Mr. Hogarth's Will
Catherine Helen Spence(1825-1910)

Part 6 out of 9


"There would be far less jobbery an' corruption in government
pawtronage," said Jamie Howison, the Newtown weaver.

"They couldna swamp the consteetuencies by makin' fictitious votes,"
said Sandy.

"They micht bribe, if the franchise was limited," said Jamie Howison,
"but with manhood suffrage an' the ballot, a man micht vote just as he
liked, and huz working men hae oor richts, an' oor feelins, an' oor
interests, just as dear to huz as pedigrees an' acres to the
aristocracy. We want nae ten-hours bills--what richt hae parliaments
to dictate to huz, an' keep huz frae sellin' a' we hae to sell,
oor time an' oor labour? We want to be let alane to mind oor ain
business, an no to be treated as if we was bairns that didna ken what
was for their gude. Na, na, Maister Hogarth, when ye gied thae
allotments to your hinds, ye showed that ye kent what they were fit
for, an' ye MAUN see that the bigger a consteetuency is, the purer it
is like to be."

"My friends," said Francis, "the effect of any great extension of the
suffrage, as things are at present, would be to put the WHOLE political
power into the hands of the least educated classes of the community."

"Not the whole with a five-pound vote," said Sandy.

"Surely, not the whole, even wi' manhood suffrage," said Jamie.

"We dinna want it all, only oor fair share."

"But it is in the nature of things," said Francis, "that it must be so.
Your five-pound voters, Mr. Pringle, would outvote the ten-pound voters
enormously. Your non-propertied electors, Mr. Howison, would
out-vote even the five-pound voters, and would, in every constituency,
carry their candidate by an overwhelming majority. This would not be
good either for the country or for you."

"But the rich have the House of Lords, where they are paramount," said
Sandy Pringle.

"A very feeble barrier that would be found against the abuses of
democracy," said Francis. "You know well that in all emergencies the
Lords must give way to the Commons."

"'Deed maun they," said Jamie Howison, "and the only chance of justice
for huz that they maun. But, Maister Hogarth, ye see that property, an'
education, an' rank, an' a' that, hae had it a' their ain way for
hundreds o' years; it's time that we should hae oor turn. We arena like
the French (in the days of the auld revolution); we would respect
property. Even if we had owre muckle power, I think we wad mak nae bad
use of it. It's hard to keep huz oot o' oor richts for ever because ye
think we micht get a thocht mair than is good for us."

"But," said Sandy, sagaciously, "ye acknowledge that things as they are
are na fair. What wad ye do to mend them?"

"You recollect a proposal of Lord John Russell's, some years ago, to
reconstruct the electoral districts, by making them each return three
members, and allowing each elector to vote for only two, so as to
secure somewhat of the rights of minorities," said Francis.

"Oh! we misdooted that; for we thocht it was a treacherous thing on
Lord John's part," said Sandy. "It is hard eneuch for the Leeberals to
get their dues wi' this restricted franchise; an' this arrangement
would mak the Tories stronger than they are noo."

"But is it not just that a minority of a third should be secured their
third share in the representation?" asked Francis.

"Oh! ye're gaun to first principles, like your freend, Maister
Sinclair. Nae doot it's a' richt, but it wadna answer. The third in ae
district maun do without their man, an' in some other they
micht hae the best o' it. That wad mak a' odds even."

"It does so in a great measure at present, though not so much so as I
could wish, but every extension of the suffrage will tend to extinguish
the minorities more and more. You cannot say that, in any electoral
district you could name, with manhood suffrage the working classes
would not enormously outnumber the educated classes."

"An' we maun wait for the reconstruction of the districts afore there
is any chance o' justice?" said Jamie Howison. "I'm thinking we'll hae
to tarry lang for our richts."

"Not so long, if you steadily keep in view that this is the FIRST step.
Lord John Russell's proposal was an approximation to a right principle,
which, if it had been properly supported, might have given the fairest
opening for greater reforms. If the Conservatives had voted for a
really Conservative measure like this it would have been carried, but
as it was brought forward by a political opponent they voted
against it, though they now taunt him with introducing it. If the Whig
party had seen the importance of it, and had vigorously supported it,
it might have facilitated the extension of the suffrage, a measure
which none of you can desire more earnestly than I do. I have conversed
recently with some colonial gentlemen returned from Australia on the
working of their manhood suffrage and the ballot, and from one of them
I got an idea which appears to be a still better one than Lord John
Russell's. It was embodied in a Municipal Bill for an infant city--that
of Adelaide--drawn up by no less a person than Rowland Hill, then
Secretary for the Colonisation Commissioners. I believe it was a
deplorably bad town council for Birmingham that led his acute mind to
ponder how to secure the rights of minorities, as it was the enormous
expense of a correspondence he entered into on the subject of the
coal-tax grievance that led him to make the calculations and to devise
the system by which letters could be carried all over the
kingdom for a penny."

"Well, and what does Rowland Hill say about the minorities that ye care
muckle for?" asked Sandy Pringle. "We hae a' great respect for Rowland
Hill, and what he has to say on sic a subject should weel deserve a
hearing at ony rate."

"He had an arrangement by which a quorum of the citizens could plump
for one member of council, giving additional force to their vote. As
they voted for one instead of eighteen, their vote was worth eighteen.
By concentrating their vote they proportionally increased the power of

"Oh! we ken that plumping aye makes the vote mair valuable," says

"Simply because your one vote is an advantage to your member, which is
not given to any other; but this system gives a much greater reward for
concentrating your vote. In Lord John's case the thing was incomplete,
for unless you have the power of giving your two votes to one
man, a minority of a third cannot get in a member. It is the cumulative
power given by Rowland Hill that secures that minorities will not be
extinguished. This subject will receive my careful attention, if I am
returned for the burghs, for I consider it by far the most important
question of the day, and if I can get the working classes to sympathize
with me, I hope for success in time. Also a revision of the partnership
laws, so as to afford every facility for working people to co-operate
with each other, for it is only by that means that much can be done to
improve their condition. Those Rochdale pioneers are going on most
satisfactorily with their co-operative store, which they are now
extending to other undertakings of a greater magnitude, and I hope soon
to see hundreds of similar associations in Great Britain and Ireland.
But we want more freedom for limited liability companies, instead of so
many difficulties being thrown in their way by over-legislation. I do
not want to treat working people as children, but to encourage them to
help themselves. I have had to work hard myself, and I know
what it is."

"We will lippen to you," said Sandy Pringle, "and even though in some
points we may not see things exactly as ye do, we want a man, an' no a
mere thing to hae a name, an' be coonted like thae Fortescues and
Turnbulls they are puttin' up."

"Little good, little ill, like a spale amang parritch, was that chap
Trummle," said Jamie Howison.

"I am sorry I have been so short a time in the district, so that I am
so imperfectly known to you, but I hope in time to show that I deserve
your confidence," said Francis.

"But what about the ballot?" asked Jamie Howison.

"I have not quite made up my mind about the ballot," said Francis. "It
is humiliating to confess to such ignorance, but there is so much to be
said on both sides that I am puzzled. I should like public opinion to
be so much improved that there would be no necessity for the
ballot, but perhaps without it we cannot regenerate public opinion. I
am quite open to conviction on either side on this as on many other
political questions. Now I think you understand my principles. I will
vote for whatever I think right, no matter from what side of the House
or from what party it emanates. If you can trust to my intelligence and
my integrity, you will vote for me, but I make no pledge."

"And we will ask nane," said Pringle, "we will lippen to you."

"But Maister Hogarth," said one of Jamie Howison's colleagues, "we look
to you to mind the interests of them that has nae votes, and that is a
large body, as ye ken."

"Yes, a very large body indeed, when you include the women and
children," said Francis.

"Oh! the women and children," said the weaver, with a disappointed air,
"I was na thinking of them; they are weel enuch--the men taks care o'

"Not always the best care in the world," said Francis. "Children need
protective legislation to guard them from being overworked by
parents and masters. Women are supposed to be free agents, but they do
not really get all the rights of free agents--they should be empowered
to protect themselves; the law should support them in obtaining their
just rights. A wife ought not to be treated as a chattel; her earnings
should be protected if she wishes it. And women, too, should have a
wider field of labour. The difficulties which are thrown in the way of
the weaker sex, in their attempts to earn a livelihood, both by law and
by society, are very unworthy of the age we live in."

"Weel, Maister Hogarth, though I dinna just see the needcessity for
bringing in women to compete wi' men at their trades, we could do ill
without them at our mills, an' maybe ye're in the richt. Ye'll find us
Whigs at Ladykirk united, and in that case ye're safe to carry the
day," said Sandy Pringle.

Francis' return, however, ran more risk than either he or Sandy Pringle
counted upon, for the suggestion carefully circulated by Fortescue,
Toutwell, and the Tory agents, and feebly denied even by Mr.
Hogarth's own Swinton agent, that he was a most unpopular man in the
county, and that it was a mistake on the earl's part to support him,
very nearly brought down a member of the Reform Club to force him to
retire after his canvass was made, and his majority counted as small
but safe. This shabby proceeding was only averted by the firmness of
the Newtown Whigs, who were indignant at such treatment of a man so
independent and so able as Mr. Hogarth, and they declared to the earl,
through their agent, that if he did not with his party support Cross
Hall for the burghs, they would set up Mr. Sinclair for the county and
vote as one man for him, so that Lord Frederic would have an
overwhelming majority over the Honourable James.

This threat of a certain defeat for the county restored the earl to his
original intention of giving a mild support to Hogarth, who certainly
would be a better man than Fortescue. There was the usual amount of
personal abuse levelled at the banker's clerk--neither his
father nor his mother was spared--there were caricatures of him in
mean lodgings and shabby raiment, doing things for himself, which he
recollected doing, and which he was not ashamed of having done. If
Francis had been made a duke, instead of merely trying to be a member
of parliament, he would never have been ashamed of his past life, nor
would he have been distressed or disturbed by the unexpected honour. He
would have taken it as a matter of course. His speech from the hustings
was clear, manly, and dignified, and far surpassed that of Fortescue,
even with Toutwell's diligent prompting. Mr. Sinclair's speech was
received with cheers and hisses, but in print it read exceedingly well.

Then followed Mr. Toutwell's very rhetorical, very sarcastic, and, as
his own party said, very telling speech; but to Jane, who read this
report with the greatest interest, it told nothing.

The result of the poll was a majority of three in favour of Francis
Hogarth, Esq., of Cross Hall, who was accordingly declared duly
elected, and took his seat along with Lord Frederic (who had
got in for the county by a majority of twenty-seven, much to the earl's
chagrin, who had supported Cross Hall for nothing, after all) and the
other members of the new parliament.

Chapter XV.

