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The Bird of Paradise

Chapter XX. The Bird of Paradise at Glenaveril. Pearly Imogen Gould Whitworth

Chapter XX. The Bird of Paradise at Glenaveril. Pearly Imogen Gould Whitworth.

"Loveliness beyond completeness;
Sweetness distancing all sweetness;
Beauty all that beauty may be—
That's my Pearly; that's my baby."

The population of Galveston was more than four times as great as that of Augusta, and although there were six other medical practitioners in the page 128city, he looked forward to the better chance he had of extending his practice in the large scope of the town and the outlying district.

Everything in readiness, a beginning of the new venture was made in the middle of autumn; and at first indeed it appeared that his efforts would be crowned with success. During the first few weeks he obtained appointments as medical officer to three different orders of medical benefit societies. This class of practice was quite the common thing about Galveston, because the bulk of the population consisted almost entirely of the middle classes, who nearly all belonged to lodges. Thus the remuneration of the lodge doctor was mutilated down to a mere fraction of the fees which he had been accustomed to receive in Augusta. He had been previously well-known to all the doctors before he left the States for Great Britain, and now he frequently acted in conjunction with them in the treatment of critical cases. An old acquaintanceship between his father and the leading surgeon of the place and, in fact, of the whole country, was the means of his receiving a large amount of support from Dr. Bruce Ripsom—a man of great power of mind, and held in high repute over the whole of the sister States and the dominions of Mexico and Canada. He had been for thirty-eight years the senior surgeon of the Galveston hospital, and was brigade-surgeon of the United States military forces. From all points of the compass came to him cases before pronounced incurable, to go away relieved, and in the majority of cases cured by the superior skill of Dr. Ripsom. So successful had he been that his coffers were regularly filled with gold from all the neighbouring States, and sometimes he had patients from India, and even London, where in his early days he had been one of the beacon-lights of the science and art of surgery, and had been awarded a prize of five thousand pounds for his scheme for the ventilation of the Chrystal Palace2 at Sydenham. With the helping hand of this successful surgeon, Eugene was making excellent progress with his practice, and had through his patronage enjoyed many opportunities of performing operations in his presence, for which he had received the high commendation and public praise of the illustrious surgeon himself. Distracted by the giddiness of a girl whom he had married the year before, after maintaining his bachelorhood till the age of seventy, and who, to provoke and annoy him, had opened a common dancing saloon next door to his consulting rooms, the old surgeon entertained for months the idea of leaving the town and handing over his connection to Eugene. He had bought, out of the proceeds of his practice, two large cotton plantations, "Murrundong" and "Looloomoon," in North and South Dakota, and was seriously disposed to end his days in a comfortable quietude upon them. He subsequently did relinquish active practice in Galveston, and left the town for the country; but it was then too late to be of any advantage to his protégé.

With his little model of a mare and a cockaded groom in Lincoln-green livery, Eugene's buggy was fast becoming well known in the town. Rosie was counted as an attractive advertisement herself. For weeks he waited page 129for his wife, locking up the house, going to an hotel for his meals and sleeping alone in the large building at night. Many visitors called to pay their respects to his wife, but though he made all sorts of excuses for her absence they waited so long for her coming that it began to be hinted in society that there was something wrong. Among those who found gossip as necessary as food and were starving for something to talk about, the idea spread like a circle in a river. Right or wrong, it was quickly filtered in the school for scandal from scandal-monger to scandal-monger, and magnified in height, length and breadth till it became a wide-spread canard; some going so far as to say that they didn't believe that she was his wife at all; others advanced the theory that he had run away from her and left her without any means of support. For months card after card was left, and calls made for Marvel, but all her husband could do was to lay the cards in the card-receiver, wait till the spirit moved the bird of Heaven in Edenhall, and make some excuse on her behalf. Letter after letter he posted to her with his own hand, begging her to come, but as usual during every period of her grass-widowhood she would either not answer at all or vouchsafe one curt reply to every ten epistolary letters.

