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Title: Under Capricorn (1937)
Author: Helen Simpson
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Language:  English
Date first posted: July 2008
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Title: Under Capricorn (1937)
Author: Helen Simpson




BOOK I.

I have read that Capricornus, the heavenly Goat, being ascendant at
nativitie, denieth honour to persons of quality, and esteeme to the
Vulgar. Can a Starre do so by onlie shineing on a Woman in her pangs?
Shall Capricornus bind a poore man the world ouer, no part, no Land
undiscouered, where hee may shake free? I will not belieue it: nor that
Honour (not forfeit) can be for euer hidd by decree of this distemperate
Starre.

--_A Limbo For Ladies._




BOOK ONE



(i)


The year, eighteen hundred and thirty-one. The place, Sydney; a city
whose streets were first laid by men in chains for the easier progress of
the soldiers who guarded I them. This city, growing slowly about a
population of convicts and soldiers, had at that date no very penitential
air. The harbour water, lively with sun; the many windmills, leisurely
bestirring themselves; the ships at anchor, hung with marine laundry,
ensigns trailing; the smoke of domestic chimneys: all these things
contrived to lend Sydney an air of expectancy rather than despair. Maps
show where the habitations were gathered; they were not many, though
diarists and letter-writers of the period agree that they were tasteful,
and showed up cleanly against the dark universal background of trees.
"Not," says one lady, "that I should like it in a _picture_ so well as
our softer and more rounded perspective, but in a new place, where one
likes to see everything plainly, it is very pleasant."

So much for maps and for prose. Poetry of the place and period lacks, or
is not much to the purpose. Still, the Chancellor of the University of
Cambridge did, in the year 1823, announce Australia as the subject with
which his would-be medallists must concern themselves; and since one of
the unsuccessful competitors was William Charles Wentworth, born in the
new continent, his descriptions must be allowed to possess some
authority. After an account of Cook's discovery, with a digression upon
the fate of La Perouse, Mr. Wentworth proceeds:


Lo! thickly planted o'er the glassy bay,
Where Sydney loves her beauties to survey,
And ev'ry morn, delighted, sees the gleam
Of some fresh pennant dancing in her stream,
A masty forest, stranger vessels moor
Charg'd with the fruits of every foreign shore.
While landward--the thronged quay, the creaking crane,
The noisy workmen, and the loaded wain,
The lengthen'd street, wide square, and column'd front
Of stately mansions, and the gushing font,
The solemn church, the busy market throng,
And idle loungers saunt'ring slow among--
Shew that the mournful genius of the plain
Driv'n from his primal solitary reign,
Has backward fled, and fixed his drowsy throne
In untrod wilds, to muse and brood alone.


His account almost fills in the picture, which yet needs to complete it a
sense that this new country was no mere, copy of the old, but had already
taken on a character of its own, defiant, tough, indolent; as though the
idle loungers of Mr. Wentworth's poem were to be viewed with their hats
cocked, pulling in their belts upon hunger with a laugh, and having a
loaded pistol somewhere ready about them which they were prepared upon
slight occasion to use. There was freedom, derived as usual from slavery.
There was money, derived about equally from labour, land, and luck. There
were social gatherings, junketings, as there are upon a ship in
mid-ocean. And for the whole company of exiles, bond or free, there was
hope.

It will be seen that Sydney, in the year 1831, may very well serve as
setting for a highly-coloured, improbable, and yet simple story.



(ii)


At about five o'clock in the afternoon of December 3rd of that year, a
ball hoisted upon the south yard-arm of the flagstaff at the entrance to
Port Jackson showed that a sail had been sighted, approaching from a
southerly direction. Later, a flag with St. George's Cross was run up,
signifying that the sail in question belonged to a Government ship,
full-rigged at that. Almost immediately after, down came this flag, and
was replaced by a Jack.

Excitement became evident among the boats in the Pilot's anchorage. At
South Head the semaphore began to function, reporting, in a series of
jerks and flickers:

A Government vessel. Between 2 and 3 leagues S.E. of the Head.

To which Fort Phillip, above Sydney Cove, responded in the same lingo:

Report all movements of vessel signalized. Is there much sea between the
Heads? State all particulars.

South Head:

This is the vessel expected. Vessel has signalized probable arrival
before nightfall. Correct: previous signal should read, vessel does not
expect to anchor before morning, owing to lack of wind.

Fort Phillip:

Confirm. Repeat.

South Head:

Vessel does not expect to anchor before morning, owing to lack of wind.

Fort Phillip:

Be more attentive.

Despite this rebuke Fort Phillip was not displeased to have twelve hours'
respite. In twelve hours buttons might be polished, arms burnished, the
fear of God be put into a guard already drilled to unthinking unanimity.
In twelve hours some sort of a reception could be arranged, with flags
and bunting, down by the Quay; the citizens' enthusiasm was more likely
to show itself freely at the beginning of a hot December day than at a
similar day's end. There were speeches to be memorized, beavers to be
brushed, children's locks to be put in paper; fin all this twelve hours
was by no means as much time as could be desired, but it would have to
serve. The Commandant sent off runners into the town, to the Colonial
Secretary, to the President of the Legislative Council, and the Principal
Superintendent of Convicts, then sat down, hooking up his close military
stock, to an evening meal with his officers, which ended with the health,
drunk in Madeira that had taken a six months' roll round the Horn, of the
newly-arrived Governor, Sir Richard Bourke--

"And may he not be another of these prigs that we have to foot out of the
Turf Club," said the Commandant as he set down his glass.

The Governor at this moment, in a costume by no means conventional, was
lying full length on the deck of that interesting vessel from the south,
Foxhound, about which the air clung, never stirring. He said to the young
man at his side:

"The climate's giving us a warm welcome, anyway."

"It's an omen," the young man returned, "don't build on it. They threw
out Bligh, they threw out Darling. For a Governor that's tired of life,
I'd say this was a delightful appointment."

"Did you ever hear how they shifted Darling? It was at a Turf Club
dinner. They drank his health, all very civil; but when it came to the
Jolly Good Fellow that should have followed, the band broke out with
'Over the Hills and Far Away.' Darling looked like a sick hen, one of the
soldiers told me that was there; sent in his resignation from the Club,
and got out of the country soon after. By God, if they'd done that to me
I'd have known what answer to make."

"You'd have whistled, Will ye no come back again,' all on your own."

"I might, if I'd thought of it. It will take more than a couple of
fiddlers to get rid of me."

"There's some of this Irish boasting we hear so much about. You'll change
your tune when it comes to making a nation out of the scum of England."

"I know plenty about the scum of England. If you can make an army of it
good enough to beat Boney, you can make a nation."

"Well, be quick about it. I don't want to be half a century out here
making my fortune."

The Governor laughed; and looking at the stars, which kept their places
upon the chequer board made by spars and rigging, observed:

"I never can get the lie of these upside-down planets into my head, after
all these years."

"My idea," the young man went on, following his thought, "is to benefit
by corruption. I can't make my fortune any other way; not by fighting,
it's too late for that; not by inheritance, I haven't a relative left
that's solvent. As for work--true, you can make money working, but it
spoils you for the enjoyment of it. And I won't marry an heiress, the
pick of them's gone, the only ones left weigh twenty stone or grow
beards. I like reading poetry with my feet on the hob, but it takes
money, that kind of innocent life. So all that remains for me is to be
the Governor of New South Wales's sixth cousin."

"Why can't you write poetry for a living? Lord Byron, I believe, did very
handsomely out of his books. You were always a scribbler."

"True," answered the young man with a bitterness which made the Governor
turn his head, surprised. "I was always a scribbler."

"I had no notion of being offensive, Charles."

"The truth is never offensive; distasteful, perhaps. I am a good enough
poet to write little stuff for the keepsakes. That is the best I can do,
though I sweat blood. Therefore, my dear sir and cousin, I won't do it.
And therefore, my dear sir and cousin, I propose instead to batten on
you."

"I'll disown you once I'm installed."

"I'll lead a faction if you do. I'll invade Government House and rout you
out from under the bed covered in fluff, like Bligh." The Governor did
not heed him, still staring up, hands locked under head. "Stars! What
good are stars to a Lieutenant-General, except to remind him of his damn
decorations? Stars are poetical stuff. I'm going below. Are you staying
here on deck all night?"

"I am."

"Where's your sense of discipline? Do you think the sailors will think
much of a Governor when they can see he has less hair on his chest than
themselves?"

"Go to your cabin, young fellow-my-lad, and get some sleep if you can. We
have a long day to-morrow."

"Pleasant dreams to your Excellency. Mine, I hope, will be about
shameless great bribes."

"I don't have dreams. Good night."

The stars moved steadily as a clock's hands; steadily the water reflected
their lights, which wavered now and then and were lost in shining
furrows, a shark's fin breaking the surface. The lantern on South Head
stared, never blinking. His Excellency regarded all these things in turn
as the ship swung about, and fell asleep thinking of Spain, where he had
served, and where the nights had something of this quality. His last
conscious thought was dredged up out of memories he did not know himself
to have acquired; the Spanish word _guardaamigo_, which, as he
recollected, meant the prop set under a criminal's chin while he takes
his flogging.



(iii)


Towards morning a breeze came up from the south which caught the waiting
ship broadside. The captain had been waiting for this, and his Excellency
woke to a sound of bare running feet on deck and the shouts of the second
mate ordering men aloft. It was almost dawn. As the canvas was set it
took shape against the lightening sky, squares, triangles of darkness,
soon to be turned a triumphant white by the sun. They began to move
forward; the chirrup of water sounded again under the figurehead; and the
brown rocky coast, in which as yet there appeared no opening, began to
march beside them like a guard of honour. His Excellency stretched,
regarded his dominion through a glass for some few moments, then went
below as bugles sounded in the soldiers' quarters.

He disappeared as a civilian none too particular in matters of dress. He
came on deck a soldier, magnificent in red, with a plumed hat and a
sword-belt golden as Orion's, while stars more gaudy than distant
Arcturus were disposed about his left breast. His staff in a lesser
degree glittered round him, buttons winking their tale of hours of
labour, gold-lace only a trifle dimmed by weeks of sea air. Only the
young gentleman, Mr. Adare, His Excellency's sixth cousin, appeared at a
disadvantage in sober bottle-green, with the paltry chink of seals for
accompaniment as he moved, in lieu of a sounding jangle of spurs. But he
was not abashed; he criticized the popinjays with his head on one side,
and ridiculed the delicate care with which they avoided maritime contacts
for their white trousers. They for their part eyed him with the
traditional disdain of the military for free agents, and put on formal
brisk voices, reporting to the Governor, as though he had been blind, the
topography and incidents of Port Jackson:

"Pilot coming aboard, sir. Quarantine station, sir, on the right. Passing
the lighthouse and signal station, sir. Shark Island, sir. The fort known
as--h'm--Pinchgut, sir."

All this information the Governor acknowledged with nods, as though he
were not as capable as these gentlemen of reading the chart unrolled in
front of him. His eyes were taking in other things; a foreshore which
reminded him of coasts in the South of France; the many bays, deep water
evidently, by the sheer slope of their rocks; the situation of the
distant town, not clearly seen as yet; the green of the foliage, uniform
and dull as a rifleman's jacket.

"A number of small boats, sir, coming out to welcome you, I imagine."

The staff officer's observation was not at fault. Small boats were all
about the Governor's ship as she moved into Sydney Cove, their occupants
evidently out for a spree; young men managed the sails, long brown
youngsters, watched by their womenfolk from under bonnets trimmed with
English flowers--artificial daisies, roses, violets. The boats very
skilfully accompanied His Excellency's ship, and from time to time one of
their occupants would raise a hand, or a woman would lift a child's brown
pud and wave it in greeting. There was no cheering.

"Well, I don't know," said His Excellency to an officer who commented on
this fact; "they can't tell yet what they're in for. The Duke used to say
he valued the cheers he got after a battle, but didn't give a rap for any
that went before."

At the landing-stage, however, things were more formal. Persons could he
seen there, grouped, and shifting from foot to foot as the December sun
bore down upon their trappings, which glinted in an official manner and
showed in outline all the authentic terror and exaggeration of the
warrior's dress. Those shakos, tall feathered stove-pipes, had for
ancestor the brazen casque of Paris, whose plume most horribly did dance.
Those epaulettes, jutting from the shoulders, were contrived to awe
innocent naked savages accepting them as earnest of the gigantic deltoids
below. Those chains, studs, spikes of metal terrified by their very
irrelevance, their threat of dreadful purposes not understood. Yet
shakos, epaulettes and the rest of the costume were comfortable to the
eyes of His Excellency's staff, who saw in them only the norm, and found
reassurance in shining thus familiarly upon a foreign strand.

A naval cutter came out to meet the ship as she anchored. Into this His
Excellency stepped with his party, and was rowed ashore to receive
salutes, cheers, and a speech of welcome delivered by some civilian
dignitary. A regimental band played "Blue Bonnets." Against this the
Governor heard, behind his shoulder among the crowd, an echo of "Over the
Hills and Far Away." The whistling ceased as he turned. With a tightened
lip and hands folded quietly upon his sword-hilt he waited for silence,
then spoke. His voice, clear of any parade-ground quality, yet made
itself heard beyond misapprehension.

"Gentlemen: I am new to your country, and therefore, at this stage, I say
nothing of my intentions concerning it. I say only that I am sent by the
Government at home to guide you to prosperity as far as the judgment of
one man may do so. Your problems are to be my particular study, and your
well-being my particular care. I am not unaware that there have been
clashes in the past between governed and governors, nor shall that
knowledge weigh with me. I am here to perform my duty; which, as I see
it, is to promote the order, good feeling, and increased wealth of this
Colony. I rely upon your co-operation to attain these ends. I am prepared
to work with any man, whatever his station, who will help me to attain
them, and to punish any man, whatever his station, who by his conduct
imperils them. Gentlemen, I have nothing further to say at this moment,
only that I am greatly obliged to you for your welcome."

Mr. Adare was impressed. It was the first time he had heard his relative
speak as one who had seen men and cities, served in epic wars, and borne
rule in the continents of Africa and America. Other listeners too found
this kind of talk to their taste, and the civic dignitary, walking beside
the Governor towards the carriage in which they were to ride, made
approving comment on it:

"That's the kind of thing we never heard from Governor Darling. Always
roundabout; never took responsibility where he could dodge it--"

"I don't care, sir, to discuss my predecessor."

"Oh!" said the civic dignitary, taken aback but not daunted. "Certainly.
The less said of him the better. Well; and what do you think of our
harbour?"



(iv)


Next morning, having unpacked and distributed his staff (rather a tight
fit) among the rooms of Government House, His Excellency said to his
cousin, whose decorative idleness he found irritating:

"There is something to be done that you may as well do. Go to the offices
of the Bank of New South Wales; introduce yourself as coming from me, and
deliver this letter to the Secretary, or one of the Directors. It only
concerns me, in so far as I promised Lord Goderich I would deliver it.
Talk to the Secretary, and invite him in my name to dine. These fellows
know more than Government men about conditions in a country. You might
ask him for a little advice on your own account; prospects for
investment, and so on."

"I don't view with any gratification the prospect of earning money by
work in this heat. His Excellency's cousin may use his nose, I suppose,
to find out what sinecures there are?"

"His nose; not my name."

"Sea-green Incorruptible! Or shall we say in deference to the climate,
lobster-red? Adieu, adieu. Remember me!"

Mr. Adare put the Colonial Secretary's letter into his tail-pocket and
sauntered out into the sunlight. Sydney Cove was on his right, quick with
shipping; on his left the trees of the Government Domain proffered a thin
shade. He kept to the left, not for this reason only, but in order to
beat the marches of the city, of which Macquarie Street formed, at this
point, the boundary. His eyes, alert as the infernal brickish dust of
passing vehicles would allow, considered houses and people
dispassionately, the horses with unaffected interest. They were worth a
hunting man's attention. Their unkempt appearance, shaggy legs and manes,
could not cheat an Irish judge accustomed to pierce such disguises. Mr.
Adare, having seen in the course of ten minutes' walking almost as many
rideable horses, began to have a better opinion of the Colony.

As for the streets themselves--he had turned at right angles and was
surveying King Street--they were unpaved and damn dirty. They were full
of masterless dogs. They offered no picturesque black men, such as Cape
Town afforded, no woolly heads adorned with branching horns, or strings
of beads, or trophies not easily identified. They resembled, in their
undisciplined dusty straight lines, the streets of a manufacturing city
at home, save for the depth of the shadows that fell across them, and the
height of the Cornstalks who marched along them, trees walking. No
colour. No signs of wealth. No signs of pioneering and danger. Why did
the place exist?

The answer to that question, at the very moment his mind asked it, came
round the corner of an intersecting street to its own odd musical
accompaniment. Against the regular beat of soldiers' feet sounded a
shuffling, and above the shuffling a chinking, not rhythmic, never
ceasing. Mr. Adare stood, and at his case reviewed a convict chain-gang
as it passed along. Their dress was uniform, spattered with a pattern of
arrows; only their caps varied from the fisherman's knitted jelly-bag to
beavers not yet wholly devoid of nap. These last perhaps had been worn in
London, where their owners exercised those arts for which thieves' jargon
found such enlivening terms; smashing of queer screens, shaking of skins,
ringing of castors, working the cat-and-kitten rig, or nibbling while
Oliver whiddled. Most of them held up their chains as they walked by
means of a string hitched to their belts; even so the dulled chinking
made itself heard. No man stepped out as a free man may, as the guards
did; the chains hobbled them too securely. All kept their heads down
against the sun, all shouldered their long-handled, small-headed
road-maker's hammers because that was the easiest way to carry them; and
the effect of this uniformity was a slavish, hopeless air such as might
hang about duppies, those dead men who labour for a witch's profit among
Jamaica canes.

Mr. Adare, impressionable, but fortunately volatile; wax to receive, but
water to retain; Mr. Adare did not care for the mixed feelings this
encounter had roused in him. Pity without the means to relieve is emotion
wasted; anger with the human race in general on account of the cruelty or
folly of particulars is not to be justified. So he told himself as he
walked on towards George Street, while the shuffling and chinking took
itself off in another direction. Nevertheless, the generosity in him was
uneasy at finding no outlet, and he stared offensively at passers-by who
took convicts in chains for granted. A quarrel would have quieted him
down by allowing him to translate emotion into action; a translation, in
which, as happens often enough, the original impulse might be lost. But
he went unsatisfied. No man took exception to his looks, no woman
observed him. In a mood still half-truculent, he found the turning for
George Street, and entered the premises of the Bank of New South Wales.

The Secretary, whose manner, whiskers, and excellent brown sherry were
not to be distinguished from similar attributes of Bank secretaries in
England, was glad to welcome His Excellency's sixth cousin. He took Lord
Goderich's letter with just the right bow, accepted Sir Richard Bourke's
invitation to dine with just such another, and seemed, having given this
faultless performance, to wish to take up his labours. But Mr. Adare was
disinclined to move out of a pleasant room into the strengthening sun. He
began earnestly to talk, to enquire, and the Secretary was obliged to
make answer.

"What openings should you say promise best for a young man--for myself,
let us say?"

"As to that, it is not easy for me to speak. If you could give me some
notion as to your interests, your capacities--"

"My capacities? Considerable in some directions; riding, drinking. As far
as intellects go, I won't boast."

"I referred to the question of money; money to invest. I believe that
land in the neighbourhood of this town, for instance, is bound to
appreciate. In twenty-five years, let us say, I can very well imagine a
capital increase of a hundred per cent in the value of land in certain
localities."

"That's a long time to wait."

"Not for such a considerable increase, Mr. Adare. A man does very well,
let me tell you, if he is able to double his fortune in that time."

"I haven't a shilling, though."

"Then," said the Secretary, losing that faint breath of enthusiasm which
had informed his voice at the thought of a hundred per cent, "it becomes
quite another matter."

"That's to say, I've got a hundred pounds."

"Well, Mr. Adare, it is not much, I tell you frankly. It is not much.
With a great deal of industry, and frugality, and foresight I don't say
it may not be made to do--"

"But I've no wish to work, my dear sir. That's not my intention at all."

A clerk knocked, thrust in his smooth head decorated at the ears with two
quills like those of a Secretary bird, and announced:

"Mr. Flusky to see you, sir."

"Pray ask him to wait a moment. Just a moment. Say that His Excellency's
cousin is with me just now."

"I won't detain you. Curious name, Flusky. Where have I heard it?"

"One of our most considerable citizens," said the official, rising.
"Rich; a landowner."

"No, it's not that. Something, somewhere--" Mr. Mare snapped his fingers
at the elusive memory and let it go. "Well; so you haven't any formula
for getting rich overnight?"

"The old one, Mr. Adare; only the old one, I fear."

"No good to me. Flusky! Now where the devil have I heard that remarkable
name?" He observed the Secretary looking a trifle nervously at the door,
which, however, his retiring clerk had shut safely. "Oho! He's a
what-d'ye-call-it, is he?"

"Emancipist. Yes."

"I like that. Emancipist--I must get used to it. What was his crime,
anything spectacular?"

"Mr. Mare, allow me to give you a warning. Out here we don't talk of the
past. The future, sir. This is a country of the future."

"Landowner and lag--yes, I like that very well. Introduce me, will you?
Come on, man," as the Secretary looked dubious, "I'll behave myself."

The Secretary, unwilling to keep his richest client waiting yet reluctant
to blend him even for an instant with the aristocracy, bowed helplessly
and held open the door. A figure in shapeless woollen clothes turned
towards them, and Mr. Adare was able to note a flabby bulk, a nose
pendant after the Jewish manner above a lip that might have lengthened in
Wicklow, and a pair of unwinking mild eyes before Mr. Samson Flusky was
formally introduced.

"Mr. Adare," said the Secretary with a nervous laugh, "has come out from
Ireland to make his fortune."

Mr. Flusky smiled without speaking and replaced a warm right hand on the
knob of his stick.

"I understand," said Mr. Adare, "there's something to be done in land;
but I don't want to wait for the money till my beard's as long as your
arm."

"Ireland," Flusky repeated, looking at the Secretary; then transferred
his gaze to the young man's face. He pronounced the word as no Englishman
ever does; his deep voice had a smooth easy quality. "Is that where you
come from? What part?"

"The West. D'you know it?"

"I might," Mr. Flusky answered without expression. "So you want to make
money. You're not the only one."

"And make it quick," said Mr. Adare briskly. "I don't feel any call to
stay long in this country. Not but it has a deal to say for itself, no
doubt; only it doesn't talk my language."

"You'll stay, surely, during His Excellency's time of office at least."
The Secretary spoke to Flusky: Mr. Adare is related to Sir Richard
Bourke; came out in his ship."

"Lagged yourself for fear the King should do it for you, eh?" said Mr.
Flusky disconcertingly. "How much have you? There's money in land, when
the Commissioners will let you buy."

"I told him so," the Secretary offered immediately. "Money needs time, as
I told him, to grow."

Mr. Flusky seemed to meditate, both hands upon his stick, under-lip
shooting out, eyes cast down. Mr. Adare in this moment attempted to sum
up the impression left upon him by his first encounter with an
emancipist, convict turned citizen. He found himself staring at the thick
unmoving fingers, trying them in this position or that; steady upon a
trigger, bunched about the haft of a knife, crooking to strangle. He
could not fit them to sly tricks with pockets, or skilful tricks with
pens. They proclaimed violence. And when, lifting his eyes, he met the
mild gaze of their owner he had a little shock, as though a naked man had
in the wink of an eye clothed himself. Flusky was saying:

"All the same, Mister, if you've time to listen there's something might
interest you."

"My office, gentlemen," the Secretary offered. "Quite at your disposal."

Flusky moved to it, not thanking him. He sat square in one of the chairs,
and rested his head upon the interesting hands which his stick supported.
He continued to wear his hat. Adare swung himself on to the Secretary's
desk to face him, but from perversity or perhaps curiosity, would not be
the first to speak; marvelling, not for the first time, at the power
which hedges the man who can hold his tongue, and determined to try his
own hand at the game.

Mr. Flusky seemed to have nothing immediate to say. He sat unthinking to
all appearance, challenging the younger man's patience. Mr. Adare began
to give himself away. He would not speak, but he could not keep still.
The manoeuvres of a pair of flies were a relief to his eyes, a sudden
itching of the nose afforded him a gesture. He became conscious that the
situation was a ridiculous one. The flabby fellow with a hat on, the
youngster point-device, both with tongues in their heads, and not a word
between them to throw at a dog--Mr. Flusky earned his gratitude by
releasing a sentence first.

"I don't know how my proposition'll strike you, Government House and all.
Maybe I better let it alone."

"Don't lump me with Excellency. He's not responsible for me."

"Well," Mr. Flusky considered. "But it might be awkward, all the same."

"I assure you I didn't come out here to wear gloves, Mr. Flusky." The
mild gaze surveyed his faultless tailoring. "These are all the clothes I
have, but if you feel you could talk more freely to a cabbage-tree hat
I'll step out and buy one."

"Do you know anything about land out here?"

That was a surprising question, coming as it did with no change of tone
or expression; Mr. Adare made frivolous answers as was his custom when
taken aback.

"They tie a string to a dog's tail, don't they, and hit him a kick, and
when he stops running that's a mile."

"You're thinking of Van Diemen's Land," Flusky said, not smiling. "The
man that could kick hardest got best measure. That's how it did ought to
be, in a new country."

He went back to his silence. Mr. Adare, amused and a trifle irritated,
began to guess.

"Your proposition has something to do with land."

"Well, you see," said Flusky irrelevantly, roused from meditation, "the
Regulations are made by Englishmen. You can't run three sheep to an acre
here. A sheep to three acres, more like. You got to have room to move
stock about."

"I suppose you can get as much room as you want, if you're prepared to
pay." Mr. Flusky shook his head, rolling it sideways upon his fingers
that were laced upon the stick's knob. "You can't? Why not?"

"No more grants. Land all to be sold at auction, and a Board to see one
man don't get more than his share. You come at a bad time for pickings,
Mister. August the first, that was the start of it."

"Wait a minute," Mr. Adare bade him. "This is interesting. I was always
good at drawing-room games. Don't tell me what you want me to do, let me
see if I can divine it--"

"I won't tell you," said Flusky briefly.

"Now wait a minute. Plenty of land available. Correct?" He looked at the
white face, took a blink for assent, and went on with his deductions.
"Land--but a Board to see a man doesn't get all he can pay for. What's
the answer to that? If a man were to get someone else to put in for the
land he wanted--am I getting warm?" He perceived the beginnings of a
smile. "I'm on to it, I believe. Aha! The drawing-room's no bad training
ground."

"A man that puts in for land has to go before the surveyor and show the
purchase-money in cash," Flusky said without expression.

"What of it? I've got a hundred pounds." A smile commented. "Not enough?
Well, damn it, I suppose I could borrow."

"You might."

"Perhaps from the man that wanted the land. I dare say he'd stump up
enough to show this surveyor."

"He might, then."

Mr. Flusky, setting his stick between his legs, leaned back to seek a
wallet. He pulled it out, and chose notes from it, cracking each one,
holding watermarks up to the light. Mr. Adare watched and reckoned the
total as he laid a bundle clown; a thousand pounds.

"Five bob an acre," said Flusky, "that's the Land Board price." He took
out another note. "No need to show this one to the surveyor."

"Fifty," said Mr. Adare, craning to look at it. "Fifty for a signature,
the first day of landing. No need to ask if this sort of transaction's
legal."

"It's not legal. I tell you that flat out."

"But it's the way to get things done?"

"I'm not saying nothing. I'm not asking you, Mister." The young man came
nearer, picked up the bundle, laughed.

"Why, good Lord, for all you know I might put it on a horse." Flusky was
silent. "Don't you want a receipt?" Flusky shook his head. Mr. Adare had
a qualm. "Are the notes bad 'uns?"

"There's a lot of coves out here haven't forgot their old trade, I'll
allow. But those is right 'uns."

"This is the maddest transaction I ever put a hand to, and I've been in a
queer rig or two. If I had a grain of caution--but I haven't, thank God.
It's a bargain, Mr. Flusky."

"There's nothing on paper, I'd remind you." "Well, but between Irishmen,"
said Mr. Adare impulsively, and held out his hand.

How much part in this impulsive decision was played by recollection of
the chain-gang, Adare was not able to determine; but he was aware, as he
struck hands with the emancipist, of a glow, a release of feeling which
might not improbably be traced to that source. The clasp over, he
laughed.

"Courtesy title of Honourablel" said Mr. Adare. Then, but to himself:
"What the deuce have I let myself in for?"

He was perfectly ignorant of the Colony. The man's statement concerning
land might be true or it might not. The bare facts were that he, a guest
in the Governor's house, was conspiring with a total stranger to do the
Government. He reassured himself; it was only in principle that the
Government would suffer, what could it matter to the Treasury whence came
the purchase-money for land; an ungenerous whisper reminded him that the
interview had been private, there were no witnesses, no documents--there
his thoughts checked sharply.

Mr. Flusky appeared to be troubled by no ironical questionings. He
reached out the knob of his stick and rapped on the open door with it.
After an interval for dignity, the Secretary answered this summons.

"Business concluded, gentlemen? Satisfactory, may I hope?"

"Mr. Adare wants a word with you."

"I am at Mr. Adare's service."

"He wants," said Flusky, interpreting the young man's quick glance, "to
deposit a thousand pounds." The Secretary bowed, looking from the square
flabby man to the thin rosy man. His glance was enquiring. He said,
however, nothing of that hundred pounds previously mentioned as the sole
fortune of his new client, who began nervously to talk:

"I take your advice, sir, as you see. I buy land. Well, I have seen two
foot by four of painted canvas change hands for a thousand pounds, to say
nothing of five foot two of womanhood. How far will it go in kangaroos,
do you think? By George, gentlemen, I hope landowners in your country
have a better standing than they do in mine. They shoot us from behind
hedges, like partridges. It is not the way a man of spirit would choose
to die, winged by a Whiteboy with his dirty coat inside out--"

Mr. Adare prattled on. He found the entire trust reposed in him by this
stranger oddly touching, and it was his form of self-defence to talk when
silence would have revealed emotion. The emancipist received this patter
with no change of expression and said nothing. The Secretary, making out
a receipt for the money Adare handed him, observed the numbers of one or
two of the notes, familiar owing to certain odd groupings of numerals. He
knew to whom he had paid them out. But he too said nothing, having
learned that discretion is the first recommendation of a banker, more
especially where his richer clients' interests are concerned.



(v)


Life in this newest of worlds was patterned in circles upon much the same
plan as life in the old. Outer darkness, the convicts, merged into a
twilight existence of emancipated men; traders could be dimly perceived,
country landowners took the air with a vague grandeur, becoming visible
at certain periods, like the remoter stars; but the innermost circle,
that which accepted the full light of His Excellency's countenance, wore
or had worn uniform. A red coat or a blue one, a wig and gown or the
beaver of banking, with an occasional pair of clerical gaiters--this
uniformity represented right thinking, and true dogma, and the power to
bind and loose. Uniformity prevailed, as might have been expected, at the
parties attended by uniforms and their moieties. There would be offerings
of wine from Portugal and France; cheeses brought by sea from cool
English dales; sugared fruits that had travelled half the world round.
These were consumed to an accompaniment of talk well suited to London
dining-rooms, but to which the warm Australian air and a pertinacious
humming of insects gave the lie. Proverbs turned head over heels in this
new uneasy country, and the gourmet's maxim, Tell me what you eat, that I
may know what you are, ran in Australia thus: Tell me first what you are;
thence I may deduce what you cat, what you wear, the matter of your talk,
and the shape of your wife's coiffure; besides making a tolerably
accurate guess at your past income, and a reasonable forecast of the
income which will be yours in future.

So much Mr. Adare had discovered in the course of a few weeks' sojourn.
He wore no uniform himself, but the glamour of the regulation dress was
all about him; he was distantly related to shako and sabretache,
vicarious spurs chinked upon his heels, and he was received with all the
interest and respect due to a bearer of such emblems. However, at the end
of a brief period he had begun to weary a little of the uniforms and
their wives, and said as much in His Excellency's hearing.

"You're a thankless pup," returned Sir Richard. "They do you well enough,
don't they?"

"Well enough. But I'm getting to know all the faces by heart--well, not
that; not by heart. By my liver."

"That's something you can't avoid in a small community. The officers in a
regimental mess get sick of the sight of each other's faces in peace
time. So they do in a man-of-war. It has to be put up with."

"But their smugness I can't endure. Twenty-five, thirty thousand people
in this town, and the same dozen self-satisfied phizes at every
dinner-table, like wooden nags on a roundabout."

"What else is to be done? You can't mix a society, it gives too much
offence. Consequence is all that many of these people get in exchange for
exile. Besides, no man cares to drink with the fellow that may have
picked his pocket in the old country."

"Would His Excellency's credit be involved, for example, if his
irresponsible cousin were to accept this?"

The Governor held out a hand for the letter his irresponsible cousin
offered. It was an invitation to dine with Mr. Flusky, signed not by but
for him; _per pro_. William Winter, secretary. The paper was good, the
writing copper-plate, the wording conventionally civil; only the
astonishing address--Minyago Yugilla, Woolloomooloo--betrayed the
letter's New World provenance.

"Who is this fellow?"

"Rich. A decent sort of an Irishman. Emancipist."

"What was his offence?"

"I can't find out." This was true. Adare's curiosity had uncovered as yet
nothing of his benefactor's past. He repeated the Bank secretary's
phrase: "Anyway, what's it matter? This is the country of the future. And
besides, damme, isn't there old Uncle Lawrence at home that we can't
trust with the spoons?"

"There seems no reason why you shouldn't go. We've got to mellow these
individuals somehow before we find ourselves sitting beside them on a
jury. Wait a moment. I remember something now about this man."

"So do I, but for the life of me I can't tell what."

"Something about his wife--" The Governor pondered, then dismissed the
puzzle. "My dear fellow, do as you please about this, so you don't
involve me. What d'you suppose those extraordinary words are?"

"It's where he lives, evidently."

"Yes, but the meaning." He looked up as a youngish civilian entered,
carrying a portfolio. "Banks, you know something of the aborigines'
tongue; can you tack any meaning to this?"

He underlined the curious address with his thumb-nail and handed the
paper over. The newcomer read, and ventured:

"I happen to know--this is the name of Mr. Flusky's house, is it not? The
meaning is, Why weepest thou? I have always wondered why Mr. Flusky
should choose it."

"The wife, perhaps. A romantic, Byronic, sort of a female might fancy
such a name."

The civilian made no comment, but his correctness of attitude, his
portfolio, recalled the Governor to a working frame of mind. He dismissed
his cousin abruptly, and settled down to consider the Colonists'
proposal, shortly to be submitted to the Parliament at home, for a
Legislative Assembly of their own.



(vi)


Mr. Adare, thus licensed to accept, accepted; having no least notion of
what he was about, or what forces he was setting to work. He was not
accustomed to look forward, or to calculate sequels; even had he
possessed the highest degree of prudence, he could hardly have read these
few polite written words as the warrant setting forth a new course of
existence for several people. First, the receipt of his letter produced a
remarkable effect in the pleasant capacious dwelling in Woolloomooloo,
which Mr. Samson Flusky had elected to call by so odd a name. (He had no
idea of the words' meaning; but hearing the house thus referred to by
blacks perpetually encamped in his garden, he had adopted their
outlandish phrase, the more readily that he had no wish to preserve, as
so many of the other exiles did, any memory of a home on the far side of
the world.) Mr. Adare's letter set half a dozen activities taking
direction. Miss Milly, a large woman in carpet slippers, upon whom the
domestic authority of the establishment devolved; Miss Milly, surname
forgotten long ago, who could slap up a dinner, kill a rat, or--as had
once been proved to the discomfiture of a visiting clergyman--deliver an
excellent impromptu prayer; Miss Milly was summoned, and bid look to her
staff, that they behaved themselves and were up to their work on
Wednesday week. This order she received with a sniff, and withdrew to
convey the sense of it to a mixed lot of female convicts, who, accustomed
as they were to fight bloodily, to drink rum when they could get it and
eau-de-Cologne when they could not, took philosophically her command to
"act ladylike for once." Then it was the turn of William Winter,
secretary, a gentlemanlike person doing time for the seduction of a
minor. He was new to his assignment; indeed the first task that had been
set him was the drawing up of a menu for Wednesday week. He demurred;
knew nothing of the resources of the country, what meats were
procurable--

"Don't trouble for that," said Flusky easily. "Anything you say, I can
get."

William Winter searched his memory. Meals in France; the delicate
ridiculous ices of the Palais Royal, wine-dark soup of snails; meals at
Oxford tables; meringues, a boar's head whose glass eyes stared from
buttered sockets, larks with a bay leaf on their breasts; meals less
clearly remembered, by reason of the ladies and wine that had accompanied
them. He conferred with Miss Milly, summoned from among her kitchen
furies to aid, and between them a programme of courses was assembled, to
which William Winter gave French names. When the plan was drawn out he
submitted it to Husky, who glanced at the paper, counted the courses with
a moving thumb, and asked:

"Is this a slap-up dinner?"

William Winter reassured him. Everything of the most expensive,
everything out of season or reason would appear upon the table, in order
serviceable as the bright-harnessed angels of Milton. Flusky nodded, and
turned away. Winter stood, wondered, risked a suggestion.

"Am I to show the menu to Madam?"

Flusky stood still.

"To who?"

William Winter knew that his employer must have heard, and did not repeat
his question. He was aware that somewhere in the large house there dwelt
Flusky's wife, though he had not seen her, and though Miss Milly brushed
aside questions. He waited therefore; but he had met his match at that.
Flusky took up the paper on which the list of dishes was written, put it
away in one of his sagging pockets, and sat down tranquilly to light a
cigar such as he smoked perpetually, throwing the butts away before half
the smoke was done: his one extravagance. When the cigar was going he
gazed wildly through the smoke at William Winter, and the gaze was a
challenge. The seducer (who had cut no very gallant figure when pursued
by angry brothers on horseback, flourishing long-tailed whips) did not
meet it. He busied himself mending a pen, and prepared, with every
appearance of earnest attention to business, to receive orders.

These took the form of a command to write out further invitations.
William Winter had not been long enough in the colony to understand how
improbable it was that any of them would be accepted, but he was inclined
to question his employer's insistence: "Say it's to sit down with the
Honourable Adare." Commissioners of this and that, elderly Colonels and
Judges, were not, in his experience, lured to dine by the promise of
meeting an Irish sprig, aged twenty, of no particular influence or
notoriety. But the solecism had to go down, repeated ten times, and a
servant was sent off on horseback with the notes, sealed and impressed by
the Secretary's own signet ring, a proud crest which he was perfectly
well entitled to use.

The dignitaries, unexpectedly enough, found themselves able, pleased,
delighted, free to wait on Mr. Samson Flusky at the time he named. Their
wives, however, with gospel unanimity, could not come. Flusky took the
news with only one comment, a slightly bewildered question to his
secretary:

"But don't they know I've got the Honourable Adare?"

They knew it. But they did not want him as sugar coating to the pill of
Mr. Flusky's wife, about whom nothing was known, and upon whose
respectability they were unwilling to stake that consequence which was
their all. William Winter, casting about for a formula which should
convey a hint of this to the giver of the feast, observed that individual
toss away his cigar, a gesture habitual with him to underline a decision,
and heard him declare, without heat:

"Well, but, damn them; she shall be there. Henrietta shall be there."

This was the first time William Winter had heard Mrs. Flusky's name. Its
prim ladylike quality puzzled him, for he had added to his vague
suspicions a fact or two; cries heard from her room sometimes at night,
and rich dresses, torn and soiled, coming downstairs over Miss Milly's
arm. The mistress of the house gave no orders, took no walks, ate alone,
living a life of her own, meaningless yet apparently content; the life of
a goddess without worshippers.

But she was to come to the dinner, and take her place at the foot of the
long table. William Winter, setting out in copper-plate on cards the
guests' names and titles, looked up at the sound of an order:

"My wife at the foot. I'll take the head. Write her name: Lady Henrietta
Flusky."

"But that's--excuse me, sir. That's what is called a courtesy title. It
is borne by daughters of nobility. The wives of--private gentlemen--can't
claim it."

"Write what I say."

William Winter shrugged, swallowing down further comment, but a little
sorry to see how his employer persisted in social error. To atone for the
various enormities Flusky had obliged him to commit, he took trouble in
composing the table, allowing precedence due, constructing harmonies upon
a figured bass of dignity as the Colony understood that word. The
Governor's Private Secretary he set at Mrs. Flusky's left hand. On her
right, as a newcomer and the guest of honour, was to sit the Honourable
Charles Adare.



(vii)


The night of the dinner was hot; nevertheless, most of the servants kept
sober. Miss Milly maintained them so. She raided all cupboards in the
morning, and locked up any liquor that might conceivably he employed as
stimulus or soporific; marching to the clank of keys at her waist as to a
solemn music, and with her own hand adding the final glorification of
sherry to the turtle soup. Her eye was an arrow, her tongue a flail. She
had all the attributes of deity, save omnipresence; she could not,
unhappily for the issue, be everywhere at once. Thus at an hour when the
hostess, dressed, curled and becomingly restless, should have been
awaiting her guests' arrival, only Flusky was in the withdrawing-room,
standing four-square, never shifting the cigar from under his drooping
nose, nor moving his hands from his pockets. William Winter's alertness
had perceived a kind of scurry among the maidservants at one period,
following the departure of Miss Milly upstairs, and read a kind of
satisfied thunder in that personage's brows when she returned, the
expression of one justified in an ominous prediction. But nothing more.
There was nobody to question. He had to make what he could of the fact
that Flusky stood waiting alone.

The dignitaries arrived. Flusky, correctly waistcoated and cravatted,
received them with an odd dignity of his own, and made his wife's
excuses:

"My wife isn't any too good, can't be with us. She hopes another time
you'll give her the pleasure."

The dignitaries eyed one another, and at once became more at ease, though
it might be supposed that one or two of the married men regretted they
would have nothing of interest to tell their wives. Mr. Adare even voiced
this regret, saying that a dinner without ladies was no better than a
board-meeting. There was laughter, and they went in to Miss Milly's
turtle soup.

Mr. Adare and Banks, the student of aboriginal tongues and Colonial
conditions, found themselves separated by the empty chair, the glasses
and knives and forks, that should have accommodated their hostess. Both
looked idly at the card, then quizzically at each other. As the first
glass of sherry went down and the noise of gentlemanly talk grew louder,
the Irishman said to the student:

"What is she, really?"

The student shook his head, and lifted an empty glass with significance.

"That way, is it? I meant the name, though."

Banks again shook his head, looked for a moment at his host, and
shrugged.

"I see," answered Mr. Adare; and felt a moment's compassion for the man
who could buy his wife, if she chose, diamonds for her garters, but not
keep her sober. He turned to his neighbour, a soldier, and they fell to a
discussion on the technique of flogging, and the scandal of Sudds and
Thompson, one of Sir Ralph Darling's legacies to the incoming Governor.

It was just as the dessert was being set on the table; (walnuts from
England; wine darkly glowing, that had rounded the Horn); at this moment,
when the meal had done its duty, and the gentlemanly voices at last were
loud and easy, their hostess appeared framed in the long window. She wore
the leaf-green skirt of a ball-dress, with a cambric bodice which did not
cover the rising points of her stays; red hair hung free on her
magnificent shoulders, and her bare feet were shod with ancient red cloth
slippers that flapped as she moved. She looked like a goddess careless of
human clothing, or some heroine of antiquity run nobly mad.

