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he spoke not a word, even to Augustus, of the telegram or its tidings, but determined to wait till the promised letter should convey to him next morning the full particulars of his fate. It so happened that when that letter was delivered to him, Greville was sitting in what was called the gallery at the Grange-a long oak-panelled room which opened both into the library and the drawing-room, and afforded a rendezvous before dinner and after breakfast to the members of the family who formed the inner circle at the Grange. The only individual who happened to be seated in the recess of the oriel window which was in the centre of the gallery when Greville's letters were brought to him was Lady Anne, who was busily occupied in knitting a pair of thick worsted socks for Augustus; and she happened to have arrived at the critical operation of turning the curve of the sock's heel when Greville, who suddenly resolved to make the good lady his confidante, and finding it no longer possible to brood alone over his troubles, asked Lady Anne if she was at leisure. The benevolent lady at once expressed her willingness to listen to any communication it might please Mr. Greville to make to her. Whereupon he poured forth the full tale of his misfortunes, and ended by handing to her for perusal the letter he had just received. It was dated from Chancery Lane, and ran as follows:
Greville ats. Swallow and another.
Sir,-We regret to inform you that mainly in consequence of the absence of a material witness for the defendant in this cause, a verdict for the plaintiff was this day given by a common jury in the Court of Queen's Bench, with the exorbitant damages of 10,000l. Should you desire it, we will instruct counsel to move next Term for a rule nisi for a new trial on the ground of misdirection on the part of the Judge; but we cannot undertake to urge this course, the result of which would be necessarily doubtful. The costs already incurred in defending the action are, we regret to say, heavy, and when those of the plaintiff are added to them we fear the amount will not fall far short of 2,00cl. Awaiting your instructions, we remain your obedient servants,
To C. Greville, Esq.
By what instinct Charles was led to confide his troubles to Lady Anne can be explained only on the same principle on which the gravitation of all troubled spirits to that lady's counsels is accounted for. She knew nothing of law or lawyers, and had not the remotest idea of the meaning of a 'rule nisi,' but she carried about with her a stock of sympathy which seemed absolutely inexhaustible, and Charles felt assured that the heart would supply all deficiencies of acquaintance with business, and that she was sure to help him in his perplexity.
'Well,' said Lady Anne, after reading Messrs. Truman's letter, and hearing Charles's story from beginning to end, one thing is clear; you had better go to the workhouse at once than have anything more to do with the lawyers. But does Sir Henry know about all this?'
'He knows nothing. I have carefully concealed everything from everybody; Augustus knows about the action, but nothing about the verdict. I can't stay here-I will not have these dear people worried with my affairs. I must be off to-day'
'But where are you going, and what are your plans?'
'I have no plans except to pay my debts if I can, and get as far from England as I can when I have done it. When I have sold out capital enough to pay these fellows, and all their rascally costs, I shall have about enough left to take a sheep run in New Zealand and to stock it. There are two old school fellows of mine there now, and we shall get along well enough together. It's my only chance; but I can't bear to tell Sir Henry of all this. It seems so disgraceful to have made such an ass of myself. You must tell them all for me, and I shall be just in time for the next train if I am off at once. There's only one other person you must tell my story to-though of course everybody will know it through those wretched newspapers in a week. But you must tell it all to Gertrude, for I am engaged to her.'
Engaged!' exclaimed Lady Anne with well-feigned astonishment. "Yes,' quietly replied Charles. 'It was all done in two minutes at the ball last Christmas. I had not the remotest notion then of what all this business would come to, and confidently expected that somehow I should get well out of it. But now I am what Mr. Richardson would call a beggar, and as he always hated me, he will now have a good excuse for refusing his consent to our marriage, so there must be an end of it all.' With these words, Charles, who was fairly overcome and dreaded a breakdown in the presence even of the sympathising Lady Anne, bolted out of the room, rushed upstairs, and in less than half an hour was driving rapidly through the lodge gate in Augustus's dog-cart, little dreaming of the trials which awaited him, or of the winters destined to roll over his head ere he again entered the hospitable precincts of the Grange.
The transaction of Greville's necessary business in London before his departure for New Zealand was only an affair of a few days. Having ascertained as nearly as was possible from his solicitors the amount which would be required to cover damages and costs in Messrs. Cheetham's suit, and having also estimated the cash in hand which would be required for his immediate purposes in New Zealand, Greville gave an order to his broker to sell out of the Funds as much capital as would enable him to meet all claims. He then took his passage in the Empire Queen,' the first vessel of a line of auxiliary screw passenger ships bound for Melbourne, provided himself with a slender outfit (for he hated the encumbrances of superfluous baggage), and bidding farewell to two or three old friends who happened to be in London, before a full week had passed since his sudden departure from the Grange, Greville had passed the Nore on his voyage to the Antipodes.
THE Empire Queen' was slowly steaming southward, against an adverse wind, and Greville was busily occupied in preparing a letter for the chance of falling in off the Cape with a homeward-bound vessel. The letter, which contained a record of his hitherto uneventful voyage and a programme of his plans in New Zealand, was addressed to Lady Anne, but written for Gertrude (a practice which lovers have been known occasionally to adopt), when that sound so fearful to all voyagers in mid ocean-the cry of Fire!'-was suddenly heard by the occupants of the saloon. Rushing on deck with the rest, Greville at once realised, from the dense cloud of smoke rising from the forward hatchway, the imminent peril of the situation. Presently sparks, and ten minutes afterwards flame, were commingled with the smoke. Crowds of steerage passengers-men and women-rushed aft. In vain the ship's officers strove to maintain discipline even among the crew, who were panic-stricken and indifferent to all orders, and seemed to think of nothing but their own danger. Instead of making any efforts to extinguish the fire, half a dozen of these cowards (two of whom were Lascars, shipped at the last moment at Plymouth) rushed to one of the boats, and, with their clasp-knives, tried to cut it off the davits; but the ropes became entangled, and the boat, falling stern first into the water, capsized and became useless. The same fate befell another, which a frenzied body of emigrants had seized and actually succeeded in lowering; but a crowd of helpless men, women, and children, jumping on board in the agony of despair, sank her down to the gunwale, and the next heavy wave swamped her and drowned all hands. Greville meanwhile, finding that in the hopeless anarchy which prevailed, the restoration of anything like order or submission to the command of the ship's officers was impossible, devoted himself to efforts to save the lives of some of the poor women and children who had been deserted by their natural guardians.
He was engaged in lashing together some spars, out of which he hoped to form a raft, when the explosion of a cask of petroleum, which had become ignited by the excessive heat of the surrounding atmosphere, shivered the planks of that portion of the deck on which he was standing and of the bulwarks against which he was leaning. He fell overboard, and was for a short time immersed in the waves. But the same shock which threw him into the water precipitated also in the same direction the half-finished raft which, with the assistance of two or three fellowpassengers, he had been constructing, and to this, as soon as he rose to the surface of the water, Greville clung. He had no desire to live; on the contrary, if the Almighty had not 'fixed his canon against self-slaughter,' Charles would have welcomed the watery grave which was yawning beneath him, and plunged into its depths. But while multitudes who were clinging with desperate tenacity to life clung in vain on that awful day, alone, perhaps among them all, Greville
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 hull, 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 his 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 steam yacht.
AFTER a refreshing night's rest at the Quatre Saisons,' and a sumptuous breakfast, provided in royal style by Mr. John Brown, Charles felt up to anything except returning to England; and, in