Chambers’s Journal of Popular Literature, Science, and Art, No. 747, April 20,

CHAMBERS’S JOURNAL
OF
POPULAR
LITERATURE, SCIENCE, AND ART.

CONTENTS

CAPTAIN COPPIN.
HELENA, LADY HARROGATE.
NEW EXPLOSIVES.
MR ASLATT’S WARD.
LUNDY ISLAND.
BY-LAW No. 7.
THE LITTLE DOG MATCH.
PHONOGRAPH ODDITIES.



No. 747.

Price 1½d.

SATURDAY, APRIL 20, 1878.


CAPTAIN COPPIN.

Among the many marvels of art in the present day is the art of lifting sunk vessels from the bottom of the sea, or of rescuing them in a sadly injured condition from dangerous ledges of rock, where in former times they must have inevitably been lost. Of course, this marvel is primarily due to the agency of steam acting on pumps, diving-bells, huge chains, and other apparatus; but it is clear that without the audacity of resource possessed by men skilled in maritime affairs, all mechanical agency whatsoever would be valueless.

It is pleasant to know that while science has been doing so much for people who live on dry land, seamen who peril their lives on the great ocean that wraps round the world have not been neglected; and to maritime invention are added civil laws and arrangements distinctly intended to preserve life and property at sea. In touching on this interesting subject, we may first speak of Salvage as a means for stimulating the efforts of humanity. Salvage is the payment due to persons who save a vessel that has been abandoned by its crew, or which is placed in some peculiar jeopardy. On the owners of ships so rescued, rests the obligation of paying a reasonable sum as salvage; and in the case of any dispute regarding the amount, the matter is settled by a decision of the Court of Admiralty. When the vessel has been insured against sea-risks by the underwriters at Lloyd’s, or others, these, for their own interests, make compensation for the recovery of the jeopardised property. Seafaring populations on the English coast are ordinarily prompt in helping to save the lives of shipwrecked mariners, as well as in recovering and taking charge of goods washed ashore. At one time the wreckage of vessels driven ashore became a prey to depredators, known as wreckers; but scandals of this kind do not now occur, partly owing to the vigilance of magistrates, police, and coastguard, and partly to that of the numerous agents of Lloyd’s, whose duty it is to take charge of any species of property driven ashore. Like an invisible army, these agents of Lloyd’s are established all round the coasts of the British Islands, ready to pounce upon and secure every article which the waves bring to land. The plundering of wreckage, such as Sir Walter Scott picturesquely describes in The Pirate, could not now therefore take place. As far as the law can do it, the property imperilled on the deep is protected from depredation.

Latterly, the succouring of vessels in a distressed condition at sea has not been altogether left to chance or to private adventure, under the prospect of salvage. There has sprung up a system of recovery on a great scale. Salvage Companies possessing a large capital have been established in London, Liverpool, and elsewhere. By means of powerful and skilfully managed steam-tugs, they undertake to rescue, if possible, ships that have been thought to be almost beyond human aid. There is something heart-stirring in the idea of a few heroic men sallying forth in the forlorn hope of lifting a ship sunk to the bottom of the sea, floating it safely into harbour, and restoring to the owner that which had been given up as lost. Proceedings of this kind take their place alongside of the feats performed by means of Life-boats, renowned among the maritime glories of England.

In the wonderful art of lifting and floating sunk vessels, no one has so greatly distinguished himself as Captain William Coppin, who is said to have recovered a hundred and forty ships that would otherwise in all probability have never more been heard of. Perhaps we may some day have a record of the more interesting cases in which the captain was concerned. In the meanwhile, trusting to newspaper accounts, we draw attention to the proceedings that lately took place in endeavouring to rescue a vessel stranded on a dangerous ledge of rocks at Bembridge, Isle of Wight. The vessel is described as the clipper bark Alphita, with ballast, bound from Amsterdam to Cardiff. Its length was a hundred and ninety-six and a half feet, with eighteen feet depth of hold. It was a handsomely-built, smart-sailing vessel, which cost thirteen thousand pounds—most likely sent on a mission to take a cargo of coal from{194} Wales to Holland. It was fully insured at Lloyd’s. This fine vessel encountered a tremendous gale in December 1877, and notwithstanding the efforts of Mr G. E. Stone, master, was driven with violence on the above-mentioned ledge of rocks. The unfortunate vessel was thrown to a considerable distance among the rocks, and there she stuck, with underplating damaged, her sides bulged in, water getting freely into the hold, and with mainmast fractured. To all appearance the ship was finished. By no ordinary process could she be got off. What was to be done? Sad to leave a thing of beauty and considerable cost to be dashed to pieces by recurring storms in the Channel!

There were grave consultations on the matter by the owners and underwriters. The vessel was too valuable even with all her injuries to be abandoned outright. It was resolved to employ a Salvage Company to endeavour to get the vessel floated into port. A vigorous attempt of this kind was made, and it failed. The Alphita still stuck. As if all hope of recovery was gone, and not wishing to be plagued any more about it, the underwriters sold the vessel where she lay for two hundred pounds. There was a bargain. A thirteen thousand pound vessel disposed of for the paltry sum of two hundred pounds. The purchase, however, was a pure hazard. If the vessel could not be got off, it was not worth anything. Already, an immense deal of trouble had been taken to float the Alphita, and it was of no use. Two hundred pounds was accordingly not a bad offer. The purchasers were the Salvage Steam-ship Company of London, of which Captain Coppin is the managing director.

The case is crucial. A vessel is stuck upon a reef of rocks from which no earthly power appears to be able to dislodge it. Captain Coppin yokes to this seeming impossibility. Let us mark the resources of genius.

At the spot where the Alphita was fixed with a leaning to one side, the tide rises about twelve feet. There, in the first place, is an agency of nature, which it would be clearly important to utilise. That is to say, make use of the rise of the tide. Very good; but there were holes in the vessel that would require to be plugged before she would budge. All this was done. The damaged parts of the vessel were cut off by water-tight bulkheads, and the rents in the exterior sheathing were repaired. There was also a good deal of calking of open seams. Until these various arrangements were effected, the vessel was strapped down, to prevent bumping or further damage. Wedges were also employed to make the vessel stand upright. When these and other means had been adopted, it was thought that the vessel was ready to be pumped dry and floated off. Now were set agoing powerful steam-pumps, capable of throwing out six thousand tuns of water an hour. The vessel began to be buoyant. There were some protuberances of rock in the way which would prevent her slipping into deep water. To make a proper channel, three hundred tons of rock were cut away, and now, as every one believed, there was nothing to prevent the vessel being tugged into the open sea.

It was a great day, when all things being in readiness, the Salvage Company’s steamer Sherbro, and the dockyard tug Camel, made their appearance on the scene, and set to work on the hitherto disabled vessel. What a shout from the sailors when taken in hand by the tugs, the Alphita quietly glided into deep water, and was towed along a distance of ten or twelve miles to Portsmouth. We say this was a triumph of art. It is what could not have been done half a century ago. On reaching Portsmouth, the vessel underwent a regular inspection, and was found to have sustained very material damages, which, however, were not irreparable, and are in the course of being repaired. We conclude the accounts given of this remarkable exploit, by stating that Captain Coppin intends to commence operations on the Vanguard, one of Her Majesty’s ironclads, accidentally sunk on the southern coast of Ireland. He has already, it is said, managed to introduce a couple of hawsers under the hull; and with some interest we shall await the result. To lift an ironclad war-vessel from the bottom of the sea, and float her to the nearest port, would surely be the perfection of maritime engineering. Possibly it may be done. We are no longer astonished at anything.

W. C.


HELENA, LADY HARROGATE.

CHAPTER XXI.—ETHEL FINDS A FRIEND.

It was all one property once,’ said Lady Maud, as she sat by Ethel’s side in the open window of the school-room, while Ethel’s pupil, Lady Alice, was busily engaged in copying a sketch. The window commanded across the park a view of Carbery, with its Elizabethan gables and vanes glinting back the sun. Lady Maud was fond of spending her spare hours in the society of the new governess, and she and Ethel were, in spite of the difference of their position, fast friends.

‘It is seldom,’ said Ethel Gray, ‘that two such grand houses are so close together.’

‘They belonged, as I said, to one owner,’ returned Lady Maud; ‘and the builder of Carbery was a De Vere and lived at High Tor, long ago. He was an ancestor of ours; but I don’t know exactly how it was that the properties came to be divided. I do know how Sir Sykes came to be master of the Chase; and if you like, I will tell you the story. It is no secret. I wonder that none of the village gossips have been beforehand with me.’

‘I always imagined Sir Sykes to be a relation of yours,’ said Ethel, with another glance at the stately mansion, gleaming in the mellow sunshine.

‘No more than you are, dear,’ answered Lady Maud; ‘and indeed he never could have expected to be the owner of that fine place, when he was a{195} boy. He was poor enough. His father, old Sir Harbottle, had been a sad spendthrift, and died abroad; and when Sir Sykes, then a captain of infantry, came back from India, he had nothing to inherit but the baronetcy. They are Yorkshire people, the Denzils, not Devonshire; but there was a connection by marriage between Sir Sykes and old Lord Harrogate, who had married Sir Harbottle’s sister.

‘This old Lord Harrogate was the master of Carbery Chase, and a kinsman of ours, and head of all the De Veres; but how, I cannot exactly tell you, for we titled people I suspect often remember as little of our pedigree as if our names were Jones or Robinson. I only know that he was a rich, lonely, furious-tempered old man, a widower without any children or nephews, and had quarrelled with all his relations, with Papa most of all, about some tiresome election business. They say lords are forbidden by law to meddle with elections, but they do meddle; and the Earl went on one side, and old Lord Harrogate, who was of different politics, on the other. The end of it was that Sir Sykes was sent for, and that Lord Harrogate made his will, giving every acre to his wife’s nephew; just, as he said, that no De Vere should be the better for his death.

‘What was the oddest thing of all,’ pursued Lady Maud, ‘was that the old lord did not like Sir Sykes at all, and told him so, they say; but made him his heir exactly because he thought it would be gall and wormwood to his own kith and kin. And it was supposed that Lord Harrogate’s anger and violent emotions brought on the fatal fit of apoplexy by which he was carried off. At anyrate he died suddenly only a few hours after the signing of the will; and that was how Sir Sykes became master of Carbery.’