Flusky did not see her at first. As the heads turned and the talk ceased
he sprang up, with a face which Mr. Adare saw later in dreams, and put
out a hand to keep her back. She took the hand with a pretty readiness,
smiled, pressed it, and passed on to her place, the vacant chair at the
table's foot. There, leaning on the chair's back, she graciously bent her
head and spoke:

"Pray, gentlemen, excuse me. I was not aware of the hour. It is not too
late, I hope, to take a glass of wine with you."

Her speech was blurred, the syllables ran together as though written on
damp paper, but the quality of the voice was not to be mistaken. Mr.
Adare, for something to do, moved back the chair for her. She thanked
him, and sat rather suddenly. The guests still stood, glancing under
their brows at each other, until Flusky's voice loudly bade them sit
down, sit down. Uncomfortably the dignitaries took their chairs, but the
talk could not rise, it had been knocked on the head. A sentence or two,
and the chink of a decanter's lip against glass, was the best they could
do, while they directed their glances so as not to perceive the hostess's
bosom or the host's face. Thus every man in the room heard what was being
said at the foot of the table, where the red-haired woman was peering
into the face of Mr. Adare.

"You have a look of somebody I knew. Long ago. In Ireland, was it?
Somewhere--"

"I come from Ireland. Queen's County. Ballaloe. Adare is my name."

"Ballaloe. I remember. Have you not a sister named Alethea?"

She made two attempts at the name; her tongue was thick; for all that Mr.
Adare could recognize it and be astounded.

"You know her? You know Alethea?"

"Alethea Adare. We used to ride together. Riding--" She looked at Flusky,
and laughed. "Riding's dangerous. How did you leave them at Ballaloe? My
father--oh, but I was forgetting. My father died, not so very long
after."

At that Mr. Adare fairly jumped in his chair. With a glance at the card,
on which William Winter had so doubtfully set out the courtesy title not
borne by private gentlemen's wives, he said aghast and aloud:

"Lady Hattie; my God! Lady Hattie Considine, ran off with the groom!"

"Not Considine," said she correcting him, and kissed her hand, vaguely,
in the direction of Flusky's chair. "He married me, you know. Was it not
good of him? But he is such a good man. You mustn't believe the things
they say."

She rose suddenly and superbly from her chair, swaying a little with the
grace of a blown tree; filled a tumbler with port and drank it down, not
blinking; bowed one hand on the table for support, and made for the door.
Adare ran to open it. As she reached him she paused mysteriously, a hand
groping for his arm; the guests heard her whisper, after a backward look
of triumphant cunning:

"Are you any kind of shot with a pistol?" He nodded. "Pray come with me
upstairs. There's a something, I can't quite tell what, on my bed."

Three minutes later, as the uneasy gentlemen sent port round the table, a
shot was fired somewhere in the house. Each halted an instant the
movement which engaged his hand--lifting, pouring, stretching--and Flusky
made insufficient answer to the question thus mutely asked:

"Finish your wine."

Dubiously the gentlemen obeyed. Whatever their speculations may have
been, relief showed itself plainly when Mr. Adare reappeared in the
doorway, betraying no sign of a struggle in his demeanour or his dress.
He said with simplicity, and as though unaware that anything out of the
way had passed:

"She'll be all right now."

With that he sat down. The gentlemen longed to question; they waited for
his uprising as for a signal, that they might all depart together and
question him on the way home. But he sat on. At last the dignitaries,
labouring jokes, and reminding each other of business to be done in the
morning, gave up hope of Mr. Adare and departed, aware that the
unfinished story would earn them a wigging from their wives. The adieux
were cordial; the wine had been sound. At last they were gone, clop of
hooves softened by dust, voices rallying and dying abruptly as the
vehicles turned the hill.

On the shadowy verandah some blacks and their wives had gathered
unnoticed. When the door closed they ran forward, and began to stuff nuts
into their clothes, and, like so many monkeys, into the pouches of their
cheeks. They sampled the wine, spitting out claret, sour stuff, but
gulping brandy down. One of the gins drank from a little vase that
adorned the epergne, pulling out the flowers, and looking mystified to
find that these had imparted no sweet savour to their water. Another
bound up her head in a white napkin. They talked, with sudden bursts of
chatter that sounded angry, like monkeys. They were blissful; the
cigar-ends and brandy would have been enough to make them so, without the
added fun of plundering, which lent savour even to crumbled bread.

Suddenly their leader, a man wearing a brass half-disc engraved with the
name "Ketch," signalled for quiet. They listened; then, with a final
swig, a final fistful of raisins, scampered off, and were lost in the
night. Two men came into the deserted dining-room, and one looked askance
at the disorder.

"Never mind that," said Flusky, "it's the blacks. They'd steal your big
toe."

Mr. Adare sat down, choosing a chair not damp with spewed claret, and
asked his host point-blank:

"Is there anything we can do? Why don't you let her go back to Ireland?"
Flusky looked at him. He amended the question. "Make her go back, then."
Flusky did not answer, which troubled Mr. Adare. "I don't like this. This
isn't right at all. Coming into a roomful of men like that. And then
afterwards--I had a pistol on me. I shot her bogy." He pulled a little
weapon from his tail-pocket. "Get her away out of this, can't you? For
God's sake."

"Her old father cut her off, he's dead, her mother's nothing but an old
nanny-goat," said Flusky rapidly and suddenly, and he imitated a kind of
Irish country bleat. "Me-e! Me-el All the time. What for do you say send
Hattie back? What is there for her there? She can show her
marriage-lines; who cares for that? They'd respect her the more, they'd
take her back the sooner, if she'd none to show."

"What started her drinking?" asked Mr. Adare in the merest conversational
tone. "They don't get the horrors, women, till they're in pretty deep."

"I was assigned here in Sydney," Flusky answered, after a pause so long
that the young man had time to draw his handkerchief through the pistol's
dirty barrel. "I got into a piece of trouble once and they gave me up the
ladder and down--there's the marks on me yet. Hattie--she'd followed me
out. She went to the Superintendent, told him who she was. He made fun of
her. She never used her rightful name after that--it's years ago, now.
There was a bit of money from some old brooches she'd sold, bits of lace,
I don't know what. She lived on it; but the drink got her before I'd got
my ticket."

Mr. Adare looked at the flabby man, involuntarily picturing the scars
running ladderwise up his back.

"What did she say?" Flusky went on, with a jerk of the head towards the
stairs.

"Not much. I shot the bogy for her that sits on the bedpost. She gave me
a thank you, and started undressing for bed. It seemed to me time to be
leaving then."

Flusky nodded, and after a moment irrelevantly told him:

"I was their groom, ye know."

"I'd heard the story."

"It's her own people she misses. Not relations. Just the sort of women;
ladies. Since I've made the money I've taken care to have gentlemen about
the house. There's one now, my secretary, that was at some great school
in England. She won't look at him, though, squeals when he's mentioned.
She don't like the idea that he deceived some girl. Before him was a
clergyman, a very quiet man, a forger. He's got his ticket now. There's
always gentlemen getting into trouble; I can always be sure of a
gentleman, no one else will put in for them, they can't make themselves
useful, ye see; no offence. But you don't get ladies transported. So
there's no company for her, and she don't take to the others."

Mr. Adare was silent, unable to reconcile the simplicity of this recital
with the reputation of his host as a man cunning, mysterious, and blunt
to rudeness. As he sat puzzling, he was aware, as before in the hank
secretary's office, of some compulsion being put upon him. Before he
could recognize whence it came, and draw back to resist it, the words
were out of his mouth:

"Let me have a word with her. Let me try."

"Done," answered Flusky at once, "why not? You're welcome."

He stretched out his hand across the table. Mr. Adare for the second time
took it, and once again felt a fleeting wonder at himself. Flusky got up
to look for a clean glass, with some liquid in which to drink the
partnership's success. But the blacks had been thorough, every drop of
liquor was either drunk or spilled. Flusky, surveying the table, found an
unbroken horseshoe of bread, and held it out to the other man.

"What's this?" said Mr. Adare, not understanding.

Flusky smiled, spat on the baked horseshoe, and tossed it over his
shoulder out of the window behind him.

"For luck," said he.



(viii)


Next morning, before Mr. Adare had well recovered from his night's sleep,
which was apt to lie about him, like mists in a valley, till the sun rose
high, a servant knocked to say that His Excellency would be obliged by a
word with him. The message had a kind of official peremptory ring to it.
Why summon a man to an interview at break of day, whom you can converse
with over a meal or a cigar at any more civil time you please? Mr.
Adare's mind gave forth tremors. His conscience was not uneasy, but he
had fears for his comfort, vague disquiets, blank misgivings. He
presented himself, looking neat, within twenty minutes of the message
arriving.

His Excellency was in his study, not standing or marching about, as was
his custom, but sitting at a big table on which packets of papers lay. He
looked up at once, and Mr. Adare heard something resembling, had he known
it, his cousin's orderly-room voice:

"Sit down. There's something I'd like you to explain."

He did not add, If you can. But his gesture as he handed over a small
paper, half-printed, half-written, allowed those words to be understood.
Mr. Adare took, and in an instant recognized, the document.

To the Surveyor-General.

Application of _Donough Charles Adare of Government House, Sydney_, for
permission to purchase land. Dated, December, 1831.

Sir,

Being desirous to purchase the following sections of land, I request you
will obtain the Governor's authority that they may be put up to sale at
the minimum price determined by the Government, agreeable to the
Regulations of the 1st August 1831, viz.:

_200 acres in the County of Cumberland, district of Newcastle, sections
numbered 17 to 217._

I am free, and arrived in the Colony by the ship _Foxhound_ from London
in the month of December 1831. I have the honor to be, sir,

Your obedient humble servant,

D. C. ADARE.

"Is that your signature?"

"It is, yes. Let me explain this matter, there's nothing to be concerned
about--"

"But it is not your writing in the body of the form?"

"No. I can explain that. You see, I am acting on advice. This land will
appreciate in value. I shall make money by it if I wait. I can explain
the whole affair. It's really a very simple matter."

The Governor suddenly sat back in his chair.

"Very good. Let me hear."

Mr. Adare was still a little drowsy. He had not yet quite understood that
here was danger, nor had he, when signing and presenting it, studied the
document at all closely. Flusky had assured him it was the merest matter
of form.

"I've been talking--you recommended that I should do so--to men of
experience. They all have the one thing to say; one must get land. The
more acreage the better. This is not like England; small holdings, they
tell me, will not do here; one must put in for a considerable acreage, to
allow, don't you see, for accidents such as drought or any other kind of
bad season. Two hundred acres; it is equal, in fact, to a farm of fifty
acres at home. It is all a question of degree. As you know, I have no
ideas of grandeur. As Tom Moore says, 'The pride of former days, and
glory's thrill is o'er.'" He had done; and humming the tune that
accompanies those words, waited more or less indifferently for the
Governor to bid him take himself off. His Excellency, however, pondered,
tapping the document.

"A farm," repeated the Governor. "Well, I won't insult you more than I'm
obliged to, but you are a liar, Mr. Donough Charles Adare. Don't make
matters worse, don't make a fool of yourself." (The young man had given
an angry start.) "Did you look at the map, down there at the Surveyor's
office? You did not, or you wouldn't have offered me that nonsense about
acreage and droughts. What you have put in for is town land, valuable
land. The price set by the Board runs to five pounds an acre and more.
That's a thousand pounds' worth; it's land with the obligation to build,
what's more, if your application should be granted. Don't humiliate
yourself or me by any more explanations, as you call them. The truth, if
you please."

Not easy; for truth was in itself so improbable. Mr. Adare put together
something resembling a review of the facts, which included the meeting in
the Bank and the loan; but insisted that he had followed his own judgment
in the selection of land to buy--"one of these fellows said it was a
coming-along district, and I backed the numbers, the two seventeens--"

"But the money; you must have had money to show the Surveyor."

"He lent it me--this same fellow--just for the day."

"What security did you give?"

"He asked none, sir."

"I see. Did you make use of my name, then?"

"I did not."

"I'm serious, this is a serious matter. What did you promise the man in
exchange for this money? I must know how you stand."

"I repeat, nothing at all, whatsoever, of any kind, nothing."

"Come; you're this man's bonnet, aren't you? Buying in his name land he
wouldn't be likely to get on his own application?"

"I am not, sir."

The Governor rose at last, and looked at Adare steadily. The young man
cocked his chin and stared back. The Governor gave a kind of quick sigh,
then spoke with firmness.

"Your application is refused."

Adare bowed as jauntily as he dared.

"Furthermore, I must make other arrangements for your domicile while you
stay in the Colony. This is the sort of transaction--" he flicked the
document--"that I can't have carried on from Government House."

"I'll arrange at once, sir. Don't put yourself to any trouble."

"I make no further comment on your conduct. You have a good deal to learn
in the way of worldly wisdom; but don't buy your experience at the cost
of honour. That's no sort of bargain. I shall be happy to know from time
to time how you do. Moreover, some sort of allowance is due to you, in
money, I mean. Your parents contemplated your being my guest in the
Colony--"

"Excuse me. I shall do very well."

"As you please. I am at your service, should you change your mind."

"Mr. Flusky, I believe, will be good enough to house me until I can
settle my affairs."

The Governor at that put off his orderly-room manner altogether and
disturbingly. He came round his big desk, took the still young man above
the elbow and walked him about as he talked.

"You remember I had something in my mind about this man. So had you; we
couldn't hang it on to any peg, either of us. I've got the facts at
present."

"So have I, sir."

"All? You know he ran off with one of the Considine girls? And the rest
of the circumstances? Why he's out here?" The young man was silent, and
Sir Richard halted their march a moment. "The bad part of the business,
you see, was this. He shot James Considine dead, that went after them.
Shot her brother. They gave him the benefit of the doubt; said James
pulled first. That's how Flusky comes to be a rich man instead of a dead
one. But it's not a story to associate with; a nasty, bloody, derogatory
story. Keep away from it, Charles." The young man stood mulishly; Sir
Richard shook his arm with a trifle of impatience. "No chivalry, now. No
wild-goose chasing. He's a murderer, and she's all to pieces, by what I
can learn. You owe the fellow no debt, and you've done what you could.
Give him his money back, and start fresh."

But Mr. Adare was in the grip of that obstinacy which comes from the
sense of having behaved like a fool; an obstinacy not peculiar to the
young, but more common in them, since their dignity is a new and precious
pedestal. This obstinacy did not reveal itself as such to the individual
possessed by it. Hastily, it put on the trappings of generosity, and
displayed Mr. Adare to his own gaze as a noble figure forsaking the
fleshpots, a Quixote. He burst out now with something of all this, much
garbled; a new country, old scores should be forgotten, hands of
friendship, and so on. Sir Richard listened and lost patience. He too had
his dignity; it was not for him to persuade. Two sentences ended the
matter.

"Yes, yes, that would sound all very well in a story, my young friend,
but we can't afford posturing in a real situation."

"I won't trouble your Excellency with my postures any longer."

A bend of the young man's shoulders. A lift of the Governor's shoulders.
The sound of a door impetuously closed.



(ix)


"'--I think I can picture you, not working in any way, for that is
against your avowed principles, but most pertinaciously and tirelessly
watching others do so. Since there has not been time as yet for any
letter to arrive, I amuse myself very comfortably, seeing you in this
situation or that, without any danger of imagination stumbling over
truth. Have you seen any black men? Do they make anything of interest
that you could send home? It is tiresome having to abide the bragging of
Mrs. Synnott, with a trumpery ensign nephew out in the East, who sends
shawls and ivory elephants.

"'When will this scrawl arrive, I wonder? Perhaps it may not reach you at
all. The ship may go down, or be taken by pirates, who will light their
smelly pipes with the best I can do in the way of literary composition.
It is not very well worth while writing beautifully for pirates, you will
agree, and so I wander about over the paper, on which you may find, I
shall be surprised if you do not, the print of a dog's paw here and
there. They, Bess and Punch, will come in, and they scramble about so,
there is no keeping them in their places. Bess has had a litter since you
went away, two dog-puppies and three others. There was the usual talk of
drowning, but it ended as usual, with Bess enthroned under the kitchen
dresser, and everyone coming to pay respects to the full number of
puppies.

"'What else? Three or four of the women in the village are praying for
you, and there was talk of a candle being set up by old Philo Regan. I
told her it would do a Protestant no good, she had better keep it for St.
Anthony, to find her calf that strayed away. She said, whether a creature
went straying to Australia or only into the next parish, it was all one
in God's eye, so you may share the petition of the candle between you.

"'Dear brother, dear Charles, to be serious for a moment, you are indeed
very far away from us, and I can't always think with composure of the
many months that must pass before you are home again here. Please write.
It is not that which you do most easily, I know it, but say to yourself
that two poor silly women are fond of you, and will not be easy until
they have assurance that you are safe and happy. I will say it again, in
red ink if I can find any. Please write. And again, WRITE, in capitals,
so that you, who once complained of my "feathery fist," cannot but make
that one word out.'"

Mr. Adare paused a moment in his reading.

"And then she signs her name and her love. And that's the end."

"Thank you," said the red-haired woman. She did not ask to see the
letter, but Mr. Adare caught her looking at it, not inquisitively, and
gave it into her hand. She weighed it between her fingers as though quite
unused to handling such things, read the superscription, smiled, and
dropped her hands above it in her lap, where embroidery silks, much
faded, lay heaped.

"And so, have you written to your sister?"

"Not yet. The ship is only now in, I've not had the letter an hour."

"When you do answer--I have no right to ask this, no right to conjecture
what you may do, or forbid it--I hope you will not speak of me."

"Not--? But it is the only thing that will interest her, my one good
reason for writing. Why do you forbid it?"

Lady Henrietta did not answer, but began again to load her blunted needle
and draw the silk in and out, making knots for the fleeces of a canvas
flock. She spoke away from the previous matter, looking sideways at her
knot as it flattened:

"This is all I remember of all my old governess taught me. Shakespeare,
the History of England by Question and Answer--all gone, except this."

"Your sheep will thrive," said Mr. Adare, following the needle and the
cue. "Milton fed his, you recollect, on knot-grass dew-besprent, and they
did well, or so he says. But listen to me; why mustn't I write about you
to Alethea?"

She said in a low voice:

"The night you first came to this house, how long ago? Ten days only?
That night--I don't clearly recollect it. But I know, because of that
night, and because of certain other things, other happenings--"

She stopped. Adare said, sympathetically and easily:

"You mean, because you were drunk."

She stood up at that; the silks and scissors slipped from her knee. The
young man unconsciously took a step back, afraid lest she had been
wounded by his bluntness, but she followed, putting out her hands to
him.

"Do you know that's the first open word that's been said? He never
speaks. He won't let them speak, or look, not even Milly. I get the
bottles. When they're empty I hide them until there's a pile, and then,
one day, they're gone. Nobody speaks of them. I do something outrageous,
come down half-naked, scream--nobody speaks." She gripped his hands more
tightly. "That night, how did I appear? Was I--was I decent?"

"You were covered," Adare answered. "Don't trouble for that. Only you
were not quite, we'll say, the glass of fashion."

"Thank God for it. And for you, that gives me the words of comfort I've
needed. 'You were drunk.' My dear, you'll never know how I've longed to
hear a human creature's voice just saying that."

They stood together. Suddenly Adare began to laugh. She followed the lead
a moment later, rocking, half-weeping. Flusky came out on to the verandah
from his room astonished at the sound, and stood in the long window of
the drawing-room wondering at the laughers, who confronted each other
helplessly, their feet upon the fallen silks, and regarded by the round
eyes of a scissors that had dropped point downwards to stick upright out
of the floor. His wife saw him first, and still catching her breath came
towards and past him. As she reached his side she held his arm for an
instant and leaned her cheek against it; then went out, swiftly and
majestically striding, towards the shades of the garden. Adare remained.
Without self-consciousness he wiped his damp eyes, and set about picking
up the silks.

"What's funny?" Flusky asked him.

"I don't know," said Adare; for with all his impudence he could hardly
confide to this man, who himself never referred to it, the subject of the
jest. "Just something or other made the pair of us laugh."

Flusky said nothing, noting the embroidery, which for ten years he had
not seen in his wife's hands. He turned away.



(x)


"I've been talking with your husband--why didn't you dine with us, cruel
fair--as the poets say, the silly fools. How I hate poets! Why don't you
ever take a bite with us? We get on very well, but we're a little heavy
together, like brandy and cheese. Is it because you're sick of food by
the time you've ordered it? I've heard my mother say that."

"I seldom order it."

"I thought the stranger within your gates might have transformed you to a
model housewife. What a damnable thing--Venus into Dorcas! Still, you
know, it would give you something to do with your time."

Again she was silent.

"Oho! There's something in the way. Now what?" But he did not wait for
her answer. "Is there anyone I could kick for you?"

She laughed, and spoke at last.

"It does me good to have you here."

"I know that. I'm little Ferdinand of all the tracts come alive. 'O mamma,
pray put that ugly bottle down!' I take my duties seriously, it's
a mission I'm on; to restore you to that society, of which you ought to
be the jewel and ornament. Let's plan the campaign together."

"How about making your fortune? I thought that was what had brought you
here."

"I'll make yours instead, lend myself lustre that way. Where's pencil and
paper? Here we are. Now! Programme of Social Activities, (a) domestic,
(b) in social circles. Lord, lord, those social circles! How I pity you,
being obliged to shine in them. _Lux in tenebris_--and the darkness did
not comprehend it. All the same, it is your duty."

He looked up suddenly from his absurd task. She was seated in a chair
backed by sunset. The noble shape of her head could be seen against red
feathers of cloud, dark, calmly brooding. By strong daylight the skin
showed thickened and blotched, the whites of the eyes were not clear, and
the whole scheme of her beauty appeared half-spoiled, like a great
drawing sketched upon some spongy substance. Withdrawal of light gave
hack this beauty again by lending it mystery. Adare said impulsively:

"You arc the loveliest creature ever I saw in my life, I believe--except
a mare I once had that died of the strangles."

He laughed at his own conclusion. She did not, making almost passionate
answer.

"No, no. I know there's nothing left, nothing--"

"Don't you ever take a look in your glass?"

"There are no glasses here."

That was true. Nowhere in the house had he seen one, except the round
small mirror he shaved by, and he now perceived the reason; she could not
bear to be reminded of the passing of a beauty that had been sterile,
that would light no memories; of which, in this new country, no man would
say when she died, "Ah, but Henrietta Considine was the loveliest thing!"
Adare was touched with pity. He whipped off his dark green coat, and
holding it behind the French window within whose opening stood her chair,
made a mirror impromptu, in which as she turned she could see something
of her head's outline against the ghosts of cloud.

"Can you see yourself? Enough to convince? I tell you what we'll do,
we'll drive together into Sydney to-morrow, and cause a nice scandal, and
I'll buy you the biggest looking-glass I can find. It's to stand for your
conscience. Every day you must look in it, and say to yourself, Sister
Hattie, Sister Hattie, do you see anybody coming? And every day you must
answer, I see myself, myself, myself coming back hell-for-leather to make
me like I was when I was young."

He took away his coat, swung it on to his shoulders, and when he viewed
her again found her head sunk, and her hands at her eyes. She was crying;
indeed his own outburst had made a kind of clot come in his throat. He
took refuge from emotion in talk, and seizing the pencil again began to
make calculations aloud.

"We haven't got far with our plan yet. Activities Domestic; yes, those
must be considered first. What the devil does a woman find to do in a
house? I have it--back to the beginning of our conversation. One, you
must order the dinner yourself."

He set this down, neatly.

"Two, you must take up your needle. I disallow your knotted sheep.
Embroidery will not do, there is no reclaiming virtue in embroidery, it
is frivolous, old ladies in mouldy castles do miles of it, for which
nobody's the better. The new world demands something sterner. Socks! Not
flocks. I'll give you one of mine to start on, and your husband, I dare
say he'll wear out a pair or two to oblige you. Task domestic Number
Two."

He set it down.

"What shall Three be? I think I have it. To appear every evening at the
dinner you have ordered in the morning. Yes, and eat it, too. I know how
it is, you have no appetite, I know that. But that will come along. You
must dress for us; you must adorn our table, not leave us to munch
together like a pair of bullocks. And you must take a glass of wine with
us. How long since you've had a drink in public? Well, that's undoubtedly
Three."

She had recovered from her tears he saw, looking sideways at her, and as
he wrote she spoke:

"You are talking nonsense, but please go on."

"The first time anyone has ever paid me that tribute. I used to write
poetry once, did you know? Brought out--the impudence of me--a book. It
even got a critique from the Scotch Reviewers. They said what you said,
minus the last clause. Have I to come fifteen thousand miles to find my
market?"

"Charles--that is your sister's name for you, isn't it? I will call you
Charles, I think. You must believe that I am very grateful."

"My dear creature, I please myself by staying in this house--for I take
it that's what you refer to. Indeed, if I didn't stay in this house, I
should have nowhere to go. His Excellency the Governor has turned me out
into the storm. You are not to thank me for your own charity, taking in
an orphan."

"But your plans--you cannot be always talking to me. You have some
notion what you intend to do."

"None." He indicated the paper. "Unless it be this. I get the run of my
teeth, goddess dear, as Milton has it, in return for the privilege of
keeping you away from the bottle."

She said, speaking with difficulty, very low:

"Charles, it isn't only that. That came--because I had lost courage. It
is not the cause."

"Cause or effect, we'll get rid of them together. We'll present you to
the world, you'll burst upon it like Pygmalion's statue, and the world
shall rock, or I'll know the reason why. Lack of company, lack of women
to chatter and stitch with--there's your cause, I believe. But my dear,
my dear! They are a very deadly set of people, all the best ones."

"I don't want to go among them. Pray don't insist upon that; I have no
inclination to society."

"I do insist upon it. I insist upon your staggering all the wives of the
Chief Thises and Thats until they go home and beat their uninteresting
children."

"Perhaps--perhaps I have staggered them already."

"That dinner party? Pooh, it told them nothing they hadn't invented
beforehand. There must be more dinner parties. There must be races and
balls. I'll see to it. I am not _persona grata_ at Government House, but
I am personable, and a Lord's son, thank that same Lord!"

She was beginning to speak when Miss Milly came in bearing candles. (It
had grown dark while they spoke, like a curtain dropping.) The sallow
woman came in, peering, for the lights she carried blinded her, and gave
the pair at the window a look before she set the two silver branches
down. She said nothing, however; licked her finger and thumb to snuff
down one of the wicks that was flaming; withdrew.

"That's a nice sort of a family nurse, curse, worse to have about."

"She is kind to me."

"I wonder is she. I wonder does she."

"Does she--what?"

"I don't know." He had been looking intently at the door, but suddenly
let his eyes come back to his hostess. "I never could stomach plain
women. That's why I like you. The harp that once in Tara's halls might
have been strung with your hair. Or the bow of Diarmed. There's a word
for what you are."

"There is indeed. There is a word for what I am."

"Oh, not that side of you, not the drinking and the crying and the bogy
on the bed. Well, I'll change my time. There's a word for what you were
and still could be. Only I can't find it. Nobody's ever found it. There's
a young man, a poet, not long dead, and he said beauty was truth. And
there was another man asked once, what is truth; but he never got his
answer, not even though he asked God. Nobody knows what they are, truth
or beauty. Not even poets; not even lovers. And so that's why I can't
finish my little compliment."

"But you are not in love."

"No, thank God. And I'm not a poet."

There was sincerity in that answer. He had for the moment no more to say;
and with the unconcern of a young animal clenched his shoulders,
stretching, then walked past her chair out into the dark garden. She did
not look after him. She sat awhile watching insects that the candles
had drawn round them with their silent Ducdame, then stooped to pick up
the paper on which Adare had scribbled, idly, the list of her domestic
duties. She read it, smiled ruefully, and put it away in her dress.



(xi)


That large confused warm room, the kitchen of Flusky's house, was busy
after its fashion at eleven of a morning, with gardeners bringing in
vegetables, blacks coming to cadge bacon-rind or corks, and occasionally
men from the bay with unfamiliar-shaped fish strung on reeds. It was a
room drab enough to the eye, but vivid to the ear with women's talk and
the ejaculations of the stove. Miss Milly reigned there. Hers was the
pair of slippers, embroidered with life-sized sunflowers, that reposed by
the door. The nail beside the dresser was hers, on which she hung her
apron after carefully, and with a look which the women did not miss,
removing everything its pocket might contain. Her taste had directed the
embellishments--a string of paper roses in three colours, much blown by
flies, a print of Moses striking the rock, and a certificate of First
Communion in French, unintelligible, but admired by reason of its
illuminated border.

In this kitchen Miss Milly directed the preparation and conservation of
food, holding absolute sway. It was the house's first line of defence,
and she was entrenched in it. Hence, with a general's eye, she watched
and directed activities of all those who came and went about the house.
The house-women--one petty thief, one murderess (with extenuating
circumstances) and one aged female fence who gave herself airs and talked
ad nauseam about her former glories--these had friends among visiting
grooms and tradesmen, who, for a consideration, would procure them drink.
The blacks, too, and the fishermen were channels for the coming of drink
into the house. Miss Milly knew and successfully blocked all these
courses of supply, so far as her underlings were concerned; they raved at
her for incorruptibleness, and drank hartshorn or paraffin, making
themselves sick to spite her; but she observed their convulsions unmoved.
She obliged her assigned women to work, even taught them something of
house-pride and order; she trained motts and mollishers[*] to make the
kind of wives a rough-and-ready new world demanded. In the single
instance of her employer's wife her efficiency appeared to fail. Somehow,
into that upper room the bottles still found their way, and if the flow
of liquor sometimes dwindled, at other times it came in flood. Lack of
money could not settle the matter in a country where raw spirit was
bartered against a set of buttons, a weight of flour, or even female
virtue. Miss Milly, whose powers could baffle all the manoeuvres of the
assigned sots, was not able to discover a tactic which should be
effective against gentlewomen.

[*Motts, mollishers=prostitutes, thieves' women.]

Miss Milly, then, spying her ladyship's figure straying through the
garden still young with morning, went into the upper corridor and looked
about her. William Winter was coming upstairs. She beckoned him sharply.

"Give me a hand here. There'll be something to carry; I don't care to get
up one of the women."

From curiosity only he obeyed, and followed her into a bedroom whose door
he had often eyed, from which in the night sometimes came whimpers and
talking, endless talking, by one voice only. It was a pleasant room, with
a vast wooden bed. He noted that one of the upstanding pillars of this
bed was scored as though a bullet had whipped past it. The untidiness of
the place was fantastic. There were clothes spread about the chairs and
floor, enough for a dozen women's wearing; candles everywhere, one
guttering still in broad daylight; an ancient trunk open, all its
contents tumbled. Above the smell of scent was a sweetish pothouse reek
of spilled rum.

William Winter was shocked by this disorder. He did not choose to let his
eyes reckon it all, but observed instead the view from the window, which
looked east, towards spurs of land as yet uncleared shutting out a view
of the harbour's length. He could see, down in the bay, one or two craft
moving slowly upon the light morning breeze, and a dark fin travelling
fast like a tiny sail blown by some ill wind of its own. He did not look
at the unmade bed nor the stockings cast upon chairs; he preserved a
certain gallantry in his downfall, a corner of civility where he retired
when he wished to reassure himself that he was still a gentleman. Miss
Milly, too, did not gape about her, but told him sharply to look and find
if the madam was still in the garden. He saw the movement of a yellow
dress and reported it. Miss Milly, satisfied, proceeded to a cupboard
where she bade him attend her, stripping on her way a sheet from the bed.

The cupboard held unnumbered dresses; and among the dresses, hidden below
their skirts, wrapped sometimes in a petticoat or a shift, were bottles,
all shapes, all sizes.

"Hold this," said Miss Milly, gripping the four corners of the sheet so
that it might take a load; and she picked up the bottles quietly, one by
one, talking with affability:

"I have to do this while she's out of the way. Not under madam's nose,
dear no! That wouldn't do. 'How do they come there? What d'you mean,
storing rubbish among my things?' That sort never admits it. Well! Only
ten this week--that's having something to occupy her. Mostly there's a
couple of dozen. I'm sure I wouldn't have asked you, only I thought
there'd be a heavy lot."

"What am I to do with them?"

"Ketch the blackfellow is in the kitchen. He sells them to one of the men
in the bay. There's an idea--what do you say? He's making the whole of
one side of his house out of bottle bottoms. It's the only good use for
bottles ever I heard of. For mortar, he shaves his dog. You need hair for
good mortar. Why, one of the old governors, he used to shave the convicts
all over; said animals was too valuable. That's how the barracks was
built, against the direct command of God. 'Ye shall not round the corners
of your head, neither mar the corners of thy beard.' Well, better be
going. Madam's not dependable, what I call; may be on us any minute."

They went down together, the gentleman maneuvering his burden awkwardly
at the turn of the stairs, and along the passage which led kitchenwards.
Passing through a baize door the two simultaneously heard a voice,
unfamiliar in that place, speaking clear and high. Miss Milly checked
with one hand the steps of William Winter following behind her.

"And why not?" the voice was asking. "This is my house, I will not have
you argue with me. Which of you is the cook?"

A murmur answered. Miss Milly, tightening her mouth, came forward with no
uncertain step, and marched in upon the situation. Lady Henrietta stood
by the table, facing a pair of women, half-frightened, half-inclined to
giggle, who eyed her with most eager curiosity. She held a kitchen knife
by its point, rapping out upon the table a drummer's tune with the butt
of it. As Miss Milly entered she turned.

"What's the matter with these creatures? Why can't they give me an
answer?"

Miss Milly made oblique reply.

"The dinner's settled. It was all fixed last night. You go and take a bit
of a saunter in the garden."

Decision swelled in one voice as it fled from the other. Lady Henrietta
seemed to stoop, almost to be wheedling.

"Milly, in future pray consult me. It is for me to make the
arrangements."

One of the women set up a laugh, uneasy at witnessing an interchange of
which she could make nothing. Miss Milly turned on the noisy creature
with a gesture which silenced her.

"In future--we must make a plan, Milly, do you hear? We must order the
work between us. I've left too much on your shoulders, you arc not to
blame."

Miss Milly still stood mute.

"In future, I will come--no, that won't do--you shall come to me, in my
room, and bring a slate for the orders. Every morning. At nine o'clock.
That will do very well. Do you understand me? And we'll settle the dinner
between us."

Miss Milly answered at last.

"You'll give the orders, is that it?"

"And I had better--you'll let me have the keys."

They hung at Miss Milly's belt, a dozen of them, their steel rods shining
like daggers. She had laid open a convict woman's forehead once with a
knock from her bunch; as she walked they rang authoritatively, like
spurs.

"Oh, the keys?"

But she did not bring up her hand to unhook them. She went instead to the
door, and beckoned in William Winter. He came unwillingly, set down his
burden gently. It gave an unmistakable sound for all that, the chink of
glass. Lady Henrietta looked at it, and stopped the tune that she had
been playing with the haft of her knife on the table. She did not ask
what was in the sheet tied by its four corners, nor did Miss Milly make
any remark upon it. The convict women met each other's eyes, and one put
her hand over her mouth, from which an uncleanly noise came bursting.
This time Miss Milly did not rate her. She looked at the bundle, at her
silent mistress, and when she judged that the bundle had done its work,
with a gesture bade William Winter take it up and away. He obeyed, only
once raising his eyes; that single glance had showed him so grotesque a
flood of red colouring Lady Henrietta's throat that he could not bear to
look again. He heard, as he went out slowly under the humiliating weight
of empty bottles, the sound of her step retreating, and found it odious
that so much dignity and grace should march away at the threat, the empty
threat, he thought, making some sort of forlorn play upon words, of a
harridan. It had already caused him unhappiness that Flusky's wife never
spoke to him, and shrank aside as he passed her. He had almost forgotten
the uninteresting female minor whose reluctance had brought him to this
strait, but she was now, vicariously and unknowing, taking vengeance upon
him.



(xii)


The dinner that night was neither better nor other than usual. Flusky's
wife was not present; the two men found little to talk about. Adare had
ridden in to Sydney on one of his host's excellent horses, he had visited
the Club and acquired some small change of gossip which he was willing to
distribute; but Flusky's dead weight pulled the conversation down, time
and again, to silence. He listened, he answered, but it was with
questions of the kind which show the questioner to be indifferent. Is
that so, now? Did he indeed? Adare, as the walnuts came on, made a last
effort.

"Do you see there's an order out forbidding those heads from New Zealand?
Who the devil ever thought of importing the nasty things? Human heads
tattooed, in pickle. You have queer notions out here of the
_beaux-arts_."

"It does them no harm," Flusky answered, sipping water, "the blacks.
They're dead enough."

"Well, but," Adare persisted, glad to have struck even this spark, "you
wouldn't care for one yourself, would you, as a paper-weight?"

"Not as a paper-weight."

"D'you mean you've got one of the things?"

"Why not?"

Adare hesitated, laughed.

"Well--I don't know exactly why not. I shouldn't care for it."

"You might," said Flusky.

He got up with his usual deliberation, fumbling in one of his wide
pockets for keys; opened a cupboard of dark wood that must, in the old
country, have held china dogs, shepherdesses and cups; thence took out,
sans ceremony, an object which he set down casually by the side of his
guest's plate. It was a head, somewhat shrivelled and dwindled by the
process of preserving, which had turned the longish lank hair a streaky
yellow. On the skin geometrical patterns of tattooing stood out,
enclosing the mouth, circling upon the cheeks and forehead, dark indigo
blue weals upon brown. The eyes, mercifully, were shut.

Adare stared at it. The thing had a kind of helpless and horrid nobility;
the individual was undoubtedly dead, the practice of embalming one
approved by the ancients. For all that, the young man hurriedly emptied
his glass of wine and pushed his chair back. As he did so, he saw Flusky
looking at the head, nodding appreciation while he searched for a cigar.
This he lit; in the act paused uneasily, and blew out his spill with the
guilty expression of a child, offering an explanation that was an
apology.

"I forgot. The port's on the table."

And that troubles you, thought Adare. Pick out a human creature's skull
and dump it down among the biscuits and raisins; but don't smoke with the
port on any account. He was touched by the anomaly of this behaviour.
Trying to change himself, thought Adare for her sake, the poor devil.
Will she do as much for him? With this in his mind he spoke:

"Her ladyship doesn't honour us to-night." Flusky looked at him in
wonder, mildly.

"Oh, I know she don't as a rule. But to-night I thought possibly--where
is she, Mr. Flusky? Let's find her and make her sit down with us."

"I don't know about that."

"Why not? Put that thing away, she sees horrors enough, and I'll fetch
her out from wherever she's hiding."

"I don't think so."

"Why not?"

Flusky's eyes, lifted from contemplation of the blue whorls upon the dead
man's cheeks, met the live man's eyes for a moment with a stubborn
absence of expression. Adare nodded.

"But she was all right this morning. Seemed better. I thought she might
keep so. What's been the trouble, I wonder?"

Flusky would not answer. Both stood for an instant quite still, then the
young man flung his napkin to cover the Maori head, and went out on to
the verandah, quickly down stone steps to the garden. There was a moon
coming up. It seemed caught in the thin net of the pepper-trees' foliage,
so slowly did it move; on the harbour water, here and there where a gust
of air was dying, a star or two danced. Adare looked back into the room
he had just quitted, and saw the heavy man, his host, looking down at
that dark object from which he had twitched the covering away, the
unlighted cigar still in one hand. He had a feeling of hopelessness, of
meddling in affairs too big for him, travelling with a poor provision of
wits and goodwill through unknown country. Sadness of youth took hold of
him, the sadness compact of self-pity, which seeks a listener to whom
golden lads and lasses may complain of time's cruelty, secure in the
knowledge that the gold is with them still. He looked up at the window
which William Winter that morning had preferred to the litter of the
bedroom; and, though it was dark, smoothed the set of his curls (barbered
that morning by an indifferent and homesick felon) before he called to
the square of light:

"Heyo!"

A shadow moved within the room, but no figure showed against the light.
He called again:

"Are you there? What's your ladyship doing indoors a night like this?"

She did not answer. He saw Flusky move to open the French window of the
dining-room, obscuring the direct light of the candles with his heavy
shoulders, and threw a word back to him, confidently:

"I'll have her out of there." He spoke upwards again, hand on heart,
burlesquing: "Your promise, your promise--

"Thy vows are all broken,
And light is thy fame,
I hear thy name spoken,
And share in its shame--"

"D'you hear me? What are you at, Lady Hattie? Never mind, come down here,
I'm waiting, I've got things to tell you. Come o'er the moonlit sea.
That's it! A boat--will you? There is a moon, I've seen to that. Don't
miss the moon."

The shadow in the upper room stirred sideways, heaving itself wildly
about after the manner of shadows candle-cast, and he saw her come to the
window. Her hair was on her shoulders and she was huddling some sort of
garment over her breast. She swayed against the window's side, caught the
curtain with one hand, and so stood. She did not speak.

"Are you listening? What's the good of roaring to a statue up in a niche?
Come down, come down--"

She answered, then. Her voice now hurried, now checked; words were for a
moment almost shouted, then smothered; it had the confused quality of
shallow water running over stones; the voice of a gentlewoman drunk.

"Didn't order dinner."

"Who's talking about dinner? Who gives a damn for dinner? I won't excuse
you. What's become of your promise?"

She muttered something. Couldn't help, Not reasonable, Milly--"

"I can't hear what you say. Come into the garden, it will cool you down.
Bring a veil if you like, the mosquitoes are troublesome. I've something
to say to you." He saw her shake her head. Suddenly his eye caught the
trick of the shadows behind her. There was one, square-shouldered like a
man, which he now perceived to be that of a bottle standing on the table
near her candle. A little breeze, shifting the flame, caused the bottle's
shadowy shoulders to heave like those of a man laughing, and Adare was
enraged by that shrug precisely as though a man had mocked him.

"You won't, do you say? I won't take that. You can't diddle me that way."

Her dark outline changed its position, she was moving away from the
window. On the ceiling the bottle-shoulders jerked to the death of an
insect in flame.

"Are you dressed? Put something on. I'll give you two minutes, and then
I'm coming up the wall." A tree stood against that side of the house,
dark, thickly-leaved. Here and there closed white flowers showed upon it;
the scent was heady. Adare took out his watch--no mere gesture, for the
moon now rode clear, and lie could read the numerals--and with this in
his hand considered the possibilities of the tree. It was sturdy enough;
it was nailed to the wall and would bear him. While the two minutes
lagged by he became aware that Flusky still eyed him. He made a gay
little sign with the right hand--Up I go, I must deal with this
situation--and spoke towards him in a half-voice:

"Better stand by with the pistol again."

The two minutes were ended. Adare dropped his watch in his pocket, sprang
into the first branch of the tree, and made his way up it, rapidly all
things considered, to the window under which its main trunk parted.
Flusky moved. He went to the cupboard, his illegal trophy's coffin, and
took out of it the small pistol which Adare had left behind him on the
evening of the interrupted dinner. It was clean, as he discovered by
squinting down the barrel. He, however, made no move to load it, but
stood with it in his hands, listening to the cracks and ejaculations that
accompanied his guest's progress up the tree.

"Lady, by yonder blessed moon I swear--you can't wonder at it. If my
tailor could see me now! Ah! Half-way. Why do I risk my neck? That's it,
I'm with you. Up and over. And now, madame, if you please--"



(xiii)


He sat straddling the sill, and reproached her.

"Now listen, now listen. I can't have it. What are you doing, making a
guy of yourself this way?"

She had drawn away towards the bed, against one of whose posts she clung,
pulling the mosquito netting over her face as if for a veil. He could
hear her breathing hard, great sobbing breaths. Mr. Adare went on,
savouring with a sudden little gush of amusement which knocked the
romanticalness clean out of him for the moment, his position as the
apostle of temperance; climbing into a room like a lunatic instead of
walking in by the door, having the chief of a bottle of port inside him
that had been drunk in company with a convicted murderer and a
paid-coloured human head.

