to my family,' replied Mr. Evelyn.

'No matter, sir,' bowed the lady, 'she came in here to be hired by the
first comer.'

'I cannot contend with a lady; if, therefore, I renounce my right to
her, will you concede her to me?' asked Mr. Evelyn courteously.

'It's enough to spoil the creature!' ejaculated the grandee, falling
back in her seat.

She was selfish, and thought a servant worthy of so great a fuss must
be worthy of her; she pondered a moment, and then inquired in a
superciliously playful tone:

'Well, sir, who is to have the woman?'

'It is for you to decide; I would not disappoint a lady.'

There was more anxiety in his manner than he cared should appear; this
was not lost either upon Maida or her would-be mistress.

'Well, then, since the gentleman declines you, jump upon the box, you
Gwynnham,' said the lady with a forced laugh; 'and I suppose I must go
into the hiring-room and signify my wishes.'

She stepped from the carriage; Mr. Evelyn assisted her to the office-
door, and then firmly but politely said:

'Understand, if you please, that I have not declined the woman, but
that you have taken her from me.'

A haughty bow was the only answer.

'And I must beg, if you do not find her what you wish, that you will
favour me by letting me know before you dispose of her,' continued Mr.
Evelyn.

'Anyone is welcome to a convict that leaves my house! Sure to be mere
refuse if I send them off.'

She vanished within the depot, and Mr. Evelyn returned to Maida, who
was now seated on the box.

'Maida, my woman, I'm sorry for this; you've slipped through my
fingers.'

'Do not distress yourself, sir; I thank you for your interference,
though it has been unsuccessful.'

The lady now appeared, and Mr. Evelyn hastily whispered:

'Remember you are mine, if you leave your present mistress.'

The carriage drove on--a last and sinister bow the only further
acknowledgment of Mr. Evelyn's presence.

Maida was borne away to one of the many elegant villas surrounding New
Town.

A footman opened the door, and Mrs. Patterley consigned her new
servant to his care, saying:

'Take this woman, and after she has cleansed herself, send her up to
my dressing-room.'

Shortly after Maida went to her mistress, who abruptly commenced,
'You'll soon find out what your work is.'

'I understood I was engaged to be needlewoman.'

'I want sewing done; but that is only when you've nothing else to do--
you are to be parlour-maid; in fact, you are to be anything I choose--
I never allow any airs.'

Maida was retreating.

'Stop, woman; don't be so impatient; I've something to say to you--are
you paying attention? Well, then--I've a son downstairs--mind I see no
improper conduct towards him, or you'll go off to Cascades. I've sent
away ever so many Government women on his account--they're such a vile
set; it's quite a nuisance to have them about--go--that's all, only
mind what you're about. You don't bear a very good character in that
way already.'

Maida hurried out, for indignation burned within her.

It was some days after this that her young master came into the
dining-room when she was laying the cloth; he whistled about the
parlour for a minute or two, and then, standing at the other end of
the table, said:

'I say, where did you get those splendid eyes of yours?' Maida
answered not.

'I only want you to look at me--you're so handsome.'

He went towards her, she laid down her tray and walked to the door;
but it being nearer to him than to her, Mr. Patterley sprang over and
placed his back against it, then tapping her on the cheek, he said:

'Now, give me a look, or you shan't pass.'

Maida did look; he did not wish for a second.

'Oh! I say, I don't mean like that; that isn't what a feller calls
pleasing--look at me with those rare purple eyes of yours, the same as
I've seen you star-gazing sometimes, enough to make a feller wild.'

'I warn you, sir, not to provoke me too far, for I am passionate, and
might be tempted to strike you.'

'Strike away, then, pretty one!' said Mr. Patterley, bending his face
forward.

And Maida struck him a real, good hard blow, sufficient to arouse both
rage and redness.

'You contemptible wretch! I'll have you punished.'

As he uttered these words, his mother sailed into the room.

'The old story! Really these Government women are the pests of one's
life. Edward, surely you must give them encouragement?'

'Of course I do, mother; what man resists the--'

'What have you done to your face?' interrupted Mrs. Patterley.

'I struck him, ma'am; and I shall again if he comes near me.'

A loud ring at the bell was the only answer.

'Fetch a constable! this woman's going--'

'To the Brickfields, ma'am?' bowed the footman.

'No, to the police-station.'

Maida was locked in a room until the constable's arrival, and then
duly given into charge--she was marched off to the Court.

'But, I say, mother, it will be awkward for me to appear against her:
I must acknowledge that I teased her before she struck me.'

'Oh, never mind, my dear, you needn't appear; I'll go for you.'

So on the morrow, Maida was brought up, and Mrs. Patterley appeared
against her, accusing her of insolence and improper conduct; on the
strength of which complaint she was sentenced to a month's
imprisonment with cells.

'I have nothing to say against the charge, except that it is all a
lie--nor against my punishment, except that it is unjust!' exclaimed
Maida, when the magistrate advised her to avoid trouble for the
future.

In reply to which speech the magistrate thought it would take quite
another month to cool the prisoner properly down and, therefore,
amidst the laughter of the Court, he sentenced her to a second month
with hard labour.

Mrs. Patterley was then driven back to her luxurious home, and Maida
was conveyed in the prison-van to the Cascades, there to be lowered by
skillet, wasted by severe labour, and worried by every species of
indignity, but not all this until she had first been subdued by a
protracted confinement in the dark cells.

She had been in the establishment about seven weeks, when, for some
distasteful answer to one of the petty officers, she was ordered three
days' solitary; she was just at the end of the second day when the
door suddenly unlocked, and Mr. Herbert stood before her--he could not
at first see her.

'Maida, are you there?' he asked: his voice was low and tremulous.
Maida did not reply.

'Why don't you come forward, there?' said the officer who accompanied
Mr. Herbert; 'the light will shine in presently, sir, then you will
see her; she's the most troublesome case we've got.'

Maida came forward, trying to look unconcerned; but the light caused
her to close her eyes.

'Can I be left with her?' inquired Mr. Herbert.

'Well, sir, I suppose as you are a clergyman I must not object,' and
the woman withdrew.

By this Maida had retreated to the end of her cell, and as she
crouched up in a corner, her eyes looked like two large brilliants set
in darkness.

Mr. Herbert entered, and, having closed the door, he said:

'Shut your eyes a minute, for I am going to strike a light.' He drew a
little case from his pocket, ignited a match, and then lighted a wax
taper. 'Now then, it will not pain you; look up, and tell me how you
came here.'

'Pray, sir, tell me first, how you became aware of my being here.'

'Your master wrote me word, and I also saw it in the Courier.'

'And what brought you up from the peninsula, sir? no bad tidings, I
trust?'

'Very bad, Maida; even your being here!'

She laid down her head, and groaned.

'For me, sir! all that way for me!'

'For you, Maida; and I mean to wait in town until I can either take
you to Port Arthur, or see you under Mr. Evelyn's care.'

'Oh, sir; don't, I pray you! I can bear anything but kindness; that
breaks what little heart I have left to me.'

'My poor Maida, none of us believe you guilty of the immorality
assigned. We think, perhaps, you were hasty, and even violent.'

'I was both; but both were deserved, sir--I am weak and ill, and
cannot bear your kindness--I am shaken in mind and body. If you talk
so to me, I shall weep.'

Her voice became unsteady, and Mr. Herbert remained silent.

'All last night, sir, I was with my poor father, and that has unnerved
me; as you speak words of kindness, I fancy I hear him. Oh, sir! you
will think me a coward, when I tell you that I dread such another
night, because I dread again to meet my father.' She covered her face
with her hands, and then broke out in her old wild way: 'Hell is
kinder than this, for hell has light! there was a time when I did not
care for the cells; but now--I do not know how it is, I cannot endure
them. Sir, do you think my reason is going?'

'Far from it, Maida; I think it is returning. You are, perhaps,
accepting God's terms, offered in the first of Isaiah--and so Satan is
doing all he can to terrify you.'

'Sir, I do not wish to put anything off on Satan, all I suffer is from
my own wicked spirit and guilty conscience.'

Mr. Herbert smiled.

'Never mind what it is from, Maida; sit down and let me tell you about
Emmeline and the baby--they both send their love to you.'

He talked to her some time, and then read the Twenty-third Psalm.

'That is a strange passage to read to me, sir!'

'Why so, Maida? it is a sweet collection of thoughts, if nothing else,
and I see no objection to your thinking them over.'

The overseer entered and announced closing hours, whereupon Mr.
Herbert arose and whispered to Maida that she should not remain
another night in the cells--he would appeal against further solitary
confinement. He accordingly requested to see the Superintendent, and
to him stated his belief that it would be injurious to keep Maida
longer in the cells.

The Superintendent said she had but one day to accomplish; of this one
day, however Mr. Herbert would not hear: the prisoner's nerves being
already irritated and disordered, he insisted on the necessity of
releasing her, and was at last successful in obtaining a remission of
her sentence. Having ascertained at what day and at what hour she
would be free, he directed that she should be promised to no one, but
be sent straight to the depot, where he or Mr. Evelyn would appear at
the given hour to hire her out.

Six days from that period the brown van was again in waiting at the
gates of Cascades, and amongst many other women Maida was conducted to
it; the door was then locked, the key given to the constables in
charge, and the dreary van drove off to the Brickfields. The women had
scarcely been delivered to the Superintendent, ere Maida saw Mr.
Herbert descend from a cab and enter the hiring-office. In another
minute she was called forward, and in five more was on her way to the
Lodge.

'Now, Maida, you are to have rest until your strength has returned:
for this reason, I am going to leave you in Hobart. At Port Arthur you
might be pressed into the general service; at home, there being only
your master, you will not be required to work.'

Mr. Herbert tried to smile cheerfully, but Maida appeared listless and
reserved. He continued:

'Necessity has partly decided me, for, except in an open boat, I do
not know how I should get you down; the steamer is still laid up. Are
you tired, Maida? you look so.'

'Do I, sir?' and she sat upright.

Mr. Herbert laid his fingers on her wrist.

'I must doctor you; you know my prescription? Miss Bridget calls it
the everlasting quinine and wine.'

'I have been plentifully dosed, thank you, sir. Government is generous
with its medicines when there is any chance of losing a convict.'

'Here we are at the Lodge; we'll forget the prescription for the
present. You will only find Diprose within; Tammy has been sent away.'

Mr. Herbert went to his brother, who lounged in the breakfast-room.

'Is she come?'

'Yes, but in a weak, low state, poor thing! I can hardly venture a
word to her.'

'By which you mean I am not to venture any. Ah! I'm up to you,
Herbert; well, I'm not going to worry her, she's had enough, and too
much already.'

Maida entered to learn her master's wishes. Mr. Evelyn arose, and Mr.
Herbert left the room; his brother was always kinder to her when he
was not present.

'Well, Maida, here you are at last! I think I may say I'm glad to see
you back, but not in that doleful plight: look up, my woman, what ails
you?'

'What ails me, sir? Should you wish information on that point I would
advise a visit to the Cascades.'

'Well, don't let's rub up old grievances; all I can say is that I am
sorry to my heart for you. I only wish I could lay hold of that young
scamp, Patterley, and I'd teach him something, darned if I wouldn't,
as Sanders says.'

But Maida was not inclined to laugh. Raising her eyes to her master,
she said:

'I thank you, sir: by-and-bye I hope to appreciate your kindness; now
I feel cross and bewildered; to escape from observation is all I
want--I shall only get into trouble again if I remain in my present
state of mind.'

