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The Bird of Paradise

Chapter XXIII. The Nuptials of Carrie Downward. Sukey on the Trail. The Great Leviathan Antediluvian Diamantino Tin-Mine

Chapter XXIII. The Nuptials of Carrie Downward. Sukey on the Trail. The Great Leviathan Antediluvian Diamantino Tin-Mine.

It wasn't a stylish marriage—they couldn't afford a carriage; nor did they even look sweet upon the seat of a bicycle built for two. The other twelve children absorbed all their thrifty mother could scrape together, and for years she had, with letters of administration of her deceased husband's estate, been occupied in the liquidation of the legacy of debts which he had left behind him.

Carrie's only source of income was the scanty remuneration which she was paid by Madame for her services as governess to the two children; and since her mother had gone away to New Orleans her salary had still further been reduced by fifty dollars a year, as in lieu thereof she was entitled to live on sufferance in the society-haunted mansion of Madame for a term co-eval1 with the desertion of the old bone-miller for the fellmongery at Gal-page 156veston. However, it is wonderful how judicious economy will enable a young lady with small means to dress fairly well. Miss Caroline always made that her first consideration, and displayed great taste in her costumes. For months she might have been seen in Madame's little music-room, after the children had received their tuition for the day, cooing to the billing architect and land-surveyer, who, with the view of ensnaring the contralto cantatrice, relinquished his professional engagements for the ars amatoria in the little music-room. He threw aside for some months his parallel-rulers, Wattman's sheets2, drawing-boards, and brass compasses, with the sole object of devoting his whole heart and soul to Caroline. In the evenings especially, thanks to the great kindness and gracious consideration of Madame, they were allowed the uninterrupted use of a little boudoir parlour, where the love-sick land-surveyor and pretty Carrie ensconced themselves away from the naughty world, and rehearsed their little amateur comedies and tragedies. Carrie often fainted into his amorous arms. The golden-haired Daphne3 would warble "The little Shepherd Lad" for the delectation of Orpheus4, who was a trifle over six feet two in his stockings, and had shoulders nearly as broad as the front door-step; while the little shepherd lad was never at a loss for a comic song as an appropriate variation to the sentimental solos of the contralto warbler. "The Lost Chord" and other themes, describing over and over again how calmly she could sleep if only she were rocked in the cradle of the deep, and how she could never forget as long as she lived one night in June upon the Sabine river, would Orpheus intersprinkle with a nice little ditty, which she thought was very pretty, as he composed it himself to his own accompaniment on the banjo. He was never known to go down on his knees. She would sit on his knee with her legs dangling over and never smile, while—shade of Orpheus! —the architect and land-surveyor thumbed away on the banjo and trilled his enchanting little lay to the glamorous, moon-lit, sighing pines through the open window and sang tempo poco piu lento

Her name it is Caroline,
But it might have been Madeleine:
With a tooth-brush I fan her, taught
By Cupid, at the pianoforte.

The usual sequel—to wit, the engagement—took place shortly after Whitworth's little boy was born. Madame congratulated herself on the adroit manner in which she had foisted her little protégée governess upon the massive architect and land-surveyor, determined as she was not to be outwitted altogether by her rival professional match-maker, "Snivelling Mag," the chronic broncho-asthmatical auntie, whom indeed she twitted with having compounded only a mixture of inflammables and combustibles. She freely admitted that the deity was a greater agent than herself, and nailed up on the wall of the little parlour a pretty card whereon was printed among white hand-painted almond blossoms—"God, the best maker of all marriages, combine your hearts in one." She bought half a dozen of them for a quarter-dollar at a little stationery shop round the page 157corner in Augusta, and reserved the five for future uses, as she had no intention of selling the good-will of the matrimonial bureau. She introduced the cards of a reverse character—cards with the pictures of the jack of clubs and other right and left bowers, king of diamonds and queen of hearts, and all the other patterns of the arch-enemy's playthings. They afforded a sort of raison d'être for the architect and land-surveyor, who, Madame proudly but quietly informed the chronic broncho-asthmatical auntie, was sixteen stone heavier than the match which she had provided for herself. They played écarté and Chinese euchre for periwinkles, Barcelona nuts5, and shirt buttons; Madame, the match-maker, on the tapis for the nonce posing as the goddess of propriety, with the swansdown fan as a magic wand, but pouring the love philtre at every opportunity into the architectural heart with apt little parenthetic remarks. It was quite a nice little coterie and a nice little game of cards for love; nobody had occasion for the bitter feeling of remorse next morning, as the stakes were so much smaller than the numerous dollars that Whitworth had lost, as he trudged home at cock-crow and canary-song after similar games at Sunnyside and the Seven Stars. In point of fact there wasn't anything to lose worth speaking about. There was no occasion for a fuss over the affair; it could never by any possible chance make them one whit the happier afterwards, although a little inexpensive hurry was by no means out of place. Madame herself would arrange that the beadle would call—it would be a cut above being married in his dirty little office, and would not make the remotest difference to herself if she allowed that functionary to celebrate the marriage where the shade of Orpheus had sanctified the betrothal. It was quite a mariage de convenance, and nobody was in the least incommoded.