"You were as good as gold yesterday. Have you forgotten what you promised
me? I know it's not easy. I know it gets a grip on your vitals. But why
won't you take it like a Christian, at the dinner-table? Decent wine,
instead of this rot-gut. What is it?" He peered at the humped black
bottle. Gin; empty. "Come here to me and let me talk to you. How can I
talk if you wrap yourself up like an Arabian, Lady Hester Stanhope in
Arabia Felix, Lady Hattie Flusky in Australia Felix? Come along, I won't
hurt you, I won't scold you. Bring me that bottle."

He held out his hand. She obeyed as if it drew her magically, came slowly
forward, her hair tumbling about her face. But Mr. Adare was determined
not to be defied by the hump-shouldered shadow any longer, and he made
her pause by the table to take up the bottle. This, when she came near
him, he took, and with a fling of his right arm sent it out into the
garden. The squawking of roosting birds showed that it had landed in a
tree.

"Where d'you get it from?" He took her hand as he spoke, holding her
steady on her feet; the hand was damp and very hot. "Henrietta, now tell
me. How did you get it?"

"Found it."

She spoke in bursts of sound.

"Found it; is that true?"

"Sometimes--" she made a wide gesture with her free hand which unbalanced
her, so that she swayed against him. "Sometimes find them. Never mind."

"Here, in this room? Outside in the garden? Where?"

She answered at random, loudly and suddenly:

"Couldn't order dinner. Sorry. Can't explain--"

At that she slipped out of his supporting arm to the floor, and began a
kind of windy crying. He considered for a moment; then pulled his left
leg in over the sill, and leaving her where she lay, took up the candle
to survey the room. He opened cupboards and trunks. He disturbed dresses.
No more bottles were to be seen. When he was certain of this, he returned
to her.

"Do you pay for the stuff? How? Who takes the money?"

She shook her head; or rather, swayed her whole body above the waist from
side to side. It was not a negation, but a kind of lamentation in
movement, a protest against ignominy. She was quite incoherent, and he
saw that it would not be possible to draw any answer out of her that
would make sense or truth in the morning. He spoke gently, therefore, in
another tone:

"We'll get you to bed. Who puts you to bed when you're like this? Milly,
is it? I'll ring for her. You'll take cold."

She caught his hand as he went past her and bowed herself to it, kissing
it through the mesh of her hair. He felt tears, and patted her head
awkwardly with the other hand, as though its red gold had been that of
his setter bitch. She let him go when he gently pulled away, and sank
against the window, her bare feet sticking out straight from her, green
dressing-gown tumbled, hair covering her face, without dignity, awkward
as a doll thrown down.

Adare rang the bell. So still was the night that now the sighing in the
room had stopped and the birds had settled down again in their tree, he
could hear the chinkle of the bell, tossing on its wire in the kitchen
fifty yards away, downstairs. He could hear, too, feet coming down the
stone steps, slowly, into the garden, and knew that to be Flusky.

It was perhaps two minutes before Miss Milly turned the handle of the
door--vainly, for it was locked. Adare went to it, and turned the key,
with a flash of self reproach--why?--that he had not thought to do so
while he waited. Only when she looked at him did he appreciate the odd
figure he cut, white trousers dirtied and torn by the tree, waistcoat
riding up, coat with a feather from one of the cloaks on its shoulder. He
said, however, as strongly as he could:

"You had better get Lady Henrietta to bed."

"I'm to put her to bed?"

"Isn't that your work? Send someone else, then."

"Looks more like it's your work." This was spoken very low.

"Oho!" said Mr. Adare, and caught the woman's thin arm. "What's that you
said? Say that again, will you?"

She did not obey; looked at the figure on the floor, and back at him.

"None of that, I won't have any of that sort of thing." She eyed him
without speaking. "Look here, now. Where does she get the stuff from?"

"How should I know?"

"That's what I'm asking."

"And I'm asking something else, young man. What are you doing here, and
her like she is?"

Miss Milly's voice issuing its vulgar challenge made him conscious of
squalor. What power had the light of the moon, how could pity itself
stand, when there were voices like that in the world, pondered Mr. Adare.
He said to the figure on the floor:

"Good night, Henrietta. We'll talk in the morning."

She moved her head from side to side, a sickening motion, abandoned,
weary. But she lifted her face a little, and her hair fell away from it.
The light showed it shining with teats, lids and lips swollen, cheeks
deadly white. From her came a warm reek of drink. Adare was seized by a
strong repugnance; but cancelling out, as was his habit, one emotion by
the show of its opposite, he stooped to the wet face and kissed its
forehead. Then he went out by the door.



(xiv)


Flusky'S room in which he sat for long periods smoking, or which he
paced, slowly straddling, following the pattern in the carpet, three
strides this way, two strides that, sideways, turn; this room was the
barest in the house. It had the look of an office. There were no books,
no flowers save when a branch of creeper, loosened by the wind, tapped on
the pane. There was a cabinet, beautifully made of native woods by a
carpenter who had been apprenticed to a man who learned his trade in
Robert Adam's workshop. This held documents--leases and other papers with
the red Government stamp; no private letters that any of his secretaries
had ever been able to discover, and no money. There were no pictures,
though on one wall hung a map, an outline of New South Wales as far as
the discoverers to date had carried it. This map resembled the old
cartographers' performances; rivers flowed and ceased abruptly, their
sources unknown; hills started up and sank to a mere line of printing;
whole tracts were indicated by words--Lofty Forest Ranges, Level Country
with Sandy Brushes, Flat Country, Wooded Country, Country Impassable.
Anywhere in the hinterland precious metals might be found, or new
pastures, hidden by the interminably folding ranges. The men who pierced
to the white spaces on the map might, like their forerunners in America
and Africa, seize natural riches, but never any covetable thing made and
used by man; no temple, no treasure. The blacks' tenements were frail and
airy as those of birds. They made nothing but their weapons. They had so
much of the wild in them that they could not even be enslaved and taught
to labour. They hunted to live, and when they could not hunt they died.
Their one spiritual possession, a pretty liquid language, the invaders
had borrowed here and there, but the map-makers grudged space to such
words as Warrawolong, Mandoorama, and preferred instead to acknowledge
new discoveries under English titles: Parker's Flats, Gammon Plains,
Brighton Flusky looked often at this map, observing how the English names
advanced upon it. He had no scruple about dispossessing the blacks; land
must belong to those willing to husband it. But though he had no scruple
he had pity, as a man may have pity for a useless dog turned out to roam;
thus, the aborigines' humpies were allowed to disfigure the foot of his
garden. He expected nothing, neither work nor gratitude, from the
wretches he harboured, they paid him no tribute, they disappeared and
returned to a rhythm of their own like the tides.

Flusky stood now, looking down upon the bark sheds outside which black
women sat smoking. Winter sat at a broad table. Miss Milly, nostrils
pinched and white, stood just within the door. She was respectably
dressed, her apron was spotless; below her meagre bosom two red hands
were folded in all decorum. She spoke:

"It's me to answer for it all. If people go behind my back--" She brought
her voice to a gentler level. "Now, you see here, Mister Flusky. It's no
good, this house won't stand two giving the orders in it. You can't
expect the women to put up with that. I know how to talk to them.
Madam--do you suppose she could talk to old Sarah, that don't know what
you say without you put it into flash language? She's a lady; well, let
her sit in her parlour the way ladies ought. I'll do the work, work my
hands to the bone for her. But I won't be interfered with, for all she
means it well."

Flusky did not interrupt her; walked slowly a few steps right, a few
steps left.

"So I'll thank you to tell Madam."

Flusky stopped his pacing as though confronted by a knot in the pattern
too intricate to be stepped, and stood, feet well apart, staring down.
His hands were behind his back, one holding a cigar. Its smoke trickled
up to coil and fan about the room, bringing to the secretary, with a pang
of nostalgia, two pictures clear to the least detail; a room at the Mitre
in Oxford, the top of a coach in autumn weather. William Winter sighed,
caught himself doing so, and bent to his work. The woman's voice
insisted, growing louder as though to pierce and end Flusky's continued
silence:

"I can't have it, that's flat. She makes work enough in other ways,
excuse me referring to it, without this on top. And I'll tell you another
thing." She waited; but Flusky asked no question, and she was obliged to
continue without that aid to revelation. "It won't do no harm for you to
keep an eye on some of her goings-on. I'm saying nothing more, I'm a
Christian woman. I give you fair warning."

Flusky looked up at that.

"I don't say anything without I know. I can hold my tongue." She resumed
her earlier quiet way of speech: "Do you want anything more with me? I've
got my dinner to see to."

The secretary turned from his table at the window. "Mr. Adare, sir, in
the garden. He is making signs, whether he may come in."

Flusky made an acquiescent gesture, which Winter, rising, interpreted
with a beckoning hand. The young man appeared in the French windows. Miss
Milly, whose expression had changed with his coming, stood her ground,
neglecting the claims of dinner.

"You're engaged," said Mr. Adare, his eyes on the woman. "I'll wait."

"No," said Flusky, and he too looked at the housekeeper.

"You'll speak to Madam, then," the woman reiterated, meeting Adare's
glance. "I'll do my work, but I won't have meddling. I won't stand that,
not from anybody. I've got this house to see to, there's plenty of it,
and I can't get through if there's meddlers about."

"What's all this?" Adare asked.

She ignored him, speaking to Flusky.

"So them as puts ideas into her head had better stop it, for everybody's
sake. You can whistle for your dinner, if she's to order it."

She had said her say, there was a righteous pink line along her
cheek-bones, the ensign of victory, and she was going at last. Adare said
suddenly, smoothly:

"Just one moment. If you please." She opened the door. "Of course, I'll
say it behind your back if you prefer."

She shut the door and stood with her back to it, hands flat against the
wood as though to press it more irrevocably shut. Her constant strife
with tough and insubordinate women had taught her never to let a
challenge pass.

"Very well," said Adare. "Mr. Flusky, I'm beginning to get some notion of
the situation here with regard to Lady Henrietta. Last night--"

Miss Milly could not resist that cue.

"Yes, last night, I could find something to say about last night if I
chose to!"

Adare went towards her quietly, and took her nose between his thumb and
finger. She scuffled with her hands to pull his grip loose. He pinched
the tighter, reasoning:

"Be quiet and I won't hurt you. It's you who are hurting yourself.
Quiet, now. That's better."

"Let her alone," Flusky ordered brusquely, advancing as though to come
between them. "Damn all this crosstalk. Say what you've got to, both of
you. Stash the row."

Adare let the woman go at once, took a handkerchief from his tail-pocket
and wiped his fingers.

"Well, you see, it's quite true (as Miss Milly so delicately suggests)
that I've been meddling in your affairs, Mr. Flusky. I hinted, for
instance, to your wife that she should find something to occupy her, even
if it was no more than to order your food. I believe she went yesterday
to the kitchen, and met some rudeness there. Last night something was
troubling her; the dinner, the dinner, she kept repeating. Now, what
could that have been, do you suppose? What do you think can have upset
her, to do with the dinner?"

Miss Milly did not offer any speculation. She said, beating a ruffle with
her fingers against the door to which she had once more retreated:

"He was there in her room last night, and the door locked. There's
something for you to put in your pipe. There he was, and her with her
clothes half off her. That's where she met some rudeness, as he calls it,
and a good name for it too."

Mr. Adare took no notice of this provocation, but repeated steadily:

"You had insulted her somehow. You did some offensive thing."

"I turned her out of my kitchen, and I'd a right to do it, I'd do the
same to you. It's none of your business. If she was at it again last
night you best know why--" She was whipping herself to anger, as
sometimes she whipped herself to prayer. "Yes, and so I tell Mr. Flusky,
I've got better things to do than butter my tongue when his wife comes
interfering, and I tell you too, Mister Nobody from Nowhere!"

"Excuse me." That was the tremulous secretary, on an impulse rising and
turning from his table. "Excuse me, I was present yesterday in the
kitchen when her ladyship came in. She did receive an affront." He
hesitated. "I don't know how to describe it, no words were spoken--"

Miss Milly caught him up, triumphantly seizing her chance.

"Yes, indeed, you was there, he was carrying a load of bottles, you know
where from, and in he came without waiting for a word and dumped them
down in front of her. Done up in one of her own sheets, too. She knew
what they was and where they come from, and she turned white like the
sheet itself and went out, and that's your affront for you, if you want a
grand word for a silly start."

The pale secretary caught his breath, turning to Adare with a cry:

"Sir, you're a gentleman."

It was Flusky who answered that, not moving, shouting from where he
stood.

"To hell with your talk of gentlemen! Get out of here, you. Milly, get
out. I'll settle this."

"Settle that young fellow first," the woman called, jutting her head
forward. "I'm a Christian woman, I don't stay in any house with
adulterers. You, young man! Don't cry when you burn in hell, like as you
haven't had warning." She began to pray, turning up her eyes, between
which her nose glowed, still red: "Oh Lord, pay down upon the nail, after
Thy manner, the wages of this man's sin. Let the fervent prayer of the
righteous prevail, oh Lord, let not the wicked prosper, nor flourish as
the bay tree and tree upon the wall. If Thou, oh Lord, wilt mark
iniquity, shall a decent woman endure it? The wicked shall burn, we have
Thy word for it, as we may take to our comfort--"

"Oh--" began Mr. Adare; but while he sought an expletive his sense of the
ridiculous caught up with him, and he laughed. Miss Milly stopped her
ranting, brought her eyes down to the level of his, took a great breath
or two to calm the quick pulsing of her blood; then said, in another
voice, the voice of the decent servant who has been put upon:

"I'm getting out of this house, Mr. Flusky. I'm free. This very night I
go. And you can keep what wages is due me. I'd sooner sweep the
Parramatta Factory than lend my face to iniquity."

That, too, tickled Mr. Adare, whose imagination readily played and made
pictures with words; Satan the Serpent trying on Miss Milly's face,
shaking his head over the fit of it. He sat down upon the secretary's
table, wiping his eyes. When he had recovered the secretary and the woman
both were gone. Flusky remained in his place, brooding down, and making
through his teeth a little sound that clearly indicated dismay.

"You're well rid," said Adare with a jerk of his head towards the door.

"We shan't get on without her any too well," Flusky muttered.

"No, but listen to me. She's been keeping Lady Hattie supplied." Flusky
looked up. "I do think so, indeed. A woman like that--do you suppose she
couldn't choke off the supply if she put her mind to it? Last night in
the room upstairs--" He was aware that any mention of that scene was
uncomfortable to his host; but the air had to be cleared. "It's true that
the door was locked. She'd shut herself in--you know what for. So it's as
well I went up by the tree, though I grant you at the time it looked a
silly thing to do. That woman Milly; you can see for yourself she hates
me. Now why? Because she thinks there are things I might be finding out.
Lady Hattie talks to me, you see." He pulled himself up, and sat back
upon the secretary's table. "So you see, it's a good riddance if that's
so. Of course, I've no proof."

"No," said Flusky. "No proof of anything."

He suddenly flung away the cigar, which all this while had been burning
in his hand. There was a scampering sound on the verandah outside; he
cocked his head at it.

"One of the gins. They eat tobacco, give them the chance. Wait hours for
a butt." His puzzled heavy expression returned. "I don't like losing
Milly. She's been here years."

"But, good God--"

"There's only your word against hers."

"You may accept mine, I think," said Adare dryly.

"What, because you're a gentleman? So's Winter a gentleman. You back each
other up. That's what you're taught to do, ain't it? In your schools.
Back each other up against outsiders."

He broke off, turned about. Adare watched him, and to check anger told
himself that the man had scars on his back, that the man was suffering
now, that the man was striking out like an animal, less to cause hurt
than to ease his own. He did not speak, and could not, from Flusky's
expression, make any guess at what plan of behaviour the man's movements
were weaving for him. Flusky stood once more.

"I'd be obliged if you'd overlook all this. It won't be too comfortable,
I daresay, with Milly gone. I'd be obliged if you'd stay on."

Adare, who had had no thought of leaving the house, nodded carelessly.

"We'll have Lady Hattie right in a month, once the house is her own. Up
with the lark, and to bed with the nightingale, or whatever bird you keep
in this country for an example to the slothful. Don't worry your head.
Take my word for it." His host's face still was heavy, and the young man,
alarmed by any emotion which did not swim to the surface, fired a
question, as guns are fired across water to make a drowned body rise.
"You don't take seriously what the woman said? It's so mad I didn't
trouble to deny it."

Flusky looked at him with eyes deliberately blank. He might not have
heard. Adare could not repeat what he had said; it sounded more
preposterous, put into words, than in the silence of his mind. He took a
half-crown from his pocket, spun it once or twice and tossed it,
resenting even as he did so the obligation which was on him to make
movements and speeches, to show himself a target for the emancipist's
weapon of stillness. Playing with this coin he managed without further
talk to escape into the garden, grateful for once to find himself
isolated there.



(xv)


Miss Milly departed, disdaining all assistance. Her gift for organization
had procured from Sydney a cart for the transport of her boxes; they were
light, quite certainly no heavier than when, years before, she had
arrived to take charge of the house so oddly named, Why are you weeping?
Opportunities for peculation, of a kind that the assigned women beheld in
dreams, she had been consistent in despising. The money she earned she
took; but the shining bunch of keys had been respected by her as the
soldier respects his sword, used only to defend the right and to defeat
barbarian onsets. She had prepared a final dinner, giving it pious
attention. She had scourged the women for the last time with her tongue,
so that each utensil shone, no shadow clouded tumbler or spoon. She paid
a visit of inspection to each room; checked in each cupboard the list of
contents that hung upon its door; detected a gin in an ill-timed foray
and routed her; and returning to the kitchen, removed, with the
sunflower-patterned slippers, the last emblem of her authority.

There was an interview with Flusky while the charged cart waited before
the door. She wore black, as was her custom, with a bonnet on top of such
jetted respectability that even the comment of the assigned women failed
at sight of it; she bore a reticule jetted to match upon her arm, and in
her right hand the keys.

"Here they are, Mr. Flusky. I hope you'll satisfy yourself that all's as
it should be."

The master of the house did not take the implements, but nodded that she
should lay them down. She did so with a ceremonial stooping of the
bonnet, and resumed:

"You won't find a ha'porth missing, whether it's stores or wine. It's my
prayer you'll be able to say as much in a year's time--a year! A month's
time. I done my duty, and there's no man nor woman nor counter-jumper--"
a glance at Winter's back--"dare say contrariwise. Now, Mr. Flusky,
there's the matter of my reference."

Flusky rapped on the table for Winter's attention. The secretary found a
paper, studied it a moment, and handed it to his employer, who took a pen
which he tested upon his thumb-nail, and scored a clumsy signature below
the thin elegant script. Miss Milly took the paper and read, her lips
moving.

"Very handsome, I will say." She paused; then, more harshly, proceeded:
"There's one thing you've left out that might be asked me. Cause of
leaving."

"Your own good pleasure. That's all you need tell 'em."

"I won't speak any word that's a lie. And it's a lie, Mr. Flusky, to say
I leave you for my own pleasure. I've been here now five years with you,
as agreeable as Christian woman could wish. It's no fault of yours, Mr.
Flusky. But I won't look on at shameful things, nor I won't be hampered
in my duty."

Flusky said suddenly and strongly:

"You don't go putting that about, do you hear? I'm turning you up
sweet,[*] sorry to see you go. None of your yarns."

[*To turn up sweet=to get rid of a person good-humouredly.]

"You wait and see if it's a yarn. What you want, Mr. Flusky, excuse my
saying it, but I've had it for years in mind--you want a woman about you
that will see to things. What good's her ladyship--" She spoke that word
mockingly, as a woman addresses a troublesome child: My lord.

She stopped as Flusky came towards her. His hands were behind his back,
those hands which Mr. Adare had once in imagination seen strangling, and
they were straining as though to escape from the invisible bond of his
will. She was frightened.

"Oh, very well, I'm sure, if it suits you to have a wife the way she is.
I'm not afraid of you nor anyone, the Lord's my guide, and I wish you
well, Mr. Flusky. I wish you better luck than you've had, and better luck
than you're looking for. And when they ask me the reason why I left this
house, you can take your davy I'll tell them."

Flusky said, this time without emphasis:

"You keep your reasons to your nabs. I'm not saying more than that to
you."

"Well, good-bye to you, Mr. Flusky. And you can depend I'll petition the
Lord to open your eyes."

She held out her hand, genteel in a black mitten. Flusky looked at it,
remembered perhaps all he owed to that ill-shaped hard hand delicate
food, cleanliness and order in his household--and slowly brought his own
forward to meet it. He did not look at Miss Milly's face, but Winter did,
turning for a moment in his seat. In the corners of the Christian woman's
small pebbly eyes tears were gathering. It was to hide these that she
dragged her hand away before Flusky's grip had time to close upon it in
strength, and turned to the door without more words. Flusky stared after
her. Winter ventured a remark as he sometimes did--to ingratiate and fend
off danger.

"Miss Milly, sir, is really sorry to be going."

"Why quit, then?"

William Winter had his own ideas as to that, but they were not yet
formulated; he would have welcomed a talk with Mr. Adare, a kind of
synthesis of opinion concerning Miss Milly's aspirations and past
conduct. He answered therefore, after hesitation:

"She has been used to consider this house her own province."

Flusky mused, walking:

"She don't nibble,[*] though. So what's the objection to my wife giving a
hand?"

[*Nibble= to pilfer.]

"Well, sir, she may not have cared to see signs of recovery in Lady
Henrietta. I've no proof, sir--" That innocent expression angered Flusky.

"Proof! I've been tied up for a hundred and fifty before now, without
proof. Proof, to hell!"

He picked up the bunch of keys and went along the verandah with them in
his hand, to the room where lately, since the first week of Mr. Adare's
arrival, his wife had been wont of an evening to sit. She was not there;
but at the table whereon her needlework lay Mr. Adare was seated, his
legs wreathed about a chair, very fluently composing a letter. He did not
immediately hear Flusky, who stood looking in on him, watching with a
sort of wonder the brisk whisks and starts of the goose-feather, hearing
its cheerful sound upon the paper, a mouselike continuous cheeping. But
no man can long be watched and not know it; Mr. Adare in the middle of a
sentence looked up.

"You wanted me?"

"My wife."

"She'll be here in a minute," Adare answered casually, dropping his
glance again to the paper. He went on, in the toneless voice of one
talking and writing together. "She promised a word to my sister under
this cover. The _Mary Patterson_'s sailing to-morrow."

Flusky said nothing. He stepped into the room and sat down to wait, idly
clinking the keys against his knee. Adare continued to write, strongly
aware of that distracting presence. It was putting compulsion upon him to
go, and he had to devote part of his attention to repelling the raid upon
his will. He wrote, the sentences growing shapeless:

"--and so you see, while I am not yet in the way of making my fortune, I
have at least found a temporary harbour. But ships that stay too long in
harbour rot, and so I dare say it will not be long before I set out,
knapsack on back, to make my fortune--" He struck the repetition out,
biting his lip, and substituted--"to find El Dorado."

Not a word further would come into his head. He clipped his pen freshly
and began defiantly to write, in broken phrases, of that which he saw
when he looked out into the bay.

"The darkness here is not like our darkness. There is a kind of light
that comes out of cloudless night--not starlight, dark blue like Byron's
seas. You cannot see by it, but you can feel shapes in it. The boats arc
obliged to carry lights, red, green, and white--I can see only red lights
now, which shows the direction in which the ships must be swinging at
anchor. Some fishermen's boats are moving very slowly out of the hay, one
has a fire on it. That is an aboriginal's canoe, they lay a flat stone in
the centre and so carry their fires from shore to shore. It is strange to
see a frail shell of bark carrying the most destructive of elements so
safely--"

Chink, clash of the keys against the big man's knees, rhythm pointing the
strong beats of a tune as a pair of cymbals may do. Mr. Adare's ears were
too strong for his eyes, they could not resist guessing at the tune,
trying to fit those regular beats to music remembered. British
Grenadiers? No, it was not a march; he could not get the hang of it; he
resented his domination, which must endure until he had mastered the
secret. Looking down again at the paper as though to read over and
correct what he had written, he began in self-defence to hum a melody.
The chinking beat against him for a bar or two, then slackened, stopped;
his host's voice asked what he was singing. It was the first time he had
defeated the big man in one of these wordless contests, and he was
delighted with himself, with this proof that savage breasts might indeed
be soothed, given the appropriate charm. He made answer in song, with the
words belonging to that melodic phrase he had reached:

"--and around that dear ruin each wish of my heart Shall entwine itself
verdantly still."

The door opened; he sprang up gladly.

"Dear ruin, welcome. You're expected, we both attend you most
passionately."

Lady Henrietta, coming in, looked first at her husband; and the young man
observed with a pang, not of jealousy, the pleasure that came to her
eyes, seeing him sitting quietly there. Question succeeded this pleasure.

"Milly's gone." Flusky answered the look, and held out the keys to her.
She gazed at them, drawing down her mouth tragically. She repeated:

"Gone?"

And the word rang hollow, forlorn, unnecessarily despairing. Flusky again
advanced the keys towards her hand, saying:

"You'll see to things in the morning."

"But Milly mustn't go. It's not to be thought of." Her voice began to
hurry and stumble. "Milly mustn't go. I beg you'll bring her back,
whatever may have happened. I beg you, Sam."

Flusky looked at her very searchingly. She halted the stream of protest,
put her hand to her throat, swallowed. Adare kept his eyes on Flusky,
waiting to give the nod which would have meant: You see, I was justified,
here's something like proof. But the big man would not look.

"It's her own notion. She don't want to stay. And here's her keys, you
see. For you. That's as it should be."

She accepted the keys, sinking teeth upon her lower lip as though to
restrain herself forcibly from further speech.

"That's the way. Don't you worry. We'll do all right." Flusky repeated
his reassurance, the only words he could find to assure Adare that he
believed no ill, his wife that he had confidence in her. "We'll do all
right."

"Perhaps if you paid her more money--She is used to the house, you see,
and the women--" The voice relinquished its attempts at calm explanation.
"I can't do without her. I must have her back, Sam."

He said no more, but for the first time looked at Mare. His wife could
read the answer in that movement of his eyes; Milly's accusations,
Flusky's refusal to affront her guest by preferring the woman to him. She
abandoned argument, taking the keys from his hand submissively, a
symbolic acceptance of his trust. But immediately she held them out
again.

"Pray won't you keep them, let me come to you when I need them? You know
in such matters I'm apt to be careless."

"Put them at your waist as Milly did. You can't lose 'em; nobody can't
get 'em from you, that way."

"No," she murmured. "Very well."

There was a green ribbon at her waist. She untied this now, and threaded
the wide ring of the keys upon it. They hung heavily, bearing down the
sash to a point on one side. She surveyed them, took a step or two in
order to try the feel and sound of them, and smiled with wry tenderness
at the heavy man. He beckoned her to him; she came with a lovely
readiness. He put his hand at her waist and held her a little away from
him; fingered a moment the steel ring that held the keys.

"We must get you a gold one. What's this they call it? To hang at a
woman's waist--"

"An equipage?"

"Equipage, hey? Why, that's a coach and horses."

"Not in drawing-rooms; it means keys and scissors there."

"You talk drawing-room, I talk stable. No wonder we get to cross-purposes
sometimes; what do you say, Mister Adare?"

He was moving his hand at her waist with the same gentleness and absence
of mind that he might have shown rubbing a horse's nose. As he did so he
looked mildly but very watchfully at the young man, who under this
scrutiny could not wholly command his expression. He knew his own heart
very well; he had fallen in love, taking it like a rash, three or four
times since he was sixteen; he was no more in love with Lady Henrietta
than with Cassiopeia in her chair. Yet he did resent the man's thick hand
at her waist, for reasons which he could not at once disentangle. Flusky
persisted:

"What do you say?"

"Who, I?" said the young man; and in a hurry unthinking, gave the true
answer to his own perplexity. "Oh, she and I speak the same language." He
perceived at once that this truth might wound, and went on, picking up
his letter. "Lady Hattie, I've left you a good four inches of paper,
enough for greeting, not near enough for gossip. Do you write large or
small? Mine, see, is small. I thought once of being one of those
individuals who write the Lord's Prayer on sixpenny bits. There is great
scope for ambition in it. You begin with the Pater Noster, going on to
the Creed; and end up by cramming the whole of the Epistle to the
Corinthians on to his Majesty's profile--"

She was still standing near her husband, as though to defend him. She
said without moving:

"Then you must write what I have to say to your sister."

He sat down quickly and obediently, sideways on the chair, and dipped his
pen.

"I can't go at speed. And I won't answer for the spelling. But my pen,
such as it is, waits your command."

She began, looking down at Flusky. He had dropped his hand from her
waist, but she still stood near. The young man knew that she too was
afraid lest his casual indisputable sentence might have gone home.

"My dearest friend, I may call you so still, I believe, and I do so with
a full heart. Your brother will have told you something of my history and
situation, but he cannot have told, for he does not know, how gratefully
my husband and I look upon him, how happy we are to have him as our
guest--"

The young man looked up from his scribbling to bow. "She will not credit
all this. She knows me too well. Tell her more of your own concerns."

"--to have him as our guest while he looks about him in this strange new
Continent. We cannot hope long to detain him, having few distractions to
offer--"

"Few distractions," Adare repeated, scribbling, and a series of pictures
displayed themselves to his mind's eye; the dinner party; his hostess's
entry, plunging among the notables like the figurehead of a vessel in
tall seas; a human head among the nuts and raisins.

"Have you got that down?"

"I have. And what a lie it is!"

"Alethea will take my meaning."

"Proceed. 'Few distractions'--"

She seemed to read something of his thought, and could not again catch
the thread of her own. The impulse to defend was ended, memory of the
words which had set it in motion had begun to die in her mind.

"The four lines are filled up."

"You have no notion of my capacities. I can fit in a Lord's Prayer more,
at the very least."

"Then say: I should be as happy to welcome you, my dearest Alethea, did
Fate but permit it. I remember you daily, and with affection. Pray write,
pray think of me. The time seems so very long--"

The young man wrote, and turned, waiting.

"Long since we met, long till I hear from you--?"

"Whichever you please." But the young man knew that she too had spoken
the truth unconsciously, and that the sentence might stand without
addition. "I send you from this distant country, hopes for your truest
wellbeing, and my fondest love."

"That takes me to the margin. I have left this corner where you may
sign."

She took the pen he offered and wrote in slender sloping characters her
full name; Henrietta Flusky. Her keys swung forward as she stooped, and
rang against the wood of the desk.



(xvi)


In the morning Mr. Adare woke and looked at his watch. It showed
half-past eight. At first he mistrusted it, hearing no corroborating
movements below in the house--women's voices, dull encounters of
chair-legs with broom-heads, the sound of feet on the verandah. But his
watch was faithful. He lay awhile listening to those other moving sounds
which, with the quality of the light, gave the exile daily assurance of
being from home: locusts were choiring, and in the distance, among the
woods of the Domain, a laughing jackass mocked the folly of those who
willingly exchange old worlds for new. But Mr. Adare could not, as on an
ordinary morning, enjoy the kookooburra's good humour. Like other lazy
persons, he liked his days to be set in a frame of other people's
methodical observance of the claims of time; to know shaving water ready
and ignore it; to be made aware of breakfast by appetizing smells at the
appointed hour, and turn over again in bed.

He sat up, therefore, feeling cheated by the house's drowsiness, and
began to dress. There was no hot water outside his door. He cursed, but
only as a matter of form; the water in his jug was tepid as water may
well be after a night when the temperature has kept somewhere in
Fahrenheit's eighties, it would serve his purpose very well. He noted,
taking out a stock, that his supply of clean shirts was running low, and
supposed that the laundress would soon vouchsafe others. The little
mirror revealed an appearance as trig as any saunter down Dublin streets
would demand. Satisfied, but inquisitive as to the morning's changed
routine, he went downstairs. The secretary was coming through the baize
door. "Good day to you, Winter. What's doing?"

The pale secretary flushed, hearing himself addressed in the manner of an
equal, and answered:

"I'm afraid, sir, there may be delay. The women took this chance to lie
in bed a while longer."

"While the cat's away--hell's delight of a cat, too. What was it happened
that other day in the kitchen?"

"I was the instrument of that woman's rudeness, sir. I don't care to
remember it."

Pitying him, Adare let it go, and turned to another aspect of Miss
Milly's departure.

"Do you suppose we shall get any work out of these creatures now she's
gone? I look to you."

"I'll do what's in my power."

"Come with me now, then. Show me the geography." The bound man pushed the
baize door open, standing aside to let the free man pass, and they went
through.

Miss Milly had laid down her sceptre some sixteen hours only; Mr. Adare,
who had never before entered it, could hardly be aware what great changes
had come already upon her dominion. Copper saucepans, scoured the day
before, still shone upon one wall; the stove, having no work to do since
yesterday's dinner reached a close, still kept its lustre. But the floor
was littered with shoes not cleaned, among which a black woman sat,
rolling her baby from knee to knee, and coifing it with a colander. A
pile of vegetables in one corner had not been sorted; the mould they
brought in with them had been trodden in and carried over the floor. Odds
and ends of female clothing lay about. There was a smell of grease. The
usual noise, too, had changed its quality. One woman sang, one shuffled
feet to the tune as she scratched among her hair with a fork; and old Sal
the fence, seated by the table snipping rind off bacon with a scissors,
loudly instructed the black woman in such English phrases as her
experience suggested might come in handy.

"Go on, you heathen covess. Alderman Lushington. Say it after me, the
missus has been voting for the Alderman, say."

They did not observe the two men until Mare spoke. He was used at home to
something not unlike this kitchen, a place full of noise and irrelevant
characters, unknown tongues and something very like squalor, to which,
when he had slept disgracefully late, he came to wheedle tea and slices
of toasted bread. He advanced, therefore, saying amid the uneasy silence
which fell:

"Isn't there anything to eat? By the row, anyone'd think you were laying
the eggs for breakfast."

The prisoner women laughed, the black woman wrapped her baby in a cloth
pulled from the table, and sidled away along the floor like a crab with
her booty. The secretary slipped out of the room again, very quietly. Old
Sal rose from her chair, and curtsying, assured Adare that he was just on
the nick, that the breakfast would be with him if only he'd give them
time--

"Time, is it?" said Mr. Adare, pulling on the vernacular like a glove, "I
should have thought you'd enough of that, with what the judges at home
gave you."

The recipients of three and seven years' hard labour received this
comment upon their misfortunes with hysterical approval, but old Sal
possessed a sense of dignity which transportation had ripened.

"I'd have you know," said she, "me lord, that whatever I may of done was
from kindness of heart. Don't you go for to put me on a level with these,
though I won't say but they're good girls--"

The other two women at once began to recite, looking at each other, and
finishing on the old woman's behalf what was evidently a peroration
perfectly known to them.

"--for it's my kind heart what brung about my downfall. And what I says
is--when a woman follers her heart--she follers the road to ruin."

Old Sal started up, the scissors gripped dagger-wise, to subdue them; but
Adare caught her arm, and ceremonially offering his own, minced beside
her to where the frying pans hung.

"Madam," said he, "may I entreat you so far to forget your just
grievances as to break an egg into that? And as for these other fair
females--" who burst out with a fresh gust of giggling--"if they'll
demean themselves to fill a kettle we shall soon get going. Now, one more
word. Which of you's the cook?"

At once a clamour began, old Sal claiming that by reason of her antiquity
and rectitude she had the right to be so considered, the petty thief
declaring on oath that she had been the late Miss Milly's pet pupil, apt
at the stove.

"I'm no Paris," gravely said Mr. Adare, "but it rests with me to award
the apple. Here's what we'll do. Take you each an egg and a rasher, and
send them in to me in the dining-room fifteen minutes from now, on three
dishes. As for which is which, we'll settle that, if you please, this
way." He reached up to the mantelpiece and plucked from its decoration
three paper roses, red, yellow, and white, which he distributed
ceremoniously. "Each put her rose with her egg on the dish; and whichever
sends up a rightly fried egg--not flattened out like a yard of flannel;
soft in the yellow, with a milky kind of veil--whichever sends up the
best egg shall take the office of Cook. D'you understand me?"

All three ran clattering for bowls and spoons. He halted them:

"Wait. Listen. Her ladyship will be here at ten to give you your orders.
You'll take her orders, do you hear? And curtsy. And call her my lady.
And by God, if you're insolent, if I hear there's been the shadow of a
shadow of impudence, I'll look to it." He took out his watch. "To work!"

As he left the room he heard another outburst of laughter, but the sound
had no malice in it. He went to the dining-room. There Winter,
plate-basket in hand, was laying the table with amateurish awkwardness.

"That's a man! Is Flusky down yet?"

"Mr. Flusky was working with me at seven o'clock, sir. He's ridden into
the city--some appointment."

"Well now, that's a pity, because I'm going to bring his wife down to
breakfast." Winter ceased his laying of forks and knives to stare. "We'll
make a day of it. What flowers are there in the garden? Go and pick some,
we'll have them by her plate. A little bouquet. Go along now, you've put
flowers together to please a woman before. The table's done."

He ran out, and upstairs. Winter obeyed, went out into the morning sun,
and gathered slowly, savouring this illusion of freedom, such tribute as
the dry summer soil afforded; oleander, a stiff lily gilded with its own
pollen. The birds in this garden were more brilliant than the flowers. A
troop of visiting parrots surveyed him from their tree, flashing lavender
wing-feathers, cocking their heads knowingly to show a spot of crimson on
either cheek. They sidled and fluttered, and suddenly swung upside down,
the clowns of the air, brightly habited, grotesque. He went towards the
tree, and in alarm they were off with a great beating of wings, their
colours lost as they became silhouetted against the glare of the sky.
Winter returned to the assembling of his bouquet, which was stiff and
scentless. He tied it, however, with a twist of clematis that gave out
the faint pleasant aroma of lemon, and went indoors to lay it at the head
of the table. As he stood fingering it he heard voices; and filled with
shyness--for though he could forget his position talking with men, he
never failed to recollect it when a. woman spoke--he made his way out
again by the window, and took refuge in Flusky's bare room with the map
hanging on its east wall.

Adare, bringing Lady Henrietta towards the light, noted her haggardness,
the shaking of her hands, said nothing, seemed bemused. He told her to
sit down, and putting the flowers in her lap as one might give a doll to
quiet a restless child, went to the dark cupboard where he knew the
decanters were put away. He shook the handle vainly, and turned to her.

"Those keys of yours--lend me them a moment." She fumbled at her waist,
from which the hand fell away empty.

"Upstairs. What do you want with them? What are you doing?"

Her voice sounded almost shrewish. He pondered a moment, took out his
pen-knife and manipulated the lock, which snapped back.

"I learned that trick young, on the door which guarded my mother's
preserves. And here I am overseas, where all the pick-locks go. The
criminal never escapes his due, take warning by my cruel fate--" He was
pouring, while he spoke, from a decanter into a glass. She could not see,
and her reiterated question had a sharp note.

"What are you doing?"

He turned away from the cupboard, coming forward with the filled glass in
his hand. She, looking past him, gave a shriek and sprang up, pointing
and retreating. He remembered. The ugly head lay visible, tousled and
fallen sideways, as though the decanters had somehow contrived to
exercise their dominion even upon death. Adare banged to the cupboard
door with his left hand and held it so, while he extended to her
steadily, as a man holds food to a nervous horse, the glass filled with
brown liquor.

"It's only the trophy--can't hurt you. Here, drink this up, down,
whichever way pleases you best. That's it. Now you're steady."

She drank the brandy without gasping, gave a shudder, and set the glass
clumsily down as she seated herself. She said, with a half-laugh:

"That thing--I see it sometimes in the night. It opens its eyes at me
then. Sam paid ten pounds for it."

"It's hardly a mantel ornament, indeed. Are you better? Isn't that what
you wanted?" She looked at the empty glass, at him; then covered her face
with her hands. He talked on. "Of course it is. You can't do without all
at once. It's like a man with a nagging wife, he feels empty for a while
when she dies, for all he's glad to be quit of her. A drop more?" He
surveyed her thoughtfully. "I'd say not. You shall have a dram about
twelve, if you eat your breakfast like a good goddess."

"Ah, don't, Charles!"

"I'm not laughing. I grant I never saw a goddess go; but she might do
worse than walk the way you do, when you're in command. Are you ready?"
His voice promised entertainment. "I'm going to ring for our breakfast."

She spoke with petulance again.

"The women--Milly's gone. They won't know, they can't do anything."

"Wait!"

He listened. From the servants' quarters clamouring voices arose, wakened
by the bell's thin sound. Adare sat down in his place, and primly,
settling his stock, awaited the entry of the kitchen Graces.

Old Sal it was who first marched in, winking above a plated dish-cover.
She sketched a curtsy to the lady of the house, set down her burden
before the young man and stood back hands on hips, head cocked to
challenge. The younger women deposited their dish-covers to right and
left of old Sal's, and stood back too, menacing each other with glances.
One spied the empty glass by the lady's place, and loudly sniffed; but
the moment was too solemn for this impertinence to afford her full
satisfaction.

Lady Henrietta looked astonished, then angry, as they ranged themselves.

"What do you all do, trooping in like so many corporals?"

But Mr. Adare gravely rebuked her with his left hand; his right was
lifting the dish-covers. This done, he drew back, contemplating with a
connoisseur's eye the three fried eggs thus revealed, each nesting upon
its concomitant bacon, each adorned in carnival manner with a tattered
paper rose.

"Excuse the creatures. They had their reasons for coming all together."
He looked up from the eggs. "The roses, you see, might have had the
misfortune to get shifted about, unless each one escorted her own."

Lady Henrietta, wholly uncomprehending, gazed at him, at the three
platters, and at the three faces behind the young man's shoulder. He,
meanwhile, was delivering judgment in detail.

"Yellow rose. Her effort lacks shapeliness. It has a tendency to sprawl;
an uncontrolled and (pardon the phrase) blowsy egg. No prize for Yellow
Rose. White, now; let me see. Round enough, the veil drawn delicately
over the yellow, which yet, I fear--" He took a fork and lunged with it;
no trickle of yolk rewarded him. "Ah! The unforgivable sin, the
stony-hearted egg. Failed, White Rose. Alas for York! Let's see what
Lancaster can do." He raised the third cover, sat back, surveyed.
"Lancaster promises well. All the qualities are there; this egg is a very
pretty production to the eye. Now for the test." He plunged his fork; the
yolk ran out in a copious flow. "Aha! Lancaster has it--You, what's your
name?"

Above the noise that greeted this decision, the voice of the murderess
(with extenuating circumstances) could be heard ardently crying:

"Me, Mister! Flo, Mister! It's me the red 'un!"

He hushed them down, beckoned Red Rose forward, and presented her to Lady
Henrietta in form. "Allow me to suggest for your ladyship's consideration
this candidate for the high position of cook-in-ordinary to your
ladyship. She will do as much as she's made to. She is a bit of a rascal,
is Flo. I humbly submit that she has passed with credit a strict
examination; not appearing now to great advantage, by reason of a smutty
nose and intellects astray, but a willing sort of miscreant, I'd say."
The willing miscreant dropped a curtsy, according to the implications of
that traditional verb, with its suggestion of inadvertence and
clumsiness. Lady Henrietta, for the moment steadied by brandy, could
laugh, and summon enough control to dismiss the women. When the three had
passed, wrangling, out of hearing, she said, suddenly dejected:

"I can't. I haven't the power any longer."

"Lord, but I'll deal with them! I'm Grand Vizier to your Sultana."

"No, no."

"What's the matter?"