'Well, keep clear of me if you like, for I'm not in an over good
temper either; I never am whilst there are pale faces about me, so go
and get up your looks before you have anything to say to me.'

'As to the rest which Mr. Herbert promised me, sir?'

'The devil he did! why, I've been waiting here this long time to be
rid of some of my cares--the garden, for instance; there are all Miss
D'Urban's flowers requiring attention: I wanted you to be after them;
and there's Diprose upstairs, up to all manner of mischief. However,
if Mr. Herbert promised you rest, go and take it, as much as you like
of it. I don't think you'll ever get fat on it, though.'

Maida was obliged to smile in spite of herself; her master had never
been so queer before.

'I was about to remark, sir, that I neither wish for rest nor need
it.'

'Oh, humbug, yes, you do; you don't suppose I don't know what convicts
want.' Dropping his voice to his natural tone--'I tell you what it is,
Maida, if it will not be a comfort to you to hear, it is a relief to
me to let you know, that I think your punishment a disgrace to
everyone concerned. Yes! that's from me, late a police magistrate. Go
and make what use you please of it.'

'I shall, then, make two uses of it, sir, the one to convict myself,
and the other to force me to seek your forgiveness.'

Mr. Evelyn put up his eyebrows: his joking fit was over and he now
viewed the case in sober sense as it stood before him in painful
reality.

Maida did not understand the raised eyebrows to mean 'Go on,' so her
master nodded, 'Well?'

'Your kindness, sir, convicts me of deep ingratitude; you can never
blame me on that point so much as I blame myself. Believe me, sir, I
am not so by nature. I am proud, wicked, and resentful, but not
ungrateful. I have been goaded into rebellion and perversity, until--'

'There now, that'll do; you need not tell me you are proud--that I've
found out long ago; and as to your being wicked, you can grant that if
you like, but as to your being resentful or ungrateful, it's not a
true bill, or, by George--

But Mr. Evelyn stopped with an ahem; he was on the punishment ground
again, and therefore checked himself.

Mr. Herbert started for Port Arthur on the following day, and Maida
was left to a season of genial quiet, for none in the house were
disposed to interfere much with her. Her master purposely avoided her
as much as possible; and her fellow-servants had received secret
commands not to seek her assistance. The man, Stephens, was an odd
being, and would have had but little to say to her if he had not been
laid under ban.

He seemed in so perpetual a flurry and excitement that he had incurred
the sobriquet of Fussy.

From morning to night he was never still; it would be flurry, flurry
to the last moment, when he would prepare for bed by dressing himself
for the morning. Then, resting one leg on the floor and tucking the
other under the bedclothes, he would ensconce himself in discomfort,
ready to start at the first sound, or earliest sign of morning, again
to go on flurrying until night. Whether he supposed he hurried on his
freedom by this unceasing turmoil no one could discover.

He had also a favourite notion that the facsimile of everything
pertaining to luxury or comfort had once been possessed by himself or
his wife. When the lady governess of the island called, he would duly
announce her, then banging the door, he would mutter:

'Shawl just like my wife's!'

Having the master's travelling-cloak to brush, he would set at it
with, 'Not a bit better than the cloak I had at home, just the feller
b'lieve it's the same.' He had, too, a favourite dislike, and that was
of the cicadae, whose never-flagging whir-r-r-r seemed almost to
distract poor Fussy. He anathematized them more than twenty times a
day.

Diprose, too, had no inclination to molest Maida; she was absorbed in
her own sorrows. Though a convict, she was still a mother, and
possessed the yearnings of a mother's heart. Day and night she fretted
over her four children dead or alive. She had buried two: one little
child of five had been left in Scotland; the other, an infant, was in
the Queen's Orphan School. When first she went to see her little son,
she was doubly hurt; in the first place, because no one in the school
seemed to know her baby from all the others.

'What! not know my little Abel!' she exclaimed, bursting into tears.

'Get along with your Abels; who be he more than anybody else's Abel?'
was the comfortable rejoinder.

And secondly, because little Abel himself did not recognise her.

'Come to his own mammy, then!' she said maternally and straightway the
child stretched his arms to a mother not his own.

She confided her story to Maida, whose ever-ready sympathy invited the
outpouring of the deserted mother's heart.

She told her she had never known sorrow or a dishonest penny until the
winter of 18--, when everything was scarce and work still more so;
sickness fell on her children, and her husband emigrated to America to
build a nest in which he could put his family. She never heard of him
again and was left to struggle with three children and a fourth
expected. Two sickened, and in one day she laid them both in one
grave; she said the neighbours came from far to see the bairns, they
looked so heavenly in their coffins. After the first flow of pity had
subsided, she was again left to poverty and misery; one night, when a
half-crown would have saved her from immediate ruin, a bad man came
round and tempted her with illegal money, which she passed, was
detected, apprehended, and transported. This was her simple tale, and
its truthfulness none could doubt who looked at her woebegone face and
heard her constant sigh. She fretted on and on, until her master
thought the hospital would be the best place for her.

As another case of 'Frettin',' she was therefore admitted to that
establishment, and never left it more until she was carried thence to
the prisoners' grave-yard, when her little Abel was cast on the world
a despised child of a despised race.

A month passed, and still there was no chance of remitting Maida to
Port Arthur. The Kangaroo's ailments were obstinate, and required
still further professional treatment.

The family had now been four months on the peninsula. The winter had
set in, it being the latter end of June, and in a week or two would be
too far advanced to allow the possibility of sending Maida. One day
when she had nearly given up all hope of being summoned, Father
Evermore trotted up the lawn and left a note for Mr. Evelyn,
requesting that an answer might be left at the Vicar-General's before
the next evening.

The note contained a message from Mr. Herbert, saying that Father
Evermore, having occasion to go to town, had consented to bring back
Maida if she were not afraid to venture in an open boat. Mr. Herbert
added that there would be no other opportunity, the Kangaroo having
been tried and found unequal to the trip, and another steamer could
not be ready until the spring.

It needed no persuasion to induce Maida to get ready; she was as
anxious to go as Emmeline was to have her.

Since her return to the Lodge she had always gone down to lock the
out-houses and garden-gates; for Fussy thought far too much of his
brains to risk having them dislodged by venturing outside the door
after dark; he considered that once in his life was quite sufficient
to have a pistol held at his head. Now Maida quieted him by saying
that she should see all right for two nights more, and then, perhaps,
the master would either undertake it or let Diprose. It was her last
night. Being engaged in preparations for her departure, Maida forgot
the gates until ten o'clock, when she hastened down the lawn to close
them for the night. The moon shone so gloriously that in spite of the
keen wind she walked up and down the grove path, and was soon in one
of her dreams of the past. Turning towards the thickest part of the
grove, where a hedge of tea-shrub joined the trees into a continuous
chain, she saw the hedge divide and a scarecrow figure approach her.
It was that of a man whose famished look and tattered garments
proclaimed him to be a wayfarer of no common order.

'Martha Grylls,' said the gaunt figure.

She started.

The voice was so hollow, and the eyes glared so spectre-like upon her,
that for an instant she doubted it to be more than a phantasy, but it
repeated, in yet more sepulchral tones:

'Are you Martha Grylls?'

'I am; what do you want of me?'

'To save me! there's no one else I knows of that will.'

'Who are you?' Maida felt a cold terror creeping over her; she imputed
it to the bleak wind, and shrugged herself together, repeating, 'Who
are you?'

'Bob Pragg. I'm out, and there's a free pardon offered on my head, and
money to the bargain.'

'Pragg!'

'Yes! I knows no one but you that'll save me.'

'Me, Pragg! what do you know, then, of me, that makes you say so?'

'That you ain't the one to send off a poor dying wretch like me, to
make gold of my blood.'

There was a dead silence, during which the chattering of Pragg's
teeth, and Maida's hard, quick breathing, were the only audible sounds
that interchanged with the wailing of the wind. A loud fitful gust
swept down the grove, and by its suddenness forced Maida against
Pragg; he stretched out his hand and clutched her; she shuddered as
she felt the bony grasp that clung to her with the energy of despair.

'I say, Martha Grylls, can you forgive an enemy? Can you? can you?'

'I can, Bob--so help and forgive me, God.'

'Oh, those be solemn words,' muttered Bob.

'They are true words, Bob.'

'Give me your hand to it, then.'

He put forth a long clawlike hand, and it pounced on Maida's, grasping
it, cold and deathly.

'Can you feed an enemy, Martha Grylls? I'm starving! I 'scaped from
the Neck, and I've wandered in the bush till I'm 'most eaten up alive
with the rot, and I'm 'most dead of hunger; I ate a dead guana five
days agone, and nothing but a sup of water's gone down since--I say,
woman, can you feed an enemy?'

His claws almost pierced her skin as he shook her, repeating:

'Can you? woman, can you?'

'I can, Bob, but only by giving you money. I've no food of my own, nor
could I get any without betraying you.'

'MONEY!' he laughed a wild shrill laugh. 'MONEY! will that feed a
starving man? curse your money and give me bread!'

He lowered his voice, and glaring at her, muttered:

'Bread, for the love of God! you, the woman I've injured and would
have injured more if I could, give me food--give me food!'

Maida clasped her hands in agony.

Pragg drew closer to her and hissed into her ear, 'A fine plea, ain't
it? but I swear before--'

Maida laid her arm upon him.

'Bob, don't swear before anyone, for God is up there listening to
you.'

'It is just before He that I'm going to swear, for it's the only true
word of my life that I'm now speaking, and that is, I know that it's
just the plea to go down with you. Ah, I know you, Martha Grylls,
better nor you think! Ah, I know all about it.'

His teeth chattered beyond control; he could only mumble incoherent
words that Maida could not understand but her alarm was aroused. She
shivered with fright as she said:

'Tell me what you mean; for pity's sake, Bob, tell me.'

'Give me food first; food, I say, food, and then I'll tell you that if
I'm taken, I'll proclaim your hinnocence from the gallows--ah! that I
will, or blast my living soul. Oh Martha, Martha!' the tears rolled
down his hollow cheek, 'Oh, Martha, when Bob Pragg's brought to tears
the devil's out of 'en. I never thought to see the day when I'd
blubber before a woman, and she you. I always swore I'd die game. But
ah! there's no game in dying, no, not whilst there's Hell! HELL!
HELL!!! Food, woman--food, I say!'

Maida recollected the little basket of stores, supplied for her
journey. It was truly hers--she might give it.

'Bob, I can give you food; go back into the hedge and I'll run and
fetch it; I must talk to you more by-and-by.'

She glided into the house; the light shone from the drawing-room
window, telling that her master had not yet retired for the night. She
slipped up to her bedroom and was returning with her basket when Mr.
Evelyn came out of the room.

'You, Maida! where are you going with that basket? fine preparation
for your journey!'

'I'm going downstairs, sir.'

'Well, well, I'll wait till you come up. Why, how's this, Jags isn't
brought in yet? Mind, if the rangers come I shall declare you are in
league with them.'

Maida rejoiced to hear him speak so, because it showed that he was in
a good humour, so she laughingly replied:

'Very well, sir, I'll plead guilty; but if you'll trust the house to
me, I'll ward off the rangers; my pistols are always loaded.'

'Well, then, good-night; I'll leave it to you, only don't come
creeping up when you have done, but give a good, brave step that I may
know you are safe.'