‘I should not think it could have made him very happy,’ said Ethel thoughtfully.

‘I am sure I don’t know why it should not,’ said the more practical Lady Maud. ‘It was no fault of his, after all, that Lord Harrogate had the whim to will it away as he did; and Papa owed him no grudge for it; and we have always been on neighbourly terms, if not very intimate. But it did not make him happy. Sir Sykes,’ she added laughingly, ‘had, you must know, a most romantic love-affair in his youth, unlikely as such a thing seems to those who see him now.’

Ethel Gray asked, with more interest than before, if it were Sir Sykes Denzil’s love-affair which had prevented his enjoying the material prosperity which was his.

‘I have always thought so,’ said Lady Maud confidently; ‘though people ascribe his sad looks and retired life to a different cause. But there is no doubt that he was very much in love with a certain Miss De Vere, an exceedingly pretty girl, whom Papa and Mamma always speak of as Cousin Clare, and whose picture I will shew you this evening, if you like, in the Green Room. Cousin Clare was an orphan, with no money, and she lived in Papa’s house when he was first married; and poor as she was, she was to be Lady Harrogate when the old lord died.’

‘I thought your brother’—— said Ethel wonderingly.

‘O yes; it has come to us now, the title,’ said Lady Maud, smiling. ‘But Miss Clare De Vere, who was a distant cousin, came next in succession, and was to have the Barony, and be a peeress in her own right, when the old lord died. Harrogate is one of the oldest English titles, and goes, as they call it, to heirs-female; so that it was a standing joke that poor Miss De Vere would be a peeress without income enough to pay her milliner; only every one hoped she would marry well, since she was very lovely, as I told you. Now Sir Sykes was desperately in love with her; but the Earl did not approve of his suit, nor did Mamma, for he was badly off and in debt, and had been married before.’

‘I did not know that. I noticed Lady Denzil’s monument in the church only a month ago,’ rejoined Ethel.

‘That was the second wife,’ said Lady Maud. ‘Jasper and the girls were not her children. No. Sir Sykes married very young, when a subaltern in India, and there his wife died; and when he came home a widower, he had these three children to provide for, and scarcely any means at all. He was a handsome man—that I think one can see. But Cousin Clare did not like him; still she was of a gentle yielding nature, and when Sir Sykes became owner of Carbery, and a very good match indeed, and Papa thought Clare had better accept him, somehow she allowed herself to be talked into an engagement. Well, the baronet was very urgent, and he had got the Earl and Countess on his side; and poor Cousin Clare I’m afraid was not very strong-minded, so she promised to marry Sir Sykes; though the man she really cared for was a needy cousin of hers and ours, Colonel Edward De Vere of the Guards; and the wedding things were all got ready, and the lawyers had drawn the settlements; when, to the surprise of all, Cousin Clare was missing. She had eloped with her cousin Edward, and was married to him in Scotland.’

‘Sir Sykes must have felt that very much?’ said Ethel, looking across the park towards the distant mansion of Carbery.

‘He did,’ returned Lady Maud. ‘But I don’t pity him, because, as you shall hear, he behaved very ill. It was Papa who broke the news to him; and I have heard the Earl say that the passion of uncontrolled rage with which he received it was absolutely horrible. Some anger was natural of course; but he was more like a fiend than a man. He swore that he would be revenged; that he would never rest until he had found some means of stabbing Clare’s heart, as she had stabbed his, and of making her bitterly rue the day when she had cast him off. He was, in fact, dreadfully violent, and it seemed the more shocking in a polite smooth-spoken man like him; but of course people excused him on account of the excitement of his feelings.

‘Men who are jilted do odd things, they say. In half a year after Clare’s elopement, Sir Sykes married a Manchester heiress with a large fortune; and three years later the second Lady Denzil died at Tunbridge Wells; and soon after, her only child, a little girl of about three years old, died too. From that time it was that Sir Sykes’s melancholy was supposed to date. It was supposed that he{196} never got over the loss of this baby daughter, and that was the odder, because he seemed the very last man to mourn always over a little child. It was not the loss of his wife; he cared very little for her. And he never seemed a devoted father to his surviving children. Yet since that tiny mite of a girl was buried, he never held up his head as he had been used to do.’

‘And Miss Clare, Miss De Vere?’ asked Ethel, with a feminine interest in the heroine of the story.

‘Ah! poor Cousin Clare!’ said Lady Maud seriously: ‘she suffered enough, poor thing, to expiate her breach of faith to Sir Sykes tenfold. Very, very short was her time of happy married life before’——

‘I wish, Maud, please, you would look at this sketch for me, and help me with the foreground. I’ve made the figures too big, I’m afraid, and can’t get in the rest of it,’ said young Lady Alice, from amid her pencils and colour-boxes.

‘I will; I’ll come and try what I can make of it, as soon as I have told Miss Gray the rest of the story—the saddest part of it, I am sorry to say,’ said good-natured Lady Maud. ‘Sir Sykes’s vengeance was realised, terribly realised, without his having to stir a finger in the matter, for little more than three years after Cousin Clare’s marriage, her husband, whom she almost idolised, was brought home to the house a corpse. He had, like many other heroes both in romance and reality, been thrown from his horse in the hunting-field and killed on the spot.

‘The young Baroness Harrogate—I have already told you that Clare was heir-female to the title at the death of the old lord—was all but killed too, as I have heard, by the shock of her husband’s death; but for the sake of her child, the only earthly consolation left to her, the poor thing bore up under her great affliction. Yet Papa said that when he went to see her, her mournful eyes quite haunted him for weeks and months afterwards, and that, beautiful as she still was, she looked but the ghost of her former self. Then, when the next summer came round—— I hardly like to tell it!’ said Lady Maud, as the tears rose thickly in her eyes.

‘Do not tell me any more,’ said Ethel gently, ‘if it gives you pain.’

‘No; I was foolish,’ returned her friend, smiling; ‘for what I am speaking of happened long, long ago, when you and I were in the nursery, and I have heard it related very often, though I never told it until to-day. Well, the young widow lived on in the house she had inhabited since the first days of her marriage, a pretty cottage beside the Thames, and there she dwelt alone with her child, a sweet little creature, a girl of three years of age, who promised to be nearly as beautiful as her beautiful mother. And then this last hope was snatched away.’

‘Did the child die?’ asked Ethel falteringly.

‘It was worse than that,’ answered Lady Maud, whose lip trembled as she spoke. ‘She had been with the child in the garden, which bordered the river. Little Helena—that was her name—was playing among the flowers when her mother was called away, and as she was entering the house, she heard a faint cry or scream, in what seemed to be the child’s voice. She ran back to the garden, and to the grassy terrace where she had left her young treasure; but the child was not to be seen. She called; but there was no answer. Trembling, she neared the water’s edge, and there she saw the child’s tiny straw-hat with its broad black ribbon, floating down the river; but of the body—for no one could doubt but that the poor little lamb had been drowned—there were no signs; and when aid was summoned and a search begun, it proved fruitless.’

‘Was the poor little child never found then?’ asked Ethel, more moved than she had expected to be by these details.

‘Never found,’ replied Lady Maud. ‘No rewards, no entreaties availed, though men examined every creek and shoal of the river. No trace of the lost one was ever discovered except the little straw-hat. With that the miserable young mother never would part. On her own death-bed—and she died very soon after, utterly broken down by this double bereavement—it was the last object on which her dying eyes looked as her feeble fingers clung to it, that little hat of the child’s. We talk lightly of broken hearts. And yet, such things can be. Poor Cousin Clare died of one. Hers was a sad, sad story.’

Both Lady Maud and Ethel were weeping now. The former was the first to dry her eyes.

‘We are very silly,’ she said, trying to smile, ‘to cry in this way over an old history concerning people that we never, to our knowledge, saw; for though I was alive when Cousin Clare married, I don’t remember her at all. I was too young for that. Only it struck me often that Sir Sykes Denzil’s sadness may have more to do with the desertion of his betrothed bride and her brief career and early ending, than with the cause to which it is generally assigned. Don’t you think so too?’

Ethel did think so; but she did not speak for a moment, and then she said: ‘I pity Sir Sykes too. How bitterly his own cruel words, as to the revenge he threatened, must have come back to his memory when he heard the news of that great misfortune—of the child’s being drowned.’

‘Idle threats, dear! Perhaps he hardly remembered having spoken so foolishly in his excitement,’ answered Lady Maud indifferently. ‘It was after all about that time that he lost his own little daughter. Cousin Clare’s title came to Papa, and our brother Harrogate bears it by courtesy, as you know. There was no property. The poor little child, had she lived, would have been Helena, Lady Harrogate.’

‘The body was never found at all?’ asked Ethel.

‘Never found!’ said Lady Maud.—‘Now Alice, I’ll help you with your drawing.’ And the conversation ceased.

CHAPTER XXII.—ARCADES AMBO.

Hot, dusty, and conventionally empty as London now was, and stifling as was the confined air of St Nicholas Poultney, Mr Enoch Wilkins was in gay good-humour. He shewed it by the urbanity with which he was dismissing a shabby-genteel man of middle age, to whose remonstrances he had listened with a bland semi-serious patience unusual to him.

‘Now, really, Mr Greening, really we must have no more of this,’ he said, shewing his white{197} front teeth in an affable smile. ‘“Can’t pay” and “Won’t pay” are, I fancy, convertible phrases. The Loan Office cannot afford to do business on sentimental principles. And it’s all very well to say that you only had in cash nine seven eleven, as consideration for your notes of hand, amounting to—let me see.’ And the solicitor glanced at a bundle of papers on the table.

‘To twenty-eight pounds six and fourpence,’ said the debtor piteously; ‘two-thirds of which are for interest and commission.’

‘But that,’ pursued the solicitor, ‘by no means affects the legal aspect of the case. The bill of sale over your furniture is none the less valid. I didn’t quite catch your last remark.—Ah! to sell you up would be to you sheer ruin? Then, my good Mr Greening, I advise you to stave off the ruin by prompt payment, to escape the very heavy expenses to which you will otherwise be put. Good-day to you.—Now,’ he added to his clerk, ‘I will see this Mr Hold.’ And as the impecunious Greening took his melancholy leave, the sunburnt countenance of Richard Hold became visible in the doorway.

