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reply to the offer of Brown of a free use of his credit letter, for the purposes of Charles's journey money, he decidedly informed him that, having once started on his New Zealand route, it formed no part of his plan to go home for the operation of starting again. Reculer pour mieux sauter might be a very good maxim for a fox-hunter, but a very bad one for an emigrant. He should await remittances at Nantes, which would involve only a few days' delay, and in the meantime he consented to borrow ten napoleons for a temporary outfit, being at that moment encased in John Brown's garments.
You are off by the next Messageries steamer for Brazil, are you not? I'll come with you. I've always wanted to see South America and its Pampas; and, perhaps, while you are doing business at Rio, I may get a peep at the Andes.'
Though John Brown was rather astonished at what seemed a sudden change of purpose on the part of his patron, who had been a few weeks ago en route for New Zealand, his comparatively humble position, and, still more, the recollection of the wide gulf which in former days had separated the scrubby little John from the aristocratic pupil who dawdled away his hours at the chambers in Stone Buildings, forbade the slightest criticism. Mr. Brown simply forked out the ten napoleons, and obsequiously asked whether he should go by the next train to St. Nazaire, and secure the best available berth in the Grand Monarque,' by which ship Brown himself had engaged his own passage to Rio. Greville acquiesced, and, as a sort of plea for his altered plan, reminded Brown that, after all, Rio was on the way to New Zealand, and, perhaps, the nearest for him, under the circumstances.
John departed on his errand, and Charles, left to his own meditations, travelled, far more rapidly than words could have been transmitted by the electric wire, to Gertrude and the Grange. The half-written letter which was in progress just before the catastrophe of the Empire Queen' was in the Bay of Biscay. Charles now wrote and posted another to Lady Anne, which, unhappily, was never destined to reach its destination, having been despatched by a mailboat which was sunk by a collision in the Channel.
Nobody in England had heard anything of Greville since he left his native shore. Some of those who called themselves his friends' had not even thought of him. Even Augustus only remarked now and then, 'What an ass Charles was to bolt in that way. I'd never have lent him my dog-cart if I'd known what he was about.' But there was one who had not forgotten him. Gertrude had passed the winter and spring in Italy with the Richardsons, cherishing in secret the affection which she dared not betray. She had returned only a few days after Greville's departure far from well, and Lady Berkeley claimed her turn of her niece's society. She continued, however, even under all the cheerful influences of the Grange, an invalid hardly able to make an occasional excursion beyond Lady Berkeley's boudoir, where she was visited now and then by Lady Anne. She longed to
receive news of Greville, and yet she dared not show any special interest in him, as no one knew her secret. At first the arrival of each post raised a flutter of expectation in her heart, to be so miserably succeeded by a blank despondency that hope seemed gradually to vanish altogether, and Lady Anne watched with tender anxiety the settled look of woe, and the gradually attenuating form, which indicated the approach of that malady which science can neither cure nor arrest.
On a chilly morning in the first week of March, when fishing had not begun, and shooting had ended, and hunting was drawing to a close, and Augustus was suffering from the depression naturally incidental to such circumstances, he took up in the library, contrary to his wont, the 'Shamboro' Gazette,' and under the head of Latest Intelligence' read the following paragraph, at the commencement of which stood in large type, 'Loss by fire of the "Empire Queen."-We regret to state that this fine ship, 2,000 tons burden, has, according to advices received yesterday at Lloyd's, been burnt in the Bay of Biscay; all hands lost. Among the passengers, we regret to state, was Mr. Charles Greville, recently a candidate for the representation of this borough. The only information which has as yet been received as to this calamitous event, is from the captain and crew of a French fruit vessel homeward bound from the Azores.' To give Augustus his due, it must be recorded that for the moment every thought of selfish amusements-everything, in fact, but the sense of a terrible shock at the fate of his friend-vanished from his mind. His father and mother being for the day absent from home, he rushed upstairs to Lady Berkeley's boudoir in search of Lady Anne, to communicate to her the sad tidings. Unfortunately Gertrude was in the room, and though Augustus said nothing, his manner convinced her that something terrible had happened. Nor was this suspicion dispelled when poor Augustus, who was rather clumsy in his attempts at concealment, asked Lady Anne to come downstairs, as he had something to tell her. She followed him out of the room, and though the paragraph announced poor Charles's death as certainly as if day, month, and place had been recorded in the obituary column of the Times,' Lady Anne, who had as much confidence in the facts reported in that journal as she had contempt for the opinions propounded by it, suggested that before accepting the Shamboro' Gazette' as gospel, recourse should be had for confirmation to the 'Daily London Oracle,' which, as her ladyship said, always had the most accurate shipping intelligence. Alas! the confirmation was, on reference to the journal in question, only too complete; for, in addition to the record of the loss, the underwriters were stated to have accepted their full liability for the insurances of the ship. Augustus was in despair. The rascally shipowners' came in for a full share of his anathemas. They had sent, he declared, a wretched old coffin to sea, laden probably with gun-cotton and petroleum, for the express purpose of pocketing 5,000l. by the murder of their
fellow-creatures. He would indict them! He would write to the 'Times!' Poor old Charles was worth thousands of such scoundrels!