She answered dully:

"I have been coming to life. It is unbearable. I can't face it." She
struck her hand on the flowers, again and again, seeming to take pleasure
in belabouring their beauty. "I am useless. Even if I overcome myself I'm
useless. The best thing I can do is to die and have done."

"Everyone's in the dumps the morning after. I'll give you another dram."

But she shook her head, and began to torment the flowers between her
hands.

"You don't understand me. I'm thinking of him. I've done him wicked
wrong, so many, many times. Wrong to love him, wrong to marry him. I was
my brother's murderer, and he paid for it." She halted. "No children."
The voice rose again strongly. "In this new country I make him a
laughing-stock. The only thing I can do now, the best thing I can do, is
to die."

"You're the apple of his eye, and you know it," said Adare, out of his
depth.

"If I died, he could marry the sort of woman--Milly would do. Poor Milly,
with her religion! That's why she put the bottles in my room." She
laughed. "Couldn't marry him, you see, with me in the way. Couldn't take
a pistol and finish me outright, that would be sinful. So she set about
it this way--killing no murder. For years." She shook her head. "But I'm
very strong, you see. And then you came, and now Milly's had to go away.
All wasted."

"Well, by God!" Adare was standing, flushed, unbelieving. "You knew she
was trying to take your place, killing you, giving you drink. You knew
what she was at!"

She found his incredulity absurdly out of proportion.

"The only queer thing was her doing it as a Christian. She often said
that. A Christian woman. Ha!"

Her laughter was brief. Adare, the morning's gaiety wholly subdued,
stared at her. The eggs, the bouquet, alike were neglected. He was at a
loss. She spoke rationally and kindly, leaning towards him, the civil
hostess explaining.

"So now you see how it is. I am obliged to you, I like you very dearly.
It is beautiful, what you have been trying to do for me. But you only
hurt me and hurt him. It is not any use."

"Are you saying I must go away?"

She seemed, at that, to come out of her bitterness as from a trance. Her
two hands were stretched to him:

"Charles, Charles! It's only because it can't last, having you here, and
I can't bear it alone."

That cry of weakness gave him the ascendancy again. He came to her chair
and knelt by it, his face very serious.

"Listen. I am no more in love with you than with Britannia on the penny.
You know that."

"I know that."

"Nor you with me."

"Nor I with you."

"But I treasure you, Lord knows why. Perhaps because I've never been able
to write poetry. I've wanted to, Lord knows. There's something in me--but
it can't get out that way. Nor by my hands. It looks as though I've had
to come half across the world to find the way out, my way to beauty.
You're the only chance I'll ever have to make a lovely thing. If I can
give you back--"

She said, harshly interrupting:

"It's like giving a gold coin to a man crying for water in the bush. I'm
useless, useless."

The young man lightly shook both her arms, on which he had laid his
hands.

"You'd die for that man."

She cried out:

"Oh God, I would! Only I haven't courage to go quickly."

"But the whole thing is to live," said Adare loudly, holding her arms:
"To live!"

"I'm not strong enough. I can't, Charles, I can't indeed."

"I won't let you. I won't have you take your beauty, your fineness, and
lay it away underground, like the man in the Gospel. I won't let you
break yourself, and that poor devil that the sun rises out of your bosom
for."

"Too long! Too wretched!"

"I'm here, I'll stay, I'll help. Day by day, the small things--do you
remember the list of duties I wrote for you? Ah, don't, for God's sake,
give in, don't let it all go!"

She was silent, eyes closed, head drooping. He laid his forehead on her
knees, still murmuring like a lover: "Don't, don't, my dear!"

She gave a deep quick sigh, and put a hand under his chin, lifting his
face. They looked at each other through tears. She spoke, gently now, and
with a wondering tilt in her voice:

"You and I arc nothing to each other. How can you do so much?"

"Friends. That's what you've been needing. Love's too highfalutin for
this kind of job, too high-stepping; the chaser in the dray."

"I can say things to you that he would not understand. But for him I'd
die, and for you--"

"Darling woman, you're a beauty and a queer one, something out of a fairy
hill. But my heart doesn't jump to be like this, holding you. I don't go
blind with you."

They were silent, so close that each could see the tears, feel the warmth
of the other. She spoke:

"Help me. I'll try."

"You'll try. You swear? Cross your heart?"

She made a little gesture with the point of her thumb upon her breast.

"Cross my heart."

He got up, blew her a kiss, and to ease the tension of their spirits
began laughing at himself and her.

"_Amor vincit omnia_. The poets again. Fools, how little they know! All
love could do for you was to a you up with gin. Down with love, and let's
have breakfast. Eheu, the prize egg's cold!"




BOOK II.



And _Dido_, that suffered for love of _Eneas_, had done as much for lacke
of other Companie. This is the Natur of women: to goe to and fro, and
knit up existence as they doe Stockings, a little upon a little. By
Fables may a man take them, by steel can he not holde them, in them
opposites Rime, their Commandments arc writ upon Sand, not tables of
Stone. For woman being conceiued in a Sleepe (Adam's I mean) is as
dreames uneasie...

--_A Limbo For Ladies._



(i)


Sir Richard Bourke, Governor of New South Wales, driving with two
aides-de-camp on the evening of Patrick's Day, 1832, looked about Lower
George Street, pondering:

"Too many drink-shops still. See about it, next time the question of
licensing comes up before the Council. Plenty of fingers in that fire;
dangerous to nip 'em. That's what did for Bligh."

The senior aide-de-camp, observing His Excellency's frown, took a
sighting shot at its cause.

"I hear at the Club, sir, that Mr. Adare has been busy. He's prime mover
of this ball, I understand."

"Young Adare?" The Governor recalled his thoughts.

"Well, sir, as an Irishman, naturally. St. Patrick, you know, ha! They
don't often have this sort of festivity here--"

The gold-laced Captain spoke the truth. Sydney had in the past honoured
Saints George and Andrew thus primitively by dancing; but St. Patrick, as
a Papistical saint, had been neglected until the presence of an Irishman
in Government House could lend him some tinge of 'the Established
Church, and so entitle him to the ritual tribute.

The matter once decided, two committees had been formed. The ladies,
after a succession of tea-parties, produced a strongly-worded resolution
to the effect that shamrocks made of paper should be employed in the
decoration of the hall. The gentlemen, among whom Mr. Adare was foremost,
in the course of a single meeting, determined upon the best supper money
could buy, and the band of His Majesty's 4th Regiment of Foot to set the
dancers going.

These essentials thus driven like pegs into the social consciousness of
the city, further decision and determinations were hung upon them; as,
the price and colour of tickets, the place of assembly (Temperance Hall),
the hour, and the nature of dances to be rendered by the band. In the
matter of this last, a jury of matrons decided unanimously that the
licentious waltz must not defile their programme. Country dances were to
be the order of the evening, with a quadrille or two by way of proof that
Antipodean school mistresses could turn out as genteel and well-drilled
young ladies as any seminary at home. This done, the tickets were issued
at two guineas a head, and began to fly into the farthest corners of the
colony, even to those outer darknesses beyond the ranges registered upon
Mr. Flusky's map. Delicate spinsters contemplated without dismay a
journey of two hundred miles in a cart, their finery stowed under the
seat. Gentlemen, damning the whole affair as nonsense, dipped in their
pockets to further it. Clergymen, benevolently smiling, approved "an
innocent festivity, such as cannot fail to weld together in a spirit of
fellowship the better elements of our society." Hotel-keepers along the
roads doubled their prices for bait and beds. All this bustle lay behind
the aide-de-camp's innocent statement that Sydney did not often enjoy
such a festivity.

The Governor broke in upon his attendant's polite babble.

"Do you hear anything more of young Adam? He has not been to see me. I
suppose he is in no difficulties yet?"

"Well, sir, as to hearing--Of course, things arc said, but I don't pay
attention to gossip."

"You're wrong," said the Governor briefly. "There's a lot to be learned
from gossip. Napoleon thought so."

"Indeed, sir?" The Captain risked a laugh, but sobered at once,
perceiving no echo from His Excellency. "Well, the fact is, there's a
story, my wife got hold of it; a story that the young man is rather too
warmly interested in a certain quarter."

"Flusky's wife?"

"They say so, sir. I don't heed that sort of thing--"

He broke off, swallowing the disclaimer. "Our housekeeper, you see, was
in Flusky's service, and left the house by reason of this--ah--intimacy.
I don't care for the woman, myself; Milly is her name. However, my wife
vouches for her being sober, and she can certainly cook."

"What's Flusky's attitude, did you learn?"

"Oh, calm, very calm. Won't hear anything against either his wife or
Adare. So the woman states."

"Adare's to be here to-night, you say?"

"One of the committee-men, sir. Sure to be present." The Governor resumed
his reckoning of the number of grog-shops as the coachman sedately, with
no undue use of the whip, made for Temperance Hall.

Temperance Hall was situated at the farther end of George Street, a St.
Anthony of buildings beset by public-houses. Eight or nine lay within
that radius known to the freer-spoken colonists as spitting distance, and
for perhaps three hundred and sixty days in the year they held insolent
triumphing sway, regarding the Hall as their wash-pot, and turning out
swarms of drunkards to cling about its very pillars. But on the evening
of Patrick's Day the Hall eclipsed them. Lights danced in its windows,
bunting adorned its doors; and from the hour of seven-thirty vehicles
rolled towards it, chariots, gigs, britzkas, four-wheeled chaises,
carriages closed and open, raising an impressive dust, and affording the
public-house supporters scope for scornful comment:

"Look at she, with the feathers in her hair! Scratch cockie! Snow's[*]
cheap to-day. Watch the old girl toddle, she'd tip over if anyone give
her a shove. Hooray for the General, look at his whiskers! He rubs lag's
fat on 'em at night."

[* Snow=clean white linen.]

They had, however, this population of sub-respectables, a cheer for His
Excellency Sir Richard Bourke when he appeared in his carriage with
outriders.

"Bite the land sharks, me lord. Trial by jury, and to hell with the
military! A leg-up for lags!"

Sir Richard acknowledged these cries civilly, a hand to his hat. He wore
evening dress, but uniforms swarmed about him and lent his most ordinary
movements, of a gentleman entering upon an evening's entertainment,
something of the precision and glitter of the barrack square. He was
received by the Committee's six or seven prosperous gentlemen, ten or a
dozen ladies in their extravagant best. He shook hands with them all; the
clasp offered to Mr. Adare was neither more nor less hearty than that
awarded to his coadjutors, but there was a brief exchange of words:

"Charles, I hope you're well."

"Never better, sir."

"A most successful function, judged by numbers."

"And beauty, sir?"

"I have not yet looked about me."

"Wait awhile," said Mr. Adare, smiling. The Governor nodded, and passed
on to the dais festooned with flags--no rebel Irish green among them, but
someone had contrived a blue-painted shield with a harp upon it, which
served as a brooch to hold the draperies of the platform together here
and there. He bowed to those known faces in the crowd that made way for
him as he walked, noting the while in his administrator's mind:

"Must be a thousand people present. Too much flimsy stuff, too near the
lamps. However, plenty of ground-floor windows. A great mix. Many
hundreds of strange faces and, by Jove, strange get-ups too. All classes
represented. Don't care for shaking hands with pickpockets and
resurrection men, all the same. Prejudice, that. Got to end. It will take
time, though."

He was on the platform by now. The military band did its duty by the
National Anthem: and all the travelled young ladies, all the exiled
regimental sprigs; all the publicans and their wives; all the landowners,
sheep-farmers, surveyors, physicians and their wives; all the
ironmongers, haberdashers, undertakers and their wives; all the
supervisors of the Convict Establishment, ticket-of-leave men,
emancipists and their wives, formed up in line with a view to
experiencing the joys of rapid motion under his Excellency's patronage
and eye.

They danced to tunes a year or so out of date, with delightful names
borrowed from operas and pantomimes: _Love's Frailties, A Day up the
River, The Matron of Palermo_. Hands four round, went the rustic ladies
and gentlemen, bustled by more knowledgeable town dancers, back again,
down the middle, up again. The experts, clustering together in a set,
attempted more difficult fantasies; top lady and gentleman cross over
with right hand, back again with left hand, _balaneza la poule_, and
_poussette_ to place. Corinthian skirts with three and four tiers of
ornament swung round the sterner Doric of masculine trousers. There was a
pretty chinking of military trappings. Heads, as they bobbed and twirled,
revealed ringlets, short hair oiled and brushed to the rich polish of a
boot, wax flowers jerking briskly upon springs, natural flowers drooping,
ribbons perked into stiff bows, carved combs, and an occasional Prince of
Wales erection of feathers. The men's heavy-coloured coats, red, blue,
black, stood ranked at times as though to overthrow the muslins; these
yielded, fluttered, stooped to conquer, and at length triumphantly
advanced upon the uniforms, with which they mingled, obscuring them from
view. The sound of the dancers was in itself a whole orchestra; shuffle
and thud of feet for drums, violins of voices humming the air, piano-like
rattle of speech, with now and then a laugh shrilling out high as a
piccolo. The lamps in their holders jumped and flickered, paper shamrocks
with their trembling marked the rhythms; gusts of noise, gusts of
movement enlivened and belied the character of Sydney's Temperance Hall.

His Excellency was determined not to dance. He possessed a leg which
served him faithfully on such occasions, a notorious leg, part of whose
calf had been torn away by a bullet in Spain. It did not affect his walk
even in rheumatic weather, but he permitted it to debar him from
ball-room pleasures, smiling while he reflected that the philosopher may
find cause for satisfaction even in an ounce of French lead. The ladies
of the Committee, to whom those subtle Mercuries, the aides-de-camp, had
made the Governor's disability known, were unanimous in worded pity for
it, and unanimous in their inner silent comments: It will make things
easier, no unpleasant discrimination, better none of us than a few. One
problem remained, and this they pondered, while they balanced their fans,
and settled their laces, and furtively shook their heads to ascertain
that the three-piled decorations were still in place; glancing at each
other, and totting up those noughts added to nought which made the sum of
precedence. Who should have the honour of tucking a gloved hand within
his Excellency's bent arm on the way to the board? Above their
preoccupation they talked with him, the stately wives, with a fine
assumption of carelessness, and echoes of the far great world.

"Really almost gay. Though to one who remembers the social gatherings of
London and the Continent--"

"It is our sons, your Excellency, who most feel the lack of superior
schools. Do pray, for the sake of us poor mothers, establish something.
We cannot expect an Eton here in the wilds--"

"The worst of a new country, your Excellency, all the gentlemen have to
work. They have not leisure to be elegant."

"What is the Court news, your Excellency? Is it a fact that the Princess
Victoria still plays with her dolls?"

Dear ladies, commented His Excellency's thoughts, dear women, rather; why
can't you let the social aspects alone? Why must you carry all the old
prejudices and all the old petticoats round your legs in this new
country? You are necessary, you are model wives and mothers, but you are
deuced ineffectual as fine ladies. I wonder which of these is the
creature who has got Charles into her toils? Hard to tell; there's none
drunk that I can see.

"--thank you, I am very well entertained, madam, I assure you. I don't
move in Court circles to any extent. A soldier, you know--"

Tirelessly below the dais the dancers manoeuvred. The clock at the end of
the hall, accustomed to record with lagging hand the progress of
temperance eloquence, moved briskly towards the hour of supper. The
ladies eyed it and each other, calculating chances, and precedence, which
in the best of all possible worlds is victorious over chance. Their
thoughts reckoned up the other female occupants of the dais, alike and
fateful as cherry-stones; Mrs. Advocate-Judge, Mrs. Colonel-Commanding,
Mrs. Admiral, Pothecary, Ploughboy, Thief. If his Excellency was aware of
the silent contest for his favour he gave no sign, but sat jigging a foot
to the twelfth repetition of _Le Garçon Volage_.

The tune was slackening, amid clapping of hands, curtsies, and descending
ohs and ahs of regret from the dancers. The Governor's fingers pressed
the arms of his chair, he was rising, when at his ear sounded the voice
of his sixth cousin.

"I don't know the etiquette, which of you I present to the other. I
think, though, you're not altogether strangers."

Sir Richard stood, with an instant but unspoken appreciation of the young
man's impudence in bringing the woman along as though he were her
husband. Lady Henrietta's red coronet of hair drooped to the
representative of the King. Over it he saw for an instant the faces of
the ladies whose consequence was legitimate and unsullied, and heard
himself saying, while his eye assessed her beauty and the consternation
that it was causing:

"We have met already, indeed, but it was long ago." She answered easily:

"That was in Ireland. There was a bay horse, Cuirassier--but you may not
remember."

"A fine performer! I could never forget Cuirassier."

"--you had him from my father. None of us could hold him, he was vicious
too. We exchanged, do you recollect? And you by some magic made him into
a hunter."

"By Jove!"

Sir Richard's memory was darting here and there, proffering recollections
garnered by three senses. A red-haired girl in a close habit, riding with
frantic courage and no judgment at all; the smell of steam rising from
Cuirassier's shoulders as he pulled up at the end of a gallop; a sound of
talking in the open air, subdued, so that no signal from hounds might be
missed. The creature! ejaculated the voice of his mind; and whether that
expression of admiration might apply to the woman or the beast, he did
not at the moment know.

"By Jove, he put me to some trouble. Broke a bone or two. Do you ride
still?"

"There is no great inducement in the summer."

"True. Dust, no shade--In the winter, though, something might be done.
There was a foxhound pack once, they tell me, when the 73rd were here. I
don't know about foxes, but there are dingoes enough--"

The clock's hand was pointing reproachfully to an hour ten minutes after
supper-time. An aide-de-camp charged with the mission of voicing public
impatience delivered himself tactfully:

"Supper, sir, is ready. When you choose, of course."

His Excellency, so careful of precedent, so discriminatingly aware of
public opinion, permitted himself for a moment to appear absent. With the
most natural air, talking as though he had not finished what he had to
say, he offered Lady Henrietta his arm. So smoothly was the movement
executed that the dispossessed ladies supposed themselves beholders of a
genuine inadvertence, and with humorous tolerance and cluckings accepted
undistinguished customary arms to the supper-room. Only a naval wife,
catching Mr. Adare and halting him on the way to supper as a rock may
halt a leaf on a stream, loudly put the question they all had in mind:

"Is it true that she's the daughter of an earl?"

For this was the crux. Beauty, after the manner of their kind, they could
forgive to no woman; but drinking and a convict husband, with
accompanying legends of indecent exposure and brawls--these in a genuine
ladyship might pass. Other wives paused, intent to hear the answer.

Mr. Adare reassured them. Genuine old title, Irish, eccentric; genuine
old castle, full of shrieks as Otranto; genuine lordly and lunatic
relatives all over the West of Ireland. No deception, ladies and
gentlemen.

The wives conferred, deferred, reached a conclusion.

"An earl's daughter, you know, keeps her precedence. One would not wish,
in this far corner of the globe, to stand upon ceremony. Still, one is
aware, one knows one's world, one is only too happy, one understands how
to behave."

Thus the more impulsive and milder ladies. But the naval wife, in the
best bluff tradition of her service-by-marriage, came out plump with:

"All very well, but I don't see at all why these people should be above
behaviour. My husband was at Palermo as a lieutenant, he's seen Lady
Hamilton's many the time come aboard half-naked, and half-seas over too.
Why should the wretches have all the privileges?"

Mr. Adare needed only to laugh. The naval broadside had not done much
damage, as he perceived. Ladies, ladies! He was profoundly happy; more
than one pair of eyes noted and stored the fact away, matter for gossip
at some convenient time. He was too much for them. He was on top of this
small world as a man might be who has written an unforgettable word, or
struck an eternal posture out of marble. The ladies could not tell what
energy moved him, but were obedient to it; their thoughts dropped from
moral heights to the supper-table, as eagles readily drop from their
palaces of cloud to a dead sheep fallen under a bush. They were practical
women, as became the wives of pioneers, and to the practical mind there
is no lasting sustenance in the chameleon's dish.

Adare, needing solitude, found an excuse to depart out of the radius of
the ladies' smiles. He went through a door, up a stair, very dark and
leading he knew not where, but which had a kind of ventilator pierced in
that wall giving upon the supper-room. By this ventilator he stood,
peering down, seeking Lady Henrietta with his eyes, and soon finding her.
She sat on the Governor's right hand in a dress the colour of a Colmar
grape, purple, but having a silvery bloom in the folds of it. He had seen
that dress fitted, had advised upon it, she standing laughing, and
holding a shawl modestly about her white shoulders. Flusky coming in had
seen them thus, and after a moment's contemplation had said something
about jewels; how about rubies? They both cried out No, no, with one
voice, while the sewing-woman squatting on the floor looked up
astonished, muted by her denture of pins. Flusky had said nothing,
abruptly going out. Adare recalled now something ominous in that sudden
turn, but was not overtaken by any compunction. The man was free to do as
he chose, the man might have stayed and laughed with them, and welcome.
He had not chosen. He was absent to-night. He is missing something,
thought the young man at his peephole, wistfully, that you'd think any
husband would give his ears for. Look at her, look at her, my lovely
creature that I made out of a drinky slattern, a boozy frowsy poor slut
with no friend but her bottle of gin.

She was the only woman wearing no jewels; the only woman with her hair
low and smooth on her neck; the only woman who could turn her hands and
her head divinely, like the movements of a swan. She bent to the
Governor's voice, and it was the stoop of a poplar before wind. She
handled her glass, and he thought of that legend of the Queen of Scots,
how wine could be seen passing down her throat, it was so white. Her
voice he could not hear, but it sang in his mind, a little husky,
monotonous and sweet.

All at once he felt limp, as though virtue had gone out of him, and sat
down on the stairs with a quick sigh. Finished, the work of art. What of
the artist, who the hell cares for him, left empty and purposeless,
forlorn?



(ii)


Forlorn! A sound, chiming with that word in his thought, brought him back
again to his sole self. It was a movement, a rustle. He said, smoothing
hair dishevelled by his own plunged fingers, instinctively tweaking down
his waistcoat in the dark:

"Who's that, who's there?"

The sound shifted upwards, a stair creaked. He moved after, stretching
his hand before him into darkness, and closed it round an ankle; closed
it completely, thumb and finger-tip just meeting. A good beginning
anyway, thought the young man, coming out of his melancholy with the rush
proper to his age; let us discover more.

"Don't be frightened. Why are you here? This is a silk stocking, it ought
to be under one of the tables."

The unseen person gave a brief laugh, but pulled in her breath after it.
He went on, fingering the flounces of the dress:

"Muslin. Worked in sprigs. What will it look like after these stairs? How
could you use a poor muslin so?"

The unknown retreated a step higher, pulling her dress out of his grasp,
and fairly ran upwards, her slippers hardly sounding, but all the
petticoats and their frills swishing like the last lap of a wave
spreading its lace on a beach. He followed, two stairs at a time, and
caught her as she wrestled with a door-handle. His fingers closed over
hers, which were cool and rough. He had not expected that roughness, it
checked him a little, so that she was able to twist the door open without
further interference; when she tried to bang it, however, his foot was in
the way.

He looked with interest at his quarry. An oil-lamp swung in the centre of
the room--it was an office, flyblown, its sole beauty the square of
window framing stars--and this showed a young girl, short, frail, her
dark hair atrociously sown with gum flowers, looking at him resentfully.
She had a small pointed face like an animal, much too wide between the
eyes, the mouth much too large; she had been crying.

"What did I tell you?" said he, nodding at her flounces. "You're all
cobwebs. Mab could dress Moth, Mustard-seed, her whole court off you."

The unknown at this for the first time broke silence with a solitary
syllable, disconcerting him:

"Who?"

"The fairy queen; Titania, Mab. Don't they have fairies in this country?"

She looked at him uncomprehending.

"What business have you got sneaking after me?"

Poor child, thought Adare. The voice was rough as her hands when it could
be heard in a whole sentence. He said:

"I thought perhaps I might help you--"

"Bender!" interrupted the girl with entire scorn. He could interpret
this. The three assigned women, that odd team of harpies which he drove
by alternating flattery with boxes on the ear, constantly used the
expression to imply dissent or incredulity. Oh yes, I'll make
haste--bender. We'll all marry lords--bender.

"I did, though," he repeated. "You were crying, weren't you?"

"What of it?" said the girl, drawing her hand defiantly beneath her nose.
"Can't I cry if I want?"

"Not at a ball," Adare said gently. "It's not the thing. No, you
certainly mustn't cry at a ball."

"A lot you know," said the girl, again with that laugh drawn in like a
sob. She turned her back on him. "I don't want anybody, see? Go away."

Adare shut the door, then came behind her. For curiosity, and because a
medley of sentiments were stirring in him that he could not interpret, he
took her wrist as before he had taken her ankle, between finger and
thumb. The finger overlapped this time by an inch or two. When she shook
her arm to escape, he let her go at once.

"Why d'you touch me? That's gentlemen for you."

"I beg your pardon," said the young man. "I didn't mean to annoy you."

"Why do you do it, then? Why are you after me like this? Let me alone, I
tell you."

She kept her shoulders turned to him, picking to pieces, as though she
hated it, an ugly flower that had dropped from her hair.

"Is there anyone I can bring to you?"

He meant any relative, any comfortable person on whose shoulder, should
she feel so disposed, she might cry, and he was astonished to see the
curve of her cheek turn red as though he had slapped it. She faced him.

"I don't want your charity. I don't want partners."

"Well, then, madam, if it isn't unreasonable to ask, what do you come to
a ball for?"

"Oh, get out," she answered roughly. "I've told you before I don't want
you."

This was no way to address a young man whose spirit was up; a young man,
moreover, beginning to assess the sullen eyes and mouth at a value by no
means low.

"Are you sure?" said he.

The girl was silent, new to this kind of impudence. He liked the colour
across her cheek-bones; she had the sallow skin of all currency [*] women,
and the patches of red became her.

[* Currency= Australian-born.]

"Are you sure you won't let me offer you an arm, and escort you
downstairs, and find the wing of a chicken for you? Why do you keep me
here among the cobwebs? A bottle is the only right place for cobwebs--"

"I keep you here!" she said, helplessly angry. "I keep _you_!"

"Put it to yourself, now, is it likely I'll go away and leave you to cry
all alone? Even to be angry is better; more becoming, too. It is my duty
to stay here and torment you till you come to a better frame of mind.
Besides, I am a committee-man, the success of this ball is my affair, I
am affronted when the prettiest of all St. Patrick's patrons runs off in
a corner to snivel."

"You don't get round me that way."

"What way, then? Tell me, and I'll march round and round you like those
old Bible fellows at Jericho. Tell me how I can make you endure me."

"Very funny," said the girl.

"It was not meant for a joke. It is only my way of talking."

"Why can't you go and talk to all the swells where you belong?"

"How do you know where I belong?" She did not answer. "I believe you know
my name. I believe you've had your eye on me all the evening, if the
whole truth were told."

"Oh, go away, go away!"

"Listen," said he, changing his tone instantly, "I don't know what's
troubling you, but there is something that's certain. If I can help, tell
me. If I can't, I promise I'll go."

"You can't. Nobody can."

He bowed without the satirical flourish he had at first intended, and
said, looking at her eyes, dark-set, but blue perhaps by daylight:

"Good night, then, madam."

On the words, they both became aware of a change in the quality of those
sounds which had run beneath their talk. The bourdon of conversation,
human noise, had been steadily sustained; above it flickered, in sharp
differentiation, noises inanimate, chinks and clashes of glasses and
knives. Now for a moment all these died, a single voice could be heard
calling something not to be distinguished. Immediately the human voice
rose, again, and another inanimate sound with it, a rumbling of wood upon
wood, chairs being pushed hastily back, while the voices took a higher
pitch. It might have been only a loyal toast, and the ending of supper,
but for some reason neither of the listeners in the office could think
so. As they stood, a scent crept to them, carrying warning.

"Wait," quietly said Adare to the girl.

He opened the door. The smell of smoke was not to be mistaken. He went
quickly downstairs past the ventilator, through which he caught a glimpse
of people moving with the slow urgency of a blocked throng; he reckoned
up and rejected this opening as a chance of escape--too small, the drop
on the farther side too great. The smoke was thick, he had difficulty in
breathing in the darkness, but he reached the door at the stairs' foot
and opened it. A blast of fire rushed in upon him, so that he threw up
his hands instinctively to shelter his face. He had one thought; I must
get back to her. He pulled the door to, shoving his hand through flame,
and fled upstairs through the smoke, holding his breath lest he should
cough and so stifle before he reached the upper room. He reached the top,
gasping, and shut that door too before he looked for her, and saw a white
shape at the window blocking out blue darkness.

"Don't," he called. "Wait. Give me a moment--the smoke--"

She turned her head, and to his astonishment, almost his indignation, saw
that she was laughing. She spoke out the window:

"That's the way, mister. Set it up, we can drop to it."

A man's voice outside said something, which she answered with a sudden
screech of laughter, and a colloquial:

"That's right."

"What is it?"

Adare was beside her, whooping the fresh air into his lungs. Staring
down, he could make out a square-covered cart below, drawn by a pony. A
man was standing upon its top, setting a ladder against their wall. He
could hear the shoulders of the ladder scrape upon bricks four feet or so
below the window.

"A danna-drag," she answered. "Arc you any the wiser?"

He was not; when a further witticism came from the rescuer, and was
answered, still he was at a loss.

"You go first," the girl ordered; "it's nothing of a drop. Hold by the
sill."

"Pardon me," Adare answered, humour coming back to him with his breath,
"but which of us two is the damsel in distress?"

She laughed again at that--she was excited, the red still barred her
cheek-bones--and took the oil lamp from its suspensory ring, holding it
so as to illuminate the window; for the first time she looked at her
gallant, dishevelled, stock pulled undone, and eyebrows burnt off.

"Looks as if it's you," said she, grinning. "Go on, show the way."

"I'm damned if I do. Women and children first."

"Well," said the girl, judicially, "there's plenty time. Hold the lamp,
then."

He took the lamp, holding it awkwardly in his scorched hand. She
hesitated, turned half from him, a tribute to modesty, and unhooked,
untied, somehow loosed her flounces, which dropped round her feet. She
jerked her head at them, advancing to the window.

"Drop 'em after me."

Then with a neat swift movement she was over the sill, and he saw her two
little red hands strongly clutching for a second while her feet searched
in air. They loosened their grip, disappeared; leaning out, he saw that
she was almost down. He picked up the petticoats and sprigged skirt,
waited till she had her footing and was looking up, then tossed them. The
man on the cart, receiving one soft drift of white, found something
jocose to say which Adare, in a puzzle with his lamp, did not hear. At
last he put it out, straddled the sill, easily found the ladder and
descended to the cart's flat top. There the rescuer, an individual who
smelt unpleasantly, could be heard saying, between hiccups of laughter:

"Done for a jump, mister! Well, that's a new one. That's plummy, that is.
First time anyone's due to have a medal for knapping a jacob.[*] You was
on toast without it, though; you was, proper."

[* Jacob=stealing a ladder. This misdemeanour usually the preliminary to
crime, was heavily punished.]

Adare agreed to as much as he comprehended of this speech, and sought the
darkness for his companion.

"Are you quite unharmed?" he called. "Miss--" but what the devil was her
name? "Are you safe?"

"Ha!" commented the man of the cart, with an indescribable weeping snort.
"S'help us, her in her kickseys and he don't know her name."

Adare hit him as decisively as darkness and the uncertain footing would
allow. The man cursed and fell backwards to the ground, where he lay.
Adare leapt down beside him.

"Come, get up out of there. That's for what you said. Here's for what you
did."

"Eh?" said the man, bewildered. "You'd no call to do a thing like that,
mister. You was on toast--"

"I know, I know. Where's your hand?"

The man rose grumbling; two half-guineas, the only coins Mr. Adare's
pocket contained, were pressed into his hand, and he heard his
assailant-cum-benefactor say, on top of a shrill whistle:

"Why, damn it, my fist's grilled like an underdone steak!"

The cart's pony, which during this interlude had budged no more than a
sphinx, seemed to wake from a doze and moved forward. His owner, feeling
the weight and milling of the two coins in the dark, called out the
tribute money can always command:

"You're a gentleman, mister." He added, as an afterthought: "No offence,
I hope."

"Where's the lady?" said Adare, peering as the cart moved, and its
conductor ran to hook his ladder to the back.

"She won't be far," returned the man, and burst into another laugh.
"Fancy, it ain't what I'm used to collecting, by no means, not of a
night."

Slowly, clanking, the cart moved off, and Adare could discover no girl
behind it. One petticoat lay where it had fallen, but she had assumed the
rest of her attire and fled. Adare picked up the petticoat idly, then
with a start recollected the reason and occasion of its discarding. Fire,
fire! He could hear, coming from the other side of the building, the
unmistakable confused echoes that are waked by that cry; and throwing the
petticoat over his shoulder, impulsively ran.

Into George Street the fine ladies and their escorts were herding, while
from the steps of the Temperance Ball officers cried, in parade-ground
voices, reports and reassurances which nobody heeded. In the poor light
of coach lanterns and half a dozen street lamps the crowd eddied,
unwilling to disperse and leave a clear way for soldiers with pails of
water; bound by half a dozen different spells the dancers lingered, by a
shawl left in the cloakroom, a husband not yet seen safe, desire to miss
no excitement, expectation of some spectacular rescue. Pickpockets, upon
whose hopes such a gathering descended like manna, filched with neatness
every fob, handkerchief, snuff-box or purse to which Mercury guided their
fingers. There were one or two feminine faintings, with masculine bawls
of "Stand back there!" Coachmen sardonically looked down from their
boxes. In the windows of the circumferent public-houses lights sprang up
mockingly, and persons arrayed with no thought for propriety were
displayed leaning out. The only thing lacking to this scene was that
which had, presumably, set it in motion. There were no flames, though
from a window or two smoke listlessly eddied. Voices near Adare were
suggesting that the whole affair was a plant of the tinny-hunters.[*] All
at once he remembered Lady Henrietta, his creation, his triumph in a
velvet gown.

[* Tinny-hunters=persons who avail themselves of the confusion caused by
a fire to steal what they can.]

"Is everyone out?" he asked his neighbour.

"Everyone, I couldn't say," the neighbour returned, in the sardonic
currency voice Adare could never get used to. "The fire is."



(iii)


"'An event,'" read Lady Henrietta aloud, "'which might have had
unfortunate, not to say tragic consequences, occurred in connection with
the St. Patrick's Day Ball, held last night under the auspices of His
Excellency and the _élite_ of the Colony. Some tasteful draperies with
which part of the ball-room was festooned, took fire, owing to the too
close proximity of a lamp, and a wooden partition, together with some of
the instruments of the band, was wholly consumed. Owing to an early alarm
the conflagration was prevented from spreading, and no damage is
reported, as we go to press, save to the sensibilities of the ladies,
whose evening's enjoyment was cut short in this most alarming manner. His
Excellency'--do you really care to hear all this?"

"I know the next part. His Excellency brought Lady Henrietta Flusky to
her coach and sent her home, leaving her escort to find his way to
Woolloomooloo as best he could."

"We could not find you. You were not at supper. Where did you hide?"

"Answer me a question first. Is it or is it not good manners, _de
rigueur_, to return a lady's petticoat?"

"Charles!"

"Not in that voice, if you please. Secondly, allowing that such a return
is de rigueur, how does one deduce the lady's address from a simple tab
with her name worked on it in cross-stitch?"

"Suppose you tell me the story."

"How can I? I don't know the half of it. What, for instance, is a
danna-drag?"

"Do you really not know? It is the word out here for a night-cart, the
men who go about cleaning the privies."

"Ha!" explosively said Mr. Adare. "So much for romance. Now your book
hero, your opera hero, would rather expire in a thousand torments than
owe his life to such a machine." She laughed. "There, you see, my rescue
becomes ridiculous at once. I won't tell you another word. However, I may
let you interpret the tab for me."

He produced it, an inch or two of tape on which the name S. QUAIFE was
worked in red. Lady Henrietta took it, looking at him as she did so with
a question which he forestalled.

"It may stand for Selina, or Susan, or Sarah. I'm no wiser than you."

"But you would like to be wiser?"

He moved his right arm restlessly back and forth in its sling, got up
from his chair and moved to the mantelpiece.

"How the habits of posture cling! Here we are with the thermometer at
ninety, still I move towards the fire. It is the Englishman's right, and
the Irishman's too, to keep a woman in the cold with his coat-tails when
he wants to put her in her place."

She asked no more. He went on:

"It is the merest vulgar curiosity on my part, I assure you. I am not the
man to be caught by any sharp-spoken hussy with a heart-shaped face. Yes,
that was the shape; her hair grew down in a dip on her forehead, and her
chin ran to a point. But if you assure me that one does not return a
petticoat, of course I shall not pursue the matter further."

She said after a pause, putting the tab away in a needle-book:

"Let us talk about the Governor. He spoke of you: asked so kindly after
you. I told him--something."

"Blackened yourself to whiten me, I'll be bound."

"There was no need. The Governor hears more than we suppose. Charles, if
he should make an offer, pray consider it."

"I believe you want to get rid of me." He was naively astonished that she
did not look up, smile, and instantly deny this. "What? You do?"

"That is not the way to put it. I think it might be as well for you--not
to be any longer here."

"I see," Adare answered slowly. In fact, his mind's eye had, upon those
words, drawn a picture of Flusky's attitude on the previous evening as
they were setting out for the ball, and of a gesture made by him as his
wife slipped a hand within his arm. He had put the hand away from him.
Adare, remembering, glimpsed for an instant the intolerable burden of the
man's debt, unwittingly contracted and now grown too heavy to repay. His
poet's imagination for which words afforded no channel assured him of
Flusky's suffering, allowed him to compassionate it; but he could find no
formula to express the complex situation other than a blunt: It must be
hell to owe your wife to another man. Aloud he repeated:

"I see. Well, since that's the case I'll put my pride in my pocket."

She looked up quickly, gratefully, but said nothing. The newspaper lay
still on her knee, and she availed herself of the chance it offered to
avoid further difficult explanations.

"Shall I read on?"

"Do. I cannot manage, swaddled up like this. I like your voice, besides;
your well-fitting o's and i's. How I detest vowel-sounds cut on the
cross! I could never love a woman that spoke so. Let me have a list of
the goods coming up for auction. I like that best."

She began in all seriousness to read:

"'Mr. T. Smart will have the honour to offer for public competition on
March 30th at 11 o'clock precisely, 1 gross of egg-spoons, a second-hand
gig, ship biscuit, baby linen, 1 bass-viol (damaged), castor oil, 3
canary birds, Bohemian glass, a superior Europe feather bed, and the
effects of a deceased clergyman--'"



(iv)


The two men sat after their evening meal (which had been indifferent, a
descent from the feasts of Milly's reign) in the silence which had come
to characterize their association. Lady Henrietta was with them. She had
eaten nothing. The glasses at her right hand all were empty, as were
those set by Flusky; only in Mr. Adare's were dregs of amber and garnet
still to be seen, and by him stood a pair of decanters. The twilight had
none of the calm of an English day's ending; a southerly breeze was
relieving one of the hottest twelve hour the Colony had ever known, and
clouds the colour lead and blood were driving before it. The evening had
a restless threatening quality, not brooding mischief marching towards
it, as though night were to be signal for outbreak. All three persons at
the table aware of this uneasiness in the atmosphere, and two at least
were glad of it, since it afforded a physical explanation for the
apprehensions which beset them.

A cry, sudden and abandoned as the yelp of an animal, made Adare set down
the glass he was twisting; Lady Henrietta clapped hands to ears, her
mouth for an instant drawn square. Flusky, looking indifferently down
towards the bay, said:

"One of the gins. Ketch is back; uses up a lot of wives."

"What use is an infernal savage like that to any one?" said Adare,
sharply. "Why d'you let them camp there? Why don't they gaol all these
murdering devils, and keep them in gaol?"

"Well," said Flusky, with composure, "he don't do no harm. He has his
uses, Ketch."

Adare was becoming conscious, through his irritation, of the ugliness of
the thing he had said. He took some more wine, aware that he did not want
it, and that the heat of the evening made drinking unwise, because he was
at a loss for a movement to cover discomfort.

"He's come back with a yarn," Flusky went on; then, as if checking a
confidence: "but you can't believe all these coves say."

Adare said idly: "I don't know how you make out their yabber. Worse than
Irish. What's the yarn, as you call it?" Flusky took a sip of water; then
rose, and going to the window put two fingers fork-shaped to his lips.
The whistle carried; it ran down the wind as down a slope. The cooee that
acknowledged it sounded robust but far, so that it was astonishing to
see, within fifty seconds of its utterance, the black outside the window,
greased, and reflecting their table's light from cheeks and shoulders.
His face was so marred with confluent small-pox that such skin as had
escaped the sores stood up here and there in ridges like scars; his teeth
were gapped as the ritual of his tribe prescribed; the whites of his eyes
were bloodshot with dust. He stared eagerly at Lady Henrietta, who looked
away from him. Flusky, standing square, tossed him a cigar, which the
black immediately stowed in his mouth to roll and suck at. Adare had seen
enough of the aborigines to find them repulsive rather than strange, and
he had no great hopes of the promised yarn. Still, since his chair faced
that way, he continued languidly to survey Ketch, whom Husky addressed:

"You tella where you done been, what you find, Ketch, you sabby tell
budgery."

"Yuna bo to bang wiyunnun tuloa,"[*] the black began.

[* Indeed, I will speak the truth.]

Flusky interrupted roughly:

"Stow that, nobody sabby's that talk. Piyalla English, you sabby plenty.
Say out what you told me."

"Kabo, kabo," the black answered, making placatory movements of his
hands. "Ketch bin gone mountain, long, long--" He indicated illimitable
distance with a hand pushed forward three or four times. "You gib Ketch
lush?"

Flusky poured from the decanter by Adare's elbow a tumbler of wine,
stirred a spoonful of mustard in it, and handed it to the black fellow,
who swallowed it unquestioning, glared a moment as the mustard bit his
throat, then rubbed his seamed chest, nodding and grinning, approving the
power of the draught.

"Plenty budgery. Plenty strong. You gib?"

He held out the tumbler again, which Flusky put back on the table.

"That's enough. Get on, talk."

The black rolled his eyes piteously upon the other two white persons, but
perceiving that they were in no mood for almsgiving, began his story. It
sounded, from the scurry of the words and the lively movements of the
teller, to be one of continuous adventure; sentences tripped over each
other, the hands continually eking out their meaning, sketching the
flight of a bird, the cast of a spear, the shape of a mountain, the
twists of a river. Adare understood nothing of it, and soon ceased the
sport of trying to catch words. Lady Henrietta looked at her husband,
then past him to the burdened racing clouds.

Ketch at last checked his story, and fumbled among the necklaces he wore,
a medley of animal's teeth, corks, and the handles of cups strung on
sinews from a wallaby's tail. He found something and held it forward
between two fingers for inspection. Adare cast an indifferent glance,
then straightened in his chair. The object was a flake of quartz; one
side glinted as he turned it.

"God, Flusky," said the young man, keeping his voice low, "surely that's
gold?"

"You gib," said Flusky to the black; and when Ketch hung back, made a
movement towards the tumbler as though to refill it, at which promise of
a bribe he untwisted his treasure.

"It's gold all right," Flusky answered after deliberate examination.

"Ask him where he found it. Ask him if this was all."

"Near the Fish River. Some gully near there."

"You gib," Ketch clamoured. "_Minnung bullin bi_?[*] You gib lush."

[* What are you doing?]

Flusky filled the glass with the same mixture, while Adare turned the
scrap of stone and metal this way and that under the light, inviting Lady
Henrietta to admire it. She looked troubled, could find nothing to say in
wonder at the white stone veined with gold. The young man at Flusky's
side asked for more details with an eagerness he was now at no pains to
conceal. Flusky shook his head, and taking the quartz from him, casually
returned it to the black with a jerk of dismissal. Adare kept silence
while Ketch retreated, imagining this indifference to be part of a plan;
then broke out with suggestions and devices.