"Judging by the way in which one marriage to my own personal knowledge," explained the felicitous match-maker in a small hodge-podge volume: "if one can believe all they see and hear which howsomever is not altogether what under all circumstances and irrespective of persons of whom in happy thoughts of one I would be rather inclined to believe the reverse but little birds will tell tales and I was almost forgetting what I was thinking of going to say what I was going to say was that a quiet wedding will eventuate that is a good word eventuate my dear Carrie is it not will as I said before eventuate in a happy or unhappy union just as much as a grand and public wedding which little birds come and tell me in one instance at least of recent date has been the case of one we know grand and ostentious wedding—case of ostentious wedding."

Accordingly, a few days after, the half-starved-looking beadle, looking like the man all tattered and torn6 called and married the other man to Carrie, without kissing the maiden, after getting through the onerous duty without a single hitch, in the fastest time on record. He was not asked to stay to the wedding breakfast, poor fellow, and cut his stick with the dollar and a half. The breakfast, however, was no great miss, or even possible catch on the part of the penurious marriage official, as it consisted only of a few page 158scraps of water biscuits, rattling about at the bottom of, not a tin-kettle but a tin can, and a bottle or so of ginger-beer. Madame's menage was greatly constricted since Rudolph had run away, and so she thought she would just make the ginger-beer and the biscuits do, and she haggled over the dollar and a-half they had to give the beadle. Indeed, in this and every other respect, it was a hyperæsthetical, compassparellical, geometrical wedding; no cards and no guests to spoil the æsthetical nature or the mathematical purity of the wedding, with their champagne swallowing and gourmondage. Fancy! one hundred and fifty dead marines on one table. Quite enough to wreck any marriage.

As soon as the little true-love knot was tied, a carriage was quite a superfluous adjunct, with their hammercloths, footmen, streaming ribbons, decorated churches, their plethora of French dishes, and other rubbishy paraphernalia, even if it were desired, as the railway station was only two miles away. Orpheus and Daphne walked it, and took their seats in a carriage with "first class" printed in gold letters outside the door. Telling the porter they would esteem it a favour if he kept all intruders out (a tip not being thought of before the train had gone, or Daphne would have squared the yards7 herself with the porter), they were whirled away to see the waxworks and the magnificent shops of New Orleans.

Mrs. Carrie Cosgrove was whirled back again the next morning to the three roomed cottage the front room of which was used as an office and contained a drawing-board and a bone geometrical scale or two, so that poor Carrie had very little space to braid her tresses, or crimp and frizzle her fringe; while the triumphant match-maker made broad her phylacteries and praised God on the Mount of Olives the following Sunday morning that she was not as other match-makers were, and had established a paradise of happiness and peace. So she had. To a contented mind a bark hut is a palace. Carrie soon assimilated to her new home, and her benedict settled down again to the contemplation of the drawing-board with the insouciance of a waggoner asleep on his wain.