‘From abroad, I presume?’ said Mr Wilkins affably, as his observant eye noted the seafaring aspect of his visitor and the bronze on his cheek, which might well have become a successful Australian digger, fresh with his dust and nuggets from the gold-fields.

‘Well—I have been abroad; I have knocked about the world a goodish bit,’ answered Hold slowly, ‘but just latterly I’ve stayed ashore.’

Mr Wilkins picked up the office penknife and tapped the table with the buckhorn handle of it somewhat impatiently. He did not entertain quite so high an opinion of the swarthy stranger as before. The first glance had suggested damages in a running-down case at sea; the second, some claim for salvage; the third, an investment of savings earned, according to the picturesque phrase, ‘where the gold grows.’ But the solicitor knew life well enough to be aware that those who have knocked, in Hold’s words, about the world, are rolling stones whereon seldom grows the moss of profit.

‘What, Mr Hold, may be your business with me?’ he asked curtly.

Richard Hold was not in the least nettled at this chilling reception. His dark roving eyes made their survey of the lawyer’s surroundings, from the heavy silver inkstand to the prints on the walls, and then settled on the face of Mr Enoch Wilkins himself.

‘That depends,’ said Hold, with a lazy good-humour, as he leaned against the door-post nearest to him, ‘on what you call business, skipper!’

Mr Wilkins frowned; but the words, sharp and peremptory, that rose to his lips, remained unspoken. His first idea had been that this was the saucy freak of an ill-conditioned sailor, and that a word to his clerk and a summons to the policeman on his beat hard by, would rid him of the intruder. But the man was quite sober. There must be some reason for his singular tone and bearing. Wherefore, when Mr Wilkins spoke again, it was urbanely enough: ‘If I can be of use to you professionally, sir, you may command me; at least I shall be glad to hear what you have got to say. Perhaps you feel somewhat strange in a lawyer’s office?’

‘I haven’t seen the inside of one since six years ago I was in trouble at Singapore about—never mind what!’ returned Hold, checking his too communicative flow of words, and then added: ‘Now I hail from Devonshire—Dartmoor way—Carbery Chase way, not to mince matters.’

Mr Wilkins started. ‘Have you a message for me—from Sir Sykes, I mean?’ he inquired, in an altered voice.

‘No!’ replied Hold, in a dubious tone, and coughing expressively behind his broad brown hand; ‘not exactly that.’

The lawyer looked keenly at his visitor. Hold’s bold eyes met his. The man’s unabashed confident air was not lost on so shrewd an observer of human nature as was Enoch Wilkins. ‘Take a chair, I beg, Mr Hold,’ he said civilly; and Hold took a chair, placed it sideways, and seating himself upon it in a careless informal attitude, rested one elbow on the chair-back, and contemplated the lawyer with serene scrutiny.

‘You come from Sir Sykes, however, although you do not bring a message?’ asked Mr Wilkins.

‘Take your affidavy of that, squire!’ returned Hold, in an assured tone. ‘We ought to be friends, you and I,’ he added, with what was meant for an engaging smile, ‘for we are both, I reckon, in the same boat.’

‘In the same boat, hey?’ repeated Mr Wilkins cautiously. ‘How’s that?’

‘I mean,’ said Hold, knitting his black brows, ‘that we are both pretty much on the same lay—that we know a thing or two about a rich party that shall be nameless, and about certain old scores, and a certain young lady, and—— Why should I do all the chat, master? Is this Greek to you, or do you catch my meaning?’

Mr Wilkins, whose eyes had opened very widely as he listened, here started as though he had been electrified. ‘I understand you to imply,’ he said smoothly, ‘that our interests are identical?’

‘Well, I guess they are,’ responded Hold, in the blunt fashion that was natural to him. ‘We both, I suppose, want as many of Sir Sykes Denzil’s yellow coins as we can conjure out of his pocket; and both need no teaching to turn the screw pretty smartly when we see our way to it; eh, mister?’

Enoch Wilkins, gentleman, winced before this over-candid home-thrust. It is indeed one thing to be guilty of a particular act and another to hear it defined with unmannerly plainness of speech. And he did not quite like the being bracketed, as to his motives and position, with a piratical-looking fellow, such as he saw Hold to be. But to take offence was not his cue; so he laughed softly, as at the sallies of some rough humorist, and rattled his watch-guard to and fro, as he warily made answer: ‘All men, I believe, are supposed to take care of Number One. I do not profess to be a bit more disinterested than my neighbours, and if I did, you are too wide awake to believe me.’

‘Right you are!’ responded Richard with a mollified grin and an amicable snap of the ends of his hard fingers. ‘I never cruised in company with a philanderer’ (meaning probably a philanthropist) ‘but once, and he made off with my kit and gold-dust while I was taking my turn down shaft at Flathead Creek, in California there. My notion is that there are pickings for both. Why{198} should we two fall out so long as Sir Sykes Denzil, Baronet, is good for this kind of thing?’ And the ruffian imitated, in expressive pantomime, the action of squeezing a sponge.

Again the lawyer laughed. ‘No need,’ he said with well-feigned admiration for the other’s astuteness, ‘to send your wits to the whetstone, Mr—or perhaps I should say Captain—Hold.’

‘Well, I don’t dislike the handle to my name; and I’ve a fairish right to it, since I’ve had my own cuddy and my own quarter-deck,’ rejoined Hold boastfully. ‘And now, squire, I’d like to hear your views a little more explicit out than I have had the pleasure.’

It was the attorney’s turn to cough now, as he replied, still swaying his watch-guard to and fro: ‘There you push me, my good sir, into a corner. Every profession has its point of honour, you know; and we lawyers are shy of talking over the affairs of an absent client unless’——

‘Client, you call him, do you?’ broke in Hold. ‘Maybe you’re correct there, since you’ve brought the Bart. to throw Pounce and Pontifex overboard, and make you first-officer over his tenants; but he warn’t a client before yesterday.’

The astonishment written in Mr Wilkins’s face was very genuine. Of all the extraordinary confidants whom Sir Sykes could have selected, surely this coarse fierce adventurer was the most unlikely. And yet how, save from Sir Sykes himself, could the fellow have acquired his knowledge of the truth?

‘I was not prepared’—— stammered out the lawyer.

‘Not prepared,’ interrupted Hold coolly, ‘to find a rough diamond like yours to command, so deep in the Bart.’s little secrets. Perhaps not. Mind ye, I don’t want to quarrel. Live and let live. But it’s good sometimes to fire a shotted gun athwart a stranger’s bows, d’ ye see?’

‘You and Sir Sykes are old acquaintances?’ said the lawyer, feeling his way.

‘Pretty well for that. Years too have gone by a few since you and he first came within hailing distance,’ replied Hold with assumed carelessness.

‘We were younger men, that’s certain,’ returned the lawyer with a jolly laugh and a twinkling eye. That anybody should try to extract from him—from him, Enoch Wilkins, information that he desired to keep to himself—to pump him, in homely phraseology, seemed to the attorney of St Nicholas Poultney, in the light of an exquisitely subtle joke. Hold, in spite of his confidence in his own shrewdness, began to entertain vague doubts as to whether in a fair field he was quite a match for the London solicitor. Fortune, however, had dealt him a handful of court-cards, and he proceeded to improve the occasion.

‘Now, squire,’ said Hold impressively, and laying one brawny hand, as if to enforce the argument, on the table as he spoke, ‘I could, if I chose, clap a match to the powder-magazine and blow the whole concern sky-high. Suppose I weren’t well used among ye? Suppose I began to meet cold looks and buttoned-up pockets? What easier than to make a clean breast of what it no longer pays to keep secret, stand the consequences—I’ve stood worse on the Antipodes side of the world—and get another sniff of blue water. That would spoil your market, squire!’

Mr Wilkins muttered something about edge-tools; but his seafaring guest answered the remark by a short laugh of scorn. ‘You know a thing or two,’ he said incisively; ‘so do I. Are we or are we not to act in concert? If not, up with your colours and fire a broadside. Anyhow, friend or enemy, I’ll thank you to speak out.’

All Mr Wilkins’s liveliness vanished in an instant, and he seemed strongly and soberly in earnest as he said: ‘I will speak out, as you call it. I should very much prefer to be on good terms with you. I should like us, as far as we prudently can, to co-operate. But you have not as yet told me what you would have me do.’

‘I’ll tell you,’ said Hold confidentially, edging his chair nearer to the lawyer’s. ‘When you go down to Carbery——You mean to go, don’t you?’ he added abruptly.

‘Certainly,’ said the lawyer, touching a spring in the table by which he sat, and producing from a concealed drawer, that flew open at his touch, a letter, which he unfolded and handed to his visitor. ‘You know so much, captain, that I need not keep back this from you. It is from Sir Sykes, as you see. The contents are probably not strange to you.’

‘Not likely,’ returned the seaman, throwing his eyes, with ill-dissembled eagerness, on the letter. ‘He asks you to come down then, and names an early day. The rents will be passing through your hands before long, Mister. ’Tain’t that, though, I want to speak of. You’ll find when you get to the Chase, a young lady there.’

‘I understood that Sir Sykes had two daughters,’ said the attorney innocently.

‘He had three, if you come to that,’ was Hold’s rough answer. ‘But this is no daughter. Maybe she’ll be a daughter-in-law, some fine day.’

‘Oho!’ said Mr Wilkins, arching his eyebrows. ‘Young lady on a visit, I presume?’

‘On a very long visit,’ answered Hold. ‘A ward she is of the Bart., orphan daughter of an old Indian brother-officer. Name of Willis; Christian name Ruth.’

‘Ruth!’ Trained and practised as the sharp London man of business was in the incessant struggle of wits and jarring interests, he could not repress the exclamation. ‘Bless me—Ruth!’ he added breathlessly, and grew red and pale by turns. There seemed to be some magic in the sound of that apparently simple name which affected those who heard it.