Therewith her master hummed himself upstairs; she heard his door lock,
his shoes flung off, and then she knew he was safe. Having brought in
Jags, the terrier, and let him loose in the hall, she barred all the
front doors of the house and let herself out into the lawn by the back
door, and, locking it after her, she put the key in her pocket. The
two sunken eyes were glaring out for her from the thicket. She sat
down by Bob and opened her stores; the long, bony palm snatched up the
first eatable she drew forth. He bolted a few mouthfuls and then threw
it down, shaking his head.

'I'm sick, woman--I can't eat now it's before me.'

'Try, Bob; let me feed you.'

Bob shook his head, and a flood of tears extinguished the glare of his
eyes.

'Oh, I say, woman; can you forgive a dying wretch? can you? can you?'

He laid down his head between his knees and moaned.

'Can you? can you? This ain't Bob Pragg, is it? Oh! can you? can you?'

'Bob, don't torment yourself; I can, and do--and pray God to forgive
you too.'

'Do you? then, pray on, quick--for hell's agaping wide and I'm 'most
gone down. There! what d'ye think of that? I pulled it off a tree
where they'd stuck it.'

Bob plucked a soiled, torn paper from his breast, and threw it at her.

'There's money for this poor skinned carcass! Worth it, ain't it? You
go and claim it, and the gibbet 'll be a happy death to me. Read it,
woman, read.'

Maida opened the paper, when, distinct and horrible, three large black
words appeared; the light was quite enough to exhibit them in all
their horror.

'Murder! Murder! Murder!!! Free pardon and 30 reward.'

Every word of the fearful advertisement was visible. Then came a
description of Pragg, with the above reward offered for his
apprehension.

As Maida read out 'Round and ruddy,' he grinned a death's-head grin.

'Like me, ain't it? look here--round, ain't it? ruddy? ay, as the
grave!'

'What am I to do with this, Pragg?'

'Go and get your pardon and your money home out of it.'

'Do you mean it, Pragg? I thought you said you knew me.'

'I know you; but I know myself better, and I know 'twould be a blessed
relief to me to be delivered up by you;--I want to feel paid out, I
do, woman, I do; pay me out--do, do, I say.'

Maida tore the paper into shreds and trod it underfoot.

'There, Pragg; I'll deliver you up to God, but to no one else.'

'To God!' shrieked Pragg; 'to GOD!'

The wind wailed down the grove, and his tattered garments fluttered on
him like rags upon a gibbet.

'To GOD, woman! 'tis He I'm most afeared to meet; if twern't for He
I'd give my own self up, for death would be a grace to my rotted body.
But, Martha Grylls--you that I dragged away from your own baby's
grave--you that I swore on, save me from He, as you would save your
own soul.'

Quietly, though trembling in every limb, Maida again clasped her
hands, and uttered a short prayer for pardon for the wretched man
before her.

'Oh, oh!' groaned Bob, and the wailing wind bore on and prolonged the
oh--oh--oh!

The dogs set up a loud, fierce bark, which was snapped up and
reverberated by the terrier within doors. Maida started.

'Bob, I must leave you; creep into the shed, and cover yourself over
with this; I'll be out in the morning before it is light. Oh, Bob! I
grieve to say it; but hadn't you better give yourself up? You must be
caught, for you are weak and can't crawl far--poor, poor Bob!'

She burst into tears, and crouching down by him, said:

'Bob, I'd save you if I could; but I'm only a prisoner myself. I'll
never give you up; but leave you I must, for I'm going to be sent away
to-morrow.'

'Maybe I'll be dead of cold 'fore morning! oh, it's freezing, ain't
it?' and his teeth chattered and his whole frame shook.

The dogs sounded a second and louder alarm.

'Creep into this shed, Bob; the master'll be getting up. Quickly as
you can.'

Bob crept in, and Maida covered him as well as she could.

'Martha, is the gate free, 'sposing I makes up my mind to crawl away?'

He turned a look so piteous on her, that she wrung her hands.

'That little gate there shall be free. I can see it from a window
upstairs. I'll sit up all night, and watch it that I may leave it
safely open.'

Without venturing a second look, Maida glided into the back door,
speaking low and soothingly to the dogs to keep them quiet. She passed
swiftly into the nursery, and locking the door, took her station at
the window to watch the gate. She heard her master go downstairs to
make the round of the house--as he always did when the dogs were
vociferous.

She also heard him fire off a pistol from the lobby window, and then
all wag peace again for the night.

She watched for two hours, when she fancied she perceived a slight
movement of the gate; but the moon rays glancing about gave an
appearance of motion to every object; therefore, she looked long and
steadfastly ere she could decide whether it opened or not. It did
open, and just then the moon rode out from a cloud and a baptism of
cold, clear glory fell around, making every dim outline give out
distinctly the form it before had shrouded in uncertainty. It fell
extra bright and clear over the little gate, when Maida saw a heap of
rags crawling along the earth and pushing its way through the open
gate. Softly as possible she slid up the sash. Bob heard her and
turned towards the window; the large, white eyeballs rolled up and
stared very ghastly towards her earnest face. Bob slowly raised his
long arm thrice, he had not strength to wave it; but the shreds
hanging from it fluttered his farewell. Maida threw up her hands in an
attitude of prayer, and then closed the window. The moon again was
overcast, and all once more was shadow and twilight.

In the morning Maida hurried down the grove; a vestige of Bob in the
form of a tattered kerchief, together with the shawl with which she
had covered him, was all that remained to attest the reality of that
terrible night vision.

She heard no more of Pragg; but when on her way to the boat with
Father Evermore a cart, guarded by two armed constables and drawn by
four chained convicts drove slowly by her. The cart was covered by a
rug--its contents were not, therefore, revealed. Yet, with a shudder,
Maida turned from it, for the middle of the rug was arched pointedly,
as though forced up by two sharp knees. There was an awed gloom in the
countenance of each of the driven men, and a mysterious expression in
the faces of the constables.

That night, when Maida was sleeping at the station, on her way to Port
Arthur, the dead-house of H.M.G. Hospital was opened and a collapsed
and stiffened corpse was laid there. The very doctors, accustomed to
death in its most horrible appearance, turned, heartsick away as the
wide, staring eye and distorted figure of Bob Pragg met their sight.

His body had been discovered by a road party, on its progress to the
bush, behind Macquarie Street.



CHAPTER XXVIII. THE ISLE OF THE DEAD.


'I went her lily hand to take.
Its coldness made me start'

THE winter passed cheerfully. The mild climate of Port Arthur had only
once or twice yielded to the stern control of winter. Snow had fallen
on Mount Arthur, but had not dared to show itself further. Again had
the sweet month of November opened on the imprisoned family. Again
came the flowers bursting from their leafy folds. The afternoon was
fresh and fair, and Emmeline said she had not felt so well for a long
time; she should enjoy a little draw in her primitive carriage. Opal,
therefore, was ordered to hold himself in readiness to obey his young
mistress's pleasure, and brightly shone his olive face as from his
full lips came the answer:

'Opal leady always for she; nice lady, me luffs her wely much; always
got a smile for poor chaingang.'

When asked where she would like to go, Emmeline replied:

'Let my little carriage be drawn in sight of the Isle of the Dead, and
there let me rest and look out on the lovely spot.'

And there she stayed, Opal waiting reverentially at her side, until
her father feared that, gentle as the air was, it might be too strong
for her.

'Very well, papa dear, I will return. I have enjoyed my journey or my
rest--which is it?--more than I can tell you.'

Mr. Herbert smiled--but how subduedly!--and softly inquired:

'Enjoyed it? That sea-girt graveyard always makes me feel sad.'

'Ah, papa, you think of the many poor creatures lying there, far from
their home and friends. That is sad; but as I sat gazing on it, I only
thought how peaceful a rest it would afford my aching frame, and how
much, if you approved, I should like to be laid there.'

She pressed his hand fondly, and watched for when he should turn his
face to her.

'My child's wishes are mine. What makes you speak so, my Emmeline? You
just now said you felt better.'

'And I do; but still, papa, we won't talk of it--it makes you low-
spirited.'

'My daughter, I would not keep you one hour beyond God's time; His
blessed will be done. I have resigned you, and only hold you from Him
day by day, as His tender mercy grants me a longer delay. Time once
seemed long to me. Now the Invisible and Eternal are near, and divided
only by a veil so transparent that my eye beholds what lies beyond.'

Emmeline stayed up later that night; she appeared so unwilling to
retire that it had struck nine before Mr. Herbert reminded her she had
exceeded her usual hour.

As she bade him good-night she said almost lightly:

'To-morrow I shall be alive for a trip to Stuart's Bay!'

'To-morrow is God's!' replied Mr. Herbert somewhat solemnly.

There was something in his daughter's manner and appearance that
perplexed him. He returned her long embrace fervently and fondly, but
a vague sensation of near sorrow mingled with his farewell, as he
clasped her in his arms.

'I shall like to sleep alone to-night. I am sure I shall require
nothing. Maida shall sit up a little, and then I shall send her to
bed.'

She looked over the stairs and repeated:

'Good-night, papa; God bless you.'

'And you, my precious,' replied her father.

Bridget assisted her to undress, and then sat by her until it was
Maida's time to come in.

'Bridgy, when I am gone, which shall you do: go back to England, or
stay here?'

'I don't know, Em--I don't want you to go, therefore I put off
thinking of what it would be best to do; I hate talking about anything
that has to take place when you are no longer here. I can't spare your
dear face; it has become a necessity to me.'

She laid her head on her cousin's pillow. and, by half playfully
smoothing her thin cheek, tried to hide the emotion that made her
voice unsteady.

'Has it ever struck you, dear Bridget, to be thankful that I'm not a
prisoner?'

'How funny! No! Much they'd find to make prisoner of in you!' and
Bridget started up, quite amused at the idea.

But Emmeline was serious. She continued:

'Instead of being what I am--a poor, helpless girl, waited upon by a
cheerful, loving sister as you are to me; instead of having a tender
parent to love and feel for me, with Uncle Ev, and all the other dear
ones around me, I might have been not only helpless, but friendless
and uncared for. Oh, what am I, that I should have so many mercies
above my fellow-creatures--above poor Wilcox and Sally?'

As Bridget listened to her cousin, and observed the holy expression of
her countenance, she was puzzled to imagine, had Em been a convict,
what sort of crime she would have committed. She was just going to say
as much, when Emmeline turned on her a look so wistful that she could
not help asking:

'What is it, dear?'

'There is only one question that troubles me--no, not troubles, that
is not the word, for I cast my cares on the Lord--but only one point I
should like to have settled, if it be God's will. Who will be with
papa when I am dead?'

'Oh, my Em, can you doubt? I would never leave him if I would do for
him, but,' she added sadly, 'I'm afraid I'm too giddy, too thoughtless
for him.'

'No, Bridget, you are not giddy. You are happy and gladsome, and he
loves you as his own, so be his daughter. I have given him only pain;
you must try to give him pleasure.'

There came a gentle tap at the door, and Mr. Herbert entered to tell
Bridget it was time she should retire to rest. She arose and kissed
him, and the tears were in her eyes. He knew not wherefore, neither
could he account for the extra warmth of her embrace, for he knew not
of the compact that had just been made between his child and niece.

'The Lord love you, my daughter!' he said as he smoothed her hair.

A glance of surprise passed between the cousins; it was the first time
he had ever so called her.