But while the impetuous Augustus was helplessly raving, Lady Anne was anxiously considering how to break the terrible tidings to Gertrude. Should she go straight back to the boudoir, and take her chance of any interrogatories that might be addressed to her? Should she wait for the return of Lady Berkeley? She trembled at the possible effect of the news on poor Gertrude. It was dreadful to think of the shock to her shattered nerves. Lady Anne ascended the stairs with a heavy heart, pondering still in her mind whether to speak with Gertrude at once, or whether to wait till an absolute necessity for doing so should arise.
We draw a veil over the crisis of Gertrude's grief. The shock was overwhelming, and her health seemed likely to give way altogether. A mournful gloom settled for a time upon the Grange. The very servants all talked with genuine sorrow of 'poor dear Mr. Greville ;' and except for the absence of mutes from the hall-door, you would have supposed that a sort of chronic funeral was going on at the Grange for three weeks after the arrival of the tidings of the loss of the Empire Queen.'
But leaving Charles's friends to lament his supposed loss, let us pick up the threads of our narrative, so far as one at least of the other actors in the drama is concerned.
THE dissolution of Parliament had given the Ministry a working majority of fifty; and though the crisis had, as a matter of fact, arisen out of some squabble at Hong Kong, the constituencies, knowing little and caring less about the unintelligible Chinese puzzle, had practically taken matters very much into their own hands, and returned the men they liked best, or the men who paid most, irrespective of politics.
Some wiseacres pronounced the net result to be an indication of 'Liberal reaction.' The Reform Club was in ecstasies, and though some of the old stagers at Brookes's shook their heads, the advanced Radicals said there was nothing in them, and even openly indulged in expressions of contemptuous pity for the weak brethren who were incapable of appreciating the noble aspirations of the Prime Minister, who was for the moment the idol at once of English Jacobins and Irish Whiteboys, of Oxford High Churchmen and Manchester Freetraders. Poor Jem, for whom his affectionate uncle had anticipated the pedestal of an Under-Secretaryship, to be ascended from the stepping-stone of Shamboro', was rather in the dumps, not from any low feelings of disappointed personal ambition, but because he could not
throw himself into the ranks of gushing Radicalism at what seemed to be the hour of its approaching triumph.
'Well, what next, I wonder?' said Sir T. Tarleton. If Merrypebble goes at this pace, depend upon it he won't keep his team together for six months. He may play at Ritualism or Methodism, or send the Church to Jericho if he likes, but when he comes to trifle with the law of entail, and conspire with the poachers to stop all our sport, it's time for the landowners to look alive. Don't talk to me about the Liberal party and the progress of opinion while all the good old Whigs are being dished and served up. I'd rather have the Tories back again, and then we could fight and turn them out, and know where we were, at all events.'
Jem was just about to suggest to his uncle that they knew where they were,' and to give reasons for self-gratulation on the happy position of affairs, when the library door opened, and a visitor of some consequence was announced, who proved to be no less a personage than the Secretary of State for the Colonies, who had been an old college friend of Sir T. Tarleton's, and who, knowing that Jem had fought for the party at Shamboro', came to offer him, through his uncle, a lucrative appointment in the West Indies which lay within his patronage.