Mrs. Phillips's First Grief

Mrs. Phillips was somewhat annoyed at her husband's treating Elsie
Melville on their continental tour more as a travelling companion than
as a paid dependant. Where was to be the glory of this journey through
France and Italy, of which she would have to boast all her life, if her
maid and herself were to be on such terms of equality? In vain Mr.
Phillips said he had disliked the difference that was made between the
two sisters, and had only submitted to it in London on account of the
servants, and that he was glad to take this opportunity of treating
Elsie as her birth and education deserved. In vain he pointed out that
French ladies conducted themselves to their dependants with
less distance and hauteur than Englishwomen, and that in France it was
proper to do as the French did. Mrs. Phillips felt offended, and, for
the first time in her life, a little jealous--not very jealous, for
she was so conscious of her own beauty, and so unconscious of her
defects of mind and temper, that she had a strong substratum of
confidence in her husband's affection--but at this time, Elsie was
looking really very pretty; her movements were quick and graceful--a
great contrast to Mrs. Phillips's slow, dignified, Juno-like
deportment--and her conversation so sparkling and amusing, that she
thought Mr. Phillips looked at her too much, and talked to her too much.
When they spoke French together--for Mr. Phillips was trying to revive his
more than half-forgotten schoolboy French, and found he could do it more
easily with Alice than with the foreigners--Mrs. Phillips had a vague
sense that they were talking about something that they did not want her
to hear. Elsie would have enjoyed this trip exceedingly, but for Mrs.
Phillips's unreasonableness and caprices; but, even in spite of
them, she brought away many delightful recollections of scenes and
people. When on this tour, she felt as if she could write verses again,
if she had only time and quiet.

When in Paris she called on Madame Lenoir with a letter of introduction
from her cousin. She received Elsie very kindly, and asked her and the
Phillipses to her 'at homes'; but as all the people there talked
French, Mrs. Phillips did not find them at all entertaining, and she
thought French hospitality a very shabby affair. They did not remain
long in Paris, but went down to Italy, and visited Florence and Rome.
Mr. Phillips wished he had had his two eldest girls with him in Italy,
and promised to himself that next time he took the journey they should
accompany him.

When they returned to London they found that all had gone well in their
absence--Francis had won his election; Jane appeared to be in
excellent spirits; and the children had made good progress with
their lessons. Mr. Phillips appeared to miss his old friend and
neighbour, Brandon, very much, and could not find any one of his
colonial acquaintances who could fill up the blank which his departure
from London had made. Besides, they were always losing somebody out of
their pleasant circle. Every mail steamer, and every fine clipper ship
that sailed for Australia seemed to take one or more from them; and
though new people did come, they did not appear to be so agreeable as
those who went away. Mr. Phillips could not remain contented in London,
so he proposed a trip to America with his wife and Alice as before; but
Mrs. Phillips disliked the sea, and did not feel very well, so she said
she would rather stay in London with the family, though it was getting
rather late in the season for London. She did not care to go to
Derbyshire without him, far less to go to Scotland; so, if he could be
so cruel as to leave her, she would prefer London. If Emily had been a
little older, Mr. Phillips would have taken her with him, for he
disliked travelling alone, but she was too young, as he himself

Elsie could not understand the cause of Mrs. Phillips's peculiarly
disagreeable conduct to herself lately, and she was almost on the point
of leaving her, and taking another situation, when the children, one
after the other, took scarlatina, and in such a house of sickness
she--their favourite--could not be spared. All lessons, of course, were at
an end. Mrs. Phillips looked into the nursery several times a day, and
said how sorry she was to see the children so ill, and how she suffered
from her anxiety about them; but it was Jane and Elsie who took the
real charge of the little patients. The mother did not seem really
alarmed, though the children were really very ill; the only thing she
did that appeared like apprehension was making Jane write to Mr.
Phillips to return to England without delay as soon as the children
were seized with the fever. Jane also wrote to Dr. Phillips, and Vivian
hurried to London, and stayed with his brother's family until his
return, which was a great lightening of the load of
responsibility which the sisters felt rested on them. In spite of every
care and all that either doctor or nurses could do, little Eva fell a
victim to the disease; and, after her death, Mrs. Phillips for the
first time seemed to realize the danger of the others. Everything had
gone so prosperously with her since her marriage; she had known no
sorrow, and little annoyance; she had always had her husband at her
side to smooth everything for her, so that she really scarcely knew
what the contingencies and trials of life were; but this death,
happening when the father who loved his children so dearly was absent,
affected the indolent and generally unimpressible woman very strongly.
She felt that she was somehow to blame about it. "What will Stanley say
when he comes home? Oh, what will he say to me for losing his darling
child? Oh, why did he go to America, and leave me with such a charge?
And the others will be sure to die, too!"--were her constant

Her grief made her quite unfit to take any charge of the
survivors, and yet she was incredulous when she was told by her
brother-in-law, or by the Misses Melville, that they were really
recovering. It was not till her husband returned, which was as soon as
he possibly could, and assured her that they were quite out of danger,
that she gave any credit to it. Mr. Phillips felt the loss of one of
his children more keenly than most men, but he was grateful to see that
he was likely to save the others, and he did full justice to the care
and attention which they had received from Vivian and Jane and Elsie.

Francis Hogarth was in London, attending a short parliamentary session,
when the children were so ill, and was constant in his inquiries as to
their health. Dr. Vivian Phillips forced Jane and Elsie out to hear
their cousin make his first speech one evening, when the patients were
decidedly convalescent. Jane was very much pleased with Francis' DEBUT,
and though Elsie thought it rather tame, because it was not on an
important subject, and was very calmly delivered, she was glad that he
had not broken down, for it seemed a most imposing assembly for
a stranger to address. Francis had visited the Derbyshire Phillipses,
according to promise, after his election was over, and had been a good
deal interested in Dr. Vivian, both on account of his own
qualifications, and because Jane Melville had been interested in him.
He now felt that Jane and the young physician were placed in very
intimate relations with each other, and he naturally enough fancied
that what he so much wished for himself would appear desirable to a man
so acute and sensible as Vivian Phillips. Her calm temper, her
promptitude, her method, were all shown to great advantage in a sick
room. He forgot that Elsie's gentle tender ways and her overflowing
sympathy might be equally attractive, but Dr. Vivian was quite used to
all sorts of sick rooms, and to all sorts of nursing, and nothing was
very striking to him, so that he fell in love with neither sister,
though he liked them both very much.

Jane in particular was one of those women who may count herself
fortunate if she meets with one real lover in her lifetime.
William Dalzell was not to be counted, except perhaps as a blank, but
by means of the most favouring circumstances, she had taken Francis
Hogarth's heart into her possession, at least for time, and this was
her one prize in the strange lottery of love. No other attachment she
was likely to inspire, as she felt herself, but her lover was not so
clear-sighted. Dr. Vivian Phillips had a great respect for her, and
enjoyed her society now and then as a pleasant change from the more
insipid company of his sisters or their female acquaintances, but to
spend a life with her would be too fatiguing. She seemed always to
require him to think his best, to say his best, and to do his best in
her company. Now a wife just intelligent enough to appreciate his own
abilities, but willing in all things to be guided by him, was a
desirable thing; but one so thoroughly his equal as Jane Melville would
allow him no repose.

The children did not gain strength rapidly, and Emily in particular
made a most tardy recovery. Her illness threatened permanently
to weaken her constitution, particularly as winter was fast
approaching, and she had felt that season in England very trying during
the preceding year. Her uncle Vivian strongly recommended that she
should winter in a milder climate to re-establish her health, and Mr.
Phillips thought going to the south of France, where the girls might
acquire the language without much trouble, would be a good arrangement;
but when he mentioned it to Emily herself as an excellent idea, the
child languidly put it aside.

"Why not take up back to dear old Wiriwilta?" said she. "We were never
ill there. It is warmer and drier than France; and if Miss Melville and
dear Alice go with us, we can learn lessons just as well there as here.
I am tired of this great London, with its smoke and its noise."

Mr. Phillips was not a man to disregard a sick child's longing at any
time; and when his brother said that, though he would regret the
departure of the family from England, her native air was probably the
very best she could have, and the long voyage in a good ship
would benefit all the children, he turned his thoughts towards
Australia, as he could not have believed possible three months before.
The accounts he received from Dr. Grant as to his affairs were
satisfactory enough, but the returns were not at all what he had
expected; and he found that his London establishment was very costly.
He might return to England in a few years, but the children were so
young they might go on with Miss Melville very well at Wiriwilta for
some time. A very fine ship was on the berth; Mr. Dempster was going in
it, and several other acquaintances; so that, though he would have
preferred waiting for Brandon's report of how things were going on, he
decided on leaving England before the season was so far advanced, on
Emily's account.

Mrs. Phillips was in consternation at hearing her husband say he was
really going to return.

"I thought you was never going back to Australia again, Stanley. You
promised me you would not. What will you do about the
children's education?"

"We will take Miss Melville with us, and I have no fear but that they
will all do very well. Their music, certainly, is not provided for; but
something may turn up for that. Our first business is to get them into
good health."

"But Miss Melville will never go without Alice," said Mrs. Phillips.

"Probably not; but we can take Alice, too."

"I thought you said we was spending too much money, and that we must
retrench," said Mrs. Phillips.

"Our children's education is the last thing I should think of
retrenching on," answered her husband. "I have heard you say that Alice
saves her salary in your milliners' bills. I have scarcely seen that
proved, however, Lily; but Miss Melville saves me two hundred a year--that
is clear enough, in black and white. It would be false economy
to grudge her salary. Besides, Emily would be broken-hearted to part
with Alice, so that I will offer to take both sisters with us,
if they will come."

"We don't need such a housekeeper as Miss Melville at Wiriwilta. The
house used to keep itself," said Mrs. Phillips.

"I know I had more trouble with it than was pleasant or convenient,"
said her husband. "I think things will go on much more comfortably
there if Miss Melville continues with us; and after all their exceeding
kindness and care of our poor dear children during their illness, I
know that you too must be disinclined to leave them behind us."

"Oh, yes! really they were very good to the children. I was not strong
enough to do much for them myself; and I don't feel inclined for the
voyage just at this time. Let us go overland, and it will be sooner

"No; we cannot go overland; there is very little pleasure going
overland with four young children, and as I suppose you will want one
servant, as well as Miss Melville and Alice, you must think of the

"I hate the sea, and you know I must be on shore before the end
of February. And you recollect Mr. Brandon, for all his
difficulties--saying he was ruined and all that sort of thing--would have
gone overland, if he had only had his letters soon enough."

"Because he was only one, or, with Edgar, two, and time was of more
importance to him than the difference in passage-money. A fine long
voyage will restore our children to health, and it does not matter to
me being a month or two longer on the voyage. I think we are sure to be
in Melbourne time enough for you. If it were only you and myself, Lily,
there is nothing I should like so much as the overland route. There is
so much that I should like to see and to show to you, but under present
circumstances it is impossible."

No arrangement could have suited Jane and Elsie so well as Mr.
Phillips's proposal, as a personal favour to himself, that they should
accompany his family to Melbourne. It was the destination they had long
aimed at; and as they were neither of the station nor
qualifications to obtain free passages in any immigrant ship, they
joyfully agreed to his liberal offer.