‘Name of Willis; Christian name Ruth,’ repeated Hold. ‘Like one of themselves she is now. Shouldn’t wonder if she were to change her name, first to Mrs Captain Denzil, afterwards to Lady Denzil when Sir Jasper that will be comes into title and property. You’ve known Sir Jasper that will be, squire; you’ve had dealings with him. Now, mark me! The sooner that young dandy makes up his mind to place a gold ring on Miss Ruth’s pretty finger, the better for him and for the Bart. and for you too Mr Wilkins. “A nod’s as good as a wink”—you know the rest of the proverb.’ And throwing on the table a card, on which were legibly pencilled the words ‘Captain Hold. Inquire at Plugger’s Boarding-house;’ and promising, ominously, to see Mr Wilkins again, in London or at Carbery, the seaman took his leave.

Left alone, the lawyer’s features relaxed into a smile of satisfaction. ‘A cleverish fellow and vain{199} of his cleverness, this Hold, but very communicative. It would surprise you, my good captain, if you knew how very much you have been kind enough to tell me, during our late interview.’


NEW EXPLOSIVES.

At the head of the list of deadly explosives must of course be placed gunpowder, which is so well known that nothing needs to be said regarding it. Interest attaches to recent inventions, still as it were in their infancy. The most important of these new explosives is gun-cotton, a substance of most peculiar nature and properties. It is prepared by immersing cotton-waste (previously rendered chemically clean) in a mixture of nitric and sulphuric acid—the latter acid merely acting as a mechanical aid to the former. The cotton is afterwards thoroughly washed, reduced to a pulp, and finally dried and compressed into slabs or discs; the last operation being the only process throughout its manufacture which is attended with danger. Even where the greatest precautions are taken, the constant handling of a dangerous substance with impunity will sooner or later lead to carelessness, or at anyrate to forgetfulness of its terrible character. The disastrous explosion some years ago at the large gun-cotton works at Stowmarket, where the most stringent rules for the common safety were in force, is an illustration of this. It is needless to dwell upon the impossibility of tracing the immediate cause of such a fatality—the guilty hand being of course one of the first to suffer the dread penalty.

It is a curious peculiarity of gun-cotton that the intensity of its action depends upon the manner in which it is ignited. A smouldering spark will induce it to smoulder also; a flame will cause it to go off in a feeble puff; but a detonating fuse will, as it were, enrage it, causing it to explode with a force ten times that of gunpowder. Gun-cotton is not adapted for the rifle, where extreme uniformity of combustion is one of the conditions of accurate shooting; but it can be used for sporting purposes, provided that the risk of frictional ignition in ramming home be obviated by the use of a breech-loading gun. Its force can, by dilution with pure cotton or other inert substance, be brought more to the level of gunpowder, but only at the sacrifice of those good qualities, such as freedom from smoke and reduction of fouling, which really constitute the chief advantages of its use. It is, we believe, used exclusively for charging torpedoes; and a suggestion has been thrown out that it might also be used with great advantage in savage warfare for the destruction of palisades and defences of a similar kind, in dense jungle impenetrable by artillery.

The next explosive in order of usefulness is nitro-glycerine, to make which, ordinary glycerine is acted upon (as in the case of gun-cotton) with nitric and sulphuric acid. It has the appearance of a yellow oil, insoluble in, and heavier than water. The many accidents which have occurred from its use seem to be due to some decomposing quality which it possesses, and which at present is little understood. Unlike gunpowder, it burns harmlessly away when a flame is applied to it; but when heated to the temperature of boiling water, its explosive force is most violent. Many means have been suggested for rendering it less liable to spontaneous explosion, for in its crude state it cannot be stored away with any security for its good behaviour. The most successful plan is to mix it with a particular kind of porous earth, under which transformation it is known as ‘dynamite.’ On taking this solid form, it will bear comparatively rough usage, while its violent character is in no way diminished. Our readers will perhaps remember that dynamite was the agent used in that terrible explosion at Bremerhafen, which cost so many lives and such destruction of property. With fiendish ingenuity it was placed in a case together with a clockwork apparatus calculated to explode a fuse in a given time; the object of the crime being to secure the money for which the steamer that was to carry the terrible burden had been insured. By an error of calculation the explosion happened, with the most awful consequences, before the package had been removed from the quay. The practicability of employing dynamite under water has lately been demonstrated in a very shameful manner by a wholesale destruction of fish by its aid. The righteous indignation of all true anglers will most probably find vent in stopping without delay such a barbarous practice. Lithofracteur is the name of another preparation of nitro-glycerine, so like dynamite in its general properties that we need not further allude to it.

A totally different class of explosives from those which we have previously considered, are the fulminates of the different metals. They are chiefly used diluted with some other matter (such as ordinary gunpowder) for the priming of percussion caps, and for the detonating fuses which play so important a part in the firing of mines, &c. The manner of accomplishing this by the ignition of an electric fuse is, in its neatness and freedom from danger, a great contrast to the old system, where the operator had to light a slow-match, and take to his heels until distance had lent more enchantment to his position. Undiluted, the fulminates are almost useless, for the touch of a hair is sometimes sufficient to explode them; and when fired, their power is of the most terrible character. There are many other compounds which, on account of their uncontrollable nature, are of no practical value, and are never prepared except for purposes of experiment.

It will perhaps now be understood that although there is a family likeness between the various mixtures which we have mentioned, their individual behaviour is most unlike. It therefore becomes necessary in dealing with any one of them to consider first for what particular use it is required. It is possible, for instance, to charge a shell with an explosive which has the power of reducing it to tiny fragments; a result which would of course almost nullify its effect. It is sometimes perhaps necessary to throw dust in the eyes of an enemy, but certainly not in a sense so literal as this. Again, many compounds would cause a shell to burst with the concussion it receives when blown from the gun; and thus prove more destructive to friends than foes. Such an accident is next to impossible with either gunpowder or cotton. The{200} latter is employed with very startling results in combination with water in the so-called water-shells. A very small charge of compressed gun-cotton is placed in a shell, the remaining space being filled with water. In practice it is found that a shell so charged explodes into eight times as many fragments as it will when filled with gunpowder in the ordinary way. The effects of gun-cotton are different from those of powder, in that it exerts a sudden splitting power. The blasting of rocks, for instance, is often commenced with the former, which splits the mineral into cracks and fissures. These cracks are afterwards filled with powder, which detaches huge masses from their beds with a lifting power of which gun-cotton alone, is incapable.

Many plans have at various times been proposed to render explosives harmless during manufacture and transport. The suggestion of mixing pulverised glass with gunpowder is effective in separating mechanically the grains, and so preventing the initial flash from penetrating beyond the particular ones submitted to inflammation. In consequence, probably, of the exposure entailed in the mixing as well as during the subsequent process of sifting out the glass before the powder can be used, the process has not attained any practical importance. Gun-cotton, on the other hand, by being saturated with water is rendered quite inert; the subsequent process of removing the excess of moisture being free from danger. Special conditions are necessary to its explosion in a damp state, conditions not easily brought about by mere accident. Dr Sprengle has suggested several powerful explosives which claim the advantage of safety, for their constituents are harmless in themselves, and need not be blended until they are actually required for use. Concerning Schultz’s wood-powder we may perhaps have a few words to say in a future paper.

Before quitting our subject it will be in some measure a relief to reflect that the things of which we have spoken are not wholly dedicated to bloodshed. Besides their use in our mines and quarries, whereby an incalculable amount of manual labour is dispensed with, many of them are in constant requisition for the demolition of old structures, such as the piers of bridges, and for the removal of submarine structures of all kinds. In the excavations for the Suez Canal, gunpowder was largely used; and many other engineering schemes owe their ready accomplishment to the employment of a like agent. The greatest recorded undertaking of the kind is the destruction in 1876 of the Hellgate rocks, which formed such a dangerous obstruction to navigation in East River, New York. No less than sixty thousand pounds of dynamite were consumed on this occasion, the watery field of operation covering about three acres. Some years had been previously employed in making the necessary excavations for the reception of the cartridges, which were eventually fired by an electric battery of one thousand cells. The results gained quite surpassed the most sanguine expectations of the engineers engaged, and other obstructions in neighbouring rivers are shortly to receive similar treatment. Some of the good people of New York were terribly agitated at the thought even of the contemplated scheme, and left the city with the firm conviction that they would return only to find it in ruins. But the fair city still exists unharmed—with the advantage of a much-improved tideway—and the good folk alluded to are forced to acknowledge that their prognostications of evil have ended in smoke.


MR ASLATT’S WARD.

IN FOUR CHAPTERS.—CHAPTER III.

It was a strange day that followed. After much deliberation and a hard struggle with her shrinking from such a proceeding, Rose resolved to follow my advice, and make her confession to Mr Aslatt, trusting to obtain his forbearance towards the chief delinquent. She went to him in his library soon after breakfast, from which meal she had absented herself on the plea of a headache, which was no mere excuse, but the natural result of her violent weeping during the preceding night.

What passed at that interview I never knew. They were together for more than an hour. At the end of that time I heard Rose come out of the library and go slowly up-stairs. I followed her after a few minutes, thinking she might need me; but as I ascended the stairs I heard her hastily lock her door, as a security against intrusion. Shortly afterwards, as I stood at the window, I saw Mr Aslatt leave the house and cross the park in the direction in which the school-house lay. Several hours passed. Mr Aslatt did not return, and Rose’s door continued closed against me. I was beginning to feel anxious, when I received a note from Mr Aslatt, brought to the house by one of the school children, in which he briefly informed me that he was obliged to make a hasty journey to London, and would not be home till night.

I saw nothing of Rose until the dinner-hour arrived, when we sat down to table together. She strove hard to appear as usual during the meal. Her dress manifested careful arrangement, and though her cheeks were almost as pale as the white robe she wore, she looked strikingly beautiful. As long as the servant remained in the room she talked incessantly, and even laughed; but when there was no longer need to keep up an appearance of cheerfulness, her manner changed. The troubled look returned, and she grew painfully restless. The evening was passed by her in wandering from room to room, unable to settle to any occupation. Sometimes she took up a book, but only to throw it aside in impatience the next moment and go to a window, to watch with growing anxiety for Mr Aslatt’s return.

At last, when her endurance had been tried to the utmost, he came. I was grieved to see the weary saddened look his face wore when he came into the room where we both were. He seemed to have grown ten years older in one day. Rose became paler than ever as he entered. She did not move to meet him, but stood still, gazing at him with an eager questioning glance. As he approached her, I slipped out of the room, for I was sure they would wish to be alone.