'We pay our fellows who lose, you see what are we likely to do with those who win?' chuckled the Cabinet Minister as he unfolded his gracious intentions to the rather ungrateful Jem, whose associations with Demerara were blended with mutinous negroes, swamps, and yellow fever.
Not anticipating any demurrer on the part of his fastidious nephew, Sir Thomas, who had just paid the balance of the Shamboro' bills, and did not see his way to any English career for Jem, assured his old friend that this was the very thing he had wished for his nephew, who, he was sure, would at once have spoken for himself if he had not been rather taken aback at this unexpected bit of good luck. Without waiting for further thanks, the Colonial Minister, who was, he said, due to meet a deputation at the office, instantly rushed out of the room, and was out of Arlington Street before Jem had realised the situation.
'But am I really to take this place, my dear uncle, and bury myself alive in British Guiana, where I care for nobody, and nobody cares for me?'
'Well, all I can say is, if you don't, I can't tell what you are to do with yourself, except lounge about the Travellers', and rough it on your four hundred a year. I've nothing for you, and that horrid election has fairly cleared me out. So I should say, "take the goods the gods provide you." A firstrate opening for a clever fellow! Why, there's my old friend Eastbrook, Governor-General of India, with his 28,000l. a year, and he began not so long ago as Superintendent of Honduras; and they shifted him from Belize to Trinidad, and from Trinidad to Jamaica, and from Jamaica to Van Diemen's Land, and
from Van Diemen's Land to Nova Scotia, and from Nova Scotia to the Cape of Good Hope, and from the Cape to Bombay; and when poor Scatterbrains got into a scrape about some war with the Rajpoot Princes, they sent Eastbrook to Calcutta, and he spends half his time on the cool hills at Simla, and they tell me leads a very jolly life of it. So you see what you may come to before long, and all out of this Demerara appointment. No, don't thank me-thank those beneficent stars which saved you from Shamboro' and a career of juvenile Jacobinism, which would have ended in smoke, or something worse.'
Jem had not the remotest idea of thanking his uncle. Indeed, it was as much as he could do to refrain from banning him; but seeing no alternative open to him but, outwardly at least, to accept his sentence of transportation, he did what people often do when they feel compelled to say something which they intend shall mean nothinghe asked a question:
'Ought I to write to the Secretary of State about this, Uncle Tarleton?'
Well, I don't know that you need. He considers the favour done to me for backing the party by starting you for Shamboro', and it wasn't necessary for him to trouble himself about your fitness for the post, as the salary will come out of the revenues of the colony, and there will be nobody to grumble about it in the House of Commons, and pretend that it's a job.'
Jem's disgust would, in spite of his awe of his uncle, have found utterance in some protest at this last remark, if all further conversation had not been suddenly suspended by the arrival of a telegraphic message summoning Sir Thomas from the room.
Mr. James Maxwell was shortly gazetted as head of the Immigration Department in British Guiana, salary 1,200l. a year, just thrice the amount of the allowance he had hitherto enjoyed, and more than ten times as much as he was ever likely to earn from any occupation in England. Most of his acquaintances considered him 'an awfully lucky fellow' to drop into so princely a stipend with nothing to do, as they said, but to whack the coolies and pocket the money.' It was arranged to give Jem a parting dinner at Willis's Rooms, with a popular nobleman in the chair, who was at once a good cricketer and a fluent orator, and everything went off as well as possible. Finally, Jem went off too, cursing, we regret to say, the hard fate which bestowed talents originally intended for the extirpation of despots and the regeneration of mankind on the walloping of niggers and the development of sugar-canes. But as the Cornish cliffs receded from his gaze on the deck of the West Indian steamer, the AgentGeneral of Immigration for British Guiana was comforted by the thought which has consoled other exiles in a similar predicament, viz. that it would lead to something else.' And once settled at his post in Demerara, Jem developed into a highly important official, intent upon his duties, and nursing his ambition for some higher service which was still in the future, when we finally part with him.