About the same time as the engagement took place the country sessions of the County court were on the eve of their inauguration. An action for damages and claim for five thousand dollars made by a labouring miner against one of the colliery companies, was listed for the ensuing sitting of the court. This case of Fitzwilliam versus the Raspberry-gully Coalmining Company, Maconville, was expected to be heard on the day before the wedding. The plaintiff claimed damages for an accident which had befallen him in the prosecution of his duties, inasmuch as the iron cage of the shaft of the mine had broken its cable while Fitzwilliam was ascending the shaft upon the cage, and he was precipitated to the bottom, a distance of some ten feet. He had sustained—so said the medical witnesses for the plaintiff—some obscure neurosis of the spinal cord, being incurably paralysed and rendered unfit to earn his daily bread by reason of the accident. The claim which he submitted to the court was the sum of five page 159hundred dollars for every foot he had fallen. Now it so happened that the accident occurred during the tenure of the office of resident surgeon by Dr. Whitworth, and it suggested itself to the solicitors for the defence that he would be an important and favorable witness. The company devoted a sum of money to defray the expense of bringing the important and favorable witness from Galveston, and a telegram was despatched to the said important and favorable witness asking his attendance at the provincial court the day before the mathematical, hyperæsthetical wedding. The synchronance was rather unfortunate for the peace of mind of the doctor, inasmuch as, on the receipt of the telegram, although he had no idea of what event other than the sitting of the court of assizes was to come off at that particular time, it seemed that the bird of Paradise knew all about the one if she knew nothing about the other.

"I must go to Augusta to-morrow, Marvel," he said after the receipt of the message.

"I could have told you that a week ago," pecked at him the paradisal bird: "you can't deceive me; I had a letter from my cousin a week ago, and I know all about your little dodges. Strange thing they didn't ask me to go! but never mind, I'll be even with you yet," as she turned on her heel and whew! whisked out of the dining-room in a cloud of dust after dropping the door-mat in a passion.

Meeting the bird of Heaven again, "Look here, Marvel," he said, "what on earth are you talking about? Here is a telegram from Harper and Crawley wanting me to go there and give evidence in the court in connection with——"

"Keep your telegram; it wasn't sent to me," and she knocked it up in his face with the dust-broom. "Don't try to deceive me with your bogus telegrams, when I know better," she said in a great pet, and a hoity-toity toss of her head, violent enough to put a kink in the paradisal neck.

"It's no more bogus than the bird of Paradise," he retorted, and made his way to the steamer, while little Pearly and Valentine revelled in a scramble on the floor for the red and white envelope.

Wondering whatever his wife could mean—whatever mystery there was about the thing—feeling convinced that she could not have dreamt that Moss Rose had come to life again, although his death might have been credited by her as bogus too, the steamer landed him on the Mississippi Quay, and the train in his old resorts at Augusta.

Every three months the State assizes collected a large crowd inside and outside the large weatherboard building, and there he met many of his old friends and acquaintances. The action for damages was taken earlier than it had been anticipated, and was already progressing, the taking of the evidence of Eugene being expected in an hour or so after his arrival. Spending the interval in the Seven Stars Hotel, he heard of the marriage of Carrie. It was the first ray of light to dawn upon his bewildered senses, and to elucidate the mystery which Marvel's utterances had impressed upon his mind. He met the geometrical bridegroom walking up to Madame's page 160altar, and wished him joy with Carrie. No sooner had he shaken hands with his old architectural friend and wished him good-bye than his other old friend, Mrs. Downward, came from across the road over to him as he stood in front of the hotel. As she advanced he raised his hat; as they met he shook hands with her. He then walked part of the way with her and one of her younger daughters, who was arrayed as a bridesmaid in meagre white lace.

Coming down the road leading from Sunnyside to Madame's house, who above all should appear on the scene but Marvel's cousin, the Argus-eyed8 Sukey, in a riding habit, snuff-coloured toque, and a big flea-bitten palfrey, sweating like a bull and foaming at the bit! The large, ungainly, periwinkle-eyed, self-satisfied, private-detective Sukey had evidently taken in the situation at a glance. He watched and saw her dismount at the telegraph office, reeve the bridle through the iron ring of the post and march inside to indite the telegram—"Not court—woman," and ask the operator to rush it through to Marvel.