After a delay of four months, the spirit moved the bird of Paradise, and in company with her indispensable cousin she came to Galveston one lovely spring morning to inspect the new house. He met them at the steamboat pier with his buggy, in order to drive them to the place, thinking she could not help, fastidious as she was, approving of it, but prepared to do anything to keep her in her proper home. Ever since he had first seen Marvel at the library, he had been infatuated with her. She was the ignis fatuus3 of his life. The old adage about absence making the heart grow fonder applied in all its truth and force to Whitworth. He rejoiced in his heart that she was returning, and forgot all about her wanton and capricious ways till she stepped off the deck of the steamer with her cousin and haughtily said "I want to see the cab first;" to which he replied that the buggy was there and that there was plenty of room for three, as he had sent the groom back.

"No fear," said the airy bird: "that horse is too frisky for me: he bolted with me once before you know; Sukey and I can get a cab ourselves if it's too much trouble." They got a cab for themselves.

On the two vehicles arriving at the house, "Who could live in a house alongside of anybody else?" said the bird with its wings spread out; but after some little finessing they followed him inside to inspect the premises in quite an arch and patronising style. There was nothing in the house to please the bird—everything to displease the bird; the architect was fundamentally to blame for building two storeys instead of one; the garden was too small and there should have been five acres of ground about the house; the windows should not have wooden seams across them—they should have only one pane in each sash; the cooking-stove was the worst kind ever patented; the servant's room and kitchen should have been papered, not distempered4; the pantries should have been varnished inside; there page 130should be more wainscotting in the bedrooms and figured dadoes5 on the walls of the dining-room and drawing-room. It was a beast of a shop. Her husband informed her that she wouldn't find many houses about Galveston with half an acre of ground, and invited the bird to walk upstairs to behold the finest bird's-eye-view in the town.

"Stairs," she said with a mighty sneer: "I do hate stairs: could you not get a house without stairs, and one like my house—Edenhall?" On seeing the extended landscape and the wide stretch of sea-coast, "Well, if you get another place in a few days Sukey and I need not go back just yet. Father will let me have Edenhall any time I like, and I would sooner live there than in this ranche," concluded the complaisant bird. On the understanding that he was to look out for a villa ornée with five acres of land and get it within a few days, the bird of Paradise and her cousin condescended to stay.

Soured against vanities by the ever-threatening danger of a life-long spinsterhood, the big awkward cousin was of a milder and infinitely more tractable and sensible disposition. Sukey was on the shady side of thirty, and seemed to have subsided into a state of calm resignation. During the few weeks she stayed at Galveston she confided to the doctor the information that Marvel was suspicious of the move to the sea-side because it was nearer to the city where Mrs. Downward was living; she further confessed that the petty and absurd jealousies of Marvel were more like the ways of a silly school-girl, and had no grounds at all. In a few days Eugene and his remote relation set off together to interview all the house-agents in the city, and look through any houses they might have to let; while Marvel stayed to entertain a visitor who had chanced to call. There was not an empty house in the principal streets which they did not inspect; the agent piloted them through others, where a vacation was anticipated, while the then tenants were at their dinners, and in some instances in bed. If the pains and trouble which the doctor was taking were not exhausted, the patience of Sukey was completely worn out.

"Take that one," she said, as they were leaving an ornamental two-storey building, with a fine garden, three acres of ground and a magnificent view; "never mind it being two-storeyed—take it whether she likes it or not." He, however, thought it best to show the bird herself through, explaining that if it did not suit there was no chance of another. Upon marshalling the bird of Heaven through the prospective home, everything passed examination with the one single exception of the second storey. This objection, however, she graciously and benevolently waived. He forfeited six months' rent of the other place, and took the new one, although its rent was three hundred dollars a year more. When the new furniture was placed in the new house, whose name was "Glenaveril," and the red lamp and brass plate were fixed up outside, the exertions of Eugene were renewed at his practice. Marvel had thoroughly settled down in contentment and appeared to be comfortable and happy. Her cousin had page 131not stayed very long in Glenaveril, because a lover of hers who had of late turned up in the nick of time to save her from spinsterhood was pining away in Augusta for the return of the beloved pimp6 with the retroussé7 oil-and-whitening nose and the wig.