'Baby is rather troublesome to-night, therefore Maida will be delayed
a little, so I am going to remain by you until she is ready. I shall
return presently.'

'Good-night then, my sweet Em; I must be gone before he comes back,'
said Bridget.

Why was that unwillingness to part? why did they so cling to each
other? why did tears so blend with the farewell smile of the two
cousins?

'Bridget, my own one,' said Emmeline, still holding her, 'I cannot
tell you what you have been to me. My sister, my friend, my nurse.'

'What does it all mean?' sobbed Bridget; 'everything is so strange to-
night.'

'But still so happy.'

'Happy things don't make people cry,' answered Bridget, for want of
something else to say.

'Em, darling, tell me,' she at last exclaimed, 'you're not going to
die, are you?'

'I think not; I never felt better.'

'Then don't talk of these horrid things.'

'You will be glad by-and-by to know what a comfort you have been.'

'Em, you have made me all I am, that is better than what I was.'

Maida entered with Mr. Herbert. The baby had fallen asleep, and she
was free to relieve her master, whose frail strength needed all the
refreshment that rest could impart to fit him for the early service
with the men.

'Maida, you are only going to stay until twelve, and only that because
I know you would be disappointed not to remain at all; but I need
nothing, so lean back and sleep.'

Maida obeyed as to the reclining, hoping that Miss Evelyn would sleep
if not spoken to. She closed her eyes; but opening them suddenly,
found her young mistress gazing fixedly at her. They both smiled, and
Maida raised herself.

'You see I am very obedient, Miss Evelyn, but I hope you will remove
your injunction, and let me talk to you; I looked forward to it all
day.'

'Dear Maida!' and Emmeline stretched her hand to her.

'Ah!' thought Maida, 'I little dreamt the time would ever come in
which I should hear myself called dear.'

And little, too, did she once think that she could ever again allow
herself to be so addressed, much less that it would afford her
pleasure, and that she should acknowledge that pleasure.

'One word, Maida, and you shall go. Say what you will, I feel sure
that there is some strange mystery in your tale. I have no inkling of
it, so do not fear; but I am sure there is a something that should not
be as it is. When I am gone, if ever you should need a counsellor, or
be unable longer to bear your secret alone, remember my father is your
friend.'

'That time will never come, Miss Evelyn. If I have a secret it is one
that I can keep. But don't send me away--do let me stay, Miss Evelyn;
I have given you pleasure, now repay me.'

'To-morrow you shall sleep here with me--to-night I wish to be alone:
once more, good-night, dear Maida;' and the door closed.

In a few moments all was silent in the parsonage: all weary eyes were
closed in sleep, and sleep, sweeter than she had ever known, hushed
Emmeline in calm repose.

In the early morning, as was her wont, Maida entered Miss Evelyn's
room on tiptoe. She still slept, so Maida as she had often done
before, crept over to look at her.

Last night's smile still lingered on her lips, which had fallen gently
apart, disclosing two pearly teeth; one hand lay beneath, and partly
supported her cheek, and the other lay upon the bed. Maida bent to
kiss that hand--its coldness made her start.

She stood before Death disarmed of his terrors, for Emmeline was in
heaven.

How long she stood entranced she knew not. The door shutting upon Mr.
Herbert as he left the house for his duty aroused her.

'Dear creature! O God! I thank Thee that Thou didst give me power to
place that smile upon those precious lips, now hushed for ever. I, who
have given her so many pangs, am not worthy of a mercy so great.'

Bridget was dressing when Maida, with a faint tap, entered her room.

'How pale you are! what's the matter, Maida?'

'I am cold, Miss Bridget. You are up early.'

'Do you know, I awoke with such an uneasy feeling about Em, that,
goose that I am, I was obliged to get up. Directly my dressing-gown is
on I shall run up to peep at the darling; she was so extra exquisite
last night that I can't forget her--that's why I'm up so early, Miss
Curiosity.'

'I will go with you, Miss Bridget.'

What meant that trembling voice? Bridget looked at her. Involuntarily
upturned the large eye, over which now quivered an undropped tear.

'Tell me, or I shall think she's dead!' exclaimed Bridget, catching
both Maida's hands and shaking her. 'Tell me--I can't bear suspense--
tell me, tell me!'

'She--is--not--dead--but--sleepeth,' came the slow and solemn answer.

'And I can't shed a tear,' whispered Bridget.

'Miss Bridget, let us go; one will be here presently who must go alone
to that room of glory.'

Obeying the impulse of her heart, all unaware of what she did, Maida
wound her arm round Miss D'Urban and led her upstairs.

'Oh no! she only sleeps. This cannot be death. Emmeline, my own one,
look up and speak to me.'

But never answer came.

* * * * *

No weeds funereal lay scattered about--at once chilling the heart with
their dreary aspect, and calling for energies which, though given
reluctantly, relieve the burdened mind. There was no hurry of
preparation. In the dim twilight, accompanied by an overseer, two
convicts were seen approaching the house, bearing on their shoulders a
plain deal coffin. Then, stealing in through the back door, they made
their silent way to the chamber of death, where Maida awaited them;
and ere the father knew what was taking place, Emmeline was tenderly
laid in her last resting-place, and smiled the pale face up from that
simple bed, as sweetly and calmly as though it had been wrapped in
costly cerements.

But the men would not depart; they said they must see the parson, no
one else would do.

'Well, my men, you wish to speak to me?' asked Mr. Herbert.

'It's gone abroad, your reverence, that the free is going to offer to
carry Miss Evelyn. Your reverence will never take from us the last
sight of her that's been the pride of the station. Sure, sir, you
shall find us steady, and all so willing as them that's got wills of
their own. There isn't a man in the gang that won't feel hurt if they
sees her go by on other shoulders.'

'You shall carry her for had she been asked she would have chosen you.
I will see to it, and thank you.'

Mr. Herbert shook them by the hand.

'God bless your reverence, and them that's left! You won't say we've
had a word with you, sir; it may go wrong with the Gov'nor.'

Mr. Herbert bowed, for his voice failed him.

The man who had not spoken before now said:

'It's bad to our feelings to put that there rough timber over against
her that should have the best of everything; but your reverence knows
there is no help for it down here, where it's all for prisoners. I
know the best in the store was picked out, but bad's the best.'

The father could almost smile: he had not observed the coffin--the
gentle sleeper reposing in it absorbed his every thought.

A solitary boat, in which was discernible the convict yellow,
returning from the Isle of the Dead, was the only other indication of
an expected funeral. The last moment arrived, and yet no Uncle Ev
appeared.

'He cannot be here now,' said Uncle Herbert, when a distant sound, as
of a horse at fullest speed, was heard, and in another moment the
well-known gray came dashing down the avenue, and Uncle Ev, alighting
at the church, led his horse slowly towards the house. At that instant
out struck the church bell, one, two--one, two. Mr. Herbert approached
his brother, and in silence they grasped each other's hands.

'I can't see her?' at last whispered the elder brother, in choking
utterance.

'Not until you see her there!' replied Mr. Herbert, pointing upward.

'Herbert, I have but one wish, and that is, that when yon dreary bell
tolls for one of my children, that child may have your Emmeline's
hope, and I may have your comfort.'

One, two--one, two. There must be no delay. The procession moved
slowly through the settlement. As officiating minister and chief
mourner, Mr. Herbert walked first, bareheaded, and in his surplice.
Then, borne by six prisoners in white blouses, came the simple coffin,
Mr. Evelyn, Bridget, and Charlie following close after, and then,
forming a part of the procession, and yet isolated from it, succeeded
a solitary figure, wrapt in a lonely grief that it was striking to
behold; beyond her lingered Opal, his eye wistfully following the
mournful band as it wound through the settlement and stopped at the
bay, where three boats awaited it, one of which was empty, and
attached to the second by a stout rope. In the other two sat the
boat's crew in white jackets; they bent reverently on their oars as
Mr. Herbert passed by them and took his place in the first boat. Mr.
Evelyn, Bridget, and Charlie entered the next; then the coffin was
lowered into the third boat, and the bearers retired to the jetty.
There was no room for Maida--she must be left behind. She watched the
signal for departure being given with a look of anguish, which Mr.
Herbert perceived as he just raised his head from the folds of his
surplice to take a last look at the coffin ere it was towed onward. He
no sooner met that anguished eye than he motioned her to step into the
third boat. 'What, with the dear creature herself! He cannot mean it,'
thought Maida; but Mr. Herbert beckoned again, and with a trembling
foot she entered, and almost flung herself at the coffin's side.
Plash! plash! with measured strokes the oars beat solemn time, and
alternately with them out-swelled the full, deep bell. Save these all
else was silence; not a sound broke on the stillness. The station had
hushed its many voices into one breathless tribute to her who had
passed through it for the last time.

The plash of the oar has ceased; Mr. Herbert stands on the Isle of the
Dead. His white robe flutters in the air as he turns to the death-
freighted boat. Involuntarily, once or twice, his arms stretch forward
when, tottering over the narrow plank, the boat's crew bear his child
across.

Now all have landed; Mr. Herbert turns, and in the same order the
procession threads its way up the narrow defile.

One, two! one, two! one, two! swings rapidly from the steeple rising
from yon knot of trees. The vibrations die away, and all again is
silence, when, swept onward by the gentle breeze, a voice bursts from
that solitary spot:

'"I am the Resurrection and the Life; he that believeth in Me, though
he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in
Me shall never die."'

At first the tone is tremulous, for it is a father who speaks; but
lofty it swells, and yet more lofty, till, like sweet music from a
distant shore, is wafted over the quiet bay that Christian hope and
holy aspiration, triumphant over pain and death.

But now the funeral disappears, lost amid the foliage.

Unseen, it moves on until two chained prisoners waiting at an open
grave mark the resting-place it comes to sanctify.

Hitherto, in compassion to the father, there has been but slight
outward show of grief; all have controlled their feelings; a very
muffled sob has been the only audible indication of the heart's
sorrow. But when the bidding word is spoken and falls the heavy clod
upon the cherished form, one loud and bitter wall rings through the
quiet of that desert isle, startling the wild goat from his rock and
making the bird wheel, frightened, from his nest.

The cry comes from neither parent nor relative, but from that lonely
captive, into the desolation of whose soul the fallen clod has struck
and aroused a mighty echo of despair.

None tries henceforth to hide that sorrow it is a strife to hold
within. The father alone weeps not. The bitter cry for a moment
subdues his voice into a murmur; but it again breaks forth in holy
rapture--'Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord!'



CHAPTER XXIX. ACCEPTED.


IT was now the Sunday after the funeral. The congregation, free and
bond, were surprised to see Mr. Herbert take his accustomed place in
the desk, and still more surprised were they to see him enter the
pulpit to preach his own child's funeral sermon. All waited for when
the stricken father should arise from his knees and commence that
lament over which all had prepared themselves to weep. All looked
forward to experiencing a luxurious tenderness when the minister
should merge into the parent, and yield himself to sorrowful
recollections of the past. A sensation of astonishment, therefore, ran
through the whole people, when in a voice loud, clear, and, if
possible, more sonorous than usual, Mr. Herbert, looking calmly around
him, thrice repeated slowly and distinctly, no funeral text, but
Agrippa's words--'Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.' Then
dropping his voice into a low, earnest tone, he said:

'My friends, I thank you all for your kindness to my departed child. I
am about to leave you; to your care I commit that grave lying in your
Isle of the Dead. To your attention I commend her who lies within that
grave. My bond brethren, you who are the same flesh and blood, heart
and soul, I implore you to note that grave. I do not by this ask you
to keep it in order--your own kind feelings will prompt you to do that
unbidden; but this I do ask you, to attend to that grave as a voice
from God, as a voice from heaven, bidding you go to Christ. And, oh,
would God that the answer of your hearts might be, not ALMOST, but
"ALTOGETHER thou persuadest me to be a Christian." Could but one such
voice reach my ear, I should bless God for my child's death in this
place. I should bless Him to eternity that in this far-off isle, on
which mine eye may never rest again, I leave her to the stranger's
care.'