"There must be more. Let's get an interpreter to question him--no, that
won't do, of course, we don't want the whole Colony to know. How are we
to get it out of him? How far is this river, has it been surveyed, are
there roads?"

Flusky answered soberly:

"I only brought him up for the lark of the thing; something to do. You
don't want to take it for gospel."

"But it's gold. It must be gold!"

"It's gold all right." He paused. "Did ever you hear about a cove called
Parker?"

"Who, Nosey? Does that mean I'm asking too many questions?"

"Parker was a prisoner, got away from a road gang. When they found him,
he had a lot of this stuff, stowed inside his shirt. They took the shirt
off him, and the hide, too. He died, not so long after."

Adare stared at the square white face, the motionless hanging hands;
looked to Lady Henrietta for enlightenment, but she was frowning; came
back to the charge.

"But why? How long ago? Gold means wealth to a country, surely?"

"But it don't mean wealth where it's wanted, see, and that's why." Adare,
incredulous, was beginning to argue; the thick hand cut off his words.
"Gold's found; as soon as that gets about, what happens? All the
population goes after it, shepherds, farmers, useful men out of the
towns. It pulls away all the labour. Land's no good without labour. And
there's a lot of people here own land. Government included. I go in for
land myself."

His explanation ended with that sentence. What followed was in the nature
of a commentary. "So, you see, they don't let it get about."

"You mean, this man Parker was killed to silence him?"

Flusky did not answer. A sheet of lightning blanched the room and all
three faces for a moment.

"It's coming," said Lady Henrietta under her breath, beginning to reckon
on the table with fingers the seconds that heralded thunder. Ten, twelve,
fifteen--

"But a private individual--if you were to find it, or I, for instance;
they couldn't touch a private individual. Parker was a prisoner. What
could they do?"

Twenty. Thunder began to rip and mutter, coming up, like a discoverer
blown by storm, along the coast from the south. Adare gave a laugh when
it ceased.

"The Government! I don't believe it. It's money in their pockets, too."

"I only know what I've heard. Parker wasn't the only one. Surveyor
McBrian found gold in the river up near Bathurst. And there's a road
there never got finished; improperly surveyed, they said, and shifted the
road gang to Newcastle. I'm only telling you."

"I can't believe they're such damn fools. I'm seeing the Governor
to-morrow--"

"Charles! Are you?"

"A message, this afternoon." He returned to Flusky--"Have you any
objection to my making enquiries? Discreetly, of course?"

Flusky, hands in pocket, shook his head, and poured out water into a
tumbler. Adare called:

"Look out, that's the glass the black fellow used."

"So it is," Flusky answered, rinsing out the dregs of claret and mustard
before he filled it again and drank; then said, mildly raising his eyes:
"If you want, you could come and look at my map."

The map, a white space on which black symbols indicated the fall of
water, lift of mountains, and those places where men had set temporary
hearthstones, was coloured by Adare's imagination as a child fills in
with chalks the line-drawings in a book. He had talked to men who knew
the country, remembering their casual descriptions. He had turned over
drawings in the Surveyor's office, and ridden towards the Blue Mountains
with some of His Excellency's young men. With pleasure his mind projected
the details of a journey. Plains first of all, yellow in the rainless
autumn weather, whirlwinds of dust stalking on them, tall as the
fisherman's jinn. Then ranges, similar as ridges left upon sand by the
outgoing tide, above which crows flew level and eagles soared spiralling.
Storms moved high above these hills with an escorting rattle of barren
thunder. Winds from the north-west, constant as compass-needles, pointed
towards country known as yet only to the black hunters, rich only in
their food; grubs, snakes, tree creatures. Beyond this the rivers sank to
links of ponds, or failed altogether, the earth gaped in broad cracks
ancient and lifeless as craters of the moon. In such country, destitute
of everything that gold could buy, gold reflected the sun unheeded; in
piles of dirt scratched up by dingoes, in rocks whereon the blacks
scrawled with soot and clay the hieroglyphics of their priesthood, in the
roots of lean trees overturned by wind.

Adare, gazing at the map, went forward to the beckoning of this imagined
thirst-defended gold. Flusky's voice came to him as though from a
distance.

"Gold means trouble. Gold don't do nobody any good."



(v)


His Excellency said, looking up from papers:

"Glad to see you, Charles. Sit down. I won't keep you long."

The young man, however, strolled to a window, and looked down across
bleached grass to the hay. It was singularly blue, and large ships rode
close to shore; deep water there. On Dawes' Battery soldiers in red
coats, coifed with tall shakos that left their napes bare to the sun,
were changing guard. Not a child watched them, not a dog. Heat prevailed
over curiosity.

"Well, Charles?"

"Sir." He turned and came towards the desk, standing by it. "I'm sorry
our social endeavours the other night ended in smoke."

"I heard you'd been hurt."

"It's nothing." Adare shook his hand free from its sling. "My own fault.
Tell me, didn't you fall in love with my Lady Hattie?"

"She's a beauty, poor woman, no doubt of that. To look at her--"

"To look at her you wouldn't think she was scandalous, and you'd be
right."

The Governor did not take up the challenge. He began to seek among his
papers, talking:

"You've had three months of this country now. You're acclimatized. I take
it, too, you've learned better how to conduct speculations in land."

"You are right, as it happens; there is no speculation in these eyes." He
checked. "It was an odd mistake for Flusky to make, of all people. He
must have known the applications would go to you."

"Are you so sure it was a mistake?" The young man stared. "It served his
purpose very well; got you out of my house into his."

"He couldn't have guessed you would take it so hard. No, that's
far-fetched. He's not such a Machiavelli as that."

The Governor dropped the subject.

"And the poetry? How does that go?"

"Oh, the poetry," the young man answered, inexplicably smiling. "Not so
badly."

"Would a project of action appeal to you?" Adare gave consent by 'his
silence, sitting down upon the edge of the desk to listen. "Fortescue is
setting out on an expedition with a limited objective--" His Excellency
found the paper he had been seeking. "You will hear historians talk of
rivers as arteries of commerce. In this country they are life-blood.
Mitchell was gone off before we arrived, to survey the Bogan; that was a
Government project. Dixon, too, is one of our men. Fortescue is a private
person, but he has Government backing to this extent: we will acknowledge
his discoveries very handsomely on our maps, and he has authority from me
to risk his own existence and that of anyone he can persuade to accompany
him. He proposes to take ship along the coast--it is the shortest
route--to a spot above Port Macquarie, and thence strike inwards. We know
little, as yet, of the river that runs into Tryal Bay; or of the
watershed inland, from which perhaps other streams are distributed. Three
or four months' wandering, with the chance of giving your name to some
mountain, or other conspicuous natural feature. What do you say?" Adare
answered, rather absently:

"Port Macquarie; not near the Fish River, is it?" The Governor did not
answer, looking his astonishment, and Adare went on rapidly: "I have
heard that name somewhere lately. It stays in my head. Who is Mr.
Fortescue?"

"Dine to-night and meet him."

"Very happy." He stood up, half-laughing. "I suppose there would be no
objection, if we found a reef of gold on the way, to our bringing some of
it home?"

"Gold?" His Excellency looked up sharply. "The first thing every fool
hopes to find in a new country."

Adare answered as crisply:

"Why the devil not?" He knew he had spoken with too much abruptness, and
turned it off. "Every man hopes to be rich without working. You are an
Irishman yourself, we are all of us on the look-out for the leprechaun's
crock."

"A lot of good his crock has ever done. Look at the Spaniards, they found
it in Peru; and now Spain's choked with the stuff, dying like King Midas.
No, no, Charles, be said by me. If your services on this expedition arc
adequate, there'll be no difficulty about a grant. Get land, don't waste
time listening for the tap of the little man's hammer."

Adare was silent. The Governor stood up, offering his hand. "I expect you
to-night, then. My regards to Lady Henrietta."

"You made a conquest there."

"She is a fine creature. Very great beauty, great charm."

"Very."

"It is remarkable, for she must be, let me see; yes, she must be over
forty."

"Not a doubt of it. The dangerous age."

His Excellency drew back from this thrust and parry, aware that the young
man had become defiant for some reason, and put on the official again.

"I will endeavour to have someone from the Surveyor's Office this
evening, with maps. No reason why you should not take advice, as far as
advice may carry you. Will six o'clock suit you? Till then."

The young man, turning down the left-hand sweep of Government House
drive, past a sentry retired into his box to escape the sun, walked by
the Secretary's offices, and so by way of Bridge Street to the centre of
the town. There in George Street he found a cleanly-looking barber's
shop, had his hair cut, and listened to New World gossip as it drifted to
him from the neighbouring chairs; prevalence of influenza among sheep
up-country, a project of growing tobacco in the Colony--"all right, but
how about locusts?"--the recent public execution of a thief. There was no
little discussion of this last, until the barber at the next chair
pronounced with authority:

"Harper strung him up neat enough, but he had time to kick. It wants what
I call the hand. It's something you can't teach a man. There's no call to
let 'em kick, not if a man known his job."

Adare, head bent forward to allow the scissors' play upon his neck,
recorded this utterance in his memory. To each man his conscience in art,
thought he. But he was unprepared for the next comment, which came from a
personage with the appearance of a turnkey:

"You'd never ought to have given it up. There's work enough, with men
taking to the bush every week. You did ought to have stuck to it."

The authoritative barber shook his head, delicately tilting his client's
head sideways with a finger and thumb straddling the nose.

"There's not a living in it. I haven't got only myself to think of."

"Tell me," said Adare, low to his own attendant, "is that individual
shaving my neighbour the hangman?"

"Was, sir. Was. Retired a year ago and set up here."

"Does he do well?"

"Well? Yes, sir, nicely, he's got a wonderful light hand. It's a nice
connection."

The proprietor looked about him, razor in hand, lacked something, and
with the strong crook of his little finger pulled a bell-rope that ended
in a loop of twine. Someone entered, pushing aside the curtain at the
back of the shop.

"Towels, Sue."

Mr. Adare, idly raising his head, saw in the mirror before him a
remembered profile. He sprang up, making a small commotion, sending a
brush to the floor.

"It's you! Good day to you. Why didn't you wait? I lost you the other
night. I hope you took no harm."

The girl halted, and a flush brightened her eyes before she looked
down at her apron.

"I was all right."

"Who's the gent, Sue?" That was the proprietor, indulgently smiling, but
with a steady suspicious glance.

"At the ball the other night." She vouchsafed no other explanation. Adare
perceived that the adventure of the escape had been left untold, and
might remain so. He was aware, also, that in such circumstances it would
not be _de rigueur_ to return her petticoat. He repeated, elaborating,
his first greeting:

"I hope you took no harm with all the flurry of the fire."

She neither answered nor departed; she was looking at his sling. The
other customers stared at them both, and Adare became conscious that once
again he presented no very heroic figure, with a towel about his neck and
his hair, untutored by any final combing, in disarray. He bowed and
waited, unwilling to sit down again until she should be gone, aware of
her father's eye upon him. For he had jumped up to greet her with a
spontaneous gladness which astonished himself, and the flush that ran
across her cheek had gratified something which he supposed must be his
vanity. The proprietor strung up their embarrassment neatly and finally;
not a kick was left in the situation when he had done with it.

"Towels, Sue. Are you done, Mister? There's others waiting."

Adare accepted the fiat, and did not await the girl's reappearance from
behind the curtain. He looked at the sign as he passed out. "Vigors," it
read, in letters large and faded; above, inconspicuous, the words
"Quaife, late," indicated the shop's present owner, and the value that he
set upon his predecessor's good-will.

"That's how I missed it," he thought. This was nothing less than an
admission that he had been on the look-out for possible bearers of that
curious name. Stung, he moved on, but turned inexplicably after a moment
to survey the house again. As he did so, the curtain of a window above
the shop was drawn with a brisk clash of wooden rings. He knew why, and
stood his ground, looking up. The curtain did not budge again.
Nevertheless, putting his uninjured hand to his hat he swept it off, and
felt the sun's full weight on his forehead for five seconds or so.
Passers-by observed him. He stared them down, resumed his hat, cocked it
as well as its width would allow, and strolled on.



(vi)


The picture composed in the withdrawing-room of the house in
Woolloomooloo came within no catalogue description; it was not a
conversation piece, nor a genre picture, nor wholly an interior, for two
wide windows stood open on to the bay, and the fires of the blacks' camp
could be seen from them. Two personages held the eye. One was a woman
sewing, holding a thick white sock, manipulating her needle awkwardly,
drawing too long a thread right and left to make the web; the lamplight,
flaring and drooping, gave her figure primary value. The other, sprawled
out of the lamp's range, was that of a man in dark trousers and jacket,
bulky, motionless. Hands slid into pockets, slippered feet crossed, he
sat still, for sole occupation eyeing the go and come of his wife's arm,
into the light and out. A clock, of which both were unconscious, assumed
the role of a third individual; one who betrays secrets he is never told.

Although in the room no one spoke, unless the clock's monotone might
count as a voice, sounds enough entered, each carrying its implication.
From the bay came the grating of wood upon sand as a boat was drawn up
for the night. The blacks sang like dogs round their fire, drawing great
breaths, launching a high note, and dwindling down the scale as their
wind failed.

_Morruda, yerraba, tundy kin arra
Morruda, yerraba, min yin guiny wite mala.[*]_

[* The white man walks on the road in shoes,
His feet-fingers are no use to climb trees.]

Their curs howled with them. Frogs protested. Nearer, the voices of women
in the kitchen never ceased, and upon the path that ran below the window
footsteps moved with regular beat; Mr. Secretary taking half an hour's
exercise after a long day at his desk.

"I am sorry, Sam, that the dinner was not good. I have not Charles's
knack with the women. They are insolent and lazy, and I can't be at the
trouble of perpetually scolding and teaching."

"I'm not grumbling."

"You never grumble."

Silence again, and the clock's insistence: time--time; going--going;
gone--sirs; gone--sirs; gone.

"I wish Charles would come home. I am so greatly concerned to know what
has happened, the Governor's plan for him. Sam--" the hand ceased its
weaving--"you must help me persuade him."

"It's his business."

"You brought him to this house. You owe him, we both owe him very much."
A restless movement came from the figure outside the lamp's circle. She
resumed her darning and spoke while appearing to give the sock entire
attention:

"I have thought sometimes lately that you might be glad if his visit were
to come to an end. Was I right, is that true? No, do not answer, I know
words make you uneasy. But perhaps it would be better if he were to go."

"Let him stay if you want him."

"Sam, sometimes I wish you would or could be a little more open. I never
know what you are thinking and planning. It is my own fault, do not
suppose I blame you, it is I who have failed. I have been the worst wife
any man ever had--"

"Stow that. None of that."

"No, but I want you to understand that I know what I have done. I have
come to know it, and--let me say it, let us clear the air as far as we
can. I am very sorry."

"What have you done?" She looked towards his chair, saw him coming
towards her, and held a hand to him.

"You know how I have failed you. Publicly shamed you--that dinner-party,
I cannot remember, but I do not forget it. It was not the first time. But
it shall be different now. I think I have the strength now." She spoke
slowly, gazing at her shiny halted needle. "Sam, do you remember what you
told me once, how you looked through the window when my father and I were
at dinner? You were riding that tall mare, Pope Joan; you could not have
seen, otherwise. That was the beginning. How far it has led us!" He was
standing by her; she put her hand on his thick arm, and heard, coming
back from memories, the clock chanting without emphasis its requiem for
time. "Both of us to this country, and you to fortune, and me to--I don't
know, I can't tell yet. Isn't it a strange thing, Sam, I see what I have
been doing as though some other person had done it. That is not the way
to change and become better, is it? Not to forget the past; one should
remember and be sorry, and build upon it. It was because I had not
courage to remember that this all happened, this wretched failure--"

He said nothing, responding in no way when suddenly she laid her cheek to
his sleeve. She began to laugh.

"I wish I could train you to talk. I have often wished the same thing
with a dog or a horse. What interesting different things they would have
to say, seeing us from their own standpoint as they do! I would sometimes
like to be able to make words I could understand out of the wuff-wuff you
bestow upon me now and then--"

As though in answer to this wish, going away from her and settling
suddenly in his chair again like a large dog lying down, he began:

"Milly's gone to some captain's wife."

"Milly! Did you see her, speak to her?"

"Not me. They were talking."

"Who, Sam? What did they say?"

"It's what she's been saying."

"About us?"

"Some of us."

"What does that mean?" Before he could answer she went on. "She
disapproved of Charles. I suppose some legends have been started. It will
give all the ladies something to talk of. They must be grateful." Flusky
continued to look at her, defenceless in her circle of light, from his
ambush in shadow. "Charles--I suppose they have made him out my lover.
How absurd it sounds! How--" A gesture of the hand, forsaking the silks
for an instant to lift and drop, showed better than words could do how
powerless over her heart, how preposterous was young Adare regarded as a
lover.

"Hush, what's that?"

They had both become accustomed to the secretary's pendulum swing on the
path below the window; the cessation of his steps served now as
interruption. They heard voices, one breathless, as of a man who had come
fast up the hill.

"You, Winter? I've been down there with Ketch and his pack. They stink
prodigious awful. 'However, the poor jackals are less foul (as being the
brave lion's keen providers) than human insects, catering for spiders.'"

"I don't know that--sir."

"Byron. I'll lend it you. You can't speak their lingo, can you? Ketch and
Company? Never mind. Is anybody up still? There's a light."

The two in the room heard his steps mounting quickly, then an interim of
quiet while they crossed grass, then sounding again on the verandah
boards. Adare stood at the window, arms stretched wide to support him as
he leaned in.

"Domestic peace, salute! Here I come, fresh from Government House. There
is a kind of tickling on my shoulders as if epaulettes were growing
there. I'm thirsty. Why don't we all have some tea?"

Lady Henrietta nodded towards the bell, Flusky from his ambush observing
her face. It was frankly welcoming, the mouth was parted, the eyes bright
as a smile half-closed them. Before Adare could reach the bell, Flusky,
stretching out an arm over the back of his chair, gave the rope a tug,
and they heard a jangling in the kitchen which produced but a momentary
effect upon the conversation there.

"That won't get so much as a stir out of them, let alone wet the tea,"
said Adare.

He turned, and in the darkness ran along the verandah to where the
kitchen-window opened, round a corner. They heard a sudden silence from
the women, then a whoop of laughter.

"Sam, what precisely is it that Milly has been saying? I laughed, but it
is dangerous, perhaps, to let it go on."

"That's right," Flusky agreed soberly.

"Is there anything we can do?"

"Plenty."

"Will you look to it? You are more in touch, more able to deal with such
matters than I."

"I'll look to it."

She gave him a little nod of thanks before she began to fold her wools,
and they waited silently for the tea. It came, heralded by voices in
dispute.

"I never give a civil word to a man at the back door in my life."

"There's plenty of other things you can give to men at back doors."

"Never, don't I tell you! I'm a good girl."

"No doubt of it. Give us a sermon next Sunday."

"You want Miss Milly for that. Sermon! She'd ha' lined her kickseys with
hymn-books."

"Pretty thought. Now be off to the back door again. Give me the tray;
sell your virtue dear. Don't take a farthing less than sixpence, as you
value my regard."

Adare appeared with the tray. He set it down, and stood negligently
pouring the tea, talking the while.

"I begin to depend upon this national drink. Do you observe, in the
generation growing up, a yellowish tinge of countenance? In China they
are yellow, too, for the same cause. But we absorb beakers where they
swallow thimblefuls. We shall be mahogany in two generations, while they
can never advance beyond a paltry lemon. Observe, I say 'we.' That is
because I am now finally resolved to leave my bones here, after I have
done with them. Is this how you like your cup?"

She said as she accepted it, lively eagerness and interest in her voice:

"How went your dinner-party?"

"Fortescue--I told you about Fortescue?--was there. (Flusky, you take
sugar, I think?) We did not agree. His Excellency my sixth cousin made
the mistake of telling each one of us beforehand what a fine fellow was
the other. Result: detestation immediate and irrevocable."

"No expedition, then?"

"Oh, yes. Certainly an expedition, if I can raise the money. But not with
Mr. Fortescue. What do you say to gold?"

Lady Henrietta, looking up startled at that word, saw her husband's
steady eyes fixed on the young man. Her lamp had been moved to make room
for the tea-tray, it no longer allowed him his hiding-place of shadow,
and she could read very well the expression which showed for an instant
and was gone.

"Gold! Not with Ketch, Charles. Not that gold--"

"And why not, my dear? If, as I said, I can raise the money. Not much;
but we want equipment. Shall we say, a hundred pounds?"

He looked at Flusky, as did she. They talked to each other, but Flusky
with his silence was calling the tune. He spoke after a little.

"How much?"

"Blessed words!" Mr. Adare set down his teacup. "Does that mean you'll
help? I knew it. You're the King-Emperor of good fellows, Flusky."

Lady Henrietta on impulse, on the memory of that single second's glimpse,
cried out:

"Sam, no! Don't offer, don't give it him."

Adare turned in genuine surprise.

"What's this? Who's been at me this past month to do something with
myself? What's the matter?" "If you go with the Governor's man, yes."

"My dear, here's a great to-do you're making. Where's the difference
between going after gold we have proof of and going after some tomfool
river that may not exist?"

"If you go with Ketch," said she slowly, as though in fact she saw events
unrolling before her fixed eyes, "he will lead you where he chooses, and
leave you to die, walking in a circle in the bush. Then he will plunder
your clothes and weapons, and disappear. That is what it is intended
should happen."

"Listen." Adare was sensitive to her distress. "I'm not going alone.
Listen quietly. There was a fellow there this evening from the Survey
Office. Thomson is his name. He detested Fortescue as much as I did.
(Priggish, self-satisfied, counter-jumper!) We walked home here in the
cool. Thomson is no fool, he is a geologist by nature, and he performs to
perfection those mysteries with rods, poles and perches which are Greek
to me. In addition he can read--say, rather, he is aware that books
exist, and are of a heavenly uselessness. Mr. Fortescue, on the other
hand, supposes that books are things kept by double entry, which serve
purposes in lawyers' dens. Thomson, like his namesake of the Seasons, is
all for binding the nations in a golden chain. At the close of our walk I
took him to see Ketch's necklace. He pronounces it gold."

"It is, it is gold," she said, beating her hands together. "That is the
bait in the trap."

"Trap?" He turned, following the direction of eyes, to view Husky,
sprawled in his chair. The big man was smiling. Now, paying no attention
to .e emotional atmosphere, he repeated his question:

"How much is wanted? How much did you reckon?"

"Two hundred apiece for equipment and food. I like a hundred of my own
left. Will you lend me the t? And take half my share in anything we find.
I hope for your sake, we'll be lucky."

Lady Henrietta came across the room and dropped her knees at her
husband's side. The movement, wholly impulsive, yet had some too dramatic
quality due to her height and the sweep of her dress.

"Sam, don't lend this money. I am asking you something with my whole
heart."

Adare lightly clapped his hands and went to lift her. "Bravo! Now for the
husband's curse, and the snowstorm of paper."

She resisted the pressure of his hand on her arm, insisting, eyes on her
husband's face:

"Sam, I am asking you not to do this. Because of what I now know; I beg
you; I will do anything you want."

Flusky patted her shoulder and rose, with a good-humoured nod to Adare
over her head.

"Looks to me you haven't got a right notion." His voice was reasonable,
kind. "You talk as if I wanted this young fool to go off after gold. I've
told him it's not healthy; I'm sick of talking." He pulled her to her
feet, and a slow shake of the head responded to her pleading. "You got to
do me justice. I done what I could. I told him not to heed Ketch. You
take me up wrong. I say it now, I'll say it as often as you like; Ketch
is a liar, this gold's more danger than it's worth. He knows that. What
more can I do?"

"You see," said Adare, gently adding his persuasion, "I'm only twenty,
Hattie. I don't want to settle down to ploughing yet awhile. This is a
new country, what's a new country for? Not to sit--no offence, sweet
lady--in a woman's pocket. Wait till I bring back nuggets, a beautiful
necklace like the one Ketch is wearing--"

"You fool !" said she furiously.

"Hattie! What's come to you?"

Flusky said nothing. He faced the two with a masculine calm that made her
agony, expressed as it was in sudden sound and fury, appear a tale told
by an idiot. Adare looked from one to the other, mystified. An
explanation occurred to him. He lifted, simultaneously, his elbow a
little and his eyebrows; Flusky gave a short nod. But she, from the
corner of her eye, caught the interchange.

"Charles, no! Not that. I've not been drinking."

"All right, my dear. Sober as a judge. As a whole bench of judges. Of
course you are."

The tone, humouring, tender, lent a last irony to her despair. She took a
stride forward, tearing her dress; one hand went to her forehead,
clutching and loosening the hair.

"Dear." It was the young man's voice at her side. "It's late. Won't you
go up to bed? Don't be angry, Hattie."

"Is it no use, then, fighting? Can nothing ever be changed? No hope?"

This was spoken to herself, so softly that the men could take no meaning
from the movement of her lips. She opened her eyes. Both were looking at
her, and the same expression arrayed both faces; the tolerant masculine
look, making allowance for creatures whose balance is less sure, whose
emotions are gales which no barometer announces. She ran away from that
look with a cry not articulate; ran blindly out of the room.



(vii)


Lady Henrietta, sitting alone in her drawing-room in the evening, held a
roundel of canvas on her lap at which she did not look. It was the rustic
design upon which her fingers had first re-learned industry, Chloe with
her flock. Of this last, two sheep remained to be clad in French knots,
the grass of the hillock awaited its green, and Chloe's crook its
ribbons. She had begun to take up this canvas daily, at the same hour,
and to sit with it on her knee. She did not draw the needle through the
squares, but threaded it carelessly with any coloured silk that came
first to hand, and waited. The hope possessed her that by setting out the
inessentials of past magic, she might somehow stir into life the heart of
the spell. Her memory found record of an ancestress, Dame Agnes, the
Irish witch that diddled a bishop, waiting at cross-roads to command
spirits, a peacock's feather held in her left hand. With just such
imperative patience Flusky's wife waited, tormented with echoes.

"I'm no more in love with you than with Britannia on the penny."

The words would not take body, they remained echoes only. The voice that
had spoken them was sounding--where?

She abandoned her passive conjuration, let the silks tumble, and began to
walk the room haphazard. It was late afternoon, rainy, with a wind that
made lugubrious music in he-oaks and pepper-trees. The fishermen's boats
were drawn up; their nets lifted on poles resembled what she had read of
the black tents of wandering Arabs, in Lady Hester Stanhope's life. "Lady
Hattie Flusky in Australia Felix." It was the echo again, recurring to
plague her; though she could not recollect when the phrase had been
uttered, she knew it for his. She looked away from the nets towards the
patch of rocks against which Ketch and his company were used to sleep,
under piled slabs of bark. The blacks had quitted the place in a body
some days after Ketch, with the two young men, had set out northwards.
They gave no warning of their movements, but came and went with the
unanimity of a flock of cockatoos, according as rumours reached them of
plentiful food, or girls ripe to be wives, among those whom they
contemptuously called the myalls, wild fellows, living beyond the white
man's pastures.

Lady Henrietta, looking now at the patch of rocks which was their
habitual rallying-place, perceived a thin and very blue smoke beginning
to drift out from it; smoke which towered, then mushroomed, dispersing
over the bay. She put her hand with an unthinkingly dramatic gesture to
her heart, and watched, quite still, that smoke which was the black man's
roof-tree, his standard, and the symbol of his dominion over the beasts.
She could see no figures moving, the wind blew away from her any sound of
voices there might be.

She opened the window, then, as the air struck cold, ran back into the
room to pick up a wallaby skin from the floor. This she held about her
shoulders, and, careless for her hair, went down the steps into the rain.

She reached the bottom of the hill and went rapidly on towards the smoke,
of which a sweet medicinal gust blew her way now and then, until she
could hear voices on the wind.

Their confusion grew louder; as at a signal, stopped. The blacks had seen
her.

They were accustomed to the white men's gins, riding through streets,
flowers unknown blooming upon their heads, sometimes with gleaming
windows fixed upon their faces, to each eye one. These gins when they set
foot to ground walked out-toed; they held the arms of men as a precaution
against being suddenly struck and carried off; they carried no burdens,
and were greeted with bare heads in the sun. Priestesses all, therefore,
feeding without labour, eternally dressed and painted for corroborree.

This lubra with the wallaby skin upon her shoulders, her head bare and
the colour of that ochre used in hidden valleys to paint their sacred
stones, was not of the everyday order of priestesses, they concluded.
They looked at her, and as she with questioning glances caught their
eyes, shyly turned from her. She began to speak, gesturing between the
words:

"You know Ketch?" They looked vacant; she drew with a forefinger on her
breast the shape of Ketch's half-moon of brass. They turned from one to
the other, and a man said something rapidly. "Ketch, a chief, went away
with two other men, white men--" She stooped to the fire, picked up a
charred black twig and held it up, two of her own white fingers beside
it. Her fingers began to walk in the air, and the twig kept them company.
The people laughed at this pantomime, but showed no sign that they took
its meaning. "To look for gold--" She tapped the ring on her marriage
finger with the twig--"One was young with a round face. Where have they
gone? Have you seen?" And she repeated the airy pilgrimage of the stick
and the fingers. "Charles--Have you heard that name spoken?" She
recollected the curious preference of men for surnames. "Adare, Adare,
Thomson, do you know that? Ketch; you must know that. You must know
something, wretched people!"

They laughed politely at the white lubra's earnestness, all part of the
play which she was, for some reason unguessed by them, enacting for them
in the rain. Then the oldest man, coming forward, touched the wallaby
skin, saying the only words of English that had ever done him any good:

"You gib it?"

She spoke again, encouraged by this, and pulled the skin willingly from
her shoulders. He took it with satisfaction as a gift, not understanding
that she offered it in payment for information. It was soft, beautifully
tanned; he bent it in his fingers, appreciating the absence of crackle,
and looked with wonder at her urgent eyes still questioning him.

"Well? Tell me. Adare. Ketch. Alive? Dead?"

At a loss for a gesture to express the difference, she dipped her twig at
the fire till it lighted, and holding it up before her mouth repeated the
word:

"Alive?"

They watched. She took a breath, blew. The flame vanished, and a brief
trail of sparks fled from her hand. When the twig was black again, once
more she held it up.

"Dead?"

They watched as before. They understood nothing, and the old man was
walking away with his treasure, paying no further heed to her. She flung
out her hands.

"People, have you seen nothing? These men, two white men--nothing?
Ketch?"

They watched, interested, as she flung back her head, imploring their
secret. They admired and valued her; they were glad to have had her
declare these mysteries to them alone, no white person near. When she
turned away at last they regretted her going, and called two or three
civilities after her, but she paid no heed, scrambling over rocks made
shiny by the skid of marsupials' feet.

When she came to the top of the path she stood, for the first time
allowing herself to take the full weight of her misery. Exiled from both
her worlds, murderer of a brother, bereft by the man she loved of the man
who had restored her to some intelligence of life: was not this sorrow?
At the word came the echo of a young voice, its natural lightness
deliberately clouded, reading aloud:

"Sweetest sorrow...
I thought to leave thee,
And deceive thee,
But now of all the world
I love thee best."

And that, she remembered, was a verse of the poet, the little apothecary,
who had died at twenty-seven. She, at twenty-seven, had been seduced, had
killed, had gone for ever from her home, but life held promise, and she
would not willingly then have left it. Now only her flesh was reluctant.

She went up the steps, and lightly along the verandah to the dining-room,
whose window stood open. Locked, the cupboard door? It should have been,
for the women were thievish as monkeys, but as she put her hand to it she
felt it obey her. Next moment she screamed.

The Maori head was there, leaning horribly upon the decanter labelled
Brandy. She had laid her hand upon its sparse harsh hair, blond from the
action of embalming spices. The decanter could not be moved without
somehow touching this sentinel. She rubbed her hands upon the wet breast
of her dress, but the sensation of touch had been shocked, she could not
so easily rid herself of recollection. As she frantically sought to scour
the sensation away, the door opened behind her.

"What's doing?" said her husband's voice.

He came towards her, saw the head still on guard, and looked at her long.
She muttered that she was ill, felt faint--He nodded, carelessly lifted
up the head by its hair, and poured out a little spirit, which he held to
her.

"The other hand, the other hand!"

It was his right hand, with which he had lifted the head, that held the
glass. He smiled slightly, and changed this to the left.

Even so, she could not bring herself to take the glass, not for horror of
the head, but because for ten years and more she had never drunk spirits
save alone. Even the cajolery of Adare had not been able to prevail over
that habit. She said now, irrelevantly:

"This room is very dusty. I wish Milly were back. Why do you not bury
that frightful thing?"

He did not answer; his silence made her aware of his reason, and she
spoke it aloud.

"To frighten me. To stop me. Sam--oh, God, can you never take the direct
way? Can you never speak and say, I will not have this or that? Forbid
me, oblige me to do what you would have done. Don't go silently to make
me afraid--"

Mournfully, seeking comfort, she looked in his face, and saw starting at
the corner of each eye a tear. He said: "I have to do the way I can."

"Sam, come here to me." He came, shambling, head down for shame of the
tears. She caught him to her. "Sam, you know I am yours."

He said, not putting his arms about her, standing like an animal,
forehead dropped upon her shoulder:

"Once."

"Still."

He shook his head, rolling it on the wet stuff of her dress. The movement
might have been a negation, it might have been contrived to clear his
eyes of tears.

"But that's not enough. There are twenty-four hours in a day."

She stood away from him, hands on his shoulders.

"Will you tell me the truth? I know words trouble you, I'll ask only for
a yes or no. We are near now; nearer than we have been for a very long
time. Let us use the moment. Will you?" He nodded. "You were jealous of
Charles."

It was a statement, but he answered as though it had been a question,
with the affirmative of his peasant blood.

"Ay."

"Did you think I had been unfaithful?"

The man said, speaking painfully and very low: "Not in your bed."

"How then?"

He had not the phrase for that. She had to make what she could of a dozen
words.

"Always talking and you've kept off the stuff--got back your looks. The
house, too--ordering the dinner."

"Sam, was it you took a little paper from my work-box? A silly thing,
with a list of duties written down?"

"What for did you want to keep it?" She accepted this at its true value:
Duties Domestic, Duties Social, destroyed by jealousy, gone. "Him,
ordering you about."

"It meant nothing."

"I owed him for that."

She understood that half-statement, too. Where Flusky owed, he paid. The
wages of sin--but why should the wages of gaiety, folly, and youth be
equalled with these?

"Charles has gone to his death." She contemplated the fact; he did not
deny it. "Through you, as my brother died through me. We struck both for
the same reason, to possess each other wholly, to let nobody come
between. Sam--" she held his left hand to her face--"we're so unhappy,
we've brought so much unhappiness about. What good has it done to anyone,
our having loved?"

He put both his arms round her at that and clasped with all his strength.
The embrace begged her to unsay what she had said; to murmur, in the
small voice that like her body was his only, a confession of faith in
their need of each other. She could not; nor could he ask in words. He
let her go, fetched a brief sigh, and went out of the room. She stood,
fingers twisting together. The glass of brandy which she had refused
stood on the table a foot away. She emptied it quickly; poured another
from the decanter, now deprived of its warder, and drank that. Then,
holding the decanter with a fold of her skirt clutched over it, she
departed along the verandah, taking care to walk without noise, and
looking sidelong to see that there was nobody about in the paths to
observe her.




BOOK III.



Now I will set forth a _Parable_, or (not to be Prophane) a _Ridle_. What
is that which by giuing encreaseth? One may say, an _Usurer_, one a
_Bellows_: a third may make bawdy answer. Not to teize further such
ingenious Diuiners I will say, A woman. And not her bodie, for that may
fructifie by force, but her immortal part. What of her own Motion she
giueth quickeneth, that which she bath of another to give, like a Child's
groat of _Sundays_, profiteth not. From her owne Entraills must she
endow, bestowe, and spinne out Contentment...

--_A Limbo For Ladies._


Standing before the map on the end wall of his room, Flusky erased from
it features which had been provisionally marked; Captain Forbes'
apocryphal stream, Kindur, the plains Babyran, the burning mountain,
Kourada. All these first took shape in the imagination of an escaped
convict, who thus endeavoured to lend his breakaway some glamour of
exploration; now an expedition had disproved their existence,
substituting barren words, Scrub Country, Swamp Country, for the
life-giving River Flats. Flusky erased with reluctance, repelling
symbolically one more raid upon the white spaces of the map. The
attackers had mastered no key position, but only one more of the eternal
escarpments by which the country's secret life was defended.

"Ought to be having news of Dixon's expedition soon," said he to console
himself. "He's been gone nigh on half a year."

Winter answered, looking up from neat papers:

"No doubt, sir." He added, hesitating: "Of Mr. Adare, too."

Flusky received that with one of his silences. The secretary went on, in
a voice louder than he intended, because the words were forced out by his
will: "Excuse me, sir. Can something not be done, a search-party be sent
out? If we could have some assurance of his safety, I think her
ladyship--"

He stopped. Flusky eyed him, bringing his look and his will to bear as a
wrestler uses a grip. When the secretary's face was colourless, he spoke:

"Adare's his Ex's cousin. It's for the Governor to move."

He returned to the map. There was silence for a couple of minutes until
the secretary once again took courage to address the broad back. It was a
new subject, but one hardly less dangerous.

"Sir, is it necessary that I should answer this letter? I have no right
to say it, perhaps, I am convinced from--my own observation--" he left
Mr. Adare out this time, a measure of precaution--"that this woman is
mischievous. It is not my affair. But from what I have gathered, and for
her ladyship's sake--"

This time Flusky made interruption in words, catching, as was not unusual
with him, at the name which had not been spoken.

"You bloody gentlemen! Your observation, what you have gathered, you and
Mr. Adare. Where's this letter?"

Winter handed it, one sheet of paper, written in a hand angular yet
unformed.

"Mr. Samson Flusky, Sir, Hearing that there is now no just cause or
impediment, and being disengaged, beg to offer myself for the position
given up in March last. Will be glad of an answer by return owing to many
applications and oblige your respectful humble servant, Milly."

Flusky read it to himself, mouthing one or two of the words soundlessly
as he spelled them. When the secretary judged that he had finished he
began to make an appeal, hardly audible, which Flusky checked.

"Stow the patter."

"No," the secretary answered, beginning to tremble like a man walking to
the triangles. "No. I must not be silent. Lady Henrietta is not yet
overcome. She is fighting her horrible weakness gallantly--Sir, if you
bring this woman back it will be the end, indeed it will. Milly procured
her the means of--" He broke off, with an inadequate gesture.

"What's that? Adare said that, you've parroted it from him."

"No, sir--though he did speak of it to me."

Flusky made a contemptuous sound.

"I go bail he did. What's the idea, Milly getting the stuff for her?
What's Milly get out of it?"

"I don't know," the secretary answered, "I don't know, but I do beg you
to believe, sir--" Despairingly, flinging himself at the danger in that
impassive face, he cried out: "What do I get out of it, come to that?
Won't you understand that if I speak like this it's because I can't bear
to see a woman, a lady--"

Flusky's gesture checked him, a doubling and withdrawing of the fist. His
eyelids trembled, but he stood, gamely enough, to take the blow. Flusky
unclenched his hand.

"You talk too much. It's the same with all of you gentlemen, you like the
sound of your own voices. Talking shops; that's your fine schools. No
good out here. By Cripes, I wish somebody'd tell me what's the good of
gentlemen."

The secretary did not answer that. Flusky threw at him Milly's letter,
which dropped on the floor between them.

"Write Milly she can come."

The secretary came forward to pick it up, observing as he stooped that
his employer was at a drawer where employment and assignment forms were
kept. He stood with the woman's letter in his fingers, quite still, like
an animal threatened with the last danger. Flusky observed him not at
all, investigating the papers with a thumb. When he had found the one he
sought he sat down, and began laboriously to fill it in.


WILLIAM WINTER

Form of Application for the Return of Male Convicts.

To the Magistrate for the district of _Sydney_.

I have to request that the convict named in the margin
now in my assigned service, may be returned to government,
because:

_he object to take orders and not trustworthy in house._

I have the honor to be,

Sir,

Your most obedient Servant.

Signature of assignee or his Overseer} _Samson Flusky._


When he had completed the formula he looked up. Winter still stood, and
was very white; his imagination travailed with the unknown, conjecturing
what punishment this defiance might bring. He had no words. His throat
was dry with the beating of pulses in it, and a sick twist of his mind
translated those pulse-throbs to a beating of hammers on the road, a
rhythm of whips descending. He dropped his head and waited.

"Get on with your screeve."

William Winter sat down and dipped his pen. His writing, neat from much
recording of Latin verse, bent to feminine curves from much copying of
Greek, informed a Nonconformist cook in polished phrases that she might,
so soon as suited her convenience, enter again upon her duties at the
house in Woolloomooloo. Flusky watched with curiosity the fluent words
appearing, folding Form F meanwhile into a square which he put in his
pocket.

"I won't send this off yet. All the same, Mister Winter--"

The secretary looked up, a passion of relief in his eyes, and half-rose.

"Sir."

"Don't use your nose so much. Stick to your pen."

He went away. The secretary, in whose mind, a city stricken with panic,
no discipline now reigned, laid his forehead on the wet paper while
phrases beset him. Nose as sharp as a pen--than a serpent's tooth--thy
sting is not so sharp as friends remembered not, friends defended not;
not so sharp as the iron of a coward's own fear entering his soul.



(ii)


Encountering Lady Henrietta by chance that same evening, the secretary
told her hurriedly what had been determined, noting with unhappy eyes
that her gait had taken on something of its old swiftness; a gait like
that of a very young child, pressing forward in pursuit of its own centre
of gravity. She heard his announcement with that old too gracious
inclination of the head, but said nothing. He persisted:

"It cannot be agreeable to you, madam, I know. I thought it might be less
shocking--that you might be better prepared if you knew to expect it. I
spoke against it so far as my capacity allowed."

She said, smiling and swaying:

"Good of you, Mr. Winter. Obliged to you. Mistaken, though. You were
mistaken. I have no objection to see Milly back. No longer any
objection."

He bowed and could say no more. She did not, however, depart at once.
Looking about her, she beckoned him closer.

"Tell me. No news?"

He understood that she spoke of Adare, and answered that so far as he
knew there was none. She nodded as though this were what she had expected
to hear. He went on, despite a pang of terror which took him at the
thought of Flusky, and Form F lying folded in Husky's pocket:

"But, madam, don't give up hope. In this country--at this time of year,
men don't starve. He's making history, perhaps. Five months is not long."

"I know," she answered, as if at random. "He won't come back, though."

She went away along the corridor dirty still with the dust of a storm
that had blown two days ago. The women neglected their work; Winter could
not deny it, nor that there was waste, food spoilt, disorder everywhere.
His common sense could not blame Flusky for wishing to make an end to
such a state of affairs.

Two days later, in a spring cart with three neat small boxes stowed
behind the seat, Miss Milly arrived.

She found the household sullen. Having learned, by some keyhole method of
their own, that the tyrant was due to reappear, the women had taken their
last opportunity. By pledging kitchen implements they had obtained a
sufficiency of liquor from the fishermen, and in company with their
benefactors caroused till a late hour. Towards two o'clock the secretary,
tumbling out of bed, had gone downstairs to quell an outburst of noise,
and found the wives from the huts engaged in fighting the female servants
with fists, skewers and buckets. Being sober and having right on their
side they had soon overcome resistance, and marched their husbands off,
swearing and singing, to legitimate beds.