Situated upon the penultimate ridge of a sloping plain that extended away up from the sea and down again to the banks of the river, Glenaveril looked picturesquely conspicuous from either aspect, and the red light could be seen for a distance of ten miles. The practice had become greatly benefited by the change, as it stood in the same part of the town as many other doctors occupied, and was, so to speak, the medical pinnacle of Galveston. Cutting flowers for the chased solid silver epergne on the table, and sometimes feeding the canaries, for which the doctor still had a liking, Marvel would spend an hour every morning in the big choice garden, plucking tulips, hyacinths, flaming dahlias and immense Chinese chrysanthemums, and cutting heliotrope from the trellised work on the tesselated verandah. One circumstance to be noticed with regret was a great falling off in the number of cartes de visite, for which a little carved, polished oak tray was always at hand on an ornamental, rustic tulipwood console table in the drawing-room. From some cause, probably none other than that so many of the number as intended to call had already done so before her arrival, Monday morning came and Saturday night came, but for weeks no one came to see the interesting bird of Paradise. Some time was occupied by the liveried and cockaded groom driving her around to acknowledge the depositions of the cartes prior to her arrival; but when these duties ended she was left to her own reflections on the subject for months, while the doctor's theory that her patrons had all called and that such as had not called were staying away on account of the canard that had got wind in the minds of the habitués of fashionable society. It was a source of much annoyance to Marvel, and engendered in her mind a dislike to the Texas people in general and to her husband in particular for taking her to such an unsociable place.

"I'll get Brosie to speak to a few of them, Marvel," he said; Brosie knows all the haut volée8 in the town; he is doing nothing just at present, and I'm sure you can rely on Brosie; if once he promises to undertake the work he'll never fail."

"If he comes near the place," returned the lofty bird. "I'll slam the door in his face and go home to my own home next day."

Specially provided by the gods the divine Easter morn of the twenty-first day of the month of April, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and forty-six, smiled upon the choirs of angels, who trumpeted into the world the birth of the paradisal first-born. On that auspicious celestial day came in all the glory of cherubim and seraphim the little, weighty, firm and well-knitted child, that from the day of her benign birth was the apple of her father's eye and the sweetest treasure which he ever possessed. Nursing her, fondling her and playing with her, amusing her in all conceivable ways, she was the cherry-cheeked cherub of his life, and page 132the messenger sent by Heaven with gifts from God to tone down the worry and turmoil of his expended life, and to irradiate his affections with the glow of esteem—to stand by him when no other woman was near; to brighten his long-suffering existence; to be the sun of his soul. Speedily she grew and fattened, till at six months of age she was as round and rosy as any child in Christendom—

"Cheeks as soft as Christmas peaches,
Lips whose dewy scarlet teaches
Poppies paleness; round large eyes
Ever great with new surprise."9

How oft, as the years rolled on, had the vision of her sparkling love-lit eyes and the rosebud-bloom on her fruity cheeks come through the dreams of her father afar across the ocean in the deep, silent sorrow—the mourning of misfortune!

The episode proved to be highly beneficial to Marvel; she fretted less about the callers who never called; the visits of Brosie, the Christy minstrel, and the bête noire, who had not been heard of by the doctor for two years. She had something to occupy her mind now, and it was indeed something worth her mind. The old-fashioned doctor, who attended her by sitting in the surgery with Whitworth all the time, and the nurse had taken their departure, so that for the greater part of the day while her husband was away on his rounds she had the untrammelled love of the firstborn all to her own self. Her passion for music was checked, and the long hours of practice at the sweet-toned Mignon10 were now devoted to the mignon11 baby and the Alexandra feeding-bottle, greatly to the benefit of the baby's welfare and healthy growth. In the evenings when her husband returned home she might play a little, while he waltzed around the drawing-room with baby in his arms, as with aunt Sally of old, till the filmy lids would close over her bright violet eyes, and he would rock her singing rock-a-bye baby in the cradle to sleep. Her little arms would wave and flutter as she saw him return, and she would struggle to get away from her mother for a Myosotis waltz around the room: none could exhilarate her, pacify her baby troubles, or soothe her like Eugene.