An earnest appeal succeeded, in which he implored weary souls to pine
not for the rest that island could afford, but for the rest wherewith
the Saviour can refresh the heavy laden.

It was in the midst of this appeal that a tall, stately figure was
seen to rise up, and with low, bent head to leave the church; her
footsteps lingered near the door, and then Maida passed out; but not
until the fervent voice had once more pleaded, 'Almost thou persuadest
me to be a Christian.'

Mrs. Evelyn said it was like a prisoner not to care more for such an
affecting sermon than to go out just for a little headache. But Mr.
Herbert discerned more than physical pain in the lowly dignity of
Maida's carriage; he knew it was no common feeling that could weigh
down that head, so erect and noble in its bearing. He sought her
directly after the service. The rest of the family had proceeded to
take a quiet walk in the Government garden; he, therefore, feared no
interruption in seeking an interview with her whom he considered one
of his flock as well as one of his brother's family. But she was to be
found neither in the kitchen nor in the outhouses. Opal said, 'He had
seen dat leddie come in fast, quick, big, and go upstairs, but he
hadn't seen her since.' (He would persist in calling her a lady, for
that she was a prisoner could not be brought to his understanding.)

In going upstairs Mr. Herbert had to pass his daughter's room. He
thought from within he heard a suppressed voice; he listened and
entered; Maida knelt there. On seeing Mr. Herbert she arose, and
approaching him, extended both her hands, exclaiming:

'It is over, sir! not ALMOST, but ALTOGETHER. The moment of decision
has come. With dying lips Miss Evelyn persuaded me, you have decided
me. Her God shall be my God; her Saviour my Saviour!'

'Thanks be to God which giveth us the victory through Jesus Christ our
Lord,' said Mr. Herbert, clasping his hands and looking upwards, his
pale, careworn face bright as had been his dying daughter's.

'Sir! those were Miss Evelyn's very words to me.'

'They are, and ever will be the Christian's words, Maida. Oh, Maida! I
bless God for my child this day, I bless Him for the sorrow I have
had, I bless Him for YOU, my daughter. Come, let us thank Him
together.'

They knelt, and ere their praiseful prayer concluded, a third joined
with them. Bridget had stolen back to weep in her cousin's room;
entering on tiptoe, she beheld her uncle and Maida, and immediately
bent silently beside them.



CHAPTER XXX. BRIDGET AGAIN.


BRIDGET is all excitement. Uncle Ev tells her that Mr. Walkden has
once more found his way to Hobart Town, and is waiting below to renew
acquaintance with her.

Bridget hopes in her heart that he will make no allusion to days past,
and the something that passed in them.

Mrs. Evelyn hopes he will, and that her niece will not make a
simpleton of herself, for a real M. A. is not an everyday catch in the
antipodes. Episcopal hands there rarely find true Oxford or Cambridge
heads on which to exercise their ghostly function. Poor Mr. Walkden,
too, has given so very decided a proof that, renouncing all other, he
will either go without a wife or have Miss D'Urban, that really she
ought to accept him. Her former refusal of him and his resignation of
the comfortable living of Clarence Plains had occurred together, or
rather on one and the same day. But in resigning his living he had
taken care to accept the wardenship of Bishopbourne, where to the
present time he has been trying hard but uselessly to forget Miss
D'Urban in the scholastic duties of the college. So uselessly trying,
that yesterday the Launceston coach brought him into Hobart Town; and
he means to try how Bridget feels, or at any rate how she looks. As
she enters the room, he determines that whatever she feels, she
certainly looks none the worse. Her cheeks, if possible, are of a
richer carnation; and her eyes as full of light--less merry, though
not less cheerful; in fact, they are more suitable than ever to a
clergyman's wife.

However, she has not entered alone. Uncle Ev comes, too--for Bridget
declared she would not go down unless he accompanied her. The visit
ends in Mr. Walkden being invited to dinner--an early, friendly
dinner--after which, by some 'horrid' chance, Bridget finds herself
left alone with him. She gives an imploring look towards Uncle Ev, as
she sees him making for the door; but he only shuts his eyes wickedly
at her, and departs, when Mr. Walkden asks her if any persuasion of
his may prevail on her to change her mind, and revoke a sentence that
makes him the most miserable of colonial clergymen.

She says she has undertaken to be Uncle Herbert's daughter, instead of
Emmeline.

Mr. Walkden inquires if it may not be possible to unite the
relationships of wife and daughter. But Bridget seems to think--no.

So the matter drops for that afternoon. Mr. Walkden, beseeching her to
consider it, and let him know the result of her thoughts, dejectedly
leaves the house, but not, as she supposes, to go to his hotel. He
walks straight to the prisoners' barracks, and there watches for Mr.
Herbert; whom he no sooner espies returning from his duties, than he
joins him, and renews the matrimonial suit.

Bridget is out watering her plants after tea, when she sees Uncle
Herbert approaching; she is quickly at his side; and then he tells her
that, as far as he is concerned, nothing would give him greater
pleasure than to marry her to Mr. Walkden; but he would on no account
bias her against her wishes. Entirely off her guard, Bridget exclaims,
'Oh, uncle! I like him very much; only--'

She stops and looks vexed.

'Only you are divided between love and duty,' says Uncle Herbert
kindly.

She, still more vexed, and somewhat hurt, replies, 'Uncle, if I am
divided at all, it is between love and love. If it be a duty to fulfil
dear Em's last wish, it is one of so much pleasure that I am loath to
resign it.'

Nevertheless, she did resign it, and shortly became Mrs. Walkden, to
the infinite satisfaction of her aunt, who, in kissing her after the
wedding, said, with one of her little quick laughs:

'Of course, my dear! what else do you suppose your mother sent you out
for?'



CHAPTER XXXI. THE AWAKENING.--MORE VICTIMS.


IN an elegant drawing-room, in one of the West End houses of London,
sat Mrs. Norwell.

Now she arose and flitted about the room for some time as if in search
of something--and then she resolutely nestled into a couch, determined
to patiently await whatever it might be that she expected--her fairy
fingers pretending to diligence over a dainty heap of muslin and lace.

There came a brisk rat-tat at the front door; and we know for what
Mary had been watching. She walked to the door, and, holding it open,
wished the servants would not be so long.

Her pale face tinted with the gentlest rose as she took a letter from
the silver tray handed her by the footman. She nestled back into the
cushion, held the letter up, and then threw it down. 'Dear!--it is not
from him. Naughty man that he is!'

Presently she took up the neglected letter, and for the first time
observed it was from abroad, and for Captain Norwell. Supposing it was
from one of his Indian relatives, whose communications had always been
equally intended for herself, and as Norwell invariably flung them
over to her unopened, with, 'There, dear; it's more yours than mine,'
she broke the seal; and in a few brief moments all Maida's care, pain,
and tears were nullified. The shameful secret was in his wife's
possession.

Mary withdrew the envelope, and her husband's own handwriting met her
sight. She read, 'My beloved Maida,' and repeated the name over and
over again, but could not remember where she had before heard it. Then
came the name Martha Grylls--then Maida's own letter--when through all
her sweet simplicity, through all her unwillingness, started out on
Mary a truth she would have died to make false--a lie she would have
given her life to abrogate. But the awakening had come--there was no
reprieve--no room for doubt--the accusation was from Maida--the
confession from himself! Poor Mary! you must depart from your
paradise, for the evil one is there. The canker is at the root of your
gourd, and it perishes before you. Your sun goeth down while it is yet
day. She was not one to show either grief or joy by ecstasy. When the
array of servants filed silently in for evening prayer, and when the
butler laid before her the Bible and Prayer-book, she merely raised
her eyes to him, and shook her head, how drearily I and faintly
articulated, 'I can't to-night!'

And more silently the servants glided from the room--each mystified
and sorrowful at what should ail their gentle mistress.

There was the same dreary refusal of the refreshment tray, when it was
wistfully presented her by her own maid--for all the others had feared
to disturb her.

The maid waited; but Mary spoke not until looking up she saw tears in
her servant's eyes; she then smiled a smile more touching in its
misery than could have been the bitterest display of grief.

'My dear lady, are you ill?'

'Very, very!' and Mary dropped her head, but she shed not a single
tear.

'Allow me, ma'am; you should not pass the night alone. The nurse was
here to-night, and I gave her your message, saying you did not expect
to want her for three weeks.'

"Tis not that, Fanny. I do not want her. My illness is all here.'

She folded her hands at once upon the letters and her heart, for she
had resealed the former and laid them in her bosom.

'I would rather be left, Fanny; I shall go to bed presently.'

But her pillow brought no rest; her tortured mind could see but the
one picture of her unmasked husband (in his threefold baseness), and
Maida, beautiful and anguished, as she had appeared in the prison
where, when Mary Doveton, Mrs. Norwell had visited her.

No sleep had closed her eyes, when she arose and descended to the
parlour, again to await the post. The knock came; a thrill shivered
through her, but not of joy, the paleness of her cheek became yet more
deathlike as she received and mechanically opened the expected letter.
Each endearing word called forth a desponding moan, and with each word
the pain gathered more closely to her heart. She once more broke the
seal of Maida's packet, and placing Norwell's within, she closed it
again for ever. Then putting the whole in another cover, she sealed
it, and, after a few moments of anxious thought, wrote on it, with a
trembling hand:

'For dear Henry, with Mary's love and--prayers.'

The struggle was ended; she flung herself into her chair and wept
until she could weep no more. Faint and shadowlike she moved about all
that day and the next. The third morning a second note from Norwell
announced his return within two hours.

Not knowing that the servants had, after united consultation, agreed
to send for their master, Mary wondered at his change of purpose; she
had not expected his return for another week. Now one dull emotion of
suspense numbed her into a cold quiet. She heard the loud rap at the
door, and then her husband's voice sounded through the house; the
well-known airy step was on the stair, but she moved not; another
instant, the door flew open and Norwell entered. A glance at his
wife's face sufficed to tell him that the alarm of her illness was not
unfounded. He was shocked and startled, but the servants had begged
him not to let Mary know that he had been summoned.

'Why, what ails you, darling? Are you ill? Surely not, or you would
have sent for me.'

She had approached to meet him; he now folded her in his arms; but the
form he held yielded itself so lifelessly to his embrace that he was
terrified. He set her gently back on the sofa.

'Mary, love, what is it?'

He leant her head upon his shoulder, but she raised it again--not
loathing, it was not in Mary Doveton to despise, but she felt she had
no right to lie there.

'Mary, love, speak to me; what is it?'

She could no longer resist.

She fell upon his neck and wept piteously.

'Oh, Henry, Henry!' she said no more.

He observed that one hand rested firmly on her heart, as though it
would arrest a pain. He laid his hand upon it, and Mary pressed it
more firmly down.