Returning to the State court after leaving his lady friend, he sat inside listening to a long rigmarole of medical technicalities, aired and paraded as exhibitions of the recondite knowledge and results of original research, in the possession of the medical witnesses for the plaintiff, with the hopes of bewildering the jury. They all stolidly maintained that the accident had caused locomotor ataxia; there was no response to electrical excitation in the digital branches of the portio dura and the plantar nerves—the motor sensory and the sensori-motor nerves—were affected in all the limbs. The tibialis anticus and extensor communis digitorum muscles were paralysed in one foot, and the irregularity of the pupils of Fitzwilliam's eyes were strong proof of a nervous lesion produced by the accident. Fitzwilliam was the worst case they had ever seen. These witnesses who, it was subsequently discovered, were aiding and abetting the plaintiff, with the nefarious hopes of getting their extortionate charges paid out of the amount which they endeavoured to have awarded to Fitzwilliam, finished their cross-examination, in which the highest authorities in the world were made by the counsel for the defence to disagree with the evidence of the medical witnesses for the plaintiff. The crier of the court then called Dr. Eugene Whitworth, who was the next to mount the witness-box and kiss the book.

"You were the resident surgeon of the hospital when the plaintiff was admitted on the evening of the 15th October, 1844. Will you be good enough to tell the jury what was the matter with him?" said the counsel for the company.

"He had a bruise in the back," said Whitworth.

"Thank you," said the counsel for the defence; whereupon the cross-examining counsel asked if the symptoms described by the other medical witnesses might have occurred after that.

"They must have occurred after that, but not in consequence of that; he was never treated in the hospital for those remarkably rare nervous page 161diseases." replied the witness, and he left the box. The discomfited Fitzwilliam coolly walked out of the court, but forgot to take his crutches.

Two hours were occupied by the opposing barristers in pleading before the jury. The judge summed up in favour of the Company, and the jury returned a verdict for the defendants. Great relief was experienced at the verdict by hundreds of the bread-winners of anxious families. The Company was a poor and struggling one: a hostile verdict would have knocked it out of time altogether, and would have left scores of men out of employment. On its merits it was only an attempt on the part of the plaintiff, in conjunction with his medical attendants, to extort money from the Company. The important testimony of Whitworth, as he had seen and treated the man just after the accident occurred, weighed heavily in the deliberations of the jury. Three cheers greeted him as he left the court, and some of his old companions spirited him away to the old haunt, the Seven Stars Hotel, where they crushed several cups of champagne. Not even a moment to steal a glimpse of the triumphant Carrie; not even a moment to speak again to her mother; the champagne and cordiality flowed fast and furious, and it was long after dark before the hilarious company arose.

Inclined for a re-visitation of his old quarters, he walked with a couple of friends in the direction of the hospital. Nearing the railway-station, where a long, steep path up the high bank went by the name of the raspberry growers' pass, missing his footing, he fell head foremost down the bank and gravelled the side of his face. Wiping off the dirt from the scratches, he proceeded alone into the hospital, where old Hemlock, on seeing the gravel-rash on his face, expressed her very great surprise at his appearance, felt highly delighted at seeing him, considered that the champagne must have had something to do with the accident, and was of the opinion that in five days it would all be gone, by simply exclaiming "Ha-Ha-Ha." With a basin of warm water and soap, she washed the face of her prodigal son, who after looking over a few items in the news of the day, and leading articles on the court action for damages in the pages of the "Evening Star," spent an hour with Lilliecrap, and took his leave from the old place, which he still regretted he had ever left. He stayed for the night at the Seven Stars Hotel.

Annoyed at the contretemps on the railway bank, and apprehensive of the interpretation which people would put upon the gravel-rash, which would, he thought, be quite enough to bring the whole police force of Galveston to The Elms; uneasy about the demeanour of Marvel when he left, and the appearance of her cousin when he walked up the street with her old bête noire, and her subsequent dismissal of a telegram, sleep deserted him for the night and he lay awake till morning dawned. Then he dressed himself and walked out of the hotel to revisit the scenes of his former strolls and haunts. Fully a couple of hours passed while he leisurely loitered about the gardens. Nothing disturbed the placid waters of the lake but the trumpet note of some little paradise duck as it floated idly along the mirror surface among the lilac-stars near page 162the shore. Remorse stole over his mind as he sat again upon the little rustic seat from which he had thrown the red berries to the sailing swans and the navigatory paradise ducks, but he fought hard to repress the feeling. Passing by the old parade-ground and the track where Moss Rose had received his early education, he stood before the weather-board house on the roof of which he had spent the woeful night with the widow, and which was now inhabited by Madame Pompadour minus the bone-miller. Wherever he wandered, the only silver lining to the dark clouds that gathered and hovered in the firmament of his mind were the faces of his rosy children at home. Hurrying back to the hotel for some breakfast, he caught the early train to the city, and as it stopped at the roadside station again, as on the occasion of the trial for murder, into the same carriage marched the great and mighty Gould—the great and omnipotent potentate of pumping engines, belts, and hydraulic rams—while accompanying him came three others. They all sat down together in the same saloon carriage.