But the kitchen betrayed signs of conflict, a splash of blood here, a
plate smashed there, and the tin lid of the fish-kettle, which had been
used as a shield, was crumpled like a piece of paper. Amid this disorder
the three women slept, and woke unwillingly when the sun already was high
to find Miss Milly, bonneted, hands on hips, standing in the doorway.

It was her hour. Scorpions lodged in her tongue, her hand was lifted, she
overrode protests as an armed man in his chariot. Old Sal, by virtue of
her seniority, and having a better capacity than her juniors to hold and
recover from liquor, ventured upon an exchange of abuse. She told the
newcomer that the Almighty might like a nose,[*] and have chosen the Jews
for his own people on that account, but that she, Sal, could never feel
aught but contempt for one. That if there was a thing she could not
endure it was a needling,[**] nailing,[***] manchester-wagger,[****] the
mere view of whose mug was enough to knap the devil the glim.[*****] Miss
Milly heard Sal out, folding her lips in upon each other; then without
any words struck the old woman on the head with a long basting spoon. She
added with a kind of humour, as blood started up along the cut:

"I'm ready for the devil, I'd have you know."

[* Nose=spy or informer.]

[** Needling=swindling.]

[*** Nailing.=over-reaching.]

[**** Manchester-wagger=the tongue.]

[***** Knap the glim=take venereal disease.]

When she had set the rhythm of the kitchen going--it started with
surprisingly little trouble, like a good old clock rewound and set--she
went over the rest of the house, noting ravages. It was not only a
question of dust. Curtains hung crookedly, with here and there a tear
unmended. From furniture in the drawing-room scraps of veneer had been
knocked with the broom-head. The beds showed signs of slovenly making,
and under them flue lay flaked. She remade the bed in Flusky's room,
noting with jealous care an unfamiliar clumsy darn at the back of a sock
thrown beneath it. When this room was neat as she could make it she went
along the passage and knocked, walking in before there could be any
answer.

Lady Henrietta was asleep, though the sun was over her forehead and
beginning to shine upon her eyes. This room too was in disorder; Miss
Milly, however, had no care for the room. She stood looking at the big
woman whose hair strayed to cover her pillow, whose face had grown
thinner and clearer in the months since Milly departed. The eyes were
hollow, blue-lidded, beautifully framed by their bones. The mouth even in
sleep was red. Miss Milly marvelled at this renewal of beauty, hated it,
and regarded the bottle upon the table with satisfaction, smelling it for
better assurance that it was the right stuff, the wrong stuff, the stuff
to do the trick. "Milly!" She turned, quick as a cat, and slid the bottle
down with a hand behind her. Lady Henrietta was awake, gazing at her
without surprise.

"It's me all right," the righteous woman answered, disconcerted.

"Ain't you getting up?" She added, maliciously: "you're not looking any
too well. Any news of Mister Adare?"

"He is dead. We are back where we started from."

The woman could make nothing of that last sentence. She answered the
first.

"And there's fools don't believe in a judgment!"

"Milly, if you please. Will you take over the ordering of the house as
you did before?"

"It's time someone took over. Dirt everywhere, those women selling the
very saucepans off the stove for drink and their other games."

"There is some money, I think, in the purse there. Will you take it?"

"I never have and I never will. There's one thing, though, if I'm to take
over. The keys."

Lady Henrietta put a hand under her pillow and pulled out the keys on
their ribbon, no longer smooth, no longer the colour of an Irish lawn.
Miss Milly took them with a disdainful look, and at once untied the
ribbon, picking at it viciously with her strong blunt fingers. Holding
one finger hitched through the steel ring she swung them, making them
jangle like miniature bells for a victory. Her voice was milder when she
spoke again.

"You don't need move for dinner. Bed's more easeful when you're not
yourself."

"You're kind," Lady Henrietta answered, astonishing the woman by the
sincerity in her voice. Easeful; that word came as an echo too. "So very
kind."

"I do my duty," Miss Milly answered, folding the grass-green ribbon
carefully to put it away, "or so I hope."



(iii)


Said Mr. Samson Flusky to his secretary, between such pauses as his cigar
demanded:

"A letter to the Governor. Put in all the flourishes. Here's what I want
said: Government at home don't send out the men we want here. You can't
expect it. A sign-painter, say, commits a felony, he's got to be
transported same as if he was a useful man. Gentlemen, too, that can't do
a hand's turn beyond shove a pen. What's wanted isn't Grammar Schools, or
places like this King's School, as they call it; a lot of kids dressed up
in uniform to learn Greek. It's schools for teaching trades this country
wants. I'm ready to back my words. I'll give the land, and build the
school, tell him, if so he'll agree to it. That's the lot. His obedient
humble servant, and I'll sign."

The secretary, without replying, chose a sheet of finer paper, trimmed
his pen carefully, and bent over the desk.

"Make it plain. A school for men to learn to use their hands. I don't
give two chats[*] for Latin and poetry. Wait; say they'll be taught to
cipher. That's got some sense to it, too. Learn 'em to keep an eye on
their money when they make it. Poetry--"

[* Chats =lice.]

He made a contemptuous sound at the thought of that. Winter bent lower,
teeth caught upon his lip; aware of himself, not for the first time, as
the whipping boy of Mr. Charles Adare.



(iv)


Order was returning to the house called Why Are You Weeping? The
fishermen came of a morning bearing samples of their catch strung on
reeds: mullet, garfish, and bream, and departed discreetly. The blacks
drifted no further than the kitchen door, and there were fobbed off with
valueless articles, corks, candle-ends, and string, instead of bread or
meat. Flo, indignant at being cast down from her consequence as cook,
rebelled and went, under the irrevocable direction of Form F, back to
Government. A young woman replaced her for whom Miss Milly took almost an
affection; a cheesemonger's widow, cleanly, methodical, whose shop had
been the meeting-place for certain too noisy partisans of Reform. Old Sal
subsided into a Sunday-school sobriety of language. Tradesmen's bills
went down. The trays which mounted to Lady Henrietta's room were models
of what invalid trays should be.

The house, as it adjusted itself to this outward rule, as its corridors
began to shine again and its windows to be neat, resumed the mysterious
inner life which had found symbolic statement in its name. The silence
that held by day, by night was broken. Once, as in early days, the
secretary met his employer's wife wide-eyed on the stairs. He spoke
respectfully to her. She looked at him, frowning, shaking her head in an
endeavour to focus vision; steadied herself and sighed:

"Pray for me. No. No, couldn't have that, don't think of it. Pray--pray
excuse. What I meant."

He answered, as though gentling a frightened animal:

"Won't you let me give you my arm back to your room?"

"Must think of Sam," she said gravely. "Mustn't trouble Sam. I assure
you, assure you--" very earnestly--"he's my only thought and care."

She swayed, pursing her mouth, and again looking intently at him.

"Forgotten how it goes. Easeful--something. It torments me." Suddenly
clapping her hands to her ears, she cried out: "It torments me, oh, oh!
Always echoes, voices. Hurts to think--drink. Mustn't say that. Mustn't
drink it--think it, on any account. Tell me the words, the verse."

William Winter, at a loss, recollected suddenly a book lent him by Mr.
Adare.

"I can't quite tell what you may be thinking of. Is it a line of John
Keats, perhaps?"

Face strained to attention and thrust forward, she had the very poise and
stillness of a ship's figurehead, and for an instant he saw her
transformed to one, ploughing unknown waters.

"'I have been half in love with easeful Death.' Is that what you had in
mind?"

She smiled wonderfully, the whole posture slackened, a hand was lifted to
drop heavily upon his shoulder. She nodded again and again, murmuring:

"Go on. Go on."

"I can't recollect. I'm sorry, madam."

He saw her look over her shoulder, heard some person coming towards the
stairs. He had a qualm of fear; it was not possible, however, to withdraw
from the hand on his shoulder, or change the posture in which, almost
like a lover, he stood looking up at her. It was Lady Henrietta who
abandoned him, turning and running unsteadily towards her room. The voice
of Miss Milly accosted him: "What did she want?"

"Lady Henrietta was asking--" But he could not reveal the matter of that
plaintive quest. "She was asking the time."

"What made her squeal? I heard it in the kitchen."

"I can't tell why she cried out."

Miss Milly was turning away when Winter came after her, suddenly stirred
out of prudence.

"But perhaps you can, perhaps you know."

She faced him, nostrils pinched with a quick drawing-in of breath.
"Another of Belial's sons! I do my work for God, and my work for Mr.
Flusky, and if there's no complaints from either of them, who are you,
I'd like to know? Look out for yourself, mister. The wicked may flourish,
but at the last they shall be cut down, and cast into the pit, and be
utterly consumed, Amen! You, indeed!" He took a step towards her. "You
touch me, you lag! Only touch me, that's all!"

"I am trying to pass you, to get to my work."

"About time you remembered your work. Speaking poetry to her--you did
ought to know what comes of that."

"You were listening?"

"Why not, pray? Was you talking so extremely private?" She became the
housekeeper arraigning an assigned servant, speaking with a condescension
which he found less easy to bear than her shrewishness. "Now you know
very well you got no call to be in this part of the house. Be off before
you get into trouble."

He went, telling himself that he had been a scholar of Magdalen, that the
crest on his ring had been borne by his family since Queen Elizabeth's
day, that these humiliations were of his own purchasing. None of the
considerations brought comfort. His thoughts were a rack, and where a
free man might have tired himself by action, a bondman had no way of
escape. He went to the room with the map, and standing under it felt envy
of Adare and those other men pressing forward upon its white spaces,
giving their everyday names to gullies and flats, suffering distresses
which, because free will commanded them, were easily borne. He hated
himself because he could not wholly control his indignation nor wholly
yield to it, because he was helpless, and because he was afraid.

The immediate task was to check household bills for the past month.
Mechanically he ranged upon his desk the ill-written books and the bills,
scraps of paper dirty with kitchen stains, speared upon a file. Beside
them he laid a paper on which Miss Milly had set down the moneys received
by her, and by her paid out during the course of the month. He checked
the books by the bills, comparing both with her statements. There was no
fault to be found, not a halfpenny which might not be counted to the
housekeeper for righteousness. He acknowledged to himself, when he had
done two or three of the accounts, that he had been looking for signs of
peculation, and that the hope had lent his work unusual interest. The
last bill was the wine merchant's, and this he scanned with particular
care. If the woman supplied Lady Henrietta, the woman must first obtain
the liquor. He therefore gave attention to each item on this bill, which
was not inconsiderable. He found only Madeira, claret, brandy in
authentic quantities. Some arrangement, his mind insisted, with the
merchant; gin disguised as one or other of these wines. Flusky kept the
cellar-book accessible in a drawer, though the cellar keys were about his
person. Winter searched it, comparing quantities paid for with quantities
entered. The dozens matched. He returned the book, folded the wine-bill,
and reluctantly made against Miss Milly's figures the V-shaped pencil
mark that approved her integrity.



(v)


Old Sal, seated on the verandah outside the kitchen and plucking a fowl
for table, discussed with her less respectable compeer the joys of London
life, where persons of the family[*] all knew each other and traded as
friends, where certain pretty skills of the hands were practised, where
money was free and manners easy. Old Sal herself had been a fence or
receiver; but in her younger days she boasted, tucking her petticoats up
to show a leg no longer shapely, that she had been the companion in
felony of James Hardy Vaux, most genteel of rascals. How she would cover
him she related, while he put down his forks, light as a bird, and
brought up handkerchiefs you could have sold to the Archbishop of
Canterbury; how he once gave her a ring that he had pinched, he told her,
off the little finger of one of the Newgate turnkeys; how he walked like
a swell, and talked like a clergyman, and never addressed her in public
save as "Sarah, dear love."

[* Thieves, and those connected in any way with thieving.]

Her companion listened doubtfully, recollecting no such days, skills,
attentions. She came from a small country town where she had been the
chief inn's chambermaid. Finding that her child's arrival coincided with
that of lord in a coach, she, not choosing to lose tips or time,
smothered the baby and went about her work. She was caught slipping out
at night to bury the small body, which had the top of an old stocking for
its winding-sheet. Her experiences lacked glamour, and for this reason
she was unable to believe in old Sal. How came so clever a trickster to
Botany Bay? And on a ten-year stretch, too.

But old Sal explained, loudly enough for the secretary to hear at his
desk round the corner, that these things were all a matter of luck. You
might be fly. You might be up in the stirrups and working well. But you
had no protection, she explained, against the dirty devices of traps.
These individuals would let a man alone, look the other way, until he
committed a crime he could be hanged for and how, asked old Sal of
heaven, could you tell until after you had lifted a montra[*] whether its
value was under the limit or over? £40 was the reward for bringing in a
man wanted on a hanging charge. So the traps--blast them!--would say: We
don't want him till he weighs his weight, forty pounds, see? This kind of
duplicity no man could guard against, and thus it was that the traps had
got their claws into James Hardy Vaux and herself.

[* A watch.]

The younger woman began a little pitiful story of some country
constable's astuteness, how he had identified a highwayman by a patch on
his boot. She spoke lower, and she was well within the room. The
secretary waited for Sal's voice.

It came soon, overcalling the other. The country was nothing, it was easy
as butter taking the stuff off countrymen. London was the place, plenty
of crowds, London was the place for clever fingers. They all said in
London that she, Sal, was as neat of her fingers as a man, more than one
had said that. And she dared swear even now with her rheumatics she could
lift the handkerchief out of Miss M.'s pocket, given half a chance,
except for that one keeping everything on a key; why, she wouldn't leave
open not so much as her bowels--

Laughter none too savoury ended the talk by the window. William Winter,
accepting instructions from his employer, related what he had heard to
what his own enquiry and imagination had discovered. The woman was
honest, odiously so; the meagre trunks that came back to the house with
her were evidence of this probity, the household books acquitted her. Yet
he could not give up an irrational conviction that this was the channel--

"Answer, can't you?"

"I beg your pardon, sir."

"Has that answer come yet from His Ex.?"

"This morning, yes, sir; by hand."

While Flusky slowly read the letter he could escape again to his own
thoughts. If the household books acquitted Milly, somewhere there must be
other evidence. She was methodical, the expenditure considerable, she
could not carry it all in her head--

"Are you hanging it on?[*] I'm talking."

[* Hanging it on=purposely delaying.]

"Yes, sir."

"Take an answer. I'll come and see him, say. Obedient, humble, and all
the rest of it. Like to see his face if I put Yours, bender! Any of their
faces."



(vi)


Winter, standing in the kitchen to read a list and check groceries while
Miss Milly unpacked them, met the eye of old Sal over the housekeeper's
bent back. Old Sal had a most pregnant eye. It conceived rapidly, giving
facile birth to innuendo or query. Its roll was easy as the turn of a
fish, its wink the flick of a snake's tongue. Meeting the glance of Mr.
Winter its promise made him in one instant aware that he was about to
lose eight ounces of tobacco. This, his month's allowance, he had saved
for the purpose of a wager with Sal, which she made sure and jovial
anticipation of winning. Praise from James Hardy Vaux and his associates
was not lightly given, nor was the skill which earned it readily
forgotten. Old Sal's eye, by a deft lowering of the lid, bade the other
party to the bet mark what she was about, and admire.

"Candles, wax, 20 lbs," read Winter.

Miss Milly dumped the package upon the scales beside her, calculated the
weight and announced:

"Short! Seven ounces. Mark that down."

"Peppercorns, black and white, 2 lbs. Sugar. Four loaves."

"One broken."

In Sal's trade it was customary to work in twos, one party distracting
attention while the other employed forks of the only kind not made before
fingers. She now allotted to the broken sugar-loaf the former inactive
but necessary role, shifting towards it step by step. Her left hand was
at it: Winter, watching from the corner of his eye, saw how her fingers
deliberately rustled the torn corner of paper, and observed Miss Milly
look towards the sound. Sal's right hand simultaneously narrowed itself;
three fingers went down like prongs into the housekeeper's skirt. He did
not see them emerge from the pocket, which they did as Miss Milly in rage
examined the other hand for stolen sugar.

"Fed like the Queen of England, and still you lags keep prigging!"

"I never took nothing, Miss M., so help me!"

"Not for want of trying, then."

Later the secretary, back in the room with the map, recognized the
whistle of old Sal outside his window. "Well? What did you get?"

Old Sal answered, aggrieved, that they might both have known the nasty
thing never kept a handkercher, too mean, blows with her fingers to save
washing.--

"But you got something?"

Old Sal had indeed got something, as good as a handkercher for that
matter; it had Miss M.'s writing in it, and that showed it couldn't have
come from no one else. She brought out of the deeps of her bosom a small
black-covered, book.

It was all there, two years' expenditure, steadily mounting the sums
totted up week by week, month by month, to make an appalling total. Miss
Milly, save for the brief period of Adare's visit, had expended almost
the whole of her earnings on spirits for her victim. She could not have
kept above a shilling a week for her own needs of clothing, and the mild
pleasures her convictions allowed. The cost of the stuff was her bribe to
conscience, the price of continuing to approve herself. There was a
curious little appendix, showing prices obtained for dresses, petticoats
and such, and to whom the money had been given; the Temperance Society,
the Bible Society, a female orphanage. Nothing of Lady Henrietta's
self-despoiling had been used for the purpose she intended. Nor had Miss
Milly bought for herself any least credit by these donations. To this, to
that, anonymous, the entries insisted. The righteous woman at her
victim's funeral might say: with a great price obtained I this freedom.

"Hey, Mister! Didn't I win my bacca fair?"

Winter perceived old Sal again, and paid her off without a word. She went
away, grumbling a little, having given her performance as much for the
hope of applause as for the price of hire. The secretary began to tremble
all over; his knees failed. The fire, which Flusky caused to be lit of a
night for the pleasure of staring in it, tempted him now intolerably. It
was newly built of short logs, piled together tent-fashion; through the
opening at the top the little book might so easily pass and be consumed--

Flusky came in. The abstraction into which Winter had fallen had allowed
no warnings from his senses to reach him. Thus the master found the
servant sprawled in his chair, legs stretched out to the fire, studying a
notebook which could by no means be related to any business of Samson
Flusky, Esquire. Winter sprang up.

"Take it easy, mister. Take it easy."

"Sir, I beg your pardon--"

"Stow that. What's that you got there?"

"A private document, sir."

"Give it here."

"No, sir."

"Do you want to go back to Government?"

Too late to run away. Winter took a breath, trying to steady his heart.

"Sir, this book does not belong to me

"How you come by it, then?"

The secretary had formed, as yet, no plan. Nevertheless even his fears
could not hide from him that it was necessary to speak, because the man
would, one way or another, compel him to speak. He got out the first four
words in a rush:

"It is Miss Milly's." Now, urgently, he was proffering the book. "Look,
her handwriting, you know it. It is hers. You must believe me. Here is
proof. You can't deny it, sir, with this in your hand."

"What's the matter with you? Why are you all of a shake?"

Winter stood, shaking indeed. Flusky took the book, deliberately turned
its pages; then leaned out the window, shouting towards the kitchen
quarters:

"Milly! Here!"

Turning back into the room he saw the bell-rope, grinned at the gentleman
in his employ, and pulled it. Winter said nothing, did not look at the
master. When Miss Milly came in, he took a step forward, but Flusky stood
still, holding the book out so that she might see it.

Miss Milly looked, recognized the book instantly, and folded her hands
high up on her stomach. It was the attitude she took in the kitchen
before making some demand with sardonic politeness; "And why, if I may
presume to ask--" She did not appear angry or guilty. Flusky asked:

"This yours?"

She did not look at it but at him as she answered: "It is. And how do you
come by it, I should like to know?"

"It's a list of drink bought."

"And why not, pray?"

Flusky at that blinked a little. The secretary said in a low voice:

"She admits it, sir. You see, she admits it."

"You answer me a question. Have I or haven't I got a right to turn an
honest penny by trading as well as another?" She did not wait for the
answer, but went on with mounting temper. "Strong drink's a mocker, but
it don't make a fool of the man that sells it. Or woman either. You look
in that book you make so free with. Look in that, and see how much I've
paid into Temperance these last years." As he fumbled with the pages, she
laughed. "Liquor making a rod for its own back, see? If I sell drink, and
pay over what I make to the glory of the Lord, whose business is that?"

"There's nothing here about selling."

"You've only got the book with the outgoings. There's another, and you
shall see it, if you're going to make such a song about what's my
business, Mr. Flusky. How you come by that book you got, if you please? I
want an answer to that, Mr..Flusky, if you don't have no objection."

"She's lying," said the secretary, still in a low voice, but urgently. He
believed what he said; at the same time he could not but see the horrid
plausibility of the woman's story. It was in character that her business
sense should have perceived the profits to be made from drink, while her
religious sense saw no reason why these same profits should not be
diverted, converted, made to pay dividends in the Kingdom of Heaven. He
repeated what he had said, trying to convince the master by the tone of
his voice.

"Now listen," said the woman, advancing on him. "You, I mean, mister.
This is your doing. Making mischief, eh? Talking poetry to madam, eh?
Don't want nobody with their eyes open about this house, that's about the
facts of it."

"You're buying drink for her," the secretary said. "I know it, you know
it, the proof's there if only he'd look for it--"

And he had an inkling of defeat coming from the other quarter; as if
Flusky would not look, had a reason for not looking at proof. But the
woman was speaking again, moving towards him without dropping her hands,
which still were folded upon each other tightly, at the level of her
waist. It was alarming, as though a statue had walked.

"If ever I took so much as a farthing that's not mine, I'll swallow it
red-hot. Red-hot, d'you hear?"

"I don't accuse you of stealing--"

"No, you don't accuse me of stealing. There's one or two things you don't
dare do, Mr. Nose. What for should I give her drink? You sneak round this
house in places where you've no right to be, saying things you've no
right to say, but you can't answer that, and why? Shall I count them pure
with the wicked balances, and with the bag of deceitful weights? No, nor
use them myself, nor take a penny I don't earn with these two hands--" At
that she did move them. Palms held upwards and flat, she shoved her hands
at the secretary, as though to show him at once their emptiness and their
strength. "What's this you're at? Want to get rid of me, do you? I know
why."

"Mr. Flusky," said the secretary, stammering. "I beg you won't listen to
this woman. I've accused her, and brought proof."

"And I say before the Lord, Mr. Flusky, that I've been to you a good and
faithful servant, labouring late and early. If you find a penny missing,
or so much as a farthing dip, I'll answer for it, if it's gone from this
house while I'm in charge. What for should I give her drink? And where
did he get that book from? That's what I'm asking."

Her gaze was steady, it held no fear, it demanded justice. Winter, in his
consternation, spoke unthinking. The moment the words were out of his
mouth he knew that he had committed the final folly, and was done for.

"I swear it's the truth. Ask her ladyship, for God's sake! She'll bear me
out."

Miss Milly interrupted him, clamouring:

"That's right, her ladyship, that's good, that is! Ask her, do, Mr.
Flusky!"

In those words, that confident cry, Winter heard the enigma of Lady
Henrietta's behaviour smoothly and unhurriedly solved; she knew and
accepted her fate. There was a thing which remained to be done. Without
the warning of an exclamation he ran from the room and upstairs, tearing
as he ran at something stitched inside his shirt; a letter. He got it out
as he reached the bedroom door, and Flusky the turn of the stairs. There
was time, just time, to thrust it under the pillow on which her hair made
cat's cradle; to speak one word--"Adare." Then he heard striding feet in
the room at his back. Nothing after.



(vii)


"Mr friend," the letter began. "Or no. Let us observe the formalities. My
dear Lady Henrietta, ahem! (You are to suppose that I have tied my stock
neatly, and that my hair smells of costly oils. I am a gentleman paying a
call by letter.) What months since I've seen you, and what weather we've
been having! Actually it is no more than half an hour since I saw you,
but I must look forward to the time when Winter will deliver this missive
into your hand. He has his orders, to give it you six months from the day
of my departure. If I return before that time he is not to trouble you
with it. If I delay, then you may need a little light conversation to
keep you in spirits till I come back. This is the best I can contrive.

"How do you do, six months from now? Are you standing the test of time,
my lady masterpiece? How does a poet, John Keats, say, feel when he turns
up the sonnet that kept him awake and sweating blood a week of months
ago? Well, never mind that question, there's nobody can answer it. But
you might, at this point, take out the little list I made you, and
examine your conscience with regard to Social and Domestic Duties. Are
you ordering the dinner? Do you go about more? You should have a salon by
now, full of gentlemen confidently holding forth, and ladies watching you
narrowly. Are you taking an interest in the garden as you should? Are you
writing home to my sister Alethea?

"I have a sufficiently good conceit of myself to suppose that you are
obedient in all. Ridiculous it may be, but a young man who throws his
whole heart into any endeavour is unwilling to believe that there will be
nothing to show for it in the end. If I did not think that you were safe
I would not leave you. (Confound it, we are back in the present tense
again. No matter.)

"And now for a scolding. It is the matter of your attitude to this
departure of mine. Why do you talk, look, protest as if your husband were
trying to murder me? You cannot rationally suppose it. I grant there was
uneasiness once, but we have talked that out, in so far as talking is
possible with him. (He has a stunner, by the way, at gentlemen.) He is a
man almost too simple for us to understand, who are sophisticated
creatures. His manoeuvrings are those of a child, and like a child he
cannot speak out what he means, has not the words for it. Nor do I
believe he always knows what he intends to do until it is done. He must
do his thinking and talking by deeds. This money for equipment, this
fifty pounds, is an _amende honourable_ for having at one time suspected
me. There will be a new dress or a trinket for you, on the same account.
It is not our way of doing things, but we are not for that reason to
condemn it. Wear your trinket, as I take the money. He is a creature
people could love if he would let them, like a sort of rough cantankerous
retriever dog. I begin to see in him what you saw, the day you ran away
with him out of Ireland.

"And that reminds me. Do you recollect S. Quaife of the petticoat? I saw
her yesterday (damn these tenses) and I am taken with a sort of heartburn
at the thought that it will be a good many months till I sec her again.
If she were not whose daughter she is, and had not a voice that I don't
care for, I should be in danger of falling in love. What a phrase,
falling in love! I could do you an extravagance a la Touchstone on the
various degrees of falling--the slip courteous, the tumble with
circumstance, and so forth. My adventure, despite that petticoat which
might seem to witness the contrary, comes under fall number three, the
trip modest. An odd thing, that while your beauty and tenderness could
not touch me, S. Quaife should set me off like tinder. Perhaps it is not
so. Perhaps six months hence, when this is in your hands, I shall have
forgotten her. But it is too soon after seeing her to think so now. Will
you, then--

"I can't ask it. The hangman's daughter! No, no. I have still some
feeling for the proprieties left, Lady Henrietta. (My hands go under my
coat-tails, and I make for the fireplace, that rostrum of the domestic
preacher.) I have still some regard for the decencies, and therefore I do
not ask your ladyship to go in person to a small barber's shop--clean,
though--and enquire for S. Quaife. I only say that the shop may be
discovered by the curious somewhere in George Street, not so very far
from a stationer's, and that the lady in question may be recognized by
her having a face shaped like a heart, dark hair, blue eyes, and a mole
at the corner of her mouth.

"That is not a description by a man in love,
is it? Unemotional as those Wanteds by which criminals are made known,
only the touch about the face's heart-shape, which will not quite do.
Omit that, and the rest may stand for proof that I am not a lover yet.
Remember, I have asked nothing of you.

"I had thought to leave half a dozen of these missives with Winter, so
that you might have them delivered regularly, every fortnight. But that
would be to take for granted that I shall be absent longer than six
months, a depressing consideration. There is only this one letter,
therefore, to hold you in talk till I can come and buttonhole you myself.
You looked heavenly with the light on your hair an hour ago. Why am I not
over ears in love with you? Do not forget me."

Lady Henrietta ceased to read. She was at that stage of her trouble when
the perceptions take on a momentary delusive acuteness. The people lately
thronging her room had been definite in outline as paintings, every
detail of colour and texture clear. While they raged a bird flew past the
window. In the half-second of its passing she had perceived the set and
colour of every feather, and the expressionless roundel of its eye. So
sensitive was she that her flesh had seemed to reflect the whole scene
unquestioning, her blood, restlessness stilled, quicksilver on glass,
served to record those movements which her mind could not interpret. The
young man, grey in the face, who rushed in to thrust a paper under her
pillow she had seen fall without any concern. Milly's triumphant look had
neither escaped nor interested her. And she had answered nothing to any
questions, lying still, mute, half in love with easeful death.

Only when they were gone did she remember the single word Winter had
spoken, and move a hand to feel for the paper he had hidden under her
head. This she read, simultaneously seeing and hearing, as though someone
were speaking the letter aloud while her eyes followed the strokes of the
pen. It meant nothing to her, entranced as she was. The letters and
syllables were distinct, their meaning absent. She felt, however, a
warning very subtle and far off, the kind of warning dreams give of some
real pain to which the dreamer must wake. Raising her head she looked
about her at the confusion of the room, and imagined herself dressing,
moving with purpose amid that confusion. She saw her own fine nose,
thickened chin, tousled hair, and surveyed them, while an echo gravely
informed her that all love could do for you was to fill you up with gin.
She could not at once discover what the purpose was that sooner or later
would set her moving about the room. Her eyes closed again, her head sank
back. Unconsciously her will imposed a duty upon the first finger of her
right hand, which traced and retraced upon the counterpane two letters,
S. and Q. unrelated to reality, but like abracadabra somehow giving
assurance of protection.

She woke three hours later and remembered what she had determined to do.
Also she was ashamed, as on that night when Adare, climbing up by the
magnolia tree, had found her drunk. She touched his letter as a talisman,
making no attempt to read it again. A clock struck, and now her ears were
strained to number the sounds which three hours earlier had descended on
them loud as a hammer on iron. It was six o'clock. She pulled the
bell-rope.

It was Milly who answered. She came in bearing a neatly-dressed tray,
shining, tempting, the very tray to wheedle an invalid out of
indifference to food; set it down on Lady Henrietta's knees with an
encouraging, "There now!" and began to remedy the room's disorder,
talking as she stooped and folded.

"He's out of the house, Mr. Flusky said I was to tell you. I wouldn't
have his back, this time to-morrow. Rushing in like that to a lady's
bedroom! That's the end of Mister Winter."

There was no answer from the bed. Miss Milly went on, drawing a stocking
over her thin red hand, turning it, seeking for holes before she rolled
it up.

"Accusing me, he was. But Mr. Flusky stood by me, and always has. We're
better off without these young fellows that think they're somebody."

The stocking showed no imperfections. Miss Milly rolled it with its
fellow and gave the compact light bundle such a pat as a mother in good
humour will give her child's bottom before she tucks it into bed.

"Now we can all settle down, no mischief-making, everything like it was.
Try and eat some of that chicken. And I brought you a little draught the
doctor ordered."

Miss Milly was in command again. No longer did she show as that sour and
raucous spinster who had watched Charles Adare and routed William Winter,
but as the good servant, plain-spoken, who would run any house like a
palace if only she might have her way. Lady Henrietta, eyes following
her, knew that the purpose which informed this woman was stronger than
her own.

When Milly departed, she made an effort, as a diver turns his hands
upward and kicks himself towards the light. She got out of bed, and went
to her work-box, feeling through its pockets, recognizing by touch those
silks which should have clad the flocks and garlanded the crook of her
shepherdess. She found a needle-book in which, one evening, she had
hidden the scrap of tape with the name S. Quaife cross-stitched on it in
big letters. When she had it in her fingers she could not remember what
she had intended to do, and so went back to bed. She slipped the tape
into Adare's letter before (Miss Milly's draught powerfully aiding) she
fell asleep again, to dream urgent reasons why she should live, and to
find herself clinging to a hangman's noose as to a rope of salvation.



(viii)


Mr Samson Flusky, crossing his hall to the front door where a vehicle
waited, was astonished to hear his wife's voice:

"Sam, will you take me in to the town?"

He looked at her. She was dressed neatly enough; her gloved hands were
clasped together in a gesture excessive for the request she was making;
but then, that was her way.

"No reason why not."

He surveyed her again, more closely than before; this time perceiving
that she clasped her hands because they quivered, and that she was
haggard in the cruelly clear morning light.

"If you've got some notion about Winter, it's no good. He's been
rumped[*] by this."

[* Rumped= flogged.]

"Winter?"

And her voice held genuine surprise. She had forgotten the secretary.
Winter was a messenger, a walking gentleman, who played a little part and
now had made his exit unnoticed from the stage of her mind; in him she
had never divined an ally. She frowned a little at the word which she
knew meant a flogging and answered:

"He's gone, hasn't he? Milly said something."

"He's gone all right." Flusky's scrutiny satisfied him. His voice was
genial. "Well, you feel able for it? Step out, then. If I drop you in
George Street, will that do?"

She sat beside him, while the groom let the horses' heads go and sprang
up behind, the toe of his boot treading for an instant one spoke of the
moving shining wheel. Lady Henrietta sat up straight enough, but did not
speak as Flusky pointed out new buildings with his whip; she was fighting
nausea. At the turning by Hyde Park Barracks he seemed to hesitate; the
horses' feet stopped their clatter, and the sound could be heard of St.
James's clock striking ten. Flusky grinned, gave a brief whistle, and a
cluck that sent his beasts off straight forward down King Street.

"Now, which of the shops d'ye want?"

She could only think of the name Quaife, and the vague direction, "by a
stationer's."

"You have an appointment, perhaps. Don't consider me."

"Appointment," said he. "I'm late for that, anyway."

"With whom?" she asked idly, for time to gather her powers of invention.
It was long since she had been in the town, the names of the shops were
strange to her, the soldiers ludicrous in their shakos and tight coats; a
striding black fellow in a flax-fringed cloak seemed less perturbed, took
the bustle more for granted, than did she. "With whom is your
appointment?"

"With His Ex. Dick Bourke," Flusky answered. "It won't do him any harm to
wait half an hour."

He looked at her, but she did not make the appeal that might have been
expected; ask him for news, ask him what will be done about Charles
Adare. S. Quaife was the idea regnant. Little speculations flitted about
the initial S. Did it stand for Selina, Sarah, Susan? Thus she had no
comment to make upon this appointment with Sir Richard, unwonted and
interesting though Flusky's glance proclaimed it. It did not occur to her
to ask the question, nor would he volunteer the answer unasked. They
drove in silence until she, desperately spying about her, perceived the
sign of R. Bourne and Co., Family Mourning, Millinery and Baby Linen, and
touched his arm.

"This? How long will you be?"

"An hour--more--I don't know."

He looked at the draper's shop; a public-house neighboured it. He leant
over as if to speak, pulled back, gave a shake of the reins and a nod,
and so left her. It occurred to Lady Henrietta as she stood in the street
that there was no reason in the world why she should not have taken her
husband into her confidence about S. Quaife. But somewhere in her
half-sleeping spirit a vigilant personage warned her against
explanations, against any use of the name Adare. She stood for a minute
abstracted, until she saw a man in the doorway of the shop look
inquisitively at her. She smiled at him, asked (for something to say)
where was George Street. He put her on her way, and returning to his
counter conjectured, grumbling:

"New out. You can always tell, asking for George Street, as if there
wasn't as good shops in Pitt Street or King. They learn, I suppose, if
they live long enough."

Lady Henrietta began to walk. She felt ill; there was money in her purse,
and drink offering at every street corner, under emblems of fertility,
patriotism, and caprice; "The Wheatsheaf," "The Trafalgar," "The Cat and
Mutton." She walked faster, until loungers with broad hats tilted over
their eyes began to stare after her. It was a hot day, her dress of the
kind they were accustomed to see floating a foot or two out of the dust,
smoothly, to the rhythm of hoofs. She had, besides, a characteristic
step, very light and free. The loungers, nonplussed, found outlet for
their oafish bewilderment as usual in laughter. But she was concerned
with her own growing faintness, and with the need not to miss the sign of
a small barber's shop--"clean, though"--somewhere near a stationer's.

To the right lay the barrack square. Vaguely she remembered spectacles
other than purely military ones that were to be witnessed there; a wall
on the south side had iron rings set in it, just a little higher than a
man's head, to which were tied the wrists of those about to be flogged.
Upon instinct she turned left, and almost immediately discovered the
inconspicuous sign.

Quaife's customers waiting their turn stared at her, halting
conversations to do so. She stood rather helplessly, aware of activities
behind a half-drawn curtain, men's heads swathed in towels, a voice
holding forth:

"--when you can tell me why the duty on home-made rum should be ten and
tuppence, when it's only three bob on other spirits--"

"Easy. Rum's cheaper to make."

"Who says?"

Lady Henrietta stood still, looking about her for some means of summoning
attention. One of the waiting customers, with a wink at the others, got
up, made an elaborate bow, and asked what he could do for her. She
murmured that she wished to speak to Miss Quaife. He misheard her and
called to the inner room:

"Boss! It's your lucky day. Lady here wants you."

Lady Henrietta saw the curtain jerked back to admit a large man holding a
razor in his right hand, from which, without looking at it, his left
fingers drew off and flicked away soap.

"We don't attend to females here," a voice told her, the same that had
demanded enlightenment concerning the duty on rum.

"Your daughter--I don't know her name, I fear--might I speak to her?"

The quality of the voice surprised the barber. He stood aside, motioning
with the hand that held the razor for her to pass through the shop, where
his clients turned grotesque faces to watch her go; eyes red with soap
swung above snow-men's cheeks to follow her progress towards the inner
door. The barber pushed this open, and bade her go straight up. A clamour
of questions and soft whistles arose as he turned back to attend to his
business.

The girl was mending towels. She sat in the window, a sliver of sun lying
across her cheek, feet tucked up on the bars of her chair. In this
attitude, like some forlorn heroine at the beginning of a fairy story,
she sat for a moment gazing at the visitor. When she decided to get up,
surprised though she was, she did so slowly, blinking a little as though
to free her eyes from the sun, and said abruptly:

"Who is it?"

Having said that, from sallow she became deadly pale, and Lady Henrietta
saw recognition in the blue eyes. Yet she had never, to her knowledge,
seen the girl before. Charles's description was a good one, however, the
girl represented his words come to life. Immediately, and for no reason,
she felt a rush of hope. Her knees weakened. The girl said nothing, did
nothing.

"I will sit down, if I may."

There was only one chair. The girl pushed it forward and stood looking
straight at her visitor, while her hands busied themselves folding the
towel as her father had, without giving an eye to it, cleared his razor
of soap.

"You don't know who I am. But I am here because of somebody you do know;
Mr. Charles Adare. He has asked me to call on you--" ridiculous word for
a visit to a barber's shop--"to give you a message from him."

"Is he back, then?"

Eagerness sharpened the voice, languid, with slurred vowels; the sort of
voice he could not care for. "I have had a letter."

"Oh, you had a letter." There was resentment in that; the girl looked at
her sombrely.

"In which he asked me to say--" But he had asked nothing. "To find out if
you were well."

"What's it to do with him?" said the girl uncompromisingly, and left to
be understood the pendant to her question: Or with you?

That should have ended the conversation. But Lady Henrietta was becoming
each moment more strongly conscious of reassurance in the girl's
presence; she would not investigate the reason for this feeling, lest
there might prove to be none; but the vigilante who had argued while she
gazed unseeing at Family Mourning told her that here was an ally. At the
back of it all, confusedly, ran a feminine syllogism: This girl is alive
to Charles, Charles to her, therefore Charles cannot have died.

"I came also for another purpose. Pray don't be surprised, or think the
request very strange. It was only this, to ask if you would come to my
house."

"I don't do hairdressing."

"Forgive me, I explain myself badly. As a guest."

"Me?" The girl laughed, awkwardly, too loud for the room. "I don't see
what you mean."

"Nor do I, altogether," said Lady Henrietta, apologetically, softly. "You
must excuse me." The girl heard the difference in their tones, her face
became alive with positive anger.

"What are you getting at? I don't know how to talk to
ladyships--honourables either, for that matter. I know when a person's on
the cross, though. I'll keep where I am."

"My husband was a felon," said Lady Henrietta without hesitation or
emphasis, surprising herself. "He has been whipped before now, perhaps by
your father, down there in the square." The girl stared at her, wholly
taken aback. "So you see, I cannot put on airs, I am not on the cross, I
am not teasing you. I am asking in good faith. Will you come?"

"But I don't see what for."

"Will you?"

The girl, striving to make difficulties, outmatched by her own curiosity,
did not answer. She regarded the visitor, gave again her uneasy laugh,
and looked about the room. It was poor, too sunny; the loud talk of
customers, the smell of soap, was ascending to it all day long.

"Charles wrote to me," Lady Henrietta said after a pause, "that you had a
face shaped like a heart. It's true; the way your hair grows on your
forehead."

The girl shifted her feet, looked down at them frowning, and was
understood to say that she was fly, had to be, she knew his sort. Then,
lifting her head and looking straight at her visitor, she asked clearly:

"What would you want me for? I won't say anything without you tell me
what you want me for."

It was the vigilante who spoke, above physical malaise which could no
longer be fought in that hot small room. "I want somebody to be with me
that I'm not afraid of, or sorry for."

With that she drooped at last. The girl forgot to be wary, to detest the
woman she had last seen on the Governor's arm from that peephole on the
stairs where, lacking partners, she had gone to cry. She knew sickness
when she saw it, George Street being a place where the ills of the flesh
came often enough under the casual eye. Coming close suddenly, with a
strong hand she forced the visitor's head towards her knees, calling out
at the same time in no ladylike simulation of a shout:

"Dad! Here, quick!"

There was suddenly silence below, and her father's voice:

"What's up?"

"She's gone off. Fetch water."

There was rumbling talk. After a moment Quaife appeared in the room
bearing a glass half full of brownish liquor.

"Water, I said."

"This'll do her more good."

He advanced it to Lady Henrietta's mouth as his daughter, shifting her
fingers, lifted the bowed head, remonstrating:

"She'd ought to have salts, or something--a lady." But Lady Henrietta
took a mouthful and swallowed it. Quaife winked at his daughter, tilting
the glass. A few drops ran out of the corners of her mouth, but she
continued to swallow as though the stuff had in fact been the water with
which convention supplied fainting ladies. When it was empty she gave a
little cough, wiped her lips, rose; and in her beautiful voice said with
dignity to the barber:

"Your daughter has been good enough to promise to pay me a visit. I hope
you will allow it."

His daughter, incredulously looking from the empty glass to the lady, and
inwardly from the lady to a young man in a beautiful waistcoat, found
nothing whatever to say. She nodded, however, to her father's glance.



(ix)


"We need a school of this kind," said His Excellency, "no doubt of that,
Mr. Flusky. Here I have grumbles from men all up and down the country,
that can't get a wheelwright or a carpenter for money. Look at this list
of trades among the latest arrivals; a comb-maker, a man-milliner, two
soap-boilers and a teacher of dancing. Who'll put in for that last
individual, do you suppose? And if nobody does, what good will he be at
breaking stones? We are like shipwrecked men on this deserted continent,
we must take what the sea brings us, and be thankful. So far it casts up
ten gauze bonnets for one good barrel of pork."

"I've been out here longer'n you," said Flusky. "You can't tell me."

"I don't like the assignment system," Sir Richard mused; "allotting
craftsmen out of a hat the way we do now. I write to the Colonial
Secretary once a month or so. He writes back: What alternative do you
propose? And I have none. But if we can supply free men, trained, then I
can say to him, keep your prisoners in the gaols, where they belong."

"You'll have the landowners agin you," said Flusky. "They don't care what
a man's trade is, so long's they don't have to pay him."

"They care, though, whether he can do his work."

"No," said Flusky. "They think they can learn him with a whip."

"Are you saying the magistrates flog without cause?"

"I'm saying nothing," said Flusky.