"But," said Jane, "we must be perfectly frank with you. We have had a
great desire to begin business in Melbourne together. We must tell you
that we have often planned to join our savings to those of Peggy
Walker, when she returns to Melbourne, as she will probably do ere
long. Plans, of course, may not be carried out, but if ours are, we may
leave you when you depend most on us. I am quite satisfied with my
position in your family, but----"

"But neither you nor I are quite satisfied with your sister's,"
interposed Mr. Phillips. "It was the best arrangement that at the time
could have been made; but you would never consent to go with us to
Australia, and leave Alice to work here by herself; so, if she sees
anything, either in Melbourne or in the bush that will suit her better,
she is quite free to accept of it, and to leave Mrs. Phillips. Her
services and your services to our children in this recent
affliction can never be forgotten by us. I can assure you, Mrs.
Phillips feels deeply indebted to both of you."

The party to Australia was increased from an unexpected quarter.
Harriett Phillips had found that she had made no impression whatever on
Mr. Hogarth. He had paid his visit to her father, but had taken almost
no notice of her, who had been the person who invited him: in fact, he
had markedly preferred her elder sister. His head had apparently been
so full of politics, or something else, that he had not been half so
agreeable as when she had met him in London, so that she was now very
sorry that she had treated Mr. Brandon so cruelly during the last days
of his stay in England. He certainly would have proposed if she had not
discouraged him so much; it was really almost wrong in her to try to
make him jealous, and she had succeeded only too well. After having
entertained the idea that she could be married to him if she
pleased for several months, she missed the pleasing excitement of a
lover when she returned to her flat country life.

Now that her brother had actually made up his mind to leave England,
she would also miss the change and the gaiety of a London winter, which
she reckoned on having every year; so she astonished him by saying that
she should like of all things to accompany them to Melbourne, and to
see a little of bush life at that dear Wiriwilta that Emily was always
talking about. She did not think that she would care to stay long, but
for a year or two she really thought the life would be very pleasant
for a change, just to see how things were done in these outlandish
uncivilized places. She said, too, to her brother, that she thought she
could be of service to Mrs. Phillips and the children. The society of
Victoria was so indifferent, that it would be desirable to form a
pleasant little coterie of one's own. The children's music should
really be kept up; and she would be most happy to give them lessons. If
her papa and Georgiana and Vivian could only spare her for a
year or two, she should really like extremely to go. She would feel it
so sad when Stanley left for an indefinite period again.

Mr. Phillips was pleased with the proposal; it showed a more friendly
feeling towards his wife and family than she had ever evinced before,
so he offered to pay all her outward-bound expenses, at any rate, for
her. If she liked Australia, perhaps she might stay there with them
altogether; or, indeed, she might find a home for herself there, and
settle in the colony. Harriett said such a thing had never entered her
head--that she went merely on a visit; but she set about getting her
outfit in a very business-like way. It was an exceedingly busy
fortnight for Jane and Elsie; but by dint of great applications to
ready-made warehouses, everything was really got ready in time, and Mr.
Phillips had again to admire the thoughtfulness, the foresight, and the
method which Miss Melville showed in all her arrangements, while
Elsie's busy fingers were employed from morning to night in
doing an endless variety of little things that were needed to
supplement the ready-made stock of clothes.

Chapter XVI.

Another Good-Bye

Emily brightened up wonderfully at the prospect of a return to her old
home. She seemed to gain strength every day, and no objection could be
made to her going up to Edinburgh to pay her long-promised visit to
Peggy Walker before she left England. Mr. and Mrs. Phillips and little
Harriett accompanied her, and they took Jane Melville with them, for
Elsie could not be spared from the needlework, and she did not wish so
much to go to Scotland as Jane did.

Peggy was delighted to see her two nurslings, and also to see the young
lady to whom she had given a home when she most needed one. Tom
eagerly showed Jane what he had done in her absence, and received the
commendation he deserved for his industry and his success. Grandfather
was very weak, but in very tolerable spirits; this visit from Peggy's
friends would be something for him to think on for the short remainder
of his life. Mrs. Phillips's beauty and her fine clothes were something
new to him; and the liveliness of the girls, and the politeness of
their father, and Miss Jean's kind inquiries and kind looks all did him

Francis Hogarth met, by appointment, his cousin Jane at Peggy Walker's,
where she meant to bid him good-bye, but he was not disposed to do so.

"You MUST come to Cross Hall, just to give a look at it before you bid
the country farewell for ever. Mr. Phillips, do come round by Cross
Hall, and let Jane see her old home once more."

"I want so much to see Cross Hall, that Alice tells us such pretty
stories about," said Emily.

"Cross Hall! is that the name of your place?" said Mrs.
Phillips. "I would like to see it too, very much. Mr. Phillips will go,
of course, if we all wish it."

Jane expected to suffer something in this farewell visit. It was not to
be long, but it must be trying. Francis was cruel to ask it, and Mr.
Phillips inconsiderate to accept of his invitation. There were some
things to be done that were not painful. When they left the train and
got into Francis' carriage--which was her uncle's old one, in which
she had been used to ride--for a five-miles drive, they passed the
gates of Moss Tower, and saw William Dalzell and his young wife riding
out, and bowed to both. Then they went to Allendale, for Miss Thomson
had expressed the strongest wish to see Miss Melville before her
departure for Australia, and Jane, too, was very much pleased to see
again one whom she held in such high esteem. There, for the first time,
she saw Mr. Sinclair, whose appearance and conversation were quite
equal to her expectations; but even he was not so great an object of
curiosity to her as Mary Forrester--a niece of Miss Thomson's
several years older than the girl who had got her new frock at Mrs.
Dunn's, in Elsie's time. Mary was then on a visit to her aunt, and
apparently had the charge of two lovely children, cousins of her own,
and grand-nephew and niece of Miss Thomson's. Their parents had gone a
voyage in search of health, and Aunt Margaret had invited them to spend
the winter at Allendale, and cousin Mary to keep them company. Jane
thought she had never seen a more charming girl than Mary, who was
evidently a great favourite with her aunt and Mr. Sinclair. Frank,
intelligent, and graceful, she looked like a sunbeam in the house. The
little Phillipses knew at once that she liked children, and wondered if
she knew any of the delightful stories and ballads for which Elsie was
famed. The little Munroes would take the Australians out of doors to
see the poultry and the wonderful peacock, so Mary and Jane accompanied
their charges. Mary had heard so much of Jane that she was disposed to
be interested in her, while a new tide of ideas flowed into
Jane's mind in relation to this stranger. In all probability this was
the girl to whom Francis was likely to become attached when she left
the country. And now that it was no unseen, and perhaps impossible,
person whom she was to fancy as his wife, but a really pretty and
amiable girl, did the thought now give her pain or awaken any sharp
pang of jealousy? Her heart filled with many emotions at the thought,
agitating and painful enough, but there was no jealousy. The more she
fancied that Francis could love her, the more Jane felt that she must
love her too.

"I really half envy you, Miss Melville," said Mary. "I wish I could do
something for myself. You cannot think how anxiously I watched and
wondered how you and your sister got on, and how delighted I was when
you got the situation with Mrs. Phillips. Your cousin too--it must
have been a sad weight off his mind. A generous man like him must have
felt the terms on which he got the property very cruel."

"Yes," said Jane, "I know he felt it very much. We have great
cause to thank God that things have turned out so well as they have

"Well, Miss Melville, do you know I feel quite ashamed to think of the
amount of money which our family has cost Aunt Margaret; and after all
she has spent on my education, and I really did try my best to learn
too, I feel almost guilty in looking for a situation. There are so many
wanting employment, that it seems like taking bread out of their
mouths; and here am I, a full-grown woman, dependent on other people
for mine. There are four girls of us, and only Grace at school now, but
yet none of us are doing anything for ourselves. I spoke to Aunt
Margaret about taking a situation, but she said she must have me at
Allendale for the winter, on account of Archie and Maggie. After that
is over, I may speak of it again. You are going to Melbourne, where I
have got a brother doing pretty well; but one does not like to be
dependent even on a brother. If you think there is any opening
there for us, will you let us know through your cousin? we see him very

"Then you stay at Allendale for all this winter?" said Jane.

"Yes, and it will be very pleasant. I like living with Aunt Margaret so
much, and John and I were always the two who drew together most of the
family; and then Mr. Sinclair is the dearest old gentleman in the

"My cousin seems to be a favourite of your aunt's," said Jane.

"I never saw aunt take to any one at once as she did to him. What a
pity your uncle did not take him home; it would have added very much to
his happiness and to yours."

It was not like the parting of strangers that took place between Jane
Melville and Mary Forrester.

"Will you let me kiss you?" said Jane, timidly, as she said good-bye.
This was rather a remarkable proceeding on Jane's part, for she was not
addicted to the promiscuous osculation so common among young
ladies, but she felt for Mary Forrester no common interest.

Mary frankly granted the little request, and they parted to meet
again--when, and where, and how?

The party then went to Cross Hall, which was unaltered since Jane had
left it; and while Mrs. Phillips and the children were resting after
their journey, Francis took Mr. Phillips and Jane to look at the
cottages he had built, and she mounted her old horse to ride out to see
the allotments, which, even in this short time, showed signs of
improvement. There were words of greeting to be said to everybody and
to every animal about the place. The old servants were eager to tell
her of all that had been done, and all that was to be done; they were
glad to see her in good health, and apparently in good spirits. Many
sad reports had reached Cross Hall about their straitened circumstances
when in Edinburgh, and about poor Miss Elsie falling into a decline;
and to see and hear that all was so well with the sisters was a
pleasant thing for all who were attached to them. After all
this had been gone through, and she went into the room which had been
hers and Elsie's for fifteen years, to dress for dinner, the past, the
present, and the future all came upon her at once, and she felt as if
she could have given the world for the opportunity to give way.
Everything was exactly as she had left it; all the furniture which had
been taken to Edinburgh had been brought back and placed as it used to

"Can I help you, any way, Miss Jane?" said Susan, the upper housemaid,
tapping at the door.

"No, thank you," said Jane: then recollecting herself, and hoping that
the presence of the girl might help to steady her nerves--"but stop,
do come in for a little, and brush my hair. I am too tired, I think, to
do it; and my head aches a little."

"Is everything right here? The master said I was to tell him exactly
how things used to be, that ye should see nae change."

"All is right," said Jane. "If Elsie were here I might forget
that I ever had left Cross Hall; and I see that our people have no
cause to miss us, so that we can go to Australia with lighter hearts."

But for all this talk about a light heart, the tears would come into
Jane's eyes slowly as she looked out to the familiar scene and heard
the well-known voices, and thought that to-morrow she must leave Cross
Hall and Scotland and Francis for ever.