'Mary!' he whispered.

She opened her eyes; there was that in them which made a cold terror
fall upon him.

'Oh, Mary! we are not going to be parted--are we? My life with you has
been heaven upon earth.'

'Yes, Henry; and when I am gone, forget that you have ever loved me,
and do your duty to--'

Norwell bent over her for the last word, but it was a mere breath that
passed and left him desolate.

The hand relaxed, the letter fell, and he who should have received it
earlier, all too late read his fate and the cause of his Mary's death.

That evening the fair fragile flower, with its tiny bud, were folded
in repose; both lay together in one coffin, the mother and the babe,
for the Destroyer had breathed upon them.

It was but a few days after that that house in the West End was seen
shuttered and disfigured with bills announcing a prompt and unreserved
sale, the proprietor being about to leave England.



CHAPTER XXXII. MAIDA.


MAIDA had just entered the fifth year of her transported life, of
which she had now to experience but two more changes--the ticket-of-
leave and the conditional pardon. Both were still distant. According
to the regulations then in force, she had to serve yet three years
(together with the two months abstracted from the reckoning by reason
of her punishment in the Factory) before she would be eligible for her
ticket, and she must then hold that ticket a given period ere she
could claim her conditional pardon. But all save her mistress had
given up speaking to her of either the one or the other. To both these
indulgences she displayed so utter an indifference that her master
deemed it useless to encourage her with the hope of them, and Mr.
Herbert considered it more a mortification than otherwise to her, to
have either of these presented as incitements to good behaviour. Mrs.
Evelyn would still threaten her with a protracted term of involuntary
servitude, when the quiet curl of Maida's lip alone showed how little
the threat affected her.

She had dropped into a peculiar position in the family--a position of
her own forming, one on which her fellow-servants dared as little to
encroach as to question its existence, though to spite it they
persecuted her in every possible way; a position which her master did
not choose to molest, for all his wife's protestations against convict
upstartism.

'Clara,' said he, on one occasion, 'the woman is quiet, orderly, and
for work is worth two servants; so long as you have no fault to find
in these respects I must beg you to have the rest left to me.'

'But she is not orderly, my dear; look at her now, when I'm sure she
ought to be in the scullery cleaning her knives.'

Mrs. Evelyn pointed towards the garden with one hand and with the
other tapped violently at the glass; then stepping forward, she called
out:

'What are you about there, Gwynnham, idling your time, or rather my
time?'

Mr. Herbert, who had been reading at the table, looked anxiously up as
Maida mounted the steps and stood in the balcony.

'Did you call me, ma'am?'

Mrs. Evelyn, annoyed at her husband's tenacity, snappishly asked:

'What business have you in the garden at this hour?'

'I was tending my flowers.'

'Then you ought to have been scouring your knives.'

'I have done them already, ma'am.'

'Then you've your master's boots.'

'They are also cleaned, ma'am.'

'Then your

'I have none, ma'am.'

'Such nonsense! you know that's a story; there's always plenty of work
in a large house.'

Maida's lip quivered and her eye flashed.

'Now I hope you are not going to be insolent. I haven't seen that face
put up for a long time: I was in hopes you had left it off since you
professed religion.'

Maida fixed her eye haughtily on her mistress, who went on to say:

'The thing is, I plainly see, we've been too indulgent to you; you
forget what you are; and that'll never do: your own will mustn't be
allowed as it has been.'

'I pray God that my will may never again be my guide, ma'am. To be
left to my own devices would be to be given over to evil,' exclaimed
Maida, the fire fading from her glance, and an expression of pain
gathering on her countenance.

'What does the woman mean?' turning to Mr. Herbert: he arose and
approached the window.

'Once, ma'am, my own will was the rule of my life, now God's word
directs my actions, or I could not, in silence, hear you so speak,
CONVICT though I be!'

'I wish it would teach you not to be insolent.'

'It teaches servants to obey their masters in all things, and I humbly
desire to do so.'

'Yes, indeed! or you can soon be made to.'

Maida clenched her teeth and remained silent.

'You can go now; but really it's very hard a mistress can't speak a
word to her own prisoner-woman without such a to-do, and that after I
have kept you three years and a half.'

'I am ready to fulfil your wishes, ma'am,' said Maida meekly.

'Go along, Gwynnham! I haven't patience with such nonsense, making a
goodness out of your duty, which you either must fulfil or get into
trouble; you know it's only because Mr. Herbert is listening to you
that you talk such cant.'

'I acknowledge it, ma'am. Had not my master's reproachful look
reminded me of the solemn vow I made, I should not have borne with
you, for grace has not changed my nature, though it has subdued my
temper.'

The calm dignity of her voice and manner at once irritated and awed
Mrs. Evelyn. She hastily replied:

'Well, I don't believe in convict piety; go and act it, then perhaps I
may.'

'Where shall I find the needlework, ma'am?'

'If you can't get it without troubling me, leave it alone.'

'Then I may continue my work in the garden?'

'If the master chooses; but remember I don't choose to have you speak
of the flowers as yours--it's a piece of insolence in a convict that I
cannot stand.'

Maida stared.

'You did! you said you were tending your flowers. If the master allows
you to work in the garden, that does not make them yours.'

'I beg your pardon, ma'am; the flowers I spoke of are mine.'

'You must have stolen them from us then!'

'I brought them from Port Arthur. They were dear---'

She stopped and cast a look at Mr. Herbert, who averted his head for
an instant, and then, with a smile, inquired:

'My Emmeline's? I must go and see them.'

Mr. Herbert went out, and Maida prepared to follow him, but her
mistress called her.

'Gwynnham, come back, you bold woman, I'm ashamed of you: do you think
a father--'

Mr. Herbert turned, and, in a decided voice, bade Maida accompany him.

She hesitated.

'You permit her, Clara?'

'Oh! it's no odds to me.'

'Maida, I rejoice to see you stedfast in the path you have chosen. It
is a perpetual struggle,' commenced Mr. Herbert.

'It is, sir; but no more so than I expected. I, as a convict, have not
the same comfort in it that a free person has, the contest being the
result of my sins, and not of my being in the narrow path.'

'Maida, one thing disappoints me. The impression you made on my mind
the first time I visited you in prison has increased with my knowledge
of you, until it has almost become a conviction, and I am disappointed
that with your open profession of religion you have made no
acknowledgment of that which, as a Christian woman, should trouble
you--'

'Sir! what do you mean? explain yourself.'

Drawn to her full height, she was the Maida of olden days, but only
for a moment.

Grasping his arm, she exclaimed hurriedly, 'Forgive me, sir; but, in
pity, put an end to my distress.'

'What distress, Maida?'

'Oh, Mr. Herbert I do not play upon my feelings! What acknowledgment
have I to make?'

'Maida, listen to me, not to me as Mr. Herbert, your master's brother,
not to me as your appointed pastor; but listen to me as one who has
watched you, and prayed for you, and--and--and cared for you; as one
who would deliver his own soul by speaking faithfully to you.'

Maida trembled in every limb. Mr. Herbert laid his hand upon her
shoulder, when, as though the touch had paralyzed her, she became
rigid and statue-like.

'Have you no secret which, as a Christian woman, you have no right to
keep to yourself?'

'Are there no occasions, sir, on which we may throw ourselves on God's
mercy without exposing ourselves to man's weak judgment?'

'Doubtless, God searches the heart; but you misapprehend me perhaps.
Simply, I would say, it is no use to kneel to our heavenly Father, and
say, "I have sinned against heaven and in Thy sight," and then,
arising, continue that sin we have just confessed--confession and
restitution must succeed each other; I deal faithfully with you.'

'And you must yet be more faithful if you would have me profit by your
candour, sir. I do not understand anything you have spoken, save that
you are torturing me; yes, by cruel degrees.'

'Then I will be plain, Maida.'

She longed to say, 'Oh don't, don't,' but she said just the reverse:

'I pray you go on, sir.'

'In the days of your rebellion against God and man, I perceived you
hid some mystery in your heart; I perceived that, with a mighty power
of self-control, you crushed your every thought, word, and deed, in
subservience to that mystery; you appeared to hug a perpetual dagger
to your heart; you smarted beneath its wound, and yet resisted help or
alleviation, setting yourself rashly and determinately to bear it. No
effort of mine has been spared to discover your secret.'

'You must have watched me very narrowly, sir.'

Without noticing these words, Mr. Herbert drew a torn half-sheet of
paper from his vest; slowly unfolding it, he held it towards Maida.

'Was there no conflict when this solemn adjuration was penned to that
base man who worked your ruin, and who must have eternally destroyed
you but for God's tender mercy--God's unceasing love?'

He held the paper towards her, but would not resign it.

She read part of one of the letters she had written to Norwell. It was
the very one she had considered most violent and earnest--the very one
that showed too much of her feelings and sorrow; fortunately it
mentioned not his name; the cold 'sir' at the commencement alone told
that it was addressed to a man.

The writing swam before her eyes; she had been pale before, now the
pallor of her cheek was deathlike, livid; but suddenly a deep purple
colour rushed over her whole face, and she clenched her hand upon Mr.
Herbert's arm.

'Tell me, sir, how came you by that paper? I defy the right of anyone
upon earth to interfere with my private actions, harmless to everyone
but myself; by what means did you possess yourself of it? I insist on
being satisfied.'

'I will satisfy you, Maida. The night referred to I could not rest--
your whole appearance alarmed me; now I may tell you I feared you were
meditating suicide; I passed the night in prayer for you. In the early
morning I heard you leave the house; I followed you, and by the way I
picked up this paper, dropped by you in your flight, and since
carefully preserved by me as a proof of what has long been established
in my mind, that there is some grand mistake in your conviction. I do
not believe you wholly guilty of the crimes for which you are in this
colony.'

'Then why have you not made your thoughts public, sir? an endeavour
should be made to clear an innocent person!'

There was a strangeness of manner and voice in the enunciation of
this, that made Mr. Herbert look hastily at her.

'Because, Maida, the time has not fully come.'

'It has not!' (The same strange voice.) 'Sir, you would be deemed a
mere enthusiast to found a plea of innocence on the ravings of a
disappointed woman--a felon maddened by her punishment, as all felons
sore. But I must leave you, sir; I am in pain, great pain. My heart
beats as though it would burst.'

'Then go, and may God assist you into a solemn duty!'

Maida excused herself from attending prayer that night; and long after
all the others were in bed, Mr. Herbert, who still read in his study,
heard her moving about upstairs. The next morning, when she had
removed the breakfast, she turned quickly to her master and said:

'Sir, I am ill; I must go to the hospital.'

'Oh, nonsense, Maida; get your mistress to give you a little gregory,
and you'll be right to-morrow!'

'I wish to go, if you please, sir; I am ill.'

'Well, then, put on your bonnet, and I'll take you to Dr. Lamb; he'll
soon settle the point.'

'My dear, if Maida's ill she had better go to the hospital; I am quite
pleased to see her so reasonable as to request it,' urged Mrs. Evelyn.

Mr. Evelyn nodded.

'Bonnet, Maida, bonnet,' and both mistress and servant knew it was
useless to contend.

'Just tell me what you complain of, and then make haste and be ready.'

'I am only sensible of a strange fulness at my heart, sir, with a
general feeling of indisposition. But I cannot be ready for half an
hour. As I do not wish to return here, I must put up my things before
I go to the hospital, for I am sure Dr. Lamb will order me there.'

