« AnteriorContinuar »
of a philosophical lecture from Miss Lydia Buncombe, and the rest of the paper seems to be filled up with advertisements of Maravilla Cocoa, and Glenfield Starch, and Holloway's Pills, except a short paragraph headed “Snoreham,” announcing the sudden death of Mr. Proser, supposed to have been caused by a shock to the system, occasioned by a recent judgment of the Privy Council. Now, old fellow, if I haven't redeemed my promise of giving you news of the people at the Grange, I should like to know what will satisfy you. But I must go on deck and have a talk with the skipper, and settle whether we are to run for Buenos Ayres or keep our course straight for the Horn.' So saying, St. John, with a light step and light heart, tripped on deck, leaving Lord Henry and our hero to their meditations; the former, who had been rather bored by the “Shamboro’ Gazette,' already half asleep; the latter, consumed in his inmost heart by a fire intenser than that of the volcanic Cordilleras of Patagonia, while the glaciers of those mountains might aptly symbolise the icy chill which seemed to deaden and freeze poor Charles's life-blood.
WELL, what do the doctors say ? inquired Sir Henry, with an empressement quite unusual to him, as he entered the library at the Grange; I met Gregory at the lodge, but these country apothecaries always talk such a lot of Latin that nobody but a schoolboy can understand them. What did Sir Todd Parker say, and what was the upshot of the consultation ?'
Sir Todd was only here twenty minutes,' replied Lady Anne;' he had to catch the 4.30 train. I don't think he could have been more than ten minutes with our dear patient, and I suppose about five more with Mr. Gregory afterwards; and when he came in here for a cup of coffee before starting, there was scarcely any time to ask him questions; the only definite thing I could extract from him was, that he thought there was a cavity in the left lung, and he said that he had left full instructions with Mr. Gregory, whose treatment had been hitherto all that could be desired. I asked Mr. Gregory, beforehand, to find out about Sir Todd's fee, which he said was a hundred guineas, for which Lady Berkeley gave him a draft.'
• But, my dear Lady Anne, what about this “ cavity”? I thought all lungs had cavities; and besides, cannot people get on with one lung, if it's sound? I really wish there were no doctors to put one into a fright about people one loves, with all this mysterious jargon. There's Gregory, who's always talking about the“ mucous membrane” and the “cellular tissues," and I don't believe he knows what they are or where they are. But is Gerty to remain shut up in her room and none of us to see her?'
Well, my dear Sir Henry, both doctors did certainly enjoin complete rest and quiet until warmer weather came, when we might possibly move her to the South of France or Madeira.'
Sir Henry pursued the question no further, partly, perhaps, because he feared he foresaw the sorrow which was in store for them all.
The Moonbeam' is gliding into the harbour of Valparaiso, for it had been arranged that any despatches for Lord Henry, either from New Zealand or from the Colonial Office, should be addressed there. As for St. John, who never wrote to anybody, he naturally did not expect anybody to write to him; for, said he, what on earth should people write about unless they are in love, and then they ought to be put in a lunatic asylum.'
Charles, who had succeeded, as he supposed, during his voyage round the Horn in stifling all tender passions, and had resolved that no romantic delusions should ever more possess his soul, felt that he at all events was not a subject for St. John's strait waistcoat; and when the Panama mail was delivered at Valparaiso, Charles cared not what might be its contents so far as he was concerned. To Lord Henry it brought the tidings of a Maori war and a ministerial crisis in New Zealand, and some instructions from the Secretary of State as to how the Governor was to deal with both. But to a mind so innocent of all knowledge of colonial politics as that of Lord Henry, the tidings conveyed no ground of apprehension. As he puffed away at his pipe, and uttered some interjectional vows about putting the niggers down,' he dictated to his private secretary letters to the Colonial Office and to Sir Hector Crowen, acknowledging their favours, and informing the latter that he should probably be at Government House before any despatch could reach New Zealand by the mail.