"Good morning, dochther," said the great and omnipotent driver of air compressors and hydraulic rams: "what's up with your physog.—been fightin'?" and as the doctor, who had not been fighting, explained the cause of the scratches, "Ahum," said the great man, putting his bag at his feet:—"Mr Brick Bore, this is my son-in-law, Dr. Whitworth: this is Mr. Toynbee, and that is Mr. Catchpole." The company newly introduced shook hands with the doctor.

The appearance of the disfigured son-in-law did not appear to strike the strangers as a matter of very great consequence at all. He therefore felt comparatively easy in his mind, and took up the paper, intending to read it, but was prevented by the clamorous din and the loud and boisterous conversation which the three strangers held with the great and mighty hydraulic-rammer. They made prodigious protestations of a colossal fortune for all, to be made by floating into a Company, by hook or by crook, a new and rich find of tin ore in the central territory of South America near Diamantino9. One of the strangers, a stout, heavy man, with a vertically oblong football-shaped head, seemed to be the leading spirit of the three, and the centre of extravagantly hilarious, uproarious din and attraction. He had spent years among the savages and the birds of Paradise of the Salomon Islands and New Guinea, and all the grog-ranches10 in the bush in the northern parts of South America. He recounted scenes and episodes which he had witnessed in them all. The pachydermatous11 and wary old campaigner had, like Ulysses, seen many cities, and he knew the manners of many men. His career had been the stormiest of the stormy, and in him dwelt a daring character amidst the fiercest passions. He wore a large sombrero cabbage-tree hat, and he had a large nose, like the beak of a bird of prey. He had brought a large store of ivory from India, and he swore, did Brick Bore—and he sang songs, did Brick Bore. He sang to jingling tunes and barbaric modulations whole polyglot songs and scraps from the songs of all nations. He sang in the sweetest page 163pianissimo the song of "Lucy Long—Miss Lucy, Lucy Long," and in the most rousing fortissimo "Die Wacht am Rhein"12 and the "Wild Colorado Boy." Brick Bore further performed tricks by sleight of hand, and no mistake he performed them well. During his noisy gesticulations, the raconteur fashioned a palm-leaf into the shape of a jew's-harp13 and holding it to his mouth he entertained the company with tunes which he played upon it; another (and his pocket was half-full) he twisted and rolled into the shape of a pen, and like a probe he passed it horizontally through an abnormal artificial opening in the column of his nose, through which at one time, he said, he had been ringed by the savages, who took him for the devil. Then he put half-dollars and globules of rolled palm-leaves into his eyes and took them out of his mouth, off the tip of his ever-waggling tongue. His fluent speech was always adorned by an imprecation in the name of some aristocratic lord—some saint of the apocalypse, or even the homely fire-irons, and his language sometimes gave one the impression that he had served in the American navy at one time as a midshipmite14. He anathematised15 for the most part a sacred poker and King Henry V.

"By the lord Harry," his hoarse voice shouted across the carriage, drowning the rattle and whirr of the train, "it'll go thirty thousand ounces to the ton—you bet your bottom dollar it will, Julian Jasper Gould. I'll spike the guns of every member of that blooming exchange that says it won't and I'll spike the guns of every mother's son that doesn't take a promoter—by the holy poker I will. Look you here, Julian Jasper Gould, you never saw such ore in yore life; there's as much there as will buy up the whole city of Chicago, by the lord Harry there is. Wait till we see Vernon at the station, you'll see something to astonish yore eyes, you'll see; just wait—by the holy poker you'll see." The name struck a kindred chord in the heart of Eugene.