Mr. Evelyn laughed.

'You've made fine plans for yourself, at any rate. Well; perhaps,
though, you want a little holiday.'

Maida did want a holiday, and she was about to have one.

Leaving her master, she went straight to Mr. Herbert's study, and
scarcely closed the door ere she said:

'Sir, do you mean to say that I cannot have God's forgiveness unless I
confess my history?'

Taken by surprise, Mr. Herbert started.

'I dare to say no such thing, Maida!'

'What do you say then, sir?'

'That you cannot expect the Christian's peace while you do not act the
repentant's part.'

'Then peace of mind is all I shall lose by telling my tale to no one
but God?'

'This is not the proper way to talk of subjects so deeply important:
if you wish to speak of these things, first seek the Holy Spirit's aid
by prayer.'

'I have been praying all night, sir, and I am driven to distraction by
the alternate light and darkness which follows me. As to propriety of
way, opportunity must sanctify that, I may not have another.'

'What do you mean, Maida?' exclaimed Mr. Herbert rising; 'your words
are strange, your manner stranger.'

'I am ill, sir; Mr. Evelyn is going to take me to the doctor, and then
I mean to enter the hospital.'

'I'll speak to my brother.'

He went towards the door; she stretched her arms towards him.

'One moment, sir. If you will wait for my dying hour, then shall you
hear all you seek to know; till then, since peace of mind is all I
must forego in keeping my secret to myself, I commit myself to God,
and resign my present peace on your solemn promise that in so doing I
shall not resign my eternal happiness; for that no mortal has a right
to do, and I have no wish to resign it. Mind, sir! I rest on your
promise that I shall not lose heaven by my silence.'

'Maida, Maida!' cried Mr. Herbert but she had left the room. As she
had her bundle to prepare, and as Mr. Evelyn was impatiently calling
for her, he had only to return to his study to pray for his convict
charge.

Dr. Lamb prescribed perfect rest with quiet; and strongly advised her
to enter the hospital. He privately told Mr. Evelyn that she was in a
very broken state of health; on the morrow he would see her at the
hospital, and report further particulars.

The gates of H.M.G. Hospital once more admitted Maida Gwynnham. Once
more her master consigned her to good, kind Mrs. Cott. On parting he
shook hands with her; he had never done so before. Observing her
gesture of surprise, he smiled.

'It's never too late to mend our ways and doings, I hope. Maida. Mind
one thing, Gwynnham--just this: I shall be as glad to see you back as
I am sorry to send you in. You know we married men can't be
comptrollers-general, or you should have been laid up at my house.'

He shook her hand the second time, and walked down the path; then
turning, he called out:

'I'll send Mr. Herbert to see you on Thursday; you'll like that,
shan't you?'

She was ordered to Ward No. 4, there to behold the Excrescence still
bearing the iron rod.

There was a grin of satisfaction on her lips as she hailed Maida back
to her clutches.

'Why, woman, what ails you? death's in your very face; are you come in
to die?'

She should have known Maida better than to suppose this apostrophe
would terrify her.

Seating herself on the bottom of a stretcher, Maida replied:

'Nurse, if you can tell me that you see death in my face you will tell
me better news than I have heard for years.'

'You don't b'lieve in hell, I suppose.'

'Yes, and in heaven too; and, nurse, I can say from my soul I hope to
see you there.'

The Excrescence grinned incredulity and malice, and then sniffed.

'Yes! I think if ever you gets there, you'll find me there before
you.'

During Maida's absence the nurse's ill-will had increased rather than
diminished, the former having resolutely forbade, her her master's
kitchen, into which she had several times endeavoured to intrude under
pretence of visiting her old patient. In this way she carried on an
extensive traffic among the pantries of masters owning former
hospitallers of Ward No. 4.

Maida tried to avoid quarrelling, but in vain; something occurred in
the course of the evening that aroused her anger and forced her into a
dispute. Nurse was a little the worse for drink (how bad, then, must
she have been?), and, clenching her fist at Maida, she swore a fearful
oath to the effect that, instead of closing her eyes and folding her
arms if she died within her reach, she would make her a corpse so
frightful as to make the devil himself take to his heels. She would
fix open both eyes and mouth as though she were 'a-calling for mercy
that was never a-coming.'

In spite of herself a cold shiver ran through Maida as she heard the
malignant threat. She dropped her head, and sent a silent prayer to
God, and then, rising, prepared to undress for the night. She lay
still for two hours, when the oppression at her heart became
unbearable. She sat up in the stretcher, and begged the nurse to allow
her to sleep semi-recumbently, and received the pleasant answer:

'She might sleep in hell if she liked.'

Mrs. Cott came round, showing her kindly face at the bedside of every
poor, weary patient. When she arrived at Maida's she exclaimed:

'Go for the doctor; this woman's worse!'

The house-doctor came and prescribed for her; he requested that some
one should sit up with her, and that he should be called if certain
symptoms appeared.

But sitting up with a convict is a dissimilar operation to sitting up
with a free patient; there is an obvious want of that comforting
confusion, of soft treadings, murmuring voices, and thoughtful
appliances which love alone can produce. There may be muffled
steppings to and fro, but then list slippers and not affection is the
cause--list must be quiet. Surly and gaunt the Excrescence took her
place near Maida. Then, throwing off her cap, and rumpling her
grizzled hair, she became, in the dim light of the lamp, the ex-
lunatic of the transport magnified into double deformity.

'Nurse, do you think Mrs. Cott would send for Mr. Herbert Evelyn?'

'I am not going to try; you must bide without the parson for to-
night.'

'Nurse, I think I'm dying; I feel so strange.'

'The devil may care, I don't. He's more concerned in it than me or
anyone else.'

Maida tried once more.

'Nurse, do send for Mr. Herbert; I'm sure he'll come. I must, must see
him.'

'If you are worse I'll send for the doctor, and nobody else.'

All was silent for a while.

'I'm dying!' whispered Maida; but the nurse heard not: she was heavy
with drink bartered from the patients; and soon her thick, bull-like
snore was the only lullaby that soothed the dying convict to her last
rest.

For Maida Gwynnham was dying! Had the nurse been awake she might have
heard a low, gurgling sound working its way up Maida's chest; she
might have seen her raise her hands and gently shut her own eyes; and
then she might have seen her arms fold upon her breast. Ere long she
might have seen the stream of life ooze, crimson, from Maida's mouth
dyeing her pillow in its fatal stain. But nurse saw none of these
things, and when, startled up by an extra loud snore, she took the
lamp and held it over the bed, with a shriek she let it fall: the
victim was beyond he 'power. Laid in the decency of death by her own
dying hand, Maida Gwynnham needed not her services. It was as though
an angel had descended and touched her with heavenly calm.

A vessel lies beating about in Storm Bay. God's ban seems on it. It
has been signalled since morning, yet cannot approach the land. The
captain laughingly says there must be a Jonah on board; and as he
speaks, his eye rests upon a tall figure wrapped in a mourning cloak,
standing aloof from all, gloomy and taciturn, watching the contrary
sea. The deep-set eyes of the stranger in turn are raised, and fix on
him a long, deliberate stare.

'No offence, I hope,' says the captain.

The eyes drop quickly back to their watch of the striving waves.

Well, now, I shouldn't like such a welcome as that every day,' thought
the captain, turning with a sense of uneasiness from the yellow of
those bloodshot balls.

But Norwell knows not that he has turned such a look on the speaker;
it came up from the darkness of his soul, and unawares wandered in the
direction of the voice that had uttered the name of the miscreant
prophet.

Norwell knows not that he has become a bye-word on board, nor that he
is a marked object to all--not so much by his mourning garb, which
proclaims him a desolate man, as by a forbidding countenance, which
hints at a troubled conscience. He has been shut up four months with
his fellow-passengers, yet has made no friend, formed no acquaintance.

The children have shunned him; the sailors declare he is bewitched.
With one consent the wind side of the poop has been accorded him, and
his measured tread has become an accustomed sound on board. It ceases
not in storm or calm, in the tropical heat or the cold of the Cape; he
seems to be walking out a penance, which he dare not stop at the peril
of his soul.

* * * * *

The next day Mr. Herbert sat at his seat, poring as usual over his
book, when a large letter was handed him. When the tea was brought in
he took the letter and opened it.

'Herbert, what is it?' cried Mrs. Evelyn. 'My dear, he's faint.'

But Mr. Herbert, waving his hand, signified No. Mr. Evelyn picked up
the paper his brother had dropped. It was the following official
despatch:--

'H.M. General Hospital.
'5th February, 18--.

'The Bodies of the undermentioned now lie at this Establishment
waiting interment.

NAME.                  AGE. SHIP.      DESCRIPTION RELIGION.   DATE OF DEATH.
Mary Ann Crawford      17   Anna Maria Prb.        Protestant  4th February
Eliza Brown            46   Do.        T.L.        Do.         4 February
Martha Grylls
(alias Maida) Gwynnham 26   Rose of    P.          Do.         5 do.
                            Britain.

'To the
'Rev. H. Evelyn.
'etc. etc. etc.'

'JAMES CURGENVEN.
'Superintendent.'


The brothers exchanged glances of surprise. Tears suffused Mr.
Evelyn's eyes as, walking to the window, he used his handkerchief with
that doubtful sound that may equally serve for cold or emotion.

Returning to the table, he threw down the paper before his wife.

'There, Clara; what think you of that? Read it.' Mrs. Evelyn obeyed.

'Well, who would have thought it, my dear? I'm quite sorry. I've lost
the best servant I ever had.'

'Poor, poor Maida! caught like a rapture from our sight!' said Mr.
Evelyn, dashing down into a chair.

'Well, George, my dear, how could one know she was going to die?'

'I should have known it, then!' exclaimed Mr. Evelyn impatiently. 'It
was like herself to steal ahead of us in the dead of night.'

He dipped his teaspoon up and down a few times in his tea; then
pushing the cup untasted from him, he left the room.

But Mr. Herbert had left the house.



CHAPTER XXXIII. NORWELL.


'An end is come.--The end is come.--It watcheth for thee.
Behold it is come!'--EZEKIEL.

BUT the vessel is at last in harbour. The port-officer has been on
board, and all the passengers are free to land. Boats in all
directions push from the wharf to bring back their living freight. The
poop is quickly deserted of all, save one passenger, and that is
Captain Norwell. It seems he does not know his own mind, for more
violently than ever he paces the deck, until reminded that he must
leave the ship, the cargo being about to be disgorged. A boat in
watching for this last chance of an engagement is stoutly hailed by
the mate, and in another moment Norwell steps into it, and anon he
lands on Tasmanian shores.

'Where shall I take you, sir?' asks the cabman, who happens to be
Robert Sanders.

'Anywhere,' replies Norwell.

'Darned asy!' nods Sanders, mentally determining to set him down at
the Macquarie Hotel, which having done, he flops.

'Straight from home, sir? Fine country this for them that's free.'

Norwell shudders. Simple as are these words, they tell him he has
reached his goal, and is once more near Maida.

'Very like, sir you'd find a drive round agreeable. I'd learn you up a
bit of what's worth--the gentry in general likes it.'

Anything is preferable to being left to himself, so Norwell re-enters
the cab, and Sanders drives slowly on, stopping occasionally to point
out surrounding beauties.

'The gaol, sir. Rare wall that. Darned fool that would clim' 'em.'

The bloodshot eyes frown on the heavy wall.