His mother, father, Dolly, Brosie, and the ramifications of the house of Whitworth affected visits now and then in the evenings, but were treated by Marvel in such a sullen and half-hearted manner that they for the most part preferred to stay away. Glue-pot Ike called to see the baby, and took away the fancy puff-box. Ike had a fancy eye for anything. His fingers were all prehensile>12 feelers. Miriam, overflowing with tenderness and bounty towards all, picked out the little cherub as her idol and appointed herself nursery-maid, frequently wheeling her out in the wicker-carriage, and observing to the letter all the exacting instructions from the paradisal mother. Even so, some petty fault was pounced upon daily by Marvel.

"If she sleeps more than half-an-hour she might die, so please wake her up, Mrs. Whitworth; don't take her close to the sea, where the air is page 133strong; don't take her into any houses—there might be measles and smallpox in them; don't let anybody kiss her; take this bottle of smelling-salts and keep fanning her all the way if the sun comes out; don't forget to wipe her nose; caver her with the shawl if there's a breeze from the south." This code of rules and regulations for the road dictated by Marvel to the woman who had never found it necessary to buy a baby's feeding-bottle were, ludicrous as they seemed, religiously observed, and the only thanks accorded for so doing were that the bird would snap her nose off when she returned, take the baby inside, and shut the door. The code was learned off by heart by Miriam on account of the danger of the old paradisal bird migrating with the little bird of paradise to Edenhall. Brosie set it to music in a concerto in G. Dolly could sing it at a moment's notice without the music. Everything for six months glided smoothly along like the white-winged yachts on the mirror-like placid waters of the bay, with nothing to disturb the light ruffle on its breezy surface. The only debate of any importance was the burning question as to what name should be bestowed on the baby. Her father spoke strenuously in the earnest warmth of his new-born feelings, and musing within himself that baby was like a gift from God—a talisman and a harbinger of peace and bliss in his home—he urged the name of Dorothy Guinevere. Her mother—partly because the suggestion had come from him, and partly because she was anxious to imprint her own brand well upon it, and deck it out in her own unlucky colours—dissented from the name of Dorothy Guinevere in toto. She wanted to give it the ornithological and mineralogical name of Birdie Sapphire. The great and mighty name of Gould she could not be expected to sleep peacefully without, and in order to associate the baby with the avocation of the great coal-miner she insisted that it should be called by the name of some mineral or precious stone, such as "Pearl, for instance." she said.

"Pearl!" said the doctor, laughing—"What mine produces pearls? You might as well call her 'jelly,' for the pearl comes out of the oyster. Try another dive for a name."

"Don't be so clever," cynically sneered Marvel. "I did not say I would call it Pearl. I intend to call it Pearly Imogen Gould."

"You might, while you are about it, tack Whitworth on," said her husband, and settled it was to be Pearly Imogen Gould Whitworth. The full name of the bird of Paradise was Marvel Imogen Narramore Gould, so that with two of her own brands Pearly's mother was satisfied.

Marching to the music of the jubilee bells of St. John's, the grandmother and mother of Pearly Imogen Gould Whitworth proceeded to the ivy-girdled church, Marvel wheeling the wicker-carriage at the side of Miriam, who carried the baby in her arms, clothed in a long white linen robe and a fleecy white hood. At the vestibule of St. John's she received her first lesson from Miriam in charitable ministration by dropping a dollar put into her little plump hand into the poor-box. Then when the organ played the chant of the Benedictus the sign of the Cross was made page 134with baptismal water upon her smooth ivory forehead, and in the name of her Father in heaven she received the submarine and historical name. After a commination13 service had been celebrated by the same old minister as had christened Pearly's father, the little contingent departed for home. Eugene voted himself an extraordinary glass of wine that night, and after a frolic with the infantile dansuese he rocked her in lullaby rhythmical cadences in the cradle to sleep in the blue-and-silver boudoir.