Mr. Phillips helped her well to keep up conversation at dinner and
during the evening, but after the children had gone to bed and Mrs.
Phillips had retired, he thought the cousins might wish to have their
quiet talk by themselves, and wished them good-night.

"You have not been in the library yet Jane," said Francis; "shall we
adjourn there? I have a little, a very little business to talk over
with you, and I am going to bid you our real farewell tonight, for I am
not going to see you on board ship. I dare not."

Jane followed him to the library. She had not been in it since
they had searched through her uncle's papers, and had read the letters
of Madame de Vericourt together. Francis took from the drawer, which
still contained those yellow letters, a paper on which was some writing
and figures, and a parcel of bank-notes.

"You recollect that you asked me to store the furniture that you left
in your room till you saw fit to claim it. After Elsie decided on
staying at Mrs. Phillips's, I sent to Peggy's for what you had there,
as I think I wrote to you, and Susan saw that everything was placed
just as it used to be. Was it so?"

"Yes; exactly so."

"I do not want to part with any of it, but I got a valuation taken of
it the other day, which you see here, and I give you the market price
for all the things. There is no favour in such a commercial transaction
as that surely, so here is a little addition to your slender capital.
You will find the money all right, I think, odd shillings and all."

"All right," said Jane, compelling herself to count the notes
according to her old methodical way.

"And you like my cottages, Jane, and you hope great things from the
allotments, and you were pleased with my two speeches in parliament?
Oh! Jane, if I am ever worth anything I will owe it to you, and now you
are going to put half the globe between us, I feel as if I had lost
more than half of myself."

Jane could scarcely trust herself to speak.

"It is better so, Francis."

"If you miss me as I know I will miss you, write and tell me so. You
KNOW, Jane, I love you," said Francis.

"I feared it."

"Why should you fear it? Is it not the most natural, the most
reasonable thing I could do? If you loved me you would not fear it."

"I thought that in all your many avocations, and especially in public
life, that you would forget this fancy, but it is well that I must
leave the country, for then I may hope that you will form another
attachment. Write to me when you do so, that I may know I have
not permanently deprived you of domestic happiness, and that I may pray
for you both. You think you owe me much, but to you I owe still more.
Till I knew you I had no religion, I never knew the privilege of
prayer. Even though we may never meet again on earth, we can look
forward to a happy meeting in heaven."

"Now, Jane, when you women bid good-bye to a friend of your own sex, as
dear to you as I am to you--for in a sense I am dear to you, am I

"Yes, very dear to me," was wrung out of Jane, by Francis' earnest
looks and words.

"Well, when you bade farewell to Peggy this morning, she took you in
her arms and kissed you--you kissed Mary Forrester, a stranger to you--and
you are going to leave me--perhaps for ever--me, who would give
my life to serve you, who would give up fortune, fame, almost duty for
your sake, and you will shake hands coldly, and say--'Good-bye,

"Not coldly, my friend--my brother. Do not think I can part
from you so," and by an irresistible impulse, she turned to her cousin,
and felt herself folded for a few seconds in his arms, and kissed with
passionate tenderness.

"This is what might have been ours for life, but for this accursed
will, and your notions of what is best for me, and perhaps a natural
disinclination towards my suit. Reflect--think--before it is too late
make your choice;--love in poverty and obscurity, perhaps--but still

"Love is not all life, either for you or for me;--it is better for us
to part."

"Then you make your choice;--but Jane, if you change your mind, write
to me, and let me know. I tried to leave off writing at one time; but
it did no good, for I could do nothing that did not remind me of you.
Then it must be good-bye. May God bless you, my beloved one, now and
for ever!"

"May God bless you, my dear Francis, and now farewell!"

Another sort of farewell from her dismissal of William Dalzell!
Centuries had seemed to have passed over her since that first eventful
day of her life. She scarcely could identify herself with the woman who
had so calmly and so kindly extinguished a fancied partiality, as she
sat down in her own room and trembled from head to foot at the thought
of the pain she had given, and the love she had rejected. In the one
case she was perfectly certain that she had done right, in this she was
not by any means so clear. As she heard her cousin restlessly pacing up
and down the library, she felt tempted to go to him and say she would
share his fortunes, and even destroy them for him if he wished it. She
looked at the mirror, and wondered at her being able to excite such an
attachment; she looked into her own soul, and did not see anything in
it to warrant a man in giving her such a power over him. Duty was clear
as to the dismissal of William Dalzell, and the result had proved that
she was in the right; and now, when duty was so terribly difficult,
surely time, that tardy, but certain adjuster of life's inequalities,
would justify her both to Francis and herself. William
Dalzell's love had appeared to evaporate; but Francis' had grown more
intense and passionate till she felt she could scarcely look at him.

But it was true that she had admired his speeches, and that she was
ambitious for his success in all his plans. Every one who knew anything
about the subject said that Francis Hogarth was the most promising
young man who had entered the walls of parliament at this recent
general election. He had given great attention to public business; he
had mastered the details with ease; and the principles seemed to be
intuitive with him.

He had become acquainted with a small band of outsiders like himself,
men of independence and originality, who kept aloof from party, but
whose votes were of importance to both parties, and whose approbation
was of far more value than that of the strongest partizan. No one could
tell to what height he might not rise from such a beginning; the
ministry had noticed him favourably, and he was as likely as
not to be offered office before the parliament had expired.

Mr. Sinclair had told her how his hopes rested on the new member for
the burghs, and how many public matters and reforms they talked over
together with constant reference to first principles.

Jane was proud of the conquest she had made, and proud of her influence
over a man so able, and so upright; but now she felt it was dangerous
to see too much of him, and his parliamentary life had brought him into
far more frequent contact with her now than ever before. She had led
him so far in the right direction, but now she feared for her own
resolution; she knew she could not withstand many such scenes as she
had just gone through, and she saw that there was great wisdom and
propriety in her leaving the country that he lived in. From her distant
home across the ocean, she could hear of his labours and his triumphs,
and, she hoped, after a time, of his happiness. But while she
reasoned with herself as to the propriety of leaving him, she felt all
the bitterness of the lifelong separation. She could no longer disguise
the truth from herself--he was as truly half of her as she was of him--and
she shivered at the thought of a life to be gone through in which
she should never more see his face, or hear his voice. It was as sad a
night, and as sleepless, as that she had spent in her cousin's house in
Edinburgh, when all doors had seemed to be shut against her, except the
faint chance of a sub-matronship in a lunatic asylum. Now, two doors
were open to her--one to a life of toil and dependence for herself and
probably a happy life for Elsie, at the antipodes; and the other, a
life of love with the man who had all her heart, and who deserved it
all, with a dependent life for Elsie. Even though her own hand had
closed the door, she could not help lingering at the threshold, and
grieving that she was shut out from the only paradise she cared for.

So the good ship sailed next week, bearing Jane from the man
who loved her, and whom she loved, and Elsie and Miss Harriett Phillips
towards the man whom they both thought loved them.

Volume III.

Chapter I.

Mr. Brandon's Second Proposal To Elsie, And Its Fate

On Mr. Brandon's arrival at Melbourne after a longer voyage than he had
expected in a ship with such a high character as the one he sailed in,
he hurried up to Barragong, and was much gratified to find things there
did not look so badly as he had been led to expect. It was his
overseer's want of confidence in himself that had made him exaggerate
everything that was going wrong, or was likely to go wrong. In fact Mr.
Phillips's affairs were suffering much more from the want of the
master's eye than his; but Dr. Grant had a better opinion of his own
management, and wrote more cheerful accounts. Brandon regretted
that Powell had left his employment, for if he had been in charge of
Barragong there might have been three more happy months in England for
his master.

As his affairs were really in a sufficiently satisfactory state, he
felt that he must write to Elsie Melville, renewing his offer of
marriage, and endeavouring as far as he could to give her confidence in
the stability of his character. How exceedingly awkward he felt it to
be to have to write this instead of saying it. How incomparably better
such things are done by word of mouth, particularly when one is not a
ready and clever letter-writer. He would in the personal interview have
felt the effect of one sentence before he ventured on another--he
would have assisted his halting phrases by all the advantages of tone,
gesture, and expression of countenance. Though he had failed once in
his attempt to win her affections, he had been far more stupid than he
was now, and he was now more anxious for success. The more he had
thought over the person, the manners, and the character of Elsie
Melville, the more convinced he was that she was the one woman in the
world for him; but he was by no means so sanguine of being accepted as
he had been, particularly when he had only the pen to trust to. There
was no saying what so clever and so literary a girl as Elsie Melville
was would think of his blundering declaration. The paper looked cold
and blank and uninviting--it really was hard to make it the only means
of telling her how much he loved her. No kind wishes towards the
overseer whose fears and scruples had hurried him away, or towards Miss
Phillips, who had interrupted him when he was about to say something he
had hoped Elsie could not mistake, accompanied the half-dozen different
attempts at a love-letter, which were written before he could please
himself. Emily was his friend; Jane, he thought, would be his friend
too. Elsie was really a kind-hearted girl, and if he could only
convince her that he would be miserable if she refused him, she might
pity him a little. He had not the same objections to a little
pity that she had on that day in the railway carriage, when he had been
so confident of success. But when he reflected on what Peggy might have
said with truth about him, and when he put to that the fact that
immediately after his refusal by Elsie he had devoted himself to Miss
Phillips, there was no doubt that Elsie had some cause to suspect the
steadiness of his principles. It was difficult by writing to hint at
these things without saying too much, but they must not be passed over
in silence either.

At last the letter was written and committed to the country post-office
nearest to Barragong--not that he was satisfied with it, but he must
not lose the mail. If she was good enough to accept of him, she was to
draw upon him for a specified sum for passage-money and outfit, and
come out in the mail steamer following her answer. It was not a
brilliant letter, but it was honest and straightforward. However, as
Elsie had sailed for Melbourne before it reached England, it was of the
less consequence what it was.

Pending her answer, Brandon felt very unsettled. He could not set
himself to work systematically, and all the neighbours said that his
visit to England had spoiled him for a colonist, as it did with most
people. He missed his pleasantest neighbour, Mr. Phillips, and he
missed the children. Though Dr. Grant in one direction, and Mr.
M'Intyre in another, thought they were ten times better than the
Phillipses, Brandon did not feel that they could make up to him for
their absence.

Dr. Grant was certainly mismanaging, to a considerable extent, Mr.
Phillips's business, and muddling it as he did his own affairs. He had
now been many years in the sheep-farming line, and in the best of
times, for he had bought very cheap--much cheaper than either Phillips
or Brandon, and he had quite as large a capital to start with; but he
had a bad way of managing the men on his stations; he gave the same
wages as other people, certainly, for he could not help that, but he
always gave them with a grudge, and seemed to think his employes were
picking his pocket. He had a harsh and dictatorial way of giving
orders--very different from Brandon's and Phillips's pleasant manner--and
he consequently had never been well served. His men had been the
first to leave at the time of the diggings, and the consequences had
been most disastrous. From sheer want of hands, he had sacrificed one
of his runs with the sheep on it to Powell, and now he grudged to see
how very handsomely Powell had been repaid for his money and time in
this transaction. The fortune that Powell had made ought to have been
his--Dr. Grant's own--instead of filling the pockets of a man who had
only sprung from the ranks.