The Governor looked curiously at the square man in his misshapen suit of
Botany wool, so like in cut and colour to the convict's slops, and
thought he saw the fellow's reason for wearing it. Once I wore this dress
because I must; now I please myself, and by Nick I'll wear it still, and
your best tailor, Mr. Maelzer of George Street, he shall cut the trousers
like as to leave room for irons. To hell with the past! Or else wrap it
round you like a flag. And His Excellency recollected how once, before
the justiciary of his mind, he had arraigned the uniform ladies for their
hankerings and flutterings after the past, their England, distant and for
ever gone. Flusky, an unwilling migrant, yet had a better title to this
new country than the uniforms could show.

"To go back to this matter of the school."

"Ay, well, what I say--" Flusky frowned, endeavouring to put into words
just what he did say, when he collogued with his own thoughts. "What I
say: in a country where everything's to do, the hands has a chance to put
themselves equal with the head. A gentleman, a scholard, will do pretty
poor thinking without a roof to his head or food in his belly."

"I don't know about that," the Governor answered easily. "I've had to
think fast many's the time in Spain, with never a shelter and my stomach
touching my backbone. Wellesley didn't take excuses."

"That's soldiering," Flusky answered. "We don't have to reckon for
soldiers here. We have to reckon for peace. That's a thing what people
here don't understand, they're new, it's all new--"

"People that know not their right hand from their left; besides much
cattle!"

"That's about right," Flusky answered, nodding. "That about hits it. Only
it had ought to have been sheep."

The Governor laughed, glanced at his clock, and put papers together,
hinting dismissal, while he summed up the interview.

"It's understood, then. I'll see that the land's allotted for your
technical school. Government has reserved an acre or two here and there
within the town. It must be easy of access for the kind of young men we
want to catch. Leave that to me, I'll do my best for you."

"Good enough," Flusky answered.

"Shall I bespeak the services of the Colonial Architect?"

"Give me a note to him. I'd like to say a word or two about the plan.
He'll want to waste money; rams' skulls carved on the pillars. I'll get
him some real skulls if he want to nail 'em up."

"The Greeks, whose Corinthian style Mr. Lewis imitates, did just that, I
believe. Real skulls."

"Showed their sense."

He rose, obedient to the Governor's lightly tapping fingers; Sir Richard
sat for the three or four seconds during which his mind was divided; get
up for a damn gaol-bird? It's your business to make these fellows
self-respecting. But I'm the King's representative, by God, and
he's--That's past; to hell with the past! Sir Richard stood up, offered
his hand.

"I'm obliged, Mr. Flusky. You shall have the letter to Lewis."

"Thankee."

"Lady Henrietta well?" Before Flusky could answer he went on: "I have a
message for her--for you, too; you too will be glad. They have found
young Adare. In a bad way, but still--where's the letter from Dixon?"

The secretary, starting forward, found and handed a thick budget. His
Excellency sought among the pages, talking:

"A messenger came in this morning. Dixon, you know, has been exploring
the source of the Bogan--ah, here's the passage. But you'd prefer to read
it to yourself."

Flusky took the sheets as though they were weighty, and laboriously,
under Sir Richard's eye, perused Mr. Dixon's message.

"As I was reconnoitring this spot for the purpose of making out the camp,
I came suddenly upon a party of natives, one of whom giving a short cooee
first made me aware of the circumstance. I went towards them with a
branch, which always serves as an assurance of peaceable intentions. They
seemed by no means disturbed at our appearance, and an old man coming
towards me pronounced an unusual word which I repeated after him as well
as I could understand it. He continued to speak in their language,
several times pointing to my beard and eyes. For the most part they point
to articles which they expect, or hope, will be given to them. I
therefore could make nothing of his gestures, on which he repeated the
former word, taking pains to articulate it. What was my astonishment to
recognize in these syllables the name 'Adare.' I repeated the name,
therefore, pointing myself to my eyes and beard, which are something the
same colour as Mr. Adare's. He seemed delighted to be understood, and
taking my sleeve endeavoured to pull me in the direction of their camp,
to which I yielded, only requiring Burdett to hand me my musket and load
his own.

"The camp consisted of some forty persons of both sexes, including
children, and there, not to spin out the suspense, I found Mr. Adare. He
was in a most pitiable condition, though the blacks had done their best
for him, in a high fever, and not able to give any account of himself. I
proposed by signs to the chief that the invalid should be transported to
my camp, offering in exchange a clasp-knife and the skins of two
wallabies we had shot that morning. This was agreed upon, and we made a
litter of blankets and poles which served to convey him thither.

"Happily the encampment was near good water, and we were not short of
provisions, owing to the supply of game we had encountered, and which, no
doubt, accounted also for the presence of the blacks. Mr. Adare continued
delirious for a further twenty-four hours, after which our broths and
brandy seemed to revive him. He owes his life to his youth, for I hardly
suppose that an older man could have survived the hardships he has since
described to me--"

The Governor's voice broke in upon Flusky's reading; reckoning at the
speed of an educated man's scrutiny, His Excellency misjudged by two
pages the progress of the slower eye.

"Adare, you know, is a sort of cousin of mine. This is as good a moment
as any to thank you for what you tried to do for him. He made no secret
that you had advised him, as did I, against this adventure. If he
survives now, it is not for want of prophecies to the contrary."

Flusky made no comment.

"Dixon says nothing, you see, about any gold. It's true he has not been
able to get much out of the boy yet in the way of information. But I
interrupted you; you hadn't finished."

Flusky shook his head, restoring the letter.

"Well, it is briefly told. He is leaving Charles behind at the house of a
settler, who will look after him until he is fit to travel. We shall not
see him in Sydney before December. I don't know how it takes you, Mr.
Flusky, but I have a kind of weakness for young men who won't do as
they're told. It is the thing I like best about this country, none of the
currency generation will do as it's told. Charles is a misfit in England,
in Ireland he is lost in the crowd; but in New South Wales he may do very
well if he lives."

Sir Richard's clock struck eleven. The interview had lasted nearly an
hour, and His Excellency was fatigued by it. He respected Mr. Flusky, he
proposed to help Mr. Flusky to the full of his powers, he had faith and
hope in Mr. Flusky; all the same--

"Talking with this fellow is like beating a bale of wool with a blunt
cleaver; you tire yourself out, and devil a thing to show for it. He's
off at last, and best of luck to him, but for all that, thank God!"



(x)


Downstairs Flusky sat at the desk in his room, a lamp by his elbow,
papers under his hands, which moved among the written sheets as awkwardly
as their owner through a drawing-room confused with ladies. The room was
warm, and his cigar-smoke scented it pleasantly, lazily twisting in the
upper reaches of the lamp's light. Windows shut against a mizzle of rain
prevented the usual inroad of voices from the kitchen. No sound came from
the blacks' camp, their songs about dingoes, rainbows and food were being
howled to other stars. Even the fire no longer spurted, but lay
quiescent, glowing with the pink hue of burning cedar, more like light
than flame.

Miss Milly came in with tea. He did not look up or thank her, but gave a
grunt, fumbling still among the papers. She said, watching him:

"Can't I give you a hand, Mr. Flusky?"

He sighed suddenly, and became aware of her. "Putting in for another
secretary. No more gentlemen, though. Can't any other sort of a man
read and write?"

"No, we've had enough of them," Miss Milly agreed.

"Look, I've made the tea just how you like it."

Flusky took the cup she poured out for him, stirred it and drank. She
went on with a kind of domestic calm and naturalness:

"I shall be wanting another female soon for the kitchen. That woman's due
for her ticket any time now. Going just as she's begun to be useful."

"Keep her, why don't you?"

"Now, Mr. Flusky, she's not worth wages, not when we can get help free
only by asking. Help, do I call it? Hindrance, more like. I won't have
you pay out your good money just to save me a few weeks' trouble."

He said nothing to that, so that she was obliged to make her own
complimentary acknowledgment.

"I like managing, always did. Why, even nowadays I don't have all I can
do. Work's my holiday."

She poured tea into the empty cup he held out, sugared it, and with a
grotesque little coquettish movement stirred it for him before she
returned it. He observed none of this, and she saw with vexation that he
used the spoon as freely as before. She sat down on the edge of a chair
by the fire.

"Will you excuse me if I have a sit-down? It isn't that I'm tired,
but--well, the fact is, I can't have any what I call conversation, so to
speak, in the kitchen. Ladyship's comfortable, I've seen to that."

"How is she to-night?"

"Why don't you go up yourself and see, Mr. Flusky?" He did not answer. "I
know you don't care for to see her the way she is sometimes." She added,
after a brief pause: "We shall all be able to have a bit of peace now
that Winter's gone, with his nose poked into all your concerns. My
concerns too, for that matter. But you're a just man, I can take that to
my comfort. Him to say I was keeping her supplied! What for, I should
like to know? He couldn't answer that. No, nor anyone else."

She settled back into her chair, and taking from her pocket (guarded now
against depredations by a brooch made of bog-oak) a stocking and wools,
began to occupy her hands as was her custom. From time to time she looked
into the fire as a cat will do. The atmosphere of the room was tranquil.

"Of course, as you know very well, Mr. Flusky, she's taking brandy. The
doctor won't have her deprived altogether; might go out of her mind if we
did that. It's against what I think right, but I give her the dose, and I
measure it out like as if it was poison--which it is, for that matter."

He had finished his tea, and now stood lighting another cigar. She said
irrelevantly:

"You always stand on both your feet at once. Excuse me. I was thinking of
that young fellow, Mr. Adare, that always used to be lounging and leaning
about." She began to match wool against the stocking she held. "This
house is a very different place from what it was with him here, Winter,
too. You're like me, Mr. Flusky, penny plain as they say. We can't do
with fal-lals."

She smiled as she bracketed herself thus with her employer, and looked
about the room, neat, warm, her own creation.

"You've come on, Mr. Flusky. Since I came here five years back, you've
come on like the righteous man in the Psalms, of whom it says: wealth and
riches shall be in his house. You'll be able to leave off working one of
these days. There's a funny thing to think of; not to have to work any
more." The voluntary briskness left her for an instant. "It would be
acceptable, very."

"How much are you giving her?" said he to the smoke of his cigar.

"That's something I won't speak about, Mr. Flusky, excuse me. Still, it's
true she's gone down hill since that young Adare went from here. There's
no good my denying what you can see with your own two eyes. He kept her
going with--well, I say other interests. Now she don't care."

"What does doctor say?"

"Oh, him! They can't afford to what I call dot their i's. It pays a
doctor to be cheerful."

She put out her left hand towards him; the grey stocking drawn over it
made the attempt at a tender gesture ridiculous.

"We've all got to go, Mr. Flusky. You'll feel it, but it's got to be.
It's the best thing in the end for all, and that you can't gainsay. One
go, another come, it's the Lord's plan for the world. But there's one
will stand by you--"

Who this might be, the Almighty or Miss Milly herself, was left
indeterminate. Flusky in any case paid no attention, disregarded the
hand, and moved abruptly away towards his map, taking the lamp with him
so that Miss Milly was left without light to darn by. She dropped the
sock in her lap and sat quiet, doing nothing at all, savouring the funny,
the acceptable delight of leaving off working, while he stood tracing
with his eye the distance from the Fish River to the Bogan, and
reckoning, with breath whistled in, the ranges, flats and forests
between.



(xi)


Susan Quaife, turning up out of the blue with a small hair-trunk at the
house in Woolloomooloo, had her first encounter with Miss Milly on the
doorstep.

"Ladyship's orders. I'll just see about that."

Miss Milly closed the front door, and the girl heard the key turn. She
was frightened enough, out of her depth completely, and would--or so she
thought when she first descended from the cart--have been glad of the
chance to run. But that click of the key angered her. She sat down upon
her trunk. Miss Milly returned.

"There's been a mistake. Ladyship says she never heard of you."

"I dare say," Susan Quaife answered. "Nobody can't hear if they're not
told."

"Perhaps you'll give me a little more information, if I might presume to
ask. What do you say you've come for?"

"To visit."

"Oh, indeed! Very good. Come to visit! Whose invitation?"

"Hers."

Miss Milly gave a laugh; then, composing herself and putting on her
manner of the trustworthy and decent servant, leaned forward:

"Ah, I see. Very sorry, Miss. The fact is, Madam--she's not always what I
call herself. By no means." She paused, making a slight lifting movement
of one hand, which recalled to the girl instantly that emptied tumbler of
rum. "She don't always remember what she's said or done. That's how it
is. So here's what we'll do. Come in a minute, and I'll have the cart got
ready to take your box. A young girl like you! She's never done such a
thing before, to my knowledge."

She stood aside, and the girl walked, hesitating, into the hall. It shone
darkly, it was cool; it was the biggest apartment, churches and the
Temperance Hall apart, that Susan Quaife had ever set foot in. Her
defiance found its match in the order and spaciousness about her rather
than in Miss Milly's assurances, and in the silence, intimidating to one
used to the clatter and eternal voices of George Street.

"In here," said Miss Milly, opening a door, "I'll bring you a nice cup of
tea after your ride."

She withdrew. The dining-room was more alarming to Susan Quaife than the
hall. How deep was its carpet, thick as lush grass! How the handles of
the sideboard gleamed! They were elaborately cut in brass, swinging
between pairs of lion heads, of which every hair and hollow shone. The
pictures were darkly impressive, the inlay upon the table nowhere was
dulled; the marvelling eye of Susan Quaife counted twelve chairs exactly
of a pattern. Nowhere was there anything unsymmetrical or out of place,
nowhere a speck of dust. The room silently but with conviction offered a
testimony to the character of Miss Milly which the intruder could not but
accept. She had not been offered one of the twelve chairs, and did not
like to take one. She stood, feeling a fool.

The cup of tea did not come. She could hear no sound. She began to move
about; stood at the window, and so escaped for a little the room's
insistence that Miss Milly was to be esteemed. It occurred to her that
Adare had sat at this table, on one of the twelve chairs; she turned back
to stare at the furniture, imagining him with a glass of wine in his
hand. But she could make no clear picture of his face. Her practical mind
enquiring sardonically what was the use, she abandoned this effort of
imagination and resumed her blank attitude of waiting.

The tea did not come, there was no clock in the room, no sound in the
house. She fidgeted with her nails, which were a little ragged, and
allowed herself to be beset by the notion that somehow it would be
satisfying to cock a snook at this too righteous room. A cupboard in the
corner tempted her. It might, from its appearance, hold salt which could
be spilt, pepper to be artfully shaken out near the door on the chance
that Miss Milly would catch a whiff of it and sneeze with the tray in her
hands; a satisfying cataclysm. Susan Quaife, with a grin that was pure
George Street of the gutters and the docks, gave the handle a twist and a
tug. The cupboard opened; she saw among decanters a leaning, sleeping
human head, its hair stiff and yellow as straw, the patterns on its
cheeks standing up like flesh under a whip.

She did not cry out, nor at once shut the door. She continued to look at
the head, while in her mind the evidence of the calm polished room, the
orderly hall, strove with that offered by this new silent witness. She
was not shocked by it, she had lived too long by the barrack square to be
squeamish, but she was angry to think how nearly Miss Milly had bluffed
her. Any house that casually kept such a curiosity in a cupboard was not
innocent, however its brass might shine, however cool might be its rooms.
That defiance mounted which had impelled her to sit on her trunk before
the shut front-door; the recollected click of the lock dictated her next
move, to turn the key of this room, thus momentarily disconcerting Miss
Milly.

She slipped out on the verandah, remembered that her enemy's footsteps
had marched one way, and stole in the direction opposite, peering in at
windows as she moved. There was a big room with a pianoforte in it that
looked forlorn, though spotless as the other. This monopolized three long
windows, and the verandah went no further. She climbed down on to grass,
and stood looking up at the windows above. A sound reached her, knocking
and rattling to which she could assign a cause; she listened pleasurably,
her eyes busy the while, assessing as a good bet a window with green
curtains showing behind white ones. She hollowed her hands and called
softly towards it:

"Cooee! Ladyship!"

There was no answer, and she could hear that the struggle with the locked
door had been abandoned. She lifted her strong little hands to the first
branch of a magnolia tree that was trained by the wall, easily found a
footing, mounted towards the window. She caught at the sill as scolding
voices broke out on the verandah below, whose roof concealed her now that
she was above it. She put both hands upon the sill of the upper window,
heaved herself up, lay flat across it for a moment, then tumbled into the
room, panting. As she lay, the voice remembered from yesterday, which she
loved unwillingly for its likeness to that of Charles Adare; this voice
spoke, a trifle blurred with laughter, from the bed.

"That will be the first thing for you to study; how to come into a room."



(xii)


"What's these other places laid?"

"That's for Ladyship coming down, with a visitor."

"What visitor?"

"Well, that's it, Mr. Flusky, I've been waiting for you to come in. Of
course, I'm only a servant." She paused. "I'm not consulted, quite so.
It's your orders she's to do as she likes within limits. But it's my
opinion this goes beyond. You may well ask what visitor. It's Quaife's
daughter."

"Whose?"

"You know very well, Mr. Flusky. The hangman that was. Now, what do you
say? I done my part, laid the table and all, it's for you to say whether
you'll sit down to it. It's not my business. 'Be not curious in
unnecessary matters,' says the son of Sirach."

Flusky, surveying the table conventionally set, gave a cluck with his
tongue.

"Where's Ladyship now?"

"Drawing-room." Miss Milly gave a laugh. "Old Quaife's daughter in a
drawing-room. You'll excuse me, but it does look what I call comical. All
things considered. Drawing fowls is more what she be used to."

Flusky went out by the open long windows, and turned in to that room
which S. Quaife on her exploration had summed up as forlorn. His wife sat
in a low chair, dressed, her hair tossed up and held by yellow
tortoiseshell combs. A dark girl sitting awkwardly, her legs slewed
sideways, was looking towards him with all the silent insistent appeal of
an animal compelled to take part in nursery games. She got up and stood
as he entered, while Lady Henrietta told her husband that this was a
guest, giving no further explanation. He did not offer to shake hands,
nor did the girl. He said to his wife:

"You'd ought to be in bed."

"Later." She went on smoothly: "It is very good of Miss Quaife, is it
not, to give me her company?"

"Is this what you--" He stopped. "I suppose it's all right. Dinner's nigh
on ready."

He went out, and almost at once a gong sounded. S. Quaife, intimidated by
the thought of those twelve identical chairs and by the secret of the
cupboard, which she had no business to know, hung back a little; but Lady
Henrietta's hand was on her arm, that fine slender hand, untouched by the
circumstances whose power her face acknowledged. They moved forward
together.

At table began a period of uneasiness for S. Quaife. She was in two
minds; the defiant mind which knew itself as good as anyone else or
better; the mind more timid, which wished to melt into its surroundings
and felt safe there. She contemplated the mahogany and silver with an eye
which her will kept from widening; inwardly the most astonishing thing
about the table was the discovery of her own legs under it. This mental
seesawing preoccupied every minute while she sat; with each dish, almost
each mouthful, a decision had to be made--whether to eat fish as was the
custom in George Street, to the tune of I'm as good as you; or to take up
unfamiliar implements such as Lady Henrietta was using, and be safe in
sameness. She had an odd sensation of embodying in herself the two other
people at table; for if Lady Henrietta handled her forks delicately, she
used them only to break and leave the food, while Mr. Flusky, selecting
forks at random, and shifting them from hand to hand as convenience
dictated, managed to make a very good dinner. Questions asked themselves.
Ought ladies not to eat much?

"Better try a glass of this, Hattie. Madeira wine; just a toothful."

"I think I'd rather not."

But he filled her glass and poised the decanter. "What about Miss?"

"Oh, certainly. Miss Quaife, you'll take some?"

So it was all right to drink wine, Miss Quaife understood. She swallowed
her glassful in one or two gulps, being thirsty, which was one of the
only two reasons she was aware of for drinking. The sweetish nutty
burning taste disconcerted her, and increased her thirst; somewhere under
her ribs warmth began to diffuse, as from a small brazier secretly lit.
Her host had barely spoken to her, she observed that, so far as he was
concerned, the decanter existed for show. "He has been whipped, perhaps
by your father--" and yet here he was, could buy up her father's shop and
never miss the money, hobnobbing with His Ex., and married to a ladyship.
Currency declared at once and hotly that excellencies and ladyships were
naught, but was obliged to recognize that to rise to them from the
puzzling-sticks[*] in the barrack square must be reckoned something. For
currency was shrewd; knew that while there was nothing like five
shillings' worth of silver in a dollar, yet a dollar bought five
shillings' worth of goods.

[* Puzzling-sticks=triangles for flogging.]

The meal ended amid these confusions of thought, with a slight inviting
bow of Lady Henrietta in Susan Quaife's direction, once the decanter had
come to anchor in front of the host whose glass held water only. She
observed that the hostess had not touched her wine. Her mind's eye set an
empty tumbler beside this spindle-shanked glass, compared the quantity
and power of the brown liquor in each, but could not make a sum of it.
Again, they were in the drawing-room together, and the awkwardness of S.
Quaife's legs became evident once more. She made conversation to distract
attention from them.

"Who's that let me in to-day?"

"It would be the housekeeper, I imagine."

"Do you like her?"

"She is useful. Very economical."

"But you don't have to look at money both sides." Lady Henrietta lifted a
hand, smiled, was going to answer--

"I don't like her," said Susan Quaife in a rush, "she tells lies, too.
Said you knew nothing about me."

"Nor I did. Nor I do."

At that, which seemed to herald some sort of questioning, the girl
blushed suddenly and violently, and knew why. She could not say it, but
she was in this house by reason only of Charles Adare, copying a way of
holding forks in his honour, enduring for his sake a hundred blank
misgivings, irrational fears, and scoldings from her currency conscience.
She did not turn away, nor attempt to cover the blush. Lady Henrietta's
eyes dropped first, and she spoke, looking at her hands:

"You must have wondered very much that I should come the other day and
speak to you. You may hear them say--Milly say--that I am not always very
well. That is true, but you must not think that I did not know what I was
doing." She saw an expression--"Milly told you something like that?"

"I locked her out, anyway," said Susan Quaife, evading the question.

"There's something I want to show you. It will make us known to each
other better than anything I can say."

She took a paper from the long swinging gold bag upon her arm, and held
it out; the girl backed a step or two.

"It is from somebody you know. Won't you take it?" The girl said, the
blush burning away under her eyes till they shone:

"I can't read. Not writing."

"I see," said Lady Henrietta with simplicity. "I'm sorry. Would you care
for me to teach you while you're here?"

Before the answer, Miss Milly came in quietly upon them both.

"Time you was in bed, ladyship, if you please. We don't want you tired
out. It's been a long enough day." It was the abrupt but devoted servant
speaking, but she handled her keys as she spoke, beating with the bunch
upon the palm of her left hand, a gesture which had its own significance
for the girl. Men with just such keys went about their business in the
gaol quarters, and spoke jovially to her father, beating time to just
such a commanding measure. She owned an antipathy to gaolers, who, rather
than judges and juries, made felons out of free men. She answered Lady
Henrietta's question, not choosing to observe Miss Milly.

"I'd be thankful."

"Very well," said Lady Henrietta; but the acquiescence was spoken to Miss
Milly first, her eyes sliding up for an instant towards the righteous
woman's face before she smiled at the girl.

"To-night?"

"There's only one thing Ladyship's doing to-night, and that's bed. I'll
bring you up your little something when you're settled."

Lady Henrietta's eyelids flicked once or twice above her smile.

"Perhaps it would be better. Perhaps, just for tonight. I'm a little
tired."

"Tired! So you'd ought."

Miss Milly said no more, but she tightened and elongated her lips. The
girl, coming out of her own excitement, saw that in fact her hostess did
look deathly ill. On impulse she went to her chair.

"She's not used to you," said Miss Milly; and that sentence, too, might
have been addressed to either of the hearers. "Here, you let me."

She pulled the girl aside, and taking Lady Henrietta behind the elbows,
pulled her up. Her hands looked unpleasant against the white skin, but
they were strong, they knew their business, and Lady Henrietta obeyed
them. She went out to the clink of keys. Once again S. Quaife was left,
alone and ripe for mischief, in an unfamiliar room.

She walked about it. No mittened governess had told her not to finger.
She had the illiterate's pleasure in things that may be handled, and the
young creature's delight in novelty. She fingered, therefore, such
novelties as china shepherds whose knee-breeches were beautifully
patterned with French lilies; small oval pictures in which each hair
seemed separately painted; boxes made of tortoiseshell with designs in
silver nails; and a fan whose ivory sticks, held against the light,
showed lattice work and little climbing Chinamen. This last she was
holding before her face when a shadow across the lamp lost her the
Chinamen.

"By yourself?" said Mr. Flusky. "Where's my wife?"

"Bed," S. Quaife answered briefly and rather rudely, because he had
surprised her spying on his possessions.

He did not take the tone amiss. They spoke on equal terms.

"How did she get hold of you?"

"Came and asked me. I didn't know her. I thought it might knock up a
lark. She spoke very nice."

"What's the idea?"

She spoke, with difficulty hardly surmountable, the name of Charles
Adare; something about a letter. "What's he got to do with it?"

"He told her to--" She stopped; but in fact, that was all there was to
say.

"Ay," said Mr. Flusky as if to himself. "All right. You're very welcome."

He went out with that, and left her again to the toys. But she could no
longer give them her attention, so engrossed was she with the spectacle
provided by herself moving about in this house, its question awake and
dinning in her ears.



(xiii)


The mornings came, greeted by locusts. Gradually the air thickened with
the scent of hot grass, and clouds which floated above Sydney's hills at
the sun's rising sank below them, leaving the sky clear and very pale.
This was a month of hot days.

Susan Quaife was beginning to know that true horror of being suddenly
pitchforked from one way of life to another, the difficulty of
discovering a new endurable routine; lack of occupation beset her, like a
foe fighting by the clock, from seven until twelve in the morning. Had it
not been for certain expressions in Mr. Adare's letter which she had come
to decipher she would have packed up her hair-trunk and gone back to the
hot rooms and never-failing occupations of home. Her boredom was such
that she had even truckled to Miss Milly, begged for dusters, and
received a refusal too civil by half.

"Oh, I couldn't think of it. Ladyship's guest--oh, no. Servants is quite
another matter. Unless you was complaining of the dust anywhere. If
that's so, point it out, I'll have it seen to, gladly."

Miss Milly had not forgiven the locked door and the evasion. S. Quaife
had not forgiven Miss ivlilly's attitude at their first colloquy, nor
her: Ladyship says she never heard of you. It was as much the wish to
give battle, as the desire to come within the shadow of Adare, that kept
her in the house. She watched Miss Milly with young eyes that missed
nothing and did not know their own cruelty. She tormented her in such
ways as suggested themselves, George Street ways, imitating her strut so
that the kitchen women could see from their window and laugh, seeking out
beetles to put in her slippers. Miss Milly knew well whence the offences
came and was silent, taking no measures beyond locking her door, and
resolutely wedging her window shut.

Skirmishing thus, Susan made for the kitchen quarters, feeling the
sunlight lift and fall like a series of soft blows as she passed one by
one the thick wooden supports of the verandah. She looked in at the
kitchen window from outside; Miss Milly was not there, old Sal stood by
the stove toasting herself a bit of bread, the murderess sat at ease by a
basin of water and a heap of potatoes. It was an agreeable picture, and
the girl envied both women their air of belonging to the environment,
their occupied hands. They spied her head at the window. Old Sal whipped
away the bread into a fold of her skirt before she recognized and
laughed.

"Cat's away," said old Sal jovially.

Susan accepted this as an invitation to enter and make one with the
kitchen garrison amid its unladylike activities and smells; she began to
help with the potatoes.

"You put me in mind of that young gent," said old Sal, lavishly spreading
dripping. "He was a proper nib, what's this his name was, gone off with
the blacks somewhere--Adare, that's it."

"Adare," echoed S. Quaife, halting her knife. "What about him?"

Old Sal, rocking with pleasure, told how Mr. Adare would come into the
kitchen and take a hand in what was going on. Many's the time he had
accepted from her just such a slice of nice dripping toast as that which
she was preparing. And she recounted the adventure of the poached eggs,
pointing in proof to the fly-blown decorations from which three roses
still were missing. S. Quaife looked long at the gaps, and encouraged old
Sal.

"Go on. What more did he do?"

"I tell you one thing he did. Got her out of the house."

Old Sal indicated with her head the slippers, Miss Milly's emblems, now
restored to their place. "'She getting your lady the lush,'[*] he says to
the master. 'If ladyship's on the lush I know who she gets it from.' He
was sharp, Mr. Adare, he was fly to her."

[* Lush =liquor.]

"What did Mr. Flusky say?"

"Oh, she took herself off, but she left him with a flea in his ear. 'It's
not the lush,' she says, 'she's off the lush,' she says. (And so she was,
while Mr. Adare was here.) 'That's not what you got to look out for,' she
says, 'it's her dab[*] you want to keep your eye on.' Have a bite of
toast, duck?"

[* Dab= bed.]

S. Quaife, understanding and taken with a horrid sick qualm, yet could
not resist the temptation to know more.

"What happened then?"

"Oh, after that ladyship come and give the orders. Him too, Mr. Adare
come. 'Madam Sarah, would you give your attention to the bacon?' he'd
say. 'Just a glance from those eyes as you dish up, that'll curl it
proper.' He was a nib."

"Was that right, that about--"

She could not finish the question. Old Sal, however, understood, and
rolled her eyes sentimentally.

"Ah, I don't blame nobody. When a woman follers her heart--"

"No, but was it?"

"He never," said the murderess unexpectedly from among her potatoes, "for
all Mr. Flusky thought so. I was housemaid, used to make the beds then,
and I'd take my oath--" She stabbed ferociously with her knife in the
direction of the slippers. "It was her. She want a man herself, for all
her tex's. She didn't care for to see ladyship getting right."

"Nor didn't Mr. Flusky, come to that. Well, he was jealous, oh, something
terrible. Put me in mind of Mr. Vaux one day when I'd been out with a
friend, one of the family--But I won't say he had any reason. No, you
don't catch me talking ill of the dead, it's unlucky for one thing."

"Who's dead?"

"This Mr. Adare's dead, you wasn't listening. Mr. Flusky, he fixed up a
rig with Ketch the black, and this poor young feller Adare, he was a
go-alonger, why you could gammon him a penny was a dollar by daylight--"
Old Sal sighed sharply, and sucked dripping off her toast. "Off he went."

"But Ladyship's had a letter. She's read it to me. He's all right--"

"Well, she may. I don't say no. But Mr. Flusky, he's not one to put his
hand to the plough--chah, I'm talking like Milly. He's not one to slip
up. If he says croak,[*] croak it is. Ladyship or no ladyship, letter or
no letter, Mr. Flusky didn't want him, and he's gone. Same as that
Winter." She ate her toast luxuriously, dipping the crust in a cup of
water to soften it. "But it's Milly at the bottom of it. He gets his way,
so does she." Old Sal winked above chumping jaws. "You'll see, once
Ladyship's gone, somebody'll be in her shoes."

[* Croak= die.]

At that, her sharp ears catching a warning jangle in the passage she
thrust the remains of her bread into the fire, smeared her mouth with the
heel of her hand, and became attentive to a seething pot. Miss Milly,
entering, observed Susan Quaife by the table and ignored her.

"Ladyship's tray. Ladyship won't be down to-day."

Susan Quaife had learned a good deal. One of the things learned had sunk
already below the surface of her mind, where it ached--Adare's presumed
death, and the reason for it. A violent anger, the alternative to tears,
possessed her, together with a feeling of powerlessness. She dropped her
potato knife deliberately, and went across the kitchen to where Miss
Milly's slippers, stately twins, reposed under their chair. She picked
them up, dressed her hands in them, and made them scamper ridiculously
over the chair-back.

"Pardon me. That's my property you're making so free with."

Susan Quaife did not answer, beyond obliging the left slipper to perform
a pirouette. She heard behind her back one of the women snort.

"You heard what I said--miss." The right-hand slipper gave a kick and
came down in the fifth dancing position. "Will you kindly put them shoes
down? I'm asking you. I shan't ask twice."

Susan Quaife, letting her shod hands fall by her sides, turned to face
Miss Milly.

"If I don't, what'll you do?"

"Never you mind."

Susan Quaife laughed offensively at a retort which revealed that the
threatener had no further plan.

"Who are you, I'd like to know, coming into my kitchen and taking up my
property as if it belonged to you?"

"You've got to call me Miss, anyway," Susan Quaife answered, clapping the
slippers against her thighs.

"And a right Miss you are, too. Jest not with a rude man, it is written;
nor girl neither. I know my place, if you don't know yours."

"Why don't Ladyship come down?" Susan Quaife asked, defiantly.

"Because she don't choose. She's took ill again."

"Whose fault's that?"

"Ah, there I wouldn't like to say." Miss Milly put off the shrew, and
chose another manner from her armoury; that of the preoccupied housewife,
too busy to attend to children. "Now you put down them slippers and run
along. And keep quiet."

Susan Quaife hesitated a moment, dropped the slippers, and marched out.
It was not the retreat of a beaten army, but rather of one outmanceuvred,
which must seek another position, more favourable, before challenging
again.

But at two o'clock as usual, most punctually, Lady Henrietta did come
down; restless, her hands quivering, she descended to the drawing-room
and the lessons began, Susan sitting at the desk, her legs gathered
ladylike under her. She worked a while to the pointing of a pencil, then
observing how the other's hand now and then dropped like a dead creature,
said in a burst:

"Don't go on. You're sick."

"A little nervous," Lady Henrietta admitted. "It's because I wouldn't
take my medicine."

"You'd ought to take it, then."

"I don't think so," said Lady Henrietta, smiling, but uneasily. "I do
better, I believe, without it."

The lesson proceeded. Reading from the Bible, and from a book called
Tales, by Miss Edgeworth, whom Lady Henrietta had known in Ireland. It
was the phrasing of these pages, perhaps, that touched Susan Quaife, or a
description of one of the young men, or the voice of the reader; for
after a page had been stumbled through, when Lady Henrietta read it again
aloud, to show how it should go, she broke out of a sudden, jumping up
from the low chair:

"What's the good?"

Lady Henrietta closed the book, seemed to gather and reserve herself,
sitting completely still.

"What's the good, what did I come here for? I knew it was silly, I knew
that the first day."

"Has somebody been unkind?"

"I don't care what they say, it's not that."

"If you're not happy--But it is such a pleasure to me to have you with
me."

The girl did not speak, only looked sulkily and long at her feet, as
during their first meeting.

"You are so much younger, it is dull for you. I forget that at seventeen
one wants to have done with schooling."

The girl hesitated, and went forward, breasting her trouble.

"That letter--you know."

"Yes? The letter?"

"Oh," said Susan Quaife loudly, "what's the good? It's cruel, I call it,
when you knew all the time he was dead."

Lady Henrietta heard herself speaking the truth, slow and hollow, a voice
out of a wall.

"I did not wish to know that."

"I was a proper softy," the girl went on angrily. "A proper flat.
Lessons--" she spurned Miss Edgeworth. "As if it would ever have been any
good."

Lady Henrietta said:

"It was for myself. To keep Charles alive in myself. I can't explain
wholly. You are too young."

Susan, astonished for a moment, went back to her anger and the jealousy
that drove it, of whose existence she was not so much as aware.

"Young, am I? Don't you trouble for that. I know all I need to. It was
your husband sent him away, wasn't it? What for did he do that?"

"You've been listening to kitchen talk."

"That's where I belong, the kitchen. That's where I'm best off. I'm not
one for drawing-rooms, never could be."

"His letter--"

"His letter, yes, written just the way he and you talk, so's a person
like me can't understand, so's not to mean anything. Rude about my Dad,
about my way of speaking--"

Susan Quaife's anger was coming close to tears. Lady Henrietta stood up.
She spoke low.

"I have become very fond of you. I never had a child. But you are free,
of course." The girl did not look at her, fighting tears. "When I brought
you here it was because your existence, your face--so like as he
described it--gave me some kind of assurance that he was not dead. I
cannot explain my thoughts very well. Only you must be sure I did not
mean to make you unhappy."

The girl turned away, took up the ivory fan out of its box; the
lattice-work was blurred to her eyes. Behind her, painfully, Lady
Henrietta's voice went on:

"You spoke of my husband. I don't know what they may have told you. But
here is something that I will tell you. Years ago, in Ireland, I shot at
a man and killed him. My husband took the blame for it; transportation
for seven years, and other punishment besides. I spoke to you of that. So
you see--" The voice failed, and resumed more strongly: "You may think of
me what you please. But when you say my husband sent him away, was
responsible for his death, that isn't true. That is a thing nobody must
say."

Susan Quaife muttered:

"I never said it was his fault."

She felt that Lady Henrietta had come behind her; a dry fine hand closed
over hers that held the fan's sticks together. She said sharply:

"Don't do that."

Susan began in good earnest to cry, with a first rasping sob that
surprised and dismayed her so that she could make no further resistance.
She had a vision of her own hand ridiculously prancing in an embroidered
slipper an hour ago, now for no reason brought out of its sphere to lie
between these two ivories. She wrenched it away; then, awkwardly turning,
with her head sought the comfort of the other woman's warmth. She wept
standing, hands by her side, one still clenched upon the fan, while Lady
Henrietta held and very gently rocked her, not speaking.

When the tears ended, and she was drawing away ashamed, Lady Henrietta
said, not as a question:

"You won't leave me."

"Not if you want."

"I do. I do want."



(xiv)


No secretary, pallid from five months' voyaging under hatches, was
despatched by the Assignment Board to the house in Woolloomooloo. Whether
Flusky's refusal to take gentlemen stumped them, whether among the
comb-makers and dancing masters was none who could handle a pen, Winter's
place was not filled; and Miss Milly, coming in to the map-room of an
evening with tea, was accustomed to find the master deep in papers,
moving lips as he slowly and heavily ciphered.

"It's too bad, Mr. Flusky, as if you hadn't got enough work of your own,
with this new school and all."

"I'm not much of a screever. What's that, tea?"

It was tea every night, and every night he asked the same question. Miss
Milly poured a cupful as he liked it, strong, with plenty of sugar.

"Isn't there any writing you'd like to pass on to me?"

"You got your own work, plenty of it."

"It's not work so much as keeping an eye--" She sat down; another nightly
custom. "But of an evening like this I've nothing to do. What's a pair of
hands for only to work? Of course there's some thinks different."

It was as near as she could come to a hit at Lady Henrietta and S.
Quaife, idling out their afternoons over poetry, or stitches on canvas no
use but to frame. As though Flusky had understood her true meaning--and
yet it was his nightly question, invariable as that about the tea--he
asked:

"Ladyship all right?"

"Well, Mr. Flusky, you seen and heard her yourself at dinner-time." But
she had something of her own to add. "She's not taking what the doctor
said she should take."

He swallowed his tea, frowning, and put down the cup near her to be
refilled.

"You know my views, so to speak. It's not for me to force brandy down
anyone's throat, without it's a matter of life and death. Still, I got to
speak for myself. She'll be getting the horrors, we'll have her howling
round the house like a kangaroo dog, and it's me that'll have to settle
with her, not that bit of a girl, and not you neither."

Miss Milly checked and went on, holding the filled cup out to him:

"Mr. Flusky, what's this girl here for? Ladyship's sick, and I'm paid to
put up with her, whatsoever she may do. But there's a thing I won't put
up with. Immorality I won't put up with. That you know. And, if I make no
mistake, we've got some more of that young man's leavings here."

Flusky with an impatient movement of his big hand tried to possess the
saucer; she held to it, a frail bridge. He took up the cup without it,
and walked away to the end of the room. She followed.

"Why, that young Adare before he left, it seems he had this girl's
petticoat off of her. I heard them laughing, her and Ladyship; a
petticoat, fancy that!" She halted the upward lift of her voice. "Wait on
Ladyship, yes; she's your wife, Mr. Flusky. Wait on Mister Adare's
leavings, no. Dead though he may be."

She was ineffectual and knew it, standing with a blue saucer shaking in
her hand, addressing a back that would not turn. She caught at
self-control, knowing that to play her old card was to throw up the game,
and spoke in another tone:

"Excuse me. I was going to say, come what may, I'd never make trouble for
you."

"Ah," said he to the map's sterile white spaces, and turning, put down
his cup upon the saucer which she automatically held to take it.



(xv)


All her life Susan Quaife had worn without self-consciousness Botany wool
in winter, prints in summer; in all her life she had donned one grand
dress only, that with the gum flowers in which she had appeared at the
Patrick's Day ball; and this, even, had been a loan from the gad-about
wife of a sergeant. Now it had been determined, after study of the
fashions in such collections as La Belle Assemblée or The Ladies' Elegant
Souvenir, that Susan should endeavour to possess a waist, bosom,
shoulders; in one word, a shape. She had no true inclination to this,
appreciating the loss of liberty inherent in a shape; yet the prospect of
for once being fine was not without temptation for her. Currency (be
under no obligation) striving with natural vanity, lost the encounter.

The establishment kept by R. Bourne was chosen. The proprietor
recollected Lady Henrietta and set out his best on the counters, pleased
to find his own prophecy come true. They learn, mused the proprietor,
that there's shops as good as George Street; they learn if they stay long
enough.

Susan, out of a kind of shyness, the desire not to seem too eager, hung
back a little from the preliminaries. She heard, however, the shopman's
question:

"Would it be for self, madam, or daughter?"

Lady Henrietta, smiling at the girl over her shoulder, answered clearly:

"For the young lady. You must not show me pinks or browns."

"The colour of the eyes, madam, blue, quite so. I have a periwinkle here,
very suitable--"

Susan, drawing nearer gradually as a bird to crumbs, put out a finger and
thumb. There was no rasping sound as she rubbed the stuff; idleness had
brought her fingertips to a softness correct for such ladylike purposes
as feeling silk.

"Miss prefers that shade? Very sweet, very much the young lady--"

Susan restrained the muttered denial: No young ladies here. The shopman
draped her, casting extravagant silks upon her shoulders like some
Eastern potentate adorning an odalisque, rapturously bringing out his
most treasured blandishments, standing back, darting forward: "Certainly,
madam; harmonizes if I may use the word--new out from England this last
week--nothing at the price to be seen in Sydney, don't care where you
look--if His Excellency had a lady, she couldn't do better--three shades,
periwinkle, sea-green, white--And the styles, madam, have you any, so to
speak, notions?"

They discussed the styles; shoulders widened with lappets, three flounces
or four, not so much lace being used nowadays, beautiful piece of
Limerick on madam's gown, nothing too elaborate, nothing conspicuous,
nothing in the way of a spencer, Sydney very warm, quite so.

Susan, standing apart, heard this polite interchange of shopping jargon
with contempt, yet felt a pang of fear. Silks and muslins, with the
behaviour necessary to and consequent upon silks and muslins, set bonds
invisible upon their wearer. No walking in dust, no impromptu meals, no
running out hatless for any young lady cased and billowing in these
materials. They implied too complete acceptance of a new way of life; the
road to escape was closed by them, George Street cut off, invisible
behind their sheen. She came behind Lady Henrietta to say:

"It's too much, too many. One's enough--I don't really ought to have even
that."

The shopman, silenced by this interjection unique in his experience of
young ladies, heard Lady Henrietta make an answer which rendered the
situation less intelligible still.

"My dear, allow me this indulgence."

"I'll never be able to wear them."

"We'll get plainer things for morning."

"For mourning?" The girl took the word at its sinister value, stammered
out something about having no right and turned away. The shopman, shrewd,
puzzled, stood looking from one to the other. Lady Henrietta rose quickly
to go to her.

"I didn't mean that. Indeed, I think you have a right--But I meant,
dresses for the day."