Conjuring up in his mind all the theories and probabilities as to who Vernon could be, the doctor fancied as he gleaned scraps of the monologue and pieced them together, that the vision to be seen at the railway terminus was none other than a connexion of the great and mighty hydraulic rammer, a favoured scion of the house of Gould, who had been appointed by the great man to accompany the three adventurers to the promised land of Canaan, inspect the field of ore, the stannic El Dorado of South America, and report upon it for the coal-king's edification. He knew full well it could not be his own brother, whose second name was Vernon, for about that time his own brother, Brosie, was employed on an expedition of his own for the inspection of the bottom of pewter-shafts for irrigation purposes. Brosie knew all about pewter and nothing at all about tin, and had seen very little of its equivalent for years. Brosie's purse had the misfortune to be nearly always empty. The only fee Brosie had received was half-a-dollar from the antiquarian Adam Quain for the advice that he should "hold a chaw of tobacco in his mouth" to cure the ache in the tooth which Brosie had plugged on the pinnacle of science. page 164Futhermore, he remembered that Marvel had said she had only one brother, and his name was Reginald. Venturing to broach the question of the magnificent specimens, he essayed to address the stentorian Bride Bore, who cleared up all his doubts in one act, before he had finished the question which he intended to ask.

He stood aghast when Eugene asked to see a specimen, and shouted—"Jumping Moses! Me! Specimen! no not me, Vernon has though—you'll see by God, you'll see. Vernon has been with us to the place and stayed on the spot three years since he left his billet at the tobacco-plantation. We've got forty tons of the stuff in the 'Mary Jane'; the old man here is going to get an assay made by the government mineralogist: strike me blind it'll go thirty thousand ounces to the ton, by the holy poker it will—thirty thousand ounces to the ton: say that quick if you can—by Saint Aloysius you can't, and there's enough there to buy up the whole city of Chicago," coming down on his knee with a thump sufficient to crush an ox.

"Who is Vernon?" inquired the doctor.

"Vernon!" returned the amazed adventurer, leaning back and staring at the doctor with his mouth open, as if he had got a fright; "Look here, Julian Gould, yore son-in-law doesn't know who Vernon is; strike me blind, he doesn't know yore old colliery manager."

The doctor replied that he had never seen any of the colliery managers, but that he had heard one of them had gone away from Maconville to look after a tobacco-plantation somewhere, and that he had also heard the man was a particular favorite of his father-in-law.

"He's no much to see, dochther," remarked the old coal-king, puffing away at a cigar: "he's what they call in New York a bummer; he would do nothing here but dawdle about and drink swipes, so I sent him to work on a tobacco-plantation in Haiti breedin' turkeys; he was a shareholder in one of the collieries once and was on duty as manager, when he found a seam lost by a land-fault in the Agamemnon. After that, I gave him the management of the plantation, and when Brick Bore picked him up in Haiti I got him to go to Diamantino to look into this affair o' his," nodding his head at Brick Bore. "His name is Jay, and he was the man that first christened Marvel with the name of the Bird of Paradise, although Misthress Hornblower says' it was her. He'll be at the station I expect, as the boat came here last wick."

"By Heavens, he will be there," said Brick Bore, "and by the lord Harry the stuff will be there too, on board the 'Mary Jane'; you'll see," and he sang by way of a change the song of "The Wild Colorado Boy." Hoarse as his great, rough voice was in excited conversation, the irrepressible Brick Bore was gifted with an exquisite, light baritone voice, and, son of a gentleman as he was, he had been trained in many refined accomplishments. His conversation was a monologue of egotism from a throat like a roaring blow-hole—his vocalism was the sound of the sweetest voice of the bird.