'Canaries, sir, just fledged.'

Norwell looks up, but the butt-end of the whip is pointing down at a
road-gang clanking by in their yellow clothes.

'Do'e see the toppermost of them that's harnessed to the cart--he
there looking desperate bad of the weakness--he's a rale gentleman--a
new hand; he takes darned shy to the pick apparently. He's he that
frisked the sank.'

Norwell looks, and the man exhibited shrinks agonizedly, perceiving
that he is the object of attention.

'Confound it!' mutters Norwell. 'Is that the way?'

"Es, sure--all alike--why, they'd clap them there irons and things on
you, if you was Government.'

'Get up here!'

The harnessed men had stopped to take breath; at this word of command
they trot off again, and Norwell groans aloud.

'Prisoners' hospital, sir.'

'Go on, can't you!'

Sanders obeys, but again out goes the whip, as they turn up Campbell
Street.

'Prisoners' barracks, sir--us calls it Tench.'

Another movement.

'Prisoners' burial-ground. Darned ugly, ain't it?'

'Confound the man! Can he show me nothing but prisons?'

"Es, sure; sure, sir. Over there, straight along's the female
barracks.'

This Norwell stands up to see, and Sanders, delighted that he has at
last interested his fare, continues:

'Government women what's out of places, or from Anson or Cage, bides
in there till they'm hired out. Drive 'e round if you like, sir, and
turn back New Town way.'

But there is nothing in the low, scattered buildings that tempts
Norwell. With an abrupt 'No,' he throws himself moodily back into the
seat. Pulling the check-string shortly after, he asks where he must
inquire to find any particular convict.

'Government books, sir; 'bliged to report ourselves once in six
months; or mayhap you'll find your man at Tench. Can I assist you,
sir? The new gentry's generally got a prisoner they wants to find out
for somebody at home. I've helped out a lot.'

But learning that it is a woman Norwell is in search of, Sanders
advises him to try first at the Brickfields. To that depot they
accordingly drive, and are there told that Martha Grylls, under the
alias of Maida Gwynnham, is at a Mr. Evelyn's, the Lodge.

'Darned! my old place!' cries Robert. 'Then it's Madda Gwynnham you'm
after! an old mate of mine--a darned fine woman; but she's had no end
of trouble. Her and my wife is fine together.'

They arrive at the Lodge, and to Sanders's perplexity, the gentleman
will have him ring at the back-door, notwithstanding that he is warned
of the certain salute there awaiting every unfortunate interloper from
the mouth of Jags, the terrier.

'Take your fare, and leave me. I'll find my own way back,' says the
Captain, delaying to ring.

'If it's Madda you'm after, she's an old sweetheart of mine, and very
like she'd be pleased for me to bide 'long with you, to ase the
shyness a bit.'

'Curse the man! How he worries me! Go about your business.'

And aggrieved, though Norwell has given him half a sovereign, Sanders
drives slowly off.

As the key turned in the gate, Norwell caught hold of the handle. What
if it should be Maida herself? His heart sickened, and his brain swam
dizzily. But it was a man who appeared.

'Round to the other door, sir.'

'No, I only want to inquire for a person called Gwynnham, said to be
at a Mr. Evelyn's.'

'This is it, but Gwynnham went away from here sick yesterday. She's at
hospital. You won't see her to-day, sir--to-morrow you may; it's
visiting-day there.'

But Norwell could brook no to-morrows. Be his doom what it may, he
must know it to-night. Inquiring his way to H. M. G. Hospital, he
sought admittance of the porter. That official subjected him to a
course of interrogations, until through the gloom of Norwell's
countenance broke a fierce light.

'Confound the man! Will you admit me or not?'

A gentleman who had just entered without hindrance turned and looked
on him, as from his clenched teeth hissed these angry words.

'Who are you, haunting me thus?' thought Norwell, when, meeting Mr.
Herbert's eye, a rush of memory brought back to him the English prison
and the scene at the railway station.

'That man blends with my fate. I hate the sight of him. I haven't been
a day in the place ere he rises, like a ghost, before me.'

He turned to the porter, and asked:

'Who's that just gone up?'

'Parson Evelyn. You can follow him, if you please, sir.'

The porter had taken Mr. Herbert's look as intended for himself, and
hastily granted a permission that otherwise might have been forced
from him; for twice again had Mr. Herbert turned, and each time the
official appropriated the look.

Norwell waited and waited, but no one appeared to inquire his message.
He did not wish to ring, for fear he should re-encounter Mr. Herbert.

At last a woman passed down the stairs. He beckoned her out, and made
known his request. She pulled at an excrescence on her under-lip, and
seemed to think he asked impossible things.

'Quite contrary to all rule, sir. If I'd ever such a mind to oblige
you, there'd be no getting at the key--and at this time, too!'

'Key! Do they lock her up?' muttered Norwell.

'Stop where you are, sir, and I'll be back presently.'

There was something in her manner which gave him to understand that
her services were purchasable.

'If it's money that you want--'

He said enough. The Excrescence was his humble servant. After a few
moments' absence, she again appeared, but from a different door. She
signalled Captain Norwell forward, and then whispered:

'Can't be a better time, sir. The key's in the door, and there's
nobody about. Come along, sir.'

She laid her finger on the excrescence, and with a prolonged 'Hush-sh-
sh!' led him through a narrow passage at the back of the house.

Stopping at a small door, she peered cautiously around, and then
motioned to him to enter.

'It's as dark as night, woman!' started Norwell.

'Not when you'm in and used to the light, sir. I'll go round and slide
away another bull's eye.'

A cold tremor ran through him. He could not advance.

'You don't mind going in alone, sir? I can't for my life go in too. If
I was caught 'twould be certain trouble. That's her over there, right
along by the wall. Shut your eyes a minute, and then open them, and
you'll see famous.'

Norwell did so. The outer day excluded, a long line of dusky light
stretched athwart the room from the bull's-eye, and rested on a row of
narrow benches. As his eye gradually accommodated itself to the misty
twilight, a strange horror rooted him to the spot. Suspense and dread
smote heavily at his heart. He scarcely dared to look to the right
hand or to the left.

A flash of a terrible truth struck through him as a bench shaped
itself into a coffin, and then another, and another, and another
loomed out of the dim forms before him, until he found himself
surrounded by coffins of every size; but they were empty, waiting for
their prey.

In unconscious terror he advanced.

'Oh, God! Maida, are you here?'

He spread his arms wildly around, groping--for what?

From without, the nurse pulled back a second bull's-eye; another line
of light rushed in, scattering the darkness before it, and made way
towards Norwell. He need look no further, for Maida was at his side.
His long black cloak swept over the coffin.

'Sir! sir, do'e come out, it's mortal cold in here,' at last murmured
the nurse, tired of waiting for the gentleman. But he neither moved
nor answered; she was getting frightened; the tall black figure
keeping silent watch in the dead-house aroused every superstitious
feeling in her wicked heart, but more terrible to see was the
speechless despair of that tranced face. She would rather look at the
corpse than it.

'Sir, sir, do 'e come along out!' her teeth began to chatter.

'Woman, this is a foul trick to play upon me.'

But how guilty soever elsewhere, here nurse was innocent. Taking for
granted that he knew of Maida's death, she had never supposed but that
he had sought admission to the corpse. That voice, heaved up as from a
sepulchre, was worse than all: vowing she'd never again let strangers
into the dead-house, she fled from an apparition so fearful; she cared
not who met her so long as she escaped the dreadful place.

Lost in his own dark thoughts, Norwell looked not beyond the second
line of light, or in the remotest corner he would have seen a man
intently watching; but Norwell saw nothing save the one object before
him.

The coarse envelopments that shrouded Maida disfigured her not. As she
lay there she had never looked more beautiful, the loveliness of which
pain and sorrow had deprived her had been restored by death.

'Could I but cry aloud, would she raise those lashes and speak
forgiveness to me?' groaned Norwell.

The line of light was obstructed by an approaching figure that had
emerged from the darkness of the remote corner. Norwell's thoughts
were still at work too busily, confusedly, poignantly, to notice it.
The figure stood by him; still he observed it not, till a calm, low
voice thrilled through him, and made him start, again to meet Mr.
Herbert's piercing gaze.

'Her first rest, sir!' He pointed to the coffin, spellbound, Norwell
had no choice but to face his adversary.

'Who are you, sir, in God's name?'

There was no defiance in the speech; it was spoken tremulously, almost
beseechingly.

'As you will answer at the dreadful day of judgment, when the secrets
of all hearts shall be disclosed, I adjure you tell me what you know
of this woman,' exclaimed Mr. Herbert, letting his hand fall audibly
on the side of the coffin.

'Sir, rather tell me what YOU know of her?' said Norwell, shrinking
back a step or two.

'I know she died a victim to some base man! and I would seek that man,
sir, and show him what a destruction he has wrought. Would God I could
bring him here, and face him with his crime!'

'You have your desire, sir. Behold the man! I only wait for vengeance,
sir. I have crossed these seas to seek my just reward. I can bear
myself no longer. I crave the avenger's hand.'

'You can know no judgment swifter or more keen than that which those
pale features pass on your conscience. Let them declare your doom.
They will be merciful if they dare.' Mr. Herbert pointed to the
corpse. 'Would God that every dissolute man could stand where you do
now; could look around this house and count the coffins yawning for
their victims--for here are many who had been still in peace and
health but for the seducer's art.'

'Do you know no more than that, sir? Tell me, what know you more of
me?' said Norwell huskily; the bloodshot eyes lured darkly, terribly,
and he almost stayed his breath to hear the answer.

'I know where your crime commenced towards this woman, and there it
ends. But what intervening guilt has helped to fill your measure of
sin, I cannot tell, and now before the living God--before this
murdered woman--I charge you reveal what more you know of her.'

Norwell laid his forefinger on Maida's hand, and murmured as if in a
dream:

'She lived, she suffered, she died for me, and in my stead; go and
tell them so, and bid them find in me, Captain Norwell, all they
sought of guilt in her. Were these hands made for murder?--then there
is murder in heaven, and I shall go there as well as she.'

His voice ceased, and he fell unconscious to the ground.

* * * * *

We would not have you follow him; his dark, despairing eyes would
haunt you evermore. His oft-repeated question none can answer; he
would ask it you, for his voice finds but one utterance, and that is
full of woe.

'Is she coming? Maida, Maida, is it you? O God! O God! It was I! It
was I!'

The door of his cell draws back, and he gazes out upon you as a spirit
lost. One alone can soothe him; one before whose tall and solemn
figure the raving maniac cowers into silence, until, reassured by Mr.
Herbert's sad but kindly voice, the bloodshot eyes look up, and the
lips utter a murmured wail:

'O God! O God!'

Then Mr. Herbert secretly pleads that the wail may become a prayer in
the ear of Him who willeth not the death of a sinner, no, not of the
vilest. As he prays the eyes of the maniac fix earnestly on him, and
the lips whisper confidentially:

'Did you love her? did you love her?'

Put ere Mr. Herbert can answer, the patient returns to his raving and
breaks out:

'Is she coming? Is she coming? O God! It was I, it was I!'

Stories so strange are hinted of the patient known as No. 12, that
visitors to New Norfolk Asylum are fain rather to hurry by than to
enter his cell. It is said Government takes particular interest in
this patient and is most watchful over him: it is well it should be
so, but, alas!

'Care comes too late when is the mischief done!'



THE END



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