The life of the little family at Glenaveril was as bright as the summer day was long, and it was all on account of Pearly. Pearly was the strong link forged to bind the fitful and fickle Marvel more firmly than the iron chain at the altar of her marriage, to focus their mutual affections on the one point, and make her divergent rays impinge together with the loves of Eugene upon the one object; to make them cling together for the sake of the common interest of them all. This idea never entered his wife's head at all. She had no sentiment, no depth of moral feeling, no thought for the future good name and moral clanc timbre14 of the child. Money and gaiety had been her gods as far as he had known her, and they seemed to be her gods her whole life through.

The great surgeon, Dr. Bruce Ripsom, since the inauguration of the dancing saloon had often drowned his displeasure at short intervals in carousals on bitter beer and gin. He became a staunch advocate of the principle that alcohol produces a pleasing forgetfulness of disagreeable surroundings. When he was thus sufficiently drowned he would often become rude and obtrusive, calling up his friends in the middle of the night to drown him deeper still.

One night when Whitworth was attending a case of accident on the railway, Bruce called shortly after midnight, and furiously three times rang the night bell at Glenaveril—not loud enough to arouse the somnolent servant, but with sufficient clamorous jangle to alarm the contents of the cradle and the bird of the Heaven above.

"Who's there?" she called from the upstairs bedroom window.

"It'ch me," replied the voice.

"Who's me?" inquired the bird.

"Don't cher know old B-B-Bruce Ri-Rip-som?" replied the voice.

"The doctor is out," said the bird—"don't think he'll be back till late; but if you like I'll open the door and you can wait."

"Village B-B-Belle closed; Blue Dr-Dr-agon closed; Q-Q-Q in the Corner closed; Old Brown B-Barrel closed; Old (hiccup) Crown closed; Boosers' Club closed; want a drink," stammered Bruce, hiccuping and staggering into the passage, while Marvel ran for the whisky-stand and a big tumbler.

"How d'ye like living here, my dear?" said the nocturnal swain.

"Pretty well, doctor, thank you; here's the whisky," said Marvel.

"D'ye ever see old Porter's ghost about these parsh?" said the ambrosial doctor, after two consecutive whiskies, both over three fingers.

"Old—Porter's—ghost?" slowly repeated the astonished Marvel.

page 135

"Yes: old Porter's (hiccup) ghost; old Joe Porter that (hiccup) hanged himself in (hiccup) the stable here last (hiccup) summ'r," he explained. Two more drinks, and he left.

On what trifling events does the mechanism of life depend—on what filmy wheels. The fates of empires have depended upon a look: the battle of Waterloo on the weighty somnolence of Napoleon and the "horrible fault" of Gruchy15: the history of the world upon the elements of probabilities. It was overturned by the beauty of Helen. All the world is a lottery, all its blessings and its trials the children of chance. The reign of peace at Glenaveril ended with the idle words about the suicide. Eugene had his old benefactor to thank for incessant carpings from Marvel, until she left the house. Afraid to go to bed again that night—expecting to see the ghost of old Joe Porter open every window that rattled, or door that creaked—she sat in terror and horror till her husband returned.

"That was a nice trick to play upon me," she began. "I had a beautiful house of my own at Edenhall. I left that luxurious home and all my friends in Maconville to come to this fearful and dreadful morgue."

"What morgue?" said Eugene: "it's more like a mad-house."

"Very smart of you to deceive me," she continued, "about that man you said had left here last summer; but you haven't deceived me long, thank God. I'll go straight back to-morrow, and take Pearly with me. As far as you are concerned, you can go and hang yourself in the stable where old Joe Porter did when we are gone."