Upon the arrival of the train at the metropolis, the prognostication of page 165the irrepressible Brick Bore proved to be correct, for as large as life would let him and twice as natural as nature itself, loomed on the platform the interesting Vernon Jay. With a brand-new belltopper canted up on the side of his head and dipping forward over his forehead till the border of the rim nearly touched his nose, a great preponderance of weighty jewelry depending from various points, one article hanging on to another, and dressed in a loud suit with peg-top16 pantaloons of a conspicuous check pattern, Vernon Jay was the verisimilitude of a hard-working Hebrew bookmaker. He was a long slab of a man, and his face was hillocky with brandy-blossoms17. He had a bottle nose—a beauty. The cock-sparrow style of the bummer, instead of making it a pleasure to the doctor to meet and greet him as a warm friend of his father-in-law, made him rather repulsive, so what with the scratches on his face and the cheeky look of the presumptions and repugnant Vernon Jay he thought it prudent to cut. Slipping away from the company and the jewelry show, he seated himself in the waiting omnibus for Mississippi Quay, and felt more at ease when be boarded the State mail coastal steamer, and within an hour from his embarkation the whistle blew, and the steam-boat started for home. Upon landing on the Galveston pier, the State mail steamer going North was just in the act of hauling off the pier into the stream, and as Eugene stood watching the departing mail-boat he could scarcely believe his eyes when, fair in front of him, to his dismay and mortification, he saw looking out through the port-hole his own little darling Pearly.

"Pearly," he called out to her, "where are you going?"

"Hallo puppa!" shouted Pearly, and she appeared to be pulled back into the saloon; but soon re-appeared at the port-hole calling out, "Mumma says she is going to get me and Vallie's likeness in a big shop, puppa," and the mail-boat swung her head out to sea.

Soliloquising on the way home, he wondered if Marvel bad gone away for months again in his absence, or whether she only intended to go for one day's holiday from home with the children, and while in the city get the childrens' photos taken, for she had often said she would do so. Uneasy and oppressed with misgivings of some fresh series of troubles, he walked to his home at The Elms, overcome with disappointment at the expected welcome of his wife and children, and not knowing what to do; for the servant had again quarreled with his wife and had taken her departure before he left for Augusta. In the surgery upon the table lay a crumpled telegram from her cousin, worded, "Not court—met woman on arrival of train to-day; come at once," and written on a torn half sheet of notepaper—"Sick of sticking here—going to Edenhall with the children. Marvel Imogen Whitworth." She wanted all the privileges but none of the responsibilities of married life. She treated her home as if it were an hotel. His first impulse was to go to Lily Cottage and sit by the side of poor old Miriam, to whom such treachery was unknown; to lay his troubles before her and also before Guinevere—who in her charitable ministrations had become greatly nurtured by Miriam— page 166in the hopes that they might change the uncertain and faithless Marvel, but he rejected the idea and bore his anguish alone. Within a few days the clamorous Brick Bore and the great Julian Gould came to Galveston, palmed off upon him some promoters' certificates in the projected tin-mining company, and occupied his whole day by obliging him to show them over the town and introduce them to all the people whom he knew likely to hand over their contributions to the new company, which, like a gigantic octopus, was spreading out its arms all over the States.

"We want five hundred and fifty thousand," said the mighty Julian Gould; "I'll take thirty thousand myself."

"By Saint Peter and the lord Harry," said the tumultuous Brick Bore, I've muzzled nine thousand in my wife's name; take a few thousand in yore's, Whitworth. You'll never regret it if you do, and you will, by the holy poker you will, if you don't; strike me blind, thirty thousand ounces to the ton!"

The doctor was induced to take three hundred dollars' worth, but held to the opinion that it was proper to take them in his own name, as did the mighty man himself Astonished at not finding his daughter at home, the old man seemed indeed sorry: he guessed there was something wrong.

"Have you been kicking up a row, dochther?" he said in a flippant sort of way, as he helped himself to a huge nobbler of whisky.

Eugene replied that he had not, and that he could not sometimes understand Marvel at all. Suggesting that she must have some reason, good, bad, or indifferent, he offered the only light which he had on the subject in the shape of the telegram and note from her cousin and Marvel respectively.

"That's hit," said her father; "I thought she had that nonsense out of her head, years ago; she's a queer fesh is Marvel. I wish I had that money back to put into the company; it was nothing but a piece of damned nonsense altogether; never mind, dochther, I'll see about her when I get back and pack her off home with a flea in her ear. Its something sickenin'—I ken what her mother is, the damned fool, and Marvel is her mother all over; if ye want anything let me know."