Charles employed a portion of his short half-day at Valparaiso in writing to Lady Anne, to whom it was his one relief to open his overburdened heart. He told her of the rumours that had reached him and of their sources, and unfolded his own plans; concluding with a request that her next letter to him might be addressed to Lyttelton. Though St. John stowed as much coal as the bunkers of the Moonbeam' would hold, the improbability of replenishing his stock rendered economy in fuel necessary, in anticipation of a run of over 4,000 miles.
One day in the ‘Moonbeam' closely resembled another, and as no land was touched on the voyage, the only varieties were those of a calm or troubled sky and sea, which appropriately reflected the ups and downs of Charles's spirits. Lord Henry's, on the contrary, maintained a tolerably uniform mediocrity. It was a source of consolation to him that his creditors in England were now separated from him by a distance of nearly 12,000 miles, and that his salary of 5,000l. a year, as Governor, had been running for some months. Having been assured, moreover, that New Zealand was a self-governing colony,' Lord Henry naturally inferred that there would be nothing for him to do except to represent the Queen. He had heard indeed of a Maori war,
but was it not the business of the Commander of the Forces to put that down?
It was, therefore, in a very pleasant and self-satisfied frame of mind that Lord Henry landed at Wellington from the Moonbeam, under a salute, and amid the cheers of the populace, and was escorted by Sir Hector and his body-guard to Government House. Though Lyttelton was Greville's eventual destination, he could not well refuse the hospitable invitation of the Governor to take up his quarters for a few days at Wellington before proceeding southward.
This brief parenthesis gave our hero an opportunity of observing the conflicts of Blues and Buffs' in an entirely new sphere.
Sir Hector, who had been for some time due at Sydney as Governor of New South Wales, started for his destination three days after Lord Henry's arrival at Wellington, having previously given his successor a lucid précis of the situation, which was to Lord Henry wholly unintelligible. The main facts appeared to be that Sir Hector's responsible advisers had introduced into the New Zealand Parliament a bill for paying all its members 4ool. a year each and travelling expenses; and the ministry, being defeated on this measure, had insisted on an appeal to the constituencies, which, at the time of Lord Henry's arrival, was taking place. There was also a Maori war going on in the Waikato country, where the natives were vigorously peppering the British troops with powder and shot, bought, in spite of an ordinance to the contrary, from colonial traders. There were thus politico-military questions calculated to puzzle wiser heads than Lord Henry's bristling on all sides; and when Sir Hector was gone to Sydney, and the new Governor was left with no officials to consult but his aide-de-camp and his private secretary-who were, if possible, more ignorant than himself—it may be imagined that his Excellency felt rather in the dark.
On the morning after Sir Hector Crowen's departure, three of the leading members of the Opposition were announced at Government House. After preliminary courtesies had been exchanged, they propounded their friendly purpose of cautioning his Excellency against placing implicit confidence in the ministers who now provisionally held office. It was, as they said, with this disinterested view that Messrs. Brown, Jones, and Robinson waited upon the Governor, who, as a stranger in the colony, might be misled by his so-called “advisers. The ministers were, said they, “men of no position in the colonymere adventurers, who had, by their want of judgment and principle, brought about the present crisis.'
Scarcely had Lord Henry succeeded in bowing out his guests, when the chief members of the Administration were ushered into the viceregal presence. Having taken with Sir Hector a formal part in
the reception of Lord Henry a few days before, these gentlemen were not altogether strangers to him. Mr. Jobson, the Prime Minister, was the chief spokesman. He talked of the weather, of the charming climate of the colony, of the attachment of himself and his colleagues to Sir Hector—whom they had, in fact, bullied into the resignation of his post. Apropos of Sir Hector, reference was made to the bushrangers, who were then haunting his new dominion in New South Wales, and by a natural transition in the conversation, these marauders were compared to the far more insidious enemies who at this moment were disturbing the peace of New Zealand. When Lord Henry was expecting a dissertation on Maoris and their "pahs, Mr. Jobson explained that the real foes to the Governor's future peace, against whose machinations it was the duty of his responsible advisers to warn his Excellency at the earliest possible moment, were the identical Brown, and Jones, and Robinson who had just retired from his presence.