She was manifesting a natural evolution of distrust. There was no more truth in what the old man said than there is green cheese in the moon.

"It wasn't there at all that he even died," returned Eugene "I know better than old Ripsom, and I know that he was pulled out of the water in the little back bath-room at the Coach and Six. He took a fit in the bath"—giving Marvel a succinct account of the death of old Joe Porter in language so cunningly poised as not to harrass her feelings.

"More lies and deceit," retorted the bird of Heaven. "I prefer to believe Dr. Ripsom, drunk as he was; it was just the time he would tell the truth, and I have made up my mind to go."

Why on earth did he not let her go—let her go till she had picked up some way or other a few grains of common sense—instead of pandering to her whims and fanning the flames of her fancies? Why didn't he let her go, and keep his precious child in spite of her, with her luxurious Edenhall—her own? Better by far than throwing away the golden opportunities for advancement in Galveston, throwing away too the money for which he had wrought, and the prize won by Moss Rose, to find her in the end nothing but a fraud—a thorn in his side and a millstone around his neck, as the unoffending Guinevere had warned him—a hidden rock in the sea of troubles upon which the barque must founder sooner or later.

Six months passed, but the importunate peevishness of Marvel increased. It never showed one symptom of decline. She left the house surreptitiously within a week, taking the baby with her, and leaving a message with the page 136servant that she would return when he got her another abode. She vanished like a wraith, leaving no other sign of her going. One little word, and the fair palace of hope and bliss wherein lay buried jealousy, enmity, malice, and passion—one little word, and down came the proud edifice of his labour of love, and away flew the beauteous bird which he had been trying so hard to lure; though it was impossible for him to tell from which o' the airts the fickle wind might blow. He had a six months' tenure of the house to expire, and tried to sublet it, although it was contrary to the agreement. Failing this, he took another similar house nearer the river, and shifted his furniture into it, leaving Glenaveril to take its chance of a new tenant. It remained empty up till the expiry of the lease, and he paid six months' rent for nothing. The third house which he provided for the migratory bird had a striking and grand appearance, overlooking the whole town and a wide reach of the fore-shore. After five months' stay in Edenhall, the bird, probably from climatic influences, migrated with the baby, and settled down again with her husband. He had an office or surgery in one of the principal thoroughfares of the town, and was away for the greater part of the day and for two hours every night. His sweet-tempered not-at-all-cantankerous mother-in-law having a penchant for the sea here intruded her presence for a space of thirteen weeks; till, hearing that her husband, the great rock-borer, had engaged the services of a youthful widow with one child as housekeeper of a New Orleans suburban domicile which he had established away from the hurly-burly of city hotels, she hastily left to give him in charge, after three months' quarreling with Marvel and the servants like a lot of Kilkenny cats.

If the bird of Paradise had no visitors at Glenaveril, she consoled herself with the blissful thought that she was not forgotten by a flaming old friend, an old sweetheart, who came all the way from New Orleans by steamer in the evenings, to leave again in a hurry the same night, just before Eugene would arrive home. This fascinating fin de siécle exquisite was a dangerous coxcomb, a wool-merchant's clerk (supposed to be), who always chose the very time that the doctor was in attendance at his consulting rooms in another part of Galveston for his evil intentions.

"What am I to assume that was?" said Eugene sharply to his wife, as he entered the gale one evening after leaving his consulting roams.

"What was?" repeated Marvel, her face dyed blood-red.

"If I am not mistaken I fancy I saw you holding Pearly in your arms at the door and kissing some man that went out at the gate," he continued, walking up to the agitated bird of Heaven as she stood in the doorway.

"Oh! well, and if I did: what has it got to do with you? I knew him before you. He kissed me three times in the dining-room," as if she was very glad of the opportunity of saying so.