The same style of mismanagement was carried into Mr. Phillips's
affairs; and yet when Brandon relieved Dr. Grant of the burden he had
so unwillingly taken up, the latter felt rather hurt, for he had had a
handsome salary for the charge of Wiriwilta and the other stations, and
he would certainly miss the money; and, besides, he thought it showed a
want of confidence in himself on Phillips's part.

At Wiriwilta, however, there was a feeling of pleasure at the
exchange, and Brandon had the satisfaction of really benefiting his
friend without taking any very great deal of trouble.

In this restless state of his mind he had great pleasure in the society
of Edgar, who attached himself to his uncle with quiet fidelity. He
soon learned to ride, and to ride fearlessly and far; he learned too to
use his limbs, his ears, and his eyes, so that Brandon found he really
had a head on his shoulders, which he had been rather doubtful of when
the lad had been kept so constantly at his books.

One day when the boy had been talking with enthusiasm of Australian
life, and expressing his longing after more adventures, his uncle, who
also was eager for change, proposed to Edgar an overland journey
together to Adelaide. He had heard that some particularly fine sheep
were to be had in South Australia, and he wished to add this variety to
his own flocks as well as to those of Mr. Phillips. He had always had a
great wish to see the Adelaide side, and this journey would amuse and
employ him till he could get his answer from Elsie. If she
accepted him, and came out, as he wished, without delay, he might never
have another opportunity for making the visit, for he would not be
inclined to leave her, for a while at any rate.

Edgar was delighted with the proposal, and helped his uncle with the
few simple preparations for their long ride with a vigour and despatch
that showed he had the stuff in him for a good bushman. How his tender
mother would have trembled at the thought of the perils and hardships
of such a journey but as she knew nothing about it till it was safely
over, she was spared all anxiety. Brandon was not altogether insincere
when he told Elsie and the Edinburgh ladies that the finest prospect he
ever saw in Victoria was the prospect of getting out of it, but the
present pleasure made him forget many past ones. He had a real
enjoyment in the bush life he then talked so contemptuously about.
Camping out was to him no hardship, and to Edgar it was a delightful
novelty. It was varied by nights spent at sheep stations, where a
hospitable welcome generally awaited them, and an amount of
comfort varying according to circumstances. When they crossed the
Victorian border, and came to the South Australian side, the welcome
appeared to be equally hearty. Edgar Holmes could not help admiring the
want of suspicion and the liberality of these absolute strangers.

Brandon went about his purchase of sheep on his way to Adelaide, and
made what he thought a very satisfactory bargain. It was to be a joint
speculation between himself and Mr. Phillips, and he was sure it would
turn out very well. When he had left directions as to delivery, he and
his nephew went down to Adelaide, to see what they thought of that
little colonial capital. Edgar was charmed with Adelaide, and preferred
it out-and-out to Melbourne, but as he had only passed through the
latter, and had got acquainted with none of the people there, his
preference was perhaps not worth much. Brandon, however, could not help
confessing that the Adelaide men had some cause for the patriotism so
strongly, and, as he had thought, so tiresomely expressed at the
time of the diggings. It had less bustle than Melbourne, and certainly
was not so wealthy; but it was a quiet, cheap, and hospitable place,
and its prosperity rested on a very solid basis. The amount of
cultivation, both agricultural and horticultural, contrasted favourably
with that of Melbourne, which had been almost exclusively pastoral till
the gold diggings broke out, and had had many drawbacks, in the shape
of land regulations, to its becoming a corn and wine bearing country.

Brandon took up his abode at the York Hotel, of course, and met with
some pleasant people in and about Adelaide. Some of them he had known
in London, and they introduced him to others. If his heart had not been
fixed at this present time on Elsie Melville, he might have taken a
fancy to one of the Adelaide girls whom he met. They were not so
formidable in the array of their accomplishments and acquirements as
the modern English young lady; they were frank, agreeable, and not
ignorant of domestic matters, and they had no apparent horror of
the bush. But Brandon's affections were really engaged, and he put
considerable restraint on his flirting powers during this visit, which
all engaged men ought to do, but which, I must say, I have found very
few engaged men do; they feel so perfectly safe themselves that they
care very little for what construction other people may put on their
attentions, or their polite speeches.

Brandon had sent directions for Mr. Talbot to get his letters and
forward them to him in Adelaide, for he was now daily expecting Elsie's
answer. In case of his being accepted, he would cross over to Melbourne
in time to receive her from the next mail-steamer, would marry her
there, and take her home to Barragong, and thus save himself two long
land journeys.

But the mail-steamer had come with the Adelaide mails, and the next
after that with his own letters, but not a word from Elsie or from any
of the Phillipses. He had had a few lines from Emily the preceding
month, to say that dear little Eva was dead, and that they were
all getting better. The address was either in Jane's hand writing or in
Elsie's, but he took if for granted that it was Elsie's, and had
treasured it up in consequence of that supposition. But this month
there was not a word from any of them. There had been plenty of time
for an answer, for his letter had been sent via Marseilles, so that
Elsie had had ten days clear to make up her mind and reply to what she
ought to have thought an important communication.

It was using him extremely ill to treat his letter with so much
contempt. He was never more near being very angry in his life. It was
strange that Elsie Melville, whose manner was so remarkably gentle and
winning, should on two important occasions have treated him with such
marked discourtesy. No doubt, his letter was not worth very much in
itself; but to him it was great consequence. If she wanted a month for
consideration, why not write and tell him so? Or, if she feared to
commit herself, she might have got Jane to write. Could she have
taken the fever? That was a solution--but a very sad one--of her
conduct. Jane would have certainly written in that case if she had not
got the fever too. He would alter his plans: he would go back overland;
or, rather, he would sail up the Murray, and not pass through Melbourne
at all. So he took his passage and Edgar's by one of the Murray
steamers, and felt that if he was not a very ill-used man, he ought to
feel a very unhappy one.

Chapter II.

Mrs. Peck

In a poor-looking room of a small wayside public-house, about twenty
miles out of Adelaide, were seated one evening, shortly after Brandon's
departure up the Murray, a man and a woman, neither of them young or
handsome or respectable-looking. If they had been so once they had
outgrown them all. The woman certainly had what is called the remains
of a fine woman about her, but her face had so many marks of care, of
evil passions, and of irregular living, that it was perhaps more
repulsive than if it had been absolutely plain in features; her dress
was slatternly and ill-fitting, her gray hair untidily gathered under a
dingy black cap, with bright, though soiled yellow flowers stuck
in it; her eyes, which had still some brightness, had a fierce, hungry
expression; and the very hands, thin and long, and with overgrown
nails, had less the appearance of honest work than of dishonest
rapacity. The man was a rougher-looking person, more blackguardly,
perhaps, in appearance, but not so dangerous. He had been at the
nearest post-office, and brought a letter addressed to Mrs. Peck, which
the woman tore open and read with impatient eagerness.

"This is from Mr. Talbot at last," said the man. "Long looked for--come
at last. I hopes as how it is worth waiting for."

"Worth waiting for!" said she, stamping on the letter with her foot,
and standing up, with such a look of frenzy that her companion moved a
little out of the way. "Hang him, and his clients too!"

"Won't this man come down with the ready, Liz? Does he send to make
inquiries? A cool hand--cooler than the old man. Won't out with the
blunt till he knows what he's paying for."

"It's not about him at all," said Mrs. Peck. "Not a word has he
ever said, good or bad--taken no notice of my letters, no more nor if
I had not been such a mother to him. I should have had an answer to my
second letter by this time, and I know it was directed all right; he
must have got them both. I'll have it out of him, though. I'll have my
revenge, as sure as I am a living woman."

"Don't go into such a scot, woman. Then, if it is not from young Cross
Hall, what has that lawyer said to put you into such a tantrum?"

"Oh! just a request to keep on this side of the border, or he'll not
warrant my getting a farthing out of Phillips. He offers three pound a
quarter more if I don't show my face in Melbourne! Such a beggarly sum
it is after all! To think that I should only have two children, and
them turning out such ungrateful cubs to me!"

"Two children, Liz?" said the man with a sneer. "Well, if I was
Phillips I'd like to keep you at a civil distance just at
present, for you look as like to brain him as not."

"There's the both of them rolling in wealth. Frank got all Cross Hall's
property, and all through me; and Betsy, with her London establishment
and her carriage, no doubt, and her children dressed like duchesses,
and herself, too--and look at me!"

"Well, just look at you, Liz. I fancy that the sight of you would do
them no credit. You're well enough off with Phillips. I think this is a
very handsome offer. Though we're both sick of Adelaide, we can stop
here a bit longer--at least, till we can see our way clear to get out
of it."

"Do you think I don't care for my liberty? and I hate the Adelaide
side. It was all your doings coming across here at all, and a precious
mull you've made of it. I fancy they must be thinking of coming back to
Melbourne, from this notice to me to keep out of the way. And do you
think I don't want to see my own daughter? Did not I put her in the way
of all her good fortune? Did not I dress her the day she first
saw Phillips, and did not she look like a angel?"

"And he was spoon enough to marry her, which was more than either you
or me expected. As for the girl, she was glad enough to go away from
you; you never cared so much for her."

"Did I not, when I saw she was growing up so handsome and a credit to

"Yes, yes; we both wanted to make our own of her, and I think we did
not do amiss, considering," said Peck. "We've had bad luck in Adelaide,
but things may change--money goes farther here."

"Money never goes far with us," said Mrs. Peck, "and Melbourne is the
place where we can get on best. If I had Frank's money, which I must
and shall get out of him somehow, we could manage to rub along here,
but without it we never could. The black-hearted scoundrel, not to send
me a farthing--me who could-----"

"You had better threaten him with what you can do in your next
letter. I always thought that style of working the oracle would pay
best; but perhaps the motherly affectionate dodge was the best to try
first. Threaten him in your next."

"I don't think I'll condescend to threaten him; I don't care to save
him from what he deserves for his shameful ingratitude to me. I could
make better terms with Cross Hall's nieces than I could do with Frank.
Surely they would give me more for my secret than he would do to keep
me quiet. They were left beggars, I know, and the estate is worth a
great deal to them."

"Hang it, Mrs. Peck, that is a glorious idea, but don't be too hurried
in your movements. You don't care about your own share in the business
being known?" said Peck.

"I care for nothing if I could only get my revenge on him, and if I
could only get as much out of the Melville girls as would allow me to
snap my fingers at Phillips. I would rather relish publishing my
connection with him. I would like to bring down Betsy a peg."