"I couldn't wear those at home, it would look--they'd laugh."

"But you'll be with me."

The girl's look denied that and dropped. She hated herself for seeming
ungracious, all the while a vision of George Street closing frightened
her.

Lady Henrietta said no more, leisurely returned to the counter.

"Be so kind as to put aside lengths of those colours I have selected. The
matter of the style and making I prefer to leave for the present. We have
other establishments to visit."

She called to the girl, bowed pleasantly to the shopman dashed down from
his heights, and went out. He, bowing, ruminated:

"There's a queer start. Smooth, the lady, very smooth. A girl jib at silk
dresses, that's new. That's never her daughter, I'd tell my oath; speaks
too rough. Something up there. A madam picking up a girl? That's like it,
getting her in her clutches, price of shame, eh? My silks--"

And he regarded them, turning to do so; had some momentary idea of making
a noble scene when the madam came back, as she would surely do, having
paid; relinquished this on second thoughts as not being business; and
contented himself with watching from his door and shaking his head at the
progress of the two figures down the street.

The figures were arguing:

"You said--"

"I know."

The heat had increased while they were withdrawn in the shop; it was now
insistent. Dust suddenly lifted above a crew of cur dogs darting from a
side street, and hung after they had passed, drawn up almost like vapour
by the power of the sun. The flies were pestilent.

"It is of no use, then, to go to other shops?"

The girl answered by catching at her companion's arm; a vehicle had
almost run them down while they marched thus blindly, voicing alarms and
persuasions. From this vehicle, unexpectedly, a voice first and then a
gentleman descended.

"Lady Henrietta, surely! Do, if you please, give me the pleasure of
taking you up out of the dust, and your companion too."

They halted, and within the next minute Susan Quaife, elated (for which
she reproved herself), had shaken hands with His Excellency. She kept her
mouth shut while her companion and this legendary being exchanged
amenities.

"We became tired of our shopping, and there is an hour before the
carriage meets us."

"I might offer you a chair at Government House; but I believe we should
all be cooler in Mrs. Macquarie's seat."

"Oh, by all means. That would be delightful."

The vehicle turned, making for that pleasant road three miles long which
a Governor's wife had caused to be made within the Government Domain. One
rocky point near the shore still was known as her Chair, and no place
could be cooler on such a day. As the horses swung, the harbour water
shone like pewter between the trees; it was too windless a day for
colour. At the Chair they dismounted, the Governor scanning his watch.

"It so happens that I have an appointment half an hour from now. Wilks
shall set me down and come back for you. Meanwhile, let us be easy. It is
this matter of your husband's school, by the way, that takes me from
you."

Lady Henrietta bowed, after an instant's hesitation. She was smiling, and
appeared to the sidelong eye of Susan Quaife untroubled; not the same
woman who, in the dust of King Street, had almost tearfully pleaded.
Sham, thought Susan; stalling it off; but she envied this armour of
manner, so supple, so readily donned, proof as her own silences could
never be against social ambush.

"This country must stand on its own feet, says your husband; breed and
train its people to its own conditions which are unique, rather than
depend upon the caprices of English crime for craftsmen. At present the
malignancy of individuals at home is such that you cannot catch them in
misdemeanours; all the farmers and carpenters and builders that we need
are resolutely respectful of the law, they will not be criminals, the law
cannot transport them. Meanwhile our horses here go unshod and our houses
blow away. It is a state of affairs which Mr. Flusky designs to alter."

"Are you telling me that my husband has _said_ all this?"

"Well--" His Excellency laughed. "Mr. Flusky believes in deeds rather
than words. His view is that you cannot mistake the meaning of a blow or
a five-pound note, whereas you may listen to a lawyer for hours and be
never the wiser. But I don't need to interpret Mr. Flusky to his wife."

He addressed a remark to Susan Quaife:

"I believe that deeds alone will not do for young ladies, though. They
like something more poetical."

"Miss Quaife was born here," said Lady Henrietta quickly. "She knows the
value of performance very well."

"Does she? Then she is something rare among young ladies. I had one
refuse me once because I could not read a charade for her." His
Excellency went on, staring at the ships lying like logs, their ensigns
drooping, down in the airless bay. "Someone like Charles Adare; there is
your real ladies' man. He has other stuff in him too, but it has been
overlaid with chat and agreeableness. It remains to be seen what this
country will do for him."

There was no answer to that. His Excellency, looking round at his
audience, perceived that both faces were perfectly white, and that the
elder's eyes were fixed upon him. Swiftly he recollected the gossip that
had prevailed before Adare's departure. Some truth in it, then? Well, no
harm done if there were. He went on, through the silence:

"Six months of wandering may have taught him something other than how to
cross a drawing-room. He has paid for the lesson, though. I daresay Mr.
Flusky told you of his illness after the rescue."

"What?" interjected Susan Quaife. The word came out like a shot fired
among the rocks of the Chair, loud enough to echo. The Governor looked at
her, a quick questioning glance.

"My husband told me as much," said Lady Henrietta in a voice level as the
water in the bay. "It has been a most cruel experience."

"They found no gold. I'm glad of that, at least. A young country, like a
young man, should not start life with too much or too easy money."

"What is your latest news of Charles?"

"Why, there is nothing beyond what I gave your husband three weeks ago,
that Dixon's messenger brought. The next, I hope, will come from our
young man in person. He will be in time for Mr. Flusky's
foundation-stone-laying, where--" His Excellency took out his watch and
rose--"where I shall most certainly meet you again."

"Most certainly," she echoed, and gave him her hand, not rising.

"Good luck to your purchases. Wilks shall return for you both."

Susan was looking at him without moving, mouth open as if to speak; then,
suddenly, she thrust out her hand and he felt it cold through the silk
glove. Another of them? questioned his Excellency's eyes. Not Charles,
surely? Odd company for her Ladyship. A pretty creature, though.

The horses went off at a languid trot. Susan Quaife took a quick deep
breath, and let it out, half-whistling, looking after the carriage. She
stood with her feet apart like a boy, and surveyed Lady Henrietta as she
sometimes watched Miss Milly, cruelly alert. She said, obscurely:

"Well. So that's all right."

Lady Henrietta did not budge. Her head was leant backwards, her eyes had
closed, as though she were recollecting or intently listening. The girl
went on:

"I never shall get what your game is. You knew all the time--all this
time." Silence; no denial. "Why isn't there nobody that will talk
straight?" She paused, forging jealous suspicions, then voiced them. "Was
it to show me up? I know how I look by you. You talk right, I don't.
Knives and forks and reading--all that. If anyone saw us together it's me
would look the fool. In spite of everything, all that brandy what the
doctor ordered. Fond of me, bender! I'm off home."

She stood a moment, gave a little stamp like a horse, and set off, almost
running, down Mrs. Macquarie's road.



(xvi)


The girl walked fast. The hot roads seemed short to her; the dust, though
she blinked at it, was powerless to annoy. She was on a pinnacle of anger
up above it all. Her young pride puzzled away at its wound like an animal
at a thorn. She was white in spite of the day's heat as she turned in at
the doorway under the barber's sign.

Half-way across the shop on her way to the stairs she stopped. A nose
that she incredulously recognised was between her father's fingers, his
razor was clearing soap, together with some very fine fair hair, from a
lip more familiar in dreams than in fact. She stood; and for the first
time in her life the thought came to her mind: How do people feel that
are going to faint, going to die? Then Mr. Adare, one cheek white, the
other ruddy, was beside her. She held to him instinctively for an
instant.

"I'm back, my dear."

"I see you are," said she; pitiful translation of all that was in her
heart.

"Can I speak with you?"

"You better let Dad finish," said she, her eyes on his soapy cheek.

"Damn Dad. (No offence, Mr. Quaife.) Where can I talk to you? Let's go
and walk somewhere."

Mr. Adare impatiently wiped the soap off with a handkerchief. She said
nothing, steadily looked at him. She heard her father's voice:

"No going out of my shop like that, like a half-clipped prad.[*] No, you
don't, Mister."

[* Prad=horse.]

Susan pushed open a door that led to the kitchen. The customers waiting,
of whom one had already established himself in the forsaken chair,
exchanged glances. Mr. Quaife himself executed a complex gesture
involving both hands and one eye, of which the meaning was not to be
mistaken; Gent, spoony, on the square, she's hobbled him. Adare shut the
door.

The kitchen was small and hot. It smelled soapy; steam rising from towels
drying on their horses clouded its one small window. Susan, for something
to do, was wiping this with her hand.

"That's it," said Mr. Adare. "Plenty of light. Turn round now, let's look
at you." He took both her hands, the damp and the dry, and turned her.
"Different, a little. Your hair is done another way. I like it. Susan,
have you remembered me?" She nodded. "Is that all? Remembered now and
then? With kindness? Or indifferently? That fellow I ran away from on the
night of the ball, that silly young man who talked too much and made me
angry. Is that how you thought of me?" She moved her head slightly; do
what she would, she could not look at him full in the eyes. "Not like
that? Well, I'll tell you a secret. It isn't the way I've been thinking
of you either, away in the bush."

Suddenly she recollected the anger which had been startled out of her at
sight of him, and pulled her hands away.

"What is it?" said he, letting her go. "I won't touch you, if you don't
want. But I don't deny it's something I've contemplated more than a
little these last months. Touch of you; sight of you. I saw you most
clearly--here's a queer thing--the night I thought I was dying."

"Have you been very sick? You're thin."

"Very sick," said he gravely. "Sick. Lost. Lonely. It was the devil of an
expedition."

"It'll put you off, I shouldn't wonder."

He answered the half-expressed meaning, her fear lest these past unhappy
and dangerous months should have sickened him of the country, with an
outburst that astonished her.

"Susan, you don't know it, you've never put your nose out of George
Street. Sydney's nothing, a makeshift. But the country's great and
exciting. Susan, it's country that could feed the world and that you can
be quiet in. Put me off! It's got me; I can never leave it now."

"I'd have thought--"

"Don't think. You haven't seen it. You will, though, with me. Come on,
and we'll forget all the barbers' shops in creation."

She backed a step away from him, and at last met his eyes. They were
honest and eager, above ridiculous cheeks that did not match. She said,
watching for the expression to change:

"I've been out at Woolloomooloo these last weeks--"

"You have?" said he, catching her up. "God bless Lady Hattie! There's a
dear, there's a great woman. No wonder you're changed; just a little,
just enough to be delightful. I wrote to her, did you know? And asked her
to find you."

"She wasn't fair to me. She--"

"Susan," said Mr. Adare with simplicity, "we're together again. We hardly
know anything about each other yet. Does Lady Hattie matter?"

She would not give in so soon. Her instinct warned her that anger was
barren; told her, too, that he was honest. But she could not yield up,
with only this brief parley, her freedom. She said stubbornly:

"She's your sort. Talk, and the way she dresses."

"What's that to do with it? What's the matter with you?" Susan said
nothing. "One moment, just before we go on to more important matters,
just to ease my mind. Is she keeping off the drink?"

"No," Susan answered, too readily, triumphantly, "she isn't."

"Observe," said he, half-smiling, "the results of schooling. Six months
ago you'd have said 'She ain't.'" He was grave again, a young man in
earnest, Lady Hattie forgotten. "Six months ago, I was a bit of a fool.
I've learned too. If I'd stayed on in this town, coming here every day
for a shave, carrying on playboy fashion--I don't say, my dear, it
wouldn't have been an honest pursuit of you. But it would have been
ignorant; it would have been the pursuit of a man who was still running
after himself. Look at me."

She obeyed, with an effort that was grievous to something in her, the
coltish free spirit. He did not attempt to touch her.

"I'm not changed. (I still talk too much, you see.) Nobody changes, even
in the shadow of death. But such as I am, I know and can use myself. Will
you have me?"

She held back, still valiantly battling, refusing her own desire to give
and have done. He went on softly:

"You are like the country I have been seeing. It is sullen, silent; but
if its beauty is for you, then there is nothing to compare, nothing so
near heaven."

She said, feeling the nearness of tears:

"You're changed."

"I believe you liked the playboy better. Did you? He's there still, he's
in grain. You can't kill him, thank God, not with a hatchet." He put a
hand suddenly to the stubbed side of his face, laughed, and rasped
fingers back and forth among the bristles. "Look at me again. You behold
in Charles Adare's visage at this moment the epitome of his soul. Smooth,
the playboy. Rough, the man. Choose which, and choose now. Ah, Susan,
quickly, choose--"

With a queer little rueful smile she came to him, hesitated; put a hand
first to this cheek, then to that; but at last kissed his mouth.



(xvii)


"Why only two places to-night?"

"That girl's not back."

"Ladyship coming?"

"Oh, she's coming. There's no one else, without you'd ask me to sit down
with you, Mr. Flusky." Miss Milly laughed. "There's your favourite
ox-cheek pie tonight."

He sat down to wait for Lady Henrietta, dragging from his pocket a
newspaper, tightly folded for convenience of handling. When she came in
he looked up quickly as if to guess at her mood, and asked:

"Susan not here to-night?"

"She has gone home. It was only a short visit."

He nodded, and began to help the dishes. When their two plates were
filled, his with pie, hers with vegetables, he looked at her again, this
time long. She answered with a shallow smile and began to play with her
food; accepted the wine he poured for her but did not drink it, tilting
the liquor, coloured like wallflowers, this way and that to catch the
light. It gave her eyes occupation; they were steadier than her hand.
They sat in silence until the hot dish, the remove, had been cleared.
Then Lady Henrietta said, looking into the wine-glass held with both
hands before her:

"Tell me something, Sam, if you please. How long have you known that
Charles Adare was alive?"

He took time to answer, and before the words could come she had
forestalled them.

"You have known for weeks. Sir Richard told you. I begin--I begin to think
you are not human. Did you want, then, to torment me? I have suffered."

He got up, thrust his hands deep in his pockets, and began to walk slowly
up and down beside the table. "The girl, too. She had cause for
suffering. Different from mine, but it made her wretched enough."

"The girl!" The word surprised, halted him. "What's it to do with her?"

"She loves Charles."

Flusky resumed his march. She went on:

"I should have explained, but I felt a kind of delicacy--We have not
spoken much together these last months; and then, I was not sure you
would understand my reasons. It seemed a natural thing, somehow, to take
up and comfort the creature Charles had begun to love."

"Natural?" said he, with a jerk.

"Why not? You have done harm there, too, more than you know. I had become
fond of the child, and she of me, I think. She won't trust me again."

He seemed not to hear. He was half a dozen sentences behind.

"Me torment you. What did you mean by that? Suffering--why?" He was at
the back of her chair, hands on her shoulders, heavily pressing. "Hattie?
Answer, can't you?"

She sprang up, lifting against his heavy hands as though they had been
the fringes of a scarf. The glass of wine went over, in the hurry of that
unthinking movement.

"You have waited all these weeks to ease my mind. Was it nothing that I
have been thinking you a murderer? Did you not care?"

He stood quite still. She caught at his coat, shaking him, enraged by the
immobility which seemed to show him indifferent to her distress. "I have
not forgotten it for one waking moment. I understood, I did pity you, I
was in despair because you had done a horrible thing for no reason. No
reason! I had not even that consolation. I could only think that you had
done murder because of me, right or wrong, and hate myself, and resolve--"
She shook her head; the outburst of strength was failing. She sat back
against the table. "All this time you have allowed me to be unhappy. Why?
Why did you not tell me?"

Flusky picked up the glass, filled it, and held the wine to her mouth.
She shook her head, straining backwards away from it. He hesitated,
then emptied the glass himself, and set it down. He said, puzzling it
out:

"It was because of me, then? Not because of him?"

The suffering, the drinking, the fantasies, the frenzies--_it_
comprehended them all; much virtue in _it_. She answered pitifully:

"You should have known. What do I care for Charles Adarc?"

He put his right hand behind her head, pulling it forward and upwards
till her eyes were level with his a foot away.

"You was different with him. You seemed ashamed, like, to be yourself for
me. Old Quaife's girl--anybody; not me. You couldn't even keep off the
liquor for me."

"Because I was no use to you, worse than useless, and I was ashamed. Not
of you. Of myself. And so I tried to escape. It was the only way I knew.
I'm not very brave."

That puzzled him. Before he could take her meaning she spoke again.

"Give me some water, if you please."

He stood away from her, tumbled some water into a glass and held it out.
She put her fingers in it, ran them over her eyelids and forehead, waited
a moment. Her pallor, the moisture on her forehead, made her look like a
woman dying. Obscurely Flusky seemed to feel this, for he frowned and
brushed his sleeve across the drops to dry them. She said:

"This morning, when Sir Richard told me about Charles, I pretended I knew
of it. Afterwards, Susan was angry; she thought I really had known. She
was bewildered, she accused me. And then she ran away, thinking I had
deceived and hurt her, purposely. I said nothing. I let her go. And I
lied to Sir Richard, rather than--rather than allow them to suppose you
and I were not at one." She paused. "It cost me something."

There was silence. A night bird cried, and cried again, passing the
window unseen. Flusky put a hand to her hair; the head was bent, and
candlelight showed a silver streak that by day she kept in hiding. She
did not speak, nor he, until softly, stroking the silver hair, he asked
almost timidly:

"Would he ever marry her, d'ye think? A lord's son--" He paused. His
brief laugh implied recognition and astonishment. "It would be like us,
only t'other way round."

"With a better chance. Better hope. Both free."

He turned his hand swiftly at that, stroking her above the eyes, round
the cars; the movement of a man gentling a timid mare. She leaned her
head to the hand, and said, with shut eyes, talking levelly as though in
sleep:

"I have always failed. All my schemes have been too big for me. What
great things I have tackled, what ugly places I have ridden at, Sam! Too
big, at least for me. The first of them all it was that broke my nerve,
my brother's death; I never got past that, it was always with me, the
memory, even here where nobody knew. I ought to have stayed at home and
married a nonentity, some squireen or other, and been safe. Instead, I
took you, and did murder and never paid for it, and came out to the ends
of the earth, and tried to die--All too big for me, all a failure."

Above her head he was expressionless, as always when he did not
understand and would not commit himself. At the word failure, however,
his hand paused.

"If only I had looked different--who was the queen once in Ireland, that
had red hair and stood six foot high? That is how Charles saw me. But I
could never reign or rule, I can only see and do one thing at a time--not
the wisest thing. If I had looked like Milly, perhaps, I should never
have tried all these heroics. Your hand makes my head feel cooler."

He pressed the heel of his hand for a second hard against her forehead,
then resumed the go and come of fingers lightly over her eyes. She said,
as though it mattered very little one way or the other:

"I wonder is it too late? I wonder am I going to die after all?"

He said:

"None of that. I'll see to that."

"Rub me well down, and give me a bran mash." She laughed suddenly. "Young
ladies require something more poetical."

"What?"

"Something Sir Richard said. Charles, he meant. But Charles is a
difficult sort of poet. He can only work in flesh and blood. He made
something of me for a while, only I was not young enough; and then, I
didn't love him. She, though, Susan. He may turn her out an ode or, I
don't know, a sonnet to Australia Felix."

Flusky halted his hand to ask, in that lingo which best served his
thought:

"Are we squared, then? You and me?"

She answered in the same slang of the hulks; the words sounded odd in her
crisp speech: "Fake away."

He continued the stroking movements for a minute or two longer, his eyes
fixed upon the cupboard in the corner of the room. She heard him chuckle.

"Sam, what?"

"It's just I was thinking; might as well bury that black fellow's head."

She laughed, a relief from tension. He turned, reached to the cupboard
and pulled the thing out by its stringy hair. As he held it a sound
caught his attention and he stood fixedly. Lady Henrietta heard too the
sound of footsteps on the gravel, whisperings, and a man's laugh. She
rose at the laugh, but did not speak. It was Flusky who said:

"Somebody out there."

Then the steps were on the verandah, coming towards them swiftly; like a
pair of lovers in a play, Charles Adare and Susan stood in the long
window, holding hands. Flusky very quietly, and not looking at the table,
put the thing down upon it, and after one glance that identified the
newcomers, watched his wife. She held out her arms, saying one word:

"Children!"

They came to her. She put an arm about each, bowed her head between them,
and kissed the girl's cheek first, then the young man's. Flusky let out
his breath as he had been used to do after watching a horse clear safely
some dangerous leap. Adare, as usual, was the first to find words.

"I've brought this toad to make her apologies. She had the impudence to
give you some uneasiness, running off in a temper. Do your civility,
Miss. You see, she's obstinate, she can't bear to be in the wrong--"

"Let her alone," said Lady Henrietta, and checked the girl's attempt to
speak. "That's over. You're happy. Oh, Charles, how foolish you've been,
and how glad I am!"

"Sit you down," said Flusky. He brought forward two chairs
simultaneously, one in each heavy hand, and Adare, with the insight that
sometimes informed him, knew that Flusky did this by way of a gesture of
friendliness which yet should dodge the ceremonial handshake. It is not
his fault that I am not dead; but I can't detest the fellow rightly,
blast his soul. Thus mused the young man, smiling, nodding his thanks.

His illness had left him a small legacy of nervousness; a knock on the
door caught him midway to his seat and jerked him upright. But it was
only Miss Milly entering the room to clear away, her satellite, the petty
thief, following with a large tray held firmly against her waist.

Milly saw Adare at once. She stood in the doorway as in a frame; her
mouth opened; then she shut it and came forward, beckoning the woman in,
to go about her work. Adare would not have that silence. It threatened.
He assailed it.

"Don't take our glasses away, leave them, the evening's only begun. D'you
see me, Miss Milly? The bad penny, the black sheep, the rolling stone
come home with devil a morsel of moss--no, Flusky, we never got sniff of
any gold. Hullo, and there's my White Rose of York, isn't it? Promoted to
the parlour. Long may she reign. And Milly too, so long as the Lord will
let her. Did you know I was getting married? Here--" He dashed some wine
out into a couple of glasses and held them out. "Toss this down to the
health of the happiest pair, and the most improbable (present company
excepted) that ever Capricorn threw together. Capricious--to spring about
like goats; that's what the word derives from, that's us. Come on, now,
haste to the wedding!"

He began to hum that tune, presenting glasses with a bow. White Rose
stretched out a hand for the liquor eagerly enough. Miss Milly struck it
away as her fingers touched it, with a jerky single movement of the arm,
the rest of her body remaining still. She said to Adare:

"So you're back. Well, they've had their warning." She turned to the
thief. "Clear this table. That's what you're here for."

"You can leave it, Milly," Lady Henrietta bade her.

"What's your drawing-room for?" Miss Milly retorted. "Here it is, eight
o'clock. How'm I to keep this house? Sitting over wine too. A new thing
for Mr. Flusky."

"Don't argue." That was Flusky intervening. "If ladyship says leave the
table, leave it."

"I hope you've got no fault to find with me, Mr. Flusky. I do my work,
and plenty more that isn't my work."

"Yes," said the girl suddenly and angrily, "plenty of that. What did you
mean, they've had their warning?"

"I don't pretend," Milly went on, speaking to Flusky, "to understand the
Lord's ways, they're past finding out. I said to you months ago all I had
to say, with respect to this young man. If you take him back you'll be
sorry, you'll go down into the pit, that's what you'll do. And your wife
with you."

"Why can't you answer?" the girl badgered. "Go on, say out what you've
got against him, without all this Bible--"

Miss Milly disregarded her, turning to Adare.

"It was always the way, from the moment you set foot in this house.
Nothing how it ought to be, everything upside down, even to the women in
the kitchen."

Adare gave a frankly lewd laugh at that. She went on, trembling with
anger, hands pressed together at her waist:

"Yes, you laugh. A mocker and an evil liver, that's you, Mister Charles
Adare. This girl don't know what she's getting, but whatever she gets
it's good enough for her, and that I go bail for."

The girl had come forward, rejecting Lady Henrietta's hand that implored
her to be quiet. She stood by Adare, feet a little apart, looking at the
woman who, like a gaoler, carried keys at her waist. Her feeling for the
young man, that possessiveness which could not find its way out except
brokenly when she spoke to him, took this chance; happiness flowing into
cruelty, lacking other outlet.

"He's going to marry me. That's more than you've ever been able to say,
or ever will, for all your sermons."

"I don't have to talk to you, Miss--" and the title carried a sneer; like
the word 'woman,' used thus in quarrel. Miss Milly turned upon the thief,
staring, the tray still pressed against her waist: "You be off to the
kitchen."

"Lady Hattie," said Adare, a little alarmed by these feminine exchanges,
"don't you think perhaps your drawing-room is after all the place for
us?"

Lady Henrietta rose with a look at Flusky, who obeyed it. But Susan did
not budge. Mr. Adare's hand at her waist felt a trembling; she took no
notice of its gentle persistent pressure.

"Say that again, what you said about him. Say it again, and I'll tell
what I know."

"You?" Miss Milly laughed briefly. "What you know won't set the harbour
afire." She leaned forward, dropping her voice. "I don't wish you no ill,
you're young, don't know no better. You think twice, that's all. I'm only
a servant, well, a wise servant shall have rule over a son that causeth
shame. And that's what he causes, wherever he goes."

"Who wanted to marry Mr. Flusky?" Susan cried out suddenly, pointing, and
beginning to dance like a street child. "Who wanted ladyship out of the
way? Who's been planning, and scheming, and waiting to jacket her?[*]
Mrs. Milly Meddler."

[* To jacket=to get rid of a person by foul means, in order to take his
place.]

At that there was a moment's silence; silence absolute. The tray broke
it, dropping with a clang from the satellite's waist; her feet sounded a
panic retreat as she fled. Flusky brought his fist down upon the table,
and the glasses hummed to it. Lady Henrietta came swiftly back into the
room.

"Oh, no, no! Sam, don't listen." She was urgent, her pleading protected
not Miss Milly's secret only, but her own. "And you, Susan--Charles, take
her away, don't let her be loud and foolish. It's unkind, ridiculous, I
can't bear it, I can't indeed. Milly--"

She went towards the housekeeper, stretching one hand in a gesture that
said: It is not my fault. I pity you, I have not betrayed you. Miss Milly
gave her a stare and moved at last. She put fingers to her waist,
unhitched with a single wrench the bunch of keys from her belt, and
slashed them down upon the open defenceless hand. Lady Henrietta gave a
little gasp, but caught the keys, and turned quickly upon her husband,
whose shadow she had seen move forward. He spoke, one single savage word.

"She will go," said Lady Henrietta, pressing him back with her wounded
hand upon his breast, the other clutching at his fist. "Don't hurt her,
don't speak to her, let her alone. She will go now."

Miss Milly went, not speaking, head erect. Flusky took his wife's hand,
and looked at the reddened palm. Adare saw the man's face, and felt the
curious discomfort which youth endures at sight of older persons moved by
passions properly the patrimony of the young. At once he looked away, and
thereby spied upon the table the impassive head.

"Flusky, what do you say? Let's have a wake!" The man's eyes questioned
him; he nodded downwards. "This fellow. He ought to have Christian
burial. Lady Hattie hates him, he's indecent, and he's been against the
law of the land ever since Governor Darling's day. Well, I dare say he
mayn't be a Christian, but burial's burial. Let's have up some of the
blacks to howl for him."

He was wrapping the head in a napkin as he spoke, hiding strawy hair,
sea-blue stains, in linen whitened by Miss Milly's own hand. Flusky said:

"No fear. They'd dig him up and sell him again, and wear the money on
strings round their necks."

"You may be right," Adare agreed, busy. "They are mercenary devils,
different from us, who only want money for what we can do with it." He
finished his task, and straightened, holding the thing up by the napkin's
ears. "Farewell to an unknown! Was he a hero? Or a nonentity? Or just a
damn nuisance to all concerned, like most of us gentlemen? No answer. No
matter. We'll do without the blacks. 'So let me be thy choir, and make a
moan Upon the midnight hours--' Will you come, Sue?"

The girl came to him, but Lady Henrietta shook her head as the pair
paused beside her. They went out together as they had come, through the
window. Adare had taken up a three-branched candlestick from the table,
and held this to light them down the path. Their steps sounded crisply at
first, then were dulled by the grass. The two left in the room as the
light dwindled found themselves assailed by scents from the antipodean
garden, stirring memories to which these flowers had no claim, which were
the due of lavenders or lilacs twelve thousand miles and twenty years
away. Lady Henrietta spoke at last, on a deep breath:

"Perhaps one needs to be born here."

He, for once, answered her thought unerringly:

"It's not the country for your sort. I'm all right here. That girl too;
she'll do all right."

"It has beauty," said she, looking out at jacaranda trees showing ghostly
through the dark, and stars appearing, suddenly as lamps lit, across the
bay.

"I don't know for that," said Flusky. "That's not my lay. It gives a cove
a chance."

Then they both sat quietly, listening to young voices downhill, and the
pulse of the tide below them.



(xviii)


His Excellency Sir Richard Bourke stood up before a number of gentlemen
by profession and one gentleman by courtesy, whose attention was focused
upon his boots. To launch the expected oratory a platform had been
erected, behind whose bunting rose the skeleton of a building not yet
finished with bricks and mortar. This in turn took for its background the
oyster-grey dullness, lucent, of a December sky. Said Sir Richard:

"I have not been long among you, but one thing I have observed, one
characteristic of the inhabitants of the Colony. You have a strong desire
of independence; you are ready, you are willing and able, to help
yourselves. Let me say that these are qualities apt to command my most
hearty admiration. I am a soldier, I have fought in two hemispheres, and
I say, out of that experience, the best soldiers are not always the most
biddable. You say: We are at peace now. Long may we remain so! But this
is a matter of universal application, and I trust that, should war ever
come, you will not let them drill this excellent independence out of you.
Each man on his own feet, each man able to maintain himself honestly.
That, I believe, is what you would wish as a community for the
individuals who grow up and seek to thrive among you. You wish it and
work for it. Nay, you are prepared to pay for it; and that is the
criterion whereby, in any country, you may find out what it is that the
people honestly desire. Mr. Archdeacon, I tread in your preserves, but we
have authority for believing that where a man's treasure is there is his
heart also. All honour to those who bestow their treasure and their
hearts wisely."

The gentlemen by profession swelled their chests, hearing themselves thus
extolled. The gentleman by courtesy continued to regard his boots.

"A man finds himself--never mind the circumstances--in this newest of the
colonies of our Crown. He works; he does well for himself through natural
aptitude and constant labour. One day he rattles the money in his pocket,
and he thinks: I had no help to make this money. But I should have been
all the better for help. I should have been glad of a chance to study,
and learn the ins and outs of a trade. So I will give to others, younger
men, the opportunity I have not had myself. With that your respected
fellow-citizen Mr. Samson Flusky"--more nods and glances--"says to me:
Will you sanction the building of a Mechanics' Institute here in Sydney?
A place where young men of the labouring classes may go and be taught
letters and a trade. I say to him: Not only will I sanction it, but I
authorize you to use for your building some of the labour at my disposal.
When you have chosen your site and designed that building, let me know,
and I shall make it my business to give it public approval.

"Here I stand, ladies and gentlemen, in pursuance of that promise. Your
fellow-citizen is performing a public-spirited action. I believe that
this Institute, when the roof is on it and the instructors at work inside
it, will do service to your community. Under this stone which I am to lay
have been placed, according to custom, three coins: gold, silver and
copper. They may stand, the gold for opportunity, the silver for
knowledge, the copper for application. I have no more to say, except to
hope most heartily that the moral riches, of which these coins are
emblematic, may ever belong to the young men of this city, and that these
same young men, when they come to handle their riches, will not forget
what they owe to Mr. Samson Flusky."

There was dignified applause. A few ill-chosen spectators at the rear of
the crowd shouted references to the need of a professorship of prigging,
but were hushed down. The denizens of the platform exchanged remarks
behind hands while a hod with mortar and a bright new trowel were
preparing for His Excellency's hands. "Confound the fellow, who wants
free labourers? We shall have to pay 'em wages. Mark my word, this is
the thin end of the wedge, they'll be stopping assignment. I haven't
paid a labourer for fifteen years, I don't propose to begin. Still, it
looks well, a Mechanics' Institute progressive, independent. Oh, it
looks well enough. I don't know which is worse, a Governor with notions,
or a Governor without. Ah, but this one, say what you like, can sit a
horse. Then, by God, he ought to know better than to cock up the
emancipists and currency individuals in this way. Flusky won't make a
speech, will he? Won't he? His Excellency's talking--"

"I declare the foundation stone of this Institute well and truly laid."

The platform dignitaries raised a sound that was not exactly cheering,
but a sort of decent approving clamour. Their wives at the front of the
audience exchanged speculations.

"Her ladyship--absurd it sounds in these wilds--does not appear?"

"Her health--at least, that is the excuse."

"May not this failing of hers be hereditary? 'Drunk as a lord,' you know.
There is often some measure of truth in a proverb."

"Oh, we shall soon have her about again. The young man, you know, is
back."

"Not--?"

"Yes, indeed, Mr. Charles Adare is back. _And_ staying with them in
Woolloomooloo."

"Very interesting."

"Most interesting."

"My husband tells me he saw them together yesterday in Sydney; she in
high good looks."

"And he?"

"Oh, my husband did not observe. Men do not notice other men, you know,
unless there is business of some kind. There is your individual getting
up to speak."

The ladies, momentarily quiet, studied Flusky, then resumed their
prattle.

"One cannot really blame her. Vulgar, gross, the way his hair is
plastered! For a lady by birth, on a public occasion such as this! I too
should make an excuse, I believe, not to be present."

"Especially if you had somebody more presentable to occupy you at home."

"Hush! He's to speak. Count the dropped h's." Mr. Samson Flusky was
brief.

"I thank His Excellency. We got plenty schools for book-learning. This
will be a school to teach hands their job, what this settlement needs, to
my mind, more'n books. What we want out here is to think our own
thoughts, instead of other people's. This school will do what it can. I
thank you for giving it a send-off."

He paused, there was clapping, but he did not sit down. The astonished
uniforms heard him say further:

"It's a thirsty day. There's a tent rigged up--" his hand indicated its
whereabouts. "If you care to take a glass of anything, my wife asks me to
say you're very welcome."

He sat down, and there was further clapping. Gentlemen sought their
wives' eyes, exchanged twitches of the eyebrows and nods. The ladies,
inquisitive, yet would not commit themselves. The Governor, they decided
wordlessly, unanimously as a flock of birds, must give the cue; and when
it was evident from his hand on Flusky's arm that the Governor was to
honour the tent, they fell in with the utmost naturalness at his heels,
agreeably commenting on the proceedings. So good to take the trouble,
quite an impressive ceremony, if only there were a similar institute for
cooks, surely not impossible, why not consult--the name twittered
agreeably on their tongues--Lady Henrietta? The foremost group ceased its
chatter, with interest perceiving that "my wife" was no mere civil
formula, it stood for her ladyship in the flesh. They peered forward to
catch sight of her.

She was coming out of the tent, a parasol tilted to keep from her eyes
the glare of the leaden sky. By her side--the ladies glanced at each
other--walked Mr. Adare, so deeply browned that his stock looked
theatrically white, and the new whiskers that softened the angle of his
jaw theatrically fair. A naval lady surveyed Flusky's expression in
preference to watching the advancing couple, as a subtle artist studies
his subject in a mirror to get its true proportions; thereby she derived
small satisfaction, neither jealousy nor self-esteem could be deciphered.
Lady Henrietta had a smile for Mr. Flusky; indeed the identical smile
with which the Governor was greeted reached Mr. Flusky first, and in its
full effulgence. The naval lady, cheated of scandal, could only murmur to
her neighbour of the Survey:

"Of course, trust the aristocracy to carry off that sort of thing."

Secret lovers, public drunkenness, plebeian husbands? The Survey lady's
wondering glance demanded which of these Lady Henrietta might be carrying
off under her parasol. But His Excellency was speaking:

"Well, we have made our beginning well and truly. Ah, Charles! You didn't
listen to our speechifying."

"It went to my heart, sir, to see you bury that guinea under a
hundredweight of sandstone. Too much for me entirely. I kept Lady Hattie
company, out of the heat."

Delightful ease, the ladies granted Mr. Adare, eyeing him with the
interest that attaches to a careless conqueror. Puppy! thought their
husbands, the while they ponderously greeted him:

"Well, sir, what news from the interior? How much gold did you bring
back? Any suitable grazing country? Water? You will be having your name
on our maps, no doubt. You will be taking up land, I dare say. A change
from Ireland! When I was younger--"

Thus the chosen few. In the distance lesser spectators, after wandering
about among the piled bricks, and spelling out with their fingers, letter
by letter, the inscription on the foundation stone, took themselves off
to public-houses. The convict builders had been withdrawn while the
gentry made speeches, in order not to affront enthusiasm by their
incongruous appearance and dress; they were locked in a travelling cage
half a mile from the site, while their soldier guards took an hour off
for dinner. The Mechanics' Institute, as yet a matter of brick rectangles
set in the ground, with one imposing sandstone square rising a couple of
feet above the courses, remained unattended.

Inside the tent, hotter than the outer air, yet preferred because of its
shade, a gentleman with nothing to say, but accustomed to public
speaking, had taken it upon himself to propose a toast: His Excellency's
health, coupled with that of their respected fellow-citizen. Mr. Flusky
made a bow whose clumsiness, had he but known, did something to dispel a
current legend: ("My dear, he cannot have been a. footman as they say,
any butler must have taught him to bow better than that.") His Excellency
responded with a smile in the appropriate direction, and reflected that
for his part he must often have drunk good luck to a worse man.

"I wish to God, though," protested that side of his mind where the
prejudices lodged, "I could get the gaol smell out of my nose when I talk
to him. They never quite shake it off. There's the walk; something in the
look, too. Why didn't Pitt take Mattra's offer, and colonize this country
with loyalist Americans after the Independence? It's no disgrace, I dare
say, to have been gaoled. Stone walls do not a prison make, as Charles
would say. No, but the imitation of one that they provide is damned
convincing where a fellow like Flusky is concerned. What is there about
him that could take her fancy?" He saw her face across the crowd. "And
keep it, too."

The champagne had been excellent, but it was finished. There was nothing
to detain the ladies and gentlemen any longer from their vehicles and,
eventually, their homes. They emerged from the tent, looking appealingly
up, bending courteously down, parading their gentility before His
Excellency's eye. But Sir Richard, accustomed to cast his glance round
about on emerging from shelter to air, and more particularly thrown back
towards this military mannerism by the fact that the shelter in question
was a tent, had found other occupation for his eye; he stopped in
mid-compliment. The uniforms, mutely enquiring the reason, saw that he
was staring intently in the direction of that stone so well and truly
laid half an hour earlier.

"By Jupiter!" vouchsafed His Excellency; the crowd swung to his
exclamation. "The rogues! I wonder it hasn't happened before this."

Sydney's most favoured citizens then perceived that the foundation stone
had been heaved by main force out of its fresh mortar. They checked their
steps to exclaim and to conjecture, then advanced, gentlemen leading,
upon the phenomenon. Sir Richard did not hurry himself. He sauntered,
rightly conjecturing what would be found. In fact, when the military and
naval gentlemen, with gentlemen of bar and bench, arrived at the stone,
it was evident that the silver and gold, emblems of opportunity and
knowledge, had disappeared; only a penny, symbolizing application, had
been left, from which the pop-eyed profile of the third George stared
helplessly away from the denizens of his newest dominion.

"Mr. Flusky, if you wish, the ceremony can be repeated. Though I think,
you know, that my meaning has already been _taken_."

Thus the Governor. But at his elbow a gentleman of the press noted on a
cuff: Outrage at Ceremony, and all about the insulted stone, faces of
aides-de-camp, clergymen, justices and gentry stiffened or flexed with
indignation, according to the temperament of the wearers, above the
collars of uniforms.



(xix)


Lady Henrietta spread a letter above the silks upon her knee, with a
single glance upwards to thank the bringer.

"MY DEAR FRIEND,--

"It was a great happiness to me to hear of you at last--after how long! I
am into the fifth mystery, as the people here say, reckoning by their
rosaries, forty-two, and you must be not far off. But there are more
agreeable things to be thinking; we will not count the years.

"You have stayed too long in that distant hot country. Why do you not
make a little change, pack your trunks, and come home to some rain and
snow? It is blowing very hard to-day, there is quite a stir upon the
lake, and the cows grazing have all their backs turned to it. But I dare
say what I call a great blow is nothing to you, with your tornadoes and
other tropical splendours. Or do you not have these? We know that you
walk upside down, that your trees keep their leaves and shed their bark,
that your pears are wooden, and your cherries grow with the stones
outside. Your winds may be stillnesses for aught I know, and in that case
I am sure you would like to see again the stirring of waves upon our
lake.

"Charles in his letters says nothing of your circumstances, only that you
have been kind to him, and that you are in great beauty. He makes no
picture of your house or your life, and I am left to fill in the details
with my imagination as best I may. Thus, remembering old days and your
predilection for leps and dangers, I have painted an equestrian portrait
of you. Is not New South Wales a land of horses? And, I do not know for
what reason, in my picture you are always alone. This is nonsense, of
course. You cannot be for ever caracoling among the--gum trees, is it?
And your husband is by your side.

"I have much to say to you, but my pen is slow, and the ship that bears
my thoughts, such as they are, slower still. Oh, for a talk such as in
the old days we took so thanklessly for granted! It is a pity that women
live so much by trifles, for these show less well upon paper than the
important sentiments men have always at command; and though ours sound
well enough in talk, yet to arrange them on paper makes us aware that
they are nothing, and we ourselves no more than zeros till a man comes to
stand in front of us like a digit and lend us meaning.

"You have your digit, bravely chosen. As for me, Charles told you, I make
no doubt, that such meaning went out of my life ten years ago. I am not a
clever or brave woman, I have neither ambition nor capacity to make a
life for myself as you have done. I put all my eggs in two baskets, one
has gone, but Charles may be reckoned still as a dozen new-laid. In plain
words, he is all my heart has left. And thus I cannot very well describe,
without seeming fulsome, the pleasure I had to hear of him safe in your
kindest hands.

"My dear friend! Let me write that again, it gives me so much happiness
after all these years. My dear friend, the time seems long, you wrote in
your message. And yet as I sit here, with the dogs by me as they always
used, and everything unchanged (save when I look in the mirror), time
seems, not long, but at a standstill. There is a sound of hoofs now,
outside. It might be you, come on a visit for the day as you used,
bringing your music and needlework pillion in a basket. I know it cannot,
but for a moment I allow my heart to play with expectation. Has it not
often seemed to you strange, when the scene remains as it was, that the
actors should not make their expected appearance?

"I could talk, but cannot write more. God bless you for what you and your
good husband have done for Charles. May He bless you only for being
alive, and for not forgetting me. Do, pray, when all your fortunes are
made, come home. I promise you a welcome warm as the turf on our hearths.
And now, shall I sign myself affectionately yours? sincerely, truly,
gratefully? Take your choice, or better still, accept all four; since I
am still, without any doubt, your affectionate, sincere, grateful, and
true friend,

"ALETHEA ADARE."

A barque, sails spread to a breeze which darkened the harbour water in
patches, was moving towards the gap beyond which swung and lifted open
sea. Her flags, each with a severely practical significance--departure,
has been cleared at Customs, has pilot aboard--made the most of such wind
as there was; they struggled in the air from time to time briefly and
frantically as fish new-caught. The ship advanced unsteadily, obedient to
shoves of the moody breeze, her escape watched and noted by authority in
a flicker of signals exchanged:


Fort Philip:

Where is the vessel that left the Cove?

South Head:

Vessel signalized now off Bradley's Point.

Fort Phillip:

Report movements.

South Head:

Vessel signalized approaching Heads. Vessel has dropped pilot. Is vessel
to proceed?

Fort Phillip:

Affirmative. Departure in order.


The barque moved outwards, free.



THE END



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