The next evening visit of the aspiring interloper came to an abortive end. Meeting him as he watched for him on the pier, before the gaze of a steamboat load of passengers—"Is your name Clifford?" said Eugene.

page 137

"It is," said the exquisite, pulling on a new pair of gloves.

"Well, Mr. Clifford," returned Eugene, while the crowd began to notice his attitude and gather around, "if you come crawling about my place again I'll take you by your dirty throat and throw you over the gate into the gutter."

The venomous reptile crawled up to a policeman, who accompanied him to a cab-stand; but that curiosity-excited crowd on the pier never knew what was the cause of the rencontre16. It added a little pith to the rife scandal of the town: it pointed the moral and adorned the tale. It was only an ephemeral rumour, and the doctor heard no more of it till ho found a letter—one his wife had written to her cousin—describing what a fool he had made of himself by insulting her friend, who had never been near the place since. Taking the letter, he handed it over to her and quietly said, "If this letter is an index of your notions of right and wrong, would you have written it on the day you were wedded to me?" She held down her guilty countenance and answered not a word: when in passionate and indignant tones he hurled at her—"If I don't defend you and my child from calumny, do you imagine that interloping scoundrel would?" but she answered not a word, and with a faltering hand she feigned to dust the side-board, affecting a half-hysterical laugh. "If you can hold that little angel while you consort with a devil from hell, the angel will in time abandon you, and rightly too, and you will groan in a hell as long as you live." But she answered not a word. Her only reply to his withering denunciation was a sort of half-cynical smile.

Slamming the door behind him, while Pearly cried from fright, he left the house and slept on the couch in the surgery in the town. Full of aroused anger, fiery in temper, he would rage at an insult with all the fury of a maelström, anon to subside into the calm brooding of the dove. The next morning he seemed to hare forgotten and forgiven, and the quietude of the home called "The Elms" was undisturbed for a year.

1 Baby May. William Cox Bennett (with 'my Pearly' for the original 'May Bennett').

[Note added by Sara Berger as annotator]

2 As the Crystal Palace was built in Hyde Park in 1851, and shifted to Sydenham in 1854, these 'early days' are viewed from Dutton's perspective, not his characters'.

[Note added by Sara Berger as annotator]

3 A phosphorescent light seen hovering over marshy ground. Called Will-o-the-wisp, Jack-a-lantern, etc. Figuratively; a sign that leads astray. OED Online.

[Note added by Sara Berger as annotator]

4 A method of painting, in which the colours are mixed with some glutinous substance. OED Online. n.2.

[Note added by Sara Berger as annotator]

5 The finishing of wood running along the lower part of the walls of a room, made to represent a finished pedestal; or any lining, painting, papering of the lower part of an interior wall, differing in material or colour from the upper part. OED Online, sense 2.

[Note added by Sara Berger as annotator]

6 A spy or informer. (Originally U.S., later Aus. and NZ slang). OED Online.n.1, sense 2.

[Note added by Sara Berger as annotator]

7 Turned upward.OED Online.

[Note added by Sara Berger as annotator]

8 High fliers.

[Note added by Sara Berger as annotator]

9 Baby May. William Cox Bennett.

[Note added by Sara Berger as annotator]

10 Welte-Mignon piano.

[Note added by Sara Berger as annotator]

11 Small or delicateOED Online.

[Note added by Sara Berger as annotator]

12 Both 'capable of grasping and holding', OED Online sense 1, and 'avaricious', OED Online sense 2b.

[Note added by Sara Berger as annotator]

13 Possibly an error; this refers to a service including a recital of divine threatenings against sinners. OED Online.

[Note added by Sara Berger as annotator]

14 Uncertain; possibly 'purity'.

[Note added by Sara Berger as annotator]

15 Marshal Grouchy, commander of the right wing of Napoleon's forces in this campaign.

[Note added by Sara Berger as annotator]

16 For rencounter, a hostile encounter or skirmish. OED Online, senses 1a, 1b.

[Note added by Sara Berger as annotator]