"There's where you always make a mull of it, Liz. Your infernal temper
always gets the better of you. Revenge and spite are very good things
in their way, but I don't see that they pay. I think you would be very
mad to give up so much a year for the pleasure of vexing Phillips and
Betsy; and as for the Melville girls, how are you to get at them? There
is not shot in the locker to take you to England, and letters are very
risky things to write. You're sure to let out more than is safe, and if
you let out too little the girls will see no advantage in it."

"I hate letters," said Mrs. Peck, moodily; "but I would like to get at
the girls by word of mouth."

As this interesting pair were engaged in conversation, a traveller of a
very different description alighted at the door of the inn, and
requested lodgings for the night. He was well-dressed and
respectable-looking; he was probably as old as either of them,
but his face and air gave tokens of a quieter life and a calmer temper.
His horse was knocked up, so that he could not go on to a larger and
better-appointed inn than this, which was five miles nearer town; but
when he saw the name over the door and the host and hostess, he was
reconciled to the inferior accommodation. But he rather objected to the
company that he found in the inn parlour, and did not seem pleased with
the proposal that he should take supper with them.

"Oh, Mr. Dempster," said the host, "I fancy you have got nice since you
were in England. These people are decent enough, I reckon, though
rather down in their luck, like some others of us. I wish I had such a
house to receive you in as that I built on the--Road. I had plenty
rooms there; but you see it was not licensed, and I was ruined--at
least brought down to this."

"Well, Frankland, I suppose I must submit," said Mr. Dempster, "as you
say you have no other place for me; but I never would have thought
these were particularly decent people."

Whether from spiritual influences or not, Mr. Dempster felt a
great repugnance to this man and woman. The influence might have been
partly spirituous, for there was a considerable fragrance of strong
liquor about them both.

In spite of the unpromising appearance of the house, the hostess
produced a very tempting-looking supper for hungry people. She sat down
herself to make tea for the company, and was delighted to see Mr.
Dempster, and to have a little talk with him about old colonists and
old times. She was a very old colonist herself, and had known many ups
and downs, generally in the same line of life.

Active, civil, and much-enduring, she was an admirable hostess, but her
husband was rather idle and speculative, and had invested the savings
of many years in the erection of a large hotel in a place where, in the
opinion of the Bench of Magistrates, it was not wanted, and the licence
was refused, so they had come down in the world in consequence, and had
taken this small inn, where they could just make ends meet. Mrs.
Frankland missed the old customers who used to call, and felt this
visit from Mr. Dempster something like a revival of old days, and asked
him as to the changes he saw in Adelaide; and as Mr. and Mrs. Peck were
Melbourne people, who did not know anything about the old colonists,
Mr. Dempster spoke to her with freedom.

"You have been visiting your married daughter, I suppose," said Mrs.

"Yes, that is the first thing I had to do on my return."

"A fine family she is getting about her, I hear; but I have not seen
her for awhile. This house is not good enough for her to stay a night

"Yes, she has a very fine family--another little fellow since I left

"You must feel it lonesome now," said the hostess.

"Yes: it is the way of the world, and one should not murmur at it; but
yet a man must feel it very much when his only daughter, and one
so much his companion as my girl was, chooses a home for herself, and
surrounds herself with new ties and new cares."

"You should see and get some one to take care of you," said Mrs.
Frankland, cheerily;--"a pleasant, kindly body--not too young. You
must have met many such in England, who would have been glad of the

"Yes, and who would have grumbled at the colony whenever she came out,
and given me no peace till I took her home again. Now my business and
my interests are all in South Australia. Besides, I like the young
women best, and they would never look at an old fogie like me; so I
must content myself with my memories of the past and my hopes for a
future life. My home is not so lonely as you fancy it, Mrs. Frankland.
Even here I feel the departed ones are near me. The veil that separates
this world from the next is a very thin one; and if our intercourse
with each other is less complete than in the days when we were together
in the flesh, it is none the less real. I have become a
spiritualist since I went to England."

"A what?" asked the hostess.

"You must have heard of table-turning, and all those strange

"La! Mr. Dempster, I never thought of YOU giving in to a pack of
nonsense like that. I beg your pardon for my rudeness, but really you
DO surprise me."

"What would you think of spirits who can read unseen letters--tell the
names of persons whom none of the company knew--find out the secrets
of every one in the room? You recollect Tom Bean, who was lost in the
bush twelve years ago, and more; his spirit appeared to me in London,
and gave me a message to his old mother, to say he was expecting her
soon; and the old lady did not live three months after."

"Well, that is strange, but I would be very hard to convince. But yet,
Mr. Dempster, that is no reason why you should not get a nice tidy body
to make you comfortable. The spirits would not surely begrudge you
that. And so you had a pleasant voyage, and went round by
Melbourne so as to see all that was to be seen. Did any of the old
colonists come out with you?"

"We had a large party altogether--Mr. and his family, who had just
been home to finish their education."

"And you admired the young ladies, of course, but really they are too
young for you. Have they grown up handsome?"

"Not particularly handsome, but very pleasant-looking; but if you talk
of beauty, it was a Melbourne lady who bore off the palm on board ship.
Unfortunately, she was married, and it would have been very improper to
take a fancy to her, but Mrs. Phillips is superb."

"Mrs. Phillips of Wiriwilta?" said Mrs. Peck, eagerly.

"Yes, I fancy that is the name of the place; at least the children used
to talk about it by that name. Mr. Phillips is a sheep-farmer on the
Victoria side," said Mr. Dempster.

"And you say she is handsome?" said Mrs. Peck.

"Perfectly beautiful!--but uneducated, and somewhat capricious.
I fancy her face must have captivated her husband, who is a very
intelligent, agreeable man."

"I suppose they are rich now?" said Mrs. Peck.

"Oh! very well to do, I fancy. I visited them a good deal when I was in

"How many children have they?" asked Mrs. Peck. "I knew them long ago."

"They lost one with scarlet fever before they sailed. There were four
on board ship; but there are five by this time, for Mrs. Phillips
stayed in Melbourne for her confinement, and had a little boy within a
week of landing."

"Is her husband with her?" asked Mrs. Peck, eagerly.

"Oh, no! I think Phillips went up to his stations; he had a number of
things to see to. What do you know about them?" asked Mr. Dempster,
rather surprised at Mrs. Peck's curiosity.

"I was once in their employment at Wiriwilta, and Mrs. Phillips
was uncommonly good-looking then. There was not so much style in those
days as I suppose there is now."

"Probably not; we have all had to work hard for what we have earned in
these colonies and Phillips must have made his way like the rest of us.
They had a very pretty little establishment in London."

"Kep' their carriage, no doubt," said Mrs. Peck, with a
thinly-disguised sneer.

"No, they did not; but if it's any satisfaction to you to know it, Mrs.
Phillips has had a tour on the Continent, and has had a lady's-maid."

"A lady's-maid," said Mrs. Peck; "well! well! and the children, I
suppose, are being educated up to the nines?"

"They took both the governess and the lady's-maid with them to
Melbourne," said Mr. Dempster. "They were sisters, and very superior
young ladies. In fact, to my taste, Mrs. Frankland, the lady's-maid was
more charming than the mistress; not so regularly handsome--but very
lovely--while as to intelligence and refinement there was no
comparison. If she had been a dozen of years older I might have been a
little presumptuous."

"Was this Mrs. Phillips so very far behind as that her maid was so
superior to her?" asked Mrs. Frankland.

"It happened that these sisters were the young ladies of whom, even in
these distant parts, you may have heard something; who were brought up
to inherit a large property in the south of Scotland, by a very
eccentric uncle, who left everything he had to a son whom nobody had
ever heard of before, and left the girls absolutely penniless."

"Was not their name Melville?" asked Mrs. Peck, eagerly and fiercely.

"Yes," replied Mr. Dempster, astonished to find his chatty
communications to his old friend, Mrs. Frankland, taken up in this way
by this unprepossessing-looking stranger. "Yes, their name was
Melville, and I never in my life met with more amiable, more
intelligent, or better-principled girls."

"I saw about it in the papers," said Mrs. Peck, endeavouring to
subdue her delight and exultation at the idea of the girls she wished
so much to come in contact with being so near her as Melbourne. "I took
a great interest in it. I like these romances of real life. And so,
Mrs. Phillips is up, and these girls are down, and glad to eat the
bitter bread of service. It is very amusing. Was Mrs. Phillips much
taken up with them on account of their misfortunes?"

"I do not know," said Mr. Dempster, drily. "If you have served Mrs.
Phillips you will know that she is not the same at all times."

"Then there was a large party of them on board; a servant, no doubt,
and these two Melville girls, and the children?" said Mrs. Peck.

"There was also a sister of Mr. Phillips's--rather a fine woman, too--come
out on a visit."

"And a fine lady, too, I dare say," said Mrs. Peck. "Mr. Phillips holds
his head pretty high. I warrant his sister and Mrs. Phillips would have
some sparring. And the children are good-looking, I suppose? I saw none
of them since the first was a baby. What are they like?"

"They are very pretty children, and getting on well with their studies.
The eldest Miss Melville is the most thoroughly cultivated woman I ever

"Oh, leave Cross Hall alone for that," said Mrs. Peck. "He was always
crazy about education, and that sort of thing."

"Cross Hall!" said Mr. Dempster. "I suppose you will say next that you
know Francis Hogarth, of Cross Hall, member of Parliament for the
Swinton burghs?"

"Member of Parliament, too!" said Mrs. Peck, with the same subdued
fierceness as when she first took Mr. Dempster up about the Melvilles.
"Member of Parliament! Ungrateful dog!" she said, under her breath; but
her expression of vindictiveness was not altogether lost on Mr.
Dempster. "Oh yes! I know him; or at least I know all about him. Nobody
did know anything of him till he came into the property, you know; but
I really know more about him than most folks. There are some
people that would give their ears to know what I do; but there is a
saying in the north, where I was born, 'Least said is soonest mended;'
at any rate, least said to them as it don't concern."

"If I had you at a seance", said Mr. Dempster, "I could get all your
secrets out of you, whether you liked it or not. Yes, Mrs. Frankland, I
really could."

"I don't think it can be right," said the timid hostess, who, though
she was very fond of hearing the news, preferred to get them from
living persons and not disembodied spirits. "Mrs. Peck, you are taking

"I got bad news just before tea, and that took away my appetite; but I
have got over that now, so I'll trouble you for a mutton chop, Mr.
Dempster, and Peck, just pass me the pickles, and be good enough to
give me a hot cup of tea, Mrs. Frankland, for this one is as cold as a
stone;" so Mrs. Peck felt inclined to make up for lost time, and made a
very hearty supper. She wound up with two glasses of
brandy-and-water hot, and she got Peck out of the way, for she wished
to have a quiet talk with Mr. Dempster.