The next day Mr Aslatt took me into his confidence, and freely discussed with me the difficult position in which he found himself placed in regard to Rose. Knowing her vehement attachment{201} to Mr Hammond, and having had a proof of the strength of her determination to cling to him, he shrank from paining her, and perhaps driving her to an undesirable course of action by refusing his consent to their marriage; the more so that he had made inquiries, and discovered that the assertion, which Rose so repeatedly made, namely that her lover was by birth a gentleman, was quite correct. Mr Aslatt had had some conversation with a solicitor, an elderly man, who was acquainted with Mr Hammond’s family history, and who spoke of him as a singularly unfortunate young man. His father had been a spendthrift man of pleasure, who had squandered away all his property, and been forced to sell the family estate whilst his son—whose mother had died in giving him birth—was yet a child. The self-ruined man had then pursued a disgraceful career of gambling, which had terminated in a premature death. Neglected and uncared for during his father’s lifetime, the boy was in a still more deplorable situation after his decease, and would have fared ill, if the solicitor who had managed his father’s affairs, hearing of his desolate condition, had not exerted himself to procure the lad’s admission into an orphan asylum. Here he had received a tolerable education; and at the close of his term of schooling a place had been found for him as clerk in a merchant’s office. But the occupation had not been to his taste, and at the end of a twelvemonth he took offence at some trivial occurrence, and threw up his situation.

The gentleman who had told Mr Aslatt thus much was unable to say how Mr Hammond had supported himself during the interval that had elapsed from the time of his leaving the merchant’s office to the day when he sought the post of village schoolmaster; but he believed he had resided abroad during most of the time. He had brought Mr Aslatt credentials as to his respectability and qualifications from the hand of a schoolmaster living in the north of England. Pleased with the young man’s appearance and bearing, Mr Aslatt had rather hastily concluded an engagement with him, and had not deemed it necessary to make very particular inquiries as to his antecedents. Now that he was anxious to learn more of the young man’s previous history, he found, to his disappointment, that the schoolmaster who had acted as referee had died but a few weeks before.

It may readily be imagined that Mr Aslatt was not satisfied with the information he had gleaned. There was a period of Mr Hammond’s life of which he knew nothing except that, from his own explanation, he had supported himself during those years by giving English lessons in schools and families in the neighbourhood of Berlin. Mr Aslatt felt that he had no reasonable ground for doubting the truth of the young man’s statement; yet in spite of his desire to be perfectly just, he could not divest his mind of uncomfortable suspicions. Yet there was nothing in the facts which he had learned which he could urge as a reason why Rose should consent to give up all idea of marrying Mr Hammond. The story of his unfortunate childhood and youth would but excite her warmest pity, and incline her to cling to him with greater devotion. Mr Aslatt was much perplexed how to act. He confessed to me—little guessing how well I understood his words, having divined his heart’s secret—that the thought of giving his ward to Mr Hammond was inexpressibly painful to him, for of late he had conceived an inexplicable aversion to the young man, and a feeling of distrust, which had been strengthened by the discovery of the censurable manner in which Mr Hammond had gained paramount influence over Rose. Yet he shrank from the thought of blighting the girl’s whole life, as she had passionately declared that he would, if he prevented her marrying the man she loved.

I felt much for Mr Aslatt in the painful position in which he was placed, and longed to help him, but knew not how. After some deliberation, however, we decided upon a course of action which seemed to us both the best possible under the circumstances. Without absolutely opposing the union, Mr Aslatt determined to withhold his formal consent for the space of twelve months, during which time the young people should be allowed to meet at stated intervals, if they would promise to abstain from all clandestine proceedings. At the expiration of the year, if nothing had transpired to shake Mr Aslatt’s confidence in the young schoolmaster, he pledged his word to consent to his marriage with Rose, and to do all in his power to promote their happiness. Meanwhile he proposed to find Mr Hammond some employment more in keeping with the hopes he cherished than the post he had previously held. It seemed to me that this was better treatment than the young man deserved. But it was love for Rose that prompted the arrangement, and a generous desire on her guardian’s part to shield her from suffering even at the cost of bitter pain to himself.

Before our discussion terminated, Mr Aslatt confided to me the facts concerning Rose’s parentage, which I have already related. He had never yet told them to her, he said, fearing she would over-estimate her obligation to him, which after all was merely imaginary, for whatever kindness he had shewn her had been more than compensated for by the happiness her companionship had brought him. In earlier days, when she questioned him as to her parentage, he had told her that at some future time she should know all; but of late she had made no inquiries, and he had been reluctant to say anything which might disturb their pleasant relations.

I told him that I thought she ought to know the history of her early days.

‘Do you think so?’ he said. ‘But I could not tell her now. It would seem as if I were trying to coerce her into acquiescence to my wishes by revealing claims to her gratitude. No, no; I cannot tell her now.’ After a while he added: ‘I do not believe I shall ever tell her myself; and yet she may ask me any day, and perhaps I ought not to keep her in ignorance. If ever you think it well to tell her what I have told you, Miss Bygrave, you have my permission to do so, but not at present. And pray, never let her imagine that I have great claims upon her gratitude.’

To make a long story short; the proposed arrangement was carried out. Rose humbly and thankfully agreed to wait a year for her guardian’s formal consent; and Mr Hammond made no objection, though it must have been sorely against his will. Mr Aslatt succeeded in obtaining a position in Somerset House for the young man, who was{202} therefore obliged to reside in London; though every fortnight he paid us a visit, and stayed from Saturday evening till Monday morning at the Hall. Rose always seemed to look forward with such eagerness to these fortnightly visits that it must have been very painful for Mr Aslatt to witness the delight she took in Mr Hammond’s society. But however bitter his feelings were, he carefully concealed them, and ever treated the young man with the utmost consideration and kindness. His manner to Rose betrayed nought save the tenderness of a parent; and she on her part no longer indulged in fits of petulance, but was gentle, subdued, and affectionate in her intercourse with him. Indeed she had changed from a wilful child to a thoughtful woman, since the memorable night when I had saved her from committing a rash act. Mr Hammond’s demeanour also had improved. He no longer bore himself haughtily, but strove by a humble and becoming deportment to reinstate himself in Mr Aslatt’s good opinion.

As time passed on I came to entertain for him a kindlier feeling, though I could not anticipate with any pleasure the expiration of the probationary period which rapidly drew nigh. Winter came and went; spring returned to gladden the land; the summer months succeeded, and it wanted but a few weeks to the day Rose was so eagerly expecting. Mr Hammond was staying for a few days at the Hall, and one lovely afternoon Rose proposed that we should ride over to Ashdene and spend a few hours in wandering amongst the ruins. We all agreed to the proposal, and were soon ready to start. On our way thither, Rose and Mr Hammond took the lead, and Mr Aslatt and I followed a few paces behind. It was becoming more and more difficult for Mr Aslatt to maintain a cheerful demeanour. In Rose’s presence, he always made the effort, but out of her sight he frequently fell into a gloomy mood. He scarcely made a remark during our ride to Ashdene; and after a few attempts to draw him into conversation, I left him to himself. Arrived at Ashdene, we left our horses at the inn, and proceeded to the ruined Priory. Rose was as gay as a bird that afternoon; her laugh rang through the deserted corridors as she flitted from one part of the ruins to another, followed by Mr Hammond.

I wandered away by myself, feeling sure that Mr Aslatt would not require my company, and indeed would feel more at ease if left alone. After a while I found myself within the four walls inclosing what had once been the chapter-house. Glancing through a window much mutilated, but rendered beautiful by the ivy which festooned its broken shafts and crumbling arches, I perceived Rose and her lover sauntering over the green turf, a few yards from the wall within which I stood. At the same moment I became aware that I was not the only one observing them. Close to where I stood, but on the other side of the wall, sheltered from view on all sides save the one which I commanded, by the angle of a projecting doorway, stood a woman. Her tall gaunt figure was clad in a silk dress which had once been black, but was now rusty with age, and frayed and torn with frequent wear. A bonnet of the same hue and equally shabby, rested at the back of her head, and did not conceal the thick black hair which fell loosely over her forehead. But I scarcely noted her apparel at first, so much was I attracted by her strange weird face. She was very pale, but her eyes were intensely bright with a scorching burning brilliancy, which suggested the possibility of madness. They were gleaming with hatred as I looked at her, for there was no mistaking the expression of her white haggard countenance, even if the angry tone in which she muttered to herself words that I could not catch, and the clenched fist which she was shaking after the retreating figures, had not revealed her mind. As I watched her in considerable amazement and fear, she suddenly turned and beheld me. For a few moments she returned my gaze defiantly, as if questioning my right to watch her. Then moved by a sudden impulse, she advanced with rapid strides to the window at which I stood, and laying her hand on mine as it rested on the sill, demanded in a hoarse voice: ‘Who is the young lady walking with that man?’ pointing as she spoke to the distant pair.

‘I cannot answer that question,’ I replied, ‘unless you tell me what reason you have for asking it.’

‘What reason?’ she repeated. ‘The most powerful of all reasons. But tell me only this: does she think to marry him? That at least I have a right to know. Ah! you do not answer. You cannot deny it: I can read the truth in your face. And so he intends to marry that pretty fair-haired girl, does he? Ha, ha, ha!’ And she laughed a wild laugh, which filled me with horror as I heard it.

‘Who are you?’ I exclaimed. ‘And what do you mean by such words?’

‘Who am I?’ she reiterated. ‘You shall know soon. I will tell you all, but not now. He must be by, or my revenge will not be complete. But there is no time to lose.’ So saying, she walked hastily away, in spite of my efforts to detain her, and quickly disappeared round the corner of the chapter-house. In great consternation, I also quitted the spot and hastened in search of my companions. I found them at no great distance; Mr Aslatt, Rose, and Mr Hammond seated on some stones a little way beyond the Priory, chatting together and looking out for me.

‘Where have you been?’ exclaimed Rose as I approached. ‘We were beginning to fear you were lost.’

‘I think it is about time for us to return home,’ said Mr Aslatt, as he looked at his watch.

‘I am quite ready,’ I replied; for I felt such dread of the strange woman making her appearance, that I longed to get away from the place.

‘Oh, do not let us go yet!’ exclaimed Rose; ‘it is so delightful here.’ As she spoke she took off her hat, and the light evening breeze played at will amongst her sunny tresses. Her face was radiant with happiness, as all unsuspicious of coming woe she sat there; when suddenly a hand was laid on her arm, and a low hoarse voice startled us all with the words: ‘That man by your side is a liar, and a traitor, fair lady!’

