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CHARLES GREVILLE in the meantime had landed at Rio, without much thought of what would become of him. He was naturally of a careless, happy disposition, ready to take things as they came, without much concern or feeling of responsibility. Popular at school, at college, everywhere, a good shot, a plucky horseman, good, if he pleased, at books, a bit of an artist, more than a bit of a musician, good-looking, good-tempered, 'sound and free from vice,' Charles had enjoyed perhaps as happy a combination of advantages as a young man of six and twenty could possess. But, like the rolling stone which gathers no moss, Charles had rolled from Eton to Oxford, from Oxford to Lincoln's Inn, from Lincoln's Inn to Shamboro', from Shamboro' to St. Nazaire, from St. Nazaire to Rio, and now he was about to roll on from Rio across the Pampas, and possibly to the Andes, and it was difficult for him to point to any single practical result accomplished for the bettering of himself or his fellow-creatures by all his desultory wanderings.
As soon as he had landed he sallied forth to survey the conspicuous church of Nossa Senhora da Gloria, which had attracted him, as it attracts all who enter the magnificent harbour. Returning to his hotel, he found on his table a pencil note from an old friend, Henry St. John, who happened to be with his yacht in Rio harbour, and had accidentally learned from the British Consul of Greville's arrival. The sight of the note, and its contents inviting him on board the 'Moonbeam,' and promising him news of his friends at the Grange, brought to the system of Greville a shock which Professor Tyndall would best describe. If that distinguished philosopher had seen Charles jump up, seize his hat, and rush to the door as he held St. John's note in his hand, he would probably have described the performance as a complex mass of action, emotional, intellectual, and mechanical, evoked by the impact on the retina of the infinitesimal waves of light coming from a few pencil marks on a bit of paper.' What actually happened was that Charles, forgetful of his own dignity and of the mud through which he was running along the street in wild pursuit of recent news of the Grange people,' rushed at once to the quay in search of the Moonbeam.' As there were at least a thousand vessels of all nations in the harbour, some at the wharves and some far off at anchor, and as the majority of the people on the quay spoke tongues unknown to Charles, the discovery of the 'Moonbeam' was not a very simple process. His only chance seemed to be to try the British Consulate, where, to his joy, he found St. John just about to start in a shore boat for the Moonbeam."
'Well, old fellow, fancy dropping on you here of all places in the world. Why, I thought you were at the bottom of the Bay of Biscay long ago. Well, all I can say is the "Woman in White" is nothing to it all. But come along at once and let's go off to my yacht.'
Charles had no chance of putting in a word, for the voluble St. John kept up the ball all the way to the Moonbeam,' and it was not until they were on board that he had a chance even of asking how thepeople at the Grange' were.
"Well, I tried hard to persuade Augustus to come out with me, but he said something about his cousin being seedy, and he seemed as anxious about her as old Gus can be about anything. But now I must show you all over the yacht before we get on home affairs,' and then he rattled on in praises of the Moonbeam,' which was certainly a magnificent craft of about 700 tons, with a powerful screw, and splendid fittings, and everything first rate.
'I'm going off to Australia to-morrow, and you must come with me-you've only to go ashore after dinner and pack up your traps, for we shall weigh anchor before sunrise to-morrow. It's just the place to suit you. Why, they said you were going to New Zealand to be a squatter or a tallow boiler, or something of that kind, before you were drowned; and now you've come to life again, the least you can do is to fulfil the vows made in a previous state of existence. I'll put you ashore at Wellington, or Lyttelton, or Auckland, or wherever you please. We'll go round the Horn or through the Straits of Magellan if you like to have a brush with the Patagonians, and there's Tahiti and Fiji to be seen if you like it; or who knows but that you may pick up a bride in the islands of the south. And though we have no ladies on board, we have a Colonial Governor whom I've engaged to land in New Zealand sooner or later. Here he comes. Allow me
to introduce to you Lord Henry Primrose,' and his lordship, taking his pipe from his mouth and his cap off his head, courteously bowed to Greville, who returned the compliment. Charles was preparing soon afterwards to go ashore, when St. John, with a decision which seemed to forbid refusal, gave orders that two of his men should go with him to his hotel and bring him back, bag and baggage, to the 'Moonbeam.' Though at first rather taken aback by these orders, Greville, who had really no plans of his own, surrendered at discretion and went ashore, bade farewell to John Brown, and before midnight was asleep in the stern cabin of the Moonbeam.'
"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might,' was the refrain of Charles's dream as he lay dozing in the stern cabin, and the voice seemed to issue not from the lips of the good little chaplain at Rio, but from some distant patron saint inspired by the 'people at the Grange.' Rio and its glorious harbour were almost below the horizon when Charles found himself on deck. Still the text of the chaplain's sermon haunted him as Lord Henry greeted him, puffing his cigarette, an operation which he seemed to be performing with all his might.
Lord Henry Primrose was on his way to New Zealand, of which colony he had been appointed Governor. It was the usual practice in those days, as now, to promote to the most important posts in our distant dependencies men who had proved their qualifications for the
work in subordinate and smaller spheres of action in the colonies. In the case of Lord Henry this wholesome rule had been departed from, for he had not been hitherto in the colonial service at all. As ambassador at Vienna he had given indeed some evidence of his unfitness for diplomacy; but having many old friends in Parliament and nothing to live upon at home, the ex-ambassador having a claim on his party for a billet somewhere, was transported bag and baggage to the Antipodes, and was lucky enough to find a friend in St. John, who was ready to take any number of colonial governors anywhere gratis. Lord Henry, who had an inconvenient number of creditors in England and no money to pay them with, arranged with St. John before leaving Vienna that the 'Moonbeam' should pick him up at Havre on its outward voyage, and St. John had only stipulated that they should go round the Horn, afterwards touching at Valparaiso or possibly Buenos Ayres on their way. The new Governor was due in New Zealand in the autumn, but Sir Hector Crowen, whom he was to succeed, was to hold office till Lord Henry's arrival, so that he was not closely tied to time.
As New Zealand was the eventual destination of both Charles and Lord Henry, it formed a mutual topic of conversation to both till the bell summoned them to breakfast, and curried fish and various delicacies which the skipper had picked up at Rio put distant prospects aside for the moment, especially as St. John's goodhumoured rattle began to sound, and he started a subject more interesting to Greville than even sheep farming, boiling down bullocks, or colonial administration.
'By the by, Greville, have you heard anything of the Grange people since you left England?'
'Not a word,' answered Charles, except what you have told me.' It must be observed that St. John knew nothing whatever of the affaire de cœur between Charles and Gertrude, and since he had sold his property to Mr. Shoddy, had seldom been in the neighbourhood of the Grange. The local papers, when he was in England, were sent to him, and provided him with a certain amount of pro-vincial gossip, the truth of which he had no opportunities of testing. 'Then you can make up arrears,' said he, 'with an old "Shamboro' Gazette." It's only three weeks old, and was lying about hereyesterday. There it is under the log book. I'll find, if I can, what it says about our friends. Here is a flaming paragraph about the "terrible loss of the Empire Queen,' with our late gifted candidate on board," and here is another headed "Marriage in high life," which. seems to hint that your old friend Miss Berkeley is likely to make some noble alliance, to the great gratification of her uncle, Mr. Richardson. Mr. Furbelow, of the High Street, has orders to furnish the trousseaux, and those gifted native artistes, Messrs. Aspic and Carraway, whose batteries de cuisine recently astonished the county epicures at Castle Booby, will provide the déjeûner. Then comes a report of a rattling good run with Lord Puddingtown, and an abstract
No. 607 (No. CXXVII. N.S.)
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 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