Mr. Dempster was not disposed to encourage her confidence; her strange
inquiries about people he had been greatly interested in, recalled the
seance which had so much startled Francis Hogarth, and he suspected
that this must be the person who had written the letter the spirit had
been questioned about, and, consequently, that she was Hogarth's
mother; no mother, certainly, to be proud of! The spirit said that her
son ought to have nothing whatever to do with her, and Mr. Dempster was
disposed to obey all spiritual communications. Besides this, all his
instincts were strong against any intercourse with a woman so
disreputable-looking, with an expression of countenance alternately
fierce and fawning.

Now the fawning manner was put on. Mrs. Peck had an object in view--she
wanted money to take her to Melbourne, and to take her immediately,
and this easy-going, benevolent-looking Adelaide gentleman
seemed to be the most likely victim she could meet with.

She had long wished to see her daughter apart from her husband, and
there never had been such a chance since she was married; and to get
hold of one or both of the Melville girls at the same time was a
conjunction of circumstances absolutely and marvellously favourable.
Her last remittance from Mr. Phillips had been received a month before,
and was spent as soon as it was got. Peck, with whose fortunes she had
for many years connected herself, had not been lucky of late. He had
come to Adelaide at race time, and had not got on well with his bets.
He had done a little in gambling, but had got into a sort of row at a
low public-house, and been taken up and fined for being drunk and
disorderly, and dismissed with a caution; so he had gone up to the
sheep-shearing, and then had worked a little at the hay-harvest, and
again at the wheat-harvest. He could work pretty hard at such times,
and make good wages; but he had no turn for steady, regular work, and
neither had she. If she had been in Melbourne, she could have
borrowed the ten or twelve pounds needed for her passage-money, and a
decent-looking outfit from people who knew her there, and guessed that
she had some hidden means, either from friends or foes; but in Adelaide
she was unknown except from her connection with Peck, which did not
inspire confidence.

This Adelaide gentleman had just come from London, and could know
nothing about her, so she was determined to use her plausible tongue,
and get the money out of him.

As Mr. Phillips said, she was possessed with the spirit of falsehood.
She always had a disinclination to speak the truth, unless when it was
very decidedly for her own interest to do so, or when she was enraged
out of all prudence. So now, when she wanted to get an advance from Mr.
Dempster, she forgot the agitation and the eagerness which she had
shown about the Phillipses, the Melvilles, and the Hogarths, and opened
up a quite new mine of anxieties and fears. Her secret, such as it was,
should not be told to any one but the parties to whom it was
valuable, and who would pay her handsomely for it, so she must now
prevent this friend of the family from even guessing at what her
schemes were.

Chapter III.

Raising The Wind

As Mrs. Peck sipped her brandy-and-water, putting a constraint on
herself in so doing--for her natural taste would have led her to
swallow it in large gulps, but that would not have answered her purpose
of impressing Mr. Dempster--she began to talk of the letter she had
received from Melbourne, which had distressed her so much. Her daughter
was ill and dying, and her son-in-law had written to her to beg that if
she possibly could she would come across to see poor dear Mary before
she was no more; but, poor fellow, he was always hard up--a decent
well-meaning fellow he was--but he wanted push, and things had never
gone rightly with him.

"They have never had the doctor out of the house since they have
been married, and many births and many deaths keep a man always poor,
Mr. Dempster, as well you must know; and it's many's the five-pound
note as I've given to them out of my small means to help them through
at a hard pinch, and he thinks, of course, as how I can just put my
hand in my pocket and pay my passage in the first steamer as quick as
he thinks for to ask me; and so I would, and would never have begrudged
it, for my poor Mary's sake, but things has gone so contrary with me
and Peck for this year back that I ain't got a penny to lay out. And
there's the poor soul laying so bad, and thinking as I'm on the road, I
dare say, and me can no more get to her without wings nor she can to
get me."

"What is your son-in-law by trade?" asked Mr. Dempster.

"Why, he ain't got no trade to speak of, but he's warehouseman to
Campbell and Co., in Melbourne, the merchants, you know," said Mrs.

"Then he must have a good situation and regular payment--he
ought not to be so badly off," said Mr. Dempster.

"There's such expenses with a family in Melbourne, where there's much
sickness especially. A very decent, good-tempered fellow he is, and
don't spend his wages away from his home. Poor Mary! I well remember
the day she was married, and how pretty she looked in her white gown,
and how she says to me, 'Oh, my mother! I can't abear to leave you,
even for James,' and now she is agoing to leave all of us. And when
little Betsy was born, and I was a nursing of her, she looked up and
says she, 'Oh, mother! I don't think as I'm long for this world;' but I
roused her, and said she wasn't a-dying then, and my words was true,
for she was not going then; but now to think my being so far from her
and her so bad."

Then Mrs. Peck wiped her eyes energetically and sobbed a little. Mr.
Dempster seemed to be soft-hearted and simple-minded. She thought she
had made an impression, and she endeavoured to deepen it.

"I am a very old colonist. I have been in Australia this thirty
year and more, travelling about from place to place. When you and Mrs.
Frankland were talking about changes and ups and downs, I thought on a
many as I have seen in the other colonies. There's them as I remember
without a sixpence as is now rolling in gold. I don't know the Adelaide
gentry so well, but I reckon they chop and change just like the others.
It is very unlucky for me to be here just at this present time, for I
know of a many in Sydney that I might have applied to for a little
loan, and they'd have been glad to give me assistance; but,
unfortunately, I am on the Adelaide side, where nobody knows me.
There's the Hunters, of Sydney, that I was nurse in the family."

"And the Phillipses, of Wiriwilta, too, who I dare say, would be most
happy to help you if you were straitened on the Melbourne side," said
Mr. Dempster, drily. "Mr. Phillips is a more liberal man than Mr.

"It is not Mr. Hunter I'd look to, but his wife; she has the generous
spirit," said Mrs. Peck.

"The Hunters are at present in London--at least, Mr. Hunter and
the family are. Mrs. Hunter died four years ago," said Mr. Dempster.

"That's a pity. Oh, dear, dear! I am sorry to hear that news. Poor,
dear lady; but in the midst of life we are in death," said Mrs. Peck.

"No doubt we are," said Mr. Dempster. "No one knows that better than I
do, for I am always living amongst the dead, and they occasionally help
me to judge of people. I get a good deal of insight into character
through their means; and my impression is, that there is not a word of
truth in all you have just been telling me. You want to go to
Melbourne, no doubt, but it is not to see a dying daughter. You have
other plans in view which cannot be carried out here."

Mrs. Peck was somewhat taken aback by this blunt expression of opinion
coming from a man apparently so suave and gentle.

"Indeed, sir," said she, "I never heard nobody doubt my word
afore; but this comes of leaving the place where you are known. It is
to see my daughter that I am most wishful to go to Melbourne. No doubt
I might have other reasons, for I don't like Adelaide; but it's this
letter and this bad news that has made me so set on going. But I was
asking no favour of you. If I did want a loan of a trifle, I'd have
paid back every farthing of it with good interest. But I think I had
better draw on a friend of mine in Melbourne. I suppose that if I did
that, I could get the draft cashed at any of the banks?"

"You could get it cashed anywhere, provided you showed your authority
to draw, and convinced the person to whom you applied that your friend
was good for the money. Under these conditions I should not mind
advancing it for you myself."

"But you'd be rather hard to convince, I fancy," said Mrs. Peck. "After
the unhandsome way you have doubted my true story, I would not like to
apply to you. But any advance that any one would make to me would be
as safe as the bank. I have an annuity, and have had it for many

"No," said Mr. Dempster, "you have no annuity; you got a sum of money

Mrs. Peck started at this confident assertion, and coloured
indignantly. "How can you speak so positive about things you can know
nothing about? I have an annuity from another quarter."

"For valuable services, I suppose," said Mr. Dempster. "Well, if you
can prove that you are still in receipt of an annuity, and if you can
lodge an order to forestall it, I dare say you can get an advance from
any Adelaide bill discounter; but I myself would rather not do business
with a person who I feel is not to be relied on."

To put an end to the revelations, true or false, of this unpleasant old
woman, Mr. Dempster asked to be shown to bed, as he was tired; and he
found his room, though small, was as clean and comfortable as Mrs.
Frankland had been used to give to him in her more prosperous days.

Mrs. Peck's first attempt had failed, though it had appeared
very promising. She thought she would next try Frankland, who, though
he was poor, might be victimized to the extent of ten pounds. She did
not think she could affect him by dwelling much on the desire she felt
to see her dying daughter, though for the sake of consistency it was
mentioned as her motive to get to Melbourne just at this time; but she
had several sums of money due to her in Melbourne, and she was afraid,
from the letter she had just received, that she would lose them if she
kept out of the way; there was nothing like being on the spot--nothing
like prompt measures when one wants to get in money. Mr. Talbot's
letter was sufficient warrant for her to raise money on Mr. Phillips's
annuity, but not for the purpose of going to Melbourne, which she had
unluckily betrayed. It was also rather disagreeable in its tone, and
not likely to inspire confidence in any one who read it. So she had
only her own representations to trust to, and she certainly gave a very
minute, and at the same time glowing account of her debtors and
her expectations from them; but what with one thing and another she had
really never been so hard up in her life. Peck had not got all his
wages for harvesting, and she had been so foolish as to lend a little
money in Adelaide, which she feared she could not get back. Indeed,
they had a score at the inn that had lain too long; but if she could
only get her own she could pay all and be quite easy. She spoke of a
rate of interest for a trifling advance that rather dazzled Frankland,
and he was wondering if he could not manage to raise it, when his wife
came into the room, and stopped their talk by saying it was bed-time.
When she was told of Mrs. Peck's wishes and her offers, Mrs. Frankland
peremptorily refused to listen to them, saying they had no money to
advance to any one. Frankland had brought them down low enough in the
world by being so free in lending and in spending. If she had not taken
care of the business, and worked early and late, and looked after the
money so far as she had it in her power, they would not have had a roof
over their heads by this time. What with the licence that had
just been paid, and the rent that must be paid before the end of the
month, they would be cleared out, without advancing money to strangers
that were in their debt already. As Mrs. Frankland was really the
bread-winner, and at their present low water the purse-keeper also,
Mrs. Peck saw it was of no use to press her offers on her husband in
the face of such formidable opposition.

On the following day she started early in the mail conveyance for
Adelaide, leaving Peck behind as a pledge for the settlement of the
bill, and determined to raise ten or twelve pounds somehow.

With Mr. Talbot's letter in her hand she presented herself to a
bill-discounter in Adelaide. He understood her position at once; that
she was somehow connected with, but very obnoxious to a wealthy client
of Mr. Talbot's, for Mr. Phillips's name was not mentioned in the
letter; and also that, like most people of her class and habits, she
had spent her money before she got it. Of course she said
nothing of wanting to go to Melbourne, in which case, by the body of
the letter, it would be almost certain that her annuity would cease,
but the discounter wanted some security against such a contingency, and
asked her if she meant to stay in South Australia, according to
agreement. Mrs. Peck was willing to say anything, to swear anything,
and to sign anything, for his satisfaction on this point, but her very
fluency made him suspicious.