It was the woman I had already seen. She had come through the ruin behind us, and managed to approach unseen as we sat with our faces turned in another direction. Had some explosive missile been suddenly thrown into our midst it could not have produced greater consternation than did these words. For a moment we were all speechless from{203} bewilderment. But the next, Rose recovered herself, and the blood rushed in an angry torrent to her face, as shaking off the woman’s hand, she exclaimed indignantly: ‘How dare you? What right have you to say such words?’

‘The right of one who knows him far better than you can—for he is my husband!

‘It is false!’ broke from Rose’s quivering lips, as she turned appealingly to Mr Hammond; but alas! his pallid face betrayed an agitation which seemed to confirm the woman’s statement.

‘This woman is mad,’ he said, striving hard to maintain his composure.

But Rose heeded not his words. She knew intuitively that the worst was true. Mr Aslatt was at her side in a moment, assuring her, as he tenderly supported her fainting form, that she need not fear, for the woman’s story should not be believed without full proof. But she made no reply; indeed I doubt whether she heard what he said, for Nature kindly came to her relief, and she sank into unconsciousness.


LUNDY ISLAND.

At the mouth of the Bristol Channel, off the pleasant western English shore, fighting as it were with the long white waves of the Atlantic, and with its lighthouse warning the mariner to give it ample range, stands the lonely little island of Lundy, between Devon on the south and the coast of Wales on the north; while from the island’s granite cliffs, looking towards the western horizon, stretches the open Atlantic. It is a very little place; only three and a half miles in length by an average of one half mile in width, and of an extreme altitude of a trifle over five hundred feet. The top is an undulating table-land; the sides slope down green with ferns, and in the blossoming-time bright with flowers, to rocks, on the eastern side of from one hundred and fifty to two hundred feet in height; while to the west the cliffs, rich with orange, yellow, and gray lichens, are tumbled in strange confusion, and present a scene of wild and precipitous grandeur. Of the three thousand acres of which the island consists, about five hundred are under cultivation, and produce turnips and cereal crops, besides grass; the remainder is gorse and heather, which, however, is now also in course of being brought into cultivation. Of farm-produce Lundy also rears poultry, sheep, and cattle.

In 1877, the population consisted of between forty and fifty individuals, consisting of the proprietor and his family and household, a farmer and a dozen farm-labourers, three lighthouse-men, and two signal-station-men; besides which the islet boasts of a doctor and a clergyman—though not of a church. The owner Mr W. H. Hearen purchased the property in 1834, and has since, for the most part, resided on his sea-girt rock.

Solitary and little known as Lundy now is, it was once a place of considerable importance. Of its earliest history indeed nothing is ascertained; even its name cannot be exactly traced, and the suggestion that would derive it from the Norse has not met with entire acceptance. Some years since a discovery was made on the island which would have been of more than local interest had the occurrence been duly reported to any of the scientific societies, and thoroughly investigated. Some workmen in digging a foundation for a wall, exhumed two skeletons, which excited wonder from the unusual size of the bones, and from the curious manner of their interment. The larger skeleton, after careful (but unscientific) measurement, was found to be eight feet three inches in height; while the other, though smaller, was yet of no ordinary stature. It has been thought that probably some mistake has been made through want of skill in the measurements; these interesting relics were inclosed in stone slabs, according to a primitive fashion.

The time when Lundy comes clearly in view is of much later date. The noble House of Montmorency (or De Marisco, as the English branch of the family was called) was in earliest recorded possession of the island. The De Mariscos seem to have been a restless turbulent set, a weariness and a grief to their liege lords, two of whom, namely Henry II. and John, respectively made and confirmed a grant of the island as forfeited to the crown (for the misdemeanours of the De Mariscos of their days) to the Knights Templar. The Knights, however, never had it actually in their hands—the De Mariscos proving too wily or too strong for ejectment. Be this as it may, it is recorded that a Sir William de Marisco, of sad piratical proclivities and practice, after a fruitless attempt to murder his sovereign Henry III., retired to his stronghold of Lundy, and there flourished until he was captured by the king’s forces, and summarily put to death. The ruins of his castle at Lundy still bear his name, and perched on the cliff top, commanding a wide sea and coast view, and overlooking the roadstead and single good landing-place of the island, shew what a post of vantage he must have held. Cottages nestle now for shelter from the wild winter winds, within the thick walls of the old keep; and the little gray beach below, shut in by towering precipice and pinnacled rock, tells no tale of former times.

When the troublous days of difference between Charles I. and his parliament darkened the land, Lundy held out stoutly for the king; and when at length, in the fainting of the king’s fortunes, Thomas Bushell the governor writes for permission to surrender it quietly, he concludes his letter with words worthy of remembrance, however obscure the scene and the actor: ‘But if otherwise your Majesty shall require my longer stay here, be confident, Sir, I shall sacrifice both life and fortune before the loyalty of your obedient servant, Thomas Bushell.’ Charles replied from Newcastle, the shadow of his fate already upon him: ‘Bushell—We have perused your letter, in which we finde thy care to answer thy trust we first reposed in thee. Now, since the place is inconsiderable{204} in itself … we do hereby give you leave to use your discretion in it, with this caution, that you do take example from ourselves, and be not over-credulous of vain promises, which hath made us great only in our sufferings, and will not discharge our debts.’

In subsequent times the island seems to have relapsed into its old wild piratical courses. Complaints many and bitter are made against it. As before it had been a refuge for outcasts, so now it became a harbour for privateers, ‘who put terror into all vessels;’ ‘much shooting’ being heard there also on occasion. For a time it falls into the hands of the French, and is generally a terrible thorn in the sides of the prosperous west country. The next name, however, which has left any local memorial is that of Thomas Benson, a gentleman of North Devon, who renting the island from Lord Gower, made free use of it for his smuggling ventures. A large cave under the castle, where he is said to have stored his contraband goods, is still called ‘Benson’s Cave,’ and must have afforded ample room for many a ‘run cargo.’ To Lundy too he exported such convicts as he was under contract with government to convey to America, and employed them in building walls, saying it ‘was all as well as elsewhere, seeing it was out of England.’ Finally, however, he ceased to enjoy the prosperity of the wicked, and being discovered in a nefarious scheme to rob the insurance offices, he fled to Portugal, where he died. Since then, excepting for some free fighting between Welsh and Irish, the island has had little to recall its stormier days, and appears to have faded out of the public memory—so completely, that the ‘taxed British hoof,’ to use Emerson’s bland expression, leaves no impress on its soil, and the civilised miseries of rates are unknown; though whether the omission is due to a lingering remnant of its old sovereignty, or to its present insignificance, we know not.

In its geological aspect, Lundy seems to be allied to Devonshire, consisting chiefly of granite and slate. Both granite and slate are alike intersected by numerous dikes, varying from one to thirty feet in width, running from east to west, and described as ‘belonging to a grand system of intrusive greenstone.’

Some years ago the granite was worked by a Company, who brought stone-cutters from Scotland, and opened quarries at considerable expense; but the affair is said to have been ill-managed, and the works were closed at a loss. Copper has been found at the junction of the slate and granite at the south end; but the island has been so shaken here and in various other parts by some terrible convulsion of nature, that it is considered improbable that any lode could be profitably followed up. The effects of this convulsion are peculiarly manifested on the western side, between the ‘Quarter’ and ‘Halfway’ walls. Many rents are visible in the solid rock. One large cleft, fern-fringed and flower-bedecked, stands up like a perpendicular wall of some fifty feet on the upper side; the lower, broken and split, has slipped away from it in tumbled rock and treacherous crevice. Below this again is a second, deeper opening. At one end is a narrow entrance, leading by a steep scrambling descent into the yawning chasm. A few green things grow in the chinks and cracks, and sparse tufts of long grass mark the footway. The walls, a little apart, and sloping slightly outwards, are clean cut as by some giant’s sword. The air is chill out of the sunshine, and the strip of sky overhead looks blue and clear between its two dark boundaries. Among the natural curiosities of the island is a mass of granite resembling a human head, with lineaments so perfect, that it is difficult to believe that Art has not supplemented Nature in its formation. The grave face looking seawards, like a watching knight (The Knight Templar as it is called), has probably been the work of many centuries of subtle influences, disintegration by wind and weather—as in the case of the ‘Old Man of Hoy,’ which looks out on the Pentland Firth—being the chief. The soil of the island is principally of a black peaty nature, with in parts a substratum of clay. And that the land has been anciently extensively cultivated is shewn by traces of the plough where now there is only wild pasturage. Ruins of round towers (for what purposes designed is unknown), and of humble dwelling-places, are also visible.

The flora of Lundy is extremely interesting, but has never been exhaustively treated. Masses of broom and gorse (Ulex Europeus) glow like living lights on the ‘sidelands’ in the spring-time; or in early autumn, the latter’s dwarf relative (Ulex nanus) weaves, with heath and heather, carpets gorgeous beyond those of Eastern looms. Thrift (Armeria vulgaris) lies in breadths of pinky bloom, and blue-bells climb like a tender mist along the valleys and slopes. Regal foxgloves tower not only over their own kindred, but above the usual stature of man; and the Osmunda regalis, crowned among ferns, waves its lovely fronds in the pure sea-breeze. Thickets of honeysuckle make the sunshine a fragrance; and the beautiful bladder campion hangs like snow-wreaths from the rocks.

With vegetation so luxuriant in for the most part a mild equable temperature, the insect world is, as would be supposed, a numerous one. The beetle tribe alone, however, has been fully examined. Mr Wollaston, who visited the island many years ago (and is still remembered there as ‘the beetle-catcher’), remarks on the richness of this order of insects and the rarity of the specimens he found there. He also mentions the curious fact, which, however, has been since modified, that the coleopterous fauna of Lundy is quite dissimilar to that of Devonshire, its nearest neighbour, resembling much in character that of Wales. Mr J. B. Chanter of Barnstaple (to whose comprehensive monograph on Lundy we have been indebted for this paper) furnishes some notes regarding certain rare insects found on the island.

