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would have hailed any fate which promised to end his sorrowful existence. And yet it was his lot to watch from the rocking, wavetossed spar, from which he kept his outlook on the tragic scene around him, mast after mast crowded with human beings roll over the side of the blazing wreck; and in less than forty minutes after Greville himself had been thrown into the waves, the bull, with all the heavy machinery, sank suddenly into the ocean, engulfing the only four or five passengers who were still visible holding on to planks in immediate proximity to the wreck, and leaving Greville the only survivor, so far as he could see, of the whole ship's company,
Through all that night poor Charles lay at full length on the frail raft which bore him up, and when morning dawned, chilled and exhausted, he sank into a stupor from which he was suddenly roused by a violent concussion which, if he had not been lashed to the spars which supported him, would have plunged him into the sea. Lifting bis eyes, he saw a small brig carrying close-reefed square sails within a few yards of him, but rapidly leaving the spot where he lay in a northerly direction; but before ten minutes had elapsed he could see the brig shortening sail, porting her helm, and bearing up again for his raft. The helmsman of the vessel, which was a French trader laden with fruit from St. Michael's, and bound for St. Nazaire, had seen an object in the waves as they passed Greville's raft, and the officer on deck immediately determined to put about, fancying that he saw through his glass a human figure in the waves. A boat was sent off, and poor Charles unlashed from his spars and taken on board the ‘Laure. Having been for more than thirty-six hours without food, and almost frozen with the cold, the effort of struggling from the raft to the boat, and from the boat to the brig, brought on a comatose state, which lasted for more than two hours before he at all revived. The kindness of the captain and crew of the · Laure' was unbounded. Before Charles had even the power of telling a word of his story, they provided him with every comfort at their command, and during the week which elapsed before they reached St. Nazaire, Greville had good reason for thankfulness not only that his life had been spared, but that he had fallen among these friendly Frenchmen, with whom he passed his days chatting pleasantly, and only perplexed and tried when the day came for his landing at St. Nazaire. The night was dark, and the rain poured down in torrents, when Greville stepped from the dingy of the Laure' on the quay, without a shilling in his pocket or any protection from the weather but that afforded by a coarse oilskin cape, lent by one of the sailors, who had enough instinct to perceive that the borrower was a gentleman, and enough good nature to help him so far even without any prospect of repayment. The glare of a gas lamp threw its rays on the sign of the Lion d'Or,' which seemed a sufficiently humble hostelry for a traveller whose want of baggage might indicate want of money, and thither Greville betook himself, not without some misgivings as to his reception. «Il n'y a pas de place, Monsieur, brusquely responded a shabby-looking subordinate to the traveller's appeal for hospitality : 'il faut voyager à Nantes pour trouver un assez magnifique logement pour Milord. The problem thus presented of a journey to Nantes without a franc in his pocket, and with no credit to obtain one, was rather too much for Greville's wits, and he was beginning to think of making tracks for the old fruit ship, which was about this time beginning to discharge her cargo, when he was suddenly accosted by a not unfamiliar voice, which proved to be that of an Englishman at all events, though at the first moment and in the darkness Greville could scarcely distinguish it; and, indeed, it could only have been by his voice that Greville, whose face had been unshaven for three weeks, and whose raiment presented a strange contrast to his average costume in England, could have been at that time distinguished at all.
“Sir! is that you ?' was the rapid interrogatory of the stranger. • I'm sure it is. I always said I should know your voice all over the world to the end of time; but where on earth have you been ?'
"Well, the fact is I haven't been on earth at all lately, responded Greville, recognising at last his old friend of Fig Tree Court, who was on his way to discharge his duties as commissioner for examining witnesses at Rio de Janeiro. “I've been in the water, or on it, for some time past, and I shouldn't be sorry to be on earth again, if I could only get something to eat, and some decent clothes to put on, and a roof to cover me.'
The story of Greville's shipwreck and marvellous escape was soon told to the astonished John Brown, who, notwithstanding all his sympathy for his patron's sufferings, was inwardly rejoiced at the opportunity which seemed to be opening to him of offering some substantial token of his gratitude.
Well,' he said, I've a credit on one of the banks at Nantes, and I've only come down here to see about a passage by one of the Messageries steamers to Brazil. My employers are bound to keep me in cash for all my expenses, and I can advance anything you want. There's no decent place for a fellow here; we must go to Nantes by the next train, and to-morrow you can settle what to do next. My steamer doesn't start for four days, so there's plenty of time to arrange plans.' By midnight Greville found himself comfortably reposing on a spring bedstead at one of the best hotels at Nantes, dreaming of the Empire Queen'as her mainmast sank under the waves, drawing with it his own helpless self, inseparably lashed on to the mast, while the fair form of Gertrude was blazing at the figure-head, and Uncle Richardson complacently gazing on the scene from the deck of his
refreshing night's rest at the “Quatre Saisons,' and sumptuous breakfast, provided in royal style by Mr. John Brown, Charles felt up to anything except returning to England ; and, in
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