"I cannot advance this money," said he, "even on the deposit of your
order to arrest what is coming to you, unless I have some collateral
security, or some other name, in case of your going to Victoria."

Mrs. Peck could get no one to corroborate her statements but Peck, who
could be of no service to her. She felt rather in a fix.

"What should take me to Melbourne?" said she, in accents of great
surprise. "It is so much against my interest to go there, that I would
never be such a fool as to quarrel with my bread and butter; but it so
happens I am much in need of money just at the present. I am
expecting money from Scotland every mail. Indeed, it was trusting to
that as put me so back this quarter. I never doubted that I'd get a
handsome sum from Scotland; I've got the rights to it, and if it don't
come by next mail, I will prosecute. You are sure to get your money
well paid, with good interest, if you do run just a little risk."

"That may be all very well," said the bill discounter; "but, in the
meantime, can you not get any one to back you in this? I like good
interest, but I cannot lend without better security."

"There's the best of security. Mr. Talbot's next payment is due in two
months, and I make it over to you; and if that does not satisfy you, I
would give you something more next pay day, as much as would cover your
risk and your trouble, and your interest, handsome enough."

"Not at all handsome, if I chance to lose it all. One needs to keep
one's weather eye open, in dealing with old hands like you, Mrs. Peck."

"Then you won't do this for me--such a trifling accommodation
as it is?"

"Not without some one to back you," said the money-lender.

"I daresay I can easily find that, if you are so stiff," said Mrs.
Peck, as she flounced off in great indignation, and with very little
hope of succeeding in what was required.

Here was she in possession of a secret worth so much to her, and unable
to turn it to account for want of a beggarly ten or twelve pounds. The
bill discounter was too sharp for her; she must try a good-natured man
next, one who would be willing to do her a kindness--but here again,
Mr. Talbot's letter, her only authority to give any security, would
injure her more than with the keen man of the world. There was a
steamer to sail on the morrow for Melbourne, and no other for a week or
ten days; every day was of the greatest consequence, for now that she
had made up her mind not to make terms with Francis, but to do so with
his cousins, she was eager to carry her resolution into practice, and
she must get on board the Havilah, if possible.

She had lived some weeks in Adelaide in rather a poor way, and in
rather a poor neighbourhood, when she and Peck had come first across.
She had made acquaintance with a very few people, and had left Adelaide
slightly in debt, but in her eagerness she was inclined to overlook
those circumstances, and to hope that some one or other of her late
neighbours might be prevailed on to be a guarantee to the money-lender
merely as a matter of form, and he might be induced to accept of it; so
she turned her steps in the direction of her old residence.

She looked into the shop where she had been accustomed to make her
purchases of groceries, with an intention of paying the eleven
shillings which she owed if things looked promising, and if it would be
a good speculation.

"Well Mrs. Smith, and how are you?" said she to the woman who kept the
establishment with the favourite old Adelaide sign of "General Store."

"Much as usual, Mrs. Peck. You went away rather in a hurry,"
said Mrs. Smith.

"Oh! Peck had to go off to the sheep-shearing, and I had the offer of a
good nursing in the country, so I had to move at a minute's warning,
you see. But how are you getting on here?"

"Much as usual, Mrs. Peck; but the news is, that my man came home last
night, after being at them diggings for four years, and not writing me
a word, good or bad, for three and more; and now he expects me to be as
sweet as sugar to him after serving me so; and me had all his children
to keep and do for, and got no help from him no more nor if he was
dead; and now he says as how I give him the cold shoulder."

"Well, to be sure, and no wonder either! When a woman's been served so,
she has the right to look a bit stiff," said Mrs. Peck, who had heard
during her stay in Adelaide that Mrs. Smith had passed judgment by
default, and was going to take to herself another mate, which was
nothing more than the absent Smith deserved.

"Well, to be sure, that beats cock-fighting; and what does
Harris say to all this?"

"Why, in course, he's off, and I'm in such a quandary," said Mrs.

"You wasn't married to Harris, out and out, was you?" said Mrs. Peck,
who had a keen relish for such interesting news as this.

"No; there was two or three things as put it off; but the banns was
gave in last Sunday, and I had got my gown for the wedding, and lovely
it looks--and here's Smith as savage as if he had been writing to me
every month and sending me money."

"I suppose he's come home as poor as a rat, like the rest of them?"
said Mrs. Peck.

"No, no, I cannot just say that," said Mrs. Smith, relenting a little,
"He says he never had no luck till the last six months, and now he has
come back with three hundred pounds; and he's been behaving very
genteel with it, I must say, and brought presents for me and for the
children--there's a shawl for me as is quite a picter--so rich in the
colours; but I can't say I feel quite pleased at the way he
neglected me so long. And poor Harris, too; I can't just get him out of
my head all at once."

"That's natural enough," said Mrs. Peck with a sympathizing sigh.

Here Mr. Smith came into the shop, and started at the sight of Mrs.

"Well! who'd have thought of seeing you here, Mrs.? I don't rightly
recollect your name, but I know you as well as possible," said he.

"Mrs. Peck is my name," said she impressively. "I recollect you well on

"Many's the time I've seen you there," said Smith, in an embarrassed
tone of voice. "I hope as how you have your health, Mrs. Peck. Susan,
my dear, you'd better give Mrs. Peck some refreshments. Step in, Mrs.
Peck, I'm just a day home, and I ain't come back too soon, neither, as
it appears. Susan, my dear, get out the spirit bottle. Will you have
brandy with hot water or cold, Mrs. Peck?"

"With cold this hot day. I've been half baked travelling in that
mail omnibus twenty miles, and the wind blowing through it like a
flaming furnace; and now your Adelaide dust is making me as grimy as
I'm not fit to be seen," said Mrs. Peck, wiping her face with her
handkerchief, and watching how Smith mixed her brandy and water.
"There's nothing pleases me like meeting with an old friend."

"Nor me," said Smith, "if so be as she is friendly. Now, Susan, sit
down and have a glass with us. Why, the woman looks handsomer nor the
day I married her. I don't wonder at the risk I ran of being choused
out of you; but it was rather too bad, too, was it not, Mrs. Peck? If
my letters hadn't a miscarried you would never have thought of such a
thing, Susan," said he, with an insinuating smile, handing his wife a
mixture similar to that he presented to his old friend.

"If they had been written there would have been no fear of their
miscarrying," said she rather sulkily.

"Here's Mrs. Peck--my good friend, Mrs. Peck--who will be a
warrant how often I used to be a speaking of you, and a wondering what
made me give up writing."

"That I will," said Mrs. Peck, who felt this little bit of romance was
quite in her line. "Many's the time I've heard him speaking about you
and the children."

"Take another drop of brandy, Mrs. Peck," said her newly-found friend.

"Thank you," said she; "it's better brandy than we used to get at
Bendigo, but really I am in too much trouble just now to enjoy it, and
I won't take no more nor the single glass. It's a bad world and a sad
one, and I seem to have more than my share of trouble."

"Dear me! Mrs. Peck, I am sorry to hear that; and I am sure I wish I
could do anything to help you," said Smith.

"I don't like imposing on people that I haven't no claims on, but I am
in great need of twelve pounds just for a little while. I have an
annuity, as I dare say you heard at Bendigo."

"Yes, I heerd on it," said Smith, who appeared indisposed to
contradict or doubt anything that Mrs. Peck said.

"But we have been tried with the sickness and doctors' bills--Peck and
me--and I am very backward with the world just at present. If anybody
could lend me twelve pounds for two months, they'd get principal and
interest handsome. You being an old friend turned up, and me knowing
you so well at Bendigo, makes me bold enough to ask you for this little
temporary assistance. I would deposit an order for the money with you
if you will be so good as to advance it."

"Certainly, Mrs. Peck, I am not the one to be backward when a friend is
in need, and I know it will be safe enough to be paid. Susan, it is
perfectly safe. Mrs. Peck had money regular every quarter, to my
knowledge; and if she wants the money now, it shall be paid down on the
nail." And Smith told out the twelve pounds into Mrs. Peck's hands, and
received an order for repayment on Mr. Talbot, which was not to be
presented for two months.

Mrs. Peck was overjoyed at her unexpected good luck in meeting
with this returned digger, whom she had known very well at Bendigo
under another name, and where he passed himself off as the husband of
another woman. She perceived that now he had found his wife in
Adelaide, doing very well in business, he would rather that she heard
nothing of his own little infidelities, particularly in the first days
of meeting, and his probable loss of the money he advanced was not too
high a price to pay to purchase silence.

Everything had turned out most propitiously for Mrs. Peck, so far. The
information from Mr. Dempster showed that all her objects of interest
were collected in one spot, and this recognition of Smith put into her
hands the means to get to them while Mr. Phillips was absent. She was
flushed with hope and confident expectation when she made her purchases
of some articles of ready-made clothing, and took out her passage in
Melbourne in the 'Havilah,' to prosecute her plans for revenge on
Francis and advantages to herself.

Chapter IV.

Miss Phillips Meets With A Congenial Spirit In Victoria

As Mr Dempster had reported there had been a division in the family of
the Phillipses shortly after they landed. Mrs. Phillips wished to
remain in Melbourne for a month or two, as she did not feel able to
stand the long land journey at this particular time. Neither her
husband nor herself had much confidence in Dr. Grant's skill, and she
could have better attendance in town. Mr. Phillips having ascertained
that Mrs. Peck was in Adelaide, and having, through Mr. Talbot, sent a
request that she should remain there, which her own interest was likely
to make her attend to, had less objection to her staying in
Melbourne than he ever had before; so he took a suite of furnished
apartments for her and those of the family who remained in town.

Jane Melville went at once to Wiriwilta with the children, who all
longed to be there, and who disliked Melbourne more than London. Miss
Phillips had her choice to remain in town or to go up to the station,
and she decided on the former alternative, for she began to fear the
station would be very dull, and would contrast unfavourably with the
voyage, which had been lively and pleasant. There were some of her
fellow-passengers whom she was unwilling to lose sight of; and Mr.
Brandon was not at Barragong, but in Adelaide, so, on the whole, she
thought it would be preferable to stay. She gave as her ostensible
reason for the choice, her wish to be with Mrs. Phillips during her
brother's necessary absence. Mr. Phillips stayed with his wife till she
presented him with a second son, and then, as she was doing very well,
he left her in the care of his sister and Elsie.

He had been rather annoyed to find that Brandon had been amusing
himself by taking a journey to Adelaide so soon after coming out to the
colony again. Dr. Grant came down to meet Phillips, and represented
that a great deal had gone amiss at Wiriwilta since he (Dr. Grant) had
been supplanted in the charge of the stations; so that he thought it
indispensable to go up with the least possible delay to look to all the
flocks and the out-stations.

"It was the wildest thing in Brandon to start off in that way," said
Grant, "with a poor lad of a nephew who did not know a wattle from a
gum-tree when he came, and scarcely a sheep from a cow. I never would
have done such a thing."


Back to Full Books