The doctor assured his father-in-law that he did not want anything more than his wife and children back, and said that he was doing very well in Galveston.

"Keep away frae the whisky," said the old tumblerful-drinker, "and go straight: I've no doubt ye'll get on—a man with your ability will find——"

"Halifax!" burst out Brick Bore; "I'll show you a place where you'll make fifty thousand a year if yo're any good at all; come away with us to-day: I'll show you a place for a doctor, only thirty-five miles out of the city I'm going there to sell shares, and you can't do better than have a look at the place; just look at the place, by the holy poker, look at the place; you'll see, by Jupiter you'll see—you'll spike their guns, by the lord Harry—you'll spike their guns."

"I don't think Marvel likes this part of the world," said the old specu-page 167lator; "but you know your own business best. Rolling stones gather nae moss, dochther; but please yourself. I won't see ye stuck."

On the spur of the moment Whitworth was at a loss what to say or what to do. The disappointment on his return; the dread that further trouble was pending with his obdurate wife, in spite of her father's expressed intention to send her home, as he seldom fulfilled his promises; the respect which he felt for the rough old man; the new notion presented to him by Brick Bore, all wrestled with one another in a wild melée in his brain the whole night long in the empty house when they had gone. Amongst all his conflicting emotions, like bright stars of hope and sweetness in the cloudy horizon of his distracted mind, glittered the love and the memories of his fine little boy and his little rosebud of a girl. His visitors had left for night revelries, magnificent debauches and orgies in the city, while Eugene lay in an all-night reverie in that deserted home and heard every bell that tolled.

"He saddened, all the mystic light
Died out at once from bower and hall,
And all the place was dark, and all
The chambers emptied of delight."18

1 Of contemporaneous origin. OED Online.

[Note added by Sara Berger as annotator]

2 Whatman paper: the proprietary name for a kind of paper, made in various qualities, used for drawings, engravings, etc. OED Online. See 'Whatman'.

[Note added by Sara Berger as annotator]

3 A nymph pursued by Apollo and transformed into a laurel tree. Dictionary of Classical Mythology 1995.

[Note added by Sara Berger as annotator]

4 In Greek mythology, a supernaturally talented musician. Dictionary of Classical Mythology 1995.

[Note added by Sara Berger as annotator]

5 A variety of hazelnut. OED Online. See 'Barcelona', sense 2.

[Note added by Sara Berger as annotator]

6 Referring to the traditional rhyme 'The House that Jack Built, and in particular, 'This is the priest all shaven and shorn/ That married the man all tattered and torn/ That kissed the maiden all forlorn'.

[Note added by Sara Berger as annotator]

7 To settle a score. Partridge 1972.

[Note added by Sara Berger as annotator]

8 In Greek mythology, Hera's watchman, who had a hundred eyes. Dictionary of Classical Mythology 1995.

[Note added by Sara Berger as annotator]

9 Referring to a Brazilian town at which there was a diamond mining boom in 1746. (Informal source.)

[Note added by Sara Berger as annotator]

10 Uncertain; probably related to grog-shop, grog-den, a place to buy and drink grog. Green 2005.

[Note added by Sara Berger as annotator]

11 Like a pachyderm (generally large, thick-skinned, sparsely-haired herbivores, such as elephants and hippopotomuses). OED Online.

[Note added by Sara Berger as annotator]

12 The Watch on the Rhine; German patriotic song, although more popular after the establishment of the German Empire in 1871 than at the time of Dutton's characters.

[Note added by Sara Berger as annotator]

13 Harmonica.

[Note added by Sara Berger as annotator]

14 Midshipman (humourous). OED Online.

[Note added by Sara Berger as annotator]

15 Correctly, to formally curse or declare anathema upon a person or thing. OED Online.

[Note added by Sara Berger as annotator]

16 An item of clothing which is baggy at the hips and narrow further down. OED Online. See 'pegtop', compound and derivative uses.

[Note added by Sara Berger as annotator]

17 Pimples which related to excessive consumption of alcohol. Green 2005.

[Note added by Sara Berger as annotator]

18 In Memoriam A. H. H. Obit MCCCXXXIII, VIII, Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

[Note added by Sara Berger as annotator]