The ornithological fauna of Lundy is said to be very remarkable. Amongst the rarer feathered visitants may be mentioned the rose-coloured pastor, the buff-breasted sandpiper, the golden oriole, Bohemian waxwing, hoopoe, &c. Feathered songsters too abound; and when ‘the time of the singing of the birds is come,’ the air is stirred with their{205} thousand lyrics. But the chief feathered inhabitants of the island are the sea-birds, the variety of which, as at St Kilda, would well repay a visit of the ornithologist.


BY-LAW No. 7.

I have only two companions—the one a good-natured-looking, middle-aged gentleman with a mild benevolent expression, strangely at variance with the nervous restlessness of his eyes; the other a grim taciturn man, who has been absorbed in his paper ever since the train left Edinburgh en route for the South. They had got in together, and were evidently travelling companions. Rather a queerly assorted couple; for from their dress and general appearance there could be no doubt but that their stations in life were widely apart. What could they be? Master and servant? Evidently not; for the humbler of the two seemed to have control of all their travelling arrangements. A detective and his prisoner? I think not; for the one looks too much at ease to have a troubled conscience; and the other, though evidently in command, treats his companion with more deference than is compatible with the conscious power of a captor.

My speculations on this point have filled up a gap in the journey. Having read all the war telegrams in the morning paper, which I know I will find contradicted in the evening editions when I reach London; and having watched the telegraph wires gliding up and down beside the carriage-window, anon disappearing suddenly into space, only to reappear as suddenly to continue their monotonous up-and-down motion, I am beginning to weary of this, and if neither of my companions volunteers a remark, I must do something to force a conversation.

We are past Dunbar by this time, and are fast approaching Berwick. I have been vainly trying to catch the restless eyes of my apparently more companionable companion. He is now closing them, and evidently settling down for a quiet nap. My more taciturn friend has never taken his attention off his paper; he must either be a very slow reader, or having exhausted the news, he must have fallen on the advertisements. I offer him my paper. He takes it with a bow, giving me his own in exchange—The Banffshire Gazette. No news to be got out of that after having exhausted The Scotsman. I am soon reduced to the births, marriages, and deaths. Much interested to know that the wife of Hugh Macdonald stone-mason has presented him with a son; also to hear that Mrs M‘Queen is dead; and the nursery rhyme I sometimes hear my wife repeating to our boys occurs to me, and I mentally inquire, ‘How did she die?’ The announcement does not, however, enlighten me on that point; though it is easy to guess, seeing that it contains the further information that she departed this life at one hundred and one years of age, and is deeply regretted. The latter assertion I fear is only a conventional fib, for I find in a paragraph announcing her death as a local centenarian, that she had great possessions, which have fallen to her nearest surviving relative, a great-grand-nephew.

My friend opposite is fairly off to sleep. Quite clear that he has nothing on his conscience. The other is as deep in The Scotsman as he was erewhile in his own paper. I can’t stand this any longer. Talk I must. The Banffshire Gazette is published in the county town bearing the same name; so I see my way to an opening.

‘You come from Banff, I presume? You must have been travelling all night? No wonder our friend here is worn out.’

‘We have come from Banff,’ replies my friend, with no trace of the churl in his voice or manner that his appearance would lead me to expect. ‘We have come from Banff; but we have not travelled all night. Our governor makes it a point never to over-fatigue any of his patients. It’s part of his system; so we broke our journey at Edinburgh.’

His patients! I would as soon have suspected my opposite neighbour of being a criminal as an invalid.

‘Indeed,’ I say. ‘Might I inquire what is his complaint?’

My taciturn friend touches his head in a mysterious way, and I am just in time to stop a low whistle indicative of surprise, and to turn it into another ‘Indeed.’

‘What particular form does his—ahem—complaint take?’

I am beginning to hope he is not violent.

‘Generosity.’

‘Generosity?’

‘Yes, sir. You see he gets all sorts of schemes into his head for the relief of suffering of all kinds; and his friends, fearing he might make ducks and drakes of his money, have put him under the care of our governor.’

‘Is he wealthy?’

‘Very.’

‘Are his friends quite disinterested?’

‘Well, I don’t know. But at anyrate they are quite right. He might fall into the hands of unprincipled people, who would help out his schemes to further their own.’

‘What is his latest plan?’

‘Well, sir, his last idea was, that ambitious people who had failed in their aims—such as authors whose books were roughly handled by the critics, artists whose works did not meet with the appreciation they expected, actors whose genius was not universally recognised, and suchlike—were a great bore to society, and in their turn were inclined to shun the world; so he proposed building a retreat where all such could retire to seclusion—a kind of Agapemone, you see, sir.’

‘If he had found a scanty population for his rural settlement, it would nevertheless not be for the lack of such people.’

‘Just so, sir.’

‘Do you consider his a hopeless case?’

‘I fear so, sir. He’s one of the quiet sort, you see. More violent cases are often easier to deal with. Our governor turned out a rare wild one quite cured the other day.’

‘What was his treatment?’

‘Letting him have his own way. It’s part of our governor’s system; but it was rather risky in this case.’

I feel interested, and I intimate as much.

‘Well, sir, Captain B—— had been down with the yellow fever in the West Indies, and it was such a severe attack that the doctors gave him up as a bad job, and handed him over to the black nurses to do what they could for him. They{206} pulled him through, but with such strong doses of quinine, that before he was convalescent his reason was gone. His was suicidal mania—about the worst kind we have to do with, for the patient always has his victim handy if he can only get the means. They had a rare job to get him over to England; and when he was first put under the governor’s care, he was about the worst case we had. The governor studied him carefully, and found that letting him have his own way was the only thing that did him any good. He was very fond of bathing; and by-and-by, when he began to mend a little, he was allowed to go to a river near our place. Of course I always went too, and kept a pretty sharp eye on him. However, this did not suit him; so one day he goes to the governor and says: “Dr ——, it is not congenial to my feelings as a gentleman, always to have that fellow with me when I take my bath; I would much prefer privacy.” The governor tried to put him off; but the contradiction had a bad effect on him. Now one of the governor’s theories is, that at a certain stage of the complaint, if you can humour patients, they have every chance of recovery; cross them, and it is gone. “Captain B——,” says he, “I know that if you pass your word to me, you will keep it like a man of honour; so if you will give me your word as an officer and gentleman that if I let you go alone you will return to me in an hour and report yourself, I will let you go.” Captain B—— gave his word as required, and every day he used to do the same, always coming to give his word of honour, and returning each day to report himself, proud of being trusted. It was rather risky treatment for a suicidal patient, but it succeeded. He’s as well now, sir, as you or I.

‘There was another case we had, quite different’——

I have settled myself into a listening attitude; but my friend has suddenly ceased. Looking up, I find my opposite neighbour has just awakened; and his attendant having perhaps no other topic of conversation than his professional experiences, which he no doubt rightly considers an inappropriate subject to discuss before one of his charges, has relapsed to his perusal of The Scotsman, nor do I hear another word from him till he bids me good-day at York.

‘Grantham, Grantham!’

I have been following the example of the generous lunatic, and taking a nap which almost deserves the name of a sleep. I awake to the glorious conviction that I am nearing my journey’s end, and have unconsciously got over about one hundred miles of loneliness. I have still some hours before me yet, however, and seem doomed to perform that part of the journey solus. What shall I do to fill up the time? Happy thought! Smoke! But this is not a smoking compartment, and by-law No. 7 says ‘that any person smoking in any carriage other than a smoking carriage shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding forty shillings.’ Bother by-law No. 7!

I call the guard. The first-class smoking compartment is full. Well, what’s to be done? A small business transaction between the guard and myself; beginning with my hand in my pocket and ending with his in his; and he suggests that as I am all alone and by his favour likely to be so, I may as well smoke where I am. I light up amidst evident preparations for a start, and am quietly settling down to the enjoyment of my cigar when the door hurriedly opens and I have a companion—a man about my own height and age, altogether not very unlike me. (I am of that mediocre mould in which nature has formed so many of my fellow-creatures.)

I am to have a companion after all. Well, so much the better. It will be somebody to talk to and pass the time. I wonder if he is as taciturn as my companions at the outset of the journey. Evidently not; he is recovering his breath after his hurry, and is preparing to address me.

‘I’ll trouble you to put that cigar out, sir! I object to smoke.’

‘But, sir’——

‘Here, guard! Tell this person to put his cigar out at once. This is not a smoking compartment.’

‘Plenty of room in the next carriage, sir. Would you mind stepping in there?’

‘Yes; I would mind. By-law No. 7 says, &c. &c.,’ says my companion, standing blocking up the doorway and arguing with the guard.

‘Very sorry, sir; but you must put out your cigar.’

‘Can’t I go into the next carriage?’

‘Two ladies in there, sir—old ladies!’

‘Have you any empty compartment?’

‘We’re just off, sir,’ says the guard, slamming to the door, and the next minute we are spinning on our way to Peterborough.

Shall I put out my cigar? I have been alluded to as a ‘person.’ I have been addressed in a dictatorial manner, which has the very reverse of a soothing influence on me. I feel ruffled and obstinate. Had I been asked politely, my Havana had been out of the window in a twinkling. Shall I put it out or infringe by-law No. 7, and be fined forty shillings? I will finish my cigar, and abide by the consequences.

My companion is evidently as unaccustomed to opposition as I am to dictation, and for a few minutes he stares at me dumbfounded, then he lets fly his own version of King James’s Counterblast against Tobacco. On my part I preserve an obstinate silence. My companion pulls up the window on his side; I put up that on mine, which produces a violent fit of coughing on his part, when down go both windows in a hurry.

We have arrived at Peterborough, and the guard is again called. I have almost finished my cigar, and I throw the end away. My companion cannot let the matter rest, however, and when we are started again, he reads me another lecture, couched in such unacceptable terms that for reply I light another cigar.

‘Sir, here is my card; and I insist upon knowing your name and address.’

I take his card, open my card-case, put his card in, and return the case to my pocket without giving him my card in exchange. I finish my cigar amidst a volley of threats of getting my name and address by force.

We are at Finsbury Park now, and tickets are being collected. This is the nearest station to my home, and here I intend to leave the train. My companion follows me up the platform, and calls the guard to take my name and address. Being under the scrutiny of the other passengers, who evidently think I have got into trouble for card-sharping, and having made up my mind to pay the penalty, I lose no time in giving my card.