Mr. Jobson, who was quite aware that the triumvirate of the Opposition had been first in the field, exercised his right of reply on their supposed attacks on the Jobson administration very freely; and Lord Henry, whose addled brain was quite unequal to any reply or discussion, determined, when the visit was ended, to rush forth at once, and escape the danger of a third deputation.
The carriage was therefore ordered immediately. To Greville, who was to leave for Lyttelton the next day, and was the companion of his drive, and to whom, therefore, he could safely confide his perplexities, Lord Henry, in the course of their afternoon's drive, confessed his troubles and anxieties.
'If these wretched ministers don't get a majority out of the new Parliament, I shall have nothing for it but to send for a new set. I wish you'd take to politics, Greville, and save me from these fellows. I never saw such a set of cads in my life. Cabinet ministers, indeed! Why, there's not a man among them that can sound his aspirates, or speak the Queen's English. And they have the impudence to tell me that it does not matter what instructions I may have from home, but I must do what they tell me.
St. John says he's going to take you down in the “ Moonbeam” to-morrow to Lyttelton. Why don't you stand for some place down there, and come back a ready-made Prime Minister? I think you said you had a contested election in England, so it won't be anything new to you.'
• Thank you—very kind,' replied Greville, suppressing the inward sense of horror wbich the bare idea of a colonial edition of his Shamboro' campaign suggested; but I've no money to spend in electioneering; and I came out here in the hope of retrieving, if possible, the losses in which English political contests have involved me. I'm going in for sheep farming up country in Canterbury, and if I can get a berth in that line, I must stick to it-for the present, at least.
The next morning, wind and tide favouring, St. John made ready
for his departure, and warned Greville to be ready. Wellington was as lively as it could under any circumstances be with preparations for the forthcoming elections; and though no ribbons or rosettes, either buff or blue, were visible, there were many tokens that something was rufiling the ordinary calm current of colonial life. St. John, who had not troubled himself to inquire into politics, and knew nothing of the pending election, supposed innocently that the knots of people on the quay were assembled in honour of himself and the Moonbeam,' and expressed a hope to Greville that the crowd would not cheer, as he should not know what to say in reply. Before, however, the · Moonbeam' was clear of Cook's Straits, Greville had an opportunity of explaining the position of affairs to his friend, so that when they arrived at Lyttelton the hubbub going on there and at Christchurch did not surprise him. But Greville's first object was not to amuse himself with colonial politics, but to find out his old schoolfellows, the Arkwrights, with whom he hoped to ally himself in his new calling. Luckily falling in at the Christchurch Club with a wool-broker with whom the Arkwrights had transactions, Charles learnt that they had a sheep-run about sixty miles off, not far from Timaru. Bidding farewell to St. John, who was to be off, as soon as he had coaled the • Moonbeam,' for Melbourne, where he had promised to pick up a bishop going home for a change, Greville started the next morning by one of Cobb's coaches, which had not then, as now, been superseded by a railway, for Arkwright's station, close to which the coach passed, and early in the afternoon he was deposited within a few yards of Arkwright's wool-shed, and not more than a quarter of a mile from their house.
The Arkwright brothers, having started with very small capital, had taken three years to attain their present position, which was not indeed a very grand one. They had between them about 10,000 sheep, pastured on an area of about 30,000 acres. What with the cost of fencing and building, and losses by floods and other casualties, and fluctuations in the wool market, the Arkwrights, though both without encumbrances in the shape of wife or child, had up to this time found it as much as they could do to make both ends meet. A loan from their agents at 8 per cent. hung round their necks, and under all circumstances the sudden descent on the Dovedale station of an old friend with a little capital, and prepared to embark it in their business, was a very welcome apparition. The elder brother, who had been some years ago stroke of the Brasenose boat at Oxford, and had always affected athletics rather than classics or mathematics, was engaged in an attempt to shoe his mare at a forge close to the shed where the coach deposited Greville, and did not at first hear the coach or see any of its passengers; nor was it until the vehicle had resumed its journey that he noticed a young man, who, by his uncolonial appearance, was evidently a fresh arrival, standing a few yards off. Mutual recognitions were soon exchanged, and all the hundred questions sure to grow out of so sudden an encounter asked and answered. Leaving the mare's shoe to be finished