{207}

At home I am received with open arms, and I am hurried into the dining-room by my boys to inspect a device over the sideboard for my especial benefit—‘Welcome’ in blue letters on a white ground. My wife is full of inquiries after all our friends in Edinburgh, and what sort of a journey I have had.

Having informed her that individually and collectively all our friends are as well as could be expected, considering the wintry weather they have had, and that all were as kind and hospitable as ever, I briefly tell her of my smoking adventure.

‘And who was your companion?’ asks my wife.

‘How should I know?’

‘Why, you have his card.’

‘To be sure; I quite forgot that,’ say I, producing my card-case. I search it through carefully, but no card, other than my own, can I find.

‘I know I put it in here. Why, bless me! I must have given it to the guard instead of my own. How odd!’

I have almost dismissed the adventure from my mind, when a few days later my wife, in skimming over the paper at the breakfast-table, breaks out into a merry laugh. What on earth can she find so amusing in any other than the ‘Agony’ column? which I can see is not the portion under perusal. It is the police reports, and she hands me the paper, pointing out the place for my attention.

‘At the —— Police Court, J—— B—— of Verandah House, Crouch Hill, was summoned by the Great Northern Railway Company for smoking in a carriage not a smoking carriage, to the annoyance of other passengers. The guard having proved identity, and the accused’s card, given up by himself, being put in as corroborative evidence, the magistrate asked the defendant if he had anything to say in reply. An attempt was made to prove that the accused was really the complainant, and that he had given the card produced to the real offender; which the magistrate characterised as an impudently lame defence, and fined the defendant in the full penalty of forty shillings.’

‘My dear,’ says my wife.

‘Well, my dear?’ I respond.

‘Verandah House is that pretty place that has just been finished a little farther up the hill. Don’t you think that you behaved in rather an unneighbourly manner?’

‘Did our neighbour behave any better?’

‘At all events he has suffered unjustly. This cannot be allowed to pass. Don’t you think you had better call and apologise?’

‘Well, I’ll think about it.’

On my way home from the station that evening I rang the visitor’s bell at Verandah House, and was in due course ushered into the presence of the eccentric proprietor. Our recognition was mutual; and as my neighbour approached me, I prepared to put myself in a defensive attitude. His hand, however, was not extended to commit an assault, and before I could stammer out the elaborate apology I had prepared, I was forestalled by a hearty shake of the hand and an apology from the quondam fire-eater!

Under such circumstances it may easily be guessed that a satisfactory understanding was soon arrived at, and an exchange of invitations to spend the remainder of the evening in each other’s society ended in my returning home with my neighbour as my guest. I am very partial to an after-dinner cigar. Having already committed myself, however, I determined to practise a little self-denial; but what was my surprise, when I had carried off my neighbour to my study to shew him a few rare volumes of which I am almost as proud as I am of my children, to see my friend produce a cigar-case, and not only offer me the means of indulging my favourite weakness, but himself preparing to join in it.

‘You may well look surprised,’ said he; ‘but in truth I am an inveterate smoker. I passed many years of my life in Havana, and these cigars—which I venture to say you will find remarkably good—are of my own importing.’

‘But you expressed such contrary opinions the other day.’

‘The fact is, that when in the West Indies I suffered from a severe attack of yellow fever, and the remedial appliances so affected my mind that for some time I had to be placed under restraint. Thanks to the skill of a clever practitioner, I am cured; but my old malady still shews itself in occasional fits of uncontrollable obstinacy.’

‘I beg your pardon,’ say I; ‘but are you not a military man?’

‘Yes; I was captain in the ——th Regiment.’

Captain B——! My mind reverts to the story I had heard on the morning of our first meeting. But was our friend as thoroughly cured as his ex-keeper seemed to imagine? I can’t say, but I know that he is an excellent neighbour. He treats his misadventure as a capital joke; and it is likely to be a stock story for the rest of his life how he was fined forty shillings by the railway company, because another passenger had infringed by-law No. 7!


THE LITTLE DOG MATCH.

Fifty years ago my great-grandmother sat in the porch of her cottage, looking with pleasure on the fragrant flowers growing in her garden and listening to the song of her canaries hanging over her head. It was a sultry August evening; and gradually the sky overcast, a solemn stillness stole over the scene, while large drops of rain and heavy claps of thunder denoted the approach of a storm. She rose and removed her birds to the interior of the cottage. On returning to the open door she saw a woman dragging wearily up the garden-path followed by a lean and hungry-looking dog.

‘For the love of mercy, ma’am,’ began the tramp, ‘please to buy a box or two of matches of a poor woman, for I’ve not tasted food this blessed day.’

My great-grandmother looked at her with pity. Benevolence formed a large ingredient in her character. Here stood a fellow-creature whose forlorn appearance and sickly countenance denoted her condition as plainly as her words; while the famished animal beside her was evidently unable to travel farther. The good old lady spoke at once in her primitive hospitality.

‘Come in, poor soul, and sit ye down and rest. A storm is coming up. Here, take this meal, and enjoy it. You are truly welcome.’

{208}

She busied herself in setting food before the wanderer, and then turned to the wanderer’s companion, her dog. ‘The poor dumb beast is nearly dead,’ she said; and amid the violence of the storm she exercised the bidding of the apostle to the best of her ability.

As soon as the tempest subsided the woman rose to go, full of gratitude for the kindness shewn her. The dog reposed comfortably on a rug, and seemed indisposed to quit his new home.

‘Would you care to have the dog, mistress?’ said the owner. ‘He’s none so handsome; but he’d guard thy house; and it’s part we must, sooner or later. He’ll have a blessed exchange, that’s certain.’

My great-grandmother thanked her and expressed her pleasure at the prospect of keeping the dog. The woman went her way; her canine companion stayed in his new home, and was, in remembrance of his former owner, named Match. He proved faithful and affectionate to his mistress, and soon learned to distinguish her particular friends; while to members of her family he ever paid the greatest attention, trotting regularly every day to see her daughter, my grandmother, who lived in the next village, about a mile apart. He would, if the front-door was open, walk through the house to the part where the family lived, receive and return their greetings, walk to a particular mat which lay at the foot of the staircase, lie down for a time, and then return.

After he had lived some years with my aged relative, a nephew of hers from the border of Sherwood Forest, came to pay her a visit, and witnessing the intelligence and fidelity of Match, begged him as a present. Very loath she was to part from her faithful friend; but the entreaties of her favourite nephew prevailed, and when he returned home he took the dog with him. His journey was performed partly by stage-wagons, partly on foot. Finally he wrote to announce his safe arrival at home, with Match. Three weeks later, as my grandmother and her daughters sat at work one afternoon with open doors and windows, the apparition of an emaciated dog stumbled over the threshold, crawled feebly through the room to his accustomed corner, and sank exhausted upon the mat, too far gone to do more than raise his eyes for sympathy to his well-known friends. There was a great outcry. ‘It is poor Match!’ Work was thrown aside and all gathered round the dog. His bleeding feet were bathed, and some milk given him, which he drank eagerly, afterwards licking the hands outstretched to help; then, with a sigh of relief and contentment, he fell asleep, and stirred not all night. But in the early morning, with a joyous bark, he bounded off through the doorway, and swiftly made his way to his dear old home, where he was received with every demonstration of delight, which he returned with interest.

From that time to the day of his death, some years later, Match was regarded as a hero, having travelled more than one hundred miles on foot, a road over which he had passed only once. Afterwards it transpired that he had experienced a beating for attempting to escape previously; and when his flight was discovered, it was at once conjectured whither he had gone, although it was considered impossible for him to accomplish the journey. Like many humble heroes, Match never played a prominent part out of his own circle; but among the family in which he lived his name is handed down as an instance of true fidelity. He had no pretensions to beauty, being a sandy-coloured dog with short rough hair; but must have possessed great powers of endurance and a wonderful memory.


PHONOGRAPH ODDITIES.

Professor Fleeming Jenkin has applied the phonograph to a very interesting series of observations on the wave-forms of articulate sound. By a process of enlargement of the vibrations caused by the indented tinfoil, he, with the assistance of Mr J. A. Ewing, has obtained a large series of markings, upon bands of paper, by which the wave-forms of different sounds have been shewn. Some of those results Professor Jenkin has laid before the Royal Society of Edinburgh. The vowel sounds in the phonograph are found not to be dependent on the speed with which the cylinder of the phonograph is turned, the distinct vowel being heard however much the pitch of the note may be altered. He found that the phonograph resolutely refused to reproduce the French u, converting it always into the sound of oo. On the black-board, Professor Jenkin illustrated some of the constant forms assumed by the sound-waves, one of the most interesting being those of the letter r. In the case of the broad sound of a, it was shewn that while with most ordinary voices the wave took the form which might be described as having two humps, a rich bass voice had been found to give a wave-form much more intricate, shewing four distinct humps in each recurrent period of vibration. It was found that the phonograph gave vowel sounds, as well when the cylinder was turned backwards as forwards; and encouraged by this, the consonants were experimented upon, giving the same result. Even with a consonant at the beginning and end of a syllable, as, for example, bab, it was rather unexpectedly found that the word would be correctly repeated either way; shewing the identity of the sound. Professor Jenkin gave some amusement by describing the effects of reading words backwards, stating that with careful observation every sound could be heard, as, for example, in ‘Association,’ which, when the cylinder was reversed, could be distinctly heard as ‘nosh-a-i-sho-sa.’ In ‘Edinburgh’—which he said Mr Ewing could pronounce backwards, though he could not—the various sounds could also be distinguished. Words and sentences which when pronounced backwards or forwards sound the same, were tried. Thus was tried the well-known sentence, ‘Madam, I’m Adam,’ with which Adam is traditionally alleged to have saluted Eve; but ‘Madam, I’m Adam,’ although spelt the same both ways, did not sound the same in the phonograph, the diphthongal sound of the ‘I’m’ giving a sound like ‘mya.’ It is obvious from Professor Fleeming Jenkin’s experiments that some interesting points in acoustics may yet be settled by means of this extraordinary instrument.


Printed and Published by W. & R. Chambers, 47 Paternoster Row, London, and 339 High Street, Edinburgh.


All Rights Reserved.


[Transcriber’s note: the following changes have been made to this text.

Page 206: repeated word “an” corrected—“an hour and report”.]